Saturday, March 26, 2011

The trip that NEVER ends . . .

. . . or at least, the reporting of the trip that never ends. That's right, you thought this was over but Barcelona had barely begun! Looking back now it seems as if it never happened but oh, the fun that was had - - -
We both could never get enough of the beach - it was amazing!

Proof we were there:)

One of the most beautiful cities at night -
Can you see La Sagrada Familia?
Having our breakfast before we head out (we also were able to take a little for lunch, shhhh:)
Walking into Plaza Espana

Looking towards the Palace -

This one is for you Marcos - we found Honeynut!

I could totally live there - like right on those palace steps -

Riding the rails, the skyrails, on our way to Montjuic -

Nothing seems to interesting to me . . . yet

Castle entrance - starting to get interesting!

Taking a little lunch break and looking out on the view - breathtaking (my mother, not the water!)

Having some mate with our lunch - - -

until we could not take it any more and had to leave the view

- to become Julie Andrews. We lost it and began to see ourselves

needing to defend the castle! The enemy was on its way,

and we needed Stefan! He was our first line of defense from the many, crazy

arrows that were coming our way!

Now . . . stay tuned for tomorrow and some life changing videos - hint: Susy sings!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

19+11= 19+11= 19+11=



Thirty years is a long time to know someone. I heard one time that sibling relationships are the longest relationships that we have through our lives, I am grateful forever that Gabby is one of my three long standing connections. From childhood he was my best friend, the person with whom all my crazy adventures took place. Growing older and getting into high school for some siblings would be a time of separation, but not for us - Gabby made sure of that. He was cool, funny and popular; I was shy, awkward and at times a loner. My happy Sweet Valley High moments only happened because he included me and saw me as cool and made sure his friends knew it -- three of my best high school friends were his first.

I remember a particular lunch hour that meant the world to me. I was sitting in the entryway reading and observing all the varying groups that high school brings and suddenly, before me, was one of the most popular student body officers. When you are a freshman, any senior, especially the SBO's, are the tops! He asked me how I was and handed me an envelope, saying someone asked him to surprise me. Opening the envelope I found two tickets to Matchbox 20 (seriously cool for the late 90's - don;t judge! :) and a note, "It would be the greatest if you would come with me!" I was stunned and excited and asked who it was from, Gabriel came in from outside at that moment with his typical grin and asked me, "Well, you excited? Will you come with me?"

Gabby - you made me feel cool then and I still feel happy now when I think of all the great times had and the future to come! Thank you big brother and happy birthday! Maybe I can pay you back and send you to this concert -

Better yet . . . . watch this - - -

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Goodness . . .

I write with gratitude this morning – Gratitude to God, gratitude to community, gratitude that I live in a place where “a friend in need is most defiantly a friend indeed”. I also write to do what Elder Eyring has said in “preserv[ing] memories for the day that I, and those I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him.” Remembering the blessings of God and learning to recognize his love towards us, His children, becomes paramount in a day in which we forget easily that which is good, and seem to see only the pain that lies in wait to engulf us on every side.

The need to help, I believe, is innate to the human experience. Images flash across our televisions from far off lands overcome by the harsh reality of Mother Nature’s power – Chile, Hati, New Zealand and most recently Japan; we also glimpse the darkness of manmade pain in the form of wars, genocides, murder and all other forms of human depravity. It is in those moments I believe our hearts yearn to assist, to comfort, to sustain . . . but how? I live so far away, what can my contribution do? There are so many in need, it is too overwhelming. Cynicism can at times take over when we see such great needs and see a faltering in those needs being met. For that reason I am grateful that I was able to witness, on a smaller scale, that help does come.

Rain became an issue for our tiny community of Peterson last night. Homes were in danger and help was needed, the creek was flooding over. The main road was closed and worry for neighbors and friends was apparent. Through assessing the situation it was made known that sandbags needed filling in Morgan. I went and the outpouring of help and love from community was apparent. I arrived and forty or so people were there already hard at work, through the course of the evening that numbered swelled to around two hundred – men, women, teens, children and even a loving Morgan Stake President who rushed over without changing his suit and sloshed through the mud without worry or care. After talking with Gabriel later, I realized just as many individuals were on the Peterson end stacking and moving the sandbags that Morgan filled, with furry against the rising waters.

Goodness is what I felt, love is what I saw and remember is what I need to do. Moments often come when I am cynical and I have forgotten the goodness of God and his love towards his children, in even the smallest things. People can help and little things do make a difference. Prayers for those faraway lands can sustain, and the power and help derived from them can be as present as a sandbag piled high against surging waters . . .

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

COSTCO is as good a place as any . . .

to find out that - - - -

this awesome poet extraordinaire, who happens to be my brother :), is going to

STANFORD University for the next two years! Not only that but he is going there

with the Wallace Stegner fellowship! (FYI, picture is of the man himself, Stegner!)

There we were - my mother, my father and me, huddled around my cell phone in anticipation of what the grand news could be. Gabriel had called not one minute earlier and asked if I was with mom and dad and if we had heard, "Heard what?" I asked.
"Mario's news! It. Is. Big! Call him right now," he hung up without saying goodbye and we were left wondering if he had gotten into the U of U's doctorate program, little did we know it would be greater than that. I pulled our cart over to the side, dialed with the speakerphone and there we stood, next to bulk semi-sweet chocolate chips and across the aisle from the extra-virgin olive oil, "What's your news?!" I asked. He chuckled and asked how we knew he even had news (he should have known that news travels fast amongst the Chard clan, especially good news because if there is anything we are always ready for - it's a celebration:)
"I got the Wallace Stegner fellowship at Stanford!" Cheers erupted from our little corner of the Costco world and people stared as if we were crazy but we couldn't have cared less because in that moment we were in Lafayette Indiana with Mario, Wendy and Ethan and nothing else mattered.
I yelled out at random strangers, "My brother is going to STANFORD!" It was one of the funnest things I've gotten to do in a while and Costco was as good a place as any for that type of news:) The odds of recieving this amazing fellowship are less than 1% - incredible, right? I think I have a less than 1% chance of getting invited to Will and Kate's wedding or winning a million dollars or even becoming Kanye's back up singer, and that's really nothing that you want to be seeing anyway - but this, this is cool.
Mario, Wendy and Ethan - - - - we love you. we are so excited for this new adventure and we know it could not have taken place were it not for the unflinching and sacrificing support of Wendy and Ethan for the hard working, Mario. Mars, I know that what you have received in your life so far has come through dedication and hard work and I am grateful to you for that unyielding example!
Congrats my favorite Indiana family! You deserve it!