Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Playing the Waiting Game

Phoenix treated me well today. I felt right at home in TX with all the heat! Everyone else has been dying, but I'm pretty used to it after this crazy summer we've had. This morning started with the breakfast buffet which was surprisingly good! Of course, it was not Parador Desayuno Buffet (Spanish hotel), but it had fruit, waffles, bacon, sausage, potatoes.... the works. Definitely a good start. Then all 51 of us gathered in a conference room and had some announcements and played some get-to-know-you-games. I was actually really surprised and impressed with everyone- usually the minute these games come up, everyone groans and pleads not to play them, but everyone here was excited and involved! We ended up playing for about 2 hours, and I know I definitely learned most people's names! This group of students just keeps impressing me every day that I'm with them, and I'm so thankful that I get to be in their company. After games and such, I just relaxed and tried to repack my bag aka recreating a miracle. Later in the afternoon, a group got together to go to the temple. The Mesa Temple is so beautiful! It is one that doesn't have a spire, but the architecture is beautiful. It has a really old pioneer feel to it, and the inside is lovely. It was really nice to go with a small group and just get away from all the craziness. After all the stress of travel and trying to organize flights, I was finally able to just feel calm and peace as I was inside the temple then walking around the grounds. They have a great Visitor's Center as well, which we utilized greatly since some of our group took longer. There was a great presentation of all the apostles sharing their testimonies of Christ, and we just sat and watched those for a while. I was just really happy to be there at the temple! It was a great evening. Right after the temple, we had dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was delicious. We were all starving cause most of us had only had breakfast before. Tonight we also found out all of the travel plans... we are going to get out of here haha eventually. We've ben split up into about 11 travel groups that will depart over the next three days. I will be leaving on Friday, so one more day in the hotel. We'll see what tomorrow brings! (hopefully no flight changes...)

Some of the girls in front of the Christus

Me and Cortney in front of the temple

Stuck in Phoenix

So my post earlier today was a little optimistic. I, a naive traveler, just assumed that airlines were somewhat organized and tried to keep to a schedule. Today I have lost my traveling innocence. As we rushed to our gate in Phoenix to get on our flight to Philadelphia, the announcement was made that our flight was delayed an hour. Ok, we can handle it, we will be cutting it close for our connection, but we'll make it work. FYI: I was chosen to be a Group Travel Leader, so delays and such are what I'm supposed to deal with and inform the office of. Ok great, well we weren't going to miss our connection, so we don't need to worry. Not so fast. It was soon delayed another half hour, which means we would have 15 minutes to make our international connection. Problematic? Yes. And then it's even worse when they just end up canceling our flight. So basically we don't have a way to get to Philadelphia, therefore we don't get our connection to Tel Aviv. This is not good. So we all end up in the airport for 6 hours while the other two group leaders and I try to figure out what to do with customer service. I would think that it's kind of a big deal to cancel international travel for 51 college students. Unfortunately, the airline didn't seem to realize this very quickly so it was a very long ordeal. After much waiting and many questions, we are currently in a hotel (using vouchers), eating food (with vouchers), waiting for the call that we have flights. Hopefully they'll find us a flight that is sooner than next Tuesday, but if they don't, that will be the day we fly to Jerusalem. All said and done, we're safe, but we desperately want to be in Jerusalem. We all just keep telling each other that there must be a reason for this, and our group is going to get to know each other really, really, really well. Those other kids that flew out today and got there safely are just not having the same bonding experiences as we are. I don't know whether to be jealous of them, or grateful. Maybe I'll decide that later.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


So I’m currently writing this on the plane (in a word doc, then I’ll upload later). I got to the airport at about 8:30 this morning, and my mom’s flight was little later, so she just came at the same time. I feel like we didn’t really say goodbye though. I mean we did, but we said goodbye then I went and sat at gate A4 with the group and she sat at A1 for her flight. So it was kinda odd being there with my mom, but not being with her. But she was able to see me get safely on the plane, so I hope that has calmed her nerves a little. I tried to be pretty social in the airport and meet people. I think we all have the basic conversation format down: What’s your name? Where are you from? What are you studying? How far along are you in school? etc. The basic stuff. I think it’s funny though cause we all have name tags, but we still ask what names. It’s definitely the polite way to do it, but it does seem a little redundant to look at a person, see their name tag, then ask what their name is. Just my opinion. I decided to remedy this by just saying, Hi my name is Cassie! Then it’s up to them to answer with their name if they wish (it would be waaayyyy awkward if they didn’t), and I’ve started the conversation. Then it doesn’t look like I can’t read their name right on the front of their shirt. I was pretty pleased with my method. I meet people, seem friendly, and show that I’m literate. Mission accomplished. 
The plane is Phoenix is smaller, and a little more than half the group is on it, headed to Philly. The rest of the group left earlier this morning and are going through JFK. I’ve never been to the Philly airport (and I have been to JFK), so that’s another airport I can cross off the list! I really should start keeping a list of all the airports I’ve been to. I don’t count going to the airport as going to the country or state, so there are a bunch that I probably forget that I’ve been to. I think it would be a pretty comprehensive list. The flight to Phoenix has been extremely short (already starting the initial descent). We only have a little bit until the flight to Philly. I’m not quite sure how long this blog entry will be because flying on an airplane is pretty standard, no matter how long the flight is. I don’t know if my updates will be that exciting. But I’ll probably write some more on the leg from Philly to Tel Aviv. I mean, it’s not like I’ll be hurting for time or anything... I’ll have 11 hours to not go crazy. Awesome. I’m exaggerating, it;s really not bad flying for long periods of time, at least in my opinion. I’ve always loved flying and being in airports. One thing I need to do on my flight though is read Genesis 1-20. This is our first assignment! I’m actually really excited to read it! I mean, of course it’s always good to read scriptures, but now that I’m headed to where it’s taking place, it’s a little more exciting. I will probably be paying a bit more attention than I normally would.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Yesterday was orientation (which was fortunately not as boring as expected). It just got me so excited to leave! We basically just went over all the rules again, which wasn’t too great, but I did meet my roommates and some other people that are going. It was mostly just exciting though because I actually started to feel like I was leaving. It was hard to be in Provo on the first day of school and not really be a part of it! Everyone else was so excited for their new classes and apartments, and I didn’t have those experiences this year. It was really weird. So, orientation was nice to kind of get me really believing that I’m leaving and spending the semester in the Holy Land. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m scared or nervous, and I just honestly answer that I’m not! I almost think that I’m not because I haven’t thought about it enough. I mean, of course I’ve thought about all the cool things I’m going to see and the people I’ll meet, but it was all more like just daydreaming and hoping, not actually making plans and being serious. But now it is. It’s real. I’m on a plane going to Phoenix. Which will then go to Philadelphia. Which will then land in Tel Aviv. News flash: I’m going to Jerusalem! 
Last night I had a little going away party up at Cortney’s house. We just had desserts and chatted. It was really fun to see some of my friends before I leave, and it was so nice of them to drive all the way up to my sister’s house on a school night and everything. For desserts, we had cookies and cupcakes! The cupcakes were from this little shop called Cocoa Bean Cupcake Cafe in Provo, and they were so yummy. They have really creative flavors, so it’s fun to try them all! My favorite from last night was the Ultimate Brownie. It was basically like a cream cheese brownie cupcake with malted marshmallows and chocolate frosting. Amazing. It was so good. We also got Red Velvet, Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake, Love Potion, Oreo, and Better Than Whatever. I highly recommend them to anyone in the Provo area. 
Tonight is going to be a long night of packing. My suitcase is now around 50, but I’m having trouble fitting the rest of the stuff in my carry on. Mom is a miracle worker though, so I’m sure we’ll figure it out. It just might cut into our beauty sleep a little.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Caitlin!

My little baby niece is one whole year old!! We had the party a few weeks ago, but now it's official... she's really been alive a whole year. It's amazing how fast she has grown. It feel like yesterday that I was just getting ready to start BYU and little baby Caitlin came into the world! She is such a little blessing to our lives and so sweet. I am so lucky to be her auntie :) I will miss her so much when I'm in Jerusalem, especially since she'll change so much over the next 4 months. I just hope she'll remember me!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Drowsy Chaperone

Today I did my first run-through for packing... let me tell you, it was an experience. When I finally combined all of my clothes and necessities from home, Utah, and summer shopping, it was quite apparent that I have too much. Way way way too much. My mom and I did pretty well on paring down my clothes, although I'm still sure that I'm taking more clothes than anyone else (but I'm ok with that). However, four months worth of shampoo, contact solution, lotion, etc. is very heavy. Yes, I realize I'll probably be able to buy stuff there, but isn't almost just easier to take it? Well, obviously not because it weighs way too much. I packed my suitcase with all my books, toiletries, pants, skirts, and electronics, and it weighed over 70 pounds. The weight limit is 50 pounds. I think there is a slight problem. Not to mention that I was still left with my shoes and all my shirts and jackets to fit in a carry-on duffel. That's a whole nother story. Needless to say, I got a little stressed out about this. Where is the Pelton Packing Magic???? My mom ended up banishing me from anymore packing for the day since I was freaking out so much.

After the packing disaster, I wanted to be cheered up. And what better way is there than to see one of your favorite musical at the Hale Center Theater in Orem?! Answer: there is no better way. My mom and I went to see "The Drowsy Chaperone" and it was fantastic! I had first seen the show in Dallas when the Broadway National Tour came through, and I fell in love with the show. It is absolutely ridiculous and just a whole lotta fun. It's basically a show within a show: You're first introduced to a narrator who lives by himself in an apartment and is obsessed with musical theater. He "feels a little blue," so he puts on a record of his favorite musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone."The plot of the show is of a famous 1920s showgirl Janet Vandergraaff who is leaving the show business to marry Robert Martin. However, they see each other on the wedding day, which is, as we all know, very bad luck. Enter an angry show producer, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, an eccentric European man who puts "the romantics" on every girl alive, a sarcastic butler and his forgetful mistress, a nervous wreck of a Best Man, and a chronically drunk chaperone, and you've got a show!! What is so great is that throughout the show, the narrator comments on scenes and characters like you're watching it together. This may sound kind of annoying, but it's absolutely hilarious. I actually liked this production better than the one in Dallas because of the intimate atmosphere. Of course the Broadway group was incredible, but you lose the "small apartment"- feel on a big stage. At the Hale, it's theater in the round, so you have a small stage in the middle and seats on three sides. This lent really well to the feeling that you were in the narrator's apartment, listening to the record with him. It also provides for some really creative staging and blocking. I loved it. And, as the narrator says, it is better to have loved than left.


Girl's Night (and day) Out! Today my sisters, mom, and I had a full-on girls day. It was really fun to spend time with all of them and just relax. We started off the day with a late breakfast at Callie's Cafe on State Street. Chelsea recommended it. It was definitely an experience! It's not really the type of scene that I personally would usually frequent... bar in the back, truckers out front, postings of the next televised professional fight. It was definitely charming in its own special way. But I will say this, don't judge a book by its cover or a cafe by its clientele and decor. The food was DELICIOUS. We all shared a giant cinnamon roll; an omelette with peppers, onions, and ham; and "The Killer Hashbrowns," a dish which probably derived its name from how many arteries it has clogged upon consumption. It was a huge plate of hashbrowns, topped with peppers, onions, sausage (which was quite impressive), bacon, ham, cheese, and smothered with country gravy. Um, yes please. I'm proud to say that I have survived the Killer Hashbrowns, and I live another day to eat them. I probably won't get another breakfast like this for a while, so I'm glad I got it in while I could. Next on the list was pedicures! The original reason for the pedis was so Cort and Chels could treat my mom to one for her birthday. She never treats herself to manis and pedis cause she is always afraid she'll just get them dirty while working in the yard or something. So this was definitely a treat! I much prefer pedis over manis because I always seem to chip the paint off my nails, and it's much harder to make it look nice. Plus, pedis make your feet so soft, and you get to sit in the big fun chairs with the back massager and jacuzzi foot baths. Honestly, what could be better? I decided to be a little bold with my color choice: neon orange. Like I said, it's bold. But, my feet are pretty tan, so it's like a "o-that's-a-fun-bright-young-color" neon orange, instead of a "o-bless-her-heart-she's-color-blind-and-tacky" neon orange. At least I hope so. After the nail salon, we went separate ways for sewing (Chels and Mom), errands and such (Cortney), and napping (me and Caitlin). I was very appreciative for this part of the day. The second portion of our girl's day was the evening (hence GNO). We all went to dinner at Cafe Rio, and we even invited the boys along. So generous of us. Then the girls went to see the new movie "The Help." I absolutely loved it. If you haven't seen it, you should. It was the perfect balance of funny, heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and empowering. And ya, I guess it's kind of a chick flick since it's all about women, but I think boys would like it too. At least I would like to think they would, then I can convince myself that they would watch it with me... "they" meaning a certain boy **ahem **. There were so many parts that I loved, but of course my favorite was every time Aibileen would say to the little girl "You is kind, you is smart, you is important." I love this. I think that if everyone was told this when they were little (and even as adults), the world would be better.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Family Dinner

Last night (Sunday) was our last family dinner with everyone present until I get back from Jerusalem. It all kind of hit me that I won't see my family for four months (well... except for when my parents come visit me for a day). Even when I left last year for college, I knew I would see my family all the time. Both of my sisters and their families live only 20 minutes away from BYU, and my parents were up in Utah a lot since Caitlin was born. I really didn't go without seeing someone in my family for more than a week and a half. Now, I really will be without my fam, and it's kinda sad! Even though my mom and I will be staying up here in Utah until I leave for Jerusalem, my dad had to go back to TX for work, so Sunday night was the last time we would be all together. My mom put me in charge of the menu, so I chose really "American" foods since I probably won't get that much familiar food while I'm gone (and that's totally fine... I love trying new things). We had BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, salad, and mac and cheese; for dessert we had cheesecake and chocolate creme pie. Delish! I figured pulled pork was especially appropriate since I doubt I will have any pork at all in Israel. The food was great, and the company was even better :) I love spending time with my family! We all have very different personalities, but I love it when we can all come together and just have a good time. After dinner we played with Caitlin and her new wooden blocks (which we enjoyed more than she did), and we played with Chelsea and Tyler's Kinect. The Kinect is awesome. I've always been somewhat averse to video games, mostly because I couldn't figure out the controllers. Since the Kinect doesn't use any controllers, it's the perfect game! It was really fun and entertaining to watch us all try to do the games. I'm so glad that we were able to spend the evening all together.

Love a good self-timer :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back in Utah

Well, we made it to Utah safely! We flew in Wednesday night, right in time for the festivities this weekend. There has been a bit of a paradigm shift in our family travel- suddenly I'm the one with all the flight benefits, and my dad isn't. Ever since I was little, my dad has traveled a lot for work and such, so he's always had priority access and other benefits. However, he has stopped traveling so much and doesn't have those benefits anymore, but I do cause I'm always on airplanes! Thank goodness too, because I don't think we could have gotten everything up to Utah without my free bags! We had three travelers, four (very large) checked suitcases, three carry-on bags, and two purses. We were a loaded bunch to say the least.

Thursday: Today I slept in a bit, then went to Paul's graduation. This was the main BYU ceremony at the Marriott Center on campus. It was quite the ceremony. Probably the most memorable part was the musical number. A Masters in music graduate played "Come, Thou Fount" on the flute and was accompanied by the piano. It was lovely, but that's not why it was memorable. About a third of the way through her song, the air conditioning turned on and blew her music right off the stand! Luckily she was very composed and picked up her music during an interlude (whether it was supposed to be an interlude or not, I'm not sure). Except, about 30 seconds later, it blew off again! I think she knew the song well enough to just play it without the music, but it's always nice to have the safety net of music on the stand. Everyone in the audience just died. We all wanted to run down and help her, but no one knew what to do! There was so much tension in the room, you could cut it with a knife. Finally, one of the graduates from all the way across the auditorium ran over and picked up her music, set it on the stand, and held it for the rest of the song. It was quite the save. After the meeting ended, we all went to Paul and Cortney's for fajitas (so delish).
The happy couple after graduation!
Friday: This morning was Paul's school graduation where he actually walked across the stage. It was only the School of Fine Arts and Communications, so the walking went pretty quickly. One thing that I was surprised by was the student presentations. They had one graduate from each of the specific sections of the school give a presentation or speech. There was a communications major, dancer, singer, graphic designer, and theater major. I quite enjoyed the presentations. After the graduation, we all took pictures, went to brunch at Magleby's Fresh, and then took naps and relaxed. Included in that was little jaunt on the scooter. Yes, the scooter. My parents bought a little scooter at the end of last summer, essentially for me to use up at school, but it didn't make it up to Utah until this past April. So, I decided it was high time for me to learn how to ride it in preparation for when I get back from Jerusalem and the weather gets nicer. A scooter is perfect in Provo cause BYU has such crowded parking, but there is always scooter parking available! So, Dad and I went out and drove the scooter around Chelsea's apartment complex and the parking lots surrounding. Everything was going really well... until I went back down to the parking garage. I was turning around in the garage, and the floor was a little slippery, and I was trying to brake, but my hand kind of got confused with the brake and the gas... so I crashed into one of the cement columns. Luckily I missed the car right next to it and hit the column instead, but the scooter did suffer the loss of a headlight. I think it can be fixed, but I just felt so bad that the first time I took out the scooter, I crashed it! I'm just glad that it was with my dad instead of me being by myself. Later in the evening, we went to dinner at Paradise Bakery. It is really yummy, but especially good since you get a cookie with your meal :) The classic chocolate chip are the best.

The Scooter before the "incident"
Saturday: Today was the big day: Caitlin's First Birthday Party! It was a "Pink Party" where everything was pink from the decorations to the cupcakes to the clothing (everyone was asked to wear pink on the invite). Cortney did such a great job planning and preparing everything. So many people came and halped us celebrate Caitlin's first year of life! It was quite the party. The cutest part was when we did cake. Cortney had made pink cupcakes based on the book "Pinkalicious", about a little girl who ate so many pink cupcakes that she actually turned pink! So, we had lots of little pink cupcakes, and Caitlin had one GIANT cupcake for herself! It was so cute to watch her dig into it and just destroy the cake. She is such a cutie! Cort asked me to take pictures during the party with her camera, so I had a good excuse to get up close and personal with the mess ;) I'm so glad that I was able to share this fun day with her! I love my little niece.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today, only 27 (or so) years ago, something amazing happened: my mother was born :) I am so thankful for my mom. She is an amazing seamstress, decorator, gardener, chef, advisor, counselor, listener, gift-giver, artist, shopper, follower of Christ, mother, wife, daughter, sister, planner, coordinator, teacher, administrator, dresser, cheerleader, supporter, and crossword puzzle helper. Just to name a few. I am so lucky to have her as my mom and to be all those things for me these past 19 years. She truly is the reason for all of the good things I might be. All the bad things are definitely my fault, but the good ones are due to her teaching and love. I hope that this next year of her young life holds even more happiness and love as the last year did. I love my mom so much, and I wouldn't the same person without her.

My mom and I in front of the Santiago Cathedral in Spain

Monday, August 8, 2011

Let The Packing Begin...

And so the mayhem as begun! We are headed to Utah on Wednesday, then I'm staying up there for the rest of the summer until I leave for Jerusalem! Which means that I have to take all my Jerusalem gear and summer clothes for the next 3 weeks... thank goodness I travel an inordinate amount and get two free checked bags. Thanks American Airlines. Unfortunately, I only have one checked bag for Jerusalem. I feel like I've been waiting for these "packing days" all summer. For those of you who don't know, I am a crazy packer. I make lists upon lists of events I'll need outfits for, the weather, duration of the trip, lists of the exact clothes items and accessories... you name it and I probably make a list for it. Most people would think that this would ultimately end up in an overpacked, overweight suitcase that has more clothes (and shoes) than anyone person would ever need. And this conclusion is pretty accurate, except for the overweight part. I'm proud to say that the Pelton Family has mastered the art of packing weight. In other words, somehow we magically are able to always pack everything we think we'll need and still be under the weight limit (and if we're slightly over, we might charm our way through the process). I don't know how it happens, but I'm exceeding thankful for this quirk with the scale. Too bad it doesn't carry over to other scales as well... ;)

The problem I'm having with my Jerusalem packing is that there are so many unknown variables! I do have an idea of what the weather will be like, but I'm afraid my internal temperature is a little off since I've been in 100+ degree weather for two months. I've kinda forgotten what 50 degree weather even feels like... how many layers did I wear in Utah again? Who knows. In addition, the provided packing list in my student handbook is so anemic, I could cry. Obviously a man wrote it. Only one pair of pajamas for 4 months? Really? Um no thanks, I'll use the nonexistent space in my suitcase to bring a few more. So already I'm taking about three times the recommended number of shirts, twice the number of pants, twice the number of skirts/church outfits, and (naturally) about three times the number of shoes. In true Pelton girl fashion, I already have WAY too many clothes in my suitcase... and I'm not even halfway done. I'm afraid that I'll just get so tired of my outfits, so as a remedy to this fear, I'm packing a ridiculous amount out clothes. I know- it's a bit vain to worry about my appearance when I'm going on this amazing trip. But I truly value the confidence that a cute outfit can give a girl. I personally don't try dress well to impress other people, it's to make myself feel good. And since I'm gonna be in a brand new place with people I don't know and languages I don't understand, YEAH I'M GONNA TAKE MY CLOTHES AND USE CUTE OUTFITS AS A SAFETY BLANKET. So sue me.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Welcome August!

Wow... I can't believe it's already August!! Which means less than a month until Jerusalem :) It's starting to feel pretty surreal that I'm going to be living halfway around the world in less than thirty days, in a country where I don't speak the language, don't know where anything is, and only know the people that will be with me from BYU (whom I will have only met the day before)! I'm not feeling too nervous though, just excited. I've been a busy shopper with my mom as we look for things that will be appropriate for me to wear. The dress code is very strict as we need to respect the culture of Israel, so higher necklines, longer sleeves, nothing tight, and nothing higher than mid-calf. Obviously, I had some shopping to do! It's not that I dress immodestly or anything; I actually try very hard to wear conservative, fashionable, and modest clothes that fit well and cover everything they should. But I needed to acquire some pants and tops that aren't as tight and tops that have a little higher neckline. It's difficult because I want to pack a wide assortment of clothes so that I don't get bored of them over the course of three and a half months, but you can only fit so much in a suitcase :/ I'll post some pictures later in the month of everything that I'm taking.

Other things to look forward to this month: Leaving for Utah next week, Paul's college graduation, more shopping probably, activities in Utah, baby Caitlin's 1 year old party celebration, Jerusalem Orientation, and the Departure!!

This past weekend I played "Mom" for a family at my church while the parents had a little weekend getaway. They were so great! But I definitely have a new appreciation for moms in general. It was my first time to do a sleepover nanny job, so I was on duty 24 hours a day for 4 days. It's hard to think of fun activities to do during the hot summer for little girls! Not to mention making food, feeding them, clothing them, bathing them, calming them, quelling fights over what's fair in BarbieWorld, etc. I was pretty tired after the weekend! I am so lucky that the girls were so well-behaved, patient, and loving. I don't think I could've done it otherwise! I am thankful for my mom who always takes care of me, from when I was little and wanted to play Barbies and "house" all day, to now when I'm just home from college for the summer. I love her and I definitely have a little more understanding of what she had to deal with when my sisters and I were younger! Thanks Mom :)