it has been weighing heavily on me lately just how lucky i am & how there are so many things to be thankful for in life. there are too many to write, but here are a few.

thankful for our time here, in madrid.
thankful for what living in madrid has taught us.
thankful for our time here because it brought our tiny family even closer together.
thankful for the friends we have made while living here.
thankful for the little baby growing healthily in my belly.
thankful for the hardest working, most supportive, funniest, most loving & caring husband.
thankful that we have the things that we do.
thankful for cedar who makes me laugh, smile & love unconditionally every single day.
thankful for our families who love, support & help us continuously.
thankful for all the happiness that is in life.
thankful that we are able to travel.
thankful for facetime when i don't live close to loved ones.
thankful for my health.

happy thanksgiving everyone, what are all of YOU thankful for?


LIFE, MAN! it never stops. i feel like i haven't done a life update in quite a while, which is sort of silly cause this whole blog is about my life, but i've decided to give an update on all things going on right now.

i'm. supposed to be packing, but i'm jus sitting on my bed looking at my phone & taking pictures. documenting the disaster that is our bedroom & the tiny finger smudges all over our mirror. 
+austin is in the middle of his LAST finals week, hurray!!! come friday he will be completely finished with school & come december 18 he will be officially graduated from his IMBA program. i could not be more proud of him for all of the work he has put in to this year & how well he has done. he's truly such a hard worker & was so busy but somehow made it possible managing both his program & having time for his family. i'm pretty excited for him & for the next chapter in our life after school.

+we are supposed to be packed up & ready to go by friday & we have a whopping one bag packed...ultimate procrastinators over here. especially me. i don't know what it is but i always leave anything important until the last minute & i always hate myself for it, but it is what it is. you know those weeks where you have 100000000000 things to do but you can't get yourself to do anything productive? yeah, that's me right now. worst timing too, especially with thanksgiving this week.

+speaking of thanksgiving, we are celebrating with the other americans in our ward & neighboring wards this thursday & all the missionaries. we did a similar thing last year, but there are a lot more people this year & we're doing it potluck style & i have offered to supply pie, cranberry sauce & a sweet potato casserole (basically the only things i eat on thanksgiving i offered to bring), so i have spent far too much time searching the internet  for recipes on everything. last year i took sweet potatoes & for some reason didn't save the recipe i used, which was a dumb move cause they were really good. so hopefully this years are just as good! also, i went to the american store to get canned cranberries for the sauce & an individual can was € 4.25! pricey, pricey. better not mess that up.

+austins parents are coming saturday morning for austins graduation! it's not until the 18 but they are going to be traveling around & are kind enough to take us around with them. i'm really excited for them to come & for our trips, it is going to be so much fun. we're going to morocco, venice & munich, where my mom is going to meet up with us. we're going to be traveling around until the 15, then we come back to madrid & have a couple days to hangout, clean our apartment & move out, celebrate graduation & then we are out of here.

+december 19 is our official move date. we're going to california to spend christmas with my family which i am so stoked about cause it has been 2 years since i've had christmas there, plus cedar is going to be really into it this year which is so fun. & theres the added bonus of going to disneyland at christmas time. austin says we aren't going.... but i'm really going to work hard on getting him to go. disneyland at christmas is the only time i'm ok with dealing with all of the crowds because it is seriously the most magical, plus i could really go for some of their churros right about now.

+cedar has been exceptionally cute lately, at least when he's not throwing a tantrum over literally nothing. two year olds guys, people aren't lying when they say they're rough. but they are also way too cute to stay mad at for too long, luckily for him. 

so that my friends is where life stands as of right now. it just keeps getting busier & busier. 


how far along are you? whenever someone asks how far along i am i can never decide whether i should respond in week terms or month terms. i mean, unless the person asking is pregnant, the weeks probably won't mean anything, i know it wouldn't to me, even after i had cedar. you tend to forget those things quickly! but then it's hard to give it in terms of months cause it's more of a rough estimate, sooo that being said i'm 26 weeks, roughly about 6 months!

sleep? meh. i don't see my sleep improving anytime soon, let's just put it that way. i can nap like a champion though! i don't know what the difference is for me between naps & actual sleep, but naps seem to be a lot easier for me. 

movement? all day every day this little guy is squirming around! at my last ultrasound my dr. said "he does not stop moving. he is an active baby, you will be busy!" so i have that to look forward to.

symptoms? at my last appointment i learned i have anemia with this pregnancy, so i suppose that would be considered a symptom. i now have to take a little powder packet every morning -which i'm pretty happy about cause it actually tastes like candy & i thought it would be in pill form & i really do not handle pills well- & try to eat a lot of iron rich foods. i looked up symptoms of anemia in pregnancy though & it says it can make you sleepy, so i'm thinking that's why i am still so tired all the time! but i have felt a bit better since having my medicine!

cravings? i have been craving a really good steak lately, but have no way of cooking one (i'm sure you can cook steak on a stove top or in the oven, buuuut i don't know how to go about that & am not sure i actually want to learn) so i'm hoping there will be one in my near future. & fries, i crave a lot of fries.

looking forward to? the holidays! totally un-baby related, but it's what i'm really looking forward to! plus once the holidays happen, it's practically baby time in my mind, so it's exciting :)


warning: if you don't want to see a ton of pictures, old & new, from traveling you should probably stop reading. otherwise, keep looking & read my tips/lessons on moving abroad!
growing up i had this romantic idea in my head of moving abroad (i normally imagined i would be living in paris), leaving behind everyone & everything i love back in the states & jetting off to my new home all on my own. being my own person, not having to answer to anybody. i would get an awesome job, learn the language & be fluent within a few short months & never want to return; i love how naive i was. i obviously was not living in a real world when i imagined these scenarios, but who does when they picture their dreams!?

while moving abroad may not have been quite like the dreams i had growing up, i still did it & i think that is pretty cool. we have officially lived in spain for an entire year. this is a fact that keeps blowing my mind for a couple of different reasons. living abroad is an experience that i don't think you can be fully prepared for, no matter how excited or well-traveled you may be, or how much you have researched & studied before the official move, you can't prepare yourself for the roller coaster that is living abroad.
netherlands circa 2011
all the movies show moving to a new country as a last minute decision, a decision made on a whim & it just being so easy. it's not. depending on the country you are relocating to you will have different processes, but for anyone moving to spain just know now that it is not easy. spanish government is incredibly difficult to work with. getting your visa, insurance, apartment, even getting internet is a pretty big ordeal (it took us a full month to get internet in our apartment.. & that was after two seperate people came, checked it out & simply said "no"). 

attempting to figure these things out in a new country is a totally new experience, one that is not always the most fun at the time, but looking back on it they all add to the experience of moving abroad & definitely add to the stories to tell your friends & family.

beyond that it's hard when you realize life back home is still happening & you are missing out. just know that everyone back home is probably wishing that they could have the experiences you are, so enjoy it while you can. & facetime a lot.

madrid, spain circa 2015
instanbul, turkey circa 2007
barcelona, spain circa 2015

you do not have to love it. there is nothing wrong in hating the place that you have moved. you don't have to pretend to like it & that everything is perfect, cause this is real life & as far as i'm concerned, everyone hates where they live every once in a while. it's an emotional roller coaster being in a new country! sure from an outsiders point of view they may not understand how you could want to be home, or how you aren't loving every single second of your new adventurous life, but that's just it: they are outsiders looking in. they are not going through the ups & downs that take place on a daily basis when you're first adjusting. the struggle is real guys, but you will get through it!

sometimes you will hate it when you least expect it, when life has been going so great & you'll wake up in a fog & just really miss home. you will want to facetime everyone in your phonebook, just do it. do whatever you can to make yourself feel better, complain about it to your friends, go on endless rants about how ridiculous your new home is. let it all out! you will feel better & you will also get through it & realize that even though it whatever happened happened, it adds to the love you have of your new country.

marrakech, morocco circa 2015
netherlands, circa 2011
moving abroad is easier with less stuff. maybe i'm not the best example of this cause we brought 6 suitcases with us, but then again i think that's pretty good for a family of 3. i down sized just about as much as i could bringing only a select amount of clothing/shoes/accessories/books for myself. the downsizing process was quite the ordeal, i went through everything so many times. it was pretty frustrating for me, but i'm glad that i did because it made moving much easier & i also have discovered what is & what isn't important.

don't waste space bringing your shampoo & conditioner: they sell that wherever you're moving. you don't need to bring five pairs of heels, you probably will only wear one. you do not need 10 pair of jeans, how often do you even wear the other 7 anyways? anything you leave behind that you end up desperately wanting can be replaced or sent to you. if you have the slightest of second thoughts on any item, just don't take it. plus, you're going to acquire a lot of crap in your time abroad that you'll probably want to take home, so it's good to leave a bit of wiggle room.

madrid, spain circa 2014
gordesprovence, france circa 2011
sienna, italy circa 2012
i'm the idiot who thought spanish would come "naturally", i would "just pick it up", i wasn't worried. this is what i told far too many people, & they probably all laugh at what an idiot i was for not preparing before the move. i definitely laugh at myself. i laugh at myself that even after a full year i cannot speak spanish! it's embarrassing. learning a new language require extreme dedication, extreme desire & effort. i had the desire, i really lacked the dedication & effort bits though. i can get by fine enough with what i do know & i can understand a decent amount, but i am by no means able to have a full conversation. luckily for me, austin speaks spanish :)

if you move abroad make an genuine effort in making local friends, don't rely on just expats to be your friends because they move & in making a local friend, you are basically forced to practice your new language. the best way to pick it up is to speak it, not to study out of a book (it does help though, don't get me wrong). make the effort, dive head first into the culture, grab some friends & learn the language, it will make your time that much easier & more enjoyable. this would be my ultimate piece of advice to myself if i could go back & time.

cuenca, spain circa 2015
switzerland circa 2005
jungfrau, switzerland circa 2009
culture shock is a real thing people. pretty much anywhere you move there is at least the slightest bit of culture shock, i know i experienced just from moving to utah from california! & i had grown up going to utah all the time, i was still shocked. so you can imagine the extreme culture shock i experienced in moving to spain!

spain has an amazing culture & madrid has definitely kept the "old" culture alive. one example of the culture shock i experienced were getting used to the siesta. siestas are going strong here in madrid, whether you appreciate it or not, restaurants just aren't open all day, it's practically unheard of. they generally open for breakfast & then close around11 a.m. open somewhere around 2 p.m., close again & then reopen around 8 p.m. so that's a tricky thing to figure out. restaurants are sort of the only thing that is open during siesta, stores, markets, banks & all sorts of businesses close for their siesta & some re-open after while others don't. this was truly fascinating to me when we moved here.

everywhere has it's own culture & my advice is to dive head first into it. you will learn from this new experience. you didn't move across the world to be in a culture just like the one you left behind, you wanted to try something new & this is it.

take it, appreciate it, embrace it.

madrid, spain circa 2014
cinque terre, italy circa 2012
if you're like me, you were addicting to traveling long before your move abroad. if you aren't like me & didn't really care about travel, it will become one of your passions. over the years i've noticed that seeing a new place & culture sort of sparks a flame that just grows & people begin to crave traveling & the adventures that come with it. & who could blame you? when you live abroad you have the perfect excuse to travel as much as you can because you don't always know how long you will be living abroad, when you'll be back & when it will be as easy to visit all these different amazing places. if you see cheap tickets anywhere, buy them & go. you won't regret doing it.

neuschwanstein castle, germany circa 2014
barcelona, spain circa 2009
amsterdam, netherlands circa 2011
anything you once knew to be "normal" suddenly changes when you move abroad. the things that you do will not seem "normal" to the new people around you & what they do may not be "normal" to you. save yourself some time & give up your sense of "normal" & embrace the new. you will become a more open, better, less judgmental person for this.
san sebastian, spain circa 2009
paris, france circa 2013
moving to a new country gives you a completely new life experience, similar yet unlike anything else & it forces your to grow. you are basically forcing yourself to learn about a new culture, new language, new lifestyle & with that you become a newer, better version of yourself. you will realize just what you are capable of, how strong you are & how brave you are, cause let's not pretend like moving abroad isn't scary. moving abroad has taught me more life lessons that my entire life summed up into one event.

if you have the chance to move abroad, do it. just go. yeah it might be a pain, but it is most definitely worth all of the stress & struggles it takes to get you there. just go!

venice, italy circa 2012
istanbul, turkey circa 2007
it's not going to feel natural overnight, you will not meet your new best friend the first day you move, you won't understand the people immediately & that is all O.K. there is a learning process when moving to a new place. you need to give yourself time to learn the place, get adjusted, get used to your new life, surroundings, culture, language, whatever it may be. give yourself time, you have plenty of it. slow down & enjoy your experience because it goes by faster than you can imagine. take time to watch the people around you & learn from them, it will make you appreciate your home that much more.
florence, italy circa 2012


in planning the trip i discovered that it would be way cheaper for us to go to brussels & then go to madrid instead of straight from edinburgh to madrid. so we decided to take the opportunity to make another little pitstop on our trip! when we told anyone that we were stopping over in brussels, they all would simply say "why?" & i was sort of confused by this reaction but once we got there i totally understood. we had two days in brussels & that was juuuuuust enough. i won't lie to you guys, brussels is not anything special, for real. it is a perfect place if you have one day or even just 1/2 a day, any longer than that.... eh. that being said! it is a cute little spot to visit, just know that you don't need a lot of time there :)we ate our weight in waffles & i got my frites i had been craving so badly. all of it was absolutely delicious. we took our time wandering the cute, cobbled streets & letting cedar just run wild & play at the park. 

& so that i don't keep bombarding everyone with trip posts, i'll share the video of our trip along with this post :)


we our last day in scotland going to two different castles: glamis & donottar.  the first castle we stopped at was glamis castle. glamis has been in the lyon family since the 14 century, but the current castle has been around since the 17 century & it was the home to Queen Elizabeth the queen mother, just a little fun fact for you. it's a really well-kept, still running castle! from what i understand the lyon family still lives in part of the castle, which is really cool, & they have it open for tours as well. 

when we got back to our hotel later that night we googled the history on both castles we saw & we found out that glamis is supposedly haunted. there are a few different ghost stories on the interner about the castle, which is totally creepy, especially since the family still lives there. but! if you are interested, read some of the stories on this site :)
Dunottar is a totally different experience from glamis, which you can probably tell from the photos, haha. it has been around since the early middle ages, but what remains is mostly from the 15 century. the castle played a big role in the jacobite uprising in the 18 century because of its location. it also is where scotland hid their crown jewels from oliver cromwell's army in the 17 century. just a few fun facts for you!