Thursday, July 10

Leave of Absence

So it has been about a month since my last blog, but believe you me, it has been a crrrazy month! We could start of with one of my best friends coming all the way from Utah to see me. We had a blast! As luck would have it, the Saturday I met up with her was the Trooping of the Colours--or the "official" birthday celebration of the queen. We saw the entire royal family, and after winking multiple times and blowing kisses our direction, Harry and William got out of their car and proposed marriage to us both! Isn't that just the best news!?!? that last part might have been a little bit exaggerated...but we did see them, and we waved, and they waved back!

One of the days she was here I took her down to Brighton, following a lengthy shopping trip to Bluewater (the biggest shopping mall in Europe) It was so nice to have a friend here to spend time with, to shop with, to drive with, to take pictures with, and eat fish and chips on the pier with! Ahhh Siri I miss you already!

The day after my dear friend left me, the family arrived. It was so good to see them again after nearly 14 months away from the siblings and 11 away from the parents. What a good reunion! The first day we spent touring around London, and I got to show them all my favourite hot spots and even took them to the best Jacket Potato with beans and cheese Covent Garden has to offer. That night, Siera and I went to go see Les Miserables--which was one of the highlights of my entire life! That musical was so incredible, the music so moving, the acting so believable, I was in tears several times during the production. WOW with a capital W. I hope I get to go see it again before I jet back to a land where there is limited musical theatre, no subway, and no jacket potatoes!

The next day all seven of us got cozy in a car barely suited for 5, and we had 6 suitcases packed for 2 weeks on top of that. We all had our knees to our chins with a bag or two balanced on top of our heads, or knees, and under our feet. It was a fun ride, but we made it to Aveburry Stone Circle, Stonehenge, Bath, and Lacock all in one day. Good for us it happened to be summer solstice so there were plenty of gypsies and weirdos hanging around painting their dogs and smoking who knows what. It was cool to get to see both stone circles in one day because the stones from stonehenge actually came from Avebury. I guess the ancient peoples of england had nothing better to do than drag 50 ton stones 20+ miles and put them in a circle. I am glad I live in the 21st century!

Going in to every aspect of the trip would make this entry devastatingly long, and despite that all the pictures from the holiday went home with the family--so I don't have them. (odd...I know) You know they say pictures are worth a thousand words. I took a little over 2,000 you do the math. Simply stated, I haven't that many words, nor the will to write them. I will just say a few things.

4/5 of the kids ran straight into stationary poles during the trip. Jared in Normandy, Siera in Rome, Josh in...well, Josh runs in to so many poles it's hard to really remember, and mine happened in Salzberg. You see, I was just trying to navigate us using the GPS handheld system, holding it in front of me--I was deeply engaged in the maps and listening intently to everything the GPS lady said. When all of a sudden, I heard a loud thud metal smacking, at the same time a throbbing pain erupted just below my hairline--When I lifted my head in horror and shame, my humiliation was multiplied by each set of eyes that turned in my direction on the fairly crowded street. I place all blame on the GPS lady, who--had she been paying attention--should have warned me about that one. It was altogether embarrassing, especially after when I still (don't ask me why) was in charge of navigation, and my mom insisted on leading me by the elbow and loudly announcing any stationary object within 5 feet of me to make sure I didn't collide with it. Thanks Mom!

Jake is the only one that did not hit a pole. Jake is also the only one out of the Skousen kids who does not bear the mark of a scar on the top left of his forehead. He is the only boy out of the Skousen kids who was not born in Chicago, and he is the only Skousen kid to have the coveted blue eyes. I have a few theories I am going with, one being that he was probably adopted...or perhaps he was dropped off nappy and all by a giant bird...I don't know. Any other theories as to why my brother is a blue-eyed-scar-less-pole-avoider are welcome.

I will tell about my favourite destination. Ok, Ok, they were all my favourite in a different way. But I just have to say that visiting the Cinque Terre was one of the (many) highlights of the trip.
We woke up early in our village of Corniglia, and hiked to Vernazza where the best pastry chef in all of Italy resides at the Pirate Bar. After the hour long hike on empty stomachs, we stopped in for some refreshing fragola-limon (strawberry-lemon) slushies, that were more like heaven than actual slushie, it was amazing. The man at the Pirate Bar picked us out an assortment of his favourite home made pastries, and boy were they good! We spent most of the afternoon swimming in the ocean and jumping off rocks, returning to the Pirate Bar for lunch. Pesto is a specialty of the Cinque Terre, and I had the most delicious pesto dish of my life up there mixed up with a bit of Gnocci- something I had not previously tried. Them pirates know how to make it good.
We went to all but one of the villages, and spent a lot of time swimming, taking pictures (me) and wandering around just kicking back--this being literally the only day we turned down turbo mode and took time to breath. The ocean was so flat and glassy it was more lake-like than ocean, there were virtually no waves! This induced an entire hour of floating contests--and it was discovered that Mom, Siera and I have to do nothing more than lift our legs up and relax completely to float perfectly in the water. Jared, Josh and Jake couldn't float to save their lives and were a little annoyed at the fact that we kept floating there soaking up the Italian sun. So they suggested a contest that perhaps they were better at--sinking. Jared in particular, thought it would be great to have a "who can touch the bottom of the ocean" contest, which is really typical considering he is at least a foot taller than the rest of us at his towering 6'4''. It was fun though, and everyone except Mom could actually touch the bottom (we made Jared touch it with his knees to even it out). It was just another day in Paradise.
More exciting news from the trip will be posted when I get my hands on some pictures, until then, I guess I will just leave you guessing! I did, however, almost fill up an entire journal with entries from this Europe trip, so I have a lot of good tid bits to blog later.

Ashley, a friend from home has been here at the house having my job for the past few weeks. The family is away in sunny spain so we have the house all to ourselves, and we have been having a blast! The other night we went to see Wicked, it was the third time I have been to see it, and I must admit that out of the three...this one was the very best! I took some video that I will try and upload here for you all to see. We had really good front row seats, and my cheeks are still sore from the giant grin that was painted on my face for the entire three hour show. It was so incredible.

In exactly one week, I will be off again to mainland Europe with my friends Brady and Ryan from Chicago. Our dads were mission companions, so I guess you could say that we have been friends before we were even born. I am really looking forward to seeing them, and seeing new places! Our itinerary takes us to France, Switzerland, Spain, and then up to Scotland so I can see all my old friends again! I am enjoying this time of re cooperation, because goodness knows, in a week I will have to turn the meter up to turbo again and go go go!

Until next time my faithful bleeders--


Dona and co. said...

I think you mean WOW with a capital WOW. Wow what an entry that was. I feel like I have just run 10 miles in 10 minutes. I imagine that's pretty much the speed you did Europe with your fam. Sounds like it was a fabulous trip. I hope you have a great time with Brady and Ryan.

skousenmom said...

Wish we had been able to leave you the pictures. I cqan't wait to let you get your hands on them. I miss you already and can't wait to get you home, but I hope you have fun with Brady and Ryan. By the way, my ankles have finally returnd to normal size and I am almost back to normal. Still fighting the jet lag though. Ah well, it was worth it! Love you! Mom

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Marie said...

Nicole, Nicole, Nicole. You do GO girl! I can't believe how much living you pack into one day, one week, one month, one year, one lifetime! You are amazing girl! I hope I get to see you before you go back to America! *sniff *sniff I gave you two awards today by the way on my blog. Well deserved too, I might add! Love you to pieces! Our Stake Country fair is tommorrow, but you probably won't have time to go. *sniff *sniff Oh, I am entering two pictures in one of the events. They are way cool, at least I think they are! (Not as cool as yours though)

Grammy Staffy said...

I just wanted to say hi. I've met you though Marie's blog. I've had two nieces who were nannies in Europe before they married. What an adventure. That was years ago. Now they have kids old enough to go on missions...(maybe one will serve in England).. time flies..

Congrats on your awards.

Lura said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog and saying hello. I'm glad to meet you and wish you well. I'll keep dropping in and checking on you.

Grammy Staffy said...

That last comment was from me. Have a good day. Grammy Lura

Amie said...

I can't wait to see you! You are so lucky you got to travel around with your family too. I wish I could have come up to see you and traveled with you. But alas, I do not know when the day will come that I will be able to go to Europe. Anyways, great blogging Cole! I always like to read about your adventures.