Thursday, December 28, 2006

fun with photo booth

apple has this fun program on their new computers called photo booth. if you go to their stores you can try it out. there are lots of effects to choose from, including one that looks like fun house mirrors. oooooohhhhh....

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

a new kind of christmas

this was my first christmas without both parents present. i wasn't sure what to expect and i worried it wouldn't feel much like christmas at all, but with the help of my "extended" family this christmas was actually very special. christmas eve was spent mostly at mom's house with pierce and bob. the four of us went to midnight mass where we met up with farhan and roohi. after singing all my favorite christmas hymns (including all the harmonies... i was that girl...) i left church feeling very christmas-y indeed. christmas morning i made an apple tart with over-the-phone tutelage from dad, and i also talked to my brother stephen who was skiing out west... rather, i sang our favorite raffi christmas song to him :) mom made an amazing christmas lunch and we were joined by farhan, roohi and bob. farhan and roohi brought a delicious pakistani dessert that was like creamy sweet spaghetti with dates. mmm. bob and i then left to pick up his sister christine and her boyfriend ben who popped into town for dinner with bob's uncle bob, granddad paul, and others (deborah, jack and liz). deborah too fixed an awesome meal, paul recited a LOT of poetry from memory (very impressive), and the rest of us recited a few things or jammed a bit. a talent show of sorts. new christmas tradition? uncle bob bought us all books and made very personal selections. i can now add kipling's kim to my reading list. bob now has a copy of machiavelli's prince, which is convenient since i'll be revisiting machiavelli this term for class. it's nice when you can talk homework with your beau. so pictured are farhan, roohi, mom and pierce at lunch... ben on drums and jack on guitar after dinner... and bob with christine and the family robotic pet. good times.

Friday, December 22, 2006

merry christmas

Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

how not to do secret santa

i hope this doesn't offend mike...

my team at work decided to do secret santa, emphasis on secret. the object was to give someone a gift WITHOUT being detected. apparently mike drew my name out of the santa hat. he went through great lengths to hide his identity. he posted clues in public places leading me to the gift (which was in the mail room) so as not to get caught putting it in my office. smart. but he gave me something that he and i actually bought together at an after christmas sale last year. not smart if you're trying to be secretive. nice try, santa boy.

Friday, December 15, 2006

most technologically advanced prosthetic arm in the universe

maybe you've heard about the bionic arm. basically, this prosthetic arm is able to send and receive messages to/from your brain and thus move and grip, etc. much like a real arm would. part human, part robot, all awesome. here is a pic of the most technologically advanced prosthetic arm in the universe that my friend bob is working on. he may actually be leading up the project, or else his work friends tell me that to impress me. what's important to note is the object the hand is gripping. that is one beautiful baseball. genuine italian leather. perhaps purchased from hamilton robbins, your one stop shop (in lexington at least) for distinctive gifts and design scruples?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

cousin christmas

every year for as long as i can remember, the cousins on my mom's side of the family have drawn names to see which cousin they will get a christmas gift for. it's fun because we're actually a pretty close knit group, even now that we're spread out across the states. this year i drew erin (the ballerina on the right) and i'm having fun remembering what gifts thrilled me the most at her age. suggestions? i remember liking really crafty things. i could get a set of 30 markers and my imagination would run wild. i never got too excited about the apple and orange santa would put in my stocking. filler.

Monday, December 11, 2006

midnight train

friday night bob and i took an 11 hour train down to charleston for a wedding. it was awesome. we got a sleep car with bunk beds and a toilet and sink and luggage compartment. the space efficiency was amazing! i got the top bunk, which drops down from the ceiling. we even ate dinner with a stranger in the dining car. i highly recommend this method of travel. bob looks like he's about to explode with excitement...

Friday, December 08, 2006

preceptorial bliss

preceptorial = the elective class lauren take's at st. john's each term.

johnnies had two good reasons to celebrate last night. 1) precep papers were due. this is the biggest paper of the term (and the only grade in that particular kind of class), so the end-of-term frenzy is now over. still one week of school, but the vibe is much more chill post paper. 2) we received our precep assignments for next term (those of us that are returning). this is like bid day, if you're familiar with the greek system. a few weeks ago i got a list of electives and ranked my choices 1 to 6. last night the magic envelope in my school mail box revealed the following: "you have been assigned to the spring 2007 preceptorial on montesquieu's persian letters and the spirit of the laws." i'm psyched. this was my first choice because the tutor is supposed to be awesome, montesquieu has influenced other writers i enjoy and it'll be a good way to practice my french in preparation for benin.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

mom's b-day

*dunnunununuh* they say it's your birthday! *dunnunununuh* it's my birthday too, yeah!! mom loves to sing the beatles on her b-day, which was saturday. my brothers stephen and pierce came in town for some quality time (and roof fixing... thank goodness for boys). we had a progressive celebration in locust point... dinner at hull street blues cafe, dessert at bob's, libations at jp's. we laughed a lot... as always.

Monday, December 04, 2006


anna's beau jason is in town (from australia) so we decided to have a girls' (plus boyfriends) night at pazo. yummmm. we had a ton of great spanish food... though i think the boys would probably disagree with the term "ton" since i've never heard a guy say he's full after eating at a tapas restaurant. just look at this classy group of chicas. we stopped by anna's later, where various people had left halloween paraphernalia from last month's costume party. like this viking hat. good times. i'm going to be sad when anna moves to australia next month.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


i've got over 250 pics from hawaii... and it's a tough job to decide what to post. here's what i ate for thanksgiving... on the beach. yummy and pretty. here's hat island. smooth photography, bob. here's a crab that bob caught. he let it go. i caught a hermit crab on the north shore and named it hermes. sadly, hermes didn't make it a day outside his beach habitat. sorry little guy. here's me and bob at lizard rock. legend says that a big lizard used to guard the island till one man came and chopped him into 5 pieces, throwing the lizard parts out to sea. the rock formation behind us is one of the larger "lizard" pieces. the sunsets in oahu are really amazing. we spent 2 days on the big island hiking around volcanoes. soooooo cool. the volcano is still active. steam pours out of holes everywhere. lava has flowed over parts of the road. we laugh in the face of danger. this is the little cottage we stayed in at the kilauae military camp, complete with christmas decorations. it was cute and cozy. we did a little (7+ mile) sunrise hike to the lava flow. we were definitely the only people up, so it was like hiking alone on another planet. you can see the steam from the lava flow right behind bob. if you were actually there, you'd see the red hot magma shooting out of the ground and into the ocean. it's amazing! we also saw lots of rainbows, which remind me of God and of my friend lorraine too. lauren loooves rainbows. this is a lava lake we hiked into. you can barely see the trail going across the middle. surrounding the lava lake are rain forests. we did a LOT of walking. which called for a LOT of ice cream. we hit up a botanical garden on our way back to the airport. never a dull moment.

moments not caught on film include lauren getting a flu shot in the chicago air port, walking through lava tubes (caves), the clearest night skies and brightest stars i've ever seen, knitting hats on the airplane, oregon trail, and talking about how thankful we are for family, friends, and amazing life experiences.

big mahalo to michele and bob for letting us crash with their cat jinks and for arranging an absolutely awesome trip to the big island. i hope you come visit africa so i can return the favor! and big big mahalo to blind date bob for being a non-stop rockin' travel companion.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

back on the mainland

got back to baltimore this morning... went straight to work and feeling a little jet lagged. i'll post more pics this week, but for now here's a shout out to jinks the cat. thanks for letting us crash in oahu with you little buddy. we really had an awesome time.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

rainin' on my parade

bob and i are leaving at el cracko of el dawno tomorrow for oahu. just checked the forecast... rain starts tomorrow and ends the day we return. looks like i'll have more time to work on my kafka paper than i thought! no worries. i like rain.

Monday, November 20, 2006

ladies' night

about a year ago a few girls at my church got together and started a book club/bible study thing on sunday nights. this fall we started meeting at the sunday school hour and more girls joined in. it's so cool to think nothing like this existed this time last year, and now we've created a real sense of community for young women in our church. we're about to finish a book called "sex and the soul of a woman" which is pretty funny to see printed in the church bulletin. especially when they print my name next to it. anyway, a bunch of us met up saturday night... and still made it to church the next morning. (note the tv screen in the background... it's only funny if you know bob).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

scary weather

i just spent the past 30 minutes curled up in a ball in chair in chris' office with two other work buddies. they all had their faces pressed against the window watching the storm. i was as far from the window as can be. i forgot how scary storms can be. it's been as dark as night for the past two hours... in the middle of the afternoon! but the sky is lighter now, so i'm going to go to school before it gets crazy again. i'm reminded of days in tx with tornado drills... makes me feel (and act) like a little kid.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

forest gump

i love taking the train to and from dc. i'll admit i was complaining as i got ready this morning that i had to spend so much time traveling for just one meeting, but i really do love trains. i can't imagine how much homework i would get done if i had a two hour train ride every day to sit and read. shoot, i'd have time to read for pleasure too.

on my way back from dc today i sat next to a guy that loved trains as much as bubba loved shrimp in forest gump. the kid, from macon, georgia, even talked like gump. we were parked at union station, not even moving yet, and the kid goes, "look at that train! it's come all the way from chicago!" i looked up from my book and smiled, "are you from chicago? how do you know?" he responded, "i'm not from chicago. i just love amtrak." (he actually specified amtrak as he pointed to the amtrak lanyard around his neck.) he then went on to tell me all the places he had been via train in the past few weeks and months. "do you never fly places?" i asked. "the only way you'd ever catch me on a plane is shackled, bound and gagged," he said with big dramatic eyes. it was hard not to laugh. especially considering he was probably in his early 20s.

Monday, November 13, 2006

girls vs boys

nothing can take me out of a funk like time with the chicas. last wednesday i was in a grrrr kinda mood, and dinner with my girlfriends fixed me up in a flash. girl time carried over to the weekend when anna and christina and i ran away to lex for a few days. lots of reading, sleeping, eating, knitting, romance movie watching, convertible joy riding... we were definitely a girlie force to be reckoned with.

meanwhile, the guys went golfing. perfect.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


i'm not really a political person. sure, i majored in politics and i work in politics, but i'm more pro-people than pro-party. as in government for the people and by the people: democracy. so i had a little party tuesday night to celebrate democracy, no party affiliations necessary. sadly, only about half my friends voted. not much to celebrate there (other than the yummy desserts). why is it that we take our right to vote for granted? and why do people who don't vote then turn around and complain about the government? vote, people. please.

so my boss, governor ehrlich, was not re-elected. i was/am pretty bummed. i really think ehrlich has done a good job as gov, and it seems that people were voting against bush rather than voting against ehrlich or for baltimore mayor o'malley. others are free to disagree with me. it is government by the people and the people have sent a message to the government... and that's important. i'm just sad my boss had to get caught up in it because he's a good guy. in my opinion, o'malley has some big shoes to fill.

Monday, November 06, 2006

camping in the cold

i must admit i felt a bit skeptical when we pulled up to the campsite at elk neck on saturday. this can't really be camping? pitching a tent next to rv's? so many people around? indoor bathrooms? but i didn't really mind because i knew that time with brian, minnie, anna and bob was time well spent. boy, was that an understatement.

it turns out that camping at camp sites is cool. granted, it's not at all packing in a few miles and escaping civilization. but campsites, i've discovered, serve their own unique purpose. one of the pro's is the food. you can't cook up burgers, brats, chicken, veggies and yams in the wilderness. YUM. another new favorite: smores with dark chocolate. mmm... and while it was a bit chilly, we crammed 5 people in a tent to form our own little igloo. combined with bob's unending supply of coffee, tea and hot chocolate, we survived with no frost bite casualties.

lesson learned: campsite camping is to "real" camping as blue box kraft mac & cheese is to "real" mac and cheese... or garden burgers are to red meat burgers. while not a substitute, they are wonderful in their own right.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

when the cat's away...

the mice will play. crissy and i got caught in big mike the hammer's office while he's in indiana. the ironic thing is, i actually get more work done when the boss is out. i have a theory about me and work. i think i'm more task oriented than time oriented. i'm willing to bet that if you said i needed to accomplish x, y and z before going home for the day, i would do so efficiently and thoroughly. but if you say i have to be at the office for 8 hours, what does that really mean? i'll still do the work because i have a work ethic and i think my work is important, but i respond to tasks. i need deadlines. knowing this will help me to structure my work day better, maybe. just thinking out loud.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

kid pets

i'm sure you've all received forwards of pets in halloween costumes. shoot, i've even sent such emails to my animal loving friends. i used to think only strange pet owners dressed up their cats or dogs, which is why i've found those emails odd and funny. but it's not just the weirdos anymore. normal people dress up their pets too! i think this is because very few of us have kids. however, many of my friends have kid pets. here we have tex and indiana (kid pets of kim and scott) as darth vader and princess lea, and carolyn with her kid pet molly the pumpkin hound.

the neighborhood kids were out in full force last night. i think our candy was finished off in less than half an hour, but there were some cute costumes. minnie mouse was my favorite. and the girl that kept stepping on her mermaid tail. i salute all the teachers working with kids on sugar highs today.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

trick or treat

i'm giving up on fixing red eyes. just pretend i was a possessed cheerleader and anna was rainbow bright with lazer beam eyes for halloween. other notable costumes were christy's smurfette get up, complete with lots of blue paint, and blind-date-bob, who was blind.

trick: i went "mountain" biking this weekend at patapsco, which is surprisingly close to the city! if i had known you could drive just 15 minutes and be transported to trails with trees and streams, my first year in baltimore would have been much happier. it's not quite virginia, but it'll do. in any case, the real trick is that i have this painful bruise on my leg from falling off the bike sunday. it's getting increasingly purply blue, but it's totally worth it for a great afternoon outside and trying something new.

treat: i got a call from my boss-to-be in benin this morning! it came up as "unavailable number" and i couldn't understand him at first, so i thought it was a telemarketer and said, "please remove me from your calling list." i almost hung up, but then he said, "i'm calling from benin..." AH! we talked about what work i could be doing and i told him i'm practicing my french. he said they are all praying for me and so excited for me to join them. wow!

Friday, October 27, 2006


i sent an abbreviated version of the myers briggs test around to the other peeps on my team at work today. there are 5 of us. 3 are intj's, 1 (mike) is entj and i'm enfj. this means that i'm an extrovert (really?), intuitive, feeling and judging (which does not mean judgemental).

here's what the website said about me in relationships, and i realize i'm totally shooting myself in the foot by posting this... but might as well let peeps know what they're in for. interestingly, my personality type is referred to as "teacher." right on...

teachers bring all this infectious energy to their intimate relationships as well, and they make passionate and delightfully creative companions. however, at such close range the intensity of their wishes for their loved ones can create interpersonal conflict. teachers can overwhelm their loved ones with their exuberance, and with their pygmalion presumption that everyone wants to be helped along the path of self-discovery. then, when their loved ones either resist their pressure or fail to meet their idealistic expectations, teachers can feel frustrated, disillusioned, or even betrayed by the persons they care most about.

be afraid. be very afraid.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

baby feet

my friends caroline and jt had their first baby... a sweet little girl named julianne. i just flipped through the pics of julianne's first month of life. babies are amazing! the whole process--pregnancy, birth, baby, developing human being--astounds me. julianne's little pink feet are perfect.

it's hard for me to imagine having kids at this point, though my mom was almost ready for #3 at my age. i mean, i'm still just a kid! but seeing pics like this does tug at my heart strings a bit. so somewhere deep inside my kid-self there just could be a someday-mom. scary, i know.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

i'm sad

as i'm writing this post, a very special young girl is being laid to rest beside her father in pakistan. going to karachi this summer was neat because i got to be a part of farhan and roohi's wedding, but even more so because i was able to break through cultural and linguistic differences and really connect with people. samana was someone i especially clicked with. she was so eager to practice her english and taught me more urdu than anyone else. she had just lost her father and we talked a lot about him. i would wake up from a nap and she would be sitting on my bed holding my teddy bear, waiting quietly and patiently to ask whatever new question had popped into her head.

samana taught me to say "i miss you very much" in urdu. i'm sure i'm spelling it wrong, but it sounds like "may nay tombhay bahat yadkia." i was actually thinking about samana and this phrase this morning as i drove to work. it wasn't until after i arrived at the office that i heard from farhan that samana had died of dengue fever. five people have died of dengue in karachi this month.

it's just very bewildering when young people full of so much life suddenly die.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

first 5k

race for the cure was saturday and team chicksspeak had a blast. this was my first 5k and i hadn't run 3+ miles since high school, but it's surprisingly easy when everyone around you is so fired up. it was especially cool to run alongside men and women with signs "in celebration of" or "in memory of" a mom, sister or friend pinned to their backs. helps to give you a sense of purpose on a cold morning. pictured are anna, me, christina, jess and kim.

Monday, October 23, 2006

reviving ray

ray, the wonder fish, needed a change of water this morning. i always give ray the freshest of spring water, but opted for tap water today... thinking the resilient little guy could handle the change. apparently not. i looked up from my computer just minutes after the water change and found poor little ray resting on the rocks of his bowl, looking sad and distressed. ray never rests, so i knew this was an emergency. my coworkers flooded my office, very concerned for what has become the mea mascot. but i knew what ray needed. not tap water. so i grabbed some bottled water from the kitchen (meant for mea guests) and made the switch as quickly as possible. he made a speedy recovery and we're all pleased to see ray swimming along as happily as ever. (susan, i know this story will bring a little tear to your eye).

Thursday, October 19, 2006


i met a lady who was in benin this summer and she gave me a cd full of pictures. this is one of my favorites. this car is totally loaded with live goats. goats are tied up and piled into the back of the car and tied to the top of the car as well. my guess is this makes for a very loud and stinky drive to the market (or wherever). i will not tie live goats to my moped.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

turkey in hawaii

i'm going to hawaii for turkey day... because the answer to last minute travel (especially to exotic destinations) is always yes. as you know, there was an eathquake this weekend. the damage incurred to the estate where i'll be staying is pictured above. my sources tell me no lives were lost.

Monday, October 16, 2006

sunday sailing

bob and anna (pictured) and i went sailing sunday. it was the best day of sailing i've ever had.

a) the company was great. bob has a knack for teaching me things without me realizing that i'm learning. anna has a way of saying things that makes me just want to sit and listen.

b) the weather was perfect. the sun was shining, the skies were clear, the breeze was good. considering it's october, i was relieved we didn't have to wear gloves and ear muffs. though i DID jump in the water... and jump back out about as quickly. COLD!

c) this was the first time i really got to sail (other times have been marked by a lack of wind). it was fun, but also a little scary. at one point i was absolutely sure we were about to tip over. bob and anna both smiled at me calmly as i looked at them with my mouth gaping open, thinking 'holy ****!" it was awesome.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

peace out

roohi was playing sly photographer sunday and snagged this shot. it was a perfect afternoon for reading and thinking with my toes in the cool grass and sun all around. i love fed hill.

i wrote to yfc today and accepted the invitation to join their missionary staff. this past week as i've prayed and pondered... i've been waiting for some decisive moment to direct me one way or another. what i found instead was that the answer was already inside me and i just needed time to grow into it. so no lightning bolt revelations, just peaceful self awareness. it's a good thing.

Monday, October 09, 2006


though i'm giving myself just a few more days to think and pray about it, i've pretty much come to a peaceful decision to move to benin west africa this summer. i will be living (for 2 years?) in the coastal city of cotonou, pictured here. i have more pics i'll post later. if you have any thoughts on my decision, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Friday, October 06, 2006

more on work

while i'm on the topic of the gov, i thought i'd post this link to the commercial our office did two years back. lucky for me, it's no longer on the air waves... but we keep it on our website for your viewing pleasure. "really?" you need quicktime to view it. mike doesn't know it yet, but crissy (from my office) and i are going to crash the talk he's giving at university of maryland today. we turned down wearing jeans on a rainy friday for this. that's dedication. putting hyperlinks in posts is fun.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

change the world

yesterday was the kick off for energy star's "change a light, change the world" campaign. the idea is to encourage consumers to change at least one bulb in their home to a compact fluorescent lightbulb (call 'em cfl's if you want to sound like you're in the know) which use a lot less energy. so you save money ($30 over the lifetime of the bulb) and save energy which is good for our economy and our environment. i'd give you stats, but you can find them by clicking here and pledging to change a light in your home. we did a little event at home depot with the gov and epa. good times...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

holy harley

last week i went to denver for missionary candidate school. it was great to see those colorado blue skies and snow capped mountains. the weather was perfect and i took several naps on the grass (because naps in the grass are almost as soothing to my soul as naps in a hammock).

both the leaders with youth for christ (yfc) and the other candidates were truly amazing people. i wasn't really sure what to expect, but i can now say these are people i care a lot about. so... will i be a missionary? on my way to benin? good question. first yfc has to invite me, then i have to respond. there's a lot to think/pray about between now and then. but i at least know that i won't be leaving before june, so yes, that means i'll finish my degree at st. john's first. mark your calendars for may 19 for a hot graduation in annapolis.

one of the cool things about colorado is that you don't have to wear a helmet. maybe that's not cool if you crash, but i enjoyed riding around on royal's harley with the wind in my face and hair. ahhh... even more refreshing than my convertible. which brings me to the point of transportation in benin. one of the things i had to budget for was a moped. personally, i think that's way cool. if you come visit, i'll take you for a spin. on my moped.