Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm Back, I'm Back, I'm Soo Back!

Well, I've officially finished my first semester at BYU! It has been a crazy, busy (and sometimes hard) few months, but I am grateful for all that I've learned, both academically and just as a person. I just finished my last final. I have literally been studying about 8 hours a day for the past 2 weeks (minus Saturdays/Sundays), and now I am finally FREE!!! I asked myself what the first thing I wanted to do was, and of course, ALIgories popped into my mind. I've missed it more than I thought was possible!
But wow, soo much has happened since I've last posted! To sum it all up, though, BYU has been one of the best experiences of my life so far! Each day I wake up and even when life seems hard, I know I'm in the right place for me right now. It is where I'm supposed to be, and I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to work hard and learn.
Since I blogged last, I have had all sorts of adventures. I was able to go with my family to our favorite place in the world--the beach house! Nothing but pure JOY in the shining sun! :)

(Luckily I was able to get caught up in school...)

I've also been trying to develop new talents, as well as keep my old ones strong... still dancing a ton but also learning to cook, manage time, and even sew my own clothes!--hahaha j/k. But I am definitely becoming quite the artist, don't ya think?!!

Finally, I've gained so many new friends! My roomies, Courtney and Kaitlyn, are the best! I seriously feel like I've known them forever, and we get along perfectly together (I was nervous I'd get some crazy BYU weirdos or something, but there was nothing to worry about!).

(Halloween was a blast... never can have too many costumes!)

(Our favorite reward for acing tests is frozen yogurt at FroZone.)

So despite all the hard work at the Creamery on Ninth...

and the late nights doing homework in the Harold B. Lee Library,
LIFE IS GOOD and every day is a beautiful one. There is so much to love! I am so thankful for my crazy and loving family, for my loyal and true friends (both old and new), and for my supportive and undertanding Heavenly Father.

It's crazy to think about how so much can change so fast, and how you never know where life will take you next. Last year at this time, I had nooo idea that this is where I'd be. But that, I guess, is why life is so exciting.

May we all allow life to take us on the journey we're meant to travel and love it for what it has to offer. Although we may not know all of our own destinations just yet, it's okay; we can enjoy each moment of being alive, having each other in our company, and wondering where life will take us next.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Current Biological Issue: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

While I was in high school, I had the privilege of getting to know someone who was very kind and special. He was one of the most genuinely altruistic people I've ever met, and he deserved to have a happy, healthy life. Although he was a very optimistic person, he carried a burden that no one should have to live with: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The encumbering factor wasn't the fact that he had this syndrome; it was the fact that it could have been prevented. When I got the assignment to address a current biological issue for my Biology class at BYU, I knew exactly what I would choose to research and resolve. If you'd like to learn about FAS and be a part of my assignment, go ahead and read on. If not, I'll be back with ALIgories soon!
Thanks, guys! :)

The World As They See It
National Geographic February 2005

Ellen O'Donovan found out she was pregnant while she was fighting a vicious battle against her one huge impediment: alcoholism. She could barely handle her own struggles with it, let alone worry about physically passing it on to her son. By the time she found out she was pregnant (two months into her pregnancy), it was already too late. Her son, Malcolm, was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and had many impairments such as poor vision, defective kidneys and stomach, being extremely undersized, and having multiple learning disabilities at birth, due to his mother's alcoholism. Ellen is grateful to have her son in her life and hasn't taken a drink in three and a half years (as of February, 2005), however, she still has to live with all the consequences and guilt. She wants mothers and future mothers to be educated and smart when it comes drinking during pregnancies because the many effects of FAS are devasting circumstances that nobody should ever have to live with.

The Problem:
According to a study done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Acoholism in the US, 1-3 live births out of 1,000 are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the U.S. On the Manitoba reserve in Canada, 100 of 1,000 live births are born with FAS. Although every country, state, and town have different percentages of this harmful quandary, it is no-doubt a problem that needs to be more -fully understood, addressed, and prevented as much as possible.

My Solution:
In order to prevent this awful syndrome from occurring so frequently, I believe it is absolutely essential to learn more about the severity of its effects (especially on the brain). Once we know exactly what it can do (and to what extent), informing people will be much more effective and influencial; it won't be merely opinions or theories but facts, and that's when people truly listen and take caution. It is also necessary to know about different people's views on the matter, to know exactly how educated on FAS they are. It will then be easier (and more instrumental) to cater different FAS awareness/education programs according to what each area's specific needs are.

Understanding What Exactly FAS Does to the Brain:
(a supporting peer-reviewed journal)

S.R. Ghimire, A.K. Saxena, D. Rai, and S. Dhungel from the Department of Anatomy and the Patan Academy of Health Sciences wanted to not only understand what FAS can physically do to a fetus, but also understand the histological effects of it on the cerebellum . To do this, they fed famale rats 20.0% alcohol every single day for fourteen days before they began to mate, and then every day for the rest of their pregnancies. Then, twenty-seven days after the rat pups were born, they were killed and observed. The scientists studied, weighed, and processed the rats' cerebellums and came up with a lot of applicable data. Their results are as follows:

-The rat pups' brains weighed much less/were less dense than the brains of regular, healthy rats.

-The diameter of Purkinje cells (cells found in the brain) was smaller in the FAS rats.

-The width of the molecular and granular layers was also smaller in these rats.

*What all of this means is that the consumption of alcohol does affect the brain and the rate/success of its growth. The "histological architecture of cerebellum," as the scientists put it, is significantly altered and slowed, resulting in mental handicaps.

Effectively Creating Campaigns for FAS Prevention:
(a supporting peer-reviewed journal)

Because every country, state, and community is different and people understand FAS on very different levels, it is important for leaders of communities/organizations and supporters of FAS prevention to understand what needs to be explained to mothers and potential mothers. E. Peadon, J. Payne, N. Henley, H. D'Antoine, A. Bartu, C. O'Leary, C. Bower, and E.J. Elliot from BMC Public Health conducted a national survey in Australia concerning "women's knowledge and attitudes regarding alcohol consumption in pregnancy." Basically what they did was interwiew women ages 18-45 regarding their opinions, understandings, and awarenesses towards alcohol consumption and the results of it on the unborn child. The results they recieved are as follows:

-61.5% had heard about what alcohol can do to a fetus.

-53% had heard of FAS

-16.2% of the 92.7% who believed alcohol can affect a fetus didn't agree that the damage done could be permanent.

-Women with higher education levels seemed to be more aware of how alcohol can affect pregnancy.

-There was not necessarily a correlation between knowledge/education and attitude toward the matter.

*Their conclusion states that there was a "disjunction between and attitudes towards alcohol consumption in pregnancy." Now that they more-fully understand the women's awarenesses and outlooks in their country (as they'd encourage other countries and communities to do), they'll be able to more-effectively create campaigns for the reduction of FAS there.

In the meantime, what are some every-day habits you and I can maintain to help prevent FAS?

For the mothers...

-Familiarize yourself with the risks of drinking during pregnancy (and always, really).

-Attend maternity classes to become familiar with the severity of FAS effects.

-Establish/join support groups for soon-to-be mothers who might be tempted to drink during pregnancies.

-Don't be afraid to ask questions; contact your doctor with any concerns you may have.

-Make an educated decision concerning your alcohol consumption before you become pregnant.

-Simply abstain from alcohol.

-If abstinence isn't for you, use reliable contraception until the decision to become pregnant has been made. That way, you'll be prepared to stay away from alcohol consumption when you're aware that it's necessary to do so.

For the public, communities, family, and friends of expectant mothers...

-Implement public policies concerning alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

-Create/vote for harsher legislation for underage drinking in order to more-fully caution young mothers, and therefore, decrease the percentages of FAS in your community.

-Become actively-involved in reminding mothers of the severe effects of FAS.

-Encourage family and friends to abstain from alcohol, especially during pregnancy.

As students at Brigham Young University, we've all obviously chosen to abstain from alcohol. We understand that keeping the Word of Wisdom is part of the Honor Code, and more importantly, for our own health and well-being. Hopefully, students here at this University won't have to worry about FAS personally, but it does affect those around us daily. I would strongly encourage anyone and everyone who is willing, to support the fight against FAS and become as involved as you can in the progression towards prevention.


Ghimire, SR., Saxena, AK., Rai, D., & Dhungel, S. (2009). Effect of maternal alcohol consumption on cerebellum of rat pups: a histological study. Nepal Medical College Journal, 4, 268-71. Retrieved from

Peadon, E., Payne, J., Henley, N., D'Antonie, H., Bartu, A., O'Leary, C., Bower, C., & Elliott, E.J. (2010). Women's knowledge and attitudes regarding alcohol consumption in pregnancy: a national survey. BMC Public Health, 10. Retrieved from
Square, D. (1997). Fetal alcohol syndrome epidemic on Manitoba reserve. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 157. Retrieved from

Steinmetz, G. (2005). The World as They See It. National Geographic, 181. Retrieved from

Photos taken from:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's Time to Turn the Page

So this is it. I've continually put it off for as long as possible. But it's Saturday night and I don't have much more time. I don't know why I'm so scared of it... everyone grows up, everyone does this! It's not that I don't know that... I'm not quite sure what it is. All I know is that this means I am "Grown-up Ali" now, and there's no going back. This part of my life is complete and it's time to move on.
My mom and I gathered up all my stuff last Wednesday and took it down to the new apartment (it doesn't feel right to call it mine yet). We loaded the cars slowly but surely, taking one load after another down. I tried so hard to hold it together, to be excited for this change. But each step I took got harder and harder as I realized I was really moving out and away from the most amazing family on this Earth. When I looked at my mom and realized she was in tears too, I wondered why I was even doing this...
"No one ever said it would be this hard."
Sometimes I just want to be a little kid again
" go back to the start."
I need them... I don't want to leave yet.
But I know it's time...
Goodbye room and closets and bed.
Goodbye nightly family dinners.
Goodbye morning walks with my sweet mama every day.
Goodbye to Trey's shiny quarters and rocks and to Dax's never-ending questions.
Goodbye to joking and teasing from Bray, Matt, and Coley all the time (I secretly love it).
Goodbye to Dad's late-night text messages reminding me to squeeze his hand to let him know I'm home safely and in for the night.
And goodbye to much, much more.
I'll miss you while I'm gone.
But I WILL be back (and often!).
I'm still your daughter, sister, and niece;
I'm still your grandaughter, cousin, and friend.
I'm moving on to another chapter of my life.
I'm not closing the book but simply turing the page.
Wish me luck, and I'll see all of you soon!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The End of My Beginning... Paris

Goodness gracious, it has been awhile! Now that I'm home and am (finally) through with my teeth trouble and getting back into the swing of things, I must share with you the last bit of my adventure... Paris!
Emily and I were so lucky; we were able to go without kids, which meant we could eat out, spend our days however we wished, and yes... walk down stairs without tripping over the stroller! ;)
The first day we were there, we got our museum fill by going to the extensive but ever-so-magnificent Louvre. Of course we couldn't get through even a fourth of what was there, but we were able to see the Mona Lisa, as well as a lot of amazing Dutch art.

We had lunch at the Rodin Sculpture Garden and enjoyed both the beautiful art as well as some good fun posing with the statues there! :)
Don't these statues remind you of Beyonce?!!
"All the single ladies, all the single ladies..."
I'm a thinker too...

We also saw Monet's famous Waterlilies at the Orangerie!

We even gave a shout-out to good ol' Napoleon in his tomb!

Later that night, we had dinner outdoors at a picturesque place recommended by our hero-vacation-guide, Rick Steves. I even got to try lamb for the first time!

Afterwards, we went to one of the most amazing places I've ever been: The Eiffel Tower. The brilliant lights, enlivening music, silly street dancers, breath-taking views, and just the energy of it all almost brought me to tears... it was incredible.

The next day, we woke up early and went to Notre Dame, which I absolutely loved! The mosaics, stained glass, and crazy architecture completely stole my heart!

From there, we were planning on seeing a Ballet, but we got a little side-tracked with the fabulous shopping. We walked into Minelli and were soo infatuated with all of the gorgeous shoes! It is not often you score a day of shopping in Paris, so we decided... what the heck?! We spent the rest of the afternoon getting lost on the Champs-elysees and other shopping boulevards. You like?!? :)
My favorite museum came next... the Orsay! Oh my goodness, all of this Impressionist stuff was so magical and really spoke to me. I HAVE to see more and go back again someday.
I had to laugh when I saw this painting because the whole time I was there, dentistry took over my life, and yet once again, here was this reoccurring motif haunting me in the Orsay!

Later on, Em and I had dinner at another fabulous restaurant on the streets of Paris! We had so much fun dining out and wearing our adorable new shoes! ;) Then, to end our lovely little excursion, we got some perfectly-sculped French gelato.
Bon appetit!

It b-r-o-k-e my heart to leave Paris! It was definitely a HUGE highlight of those six weeks, so a grateful thanks to cute Emily for introducing the city to me!

After a few days of unwinding, it was time to pack my bags and head home. It was so sad that all of my adventures, learning experiences, and time spent with family were coming to an end. It had truly been the TIME OF MY LIFE, and I was totally despondent about leaving. The one thing that this journey has taught me though is that this is only the beginning for me. I can't wait to see what the future holds as I head off to BYU in just a few short days! It is so weird (and a little nerve-racking) to be growing up and beginning a whole new adventure now, but ya' know what?! Bring it on because I'm ready for it! I'm going to work hard, live it up, and make the most out of every moment of this exciting

Friday, July 23, 2010

I'm coming home?!?!!

Hello! I am so far behind on bloggin' and still need to do the rest of our trip to Holland before I post about Paris (...which, by the way, was A-MAZING!). So here is a quick run-down of what we did in this fabulous country before we left:

One thing I had really been looking forward to was the Anne Frank Museum. Holy cowzers! It was honestly one of the coolest things I've ever done! Taking the tour of her actual house put the whole book into reality. I suddenly understood how truly tiny and confined the secret annex was, and how miserable and scary it must've been. It was really interesting and cool to go into all of the rooms, to see her actual diary, and learn more history about it all. Em and I took turns going in, while the other one of us played with the kids at the park.

After the the Anne Frank Museum and the park, we headed over to the beach... THIS is why I love Holland! It is everything you could ever possibly want all in one country... big city, small farms, history, art, food, and even my favorite thing in the world... the beach! We had so much fun building sand castles, playing in the waves, and just soaking up the sweet summer rays!

Afterwards, we went across the street to a delicious restaurant and enjoyed the view while eating salad and real Italain pizza! Mmm...

The last morning we woke up and went to the Ten Boom Museum. The Hiding Place is seriously one of my very favorite books ever, and it was SO INCREDIBLE to actually go into this house and be there where it all happened. I even got to crawl through and go into the 2' by 10' hiding place they hid the Jews in.
Before heading out of Holland, we stopped by this random, amazing museum that is in the middle of the woods! You can totally just ride a bike into the forest and go see some Picasso... no big deal or anything! ;)

Holland was so awesome. I am so happy I had the chance to go with Emily and the cute kids, and it has been an experience that I'll never ever forget!
I am coming home in just a few days! It is soo crazy that the time is already here! After my tooth troubles ended, the time flew by, and I can't believe I. am. coming. home. I am so excited to see everyone... I've missed you soo much! But I am also so sad to say goodbye to Emily, Claire, Jackson, and all of the other friends I've made here in Europe. I am really going to miss them. I just want to say thanks to Em and the kids for making my time here so wonderful, for making me feel at home, and for helping me learn and grow so much. I love you guys so much!
To everyone else, I'll see you SOON, and I can't wait!
Here it goes... I'm on my way!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Holland: Part One

Hey iedereen, we hebben het veilig naar Nederland en ik hou hier! :)
That's Dutch for: Hey everyone! We made it safely to Holland and I love it here! :)
Here we are in this little town right outside Amsterdam. We are staying on a cute little cow farm! I've never really been the super outdoor-sy type, but I can't get enough of it!!!
This is right outside our place:

The main bedroom/living area:

The colorful kitchen space with random, mismatched dishes:

And the cheery entrance to the humble abode:

Really though, I think I've found my cup of tea! Everyone here is willing to help you with just about anything you'd imagine! I mean ANYTHING! Once we got to our bed-and-breakfast (which is attached to a Dutch/Bohemian/surfer/river guiding couple's house), Em and I found this friendly little note they left for us in the Amsterdam City Guide book:
I am lovin' the easy-going, matter-of-fact vibe here! I could totally get used to this (hahaha)!

On our way in, we stopped at Burgers' Zoo to take a break from driving for a bit. We had a lot of fun, and we were all super excited for more fun to come! Well... at least most of us... ;)

It was good to finally get there after a long day of driving though. After we unpacked and I got my massage from Maurits (haha totally kidding... don't worry, Dad!), we made a delicious dinner with Dutch butter, cheese, and of course, chocolate. I know, terrible, right?! It's ok, it was totally worth it...

Yesterday morning, we took the kids to the Nemo science museum in Amsterdam and had a BALL! There were so many fun things to do there, in fact, I learned a lot myself! :)

After the museum, we went into Haarlem, which is home of Corrie Ten Boom from the book, The Hiding Place (one of my all-time fav's!). We are taking a tour of her house/watch shop on Tuesday morning... I am so excited! But Haarlem is just so cute and quaint--definately my favorite city we've been to! There was a fun farmers' market going on, and everyone just rides their little bikes around! Words can't describe the unique CHARM of Haarlem!

This morning, we woke up early and cruised on over to Amsterdam. There, Emily and I took turns going into museums. First was the Rijksmuseum, which is where painters including Vermeer and Rembrandt are! I was in complete awe and loved being able to see these renowned artists' works.

Claire, Jackson, and I had a great time doing some "still life painting for kids" outside the museum while Emily went in. Claire loved being an artist and making her very own masterpiece! How cute is she??!
Afterwards, we walked down the street to the Van Gogh Museum. I had no idea this guy was such a stud! I mean, I roughly knew a little background info, but seeing this man's work was prodigious beyond the imagination! I fell in love with everything about him!

After getting a little museum-ed out, Emily took the kids back to the cow farm, and I decided to stick around in Amsterdam for a bit longer. I had quite the adventure here! I ate the most amazing macaroon (a tribute to my mom and g-ma and our NY trip earlier this summer), watched a super cool Dutchman play the flute while doing extreme yoga poses, and just enjoyed the busy but picturesque city of Amsterdam!

When it was finally time to go home, I was a bit nervous because it takes so many steps! I had to hop on a street tram back to the central station, get on a ferry to get across the broad canal, and then get on a bus back to the cow farm! But... I rocked Berlin, got a root canal, and jumped off the Alps, so I knew I could easily get home!
Well, I was too cheap to buy a tram ticket, so I took a lonnng walk (and shopped along the way) back to the central station. Once I was there, I hopped on a ferry and lucked out because it was the right one! I didn't know if it was or not, but it was leaving, and I didn't want to wait for another one! Lucky for me, it took me back to the busses and I saw my bus... #110. At least I was pretty sure that was the one...

But it was starting to drive away!!! So I ran off some of the butter, cheese, and chocolate, and tried to stop the bus from leaving without me (Why is it that bus-chasing seems to be a reoccurring event for me?)! The nice Dutch driver saw me and stopped not too far down the road. I was relieved to have caught it and sat down to enjoy the easy, no-big-deal rest of the ride back home.

Well... about twenty minutes later, I wasn't recognizing much. I couldn't tell if we were approaching our town or not because all of Holland looks like this:

I kept asking the driver if he was going to drive past our part of town, but he kept telling me that he couldn't understand what town I was talking about (I later found out that I was saying it completely wrong). But things were NOT looking familiar at all. Half of me was laughing at the situation because it was just soo typical of me to be lost, and half of me was really actually worried that the busses would like shut down or something before I made it home...

After some more time of contemplating what to do, I finally decided I had probably just gotten on the wrong bus, so I told the driver to let me off at the next stop. By this time, the sweet old man and I were buddies, and he was happy to take me wherever I needed to get. Then, all of the sudden, I started seeing the things that Emily had told me to look for! The old Dutch church!? Check! The Texaco station!? Check! And finally... the "Cheese and Clogs" shop!? CHECK!!! The bus driver and I were both soo relieved and happy, we shouted for joy together (literally)! It was a moment. I gave him a big high-five and a "Thank you so much, you're amazing!" and hopped off the bus to get back to our cow farm house.

I know it seems like finding my way home shouldn't be that hard, but with my bad luck (and sense of direction), it was a big accomplishment for me! But even then, it's more than that. It's the fact that I can be here in beautiful Holland, "feel the love and joy here," and share it with my adorable cousins and awesome aunt. And whether "I find myself making every possible mistake," or simply breeze on by with the help of the fantastic Dutch people, it doesn't really matter because I'm NEW to this, and it's all part of the experience!
I love it.