Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Standard

So I know this doesn’t count as my sunrise on a beach, but since that was a little botched I thought I would include this.  For our day at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, we got up at 4:00 in the morning.  Yes, 4:00 in the morning.  Whoa.  It was early.  We got out of the van in the pitch black and even had to use our flashlights to see as we walked from the parking lot towards the ruins.  Our spot to watch the sun rise was at this little body of water right in front of Angkor Wat.  So we got there along with everyone else who was waiting.  Apparently seeing the sun rise there was a very popular adventure.  Who knew?  So we waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally, the sun started coming up and created reflections of Angkor Wat on the water.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  So I should include this on My Freedom List, right?

Southeast Asia

Standard

So sorry friends!  I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  School has started, and I’m back in the classroom again.  So that means working 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day.  Bringing work home.  Creating lesson plans.  Creating and making games, activities, quizzes, etc.  Anyone else feel my pain?

This will be a big post since I was able to knock out three things on My Freedom List.  Woo-hoo!  So let’s get down to business.

#1: Try a local dish in Thailand.  That one was easy since Thailand was one of the countries I visited.  Some of the dishes were SO spicy!  Not Tex-Mex spicy, but your mouth is on fire spicy!  My absolute favorite dish of all time from Thailand was actually a dessert.  Roti.  It’s street food, and it’s incredible.  You order it, and she takes a little ball of dough, flattens it out, then drops it on a hot wok-like griddle to cook, along with some hot oil and butter.  Now doesn’t that sounds good already?  You can add bananas to it if you want, which I did several times.  The bananas get all hot and gooey inside the dough.  Afterwards, she drizzles sweetened condensed milk (oh yeah) all over the top, and then chocolate on top if you wish.  Oh I wish.  Then she cuts it into little bite-size pieces with a toothpick to help you eat it. Here is the picture of heavenly sweetness.  My mouth is watering as I type this….

#2: Dance in the rain.  This one was unexpected.  We had spent the morning hiking along a waterfall and going swimming at the bottom of the waterfall, which was way cool since the little fish in the water nip your feet and bite off the dead skin off your feet.  Yep, you read that right.  It was THE weirdest feeling.  There would be these little nips and then an aggressive fish would come along and take a big bite and would shock you.  Anyway, we were leaving the waterfall, and it started raining.  This had been my absolute favorite day of this tour, and I was just giddy so I wanted to dance.  So I got out there and persuaded my friend and roommate, Laura, to join in with me.  It was awesome!  What’s so amazing when you travel the world is that you do things you wouldn’t normally no…and you don’t care what people think of you, especially since you know you’ll probably never see them again.  So here’s the picture of us dancing.  Enjoy!

#3: Take pictures of animals at the zoo.  We were in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on our last day in Vietnam.  Sad face.  I LOVED Vietnam, and I was surprised at just how much I loved it.  So a group of us decided to go to the Saigon Zoo, along with everyone else in the city.  You should have seen all the motorcycles.  Rows, rows, and rows of them.  Crazy.  Some of the exhibits just made me sad, especially the white Bengal tiger.  The poor thing was in a cramped space and was pacing back and forth, just panting and growling.  It made my heart break.  Apparently, it’s a lot better now than it has been in the past because they just don’t know any better.  Wow.  Can’t imagine what it was like in the past.  I had to step away.  Some of the exhibits were great, including the deer and my favorite, the elephants.  When we got to the elephant exhibit, I was mesmerized.  There was one elephant that I was completely taken with.  Even though we were yards away from each other with a big ditch in between us, it felt like I was right there beside him.  He just stared at me it seemed.  I think I got about 30 shots of just that one elephant.  Here are a couple of my favorites.  Isn’t he adorable?

So does this make you want to go to Southeast Asia?  I would LOVE to go back.  This was one of my most favorite trips.  Asia holds a special place in my heart. 🙂

 

The Vietnam War

Standard

I am headed to Vietnam this summer.  Tomorrow actually.  I wanted to read a book about the Vietnam War before traveling to Vietnam.  So I did a little research on Amazon (love Amazon) to find a book based on the reviews.  A Rumor of War was the top book that popped up.  And bonus that my public library had the book!

Now if you don’t know me, I love books.  I love reading.  Seriously.  I am always reading a book.  I love a book that makes you feel like you are really there, experiencing what the characters are experiencing.  This book did exactly that.  Now I know that I’ve never been a soldier or been in war.  However, I understand more now than I ever did before.  This book is a memoir of a lieutenant that actually fought in the Vietnam War.  Even the reviews say he did an excellent job portraying the Vietnam War for what it truly was.  The book captured my attention from the get-go and kept me going until the very end.

I can’t wait to be in Vietnam and learn more about its history.  There’s nothing like learning about a country’s history as you are traveling throughout that country.  I love it!

Package to the Troops

Standard

I don’t know about you, but I have wanted to do this for a very long time.  I’d just never actually done it.  In comes My Freedom List.  Now’s a perfect time to do it!

I knew the perfect person to help get me started.  My cousin, Kelly, married a captain in the Army last year, and he is currently stationed in Afghanistan.  She was so helpful and even knew of a single guy in his platoon that I could send a package to.  Woo-hoo!

Once I knew his likes, off to WalMart I went.  I had so much fun buying these treats and goodies for him.  I don’t know what it is, but I really did enjoy it.  I cannot imagine what life is actually like over there, and I am so grateful for men like him that put their lives on the line every single day for others.  Both my grandfathers were in War World II, and my dad was in the Army as well.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I might do it again.

If I have inspired you, that makes me SO happy.  Just do it.  You won’t be sorry.  And you will be making a difference in a soldier’s life.  Priceless.

Here are a couple of links to help you get started.

http://www.anysoldier.com/

http://www.operationshoebox.com/

Beautiful Sun Rise? Nope.

Standard

I LOVE the beach.  The sound of the waves and the sand between my toes.  I would be very happy if I had a beach house.  If you have a free one that you would love to give me, I’d be more than happy to take it off your hands. 🙂

So I was in Cancun, Mexico to be part of a wedding.  One of my good friends asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, and of course I said yes.  I’ve been to Cancun several times before, but I’d never been to a wedding on the beach.  Needless to say I was excited.  Now this resort where we stayed….wow.  The Dreams Riviera knows exactly how to put on a wedding.  In fact, they have 2 to 3 weddings a day there.  Getting married on the beach at sunset?  Gorgeous.  Simply gorgeous.

One of the things on my Freedom List is to see the sun rise on a beach.  What a perfect opportunity to do this since I was in Cancun!  I knew when I was going that I wanted to wake up early one morning and see the sun rise.  There’s something about seeing the sun rise over the ocean’s horizon.  So on my last morning in Cancun, I woke up at 5:45am and headed down to the beach.  The only other people up and about at that time were the workers.  It was so calm and serene.

Picture it.  The vast ocean in front of you.  The sand between your toes.  The only sound you here are the waves lapping along the shore.  Wait, scratch the last one.  Um, that didn’t happen.  Let me back up and tell you exactly what happened.

I was down on the beach with my camera all ready to take a beautiful picture of the sun rising over the ocean’s horizon.  My flip flops were dangling from my hand as I was walking along the shore, letting the water tickle my feet.  The clouds were out in full effect all along the horizon.  The sun started peeking through the clouds.  I got my camera all ready, but my camera lens was completely foggy.  Before during the trip it only took my lens about 5 minutes to adjust from the cold air conditioning to the extreme humidity outside.  However, this morning, my camera was having none of it.  You couldn’t see a thing through my lens.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zippo.  But it didn’t really matter anyway because you couldn’t see the sun through the clouds.  You could only see tiny slivers.  I was SO disappointed.  And the calm and serene quiet of the morning?  Didn’t happen either.  The sand zamboni machine (just like the ice zamboni machine but for sand to make it all pretty) was going back and forth on the sand right where I was.  And boy was it loud.  So….I decided to just walk along the shore and have a nice chat with God.  He always loves chatting with me.  It was amazing to think that He created the ocean.  Just by saying it.  It comforted me to think that He is the ultimate creator.  I get so worked up sometimes thinking that God has forgotten about me (remember I’m 39 and single and I was there to be in a wedding).  But in that moment in time, I felt like God was telling me that He knows what He’s doing.  I don’t have to worry that I’m too old or work at an elementary school and therefore don’t meet many eligible, single men.  God can talk to us through anything…a friend’s words, a song, a book, etc.  And to make sure that I completely understood how God can work, my daily devotional yesterday was exactly on that very thought, that God is constantly working behind the scenes on our behalf.  Keep an attitude of faith and expectancy.  Have faith in God and don’t throw away your confidence.  When I read that, I cried.  Thank you God.  Don’t you just love how God works?

I would LOVE to hear your “God stories”.  Please share!

Since I couldn’t get a picture of the “beautiful” sun rise, here is a picture of the ocean from my balcony view.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

The Kimbell

Standard

I have been wanting to go to the Kimbell Art Museum for years now.  Why you  ask?  I’ve had the privilege of traveling to more than 30 countries.  I always like to visit the museums when I travel to experience the culture.  Some of my favorite museums are the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, the Imperial War Museum in London, the Vatican Museum in the Vatican City in Rome, and of course the Louvre in Paris.  After visiting all the great museums, why hadn’t visited this great museum in my own backyard?  So I put it on my freedom list.  And even better, the Kimball has the Impressionist Exhibit on right now.  Bonus!  Impressionist art is my all-time favorite kind of art.  On my first trip to Paris, I went to the Musee d’Orsay and fell in love with Impressionist art and have been a fan ever since.  Monet, Renoir, van Gogh are my favorites.  I don’t know what it is about it, but I just love it.

It’s awesome how God has shown used my freedom list to strengthen my friendships.  Many of my friends want to do the activities on my freedom list with me, which is totally awesome.  It’s so much better with a friend.  When talking about my freedom list with one of my good friends, Christina, she jumped at the chance to go the Kimball with me to see the Impressionism exhibit because it’s her favorite type of art too.  Can I get a woo-hoo?

So Christina and I went to the Kimbell today, along with the rest of Fort Worth it seemed.  Guess everyone else likes the Impressionists as well.  My impression of the Impressionist exhibit?  I loved it.  Now they didn’t have my favorite Impressionist paintings, but I discovered some new favorites, like Renoir’s Doges Palace in Venice and the Girl with Falcon.  I really wanted to find a print of that one in the gift shop, but of course they didn’t have it.  Bummer.  Christina had studied and taught an elective class on it, so it was cool to talk about the paintings together.  I even learned some new things, so thanks Christina!  It was interesting to see the progression of the early Impressionist art to the late Impressionist art.  There were definite differences, and it was fun to point them out.  It was also fun to try and guess the artist based on the composition and details before reading who the artist was.

Here is the Girl with Falcon by Renoir.  Isn’t it beautiful?  Love the colors!

Sadly, I couldn’t take any pictures of the Impressionist art since it’s a special exhibit.  Boo.  However, I was able to take pictures in the permanent exhibits, and some of them were Impressionist paintings.  One was even a Monet.  Luckily, I now know how to shoot in manual mode because flash photography was not allowed.

Check out some of the pictures I took from the permanent exhibits.  Can you guess who the artist was in the painting below?

Doctor Zhivago

Standard

I can now officially cross off #26 on my list!  I watched Doctor Zhivago tonight, all 3 hours and 17 minutes of it.  My stepmom and I have talked about watching this movie for a while now.  So I’m so glad I created my freedom list to actually do all these kind of things (you know…those things that you say you’re going to do and never get around to them).  To be honest, I’ve been wanting to see this movie ever since I went to Russia several years ago.  It did bring back many memories from that trip.

Well let me tell you a little bit about Doctor Zhivago.  In the beginning, I was really wishing for closed captions because often I had no idea what they were saying.  Needless to say, their Russian accents were very strong.  We got used to their accents, but then had to actually think about what was going on.  The remote control remained very close to my house throughout the movie so I could pause and ask my stepmom if she understand what was going on.  She was often confused as well.  What was that?  Who are they?  Are they the good guys or the bad guys?  Why are doing that?  Even though I’ve been to Russia, I didn’t know a lot about the Russian Revolution.  I learned a lot about the Romanovs and Russia during World War II, which I must say was way worse than anything I ever learned about in school.  I definitely want to learn more about Russia now.  Going to the library to check out books on Russia will definitely be in my future.  One thing I do remember about Russia is the harshness of their winters there.  I don’t plan to ever visit Russia during the winter.  Being a Texas girl who hardly sees snow (and when she does it hardly sticks), I don’t think I could handle it.  I would be wearing about 7 layers…which would probably make me look that dorky little brother in A Christmas Story, the one who can’t put his arms down because his snow suit is so big.  Most of the this movie happened during the winter.  Their winters I’ve heard are extremely long and harsh, much like our Texas summers I bet.  Getting back to the movie, there are three words I would use to describe Doctor Zhivago: war, devastation, and sadness.  It was a good epic movie, which actually got 5 Academy Awards, including one for cinematography.  I completely agree with that.

In my picture of the movie, of course I had to put it beside my Russian Matryoshka doll, or nesting doll.  I bought that doll in St. Petersburg at a little street craft fair.

Oh, and by the way, I’m SO glad that you want to do some of the things on my freedom list with me!  I can’t wait to actually be able to be “myself” again and get out in the world.  I have my reevaluation with the neurologist tomorrow, so we shall see what she says.