Saturday, December 31, 2011

Which little old lady do you want to be? Hemingway edition

What a pitiful year 2011 was for my bucket list! However, my son graduated from high school,  was accepted in to his dream college on almost full scholarship and I graduated with my M. Ed. in Instructional Technology. So things were done and life was lived.

In November, knowing one of my 1/1/12 resolutions would be to spend 3 months getting my body in tip top shape I joined a fitness studio and worked out for 5-7 hours a week the whole month. In December, even though I increased my workouts to 8-10 hours a week I still ended up gaining 5 pounds from the food. But it was less than the past and I feel stronger and fitter.

Yesterday to cross off one (and only one) item off my bucket List I spent time with my friend Debby who works as Activity Director in a nursing home. The hours I spent with the ladies playing bingo and decorating the dining room for the New Year's Eve special dinner were fantastic and I'm thrilled I had a chance to do it.

Watching the ladies, I spent a lot of time trying to think of who I wanted to be. I can tell you it was obvious which ones were fit and healthy and which didn't take very good care of themselves. Which ones had good relationships with families and friends and which ones were bitter and mean. Which ladies had lived their lives happily and which were lamenting chances missed and lives wasted.

So as I drove home I thought about how I wanted to live my life so that when I'm older people look at me and say I want to live her life. Not because it's so perfect but because of the way I handled things that were handed to me. When adversity makes me stronger, not sadder.

It made me think of a Hemingway quote I recently saw:

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

And then when finding that quote I found this one:

A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

I would call these words to live by!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A dilemma of stubborn proportions

I have a tendency to make rash decisions and stick with them come hell or high water. Years ago I realized I decided I didn't like chocolate cake or cheesecake and somehow this morphed into me not liking any chocolate or cream cheese. This is not necessarily true, but I've scraped far more chocolate and cream cheese off my tongue than vanilla or coconut. Discreet, I am not.

I've done this with pop culture as well. Best TV comedy? Never seen a single episode. It took me a decade to watch Reality TV. I had watched Real World in college and when it started to become a genre in its own right, I backed away sneering. This high brow elite would rather read a bad book than watch good reality TV (if such a thing exists). Until Real Housewives. This series was put here on this Earth to confound me. I don't know what other people do when they watch reality TV but I pass judgement. I watch to see mispronunciations. And who holds their wine glass by the bowl and not the stem. Who laments being so busy while 5 housemaids works behind them. The sheer number of entertaining points may be artificially created by editing but they are oh so fun to watch. Which Andy Cohen knows I'm sure! But other than the RH series I still eschew most reality TV. I'll watch with my family if they happen to like something (my kids adore Storage youngest has a crush on Brandy). But I don't record them or rewatch them over and over and over. {Cough} As I do for RH.

The same could be said about me and movies. Once a movie reaches a certain popularity I swear I will NEVER see it. Like Avatar. And Titanic. To this day I have PROUDLY never seen the movie. Imagine my chagrin when I decided to see all the Best Picture movies and there on the list was Titanic. ARGH. I might also make this a big deal, leaving the room when people are watching it. Did I mention my inability to be discreet?

Before bed conversation:

Andrea: I have a dilemma.

Craig (reading and not paying a lot of attention): What is that?

Andrea: I decided to watch all the Best Picture movies for my Bucket List.

Craig: Yeah? So?

Andrea: Apparently, Titanic won.

Long pause.

Craig: Ooooo. I'll let you make an exception for that one.

Le Sigh.

I wish I could do that. Oh how I wish. But instead I will put it off and when I am old and senile and won't remember it anyway I'll have my great-great-grandchildren set up the newfangled video player that I won't know how to use to watch it. I will put it off for the very last. I can be stubborn that way.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Travel with teenagers: a photoessay

What to expect when you travel with a teen:

1 A LOT of sleeping. In places not meant for sleep.

2. A lot of attitude shown by the slumped posture and folded arms (smile is rare):


3. Getting taken places that are probably not allowed. Or safe.


4. A lot of the being ignored and pretending that you are strangers:

5. But sometimes you get one of these that makes it all worth it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The next blog link

Apparently, Blogger uses some sort of identification to find the "next blog" that I GUESS it thinks is similar to the one you are looking at. I think this is cool and after every post I go to the blog and see where the Next Blog links will take me. Today they took me to Sweden. EVERY SINGLE blog was in Swedish. I think maybe one was Estonian. IT was about Quilts. WHAT THAT HAS TO DO WITH MY BLOG??? I'll never know! IF you have a blog follow the links. Maybe you will learn something that a computerized compiler will teach you.

I'm meant for Sweden.

Bucket List primer and then some

Last night I got lost in bucket list mania. There are dozens of websites and blogs out there completely dedicated to people's bucket lists. I've had one for years and I'm not even sure if I had one before the eponymous movie came out. What I do know is no self-respecting travel lover is without one. You may have a bucket list and not love to travel but I think it's impossible to love to travel and NOT have a bucket list. That itemization of places you must see before you die. I have spent way too much time perusing other lists and working on my own and do this so often when my mother called last night to ask me a question about my accounting books for my company and asked what I was doing, the answer "working on my bucket list" didn't phase her or raise any other questions.

I take a little bit of time when I read other people's list thanking God for all the opportunities that He has afforded me to do so much. It's amazing how many things don't make my list BECAUSE I HAVE ALREADY DONE THEM! And then there are the ubiquitous listings like learning a new language, seeing the Aurora Borealis and sky diving. The bad thing about looking at other lists as it only makes your list longer! But thanks to Bucket List stalker Annette for all the work in compliling the lists here.

Looking at other bucket lists though taught me something about myself. While I have a 10 day travel limit imposed by my husband which makes some things difficult (like being a missionary for a month) my personal relationship goals have all been achieved. I met and married my soul mate. I have three beautiful, healthy children. So instead of lamenting the fact that I cannot achieve that which souls who are still searching can do, I am praising God that the hardest most difficult achievements have been taken care of for me!

AS I said before 2011 has been sadly lacking in bucket list cross offs. None of which are travel related. I have four more days and two things I want to complete. I'll post Saturday if they get accomplished!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Brazil, Morocco, London to Ibiza, straight to LA, New York, Vegas to Africa

I have mentioned before my penchant for inserting travel HAH's into conversations. It's an internal competition I really need to stop because, frankly, it's obnoxious! Even to me. Today while working out to On the Floor by Jennifer Lopez I counted the places I'd been. And then BANG another entry to the Bucket List is made:
Morocco (to be completed in 11 weeks ACK!)
London (done)
LA (done)
New York(done)
Africa (to be completed in 11 weeks and a cheat really since Morocco is IN Africa!)

So basically all I have left is Brazil and Ibiza. And yes I did rush home to make sure they were on the bucket list already (Christ Redeemer? Check!)

The video cracks me up. It's like one long commercial. I imagine creating travel videos with all these product placements!

Counting down to the cruise

This January we are travelling with the little ones (not taking the teenager) on a Caribbean cruise. This is their Christmas present, and frankly if I had my way travel would ALWAYS be our Christmas presents! It's only a 5 day cruise and we have two ports, Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti. It's hard to describe Labadee to those who have never visited and I was happy to find this youtube from Travel with Kids that helps explain it.

I would love to create videos and such like this about travel for a job. Writing off or getting paid to travel is becoming my life long dream!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad

The year is ending and soon I will need to revisit my bucket list which I believe has been sadly ignored in 2011. I did finish my masters so it's not like it was a complete waste! But otherwise my year has just been about fun and happiness and in my opinion sometimes we need that. Time. Joy. Reflection. Not that it has been travel free. I went to Las Vegas three times. Took Craig on a surprise trip to San Diego and a 9 day cruise to the Caribbean. My mother threatened that I would wake up one day with my feet glued to the floor.

I posted about Hands On volunteering which is a fantastic way to see the world and help others.

The Wall Street Journal suggested for other places for voluntourism and I looked in to a couple of them.

I wish I had known about this before. I love this part of the world but having been there several times I'd rather see other countries. But if anyone mentions the south of France to me I'll remember this one!

I warned Craig that I would take him on this trip someday and he told me he might not even fight me! I think my dad would like this too!

I am most likely however to go on this one. Opportunities abound all over the world. And I think I might be able to talk some friends in to joining me. Maybe THIS is what I want to do for my 40th birthday! I mean the choices are:
Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and Thailand. Bold being places I want to visit!

However since Craig has limited my travel to 10 days away then I might have to limit myself to one of these countries with their Insight Abroad programs:
Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, Morocco, Peru, and Russia. All program fees are 100% tax deductible. Now it seems the biggest issue will be deciding which one!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Vegas you don't normally see

Kelly, Jake and Amy

This is the reason you don't ask the electrical guy for directions out of the convention center. Picture not taken: Us climbing a wall to get out of the parking garage. But fun was had by all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Around the world tickets- bookmarked for future reference

Thanks Nancy, for informing me about these tickets. I knew it was something that Delta Skymiles offered. Now i'm thinking this might be something to save up for. 280,000 miles though is an awful lot. But for round the world Business class? I'm thinking!!!!

Forum description that is old but has lots of info

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Airplane safety of the germaniac kind

I can only post so many times about bed bugs before I can be classified as bugaphobic. But thanks to Yahoo I'm all freaked out over germs on an airplane. As it is I travel with clorox wipes for the remote control and phone in my hotel rooms. Now I think all extra bottles will be filled with anti-bacterial spray and gels.

So now I have a handy to do and don't list that will keep me from looking like an Asian tourist during the SARS heydey. If I could figure a way to travel with an breathing mask comfortably and fashionably I'd do it.

1. Avoid pillows and blankets from the airlines Yeah, been doing this for years. My phobias are not new.

2. Avoid seat-back pockets. This I hadn't thought of before. I tend to put crap there and leave it but every once in a while will store something there. NEVER AGAIN.

3. Use the air vest to block your face. Hah. Take that nasty germs. I'm all defensive on your ass!

4. Avoid sick travellers. The trick for me here is how to do it without a major event. Umm excuse me flight attendant I need a seat away from Typhoid Mary plase!

5. Hydrate. Although I only drink bottled water on planes and in foreign countries because bottled water offends the one tree-hugging gene I have in my body but the thought of the water siting whoever knows how long in those plane tanks offends me more. Also why I never drink plane coffee.

Vegas pics- HOOVER DAM(age)


Every time we go to Vegas we always talk about travelling outside the city to view the beauty and magnificence that is the desert surrounding it. At the very least visiting Hoover Dam. In April friends went to ride dune buggies but we didn't want to spend the $500 on that. Instead we dumped it at the craps table and maybe also got a massage. Honestly with the pool and the heat and the around the world drinking Tracie and I did that trip is a wee bit hazy.

ANYWAY. When Craig's uncle DROVE to Vegas this last visit to meet us there it afforded a perfect opportunity to take the very short trip to the dam. It's like 30 minutes away! Plus it kept us away from the tables which were bleeding us DRY! The Hoover Dam is now bypassed by the way with this bridge:


and finding the exit was a little more difficult than would be thought with three college-educated people in the car. It's not like the signs were in a foreign language. The bridge can be walked across but we were in a time crunch so we parked (for $8) and walked to the dam to get a view of the bridge we had just crossed (which is a marvel in and of itself) and then lean over the very short wall that protects you from certain death to take a picture of the full dam.



Tours are very expensive and we didn't have the time and we had already seen the inner workings with my dad but I would highly recommend them to others!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shopping: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Because I had done my research beforehand I was determined to not leave San Juan without a purse. For a unique gift that no one else hed ever heard of I went to Concalma which is like shopping in a storage room. I have to admit it was strange. Some of the handbags hung from poles throughout the store and some were laid out on a table with no particular pattern. But the bags were exactly what I was looking for: handmade in Puerto Rico by a women's coop.

Then of course I shopped for a Parazul bag for me. Overall, my biggest memory of Puerto Rico is shopping :) Though the fact that the ship arrived at 7am and left at 2pm had a lot to do with that.

Also the fact that my other memory is my son calling to tell me he was in a wreck. Great thing about cell coverage is finding out what is going on at home. And then again. It isn't always good news :(

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

File Cabinet: Paris, Folder: Notre Dame

This blog really is becoming a large filing cabinet of travel information for me. Conde Nast Traveler has a list of things that are hidden about Notre Dame, kept here for posterity.

And because I'm worried that this link won't last forever here is the list copied here:

The Towers
Originally, spires were designed for the towers of Notre Dame. It's a mystery why they were not actually built. Money wasn't an issue, as construction of the cathedral continued after the towers were erected. Perhaps it was thought that the building was high enough; even without the spires it towered high above the houses that crowded close to the front.

The Sorbonne
Huge cloisters used to exist to the left of the front of Notre Dame, where there is now housing, but they were destroyed by fire in the 17th century. It was in these cloisters that the University of Paris began, as a theological school for training clergy. The University was born well before the present cathedral, and also before its predecessor, the Romanesque cathedral of St. Stephen, built around 1100. Nobody is quite sure when the school debuted, but it had to have been during the time of the much earlier Carolingian basilica that stood on the site. It was only in 1253, when Robert de Sorbon, the then-bishop of Paris, had an edifice built to house it, that the school moved indoors and took the name Sorbonne, in honor of the bishop.

St. Anne Portal
The cathedral's right-side doorway is an example of medieval recycling; you can tell because it is not a true Gothic portal. Notice the rounded arch marking what was the top of the door above the head of the Virgin Mary. It was the main portal of the Romanesque cathedral torn down to make way for Notre Dame, but it was reused here by setting it into a Gothic arch. A closer look reveals how stiff and stylized the figures are, compared with those on the other two portals dating from more than 100 years later. Another interesting point is that all the male figures depicted on the tympanum of this portal are wearing pointed hats. Why? Because these men are all Jews, and pointed hats were worn by Jewish men in medieval France.

Theophilus Narrative
There are fascinating representations of the Theophilus narrative, depicted twice on the north side of Notre Dame. It is a Marian miracle tale that is basically a medieval Faust legend. A clerk sells his soul to the devil to obtain a higher office, regrets his decision, prays to the Virgin Mary who then goes into hell to obtain his contract. Once she returns it to him, he lives a virtuous life and goes to heaven upon his death. Since the north of Notre Dame faced a cloister with canons living inside, it makes sense that this was an "anti-ambition" message that the men should stay in their place.

St. Thomas
The 19th-century restorers who worked on medieval churches and cathedrals loved to leave something of their own time and often of themselves. Viollet-le-Duc, who was in charge of the renovations, was no different. Rising up to the base of the spire, which, incidentally, is Viollet-le-Duc's ideal version of a medieval spire, you'll see four groups of three men in bronze, now green from oxidation. These are the 12 apostles. The top apostle on the south side of the peaked roof of the transept has his elbow in the air, with his hand shielding his eyes. This is St. Thomas, the patron saint of architects. But it's also a self-portrait of Viollet-le-Duc himself, looking up at the spire that he has built, no doubt admiring his own efforts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Paris shopping (via context travel)

Context Travel's blog lists 8 things to buy in Paris. I feel the need to share here and comment (of course).

1. Chocolate. In the 6th there are a couple of my favorite places to buy chocolates: for gifts, for inspiration, for their artistry. Patrick Roger at 108 Boulevard Saint-Germain and Pierre Marcolini at 89 Rue Seine. I’m sure there are more and even better ones. Please add your ideas below.

2. Everyone knows that clothes are just better in Paris. Often more expensive, I’ll submit, but always higher quality, better style, nicer stores and displays. The same holds true for children’s clothing. In the Gap and Old Navy-filled US, the contrast to comparably-priced French chain stores is stark. My favorites are Du Pareil Au Même and Okaidi for jeans, stylish tops, and scarves for kids.

Um yeah only if you are size 8 or less. Which I am not. Nor have I been since 1985. When I was 10 years old.

3. In the same vein as item number 2, I’ll admit that I always buy my daughters’ underpants in Paris. Before you think I am really crazy, let me explain. I have three daughters, so those little bits of cotton and elastic get a lot of wear and the standard ones tend to fray at the waist and legs and split at the seems right around daughter number 2. There is an expensive brand that holds up impeccably through all three that can be found in boutique US shops. The brand is Petite Bateau and in Paris you can pick up 3-packs at your local Monoprix—French version of Target.

4. Garrice at 30 Rue de Rivoli. I never buy, but I love to look.

5. This one’s a little out-dated, but still on my list. Muji is a Japanese brand that is now found in most major cities (though not Philadelphia), but when I moved to Paris from Rome it was really only here and in Japan. Think Ikea, but small, high-end, and Japanese; then add clothes; then make them fit smaller people really well. You see why I like them?

6. Comptoir des Contonniers I do buy, here.

7. Fleur de sel. Yes, I know you can get it on Amazon, but I still pick up a package from the market in Paris.

Also I find Herbs de Provence and get them too.

8. The pharmacy. Any one will do. There are several in each neighborhood and they are chock full of things I need. I always get sunscreen here, usually Avène or LaRoche Posay. I get skin cream from Caudalie, shaving cream from Avène, and whatever homeopathy I can think of.

Had a HORRID experience once finding nail polish remover in a French pharmacy. They scare me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A month of posts complete

I am proud that I finished the whole month of posts but don't really want the stress of it again! I need to have some plan though or I will go another 10 months without posting! So I want to commit to 2 posts a week at least.

So to start this week I will share a funny from our Vegas trip this past weekend. We went again for NFR with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. Winter makes travel difficult and NFR means boots so we needed to pack an extra bag. But in reality we needed to check a bag anyway for (get this) Craig's DEODERANT. For whatever reason Craig has decided to use Arrid extra dry (BIL to husband "Um Craig, 1985 called, they want their deoderant back!")

So when I told him we had to check a bag because of his deoderant he told me I needed to stop hating on his Arrid. I love that man!
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