Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Duende: Find your Passion in your Pants

Michele posted the basics about Duende on her blog and I realized she was talking about the Ricky Martin Glee episode. I totally get my Duende on when I work out at Pulse. This is the song I nearly knock people over in. People have started moving away when the beat starts. Since some people are following the 2001 Things to Do Before You Die checklist, here is a little help! Watch this song and get your Duende on!

Monday, February 27, 2012

No Touch Monkey! A giveaway!!

This weekend I finished No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late! by Ayun(pronounced Ann) Halliday. There were a couple of laugh out loud moments but most of my time was spent shaking my head at the messes this woman found. Her method of travel is not my preferred method. While I also love taking part in authentic cultural experiences, I've never really had a penchant for sleeping in doorways and train stations to save money. Also, I've never slept in a hostel. Eponymous horror movie notwithstanding, I've felt the money spent on a hotel room was worth it for a sense of security and privacy.

Also, apparently I have a thing with hygeine. I'm sure there are women out there that culturally choose to not shave body parts (see, French and Eastern European women), but for Ayun this seemed to be some badge of honor. I had fleeting glimpses of her touring Europe and Southeast Asia meeting people and showing her pits. I am not this kind of person. In fact I've spent the last few months getting little laser shocks in my pits in a effort to NEVER shave again but still be slick and bare. If anyone is interested in doing this, wait for a groupon because it can be expensive but it is less painful than a waxing AND you don't have to let it grow out to get treatment. I highly recommend it!

Anyway as it is 2012, and everyone has lists, here are the things I learned after reading No Touch Monkey!

1. You should not take pictures of women working in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. This story made me think of CeCe and her travels there, though I personally don't have this on my travel list. I do have friends who I can see dragging me there though.

2. Malaria is nasty. Ask for tough drugs if you go to subsaharan Africa!

3. Massages offered by strange men are not a good idea. Though to be honest I already knew this!

4. Volunteering in countries where the UN has shipped everyone out for their safety is really not recommended.

5. Taking drugs in foreign countries leads to flying beds and talking ceiling fans. Actually now that I think about it taking drugs anywhere probably leads to this. It's why I avoid drugs. I'm not a licensed bed pilot.

If reading about these stories sounds interesting to you, email me on my profile or leave a message here and I'll ship it out FOR FREE to the first person who asks :) I love seeing all the new people come to my blog! Welcome!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cranes for Cancer

An acquaintance of mine got married a few years ago and created 1000 origami cranes for her wedding. A thousand origami cranes is good luck in Japanese culture. I thought this was ambitious and interesting so of course I added it to my bucket list. I've been afraid to start because I can be the queen of the almost finished (and I have the scrapbooks, cross stitch and quilts to prove it) and I was having little mental vignettes of tiny cranes all over the house and Craig wondering what the hell was going on because he found some in his boots. So I've put it off. It wasn't on my list for this year.

But then I found this site and felt like this was my motivation. I have been so incredibly blessed by God. I want to make these cranes and ship them off to someone in need of a little luck however they may get it. I want to finish these cranes and send them off with love and prayers and hope to someone out there who needs a little (or a lot!) of all three. I am researching now origami paper (because apparently you should use a special kind) and in April I will start making them. I would like to finish by next April which will be my 39th birthday. I've learned to give myself a time frame or it won't get done!

Anyone else want to make cranes? I picture little wine and crane parties. Sitting around making cranes and talking about life. I'm game!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reasons why Craig is not my go-to travel companion

There are married people who spend most of their lives together, never apart for more than a day. These people have identical tastes, both loving comic books, or drag racing, or rodeo. We are not these people. Craig and I have been married almost 19 years (in 3 weeks!) and I am realizing that I have been married and with Craig longer than I was without him. Personally I love that. For some people this would give them itches and the need to "find themselves."

Well my itching usually is attributed to "finding the world." I NEED to experience the world. I NEED to taste, touch, and smell the world. Craig does not. Craig likes the stay home (thought not necessarily being a single dad...that has been negotiable). I was reading a blog post today and I realized there are a couple reasons why Craig isn't my go-to travel companion.

1. Craig is a picky eater. Matt Long has a great post about his pick eating and KUDOS for him for not letting it hinder his travel. For Craig, what he can eat in a foreign country is terrorizing. It requires intense research on mmy part. Likewise when he finds something he knows he likes, he is a creature of habit. He ALWAYS orders the same thing at restaurants. This meant in Rome, the city of fantastic cuisine we went to the same restaurant for dinner multiple times. While I was eating Zucchini flowers and deep fried rice balls, he had steak and potatoes. Again.

2. Craig loves America. This is his go to reason when you ask him because he doesn't like to admit #1. But it really is true. And I would let him get away with this if he didn't want to go to Vegas three times a year. I'm saving this travel with Craig for when I get older and we can RV our way across the country. Plus here he can a) Understand the language and b) read the menu (and other stuff but I know the menu is most important!)

3. I like to plan, Craig likes to fight all my plans. It makes for a fun and interesting vacation. Also high blood pressure, heart burn, and epic fights on the Roman transit system. Luckily those Romans are expressive and loud with their hands too.

4. I love my marriage and husband. I want to keep it that way :)

This is not to say I don't force him to go places. I got him to Rome! I got him on a cruise! I will someday get him to Oceania. But for now we are happy with him at home and me travelling abroad. Plus I let him go play at the farm any time he wants, all alone.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When your bucket list happens and you don't even realize it

Last summer I worked with middle school students teaching water science and environmental engineering at a university's summer camp series. This sounds a lot more impressive than it really was. But whatever I did, somehow it made an impression because I was contacted by the powers that be letting me know they wanted to honor me with an award for my time spent with the students. Wow. That was completely unexpected.

I mean I basically felt like a glorified baby sitter, but if I get a free meal out of it I'm game. Plus I figured if this was a way to get the word out for the ITEC camps then I was all for that. I'm giving that way.

But then I get an email from the powers that be telling me that this was actually a mentoring luncheon and did I have any OTHER people that I mentor they could mention. HMMMMM. I wasn't sure what others there are as I didn't realize I was mentoring to start with? I had to go look mentor up in the dictionary because I don't remember the life guidance in the teaching of the water cycle and sewage treatment plants. But then I might have blanked out a bit of those weeks because the kids? They were wild.

So I email them back and explain the volunteer work I was doing with a local middle school helping with science fair, thinking they would tell me i didn't fit the criteria. Nope. This morphed into me volunteering and TRAINING mentors. So what happens when things spiral out of control? You find yourself at a table eating chicken parmesan, listening to the MAYOR tell you what a great job you are doing.

(blurry picture from 3 year old iPhone)

although the real shame didn't appear until I had to stand in front of everyone (luckily in a huge group) to receive this certificate and ribbon (i'm not just a fake mentor, I'm a super star one at that!)

So anyway, the powers that be didn't seem too upset when I arrived and told them I wasn't really sure about what this was about and they said not to worry. This was the only way they could get the university to thank me so roll with it. So I did. But I'm still waiting to cross it off my bucket list. Certificate or not!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Andrea's Bucket List Part 3: Connect and Contribution

More from my Bucket List. Hope it inspires you!


Make yourself spend a half-day at a concentration camp and swear never to forget August 2010

Visit a VFW hall or nursing home and listen to stories for a whole day.  December 2011

Be someone's mentor. There is actually a funny story about this I'll have to add later.

Write the novel you know you have inside you.

Join Toastmasters

Volunteer abroad for one month. Teach English in a foreign country.

Give your mother a dozen red roses and tell her you love her. May2010

Join a flash mob

Be complaint free for 30 days (

Practice Gratitude for 21 days (keep a gratitude journal)

Party at South by Southwest

Take a picture every day for a year.


Donate platelets once a month for a year.

Pay for the order of the person behind me in the drive thru lane

Tip a server 100% of the bill

Make a microloan at Kiva 01/18/12

Give a panhandler all the money I am carrying.

Volunteer to take care of the USS Missouri

Become a Child Advocate

Do Random Acts of Kindness for every year I am alive in one day

Pick someone up from a bus stop and take them where they need to go.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Eating Kimchi with Erin

It wasn't on my list of things to accomplish for the year, but Erin is my adventurous foodie friend, so I proposed Chong's on the West Side. This restaurant is near an Air Force base and was filled with uniforms! I took this as a good sign since a lot of the Air Force stationed here come from a Korean base.

I had no idea what to expect with Kimchi. I knew it was cabbage based, but I pictured something more like sauerkraut. It was spicier, not nearly as sour as I expected. The waitress brought out a sample of cabbage and turnip based kimchi and I have to admit that I liked the turnip better. It was gingery and crunchy and I loved it!

I warned Erin that there would be pictures and blogging but my eating was messy and there was concern on my part about the multiple spots all over my breasts so I completely forgot.

I really should have gotten a picture of the location though. It's hilarious to eat in a restaurant next to an insurance company across from a bar. It's hidden in the dead end of a strip mall. It was surreal. It was like every Korean restaurant joke I have ever heard (and I have to admit it...I was thinking dog meat!)

So the four perfect scores by the health department was a good sign. The fact that they felt the need to post them ON THE FRONT DOOR however was a bit disconcerting. I think I even saw a blue plate from KSAT from the Kitchen Kops. Regardless, Erin and I had a great time. We stayed until everyone left. Not because we chased them off. I don't think. Time flew and they never seemed to want to shoo us away. I'd go back...but next time I want the ribs. It isn't every day you get scissors with your meal!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Parenting: In which i'm sure to offend someone

I hate to brag but I have to admit I have well-behaved kids. It's not just me saying that. I get told this all the time. Nothing makes me more proud as a parent than to pick up my child from a party and hear the mom tell my son or daughter that he or she is welcome back ANY TIME.

My children did not hatch from eggs, or get picked from a cabbage patch. They are the culmination of hard work and constant, consistent parenting from both Craig and myself. There are things we have chosen to do in order to make them well-adjusted, eager, patient, considerate future global citizens.

Did I mention patient?

I stress this one attribute because I find it so lacking in all of American society. From immediate song changes to the constant need to be entertained, I don't think Americans are able to be silent long enough to hear their own thoughts. I am beginning to just believe that Americans don't like themselves so they try to fill every waking moment with things, communications, and entertainment so they don't have to listen to themselves think.

The side effect is that Americans expect to have every waking second filled. They wake up, turn on the TV or radio, check their phone. Spend the day on the computer, talking on their phone, checking text messages and facebook. They talk in the car or listen to the radio. Does anyone drive in silence any more? Watch people in the grocery store. How many people are talking as they shop. The rudest of people talk when they checkout to avoid any interaction with the person standing in front of them. And in the evening they watch TV. Lots of TV.

I admit that I spend most waking moments reading something. Computer or book. But I long ago decided that I really like my thoughts and the crazy places they take me so I often drive in the silence. My house is usually silent. I hate ambient TV noises. Probably because my mother's house always has noise and this is my juvenile rebellion. Who knows?

This is the mother my poor children got. Go. Call you mother and thank her for not being me. I don't mind, really.

When we took the long road to  Key West. We drove. My husband, his parents, our two younger children and me. In a car together for 3 hours. One way. It should have been a nightmare. It was a blast. Don't get me wrong. The kids fought. They argued. They slept. They were kids. They were not mind-numbed machines plugged into a game that kept their whole attention. I hate to tell people, but that isn't parenting. And what really are you teaching your kids anyway? Seriously think about what you are trying to tell your children when you do this. You don't value their thoughts and ideas. You just want them to shut up and frankly not be a part of your life.

Does this mean my children never get to play video games? No. My son has a iPod Touch. We have computers. I have games on my iPhone I let my kids play. But they aren't used to just keep my kids quiet whenever I want them to be little statues.

My husband and I are both horribly impatient people. I didn't want our children to grow up to be like us. So I make them wait for things. They often hear me tell them that "it's good to want things." Meaning if you have everything, what is there to look forward to? I want them to enjoy the anticipation. Enjoy the WAIT as much as the THING.

Which means when I booked us with a FIVE HOUR LAYOVER in Fort Lauderdale after our cruise while we waited for the FIRST LEG of our plane journey to begin, the children were great. My husband however paced like a caged animal snarling things like "Never again" and veiled threats of actually booking a plane ticket himself some day. Empty threats I tell you.

This is what parenting is all about. Preparing your children for their mother's stupidity. It works every time!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Solar Eclipse

Actually I do have a trip planned. But since it's all about the solar eclipse and not about the travel per se I guess some small part of me had already begun the TWP (Travel With Purpose) mindset. If you have any interest in viewing a solar eclipse then you should check out NASA's webpage for information.

This is going to be a dry run of sorts as well. The drive to Craig's uncle is the half way mark of the travel we would take if we go skiing for Christmas this year. I'm trying reallllly hard to sell travel for Christmas for the rest of our lives. Heh. For the sake of the children of course.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Travel with purpose

I cannot believe that in less than four weeks I will be travelling to Paris and Morocco. But even more amazing for me is that I do not have a SINGLE trip planned after that. Not. A. Single. Trip. This is unreal for me. I don't even have a weekend trip to the coast planned.

It's made me really think about when and where I want to travel next. It seems like my level of enthusiasm for my next place is hesitant to make itself known. It's like walking into a really quiet room and automatically whispering. And as I sit and think about what I want to do and accomplish in the next year. Travel really isn't one of them.

Don't get me wrong. I still read travel blogs. I still have subscriptions to travel magazines. I still check Delta for flight costs. I went to tripadvisor and left all my reviews for the cruise trip. But then I hit a brick wall.

Years ago when I took a group of high school students to Paris and London, a co-worker joined me. She was in her 60s, fit and well-travelled. In her 50s, she had sailed from the South Pacific to California, hitting dozens of islands, filling a passport book (oh how wonderful that sounds!). After spending the time in London and Paris we were sitting at a cafe watching people stroll down the Parisian streets and she said something that sticks to me today.

"I can only take so much concrete and culture. I need my next trip to be green and nature."

I realized then that for the most part, for my travel it was always about concrete and culture. Since then I've gotten away from the madness on trips. I took a weekend to Big Bend and Terlingua with a friend and no cell phones. Not much green there but lots of nature! I've laid on beaches in the Caribbean drinking Corona Light; I've played golf at top courses in the world.

And I've enjoyed it all. I don't begrudge any of my past travels, but I have spent some navel-gazing thinking about my future travels and I realized I want to travel now with a purpose. Or rather I want to travel to for meaning. I don't just want to arrive and take in, as if my travels are this one way street where I arrive to be entertained. I want to arrive in a location knowing I will be adding something back. That the reason I am there is to make things better (or attempt to I don't have a god complex!), to learn something that I can teach to others, or achieve something that will let me know myself more.

It's for this reason that cruises don't totally appeal to me as a method of travel. Don't get me wrong. My mother and daughter both want to go on cruises in the future and I will suffer for both of them (DD wants to go to Curacao and my mother wants to go to Canada or the Eastern Mediterranean. I suffer so for them!) But for my personal travel and my goals in the next few years I want there to be a reason that I am travelling beyond just seeing stuff. And buying stuff. I want to know when I get back on the plane that I have grown somehow. And that I will be offering this growth to everyone else who meets me.

Our church has a variety of short-term missions in Burkina Faso, Guatemala and Brazil, and I've already told Craig that in 2013 I intend to join one. My friend Nancy has contacts all over the world willing and able to show us places we can help out and learn. Perhaps I will use my travel to acheive a Master's in Zoology so I can teach in colleges and universities.

The point is there are lots of opportunites out there to do more than visit a city to watch and observe. I can do that in a travel video on my couch. I have 10 months left in the year and I intend to complete several financial goals, and then I will give my travel plans some thought.

Of course with this said, when Craig comes home one day and tells me to book a trip to Vegas, I can't say no, can I????

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tentatively titled: Leave us alone so we can play on the beach

If you look closely I think there is even some eye rolling from the girl. The film cuts off because my battery died. I'm lucky I got this. Super planning mom I am not.

The beaches of Haiti are naturally rocky. Royal Caribbean carted in tons of sand to make a typical beach so the kids could build castles and bury their feet. The kids had a live sand dollar come up during play and they kept it in a bowl of water to watch it breath and move. I think they learned more playing on the beach in Haiti than they would have learned a week in the school they missed!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Craig and the Cock: a Key West story in pictures

Once upon a time, a man travels to an island. Little did he know there was another male on the island waiting for him. Apparently, the Florida Keys have lots of roosters roaming free. Like Lots.


They are friendly buggers. Having no problem walking right up to you. I am slightly afraid of chickens when they are too aggressive because of a horrid goose incident when I was a child, so I took this picture then ran back to the car.


These little buggers would pop up in the strangest places: parking lot, beaches, streets. And I have to admit I was a little apprenhensive that the restaurant my in-laws chose, used local animals for their food :) Most everyone ordered seafood, because in the Florida Keys who would order chicken???? Well, that would be me. And my kids. I did have a Mojito, too.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A month in review

If anyone knows where January went could you have her give me a call? She left and I totally didn't notice! Despite the fact that January took off before I could say goodbye, this year is looking good! I'm on track to complete everything on my resolutions list!!

 First off I need to Organize my bucket list! (which is actually on my bucket list but I won't count it for my 12 :) ) DONE! I even posted two sections this month as well.

1. Books to Read (from 1001 Books to Read Before You Die):
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut 01/03/12
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John Le CarrĂ© 01-13-12
Choke – Chuck Palahniuk 01/08/12
Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel 01/05/12
Less than Zero - Bret Easton Ellis 01/27/12
Rabbit, Run – John Updike 01/31/12

2. Movies to Watch (from the list of movies that won Best Picture):
1971 - "The French Connection" 01/12/12

8. Plant a vegetable garden, Can't be crossed off yet as nothing got planted. BUT we did create the garden, hauling wheelbarrow loads of dirt from the farm so that Craig can smell "home" when we wants.


9. Donate platelets once a month for a year. Contribute to a microloan at This change is chronicled here.

10. Spend 3 months getting my body in optimum shape STARTING TODAY! Cannot be crossed off, but one month down. I have worked out at least 5 hours each week. I plan to work out more when I get back from the cruise, and some day I will actually start watching what I'm eating too!

February is a short and sweet month and I plan to do a lot of reading and some movie watching. I have Slumdog Millionaire on Tivo too now. Who wants to watch this and Hurt Locker with me this month???
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