December in One Fell Swoop

December!  Aka- the end of 2014?? already???

well. My computer (Beasley) has reached the point where hospice care was needed and she has officially tagged off her responsibilities to our new friend Ramona.  Yes, I name all my stuff.  But the point of that sentence was to state my excuse for not blogging for the whole month- which was b/c my computer was quite unpredictable and grouchy.

What you missed.

Many a train ride.  There is something almost poetic to me about empty train cars in the middle of the day.  Here’s two common views in my life these days.

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On a not- so empty train ride- a small family of accordion and tambourine carols.  IMG_20141212_163532774

Mocha art and peppermint gifts in Tribeca before a friend moves.

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All blurry and beautiful.  Reminding me again that I still have a crush on this city. IMG_20141222_184748244

wrrrr. Fast forward to finalizing my first semester of teaching, flying home, Christmas morning, and family.

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Yes. This picture was taken Christmas day.  The classic green Indiana Christmas? I’ll take it!DSC_3174a

Selfie revenge- put in on a blog. 🙂 you’re welcome Bri. 🙂

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These days I enjoy the time warp that is ‘home for the holidays.’  It includes things like helping my mom put in a quilt, bowling my first over 100 score, and family family family.  I don’t mind one bit.DSC_3187aIMG_20141226_230759168

To end this post and this year- I will use some internet memes/pins to express myself.

1. my thoughts towards break:

Pooh understands

2. How I feel about being home:

A M E N

3. How I feel about the end of a year:

http://engelta.hubpages.com/hub/Anxiety-disorder-fighting-and-relief

So here it is, my formal, in writing, farewell.  To the year that brought me family East Coast trips, printed diplomas and moments of joy so loud my heart jumped outside my body.  It brought me elephant rides, waterfall climbs, and ginger on chicken.  It was the miracle of landing my first job the Friday before school started and learning to handle kids who can’t use words to tell me they are sad, bored, hurt, happy, or insecure.  And, most of all, it was growing and learning and becoming- from trying and studying and waiting and praying.  The memories make the year- the lessons make my life.

Goodbye and farewell 2014.  You have been all the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And I’m beyond blessed to have shared it with each of you.  See you on the flip side dears.

Collect beautiful moments

Goodbye to My Early 20s

Welp.  It’s happened.  The era that I thought would be the majority of my life has passed.  But I’m still clinging to my mid 20s with vigor.

To mark this momentous occasion I … did what everyone else does when they turn 26 on a week day and have student loans to pay- I went to work.  Parent teacher conferences and all.  And celebrated on the weekends like the grown up I am.

Now, it is traditionally my policy not to celebrate my birthday until after it’s past.  But the Saturday before my birthday I came home from the laundromat to find my mother and friend Betsy in my foyer.  I was so surprised all I could do was moan, “ohhhh. you guys!” Yup.  That’s on film somewhere.  And it took me the whole day to wrap my head around it.  I’m obviously great at transitioning.  haha

But.  Due to this- shall we say- UNEXPECTED surprise my pre-birthday weekend turn out to be much more adventurous than planned.  It included things like- shopping, cleaning my house, rearranging my room, making cinnamon rolls and bread, church, sight seeing, games of blitz, and a broadway.  My guests stayed for 5 whole days and it was very pleasant.  See?

The cinnamon roll maker.

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My only group pic. IMG_20141110_171634717a

Betsy liked Times Square better than she thought she would.  Luckily for her- it was half empty on a Monday night.

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She got some cake boss cake.  Pretty good I think.

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The new shopping center and public space attached to the Fulton Street train stop near the Freedom Tower.  We stumbled upon it and I was so impressed I took a picture. 🙂

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Trinity church as seen from the graveyard.

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Grand Central.  Betsy thought it was very tall. 🙂

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Central park in the fall. ❤  Also, a great place to get waffles and dinges from the waffle cart.  Just sayin.

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Honestly, I’m not sure I ever expected this lady to make it my way.  But, oh, am I glad she did! 🙂IMG_20141111_154402485_HDRa IMG_20141111_155004624_HDRa

Yes. I got this picture with my phone. (and only a few twerks on photoshop). I love it. IMG_20141111_155300698_HDRa

When I turned 23 I had this song on my ipod that started with, “Look at me, I’m 23,” which I claimed as my theme song for the year.  And when I see pictures of myself I still hear that song in my head…  even if it’s less than accurate these days.

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And, lastly, I’m only posting this picture because she said I could.  And because it’s sooo hilarious, Betsy woke to strangers laughing.  Turns out Betsy was wrong, it IS possible to sleep on the train! 🙂IMG_20141111_223121099_HDRa

And, THAT was my very happy pre-birthday weekend.

Then I had my birthday.  Then I celebrated my post birthday weekend.  Which was mostly just on Saturday.  And it included my very first dim sum (if you don’t know what this is, google it) with my friends from grad school and bowling with my friends from church.

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I like these people because they remind me that: 1. I still have reasons to love New York. 2. grad school was real. Sometimes I almost think that it wasn’t that hard.  Or that maybe it didn’t happen at all.  But I talk to these girls- and I remember.  The insanity was real.  And I am so blessed to have survived.  Plus, this is my 3rd birthday I’ve celebrated with some of these ladies.  Which makes me feel like I’ve been in New York… forever. 🙂

And finally, a birthday post would not be complete without talking about my mother.  My whole life I’ve shared a birthday with her.  And more than half of her life, she’s shared her birthday with me.  So graciously.  But this year she turned 50.  And, according to her, “You don’t turn 50 everyday.”  Which is true. Which is why I’m posting this following song/poem for her (the rest of you can sing along). 🙂

Happy birthday to you

happy birthday to you

happy birthday to my dearest, bestest, youngest mom in the whole wide world!!!

happy birthday to you

I love you mom!

October Ends

This month has been of the kind that fly.  And it has flown right by.  I’ve begun to slowly form a routine and fill my life with good things.  Which is important to do when you graduate and life as you know it changes forever.

Here’s what my phone’s photo album has to show for itself this month (plus some of September).

1. City street reflections in subway advertisements with humorously placed ‘grumpy cat’ stickers.

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2. a NEEDTOBREATHE concert.  which was as it should be. (which is- wonderful) IMG_20140927_231551742

3. My part time desk. at school number 2.

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4. A weekly uphill walk in a park that wants to look like fall. IMG_20141001_153302086

5. Evidence we HAD mice.

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6. Colors burl together to brighten my lengthy commute.

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7. Walking in streets with trees and houses.  An oasis in insanity.

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8. Springtime flowers blooming make me miss fall even more.  (Have I mentioned that NY’s delayed season changes make me incredibly jealous of orange and red leaves as of late?)

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9. This sunrise on the morning of my first paid sick day. (On a related note- I recommend NOT eating expired yogurt.  EVEN if it smells good, looks good, and tastes good.)IMG_20141020_065900684_HDR

10. Photos to mark game progress with competitive students (yes, we will be finishing this next week).IMG_20141022_122240336

11. Jeni’s ice cream.  A happy addition to New York and to my life.

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12.  Especially when followed by 30 blocks of walking – wedged between the Hudson and lights scraping the sky. IMG_20141024_190152993

13. Only to be followed a day later by this view.  I must have seen this shot from every angle by now.  And still, I love it so. IMG_20141025_210619850

And that, my friends, leads us to the part where October ends.

Collect beautiful moments

How to Measure Success When You Feel Like a Failure (and other notes on my first month of teaching)

Success is awfully hard to measure as a first year teacher.  They say to expect the worst.  They say you will be tired and burnt out.  Lost.

Because, really, teaching is no joke.  One of my co-workers says that she views teaching as her ‘mission.’  Nun’s have missions.  This is her mission.

Which makes sense to me.  Because- the hours- the foreseeable lifetime of planning, reporting, writing, prepping, and caring that teachers pour into their simple (not so) 9-5 jobs is hardly worth the paycheck if all you see are the dollar signs.  And good teachers never do.  They see kids.  Hugs to see us.  Giggles to greet us.  Lengthy conversations about how many checks they need on their behavior chart before earning a prize.  Repeating.  and repeating. and repeating. and repeating. and repeating the directions.  Tears.  “It’s not fair.”  “My feet are itchy.” (Too itchy to learn?!?  Focus child!) Pulling their own teeth out (or at least trying to.  To which I respond by hiding behind my book and asking if it could just stay in for a few more minutes…).  Commenting on the coloring of my face on warm days in my zero circulation closet of an office.  Screamed at.  Eyes rolled at.  Ignored and told, ‘I’m bored,’ at.

But, in the meantime, a friend reminded me that happiness is measured by our feelings of successfulness.  And I realized that if I want to survive this anticipatedly difficult year, I need to be able to measure happiness in real ways.  Not based on how I feel at the end of the day when my last kid has a meltdown.  But by some standard to hope to.  Some way to ground myself in joy when all I feeeel like doing is talking in circles about the children who run me in circles.  So.  I decided, for now, to make my goals smaller.  Attainable.

Day one of this new perspective.  I prayed for 2 specific events to occur.  1. that Jimmy would come to therapy.  Last week he refused.  In not so many words. I told him this was his one free pass from speech. And I really hoped I meant it.  2. That my session with Opal working on the sound ‘er’ would go well.  Opal has been working on ‘er’ for 4 years.  Not ‘er’ in words like ‘water’ and ‘river’ and ‘return.’  But plain old ‘er.’  All alone.  By itself ‘er.’

And I ended my journaling from that day with, “I’m so thankful God answers prayers.”

Now, sometimes I forget to measure happiness by little successes.  And those days are the worst.  Because I’ve come to realize that life is not about getting a zap of happiness when you’re feeling down and can’t control the world.  It’s about living.  And living requires you to celebrate the little things your life’s about.

“So, whether you eat or drink, (or teach) or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Days Like Today

Today has been one of those days.  When I wear the same exact skirt as my new Muslim friend.  Where I get all my session notes entered before 4.  And stroll the neighborhoods of Brooklyn with a friend and her dog.  Homemade pop-tarts. Jewish Sukkahs.  Streets with so many trees you can’t hear the houses or see the train.  You just walk.  Through this community.  and that.  Teenagers chillin on the porch, late for synagog 100 feet from a man in white waiting for the bus.  Perhaps he’s headed to the mosque.  And, suddenly, you feel connected all over again.

The magic of New York is it’s size.  The diversity that crams together.  The population sampling of the world you pass in just a single day.  And to feel part of it.  To breathe with it.  To sleep on the train and know when to awake, almost instinctively, as if your body counts the stops until it wakes you.  Familiar with the routine.  Familiar with the madness.

But when that routine changes?  Oh the insanity that ensues.  The identity crisis.  Why did I stay here?  Whatever am I doing rubbing so many shoulders this way?

So, in times like this, I need days like today.  When the magic of New York returns with one leisurely walk.  And my heart finds a way to reconnect with my brain.  And I remember that I’m here because I love it.  The shoulder rubbing. The stair hiking. The lesson planning and 1/2 nights of prayer at church.  I’m here because I love it.  Not every day.  And not all at once.  But we all need to be a part of something.  And for now, I’m a part of New York.  And I love that.

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Belated Matrimony Update

Aha! Gotcha. That matrimony word caught your eye- didn’t it? 🙂

Well.  Yes.  I went to a wedding.  Three weeks ago.  Which is what makes this update so belated.  It was the wedding of my sister-in-law’s sister (Daria) to my cousin (Bradley).  One by one, we convert the Goodwans to Zimmermans. Well.  That’s the joke anyways.

The happy couple- Brad and Daria- who somehow, miraculously, coordinated a wedding that accommodated guests of great diversity and world views.  We were all impressed at the grace in which Daria pulled this off.  It was a beautiful day, which I believe could be described as classy and sweet, just as weddings should be. DSC_3049a

My job at the wedding was simple, take pictures of all the guests for the guestbook.  So, when I arrived I took some trial shots to test the lighting and captured this gem of the mother-of-the-groom with his older sister.

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But, as you can see, the location of the photo booth had to be moved due to the chin shadows it produced.  So, this dear bridesmaid posed in front of the mailboxes for me to test out the lighting.  We liked it much better. DSC_2987a

The matron of honor and her man (my brother! 🙂 )DSC_3006a

Family. LaTasha’s sister, cousin, and aunt.  Such spunky people.  We love them dearly. 🙂

My conversation with Akayla (the little one in the middle) went as follows:
me: wow, you’re getting so big.

Akayla: yeah, I’m 8 now you know!

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And, my sister with her cousin, holding out cupcake jar souvenirs favors.

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The reception hall as ‘clean-up’ commenced.DSC_3043a

And the bride and I.  So blessed to now be officially related to her. DSC_3047a

Congratulations Brad and Daria!  We wish you allll the very, very best.  I’m so glad I got to celebrate your special day with you!

The Proof is in the Pudding

Getting a job is a big relief.  The prospect of poverty is no funny business.  And looking at the last $100 in my bank account is.. scary.  And humbling.

That said.  It’s an even greater relief to finally have all my paperwork figured out and to receive this in an email: “Good news, you can start tomorrow.”

This is me on my first day of school, minus the shoes, obviously. This face says, “Here we go…..”

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So far, at my fancy new job, I have attended orientation(s), met other SLPs and teachers, visited the principal’s office (!!!) (to ask for a bookshelf for my office- no biggy!), and did some rearranging/decorating of my office space.  I had my first fire drill.  Spent two whole days figuring out a schedule.  And saw my first group of kiddos.   Plus, I got my first plant for my classroom from the teacher’s ‘sunshine society.’

And, my life is split between two schools.  And my offices are shared with other people.

School A

“My” office space before everything is moved around.

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My office space after everything is moved (and with the lights on).

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My new plant <3.

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My bookshelf from the principal.  Now just to fill it… by slowly carrying items in bags on the train every day till all my stuff is here.  Fun fun.

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The administrative portion of my office space.

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Yes, my room is a closet between two classrooms.  But we manage.

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Customary selfie at work (today- on my first day with kiddos). This face says, “I think I’m ganna like it here.”  Even if we don’t have any a/c.

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School B

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Yup.  That’s all I have from school B.  I’ve only gone one day.  So, not nearly as much progress has been made there.

All in all, I think this year will be appropriately challenging and rewarding.  It has proven to be so already.

NewYorkish

This week involved normal New York things.   Like carpools to Target with this little lady and her family.  (Who claims, “This is how mommy wears glasses.”

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A trip to the ocean.

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4 interviews, 1 of which involving a walk down this sunny street in Brooklyn.

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And evening DUMBO walks.

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They say that it takes 7 years to become a ‘true’ NewYorker.  Well.  As of this week, I’ve officially been living in New York for 2 years.  I guess that makes me NewYorkish.  Or perhaps we could say I’ve reached an ‘intermediate’ level of newyorkerness?  I don’t know how the 7 year mark was decided but I will say that there are still things about New York that I don’t know.  Like, I can’t really figure out the defining lines between Greenwich Village and East Village and West Village and SoHo and Alphabet City.  And I’m not sure if each of these areas is considered to be part of “The Village” or if this village place has it’s own separate identity entirely.

I also have a hard time knowing when it’s okay to talk to strangers.  As a rule, I don’t.  Which may, in fact, be very “New Yorker” of me.  But, I think there needs to be a balance.  If someone asks for help, when is it okay to give it?  When people are friendly?  When people ask questions? When people are a little bit weird?  How weird do you have to be for it to be okay for me not to want to talk to you?  And, is weirdness an excuse or a legitimate reason to avoid others?  As a whole, I follow my instincts.  And it’s worked out pretty well.. I think.  But as of late, I’ve wondered if I’m ever wrong.  And, if so, how would I know?

That said, my favorite thing about being NewYorkish has been the transition from full-time student to getting my first ‘real’ job.  I’ve decided that you know you’re a grown up when… you’re excited to get a job.

But I have to be honest.  It has not been easy.  Unemployment is rough.  It makes me easily anxious, insecure, and, as a whole, limited.  I realized that I must really be effecting me because I had started to count Metrocard swipes and lived in fear of wasting them.  This was new.  I actually didn’t make plans with people because I didn’t want to spend the money on food and transportation to see them.  Which, is pretty low for me as I NEED to be with people daily.

So, that was a good perspective to have.  It’s not a perspective I like to live in.  But it makes me very grateful for the employment that I have now found.  I suppose I should say this lightly as I haven’t actually signed my contract yet.  But.  The supervisor said the words (and I quote), “You have a job.”  So.  I’m taking that in faith.

So, here’s to something new.  And to another year of growing into my city and into my life.

We Make Our Own Adventures

It is a well (self) published fact that I like to have “adventures.”  I like to call them adventures because it makes life so much more exciting than saying, “Today I went to the park.”  haha

Soo.. while I’m in the throws of “funemployment” (as some people like to call it), I thought it might be time to document some of the (free) adventures I found to fill my time (putting the ‘fun’ in ‘funemployment,’ of course).

1. My friend Lynell came to visit.  She wanted to see what I considered to be, ‘real New York.’  Well.  I don’t know what that means, but I did manage to drag her all around the city for 24 hours.

We visited the highline:

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We walked the Brooklyn Bridge:

Interesting side note:  There is a bridge in Paris that I have seen on Pinterest (obviously, how else would I learn about anything in the world?) where lovers (people who are in love, I presume) can place a lock and throw the key into the river (locking their love together (in Paris) forever).  Well.  New York is not be outdone with romantic symbolism it appears as the Brooklyn Bridge has now adapted (apparently) this similar policy.  However, we do not limit this placement of personal items to lovers and locks.  In fact, you can tie a bracelet, write in sharpie, even leave your luggage tags on our symbolic bridge.  To me it screams, “I was here!  For this brief moment, I’m part of this crazy place!” (and/or, it says, “I love you,” to someone specific).  Anyways.  We didn’t have a sharpie, or a lock, or really, anything to leave.  And I didn’t even take a picture.  But, it was kinda cool so I thought you should know about it. 🙂

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We also went to the Met(ropolitan Museum of Art):

Which I might argue is one of the best art museums in the world, largely due to it’s variety, size, and accessibility to the public.  See, even Lynell discovered she likes art. 🙂

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(Yup.  Just a hooved, winged, Persian palace man.)

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Cuneiform writing!

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Washington crossing the Delaware was much bigger than I imagined.  Larger than life, in fact.  IMG_20140820_110452774a

Lynell with a sphinx.  She’s so excited she can barely smile. 🙂IMG_20140820_111827503a

2. I visited the New York Historical Society.  Largely because it’s $20 for adults and free with my student ID (which is too soon expiring).  The Historical Society is an interesting mix of history, and its possession of random, old artifacts is astounding.  For example, while waiting on the front steps I could choose to stand by Madeline (who, apparently, is a New Yorker after all since the author was a true New Yorker) or.. a (literally) life sized statue of President Lincoln (who is American.. and apparently that is New Yorker enough?).

See:

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He’s so tall I couldn’t even take a selfie with him!IMG_20140820_145405054_HDRa

And, since this museum is has a children’s museum attached (including, a tea room for tea parties, of course) Kai and I took the interactive exhibits very seriously.  This is Kai as an angelic nun.

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And here I am with Fredrick Douglas!

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3. On a final note, I have been ‘back’ in the city for almost 2 weeks now.  Which I like.  Because things like punk ice cream cones and watching the sky through window panes almost never gets old to me.

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Asia According to My Driod

I am home.  Alllll the way home in Brooklyn.  I was gone for 6 whole weeks!  Which, I’ve decided, is a long time.  Especially since, upon returning home, I observed that my apartment smelled like.. a memory.  Sigh.  So.  It is good to be back, although my life is about to be very different (because I have to get a job and can’t just bum around being a poor student anymore).

But, in the meantime I’ve been spending hours (literally, hours) editing pictures from my trip.  And well.  There are just tooo many to post.  So.  Here are the pictures I took on my phone.  The quantity is much shorter and more fragmented.  But, perchance, you will feel like you were there.  (Don’t worry, I’m only posting the best and most gripping ones.)

Enjoy!

The Flight

We are ready to fly.

We are ready to fly.

Considering it was the longest flight of my life, I thought it was pretty nice.

Considering it was the longest flight of my life, I thought it was pretty nice.

They even gave us a little travel kit and sweet to eat before flying.

They even gave us a little travel kit and sweet to eat before flying.

In Istanbul they trust us to board plane-side

In Istanbul they trusted us to board plane-side.

Thailand

Need to make a call?

Need to make a call?

Riding in the public songthaew.

Riding in the public songthaew.

Some cute graffiti along the way.

Some cute graffiti along the way.

Apparently - grenades are not permitted on the songthaew.

Apparently – grenades are not permitted on the songthaew.

Nor is farting.

Neither is farting.

A songthaew.

A songthaew. (Said, “songtell.”)

Vietnam

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Inside the post office.

Inside the post office.

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There is nothing like the traffic in Vietnam.  Especially on the back of a motorbike.

There is nothing like the traffic in Vietnam. Especially from the back of a motorbike.

We went to the opera.

We went to the opera.

The opera house.

The opera house.

The Philippines

(Looks like I only have 1 picture from there on my phone?)

Layovers in Manila at 6 am are a great time to catch up on the internet.

Layovers in Manila at 6 am are a great time to catch up on the internet.

Cambodia

One afternoon we visited the Royal Palace.  It’s druther large.  But has separate buildings rather than separate rooms (i.e. a building for the throne room, a building for the temple, etc.)

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Part of a very long tapestry that told a story I didn't take the time to read.

Part of a very long tapestry that told a story I didn’t take the time to read.

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Ko Samet, Southern Thailand

At the ocean! (And only a little sunburnt already.)

At the ocean! (And only a little sunburned already.)

The sun still rises, even if there are clouds in the way.

The sun still rises, even if there are clouds in the way.

The sign on our cabin door.

The sign on our cabin door.

Bangkok airport is pretty cool!

Bangkok airport is pretty cool!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Sawadee ka! (That's Thai for hello!)

Sawadee ka! (That’s Thai for hello!)

The umbrella street that I found and no one seemed to know what I was talking about.

The umbrella street that I found and no one seemed to know what I was talking about.

9 stray dogs at the 7/11.  What is this world coming to?

9 stray dogs at the 7/11. What is this world coming to?

Our last night... we spent shopping at the night bazaar (of course).

Our last night… we spent shopping at the night bazaar (of course).

Turkey

During our 21 hour lay over.

Some ruins in Istanbul.

Some ruins in Istanbul.

The Bosphorus Strait!

The Bosphorus Strait!

My Closing Thoughts on the Trip:

1.  My favorite country was Vietnam.  We got to have a lot of ‘true’ cultural experiences there (like chaperoning kids for a pool day and taking public transportation alone), which eventually won me over.  But, I also really liked the 21 hours I spent in Turkey.  Istanbul is VERY different than Southeast Asia (as part of it is in Europe) and the change of cultures was fun.

2.   Before we started the trip I told Erleen and Betty that our motto for the trip was: “Yes!”  Betty said, “Our motto is, ‘yes… but,” which ended up being mostly true (but, we only said no to things that would have cost a lot of money (like zip lining) or were totally disgusting (like eating a dog)).

3.  And, all in all, I felt like this trip, with all it’s winding bus rides, 17 flights, and moments of frustration and cluelessness, added up to be the most incredible blessing.  I feel so blessed to have been able to take this trip, and I know, it’s one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ trips that I’ll be savoring forever.

4. So, I give the glory to God.  For making this trip possible.  For making the world so diverse and crazy and connected.  I love it.

it's better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times