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The Yellow Brick Road

Updated: 2016-09-07T21:29:19.077-07:00


V&K's 2014 in Review


Jan: Set New Year Resolutions.... Evidently I didn't work hard enough on them- cuz they didn't work out. They were good ones too. Maybe I'll try again for this year:1) Act in 1 Community Play2) Plan my weekends further in advance- I'm starting to do this again3) Volunteer at least once a month.Feb: The Florida/Montana Sanders come to visit!  We had a blast hosting our family members from the corners of the U.S.A. Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts.~Author Unknown (I found this quote particularly apropos since we all like fudge and we're all a little nutty)(Yes, he's named after Harry Potter. Yes we acknowledge that we are BIG FAT dorks)March: We celebrated Texas Independence Day by adopting the best little doggie in the world: Dobbie Perseus Rogers. Also, Kyle turns the BIG 30! He's officially old. Not me though. I will perpetually be 29. We're pretty in love with this little guyApril: Kyle decides he wants to be a welder. We look at local schools, but ultimately decide the top welding school in the world would be worth the effort.OHIO it is....Last Event at Free Trade AllianceMay: Spurs rock the NBA once again. Love my Spurs!June: Kyle and Vanessa furiously pack; furiously in both senses- angrily because we hate it, but also at the pace of speedy Gonzalez. Our lovely friends at our going away partyJuly: After taking a deep breath, we take the plunge and move to Ohio. Our Roadtrip there is a LOT of fun.August: Disney Reunion! Eleven years ago, Kyle and I took another leap of faith and moved to Florida to do a "college internship" at Disney. 11 years later, these ladies are family to me. So happy that we get to live near'er' to them. Seven hours sure beats 20 hours driving. September: We've moved to Troy, Ohio, a small town of 25,000, live in a house from 1908, a block away from one of the most trafficked train tracks... 38 trains daily. The train itself isn't too loud, just conductors liberal use of the horn...We're a "lightening strike"October: Halloween happensNovember: First Thanksgiving by ourselves. Its lonely, but we're blessed that we have each other. Ohio is cold- even Dobby agreesDecember: We celebrate 14 years of togetherness.... wow... We're OLD!Oh yea, and Kyle grew a beard!Merry Christmas from our Family to Yours![...]

And you know what else...


(image) Nerves.... the ones that dance through your bloodstream causing havoc, and general symptoms resembling heroine withdrawals, they are also a culprit.  They initiate writing blockages the size of Mt. Helen. They stop the words from coming anywhere near this blog. A 15-paragraph pile-up of thoughts, feelings, unspoken fears have caused a traffic jam of epic proportions measuring back miles and miles.  It may take weeks for the appropriate authorities to clear the wreckage and alleviate the stoppage. Its those nerves that cause my heart to race once I allow myself to find the recesses of my mind that cause the twitching, asylum-like blank stares.  Those heart-racing anxiety permeated nerves, they suffocate my creative voice until its nothing but a squeak. Sometimes I don't write because I'm afraid my fearful thoughts will bubble out of me, and make loved ones concerned of my well-being. If I let all of those truths, rational or absolutely ridiculous splatter the pages of this journal. And when I say truths, I don't mean that my fears are truths, but the true thoughts, anxieties, and angst coursing throughout this body are real no matter how absurd.  I wont lie, this is a bit of a stressful time, and sometimes the unknown scares me so much I feel the need to clutch my heart and manually pump it, but I also have faith. I have faith that we are competent, talented and wont die in a gutter. I am confident in our ability to make this move work, and for us to find our own version of happiness and success. But it may take a while for the blogging to catch up as my fingers want to fidget more than they want to be a conduit of my thoughts.

P.s. Kyle says this post makes me sound depressed. Don't worry, I'm not. How can anyone be depressed with so many festivals. Seriously, Ohio has a festival for everything. I am just a worry-wort, I needed to express it. I think I come by that naturally.

Can you find the Dobbers?


Dobby, the cutest dog in the world, second only to Princess Aurora, may she rest in peace, felt uneasy about all of the packing we were doing. 10 points to who ever can find our puppy in Kyle's disasterous closet- and no, this closet does not look like a tornado went through it because we were packing, it always looks like this.

The picture of Dobby reminded me of Aurora as we were packing for Chile, South America. She also didn't like our packing and made sure to climb into the laundry basket of clean clothes to let us know. 

And here are some obligatory pictures of adorable Aurora, and Dobbydoos.

Road trip to OHIO!


Day 1: (3.5 hour drive) Brownwood: An adorable little town with a pretty spectacular new family, the Nesses, some of our favorite people in the world!   We made a stop in Brownwood to visit with friends and explore their amazing new house.Kyle and Dobby taking a nap on the couch after unpacking We drove through Dublin, the home of the first Dr. Pepper bottling company. Day 2: (4 hour drive) Dallas: We don't have photographic evidence of visiting with Kyle's parents, but we always love visiting with the rents.  Dobby is an excellent backseat driverDay 3: (6 hour drive) Searcy, AK: We had a lovely time visiting Shara and Mike, long time close friends who have housed on us on past cross-country road-trips as well.Movie time!Introducing Princess Kyle: Dress up time with Shara's daughter Addison was fun for everyone!Day 4: (11 hour drive) Dayton, Ohio.  Home...our new home, at last.[...]

Fitting the pieces together


I'm kinda sick this weekend. I say kinda because as long as I'm not moving, I feel fine. Its only when I move from off the bed that I feel ill. I hope that it passes quickly, because its annoying being sick. Being sick cramps my style yo!  But as I was in the process of getting sick I realized that sometimes reading my body requires a lot of trial and error.  For example, yesterday, we went to the National Museum of the United States AirForce.  The museum is free to the public and is fascinating.  As we were walking around, a pain started in my stomach.1st diagnosis: Thirst. "I'm really thirsty. I'm going to go find some water." I say to Kyle. The water fountain wasn't far, and after gulping half a liter of water, my stomach isn't quelled.  Conclusion: Stomachache. Yep, it wasn't thirst, my stomach was aching.My understanding husband took me home early without finishing the exhibit. The museum is free so we can visit anytime, and preferably on a day when I am not coming down with something. On our drive home, I felt as if my energy has been kidnapped. My body refuses to hold itself up. Once home, I flop onto our bed, and lay where I have fallen like a discarded rag doll.1st diagnosis: I'm exhausted and need a nap, even though I have only been awake a few hours.  Final Conclusion: I actually have a headache which is accentuated by movement.Yesterday is not my only example of this diagnosing trial and error. At Free Trade Alliance, on Monday mornings, I often got this sensation of restlessness. I would have a hard time concentrating at work, and staying on task. Sometimes it would take me all day to diagnose these sensations. Eventually what I decided that the restlessness had a source; sadness. It wasn't just sadness though, it was grief, and loss as well. I was sad because we were saying goodbye to the future I built up in my mind. Starting a business isn't easy, and requires a lot of energy, time, money and positive thoughts. After Kyle decided not to re-open WARSIM (after the debacle with the tax-man) my emotions flatlined. They remained in a state of shock for a time, or so I thought.To be honest,  it took me a while to not only realize that I was sad, and then longer to figure out the source of my sadness. I didn't think I would be affected by the closure as much as I was.  WARSIM was Kyle's baby, not mine, but his business was the start of our dream, of starting our own business, and taking control of our lives. It may not have been the ideal, but it was a stepping stone in the right direction.When we shut the door to that future, I mourned its death, and the loss of that possibility. I mourned the loss of that stepping stone, and path that we were on. My experiences are not always clear. It took me a long time to realize that I was in mourning, and that I was sad.  But Kyle and I, if nothing else are always in motion. We do not stay stagnate long, and are always need to be working towards a larger, grander goal.  Thats not to say that we will continue to move constantly from country to country or state to state, but that we believe in having a dream and working towards that dream.Am I the only one who experiences enigmatic sensations and has to fit together pieces of the puzzle in order to understand myself? Or does this happen to you too?[...]

Yep! We're in Dayton... Ohio


You heard right, the great world travelers are on a new adventure... Ohio. It may not be as exciting as hiking Machu Pichu in Peru or the rock climbing on the beaches of Thailand, but we have both been pleasantly surprised. Ohio is GREEN! As in the color not the movement. There are trees everywhere, big, old gorgeous trees, and grass; green grass! I know... crazy right?  Who knew grass was supposed to be a color other than brown?

Dayton first impressions:

Disjointed! If you're a Texan maybe you could compare it to Dallas. Dallas in itself is much smaller than its metro-area encompasses and is comprised of townships. Dayton is very similar to this. When we were researching I found some pretty large discrepancies when it came to population numbers. One website gave me a number a little larger than 100,000, while yet a different website gave a number over 1 million. What? Which is it? One of these numbers is missing a zero, right?

Nope! Dayton itself is small, but the metro-area is large with at least 20 towns. I know this because I looked up the Chambers of Commerce, and there are 25; that's a LOT.  San Antonio has something like 12 or 13, but for a different reason- we're crazy, no but really. San Antonio's Chambers of Commerce are divided by characteristics like, "Women's Chamber" or "Hispanic Chamber" or even "North Chamber." Dayton has so many chambers because each of its little towns has its own chamber.  And counties. There are sooo many counties.

I don't really like driving around the city. Things that look close, are often really far. I just don't understand it. Within a 24 hour period we drove 120 miles. Granted, we are actively exploring the city, and its townships, but seriously.... thats too much driving!  Gas is killing us as its at $3.75 here.

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Another positive is that its been storming a lot, and Kyle and I love a good storm. And one evening in particular, we were blown away as the lightening ripped through the clouds in violent shards of white electricity, its tendrils enveloping the ominous clouds like a fish net being thrown across the sky.  I had been intending to go for a run. Our windows are North-facing and showed none of the onyx-color of the South or the light show spectacle occurring. We attempted to capture it on tape, but of course, our iphones failed to capture the true awesomeness of the event.

Blog Paralysis


(image) I've determined what has kept me away. Kept me away from something that I love. Its fear. Well its a whole host of things including grad school, exhaustion, noise, new job, but mostly I blame fear. More and more, in the day and age of the internet, and smart phones, and connection with the interspaces 100% of the time, no one is anonymous. Health insurance companies deny coverage because of posts on facebook, or job applicants are thrown in the trash because of questionable pictures found lurking on the internets. We are on display all the time, and whether we like it or not our guts hanging out can have serious consequences. When I was in S. Korea, I felt I had a sense of anonymity. Blogging isn't really as much of a thing there (at least as far as I know), and I didn't suspect my bosses would be interested even if they stumbled across my blog (not the least of which because of their inability to translate my verbiage without significant effort).  But in the U.S., it is common practice to do a google search of job applicants, and because of this, I have been paralyzed. What if they found my blog? What would they think of me?  I'm here, I mean, my raw honest self is out on display for the world to see, for judgement, and criticism, but more importantly, rejection. I like me, and I hope that most of my friends and family like me too, but maybe my directness can rub people the wrong way. I am determined to get back to blogging, and I hope that I can find the courage to be honest in a way that isn't too self-incriminating. For now, I have to find the balance between being safe and being real. Thanks for listening friends.

TEDxSanAntonio Video Trailer Contest


Family and Friends in and around the San Antonio area,
Have you ever considered yourself an amateur film maker? Maybe you aren't sure or you've never actually picked up your video camera, but you thought about it in your day dreams over your soggy cereal?  I have an opportunity for you to try out your film making skills to make a 30 second- 1 minute long video trailer for TEDxSanAntonio and win free tickets to TEDxSanAntonio plus become a star! It's true, guaranteed to make you as famous as a rockstar! (That might be a slight exaggeration) Its a fantastic opportunity for anyone thinking about filmmaking to try out their skills with because as we haven't had any submissions, it is very likely that you could win by just submitting!! Think about it!!  Do it quickly though because the deadline is September 1 at midnight!!  Click here for more details.

It's official: The job search is over!!!


Somebody hired me! Somebody is going to pay me in something other than experience. I'm so ecstatic I could jump to the moon using joy as my fuel.I don't know how it happened? I had set a goal to be gainfully employed by the beginning of summer and when that didn't happen, plan B went into effect; Intern until a job with payment of green is attained (preferably by the end of the summer).  I met my goal! I didn't think it would happen, but it did. The thing about job hunting is that its treacherous to the ego. I had started to loose hope that I was worth anything. My ego has had a refill of late from the joy of being hired, but last week, my ego looked something like the mermaids that Ursala in "The Little Mermaid" had turned into withered, writhing creatures at the bottom of her cave.  They would reach out for help as any other sea animal passed, but instead of help they received glares, pitiful and frightened looks.  No one glared at me, or screamed at me, however all the same, I felt disregarded and useless.I wish that I had blogged during the job hunt because there's a lot of good writing material there. There are so many emotions, its like being on a constant emotional roller coaster.  I can see why after a while, people just stop looking, when you feel like your qualifications aren't what the world wants, its easy to curl up in a ball and close your eyes to the rest of the world. Believe me, I wanted to do that so many times, and I was only in the "game" for a few months. Some people look for much longer than I did. I can't imagine the state of their self-esteems.  And after being ignored, looked over, told that you're not good enough so many times, you start to believe it.  Had I kept a blog it would have looked something like this:Day 1: I spent 5 hours looking at jobs on the internet today. I signed up for every job search engine ever created, maybe even some that are scams. I don't know what I'm doing...Day 3: I'm trying to stay organized with how many jobs I'm applying to by keeping an excel sheet, but really its just depressing to look at. I've applied to at least 20 jobs now, and no one has replied yet.  I even applied as an unpaid intern to multiple places, and I'm still not getting a response.  Seriously, am I that undesirable??Day 10: No one is responding. If I have to write another cover letter or fill out another application, I might murder my computer.Day 14: I sent out my resume to family and friends with a description of jobs to look out for. Why didn't I do that earlier?Day20: Someone said they may have a job for me? Sending out my resume to my friends and family was a brilliant idea!! The job sounds amazing. I'm really excited about it.  It's working at a non-profit working with women and their families and I'd be helping to run it.Day 25: It would have been perfect but it doesn't start for another three months at least. My hopes are a little higher, but still no job....Day 27: I've lost track of how many jobs I've applied to now. My excel sheet is disjointed and depressing. It just shows how many companies think that I'm not worth their time.Day 30: I applied to a job on craigslist. It was for a production company and they emailed saying they want to interview me. They want to interview me! No one to date has wanted to interview me....Day 35: I had the interview. I asked him how I did at the end. He said I seemed nervous.  Thats not good. I didn't feel too nervous in that interview and if I come off as nervous when I don't feel too nervous what do I look like when I am nervous?Friday: I sent my resume to a contact at the Free Trade Alliance today and we had a conversation about a job opening that might be available. It would be a perfect fit for me! Monday morning: I got an email from the Production company. I didn't get[...]

The last semester nearly killed me


Classes began, teachers were kind, I had high hopes for an easier semester. I was wrong. I was so wrong, there isn't really even an analogy to capture the wrongness of my assumption. It wasn't really my classes that killed me, because although they were challenging they were manageable. It was overwhelming number of things needing attention. 1) find an international internship for the summer. 2) find a job, one in which money is exchanged. 3) Compete in Free Trade Alliance business plan competition.  There was more, there must of been more, but at this point, my brain has stopped functioning. No one explained that brain malfunction would be a side-effect of grad school, nor did they illiterate the draining of energy that may or may not ever return. Grad school is a vampire! But instead of drinking blood, it feeds on brain power and energy, both of which have been fully depleted. I'm running on fumes at this point, my reservoirs are  nearly completely sapped and somehow I'm supposed to produce magnificent products. How, I ask, can I do that without a functioning brain??

So for now I'm an intern. An unpaid intern at that.
Mondays- I work for Hemisphere planning development department. 
Tuesdays-Thursday- I work for the Economic Development Department (EDD). Check out the blog I'm helping contribute to. Make comments! They'll love me if people make comments!
Friday- I work as a lab monitor at UTSA and a TA for a class I've never taken, trying to help students in a program, I don't know how to use. Ahhhh!!!  But I'm paid, $11/hour. Yea baby! I'm rolling in the doe!
My extra time, I'll be spending applying for jobs.
The weekends are mine... I think.... At least in my mind. I plan to do a lot of sleeping. A LOT!

Did I mention that I went to Costa Rica? That'll have to be another post. Okay. I'm off.

Your mission, should you wish to accept it: Go read my post at the EDD, make comments, share the blog, make me look good.

Kyle is a sickie


I'm a little concerned about our lives when we are old and decrepit. Kyle's been sick for four days now; we're pretty sure its the flu, but its already the second time in 2013 that he's been sick. He started off the New Year with a pretty wicked cough and now before its even February, he's got the flu.  He had 103 temperature last night.  I knew we should have gotten flu shots.

Every time Kyle gets sick however, I go a little crazy. He's such a cranky-pants when he's sick.  (I'm sure I'm just a ball of sunshine.)  I just can't handle so much frowning so consecutively... If his immune system is this week when he's in his 20s, will he ever get out of bed after the age of 60?  Or will we turn out like the grandparents in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and never leave the comfort of our bed?  Maybe he'll turn out to be like Grandpa Joe and miraculously jump out of bed one day and then we'll have a life time supply of chocolate. I like that ending!



I've made a resolution, just now... so I'm not sure it can be considered a New Years Resolution, but its a resolution all the same. Instead of writing stories as has been my pattern in the past I'm going to use the blog as a sounding board.  That is sometimes I might just write a few sentences about the thrilling or mundane. That is until I have time again to incorporate blog writing into my life once again.

  • Grad school is half way over... 
    • WHAT!?? Yes, this one year program that I started in June ends in August 2013!  This is my last semester of courses, I have an international internship, and then...I have a masters!
    • My courses this semester are Management Science (STATS), International Fincance, International Economics, International Marketing.  Plus two weekend courses.. Human relations and.... I don't remember
    • Anyone want to give me a job?  Or an internship?
  •  WARSIM has great plans for this year... I'm not sure how much Kyle wants out on the internet so I'll just say, the plans are gonna be great!
  • We are both volunteering with TEDxSanAntonio.  TED Talks are amazing and if you haven't watched them, you are severely missing out. TEDx are locally organized events in the spirit of real  TED. It's a great opportunity to work on something I'm so passionate about. I even wrote a blog post for them. You can read it here.

Happy New Year 2013


How is it a new year again?  How do the years fly by so quickly?  This time last year, we were packing up our apartment in Korea.  It was an arduous process which included LOTS and LOTS of boxes posted home.  Nearly $700 later, it was all sent.  Had we flown directly home, we wouldn't have had to pay even close to that, but we weren't flying home.  At least not straight home.  We were hoping on a plane to Malaysia for our four month adventure through Southeast Asia with stops in England, Ireland, and New York on our way home.  It wasn't as easy as we had thought it would be. Tears were shed.  It was an end to an era.  An end to our time in Korea.  And we would it miss it, but mostly we would miss the community of friends we had formed.  In my life, I've become accustomed to change, and I don't dread it like I might have in the past, but it is still hard saying goodbye.

Here's a brief overview of 2012.

Jan- Malyasia and Laos
Feb- Vietnam and Cambodia
March- Cambodia and Thailand
April- Jennifer travels Thailand with us.
          We visit our friends in both England and Ireland.
          Visit Jen along with other friends in NYC.
          Arrive home to live with my mother and grandmother in the new house.
May- Lots of projects and cleaning
June- Vanessa starts grad school.
July- Grad school = NO LIFE!
Aug- WARSIM is created
Sept- San Antonio Airsoft is purchased by Warsim.
Oct- Grad school is less intense than in the summer, but still has taken over my life.
Nov-.....same same
Dec- Warsim nearly quadruples sales from San Antonio Airsoft last year this month.

As for 2013, we'll still be chugging away.  I'm looking forward to putting my degree to use starting summer time, and Warsim has big plans, big plans.... look out 2013, here we come.

Back to Blogging!


I'm not going to even count the months I've been away.... Its been a long time.

I've missed blogging... I've missed reading updates on my blogging friends....I've missed the process of recording my thoughts, and of having a record of what was going on in my life in a certain month, in a certain year... 2012 is completely remiss.

I had such good intentions.... When we returned home, I'd spend a week locked away with my computer editing photos, writing down stories, editing video.... and then life happened.  We got swirled together with projects, applications, reconnecting, and my life recording tumbled off a cliff.

And then GRAD SCHOOL started.  Summer school took over every waking minute.  If I did anything except study in my free time, guilt curled its way around my soul and squeeze the life out.  Economics was especially tough.  I made an "A," but I'm not sure the anxiety was worth it.  Before one of my tests, I started swallowing air.  My throat had restricted.  The internet explained that these were signs of extreme stress...

I'm now in the second semester of my international MBA and its much calmer.  Its not a breeze by any means, but I have a few moments to catch my breath.  Something I didn't feel I had before.

I still feel guilt at not studying in my free time, and using it to blog, but its okay.  Life is going to be okay.  I'm not sure if I will be able to regularly blog again until after I graduate, but I'm gonna try to update more than I have.



I know its been a while since I've posted. I've been home for at least three weeks, and my original plan was to take a week off, and then start the editing, writing and blogging marathon. What I didn't anticipate was the amount of work that our new house and unpacking required. I never got that week off.  We hit the ground running as soon as we arrived. Unpacking a house is tortuous, and tedious. I'm pretty sure I'd  choose water-boarding over unpacking this amount of stuff. It should be given the same level of respect and accomplishment as a marathon. Its a monster that just can't be beaten with a special shaking of the controller like in mario cart. It takes patience, endurance, and a mind for organization. Basically, I'm failing at this game the house and I are playing. It beats me into submission every single time. I come out looking like a domestically abused woman. I just can't level up and the more I unpack and take more things out that don't have a place, the more I get discouraged. I've begun to slouch so far over that people mistake me for Egor. There's just too much stuff, and the stuff doesn't have a home, and I don't know where to make it fit in. So basically, instead of facing the house head on, in a face to face match off, Kyle and I are going in on a side angle sneak attack, stealth-like; projects. We may not be good at finding stuff a home, but we're good at making certain things look better.What have we done???  Oh so many, its hard to count....well, I have enough fingers, technically to count them all, but, really, you don't want a number...(read not enough to really brag this much about but I need something to feel good about).Below are three of our accomplishments.1) chalkboards for the kitchen2) pot hanger3) makeover on an old drawerThese first few pictures are of the chalkboards.  We went to Goodwill and bought some cheap frames.  I sanded the paint to give it a bit of an antique look, painted the glass with chalkboard paint, and turned old spice containers into chalkholders.   We're pretty happy with them so far. These next few pics are of the pot hanger which doesn't have any pots yet.  Another find from Goodwill, we took it home, painted it black for a primer, painted turquoise blue on top lightly and hung it up.  I'll put up final pictures of the ladder when its complete with the pots hanging decoratively from its posts.This last project is of a drawer my mother couldn't let go of because it was from her childhood.  There was nothing endearing about this drawer.  It was simply misplaced sentimentality. But against my better judgement, we kept the horror.  But in order for me to keep it in my kitchen where I'd have to look at it daily, it was decided on high, that decoupage was in its future. It was hideous. I really should of taken pictures of this wooden heinous fiend with aging, curling yellow lining previous to its transformation.  But I wasn't thinking that far ahead. I'm pretty pleased with the finished product, although I'm not sure decoupage is the best way to go for kitchen things that occasionally get wet. [...]

Home at last


We've arrived home in San Antonio Texas finally. It's been a long amazing journey and we're ecstatic to be home. I didn't intend to give up my blogging while traveling but thought I'd be remiss to focus on blogging while I was out seeing the world. There was so much to eat, see, smell, touch and experience, and I kept trying to find time blog instead of experiencing all that our travels had to offer.

For the time being, we are living with my mother and grandmother.  The house is not fully moved into, and so we plan to spend much of our days, trying to transform the house into a livable space rather than a box-occupied disaster, but I must say, organizing is not a strong suite of mine, and the whole process is more than a little overwhelming.

Figuring out what to do with all of our junk!!
 June 4th, I will begin classes for an international masters of business at the University of Texas at San Antonio. While Kyle has plans of his own which deserve an entire post onto itself.  Although our traveling has come to a temporary halt, and we have stopped moving from city to city and are actually settling into the same bed for at least a year, our adventure is far from over. In fact this journey is just the beginning and I hope its shaping up to be just as amazing.
My mom's new house

Laos 3


Jan 17  We’ve chosen Elephant Village for our Elephant riding tour. It’s an Elephant sanctuary for old and dying elephants and the animals are well cared for and not abused like at some of the other places.  We climb onto the Howda (elephant seat) and set off.  Its bumpy and the seat sways under the elephants powerful muscles.  I clasp onto Kyle as we descend down a rather steep hill.  Whats to keep the elephant from tripping and toppling down?  I almost feel as if I’m at a 90 degree angle. I picture myself being trampled under this magnificent beast.  Watching National Geographic is one thing, but to be on top of a creature with so much weight and power is breath-taking and poignant. I fear and respect this animal more than I ever have before now as it holds my life strapped to its back.The ground levels off and the line of elephants splash into the river, but I don’t truly feel my most at ease until I’ve switched with the mahout (the elephant expert driver) and am riding on the elephants neck.  Her skin is as rough as sandpaper and as wrinkled as a farmer whose worked in the sun 80 years.  Its so thick I wonder how hard I’d have to pinch for her to feel anything.  I like feeling the elephant directly under me. I can ride with her, moving as she moves, and its much more comfortable than the seat on top.  She continues walking as I stroke her leathery skin. (All of the elephants at the sanctuary are girls, the males cause too many issues- as they tend to do across species)It's amazing.  Truly amazing.  I loved being on on the elephant, and can only wait impatiently for the next elephant riding experience we might get. After our elephant excursion, we head to a waterfall.  The water numbs the skin with a single touch.  Lisa, Kyle and Deirdre jump in anyways.  I happily film and take pictures warm on the shore.Lisa and Deirdre climb into our bed after dinner for our final goodbyes.  We’re parting ways after the evening, they to Vietnam, and us on an off the beaten track tour.  We chat laying comfortably on each others laps across our queen size bed until both Lisa and Kyle are snoring.  Although we are sad, we plan to meet them in Ireland in April so we know it isn’t our final goodbye.[...]

Laos 2


Our bungalowsJan 14Vang Vieng is one cool town. Its completely overrun with drunken, partying tourists, but its situated along a river among the mountains and has restaurants of every type galore.  I can’t help myself.  I love this place. We’re supposed to go tubing today but we’re off to a slow start..We share a tuk tuk- a motorcycle with a cage like cart on the back perfectly purposed for carting tourist around- with an Australian couple, and three German girls.  It’s begun to rain.  I can’t help but pout.  I wanted to go tubing today, and the weather is not cooperating.  We’re going down to the river anyways just to see whats the big fuss. Bars line the river.  Free shots of Laos whiskey are given at the entrance of each bar.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this.  Its just a drunken party along the river.  Were I warmer, I might enjoy myself more, but all I wanted was to go tubing today, not getting drunk by four in the afternoon in crappy weather.  Why did I not bring warmer clothes?  Its winter for goodness sakes.We see the Irish bloke we met last night.  He doesn’t remember us.  He’s been drunk for 30 days straight.  He’s a hilarious fellow, with red hair, and calls himself, “the ginger man.”  He plants his legs, bends his knees and does a funny jig when he introduces himself. He says he has a pain his back, we're pretty sure its his liver."side effects to our malaria tablets.  We especially like the oe that says 'breast-feeding'"Jan 15We’re staying an extra day.  The sky is clear, and the sun has emerged bright and shiny as a newly minted coin..  We’re going tubing today.  A number is written on our hand in permanent ink.  Tourists, especially the drunk, rowdy ones have been known to take others tubes while they’re at the bars and profit on the deposit thats returned to you upon return of the tube unscathed.  These people, the ones who are drunk before noon, give westerners such a good name.The water is a bit chilled from the rains yesterday, but I’m ecstatic to be tubing again.  A water bottle slams into my face knocking my sunglasses off.  Two men standing on a platform in the middle of the river are waving happily at me.  A rope is attached to the water bottle so that one can be pulled into the bars.  I tuck in my growl, and say “no thank you” as they balk that I'm not tubing to go the bars.Groups of children with baskets are collecting the riverweed.  They eat it after its been fried and salted.  Its like seaweed except from the river.  I can’t help thinking, “shouldn’t they be in school?”We took a cooking class and cooked four dishes.  They were all fantastic: Penang, Laotian sweet and sour, Laotian pad thai, and a coconut curry soup. Jan 169:00 am is when were supposed to be picked up for our trip North to Luang Prabang.  They’re never been on time.  We choose a minivan over a bus this time.  It might have been the wrong decision.  Half of us don’t have backings; no support for our necks or heads for six hours.  The road is serpentine and twists our stomachs until everyone in the car wants to hurl.Without a hotel room booked, we wander around a bit looking for rooms.  We run into two of the Aussies in our van.  With six in our group, we’re able to negotiate for better rates.  Score!  And whats more, we’ve made friends, and we’re going to dinner with them.Lao Lao G[...]



Jan 13We leave Vientiane on whats called a VIP bus. I don’t feel like a “very important person” on this ratty, rusty piece of junk on wheels sitting next to a guy vomiting into a plastic bag.  We spent most of the time in Vientiane sleeping.  We did get malaria medicine from the local hospital for $2 for a months worth. Thank goodness we didn’t buy it in Korea for hundreds of dollars.Laotians aren't pushy at all, in fact they're quite content hanging in the back of their tuk tuk until you find them! If there’s one word I could use to describe Laos at this moment would be dusty.  Everything is covered in dust. The motorcyclists have to wear masks in order to breath, and the leaves along the road look dead from the two inch layer of dust weighing them down.  We saw a man watering the road.  We couldn’t understand what he was doing, but now we understand, he was attempting to keep his home from being completely weighed down and crushed in the dust.They sell sandwiches along the road; sandwiches with bread, real French loaves.  Are we really in Aisa?The bus breaks down only once. I’m a little surprised to find that there is a man on the bus almost entirely for the purpose of fixing the bus when it breaks… It’s the suspension, there isn’t any left… we’re back on the road in about 15 minutes..  We’re lucky really.Our guest house is supposed to be situated on the river, but it’s the end of the river, and has turned into a stagnant cesspool.  A bamboo bridge separates us from our bungalow huts across the “river.” The wooden planked stairs are unevenly spaced out with huge gaps in between.  The bridge shakes as we cross. One heavy handed step, and I think this bridge would collapse.  I grip onto the bamboo handles for dear life hoping that I don’t fall while carrying my pack across.  One of the many stray dog happily crosses with us, turning his head with curiosity as if to say, “I cross this bridge everyday, why are you gripping the bamboo handrails for dear life.Our huts aren’t much better than the bridge, and are actually completely made from bamboo.Fantastic and Safe Electric practices in Laos!Offerings to the ancestors.  Everyone must do this.Lisa and Dee demonstrating how confusing Laos money is.  Which  number means how much the bill is worth?  I dunno?portable fruit stand.  What more do you need?Our room, four beds, four holy mosquito nets, all in a bamboo hut.Kyle LOVES hammocks. Seriously loves them.[...]

Christmas dinner 2011


It was almost a disaster. Almost.  We had it planned for months.  Call and order Christmas dinner from the military base.  There were so many people working, and it was easier on the Koreans who couldn't cook to save their life, but it didn't work out.  Our plan failed.  It didn't just crash, but face planted and spontaneously combusted into ashes.  The military base, well, they didn't come through, and Christmas Eve, Kyle and I were calling people to figure out a new plan. It was difficult.  I didn't want to have to do a big cook-a-roo right before we were scheduled to pack up and leave, but it didn't look like we had much of a choice if we wanted a Christmas dinner.  And there also was the issue of NO TURKEY.  So we bought chickens.  And we didn't invite the Koreans.  I felt really bad.  I knew my preschool teachers were really looking forward to the dinner, but we couldn't invite them and not the others, and it would just be WAY too much work to cook for 30 people.  So we kept it small, and miraculously it turned into a dinner.I did burn my finger on scalding water, but other than that it went off without a hitch.[...]

Saturday breakfast


Kyle and I, while in Korea, always made Saturday morning breakfast special. And cutting shapes in our toad in the hole bread just made the food that much more enjoyable.
Toad in a hole (basically cut out a shape in bread and then fry and egg in it!  Yum!)

We also tried to make shapes with pancakes using a trick we saw on pinterest: putting the batter into a squeeze container.  It probably would have worked if we hadn't put bananas in it.  The banana chunks kept getting stuck only to burst out unpredictably, destroying the pancake artwork.  They still tasted good, but we'll have to try again later without the bananas.

Monster bookmarks


I love my husband.  I love my husband for many many reasons, but one of them is that he LOVES to do crafty things.  Many people attribute craftiness as a girly trait, but he throws out all the girliness and paints it into a manly masterpiece. I, along with others, poke fun at Kyle for his "girly traits" but why does sensitivity, detail orientation and artistic-ness have to be of females?  Kyle claims these qualities with a growl and a burp, and takes it by force, all in a burly stride.The other night, I decided, I wanted to try a new project I'd seen on pinterest; monster bookmarks. I thought, we could sit down, play some Christmas music and make some gifts.  What I saw as simple project, my husband  took to another level, bringing out the watercolors, and felt eyebrows, to turn a few simple steps into a marathon evening of monster making.  Honestly it was a blast.  We watched "the Grinch" and "Santa Clause."  We ended up making something like 15 monsters in a little under 7 hours. By the end our backs ached and our eyes were strained, but we were gleefully satisfied at the outcome.  We gave them out at our Secret Santa exchange before we indulged in S'mores.To make these monster bookmarks follow the instructions on this siteWe added some of our own features, painting the teeth to give the appearance of rotting and blood and adding fury eyebrows. Kyle even made some that weren't monsters with cool artwork found in magazines.[...]

Christmas decorations


When your in a foreign country, away from home for the holidays, Christmas decorations, even simple construction paper ones help to brighten the soul.  So this year, we went all out, with help from our friends at the cost of cookies, and mulled wine.  We cut out letters to spell Merry Christmas, we designed and cut snowflakes, and Kyle even constructed a fireplace from cardboard and construction paper.  We hung ours and our friends socks as stockings, even finding little surprises in them on Christmas morning. Walking into our apartment and seeing the fireplace, even if it was purely psychological, helped me to feel a little bit warmer this holiday season.

this Christmas tree was constructed with scrap paper from our decorating extravaganza.

Ding Dong Dang- Dance off


A few weeks ago, (when this was originally written, but probably a few months ago now) our preschool was chosen to attend a special event, the Ding Dong Dang show.  It's a famous children's show here in Korea that is filmed live in front of an audience.  It was in the afternoon, and most of the childrens parents came to pick them up to experience the show with their children.  Because we couldn't leave until all the parents who were going to pick up their children came, we ended up getting to the show late enough to get nose bleed seats, or the equivalent of.  I thought the whole set up was strange.  It was a childrens show and yet the seating was plastic chairs, not any type of leveled seating, which I thought would be required for a childrens show.  My lap, along with many other parents and teachers laps, showed marks from the wear and tear of little feet trying to balance, just to see a piece of the action on the stage so far away.  I'm not sure if any child could actually see without standing on their parents (or teachers) lap.
For most of the show, the happenings on the stage was a mystery to me as I don't speak Korean. But even the children who's first language is Korean were bored much of the time.  There was a LOT of dead time.  One moment, however, stood out as a truly rousing twinkle when another teacher and I were called onto stage for a dance off. Yes, you read that right, a dance off.
In Korea, blond hair, and round eyes pretty much stick out like rudolf's red nose. So when we raised our hand for the chance to win a prize, we were obviously spotted and chosen quickly.   We were brought onto the stage, and luckily, the MC spoke some English, enough so to communicate.  We were asked first a few questions, and then asked to say some Korean words.  Now, I'm a big girl, and I can admit, that as far as learning the Korean language, I have been an utter failure.  And its all my own fault, I'll take full blame for my lack of initiative, but I would like to say in my defense, that whenever I did try and pronounce Korean words, even simple ones, I was stared at as if I were an alien and NEVER understood.  It kind of puts a damper on learning when NO ONE can ever understand the words you do know.  So when the MC asked us to speak some Korean words, the ten vocabulary words that I know flew out and fluttered into the wind.  Literally my mind went completely blank. I recovered slightly, but the experience was terrifying, much more intimidating even when they asked us to dance in front of at least a thousand people.

My dancing was far from amazing... but we had a fun time, and we even got a prize.  I didn't need any of it so I gave it away, but the experience  was unique and one to write home about.

ding dong dang video

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Malaysia to Laos


Jan 11Laziness at its supreme.  Nothing but lounging, napping, blogging and reading are on the itinerary for today.  Oh yea, and flying to Kuala Lumpur.  We have a flight out in the morning from Kuala Lumpur to Laos so we’ve decided to stay at the airport to save money.Jan 1211 am: Whoever thought it was a good idea to stay at the airport instead of get a hotel room should be strung up by their toes.  Originally, it didn’t seem like too bad of a set up.  Kyle, the expert hobo, and commandeered cardboard boxes, and after setting up our airport fort, we had just laid down to sleep when we were informed the airport was closing for a few hours and we’d be allowed back in then.  We, and the rest of the Malaysia who all seemed to have the exact same idea as us were herded outside. (Seriously, there were hundreds of people) Another hobo camp was set up, not as comfortable but doable.  That is until the coughing started. It was a tickle in my throat, and a slight stinging in my eyes.  But I was NOT the only one. We all started coughing.  It was a chorus, a concert conducted by an invisible hand.  When the coughing fits increased, and the crowd began dispersing from their temporary encampments, we too moved. I’m exhausted now.  I haven’t gotten any sleep, and I can hardly keep my eyes open, but we’ve arrived in Vientiane, with only a slight bump at the immigration office.  Kyle needs more pages in his passport.  He got reprimanded, and we are to find the US embassy soon. But for now we are just glad to have found a soft bed in a clean guest house.Our neighbor[...]