Thursday, April 19, 2012


Boy, do I have a lot of questions! That's what happens when you lose the one you love so deeply, so tragically. Unfortunately, I may never have the answers to my questions. The two men who hold all of the answers, Mike and Jesus, are hanging out together in heaven. Without question, though, Mike lived a life that glorified Jesus and I will continue to live my life to glorify God and carry Mike's spirit and smile in my heart forever.

During my blog absence, my friend, Kathryn participated in a little fun going on in the blog world by answering 11 questions presented to her by a fellow blogger. You are supposed to answer them in a vlog. That's a video-blog for those thinking I can't spell. Well, let me tell you, when you have "bags that could carry a month's worth of groceries" under your eyes, tear stained cheeks, and absolutely no energy to carry on a seemingly unnecessary conversation, a vlog ain't happenin'! I do make every effort to smile, though, because Mike had a smile that could light up the whole world and he would want me to smile immeasurably more than I cry.

Ok, back to the questions. So, I am not following the rules Kathryn posted ( See, sometimes I am a rule breaker!), but I did want to have a little fun answering the questions she asked.

Now, my eleven questions aaaaaaaare….
1} Are you a freak morning person or a night owl?
 Hands down, a morning person! I get to work at 6:30am. My brain shuts down around 4pm. I struggle to stay up past 10pm. It's sad....really.....but oh well.

2} What’s the best road trip you’ve ever taken?
 Mike and I drove to Tom's River, NJ to our first annual college reunion. We stopped for Mexican food before we hit the road. Any trip that starts with Mexican food or Chick Fil-A is sure to please no matter what happens after that! We rocked out to some sweet tunes, had never-ending conversation, got the a rifle range (Yeah, just don't ask any questions)...went in circles because I am navigationally challenged and we didn't have a GPS, fought a little, quickly made up, ended up at our destination super late but safe, had a blast and came home with many stories to tell!

3} What was your first car?
A 1997 silver Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. Our good family friend, Paula, worked in the Chrysler lobbying office and all of the employees get company cars to drive. She got to order the cars and asked me about a year before I turned 16 what my dream car would be. I gave her all the specs without knowing she would place an order. One of the employees drove it for awhile and then wanted to turn it in for a new one. Sometimes the company cars will go to a local dealership for sale. That's exactly what happened and guess who zipped around in "The Silver Bullet" until it conked out in the middle of the road 5 years ago!

4} What’s your favorite day of the week, and why?
It used to be Tuesday. It's not anymore for a variety of reasons. I have yet to figure out a replacement. Maybe Saturday, but I really have no reason to claim that day as a favorite. 

5} What bad habit of other people’s is most annoying to you?
Smacking. When I express my irritation towards this habit, people tell me their food tastes better if they smack it. I guarantee you it doesn't. And, I promise your loud mouth noises are ruining my dining experience, interfering with my ability to enjoy my food. Can you tell I'm annoyed?

6} If someone made a movie of your life, who would play present-day you?
Let's just go all out and say Halle Berry! A girl can dream, right?

7} What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
HA! The very first day of my first professional job out of college I received a very important task. Sorting candy. Hershey's miniatures, to be exact. I was asked to sort the Hershey bars, from the Mr. Goodbars, from the Krackle, from the Special Dark and place them in separate bowls. Bags and bags of candy.  I am not kidding. The nickname "Candy Girl" followed me for quite some time. The job eventually got more substantive and was an important step to my success today, but I still cringe when I look at a bag of Hershey's miniatures!

8} Obama or Romney?  Just kidding—don’t answer that. Answer this:Team Gale or Team Peeta?
I am embarrassed to tell you I have no idea how to answer this. I haven't jumped on "The Hunger Games" bandwagon. I haven't even just skipped the books and gone straight to the movie. So, I have no idea. Now, I could answer the question Kathryn said not to answer, but I won't. I will point you to my post on elephants, though, because they're really cool and were the highlight of my trip to Thailand!

9} What would you consider the most important event in your life so far?
Graduating from college. My time spent at University of Richmond prepared me so well for the real world. I am truly a better person because of the experience. I attribute my success to the opportunities I was given in college. The bonds of friendship are also unparallelled and I look forward to continuing to share life with my Spiders. Graduation was a gateway to a life I never dreamed of and am so thankful to have. Of course, I thank God for all of this, so you could say that poignant night in September 1999 on Martha's Vineyard when I understood what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus was the most important too.

10} Do you have any phobias?
Ok, try to control your laughter and not think of me as a total wuss. I am afraid of throwing up. It is called emetophobia. It sounds so silly, but it's real. It's not that I just don't like throwing up. Who does? I shake, I cry, I hyperventilate if I feel nauseous. If someone else tells me they feel nauseous, my palms start getting sweaty, I twitch, I avoid being close to them or offering any comfort to them in an event that they might upchuck. I am too busy trying to "hide". I used to contemplate not getting pregnant because of the possibility of getting morning sickness, but God bless the man/woman who made Zofran!  It's a miracle drug for me!

11} Would you rather…always have a popcorn kernel stuck in your throat OR have Cheeto fingers forever?

This is easy as pie. I would rather have Cheeto fingers forever. Having a popcorn kernel stuck in my throat would probably mean it would be difficult to talk. I can't live without talking. I'll take the Cheeto fingers and buy stock in Bounty paper towels because I would constantly be trying to get the "orange gook" out of everything.

The rules say I am supposed to come up with 11 of my own questions and tag 11 fellow bloggers. I've been a little anti-social these days, so that's just not happenin' either. I did have fun with these, though, and hope you don't think I am total weirdo have a little fun reading them.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Feastin' on fried insects

When in Thailand do as the Thais do. You know what that means?! It means you may have to feast on some fried insects. Never, ever in my life would I think that I would eat bugs! I avoid camping because I am not one to commune with nature. I appreciate nature's beauty, but I don't see any reason to sleep on the ground, pee in the woods, and heaven forbid, eat bugs! But, put me in a foreign country, eager for an experience and all of my "I would never do that in my life proclamations" go out the window!

It all happened in the city of Ayutthaya at the night market. We were on a VIP-police escorted rickshaw tour of the city and we made a stop.
If you can't quite tell what that is, it's the fried insect vendor. Our tour guide went to the counter, got a plate, and dared us to try.
 I have no idea what it is on that plate. I didn't want to know. Ignorance is bliss in this case.
Here I am, making a choice. That's my dad in the background. That's his "Who is this daughter that I call mine and is she cra-zy?" face.  Yes, Dad, I really did give it a whirl!
I don't know what I ate. Again, I didn't want to know. My tour guide tells me later that it was a wing of some sort.
This is my face after eating the bug. Can you tell what I thought of it? It was crunchy. Super salty. And, I will never eat one again! But, when in Thailand do as the Thais do.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


My family's favorite part of our adventures in Thailand was our visit to the elephant camp. Let me tell you, the Thais are serious about elephants and take very good care of them. At the age of 3, most elephants go to "Elephant University" (yes, it's real!). At school, they learn how to build things, (They are sometimes used to life sandstone for construction projects), play musical instruments, dunk a basketball, kick a soccer ball, dance, and paint. Below are some pictures to prove it, but you have to see it for yourself to really soak it all in and comprehend the wonder of it all.


The elephant is painting

The finished products painted by three elephants. I bought the one on the right!
As if the show wasn't entertaining enough, there was more in store for us on that day. A ride on the elephants! We rode 2 to an elephant through the river and up the bank and around for an hour and a half. It was quite a bumpy, but amazing experience!
 The guy sitting on the front of our elephant is a mahut. Every elephant is required to have an identification card and a mahut. The mahut stays with the elephant until one of them dies. It is likely that the mahut will die before the elephant because elephants can live until their nineties. However, they are allowed to "retire" at 65 years old and can just enjoy life instead of having to perform in front of people. Essentially, these animals work from age 3 to 65, and we thought we had it hard!

If you ever find yourself in Thailand, don't miss out on this experience! It's memorable, for sure.
Trunk up = Good luck!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

The floating market was a colorful and interesting glimpse into local life.
We took a longtail boat through the canals filled with small flat boats paddled by mature ladies who were ready to bargain at a moment's notice. You floated along and admired all of the goods.

It was fascinating to watch the exchanges. The photo above shows a man purchasing fried bananas. The lady merchant has a little bucket attached to the pole. She fulfills the man's order and places it in the bucket, using the pole to hand it to him. He then removes the purchase and exchanges the contents of the bucket from the fried banana to the money he owes. The merchant pulls the bucket back towards her and the transaction is complete.

The Damneon Saduak floating market is one of the only floating markets in Thailand that caters specifically to the local Thai people and not to the tourists. The visit to this market provided a unique glimpse into Thai life and their beautiful goods.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cabbage and Condoms

Sadly, prostitution, particularly child prostitution, is a huge issue in Thailand. One of my colleagues at work just returned from spending a year ministering to child prostitutes and attempting to transition them from their plight into a normal childhood. She recalls many of the prostitutes she worked with were just tweens, but their dress and makeup transformed them into women far beyond their years. We witnessed this first hand. Sit in the lobby of our hotel at night and you'd see the prostitutes enter the lobby, leave their ID at the desk, and meet creepy men at the elevator who'd escort them up to their rooms. It was a sad sight to watch.

A restaurant called "Cabbage and Condoms" devotes a portion of its profits to help keep the young girls off the streets. I wasn't all that impressed with the food, but that's not the reason you dine at this establishment. 
Never seen pad thai wrapped in an egg!
In addition to being drawn there for a good cause, the "statues" outside the restaurant are creative and entertaining. All of the statues are made out of condoms.
This is "Condom Claus". Isn't that incredible?!  And, the funniest one is this:

Do you know who that is? It's Tiger Woods. And, the sign next to him says, "Hey, Tiger, Did you use these?"

The food is bland, but the cause is important. At the very least, if you find yourself in Bangkok, you should pay a visit to this restaurant just to check out the creative condom art and to do your part to help out those young girls who deserve a childhood instead of the life they are living.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Ninety-two percent of people in Thailand are Buddhist. As such, there are Buddha statues and temples everywhere! Here are some of the most beautiful Buddhas and temples we came across during our two week adventure.
The detail put into constructing these Buddhas is amazing and the devotion of the Thai people to Buddha and his teachings is admirable.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ahka Tribe

As we cruised around northern Thailand, we stopped to visit the hill tribe village of the Ahka. Carved wooden gates with guarding spirits presiding over them distinguish the Akha village.  The Akha tribe is known for their gorgeous silver headdresses.
The headdress this woman is wearing has been passed down in her family for generations. Her family heirloom was made out of real silver. This is not always the case nowadays as many are silver plated.  Ahka tribal members also wear distinct outfits.
 It makes no difference if you are the matriarch of the family or are one of the youngest/newest members of the tribe, you follow the customs. This little guy doesn't have a silver headdress just yet, but I bet he will trade in his cloth cap for a heavier adornment soon!

The Akha tribe style of house is supported on low stilts with a square living area and a stove in the back.

Fifteen people live in this one house. I would probably feel extremely cramped and disgruntled, but the Ahka people were very happy and hospitable to us. They did a little dance for us and presented their handicrafts for us to purchase.

I don't know about you, but one of the things I enjoy most when I travel is getting a taste of how the locals experience life. The Ahka tribe couldn't be happy to let me into their piece of the world and I am pleased to learn from them.
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