Home for Christmas

This past Christmas break was probably the best so one so far since I’ve been internationally teaching. My little one’s are getting bigger so Christmas is becoming more and more exciting. My nephew also entered this great world in December so lots to go home for.

In true Christmas break fashion I was delayed getting home. Although the 9/10 hour delay in Seoul due to fog was a blessing in disguise in helping with my jet lag. I was suppose to arrive back in Chicago Saturday morning at 8:30 but instead arrived Saturday evening around 5:30. No big deal picked up my rental car, the last one in the lot, and then headed home.

Nice view from the plane.

First stop is always at the BFF’s house to see the girls. Right away I was having make up put on me by the Monkey and playing family with K-dog. Side note: always say no to the make up, it doesn’t come off very easy, has glitter in it and gets everywhere and always be the babysitter when playing family, trust me.

Missed these two!

Being Christmas time Kohl’s was open 24 hours – how crazy is that. Since I was in desperate need of clothes the BFF, Monkey and I went to Kohl’s around midnight. The Monkey wore her pj’s because we had a PJ party while shopping duh. I thought we would be the only people there – I was wrong. We had to wait in line to check out – so crazy.

Pajama party in the store and we ran into this guy

The next day I got to meet my nephew and spend a few hours with the new parents. My nephew is adorable; my brother and sister in law were tired, such cute new parents.

The new parents plus 1.

Aunt Brandy and Edward 🙂

Next up was Christmas Eve and Christmas with family and friends. Watching the girls open their presents will never get old. Their excitement level is through the roof – I love it. Then the pure fun of getting the toys out of their packaging and putting them together really starts 😉

My birthday buddy K-Dog’s birthday is the 29th. This year we had a joint party. Yes, I had a joint party with a 3 year old and it was awesome. Our theme was Shimmer and Shine, if you don’t know what that is then you clearly are not around toddlers, Google it. We had matching shirts, which is always a plus. The Monkey had a shirt too because duh it was her sisters birthday party. Somehow I dropped the ball and didn’t get my BFF one, next year for sure and William too 🙂 Seriously I had a great time at the party and celebrating with K-Dog.

Trying to get a good picture with a 3 and 4 year old is hard…real hard. This is about the best one.

Birthday cake and Happy Birthday

On the 29th for K-Dog’s birthday we went and had a tea party. It was fancy.

Probably playing family because K-Dog has one of her babies. She’s obsessed with baby dolls and I’m clearly obsessed with this hat – I wore it a lot over the break 😉

The Monkey came with me to see my dad and do a little shopping.

It was great to see family and friends and to get some hang out time with the littles. See you all in six months for summer adventures!

Later skaters,


Long time no see

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, seven months to be exact. Well, I’m back. This summer was a summer of adventure vacations.

First trip was on my way home. I stopped off in New York with my trusty travel friend, Autum, to see her brother. I also have never been to NYC, so what better time than now. I was in NYC for a week. We stayed in the Hell’s Kitchen area. The hotel was nice but wow was it small. Now that I’m living in South Korea small is my new living theme. We did awesome touristy stuff like the hop on/hop off bus tours, museums, Central Park, shopping, broadway (Kinky Boots), rode the subway, and went to Time Square


Kinky Boots was amazing!

Cookie dough served like ice cream

Giant milkshakes


Next up was home for a week for the Monkey’s Birthday.

The Birthday girl at her Monster’s Inc party.

Kennedy was telling her mom and I that she was coming to Costa Rica with me.

Hollywood and my BFF!








Next stop – Costa Rica. This trip was great because I was back with my gang from Egypt. The house we stayed in was straight up out of the Real World – super nice and huge. Had an amazing pool, outdoor area, and was literally in the jungle. We went zip lining for Autum’s birthday, explored a hidden beach, searched out waterfalls, relaxed by the pool and had some really great hang out time with friends.

A real life sloth!

Amazing views! This was the view from the top of zip lining.

Hidden beach – had to go at low tide so you could find it.

Fresh water waterfall! Amazing!

Straight from Costa Rica, Autum and I left to go to the Galapagos Islands. We went for seven days. We did three days of diving and three days of land/boat sightseeing. This trip is something that people wait their whole lives to go on. I’m just lucky enough to have done it when I was able to dive and to explore on land. The diving was amazing and so different than the Red Sea. I’ve been spoiled by the Red Sea for the past four years with it’s abundance of colorful coral and sea life. Where the Galapagos Islands lacked in colorful coral they made up for in sea life. We saw and dove right along with a huge manta ray, eagle rays, hammer head sharks, white tip sharks, black tip sharks, sea turtles, seal lions, and a penguin.  Seeing these particular sea life in their own natural habitat was amazing! It’s almost hard to explain. At one point we were at the bottom of the dive site, hanging on to a few big rocks and just watching the sea life swim by. It was just like the scene in Finding Nemo. The huge manta ray we saw was bigger than the boat we were on and the hammerheads were so cool to just watch swimming around. In addition to the sea life it was a good experience to dive in different water conditions. The water was really rough the last day we went out and the current was a little more than moderate. At a certain point we just rode the current and it literally swept us away. The water was freezing though. July in the Galapagos is not the warmest to my surprise. I’ve also been spoiled by the Red Sea and how warm the water gets there. I usually dive without a wet suit. Not the case in the Galapagos. I had a 7 mm wet suit on. It was also windy once you got out of the water and into the boat. The first day was cold, the second dive day was freezing and the last dive day was chilly. The land/boat excursions were just as awesome. The Galapagos have a wide range of animals that are only native to their islands – how cool is that? The scenery was beautiful and the people were very friendly.

What a view!

Land iguanas.

Blue footed boobies – that’s really their names 🙂

Day 1 dive trip

Land excursion of the other smaller islands.

Day 2 dive trip

Charles Darwin center – very educational.


After the Galapagos Islands I headed home to spend time with family and friends before I left for Jeju. It was a great summer I got to spend time with my family, I found out that my nephew will be here in December, got to hang out with my BFF and the girls, and had a girls weekend with great friends.

Family trip to the Dells

Wisconsin Dells with Hollywood

iFly with the Monkey. She loved it until she went up high. See that pink bow – she lost it in the wind tunnel 🙂

No fear!

Wrigley Field Tour

Wrigley Field Tour with these two. Ate dinner at The Park and bought some Cubs gear.

Picked up something for my nephew who will be here in December! Birthday month buddies 🙂

5K Mud Run with the Monkey – she set a great pace.

No fear here – she wouldn’t let me help her of course because she’s a badass!

St. Louis with my ride or die girls! Every summer we have our own weekend and it’s as if no time has passed at all. These are the best kind of friends.

Budweiser brewery tour

Co-Authored a book and was published this summer.

Watched these two crazies for a weekend. Tried to make slim = failed. Check out those ponytails though 🙂

Did some chores….

More chores…

I apparently lost my mind and thought Target was a good idea. We survived. I got Starbucks and they got a water bottle and a lego figure.

Superhero day at SkyZone with Spiderman and BatGirl.

Pool party at Uncle Tom and Aunt Wendy’s. They basically got to do whatever they wanted and get whatever they wanted. Kids..

And passed out in the car- success.

I didn’t have to be to Jeju until October but I decided to go early to check things out. On my way to Jeju I made two stops to see friends. First stop was Kazakhstan to see Autum. I didn’t do much in Kaz just relaxed and it was amazing. Second stop was Vietnam to see my Peg 🙂 Vietnam in a word was amazing! We hung around where Peg lived and just chilled which was totally needed. She went to school during the day and I wandered around. I got five massages in the seven days I was there. The food there is so good – like my pants were tight when I left good. I got some clothes custom made for me. That is something that I thought I would never do. I was like I’ll just buy them at the store. Well, Peg took me to a little shop she found and where she had a cute dress made. It was all downhill from there. I walked away with two dresses, one pair of dress pants, two pairs of capris, and five shirts. Everything fits perfect like a glove. I tried stuff on and if it didn’t fit they altered it. There was a dress I loved and they didn’t have my size so they made one from scratch for me. They took my measurements, I came back in two days for a fitting and then two days later I had a custom made dress – so amazing. One shirt I even got to pick out the color and material – what! I’m currently compiling a list of more clothes to buy for when I go back. I will definitely be back Vietnam – so much to see.


I’m in Jeju now and once school starts I’ll update again!

Later skaters –




A tourist in Dubai

I’ve been to Dubai two times. The first time was for a 10K race and the second time was to watch a rugby tournament. On both of those trips I never had time to play tourist because I was either sore from running or drinking all day. I knew that before I left the Middle East a Dubai tourist trip had to happen. I of course had to go in the tallest building in the world!

At first I was going to splurge and stay in a fancy hotel and live it up for a weekend. Then I checked prices and decided, no thank you and went with the Holiday Inn Express at Safa Park and it was amazing. The breakfast had good choices, it was close to the Burj Khalifa, and had a nice park near it.

Dubai is only an hour flight so getting there on a Thursday night is easy and it leaves all day Friday and the majority of Saturday for activities. My trusty travel partner suggested that we get the fast track pass for the Burj so we wouldn’t have to wait in any lines. The was pure genius. Not only did we not have to wait in lines to go up but also got right in the elevator to go down.

The Burj was high – we went to the 124th floor and it was a clear day so we were able to see out pretty far. It was a little windy on the observation deck but it was pretty cool to look down and see everything look like a lego set.

At the top – 124th floor

Looking down at the Dubai fountain

The Dubai mall is also know for the world’s largest aquarium. Now as a SCUBA diver I’m not a fan of aquariums, zoos or anything that holds animals in captivity…but I was there so of course I checked it out. You could walk through the aquarium so you had animals swimming above you and besides you. I got to watch a sting ray eat while being underneath it, that was pretty cool. There was also an underwater zoo which was as you guessed different fish and animals that lived under the water. Overall I wasn’t impressed as yes it was a big aquarium but way too many fish in it. There was also a Shark Week display, that made for a cool picture.

Shark Week

Penguins humping each other – haha 🙂

It was St. Patrick’s day while I was in Dubai so in honor we had some drinks while we watched the Dubai Fountain show. The water show was set to music, lights and shot up 140 meters high. If you have ever been to the Bellagio fountain show in Las Vegas, this didn’t even come close. It was a nice little entertainment stop while we had drinks.

St. Patrick’s Day drinks

Burj night selfie

On Saturday we went to go for a run in Safa Park which was near our hotel. It was about a twenty minute walk but once we got there the park was surrounded by a huge fence. When we finally found the entrance we also found out that there was an entrance fee. So even though we didn’t get our run in we got in a nice walk along the canal. Along the canal there was a wellness fair going on. There were vendors ranging from smoothies to yoga. The whole event was about taking care of your self, gaining confidence and being happy. It was really nice to stumble upon The Happiness Journey.

The Happiness Journey – my motto right now.


Later skaters


Sri Lanka

I had a three day weekend in February so I looked at my options of going somewhere close, was a direct flight and would allow me to lay by the pool and possibly see a few sights if I desired to do so. The winner was Sri Lanka. I’ve never been before so it was a chance to see some new sights. My only requirement was that there was a patio and pool. I decided to stay at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. The weekend was spent laying by the pool, reading, taking naps, going to the spa twice and stopped at the elephant orphanage on the way to the airport. Although it was a short weekend the weather was perfect and it was a nice and relaxing weekend. I will absolutely go back to see more.

View from my balcony

Pool time

Bath time for the elephants

Turning poo into paper

Later skaters



Christmas Break 2016

This year I headed home for 10 days and then decided to take a trip down to Florida to see my good friend L, her hometown and Universal Studios. Peg, my partner in crime decided to meet up with me in Florida for the festivities.

The 10 days that I was home was packed with daily activities – lunch with the Grinch, out to dinner with the family, hanging out with the little people, some light shopping in freezing cold weather, getting my hair cut and colored, school with Steph for the day, out with teacher friends downtown Chicago, multiple Christmas’s with the family, Christmas eve and Christmas morning with the girls and as much hang out time with them that I could fit in. Steph kept us busy each day and those girls are troopers that’s for sure – they are their mother’s children through and through. It was great to see friends and family even if it was for a short time.

The day after Christmas I headed to Florida to see L. She lives in Lake Panasoffkee which is about 45 minutes from Orlando. I taught with L last year in Bahrain and she would talk about where she grew up and how it was very redneck and I was like really in Florida? It was just as amazing as she described it. We did a bunch of “redneck” activities if you will and they were all amazing. I loved every second that I was there – the people, the activities, everything was amazing.

Here are a few of the activities we did:

Waffle House:

As a northerner, I love Waffle House probably because we don’t have them. They are the only place that I will eat a waffle and the atmosphere is awesome. The was my first stop when I got into town and then again before we left to go to Orlando so Peg could experience it.


Airboat Ride –

We decided to do something very Florida like and take an airboat ride on Lake Panasoffkee. This was my first time on an airboat and it didn’t disappoint. In addition to the ride we also grabbed a bucket of beers to take with us. Since it was a company taking us on a tour it was pretty safe and at an appropriate speed. We saw two alligators while we were out. The first one we just saw his head pop out of the water and the second one was up on the shore hanging out in the sun. In addition to the alligators we saw an assortment of birds. After the airboat ride we got to hold a baby alligator. It’s mouth was taped so no big deal. It was surprisingly soft, much softer than what it looks like.


We got a bucket of beers for the airboat ride.








This was our airboat driver and yes that’s his real hair.

img_0477 img_0475

Shoot a shotgun:

I’ve shot a BB gun, a rifle and pistol a few times before but that’s about it. L has a friend who lives on a large property and are avid shooters so that’s where we went to practice. It was amazing and here are some things I learned:

  • The shotgun was super heavy
  • I’m a horrible shot – it took me probably twenty tries to hit the clay pigeon
  • Peg is a great shot – she hit it on the second shot (whatever)
  • It was a great time
  • I need a lot of practice

After we were done shooting and getting ready to leave L’s order of moonshine came in so of course we did a taste test. The moonshine came in mason jars, no labels just straight moonshine. The flavored one’s were the best. My favorite was black berry or wild berry something. My least favorite was blueberry. Then there was straight moonshine no flavor. It was clear looked like water until you opened it and smelled it. It smelled like gasoline and tasted probably exactly like what gasoline tastes like. I felt it go all the way through my body. I can now check that off the list of life experiences too.

Games, drinks, and a pig:

We stayed in had drinks and played the game Life. We drank Moscow mule’s until we ran out of limes, which wasn’t a horrible thing. Later on in the evening one of L’s friend came over and brought her pet pig, it wasn’t hers she was watching it for someone but it was a pet. It was the craziest thing ever. We didn’t know a pig was coming, we had been drinking so all of a sudden there is a pig in the backyard. To say that Peg and I lost our mind would be a bit of an understatement.


Peg chillin’ with the pig in her pajama pants and slippers.

Universal Studios:

After hanging out in Lake Pan for two days we headed to Orlando to go to Universal Studios for three days. I haven’t been to Universal Studios since 2011 since then they have added a bunch of Harry Potter attractions as well as others. I love theme parks and I love Harry Potter so I was really excited. We stayed at the Cabana Bay hotel which had a 50’s theme and it was super cool. The first day at Universal, Jesse and Lisa met up with us. They were at Disney for the week and came over for the day. We got there an hour before the park opened because we stayed on sight. All of the lines were super long being that it is peak season in Florida so we definitely stood in line more than we were on rides. It was okay though the rides were amazing. Harry Potter was amazing just to walk through and look at all of the detail of the sets, shops and rides. We didn’t get home until almost 11:30 p.m., it was a long day. The second day we were a little slow starting due to our long day before. One of the new rides at Island of Adventure is The Reign of Kong. The line was consistently 150 minutes of wait time. We decided that we really wanted to ride it so took the plunge and got in line. Two and half hours is a long time to stand in line even though the ride was six minutes and ten seconds long, L looked it up. Turns out they were a little off on their timing it was three and half hours. Yes, you read that right we stood in line for three and half hours. Now the ride was amazing but still three and half hours. After that we checked the wait times at the restaurants, an hour and forty minutes was the minimum. We couldn’t wait in anymore lines so we hit up Panda Express and called it a night.


Escape from Gringotts ride

The one time we stood in line for three and a half hours.

The one time we stood in line for three and a half hours.

Getting ready for Dr. Doom's Fear Fall

Getting ready for Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall


It was a great Christmas Break!

Later skaters