Monday, June 18, 2012

Welcome Home!

It's always so nice to come home when you have been away for a while. When you spend time away from those you love it makes you appreciate them all the more. I feel like God has put so many amazing people in my life, from my husband, to my parents and sister, Jacob's family and friends. It's really intriguing to me how we interact with each other, I feel like I am always watching people and how they talk to others, look at others and other social interactions. It has always been interesting to me to observe behaviors. That's probably one reason I became a teacher, because I do feel like I am fairly aware of people's behaviors and interpreting them pretty well, as well as anticipating reactions or solving problems between people. Not that I am an expert by any means, but I do feel like I have had a lot of practice studying why people do what they do and how relationships go through ebbs and flows. It always seems like relationships have high points and lower points, but what is important is that you are always looking for the best in people and doing your best to be considerate of them to further your relationship with them. I feel like during the school year I have so many people to keep up with... around 130 individual teenagers, which I am responsible for knowing about personally (how they learn, their struggles and strengths), multiple student parents that I keep in touch with, about 75-80 faculty members, with which I have relationships with (some more personal than others), my husband, my parents, my sister and her fiancé, my husband's parents and his siblings, their husbands and kids... that's not even mentioning the 400 people we worship God with, my closest friends and more distant friends... It is just AMAZING to me that God made us completely capable of keeping each relationship separate yet intertwining, and gave us the brain capacity to keep each relationship current and developing. He has just created us with such a capacity to love and to always be looking for ways we can help other people. Anyway, that was somewhat of a tangent! My main point is just that I feel very blessed in the people God has placed in my life and traveling with them and being away from them has made that very obvious! I looked up a few verses about family and friends, and thought that these were inspiring, or some to be mindful of. :0)

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother. (Prov. 15:20)
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.  She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (Prob. 31:15-17) (This describes so many women in my family!)
Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. (Prov. 1:8)
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors, there is safety. (Prov. 11:14)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Prov. 27:17)
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; (Prov. 103:13)

One of the special people in my life brought these home to my on Saturday. :0) He always has good taste in flowers!

So it appears that one of the souvenirs I bought for myself ended up being a kid's t-shirt instead of an adult size! I pulled it out of the package and it was MUCH smaller than the one they had hanging up as an example. Jacob and I laughed about it for a few minutes and then decided it could be Jacey's souvenir from Singapore. Of course she hates wearing stuff like this, but it just cracks me up.

Just in case you are wondering, the "lion fish" on this shirt is called the Merlion. It has the head of a lion and a body of a fish. There is a huge statue of this at Marina Bay, but I don't know that I got a very good picture of it while I was there. Basically this represents the old fishing village of Singapore and the lion represents the original name of Singapore. 

I also wanted to include a few pictures of some of my favorite souvenirs from Singapore. They each hold such special memories and experiences, and such good reminders of our good times there. The brown vase on the side was "Baby Vasey" that I carried through the airports and on and off the planes. I got it at the Pottery Jungle that we visited on the last day at Singapore. The colorful porcelain container is a piece of Nonya ware, which was an important aspect of the Peranakan culture I talked about, the blended families of Singaporians and Chinese or Indian people. The object in the back is a rice basket that I bought at Dempsey Village from the store where we met the friendly man that talked about our "Buddah Postures". That was definitely a special person on our trip and I'm glad I have something to remember him by. The last thing there is an ornament from Chinatown. One thing I always like to buy when we travel is a Christmas ornament. That way every year when we put up our Christmas tree, I go through looking at each ornament and remember trips we have taken in the past. That all started when I visited Austria back in college and went to the Christmas stores in Salzburg. They had thousands of different ornaments there and from then I just look for them now. This panda ornament was hand painted and really beautiful, so of course I couldn't pass that up!

Well, I hope you all have a fabulous day and say a prayer thanking God for your family and friends!!! :0)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 10: The Trip Home!

So at midnight on Thursday we packed up our luggage and headed to the airport. We checked our bags and spent a few more minutes with Patrice and Ernie before we went through security and to our gate. They waved good bye to us and then we walked through the first security check point and into the restaurant area. The Changi airport is probably one of the best airports I have been to. It is very new and luxurious looking. The only thing that was frustrating early this morning was that we bought water and Kacey bought a coffee, but when we went through the security check at our gate they made us throw away our drinks. It was really frustrating because of how overpriced things are there. My water bottle was $3.50, but luckily they just let me pour our the water when I went through security so I just refilled it. Changi airport is pretty relaxed but flights heading out to the U.S. had higher security checks than other flights heading elsewhere. We basically went through the security check and then had to sit in this glass box until they started boarding the plane. We couldn't go to the bathroom at that point and there was only a little water fountain there. It was kind of weird.

Kacey's feet were cold! So stylish!
Picture of the airport - sorry it's blurry, I was walking!
Departure Gate
Our fave!
Their immaculate bathrooms! Loved them!
I decided to go ahead and carry my vase onto the plane. I was afraid that it might get smushed with all of the baggage, because they are really rough with it around here. Kacey's luggage got ripped on the way over and we saw a guy today who had one of the wheels of his suitcase ripped off! So "Baby Vasey" made the trip on board with us today. I felt like I was carrying around a little baby the whole time lol.

Our first flight to Moscow was about 9 hours and 50 minutes. The Moscow airport is not the most pleasant I have been too, I would rank it right above Mexico City's airport if you've ever flown through that one lol. It was hot and crowded and again, they did a security check for us and herded us into this glass box to wait for the plane to load. This boxed area was much smaller than the Sinapore one and only maybe a third to half of our flight could sit down. The rest of us all had to stand and wait. We did meet a few nice people here though, one girl was an Aggie working in the oil industry in Singapore and was traveling home and getting married this summer. Another guy was from Singapore and going to school at SMU and we met another man from New Orleans that rode rigs or some type of transport boat with rigs and oil, and he was getting back from a 56 day boat ride transporting product. I also was mistaken for being Russian at the Moscow airport today, it was pretty hilarious. This couple came up to me and started asking me questions in Russian and I was like uhh, "Sorry I don't speak Russian!" Kacey was laughing because they came over and talked to me rather than her haha, she said I must look Russian, even though we didn't' think I did.

Our second flight of the trip was 11 hours from Moscow to Houston. We sat by a guy from Belarus on this flight, and he was on his way back to Austin for school at University of Texas. He was studying physics but also interested in neurosciences. He was a nice kid to talk to. One of the things that is so fun about traveling internationally is just the people you meet. In Singapore, there aren't a lot of friendly people, and it was the same in Russia at the airport, but you can always find someone nice to talk to who is interested in sharing their lives and learning about yours. The flights were a little more difficult coming back this time, Kacey and I were just completely worn out and exhausted. We technically hadn't slept in about 43 hours by the time we got to Houston. Just little 20 minutes naps here and there. We were definitely glad when we made it back to Houston and proud of ourselves that we made it haha!

So happy to see this!
We saw our flight crew loading up to go to their hotel while we were waiting on Kacey's mom to pick us up.

So we finally made it home, and Jacey was so excited and beside herself to see me! She's barely left my side since I got here. Jacob even came home a little early to see me and was happy I am home too! Jacob went and got some WingStop and then I took a three hour nap tonight haha and am about to go to bed to sleep some more!!! I hope you have all enjoyed reading my blog, I love sharing my travels with people and it makes me happy that other people are interested too!

Thank you to all of you who called, sent emails saying you missed me and making comments on my blog! I really appreciated it!! It makes it a little easier being so far away when you have friends and family staying in touch with you and supporting you. Love to you all!

Haha - Stay tuned for our trip in July! Jacob and I will be traveling to Australia for about ten days right after my birthday for our 5th year anniversary. Hopefully the hotel will have wi-fi so we can keep everyone posted of what we're doing!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 9 in Singapore: Walking the City, Peranakan Museum, Sultan Mosque and Pottery Jungle

Well, our "Singapore full of fun and silly things" trip is coming to a close. Today was our last day to explore the city and experience all things Singapore. :0) We have pretty much killed Patrice by now, so Kacey and I decided to explore city and let her rest at home for a few hours this morning. (She actually ended up packing for her and Elliott's trip to the United States of America!!!) Before I get into what we saw today though I posted a few pictures of Ernie and Patrice's digs over here in Singapore. Most of the homes here are attached and have little to no yards in the front or the back. Some homes in their neighborhood have small pools that are actually in front of their house.
This is the front of their house. People here park cars in the front under a carport/porch type thing.
Oakwood street! This is the street they live on.

Front of their house
Their house is on the corner of the street.
Kacey and I took the MRT down to the City Hall stop so we could look at some of the government buildings downtown. We got our trusty map that had a lot of "hot spots" marked and just walked around for a few hours. We were a little disappointed that some of the buildings were under construction, mainly City Hall, but we saw a lot of great things today!

This is the part of the city we spent most of our time in today. We got off at the little bus (MRT Station) by St. Andrew's Cathedral and walked around the middle portion of the map.
The Capital Building
St. Andrews Cathedral

Inside of St. Andrews Cathedral
View of Marina Bay Sans from St. Andrews
This is a picture of City Hall because it was under construction :0(
Arts Theatre (Under Construction! Boo!)
We walked over to the Parliament building and went into the little visitor's center. It was interesting to see how they voted people into their parliament from each region and how they passed rules and dealt with legislation. This building was NOT under construction!!! Whoo hoo!!

Regions of Singapore

Treasury Building
Not sure what this building is but I thought it was super cool :0)
Armenian Church - This is the oldest church in Singapore
175 Years!
Kacey signing into the guest book!
We went into the National Archives for a little while and learned about the Causeway, which connects Sinapore to Malaysia, and how it was built.

We walked by this really cute Bible House and went in for a little while!
I almost bought a blue jean Bible, it was really cute and had a pocket!
Fire House
We went into the Peranakan museum for a little while to learn about their culture. Peranakans are a mixture of two or more cultures of people basically. A long time ago, before people really came and made Singapore a sophisticated city, traders would stop in and marry the local women and have children with them. The children were called Peranakans, who then were raised in a blended culture between their Singaporian mother and their Chinese or Indian father. It was really interesting, because they have developed their own culture and ways of thinking. We really enjoyed the museum because it was very colorful and nicely designed.
Entrance to the Peranakan Museum

Wedding Headdress
Wedding Baskets
Typical Peranakan table setting - Nonya Ware is a special porcelain pottery to the Peranakans (that is what is on the table)
kitchen set up
Still going strong! Do we look like tourists??? :0)
One of the cool signs here
Chinese Chamber of Commerce

We then walked over to a mall area and saw this crazy wedding cake! It even had a horse drawn carriage and horses! I thought it would be perfect for Joanna's wedding cake haha!
We then walked down to one of the shopping areas and got a snack at Mcdonalds! It was hilarious to eat at a Singapore McDonalds! It tasted good and had a couple of different options that we don't have in the United States like a cup of corn for a side or chicken on the bone. They eat meat on the bone a lot around here, and it's a different cut and quality than we have in the U.S. so it has been another one of those "interesting things" about Singapore.

Me and Ronald!
Snack time!
We walked down to Chjmes after we ate and looked at the cathedral here. It was absolutely beautiful and has been turned into more of a place to be rented for occasions like weddings rather than used as a place of worship. The garden area behind  the cathedral has restaurants and an open area for sitting and enjoying time with friends in the evening. It was a really nice place.
Chjmes - this is the Cathedral portion
Inside Chjmes
Behind the Cathedral - turned into a restaurant area

After we walked around Chjmes, we walked across the street and saw the Church of the Good Shepherd. They actually were having a service when we stopped by and and the priest was preaching about how Catholics need to marry Catholics, which can be difficult because there aren't a whole lot of Catholics in Singapore. :0)
Church of the Good Shepherd
Inside the Church of the Good Shepherd
After the church of the Good Shepherd, we walked over to the War Memorial. This memorial was founded 1967 in honor and memory of the civilians lost during the Japanese occupation between 1942-1945. The Japanese tortured many of the Singaporian people if they were possibly supporting the British or trading certain items during this time that the Japanese considered illegal.

And we've been outside for a LONG time and are HOT! hehe :0)
We then met up with Elliott and Patrice to eat a quick lunch and made our way on the MRT up to Arab Street to visit the Sultan Mosque and look around some of the Arab shops. Of course while we were waiting for the MRT I dropped my camera and the latch that holds the battery in popped off. The next few pictures were taken on my phone if you're wondering why the quality changed a little bit.
Stopping at a Seven Eleven (these things were everywhere!) and Kacey and Elliott got slurpees!
We were also very proud of Elliott because he got in the picture and smiled without even being asked! Progress!
Arab Street
We stopped by the Sultan Mosque to see what the inside looked like and to learn  little bit about the religion and culture.
Sultan Mosque

We had to cover up with these robes.
We talked with a guy from the United States named Jason Wilson for a long time. He lived in Indiana and then Michigan and about 3 years ago converted is Islam and moved over to Singapore to work at the Mosque. He told us a lot about how Muslims worship and what the prayer times meant that were posted on the wall. The times they pray changes each day according to when the sun rises and sets. Men worship on the lower level and women worship and pray in the upper level area. Islam has a lot of emphasis on symmetry, so you will notice that a lot of their buildings. We learned that their god is gender neutral, which was interesting as well. Of course they gave us a complimentary copy of the Koran before we left!

Inside the Mosque - the Praying area

I just sat down and read this immediately! ;0)
So I said earlier I dropped my camera and the latch that holds the battery popped off and we couldn't get it back on. We stopped by this camera shop on Arab street called Camera Sultan and this guy named Adam fixed it for me! He was super nice and had these awesome business cards! 

Adam from Camera Sultan saves the day!
We then walked over to the MRT to make our way out to Pottery Jungle, which is further out of town off of Pioneer Road. 

This is Ernie's favorite building because of the architecture!
 We took the MRT half way and the taxi the next half because it is kind of far out of town. It was worth the travel though, the Pottery Jungle was a really cute outdoor store with an actually kiln and tons and tons of pottery. They had plates, vases, sculptures and other scrolls and swords too. We shopped around a little bit and I got a vase and a little Nonya ware container. Ernie then picked us up and we headed home.

Pottery Jungle

You can see the Kiln here.

Better shot of the kiln.
While driving home, we pulled off into one of the cemeteries here. I always think it's interesting to look at cemeteries, especially when they are of different cultures as they are here. A lot of the Chinese plots had colorful statues on them and even a picture of the person buried there. Elliott said that they burry people vertically here, like the body is standing rather than lying down. It makes sense because it definitely saves space! Patrice also said that with the plots here, sometimes they have a time limit on the plot of 40 or 50 years and then they will dig up the body to bury someone new there. It sounds grotesque, but when you are short on space and have a lot of people it does make sense. The picture below are of the cemetery we drove through, and if you can imagine there were just graves everywhere, all over the hills. It was really amazing.

Mom, Dad and little Brother waiting in the car for us :0)

I thought this one was pretty with the blue lion statues.
Some of the graves had a  simpler tombstone like you see here.
Well that is it for our travels in Singapore. Tonight at midnight we will be heading for the airport to catch our flight at 2:30 a.m. back to Houston! Thanks for all of your comments and for your interest in my trip!