Belize: Day 1

Tonight I felt lost and helpless.  After having only a few hours of sleep, I was drained.  My group was scheduled to attend a dinner somewhere.  I was to come downstairs at 6:10 p.m.  However, I ran down at 6:20 p.m.  Why?  Because I laid down and fell asleep.  I was so exhausted.  After traveling and sweating profusely, I was just drained.  Didn't help that I caught a major cramp in my leg and had no recourse.  And, my roommate's plane had malfunctioned making her unable to arrive today.  Anyways, bottom line, I was left; I was alone; I was thirsty.  I was hungry too but I could have gone without eating, but water, I could not.

Nightfall was coming quickly and I had to make a decision.  Living in the South spoils you because you can literally talk to anyone, but in a foreign country, that might not be that wise.  After returning to my room three times and contemplating whether or not I should cry, I made a decision.  Crying wouldn't help anything.  Emailing someone was futile because after the third time the power went out I was no longer able to access the Wi-Fi.  My decision?  Yell down from my 3rd story balcony to a lady coming from the sports bar across the way to see if it was open.  Thankfully, it was.

Imagine me in a sports bar.  Ha!  I don't even go there in the U.S.  But here I am, writing this declaration (which will later be transcribed into a lovely blog post) from the inside of a sports bar, being constantly sniffed by 2 large dogs, being thankful that God is helping me overcome my fear of dogs, eating a delicious veggi pizza and drinking the best warm bottled water I could ask for.

It isn't the lobster bisque and fish dinner I was scheduled to eat, but at this moment, this is a mighty fine meal.  I tell you this, tomorrow, I'll be out, on time, front and center, so I won't miss the sailing trip!

To be continued,

Finding Myself in Belize

Have you ever felt a connection to a place you've never traveled?  Ever since I can remember, I've been infactuated with Latin America and the Carribbean.  I've wanted to travel there so long, for reasons I can't begin to explain.  For years I've jokingly claimed to be an island girl at heart.

Today, I find myself in Belize, a small country nestled on the eastern shores of Central America.  As soon as the airplane passed the Florida Keys and Cuba, I felt something in my heart that at this time I can't fully express in words.  Even the sign greeting us at the airplane landing area on the island of San Pedro said, "Welcome Home."

It's not that I necessarily feel an ancestral connection to Belize or its people, but its something special in being surrounded in a sea of brown.

I welcome this experience to learn more about the culture of Belize and to do my part in sharing my love of education with our partners in education.

Finding Myself,

Family Vacations and Summer Activities {Guest Post}

Family Vacations and Summer Activities

Summer has finally arrived and the family can now enjoy some rest and relaxation as soon as you take your leave. But now that you have all the free time in the world to do as you please, how will you spend it? Surely, a summer spent home to dirty the house or apartment will only result in home cleaning, which is not what you want to do. What you want is to have fun. So take a pen and paper and put down everything you wanted to do in the summer, and let us review it.

Frequent outings is the way to start. Take the family to places which you previously had no time for. You can take them to the zoo for both entertainment, and educational purposes. Nothing like seeing how the monkeys dirty their cages to teach your kids the need of cleaning and keeping the house clean. Apart from that you can enjoy yourself, viewing the world’s most exotic animals, and the overall beauty of the Earth’s fauna.

If the zoo is not of your taste, or you simply cannot spend too much there, have the family visit the local cinema to see Hollywood’s latest blockbusters. Yes, some people probably want to see more sophisticated films, but the kids need to be entertained, right? If you like the arts, take the family to the theatre, a museum for more educational purposes, or even a gallery – expose them to the world’s art so that they learn to appreciate it.

Of course, you could go for the more wild option of going to the pool. Have daily outings to refresh yourself and the whole family in the nearest open pool, expose them to all of summer’s joys. By the end of the day, the kids will be all burned out, and will have a blissful slumber till next morning, while you will be free to enjoy the peaceful evening with your spouse – for a home movie, or some board game.

And if none of these options are to your liking, pick option C and have a vacation somewhere outside your town. Go to the nearest entertainment spot to have all the fun you can handle, away from home and all duties, responsibilities, and house cleaning after every time you go to the zoo or pool. There are as many options to go to a vacation as there are spots in the world, so take your pick. Go for a peaceful drive along different cities, or visit the big city and all its entertainment opportunities. Or go to the countryside to experience tranquil life among nature. And, speaking of nature, why not go for a hike? Teach the kids all about the environment and give them a practical lesson about the world’s woods or mountains as you go camping somewhere in the wild. There are no limitations to the things you can show them.

After you have tired yourself and the family to the bone, return home and rest before the typical responsibilities come to greet you once again.

Read more helpful tips at:

Guest post by Ella Andrews.

Wednesday's Feature: Lani of Petite and Co

Meet Lani of Petite and Co.

AE:  Who are you and what is it that you do/make?    
DG:  Hi! My name is Lani. I am a 12 year old making, living, and designing in California, and I make and sell handmade, unique jewelry on my Etsy shop, PetiteAndCo. 

AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
DG:  It all started in the summer before 4th grade. While looking through a brochure about summer camps at a local university, the Metal Jewelry headline caught my eye. To be honest, I had no idea whatsoever on what this week-long class might include! Upon arriving at camp, eight-year-old me was very surprised (and delighted) to see hammers, sheet metal, wire, and pretty much everything a little kid like me could wish for to make a huge mess. I have been taking this camp every summer since then, and my skills and confidence have improved each year. My teacher there, Georgia Dwyer, has taught me something new each time.

Although I only recently started my Etsy shop, PetiteAndCo, I have learned a lot about working with people, giving to charity (see the bottom of my shop's About page!), and above all, enjoying myself! 

{Image Source}

Out of every $30 I make, $5 goes to the worthwhile charity Imagine No Malaria.
Thank You!

AE:  Where can we find your work? 
I am also offering a coupon code for 10% off any item on my shop. The code is summer10 and expires on July 31, 2015.  

Don't you just love it when young people hone crafts and contribute to society?  It makes my heart go pitter patter.  Lani's work is beautiful.  I've already ordered one of her rings.  Please check out her Etsy shop of beautiful, affordable items, and help her with her craft as well as contribute to the charity of her choice.

Peace & Love,

Bedroom Makeover Ideas and Tips {Guest Post}

Bedroom Makeover Ideas and Tips

Bedrooms are one of the more important rooms around a home, which makes them a prime target for a makeover. They will not only work well as reflections of your own personal tastes, but they are also a great place to enjoy more than a good night’s sleep. Some bedrooms allow a large enough room to act as more than bedrooms, potentially a studio bedroom or something similar, while others need a tighter control of interior decorations to work out, but in the end it all comes down to a few good guidelines to make a makeover work well:
  • Borrowing of elements
There are many objects that may originate as something other than furniture, but in the end they can be used as such to enrich the already present elements you have around the bedroom. A mantelpiece can be a good addition to a bedroom for example, as well as other elements. A door may be used as a headboard, combined and framed with crown molding. A wall can have an entire set of decals on it or a mural or your personal art. These are after all simply examples, so you would likely find a better idea more suited to your individual needs than the ones we mentioned here.
  • Separating items
You can separate your bed and the rest of the elements in the room with a simple frame of cubbies or a similar solution that works better. This can create a more controlled environment din a room you can work with, especially if said room is too small for your needs. If you want to create a good uniform look, then you should aim at using the same colors all around. This should allow you to have a single style all around the room without anything standing out too starkly against the backdrop if you feel you need to.

  • Storage space importance
If you don’t have all that much space to begin with, then maybe it means it is time for some house clearance and junk clearance in general. This should let you free up some space you can use for storage purposes with greater success. Using floating shelving is one way you can solve a limited storage space problem, while the other may lie in using a bed with a storage compartment underneath that allows you to utilize whatever floor space you have with greater efficiency.
  • Use of multipurpose furniture pieces
A necessary solution, especially if you don’t want to deal with junk removal far more often than you need to. Combination pieces of furniture will allow for a lot more flexibility around your bedroom, letting you move items around. A good example of that can be a bookcase headboard with a creative twist, hidden compartments and customized pieces of furniture.
  • Clashing colors
A combination of bright colors can really breathe new life into a dull old bedroom, but they may also become straining on the eyes, so you will need to consider how you want to handle the problem. Making sure contrasting colors work well together is an absolute must if you want to have an easier time dealing with your interior decorations.

Read more cleaning and maintenance tips on: waste removal company in Wimbledon

Guest post written by Ella Andrews.

Photography Class - Day 7 (The Last Day)

It was an amazing 7 days.  I am thankful for this opportunity to teach photography with young people.  I am thankful that one of the camp advisors remembered me and offered me a chance.  I am proud of the kids for their hard work and dedication and also to see the fruits of their labor.  I hope that I'll be able to do this again next year, even if I won't be a middle school teacher anymore (more about that later).

Watch the video below to see our last day experiences.  We toured a university campus and then held our graduation (show-and-tell) program in the evening.

And now for some of their images.  I'm impressed.  These images were taken with a Canon point and shoot camera and Bloggies.  I'm hoping that I may be able to write a grant for some dslrs so that I can teach with those in the future.  Ok, now back to their images:

That's all for now!  Thank you for following me on this journey.  I hope you have a wonderful July 4th weekend!

Photography Class - Day 6

Day 6 was a bit of a goofy day.  Yes, we were working - editing images, taking new ones, organizing the slideshow pictures, and so forth.  BUT, we were still being silly at the same time.

I hope I didn't miss anyone, but the students finally submitted their images for printing and I sent them off to Walgreen's.  I ordered each of them a 5x7 print of their chosen photograph.  After our field trip on tomorrow, there will be a graduation ceremony in the evening.  That's when the slideshow will play and also that's when I will be able to give the students their prints.  I'm looking forward to it.  Then, I'll be able to show you some of their work.

Until then, here's our silly video from Day 6.