Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Just a Little Crush...

It's Friday and a day that many people around the world will never forget.  Today is definitely a day that I will never forget.  :)

The thought occurred to me this morning that there are many people in my life now and if not all of my friends from Auburn that do not know some things about my past.  When I'm talking about past, I'm talking about my middle and high school years.  It all began in middle school, when I fell head over heels in love with Prince William.  When I was in eighth grade my grandparents and I took a trip to London and while they were dragging me around to every church in England, I was busy looking for the love of my life.  :)  This is no lie!  I had a huge poster in my room and many cut outs from magazines and I was so sure that we would spend the rest of our lives together.  I have not told many people, if any in my adult years, about my obsession with Prince William while I was growing up.  It's funny to me how there are people in your lives at certain times in your life that might not know the person that you used to be or the things that used to take up so much time in your life at particular moments.  I wanted to share that with all of you so you would know how special today was for me! 

I actually remember, believe this or not, the first time I saw a picture of Kate Middleton.  I knew she was the one for him and that might sound a little crazy, but it's true.  I think it is so neat her story and how they met.  I like how she is just a common girl who feel in love with a Prince.  Like so many other people around the world, I feel that this morning was truly a fairy tale beginning for these two.

I have never been more excited to wake up at 4:30 and I was even more excited to share it with my Mom over the phone.  At 6:00, I went to the gym and waited anxiously to see their first public kiss, which was so sweet and surprisingly two kisses!!!  I did get a little teary eyes, but many of my friends know I cry at the drop of a hat when it comes to things like that.  :)

Although William is now taken, no worries because I still have hope and know that my Prince Charming will come along at the perfect time!  :)  And I too will have my fairy tale beginning!

I hope that everyone who is interested in the Royal Wedding was able to watch and enjoyed it as much as I did.  Have a Happy Friday!!  Cheerio Darlings!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Getting Better With Age

Happy Thursday!  I am continuing to pray and think about EVERYONE in the South, especially in Alabama.  I have been watching some amazing videos of tornadoes from yesterday and can not believe what I'm seeing.  I hope everyone is doing okay.

Last night we had a little thunder storm here and it was beautiful.  We have not had rain in a while due to the dry season (which runs December to around May) and it was so nice and refreshing to get a little last night.  When it began raining, I realized the kids were jumping on the trampoline next door and I made a bee line for that thing!  Has anyone jumped on a trampoline as an adult?  It may be one of the best things!  :)  If you haven't, I highly recommend it. 

When I think about everything that I have been enjoying lately it makes me laugh because most of them are so simple and things that I would not have dared to do 5 years ago.  Simple things such as playing in the waves, jumping on trampolines, riding bikes, playing in the rain, playing in the's almost like I'm regressing back to childhood, but I just like to look at it as enjoying life!  Spending time in Panama has been difficult, but has also done wonders for my well being and I can honestly say that it is because of spending time with these kids.  They have shown me to not take life too seriously and to enjoy even the simplest things.  I can only hope and pray that I continue to live my life like that even when I get home and if anyone sees that I'm getting too wrapped up in adult life please send me a message or pull me aside and say, "Nicole, just go jump on a trampoline!"  :) 

Here she is!

I hope everyone has a great day today!  Only 5 more weeks and I'm home!  WOO HOO!!  I'm going to leave you with some words of wisdom!  :)

"Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional."

"Age doesn't matter, unless of course you are a cheese."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ten Days Away...

Happy Hump Day! I first want to say that I have been watching the weather back home and it's hard to watch bad storms coming into the South and me not be there with my family.  I am praying for everyone back home during these storms and all the time.  Hopefully things will get better over the next couple of weeks.  They do say April showers bring May flowers!

We had to leave our humble abode in the beach community we live in regularly for ten days and move out to another place in a different beach town (hard life I know) called Pedasi.  I have written about Pedasi before, but we have never spent as much time out there as we have this time around.  We continued to do school everyday and would finish up around 1 pm and then we filled our time with fishing, beach, boogie boarding, surfing, dance parties, and eating some good food.  It was beautiful out there and we really had an amazing time.  Below you will see a picture of a bonfire we made one night...amazing!

After school, Leslie and I would walk about a two mile venture through the gravel roads that lead out to a beach area.  Before you get on the beach though you are on a cliff overlooking some spectacular views (I meant to take pictures of these views and we will hopefully be going back so I can take some to share with you guys.)  You then have to make your way down the cliffs and then have to rock climb (if the tide is high) or a combination of rock climbing and beach walking (low tide).  One day when we walked, the tide was so high it was crashing on the rocks that we were climbing on and we would have to time it perfectly and run from rock to rock as the water was receding.  This was so fun and was also a great workout.  It really is so different exercising outdoors and I hope to continue being able to get out of the gym and do some more things outside even when I get back to the States.  It has been proven that people who exercise outdoors exercise longer and are healthier.

There was also a HUGE surf competition at the hotel that I have previously written about.  There were some of the best surfers in Latin America there (one of our friends actually won the long board competition).  We spent a couple days going over there and watching surfers catch waves through the binoculars :) and hanging out.  It was such a cool experience and one that I will never forget.  I love the atmosphere there and the attitude of the people there.  They are so laid back and like I have said before just doing what they enjoy most...surfing and loving life. Here are some pictures from the competition.

 This is where the judges were located and where the surfers would leave from to head out to the water.
 There were a lot more people on Friday and Saturday...I think I took this pic on Thursday.

This is the bohio that I was telling you about in the first Pedasi post.

Another afternoon was spent fishing and I caught my third fish in Panama (no picture folks I'm sorry, but there is a video)!  We spent about three hours out on the boat and had NO LUCK.  We were about to call it a day when both lines off the back of the boat caught, we caught two of the same fish that must have been in a school.  They were a pretty good size and were really yummy!  :)  Along with catching two fish, we watched a beautiful sunset and those pictures are below.

Where we stay is right on the beach and there is NO ONE on the beach.  It's like out private beach area.  Except for these guys one day.  Leslie and I were sitting in our beach chairs taking in some rays and I look up and see this thing on the beach.  At first, I thought it was a dog and then said that dog is huge.  :)  I then saw a heard of them coming and realized they were cows.  :)  They proceeded to get a little closer and so we decided to run to the water because they wouldn't come in the water or at least we hoped not.  They ended up walking up and down the beach for about 15 minutes and then made there way back towards where they came from.  At least it is safe to say that the only cows on the beach are the actual cows and not humans...  :)  Here are some pictures of cows on the beach...

 The cows are by the rocks figuring out that they can't cross.

 Here they come...

That's me out in the water...Leslie was taking these photos.

Lastly, one afternoon a little baby bird flew into the house and could not figure out how to get out.  His little heart was beating so fast and he was beginning to panic.  He was so cute and I had to get a picture of him.

He's so cute!

Here is an inspirational quote that was sent to me yesterday through my daily devotional by email and was perfect for some things that my Mom and I were talking about the night before on Skype.

"When we are weak, we can still be strong.  When we're under the greatest stress and facing the greatest challenges, it may be the best day of our lives, for God is working to make us into the people he wants us to be."

Alrighty then, I think that's it for now.  Hope everyone has a Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


This is a short post and I hope you enjoy it!  I am going to share some of the tunes I am groovin' to right now.  As most of my friends know, I am a music FREAK.  :)  Enjoy!

This is one of my favorite songs right is for the lover's of the world!  :)

John Mayer is probably one of my favorite artists and this song reminds me of my life right now!  
Perfectly Lonely!  :)

Love me some Black Eyed Peas and we jam to this song here in Panama...

This one too!  :)  We are huge BEP fans here!

These are just a few of the ones we are constantly playing at the beach and pool.  :)  What are some of your favorite tunes to sing and dance to?  Please share!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Worm

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a great weekend and a great Easter!  I had a nice relaxing day by the pool reading my Nicholas Sparks book, A Bend in the Road.  My Grandparents turned me on to his books and has become one of my favorite authors.  Once I begin one it's hard to put it down.

While I was away for ten days I kept my time busy and read a fantastic book named Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah.  This is the first book I have ever read by her and it was so great.  I downloaded this book to my Nook before I left home in January and two others of hers as well (that I have not read yet).  Like Nicholas Sparks' writing, she is easy to read and you really get to know the characters in the book.  Firefly Lane is about two girls who become best friends and the book goes through their 30 year friendship.  It had me thinking about all of my friends and our relationships and how exciting it is to keep in touch and see what life brings.  I highly recommend this book for a great summer read!

While being here in Panama I have read some other amazing books.  I have NEVER had time to just sit and read.  I promised myself that after I finished my Master's and had more down time I would get into reading.  I really enjoy it and have found that it can be a great escape from everyday life.  :)  Some other books that I recommend are below:

 Read this one twice while I've been in Panama!  Loved it more than the movie!

 As you can see I am a HUGE fan of Nicholas Spark's books!  :)

 Started on the second Twilight book and became hooked!  These were great!!

Has anyone read any of these books?  What did you think about them?  Are there any books that you can recommend to me? 

Thanks for letting me share my book recommendations.  ALL of these books are so fabulous and I hope you read a few and enjoy them as much as I did!  :)  Have a great day!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

How Great Thou Art

I'm back from our 10 day time away.  I woke up this morning a little sad that I wouldn't be able to be with my family on Easter and do all the traditional things that I have always taken for granted.  :)  I talked with my grandparents last night on Skype and my grandmother (Mama) was cooking away getting ready for today's lunch.  My family had the usual plans of going to church, eating a fabulous lunch, and spending time together.  This is the first time that I have EVER been away from that.  It makes me sad, but also allows me to see how precious time is with family and that you should never take those things for granted. 

When I woke up this morning I reached for my Bible and began reading the last sections of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  I am going to be completely honest, I am a person who trusts God's word and I try to look for understanding in all that I read and study, but I have always been a little confused wanted to know more and curious about what the meaning of Easter is and Passover and Palm Sunday.  My family will be laughing right now as they read this because they know EVERY Easter we have a conversation and they ask me questions and I answer and they all laugh because I can get confused.  :)  Well this morning I wanted to read for myself and try to get a firm understanding on it all.  I will also honestly say that my spiritual curiosity was sparked about a year ago and that some things are new to me.  I find myself sometimes wondering things and then I will turn to my Bible and read for myself.  I am thankful for the knowledge of many family members and friends that have helped me to better understand the Bible and God's word.  :)

I was on facebook last night and saw this video that a friend had posted on her status.  I was moved to tears and have to share with everyone.  Let me know what you think.  :) 

Words can not describe how I feel when I watch's truly amazing!  I hope everyone has a fabulous day and a Happy Easter! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fresh Fish Anyone?

We have gone to Pedasi around four or five times since I have been here.  The second to last trip we took was so great!  We enjoyed the beach and ocean (which was around 70 degrees!), we took in the beautiful sunsets, star gazed (many shooting stars out), built bonfires, and also had a few spiders and scorpions to take care of too, oh and we saw a howler monkey.  I really enjoy being out there (for short periods of time) because it feels like you get back to the basics of life.

One of the days we were in Pedasi we went fishing.  I was so excited because I've been out fishing before, but not like what we were going to do.  Many people don't think that I'm a very good fit to be in the outdoors, but I really enjoy it.  I could hardly sleep the night before, I know that's a little crazy, but I was so excited to be out on the water, in the sun, doing something I love.  I am definitely a coastal girl at heart.  I love doing anything that involves water and sun, especially salt water.  Being by the coast and smelling the smells and hearing the sounds, just completes me, and I get my fix of the coast when I'm home through my annual subscription to Coastal Living magazine that I get as a Christmas gift every year thanks to my Dede!  :)  Enough of that...I think you've gotten the point.     

Back to fishing.  We geared up with coolers, sunscreens, hats, kids, etc and went to our friends bed and breakfast.   This is where we loaded onto a little ponga boat and boated out to the bigger boat.  It was time to fish!  We went out and just trolled a couple miles off shore (we had a boat full of kids so it was easier to stay closer to shore, and it was good that we did because one of the kiddos was almost sea sick).  We were out for about three hours and caught all sorts of fish: snapper, corvina, two barracuda, and some other ones I forgot the name of. :)  I caught a little snapper and the corvina that you see in the picture.  It was such a great time.  After we got done fishing, we refreshed ourselves at a LOCAL, and I mean local, bar and ate a true Panamanian meal.  It was truly a day of living the Panamanian lifestyle.  :)

We are leaving for Pedasi tomorrow for ten days, so I'm hoping to have a couple other things to share with you when we get back.  I hope we have internet out there, but you never's Panama!  I hope everyone has a great rest of the week and weekend and I look forward to posting again soon!

 Me with my first fish caught, a corvina...we fixed it up that night with some lemon and garlic on the grill.  YUM!
 This is the view from the house where we stay while we are there.
 Beautiful day to be out on the water
 Our fresh catches for the day
 At a local bar with my favorite beer...haha!
 Where we ate our local fare consisting of fresh fried chicken, rice, and plantains

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!  Have a great day!  Ciao!

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Month...but who's counting...

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone is having a great day!  We are!  The kids are done with school and they are with friends playing...the perfect time to post.  I want to share all that I have accomplished today.  I am currently looking for a teaching job back home and got a lot of things written and done today.  I completed three applications and cover letters, I also was able to find some great teaching positions available and applied to those.  I'm getting a little nervous about the job situation, only because this is such a hard time for the unemployed, but I know that something will come up!  :)

I also want to share something else that is amazing...this week marks one month that I have been getting up and going to gym at 6am everyday!  Well during the week, and then on the weekends I have been getting up and going around 7 or 8.  Which is still great for me!  This is simply because I am not a morning person.  It is so hard for me to be motivated in the morning, but thanks to a little sleep (bedtime around 9 every night) and routine I have overcome a great obstacle!  I came up with a plan to devote the month of March to only working out and getting into the groove of things, and then the month of April I would continue going to the gym and being active along with cutting portions and watching what I eat.  It really has been easy, and I'm really proud of myself!  :)  I have only seen a few pounds lost on the scale, but that doesn't matter to me when I feel so much better and know that I'm doing the right thing for my body. 

I would love to hear comments about good tips for the gym or something healthy you like to eat or do to stay on track.  I like trying out new things and especially those given by people that have found them to be successful! 

Another thing I have been doing is drinking a cup of green tea every morning after I eat breakfast.  It's sometimes hard to remember to do this and sometimes it is so hot the last thing I want is hot tea, but it does help my stomach and makes me feel better!  :)  I am going to post a link below that lists out many benefits to drinking tea.  My dad also shared many benefits with me and it was really him who planted the seed in my head to begin with.  Thanks Dad!  :) 

Benefits of Drinking Tea

One of my good friends and I were talking back at the beginning of January, when I was home, about how 2011 would be the year for "total restoration".  "Total restoration" meaning taking care of our bodies, minds, and souls.  I am proud to say that I have been trying to do a better job and think for the most part I have succeeded.  These are things that are imperative to a long healthy life and when you start them early they will become habits and hopefully passed down to your children.  I am enclosing with a verse and a picture I took today on my walk to the gym.  This makes it a little easier to get up and see every morning, and it is nice to have some quiet time, especially when you live in a house with three kids!   :)

"Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given
to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you
must honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boquete Trip!

Around mid-October we decided to take a trip to a place called Boquete.  Boquete is in Panama about an hour south of the Costa Rican border.  I once again was unsure of what to expect and was excited to be going somewhere that was in the middle of the country and not on the coast.  I have really enjoyed living by the beach and my dream is to relocate to the Georgia coast when I get home, but going to the pools and beaches everyday can get a little boring.  :)  I know people are reading this and thinking, she is CRAZY.  But I think anything is that way.  I have never relaxed and had so much down time as I do here, and I am truly grateful for this time, but I do miss the hustle and bustle of being home.

So, back to Boquete.  :)  I was so excited about the trip, but was a little down because the Auburn/LSU game was that weekend and I had been able to watch all games on CBS.  I was crossing my fingers, hoping I would be able to watch it.  So we loaded up the car and headed to Boquete.  It took us around 5 and a half hours to get there and with three kids in the car, I just tried to close my eyes and listen to my music in order to keep my sanity.  So, we arrive in Boquete and it is beautiful.  I have never been to Colorado or anywhere like that out west, but the family kept comparing it to towns in Colorado.  It was so clean and really beautiful.  I would recommend Boquete to anyone traveling in Panama.  A little bit about Boquete is that it is a prime place for growing coffee.  There are TONS of coffee fincas (farms) in the area and I will post a few pictures of one amazing place that we ran into just driving around.

We get to our hotel and it is right on a river.  Leslie has shown me pictures of Boquete during the rainy season and the area floods at least once every couple of years.  The hotel that we were staying at had undergone some renovations due to being almost destroyed in a flood.  I was surprised at how nice the hotel was, because when you are in a third world country, you aren't sure what to expect.  :)  There are 6 of us to have to accommodate so we got adjoining rooms and the rooms have a queen bed and a twin bed.  This was perfect, I stayed in the same room as the two boys.  The slept in the queen bed and I was in the twin.  I was fine with these accommodations until I was woken up the next morning at 6am to a conversation about farts and nuts (sorry to add that little detail) but, BOYS WILL BE BOYS!  :)

The day we arrived was the Saturday of the game, so I was keeping a close eye on the time so I could get back and could hopefully watch it.  The boys ended up going up the mountain to check out some land while the girls stayed behind.  We ended up going to get some desert and drink a little bubbly at an old hotel called The Panamonte.  I will post the link for you below so you can see this amazing place.  I also have some pictures.  It was raining and around 60 degrees when we arrived at The Panamonte, but was the perfect weather to sit in the covered sitting area with a fire going.  It was a great afternoon.  We stayed there for a couple of hours and then headed back to our hotel.  The first thing I did was ask the bartender about the channels and low and behold they get CBS!  We hung out in the bar area and watched the game, which is so great to me...who can say they were able to watch our AMAZING season in Panama.  I hate that I was away for the season, but it is one I will never forget...being in Panama and winning the National Championship!  :)

Here is the link for the hotel-
The Panamonte

Here are some pictures that I took while at the hotel-

 We know where we are headed!

The grounds were so lush and gorgeous!
The fireplace where we sat and had some desserts and champagne.

 You can see I'm very happy!
 This one is kind of dark, but this is one of the sitting areas.
 The bar area is on the far right and more sitting areas.

These pictures don't do this place any justice.  You have to visit to see how beautiful it is.

Here are some pictures from the hotel where we stayed-

 This is a covered area where you can eat or hang out. 
 Here is the bar area and then up stairs is another lounge area.
 The river is just beyond those rocks across the street.  You can see the fog covering the mountains.
 After the game we did a little dancing under the disco can also see Halloween was coming up.
I don't think I need to explain this one...  :)
Great place to watch a great game! War Eagle!
 The view from the room the next morning...crisp and clear.
Another view...this is an extinct volcano.

When we woke up we decided to venture around.  The pictures will do enough explaining of where we went and what we saw.

The next pictures are of a HUGE coffee finca that we stumbled upon just driving around.  This is a hotel and restaurant, but was still under construction and would not open until November 2010.  It was stunning! You can see up on the hills all the coffee that is being grown.  I really wish I could remember the name of this amazing place.

Coffee beans laying out to dry.

One evening we went to eat at a restaurant in downtown Boquete and it may have been the best meal I have ever eaten.  It was this locally owned Argentinian meat restaurant.  You are served family style with an organically grown hydroponic salad to start, bread, the meat dish and mashed potatoes.  You wash it all down with homemade red wine.  It was one of the most amazing meals I've ever had in my life and only hope we go back there before I leave in June.

If you are unfamiliar with hydroponically grown veggies and herbs here is a website to help explain it-
What are Hydroplonic Grown Veggies?

Also a picture of veggies and herbs being grown hydroponically-

The reason I am sharing this information is because it was very interesting to me the way that they grew these beautiful vegetables.  The salad that accompanied our meal had the brightest coloring I had ever seen.  I was told it was due to the way the things were grown.  I wish I had taken a picture of my salad and actually thought about it once I had eaten it all.  :)

Hope you have enjoyed my once again long post about a trip taken here in Panama.  More to come on other trips.  Miss everyone so much and hope everyone had a great weekend!  Ciao!