Monday, February 20, 2017

North American Update #3 - sorry it has been a while!

February 20, 2017

Hi there folks....sorry it has taken me so long to get this update out, but i am amazed at how fast time flies....i turn around and months have passed....it has been busy around here.....from working in elementary schools and re-working curriculum for my job, to driving my folks to florida for their time away, to going to st louis to hang with friends to celebrate new years, to the holiday season, which was fun & crazy all rolled into one, to the wild politics here (which i will not discuss, as it just makes people on all sides of the issues mad), to the search for my next teaching position (i really didn't want to write to folks until i knew what i was doing for the next academic year).....so it has just been a fast moving roller coaster here in PA.....i can't believe it is coming to the end of february.....so here i am, with my very late update of what has been happening....

so it is official.....i attended a job fair in boston a few weeks back and have now secured a new position starting mid-july.....i will be headed to another international school...and this time it will be in panama....i will be working in the middle school science department of the international school of panama.....much closer to the states than my last two posts....so of course the invitation to come visit is now extended.....not until after august of this year....but you will find me in panama for the next two academic years, at least.....i am very excited to get back into a middle school classroom and working internationally....i miss the international school community......although, i will miss quite a lot of people and things from the states, i really do feel that i fit in better in an international setting...and i consider this your invitation to come visit me abroad....

but this update is not about an international location.....this is about the states and my visits to a few different ones than PA, as well as my time here in PA....the holidays were wonderful and my job has been going well....so onto the shots that make up my life at the moment :)  feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, comments or concerns as always....here come the pictures....many of them include people, which i hope if these folks are reading this blog, they are ok with having their pictures in it!!!!!


this first shot is from an african fabric exhibit i went to at the philly museum of art (you know the steps from the rocky movies)....i loved going to this exhibit as it reminded me just how colorful ghana & west africa, truly is through its fabric and in turn the folks wearing the fabric....i really liked this indigo fabric of the continent itself and all of the different patterns....it made me smile thinking of ghana!


as we were leaving the museum, it was a full moon and i just had to have this shot....this is a piece of art - a metal tree that has fallen over, located very close to the art museum itself....cool picture in my opinion....
 

another big happening over the past few months was my dad's 75th birthday....he was showered with love and attention and had three parties, two of which were surprises.....my mom is great at stuff like this....this shot above is of the birthday boy at his celebratory brunch with the family....lookin' good :)


i live very close to longwood gardens here outside of philly, and their christmas display is always  a good thing to go see over the holiday season....i went twice this past holiday season and of course was not disappointed....the indoor trees and plants are always so festive...like the one you see above....


they also have a wonderful outside exhibit....i am always amazed with how many lights they can get onto one tree...and i really loved the tree above, as they did not only the branches and trunk above, but did a representation on the ground of the roots....it was amazing!!!!


longwood also is know for it's fountain displays....but they are being refurbished at the moment....but this one was very colorful and festive and was the way we rounded out our visit to these beautiful gardens....they had great holiday music playing as well :)
 

one of the things i love about living in the states near a big city is all of the shows i have the opportunity to see....and this past fall i got to see one of my favorite scientists in person....neil degrasse tyson....he is an amazing astrophysicist, who has the capability to explain science to anyone and everyone, in a way that is understandable....if you have never seen him speak....go on you tube and watch him....i especially love when he talks about death by a black hole....don't worry, you have nothing to fear about this topic, as we are nowhere near a black hole.....
 

also this past fall i got to see one of my favorite musicians....amy ray of the indigo girls....she was playing with a different band and was promoting her new album....she has definitely gotten less "mad" in her solo stuff and i had a great time seeing her in such an intimate venue.....one more thing about the states i love....how many different venues there are for live performances....from coffee houses to vintage theaters to stadiums and concert halls....so glad to have the opportunity to go and see live art!!!! love it!!!!
 

another performance we saw was the philly pops to celebrate the holiday season....the boys choir was there, as was a choir from a local church, in nigerian garb....all members of the performance were great and it put us in the holiday spirit!


i do have to say i am enjoying living in an area that does get cold and have been excited by snow and ice....which i know a lot of people do not like....but for me, i have missed this, and know i will not have snow next year.....rain, lots of rain, but no snow.....this is a wreath we had outside and i loved what it looked like after an ice storm we had.....
 

of course i had to include a shot from work.....this is my co-teacher solar sarah and one of the 4th graders we were working with....i love that the student included her glasses on her matter monster....i really do enjoy what i do....


over the new year holiday i headed to st louis to see my friends owen & katy....of course we had to hit the annheuser-busch brewery.....which was a bunch of fun...it was all dressed up for the holiday season and we did a fun tour, where we saw the clydesdale horses and got to watch a live, outdoor hockey game while enjoying a cold brew.....and i learned that annheuser-busch owns a lot more breweries than i ever imagined, including stella, leffe, shock top and elysian from seattle.....wild what you learn....


while in st louis we went to a museum that was showing an exhibit about route 66 & toys from the 60's, 70's and 80's.....how excited was i to see mousetrap?!?!?! i loved this game soooo much...so of course i had to get a picture of this awesome game!!!!
 

we had a mini reunion of sorts while i was there....go team ghana....so this is katy, eric, myself and owen.....it was a fun evening catching up with what is happening in ghana and in those of our lives who are no longer in ghana....it was a blast :)
 

of course i had to stop by and see the arch of st louis....unfortunately the ride that goes up the arch was not working, but we did get to see a video about how it was built and what an amazing feat this was for the this monument that was finished in 1965....did you know it is the tallest arch in the world and that it is as tall, as it is wide - 630 feet.....some amazing engineering here....plus, it looks like a type of slide here.....


we also went to the city museum in st louis.....it was INCREDIBLE!!!!! it is a museum that is like a giant playhouse....it is perfect for all people, adults & children, and consists of re-purposed architectural & industrial objects...including a school bus, two planes and metal that his been reformed as a ten foot slide.....soooooooooooo cool!!!! the picture above is of one of the art installments in the museum.....can you find me in the picture?????  i LOVED this place and if you are headed to st louis any time soon, you REALLY need to check this place out! 


my last shot from st louis is of my friends katy & owen...it was terrific to see them and catch up and spend new year's together.....i love it when friendships last over miles of space and time, and when you see those friends you pick up just where you left off :)


which is also very true of this picture....as these are my friends andrea and bruno from croatia, who now live in the states....and when i headed up to boston i got to hang with them and meet their lovely daughters.....we had a short, but very sweet reunion in boston when i was up there for the job fair....some fun was had :)
 

the job fair in boston was a bunch of fun this time around because i actually knew a bunch of the recruiters from the schools....quite a few friends were their recruiting for their current schools....which meant i got to see them and didn't know that was going to happen....plus, every time i had an interview, i got to see warren towers of BU, where i lived for two years....it was wonderful to be back in boston and to come away with a new and exciting position for me in panama!!!!
 

i also got to go to a very cool science bar/restaurant on MIT's campus with some great friends from college.....and check out this menu!!!! it is called the miracle of science and the menu is a version of the periodic table.....LOVE!!!!!! 
 

the company i came with to this place was pretty spectacular as well...as i hadn't seen flo & jude together for quite some years....it was terrific to be hanging in boston together and catching up on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.....friends since freshman year.....yay!!!!!


the week after boston i was in NYC....where my current job, science explorers is expanding...i was there for under 24 hours....but in that time i got to see two important people from different times of my life...adriana from china days and samir from BU days....it was a ton of fun to meet up with them for a few hours :)


and of course while in NYC, you have to have some bagels......but, check these out....rainbow bagels, how cool is that!!!! this place had tasty bagels, but then again, the best bagels are always in nyc & nj...it has something to do with the water i think :) loved these bagels....
 

from nyc to florida, where i drove with my folks for their snowbird flight south....the pelicans where they are staying are incredible....this is a shot of a juvenile pelican who was hanging on the jetty, waiting for the fishermen & women to throw the scraps of the fish they caught....crazy birds....
 

and this is a shot of their view for the sunset....pretty perfect if you ask me :)
 

of course i needed to end with a beer in florida....from when i had to buy my dad dinner, as i lost our super bowl bet....wanted to see the patriots lose, but wow what a finish to a game.....first time in 14 years i got to watch the game live, see the commercials as they aired and watch the half-time show....another great thing about being in the states at the moment.....so cheers to american football :)

so there you have it....update from the states #3...thanks for being patient for my post and hopefully i will get another one out before i head south for the school year....hope all of you are well and enjoyed this post as much as i did....happy end of february and here's to the on-coming season of spring/fall, depending on where you are in the world....catch ya on the flip side....

peace out and have a fab day :)
dani
 
 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

North American Update #2

October 10, 2016

hey there folks....well i am still here in the states, and what a crazy place this is....from the politics, which i cannot even begin to talk about, to the racism issues, to the driving....whoa!! this place is crazy....but of course there are great things about being in the states....my family and friends here being the first thing, my work situation, my access to tons of things i haven't had access to while living 13 years outside of this country.....but it has been and continues to be an adjustment....but one of my favorite things about being back on the east coast of the states is to experience fall!!!!  i love this season and am so happy to see it again with my own eyes.....

so things here are like having new experiences for me, which i appreciate.....i am not sure if living here will be a permanent thing, but it is fun to revisit things and go places i have been to again and experience them all over, as well as try out new things....i have seen a few exhibits and been to some shows of music (many things i never get to see outside of the states), so there have been some excellent adventures happening in the three and a half months i have been here so far....

people have been asking about my job....so here it is in a nutshell.....i work for a company that specializes in hands-on science education for elementary kids....we offer clubs and summer camps in PA, NJ, DE, and MD....i have started helping with a multitude of things and have started to work for their foundation sector as well...where a company sponsors us to bring hands-on science to classrooms of disadvantaged/low performing schools around the nation....we currently hold classes in tulsa, oklahoma; paterson, nj and places in lancaster, pa....i have been to tulsa once already and will go back three more times throughout the school year....what an eye-opening adventure....i also have been working on updating and tweaking curriculum for both the clubs and camps, doing some research and development, performing assemblies for anywhere from 50-300 kids (think ms. wizard type stuff!), have helped teach instructors and am making videos of the lessons being offered through clubs this year....it's a lot of different stuff, which keeps me happy and involved.....just a plug, if anyone has a company or knows a company that would like to help out the foundation and bring hands-on science to an elementary school you know, or we know needs support, get in touch....no more plugs, i promise :)

there have been many other questions about how my life is and how my family is, because as many of you know, i have taken time off to spend time with my folks and other members of my family...it has been a learning experience of living with people again, as i have been on my own for quite a bit of time, and it has been good to be involved in my dad's health adventures with lung cancer....he is doing quite well with it, although i do think the chemo is having both positive and negative effects, as he uses it as a maintenance method once every three weeks....i am glad i am able to be here to support him and my mom with this issue...and feel i have definitely made the best choice to come to the states for a year or two or more....even though i do miss the adventure of being overseas.....it just means i need to keep having adventures here on this turf....

so below are some of my shots from these past three months here in the states, feel free to ask questions or make comments and i hope you enjoy this north american adventure i am experiencing!!!


one of the coolest things that happens due to living in the states and by a large city (philadelphia), is getting to see old friends who come here for a visit or work or something....so i was very lucky and got to visit with my friend joni from seattle....we determined we hadn't seen each other for more than 7 years or so.....i love this aspect of being here....and if anyone is philly bound (or somewhere in the vicinity), please let me know...i have a car and can meet up....yay!!!!



one of my favorite things about being in the states is all of the music i can see live....and festivals i can revisit....like the philadelphia folk festival...this was the 55th year for the festival and what a terrific time was had.....such terrific music from all over the world....
 

and what a great setting and use of the setting....i loved this use of japanese umbrellas in the forest section of the festival grounds.....plus, right by it was a performance celebrating the 30th anniversary of the album graceland by paul simon....they even had his original south african bassist playing for this and eric bazilion from the hooters playing....what a blast from my past...i watched them speak and even spoke with them afterwards....a real highlight!
 

i think this flag sums up my whole visit to the folk fest....it was a beautiful, although rather hot day, filled with amazing musicians and artists....lots of dancing and singing along was had....it was great!
 

one of the other performances i made it to this summer was jimmy buffett....it was terrific....hot again, but terrific....but as any parrot head knows, the parking lot prior to the show is half of the fun.....i went with some crazy folks and had an amazing time, and even had incredible seats due to connections - the 20th row!!!! this was our pre-show tent...including the game stump and lots food and drink for all....we went down on a bus that also brought the band the mango men, who played some great music in the parking lot....
 

my friend monique had never been to a buffett tailgate before, so we went on a wander through the parking lot...one of the many crazy things that stood out to me, was this group of folks who actually brought a "hot" tub with them, which they filled with ice and water because it was soooooooo hot that day....can you imagine bringing this thing to a show????? ahhhhhhhhh, parrot heads!
  

here i am pre-show on my way into the VIP pre-show adventure we had along with our amazing seats....it was incredible, but unfortunately we did not meet and greet with the band....but it was a place that gave us free, tasty snacks and drinks....always a plus....



this is the view from our seats....amazing!!!! i had such a blast and got to sing and dance along to all of the old stand-bys jimmy is known for....i used to go and see him every summer, so this was a huge treat to return and see him again....and he still has it!!!! which is an extra bonus.....fins to the left!!!!!


above is the set up i use for my assemblies for elementary schools for work to get them excited about science....this is our marketing strategy to get kids to sign up for after school clubs....it's lots of fun and filled with booms, fizzes, volunteers and of course ends with the production of fire!!!! woot!!!!
 

one of the other fun festivals i volunteered for was a wetlands festival down in delaware...i worked the fish imprinting station....the fish were rubber, but very life-like....the kids and adults all had fun with this one....above you can see a set of twin boys and their mom painting their fish....they were hilarious!
 

this cool young couple made some amazing two-toned fish...i loved their work! it was another very hot day, but fun was had and i even learned a lot about the wetlands of delaware.....



one of the amazing things about the area i live in is the sky....especially the sunsets.....they are usually stunning and i love seeing the different cloud formations and colors in the evening sky....above is one of my favorite shots of a sunset in the area
 

of course another fun thing this past summer was fourth of july fireworks....which really can't compare to china, but i love the hometown ones that we have....they were actually postponed due to weather on the fourth, but finally i got to see some fireworks in action....i do find it amazing what firework makers can have happen in the sky....love that chemistry!
 

the shots of kids above and below are from tulsa.....we go to two different elementary schools and do hands-on science with K-3rd graders....they come to us in a lab or we go into their classroom and work with them and their classroom teacher....above is a group of kids doing our baking soda and vinegar experiment in a glove....you should see their faces when the glove expands and feels cold....


this second shot is from the same school and the kids are doing the experiment where they mix two liquid plastics and create a form of styrofoam, that gives off heat....from the liquids we produce gas that makes this expand and then it hardens into a solid - making a matter monster....tons of fun....


tulsa was another city that had some amazing sunsets, including this one...this is the view from the hotel we stay in downtown....tulsa is a cute town, very clean, had great food, but i am amazed at how empty the streets become after 7pm....we walked to and from dinner both nights in town and saw very few folks and cars on the streets....there is also really cool art deco buildings in this city....


in front of the courthouse for tulsa we saw this penguin....why a penguin??? why tulsa??? i still have no idea, but it was super cute!


this is a shot from the second school, here you can see the kids totally getting into the making of the matter monsters...this is where they grab the cup by the bottom and pick it up, realizing that the cup is warm (an exothermic reaction!) and that it has turned into a solid....i love their faces here....


and this is a second group doing the glove experiment at the second school.....this one feels cold (an endothermic reaction!) and they are waving hello to me with the "hands" they created!


one other thing that i love about the summer and beginning of autumn is heading to the jersey shore.....we did this over a weekend in september and the the beach was lovely and had very few folks on it.....it was a wonderful couple of days!!!


another one of my favorite things here in the states, especially on the east coast, is fall...you will see more pictures for this, but look at the size of that pumpkin....jen & i had to have a picture with this puppy....simply HUGE!!!! and simply fall!


i also made it to a really cool exhibit with my mom at the amazing longwood gardens....they have this incredible exhibit currently there called nightscapes...it is at night and combines the plants/biomes already in the gardens with lights and music....it is very cool in that the plants, trees and shrubbery act as the screen for the magic of the lights and sounds.....hard to explain, but amazing to see....


and so the next two shots are from the beginning of fall here in pennsylvania.....i love this time!!! the changing of the colors are pretty stunning....from the yellows above and the oranges and reds below....my favorite season.....


i also love the blue of the skies in this time of the year....brings out the colors of the trees even more....all of the maples are turning orange and red these days....makes me just smile....folks here do realize what they have in this season and i am so glad to be experiencing it this year! wow!


of course i needed to end this blog post/update with my newest flight from a place called "world of beer"...what a mind-blowing place.....52 beers on tap that they change out pretty regularly....beers from all around the world, including many craft beers from the states with some pretty bizarre names....a great way to watch sunday football and try new beers.....go eagles!!!!

so there you have it....some of my adventures from the time i have been in the states thus far....it is an adjustment period filled with both highs and lows, but overall i am in the right place at the right time.....i will be back again with some more adventures in a month or so....i hope you enjoyed the pictures and stories here for this particular update.....

hope everyone is well and happy....enjoy the beginning of fall or spring depending on where you are and have fun with family and friends.....

peace out....and have a fab day :)
dani