Saturday, May 27, 2017

Summer of 2011

I am like a puppy dog.  An eager to please, needs attention and praise puppy dog.  There is nothing that makes me happier in this world than a good, deserved "pat on the head."  It's what I live for.

(insert a whole paragraph here about the 5 love languages and how words of affirmation are what makes my world go round)

Although I came from a very very supportive, loving, wonderful family.... words of affirmation and praise were not high on our list of things to do.  
In steps the summer of 2011.  The summer I went to live in Glendora, California in a "words of affirmation" paradise.  Truly when I think of my experience of living at the Lindstrom home in the summer of 2011 that is what I think of - paradise.

The winter of 2010-2011 had been a period of rough transition and challenges.  All of which probably made the summer of 2011 even more glorious.  You have to experience the bitter to value the sweet, right?  The gloriouness of why the summer of 2011 was so wonderful all started with Lars.  Lars and I got to be best friends.  He was just coming out of an awful rough period filled with divorce and a Rexburg winter.  (Rexburg winters are enough to make the strongest of persons crumble) Lars had just graduated and was waiting to start grad school in the fall. I was finished with my masters and my 6th year of teaching.  We both had nothing to do all summer besides visit Disneyland, rock the Glendale singles ward, bike to the beach, and most important, search for the meaning of life as we healed our souls.

We had a full house that summer.  Well, let's be honest, with Nils and Raine's fun, inviting way of life, almost always their house is a full house.  But that summer was even more so.  Lars' sister Brita and her two girls were also living at the Lindstrom home because her husband was deployed to Iraq.  If there was one quality of Brita's I wish I had. it is her ability to laugh so easily.  It is such a wonderful quality.  It makes everything more wonderful and made me feel so funny!  With the love and support from Raine, Nils, Lars, and Brita I felt like a total rock star!  Like I said, we did lots of really fun things all summer but that isn't what made the summer of 2011 so wonderful.  The most impressionable moments of that summer were sitting in the house or out in the backyard after a delicious meal, just enjoying each other.

I really believe this summer changed me.  It changed my perspective on life, my purpose and drive, but most important it changed my view of myself.  The summer of 2011 in that "words of affirmation" paradise I grew to love myself.  I want to remember and look back at this major turning point in my life.  The place where things changed because oh how glad I am that they did.

"Those who feel lovable, who love, and who experience belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging." - Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Boat

There are two types of people in this world.  Boat people and not boat people.  I could even make this genres larger by calling it "Toys" people and not "Toys" people.  I grew up in a family of a not "toys" family.  Why?  Because "Toys" are work.  And not to say my family is lazy by any means.... but some could characterize us as sloths....

Toys are work, they are stress, ESPECIALLY for people like my family that aren't mechanically oriented.  You want us to talk art, philosophy, history, science, and sports we are champions.  I guarantee it would be darn near impossible to find a family that could beat us in Trivial Pursuit.  But ask us to fix any mechanical thing..... we are dead.  Seriously dead.

I married the king of the Toy world.  And as much as my family doesn't understand him and that concept, he is equally confused by us.

But we, my whole family, are so grateful he is around.  And that he is so different from us.

So a few months ago my dear second cousin, can we just call her my cousin?  My dear cousin Laura came over for dinner.  She told us how excited she is that she bought half of her dad's boat.  She is a huge "toy" person too.  So she was super pumped to have a boat and get to start boating in Utah.  Of course Jason was thrilled about the idea of us finally really knowing a "Toy" person.  (because obviously I am not one, and don't even know any)

Well comes to find out the engine of this boat seized on it's last trip to Lake Powell.  The entire engine needed to be replaced.  This would take a ridiculous amount of hours and thousands of dollars if a boat mechanic did the work.  In steps Jason.

I mean hey, it's not like Jason doesn't have a million more pressing engagements....

But Jason volunteered.

Yes, Jason bought a used Chevy pickup truck engine in Cleveland off Ebay, had it shipped to our house, used a deer lever thing to hoist the old engine out of the boat in our garage, and completely replaced an entire engine in a ski boat.

Yes, this took almost the entire winter.

Yes, sometimes I was frustrated when Brad and I hadn't seen Jason all day and then he spent all night working on the boat.

But here is the most insane thing.  HE GOT IT TO WORK!

Jason single handedly did it all.  Well of course with the help of Youtube and a few calls to my long lost great uncle that lives in the middle of the desert Nevada.

He did it.

We thought Brad would love it!  The excitement of something new, all the new toys!

So one pretty cold and VERY windy Saturday we decided to give the boat a try.  Of course we had no intentions of actually getting into the water, Jason was excited to see if the boat worked!

Of course Jason is going to make me a "toy" person whether I want to or not.... I am learning to back up trailers... (insert eye roll emoji here.)

Something we probably didn't take into account well enough is.... Brad hates any type of restriction whatsoever.  We hoped that the excitement of the boat and the water and the new scenery would distract him from the huge awful life jacket.....  no such luck.

It was full on tears almost the entire ride.  Even through the binkie.

By the end he calmed down a little.... well when the motor was turned off.

I'll tell you what, Timp rocks my world every time.  I love that mountain.

We were hoping that Brad's hate for his lifejacket was drastically increased because of his coat and the cold water hitting him in the face through the wind.  So we had high hopes the next time we took the boat out.  It was a beautiful warm evening after school.  We brought Jason's study buddy friend with us so they could wake board.

But as soon as the boat started Brad lost it.  Cried the entire time the motor was on.... so I wrangled the flag and a screaming toddler for 90 minutes..... sounds like a blast right? (You wanna come with us next time? ;)

But they did has a blast and every time I am surprised when I see Jason wakeboard.  It's like he's a fish that finally got back in the water.  Is that how the saying goes?

Oddly enough the only time Brad wouldn't cry was when Jason held him while he drove the boat. 

But it was a beautiful night, and there is just something about a beautiful sunny day on the water with the smell of boat exhausted that makes me excited about summer... maybe one of these days I'll confess to Jason that I have never even attempted to wakeboard before.  Never.  Seriously.  Remember, we aren't "toy" people.  So when I finally did go out on boats with people, I didn't want to waste their time and my humiliation to try and learn.  So maybe this summer will be the time.  But who knows, maybe not.  Maybe I'll just stay content being the flag girl. 

But here we go........ the start of our journey as boat people.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Mighty Macaron.

I blame it all on Erica.  I had never even dreamed of the idea of making a French Macaron.  In my known recollection I have only ever even eaten one, and I don't know if it counts because it was in the shape of my favorite character....

And to be honest.... sometimes I am mad at the French.  I have had more French people yell at me or be rude to me than any other nationality combined.  I don't understand why they can be so rude.  I even jokingly said to someone the other day, if I travel to France and someone is rude to me I want to yell, "REMEMBER Normandy?!?! Remember how without us you would all be speaking German?" BUT on that note, I have to stop and tell a story.  A super cool story!!!! A super duper cool story!!!! My mom and dad just got back from France and they actually went to Normandy.  There was a lady who was in her teens when the war ended.  She saw the huge sacrifice made by the Allies to save France.  Sp every time an international tour group comes walking by her house to go see the historic battle sites of D-Day she opens her window and does this:
She waves her American, Canadian, and British flags saying repeatly, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you."

That is enough to bring me to tears.  

Anyway, Back to French Macarons. (I will come back to my parents trip in a moment.)

So my dear Erica from reading my post about international treats or about Gelato discovered my love of lavender.  I absolutely love lavender.  And Erica has something worth it's weight in gold, specially crafted lavender buds from a lavender farm in Teton, Idaho.  

So Erica decided we should try out this lavender on French Macarons.  (how she made the jump from delicious lavender to THE most difficult cookie on the planet, I have no idea, but man I am glad she did!)

You see, when we started trying to make macarons, we didn't understand the CHALLENGE that it was.  I truly had no idea.  I thought I'd measure out the ingredients, follow some directions, and we'd get a macaron.  ha. ha. ha.  Also since neither Erica or I had really eaten a macaron we had no idea what they were even SUPPOSED to be like. 

So this post is going to be a journal entry of the trial and errors associated with attempting to perfect The Mighty Macaron.

What a French Macaron is SUPPOSED to look like.
So the recipe we used:
1 C almond flour
2 C Powdered sugar
Sifted together

3 room temperature egg whites
1/4 c sugar
1/4 t Cream of Tarter
dash of salt
 Whip to stiff peaks

Fold ingredients together 

Pipe on parchment paper

Let sit for 30-60 minutes

Bake for 20 minutes on 300

*I have attempted this recipe so many times that I have it memorized.  

We learned very quickly one of the most challenging parts of the Mighty Macaron.  The feet.  (The bottom part of the cookie.)  A guess a lot of people have the problem of the feet not rising at all.  My constant problem that I STILL haven't perfected is my feet spread.  Here is our first disastrous, but oh so delicious, batch.

So our first batch.................... well let's just say it didn't turn out so well.  We learned very quickly the necessity of using a scale to measure out the powdered sugar and almond flour.

120 g almond flour
200 g powdered sugar

Our next attempt was much better.  But still a little rough.

Here's the dough piped on the tray drying.
Here's anxiously watching them bake
Still those darn feet spread too much!
But the finally product wasn't too shabby!
I am happy to report that these first macarons we made with a delicious lavender frosting were hands down the best homemade dessert of my life.  Granted I love lavender.  They were also different from any other cookie or dessert I had ever had, especially homemade dessert that they rocked my world!

They were so delicious that the moment I got home from visiting Erica in Colorado I drove straight to Costco and purchased a 10 pound bag of Almond Flour and got to work. 

Of course reporting back to Erica my progress.

Not bad.

But STILL the stupid feet of the cookie kept spreading.  So I read everything I could online about how to fix the problem.  I purchased a silicon mat, I double panned my cookie sheet, and in this attempt, I even tried not folding the ingredients as much...  But that was a bad idea.  They turned out pretty bad.
BUT THE best thing happened from this attempted!  I discovered the MOST delicious frosting of all time!  I have no idea why in the world I had never had it/made it!  Raspberry butter cream frosting!  IT IS AMAZING! And relatively easy, 
1/4 c room temp butter
3/4 C powdered sugar
2 T seedless raspberry juice (push 1/2 c raspberries through a sieve)

The frosting was so delicious and I was so disgusted by my macarons that as soon as I finished I started again, with a much better result.

My next attempt (while still trying to perfect the cookie, which I haven't been able to do) I wanted to make a not as sweet lavender frosting.  I HATE how sweet buttercream frostings are!  But I couldn't figure out how to thicken a frosting without sugar.... UNTIL I found a recipe from my dear ol' friend Pioneer Woman!
She calls the frosting "The Best Frosting I Ever Had"
It uses flour to thicken the frosting!  AMAZING.  SO I made lavender frosting using that recipe and it was AWESOME!  I'll never made a regular buttercream frosting again!

I've also attempted strawberry and lemon macarons.

But I figured it was high time for me to actually eat a professionally made macaron.  It was rose flavored one.  It may have been the fact it was at an Indian bakery that smelled of saffron or maybe it was just a poor macaron.... but it was definitely nothing to write home about. 

BUT THEN I thought of the most wonderful thing!  My parents were going to France!  And they had a direct flight straight from Paris to Salt Lake where I would be picking them up at the airport.  So I tried to explain to my mom my new found passion for French Macarons.  I explained I needed so badly to taste a true Parisian macaron.  Long story short, she tried her hardest to get me some at the airport right before they boarded but it didn't work out.  I must admit I was embarrassingly devastated but she did take some pictures of them for me.  So for now I will have to settle with looking at these pictures of the most beautiful cookie on the planet, the Mighty Macaron.

Maybe I'll just have to go to Paris? ;)


We finally successfully made a Macaron without the feet spreading!!!!!

We used a completely different recipe.  A recipe that makes an Italian meragine.  So a whole 'nother step... ugh.  But we did it!  And I figure I should put the recipe here so I can have it for safe keeping in case I ever decide I want to make a successful macaron again!

One important note, it has more sugar.  I hate that.   If it wasn't such a crazy science experiment I would consider trying to cut the sugar in half.  Anyway

212 grams Almond Flour
212 grams Powdered Sugar

About 5 egg whites seperated into
82 grams
90 grams

236 grams granulated sugar + a pinch for the whipped egg whites
158 grams water

Mix the sifted Almond flour and powdered sugar with 82 grams egg whites.  Set aside
Beat 90 grams egg whites + pinch of sugar to make a soft peak.

Boil water and granulated sugar to 248* (super hot, like straight syrup)

Add syrup to fluffy egg whites with the beaters going and then whip egg whites mixture for 5 minutes until it is cooled.

Fold into flour mixture until ribbon like batter.

Pip onto parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400* and then when you put the cookies into the oven reduce the temperature to 325*.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are oh so slightly tinted golden.

Fill with any delightful filling.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stupid Mr. Holland's Opus.

This end of the year is a little bit different than most.  I work in a department with 4 other teachers.  The year I started teaching 9 years ago was the last time that department changed.  9 years in an incredibly long time for a department to stay exactly the same in the teaching world.  But this year it's all changing.

2 teachers are retiring after 37 and 40 years.

40 years in the same building in the exact same classroom. And for at least 30 years, the exact same subjects.

Their entire professional careers are in that room teaching that exact same thing to the exact same age of kids.

And more than anything I have grown to have the upmost respect and love for these two men.  They are the salt of the earth good.  When there is so many shade of grey, they are clear cut black and white.  They are leaders in the church.  They have children and grandchildren.  One even adopted a foster child.  I mean these are good guys.

As the end of the year approaches I don't know if they feel it, but seriously.... I am depressed about how anti-climatic their retirement is.  Don't get me wrong,  myself and others have tried to make it grand.  We had a department dinner one evening, we decided a whole spread in the yearbook for them, and another teacher who grew up in our community reached out on Facebook to get former students to tell stories about these men.  But sadly, only 6 people responded to the request on Facebook.

I am hoping they don't feel disappointed, like their years of dedication and hard work were meaningless.  But it is making me wonder!  On Friday they will lock up their doors, turn in their keys and walk away from 40 years of their life for what?

Just like every other stupid inspirational Education movie, Mr. Holland's Opus has ruined me and every teacher out there.  Why?  Because whether a teacher wants to admit it or not, this is our dream.  We want to think that all the work, all of the patience, all of the time spent working with these smelly, hormonal, lazy punks is worth it.  We want to believe the world is a better place because we were in their lives.  We want to believe that we made their lives and futures better.  Whether a teacher will admit it or not, we all want a Mr. Holland's Opus.  We want to walk into an auditorium full of the thousands of students we taught and walk down the aisles hearing a big warm heartfelt thank you.

I just watched the clip and now I am bawling like a baby.  It is 5:30 in the morning and I am  sobbing.  It's exactly what every teacher wants to feel.  It shows it perfectly.

And I am afraid that both of these men who deserve that kind of auditoriam sized thank you are not going to get it.  I am afraid they are going to just walk around of their classroom one last time and never know the difference they made.

Great, there are exactly 2.5 days left of school and I have got to figure out a way to change it.  I better get to work.  Wish me luck!

I am happy to report I got my partner co-worker an auditoriom filled standing ovation. 
And I bawled like a baby.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Just some more thoughts on the idea of Mother.

Well another Mother's Day has come and gone.  And I have been too preoccupied with surgeries, guests, and traveling to think much about it.  But I figure I want to write down my most recent thoughts about the idea of Mother's Day.

Typically I am not in favor of changing something or altering things in the favor of the minority.  But Mother's Day is a tricky weird sensitive day for SO many.  So many that I am not even going to begin to list all the scenarios that could create tricky weird or sensitive feelings for people.

So I for one have concluded I wish the day did not exist.

That being said, I do want to write about my feelings of being a mother.  Because I have been in all sorts of camps in my short 34 years.  I have been in the single camp. (probably the most challenging and trying for me personally.)  It is during these years that I truly feel I learned about faith, patience, loneliness, and absolute heart ache in a way that I know I needed.  I have been in the infertility camp.  These years of course lead to questioning, comparison, and heart ache in a new and different way than being single.  And now I am in the working mom camp filled with a different kind of heart ache, worry, and a festering jealousy that is difficult to describe.  But there are many other camps.  Those like I previously stated I will not even try to list.

Motherhood is a very tricky thing.  In all directions, from those who have too much of it, those who didn't have enough of it, and those who don't get to actively be it.  It is all tricky.  And I think that is on purpose.  I truly believe I was created to fulfuill this role.  This insanely large impossible to be perfect role. Because it is so important, so vital to the plan and creation that it makes it super duper sensitive in all directions.

It's been an interesting, difficult week.  Because of my surgery I haven't been able to pick up Brad.  Who knew how insanely difficult that would be!  It has been much more emotional that I anticipated.  I've had to try to rely on others which goes against my strongest nature and brought out an ugly side of me.  I am super sensitive and on edge about it and him.  Finally because I am not healing properly Jason and I decided it would be best for Brad to go to Christine's house. (His sitter who he LOVES dearly.)  So Thursday and Friday I sat at my house with nothing to do.  It was a drastic change from what my life has been like for the last 16 months.  It is the first time in 16 months that I have had a block of 8 hours with no pressing engagements.

As a mom, the thought of uninterrupted peaceful block of time is a dream.  Sadly, of course the number 1 thing I'd like to do with my free time is go running or bust out my road bike or to the gym and I couldn't do any of those.  So I watched Netflix and went shopping. Or I should say I tried to go shopping but when I heard a baby cry my heart ached so badly I left and went home.  And once again I realized how much being a mom has changed me.

My dad always says, "Once you have a kid, kiss the good nights of sleep goodbye.  I haven't slept a whole night through in 43 years."  Luckily, although I thought this might actually never happen, Brad sleeps through the night 99.9% of the time.  So although what my dad said isn't completely accurate, there are definitely things that you kiss goodbye when you become a mother.

There are all sorts of clickbate articles of the 10 things that no one tells you before having a kid.  Some are probably true shocking while others of course are obvious.  But there has been one thing that has shocked me that has changed.  I feel like my body *minus my bladder* is exactly the same or better than before I had a baby.  The pregnancy brain luckily went away. (That was weird) Or maybe  I am just stupider now than before.  (Yes I said stupider on purpose, it was supposed to be funny)  The biggest change that has happened is an overwhelming love, concern, and absolute heart wrenching attachment to not just Brad but ALL children.  It is absolute AWFUL.  Yes we were at a festival the other day and there was a 2-3 year old girl crying, "Where is my mommy and daddy?"  Instantly I was a wreck.  I saw woman grabbed the girl and it looked like the girl was swatting away the woman.  I was afraid she was getting kidnapped.  I followed the woman and the girl just to make sure that within a few moments the tantrum was over and the girl was fine with this woman.  BUT WHAT IN THE WORLD made this my business??!?! For some reason, since having a baby, every cry tugs at my heart, any tragic story about children is almost unbearable.  I cannot even read the news anymore!  It destroys me.

Really, if there is one thing that has changed the most it is that.  This overwhelming emotional attachment to all babies.  It is awful.  I had never noticed before how many books, movies, storylines, news articles are about horrible things happening to babies.  Every single one of them absolutely destroy me.  (Real fast, it's not like I was some kind of robotic monster before having a baby.  I was still sad when things happened to kids but it didn't destroy me.)

So now, 2 Mother's Days into being an actual Mom, I still saying being lucky enough to be Brad's parent with Jason has been the most wonderful blessing of my life. There is nothing that even compares to the joy and happiness he has brought us.  And I guess I feel about Mother's Day the same way I feel about Valentine's Day.  I am lucky enough to feel the love and appreciation of a lover and a baby every single day of the year, why do I need a specific day to celebrate?

But hey, I always love an occasion to take another picture!

Oh the difference of a year.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Oh Junior High.

It hit me so quickly.  I was shocked and speechless and pathetically embarrassed.  Then of course I got defensive and wanted to explain.  I felt the need to explain.  I wanted them to understand why I had made such a decision.  I wanted them to know I am still cool.  I wanted them to... accept me.

What happened you ask?

All year my students have begged to meet Brad.  So I had his temporary babysitter drop him off to my school at the end of a school day.  Brad came in as cute and shy as could be.  And then a student whispered,  "AND1?s"  Then someone else, "Do you see his shoes, he's wearing AND1s!"

At first I was confused.  So confused.  And then it came.  The embarrassment.  The humiliation.  The shame.  Brad was wearing Walmart brand shoes.

For 2 seconds I remembered what it was like to be a 15 insecure kid all over again. The flood of emotions of what it was like to be a junior high kid came crushing down on me.

(Literally 2 seconds and I was over it.  But I want to focus on those 2 seconds)

I just finished a book I highly recommend, "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown.  She is a huge TED talk celebrity.  This book is about daring to be vulnerable.  And it's awesome.  One thing that she talked about refreshed an idea that I strongly believe.  The idea that so much of our perception of ourselves comes from our experience in junior high years.

I think some people are able to get over it.  Change their perception of themselves.  But really almost everyone I know for better or for worse is built around a core of their junior high self.

And what a scary idea that is.

Why was I so humiliated when my students made fun of Brad's Walmart shoes?  Because in junior high my goal was to always stay under the radar.  I knew I couldn't compete with the "rich" kids so my goal was just to never be noticed.  Never have anything stand out, be different, be "weird" enough for anyone to make fun of.  And honestly,  I feel like I accomplished my goal very well.  I made it out of junior high pretty unscathed.  I had a great group of nerdy friends.  I honestly don't remember being bullied or teased at all.  Sure, I was so jealous of all the girls that had boyfriends.  Boys never gave me any type of attention which caused a lot of insecurities but for the most part I made it out great. And still there is a spot deep down that was embarrassed when my students made fun of Brad's shoes.

Why do I bring this topic up?

First, it's crazy the people I know that came out of junior high pretty scarred.  The issues that people deal with for the rest of their life because of their experiences in junior high.  Some examples: a dear sweet friend of mine (I told her this in person the other day so I feel it's okay to write about it on the blog?) she is beautiful, funny, and so freaking cool but she openly talks about being mousy, nerdy, and uncool.  Like this girl could have been a model, beautiful but she doesn't see it at all.   When talking to her about it, she moved to a different state in junior high.  She was shy, had few friends, and the whole experiences has shaped the rest of her life.  Or another example is a guy I know who was picked on unmercilessly.  The worst experience that I think his brother told me, not him, was being tied up with duck tape and thrown in the girls bathroom of the shop building.  He wasn't found for hours.  Although the experience and junior high in general greatly affected him, luckily he uses that experience to be kind to people.

I think an introspective look at who we think we are can be closely tied to what we thought we were in junior high.

Back to Brad and his shoes.  Why does he have Walmart shoes?  Because A. we are poor. B. It's super challenging to find shoes in Brad's size with hard rubber soles. C. the shoes are CUTE gosh darn it.  (Sorry I needed to justify my actions)

But luckily this story actually has a really sweet ending.  Every year I make connections with particular students.  It is hands down my favorite part of teaching.  I wish I could say I make connections with all my students.  But dude that is impossible with 294 students. (yes, I did just add up all the students I taught this year. 294.  That is insane.)  Anyway.  Those few real connections I make each year are what keeps me going.  And this year was no different.  One student in particular that I was worried about.  He is a good kid from a good family but the sports he plays has some real rascals this year.  So I kept a close eye on him and even orchestrated him getting into a different friend group.  (long story and my proudest moment of this school year)

Anyway, he was in that class, the class that made fun of Brad's shoes.  And the next day before school he came in with these:
and said, "Mrs. B, I think these are more Brad's style."  There are good good kids in junior high.  And especially surround by the weight of insecurity and hormones, the good deeds are all the more wonderful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

UPDATE: I had surgery.

Wonderful news.

On Monday I had endometriosis surgery.  And just like I suspected in this post, the HSG procedure I had done was wrong.  Dr. "Rudy" saved the day.  My fallopian tubes are not blocked.  He found a significant amount of endometriosis tissue on my liver.  (So he burnt it off) and found a lot of fluid around my ovaries.  I don't know exactly what that means.  But hopefully this procedure will make me fertile and no IVF will be necessary!

So 4 incisions later we are very hopeful.

Only bad news?  Doctor's orders are: I can't pick up Brad for 2 weeks!  So Brad and I are currently hanging out at my parent's house in Cedar.  But we'll see how long this lasts.  My dad's new nickname for Brad is the Tasmanian Devil.  And Brad has definitely earned his name!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Waunderlust dreams

So if you haven't gathered by now, I spend all day every day talking about the cool places from around the world.  Every day in each class 1 student presents on a different country from around the world.  For the assignment they are travel agents trying to convince us to visit that country.

It's amazing how beautiful this world is.  How many amazing things there are to see and experience. Maybe it's because I'm driving my parents to the airport to go to Paris for a river cruise in a few hours or I've been talking to my dear friend Brittney who is traveling to Iceland AND Southeast Asian Islands soon! but I am getting a bad case of
I am not a huge dreamer.  But around this time every year, I start getting an itchin' to travel. So rather than travel I figured I can dream about traveling.  Look at pictures of places rather than actually going to places.  I even sat and watched an episode of Rick Steves with my mom last night. 
  I thought I'd create a few Top 10 lists.  Because just one would be nearly impossible!  Today I thought we'd start with:

Top Ten Man Made Wonders I'd Love to See

But first I want to separate them into 2 groups.  The places I know I'll probably never go and the places I really hope to go.

These are places because of effort to get there and risk factors I'll probably never see:

Taj Muhal


Christ Statue


Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque -

The rest I do hope to go to someday.

St. Basil's Cathedral

Sydney Opera House

Palace at Versailles
Winter Palace
Historic District of Charleston, South Carolina

Here are some places that are usually on bucket lists of man made wonders that I don't really care to see: (Of course if I was offered a free trip or people I love wanted to go, I'd go pretty much anywhere)
Great Wall of China
Machu Picchu
Great Pyramids of Giza
Panama Canal
Mayan Pyramids
Mount Rushmore

Top Ten Man Made Wonders I've Seen:

Eiffel Tower

Neuschwanstein - Sleeping Beauty's Castle

St. Peter's Basilica

Golden Gate Bridge

Statue of Liberty

Pasadena City Hall

Sleeping Beauty's Castle

The Duomo (The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore)

San Diego Temple

Top Ten Most Memorable Art
David - Michelangelo

Pieta - Vatican

School of Athens - Raphael

Rembrandt's Self Portrait  at Norton Simone

National Gallery of Art in Washington DC - Monet

The Getty Museum alone is an amazing piece of art.
But also Van Gogh's Lillies
And Monet's so famous Haystacks. 
But really it's the museum.  This view....

The Night Watch by Rembrandt at Rijksmusem

Venus de Milo -The Louvre

MET - Washington Crossing the Delaware
And of course... no introduction needed.

Chicago Art Institute - Renoir

Uffizi Gallery  -  The Birth of Venus.  Maybe one of, if not my favorite story about a painting.
Ok, ok.  I'll admit it.  I didn't actual see this painting. But I ran passed the museum every day for a month and saw huge pictures of this painting outside the museum.  So that counts doesn't it?
The crazy thing is, when it comes to art... I've pretty much been to every world famous Western art museum except one:

The National Gallery - London

Man Made Groomed Gardens I'd love to See
Tulip Fields in Holland
Autumn leaves in New England
Cherry Blossoms in DC
Bluebell Fields in Texas
Flower fields in Carlsbad

Favorite Man Made Groomed Gardens

Huntington Library

Butchart Gardens, Canada

Tulip Festivals at Dallas Botanical Gardens and Temple Square

Balboa Park, San Diego

Top Ten Natural Wonders

Top 5 I've Seen
Havasupai Falls, Arizona

Grand Teton Mountains, Wyoming

Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland

California Coastline. I love it all.
Big Sur, La Jolla Cove, Corona Del Mar, Malibu

Zion Canyon

Yosemite Valley

Top 5 I Want to See
Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

Moraine Lake, Canada

Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord,  Norway.

Maldives or Seychelles or Bora Bora (I know a total insult to each respectively but they can be clumped into the same desktop picture of perfect turquoise water, white sands, water bungalow tropical paradises.)

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

And last but not least.... Not world famous by any means.  But 3 of my favorite places on earth.

Red Cliffs, Lower Mesa Falls, and Provo Canyon