Sunday morning-- Carly is still sound asleep and I am up (as always). I thought about going for a run but decided today would be a day of rest-- just going to relax until we go to the "Walking Street Market" this evening. However, I went for a run Friday morning which we really good-- it wasn't to long as I just ran around the neighborhood-- I didn't want to get lost. I ran past some Monks which made me nervous lol. You can not touch a Monk or they have to go through a cleansing process-- I knew I was far enough away but I just felt awkward or something. So I just "wai(ed)"-- put my hand together, bowed my head and smiled. Anyway's, they were going around the neighborhood to the people who had offerings to give and to pray to them... it was very interesting to see. The rest of the day was at university and then Khun ma came and picked us up. We dropped her nephew off at the bus station and then went to this huge stadium to have some snacks and walk around while we waited for Khun pa. We picked him up and then went for supper-- This was a very frustrating experience for me at the beginning. I forgot that when you order you do not order individually but you order to share... because of the language barrier I was lost and being tired was not helping. Finally, it was all sorted and I felt better-- but at the time I just wanted to burst into tears. I had no idea what was going on!!! Carly luckily reminded me that we all share. :) Basically we got home and went straight to bed. Exhausting day. Saturday we got up and had breakfast then our family drove us around Chiang Mai and we visited so many Buddhist temples!! Our family took us to visit them so we could learn how to pray like they do. It is actually similar to what many Christians pray about-- basically they pray for the same things; life, health, job, family etc. They said the word 'good luck' however, I don't really believe in good luck so much... But I found myself praying for similar things... I didn't really feel or experience a spiritual moment-- but it was quiet, beautiful and peaceful. I would pray in a temple again. We had a delicous lunch and this time is was not a stressful experiecne. Then Khun ma took us to a factory/ shop where they make hand-made umbrellas and hand held fans, got some ice cream and headed back home. Once we were home I napped for an hour and then got up (Carly stayed in bed)-- the family and I went to yoga which was amazing and very hot. A bit sore today but in a good way-- I didn't realize I could do some of the poses until she pushed me into them!! Haha Came home, showered and had dinner (home cooked and amazing). The rest of the evening was spent playing music and singing. Tanya plays the violin and I got my flute out. It was nice. Breakfast this morning and then going to Tanya's school to hear her play and later on today around 5pm the markets to shop. Write more soon. H
Thursday here... arrived in Chiang Mai Monday night and stayed in a cute little hostel place for the first three nights. We left and are now living with our home-stay families. They came to the university when we finished our classes and took us home. It is very, very different from our home in the Philippines... I knew it would be when I saw their vehicle. The father "Khun pa" works in the government in a high position in justice relating to the execution area and the mother "Khun ma" works at the university. We have our own room and bathroom, big queen bed and air con. Totally different then our home in the Philippines. They took us to get dinner near the mall-- there was a huge Asian food festival. She bought us all this food, we had to keep saying we were full... lol Then we came home and she cut up a whole papaya. Food is such an important part of culture.
This morning we had a Thai language class where we are learning Thai and then we had a Thai cooking class where we cooked this amazing meal and then got to eat it when we were done!! It was soo yummy!!! Our afternoon class got cancelled because of some mess up so we had a pretty chill afternoon. Getting ready for bed now.
Tuesday we had breakfast and a quick meeting then Arial, Crys and I went and got a foot scrub and pedicure (lets just say my feet really needed it after spending my summer in Australia, it felt amazing). Then we spend the day shopping... had a break to enjoy some red wine... went to this massive market which was totally hectic and got so much stuff-- did some Christmas shopping. There was literally everything you could think of!!!!! Had some dinner then got home and went to bed-- we were exhausted. Our travel day on Monday started at 4am and ended around midnight... Wednesday we had an orientation of the university and had our first lecture in the afternoon. Then we went back to the hotel to change and went to "Kan Tok" which is a dinner with entertainment-- different Thai dances and music. Now it is Thursday night and time for bed soon. We have wi-fi here at the house and a lap top to use so I will be able to blog often!! Yay. You can also check out the heading on my homepage called: worldviews to read about some different topics I've decided to write about. Write more soon. -Nikki xo
Not much to say other then we are now in Bangkok, Thailand waiting to board our next flight to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is where we will live with a Thai famiy and go to university. We spend a few days in Bangkok on the way back. Write more soon. xox -Nikki
Monday afternoon however, I wrote this Sunday afternoon in . In Manila the capital city of the Philippines. A big city. The last time I wrote it was Wednesday which was the last night at my home-stay. We had a big day which was a heap of fun. When we finally got dropped of at the university when the day was over Carly and I walked to our home stay... I got a beer. We had supper and she went to bed fairly early. However, I decided to go out and play a few games of pool with the family. It was such a great last night. Even though there was a language barrier between us all at times we found a way to communicate and they all felt like family. It kind of sucked, just as I was getting to know my family, get into a routine and start to feel rested it was over-- I do wish the stay here in the Philippines was longer. I love it here and I know I will come back. How can I not when I was shown such welcoming. I will miss the children, every day when I came home they were all there to welcome me. I will miss my home stay family and all the little moments that meant so much... washing dishes together, the beach, going for walks, laughs and meals together. I am not sure if it was life changing for me,maybe I don't realize it at the moment or something. However, if not life changing I know that I have grown in more ways then one. I have come to know more of who I am which I guess could be life changing in some way or another... All of life's moments can be life changing if you let them... if you allow it you ca grow and learn more about who you are and what you want in life.
Thursday morning I got up and went for a run with Alberto, my home-stays cousin. Lanie (my home-stay mum) came as well but went on her bike. We went to the airport and had breakfast with Lanie's younger brother Danny and then went home. We went to the mall to pick up a few things and then finished getting packed and such. We headed to the university at 1:30pm and had presentations and some discussions. The evening was a farewell and thank-you dinner with lots of local Philippine food. I tried baloute (I don't know how to spell it) anyways I will never eat it again... I don't even want to explain what it was because the thought of it makes me feel ill. Basically it is a hard boiled duck egg with the duck fetus still in it. So, when you crack it open you drink the juice which is ok... but then you can see this partially formed baby duck... with hair and everything... I didn't eat the whole thing, just a piece but that was it... I was sweating and gaging. Hahahaha I swallowed a little bit... egg and baby duck-- never again!!! I lost my appetite and it had taken a few days for me to forget the image of it. Everything else has been super delicious even the pig intestine!!!!
We took an over night bus to Manila which actually wasn't to bad... had the day to relax at the hotel which was nice and then had dinner here. Saturday was a pretty busy day visiting museums and going on a walking tour of the history of Manila. There is a lot of history here in the city and in the Philippines. If you have been reading my blogs you should really read about the history here... the walking tour had one of the top guides in the city and lets just say he left quite an impression on a few of us.
Now it is Sunday. We got up and went to church and a few of us skipped out on the mall to come back to the hotel and chill. We had Subway for lunch which was a nice comfort. I loved the home cooked food here in the Philippines but I will admit if you are not staying with a family or doing your own cooking it is hard to find good, healthy food. I mean you can but man there a huge western influence here (American)-- if you know the history you would understand why. They love food here and love sugar! Pop and cake for breakfast sometimes!!! And the only healthy option at the school canteen was a banana everything else was junk food. It was a bit depressing. It almost seems backwards because in Canada we are changing the system so that food is being taken out of schools but over here it is everywhere!!!!!! I've been pretty good at staying away from it but it sucks sometimes when its the only option-- that or be hungry which I have chosen a few times. Unlike Malaysia where there was a variety of ethnic foods to choose from (a bit more here in the city) in Laoag where we were living not so much-- Basically Philippine and American. It was interesting to learn that many South East Asian countries don't consider the Philippines to be Asian because of their religious beliefs and the large American influence. Very interesting.
Anyways, flying to Thailand tomorrow!! I am super stoked. Will write more soon. Love you all. xoxoxoxox -Nikki :)
Wednesday here, just got back from the beach where we spent the morning swimming, singing karaoke, relaxing and eating lunch. Just have a bit of a break and then we spend the rest of the day in the dessert 4 wheeling and sand boarding-- sweet as!! Had an epic weekend with my host family!! Friday was a really long day at the university... we had lectures and then had this social event with the students which was an amazing time. We had an unreal dinner-- sooo much food. I tried chicken intestine, not to bad actually. There was singing and dancing-- staff and students where all here from the university. It was a great night. One of the Filipino waiters asked for my details-- hehe. He was pretty cute, I gave him my e-mail and facebook.
Saturday morning I work up around 7am to the sound of karaoke, when I went down stairs there were about 20 kids all sitting there singing and dancing-- this lasted until about 1am that night and re-started again Sunday morning around the same time until the man came and took the machine away which our home-stay lady had hired. Around 9am we went to the mall and went to the grocery stored to get some food because Carly and I made potato salad and a dessert for Sunday dinner. We got back and I spent the day singing and dancing with the kids in front of the karaoke machine. At 4pm Nancy and Crys's host family picked us up we got Madi at the hotel and we all went zip-lining through the forest and had a bit of a picnic than went back to there home for some food. Dropped off the kids and we all went to a resort to sing more karaoke and drink some beer-- it was an awesome day and we were pretty tired by the end of it. We got home to more Karaoke hahahaha. They love it here!! Madi stayed overnight. Music is a big part of the Philippine culture. Sunday morning we got up and went to church for 9am and then went home. We had lunch and I prepared the food for dinner and spent some time doing some school work and played with the kids. We went into the city for a bit with our host then got home and I found out we have baby goats and chicks!!!! Madi and Jen came over for dinner-- it was such a good meal. They left and we all went to bed shortly after.
Monday we woke up at 4:45am and went to the beach to watch the sunrise. Carly and I got to swim, the water was super warm. Went for a run, did some yoga and then went home for breakfast, got ready for school. We went to this English festival in the morning here at the university and then had lectures in the afternoon. After school we went home, Chairs and Laura came over and we all went back to the beach. We cooked our supper over a campfire and showed them hot to makes s'mores which everyone loved!!! Carly and I went swimming again, the water was amazing and the stars were sooo bright. It was song a great day, but looong. We were soo tired come Tuesday I got up and went for a walk with my home-stay lady. It was a day visiting museums and another city called Vigal. It was an alright day, I think I was just a bit tired. When I got home I had dinner and then had a beer with one of the brothers and then went and played pool which a bunch of the boys which are all cousins. It was fun. Now its Wednesday. Tomorrow we have the morning to ourselves then have to be at the university for 1:30pm hang out here for a bit, have a farewell dinner and then we take a bus overnight to Manila. We are in Manila till Monday and then we fly back to Hong Kong and onto Bangkok, Thailand from there Chang Mi where we will live with a Thai family for the next month. Super stoked but sad to say goodbye to my Philippine family
Hello. Things have been pretty good since the last time I blogged-- I haven't been sick again and I am slowly starting to feel a lot better. However, no matter how much sleep I get I still seem to always feel tired. I don't know if I will ever feel 100% rested on this trip because there is always so much going on. Anyway's, I guess you may be wondering what has been happening. Well when I got home from the hospital I went back to my home-stay and had a pretty good sleep that night which was very needed. Tuesday was spent in lectures learning about Filipino History and both about past and current economic challenges-- I found the second lecture really interesting (I developed a bit of an interest in economics over the summer while I was in Australia). I got home Tuesday and spent the evening playing with a bunch of kids, man it was a fun evening. There must of been about 10 or more kids, they speak a bit of English (they learn it in school) but we seemed to be able to communicate alright with each other regardless. They were all calling me Americano Americano however, I corrected them by saying I was not Americano but Canadian-- from Canada. They all giggled, we all laughed quite a bit. We were having relay races, dancing, playing games and they were trying to teach me a Filipino song with actions they laughed when I tried to learn the words... they are all so beautiful and I love them all!!! There is this one little girl who it just the cutest, she is maybe only 1 years old. She is often around with her older sister who looks after her because her mother is away living and working in Hong Kong. There are a lot of Filipino families where the mothers or fathers go overseas to work because they can make better money and in turn send it back home to their families. I felt sad when she came and sat next to me and took my hand and put it to her tiny little belly-- I thought she must miss her mama so much. I am sure her father and siblings give her heaps of love but there is no love like the love of a mother... I have a heap of pictures I took of the children playing... and ones of the little boys swimming in the trenches filled with water which I think is used as some sort of irrigation system from the rice padies. Wednesday we went to the Eco-Park and Botanic Gardens which was really beautiful. 78 hectares of plants and wildlife of the Philippines-- over 2000 species!! It was a really lovely morning and we finished up there by having lunch. We came back to the university in the afternoon and had a lecture on Philippine Traditional Family Dance and Music-- when the lecture was over a bunch of the students put on a show for us showing us 6 of the different types of dances. At the end a few of us got to try them out-- I tried the one where you put a pot on your head and move around... I did it without dropping the pot... they were pretty impressed!!! It was fun. Our home-stay lady took us to the city afterwards and we visited a few shops, went to the night markets and met up with a friend of hers from church for dinner and went home after that. Thursday we went on an "Educational Field Trip" to a dragon fruit farm and tried some delicious dragon fruit ice cream. Next we stopped at a point where you walked up stairs to a lighthouse. The view was stunning of the cliffs and the ocean-- the surf looked spectacular. We saw a place where salt is made (natural mineral salt) then went to this resort on a beach and had an amazing lunch. Next we went on a hike to some waterfalls where we got to swim-- very beautiful and refreshing. And our last stop was at this beach which had a heap of windmills all along it that are used for power. Sadly we could not swim and I don't think you would have wanted to because the waves were soooo big and really really strong. Honestly, you would have drowned if you went in. It was super hectic. We got back and went home. Played with some of the kids for a bit and met some more neighbors (cousins of our home-stay lady) and then had supper. At present I am just at the university, we had lectures all day and are waiting around for a bit until the social event tonight that we are having with the students-- should be fun. Both groups (us and them) have prepared some entertainment-- we are going to do some singing and reading of poetry. Hopefully it goes well. Anyway's, looking forward to spending the weekend with my home-stay family, it should be fun! Will write more soon. Thinking of you all. Much love --Nikki :) xox PS: I cannot wait to put pictures on FB-- probably won't be until I get home unless people post some on my wall or tag me in them hehe
Hello Everyone! Well don't I have some stories for you all... My experience in the Philippines so far has been quite cultural. I think I blogged about our arrival to the Philippines the other day so I guess I will leave off from there-- Saturday, was a pretty chill day as we had the morning to ourselves until the afternoon. Around 4pm we went on a group walk with our Filipino leaders and then all went out for dinner to a really nice restaurant. The restaurant we went to was a fairly high end one-- meaning it was an expensive place to eat at for the average Filipino. Upon receiving my bill which was over 500 pesos (however, it was split between Crys and so I paid about 265 for my portion) I was curious as to why this was considered to be an expensive place to eat. I googled the average wage of a Filipino in Laoag which is where we are-- depending on the job sector it ranged anywhere from 253 pesos to 205 pesos... daily. If you work that our in Canadian dollars 250 pesos is about 5.9 Canadian dollars therefore, my meal was the cost of what someone makes here in a day... Give you something to think about.
Sunday, we all attended a local church here. If you ever want to experience cultural a church is an interesting place to do so. It is important to note that the major religion in the Philippines is Roman Catholic. During the service there was a earth tremor which was rated 5.6 on the Rictor Scale, I was completely unaware of this at the time until later on in the day when I was told. I had felt the tremble however, I thought it was the woman behind be putting her hands on my chair-- shaking it. I was wondering why the whole church all of a sudden broke out in prayer. Maybe it was a good think I didn't know it was happening at the time. Scary!!
Around 3pm our host families began to arrive to pick us up. This is where my Philippine cultural experience really begins. Some of it is pleasant and some unpleasant however, in the midst of it all I was shown compassion, grace, kindness and love. I will begin by giving an introduction to my Filipino family.
Carly and I live in rice paddy village. There are about 1000 people who live in this small village.. We live in a house with 9 other people. Surrounded by us in other relatives-- so within the village is almost like another small community of our Filipino family. In our home there is Mama who is the mother of our homestay lady (I will not give names out at this time). Our homestay lady and her 3 children ages 14 and twins who are 10. Her sister and her little 5 year old daughter. There are two brothers and I am not really sure where the husbands are, I don't think they stay in the house. Carly and I share a bedroom and bed. There is a water pump which is used to fill up tubs for washing the dishes, for doing laundry and for bathing. The toilet does not flush, you have to use a pail of water to make it do down and for showering we have a tub of water and pail as well. Its very refreshing I must say! They offer me warm water but I don't mind the cold water-- you get used to it after a awhile. At night time we have a little pail in our room to use if we need to use the toilet as the bathroom is quite a distance away. The food has been amazing. A lot of the vegetables come from their garden as does the chicken. I think the chicken we ate last night was killed only moments before. Most people have roosters tied up in their yards with a little triangle hut. We drink mineral water as we don't want to get sick drinking their water-- different bacteria we are not used too. Anyways, this all sounds pleasant-- and it is very much so!!! However, on my first night after a 2 hour bike ride I felt very sick. I ate dinner thinking I would feel better... it did not help. After moments of going to bed I was up vomiting... then I began running to the bathroom... After many trips I began to get very dizzy, I got locked out of the house my mistake... I knocked on the door and when the sister opened it I explained to her that I was very sick. After more vomiting I was taken to the hospital where I stayed over night for a total of almost 24hrs. They wanted to keep me longer but I really did not want to stay-- they said as long as I did not vomit or have diarrhea for the rest of the day I would be able to leave. Thankfully I did not! By 5pm that day I was finally able to leave. During my stay I actually felt like a celebrity, I had so many people coming into my room and others who peaked in the window... it was actually very amusing. Jen one of our leaders spent the night with me which I am very grateful for. Being so far from home in a hospital where things are done differently it can be scary. Needless to say even though I am 25 years old there are moments where I just want my mum-- this was one of them. The sister of my homestay also stayed with me all day, she took me to the bathroom, bathed me-- I had an IV so it was hard to do much. Mama made me a homemade soup and it was brought and fed to me. It was quite overwhelming in many ways but I don't know if I have ever been so well taken care of. I am family to them and they are family to me. I wish I had more time to write about this but my time is running short here. All I can say is in one day I was shown enough compassion, love, kindness and grace for a lifetime. I am so blessed to have been put with this family, both Carly and I are so happy and thankful. I had a wonderful sleep last night and feel much better today. I think the final conclusion was acute gastroenteritis (you may need to google that) and also dehydration. It was a scary experience but also a lesson learned that it is important to take care and listen to your body which I thought I was doing. However, I tend to overdue everything so I am now taking it a bit easier and making sure to drink heaps and heaps of water!!!! I had lectures all day today at the University and am now just waiting for our ride home. I hope I can write more soon. The next few days are going to be pretty flat out with lectures, field-trips and social events with the Filipino university students so I am sure there will be lots of stories to tell. This is a totally different experience than my previous solo travels. Thanks for reading my blog. Hope all is well on your side of the world or where ever it is you are. Much love xoxox -Nikki :)
Where do I even begin!! I haven't written in a few days and so much has happened-- I think the last day I blogged about was Sunday the 30th of September. So what has happened since then... well Monday was a lecture day. The first topic was on Muslims in Malaysia-- this was really interesting. The professor shared with us how even though the people in Malaysia are mostly Muslim it does not mean that it is an Islamic country. Many Muslims may not come from an Arabic heritage, they adopt Islam while still having a Hindu or Buddhist culture-- Religion has been affected b globalization. An prime example of this is how you might see some of the Muslim women dress in Malaysia compared to how they may dress in Arabic countries. Globalization does not only affect one's religion or culture but also one's worldview. The second lecture was a focus on "Malay Society, Family and Culture--" the professor was a bit hard to understand so I didn't get as much out of it as the first lecture. That afternoon we went to the National Museum touching on a wide variety of topics such as; burials, early trade, agriculture, and the Dutch influence.
Tuesday was a pretty big day, we took a day trip to Putra Jaya and visited the "Taman Warison Pertanian (Agriculture Park)." We walked around learning of all the different types of fruit trees, plants, and got to see how rubber is taken from a rubber tree-- pretty amazing process and hard work. I was amazed how the tree just naturally produces it! A really lovely was-- hot. Our next stop was to a Mosque. When we arrived all the women had to but on a pink robe that had a hood (A Mosque is where Muslims go to pray). When we went into the main area we also had to remove our shoes, men as well. The architecture of Islamic buildings will cause anyones mouth to drop-- they are truly stunning and amazing works of art from design to colors. There is something about them that seem to represent a sort of holy presence. Our final stop was to the Batu Caves which are used as a holy temple for Hinduism. As you walk up the 272 steps into the cave you are greeted by a large golden statue which is a representation of one of the Hindu Gods. You also have to be very careful of the monkeys that seem to have invaded the area-- they are known to grab things out of our hands. I once again noted all the rubbish in the caves however, the monkeys may have had an important role in littering it there (haha). Even though it makes me a bit angry how people can be so disrespectful-- which also goes for all the writing on the wall (people leaving their mark).
Wednesday was another day of lectures-- the first one was given by a professor who had so much passion in what he was sharing with us. It was on the topic of government in Malaysia throughout history and to present day. The second lecture was by far my favorite-- "Issues & Challenges facing Indigenous Communities." Their loss of: "recognition over land rights, access to natural resources, and cultural identity. The lack of: official recognition of cultural identity, space for cultural expression. Traditional knowledge eroding, exploitation, vulnerable communities and they are no longer autonomous" (lecture slideshow). I found this all really interested because one of the documentaries he showed us was based on the deforestation of an area where Indigenous people were living all to plant and grow palm oil. We talk about the idea of sustainable palm oil however, how is it sustainable when we are destroying indigenous communities? Plantations, modernization, globalization, mass cultivation and corporations are ruining these traditional cultures. Green sustainability seems to focus on the idea of going back to farming, and growing/ eating local food... yet it seems hypercritical to me that we destroy cultures who are already doing this. How is palm oil sustainable when it destroys rainforests? When it causes the extinction of culture-- sustainability is not only about the environment, it is about sustaining our cultures, our people, languages... sustaining everything that brings us life and meaning. When we impose our modern ideas to these people do we not sometimes create more poverty? I believe that we sometimes do. Many of these cultures are being left with very few raw materials because of the destruction of these areas... it not only affects the particular culture but everyone around them whom they once traded with. The government, companies and various NGOs need to consider the long term effects their decisions will have on these traditional cultures-- Sustainability anyone? In the evening we watched a documentary which i really enjoyed because it explained a bit about the issues of the Indians in Malaysia. There is a large Indian population in Malaysia because they were brought in by the British for labour therefore, not to exploit the local peoples. This short documentary shared a bit of their story which I think is an important part in understanding the multi-culture of Malaysia. A few os us finished of the day with a couple glasses of wine.
Thursday was another day trip to Melaka which was an pretty cool place to visit considering the history of the area. There is a large population of Portuguese and a Dutch influence in the architecture. It is one of the main shipping routes in the world known as "The Melaka Straight." This route played an important role in Malaysia's early trade and even still today. We spent the morning visiting museums and visiting some historical sites and the rest of the day was spent walking around-- soooo many shops!!! Had some amazing Indian food in Lil' India and then it was a early night for most of us.
Friday we were up at 4:30am to hop on the bus which was taking us to the airport-- it was such a looooong day. I am a bit sick with a head cold so it made for a really extra long day. However, arriving in the Philippines was quite an interesting experience!!! I must say that I am very excited to be here and can not wait to meet the family I will be staying with (we meet them tomorrow, presently we are just staying in a hotel). Anyways, we arrived in Manilla, the capital of the Philippines. We were meeting someone from the university, after we found her we were told we had to hurry as we were late for our plane-- so the adventure began. We all climbed on a bus and began our journey down the high way. Traffic everywhere, scooters and these cars called: Jeepney's. This will be hard to explain so I will have to take a picture at some point. Anyways, it is like a long jeep looking thing, no windows or anything, some people hang of the back... it sits 20 or more people-- a great car pooling system. Like a taxi but bigger. Maybe google one online. They LOVE music here. The bus had the music pumping and when we all started singing they just looked at us and laughed... We had to catch another flight to Laoag which was the most fun part-- we literally had to run the whole way from the bus up to cases of stairs and to the desk then all the way to the gate. I am exhausted... I was up at 4:30am and it was not almost 7pm. When we got to Laoag they again had a DJ with the music just blasting. They love music here. After we checked into our hotel we went to this place for food-- everyone, I mean everyone was staring... Unlike Malaysia where it is so mulit-cultural the Philippines is not so much. We really stand out here. The men love to look at you-- I mean they stare, Hahaha. They are a beautiful people. There is quite a bit of an American influence here which I have observed so far, especially in the food and some of the buildings I see-- the Diner we ate at this morning especially, the whole 50's theme. Anyways, we will have a walk around later on in the day with one of our professors from the University. Pretty tired today and still not feeling so well. However, I am in the Philippines!!!!! Life is pretty great. Till next time. -Nikki xox