Tuesday, April 30, 2013

spring beach nights

It's Tuesday night and I just got home from the beach. After work.  How awesome is that?  It was in the 80s today, so Joe and I decided to go to the beach after a long couple of days of work.  Adrienne was teaching dance and Quinci had a soccer game, so it was just the two of us.  It was a little breezy, but the perfect reprise from the stress of work and a really nice excuse to not go to the gym :)

Oh and I got into ODU yesterday...in case I haven't told the whole world yet :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hafa Adai from Guam!

In a previous post about Martin Richard, I mentioned that it had been an emotional roller coaster.  Learning about Martin's death was definitely the low point of my week, but it was balanced out with so many high points.  This is because I was in GUAM with MIKE! It had to be a big secret since they were there for a port call, so no one knew until I got back.

I left on Wednesday, flew all day Wednesday and arrive at 11pm Guam time (which is 9am east coast time) on Thursday.  Needless to say, I was exhausted.  Things I learned from that experience....never opt for the 13 hour flight if you have an option.  A layover is always better.  I was going a little crazy on the flight over, especially since I couldn't really fall asleep. Luckily, the movie selection was awesome and I watched Life of Pi and This is Forty, both of which I recommend.  After three flights, 24 hours of travelling and not a lot of sleep, I landed in Guam.  Mike was there to meet me at the airport, which was so nice. I always imagine these grandiose reunions at the airport and while they are not usually exactlyyyy what I imagine, it's always really exciting to see him. As you can imagine, I was exhausted and felt pretty gross after 24 hours of travelling and no shower (I did brush my teeth on the last flight, though), so it didn't take long for me to fall asleep.

Friday was relaxing, which was really nice considering I was pretty jet lagged (when your nights become your days, your body gets very confused).  We got massages in the morning....so nice after a long day of travelling. Then, we met up with Jud and Lizzie (the one who basically planned this whole trip), who were Mike's room mates before they left for deployment. Jud and Lizzie are married and Jud is on the boat with Mike.  The four of us just hung out by the pool all afternoon.  It was perfect.  As long as I have the sun and some water, I'm pretty easy to please on vacation.  That night, we went out with all of his friends to a Brazilian steakhouse. I've never been to one, but apparently the guys have been to one in every port.  It was awesome.  Different guys come to your table and have different kinds of meat on a stick and you either say yes or no to it.  They have all kinds of things, from bacon wrapped beef to ribs.  It was delicious. They also have a salad bar, if you need a little variety, but it was all delicious.  Afterwards, we went out to a cigar bar for a little while, which was lots of fun.  Since I didn't know Mike's friends, I hung close to him, but it was still a lot of fun.

Saturday, Mike had duty (boooo), so I went hiking and swimming with his friends. Again, since I didn't know them that well, it was a little awkward at times, but it was still really fun.  We hiked to a waterfall that was awesome, even though it was the "dry season" (although the humidity obviously missed that memo).  Jud wanted to jump off into the water, but it wasn't deep enough, so we all just went swimming for a little while.  After about an hour of swimming, we all got hungry and were ready for lunch.  Luckily, Mike's friend Mike (it's all very confusing) had been to Guam before and knew of a really good burger place. It was delicious, just like he had promised.  After lunch, we drove down the southern loop and stopped at this swimming hole.  It was where a lot of the locals go swimming, but it was awesome.  It was a really deep hole with a board to jump off of (so Jud was happy).  At the edge of the hole, there was a rock barrier and on the other side was the ocean.  There was the ocean and a lot of coral.  It was really pretty and scenic (I wish my Mike had been there because it was really romantic).    We spent the afternoon swimming.  I was really tired and sunburnt by the end of the day and we were all ready to head home and take a nap.  I wasn't sure if Mike was going to get home in time for dinner and when I woke up he still wasn't back.  As much as I enjoyed hanging out with his friends all day, I really wanted him to come back in time for dinner. When I got ready for dinner he still wasn't back and I was really disappointed.

I went down to the lobby to meet everyone and get a ride to the restaurant.  Whenever someone leaves the boat, all the guys have a party and give gag gifts to the guy that's leaving. Since Jud and another one of Mike's good friends were leaving after deployment and they wouldn't have time to do their normal cookout, they decided to do it this port call while we were all there.  Luckily, not long after we arrived, Mike arrived too!! Thank goodness :)  We had Thai food and heard lots of stories about the guys on the boat.  It was a lot of fun and something I'm really glad I got to experience. After lots of funny stories and great gifts (including a Justin Beiber game for Mike), we met up with the captain and his wife (who are based in Guam) at a beach bar for a drink. They seem really awesome and friendly.  We didn't stay that late because everyone was tired from the day (or from working for Mike), but it was still really fun to get to meet the captain and hear some of the stories from the boat.

Sunday was pretty laid back.  We slept in, went to brunch in the lounge and hung around in the morning.  Even though I was waking up pretty early, it was still nice not to have to rush anywhere.  Around noon, we met up with everyone in the lobby.  We drove to the base  to rent snorkels and stuff to grill with.  We went to this beach on base that had grills and shelters for us to hang out, plus a great place for snorkeling.  We ended up snorkeling for a while because there was so much awesome stuff to see. There were tons of fish and coral and since the water was so clear, you could see everything.  We would swim up to fish and basically get within arms reach of them.  We saw a whole school of rainbow fish and there were these long, narrow fish that swam with you at the edge of the water.  It was so cool!  We stayed all afternoon at the beach.  Jud made his burgers for us and we just hung out all afternoon.  It was really fun to hang out with Mike and his friends because it's not something that we ever get to do.  When I talk to him on the phone or Skype with him, it's almost always just him.  So, it was just something fun and new to experience.  When we got back to the hotel, we ran into Mike's old room mate Andrew and a few of his friends who were in port there also. We decided to meet up with them at the hotel bar around nine, which was good because it gave me a chance to take a nap (I love a good nap!) and Mike caught up on TV shows he had missed while on the boat. We met up with all of his friends and Jud and Lizzie joined us, too.  I'm glad we went because it was good for Mike to catch up with Andrew and their friends.  Lots of boat talk, but it was good.  I like meeting his friends, especially since I hear so much about them. It really helps to be able to put a face to a name and remember things that he says about everyone.

Anyways, Mondays, the guys had to work because they were leaving early on Tuesday.  It was a bummer since it was their last day, but it turned out to be okay. All of the other girls left on Monday, so it was just Lizzie and I.  We hung out by the pool all morning and for most of the afternoon. I really like Lizzie and she definitely knows the guys and the Navy life, which is nice because I definitely don't. I got to hear about their move to Monterrey and their dog Paisley (who I met in Hawaii and absolutely love) who is about to have puppies.  After lunch and a nice little nap at the pool, it looked like it was going to start raining, so we headed inside.

Originally, Mike had said that he wanted to go out for a nice dinner on Monday night since it would be our last night together.  I love getting dressed up so this was fine, but I also am fine with just doing something laid back, which is what ended up happening. When Mike got home, I could tell he was tired and didn't want to bother getting dressed up. I had the luxury of a nap (I see a trend...), but he didn't, so we ended up going out for sushi with his friend Mike, Jud, Lizzie and another girl Natasha.  I love getting dressed up and stuff, but I was completely fine with hanging out with everyone.  It was his last night of freedom for a while and I knew that I would get plenty of time with him by myself after dinner, so I really wasn't concerned. Plus, dinner was a ton of fun and I LOVE sushi. It was fun just hanging out with everyone one last time before the guys left.  Sushi in Guam and Hawaii puts east coast sushi to shame. Unlike the other nights when we got back around 11:00, Monday night, we got back around 8:30.  We drank red wine (which I don't normally like, but this bottle was pretty good) and just hung out. It was the perfect ending to the trip.

Tuesday morning, Jud, Mike, and Lizzie (who was driving them) were meeting in the lobby at six, so we were awake pretty early.  Mike checked the news and we heard about the Boston Marathon bombings, but they had literally just happened, so it was just breaking news at the point. We headed down to the lobby to meet them and said a tearful goodbye (on my part). I wasn't sure if I would get emotional and I seemed to be doing pretty well the whole way down to the lobby.  I was completely fine until I saw Jud and Lizzie walk in.  After saying goodbye,  I went back upstairs and went back to sleep since it was only 6am and I had another whole day of vacation.

Since Lizzie and I had the whole day of vacation left, we met up for brunch in the lounge and mapped out the day.  We went to the "outlet mall" since it was raining in the morning to look for some souvenirs and a new bathing suit for Lizzie.  There weren't any souvenirs, but Lizzie did get a new bathing suit. By the time we got back to the hotel, the rain had stopped so we headed to the beach.  We had champagne and mai tais and missed the boys together.  Natasha joined us in the afternoon.  At one point, we went in the water to cool off and while we were swimming, this guy called us over and was like "Do you like sharks?"  He had a big fish (although it wasn't a shark) in his hand, so we went over to check it out.  It was a puffer fish that was injured.  It was so cool! We pet it and it just looked at us.  The guy said it was dying because of it's injury.  We named it Gwen.  It was pretty sad because it was badly injured and actually ended up dying while the guy was holding it. It was really cool.  I loved seeing all of the fish and marine life throughout this whole trip and getting to see one up close and touch it was just so cool.

Wednesday morning, Natasha and I headed to the airport around nine.  We were on the same flight to Japan, which was kind of nice.  The flight from Guam to Japan was easy and the flight from Japan to Chicago really wasn't that bad, besides the length. I actually slept a decent amount on that flight since I had the window seat and the middle seat was empty.  Once I got to Chicago, I knew that I was going to have a four hour layover, which I actually didn't mind. I love airports and people watching. Once I got there, though, I started getting updates that my flight was delayed.   Seven hours later, I boarded the plane....and then sat on the runway for an hour.  By the time we actually landed in Jacksonville, it was 1am.  Needless to say, I was a little tired.  Add in the emotions of the Boston bombings and, needless to say, it was a rough end to a fantastic vacation.

Overall, though, it was an amazing vacation.  It was so nice to see Mike and get to spend time with him.  I miss him more now than before. I can't wait to see him when he gets home. :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

lots of excitement!

This was supposed to be published about a month ago.......

I feel like since last Friday night, one thing after another has happened, making this entire week a whirlwind. We weren't even in school this week, but it's literally been the craziest week ever.

On Friday, we got home from work and were just hanging out downstairs.  I had my laptop and we were all just hanging out.  It seemed like it was going to be a relatively calm night.  All of sudden, I received an email from Boston University's Office of Admissions saying,

"Greetings Sarah,

Congratulations! We put your acceptance package in the mail today and we want to offer you an unofficial welcome to the Master of Education in Elementary Education at Boston University School of Education." 

At first, I had no idea what was going on. I had been told that I would receive a letter in the mail stating my admissions decision.  Since nothing came in the mail, I was really confused for a second until it hit me. Then, it was sheer excitement! It's not my first choice, but it 's just nice to know that I've been accepted somewhere and have a plan for next year. 

Then, this week, we were in the office since the kids were on Spring Break. Monday and Tuesday were pretty relaxing.  We watched documentaries such as 'Waiting for Superman' (which I have and highly recommend) and did diversity activities such as Cross the Line.  Then on Wednesday, we had our team day which is basically a day of fun.  No uniforms, no office, nothing.  The only requirement is you have to hang out with each other for eight hours.  My team went to the town center and did a little shopping before coming back to our house to make tacos and have a spontaneous photo shoot.   It was really laid back, but it was a ton of fun. 

On Thursday, we had a service project at the library and then were done around 1:30.  Joe and I were leaving the office and we saw another corps member, Monique, with a random dog.  Apparently, it was just wandering around downtown and Monique was trying to figure out what to do with it since it was obviously lost.  Well, somewhere in the shuffle, Monique left and Joe and I were left with this dog.  It didn't have a collar or anything, but was really friendly and super lovable.  I mean, it just followed me around and everything.  Joe brought my car around, but it didn't want to get in at all. Joe finally had to lift the dog into my car because it was so scared.  We called Animal Control, but they don't accept dogs after noon (why not?  who knows!) so we ended up bringing him home for the night! We think he may have belonged to a homeless person (there are lots that hang around downtown) because he didn't know how to walk up/down stairs, eat food out of a bowl and seemed really weirded out by being inside.  He also did not like to be left alone.  The next morning, he was downstairs by himself and literally started howling until  I came downstairs.  Unfortunately, we had to take him to Animal Control since we're not allowed to have dogs in our house.  He was such a great dog though and with a little house training, he'll make a great pet for someone!

Last night, Christina, who is married to the best man in Anna's wedding, texted me asking if  I wanted to come over for dinner since they're moving to Hawaii in a few weeks and this would be our last chance to hang out.  They had invited one of Christina's good friends from high school and his girlfriend over, too, and it was a lot of fun.   Christina and Shawn had just gotten married over Saint Patrick's Day weekend. The wedding sounds like a blast and it sounds like their life is crazy right now with the honeymoon, wedding and moving all in one.    It was really fun hanging out with them.  I was there for like five hours and it was a ton of fun. 

Last but not least, Mom, Dad and Ben come today for the week, so I'll be with them through Monday and then maybe sporadically throughout the week.  So nice to have them here!  I think we're going to Universal on Monday, since I took the day off.  I don't know what else they're going to do during the week, but I'm sure they'll love the warm weather. 

Anyways, that was my very exciting and eventful week.  Happy Easter!

Martin Richard

I've been waiting all week to write this because I wasn't sure how I was feeling.  It has been an emotional roller coaster this week.

For those of you who don't know, Martin Richard was the eight year old killed by the Boston Marathon explosions on Monday.   He was also a third grader at Neighborhood House Charter School, the school I served at last year in Boston.  While Martin wasn't in my class, the beauty of a small school is that everyone knows everyone.  Martin was in second grade last year when I was serving in first grade.  First and second grade spend a lot of time together, so I got to know Martin over the course of the year.  I spend Monday through Thursday with him and all of the first and second graders at recess.  For those of you who have never experienced recess duty, the majority of your time is spent breaking up arguments over a sports game or trying to make everyone feel included. Martin was never one of those kids.  He got along with EVERYONE.  He was always playing basketball or football with the other boys, but never got into arguments over the game.  If anything, he was the mediator between the two teams.  Outside of sports, he always made people feel included.  He would often partner up with another student who was left out and he was definitely the cutie of his class.  All of the girls had crushes on him.

Last year, my team hosted a college fair for the entire school.  We had thousands of pamphlets from different colleges. We asked each student to pick a school that they wanted to attend and we wrote their name and their school on a fake diploma. While most first and second graders spent what seemed like hours trying to pick out a school, Martin knew that he wanted to go to Boston University. He loved his home town and was proud of it so much he never wanted to leave.  I am glad that Boston is showing him as much love as he showed Boston.

NHCS is an incredible school and provides such a sense of community for the students and families there. I know that Martin was lucky enough to attend such a great school because it provided him with an incredible experience. It is also a blessing for his family in the aftermath. His sister is in first grade at NHCS and his mom is the librarian. His sister lost a leg and his mom was also seriously injured. I know that the NHCS community will surround them with the love and support they need during this difficult time. 

Even though Martin wasn't in my class, he was definitely a positive presence on my time at NHCS. When I heard that an eight year old had been killed, it briefly crossed my mind that it could be one of my students, but I never really thought it would be true.  My heart goes out to the NHCS community. I know how close of a bond that is and how much each of the NHCS scholars is cared for within that community.  

Martin and his class did a peace walk last year through Dorchester and this was the sign that he made.
Martin at the college fair last year proudly holding his Boston University diploma.
True bliss.
"No more hurting people. Peace." -Martin Richard