Sunday, July 27, 2014

Other Happenings

So after writing my last post about things we've been up to since we came back to the States was not a fully comprehensive list. Basically, I just uploaded a bunch of pictures and summarized what we've been doing. 
And then I found all these pictures, and thought I should continue summarizing. 

We spent a week with all of Caitlin's family in town. It was a lot of fun having them all around, and the house was definitely crazy with 10 adults and 4 small children. 
We had a lot of fun going to the beach with our nieces and nephew. Kids are so funny on the beach. It is really a love hate relationship. They love the sand until they realize they are dirty. They love the water until they are all wet. They love the snacks we bring until they drop them in the sand and cant clean them. It is a pretty funny scene to watch. 
We pretty much love the beach. I never thought I would be so much of a beach person, but Central America did that for me. The San Diego beach is a lot colder than anywhere in Central America, but once the wind died down and the sun started shining, it became a lot more bearable. At first, I hid behind our umbrella and under a stack of towels. I was basically the biggest wimp of the day.
During that week, Caitlin's little brother Justin graduated from high school, so we spent a night at Caitlin's old high school stadium so we could watch him graduate. Check out the guy right behind Caitlin. Isn't he the greatest? 
After everyone left, we went to the library to get free tickets to a Padres game. If you checked out 20 books, you got 2 free tickets. We checked out 60 books so we could all go and enjoy a free night at the Padres. It was pretty sweet. We won too!
We also had a fun double date with some of Caitlin's friends. We went to an outdoor movie and saw Gravity. It was super fun, and FREE! Well, we didn't go inside the actual park, so it was free to us. :) We learned how to be cheap while we were in Central America.
We have also been grilling a lot. It is my favorite summer activity. That is one of the reasons I would love to live in San Diego - you can grill year round! 
And lastly, we had an amazing time on the 4th of July up at Green Valley Falls. It is supposed to be a great set of waterfalls, but due to the drought it was kind of a trickle of water. But it rained on us while we were there, so it picked up a little. :) It was great being out in nature though, since San Diego doesn't have very much of that. 
And now I think I've covered the main things we've experienced since being in San Diego. Next time I post, I'll catch ya'll up on my birthday celebrations. 28 years old baby!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Since Coming Back

Since coming back to the United States, we have been pretty busy. It took a grueling 24 hours of travel from Costa Rica, to Houston, to Washington DC, to Hartford, to Vermont - lost luggage, culture shock, freezing our behinds off while in the New England "spring" - until we finally were able to settle back into our old place for capstone week before graduation. 

Capstone week was long. It was only a week, but it seemed like a lot. And I had to plan my presentation since I didn't do anything during our backpacking trip. So I was pretty busy during my time in Vermont. Caitlin got to catch up with her coworkers, visit her favorite bead shop, and attend a few other capstones while I was busy. 
Caitlin with her old coworkers.
We had a fun time being back in Brattleboro, exploring our old stomping grounds. It was seriously a great transition into the US. 
We spent a lot of time with our friends Catherine and Steph. And we overindulged in our favorite New England treat at the Town Line Creamy in Bernardston. Seriously, I think we went 3 times... maybe 4.

And of course, we spent a lot of time with other friends enjoying Vermonty foods. The Marina (a local seafood place) and Vermont cheese, just to name a few. 

While we were in New England we had to visit our favorite missionary, so we ventured down to Holyoke, MA (the birthplace of volleyball) to visit Elder Southerland. He was seriously the best missionary. Well worth the drive to catch up with an old friend. 
After our week in Vermont it was time to travel to San Diego, but first we spent the day in Boston. We didn't rent a car while we were in Vermont, our friend Catherine drove us around everywhere (which was the best thing ever) so we didn't have a ride to Boston to catch our flight. But then we met a girl from San Diego who was also capstoning and they were flying out of Boston the same day as us. Perfect - they could give us a ride. Unfortunately, their flight left at 5:00 in the morning, and ours left at 5:00 in the evening. Fortunately, we love Boston and could definitely spend the day there exploring all our favorite places. 
We found this beautiful Nutella truck that was handing out free samples. What an amazing free sample. I wish they were giving out free tubs instead. :)
And we went around to the many parks and historical landmarks that make Boston so great. It was a beautiful day, so we enjoyed the weather as much as we could. 

We went to Bunker Hill to climb up to the top of the monument. It was a little warm as we climbed the hundreds of stairs to the top - but we had to do it. When in Rome, right?

After we finished climbing, we decided it was about time for a picnic and a nap. We were so excited for grass when we got back to the states, and I could not wait to take a nap in the luscious green grass outside of the monument.  Caitlin thought it was pretty funny. I thought it was glorious.
After spending a while exploring Boston, we went back to the airport for some more airport drama (no lost luggage this time, just a delayed flight, rebooking, and extra baggage fees), but we managed to find these incredible rocking chairs down one of the passageways. I don't know why there were there, but we sat down and enjoyed our subway sandwiches in them.  
The day after we got to San Diego, Caitlin's sister returned home from her mission in Nashville, Tennessee. It was so great to see her come home. I have never been a part of a missionary homecoming, so it was a lot of fun to be there during the process. Caitlin is so happy to have her sister home. There were many times while she was gone that Caitlin wanted to call her or spend time with her, so it is nice now that she is back. 
There was a huge gang waiting for her at the airport. Both sets of grandparents, all her siblings and brother-in-laws, and 4 nieces and nephews. What a spectacular homecoming. 
Our first week in California we also got to see my cousins who came down for a conference. It was quite the coincidence that they were there at the same time we were. We took them on a little tour of San Diego, including the Mormon Battalion Center, and the LDS temple. It was fun to see them and finally introduce Caitlin to my cousins.
Caitlin also reopened her Etsy shop to sell earrings. It was a lot of fun to work on before we left for Mexico, so we're hoping we can gain the same momentum now that we are back. Something fun we can do together (although I hardly do anything). If you're needing a new pair of earrings, or know someone who may enjoy some handmade earrings, check out here shop here.
Since then we have been really busy as well with applying to jobs, interviewing for jobs, and trying to figure out what our future holds. It is really hard planning out your future. Seriously. But we are grateful to be in San Diego for the summer, and really grateful for Caitlin's parents. They have opened their home to us and allowed us all the time we need to figure things out. Now that we are readjusted to living in the states (it was rough the first few weeks) I think we are starting to feel comfortable with the idea of staying stateside for a little while. But who knows... we're not trying to plan too far in advance. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Officially a Master

I have a Master's degree. 
That's right. I'm all sorts of educated now. 
Can't you tell from the ridiculously sophisticated way that I write my blog?

Did I ever tell you that I attended graduate school on a farm? 

The School for International Training is an amazing school. 
It is also located in Brattleboro, Vermont - on an old farm - and there is a definitely unique vibe to the school. 

I'm pretty sure graduation was the epitome of this uniqueness.  
To start off, we did not have pomp and circumstance playing as we walked into graduation. 
We had a pair of drummers, beating away at their drums as we entered the ceremony. 
And the ceremony was beautiful. Since we graduated from a school on a farm, the view was breathtaking.
They had flags up that represented all the different nationalities of the graduating student body. 
Pretty impressive for a school in rural Vermont.

Sometimes when I say rural Vermont I feel like I'm being redundant. Doesn't Vermont signify that it is rural? 
I was excited to graduate. After all, I earned this degree. Many, many hours of reading, homework, and stress went into the making of my degree.
We had a phenomenal speaker. Joseph Sebarenzi. He is a Rwandan native, and survived the genocide. He graduated from my school, and wrote a book called God Sleeps in Rwanda. Amazing book. If you want an inside look at the genocide, check it out. 
I had a great seat for the ceremony. They put us in alphabetical order by degree. My actual degree is a Master's in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management. Kind of a mouthful. 
We had a ceremony where we received our hoods. 
It was kind of awkward since the guy giving us our hoods was a little on the short side. 
He should've been on a podium so it was a little easier, and less awkward for us tall kids.
And of course, the ceremony ended with the drummers it began with. 
Some of the professors tried to dance. 
For some reason, we were pretty lame and just marched.
Afterward there were a lot of hugs, and we got to meet Joseph Sebarenzi and take a picture with him. 
And of course, this degree would not have been possible had I not had Caitlin by my side. She is my biggest supporter and encouragement. Seriously. There would be no degree without this woman.
After the graduation ceremony there was a reception, and we were able to congratulate one another and meet everyone's families. I was surprised with how many parents came. 
I didn't really even invite my parents. Maybe I'm too independent - but I figured they had better things to do than to sit through the formalities of a graduation. They came to my first one. That was good enough for me.
These two girls, Sanna and Kelly, were in my very first group at SIT, and they were some of the best friends I made while up at school. They both helped me a ton during school, and in writing and defending my capstone. I didn't anticipate making such great friends when I started school, but these two are definitely two that I will always stay in contact with.

After the whole graduation ceremony, receiving my hood and diploma, real life happened and I realized I had to actually find a job. That is even less fun than writing a capstone paper for graduate school.
But luckily now I have my degree and the experiences of SIT to put on my resume that will hopefully lead me to my dream job in the near future. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Last Day in Costa Rica

Our last day in Costa Rica we decided that we should get up super early and go snorkeling in an area that had less waves than the beach where we were staying. So we got up before sunrise and drove up the beach. The boys got in the water to snorkel, and Caitlin relaxed on the beach. 
We snorkeled out to an island that was close to the shore which had tons of rocks and fishes that we could spy on. 
Rick had never been snorkeling before this trip and he was hilarious. The first time we attempted to snorkel, he wore a life jacket. Seriously. Who wears a life jacket while snorkeling? Ha! It was hilarious. He didn't make it out to the island either. He preferred staying near the shore. 
After the sun rose we all decided to go body surfing for a little while. That was super cool on this beach since there were stingrays riding in the waves with us. Kind of scary when you see this huge fish trailing behind you, but they never attacked us. Do stingrays even attack people? 

After playing on the beach for a little while, we packed up and went souvenir shopping, then hopped a bus for San Jose. But... we took the advice of some locals and ended up sitting around for hours in Santa Cruz because the connecting bus was not at a convenient time. Seriously, the bus schedules in Costa Rica are awful. 
We were all exhausted, and within minutes we were all passed out... well except for me. I had to stay awake so that we got off on the right stop. 
Once we got to San Jose, we found a great hostel and settled in for the night. Rick and Bryce took off for their flight really early in the morning so we all woke up to say goodbye, then went back to sleep. After sleeping in a little bit, Dave, Caitlin and I got up and got ready for our flight. Dave was actually staying in Costa Rica, then traveling down to Panama - so we said goodbye at the hostel and headed toward the airport. 
In the airport we were so sad to actually be leaving. Our time had gone by way too fast. Seriously. We could've stayed in Latin America for years and been completely content. Maybe in the future we will move down there or buy a house Central America so we can visit whenever we want. But until then, San Diego is as close to Latin America as we can get.