Category Archives: Experiences

Adventures in the Market

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cincuenta y siete días

I just got back from the market after working a half-day at the clinic (yes, we work on Saturdays.  Boo.) and wanted to share with you all the joy of the market.

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Here are just some things I love about going to the market here in Jucuapa:

  • It’s one of the places I’m allowed to go by myself so I love it so much as a place of refuge when I’m trying to be by myself.  (It’s safe enough as long as I don’t go deep into the trenches of the market and stay on the outside, as I always do.)
  • Food shopping is really therapeutic for me.  I love it now just as much as when I moved into my house at UNC (the first time I was really on my own.)  It’s all about having a budget, taking responsibility of what I eat, making sure it’s healthy, and having a fun treat on the side 🙂
  • Markets are a huge thing in almost every country in the world.  It makes me feel somewhat nostalgic that for centuries people have gone to the market to buy their locally grown food and here I am doing that in 2013.
  • It’s also cool that for nearly everyone that goes abroad, we all have something in common: braving the local market.
  • It makes me feel really confident in my language and life skills here in El Salvador.  Sometimes I take a second to really soak in the fact that I am buying food in another language by myself and they understand me!  I don’t think I can ever get over that.

It’s a shame that I don’t go more often than I’m able to.

But I also wanted to share with you all how amazing shopping is here.  Some things cost quite a bit (I’m speaking to you, milk, peanut butter, and butter!) but other things, like fresh fruits and vegetables, cost very little compared to the grocery store in the US.  For example, here’s a list of everything I bought today for only $12.71:

  • 1/2 gallon of milk 
  • 6 individual yogurts
  • pineapple jelly
  • 3 bananas
  • 1/2 lb grapes
  • 1 mango
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 onion
  • 1 package of strawberries
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 handmade tortillas
  • 1 package of oreos (my weakness here in El Salvador)
  • 1 coconut donut (fresh!)

Can you believe it?!  It’s so opposite of life in the US.  Fresh foods (namely, fruits and vegetables) cost so much less that other foods.  For example, the mango I bought cost only $0.35 and a small bag of chips in a store costs $0.25 or $0.50!  That’s not to say that the poor kids in the town eat healthy at all, though.  You usually see them with an ice cream or chips in their hands, which is sad.

But I am so thankful for the hour spent at the market today, enjoying my time to explore, search, buy, and think.  The only annoying thing now is cleaning my fresh food before I can eat it.  That’s actually what the picture is of at the top of this post.  We Americans use a watered-down bleach water to clean the food for about half an hour then thoroughly rinse and let soak in water for another half an hour.  Not the most fun thing in the world but it’s better than spending your day in the bathroom 🙂

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Filed under Bullet Post, El Salvador, Experiences, Food, World Gospel Mission

New Easter Traditions

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cincuenta y tres días

**I’ve actually hit somewhat of a milestone this weekend! As of March 30, I only have one month left in El Salvador!**

Piñatas and eggs filled with confetti.  That’s what my Easters will consist of from now on.

Here in El Salvador, the big thing to do for Easter is smash dyed eggs filled with confetti on top of people’s heads.  Kids get into it, adults get into it, and you can buy four confetti eggs for a quarter so everyone can afford it.  It’s so much fun that I am officially making it a part of my Easter tradition from now on.

Many of the poorer families here in Jucuapa make and sell the eggs and the kids help.  I wondered what was going on last week when I kept seeing the kids at our church with orange, pink, green, and purple-dyed fingers!  The eggs are really very easy to make.

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To make them, you use real egg shells.  Dye your eggs however you’d like them, then break the top 1/3 of the shell off and remove the egg inside.  Let the egg dry and then fill with confetti (cut up magazines or whatever paper you have around).  Then glue a piece of tissue paper over the hole at the top of the egg.  Voilà!  You now have eggs ready for the smashing!

On Friday, Kaitlin Hawk and I went to the town square to look at the Good Friday morning rugs as they were being created, and met several of the church kids that were selling the eggs with their parents/family.  Not the kids to let an opportunity go by, 5-7 of the kids hammered Kaitlin and I with flower stems and confetti eggs until my hair was successfully a rat’s nest of flower stems and confetti with a little hair to hold it all together.  Not only was there no place to run, we both didn’t have money to buy eggs to get them back!  Not a problem though, Kaitlin and I bought $1.00’s worth of eggs in Alegría and had them ready when we saw them again on Sunday afternoon!

I had one of the team work members take a video of the payback.  The girl that I first got with the confetti egg is Maria.

I got several other kids with the eggs and was having a great time but then one of my other friends, Teresa, got me as a surprise! I, unfortunately, got that one on video as well 🙂

I loved it so much, I want to bring it back to the States with me.  So watch out next Easter! 🙂

And the other fun thing we did on Easter was a piñata!  We did one at the church during the second service for the kids and again in the afternoon during cell group.  The video below shows the little kids swinging at the piñata.  (And the guy who was picking the kids to swing at it is Timmy, one of the pastor’s kids and part of the family who I live with.)

The poor piñata was a little busted after the kids got to it haha.

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So those are two really fun traditions in El Salvador that I wouldn’t mind at all incorporating into Easter in the US!

As for the church service, evangelical churches here don’t make a big deal about Easter because the Catholic church, which is a very large presence in Central America, celebrates it so much and the evangelical churches are trying to show separation from themselves and the Catholic church.  It all seems a little backwards, to not celebrate the Lord’s resurrection as much as I’m used to, but the goal as missionaries is not to be trendsetters, but work with the trends.

I hope you all enjoyed Easter and were able to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection with your own fun traditions!

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Filed under El Salvador, Experiences, Uncategorized, World Gospel Mission

Making Tortillas (The Real Deal)

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cuarenta y tres días

If you know me, you know that I like to cook.

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Whether it’s baking cookies for the staff I work with at the clinic, cinnamon toast crunch cupcakes for ladies’ night at the church, or chicken parmesan for dinner, I enjoy it to the fullest.

But this cooking adventure was a little more than I had taken on before; I was going to be cooking tortillas!!  You may remember from a previous post that Kaitlin was astonished that I had never made tortillas before.  (Imagine that, a gringa that had never actually made tortillas… haha)

Well I’m happy to say that I lived to tell the tale of making tortillas, and I’m here to share with you all how to make them.  (Note: I was told that making tortillas successfully on your first try can usually be described as a “happy accident” since there isn’t much room for error.  So I may not make tortillas again soon so that way I have a long time to boast about how well they turned out haha)

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Step 1: Gather ingredients: flour (5 c), salt (2t), baking powder (2.5t), shortening (.5c), hot water(1.5-2c). (M&M container sitting temptingly close is completely optional.)

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Step 2: Mix ingredients together except for water. Pour the hot water into the flour mixture and mix with your hands.  Be warned that hot water and bare hands do not mix well together so be prepared.  Also, make the process as messy as possible.

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Step 3: Knead dough and let sit for 20 min.

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Step 4: Make 18 balls of dough with the dough and let sit again for 20 min.

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Step 5: Roll the balls of dough out and place immediately on the hot griddle.  (Also, do not be ashamed of your PVC pipe rolling pins.)

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Step 6: Cook tortillas only a few seconds on each side.

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Step 7: Take the tortillas off the griddle and keep warm under a towel or in tortilla warmer until served.

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Step 8: Celebrate amazing, homemade tortillas with a celebratory picture!! (No matter how blurry it may be!)

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Step 9 (optional): Brag (humbly, of course!) to every Salvadorian woman you know that you made tortillas for dinner and be prepared for their response: “Oh good! Now you can get married!” 😉

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Filed under El Salvador, Experiences, Food, World Gospel Mission

Making Tortillas (Or Lack Thereof)

Favorite quote in El Salvador so far: “You don’t know how to make tortillas?!”

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Ha- thanks Kaitlin. As if I didn’t already know I was a gringa 😉

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Filed under El Salvador, Experiences, Friends, World Gospel Mission

Bienvenidos a El Salvador!

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cinco días…

Where in the world do I start?  I have now worked at the clinic for three days, gone to church and other church activities at the local church (Centro Cristiano Familiar), tried the national food (pupusas), started slowly getting used to the heat, gone to the local market and bought breakfast food for the week, struggled with my Spanish skills, and practiced my acting skills when I haven’t understood what they’re saying but just laugh and pretend like I do.

Other random things to mention:

  • There is a rooster that wakes me up every morning right around 7:00 am
  • I work at the clinic from 8am to 5pm every weekday (which makes the rooster wakeup call above quite convenient!)
  • Spanish is still a struggle (and will be the whole time I’m here) but I’m noticing now that I constantly try and translate things that I’m thinking to Spanish, just in case someone asks me a question.
  • Kaitlin, the missionaries’ daughter, and I made chocolate peanut butter cake in coffee mugs last night after dinner.  Two words: chocolate overload!
  • My blonde hair is making quite the impact with the nurses in the clinic.  They love it and talk about how much they would love hair my color.
  • The Hawks (missionary family) have a pet bunny which basically makes this whole trip worth it.  Yesterday I held the bunny like a baby and it actually FELL ASLEEP in my arms.  Best ever!

Now for some pictures from the past five days…

IMG_1870A picture of the clinic and garden outside.

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The Hawk’s pet bunny, Oscar.

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Kaitlin and the mug of delicious peanut butter chocolate cake we made in it.

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Oscar fell asleep in my arms! Love that bunny.

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Gratuitous nursing self picture.

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Panorama view of the nurses’ station and the waiting room in the distance.  (If you click on the picture you can see a larger version.)

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Papaya!  I bought this at the market on Monday as well as fresh green beans, strawberries, avocados,  and bananas.

I also wanted to send out a big thank you to everyone who sent money to WGM to the David V. King Medical Center!  You all are seriously awesome 🙂

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Filed under El Salvador, Experiences, Uncategorized

Labor Day/ Best Weekend Ever at Home

Last weekend, I went home to Charlotte.  And it was perhaps the best weekend home I’ve ever had.  I’d say it was due to the combination that I’d only been in school about 2 weeks so I wasn’t swamped down with homework, it was a three day weekend so I had an extra day to hang out, and we all relaxed and had great conversations.

Last year, it felt like everyone went home for Labor Day weekend so I thought it would fairly easy to find a ride to get home to Charlotte for the weekend this year.  But it was surprisingly harder than I thought.  But Tiffany came to the rescue and her and her car were a huge blessing!

I finally got home after dealing with the ECU/USC football game traffic and got to relax and talk to my mom for about an hour about my future and my wishes for nursing school and my purpose in that, etc.  It’s always nice to share those longings with someone else so you don’t forget about them or hide them and pretend they never existed.  So thanks, Mommy!

That Saturday is honestly a blur to me.  I remember I woke up and went for a run and then went over to Madelyn’s house and enjoyed a wonderfully scrumptious pancake breakfast cooke by Brammie, got my hair cut, and then later that night our neighbors had a cookout for the street.  This is when my memory comes back crystal clear because I was [practically] the only one who who was not under 10 or over 40 years old… Picture me standing there awkwardly with a plate of food in one hand and a drink in the other not sure if I should sit with the adults and deal with forced conversations or head on over to the little kids who were running around like cats and running into walls.

But in reality, it was all good.  I played with the kids for .2 seconds then went to the adults and had some great conversations, especially with my neighbor/the hostess, Heidi, who I always enjoy chatting with and getting her perspective on things.

Side note, and I know this may label me as the creepy teenage-cougar neighbor but if my neighbor’s son was 6 years older (aka not in middle school), I would totally have a crush on him!  Alright, now stop being middle schoolers yourself and stop giggling, but he’s just an awesome kid!  In the course of the entire summer, I don’t think I’ve seen/talked to him at all.  But this weekend we were both in our driveways and he said “Hey, Andrea!  How was your summer?”  I mean, come on.  Don’t tell me that that doesn’t merit the title of “Coolest Middle School Neighbor In the Whole Neighborhood”.

And on a less creepy note…

That Saturday (or Friday) I had mentioned to my mom that I was craving coconut.  And Sunday morning, I woke up to my mom baking me a COCOUNT CREAM PIE!!  Can that woman get a round of applause?!  Because that pie was amazing.  (And I have no shame in admitting that I had some of it for breakfast.)

And after church, we all came home and enjoyed the rest of the pie along with great conversation.  I really appreciate my parents being transparent about their faith, decisions, experiences, life because it shows me they trust me to handle it all.  It’s also amazing how much a year away at college can change your perspective on things.  Tears were shed, and it could not have been better.

And then I can’t really remember what we did until that night when my mom, dad, and I went to a nearby putting green and putted for about an hour.

 

And my favorite shot from the night:

My mom had just won the putting round and was very excited about it.  Aren’t they cute together?!

And for the record, my dad and I tied with 5 points each and my mom had 1 point…  At least I got her 1 point on camera. 🙂

And Monday (I promise I’m wrapping this up soon), I went to breakfast with Meredith to meet Stefan!  It’s crazy because I had just seen Stefan 3 weeks earlier in Serbia!  But it was so nice to see him at Panera and hear about his time in America.  Goodness I love Serbians!!!

And after that, I went home and enjoyed a lunch of quesadillas and leftover pie and conversation about a longing for changed hearts in the world and our country.  Gosh, I love my family.

And that was my Labor Day weekend!  Well, not exactly… Meredith and I did get roped into some manual labor at some point in the weekend and I got to snap this picture of Meredith.  You’re welcome. 🙂

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Filed under Experiences, Family, Life

I’m Learning Serbian

There’s nothing better you can do as a foreigner than learning the language of the country you’re in.  People respond to you better, they smile bigger, it relieves tension when you don’t know each other’s languages, and it’s hilarious for you when you get to confuse them by speaking their language.

Case in point: Serbian.  During the almost 8 hour drive back to Paracin, Serbia from Polichrono, Greece, Dina taught me several phrases that I’ve been memorizing.  Although, after being around Serbians for a week now (and having one live with us for a year) means I already knew a couple of phrases.  But the ones Dina’s teaching me now are much more fun!

Last night, after we arrived in Paracin, Dina and I went out to meet her friends.  They were all so nice and willing to talk in English for me and for that I am so grateful.  And so I gave them a present by saying all the phrases I know one after another.  I bet it sounded hilarious because they were all laughing and hugging me and having a good time.

By practicing my Serbian like that (really?! “practicing my Serbian” sounds so official haha) I felt like a parrot saying everything back, a dog being rewarded, and a little girl just learning to talk all mixed together.  But I really don’t mind because I’m enjoying giving them back a little of what they’ve given me.

Here are the phrases I now know how to say:

  • izvini – excuse me
  • zbogom – goodbye
  • da – yes
  • ne – no
  • možda – maybe
  • hvala – thank you
  • dobro došli – welcome
  • Kako si? – How are you?
  • Ja sam dobro. – I am good. (Ja sam = I am)
  • Živeli! – Cheers!
  • Laku noć – good night
  • Dobro jutro – good morning
  • prijatno – have a good meal (like “bon apetit”)
  • ajde – come on/let’s go
  • Ja sam loša. – I am bad. (bad behavior)
  • Ja sam dobra. – I am good. (good behavior)
  • Nisam – I am not (ex: Nisam dobra – I am not good)
  • molim lepo – you’re welcome
  • čudo moje = my miracle
  • lepo – good
  • Srećan rodjendan – happy birthday
  • Ovo je čudo. – This is a miracle.

I try and memorize them all so I can spit them off when the conversation calls for it but I can’t do it as well as I would like.  I know it’s just part of learning another language but usually I have half of the phrases floating in my head at any given time and when one phrase leaves, another one comes in so I never know which ones I can say.

But I love that I can say a little in Serbian- I even impressed Dina’s grandmother by telling her “good morning”, “how are you”, “maybe”, and “this is a miracle” this morning when I met her.

I love Serbia.

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Filed under Experiences, Serbia, Vacations

Serbia and Greece Trip: Day 7/8

Smells of Greece:

  • tanning oil
  • Marlboro cigarettes (no, I don’t smoke but everyone else does)
  • wonderful home cooked meals from the balconies around ours
  • crepes with chocolate and ice cream
  • the salty air
  • a wonderful coffee in the morning
  • the warm, refreshing air when you wake up from siesta
  • coffee coffee coffee
  • that smell after the rain
Sounds of Greece:
  • Greek, Serbian, Romanian, English, and French conversations everywhere
  • a mixture of music from all over the world the whole day on the beach
  • Serbian karaoke at night
  • plates being put on the table on the balcony at breakfast (10:00am), lunch (4:00), and dinner (8:00)
  • children running around in their bathing suits at all times of the day
  • men yelling out “donuts” in three languages (Greek, Serbian, English) on the beach
  • club music at night
  • the lapping of water against you when you swim in the sea
  • thunder and heavy raindrops slapping the tiles on the balcony on Sain Ilija day
  • Random songs played on my computer while Dina and I dance along like maniacs
Vidimo se!

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Filed under Bullet Post, Experiences, Greece, Vacations

Thank You’s Are In Order

If you read my blog in the past two weeks (or you can look back at it here, here, here, and here if you haven’t) then you’ve read about me going to the beach with a family I’ve babysat/known for the past 7ish years.  We went to Litchfield Beach and stayed at a house with so much beach inspired home decorating that I was just busting at the seams dreaming of my future home/apartment/dorm room.  There was a pool and porch and rocking chairs and we were only about one block from the beach.  The house was great, but the reason I enjoyed this trip so much more than I could put into words is because of the level of comfort, love, respect, and fun that I received from the Boltzes.

Here’s a picture of the family (minus Brammie- Madelyn and Jeremy’s grandma).  From left to right it’s Mark, Madelyn, Aileen, and Jeremy.

And here’s a picture of Brammie and Jeremy (and a random kid) riding on a golf cart after someone offered us a ride back to the house after seeing the turtles and alligators at the pond (way) down the street.

In honor of the Boltz family and the wonderful time I had two weeks ago, I want this post to be a big (read: long) thank you for allowing me to become part of their family even for just one week.  So here you go, Boltz family; a thank you letter to every family member, put online for the world to see how amazing you guys are (and maybe to convince my friends why I raved so much about this trip).

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Hey Aileen-

I want to thank you for all those late night talks we were able to have.  I loved the “can-do” attitude you’ve got.  Sometimes I tend to think “it’s lost” rather than seeing it like you do and thinking “we’ll find it” and it was a good reminder that I need to look at all aspects of life, little and small, with that open attitude.

I also loved hearing about you and the books you’ve read.  I love that you’re reading a book on how to raise a gentleman and are willing to work at being the best mom you can be.  Because you’re already a pretty darn amazing mom.

You’re also so patient and I love how you turn nasty stuff like a bonked head into a positive situation (as much as you can) with stuff like “now why isn’t the tv on?” and “well I bet you’ll learn something in karate to help that”…

Thanks for ‘ooh’-ing and ‘ahh’-ing with me when I showed you my favorite blog ever, Young House Love (and my own humble blog).  Now I know when I get my own place exactly who to turn to when I need someone to bounce home improvement and decorating ideas off of.  I also loved shopping around with you and Brammie that one day- l.o.v.e. the beachy decorating vibe.

And I have to give you a big shoutout for taking the initiative and planning my future out for me.  Moving to San Diego, living in a military family’s house while they’re overseas, getting a nursing job, and having you guys come visit me (and I guess Brian while you’re there, might as well) sounds like the perfect plan!

I can’t thank you enough for spotting my mom and I walking on the bike path about 7 years ago when I was only 12 and asked me to babysit.  I’ve loved every moment since then.

***AND you are sooo amazing for never making me change a stinky diaper.  I am forever indebted to you.***

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Hi Mark-

First off, I want to apologize for my ‘girly’ football throw.  I can totally throw better than that but with the wind, water, and kids to watch out for, my technique slipped a little.  Not to worry, I’ll practice and prove I can actually throw a football soon.  But really, thanks for throwing the football with me.  It was nice to play a “grown-up” game- even for just 20 minutes.

Speaking of grown-up games, it was also nice having another Wimbledon buff in the house.  While I didn’t recognize half of the people playing in Wimbledon, I loved watching the Federer vs. Tsonga match with you even if it was painful watching Federer lose.  (Side note: I found this article about Federer losing and his great career and I think it’s beautifully written.)

In father/daughter news, it was just about the coolest thing seeing you brag about Madelyn to everyone about how put together and calm she was when she got stung by the jellyfish in the midst of a huge wave.  Such a proud papa.

Just like I’m indebted to Aileen for not making me change poopy diapers, I am indebted to you for saving me from doing that bucket race in the Pirates Voyage show.  You, sir, were a true gentleman for not making me run around on the stage in my dress carrying buckets of water with holes in the bottom.  Couldn’t look like that in front of the flirty waiter, now, could I? 😉

I also appreciate all the worrying you did before the trip about me sleeping in the same room as the kids.  Yeah, they woke me up, but you saved me a couple of days and got them out of the room while I tried to wrap my brain around the concept of the numbers “7” : “4” and “5” put together in that order.

Overall, I want to thank you for everything last week- meals, house, tennis, beach, pool, movies, fun…  You keep asking me if I liked the trip and if I would ever do it again.  Well here’s my answer: YES I loved it and YES I would do it again.  And it’s all thanks to you and your family being so amazingly awesome.

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Hiya Brammie,


It was such a joy to get to know you better last week.  From walks on the beach and shopping at local stores to early morning chats in the kitchen/sunroom, I enjoyed all of our talks and adventures.

Aside from my own grandma (you know how it is, haha), you’re the coolest grandma that I’ve ever met.  I just love your Italian ways and big huge heart.  I know Madelyn has a lot of energy but you do a great job of keeping up with her.  Your handstands in the pool will attest to that.

First, I want to thank you for taking me/us to the Pirates Voyage show.  SO hilarious and overwhelming and unforgettable.  And we got a ton of chicken out of it (literally!).

But on a more serious note, I also want to thank you for waking me up that morning to ask if I wanted to walk on the beach with you.  That you would ask me after we left it unresolved the night before meant a lot.  I’m just glad my brain eventually woke up enough to get past my lame (yet hilarious) “I’ve already walked on the beach” comment and got me out of bed.

I’m also thankful you told me about Madelyn asking you about my bible and notebook in the sunroom.  I’ve been praying for her (and all you guys too) since she is, after all, my twin (but 12 years younger).

And how could I not thank you for the most wonderful present of the week- the passport wallet.  I was totally not expecting it (you’re so sneaky) and want to thank you so much.  I’ll be sure to take a picture of it when I travel through Europe in a couple of weeks.

I’m so glad that me coming on the trip was so helpful for you and the rest of the family because I loved it.

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JJ!

You are such a sweetheart, Jeremy.  I was so glad to get to know you more this week cause you are definitely worth getting to know.  Wanna know what I found out?  You’re laid back but passionate about certain things, you have a knack for melting girls’ hearts, you totally care about helping others (and the clams on the beach), and know how to make people laugh.

My favorite time of the whole trip with you was when we “saved” the clams.  It was just you and I on the beach and everyone else was jumping waves (later to find out they were jumping in jellyfish infested waves).  I dug a little into the sand and showed you the clams that Madelyn and I had collected for hours before.  After putting them on the sand to see their colors, you immediately got concerned for the clams because they weren’t home in the sand.  (“Clams go home.”)  You were so concerned that you tried poking them back into the sand with your fingers until I showed you that if you pour some water on them and make the sand soft then they could go under on their own.  After that, I dug up clams and you “saved” them by running back and forth into the ocean with your bucket to get water.  You were so happy when you saw them climbing back into the sand on their own and you were sad for the clams when they just sat there on the sand.  We eventually saved all the clams thanks to your huge heart and many trips back to the ocean to fill up your bucket.

Although that story definitely shows the more compassionate and “grown-up” side of you, you’re still in the midst of the terrible threes.  I’m sure you’ll grow out of it soon though and then you’ll just be the mellow, fun-loving kid you are.

Thank you so much for suffering through a week of sleeping in the ‘Cave of Wonders’ so I could sleep on the bed.  You were a trooper and I appreciate it.

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Hi Madelyn,

I’m pretty sure that I could write 135 posts about you and I still couldn’t say how truly awesome you are.  But I’m going to try and fit a lot of it in this one letter and I can always add on later.

You are: my younger sister/twin (in heart), compassionate to the nth degree, so in touch with yourself and your emotions, the best big sister anyone could ask for, hilarious, brave, encouraging, talkative, curious about people/relationships/the world, brave, headstrong, artsy, so fun to be around, and a girl after my own heart.

You have a special place in my heart, Madelyn.  When I say you’re my twin, I say it because you are all the things I was at your age.  I can just tell that you’re going to continue to grow up into such a wonderful lady and you’ve got a great family and friends to help you do that.

I had so much fun hanging out with you at the beach, Madelyn.  Waking me up at 8:00 am with a squeaky bunk bed, wave jumping at the beach every day for a couple of hours, comparing freckles one day after the beach, watching The Parent Trap together, talking about my notebook, burying me in the sand (with boob towers!), making videos and playing computer games together (just so you know, here are the links to the jelly game and sugar sugar), and just talking about anything and everything that we could come up with were highlights of my trip.

And although those were all highlights of my trip, my most favorite memory with you was when Mommy and I were laying on the boogie boards in the pool and you pulled us around while we talked for at least an hour.  The foot massages, sun shading, and absolute love you showed me that afternoon has stuck with me now and probably forever.

I love you so much, Madelyn!  We better stay pen pals while I’m at UNC 😉

—————————————-

Katie-

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of you but here’s a picture of a friend Aileen and Jeremy found for you while at the beach.

I know you weren’t at the beach with us but I want to let you know I’m thinking and praying for you while you’re recovering from ACL surgery!  You’re such a sweet dog and I can’t wait to see you run around as fast as you can again!

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Filed under Experiences, Thankful, Vacations

In the Wake of Finals

I am so glad to be back to blogging.  Some people have told me how they’ve missed my regular posts and that has been such an encouragement to me, especially during finals when I felt like every word I read and every problem I solved took me farther away from human life and more towards being a walking talking drone of a human that liked to solve how much acid was in a solution when you add a pinch of salt or discuss how in the world the animals in my backyard evolved from bottom-feeders millions of years ago.

So now that I’m done with finals, I’m glad to forget about them.  But not for another hour because I’m about to try and blog about my entire freshman year.

Well… probably not.  But I want to blog at least about finals week and then this summer I’ll drop some posts about freshman year highlights.  I don’t know specifics of who reads my blog (so leave me a comment!) but I’d like to think there might be some people who are going to college next year and I’d love to give one person’s insight about finals as well as share a little bit of whatever comes to my mind about school in general.

I had a hard time naming this post mainly because I was so emotional about this whole semester.  What the Heck Just Happened the Last Two Weeks?!, Why Doesn’t It Seem Anyone Else is Struggling?, WHY AM I ALWAYS SO STRESSED?!  Finals just seemed to be the cherry on top of my already stressful hypothetical ice cream sundae.  And if finals were the cherry on top, chemistry 102 was the frozen gummie bears that nobody likes to eat because they’re hard and disgusting and not worth it.

But I’ll talk about chemistry in just a sec.  First, I want to tell you about the sprinkles of my ice cream sundae finals week …er, finals month.  In reality, I had already taken four finals before finals week even began.  I was in two labs- chemistry and biology- and those finals were a month before regular classes.  Add that to my english presentation and fitness class final that were both the week before finals and I had already finished four of my seven finals coming in.

So I guess you could call it a blessing that I only had three exams during finals week compared to the possible seven that I could have had.  But it was still a lot to process.

The hardest part of it for me was that I had worked so hard this semester and for a lot of classes it wasn’t showing.  I was fighting for a C in chemistry and had already gotten a C+ in bio lab.  What. a. bummer.  I studied for five days straight for my chemistry final, knowing I had everything to lose by not passing, and by the end of studying, I had read “acid”, “titration”, and “enthalpy” so many times I’m pretty sure I dreamed one night that I was on Survivor and one of the challenges to keep me on the island was to create a 500 mL buffer solution with a pH of 6.2 using NH4 and NH3+.

Come noon last Thursday, I was feeling more confident about this test than any of the past chemistry tests (they way it should have been).  I went to the review session two days before and my teacher had told us that our final would be 60 multiple choice and 10 free response questions but shouldn’t take the whole three hours to complete- such a relief.  Fast forward two days and three hours to the end of the final and nearly the entire class of 250 left without completing the test and looking like someone just played a really mean April Fools joke on them.  (By the way, the average on the final was a 66.  Yeah, he made that the most impossible chemistry test any of us could have asked for.)

But by the grace of God I managed to get just high enough of a grade on the final to get a C- in chemistry which means that I PASSED!!! That’s all I could have asked for given my dedication to the class the whole semester despite all the stress and frustration that came along with it.  And as for biology, my other mammoth final, I have yet to find out what I got in there but I’m thinking I did well!

Now that finals are done and I’m able to relax at home, I wanted to share with you guys some reminders that really helped me through finals and the “aftermath.”

  • At least I’m struggling at a great school.
  • Chemistry is well known to be one of the staple “weed out” classes and at least it shows that they make it much harder class than it should be. (So essentially I took an already difficult class but now it’s on crack.)
  • I’ll have great stories to tell my children.
  • College is hard.
That last bullet has really been driven in my mind this semester.  There’s a reason why businesses go to UNC to hire new employees and why I regarded people who graduated from UNC “geniuses.”  The main thought that I’m leaving this semester (and freshman year) with is that I have the amazing opportunity to attend college.  And not even college, but the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Yes, it’s stressful, and yes I’ve complained so much this semester, and yes, the thought of transferring colleges might have popped into my mind a couple times this past month, but I don’t want to leave UNC and I certainly don’t want to leave the wonderful people I’ve met.  So as awful as this semester may have been, I’m grateful that I have people in my life that remind me that I’m getting a great education and if college was too enjoyable that would mean it was too easy.
All in all, I wish I was less of a stressful person and didn’t internalize so much of my stress to the point where I get hives every time finals come around (that really happens) but it’s a learning process and reminding myself of the points above have really helped me.
And that, my friends, is the story of how I survived finals.
And now, please enjoy some more photos from my freshman year.  I apologize if the other photos from this post have confused anyone; they have nothing to do with what I was talking about, I just thought this would be a good post to put several photos from freshman year together.  I guess you can say this post is like an oreo baked inside a chocolate chip cookie; you think they’re good enough by themselves and then you try mixing them and it just blows your mind!
Note to self: must make oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies sometime this summer…

Chocolately awesomeness photo and recipe found here.  

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Filed under Experiences, UNC, Uncategorized