Monday, April 29, 2013

Sunshine Break

It snows in New England. A lot. And we have never really been winter people. My dad always used to tease me about how wimpy I was about the cold - and Caitlin has San Diego blood, so she is even more of a wimp than me. So when a snowstorm passed through Vermont two weeks before spring break, we decided we needed a sunshine break - so we bought tickets to visit Ben down in Orlando. We found really cheap flights going out of Rhode Island (which is about 2.5 hours away) - but we figured we could save a few hundred dollars by traveling out there, so why not?
We got to the airport really early (like you're supposed to) and the airport was empty, which was so strange because our flight left at 1:00 or something. Turns out, there aren't a lot of people that live in Rhode Island, so the airport isn't terribly busy. But we got VIP service while we were there. EVERYONE was so friendly to us. The security guards were joking with us and having a good time. And even though our flight was delayed, the people at the gate were having fun. They were playing Yankees/Red Sox trivia for free upgrades on the flight. We don't know anything about baseball, so we lost - but they were great at engaging everyone and keeping us happy while waiting.  After sitting in the airport for a few hours, we noticed that there was an arcade right across the terminal from where we were sitting (clearly we are not observant) so we went to play our luck at the crane game. First try, caitlin snags this beauty

When we finally got to Orlando, we were so excited to see Ben. It had been way too long! He picked us up from the airport and gave us a tour of some of the Disney resorts (which were amazing) and he drove us all over the place. We were completely lost the entire time and were so grateful for an amazing tour guide. 
The next day he got us into Epcot, and we were able to spend the entire day taking in the sunshine and fun attractions that Disney World has to offer. 

We built a car and raced it.

We rode a ton of rides.

We experienced a little of Mexico, Norway, Canada, France, Morocco, United Kingdom, China, Germany, and Italy in the World Showcase, and even ate our way around the globe. Appetizers in China, Japan, and Morocco. The main course in the UK. And dessert in France. Best way to understand a culture is to eat it's food, right? 

Enjoying Norwegian traditions.

We went on 3D rides, which were all very educational.

We also went to an underwater adventure thing. Not really sure what it was called, but they had manatee! I love those animals. I am fascinated with how calm and peaceful they are. I'm also slightly terrified of how massive they are. 

Most of all - we enjoyed spending time outside soaking up the sun.

In the evening, Ben met up with us and toured around the parts of the park we weren't able to see during the day. Then he took us to pick up our rental car and said goodbye. We tried to convince him to take time off work and hang out with us more, but he wanted to save those vacation days for his honeymoon. Seems so selfish, doesn't it? :)

We went to Universal Studios on our third day in Orlando. I don't know if we would've gone to Universal if they didn't have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - but that was a must see on our list, so we spent a full day enjoying the park (and mainly hanging out in Hogsmead). 
Of course we got our picture taken with a Hogwarts Express conductor. He was thrilled to see us too!
Seeing everything in real life was surreal. Hogwarts was huge! And we walked the streets of Hogsmead and visited all the shops from the books. Honeydukes, Zonkos, Olivanders. It was really like a dream for Harry Potter nerds (like us). 

We got to ride a dragon while at Harry Potter world, and the queue had amazing views of the castle. It was all themed around the Goblet of Fire. We rode that ride twice. There was another ride inside the castle which was phenomenal. We absolutely loved it. The queue for that ride took you through the castle, had portraits that spoke to you and really made you feel like you were at Hogwarts. 

At the entrance to Hogwarts.
And of course, a trip to Harry Potter would not have been complete without a little bit of Butterbeer.

We did other things in Universal too. We went to Jurassic Park, the comic book stuff, and some other great fun rides. But for some reason we didn't take any pictures anywhere else. Probably because we got soaking wet on a few of the rides and didn't feel like pulling out the camera from our backpack. Or maybe it was just because we really only went to experience the Harry Potter stuff. :)

Lastly we went to the beach! My old roommate Dave Borchard is from the Orlando area, so I called his mom to get directions to a good beach that wouldn't be too crowded. She gave us great directions and we loved spending a few hours on the beach. Caitlin really needed some beach time since the only time we have been to the beach in the past year was Maine in January and San Diego in November. We needed some warm beach time. 

We even got in the water at the beach. Not over our heads, but up past our waist. We weren't about to go swimming then going through airport security. 

And of course, what trip would be complete without a jumping picture? 

And the 10 second magic of photoshop gives us a perfectly timed jumping picture together. 

And lastly, we drove by the temple. We didn't go inside since we were in beach clothes and had to go catch a plane, but we wanted to see it before we left. 

This was such an amazing vacation. I am so glad we decided to go. I think it energized us for the rest of the bleak winter in Vermont. And maybe it even introduced spring to New England. It is starting to get warm, and I'm pretty sure there are green things growing on the trees. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

We Are Moving To...

Trying to find a practicum has become a stressful endeavor for many of the students at my school. Yet I have been extremely excited to see the possibilities out there in the world, and I rejoice every time I hear of the offers that my peers have received. 

Caitlin and I were lucky enough to receive an offer to work with an organization in southern Mexico and Guatemala called Natik. They are an NGO that works to alleviate poverty in marginalized communities in Chiapas, Mexico and Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. I will be working in their educational support as well as monitoring and evaluation. They are also helping Caitlin find opportunities teaching English and working in a women's clinic. We are extremely excited to be working with them for the next year or so. We will be leaving in September, and hopefully will make a trip out to see our families before we flee the country. 

In the meantime, we are familiarizing ourselves with what Natik does and how we can help. They are running a Mother's Day fundraiser that helps support many of the mother's who participate in their programs. You can read all about the fundraiser here. Basically, if you donate to Natik, you are supporting our work down there as well. It's like a win-win situation! 

So this means that our time is running out in Vermont. Come and visit ASAP! Or start planning a trip to Mexico. We love being tour guides. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Yvonne

A few weeks ago one of our best friends here in Vermont celebrated her birthday with a black tie party. We normally don't make it out to the parties since we are not drinkers, and we prefer smaller, more intimate settings. But we knew we couldn't miss Yvonne's birthday. So we got dressed up in some fancy type clothes (or at least as fancy as we could find in our closet) and went to party it up with half of my campus. It's crazy to think, but we have been here for 8 months and we hardly have any pictures with our friends. But I promise, we do have friends at SIT. Here are a few pictures from the evening:

Karin (on the left) was the parties hostess, and she did an amazing job at getting out invitations and preparing all sorts of amazing foods for the party. 

Nissa helped serve cupcakes, and it seems like Rebekkah really enjoyed the service. :)

The birthday girl.

We tried to get pictures with a handful of people before we left (since we have no pictures with anyone) but we weren't all that successful. But there was one guest who took pictures of everyone in a sort of photo booth style. Here is our beautiful picture from the party.

We were really glad we went to the party - and maybe we'll attend another before the end of the semester. Although, with all the homework keeping me busy, I'm not sure we'll be able to find the time!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Easter Traditions

On Easter, we decided to continue with our yearly tradition of dying eggs and eating a delicious ham dinner. This year, however, we decided we should have some friends over to join in the fun. Our friends Nicole and Sean came to have dinner and enjoyed a festive night of dying eggs as well. We absolutely loved it! 

We love to use crayons to draw all over our eggs before we dye them. Sean and Nicole had never done this before, so we had great fun teaching them the ways of the Graves family. :)

Here are our finished products. We tried dying a few eggs with cracked shells to see how the egg would look dyed (you can see the two without their shells). We love having colorful eggs! We ate them for breakfast on Monday morning. :)

We will be having many more adventures with Nicole and Sean (hopefully) before we finish school in 6 weeks. 6 weeks! I can hardly believe it! I am getting so excited!!!