High 5 For Friday!

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If you’re excited it’s Friday, raise your hand!!! *hand raised* This week has been a long one, and I’ve been battling a sore throat/beginnings of a cold all week! I’m so ready for a relaxing weekend, and catching up with friends!

 

1. The wedding of a dear college friend last weekend was simply beautiful. Everything about it was a perfect reminder of His love. I’m so happy for the newlyweds! (And it snowed on Saturday, so it made it extra beautiful!)

2. A night of worship & prayer at the Summit was just what I needed to start my week! And a Cook-Out run afterwards with fun friends and talking in the car while munching on hushpuppies … priceless!

3. Finding out that my alma mater was ranked 2nd in the nation for best professors was pretty neat. That story was all over my newsfeed on Facebook!

4. I bought a domain and am in the process of getting things set up with my NEW blog. Remember last week’s issue? Yep. I took care of that pronto. Stay tuned for news on the new URL next week! :)

5. A sick day was just what I needed. Complete with a green tea frappuccino to help my sore throat!

 

There were lots of other highlights from the week, that you can find on twitter: veggie burger at Bull McCabe’s, lunch with Ash, supporting Sevenly, seeing Robin Roberts back on GMA, cuddling with a puppy, watching a Hitchcock film (Foreign Correspondent),  and making weekend plans. Yep, this week has been a good one!

Link up with Lauren and share your top 5 from this week!

 

High 5 For Friday

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It’s SO hard to narrow down my top 5 favorites from this week! Looking back through the pictures* I’ve taken on my cell phone, I’m reminded of how blessed I am. May I never forget that.

1. Family. Spending time with my little cousins is priceless and even if they’re sometimes annoying, I love them to pieces! Autumn is such a sweetheart and is always so loving towards me. Every time I say bye to her, she squeezes me, kisses my cheek, and says, “you’re in my heart, Mere Mere.”

2. Spending time in the Word. Early mornings with coffee and my Bible are my favorites!

3. Exploring The Golden Belt area downtown and taking lots of pictures with Britt! (More to come on that later!)

4. Pad Thai and lunch with fun coworkers. We definitely had a case of the giggles yesterday and laughed throughout lunch.

5. My Valentine’s Day was truly great. My student cancelled class (I think he had a date!) so I went home to workout, eat leftovers, take a hot bath, and then watch Casablanca while chowing down on chocolates. Who needs flowers and a significant other? ;) (although I do love flowers)

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*as I was editing this post earlier and trying to upload pictures, I found out that I have exceeded the 3GB of space that WordPress allows for free blogs. Now I’m torn between buying more space on here, or buying a domain. My biggest problem is that I have NO idea what I would (re)name my blog/domain! HELP!

Daily Prompt: Proud

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For me, words of affirmation are big. They rank as my second top love language, both on the receiving and reciprocating end.

Being told “thank you” is one of my favorite things to hear. No matter what that “thank you” is for, I always feel good knowing that in some way I’ve helped someone out. And in the same way, I like letting people know I’m thankful for something they’ve done. I haven’t been too good about doing that lately, but I’m going to make more of an effort in the future!

Another thing that I enjoy hearing, but that doesn’t happen too often, is the phrase “I’m proud of you.” 

When I was in college, I would get that phrase a lot- in an email from my parents, in a text from a friend, and every now and then I would hear it from someone at church. I liked knowing that people were proud of what I was doing. It didn’t give me a big head, but reassured me that I had people in my corner supporting me in my studies and life choices. 

Now that I’m a “big girl” in the world, that phrase isn’t heard much. I know my parents and family are proud of me for the things I’ve accomplished, but sometimes it would be nice hearing it. Just this past Sunday when I was visiting my grandma in the nursing home, she was blabbing on and on about her wonderful grandchildren and how proud of them she was. When she introduced me to her roommate, beaming, she said, “and this is my lovely granddaughter Meredith who I’m so proud of!” Although half the time she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, that time I felt like she really did… like she really was proud of me. And it made me smile on the inside and outside

That simple phrase “I’m proud of you” can carry so much weight, and can really turn things around for someone. I don’t know about you, but I want to make an effort to use it more often to encourage the people around me. Whether it’s for something education or vocation related, or even something as simple as being proud of your little brother for cleaning the bathroom ;) 

When was the last time someone told you they were proud of you? 

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Valentine’s

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Happy Valentine’s Day! (or Singles Awareness Day, whichever you prefer to celebrate.) 

I’ve never been a huge lover of this holiday, but it definitely has grown on me in the past few years. It doesn’t have to be all about couples, ya know? You can celebrate this day by simply showing others you care… coworkers, your favorite barista, family, a student, friends.

This year I stepped up my non-existant game and sent out some cards to friends, and baked cookies to share at work with students and staff! It feels good having people thank you for something as simple as a card or cookie. (And I’m a sucker for snail mail.)

I put together a playlist this morning with some of my favorite love songs, and it’s been playing all day. It all started with listening to my Frank Sinatra soundtrack while baking last night- that man’s voice is like no other!

Recognize that first song? It’s from Casablanca. My one and only Valentine’s Day tradition (since 2008) has been watching that film. I plan on doing so tonight, while munching on some chocolates (thanks Padre!). My Valentine’s Days have always been super low key, and I really don’t mind it.

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What are your Valentine’s Day traditions?

Bridge Over Troubled Water

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Although I had seen images of it my whole life, nothing prepared me for seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person. It is massive! I guess that’s how lots of things go- pictures are just not able to do them justice. I can’t wait until the days I can finally see Macchu Picchu, the Millau Viaduct, Petra, or the Cherry Blossoms in Japan with my own two eyes and mark them off my list! Of course my long-awaited trip to California allowed me to knock a few things off that list, one of them being the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sit back and enjoy the view, but believe me when pictures can’t really do justice to this brobdingnagian bridge

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First picture

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Longtime chums finally at the Bridge!
For the record- the sun was blinding so our faces look rather comical.

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I love sun glare photos

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Lenticular art that showed the progress of the bridge through the years

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Ashley and I spent a few hours taking pictures, walking nearly all the way across the bridge, and wandering around the gift shop. It was definitely a fun little half-day trip while in San Francisco, and the views were priceless!

Have you ever been to the Golden Gate Bridge? 

High 5 For Friday

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I could get used to this weekly post: it’s quick, simple, and allows me to remember the things that really made my week stand out!

1. A haircut! I made quite the spur-of-the-moment decision and got a good 6 inches chopped off! It feels amazing and I really like it!

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bathroom mirror picture. sorry, y’all.

2. Spanish. I’ve gotten to practice a lot this week with helping register new ESOL students, and it’s been a learning experience! I’m trying to up my game so I can be an interpreter on a mission trip to Peru this summer!

 

3. This song. 10,00 Reasons by Matt Redman.

 

4. Ordering a small green tea soy latte and ending up getting a large!

 

5. Tonight I’m going to dinner with some dear friends from college and I.can’t.wait!!! When those two are around, a good time is sure to be had.We’re trying a new place in Raleigh, and I’ve already been drooling over the menu debating what to order!

 

What were your top 5 moments from this week? Link up here!

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Passion for Literacy

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I thought it might be kind of interesting? fun? different? this month to share a few things I’m passionate about, since it is the “Month of Love” and all.

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Today, you get a dose of something I have recently become passionate about- literacy.

I never realized how important literacy was within my community or how passionate I am about literacy until last year. (As if my degree in Linguistics & Spanish didn’t give it away…)

I moved back home from school in December 2011 and started seeking ways to get involved in the ESOL community. My project for Senior Seminar was a whole proposal as to how I would start up an ESOL program in Durham.  I figured volunteering would be the perfect way to practice my Spanish while building relationships and helping people…and getting my foot in the door of the ESOL community. When I found the perfect volunteer opportunity the following month, I made a super last-minute decision (remember how I crave quick changes?) to switch from teaching ESOL to teaching Adult Literacy- basic literacy skills to adults who had never learned to read or write. I was trained, matched with a student, and started teaching him phonics all within a two-week period.

Those two weeks were eye-opening as I met a man in his 50’s who had never learned to read or write. Only his ex-wife knew about his illiteracy, and he was determined to keep it a secret from everyone else he knew. This man had gone through the public education system in Barbados, moved to the States, had multiple handyman jobs, all while not know how to read something as simple as a street sign. It was mind-blowing that someone could go that long without being able to write a birthday card, fill out an application, or order from a menu that didn’t have pictures.

The beginning was a struggle for him- learning the sounds of letters and putting them together to create a word was almost like learning a foreign language. We worked with letter tiles, flash cards, sound cards, reading lists, and despite all the repetition of words like “sad” “rat” “mat” “mad” “sat” he would still struggle.

One day, after a few weeks, everything clicked for him. He began tapping out words and hearing them right away, reading words off a list correctly, and writing sentences just as I dictated them.I

Sure, each new sound had its issues. After he was comfortable with “i” I brought “e” into the mix, and we were stuck reviewing and reinstating the differences between the two sounds although they sometimes come in the same environments. (like “rid” & “red”) A few weeks ago when I introduced the “th” digraph, I’m pretty sure he hated me. Because of his thick accent, he just couldn’t hear the “th” in words like “with” “thin” “thick” “math” “Beth.” We’re still reviewing the sound, and he’s getting better with more practice, and of course I know he’ll master it soon!

I teach my student using the Wilson Reading System. It’s a very structured system and lesson plan, that allows around an hour for instruction time, and thirty minutes at the end for controlled reading, worksheets, etc. I’ve always had a hard time coming up with something to work on for the last bit of the lesson- my student mainly just wants to sit and talk. While planning a lesson back in September, I picked up a phonetically controlled book, Dad and Sam, on a whim. I thought I could let my student give it a try. Long story short, (but you can read the story here) he read the book. By himself. We both cried.

There’s something so powerful about literacy, and sharing that gift is priceless. 

I’m so thankful for literacy, and that I have a passion for it. I’m also lucky that the position I currently have is one that allows me to spread the word about the importance of literacy and help people who need it. It opens so many doors for people- academically, emotionally, professionally- and it’s priceless! Not a day goes by that I don’t use my literacy skills in some way or another, and I can’t imagine someone not being able to do the things I can do because of a lack of literacy. A week ago it was National Literacy Action Week, and it was exciting spreading the word about literacy!!

What are some things you are passionate about? Are you passionate about literacy?

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Save Me, San Francisco

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It’s almost been a month since my return from California, and I have yet to type up all the adventures that were had. I guess part of me felt that sharing those moments will stir up all sorts of memories from the trip that are embedded in my mind, and only leave me heartbroken that I’m in North Carolina and not California.

But alas, for my sake and the sake of auld lang syne, here are some images and happenings from the first few days in San Francisco!

 

 

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Walking shoes on and ready to explore!

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Union Square

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at the Chinatown Gate!

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I like this shot

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contrasting architecture

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busy streets

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My last name is an alley!

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alleyway map

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fortune cookie factory!

This fortune cookie factory is kind of off the beaten path, but is a definite tourist find. I mean, who doesn’t love fortune cookies? The space is tiny, so be prepared to squeeze in for a look at the cookie-making process! They charge $1 for a picture, and the bags of fresh cookies are cheap and delicious! They would make a cute souvenir… if you can resist temptation to eat them yourself!

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Am I the only person who always takes pictures of signs?

 

Once Ashley & I figured out how to get to Fisherman’s Wharf, it became our stomping ground- going there to grab In-N-Out, going into those cheap-o stores (that we I, like any tourist, couldn’t get enough of), simply walk around, or go to Starbucks. We felt comfortable there, as we knew where things were, and where to go to catch the bus we needed! :)

 

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battleship + birds

 

 

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Alcatraz from Pier 39

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the sign says it all

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I loved the boats in the Bay… so photogenic!

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The Golden Gate Bridge from Pier 39

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It makes quite the statement, no?

Because San Francisco was so chilly and I didn’t pack enough layers, I was constantly holding and drinking coffee! Not so great for my budget, but if it kept me warm, who cares? Seriously, I consumed so much coffee just to help warm me up!

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Coffee and the Bay

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Meeting the locals!

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That sky & that water? Loved it!

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These full-time sun-bathers sure do have the life!

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The sun starting to go down leaves the Bay in shadow

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row upon row upon row

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“when the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the Bay…”

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Ghirardelli

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One day, Ashley and I went to Pier 39 and walked around. I think we went into at least half the stores (mainly trying to stay warm) and going upstairs & downstairs & back upstairs.

We found one super fun store with mind-puzzles and brain-bogglers and we spent over an hour in there! Of course I felt really dumb at first with a wooden box puzzle, but then once I got the hang of the puzzles, I enjoyed them! I’m definitely a nerd, because I think working in a store like that would be a blast!

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I’ve heard this place is amazing & has a killer view!

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Ashley on the pier

 

 

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A personal favorite of mine- Ghirardelli Square! (mainly because the smell of chocolate is in the air!)

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SUN

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Cute little park area

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there were swimmers in the Bay!

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I really don’t know why I like to photograph birds…

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playing in the water

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Park

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look familiar?

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a Ghirardelli chocolate cupcake at Kara’s Cupcakes!

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I don’t know why I took so many pictures of my feet and the street, but seeing the street name on the sidewalk helped me keep my bearings with where I was! ;)

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uh oh!

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view from my window at the hostel

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(im)patiently waiting in In-N-Out!!!

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Welcome to the Wharf

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(let’s just ignore my awkward face)
This was my travel outfit for the plane. I was comfy & warm until I got to San Fran…then I wished I had thicker clothes!

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map of SF in the hostel

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Pointing to my last name! (which is not Pho)

After unsuccessfully finding a restaurant in Chinatown with “Americanized Chinese” (I’m looking at you, Ash! hah) I was famished and started searching for the closest decent-looking place. (some places on the outskirts of Chinatown were sketchyyy) We stumbled into L & L and although I wasn’t too impressed with the food, the cashier was friendly, and the place was warmer than outside and we could sit down.

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Hawaiian BBQ chicken for lunch

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BOUDIN BAKERY GOODNESSS

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The gator bread at Boudin!

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sea lions sunning

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again, interesting signage

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I would trip

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inside the brain puzzle games store

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sunset

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challenge: spot the team from NC!

After walking around the pier for hours, Ashley and I were hungry and ready to be warm. We opted for soup bread bowls at Boudin’s, and proceeded to wait in line and snag a table in the corner! The soup was sooo good and worth the wait!

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the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. And the bread bowl was amazing too! @Boudin’s

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Oh hey Rosie!

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yep

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spelled my name right! Way to go, Starbucks!

It’s funny because there were Starbucks everywhere in San Francisco! Some of them were tiny, and they were always full. I loved having my Starbucks card because I bought so much coffee that I ended up getting a few free drinks! :)

Believe it or not, those are just a snippet of the photos I took in San Francisco on days 1 & 2. (You better believe it) I was constantly pulling out my phone or camera to take a picture of a sign (as you can tell), food, the water, you name it! I didn’t want to miss a thing, or forget a thing.

 

Next up? Oh, just photos of the most iconic bridge in the States ;)