Saturday, February 26, 2011

Packing for Overseas Travel & Living

Me at the Batumi Sheraton with a car that had a MINNESOTA license plate, and my Mountain Smith backpack.

Travel, regardless of the distance, requires packing. Whether you pack a simple lunch and some water to hike the Observation Point Trail in Zion or fill a 50-liter backpack for a yearlong worldwide trek, we bring essentials (and often a few luxuries) to meet our needs. Increasingly, airline regulations and fees make packing an even more challenging endeavor, forcing decisions and prioritization regarding what can and cannot come. No wonder packing is something that most travelers seem to wait until the last minute to do… And in that haste, packing becomes even more difficult.

Articles and tips abound about how to become a savvy packer. Tips range from painfully obvious to extremely creative; regardless, few tips are one-size-fits-all. Often, intriguing packing tips never actually get implemented into one’s packing, especially during the frantic rush to close the suitcase. Or one might read the suggestions with skepticism, seriously questioning whether x or y recommendation will work for their specific needs.

My quest to become a savvy packer started when I realized I simply packed too much, and I only used a fraction of what I actually brought. Things I never used or wore at home came along with me on distant journeys, with the pretense that I just might need them there. (This was a common line of thought for numerous years of summer camp and college.) Truth be told, if I didn’t use it at home, I would never use it while traveling, either. Consequently, in seeking to improve my packing technique, I turned to outside sources for assistance. Though I regarded much advice with a healthy dose of skepticism, I slowly began trying new things, some of which worked well and have become a permanent part of my packing repertoire. All the advice below comes from my personal experience, having spent 5 of the last 10 months or so living and working abroad, gradually refining my packing technique.

As I am living out of a backpack, a suitcase, and a duffle bag until June, here are some things I have learned:

  • Research item availability and prices before you go. Last year when I spent two months in Israel, I decided I would buy shampoo, soap, and toothpaste there, instead of going overweight and having to pay fees for my heavy bag. Unfortunately, I quickly learned Israel was much more expensive than I anticipated, making the cost of purchasing those items more than what I would have spent on the overweight baggage fee. Also, many commonplace items may not exist or have equivalents in certain places. The one-stop-shopping stores that dominate American shopping, such as Wal-Mart or Target, often do not exist, making finding needed items a time-consuming task.

  • Multi-tasking products are essential. My favorite multi-tasking product is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. Highly concentrated, great scents (I like the citrus), and multiple uses (shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, and laundry soap) make it a great space and weight saving item. Plus you can easily meet 3-1-1 rules with it.

  • Bring a Nalgene. In many countries, tap water is potable and can be consumed without hesitation. Consequently, fill up before you head out for the day. Also, Nalgenes or any other hard plastic water bottle makes a great place to store small, breakable items in a suitcase for the return trip. If only I had thought of that before I returned from Mexico!

  • Bring a journal. Have something with you to keep a written record of your travels - the people you meet, the foods you eat, the chaos at the border, the sights you see, etc. While you might cringe at the initial weight of a journal in your pack, it pales in comparison to what it will contain by the end. I recently started my 5th journal chronicalling my time in Georgia.

  • Choose fabrics wisely. The fabric qualities of packed clothing can make or break a trip. Unfortunately, fabrics that excel in some environments perform poorly in others. For example, my quick-dry shirts are amazing in the desert. In the sub-tropical, humid climate that is the Black Sea coast of Georgia, not so much.

  • Pack some postcards from home. During my travels abroad, people routinely ask me about where I am from. I pack a stack of Zion National Park postcards to show people what my adopted home is like. They are amazed a place like Zion exists. In Israel, many people were shocked to learn that there is “another” Zion in the world. While in Georgia (the country, not the state), the postcards helped to ease the tension during a visit to my home by the local police. (It’s a long story, and no I was not in trouble, they were just checking up on the American in their village).

  • American measuring cups and spoons. While in Israel I did a lot of baking, and trying to bake American recipes made without being measured exactly made for some interesting outcomes. Though mostly good, it was a good lesson to bring them for future extended overseas trips. For $2.00 I got an 8 piece set that weighs next to nothing. It came in very handy for the brownies I made for Halloween.

Ultimately, packing is an art form, and is unique to each person. Take suggestions and advice and make the necessary changes to make them your own. Most importantly, however, learn from your packing mistakes. It sounds simple, but it’s true. What worked for one trip, may not work for another destination.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Me the International University Lecturer

Last September while perusing the cookies at Goodwill, the Western grocery store in Batumi, I heard something that I had not heard in a while: American English from people I did not know. I had to stop and listen to make sure I heard correctly. I did, and it was then that I met a couple from Las Vegas in Batumi with the Peace Corps, who just happen to visit Zion a lot. Because of that chance meeting, I am now: Charlotte Vaillancourt, international lecturer.

In December, Kathy of the PC couple asked if I might be interested in helping with the new travel and tourism management program at the Batumi Business School and Shota Rustaveli University on a volunteer basis. Sure? Why not? I initially thought I would simply be helping write curriculum and making suggestions for courses and course work. Teaching was not on my radar as I already did that 5 days a week. However, teaching soon became a part of it. Monday night was the first night of lectures for this new program, and I had the honor of giving the first lecture. This week I am speaking on Corporate Identity and branding; next week is PR and Marketing and the Basics of Tour Operations. Fun!

Despite not being nervous about public speaking, I was apprehensive about the lecture. This was the first time I had taught a university course that required translation. (When I taught classes for Church in Israel, they were translated, so it wasn’t the first time I had worked with a translator). I wondered if I could explain things in such a way that 1) the translator could understand and 2) could be translated in such a way that the students would understand. The evening went very well, I must say. I even got a “Kai gogo” (good girl) from the business school director. On Tuesday evening there was one topic that the translator had trouble with: recycling. Recycling doesn't exist in Georgia, a fact that pains me every time I get something in a glass or plastic bottle from a restaurant.

I enjoyed it thoroughly, and that lecture and experience made me realize something. Teaching at the university or college level is what I want to be doing. I think more than anything; however, I am still torn about if I want to continue pursuing English teaching or business/travel and tourism teaching. Both are big areas, which will need qualified teachers. Yesterday I began researching PhD programs; however, that is still a few years away. I need to save up enough money to pay for it in cash first, just like with my undergraduate and graduate degrees. There is a cool TESOL program in my beloved Israel that sounds good should I choose that route, and there are plenty of business programs worldwide. Whatever I decide to do, I want to do the program abroad. I regret not doing study abroad while I was an undergraduate student. If there was one reason to have taken out a student loan, it would have been for that and only that.

A Humbling Teaching Moment

Perhaps the most humbling teaching moment during my months in Georgia occurred today my time with the 4th grade class. The story needs to be prefaced with the following. Unlike in the US, in Georgia, students with mental or cognitive disabilities or delays usually are not in the public schools. Mainstreaming, as Americans know it, is rare to non-existent here. However, at my school, we have 35 students with varying mental and learning disabilities. Most attend classes together, but several, mostly younger students, are integrated into the classroom with their peers for part or all of the day. This is an amazing thing in Georgia, as when we arrived we were told that children with such handicaps would not be a part of the school, and that most parents would not want their child in a class with such students. I was shocked to hear this, and I am sure it did not sit well with many of my fellow teachers. It is just so not what we are accustomed to in the United States. On the show Glee, one of the characters, Sue Sylvester, uses the word “handicapable” when she talks about her sister with Downs Syndrome. I like that a lot. More people should adopt that.

In 4th grade, one of the integrated students, as they are known at the school, is with his class. I’ve had a soft spot for Gio since my first day in his class, when he repeatedly tried to introduce himself in English to me. Today while the students read about Giorgi eating ice cream, I could see that Gio was getting impatient. He needed something to redirect his attention. As the other was helping the other students, I sat by Gio and we worked on simply writing the letters “L” and “J”. Immediately, he became focused on the task at hand. His handwriting was much neater than many Americans’ I have seen, that is for sure. Soon we began reviewing words from his book, which he knew. It was hard to hold back the tears, especially knowing that so many other children like him were never given such opportunities to learn, or let alone excel at their level. Gio continued to impress me with just how much he did know, and at one point he turned around to tell one of the other students to be quiet and not to give him the answer. It was great. Being able to help teach Gio is a great blessing; I wish I had the opportunity to be in the class everyday to get to work with him more. I hope that his presence in the classroom will help to give other students likes him the same opportunity and help to change attitudes throughout the country.

Life in the City

First graders eating khatchapuri between classes.

When I returned to Georgia, much remained the same, but much had changed as well. Two big facets of my life in Georgia would not be the same: my school and my host family. Before I left, I had every intention of returning to my life in the village, however, while away I began to reconsider that. Life at the village school was exceedingly difficult. I dreaded going to school each day, and more times than I care to count I came home in tears because of the frustrations of being in that place. Furthermore, I had to be honest with myself, as nothing I did at that school had made any difference I felt. The apathy from both the teachers and students was ever present, and that would never change. The teachers would look at me like I was crazy when I had the audacity to ask them to use more English and less Georgian in the English classes. Over the months I repeatedly lowered my expectations about what I could do and what the students were capable of. It was disheartening. Could I in good conscience look back at my time here and feel good about what had happened? No, I realized. At times I felt as though I was running from the problems at school, however, I gave it a whole semester of effort. I could not give it another knowing I was not accomplishing anything.

Moreover, just before I left I found out that my arrival at the house had forced the grandmother upstairs. She is frail and in poor health, and it takes her whole minutes to get up the stairs. Her old room was on the first floor where everything she needed was. Knowing that I had displaced someone was hard to hear.

While back in Minnesota, I was presented with the opportunity of moving to a new school and a new host family. I was not sure what to do, as it was a great risk. But the thought of staying at a school that I dreaded going to was not appealing. Consequently, I took the opportunity, and I moved into Batumi proper knowing that the school could be worse then what I left. Now I live on the south side of town, maybe a 12 minute walk from the sea and the border with Turkey is just down the road. My address is great: Airport Highway, Dead End #2, House #9. Plus I never have to worry about catching the one marshrut’ka back to the village, as they run by the house all the time.

The school and host family both are amazing. My school is near the Black Sea and from some of the classes I can actually see it. The behavior and knowledge of the students astounds me. They are well behaved, and their English is very good. Sadly, I only get to visit each class once a week, so I do not get to know the students as well as I would like, but I get to work with all grades from 1st to 12th, except 5th. Such variety is very cool. I hope that English language education remains a priority here. Many of the youngest students show great promise, and if they continue to receive English language education, their English will be very fluent by the time they graduate. The other day my host brother informs me that he asked his private Georgian tutor, who teaches Georgian at my school, what people thought of me. He said that she said everyone likes me and they think that I am a good woman. Wow…I was not expecting to hear that.

The 4 teachers I work with are great. Their English is very, very good, and they understand me when I talk. Only once could I not get my point across when talking with one of the teachers. I asked her when she was going to retire from teaching, and despite my attempts to explain it other ways, she never got it. In the village the first day I met the teachers I asked what I thought was a simple question: “What time does school begin?” It took whole minutes, a look of suspicious looks at me, and much conversing in Georgian before they gave me a tentative answer. That did not bode well. At the new school, nothing like that has happened! If I have questions, they are answered without deliberation. The new teachers also want to improve their English, and often ask me questions from the books they work out of. A discussion on the vocabulary of gambling was not what I was expecting to have last week; however, they probably think because of the proximity of Springdale to Las Vegas that I am well versed in all things gambling related. They couldn’t be more wrong.

One area that I do struggle with them is when it comes to pronunciation. They are accustomed to British English not American English, and often question why I say things they way I do. I am sure my Minnesota accent does not help. The other day in 3rd grade, they learned the vowel sound for “bag.” I made sure I did not say that word, because it is one of the words that my accent comes out very strong with. Or they will pronounce words and I do not hear the difference in the least, but there evidently is a big difference to them. Another day one of the teachers wanted confirmation from me that English does indeed have 44 vowel sounds. Until then I had never even considered how many vowel sounds the English language has. I just nodded a yes. But when one considers that, English is a really hard language to learn. Georgian, by comparison, has only 5 vowel sounds.

The host family is great as well. The family has 5 people – grandmother, dad, mom, and 2 teenage children. The son’s name is Jaba Beridze, just like my first host brother. Now I refer to them as Didi Jaba (Big Jaba) and Patara Jaba (Little Jaba). Moreover, I think I will name my first Golden Retriever Jaba Beridze, and I will make him understand Georgian commands. My vocabulary is such that I could make that happen. That would be great! Until my arrival, Jaba had never heard of Jabba the Hut. I made sure that was corrected. I showed him videos on YouTube.

The kids speak English, but I am working with them to help improve it. When I first arrived, the sister would say “Sweat dreams Charlotte!” when I would head to bed, instead of “Sweet dreams.” Jaba also says “Ock” when he reads “OK” in a book. Now those have become little jokes between us. For some reason, they love my story about when I was catsitting Dave the Cat in Rockville, Utah. Dave is a very clingy cat. If my laptop was on my lap, Dave assumed that there was space for him too. However, there usually wasn’t, and he would end up on the keyboard. Dave also decided that he would be my alarm clock, and would let me know when I had slept too long. One morning he decided that 8 a.m. was too late for me to be sleeping. I was lying on my side, and then next thing I know Dave is tapping me on the shoulder, as if to say, “Charlotte…wake up…Charlotte.” But a closer translation probably would have been, “Charlotte…I’m hungry.” Needless to say, it was an ADORABLE thing for Dave to have done, and for whatever reason the host siblings adore this story. The story is mentioned at least once a day.

The house, in the words of a friend, is a palace. I have the whole 3rd floor to myself, complete with my own bathroom. However, as with all houses in Georgia, it isn’t heated. If my room gets to 55 F, I feel blessed right now. As I type this, my fingers are freezing and a bluish color, plus I have 2 shirts and 2 jackets on, and still cold. My nose runs basically all the time. Great. However, a runny nose is a small price to pay for actually enjoying school and the opportunities I have to serve there. I have not come home in tears once, and I doubt I will.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The World is Indeed Small and Random

Over the past few weeks there have been several instances where these random events have occurred reminding me that the world is small and random. And that people are good and loving.

The Up & Up Mouthwash from Target

A couple of weeks ago while sitting in the family room/show kitchen room of the house (there is a kitchen just to look at in the room. The real kitchen in the house is elsewhere. Sometimes we heat water up on the range for cocoa or coffee, nothing more) my house mother jumps up and starts excitedly speaking Georgian as she running out of the room. The words seemed to be directed at me, but the speed of the speech made it nearly impossible for me to discern anything. She reappears with a bag full of Target Brand Up & Up mouthwash. I was momentarily speechless. What was this doing in Batumi? Moreover, has there been a secret Target here that I could have been spending all my 1) time and 2) laris at for the previous 6 months? The next 10 minutes were spent by me explaining the differences between each of the bottles and whether to use it before or after one brushes his teeth. While trying to answer their questions, I had plenty of my own questions, like "Where did this come from?" According to the host sister the neighbors sell it. But what are the neighbors doing with Target products? And can I get some for myself? I'm going to have to investigate the secret Target dispensary soon. Oh Target, how I love you. The Hopa Bazaar has nothing on your clean, well-lit, and well-stocked stores.

Toothpaste from Utah

The family also uses toothpaste from Springville, Utah. What? Seriously? Of course, it was a brand that has to be associated with some multi-level marketing scheme there. When I lived in Northern Utah, it perplexed me greatly how easily people there attached themselves to MLM schemes. It was odd and unsettling. But so is seeing Utah toothpaste in Batumi, Georgia that you did not bring there.

Southern Utah on a Local Access Channel

Yesterday during the about 15th straight day of rain while trapped in the family room, I was half-hearted watching some news program on the Georgian equivalent of a cable access channel. I'm not sure the whole story, but suddenly it broke into showing adventure travel scenes from around the world. Before I knew it, I'm watching a BMX rider in Southern Utah. It had to have been from the Red Bull Rampage in Virgin or something pro-rider Josh Bender did. Whatever it was, it was definitely southern Utah. It saddened me, because I miss my red rocks and warm temps so much.

"Are you Charlotte from Charlotte in Zion?"

Last week while spending some quality time at the Press Cafe using the Wifi, my friend and I met one of the new teachers in the area. We introduce ourselves, and after I say "I'm Charlotte" she responds with, "I don't want this to sound creepy, but are you Charlotte from Charlotte in Zion?" At first it didn't register at all what she was saying. How does she know I'm from there? Did she make that connection just by the ZAC jacket? Then I realized she was referring to the blog. She said before she arrived she read the blogs people were keeping about their time here. She said she enjoyed it, and that it was one of the few positive ones about Georgia. Good to know. It was weird to have someone I've never met talk about the blog with me. But it is cool that people besides my friends and family read it

Be Open to Invitations

The other day I went to meet some people I know. They had the time wrong, and for 15 minutes I waited outside in the cold. The neighbors saw me shivering, and invited me into their house. I tried to turn down their offers, but saying no to Bebias is hard. Before I knew it I was sitting in a humble apartment, drinking tea, eating khatchapuri, watching a "Mission: Impossible" in Russian with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and getting to know the family and their hairless cat. I was there only 15 minutes, but have been told I have to come back. I'm glad I said yes to the invitation.

Moments like that make travel and life meaningful. When I am back in Springdale after this year, I am going to be more open to travelers, and hopefully show them the same hospitality I have been shown here. Zion is my home, and I want them to see it in the same way I can every day. In 2009, I met a dear friend just by commenting on inner-tubing the Virgin River. I need more experiences like that.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ode to A Great Traveling Companion

Today I thought how thankful I am for traveling companions, one particularly comes to mind: My black Marmot fleece jacket.

The jacket was given to all Zion Adventure Company staff in 2009. Since then it has become an indispensable part of my travel wardrobe. In 2010, I was given a Mammut hoodie, which I have yet to bond with. It came to Georgia, but is now back in the United States, patiently awaiting my return in a closet.

Back to the Marmot jacket. Being black it matches everything I own and that I travel with. I wear it with casual attire and even more formal attire. It washes well, and dries quickly. The zippered pockets are a lifesaver, and big enough to hold a passport pouch. It has been to several countries (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Georgia, the US, Canada and Turkey) and several states (Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois). I've hiked, biked, attended weddings, canyoneered, rock climbed, slept, ate, and shopped in it. Its been to places such as Mt. Sinai, Petra, the Dead Sea, the Wailing Wall and Lake Powell. When I was in the West Bank, I had to cover the part that said Zion on it. At one point, a soldier saw Zion and asked where I was from, as he thought I was Israeli. Also in Israel, it was a great conversation starter. Most people there were not aware another Zion existed. A lot of younger people thought I lead Birthright tours for young Jews. Then I would bring out the Zion postcards and the "Ooohhhs" and "Aaahhhs" would commence.

It has performed miraculously in each endeavor. Sometimes I wonder what I will do when it falls apart, but I will probably just buy a new one. I hope I have several years left with it, however. The only wear is a couple of holes from rock climbing with Calvin, and a melted spot. Yesterday it was horribly cold, and I put my hand briefly next to the wood burning stove at home. Note to self: the melting temp of Marmot fleece jackets is really low. A little bit of the jacket is still on the stove. Oops.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Winter Wonderland Nightmare

A Winter Wonderland Nightmare

There are few things in the world that I dislike more than snow. (Fox News and coconut are up there as well.) When people find this out, they are genuinely surprised. The response usually involves something about how since I am from Minnesota they thought I would love snow. Actually, the opposite is true. It was there that I learned to loathe it. However, I do like snow on mountains. As long as it stays up in higher elevations and does not come anywhere near where I have to walk or be, it can be quite nice. Once it starts getting near me that is when my issues with it arise.

My intense dislike for snow is largely from having to shovel growing up. While the prospect of a Snow Day was always on my mind when meteorologist extraordinaire, Mike Fairbourne from WCCO, announced snow was on the way, a Snow Day also meant shoveling. Being in school was preferable to shoveling any day. The issue of shoveling was compounded by the fact a snow blower was oddly absent from our storage shed. (As was a riding lawn mower until after I went off to university.) Consequently, I had to shovel old school: with a shovel. When a snow blower did appear, it seemed to only come out if a myriad of parameters was met, which was usually never. Furthermore, add to the equation the driveway of the home my family had while I was in high school. The driveway was more like a parking lot. On a cold, blustery Minnesota winter morning it appeared to be about the same size as a parking lot at Wal-Mart, able to hold multiple RVs, trucks, and cars with room to spare.

Also, I dislike snow because it was just around for such a large part of my growing up years. Thinking on it, between the ages of 0 and 18, at least 5 months of every year involved snow. Conservatively, that is a total of 7.5 years! However, snow is also a good historical marker on my life timeline. Many events are still remembered because of their relationship to a major snow storm. The Halloween Storm of 1991 is still talked about. At university, my Minnesota friends and I often referred to that specific storm and its place in our lives in relation to other events. I was in 5th grade, and the first snow fall of the year began the morning of Halloween. It was definitely a trick, not a treat. Freezing rain was part of it, wrecking havoc across Minnesota. Fifth grade is also memorable because the last snow fall of the year was on Memorial Day.

I attended university in Utah, and it amazes people that I have never been skiing or snowboarding since I lived in the place with the Greatest Snow on Earth. Once again, the prospect of being cold and in snow for a whole day holds little to no appeal. However, I probably should try it at some point.

And now to my present situation…Batumi in snow is a nightmare! After experiencing this, I would take the 100 F days with high humidity over this. (I say that now, but when they return I will likely pine for the cold days of winter). The week began with rain and by Tuesday night it had turned to snow. For two days now, it seems to alternate between rain and snow or often a combination of the two. With the temperatures just about freezing, everything is (in Minnesota snow parlance) a slushy mess. It is neither rain nor solid snow. It looks like solid snow, but the second one steps on it turns to slush.

Getting around Batumi has been interesting for lack of a better word. Unlike in Minnesota, the concept of snow removal does not seem to exist here. No one has shoveled and there are no snow plows. I mentioned this fact to some students at school this morning. Their response was that the cars removed the snow. Not like a plow, I thought wishfully. Moreover, Batumi lacks storm sewer drains. Bizarre, I know. Consequently, the slushy mess pools everywhere, inside of the large water portion flowing down drains. The entire front yard at the school has become a lake, as well as about every corner and piece of street in the entire city. The same thing happens when it rains even a little in the city. Walking down the lane in front of my house is an event. Puddles routinely are 6 inches deep, and one must cross the lane often to dry and take the path of the least amount of water.

Yesterday when I arrived back from school upon seeing the courtyard of the fortress I live in (that is a story for another post), the Minnesotan in me thought, “We should really shovel that before it freezes.” No shoveling has occurred, but the snow on the palm and mandarin trees has been removed.

With the snow, has come a brutal cold. I must admit, however, that by Minnesota standards my definition of cold is nothing. After years of mild winters in both Utah and Israel, my cold tolerance has significantly decreased. (Basically any temperature below 50 F is cold to me). Minnesotans would hear what I think is cold, and sort of chuckle and shake their heads in disbelief, and return to their discussion on road construction, hot dish, the latest hockey score, the headlines in the Star Tribune, or Garrison Keillor. Cold in Minnesota is bearable because of a little thing called central heat.

HVAC here is completely different then in the United States. Apart from the Sheraton in Batumi, HVAC is non-existent. Homes do not have a furnace. Maybe a rare one, but I have yet to encounter one. Heating here is primary done by a wood burning stove or space heater. However, most of the year in Batumi heating isn’t needed, which makes sense. Yet this story is found in the mountain villages as well. The stove is liable to be in just one room of the house. Coupled with the fact the houses lack insulation and are generally constructed of concrete, they are cold to say the least. My house is typical. I spend a lot of time in the family room just because that is where the wood burning stove is. My room has a space heater, making it fairly warm. This morning it was 56 F in my room. That was with the heater on, and it was the warmest room on the 3rd floor. My bathroom is another story. The temperature there seems to hover just slightly above absolute zero. I will forever be grateful for central heating and air conditioning after Georgia.

School has also been cold. Most of the students have stopped coming because of the temperature and the weather. I was told not to bother showing up Friday since the students weren’t. Today while I was at school (I never did any teaching today because there were literally no students), I had the following on to stay warm. Despite the radiators at the school, I was still freezing. I was wearing:

· 1 tank top

· 1 long sleeve wicking shirt

· 1 sweater

· 1 Marmot fleece jacket

· 1 wool jacket

· 1 pair of slipper socks (courtesy of Turkish Airlines)

· 1 pair of fleece booties

· Haflinger wool clogs (I wore my Wellington rubber boots to school)

· Jeans

· Fleece-lined wool hat

· Scarf

Considering all the layering I have to do, I feel a lot like Randy from A Christmas Story. I can’t put my arms down! It was good times. But a growth experience none the less. I am looking forward to the return of warmer temperatures. Last week it was so warm I had my Chaco sandals on. But it was not meant to last.