Winter Break – States and Staycation

Winter break always comes at the perfect time. As most educators have experienced, it’s the time of year where you are sick of the kids, they are sick of you, and you can handle about one more day, and then, magically, you have a long break. You come back and everyone loves each other again. It’s superb. Well done, schools, well done.

Winter break has been especially nutty the past 2 years as I have almost 4 weeks off because of the Costa Rican calendar. This can be a bit tough because Em’s schedule doesn’t match up with mine but she can take some vacation days and we make it work. This year we decided to head back to the states for a brief trip (12/17-12/26) to see friends and family and then spend the rest of the time exploring the beautiful country that we currently call home.

As many of you know, I am an overplanner. I want to pack in as much as possible all the time. Which means that even a small deviation from the plan can throw everything for a loop. Enter Copa Airlines.

Long story short – we arrived at the airport 2 hours early for our 8 am flight from San José to Boston. After waiting in the line for 2 hours (all the while being told we will absolutely make our flight) we got to the counter to find out that we don’t, in fact, have seats and that the next flight out is the following day. This is not going to work. That night we had planned on having dinner with my mom in Boston and then sharing a hotel room so that we could get some quality time together. This is especially important when you see each other only a few times a year. Em did some impressive negotiating to get us on a flight that day but instead of arriving in Boston at 5:30 pm we arrived at 12:30 am which, obviously, meant no dinner or QT. Bummer. We complained about it enough on social media at the time so we’ll stop it there. Luckily we live ~25 minutes from the San José airport so we got a few extra hours of sun in before our new flight but it was still wicked annoying.


The view from the pool at our apartment after going to the airport once. Not a bad place to wait out a couple hours before our new flight.


Landing in Atlanta (before going onto Boston). Does this really help anyone’s flying anxiety?

After getting to our hotel at 1:30 am and getting out our final feelings of hate toward Copa (we’re over it, can’t you tell?), we got ready for a jam packed day on Sunday. The Nicholson crew, once again, rallied around our arrival and had a pre-Christmas get together so we could see everyone. Thanks to everyone for such an incredible effort. We are so lucky.

I’d like to point out that my family’s commitment to the Patriots is not to be underestimated. Pats played at 4:25 that day so the reunion was over by 3:00 so everyone could be settled for kick off.



My wonderful family (and the creepy snowman)


My dad’s in Ghana so I decided to bring him with us and tease him with some Dom’s steak tips


Gang’s all here.


Maybe I can convince them to come back to the East Coast.

Later that night we got together with the Colby crew. Three of my best friends in the world – Reg, T, and Jax – cleared their schedules to do a Sunday night sleep over. We spent some time with the significant others (we missed you, Matt!), and watched the Pats smoke the Broncos, and then the 4 of us went out to dinner to catch up. The night ended with us watching a 45 minute DVD I made in the spring of our senior year of college. I’m happy to report that we all have our lives together much more than we did from 2004-2008.

20 hours together was way too short but was still enough to tide me over until we all get together again. So thankful for these 3 (and their significant others).


Since 2004


Freezing while we walk to breakfast.


Since 2001

I also got to spend time with other friends from Rivers and grad school. I probably tried to fit too much in but there are too many people that mean so much to us and being in Boston without seeing them feels wrong. There was not enough time to see everyone and I hope to connect with even more people next time we’re back.

One day I was able to spend time with my former colleague and close friend, Maureen, and we walked from Harvard through Central to the Charles. Boston is breathtaking (even when it’s 15 degrees).



Huge shout out to Em and Sam and MC and Katy for hosting us in our whirlwind trip. SO great to spend some quality time with you guys. We miss you tons!

After our quick trip in Boston, we boarded a bus and made our way to NYC. We had a plan to go out to dinner with Emily’s brothers and their significant others to celebrate Charlie and Courtney’s engagement (we weren’t able to celebrate with everyone when it happened in October). Dinner turned into karaoke turned into 2 am. Highlights include: All I Want for Christmas is You, Creep, and Tubthumping. No one felt great the next day but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Reindear muffs


Calm before the storm


Central Park

FullSizeRender 6.jpg




Dopey Hamlins




The next day we made our way to New Jersey to spend a few days with the Hamlins. After a fantastic dinner the first night and lots of laughs over our new favorite board game, Code Names, we took a turn for the worse. We ruined Christmas Eve by being in bed and getting sick ALL day so that the 8 lobsters Em’s mom got for dinner that night were consumed by 4 guests (2 stayed away since we brought the plague to Pennington). We were able to get up for Christmas day but went way too hard at Christmas dinner and ended up being in bed again all day on the 26th (and having to push our flight to the next day). We feel terrible about ruining Christmas but everyone else escaped (for the most part).


One of my favorite gifts – a manta band with the GC mantra.

Because of the fiasco on the way to Boston we were upgraded to business class on the way back. There is no better time to have an upgrade than when you’re feeling sick. It almost made the whole disaster on the way to the states worth it.


Business lounge before the flight


Look at all that leg room!


Home sweet home


We had planned to go to the Osa Peninsula upon our return to Costa Rica. However, we felt like we weren’t 100% and had to cancel the trip (don’t worry – we’re going back in April). We decided to do a stayvaction instead. We took advantage of the fact that Em had a 4 day weekend for New Years and hit the beach twice, did a spa day, and hiked in one of the nearby National Parks. Here are some highlights:









Found a screen saver while hiking








Lizard welcoming us to the spa


View from our massages


Quick stop at the croc bridge on the way to the beach


Back to the beach we go



Finally using our hammock


Lastly, we were in our apartment watching a movie at 11:50 on New Year’s Eve when we decided we had to stop being 100 years old and go ring in the new year. So we went up to our pool, which looks over the Central Valley, and saw this (video below). There must have been, no joke, 200 different firework displays going off. The video quality is awful but anywhere you see a flash is a different group setting off fireworks. It was unreal. We went back to our apartment at 12:15 and the fireworks were still going full force. Costa Rica knows how to do it.

That’s about it. I have another week off so we’ll see how much I can bug Em while she’s working. We’re going away to Arenal this weekend which will be fantastic and on the weekdays I’ll be stalking schools as the job search picks up. Fingers crossed.

Happy 2017, everyone.



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