I'm unashamedly obsessed.

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Here's Grandpa Carmack holding his Great-Grandson, Quentin. How could you not love them?

Just to share a little wisdom:

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Leftover pizza is infinitely better toasted in the toaster oven than zapped in the microwave. In case you didn't already know.

Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women

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Surprisingly enough, I participated in a 10K yesterday! I use the verb "participated" instead of "ran" because I had a walk a large portion of the course, but I showed up and finished nonetheless. Last week, meaning exactly one week ago from yesterday, I started jogging. I decided that it was time that I started running again: when I was in high school, I used to run 3 or so miles everyday, and not only was it a great workout, but it really improved my mood and emotional well-being. When I was frustrated, I would go for a run and the world would be a lot brighter at the end. I also had great glutes back then, but I won't expound on that for fear someone sees something in their mind that they don't want to see.
So, I made a goal to run 5 times per week. Using google maps (a tool that we didn't have back in my high school days) I plotted out a course in Allston that's roughly 3.75 miles. I go from my apartment, down North Harvard Street past Harvard Stadium to the Charles River, run on the Charles River path to Western Ave, then jot down Western Ave to home. Again, I use the term "run" very loosely... I'm currently on intervals of about 8 minutes of jogging and then 2 minutes of walking. I wish that I could just go out and run the whole thing, but I'm getting there.
One of my big motivations to start my new jogging regime came from the ladies at church. A bunch of my friends are pretty avid runners, completing half and full marathons, doing relay races together, and knocking off various 10Ks and 5Ks. Some friends and I started chatting about getting people together to do the Tufts 10K, and before I knew it there was an email going around with MY NAME ON IT saying look! What a fun idea! Well now that it was sent to 100 people crediting me as the idea-maker, I decided that I had to participate. So with 1 week of jog/walking and 15 miles total under my belt, I showed up at the Boston Common yesterday morning. Feeling like a real idiot for being there at all.
Because I'm so out of shape and under-prepared, I did a really good job of psyching myself out. Luckily, of the 6,020 participants, lots of women walk the entire way. I was far from the last lady over the finish line, as I was envisioning all morning. And the best part of the whole thing, by far, was seeing my friends at the finish line cheering me on. Even though I was so slow, and they finished so far ahead of me, they recognized what an achievement this was for me and duly celebrated for me. I was so excited! It was so fun! I won't enumerate just how slow I went, but according to the official times online I ran this race a minute faster per mile than I've been running at home, and that's only half the distance! Clearly I was motivated and excited, and I'd say I definitely came away with a personal best. This first race was a great one, and I feel even more motivated now to continue with the (fun!) hard work and be ready for the next one.

In December we're running some 5K called the "Jolly Jaunt," and I couldn't be more psyched! By then I'll be able to run the whole distance without stopping to walk, and that's going to be a huge deal for me. This whole thing has taught me a lot, and given me a nice kick in the pants. Good times! I can't wait for the Jolly Jaunt, and I can't wait for the Tufts 10K next year, to see just how much my time improves!

Above is the map of the course for anyone who knows Boston. It was an awesome course with breathtaking views of the city. I love Boston!

Quote of the Day, from a 2nd grader.

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"Whoa! Are you a 5th grader??"
"Are you a teacher?"
"You look like a 5th grader."

Quote of the Day, from a 5th grader.

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"Ms. Palmer! Your name is Lauren?! I just never thought of teachers having names!"

Mini Reunion

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Four of my friends from London Study Abroad got together for conference this weekend. I've been telling everyone for YEARS that Boston is the right place to be... finally they're listening.
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Small Moments: Hale Reservation

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“You can do it!” “Go for it!” “Let her have a turn!” These exclamations may seem simply motivational to the average observer, but for me they are evidence of transformation. Usually from the same kids I hear “you’re mentally retahded!” or “he wants to make out with you, because he’s gaaay” while they barrel down the hallways of the elementary school. Oh, fifth grade.
Last week the fifth grade at the elementary school where I work went on a field trip to Hale Reservation, a nature reserve just outside of Boston that functions primarily as a summer camp for youngsters. We spent the day on ropes courses, doing team-building exercises, and playing silly games. Sounds easy, right? Well, as an aide for a 10 year-old girl with autism, I had some apprehension. I was worried about having my little friend scamper up a tree just to freak out 100 feet in the air, and I could just see myself having to climb a tree to retrieve her and being scratched and clawed the whole way down. I had visions of the munchkin being excluded from group activities, not necessarily openly, but definitely passively. But what I saw last Wednesday gave me a new respect for the children at school.

First of all, my darlin’ scampered up those trees and then dove down the zip line like it was nothing. She was much less inhibited than even some of the tough guys in her class. Then what I saw during our next activities was really amazing. The kids had to get from behind a log to a wooden platform several feet away without touching the ground between the two. There was a rope swing that they could use as a tool, and so the plan was to swing, one at a time, from behind the log to the platform. It would have been easy for the kids in the class to send the little lady across first to get her over with, or even to save for the end and hope for instructor aid or for someone to say that they could just call it a day. But they didn’t. They coaxed her across halfway through the class, with cries of “it’s your turn!” “Come across!”
I’m not saying that these kids are angels 100% of the time. They make each other cry practically, and sometimes they practically knock me over in the halls when they’re sprinting to the bus with instruments and basketballs. Perhaps that’s what made the moments we shared so special. To quote Dr. Seuss, my heart grew three sizes that day.