Thursday, December 1, 2011

30 days of gratitude - days 22-30

Uff-dah! Where have I been the last 9 days? Maybe next year I'll be able to make it through...

I figured I ought to do a little wrap-up post.

I know this is somewhat of a repeat, but it's just that important to me.

I'm ever-thankful for friends. Friends that have been for 20 years to friends that I've made in the last few months. I've never felt so connected and so loved. I'm love that I'm finding myself wanting to spend time with people. And these people are fantastic.

I'm ever-thankful for family. This time of year it's not hard to hear stories of crazy mothers, fathers, siblings, or in-laws. Even though it's hard to be so far away from my family, it's a good thing that I miss them. And in just under two weeks I'll be heading back home to see them. And I'm thankful for that, too!

So, here's to December! I hope you all had lovely Thanksgivings and you can have the time to enjoy this time of year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 21

I am thankful for my job.

Exactly three years ago today I was hired. Three years and 3 weeks ago we moved to Washington. If you do the math, you'll find that it only took me 3 weeks to find my job. This was right when the economy was crashing, companies were going under, and thousands of people were losing their jobs.

Granted, my job isn't exactly the type of job with a cushy salary and nice hours. 

I work with adolescents who have cognitive and behavioral challenges who live in a group home. You could call me a support staff, I suppose. I help administer meds, try and redirect maladaptive behaviors (sometimes successfully, other times not so much...), cook meals, clean, go out into the community, and whatever else the kids need. It's 24 hours care, so it'd be rare to go a week without getting called into work, or having to switch shifts, or staying late, or coming early, or work doubles (16hrs). And since the kids are in school 9 months out of the year, I'd typically work evenings ... in other words, I had no social life. Sometimes I'd get hit, kicked, bit, cursed at, or have my hair pulled. Sometimes I would be so emotionally drained that my only response was to cry. (Not a good idea, by the way).

But, I'd do it all again.

Why? Because of one neat chick who I got to meet three years ago.

Even though this one gal made me earn her trust, (see above for details), I've gotten to form the coolest relationship with her. And she has made the hugest impact on my life. No doubt have I benefited more than she has from our time together, though I'd like to think otherwise.

I'm only working one day a week because of school, but getting to see her is almost always a highlight of my week.

I wish I could post a picture of her beautiful face and tell you all sorts of fun stories, but I don't want to jeopardize my job. So you'll just have to trust me. She's pretty amazing.

30 days of gratitude - days 17-20

Geez, the last few days have gone by fast! 

day 17 - thankful that I got to catch up with some old friends
day 18 - thankful that my group project is over with
day 19,10 - thankful for a weekend off with TJ. It's a rare occasion to have a weekend off together. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 16

I am thankful for people who are passionate about what they do and work hard to motivate people around them. 

I am thankful that I get to interact with passionate people and be inspired by them on a daily basis. 

I am thankful that my nutella and toast almost tasted like a doughnut. 

I am thankful for public transportation. It's saved me hundreds of dollars in gas not to mention the cost of a parking permit.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 15

Today, I'm thankful for Tuesdays. 

Why, you ask? Here are the top 10 reasons why:
  1. I don't have class
  2. I get to grocery shop (seriously. I love grocery shopping)
  3. I don't have class
  4. I have time to make dinner (stir fry tonight)
  5. I don't have class
  6. I get to catch up on homework
  7. I don't have class
  8. I have time to organize and clean
  9. I don't have class
  10. I get extra cuddle time with my cats 
Yep. That's why I'm thankful for Tuesdays! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 14

I am thankful for my sister, Rachel.

The girl texted me this morning and told me she got a 99.5 on her English paper. To say I'm proud of her is an understatement. 

Rachel is one of the brightest people I know. She's also one of the most bull-headed and stubborn people I know. If she thinks something is pointless (say, most of high school) she won't give it the time of day. 

Last year Rachel chose to live with me and TJ. She stayed with us for 6 months. When she moved in with us, I was so excited, but a little nervous. Let's just say Rach and I didn't get along all that well growing up. It wasn't until right before TJ and I got married that we started having conversations and connecting. 

That short time Rachel lived with us wasn't always sunshine and rainbows, but overall it was good for our sisterly relationship. I got to see a side of Rach I didn't know existed. And she got to experience something resembling independence. And we had plenty of hilarious adventures.  She's got a fantastic sense of humor and great taste in t.v. shows and movies. 

The main reason she chose to move home was to pursue school. She applied, got accepted, but then had to face some frustrations during the process. She was very close to giving up on the idea of school, but she stuck with it. 

And today she aced her English paper. 

I have a lot to learn from Rachel. She has a giant heart for people. Especially for the unloved, unwanted, and cast aside. She stands up for people, even if it means risking her own reputation. She's outspoken, passionate, and won't back down.

She's using her powers for good. 

She will make an excellent social worker someday. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 13

Today I am thankful for my brother, Kevin.

This weekend he got to play Edmund in his school's play - The Chronicles of Narnia. My little brother has always be a bit theatrical. In a good way. He's got a kind heart, he's witty, and brilliant. He's pensive and insightful way beyond his years. He had to grow up with three very dramatic older sisters, so he's patient and understanding.

One of the hardest parts about being so far away from my family is missing him grow up. Every time I come home he's changed. His voice has gotten deeper, he's grown taller, become involved in new activities, and made new friends. He's not the little kid I remember when I moved away.

I'm thankful for Kevin because he brings a calming presence to my family. I'm thankful for the deep conversations we have. I'm thankful that he's been so kind to his crazy older sisters. And I'm thankful to have him as my brother.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 12

Today I am grateful for my sister, Elizabeth.

This morning, she landed in Cambodia to lead a team of volunteers to help girls who've been rescued from the brothels and sex trade.

Even though while we were growing up I was constantly annoyed by my nearly perfect older sister, I can't even express the amount of respect and admiration I have for my big sis now. She's an idealist and a dreamer. She sees good in people that no one else can see. She intelligent, articulate, and empathetic. She bikes everywhere she goes, even in the dead of a Wisconsin winter. She's ambitious, adventurous, and a great story teller.

You can check out her Cambodia blog here. She mentioned to me that she would be updating it during her stay in Cambodia. If you're the praying type, please keep her in your prayers.

30 days of gratitude - day 11

I guess it may seem obvious that since yesterday was Veteren's Day, I would be thankful for the veterans. 

I am. 

I don't come from a long line of family who have served in the military. In fact the only person who I know of was my Grampa's brother who served in WWII and was killed. I know that impacted my Grampa tremendously, and he never failed to show his love of country. 

Because this is an issue that hasn't hit close to home, I've had some difficulty connecting with this holiday. (Just being honest here...)

BUT, over the last year I've met people who've served in the military, or who've had brothers, dads, or husbands serve and I've had a tiny insight into the tremendous sacrifice that they've made. 

So I know I'm a day late, but thank you to those people who've chosen to make that sacrifice.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 10

Today, I'm thankful that both TJ and I got out of class early and got a chance to cross quite a few things off of our ever-growing checklist of things to do.

I'm thankful for hot chocolate. Good smelling candles. Cuddly cats. My esthetician. And a night at home without homework ... (not that I don't have homework, it's just that I'm choosing not to do it). 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 days of gratitude - days 6, 7, 8, and 9

Today I play catch up on my grateful days. You know why? Because this one is a big one. So big, I can barely write this without getting all emotional.

I am thankful I am learning how to be an Occupational Therapist. I'm feeling giddy just typing it. But more than just thankful to be in the program, I am thankful for the entire process ... everything from the decision to go back to school up until now. I've had some amazing experiences, met some remarkable people, made new friends, and climbed a few personal mountains. It's been a game changer.

A year ago I was taking a couple prerequisite courses, filling out my grad school application and studying for the GRE. 

Today, I got to learn about the therapeutic use of self, motor planning, and discussed ALS, MS, and Parkinson's Disease.

I'm doing it, guys. I'm here. I'm in the program. I am loving it. I belong here. I feel like I am meant to be an OT. I can't even tell you with words how much this experience has changed my life. 

I have struggled a lot in the past with my identity. I played softball my whole life and I decided to quit going into my sophomore year in college. Looking back, I see that it was most likely my fear of failure that led me to quit. After that, I had a really hard time finding anything I was passionate about. I was lost, insecure, and constantly morphing my interests depending on who I was hanging around. 

For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a passion for something. The whole experience of going back to school, putting myself out there for rejection, focusing all of my time, energy, and money on a goal has helped me find who I am. I am extremely passionate about Occupational Therapy, but I'm also passionate about cooking, and diy projects, and learning about style, and bodyrocking, and being a better friend, and being a better wife, and rediscovering what it means to follow God, not being afraid of failure anymore, and learning, oh learning, I love learning new things! That feeling I get when a new concept finally clicks, that is what gets me through 18 hours of studying over the weekend! I'm using my brain, thinking for myself, and finally feeling like I have something to say. 

Like I said, this was a big one for me. I don't even want to think about who I'd be if I hadn't decided to take that jump and go back to school. So much good has come from it. 

I know that someday, when I'm telling my life story to my grand kids, I'll look back on the years surrounding this experience as a pivotal point in the direction my life took. Though I don't know all the good that will come from it, my heart is already bursting with all the awesome that already has. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 5

I've never, ever, ever been so happy to get an 82% on a test.

I worked dang hard for that 82%. The best part is, I don't have to take the test again. For all of our tests we're required to get at least a 75% or we have to retake it. This was the first time I turned in a test and thought, "oh, I hope I passed...".

So today, I am thankful that I don't have to retake my neuro exam.

And for something non-school related: I'm thankful that  I got to have a coffee date with a good friend this morning. I haven't gotten to see her in months and it was great to catch up.

Also, I'm grateful that I have time to make dinner today. And that we have a new Trader Joe's. They sell tortillas that don't have partially hydrogenated oils. And their produce is great. And I'm thankful I can shop on Tuesday morning when it's not packed. Seriously, there were like 8 people in the store.

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 5

There's nothing like talking a walk with a good friend to get some drinking chocolate on crisp, fall day. Especially if it was after taking a neurology exam. I ashamed to admit this, but this was the first day I felt like I've gotten to experience fall. And I am so thankful I got that experience before all the leaves are off the trees and snow starts falling.

So today I'm thankful for fall, drinking chocolate, long walks, and good chats.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 4

It became apparent to me  very quickly what I was thankful for today.

I'm thankful for TJ. 
Tomorrow I have the hugest neurology exam ever. (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration) 

I told TJ I wouldn't be going to church this morning because I needed to study. He was totally supportive. 

I was studying at a coffee shop while he was at church and I realized I had forgotten my giant white board that comes in handy for studying stuff like this. I asked if he would stop home and get it for me, and he did. (I didn't even end up using it then)

Then, after I got home I ignored the pile of dishes and clutter gathering in our apartment and hauled up in our study room (I guess that's why we call it our study room). When he got home he did the dishes and de-cluttered the apartment. 

I was hungry, but didn't want to cook. We don't eat out very often, but he willingly went and got chinese for us, which, come to find out, is a very difficult task on a Sunday night in Spokane. 

Then what did he do after he got done eating? He continued to clean. 

And what's he doing now? Baking bread for the week. (2 months without store bread!)

And what's he going to do later? Quiz me from my study guide. 

Talk about a totally selfless guy I married. For reals. It's not like he couldn't be doing his own homework, or playing guitar, or whatever. Instead he chose to make my very stressful day a little less stressful.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 3

After studying neurology for 8 hours today, I can honestly say that I am so thankful for my brain. 

Our brains our amazing. They allow us to learn a new skill, think critically, move our bodies, talk, perceive with our seven senses, feel emotions, form new habits (for better or worse), keep our hearts beating and our viscera functioning, and contain all of our experiences and make us who we are. It's astounding and I'm completely awestruck and the complexity of this pliable, jelly-like, convoluted organ. 

And I'm thankful I've been given a chance to actually use my brain. I'll hopefully go in depth on that another time. But, the weirdest thing is knowing that my brain is working to learn about the brain. That's just trippy. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 2

Not sure yet how I'm going to make up the 2 days I'm behind. Maybe I'll go into December? Or maybe I'll just have a day where I'm extra- super-duper thankful and I'll make them up then. For now, I'm on grateful day number 2.

And today I am grateful for my work schedule. I have a classmate who has 3 jobs, a wife, a daughter, and a son on the way. The same amount of school work is expected of us. Class time, homework, group projects... and he somehow manages. In fact, he never even complains.

I'm thankful for my one, eight-hour shift a week. I'm thankful that's all I have to do. That I can still occasionally spend time with TJ, have a lazy night once in a while, and sometimes even get together with friends. All-in-all, it's not too shabby.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 1

I know I'm a couple days behind, but I've decided to play along. Between classes and homework and more homework and the occasional cleaning, it's hard to take a breath to think about anything else. Hopefully this will force me to take a step out of my tiny world and reflect on what's all going on around help me open my eyes to what I can be thankful for.

I have two great friends, both named Bethany. One  has been a life-long friend who lives 1500 miles away. The other one is going through this crazy grad school program with me. Even though I've only known her 4 months, we just clicked. Instantly.

Today I got a sweet message from long-distance Bethany that totally made my day. I also got to have a deep, wonderful, much needed conversation over sparkling water with my grad-school Bethany. Both helped to lighten a particularly stressful day. 

So today, I am thankful for my Bethany friends!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'd rather be in school

I finished my classes two weeks ago. For so long I had been anticipating just how I would use my lovely time away from school. I had dreams of relaxing, reading, and maybe even busting out a few sewing projects.  Well, it's been two weeks and I call do-over. I thought a fun way to recap my two weeks of "vacation" would be to play a little game called, "I'd rather be in school than...."

  • ...have the check engine light go on in my car
  • ...have my car lock broken and my cd player get stolen
  • ...sweat in my apartment with a broken air conditioner during the hottest weeks of summer
  • ...have giant spiders crawl on me while I try to sleep
  • ...not get any sleep because I'm afraid spiders are going to crawl on me
  • ...have to bug bomb my apartment at 2 o'clock in the morning and sleep in a walmart parking lot
That just about sums it up. But, there's hope. It's been 4 days since I've seen a spider. My apartment manager just replaced our air conditioner. A friend is going to help my husband replace our car lock and cd player. In a week I leave for Arizona to visit my Gramma. Here's to 3 more weeks of vacation, which I plan to thoroughly enjoy.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

coffee shops and iced tea

While the rest of the country has been experiencing a major heat wave, my little corner of the world has been rather pleasant. I really can't complain about the weather. It's been staying steady in the 80s. 

I know I just said I wouldn't complain about the weather. And I won't. But what I will say is that an air conditioner from the early 1980s does not cool off a top-floor apartment. At all.  

And a hot apartment = decreased productivity (seriously, it took me 30 minutes to fold a basket of clothes...)

decreased productivity = a messy apartment

a messy apartment = no concentration

no concentration = homework fail 

The solution to this problem?
Spend all my time at coffee shops. Nice, air conditioned coffee shops. Drinking iced tea. Eating an occasional pastry. Busting out study guides, online quizzes, papers, and even lugging around my giant whiteboard to help me learn my muscles. 

What's so great about this, is that it has given me the chance to be a regular somewhere. I split my time between 3 coffee shops and I've slowly gotten to know the people who make my iced tea. 

In less than two weeks, my summer classes will be done. Even though it doesn't make much sense to still spend so much time at coffee shops when there's no homework to do, I like the feeling of being connected to my community. 

I think I'll keep going. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

cherry picking

One of my assignments was to do an activity analysis. That required me to pick an activity and observe it for about an hour in order to analyze it.

I immediately thought to pick something that would give me a great excuse to have fun while doing homework.

That lead to a drive out to a local farming community to pick some cherries with TJ after class. Let me tell you, I analyzed the heck out of that activity. Mostly in between fistfuls of cherries, but I'm pretty sure I got all of the info I needed. And 5lbs. of cherries on the side.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Extensor Indicis

One of my favorite studying tools is my giant whiteboard and set of 8 brightly colored dry erase markers. I use them to help me study for my cadaver anatomy class. The whole class consists of learning all the muscles in the body. Not just their names, but where they attach, how they function, and what nerve they're innervated by.

Though I'm no artist, my anatomy drawing skills are definitely improving. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011


That is how I felt yesterday late afternoon.

When I found out I had been accepted to grad school, I immediately gave my employer my school schedule. It was fairly simple. Saturday swing shift. One day a week.

Yesterday was Saturday (obviously). I had been at work for almost 2 hours when I decided to take a look at next week's schedule. You can imagine my horror when I discovered that I had been scheduled to work Sunday morning. The next day. At 6am.


I don't know about you, but I do not handle change very well...especially when it comes to my schedule. It throws me off big time and usually the end result is not pretty.

This time was no different.

I was lucky enough that the person working grave offered to stay until 7:30am for me. But even despite that kind gesture and an extra hour of sleep, I just could not reclaim today. Here I am, 10:30 at night, reflecting on my completely "wasted" day. I wish I could do it over again.

Instead of homework I...

  • went to the gym. Something I have neglected to do all week
  • went grocery shopping. We've been out of bread for 3 days. 
  • listened to This American Life podcast. I'm an NPR nerd.
  • cooked dinner. Another thing I haven't done all week.
  • cleaned the kitchen. TJ's been wonderfully doing dishes all week long and he deserved a break.
All of these things are good things, but I got them done at the expense of my homework. 

I know it's my fault for not using my time well after work this afternoon, but gosh darnit, I'm going to blame my work for this one.  Unfortunately, choosing to blame work instead of myself doesn't do me any good. I've got 30 pages to read (and understand) and 200 note cards to make (and then find time to study).

Now all I can think about is if this is going to happen again. Am I going to show up to work next Saturday only to discover that I'm scheduled on Sunday? Or maybe Monday since it's a holiday and my boss will assume I can work since I don't have school. My life is fairly chaotic right now, and I'm not sure I can handle anymore work "surprises".

Thanks for letting me vent, blog land. Not sure if anyone is listening, but either way, I appreciate the outlet.

Friday, June 24, 2011

the first week of school

after my first day of class

My brain is a little bit overloaded.  I'm going to keep this post nice and concise by just pointing out the highlights of the week.
  • I've got some pretty stinking cool classmates
  • Some fears were conquered
  • I'm an expert on third class levers in the body (okay, maybe not an expert...)
  • My instructors are wonderful
  • Got to play with a box of bones (the ulna articulates with the trochlea of the humerus...)
  • I ate PB&J every day 
  • Experiencing overwhelming feelings of gratitude and appreciation
Another thing I discovered is that I need to do some major review on the anatomy of the body, so this whole weekend is pretty much dedicated to a stack of note cards and my anatomy atlas. I hope your weekend is just as exciting! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

happy birthday, Grampa Paul

My Gramps and me on my wedding day

As I am writing this, I realize that this will probably be published on June 9th, but June 8th is my Grampa's birthday.

It wasn't too long ago I wrote a post about my other Grampa. Well, let's just say last year was a difficult year for my family. My Grampa Paul passed away nine months ago, and today he would have been 83. 

Gramps was a difficult man to get to know, and somewhat intimidating. I remember how nervous I felt to call him up to tell him I was getting married, and his reaction sure didn't disappoint. I believe it was something to the effect of , " What?! Are you kidding!!!!???" As you can tell by the picture, he eventually warmed up to the idea.

Even though my Gramps wasn't the most sensitive man, nor was he open with his feelings, he never failed to let me know how much he loved me. I can't even count the number of times he would slip me a $50 bill for a little fun money, or send me e-cards, pass along helpful life skills tips, and show up to my softball games. Or that one time he drove 4 hours to pick me up and then take me to buy my first car. He was always looking out for me. 

My Grampa was articulate and intelligent. He lived humbly so he could give generously. He loved to eat. Watching him at Thanksgiving time was the best." Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm, this is SOOOOO good" he would say as he slowly (and I mean VERY slowly) polished off his plate. He loved his Honda Goldwing motorcycle. We would always here him pull up to our house with his dixieland jazz tunes blaring. He had a great appreciation for music and a stellar voice. He would always add a little bass line to any song he would listen to ..."bum, ba-bum, bumm". He loved to golf. He loved his family, even more than he loved his country. And that was a lot.

And he called me Andy. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

cloudy with a high of 65

I got this beauty in my bountiful basket and I can't wait until it's ripe.

Here we are. The first day of June. Looking outside, you'd never guess it was June. It more or less resembles April weather. But, there is one upside to the unusually cold weather. You see, my car has been nicknamed the "easy bake oven" because it's small, dark blue, and will slowly cook anyone riding in it. It is always at least 10 degrees warmer than the weather outside. Oh, and it doesn't have a working air conditioner. So this cool weather provides temporary relief while I'm driving.

Typically, I'm always a little sad to say good-bye to the month of May, but this year there's a lot to look forward to in the month of June.

  • Ahhhh....the Farmers Markets. Though they started popping up in May, the good stuff doesn't really start to come out until June. I miss the market in my hometown in Wisconsin, but I'm trying to make the most of what's available here. I think it's important to support my local community, and this is such a fun way to do it. 
  • At the end of this week, I am dropping down to working one shift a week at my job. As much as I love my job, I will not miss the crazy hours and unpredictable work schedule that is so not conducive to any sort of a social life. This schedule change will definitely help with finding some rhythm. 
  • I'm getting a little visit from my dad and his wife. It's his first time out to the great northwest and thank goodness it happens to be a pretty "happening" weekend in my city. We'll be busy hanging out at the Farm Chicks Show to visit my friend, Becca, who is a vendor, and also head over to ArtFest and maybe even take a drive up to Green Bluff.  (Strawberry picking also starts in June! Bonus!)
  • Next week, I actually get to have a couple of days off with TJ. That's right. No school. No work. No homework, even. This hardly ever happens, and so we always appreciate times like this. I'm thinking we're going to live it up with a drive to Coeur d'Alene, a little frisbee, and maybe even catch a flick. And definitely ice cream. 
  • The biggest and best-est thing that's coming up the start of GRAD SCHOOL! I've been nervously anticipating this since I first got my acceptance letter on March 15, and now it's less than 3 weeks away. I just need to do a little school supply shopping and take some time to crack open my giant anatomy books to give myself a little refresher. I can't wait to meet my classmates, a.k.a. the 29 people I will spend all of my time with over the next 2.5 years. Maybe I'll even make some new friends. 
Here's to June, and all the good things it brings with it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

keep breathing

Almost four years ago, Pandora helped me discover Ingrid Michaelson. This was before hearing her songs in Old Navy commercials, Grey's Anatomy, or on the radio. I've been a fan for a while. 

Do you ever hear a song that seems to put to words exactly how you've been feeling? This song has done just that for me the last few days. 

It's been a season of change and adjustments. Between crazy school schedules for my husband (TJ) piled on top of his new job, combined with my crazy work schedule and the anticipation of grad school starting (in less than a month, may I add), it's left us wanting to get some rhythm back in our lives. 

It's on the horizon. I know it's coming. But for now, all I can do is keep breathing...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

a very belated birthday present

For the most part, I've been attempting to make birthday presents instead of buy them this year. Unfortunately, I have failed miserably at getting them done in time. So far, my sister's gift is the latest. 
I finally got my sister her birthday present fourty-six days after her birthday.

I am a terrible sister. 

Also, instead of wrapping it, I had my little bro model it for her. He's such a good sport.

I found the tutorial here. The tutorial was great and the pictures were very helpful! The blogger mentioned that she whipped it together during her son's afternoon nap. I'm assuming her son napped for 15 hours or so, because that's about how long it took me.

Overall, I'm happy with how it turned out. But more importantly, I think my sister is too. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

fruits and veggies

I'm in day 5 of a week long fruit and veggie cleanse.

I have been thinking about doing something like this for months now. I have researched different kinds of detox diets and I knew I wouldn't be ready for anything like the Master Cleanse. I had been leaning toward a green food only detox, when last week I talked to a friend who had just done a fruit and veggie cleanse. Essentially, for 7 days you can eat as many fruits and veggies as your heart desires, but only fruits and veggies. It sounded much more doable, so a few days later I gave it a go.

Here's what I discovered.

If I was given the choice between dying and eating something I hate, say... mayo or seafood, I would probably die.

I don't eat for survival, I eat for pleasure.

I always kind of assumed I had an unhealthy attachment to food, but this solidified it. Almost all 4 nights I've gone to bed hungry, because I just can't seem to get myself to choke down anymore cauliflower or spinach. Typically, I have no problem eating my fruits and vegetables, but when it's the only thing I can eat it loses its appeal very quickly.

I'm not sure what to do with this realization. I'm not necessarily content in this, but for now I guess I'll just hope that I'm never in a "eat this or die" situation.

One thing that I have loved about the cleanse is my fruit smoothies for breakfast. My favorite part of the day. This morning I threw together a smoothie with strawberries, peaches, and a mango, and it was fantastic.

Monday, May 16, 2011

happy birthday, Grampa Don

*I'm not sure how I managed to go through the whole day thinking it was the 17th of May, which is my Grampa's actual birthday...not May 16th. I guess that's what happens when I have a day off work. 

Today would have been my Grampa's 79th birthday. He passed away a little over a year ago from cancer.

He was a remarkable man. I know my words can't do justice. He was a strong, but gentle man. He was the definition of a hard worker. He loved everyone and judged no one. He was intelligent and innovative. He was humble and always cared for others above himself. He had a great sense of humor it was so cute when he would make my Gramma blush. He was the best story teller. He spoke with such wisdom and depth. He always beat me at zilch, but he could never beat my Gramma. =) I miss him more than I can express, but I'm so thankful that I got to have him as my Grampa.

Friday, April 29, 2011

HiBall and this american life

Holy Moses.

I am so tired.

Probably not the best time to write a blog post. I'm in my 24th hour of being awake. I just finished my 18 hour shift. That's EIGHTEEN, just in case you missed it. But I'm not complaining.

I work with adolescents who have developmental disabilities. They live in a group home and we the staff provide 24 hour care. I've been working here for 2 1/2 years. I'm very close to beating my old record of longest time employed at one place. I worked as a server at a mom and pop restaurant for 3 months shy of 3 years. That was a good character building job. It taught me how to talk to strangers. Before that, I was never very good.

Here are a bunch of reasons why I love my now job.

  1. I work with kids with developmental disabilities. 
  2. They are the coolest group of people
  3. I'm often humbled by how loving and accepting they are ...("I want to give my clothes to the poor people...") 
  4. Sometimes we get to go to movies or plays
  5. Other times we get to go on hikes or to parks 
  6. The pet store employees know us 
  7. GREAT conversation
  8. I (with the help of the kiddo) get to plan out what my shift looks like
  9. Unpredictable. One minute you're coloring, the next you're dodging teeth
  10. Hilarious. Like the time one kid asked if I would "french fry" her hair. Another time I got called a "chocolate chip cookie dough whore." 
  11. My employer pays for new glasses if one of the kids breaks them. I found that out first hand
  12. I get the privilege to care for the marginalized
  13. They've taught me not to worry so much about how I appear to other people. You better believe we're singing in the grocery store and holding hands in the mall. And no, we're not lesbians (someone really asked that once). And yes, despite what you may think, she has a beautiful voice. So please don't stare or snicker. She notices
In just over a month, I'm dropping down to one shift a week. It's bitter sweet. I'm so very excited to start grad school, but I know that once I start that journey it means I'm transitioning out of these people's lives. Being that I've worked with these kids for as long as I have, I've been able to build some pretty awesome relationships and witness huge amounts of growth. It will be hard for me to watch new staff come in and take over my role, but I have to trust that God loves these kids way more than I ever could, and he will continue to take care of them, even without me in the picture. 

I have to give a shout out to the makers of   HiBall and This American Life. I rarely work overnights and I think there's only been three times I've ever worked a swing/overnight double. It was good to have a source of caffeine that doesn't give me gut rot, and something to engage my mind so as to keep me from dozing. I couldn't have done it without you guys. 

Good Morning! *yawn*. I'm going to bed... 

Friday, April 22, 2011

the dreaded GRE

Here's the technical definition of the GRE (Graduate Record Exam): "a standardized exam used to measure one's aptitude for abstract thinking in the areas of analytical writing, mathematics and vocabulary. The GRE is commonly used by many graduate schools to determine an applicant's eligibility for the program."

Here's my definition of the GRE: "a means of torture that you pay $160 for, which involves 3-6 months of hardcore preparation all leading up to the dreaded 3 hours of anxiety and panic, which the results of said 3 hours will either bring celebration or crush all of your hopes and dreams."

I knew going into this process that taking the GRE was inevitable. It was required. I knew that a minimum score of 900 was needed. For those who don't keep tabs on the GRE scoring system, a perfect score is 1600 which would be the combined total of an 800 in mathematics and 800 in vocabulary. It also includes 2 different essays which are scored on a scale from 1-6. 

So. All I needed was a 900, right? Wrong. In actuality, the people who were accepted into the program last year all scored between 1000-1200. So really, 900 just wouldn't cut it. It's like fine print. "The minimum GPA required is 3.3" "But really we won't consider anyone who has below a 3.8."

My original plan was to borrow a study guide from a coworker who had been planning on taking it, because those books are like, $40, and if I'm going to spend $40 it's going to be on a pair of jeans. Or more realistically, groceries. 

When I got my friend's book, I was slightly distracted by all of the work he had already done, and it was hard to get an accurate judgement of where I was when all of the answers on the practice tests were staring me in the face. So I sucked it up and forked over $40 for my own brand spanking new GRE study guide. And 1 month later, I bought another one. Because they are that much fun. 

Long story short, I did well. I busted out an 1120 and it was probably one of the highlights of this whole process. I've never been good at the standardized tests, and I thought for sure I'd be lucky to get a 900. I had taken 5 practice tests that ranged anywhere from 850-1050, so I was shocked. And shaking. And totally stoked. 

So, if you have to take the GRE, here are a few tips that worked well for me: 
  • give yourself 3 months to prepare. Over those three months try and devote one or two days a week to going through the study guide
  • I used Princeton Review and Kaplan study books and I thought the two complemented each other very nicely
  • do timed practice tests to get an idea of how to pace yourself
  • lastly, vocab. Make vocabulary flashcards and study. 
For those of you who don't have to take this test, thank your lucky stars. For those that do, good luck! 

the color sense game

Who doesn't love a good personality quiz?

I discovered one called, Color Sense Game. It asks the questions, "What color do you feel?" It's full of beautiful pictures and descriptive words that are suppose to help "reveal" your color personality!

There was no surprise here! My primary color match was water beads, (a.k.a blue), which shows that I crave calm, peaceful environments. My secondary color match was almonds and honey, (a.k.a. yellow) which represents clarity and happiness.

What is your color sense?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

reusable produce bags

Yes. That really is a big pile of tulle. And a very wrinkly tablecloth. 

One of the gifts we got last Christmas was a set of really nice reusable grocery bags. I was so excited to use them! I remember my first grocery shopping trip where I brought the bags along. I ended up feeling weirdly hypocritical as I was handing my reusable grocery bags to the bagger and looking at all of the little plastic produce bags I had used. 

I know you can buy different kinds of reusable produce bags, but where's the fun in that? It's just too easy!

The other night I came across this wonderfully, easy tutorial, and I knew I had to give it a go!

Here's the before picture: You'll notice the oranges are in the plastic bag from the store.

Here's the after picture: The oranges are now in a reusable and fun, yellow tulle bag.

A yard of fabric made 4 bags. At $0.79 a yard, I'd say that's a pretty fantastic deal!

*Disclaimer: It seems that when you combine weird apartment lighting with someone trying to figure out a new camera, you get some kind of crazy effects. Hopefully as I begin to figure stuff out, my pictures will improve. So thanks for bearing with me...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

taking a walk on the crafty side

The beautiful and unabashed artwork of my 2 year old niece

I remember when I was younger (I'm talking seven or eight) I had hopes that someday I would write and illustrate a children's mystery novel. For those of you who know me, feel free to laugh. I would spend hours filling notebooks with pictures of characters, giving each one a personality and a name. After I while, I got bored because all my people looked pretty much the same. Ask me to draw a person today, and it wouldn't look much different than my drawings at eight. That's how good I am. 

Another art form I was introduced to at a young age was cross stitching. All the women on my dad's side of the family are creative and crafty. And bless my Gramma's heart, she took on the challenge of teaching me to cross stitch. I enjoyed it. It was relaxing and it kept my hands busy. (I've always been fidgety) But, again, with no patience to learn different types of stitches, my cross stitching plateaued pretty quickly, and I got bored. 

My Gramma must have really loved me, because she also agreed to help me sew a barbie dress. That experience was traumatic enough that it would be the last time I would touch a sewing machine for almost 10 years. 

Here's the thing. I was a tomboy. I was the boyish-looking kid who loved sports and would spend hours outside with friends getting dirty climbing trees and rescuing snakes. 

I was a conflicted child. I went through phases were I wanted to draw and sew and craft, but when I would get frustrated with a project, I'd run outside, pick up a ball, and play. 

Today, I still feel conflicted. I have gone through so many short lived crafty phases. I can't tell you how many times I've attempted to knit something.  My honeymoon scrapbook, I fear, will never be done. When I bought my sewing machine two years ago, I had big dreams of making bags and clothes. In reality, Tomboy Andrea doesn't have the patience to accept the fact that being a beginner sewer means it that it won't turn out perfectly, there are going to be stupid mistakes made, and it will take at least fifteen times longer than the tutorial says.  

My point is, (yes, I have a point), that if I want to improve and cultivate my crafty side, I need to practice. I need to be okay if the finished result isn't perfect. (Even though I don't have the patience to create perfection, I still expect it). I need to not undertake huge projects that will take me a lifetime to finish. And most important, I cannot compare myself to the crafty brilliance that surrounds me. 

As long as I keep that in mind, it shouldn't be long until I open my own etsy shop! (juuuust kidding!)  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

my love affair with A&P: part 2

Mr. Fillmore is a "no frills" kind of man. Once class started, it was on. We had our first lecture test the Friday of the second week of school. There was no time for dorking around.

The lectures leading up the first exam was filled with rapid note taking (I'm talking hand cramps), anxiety brought on by terms and processes I had "learned" once before, and fear. Definitely fear. What was most disturbing to me, though, was that I was actually interested in the material. I found myself completely engaged and at times even giddy. Yep, I probably looked like a freak smiling through A&P class, but I couldn't help it. It was so fascinating!

Despite that I was engaged, interested, and definitely learning, I still had the dark cloud from my past hanging over my head. This girl just doesn't do well in science classes. After my first exam, I was a nervous wreck waiting for my grade to be posted. I don't know if you've been there before where you feel like you did well, but then you feel that because you feel you did well, you must have done terribly. You follow?  I got 105%. I celebrated with ice cream.

But the dark cloud didn't go away all quarter. After every test I thought, the other tests were just a fluke, there's no way you can keep up this act. You don't do good in biology classes. I actually cried after my second test because I thought I did so poorly. I ended up getting 100%.

The purpose of this is not to talk about how awesome I did in A&P class, but the identity crisis that it seemed to cause. I was freakin' out! I had never, ever identified myself with science-y people, but I couldn't deny my passion for A&P. I don't know what changed in me. Was it the learning environment or maybe just because I'm older and more focused? Maybe I had the potential all along. I don't know.

What I do know is that I love A&P class. I love learning how the body fits together and how all of the different processes work in keeping us going. I have a great deal of respect to those who have donated their bodies to science so we can learn. I love that because of this class I learned so much about myself.

I no longer have anxiety over biology classes. I'm not afraid of the cadaver lab I have to do this summer. I have fully embraced this science-y part of me. And it feels pretty darn good.

Monday, April 4, 2011

my love affair with A&P: part 1

My decision to go back to school came with a little anxiety. Up to that point I had gone through most of my academic career without fully applying myself. I never did terrible, but I wasn't one of those people who classmates went to for help, that's for sure.

One of the things that always kept me from really trying is the fear of failure. I could be happy with getting A-'s and B's, and the occasional A, because I wasn't completely invested. But, what if I did try and I still couldn't pull it off? I mean, I was the athlete of the family. That was my role. My older sister carried the academic torch. Heck, even my other siblings had me beat. Looking back, I can see that I was the only one putting limits on myself, and I was definitely living up to my expectations, which were clearly not that high.

But now my expectations had shifted. When I started this whole process, I told myself that I would be in this 100%. No slacking.

Since I had taken most of the prerequisites during my undergrad, I only had 3 classes to take: Intro to OT, Statistics (barf), and Anatomy and Physiology. I squeezed into the A&P class and Intro to OT for the fall quarter, but I decided to wait until winter quarter to take Statistics. I filled the rest of my credits with a sign language class and a fitness class. Apart from the A&P, my schedule was cake.

On my first day of school, I got to my A&P class 45 minutes early. A little overzealous, perhaps? I paged through my giant elephant of a textbook and thought, what have I gotten myself into?

When the classroom was free I walked into the auditorium and sat myself in the center of the third row. I knew nobody. I jotted a few things in my planner trying to look studious and like I didn't mind not having anyone to talk to while I waited for Mr. Fillmore to start the class.

Now, I did my homework and looked up Mr. Fillmore on, and from what I could tell, he was pretty fantastic. It wasn't him I was worried about, but the subject matter. Biology and I had quite a history together. During my undergrad I took Human Biology, Microbiology, and Advanced Physiology.I skirted by with B's, but oh the torture. I spent ridiculous amounts of time memorizing facts and regurgitating them for tests, but I never understood it. And most of all, I hated lab. h-a-t-e-d it. I wanted nothing to do with decapitated frogs and sheep's eyes. Ugh.

After lecture that first day, I left class feeling hopeful. Hopeful that I could understand the concepts. Hopeful that I could pull off a 4.0. Hopeful that maybe I'd make some friends. Hopeful that I could get a letter of recommendation from Mr. Fillmore.

Hope was good, but it only got better.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

puzzle pieces

Does it ever happen to you, where you sit back and think about all of the events that had to take place in order for you to be where you are right now?

Because I've done that a lot lately.

You see, I've just been accepted to grad school. This summer I begin the Masters of Occupational Therapy program and I'm so very excited. It's a place I really never thought I'd be. So how did I get here, you ask? 

Here are a few pretty significant experiences:
  • 5 years ago (summer before junior year in college) I got hired as a play therapist to work with kids who had been diagnosed with autism, even though I had no experience whatsoever. There I met a very amazing child who I'll call Julia. I got to go to one of her Occupational Therapy sessions.
  • I decided I wanted to be an OT. I started researching schools and, oh my gosh, there was a school that offered the program in the area where my then fiancĂ©e (now husband) and I were planning on moving to after we graduated. I begin taking prerequisite courses.
(Let me quick interject... I had idealistic plans to start grad school right after we moved, but essentially I didn't apply because of out of state tuition, and naively thought that by the time I became I resident of Washington I would be wanting babies, or just be too old, or something silly like that...)
  • My husband had a work from home job he planned on taking with him when we moved. His employer told him he had to work for 6 more months before he could move with the job. He went against everything in his being and quit, and we moved jobless.
  • 4 months after we moved, we stumbled across a new church. 4 months after that, we started attending regularly.
  • 5 months after that, I met someone I'll call Katie at a community dinner put on by our church. It just so happened that Katie was finishing up her second year of the Occupational Therapy program. We talked the rest of the night and I was definitely inspired. 
And that's when I began thinking about it. All of my lame excuses from before were completely obsolete. I was already a Washington resident. I definitely didn't want babies. And I certainly wasn't too old. And then I asked myself... what's stopping me? So I decided to go for it.

To think, if I would have never gotten the job as a play therapist I wouldn't have even known about OT. If we would have waited 6 months to move, we may have never found that church (because it was pretty crazy how we found it...but I'll go into that another time). Then I would have never met Katie, who was pretty much the catalyst in all of this. I think you get the point though. Not saying it would have never happened, but I still appreciate how it did.  

Now, I could go on and on listing different experiences that helped prepare me for grad school, but for your sake I'll stop here, though I can't guarantee that I won't revisit this again sometime. It almost makes me giddy to see how this has come together. It's like I've been staring at these puzzle pieces for years now and wondering what to do with them, because at times it seemed like they're not even from the same puzzle box. And then somewhere along they begin connecting. And let me tell you, it's a beautiful thing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why Jumping Bean?

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Andrea Jean. This girl absolutely loved to read books. One day, she was absolutely thrilled when her mom bought her a new book called, "Norma Jean, Jumping Bean." Instantly, Andrea felt a bond with this kangaroo named Norma Jean, because they shared the same middle name.

You probably guessed it... that girl was me.

"Norma Jean, Jumping Bean" tells the story of a kangaroo who loved to jump, but she didn't always know the appropriate times to jump, which lead to lots of trouble for Norma Jean. She thought that the only way she could stop causing trouble was to never jump again. (She was a sad kangaroo, as I'm sure you could imagine). By the end of the story she realized that she could still jump, BUT, there is a time for jumping.

Now that I've gotten older, I identify with more than just Norma Jean's middle name, but also with the struggles that often are apart of deciding when and where to jump in life. (Pretty deep for kids book, eh?)

Over the last year I've taken some pretty huge leaps. Leaps I never thought I would take. I've been pushed to places I didn't think I would go, (like a cadaver lab), and accomplished things I wouldn't have thought I was capable of accomplishing. This blog is going to be a spattering of stories of the last year, tales of grad school, and day-to-day happenings of life. Though I would have never guessed this is what my life would look like on the brink of 25, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

So here's to jumping...and landing on your feet.