frantic february

Since when did February become the busiest month of the year?  Since I came to graduate school and became an ADPi advisor, I guess.  Don’t get me wrong! For the most part, it’s a good kind of busy.  I’m just used to busy Decembers with finals weeks and the bustle of the holiday season.  But February? Really?  I feel like the nice, innocuous month of February planned a sneak attack this year!  Let me tell you what I’ve got going on, in pictures, perhaps:

Jan 31-Feb 2

ADPi’s District Leadership Conference in Tulsa, OK

ADPiCrest

First week in February

  • Giant Psychopathology Presentation–check! (I was stressing about this until the moment I was done presenting.  I hate being the first to go, and I really felt like I didn’t have enough time to thoroughly prepare for this presentation.  However, I did my best, and I think it went well.)
  • Alpha Ceremony
  • Alpha Event
  • Various ADPi socials which I may or may not attend
  • Ritual Reviews

Second week in February

  • First Valentine’s Day with Cason–making a pretty sweet gift, if I say so myself
  • Diamond Days

Third week in February

NASP

  • National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Annual Conference in Washington, DC–I will be gone Monday-Friday this week.  Thankfully, because my teachers are in the field, classes are cancelled.  I will have a bit of work/reading to do on the plan, but I’m sure it’s manageable.

Last week in February

I can’t even think that far ahead, but I’m sure there’s something!

Maybe this doesn’t look like as busy of a month as I thought it would, but this doesn’t really take into account all the various assignments and quizzes that full-time graduate work entails on top of being a good fiancé, trying to make friends, finding time for me, keeping in touch with my family, and planning a wedding.  Life happens.  Everyone has things on their plates.  I’m still just trying to figure out how to balance it all, and I’m sure that’s something that comes with time and experience.
I feel like I constantly write about how much work grad school is but how much I enjoy it…but it’s true.  It’s just one of those things that you can’t understand unless you’ve been there, and I can’t explain if you haven’t been there.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to just make people understand the things that we cannot explain in words when they cannot experience it for themselves?  That would come in handy in a lot of situations.  My guess is that it would also make the world a more compassionate, patient, and understanding kind of place.  So, I’ll leave you with that.

all i want for Christmas

bemerryLast night I had a series of strange dreams.  First, I dreamed that my family was celebrating Christmas in Arizona.  While we were waiting for the food to finish cooking, Mom and I decided to walk outside with my dog, Georgia.  Mom and Georgia went first, and I followed behind.  So as I’m walking out these sliding glass doors, I see a killer whale jump out of the pool in the back yard and onto the cement surrounding the pool.  It reminded me of how the whales slide on the ice to try to catch the seals, and in that moment my dog looked, to me, like a little baby seal.  All of this happened in slow-motion in my dream, and what followed was mass chaos.  I began yelling at my mom to catch the dog, both of whom were running around the pool like mad men.  Finally, I had to run to catch the dog and yell at the whale to ‘GET BACK IN THE POOL!’  Why he listened, I’m not sure, but he did.  So that was the first dream scenario that tried to ruin my Christmas.

hohoho

Then I dreamed that I was driving my car around town when every maintenance light began to light up the dash like our Christmas tree.  I’m certain that all of the lights were fake, but that’s beside the point I suppose.  I think my dream was trying to ruin my Christmas wish and prevent me from traveling home for Christmas.  However, jokes on you, nightmare, because we’re not taking my car home for Christmas; we’re taking Cason’s car, and it works fine.   (Mine does too, for the record.)  Alternatively, the dream could be about how much I dread the 13.5 hour drive home, which would be accurate.  If the cars break down, we HAVE to fly, right?  That would be nice.  Haha.  All I want for Thanksgiving and Christmas next year are plane tickets home.

merryandbrightNeedless to say, all I want this Christmas is to arrive home, safe and sound, and enjoy a nice break with my family.  I want to eat Nana’s creamed corn, have brunch with my friends and go dress shopping, open presents with my family, and make sure my teacup poodle doesn’t get attacked by a killer whale.  That’s not too much to ask for, is it?  Cason and I have so much to do in the next few days just to prepare for the long trek home, but we are excited, nonetheless.  We’ve prepared most of the presents for our families, purchased new Christmas outfits, mailed out Christmas cards, and done all of the laundry.  All that’s left is to clean out the cars, tidy up the house, pack all of our things, and make the journey home.  In just a few days we will be homeward bound!  Until then…

*The images in this blog come from various artists on Etsy.  Click on the images to redirect to the respective Etsy shops.  I just wanted to share some of my favorite holiday prints, as I am personally thankful for some extra traffic in my Etsy shop this holiday season.  Enjoy!

wintertime in waco

Why is it freezing in Waco, Texas?  I have no idea, but I sure am glad that it’s starting to feel like winter.

I’ve had so many priceless experiences in Waco over the past few months, and I’m blessed and thankful for my time here.  I’d like to share a few experiences that I’ve had in the past week or two–since Waco became somewhat of a winter wonderland.

  • Georgia
    Georgia in front of the Christmas tree.

    I spent…uh…Brown Thursday? shopping for a Christmas tree.  Cason and I decorated ornaments to put on the tree, which I hope will become an annual tradition.  I also got stockings for Cason, Georgia, and myself and hung them on the mantle.  I love decorating for Christmas each year, and I have so many fun memories.  Most years, I decorate  the family tree with my mom, hanging thumbprint ornaments from my childhood.  Then throughout undergrad I would decorate the common rooms with my roommates–Kristin, Alli, and Katlyn during my sophomore year and my ADPi sisters in the house during junior year.  This year is different, but I like the new traditions and new stockings!

  • My guilty pleasure: when the holidays roll around, I love to watch those cheesy Christmas movies on Hulu/Netflix.  They are so predictable, but honestly that’s what makes them great.  This season I’ve already watched a movie about an adorable little Jewish boy who just wants to celebrate Christmas and another movie about a girl who falls in love with her boss’s fiancé.  Cason makes fun of them the whole time, so he’s not allowed to watch them with me anymore…seriously.  I’ve been watching them while I complete my take-home finals…and while Cason is at work. (Since I started writing this post a week ago, I’ve watched at least 3 more cheesy Christmas movies, and I made Cason watch one.)
  • I also have been giving assessments to children for one of my classes.  (This semester we administered the WJ-III and the WISC-IV.)  It’s hard to believe that after just a semester of grad school I now have the basic know-how necessary to give some of the more widely used IQ tests in our field.  Also, since I’m not from here I had a harder time finding students to assess.  So, I reached out and was blessed with an amazing connection.  I now hopefully have at least a few parents I can call on who are willing to let me assess their kids throughout my time here at Baylor.  I’ve had great experiences with the families and the students all while gaining experience.
    Last week I met a sweet family with four boys, and the youngest fell in love with my teacup poodle, Georgia.  His mom told me later that he decided that Georgia needed her own play room with dog treats and legos, in case the boys came back to play.  I honestly think that Georgia would LOVE that.
  • February_2012_0114
    February_2012_0114 (Photo credit: cmiked)

    On Saturday, Cason and I went Christmas shopping for our family for the first time.  We got some amazing local items from the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market, and we are excited to share them with our family.  We also made a cute ornament to put on the tree!  Going to the market is always a great experience.

  • I’ve sold a few prints from my Etsy shop, which has been both an encouragement and a blessing.  It’s nice to know that people enjoy my work.  It’s an added bonus that I have a little extra cash in my pocket for the holiday season.

Overall, it has been a sweet holiday season in Waco, but I think it’s safe to say that Cason and I can’t wait to be home for a week.  I’m thankful that the semester has winded down and I have a little bit of time before we make the long trip home.  I know it’s gonna be quite the ride, but it will definitely be worth it.  Several of my family members have countdowns until the day I arrive.  I have tons of wedding planning to do.  I will get to see several friends, whom I haven’t seen in who knows how long.  Plus I will get to see several relatively new additions to the family, including my nephew and first cousins, once removed (yes, this is the correct terminology for my cousin’s children–no, they are not my second cousins).  Regardless of terminology, I am excited to see my family!

if at first you don’t succeed…

Downtown Oklahoma City–adorable.  Last weekend Cason and I visited some friends from home, who are now stationed in OK City.  They were the perfect hosts.  They took us to dinner downtown at this place called Texadelphia.  Cute little combo of Mexican and Philly cheese steaks.  Delicious.  Then we played Scattergories together and watched a hilarious Jim Carey movie.  I love traveling, and I really like that living in Texas now gives us opportunities to travel to new places without having to drive really far distances.

I had my first statistics exam on Monday, and I did well.  I’m thankful that I have this class my first semester in grad school because it is the one class where I’ve learned everything before.  Intro to School Psychology is good so far because it has mostly been topics about School Psychology that I researched when looking at different school psych programs.  Though my Psychology of Exceptional Children class is pretty new to me, a lot of it seems to be common sense so far.  There are loads of acronyms that I’ve never seen before, but I’ve learned them pretty quickly.  The biggest aspect of that class so far is that I will serve for 10 hours this semester outside of the classroom.  I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to tutor a 13-year old boy with Aspergers.  I’m really eager to get started, and I’m glad that I will be tutoring him in my favorite subject–math.

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Assessment is a completely new class; I never had the opportunity to learn how to administer cognitive abilities assessments.  Why would I have needed to?  Even though the class is new and sometimes difficult, the subject is interesting and necessary.  In order to do my job as a school psychologist well, I have to learn how to administer these assessments.  Today I will be administering my first assessment to another classmate.  After sitting in class for two weeks “learning” how to administer this assessment, I’m just ready to get the show on the road and actually do it!  It’s one thing to listen to someone tell you how to do it, but I have a feeling we will  learn more today by administering the test than we have learned in the past two weeks.  Experience seems to be the primary teacher in this field thus far.

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The theme for the next several years will likely continue to be, “Let’s throw them to the wolves and see how they do.”  The perfectionist in me doesn’t always like this idea.  I am a planner, and I like to have expectations clearly defined before I embark on a large task.  School psychology doesn’t work that way at all.  The only way to learn is to attempt, fail, and try again.  I like to watch others attempt and fail so that I can learn from that instead of making my own mistakes.  Well, that’s not an option here, so I’m still trying to get used to that.  Luckily, our first attempts and failures with administering this assessment are pretty low-risk.  So we make several mistakes in front of our peers–they’re likely to make similar mistakes.  Plus, I understand that they’d rather have us make the big mistakes with our peers and our professors instead of in the school setting.

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On another note, I get to fly home next weekend for my cousin’s wedding, and I am SO excited!  One, I love flying.  Two, I love weddings.  Three, I love Georgia.  Four, I love my family.  (That was in increasing order, if you didn’t notice.)  Needless to say, this is going to be a pretty awesome weekend.  Now I just have to get through five classes, several homework assignments, two quizzes, and one extra test administration & protocol.  Not too bad, right?  Honestly, it could be much worse.  I’m just thankful for three-day weekends and fun events to look forward to!

 

state pride

Over the past couple weeks I have been busy starting my new job, but I have also been working on some fabulous prints to go in my bathroom when I move to Waco. I’ve had so much fun making these prints in Photoshop that I’ve decided to list them on Etsy for anyone who may want their own custom prints. Click here for the shop and check out mine below!

columbusgaprint

USAtravelMap

wacotexasprint

limbo is real…

…I know because I’m stuck here now…in limbo, I mean.

Truthfully, that’s why I haven’t stopped by to write in a little while.  Everything seems to be in limbo right now, and I was trying to wait for some things to fall into place before I wrote about them.  Anyhow, things seem to be moving at a turtle’s pace in most areas, and I’m still playing the waiting game.  So, I decided to just go ahead and post an update of everything that is going on.  After all, this blog is supposed to be reflection of all of the paths in my life, not just the ones where everything is moving just as I would like.  So here we go…

China
I still have not received my official invitation to come and work in China.  I cannot apply for my visa until I have that, so I’m still in limbo until we get the letter.  We did however contact the program to see if I would still be eligible for the monthly stipend now that I will not be there for 5 months.  Good news on that is that I WILL be eligible to receive the same monthly stipend.  Praise for all of that working out.  However, I’m still undecided as to whether I will be going or not.  I guess it really depends on how long I will be able to go.  I know that any amount of time would be a life-changing experience, but I’m really starting to wonder if now is the right time.  Don’t get me wrong, I would still love to go.  The situation has just changed, and I think the wisest thing to do right now is to re-evaluate all of my options to determine if there is a more suitable choice for the time being.

Graduate School
I have been hesitant to post about my graduate school application process (even though I’ve already shared some with you), mostly because I have this fear of public failure.  To post about the schools I applied to and got interviews with would invariably be followed by a post about the schools that I did and did not get into.  BUT! I’ve decided that I’m getting over that fear, and I’m going to be very real about this whole process.
I’ve applied to Baylor, received an invitation to interview, had a Skype interview, and now I am waiting to hear back, hopefully next week.
Appalachian State wants me to come and interview on March 22nd.  Obviously I’ve been in limbo about this interview because I have been in limbo about China.  If I go to China, I’m not sure what happens with the interview, but if I don’t go to China, then I will head up there for the interview and see what’s up.
I also got an email from Georgia Southern saying that I was accepted into their program.  So, no matter what happens I will be going to grad school!  That’s exciting!
I am excited to hear from all of these grad schools.  This process has certainly been an adventure, but I am glad that it will be coming to a close soon.  It feels good to be much closer to completing this process at this point.  I know that actually attending graduate school is going to be another time of growth and learning more about myself, but for right now I am thankful that the growth that comes through the application process is almost done.  It really has been an intense process, but I’ve gained a lot of confidence as well as humility, and I am very thankful for that.
Also, I can’t help but wonder what my professors said in their recommendation letters.  Whatever it was, though, I am very thankful.  I know that I wouldn’t have made it this far without their support and encouragement.  It really means a lot to me.

There is one other area that also feels like it’s in limbo right now…but in a good way.  I won’t say much about that, but I will leave you with these photos:

sunflower

cupcake

hope deferred

hopedeferred

I got a new email from the human resources department in Beijing today.  Here’s what it had to say:

Although we submitted your applications to SAFEA well over a month ago, they did not start to apply until just a couple of weeks ago. We have to negotiate with them because you are recent graduates and do not have 2 years of work experience. Since our president has had to talk with them about this before, we do not expect it to take as long as last time. We are hopeful to get you here before our March session begins on March 9th, however we cannot guarantee it.

I’ve tried to stay pretty relaxed despite the fact that things are not falling into place quite like I would like them to, but it is becoming more difficult to sit and wait.  I’d be lying at this point if I said I wasn’t frustrated with the fact that the Chinese government is moving slower than I wish they would.  That there is now a potential that I may not be going to China makes me reflect on a lot of things.  I have been thinking a lot about why I wanted to go in the first place and how I would feel about not getting to go at this point.  A lot of hard work and preparation has gone into making this dream a reality and not just on my part.  There are a lot of people who have put in hard work and loads of encouragement to make this trip happen, and I would hate to feel like I am letting them down by not going.  I know that it wouldn’t be my fault and that nothing is set in stone yet.  I’m just doing a lot of thinking, and it would be a huge disappointment on the whole to miss out on this opportunity.

notrightnow

Over the past couple of years I have come to realize that timing plays a huge factor in how things pan out.  As a result, victory typically goes to the patient ones.  I am not a patient one.  Think about it though.  How often have things fallen through because of the excuse that the timing was off?  It seems there is a fine line between being patient and knowing when to move on.  If the China thing does not pan out by the beginning of March, then I’m afraid that I will have to move on.  Hopefully the timing will work out, but if it doesn’t, then maybe teaching overseas will still be a possibility in the future.

I know I have said that all I can do is pray, so that’s what I’m still trying to focus on.  This is a reminder that the purpose of everything in life is to glorify God and not to satisfy my own desires.  I don’t believe He would have placed this desire on my heart in the first place if something glorifying would not come out of it.  I know that God will continue to do His work over in China regardless of whether I am there or not.  I also know that He will continue to do work in my no matter where I am.  That has also been evident in my life.  So let’s just keep praying for His will to be done and for His name to be glorified above all names.

adreamdeferredhughes

Oh, my Nana said I could use the money she saved for my trip to get me a puppy if the trip plans fell through.  So that’s the silver lining.  Here’s a picture of the puppy for smiles: