December 16, 2008

I thought I would add a title at the end, then I forgot.

I've decided to become passionate about running in an attempt to get my sorry behind out of bed in the morning, or outside at night and get some exercise. It's easier when it's warm out, lighter later, or ya know, when I have a personal trainer or something. But winter makes me want to curl up in a ball with a blanket and a book. And since eating has never been my friend, a blanket and a book are the worst for me because I should be obsessed with working out.

So. Over my Christmas break? My two glorious weeks off work? I am going to be walking and boxing (with a bag, not people) because I want to be skinny more than anything and I have cute pink boxing gloves that I am dying to use.

How do you motivate yourself to work out? And have I mentioned the giveaways? So far only one person. Look alive people!

December 15, 2008

My first (two) giveaway(s)!

So, I had this idea, that instead of having a crummy birthday, I would do a giveaway. Since it is my first, and I'm pretty sure I have like two readers, I thought I would drum up business as well.

To enter yourself for one giveaway, you must leave a comment to this post telling me about the best birthday you've ever had and of course, why.

To get yourself entered for a SECOND giveway, you have to refer someone who follows the instructions above and also tells they were referred by you!

The winner for #1 will be selected at random, and the winner for #2 will be selected according to how many referrals they made. So post to your blogs! Send out mass emails! Make phone calls! Because each winner will receive a set of handmade cards for various occasions. Leave your post by December 19th at midnight (eastern)!

Yes, it's a shamless ploy, but I need some cheering up, send me your stories!

i need a break from life and giveaways

Well, hello! I was too busy trying to become a hermit this weekend to write, but it was my birthday and other terrible things, so there. I am no longer in the age bracket of 25-30. It's no longer cool for me to hang out at bars. Every single one of my friends, save for best friend, are married with babies. I enjoy reading, for pete's sake, when I really should be enjoying running. I am still single, that is the biggest bum of them all, because I really love babies and want some of my own. Also went to a Christmas party where apparently only beautiful couples were allowed. I promptly left. I had a long glaring contest with the Lord. Have since come to the conclusion that even if there were any potential dates, who would ask someone that is miserable? No one. That's who. So, I will resort to keeping my heartache inside my heart. Anywho. Enough of the crap stuff. Let's talk about fun stuff!

Last night, I went to my friend Justin's feature at a local coffee house. Smokey and hole in the wallish, the way a good coffee house used to be (dang it for being healthy and quitting smoking) Trixie's is a little crowded with an eclectic mix of people. Good for the watching. Anyway, I'm going to try to convince him to publish some of his poetry, because it is wonderfully delicious and enticing, and the treat of listening to him read his own work was beyond any expectation. He's terribly creative, and I am so impressed.

Anyway, the real reason for this post is to tell you to get out your address books and start referring. Drumrooooooooooooolllll, because I'm doing a giveaway! Details to follow!

December 12, 2008

Really? Since then?

Wow, I have been busy! Apparently, since I haven't written since November 25th. Oh, well, you'll forgive me, there are only two people that read this thing anyway.

Part of the reason I have been MIA is because of the end of the semester crunch - students galore jamming up my office, having to write three to four big papers all by the same date, and trying really hard not to hide in the library bathroom while they close up so I can stay there all night :)

Oh, yes, and my deathbed. I was out of work for a week! A whole WEEK after Thanksgiving! I had this awful sinus infection/pneumonia-inciting cold. And Thanksgiving was a mess anyway. My uncle came over to remove the awful brick from the backsplash area in the kitchen. The woman that owned the house before us really had a screw loose. I've told you how she wallpapered the toilet and the bathtub, right? Anyway, pictures to come soon, but it ended up being a whole lot more work than we thought it would be because it was actual brick glued to the wall, not some sort of weird wallpaper. Hammer and chisels. Seriously.

In the process the glass on our oven got shattered when we moved it, and a free project turned into a $1500 project. On the upside, we got a new stove and microwave installed, that isn't 150 thousand years old. Nice. But expensive.

Then I got sick, so I couldn't help because he's on medication that kills his immune system, so I got kicked out of the house and had to spend the day at Starbucks. Worse places, but still I wanted to curl up and die so I didn't enjoy it as much as I normally do.

That same illness landed me in bed for a week. On the upside, it gave me time to read the Twilight series, which I will be seeing on film in a week or so, thank goodness for Christmas Breaks and working at a university, right?

Anyway, sorry I haven't been around. I promise to be more faithful. And I will start my own day of the week thing, as Misty and Girlymama have their things, 10 on Tuesdays for Misty, and Wordless Wednesdays for Mama. I think I'll start Funny Fridays. My mom and I have a game we play most every night, What's the Funniest Thing You Saw/Heard Today? Well, it will be the week for me, and yesterday's funny thing topped the cake. Bye Bye Pie is the newest blog I've been reading and this post was the most hilarious thing. It made me laugh all day and into the evening.

November 25, 2008

Pie, Papers, and Pitter-Patter

Ok, I think I have recovered from Pie Day. That was a ridiculous feast of pies all day long, that were so very tasty. Speaking of pies, it is tradition in our family for my mom to bake my uncle a raspberry pie each Thanksgiving. And usually two are baked, one to eat for dessert, one to send home. This requires a giant bag of frozen raspberries, which costs around $8. Except this year. This year the giant bag of rozen raspberries cost $20! WHAT?!?! I think they are going back to the store, and we will have one pie made from a tiny bag of frozen raspberries. He can take home leftovers.

I have been buried brain deep in papers. I have three things due for one class on December 3rd - a 30 page paper, an edited compilation of weekly journal entries, and a list of references of articles/books/etc. I have read over the semester. Then on December 8th I have a paper due of an unspecified length, but there is a required depth. I need structure, people, unspecified depths don't help me. Now, I holed myself up in the library this weekend and the 30 page paper is written. I need to let it sit a few days before I go back and review it so I can read what it says and not what I meant it to say. I discovered this is a better way for me to go about writing papers when I thought it would take mere moments to throw together the reflective journal compilation. Yeah, right. I'm still working on editing them and it's been days. I have a habit of writing them, then reading them over, and submitting them. All in a row. No breaks. No time to develop objectivity. Ugh. This means I will have to be REALLY good at managing my time so I can get papers done early.

Ah, the pitter-patter of heartstrings. I've been bombarded lately from all angles to do eHarmony type things. But do I really have time for that right now? And isn't it saying to the Lord that I'm tired of being patient and I'll just do it myself? I mean, I go to church, the library, bookstores, coffee places....I have friends...wouldn't the Lord know those things? The argument I receive from friends is that it's just another place to go, making yourself available to meet people just like at the library, bookstore, blah blah blah. I'm not so sure about that. I need some feedback.

Alright, it's back to work for me. I've got some files to do before I can wile away the day working on editing those journals...oh please, Jesus just let them be finished today so I can email them to the professor early!

November 19, 2008

Me Oh My, Let's Have Thanksgiving Pie Day

That is what today is at my office. Mmmmm, pie. There's pecan pie, mountain berry pie, pumpkin pie, apple rosemary lemon pandowdy, hot cider, cold cider, tea, coffee....it's Pie Day. I'm excited.

November 17, 2008

Stay tuned...

I swore I would not turn into this person when I started my Ph.D. You know, the person who becomes a hermit, hard to get ahold of, never does anything fun, and cringes at the slightest bit of noise while reading...I'm afraid I'm her. I spent almost every waking minute of the past three days reading and writing. Now, to my credit, it is nearing the end of the semester and I have two presentations, two papers, a bibliography, a reflective journal compilation, a goals worksheet, and a progress update due over the next three weeks, mostly all on the same day. In an effort not to become that procrastinator I was throughout undergrad and my master's program, I am trying to be proactive and get things done ahead of time.

The goal sheet is done, it just needs signing, the progress update will be a snap at only two pages, one presentation PowerPoint was finished last week and just needs tweeking with additional statistics, the other presentation is handwritten, it just needs to actually be plugged into PowerPoint. I am almost finished gathering docs for the first paper, and almost half of it is already written, and hopefully the second paper will just be a compilation of sections from the first paper. The bibliography is done, just need to add a couple more resources, and the reflective journal compilation will be completed by the end of the week, just reviewing professor comments, revising, and resubmitting.

I am tired. And although I don't feel cranky, I must be because I am irritated with almost everyone right now. My house isn't quiet enough to get any work done, no matter where I go I can either hear my mother, or she is right there making noise and it can be very distracting. My best friend kicked me out of her house because her dog was being obnoxious and she blamed my presence. And the library is closed on Sunday (what?!?! it's the school year!) so last night I ended up at Starbucks for eight hours, purchasing two drinks and a scone for dinner, reading, writing, and taking a break when Cousin Phil stopped by for a chat.

Starbucks worked out alright - noisy, but was able to concentrate on my reading somehow. Took an awful lot of day dreaming, thinking, and people watching breaks though. I'm going to have to try another library, hopefully one that is open until 10ish so I can have some unwinding time before bed, but not have to end studying too early.

Wish me luck. Pray for my sanity. Hopefully I will have the majority of these things done by Thanksgiving so I can truly relax and rest over the break. Oooh, this means I'll need a list! My favorite!

October 28, 2008

high anxiety registration

Students are registering for the winter semester this week and boy am I slammed at work! First off, the advisors here really busted booty to get the files completed and aid paid for students that were late. That's because we're nice. The big deal now is the people who are just now paying their balances and need the hold removed from their account. And, again, since we're nice, we are transferring them to the proper office. I remember when it was so stressful to register because if you didn't get into the class, you would have to wait to take it, it's not like there were enough spaces for everyone like with higher degree programs. Ahhh, the beauty of already having the first degree.

Speaking of which, if one more person calls and tells me they already have their bachelorette degree I'm going to cry. A bachelorette is a single woman, not the piece of paper that claims you're smart.

October 24, 2008

face follow up

Best friend is in school to be a counselor and although she's not my counselor, she sometimes sneaks in her little techniques to our conversations. We were talking about relationships a few nights ago and I was telling her about my dream about the guy with the face. Her insight was that it was something that Jesus would do and was wondering if it were some way that God chose to speak to my heart. Interesting.

We were talking again last night about something unrelated and it occurred to me that I am tend to be leary of the supernatural God stuff, even though I think I have had at least one experience. But I won't tell you mine until you tell me yours! What supernatural God experience have you had?

October 23, 2008

15 things I have learned this week

In no particular order:

1. I enjoy having a routine
2. I like the idea of getting up at 5:00 much more than actually getting up at 5:00
3. Snooze buttons are addictive
4. I know how to play the game and I'm good at it
5. An inflatable monkey can do wonders
6. I enjoy politics
7. Everything is connected to everything else
8. I'd like to think I don't have prejudices, but I do
9. Poetry can make me cry and laugh
10. I don't miss cigarettes nearly as much as I thought I would
11. I would like to get to know him better
12. I tend to look at the big picture and that's not always a good thing
13. Some people are really bad at answering their cell phone and it annoys me
14. I have issues
15. Work productivity decreases when facebook and blogging increases

October 20, 2008

He had a face!

Have you ever had one of those dreams that was so great and you woke up, but all you really wanted to do was go back to sleep and pick up where you left off?

I've had a weird weekend, but let me start from the beginning.

The Lord and I have been having some serious conversations lately, with my 31st birthday looming in a couple of months. I had thought 30 would be hard, but it's been fun but being single is still nagging my heart strings and with the exception of my physical appearance which is slowly...painfully slowly changing, I'm feeling pretty good with where I'm at and like I'm ready to be in a relationship. So, the Lord and I have been talking about His painfully slow process in making that all happen. I know all the things to think and say - His timing is perfect, He sees everything....yeah yeah yeah, somehow that doesn't make it so easy right now. But I'm living with it. Constantly trying not to over analyze every interaction with certain men I know, constantly evaluating my feelings to determine if any exist, and constantly asking God to just take away any feelings that might be in existance so that I don't break my own heart.

These things are very difficult to accomplish.

In the midst of all this, I have this dream, the exact kind you wish you could just go back to sleep and pick up where you left off. I was with friends, friends that I have in real life, but thinking back on it, I couldn't see their faces, which is funny because if I'm dreaming of someone I know, I can usually see their face. Anyway, we must have been on vacation, or a weekend or something because we were walking around this dock type place, like a harbor. There was this guy there, and he was a friend of a friend, I knew his name, Andrew, but he's the only one that I knew I didn't know in real life. We were walking down these steps, this group of us, and I'm not sure which happened first, either I started to fall, or this Andrew person grabbed me, but it ended up that he caught me and we were standing in sort of a dip posture, like dancing. He was really close to my face and he said, "I would never let you fall, I think you're wonderful." Of course, right at THAT moment, I woke up, but here's the weirdest part. Each time I have dreams like that, or I dream of someone I don't know, they never have a face. He had a face. Andrew. Andrew had a face. I don't know him. None of the people in this dream that I knew had faces.

I don't think it means anything, of course, it was just strange. And nice. The thought of someone catching me, thinking I'm wonderful...very appealing. Pray for patience :)

October 16, 2008

Additional Blog

So, if you read this blog you may not be interested in the other one, but I created a new blog for my cohort. If you're interested in education, both K12 and Higher Ed, you might enjoy it once it gets going (there isn't anything there yet, I just created it today). Anyway, it's located here if you're ever interested.

Not much else to talk about today. After class last night I went home and watched the debate while I cleaned my room. Talked to Best Friend for a little while, she said she enjoys that I watch the debates like I'm watching a football game - I talk back, I tell McCain to shut up a lot, I cheer a lot...it's better that way :)

And I feel better that my room is almost clean. I am a neat freak. I am an organization freak. But my car and my bedroom show the worst of it if I get busy or overwhelmed. What it basically came down to is that I have too much stuff and my bedroom is too tiny. While reading Ecclesiastes for bible study, I decided that since everything is meaningless and most people spend a LOT of time accumulating things, I would see how it felt to spend a LOT of time purging things. It was hard at first, because I tend to be sentimental. I am having a hard time getting rid of the Tickle Me Elmo that was given to me in college by a very dear friend who has dropped off the face of the planet, moved away without a word. I think about him a lot and it's tough to give away something he gave me. But other stuff wasn't quite so hard. Like clothes. And shoes.

I would like to redecorate my room. When I painted it, I painted it under the presumption that I would not be living there, it would be a guest room. But I live there. And I don't want to live in a guest room. But I can't make up my mind about what color, etc. Right now it's a celedon green color, kind of a muted tone, with creamy off white trim and closet doors. My furniture is a dark wood, I would call it cherry. By my furniture, I mean my dresser because I am having the most awful time finding nightstands that match that aren't four times as much as I paid for the dresser. And I have no bed stuff, just a metal frame and mattresses. Money is an issue, so I try to do things on the cheap because I'm trying to make my life debt free and all extra money goes to paying off school loans. That's another topic, my debt management plan is going well, I have paid off thousands of dollars of debt this year! Another time, another time...

I'll keep you posted about the decorating.

October 15, 2008

Getting deeper

My bible study changed formats about six months ago, maybe even longer than that, and I can't imagine it being any different. We meeting weekly, but we alternate between meeting as a large group, and splitting up between men and women. We've been meeting for 3 years now and have experienced the death of parents, marriages, and births together. There are some folks that float in and out of our circle, college students, parents, siblings, and of course, the randoms :) The women recently completed a Beth Moore study together, but it didn't quite serve the purpose for which we intended, which was to get deeper with each other. New people came in, others got behind in the schedule and couldn't catch up, people missed...it did serve God's purpose in fellowship and learning, of course, but there have been some dramas and wounds that have prevented us from getting deeper than that. The original three women in the group are still close, one woman that married in seems to be keeping her own distance, and the suggestion to get deeper is finally coming from her, so I take that as a good sign. The last woman that was part of the first couple to join beyond the core group of us (we had been together almost a year before she and her husband joined us) has stated several times that she has been so wounded in the past that she simply does not keep women friends, something that truly breaks my heart because I value women friendships so deeply, but can understand the wounded part as well. And finally, as of late, a random has been coming pretty regularly, a girl who just graduated from a Christian college, whom none of us know very well.

At a party recently a few of us were talking about this very topic, about how we don't necessarily feel comfortable disclosing personal things to people we don't know. One of the women said that she once wanted to join a bible study held by her neighbor because it was close to her house, they knew people there already, etc. but later found out that it was a closed bible study.

It seems odd that something like a bible study would not be open to everyone, however, in this position I'm in now, I can see the value of that, but it's for my own comfort. Does anyone belong to a closed study? Is it closed for certain lengths of time, and open others? Calling all opinions!

October 13, 2008

Back to Blogging

I've realized, as I'm sitting here waiting for my colleague to return from lunch so I can work on work type things, that I've not written in months. Excluding of course, the torture I put you through for my homework writing. But that doesn't count! Homework doesn't count for blogging friends, that's cheating. Unless it's a homework blog. Which this is not. It's a blog about my life. Or lack thereof as of late.

I was really concerned that I would be overwhelmed and have no time for anything when I started school again. I have never worked full time and took classes, too. I have always lived on campus while going to school. However at this moment, I am living 45 minutes from campus, working full time, and taking two classes. This is a lot. Some really good homework moments are spent driving to work, and although I'm not the only one driving (thanks carpooling ladies!) it's not always easy to read about politics when there's office drama to hear about.

Usually the way I handle this is to allow myself one activity in a weekend. It's getting harder to do that, though, because the holidays are getting closer, and although I'm keeping up with my homework, I'm not being so tasky and utilizing my lunch hours to complete papers, rather than utlizing them to watch shows online like I would prefer.

This weekend, though, I splurged. I did homework Friday at lunch, and a tiny bit before church yesterday, but other than that, I had a homework free weekend! On Friday I watched tv and vegged, had class Saturday morning, but then went pumpking patching and had family over for dinner. Sunday I went to church early and got to hold babies all morning long, it was great! After church I went to my community group (the equivalent of a small group) and had brunch. I spent the rest of the day with my best friend at her new house, eating snacks and drinking wine and laughing out butts off, enjoying the beautiful warm weather.

Now, it is back to the grind, verifying files, talking to yelling parents and students, and homework...but I still love it all!

September 13, 2008

Politics and Policy in Education

This is my sad attempt at homework since I don't yet have Office on my laptop and am trying to write my reflective journal assignment for class on Wednesday. And I haven't written in like two months because at this time of year, work gets really awful and hectic and since I typically update my writings while at work, it's been nearly impossible. But please know that I thought of it often and I missed blogging my life. I'm sorry that my first post back has to be homework and that if you choose, you have to read my ramblings on government and politics in education, but it is your choice, so torture yourself if you will.

It does not behoove schools that are failing to have a distant government with control the same way it would not behoove the CEO of Microsoft to be managing problems in the mailroom. The government responsible for overseeing specific schools should be no further away than the state level. State officials are more familiar with the needs and contributions of communities, allowing it to be better able to facilitate the allocation of state funding, acting as a matchmaker for school districts or even community groups to share resources. For example, Detroit Public Schools are notorious for providing a less than stellar education to its students due to a lack of funding and a lack of personnel. Hope Community Church, located on the border of Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park, a mostly white community, seeks to work in the community for racial reconciliation. There exists a program at Hope that provides tutoring to area Detroit Public School students by members of the church, residents from both Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park. The needs of the school are complimented by the church members' support, and the ultimate interest of the church is served by allowing children to see people of multiple races working together, instead of the typical segregation seen in the area. While most of the control should go to school boards, there should exist a strong tie to state government. In turn, state governments should work together for the same purpose of idea and resource sharing, and to maintain a national standard of learning to remain competitive in a global market.

In his general statement of education platform, John McCain persevers on the idea of school choice, already in place in the United States, as parents can choose to send their child to private school, public school, charter schools, or home schooling. The real issue on the table is not the issue of being able to choose your child's educational environment, the real issue is who is going to pay for it. Vouchers are already used in a few states, allowing government money to be paid toward the educational expenses at the school the child attends.

McCain also asserts that teachers should be encouraged and recruited to underperforming schools, and will be given bonuses for student improvement. However, if parents are provided with choice and vouchers to carry out that choice, children will no longer be attending underachieving schools, negating the need for teachers. McCain's plan does not improve schools, it closes their doors.

Overall, McCain's platform on education is weak, almost non existant. He uses buzz words like accountability and empower, choice and improvement. Never does he make a specific assertion of how he will improve accountability, what is the result of empowering, how to make choice more accessible, and in fact negates improvement with choice rhetoric. These words, no matter to whom they are stated, communicate that McCain has a solid plan for your side of the proverbial fence, when in fact, he is not taking a side, and if elected, certainly will not take the side of America's children.

Conversely, Barack Obama's educational platform begins by siting specific issues he wishes to address and providing the statistics to back them up. He seems to be promoting the education of even the person reading his viewpoint. He pointedly mentions plans on how he will address the cited issues, and even specifically addresses information regarding higher education, a topic severely lacking in McCain's platform.

One issue that was not clearly addressed in Obama's review was an all encompassing plan for higher education financial aid. Agreed by both candidates, the financial aid process is cumbersome and confusing. Obama elects to simplify the process by making a box to check on a tax return allowing access to the information for financial aid purposes. The excellent plan does not address, however, the issue of untaxed income for families being counted toward financial aid calculations. The absence of this information creates an unfair advantage for students whose families live mostly on untaxed income. Without addressing this issue, Obama's platform leaves my professional position as a Financial Aid advisor on shaky ground, as one of my primary roles is to verify information on the financial aid application. In the future, if the information needed to apply are tax returns and those are provided by the IRS who completes their own auditing process, it eliminates my role as a processor for financial aid purposes. Barack Obama promotes a different kind of campaign, one with open dialogues, according to his website, so I have submitted my questions and am eagerly awaiting a reply.

***

The topic of power was discussed in class this week, leading to a personal recognition of each position of power held individually. In a related discussion outside of class with a friend, it occurred to me that although power can be bestowed on an individual, part of the power weilded is in the acceptance of power. For example, she told of a woman at her institution that was completing her Ph.D. and was asked to be the interim Dean of the department. The woman accepted, repeatedly stating that she was only just finishing her Ph.D., asserting a personal belief that one should have completed a Ph.D. before coming a Dean.

I have been thrust into similar positions before, both at jobs from which I was let go. The first job was right out of graduate school where I was one of three new residence hall directors on a very small campus. We reported directly to the Dean of Students, however, at the time of our hiring and beginning of employment, there was no such person in that position. Because we had no supervisor, and because I was the only one with previous experience, I was put in the position of power to train these individuals and our staff, being responsible for setting the tone of the school year. Having the courage and blind assumption that I had just graduated with a wealth of knowledge meant that I pushed ahead full force, much to the chagrin of certain members of the administration. I had been given too much power, too early! I did not understand the need to move slowly in this environment that was comprised of an old boys club, and detested new ideas and new ways of doing things.

The second position was similar, a position held right after the first experience. Here, though, I treaded lightly and only did things I was told were my priorities. However, given too much responsibility with too little experience again led to my downfall. If I were to approach both these positions knowing about power as I do now, I would never have accepted them. The power you are given by others is not always done because they want you to have the power, it is often done because by default of the position, you have it. In placing me in those positions my supervisors, I can only imagine, assumed that I had the experience or the knowledge not to weild the powers that were given to me, but only to use the powers they wanted me to use.

I have learned, however, to observe at length before utilizing the power given, so that it may be used smartly, so that I may have earned the power I have been given, instead of it having been provided by default. The difference, I think, is the confidence in which I am using my power. In observation, I am able to determine the dynamics of individuals involved in the situation, how I fit into the group, and what immediate or far reaching impact my words or actions may have.

The question to pose then, is how can I use my power to influence those that have power over me, as well as how to utlize my power to benefit those whom I have power over? Specifically over the course of this academic year I would like to influence change in the way the Financial Aid Office communicates information to students and parents by creating a more user friendly award letter, and increasing communications regarding areas about which students most frequently contact the office. I would like to encourage my supervisors to be more proactive with students and parents so that there is a seamless transition between academic years, and to affect change so that students are empowered to complete their requirements to have their financial aid paid before the bill is due, and to be prepared to pay any balance that will be their responsibility. My current ideas on how to do this are by using more understandable language in financial aid letters, proactively emailing students with information about their account, providing weekly updates through email addressing concerns that are typical for that time of year.

***

Questions I will seek to ask over the course of the semester:

1. Is there an explanation or rationale for why policies and political platforms seem to address K-12 teachers and their rewards more than higher ed? For example, loans offer forgiveness for teachers that choose a subject considered high need, and that choose to teach in a certain type of school or area. Hardly any attention or rewards are given to professionals that work in higher ed and address the needs of students outside the classroom. Is this because historically the majority of people do not have a degree beyond high school? If so, why is the goverment so slow to catch up to changing times?

2. What are some possible solutions to Barack Obama's plan for financial aid in higher education? What changes could be made to the process to maintain the integrity of the awarding system, but allow for easier utilization by students and families? Should the Department of Education reconsider the structure of the American family in changing the requirements of the financial aid application? Currently the application requires information from students and parents, however, there is an increasing number of students that do not have biological parents that raised them, and much ambiguity exists around the eligibility for students who have guardians whose rights do not expire.

July 11, 2008

Freedom

So, I think I may have forgotten to mention in the whole hub bub of life, that I got accepted into the Ph.D. program! In five years (hopefully) I will have to change my name to Dr. Carrieplanet :)

I went for Orientation and I already have homework! I have a book to read before the end of summer so I can decide on a presentation to give in October or November. I also have homework for a class that I won't even take for another year! Seriously. And I'm geeked about all of it! Now, partly because of my totally odd obsession with office supplies. I loved school growing up and still have a mild fetish for notebooks and pens, and most recently, cool mechanical pencils.

It will take approximately three years to finish my coursework, and if I spend 20 hours a week on it, only two years to write my dissertation!

Does that mean my freedom is disappearing? People have been making comments to me about how they will see me in five years...and I admit I'm overcommitted, but there is a nice ebb and flow to my schedule and I've been praying for God to let me know if I need to back off some of my committments, and so far...nothing.

But I got in! I'm going to have my Ph.D.!!!!! Please allow me a moment to do my happy dance!

Apple Fritters

Dear Crescent Bakery,

Two years ago a friend of mine got married in Frankfort and one morning I had one of your delicious apple fritters. Since then, and I am completely serious, I have not found an apple fritter that came close to the ones you make. Fritters are a happy memory from my childhood, and the bakery we used to get them from closed years ago. I was telling my mom about them today and my mouth was just watering thinking about them! Please, please, tell me that I can order them from you and have them shipped to my home in southeastern, MI!!! I think otherwise, I might have to quit my job and move to Frankfort so I can have them every morning. But without a job I won't be able to buy them.

Looking forward to your response, you have no idea!

The Crescent Bakery is a wonderful little slice of heaven located in Frankfort, MI.

The Writing Exam

A while back I wrote about The Writing Exam that was part of my application to the Ph.D. program to which I applied. I'm finally getting around to posting the questions! I still have never gone back and read them because I'm nervous that they are awful, even though I've been told otherwise. Out of seven questions, I had to pick two.

1. Recent studies show that the number of part-time instructors utilized in higher education is growing rapidly. Most for-profit and some privately owned but officially non-profit institutions are organized on the notion that a substantially full-time professoriate is unnecessary. They argue that building a faculty of part-time instructors has several advantages for students (in addition to the lower costs of running the institution).

a. Part timers are people who carry out every day the very tasks they are teaching about. Their knowledge is "state of the art."
b. Having a predominantly part-time staff allows the school to drop programs as soon as they begin to become superfluous and then add new areas of tudy. There is not a large staff of tenured faculty to worry about.
c. Part timers are less expensive and therefore tuition rates can be kept low.

A recent book about the future of higher education (Marc Bousquet's How the University Works) suggests that a generation from now, more than 80% of a faculty will be adjuncts.

You have been invited to a radio program to discuss whether the notion of building a faculty around full-time tenured professors is obsolete in a time of rapid change. The moderator of the program tells you that you will be part of a discussion, not a debate. Therefore, you are free to acknowledge the advantages of using a part-time faculty, but you will also be counted on to express some of the key arguments for a majority of full-time faculty.

Write an essay describing the arguments you will make.

Marc Bousquet’s (2008) assertion that 80% of higher education faculty members will be adjuncts in the next generation is met with mixed reactions of cheers from recent college graduates and grumblings from hard core academics. Recent college graduates are finding that the opportunities they thought were available are simply not there and the opportunity to teach what they carry out is expanding. Tenured faculty appears to be a dying breed according to the predictions of Bousquet (2008), as certain areas of humanities become less relevant in today’s job market. Lending support to both sides of the argument is a declining economy where there is a focus on decreasing expenses while increasing income.
The idea of creating an entire department of part time faculty is appealing for those that value a working knowledge of the subject at hand. A team of faculty members that teach what they do for a living lends itself to being able to provide up to date knowledge of recent trends and practical knowledge of the basic requirements of the job function. In theory, this team of adjuncts are the high level executives that know the ins and outs of each level of employment, politicians who have worked their way up from entry level council positions to ones of leadership and influence, and perhaps even a human services professional that can provide some thoughtful experiences on how to prepare the next generation of employees. In today’s academic foundation, general education requirements are becoming less valued by students interested in learning the limited information required to obtain and carry out their post graduation job. This is, of course, creating a downward spiral in which these students graduate with a limited scope of knowledge into a world that is not providing an abundance of entry level positions, which leads these recent graduates to one of two fates. These students will either have to return to school to learn a new trade, or will in fact obtain the position they seek, find that it does not offer nearly enough pay for the lifestyle they desire, and fatefully return to higher education to teach what they do for a living. This cycle continues as students become less interested in learning to impact the world and more focused on the bare essentials of impacting their own world.
It only stands to reason, then, that there are certain areas of humanities that are becoming less relevant in today’s job market. Society is straining to see beyond the end of their collective noses and therefore the idea of studying philosophy and liberal arts topics seems trivial in comparison to becoming a leading business person or technology guru. The team of adjuncts in this arena is the perfect solution to the ever rotating demand for popular majors that are relevant in the eyes of society because there is no promise of tenured job security. The adjunct school of thought, however, fails to take into consideration the value of tenured faculty members having the opportunity to explore the depth of their expertise to increase the ways in which their area can influence change beyond the national scope. Under the strain of two jobs, there is little time for the adjunct faculty member to push forward in research or consider the long range effects of their immediate impact.
As always, the driving force behind many decisions at a university is cost. Economic hardships experienced by today’s citizen has increased significantly over the past few years and will only get worse, according to most forecasters. The vicious cycle of the economy will only drive the cost of education upward and administrators are desperately trying to keep costs down, making the adjunct team an attractive prospect. Part time faculty members do not require the full time benefits of health care, paid sabbaticals, or competitive salaries. However, according to several articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education (2008) the percentage of tuition spent on faculty salaries or benefits is minimal and is mostly spent on increasing the technological capabilities of campus’ to facilitate a more relevant learning experience for students.
In the end, the question is not how can we better align our educational values with the needs of the American society, it is instead, how can educational leaders expand the teaching and experience of students today for global relevance. University administrators must search the depths of the mission and values of their institutions to determine if a team of part time faculty is best for their students. In a recent article of The Chronicle of Higher Education (2008), David Glenn discussed research presented by Audrey J. Jaeger, an assistant professor at North Carolina University. Jaeger states that her research indicated that first year students that are “significantly more likely to drop out if their high-stakes "gatekeeper courses" are taught by part-time instructors.” If a university seeks to teach students a trade in order to quickly turn them out into the world as productive employees and potential adjunct faculty members, then perhaps a team of adjuncts is the best foundation. However, if a university seeks to globally educate a student to be versatile in an ever changing world, perhaps strongly rooted full time faculty is the key to fully develop the student experience.

2. A close friend of yours has recently been selected as president of a regional university in Michigan. The board of trustees has requested her to grow the university in two directions: increase the student population and expand the reach of the university to students beyond the region, hopefully to create a student body that draws from beyond the state and hopefully, in the long run, one that includes a national audience.

Your friend states that she is unsure what path to take. The traditional approach would be to build more dormitories on campus and enlarge the georgraphy within which the university advertises. On the other hand, she is well aware that e-learning is becoming more and more popular. She worries that she may build dormitories and no one will come to fill them. On the other hand, she worries that simply building a more national presence through distance learning will not create the kind of loyal, and giving, alumni needed to assure a secure financial future for the institution.

Write an essay that summarizes your ideas about the place of distance learning of whatever kind in the future of the university.

The stay at home mother in Arizona, the professor of sociology in Minnesota, and the dental office manager from Michigan have a lot in common. They are all participating in some form of distance learning, a growing trend at American universities. The number and type of adult learners are increasing rapidly to include non-college educated learners, as well as returning learners who have previously earned degrees. Distance learning can have a positive and immediate impact on adult learners, traditional students, and the state of the university.
The number of adult learners is increasing rapidly at American universities due to the changing economy and convenience of the opportunity. As the economy declines and companies are closing, it is imperative that adult employees boost their educational background to make them competitive in a diminishing job market. The opportunity for a stay at home mother, a dental office manager, and a professor of sociology to earn a degree from a university hours away is invaluable. For the mother it allows a growth in opportunity, a chance to increase her knowledge and prepare for a future after the children are grown. For the manager it adds to her value as an employee, it allows the opportunity to have an impact on the company for which she works, and an impact on her local economy.
For the professor of sociology, distance learning has an even greater impact. Not only does it benefit the professor in that it provides a broader opportunity for idea sharing with other learners, it also provides the opportunity to bring that idea sharing into the classroom to impact traditional students. The students that typically attend in person class sessions are exposed to the benefits of distance learning through the continued education of their professor without ever having to participate in distance learning themselves. These students then graduate with the knowledge that they otherwise may not have been exposed to, and carry that impact into their careers when they graduate.
This leads to a positive impact on the university by increasing revenue for the institution offering the distance learning initiatives, which impacts nearly every facet of an institution. Additionally, if faculty members are participating in distance learning elsewhere, they are able to refine their knowledge, increase their research capacity, and potentially attract more students to the university at which they teach based on their expertise. Therefore, institutions that do not offer distance learning opportunities can still benefit from its existence.
Distance learning may be the tool to carry out the plan of Ohio’s Governor Strickland, who stated in a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (2008) that one in three adults had earned an associates degree or higher. Governor Strickland plans to change that statistic in order to stimulate Ohio’s economy. For state universities dependent upon large financial support from the state government, a stimulus for state economy boosts the financial state of the university, which can utilize that money to make improvements in the education of its students.


I ran out of time on the second one, knowing what I wanted to say but it wouldn't quite come out right. The writing exam was the last step of the application process, and after having written the essays, I had to hand them in, leave the computer lab, and pray that I wouldn't become a big ball of nerves afterwards. And you know what? God met me right there. Surprising, right? It seems to be a lesson we always forget, that God meets us where we're at. But it's true, I prayed about it and the Lord gave me peace about not getting in or getting it. Amen for that!



July 8, 2008

The Modern Lullaby

While wandering aimlessly among YouTube yesterday, I decided to see if there were any songs available for Ingrid Michaelson, who, by the way, is awesome - you may recognize one of her songs from an Old Navy commercial.

I'm sort of a new youtuber, and apparently you can leave video responses. Mostly it seems as though people are using them to get out their own stuff and it really has nothing to do with any kind of response whatsoever. I did find this video and I really like this type of sound. Turns out the song they are singing is actually from a children's album. You can listen to the album on Renee and Jeremy's site and you can listen to some of Renee's independent stuff here.

I think I'm going to give their children's album to all my mommy friends because it's a really great sound that kids seem to like, but that doesn't grate on the parent's nerves from listening to it over and over and over and oooovvvvee............

Albums are also available at Agape bookstores, which is a Christian bookstore. Even better :)

I can't wait until my nephew is old enough to request songs to be played over and over, I'll gladly listen to these folks with him!

Ok, thanks for reading my commercial, I'll return you to your regularly scheduled program now.

July 7, 2008

There's a white girl in that car!

On Saturday I was invited to go to my best friend's dad's house for a BBQ. I picked her up on the way and Blanco knew right away that I was there, because as soon as I put the car in park and turned it off, he was in the window whining! Best friend asked me to stop at the store on the corner so we could pick up some pop to take to the party.

Picture a bright sunny day, every pump at the gas station is filled up and there is a group of kids and adults around a radio station booth by the front door. All the extra parking spots are filled up. Best friend gets out of the car and walks in the store followed by three soon-to-be-teenage kids. The following conversation ensued:

Kids: There's a white girl in that car! With a white dog!
Best Friend: (laughing)
Kids: Did you see there's a white girl in that car? And she's got a white dog with her!
Best Friend: (still laughing) Actually, the dog is mine.
Kids: Then who is the white girl?
Best Friend: My friend (although she told me later she actually considered saying I was her driver)
Kids: Oh.

Meanwhile, on the outside of the store, a white guy exits and talks to the men at the radio station booth. I'm assuming they know each other because the men do that hand slap/grip and bump shoulders thing (what is that?).

Back inside the store:

Kids: There's a white guy out there! Do you see him? There's a white guy!

Now outside the store, I see the kids exit and walk toward my car. The windows are open and Blanco is very friendly so I grab his collar lest he fly out the window to go play with the kids.

Kids: What kind of dog is that?
Me: A pit bull.
Kids: Is it a boy dog?
Me: Yes
Kids: Are you going to make him?
Me: (assuming they mean mate, or breed him) No.
Kids: Is he mean?
Me: (as Blanco starts growling and barking) Only if you mess with him.*

*I only say this because Best Friend would prefer if people maintained a healthy fear of her dog as he is guard doggish, a traditionally aggressive breed, although he is a very sweet, loving, playful dog.

Best Friend returned to the car and we had quite the good laugh on the way to the BBQ.

The Park with Two Names

I spent Friday at the recently opened George George Memorial Park in Clinton Township, MI. Apparently George George is one person, whose parents really did name him George George. As a sidenote, I would encourage any parents out there, to think long and hard about the name you give your child. Consder all the silly nicknames they could be given. Can their name easily translate into an insult? Is it difficult to say? Will you end up calling them by their middle name anyway? Really, George George? Come on.

Anyway, despite the ridiculous name, it's a beautiful park. A lot of the parks in Clinton Township are like nature preserves, which is fine. The Clinton River runs through most of them, lots of trees, and in some picnic tables and picnic pavillions are available. But this one! This is beautiful on purpose, by design. There are two fountains, a gorgeous brick gazebo and bridal gardens (a little raised area with flowers around, perfect for an altar on which to get married), 2 miles of walking/biking trails, playscapes for the kids, and all kinds of natural seating, like big stone benches. Still plenty of trees like the nature preserve, but with added flowers. They have taken special care to make space for wildlife, too, enhancing the flood plane nature of the space and creating a swampy marshy area for frogs, ducks, and other water loving creatures. The neighbor, my mom, and I took the dogs to check out the new park and before I knew it, we had walked all two miles of the trail! Take a look at the beautiful bridge near the middle of the hike, original to the old golf course that used to be located here.

Tonight I'll go back and see if I can get some photos with the evening light and maybe with the sunset.

June 25, 2008

Fat Follow Up

I have figured out a great plan! I carpool with my mom and on Mondays and Tuesdays I have to wait for her to get out of work. I typically get to her office at like 5:40 and she doesn't get out until 6:45 or 7:00. On Wednesdays and Thursdays she gets out at 5:00 and instead of sitting at her office waiting for me to get there, she starts walking toward home so that she can get in her exercise for the day without having to waste any time! I am going to follow her lead and drop off my car and keys to her and then start walking or riding my bike! She can get 3 miles in 45 minutes to an hour, so I'm sure walking I could get 2 miles and riding my bike probably 5 or 6 miles! And I would still get home at the same time and wouldn't feel like I was wasting any time or having to get up earlier to exercise.

I feel much better about that plan. Now I'm off to search for a scale in stock at Target!

June 24, 2008

Fat Day

I'm having a fat day today.

This does not mean that I'm skinny and my favorite leggings highlight my cute little paunch.

This really means that I'm constantly amazed at how we can see ourselves every day and not realize what we look like from an outsiders perspective. I was just uploading pictures to my photbucket account and looked at this pic and it made me want to cry. Not only because I am ridiculously overweight, but because it makes me want to eat comfort food! What sense does that make - stupid psychological crap!

I am therefore making a resolve. I am going to buy a scale. I am going to walk. I am going to bike. I am going to eat relatively healthy. I will be skinny! If I can quit smoking I can quit eating. Well, that doesn't sound exactly right, but if I can quit smoking then I can certainly eat better and exercise.

I just need to get up earlier! Oh, sleep, how I will miss you!

June 23, 2008

The World Wide Web is Working Against Me

Ok, did you ever get the feeling that you are running down a particular path and as soon as you jump one hurdle, another one pops up? This is my life with my laptop.


So on Thursday, I left work believing that I would have to send my mom to UPS to pick up my laptop on Friday. I then received a cheerful phone call from the UPS man stating that the delivery would be made to my house between 6:15 and 6:30. Yay! That meant that everyone on the road had to be cooperative enough to get me home by 6:15 and that I had to race to Upper Room (the new name of the college ministry I run at church, you like?) but I was ok with that because I would have my laptop and just knowing that I could play with it when I got home was enough!


Do you think that worked? Um, no, traffic was awful, it was raining, people were driving like morons and I got home in time to see the UPS truck turn the wrong way out of a subdivision down the street. I considered chasing him...but then rationalized that I would not have the time to play that night anyway.


I waited until 6:30 just in case.


While at Upper Room, my aunt who graciously purchased the laptop for me called me a million times. Kind of unusual, but I thought maybe she was excited for me to get it! Turns out, rather than allowing me to pick it up the next day, like we had agreed, they dropped it with a neighbor...who I don't know. WHAT?!?!?! My very expensive laptop with someone I don't know? Rush home, rush home, rush home. Find the address. Crap, this is worse than I thought. Not only do I not know the neighbor, I know the house and that name does NOT belong to anyone that lives there! Oh, NO!


Turns out its their last name, not someone's first name, that signed for the package. Whew!


Oh, but the hurdling doesn't end there, my friend. Since I did not yet have a wireless router and since I had to download some security measures before I could take the laptop with me wherever I go, I was going to hook it up by ethernet to my mom's network. Then her router died.


When will it end?

June 19, 2008

Ransom

My laptop is being held by UPS for ransom. What is the ransom? My signature.

At 2:47 AM it left the UPS center for delivery.

At 6:55 AM I left for work

At 11:08 AM UPS could not obtain a signature as recipient was not home (no crap, I was at work! where were you for the four hours between when you left the center that is like 6 miles from my house and when I left for work. That was four hours of delivery time!!!!!!!)

At 1:36 PM Customer called asking if she could pick up the laptop tonight.

At 2:45 PM UPS called and said she could pick it up between 7:30 and 8:00 PM
Frustrated conversation ensued about why the UPS coordinator could not contact the UPS man to have him stop by customers house between 6:00 and 6:30 or get said UPS man's butt (it IS a man, the UPS center said so) back to the center so said customer can pick up laptop in a timely manner.

At 2:55 PM Customer ended call with the promise of a phone call received if it could be picked up earlier.

At 5:14 PM Customer leaves work knowing she will need to send her mother to pick it up at 9:00 AM Friday morning.

June 18, 2008

Catch Up

I haven't posted in a couple days, so I thought I would have a catch up post:

I still don't understand the blogher thing and I'm having a heck of a time finding time to figure it out! For now, I will be content with ignoring its existence until such a time when I can make myself sit down long enough to process.

I think I need to come up with themes for my days of posting. Perhaps I should first consider posting more often.

Current issues I'm panicking about: Marriage. Keep in mind I have no prospects, no boyfriend, and in the foreseeable future have absolutely no reason to be panicking. Ridiculous, I know.

I am having a garage sale this weekend and need to finish going through the crap in my basement so I can sell everything I own this weekend. So annoying, all the posessions.

Went out for a bachelorette party (unrelated to the aforementioned marriage panic) and had a blast! Note to self: not the best idea on a work night.

That's all for now, check back later for more explanations and pictures!

June 13, 2008

The site where women and blogs collide: BlogHer

Ok, so I'm bouncing around the blogworld today and come across this person who posts at something called BlogHer and of course, being a woman, I want to know what is this site where women and blogs collide!

What I found is a bevy (and I believe this is the first time in life I have used that word) or a hotbed of blogging women! I joined of course, but am finding that I've skipped steps, like reading the How To section and About because I'm not really sure yet what it is about, except that it puts my blog out there.

Here's my issue: they want an RSS feed and I don't know what that is or how to give them one. I tried to google it, but the explanations don't provide any help and then I found some info here at blogspot, but I don't think I did it right because everything comes up blank. So, if you know what you're doing, please offer some assistance by leaving a comment.

June 12, 2008

Flying Staplers (formerly: You get what you ask for...)

I was struck moments ago, by a flying stapler....just kidding, I was really struck by a realization I had about how God works in all kinds of ways and it felt like I was struck with a flying stapler. In fact, that's what I think I will call those moments, flying staplers. Awesome. I'm changing the title.

About two or three years ago, I asked God to break down the barriers that I build, the walls that keep people away, my beloved defense mechanisms. Well, true to His word, He fulfills promises and has been whittling away. Lately, though, I feel like those changes are coming faster and more impactful, at times literally leaving me breathless as they are realized. I even have moments of panic when I look to the future to wonder why now, what will this mean? I am horrified to actually put this on paper, because it's so embarassing and it seems so single minded, but only one person reads this blog anyway (thanks girlymama) so I guess it's ok. Typically I am viewing this in the frame of meeting my husband. Awful, isn't it? For a girl who is very hardcore about protecting and guarding women's hearts, thinking in that light does me in for a panic attack every time! My first thought lately has been, "Oh, but wait, it's too soon, I know I said I wanted to get married, but oh my, do I really, I don't knowohmygoshwhatamigoingtodowithall..." and the pathology continues from there until I am worked up in a ridiculous frenzy and remember to look down at my feet and remember I am still planted firmly where God wants me and not a moment too soon will I get to wherever He is taking me. Insert deep breath here.

Once I come back to the present moment, where God and I are both in the same space and time, I remember that I asked for this. And I take a look around. For example, I lead a college ministry at my church and I have a student that I've known since she was in high school. She recently wrote a letter and it struck me as very open, vulnerable, etc. This is kind of unusual for her, or at least the real life her (I've noticed that internet-her is a little different-both are wonderful people) and I really felt like God was leading me to respond in some way and so I prayed about it. I gave her some encouragement and shared a little bit about God changing me and in doing so was hit by a flying stapler! I realized, God impacted me and communicated with me while I was writing back to this girl, who felt prompted to write this letter for whatever reason. He uses chain of events like that all the time, and I'm absolutely tickled by them.

I am a control freak. I've known this for quite a bit of time, and thought that I had it under control (HA!) to the point where I would only be that way in certain situations that I decided were alright. I viewed it as sort of micromanaging. In some situations, I need to do it. In others, not so much. But in my development of defense mechanisms and wall building, I'm trying to control zillions of things: others' view of me, my level of vulnerability with them, how much they know about the real me, how much I let God into the situation/relationship, etc. I even did it earlier in this post, trying to decide how much to put out there for ONE PERSON to read. Who, in all honesty, lives many states away, who I haven't seen since a random trip to a city near her, and is such a loving person that she probably wouldn't care what mess I put out there and even already knows some mess because she discipled me in college. Now THAT is a control freak for you.

Once I'm hit by a stapler, I can quickly get overwhelmed because I like to look at things from various angles. First, my own: why do I do that? Second, others' view: if I were them, or if I were me and someone did that in my direction, what would I think about them, how would I react in the others' shoes, etc. Third, from God's view: what does He say about that behavior/action (usually, stop it) or what does He say about the opposite of that behavior (controlling: His will, His time). Lastly, the impact: what situations does that behavior play out in and what kind of impact does that have on that situation/relationship. It can get deep and believe me, quite widespread.

One example of how that control thing played out today in the impact survey is in light of the college bible study that I run. I have been persevering on the numbers of folks that show up. I have about 30 people on my active mailing list. They got there because they were in the high school group, or signed up to be on the mailing list. They are dedicated people. They love Jesus, or know something about Him, they come to church, etc. The first week, two people. The second week, one. Nevermind that I had gotten a zillion e-mails that folks were out of town, would be there next week, had other committments. Nope, I freaked out that my bible study was not going the way I thought it should and what was God doing putting this group on my heart to create and then letting me feel like a failure? Ok, where do I BEGIN with all the wrong things in that sentence? If I let the numbers thing get in the way, I'm getting in God's way. I need to prayerfully follow His guidance of what to do each week, each moment, each e-mail, each conversation with these students, these friends, and don't worry about anything else. Last week, God sent one person. Awesome! A NEW person. And I felt a little ridiculous leading the bible study with one person, but it was still good. And hopefully she'll come back. But if she doesn't, that's ok, because I walked in His will.

A brief note before I wrap up: this is the first bible study I've ever led and I was scared out of my mind. Half hoping no one would show up so I wouldn't have to do it, half hoping someone would show up so it wouldn't be a failure for that week. That's a hard spot to be in, halfway between two desires :) So as I was half rejoicing that I wouldn't have to lead the bible study because no one was there, and praying to the Lord, "God, is it really Your will that no one is here, how can that be?" this girl walked through the door. Talk about a blatant answer. I loved it.

June 10, 2008

Grilled Corn

The grill is working out nicely and dinner was delicious last night! Oh my goodness was it good! I tried this with the corn and it worked out nicely:

Ingredients:
Corn
Butter
Fresh lemon juice
Crushed garlic

Combine butter, lemon juice to taste, and garlic in a bowl, microwave until butter is melted.
Remove husks from corn and place corn on grill (I put mine on the little "warming rack" but you could probably put it on the cooking part too). Turn corn and rebaste every few minutes until it looks a deep yellow. Enjoy!

Other ideas for serving: themed spices - try curry, red pepper flakes, pesto, or chili powder melted in with the butter for serving with different types of meals...

June 9, 2008

Forgiveness

Near the end of my first year in grad school my parents separated, except it was a lot more violent than that, or at least felt that way...separated sounds like such a mutal word, an amicable split. It was anything but. Clear out of the blue for the most part. Unexpected. Mean and painful. In any case, divorce was in the works.

It was maddening the way he would keep showing up to do things around the house, like cut the grass. Or fix something. Like he still lived there and had any right to come and go as he pleased. He even once bought us ice cream and left it in the freezer. Left a note for my mom every time, and signed it "love" which is the completely wrong word for it. "Torture" would have been more appropriate. I mean, is it really love when in the same breath as you tell someone they are the most important person in your life and you love them so much, you also tell them that you're leaving? I hardly think so.

We sold the house. Packed our stuff into storage and left. I did things like take all the cds I knew were his favorite. I left him all the tupperware without lids and lids without tupperware bottoms (he would throw tantrums over this when I was growing up). I purposely left things messy so he would be responsible for cleaning up the mess he left. I realize now how metaphorical that is, or whatever the appropriate word is. I still want him to be held responsible for what a mess things were/are and I want someone to blame for how angry and hurt I still am.

So the Christmas following, this would have been December of 2002, all I could do as my mom and I hopped from party to party on Christmas Eve was think about how lonely he must be because my mom got all the friends and family in the settlement. It made me feel bad, so I called him. Then I went over for lunch. When I went back to school and made arrangements to have lunch while he was in town on business. It was all just awful. All I could picture was having to split holidays and the sad look on my mom's face when I would leave her to see him, awkward silences while we thought about things we couldn't talk about, how horribly he treated my mom, how disrespectful he is.

So I told him I couldn't see him anymore. I barely looked at him through lunch. We had Chinese food. I didn't look at him when I told him I couldn't do this anymore. It was snowing outside. We got out of the car. I still wasn't looking at him. He asked if he could have a hug. I told him no and walked away. He sent me a letter later that year asking if he could come to my graduation. I sent him a scathing letter back wondering how he could ask such a thing. I then spent the whole day worried that he would show up and cause a scene. I hated the feeling of being overly alert and prepared for what might happen if he were to show up, so I took precautions to cover my tracks. He doesn't know where I live, where I work, where I go to church, what car I drive, what my phone number is. He still sends Christmas and birthday presents every year, but I think this was the last one. He used to send them to my mom's office, but her office moved. He tried sending them through family, but that made them uncomfortable. This year a package came to the house, but it had the wrong phone number on it so I returned it to UPS person unknown. But now I'm afraid that he'll show up on my doorstep to check and see if the address was right.

All this mess is coming up again because I found out he's moving to the next city over. There's a HUGE possibility he'll be places I go. And I'm afraid. Not because he'll do anything, but because I don't know what I would do. Freak out? Snap? Disintegrate? Melt? I've spent an awful lot of time making sure he can't find me. The worst thing he is is pushy, so the worst thing that could happen is he'll bother me all the time. But I haven't dealt with MY issues with him leaving, I don't think. I've spent all my time concentrating on my mom.

I thought that I had forgiven him, but the thought has come to mind that perhaps I conditionally forgave him: I will forgive you if only I never have to see you, speak to you, hear from you, etc. And if that is the case, what do I do next? I don't have any particular desire to forgive him, other than the fact that it's what God tells us to do. I do have a particular desire for him to be punished, scolded, reprimanded, pay, be humiliated, be lonely, held accountable, responsible, etc. for leaving and inflicting what has resulted in my life/lifestyle for the past five years.

I deduced last week at bible study (thank God it was the women's time together) that I probably am truly mad at God for not protecting me, when it gets right down to it. My pastor always says anger is a secondary emotion, not primary. My primary emotion is hurt. My dad turned out to not be what he was supposed to be, and he did not do what he was supposed to do. My life is not turning out how it was supposed to turn out. I feel guilty and responsible for things that I shouldn't be.

Which doesn't leave me in any better of a place, because what do you do with anger at the Lord? He does everything perfectly, and good always wins over evil, and I truly believe that if he stayed, things could have turned out worse. But what do you do if your head knows, but your heart doesn't?

Give me an F, G, H, and J

No, I am not a cheerleader, but I did build a grill!

I have been missing grilled summer food since we moved into the condo and my craving for grilled chicken and grilled veggies this weekend was just too great! I went to Lowe's and got a tabletop portable gas grill. I expected given the size of the box that all I had to do was attach the legs and screw the mini bottle of propane onto it. Nope! The whole thing needed to be assembled so for two hours I deciphered ridiculous directions and tiny pictures that were hard to see. All the little nuts and bolts and springs and washers were labeled with letters...on the front of the package...not the back where the opening was, but the front. And there were like four little nuts, bolts and washers for each hole.

Finally it came together! Saturday we had grilled chicken and bbq chicken, grilled summer squash and bean salad. Delish! Strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate for dessert.

Tonight we're having hamburgers, corn on the cob, and salad!

Bon appetit!

May 28, 2008

Ph.D. Application Goal Statement

It makes me nervous to post this here, but I had a hard time finding examples of essays to submit for Ph.D. applications, so maybe these will help folks. What helped me most was finding someone who had already been through a doctoral program to proof it and make suggestions. For privacy, both personal and professional, I have removed my name and school, replaced with * as place savers.

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Educational Leadership Ph.D. Program Goal Statement

In July 2003, I found myself in a position I had not been in since my first day of kindergarten. I was at a new school, surrounded by people I had never met, with an opportunity to fully engage in this new academic experience. The Associate Dean of Students gave the instruction to take out a blank sheet of paper and write our name in the center of the page at the top. I anticipated a goal-writing session or a creative activity that allowed us to get to know the others in the room. Instead, she instructed us to write “Dr.” in front of our name. I still have that piece of paper and it has served to remind me of my potential during seemingly impossible experiences and a thrilling reminder of what I hope will be.
To gain practical experience while attending Grand Valley State University, I accepted a Graduate Hall Director position in Housing and Residence Life. I effectively applied the concepts of what I learned in the classroom to my responsibilities of supervising paraprofessional staff and educating students. I facilitated professional development programs for the paraprofessional staff and educational programs for the residential students. As part of my professional development, I participated in a program wide case study competition, placed third in a national case study competition, and presented at a variety of conferences. While attending Grand Valley I accepted a position to teach a section of First Year Seminar. This was my first time creating a traditional learning environment in a college setting and I took pride in encouraging these students who were exploring unchartered territory to take advantage of all that college had to offer both inside and outside the classroom. As an adjunct faculty member I was responsible for selecting and supervising an undergraduate teaching assistant and developing the curriculum. I really enjoyed manipulating various pieces of the curriculum to address the learning styles and cognitive development of the students.
Following graduation from Grand Valley State University I continued my experience in Residence Life at Olivet College as a Hall Director. Without a Director of Residence Life, as one of three new Hall Directors at Olivet, and the only one with past Housing experience, I organized the Hall Director training and compiled the Departmental Procedures Manual. My service on the RA Selection and Training Ancillary Committee at Grand Valley prepared me well to manage the RA process as well, and I began by writing an RA Policies, Procedures, and Training Manual, organized and facilitated a week-long training for incoming RAs, and designed the future RA Selection Process.
Fortunately, the majority of my professional experience has been positive, but it was not without challenges. My second position at Olivet College as the campus Judicial Officer challenged my identity, ethical values, and perception of self worth. These challenges culminated in a situation where I was asked to compromise my ethical standards by excusing two student athletes that had been sanctioned for possession of drugs. I was supported by the Dean of Students in my decision not to turn a blind eye to the situation however my employment was terminated by the President of the college as a result of my refusal. Although I am proud that I stood up for my beliefs, I was discouraged that acting ethically resulted in unemployment.
As the Housing Coordinator at Wayne State University, I was responsible for the recruitment and retention of residential students which was accomplished by promoting Housing and Residential Life in presentations both on and off campus and organizing a marketing effort for current residents. I created and managed the database of all campus residents, coordinated all contracts, and assigned students to their living spaces. As part of the student contract I worked closely with the Financial Aid Office to maximize a student’s opportunity to receive aid while living on campus. I was fascinated with the intricacies and complexities of financial aid and wanted to enhance my experience by enabling students to pursue a higher education.
My limited financial aid experience allowed me to be hired in a part-time, entry level position at Macomb Community College as a Financial Aid Technician where I began evaluating tax documents and student information for the verification process. My main area of responsibility was to communicate with students regarding the verification of their documents and the status of their aid. The training acquired at Macomb Community College provided enough experience to obtain my current position at Oakland University as a Financial Aid Advisor. I enjoy educating students about funding their college career as well as the analytical functions of evaluating information in order to provide students with financial aid. I have also discovered that working at an institution that is student focused and encourages growth in its employees has renewed my passion for my own education and career.
I wish to be accepted into the doctoral program for Educational Leadership to fulfill my personal, academic and career goals. Completing my Ph.D. would be the fulfillment of a personal goal set when I wrote “Dr. *” on that piece of paper in July 2003. Academically I would like to participate in research that could affect student development theory and a higher education environment. Obtaining my doctoral degree in Educational Leadership would enrich my professional career and allow me to work toward my professional goals which include becoming a faculty member, a Dean of Students, and working to create a Student Affairs concentration within a Master’s of Education program.
My resume reflects my responsibilities and skills, but it cannot convey the dedication and zeal I have for higher education. The people involved in my college and professional experiences have had a tremendous impact on my development, and I want to continue to participate in an environment where I can impact and motivate students to become intellectually and socially responsible. I am excited to have discovered that my education never has to end, and while I have learned not to rigidly plan my career or education, I hope both will take place at *.

May 26, 2008

Feel the Burn

I wore the cutest sundress to church on Sunday with a short little black sweater. Afterwards, the best friend and I went out for coffee and sat outside by these little waterfalls. I removed my sweater because it was hot out there in the sun! Do you think I remembered to put on the sunblock that I put in my purse for just these types of occasions? Or perhaps I could recall that just because there is a nice cool breeze does not mean I'm not frying myself? I am in serious pain.

Despite that fact, I slathered on sunblock today, hooked up my new bike seat (no crotch thingy, so comfy) and my new bike helmet (pink to match my purple and silver bike) and took off for Metro Beach where there were gajillions of drunk people. And kids. And garbage. But then, there was a sunset. And a nice breeze out on the point. It was beautiful. We had a great time, sunburnt and all!

May 21, 2008

Talk about a stress test!

Not many people know this, but about a year ago I began applying to a Ph.D. program. I didn't tell many people for two reasons, the first being an attempt to keep my day dreaming mind under control and not give my heart away to the dream, and also so that when I didn't get in, I wouldn't have to be embarassed in front of that many people. It was a long and laborious process, partly because I was also getting used to a new job at the same time. Finally, this past February all my materials were submitted and I had but one thing left to do - The Writing Exam.

This isn't any regular writing exam, like when you took a placement test in college. This is a full fledged, pop quiz essay of sorts where under a great deal of pressure you are expected to produce writing from the heavens that is better than any other applicants'.

I was ok with this test until I found out The Truth. There is no benchmark to exceed and guarantee acceptance into this program. Oh, no. That would be far too easy. In this program, you submit your materials - things you can no longer do anything about like transcripts, test scores, a goal statement, and letters of recommendation - then take the writing exam and then...here comes the bad part - they subjectively compare your submissions to the other applicants, put them in order and the top 12-24 (depending on the number of cohorts) get in. Um, excuse me? You mean, I could totally rock it all out and if someone else happens to apply for the same academic year and they rock it all out plus one, they get in and I don't!?!?! Well, jeez, that only made me feel a little bit stressed about the The Writing Exam.

I met with the Director of the program, not as a result of The Writing Exam, but more because the materials said that you should contact the Director of the program to make sure it's the one for you! Well, I had some questions, so we met. She thoughtfully, and graciously, and nicely gave me tips for The Writing Exam. They were as follows:

1. There will be 7 essay questions. You choose two to write about.
2. You choose TWO to write about. (apparently applicants forget this and run out of time)
3. Stick to the five paragraph essay
4. Read the last two issues of The Chronicle of Higher Education (which I happen to be a fan of anyway)

This made me feel better. I practically memorized the last two issue of the Chronicle.

The night before, I freaked out, went to the gas station (it was the only thing open), cursed myself for quitting smoking and bought Diet Coke and two bags of candy (Almond Joy minis and Hershey's Kisses).

The morning of, I threw up (per usual on the first day of school type stuff), and proceeded to cold sweat my way all the way to the university library where I was taking The Writing Exam. I called my best friend. I sent a text message to a bunch of other friends asking for prayer because I was freaking out and had lost my Jesus mojo (peace).

Hyperventilated my way into the computer lab at the library, sat down in the very last row, at the very last computer, in the very furthest corner of the room (my favorite spot in any occasion for meetings or classes - it allows good perspective to the room) and was washed in Jesus mojo! I felt so much better, no more butterflies. And why? Because the prayers were working! I asked for peace and it was done because He said so! Awesome, no?

So I took The Writing Exam. I wish I had a half hour more for the second question, but I finished and I lived through it and was excited at the end, not nervous, or scared, or even relieved (as that would indicate the two previous feelings) just excited!

I will post the questions and essays if you would like to read them, although I haven't re-read them and am a little afraid that they are kinda crap due to the surprise nature of the topics and all. I had the best friend read them a week later and she said I nailed them, and agreed the second one could have been a bit more polished, but who knows if she is telling the truth.

May 20, 2008

Mind numbing clutter

The Job is switching over to Microsoft Office 2007, far far away from my comfy cozy corner of 2003. This is all well and good and I'm all for updated features and more options and junk, but the training....oh, it makes my eyes droop and my mind wander it's so boring. You have the option of this annoying lilting voice reading the words on the screen and showing you what she's talking about, but I read faster than she talks so it only ends up confusing me, so I turned her off. Now I'm distracted. Because the mind numbing clutter of all the things I have to do are swirling around my head distracting me from learning about Access, which I will never use, by the way.

Therefore, it is time to create another to do list so that I can learn my Office 2007 crap :)

Music Ministry
done -Get contact info for intern
done -Create schedule to introduce various areas of ministry
done -- contact Visual ministry
done -- contact Sound ministry
- assign dates and times for shadows
doneAssign two special projects
done -Praise and worship concert
done -Dance/theatrical performance
done-Generate questions
done- Send out minutes of worship leader meeting, ministry meeting
done -Schedule for third quarter

College Bible Study
done -Research four or five bible study methods
Compile packet for each of them
Prepare outline of each week
done - Contact those who have signed up on sheets, returners
done - Contact incoming high school seniors
done -Make a list of possible activities, events
Gather some supplies for projects
done -Follow up with Deacons about videos for ministry proposal
removed - I'll give them the idea, but if they want to do it, they have to plan it!Brainstorm ideas and contact Nursery/Children's ministry for daycare

Personal
forget it, starting over - Clear up budget
done for now, can't make a decision - Get paint samples for back hall
chose different project - Sketch plan for backhall
Start sorting stuff in basement for yard sale
Send Board a map sign up sheet and bbq sheet for sub sale
done - Deposit reimbursement check
Research necessary items for tuition reimbursement for Fall semester
Spring cleaning

Sorority stuff
done - Schedule a meeting with Treas
done - Revise CAB and Council meeting schedules

I know there must be more, but that's all I can think of at the moment! I'm off to learn Access!!!!

May 16, 2008

Remiss with good reason

I have not written in two weeks! My posting more frequently committment went right out the window there, didn't it?! I've thought about posting, though, does that count?

I have a good reason, though! I have literally, LITERALLY- had something to do each night of the week for the past two weeks. Summer is starting up again so I've had to have a couple meetings with my ministry partner who agreed to lead the college bible study with me this summer.

Plus I've had music ministry stuff GALORE to get ready for a couple of meetings coming up this weekend, plus expanding the ministry and coming up with a plan for that. We're losing a couple of singers this summer and only have two drummers, so we need to be bigger, I think.

Then there were the dog sitting responsibilities for this little moochie who belongs to my best friend. I love hanging out with him because he's always so excited to see me and the cuddliest dog you've ever met. He's not happy unless he's on you whether it's sitting on your lap, or laying against you, laying up the length of your body, etc.

And I typically am posting at work, which has been crazy busy lately! The school year ended and the summer semester began so everyone wanted to know about their financial aid for summer. It's starting to slow down a bit, but soon we will start files for the Fall semester and it will be crazy again!

But I'm back. And still busy. But more organized. I promise.

May 3, 2008

Potatoes for appetizers

Everyone came over for the baby shower last night for Sara and we had a great time! She brought her friend Mary from college who is in town for the weekend, so everyone got to catch up, which was great. We had TONS of good food: spinach dip, bruschetta, brownies, cake, salad and yummy toppings, veggies, fruit, and yes, even the appetizer potatoes which I still hold are a side.

The pictures are taking their sweet time to load, so I thought I would catch up on some stuff before I get ready for the Tres de Mayo party (since it is the third of May) - which reminds me that I must dust off my sombraro!

Anyway, we sat around and chatted for a bit, and ate...a lot! We made a scrapbook and opened presents. It was a lovely evening. You can view the slideshow here.

May 2, 2008

I made....plans

Today, I made arrangements for the super secret suprise. I cannot WAIT until it happens, or gets close to happening, because then I can tell everyone! Until then, I must keep quiet lest anyone blab or loosen their lips.

On Monday, I will do research on the secret surprise.

Ok, that's enough! I'm not telling!

Baby Shower for Turkey

So, this evening, at promptly 7:00 PM we will be having a hopefully ridiculously fun time at my house! We includes the women from the bible study, one of whom is pregnant and is for whom we are throwing a little private baby shower! Turkey is due in May, at the very end of the month and she will be the second one of our group to have a little munchkin. The first is Malachi although this might be a better picture - he is now four months old and getting big! Anywho, we are throwing this baby shower. The menu is appetizers and salad plus dessert, of course!

One of the girls is bringing roasted potatoes as an appetizer. This has replaced the rice she was previously going to bring. Does this strike anyone else as odd? She claims you can go to any restaurant in American and find roasted potatoes on the menu under appetizers. I maintain it is a side item. We're going to vote on it tonight. We are also having bruschetta, a veggie tray, a fruit tray with dip. For the salad we are having a salad bar with all kinds of delcious toppings!

For dessert we are having brownies with candy baked into them which is sooooo delicious. Once I get going on the recipes section, I'll post one for those! Pretty easy, especially if you bake from a mix.

I'll post pictures this weekend!

My favorite phone call

Me: "Thank you for calling Financial Aid, this is Carrie, how can I help you?"
Them: "Hi, is this Financial Aid?"
Me: "Yes it is, how can I help you?"
Them: "I'd like to speak to someone about my financial aid"....and silence......still silence....
Me: "Ok, how can I help you?"
Them: "Oh, I can talk to you?"
Me: "YES, HOW CAN I HELP YOU?"
Them: "I was just wondering if I could get some information about my financial aid?"

This is going to be a very long conversation.

May 1, 2008

HUGE secret

Oh my goodness! I have a giant secret that I can't post it here yet because it is a surprise! Oooooh, I'm so excited and I can't wait! Well, I could tell you privately, I suppose - I'm just afraid that the person the surprise has to do with will perhaps by some random chance read this and find out and it would ruin all my fun!

April 30, 2008

little old me

Girlymama posted her answers on her site and I'm waiting for pics to upload to photobucket before I go to sleep so I thought I'd post my answers here:

Where is your cell phone? In my hand - I'm multi-tasking by texting at the same time that I'm typing this.
Your significant other? Jesus has not yet introduced us- :( because I think I'm ready :) because the Lord's timing is perfect!
Your hair? is always in a ponytail because it's so ridiculously curly and I need to get it cut as it is too long and shapeless right now.
Your mother? Is living at her best friend's house right now
Your father? as far as I know, alive...still.
Your favorite thing? sleep. laughing. friends. puppies. babies.
Your dream last night? that I was a prostitute. Very disturbing. I'll write later.
Your favorite drink? Mom's iced tea. Diet Coke. Water with lemon.
Your dream/goal? Ah, jeez. That's tough. Job wise: to get my Ph.D. be the Dean of Students and a professor and start a Student Affairs Masters program. Otherwise: to decrease me and increase God, to be married, to have children, to be a stay at home mom, to have fun most of the time.
The room are you in? my office in the basement of my house.
Your ex? wasn't really dating me
Your fear? that I'm sabotaging myself.
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Still here :)
Where were you last night? Bible study
What are you not? a man
Muffins? as in muffin tops? like fat spillover while wearing lowride pants? NO ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!! If your pants make you do that, get bigger pants.
One of your wish list items? A camcorder
Where you grew up? Michigan
The last thing you did? Sent a text message to my best friend about how cool she is
What are you wearing? Um, horribly enough my work pants and a pajama top...
Your TV? Is upstairs
Your pets? Snickers my dog
Your computer? Provided by work, at work, for work...
Your life? is busy, but I like it that way
Your mood? Pensive
Missing someone? Carra - she hasn't been at bible study all semester becase she had class
Your car? A 2003 Honda CRV
Something you are not wearing? My rings
Favorite store? Target- shouldn't this just be an auto-fill answer?
Your summer? Will be a blast!
Like someone? Yes
Your favorite color? Pink, purple, green...depends
When is the last time you laughed? About an hour ago when my best friend called and I was so engrossed in what I was doing, I jumped about a mile at the sound of the phone ringing
Last time you cried? About an hour and a half ago...
Who will repost this? Um, probably no one because I don't think anyone reads this blog :) Let me know if you played along.