A year ago today

Friday, October 23, 2009


I should bring back Clutter...Exposed! LOL

Contemplating busyness

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I struggle a bit wondering if my investment in school will be worth it. It's a BIG investment. It's short term (i.e., being super busy) and long term (i.e., takes several more years). This semester has been the worst yet, and I will have to figure out a way to NOT repeat this for another 5 years. Maybe once every few semesters, but not EVERY single one.

I do feel like I'm "working my life away" sometimes. I know there is more to life than school even if there isn't much more to MY life lately than school. The things that keep me trucking are, in no particular order:

I think it will be cool to have a Ph.D. someday, even if it's only my family who is impressed.

In an ideal situation, being a professor is a pretty cool job. The flexibility is good. On the other hand, I read a quote last week, "Yes, it's flexible, you can work any 80 hours a week you want." LOL But the investment in having a cool professor job goes so long beyond graduate school into the first several years of your assistant professor job. That's if you can get a tenure-track position to begin with. I definitely won't get one at UNT since I'm getting all my degrees there. Plenty of universities around to work for. A one-year post-doc appointment somewhere would probably help, too.

But even with all that uncertainty, the degree I'm aiming for is based in statistics and measurement, not educational theory, and I think there is sufficient "real world" opportunity available should I not go right into a university, whether or not by choice. And would it really be the end of the world if I finished school and taught K-12 or community college? Point is, there are options. The options are fewer without the Ph.D., though.

Wouldn't Tom love it if I came home one day and said, "Hey, I don't have homework anymore, so I won't have to work on the weekends!" Sure. But not at the expense of me leaving school. It's as much an investment in me as in our future. He knows that. He doesn't give me a hard time, but I know he'd love more leisurely Amber time. I have HARDLY been leisurely all semester.

The gray hair makes me look distinguished. LOL

I'm a little bummed because after the conference in Saint Louis November 5-8, I was hoping for some calm. But we had a meeting yesterday, and my boss asked me to help her rewrite a chapter - authorship on a chapter is worth a few more weeks of crazy, I think. It's due December 1st, so it can't last forever. Something new will come up by then, though. *sigh*

But how do you eat a big pie? One bite at a time.

(Note to self: work on SITE conference proposals and grading this morning, then on paper due Thursday this afternoon, then put together NAGC presentation Wednesday, finish paper Wednesday night into Thursday, turn it in Thursday, upload NAGC presentation Friday, and enjoy the Alliance Airshow on Saturday. You can do it!)

Nothing bad to say

Sunday, October 18, 2009

About this weekend! The weather is beautiful. My house smells like clean laundry and fresh air. Friday, we went bowling with people from school and had a great time. Yesterday, I got my hair cut and went shopping. Today, Amanda dropped by for an unexpected visit, and that was nice. Haven't seen her in forever, it seems like. Tom is out helping Clint move into his new place. I'm about to head to the store for a few groceries and laundry detergent before I do a bit more cleaning, make some tea, and finish grading papers. This week will be pretty hectic, but I'm ready for it after a weekend like this!

This month, I bought groceries for the whole month, so we only need perishables every week. I know what we're having every day. It is awesome! And it's not nearly as hard as I thought. It's not like I came up with 30 different dinner ideas. It's pretty much 2 weeks worth of meals x 2, and about 10-12 of those days are "throw something on the grill" days. It's working really well. I might take the next step and start doing some prep work once a month. I have that "Once a month mom" blog in my blog list, and they make freezer meals every month. I don't think I'm ready for that, plus their meals aren't quite the same kind of healthy I'm after lately, but some of tips for what you can do in advance are pretty cool, like browning meat and throwing it in the freezer. Made meatballs a couple of weeks ago, threw half of those in the freezer, and now we're having them again this week. I can't jump into something like that and stick to it, but I can handle small changes here and there.

Coming soon...

Friday, October 16, 2009

In 10 minutes - I do something productive.
In 7 hours - Tom and I go out to eat, then bowling with McNair people.
In 1 day - I get my hair cut and spend the day shopping.
In 2 days - I finish this latest batch of grading and work around the house.
In 3 days - I work, work, work!
In 5 days - I finish a presentation 2 weeks early, and turn in a proposal for another conference.
In 6 days - I have a paper due.
In 8 days - we go to the Alliance Air Show
In 9 days - Pictures
In 10 days - Amanda's birthday
In 11 days - more pictures
In 15 days - Halloween
In 20 days - Leave for St. Louis conference fun
In 24 days - Calmness comes to town.

Most importantly, 64 days til graduation!

Hanging out in Central Park.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

In Frisco, of course!

Well, Team TnA are having some new portraits done at the end of the month with my friend Jessica's husband, Colton @ http://www.sixfourteenphotography.com/. He started getting serious about his photography this year, and it didn't take him long to book up every weekend for the rest of the year. He does a great job. Jessica and I are getting some graduation pictures done later this month, too, and that should be a lot of fun! Tom and I are going to take Sasha (and a lot of doggie treats) with us on our shoot and hopefully get a good "family" shot.

So, we scouted out two possible locations yesterday in Frisco. First one was the Commons park. It was kinda cool. All the structures seemed whatasized, but the trees were new and miniature. Eh.

This dead tarantula should have been our first sign that this wasn't the place for us.

They do have this little pond with fountains.

This is an armed forces memorial.

Hi Tom!

I did like the greenery here. But, this park felt so new and McMansiony. Nice but not for us.

So we headed to Central Park, which is very close to Stonebriar mall. Tom is all serious about reading the history.

Here are a couple of fountains and some bronze art stuff that depicts cattle drives.

But that's not all - here are a ton of bronze statues. LOL

Bustin' out! Longhorns gone wild! hahaha

That's a nice park bench area. I hope the trees look more like fall by the time we do this. I like the light poles, too.


Waterfall thingie.

But this is what sold me. Pretty willow trees.

Cute bridge.

So, Central Park it is!

Also went to half price books - the Frisco location is really nice! I found four books, but not the one I went in there for, of course. It's almost not worth it, driving around in Frisco. Everything is so dense, and the traffic stinks. Trying to find stores there is a nightmare. You'll see the sign, but have to drive really far into the shopping area before you see the store. I guess you could get used to it, but we don't go often enough. Bleh!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

This semester is out of control!!

First of all, we have this flu situation. I feel like I'm tiptoeing around landmines. I know so many people who have had some kind of flu. I have been feeling great, but what am I going to do if I get knocked out for a week? It will be terrible! I feel for everyone who's been dealing with it. Two babies in my family and my uncle have H1N1, and I am a bit worried about them. :-( They're in the "at risk" groups for either type of flu. Odds are in their favor, but still, our good friend Murphy's Law seems to have a hold of 2009.

I'm taking 2 independent study classes and 2 difficult psychology classes this semester. The 2 psych classes are kicking my butt! Well, let me explain...

We went to Sharkathon last weekend. Left early Thursday, got back late Sunday. This is not the first mid-semester weekend trip I've gone on, but it's the first one that got me so behind. I do NOT have 4 days to give up. In fact, I've learned that I do not have 1 day to give up!

But it truly was a wonderful 4 days - I read 3 non-textbooks, and enjoyed wonderful weather and lots of wildlife. Here are some pics.

Our camp. Note the two tent-cots on the left, John's and Clint's. Cool huh??

Sunrises and sunsets were a treat the whole weekend. (Sunset here)

I have never seen prettier dunes, or whatever they're called.

Sunrise. It was so cool seeing that deer hanging out in the surf. He was right in front of our camp! When I got closer, I realized he was badly injured. I felt guilty for taking pictures, then I had this whole scenario playing out in my head where this poor deer had been traveling miles up the beach, stopping at every campsite along the way, waiting for someone to help him. I was so sad. :-( Then I thought, even if I could call the national park office (no cell signal), what would they do? We are all too eager to keep ourselves alive, and here I am trying to help this deer avoid the inevitability of the circle of life. Once I made peace with the fact that the deer succumbs to the coyote, by design, I started feeling better and just wished the deer a peaceful death. I'm glad he went back to the other side of the sand dunes though - I don't think I could've beared to see him lie down. I know it's kind of depressing, and if I were a different sort of person, I might have just left it at, "Look! Deer in the surf! SWEET!!" That would be a disservice to you, "deer" readers.

More wildlife. Clint in the sunrise.

So, that's just a few, but the rest are here if you're interested: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=326524&id=785100462&l=ad635f24ea

Then, I got back and had to take an exam on Tuesday. PRETTY sure that's a C. It was in psychophysiology, and I barely studied for it because of the trip. And thus began the downward spiral. I can't be flying by the seat of my pants in these classes!

We had a grant due Thursday, which I worked a little bit on, mostly on the reference list (a worthy contribution). I really hope it gets funded because it's a cool project, definitely worthwhile. It addresses science education for students with special needs.

But where I seriously messed up this semester is in my grading job. I am in a graduate class this time, where I've been grading in undergraduate classes before. IT IS SO MUCH MORE WORK. And that's one thing if I'd been prepared for it, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. It's 27 students who submit 20ish assignments each 4 times in the semester. That. is. a. lot. If I spend 2 minutes on each one, it's about 18-20 hours. Well, I will NOT put that off this time. I finished grading the first batch yesterday, and the next batch is due Saturday. I am not complaining - I am so grateful to have the extra job, but I will have to manage my time better.

We had a presentation at the Council for Learning Disabilities conference on Saturday. I thought it went really well. I was having an "on" day. Here we are looking all professional. I miss Rebekah (to my left). She took a teaching job at Aledo ISD while she finishes her dissertation. Her proposal is Monday, and I'm excited to go check it out. Getting to see all the dissertation steps along the way will be interesting.

Then I worked on grading all day Sunday.

After being asked if I was pregnant about a month ago, we have decided to start the South Beach diet again. We started last Wednesday or Thursday - can't remember. I really do love this diet. I spent some time Sunday doing some menu planning, and with that investment of time, it will be pretty easy to stick to the diet.

This week, I'm getting ready for another difficult exam on Thursday, then I need to finish compiling the materials for my grad school application. My personal statement needs to be pruned to 2 pages, I need to write a critical response to an article, and I need to pick out some "scholarly writing" samples. My letters of recommendation are in, so that's all that's left. I need to finish that this weekend, along with grading that 2nd batch of assignments.

And then, it's a mad dash to the NAGC conference in November. I need to analyze this semester's data, and I need to get my presentation ready before the 23rd (when they want it uploaded to their system). This is a big one, and since the project is sort of "mine", at least more than other things I work on, it is me on the line!

I foresee a window of calm coming in November, and I am seriously looking forward to it!

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