Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Life is Good Today"

Hi, all. Can't believe I let time get away from me, once again! Let's see if I can compress the last two months into a managable size blog.

In the weeks that followed my good news (passing my Child Life exam), my stress level dropped TREMENDOUSLY. No longer did I need to devote hours each day/week to studying for the exam, and I had also finished my volunteer hours at the library for my volunteer management course. Plus, there was some big agriculture education conference that all of our professors went to, so we somehow ended up with 1 class in 18 days. It was sweet as all get out.

My mom and cousin, Alyssa, came to visit me in Raleigh for the week of Thanksgiving. It was really a nice time with lots of forced relaxation, which I definitely needed. I tried to show them a good time in Raleigh, but I often apologized for leading a boring life, as they sat in front of the tv watching movies while I did some form of schoolwork each day of their visit. :-(

Some of the fun things we did do included touring NC State, watching New Moon, eating a very delicious Cajun Thanksgiving meal, attending the Christmas craftshow at the State Fairgrounds, and checking out a few museums downtown. Of course, I took mom and Alyssa to the Free Expression Tunnel on campus, which they loved (It's a personal favorite of mine!). My mom smuggled some boudain and rice dressing stock on the plane, so we had some legit Cajun food for Thanksgiving. Mmm, it totally made my week! Hehe.

Seriously though, it was just really nice to relax and have my lovely family around. Life in Raleigh has been a real struggle for me, and to have a break from that was wonderful. Realizing now that I won't have this chance again in the spring, I'm wondering how I'm going to make it through another semester without a piece of home. Hmm. I did okay in DC, but my mom and brother came to visit (twice), as well as my little pseudo-Cajun Sunshine, and lots of 4-H family. Plus, I celebrated my birthday and Mardi Gras in DC, with huge care packages, "boxes of love," straight from the heart! I suppose I'm just gonna hope for the best and avoid thinking about what may come. Smile.

Moving on...School ended and I've been home from Raleigh for two weeks now. In my first week at home, I spent a few days tying up loose ends with assignments and work. I'm pretty frustrated with NC State's grading process (actually I think it's ridiculous), but I manged to pull out an A and two A-, so my GPA sits at something like 3.7. Tell me how A;s translate to a 3.7, and I'll give you a cookie. That GPA says to me "a couple of B's," but of course NC State As are not worthy of their full point value. I believe the phrase "FUGS!" is order here, :)

Again, I say the snow gods absolutely hate me. It has snowed in LA twice in the last two years while I have been living out of state. In both places where I was living at the time, it snowed in the days following my departure when I went home for the holidays. Only DC was generous with snow for me. In fact, my little car had half an inch of snow on it in Wake Forest; my dearest Lendy sent me pictures! So not cool man.

While at home, my life hasn't been overly interesting, but I have been up to a few cool things. I went to the first round of bridesmaid dress shopping with Victoria (bride), Anne Catherine, Hilary, and Brandi. A second round is planned with at least Dawn and Lauren D., and maybe Toria R. The happy couple (Victoria and Seth) are having an ornament exchange party this coming Tuesday, the 29th. I'm trying to convince Kyle to come as Dawn and I's date...he's plenty used to pimp status (lol), and we all miss him, plus Dawn and I need dates to the party. Heh. We sure wish he would join us...hint hint, wink wink!

I also helped Ms. Lanette Hebert (Southwest Regional Coordinator) teach a 4-H teen counselor training at the Rice Research Station in Crowley. There were 18 teens signed up for the training, but only 12 showed up. Honestly, this was probably the rowdiest group we've ever had at the training. However, I was very grateful that Ms. Lanette invited me to help, because I love the subject matter and really enjoy the opportunity to volunteer with the 4-H program any chance I get. I really wish I could be around for more state 4-H stuff; I miss being around, seeing everyone, and just generally supporting the program which is so near and dear to my heart.

That night, I went with the Vermilion 4-H Jr. Leader Club to Acadian Village for Noel Acadien au Village. It's in Lafayette, so we took a bus, but a bunch of the kids' families went to the village too. In order to get the group discount, we all had to enter the village together. To get an accurate count, we used Vermilion's tried and true method--TWO BY TWO!! (I bet you remember this well, Co-co?) With a group as large as ours, it was quite entertaining to see the jaws drop (literally!) as other patrons arrived, thinking that our line was the one to enter. It was great. When it was all said and done, we had about a hundred people in our group. Vermilion 4-H sure does it big--it's not uncommon for us to travel in packs of 100! I love my Vermilion 4-H!!

At Acadian Village, I took lots of pictures for my far-away friends. This place is very beautiful year-round, but especially during the Christmas season. If you want to see a true depiction of Cajun culture from the old days, this is the place to go. Words cannot describe it, but a picture is worth a thousand words, they take a look at my Facebook album for a small glipse of the experience! :)

What else? Christmas, I guess. I had a good Christmas with the family. Nothing to exciting or crazy. Lots of little kids, which is one of the best parts, probably. Oh, and amazingggg food. My gosh, the food here is just DIVINE! Riceeeee and gravy, seafood gumbo...all of it! Today I was thinking about how our major commodities are rice, sugar(cane), and seafood...which all translate to heaven on a dish! And people wonder why we've got such terrible health practices here. I'm fully okay with that, the benefits outweigh the consequences, lol.

Gift-wise, I'm still working on getting a new phone. I've got a temporary one right now, but it sucks. Our new phone company may have good service, but everything else about it suckssss. If anyone wants to offer up an unlocked phone or maybe even the opportunity to add me as a line on your AT&T plan (I'll pay my portion!), feel free to let me know. It's just so frustrating that I can't use Twitter or googl (40404), or get photos, or anything cool. Bahhhhh. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a decent phone soon... Erm, other gifts. I got a winter jacket, that I will hopefully be able to use in Raleigh or some cool place. 'Course it's water proof, so bring on the snow??? What am I saying, snow hates me, remember? lol. Random other stuff: cute socks, water bottles, books, etc.

Now, I've got 13 days left in Louisiana. The question is, how am I going to spend them? I'm bound and determined to make a quilt of t-shirts, so I will probably get back to that project tomorrow. Also, I'm hoping for a trip to Luling to see the college folks, and perhaps even one to Arkansas for a mini-camp reunion. However, I really just want to relish in this relaxing time at home, so I don't know. I'm torn about being busy and seeing everyone or just staying home and enjoying my lovely state from the comforts of a blanket curled up on the couch. We'll see what happens, I guess.

In any case, it's going to be hard goodbye, but there are lots of things to look forward to this spring in Raleigh (and across the country, with all my travels, lol). The day after I arrive in Raleigh, I'm going to the NC State campout (more like freeze-out) to earn tickets for the UNC basketball game. Only a few days after that, Jeff will be arriving from Idaho for he, Jess, and my trip to see Chris (and AASU) in Savannah, GA. A few weeks after that, Jess, Elizabeth, Kevin, and I are headed down to Orlando for a conference. So much to do, and the list goes on....

Well, this entry once again turned out longer than I expected, but it also spanned the the time of 2 months, so I guess it's compacted and appropriate. You all should remind me to write more often! Maybe with the encouragement I'll have more incentive to do so. :-p

Off for a while,

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bacon Lung & Spunky SEAttle

[I'm a month late on this one...]

Some of you may recall that I have been working toward certification as a Child Life Specialist. (See blogs about applying/interviewing for internship in Spring '08, interning at a children's hospital in Idaho in Fall '08, and intense daily studying this semester.) Because of this, I'd spent the first part of the semester acquiring student membership in the Child Life Council, and applying to sit for the national certification exam in Seattle. By the time November rolled around, I had read several complete books in hopes of refreshing my memory and acquiring a much new information as possible.

In the days leading up to my trip to Seattle, I was extremely stressed because I had several major projects due for school and, thus, had not been able to set aside exam studying time for more than a week. As it turns out, God works in mysterious ways. Randomly, I happened to contract the flu (so-says) only two days before I left for the exam in Seattle.

At first, I was really upset and freaked out about it--who wouldn't be--but it also meant that I was able to stay home from work and class for almost an entire week. Tamiflu, The Miracle Drug, helped me to feel better almost instantly, but because of the fever, I was still confined to my apartment right up until leaving for the airport. In my time at home, however, I was able to finish up most of my assignments with enough time to pack and prepare for the exam/trip, as well.

November 6, 2009
Jess, my Yankee friend (heh, she's from Pennsylvania), brought me to the airport for an eeeearly flight. I felt pretty guilty about asking her to do that, but then again, she and her Aunt who had flown in from Montana, were driving up to PA for the weekend, so she would have been up early, anyway. My flights to Minneapolis and Seattle were pretty uneventful; I even got to watch a movie on the long one (though I should have been studying, lol).

Nathan was waiting at the airport when I arrived. We went to his house to drop my stuff off and I met some of his roommates (who are pretty cool, btw). Then, we went out to explore the city. Our first stop was at the Fremont Troll, which is a huge sculpted troll that lives under a major bridge. I heard about the troll through an MSN article that I read on online a few weeks before the trip, so I asked Nathan to bring me. Plus, he hadn't seen it either, so I thought it was a good idea. We also explored Gas Works Park, which was this interesting little area right along the Puget Sound, with paths, a huge hill, and some crazy graffiti artwork. I took lots of fun pictures there. We walked arond in this touristy area, afterwards. There, Nathan took me to Ivar's, a seafood-stand-type food place. We shared some clam chowder, since I had never eaten that before and was still kind of avoiding food, as I hadn't eaten full meals in the previous few days from being sick. The chowder was interesting...not too bad, but I'm not sure that I'd eat it often.

That evening, we watched a movie; it was incredibly difficult for me to make it through the whole thing, with the time change and lingering feeverish feelings. Basically, I ended up falling asleep at 7pm PST and Nathan respectfully entertained himself through movies and online as I passed out like a loser. lol.

November 7, 2009
It was a fairly early morning, since I had to be at the testing center (at Washington State University) by 8 a.m. The test didn't start til 8:30 a.m., but it was good to be there early, as they moved the test location from one building to another. Way to test our flexibility, Child Life Council! lol. Anyway, I met some nice people at the test, one of which was from Idaho, and another who had done her internship at WakeMed here in Raleigh. (It's definitely a small world.) The test was intense, but not nearly as hard as it could have been. ...That, or I knew my stuff? Either way, I felt content with how I had done, so that was good.

After the test, we explored the city a bit more. We had lunch at a little restaurant on the way down a huge hill to Pike's Place, the famous Seattle market. The market was cool to see, but it wasn't any more outstanding than markets I have seen in New Orleans, Little Rock, Raleigh, or other cities I've visted. There were lots of shops in the basement area of the market, and we walked around in the neighborhood a bit too. There, I saw the original Starbucks (reminded me of New Orleans, with people singing outside of it, and lots of tourists...), and we looked out admiring the harbor area. Nathan also took me to a cute, bougie donut shop; it was the fanciest donut shop I've ever seen, lol. The hot chocolate was amazing, and I guess the donuts were okay too. :-p

That evening, I made it through not one, but two movies before passing out fairly early. Seriously, I was still on East coast time, which was fine by me. I never did like Pacific Standard Time, anyway. Hahaha.

November 8, 2009
My flight back East departed at 6 a.m., so it was yet another earlyyyyyyyy morning. Honestly, I didn't mind so much because 6 a.m. was essientially 9 a.m. my body's time, so it didn't bother me to wake up at 4 a.m., haha. Nathan, on the other hand, wasn't thrilled about it...but hey, he had to be at work by 6 anyway, so I don't get what the big deal was. :-p Again, my travels were fairly uneventful, and my wonderful North Carolinian taxi driver, Lendy, was there to greet me when I arrived back in Raleigh.

In the end, my body healed itself quite quickly, and everything worked out for the weekend in Seattle. It was a fun time, and I'm glad I made it out for the test, as well as to explore the city and visit a good friend.

Good times.

PS: I should note that 11 days later, I receieved official notification that I PASSED MY EXAM, which means that I AM officially a CERTIFIED CHILD lIFE SPECIALIST! Yayyy! :-D