Education

Belated post: With Gratitude

I spent Thanksgiving weekend 2010 (nearly two years ago) feeling very thankful. During that time, I started writing the post below, but I didn’t finish. I now present to you my completed (and after) thoughts

On Thanksgiving in 2009 I spent the day with my in-laws. We were at Grandma’s house,  with Hubby’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, Aunt and Uncle, cousins, and (of course) Grandma. We celebrated Thanksgiving in their traditional way; Oyster stuffing (made specifically because Grandma thinks Hubby likes it), Poopernickel Bread (there’s an inside joke here), green bean casserole, turkey, and wine.

That Thanksgiving I had a migraine. While the rest of the family visited and played games, I took my netbook and hid in a dark, quiet room, and started writing (I was hiding because of the migraine, I’m not really that antisocial). I joined WordPress, created this blog, and wrote my first two mediocre posts; one as a brief introduction, the other as a letter of thanks to my friends and family.

Thanksgiving 2010 was spent with my family (4 siblings, 2 nieces, 5 cousins, Mom, Aunt and Uncle, Grandparents, and various boyfriends and girlfriends of cousins and siblings. It was the first time in several years that myself, my 4 siblings, and the 5 cousins had been all together in many years, and it was very nice. [I originally had something witty that I was going to say about my family’s Thanksgiving traditions, but have since forgotten.]

To all of my family and friends, who supported me while I was in school. To Lisa, Michelle, and Keri for being the best team that I could ever hope for in our business simulation project. To my nieces for being my constant source of inspiration to finish school. To Kreg, for always prodding me in the right way to keep me motivated to work toward my dream. To my D&D group, for working around my schedule so that I can be part of the once-per-month drinking and dragons session. To each of you – I am eternally grateful.

The main focus in my life in the fall of 2010 was finishing my bachelor’s degree. To me it was an important step to move my career forward as well as a very important personal goal. While I was mostly doing it for me, I also knew that it was important to my family.

I had no idea how important until my surprise graduation party and later reading something my brother wrote in his blog. I still tear up when thinking about both the party, my brother’s kind words, and how much the support of my friends meant during that time.

Resolutions for Twenty Eleven

Oh yes, it is that time of year again. I might have forgotten if it had not been for Stargrace sharing some of her resolutions.

Last year I made three resolutions: To take care of myself, complete my bachelor’s degree, and work on my blog every day. I did complete my degree, but I am disappointed in how I did with the others. There were weeks when I didn’t even log in to WordPress, and months where I didn’t post anything. I may have been a little better at making “me” time while I was in school, but I was also worse at taking care of my health. I gained about twenty pounds.

I do expect and hope that it will be easier this year, since being done with school gives me so much more free time. This year I’m going to focus on the things I missed and neglected while in school.

In 2011 I plan to:

  1. Spend more time with Hubby
  2. Spend more time with family and friends
  3. Give myself more “me time” – Painting, Reading, Walking, or whatever else I want to do
  4. Study for PMP certification, but at my own pace.
  5. Take better care of myself and Hubby.
  6. Participate in the Post a Week challenge

Perhaps when I’m lacking inspiration for my at-least-weekly posts, I’ll share my progress.

Surprise!

I am done with school. For now anyway. I’ve completed my bachelor’s degree and my diploma will arrive sometime next month.

I finished school on the Friday before Christmas. The next week I was busy with Christmas shopping (I’d hardly started while in school). Hubby and I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at his parents’ house. He spent most of the time curled up on the couch with a nasty cold, while I visited the family and helped his mom make Beef Wellington (yum!).

On Sunday, Hubby was too sick to join me for my Dad’s Christmas party. He really wanted to go, but I made him stay home and rest. I had a great day helping prepare dinner, putting together puzzles with one of my nieces and one of my brothers, decorating the tree, and opening gifts.

After dinner Dad invited me up to his in-laws’ place; he needed to pick up a couple of things and thought I’d enjoy meeting them. We visited for about half an hour and just when I was starting to think that I should really head home soon, Dad received a text. It was his wife wondering why we’d been gone so long. (To make sure I’m not giving the wrong impression: I really like Dad’s wife, but she’s not my step-mom. She is more like Dad’s life partner that is also becoming my friend. Since I don’t use names, I’ll just call her Dad’s Wife.)

When we got back to Dad’s place, the house was dark and the door was locked. Both of which are unusual. Someone unlocked the door from inside, and I stepped in as the lights came on and everyone shouted “Surprise!” and started blowing on noise makers.

The room was decorated in my school’s colors (red and gold/black) with streamers and balloons that said Congratulations, Amanda, and 2010. My younger niece came over and covered my eyes. My sister slid something over my arms while Dad’s Wife messed with my hair. When my niece uncovered my eyes, I saw a black tassel hanging to one side off of what I was sure was a graduation cap (even though I couldn’t see myself) and looked down to find myself wearing a bright red gown.

I looked around the room and saw that all of my immediate family was there; my Dad, my sister and nieces, all of my brothers, even Mom.

I was shocked. I’d been under the impression for a long time that Dad didn’t really care that I was in school and maybe even disapproved. On top of that, Mom and Dad have an extreme dislike for each other. The last time I recall seeing them in the same room was at my wedding reception eight years ago.

I had no idea what to say or do. I am not used to being the center of attention. When I’d had a moment to take it all in, my sister disappeared for a moment and some music started (Pomp and Circumstance, the traditional music that is played at graduation ceremonies).

Dad took my arm and walked with me into the living room, and then someone told me to turn my tassel to the other side. One of my brothers or nieces asked me for a speech.  I had no idea what to say, and was already on the verge of tears.

I said something like “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was born” (a joke for my brothers). I went on to say “and my mommy and daddy raised me right. And I went off to school, but had no idea what I wanted to be so I dropped out. Then I found what I wanted to be and so I went back, and I worked hard, and I finished. And thank you all for being so patient with me.”

I’m pretty sure I really did sound that dumb.

The party was great. Mom made an amazing cake and gave me a beautiful frame to put my diploma in. Dad gave me a beautiful pearl bracelet and necklace. (I was in shock again. My dad doesn’t do big gifts like that.)

Everyone visited and had a great time. Mom and Dad even had some polite and very comfortable conversation.

I regret not having the presence of mind, while I had my whole family in one place, to ask for a family picture. Perhaps in the spring when my niece graduates from high school I’ll get another opportunity.

The reality of being done is just starting to hit me.

Even at the party, it seemed unreal. Then this past week I received an invitation from Capella to attend commencement, and the reality of being done and not being able to actually attend commencement sunk in.

I am grateful to my family in so many ways for the party that they threw me and their support over the past five years. I don’t know how I can ever express it, but I’ll definitely try.

Now to enjoy some of my new found free time.

Would you like one lump, or two?

I haven’t made time to write since last Sunday. So, to keep myself in the habit (and help me sleep better), I’ve decided to share this (relatively unedited train of thought) post. Think of it as the two of us sitting down over tea, and me monopolizing the conversation.

This last week flew by. Work was chaotic (in a verging on maddening yet semi-controlled sort of way), so much that I postponed a day off just so I could take that day knowing that I wasn’t perpetuating my backlog of work.

I mentioned recently that writing here has been helping me sleep better. This past week echoed that reality. I’ve gone back to waking up in the middle of the night thinking about everything and nothing, and having some really strange dreams. I’m sure it is fueled by my excitement for PAX (and then graduation), my eagerness to have a change in my career, and my nervousness about making it happen.

PAX is less than twelve days away now! I’m still fretting about being prepared. My hubby and a couple of our friends have planned what they’re going to wear each day. And they’re guys. I’m trying to get on that bandwagon, but I only have one shirt planned. For the other two, I’ll probably just pick whatever seems appropriate the day before.

I’ve started planning which panels to attend. I’d like to go to all of them, and then have another 3 or 4 days to wander and gawk over/play with all of the games and toys that will be there. The reality is that I’ll probably do a couple of career focused (not fanboy focused) panels per day, and spend the rest of the time exploring the glory that is PAX. Oh, and drinking caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine.

I did decide to bring “introduction cards” (business cards, but for me – not for any business), because a little help to my networking skills couldn’t hurt. I haven’t decided what to put on them yet though. That may be my next task.

Well, that and completing two weeks worth of school work in the next 10 days.

~ Amanda

A few PAX related links

Still looking for that reset button.

Today is already getting better.

Earlier today I tweeted about my day being off to a bad start. It was. I woke up feeling hung over and aching all over (even though last night I only drank water). I had one co-worker upset about a change request I’d sent them after testing an update to one of our internal systems. I’m sure I annoyed the heck out of another with a few emails for little changes on a different project (fortunately, the second co-worker didn’t complain).

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If only there were more time for games.

I get to play EQ2 tonight! I know it is a silly thing to be so excited about. Let me explain.

I work full time; Often forty hours per week, but just as often it is a bit more. I am also taking six credits per quarter at Capella University. It is all online, but it is just as time consuming as going to a brick and mortar school.

While school is in session, I usually have little time for a social life, or a gamer life.

On week days I get up at 6:30, wake the hubby, get ready for work, wake the hubby (yes, again!), then carpool to work with hubby. We work 8ish to 5ish, then go home. I go to the store if needed then cook dinner, and then finally start on homework (by this time it is normally at least 7:00).

The first half of the week is harder to manage than the second half. Since the initial discussion posting(s) of the school week are due on Wednesdays, most reading and research must be done by then as well. In the second half of the week I have to read all posts on the class discussion board, post a few responses, and write an essay or two. It’s a lot, but the second half of the week includes the weekend so it’s normally not a problem.

But, it does mean that I generally don’t have much of a social life and don’t get the time to play games the way I’d like to. Now that I think about it, it has been more than a month since I’ve done an actual quest. So sad.

On the bright side, crafting goes OK with reading and I have a friend who gives me materials, so my trade skill level in EQ2 is well above my actual level.

Added later: I started writing this post on my way to work today (on my phone via the handy little WordPress for Android app). This afternoon my hubby wasn’t feeling well and left early so I took the bus home, and I continued writing while on the bus. When I got home (slightly later than usual) I scrounged through the pantry and figured out what was for dinner and cooked. By the time I was done it was 7:00 and my friend that I quest with was due to be logging out in an hour.

So yet again, no questing. At least I got to finish the evil crafting quest in Sinking Sands. (If I’m ever so lucky to have Domino reading this, I do mean evil in a good way. It was quite enjoyable.)

Resolutions

Every year on January first it is tradition to make a New Years Resolution – A promise to yourself that you will change an old habit or create a new habit in the next year. I’ve often wondered if this is just a tradition in the US or if it is shared in other cultures around the world… But, no, that is not the point of this post.

Resolutions!

Normally, I make a well intentioned promise to myself such as “I am going to lose 30 pounds by mid year and keep it off until the end of the year”, “I am going to work out every day”, or “I am going to keep my house spotless”.

Normally, I fail.

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Costco. Thanksgiving week. Sigh.

Online education has its benefits and drawbacks. The school that I am going to (Capella University) has standardized 10 week quarters. Standard. Whether or not a holiday falls in the middle of the quarter.

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Thank you.

Last weekend, my husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving with my extended family on my Mom’s side. Today I am celebrating Thanksgiving with my in-laws.

Each year on Thanksgiving, in addition to thanking the pilgrims for my four day weekend every November, I also stop to reflect (more…)