Affecting Change

This is going to be a super quick post, as I’m in the middle of writing a policy analysis paper that’s due tomorrow.  But, I wanted to get this thought down while it’s still bouncing around my head (and so I can come back to it later).

Over the past month or so, I’ve started to feel my focus, and my excitement towards my program, shifting.  While I LOVE media literacy (and let’s face it, it’s a burning passion), I’m not totally confident that that’s where I’m supposed to end up.  One of the whole reasons I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. was to have an effect on schooling.  Yeah yeah, big lofty goal, I know.  But for real, Marquette’s motto, Be the Change, has stuck with me.  I don’t know if I can affect change through media literacy.  Now policy, on the other hand, is a big possibility.

Admittedly, a lot of my thinking started to change due to the encouragement of my policy professor.  Although I’ve never taken a Political Science course in my life, I’m apparently doing fairly well.  Despite how lost I sometimes feel, or how confusing politics is, I’m starting to feel myself shift in that direction.  I mean, have you seen the politicians we have?  Surely there are other options.  With some knowledge, I could do better than them, right?  And not only that, but I could affect change through policy.  Hopefully, I could better than some of those yahoos before me.

However, I don’t really know much about the direction this takes me.  But, our department chair brought this up to me last week as a possible direction, particularly since I don’t have the teaching experience that would land me a job in a Teacher Ed program.  With registration coming up for next semester, this is something I think I need to keep chewing on.

Granted, I need to make it through statistics first.  :/  But that’s a blog for a different day.

 

Categories: Academia, Education, Politics | Leave a comment

Cheese Fiends

I don’t know if it’s from six years of living in Wisconsin, but DH and I are CHEESE OBSESSED.  Seriously, we spend up to $20 a week on cheese.  It’s slightly ridiculous.

However, one of the upsides of loving cheese is our recent willingness to branch out a bit and try new things.  I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the cheeses we’ve tried…mostly so I can remember what I’ve liked, and disliked about them.

 

Brie- This classic favorite makes a frequent appearance in our house.  As much as we try to break away from it and try new things, it ends up in my fridge at least once a month.  Brie is a versatile mild cheese.  If left out, you can cut through the edible rind and spread it on a cracker.  Or, you can throw it into crepes, or a puff pastry, and bake it.  Often paired with apples and white wine, any variety of Brie is welcome in my kitchen.

 

Camembert- This cheese is like the younger, less popular version of its sister, Brie.  She’s just as cool, except she keeps it hidden.  It spreads just as easily on a cracker.  The main thing that makes it different from Brie is that its taste is less variable than Brie.  Some Bries will taste differently depending on if it’s American, French, or another variety, while Camembert is all French.  Also, Camembert is sold in a complete round, while Brie is often sold in wedges.  Regardless, you can’t go wrong with this one.

 

Fontina- We recently tried this Italian white cheese.  It’s a semi-hard cheese that comes wrapped either in a solid, or wax rind (so, don’t eat the rind!).  After trying it the first time, I likened it to a blend between a sharp cheddar and provolone.  It has a little bit of a bite to it, so if you don’t like sharp cheeses, this one may not be for you.  However, pairing it with a wheat cracker tends to take the edge off, just a bit.

 

 

Goat Cheese- Also known as “Chevre,” goat cheese is one area where we recently branched out.  It’s a little bitter for my taste, although it’s still pretty good.  It’s a soft, spreadable cheese, that can be a wee bit grainy at times.  Wheat crackers balance this one out a bit.  A word of warning though: its flavor is quite variable depending on what country it comes from.  For the Chevre neophyte, I would recommend picking up Montchevre.  It’s relatively easy to find, and allows one to easily transition into the world of goat cheese.

 

It's so Gouda...

 

Smoked Gouda- Quickly becoming one of my favorites, Smoked Gouda is one of those cheeses that you can eat alone, or pair it perfectly with a wheat/whole grain cracker.  It’s a semi-hard cheese with an edible rind.  It’s very mild, creamy, and delicious.  Watch out–this one usually disappears quickly in our house.


 

There are many other exciting cheeses out there.  We have several in our fridge at the moment that I was sent home with last week.  One of the pluses of liking cheese is the tendency for people to send leftovers from department gatherings home with you…although you may not know what it is!  While I’m getting better at guessing what I’m eating, I know that I have yet to really expand my cheese repertoire.  But, I can guarantee my tummy is looking forward to it!

Categories: Foodstuff | Leave a comment

Just When You Need it the Most

I love it how there are times in life when I’m really struggling, and God will step in to remind me that in the end, everything will be alright.

I’ve had a lot of little moments like that in the past week.  Between everything going crazy with the insurance, school midterms, and academic obligations seeming to seep into every aspect of spare time I thought I had, I’ve had gentle reminders that I’m on the right path.

Last week was the first time I got to sub in a classroom at Community.  Although it was in Junior Kindergarten, I think my summer experience really tamed me in regards to my impatience with that age group.  Well, that, and the fact that they’ve got a REALLY great group of youngin’s this year.  The other classroom teacher remarked that this is probably the most “emotionally mature” group of kids they’ve had in several years.  It’s true.  I loved getting to spend that afternoon there.  One of the best parts was that there were a couple of kids there from camp, so I got to see some of my kiddos.  The other best part was when I was nearly run over by one of my (now) 3rd graders when she blind-sided me with a hug.  It was a great reminder that the work I’m doing now will hopefully benefit kids who don’t get to enjoy the kind of environment that I got to teach/sub in.

Another reminder arrived this morning.  I’m in a Public Policy Analysis class this semester, and I’ve often felt like I’m barely surviving.  It’s very economics heavy, and between only having one micro and one macroecon class, and NO political science classes, there are many times where I’m just downright lost.  After being told I had to restart the semester project, due to choosing too complex of a policy to analyze, I was practically ready to give up.  Policy clearly wasn’t my forte.

Clearly over-dramatized, but correct to an extent.

I spent the last several weeks tackling No Child Left Behind at the suggestion of my professor.  He felt like it was less complex than my other project (Turner v. Clayton), which I disagreed with, but I complied because I did recognize the issues attached to tackling an unresolved piece of legislation, opposed to one already in place.  Although I had to start from scratch, and was technically two weeks of research behind everyone else in the class, I managed to find an angle worth pursuing, and churn out a 10 page analysis in time.  I’d been worried because some people got feedback on the day we turned it in (last Monday).  Usually, the longer it takes the professor to grade (typically due to errors), the longer it takes him/her to send something back.  So, a week later, I was worried. Then, this morning, I get this:

This is a remarkable piece of work.  We are very proud of you.  You are probably the first student in the class to have really nailed it.

Say what??  Now THAT is the kind of ego boost I needed, especially since the midterm is tomorrow.  I feel like the bar has been raised, and now I’m challenged to do just as well on the midterm as I did on that last paper.

I know my first semester is supposed to be a struggle.  Like with everything in life, there are going to be ups and downs.  I’m just grateful that I’ve been reminded that occasionally, hard work does pay off.  In the end, the struggle will be worth it, and hopefully I’ll be in a position to put out research that will actually make a difference in someone’s life, other than my own.

Categories: Academia, Children, Education, Faith, Politics, Teaching | Leave a comment

It’s Always All At Once

The statement, “when it rains, it pours” seems to be applicable lately.  Unfortunately, it’s in regard to my health, and at this point, I don’t know what to do.

Last March I jacked up my shoulder and neck.  I went to a chiropractor to fix it.  It was feeling pretty good until I went back to school, and was carrying around both a backpack, and a big bag all the time.  When I had it checked out again last week, the doctor decided that I need to undergo several weeks of physical therapy to help strenghen that area and prevent re-injury (which she concluded will be likely to happen, no matter what).  To make matters worse, I was told I really should purchase a wheeled bag, as it would help with the neck/shoulder issues.  As if I weren’t already a complete dork, I now have this to contend with on campus.  People joke that they won’t walk with me any more…

Then, while I was at the eye-doctor this past Saturday, she found a “freckle” behind my retina.  Like most “freckles” it needs to be monitored so that on the outside chance it turns into cancer, something can be done sooner, rather than later.  However, the only way to do that is through getting pictures taken at a special office…which my insurance may or may not pay for.  Interestingly enough, the eye doctor said that if my insurance *won’t* cover it, not to worry about the photos, and they’ll take them later in life.  So, she threw in the argument that I might get cancer or might go blind some day because of this, but that I don’t need to worry about it right now if insurance won’t pay.  Gee, thanks.  How reassuring.

But the real icing on the cake was Monday, when I found out that Aetna somehow dropped my insurance in September, as they don’t have record of me being an enrolled student, despite the fact there’s record of the school paying for my insurance, and that they let me sign up for additional insurance in August.  So, right now I’m waiting for them to check with the school that I am, in fact, a student, so they can authorize me again.

For real, it’s been one of those weeks where I feel like I can’t catch a break.  I’m not sure what to do about the eye thing, particularly since Aetna isn’t paying ANYTHING right now.  Obviously my insurance will get worked out, but I’d rather not deal with issues later on because they didn’t pay originally.  By Saturday afternoon I was having a “why me?” pity party.  I know life can be worse.  I know I should be grateful that it isn’t.  But I really just wish that my body would stop working against me.

Categories: Body Issues, Daily Life | 2 Comments

Wishing for Something Else

There have been a lot of days lately where I have questioned what in the world I am doing.

I was warned by several people that these times would happen.  The crushing weight of self-doubt that would make you wonder why you didn’t just stick with whatever you were doing before.  Occasionally wishing that you still were.  And praying that you will make it through because the idea of failure is always lurking.

I never expected to go through this so early.  Or so often.  I waver back on forth (on pretty much a weekly basis) on being happy with what I’m doing.  While this week I’m more on the questioning my sanity end, I know that by next week I’ll probably swing back to the happy I’m working on my Ph.D. end.

I get called several times a week to sub.  Every time I have to say no, I just feel so sad.  I made a comment to a colleague yesterday that I think I need to go spend some time with the little kids because they usually make me feel better.  That, and they might help validate my life choice.  Of course, I got a phone call to sub about an hour later.

While I get a lot of comments about how I would be a good elementary teacher, the idea that I might help make the field better is what keeps me going.  I know that in order to make it to the research part I need to make it through some of the basics (like icky statistics).  But in the meantime I find myself wishing for something different.  At the very least, a little less self-doubt, and a little more self-confidence.  Better grades on my statistics tests would help.

I know I am in the place I am supposed to be.  I know that God placed me here for a reason.  I just wish I could find a little bit of serenity along the way.

Categories: Academia, Education, Faith, Teaching | Leave a comment

Living Every Teenage Girl’s Nightmare

I think almost every woman at some point (but most likely during their teenage years) experienced the same fear: that one day, she would turn into her mother.  If they don’t, they’re either a freak an angel from God, or just deluding themselves.  I, ladies and gentlemen, am living that teenage nightmare.

I think it’s one of those things where my awareness of it grew slowly.  Around my Senior year of college, I started noticing some strong traits pop into my daily life.  As I became a full-fledged adult, with a husband and a home, the signs are there too strongly to ignore.  In many ways, I have become my mother.

Luckily, many of my memories of growing up with my Mom are good ones.  She’s quirky, funny, and occasionally strong-willed (yes, this is code for stubborn).  Some of the strongest traits I think of when I think about my Mom are:

*She talks to animals–any animal.
*She leaves stuff around the house, and SWEARS that she was coming back to get it…eventually.
*She’ll fish almost anything out of the garbage because it is recyclable.
*She was suspiciously willing to watch a kid’s movie much more readily than any adult movie.
*She would bounce around the house.
*She would randomly bust out in song (usually while bouncing around the house).
*She had a propensity for being snuggly, until it annoyed you.
*She would pour herself the tiniest glass of milk…and still not finish it.

The list could go on.  And just how many of these traits do I share with my mother??  ALL of them.  Sigh.  At least I got the fun traits, right?

Categories: Family, Insights, Married Life | 2 Comments

It’s Not Always 50/50

Growing up in a doubly-divorced household, you get plenty of opportunities to view what to do right (and wrong) in a relationship.  I think one of the best pearls of wisdom I acquired was that in a relationship, it’s not always 50/50.

While you don’t always want a gross imbalance (as this tends to lead to one–or more–divorce(s)), it is unrealistic to expect that each person will always pull their equal share.  Someone will have extra projects to work on, or someone may get sick.  Or in our current case, one person may have two Ph.D. classes, and the other person may have four.  It just wouldn’t be good to expect the person with the heavier load to have to do all that they normally do at home.

Thank God I married someone who realizes that.

Now, we do our share of bickering over who is going to do the dishes…for possibly the third day in a row…or about who is leaving more clutter around the house (usually me).  But, when push comes to shove, it’s nice to know that the other person has your back.  Not to mention, it’s nice to know that we will eventually be raising children in a household where it’s clear that there are no gender-defined roles.  Men can make dinner, do the dishes, or vacuum the house, just as much as women.  And women can take out the garbage, fix something that’s broken, or nail things into a wall, just as much as men.

I just wish I could get a picture of my husband in my apron.  That will be a great day.  😀

Categories: Education, Family, Insights, Married Life | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Apparently, "Boring" is the way to go in Love

Last night I read an interesting (albeit, somewhat long) article from 2000 about how the first two years of someone’s marriage predicts whether or not their marriage will last.  For those who don’t want to read it, I’ll summarize it for you.  It basically describes how nearly all married relationships break down into one of four categories: romantic love, practical love, disenchanted love, and passionate love (these are my names for the categories, not theirs.  Article = A fine romance, mixed blessings, disaffected lovers, and disengaging duo.). 

In romantic love, the relationship during the first two years is loving, but not overly passionate.  It may get boring, but it can withstand the test of time.  In practical love, there may be a lot of passion at the outset, but it may fade away until the couple basically stays together for logical reason…this doesn’t necessarily mean they are unhappy, however.  For disenchanted lovers, they start with a passionate, fiery romance that fades into disenchantment with one another.  These types of relationships typically end in divorce at some point after the two year mark.  Lastly, there’s what I like to call passionate love.  These people are either passionately loving each other, or hating each other.  (Know anyone who’s been in a relationship like this, cuz I do!)  If these people are crazy enough to get married, their relationship usually doesn’t see its second anniversary.

Now, my favorite part of the Psychology Today article is the quiz.  I mean, come on, who doesn’t love taking magazine quizzes?  It starts on page 3 of the article mentioned in the first paragraph, for those who are curious.

So, how do M and I rank?  Well, apparently we have a nice, stable relationship.  While we may be boring (and let me assure you, we are), our relationship should last, according to the quiz.  Now, how reliable is this research?  I really don’t know.  It came from a researcher at the University of Texas, Austin, which I hear is a fairly decent research institution.  Granted, not all research matches reality.  However, I did find quite a bit of truth in the quiz’s assessment of my DH’s and my relationship.

For example, we’ve never been terribly passionate, even when we were hormonal teenagers–and I’m not just saying this because I know my ILs read this blog.  We were friends long before we were a “couple,” so I think by that very nature we lack a lot of the fiery romance that’s written about in books and pop songs.  But, we’re darn good companions to each other.  We may be boring to other people (and even occasionally to ourselves), but we know how to be friends, and that’s an important key to any relationship.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re not married yet, don’t envision a wildly ardent romance…sometimes, a calm, if not somewhat uneventful relationship is the way to go.

Categories: Insights, Married Life | Leave a comment

Wacky Dreams

I’ve always been fascinated by dreams.  I just think it is so neat, the way your brain tries to work through things while you’re sleeping.  However, when my brain and subconscious are working through a lot, I start having some really vivid dreams.

I’ve pulled a couple of dream interpretations, just because I always find them amusing.  Here are the highlights from the last two nights:

Pregnancy Test
To dream that you are taking a pregnancy test indicates that you are entering a new phase in your life (a new job, relationship, etc.) You feel that you are being put to the test as to whether you are prepared or ready for these changes. Alternatively, this dream may be literal in meaning and address your anxieties/fears of getting pregnant.
Boss
To see your boss in your dream represents the bossy or authoritative side of your own personality. Your boss may reveal self-confidence and the assertive aspect of yourself.

Airplane Crash
To dream that a plane crashes signifies that you have set overly high and unrealistic goals for yourself. You are in danger of having those goals come crashing down. Alternatively, the crashing airplane represents your lack of confidence, self-defeating attitude and self-doubt. You do not believe in your own ability to achieve those goals. Loss of power and uncertainty in achieving your goals are also signified.

Hmmm, anyone want to take a guess as to why I’m having crazy dreams lately?  🙂  Anyone else having wacky dreams?

Categories: Daily Life, Education, Insights | 2 Comments

It’s That Time of Year, Again…

Sorry, this is gonna be a lame blog, as my brain is still on vacation mode.   Anyways, I can’t believe school starts in two weeks!  Wow, where did the summer go?  I felt like I just wrapped up the school year, and here it comes again.

I feel torn about this upcoming school year, in a lot of ways.  I keep having “school dreams” where I’m back at Community School.  Although I’ll be subbing there this year, I’ll have to keep it to an absolute minimum, as classes will keep me pretty occupied.  But I already miss it.  I miss the kids.  I miss the teachers.  I miss the feeling of setting up the classroom, and the optimism that the new school year brings.  I also miss working with a kid, and the extreme sense of accomplishment I have when the concept finally *clicks*.  I tutored this summer (and might continue this school year, if she needs it), but it’s not the same as teaching.

But, I do have my own schooling to look forward to, right?  I’ve had some good news about the upcoming year: there’s a new advisor for my program, and she’s pretty awesome.  Also, the prof. who teaches the really hard class I’ll have to take is on sabbatical this year, so I’ll be in year 2 when I take her class (rumor has it that she’ll flunk you on your first paper, just to prove to you that you’re not that smart).  Plus, I do get a cubicle in the Grad Student office, so I’ll have a quiet place to go when I want to hang out on campus. 

I think I’m just nervous.  A Ph.D. is such a long commitment.  I mean, I’ll still be in school when I turn 30!  My parents were done having kids and working towards a divorce at that age (not that I want to follow in those footsteps, but yikes–30!).

Right now, I think I need to focus on enjoying the little freedom I have left.  Perhaps some extensive cooking/baking is in order.  🙂

Categories: Education, Teaching | Leave a comment