Monday, October 22, 2012

A Day in the Life

I've seen so many people do "Day in the Life" posts.  I decided I wanted to start doing them during every life change, because I'm sure I will never remember these hectic grad school days if I don't document them.  So here is a typical Monday in my life.

5:30 AM - My alarm rudely awakens me.  I hit snooze at least 3 times.

6:00 AM - Roll out of bed and hit the shower.  Get dressed, do my make-up, dry and style my hair, and eat toast with peanut butter and honey for breakfast.  Possibly drink a cup of coffee if I feel I need it.

6:55 AM - Grab my class bag, my therapy bag, my lunch box, and any other random therapy tools I need (last Monday I was carrying around a Bernstein Bears game all day.  I felt cool.) and head out the door.

7:00 AM - I'm headed down the highway with Pandora blaring, and I'm singing along.  It is a relatively peaceful ride most days, unless I get stuck behind a school bus, or a bajillion semi trucks on the freeway cut me off, trying to pass other semi trucks.  Come to think of it, it is rarely a peaceful drive!

8:00 AM - Pull into the elementary school parking lot.  Head inside, trek up to the 3rd floor where the speech room is, and get all of my materials for the day ready.

8:40 AM - Head back down a flight of stairs to the computer room, which is ironically, absent of any computers.  It is not set up yet as a computer lab, so we are using it as the speech room until we get kicked out.

8:45 AM - Head out and get my first articulation group of kids.  There are three students in this group, and we are working on "th" and "s" sounds.  This group is fun, as  most of these students are working on their sounds in structured conversation.  This means we get to play fun games while they work on their sounds, like Hedbanz, Would You Rather..., and 20 Questions.  As we play the games, I give feedback about their sounds, and keep track of every correct or incorrect production.

9:15 AM - I get a break!  I usually work on lesson planning during this time.  I wish I didn't have a break, and was doing therapy at this time, because it would mean more hours for me.  I need 400 before I can graduate.  But the extra planning time is nice, too.

9:45 AM - Go out and find the 3 girls in my language group.  They are all working on different skills like vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing, and following directions.  That makes planning for this group very challenging.  Last week we read a book about libraries, and answered a bunch of questions about the book.  Sounds boring, but the girls seemed to like it, and were very engaged.  They are such a great group!

10:15 AM - Send the language group back to their classroom, and head to the resource room where I'll do my last therapy sessions of the morning.  My first session there is with an awesome little guy who is working on a bunch of different articulation goals.  For example, last week he was working on his "k,g,f, and v" sounds in sentences.  So we looked at a Halloween I Spy book, and searched for words containing his targeted sounds.  Then he would use the words in sentences.  He LOVED this activity, so the whole session was great.

10:45 AM - Last session of the morning!  By this time, I'm usually looking at my watch and wondering how the morning flew by so quickly!  My last session is with a little girl who is also working on a bunch of articulation goals (I somehow got matched with a bunch of artic groups this semester.  Not my favorite, but at least I'm getting a ton of experience in that area!  My area of interest right now if Autism, so hopefully down the road I will get more experience with that).  Last Monday, the student and I played the Bernstein Bears game I mentioned before.  She was working on multi-syllabic words, so she would spin the game spinner, it would land on a picture, and she'd have to tell me a story based on what was happening in the pictures.  We focused on multi-syllabics while she did this.  This was another fun activity that she loved!  She is so sweet, and so happy.  So I guess she is easy to please!

11:15 AM - Gather up all of my materials, and head back to the speech room to put everything away, copy my data for the day and turn it in, and chat with my supervisor and a classmate, who is also at this placement with me, about how the morning went.

11:45 AM - Jump back in the car, and make the 20 minute drive to campus, all while listening to Pandora and inhaling a quick lunch (usually a sandwich on wheat bread, some fruit, cheese, and maybe something else thrown in there, and a Diet Coke).

12:05 PM - Arrive at the parking garage at the Polsky Building, where the speech clinic is.  On good days, I find a parking spot without having to circle around the garage more than once, but it is usually on the very end of one of the last rows.  Noon is a high-traffic time on campus.  Most days I have to circle around a few times, waiting for someone to leave for lunch so I can take their spot.

12:15 PM - Arrive on the first floor of the Polsky Building and use my ID card to enter the speech clinic.  I usually spend a few minutes in the materials room, looking for inspiration or ideas for therapy the following week, and returning materials I used that morning.  Then I usually head to the grad room for a few moments (that's kind of like our study hall, I guess) and look through my lesson plans for my afternoon clients, and gather any materials I need.

12:30 PM - Enter the Telepractice Lab where my 1:00 session is held.  We use a program similar to Skype to do therapy through the internet, so the client does not even have to leave his home.  Anyway, I'm with two other ladies for this therapy session, so we spend about 20 minutes before our session just chatting and shooting the breeze, and the last 10 minutes preparing for the session.  What can I say?  We are speech ladies, and we are all very verbal and like to talk!

1:00 PM - The therapy session begins, and we swap the headphones/microphone back and fourth as we each take a turn leading the session.  We each get to lead for about 20 minutes, since it's an hour-long session.  This client is the cutest little boy in the world, and has the most supportive, awesome mom in the world, so this session is always a joy!

2:00 PM - We all chat with my supervisor about the session, and divvy up the lesson planning assignments for the following week.

2:30 PM - I begin preparing for my final session of the day, one I co-lead with one of my classmates (one of the same girls from the 1:00 session).  We usually have enough time to take a quick bathroom run, (barely, though. ha!)  grab the next client's chart, prepare our materials and our game plan for the day, and take a deep breath and pray that the session goes off without a hitch! (This is our most difficult session for various reasons.  I'll just leave it at that!)

3:15 PM - My classmate and I are hovering beside the clinic entrance waiting for our client since this is when the session is supposed to start. But normally because of the drive, traffic, and just getting out of school, we are waiting there until...

3:30 PM - Our client and his family arrive.  We usher him into the therapy room, and on a good day, we get him in there without any problems.  Most days we lead him through a bunch of engaging therapy activities, trying to be as animated as we can, and involving play-based therapy as much as possible.  This usually involves things like playing with the old-school Fisher Price car garage to work on prepositions, or a box full of wind-up toys to work on critical elements, or maybe a follow-the-directions coloring activity, or a fun book to work on sequencing.  It really is fun to plan for, and usually the client loves it too.  Unfortunately, the past few weeks we've been working on assessments instead of therapy, so it hasn't been quite so fun!  (This client doesn't think so either!) But luckily that will be over soon!  I can't wait to get back into therapy with him (although I'm NOT looking forward to writing the diagnostic report/treatment plan when testing is complete!)

4:15 PM - We lead the client out of the therapy room, and to the observation room where his family, our supervisor, and an undergrad student who has been matched up with this client for a case study, have all been watching our session through a 2-way mirror.  (And no, that's not nerve-wracking at all.  #sarcasmfont).  We chat quickly, and lead everybody out through the waiting room.    

4:20 PM - Chat with our supervisor about the session.  Then quickly gather our 18-million toys, tools, folders, papers, books, etc, because there is another session in our room at 4:30.  Usually my classmate and I head to the materials room to regroup and discuss next week's planning.  We went to the grad room once, but then got locked in, and now we're terrified to be in there anytime close to 5:00, which is when the grad room closes.  Anyway, our brains are both completely shot by this time, and we end up saying things like, "Do you want to....."  "Next week should we....."  And other unfinished, trailed-off sentences like that because seriously, our brains are beyond DONE for the day.  Somehow we throw together some plans, and head out like zombies to the elevator, then parking garage, then our cars.

4:45 PM - Finally I am heading home!  I crank up my Carrie Underwood Pandora station one more time, but have no energy left to sing.  Traffic in Akron is usually not great, but also not horrible at this time, and once I'm on the freeway, I can just cruise-control it most of the way home.  Unless, again, semis cut me off left and right.  Grrr.  This is a huge pet peeve.  God wants to work on my patience, I think.

5:30 PM -  I pull into my glorious driveway!  The pumpkins and mums on my porch welcome me as I stumble up the porch with my bags and therapy tools that seem to have multiplied by 10 since the morning when they were all nicely and neatly organized and put away.

5:35-8:10 PM - This time is spent differently every week, but it usually involves:

  • Making a quick and easy dinner, or going out to eat like we did last week.
  • Packing a lunch for Tuesday
  • Completing any homework that needs to be finished before Tuesday, which is a full day of classes.
  • Writing and submitting my lesson plans for my elementary school for the following week, because my supervisor likes to get our plans a week ahead of time.
  • Picking out my outfit for Tuesday
  • Printing out power points for Tuesday's lectures and snapping them in my binder
  • Maybe a second cup of coffee to spur me on
  • Writing my SOAP note(s), which are basically a summary of the sessions at Akron's clinic for the day.
  • Hopefully loading/unloading/washing the dishes and cleaning the litter box.  But let's be real: this doesn't happen 100% of the time. 
8:10 PM - Throw on some comfortable pajamas, grab a fleece blanket, and curl up beside Luke on the couch while we watch How I Met Your Mother.  We start it a few minutes late so we can DVR it and fast-forward through the commercials.  Yeah, we are those people. Sometimes JC is there too (on those nights I do not have my pajamas on yet. haha).  Usually one or both of the cats jumps up to cuddle with us, because we are their favorite beds, I think.  I live for this part of the day.  

8:30 PM - Go back to working on my to-do for tomorrow, listed above.  I have yet to have a Monday night where I'm done before 10:30 or 11. 

11:00 PM - Jump in bed, and know that I have just survived the craziest day of the week.  It's all downhill from here.  Fall asleep before my head hits the pillow.

I am so glad Mondays are my most hectic days!  Actually, my week is set up so each day is a little easier than the last: Tuesdays I have classes from 8:30 - 5:40, Wednesdays I just have therapy in the morning,and have the afternoon off! ...And Thursdays I have classes from 7:45 - 3:15, but those tend to be easier days because everyone is in a good mood since it's our last day of classes for the week!  

And even though these days are CRAZY, I am so excited to say that I have just over a year-and-a-half left! If you count my 1 year of undergrad classes, which I took last year, I am halfway done with my 3 years of school!  It is flying by.  I am enjoying these days, but I have to say: I can't wait until life will resume normalcy again.  I can't wait to have a real job with regular hours, to get a full 7-8 hours of sleep at night, to stop accidentally skipping meals, and to have time to breathe!  ...Just keep swimming!

Friday, October 19, 2012

High Five for Friday

This week has been crazy.  In a nutshell it involved diagnostic reports, treatment plans, case studies, lesson plans, clinicals, classes, and homework.  Also, a tiny bit of eating and sleeping squeezed in there somewhere.  And one great night out with Luke and JC.

Since this week was insane, and I kind of feel like I'm losing my sanity as well, I thought it would be great to focus on the good things from this past week.


1. Spending a fall Saturday morning at home alone, sipping coffee and making breakfast while my Frank Sinatra Pandora station floats through the kitchen.  Then curling up in a blanket, and watching a few episodes of Parenthood, the best show ever.  Oh, and munching on candy corn and peanuts -- the best combination since chocolate and peanut butter.

(This picture is right-side-up on my computer, and when I upload it to blogger it's suddenly upside down.  Drives. Me. Crazy!  Oh well, you get the idea.

2. This little weirdo always hangs out on my lap when I have a rare moment to sit.  She's definitely sticking her tongue out at me.

 3. Autumn leaves.  I just wish they would stick around a little longer...

4. Knowing that after this week, I am officially more than halfway done with the semester.  I had my first gigantic school-related breakdown this weekend.  I was a mess.  Sobbing uncontrollably, just feeling completely overwhelmed and worried that I am not good enough, and that I can't handle the pressure and responsibility.  The good news is, I don't have to be good enough.  Praise God for that, because He is the strength in my weakness!  I had a meeting with my academic adviser on Tuesday and she said this to me, without me indicating at all that I had had a major freak out over the weekend: "Now I just want to warn you that almost every student I talk to has a major breakdown right around this point in the semester.  They have their breakdown, they get past it, and then it all gets easier and easier as you get closer and closer to graduating.  I also want to tell you that everyone always thinks they are alone in this, but I want you to know that it really is everyone.  And it does get easier."  I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that was exactly what I needed to hear.  After our meeting, I went down to the grad room and talked to a couple of people, and they were both talking about the fact that they had breakdowns over the weekend too!  They vocalized every one of my fears, and it was nice to know I'm not alone.  We all talked and encouraged one another, and I think we all felt much better afterward. The timing of those conversations may have been coincidence...but I think not.  And seriously...someone should do a psychological or sociological study on students in grad school for speech pathology.  The findings would be interesting, and probably terrifying.

5. It's the weekend!  And I have no plans whatsoever!  (Besides working on a research project, but I'm blissfully in denial about that right now).  I declare this weekend a time to REST and not feel guilty about it.

"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~Matthew 11:28   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Horror!

I had a traumatic experience tonight.  I went down to the basement to get a head start on laundry, since tomorrow is my laundry day.  I was getting ready to throw in a load, when I saw it: evidence that I was not alone in the basement.  

Are you freaked out yet?  Because I have never been so terrified in my life.  

...I will spare you the details, but basically I was sharing the basement with a mouse!  Or mice.  Hold me!

I screamed over and over and ran upstairs and had a breakdown.  Luke wasn't phased, so I called my dad, whom I thought would humor me a little more.  (When in doubt, call your dad).  Luckily he did, and spent about 10 minutes on the phone with me, talking me off the ledge.  This all happened about 40 minutes ago, and I still feel like there are mice crawling all over my skin.  

I think I may have discovered a new irrational fear.  This might trump my strange fear of frogs.  

Anyway, I think I've convinced Luke to set some traps and maybe even do some laundry, because let's be honest: I am NOT going down there until all evidence is gone!

Clearly, I am much too distressed to concentrate on homework!  So I decided to write a blog post instead (okay, that's an excuse.  I admit it).  After I finish this post, I think I'll take a shower in bleach, and then curl up in bed and watch the debate and try to forget the horrors that have unfolded before my eyes tonight.  I'm telling you, I am running through scenarios in  my head, trying to figure out how I could avoid doing laundry in the basement all winter.  Do you think it's too late too move back to the upstairs apartment?  


Now for some happy thoughts to help me cope with this traumatic situation.

Today I saw this in a bathroom stall at school.  I thought it was amazing:
...I think I just got called fat, though.  That part just now made sense to me.

This weekend, Luke and I attended a birthday party for his cousin's baby.  It was her first birthday!
 ...she loves Luke!

This happened...real men wear pink

I purchased these.  I am told (by the tag) that they are "cherry bomb" red.  I have yet to work up the courage to wear them, but the prospect looks good for church this Sunday...we shall see.

Luke and I fried a bunch of donuts for a fall fest at our local park.  Cute babies, apple cider, a bonfire, and hayride were also part of the evening, so basically it was a win in every way. 

And last night Luke, JC, and I went on a spontaneous trip out on the town.  We went shopping, and then to a late dinner at Texas Roadhouse, followed by a viewing of How I Met Your Mother.  It was perfection, and I said that since Mondays are so fundamentally crappy, they should all involve fun little outings like that one. 


Well, the debate has started without me, so I must sign off.  I will try to stay strong.  I will not let the paranoia rodents get to me!

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's Going To Be Perfect.

Hello, again!  I'm back for my weekly blog post. And guess what...I didn't have time to catch up on blogs last weekend like I normally do, so there are now hundreds of items in my Google Reader, and I feel so out of the loop!  We have a very special first birthday party to go to tonight for Luke's cousin, but after that I have completely reserved tonight for blog reading.  I can't wait to see what everyone is up to!

Many things kept me away from my computer last weekend, including a 5k through the neighborhood for my church.  I am being deceptive, in that I didn't actually run.  I simply took pictures of the runners.  The scenery was especially beautiful.

We also headed to Malone to watch Di (Luke's sister) kill it in her volleyball game.  Pun intended. 

Later was the Ohio State Game.  We watched it at Sarah and Doug's house with friends.  I made these jalapeno cream cheese poppers, and they were a pretty good, easy party food.  Check out the recipe here.


I had to snag a picture of Elin sitting between Luke and JC during the game.  E is a little nervous around Luke usually, so this had to be documented.  Too cute.  My cousin Rachel (Elin's mom) posted almost the same picture on her blog yesterday.

Sorry for the graininess.  My new iPhone should be here within the next week or two, so hopefully that won't be such a problem anymore.  (camera, what? That's way too much trouble to carry around).

Also, I just have to mention that we used our fireplace for the first time this week!  It turns out our logs were not good, so it lasted about 2.5 minutes, but it was so cozy!  It made me so excited for the months to come. And mostly for Thanksgiving and Christmas break, when I can really enjoy the coziness of our "new" apartment. (It still feels new to me!)

I think that pretty well highlights all the big blessings in the past week.  


Now onto more serious matters.  My Beth Moore Bible study on James is still totally blowing me away.  One day in particular, she wrote about James 1:16-18: "So don't be misled my dear brothers and sisters.  Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows.  In His goodness He chose to make us His own children by giving us His true word.  And we, out of all creation became his choice possession."

Beth goes on to write about God's gifts to us.  That every perfect gift comes from above.  This makes me think of Christmas morning.  I have to admit, I am not the best gift-picker-outer (that's the best I could do in that sentence.  I turn my brain off Thursdays after my last class before the weekend).  That talent belongs to my husband.  But every once in a great while, I find a Christmas gift for someone that is just perfect for them.  On those occasions, I carefully wrap the gift in a pretty package and wait impatiently for the moment when that person opens it.  It is exciting and fun to know that that person is going to love my gift, and it is going to bring them joy. 

The Lord is not only the best gift-giver, but he also knows us better than we know ourselves, because He created us! He loves to bless us!  

I'll be honest: sometimes in the moment, God's gifts don't seem much like gifts at all.  Sometimes I want to say, "God, I asked you over and over for a baby, and instead you plopped me right in the middle of a crazy hectic graduate program that sucks up almost all of my free time!  This is not what I asked for!"  But then I have to realize that I'm being like a selfish child.  Again I will say that if God knows us better than we know ourselves, He obviously knows the gifts that are perfect for us better than we do.  

I underlined this line in my Bible study book in dark purple, and put giant stars beside it: "Out of God's grace, a very imperfect person can still receive a delightfully perfect gift precisely because it's perfect for her.  God's gifts are given with goals.  They're prefect because they're perfecting.  They don't just give today.  They give toward every tomorrow."

Every time I read those words, I want to go out and conquer the world.  God's gifts may not seem perfect, or even fun at the time.  But they are all adding up to something amazing.  They are shaping us into the people He created us to be.  Someday I feel like we will look back on our lives and say, "Ah, I totally get it now!"  Or maybe we won't.  But right now, it is enough for me to trust that God loves me enough to give me His perfect gifts, instead of the ones I want right now.  He knows me better, and has plans for me: plans to prosper me and not to harm me.  Plans to give me a hope and a future.  (I've been saying that verse to myself about a million times a day lately, when my heart starts to let discontentment sneakily leak in).  

Beth Moore finishes that day by saying, "Wait on the Lord!  So many presents are wrapped under your tree that it will take a lifetime to open them.  That's God's way.  He keeps telling us that there's something that He's not telling us, like exactly how this whole thing is going to work out.  This we can know: it's going to be perfect." me chills every time!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Welcome, Fall!

Good morning!  ...As I sit here with my oatmeal and a big cup of coffee, getting ready to snuggle up on the couch for an episode or two of Parenthood before I work on lesson plans later, and seeing the three, glorious weekend days laid out of ahead of me, I realize that it is, in fact, more than just a "good"  morning.  The words stupendous, exceptional, or amazing seem to fit better.

I have just survived one of the most intense weeks of my life.  It was the perfect storm of assignments that all hit at exactly the same time.  

Monday I had clinicals from about 8-5, and had to give two of my first major assessments/evaluations to one of my very, very young clients.  

Tuesday I had a huge acquired brain injury test that I studied hours and hours and hours for.  It ended up being about 4-5 pages of nothing but essay questions.  Then I had to write my first diagnostic report for an assessment I gave last week, which was intense in and of itself, and took all my free time that day.  Then we had a quiz during my last class over a 40-page chapter.  And to top it all off, we gave oral mechanism exams to one another in my diagnostics class.  This is my fourth time doing that, but I always get a little stressed out when I have to go poking around in my friends' mouths and sticking a tongue depressor in the back of their throats to make sure their gag reflex can be activated.  And vice versa. I feel like we are probably one of the only professions who gag clients on purpose.  But alas, the gag reflex is a very important thing to have when it comes to things like not choking.  Anyway, Tuesday was crazy!

Wednesday was a bit of a break.  After clinicals, I spent the rest of the day studying because...

Thursday I had my first big test in my AAC class.  I also had to revise and resubmit my diagnostic report from Tuesday, because my supervisor had me change a few things since I don't really know what I'm doing in that area yet.  I got home and frantically worked on lesson plans until about 10:00. 

And to be honest?  I feel a little bit like superwoman this morning having survived it all.  Ha!  The sad thing is, as well as I'm doing in school, I am failing at just about every other aspect of life.  Blogging included, clearly. I just have to keep telling myself that other aspects of life will resume during Christmas break, and they will resume permanently in just over a year-and-a-half when I'm done!  There is life after grad school.  

Anyway, that was quite a tangent.  All that to say, I'm extremely excited to have three days off this weekend, and I think I may have just survived the most intense week of the semester.  

But let's rewind to last weekend.  Because it was amazing!  I just haven't found time to write about it yet.  

I went with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law to White House Fruit Farms!  Which is the best place to go this time of year.  We literally filled up Maria's vehicle with pumpkins, gourds, mums, and delicious food!  It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and just what I needed before my stressful week!  We, of course, had to get some of their famous donuts.  I took a half dozen blueberry and apple cinnamon donuts home, and enjoyed them so much throughout the week!  I decided a long time ago that White House donuts are worth the diet cheat.   

After our trip, I came home and decorated my front porch!  Ever since we moved into the downstairs apartment, I've been so excited about decorating the porch for both fall and Christmas!  Anyway, I feel like we are really in the heart of fall now, and that makes me insanely happy!

Here are some pictures from our morning. 
Diana, Maria, Me

The Pumpkin Pavilion!

m-i-l Patty with our FULL trunk of fall "necessities."  And this was before we went into the main building for food.  Oy. 

Front porch!  ...address conveniently blotted out.  I dug that little table out of the basement.  I used to hate it, but I thought it looked perfect on the porch!  I think that will be a permanent fixture from now on.  In this picture the Mums don't look so hot, but they are perking up and starting to bloom now.

I've also been working on the inside of my house.  I think I've finally figured out what my decorating style is.  It took me so long to figure out what I like, and could never put a name on my style.  But I've finally realized that I'm into rustic.  Farmouse-y.  And that just works with our old, old house and the old, beautiful woodwork, beveled glass details in some of the windows, and stone fireplace.  So anyway, I've been a lot more into rustic and farmhouse looking things lately.  My grandma caught wind of this from seeing pictures on my blog, and offered a bunch of beautiful, old milk bottles and other jars to me!  They have so much character, and I love them!  I put some on the mantle, and some on my tiny, kitchen table.


In other news, I crashed a fun little cookout at my sister's house on Saturday night with my parents.  It was so nice to have the whole family together! (minus Luke...he had invited some guys over for the OSU game.  Hence the reason I stole away to Julie's).  We had burgers, pasta salad, and chips with delicious homemade salsa made from pickings from their enormous garden.  We ate out on their newly finished patio area, and it was fun to catch up.

Also, completely unrelated to anything, but I was up for a cell phone upgrade on October 2!  Perfect timing, it seems, and my iPhone 5 should be here soon!  I know everyone says it will be lame, but it will be faster, and the camera will be nicer than my 4.  Which is all I really care about anyway.  Oh, and it's white! ...probably my favorite part, because they didn't  make the white model when I bought my 4.  I hope to get this blue Otter Box for it, because me and unprotected iPhones don't mix.  

Was that the most random post ever?  Probably.  That's what happens when you only post once a week!  I have one post to catch up on 7 days worth of stuff!  

Anyway, happy Friday!  I can't wait to catch up on all of your blogs this weekend!  That's always one of my weekend highlights.