Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

As you can see, I decided to give my blog a make-over. As much as I loved the previous background, I felt it was a little formal and dark for my current vibe. I've chosen this colorful and spring look to match the season and my attitude.

The school year is wrapping up. I've finished all my major papers and projects. I'm getting forms signed off by my advisors and all signs are pointing to GO! I'm closing up shop on my grad school adventures, and I must say I'm a little nostalgic. The past 2 years have been a wonderful here at UT-D. I've had some really neat clinical experiences in a variety of settings. I've had some great teachers, professors, and advisors. I've met some amazing friends and I've learned a lot. Don't get me wrong...I'm totally ready for my first job. I just am very blessed by the experience that God led me into.

Coming to UT-D was a risk for me. I was not familiar with the program at all and I knew no one who had been there. (Remember, I'm from Illinois.) My University of Illinois was looking just fine to me, however I couldn't stay there because it just wasn't an option for Ross and I as we were getting married and finding the right job for him. The only thing that UT-D had going for itself in my mind was that Ross's sister lived in Dallas and she had good things to say about it. Of course, I was still a skeptic in my head because how could anything top the U of I program??? I was comfortable there...I knew what to expect...I knew my teachers...I was established there as being a good student and a good clinician. Now I had to leave that behind and start from scratch?? Well, I can say confidently that UT-D has exceeded all my expectations. It was different than I expected but in a good way. I won't say that I didn't experience stress...however I know that the stress I had here was SO minimal to what I would have had in Illinois. When I left U of I, I was able to start over. No more competition with myself and others. I was free to be myself and UTD really fit my personality. Let me explain...Speech Pathology majors are typically very Type A personality. Overachievers, highstrung, super organized, and on top of everything. Now I have some characteristics of Type A in that I like my work to be complete and done well....however I am meant to be laid back. UTD has a large enough program that I just felt like I could be myself and not conform to what every other girl was doing. I have even found several girls here who are like myself which has been so great! In conclusion, I could not have imagined a better grad school experience and I am so thankful that God brought Ross and I here. He really works in mysterious ways and I could go on and on about all that He's orchestrated in our lives by bringing us here, but that's for another blog and another day.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jo's Baby Bump

Jo didn't like her baby bump to be touched.

She tried to resist.

But finally she gave in and let me. :)
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Pictures from my STL weekend.

Dana and I about to finish the 5K

Excited to have medals!

A great side shot of Jo opening the gift from me.
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Friday, April 24, 2009

All the loose ends

As the phrase goes, I'm in the process of tying up all the loose ends when it comes to graduating. Next week is my official last class of school EVER. How crazy is that?? I have 2 final loose ends to tie up and one of which I am currently working on (can't you tell?). I have a 15-25 page paper to write that is due Wednesday and a "take-home" final that will be distributed on Wednesday and then I'm officially DONE! So far I've written 1 page on my paper and I keep getting distracted on it mostly because I keep thinking about an unofficial job offer. I can't help but get excited when I think that I might really have my dream job. :) Like I said though, it's all unofficial so I need to stay somewhat grounded for a couple more weeks. In due time, I will be able to share all about it with you.

In other news, I'm excited for this weekend. Ross and I are actually staying in town for a change!! No flying for this girl. I am staying in Dallas. :) I am hanging out with all my grad schools girls on Saturday night for a wine and cheese party (my favorite!) and then Sunday night is a special Family Night at our church that Ross and I are both helping out with. So, it looks like we have a fun weekend in store for us and I wish the same for all of you! By the way, ya'll are invited to our church Sunday night for Seeds Family Worship @ 6. Here's the link to a youtube video of last year's service:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A movie and a message

WARNING: reading this blog may ruin the ending of a movie if you have not seen it!!!

That being said....Ross and I really like to rent movies. This week we rented 2 movies and I got to pick BOTH of them out. :) I chose 7 Pounds with Will Smith and Marley and Me with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. Today I'll give you a simple review of 7 Pounds, but like I said I'm not going to censor the ending or anything so if you plan on seeing the movie then wait to read my post.

The beginning of the movie is a little confusing. After a few scenes, I caught on that it was shooting 2 different time frames, because Will was happy and carefree in some of the scenes and then totally depressed and haunted in the others. But even when I figured that out, it still took me awhile to figure out what on earth was going on! I liked the fact that it wasn't predictable from the start though and it made me think. This movie was pretty entertaining, however the ending was haunting and I don't agree with the message it sent.

WARNING: movie spoiler ahead.

So, we find out by the end, that Will Smith's wife and 6 others had died in a car accident that he had caused. He feels guilty and in order to redeem himself he wants to tremendously bless 7 other individuals who are "good people" and need a miracle. The first message I believe this sends is that an individual can "play God". Will Smith first judges these people by watching them and getting to know them to see if they "deserve" a miracle. I realize that with the gifts he was giving he wanted to make sure he chose just the right people, however I'm glad that when God decided to send Jesus to die for my sins he didn't put a footnote in the contract that said "*only for those who have deserved it". No way! God knows that on our own NONE of us deserve the gift of grace because NONE of us can measure up to his standards. HOWEVER, when Jesus died on the cross, HE took ALL of our screw ups onto Himself! Grace is a gift that God freely gives to us and it's not something that we could EVER deserve by being a "good person".

The second part of the movie that I disliked is that it ended with Will Smith's freakish suicide and plan to donate his organs to specific people who need them. This to me is another example of "playing God". In my opinion, suicide is taking your own life into your hands and saying that it's your own life to take. Well, no, God gave us life and it's not our own just to throw away when we feel like it! I feel like the message given in this movie is that if your life is worthless to you then just kill yourself so someone else can benefit from it. I really hope people don't see this movie and say "Oh wow, what a selfless thing to do!" I really think quite the opposite of that. I think it's totally selfish of him. He is saying that he has the power to take life and to give life and it really just draws all the attention to him-so not so selfless in my opinion.

Lastly, I felt like Will Smith was trying to earn his forgiveness for the deaths of 7 people by doing "good deeds" which I already mentioned earlier why I don't believe that's possible.

In conclusion, people, we cannot earn forgiveness by being a "good person". Good deeds don't cover up all the ways that we fall short of His glory. We cannot attain righteousness without HIM. But, it's all good, because that's why Jesus died for all of our sins! We were guilty of the crime, but He stood in our place and took the punishment for us! He paid the debt for us that we could never repay on our own at no cost to us. When we give Him Lordship over our lives, we are saying that we are dead to ourselves and give Him the throne to reign. We are no longer the "King" of our lives, but He is! Thank you Jesus for saving me and for pardoning my sins. Thank you for your redeeming love that just keeps on giving! And thank you for guiding me each day, forgiving me of my screw ups, and helping me to get back on the right path time and time again.

Please give me some feedback and let me know what you thought about the movie. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Running with endurance...

This weekend I participated in the Go! St. Louis 5K run with my sister. It was far from my best performance, however it was so fun to run with Dana. It was our first race that we've done together. I was very proud of us for running the whole thing since neither of us had been training for it. It took a lot of positive speaking and encouraging each other, but we made it through without walking. We were supposed to be running with our cousin Kate, but the poor girl came down with strep throat among other things and could barely hold her head up let alone run! She had been the one who had been training hard for the race, so I'm hoping she can find a race in the next few weeks so she can reap the accomplishment for what she has been sowing the past few months! You can do it, Kate!!!

Sorry no pictures for this post! I'm too tired to upload anything tonight, but hopefully I'll get some up soon from the race and from my friend, Joanna's baby shower. Peace out for tonight, ya'll!

Friday, April 17, 2009

It is finished!

I'd like to officially announce that as of Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, I have passed my national examination to be certified in Speech-Language Pathology! No more testing for me!!! Praise the Lord for giving me the endurance to get through those grueling months of studying before the exam and the grace for the areas I didn't have enough time to study!! I am so relieved to have these results because after taking the exam I felt totally defeated. It was definitely the most challenging exam I've ever taken. The hardest part though was waiting a month to get the results. So, I just want to encourage all of you girls who are taking the exam next weekend. It's going to be hard, but you know more than you think! The questions are tricky but go with your gut instinct. I would also advise you not to get too hung up on any particular problem because the test took me the entire allotted time. It's important to keep chugging along and make sure you have filled in every bubble before the proctor says "pencils down". Lastly, most likely you will feel like you did horrible after the exam (like I said, it's hard and you will see questions and ask yourself, "Am I in the right testing room because this doesn't look like anything I've seen before??!!"), however try to relax and not fret about the results. Most likely, you'll find that you did better than you thought and remember you just have to pass it, no need for flying colors!! Good Luck to anyone who is testing next weekend and remember to get plenty of sleep the night before and rest your mind the evening before (it's not gonna help to cram last minute!!).

Also, I would like to announce that I made a successful dinner for 4 last night! As most of you know, I am a little challenged when it comes to the kitchen. I wasn't raised like many of my girlfriends to cook so it doesn't come naturally for me. My sweet mommy spoiled me just enough that I didn't have to help cook which turned out to be a blessing and a curse. Anyway, I got motivated by some of my girlfriends who are little Martha Stewarts (Molly and Kelsey particularly) to try to cook a meal instead of getting it catered once again. Molly gave me a recipe for "Poppyseed Chicken Casserole" and walked me through each step in preparing it. I will admit I almost gave up about halfway into the process. Seriously, I was yelling at Ross to get on the phone and order a pizza, but he just encouraged me to keep working at it. Alas, it turned out and was actually delicious! You can ask the Ayers' if you don't believe me. They even took seconds! I was delighted! I forgot to take a picture, but I served the casserole, a cranberry spring mix salad, and crescent rolls. I might even try it again sometime, but not for awhile. Cooking is exhausting!!! :)

I am so excited for this weekend! I'm flying to St. Louis again and this time I get to see my sisky-wisky, my cousin Kate, and our moms. Kate, Dana, and I are running in the Go! St. Louis 5K on Saturday! I will update you on that after the weekend!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Every morning is Easter morning!

Ross and I had a very non-traditional Easter this year, however it was absolutely wonderful. The thing is, we realize that Easter isn't about just one day to remember Christ's resurrection. It's about celebrating Jesus every single day of our lives.

We started off the weekend with "Good Friday". Ross had the day off from work and so we invited his family down to our neck of the woods for a picnic. It was a beautiful day and we were able to sit out by our lake and have wine and cheese, strawberries, and Cadbury Eggs-a Barry family favorite.

On Saturday, we woke up bright and early (5am) and flew to St. Louis for a Cardinals game with our dear friends Molly and Andy. The Parkers are an amazing couple that we've become friends with here in Dallas. I met Molly through grad school in my first semester and we've been buds since. Ross and I really click so well with Molly and Andy and God has really blessed us by putting them in our lives. So, we flew to St. Louis and showed the Parker's some of the highlights of the city (the Arch and Delmar Blvd) before heading to the game. The day was beautiful and the Cards dominated the game 11-2. We were even able to see a Pujol's grand slam! It was awesome! After the game we ate dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory and had a drink at Morgan St. Brewery and Pub. We were exhausted from being up so early and ended the night pretty early around 10pm. The next day we woke up at 6am and flew back to Dallas. Since we weren't back in time for church, Ross and I caught the tail end of the service online as Pastor Joe was really bringing the message home and then we napped. After that, we headed back out to Andy and Molly's for an Easter dinner as Molly had offered to cook us a Pot Roast! Isn't she amazing!! So we spent the evening fellowshipping over food and having an "Office" marathon! How fun!

Molly and I at the Cards game (notice her Astro's shirt-boo!)
Molly prepared pot roast, carrots, potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and sopapilla cheesecake! This girl rocks!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Can you describe yourself in 3 words?

Yesterday was a big event for me. I had my first job interview ever! In my opinion, I think I did pretty well and they (4 interviewers at once) seemed to like me. I was nervous beforehand, but surprisingly once I started talking I felt pretty relaxed and just tried to focus on "selling myself". I felt a little weird talking about myself for 45 minutes, but hopefully they got a good feel for who I am. I was able to go on a mini-tour of the school and it was really cute. It wasn't as large as the school where I completed my internship which I thought was a nice feature. All of the ladies who interviewed me (principal, lead SLP, counselor, and SpEd director) were friendly and seemed like they would be nice to work with. I will find out their decision early next week.

As a Speech Pathologist, I have several possible work settings to choose from: schools, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, home health, private clinics, and more. We also can work with people across the lifespan (birth to death). My particular area of interest right now is in Pre-K aged children which is one reason I'm leaning towards a school setting. Public Schools offer a program called "PPCD" or "preschool program for children with disabilities" and that's currently one of the settings in which I'd like to work. In this type of setting the SLP collaborates with the General and Special Education teacher to teach the class. It's kind of a co-teaching experience. Some of the time I would teach the class and other times the teacher would teach the class. In this set-up I am able to target goals in a group setting as well as individually during "center time". I love that the SLP in this position is able to be fully integrated in the classroom setting because this provides optimal generalization for the child since they are learning in their natural/classroom environment as opposed to pulling them out of the classroom.

Ross and I have an exciting weekend ahead of us. Having a little picnic with his family today, church tonight, and going to the Cards game with the Parker's tomorrow. I wish you all a wonderful Easter Weekend! He is Risen...let's celebrate!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Girls Gone Wild

This past weekend I had a fun weekend getaway with some girls from grad school We went down to Austin for a TSHA convention (Texas Speech and Hearing Association). I drove down with my dear friend, Molly, and we stayed at our friend, Kristen's parents' house. They were very generous and hospitable!
Even though I ended up losing my voice on the first day of the convention, we still had a fun time. My first semester of grad school, I was in a practicum called Early CLASS. In this practicum were 8 graduate student-clinicians. We met from 8:45 until about noon 5 days a week for this intense and challenging experience. During this time we all became very close and these girls ended up being my closest friends throughout grad school. After that practicum, we all kind of went our separate ways and pursued our own specific areas of interest, but it's always fun when we're able to reunite. This weekend was special because a few of us were able to spend some time together outside of school. We've all been pretty stressed from school, testing, and job hunting and it felt really good just to get away from Dallas for a couple of nights.
Contrary to the name of this post, we weren't really wild. By the time evening rolled around each night, we were completely exhausted from being up at 6 am, listening to speakers all day, and talking to all the exhibitors. However, we still had a good time going out to dinner and just being together.
Now, I know my family is probably interested if I got a job or not. The answer is no, however I handed out my resume to a few places and talked (as best I could with a vocal pathology) to a couple of school districts. I still need to do some researching and networking in the job search. But do not fear....the market for my field is amazing! The outlook for jobs in Speech Language Pathology is expected to increase by 11% nationwide and 30% in Texas until 2016. So, I'm feeling pretty confident about finding a job, it's just a matter of finding the place thats a good fit for me. :)

Me, Kristen, Karin, Morgan, and Molly enjoying some Mexican Martini's. Kristen's parents were so generous to buy us all dinner.

Eating dinner at the Iron Cactus-we were so exhausted from the long day and my vocal folds were so mad at me for abusing them by trying to talk all day over all the loud noise! ;)