Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Moving Forward

As I mentioned in my last post, Rebekah and my final project with the internship was to create the new school division pages. Although I'm sure they will be tweaked, changed, and added to, we did complete our task. The pages we designed can be found here:

Creating those and preparing for our speech and PowerPoint took up the majority of our time until the dinner and final presentation on Wednesday. The dinner was lovely and, aside from a few pre-speech jitters, relaxing.

Thursday I spent packing and spending time with the people I had gotten to know over the six weeks I was in OK. I'll miss seeing them every day.

Rebekah and I left early Friday morning and drove to Albuquerque . . . which successfully managed to get this song stuck in my head. (Enjoy!) Saturday we came the rest of the way to California, where we're staying with Rebekah's parents for the next two weeks.

California is beautiful. Again, a change, but I love it here as well. I've met several of Rebekah's friends now, and they've all been very friendly and welcoming. 

We went to church on Sunday, then spent the rest of the day at Disneyland. Yesterday we visited the beach and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire. I got to see the sunset over the mountains and water...stunning. (Not my first time seeing it like that, but it will never cease to enchant me.)

So where do I go from here? Well, aside from a return to Minnesota and much desired hugs from friends and family; some continued work with IEW (so glad the end of the internship wasn't the end of my part in the company!); and finishing and marketing my book, I don't really know. Then again, that may be enough to fill my time and bank for a while. :)

I'm trusting God to lead me, and I'm grateful my path isn't decided by me alone. "I know, oh Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.– Jeremiah 10:23

Monday, July 18, 2011

Procrastination Is Not Welcome Here

Why do I do this? I wait and wait to write, and my posts end up being a balancing act to neither miss key information nor become far too long. Whoops.

So, here I go, attempting another tightrope walk. Wish me well. :)

Spending time with my friends over the 4th was so much fun. We visited the OKC memorial (a beautiful reminder...a horrific event, but somehow it seems to have left people with a hope, and a strong feeling of gratitude for the help offered during and after the bombing), went to a beautiful botanical gardens (pictures to come on Facebook "soon"), and (of course!) saw fireworks on the 4th. I loved the chance to relax and just enjoy being with good friends.

Since then, Rebekah and I have been working on various pieces of the website. Lots of behind-the-scenes planning and tweaking that's hard to show, but here are two webpages (we are very proud to say) we created:

www.excellenceinwriting.com/start (I made the initial page, and Rebekah created all the pages it links to!)
www.excellenceinwriting.com/sped (This one is my own creation, and just went public!)

For the rest of our time here, we'll be working to organize the school division parts of the website. It's a big task (we made a general plan today and realized just how much we'll need to do), but we're confident it can be done (right, Rebekah? :D ).

Other news:
  • My book came! So exciting. I had a proud author moment showing it off to the people I work with. Unfortunately some formatting errors and typos made it through, so it's still not publishable yet.
  • My sunburn is now basically healed. :) Yay!
  • Rebekah is lovely, and so much fun to spend time with, and we have become so close so quickly that we are planning a road trip together as soon as our internship ends. How cool is that?
Time to have a Skype chat about the new webpages, and read the final book for work! (Still loving it here!)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Spreadsheets, HTML, Sun, and Other Lovely Things

This week's focus has been the IEW website. This might be my favorite part of the job so far! I had started teaching myself HTML, and I love working with it to get it to do what I want (I admit sometimes it misbehaves more than I'd like), so being able to use that has been really enjoyable. (I knew it would come in handy at some point!) I've been teaching Rebekah a little too, and she's been learning on her own, and she's catching on quickly.

We were given a spreadsheet of product pages to duplicate, which we did (Rebekah from the top and me from the bottom). Now we're working on creating new landing pages for various parts of the site. When we're done things should be organized very well . . . and it's exciting to see what we've been able to create already.

This was a short week, with our last day of work on Wednesday. Thursday until Tuesday we have off for the 4th. Since we were both still in the area on Thursday, Rebekah and I, along with Julie's son and a friend of his, went innertubing down the Illinois river.

That was quite an adventure. The water ranged from completely motionless (where we had to move ourselves or we'd end up never moving) to rapids with strong currents leading up to fallen trees (which, by the way, are painful and should be avoided). A few times the currents pulled our tubes away from us, and my shoes didn't fare so well--though at this point they're still wearable; a couple of the others got bruises and nasty looking scratches, and I got an unintentional lungful of water at one point, but we reached the end all in one piece. :)

One red and sore piece, but still. Since we thought the river would only last a couple hours, we figured one coat of sunscreen was enough . . . we were on the water about eight hours. I am now qualified to compare Oklahoma sunburns with Minnesotan ones, and my well-informed conclusion is that they hurt just as much. ;)

Yesterday I drove for three hours to visit some friends, who I'll be staying with until the 5th (the 6th is when work starts again). It's great to be able to spend time with them. Last night we took their dog on a walk in a nearby (lovely) park--and I got to see the sunset for the first time since I've been here (where I'm staying the trees block my view of it), and today we went to see a movie (the air-conditioned theater and my pink skin got along very well). Mostly we've been relaxing, reading, and talking.

Though I'm sore and I'm reconsidering spending time with Rebekah since it seems to be dangerous to my health (kidding!), I'm still really enjoying my stay here. Hard to believe I have less than a month left!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

IEW Teacher Training, and lots of &c.

It's been a week since I last wrote...unacceptable! At least I do have decent excuses. As you can tell by the title, it has been a busy week!

Tuesday and Wednesday Rebekah and I went through IEW Teacher Training... We are now both accredited IEW instructors, and can teach the IEW method if our hearts so desire. :)

The training was really enjoyable, and I learned so much in that short time. Andrew is excellent at what he does, and brings a passion to it that makes you excited, too. He also has a large repertoire of hilarious jokes...which makes me think I should make joke-memorizing a new hobby.

I also have a much better insight into what IEW as a company is about, after going through the accreditation process. That will certainly help when coming up with marketing suggestions.

After training ended on Wednesday I went to Julie's to stay the night with Rebekah. That was a lot of fun! We went exploring in the woods behind (of all places) Walmart, and found a creek...or something. Basically, it's water that we don't know the origin of. (Looking back on it, we might have wanted to do more research before exploring further, but we saw water and just had to get our feet wet...um, and actually half our legs, since the water was a bit deeper than expected.)

We walked barefoot through the water for a while, then turned back when the only option would be to completely soak our legs. At one point there was a hidden drop-off, so I earned a lovely bruise for my trouble (the drop-off happened to be right next to a big rock).

Thursday and Friday we spent finishing up the projects we've been working on, and gathering together the assignments for teacher accreditation. Tomorrow we start learning about websites!

Yesterday and today I mainly focused on my book--formatting the inside and creating the cover. A little after noon today I finished! It's not public yet because I'll first receive a proof copy, and after I've made sure there's nothing in the proof that should be changed in the final, I'll put it for sale. :)

Yesterday I went shopping with Mrs. G for a little bit. The first couple stores we tried were closed, but we eventually found an open thrift store. That was fun. After lunch today I drove to the grocery store in town, sipped a cup of coffee, and called my family and good friends back home. It was great to hear everyone's voices again.

Reading another--much shorter--book for work, and am presenting the first part of it tomorrow. I've really been enjoying the discussions we get into...I learn so much more from the books when I'm given a chance to talk out the ideas in them and change them into practical suggestions. (And knowing I'll be talking about them makes me take more in-depth notes than I otherwise would.)

It is now past my bedtime. :) Goodnight, all!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Second Week

Omitting the post titles is very tempting to me right now. It took me more than six months to decide on a title for my book (well, one that didn't make me scrunch my nose), but since I don't think you'd appreciate waiting six months between blog posts while I try to think up creative titles for them, these factual and slightly boring ones will have to do. ;)

We're starting our second week now, and finishing up some event-planning. Last week we took a tour of a couple resorts/retreat centers, for an event this fall. The field trip was a lot of fun, and both the centers were very nice. One gave us chocolate covered strawberries (one of my favorite things!), scones and mini muffins to try. Can you guess which resort I liked best?

I've been learning a lot about marketing, and how to incorporate social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, &c.) into promotional strategies. It's very interesting! I'm also loving working alongside Rebekah . . . We laugh a lot. (Don't worry, it doesn't interrupt our work too much.)

Saturday I spent doing nothing but edit my novel. Sunday I went to mass with Mr. and Mrs. G (it was beautiful), went to lunch at the resort I liked, finished reading a book Julie had assigned, and, after calling my dad, got right back to editing. My goal for the weekend was to completely finish the final draft of my book, and I'm pleased to report that I did! It's hard to believe I won't be tweaking it again before publication.

Now I'm working to format it correctly, which is a bit more difficult than I had anticipated. Getting it into proper format has also doubled the page count (though it should be shorter once I get it into the right font and other things). I hadn't been expecting that. For some reason it hadn't occurred to me that putting it into smaller pages would make it longer (Word is typically 8.5x11 inches, and a novel that large would look . . . funny), but so it does. Who knew?

Once I'm satisfied with both the format and my cover art (this weekend at the latest), I will be posting the book on Amazon for publication. It may take some time before they review and accept it; they have to do that to be sure nothing's off with the format. When it's on the site and ready to be purchased I'll let you know--probably with a very excited celebratory post!

Tomorrow Rebekah and I begin the teacher accreditation process with IEW, to become better acquainted with it and therefore know more how to market it. :) I'm excited! We'll be taking a 2-day course with teachers in the area, and Andrew will be leading. I've been told it will be a fun experience.

Time to do more formatting. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First Day

Last night was the introductory dinner, where I met the people I would be working with and the other intern, Rebekah. It was a lot of fun. We laughed a lot, and Rebekah and I were given a general idea of what is expected of us. It made me excited to start.

Today was our first day of work. Rebekah and I have a list of what to get done each day, and we talk about it more in depth with Julie, Andrew and Cameron when we come in (and throughout the day). We’re keeping busy and so far always know what to be working on.

Rebekah and I went for a walk and did some brainstorming today, then split up responsibilities and got to work. Rebekah is very sweet, has a lot of good ideas, and is a hard worker . . . the two of us make a good team.

Today was a lot of promotional planning, so tomorrow we’ll begin to implement and tweak the plan we came up with. I'm loving the work and the people. 

It's interesting, and I like the change, to not have my phone and keys with everywhere I go. There's no need for either, since I'll ride with Mr. G (or walk) to and from work, and there is almost no phone service here. (I've received some texts since I came, but I don't think my own go through, or else they're very delayed.)

Another thing I'm loving here is all the nature! Being from a suburb of a big city, I'm not used to being surrounded by trees and wildlife. (Though I don't see much besides cows, horses and dogs, usually. This morning on the way to work we saw a turkey and another interesting looking bird. Mr. G. said what it was, but now I can't remember.) I've been warned about the bugs, but my bug spray seems to be doing its job; not one bite!

This is the entrance to Mr. and Mrs. G's driveway:

All the roads leading up to the house look like this, surrounded by trees. It's beautiful.

This is the room I'm staying in:

Isn't it lovely? I sit in that chair when I'm reading (thus my books and notebook). Mr. and Mrs. G gave me a separate room with a desk so I could set up my computer and have a work area away from where I sleep--which is so nice.

And this (prepare to be jealous) is the view I see anytime I look out the window of either my room or my work area:

I love it.

Rebekah and I found this guy on our walk. I walked home from work today (about a mile), so I took a picture of him. I'm beginning to think this is 'typical' Oklahoma roadkill:

I didn't want to get too close, so I couldn't get a good picture of his head . . . sorry.

Tonight I'm going to read a bit more in my comfy chair, in preparation for tomorrow.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Journey and a Destination

Two surprising things about my 12 hour drive here:
  1. Driving alone in a car for that length of time is actually relaxing. (Really!)
  2. Armadillo are so common here, they become roadkill. I saw three of them on the way.
Another animal I came across was a snake--that one was alive. It wasn't very big, and likely wouldn't have hurt me...nevertheless I was glad to be safe inside my car as I passed.

I'm told the majority of Oklahoma is prairie and brown...where I'm staying it's quite the opposite. We're surrounded by trees (there are a lot of wooded back roads to get to the house) and everything is green. It's beautiful. Tomorrow I'll probably go for a walk and take some lovely photos to put on here.

The couple who have opened their home to me are very sweet and welcoming. After supper, Mrs. G took me on a tour of the IEW building...the majority of which is a warehouse. There's also an 'all-purpose' room with a ping-pong table and couches, and a full kitchen. It seems like a great atmosphere. 

Wednesday is my first full day of work...tomorrow there will be an introductory dinner and I'll meet the rest of the people I will be working with. Tonight, I'm going to sleep. Relaxing and peaceful as 12 hours of driving might be, waking up at 5am has me tired. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011


In just a few days I will be on my way to Oklahoma, for a two month internship with the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). This blog is for my family and friends, to stay updated on what I'm up to while I'm there.

This trip, naturally, means lots of changes for me. It isn't the first time I've been away from my family and friends, and it isn't the farthest I've been from them. I've been to Europe twice, for three months both times. Still, 700 miles and two months is a long trip, no matter what it's compared to.

It is also the first solo trip I'll be taking. The longest I've been alone in a car up until now is probably about two hours . . . so this should be interesting. I'll be staying with a family I've never met, and meeting lots of new people. My hopes are high that I'll come away from the experience with several wonderful new friends. After all, I'm an extrovert; how could I not?

I'm now nearly all packed, have begun reading assignments to prepare for the internship, and my book is very close to publishable stage (I plan to put it on Amazon tomorrow if all goes well). My moods go in a loop from excited to stressed, to nervous, and sometimes to sad, but always back to excited. I know this is where God wants me, and I'm thrilled to be following His plan.

So, for now, I'm more than just okay.