little by little.

an update

Posted on: March 7, 2010

Oops, forgot about this blog for awhile. Here’s what’s happened since I last wrote:

  • I have kept up with my resolutions from the last post. However, working out has given me a stress fracture in my foot that will not go away, so I might be heading back to the doctor this coming week. But I’m eating pretty well, staying healthy, reading good books and allowing myself to experience joy.
  • I turned in my resignation letter at St. Olaf.
    I love this place – it’s been a great home to both of us. But it’s time to move on (and OFF-campus). I don’t know what my future career holds, but I’m excited. I’m applying both at colleges/universities and at non-profit organizations.
  • We bought a house.
    Our closing date is in less than three weeks, though we won’t move in until June. We will be close to our parents, siblings, grandparents and many friends (Jenny and Esteban are 5 minutes away!).
  • We are being considered for two adoptive children.
    Most of you probably read our adoption blog so no need to go into great detail here, but this is the most important thing happening in our lives right now. The wait is hard, but worth it.
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Okay, I’m back.

Not that anyone reads this.
And not that I will post very often, presumably.

January is a time of renewal for many people. I often find myself making long lists of things I would like to improve in my life. All are attainable, but the fact that I have so many makes it hard for me to put enough focus toward each goal. I have narrowed it down to the 4 most important goals I have this year:

  • Rejoin (for the ??? time) Weight Watchers.
    I know I can lose weight. I’ve done it before. In 2007 I lost 39 pounds. I’ve kept about half of it off, but that is not acceptable. And I have to look good in a bridesmaid dress in less than 2 months. This has also inspired me to cook more, like I used to. I have some great healthy cookbooks I’m going to utilize more often.
  • Start going to the gym on a regular basis.
    Again, I’ve done it before. When I worked at Viterbo, I went about 3 times a week, which is better than my current streak at St. Olaf. It helps to have a few others that share my goal and we plan to go together.
  • Pick up good books again.
    This was my goal last year, and I did so well with it until one thing got in my way – fricking Farmville. Also Restaurant City. Gosh, that’s embarrassing to even write here. I know they’re silly Facebook games, but it has been fun to have something mindless to spend time on everyday, especially during stressful times. However, it has prevented me from spending free time more wisely at home, especially in the reading department.
  • Be happy.
    A generic goal, maybe, but I have lots of room for improvement in this area. I would say that I’m generally happy and fun to be around. But the past year (infertility stuff) – well, 3 years (family stuff), I have suffered from a fair amount of depression, which may be apparent to those I see frequently. Now that we’re adopting, even if other areas aren’t great, I want to throw my energy into enjoying life, my wonderful husband, my friends and family, and preparing for Baby.

We can’t stop smiling.

Sam and I are feeling called on by God to adopt a child. This new development in our lives, though very recent, has brought a wave of relief and joy over me. Sam and I are going to become parents of a dear little baby from some unknown place. This is what we were meant to do, all along. This is the right and good thing.

Our struggle to get pregnant was a trying and emotionally draining experience – one that no one can understand unless they have also struggled. But I continue to feel blessed to have the most wonderful and supportive husband on this planet. He is going to be the best dad ever.

Maybe you’ve noticed, but I’m taking a little break from this blog as I reevaluate some aspects of my life. Will return, probably in a few weeks!

I belong to a field of professionals that struggle to explain to the rest of the world what it is, exactly, that we do.

“What did you get your Masters degree in, Laura?”
“Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education”.
“Um..
..oh.”

I am a Student Affairs Professional. I work in Higher Education. I am an Area Coordinator.

Sometimes I just try to explain by saying, “I work at a college, but not necessarily the academic-side. I could work in admissions, financial aid, residence life, student activities…” Even so, family and friends mostly smile and nod. I’m pretty sure most of my aunts & uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends don’t really understand my job or why it’s so important to me.

Instead of simply typing up my job description, let me attempt to use feeling and explain my career choice to you.

When students come to St. Olaf College, most of them live in the residence halls (minor note: this term has generally replaced the word “dorm” across the country). Residents of a hall can’t be expected to live their without certain terms – this is what I and my staff try and provide: Structure. Developmental opportunities. Fun. Safety.

A week and a half ago, 100+ students arrived to campus early – our residence life staff. Some of them are RAs (Resident Assistants on each corridor, who live amongst the upperclassmen/women) and some are JCs (Junior Counselors, who live/work in pairs and work with the first-year students). The RAs and JCs are supervised by the Area Coordinators (there are 5 of us) who each run 2 residence halls. One filled with first-year students, and the other with upperclasswomen/men.

The staff have been trained on all sorts of topics — how to plan fun events for their corridors. How to handle a roommate conflict, a depressed resident, a sexual assault. How to confront policy violations and do rounds of the halls during the evenings. What to do when the fire alarm goes off. These wonderful student staff members spend time making the floors and lobby look welcoming for the arrival of the masses. And I’m here to oversee, to step in, to guide, to support.

I also meet with students who are struggling. Maybe they were caught breaking a policy and we have a conversation about how things could have gone differently. Maybe they are struggling with their sexuality, or they’re going through a hard break-up. Maybe they just need someone to talk to. Whatever it is, I’m here and I’m a good listener.

Of course there are other parts of my job that are also important – meetings with hall custodians/my staffs/my supervisor/professional staff, 1-on-1s, advising Hall Council, administrative duties, office hours.

Tonight I spent 4 extra hours “working”… 2 with each staff, just bonding and getting to know each other. It’s the time of year where that is most important. We are learning to trust each other and are forming strong relationships right off the bat. And I tell you now, they’re an unbelievable group.

Why do I love my job?
It’s so simple.

I love college. I loved MY college experience.
I love the students here. They are so smart, so genuine. Eager and inspiring. To be a part of their college experience, and hope that I may influence them in some positive – even insignificant – way, makes me feel that I have chosen a profession that is considered noble.
It truly is not about me
– it is about something larger, something so much better. Being a part of a positive and growing community that provides so many opportunities for its members. It’s just a great way to spend the rest of my life.

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I cannot believe I have not done a post about my nephew yet. Liam Jamie Grams (son of Katie and Christian) was born on August 11 at 1:40 am. He weighed 6 lbs, 13 oz, measured at 21 inches, and has the widest little baby eyes. It was love at first sight for his Godmother.

I’ve seen him 4 times so far – twice at the hospital, once at my parents’, and the night I went to visit Liam and Katie at home in Woodbury, MN. It will never be enough! Thank goodness Mommy sends Auntie picture mail on an almost-daily basis. xxoo

We feel so lucky to have Megan, Emelia, and Liam in our lives.

It is past 3 am and I am still awake.
This is not abnormal lately, nor was it in college.

What is wrong with me?

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