Kathryn Price, M.A.

It's official: I have my Master of Arts in Educational Technology!  Yay!! What a crazy ride it was. I am so proud of myself for tackling this degree and the many long hours of writing papers, creating projects, and learning new things that went into it.

I'm also really proud of my new e-portfolio that showcases a lot of the projects I created along the way. An e-portfolio is sort of like an online resume. It's a website that I can send future employers to, to check out my talents and work. You are welcome to check it out too! @ KathrynPrice.info

When I was home for Christmas break, I had the good fortune to be able to attend my graduation ceremony. One of the other girls in the program, Shanna, was kind enough to have a friend take a picture for me while I was on stage. She snapped a gem.

This picture of me hugging the President of Azusa Pacific University, Dr. Wallace, is really special. He became the President of the University at the same time I entered my freshman year there. My sister, who also went to APU, and I like to call him "Daddy Wallace" because his children and nieces and nephews went to school alongside of us. This picture represents 4 years of undergrad, a teaching credential, and my first graduate degree, all from Azusa Pacific University. 

I am so grateful for the wonderful friends I made during the program, and for the help and support of some amazing professors. Thank you to my family and friends for encouraging me along the way, and to my wonderful husband for putting up with the late nights and for believing in me. I couldn't have done it without you all!


The Dilemma

Dominica or Florida? Deciding where to go next is turning into a big dilemma. After 4 semesters of basic sciences, the next step is the mystical 5th semester. During this semester, students have to take and pass a big fatty test called the 'comp' before RUSM will let them take the Step 1. Basically, 5th semester is RUSM's way of making sure their students pass the Step 1 on their first try, by giving students 12 weeks of extra testing and preparation. 

If none of that makes sense to you, don't worry, you aren't alone. The big idea here is that we need to choose if we want to stay on the island another 4 months or if we want to move to Miami. 

I imagine, those of you in America are thinking, 
"Are you crazy? Of course you should stay in Dominica!" 
And those of you who've been to Dominica are thinking, 
"Are you crazy? Of course you should go back to America!"
But it's really not that easy of a decision. If we move to Florida, there is the problem of actually moving! California to Florida is a long way to move for just 12 weeks. Would we take our cars? Our things? I've never been to Florida!

If we stay in Dominica, it will be summer. I still won't have a car, or a house with central AC, or even get to go home again until August. 

But there are good things about both places too. Most of the good things about Florida revolve around the conveniences of America: shopping, food, cars, etc. Oh, and Harry Potter World. (Which I think has a real name that maybe I'll find out one day.) If we stay in Dominica then we save ourselves a huge move and all the stress that comes with that and get to continue enjoying this beautiful island.

In the end, what it all boils down to is: Where will Chris be better able to prepare for the Step 1, Dominica or America? And the jury (or juror?) is still out on that one, but he is thinking seriously about it. 

What do you guys think? What would you do? 


Sponsor Swap

Has anyone noticed my new "Sponsor Swap" section? Look over there, down, to the right.
{You may have to scroll a bit.}

See? Pretty new buttons! Part of the fun of blogging is getting to meet new people. I feel like my blog is somewhat unique in that my followers are about half people I know in real life, and half people I've met through blogging.

You should definitely check out these girls' blogs though. They are all part of my "daily reads." I love finding things or common, or hearing about what is happening on the other side of the world. It's sort of like reality TV, but less trashy. Don't be afraid to leave a comment to say "hi" on my blog or anyone else's. It feels good to know that someone stopped by!

If you are interested in swapping with me, you can read more about it by clicking this button:


Adam-Cat Settles Catan

Don't throw tomatoes at me, I couldn't help it. Look at that face, so intent on playing the game. Do you guys know about the wonders of Settlers of Catan? It is my all-time favorite game.

This is the travel dice version, that we got for Christmas, but the idea is still the same. You use "commodities" like wheat, bricks, or sheep to buy roads or towns. It sounds dorky, but it is actually really fun. Way better than Uno!


I won!

I try not to talk too much about design on this blog, but last night something super-exciting happened. I won 2 hours of one-on-one training from theBDN.com, which is one of my favorite designer resources. I am so excited!!

When I started seriously thinking about trying to make money off of web design, I took a 4 week course from the Blog Designers Network which went through things like photoshop for blog design, Blogger & Wordpress installation, and business practices. It was a huge help to me in learning the "right" way to do things.

At this point, I've gotten smart enough to realize what I still need to learn. So these 2 hours of one-on-one training are perfect for me. I still have some questions about Wordpress installation having to do with trickier things like how to install directories, back up your blog, make blog transfers, and security questions.

Since we are on the subject, here are links to the last 2 blogs that I've designed. They are both totally unique and beautiful. Make sure you hover over the social networking icons to see the surprises I installed.
If you like my design work, there are still 6 days left to enter a giveaway that Heather is hosting for me on her blog, inspiremeheather.com

I've also added some links to my favorite design resources on my Links I Love page. Hopefully you can find something useful there!


Hear This

Have I ever mentioned that I write for the "school paper"? As in the weekly e-newsletter at my husband's medical school. Mostly, I go to random events, take photos, and write an article. Bing-bang-boom, cash in my pocket. I wouldn't say that it is the ideal job for me, but I'm pretty good at it and it helps give me a little spending money.

Where am I going with this?

The other day, I was asked to attend a seminar on Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids from visiting doctors. I know. Doesn't it sound like the perfect way to spend your Friday morning? Sitting in a lecture hall listening to a presentation on the inner workings of the hearing aid?

Let's just say that I'm glad I stuck it out. After the seminar I introduced myself to the presenters and asked for a short interview. We sat down and they told me about the work they had been doing in the community earlier in the week. Their stories were surprising and touching.

Before coming to the island, these doctors worked with their local Rotary Club to raise money for the trip. Between that money and old hearing aids donated by the patients at their practice, over 150 hearing aids (which cost upwards of $700 US each) were given to locals in need.

The doctors told stories of patients who complained of hearing loss and upon inspection the doctors found hardened black wax and other foreign objects (like dirt and bugs). Once thoroughly cleaned, many of these people had a complete restoration of their hearing while others were treated for hidden infections.

Any one who needed it was fitted for a hearing aid that was molded on the spot for them. For some, this was the first time in years they had been able to have a normal conversation.

I want to share the most touching story with you, as I wrote it for the article.
The team shared the story of Alex, a young boy about the age of 10 who was brought to the clinic by his mother. She explained to the doctors that the boy was completely deaf. After an initial exam, the audiologists put a body aid & hearing aid on him, and for the first time Alex was able to hear his own voice and outside noise. The expression on his face was of undeniable joy as he spoke syllables of noise into the machine. Stories like this are what make these Hearing Clinics so valuable to both the team members, and the members of the local community.
Not so long ago if I had seen a donation jar at a local coffee shop or church for a mission trip like this, I would have thought, "Let someone with money help them." But actually living here, in a developing country, I realize that I truly was and am blessed. I know it can be hard to tell whether charities are for-real or not, but I encourage you to donate when and where you can. You never know when your small gift might make a big difference in the life of someone else.


That Moment

Let's talk for a second about that moment when I open a new browser tab only to see the "DNS FAILURE" screen. My heart sinks every time. 

And no, this isn't about Facebook, bad example. Between going to school online and starting my design business, I need the internet working!

The internet in Dominica is less than reliable. Sometimes it is so slow it's not worth using, other times it turns on and off again at the most inconvenient times. But it's the 75% of the time that it works just fine that  I get tricked into feeling comfortable with it. I've been lulled into a false sense of stability.

When it goes out my choices are to stay home & ignore the work I should be doing, walk to Chris's med-school, or walk to a friend's house to mooch off their service. To be honest, all these choices are less than ideal. Ignoring the work is tempting, but not good when I have to work double the next day. Going to campus or a friends house means having to pack everything up and walk across town (often in the rain or after dark).

Reliable internet service is high on the list of things I miss from home. Maybe even above a dishwasher or washing machine.


Anatomy of a Shopping Trip

Grocery shopping in Dominica is serious business. At the beginning of every month, several of the other spouses and I pack up our various freezer and reusable bags and try to muster up some energy for an all day shopping extravaganza.

Because we don't have cars here, a big shopping trip means hiring a driver to make the hour(ish) long journey to the capital city of Roseau. Our favorite driver is an awesome Dominican named Bruno, who lets us turn on the AC {rare!} and drives slow enough so we don't end up motion sick. 

There are several "large" grocery stores in Roseau. By large, I mean that 80% of the time you can 60% of the items on your (already pared down) grocery list. Still, I always manage to fill my cart to the top! What this picture doesn't show are the multiple containers of kitty litter I have lined up behind the cart. 

Are you wondering why I have to go shopping an hour away from where I live? That's because our small town only has one grocery store and I just can't get everything I need there. The prices at the store are also a little high. Case in point? Orange and yellow bell peppers are nearly 70 EC per kilogram this week.. which translates to about $12 US per pound. It's a matter of supply and demand.

No trip to Roseau is complete without a stop at The Juice Man who is conveniently located in front of The Spice Man at Ruins Rock. "Spice" takes on a whole new set of meanings when you consider the last line of his street advertisement. 

When everyone is done with their shopping, the van is carefully loaded up and we make the hour long drive back to town. I have yet to be on a trip where someone doesn't post on Facebook the next day something like, "Hey, I made it home without corn chips, did anyone end up with double?" Good thing we are all pretty honest around here. 


Love Wins

This is probably the most "controversial" book I've read in a while.. and I loved it! Rob Bell answers some tough questions in an honest and open way. He asks that you put aside what you learned in bible boot camp, and really think about what the Bible says. This book will challenge your mind and heart, in a wonderful way.

The reason I'm writing this book review today is because I just saw a youtube video and it reminded me of this book in action. Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus. Go check it out!


Workspace Woes

My workspace is becoming a problem, in the sense that I don't really have one. I do most of my work from our kitchen counter right now because our apartment is made of 2 rooms and Chris uses the only desk. This is where I'm working right now, and it's bad news.

The swivel bar chairs are the worst. My feet either dangle or I have to wedge them against the wall. I also have to pack everything up when I want to make dinner or risk getting food on my stuff. I need a real space! Like this:

or this:

Something has to be done though. I need a dedicated workspace so I can leave my things out and keep my feet on the floor. I'll let you know what I come up with!


New Year, New Look

I've been secretly working on an update for my blog design for the last few weeks. I did about 75% of it in one night, including getting it live on a test-site, and then took my sweet time finishing the last bit. Some new things I picked up along the way were:
  • making social networking icons that light up when your mouse hovers over them
  • putting social networking icons in the header
  • adding a drop down menu in blogger
  • installing Disqus & LinkWithin {super easy btw}
  • styling cool bullet points
And also, figuring out how to style block quotes so they turn out something like this:
Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.  ~ Julia Child
Everyday I'm learning new things about blogging and graphic design. In the blink of an eye, 2 or 3 hours will pass while I'm working in photoshop or playing with code. I even bought some super geeky books while I was at home: CSS: The Missing Manual and Smashing Wordpress. And by geeky, I mean the pages are filled with codes that are starting to make sense in my brain.


Goals for 2012

Goals vs. Resolutions 
Setting goals seems less daunting to me than making a resolution. Goals are something you work towards and can adjust and change. A resolution seems so definite and well, breakable. So this year, I'm going to skip the resolution bit and set out some goals for myself.

  • Complete 4 or more blog designs per month.

Starting my own business is so exciting. I want to build my skills and portfolio, but also want to avoid burnout and enjoy my last few months on the island. As I get gain experience, this number should increase.

  • Find an online teaching job at a college or university. 

Once my degree is posted I want to start searching out online teaching positions. I want to use my Masters degree in some way this year, ideally having it pay for itself through new job opportunities.

  • Make dates with my husband to have fun together at least twice a month.

I know what you are thinking, "you only plan to have fun with your husband twice a month?!" But listen. Life as a med-student is no cake walk. Between him finishing his fourth semester, studying for the step, and starting rotations, twice a month sounds like a good start.

  • Read 12 books. 

This is significantly less than last year, but I am being realistic. Between starting a new business, job hunting, and moving, I think one book a month sounds just about right.

  • Relax *

I need to learn to let go of things that make me anxious and worried. I want to focus my energy on what is good, and stop dwelling on what makes me feel anxious. Not only my mind, but my body too. I want to go to yoga & spend time relaxing.

*This goal was added as part the Journey Forward challenge.


Twelve by 2012: Wrap-up

How did I do??

1- finish up my 10 free makeovers at Priceless Design
Totally kicked this one out of the park! You can see the designs in my portfolio.

2- complete the Caribbean Cooking challenge from Spouses Kitchen 
Fail. I managed 3 meals before losing my momentum.

3- plan something fun for my husband's 30th birthday
Success! Fun surprise party, check!

4- go to Rainbow Yoga at least once a week
Fail. Once a week didn't happen, but I did enjoy yoga every time I went.

5- organize my messy closet 
Fail. We are moving in 4 months, and it may not happen until I start packing up.

6- take a blog designers course from BDN
Loved this workshop. I learned a ton!

7-  read the last 5 books in my Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge
Fail. I finished 22 of the 24 books I had hoped to read in 2011. But I did read a ton of blogs this year, and that should count for something!

8- get A's in both my classes this semester
Success! I even nailed a 100% in one of them.

9- complete in my masters capstone project: Globablog
Yes and no. My students on the island still have one more activity to complete, but it wasn't because I dropped the ball.. things just took longer han expected.

10- get Priceless Design ready for it's grand opening
Done! I think this goal took precedence over everything else. I'm so excited for how it turned out!

11- organize a Christmas party 
Well, I didn't organize my own Christmas party but I did make a bunch of cookies to share for the one I did attend.

12- walk at my graduation 
I did, and it was great. 4 more weeks of class, and I am finished! The university let us walk before our degree is officially posted.

Score? Roughly 50%. But that's okay. It was kinda fun to cross things off as I went, so I think I will post my goals for the new year {just as soon as I write them}!