Exam. Is. Over.

And I have no idea how I really did. I can tell you how I felt about it. I’m not sure my pass/fail results will be indicative of my feelings of the exam but they are what they are. The exam is done and over and I now have 8-10 weeks to wait before results are posted and then I will be faced with having to take any portion of it over again or moving on. Hopefully moving on.

So…we had a fairly quiet but nice Easter weekend leading up to the exam. We did a play date exchange with Lottie over the weekend which helped us keep Reese entertained through the wet and rainy weather that we had. Fortunately, the weather held off for the Easter egg hunt the girls participated in on Saturday morning through Seattle Parks and Rec. Reese and Brooke both collected a bunch of eggs in their respective age group’s hunt. Reese was hoping for more fruity and sour candies while I think Brooke was very happy with all of the Hershey kisses because they are the one candy that she can open herself and she loves chocolate. Lottie came over for a few hours after the egg hunt and we had a low key afternoon with gymnastics on break for the holiday weekend.

We met up with a friend from our old church to try out a new church not too far from us. Both Bryan and I enjoyed this church and got similar vibes to our times at All Saints. There was a kids room for Reese in which she got to do a craft, have a snack and play in the gymnasium for a bit. There was a nursery for Brooke who didn’t at first like being left but soon after got comfortable with the environment. Bryan and I got to drink coffee and listen to the sermon which was good and everyone seemed friendly and welcoming. I definitely think we will try this one a few more times. After church we dropped Reese off at Lottie’s for a few hours of play. I spent the time studying and Brooke fell asleep early. We had a nice dinner just the four of us with lamb skewers.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday went by quick! I spent my days tabbing, reviewing material and making sure all my binders and printed material was ready to go. I packed my bags, one giant suitcase filled with all of my books and a small bag with just a few sweatpants and toiletries. I treated myself to Starbucks and lunch out on Wednesday and went for a run to clear my head. All four of us went to Reese’s second swim class, picked up Ezell’s next door for an easy fried chicken dinner, and then the clan dropped me off at my hotel at the Seattle Center so that I could get a good night’s sleep before my first day.

Thursday morning started early. I was to report to the test facility at 7:15 am and we were given all of the exam policies and info before actually starting the timer just before 8 am. I was nervous, and I don’t normally get anxious with tests. I had a plan and that was to skip the problems I did not know right off and come back to them. I did this but I wasn’t moving as fast as I should have been. I had about 30 minutes left and about 8 problems that I had skipped and that just wasn’t enough time. I tried to work through as many as I could but unfortunately I had to blindly guess for about 5 or 6 of them which did not make me feel good. There were another handful that I didn’t feel great about and the nature of this test is there are always problems that are trying to catch you or trick you on certain issues so I just don’t know how I did on the rest. The end of this four hours of the exam was so frantic and nerve-wracking that I was really shook at our one hour lunch break. I went back to my room, ate lunch and immediately started looking up what scores it takes to get a pass, trying to pick myself up for the afternoon portion.

My nerves calmed down enough by the time we were to check back in at 1:15 pm and I was confident that I could nail the afternoon portion of the vertical forces exam. We got started at about 1:40 pm and I started working my way through the four problems. I felt good in this section of the exam. My nerves were still there and so my handwriting was fast and sloppy and required rewriting several things but I completed all four questions in their entirety and felt pretty good about all of my answers. These are graded subjectively and as long as you don’t fail any one of the four problems you can get by. I left feeling much better about the day but still not certain that my afternoon answers would help my morning performance.

Regardless, I was ready to get some hugs from the family who were waiting for me at the Seattle Center playground. We headed to go get Thai food at a new to us place called Bangkrak Market in Belltown. It was a fun and vibrant place that definitely had me distracted from the day’s events and the next days anticipation. Bryan got a cocktail that looked delicious but I wasn’t quite ready for my celebratory drink. We split our typical pad kee mao and then tried one of their street eats which was a fried pork belly and BBQ pork plate. Everything was good and we would go back to try more off of their extensive menu. The family dropped me back off at the hotel and I took the night off doing anything but resting and getting another good night of sleep.

Then I woke up the next morning with a terrible headache. Fortunately, QFC is a few blocks walk from the hotel so there I was, going to get ibuprofen before 7 am. This did the trick though and I checked back into the exam room at 7:15 am at my same seat assignment #3, in the front of the room. I shared some feelings with my neighbor who also felt like the previous day’s test was difficult. Same policies and procedures were announced and again around 7:50 am we were back to an intense four hours of multiple choice questions, this time for lateral (wind and seismic) forces. This morning section went much better. I used the same strategy but purposefully moved faster and found the questions slightly easier. I still had a few questions at the end that I went back to and had to give my best guess to but that is okay. I left this time for lunch feeling good.

I spent my one hour lunch break with my lunch in the sunshine of the hotel’s lobby. I had to check out of my room at noon so I had the front desk hold my other bag for me. It was a relaxing hour break and I was ready to get the last portion over and done with. And then that came. The last four hours of written problems were another four hours of nonstop work and writing but I again felt good about what I put down on paper and was this time way more neater and way less anxious. When I wrote down my last word when they said pencils down I did feel relief to have it all done with. It was also gorgeous and sunny outside and I was ready to see the family again.

I wheeled my heavy bag of books back to the hotel where the crew was waiting for me with a bouquet of flowers and two bars of chocolate. They had spent the afternoon at the park and were in good moods. We got my bag and headed out with nothing really in mind. We ended up deciding on getting some pasta takeout from Due’ Cocina in Capitol Hill and took this to Volunteer Park to have a picnic. This was a great decision and the food was delicious! Back home for baths and normal bedtime routine, except that Brooke required me for bedtime on this one rare night. She has been going to bed with Bryan nightly! Once Reese was down Bryan popped a bottle of champagne he had picked up and had chilling for us and it was delicious and definitely did help me come down from the exam. I started to feel the fatigue of the exam settle in though.

We spent the weekend all trying to regroup I think. After two days of sitting and test taking I got out for a run with Brooke on Saturday. Reese had another playdate exchange with her friend Georgie who came over first on Saturday and then they watched Reese for us on Sunday while we went to the Mariner’s game with Brooke in tow. Reese was definitely emotional this weekend so we don’t know exactly why or how come but it could be the stress of it all. She had gymnastics that Brooke and I took her to and we had two nice dinners at home over the weekend. The Mariner’s game was a short but sweet one with a victory for the M’s 1-0 over the Rockies. Brooke had a great time and Reese was apparently great during her playdate.

And it’s nice to be back at work with just work to do. For every spare minute I have had for months now at work I’ve filled it with as much studying as I could. Now I have some spring cleaning to do and eventually getting ready for our trip to Mexico but it’s still nice not to be so pressed for time every literal minute of the day. Just two weeks to Mexico!


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