Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Just a short note on this Good Friday, on which we commemorate the Passion and Death of Jesus. You probably know by now that I can go on and on about any and everything, but today, I leave you with this simple, yet thought-provoking comic, from the beloved cartoon strip, BC. Think about it. Ponder the mystery of Jesus' crucifixion, and be thankful for the wonderful gift we have received!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good Times!

I've finally caught a bit of a break between the craziness of all of my classes, so I'll pop in and update on all of the fun things I've been up to! Good times definitely abound!

1. I left off on my 21st Birthday, which was a great day, minus the fact that Gina was called in to work in the middle of my party, which put a bit of a damper on party with church friends, Liz, & Tonisha happened the next day, and it was a total blast! There were at least 15 people in our entourage, and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to celebrate with! We started out at Texas Roadhouse, then went to our local pub, Finnegan's, went to the two-stepping club, Outlaws, then capped off the night by going to Murphy's (another bar) and IHOP...yep, we were "those" people who made the 2 AM IHOP regrets! I had a blast, and tried lots of different amazes me how many people were willing to buy me drinks! Here's some great pictures from our night!

Tonisha, Me, & Liz before we headed to Stillwater!

This was our whole group, minus Liz, who had to leave I said, we were quite the entourage!

2. One of my newest ventures has been the fact that I'm leading my own Bible study group now! I have an average of about 3-4 girls who come regularly, and I'm steadily finding new girls to join...I am blessed with an amazing group of girls, and I love getting to have great conversations with them and helping them to grow ever closer to God! It is a beautiful thing...I love it!!

3. I went on another retreat a couple weekends ago, this time was for the Bible study leaders from our campus. We talked a lot about the Holy Spirit and there was lots of quiet prayer was a much-needed break from the craziness of school, and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to go! As always, I left with an overwhelming sense of peace and happiness! All good things :)

4. I inadvertently joined another intramural team at St. John's...oops! I really didn't think I was going to, but I did, because they were afraid that there weren't going to be enough girls for their co-rec ultimate frisbee team. No, I've never played ultimate frisbee, why would I bother knowing how to play a sport before signing up to play on a team? (That seems to be a pattern, if you haven't caught on yet...) Thankfully, everyone is a good enough sport not to call me out on my inability to be an effective team member, so that's always nice! It's also a great reminder that I have yet to scratch the surface on any of my running I ever going to run again? I'm starting to think I won't, but maybe I'll find some kind of deep-rooted motivation somewhere!

5. Last Thursday was really rough for me. I had two tests back-to-back and they weren't the easiest in the world. Surprisingly, I did much better than I thought I did on one test, but the jury's still out on the test I'm really concerned about...we'll see!

6. There was a mom's day celebration here at church on Saturday! Mom and Dad were able to come down and visit, even though we only had a short window of time we could be there together. Nonetheless, I was excited to get to see them and introduce them to my adopted church family!

7. In the same vein, Monday was Mom & Dad's 36th wedding anniversary! I had the added blessing of getting to spend the majority of my weekend with them, as they stayed at my trailer. I am so thankful to have such a wonderful model of unconditional, sacrificial love!!! Love you guys so much!!!

8. I have officially started working at my new job at the lake! So far, it has been really easy, thanks to the fact that it's still early in the season and there aren't that many people who are coming to stay at or visit the lake for long enough to warrant needing a parking permit. I won't complain about not being busy, because it is quite the blessing to have a job that close to home and that will easily work with my hours! Until I finish this semester, I'll only be working on weekends, so it isn't too bad of a deal! I think this job will be a much better fit for me, so I'm happy to have this opportunity!

9. I've had lots of good times getting to know some of my new friends better over the past week! Last night, I had supper with my friend Katie who recently returned from studying abroad in Australia. On Saturday, I met up with my friend Isaac from the TEC retreat and had a great time getting to know him better! Today, I'm meeting with a girl from my Bible study to get better acquainted with her, even if I already know we will be great friends! All of this, just to think that a mere year ago, I would have been happy to just have ONE friend here...who would have known! I never cease to be thankful that I took the leap of faith by coming to many amazing things have happened just because I was willing to let go of my fears!

10. On a last note, I have finally enrolled in my last official semester here on campus! How crazy is that! I say the last semester, because next spring will be my student teaching semester and I won't really be on campus too much, if at all. I have to take a summer class, but I don't think it will be too bad, as the instructor is my math advisor and is an overall nice lady, not to mention I've heard good things about the course itself. What I'm more excited about are the classes I have on deck for this fall: I'll be taking Number Theory, Geometry (Not like what I learned in HS, unfortuntately, but still shouldn't be too impossible.), Math Modeling, Methods of Teaching Geometry, Teaching Exceptional Learners (Learning how to differentiate instruction for Gifted-Talented/Intellectually Disabled Students), and.........the best class: Wine Tasting :)

I have never taken a class just because I could, and have always stuck with taking only required classes because I'm just a stick-in-the-mud like that. People have always suggested that I take a class just for fun, but I've always politely disregarded it and said that I "didn't have time" or would be "too busy" for it. Well, ever since I've come to OSU, I've heard so many people talk about the infamous Wine Tasting course and how much fun they had in it, and my interest was piqued. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do it or not, but after some coercion from my parents, who also told me that I never take any cool classes, I decided to give it a shot! If everything seems like too much, I can always drop it, but I'm willing to try it :) I can't wait to finally have a fun class!!! I owe it to myself!!

So, that's what's been happening in my life...nothing too terribly exciting, but still lots of good things! Have a great week!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Month Later...

What a month it has been! Yes, it has literally been one month since I last posted on here, and I'm sure the majority of people who read regularly may have thought that I have fallen off the face of the earth. I have not! I have been having all kinds of great and a few not-so-great adventures, but all is well in my world!

I've spent lots of time on homework, which isn't really how I ever want to spend time, but it is a necessary evil! Fun fact: Did you know that some classrooms are moving to a different model where students don't have homework? Some classrooms post video lectures, which is the students' homework, and they spend the entire class period working on assignments...this is a flipped classroom, in case you're curious! Or, my personal favorite, instead of assigning tons of tedious problems out of a textbook, teachers assign students a project to work on over a period that incorporates the material, but also speaks to the students' varied interests...problem/project-based learning :) Lots of neat stuff that could be coming to classrooms in the foreseeable future...but none of my professors (besides my education professor, who doesn't even give us homework) prescribe to these learning theories and insist on giving us homework on homework on goes on, I suppose!

I've had lots of great times with friends! Over the past month, I've gone on a road trip to Tulsa to see our retreat friends, had a movie night beneath a table and blanket fort, had a massive birthday celebration, gone dancing, been to a couple of bonfires, and lots of other random fun stuff! Who would have known a year ago what good times would await me once I arrived here?! I'm glad I had faith and trusted that everything would be just fine!

I mentioned that Mimi fell, broke her femur, and had surgery last time. After spending a couple of weeks in rehab, she has since come home. (She was nowhere near ready, but you know how hospitals can be sometimes...) She is doing alright. Sometimes she has good days, and sometimes she has some not-so-good days. My mom and Aunt Pat spend at least 2-3 days a week with her. We were getting a little bit worried about her, but she surprised us all and perked up quite a bit on her big day on Tuesday! I guess I should clarify by saying that Tuesday was her 96th Birthday! We are all so blessed to see her make it this far, especially after the way this past year has gone for her. She received lots of phone calls, birthday cards, visitors, and social media love! The sweetest thing was watching my mom read off birthday wishes from her Facebook page and seeing Mimi's face light up at the mention of everyone's names. Each time Mom would mention someone, Mimi would say how much she loved that person and how kind it was for them to send her birthday wishes! By the end, Mimi told us that she couldn't believe how many people cared about her...quite the humble woman!
Emily's family with Mimi!

Love, love, love this picture of Mom and Dad with Mimi!!!

I also got a picture with the birthday girl :)

Let's see, other random fun stuff I've done...

Cody and Kyle spent the day with me on Wednesday, and we had a great day together! We started the day with our breakfast, made for us by Cody, who has taken a sudden interest in cooking! We made omelets, and they were REALLY good!! He pretty well made them by himself, although I still supervised some, and helped with the "tricky" sauteing the onions and mushrooms. Sometimes, letting kids cook and help with food preparation can be more time-consuming than just doing it by yourself, but really, how else will they learn? Also, many of my great memories from my childhood involved helping in the kitchen! 

If this isn't pure joy, then I'm not sure what is! :)

We capped off our day by watching Frozen!!!!!!!! I had not seen it yet, and literally EVERYONE (or it seemed like it, at least) at church had seen it and were absolutely obsessed! (Most of them had seen it multiple times!) So, with that in mind, I was hoping that it wouldn't be the let-down of the year, because that's always my luck! But it wasn't :) I watched it, and I am now in love with it and the music and all of the funny quotes!!! I love that it wasn't a typical princess movie, and the fact that both Anna and Elsa had their awkward moments that I could somewhat relate to :) Yep, I'm obsessed!!! (I may or may not have blown up my friend, Heather's, phone while watching it...)

So, do you wanna build a snowman?! :) That just doesn't get old...or Let It go!

I guess the last little bit of big news for right now is that.........


Not only is it my birthday, but it's my "golden birthday", as I'm 21 on the 21st!! :) My birthday could possibly be one of my favorite days of the year, if that explains my excitement at all! My day began wonderfully with my mom making me pancakes, which are my favorite breakfast food! I've also received multiple calls, texts, and Facebook wishes, all of which have made my day even better! As it stands, my plans for tonight are to hang out with my family and have a fish fry since it IS a Friday of Lent...#catholicmarchbirthdayprobs 

Tomorrow, I will be headed back to Stilly to celebrate with all of my church friends, plus Liz and Tonisha! We'll probably go out to a couple of places, but I don't foresee a bar crawl in my future! Also, Liz has already promised to be our designated driver, so we will be going home safely, in case you were concerned! I plan on keeping it moderate, so no worries!

Oh yeah, there actually is one last bit of good news--I procured summer employment working at the lake where I live :) That is exciting and a huge burden off my mind! I'll start sometime during April so that I will be trained for when it gets busier! All good things :) (Told you I'm obsessed with Frozen!) Hooray!

I suppose I'll end it here, and I hope that everyone is doing well, wherever you are! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ten on...Friday!

So...I really thought that I could get it together and have this post out on Tuesday, but that was obviously wishful thinking, as my week has taken a turn for the hectic side, as I'm assuming will be par for the course for the indefinite future! Here goes!

1. Last Thursday, Gina, Emily, Mom, and I went to a Tipsy Artist party in Enid for an early celebration of Mom's birthday. It was a little touch-and-go at first, as we arrived about ten minutes later than we planned, and the place was packed! We weren't able to find four seats next to each other, but we were able to find two sets of two seats relatively close to each other, so we settled for that. There were also some issues with the food situation at the event center, but we made the best of it and went on with life. Having never been to something like this, I had no idea of what to expect, but ended up having a great time! As you can see, all of our paintings turned out slightly different, but suit each of our unique personalities perfectly!

2. We had a great celebration for Mom's birthday on Sunday, even if her birthday was on Monday of this week. It was a great day, and we had great weather so that we didn't have to worry about all 5 big boys being cooped up all day! Gina and I made a couple pots of my crockpot lasagna, and it was a hit! Even better, we did all the work the night before so we didn't have lots of work to do on the day of! I have a great picture of Mom with all six boys with her cake, but, wouldn't you know, I haven't uploaded pictures and my camera is at home. Such is life, I'll have pictures of things on here one day!! Regardless, I am so blessed to be able to celebrate another year with my amazing mom and I'm glad that she had a great celebration!

3. "So, how are classes going, Amanda?" Usually, I am able to smile and give a pleasant outlook on my class situation and talk about how life is all sunny and grand and how I just adore my classes. (Disregard the run-on sentence there.) Not the case this semester. I'm over it, and my classes are hard! (Bear with me for a moment..) I'm learning about all kinds of ridiculous math that I am fairly certain I won't put into practice after I graduate, I rarely understand my homework, I feel like a total idiot in comparison with most of the people in my classes, and I spent inordinate amounts of my life in office hours just to understand said homework. I NEVER thought I'd say it, but I miss Calculus...and Differential Equations...and Linear Algebra...or any math class in which we explicitly learned mathematical operations. Okay, so maybe this is just the case for my Intro to Modern Algebra, Combinatorics, and History of Math courses, but still. Statistics is pretty anti-climactic, as I have already learned about everything we're learning now in my NOC Stat class. I like learning more about how to teach math in my Methods of Teaching class, also. So, not much great stuff from this end of my life, but there are more silver linings than I often realize. For example, all of my professors from my impossible math classes are incredibly nice guys who are very helpful when I go to them for help. They are all willing to assist me anytime I need anything, and usually do a pretty good job of doing so. I promise I'll make it! (If I could survive my monstrous Calc classes, I can do this! Just another challenge that I'll overcome! :) )

4. In saying how great my professors are, they're still human...and three of them decided to schedule tests yesterday. I know it isn't the case and I'm being dramatic, but it's like they met up and figured out the best way to cause me inordinate amounts of stress this week...hence me not getting a post up on Tuesday. I survived, as you can tell, and we'll see what happens!

5. One thing that has kept me anchored all week is the beautiful spring-like weather we have been having! It makes me happy to be able to leisurely walk between classes and not have to alter my route to go through buildings to avoid the polar-like temperatures! I also appreciate not having to wear umpteen layers of coats, scarves, and gloves just to walk across campus! I don't like my allergies that have flared up since our weather is being so bi-polar, but I'd rather have the sniffles and 60-degree weather than clear sinuses and weather in the single digits!

6. Another anchor for the week was the fact that Bill Nye gave a lecture here last night as part of our research week activities. I was really pumped up about it, but I may have given it a little too much hype. No, he didn't do any experiments, and they didn't play the Bill Nye theme song when he came on stage. Yes, he did wear a bow tie, which partially made up for this! I will preface this by saying that he is a fantastic public speaker, and he has an excellent presence. He is also really funny and really into sundials & coining his own words/expanding our vocabulary! (I.e. cerulescence-a bluish tinge, or plinth (a real word defining the base of a statue/monument/pillar)...good stuff!) I also loved hearing about his work on the Mars rover & as the chairman of the Planetary Society. I started to lose a bit of interest when his talk became political, and he began pontificating on how he thinks we should all vote/believe. I don't say this because I happen to disagree with some of his worldviews; I say this because I worry that he was taking advantage of his status to convince weak-minded college students who are ignorant of issues to take a certain stance without having the opportunity to see both sides of the issues he presented. Also, (don't berate me too much for this one...dare I even say it...) I think he's kinda overrated. Yep, I went there. I applaud him for introducing a generation of kids to the world of science and inspiring countless people to pursue careers in science & science-related fields and I respect him as a person, but I don't see how a guy with a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering has any real authority to pontificate on the world of science or politics. I'll leave it at that.

7. There's a TEC reunion this weekend, and I'm more excited than you realize to get to be around my TEC friends again! I can't wait to catch up with everyone and have some fun after this crazy, test-filled week!

8. So, I've been wanting to start running again to work on my New Year's goal of running a 10K this year. I haven't been motivated to start on this and I think it's been because my iPod was out of commission. I'm happy to say that it is fixed thanks to a local repair shop that fixes iPods, and I didn't have to haggle with anyone at the Apple store who probably would've tried to convince me to buy a new iPod, while mine just needed a tiny repair and is perfect for me otherwise. The weather is great, my iPod is fixed, and I think it's high time to start running again! We'll see how it goes!

9. I've been playing on a couple of intramural teams so far this semester, and it's been lots of fun. I've stuck with women's basketball & bowling and it's been great! No huge bruises or anything, just lots of fun with great people! :)

10. Possibly the biggest news from my week is that my Bible study leader/friend, Heather recruited me to lead our Bible study this week while she was working on some other things. It was such an amazing experience for me, and I had a beautiful chance meeting with a freshman girl at church who was really needing a little bit of spiritual guidance who happened to join us for our study! It's amazing how the Holy Spirit leads us to the people who need us the most! Never underestimate the Holy Spirit; I promise that is how pretty much all of the great things that happen in life happen! :)

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!!! :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

On CHDs and The Purpose of Life

Heart Disease. This phrase is thrown around so frequently that it has become pretty commonplace in our medical vocabulary. So many Americans are frequently diagnosed with some form of it, but I often feel as though it is downplayed due to advances in modern medicine that make this disease livable, to some extent. I’ll admit, as an almost twenty-one-year-old, it isn't always something that I (or most people my age) think about on a regular basis, as we still have the tendency to feel invincible and feel like something like that could never have an impact on our lives. I sometimes catch myself falling into the mindset that because I am healthy and able-bodied now, that I’ll always be that way, just like everyone else in my life.

Just about the time when I start sliding down that slippery slope, I realize that a long, healthy life isn’t promised to anyone, and I feel guilty when I remember a story that is directly connected to my own life. As I have shared previously, I have an older sister named Michelle who passed away not long after her second birthday, due to complications from a surgery due to a congenital heart defect. (Here is the link to the full story in case you're interested..)

The cold, hard fact is that heart disease is not something that only occurs in adults. It cannot always be attributed to the typical causes. More often than we realize, many of those diagnosed with heart problems are some of our youngest people. Congenital heart defects (CHDs) affect about 1% (approximately 40,000) of all children born in the US. Furthermore, there are still about one million US adults who still suffer from the effects of CHDs.1 In fact, congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect among children and most go undetected for quite some time. Hearing these figures might not sound that earth-shattering, but when your family is affected by that 1%, it is just that. It is tough to consider that there are no real risk factors or ways to completely prevent this from happening. So often, mothers just like my mom did everything right, and they still had a child diagnosed with a CHD, which could be the harshest part of this reality.

I've thought about it for quite some time, and I've always ended up with more theological questions than scientific questions. I often wondered why it is that these children and their families are given such a big cross to bear. I wondered what the purpose of this suffering is, and, most of all, I wondered why God called some of those with CHDs to come home to Him so soon, especially Michelle. I’m not sure if or when I’ll figure out the answers to these questions.

Perhaps this happens to show us that we aren't really in control, even when we think we are, or to strengthen our faith in God’s plan. Perhaps it is to remind us of the fragility of our own lives and to remind us not to fall into the mindset of invincibility. Maybe, just maybe, it happens to remind us that our lives are too short to live without purpose. There is a reason God put us on this earth, and it is our duty to discern just what it is that He wants us to accomplish while we’re here.

While I can’t say with complete certainty what my overall purpose is, I do believe that part of my purpose is to live out the life Michelle couldn't and raise awareness for her cause.

Sometimes, it seems a bit daunting to say something as definitive as that, but I know that we are often called to do what we think we are incapable of doing. Since I’m not sure where to start, how to go about doing anything bigger, and am not quite capable of making something big happen just yet, this is my first step. I encourage everyone to wear red on February 14th for this cause, and tell at least one person why. If I can raise awareness of congenital heart defects in at least one person, then I have accomplished this part of my goal. It's not much, but it's a start!

If you would like more information, or know someone who has been affected by this and could use another resource, here are a couple of links to organizations that are dedicated to helping children and families of CHD patients. 
Image used from this Website

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Math Homework Madness (and Other Fun Stuff)

I am back and finally caught up enough for the moment to take some time to talk about what I've been up to lately! Technically, I could just say that I've been doing math homework and leave it at that, but honestly, where's the fun in that? Also, if I have to think about my math homework any more than I already do, then my head just might explode!!! So, what have I been up to?

Well, as you probably guessed, I made it back to class last Monday and I am feeling 100% better! Truth be told, I felt fine by Thursday, but was forced to be quarantined until Monday-ish. I thought that I was going to lose my sanity if I had to be cooped up in my trailer for one more day by myself, so you could imagine how great it was to go home on Friday! I'm pretty sure I spent an inordinate amount of my sick time calling/texting people so that I could have some form of human contact! Let's just hope that if I ever get married and have children that I don't have to be put on bed rest!!! I will lose my sanity if that day comes! Sadly, even when I went home, I still stayed cooped up, but the only difference was that I was working on homework the entire time instead of watching movies, doing dishes or something to keep my mind occupied! I had a few...okay a LOT, of freak-outs thanks to my homework, and I spent an inordinate amount of time feeling stressed to the max. There was one point when Mom forced me to go outside to check the mail just so I would quit stressing about homework!

Thankfully, I felt well enough and finished my Tamiflu regimen by last Sunday so I could meet up with my friend Janey, who was the saintly friend she is and emailed me every set of notes and recordings from pretty much all of my classes! Then, I decided since I was well enough to go to the library to meet with her, I was well enough to go to Sunday student Mass :) There was no relief quite like being back around people!! So far, the only thing that remains from my illness are some sinus issues (i.e. a runny nose and a nasty-sounding cough), which really isn't that big of a deal! I also carried around boxes of Kleenex with me for the better part of last week, and I can now say that I've gone through at least 2 square boxes, which is an accomplishment, of sorts, for me!

I'm pretty sure I spent the majority of my free time between classes in my professors' office hours getting help on all of my homework, but it was all good because I gained a little bit more clarity on everything that was confusing me, and I was able to finish my assignments! Now that I'm caught up, I don't plan on getting behind any time in the foreseeable future!! (I also didn't plan on getting the flu, so we'll see how that one goes!) In one of the office hour sessions, I managed to become part of a study group, which I hope will be helpful when it comes time for future assignments and test preparation!

Since I've last posted, both Wyatt and my old roomie, Carissa, celebrated birthdays!! Wyatt's birthday party was this past weekend, and Gina decided to have it at our local YMCA. This worked quite well for everyone, and the kids LOVED getting to swim in the dead of the winter! I wished that I would have taken some pictures, but I didn't. I did get a great picture of Mom snuggling with Jakub, but I don't have my camera with me at the moment, so that'll have to wait for another day! (He is growing so much and really starting to get his true Jake look, which is basically the same way Wyatt & Andy looked at that age..)

Wyatt's birthday party was just one part of my overall-awesome weekend I had! I could detail every little thing I did, but I'll just give a list for brevity's sake :)
-I went to daily Mass (on Friday), which is something that I've come to love to do!
-Our missionaries hosted a Junior/Senior night to give us an idea of what their organization is about and everything that goes into becoming a missionary.
-We finally had another Contra Dance, and we were able to get lots of church friends to join us for the first time :)
-I spent a lovely evening catching up with my dear friend, Haley (from PLC) and further encouraging her to take the plunge by joining me at OSU next year! (I think she's going to do it!!! Hooray!!)
-Haley and I went on an excursion through town that led us to stalk down Liz at her work (Haley & Liz used to be co-workers, fyi.) and catch up with her :)
-We met Liz's new puppy, Sadie, and got to see Joe and Vickie, which is always a treat!
-I got to sleep in for once on Sunday morning!
-I had a wonderful lunch with Mom & Dad before heading back to Stillwater for Mass :)
-Student Mass & a Super Bowl watch party!

Yes, I was quite busy this weekend, but I wouldn't have had it any other way! Lots of great times with amazing people :)

Even better, I know that there are lots of good times awaiting me in the coming weeks, as we will soon be celebrating Mom's birthday, and there will also be a get-together for everyone who went on the TEC retreat a few weeks ago! I'm excited to see all of my new TU friends again!!!

I thought that I'd be reprieved from my school duties today with a snow day, but no such luck. The roads were pretty nasty coming into town this morning, which made my commute quite stressful for me. Supposedly the roads are passable, but I was worried about tomorrow morning's commute. Thank goodness for my awesome friends, Anna & Rebecca, who are opening up their apartment to me tonight so that I don't have to brave the roads in the morning; they are the best!!!

On a last note, Mimi took a spill yesterday while she was in town getting a few things before the snow came in. She ended up breaking her femur and had surgery on it today. Mom just informed that everything came out alright, so I am feeling a bit better about it than I did last night. After she stabilizes and heals a bit more, she'll be going into physical therapy sessions, which I know will aid in her recovery! If you think about it, say a few prayers for this wonderful woman, that she will have a speedy recovery! It would mean the world to both her and all of us! Thanks so much!!

Have a great week, and stay warm, wherever you are!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Second Semester Fun!

Wow, what a crazy last few weeks it has been!!! So many things have happened and I have no clue where to start!

I guess I’ll start with my new classes, because I have been pretty involved with them so far! I am in Intro to Modern Algebra, Methods of Teaching Secondary Mathematics, Combinatorial Math, Statistical Methods I, and History of Math. I am enjoying all of them for the most part, but they are a little bit more time-intensive than I thought they would be. I really love my Math History class…I never knew how interesting it would be to know about how ancient cultures did not have the mathematical capabilities we have today, but still managed to create amazing things! Regardless, it will be interesting to see what else I will learn this semester…hopefully I can keep my sanity in the process!

I realize that in posting about what I gave everyone else for Christmas, I never really posted about what I received, which is a bummer because everyone gave me some AMAZING gifts! I got some new, fun, and super warm scarves and an awesome gray cardigan that I wear with almost everything! I also received some delightful smelling lotions, a roasting pan, a baking dish,  and some Pyrex mixing bowls! While Emily was out shopping, she happened to find a copy of my favorite childhood book, “Sheep in a Jeep”. I was super excited to get that blast from the past!!! I also received some things that have been especially useful in the past week that I’ve started back to school. My parents gave me a new backpack because my old one was on its last leg. To be fair, I got it in the 6th grade, but really couldn’t use it in HS because they were banned, so it was in decent condition but was becoming very uncomfortable on my back. My new backpack is super comfy to carry and even has a laptop pocket in it! I love it! Also, since I always take my lunch, I finally got a lunchbox of my own! I am in love with it; it has a built-in icepack and it collapses once you’re done with it! Even better, I also got some nifty contraptions called Lunch Pouches, which are like Ziplocs, but are reusable, which I love, because I always ended up using a Ziploc for a sandwich just to toss it right as I was done with it. So far, I have used them for holding grapes & baby carrots, and they were awesome! I highly recommend them if you or anyone else in your life packs a lunch often!

Of course, I’ve spent loads of time around St. John’s, catching up with all of my awesome friends. Many of my friends went on a mission trip to Jamaica over break, and I have really loved getting to hear their various accounts of their experiences working as missionaries. All of these things were great, but I think the best thing I did over the past few weeks happened this past weekend. I went on a retreat with a few friends from church & some students from TU’s Newman Center, and I absolutely LOVED it! I haven’t been on a retreat in at least three years, but I’ve always loved them, so I was excited to go! This retreat had lots of levels to it, that can really only be understood if you were there, but it was definitely what I needed! My favorite part of the whole retreat was the fact that I was able to meet all of the awesome TU people who were there and grow even closer with everyone from St. John’s!

Unfortunately, on the last day of the retreat (Monday), I started to feel a bit off and my voice sounded pretty ragged. I assumed that it was an allergic reaction from spending lots of time outside and the constant contrast between hot and cold weather. Well, by the time we made it back to Stillwater, I felt like death, but decided to go home, take some Advil, and get some sleep so I could go to class in the morning. I must’ve had a fever that broke through the night, because I woke up sweating and felt really weak. I really didn’t want to, but I decided to go to class. I have three classes on Tuesdays, and they are at 9:00, 10:30, and 2:00. I suffered through the first two classes then decided to throw in the towel and go to the Minor Emergency Clinic. I thought that I’d be able to get back to class in time, but by the time I got there and saw the huge line I knew that that wasn’t happening. I could have just gone back to class, but I felt even worse than I did the day before, and I couldn’t imagine walking across campus and being coherent enough to make it through my last class. I waited about three hours to be seen, but I was too tired and weak to be upset. As it turns out, I have Influenza, Type A and have to be quarantined until next Monday. Blech. I mean, I wasn’t ready to go back to class, but I didn’t really want to go about it this way!! On the upside, I came in soon enough that I was still able to start the Tamiflu regimen, so hopefully I’ll get over everything much sooner!

So, I sound pretty pessimistic about everything, but really, I am so incredibly blessed right now! I have the most amazing people in my life who have done so much for me, and I really couldn’t ask for more! You see, one of my friends who went on the retreat with me wasn’t feeling up to par, and she felt responsible for getting me sick. (I honestly think it was going to happen regardless and don’t hold anything against her!) Last night, she brought over a care package of flowers, cough drops, Day-Quil, Advil, Kleenex, and chicken noodle soup! How sweet it that!! My friend Lisa told me that if I needed any groceries while I’m stuck at home that she’d be more than happy to wrangle some people to help her get that together and out to me! My friend Janey offered to take notes for me in our classes, and Anna was sweet enough to turn in some homework to my professors’ mailboxes last night! Being that Gina works in Perry and was relatively nearby, she made a Wal-Mart run for me and brought back a horde of supplies for me. Even more, I also received lots of calls, texts, and well wishes from Emily, my parents, and my church friends. Very, very, very blessed indeed!!!!! Here’s hoping I’ll be able to keep up with everything and be on the fast road to recovery!

On a last note, I want to wish my best friend in the whole wide world, Tonisha a very, very, very Happy 21st Birthday!!!! I hope that she has had an amazing day, and I am REALLY hoping that I’ll be in much better condition two months from now so that we can celebrate together!!! Love ya, Tonisha!!!

Hope everyone has a great, healthy week! Love you guys!!