Monday, February 16, 2015

Update, Part I: Student Teaching

Hello! I'm back! 

I have a feeling that my loyal readers have come to the understanding that it is perfectly normal for me to have month-long gaps between posts and not think anything of it, or at least I hope they have! Oh my, so much has happened since the last time I posted and so many things have happened since last time. I have no idea where to begin...maybe if I didn't go for so long, I wouldn't be in this boat...food for thought. 

I think I'll split my update into a couple of different posts because I have so much to say about everything and want to organize it better, where I don't have one excessively long post! 

I'll dedicate this post solely to my adventures in student teaching, because I'm sure I left off on quite the apprehensive note last time! 

It seems crazy to me that I'm coming into my seventh, (7th), SEVEN-th week student teaching. I feel like I just got there, now I'm almost halfway done! What?! Before I know it, I'll be graduating and getting a real job. Yikes...let's not get ahead of ourselves, though! I can easily say that I've grown exponentially within the past seven weeks. When I began, I was honestly intimidated by my students and generally everyone. I felt like a little girl on the first day of kindergarten. Now, I'm teaching an entire unit on exponential and logarithmic functions to all four sections of Algebra II. Wow. I always thought my professors were crazy when they told us how intense student teaching would be. I always figured that if I could make it through Number Theory, for Heaven's sake, then student teaching would be a cinch. Well, in some ways it is, because I at least understand the math I'm doing now, and I honestly find it to be really fun :) I'm also doing what I set out to do all along, so that helps quite a bit. However, if we're being completely honest, I had NO idea what I was about to get myself into! Student teaching is intense, crazy, sometimes stressful, and sometimes as mentally taxing as my hard proof classes were. I think the craziest part of all is figuring out how to be a teacher while still technically being a student. 

My cooperating teacher is wonderful and generally a wealth of knowledge for me. She is very level-headed, kind, and helpful! She is wonderful about giving me constructive feedback on my lessons and guiding me to get better at teaching. She, herself, is an incredible, well-versed teacher who is also incredibly well-respected by her peers and students alike. She definitely is someone to look up to and try to model my future classroom and career after. I definitely hit the jackpot when I ended up being under her guidance this semester!!! 

I enjoy my students quite a good deal. They are good people who I'm sure will do good things in the world after high school, or at least I hope they will! I'm finding it interesting to learn how each class has a certain sort of dynamic about it. It's also fascinating to see which of my students from one class are friends with students from another class, or even more so, which students are dating or have a crush on one another! Oh high school relationships...how quickly I forgot about them! Looking back, I find it hard to understand how most people can go through their high school years blindly assuming that they have found "the one" at their high school when they are young and really haven't gone out into the world to see who else is out there! (Obviously, there are cases that do work, but I wish that they could see just how much of life they still have to live and not to settle for some mediocre imitation sort of relationship!) I love hearing the funny things my students say, and sometimes the funny things they put on their homework/quizzes/tests. They have definitely taught me that a sense of humor and flexibility are two of the most important things a high school teacher can bring to the table! Most of them call on me for assistance during class now and often acknowledge me in the hallways. I find some sort of unexpected joy from being called Ms. Hladik, even if I still find it bizarre! Then again, I feel like I'm at the beginning of what could eventually be a laundry list of my aliases...going from just plain Amanda, to Aunt Amanda, to Miss Amanda (when I taught Sunday school), now Ms. Hladik, and who knows what other names await me in the future!

Of course, actually being in the classroom is only about half of what I'm supposed to do this semester. If I just had to worry about being responsible for the classroom aspect of it, I'd be golden. Unfortunately, I still have GADS of tasks to do for OSU. Yuck. The biggest, most all-encompassing thing on my plate is what they call the edTPA. It is an assessment of my ability to successfully teach content to students and make a change in their knowledge and learning. It is comprised of three tasks. The first is easily the worst, as it requires the most "stuff". I had to write three extremely detailed lesson plans, supply the readers with images of all materials used for said lessons, supply the readers with copies of all assignments and quizzes that were provided to my students, AND complete a five-part commentary on my planning process. The second task requires me to film myself teaching and select a 10-15 minute clip, then complete a commentary reflecting on ways I could improve. The final part requires me to analyze student scores on pre- and post-assessments, as well as select three student work samples on which I gave detailed feedback. Also there's a commentary corresponding to this part too, surely you made that leap in logic, though! The trickiest part is the fact that I needed to get permission from my students' parents for them to be potentially included in my video and/or student work sample, since they are minors. Thank goodness, only one student's parent did not give me permission, and it really wasn't the end of the world! Even so, it was something else to worry about!

The craziest part of the edTPA is that you have to be prepared to collect and/or prepare materials for all three tasks simultaneously, but are given ample time afterward to fully complete the commentary for the last two tasks. Needless to say, this provided a lot of stress for me over the past couple of weeks, but I'm finally making headway. Also, at one of our Saturday school sessions, I found out that I was way ahead of most everyone else and that I was doing just fine! It was definitely the reassurance I needed after stressing myself almost to the point of oblivion!! I am almost completely finished with Task I, and have completed about half of Tasks II and III. I'm content with that for the time being! 

Now, I am currently soaking up the joy of having a day off because of snow...technically school was already cancelled for today due to teachers' meetings, but we also got a reprieve on the meeting part! What a deal! :) Here's hoping I can hold onto my sanity through the rest of the semester and hopefully get around to posting more than once every seven weeks! 

Keep your eyes peeled for another fun post soon! :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas Break Relaxation

Hello all! It turns out that even when I do have "more time", I still don't have as much time as I think I do...oops! I feel like this busy-ness is just the beginning, and I only have more of this to anticipate in my future! I have a few spare moments, so I let you know what adventures I've been up to over Christmas break!

Lately I feel like I've been experiencing a few unexpected costs due to my things needing to be replaced or updated. First it was my laptop, then, a mere day into Christmas break, my cell phone screen died. In all fairness, my phone was 4.5-ish years old, which is probably archaic in the world of technology, but was still serving me just fine. Needless to say, I am now the proud owner of my very first (yes, you read that correctly) smartphone! The first day or so was a bit overwhelming, just because I wasn't used to having a fancy phone, but I've since adjusted and am generally loving it! I fear that unexpected costs will be a trend for the rest of my life...remind me why I wanted to be a "grown-up" again? ;)

Knowing that I'll have to hit the ground running this semester, I've consciously decided to spend more of this Christmas break relaxing so that I'm not so amped up when I go back to student teach. On the whole, it has worked well for me! It's nice not having to worry about homework, writing math proofs (Yuck.), or anything school-related! I've loved having most of my days without much of an agenda; it is quite refreshing after I practically ran myself ragged last semester!!! I've been able to spend time with family and friends, which I really appreciate! Yes, this is the life!

In the midst of this relaxation, I realized that Christmas was sneaking up on me much sooner than I expected and that I needed to get going on shopping and other preparations. Thankfully, the adults in my family played Dirty Santa for our gift exchange, which helped me to streamline gift buying by only really having to focus on gifts for my nephews and one gift for the game! It was a nice change of pace, in my opinion. As far as our Christmas celebrations go, we kept things pretty simple this year. Of course, we had Mass at 7 PM on Christmas Eve. Sadly, Mimi's back was hurting her this year, so we didn't get to have our traditional Christmas Eve celebration with her...sad day :( After Mass, Mom and I scrambled to start finish wrapping presents before everyone came over the next morning! We had a nice brunch with everyone...there was something about the simplicity of it that was quite nice! After Gina and Emily left to visit their in-laws, Mom, Dad, and I went over to visit Mimi, which really brightened everyone's day!

In case you're wondering, Mimi is doing alright, although it is becoming more and more apparent that she is almost 97. She still stays at home by herself, but my mom and her siblings stop in more frequently to ensure that her medicine is set out, that she has food that is easily accessible/ample groceries, and to drive her to doctor's appointments/church/out and about. Yes, Mimi decided that she doesn't want to drive anymore, and it was probably best that that decision came from her instead of Mom and my aunts & uncle having to force her into it. She is still in good spirits and loves having people come visit, but she has definitely slowed down considerably, as could probably be expected. She had a couple of short stints in the hospital over the past couple of months, just because she was experiencing stroke symptoms and everyone wanted to make sure she was fine. (She was, actually, but better safe than sorry!) Currently, Mimi is experiencing some back problems, which we feared may have been a compression fracture, but she has been reporting less pain in recent days, so we just take it as it comes. Last Sunday, Mom and her siblings, plus their spouses, all went over and had a nice lunch with Mimi, just the nine of them. I think it did wonders in helping her feel better!

Believe it or not, I start student teaching on Monday. Yikes, that's scary!! I don't really want to think about it, but I know I need to, or at least get a really good look at the material we'll be covering on Monday morning. This is going to be quite interesting for me...just weeks after feeling like I'm fully capable of doing anything and just really being ready to be done with traditional classes, I now feel like the little kid who's afraid to go to kindergarten. I suppose we weren't made to feel comfortable at all times, and we learn the most from these situations. Either way, I'm nervous and would appreciate any and all prayers you could muster for me and my fellow student teachers this semester!!!!!

Last, but most definitely not least, is Thomas! I'll be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to spending a month apart from him...okay, I'm still not a fan of being away from him, but hear me out...if we're being perfectly honest, it hasn't been quite as bad as I thought it might be. Believe it or not, we've actually become closer in this time apart than we might have had we spent the whole first month of our relationship together. It seems crazy to say this, but I'm starting to believe it. You see, we talk on the phone pretty much every night for hours on end, probably much to our families' chagrin, just about our days, our plans for the next day, and really just our lives in general. We've had lots of AMAZING conversations, and it never ceases to amaze me how wonderful of a person he is and how lucky I am to get to share my life with him! I have never experienced anything remotely close to this in any relationship, and I'm so glad that I held out for him! He values time with me, whether it be in person or over the phone, he pursues my heart, he keeps me accountable and helps me to be a better person in general, and most of all, he genuinely just cares about me as a person. As my loyal readers know, I've been all over the place on relationships in the past, especially as of late, but this is hands-down the best relationship I've ever been in...no one even comes close to comparing to Thomas! I am so incredibly, infinitely, undeservingly, amazingly blessed! Honestly, I think that all couples should have to spend some time apart where they have to make a conscious effort to make the relationship work...it really is a make or break situation! We've both become even better at communicating with each other, by which I mean that we don't just assume that since we're talking to each other, we're communicating. We ask questions, we listen, we keep each other in the loop of what's happening on our respective ends, and, more than anything, we're honest with each other. It's quite refreshing, to say the least! With all of that being said, I am patiently awaiting next Saturday when we will be reunited after spending a month apart!!! As great as our phone conversations have been, I still can't wait to see him face-to-face! :) I could keep gushing, but I'll spare you the rest of my mushy ramblings!

Soon enough, I'll get around to posting about some high points of 2014 and some goals for 2015, but not right now. I hope everyone is having a great 2015 so far!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

End of Semester Fun Times!

I am finally free from the confines of this semester so I can return to the slow-paced life that I love so much! So many wonderful things have happened since last time, so I can't wait to fill you in!!!

I'll begin with Thanksgiving! (Why yes, it has been that long. I know.) I was extremely excited to come home and escape the craziness of school! Just before Thanksgiving, I had a final in my Geometry class, and I spent inordinate amounts of time working on a final project for my Math Modeling class. It was great to take a breather :) I'm happy to report that I was able to finish typing up my report over that break, and it took me ONLY five hours to do so! It was a twenty-three page mathematical report with more difficult equations than I ever care to type out in one setting again. Also, formatting was a bear. If you ever wondered why math textbooks were so expensive, I can tell you why...typesetting is a nightmare! It is hard work!!! Nonetheless, I finished it!

Also, just before Thanksgiving, one of my good friends from church, Stefano, who was a Master's student from Italy, bid us farewell. He was such a kind, joyful soul, and we were sad to tell him goodbye. On the upside, we did have lots of great celebrations in his honor! His official farewell party entailed he and our other Italian, Andrea cooking pasta for us! (Authentic Italian cooking is so good...it's also much simpler than one might imagine!) Also, the next day, a bunch of us took Stefano to lunch at Eskimo Joe's so that he could eat his favorite American foods (hamburgers & french fries) for one last time! It was a great day, and he is missed!
L-R: William, Celeste, Stefano, Kevin, Rebecca, me, Andrea
At home, we had a couple of celebrations for Thanksgiving. On the day of, Mom, Dad, and I made a large pot of chicken noodle soup and brought Mimi over for a simple afternoon meal with her favorite chocolate pudding dessert! It brightened everyone's day greatly! Then, on the Saturday after, we had our feast with Gina & Emily's families, which was absolutely spectacular! Everyone fell into a food coma afterwards...minus me and Cody. Jakub was in rare form that night, as he ran around having a grand time running and climbing everywhere! What a kid! The next day, we had a small birthday celebration for Kyle, who is now eight. At his request, we had a breakfast party with breakfast burritos and a turtle cheesecake for his cake! Kyle was in heaven with his party!
Yes, Cody is almost as tall as me...I now feel old and short ;)
I'm pretty sure I have multiple pictures of Kyle & me like this...love this kid!
Little did I know that when I returned to school that so much would happen in a span of two weeks. Everything that happened in that time made everything else this semester worth it, if you can believe that! I'll begin with the obvious school portions. I was completely done with Geometry (hence the aforementioned final), and was basically done with Math Modeling and Wine Tasting. As it turned out, there was still one more part to my report that our professor never really mentioned until then, but I figured it out thanks to my ability to create Excel spreadsheets that do the hard math for me...and friends who helped me create said spreadsheets :) For Wine Tasting, my group was supposed to give a final presentation that we ended up not presenting thanks to our professor who wanted to leave early that night and emailed it to him instead! One less thing to worry about! I was a little bit overwhelmed by all that I had to do for Methods because I (and everyone else in our class for that matter) had royally procrastinated because of the volume of everything else we had to do in our other classes. Also, my lack of a computer for 2 weeks didn't help matters. I had a couple of late nights, but I finally finished everything this past Thursday...Hallelujah! There was a group presentation for my SPED class for which I was generally not as prepared, if only because I was putting out small fires everywhere else for other classes. Thanks to my group members for being champs and not holding that against me, because that class really wasn't one of my biggest priorities this semester. Which brings me to Number Theory. Ugh. We covered new material up until the last class before finals week started. We also had a homework assignment due that day, which left little to no time to work on studying anything. (I also struggled with time-management for a little bit.) Needless to say, I was slightly less than prepared for the final, which was at 10 AM this past Monday. (I'm still not sure how I felt about having a hard final right away.) Throughout the test, I calculated estimated grades on everything, and once I knew that I had accomplished enough to pass after wracking my brains trying to figure out everything else, I threw in the towel. (Yes, this is one of my favorite parts of being a math major...no shame.) At first, I thought I received a C for the class, which would have been my first, and at that point, I really didn't care because I was just happy to have survived that class. However, by some miracle, I received a B!!! I'm not even sure how or why, but I'm not questioning it! Someone along the way had a little bit of mercy on me and a few of my classmates, and we're glad they did!!!

Another great part of this two-week span was that I FINALLY received my student teaching placements! It wasn't where I assumed I would go, but I'm really happy that I'm there! (Yeah, I'm gonna have to be vague from here on out...sorry!) Upon first receiving news of it, I was told by multiple sources that I'd love my experience with my cooperating teacher. After finally chatting with her via email, I was convinced that I'd enjoy working with her! I observed in her classroom all day yesterday, and I think that I'm really going to enjoy my experience next semester. She's a great teacher who makes things look much easier than they are, but she also has great advice and insight into the profession of teaching. Her students are generally well-behaved and respectful, so we can only hope that that will carry over to my time teaching! :) I'm impressed with the school itself, as it is neat, tidy, and welcoming! I'm much less fearful about next semester!!!!!

Speaking of teaching, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other math education people who have really become like another family to me...maybe slightly dysfunctional, but a family nonetheless :) We've walked together through all of our hard classes: Modern Algebra, Combinatorics, Number Theory, Math Modeling, and of course all of the Methods classes! We started off not knowing much about each other, but here we are about to start the same adventure of student teaching! We've laughed, cried, complained, and lived our lives together. Especially this semester, we've gotten to know each other on a personal level and have built a community. We've shared embarrassing stories from our youth, we've shared meals, we've shared our time in listening to each others' problems/life stories, we've done a lot together. We even have a couple in our midst...I love Janey and Andrew together!!! After our last final together on Monday, we went to Fuzzy's for snacks and margaritas (or pop for Janey, Andrew, and Viktoria) and to the finals week pancake party at the Union. We laughed harder than ever and had great times before going our separate ways! I never thought I'd find myself actually knowing and investing time in my classmates, but I'm so glad I did! Love these crazy folks!!!
The crazy math kids!
Front Row (L-R): Me, Amanda M., Josh
Back Row (L-R): Janey, Andrew, Maria, Viktoria, Jim
So, what else could have possibly happened during this two week span? I mean, I finished my classes, I got little sleep, I received placement for next semester, AND I had a blast with my math friends, what else could have possibly happened? Just wait, there's more!!!

Oh yeah, OSU won Bedlam in a miraculous victory that essentially redeemed our less-than-stellar season AND made us bowl-eligible! (Who cares if it's only the Cactus Bowl...at least it's a bowl game!) What a night!!!!!

Well, going back to that Sunday when I returned from break, something unexpected happened. I was asked on a date for Friday night by my good friend Thomas. Okay, in typing that, it doesn't seem that unexpected, BUT at that point, he was one of my good friends who I had never quite seen in that light, but thought was a wonderful person. On a whim, I said yes! I was terrified in doing so, because I wasn't quite sure what would happen, but something about it seemed right. Throughout the next day, I became increasingly excited! There was a long string of crazy events that happened between Monday and Thursday that I'd rather not delve into here and now, but I'll suffice to say that I have never been more ready for a Friday than I was last week!

We went out to eat and spent the remainder of our evening sitting and talking beneath the stars at Boomer Lake in town (the weather wasn't too bad that night), and we had an amazing time together. It was then and there that we decided to go for it and start dating each other!!!!! :) We have been dating for a week now, and I am continually in awe of how wonderful he is and how great of a fit we are for one another. I am humbled by God's faithfulness to both of us by bringing us together when both of us were very frustrated by love. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I could find such happiness with another person, let alone him, but sometimes, two people just click, and that has definitely been the case for Thomas and me!!! The timing of everything was more perfect than either of us could have imagined. So, for a few facts about him, he is a junior studying Agribusiness and is from a suburb of Dallas. Yes, I am dating a man who is both younger than me AND a Texan...I never thought that either of those things would happen! :) He is incredibly kind, respectful, funny, chivalrous, intelligent, Godly, and yes, handsome! We're both pretty bummed out that just after starting to date one another we have to spend a month apart, but honestly, it's just a month, which is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. Also, we're excited to build our communication skills and get to know each other even better on that level before we both return to Stilly. He is nothing like what I envisioned my next boyfriend would be, but at the same time, he is. He is the embodiment of all that I've wanted in a man, and I cannot wait to see where life will take us!
Yes, we did plan to wear tacky Christmas sweaters together...and it was Thomas's idea :)
This is a better picture of Thomas's smile :)
And yes, he is willing to take crazy, fake sorority girl pictures with me...I hit the jackpot!
So, there you have it, the full update on my life! Here's hoping you all are doing well!!! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fighting Back the Craziness of Life! (A November Update)

Hello! I was trying to get better about NOT posting with one month gaps in between, but I think my life has been a little too chaotic for that to happen, so here it is. Sigh...one day I'll get my life together, but for now, it is what it is.

Homecoming came and went with a bang, and it was such a great, vibrant week on campus! Alas, I didn't get a picture with the orange fountain, but life goes on. In typical Oklahoma fashion, the weather was unexpectedly hot after a week of semi-cool weather, which made for fun times in the t-shirt sales booth where Rebecca and I were expected to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt as a marketing tactic! Thankfully, the tent was shady and it wasn't too hot for us...it was ninety degrees that day! I had the pleasant surprise of sharing part of the day with Liz, who happened to come up to visit for the day with some of her coaching friends. All in all, it was a great day, even if we lost miserably. Football season hasn't been too kind to us this year; here's hoping basketball season goes much better!

Some of us at Walkaround!
L-R: Stefano, Andrea, Roz (Rebecca's awesome roommate!), me, William
L-R: Catherine, Andrea, Roz, me, William, Maria, Stefano
Me and my Math Ed friend, Janey! (It was great to see her outside of our natural habitat :) )
Me and Liz!!!
I thought that I wasn't going to participate in any intramural sports this year because I was too busy, but I changed my mind when Rebecca decided to get a women's volleyball team together! The fact that I have never played this intramural sport was the main selling point...also, I pretty well knew how volleyball was played so, for once, I didn't have the excuse of not knowing how to play! I was just not very good at it, but it's okay, because we play for fun, not to win :) Also, I'd love to mention that I was pretty good at serving, and I wasn't completely terrible at the game, either! So, to all the girls in sixth grade who told me that I couldn't play volleyball, I guess you were wrong! Somehow, we made it to the playoffs, but we didn't make it past the first game. All in all, it was a great season!

During homecoming week, my friend Mari had the great idea to have an Oktoberfest party at church! What started as a small gathering turned into a huge church-wide party! :) We made it a potluck, and no one disappointed! Mari made her family's traditional recipes for wiener schnitzel, Fr. Stuart made spaetzel, Rebecca made applesauce with Austrian crumb topping, and I made kolaches and bierox! Of course, there were LOTS of other yummy treats! It was a great night with great people!
My Bible Study girls all made it to Oktoberfest!!!!
L-R: Me, Emily, Sierra, Maria, Haley, and Lauren!
We also celebrated baby Jakub's first birthday! He had a great day and a fun puppy-themed party! He was a bit tentative about breaking into his little cake at first, but once Gina took it off of the platter, he didn't waste any time getting into it! He is growing up so, so quickly, and before I know it, he'll be two! He really wasn't that impressed with opening birthday presents, but that's really something that comes with age, I suppose. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

The traditional 1st Birthday puppy cake!


Mr. Jakub was pretty content after eating his mini cake :)

Sometime after then, my world has progressively became more and more stressful/confusing/exhausting. What started my whole senior year mini-crisis was the fact that our beloved Dr. J., the math teaching methods professor, announced that she will be retiring this January. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement deluxe, as she was supposed to be our faculty supervisor during student teaching next semester and has gone through the journey of the last year with all of us and knows us personally. I'm sure going to miss her; however, I cannot blame her for wanting to retire...she has a whole family waiting for her up in Oregon, and she deserves the break! She also informed me during a conversation just afterward that it would be in my best interest to consider getting my Master's from somewhere other than OSU. She also told me that it might be a good option to consider teaching high school math for at least one year before moving on to other career paths. Hearing these things after learning of her retirement put me into a state of near-hysteria. Adding insult to injury, as I was walking back to my vehicle after that conversation, I overheard the band playing the song "Time to Say Goodbye"...the irony wasn't lost on me. Life goes on, and I've also taken into to consideration some of what Dr. J told me...more on that in a sec!

On that note, classes have been, of course, crazy. I perpetually have stuff to do, and I've accepted that. The next three weeks are going to be absurd, but they're slowly getting less stressful, so long as I keep plugging away at everything. I'm basically done with things for Geometry and Wine Tasting and I'm on the verge of being done with things for my SPED class. We'll get it figured out sooner or later. Number Theory is ridiculous, if only because our professor gives us 25-problem homework sets that are mostly proof-based. That doesn't sound that bad in theory, but it's way too much. Ugh. One day, I'll look back at this time and laugh about how bad I thought things were! :)

On a related happy note, I passed Portfolio Submission II with flying colors! I'm on the fast track to receiving placements, which is another part of this endless update...I'll get there in a few!

Fun fact: Rebecca and I went up to Wichita last weekend to visit convents. Neither of us is really considering becoming a nun, but it was a fun little overnight road trip! Also, we visited Tonisha while we were in the neighborhood, so to speak! It was great to visit her on her home turf, since she's usually the one to come visit Oklahoma! After we got back, I added to the list of dances I've learned this year by attending the OSU Salsa Ball! :) I went with my great friend Viktoria from my math classes, and we had a blast! Let's see what types of dancing I've learned this year: Two-stepping (I learned fancier techniques than just standard two-stepping), Polka, East Coast Swing, the Charleston, Contra, Salsa, Cha-cha, Petengue, and Merengue. The Latin varietals are still a little bit rough, but I've learned a little bit! What a year! :) Now to learn ballroom dances like the waltz, the foxtrot, and a few others! (Once again, shout out to the girls in grade school who said I couldn't dance :) ) It was a crazy weekend, but it was topped off by another great occurrence...my dear friend Katie visited! It was lovely to see her again, as she moved to Ohio back in July. Life is treating her well, and she is preparing to move to Chicago! I'm so happy that I was able to chat with her for a short while and soak in the joy she exudes!!

So yes, lots of great things happened, but some not-so-great things also happened. Shortly after Dr. J made her announcement, I went to open up my computer one morning and it flat-out wouldn't turn on. I tried a few obvious things, but nothing solved the problem. This was the point I took it to Best Buy for some diagnostics that were beyond my capabilities. The prognosis was that my motherboard was bad. I never realized how much I used my laptop until I couldn't use it. I also never realized how much we use technology/computers for school until I didn't have one at my disposal. We really take stuff like that for granted...we also rely on them WAYYY too much! I really feel bad for anyone who doesn't have the means to have a laptop of their own during college. Living without a laptop/tablet in school is not impossible, but it poses a specific challenge that few really understand. In all reality, my laptop dying wasn't too implausible, as it was 3.5 years old, and I have used and abused it. I was really hoping that it'd get me through college and I could buy a new one upon graduating, but such is life. I found a good deal at Best Buy, of all places, and I'm now writing this post on my new laptop! :)

I started this past week with the excitement of receiving my new laptop, but that excitement dissipated throughout the week. The day after getting my laptop, I was walking to work from my parking lot, and I have to cross a major intersection through a crosswalk. I was running a little bit late for various reasons, so I was moving at a decent clip to catch the light and avoid waiting an additional three minutes for the next one. (I was five-ish minutes late as it was.) I happened to dig out my cold-weather boots that day which leave me a little more clumsy-footed than usual, and somehow, I caught my toe in a crack in the sidewalk. Recall that I was moving with purpose, and how physics works, and you can guess what happened next. SPLAT! I was flat on my face in the middle of the crosswalk, knees and palms stinging from the burn of the freezing asphalt, and my ego largely deflated. I picked myself up quickly so as to avoid any further embarrassment and getting ran over and fought back the urge to cry, since I potentially had to work with students. (No one came in that day, thank goodness!) After my shift, I went to class and had a small spat with a friend, which was mostly residual from my edginess from my fall that morning. (Not my finest hour.)

The day was on the upswing until I ran out to my car to get something and noticed a large puddle beneath it. I mentally retraced my steps from when I parked that morning and couldn't recall a pre-existing puddle in the parking spot. Oh no. Well, after a while of waiting to check that it really was my car, I called on William, the farm boy who is good with mechanical things, to examine the situation. I am really grateful for him being there in that moment, because he diagnosed that I had a leak somewhere in my radiator and the puddle was antifreeze. Lovely. I called my dad to see what we needed to do, and I ended up driving it as far as I could before it almost overheated, which was where Dad picked me up. I've been driving Mom's car ever since, which has been a huge blessing! I was determined that Wednesday would be good, which it was until I went home that evening and found out that the heat tape on my water line came unplugged and my pipes were frozen. Lovelier. I figured out how to thaw it and went on with the evening.

The next day, I noticed extremely low water pressure and then noticed leaks from beneath my trailer. Also, the heater wasn't working too well and it was twenty-ish degrees outside. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I was about at my wit's end when I called my mom crying hysterically, and we got a game plan with my dad who was coming with the car trailer to retrieve my truck that day anyway. We threw around lots of tentative plans of things we could do, worst-case-scenario-wise. I went to class and figured that things would be sorted out by the end of the day. We were right, and in the best way possible! My heater wasn't working due to an non-functioning converter, which is part of the electrical interface of my trailer, so my dad replaced it and now everything is working beautifully! As far as the water leak goes, apparently, there is some sort of overflow feature in my water tanks, and the "leak" was due to the tank being full. I don't completely understand the mechanics of it, but crisis averted! My life has been made much simpler!

Oh yeah, in the midst of everything else, I had student teaching placements/next year figured out until I found out that there was a communication error and the school was looking for a science teacher, not a math teacher. The moral of this story is that I have no clue what to expect from life these days and very little of what life throws at me surprises me anymore. Contrary to what one might imagine, I haven't turned into a cynical grump as a by-product, but I've become even more reliant on God to provide for me, which he always does, and so beautifully at that! Between my parents and all of my friends who provided help and general moral support, I have been abundantly blessed! I mean, I had moments when I felt like I had been forgotten/forsaken/ready to go hibernate all winter, but faith pulls you through even the roughest of weeks, and here's hoping that I'll have a series of small wins throughout this week...I'm not expecting everything to be perfect, but surely most anything will be better than last week!!!

As far as the long-term goes, I'm not even that concerned about what will happen in that arena...with that being said, I'm being open to ALL possibilities that will be on the table as I prepare to enter the workforce next year, even if it means throwing my original plans out the window. It has taken lots of time in prayer and just thinking about everything for me to find this peace, but it is really freeing to not know what I'm going to do and just wait and see what opens up for me!
Good things have to be in store for me on all ends, right?

On a related note, yesterday was Rebecca's 21st birthday, and we had a great little celebration at everyone's favorite local pub! It was a great day :)
Rebecca and me!
I also found a heads-up nickel while walking over to work today...I think everything will be just fine after all :) Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Classes, Group Projects, and Other Fun Stuff

It's been a while since I've updated my blog. What can I say? My life is fifty kinds of crazy right now, as it has more or less been since I last posted. If you're wondering what life is like for a senior in college, it is ridiculously crazy and sometimes I feel like I'm perpetually running from place to place, obligation to obligation. It's a crazy life, but it's mine, and I wouldn't trade it for the world! Let's see what adventures I've been on since last time...

I'll start by telling you ALL about my classes, because that has been consuming the bulk of my time this semester! First off, for anyone who thinks that taking 17 hours during their last (technical) semester of college is a great idea, let me give you some advice: don't be a hero! (Unless Wine Tasting class is an option...then you should go for it!) I've officially gone through my first round of tests, and made it out relatively unscathed...Number Theory was a little bit rough, but I'll take what I can get in there! My SPED class is pretty good, although I feel like I'm constantly doing lots of tedious assignments that consume more time than they should. I'm almost done with my service learning project, which will be a huge relief, if only for the fact that I'll be getting a little bit more time back to do other things! Number Theory is a struggle. I hate writing math proofs. I'm not good at them, and I'm ready to just be done with this class! I feel the same way about Geometry, but to a lesser extent. Math Modeling isn't too bad, and we've moved on to a much easier new project. So far, I've enjoyed working with both groups that I've been a part of...even better, this time around, I think I'll actually be able to contribute something useful to this project! Hallelujah! My Methods class is just fine, as usual, although we're starting to get pretty busy assignment-wise. In order to prepare us for next semester, Dr. J is having us do a mock version of our huge student teaching project so we won't feel totally blindsided next semester! It's a little stressful now, but I know I'll thank her in a few months! As always, Wine Tasting is perfect :) We've now tried Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Gewurztraminer varietals. Out of those, I preferred the Riesling and Gewurztraminer the most...what can I say, I'm a sucker for sweet white wines! We're moving to red varietals this week, so I'm pleasantly awaiting those!

Fun fact: in all of these classes EXCEPT Geometry, I have group projects to coordinate. It is utterly exhausting and incredibly difficult to coordinate. The only good thing in this sore spot is that I have wonderful group members all around! Another thing that has consumed the majority of my energy as of late is my Education Portfolio submission II, which is due in about 2 weeks. It's not hard, but it basically requires me to go through all of my assignments from the past year or so and find ones that align with both our program's core values and Oklahoma's general competencies for educators. It's an arduous process that caused me to spend most of this past Saturday in exile. By the grace of God, I only have 2 more artifacts left to fill in, and I'll be done! After submitting this and hopefully getting it approved the first time around, I'll be ready to receive student teaching placements!!!!! We had official interviews with the placement coordinator a few weeks ago, when we gave our preferences for where we'd theoretically like to go. I'm afraid that I'll have to be fairly vague about all of this, but I feel like I made some good selections. We'll see how it ends up! I also had my last appointment with my academic advisor who I have grown to love! She's been with me through my entire OSU journey and has been a total rockstar at dealing with any questions I threw her way! I hope that everyone can have an advisor as wonderful as mine was!

Tutoring has been pretty good lately, as I've been getting much more business due to midterms and people stressing about failing them. It's been wonderful for me to be back in the practice of explaining algebra instead of writing proofs on the Well-Ordering Principle or divisibility of prime powers of numbers and their prime factorizations. (If you're especially curious, look up number theory proofs...That should make you grateful that you never studied math!) I love tutoring immensely, and cannot wait to actually be in the classroom doing what I've studied to do for the past four years!!! Also, after two months of working here, I FINALLY got my name tag! Everyone else's name tag was a rinky-dink laminated paper number, so I really wasn't sure what the hold-up was until I actually received mine...needless to say, it is NOT a rinky-dink laminated name tag. It is a beautifully engraved, straight-up legit name tag. It may or may not be on the same plane as their faculty name tags. It also may or may not be the third name tag of this sort that I've received from the wonderful folks at NOC...I'm not complaining :) It's the little things in life, I tell you!

So, obviously those things have kept me on my toes for the majority of the time, but have no fear...I've made sure to make time for fun stuff, too!

Instead of going on and on about every little thing I've done, I'll give you more of a bulleted list of highlights!
-I attended 2 more games, both of which were total wins and lots of fun all around...Homecoming is next week, btw!!! I'm so excited!!!!! (Brace yourselves for the inevitable orange fountain & walkaround pics!)
-I attended another Matt Maher concert last weekend with Rebecca, Rebecca's little sister Abi, and Maria! It was an amazing time, and the concert tickets were inexpensive, so it was a wonderful time!
Maria, Rebecca, Abi, and me! I'm so blessed to have friends like these beautiful women of God!

My fantastic freshman friend, Maria!

Abi and I ended up with matching t-shirts...I love it so much :)

Also, last night, Rebecca and Andrea invited me to join them at a campus concert last night featuring Scottish-Gaelic artist, Julie Fowlis. I've never heard of her and never really listened much to that kind of music, but I had a wonderful time! I also attended the gubernatorial debate two weeks ago between Gov. Fallin and her opposer, Joe Dorman. It was really cool to attend, but it did nothing much in the means of guiding my decision, because it was still a stereotypical debate in which both candidates talked circles around each other. Also, if you've seen the pictures of Mary Fallin with that OU student who was wearing the Mary Failin shirt, (look it up if you haven't) I happened to sit right behind that guy during the debate. I'm not sure why that's important, but I figure it's worth mentioning. I love that OSU so often plays host to cool events like both of these things, so that I can have opportunities to experience them! Just another of the reasons it's totally worth it to go here, even if I transferred in! I'm perpetually thankful that I took the chance to do it!

I'm also officially obsessed with Parks and Recreation! I'm now on Season 4 and loving it! It is finally getting to the point where it is not so much like The Office and is getting its own feel! Rebecca is mostly joining me in this new TV obsession :) Good times!

In the midst of all of this combined craziness, I've also managed to steal away some time to go home and be with my awesome family! I loved getting to spend quiet evenings with my family and see my adorable nephews who are growing up before my eyes! Fun fact: baby Jakub is not much of a baby anymore as he is walking and VERY mobile...AND he turns one next Saturday!!!!! The four older boys are more or less enjoying their various combinations of school and Boy Scouts. I, of course, was more than happy to contribute to their popcorn sales the last time I was home :) This week, my parents are enjoying a well-deserved getaway to Santa Fe, so I can't wait to hear stories about their adventures!

On a final note, I'm REALLY excited to share what is easily the best news I've received in a long time...my beloved cousin, Evan, who's chugging through his senior year of high school, just received word that he has been accepted to OSU and will be joining me here next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, Grad School here will most likely be a thing for me next year, in case you're wondering) He called to tell me yesterday, and I'm so excited for him to have all kinds of wonderful experiences here! I'm excited for him to come visit so that I can show him around and help him get acquainted with campus :) I'm even more excited to have another cousin who will proudly wear America's brightest orange with me!! Go Pokes!!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

What I've Been Up To Lately!

Hello everyone! I hope that all's been well since the last time I posted...yes, it's been a while, is it really that surprising at this point? I feel like I haven't done much, but I know that I have, so I'll pop in for a few and fill you in on what I've been up to as of late!!

In general, I've stayed pretty busy with school work, as I should expect to...I mean, I'm taking 17 hours, so it's not like I have tons of time floating around! In all honesty, though, I could be working harder in some areas...such is life! As far as my classes go, as a whole, they're good, but crazy in different ways! SPED isn't difficult, but it keeps me busy with little assignments. It's the first class in which I have written papers in about two years...needless to say, I'm a little out of practice in writing technical papers! Next week, I start my service learning project, in which I will volunteer at an adult education class for adults with disabilities, so I'm interested to dive into that! Number Theory and Math Modeling have been kind of ridiculous, if we're being honest. I adore my Number Theory prof, but there's always an unrealistic amount of homework that I rarely know how to complete entirely and correctly. Oh well. I'm really not feeling my Math Modeling class, but maybe I'd be more excited if I (or anyone else in that class) understood the project that we're working on. The problem is literally circa 1985 and about coding of magnetic cassette tapes, so it's very relatable. (Sarcasm, much?) Geometry isn't bad, though! Of all my theory-based math classes, I've enjoyed it the most! (Note that I use the word "enjoy" relatively, though!) My Methods class is nothing too mind-blowing, but at least it provides some comic relief at the end of crazy days of math classes...and I greatly enjoy our professor, Dr. J, even if she can frustrate us all at times!

So, what about Wine Tasting? I'm glad you asked!! I generally love it and the entire atmosphere! Last night was our first time to actually taste wine, and we sampled from the Sauvignon Blanc varietals. I'm actually learning LOTS about wine and love this great change of pace! I wish I could say that I liked Sauvignon Blanc, but it was too sour for my liking...oh well, there's always next week when we'll taste Riesling! Just as some fun facts for everyone, although it is made exclusively with grapes, it has a tendency to have tropical fruit and herbaceous undertones with a medium finish. Also, I was told that it would pair well with shrimp cocktail, clams, or various fish dishes. (Not grilled shrimp, though...the smoky flavors supposedly fight each other. #themoreyouknow) I feel like I'm very much on the way to becoming a wine snob aficionado! :)

On a completely unrelated note, here's the Back to School pics of my adorable nephews, as promised!!
Wyatt & Andy...have I mentioned how much I adore Wyatt's glasses?

Kyle & Cody, looking tough and strong!

Love this shot...especially with Cole tagging in at the end :)

Yes, Baby Jakub is not looking like so much of a baby anymore! Love this happy, smiley boy!!

Cole was surprisingly saddened to see Cody and Kyle leave...in his words, "Where my Cody-Kyle?"
Only a couple more years and you'll be right with them, kiddo!

Also, in a related note, Andy lost his first tooth this week :) (No pictures, just excitement!)

Last week was also our first home game of the season!! Sadly, it didn't look or feel much like a game day because it felt like we were in the middle of a monsoon! (I'm not actually complaining about rain, though...we needed it badly!) Rebecca and I helped out at a tailgate booth for one of the local stores that a lady from church manages and were quite happy to be reprieved by kickoff time since very few people were actually willing to stop in the rain to buy shirts from our tent! After hemming and hawing for a couple of weeks, I bit the bullet and bought the student sports pass because I'm a senior and who knows when I'll get to attend football games after this year! I went with a group from St. John's and had a great time, especially since we beat Missouri State quite soundly!
Some of the lovely ladies I went with :) 
(L-R: Ariana, Lindsey, me, Maria, and Sierra)

Maria, my new freshman friend from Seattle! :)

There's another home game tomorrow, and we play UTSA, so here's hoping there will be even more fun times/pictures/memories to bring home from that! :)

In actual news about my life, student teaching is starting to become very real. We have formal interviews for our placements next week, and we're hoping to have finalized placements by Thanksgiving Break. Wow. We get three choices as to where we'd like to be placed, but it's kind of a catch-22 because, while we get our say-so of where we'd *like* to go, we're going to be placed where they want us to be placed. Oh well, I'm not too concerned, and I have faith that it'll at least be better than the time I observed at the OKC middle school last year, so here's hoping! Is it bad that I'm looking forward to student teaching because I won't have to take any more math classes? 

Also, I actually inquired about the graduate program that I'm looking to enter next year. Let's just say that I didn't expect my conversation with Dr. J (methods prof who also happens to be one of the heads of the grad program I'm wanting to enter) to be as impacting as it was! At first thought, she was a bit confused as to why I was wanting to go straight to grad school instead of actually teaching for a couple of years, but we were both incredibly surprised to find out that we had a common link. This common link happened in the form of my Calc I professor from NOC who went through Dr. J's undergrad/Master's program. Apparently Dr. J ran into her at Walmart a couple of weeks ago and hinted that she had a former student coming up through OSU's program that she was scouting to come back and teach at NOC. Dr. J had no idea of who she was referring to...until I just so happened to bring it up during our conversation. Needless to say, Dr. J put two and two together and she was very supportive of my plan. I am still incredibly humbled/shocked that I have that many people out there pulling for me already, but will take any support that I can get!! Yes, I'm super excited to see where life will be taking me in the next couple of years!

On a random last note, I think that I'm going to go for it and buy some new glasses! I think that I'm going to hop on the bandwagon and look for some "hipster glasses", so that I can wear them more throughout student teaching. I think that I'm going to need something like that to help me at least not look like I'm still a high-schooler! Super random, but there it is! 

Another note of randomness: I'm currently obsessing over Parks and Recreation in a feeble attempt to move on from The Office...so far, it's working and I'm a little way through Season 2! Good times :)

I'll end it here so that I can work on some Geometry homework and not feel totally guilty about having fun tonight! Have a great day!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Back to School!

Hello! I’m finally back to catch everyone up on how my first two weeks of classes have gone!

I guess I’ll begin by talking about my first day of my senior year, which actually wasn’t anything too spectacular. I mean, it wasn't terrible, but it was rather anticlimactic. Unfortunately, Syllabus Day isn’t a thing anymore when you’re a senior, especially a senior math major—it’s just that much more time for lecture on methods of proof. The highlight of my first day was that I was able to purchase a parking permit at St. John’s, which saved me $70 and LOTS of undue stress of finding a parking spot! According to my friends with OSU permits, you have to be on campus by 8:00 AM just to find a halfway close parking spot, and if you’re not on campus until later in the morning, you might as well go to the overflow lots at the other end of campus. I’d love to understand why OSU hasn't built more parking garages or why they oversell their permits for their parking lots...or why they don’t have more parking in general. They should really consult some of my math professors to help them optimize this process…just saying!

Per my mom’s request, I had Rebecca help me get a first day of school picture! Actually, Rebecca took the picture and my friend William comically gave me pointers on how to pose for the picture (which mostly consisted of convincing me to wear my backpack in the picture)! What great friends!! 

Speaking of friends, here's a fun shot of Rebecca and I from the first student Mass of the year...I love our fancy dresses :)

So, what about my classes? Ah, yes, those. My first class is Educating Exceptional Learners, hereafter to be known as SPED. It is eye-opening to learn about how to educate students with various disabilities, but it is also frustrating, because this is only a two-credit-hour course that really should be a four-hour course. We only meet once a week, which you’d think that I’d prefer, but actually, I’d rather meet twice a week. We have LOTS of stuff to do in this class, including ten hours of service learning and an extensive group project, which will serve as our final. (Hence why I’d like to meet more than once per week.) Next class is Number Theory, which is taught by the same professor who taught Combinatorics last spring. He’s quirky and lots of fun, but his tests can be a bit of a drag…such is life! I also have Math Modeling, which is easily my most confusing class. It consists of doing four group projects using applied math, but our current project still confounds me (and everyone else in the class). I hope that we’ll figure it out soon! After Math Modeling, I have Methods of Teaching Geometry. I love our professor and my classmates, but I don’t love the ridiculous amount of paperwork we have in that class. (By paperwork, I really mean worksheets/junk that I have no clue what to do with.)

All the classes I just mentioned happen on M/MW/MWF, which make for incredibly long, mentally exhausting days! Fortunately, I only have one TR class, which is Geometry. It isn't too bad yet, so here’s hoping I’ll keep up with it! Also, on Thursday night, I have Wine Tasting!!! I enjoy this class and my half British-half French professor, who is pretty funny! For the record, we haven’t tasted any wine yet, but we will in two weeks! Oddly enough, out of all of my classes, I only have finals in Number Theory and Methods—every other class either has a big group project or just doesn't have a final test, and I think I’m going to be okay with that! What a way to end my actual undergrad coursework!

In the background of all of this, I also just finished my first week of tutoring. So far, I've only helped one girl, but I’m sure it’ll pick up as the semester rolls on. It could partially be due to the fact that I tutor so early and for such short times, but I didn't want to completely over commit, so it’ll be fine, I’m sure! As of right now, I only work on MWF mornings, usually for a couple of hours. Also, this weekend is my last weekend working at the lake. Friday was my day of craziness as I tutored, went to class, then came and worked at the lake all evening…not the most ideal set-up, but it’s the only time I’ll have to do that, so I won’t complain too much! I’m excited to get most of my weekends back to do what I wish with them, so yes, this is a little bit of a welcome relief!

Other fun stuff—I woke up very early on my second day of class to get in line to buy a few boxes of Colorado peaches for my mom! They are absolutely fantastic and very much worth getting in line at 6 AM. I ended up buying a box for myself to share with my friends, and they quickly became the talk of St. John’s! Rebecca wanted some fresh peaches so that she could bake a peach pie (she LOVES to bake!) and our friend Andrea also loves peaches, so it worked well. I didn't realize it until last week, but apparently Porter, OK is well-known for peaches and William proceeded to argue that they were much better than Colorado peaches. The jury’s still out on that one, but I’ll continue to stand by my position that Colorado grows the best peaches! :)

Last week was the first Contra dance of this semester, and it was a blast, as usual! There were lots of new faces, who I hope will continue to join us! I’m so happy that I decided to go outside of my comfort zone last year and unlock my love for dancing!!! Lots of great times!

This past week, I also started my Bible study up again! Yes, there were some new faces there, also, much to my delight! On an even better note, one girl from my study has decided to start her own study! I also never realized how much joy I could have found from guiding other young women in the study of Scripture, but it is a joy unlike any I have ever known. I’m excited that all of the girls made the choice to join, (no, it isn't something that is forced on them, in case you were curious) and I love that I get to be a part of their lives in that aspect!

If you have been keeping up with my homeownership woes from the past year, here’s another one for your list! Last Friday, I came home to mow my lawn before going to Contra dancing that evening. This is a relatively simple process, which ideally only takes about 20-30 minutes to complete, because my lawn isn't that expansive. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I've come to realize that Fridays are terrible days for me when it comes to my home. So what happened? Well, back in June, I bought a small push mower that has served me quite well thus far. It doesn't take much maintenance, it wasn't terribly expensive, and it is pretty easy to operate. So, I came home, changed clothes, and lathered up in sunscreen so I didn't burn to a crisp. I popped outside, pulled the lawnmower out from beneath the deck, and wheeled it out to start it up. I yanked the starter cord, and I went to yank it again…until I realized that the cord wasn't retracting. I fought with it for a few moments and realized that nothing could easily fix it. I also discovered that I have a limited supply of tools and that I was greatly spoiled by having all of my dad’s tools at my disposal for years. It appeared as though my starter cord was knotted, but the only way to unknot it was to take the plastic cover off of the top, which could only be done with a socket wrench. I ended up visiting Jeremy’s parents, who had tools I could borrow. Jeremy’s dad hadn't heard of anything like that ever happening and suggested that a spring was out and to call Lowe’s. (Really? Why does every little obscure thing have to go wrong for me?) After spending fifteen minutes on the phone with Lowe’s customer service people who were fairly easy to work with, they told me that they've “never heard of a starter cord being knotted”, to ensure that the mower handles were properly installed (???), and that I should just take it back to Lowe’s for a service call that could easily take 1-2 weeks to complete.

I’d like to pause for a moment and get on a bit of a soapbox. I go back to a conversation I had with one of my male friends about things that are difficult about being a girl. During our conversation, the only obvious thing I could think of was childbirth, but in retrospect I would add having to be a woman needing mechanical assistance. I’m sure that lots of other women have had this struggle—there is nothing I hate more than having to call for parts or customer service on anything mechanical. Even if it is 2014 and women have basically the same rights as men, some men who work in service departments are incapable of talking to women about mechanical things without coming off as condescending. I might not understand all of the inner workings of all motorized things, but I’m not completely ignorant, either. For heaven’s sake, I purchased, assembled, and operated this mower all by myself, and if the owner’s manual had any information that was actually useful, I wouldn't have even had to call this silly service line in the first place!! I have a dream that one day, I’ll be able to talk with any male service person without being talked to like I know nothing.

I digress, but guess what the problem was after all? The starter cord was knotted and easily fixed after I finally was able to remove the plastic motor cover. What started out as a thirty-minute chore turned into a two-hour ordeal that almost ended with the loss of my sanity! I’m over it, and I really hope that things start working better!!

On a happier note, last Saturday was Gina’s birthday and we had a lovely celebration for her that evening! Even better, tomorrow, Mister Cody will turn ten! WHAT?!?! I swear he was just born, but nope, he’s ten, in fourth grade, and almost as tall as I am! Speaking of, I have some wonderful pictures of he, Wyatt, Kyle, and Andy’s first day of school! They are pretty evenly spaced, with Cody in fourth, Wyatt in third, Kyle in second, and Andrew in kindergarten, all at Pleasant Vale and all on the same bus! Before we know it, little Cole will be in pre-K! Yikes!!
(I would include pictures, but I realize that I haven't uploaded them yet. Maybe next time...)


On that note, I’ll end it there, and hope that everyone has a great, safe Labor Day weekend!!!