Monday, July 14, 2014

Prayers for Guidance!

Hey everyone! It's been a while since I have posted last, and I've been incredibly busy with school, among other things. I'll definitely fill you in some other time, but for now, if you could, would you please offer up some prayers for a dear friend of mine who is needing some guidance for his life? I can't really go into too much detail right now about who it is or why he's needing guidance, but know that we would both appreciate it so much!!! Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

10 on Tuesday

I promised I'd fill you in on my life! Here we go!

1) Sadly, I've started back to class already. My three weeks off went entirely too quickly, but on the upside, I'm almost halfway through my class! (Next Thursday is the halfway point!) The official class title is Introduction to Analysis, and it's basically the same thing I did in Intro to Modern Algebra, but somehow it makes a tiny bit more sense (not much, though). The homework is slightly easier, if only because I can at least look through it without wanting to cry, but I still have days when I question my life choices and wonder if I can switch to a Sociology major. (Not really, I want to teach math, but sometimes I wonder if I'll keep my sanity until then!) Such is life, at least this is my only class and I don't have tons of other homework assignments to worry about! All in all, it could be worse...

2) I've also been working a lot. Between class and work, I don't have a day completely off, which I'm starting to hate. Once again, it could be worse, and I'm just being whiny, but still. Work isn't bad, it's actually going well, so that's good! Yep, I still miss the quilt shop, but I can still go back and visit when I get the chance. An interesting thing about working in a different place is learning about everyone's quirks and the overall group dynamic. Needless to say, I can't complain too much!

3) I've somehow managed to find little bits of time to make it home to spend time with my family! I've really missed them a lot over the last few weeks, and it has brightened my days immensely to see them! My nephews are all growing like little (or not so little) weeds! Cody especially is growing into quite the young man...I give him a year before he's as tall as I am!! (I'm 5' 6" as a point of reference!) Holy cow! Cole's vocabulary is increasing by leaps and bounds, and he's starting to look more like a little boy than a toddler! Jakub has probably changed the most and continues to constantly evolve in his looks! From what I've been told, he's now crawling and I have an inkling that he'll be walking by the end of the summer! Sheesh, it seems like Cody was just born...where have the years gone?! (I'm kind of starting to feel old now...just saying!)

4) What would one of my posts be without mentioning the latest St. John's happenings? Most everyone is gone for the summer, but those of us around Stillwater have managed to make our own fun! The highlight of our week is generally Wednesday night lake time/theology study! We've also had lots of random fun time going to random places around town or watching the World Cup! Good times!!!

5) I've officially been bit by the travel bug! I usually don't have that big of an urge to travel extensively, but I've decided that it's high time for me to start! Unfortunately, I can't travel this summer, but I'm thinking seriously about making plans to travel after I graduate next spring. As of right now, the spot at the top of my list is Portugal, but we'll see!

6) We've been getting a decent amount of rain as of late, and I LOVE it!!! Since Memorial Day weekend, it has rained at least once a week every week, and we usually get about 0.5-1 inch each time! Praise God! Even better, everything is still pretty and green and we're not under a Burn Ban, which makes my life much less stressful at work because I don't have to constantly remind customers not to set campfires or use charcoal grills! I hope that it keeps raining like this, we sure can use all that we get!!!

7) I started reading Pride and Prejudice a few weeks ago, and I'm really enjoying it! I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to read it, but I'm glad that I finally gave it a chance! If I ever get around to finishing it, I'll start The Life of Pi, because I've somehow never seen that movie. I'm glad that I finally was able to start making more time to read for pleasure...I almost forgot how much I love it!!!

8) Speaking of old habits that I'm trying to pick up again, I think I'm going to try to start playing my guitar again! I started playing it at a bonfire last weekend, and I forgot how much I love making music! It gets pushed to the back burner a little bit, what with my summer class and all, but I hope that I can make a little bit of time for it at some point!

9) I've got nothing for #9. Sometimes that happens.

10) I do have something for #10, and it's something really exciting, too! Do you remember back in April when I vaguely mentioned my TEC friend Isaac visiting Stillwater? (I kind of slipped that in, so I'm not sure if it was even that noticeable when I did...) We've kept in touch ever since, and decided that we want to start dating each other! Well, technically we aren't boyfriend/girlfriend yet, but it is imminent! Isaac recently graduated from TU with his Master's degree, and he also just started an accounting job in Tulsa! He is a wonderful guy with LOTS of amazing qualities, and I am beyond blessed to have him in my life!!! (There is a very long backstory that goes along with this, but that will have to wait for a day much further down the road for me to tell it in its full glory!) I can't wait to see what the future will hold, but all I know is that things are looking up! God is so good!!!! :)

I hope everyone has a great, safe week soaking up all of the summer fun that is to be had!!! Enjoy!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Practical Ways to Save Money in College!

(One of these days, I'll make a post about what I've been up to lately, but today is not that day!)

People always talk about stereotypical broke college students. While this is a sad but true reality for many students, I don't like for people to think that it's inevitable for students to go broke while pursuing higher education. Aside from getting on a soapbox about the unfairness of the cost of college and various economic issues on which I am somewhat ignorant, I'm going to talk about a few ways that one can make the best of their situation and conserve money where and how they can. In my opinion, I sometimes think that broke college students become that way because they have little to no sense of money management and could actually do something to alleviate their financial situation. Here's a few suggestions that have helped me make it through this past year!

1) I do the majority of my grocery shopping at Aldi's. I had never stepped foot into an Aldi's before I moved to Stillwater, but now it is a place that I frequent! Why? It is possible to buy 1-2 weeks' worth of groceries for one person for about $30, and that does NOT include a bunch of pre-packaged, over-processed frozen foods. It mostly consists of necessities and LOTS of produce! Fun fact: Their canned goods rarely cost over $1 per can, most are actually in the $0.50 to $0.75 range, which is actually a reasonable price! Sometimes, it's a wild card as to what you find there, but they always have the staples of most grocery lists and a great produce section of in-season fruits and veggies! If you shop there, just remember to bring your own bags or be willing to buy sacks there (usually costing either 6 or 10 cents, depending on if you want paper or plastic), and that you'll have to bag your own groceries. (Plus: No worries about weird bag placements or squished loaves of bread!) Also, bring a quarter for a cart...don't worry, you'll get it back when you're done! For healthy (and even not-so-healthy food), I highly recommend Aldi's as a way to cut costs on food! (Note: I still insist on buying my milk from Braum's...I'm a milk snob like that!)

2) In a similar vein, I highly suggest packing a lunch. For one, it's WAAAY healthier than pretty much everything you'll find on campus. Also, it's not a constant drain on your budget...six to ten dollars per day adds up pretty quickly! In doing so, it requires a bit more time and preparation (not to mention foresight as to what your day might bring), but it really pays off! A sub-suggestion is to invest in a good lunchbox and lunchbox accessories...I, for one, love my lunchbox with the built-in icepacks and my reusuable vinyl lunch pouches which also prevent you from constantly throwing out Ziplocs!

3) While I'm on the topic of reusable things, for heaven's sake, quit buying bottled water!!!! Invest in a quality reusable water bottle (I suggest Camelbak or Contigo) and quit wasting upwards of $1.50 on something you can literally get for free! My mom always told me that Grandpa Rudy (her dad) prophesied that a day would come when people would have to pay for a glass of water. To take this a step further, if you are a coffee aficionado, I suggest making coffee at home and bringing it with you, because, like other things, frequent coffeehouse trips will add up quickly! (I'm not condemning them completely, but at least not buying one cup will save some money!)

4) I've gone back and forth on this one, but I think I'm mostly stuck on this one for the time being: if possible and reasonable for your circumstances, (I'm talking school-related only) I highly suggest eliminating either cable or internet (or both!) at home. Granted, most places come equipped with these as a standard feature, but if not, I promise that it won't be the end of the world if you don't have at least one of them, if not both! My parents still refuse to have cable service at home, and if it wasn't for the fact that I would have no television/news access otherwise, I wouldn't have cable, either! Living without home internet is a peculiar challenge, but if you're creative enough, you can easily make do...and by make do, I really mean, find places with free wi-fi access to do any schoolwork that requires internet access. By not having internet access at home over the past year, I have learned how to relish coming home and being "unplugged" from that aspect of life, and I find that I can truly relax at home! Trust me, you can do it if you really want to! :)

5) I love shopping, but I've learned that I can't always fulfill my shopping desires. If I really want to buy new clothes or something of that sort, I always start by combing clearance racks, stores like Ross or TJ Maxx, or, even better, thrift shops!!! All of these are great ways to find new things at a reasonable price! Fun fact: I have found much of my best house ware finds at TJ Maxx...y'all should really check it out!

6) For the fitness gurus out there, some students think that getting a gym membership is a surefire way to get into their fitness plans. Here's the thing: most universities have student wellness centers which you already pay for in your student fees...why pay for something you've actually already paid for? Or, look into joining intramural sports! You can either join a random team or join up with all of your friends, either way, it's a fun way to meet new people and have fun playing the sports you love in a low-pressure atmosphere!

7) Talking about friends, instead of going out to eat with them all the time, stay in and cook together! (That's kind of how the St. John's Wine & Cheese group was started!) Everyone can chip in or bring a specific course, and you can have the added experience of cooking together and sharing a homemade meal together! (PLEASE don't use the "I don't know how to cook excuse"...between Pinterest, YouTube, recipe websites, and EVERY other cookbook ever made, it is easier than ever to learn how to cook! Also, most foods lend themselves to easy preparation...just do it, you'll thank me later!)

8) Okay, not everyone will agree with me on this one, but after my experience, it bears repeating. If you haven't already started college or are weighing the options, consider attending a junior college! It's not a popular choice, and it's definitely not as glamorous, but it is the same education you'll get at a bigger university, but it is actually better, because you don't have to experience insane 200-person classes where you have little to no identity to your professor. You can learn the same material in a smaller environment with professors who aren't preoccupied with their research and are generally much more approachable. Socially, there are fewer opportunities, but it's not a social wasteland either. You really just have to find your niche! If you are at all on the fence about a potential major and might be switching around, it will be MUCH easier at a juco than at a university, if only because there is less red tape! The only way I really think that someone should go to a large university as a freshman is if A) They receive sizeable scholarships that would be silly to pass up, or B) They are independently wealthy and money is no object. With all the money you're saving at a juco, you can, like me, transfer to a bigger university and receive pretty decent scholarships as a by-product! I could go on and on, but I'll stop that soapbox there!

9) This should go without saying, but seriously, APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS!!! EVERY YEAR!!! It is essentially free money that pays for your college, so long as you keep your grades up. For one, it's a wonderful motivator not to totally slack off in class and keep your grades up, and it is that much less money you have to shell out! Even if it takes five hours to fill out the application, if you receive a $1500 scholarship because of that, consider that like being paid $300 per hour!!! Who wouldn't love to be paid like that?!? Lots of local and departmental organizations offer scholarships for students of all's at least worth a shot! You won't regret it!!!

10) My newest money-saving revelation came when I decided to rent my books last semester. From the outset, I saved almost $400 just by renting instead of buying, and all of my shipping was free! Who can beat deals like that? It was slightly depressing to not get cash back at the end of the semester by selling back books, but I also was comforted in the fact that I didn't get raked over the coals in trying to sell books back and literally receiving $2 back because they're buying new editions the following year. Most rental companies (like Chegg, which I use) give renters the option to buy books if they really want to do so, but otherwise, it's a much better idea!

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are ways that I have saved considerable amounts of money over the past year! I also find it interesting that, while saving money through these steps, I often find myself being more conservative to the environment or society in general! Quite the serendipitous thing, really! (Don't tell me you can't do anything to be conservative, either, I just gave at least four ways to do so! :) ) If you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Have a great day, and happy thrifting!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

There’s Something about Pope Francis…

One of my favorite things is meeting new people. Being that I attend a relatively large university, I meet new people all the time and have lots of random conversations. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re in the middle of the Bible Belt or because I, for whatever reason, elicit the question from these people, but people often ask where I go to church or what religion I am. Of course, I never shy away from responding that I am Catholic and/or that I attend the Catholic Church on our campus. It is a rare occasion that I encounter fellow Catholics in these conversations. However, almost all of the non-Catholics who I encounter have a similar response: “I love Pope Francis!” or “That Pope Francis…he’s really something, isn’t he? I love him!”

Who couldn't love this joyful man of God?
Just coming into his second year of his papacy, Pope Francis has gained celebrity status among non-Catholics, perhaps surpassing that of most other popes of our time (minus JPII in some circles, but that’s beside the point). I find it somewhat ironic/comical that non-Catholics are so in love with the man who is the face of the Catholic Church, regardless of their opinions on our faith itself! Oftentimes when people mention this, I have started asking them what makes them love him as they do, out of mere curiosity. Some of the most common answers I get include, but are not limited to, his love for the Gospel message, his humility (that’s a BIG one), and how he’s changing the Catholic Church. 

I agree with all of these things, but not necessarily in the context in which these people say it. Pope Francis is definitely all about the Gospel. His first apostolic exhortation was entitled Evangelii Gaudium, or, The Joy of the Gospel, if that tells you anything. (More on that in a sec…) I would venture to say that he is also a humble man, being that he strives to live a less ornate life than previous popes have. I also think that he is striving to change the church, but not in the way that everyone else thinks he is. Doctrinally, Pope Francis has not made any changes, nor does he plan to (despite what secular media claims). However, he is striving to show us Catholics how to fully embrace the beauty of our faith, how to encounter the risen Christ, and how to share our faith/evangelize all who we encounter. All of these are great things, in my opinion!

When the College of Cardinals met in conclave to elect Pope Francis, they did not just sit down and pick him willy-nilly, just because they thought that the then-Cardinal Jorge Bergolio was a neat guy. They spent much time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide them to the right choice. It was solely through the power of the Holy Spirit that they came to this decision and that he accepted the call to the papacy. In the past year, I’ve really come to see just how amazing the Holy Spirit is, as I have seen it at work in my life in the best of ways. If the Holy Spirit can spark these great things in the life of someone as insignificant as me, then why wouldn’t it do the same for these Cardinals seeking direction for deciding a new Pope! I mention this, because I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit knew that Jorge Bergolio was exactly what our church needed at this point in history. Just in his second year, Pope Francis has become a household name and is changing the face of the Catholic Church. All of this from a simple Jesuit from Argentina!

In saying this, I should mention that I do not discount the lives or impact that previous popes have had, because they, too, were (or were supposed to have been) chosen in the same prayerful way Pope Francis was. However, I have a particular love for this pope because he was the one who started to guide me back to fully embracing the Catholic faith. Yes, I went through a short time of questioning the faith, as I think many cradle Catholics should. As I have found, it is only through doubt that true faith is able to come to fruition. It is mostly because of this fact that I hold a special love for the Holy Father! However, my love for Pope Francis is based on more than on all that I have learned about him through various media sources or what others have said. Much of my love for him stems from his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. (Told you I was coming back to it!)

Up to the point when I first heard about it, I had never extensively read anything written by any of the popes or anything that was exclusively Catholic. I guess it had never piqued my interest before then. However, there was one day that I happened to be skimming through the Sooner Catholic, which is the Catholic newspaper distributed throughout Oklahoma City’s archdiocese. There was an interesting article summarizing the letter that I just so happened to read. After reading it, I felt drawn to the letter, so much so that I found it in a PDF online and downloaded it to read, thinking that I would blow through it in a couple of hours.

Boy, was I wrong! It was 224 pages long. That intimidated me at first, but I was already feeling committed to it at that point, so I knew I should go on. Within the first couple of pages of Evangelii Gaudium, I was blown away…absolutely blown away by the depth of what Pope Francis said. And that was just within the “Index” section…what? It got to the point that I forced myself to stop reading because I found it to be so deep that I needed to take a moment to ponder those words. I decided to start a Word document so that I could chronicle my favorite quotations. I originally thought that it would only comprise a few pages, so you can imagine my surprise when I finished reading it the other day and I had FIFTEEN pages of 12-point font (not entirely single-spaced) full of quotations from this document! To say I loved Evangelii Gaudium would probably be the understatement of the year!

I could easily summarize it, but I’m not going to. I’m certain that plenty of other people have written wonderful reviews or summaries of it, so I’ll spare you that. What I will share are a smattering of my favorite quotations...

“Everyone needs to be touched by the comfort and attrac­tion of God’s saving love, which is mysteriously at work in each person, above and beyond their faults and failings.”

“In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel has a real impact on God’s faithful people and the con­crete needs of the present time.”

“One cannot but admire the resources that the Lord used to dialogue with his people, to reveal his mystery to all and to attract ordinary people by his lofty teachings and demands. I believe that the secret lies in the way Jesus looked at people, seeing beyond their weaknesses and failings.”

“An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – al­ways involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters.”

“The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experi­ence of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known? If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts.”

I hope that these quotations may have inspired you to look into this letter, as I feel that it is well worth everyone’s time to read it! You can download it in PDF format from the Vatican website or it can be found on Amazon, either way, I suggest reading it!

May these divinely inspired words of the Holy Father ignite a fire in our hearts that will guide us to truth, and may God continue to bless Pope Francis as he continues to instill the mission of the Church in all of our hearts and minds! God bless!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ten on Tuesday: My Music!!

I love listening to music. I feel like this is or should be one of the biggest things that people should know about me! If you really know me, then you also know that I have what could be called a diverse taste in music, because I like almost every kind of music there is! Anyone who has ever been on a car trip with me and has listened to my iPod library knows that it is a real possibility that you'll go from listening to a calm country song to a wild rock song, just like that! I like to think that my family has played a huge role in my diverse music taste, because growing up, there was my dad who liked classic country and folk music/singer-songwriter type music (think James Taylor, Carole King, et al), my mom who liked classic rock (think Foreigner and Journey), Gina who liked 90s music the most (like Collective Soul or Third Eye Blind), and Emily who mostly preferred country music (pretty much all of it). Put all of that together, and you get me, who likes EVERYTHING!! (Except classic country...most of it is far too whiny for my liking, just saying!) Surprisingly, I do have one favorite song that I'll always love the most, but really, my favorite songs are constantly changing!

With that in mind, I think that I'll devote this week's Ten on Tuesday to ten random songs (in no order) that I am currently in love with!

1. Carry On-Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young

Ever since I fell in love with "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" as a sixth grader, I was hooked on CSNY! I can't quite pinpoint it, but there's something about the feel of the song that makes me love it so much! (See also: "You Don't Have To Cry")

2. All the People Said Amen-Matt Maher

I LOVE Matt Maher! He has a great voice, he writes his own songs, and, oh yeah, he's Catholic! What's not to love about the guy?! I recently purchased his newest CD, which is saying something in itself because I haven't bought an actual CD for myself in quite some time! This is the title track from that CD, and it is the perfect song to put you in a great mood! Love it so much! (See also: "Burning In My Soul"...Still Matt Maher, just as great!)

3. My Cherie Amour-Stevie Wonder

Told you my taste in music is random! During my week of flu quarantine, I happened to watch Silver Lining's Playbook and enjoyed it more than I thought I might, even if everyone was a royal hot mess, personality-wise. Yes, I realize that this song is the one that drove the main character, Patrick to meltdowns and flashbacks to his wife's affair, but I actually really like this song! After some long nights up studying for finals, I came to realize that I am kind of in love with Stevie Wonder's music in general when I ended up loving pretty much every song on a YouTube mix! (See also: "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing"...something about that movie & Stevie Wonder!)

4. Come With Me Now-Kongos

I don't really understand why I like this song or why it's suddenly popular (apparently it was released in 2011?), but I do and it is. Gotta love random pop songs! :) (See also: "Sing" by Ed Sheeran...still a pop song that I don't understand why I like it so much!)

5. Yellow-Coldplay

There is something about this song that makes me want to listen to it over and over and over...and over...and so on! I've realized during this past year that I love a lot! They are now in a close tie with Train as being deemed one of my favorite bands of all time. (That's something big, believe it or not, because I've actually stuck with Train for a solid four years or so...once again, still a big thing in my books!) Also, I love love songs and am hopeless romantic at heart, what a combination for someone who is waiting to see what romantic prospects might come my way...nevertheless, this song is perfect for both of those things, as is my other favorite Coldplay song (See "The Scientist"...slightly more depressing, though!)

6. Compass-Lady Antebellum

This song makes me happy, plain and simple! And it helps me remember that everything will end up alright, which is always a good thing to be reminded of! Good things! (See also: "I Want Crazy" by Hunter Hayes!)

7. Don't You (Forget About Me)-Simple Minds

I wish I could be a hipster and say that I knew/liked this song before "Pitch Perfect" made it/"The Breakfast Club" popular/relevant again, but nope, not the case! To be fair, I had heard of it and liked it, but I didn't really remember it when I would think to look it up. Also, I have a new-found love of all John Hughes movies, so, there's that... I can't decide if this song makes me feel hopeful or sad, but it works either way! (See also: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by The Police)


This song is undoubtedly my favorite Praise and Worship song right now! It is the perfect song to put you in a peaceful state of mind. I may or may not have listened to it on a loop during finals week studying sessions. (See the part about peaceful states of mind..) Even if you think Christian music isn't "your thing", you should really listen to this song and soak in its message. The same thing goes for Matt Maher's song from above, just trust me, you won't be disappointed!! (See also: "From The Inside Out"...It was a huge song for me during the retreat I attended in March.)

9. Jumper-Third Eye Blind

This song is representative of my love for 90s music. If I had to pick a favorite era of music, I'd probably pick the 90s. I'm not sure why, but I would! So, it's a song about a guy trying to prevent a suicide, not exactly feel-good music, but I find it oddly soothing. (See also: "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, another of my favorite 90s songs!)

10. Home-Michael Buble

I have an irrational love for Michael Buble's music, if only because his music sounds kind of like old school jazz and big-band style music that I already somewhat irrationally love! He is definitely one of my new favorites, and this song is perfect! (See also: "Everything"...perfection!!!)

So, there you have it, ten (actually twenty) of my totally random favorite songs, in no 
significant order! Maybe this paints a better picture of my diverse love of music! I hope my 
list helped you find a new favorite! Now that I've shared my list, I'd love to hear what your 
random favorites are!!! :)

Have a great week, and happy listening!!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

End of the Year Fun!

Gosh, it's been a LONG time since I've posted last! So many awesome things have happened that I'm not quite sure where to begin! Honestly, I really thought that I'd be able to get myself together enough to sit down  and write something, but I guess you could say that I've been so busy being out living life to sit down and carve out some time to form coherent thoughts!

I should probably begin by talking about what's been taking up so much of my time--school. I can finally say that I am DONE with what could have been my hardest semester of college thus far. There are no words to describe how free I feel now that I'm done with everything!!!!!!! Let's just say that I didn't feel this sort of freedom over the last couple of weeks...My dead week was anything BUT dead, unless they meant that it would make me feel dead inside? I spent inordinate amounts of time in study groups during the last part of dead week and beginning of Finals week. It was a bit comical as to how the study groups dwindled as the week progressed and I had fewer and fewer people in the same classes as me.

The first test was in Modern Algebra, which I thought would be the bane of my existence and/or sanity this semester! (I literally spent 2+ hours per week in office hours to merely comprehend the homework that our professor had so much "fun" writing. We had lots of discussions with him about how he really needed to redefine the word fun, because we thought that it was anything but that...just saying.) If there was anything good about that class at all, it would probably be the fact that it was the first time I've ever gotten to know my classmates that well...see the 2+ hours of office work to explain that one! After our Modern final, there was the dreaded Combinatorics final. Modern Algebra was exhausting and time-consuming, but doable; Combinatorics was hard. Let's just say that I had a front row seat on the Struggle Bus for this class! I probably should have studied a little bit more for this final, but there came a point that keeping my sanity superceded studying. I also remembered a talk Emily had with me when I was studying for Physics a couple of years ago, and I decided against overstudying and consequently freaking myself out. We also had our History of Math final that afternoon. That class came to be a bit neglected, if only because of the fact that I had little, if any, motivation left. As far as my finals for Statistics and Teaching Methods, they were much easier. (Minus the four extremely detailed lesson plans I had to compose that took me a week to complete.)

After going to my first week of classes this semester, I knew that my grades would DEFINITELY drop this semester. Thankfully, the outcome was much less drastic than I initially envisioned...however, the Queen of the 4.0 reigns no longer! I had a good run, but all good things have to end sometime :) I ended up earning B's in Math History and Combinatorics, which were probably deserved, but I'm not upset about them by any means! I did manage to get A's in everything else, though!!! I could be the most excited about getting an A in Modern Algebra!!!!!!!!!!! I worked SO hard in that class!!! Now, to wait around to start my summer's hoping it's much less stressful!

Let's see what else has happened! I should also mention Easter weekend, because that was a blast and a half! One of my new friends from St. John's, Katie, ended up coming home with me for the weekend, as her mom lives in Ohio, she is currently car-less, and she really wanted to spend Easter with a family. It was a wonderful weekend, and I think everyone had a great time! My nephews LOVED Katie, and were possibly more excited to see her than anyone else! She loves children, so she was over-the-moon excited to get to play with them all weekend! She also enjoyed seeing our famous Creation Story and experiencing all that comes with the Bison Easter Vigil! Over Easter weekend, I found out that Andy knows how to say his alphabet...backwards. How awesome/cool/crazy is that! He told us that he could, then proceeded to rattle it off with no trouble! I LOVE it!! :) I had a great weekend getting to spend time with my family, who I haven't seen as much in recent times mostly due to work!!
Katie & I after Mass!

All of the kiddos with us...yes, Andy is wearing fleece footie pajamas...gotta love his style!

Ah, yes, work. How's it going, you ask? Well, it's no quilt shop (which I'm disappointed to miss out on this summer), but it is going pretty well! For the most part, I enjoy my co-workers and sometimes I can't believe that I get paid to have as much free time as we usually have! Granted, it has its downsides, but nothing is perfect! All in all, it's a good summer job and I don't dread working, so it's all good!

Other fun stuff has happened:
About a month ago, we (St. John's people) went on a pilgrimage to the shrine at Bison! I was extremely excited to bring people to my home parish and tell them about one of my favorite places! We also visited the gravesite of Fr. Stanley Rother, the priest from Okarche who was martyred in Guatemala and is on the path to sainthood. After visiting his grave, we had supper at Eischen's, which was an experience for many of my friends who have never experienced it! There were nine of us, so we ordered four chickens and three orders of fried okra. Those of you who are familiar with Eischen's will know that that is just enough for that amount of people, especially since half of them were guys. Here's what happened as we waited for our food to arrive: Everyone constantly questioned why we ordered 4 chickens because that would be a ridiculous amount of chicken to consume. They also questioned why it was taking so long, and asked again why we had to order 4 chickens. Those of us who had been there before tried to explain, but they didn't understand til our food arrived! On a related note, there were no leftovers! Between the fact that the chickens were freshly cooked, pre-cut, and, obviously, delicious, all of their questions were answered, and they were glad that we sprung for that much food! Oh, what an experience it was bringing my friends to places I'm familiar to! Afterwards, we popped down to Yukon and went dancing at the Czech Hall, another place quite familiar to me, even if I've been there once, maybe twice? It was, again, a fun experience seeing them learn how to polka dance and eat kolaches from the concession stand! I'm not entirely sure that everyone else at Czech Hall knew what to do, having a horde of college kids come in and dance, being that mostly older people or families come regularly! Everyone had a great time, so I'm glad that we went!!
 Front Row (L-R): Katie, me, Rebecca, Erin, William
Back Row (L-R): Kevin, Anna, Ryan, Michael
What a great group :)

Funny that I mention going polka dancing, because I have actually made progress on my New Year's Resolution to become a better dancer! I have managed to go dancing in some form at least once a week over the past month or two! So far, I've learned more about two-stepping, East Coast swing dancing, the Charleston (that one was pretty rough, though) , polka dancing, and contra dancing! I always knew that I had a dancer's spirit deep within, but I never quite had the chance to build these skills growing up, especially since every JH/HS dance I ever went to did NOT include actual dancing, just bizarre grinding on others, awkward swaying to slow songs, and stereotypical line dances to hollow pop songs with little substance. If I ever end up teaching in a high school, I'd like to see to it that students could learn how to actually dance and appreciate good dancing music, as opposed to the scenes I painted earlier. If you ask me, real dancing with a partner is a highly underrated skill that needs to be brought back, including guys actually asking girls to dance. I'll get off my soapbox, I guess, but I am ecstatic to be building my dancing skills!!!

All of these great things have happened, but there are a few downsides...the first one is that my friend Heather, the missionary, was reassigned to Iowa :( I'm sad to see her go, as we have had LOTS of great times together growing in our faith and in our friendship! I know why she has to leave, but it still doesn't make it much easier. Thank goodness for modern technology, though, because I know that she's always just a call, text, or Facebook message away!! She leaves for good next week, so I think we'll still have a chance to hang out one last time before then! Side note: She took me out for my first karaoke experience the other night! I had a blast, even if everyone else at the bar was slightly sketchy :) Here's a couple of my favorite pictures of us from this year!

I sure am gonna miss her! What a blessing to have a friend like her to help me grow in my faith like she has! Love her!!!

Also, many of my good friends from church have graduated and will be moving on to bigger and better things. It's always sad to say goodbye to people who have become great friends to you, but I know that they'll all probably be back at some point during the next year for football games or just random weekends! Once again, nothing to get too terribly sad about! Disappointed, maybe, but not sad! Also, it will be slightly sad to not get to see most everyone else over the summer, for my friends with internships, jobs, etc.

Another related note: In one year (God willing) I will have graduated with my Bachelor's degree! What?!! It's really crazy to think about the fact that my life will probably be much different by then! Really though, I think it's all part of the process of going through college, because I can also say that I'm much different than I was at this time last year! (At this time last year, I was still terrified of coming to OSU and making friends!! If only I knew then what I know now!) Granted, I still plan on going on and getting my Master's degree right away, so I still won't be done with school, but regardless, I could actually get a real job if the opportunity presents itself, as I feel like it could, since I'll be certified to teach math by then, and I'm living in Oklahoma, land of few math educators...put the pieces together, and I think you see where this is going! Ahh!! Craziness!! Sometimes, I have to take a few deep breaths and remember that fretting about the future will get me nowhere, and patiently wait for everything to work itself out!

Okay, other random fun stuff to keep me from hyperventilating about my future? (Okay, I'm not really hyperventilating, but still :) )

My friend Rebecca and I have gone on some great adventures over the past month! The other day, she saw a flier on a bulletin board advertising a vintage clothing sale with all things under $20. Being that she is a dress aficionado, and she LOVES all things vintage, she was excited and invited me to join her! (As you know, I too love vintage-y things, hence my love for traditional dancing and non-modern music. Also, I'm a cheapskate when it comes to!) We planned on going to just browse, but we ended up leaving with fun new vintage pieces! I found an authentic 50's dress in mustard yellow and a fun flowery skirt! I was in LOVE :) Last week was one of our bigger adventures! At the beginning of the semester, Rebecca and I promised each other that we had to make a trip to the Savory Spice Shop, as it was one of her discoveries over Christmas Break, and I had (oddly enough) never been! The idea had somewhat fizzled out until she returned from her Spring Break trip to Europe with a French cookbook and found a recipe for cupcakes with a rose petal frosting that she was dying to make. Unfortunately, the frosting required rose syrup, which required rose water, which we couldn't find anywhere in the greater Stillwater area. Cue the Savory Spice Shop, which came to the rescue! They sold bottles of rose water, which I knew would be fresh and high-quality, as well as affordable and just the right amount, so our dreams of visiting came back into the picture! I called my friend Able, one of the owners, to double-check that they carried it, (yes, of course they did :) ), and we made plans to take a break from Finals week craziness to visit! We could have just bought it online, but where's the fun in that? We had great fun visiting and, as an added bonus, Able was working that day, so we had a great chat with him! All good things :) When we came back to Stillwater, Rebecca mosly commandeered the cupcake making, as I decided to make supper for everyone who was there. (I made the King's Hawaiian hot sandwiches and grilled PB&J sandwiches, which were a hit, surprisingly, being that they were both very simple things!)

Last bit of fun-ness: I have come to the recent realization that there is quite a lucrative food truck system that is a big deal in Stillwater! I realize that food trucks aren't by any means a new thing in general, but they are very new to me! Thanks to Fr. Stuart (the priest at St. John's), I found a new gem in the food truck system, in the great Stillwaffles truck! What are Stillwaffles, you ask? They are authentic Belgian waffles, being authentic in the fact that the food truck is operated by Belgians! Okay, well, at first, I wasn't sure what the hype was about, because, I mean, they're just waffles...until I tried them, then everything changed!! Usually when I eat pancakes or waffles, I'm all about the traditional butter and syrup topping approach. To put anything on these waffles would be a bit of blasphemy, because they're perfect as is! They're just sweet enough that you could still put syrup on them (or chocolate syrup, strawberries, whipped cream, or walnuts...all of their other topping choices), but they really don't need anything! If you're ever in Stillwater, I highly encourage you to find it, but I suggest looking up their Facebook or Twitter page, because they're constantly moving from place to place throughout the day/week! Another fun new-ish Stillwater place I discovered: Cake Crazy! (As seen in the above picture with Heather!) They have absolutely amazing cupcakes, and they were recently featured on the Food Network! It's a bit off the beaten path, but still worth it! :)

That's pretty much all of the excitement that has been happening over the past month! Granted, there are plenty of other great things happening in the background of all of this, but I think those are all stories for another time, and I'll leave it at this! Have a great week!!!!

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!