Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sooner or Later Review

 I read a book today, which was my first in about a month or two. What with the hubbub of the last few weeks, I really haven't had time for reading. Also, I have been on the wait list for "The Help" at the public library, hoping that my name will come up soon. (I am really thinking about just buying the book already, because I don't think I can hold out much longer. Merry Christmas to me, I suppose.) Furthermore, my list of books that I want to read is becoming increasingly shorter, and I had no idea of where to go from there. (Suggestions, anyone???)

I digress. The book I read had a bit of sentimentality to me, mostly for the fact that it was written by a cousin of mine, Melissa. Truth be told, I really didn't know that my cousin was even considering writing a book, as she lives in Tampa, FL, and our families don't correspond very much or very often. I found out about her book when Gina randomly added her on Facebook. I happened to see that they were friends on there, so I checked out her page and added her. While reading some of Melissa's posts, I saw then and there that she had just published a book! I am so proud of my cousin for her accomplishment, and the fact that she has brought honor to the family name. (I have many cousins who have not necessarily lived lives of model citizens...)

The book is entitled "Sooner or Later" by Melissa Hladik Meyer. It is a fictional story of a Chicago magazine writer, Patricia Jordan, who is forced to return to her small Oklahoma hometown to write an article about the town's star football player, all while trying to avoid her long-lost high school sweetheart. Melissa did a nice job of creating the scenes, both in Chicago and in Oklahoma. (Melissa used to live in a Chicago suburb, by the way.) Through the book, she accurately depicts everyday details of life in rural Oklahoma. The characters were believable, from Patricia's critical, but ultimately loving mother, all of the usual small-town characters (family friends, random relatives), but mostly, Patricia herself. Patricia's character is a single woman in her mid-thirties who left her slow-paced Oklahoma roots to seek a high-powered career as a Chicago journalist. She has many hang-ups about relationships after being burned in most every relationship she has been in, stemming back to her teenage heartbreak.

The plot moves smoothly, with a few twists that take you by surprise, and add to the overall story. All in all, I had a hard time setting the book down, because just when I thought that I would be at a stopping point, there would be a cliffhanger between chapters that kept me hanging on for a few more chapters until I ultimately finished the book.

One thing about this book, which is really only important for people like me, who are not that technologically advanced, is that it is only available for digital download on the Kindle, and I think on the Nook. (Unless you happen to live in eastern Oklahoma, near Melissa's hometown of Checotah, where she had three paper copies published for their library system.) With that being said, I had to resort to borrowing Emily's Kindle to read it, which was no problem with Emily, thank goodness. My only real caveat about this book, is that it contains a moderate amount of coarse language, so, if that is not your cup of tea, you might not care so much for this book. Otherwise, I would definitely recommend it as a fun weekend read!

Two thumbs up to Melissa, and I cannot wait to read your future books! Keep them coming! :)

The Last Update of 2011!

-As I mentioned in my last post, I received a Betty Crocker cookbook for Christmas. What I didn't mention is the fact that I have been looking through it almost constantly for the last three days, like a kid in a candy store. I'm not sure what my fascination is with the book, because I have seen lots of cookbooks in my lifetime. The interesting thing about this cookbook is that it has lots of helpful tips, like what to look for in virtually all types of produce, and how to prepare them. I have already flagged some recipes with Post-Its so that I can try them when I go back to school. Props to Emily for picking out an awesome cookbook...I love it!
-The last week or so has left me feeling like quite the professional aunt. Not only have I been around all of my nephews on a more regular basis, I have also done more fun activities with them than usual, like baking or decorating. I think that after seven years I am finally getting the hang of this aunt business, and I love it! Today, I had Cody and Kyle come over to help me make some banana bread out of some brown bananas that we had sitting on the counter, and also to give Emily and Cole some time to rest. We had a productive afternoon, and they will have to come back to enjoy the fruits of our labor, because it was still baking when I took them home.

-The only downfall to all of my baking is that, as much as I enjoy it and as good as it tastes, my body cannot take much more abuse. After I go back to school, I need to start utilizing the workout facilities on a regular basis. Hopefully, Tonisha might be open to joining me, if nothing more than for moral support, because I don't like going over there by myself, and my location on the east side of Enid is not conducive for outdoor exercise, like running. I should probably eat better, also, which means that I should probably eat more fruits/veggies, and avoid the cafeteria more often, which usually only hosts highly processed, fried food with little to no nutritional value. All the more reason to be excited about my cooking gear!

-Speaking of going back to school, I go back in about 1.5 weeks. I am looking forward to it, so that I don't have to worry about what my classes will be like, and so that I can be that much closer to summer. On the flipside, though, I am not looking forward to it, because, quite frankly, I enjoy waking up without an alarm, having no real agenda for my day, and getting to see my family on a continual basis. Also, not constantly having to do laundry or packing is a plus, too. Oh well, such is life.

-Although it is the same length of time every year, I still have a hard time realizing that Christmas and the New Year are only one week apart. For whatever reason, the week between the two seems like it lasts much longer than it really does. I am not sure what my plans for this weekend are, but I know that they won't involve anything too crazy. Perhaps I will get to celebrate with Tevis at some point; hopefully, we will see each other at some point during the weekend!

I hope that everyone has a great remainder of 2011, and a safe, happy celebration of the beginning of 2012!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Weekend

After a the whirlwind that was last week and this weekend, everything has finally slowed down.

Our family Christmas celebration began, as usual, on Saturday afternoon. We were able to have Mimi over for a light meal before Mass, but the fun began much before that. I already had my cheesecake made, so I was able to direct my attention elsewhere, and I decided to expand on my domesticity. I took the plunge and decided to make some bread. Not banana bread, not pumpkin bread, real yeast and flour white bread. To make things more fun, I also invited Cody and Kyle over to help me. They really were a big help, and we had a great time baking bread! After we left the dough to rise, my mom asked if we would also make a dessert for us to have after our afternoon meal and start cooking the chicken for the soup. Needless to say, the boys and I kept plenty busy in the kitchen. We also listened to Mannheim Steamroller CDs while we worked, which made the time go much faster. Much to my delight, the boys have really developed quite the love of good Christmas music.

Later in the day, my mom picked up Mimi and we had a lovely dinner of homemade chicken noodle soup and rolls. Shortly after our meal, we loaded up and headed to church for Mass. I thought that I would have to serve, as usual, but I ended up being reprieved, so I got to sit with my family...well, sort of. I actually sat a row in front of them with our distant cousins, the Vaverkas, but it was still with my family nonetheless.

After we got home, I was greeted by my favorite musical on TV, The Sound of Music. I watched it for a while before Tevis came over. When he finally got here, I gave him his present, a cologne by True Religion called Drifter, which he seemed to love. We spent the rest of the evening making the topping to my cheesecake and visiting Wyatt. (Wyatt was thrilled to see his "bro", which is how he now refers to Tevis.) After Tevis left, I watched the ceremonial airing of the Midnight Mass from St. Peter's in Rome. It is probably redundant to watch Mass after already going, and I inevitably fall asleep during the homily, because of the translator and the fact that the Pope speaks very slowly, but I still enjoy watching it and marveling at the beauty of the basilica, while further reflecting on the message of Christmas. (I fell asleep just before Communion, by the way...a personal record for me!) A great evening was had by all on Christmas Eve!

Christmas day was just as good, as it was a day full of family and fun! When everyone finally made it over, we had a great lunch of pork loin, mashed potatoes, and veggies. After lunch, we got around to opening presents, and my serene, tidy living room suddenly turned into a wrapping-paper strewn, frenzied madhouse in a matter of a few minutes. As for me, I got a springform pan (to make my cheesecakes!), a skillet set, a saucepan set, some Tupperware, a paring knife, a Betty Crocker cookbook, a some lotion/bath gel/perfume, and a necklace. Do you notice an overwhelming trend there? I am super-duper excited about my cooking paraphernalia, as I am ready to cook when I go back to my dorm! Everyone else liked their presents, as some of the highlights were a steam mop for my mom, new jeans for my dad, chimineas for Gina, Emily, and their families, a scarf for Taylor, a Shark sweeper for Cody, a Lego model set for Wyatt, "cowboy clothes" for Kyle, a John Deere truck for Andy, and I'm not sure what Cole's favorite gift was, but ours was having him here to love and hold!

After everyone calmed down from the present high, we had some dessert. The red velvet cheesecake was well-received, although it was a mite bit rich, as I will further discuss in an upcoming post. We also had a fruit salad that my mom made, the dessert from the day before, which we never got around to eating with the soup, and a coconut cream pie, which we forgot to get out on Sunday...oops. After everything was said and done, Cody helped Wyatt assemble his Lego set, Kyle played with Andy's tractor, Andy napped, and Cole mostly ate, so he can get big enough to run with the big boys. I think that most of the adults, except Mom and possibly Emily took a nap at some point, so that was an added bonus to our already great day!

I hope that everyone else had a great Christmas celebration, and remembered the reason for our celebration. As Wyatt told us, "Christmas isn't just about presents. It's about spending time with family, and Jesus's birthday!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. Everyone in my family is still very excited about our little Cole. Although I didn't make it to the hospital to see everyone today, I will be going tomorrow. I actually talked to Emily earlier and she reported that everyone had a pretty good day, and that Cole had been sleeping well for the better part of the evening. He had his hearing test and a few other tests this evening, which I was told that he did well on. Tomorrow is the big day that they come home...I'm sure that they are all ready to come home and get settled. Also, thanks to everyone for all of the well wishes, prayers, and congratulations; everyone is most grateful!

2. Yesterday was quite the day for everyone, as last night was Wyatt's Christmas program. Although the drive up there left much to be desired, what with the pouring rain, howling winds, and reckless drivers, the program itself was cute! I also happened to see some of Tevis's cousins who go to school at Garber, so I talked to them for a while. On a high note, it stopped raining during the course of the program, so the drive home was ten times better!

3. I think I am coming down from my baby high from yesterday, as I had no energy to accomplish anything today. The weather did not help at all; in fact, it was conducive for being lazy. Also, I don't think I ate enough yesterday, in the midst of the excitement, so I was feeling a little off kilter for a while.

4. My biggest accomplishment for the day was getting three of my five aprons sewed. Thank heavens that they go together quickly, and that they were already cut out, otherwise I wouldn't be as far as I am now. I also got some embroidery work done on my dad's apron this weekend, as a fun touch. Gina's mother-in-law, Mary, has an embroidery machine, and she is gracious enough to let us use it if we need something embroidered. I decided to have the phrase "Real Men Don't Use Recipes" embroidered on the front pocket of the apron. I can't wait to see it all put together!

5. I can't believe that Christmas is in five, almost four days. Sheesh, where has the time gone?

6. I have yet to wrap any of my presents. I should probably get on that in the next couple of days, but with everything else that has been happening, that kind of thing really isn't at the front of my mind like it usually is. It makes me wish that we could postpone Christmas for another week, but I know that everything will be just fine in the end, and these little details really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. I have to remember to stay in the spirit of the season, and to remember to slow down and enjoy it for what it is; the details take care of themselves eventually.

7. I love listening to Mannheim Steamroller CDs. They have beautiful renditions of my favorite Christmas songs, with my favorites being Carol of the Bells, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and Silent Night. I recommend them if you are looking for some nice instrumental music during the Christmas season.

8. Our family Christmas tree is finally up! With Cody & Kyle's help, I got it decorated. Now it just needs some presents beneath it to look complete! On a related note, I think that we will have Mimi over on Christmas Eve before Mass, which is at 5:00 this year. (I wish it was a little later, to be perfectly honest, but no one asked for my opinion.) Our Christmas day plans are to have everyone over for lunch (I think?). Tevis is supposed to be coming over at some point on Christmas Eve, although I have no clue as to what time yet. All of our plans are slowly falling into place.

9. I am excited to make my newest cheesecake recipe, the Red Velvet Cheesecake! I have high hopes for it, and I hope that it doesn't disappoint!

10. I have said it before, but I'll say it again: I love being an aunt to my five nephews. My nephews are undoubtedly one of the best things that have ever happened to me. Honestly, they teach me more than I could ever possibly teach them, and I am eternally grateful for this fact. They humble me, and they help me to remember to look at the world through the rose-colored glasses of a child. They help me to keep a positive outlook on life and not get caught up in the cynicism of adulthood. Although I am not always the fun aunt who buys them frivolous things (I am aunt practical who is perpetually buying clothes and books for them.), I hope that the memories I make with them are more valuable than anything money can buy. I cherish all of the time I spend with them, as I know that a day might come when it isn't "cool" to hang out with crazy old Aunt Amanda.

A good night to everyone, and good tidings to all for a good Christmas celebration!
(PS-My computer/Internet are still not cooperating; one day I WILL get pictures of Cole on here.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our New Arrival!!!

As most of you know, today was the big day that everyone in my family has been waiting for! At 8:28 this morning, Emily gave birth to her third child! I'll cut to the chase and tell you what everyone has been waiting to hear for nine months...SHE HAD A BOY!!! :) His name is Cole Joseph, and he weighed 10 lbs 4 oz, and was 21.5 in long. He is quite the little chunk, but he is an adorable little chunk! Emily, Cole, and the rest of the gang are all doing just great.

As a recap of our long day, it began with Scotty & Emily dropping the boys off around 5:30 AM. Although they were excited, they were still pretty sleepy, so they rested until it was time to leave. My parents, the boys, and I ended up leaving our house around 7:00, in the midst of the thunder and pouring rain. (Any other morning, it would've been the perfect day to sleep in, but not today, for we had better things awaiting us!) I actually drove my own vehicle, for reasons I'll explain later, so I missed out on the headed-to-town conversation with Cody & Kyle, but it's okay.

Upon my arrival to the hospital, I went into the Ante Partum room to talk to Emily for a while, and to help her pass her time in that dreaded space. After a while, the anesthesiologist came in to talk with her and Scotty, so I decided to leave them to square things away. In the waiting area, my parents and the boys were working a puzzle on the coffee table. It turns out that a nurse was kind enough to lend the boys the puzzle to help occupy them during the long wait. (Actually, my mom & Emily both brought things for the boys to do while waiting, but the puzzle came out before those things did.) We were all thankful for the puzzle, because Cody & Kyle actually sat down and worked it, with everyone's help. Cody & Kyle are natural puzzle solvers, and I'm thinking that more puzzles may be in their future, if you catch my drift. It took us about twenty to thirty minutes to finish it, but that was plenty long for us.

About the time we were finishing the puzzle, Scotty's mom, Carol, arrived. This began the interminable process of waiting. Waiting to meet the baby, waiting to know its gender, waiting to know that Emily and the baby were alright, waiting to know the baby's statistics, waiting to hold the baby, waiting to see the Tom Petty song says, the waiting is the hardest part. To be perfectly honest, my dad was making this process ten times more difficult than necessary, because he would tell us that Scotty was coming when he really wasn't, or that he saw something, etc. We all got to the point that we stopped listening to him for a while, because he was doing nothing but getting our hopes up, just to dash them. Wouldn't you know that that was when he actually was right, and Scotty came walking through the doors. (My dad had quite the smug grin at that point, just so you know.)

To digress a little bit, my one and only real duty for the day was to record Cody & Kyle's first reaction to the baby on Gina's camcorder. Also, the battery on it is a little iffy, as it really doesn't hold a charge that well and constantly needs to be plugged in to the charger. I had it all planned out, and I was ready, or so I thought...Back to the story... Once we knew that Scotty was coming out, I dashed over and turned the camera on to start recording. The lens cap was off, and I hit the record button. I captured everything on camera, and I had successfully completed my task for Emily. I had a beautiful new nephew (I know he is a boy, but he is beautiful, anyway.), and all was right in the world...well, until they went to weigh Cole, and I looked down to see that the screen did NOT say that it was recording, nor did it ever start recording. Awesome. Just my luck. I was more upset with myself than anything, because I had solemnly promised Emily that if I would do anything, I would do that for her, while she was temporarily indisposed. Later, everyone assured me that it was alright, specifically Emily, which made me feel a little bit better, but still disappointed. Oh well, I suppose that is a small picture thing, since my mom and Carol both got some pictures of the moment.

While waiting, we watched Cole's first bath, his measurements, his foot stamping, his first diaper, and getting hooked up to all of the necessary monitors. I'm sure that Emily might be a little more technical than I am, but I know that all of his measurements were pretty well off the charts in all of the percentiles, so that is always a good thing! The best part of waiting was when Scotty told us that each of us (who was 18 or older, including me, for once!) could come into the nursery, one at a time, to admire Cole up close. Carol went first, then my mom, dad, and, finally, me! I felt bad for Cody & Kyle, though, as they wanted so badly to go and see their baby brother, but couldn't. I could identify with their feelings, because I was always too little to do a lot of things, and it is frustrating to no end, especially when everyone else is old enough to do all of the "cool" things. Of course, our words were no consolation to them, but it was better when Scotty was able to hold Cole up to the window for them to see him closer. Not long after, Emily came out of recovery, and Cole came out of the nursery!

At that point, I knew that Scotty and Emily needed some family bonding time, so I left to go get Mimi, which was why I drove separately. I loved getting Mimi, as we were able to talk at length, something I so love to do. A little over an hour later, Mimi and I were back at the hospital, and she was ready to see her newest great-grandchild! Everything was much calmer by the time we arrived, so Mimi got to hold Cole pretty much instantly, also she is 93 3/4 years old, so she has pretty much earned the right to hold babies whenever she wants to. Shortly thereafter, I got to hold him for the first time, although it wasn't a very magical experience for him. Cole was starting to get hungry again, I think, so he was a little bit fussy, which cut my time with him short. For me, I loved getting to hold my newest nephew! He was so soft, warm, and snuggly, not to mention that he has that new-baby scent! :) It was definitely love at first sight for this aunt! Besides, he is my fifth nephew, and I have long since gotten used to unhappy babies, and I have learned not to take offense if they were fussy, as I just love getting to snuggle with them any chance I get!

Gina got to the hospital a while after Mimi and I got back. The interesting thing about that was the fact that she had been at work all morning, as it was surgery day back at Perry, and (as per her request) she still didn't know the baby's gender when she got there. You wouldn't believe how incredibly difficult it was to carry on a phone conversation with her beforehand. Pronouns were virtually useless at that point, and we had to keep saying/emphasizing the phrase "the baby" (As in, "The baby is doing just fine." "The baby weighed 10 lbs 4 oz.") Emily almost slipped and said "he" at one point while she was on the phone with Gina, but thankfully, it cut out, and Gina didn't understand what she said. Gina was pleasantly surprised by Cole, and she got her cuddle time in before she had to go pick up Wyatt from school.

Not long after Gina left, Tevis made it up to see Cole. Cody and Kyle were ecstatic once they saw Tevis, and were bouncing off the walls trying to tell him everything. After I held Cole a while longer (it went better that go-round), Tevis finally agreed to hold him. I will admit that Cole was much calmer with Tevis than with me, although I think it has something to do with the fact that Tevis has a firm grip, and he probably just felt a little bit more secure, is all. (Tevis did happily hold that fact over my head, by the way.) After Tevis had his chance holding Cole, Kyle was literally begging to hold him again, so Tevis ceded his holding duties to Kyle. At that point, Tevis and I decided to once again leave the Moody family to have a little bit of peace.

I actually saw Cole one more time after that, since Emily had me run a few errands for her, but he was fast asleep by the time I made it back. I'm okay with that, because our little guy needed his rest after the big day he had, what with being born and all!

(I will add pictures later, because my computer is being unreasonable right now; sorry for the inconvenience...perhaps Emily will have some posted before then!)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Yet Another Update

It seems like I only post random updates like this one, but sadly, this is really the only thing I have had much time for in the past few weeks, so bear with me for a while longer!

-Tevis invited me over on Monday night, and I made an unpleasant discovery. As I walked into his living room, I noticed that he had a new watch on his arm. It was a nice watch, and that was fine, because he had been on the market for a new watch. Well, everything was fine about the situation except for one thing: I had already bought him the same watch for Christmas. I wasn’t too excited about it, as I had bought said watch last month, only days after he originally pointed it out to me. It wasn’t that I was mad about the situation, because I wasn’t. It was more of the fact that I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to give him something that I knew for a fact that he wanted, since he is impossible to shop for. He told me that his mom had given it to him as an early Christmas present, which was when I had to tell him about my predicament. The look on his face after I told him was an expression of amazement and sympathy, and he did his best to try to make light of it, by telling me that he could wear it on his other arm, that he could wear it on his ankle, that he could keep it as a backup if he lost/broke the one he already had, or that I could give it to him anyway and he could re-gift it. Although his suggestions made me smile and laugh, I wasn’t too interested. The silver lining to this is that I still have ample time to return his watch and get him something different; thank goodness I kept the receipt!

-My one and only final for the semester went just fine. I haven’t looked to see how I did yet, but I’m not too concerned about it. The worst part of my final was having to listen to the baseball players who sat behind me regale their tales of drunken debauchery from the night before. Have I mentioned exactly how much I despise baseball players? Oh well; life goes on.

-On Tuesday night, PLC had to serve at another banquet, with this one being more time-consuming than the last. There were about 300 people in attendance, and the Gantz Ballroom was packed. Personally, I could’ve gone without serving at this banquet, as I had other things that I could’ve been doing instead. At least we got a free meal out of it, along with the satisfaction of being told by the caterers that the Enid PLC is better at serving banquets than Tonkawa’s PLC is. Also, we were told that they have already fired three of the Tonkawa kids…how exactly does that happen?

-After we were done with the banquet, I went back to my dorm to do some end-of-semester cleaning. Carissa and I decided that we would split up the cleaning between the top and bottom floors. Technically, the top floor has less space, but it also has the bathroom, so that pretty much makes up for it. I volunteered to clean the top floor, since Carissa would be staying two extra days and was sewing downstairs. After two hours and a trip to Dollar General to get more cleaning supplies, I successfully got the bathroom/upstairs cleaned, including the shower, which was on the verge of being gross, in my opinion. When Carissa saw the shower, she was amazed, and she then told me that when she gets her own place, she will hire me to clean her shower! Hooray for The Works tub & shower cleaner!!!

-After cleaning, I also managed to get the bulk of my things packed up. I literally felt like I was leaving forever, and it appeared that way, too. The thing I do like about moving some of my things out is that it gives me an opportunity to see what all I have and haven’t used, and what I really need to bring back. Also, I think that I will have to take some clothes to Hope Outreach, as I haven’t really worn some of them since I moved in. I have come to the realization that it is time for me to part ways with much of my wardrobe, as I am outgrowing it not physically, but mentally. There are a few of my shirts that make me feel like a junior high kid when I wear them (probably because that’s when I got most of them), and I have gotten all the use out of them that I will probably ever get. Furthermore, I think that I should also go through my closet while I am home to weed out clothes that I haven’t worn so that they, too, can be given to someone else who is in need of gently used clothes.

-Thursday was an all-around good day. Besides the fact that it was my first official day of Christmas break, I got to spend my day with a menagerie of people. I began the day by picking my mom up from work and heading to town for Kyle’s Christmas program. (At he & Cody’s school, they split up the programs and have one for the Pre-K/Kindergarteners and one for grades 1-5.) Although I got there a little late, I still loved it! After his program, my mom and I had hoped to eat lunch with Emily, but because of circumstances beyond our control, we weren’t able to (No, she didn’t go into labor, if you were wondering.).  Instead, my mom and I decided to go out ourselves and enjoy a nice lunch at Pastimes, somewhere the two of us haven’t been in quite some time. After lunch, we headed to the mall so that I could return Tevis’s watch, and find a new present for him, which I did. We also did a little more Christmas shopping for a few people. Finally, we headed home for a little while. After eating supper, my dad joined us in our trip back to town for Cody’s Christmas program. Cody’s program was obviously longer than Kyle’s was, but it had a few welcome surprises. Their principal, who was in the Notre Dame choir, joined the children in singing “What Child Is This?”. He has a wonderful voice, and made it even more delightful. All of the songs were beautiful, almost moving me to tears…what a way to get someone in the Christmas spirit! One of my bigger surprises was getting to see a good friend of mine from my Confirmation class. I haven’t seen my friend Emily in almost a year, as she goes to college in Connecticut. She and I had a great chat, and it made my night to get to see her!

-Tonight I will be keeping Cody and Kyle while Scotty and Emily go to Scotty’s Christmas party for his work, and also enjoy one last night to themselves before the baby arrives (more on that in a bit). I have a few ideas about what we might do tonight, including our supper plans, and perhaps watching “Home Alone”, which is their favorite Christmas movie. I am looking forward to spending some quality time with them!

-My other “big plan” for the day is getting the Christmas tree put up. I know, where have we been, Christmas is only a week away, etc., etc. . In my house, even though we have resorted to having an artificial tree (I prefer real trees, to be honest.), we usually keep the tree up until sometime after the new year…usually around the feast of Epiphany, so it makes more sense to put it up later. Also, time hasn’t really warranted for my parents to get it put up, so I will be all over that today, after I finish cleaning the living room. Perhaps Cody and Kyle will also have to help me decorate it this evening!

-On a final note, in about 45 hours, Emily will have her baby!!!!! Of course, I will keep everyone posted on what is happening, although it won’t necessarily be up-to-the-minute news. It will probably be later- that-night-after-I-get-home-and-to-a-computer kind of news. Regardless, there will be pictures galore! I am beyond excited to meet my new niece/nephew, and even more excited to know what it will be…and to be able to stop calling the baby “it”!

I hope that everyone has a great weekend before Christmas!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Last Week Wrap-Up

Yikes, last week has been LONG. After having something virtually every night this week, I haven't had much spare time to blog, but here is the recap of this past week.

- Monday night was caroling at the nursing home. From what I had heard, last year's event didn't go well, (the pianist had a panic attack on scene and everyone else was left to sing a cappella at the last second) so not many people were looking forward to it. Personally, I was excited. I suppose it's more of the fact that I love singing, community service, senior citizens, and Christmas, so this event was right up my alley. Carissa really didn't paint a pleasant picture of the event, but I decided to go into it with an open mind. I was glad that I did, as I had a grand time. My English professor's wife was gracious enough to play piano, and she did a great job. We sang a total of about nine songs, and most of those included obscure verses I have never heard of...who knew there were five verses to "We Three Kings"? Anyway, I had a nice time, and I am pleasantly awaiting next year's event!

- Our dinner theater excursion was splendid! I would definitely recommend the Mosley Street Melodrama to anyone who loves to have a good time. The only thing that I wish was different is the fact that it is in Wichita, but in reality, Wichita is less than an hour from the KS-OK border. The dinner part of the theater was worth the wait, as they served a garden salad, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, three types of smoked meat (brisket, turkey, and pulled pork), and sliced bread (white, wheat, & rye). After waiting for what seemed like forever, the play finally started. I really don’t remember what it was called, but I do know that it was an original production of theirs. It had something to do with WWII, German spies, and air-traffic controllers, and it was absolutely hilarious! What I didn’t realize was that it was an audience participation theater, and I also didn’t realize that it was a big deal to sit right next to the stage. You could perhaps imagine what happened next, but I will tell you anyway to save us both the confusion. The villain of the play (I don’t know what his name was, to be honest) could best be described as a man who vaguely resembled Hitler, spoke with a German accent (while he was in character), and wore an amount of blue eyeshadow that could really only be acceptable on a drag queen. This guy decided that it would be fun to awkwardly stare at me for the better part of the first scene. And they put the spotlight on me…It was a pretty weird experience for me, although everyone else thought that it was wildly hilarious. (Actually, it probably would have been much funnier in a different circumstance.) We ended up getting back to Enid around 12:30 Thursday morning, and I was very glad that I didn’t have class that morning, because I was bushed. Once again, I am excited to return next year!

- I have really lucked out this semester, as I only have one final this week, and, as luck would have it, it is in Astronomy! It will be on Wednesday morning, so I really have nothing to worry about this go-round. This is the last semester that this is so, but I was able to opt out of my math finals since I have good grades in both classes, and there really isn’t a final to be had in Comp, so that’s where I stand on finals week. I will also be able to pick up a few extra hours tutoring, so this is a win-win situation…Go me!

- Although this may sicken some people, I have been pretty lucky in the fact that I am virtually done with my Christmas shopping, perhaps in record time! Of course, I still have to sew the boys’ aprons, but those are only minor details at this point in the ballgame (Ha-ha!).

- This might take everyone by a bit of surprise, but here it is in print: I am considering changing my major. It really isn’t that big of a deal, because college kids change their major all the time, but this is a pretty big deal for me, because I have been stuck on wanting to teach for what seems like forever. The thing is, the more I think about it, the more unappealing it sounds. Anymore, the thought of writing lesson plans, grading tests, and dealing with irrational administration strikes me as something that I don’t want to spend the majority of my life doing. So, here comes the next big thing...I am thinking about changing my major to engineering. So, it’s really not that big of a change, but, hey, it is still a change nonetheless. Nothing is really set in stone, but I have been putting much thought into this idea for a while, and there is a decent chance that this will happen. After doing some research, I think that I might look into industrial engineering, which is basically a hybrid of business and engineering. One of the biggest roles of an industrial engineer is to make things more efficient, so perhaps this might just be right up my alley…we shall see!

- Yesterday was the annual Hladik family Christmas celebration at my Aunt Genevieve’s house in Prague. I love going to her house, even if it is a two hour drive to get there. We had a great lunch, with delicious smoked brisket. I enjoyed myself, and was able to have some nice chats with my family. The two big questions I was asked this year were what my major was (aka was I still planning on becoming a teacher), and where Tevis was. I gave everyone the run-down on my possible major change, and they were all pretty supportive, especially my cousin Tim and his wife Silvia, both of whom are engineers. (Tim is an electrical engineer, and Silvia is a petroleum engineer.) As for Tevis, he wasn’t able to join us for the trip to Prague, unfortunately. Well, he might have been able to come, but it was probably for the best that he didn’t, as he had to work yesterday evening and he also has a 100-question comprehensive final in Biology this morning. My family remembered him from my cousin Angela’s reception back in September, and they all told me that they liked him and hoped to see him around in the future, so I guess that Tevis has received my family’s approval!

- In exactly one week, Emily’s baby should be here! I am getting so very excited about its arrival, and I am even more excited to meet my new niece/nephew! I think that (actually I know that) Emily is ready to have the baby, as she is feeling VERY pregnant, as could be expected in the ninth month. Hooray for babies!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's Going On

I haven't updated much on here in the last week or so, so I will fill everyone in on the happenings in my life!

-Thanksgiving went just great! We had a total of sixteen people at my house for lunch, and there was quite the abundance of food. We had turkey, ham (funny story about that), sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, green beans, peas, dill bread, and a plethora of salads/desserts. It was a feast! Thankfully, it was a beautiful day, so the children spent very little time in the house. they literally came in to greet people, went outside to play, came in to eat, then went back outside. Occasionally one or two would pop in to get a drink or get a snack, but that was about it. Like I said, it was a great day!

-Ah, yes...the ham. Back in May, Jeremy bought a couple of hogs to be butchered, because everyone was "out of pork". It turns out that his definition of "out of pork" and everyone else's definition were two different things, as when we got the pork, we had almost no room for it. Also, the hogs he bought were huge. No big deal, right? Well, when the men in my family were deciding how to get their portions cut, Scotty decided not get the ham split. Much to his dismay, he found out that he should have had the ham split, because it was massive. It also took up the bulk of he and Emily's freezer. No one had any idea of how to cook it, but we decided that it would have to be smoked, because it would not fit in a roaster to be roasted in the oven. It would also have to be prepared for a large quantity of people. When we were making food plans for Thanksgiving, Emily quickly volunteered their ham for the meal. I had not seen the ham before our meal, so I had no idea how big it really was. When Scotty brought it over on Thursday morning to be cut, I soon found out. IT WAS HUGE! It was probably just as big, if not bigger than Andy (well, if Andy was curled up in the fetal position).

This picture really doesn't do it justice, but that is half of the ham in all of its glory.

-Friday night included a trip to town to see "Happy Feet 2" with Tonisha. Mary was supposed to join us, but for whatever reason, she didn't. Such is life, I suppose...I'll see her again one day. I liked the movie, and Tonisha & I had fun being the only two people in the theater without small children!

It's crazy how 3D glasses have evolved from the old blue & red paper frames to looking like sunglasses...either way Tonisha & I made them look good! :)

-On a slightly related note, Emily had a ham & bean supper on Saturday night...One day the ham will be gone!

-For whatever reason, I have a strong desire to go see the Christmas lights in Kingfisher this year. I'm not entirely sure why, because I have seen them at least four times in the past, but I really want to go this year. I'm thinking that this might be a date idea for Tevis & me when he has a Friday or Saturday night off! :)

-Since I have gone to college, I have become really into watching videos on YouTube, mostly since I don't have a TV. My latest obsession has been watching Demetri Martin comedy sketches. If you have not seen any of his material, I recommend it. My favorite thing about his comedy is that it is intelligent humor. The man is practically a genius (I mean that in the most literal way possible.). His humor is pretty tasteful, although he has a few vulgarities, it is nothing like most modern comedians. I recommend watching his six-part YouTube video called "If I", if you ever have the time to do so.

-Last night was my first Christmas celebration of the season, as the PLC members were invited to a party at our president's home. I really enjoyed myself. Dr. Evans has a beautiful home, and it literally looks like it could have come out of a magazine. The food was also very good, which is always a plus. The worst part was that Tonkawa's PLC was there, and I don't really care for most of them, especially the girl who loudly (and obnoxiously) discussed her upcoming play audition/recital for at least twenty minutes. (Quite frankly, I could have cared less.) We ended the evening by playing Silly Santa, with presents purchased by the president, which was quite generous of her. I ended up with a glow stick wand, which was fine with me, as it provided entertainment on the car ride home. It was a great evening, and many thanks to Dr. Evans for having us over!

-Today is Kyle's 5th birthday! I talked to him for a little bit this morning, and he seemed pretty pumped about it. He was very in love with being four, so I hope that five will be just as good to him as four was. He is literally a handful now! (Ha-ha!) I hope you have a great day, kiddo! Love you!!!

-Speaking of children, it is only 2.5 weeks until Emily is due with her baby!!! I am so excited to meet the new bundle of joy!

-Next week is already shaping up to be pretty busy, as I have an event almost every night. Monday, I go Christmas caroling at the Greenbrier Nursing Home, Tuesday, I have a Lit Club pizza party, Wednesday is the Mosley St. Dinner Theater in Wichita with PLC, Thursday, PLC serves at the faculty Christmas dinner, and Friday is...wait for it...empty!!! I'm sure something might come up by then, but I would rather have a teeming schedule than nothing at all.

-Have you started Christmas shopping yet? I really haven't, and I need to. Now that it is December, I am ready to start my Christmas shopping, as I have ideas for almost everyone. I have already purchased my dad, Scotty, Jeremy, and Tevis's presents. I have also purchased half of my nephews' presents. The only person I still need to figure out is Gina. She has given me suggestions, but I still have no idea. Perhaps inspiration will strike soon!

-On a final, happy note, I am done with my last essay for Comp! Oh, Happy Day! The only thing I have left to accomplish for that class is a service learning reflection, which shouldn't take me too long to accomplish. I am so happy to have that burden off of my shoulders...the procrastination bug bit me, and I (sadly) didn't really do much of the writing on it until Tuesday night...and it was due this morning in class/online. Thank goodness I can write a large amount in a short time, or else I would've been sunk. No worries now!

I hope everyone's week finishes on a high note!