Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Revolution!

Here I am at the end of 2012, and I have decided think of all of the cool/interesting/noteworthy things that have happened this year...besides surviving the "apocalypse" that we all knew wouldn't happen anyway. As usual, 2012 has had its ups and downs; fortunately, I had more ups than downs! If I had to think of one word to define my year, I think that it would have to be revolution. I feel that it is appropriate using two definitions, as a transformation and as an upheaval, of sorts.

I guess I'll start with the upheaval bit, only because it includes some of the yucky stuff that happened. I found myself in a few situations that really shoved me out of my comfort zone, and made for some trying times. It began in full force back in January, when I took my first, of what would eventually be two Calculus classes via ITV. This was not something I relished from this year at all, as I'm sure you already knew from all of my previous posts. I struggled some, but I am proud to say that I emerged successful, as was the case in my difficult Physics class!

Reality crashed the party this summer in multiple ways, mostly in the fact that I came to the sudden realization that I was actually going to have to make some progress on transferring schools, as much as I really don't want to, if only for convenience's sake. Although I was very perplexed for quite a while, I do believe that I may be starting to see some progress on that front, PTL! I also had to say some goodbyes that I really wasn't ready to say. The obvious explanation there was the loss of my classmate who drowned back in May. The other unwelcome goodbye wasn't necessarily a permanent one, but still, it made me sad. Yes, the goodbye of my awesome roommate from last year, Carissa! I really sound like a love-lorn sap with an unnatural obsession, but I swear that I am not! Really though, she became one of the best friends that I have ever had, and she made the transition to college life so much better than I ever anticipated! I am very grateful to have had the chance to get to know her! (I did get to attend her beautiful wedding in June, though, and we still correspond some, so it's not a total loss :) )

My scholarship, as nice as it is, and as grateful as I am for it, has really not turned out to be all that it was cracked up to be this school year. (Read: since August) Last year, I had no issues with it, but things now definitely aren't what they used to be, and that frustrates me some. Honestly, there isn't much that I can realistically do about it, if only for the fact that I have so much to lose, and now really isn't the time to rock the boat too much. I really could go on about this, but I won't. I'll leave it at the fact that it hasn't provided me with very much joy as of late.

I guess I'll end the depressing portion with the most obvious, and most recent "revolution" in my life:  my infamous break-up with Tevis. Last time I mentioned it, it was literally the day it happened, and I didn't have much to say. Now that I have processed things, I am going to pour my heart out a little bit, if only for personal closure, but this should be the last time I ever mention it; I promise! (Some of this may overlap with what I said last time...bear with me.) Regardless of the fact that most of you probably have never met him, I'm sure you came to be familiar with him. I won't go into damaging detail, because I just don't work that way when it comes to these things, but I should really say that this wasn't something I decided on a whim.  Don't get me wrong, we had lots of great times together and I really did love him. But, as all of my fellow bloggers know, you don't really tend to write about the bad times. Well, you do to an extent, but there is always the part that gets left out, because no one in the public domain wants to, or more importantly, needs to know about it. And you don't like posting negative things constantly. (Okay, well, maybe that's just me, but I think that resonates with many people.) He and I were never a perfect couple, and our relationship had a few sore spots that eventually caused its demise. For whatever reason, there were many people (mostly from high school or church) who were under the impression that we had this idealistic, perfect love affair that would be one for the ages, and they were shocked to find out about the break-up. And that's the thing: from the outside, everything looked great; unfortunately, it wasn't always the same way from the inside. I am a firm believer in letting go of something that no longer suits you, as opposed to holding onto it just to keep up appearances; that was exactly the case this time. You wouldn't believe how difficult it was to make that choice. I spent a lot, and I mean A LOT of time praying about it. I spent almost as much time discussing it with my people. I cried a lot. I was a wreck. (Hence my hiatus from blogging, not to mention stress preceding Finals week.) After a while, I knew that ending things would be the best option for both of us, at least on a long-term scale. Yes, I really was the one to end things, and I hated seeing the look on his face as I told him. Yes, I miss getting to see all of the wonderful people he introduced me to (i.e. his family, friends, etc.) No, I probably wouldn't want to reconcile, at least not right now. I know it hurt him, too, although I don't really know to what extent, seeing as that was the last time we spoke. I do hope that all goes well for him in any of his future ventures, including any future loves he may have, and I really mean that part.

I truly believe that this will prove to be a turning point in my life. I feel like there are some big things waiting for me in the near future. Things that are way bigger than this; things that are literally life-changing; things that I can't experience until I let this go. Maybe this is why I haven't struggled so much post break-up, because I am aware that this is merely a stepping stone in God's ultimate plan for my life.

Now that I got that out of my system, let's proceed with the happy stuff!

I actually accomplished one of my life-long dreams, not once, but FOUR times! I ran four 5K races, and I am in love! I am on the path to changing to natural running, which was a huge game-changer for me, and I am approaching 2013 with some bigger goals that I believe I can accomplish with a little bit of tenacity and motivation! Hopefully, I will be able to see those goals through, we'll see!

I became a student assistant for a teacher, who I deem to be one of my mentors, and I have loved it since day one! She is providing me with great insight into the profession of teaching, and lots of great training. I am very grateful for this opportunity!

I changed quite a bit this year, but I really think that it has been for the better. One of my biggest changes was in my spiritual life, which was largely due to the time I spent at Tevis's church. Before this year, I was feeling very stagnant in my spiritual beliefs, and his church really helped me to go back to the basics. It was completely different than anything I had ever experienced before, but it was probably one of the best things to ever happen to me. I feel like I am more spiritually entuned now, and I am much more aware of what exactly it is I believe. If anything, I believe that I have used this year to become more aware of God's presence in my life, and how richly, deeply, amazingly, undeservingly blessed I am, and how I can continue to work to be the person who He has called me to be.

Of course, I spent loads of time with my amazing family and friends, making wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. I read some amazing books and listened to some wonderful music. I studied hard, but I also made time for fun things, like birthdays and holidays, and any other good reason for celebration! All in all, I can't complain about 2012, because nothing is ever perfect, and that's fine with me! I am very excited to see what 2013 has to offer me...I know that it will be interesting!

As I finish contemplating my internal revolutions for 2012, the Earth is close to completing another revolution around the sun. (Honestly, I didn't consider that connection when the word came to serendipitous!) I hope that 2012 has proven to be a good year for you and yours, and I hope that your 2013 will be even better!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012, Part II

Yesterday was quite the day. I'm fairly certain that my parents were up around 6 or 6:30, like they usually are, to get the meat started and have a cup of coffee. They did a little bit of last-minute decorating when they realized that we had a nativity scene that we somehow forgot to put up. For the record, we have acquired it in recent years, so it hasn't quite become a mainstay in our Christmas decorations. They also put on a Mannheim Steamroller CD, which was how I woke up. If you haven't ever had the pleasure of listening to Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas music, you really should, I think it is quite wonderful, as a twist of modern and classical.

When I finally woke up, I overheard my parents commenting about the snow. Fully expecting to see at least three inches on the ground, I was a little bit surprised to see that there was really only a light dusting on the grass. As much hype as they gave it on the news, I figured we would be snowed in at least for the day, but that wasn't even close to happening. As it turned out, we didn't receive any more snow, but we got the lovely  40 mph north winds that I could really do without. 

When I came into the kitchen, my dad gleefully informed me that he decided to bake some cheese bread and rolls for our lunch. (Yes, my dad does bake, and he really does a good job of it!) Cheese bread is a treat in our family that had its origins with my Grandma Hladik. Sadly, it was one of those traditions that I never got to experience with grandma, since she wasn't always in the best of health while I had any memory of her. (In case you were wondering, cheese bread is basically white bread with a filling made of Cheez-Whiz and onion soup mix. This year my dad added his new favorite seasonings, Dill Mix and Tomato Powder, from our good friends at the Savory Spice Shop in OKC!) With a some help from my mom, the bread turned out beautifully!

My parents and I spent the better part of our morning doing some last-minute baking and present-wrapping. Around 12:30 or so, my sisters and their families made it over. Emily's crew was first, and Cody & Kyle wasted no time telling us about their new BB guns. After a while, Gina's family made it over. Wyatt also got a BB gun and a remote-control helicopter. Andy's big toy was a remote-control monster truck. I believe that Cole's big toy of the year was a drum. Between BB guns, RC toys and a drum, it could be quite interesting to babysit these boys anytime in the near future!

Our lunch spread was awesome, and fairly low-stress. We reheated and added some to our turkey/chicken noodle from the day before, so there wasn't much work in that. Gina brought over scalloped potatoes, Emily brought sweet potatoes; we pulled out the salad (also from the day before), and heated up some green beans. We ended up taking the easy way out on our meat, and defrosted some brisket and pork loin from our "4th of July" party. At the time, we had more meat than we knew what to do with, so we popped it in the freezer. I am happy to say that it tasted just as good as it did the day my dad made it! Truth be told, even though we didn't have that much food yesterday, we still probably could have got by with just soup and bread, because that's really what we ate the most of. Oh yeah, and I made a cheesecake for dessert, but I'm sure you could have guessed that. 

After Scotty got Cole down for a much-needed nap, we got the boys ready to open presents. By that, I mean that we tried our best to contain their excitement, but really, they were so wound up that there wasn't much we could realistically do to thwart that. Oddly enough though, the three older boys still begged to pass out presents to everyone instead of sitting and opening their own. I'll go through some of the highlights of everyone's presents.

All five boys got "cowboy" shirts, jeans, and boots. (Cole didn't get boots though, because he just got a new pair, and his feet grow really fast.) They also got a race track set, that really enthralled the three older boys. Gina & Jeremy got a patio glider set that they wanted. Scotty got tools and Emily got a bagel-sized toaster and an electric roaster. Dad got identical chimineas from both Gina and my mom. My mom got books, perfume, and a shirt. My parents got six tickets to the Gaslight Theater, and my sisters and I got tickets to a Mannheim Steamroller concert this Saturday! (Actually, I knew about the tickets about a month ago, but now I can talk about them on here! :) ) We will also be accompanied to the concert by my parents, two of my cousins, and two of my cousins' will definitely be a blast!

As for me, I received some wonderful gifts from my family. I got running clothes from Emily's family, a wireless printer from Gina's family, a knitted scarf and crocheted headbands from Gina's in-laws, and a Garmin running watch from my parents! The theme this year was running, and I think that this may help me to  gain that motivation I have been so desperately seeking, if nothing more than for the fact that I will feel bad that my parents shelled out the money to buy a fancy watch if I don't use it! I am very, very excited!

At some point in the craziness, Cole woke up and opened his presents, largely with Scotty's help. I believe that his favorite was a blanket that Gina made him, because his face really lit up when he saw it! The three older boys went out to play with their track that my dad already had set up for them. The rest of us napped and examined each other's new treasures. Little Andy was on a roll yesterday, providing us all with lots of laughs. He is three-and-a-half, and is VERY expressive. He began by putting on his new stocking cap from me, which is the red bird from Angry Birds, and he "pecked" everyone...aka he headbutted everyone. It was much funnier than it sounds, I promise! Then, he had a catchphrase for a while, "It's okay!" It started when Cole picked up one of Andy's presents and was chewing on it. We told him that Cole had it, and he told us, "It's okay!"...Cole started crawling over a semi-napping Gina..."It's okay!"...Cole got out his new blankie..."It's okay!"...Cole started crying when Scotty took presents to the car..."It's not okay!" I think that that one was the funniest!

Shortly after, everyone went their separate ways, and my parents and I enjoyed an uneventful evening at home watching my dad's new movies. It was just what we all needed! I hope that you all had a great day, and a Merry Christmas, wherever you were!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012, Part I

Like every other year, our family Christmas celebration began on Christmas Eve. We had Mimi over for a lunch of homemade turkey noodle soup, roasted chicken, stuffing, and salad. (Notice the flip-flop between the turkey and parents sort of did that on purpose!) Lunch was absolutely great, as usual, if not better since Mimi was there. After we finished eating, my mom and I had to go pull ourselves together so that we could make it to the 5:00 Mass on time. (I originally thought that 5:00 was way too early for a Christmas service, but it turned out to not be the worst thing in the world...more on that in a sec...) After we were all ready, we let Mimi open her presents, which were a new cordless telephone set, some tea, a can of peach pie filling, and a bag of my dad's homemade noodles. Yes, it sounds random, but Mimi has told us quite often that because she is the age she is, she really just wants stuff that she can use. With that in mind, she was over the moon about all of her gifts, although she said that just being with us was present enough. This is why I love my Mimi. 

Before we left for Mass, I remembered to have my mom take a picture of us in front of the tree.
It is one of my favorite pictures of us together, and definitely one I will cherish later on in life. 

Due to circumstances beyond our control, my mom had to stop in at work before church, so my dad dropped her off, dropped Mimi and me off at church, then returned to get my mom. Lots of running around, but it was actually the most efficient plan, and it wasn't that far between any of the places. When we got to church, it turned out that we had hospitality (or we were greeters, if you aren't familiar with my church), so I sat in the back and greeted solo, while Mimi gladly held our pew for us. After a while, a cousin of ours, who is recently widowed, decided that he would stand back there with me, just because. I enjoyed that, and it made the time go much faster. I always enjoy getting to greet people at Christmas Eve Mass, because there is such an assortment of people coming in, looking fancy and excited. 

Like I said earlier, I originally thought that 5:00 was way too early, and somewhat inconvenient in timing, but it beat the alternative of going to Hennessey at 10:00, when everyone is sleepy and the kids are up way too late and are horribly grumpy, and not to mention it is very cold and very dark. (I would honestly like to know who comes up with these times for anything, because I am not really sure who it is. Maybe the times are handed down on stone tablets? Who knows...I'm rambling now.) Maybe lots of people shared my logic, maybe it was the impending "snow storm of the century" that the weather was forecasting, maybe it was fate. I'm not entirely sure what it was, but everyone, and I mean everyone, came out of the woodwork to attend Christmas Eve Mass. It has been quite some time since I have seen the church as densely packed as it was, although I can't say that it was tip-top full. There were still about 4 or 5 pews empty...those of you who are familiar with the church will know exactly where they were empty...right in the front, behind the Markes clan. There were many families who sat separately, just so they could find a spot, which lead to a great intermingling, which isn't the worst thing in the world. After a while, the crowd and resulting body heat proved to be too much for Mimi, so she and my parents trekked over to the chapel area, where it was much cooler and considerably less crowded.

Mass went off without too many hitches. Of course, it was long; much to long for any of the kids in there who were already antsy about Santa Claus and presents. The singing was wonderful, though. Maybe that was because my pew was surrounded by lots of great singers, including my nephews. And everyone knows the songs that you sing at Christmas time, so there isn't much room for guesswork there. We had an added treat this year, with the children of the church. As I may or may not have mentioned, we have finally succeeded in returning Sunday school to our church, since we have more than enough children to constitute a program of our own. One of the biggest things that we wanted to accomplish this year was having the children sing for Christmas. Thankfully, everyone, including the children, was cooperative and that went well. No, I didn't bring my camera in or a recording device, and I forgot my phone at home, so I couldn't have even snapped a grainy phone picture. It was truly a sight to be beheld. After communion, the children were gathered in front of the altar and sang three songs: "Children, Run Joyfully", "Away in A Manger", and "Silent Night". The first song, although it wasn't traditional, was a nice change of pace, and the kiddos thoroughly enjoyed it, as far as I could tell. It was a little bit of a bummer, because we didn't pull out the candles for "Silent Night" like we have every other year. It really adds a certain amount of ambiance, but no one asked me. They did turn the lights down, though, and I liked that. I won't lie, that song made me tear up, as it always does. It is very intense, especially with little voices singing it, and it brought to mind the recent tragedy in CT, and all of the parents who face silent nights without their little ones. 

After Mass was over, it was the usual milling about of people who haven't seen each other for years being reunited, children excitedly pulling their parents out the door so that they can go home and expedite the arrival of Santa, and farmers talking about "the big one" that's supposedly coming for us, making their own predictions. After all of the boys and my sisters talked to Mimi a little bit, we all went home. Well, we dropped Mimi off first, then we went home. My parents and I enjoyed a slice of peach pie, that we had originally intended to eat with lunch, but just didn't get around to. Mom and I got a few things together to make the next day easier, and then we all went to sleep at varying times. For whatever reason, I watched some of the Mass from St. Peter's with the Pope, like I always do. It's the exact same thing that I just came from, and it takes an eternity for them to do anything, and it's all translated by some dry priest, but I still find myself enchanted with it. And I never make it through the whole thing, either. I always check out sometime around the Gospel reading or the pope's homily, although this year, I think it was the 2nd reading. Oh well, such is life. 

All in all, it was a great day, and it really doesn't matter what gifts I may get today, because I am already richly blessed by the presence of everyone in my life. (I'm not saying I'm forfeiting my presents, though! I still would like those! :) )  I'm not sure what the rest of today will hold, although I'm sure it will be very interesting with all five boys, especially Cole! They say that we could get anywhere from four to ten inches of snow, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see how that pans out. Regardless, I hope that everyone has a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ten on Tuesday

1. I am in the midst of my first week of my three week Christmas break. I am loving this break so much! I love not having to constantly do homework or shuffle my schedule to accommodate my various obligations, I love not really having much of an agenda for my days. I'm just generally in love with break, if you couldn't tell! I know that this time will go much faster than I wish, and that I won't get this luxury forever, but I am soaking it in for the moment, and that's all that really matters!

2. I have become quite the professional babysitter as of late. I spent the better part of this weekend with the Moody/Mattson boys, due to work Christmas parties and such. I also spent today with a family friend's two y/o daughter. All around, it went quite well, so it was a win-win! Gotta love these times!

3. My heart breaks for everyone in Newtown, CT. There are no words for this tragedy, just lots of tears and prayers. I spent Friday night watching the Moody boys and Wyatt, and it was a little bit rough for me from an emotional standpoint. I showered them all with lots of affection and kind words, and said a prayer of gratitude for my nephews. I ended up covering Emily's Sunday school class this week, and it made me glad that she ended up with the 3rd/4th/5th grade group. (Actually, the group is comprised of 3 kids, one from each grade, and two of them are siblings. It is a great group of kids.) I really didn't know what we were going to do, so we freelanced. After going through an obligatory chapter from the book, we decided to bask in the beautiful morning sunlight and go on a "Christmas" scavenger hunt, which entailed finding church-related things starting with the letters in Christmas. By some sort of fate, we ended up in the shrine for our last "S" item. I didn't plan on mentioning it, but the kids mentioned the CT shooting, and seemed a bit troubled by it. We decided to light some candles, and we had a nice open-ended group prayer. (Which is a great exercise with their age group, fyi) Afterwards, we went in so that they could practice the carols that they will be singing at Christmas Eve Mass. One of the songs will be "Silent Night". For whatever reason, that song reminded me of the tragedy, and I felt quite overwhelmed with sadness. Lots of rambling thoughts about it, I know, but still...

4. On to much happier news! Tomorrow is Mr. Cole's first birthday!!! I can't believe how fast this year has flown! Cole is quite the happy boy, always having a bright smile on his face. He is very mobile and very drawn to the happenings of his siblings/cousins. He still doesn't seem like a one y/o, but then again, he never really seemed that much like a baby. I love you, Cole!!! Have a wonderful day!!! :)

5. I mentioned that I am essentially done shopping, but now I am essentially done wrapping my Christmas presents! Woo-hoo! I still have about four more gifts to wrap, but two of those are pending the arrival of my last Amazon order. (Thank heavens for has accounted for a good amount of my shopping this year!)

6. I'm pumped about tomorrow, because it's a big day for me, event-wise. I believe that I will be gathering with my "besties" to have a great lunch at Katy's Pantry in celebration of Shea's birthday (which was yesterday). Then, my even bigger plans are to go with some of my cousins to see the Christmas lights in Kingfisher! Yes, I've seen the lights lots of times, and they really don't change much, but I still think it will be a blast, especially with my cousins! I am in desperate need of some socialization, so that should fit the bill! I can't wait!!! :)

7. After having the book for about three months, I finally got around to reading my natural running book a couple of weeks ago. It had lots of great information, even if it dragged on forever. It was a real game-changer for me. I started out a few weeks ago doing the workout program that accompanied the change to natural running, but then finals week and the great break-up debacle and colder temps and a general lack of motivation hit me. Ugh. I'm sick of starting over, but I always seems to find some sort of rationalization to quit, just when I'm gaining momentum. I think it is high time that I find an accountability partner, so that I can hang on to my goals for longer than a week or two. I would love any and all suggestions on gaining motivation that anyone might have to offer, because I really am at a loss right now.

8. I can't remember if I ever mentioned it or not, but I think that I will be making myself a t-shirt quilt out of some of my old high school t-shirts that I love, but don't want to keep in my drawers for all eternity. I have a cousin (actually, it's my cousin's wife) who is extraordinarily talented at quilting. She will be teaching a class at the local quilt shop, so I think that it would be well worth my time and money to capitalize on this great opportunity!

9. I have really been dragging my feet on my OSU admissions. I know, I know, I shouldn't be, but I did. That has been one of my aims over this break, to get all of that stuff rounded up before I go back to school in January.  Truth be told, I had everything but the scholarship essays completed. The other night, I finally made time to earnestly work on these, and I made great progress. I completed two of the three, and I have made some definite progress on the remaining one. I never realized how difficult it is to stay within a 250-word limit, but then again, I knock out thousand-word blogs like it's nothing. Hopefully all will go well with that venture!

10. I really don't know what to put on this one, so I guess I'll just end by reminding everyone to slow down and remember the real reason for the season. Give your loved ones an extra hug and kiss, and don't procrastinate so much. Don't become so caught up in the worries of the future that you forget that you have the gift of today. Lots of cheesy cliches, but they are worthy of repeating often! Have a great week! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reunited at Last!

I haven't forsaken my blog. I swear. Here's the deal: My life has been in a state of entropy since my last post, but much more so than usual. They say that when God tests you, he either lets everything happen at once, or nothing happen at all. Obviously, it has proved to be the latter of the two. (I think I worded that right? I don't know.) 

Let's take it from the top, why don't we?

I'll begin by discussing my classes. Physics was a bear and a half in the last three weeks. We started new material that I really wasn't comfortable with, and we didn't have much time to go over it. We also were given the task of constructing an egg drop carrier for our lab final. That endeavor didn't quite go as well as my group had intended, because our egg broke, but we still ended up getting a good grade overall. (I think our awesome force diagram and explanatory paper sealed that deal.) During this time, I also came to the realization that I had to get at least an 85 (I think) on my final to keep my A, which I was barely clinging to. I started freaking out about it until I realized that I couldn't get below an 81 in the class, so I calmed down some. Also, Emily told me that she thought that I "over-studied", which was the reason I hadn't done as well on my other tests. I held tight to that mentality over this past weekend, when I had zero motivation to study. Yes, I did still study some, but I didn't spend every waking moment on it. Guess what? It worked. I rocked the final, and I retained my precious 4.0 for yet another semester! (I know that that won't last much longer, but I'm loving it as much as possible!) 

Calculus wasn't too bad in the midst of this. We were learning about infinite series and convergence, which is totally foreign from what we were doing. (Iterated integrals) It started out being a royal pain in the rear, but ended up not being too bad. Well, actually, I ended up watching youtube videos of a guy from MIT showing how to do some of those problems, and that helped me more than my professor ever could have. Because of that, I rocked my chapter test! At the beginning of the semester, our professor told the class that if we made it through all of the material and didn't have new material on our final, and if we had at least a 95 average in the class, she would exempt us from the final. I kinda forgot about that until last week. I'm not really sure how, but I did. (Yes, Emily, I forgot something for once!) Needless to say, because I aced the series test, I ended up with an average above a 95 & I got out of the Calc final!!!!!!!!!! I was very excited about that, since this hasn't been the easiest semester for me, especially with that class! I am done learning actual calculus, and now I will mostly learn applications! Praise the Lord!!!

Literature never has been an issue. It is a breath of fresh air to not have to stress about this one class. I love my professor, and she does a great job of making dry literature come to life. The final for that class is tomorrow, and I'm not too terribly concerned about it.

What else has been happening in my life? Hmm...let's see. 

I ended up rearranging my dorm room, and it really seems to flow much better than before. The feng shui is finally right, and it makes me happy! (It's the little things in life, I tell you.) I also hung up some Christmas lights, and it has really spruced the room up. I will probably end up keeping the lights up until I move out, only because I'm terribly proud of the job I did hanging them up, and I hate to see it go to waste!

I am done Christmas shopping! I didn't think that I would be able to, but I finished it mostly last night. I spent a little more, okay, a LOT more than I originally intended to, but I feel like now is as good a time as any to go all out on gifts, seeing as I have a virtually dispensable income with very few financial obligations, and I know that it won't be that way forever. Also, my family is very much worthy of it, because they have been amazingly supportive of me this year! 'Tis the season! :)

So, I'm not quite sure if you've noticed that I don't ever have much to say about my roommate. Well, for the better part of this semester, I haven't ever really felt connected to her. Last week, that finally changed. We had a little bonding moment, and now, I feel much more comfortable with her. Okay, so it still isn't the same as last year, but things are going much better between us, and I am very grateful for that! 

So, one of the last lingering questions you might have...where is Tevis in all of this hubbub? Good question.

Here's the deal: We broke up. Today. I can't really say that I am utterly devastated about this, although I am sad. Truth be told, it was inevitable. Without saying too much, I will leave it at the fact that we were growing in separate directions, and we were beginning to change. Both of us have important things that we need to direct our attention towards, and I think we can do that better apart than together. As much as I love him, I know that it is infinitely better to do this now than three years down the road when we have even more time invested. I have spent lots of time soul searching and praying about it, and I believe that God has lead me to this decision. Honestly, I am coping with it pretty well, so I think that everything will be just fine. I do believe that I will be spending much more time focusing on myself and my relationships with my friends and family, because I feel that that is all I really need right now. 

I am ready for this Christmas break, and to have some time to physically and mentally recharge for the next three weeks. I have a few plans over break, but they are nothing too terribly exciting. 

I hope that all is well with everyone else, wherever you may be, and that your Christmas preparations are going smoothly!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tests, Applications, and Other News

In case you were wondering, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth...just yet!

The past two weeks have been beyond exhausting, as I fear the remainder of the semester will continue to be. Since Monday, I have taken a Physics and Calc II test. That might not seem so bad, just thinking about it, but actually having done it is another thing. I think that those tests weren't testing my knowledge so much as they have tested my sanity, patience, and need of caffeine. I literally spent almost all of last weekend in front of my parents' love seat in my little nest of homework and old quizzes. As much as I would love to say otherwise, I still have yet to get that elusive "A" on any of my tests in Physics. This is really frustrating to me, because I can do just fine on homework, quizzes, and labs, but I can't keep it together on a test. I have always been a famously good test-taker, but for whatever reason, I get so stinking nervous when it comes time for Physics tests. For the record, my grade is still just fine, but I have high expectations for myself, and I want more than just average, I want excellence. Perhaps my time as queen of the 4.0 is coming to an end...such is life. From what I hear, I will have to expect more of this in the future, so I guess it's time to get used to that.

On the flipside, I spent drastically less time preparing for my Calc test, I didn't do as well on the quizzes in there, and I aced the test. How does that even happen?! I'm not complaining, I'm just a little bit surprised is all.

I could mention lots of other things, but I think it would be best to mention the biggest highlight of my week: Tevis and I have now been dating for two years! :) He makes me very happy, and I am very blessed to have him in my life! We celebrated by going out to lunch at a local Chinese place, when he gave me a beautiful bracelet with cross charms on it. (He always picks the good gifts!) I love him very much, and I can't wait to see what this next year has in store for us!

PLC has really been keeping me busy as of late. We're getting started on our new community outreach project to encourage more people to come out to our basketball games. We've had to be in contact with many local businesses, churches, etc, but hopefully, it won't be for naught in the end.

I've also been busy filling out scholarship applications and rounding up transcripts/letters of recommendation  for said applications. Speaking of, I really need to finish up my OSU admissions essays, as much as I really don't want to. I know that it won't be that bad, because they only have to be 250 words in length which is, let's face it, not going to be a problem for me in the least. Well, actually, it could be semi-problematic only for the fact that I won't have enough space to say what I really want to. I'll get it figured out sooner or later, so I'm not too worried!

Last highlight of the week: this post is brought to you by my parents' new Wi-Fi adapter!!! Woo-hoo! I am definitely loving our new high-speed internet that we supposedly could never get out here. I'm not quite sure what they were thinking, but it is working just fine so far! In other tech news from my house, I believe that both of my parents are greatly enjoying their new iTouch, and have taken it with them on all of their great journeys.

Hope all is well with everyone else! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursday Tidbits

Here are a few interesting tidbits from the past couple of weeks...Enjoy!

-As you may have seen in my monstrous picture post from yesterday, I made my red glitter slippers, and even better, they turned out amazingly!!! :) Wanna know the even better news? They are super duper easy to create, and might possibly be a more economical way to create your own cute glittery shoes! Here is a link to my pin, with a complete tutorial. I love my glitter slippers!

(One looks a little gloppy, but it turned out just fine when it dried.) 
-I have found my new music obsession: Jack Johnson. I love his music, I love him, that is all. If you are in need of some mellow music to relax to after a long day, you should check him out! :)

-As you all know, yesterday was Halloween, but it was an even bigger deal for my family because it was my dad's birthday! I ended up taking the afternoon off from tutoring so that I could spend some time with him  since he also had the day off. It was a great afternoon, and I loved getting to see him. My dad has been on the prowl for the "Back to the Future" movies for the past few months, and I ended up finding the 3-disc combo pack of the entire trilogy the other day, so I got him that for his present. It was a red-letter day for him, because he ended up getting an iTouch from my mom. I should probably mention that my dad isn't the most technologically tuned, but he has been pretty receptive to it. Since he spends lots of time on the road while on his mail route, he listens to the radio A LOT, probably more than he has ever cared to, and he gets tired of hearing the same songs over and over again, and he hates to carry around lots of CDs, and his Jeep radio isn't XM compatible, so he decided that an iPod would be the best solution to that problem. As an added bonus, my parents will have it to take on road trips and other ventures, so it's a win-win solution! Happy Birthday Dad!!!

-I vaguely mentioned that PLC was sponsoring a campus blood drive a few weeks ago. We had some pretty lofty goals of breaking our former record of 64 donations and breaking the other campus's record of 138 donations. Well, we didn't quite meet the second goal, but we soundly beat the first goal! We ended up with 132 sign-ups and 101 actual donations!!! I was amazed by our turnout! By noon, the blood drive ladies ended up running out of t-shirts, refreshments, and donation bags, and they were scrambling to get more supplies from the headquarters! Holy cow! Needless to say, tonight at the first basketball game of the season, our group was recognized with an award. What I didn't realize would happen was that I had to give an impromptu speech. Woah! I had about three minutes notice, but it only had to be a basic statement of support, so I only talked for about thirty seconds. Thirty of the most nerve racking seconds of my life. I powered through and I didn't do too bad, although I think I said 'thank you' about five times. Not bad for a last-second speech, right? I am super proud of our promotional efforts, and I can't wait to see how well we do next time!

-I'm all for giving each holiday its due respect and time, but is it horrible that I am already excited about Christmas? I've already started thinking about gift ideas for everyone, but I have yet to make any real progress on the matter. Oh well, I still have loads of time!

-Last tidbit of news: I am enrolled for next semester! My schedule will consist of Differential Equations (which is only a three-hour class, PTL!), Statistics, Psychology, Ancient Arts & Cultures (my humanities class), and Cardio Circuit Fitness (My P.E. class). Quite the gamut of classes, but it should be quite the interesting semester! Thankfully, it only amounts to thirteen hours, but I'll still probably have my hands full. Also, I'll probably scale back on my tutoring hours next semester. I need more "me" time, so I can keep everything afloat, if you get my drift. I'm excited about next semester, so here's hoping it'll be great!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Pictures :)

We've had a few great Halloween celebrations over the past few days, and I've taken some pretty amazing pictures (if I must say so myself), so I decided this deserved its own post!

Gina played host to a Halloween party on Saturday night, which was when I got some of my best they are!
Kyle, the Cowboy (for the 3rd or 4th year in a row, if you're  keeping track at home)

Wyatt, the Ninja

Cody, aka Setting Sun...btw, this is the same Indian costume that has been in our family since my sisters were young, in case you noticed!

Cole, the adorable little bear :)

I love Andy's face!!!


Our wonderful theme foods :)

Cole & Emily!

I love this picture of my mom and Cole

Jeremy's niece, Zoey, the pirate

My dad and Cole having some male bonding time

This just might be the best picture I have ever taken of Kyle...just sayin!

The group picture, with everyone trying to keep Cole from escaping...oops!

Cole escaped, but here's everyone else!

Taylor & Me 

There are no words for this picture, but I love it!

Lots of great pictures, and LOTS of great fun! Yes, I ended up being Dorothy, complete with my red glitter slippers, which were very well received by everyone else! The highlights from Gina's party were the pinata and bobbing for apples. I would've taken a few pictures of those games, but my camera batteries decided that that would be the best time to go kaput, so that plan was a bust. Really though, the kids loved having games of their own. Also, for future reference, if you plan on having a Halloween party that includes bobbing for apples, plan on saving that for the end of the night when the kids are ready to ditch their costumes and take a bath, if you catch my drift. Thankfully, we did that and it worked well, but just in case...well, you know...

I managed to get a few good pictures from today, although none were of my adorable nephews. I did see them, but it was before they were all decked out in their costumes...good thing we had the party on Saturday! Tonight at church, they had a little costume party, so here are some more pictures!

Here is Tevis's little brother, with some of his friends, as Van Halen...Those zebra pants are pretty intense, not gonna lie!

Tevis, as hero! :)

I love this picture of us! I absolutely love it! :)
I think it is fair to say that this has been a successful and fun Halloween...probably the most fun I've had with this holiday in a long time! I love it!!! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Break Highlights!

I had a wonderful fall break. I really did. However, it amazes me how fast four days go by, because it seemed like a blur. Regardless, I will tell you about some of my adventures I went on over break!

Thursday began with Andy coming over to my house for the day. We had a great day together, just him, me, and my mom. I think he enjoyed having all of the attention on him for a while. Emily and Cole came by around lunch time, much to Andy's pleasure. I should mention that Andrew is still quite fond of Cole. He goes back and forth on calling him his "little cutie pie" or "Coley Platypus". (I think Phineas & Ferb has a lot to do with the last one, but we still haven't figured out why he calls him that. It is incredibly cute, if you ask me.) Speaking of Cole, here's an adorable picture I took of him when I picked him up from the babysitter the other day!
At the end of the day, Cody and Kyle came off of the bus, and joined in the fun! Good times!

Friday was the highlight of break: my long-awaited tour of OSU!!! We headed down to Stillwater bright and early, and we got settled in. We started out in the Seretean Center (Yes, that's where we played for state band, PiHi people.), where they showed a promotional video that generally told us that our wildest dreams would come true if we attended their college. (It was kinda cheesy, if you asked me, but it was fine.) I felt a little bit awkward going on a tour as a transfer student, because literally everyone else there was still in high school. The tour itself was nice and my tour guide was very excited about everything, but I really didn't get much useful information out of the tour. I did, however, get a picture in front of the library fountain, which was dyed orange for homecoming week!
Not the best picture in the world, but it was also chilly and the wind was literally blowing 40 mph, so you can't have too high of expectations! I came to the conclusion that it should be virtually impossible to be out of shape on that campus, because I felt like we walked at least two or three miles going everywhere on campus. (I was feeling the burn for sure.) After the tour, my parents and I caught a quick lunch at the Union, which had about eight different restaurants in it. It was very busy and somewhat overstimulating. Also, the guy taking our order at Chik-Fil-A was virtually impossible to understand. After lunch, I made a quick visit to the scholarship office to talk to someone about possibilities on that avenue. That was almost a waste of time, because the guy nicely, but somewhat condescendingly, showed me how to go on their website and see what scholarships I was eligible for. (Which I have already seen at least twice when I was doing some research on the matter.) That was all I got from that office, so I left and caught up with my parents, who were perusing the apparel store. They literally have everything OSU imaginable. T-shirts, sweaters, cardigans, jeans, dresses, baby clothes, t-shirts, athletic shorts, cowboy boots, EVERYTHING! I was in love...just saying! As we were leaving, though, my dad accidentally opened one of the emergency exit doors and set off the alarm...oops! Really, though, it looked like a normal exit, and I probably would've done the same thing. 

I decided that it would be advantageous to schedule an appointment with an advisor, and I can't begin to explain how happy I am that I did. I will preface this by saying that I got more useful information out of that than I did during the entire tour. Since there were six of us visiting with the College of Education (which ironically isn't just for also includes aviation administration, athletic training, and a couple of other things that currently escape me.), the lady had one general session with all of us. I enjoyed talking to this lady, as she had a wealth of knowledge about the college, and their expectations. Furthermore, she was straightforward in the information she gave us, which I really appreciated. I received some good news in the fact that I should be guaranteed a job upon my graduation, and most of my math education classes could have only seven students and a professor, which is even better!!! Also, I found out that the majority of their divisional scholarships go to the students in the upper-division classes, and there is a lot of money that goes to that department, so that's even better! :) 

We were given packets that included a degree sheet and a progression of classes, and I noticed that it mentioned something about me having to take the OGET (OK General Education Test) at the end of this school year. That was news to me, so I decided to ask a few questions about that at the end of the session. I was directed to one of the actual advisors, so I trotted over to try to talk with her before it was too late. (It was already 3:00 on a Friday afternoon, so I was cutting it close.) As luck would have it, she happened to be in her office, and had time to talk with me. When we began talking, she was very nice (as was everyone else at the university), but was also somewhat condescending. I felt like she wasn't really hearing what I was saying at first, and was just trying to shuffle me out of her office. I explained who I was and what I was hoping to accomplish at OSU. She basically told me that I would have to stay an extra semester or maybe even year to finish my degree, only because she didn't think I could handle taking all of the math classes that I  was required to take. She also thought that I would have to take Calc III. 

Let me pause the story right here, because that was a battle point for me. You see, here at NOC, Calc I & II are offered as two five-hour courses, which adds up to 10 hours of Calculus studies. At OSU, it is offered as Calc I, II, & III, in a 4-3-3 sequence, which also adds up to 10 hours of Calc studies. NOC's sequence is more rigorous (as you might have guessed from all of my previous posts of how intensive it is) than OSU's actually is. And, as you may have guessed, our Calc rotation overlaps Calc III, which means that when we transfer, we bypass Calc III. So, her statement about me having to take it naturally ticked me off a little bit.

After I tried to briefly explain this, she politely told me that I even if we overlapped, it still might not be good enough because it was more "rigorous" there. (Imagine a condescending tone to that statement, though.) I tried explaining once again how things were here, and I even pulled out my transcript to show her my grades in all of my math classes. She glanced at it, not even long enough to get anything out of it, if you asked me. Finally, she asked me what my actual number grade was in Calc I and what my current number grade is in Calc II. I explained that I got a 97 in Calc I, and I currently have a very high A in Calc II. And I explained that it was taught via ITV, which meant that I virtually taught myself everything I know about Calculus. That was the point when the light turned on, and she started talking to me like I was a real person, who she wanted to talk to. That was also the point when she typed our course transfer number into her computer, and she told me that, lo and behold, I should be able to bypass Calc III, no problem. Hmm. Then she proceeded to tell me that I might only have to stay an extra semester, only because of student teaching, and maybe not even that, if I was willing to do a little bit of summer work. I figured that would be the point to mention my experience in tutoring and working for a math professor, which she really lit up about. She proceeded to tell me that I should be eligible for some divisional grant money, multiple scholarships, and a position at their tutoring center, not to mention a double-major if I took one specific math class I already will have to take. She told me that I would have no problem with the OGET (it's like the ACT, so they say), and I can begin observations next fall. Wow! It's amazing how that situation turned around, but I am thankful it did. By the time I left her office, she told me that she would be sad if she didn't see me again in the spring to enroll there. For the record, no, I don't hold any of her comments against her, because I see where she was coming from, but I am glad that she took the time to actually get to know me a little bit more.

What I didn't realize though, was that while I was making some progress with an advisor, my parents were in the lobby inadvertently making some connections of their own. I guess, while they were waiting for me, a man sat down in the lobby and asked them a couple of questions. After they talked for a bit, he proceeded to introduce himself as none other than Wes Watkins. (You Okies probably recognize the name, otherwise, look him up on Wikipedia, you'll be surprised!) After they talked some more, his wife, Lou, came and sat next to my parents and talked some more. She asked my parents about their lives, their other children, me, etc, which was about when I walked out of the office. My mom told me to sit down, which was surprising, because they were chomping at the bit to leave before I went to talk to the advisor. I had a nice conversation with Lou and Wes, although I really had no idea who they were. They were incredibly nice people, who were just as common as anyone else. As irony would have it, I actually know their daughter-in-law, who is the PLC sponsor for Stillwater. Strange how these things work out, isn't it? We made that connection after talking for a while. The more amazing part of our exchange with the Watkins family was the fact that I met some big names. Lou purposely introduced me both the assistant dean and the dean of the college of education. Holy Cow! (I should add that I didn't ask to be introduced; that was literally something she did when they happened to walk by, so it was even more special to me!) Before I left, she hugged me, and gave me her email and cell phone number to use in case I ran into any issues or needed any additional assistance in my application process. As my parents and I left the college of education, they asked if I knew who Lou & Wes actually were. I had no idea, but I just knew that they were nice people who happened to know lots of administration. That was when they explained that Wes was a former Congressman, and that Lou was on the  Board of Regents for the college, and had her master's in education. Say what?! Talk about a surprise, and feeling incredibly humbled by that whole exchange! 

After starting out the day feeling pretty tentative about OSU, I think it is almost a dead lock that I will be going there next year. They literally rolled out the "orange" carpet for me, and made me feel at home. (I really did feel that way, despite how cynical I may have sounded earlier in the post.) The campus is big, but it's not really as big as one would think. I loved it, and I think that I could be very happy there! 

So, yes, that is how the majority of my fall break went, and I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced everything that I did on Friday! Call it fate, divine intervention, whatever you want, but it was all literally being in the right place at the right time, and I'm okay with that! As one of my friends always says, there are no small decisions in life, and nothing is a coincidence. I am a true believer in that now, and I am ready to begin the next step in my life!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ten on Tuesday

1. I took a Calc test last Thursday, much to my displeasure. I say that, but actually, it wasn't that bad. It was freakishly easy; I just need an attitude adjustment. I was pretty frustrated though, because our teacher really wasn't doing a great job teaching the material. She misused multiple physics terms that happen to overlap in our Calc material, and I felt like she should have had at least basic knowledge of the terminology. Perhaps this is a sign that I have already picked up a lot from my Physics class, and that my Physics teacher has properly ingrained the material into us students. Regardless, we forged through, and, as I mentioned, the test was just fine. I was very pleased with my score and the fact that I got the bonus question correct! Thank heavens Fall Break is right around the corner, because this five days of Calc per week business is wearing on me!

2. I wish could be as excited about my Physics test as I was my Calc test. I did just fine on it, but I didn't do as well as I had anticipated, which was frustrating. I made lots of silly mistakes, but I guess I'll have to pick up on the Physics study time before this next test if I expect to improve my score on my next test. Otherwise, Physics is interesting, and I love my teacher! That is all. (BTW, Late Brit Lit is going just fine; we're moving into the Victorian Age, which I think I will like!)

3. Last Wednesday was my friend Mary's birthday. Tonisha and I decided to treat her to supper at our favorite Mexican restaurant in town, where we spent quite some time laughing, chatting, and catching up on our lives! I love nights like those...true friends really are a treasure to be beheld! Speaking of Mexican food, I had some authentic (and I mean authentic) Mexican food at Tevis's best friend's house on Saturday night. On the menu were pork rinds (the raw looking ones) with chicharrones (I think). It was an interesting taste experience, and I'll leave it at that :)

4. For all of you Pi-Hi people, fun fact time: This year the school carnival was moved to the grade school, instead of being at the high school. It seemed weird to think about it being elsewhere, because it has been at the high school for what seems like forever. I happened to go with Emily to help her wrangle kiddos, and I must say that it was a pleasant surprise. Lately, the high school hasn't been as into it, and really, the games are for the younger kids, so I think that's why it worked so well. The games were pretty simple, but the kids loved them. Even better, it was a beautiful evening, so they could also go play on the playground with their friends. Overall, it was a smooth transition, so hooray for that!

5. Emily has been in Las Vegas for the past few days on a business trip, so I was responsible for tending to her Sunday school class this past week. (They finally moved those back to Bison, instead of only at Hennessey, btw....Praise the Lord!!!) She teaches the 3rd-5th grade group, which only has three kids, who are all delightful to have in class, so it really is a good thing! As per Emily's request, I gave them a quick tutorial on rosary making, which went over quite well, and was not as disastrous as it could be. I had some extra help from Gina and Andrew, so it made everything even smoother. Hooray also for good Sunday School sessions!

6. One of the more enjoyable things that we have done for PLC recently happened last night. We usually go on one joint cultural trip with three groups. Last year we went to a dinner theater in Wichita, but this year, we went to a murder mystery evening in Guthrie! It was recommended that we dressed in character, which was 1920's era, and everyone did a great job of that! I'll skip over the minor details, but I'll suffice to say that my character was a secret vampire, and I had lots of fun dressing up for it! Here is a picture of me with my roommate and neighbor, posing in front of the B&B. Extra shout-outs to my mom, Gina, & Tevis for helping me pull my costume together at the last second, it turned out great!
A couple of guys kinda photobombed it, but I love this picture otherwise!
7. Next week is a big week for campus, a blood drive, TV show taping, and a promotional blitz in all classes for the blood drive. Next week will be anything but slow, but I guess I'd rather be busy than totally bored out of my skull, so you do what you gotta do!

8. Because I don't want a firestorm of page views from the very mentioning of some key words, I'll be somewhat vague about my next statement. The major televised event that was on all the major channels this evening left me feeling frustrated and confused. At this point, I'd be more for increased microphone control because the behavior of those involved was downright immature. There was more emphasis on mudslinging and interrupting than actually listening and responding to the questions proposed. Let's just get this done with already, for Heaven's sake!

9. Fall Break is literally less than 24 hours away! Hallelujah!!! I won't be able to totally escape homework or studying, but I don't have to be physically present, so I'll take that trade. Over break, I think I might attempt a new crafting project of making my own glitter flats for a hopeful Halloween costume. I'll have to get back with you on how it goes...hopefully this project won't disappoint! 

10. Really though, I'm more excited about what's happening on Friday...drumroll please...I'm taking a trip to Stillwater with my parents to tour OSU and talk with an advisor!!! I have high hopes for that also, and I'm sure it won't disappoint! Even better, this Saturday is their Homecoming game, so I'll get to see the campus in its full Homecoming glory! I had better get a good photo op in front of the library, or else I'll be bummed out. (I think I'll need a new orange shirt for the occasion, so I don't look out of place! :) ) I am super-duper excited to see how everything will go here...some prayers for good scholarship opportunities to there would be much appreciated! Thanks! :)

Tomorrow, I only have one class, I'm getting my hair cut, having a mini date night with Tevis, and going home at some point, so it should be a great day! Here's hoping! I hope everyone has a great week!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 5: Morning Sky

So, I decided that I had to finish what I started with the photo challenge, so here is day five, at long last--the morning sky. I really could have taken a better picture of like a sunrise, but, let's face it: I love sleep, and I'm willing to settle for a picture of the sky at 8:30 AM, because getting up at 5:30 or 6 isn't for this girl! 
The view from my front door
I think this is included on my list, because we should be thankful for each sunrise we see. Each sunrise means another day of life that we have been blessed with, another chance to go out into the world and see what it has to offer, another opportunity to be with those we love and pursue our passions. If you ponder it long enough, a sunrise has a lot of meaning. Thank the Lord for sunrises and second chances!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ten Things That Have Happened Since I Last Blogged

I have been terribly busy during the past two weeks, and blogging definitely hasn't been at the forefront of my mind. Also, I haven't felt very inspired about writing, but I'm giving it a shot again!

1. Last week was nightmarishly busy. I really didn't have that much free time because of all of my obligations. I'll start with Monday. I had class, tutoring, a meeting, Physics lab, and a tour of Enid with the PLC groups from the other campuses. When I see on the screen, it doesn't sound like that much for one day, but, believe me, it was. Our Enid tour took about five hours total, and included stops at the new Cherokee Strip Museum, Simpson's Museum/Studio (they're out of the retail game, in case you didn't know), the Enid Symphony Center, and the Planetarium here on campus. I had the most fun at the ESC, because it is one of my favorite places in the whole town. That, and I feel very glamorous walking through the ballrooms, which I also love! When we got done for the evening, I was exhausted, to say the least.

2. Tuesday, us four Sophomores went to OKC to tape an episode of the game show we were involved with last year. I wasn't exactly looking forward to the trip, but I ended up having a good time. I can't go into great detail about the show itself, but I can say that we had a great meal at Eischen's on our way home, which made the entire trip worthwhile!

3. Wednesday was the most uneventful, and that made me happy. I had a nice evening at church with Tevis, and a great talk with him afterwards. It was the perfect way to unwind from everything else!

4. Thursday and Friday were spent at a student leadership conference in OKC that I was chosen to attend. As expected, I had a great time with my fellow NOC attendees. I'll give you the highlights of the retreat...We got to the Crowne Plaza hotel, where the retreat was going to be, and also where we expected to be staying. (It was a NICE hotel.) Apparently, we never got the memo about that, though, because we spent about ten minutes trying to figure out the name our reservations were under, just to find out that we were staying at the Comfort Inn across the street. Talk about the let-down of the year... When we went to the event for that night, we got there to see that everyone was wearing suits/dresses/etc. and we were all wearing jeans and t-shirts. For the record, we were told that there wasn't a dress code, and that casual attire was allowed, so we really didn't miss that memo, but we felt a little out of place. We didn't have the best table service at the meal, because it took twenty minutes from the time the first person at our table got food to the time when the last person got food. There was also an odd exchange with one of the waiters, who deliberately dumped a guy at our table's salad fork off of his salad plate while clearing it...not sure if he was new or disgruntled, but it was a bit odd. There was an evening session with a couple of higher ed dignitaries that seemed very scripted and stiff. (We though that it would be more like a mixer.) Thankfully, none of the Friday events disappointed, and I learned some interesting tidbits that will definitely help me as a leader, so hooray for that!

5. While I was at the retreat, I did quite a bit of homework in our downtime at the hotel. It was like the perfect storm because I had about three different Physics projects going on. I had some lab homework questions to finish up, an online quiz to get figured out and submitted before Monday morning, some regular homework problems for extra practice, and a Unit test to study for. Yuck. Thank heavens I had a good understanding of the material, otherwise I would've been on the verge of insanity! I muddled through, and by the time I got back on Friday afternoon, I had all of the practice homework, most of the online quiz, and a little bit of the lab completed. I had to go over to a friend's house to get some extra help on the lab work, but I think I came out alright! I finished the quiz late Friday night, and I was done studying by Saturday morning! I took the test yesterday, and I felt pretty good about it, besides the fact that it was extremely lengthy! We shall see.

6. Saturday was Tevis's step-sister's wedding in Sand Springs. I was really excited about it, minus the fact that it was held outside. And it was about 45 degrees. (More on the wedding in a sec...) Because of the weather, I knew that I'd have to alter my choice of attire to better fit the weather. With some help from my mom/sisters, we decided that I would wear a sweater dress, but what they really thought was that I needed some leather boots to wear to complete the ensemble, so that led to Gina, Emily, and me making a spur-of-the-moment trip to town to buy boots. I think it was one of those things that was meant to be, because my mom had a 20% off coupon for the store we planned on going to, and once we got there, they had the exact boots I had envisioned in my size and in the right color! Also, Emily found herself a new shirt to wear to a business conference she's going to this week, so it was a win-win trip for everyone! After we were done shopping, we stopped by a local wing restaurant to pick up some take-out for Gina & Emily, and I stopped in at Starbucks to grab a coffee. I tried their pumpkin spice latte, but I really wasn't impressed. And I payed an ungodly amount of money for what I got. Nothing against the great people of Starbucks, but I'll stick with my local coffee houses, who are more budget-friendly. On our way home, my sisters and I had a great talk. It is times like this that I remember how incredibly blessed I am to have sisters like mine!

7. Back to the wedding. Tevis ended up driving his brother and me to the wedding, and we had a great little trip. It was an almost two-hour drive, but it really didn't seem that long, since we had all kinds of conversation. The wedding itself was beautiful, even if was freezing outside. The upside was that the reception was held in a building  next to the ceremony, and it had a fireplace, which was warming us all! Tevis, Kamen, and I didn't stay long after the ceremony, though. Since it was such a long drive, we decided to get back on the road so we could get back to Enid at a decent hour of day. When we got back to Enid, their dad was actually in town for some family reasons, so we went and grabbed a bite to eat with him. It was the second time I've ever met their dad, but it is fair to say that we got along wonderfully! He even invited me to come visit him in Denver for a couple of days when Tevis goes up there sometime soon, so we'll have to see how that one goes! Here are some pictures from the evening! (PS-I'm loving the orchid on Tevis, even if he isn't!)

Symphony thought she was a princess in her flower girl dress!

I absolutely love this picture of us!
8. I'm sick of Calc II. It's not even Fall Break and I'm ready to be done with it. I'm not a big fan of my teacher, I'm sick of hearing about vector-valued functions and parameters, and I'm sick of having to go to that class every day of my life. We never have a day off in that class. Ever. I'd love to have just one day in that class that we didn't have class or homework to make up in place of class being cancelled. One more week until Fall Break...hopefully I can make it that long!

9. I'm also tired of meetings. But you already knew that one!

10. Last night, after I came out of my Physics coma, I did something I didn't think I'd ever do...I got a Pinterest account! It was mostly at my boss's suggestion, because she loves to Pin, but I did it, and I love it! I already have so many pins on my boards, it's not even funny! However, I am also feeling more inspired to have more of a DIY take on my Christmas presents this year, as a more economical and practical take on gift giving. Pinterest is officially my Internet happy place!

Here's hoping for a great, restful week for everyone!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 4: Leaves

I really wasn't feeling too inspired by this prompt, but I'll forge onward anyway. Today's idea was to capture a picture of leaves. Perhaps this challenge was meant for later in the year, when the leaves are changing colors, etc, but then again, at this rate, the leaves will never get to that point here in muggy ol' Oklahoma. (It is 80 degrees going into the first week of October, what is this?) All comments aside, here's my shot:

I took this picture while walking to work earlier today. It is one of my favorite views on our campus, showcasing some of the landscaping/architecture. Year after year they repeat their cycle. Each spring the trees bloom. Leaves come shortly after. In the fall, they begin their gradual descent to the ground below. Sometime between fall and winter, the trees are eventually barren of any ornamentation, until spring rolls around again. Perhaps the reason to be grateful for leaves is that they are a symbol of life itself, and that is enough for me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 3: Happiness

I was going to post this yesterday, but I just couldn't find the inspiration, so here I am today to ponder happiness. I'm having some trouble coming up with a picture that just screams out happiness, because there really are lots of things that make me happy. Only for the fact that I don't think that this will be covered in any of the future posts, I will talk about one of my favorite things: Running!

Yes, I have quite the collection of pictures of me running. As you might guess, the top two pictures are throwbacks from my days in high school track!

I could go on with a long, drawn-out story about how I came to love running so much, but that really isn't the purpose of this post. (Although, that really is a story that is worth due time.) Believe it or not, running really does supply a source of happiness for me. For some people, maybe not so much, but for me, yes, absolutely! When I'm running, it's like my "me-time" when I can just reflect on life. I love running outside mostly for the fact that I like the tie to nature I feel when I'm out there on the road. I can breathe in the fresh air, and see what nature has to offer. Also, there is the added perk of the endorphin rush one gets after exercising! (aka runner's high)

I am grateful for the source of happiness that running is to me, among all of the other little things that elicit happiness in my life. I truly believe that life is simply too short to spend it getting down on little things. I know that there are many people who suffer from chronic mental illnesses that inhibit them from fully experiencing happiness. Sometimes, I get down in the dumps, for no particular reason, and nothing compares to the heaviness that envelops my heart. However, when I get to that point, I've learned to take a step back, re-evaluate, and realize that there are plenty of things to be happy about! In my literature class, we have been reading through Keats' various odes, and they're pretty depressing, if you ask me. John Keats himself was a morose guy, who was always living in fear of death. As it would turn out, he died from tuberculosis when he was in his thirties. I wonder how much longer he would have lived had he had a better outlook on life? for thought.

What is your source of happiness? I'd love to know! :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day 2: Smile

Today's challenge photo is a smile. Initially, I thought of the song by Uncle Kracker, which is actually one of my favorite songs. I also thought of that one line from the movie "Elf"..."I love smiling; smiling's my favorite!"...or something along those lines. I had to dig back in my picture files, but I found what I think are the best smiles in the whole wide world...

Okay, so Andy and Cole aren't really smiling...wait a they are!


 Who couldn't love all of those adorable smiles?! They melt my heart every time!

I am very, very grateful for these smiles in my life! They can brighten up the dreariest day in a flash! My nephews are great comforters in times of distress, whether they realize it or not. Just in general, though, there is nothing like a smile from a random stranger at the just the right moment to ensure that everything is going to be just fine, or to restore your faith in humanity. I am grateful for those smiles, also, as I think we all are. I'm not sure why it is, but I feel like a smile is the single most reassuring thing, and even better, it's free!!!

I won't beat the topic to death, but I would like to end with a quote I saw the other day that I believe sums it up the best: "Don't let the world change your smile; let your smile change the world."