Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ten on Tuesday

1. Oh, where to start? I suppose I'll start with the fact that I have been enjoying my time babysitting Cody and Kyle. We have been on many, many adventures in our few weeks we have spent together. Among our adventures have been a trip to the library/Braum's, a picnic at the park, and tomorrow we will be going on a venture to the splash pad. So far, all of our previous trips have been a hit with them, and I don't think that our coming trip will disappoint. As an added bonus, Wyatt and Andy will be joining us! I can't wait for our trip!

2. Last week, I had a nice evening with Shea and Tonisha. Since Tonisha and I haven't had much of a chance to reconnect with Shea since the end of school, we decided to meet up for supper and movie. After a great meal at Chili's, we went to see "Madagascar 3". I, for one, thought it was adorable, although I was troubled by the fact that a bear in the movie didn't talk even though every other animal did. Anyway, I had a great time, and I hope that we can get together again soon!

3. As of today, Cole is six months old! He is quite the active little boy, and has recently conquered the feat of sitting and crawling (as opposed to scooting). Honestly, it seems as though he is older than he is, because he is usually doing something more advanced than his age, so it seems. These first six months have flown by, and I can't wait for the next six months!

4. Although their performance has been somewhat lackluster during the last few games, I am still excited that the Thunder has made it to the finals! Hopefully, they pull the next few games out and can come out on top! Even if they don't, they have still accomplished quite a bit for a young team, including the nearly impossible feat of uniting OU & OSU fans! Thunder Up!!!

5. During our trip to the library a few weeks ago, I had quite the deep conversation with Cody. Lately, he has become interested in topics having to do with wars and military. Somehow we got on the topic of World War II, which my grandpa Hladik was a part of. I started telling Cody stories that I have been told by my parents, and I opened up doors to him. What I thought was going to be a light conversation about how Grandpa Hladik was in the War, ended up being a discussion about why the American troops were fighting overseas, Hitler, concentration camps, and other things of that sort. It gave me hope to hear Cody tell me, after my kid-friendly explanation of the Holocaust, that people shouldn't be mean to others because they are different. That really struck me that an eight-year-old could see an obvious answer to that issue...out of the mouths of babes.

6. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I will soon be taking a new position at school as a faculty assistant and leaving my previous post as a peer tutor. As it turns out, as of July 1 the tutoring center at my school will no longer be in existence. There will be department-specific tutors in all subjects, but the tutoring center is no more. I see both sides to this. On one hand, being that my school is primarily commuters, it is convenient to have all tutors in a centralized location, making it a one-stop trip for anyone needing help in various subjects. On the other hand, I also see the fact that while the tutoring center was allocated a specific amount of hours to split among the tutors, many of those hours were spent idle with few to no students needing assistance. Either way, it is a bummer that the center is closing, but I am fairly confident that most, if not all, of the other tutors will be able to find jobs as department tutors. Also, I am once again blessed to have received the position I have received.

7. Last Saturday I ran my second 5K. This time, the run was benefiting Cody & Kyle's now-former school. It was the first time that they have put on a race, and I saw many areas that could have seen some improvement. I will give it the benefit of the doubt this time, being that it was the first year, but I believe that it could become a bigger deal with some minor adjustments. On a happy note, I came in third in my age division, but the bigger deal was the fact that I took almost six minutes off of my previous time! I attribute most of that to the course. This course was in the middle of downtown Enid, which means that it is flat, unlike the other course which I think was literally uphill both ways. Also, I walked very little, so that helped some, too. Win or lose, I had a great time, and I am keeping my eye on my next race in August (I think). In the meantime, I will maybe regulate myself on a training regimen for once in my life.

8. We had our traditional Father's Day fried chicken feast on Sunday. It is a standing joke in my family that the only time the men get fried chicken and pie is on Father's Day, and that is mostly true. On Saturday night, I had a great time baking pies with my sisters and mom. My mom only observed because she hates, and I repeat, hates making pie. She claims that the reason we know how to make pies is so that she doesn't have to. Anyway, we ended with three pies: peach, cherry-berry (cherry/blueberry), and coconut cream (well, we had the crust for it anyway). All three turned out just great, and we all had our own hand in the finished product. I wasn't around for the lunch because of the wedding (see Sunday's post), but what I tasted in my goody plate that was lovingly made for me was absolutely delicious!!! Furthermore, I believe that the men in my family (Dad, Scotty, & Jeremy) all had a great day, which is what it's all about.

9. I do have one sad bit of information to pass along. It turns out that my high school principal passed away on Saturday, due to complications from a quadruple bypass surgery. He was 62 years old, and had just retired from being principal, which is one of the more unfortunate aspects of the whole situation. His son had just graduated high school, and he still has a daughter who will be an eighth-grader. This has been a rough summer for many in the Pioneer community, and my condolences go out to the family.

10. On a final, much happier note, I would like to wish a happy birthday to my friend Audra's son, Zane, who turns two today! Also, I would like to (belatedly) congratulate my friend Abbey and her family on their newest addition, little Everett Ambrose, who was welcomed into the world exactly one week ago today! From the pictures I have seen, he is absolutely adorable, and I can't wait to meet the little guy! Good wishes all around today!!!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Adventures at a Mennonite Wedding

(No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth just yet!)
Today was the long-awaited wedding of my former roomie, Carissa, and her beloved, Kyle. Through our year living together, Carissa told me a few things that are characteristic of Mennonite weddings, so I had an idea of what would be happening, but it was still a little different than I am used to.

I was a little nervous when I first drove in, until I realized that there really were quite a few non-Mennonites there (Carissa's family isn't Mennonite, which is something I didn't really think about). After that, it was smooth sailing. I entered the church, and to be honest, it really didn't look like a wedding was about to take place. The only thing that really looked wedding-ish was the guest book in the middle of the entry way. After signing in, I got the opportunity to talk briefly with Kyle & Carissa. Carissa looked beautiful in her dress, although it wasn't a dress like you would think.

Side Note: You see, Mennonites are very much about simplicity and modesty in women's dress, especially when in the church sanctuary. Most every day, Carissa wears a short-sleeved dress, but her church dresses are all long-sleeved; thus, her wedding dress was long-sleeved. Also, it was purple, not white, like you would think. Carissa told me once that the church actually frowns upon wearing white. Why, I can't remember, but that is their belief. Also, when in the sanctuary, the women have to wear another head covering over their usual head covering. The only difference is that this one is more like a head scarf. It is pinned to the top of their prayer cap and ties below their chin.

I digress...Kyle and Carissa both were excited to see me, and I think a bit surprised that I made the Sunday morning trek to Fairview on Father's Day. As I entered into the sanctuary, I was surprised at the lack of decoration. There were no candles, floral arrangements, or anything, which seems odd to me, although I know that it is the norm for them. There was also no wedding party, giving away of the bride, photographer, or videographer (They also don't believe in taking pictures). It was quite simple, to say the least. The wedding began at 10:15 sharp, with their 20-person male choir singing selected hymns. Another thing, Mennonites do not believe in the use of instruments, so all of the songs they sing are a cappella and in four-part harmony. I have never in my life heard anything more beautiful. With a simple hum on a pitch pipe, they erupted into a beautiful symphony. It really felt as if the entire space of the church was consumed by the sound of their singing. The only real downside of the singing is that they sang a total of 12 songs through the whole service, with a minimum of three verses per song, which meant that it took a while. The wedding itself was about 1.5 hours long, which is pretty long for a wedding, even by Catholic standards.

They had three officiating ministers: one for the introductory prayer, one for the sermon/benediction, and one for the exchange of vows. The vows were pretty simple, nothing like what many weddings are today. Kyle and Carissa both said a total of six words apiece during the whole exchange (aka "I do" three times). At the conclusion of the wedding, they also didn't kiss, which I really didn't expect them to do, but, even so, that was a difference.

Afterwards was the reception at the Fairview community center. For as simple as the wedding was, the reception was very much like many that I have been to, if not even more ornate. Thankfully I got there pretty quick, because there was already a long line to enter the building. I wasn't in line that long, but it was long enough that my present was getting very heavy. (I ended up getting them two pie plates and a cupcake pan that they registered for.) Also, it was feeling very much like an Oklahoma June outside. Just when I was on the verge of heat stroke (not really), I felt the rush of the A/C from the open door. When I got to the end of the receiving line, I talked with Kyle & Carissa again. They were still glad to see me, and curious as to my thoughts on the service. I asked Kyle if his friends hired out to sing for other events, because I loved their singing that much! Basically, from there out, I became known as "Carissa's good roommate". I was introduced to Kyle's parents, who were very nice people, and I got to see Carissa's parents again. Her mom thanked me profusely for being a good roommate to Carissa, as opposed to her previous roommate, and for being a good friend to her. (I heard that Carissa and her other roomie didn't get along, but I never realized that it was that bad...)

I came not knowing if I was going to eat or not, because my mom was making her traditional Father's Day fried chicken feast, and that sounded pretty good to me. However, once I saw the food there, I couldn't resist! I was amazed at how organized the entire reception was, because the church members all stepped in to serve. They had a kitchen crew plating the food, a drink crew getting cups ready, and a horde of youth members who served the tables (refilling drinks, bringing dessert, etc.). The menu included pulled pork, pasta salad, pistachio salad, bread, and cherry cheesecake. No, they didn't have a wedding cake, punch, or anything else of that sort. After you got your plate and drink, an usher sat you at a table, which was decorated simply but beautifully.

I ended up sitting at a table with some friends of Carissa's grandparents, whose names I cannot remember. Later, a Mennonite couple who had ties to Kyle joined our table. We had a nice conversation throughout our meal. During the meal, I got to meet Carissa's paternal grandparents and one of her aunts, all of whom lit up at the mention of me being her "good roommate". (Their words, not mine.) The food was delicious, and I was stuffed! I later learned that they would be opening presents after the meal, but I didn't feel like waiting around that long, so I said a few goodbyes, and I made my trip back home before I got too drowsy.

There is something about a wedding that brings out my sentimental, romantic side. I love seeing two people who are so in love with life and each other join together as one. Kyle and Carissa are a good example of this. During my year as Carissa's roommate, I got the chance to be witness to the evolution of their relationship. I know that their relationship has not been without its struggles, because they have had to deal with some difficult things that I don't know that I could handle. The fact that they made it through those obstacles and came out no worse for wear is proof enough that they really have what it takes to have a strong, lifelong union. I am happy for them, and I wish them many, many years of wedded bliss!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thoughts from a Lazy Sunday Evening

-Last week was my first week watching Cody & Kyle for the month. I say week, but really it was only three days due to the holiday on Monday and an unexpected trip with Scotty's parents on Friday. Tuesday gave us the welcome addition of Cole, whose babysitter was unable to watch him that day. All three days went well for all parties involved. According to Cody, he didn't realize that he would have that much fun staying at home during the summer. I have big plans for us this week, although most of those plans won't be quite what they will want to do (aka cleaning up and sorting out toys). If we manage to keep it together all week, we just might go on an outing on Friday to the library with a picnic at a park. Here's hoping for another great week with the boys!

-For whatever reason, my allergies have decided to make an unwelcome comeback this past week. Most of my battle has been congestion, but I have also been battling my near-hoarse voice. I hate not having my voice be at full-blast power, but I'll live. I blame it on wheat dust and unstable temperatures, but until then, I'll take a decongestant, drink hot tea, and move on with life.

-Tyler's funeral was held on Friday of last week. The service was very true to his personality, as they played his favorite old country songs and the pallbearers dressed in western attire, which was his style. I sat by Tevis's mom, but not him, because although he wasn't a pallbearer (he was supposed to be), he got drafted to sit with them at the last minute. About half of our senior class was there, but surprisingly enough there were only two teachers from Pioneer there, that I knew of. I made it through the better part of the service without crying, but once they played the slideshow, I was a goner. There's just something about seeing the deceased's pictures from their childhood that causes me to lose my mind. The burial wasn't anything too fancy, but Tevis and I went anyway. Thank heavens that the funeral has come and gone, so that everyone can begin the slow but sure process of finding a "new normal".

-After the funeral, I enjoyed some quality time with Tevis, which is something that I really hadn't had much of a chance to do for about a week or so. We ended up going to a cookout at his youth pastor's house in honor of the lone senior from their youth group. I had a nice time, and I enjoyed lively conversation with everyone. During our time there, I also came to the realization that my nephews make Mario Kart on the Wii look about ten times easier than it really is. I learned that the hard way, after coming in dead last in all of the races...oops! (That's why I stick to Rock Band or Wii Sports) I also found Cole's future girlfriend in an adorable three-month-old girl who I got to hold. She was laying down for a nap, but woke up, so I picked her up. She started fussing, but I managed to calm her down in no time flat. Her dad was impressed at how easily I did that, but I think all that means is that I am finally getting the "aunt's touch" I have longed for for so many years! After the cookout, we went back to Tevis's house, and we had a wonderful chat in the cool moonlight before I drove myself home. I have to say, one of my favorite things is how easily we can talk to each other about anything and everything. Hooray for a good ending to a sad day with my love!

-I had a good day with my sisters yesterday. Emily has been in the process of separating the boys' rooms, and we pretty well finished that up yesterday. Most of yesterday consisted of sorting out clothes in various totes to give to Wyatt or Andy from Cody and Kyle, and finding other places for Cole's bigger clothes. I really didn't do much to help that cause, but I did keep track of Cole so that Emily could accomplish her goal without having to constantly pause to feed/change/wrangle/rock Cole.

-I have been in contact with my future roomie, Kristynn, over the past few weeks. We have managed to get almost all of our arrangements lined out (i.e. who's bringing what). Of course, I have quite a few things from last year, but we had to figure out arrangements about a shower curtain, microwave, toaster, and other random stuff. In a stroke of luck, Kristynn was able to get a microwave, toaster, and a few other things for free from her grandma, who happened to move in with them. Since she was able to procure those "bigger" things, I have no issue with going ahead and getting the bulk of the smaller things (i.e. cleaning supplies, a Brita pitcher, etc.) I am glad that we have nailed all of this out, so that it isn't such a rush during the weeks leading up to move-in day. Hopefully, her get-it-done attitude is a harbinger of good times to come this year! I can't wait!

-Speaking of roomies, Carissa is getting married in a few weeks! I don't think I mentioned this previously, but she is, and furthermore, I have been invited! I am happy that she wants me there to see her off into her next phase of life. I am also interested to see what a traditional Holderman Mennonite wedding is like, as I'm sure you may be. I'll have to report my observations after the wedding in two weeks. Until then, I still have to decide what exactly I will be getting her as a wedding present. This is the first time that one of my friends, who is my age, is getting married, so I have never had to put much thought into buying a wedding present, because my parents are always in that department. She has multiple registries, so I guess that I will be hitting those up in the next couple of weeks. Anyway, I can't wait to attend her wedding!

-I have no idea what to get Tevis for his birthday, which is on Tuesday. I never know what to get him for any occasion, although he claims to be "the easiest person to shop for". Actually, I always come up with something creative or thoughtful, but my plans are almost always thwarted at some point. For example, a few months ago, I thought about getting him concert tickets to a band that he likes. At the time, when I casually mentioned said concert, he thought that he would be in Colorado at the time, so I nixed that idea. It turns out that he will be here on the day of the concert (this Thursday), but now we both have work arrangements, he also has a summer class to keep him occupied, and it is too late to buy decent tickets at a reasonable price. My latest scheme was when he told me about some songs he wanted a CD of, but were mostly on separate CDs and he didn't want to buy three separate CDs. I took note of the five songs, and planned to buy them off iTunes and burn them onto a CD with a few other songs he might like. That plan ended when we got in his car the other day, and he put in his new CD...the one that had "most" of the songs he wanted. He also gleefully showed me the other CD he decided to shell out the money to buy anyway. UGH! He broke the crystal off of his current watch in a bike wreck, but I'm not buying him a watch for fear of repeating the incident from this past Christmas. He did tell me that he needed new socks, and he wouldn't mind getting some new t-shirts, so maybe, I'll go against every sentimental bone in my body and get him just that, since everyone can always use socks and t-shirts. Maybe one day, one of my plans will work out!

-My dad has begun the process of building a new barn. This has been a dream of his for quite some time, and he is finally able to get that going. Today, we took the first step of clearing the space for the building. Really, all that entailed was cleaning out/knocking down the old chicken house, which hasn't been in use for over fifteen years and was more of a critter trap than anything else. Also, we had to cut down a maple tree. It was too bad that we had to do that, but my mom thought about planting a new one after the shed is built. Thankfully, we were able to salvage most of the trunk for future use as wood for smoking meat or campfires, so it wasn't a total loss. After Jeremy and Scotty used a Trac-Hoe to dig out and relocate a water hydrant, the chicken house went up in smoke...literally. Because the existing wood was dry-rotted, my dad decided that burning it would be the best plan of action. They saved the tin from the roof, but the wood wasn't worth the hassle. I am excited for my dad to finally get to build his "dream shed". He already has lots of plans for it, including the inauguration party, so I can't wait to see it become a reality!

I hope that a good week is had by all!