Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break Update

I had a great, much-needed spring break. Unfortunately, like most other breaks, it went much too quickly for my liking! Here's a few things that happened over break...

-I mentioned that Mimi finally came home from the hospital, just after celebrating her 95th birthday. What I didn't mention is just how much she is loved in her community and everywhere else. Not only were hordes of people storming the heavens, praying for her recovery, but she also received a total of 101 get well/birthday cards!!! I've never heard of anyone getting that many cards, ever, so that was pretty mind-blowing to me! Just when I was amazed by that, I also found out that she received an official citation from her state house representative, congratulating her on her 95th birthday! How awesome is that!!! :)

-I had a good day with Cody & Kyle on Wednesday. Thank heavens it was nice outside so that they didn't have to be cooped up all day! It was nice to spend a little bit of extra time with them, since I rarely get to see them between our school schedules.

-I mentioned on Tuesday that I was recovering from my stomach crud that plagued me for the better part of last weekend. Wouldn't you know that as soon as I started feeling like a human again, my allergies kicked into overdrive, rendering me almost useless for the rest of the break. I had high expectations of things that I wanted to accomplish over break, like cleaning my bathroom...yeah, that obviously didn't happen! I have been through various stages of congestion, nasal pressure, and coughing up phlegm. I guess I should be thankful that the brunt of it (I hope) was during break, when I didn't have to be in public. I also lost my voice at some point, though it has somewhat rallied after coughing up the aforementioned phlegm, which definitely isn't an attractive thing, but an absolute must if I ever wanted to improve my condition! Here's hoping that it clears up mostly before Wednesday, because that's when I will draw the line and go in to get an allergy shot from my waiting this one out!!!

-Yes, my birthday was this past week, and I had a great day, allergies notwithstanding. I received lots of birthday wishes from my Facebook friends, which are always nice. What I liked more were the texts I received, because it was a little bit more personal, even if they did see it on FB first. Even more than that, I loved the calls I received from my dad and from Gina & Wyatt. My dad serenaded me with his rendition of Happy Birthday, and I got a gleeful "Happy Birthday!" from Wyatt, while Gina served as a translator, due to the lack of my voice. The best thing, though, was spending all day with my mom and seeing my family that night! Among my gifts were a wax warmer for my dorm room, perfumes, an OSU lanyard, and OSU shirts, because I am in dire need of more orange in my wardrobe! :) Earlier in the week, I also got a Vera Bradley wallet from Liz and her family, which I loved, also! I changed things up this year, big time. Usually, it's a long, drawn-out affair that includes a supper of chicken alfredo, garlic bread, Caesar salad, and green beans with pink lemonade and an Italian cream cake for my actual cake. This year, I decided to just have supper with my parents, which was bratwurst with baked beans, chips, and Crystal Light. Everyone else came over later for cookie cake, which was lovingly made &decorated by Gina, and ice cream, which was graciously provided by Emily! It was a nice change of pace. I have now entered into a new decade of life, and cannot wait to see what this decade of life has in store for me!
All of the older boys (and Andy's bear, Beary) helping me with my candles!
-Friday was my birthday celebration with Tonisha and Mary. We originally planned to go out to eat, then go to a movie. Well, that plan changed slightly when I discovered that the movie I wanted to see wasn't in theaters anymore and I didn't care to see anything else that was out. So, we amended our plan to go out to eat, then rent a movie and watch it at Tonisha's house. That actually worked much better, and was less expensive, so it was a good deal all around! I had my heart set on eating at Chili's, so that's where we went...too bad everyone else in the tri-county area had the same idea. Since we weren't on a time schedule, we waited about 30 minutes or so for a table, which wasn't the worst thing in the world. We had a great time, and they surprised me by paying for my meal & the movie rental! Tonisha also fueled my new addiction of Baby Lips chapstick by getting me two new colors! (If you haven't tried it, you should...I LOVE it!!!) What a great evening!

-I tied up a few loose ends over break, too. After a month or so of hemming and hawing, I finally finished my t-shirt quilt by putting the binding on! The only real hold-up in this process was the fact that I didn't know how to cut out the binding, so I enlisted Gina's mother-in-law, Mary, to help me. Thanks to her, I finished it up in a couple of hours...much shorter work than I anticipated! If you look closely enough in the pictures, you can see the flower quilting pattern that my cousin decided to perfect! I'm ready to make my next quilt now!

Also, since I kept my promise to myself of consistently working out until spring break, I went and ordered a new pair of running shoes today! After some contemplation I decided to stick with the Sauconys I'm used to, and I went with this awesome new pair of Kinvara 3's! I could've walked out of the store with a mostly-white pair, but, really, who in their right mind buys white tennis shoes, when you'll be running primarily on red dirt...yeah, not this girl! Also, I've come to love having bright, fun-looking running shoes, so it works :)

-I finally found out what I made on my Diff Eq test...and yes, I did make the 97, like the guys in my class predicted! I am proud of it, because it's a big deal to me! It was pretty well-earned though, because I worked my tail off on that test, and on all of the homework/quizzes preceding it. Honestly though, that is literally the only way to have any sort of success in math classes, and I am glad that I learned that virtue early on! Also, it is much easier to keep my head above water, since I don't have this class every day and am not constantly bogged down with homework. Regardless, I'll keep on keeping on, and hopefully, my success will continue!

-This weekend is Easter, although it seems way early. I know it isn't, by all technical terms, but still. I really hope that the weather warms up some by then, because it is unseasonably cold right now! In a good news/bad news situation, Mass is still late, and we didn't really have much opportunity to weigh in on the matter, because our priest has been gone for the past two weeks, and kind of sprung it on us. Oh well, the good news from the situation is that our rent-a-priest, Fr. Creider will be back for the entire Triduum and I can't wait to hear his homilies, especially if they're anything like the ones he gave last year! AND...there will be a creation story! That is honestly my favorite part of that horrendously long Mass, even if it isn't a required part. It's what sets our rural Catholic church apart from the others, and is always endearing to the various priests who get to witness it! So, hopefully, all will go well!

I hope everyone had a great break, and a great week ahead...enjoy!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Minds at Play

To the naked eye, this might look like a random smattering of toys with two of my adorable nephews posed by them. However, there's more there than what meets the eye...what we have here is a glimpse into the creativity that lies within their red-headed brains.

Together, they pain-stakingly constructed this "farm", which is one of their favorite things to do at my house. Most of the toys are from actual farm sets that we have acquired through the years. Then, there's the blocks that double as square bales, the balls that double as round bales, the Tonka Jeep that's hauling a milk trailer, and a toolbox, doubling as a multi-purpose storage building.

What this picture doesn't show is the view I have now of them playing with it, gradually adapting it to fit their imagination. Acting out various dramas on this farm of feeding cattle, hauling hay, rebuilding fence, and ramping their vehicles into the storage building. So, some of it is slightly less realistic than other parts, but this is their imagination right now. Sometimes, they play like this for hours on end. The funny thing about it is that, to them, it isn't play, it's work. It's serious, the stuff most childhoods are full of. It's them acting out lives of farmers, much akin to my dad, and generations of farmers that have preceded them.

What I like most is being a "fly on the wall" to this experience, hearing them play, talk, and imagine without any hindrances. One day, they will be past this stage, not wanting anything to do with toys. For now, I simply enjoy and chronicle it, as I do most everything else. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ten on Tuesday

1. I survived last week, including my monstrous Diff Eq test! I put in lots of study time, and I am fairly certain it paid off for me. I’m not entirely sure because we didn't get the tests back before break, and our grades haven’t been posted yet. However, our professor did tell us that our class average was a 90, and the grades ranged between 80 and 97, so she was impressed by our performance! So, with that in mind, I can’t be too discouraged since the worst I could have done was an 80! Once she said that the highest grade was a 97, the guys in my class automatically said that I made it…not sure where that got that idea from…okay, maybe the entire history of our math classes together…at any rate, I’d sure take it if I got it! I really thought that I’d make it to Spring Break homework-free, but I ended up with a Diff Eq assignment. I wish I could say that I've gotten it done already, but I haven’t…oops! Maybe this evening!

2. Saturday was my now-former roommate, Kristynn’s wedding. It was pretty apparent that I wasn't enthusiastic about this wedding at all, but I went anyway, in the spirit of goodwill…and my friend Haley agreed to go with me. I must say that I now redact all previous statements I made about this situation, because the wedding was absolutely beautiful. I guess there’s something about seeing two people in love with life and each other that melts my sometimes cynical heart. Her dress was beautiful; the look on her groom’s face as she walked down the aisle induced tears from everyone; the reception was phenomenally planned; it really was beautiful. I am glad that I went, and I wish them happiness and blessings on their new life together!

3. Unfortunately, just after I left the reception, I was struck down by some form of a stomach bug that is running rampant through the area. I’ll spare you the details, but I felt like death for the better part of the last 48 hours. I am finally on the mend and have regained my appetite, so that is good. What isn’t so good is that I think I gave it to my dad, who ended up staying home from work today in unusually rare fashion. My mom is vehemently hoping that we don’t share it with her, because she has already fought with a similar bug back in November and January and doesn't want it anytime soon!

4. Guess who’s home today?! That’s right, after almost one month of being confined to the hospital, Mimi is FINALLY home! She has successfully completed her rehab/PT and her doctor deemed her capable of going home. I think she might have home health care for a while, to help her get acclimated to life at home again, but we’ll take it! Her big birthday party was supposed to be on Sunday, but we decided to postpone it for when she was released from the hospital and feeling better. There still was a little party with family, but I didn't make it because of my illness. (Sad face) From the pictures and stories everyone else had, it looks like it was a blast and a half! I’m glad that we’ll have another party so that I can do my darnedest to not be sick that time! I felt well enough yesterday to visit her at the hospital, which my mom said made her day because she was worried about my illness. (Isn't that ironic? Just a testament as to how wonderful she is!) The nursing/rehab staff brought her balloons and a piece of pie yesterday, and told her today that they wouldn't let her go, because they loved having her around too much! It warms my heart to know that she was in such good care! However, it makes me even happier to know that she has healed enough to regain the independence she so loves! Happy 95th Birthday, Mimi!!!

5. I spent the evening with Emily’s boys on Friday. Thanks to the beautiful weather we had last weekend, we all spent at least an hour or so outside playing. The boys (and me, if we’re being honest here) are suffering from a severe case of spring fever, so this was just the ticket! Eventually, we all came in for supper and a movie night. Per their request, we watched “Herbie: Fully Loaded” and “Wreck-It Ralph”. In true Disney-Pixar fashion, it did not disappoint me! I also enjoyed snuggles with Cole, animal games with Kyle, and, after they fell asleep, Conversation Airplanes with Cody. (Writing notes on a paper airplane that Cody created) That is one of me and Cody’s traditions that I love, both from an aunt-nephew bonding angle, and from the educational angle. I believe that they will also be spending tomorrow at my house, although it will be sans Cole. Fun fun fun! (:

6. I finished my FAFSA today! This is really one of those times that I am thankful for the technological advances that have been made that make this less stressful. One more thing off my checklist!

7. How about our new pope, Pope Francis?! After only a day or two in the conclave, the cardinals chose him. Most aspects of his papacy thus far are defying tradition, which I find somewhat endearing. (Nothing against other popes, I just find it interesting.) For example, he is the first pope of modern time to be elected with the former pope still living, he is the first pope from the Americas (Argentina), he is the first Jesuit pope, and he is the first pope to choose the name Francis. It has been said that he is a man of humility, shunning the many conveniences that accompanied his previous role as cardinal, like using public transportation instead of a limo/private car. Shortly after his election, he went to settle up his hotel bill like a normal person, instead of coasting by on his new-found fame. Even now, it has been said that he drove his security staff crazy by wanting to walk through the crowds, greeting and interacting with his people. Although I can’t confirm or deny any of these stories, because it is what I have heard from various media outlets, I can hope that this is the beginning of a papacy of humility, normality, and, perhaps, simplicity. Far too often, dignitaries like popes seek lives apart from their people, but Pope Francis merely wishes to be seen as a humble man of God, living out His will. I admire that, and hope that this holds true.

8. Anyone else celebrate Pi Day? I sure did! I wore my snazzy math TOMS all day, and even had some celebratory pie! I was really craving a Hostess fried pie that day…fine time to remember that they went out of business. I guess you could say I reacted a bit…irrationally? Bazinga! (Math Humor, right there) Have no fear, I found the second-best option, a mini box of Edward’s turtle pie, with only 2 slices, since heaven knows I didn't need a whole pie! It was a good day indeed!

9. Yes, my birthday is this week! I am pretty excited about it, although I think I might be more excited if we make it to then without any more illnesses in my family! Right now, the only things I plan on doing are having a family supper on the day of (if we’re all healthy, that is), and a movie night with my friends at some point this weekend. Honestly, I’m not so concerned with what I do to celebrate, so long as I get to be with those I love! I’m happy and blessed to have lived through another decade, and hope for many, many more!

10. Today I sent in my registration for a 5K at the end of May. You might remember it as the first race I ever ran, so I am all the more excited to return to see if I have improved any since last year! This race is a “rolling out-and-back” course, which means that it’s literally uphill both ways. Yuck. Not really sure how to train for that, but I have about two months to figure it out and work hard! Also, when I get back from break, I will go buy my new running shoes, since I kept my promise to myself of working out consistently…I think I deserve it! This time I’ll be transitioning from an 8mm drop to a 4mm drop, which will hopefully go better than the transition from my old 14s to the 8s. Honestly, I don’t think it will be as bad, only because I have already transitioned from heel-striking to more of a mid-foot strike. I have been told that the 4mm’s make that even easier to do, so here’s hoping it’ll go well! I’d love to hear any suggestions for shoes, I have an open mind!

Have a great Spring Break week!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Long, Sunday Update!

It's been a crazy couple of weeks since I've last written much of anything, so here goes...

In the midst of the whole Mimi hospital debacle, a blizzard moved in on our area. It shut everything down for a couple of days, and I ended up getting two-and-a-half snow days out of the deal! My cousins who live right by the college were gracious enough to open up their home to me for the "duration", so that I didn't have to be cooped up alone in my dorm room, where I probably would've gone stir crazy and froze to death. I only say that I would've froze, because the power ended up going off on that Monday night, and there wouldn't have been any way to really stay warm besides blankets and lots of layers, but my cousins had a wood-burning stove in their house that kept us nice and warm all night! It really was fun staying over at their house, and it turned what could have been an unpleasant experience into a pleasantly memorable couple of days. Thank heavens, the electricity was only out for about twelve hours, which wasn't bad at all. (I still have the 35 horrendous days of the ice storm burned into my memory, so this was nothing for me.) At home, my parents lost power for the better part of the week, although it could have been longer had they not realized that they were the only people on this side of the electric system who were without power. Also, my parents and brother-in-law, Scotty, made multiple calls to the electric company nicely asking them to send a crew out to fix the issue, which was only a downed line. Thankfully, by the end of the week, the lights were back on, although they never really went out, because everyone was on generator power. We are all hoping that that will be the last of the major winter precipitation for the season!

We have also acquired a new "pet" in a bottle calf that my dad named Buckles. (Not really sure where that name came from, but where does any pet name really come from?) In a tragic turn of events, Buckles' mom died, so he's an orphan calf. It always breaks my heart to see that happen, and I inevitably grow attached to the calf and am sad when we usually sell it. It doesn't help that I think a newborn calf is almost as cute as a newborn baby! We had another cow that lost her calf during the blizzard, and we tried to pair her up with Buckles to solve a few problems at once. Had this worked, it would have been great, so that the cow and Buckles could progress “normally”, but no such luck. Buckles was already accustomed to the bottle, and didn’t really know what to do with the cow. Oh well, it was worth a shot!

For those of you who have been following the story, Mimi is continuing to heal, although she is still in the hospital. Last week, she was transferred to a different hospital in town where she has been undergoing serious physical/occupational therapy. She spends the better part of the weekdays in therapy, but absolutely LOVES it! She has finally returned to wearing her normal clothes, as opposed to a hospital gown, which has helped her much more! She is finally able to get herself out of bed, although she usually waits until the nursing staff is there, so that she doesn’t overextend herself. There is a family meeting scheduled for some time this week, so we’ll find out more then.

Speaking of Mimi, she will be celebrating a milestone birthday a week from tomorrow…she will be turning 95! Holy moly, that’s quite the accomplishment!!! We are so very excited for this!

I guess while I’m on the topic of birthdays, I could maybe mention another important birthday that is next week. It’s no one important, it’s only MY BIRTHDAY!!!! (:  I’m sure you know how much I love my birthday and being able to share my birthday week with Mimi. I don’t really know what I’ll be doing for any part of my birthday celebrations, as everything in the next few weeks is contingent on Mimi’s progress. I’m sure we’ll celebrate somehow, so I’m really not too concerned!

This next week is my last week of school before spring break, and it will be much-needed! This week will be full of all kinds of tests and such, but it won’t be anything I can’t handle, I know. My current roommate, Kristynn will be getting married next weekend, so I will be going to that, also. I should probably get her gift already, but I honestly have no idea what to get her, even though they have four different registries. I think I’ll chalk it up to the fact that I’m not as enthusiastic about this wedding, for various reasons, the biggest reason being that I don’t really feel like she is ready for marriage like Carissa was. I hope that I’m wrong, but honestly, that’s what I think…such is life.
The last couple of days has been busy enough for one week, but has been loads of fun, nonetheless. Friday was punctuated by a trip to OKC with my parents for an awards luncheon. Because I am part of an honor society on my campus, I was nominated for this award back in October, and I had to fill out this extensive scholarship application that was somewhat frustrating at the time. I wasn’t all that excited about going to this luncheon, but knew that it would be much better if I went than otherwise. Earlier in the week, I talked to a couple of other PLC girls from the other campuses and found out that they’d be at the luncheon also, so I started looking forward to it a little bit more. When we arrived at the luncheon, my parents and I scanned through the program, expecting to see what you normally see at events like this—an introduction, lunch, a long-winded keynote speaker, and presentation of the awards. Well, imagine our surprise when we read that our keynote speaker was none other than Oklahoma guitar wonder, Edgar Cruz!!! We have been fans of his for quite some time, and I saw him as inspiration when I used to play guitar more often. I have included a video of him playing, just so you have an idea of the caliber of his talent. In the future, I would love to have more keynote speakers like him, because most of his time was spent playing for us, as opposed to actually speaking. He would talk a little bit, here and there, and it was interesting when he did, but he mostly played for us, and we particularly enjoyed it!

Earlier during last week, I received an email and a letter from OSU telling me that I had received a scholarship from there just because I was a recipient of this award. That was exciting to me, since I am currently on the market for scholarships of almost any form. So, everyone there (there were about forty of us) received a medal and plaque recognizing our achievement. These awards were given to us by our respective college presidents. After they finished handing out these awards, they told us that there were some scholarships that would be awarded that had something to do with the form we filled out last semester. They told us that the awards would be given at the bronze, silver, and gold levels. I really didn’t feel like I had the qualifications necessary to receive any of the awards, so I sort of tuned the emcee out during that part. Well, imagine my surprise when he announced that I was a recipient of one of the silver-level scholarships!!! The college president and I walked up to the podium to accept the award, and we were both so excited! Then, they announced that the other two NOC girls were also recipients of the same scholarship! The president was absolutely ecstatic about how well our campuses were represented in the scholarship winnings, as were we! It made a good moment much better that the three of us could share in our identical winnings!!! By the time it was all said and done, I ended up with about $2000 in scholarship money! What a blessing!!!!! Even better, afterward, my parents and I got to talk to Edgar Cruz personally when we bought some of his CDs, which he signed for us! He is quite the personable guy, which makes it that much easier to appreciate his music. He even remembered the time that he visited our church back in the late 80s…how cool is that!

Yesterday, Liz and I went on a shopping trip to OKC. It seems funny to think about how big of a deal that used to be when I was little, but how commonplace it is now. We were on a quest to find dresses to wear for various upcoming events, like Mimi’s birthday party, our NOC graduation, weddings, etc. We got to the mall around 11:30 AM, and were leaving around 1:15, which really wasn’t too bad, considering the fact that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was at the mall because it was raining on a Saturday. Really, everything about our trip went perfectly. We got a close parking spot at the mall, we both found dresses fairly quickly, and said dresses fit perfectly! We decided to treat ourselves to a later lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, which was packed with people at 1:30. Amazingly enough, we were seated instantly! (I think it had more to do with us being a party of 2, but we were excited!) Our lunch was great, and we completed it (of course) by splitting a slice of Hershey’s Chocolate cheesecake! We left feeling stuffed and on the verge of sleepiness…cue the iPods with some good pump-up music! All in all, it was a great day, and I’m so blessed to have someone like Liz to do these things with!

Lastly, I’ll go on the record of saying that I already hate Daylight Savings Time, and I still think that it’s ridiculous that Mass starts at 7:45 AM. I especially hate going to Mass on DST Sunday. I really had a bad attitude this morning, but it improved by leaps and bounds when I saw that our favorite “Rent-A-Priest”, Fr. Phil Creider, was there! He really is one of my favorite priests, mostly because I love his homilies. He used to be a chaplain on a Navy ship during the Gulf War, so he has quite the perspective on things. I, and everyone else in our congregation, respond very well to him, and it’s amazing to feel the optimism that floats through the church after the Masses he officiates…kind of uncanny how much better everyone feels after his Masses. (I’ll refrain from stating the obvious…those of you who are familiar with the situation probably know what I’m talking about.)

After Mass, my parents and I went up to visit with Mimi, since Sunday is her day off from therapy. We sat with her for a few hours, until after she ate lunch. She looks so much more like Mimi than what she did two weeks ago. She has regained that sparkle in her eyes, and liveliness within her spirit. When we came home, my dad made a pot of shrimp chili, a recipe that I should share with you at some point in life. We all napped intermittently, I unsuccessfully tried to finish my Diff Eq homework, and settled for studying for our upcoming test. I tried working on my FAFSA for this coming year, but hit a roadblock in finding the necessary information, so I’ll try again tomorrow. All in due time, I suppose. I finally got registered for my OGET, which is the first of many tests that I will have to take to gain my teaching certification. I am already dreading the day I take it, because the test will be in Stillwater, and will begin at 7:15. Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck. It will be worth it in the long run, but still, yuck. Maybe I’ll just stay the night there before so that it won’t be such an early morning. We’ll see, but it makes me happy that this is the first real sign that I am on the path to beginning my teaching career!!!

All in all, the last few weeks have gone well, and I am very, very blessed in all respects! I know it might sound a little hokey to some, but never fail to recognize how richly you are blessed in your everyday life…it helps to put things in better perspective during any trial you face!!! I’ll end my ramblings here, with the hope that everyone has a wonderful week!!!!!