Saturday, August 24, 2013

First Week at OSU!

Okay, so now that I’ve finished my first week at OSU, I have a few more thoughts to share!

I’ll preface all of this by saying that I now realize how crazy I sounded a couple of weeks ago, when I was a basket case who was worried about how well I would like it here. The truth is, I don’t like it…I LOVE it here! It is everything I imagined it to be, and more! I am happy here, and I know that I am where I am supposed to be!

Now that I have attended all of my classes, it is fair to say that I that it should be a good semester for me. My observation class went well, and I found out that I will start observing sometime within the next two weeks, but it will more than likely start during the first week of September. Sadly, I won’t be able to give an up-close and personal view of my observations, because we are sworn to an oath of confidentiality. I’m pretty sure that the syllabus for that class may as well have been a small book, because it was 25 pages long, covering every possible aspect of the class, from phone/e-mail etiquette to dress code for our observations. I like my professor, and I am interested to learn from him, as he has many years in education, both in teaching and administration. His varied experience should help to give us better insight into what administrators expect/look for and realistic classroom experience. I can’t wait to see what awaits me!

One of my new favorite places on campus is the library. OSU’s library is quite possibly the most awesome library I have ever been to in my life! I took a tour of it during Welcome Week last week, and they seriously thought of everything when they designed it. Not only are there gads of computers and printers, there are computers designated only for printing something quickly, computers designated for scanning documents in, and printers that you can plug into a laptop to print things off, too! They have tons of study space, both quiet and silent. They even have a built-in cafĂ©, and food & drinks are allowed everywhere! Oh yeah, and they’re open until 2 AM on most days, and 24/7 during finals week. That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me! I love it!!

I’ve been steadily adjusting to life in my trailer. It is going well so far, and it has improved greatly since Dad and I built a deck last week. It has made my life so much easier, especially when bringing in groceries, school stuff, etc. It makes me happy that there isn’t a huge drop-off by my door anymore, and it is finally halfway safe for all ages! So, building the deck wasn’t all fun and games. Actually, it was hot, heavy, and tiring. While building it, I had my first encounter with a snake, which ended with me violently chopping it in half with a shovel. Okay, so it was a baby-sized snake, but my parents were pretty impressed by my display, because neither of them is fond of snakes. Regardless, at the end of the weekend, thanks to some help from Jeremy, we ended up with an awesome deck! I spent the last few days feeling terribly disconnected from the world, as I had no TV or Internet service. Thankfully, I had a radio & a DVD player, so I didn’t go crazy amid the silence! I also have now dealt with the ordering and installation process of cable/internet. Unfortunately, the Internet installation was unsuccessful due to the large amount of trees which surround my trailer. Thankfully, I can go anywhere on campus and have internet service, so I can keep up with my online schoolwork there. (Hence the library being my new favorite place) I’ll have to figure something out soon enough, but that will work for the time being. The cable installation went much better, and I am now able to watch TV and not feel like I’m living under a rock! Hallelujah!!

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again: During all of my touring experiences before I started classes, every tour guide commented that OSU had the “friendliest campus in the Big XII”. I was dubious about the statement at the time, but, folks, they weren’t lying! Everyone I have encountered is kind, cheerful, and easy to talk to. As you know, I was terrified that I wouldn’t make any friends, but I can now say that I have started making plenty of friends!! Okay, so I haven’t exchanged numbers with anyone or made plans to hang out or anything like that, but it is okay! I mean, it’s only the first week, right? There’s still a long way to go! A few of my friends are from my classes, particularly one girl who has literally all but one class with me. Not only do we share the bulk of our classes, we also share an advisor and a major, so there is a good chance that we’ll end up having more classes together! Hooray! I have a feeling that she is quite similar to me in many more respects, like her attentiveness to her studies, or the fact that we are both band nerds from way back! (She spent the last two years in OSU’s marching band, btw! How awesome is that?!)

So, do you remember me talking about the Catholic student group on campus (St. John’s) ? Well, I have finally made it back to them! You see, I had every intention of going back to Bible study after that one week I went, but then the remainder of my summer pretty much went haywire, and I was either too tired, busy, or stressed to make the time to venture out lakeward to attend. I decided that it would benefit me to find a church of some sort to fulfill my spiritual needs and to (hopefully) meet more people and make friends. I am so glad that I heard about them from a lady at church, because I have had a great week, thanks to everyone there! I went to the student Mass on Wednesday night, which was followed by an ice cream social. By what I am sure was divine intervention, I was reunited with one of my great YAB buddies from way back when! She was sweet enough to introduce me to everyone else, and by the end of the night, I felt like I was at home with them. I met lots of great people there, and I have spent pretty much the rest of the week at various events sponsored by St. John’s! Every time I go, I feel like I talk to someone different, and I am beginning to get better acquainted with everyone! I have started to notice a surprising trend…almost everyone I have talked to is an engineering major, guys and girls alike. Interesting. Needless to say, I am super pumped to see what will await me during the next couple of years there!

Okay, so this is totally unlike me to actually post about this, but I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on one of the biggest improvements from NOC to OSU…the guys! Oh my goodness, I swear that I have seen or talked with some of the nicest, most attractive guys I have ever met! WOW. That’s seriously all I can say! Now that I got that off of my chest, I’ll mention that I DID spent more time studying for my classes than I did studying the guys there…besides, I’m there with the overall goal of getting an M.Ed. degree, not a Mrs. Degree! (Okay, so if it happens that way, I’m obviously not going to be opposed to it happening, I’m just going on the record of saying that that isn’t my only reason for going to OSU :) ) I guess it’ll be interesting to see where that area of my life will go within the next couple of years…who knows, anything can happen!!

One thing that hasn’t happened yet is me finding a new job. I kind of have mixed emotions about it. On one hand, I like having the extra money around, and I don’t feel like a bum. On the other hand, I have a feeling that this semester could end up being terribly busy for me, what with my observations and all, and I don’t know that it would behoove me to start a job while I’m still trying to adjust to life at a new school. Nothing has really opened up to me, and all the places that are publicly hiring seem terribly unappealing to me at this point. After finding myself in a pit of despair about not finding anything yet, I have come to the conclusion that if I am meant to have a job right now, one will present itself to me in some way or another. Thankfully, my family is on board with that plan, and is glad that I quit stressing myself to oblivion about it. I did put in an application for a job at the library, so maybe that’ll pan out. It sure would be nice if it did, but I just can’t let myself worry anymore…it’s all in God’s hands now!

Lastly, I have to talk about campus events. They are also awesome! Having come from NOC, which is by and far a commuter college, sometimes campus events left a little to be desired by way of having a wide variety of people to hang out with. Totally not the case at OSU! I attended my first campus events during Welcome Week when they had a day of events just for transfer students. (In retrospect, I do wish that I would’ve attended more than just those, but it’s fine.) At every event that day, the level of fun only increased! (I also made a couple of friends that night!) This week, there was also the huge back-to-school fun night, called Lights on Stillwater. I’m not sure what I could compare it to, but I guess you could just imagine a few thousand people crammed into the area north of Boone Pickens Stadium, scrambling around to get all the freebies they can! If you are agoraphobic/claustrophobic, or just plain hate crowds of sweaty people, this might not be the event for you…(also, if you have small kids or a large group... it might not be the best option, either.) Many local businesses came out, and pretty much all of them had some sort of freebie/giveaway/coupon/sign-up for us…kind of like Halloween for broke college kids! By the end of the night, I came out of there with a bag full of the following: cups, koozies, ink pens, religious tracts, (lots of religious tracts…I didn’t realize there were that many churches in the area!) coupons for various salons, a pack of oreos, a water bottle, restaurant & shopping guides, food coupons/discounts, and, my personal favorite, a shirt from the free clinic that says “Chlamydia…ain’t nobody got time for that!”. And I bought a box of Samoas from Jeremy’s niece whose Girl Scout troop had a booth there, because who can resist Girl Scout cookies?! There was also a blood drive this week, which I remembered to participate in, mostly so that I don’t have to keep dodging calls from the blood institute. (One of the downsides about having O- blood..) Surprisingly, the whole process only took about an hour, and they even had Hideaway pizza for us afterwards! Awesome!

So, that is a broader view of my first week at OSU, and I can say with no hesitation that I think the next two years could be pretty stinking awesome for me! I can’t wait to see what will happen next! :) 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Day at OSU!

I have officially started back to school!!! Despite my initial trepidation, I am happy to say that my first day went well! Let’s see…an overview of my MWF classes: I start with Adolescent Psychology bright and early at 8:30. Our professor is incredibly nice, but not too perky for the time, which I appreciate! There happens to be a girl from NOC in my class, so I even have a familiar face in the mix! Next, is my Linear Algebra class at 10:30. My professor is Chinese, which makes this my first experience with a foreign professor. I am thankful that he doesn’t have too thick of an accent, and is quite easy to understand. Even better, we’re starting out talking about vectors, which I seriously feel like I’ve studied every year since I took Trig/Pre-Calc in the 11th Grade. It is fair to assume that I am pretty well-versed in vector operations, but I am happy to say that I did learn a few new things about them just within our first LA lecture! I do have to say that I am especially missing my NOC math class buddies, with whom I have spent the majority of the last two years! Strangely enough, this is my first semester having a teacher physically in my classroom, and with A LOT more classmates. (Okay, there’s only like 25 of us, but that’s still a far cry from the four of us in Enid..just saying!)

I also have a class called Applications of Technology in Education, which will be known to you as Ed Tech from here on out, at 1:30. I didn’t really know what to expect from this class besides thinking of obvious things, like using SMART Boards, PowerPoint, etc. I was pleasantly surprised by this class! For starters, my prof is HILARIOUS! I’m almost certain that we laughed during most of today’s class, just because of random things he said/did. Even better, he’s the kind of funny professor who isn’t all fun & games. (Actually, I think he is, but you can still learn a lot from him!) I initially worried that I would get sleepy during that class, but there is no way you could want to sleep in there…I would be afraid that I would miss something funny! The highlight of that class is that he gave us candy, which is one of his first-day traditions! (Technically, he threw it at/towards/near us…I promise it was funnier in person!) After that, I have Role of the Teacher in the American Classroom at 2:30. I’m not sure if it was a letdown after the adrenaline/endorphin high of Ed Tech, but this class is looking like it might be slightly more in-depth than I thought it would be. I’m not discounting it or immediately assuming that I won’t like it, but it will be one of the more deep-thinking classes that I will be taking this semester, as it is really one of the first Professional Development classes I have to take. Not gonna lie, I was exhausted by the time this class rolled around and fatigue might play a larger role here than I thought that it would. Such is life, I’ll find a way to adapt, I’m sure! And, it is only a MW class, so even if it temporarily stinks that it lasts longer than any other class, I DO get Fridays off :)

I also have my class for observations, but that isn’t until later this afternoon, so I haven’t quite made it that far. Generally speaking, my classes run about 20-30 people, and the people I have talked to so far are quite nice. (They weren’t lying when they said that we’re the nicest campus in the Big XII!) There is one girl with whom I literally have all but one class, so I hope that we can become friends, or at least study partners in some capacity. There are also lots of sorority girls and a few frat guys in my classes, which is a social culture that I have never really encountered until now. I haven’t had a bad experience with any of them yet, but I’ll just take this opportunity to mention that I am not a big fan of the Greek structure. (I’m not totally opposed to them on a personal level, just the lifestyle, in case you were wondering.) Regardless, here’s hoping that I will have a great semester filled with lots of learning, friendship, and fun!!

PS) I’m still trying to nail down Internet arrangements at my trailer, so my posting will be sporadic for a while!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to School & Catching Up

I haven’t talked much about what has been happening in my life lately, so here goes!

Mimi is doing alright. As positive as I was in my previous post, our enthusiasm has waned slightly because her condition has worsened a little bit. Anymore, she is tired often and doesn’t have much of an appetite. We all have an idea of what could, and likely will, lie ahead, but are really trying not to think about it more than is necessary. Right now, she is still in the hospital and probably will be for the foreseeable future. We visit often, but in short segments, so we don’t tire her out more than she already is. Last week, we thought that she would be going home this Monday, but as the week went on, it became apparent that she was in no condition to be at home, even if she had people staying with her around-the-clock. So, we are back at square one—waiting and praying.

I miss work, but I am enjoying the small slice of summer I am getting before going back to school/work. I like getting to sleep in the most! Fortunately/unfortunately, that ends next week. I’m terribly apprehensive about going back to school. I know, I shouldn’t be, but I am. It’ll be better once I get there, I think…I hope. I need to find a new job, too; however, you probably know that I’m not excited about that. Moving isn’t at the top of my list, either…thankfully, I only have to move my daily living things, like clothes, shoes, toiletries, and school supplies! Nothing too stressful there, I hope!

All of my worries about leaving home really stem from the fact that Mimi isn’t doing well. There, I said it. I’m scared that once I leave, something will happen that will leave me wanting to just stay home to be with my family. And I’m (still) fearful that I won’t make friends. Listen to me, I sound like a basket case, just thinking of things to keep me from moving on, when I should be excited beyond all measure. I guess I’ll have to put on a brave face, and be optimistic. Besides, I know that’s what Mimi wants me to do, and would be disappointed otherwise. Last week during our good talk on Monday, she told me how proud she was of me and my academic achievements. She is excited to see me go to OSU, and she is even more excited for me to become a teacher, which she firmly believes is my life’s calling and that I will be a natural at it. I suppose I would be doing Mimi, and the rest of my family for that matter, an injustice if I let my petty fears get in the way of achieving my dreams. I feel a little bit better now; just say a prayer for me that I’ll get it together, and fast! :)

I think I’m going to try out buying books somewhere besides the school bookstore. I’ve compared prices, and there are some serious savings to be had if I do so. Even better, I believe that it’ll work out alright with scholarship money, so that would be even better! We’ll see how that works!

I’ve had some great times catching up with friends lately! I had a nice lunch with Shea & Tonisha the other day. Also, this morning I returned from a little weekend getaway with Tonisha to a Trey Songz concert. He is her favorite singer/celebrity crush, so I was more than happy to join her to the concert! It was a weekend of firsts, because it was our first concert, first time staying at a hotel alone, and first time at a casino (that’s where the concert was). Lots and lots of fun, even if it was for a short time! I loved getting to catch up with Tonisha, even if it made me sad that I won’t get to see her as often once I move. Oh yeah…brave face and no more sad-talk…only happy thoughts!!

Little Andy starts to Pre-K this year, and he, like me, isn’t exactly excited about it. Actually, I think he is excited, but won’t say he is when asked. He won’t be going to Pioneer just yet, but only for logistical purposes, and only for this year. Instead, he will be going to Covington, which is where his babysitter lives, and where her children attend school, hence the set-up. It will be interesting to see how this year will go for him, and really all of my nephews for this matter. Just in case you were keeping track at home, Cody will be a third-grader, Wyatt will be a second-grader, and Kyle is completing the trifecta in the first grade. They start school this Thursday, so I’m sure there will be plenty of tales to be told then!

Speaking of Cody and Kyle, they’re spending the day with me tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to it! I think we’ll bake banana bread, and maybe do a few other odd projects, but otherwise, anything can happen. It’ll probably be the last time that we can hang out before I go to Stillwater, but I’m sure we’ll make the best of it!

I can’t quite think of any other noteworthy happenings during the last few weeks, so I’ll leave it at that. Have a great week!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Awesome Power of Prayer!

Just wanted to pop in and let you all know how great the power of prayer is...

Not only has Mimi moved out of ICU, she is steadily regaining strength, appetite, and vigor. For the time being, she is in the Skilled Nursing Unit, where she will receive some therapy. The last time I saw her was yesterday, and she looked much better! I was told that she even sat up and was eating by herself! Even better, she looks more like herself, and words come easier to her. Yes, she still struggles to think of names or details, but has still improved by leaps and bounds, all things considered!

During yesterday's visit, I spent about five to ten minutes with it being just her and me. We had a meaningful conversation about life, death, and God, among other things. It soothed my soul greatly to hold her hand, and chat with her.

I am so thankful that God has delivered her from this ailment thus far, and I have faith that He will not disappoint us in delivering His will, whatever it may be. Mimi has told me multiple times how thankful she is for all the prayers everyone has offered up for her, and how she loves everyone for thinking of her in her time of need. I can promise you that any prayers that have been/will be offered up her, will be reciprocated with prayers of blessing from Mimi!

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.' The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him." Lamentations 3:22-25 (NRSV)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Update on Mimi

I’m back for a bit to catch you all up on everything that has happened over this past weekend regarding Mimi.

Friday was my last day at work, and it was really a great day, for the most part. I shared a fun lunchtime conversation with some of my favorite co-workers and headed back downstairs to finish my last day’s work. I was in the midst of another fun conversation when the phone rang. Being that I was close to it, I answered to find out that it was Emily, calling to inform me about Mimi. I promptly ran upstairs to find my Aunt Marla (one of my co-workers) and talk to her. We spent the rest of the afternoon in a daze, waiting to hear any possible news from my uncle Larry (her husband). I spent some quality time at the shrine after work, praying, crying, and seeking God’s peace for my family and me.

By what I am certain was God’s grace, I happened to run into, of all people, Carissa on my way to the hospital. It was comforting to talk to her and catch up with each other’s lives. Shortly thereafter, I finally arrived at the hospital and learned more of the story…

Friday is the day that Mimi always goes to town to get her hair fixed, go to the bank, and gets any groceries she might need for the week. At her hair appointment, her hairdresser (Louise) noticed that she wasn't acting like herself and was concerned. She decided to give Mimi time to make it home, then tried calling her. She didn't answer the house phone, and Louise was desperate to make sure she was alright, so she tried another way to contact her. As luck would have it, my cousin Michael’s wife, Katha, worked at that salon a few years back, so Louise called her and asked that she and Michael go check on Mimi at home. They frantically made their way to her house to find her standing on her front porch, surrounded by sacks of groceries and trying to find her house keys, dripping with sweat. Michael made her sit in his vehicle while he found the keys, and they helped her put her groceries away. They noticed that her speech was scrambled because, instead of asking Katha to put milk in the refrigerator, she asked her to put the cow in the barn. Mimi was frustrated, but they finally realized what she was trying to get across. They knew that they had to get her to her doctor’s office right away. It turns out that her doctor wasn't in, but his P.A. saw her in the waiting room, and instructed them to go to the ER, and not waste any time. She assured them that she would be admitted upon arrival and not to worry about anything, because she would take care of it.

During the next while, my mom, her siblings, and a few other people were assembled at the hospital. Gina’s friend, who is a P.A. at the ER, came and explained to my family that Mimi was experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke (a bleeding stroke). The bleed was 4 cm in diameter, located primarily over the speech part of her brain. Mimi was admitted to the ICU, which is where she remains for the time being.

Generally, doctors are able to administer the clot-busting drug, which has revolutionized stroke treatment. Unfortunately, with the stroke she experienced, that would have only made matters worse. The doctors wanted to perform an MRI on her to get a better idea of what was happening, but, due to Mimi’s pacemaker, that wasn't an option. Therefore, they ended up performing multiple CT scans on her head. They believe that the bleeding stopped yesterday, thank goodness.

Right now, most of the details are sketchy in my head; I wish I would have taken better notes so that I could share them with you, but I simply didn't.

Here is what I do know: Mimi is okay in the fact that she is able to get up to use the restroom (with assistance), which means there is no paralysis. She can carry on a superficial conversation, but when she has to recall details or names, her words get scrambled. Interestingly, she can describe what she is trying to talk about. For example, she was asking about my cousin Evan, but couldn't think of his name, and instead asked, how the boy with the plants is. We were able to deduce that she was asking about Evan, whose name she recognized after we mentioned it. Another example is when her doctor pointed to his watch and asked her what it was. Instead of saying watch, she told him it was a clock (which it was), but she knew that she wasn't right. She gets frustrated easily, because she knows what she wants to say, but the words don’t come out just right. Mimi told my mom that she fears that people will think she’s a “dummy” because she can’t talk like she used to. My mom assured her that if anyone was to think that that it was that person who was the “dummy” and it wasn't her fault. Her memory is sporadic, because she knows who people are and details about them, but she can’t remember how she came to be at the hospital or why she’s there, etc. She was able to tell the doctors that she is 95, but couldn't remember her birth date. It is little things like that, but her doctors assured us that she hasn't lost any ground, and has actually improved in some respects. She has been put on anti-seizure medication for the time being, because she is at a great risk for seizures, especially with her age. She often complains of a headache or fatigue, but her doctors say that it is caused from brain swelling and/or medication. Also, to prevent a resurgence of bleeding, her blood pressure is being monitored, and the doctors are trying to keep it at a steady rate.

Right now, we simply must take it one day at a time. We just don’t know what will happen, and that could simply be the worst part of the situation. I have gone to see Mimi three times now, and I must say that I have a love-hate relationship with my visits. Of course, I love to see Mimi, and it brings me great comfort to hold her hand, hear her voice, and be able to tell her how much I love her and hear her say the same to me. On the other hand, it hurts. It hurts to see my strong, invincible Mimi struggling as she is. It hurts to see her writhe in pain as her blood pressure cuff tightens on her arm. It hurts to hear her question why she can’t remember things or why she hurts like she does. What hurts the most, though, is hearing her say that she wants to go home, and knowing that she might not necessarily be talking about her farm, or hearing her ask if it’s her time to go. Every time I have visited her, I end up leaving the ICU distraught, asking God to give me patience and clarity for the road that may lie ahead for us all.

The one thing that has brought me great comfort in this time has been my family, both biological and spiritual. On Friday night, as Gina, my Aunt Carol, and I stood in her room, when suddenly the reality of it all became too much for me, and I lost my composure seeing Mimi struggle. As I started to weep, I was embraced by Aunt Carol, who cried with me, and comforted me. Yesterday, I spent the morning with Liz at a coffee shop, talking and trying to take our minds off of everything. We visited Mimi’s room, but she was sleeping soundly and we didn’t have the heart to disturb her. After church this morning, I talked with many of the ladies of our parish, who assured me that Mimi and my family were in their prayers. At the hospital today, most of the family was there. It was my turn to be the comforter as everyone else took their turns visiting Mimi. Like me, they all returned to the waiting room with tear-filled eyes and lots of pain in their heart. I embraced them with the same love that was given to me, and we all cried together.

Honestly, there is a fairly good chance that Mimi will come out of this just fine, and continue to thrive for many more years. The main reason that it hurts us like it does is that it is one of many wake-up calls that Mimi won’t be with us forever. Like I said though, we just don’t know what will happen, and must take it day by day.

It’s kind of amazing how things that seemed like a huge deal, like social obligations, suddenly become unimportant and honestly, unappealing. There were plenty of events happening for our family this weekend that were left unattended, because it was better to be surrounded by each other, in an environment of love and support

Mimi knows that everyone is storming the heavens for her, and she is more grateful than you all will ever know. She has told us that she loves everyone for praying for her. In the same vein, I thank you all for the prayers for our family during this time. That is the biggest reason that we have all been able to be pillars of strength for each other and for Mimi. Of course, I’ll keep everyone updated regardless of what comes.

Love you all!!! Have a great week!

P.S.: Don’t forget to hug your loved ones and tell them you love them. If you can’t hug them physically because of distance, call them just to talk. You won’t regret it, I promise!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Prayers for Mimi

Just a short note...

This morning my Mimi experienced a bleeding stroke, and is currently in the ICU at our local hospital. She is doing alright in the respect that she has no paralysis as of yet and is able to speak for the most part. We really don't know what lies ahead of her just yet, but please, please, please keep her in your prayers. 

Also, keep me and my family in your prayers, that we will have patience and strength to handle what may come our way, and to be accepting of whatever God's will ultimately is. 

My family and I greatly appreciate it, but probably not quite as much as my beautiful Mimi does. Thank you so, so much!