Monday, October 28, 2013

Barn Parties, Beard Shaving, Babies, and...Homecoming?

I’m sorry for my lack of posts lately, but I’ll chalk it up to a combination of not having internet at home and being busy! The thing is, usually when I have internet access during the week (at school or at church) I am either working on homework or hanging out with friends, so my blog has become slightly neglected as a by-product.  And, I have had lots of great times and big things happening during the last two weeks, so get excited about that! Also, get ready for LOTS (and I mean lots) of pictures! (Spoiler alert: Same as last time, I did NOT acquire a boyfriend…or elope…sorry to dash your hopes!!)

Being that it has been long enough, I only remember the highlights from last week, which is probably a good thing because there were really only three-ish items of note from last week, and everything else would have paled in comparison! Last week was Homecoming at OSU, which is a HUGE deal. Our homecoming has been dubbed the “Greatest Homecoming in America”, so I was excited to experience it for myself! Of course, the fountain water in front of Edmon Low was dyed orange. (Fun fact: they dye it more often than during Homecoming, as I have seen it dyed at least three times beforehand since I have started school there…but it still is cool to see it during Homecoming week!)

Last Friday (10/19/13) was walk-around, when all of the Greek houses show off their house decks. Of course, I went with a group from church and we had a great time, minus the fact that it was 40-ish degrees out and drizzling for part of the evening! Originally our group had around ten people, but we ended up losing three by the time it was all said and done, because of how many people were there…needless to say, if you ever plan on going with a large group, have a plan in case you get separated or split up from the get-go, because it is super easy to be separated within mere seconds. All of these details are great, but I think the pictures are better, so here they are!

Theta Pond, all lit up and pretty looking!

Because of the intermittent rain, I didn't get as many pictures of the house decks, but this was one of the more spectacular ones...if you notice in the lower left corner, they made the OK state seal & in the middle is the library..how cool is that!

You can't see the orange fountain water, but you CAN see how the belltower is lit up with orange lights...I thought that part was pretty neat, myself!

After we made it back to church, my friend Rebecca (who lives there, btw) and I decided to make some hot chocolate for everyone so that we could thaw out for a while. After we were nice and warmed up, we (as in Rebecca, me, and a few other church people) went contra dancing. When they invited me to go, I had no idea of what to expect, but they told me that it would be fun, so I took their word for it! They were right, because I had a blast and can’t wait for next month’s dance! Okay, so what’s contra dancing, you ask? Think square dancing, but less corny…LOTS of spinning in circles & getting up close and personal with everyone on the dance floor…and folk music. I’m not sure if you remember me mentioning a while back that I would love to learn how to dance better, but I think that’s why I loved this so much, because I have now fulfilled that life goal! That, and the fact that I was able to dance with guys who were good dancers and were willing to dance, which is incredibly hard to find, if you can believe that…that was also a high point of the evening! :)

The next day (Saturday) was the long-awaited barn-warming/beard shearing party at home. Although the hours leading up to it were mildly stressful, the party was an overall success!!! The biggest highlights were the fireworks show, a slideshow I created, and, of course, my dad being shaved by my mom! Mom got quite a kick out of cutting his hair and was so happy when she finished! It turns out that Mom wasn’t the only person who was ready for the hair to go, because Mimi was ecstatic to see Dad clean-shaven! (Dad claims that she was the reason he decided to shave, which it probably was, to an extent, but I think he was also tired of having his hair blow in his eyes!) When it was over, Mimi cheered and gave Dad a huge hug, and she proceeded to tell him that she was happy that she lived long enough to see that happen!! (Have I mentioned how much I love Mimi? :) ) Okay, here you go…more pictures!!!

If you look closely, you can see my mom smiling as she takes the first cut!

We were tempted to leave it like that! (Not really, but it is a great reference as to how long his beard really was!)

I hope this picture conveys just how happy Mimi was to see Dad clean-shaven!

We managed to get the whole family in a picture...plus a couple of adoptees!

I love this picture of Jake, Liz, Evan, and me soooo much!

I love this father-daughter picture! I'm not sure the last time we took a picture like this, but I'm glad we did :)

I’ll keep the momentum up and skip directly to the other huge happening from the last week—Gina gave birth to Baby Jake!!!!!!! She had her c-section and he was born this past Friday, October 25th, at 7:19 AM. He, like his brothers/cousins was healthy-sized, weighing 9 lbs, 11.1 oz, and was 20.5” long!!!  After much debate between Gina and Jeremy, they decided to compromise on his middle name and give him two middle names, so his name is Jakub Matthew Allen Mattson! They decided to go with the traditional Czech spelling of Jakub, which is how Liz’s brother Jake spells his name, and how a great-great (I think) grandpa on Mom’s side spelled his name! Gina really wanted Matthew as a middle name, as she has since they started having children, but Jeremy wanted Allen, which is his dad’s middle name. After debating for a few months, they settled on the decision of using both, which I think will suit our little guy perfectly! Apparently, having a baby was the thing to do last week, as Gina was almost sent home due to the fact that there were already nineteen babies in the nursery! Crazy!!! (Or as we put it, there was almost no room at the inn for Baby Jesus...okay, Baby Jakub!) Of course, here's some pictures of my newest nephew! :)

Mimi and Jakub had an instant bond :)

This is really how Andy spent the majority of the last two days...kissing Jakub! So far, big brotherhood is suiting him well, as he is fiercely protective of him! Andy also spent quite a bit of time "wuzzling" Jake. (Dad always did that when he had his beard, which basically entailed rubbing up close to someone with his beard.) We told Andy that he was going to rub all of Jake's hair off if he kept it up! 

This little guy has already won my heart!

I sure think he's a cutie pie, but I might be just a little bit partial ;) 
(Did you notice how much hair he has?! None of Gina's kids have ever had that much hair!)

Emily is quite the proud aunt, too!!!

Wyatt was VERY excited to see Jakub!

I love the pictures of Dad holding the boys at the hospital!

Minus the fact that Jakub is ticked off, I love this picture of just the three of them!

This could be my favorite picture of my mom with any of the boys so far! I love the wonder you can see in her face of the miracle of life, especially a life that stems from your own life!

Okay, from here on out, the updates will largely pale in comparison, but are just as awesome in my books! For starters, I was finally able to see Tonisha for the first time since August!!!! She was in town this past weekend for her grandma’s 80th birthday party, so we spent Saturday morning catching up over some Schieber’s donuts! (Fun fact: Jakub & Tonisha’s grandma share a birthday! That just makes me all kinds of happy!!) Even though we have stayed in almost constant contact, there is nothing like actually getting to sit and talk to someone face-to-face! She is doing well in Wichita and is plugging along in her new job. I’m not sure when we’ll get to meet up again, so I savored all the time I could spend catching up with her!

I skipped over this to tell you about Jakub, but it is a big deal—I started my urban observations last week. I am already not as excited about this experience for multiple reasons. It’s not that I don’t like it in general, but I just feel a bit out of my element in the urban school. (Maybe that’s how everyone from OKC felt during the rural experience?) I had a mildly traumatic morning before I even entered a classroom, which entailed my first experience driving through the inner OKC area by myself. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I have come to realize that I am not meant to live anywhere that will entail me driving through OKC or other big-city morning traffic …I legitimately thought that I was going to have a panic attack at some point; that’s how stressed I was from it! (I also ended up driving the wrong way on a one-way street…not my finest moment, but everything ended up just fine, and I didn’t get in a wreck!) When I arrived at the school, I was told that I hadn’t been assigned to a teacher because I wasn’t even on their list of observers. REALLY?!? I’m not sure about the particulars of the situation, but it was a slight mix-up on their part and they found a teacher who was willing to let me observe her. Since I can’t give details, I can’t give you my rant about the rest of the day, but I’ll just say that this is turning out to be a learning experience of what NOT to do. I am trying to be objective and to not be too self-righteous, but there are quite a few things I would change in this classroom, if I could. I’ll probably say this again soon, but I am simply not cut out to work at an inner-city school. It is rough on my emotions, and it only leaves me wanting to change lots of things that I can’t necessarily change. This could be a long month for me…

On to happier news, I will be starting my new job this Tuesday!! I am excited to see how this will go for me, and I am even more excited to have an income source again!! I actually don’t have much else to say about my new job, but it is definitely worth mentioning!

On to other things, our flag football season is over, after we thought that we were on the verge of a comeback, of movie-worthy proportion. As you knew from my other posts, we had lost the majority of our games, but had somehow won enough to qualify for playoffs. We ended up winning our first playoff game, thanks to a great 4th down interception/touchdown from our star freshman player! We rode that wave of confidence on to the next game, which was more of what we were used to…losing. I’d like to think that we had a moral victory in the fact that we were the classier of the two teams from a sportsmanship standpoint, but the fact is that the team we played crushed us. They were really cocky and I think we all wished that it was real football, not flag football, so that we could have just tackled them and released our aggressions. But it wasn’t, and we had to keep our cool enough that we wouldn’t be penalized. I’m aware that I’m profiling, but it helped nothing that the team we played was a sorority/fraternity team…I think that had a lot to do with their overall attitude, just saying! But the game/season is over, and at the end of the day, it’s just a game, and, honestly, it was just co-ed intramurals, not the NFL, so we’re okay! Soccer is going much better, and we have also made the playoffs in that sport! I think they start next week, but I’m not sure. I have a better idea of how the game works, but I still spend an inordinate amount of time aimlessly running across the field. I haven’t incurred any other injuries, but my soccer ball bruise is still there, lines and all. (It is almost gone, but it has also been three weeks! Sheesh!) I’ll give you a more definitive update after the season is complete!

In the last bit of randomness, I just remembered a couple of fun times from Homecoming week, both of which include pictures!

One of my good church friends, whose name is Mari, studies architecture, and I have come to learn over the past few months that that major is not for the faint of heart or anyone who is remotely interested in an active out-of-school social life…or a full night of sleep. She works really hard at her major and has a true passion for it, which is why I know that she will be successful once she graduates and enters the work force. We have a long-running joke at church about how the architecture students practically live at the studio, and have even gone so far as to call it Narnia, because they spend inordinate amounts of time there and usually emerge looking frazzled beyond all measure! Well, Mari and I had some time a couple of weeks ago, so she decided to take me on a tour of the architecture building! I had a blast and loved getting to admire their work!

These are some of the design projects that they have created, which mostly entailed recreating other famous architectural works. 

This is Mari and her work space in the studio...did you know that they have to purchase their own computer when they enter the upper levels of their studies? 

Many of the other work spaces include mini fridges and microwaves. Apparently, students have also been known to bring pillows to stay the night there, too. (I told you it was like Narnia!)

This is an overview of the other work spaces within Mari's studio...let's just say that I felt out of my element in there!

I was amazed by this contraption...I'll explain what it is: When they build their models, they often need to know how light will hit it at various times of the year, in order to design them to be more energy efficient and make best use of natural light. This machine has a compass on the gray plate, and there are dials on the side that can be used to simulate the sunlight at specific times during specific months. I think you can fine-tune it a little bit more, but I think it's awesome, nonetheless!

That night at church, we decided to have some fall fun and carve pumpkins! Surprisingly enough, I had never carved a pumpkin until then, so my friend William teamed up with me and showed me what to do! Everyone had a great time, and after we finished, we sat the pumpkins on top of one of the awnings and lit candles inside of them! I didn’t have my camera with me that night, but I remembered to snap a picture before the pumpkins started looking gross and wilted, so enjoy!

My pumpkin is the fifth from the right...not bad for a first-time pumpkin carving, right? William actually did most of it, but I think I did a good job on my part! :)

Now, you're all caught up on my life, and all of the great times I'm having! Here's hoping everyone has a great week!! (PS--I now realize how crazy I sounded when I was worried about finding friends and enjoying life outside of school! :) God is good!)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall Break Update!

I think by now you should know that if I go a couple of weeks or so without blogging, one of the following has happened: 1) I have been terribly backlogged on homework, 2) I have been terribly tired, 3) There is nothing blog-worthy happening, or 4) Big changes are imminent! I could let you guess at which of the four is the case this time, but I'll save you some time & say that it is a combination of #1 and 4. Lots of homework, lots of papers, lots of random stuff to do for class...oh, and big changes, I'll let you think on that one for a while! :)

Praise God, fall break is this week! I can't tell you how long I've waited for that! Unfortunately, it's only officially on Friday. Lucky for me, I don't have Thursday classes, so I end up with a four-day weekend after all!! Sometimes I get lucky on these things...not always, but sometimes! :) So far, my only real plans are to get my hair cut & possibly sleep in once or so, but you know as well as I do that anything can happen, so we'll see what happens!

I just received news of our second placement for observations, but I still don't really know much about where I'll be going because our placement sheet only gave us contact information for the principal of our assigned school, and he'll give us our teacher after we contact him. It's a little irritating to jump through the extra hoops, but I'll figure it out! This experience will be at a middle school in the OKC area, so it will be totally different this time! Nevertheless, I'm still excited to see what will await me this time!

One of the facets of education majors nowadays is the Portfolio which we have to complete at various phases of our Professional Education courses. We have to complete three submissions during the span of our junior and senior years, as well as take three certification tests and apply for state licensure. The good news is that I have already taken one test (the OGET) back in April, and I only have one Portfolio submission during my junior year! (Everything else will take place at different phases of next year.) This is, by far, the easiest submission we will have, and I am almost done compiling my required materials. It is all done in an electronic format, which makes the process much easier, because some things are as simple as copying and pasting them in from a Word document. Thanks to some help from my friends from my education classes, I finally figured out how to navigate the website & make everything look like it's supposed to! Here's hoping I'll be approved on this submission and won't have to go back to fix anything!

I also went and talked to my adviser last week to figure out which classes I will need to take next semester. As far as I can tell, my classes will be pretty math-centric until my student teaching semester, but I welcome the change only because I'm getting burnt out on reflection papers, writing assignments, and other stuff of the sort. I will be taking fifteen hours again next semester, with twelve of the fifteen being math classes of some sort. One of the classes will be a math history class and another will be an upper-level statistics class, so I don't feel like either of those classes are anything I should worry about! (I'm also taking a math teaching methods class, in case you were wondering.) I can't remember the other classes right now, but it's okay. So out of all of this, there's a good news/bad news part to this. Bad news is that I will have to take a summer class, which pretty well changes my plans, but the good news is that if I take one summer class, I won't have to kill myself with fifteen hours of math classes next semester and eighteen hours overall! I'm not a huge fan of summer classes, but I'd much rather do that and keep my sanity in the process. After making that decision, I have heard plenty of good things about summer classes at OSU from my friends, so I believe I'm doing the right thing. Oh yeah, I am officially pursuing a double major in Secondary Math Education and Math, which sounds super ambitious, but really isn't, because the math education degree is essentially a math degree, minus one class. Obviously, I'll pick up one class that will help me earn my math degree, and all will be well with the world...I hope!

Last week, the international student groups hosted an international food festival during lunchtime. A guy from church is from Africa and is quite involved in one of the groups, so he invited us to visit him there and try some great food. I was pretty excited about the event, and it didn't disappoint! I decided to step out of the box and try foods that I have never tried, as opposed to getting tacos from the Hispanic students or Chinese/Japanese from their respective organizations. Kofi suggested that I try the chicken sate and jerk chicken, which are Indonesian and Jamaican, respectively. I LOVED both dishes immensely and have been scouring Pinterest to find some good recipes so that I can recreate their goodness! The best part about the chicken sate was the peanut sauce that was served with it...kind of a sweet and savory blend, if you've never tried it. I also tried some Argentinean cookies with a dulce de leche/coconut filling, and some Sri Lankan cashew rice, which were both equally delicious! Once again, OSU campus events are totally awesome and worth attending, especially when you have friends to go with to these events!

This week, I managed to run into one of my church friends while I was walking to class. I love seeing friends when I expect to see them, but there is nothing better than randomly meeting up with a friend outside of your usual context! After getting over the initial surprise of seeing each other, she and I had a great chat before we had to go our separate ways for class. Even among the crowds of OSU, there's always a friend close by!

There are some huge things coming up for my family in the next two weeks...First is my dad's shed-warming/hair shearing party next Saturday. I think that it will be a great time, complete with smoked meat, good people, and fireworks! If you're in the area, you should definitely stop in for supper, because we'll have enough food to feed a small army, and we'd love to have you! :)  I can't believe it, but my dad is ready to cut his hair...mom is hoping that he will be getting his long-haired mountain-man look out of his system after this time of growing his hair out! Even better, the following week, Gina will be having baby Jake!!!!!! I am SUPER excited about this, because I LOVE babies and am ready to be able to hold my adorable baby nephew for the first time!! I'm not sure if Andy really knows what is about to happen, but I've been saying lots of prayers that he will adjust just fine, so here's hoping! (Andy has a tendency to gravitate towards Gina, which is the main reason why he might have a rough time with Jake coming.) Wyatt seems pretty excited, although he pretty much has the big brother gig down pat. Hopefully, he'll be able to show Andy the ropes soon enough! Once Jake is here, I'll definitely be posting LOTS of pictures, so don't worry about that!

I vaguely mentioned joining an intramural football team at church a few weeks ago, but I hadn't mentioned much else since. For posterity's sake, here's how that's going...Right now, I believe we are 2-3, but one of our wins came from a rain cancellation. In happy news, we won this past week's game and have earned our spot in the playoffs, which, apparently, is unprecedented for our team! I have finally become comfortable with playing and know what I'm supposed to do while out there. As it turns out, my strength is playing defense and "blocking" people. I say that only because we aren't supposed to make much contact since it is flag football, but let's be honest, there is still lots of contact! I am having a blast, and I am so glad that I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and try this!

Oh yeah, I also ended up joining the church's intramural soccer team, only because they needed more girls or they risked getting fined...and we have lots of fun people on the team! Obviously, I've never played soccer and have even less of an idea of what the rules are as opposed to flag football, so that made for an interesting first game! Thank goodness for the guys on our team, who are all great players, and were sweet enough to give me a few pointers before the game. Our soccer team is doing quite well, as we are 2-1, although we should have been 3-0, but no one asked us. I never realized how much stamina soccer requires, because I almost passed out after running the field a couple of times. (I should really start running again, btw.) I also realized that soccer really is a contact sport, even though I always thought that it wasn't, for some reason. I mention this because I have managed to get hit by the ball in some way or another a few times. This week, I was playing defense on this guy who was right next to me, and he was gearing up to kick the ball. Let's just say that I underestimated his power, and the ball proceeded to connect with my thigh. I was told that it ricocheted a good twenty feet or so, but I'm really not sure because I was staggering off the field at that point, trying not to cry, cuss, or make any more of a scene than there already was! (I can see some humor in the situation, so it's okay if you do, too!) It happened right before halftime, but that was the extent of my playing time, because my leg was throbbing. The good news is that I'm just fine, minus the massive bruise I obviously incurred...

If you look close enough, you can even see a honeycomb pattern in the middle of the bruise! 

Okay, so I've left you hanging long enough on the big news portion of my life: I found a new job!!! (If you thought that I went out and eloped, or more realistically, found a new man, I'm sorry to disappoint you...I'm nowhere close to either of those things happening!) Yes, just when I figured that I'd probably never find a good job until Christmas break, something presented itself to me, just like I hoped it would! My job is at an OSU apparel store that is right next to campus and is owned by a lady from church. I am really hoping that I can keep working there until I graduate. If that would work out, I will be able to "land" for a little bit and not keep jumping from place to place! I don't start until the end the month, but I am a little bit sad to have to give up quite a bit of my free time, but I also know that I really need a job, so I'm willing to make that trade...and the store's hours aren't totally unreasonable. The only downfall of this job is that everyone works all day on game day, but it makes sense, because those are the store's busiest days. (Honestly, I'm pretty prepared for this after having worked the register at the quilt store's Second Saturday event...if I can survive that, then I can survive almost anything!) In good news, I won't be starting until after Homecoming, so I'll get to go to walk-around, but I probably won't go to the game, because that's the same day as Dad's party. I'm sad that I won't get to go to the game itself, but I've been told by all of my friends that Walk-Around is much better than the game itself, so I'll survive!

As a last thought, here's a picture of my adorable nephews in a typical farm kid pose on Dad's haybales...I think it made his evening to see all of them (minus Cole) running along the bales. 

I love these crazy, ornery, sweet boys! They're the best! :)

Have a great week!!!