Saturday, December 13, 2014

End of Semester Fun Times!

I am finally free from the confines of this semester so I can return to the slow-paced life that I love so much! So many wonderful things have happened since last time, so I can't wait to fill you in!!!

I'll begin with Thanksgiving! (Why yes, it has been that long. I know.) I was extremely excited to come home and escape the craziness of school! Just before Thanksgiving, I had a final in my Geometry class, and I spent inordinate amounts of time working on a final project for my Math Modeling class. It was great to take a breather :) I'm happy to report that I was able to finish typing up my report over that break, and it took me ONLY five hours to do so! It was a twenty-three page mathematical report with more difficult equations than I ever care to type out in one setting again. Also, formatting was a bear. If you ever wondered why math textbooks were so expensive, I can tell you why...typesetting is a nightmare! It is hard work!!! Nonetheless, I finished it!

Also, just before Thanksgiving, one of my good friends from church, Stefano, who was a Master's student from Italy, bid us farewell. He was such a kind, joyful soul, and we were sad to tell him goodbye. On the upside, we did have lots of great celebrations in his honor! His official farewell party entailed he and our other Italian, Andrea cooking pasta for us! (Authentic Italian cooking is so's also much simpler than one might imagine!) Also, the next day, a bunch of us took Stefano to lunch at Eskimo Joe's so that he could eat his favorite American foods (hamburgers & french fries) for one last time! It was a great day, and he is missed!
L-R: William, Celeste, Stefano, Kevin, Rebecca, me, Andrea
At home, we had a couple of celebrations for Thanksgiving. On the day of, Mom, Dad, and I made a large pot of chicken noodle soup and brought Mimi over for a simple afternoon meal with her favorite chocolate pudding dessert! It brightened everyone's day greatly! Then, on the Saturday after, we had our feast with Gina & Emily's families, which was absolutely spectacular! Everyone fell into a food coma afterwards...minus me and Cody. Jakub was in rare form that night, as he ran around having a grand time running and climbing everywhere! What a kid! The next day, we had a small birthday celebration for Kyle, who is now eight. At his request, we had a breakfast party with breakfast burritos and a turtle cheesecake for his cake! Kyle was in heaven with his party!
Yes, Cody is almost as tall as me...I now feel old and short ;)
I'm pretty sure I have multiple pictures of Kyle & me like this kid!
Little did I know that when I returned to school that so much would happen in a span of two weeks. Everything that happened in that time made everything else this semester worth it, if you can believe that! I'll begin with the obvious school portions. I was completely done with Geometry (hence the aforementioned final), and was basically done with Math Modeling and Wine Tasting. As it turned out, there was still one more part to my report that our professor never really mentioned until then, but I figured it out thanks to my ability to create Excel spreadsheets that do the hard math for me...and friends who helped me create said spreadsheets :) For Wine Tasting, my group was supposed to give a final presentation that we ended up not presenting thanks to our professor who wanted to leave early that night and emailed it to him instead! One less thing to worry about! I was a little bit overwhelmed by all that I had to do for Methods because I (and everyone else in our class for that matter) had royally procrastinated because of the volume of everything else we had to do in our other classes. Also, my lack of a computer for 2 weeks didn't help matters. I had a couple of late nights, but I finally finished everything this past Thursday...Hallelujah! There was a group presentation for my SPED class for which I was generally not as prepared, if only because I was putting out small fires everywhere else for other classes. Thanks to my group members for being champs and not holding that against me, because that class really wasn't one of my biggest priorities this semester. Which brings me to Number Theory. Ugh. We covered new material up until the last class before finals week started. We also had a homework assignment due that day, which left little to no time to work on studying anything. (I also struggled with time-management for a little bit.) Needless to say, I was slightly less than prepared for the final, which was at 10 AM this past Monday. (I'm still not sure how I felt about having a hard final right away.) Throughout the test, I calculated estimated grades on everything, and once I knew that I had accomplished enough to pass after wracking my brains trying to figure out everything else, I threw in the towel. (Yes, this is one of my favorite parts of being a math shame.) At first, I thought I received a C for the class, which would have been my first, and at that point, I really didn't care because I was just happy to have survived that class. However, by some miracle, I received a B!!! I'm not even sure how or why, but I'm not questioning it! Someone along the way had a little bit of mercy on me and a few of my classmates, and we're glad they did!!!

Another great part of this two-week span was that I FINALLY received my student teaching placements! It wasn't where I assumed I would go, but I'm really happy that I'm there! (Yeah, I'm gonna have to be vague from here on out...sorry!) Upon first receiving news of it, I was told by multiple sources that I'd love my experience with my cooperating teacher. After finally chatting with her via email, I was convinced that I'd enjoy working with her! I observed in her classroom all day yesterday, and I think that I'm really going to enjoy my experience next semester. She's a great teacher who makes things look much easier than they are, but she also has great advice and insight into the profession of teaching. Her students are generally well-behaved and respectful, so we can only hope that that will carry over to my time teaching! :) I'm impressed with the school itself, as it is neat, tidy, and welcoming! I'm much less fearful about next semester!!!!!

Speaking of teaching, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other math education people who have really become like another family to me...maybe slightly dysfunctional, but a family nonetheless :) We've walked together through all of our hard classes: Modern Algebra, Combinatorics, Number Theory, Math Modeling, and of course all of the Methods classes! We started off not knowing much about each other, but here we are about to start the same adventure of student teaching! We've laughed, cried, complained, and lived our lives together. Especially this semester, we've gotten to know each other on a personal level and have built a community. We've shared embarrassing stories from our youth, we've shared meals, we've shared our time in listening to each others' problems/life stories, we've done a lot together. We even have a couple in our midst...I love Janey and Andrew together!!! After our last final together on Monday, we went to Fuzzy's for snacks and margaritas (or pop for Janey, Andrew, and Viktoria) and to the finals week pancake party at the Union. We laughed harder than ever and had great times before going our separate ways! I never thought I'd find myself actually knowing and investing time in my classmates, but I'm so glad I did! Love these crazy folks!!!
The crazy math kids!
Front Row (L-R): Me, Amanda M., Josh
Back Row (L-R): Janey, Andrew, Maria, Viktoria, Jim
So, what else could have possibly happened during this two week span? I mean, I finished my classes, I got little sleep, I received placement for next semester, AND I had a blast with my math friends, what else could have possibly happened? Just wait, there's more!!!

Oh yeah, OSU won Bedlam in a miraculous victory that essentially redeemed our less-than-stellar season AND made us bowl-eligible! (Who cares if it's only the Cactus least it's a bowl game!) What a night!!!!!

Well, going back to that Sunday when I returned from break, something unexpected happened. I was asked on a date for Friday night by my good friend Thomas. Okay, in typing that, it doesn't seem that unexpected, BUT at that point, he was one of my good friends who I had never quite seen in that light, but thought was a wonderful person. On a whim, I said yes! I was terrified in doing so, because I wasn't quite sure what would happen, but something about it seemed right. Throughout the next day, I became increasingly excited! There was a long string of crazy events that happened between Monday and Thursday that I'd rather not delve into here and now, but I'll suffice to say that I have never been more ready for a Friday than I was last week!

We went out to eat and spent the remainder of our evening sitting and talking beneath the stars at Boomer Lake in town (the weather wasn't too bad that night), and we had an amazing time together. It was then and there that we decided to go for it and start dating each other!!!!! :) We have been dating for a week now, and I am continually in awe of how wonderful he is and how great of a fit we are for one another. I am humbled by God's faithfulness to both of us by bringing us together when both of us were very frustrated by love. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I could find such happiness with another person, let alone him, but sometimes, two people just click, and that has definitely been the case for Thomas and me!!! The timing of everything was more perfect than either of us could have imagined. So, for a few facts about him, he is a junior studying Agribusiness and is from a suburb of Dallas. Yes, I am dating a man who is both younger than me AND a Texan...I never thought that either of those things would happen! :) He is incredibly kind, respectful, funny, chivalrous, intelligent, Godly, and yes, handsome! We're both pretty bummed out that just after starting to date one another we have to spend a month apart, but honestly, it's just a month, which is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. Also, we're excited to build our communication skills and get to know each other even better on that level before we both return to Stilly. He is nothing like what I envisioned my next boyfriend would be, but at the same time, he is. He is the embodiment of all that I've wanted in a man, and I cannot wait to see where life will take us!
Yes, we did plan to wear tacky Christmas sweaters together...and it was Thomas's idea :)
This is a better picture of Thomas's smile :)
And yes, he is willing to take crazy, fake sorority girl pictures with me...I hit the jackpot!
So, there you have it, the full update on my life! Here's hoping you all are doing well!!! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fighting Back the Craziness of Life! (A November Update)

Hello! I was trying to get better about NOT posting with one month gaps in between, but I think my life has been a little too chaotic for that to happen, so here it is. day I'll get my life together, but for now, it is what it is.

Homecoming came and went with a bang, and it was such a great, vibrant week on campus! Alas, I didn't get a picture with the orange fountain, but life goes on. In typical Oklahoma fashion, the weather was unexpectedly hot after a week of semi-cool weather, which made for fun times in the t-shirt sales booth where Rebecca and I were expected to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt as a marketing tactic! Thankfully, the tent was shady and it wasn't too hot for was ninety degrees that day! I had the pleasant surprise of sharing part of the day with Liz, who happened to come up to visit for the day with some of her coaching friends. All in all, it was a great day, even if we lost miserably. Football season hasn't been too kind to us this year; here's hoping basketball season goes much better!

Some of us at Walkaround!
L-R: Stefano, Andrea, Roz (Rebecca's awesome roommate!), me, William
L-R: Catherine, Andrea, Roz, me, William, Maria, Stefano
Me and my Math Ed friend, Janey! (It was great to see her outside of our natural habitat :) )
Me and Liz!!!
I thought that I wasn't going to participate in any intramural sports this year because I was too busy, but I changed my mind when Rebecca decided to get a women's volleyball team together! The fact that I have never played this intramural sport was the main selling point...also, I pretty well knew how volleyball was played so, for once, I didn't have the excuse of not knowing how to play! I was just not very good at it, but it's okay, because we play for fun, not to win :) Also, I'd love to mention that I was pretty good at serving, and I wasn't completely terrible at the game, either! So, to all the girls in sixth grade who told me that I couldn't play volleyball, I guess you were wrong! Somehow, we made it to the playoffs, but we didn't make it past the first game. All in all, it was a great season!

During homecoming week, my friend Mari had the great idea to have an Oktoberfest party at church! What started as a small gathering turned into a huge church-wide party! :) We made it a potluck, and no one disappointed! Mari made her family's traditional recipes for wiener schnitzel, Fr. Stuart made spaetzel, Rebecca made applesauce with Austrian crumb topping, and I made kolaches and bierox! Of course, there were LOTS of other yummy treats! It was a great night with great people!
My Bible Study girls all made it to Oktoberfest!!!!
L-R: Me, Emily, Sierra, Maria, Haley, and Lauren!
We also celebrated baby Jakub's first birthday! He had a great day and a fun puppy-themed party! He was a bit tentative about breaking into his little cake at first, but once Gina took it off of the platter, he didn't waste any time getting into it! He is growing up so, so quickly, and before I know it, he'll be two! He really wasn't that impressed with opening birthday presents, but that's really something that comes with age, I suppose. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

The traditional 1st Birthday puppy cake!

Mr. Jakub was pretty content after eating his mini cake :)

Sometime after then, my world has progressively became more and more stressful/confusing/exhausting. What started my whole senior year mini-crisis was the fact that our beloved Dr. J., the math teaching methods professor, announced that she will be retiring this January. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement deluxe, as she was supposed to be our faculty supervisor during student teaching next semester and has gone through the journey of the last year with all of us and knows us personally. I'm sure going to miss her; however, I cannot blame her for wanting to retire...she has a whole family waiting for her up in Oregon, and she deserves the break! She also informed me during a conversation just afterward that it would be in my best interest to consider getting my Master's from somewhere other than OSU. She also told me that it might be a good option to consider teaching high school math for at least one year before moving on to other career paths. Hearing these things after learning of her retirement put me into a state of near-hysteria. Adding insult to injury, as I was walking back to my vehicle after that conversation, I overheard the band playing the song "Time to Say Goodbye"...the irony wasn't lost on me. Life goes on, and I've also taken into to consideration some of what Dr. J told me...more on that in a sec!

On that note, classes have been, of course, crazy. I perpetually have stuff to do, and I've accepted that. The next three weeks are going to be absurd, but they're slowly getting less stressful, so long as I keep plugging away at everything. I'm basically done with things for Geometry and Wine Tasting and I'm on the verge of being done with things for my SPED class. We'll get it figured out sooner or later. Number Theory is ridiculous, if only because our professor gives us 25-problem homework sets that are mostly proof-based. That doesn't sound that bad in theory, but it's way too much. Ugh. One day, I'll look back at this time and laugh about how bad I thought things were! :)

On a related happy note, I passed Portfolio Submission II with flying colors! I'm on the fast track to receiving placements, which is another part of this endless update...I'll get there in a few!

Fun fact: Rebecca and I went up to Wichita last weekend to visit convents. Neither of us is really considering becoming a nun, but it was a fun little overnight road trip! Also, we visited Tonisha while we were in the neighborhood, so to speak! It was great to visit her on her home turf, since she's usually the one to come visit Oklahoma! After we got back, I added to the list of dances I've learned this year by attending the OSU Salsa Ball! :) I went with my great friend Viktoria from my math classes, and we had a blast! Let's see what types of dancing I've learned this year: Two-stepping (I learned fancier techniques than just standard two-stepping), Polka, East Coast Swing, the Charleston, Contra, Salsa, Cha-cha, Petengue, and Merengue. The Latin varietals are still a little bit rough, but I've learned a little bit! What a year! :) Now to learn ballroom dances like the waltz, the foxtrot, and a few others! (Once again, shout out to the girls in grade school who said I couldn't dance :) ) It was a crazy weekend, but it was topped off by another great dear friend Katie visited! It was lovely to see her again, as she moved to Ohio back in July. Life is treating her well, and she is preparing to move to Chicago! I'm so happy that I was able to chat with her for a short while and soak in the joy she exudes!!

So yes, lots of great things happened, but some not-so-great things also happened. Shortly after Dr. J made her announcement, I went to open up my computer one morning and it flat-out wouldn't turn on. I tried a few obvious things, but nothing solved the problem. This was the point I took it to Best Buy for some diagnostics that were beyond my capabilities. The prognosis was that my motherboard was bad. I never realized how much I used my laptop until I couldn't use it. I also never realized how much we use technology/computers for school until I didn't have one at my disposal. We really take stuff like that for granted...we also rely on them WAYYY too much! I really feel bad for anyone who doesn't have the means to have a laptop of their own during college. Living without a laptop/tablet in school is not impossible, but it poses a specific challenge that few really understand. In all reality, my laptop dying wasn't too implausible, as it was 3.5 years old, and I have used and abused it. I was really hoping that it'd get me through college and I could buy a new one upon graduating, but such is life. I found a good deal at Best Buy, of all places, and I'm now writing this post on my new laptop! :)

I started this past week with the excitement of receiving my new laptop, but that excitement dissipated throughout the week. The day after getting my laptop, I was walking to work from my parking lot, and I have to cross a major intersection through a crosswalk. I was running a little bit late for various reasons, so I was moving at a decent clip to catch the light and avoid waiting an additional three minutes for the next one. (I was five-ish minutes late as it was.) I happened to dig out my cold-weather boots that day which leave me a little more clumsy-footed than usual, and somehow, I caught my toe in a crack in the sidewalk. Recall that I was moving with purpose, and how physics works, and you can guess what happened next. SPLAT! I was flat on my face in the middle of the crosswalk, knees and palms stinging from the burn of the freezing asphalt, and my ego largely deflated. I picked myself up quickly so as to avoid any further embarrassment and getting ran over and fought back the urge to cry, since I potentially had to work with students. (No one came in that day, thank goodness!) After my shift, I went to class and had a small spat with a friend, which was mostly residual from my edginess from my fall that morning. (Not my finest hour.)

The day was on the upswing until I ran out to my car to get something and noticed a large puddle beneath it. I mentally retraced my steps from when I parked that morning and couldn't recall a pre-existing puddle in the parking spot. Oh no. Well, after a while of waiting to check that it really was my car, I called on William, the farm boy who is good with mechanical things, to examine the situation. I am really grateful for him being there in that moment, because he diagnosed that I had a leak somewhere in my radiator and the puddle was antifreeze. Lovely. I called my dad to see what we needed to do, and I ended up driving it as far as I could before it almost overheated, which was where Dad picked me up. I've been driving Mom's car ever since, which has been a huge blessing! I was determined that Wednesday would be good, which it was until I went home that evening and found out that the heat tape on my water line came unplugged and my pipes were frozen. Lovelier. I figured out how to thaw it and went on with the evening.

The next day, I noticed extremely low water pressure and then noticed leaks from beneath my trailer. Also, the heater wasn't working too well and it was twenty-ish degrees outside. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I was about at my wit's end when I called my mom crying hysterically, and we got a game plan with my dad who was coming with the car trailer to retrieve my truck that day anyway. We threw around lots of tentative plans of things we could do, worst-case-scenario-wise. I went to class and figured that things would be sorted out by the end of the day. We were right, and in the best way possible! My heater wasn't working due to an non-functioning converter, which is part of the electrical interface of my trailer, so my dad replaced it and now everything is working beautifully! As far as the water leak goes, apparently, there is some sort of overflow feature in my water tanks, and the "leak" was due to the tank being full. I don't completely understand the mechanics of it, but crisis averted! My life has been made much simpler!

Oh yeah, in the midst of everything else, I had student teaching placements/next year figured out until I found out that there was a communication error and the school was looking for a science teacher, not a math teacher. The moral of this story is that I have no clue what to expect from life these days and very little of what life throws at me surprises me anymore. Contrary to what one might imagine, I haven't turned into a cynical grump as a by-product, but I've become even more reliant on God to provide for me, which he always does, and so beautifully at that! Between my parents and all of my friends who provided help and general moral support, I have been abundantly blessed! I mean, I had moments when I felt like I had been forgotten/forsaken/ready to go hibernate all winter, but faith pulls you through even the roughest of weeks, and here's hoping that I'll have a series of small wins throughout this week...I'm not expecting everything to be perfect, but surely most anything will be better than last week!!!

As far as the long-term goes, I'm not even that concerned about what will happen in that arena...with that being said, I'm being open to ALL possibilities that will be on the table as I prepare to enter the workforce next year, even if it means throwing my original plans out the window. It has taken lots of time in prayer and just thinking about everything for me to find this peace, but it is really freeing to not know what I'm going to do and just wait and see what opens up for me!
Good things have to be in store for me on all ends, right?

On a related note, yesterday was Rebecca's 21st birthday, and we had a great little celebration at everyone's favorite local pub! It was a great day :)
Rebecca and me!
I also found a heads-up nickel while walking over to work today...I think everything will be just fine after all :) Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Classes, Group Projects, and Other Fun Stuff

It's been a while since I've updated my blog. What can I say? My life is fifty kinds of crazy right now, as it has more or less been since I last posted. If you're wondering what life is like for a senior in college, it is ridiculously crazy and sometimes I feel like I'm perpetually running from place to place, obligation to obligation. It's a crazy life, but it's mine, and I wouldn't trade it for the world! Let's see what adventures I've been on since last time...

I'll start by telling you ALL about my classes, because that has been consuming the bulk of my time this semester! First off, for anyone who thinks that taking 17 hours during their last (technical) semester of college is a great idea, let me give you some advice: don't be a hero! (Unless Wine Tasting class is an option...then you should go for it!) I've officially gone through my first round of tests, and made it out relatively unscathed...Number Theory was a little bit rough, but I'll take what I can get in there! My SPED class is pretty good, although I feel like I'm constantly doing lots of tedious assignments that consume more time than they should. I'm almost done with my service learning project, which will be a huge relief, if only for the fact that I'll be getting a little bit more time back to do other things! Number Theory is a struggle. I hate writing math proofs. I'm not good at them, and I'm ready to just be done with this class! I feel the same way about Geometry, but to a lesser extent. Math Modeling isn't too bad, and we've moved on to a much easier new project. So far, I've enjoyed working with both groups that I've been a part of...even better, this time around, I think I'll actually be able to contribute something useful to this project! Hallelujah! My Methods class is just fine, as usual, although we're starting to get pretty busy assignment-wise. In order to prepare us for next semester, Dr. J is having us do a mock version of our huge student teaching project so we won't feel totally blindsided next semester! It's a little stressful now, but I know I'll thank her in a few months! As always, Wine Tasting is perfect :) We've now tried Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Gewurztraminer varietals. Out of those, I preferred the Riesling and Gewurztraminer the most...what can I say, I'm a sucker for sweet white wines! We're moving to red varietals this week, so I'm pleasantly awaiting those!

Fun fact: in all of these classes EXCEPT Geometry, I have group projects to coordinate. It is utterly exhausting and incredibly difficult to coordinate. The only good thing in this sore spot is that I have wonderful group members all around! Another thing that has consumed the majority of my energy as of late is my Education Portfolio submission II, which is due in about 2 weeks. It's not hard, but it basically requires me to go through all of my assignments from the past year or so and find ones that align with both our program's core values and Oklahoma's general competencies for educators. It's an arduous process that caused me to spend most of this past Saturday in exile. By the grace of God, I only have 2 more artifacts left to fill in, and I'll be done! After submitting this and hopefully getting it approved the first time around, I'll be ready to receive student teaching placements!!!!! We had official interviews with the placement coordinator a few weeks ago, when we gave our preferences for where we'd theoretically like to go. I'm afraid that I'll have to be fairly vague about all of this, but I feel like I made some good selections. We'll see how it ends up! I also had my last appointment with my academic advisor who I have grown to love! She's been with me through my entire OSU journey and has been a total rockstar at dealing with any questions I threw her way! I hope that everyone can have an advisor as wonderful as mine was!

Tutoring has been pretty good lately, as I've been getting much more business due to midterms and people stressing about failing them. It's been wonderful for me to be back in the practice of explaining algebra instead of writing proofs on the Well-Ordering Principle or divisibility of prime powers of numbers and their prime factorizations. (If you're especially curious, look up number theory proofs...That should make you grateful that you never studied math!) I love tutoring immensely, and cannot wait to actually be in the classroom doing what I've studied to do for the past four years!!! Also, after two months of working here, I FINALLY got my name tag! Everyone else's name tag was a rinky-dink laminated paper number, so I really wasn't sure what the hold-up was until I actually received mine...needless to say, it is NOT a rinky-dink laminated name tag. It is a beautifully engraved, straight-up legit name tag. It may or may not be on the same plane as their faculty name tags. It also may or may not be the third name tag of this sort that I've received from the wonderful folks at NOC...I'm not complaining :) It's the little things in life, I tell you!

So, obviously those things have kept me on my toes for the majority of the time, but have no fear...I've made sure to make time for fun stuff, too!

Instead of going on and on about every little thing I've done, I'll give you more of a bulleted list of highlights!
-I attended 2 more games, both of which were total wins and lots of fun all around...Homecoming is next week, btw!!! I'm so excited!!!!! (Brace yourselves for the inevitable orange fountain & walkaround pics!)
-I attended another Matt Maher concert last weekend with Rebecca, Rebecca's little sister Abi, and Maria! It was an amazing time, and the concert tickets were inexpensive, so it was a wonderful time!
Maria, Rebecca, Abi, and me! I'm so blessed to have friends like these beautiful women of God!

My fantastic freshman friend, Maria!

Abi and I ended up with matching t-shirts...I love it so much :)

Also, last night, Rebecca and Andrea invited me to join them at a campus concert last night featuring Scottish-Gaelic artist, Julie Fowlis. I've never heard of her and never really listened much to that kind of music, but I had a wonderful time! I also attended the gubernatorial debate two weeks ago between Gov. Fallin and her opposer, Joe Dorman. It was really cool to attend, but it did nothing much in the means of guiding my decision, because it was still a stereotypical debate in which both candidates talked circles around each other. Also, if you've seen the pictures of Mary Fallin with that OU student who was wearing the Mary Failin shirt, (look it up if you haven't) I happened to sit right behind that guy during the debate. I'm not sure why that's important, but I figure it's worth mentioning. I love that OSU so often plays host to cool events like both of these things, so that I can have opportunities to experience them! Just another of the reasons it's totally worth it to go here, even if I transferred in! I'm perpetually thankful that I took the chance to do it!

I'm also officially obsessed with Parks and Recreation! I'm now on Season 4 and loving it! It is finally getting to the point where it is not so much like The Office and is getting its own feel! Rebecca is mostly joining me in this new TV obsession :) Good times!

In the midst of all of this combined craziness, I've also managed to steal away some time to go home and be with my awesome family! I loved getting to spend quiet evenings with my family and see my adorable nephews who are growing up before my eyes! Fun fact: baby Jakub is not much of a baby anymore as he is walking and VERY mobile...AND he turns one next Saturday!!!!! The four older boys are more or less enjoying their various combinations of school and Boy Scouts. I, of course, was more than happy to contribute to their popcorn sales the last time I was home :) This week, my parents are enjoying a well-deserved getaway to Santa Fe, so I can't wait to hear stories about their adventures!

On a final note, I'm REALLY excited to share what is easily the best news I've received in a long beloved cousin, Evan, who's chugging through his senior year of high school, just received word that he has been accepted to OSU and will be joining me here next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, Grad School here will most likely be a thing for me next year, in case you're wondering) He called to tell me yesterday, and I'm so excited for him to have all kinds of wonderful experiences here! I'm excited for him to come visit so that I can show him around and help him get acquainted with campus :) I'm even more excited to have another cousin who will proudly wear America's brightest orange with me!! Go Pokes!!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

What I've Been Up To Lately!

Hello everyone! I hope that all's been well since the last time I posted...yes, it's been a while, is it really that surprising at this point? I feel like I haven't done much, but I know that I have, so I'll pop in for a few and fill you in on what I've been up to as of late!!

In general, I've stayed pretty busy with school work, as I should expect to...I mean, I'm taking 17 hours, so it's not like I have tons of time floating around! In all honesty, though, I could be working harder in some areas...such is life! As far as my classes go, as a whole, they're good, but crazy in different ways! SPED isn't difficult, but it keeps me busy with little assignments. It's the first class in which I have written papers in about two years...needless to say, I'm a little out of practice in writing technical papers! Next week, I start my service learning project, in which I will volunteer at an adult education class for adults with disabilities, so I'm interested to dive into that! Number Theory and Math Modeling have been kind of ridiculous, if we're being honest. I adore my Number Theory prof, but there's always an unrealistic amount of homework that I rarely know how to complete entirely and correctly. Oh well. I'm really not feeling my Math Modeling class, but maybe I'd be more excited if I (or anyone else in that class) understood the project that we're working on. The problem is literally circa 1985 and about coding of magnetic cassette tapes, so it's very relatable. (Sarcasm, much?) Geometry isn't bad, though! Of all my theory-based math classes, I've enjoyed it the most! (Note that I use the word "enjoy" relatively, though!) My Methods class is nothing too mind-blowing, but at least it provides some comic relief at the end of crazy days of math classes...and I greatly enjoy our professor, Dr. J, even if she can frustrate us all at times!

So, what about Wine Tasting? I'm glad you asked!! I generally love it and the entire atmosphere! Last night was our first time to actually taste wine, and we sampled from the Sauvignon Blanc varietals. I'm actually learning LOTS about wine and love this great change of pace! I wish I could say that I liked Sauvignon Blanc, but it was too sour for my liking...oh well, there's always next week when we'll taste Riesling! Just as some fun facts for everyone, although it is made exclusively with grapes, it has a tendency to have tropical fruit and herbaceous undertones with a medium finish. Also, I was told that it would pair well with shrimp cocktail, clams, or various fish dishes. (Not grilled shrimp, though...the smoky flavors supposedly fight each other. #themoreyouknow) I feel like I'm very much on the way to becoming a wine snob aficionado! :)

On a completely unrelated note, here's the Back to School pics of my adorable nephews, as promised!!
Wyatt & Andy...have I mentioned how much I adore Wyatt's glasses?

Kyle & Cody, looking tough and strong!

Love this shot...especially with Cole tagging in at the end :)

Yes, Baby Jakub is not looking like so much of a baby anymore! Love this happy, smiley boy!!

Cole was surprisingly saddened to see Cody and Kyle his words, "Where my Cody-Kyle?"
Only a couple more years and you'll be right with them, kiddo!

Also, in a related note, Andy lost his first tooth this week :) (No pictures, just excitement!)

Last week was also our first home game of the season!! Sadly, it didn't look or feel much like a game day because it felt like we were in the middle of a monsoon! (I'm not actually complaining about rain, though...we needed it badly!) Rebecca and I helped out at a tailgate booth for one of the local stores that a lady from church manages and were quite happy to be reprieved by kickoff time since very few people were actually willing to stop in the rain to buy shirts from our tent! After hemming and hawing for a couple of weeks, I bit the bullet and bought the student sports pass because I'm a senior and who knows when I'll get to attend football games after this year! I went with a group from St. John's and had a great time, especially since we beat Missouri State quite soundly!
Some of the lovely ladies I went with :) 
(L-R: Ariana, Lindsey, me, Maria, and Sierra)

Maria, my new freshman friend from Seattle! :)

There's another home game tomorrow, and we play UTSA, so here's hoping there will be even more fun times/pictures/memories to bring home from that! :)

In actual news about my life, student teaching is starting to become very real. We have formal interviews for our placements next week, and we're hoping to have finalized placements by Thanksgiving Break. Wow. We get three choices as to where we'd like to be placed, but it's kind of a catch-22 because, while we get our say-so of where we'd *like* to go, we're going to be placed where they want us to be placed. Oh well, I'm not too concerned, and I have faith that it'll at least be better than the time I observed at the OKC middle school last year, so here's hoping! Is it bad that I'm looking forward to student teaching because I won't have to take any more math classes? 

Also, I actually inquired about the graduate program that I'm looking to enter next year. Let's just say that I didn't expect my conversation with Dr. J (methods prof who also happens to be one of the heads of the grad program I'm wanting to enter) to be as impacting as it was! At first thought, she was a bit confused as to why I was wanting to go straight to grad school instead of actually teaching for a couple of years, but we were both incredibly surprised to find out that we had a common link. This common link happened in the form of my Calc I professor from NOC who went through Dr. J's undergrad/Master's program. Apparently Dr. J ran into her at Walmart a couple of weeks ago and hinted that she had a former student coming up through OSU's program that she was scouting to come back and teach at NOC. Dr. J had no idea of who she was referring to...until I just so happened to bring it up during our conversation. Needless to say, Dr. J put two and two together and she was very supportive of my plan. I am still incredibly humbled/shocked that I have that many people out there pulling for me already, but will take any support that I can get!! Yes, I'm super excited to see where life will be taking me in the next couple of years!

On a random last note, I think that I'm going to go for it and buy some new glasses! I think that I'm going to hop on the bandwagon and look for some "hipster glasses", so that I can wear them more throughout student teaching. I think that I'm going to need something like that to help me at least not look like I'm still a high-schooler! Super random, but there it is! 

Another note of randomness: I'm currently obsessing over Parks and Recreation in a feeble attempt to move on from The far, it's working and I'm a little way through Season 2! Good times :)

I'll end it here so that I can work on some Geometry homework and not feel totally guilty about having fun tonight! Have a great day!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Back to School!

Hello! I’m finally back to catch everyone up on how my first two weeks of classes have gone!

I guess I’ll begin by talking about my first day of my senior year, which actually wasn’t anything too spectacular. I mean, it wasn't terrible, but it was rather anticlimactic. Unfortunately, Syllabus Day isn’t a thing anymore when you’re a senior, especially a senior math major—it’s just that much more time for lecture on methods of proof. The highlight of my first day was that I was able to purchase a parking permit at St. John’s, which saved me $70 and LOTS of undue stress of finding a parking spot! According to my friends with OSU permits, you have to be on campus by 8:00 AM just to find a halfway close parking spot, and if you’re not on campus until later in the morning, you might as well go to the overflow lots at the other end of campus. I’d love to understand why OSU hasn't built more parking garages or why they oversell their permits for their parking lots...or why they don’t have more parking in general. They should really consult some of my math professors to help them optimize this process…just saying!

Per my mom’s request, I had Rebecca help me get a first day of school picture! Actually, Rebecca took the picture and my friend William comically gave me pointers on how to pose for the picture (which mostly consisted of convincing me to wear my backpack in the picture)! What great friends!! 

Speaking of friends, here's a fun shot of Rebecca and I from the first student Mass of the year...I love our fancy dresses :)

So, what about my classes? Ah, yes, those. My first class is Educating Exceptional Learners, hereafter to be known as SPED. It is eye-opening to learn about how to educate students with various disabilities, but it is also frustrating, because this is only a two-credit-hour course that really should be a four-hour course. We only meet once a week, which you’d think that I’d prefer, but actually, I’d rather meet twice a week. We have LOTS of stuff to do in this class, including ten hours of service learning and an extensive group project, which will serve as our final. (Hence why I’d like to meet more than once per week.) Next class is Number Theory, which is taught by the same professor who taught Combinatorics last spring. He’s quirky and lots of fun, but his tests can be a bit of a drag…such is life! I also have Math Modeling, which is easily my most confusing class. It consists of doing four group projects using applied math, but our current project still confounds me (and everyone else in the class). I hope that we’ll figure it out soon! After Math Modeling, I have Methods of Teaching Geometry. I love our professor and my classmates, but I don’t love the ridiculous amount of paperwork we have in that class. (By paperwork, I really mean worksheets/junk that I have no clue what to do with.)

All the classes I just mentioned happen on M/MW/MWF, which make for incredibly long, mentally exhausting days! Fortunately, I only have one TR class, which is Geometry. It isn't too bad yet, so here’s hoping I’ll keep up with it! Also, on Thursday night, I have Wine Tasting!!! I enjoy this class and my half British-half French professor, who is pretty funny! For the record, we haven’t tasted any wine yet, but we will in two weeks! Oddly enough, out of all of my classes, I only have finals in Number Theory and Methods—every other class either has a big group project or just doesn't have a final test, and I think I’m going to be okay with that! What a way to end my actual undergrad coursework!

In the background of all of this, I also just finished my first week of tutoring. So far, I've only helped one girl, but I’m sure it’ll pick up as the semester rolls on. It could partially be due to the fact that I tutor so early and for such short times, but I didn't want to completely over commit, so it’ll be fine, I’m sure! As of right now, I only work on MWF mornings, usually for a couple of hours. Also, this weekend is my last weekend working at the lake. Friday was my day of craziness as I tutored, went to class, then came and worked at the lake all evening…not the most ideal set-up, but it’s the only time I’ll have to do that, so I won’t complain too much! I’m excited to get most of my weekends back to do what I wish with them, so yes, this is a little bit of a welcome relief!

Other fun stuff—I woke up very early on my second day of class to get in line to buy a few boxes of Colorado peaches for my mom! They are absolutely fantastic and very much worth getting in line at 6 AM. I ended up buying a box for myself to share with my friends, and they quickly became the talk of St. John’s! Rebecca wanted some fresh peaches so that she could bake a peach pie (she LOVES to bake!) and our friend Andrea also loves peaches, so it worked well. I didn't realize it until last week, but apparently Porter, OK is well-known for peaches and William proceeded to argue that they were much better than Colorado peaches. The jury’s still out on that one, but I’ll continue to stand by my position that Colorado grows the best peaches! :)

Last week was the first Contra dance of this semester, and it was a blast, as usual! There were lots of new faces, who I hope will continue to join us! I’m so happy that I decided to go outside of my comfort zone last year and unlock my love for dancing!!! Lots of great times!

This past week, I also started my Bible study up again! Yes, there were some new faces there, also, much to my delight! On an even better note, one girl from my study has decided to start her own study! I also never realized how much joy I could have found from guiding other young women in the study of Scripture, but it is a joy unlike any I have ever known. I’m excited that all of the girls made the choice to join, (no, it isn't something that is forced on them, in case you were curious) and I love that I get to be a part of their lives in that aspect!

If you have been keeping up with my homeownership woes from the past year, here’s another one for your list! Last Friday, I came home to mow my lawn before going to Contra dancing that evening. This is a relatively simple process, which ideally only takes about 20-30 minutes to complete, because my lawn isn't that expansive. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I've come to realize that Fridays are terrible days for me when it comes to my home. So what happened? Well, back in June, I bought a small push mower that has served me quite well thus far. It doesn't take much maintenance, it wasn't terribly expensive, and it is pretty easy to operate. So, I came home, changed clothes, and lathered up in sunscreen so I didn't burn to a crisp. I popped outside, pulled the lawnmower out from beneath the deck, and wheeled it out to start it up. I yanked the starter cord, and I went to yank it again…until I realized that the cord wasn't retracting. I fought with it for a few moments and realized that nothing could easily fix it. I also discovered that I have a limited supply of tools and that I was greatly spoiled by having all of my dad’s tools at my disposal for years. It appeared as though my starter cord was knotted, but the only way to unknot it was to take the plastic cover off of the top, which could only be done with a socket wrench. I ended up visiting Jeremy’s parents, who had tools I could borrow. Jeremy’s dad hadn't heard of anything like that ever happening and suggested that a spring was out and to call Lowe’s. (Really? Why does every little obscure thing have to go wrong for me?) After spending fifteen minutes on the phone with Lowe’s customer service people who were fairly easy to work with, they told me that they've “never heard of a starter cord being knotted”, to ensure that the mower handles were properly installed (???), and that I should just take it back to Lowe’s for a service call that could easily take 1-2 weeks to complete.

I’d like to pause for a moment and get on a bit of a soapbox. I go back to a conversation I had with one of my male friends about things that are difficult about being a girl. During our conversation, the only obvious thing I could think of was childbirth, but in retrospect I would add having to be a woman needing mechanical assistance. I’m sure that lots of other women have had this struggle—there is nothing I hate more than having to call for parts or customer service on anything mechanical. Even if it is 2014 and women have basically the same rights as men, some men who work in service departments are incapable of talking to women about mechanical things without coming off as condescending. I might not understand all of the inner workings of all motorized things, but I’m not completely ignorant, either. For heaven’s sake, I purchased, assembled, and operated this mower all by myself, and if the owner’s manual had any information that was actually useful, I wouldn't have even had to call this silly service line in the first place!! I have a dream that one day, I’ll be able to talk with any male service person without being talked to like I know nothing.

I digress, but guess what the problem was after all? The starter cord was knotted and easily fixed after I finally was able to remove the plastic motor cover. What started out as a thirty-minute chore turned into a two-hour ordeal that almost ended with the loss of my sanity! I’m over it, and I really hope that things start working better!!

On a happier note, last Saturday was Gina’s birthday and we had a lovely celebration for her that evening! Even better, tomorrow, Mister Cody will turn ten! WHAT?!?! I swear he was just born, but nope, he’s ten, in fourth grade, and almost as tall as I am! Speaking of, I have some wonderful pictures of he, Wyatt, Kyle, and Andy’s first day of school! They are pretty evenly spaced, with Cody in fourth, Wyatt in third, Kyle in second, and Andrew in kindergarten, all at Pleasant Vale and all on the same bus! Before we know it, little Cole will be in pre-K! Yikes!!
(I would include pictures, but I realize that I haven't uploaded them yet. Maybe next time...)

On that note, I’ll end it there, and hope that everyone has a great, safe Labor Day weekend!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Night Ponderings

(I'll tell you about my first week of classes and such in the near future, but for now, I just wanted to share something that has been on my heart over the last couple of days. Usually I am fairly resourceful with words and can explain things quite garrulously, but for now, don't mind me while I'm being terse...)

You are needed. Your life has a purpose. You have no idea how much impact your mere presence has on those around you. Your words are more powerful than you will ever realize. You are loved.

God is using you in ways that are far beyond your human understanding. God, who is love incarnate, loves you more than you will ever be able to comprehend. God doesn't expect perfection from us; it's okay to be mad at Him. He longs for you to love Him the way you love everything and everyone else.

Breathe. Things are going to be okay, even if it doesn't seem like it now. Be calm, and don't worry.

Happy Sunday; Procedamus in pacem!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Last Bits of Summer

Well, here I am, on the cusp of my final year of my undergraduate work! It hasn't been too long since my last post, but LOTS of things have happened in the meantime! Let’s see…

I left off by mentioning that I would soon be meeting our new team of FOCUS missionaries and was excited to befriend them. I am happy to report that I love our new team, especially my new mentor, Sarah! She is very encouraging, kind, and positive, and I have loved getting to hang out with her during the past week!!! We've had lots of great times this past week, and I cannot wait to see what else awaits us as we go through this year! Another fun happening was that my old mentor, Heather, was still in town this week, and it was her birthday on Tuesday! We had a great impromptu surprise party for her that night! She was beyond excited (and momentarily overwhelmed) by our surprise! For the record, I LOVE surprise parties, so this was right up my alley :) I also had a wonderful time getting to see all of my friends who have gradually started moving back over this past week! Lots of excitement, that’s for sure!!

One of the most notable developments of the past week is that I have secured employment for this semester doing what I love most! No, I’m not going back to the quilt shop (although I would always love to do that :) ), but it’s my definite favorite—I get to tutor again!!!!!! Thanks to my amazing old boss at NOC, she got the ball rolling with the NOC-Stillwater math faculty so that I could essentially fall into a tutoring job here!!! I’ll only be tutoring about six hours per week, but I will also be getting a substantial pay raise, so that makes this good deal even better!!! I am incredibly blessed to have had all of these wonderful opportunities come into my life, and I can’t wait to see what else awaits me in the future! As an added bonus, the tutoring facility is right on the OSU campus and I get a free NOC parking pass, which will keep me from having to buy one of OSU’s ridiculously expensive permits! Blessings all around!

Another fun thing: I have been thinking about buying a bike for various reasons. Okay, that’s not fun, but I was telling my friend from church, Ben, about this, because he’s very knowledgeable about bicycles, and he proceeded to tell me that he and William (his roommate, also from church) had a bicycle sitting in their garage at their house that was left in there from the previous tenant that he would give me for free! What a stroke of luck! Okay, so actually, the bike needs new tubes and a little bit of TLC, but Ben offered to do the maintenance, so I’ll just buy parts and pay him for labor, and we’ll settle up that way! I’m super excited about this!

As I’ve been around St. John’s this past week, the lady who is the director of campus ministry informed me that I was chosen to be the Vice President of the Catholic Student Association on campus/peer minister (they are equivalent titles, actually)! This is my first time being in a leadership position at OSU, so I’m excited all around! I’ll get to help plan fun events at St. John’s and help everything run smoothly. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do this year, I’m sure it’ll be great!

Well, I've had lots of great news so far, so obviously something had to have gone wrong in the midst of this…it wouldn't be my life if it didn't happen that way!! I came home on Thursday night and I reached into the refrigerator to get my Brita pitcher and pour a glass of water. The first thing I noticed was that the contents of my refrigerator were all very un-refrigerated…I figured that maybe I didn’t shut the door completely and that it just needed to be closed up overnight, so I turned the temperature control all the way up and went to bed. I did not sleep well at all because the possibility of the refrigerator going out was weighing heavily on my mind. I thought I’d sleep in that morning, but I finally had to get up and check it to see if it worked like how I hoped it would, so I could quit worrying already! Yeah, no such luck…I opened the freezer and was VERY disappointed to see that my meat was on the verge of thawing and that contents of the refrigerator itself were even worse off than they were the night before. Awesome. Of course, my first instinct was to freak out and find a home in a neighbor’s freezer for my almost-thawed meat. After coming to terms with the fact that my refrigerator had probably died, I called my dad and sought his advice on what to do next. He suggested that I call the trailer dealership and go from there. The general consensus after talking to the nice man at the dealership and my neighbors was that my refrigerator was defunct and that finding an actual RV replacement refrigerator would be WAAAY more expensive than just buying a regular refrigerator and going from there. (Think somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$1500 for a refrigerator not much bigger than a mini-fridge) That was also the point when my mom and I realized that mine was almost ten years old and was probably knocking on death’s door as it was. Thankfully, I hadn’t gone grocery shopping yet so I lost a minimal amount of groceries, but I was still sad to have to throw away so much food.

Yesterday, mom and dad came up and we got everything figured out! I ended up with a new compact refrigerator with comparable space to my old one, a deep freezer to put outside in a storage container (we already planned on getting that, anyway), and I’ll also get a new shelving unit to put above my new refrigerator! All of these things together were much less expensive than the RV replacement unit would have been, and could possibly be much more energy efficient! Even better, I get MUCH more freezer space, which I am really looking forward to, AND I get the extra storage space from the new shelves, which my dad will be building in the near future! In case I haven’t mentioned this lately, my parents are extremely awesome!!!!! For everyone keeping track at home, this is the fourth housing catastrophe I’ve had since moving here. I’m really starting to understand what home ownership must be like, and I now understand why adults are often stressed/sleep-deprived—worrying about stuff can really make a person feel uneasy! I suppose it’s good to know this before I am really out on my own! But now, I’m super excited to have a working refrigerator and freezer!!

A last couple of notes…

I found out on Friday that I passed my OSAT with flying colors and will be free to student teach after finishing this semester and turning in another Portfolio submission! One less thing to worry about!

I can’t believe that school starts again tomorrow. It’s kind of a let-down, if we’re being honest, because I really didn't get much of a summer. Oh well, I suppose it’s a precursor of my future as an adult! Thinking about this, I am very happy that I had the foresight to buy my school supplies a month ago, before chaos descended upon Stillwater and everything became ridiculously picked over! I easily found everything I needed, exactly how I wanted it, without the crowds! I still haven’t put in my order for my rental books, but that shouldn't be an issue yet! (Chegg has quick shipping, and I’m not about to shell out money on books that I don’t need!) Also, I received another scholarship for this semester, so I can finally say that I made it through my undergraduate program without having to incur ANY debt!!! Not many people are this fortunate, so I count myself extra blessed! It also takes quite a bit of the sting out of probably having to take out a loan for my Master’s! (I’m still being optimistic by hoping that I will find a good way to pay for that, too, without being indebted forever!)

Well, that’s about all I have to report right now, so I’ll end it here! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll be back soon to tell you all about my new classes! I’m being extra optimistic right now because I’m afraid that my optimism will end after classes begin, but maybe not! :)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Senior Year Bucket List!!!

I can’t believe it, but I’m starting my senior year of college! Where, oh where has the time gone? It seems like I was just a bright-eyed freshman who was excited to begin the journey of life after high school! I have been blessed with a relatively wonderful college experience, minus the fact that I am always taking impossible challenging math classes! I know that this year will be full of all kinds of great things, and I cannot wait for it to begin!!!

I (obviously) love lists, so I've decided to make a list of fun things that I want to do with my friends during my senior year! I really hope that I can make them happen, and it’ll be fun to see what other fun things I can add to it in May!

Visit the Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague on Pilgrimage Sunday: Fun fact, I have a devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague! It started back in November of last year, when one of my friends introduced me to it. Basically, my devotion consists of praying a novena prayer for the Infant’s intercession and ever since I have begun praying it consistently, lots of wonderful things have happened, and my prayers have all been answered in the best way possible! Every month, the shrine hosts a special Mass during the time of the month when the novena prayers are prayed. Of course, the shrine is located in Prague, OK, which is also where my Aunt Genevieve and Uncle Joe live, so it would be a two-fold trip! I could go on and on about this devotion, but I’ll just leave the link to the shrine website, where you can read all about the beginning of this devotion back in Prague, Czechoslovakia! (Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague Website)

Tie-Dye T-Shirts: Why yes, I want to tie-dye t-shirts! Surprisingly, I have NEVER tie-dyed and I have had an insatiable urge to do so since the middle of the spring semester! Maybe it seems bizarre for a twenty-one-year-old to tie-dye, but I don’t care! :) I’m excited, and I think that I've found a few friends who will want to join me in the fun! Also, they have tie-dyed before, so I won’t be going into it totally blind! On a related note, I've learned how to bleach-dye shirts, and have already made two…I might be kind of obsessed :) But, I’m still excited to learn this method of dying shirts…I can’t wait!

Go Skeet Shooting: This could be the most random thing on my list, because I've never really had any sudden urge to go skeet shooting, but I think that it could be fun, especially if I get a group of people to join me! I’m not entirely sure where I will go to do this, but I’m hoping that it’ll fall into place! An acceptable alternative to this plan is to visit a shooting range in case it’s too difficult/pricey to make this dream happen right now! Either way, I’m sure that it’ll be great, or at least, I hope it is!

Host Wine & Cheese Night: So, I have done this one already, but I really want to do it again! It was a blast last time, and I’m sure that it’ll be just as great the next time! Before I do that, I need to find some fancy-ish new recipes to try that I can easily make for, say, fifteen to twenty people! Also, I’d like to take a few of my wine-tasting classes so that I can maybe have an idea of good wine pairings for the menu! Maybe this time if I have people come over, it won’t be snowy/icy like it was last time, so that we can have double the seating space and use both inside AND outside! (I’m going to have to try to figure this out for some time relatively soon so it isn't terribly cold out!) I’d love any fun recipe suggestions, also!

Visit St. Gregory’s Abbey: I have no real reason that I want to visit the abbey in Shawnee, besides the fact that I've never been, and it sounds like it’d be a fun day trip! Maybe I could squeeze that into my trip to Prague? We’ll see!

Participate in a Campus 5K/Actually Work Out: I realize how lame this might sound, but I HAVE to start actually working out! I’m not going to be twenty-one with a decent metabolism forever and if I stop now, I’ll never want to start again! They always have tons of cool 5K events on campus, including a Midnight Glow Run that I’d really like to participate in, so we’ll see! Rebecca has told me that she would love to have someone to go to the Colvin with, so I’m really hoping that we can make time to make this happen! Now is the time!!!

Learn How to Make Gluhwein: My good friend Andrea (from church, of course) is from Italy, and he always is making all kinds of fun, authentic Italian/European treats for us. In the past, he has made some AMAZING pasta dishes, among other things, but one of my favorites was gluhwein! Gluhwein, in case you didn't know, is a warm beverage that is made from red wine and you cook it with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and oranges, and you finish it off by burning the alcohol off! Technically, you don’t have to burn the alcohol off, but since there were a couple of us who were underage, he did that so that everyone could enjoy it. He has promised me that he’ll teach me to make it, so here’s hoping that we can make that happen!

Here’s to a great year, and lots of fun times! I’d love to hear any other fun ideas you can throw my way! I’m up to the challenge!!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summertime Craziness!

Yikes! I realize in my past few posts that I've hinted at impending doom within my life…while my life has been crazy, now that I think about it, I was probably being a tad bit irrational. I’ll quit leaving everyone in suspense (???) and get on with the story!

I’d venture to say that the vast majority of the craziness of my life has revolved around my summer class. Whatever I said about it last time, forget it. This class was just as difficult as my infamous Modern Algebra class from this past semester! I spent almost every day posted up in my professor’s office trying to understand our homework, and I almost lost my sanity in the process. After one particularly trying weekend, I ended up simultaneously failing a homework assignment AND a test. (Not my finest moment, I know.) After lots of crying, mini panic attacks about my future, frantic prayers, and an email to my professor, I came to terms with it and proceeded to work even harder for the last section of the class. I spent even MORE time on homework (and in my professor’s office), and I still didn't feel that confident about the final test, which wasn't comprehensive! By some miracle and LOTS of divine intercession from pretty much all of my friends and family, I somehow made a high B on the final and brought my course grade up to a solid B from what was a very low C!!!!!! Hallelujah!!!! When my professor emailed me about this on Tuesday, I almost shrieked from joy/shock! I could not and still cannot believe it, but it’s officially in the OSU grade database, so it’s for real!!! Wow!!! Praise God!!!!

At least that part of the story turned out well! There were plenty of other trying things that happened…

After the Fourth of July weekend, we received the unwelcome news that my cousin Keith had an inoperable brain mass and by Wednesday of that week, he passed away. He was only forty years old, so it seemed like quite the untimely death. Needless to say, it was not a good week for my family.

That weekend was looking up for me because I was able to attend a Matt Maher concert at Frontier City that weekend! It was the second concert that I've ever attended, and it was probably my favorite! Matt Maher sounded just as good live as he does on every recording I've ever heard of him, and I even got an awesome t-shirt from concert! I ended up seeing quite a few of my friends at the concert, so that was an awesome highlight, not to mention the fact that Isaac accompanied me, and we had tons of fun on the rides before and after the concert! I had a blast, and the whole night was definitely on my short list of the highlights of this summer! As a side note, after some discussion, Isaac and I have decided to hold off on “officially dating” one another for a while because we both have a few things we need to work out that would be better to do if we aren't boyfriend/girlfriend. That’s not to say that we aren't still good friends, because we still are, we’re just not “official”, just FYI. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed by this development, but I’m confident that good things will be coming out of this time of my life, regardless of the outcome! (Yes, it was after this weekend that I had the epic fall-out in my class…there’s that, and life obviously goes on and gets better, hence me passing my class!)

At the end of that week, most of my trailer electrical system wasn't functioning properly, which I almost thought was caused from a faulty converter (a part that could cost upwards of $500 and a week or so to order it and have it installed), but turned out to be that I needed a new battery, which was MUCH less expensive and easier to acquire/install! Thank goodness for simple solutions!! It was still a stressful day, but all’s well that ends well, I suppose! Oh, the joys of being a home (or trailer) owner!

Thankfully, everything started looking up from there once I took my second standardized teaching test, the OSAT, which was to show proficiency in my subject area. While looking at the online study guide, I was slightly nervous, but it turned out to be one of the easiest math tests that I have taken in the past two years! I get my results next weekend, so hopefully my hunch is correct and I don’t have to worry about retaking this test so that I can move on with my life and get ready for student teaching! (I can’t be placed for student teaching until I pass, hence my urgency!) I had to drive all the way down to Norman to take my test, which was a bummer when I was expecting to be able to take it in Stillwater like I did for my OGET, but it ended up being a pretty interesting day! After the test, I decided that I wanted to attend Mass down in Norman, so I had an hour or so to kill between my test and Mass, and I had no idea where to go in between! More so, I was considering meeting up with friends after Mass, and had no idea how I’d get there being that I’m not so familiar with the area, so I proceeded to use all of my inner navigation sense to find a Walmart, Target, or even a Best Buy so that I could buy a GPS…why yes, I’m one of a handful of twenty-one-year-olds who does not have a smartphone, and at the time I had no GPS either, so I basically relied on printing off Google maps and hoping for the best! After a while of realizing that Norman has a slightly complex system of one-way streets and a short time of feeling pretty lost, I ended up finding a Walmart off the interstate, where I successfully found my GPS! Maybe there’s more fun in accidentally happening to find specific places, but considering that I've been lost and in stressful situations more times than I care to count, I’m willing to let technology work in my favor!

Work was also interesting through the whole stream of craziness. I’m thankful that they understood whenever I needed to come in later on certain days because of office hours for class. Currently, I only work on Saturdays until Labor Day weekend, when I will be done working here for good, whether that means until next summer or forever, I'm not sure yet! I've also been occupied by a side job for one of Fr. Stuart’s friends who needed someone to keep an eye on her pets. Most people know that I’m not a huge animal person, but I really enjoyed getting to take care of her dogs and cats! I've become slightly more comfortable around animals, so that’s probably a good thing!

The highlight of my past week was that I was able to spend quite a bit of time at home, thanks to the fact that my old boss from NOC invited me to come back and assist her with a one-week intensive study program for students wishing to attempt to test out of remedial math classes. It turned out that there was only one student who signed up, but we still had a blast! I loved getting able to be back in the classroom and gain some valuable observation experience, not to mention the fact that my boss is an amazing math professor! After this week, I was presented with a few opportunities for my future (both near and distant) that could turn out to be VERY fruitful, but I’ll just wait and see how everything turns out! More than that, I have to keep reminding myself to stay in the present and not try to stress myself out over the future! Nevertheless, I’m really excited to see where life takes me over the coming year or two! :)

Let’s see, what else have I been up to? During my time at home this week, I was able to steal away some time and go get pedicures with my mom! We've wanted to go all summer, but things just haven’t worked out the way we thought it would. It was a great bit of much-needed pampering and stress relief that I've desperately needed after my whirlwind summer! I also got a haircut! Fun fact: I think that I’m going to start growing my hair out to donate it to Locks of Love! It’s something that I've thought about for a while, and I think now is the time to do it! I’m super excited to be able to do something big for cancer patients!

Other random fun stuff, Fr. Stuart has always loved the TV show Joan of Arcadia and has had the DVD set of the series (all two seasons of it) in the lounge at St. John’s for any of us to watch. I didn't really have time during the school year to devote time to watching a show, but I decided to make time this summer! Before I started watching it, the last time I was attached to a show was when The Office was still on the air, and I just haven’t been able to get into a TV show ever since, not for lack of effort though! All of my friends were obsessed with shows like White Collar, Psych, How I Met Your Mother, and other shows of the like. I tried to get into them, but honestly, I just couldn't. Not the case for Joan of Arcadia! I've been told that it ends abruptly and in the middle of a big cliffhanger because it was canceled, so I’m trying to prepare myself for the inevitable end! I’m considering getting into Downton Abbey, but I’m not entirely sure that I’ll have time to watch it between all of my other activities that I intend to do this semester, and be caught up in time for the new season in January. (I think that’s when it starts again…that tells you just how much I keep up with things!)

My current excitement revolves around the fact that my dear friend Heather, the missionary, stayed with me last night and will be staying again tonight! She’s on her way to her new campus in Iowa, where I’m confident that she’ll be doing BIG things :) We had great times staying up late and talking about any and everything exciting that has been going on in our lives! We had wonderful chats about God, vocations, boys, friends, (but not boyfriends!) and other fun things…I loved it so much, and I’m really thankful that God brought her into my life when He did last year! She has turned into one of my best friends, and for that, I am eternally grateful! On a related note, I should be meeting the new missionaries for our campus tonight, including my new mentor, Sarah! I've heard nothing but great things about her from Heather, so I’m excited to make a new friend today!

I’m getting really excited about all that awaits me this semester! Here’s hoping it’s a great one!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Conversations I Wish I Could Have

The other night, some of my friends and I had an interesting conversation about who we would want to meet if we could. It was quite thought-provoking, really. In our conversation, we decided that everyone we said had to be someone who wasn't related to us, but for a while I could only think of relatives who I’d want to meet! So, I came up with two lists of ten people that I would want to talk to, if I could. The first list is of deceased loved ones who I would love to talk with. So, here goes:

1. Michelle: Yes, my big sister would definitely be at the top of my list. I think about her very often and wonder how different my life might be if she were still here. I’d love to hear her perspective on everything—life, death, and in between. I would love to have a sisterly chat with her just like those that I have with Gina and Emily, and know just what she thinks of our family now, especially Gina and Emily’s boys. I’d just love to get to know my big sister.

2. Grandpa Hladik: I've always felt like I had a soul connection with Grandpa Hladik. He was a WWII Veteran who loved to pray the Rosary, and being that WWII is my favorite historical period and I love to make/pray rosaries, so I think it’s fairly obvious why I feel so connected with him. I’d love to hear his war stories and mostly just soak in his wisdom he gained through his life. I’d also love to talk about God, and, as weird as it might sound, pray with him.

3. Grandma Hajek: Grandma Hajek was Mimi’s mother, and she was my mom’s favorite person in the whole world. I've been told that I have her eye color, so I would want to admire her eyes from the outside in. She was also very opinionated, so I’d love to hear what she had to say about almost anything. I’d love to hear her talk about what Mimi was like as a child, or even what my mom was like in her younger years.

4. Grandpa Rudy: Grandpa Rudy died when I was eleven, so I actually did know him, although for most of my life, he was in poor health, and I was never completely sure what to talk to him about. Now, I’d want to hear his philosophies on life and just listen to him talk about his life. I’d want to ask him about what it was like when he and Mimi dated and why he wanted to marry her. I’d love to know his childhood stories and all about my mom, aunts, and Uncle Larry when they were younger. I’d really just like to get to know everything about Grandpa Rudy!

5. Grandma Hladik: Grandma Hladik also died when I was eleven, so I also knew her fairly well. Like Grandpa Rudy, for the better part of my life, Grandma wasn't in the best health. I’d love to talk to Grandma about when she married Grandpa Hladik, just to hear her perspective on the story I've heard for my entire life. (Grandpa was stationed in Massachusetts before leaving for the war, and he wanted Grandma to come visit him…Grandma told him that the only way she’d come is if they were married, so Grandpa found a Catholic church and an Army buddy/his wife for witnesses, and they were married!) I’d like to hear about what it was like raising seven children, and I’d love to hear her stories about my dad when he was younger, and just learn more about her life!

6. Grandpa Hajek: Grandpa Hajek was Mimi’s father, and he has, what I consider to be, one of the most fascinating stories of all my ancestors. You see, he was born out of wedlock in Vienna, Austria, and his mother left him with relatives when he was a child so that she could immigrate to the United States. When she saved enough money, she’d send for him. The time he spent waiting was terrible, as he was treated poorly for being born out of wedlock, and was often forced to steal so that he could have food to eat. At sixteen, he could finally join his mother in the US and live the American dream. He eventually met Grandma Hajek, got married, had a large family, and ended up owning a service station in Hennessey. Mimi always told me that he would tell her that he never knew what love was until he met Grandma Hajek and had children. I’d like to hear his perspective on all of these stories. I’d love to hear about his impressions of the US and really just know about who he was when he was here.

7. Great-Grandpa Hladik: Great-Grandpa Hladik was my Grandpa Hladik's dad. I’m not entirely certain about where he stands in my family immigration history, but I believe his parents were among my ancestors who emigrated from Czechoslovakia. My dad told me a story about how his family was so poor that they were forced to grind down a type of grain that was similar to milo just so that they could have flour to make bread. Once his mother made the bread, it looked just like any other loaf of bread, but apparently, it tasted TERRIBLE! I would be interested to learn about the resourcefulness he learned have, and what it was like to settle in Oklahoma.

8. Mr. Blakley: Mr. Blakley was a wonderful man whose life was cut short by most people’s standards. He was my high school science teacher, a fellow St. Joseph-ite, a neighbor, and a dear family friend. What I’d really like to talk to him about is teaching. He was very insightful about the ways of students and about knowing how to talk about the really important things. I’d love to get any and all advice he could give me about teaching, because I know that he’d tell me more than just the horror stories that people always tell pre-service teachers to scare them away for fear of seeming incompetent in comparison. He was always good at encouraging new teachers and giving good, practical advice about how to care for students, especially those who really needed some TLC.

9. Fr. Quant: Father Quant just passed away last year, and I still feel the sting of his death. He was a dear friend of mine, and probably one of my best spiritual advisers. He taught me lots about the Catholic faith and was the first person who taught me how to find joy in growing in my faith. I’d just like to talk to him about life and get his opinion on everything happening in my life right now, especially in a couple situations. I would like that more than anything.

10. My unborn sibling who was miscarried: Not many people know this, but my mom had a miscarriage between Gina and Emily. I’d love to meet this other sibling of mine, who God called back before we could ever know him or her. Perhaps this child was the brother I never had, I’m not sure. I’d just love to know and embrace them with all of my sisterly affection. That would also be perfect.

Wow, this is really getting sad/deep, so I’ll move on to my second list, which consists of non-related people I’d love to meet. The main twist on this list is that not all of them are deceased! They’re just famous people I’d love to have a conversation with. This was more along the lines of my conversation with my friends that sparked this post initially! Oh, by the way, we made the initial stipulation that people like Jesus or Mary were givens, so we couldn't include them on our list! So, here goes!

1. Lucille Ball: I've always loved Lucille Ball’s work in “I Love Lucy”. That is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and I’d just be interested to know the brains behind it. Lucille had quite the interesting life and I’d like to know just what it was like to be one of the pioneers of the TV industry and an American icon!

2. John Krasinski: Honestly, I really don’t care about modern-day celebrities because I already think that they have too much attention lavished upon them. I don’t think that we should put celebrities on such a pedestal, because they’re really just people like the rest of us, and I’m sure that many of them would like to be treated like that. (I’ll spare you the rest of my soapbox, but that is just the tip of the iceberg!) Okay, with that being said, I have a few exceptions—John Krasinski is one of them! :) For those of you who don’t know/remember, he is the guy who famously played Jim Halpert on my favorite show, “The Office”. He is my one and only celebrity crush, and I think that he is quite dreamy! I also think that he probably has a great, somewhat snarky sense of humor, which I would love! I’d also just love to hear his stories about filming the show and all kinds of behind-the-scenes stories about other characters! I’d love that so much!

3. St. Catherine of Siena: Did you really think that I could make it through the list without any saints/Catholic figures? Nope! St. Catherine was my confirmation saint, and I love what little I know about her life. You see, she was highly influential in bringing the head of the Catholic Church back to Rome, and she used her gift of faith to bring about good changes in the Church. I just bought her autobiography and I cannot wait to learn even more about her life!

4. Pope Francis: Maybe this is another cop-out answer, but yes, I would LOVE to meet the Pope! I’d love to just sit and soak in his joy/spirituality/humility. I’d love to get his advice on life, and basically just have a long life chat with him! I’d love to hear his stories from his younger years, especially about how he has grown in his faith throughout his life. I’d love to hear what his initial reaction was to being chosen for the papacy, and just what he thinks needs to be done to better the Church as a whole today.
Pope Francis...with a lamb! I love this so much :)
5. Fr. Stanley Rother: For those of you who have never heard of Fr. Rother, he was a priest from Okarche who grew up as a simple farm boy and never showed any real signs of wanting to be a priest until he was an adult. He struggled all throughout seminary, and I’m not sure that many people actually thought that he would ever make it to his ordination, and perhaps questioned his abilities thereafter. One of his first parish assignments was at a place in southern Oklahoma, where he was moved mostly for the fact that they needed a priest who was handy with carpentry. This was by no means a compliment to him. However, he was later asked to travel to a mission in Guatemala in a village called Santiago Atitlán. During his tenure at the mission, he brought about a profound change in the people’s faith, while working to help them amid the oppression of their government. At some point, Fr. Rother was brought back to Oklahoma out of fear for his safety. He hated to be separated from the people he had come to love, and famously told the Archbishop of the OKC Archdiocese that "the shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger." Thus, he returned to Guatemala even though the guerrilla army threatened his life. Shortly after his return, he was killed in the dark of night, and is now on the road to sainthood, as a martyr. I’d love to listen to him talk about all that he experienced in Guatemala, both good and bad.
This has always been my favorite picture of Fr. Rother!
6. Pat Monahan: Okay, this is kind of a cop-out. Pat Monahan is the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Train. I’d mostly like to meet him just so that I could have a private concert and listen to him sing all of my favorite songs! I’d also like to hear the stories behind the songs that he wrote! But I’d mostly like to hear him sing :) 

7. Isaac Slade: This follows from the previous one…Isaac Slade is the lead singer of The Fray, and I just want to listen to him sing their songs and play the piano (He’s a gifted pianist, also!). Yes, that’s pretty much what I would want if I met him. I’m in heaven already!!!

8. Anne Frank: I am particularly fascinated with WWII and the Holocaust. I always have been for some reason, (See my particular love for Grandpa Hladik…) and when I was a third-grader, my mom bought me a book about Anne Frank’s life. I found it delightfully tragic, if that makes sense. I was in awe of the bravery of her and her family as they exiled themselves to a back room of a Dutch lady named Miep Gies while living amid the persecution of Nazi Europe. On the other hand, it was heart-breaking and eye-opening to learn of all the tragedies she incurred at such a young age. Learning about the Holocaust was probably the best thing I could have learned about when I was ten. Although I've read her diary and multiple books about her life, I'd love to just talk to Anne and learn from her young wisdom.

9. St. Thérèse of Liseux: I just finished reading her autobiography, and, let me tell you, it was absolutely fantastic. She always strived to live in a state of holiness and perfection. She faced many health issues from a young age, but lived with the perpetual desire to join the convent where her sisters resided. When she was fifteen, she began striving earnestly to join, even if the rule was that she had to wait a few more years. The priests and leaders of the convent told her that she was far too young, but told her that if she gained the permission of the pope that they would consider it. On a pilgrimage to Rome, she asked the Pope for his permission, and that began her entry into the Carmelite order. She was often very sickly, but in the last few years of her life, it was requested by her sister, who was mother superior of the Carmelites at the time, that she would write her life story. St. Thérèse had excellent insights into suffering and holiness overall, which is much of what I’d like to discuss with her. Also, she just went up and talked to the pope about being a nun, even though she was told not to…anyone who does that is pretty awesome, in my books!

10. Sr. Lucia of Fatima: If you know anything about me, it’s good to know that I have a devotion to the Marian apparition in Fatima, Portugal in May 1917. I feel that I have a deep connection with it, and would love nothing more than to have a conversation with Lucia, one of the three children chosen to receive the life-changing message from Mary. I’d love to know what it was like living in the world after having a profound encounter with the Mother of Jesus.

So, there it is. Twenty people I’d like to meet and talk with, dead or alive. I encourage you to think about this, and even formulate a list like this of your own. Even more, I encourage you to learn all that you can about your family members, living or deceased. As for people who aren't family, I suggest reading about them and learning from their lives! Lots of good things to ponder about!