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 leave...in 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 Office...so 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!!!