Friday, December 31, 2010

A Resolution

I looked at my first post of 2010 to see how many resolutions I actually stuck with and/or fulfilled. When I created that list, I purposefully added sort of silly and/or unattainable ones, like "Become a prolific writer" and "Master the Spanish language." Not that speaking Spanish is strictly out of reach, but it will be for awhile.

I did actually fulfill a few resolutions, like "Go to NPH El Salvador this summer", "Be able to chew food normally again" (*I wrote this right after my wisdom teeth were removed), and "Read more books."

I think the one that I am happiest to have worked on the most throughout 2010 was to simply "Pray." I know that at times, I neglected prayer. There were also many times when I wholeheartedly and fully embraced it. This past year, I have picked up the rosary more often. I've almost learned to pray it without the handy little how-to-pray-the-rosary sheet. Though I am easily distracted during Mass, I made more of an effort to be aware of what was happening, to be open to what the Holy Spirit had in store for me.

I didn't and still don't want my conversations with God to be just about fulfilling an obligation or when I want something to happen. This is probably one of the reasons why I made trying to pray more often (& more deeply) a resolution. In 2010, there were many events and people who unknowingly and knowingly conspired to help me with my resolution, and for them I am immeasurably thankful. I am thankful of what has happened in the past year: good, bad, happy, sad, etc.

Thanksgiving is the national holiday of giving thanks and of elementary school plays about pilgrims and Indians (though, the only reason the Wampanoag helped the pilgrims at Plymouth was to gain an ally and upper hand over their rivals, the Narragansett...just fyi). I digress.

I give thanks on Thanksgiving, but I find giving thanks on New Years Eve more spiritual. I get more out of it because to me, this day is a time for reflection, a time to literally think about the past year because tomorrow a brand new slate appears.

I had never gone to Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God before in my life. I'm being honest when I say that the only reason I went tonight was because I hadn't scheduled any altar servers other than myself. I didn't want to crash someone's plans, and I knew I didn't have any. But I know that, being true to my nature, even if I lacked plans, I still would not have gone to Mass tonight.

I am glad that I put my name down in the box when I made the schedule a few months ago. Tonight at Mass, I was able to pray and reflect upon 2010. It was a wonderful way to end the year, a fitting cap to my most favorite resolution.

See you next year. Oh, and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas, from my favorite little candlelit village church to you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crazy

I wouldn't say that my Christmas season has been incredibly busy or filled with too many things to do and not enough time to do them.

I will, however, say that there have been days of complete craziness and funniness. Like the past two days. There must have been something in the air.

Two nights ago April and I made Kayla cry/whine over something silly. Kayla turned to Mom and said, "I wish I was the only child." So naturally a conversation ensued about being an only child as opposed to being one piece of a limited edition set. This of course happened while we watched the rest of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee on HBO.

Kayla wanted (wants) to be an only child because then no one would mess with her and be mean. Then in my best deadpan manner, I said, "Well I wouldn't want to be an only child because then I would have to do all of the chores." Throughout Kayla's entire monologue, April and I kept trying to not laugh whenever she looked up because seeing our laughter only made Kayla angrier (over nothing I might add!). When I thought my Mom was going to literally kick me off the couch because I kept laughing, I apparently made a terribly funny face. April and I started crying we were laughing so hard. Kayla had no idea what was going on, so she thought we were laughing at her and proceeded to cry even more. My poor mother just wanted to sit on the couch and watch tv, but she got the whole circus when my sisters and I came in.

Yesterday started with a few spirited games of Candyland and Spongebob matching. In both pictures you can see evidence of my winning prowess. I'm the yellow player and the tallest stack of cards is mine. In case you didn't know, getting the Princess Frostine card in Candyland is the quickest way to make my sister mad. It's also a lifesaver if you get a crummy character card that sends you back to the start/beginning of the game. And yes, the phrase "winning prowess" can be applied to children's games. Cause I'm the bomb!





We play a few games each day, but for some reason they were more heated and vicious with each win yesterday. Kayla got mad at me because I picked up the match that she failed to on her first try. This pattern continued, with outbursts of "STOP STEALING MY MATCHES! THAT ONE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MINE." We played all of these games while listening to Arabic rap and Lady Gaga.

Our big chore of the day was to take the recycling that had been piling up for weeks in the garage. I knew that not all of the recycling would fit...my car isn't big enough to fit all the bins and three people, so we had to leave the cardboard behind for another day. No one likes to take the recycling alone, and we couldn't leave Kayla behind to make more room so we just piled it all in.



The drive to the center was fun. Emptying all of the recyclables into their respective containers at the center was sort of fun. It was more funny than fun, except for Abraham Lincoln's twin watching us the whole time to make sure we put things where they're supposed to go.

Once we were back home, each of us took a tub or two to carry back into the garage. Kayla tried getting into the garage first, but she tripped over the lip of the doorway and sort of kicked the door back onto her head. I still don't know how it happened, but I knew she hit herself with the door when she dropped her tub and grabbed her head. April and I just looked at each other, doubled over with laughter.

Luckily, Kayla didn't get mad at us. She actually laughed with us.

Though this season is typecast as being stressful and whatnot even though it should be the exact opposite, I have been mostly stress free. I thank God for that because it helps me prepare better for the birth of Christ. And you have to be thankful for those crazy fun days when you can't account for anything. I'm relatively sure God has a sense of humor. My sisters and I are here, aren't we?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Amazing Charlie Dog

Did you know that dogs can fly? At least, Charlie can. I caught him the other day practicing in his sleep...
 

I don't understand how he twists and contorts himself. Anything to get a good nap in, right? I mean, he wedged himself right next to the couch.

Oh and Charlie dog is excellent at multi-tasking. He can scratch his ear and yawn at the same time. Who knew?


Like his big brother Rocky in the background, Charlie likes to let loose every now and then. Before I was able to grab the camera, Rocky was laying in the same way as Charlie, but he decided to ruin my fun.


Such a hard life my boys live.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Promises

Ah, to be five again. The only worries my little sister seems to have are what outfits she will go through in a day, winning or losing a game of Candyland, and practicing her letters, words, and pronunciation.

Now that both of my sisters are officially on break, we'll be spending A LOT of quality time together. Haha! This week both of them went to school a grand total of one and a half days due to snow and icy road conditions. That was it! I can't complain about all of the city and county schools being off because I've been on break since December 7th.

So naturally, since we've already spent more time than usual with each other, we've already started pushing each others buttons. One thing that each of us does on a regular basis, whether on purpose or by pure accident, is starting arguments and/or fights with one another. What group of siblings doesn't?

Kayla likes to instigate the "which pet belongs to which person" argument. Now, I know that I could resist the bait and be the bigger person, but sometimes you just can't pass up an opportunity to start your own mischief. It goes like this. She'll waltz in to find me playing with one of the animals. She will then say, "Tink Tink is your cat" or "Charlie is my dog" or "Squeak is Mom's cat." In reality, they are everybody's pet, but there are a few of us who take more responsibility than others with the care of the animals.

Like, when the cats leave hairballs, I get to clean the mess up. Does Kayla? No. Yeah I know that she's five (almost six!), but if she claims one individual animal as hers, then I always counter with, "Well, then next time Tink has a hairball, you can clean it up. If she's your animal, then you have to take care of her and do everything." Kayla like clockwork responds, "Well, Tink is my cat and I play with her and love her while you clean up her messes and stuff."

Funny stuff. Anyway, this little diatribe always leads to the promise that she made me a very long time ago, which was that she would stop picking up Tink. I didn't like the way Kayla would pick the cat up...I always envision Tink's little life being squeezed out of her. I don't even remember how I got Kayla to make and keep that promise, but she has ever since then.

One day this week, our inevitable animal argument led to my favorite funny topic of conversation, picking up and holding the cat. With an exasperated look on her face accompanied by a huff, Kayla said, "I'm tired of keeping this promise. It's hard, and I don't want to."

After some deliberation, we renegotiated the terms of our agreement. All is well. Tink doesn't get the life squished out of her.

Though our situation was resolved, I kept thinking about what Kayla said. I wonder how many times that I have gone to God saying, "I'm tired of keeping this promise. It's hard, and I don't want to." Some promises are effortless to keep, others not so much. I find myself struggling all the time to keep promises that I made with God.

When I run out of things to say and get stuck, all I can say is, Father have mercy on me, a sinner. At times, I feel that I have nothing left to offer but my defeat courtesy of temptation, and my sincere sorrow.

Lucky for me and for all of us, though we may break our promises, God doesn't. I am thankful for that, though I know that I probably will never understand how He does it. Struggling to uphold our ends of the deal is a life-long lesson.

How can a five year old provide such bunny-trailing wisdom? Ah, to be five again.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waitlist Notification!

This email, my friends, is one of the most beautiful things I've ever received.

Waitlist Notification for 28850

Dear Ashley ,
        A seat is now available in 28850 ANTH 432 001 Anthropology Warfare/Violence  - a course for which you are currently waitlisted.   If you would like to register for this section, please go to MyUTK and add the section as soon as possible.  You have until 14-DEC-2010 09:43 PM.  Your opportunity to add will expire at that time.
If you have ever put yourself on a waitlist for a class that you really wanted and checked your email and online class scheduler like 100 million times a day, then you know how awesome it feels to find out that you did in fact get into the class! Dear God it is a beautiful thing.

I literally almost jumped off my bed out of sheer excitement.

Why in the world would I be so excited about an anthropology class about warfare and violence? I don't really know the answer. What I do know is that I enjoy cultural anthropology a lot. A lot, a lot.

Emails from the Registrar's Office are wonderful early Christmas presents.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Counting

Do you ever have one of those moments when you experience at least two or more emotions/feelings at the same time?

Well, that just happened to me. I was watching the news in silly hopes that the weather would lighten up tomorrow. And by lighten up, I mean warm up.

All of a sudden, I found myself incredibly sad that the low for tomorrow will be 10 degrees, with -10 to 0 wind chills. It's only supposed to get up to around 20.

Immediately, alongside the sadness and a yearning to give my extra unused blankets, jackets, and sweaters to the homeless people that I know are living on the streets, I realized that I had just tapped into a vast chasm of thankfulness.

I do have unused blankets. I do have "bottom of the dresser drawer" and "top of the closet" jackets and sweaters. There are people right now that are sleeping out in the cold and ice, though they may have tried to gain access to one of the local shelters.

I am inside my parents' house, with my warm jamjams and extra blankets on my bed, and two cats to keep me warm. The heat coming from the vent lies a foot away from me on the floor.

My heart aches because at this present moment, I can't do anything to help. But the first chance I get, I'm donating my unused coats and sweaters and blankets to the nearest shelter. I don't need them, but there are those who do.

I don't want the homeless, the cold, and the hungry to be left out this Advent, this Christmas season. So while I am being thankful for the countless blessings in my life, I also realize that there are people who have less than I do. I pray that they find shelter from the wind and cold, a jacket to keep them warm, food to fill their bellies. I pray that God will keep them safe tonight and every frigid night. I pray that God will guide me to do what He needs me to do for all my brothers and sisters.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5:3

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nerdfest #3

Has the jury reached a verdict?

Yes, your Honor. We have.

The verdict is that my final grades have been posted! I received 3 regular old A's and a B+. A select few humans have given me crap about the B+, but if they only knew how hard paleobiology was...

Anyway, I'm super thrilled with the results of this semester, given all of the difficulties! I've been enjoying my free time these past few days...meaning I have done absolutely nothing.

It snowed yesterday and last night/early morning, so it was nice and white out today. Here's a link to something rather hilarious, but be forewarned, it contains words that you wouldn't use in church! So don't go here if you're bothered by bad words. It is a fitting description of the weather conditions yesterday. Now, though, it is just windy and cold, with rays of sunshine here and there.

I broke out the long johns today, folks. Long johns are awesome. They are in the top tier of my most favorite things list. I had to wear them mostly because my jeans have huge holes in the knees, and I didn't want to lose my kneecaps to the below freezing (wind chill included!) temperature today.

Seriousness will follow, maybe even later tonight. Who knows. I have a bout of the lazies, and it has to run its course.

And Nerdfests are always fun, especially if legal jargon and long johns are included.

We find the defendant guilty of nerdyness in the first degree.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dog Days Are Over

I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE! I'M DONE!

Okay, whew. I got it out of my system. If you can't tell, I am finished with my fall semester. I can't believe it, really. It took forever.

No more fossils, taphonomy, Raup's parameters, pleiotropy, synapomorphy, Uniformitarianism, Cuvier's Law of Coordinated parts, ancient marine sediments, facies, WYSIWYG, histories of newspaper, radio, & internet, public relations, book publishing, guest speakers, transition metal chemistry, electrochemistry, entropy, enthalpy, Gibbs free energy, colligative properties, molality, calorimetry, redox reactions, acid-base reactions, titrations, buffers, Malinowski's hypothesis, the 3 population demographics of American Indians, Windigo psychosis, Takonga society, wacipi, artistic styles of Plains Indians, requirements of being a federally recognized tribe.

Yeah, all that and more! Everything in the list above comes from one of my 4 classes that I took this semester. Though it is a complaining block of type, I actually did enjoy my North American Indian anthropology class. A lot.

The Communication and Information class...eh, not as much as anthro, but it wasn't too bad.

Paleobiology and chemistry = no enjoyment whatsoever...unless the professor made a funny. Which did happen often in paleo.

Interestingly enough, I have discovered that a lot of what I learned in paleo & anthro applies to more things than I realized. I've been able to read a few National Geographic articles with tie-ins to both classes, and I understood more of what I read because of my education. Now that is cool.

However, this semester was incredibly challenging in all aspects: physically, mentally, emotionally. I am glad it is over. Now I have over a month off.

Yes, over ONE MONTH OFF!

Now, if you need help identifying moccasins or dresses as Cheyenne, Lakota, Crow, Blackfoot, Apache, Kiowa, or Ute, you just let me know. If you need help with fossil identification, I probably won't do you much good, but I still like looking at rocks and fossils!

The dog days are over! Happiness has hit me like a train on a track...

Might I suggest you check out Florence and The Machine's "Dog Days Are Over"...here. It's an excellent song.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Here's To You Paleo!

I'm sort of back after a week long hiatus. And no, I didn't fall off the face of the earth. I've just been trapped by notes, books, old exams, and awesomely made Excel charts because I have been studying for finals since Wednesday.

I took my paleobiology final today. For the most part, it was fairly easy. There was one question though, that I had absolutely no idea how to answer. You see, I missed the lecture on mass extinctions because I stayed up really late to go to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 premiere. It was totally worth it, and I would do it again. Besides, it was just a 5 point question.

The question asked something about the significance of the Signor-Lipps effect and interpreting mass extinctions. I remember reading about it from my quick glance at my friend's notes (she sent me her notes from the day I missed, and I did the same for her).
But I forgot to reread them last night. And there was nothing about the Signor-Lipps effect on the study guide, so naturally I forgot all about it because I hadn't been looking at the material covering it.

When I started to b.s. an answer, I couldn't even do that. So I decided to be honest and wrote, "I'll be honest with you, I missed the mass extinction lecture because I went to the Harry Potter premiere."

I hope I at least earn a good chuckle from the professor. It would be awesome to get some kind of credit, but even earning 1 point doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell.

I'm not done yet. More substance filled posts will come. All I have left is to study for chemistry and anthropology, knock out those finals which are tomorrow, and pack up for the Christmas/winter break.

Have a drink on me, for now. I am still underage you see. But the song by AC/DC is incredibly fitting for finishing off paleobiology. ONCE AND FOR ALL. I'm done with paleo! I'm done! I'm done!

Here's to you, paleo!