Sunday, May 8, 2016

Impressions of My First Year of College

  I started college at Charleston Southern University this past fall, and I've most definitely enjoyed it. I'm happy to say, I think homeschooling prepared me really well for college. For pretty much all of my classes, I was told that the majority of learning was to take place outside of the classroom by studying the books for myself. As that was basically how I went through high school, I felt I was more easily able to get into the swing of things. At first, the hardest part was being around so many new people. I can get painfully shy around strangers and struggle with getting to know new people.
  "I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,'' said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.''
  "My fingers,'' said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault -- because I would not take the trouble of practising" (Pride and Prejudice).
  Like Elizabeth Bennet said, the best way to remedy that is by practice, however, the hardest part with practicing something you've neglected for so long is knowing where to begin. God was extremely gracious, as He always is, and my first day everyone was so friendly and I had a few people introduce themselves to me as soon as I sat down in class. Once you've met a few people, it seems like you're constantly getting introduced to someone new and before you know it, you're getting in some of that practice everyday. I've made a lot of new friends this year and have become so much more comfortable meeting new people!
  Even though it's usually hard for me to meet strangers, I love getting to know and study people. And before you ask, yes, I do like to eavesdrop on strangers' conversations. What's really fun is hearing just the odd bits here and there as you walk by. Some of the snippets Hayden and I would catch were so strange and funny that we ended up writing a few down such as, "I don't care if you sprinkle a baby, but don't call it baptism!" or "I LIVE on peanut butter." or "Oh, this is the part where they sacrifice the chicken." Not sure what was going on with that last one. Seriously though, there were so many times Hayden and I would tell each other some random thing we'd heard and end up giggling.

  Things I was unprepared for: 
  • The amount of studying necessary to make good grades
  • The majority of people, even at a Christian college, have no problem using foul language and are surprised when they realize you do not feel the same way
  • The amount of walking one gets by changing classrooms
  • The fact that I could have made a down payment on a small house with the amount of money the school bookstore expected me to pay for books (If you can, ALWAYS buy your books somewhere else!)
  Schoolwork? Yes, it's hard. But it's so rewarding! The harder the work, the more satisfaction you get from doing well and even if you don't do well, the challenge of conquering that subject keeps you going with more diligence than if it had come easily. Of course, if the the pleasure of vanquishing your schoolwork isn't enough to get you through, the Bible will. 
"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people" (Ephesians 6:7). "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23). 
  Another thing I found really encouraging was a book I had to read on Influenza this semester. The beginning started by introducing different men interested in medicine in the early 1900s and their struggle to find instruction on the subject (During that time in America, most medical schools did not require any previous college and not even one taught students how to use a microscope [The Great Influenza].). Reading about how hard it was for them really convicted me on taking my schooling for granted, especially as a biology major. Compared to these past scientists, the knowledge I have access to is incredible. As I was reading the book, I couldn't help but think how much more they could have accomplished with the same information being taught to me and compare their work ethic to my own. It made me feel like a real slacker. Glad I read it just before finals to give me that extra push I needed.
  So, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed my first year of college and I'm so glad God has made a way for me to attend CSU! Now, that isn't to say I'm not looking forward to summer break. Nope, I NEED this break! But I know half-way through I'm going to start missing school and I'm already really looking forward to taking anatomy and physiology this fall.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Biology Lab Paper

For my biology lab this semester I had to pick a plant to research and write its autobiography. I chose to do a dandelion. It was pretty enjoyable to write so I thought I'd post it here just for fun.

Taraxacum Officinale: My Life on the Hit List
From the beginning, I suspected life would be tough. As a young seed, I was blown far from my family. While about a fifth of my siblings landed close to our mother, my pappus took me far from home -not to mention I was forced from my mother with a good deal of spit from some rotten human child. Thankfully, I managed to land on a moist plot of soil. There, I was greeted by a large family by the name of Poaceae. To my delight, a caring young man would drench us with a refreshing burst of water from a snake-like tube and croon encouraging words each evening. With such welcoming treatment, I quickly brushed aside my initial feelings of trepidation and sprouted after only eight weeks. I became an adorable little rosette.
Not long after, I bloomed. I had been working hard to create as many florets as possible into a little golden package of sunshine and was quite pleased with the results. That evening, I waited in anticipation for my friendly gardener to notice my beaming face. I had seen him exclaim excitedly over some snapdragons not that long ago and couldn’t wait to hear similar praise. His reaction was like nothing I had imagined. I know not what I did, but I got the distinct sense that the man was peeved with my presence. This inkling was probably due to his incensed behavior which included swearing about some lost "best yard award" and multiple doses of poison with which he tried to drown me. My root had grown quite deep by then and I was able to cling onto life. 
            Now of course, all this did not have the best effect on my self-esteem. I turned away my face in shame each evening and curled up out of view the best I could when I saw him coming with the watering. Even this did not detour him, however, and he comforted himself with ruthlessly chopping the entire lawn down whenever I dared to lift my head. Yet, I still lived on. While his attempts to kill me had been unsuccessful, he had unintentionally killed some of my surrounding neighbors in the attacks. No, he was not pleased, but neither was I. I could handle his bullying myself, but I would not allow the Poaceae to suffer as well. It was time to strike back.
I was able to make contact with some fellow dandelions in a nearby ditch. Well, it actually turned out to be just one dandelion, but this chap had perfected a cloning process called apomixis. I figured if I could spread myself across the yard, the human would give up. I quickly learned all I could of the process and decided cloning was my best chance of winning the war. There was only one problem with this plan that I could see. I needed time without that man trying to kill me. If I could keep my head from being chopped off long enough, I would be able to produce cypsela that would turn into my exact copy. Unfortunately, the killer of all things Taraxacum never gave me enough time. I had to be patient. Surely one day he would have to leave for an extended period of time. I could only hope that time would not be during the winter.
Later that summer, I was given my chance. The human packed his belongings and drove away. I hoped this would give me enough time to propagate myself across the man's lawn and several of the neighboring yards. Once I had a head full of flowers (about 200 of them) it would only take me a few days to spread. I grew my cypsela as quickly as I could. When I was finished, a convenient breeze blew my experiment throughout the yard and onward. I had succeeded.
The problem with success is that without one with whom to share it (or to rub it into his face) there isn’t much of a point besides a bit of inner satisfaction. The young man never came back. Without him, I found myself (or rather myselves) scattered over more ground than I truly needed and without further purpose. No one admired my blooms, and apoximis seemed to take over my life. I produced flower after flower and grew in number.
This continued uneventfully for about two years (though I slept in the winter). Then one day my overgrown jungle was stumbled upon by an older woman with long, scraggly hair. She walked up to me and gently caressed my golden puff.
“Hello, aren’t you pretty?” she said with a smile. I, unaccustomed to such praise, shyly bowed my head in acknowledgment. Here was someone who actually cared!
“Yes, you’ll do just fine,” she nodded. To my horror, she pinched my head off and unceremoniously wiped my white, milky innards upon her hidden wart. I wish I could tell you she stopped there, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about cloning, it’s that it makes you susceptible to multiple abuses rather than “one and done.” This witch went around plucking each of my blossoms and even as far as digging up my roots and pulling out my leaves. The whole time she went on mumbling “vitamin A” and something about helping her liver. For me, this was it -I had had it. Though perhaps I shouldn’t have, I grew bitter. I made myself prickly and thick-skinned and decided I was done with trying to be happy.

Works Cited
“Biology of Dandelions” Nature North. Web.        
“Dandelions” University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Web.     
“Dandelion,Taraxacum officinale” Web.


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Friday, August 7, 2015

Just Add Watercolor book review

  Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch is a great little art book; I really liked it. Each painting has a nice-sized write up explaining how each piece was made and what about it is unique. At the end of each page it also includes a painting tip. 
  The reason I liked this book is because reading it made me feel like I was going on an art tour. I really enjoyed reading about each painting and getting to admire so many pieces. 

This piece by Loui Jover is one of my favorites
I received this book for free from BloggingForBooks for my honest review.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm Graduated!

   Oh, wait. I just signed up for four more years...  hehe I'm excited for it, though. I'm going to be going to college with my sister this fall.
   If you'd like to hear all about my graduation, my mom did a full post here. Since she already wrote one I'll just send ya'll to her instead of rewriting everything she said. ;)

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cookie Love Book Review

   My sister Hayden encouraged me to join Blogging for Books recently and the first book I received for review is Cookie Love

    First of all, I feel like I should explain that I don't bake a whole lot. Cooking, yes. Baking, not so much. I love eating baked goods, but I don't have that much experience making them. It's something I've been wanting to do more of though, so I was really excited to get Cookie Love by Mindy Segal.  

   It's a wonderful cookbook! So far I've made two of the recipes: Milanos and Coconut Macaroons. 
Milanos I made

Coconut macaroons
   I love, love, love the coconut macaroons! They basically taste like Mounds bars.  The Milanos looked just like store bought. I made the filling from the homemade fudge recipe in the "Basics" section of the book. Though the cookie part turned out beautifully, the fudge wasn't quite what I'd hoped for. I thought the recipe had called for quite a bit of vanilla, but I went ahead and put it all in anyway. :p I think it ended up tasting like alcohol, but only half of my family could taste it too. My sister said it may have tasted that way because I was using pretty cheap vanilla. However the next day almost all of the aftertaste had vanished (my dad said the alcohol probably evaporated) and it tasted pretty good. So besides that, the recipes seem pretty trustworthy. :) Most of the cookies in this book are more unusual recipes than in your typical cookie book with recipes like rugelach and biscotti. I can't wait to try all the others!

   One thing I love about this book (beside so many amazing-looking recipes) is the photography. If you look at the pictures long enough you'll feel as if you're in a cozy cookie/coffee shop. 

   I also really enjoyed how explanatory most of the recipes were. The author explains not only how to make the cookies, but why you have to add certain ingredients, for example, why snickerdoodles need cream of tartar. 

   Overall, this was just a really great cookie book. :D

   I received this book for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review. 

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Hidden Pearls is published!

My sister's book is now available! It can be bought here. To celebrate, she's having a release party on her blog, The Story Girl, which will include a giveaway for a signed copy of the book along with a bookmark illustrated by yours truly!
Congratulations Hayden! :D

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Story in Pictures and Gifs

This week I've been gardening and I have been having so much fun! I've been pretty much like this:

While I've been gardening I've also seen a bunch of squirrels. One in particular looked all cute and fluffy and he let me feed him a grape.
When I told my brother about it, he asked me if I wanted him to shoot the squirrel. I told him "no" since that cute little squirrel wasn't hurting anybody.

During this time my pineapple plant that I've had a few years actually flowered! I was so excited!

Here's a close up of what it looks like, though this specific picture isn't mine. 

I've waited years for it to do something and then it just decided to flower! So today I went to church and then saw the new Cinderella movie with some friends afterwards. 

Meanwhile at home.....

And I came back to this.



My beautiful plant was destroyed!!! 

And so I've been in the pit of despair.... But the movie was really good :) 
*sigh* But I'll be okay... I'll just go wait another five years for another pineapple plant to bloom...

And the next squirrel I see? 

Just kidding, I wouldn't want to shoot the wrong squirrel. 

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