Saturday, July 5, 2014

Touring AT&T Stadium aka Cowboys Stadium, Ambassadors Trip

Recently I was accepted into the 4-H Fuel Up To Play 60's Healthy Lifestyles Ambassador Program.

Since Fuel Up To Play 60 is sponsored by the NFL, all of us who were selected as Ambassadors where given VIP tickets for a special tour of  AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play.
the golden ticket :)
Even though I don't know much about football, I still had a good time and found the tour really interesting. It was fun to tour it with my new Ambassador friends.

the view after you step off the escalators.
 -We got to see the players' and the cheerleaders' locker rooms, the place where the Cowboys all run out onto the field, the private underground parking for players, cheerleaders, and box owners, and the fancy boxes that people can rent.
-The stadium can hold over 100,000 people- they just filled every seat and box for the last George Strait concert ever, held there. (let's have a moment of silence here, folks. no more new George Strait songs. ever. :( whyyyyyy) Okay, moving on.

-You can actually see where the Texas Rangers play from the stadium. I've been there, too!


 -The stadium has the largest retractable endzone doors in the world, and when the dome's open, it can become an outdoor stadium. Cool, huh? It hosts concerts, (Beyonce,  1D, George Strait) basketball games, bull riding, boxing matches, monster truck, and motocross.
We were all freaking out and laughing. It was so much fun. :)
-To get to the locker rooms we took a freight elevator underground, which was scary but fun. It rattled.
-We also got to go to the press conference room, where reporters ask players questions about the game.
On the press conference stage.

Then we went out to eat at a place called The Mellow Mushroom. It was decorated 70's style and served different types of pizza. I had the baked potato mini pizza and it was really good! Then we went to the hotel and to bed so we could get up early for training the next morning. I'll do a post on training later.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I'm Back!

Long time no post! I'm back from Step, yay! Step was a lot of fun, but it was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done - so far. I learned how to rappel and  to cross rivers, to canoe, and to do a gun takeaway, to organize a grid search and to bandage wounds. I also watched Follow Me Boys, the sweetest old movie ever made. Go watch it! We sang the songs on our marches.

 I also killed and plucked a chicken, stabilized a (fake)puncture wound in a woman's stomach, cleaned a massive machine called a tilt skillet while on KP duty, and learned how to make a bed so you can bounce a quarter off it, like they do in the old war movies. The below photo is not an example. XD
Much more to tell, but some of it's confidential  in case you go to STEP, so you'll be surprised.
                                                                                                   

My little bed in the dorm. Don't judge: I hadn't learned how to make it yet. :)
My friend Leah and I. Leah was so sweet to me! :)
  My absolute most favorite thing about STEP is the great encouragement you get in your spiritual walk. It was so cool to be around other like minded Christian girls, all with some of the same goals and ideas. I made a ton of great friends. Shoutouts to: Grace, Hannah, Bethany, Becca, Rachel 1, Rachel 2, Remi, Dee,Chon-Chon, Leah <3, Lydia aka brains, Marina, Tay, Neep, Clara, Randi, Mollie, and Angela, just to name a few.

The very first day at Step, I stood in the lobby of our dorm nervously. I'd unpacked, my family left, and I sat with the other first-years, glum and alone. Then this Advanced girl appears out of nowhere, clutching a Frisbee. "Do y'all play Ultimate Frisbee?" (Advanced means they've been here before and they're advanced in skills.)

  We shook our heads 'no'. "Well, I'm Grace, and you are my new proteges!" She taught us the game, we played for an hour, and I thought that was that. Advanced people were super busy, too busy for first years. But no!
She left sweet notes on my door every single day, prayed with us, and stopped to hug us whenever our paths crossed. I met so many sweet people, but Grace was the first!

Rachel 2 and I
My team scaling the bluffs.

Two other girls who were super sweet to me, especially during PT, were the amazingly cool Canadian twins Becca and Rachel Stewart. They walked with me on our hikes, ran with me at the 3K and were very encouraging. They, too, left me sweet notes,and were faithful members of ROS along with Leah, Mollie, Hannah and Bethany. (inside joke there. :)) Stay strong, ROS!! lol.
A final word to you blog readers - if you are a girl between the ages of 14-25, GO TO STEP! learn more about STEP here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

start spreading the news...

...I'm leaving today.
Hey. I'm leaving for STEP camp tomorrow, for a whole month.

(Please forgive the messy room, I was packing in on my parents' floor. Note the new waterproof watch.
Also, excuse the sweatpants, socks, and the Old Navy shirt I wear in every. single. photo.)
This quote I read somewhere keeps rocketing about in my mind-

"...and there was an air of glaring finality to it."

 -and I can't remember where, it may have been Gone With the Wind but I can't remember now. I just remember it was talking about someone leaving.

   Anyway,as I sat my suitcase in the back of our suburban for the short-ish ride to Big Sandy tomorrow,folded my sleeping bag up and scrawled my name on my uniforms with a white laundry pen, I couldn't help thinking about that quote. 

I mean, I know this is going to be great, both for me physically and spiritually, but it somehow seems so ...final.


  STEP is a little like a boot camp. You're on a strict schedule, and you wake up at 5 each morning for a routine run of a 'few' miles, stomach crunches, and exercises. Then you eat and might go learn to rappel on this huge fire tower, or learn to do a ropes course, or learn first aid, etc. We'll also be memorizing the whole book of Philippians.

    I'm excited, I really am. But I'm also terrified, y'all. I can't even do a push up! 

   This whole experience is about teaching girls to rely on God for strength, and not themselves, which I'll definitely be doing. But I'm still a little scared at the thought that this is real, I'm really leaving,so I just keep repeating this verse:


    I would love it if y'all would pray for me while I'm gone, that I won't be scared, that I'll trust God and grow in Him.

Well, I guess this is a goodbye post, so bye. I love you guys! I'll post again in July!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pinterest!

I finally got a Pinterest! Check it out, and maybe follow me?
 http://www.pinterest.com/LauraAshley998/boards/

Eating DNA

Today I made a replica of some good old deoxyribonucleic acid.
Mmm. More commonly known as DNA,  it is hidden in tiny, long structures called chromosomes. During cell division these chromosomes are duplicated in the process of DNA replication, providing each cell its own complete set of chromosomes. It grows something like this: One cell makes two, two makes four, four makes eight, etc. 


 I first chose a sequence, and then placed adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine in that order. Those are just four types of nucleobases (aka, bases).These four nucleobases, along the backbone, encode biological information, like your eye color or your hair color. Marshmallows were my base pairs, and a Twizzler was the backbone. The backbone is made up of a residue of chemical sugars.

Yum! Cytosine!

Labelling my base pairs. 
                            Adenine always pairs with thymine, and cytosine with guanine.
Twisting it into a double helix.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Confessions of a Country Girl/Livestock Show

   Last week was the project show/livestock show. It's a really fun, busy week. I only made one project, but my little brothers showed their animals and I led barn tours, so we were there ALL. WEEK. LONG. :D

  I don't mind, though. I love the atmosphere: wearing boots, slugging through mounds of dust while George Strait wails through crackly old speakers, petting the rabbits waiting to be shown, cheering for friends as they show, balancing precariously on pipe fences surrounding the arena just for the fun of it, even waiting in an hour-long line in the hot sun to buy a snowcone.

Okay, my monologue has lasted long enough. Moving on,

The buckle is silver and turquoise! It's so heavy that it pulls my belt down.
I got this reserve grand champion belt buckle with my kitchen set project!!
I apologize for the galoshes/lack of Western attire; the barns are very, very muddy(I now live an hour from Old Navy, btw). But aren't they cute galoshes?

 Dad taught me how to use the tools and I learned a lot. I had a great time painting the kitchen set, decorating it, and building it. It started with an old desk I found for $40 at a thrift store, and we built shelving underneath. The faucet a nice employee at Lowe's gave to us for $5, as it was a display faucet they no longer needed.
The 'burners' are furniture grip pads glued to a board spray painted silver. The sink basin is a mixing bowl.

I had a ton of fun leading the barn tours this year as well. We had 585 kids come through. We walked them in groups of two classes from station to station, then through the barns to look at the cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, peacocks, turkeys, horses, etc. It was such a great experience, but also a very eye -opening experience. When we asked where they thought beef came from, they said the store., or  they thought people 'grew' it.  "A man grows it an' puts it in a truck an' takes it to the store," one boy explained confidently.

   I guess, in the five years I've lived in the country, I've become used to learning exactly where my food comes from. I know where the animals live, what they eat, and  where the plants grow. Not to say I'm an expert at country life; I can barely ride a horse. :)
Still, I've come to think of myself as a country girl, and I'm proud of that!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sir Isaac Newton - the early years

It's pretty safe to say everyone knows who Isaac Newton was. You've probably heard about his laws of motion, his research in optics, or his discoveries through calculus. Either way, Sir Newton is hailed as a successful genius.
  But did you know he had a very hard life? His father died before he was born, and after his mother got him financially situated, she left him with his grandparents. She remarried a rich man and spent tons of money on her other children's educations.

   Isaac returned to live with her and his new stepfather at age 10.  Around this time his mother pulled him out of school as it cost to much. She spared no amount of money on her other children, but she was unusually stern when it came to Isaac. His school teachers noticed the potential in him and offered to teach him free of charge if she'd let him return to school.
He was friends with the younger children and the girls, making fully-functioning miniature watermills (he was fascinated with those) and doll furniture. He did hot, however, fit in with the other boys, and they teased him for spending time with girls and smaller children.
 
When he left for college he had to pay his own way by working as a sizar, a highly undesirable position. Sizars were servants for richer students. It was embarrassing for Isaac, who was from a wealthy family, to serve in this position. His friends' fathers and mothers paid for their sons' education, parties, and clothing- Isaac could barely buy food.
 
Petty and jealous all his life, he had few friends at college. One friend, a boy named John, assisted him in the lab and during his discoveries. Isaac could be secretive- he practiced alchemy,  something he could've been thrown in prison for at the time. Anyone who has read the  Harry Potter books is familiar with the Philosopher's Stone; Newton truly believed this stone existed and much of his alchemy work was devoted to trying to find this. He also kept his discoveries hidden from John. He was often seen wandering the college campuses all alone.
 
After graduating from Trinity College, he would write the Principa  and go on to complete his famous discoveries, but it was his lonely childhood and troubled college experience that set the basis for his adult life.

In a later memoir, Newton wrote:
"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."