Saturday, June 22, 2013

2013 Jazz in June

The weekend of our birthdays we spent the evening enjoying Norman's Jazz in June. It was a lovely evening in the park listening to live music. Read the story I wrote on the event here.

With my love.

And the music! LOVED The Dirty Dozen Brass Band!


Friday, June 21, 2013

24th Birthday

For my 24th birthday I took the day off and spent the day with my sweet college friend, Laura, and Nathaniel. We of course spent plenty of time visiting and enjoying great food, in between seeing "Monsters University" and wandering Bricktown. It was a beautiful and relaxing day. I'm grateful for Laura's friendship and feel blessed to have her in my life. Thanks for making my day so great, Laura!

In Bricktown

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tornado Aftermath Day 3: Baby

The third day of tornado coverage I got a call from my public relations source from the local hospital. She asked me if I was busy and told me she had a woman for me to interview if I could get to the hospital in 15 minutes. The woman was willing to share her story of being in the middle of progressed labor at Moore Medical Center when the May 20 tornado struck the hospital. It only took me a second to get in the car.
Braeden Immanuel aka "Twister" was born just hours after a tornado struck the hospital his mother was laboring in.
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I arrived at the hospital, but when I met the mom, Shayla, I was struck by her peaceful demeanor. Despite having survived a tornado while in the middle of labor — she was nine centimeters dilated for pete's sake — Shayla was collected, serene and almost matter-of-fact as she related her story to me and a broadcaster. 

Shayla's sweet baby boy was born just hours after the tornado ripped apart the hospital she was in. Shayla and her husband had selected the baby's name, Braeden Immanuel, weeks before his birth. Ironically, Immanuel means "God is with us." Shayla and her husband attributed their safety to the will of God. Shayla was bold in sharing her testimony of God and her gratitude for God keeping her, her family, her nurses and all others in the building safe. Nobody in the building was seriously injured.

Shayla with her family.

As we were wrapping up the interview, a nurse came running up to greet the family. It was one of the nurses that cared for Shayla as the tornado approached. The nurse was responsible for piling warm towels on top of Shayla to protect her, as well as kneeling besides her to pray as the tornado hit the side of the building. It was fun to witness the two women reconnecting after such a traumatic experience.

Shayla and her nurse.

Read my complete story on Shayla here

Other medical stories I wrote included how hospital employees acted on their training and mental health clinics offered to children.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tornado Aftermath Day 2: Plaza Towers

After I got back from checking out volunteer efforts at a local church, I came back to the newsroom to find a note from my editor asking me to call a woman who agreed to talk to us who had been in Plaza Towers Elementary when the tornado hit.

Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, Okla., after it was hit by an EF-5 tornado on May 20, 2013.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tornado Aftermath Day 2: Volunteers

I didn't sleep well the night of May 20. I laid awake as the numbers and images from the tornado bounced around in my head. I felt sick to my stomach the entire night, but when it was reasonable to get back up again, I dressed and headed to work. Upon arriving in the newsroom, my boss sent me out to interview volunteers helping with relief efforts. I arrived to find JourneyChurch buzzing with happy activity. I was blown away to see so many working as the hands of God, like literal disciples of Jesus Christ. They organized and prepared food and water, folded blankets, piled pillows, sorted clothing and more. That is what has touched me the most about this entire experience: Seeing the divinity in others as they selflessly reach out to serve, to lift, to protect. It is truly humbling and inspiring. People weren't kidding when they called it the "Oklahoma Standard." Okies take service to heart and don't mess around when it comes to being their brother's keeper.

Writing lessons with Miles, part 3

At Campus Corner
For our third writing lesson I took Miles to Campus Corner in Norman to do some observations. We sat, listened, felt and generally observed our environment and then wrote down everything we could think of. After we conquered that, we started doing some people watching. We observed how people were dressed, what they were holding and how they carried themselves to hypothesize about their personalities or what's happening in their lives. We, of course, wrote all that down, too.

Miles working on his observations

We then headed back to my apartment and talked about using our observations to "show" instead of "tell." One of the men we observed was walking with very tense shoulders. We both decided maybe he was stressed or nervous. He was headed towards campus so we figured maybe he was a student. We described him in a scene, with tense shoulders, a crinkled brow, etc., as a way to show our reader that the character was stressed instead of just telling them he's stressed.

After a few goes at it, our hour was already over!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Photo Essay: May 20, 2013, Moore, Oklahoma, EF-5 Tornado

When I went into work May 19, 2013, to cover a local tornado I felt mildly inconvenienced. It's selfish but it's an emotion common to many journalists: We cover too many depressing topics to take things too personally. We become experts at compartmentalizing so we can get the job done and get the job done well. Still, with that said, I wasn't prepared for the next afternoon's EF-5 tornado in Moore, Okla. May 20, 2013, is a day that will live in my mind forever.

This is my photo essay on my day's experience:

Sirens go off around 2:30 p.m. in Norman. The entire building takes shelter in the basement. I grab my purse and notepad and continue transcribing notes while we wait for the all clear — it's not so much that my work needs to get done that urgently, but I need to distract myself from what the radio is saying. Tornadoes terrify me. We're told we can head back upstairs. We turn the TV on in the newsroom, and I feel sick to my stomach as I hear the meteorologist say over and over the word "deadly." We know this is going to be bad, but we're not sure how bad. I think about how my pre-assigned beat for tornadoes is the hospital beat. I try to brace myself for the worse: For an unimaginable amount of injuries and death. All I feel is numb. The meteorologist is tracking the storm, shouting out it's path through Moore. I turn to look at my editor, who lives in Moore, she is quietly sitting behind her desk wiping tears from her eyes. She calls her house to see if the line still works and we both pray that her home is still standing. We continue to watch footage for minute after horrifying minute until it appears it's coming to an end. We're given the all clear to head out to the scene and I load up with my coworker, Caitlin, to see what we can cover. She's the education reporter and we decide our first goal will be to find one of the schools that's been hit. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

June N-town

Another one in the bag. Read it here and here


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Writing Lessons with Miles, part 2

Week two of writing class with Miles we talked about avoiding self-editing and the importance of writing in drafts. We also did several exercises to avoid self-editing such as word association. We talked about avoiding hampering the creative process in the first draft and fine-tuning after the initial story was already down. Other discussions included writing what we know and learning how to research for a story.

Exciting stuff, I know!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Three Years

Three years of marriage today. After both of us working all day we grabbed a pizookie from BJ's to celebrate.
Love this man.

Three years have come and gone in the blink of an eye. This last year has been filled with some of the greatest joys and deepest sorrows. The thing that has touched me the most is your capacity to love and serve, no matter the circumstances. When things are up, you're there to celebrate with me and are undoubtedly my biggest cheerleader. You are joyful and though you don't see it, I view it as one of the greatest gifts a person could ever have. You bring happiness to me and those around you just by being yourself. I am grateful for that example.

In the days I felt I couldn't move forward this year, you were there to hold me, wipe my tears and whisper encouragements. Your heart ached with mine when I felt my own heart was beyond repair and I can't thank you enough for that. In those moments you taught me more about love than I ever have before. Thank you for serving me in all times, the good and the bad, and for always reminding me that marriage is about following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ.

I love you. Thank you for choosing me as your forever.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Writing Lessons with Miles, part 1

Norman, Okla., is an incredible place for any artist to live and work — the community loves the arts and works hard to support local artists. Even kids can get in on the action at various art centers and museums. But as it turns out, the art of writing is pretty well neglected here, as I'm sure it is most anywhere. That's why a local friend approached me about teaching her 10-year-old son writing lessons. Her son, Miles, loves writing fiction — his most recent work of brilliance was about hamsters escaping their cage. With school just out, Miles' mom couldn't find a fun writing class for his age group at local education centers. I was absolutely tickled pink that she thought of me and couldn't wait to get to work! It's a shame there aren't more children's creative writing classes around — maybe I'll have to start one of my own!

Workin' hard!

We had our first lesson tonight, and enjoyed our hour learning about character sketches and "showing not telling." We developed three of our own characters from scratch, including a species, physical attributes, personality traits, background information and their current setting. From there, Miles developed a story from thin air about three creatures who are combating evil — it's quite brilliant but I don't want to give his story away. Maybe we'll share it later!

My character sketches for my three characters. I haven't developed a story for my characters quite yet.
He first wrote a scene from his story from one character's perspective. We then talked about showing, instead of telling, or using more descriptive words and phrases to paint a picture with words rather than just saying something happened. Miles rewrote the scene using the same character's perspective and this technique and totally rocked it!

Before we knew it "class" was over. Miles' homework for the next week is to write out his entire story from the three different perspectives of his created characters. We'll see what he comes up with next week!


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Taylor + Logan

I woke up bright and early June 1 to get ready to be a bridesmaid in Taylor's wedding. We all had a blast getting ready in anticipation of Tay's big day!

Myself and the bride.

I think we were all well and ready once the ceremony finally came around and it was perfect! The weather was beautiful and the pastor's delivery even sweeter. The entire ceremony focused around the marital covenant and its connection to the Savior Jesus Christ. It was simple, tender and so sweet. I'm so grateful I was there to witness and support my dear friend marry the man of her life! Marriage is such a gift and I know they will make big things from it!

High school friends :)

To top off a perfect ceremony, the reception was awesome! The food was delicious, company great and the music kept us dancing all night! And did I mention the view? The reception was at a lighthouse, right on the breathtaking!

With the bride, with my love, at the reception.

You can check out some of the professional photos here.


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