|This photo was taken a year ago a couple of days after my husband had his PhD thesis defense. This was taken in Oregon.|
1. Tell us about your family.
My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We have 3 children (and 3 angel babies). My oldest son is 8, middle son is 5, and daughter is 2 1/2. My husband received his PhD a year ago and because of his education we left our home in Utah and moved to Oregon for him to attend school. He received a job in Oklahoma and this is where we're settling our family!
2. Tell us about where you live and how long you’ve lived there.
We have lived in Oklahoma for almost a year. It's green and FLAT here. We can't see any mountains or hills really-the sky looks bigger than I've ever seen it anywhere else. There is a lot of grass and many trees. We live in a young neighborhood (they're still building houses here) so most of the trees right around our house are less than 8 years old. We can see the huge Devon tower when we pull out on the road near our house. We live very near to a middle school and high school on the same grounds but the children in our neighborhood are bused quite a ways away to school (we homeschool).
3. What do you think is unique and special about living where you do?
It's very flat. Several people I know knew someone that died in the Oklahoma City bombing or have a story related to that very horrible day. The people here are very friendly. We like fried food a lot and many of the people say y'all. I was surprised that not as many people as I thought had accents though some do and some are very thick. It's very humid here which is nice in the spring and fall. The wind rarely stops blowing year round. It's very hot in the summer (over 100 many days) with 60-80% humidity. We are so blessed to have air conditioning here. We didn't in Oregon and our house frequently was over 90 degrees inside with 65% humidity which made it very hard to cook dinner. We have very violent storms here. We haven't seen any tornadoes, except on TV, but we have watched several storms very close. Tornadoes are most likely in April and May and October here but can happen any time during the year. They also frequently happen in the afternoon but can occur at any time of the day or night. Our National Weather Service (we did a tour of their facilities at University of Oklahoma last month) is really good about watching the storms and the weathermen watch very closely. The storm chasers (yes they really are real!) follow the storms as safely as they can but mother nature is unpredictable and occasionally some are in grave danger or lose their lives chasing the storms. When there's a storm all TV will be interrupted and all the major channels will have broadcasts that look like sporting events following the storms. They go back and forth between radar and the storm chaser's images and the images after the storm hits. Sometimes the sounds of the winds here are very scary and keep my children up at night or wake them up. We have very violent thunder storms and sometimes the thunder shakes our house. In the winter there are crazy ice storms that knock the power out for sometimes days or weeks at a time. This winter we lost power for almost 2 days when we had caught a stomach illness and I had to move all of our food out of our refrigerator to try to save it and bury it in the ice as best as I could. We now have a generator to keep our refrigerator running when we lose power. Not too far from my house (about 15 minutes away) one suburb area lost power for a month. Okies (as people from Oklahoma call themselves) have at least some amount of disaster preparedness down better than we've seen elsewhere. Many people (but not all) have storm shelters. We don't have basements here. If you don't have a storm shelter or a basement or the rain coming down would flood your storm shelter and you have tornado sirens going you take cover in a bathtub in the middle of your home (preferably holding a mattress over you) or hold on to your toilet because in a bad tornado often all that will remain is the cement pad that your house was on and your tub and toilet.
4. What languages are spoken there? If it’s different from English, can you help us learn a few common phrases?
We speak English here but there is an accent that many people have. People will say y'all instead of "you all." If they have plans or are preparing to go to the store they will say "We're fixin to go to the store."
5. What are some traditional foods there?
Fried food, chicken wings, barbecue (ribs, pork, chicken, steak), and breads. Wheat is a major crop grown here.
6. Tell us about the climate where you live.
I already talked about it a bit. The weather changes very frequently. We have hot summers and cold winters. The wind is nearly always blowing which with the humidity in the winter makes it feel much colder and in the summer it brings some relief to the heat index (the temperature feels much hotter than it really is because of the humidity). We have very violent storms here because the colder air from the North and Mountain West (in the spring) hits the warmer air from the South and Southeast and creates super storms.
7. What does school look like for the majority of kids where you live?
Most of the kids ride a bus to school. They start Kindergarten in August when they're 5. They go to Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade in elementary school. Several elementary schools gather students to go to a middle school for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Middle schools gather to go to a bigger high school for 9th grade (9th graders are often called freshmen), 10th grade (10th graders are often called sophomores), 11th grade (11th graders are often called juniors), and 12th grade (12th graders are often called seniors). The arrangement was slightly different where I grew up (in Utah)-Kindergarten through 6th would go to elementary school, 7th-9th in junior high, and 10th-12th in high school. We would have one main teacher in elementary school, have different subjects and go to 7 different teachers in junior high, and in high school we had 8 different teachers but would do 4 classes one day and 4 classes another day. Children eat lunch in a cafeteria. Some bring lunch from home but most eat food that is prepared for the children. Children here go to school from mid August through the early part of May with a small break for Christmas and a few days off here and there for different holidays or breaks. They also get a week off in March or April to celebrate spring.
8. What does school look like for your family?
We homeschool. We start out by having breakfast about 9 AM. We start our school day after breakfast by saying the Pledge of Allegiance and reading scripture stories. We then start in to subjects. My children are at different levels in math, reading, spelling, writing, and some other subjects. They learn science together because we focus on one broad topic each year (we've done astronomy, anatomy and physiology, chemistry and physics, and flying creatures in past years)-this year we will be learning about all types of animals and ocean animals. We take a break for lunch after we've got as much done as we can. I alternate between my children teaching their subjects that they work on different levels and one child will be working on something while the other is learning. My youngest colors or plays with math manipulatives through most of school. We finish up work after lunch and then my kids finish their work and play the rest of the day. We work hard Monday-Thursday so Fridays my oldest just has a math test and maybe a couple other things like keyboarding or something to finish up and we relax or go on field trips or go play at the zoo or science museum (we have yearly passes to the zoo and science museum which are about 20 minutes away from our house). We go to school all year with breaks as we need and we take December off for Christmas preparations and celebrations. We do less subjects in the summer but we do school work throughout the year.
9. Are there any special festivals or traditions you’d like to tell us about related to where you live?
We're so new here I don't know about many yet! There are county fairs and rodeos in the late summer. We've enjoyed different traditions in Utah (there was a huge celebration like Independence Day celebrated on July 24th that we celebrated our Mormon pioneer ancestors coming to settle in the area. We also went to visit the beautiful light displays for Christmas including in Salt Lake City at temple square) and Oregon (we loved visiting our church's creche/nativity display every year before Christmas. They would also put on plays for the children about the Biblical account of the nativity. We would also go to the county fair every year and I would enter something I hand knit for judging and receive a prize. Last year my oldest entered a Lego creation at the fair and he won a ribbon and prize). There are different little celebrations in small towns all over Oklahoma but we haven't had the opportunity to learn about them or attend any yet. We did get to go to the next town over to watch fireworks at the park on July 4th (Independence Day). It was a lot of fun-everyone brought their own fireworks that shot up high in the sky and set them off all over in the park (even on the grass and around trees). It's so humid here the risk of fire is apparently very low and by opening the park up I think it keeps the fireworks pretty contained in the area. It's the most amazing display of fireworks I've ever seen.
10. If you ever had to move away from where you live, what do you think you’d miss most?
Probably the people! People here are friendly and many are religious or open to those that are very religious. We are a very religious family and it's a huge part of who we are and what we do. In other places people have discriminated against us due to our religion, not allowing us to participate in groups or being associated with us. Here people find out that we're LDS and they're all very open to it and act more like a family toward us because they truly believe that we're all brothers and sisters in Christ.
11. Do you have a favorite book that takes place in your region/country?
My favorite growing up was Out of the Dust. I never imagined that our family would end up in Oklahoma. I also love the Little House on the Prairie series but it doesn't take place in Oklahoma at all. The plains are all very similar though so I think it's a really neat read to learn more about the vast plains in the center of the United States.
The Barrett Family
|This was taken a year ago outside of our front door on my children's first day of school last October (we had a late start due to moving halfway across the United States)|