Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Eve

Here I am! I was planning on posting a nice, introspective post on 2015, but currently something more important is on my mind. No, no one died. No break-ups. But yes, something semi-catastrophic...story of my life in 2015.

The last few days my parents and I haven't had electricity due to damages from the latest ice storm. I really hate ice storms. There was an awful on in 2002 that caused us to be without electricity for 35 days. Worst time ever. Currently, we are on day 5 and it's looking like we have about 2-5 more days without. I mean, it's not that bad, as we're on a generator, but still. It's more annoying than anything. Because of that, I was really excited when Rebecca called me up and asked if I wanted to join her in Stillwater for a New Year's Eve get-together with some St. John's folks. I was excitedly welcoming the return to electricity! I narrowly escaped a stomach bug that had gone through Gina and Emily's families (and Dad). I was really excited, barring the fact that I DIDN'T want to drive the awful muddy roads around my house. After summoning some courage and a pep-talk from my dad, I loaded up into my noble white steed (aka the 1998 Toyota Tacoma I've driven since I graduated HS that had 267,000+ miles on it).

The roads were every bit as awful as I anticipated, but only 3 miles of muddy treacherousness separated me from the freedom of paved roads. It was a little touch and go at times, but thanks to 4-wheel-drive and tons of prayers, I made it through! I was cruising along the highway, excited to get out of the house on my own. As I was heading south on Highway 74, I veered a little bit to the right, and my front right tire slipped off the side of the road. (I couldn't tell where I was on the road due to my muddy side mirrors.) I turned to get back on the highway fully.

Before I go on, I want you to participate in a little mental exercise. Count to 8.

Did you count to 8? Good.

In that amount of time (or less), I got back on the road, overcorrected, crossed a lane of oncoming traffic, swerved into the ditch on the east side of the road, narrowly missed hitting a pole and cement barrier, and flipped my pickup. It landed on the driver's side. My passenger's window broke out. I saw it happen, but I knew there was nothing I could do after a certain point. It happened in the blink of an eye. Once I knew I stopped moving and recoiled for a moment, I put the pickup in park (mostly for my sanity), turned the key off, and unbuckled. I thought I heard the radio still on, but it turns out that it was a couple who ran over to check on me. I confirmed that I was alright and located my cell phone. A guy's voice promised that he'd help me out, but I had to get up a little more. I stood up, and used the handlebars, my steering wheel, and my gear shifter to climb out. I got out into the man's arms, and he put me on the ground.

I looked, and besides the fact that I was covered in mud and water (I ran through a huge mud puddle), I was unscathed. Well, then I looked down at my hands (to check my engagement ring, honestly) and I saw a little bit of blood coming from my left palm. I was alive, standing, and well. The man's wife called 911, while the guy used my phone to call my parents. Within moments a state trooper was on the scene. The couple noticed my orange shirt I was wearing beneath my coat and said that they hoped I was an OSU fan, because they wanted to cover me up in a blanket, but they only had an OSU one! Eventually, the trooper had me sit in his patrol car to warm up while he questioned the couple.

I didn't hit them or anyone else. I didn't even hit the barbed wire fence. I don't understand why or how any of it happened. Plain and simple, I experienced a miracle. A HUGE miracle. Jesus and my Guardian Angel were with me. I'm certain of it.

After a bit longer, Mom and Dad came. They saw I was fine (minus the mud covering my face) and were relieved. They made sure I wasn't on my phone, which, for the record, I wasn't!!! Dad examined the wreckage while Mom thanked the couple for coming to my rescue. After regaling my account to the trooper, the ambulance showed up, driven by none other than Scotty (my brother-in-law), accompanied by one of his fire department cronies. They looked me over, saw that I only had a small laceration on my palm (which had quit bleeding by then because I put pressure on it), and told me that I should go get checked out, but that I didn't necessarily need to go via ambulance. I gladly let my parents drive me. The whole way to Enid, I sat in shock. (I also called Thomas somewhere in there. He needed to know.) Let me tell you, being in a moving vehicle immediately after being in a wreck is a bit terrifying. The moment of the crash replayed in my mind. I intermittently cried tears of thankfulness before falling back into mental numbness.

The ER was uncharacteristically empty, so I waited at most for 5 minutes. Every person who worked on me was super compassionate. They checked me for signs of concussion (I showed none), checked my vitals, and checked my mobility. No x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. No blood drawn. Nothing. I was given prescriptions for a mild painkiller and a muscle relaxer. We stopped by the pharmacy and headed home. I came home, cried a little with Mom and Dad, and thanked God for bringing me back home in one piece.

I still can't believe I'm alive. I still can't believe I'm here to tell this story. I can't believe any of it happened. My only conclusions from this whole ordeal are as follows:
-We aren't as in control as we like to think we are. God is.
-God and angels are real. Don't believe me? Reread my story.
-Everyone has a time to go. Mine wasn't yesterday, and God willing, it won't be for quite some time.
-God still has things for me to do here, and I'm SO happy I still do!!!!!!

To bring home my point, here are a few pictures...not for the faint of heart, so stop here if you don't want to see them.



Okay. Here we go.

I was against the bottom side and climbed straight up to get out.

Note the pole and the yellow barrier. Exactly wide enough for my pickup to go through.

Left driver's window didn't break out, and the door still opened and closed.

This window did break out. The windshield shattered also. This door still opens and closes.

Front end damage was pretty bad. I think I only busted the radiator.

My only injury, if you can call it that.

Found this guy in the back of the pickup when I cleaned it out today. St. Christopher, you're the real MVP (besides God, obviously)!!

I still can't believe I'm alive to tell this story, but I thank God that I am!!! Happy 2016, everyone!! May the bad luck be gone this year!!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmastime Happenings

Here's a smattering of what I've been up to since last time I posted...

I am currently in my third week of being an engaged woman, and I still am getting used to it! I often find myself referring to Thomas as my boyfriend, then immediately realizing that he's now my fiance! We have done a few wedding planning-type things, but nothing too much yet. The biggest reason stems from our one big choice...the date! After a little bit of thought, we've settled on July 15, 2017 as the big day!!! Yes, I know, July in Oklahoma is borderline insane, but it'll be just fine! We've also pretty well picked out our wedding party. Although I easily could have picked more, I've settled on six bridesmaids. A good part of having a full Catholic wedding Mass is the fact that you get to include even more friends/family because you need lectors/altar servers/gift bearers/Eucharistic Ministers/etc. That alone made my bridesmaid choice a little easier! I like that we have a longer engagement, because the chaos will be more spread out, but I also find myself wanting to hurry up and get lots of stuff figured out. I'm in a weird in-between time of it being too soon to book some things or to go dress shopping. Wedding planning will most likely be in full swing once school is out in May! 

In a similar vein, telling people about our engagement has been lots of fun! The days immediately proceeding our engagement were filled with phone calls, long conversations, and an onslaught of social media attention. I LOVED getting to tell our family members and our St. John's friends who have fully seen Thomas and I's relationship come to fruition. (Fun fact: Many of our SJ friends secretly wanted Thomas and I to date long before we realized it...sometimes, you just know!) Letting my students know was also fun, but I never directly told them...I waited for them to notice my ring :) It turns out that high school students are much more observant of those things than I gave them credit for! All but two of my classes picked up on it on the first day! 

Speaking of students, I'm officially done with my first semester of teaching! It was a whirlwind, but I'm still surviving! Semester testing left me fairly unscathed, and I had all of my grades in by the time I left for break! Woohoo!!! (Let's temporarily disregard the fact that I still have lessons to plan for all classes within the next week...we don't need that kind of negativity!) I'm not looking forward to next semester, only because it is absurdly busy between extracurriculars, testing, and everything else. 

This past weekend, I took the train down to Dallas to see Thomas and my future in-laws! I had a great time getting to be in the big city, which really helped to get me in vacation mode! Highlights of this trip included Thomas's middle school reunion (yes, that really happened), an engagement party of sorts (thrown by Thomas's parents!), a Christmas light "tour", dinner with two of Thomas's cousins, and lots of fun relaxation! The engagement party was great because it allowed me to meet lots of Thomas's family friends/neighbors who I always hear about but have yet to meet. As always, the trip went much too quickly, but Thomas will be making his way down here tomorrow for our Christmas festivities :)

Ah, yes, Christmas. I really haven't been much in the Christmas spirit this year. At first, I attributed it to being busy with the end of the semester and whatnot, but once I finished school, I realized that I just wasn't feeling it as much this year. I mean, I've purchased my gifts, wrapped them, listened to every version of almost every Christmas carol, but I still just didn't feel right. It wasn't until yesterday when I was out finishing up my shopping that I got to the root of my issue. I miss Mimi. A lot. 

I like to think I've handled her death pretty gracefully so far, knowing that she couldn't live forever and that she was in no condition to keep living the way she was. Starting work, people's birthdays, and even Thanksgiving wasn't as difficult as I anticipated it to be (until Aunt Carol died that day). But yesterday, I really hurt. I found myself crying through the opening verses of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" at Mass last night (that's always one of my favorites). I saw a "Dennis the Menace" Christmas special on TV and practically lost it. I guess I never truly realized how big of a part Mimi played in my Christmas traditions until now. 

Christmas Eve for the past five or so years has consisted of me picking Mimi up from her house, bringing her over for a nice three-course supper of salad, roast or salmon, and chocolate pudding dessert (foods she enjoyed but rarely ate). We'd always have the classic TV show channel playing and one year in particular, I remember seeing that same "Dennis the Menace" special while she was there. I remember proudly walking into church with Mimi in tow, sitting next to her and holding her hymnal while we gleefully sang the Christmas carols. I remember everyone flooding us after Mass to tell her hello and wish her a Merry Christmas. I remember taking her home, when she'd sometimes get her Christmas gifts from us. Mom would usually find her a nice Alfred Dunner outfit or a pajama set. She'd always cry tears of joy becuase of how beautiful her new outfits were, a trademark of people who grew up during the Depression. We'd leave her after she was ready for bed, and we'd gleefully tell each other, "Merry Christmas!" Going home was very serene. 

This is Christmas Eve to me, and it will always be that way in my mind. This year was different, and I'm sure new traditions will come about through the years, especially after Thomas and I get married and start a family. Even so, my heart hurts right now. Not only do I miss Mimi, but I also miss Uncle Joe and Aunt Carol. I miss going to Uncle Joe and Aunt Genevieve's beautiful home and enjoying meat that he smoked especially for the occasion. I miss telling him about all that I've been up to since the last time we spoke. I even miss him trying his hardest to convince me to be an engineer like he was! I miss seeing and laughing with Aunt Carol when we celebrated Christmas at Mimi's house. I miss her big hugs and her booming laugh. I miss it all. 

I know it's not right to dwell on the past because it keeps us from enjoying the present, but right now it's one thing that brings me a little bit of solace, even if it still makes me sad. I know death isn't the end and that they're all waiting for me and that love transcends death. I get it. I'm still sad, and I still miss them, but life goes on. 

On a less depressing note, we're having our Christmas festivities tomorrow. Because we love non-traditional Christmas food, we're having a collection of soups, salads, and breads. I'm also making a coconut cheesecake, just for Scotty! Thomas will even get to join us! :) This will be my first time to have someone here with me for a Hladik Christmas! I'm really excited!

The weather forecast isn't looking too promising for this weekend, which bums me out a little bit. I don't mind some snow, but I really hate ice and sleet, which is what they're mostly predicting. Fingers crossed that they're wrong and that our electricity stays intact for the duration!!!!! 

Stay warm, and have a very Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Power of Yes (A Love Story)

At some point in each person’s life, you’re placed in a situation where you have to make a decision that seems relatively small at the time, but ends up playing into every other aspect of your life. For me, I’d say the best example of a choice like this was when Thomas asked me to go on a date with him initially.

Here’s the thing: Thomas and I had known each other and had been friends for almost 1.5 years at the time. His asking me on a date was COMPLETELY unexpected. I had no idea what to think. Honestly, it didn’t seem all that appealing at the time. I wasn’t really interested in him, I thought we were too different, and I really just wasn’t sure what would happen. But there I was, hearing the man with the deepest, most resonant voice I know tripping over and stuttering out the words to ask me on a date. I could tell this meant something to him. I could tell he didn’t want to just go on a date and call it good. He had intentions. The good kind. Even with all of my apprehensions, I was bowled over by his sincerity and boldness. With all of the fear in my heart, I said yes to the date. We agreed to discuss it further through the week, but went our separate ways from there.

Through the week, I told a few of our mutual friends about what happened. As I told the story more and more, I could feel my heart softening and becoming more receptive. As I laid out a few of my concerns, they managed to quell each of them and tell me little tidbits about Thomas to put me at ease. The more I learned about him, the more I realized that I was hasty in my initial assumptions. The more I learned about him, the more I realized that we just might be more similar than I ever could have anticipated. The more I learned about him, the more excited I was about our upcoming date. I realize now that God really worked through everyone I told about it to help prepare and open my heart for what was ahead.

Finally, the big night came. He picked me up at St. John’s, and we headed to dinner. We talked more about where we grew up, our families, our majors, our goals, and just about everything else under the sun. As we talked more, I could feel something changing deep inside. After dinner, we decided that the night was too young to call it quits, so we went to Boomer Lake, a man-made lake on the north edge of Stillwater. We decided to start walking around the lake and talking. We didn’t realize it, but it was a LONG walk, easily a mile or two. We filled the entire walk with stories from our younger years or other tidbits about our families. After we finally made it back around and to an open park bench, we were happy to sit down. As we sat down, we happened to notice a big, bright shooting star right in front of us, something we both internally hoped was a harbinger of good things. Our conversation on the bench made me realize that we were scarily similar on many things. I was so happy I said yes to the date! Eventually, the cool December air was too much for us, so we walked back to the vehicle. During this walk, we decided that a) since we had known each other for so long, and b) since it was going so well, that we were ready to start dating each other exclusively.

Maybe we should have waited to make that decision, but we didn’t. From that point, we had about a week together before Thomas had to go home to Texas for a month. That month was super challenging, but really what has made our relationship what it is now. There’s nothing like finally having a boyfriend and not being able to see him. Early on, we started calling each other most every night, much to our families’ chagrin, admittedly. That time apart really allowed us to get to know each other more deeply. It also cemented the fact that we shared a deep admiration for one another, and we didn’t want that to change. I wouldn’t trade that month for the world.

From the time he returned, our relationship was a whirlwind of excitement and adventure. We spent 
countless hours talking, laughing, crying, studying, planning, supporting, traveling, and just being together. Over the past year, Thomas has become one of my best friends in the whole world. He understands me in ways I never dreamed possible. He exceeds my wildest expectations of what I thought my next relationship would be. He makes all of the sadness, heartbreak, loneliness, and emptiness I felt in so many other “relationships” worth every second. He shows me God’s love each and every day. He helps me to continually grow into the person I aspire to become. He is the answer to so many prayers.

I love reflecting on the many facets of and experiences from our relationship. As of late, it has become interesting because Thomas has been doing a considerable amount of job hunting, as most college seniors do. He’s considered all sorts of positions in all sorts of locations, but he has made the decision to accept a job with JB Hunt this coming summer! I am beyond proud of him and all that he has accomplished thus far. It’s going to be an interesting transition for us, but hopefully we’ll adjust well!

Oh wait…there’s more!

You see, once Thomas began job hunting, we began feeling a call on our hearts from God that our relationship was called to something different than we anticipated. Albeit much sooner than we anticipated, we started discerning whether we were called, as a couple, to the vocation of marriage. Through a few months of prayer, deep discussion with our families, and lots of time weighing our options, we made a decision.

On Friday, December 4th, after attending the Waukomis HS basketball homecoming festivities, Thomas took me to my favorite place in the world—the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at my church in Bison. After spending a few moments together in silent prayer, we were about to leave when Thomas dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring from a box in his pocket, and asked me to marry him!!!!!!!!!

Amid shrieks and tears of joy, I said yes!

I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this amazing man!

Today, I’m BEYOND grateful that I put aside my selfish concerns and was open to God’s will for my life. Today, I’m BEYOND grateful that I didn’t let fear get in the way of the rest of my life.
Today, I’m BEYOND grateful for the love Thomas and I share.
Today, I’m the happiest woman in the world! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gratitude and Sadness

Hello all, and a Happy Thanksgiving to all who are reading this! Today is a day when we all pause more than usual to give thanks for all that God has blessed us with. I am thankful for the blessings I've received that allow me to live the life I live that is so full of great people and opportunities!

However, today was a Thanksgiving unlike any other. Today, my mom's sister, my Aunt Carol, passed away unexpectedly. We're not really sure why or how, but all we know is that she has gone on to join Mimi, Grandpa Rudy, and her son, Keith. It still hasn't completely hit me, as I'm sure it won't for a day or so, but I feel a great sadness in my soul, even if I know that she has fulfilled all that God has called her to in her earthly life.

Right now, I ask that you please say a prayer for my family, especially my Uncle Neil and her sons and grandchildren, as well as my mom and her siblings. Even more, pray that her soul may find peace in God's presence.

Aunt Carol was a beautiful woman who brought joy to the lives of many people. She was always quick to make jokes and be a light to many. For many years, she touched the lives of countless students as she worked as a school bus driver in her community, the same community in which I now teach. She was a good, loving woman who left before we had the chance to say goodbye.

As an amateur writer, I can appreciate boldness on anyone's part to write something that you're willing to let the whole world see. Very few people knew this, but my Aunt Carol had a way with words, especially in the form of poetry. When my sister Michelle passed away, she wrote a poem to memorialize her, which was sung at the funeral and engraved on Michelle's tombstone. With my mom's permission, I now share some of my aunt's writing that is quite apt for today.

Michelle's Angel Wings

I was on earth but for a while, 
to make you glad to give a smile.
I must move on to other things, 
I'll try on my Angel's Wings.

Cry for me, if cry you must, 
But in God, place your trust.
Give a shout of joy and sing,
I will fly with my Angel's Wings! 

All those I love I've left behind 
To each other please be kind 
I sleep now with Christ our King 
I will soar with my Angel's Wings 

Goodbye, Aunt Carol. I love you, and I hope to see you again one day!

Monday, November 16, 2015

October/November Update!

Oh goodness, where shall I start this time?

Leading with the obvious, teaching is still going well, all things considered. I think it's normal for teachers to feel a little cynical/worn out by this time of year, which is convenient because that's essentially where I am. Overall, I'm settling into a pretty good pattern of balancing work things with, oh, I don't know, maybe actually having a life?! I'm starting to learn how to set boundaries with work and home. The biggest break-through I've had to date has been making the decision that, unless I have VERY good reason to, to leave work by 5 PM. Technically, we only have to be there until 3:30, but if you know anything about teachers, you know that most of them almost never leave "on time". Maybe this seems obvious to some, but I've found that that time of afternoon is when I'm at my most productive and when I'm the most awake, so I can generally accomplish quite a bit! If I leave then, I'm able to do good work and still have enough mental fuel left to come home and do a few things (i.e. cooking, dishes, laundry, relaxing...but not blogging...obviously). Planning for three different math classes is a bit of a stretch at times, but I'm making it work as well as I can.

Overall, I feel like working at my school has taught me quite a bit about how to be more self-reliant, especially when I'm the only full-time HS math teacher in the building. However, being the only full-time member of my department is a double-edged sword. Sometimes I find myself wanting more people who really get what I do who can give me more feedback. Other times, I enjoy not having to worry about stepping on other math teachers' toes with my methods. Give and take, I suppose. Maybe teaching isn't all that I thought it'd be, but it's still a good, fulfilling career.

Obviously, I haven't just been teaching over the last month or so...I do have a real life, I promise! One of the better things I've been able to do is attend a few OSU football games with Thomas and my St. John's friends!! By sheer luck, I was able to attend both the homecoming game (vs. KU) and the incredible TCU game a couple weeks ago. The TCU game was the most fun I've had in quite some time! The fact that we showed up and played so well in a high-stakes game made it lots of fun! I'm really looking forward to attending the Baylor game this coming weekend...now if the weather will cooperate and not be completely icky, that'll make everything even better! (Well, besides us winning...that'd DEFINITELY make things better!!!)
Homecoming game vs. KU
OSU vs. TCU!
Thomas's parents came up for the TCU game, so we were able to spend a good part of Saturday with them. We started early by going to Diana's (Thomas's mom) cousin's daughter's apartment in town for breakfast. This cousin also has a son who is a center on the football team, so it was fun for me to see that connection much better! (No, he didn't join us for breakfast...he had more important tasks at hand!) After breakfast, we meandered over to the St. John's tailgate lunch. Steve and Diana sat separately from Thomas and me during the game, but we reunited post game so we could go to supper. Because everything lined up so well, the four of us were able to meet my parents for dinner at El Vaquero (the BEST Mexican restaurant in Stilly). Mom had been wanting to go for almost a year, so we finally made that dream come true! Everyone had a GREAT time together, with lots of stories and laughter shared by all. Thomas and I both loved having our parents together with us...the fact that everyone meshed so well made it even better! What a blessing it is to have both sets of parents get along so well!
Me, Thomas, Diana, and Steve
Speaking of Thomas, he is currently in the thick of interviews and wrapping up his next-to-last semester of college. He is ready to graduate and be done, but I know it'll be here before he realizes it! His bigger job interviews are coming over the course of the next week, so please keep him in your prayers!!! :) I'm so proud of him and all the great work he's done this semester/throughout college, so I know he'll find a wonderful job! He definitely deserves it!!! Otherwise, we're edging up on one year of us dating, which is pretty surreal!! If you would've told me a year ago that I'd end up dating him, of all people, and being so deeply in love with him, I wouldn't have believed it. Yet, here I am, continually amazed by how wonderful he is and how great of a fit he is for me! God has blessed me SO MUCH! I can't wait to see what lies ahead of us, even with all of the challenges that life will throw at us. I'm certain that there's no one in the world I'd rather face those challenges with than Thomas!!!

In the midst of all of this, Jakub turned two...yes, we officially have another two-year-old on our hands, and he is very much in the thick of the Terrible Twos. But he's also really cute and funny, so that makes up for a lot of the frustration Jake can cause! :)
I love this crazy, sassy, sweet two-year-old!
This past weekend was fairly eventful in and of itself. I spent the bulk of Saturday at my old high school serving as a judge for a quiz bowl tournament. This was something that I did mostly because I love quiz bowl, but I realized how big of an honor it is to be asked back as a former player to judge. I had a blast, even in the couple of dicey moments! Even better, I was able to see my students play during both of their games! (I like to think they enjoyed seeing me there, too!) On Sunday, we gathered the whole family up to do something we've NEVER done since Gina and Emily have been married or had children--we had professional full-family pictures taken. The impetus for this was the fact that almost 4-year-old Cole noticed that there are literally no family pictures in existence that include him. Gina also realized that the same was true for Jakub. (#youngestkidprobs #storyofmylife) Thus, we called upon Gina's babysitter who is breaking into photography. We were a little nervous that the weather wouldn't hold out for us, as there was rain in the forecast, but we were fortunate that everything went well! Our picture location was in the midst of some trees around a creek near our houses, so we were also sheltered from most of the piercing winds! (As a fringe benefit, the boys were able to run around amid the trees and sticks...they were in heaven!) Afterwards, we loaded the memory card on Thomas's computer to get a sneak peek...the pictures were AWESOME!!!! I can't wait to have actual prints of them in a few weeks!!!

The best news I have now is that four school days are all that is separating me from a week-long Thanksgiving break!!! Hallelujah and happy day! I don't have any major plans for my break besides conquering some lesson planning (boring, I know) and resting a little bit. Christmas break (3-ish weeks after break) is looking a bit more exciting, as I have already purchased train tickets to go visit Dallas for a few days before Christmas! I think Thomas will be coming up around New Year's Eve, so we won't have a month apart like we did last year during the break! Here's hoping the weather will hold up all around so that these plans can come to pass!

I'm starting to fade quickly, so I'll cut it off here! Hope all is well wherever you may be!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Back at Last!

Yes, I'm still here and haven't been eaten alive by my students! The last few months (yes, months) have been a blur of all sorts of craziness and excitement. Believe it or not, as of next Tuesday, I will have been teaching for 9 weeks. One quarter of a school year has already passed. WOW. I could hem and haw about how it has been going for me, but I'll sum it up to say that I'm surviving. Some days I feel like I'm thriving, but those days aren't so frequent, if we're being honest. I'm perpetually up to my ears in lesson planning and/or grading. I have a limited social life, if any, and my "free time" is usually spent on work or sleep. For now, this is the new normal for me. 

My classes aren't too bad. There's really only one that is a bit of a challenge. I found out quickly that I do, in fact, have a teacher voice! My students are forever commenting on how uncanny it is that I can go from being cordial to calling out a student's behavior in nothing flat. I have to be more mean than I care to be in order to be taken seriously/respected by my students. I don't like being mean. I think my meanness was at peak level last week when I realized that students stole a box of rubber bands from the top of my desk and were using them to shoot paper hornets at each other. I promptly put an end to that by clipping the rubber bands and shredding their paper hornets to pieces. It was a bit brash, but I have found MUCH less evidence of hornets on my floor. I still don't like being mean. 

It turns out that my resting mean face has its perks as a teacher. Students making inappropriate comments are often tricked into thinking that I heard what they said just by looking at my face. Most of the time, I never hear what they say, but they don't know any better. That makes my life a little bit easier! Students also cuss...a LOT. They somehow forget that you're in the room and drop f-bombs, etc. galore. I'm pretty quick to put the nix on that. Last week, I told a student that she was a student in a classroom, not a sailor in a bar, so she needed to speak like one. Everyone else got a kick out of it, and I didn't hear any more cussing from her for the rest of the class period! You have to be quick-witted to be a teacher. 

Honestly, I have days where I feel like a mixture of all kinds of teachers from TV. Some days, I feel like Ms. Frizzle, teaching students the cool stuff about math and where it came from. Some days, I feel like Mr. Kotter, trying my darnedest to keep the Sweat Hogs in line. Some days I feel like Mr. Feeny, giving life advice to teenagers. Then I have the days where I feel like the Economics teacher from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", rambling on and on while my students nod off. No teacher is perfect, right? I always feel like I could do more and do better things, but such is life...

My students are particularly interested in my personal life, like what I do on the weekends (very little), if I have kids or am married (no, I don't), if I have a boyfriend (yes), how I met my boyfriend (at church in Stillwater), what church (the Catholic one), what my boyfriend does (he's still a student), what he's studying (agribusiness), if he's going to come to our school and replace their ag teacher who they don't like (no), or when my birthday is (none of their business). Yes, this was a conversation I had with one of my classes towards the beginning of the year! They're forever asking about Thomas and our weekend adventures. Heaven only knows what they'll ask after they see us at the football game tomorrow night!! 

This is really where my story takes off, with Thomas. He, along with my family, has been a rockstar since the beginning of the year! He is forever keeping me sane and laughing. He always does his best to help me keep a clear perspective! I still hate the fact that I only get to see him on the weekends, but I know that it could be much, much worse. He is currently in the thick of job searching, now that he is a senior. He has already interviewed with three different companies! It seems crazy to think that in seven months, he'll be in the adult world like me! It is wild to imagine that he'll be settling somewhere soon. I cannot say with any degree of certainty what the future will hold for us, although Thomas and I both have a few ideas of what we'd like to have happen, although that's really looking a decent while into the future. He is the highlight of every day and one of my best friends I've ever had. I love him so much! 

About three weeks ago, my family lost a great man, my beloved Uncle Joe. He was out riding his bicycle in the early evening and was hit by a car. It was very unexpected and quite tragic, but that's the way life goes sometimes. His funeral was a beautiful, Christ-filled remembrance of Uncle Joe's great life. I thought I'd have to miss school for the first time this year, but by some miracle (if you want to call it that) the water main in town broke, and school was canceled on the day of the funeral. Uncle Joe always had a sense of humor like that...I suppose he wanted me to be able to be fully present while I was there. Uncle Joe was always one of my favorite people in the world, especially among my dad's family. You see, being the youngest as I am, I was often overlooked/ignored by the majority of the family. I have had very few genuine conversations with most of my cousins. I don't really know most of my aunts and uncles that well. I never even met Grandpa Hladik, my cousin Todd (Uncle Joe & Aunt Genevieve's son who died in the late 80's), or my own sister. I come from a separate generation and I just don't identify with any of them. (I'm not trying to play the victim here, but experiencing this gets old after a while.) Uncle Joe was the one person who consistently talked to me, included me, and made me feel loved by my family. He invested in my life and he cared. He and Aunt Genevieve were some of the few people who attended my OSU graduation ceremony. I loved him dearly, and I know that I'll feel an emptiness the next time the family is together. Life goes on, though, and here we are, coming close to a month since he died. Until next time, Uncle Joe!

This will forever be one of my favorite pictures, taken at Grandma Hladik's house, circa 1995-ish. 
All kinds of other things have been happening, but I'll let some pictures suffice...

Over Labor Day weekend, Thomas took me to visit his family in Dallas. During our trip, he encouraged me to buy my first article of camouflage clothing so that I can go hunting with him at some point soon! I promise I'm wearing pants in this picture, but the shirt is a men's XL (per Thomas's direction)! I would've never guessed that I'd own camo, much less have any logical reason to own any, but love makes a person do crazy things, right?! 
 

We also attended the annual Czech festival in West, TX, while we were there! We got a fun photo op while we were there! It was a blast and a half!!! 

During the first OSU home game, I happened to be given a ticket from a friend at church, so I decided to surprise Thomas! It was such a great time to spend with him! I have to admit, there is nothing like attending an OSU game and having a cute boy in tow to put his arm around you during the Alma Mater at the end! :) 


Next week is my first go at Parent-Teacher conferences, so that should be exciting! Shortly after that, Thomas and I will be headed to Texas to spend the weekend with his great family! They really are wonderful people! If you could, please keep his family in your prayers, as Thomas's paternal grandmother is entering her final days of life. She is almost 87 (I think) and has lived a beautiful, love-filled life. It'll be hard on them no matter when it happens, no doubt. I've been there not too long ago, and I still feel the sting of death every day. Such is life, loss happens each day, and we never really heal. We merely learn to move forward so that we can make the most of our own life while it remains.

Have a great week, everyone! Here's hoping it won't be so long between posts next time!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

July Fun Times!

A good deal of fun stuff has happened since last time, where shall I start?

One of the bigger things that has happened since last time is that, on a whim, I decided to chop my hair off! I was going to grow it until it was long enough to donate, but that didn't happen this time. I was going to have a new stylist cut my hair for the first time, and I wanted to get the most bang for my buck! Also, I decided that I needed a hairstyle that looks a little more teacher-y.

Short hair!!!
Fun fact: I made this decision approximately 2 hours before my appointment! I shocked Thomas, as I told him that I was only getting my hair trimmed...in good news, he loves it! (Not that he really had much choice in the matter, but even so...) I'm happy with the new look and the fact that it only takes me about 5 minutes to fix it in the mornings! Woohoo!

At the beginning of the summer, Thomas decided that he wanted to take me out for a nice dinner in OKC. After the craziness of harvest was over, he finally made plans! Because I had never eaten hibachi before, he found a place in north OKC called Sakura that specialized in hibachi. It was a fun dining experience for both of us, and we easily left with enough food to feed a small army. After dinner, I needed to visit the Disney Store to get one of Andy's birthday presents, so we made our first trip to the outlet malls! While we were there, Thomas was able to get new earpieces for his Oakley sunglasses and I was able to find a new wallet at the Vera Bradley outlet. I also had to tear myself away from the Corelle store and all of their fun kitchen gadgets. When the outlet mall closed, it was only 9, and the night was young! We headed over to the Myriad Botanical Gardens for an evening stroll. We probably would have stayed longer had it not been so humid with tons of mosquitoes. Otherwise, it was beautiful and an oasis in the midst of downtown! (Fun fact: this was the 2nd botanical garden that we have visited together...I have a hunch this could be a tradition for us!)
Photo op in front of the Devon Tower!
We ended the night with a slight stroke of insanity when we decided to visit the Marble Slab in Bricktown at 10 PM on a Saturday night. I think everyone else in Bricktown had the same idea. Thank goodness, the 30-minute wait was worth it! After that, we decided to call it a night and headed back north. It was a perfect night out on the town...so worth it!

Most everything else I've done over the last few weeks has been school-related. I've completed lesson plans for the first chapter for every class, and I have tentatively mapped out everything for the first semester! I composed a syllabus for each class (mostly C&P work there!), a classroom diagram for seating charts, frameworks for notebook organization, grading rubrics for notebooks, and a few other documents that escape me at the moment. I've really accomplished a decent amount, but somehow, I feel like I'm forgetting something major! Really, those things have been pretty mundane, but I'm just happy to have made sizable progress! Also, I have made many trips up to my room to start getting things together and making it "my room". I'm slowly making progress, but I couldn't have done any of it without my mom, sisters, Thomas, or Liz! They've all been a huge help to me so far!!! Mom, my sisters, and Thomas all helped me organize the heck out of my classroom! (It was in dire need of it.) We rearranged a few things and I'm happy with how it has turned out. Liz was gracious enough to let me borrow her artistic skills to help me make a few posters! She made a few, then I also used Gina's Cricut to help me make a few more...so much fun! The posters have really helped to tie my room together a little bit more. I made a curtain for my window, so it won't look so sad and institutional, and I also made a few curtains to cover some bookshelves that were a little more chaotic than I cared to look at every day. It's all coming together so quickly! I've been able to talk with my co-workers more, which has been helpful. I also helped with pre-enrollment this past week, which allowed me to interact with a few students and parents. It was a big help for me to start being more teacher-y :) Yes, I'm still nervous about school starting, but I'm not that nervous about actually teaching. It'll be okay, right? Yes, it always is, even if it really isn't!
Check out the curtains :)
After spending 5-ish hours working in my classroom, Thomas and I went to Tonisha's family's annual pool party! We arrived at just the right time, it turned out. The party spanned from 1-11 PM to accommodate different groups, and we arrived a little bit before 7. Most of the crowd had thinned out, the sun was setting (sunscreen wasn't a major issue), and her dad was putting on a fresh batch of his famous catfish! It was perfect! I loved getting to spend some quality time with Tonisha, who I hadn't seen since my graduation party. As much as I love meeting new people, nothing beats talking to someone who has known you for most of your life. There's lots of comfort in that for me! I'm very blessed to have a best friend as wonderful as Tonisha!
So great to see Tonisha!!
Andrew and Jeremy have celebrated birthdays since last time. Andy turned 6 and Jeremy turned 39! e had a small cookout for Andy's birthday, complete with his favorite foods--cheeseburgers and chocolate cake! While it strikes me that Andy is now 6, it'll be a new story when Cody turns 11 in a few weeks. We're having another, slightly larger, celebration at the lake this weekend. Andy is ecstatic, along with everyone else. Here's hoping for more fun times!

Random fact: I bought a bike this week.
I've been contemplating buying one for the past year or so, and I finally did! The impetus for this is that I found my Freshman 15...or 20...during the tail-end of my senior year. Ugh. After telling myself all summer that I'll walk more, I realized that I didn't, because it was either ridiculously humid, the mosquitoes were too thick and loved me just a little too much (even with bug spray), or I was working on other things. On a related note, I'm great at making excuses and I love to eat delicious, rich food. Oops. That doesn't change the fact that my professional wardrobe is rapidly becoming snug on me, and I'm not about to throw down hundreds of dollars for new clothes when I could easily just change a couple habits and probably be okay. Oh, to be my high school self who ran miles upon miles without a second thought. (My knees don't like it when I run these days :(  Here's to the beginning of better fitness and making progress! I can do it!!!

Thursday was both a really good and a really not-so good day for me. In the not-so good part, Thomas went home after spending literally the entire summer with me. We had TONS of fun together and I'm really happy to have had the chance to spend so much time with him. I know it won't be that way for the foreseeable future, which makes me sad. As I'm sure you realize, I LOVE spending time with Thomas. He is the first man I've ever dated who has reciprocated this love of quality time. He goes out of his way to make sure that we have some form of quality time each day, even when we're apart, which consists of some combination of texting and phone calls. I can easily talk to him for hours on end without running out of things to say, as can he. He gets me in ways that very few people get me. We're scarily similar on so many of our viewpoints, opinions, life experiences, etc. If we aren't, we complement one another perfectly. I could go on and on about how crazy I am about Thomas, but I'll spare you for now. (That will be a post that happens in the near future, though!) I am so deeply, madly in love with him, and I'm so happy that I could at least spend the summer with him! With that being said, he also needed to have time at home with his family. They missed each other terribly and were excited to be reuniting! (I'm also grateful that his family is willing to share him with me :) )

A couple of hours after our goodbye, my dear friend Heather, the missionary from Florida, and I met up at long last! It had been a year since we had seen each other last, and even if we talked or texted often, it was still much-needed! We had a great afternoon/evening together and went on a few cool adventures! We started off by visiting the shrine and having an interesting conversation with a guy there (proof that timing is never an accident), visiting my classroom to hang up the rest of my posters, having gelato at Little Bit of Seattle (much needed at that point!), going to Walmart to buy ink cartridges, supper at Buffalo Wild Wings, and a quick drive by my old high school! It was a jam-packed time filled with joy, laughter, unexpected evangelization, and TONS of catching up! I'm beyond grateful for Heather's friendship, which has literally changed my life, and I can't wait to see what else she'll accomplish this year as a missionary! I'm so proud of her!
Picture with Mom :)
Fun fact: I've now been blogging for five years! That probably warrants a post of its own, but I don't have a ton of inspiration for it at the moment. Sometimes that happens, and it's okay. Even if my sparse posts don't reflect it, I love writing and hope to get better about writing more frequently this year! I've grown immensely in the past year, and I love being able to see my transitions through my writing!

I'll end it here for now! Here's hoping we can stay cool...it's a scorcher out there this weekend!