Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday News

I'm making it a goal to write more this summer to make up for rarely writing over the past few months! So far so good :)

I'm not going for a list with this post, just a random smattering of thoughts! Let's see what I've done lately!

After I moved my clothes home, I made a quick realization that I had WAAAAAY too many clothes in my closet that I don't wear anymore. I've been trying to make an effort at least once a year to reduce my "inventory", so to speak by donating clothes to local thrift stores. It's easy way for me to give my ten percent since I don't really have an income to speak of, and honestly, it makes me feel good to give to people who could really use these things. Last week, I was able to donate four large boxes of clothing to the local battered women's shelter. It was an awesome feeling, and I encourage everyone to do this simple act of charity!! You won't regret it!

Another highlight of last week was my cousin Evan's graduation! By some miracle, we had a reprieve from our monsoon season, and they were able to have the graduation and his after party outside. The weather was absolutely perfect! Thankfully, Evan was one of the earlier graduates, so we left right before the ceremony ended so we could leave without fighting off traffic from every way and make it over to Joe & Vickie's house! They had an awesome, Pinterest-perfect party for Evan, complete with a s'mores and popcorn bar, which are his two favorite snacks. Even better, the weather was just cool enough that the fire used for roasting marshmallows was perfect! In a bit of a last minute, slightly insane, decision, Mom and I decided to make some cake pops for part of Evan's gift. You see, Gina and Emily were sweet enough to make some for my party, which is when we discovered Evan's love for them. Thus, at 9:30 the night before graduation, Mom and I started the process. By 5:30 the next evening, we had a finished product :) Rumor has it that he LOVED them, so it wasn't a fruitless effort! Now, he is all enrolled to start his first year or so at NOC before transferring to OSU to pursue a degree in Landscape Design! I'm beyond proud of my awesome cousin!

The next day, I woke up and began my whirlwind weekend by packing my bags to go to the TEC retreat. Thomas also decided to help with the retreat, so he drove up that day to pick me up and head on to Tulsa. This was my third TEC retreat to be a part of, and it was probably the best experience I've had yet, with the exception of parts of the first retreat. (Okay, not that impressive in saying it, but still...) The first time I attended, I was what they call a candidate, or an attendee. The retreat is tailored around the candidates, and consists of reflections given by members of the leadership (called Resource members) and various times for personal prayer, along with free time to mingle with other candidates and lots of other fun surprises. Everything is taken care of for the candidates over the weekend (i.e. meals, wake-up calls, sleeping arrangements, etc.). Last time I helped, my role was what they call a Wheatie (there is an underlying theme of wheat to the retreat centering around John 12:24), which is more of a serving role. Wheaties do all of the behind-the-scenes work that makes everything run smoothly. It is SUPER exhausting and self-sacrificial, but totally worth it to see the transformation that occurs in the candidates. This time, I was a Resource member, which meant that I, along with another Resource member, led a table of 5 Candidates in discussion and generally just invested our time in them over the weekend. It was awesome to see how everyone came together and our ragtag group turned into a family, of sorts, in the course of three days. It was beautiful and warmed my heart in every way possible! Moreover, it was awesome to see just how God used me to accomplish some part of His plan by being there for my table members and sharing my life with them. I also gave a talk, which went much better than I thought it would. I was able to share a bit of my experience over the last few years in my quest to find love and realize the great love God has for all of us in the process. Giving this talk really brought a lot of meaning to all of the pain I've experienced in my quest for a good loving relationship, and generally helped me to use those painful situations for a greater purpose! God is good :)

Thomas and I drove back on Monday evening, and he knew that it'd be in his best interest to at least wait until at least the next day to drive back to Dallas so he could rest up a little bit. Well, after sitting around for a while yesterday, he really welcomed just being able to stay in one place for a little while, so he decided to stay an extra night and really rest up before heading back this afternoon. Obviously, I was happy to keep him here for another day! After spending most of the day doing very little besides eat and play Jenga, we made an impromptu trip to Enid to buy groceries for Mom. Even if that was all we did, I still loved having him with me for a little trip to town and going through Enid stores. We capped off the trip by stopping at Braum's to buy milk, and we picked out a few cartons of ice cream for after dinner. Thankfully we headed home when we did, because a hailstorm was headed to Enid and we narrowly missed it! After supper, I happened to still have a sleeve of Thin Mints left over (they're Thomas's favorite) and we made thin mint sundaes :) Not long after finishing the sundaes, the storm was catching up to us, so we frantically moved his car into the shed in case hail came with it. Naturally when we made this decision, it was POURING rain outside! (This always happens...Murphy's Law of Hailstorms, I suppose?) After coming in and drying off, I found another cool thing we have in common...we both love watching storms :) (This just keeps getting better and better!) So, we sat in my room (more window space/a better view) and watched the lightning was awesome! I love being able to enjoy the little things in life with Thomas :) He's pretty neat!

Today I bought a few new songs, something I haven't done in months. It was almost cathartic, as crazy as that sounds. My current favorite song is "Loving You Easy" by the Zac Brown Band...if you think you don't like country music, you should listen to it anyway. It's short, sweet, and fun to listen to :) I'm not sure how they did it, but they managed to channel some 70's funk and Motown in it. I'm obsessed. I also finally bought another interesting song, "Riptide " by Vance Joy. It's not new, but I love it. It has a really cool beat/sound, you should give it a listen :)

Last interesting thing: I found an awesome new pork chop recipe tonight that rocked our socks off! It was super easy and WAY tasty/tender. We were all getting bored with our usual way of making pork chops that left them dry and/or bland...not the case with this recipe! Basically, you dredge the chops with a seasoned flour, pan-fry them, saute some onions in the drippings, and create a gravy using the remaining flour and some milk, then bake it for an hour. I love it. Here's the link to the recipe :)

Lots of random fun stuff from the past week! Now, I'm resting up and getting ready to make my train trip to Dallas next week :) Have a great week!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ten on Tuesday!

I'm FINALLY able to pull my life together enough to make one of these, so here goes!

1. In what is obviously the most important part of this post, I am officially a proud alumna of Oklahoma State University!!! Hooray! After four years of hard work, many sleepless nights, and enough memories to fill a lifetime, I have a Bachelor's degree, and, even better, a job awaiting me! I'm beyond happy to be done with school, at least for the moment. Yes, I will be pursuing a Master's, just not sure when, where, or what program yet. I'm tempted to start whittling away at a degree within the next year, but I really want to be sure that I'm able to pour myself into my first year in the classroom, so that's the main reason I'm holding off right now...also, see my previous reasoning of not knowing where I want to pursue it and (most importantly) what program I want to complete. At the moment, I'm torn between finding a program strictly for secondary math or pursuing something more related to the special education career path. A Master's in SPED with a Bachelor's in Secondary Math Ed and Math would basically open up any job to me, seeing as both of which are HIGHLY sought-after degrees. We'll see where life takes me! :)

2. Of course, my graduation was punctuated by some random speed bump. The week leading up to graduation was filled with rain and severe weather all over the state, in typical early-May Oklahoma fashion. At the beginning of the week, our meteorologists forecasted a "severe weather event" of Brobdingnagian proportion, or something like that. They talked it up as if it would be the "be-all, end-all" of severe storms in the history of ever. (Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but so are our local weatherpeople these days, if you ask me...) So I really shouldn't have been too surprised when I received a call and email blast from OSU telling me that my previously-scheduled 9:30 AM graduation was moved to 8:00 AM because of the impending doom forecasted for that evening. I think this was God's way of keeping me from being too lazy on the day of my last event for my undergraduate career! Nonetheless, I had to remember who I sent invitations to and attempt to guess who might possibly try to attend the ceremony so I could inform everyone of the time change. I spent about an hour or so calling, texting, emailing, posting, and messaging to get people on the same page. Thankfully, I didn't receive any reports of family members or friends who arrived to graduation 1.5 hours too late, so I think I did a good job of informing people! The real shock was when I realized that I had to be on campus by 7 AM, which is just wonderful when you're not a morning person! Thomas and I ended up leaving my trailer around 6:15 AM, just to be safe. I left like a crazy woman, bringing a travel mug of coffee to slurp down so I could be alert, nail polish to paint my nails because I procrastinated hardcore on that part (and had already committed to it), and trying to ensure that I didn't forget some part of my regalia for the morning. Whew! It was a sprint, but it was all worth it in the end :)

3. Besides walking the big stage, the best part of my celebration was the party my parents had for me that night! Because of the aforementioned rain, we were a little bit leery of who would show up for the party since basically all of the surrounding roads were in deplorable condition. Thanks to lots of divine intervention, we received almost no rain on Saturday, so while the roads were still sticky and gross, they were at least passable! Praise God!!! As it turned out, we had loads of people come over to celebrate with us! It warmed my heart to see so many people who wanted to wish me well! Being the youngest and never really having many opportunities to celebrate events in my life with massive amounts of people, this was still mostly uncharted territory for me! Some highlights of the evening were getting to see Tonisha, who so sweetly drove in from Wichita for the event! Thomas's parents drove up from Dallas just for this, which meant that our families were finally able to meet for the first time! I'm overjoyed to report that everyone got along smashingly and cannot wait for the next time we can all get together! To cap things off, three of my dear St. John's friends, Roz, Andrea, and Maria, all came over! They LOVED being out in the country and took loads of pictures of the scenery. There's something about seeing all of the people I love most all together in one place, mixing, mingling, and hitting it off that makes my heart happy! Side note: My family (and Thomas) were the real MVPs of that weekend. They worked tirelessly to prepare food, clean, AND leave at 6:00 AM to make it to my graduation ceremony all whilst dealing with muddy roads, last-second changes, and a backed-up sewer at Mom & Dad's. They rock. I love them immensely and couldn't have made it without any of them! They are seriously the best, ever! I couldn't have asked for a more awesome celebration!

4. One of the highlights from last week was that I was asked to come visit my future classroom and meet a few students/learn their favorite activities. It was an interesting day, to say the least, and perhaps a bit of a reality check. I'm really old enough to teach high schoolers. Also, it is going to be a huge transition for many students. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I probably won't be well-liked at first by many students, if only because I'm a new face and a drastic change from what they (and their families) are used to. I'm building thick skin now, because there are LOTS of changes in store, and I'm anticipating lots of backlash in some form or another. (Note: The changes I'm making aren't anything controversial, just different from what everyone has grown used to.) In some regards, this is a downside to replacing a retiring teacher. This is a hard thing for me to cope with, because I'm a people-pleaser, and I constantly seek to be well-liked by those around me. I know that I won't be universally liked as a teacher, and a math teacher at that. Even so, this will be a transition for me as well. People never talk about this side of teaching, but I'm certain that God has called me here, so I'm trying to not be too premature with my assessment of everything. God will carry me through this transition, so here goes!

5. Let's talk about something a little more positive, why don't we? Guess what Thomas is doing this summer? In a total fluke, he got a job in Hennessey! It came down to the wire, but he received notice of this opening through a mass email from a professor. On a whim, he inquired about the position and was hired on the spot! It was a huge relief to him, and it was welcome news to me! I'm ecstatic to have him nearby this summer and go on fun adventures with him! I can't wait!!! Even better, he will get to stay at Mimi's now-vacant house, which totally trumped his prior plans to live in a dorm on campus and commute every day. I say this all the time, but seriously guys, God is so good! It has been amazing to see how he has provided for me and all of my loved ones so generously! I'm also excited for him to get a better look at the place that has been such a huge piece of my life! Thanks be to God from whom all blessings flow!

6. So what are you up to this summer, Amanda? For once in my life, I have plans to visit a few places and do a few things! This will be my first summer in at least four years that I haven't had a "job", and I'm so excited! Granted, I have tons to do to prepare for teaching, but I can't really progress much on that stuff until I get my classroom keys/sign my contract/receive my teaching certificate in late June. Thus, I have a few weeks that I don't feel quite so pressured to be doing school things yet! My first trip that I'm planning is to travel down to Dallas for a few days to get to be with Thomas's family. I love the fact that Thomas is practically a fixture in my family, but I don't want his family to feel neglected AND I want to continue to build a great relationship with them. In a fun twist, instead of willing my almost twenty-year-old pickup to drive to Dallas and bracing my nerves to deal with the stress of navigating Dallas on my own, I'm taking a train down there and riding home with Thomas, who will be coming back then! I've never traveled via train, but I'm excited to do so! The other exciting thing on my agenda for this summer is a trip to Omaha with the long-lost Rebecca, who has been studying abroad in France this past semester! We're going to Omaha for my graduation present, tickets to an Imagine Dragons concert, one of my favorite bands!!! I'm pumped! It'll be a very short trip, basically there and back, but I'm still excited to visit another new place with one of my best friends!

7. This weekend I have the pleasure of getting to be a small-group leader for the TEC retreat! This will be my third time to be a part of this retreat, and my first to hold a leadership position, of sorts. The TEC retreat has had such a big impact on my faith life over the past 1.5 years, so I'm excited to be able to give back to it! Another highlight will be the fact that I'm giving a talk at the retreat about love in the context of the Holy Trinity. I think my talk has turned out well, and I'm praying that it'll be good for those attending, too!

8. As I mentioned previously, I'm now in the transition time of getting myself physically and mentally prepared for this school year, which means that I have tons of lesson planning awaiting me, along with deciding how I want to run my classroom, how I want to take grades, and how I want to organize/set up everything. I have lots to do, but I'm trying to keep all stress at bay!

9. Here's some awesome fun news: I sold my trailer that I've lived in for the last 2 years! Even better, I sold it to Gina and Jeremy, so I can take my time moving some stuff out and leave most everything else there, like dishes, non-perishable food, the TV, etc. This was a HUGE and welcome relief, as I hadn't received many serious offers after having it on the market for almost a month. I am so happy at how this played out! Once again, see my thankfulness for God's providence! I'm incredibly blessed!

10. The last bit of fun, much more random news is that I'm going to buy myself a new pair of glasses this summer! I need a new lens prescription in my current frames, and I've come to the realization that they just don't work as well for me as they originally did. I say this because I am horribly near-sighted and the lenses are a little too narrow for current needs and leave me with more blind area than I'd really care to have. Thankfully, larger frames are in vogue, so it shouldn't be too difficult to come across a nice pair of stylish frames that fit and suit me well. (Honestly, I really could care less if they are in style or not because I've already decided that that's what I want. Even so...) I'm hoping that once I get my new frames with updated lenses, I'll actually want to wear my glasses more often than I currently do, which is almost never! Here's hoping, and here's to this summer!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My College Experience in Memes!

Now that I'm at the tail-end of my college career, I thought it would be fun to relive some of the best (and worst) memories from my classes in my favorite format: memes! Obviously, they might not all make sense if you didn't know the context, but I thought this would be the best way to commemorate my experience! Note: This is all in good fun, and no harm is meant toward anyone!

Freshman Year:
Remember how I was crazy ambitious and took Calculus as two five-hour courses that met literally every day? I sure do. Not fun times, but then again, I'd gladly go back to computational math that I knew how to do! Of course, that wasn't how everyone viewed it, so here's my advice...

Here's a throwback to my first semester of college when I took two math classes at once and thought my world was going to end. I also (naively) thought that I would never be faced with the "horror" of having to take multiple math classes in a semester ever again..oh, silly Freshman Amanda, if only you knew!

Another memory of Freshman year:

Sophomore Year:
When I was trying to think of highlights from my Sophomore year of college, I was plagued by memories of taking tests in my Physics class. That was one of the first classes I really had to work in. No matter how much I worked, I could never seem to get an A on any test in that class, which was all I had to worry about at that point in life, so in reality, everything was much better than I put it out to be! Ultimately, my hard work paid off and I earned an A on the final...I've never been so ecstatic in my life!!!

I actually found myself in this situation more times than I care to admit...

I still remember the days when it was useful to have a note card on a test. There was a guy in my Differential Equations class who would spend hours crafting the perfect note card...he even filed down his pencil lead to achieve optimum spacing...the finished result usually looked something like this:
Hahaha!! I had a friend in Calc class who made notecards like this before every test!

Junior Year:
Once I transferred to OSU, I realized that a LOT of people want to know where you're from and that literally NO ONE knows where Douglas is. I finally resorted to saying that I grew up near Enid, because people might actually know where that is...unless they're not even from Oklahoma or the US, in which case I resorted to telling them that I grew up an hour west of Stillwater. All in all, it was a little bit frustrating/tedious at times!

That was my biggest/only problem during my first semester here. The spring semester brought about the onslaught of upper level math classes that made me want to gouge my eyes out rethink my life choices. Here's a smattering of emotions I and my compadres felt during this semester. 

Homework took on a new meaning...rarely did I think that finishing an assignment would be worthy of celebrations, but with these classes, it DEFINITELY did!

I also made the sad realization that this wasn't really an option anymore if I wanted a shot at making good grades!

During our Intro to Modern Algebra course, we learned this lesson the hard way:
youre gonna have a bad time meme - if you skip dr. fili's  office hours  you're gonna have a bad time

The next biggest struggle of Modern Algebra was taking notes...
Unhelpful High School Teacher - wants you to take notes terrible handwriting

Unhelpful High School Teacher - wants you to take notes stands in front of board

Unhelpful High School Teacher - wants you to take notes writes at the speed of light

We also had to redefine the word "fun", as our professor so often used that word to describe our assignments...

We learned the sad reality that is proving an "if and only if"'s not fun at all!

I felt almost the same way about lemmas...

Honestly, proof writing really wasn't all it was cracked up to be after a while:

We had our first Methods class, which generally worked about like this...
drew carey whose line is it anyway - welcome to methods class where the grades are made up and everyone gets an A

Every time we visited our advisor, she'd always promise us that better times and easier classes were ahead...obviously we were pretty skeptical.
Skeptical 3rd World Kid - so you're telling me  it does get bettter?

Even with all of the downsides, there were a couple of perks to be had, like this obvious gem:

...and this classic perk:

Senior Year:
The hard math classes still continued, so here's more memes commemorating our misery:

This sage advice...
Bad Advice Mallard - struggling in a math class? skip it
(I don't actually condone this advice.)
Did I mention that our homework was difficult?
aaaaaaaaaaaand it's gone - i had motivation to do homework

But every once in a while, I'd be on top of things, only to have this happen...

Pepperidge Farm Remembers Meme - remember when math classes were easy? pepperidge farm remembers

Reminder, everyone: Just because your professor has a doctorate in math, that doesn't mean they're perfect...

Both of these things happened regularly...
This also was a common occurrence for me towards the end of each semester!
Real Life. 
In between crazy math classes, I found a little time for a new hobby :)
sweet brown i got time for that - wine tasting class? I got time for that

Eventually, we arrived at our final semester: student teaching. The biggest challenge from this semester was completing the edTPA. I think this sums up my feelings on it:
Yeah that'd be great... - yeah, if the edtpa could just go away,  that'd be great

In the end, I can't complain too much...I accomplished one of my biggest goals in life (becoming a teacher), I've made amazing friends along the way, and I've had lots of laughs! I can't complain too much (even though it seems like that's all I did in this post!)...all in all, I'm incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to attend OSU! Go Pokes!!!

Spongebob -  #mathmagic

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Rest of My Semester!

I am officially awful at maintaining my blog this semester. I'm also too stubborn persistent to give it up just because my life is chaotic, so you're left with minimal posts that span literally months of my life's happenings! I should have known better when I left my previous post with a Part I in it. Part II just didn't happen. It never happens. It's life. The good news is that you're only going to get the highlights of everything that happened instead of the detailed play-by-play, so here goes!

I spent inordinate amounts of time being consumed with teacher stuff. Student teaching was incredibly busy, and sometimes I'm not even sure how I did it and kept my sanity! I hated keeping up with all of the not-so-little things OSU made us do while keeping up with our classroom. I really, really hate it. I felt like it generally a waste of my time and energy, but it was what I had do to graduate and be certified, so I moved on with life. While I hated most of those things, what I really loved were my students! They're equal parts crazy and sassy, but I loved them so much! They made all of the late nights up grading, lesson planning, and juggling all of my obligations worth it. They were wonderful, even on the days when they weren't quite so wonderful ;) They were easily the best part of this semester, and I consider myself blessed to have been able to be a part of their lives and learning experience for this semester! In the same vein, I greatly appreciate and respect my cooperating teacher! She is awesome and continually sought to help me grow to be the best teacher I could possibly be! (Yes, there was some tough love in there at times, but it was ultimately for the best!) I've said it before, but it bears repeating: good teachers make teaching look easy. My CT is the best example of this statement...she is wonderful, and I am blessed to have been under her tutelage!

In one week, I will graduate! I am becoming increasingly excited...senioritis hit right around spring break, which made it hard for me to stay motivated to complete anything! On an even more exciting note, I have a plan for after graduation and a pretty good one, at that! I have a job!!! Through what I can only describe as divine providence, a family friend from church is retiring after over thirty, maybe even forty years of teaching high school math. She called me on the the day she was submitting her retirement to the school board and gave me her principal's number to call if I was interested in her position! I'm happy to report that I will be the newest faculty member at Waukomis High School!!! I never would have guessed that I'd end up there, of all places (they were our biggest rival in high school), but I couldn't imagine a better place to begin my teaching career!!! I am beyond blessed to have this opportunity! After I graduate, I'll have an opportunity to sit in on classes and get to know my students a little bit before next year! All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better place to land for next year! Even better, I'll get to be back with my family all the time and watch my nephews grow up! Thomas is incredibly supportive of my career choice, too, and can't wait to get to experience a taste of small-town Oklahoma life whenever he's able to visit! (He still has one year left of school.)

Naturally, this brings me to the next topic: my beloved Thomas :) I don't know where to start in talking about him, because he has been such a HUGE part of this semester for me, in the best way possible!! He kept me sane, accountable, and laughing/smiling, all of which were VERY important things this semester! There were a few moments at the beginning of student teaching when I wondered why, of all times in my college career, when I seemingly had the least amount of extra time, that God decided to give me a boyfriend. (Hear me out!) I mean seriously, I had been waiting, praying, hoping, trying my hand at plenty of relationships that went nowhere fast, and waiting even more for a span of two years. (I know that that's not that long, but still!) Then, God trusted me to maintain a relationship with a man when I felt like I didn't even have time to eat a normal supper, when I had loads of free time in every other semester of my life?!?!?! Well, joke's on me. I have come to realize just how much I have really needed someone more this semester than in any other, and he has been a true Godsend! I have no idea how I could have even tried to conquer this semester without Thomas! He helped me with any and everything I could possibly need help on, he was a GREAT sounding board for ideas, he let me vent like a crazy lady, he was my shoulder to cry on when I felt like I sucked at life and should rethink every life choice I had made to date, he encouraged me, he prayed for me, and he helped me to know when to take a break and stop thinking about school for even ten minutes! I could go on and on about this amazing man...believe me, I'm just scratching the surface here!!! Words cannot express how grateful I am for this amazing man and how humbled I am that God sent him to me at the absolute perfect moment in my life!

I don't know if I've ever written about this, but he met my family at the end of January and has basically been a fixture with us ever since! He fits in really well, like scarily well, and everyone loves him! My nephews (with the exception of Andy at first) adore him and constantly ask where he is whenever I come home without him! Yeah, Andy was not exactly fond of him at first and wouldn't even talk to him until the third time they met. (I think he was being protective or guarding his heart, I'm not sure which.) However, now they're great pals :) Cole and Kyle have especially taken to him! Cole is always our shadow when we're at Mom and Dad's house, which I don't mind at all! Honestly, having my nephews around with us reminds me quite a bit of whenever I would tag along with Gina and Jeremy or Scotty and Emily when they were dating/engaged and is possibly a bit of payback at times, but I wouldn't have it any other way! I love seeing everyone really makes my heart burst with joy! As time has passed, Thomas has also met Liz's family, various aunts, uncles, and cousins, and Tonisha! As of yet, all have approved of him! (I don't know why they wouldn't, but I'm pretty biased in the matter!)
Here's a great shot of Thomas and Cole, while Cole was pretending to drive the Kubota RTV :)

I've even had the opportunity to meet his family! Over spring break, he brought me down to Dallas for a few days to celebrate his birthday with his family and visit all of his favorite hometown places! Highlights of the trip were, of course, his birthday party, attending one of his sister's (Elizabeth) softball games, eating at his favorite restaurant (Love and War in Texas), taking pictures in their neighborhood park, walking around his high school campus, visiting his grandparents' cabin, and getting to know his parents and sister just a little bit better! Another related highlight for me was celebrating Ultimate Pi Day by getting pictures in front of the Texas Instruments headquarters and factory! :) He's truly a gem! Here's some pictures of the fun times that ensued!
Me at TI Headquarters on Pi Day, with my Pi Day t-shirt, wearing my math TOMS...math nerd heaven!!!

The beautiful neighborhood park we visited after Mass, hence the fancy clothes :)

The cabin, in all it's glory!

Thomas practicing his crossbow skills at the cabin!
We also celebrated each other's birthdays, as Thomas turned 21, and I turned 22! His birthday coincided with our celebration of dating for 3 months, so we super celebrated with supper at El Vaquero, our favorite Mexican restaurant in town and a celebratory trip to Finnegan's afterward! For my birthday, Thomas came home from break early and stayed over at Mom and Dad's so we could get a jump start on my birthday celebrations! Unfortunately, I woke up feeling crummy and didn't really feel well until late in the afternoon, so that put a damper on our original plans to go to a shooting range. The good news is that I live on a farm and there are lots of flat, cattle-less spaces in which you can do a little bit of target practice, so we made our own fun! We ended the evening by ordering chicken from Rooster's in Hennessey and celebrating with the whole family! It was a great night and a great birthday!!! 
Birthday sombrero and sopapilla :)
Obligatory Finnegan's 21st Birthday picture :)
(This is literally the third picture of its kind that I have!)
Celebrating with great friends!!!
L-R: Mari, Me, Sara, Thomas
Happy 22nd Birthday to me! :)
Also, here's a random picture that was taken sometime after Valentine's Day that I really like!
Golly, I love this man :)
So, I'm filling this post with lots of great pictures and happy thoughts because I'm leading up to the not-so-great part of what has happened in my life since I last posted.

Many of you know, but for those who haven't heard, my beloved Mimi passed away on March 26th. It seems weird to realize that a month has already passed since her death, because it still feels like it was yesterday. We knew it was coming, as she had fought a long, hard battle since January. As mentioned before, she did indeed have a compression fracture in her L6 region of vertebrae. The only way her doctors said she could heal was with bedrest, which entailed her being placed in a nursing home, much to her chagrin. I mean, she was willing to go, but she wanted to go home the whole time. After being in the nursing home for about 3 weeks, she had a stroke, which she never really recovered from. It greatly affected her speech, and left her almost incapable of speaking coherently. Most of the time when she spoke, it was in random letters or broken Czech. (She hadn't spoke Czech in MANY years and claimed she forgot it after her stroke 2 years ago.) Every once in a while, she'd come through with coherent English, but those times became fewer and fewer. Mostly, she laid in her hospital bed, moaning and writhing in pain, most likely wishing for death to come. Ultimately, she ended up returning to the nursing home with hospice care for a little less than a week before she passed away. Really, her funeral was a beautiful celebration of her beautiful life...I couldn't have asked for a better way to pay tribute to her. In the time since, I've found myself at various stages of the grieving process. Some days are just fine, but there are still days where I feel the sting of her death. I know she's where she's supposed to be, but I find myself feeling selfish and wishing she were physically here to see me graduate or to spend more time getting to know Thomas.

In case you were wondering, yes, Thomas was able to meet Mimi and see her multiple times before she died. His first time meeting her was just before she went to the nursing home initially, and they had a beautiful conversation. Many of the times he saw her after that were less than ideal for conversation, as most of them consisted of her time after the stroke. Ultimately, I can't become too hung up on this, as I knew with all of my heart that Mimi loved Thomas just as much as I do, if not more. His presence alone was instrumental in the last few weeks of her life. So many times, he was willing to drop everything on a school night and accompany me to Enid to visit her for a short while, which was an intense journey in and of itself. These trips consisted of late nights, forcing me to pause and eat a decent meal, consoling me as I sobbed uncontrollably, and pushing me to get a little bit of sleep so I wouldn't be useless the next day at school. He was my rock and helped me to survive the last week's of Mimi's life. He was over immediately after I called him when Mimi died, because he didn't want me to be alone since I couldn't be with my family right away. Like I said before, he truly was a Godsend this semester. God had to have known that I needed someone to specifically be there for me when Mimi died, and I'm eternally grateful for all that he did for me and my family in the days following her death.

Other highlights of the last few months were celebrating Easter with my family, during which time Thomas was able to experience Scheiber's Donuts in Enid for the very first time! (He LOVES them and is already ready to go back!) I had lots of fun teaching my Pre-Calc students how to make clinometers and using them to measure heights of buildings on their campus! Another fun thing I did regarding student teaching was attending their prom! It was my first time attending a prom, or really a dance in general, as a responsible adult, so that posed a bit of culture shock for me. Thankfully, I had Thomas with me (of course :) ), so I had lots of fun! We dazzled my students with our Macarena skills and felt a little bit old as we realized that the song "Yeah" by Usher is over ten years old and could be considered a throwback. The song literally came out when my students were 5-7 years old! Sheesh! Nonetheless, it was a great time, and Thomas had much more fun than I anticipated! I enjoyed seeing my students all dressed up and snazzy, and they were excited to see me and Thomas there!

A bit of a tangential point here, my students were oddly fascinated with Thomas. I was often asked if I had a boyfriend, and once they saw him with me earlier in the semester, one student asked if he was my "lover", while another student asked if he was my "bae". (Thomas shut down the bae question, as he despises that word and said that he was my boyfriend :) ) After prom, another student told me he was hot and that we were cute together. I really had no comment for that one! I've also started encountering students out and about around town, which still feels a bit awkward for me. I'm sure I'll embrace it as my career goes on. It will take some getting used to, though!

On my final day of student teaching, my cooperating teacher had my students write me encouraging farewell notes, all of which were really sweet! It was awesome and heartwarming to know that my students actually enjoyed having me there and that I had made at least a minuscule impact on their lives this semester! One of my Algebra II classes even threw me a party, complete with donuts and Dr. Pepper! It warmed my heart to know that my students were willing to spend their own money on a party for the time I left school that day, my heart was full to the brim with love! It was a wonderful last day to an overall great semester!

Starting tomorrow, I begin my last official week of college and I have my very first finals week that contains absolutely NO finals :) It's a huge relief, to say the least! Tomorrow is the baccalaureate Mass at St. John's, Monday is a cookout for all of the math student teachers (hosted by our sweet supervisor and her husband), and Tuesday is our last meeting as a large group. Of course, Saturday is graduation :) Thankfully we have the first of the three ceremonies of the day, which leaves the remainder of the day to celebrate! As of now, there's a big celebration planned at Mom & Dad's that evening for those who want to celebrate all day with us, or for those who don't want to fight the crowds in Stillwater or wake up early but still celebrate a little bit! Dad is planning on putting pork loins on the rotisserie, so I'm sure that'll be wonderful! Even though I've been pushed to the brim this semester, I am proud to know that I've handily survived ALL of the challenges that have been placed in my life! I couldn't have done it without lots of support from my loved ones, TONS of Divine intercession, and the desire to fulfill my lifelong dream!

Here's hoping I'll get back to posting regularly! I've really missed it!