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!