Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Springtime News

Here I am, faithful readers! Back with lots of stories!

On the work front, I can't believe that we are a mere 22 days (and counting) from the end of the year! Wow! I am 22 days from no longer being a first-year teacher, which makes me happy to know that I have actually survived a year doing this! They say the first year is the toughest...I can definitely attest to that! The last few weeks haven't been anything too exciting. About the most exciting thing I've done in my classroom was have the Geometry students make tessellation posters right before spring break. All in all, it was a pretty big success. As a bonus, I now have nice-looking posters decorating my classroom! I also had parent-teacher conferences, which were fairly uneventful. Ever since, it's been a blur of putting in the work on our final chapters and prep work for the EOI (End-of-Instruction) tests, which will begin for my students next week, ready or not. I hate having to put pressure on my students for this kind of test, but we make the best of it and move on. If you don't live in Oklahoma or don't watch the news, or maybe just haven't been following it, the Oklahoma legislators have been wreaking nine kinds of havoc on our already awful education system. There have been bills written that wanted to give districts more "local control" by giving them the option to do away with background checks, certified teachers, a minimum pay scale, and so many other things. Essentially, this would de-value a college teaching degree and the professionalism of the field. Oh well, it's not like Oklahoma kids need to receive a quality education from someone who knows what they're doing...oh wait, we're already 49th, maybe 50th in the nation by now, in terms of our public education system. Enough already!!! (Aside: This IS an election year and all of our house representatives are up for re-election...do your research, folks!) There have also been massive budget cuts, which has left my district with the decision to go to a four-day school week next year. Non-teacher Amanda loves the idea of having a three-day weekend always, while teacher Amanda wonders how on earth I'll get everything done!! Que sera, sera, huh...

Let's talk about something happier, shall we?

I've had lots of good adventures with my future in-laws since last post. About halfway through spring break, I took the train down to Dallas to spend some time with them. We had lots of fun together! Some highlights included watching one of Elizabeth's softball games, taking lunch to Elizabeth at school and touring her school, touring Thomas's alma mater (Jesuit Dallas), and having a big March birthday party! I was unexpectedly showered with gifts from everyone! I'm not used to making a huge deal over my birthday, so it was kind of nice! We also made a trip up to the family cabin, which is currently in the process of being sold. You see, Thomas's maternal grandmother passed away last October, and the siblings have opted to sell the property. Because they're selling it, it became important to start clearing it out. As it turns out, Thomas is going to greatly reap the benefits of this in a way. Since he'll be moving to Arkansas in a couple months, he is in need of furniture for his apartment. As it stands, he'll be able to essentially furnish his apartment with things from the cabin! It is bittersweet, because the cabin is dear to them all, but I know that Thomas's grandparents would be happy to know that they were able to help give Thomas one of the best graduation presents he could receive! By effect, I'll also be able to make use of most, if not all, of Thomas's soon-to-be furniture, since it'll probably all be in the picture in the first few years (maybe even the entirety, who knows) of our marriage. I sure appreciate it!

Speaking of graduations, Thomas will be graduating from OSU in 3.5 weeks! I know he's pretty excited to be done with school! About three weeks later, Elizabeth will graduate from high school. At the end of that week, Thomas will make the big move to Arkansas. It'll be a busy, busy month for his family, chock-full of lots of change. So life goes...

Onward to wedding news!

Steve and Diana came up to visit this past weekend to get better acquainted with Enid and potentially pick out a hotel for everyone to stay in during the wedding weekend. Also, they wanted to brainstorm ideas for the rehearsal dinner, since they're not familiar with what Enid has to offer. My parents, Thomas, and I met up with them last Friday. We left them to look over the hotels, since they would be the ones staying there and having the better part of their guests accommodated there. We met up to have a great lunch at Panevino, which is currently a front-runner for them. After lunch, we ventured Bison-ward to look over the church and hall, so that they understood what everything looked like. We ended the evening by having them over for a steak dinner and lots of laughs! On Saturday morning, Thomas and I met them for breakfast at Schieber's, the amazing doughnut place in Enid! They were instant fans! :) From there, we went our separate ways, as they headed back to Texas. It was great to have them up here! I'm forever grateful for the great bond that our families have forged thus far! I know that it'll serve Thomas and I well as we go on together!

I think we've decided on what we're doing for our centerpieces at the reception! Gina's sister-in-law was married last weekend and used water beads in her centerpieces. They also crafted roses out of foam sheets that they suspended in the beads. Gina told me all about it initially, and I was not very enthused about it...until I saw what everything looked like. I actually REALLY liked the way it looked, so I think we're going to adapt that idea to fit my vision. As another aside, I should mention that there are six weddings that Thomas and I will be attending before our wedding rolls around...we are using each as a learning experience to pick up ideas we like and thoughts on what we want to avoid. At Gina's SIL's wedding, we picked up a thought on something to avoid. The water beads that we loved so much ended up being used as projectiles. If the reception hadn't been outdoors, I may very well have broken out my teacher voice so that no one slipped on a bead. (They dissolved when stepping on them, but even so.) This led us to realization #1: If we use water beads in our centerpieces, the container holding them will have a lid so that no one gets any wild ideas of tampering with them. We have another wedding this weekend, Emily's sister-in-law, as it turns out! I can't wait to see what we pick up there!

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, it was the first Monday back from spring break. Ick. The end of the day was good, though! I was able to celebrate with my family and Thomas! It was a good day after all! I have another year of life to be grateful for! Just this past Sunday, Emily also celebrated her birthday! We had a nice cookout in the shed, complete with a lemon cake that I made from a new recipe! It was absolutely delicious and easy! Here is a link to my pin of the recipe!

Easter also came and went pretty quickly! We had a simple celebration here on the farm. Dad and Thomas made brisket and chicken for lunch, which was absolutely AMAZING!!! We had multiple egg hunts. Since the boys are getting older, we expanded the egg hunt to span my parents' entire yard, not just around the perimeter of the house. After the boys hunted their eggs, they hid them for us adults to find! We repeated this a couple of times until we beat the egg hunt to death and everyone was sufficiently tired out!

My nephews are growing like mad. I think Cody is in the process of hitting a huge growth spurt. The other day, after a particularly rough day of teaching, I came home and was greeted by Wyatt, who hugged me and told me that he was excited to see me. I live for these little moments! As of late, Cole and Jakub have been in love with Thomas. I love seeing him bond with them, especially since they won't have many (if any) memories without him as they grow up. Thomas is still Cole's "best pal", just FYI...I think he has surpassed me in terms of popularity with the younger boys!

I'll end the post with pictures from all of these adventures! Heaven knows there are plenty more to come! :)
Ye Olde Butcher Shop in Plano, TX
Thomas's family has their venison processed here...their buffalo burgers are incredible!
Post-Easter Vigil selfie :)
Wedding date Easter egg :)
Mom will probably kill me for posting this, but I love this picture a lot!
Cody had some interesting egg designs (see blue egg with "eggs" written on it...)
Thomas playing pool with the boys!
Selfie with Jakub at the wedding from this past weekend!
Gina made this wedding cake! Isn't she awesome?!?!
The orange rose in the vase is the inspiration for the centerpieces :)
Thomas with his little buddies...be still, my beating heart!
Happy Birthday, Emily!!! :)
Selfie at wedding #1, with my hot date!
Hope all is well for you, wherever you may be! Happy spring!