Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ten on Tuesday!

I promised that I'd get better at posting this summer, so here goes!

1. I have been overtaken with excitement to work on wedding planning! I love getting to have a place to document progress on this front, but I also want to leave a bit of mystery, just because. With that in mind, bear with me over the next year when I'm being vague on certain details! Dad suggested that I call one of his postal customers to see if she would be interested in making our cake. Everyone has been pleasantly surprised with her proposed price, so we're thinking we might just go with her. I also spoke with a few other businesses about some food and flowers, and I'm starting to make progress. Woohoo!

2. One theme that is starting to show itself as we get deeper into wedding planning is my tendency to opt to patronize small, local businesses whenever and however possible. If we have businesses right here that are perfectly capable of providing us with the products we're wanting with superior customer service, why wouldn't we use them? Besides, supporting small businesses means supporting an individual's livelihood, not contributing to a CEO's retirement fund. Here's to going local!

3. Last Friday, my mom, Aunt Pat, and I spent some time at Mimi's going through a few things. Among other things, we found an old postcard to Mimi from Grandpa Rudy when he was drafted for WWII, the program from her high school graduation, her award for excellent attendance, a copy of the Hennessey Clipper commemorating her graduating class (in which she wrote an excellent article about her classmates), and pamphlets from various colleges she visited. I was in heaven seeing all of those things!

4. Last week, the Moody family was off camping, so we spent a little more time with the Mattson family. One of the evenings we were over with them, Gina's boys realized that their cat, Fluffy, had kittens! I don't think I've seen Andy that excited in a VERY long time! The rest of the evening was filled with the boys excitedly sprinting in and out of the house sharing the newest details of their kittens. Unfortunately, I think one or two may have met their demise, as is usual for farm kittens. Such is life!

5. Last Saturday, a neighbor of ours invited us over for a cookout at his house. There was lots of delicious smoked meat to be had! Honestly, I wasn't all that excited about going, especially since Thomas isn't here right now. I've had to get better about not constantly moping around when he isn't here, so I decided to join my parents. Usually I end up spending the evening glued to my mom's side talking to her or her friends. (I've never liked talking to people my own age in these situations.) I ended up talking with the girlfriend of one of our good family friends. She is from Tulsa, and, as it turns out, we're both acquainted with the same group of people, who I know from the TEC retreat! I love seeing how small the world is! Needless to say, we spent a good part of the evening chatting, and I was VERY happy that I decided to go!

6. On Sunday, I was nominated by my mom to help my dad plant about 5 acres of Bermuda grass in the field behind our house. It is now that I sheepishly must admit that, although I've grown up on the farm, I've never once done any sort of field work. That changed on Sunday! We had an interesting set-up. We drove our little Kubota utility vehicle along the worked ground while one person sat in the back holding a handheld seed spreader. The seed spreader worked essentially like a five-pound flour sifter. We had 50 lbs of seed to spread, and it took quite some time. I started out driving the Kubota, but I ended up spending the bulk of our time out there running the spreader. It was quite the arm workout! My arms are STILL sore! As tiring as it was, it felt good to help and be a part of the farm work.

7. The Moody family (sans Cody) returned from their camping adventures on Sunday. Scotty decided that he wanted to get everyone together for a Sunday evening family meal. He volunteered to grill venison burgers, and we pulled together a few other things to round out the meal. I love our random get-togethers that we are able to have! For me, and hopefully the boys too, these meals will always stick in my mind as happy times with lots of laughter. This is one reason, among a myriad of others, that I will be sad to move after Thomas and I are married. Even so, I know it'll all be okay!

8. After our eventful Sunday, yesterday brought some big changes. About a month after Scotty and Emily were married in 2003, we received a phone call from them asking our opinions on girl names. I (naively) thought it meant that I would be having a niece...it turned out that they got a puppy! A beautiful black Labrador Retriever they eventually named Liberty, aka Libby. Libby has been a fixture in the family for almost thirteen years, but in the past year she started to slow down considerably. She was deaf, blind, and had some joint issues. After their week of camping at the lake, Scotty noticed that she just wasn't herself. She didn't really move around like she usually did when he left for work in the mornings, and she was breathing hard while at rest. After some thinking on it, he decided to take her to the vet and see what they thought. It turned out that she had the beginning stages of congestive heart failure. The best course of action would have been to give her a steroid shot, then reevaluate her condition in a week. If her condition was the same or worse, they'd have to put her down. At that point, Scotty made the tough choice to forego the steroids and just have her put down then. She was four days shy of her 13th (or 91st in dog years) birthday. Scotty promptly came home, built her a casket in which he laid her on her brand-new dog bed. He buried her in our pasture near where another of the family dogs was buried. My dad surprised us all by bringing out a wooden cross from church, on which he wrote her name and dates of birth and death. Furthermore, he brought out a few cattle panels to keep her grave intact for a while. A fitting tribute for a good dog and an important family member. I usually don't get emotionally attached to animals, which is a result of living on a farm, I'm sure. I was very sad yesterday. We all were. Somehow, life still goes on, and so must we.
Cody, Libby, & Scotty
circa December 2010
9. Today I cashed in my promised Mother's Day gift to my mom, and we spent an afternoon in town treating ourselves. We didn't really do much, but it was still a great afternoon! The first thing we did was go to lunch at a hibachi place. Mom had never eaten hibachi before, but I think she really liked it! I know I did :) After lunch, we went and got pedicures. There was a longer wait than we anticipated, but it was worth it in the end. We left feeling very relaxed and pampered! I love all of the time I get to spend with my mom these days! As I was growing up, she was loving, but tough and fair. Now, I consider my mom to be one of my best friends in the world. I'm very blessed with my mom!!!

10.  Last, but definitely not least, my long-awaited Dallas road trip starts in approximately 36 hours. This trip will be PACKED with activity. The current activities slated are: Thomas's cousin's 8th grade graduation, a Texas Rangers game with Thomas (more on that in a sec), Baccalaureate Mass for Elizabeth, Elizabeth's graduation party, Elizabeth's graduation, and a small get-together at one of their family friends' houses. Whew! The Rangers game will be my first-ever MLB game! Even better, the seats Thomas got for us are in the middle of the all-you-can-eat-for-free seats. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but I'll take it as good only because we can at least get all the drinks we want! (I know how pricey major-league concession stands can get.) I'll also get to see more of Thomas's extended family this weekend, which is always exciting. What I'm NOT excited about is the drive. For reasons I don't completely get, I'm VERY nervous about driving down there. I'm excited to go, but I'm nervous to drive. I think my wreck has partially ruined me from driving in certain situations. I know that the only way to get over it is to face my fears, but even so, that doesn't help much. I'm taking an alternate route to avoid some chaotic traffic, but I'm STILL nervous! I sound so silly right now, I'm sure. I know when it's all said and done, I'll feel very accomplished (and I may end up bragging some...), but I still have to get there and back! I guess I'll leave this post with an urgent request to pray for me that I'll find some peace and courage to overcome my anxieties and travel in safety! All prayers are greatly appreciated :)

Have a great week! I can't wait to come back with news of my travels!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May Update

Hello again! Here's what I've been up to since last time!

On the work front, I am starting my first teacher summer!! I have arrived in the promised land! I think everyone was beyond ready for summer, both teachers and students. As of last post, we were on the cusp of prom night, which came and went without a hitch. Of course, Thomas was my date, and we had lots of fun dancing throughout the evening! From that point, my teaching turned into a swirl of EOI prep. On one hand, it was easy for me because I mostly took participation grades and had minimal prep work to do. On the other hand, it was tedious, mind-numbing, and somewhat demoralizing. Such is life, I guess. I finished testing in all of my classes! I had pass rates ranging from 70% to almost 80%. I'm not sure how great that is in the grand scheme of things, but for it being my first year and going into some of it kind of blind, I was pretty pleased with my students' performance! As excited as I was to see my students pass (and even score 'Advanced'), I was equally crushed to see students score 'Limited Knowledge', which is right below passing (Proficient). So many of those students were a handful of points short from passing, but didn't. It's heartbreaking, if only because many of those students were the hardest workers whose effort didn't always correlate into grades/test scores. That's what I hate most about testing--seeing students being reduced to mere numbers on a computer screen. I hate it, but it is what it is. From there, the rest of the year was pretty simple, complete with multiple projects in my classes. Joan, the former math teacher was gracious enough to step in and commandeer these projects! I'm beyond grateful for her assistance/guidance! Finals and my first awards assembly went off without a hitch. The last days of school were filled with lots of craziness, hugs from students, and a sweet note from a student thanking me for all I did as her teacher. Wow. For all the bad days, tough times, and stress this year has provided, there were still lots of grace-filled moments showing me that I was exactly where God wanted me to be this year. My co-workers were beyond amazing, something I worry that I won't find when I leave next year. My family and Thomas were supportive and a good soft place for me to land after the worst days. Now I'm a second-year teacher, and hopefully it will look up from here!

On to happier thoughts of my beloved, Thomas is now a proud alumni of OSU! He graduated bright and early at the 9:30 ceremony. I may or may not have been a little bitter that his graduation wasn't tampered with at the last minute like mine was, but I guess that's life. I know he's equal parts excited and nervous about the upcoming changes in his life. I'm beyond proud of everything he's accomplished at OSU, and I can't wait to see what he'll do at JB Hunt!

One of the high points of Thomas's graduation weekend was having the opportunity for my family to meet his extended family! His uncles Ross, Jay, and Mark, as well as his aunt Jean made the trip to OK, along with Steve and Diana. My parents and both of my sisters' families were in attendance. Oh yeah, our friend/best man, Nick was there too! (You can't forget about Nick!) All in all, everyone got along smashingly! We couldn't see any reason as to why they wouldn't get along, but even so, it was a huge relief to us that everyone meshed well! We had lots of laughs and great conversation! There was a little snafu at the restaurant that put a damper on Saturday, but all in all, it was a pretty great weekend!
Photo Credit to Diana

Thomas with his parents

My parents and me with Thomas

The three amigos--Bertels, Nick, and Thomas

The Best Pals, Thomas and Cole

Thomas and Cody

Thomas and Kyle
Thomas's Texas graduation cap that I decorated for him!

Have I mentioned lately how amazing Thomas is? A couple of weeks ago, we both had a really tough week, but he pulled out the stops to make it a lot better! For starters, he was able to handle/tame my craziness, which definitely takes some doing! I had planned to visit Stillwater a few weekends ago for his baccalaureate Mass, but wasn't going to be able to leave until a little later than I hoped on Friday. Out of the blue, he decided to come pick me up for the weekend! When he arrived, he came with some beautiful yellow daisies!!! (In case you're curious, my favorite flowers are "just-because" flowers!) As if that wasn't enough, on Tuesday he surprised me by coming over to attend my students' band concert! Then a little later in the week, he came over to see me! What an amazing man!!! I have seriously hit the jackpot!!! Just another of the infinite reasons I love that man so much! :)

On a different note, Cody experienced his first Tri-State Music Festival! He played concert band and marched. They received straight 1's in both, which added to his excitement! He's over-the-moon excited about band! Here's hoping he keeps it up, as musical knowledge is quite valuable! In other exciting news, my mom found a dress to wear to our wedding next summer! It's beautiful, fits perfectly, and she loves it! I'm so happy she said yes to her dress :) Have I mentioned that I'm excited about looking for my dress in the coming months??!! I totally am! I feel like it'll be the shopping trip of my lifetime! I'm trying not to get too wrapped up in it til it gets closer, but still! I can't wait!!! 

Now, I'm gearing up to make my first-ever solo drive to Dallas next week for Elizabeth's graduation. I'm equally nervous and excited. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a huge fan of big-city driving, so this is huge for me. I've settled on a route that shouldn't cause too much stress for me, God willing. Just say a couple prayers for me, if you would! To help with this trip, I also bought my first PikePass, so I can easily traverse the turnpikes! I'm moving up in the world! Not long after this trip, I'll be going over to Arkansas to help Thomas settle into his new apartment. Lots and lots and lots of driving in my future...hooray, I guess? 

I came to the realization a few days ago that the wedding is now less than 14 months away! That's exciting news! It's going to start getting to the point that I'll actually have to start doing things to prepare instead of thinking about it. Wow, it's starting to get real!


Alright, I'll end it here and try to get better about posting throughout all of my adventures this summer! Have a great day!