Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Late June Fun

Ugh. I was doing so well on keeping up, and then life got busy again. So it goes. Anyway, I'm back for a short while!

-Last week, I did something I haven't done in a long time. I went running. I had quit as of late because it inevitably caused me acute outer knee pain for a week afterwards, but I hoped that it was because I needed new shoes. I bought new shoes back in April and finally took them on a run, and guess knees didn't hurt!!! Unfortunately, I haven't ran since then because it has been WAY too hot to spend any time outside. I wished that I could, because it felt nice to be moving like that again. I did a little bit of Zumba too, which was nice. Now if I could just sustain the motivation to keep moving, I'd be great. Small victories, right?

-I've been doing my best to help my mom keep up with our small summer garden. We have assorted flowers, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and a lone jalapeno plant. I picked the first cucumber this morning, and the squash aren't too far behind. I'm already ready to eat our first harvest from the garden! It's given me some extra purpose this summer.

-Last week I took the four older boys to Totus Tuus at church. They all loved it and their team. We had lots of great discussions on the way to and from each day, even if there were times that everyone had a little too much togetherness. Our talks covered the gamut from angels, to miracles, to heaven, to purgatory, and stories about saints. Deep stuff for little guys! Our morning rides usually consisted of our own version of Carpool Karaoke. We jammed out to "East Bound and Down", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Shut Up and Dance", "Hey Soul Sister", and, of course "Uptown Funk". Shout-out to my XM radio for giving us great morning tunes. It was a great week overall!

-Last Friday I spent the better part of the day in Edmond because my car was due for its 6000 mile oil change/tuneup. The real reason I went was to see Tonisha and Mary! I literally couldn't remember the last time I saw both of them together. I had an AMAZING time just getting to be with them! We had fun hitting up happy hour at TGI Friday's! It was just like old times...a true sign that we're real friends, no matter the time or distance, we pick up right where we left off! Love those two so much!

-This past weekend we had our Father's Day extravaganza. Saturday was pie baking for Gina, Emily, and I. We made cherry, peach, chocolate chip, and chocolate mint pies, which were pretty well-received! Saturday night, Emily and I got a crash course in how to cut up whole chickens for frying. All in all, I feel like it was a success for us both! I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to cut up any more, but I think I can remember with only a little prompting from Mom! Sunday was our annual fried chicken feast. It was all lots of fun, and ended with food comas from everyone. It was great!

-On Monday Mom and I decided to start a project we've wanted needed to do for a VERY long time. We started cleaning in Emily and I's old bedroom, which has been in DESPERATE need of cleaning. I'm very happy to report that we've made tons of headway and we've already taken lots of stuff to the dumpster or to Hope Outreach. There's still lots to do, but I'm proud of us!

-In very big wedding news, we booked our photographer! She is super sweet and has been extremely workable with us! I'm so excited to work with her over the coming months! I think we'll be doing our engagement pictures sometime in the fall. We've already started conjuring up ideas for what we'd like to do...I'm excited to share that whenever the time is closer!

-Yesterday was a full day for me after booking the photographer. I received a certificate for a massage from Thomas for my birthday, and I finally used it! I've never had a massage before, but I definitely LOVED it and will be going back! It was the most relaxed I've been in some time. I may or may not have fallen asleep during the last half of the massage. It was amazing! Afterwards I had a hair trim appointment. It was a nice day of pampering! Also, on a whim, I bought some red lipstick, which looked a lot better than I anticipated! I think I'm entering a lipstick phase...this could be interesting.

-Today was a preparation day for me. Tomorrow I leave for Arkansas, and Friday morning Thomas and I will fly out to Connecticut to visit his uncle along with the rest of the family. This will be the first time I've flown commercially since I was a baby. I'm certain this flight will be vastly different from that flight. Thomas decided that we need to only pack our belongings into a carry-on so we don't have to fret about the potential for lost luggage. I'm happy to report that *most* of my things will fit into my bag. I guess the TSA's 3-1-1 rule helped me downsize everything. I'm a little cranky about that, honestly, but I'm also a rule follower, so I'll oblige. I may need to put a couple pairs of shoes in Thomas's luggage though. Times like this make me hate wearing a size 10 shoe...they NEVER fit nicely in bags...ever, especially if you have multiple pairs of shoes, which will be necessary for this weekend. Otherwise, I'd just wear one pair of shoes and make do. Oh well!

-This week I suddenly started getting into a book I've been half-heartedly reading since April. It's a biography of Fr. Stanley Rother, the priest from Okarche who was a Guatemalan missionary and was martyred in the 1981. Also, the Catholic church is in the process of pronouncing him a saint! He's kind of a big deal! I've written about him before, but I have gained a much greater appreciation for his life and his struggles through reading this book. The biography is mostly narrative, but consists largely of excerpts from letters he wrote to his beloved sister, Sr. Marita (who I have actually met, believe it or not). (Yes, she's a nun. And an incredibly sweet, humble woman. I was a more than a little starstruck when I met her. We had a great chat.) I haven't quite finished it, but I'm almost done. The beauty of biographies is that you usually know how the story ends, so it isn't terribly suspenseful, but still interesting because you can read the details surrounding their final days and the time thereafter. His life and the way he loved the native Tz'utujil people in Guatemala are equally inspiring. If I've happened to pique your interest at all, you can purchase the book, "The Shepherd Who Didn't Run", by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda here!

Alright, no more procrastinating...I need to whip up some supper! I'll be back as soon as I can be!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Catching Up on Wednesday

It's been a short while since I've posted, so here's what I've been up to!

-Last week was mostly spent shuffling Kyle back and forth to baseball camp. This is his second year to attend and I think he enjoyed it pretty well. It was interesting for him because he doesn't play on a little league team like pretty much everyone there and never has...he just enjoys baseball! It was interesting to see the dynamics of this camp, as everyone there was kind of clique-y. Most kids have played on the same team since they were barely potty-trained, and it wasn't quite as geared toward kids who don't play much baseball. I could easily get on a soapbox about my thoughts on little league, but I'll spare you for now and say that I'm happy that Kyle enjoyed himself!

-Upon coming home last week, I was informed that I inadvertently acquired a summer job--I'll be cleaning my church. It doesn't require too much work, but it'll give me something else to do to keep me occupied this summer! I'll probably go up there tomorrow and get started.

-It's June, which means that wheat harvest has swept across the area! This year my dad cut most of the wheat for hay or put it to pasture, which left us with about 30 acres to harvest. The good news about this is that it took him about 2.5 days to finish, which is almost record time for us! Honestly, I think we're all happy about it not taking much time! The time after harvest is always much more relaxing because there really isn't much of a rush to get much done in the field until it's time to sow.

-I have two roles that I usually fulfill during harvest. The first is washing combine windows. I've washed windows for as long as I can remember, but the beauty of that job is that as long as someone younger (and more agile) comes along, your job can generally be outsourced to them! (That's how it worked for Gina and Emily when I came along...) My other role is harvest cook. Back in the day, we'd have to move meals out to the field, which takes quite a bit of doing if we're being honest. These days, since it's a shorter harvest and only the three of us here, we just eat our meals whenever everyone comes in for the night. Granted, I don't go out to help as much, but I pick up other inside tasks, like laundry and dishes so that everything can stay afloat. I was pretty proud of myself and all that I came up with for meals, but I was the most proud of my shrimp stir fry that I made! My dad appreciates good cooking, but isn't always quick to throw out high praises. He raved about the stir fry for a couple of days, even telling me that "it's better than what he makes". (That's saying something!) Stir fry is becoming one of my new favorite things to make, as it's easy and decently healthy. Maybe I'll get around to posting my recipe sometime soon!

-I'm not sure how I got this far without mentioning it, but Thomas is LOVING his job! Last week and this week are the two introductory weeks, where the company eases them into everything. I'm impressed by how well-planned and comprehensive this training is. I think he's starting to adjust to life in NWA, although it is his first time to ever live completely on his own without anyone he knows well nearby. There's a bit of a learning curve there, for sure. I remember how I felt moving to Stillwater, and it took a few weeks for me to feel completely okay with being "on my own". He'll get there, I'm sure! He also informed me that his relocation to a field office will likely take place in about 8 months, which puts us in February. I don't know what to think about any of it, but I'm trying not to stress over a situation that hasn't happened yet. For all I know, his relocation could be better, but it's too soon to say. Stay tuned for more on that as it unfolds! Next week will be his first week actually in the corporate offices full-time, so I can't wait to update on how that goes!

-To celebrate the end of harvest, Dad decided to have a fish fry last Saturday. I was very pumped about this...I LOVE fish fries! It was originally going to be for all of us except Thomas, who was staying in NWA for the weekend. It ended up being all of us except Gina's clan, but WITH Thomas. They celebrated Jeremy's dad's birthday last weekend, and Thomas was lonesome in AR, so they went to the lake and he came here. I was excited to get to see him after not expecting to, but I missed seeing the Mattsons. Cody was fresh from a week at scout camp, so he was full of stories about his time in the great outdoors! We had catfish, jalapeno poppers, coleslaw, french fries, tater tots, fruit salad, and Mom's peanut butter cake. Surprisingly, we made just enough of everything and had almost no leftovers! It was a great evening!

-This week, Mom and I are shuffling the four older boys to Totus Tuus at church. Wyatt and Andy went last year and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. This year, Cody and Kyle joined them. All are seeming to love it! This year, they've raved about Tomas, the seminarian, and all that he's taught them about Mass. I can already see a positive change in them...I'll forever love this program!

-On Friday, I get to visit three of my long-lost friends, Sierra, Tonisha, and Mary! It worked out that I was able to schedule a car service appointment in Edmond and get to have lunch with Sierra, then meet Toe and Mary later in the afternoon. I'm SO looking forward to seeing them...I can't wait!

-On a last note, we're gearing up for our Father's Day fried chicken feast! Thomas has never experienced this, so he's pretty excited. We have the traditional menu of fried chicken, potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, and assorted pies. I'm already looking forward to it, even if I know it'll be crazy's short, eat the good food while you still can!

On that note, have a great week and try to stay cool out there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dallas Trip Highlights

For anyone who was somewhat concerned about how my drive to Texas turned out, I'll save you some hassle and say that it turned out great! SO much stuff happened over the past week, here we go!

Thursday (5/26)
My day began bright and early so that I could tell my dad bye before leaving later that morning. I thought I'd go back to sleep, but I was too amped up, so I stayed awake! All in all, my drive to Dallas was uneventful and fairly easy once I settled into driving on I35. There is definitely an art to driving on an interstate that I'm slowly mastering with more practice, but I have a way to go. My GPS suggested that I take I35 all the way down to a tollway in north Dallas, but there is some killer construction in Denton that Thomas wanted me to avoid. For that reason, I exited at Gainesville and took Hwy 82 over to Hwy 75, which gave me a more direct route to Thomas's house. I pretty much knew where I was going, but my GPS was having none of that. We had what I'd like to call creative differences, because it spent the entire length of 82 trying to get me to make a u-turn back to the interstate. I would have adjusted it, but, you know, I was driving, so that was a no-go for me.

I also stopped off in Whitesboro (location of the now-former Liese family cabin) for lunch and fuel. Since I was in Texas, I decided to eat like a Texan and go to Whataburger. There was an overly helpful employee who helped me decide what to get, so that made things a little easier, I guess? From there I continued fighting with the GPS lady literally until I was on the on-ramp to 75. Suddenly, she directed me to the right exit and I really didn't need her from then on. Not long after, I arrived at his house, where I relaxed for a very short time before dashing off to the first event--Michaela (Thomas's cousin)'s 8th grade graduation. She attended a small Christian school, so there were only about 20 people in her class. All in all, it was a sweet ceremony! After that, Thomas's parents, sister, grandma, and we all went to supper at a little diner nearby. When we got back to their house, I realized that what I initially thought were mosquito bites from some outside work I did the night before were chiggers...what a LOVELY way to start a trip! Thomas had some cortisone cream that helped a little bit. Besides being insanely itchy, I slept like a rock that night!

Friday (5/27):
Friday was pretty uneventful early on. Not long after realizing I had chiggers, I also realized that I forgot a contact lens case, so I had to buy one. I also bought some chigger cream, which helped tremendously, but left me smelling very ointment-y, if you get my drift. It was better than scratching constantly! This was the day of our planned trip to the Texas Rangers game, so we were on a bit of a time crunch. Despite this, I opted to go get manicures with Diana and Elizabeth. It was a fun bonding time for us, although Diana and I were slightly underwhelmed by our color choice. We ended up picking the same color, which was actually the color they use for the base of a French manicure...we spent an hour in the salon to get nails that just looked really shiny but otherwise the same. Such is life, because we still had fun!

Upon arriving to the stadium, our first order of business was to procure some official Rangers gear for me. I already was wearing red so I decided to get a hat. It took a little doing because I have a weird-shaped head, but we found a winner! I also got a certificate because it was my first game! I made a sign in a feeble attempt to make it on TV, but that ended up being a fruitless effort. Our seats were pretty great! Not really in foul ball/home run territory, but a great view and no sun glare! The all-you-can-eat food selection didn't disappoint at all! We LOVED it! The two biggest dampers of the evening were the raucous, drunken, foul-mouthed frat boys behind us who ruined the family atmosphere of the game and the fact that we lost. Thomas reported the guys behind us to security, and they were given a stern warning with the possibility of being ejected from the stadium. They ended up leaving in the bottom of the 7th inning, and everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. (It was Daddy-Daughter night, so lots of parents were happy to be rid of their debauchery.) There were post-game fireworks, so at least we could end the night on a high note! I'm already ready for my next game :)

Saturday (5/28):
Our Friday ended pretty late and Saturday began pretty early. Elizabeth had a baccalaureate Mass across town at 9 AM, and it was a fairly formal affair. The five of us, along with Thomas's cousin Nicole, comprised our posse for the morning. The Mass was beautiful and was followed by a brunch at a ritzy downtown hotel. Brunch was fairly uneventful besides the fire alarms going off in the middle of it, which caused us to evacuate for about 10 minutes while they figured out what was happening (nothing serious, thank goodness!). There was an awards ceremony that accompanied the brunch. It was a little lengthy, but considering that Elizabeth was part of a class of 200+ other girls, it probably didn't take that long when it came down to it.

We returned to the house to begin preparations for Elizabeth's party that night. There were tables that needed to be set up and decorated outside and a fruit salad/hot dip that needed to be made inside...take a wild guess as to which I volunteered to do! Naturally, I fell into the kitchen, chopping and washing fruit for the salad and mixing up the dip ingredients. I was in my happy place, since I love to cook so much! It worked well for everyone. The party itself was lots of fun, as I was able to see all of Thomas's aunts, uncles, and cousins again. I am happy that I get to (unofficially) call them family...they're great! I'm blessed to be marrying into an amazing family!!! The party was full of great food, laughter, lots of wine, and a fire in Steve's new fire pit! I was tired all day/night, but I had a great time! I crashed hard that night...we ALL did!

Sunday (5/29):
Thomas and I decided to attend Mass at a different parish since they had a Mass at 11:30 AM (we were able to sleep in nicely). It was by far the most bizarre Mass we've attended in a while...the church had no kneelers or pews, just chairs and there was no defined "front" of the church. It was nice, but much different than either of us were used to. We spent the remainder of the afternoon resting a little more before the graduation ceremony that night.

The ceremony itself is steeped in rich traditions dating back many years, the biggest of which is that it is held outside, in front of the school. That was good and wonderful, besides the fact that the DFW area was in a monsoon-like weather pattern. It was POURING rain right up to 10 minutes before the ceremony started. Some of the younger girls who were part of the Ambassadors organization spent this time frantically drying the graduates' seats, as they all were wearing white get the picture, I'm sure. For them having a class of 200+ girls, the ceremony really didn't take all that long...maybe about 1.5-2 hours from start to finish? It was a lovely ceremony indeed! Afterwards, we rendezvoused back at the house, where we snacked on leftover party food (there were STILL leftovers after that!). Our gathering that night was considerably shorter, mostly because everyone was still trying to recover from the late night the evening before! Still, lots of fun times and laughs were shared!
Thomas, Elizabeth, me, and Nicole

Ursuline Class of 2016!

Monday (5/30):
I thought this would be the day I prepared to return home for a few days. I was wrong. At Steve and Diana's (and Thomas's, if we're being totally honest) request, I opted to extend my stay until Thomas made the big move so that I could help him get packed and ready. Also, I figured out that it would save me about 200 ish miles in driving, which would be nice. My parents anticipated this and weren't surprised at all when I called to inform them of my itinerary change!

It was VERY nice to have a slow day with nothing to do and nowhere to go after 4 straight marathon days. Thomas worked on organizing/packing his then-tornado of a bedroom. I mostly "oversaw" the process. Okay, I really just kept him company/helped him stay on task. Sometimes that's all a person needs to be productive, I think. I also called one of my good friends from NOC to catch up with her. It was great to hear about how she's doing and tell her about all that I've done since our last chat! Thomas eventually reached a stopping point, so we ventured out to the living room to find out that Steve planned on grilling salmon for supper. Yum! We had a lovely dinner on their newly-refinished patio. Afterwards, we watched "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", to celebrate its 30th anniversary! It was a lazy night, but definitely well-earned!

Tuesday (5/31):
I was supposed to leave on this day, but I didn't. Instead, Thomas took me to lunch at a neat little seafood place in Plano. I got my fix of fried catfish and hush puppies! Yum! I also figured out that I actually like tartar sauce on fish after 23 years of thinking I hated it. Just when I thought my tastes were done expanding, I was pleasantly surprised :) The rest of the afternoon was punctuated with random errands around town for Thomas. At some point, I also realized that I had a new patch of chigger bites to contend with...Oh, joy! We got back to the house in the nick of time that afternoon, as the floodgates opened up and it started POURING again! By suppertime, there was a river of water gushing down their street. (In all fairness, their house sits on a downhill slope, so it's a natural drainage area.) Elizabeth invited Thomas and I to join her in driving over to the neighborhood park to check out how much the creek there was flooding. It was wild! Thomas and I really had wanted to go on a walk that night, but the weather showed no signs of cooperating, so we settled for getting frozen yogurt instead. I was pretty pleased with that :)

Wednesday (6/1):
We had yet another somewhat lazy day. Since Steve and Diana were so gracious to let me stay extra, I decided to treat them by making them a nice home-cooked dinner. A few months back, my parents sent them some of our fresh beef. They still had a little bit left, so I decided to make them a roast dinner, which is one of my family's signature meals. It was a bit weird preparing this traditional meal in a different kitchen, but I eventually settled in. The meal included roast, mashed potatoes, gravy (made from the roast drippings), and sauteed green beans. I was a little nervous about how it would all turn out, but my fears were unfounded. It was great, and they loved it! Nothing makes me happier than seeing people enjoy food I cooked for them!!! (Is cooking a love language? I'm starting to think that's mine...random tangential thought)

The weather was much nicer that day, so Steve, Diana, Thomas, me, and Zoe (their dog) went on a long walk around their neighborhood. That trek made me increasingly ready to be married and live in a nice neighborhood where Thomas and I can go on post-supper walks! I know, that's still a way off, but I can dream, right?

Thursday (6/2):
For as relaxing as Wednesday was, Thursday was a horse of a different color. We started bright and early by picking up Thomas's U-Haul truck. He ended up with a 20 foot truck that was an absolute monstrosity! I was VERY happy that I would have nothing to do with driving it. We returned to the house to start packing furniture.
He was VERY excited about the U-Haul

Zoe (the family dog) wanted nothing to do with the U-Haul until she sniffed it out.
Thomas called upon his high school buddy (also one of our groomsmen) Matt to help with the heavy lifting. That alone made my life much easier! I will say now that I'm very happy I'm marrying an Eagle Scout who knows all about ratcheting, tying, and securing loads in trucks. (He was his troop's quartermaster for a while.) If it were up to me, the process would definitely NOT be as organized. Oh yeah, in the midst of them loading the truck, it started pouring again...surprise, surprise! To show his appreciation for Matt's and my help, Thomas treated us to lunch at the butcher shop, where they make amazing buffalo burgers! After lunch and a little more packing, we took the U-Haul back to the rental center where we got the car carrier trailer, which held Thomas's car. Needless to say, the already huge U-Haul became even bigger and more difficult to maneuver. Thomas faced this challenge like a champ and really didn't do a bad job of driving it! I was proud that he did so well!
Thomas was overseeing the U-Haul guy to make sure his car was properly secured. 

Thomas's set-up was quite the monstrosity!
After eating supper, we spent the remainder of the night sporadically packing things into the truck or into Thomas's temporarily-defunct car.

Friday (6/3):
We left the house to go to Arkansas around 8:45 or 9 AM. There was a nice little convoy of the U-Haul (with Thomas and Steve), me (in my car), and Diana (driving their car). We set our travel order and headed out. In all honesty, the first half of the drive was super easy. I was beyond grateful that I ponied up the money to continue my XM subscription. It paid for itself in this trip! Three hours in, we stopped off at McAlester for lunch and fuel, then got back on the road.
Thomas driving to Arkansas
Photo credit to Steve :)
The next three hours of driving weren't as fun or easy. We picked up more traffic on I40, and even more semi traffic on I49 (in Arkansas). Following a U-Haul is not fun, in case you were curious. The speed was very inconsistent, and I was a nervous wreck for the better part of this leg. We were driving through twisty mountain roads where Thomas reached speeds upwards of 80 mph, much to my chagrin! I have determined that I have a low-key fear of better time to realize that than whilst driving on a bridge over a mountain pass, huh?

After driving for what seemed like an eternity, we finally saw signs of civilization in Fayetteville. We just had to make it to the U-Haul facility, where we were ditching the car trailer and Steve would lead us to the apartment in Thomas's car. By the time we made it to the apartment, we had logged 6, almost 7 hours of road time that day. We scrambled to quickly unpack the U-Haul so we could return that too. By the time everything was inside, we were all tired, sweaty, and VERY hangry! Dinner could not have come at a better time! We ate at a nice Mexican restaurant, where it tasted like the salsa was made by angels! (Actually we were really hungry, so EVERYTHING tasted amazing, but it was also just really good salsa.) We came back to finish unloading Thomas and Diana's cars. After that, we unpacked and settled a few things before everyone decided it was time for a shower and sleep. We all slept VERY well that night!

Saturday (6/4):
We started the day with no food in the apartment, so Steve and Diana invited us over to their hotel and let us bum off of their complimentary breakfast. After breakfast, we went on a small driving tour of the region. We drove by Thomas's office and all sorts of attractions. After driving a while, Diana spotted a sign for the Crystal Bridges art museum and wanted to drive by it. What followed was a somewhat wild goose chase trying to find the place. Steve periodically doubted its existence, but we eventually found it! We didn't go in, but it seems like it would be a great place to visit one weekend, as it also included a kids' museum. The NWA area (what they call the span of cities from Fayetteville to Bentonville) is pretty neat, and very underrated! It has beautiful scenery, literally every store one could need, and lots of attractions. The amazing thing is that while it's considered a "metro area", it is still easy to distinguish one town from another and it isn't just a concrete jungle. I very quickly fell in love with the area...maybe it's irrational, but I LOVE it there!

After our drive, Steve and Diana decided to hit the road back to DFW, which left Thomas and I to continue unpacking and settling his apartment. It was still a mess of boxes and bags, but by the end of the afternoon we managed to make it look a little more home-like, though still fairly cluttered. I found tasks that spoke to my organizational nature to do and left some of the "crumbs" to Thomas, only because I figured it'd be better for him to know where most of those things were stored. I organized the bathroom and his dresser, which took a decent amount of time.

One of our new treasures! I'm excited to read through this!
After a while of working, we decided that we had earned a break for the meantime. We utilized the complex's pool facilities, although the water was still WAY too cold for us to fully appreciate. (It also wasn't very warm outside.) After a little bit in the pool, we opted to go to the hot tub instead...that was much better! The warm water felt good after the stressful two days of heavy lifting and moving. After a while, we were hungry and went back to get ready for dinner. As of late, I've been picking restaurants in new places by using Yelp. It helps me to find good, local places and get a feel for the place. We found a neat restaurant called MarketPlace Grill. Our waiter there was awesome and guided us through our dining experience. He informed us that they had two specialties, the Flaming Queso (they literally light it on fire!) and the Chocolate Mess. He said that everyone should get one or the other to make it a complete experience. We decided to get the dessert since it came in a mini size...and because it came with peanut butter sauce (Thomas loves peanut butter!). It didn't disappoint! The sundae came in an old-fashioned milkshake cup that was covered, inside and out, with chocolate! It was simple, but incredibly yummy!

Thomas was in awe of it!

He looked a little sugar-crazed afterwards...I felt that way too :)
After dinner, we finally went to Walmart to get some food and other supplies. We were both pretty tired by this point, but we had to push through. We finally got back, put everything up and crashed hard.

Sunday (6/5):
We decided that we wanted French toast and bacon for breakfast that day. This sounded like a great idea the night before, and it still was, but we hit a little snag...Thomas didn't have any mixing bowls to mix the batter in! We found the closest thing we could find to a mixing bowl...a big souvenir cup from an OSU football game! It was a little unorthodox, but we pulled through. We'll probably laugh about that for years to come! After breakfast, we went to Mass at the Catholic church that was fairly close to the apartment. It is a beautiful parish, and the priest seemed very nice too! After Mass, we made another Wal-Mart trip to procure mixing bowls, other kitchen utensils, and more food. We spent the afternoon doing a little more unpacking before visiting the hot tub again. Afterwards, I made supper and we had a lazy night so that Thomas could be ready for his first day of work. We also remembered at some point in the day that that day was 1.5 years since we started dating! Oh, what a year can do!

Monday (6/6):
The long-awaited first day of work arrived for Thomas! Look at my handsome business man!!!

He left for work around 7:30, but I decided to stick around for just a little bit longer so that I didn't have to contend with as much traffic in Tulsa. Once I got on the road (about 8:30), I had no trouble whatsoever! Of all the long drives I took on this trip, this was by far the easiest! It was essentially a straight shot across Hwy 412, so I didn't even bother with setting up any navigation. I just followed the signs for 412 West. There's something kind of liberating about traveling long distances and not needing turn by turn directions! About 3.5 hours later, I was back on the farm! I loved getting to spend a long time with Thomas, but it was also nice to be reunited with my family! I missed them like crazy!!! 

So, a few takeaways from this trip:
-Texas highway driving isn't that bad so long as you quickly establish that people will be in an unnecessary hurry to get wherever they're going, and that if you want to change lanes, you signal, find a gap, and GO. You have to be aggressive there or else you'll get run off the road!

-I'm starting to regain my confidence on the road, but I still hate highways without a right shoulder. I'm also not keen on roads that have cement barriers right next to the right side of the road. That almost makes me more nervous.

-I'm pretty good at navigating myself throughout quite a few places in the tri-state area. Road signs are really much more useful than people realize. If you know about where you're going, most GPS's aren't that necessary.

All in all, I had a very good, long trip. I loved getting to spend more leisure time with Thomas's family, especially since I'm usually only down there for bigger events. I'm definitely starting to feel like a part of their family, not just a special visitor. Their house feels like a second home to me, which is always a great feeling! It never ceases to astound me how amazing of a man I'm marrying next year. Moreover, he didn't become that amazing on his own...his family played a large role in this, especially his parents. I always knew how much my family loved Thomas and accepted him as one of our own, but now I am starting to have a much better understanding of what it means to feel loved and accepted as "one of their own" by Thomas's family. It's gratifying on so many levels. I'm very blessed, and I can't wait to start this next chapter! Okay, I've rambled long enough...on to more adventures!