Saturday, April 14, 2018

March and April Goings-On

It's been a while since I've updated on my life, so I thought I'd take some time to catch up on that.

I think I last left off before spring break, when we were traveling up to OK for my friend Haley's wedding and to celebrate my and Thomas' birthdays with my family. Our birthday celebration was a lazy family brunch in the shed. It was fantastic in every way!
Little Spiderman (Jakub) enjoying the nice morning 
Cole, showing off his new toothless grin.

Kyle and me, waiting for breakfast

Diamond facemasks with my favorite ladies!
The wedding (in Norman later that day) was a lovely, intimate celebration. It was a short ceremony, which meant that we had plenty of time left over in the evening. We used that time to meet up with my family in OKC for dinner! Lots more good times followed! The next morning, we were lazy and had a continuation of breakfast from the day before. My sisters and I also did some work in preparation for my parents' impending anniversary party. We also spent the afternoon treating ourselves to pedicures in town. It was tough to leave, but onward we went back to DFW.

During my spring break, I still tutored my homeschooled girls. They don't really take a lot of breaks, if only because they have so much freedom in their schedules, and since they can do schoolwork whenever and almost wherever. It reminded me of the old days when that was all I did everyday. I find myself missing those days sometimes, but I also appreciate the challenge of being back in the classroom full time.

Besides tutoring, I did a few small things. The first was going to my first eye doctor appointment in Dallas. (Actually my first actual appointment for any medical professional in Dallas...I know, on my list for the summer.) I like my new eye doctor. He was kind and very informative. The only downside of my visit was that I had to have my eyes dilated for the first time in almost 10 years. I forgot how much that affected me, to the point that I had a little more confidence in my abilities than I should have. I was glad that the eye doctor was close to our apartment, as I drove myself home. In hindsight, I really shouldn't have done that, but it is what it is.

The next day, Diana took me, Elizabeth, and two of Elizabeth's friends (who she brought home with her from SLU) on a daytrip to Waco to see the Magnolia Silos. If you don't happen to be familiar with them, it's the place most closely associated with Chip and Joanna Gaines (from HGTV's Fixer Upper). It was a great day for the visit, although we definitely weren't the only people who had that idea! Their new bakery looked enticing, up until I saw the line that wrapped all the way around the building and down the block! The Magnolia Market was also nice, but nothing to get too terribly excited about. To be honest, our experience there was a little anticlimactic. Thankfully, Diana also received a suggestion from one of her friends to visit the nearby Spice Village. It was a conglomerate of a bunch of boutique-style shops all encompassed in one huge loft! I somewhat forgot that Waco was the home of Baylor (one of OSU's bigger rivals), and I happened to be all decked out in OSU garb! While there, I quickly remembered once I saw all the green, yellow, and bear-themed garb that was to be had. By far, we all had much more fun at Spice Village than we did at Magnolia, especially considering that almost all of us left with a purchase of some sort. Elizabeth happened to spot a cool OSU-themed wall hanging made of old license plates (that said 'Go Pokes', no less). I decided that that would be a great thing to take home. (Thomas agreed!) We ended our trip by having lunch at a fantastic local deli. Their sandwiches were reminiscent of Schlotzsky's sandwiches, but way better, if you can believe that! I made a note of its location so I can take Thomas next time we go through Waco--I'm certain he'd love it!

The line for the bakery--good grief!

The infamous silos!
The remainder of my week was pretty quiet. Thomas and I went out for dinner for an early birthday celebration for me (as he was on call for work on my actual birthday). I decided on a place that was located pretty close to our apartment, although I don't know that we'll ever return. I was a little disappointed that I made that choice, if we're being perfectly honest. They claimed to serve Italian food, which they did, but it was very lackluster. Also, Thomas and I were the only people in the restaurant who were under the age of 55. (For a while we were also the only customers...) For as much of a proponent as I am of hole in the wall restaurants, that was not one of them. Such is life.

At the end of our weekend, most everyone in the Liese/Coulter clan got together to celebrate first quarter birthdays! We celebrated Bob (Steve's brother-in-law), Diana, Michaela, Thomas, me, and Ross (Diana's brother). It was a lovely evening, full of laughter, good times, and AMAZING brisket! (It's always about the food, right?)

A couple of short days later, I went back to school, which is going alright for me. I like the school, my coworkers, and the students on the whole. I'm ready for next year, where I won't be replacing someone mid-year and trying to train students to my method of operation after they're already used to one way of doing things. It also doesn't help that we're in the throes of spring/summer fever. I'm just happy that we don't have to worry about weeks' worth of state-mandated testing and its aftermath. Tuesday of that week, I was called upon to chaperone the annual freshman biology trip to the Dallas Zoo, since I mostly teach freshmen. I wasn't sure how that would go, but all in all, it was a good day. My chaperone group consisted of 9 boys. I felt like my life having and containing my 6 rambunctious nephews was preparing me for that moment. When you factor in that most of the 9 boys in my group have some combination of ADD and/or ADHD, it makes it a little more interesting. We trekked all over the zoo, possibly in record time, I'm not sure. We arrived around 9:30, with the promise of lunch at 12. Starting around 10 or so, I was asked about once every 10-15 minutes when we'd be eating next. (I wasn't sure of the school's policy on letting them stop at food vendors, so I nixed that. I also wanted to be sure that they'd have money for lunch.) My aunt training made it easy to keep up with their energy. They were all responsible for locating a specific animal and taking pictures of it for a project in their biology classes. The day was a whirlwind of activity, leaving me utterly exhausted!

Highlight of the day: hippo fight
The guys in my group spent about 20 minutes watching!

Friendly giraffe!

The next day, tired and allergy-fueled as I was, was my birthday. I was not thrilled about it by any means, because it was the first time I was away from my family. My sweet department chair made my day by bringing me some cheesecake bites and a beautiful bouquet of lilies! It was a simple act of kindness that made my whole day great!

Ignore the pile of papers and junk.
My desk looks terrible, but the flowers were a nice touch!

Thomas promised me that he would make me dinner and we'd have his parents over to join in our celebration. We were quickly surprised by a couple of extra dinner guests--my mom and Aunt Pat!!!!! I was so happy to see both of them!!!! Even better, Mom brought my signature birthday cake that she always makes me--an Italian cream cake! My sisters, dad, brothers-in-law, and a few of the nephews also FaceTimed me! It was great to have everyone together, if only virtually.

My heart was so full--yet so sorry to see them leave so soon!

Jakub showing me his excited face! Love that kid!
A short few days later began our Easter celebrations. I never realized that this was my first time that I've ever been away from my family. I also never realized how much I'd possibly miss Bison's Easter celebrations,  idiosyncrasies and all. Thomas and I attended Holy Thursday and Good Friday services at church, both having standing room only. It was good, but different. We didn't go to Easter Vigil, which was probably all for the best, as we spent that morning/afternoon with Steve out at Quitman.

You see, the weekend before, Steve and Diana realized that the hot water tank out there had gone out and needed replacing. They took the old one out, back to town, and put it on the curb with the trash. Steve asked Thomas to help him with the replacement process, and I tagged along just because I did Zoe (their dog). We left early in the morning, with hopes that it'd be a quick installation process with lots of spare time to explore around there. (Famous last words, right?) We made it out there, just to find out that the drip pan blew out of the back somewhere along the interstate (though we thought it was amply weighed down by a large bag of ant bait). We also found out that the new tank was a few inches too tall to fit in the old slot. We ended up having to make a trip to a town 20ish miles away to acquire another new tank, guaranteed to fit in the slot. Eventually we returned again, and it did fit. However, the piping going to the tank had a small leak. Hence, another trip into town (the one 5 minutes away this time) for lunch (it was well after 2 pm) and new piping. After replacing those, we were back in business. A 20 minute project turned into the better part of the it really a home improvement project if it went any other way? We spent a short while trekking through the wooded area, before we had to make our way back to DFW to return the original new tank and to go to dinner with Diana and Elizabeth, who stayed there.

You can see the meadow, full of wildflowers, with the house in the distance. 

Zoe, happy to be in her natural habitat
That night we went to dinner at a burger place located within walking distance of Steve and Diana's house. A local band (of whom Steve and Diana are avid fans) was playing there, so it was an easy decision, especially considering that Elizabeth was the only one of us who had never seen them play.

We all met back up at church the next morning for Easter Sunday Mass. I was unexpectedly emotional all morning, mostly because I missed my family and home. Thankfully, everyone was pretty understanding, all things considered. After Mass, we went to a nearby diner for brunch, then home to take naps, since we were all in a food coma! We all met back up at Steve and Diana's, where they'd brought Jackie to spend the afternoon with us. The evening was spent watching old family videos and having a quick dinner of venison brats, couscous, and fruit. It was a lovely weekend full of great family time.

There's plenty more that has happened since, but I'll cut it off here!

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