Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy 18th Birthday, little C!

I don't know, but I've been told...
Someone's turning 18 years old!
The bad news is, I sing off key.
The good news is, I sing for free. 
Happy birthday, K.T.!

For the record, I didn't find that fun little chant on my own (I found it on Pinterest at this pin...go figure!), but I did modify it to fit. :) Anyway, now that I've got that out of my system, I just wanted to wish my baby (although not so "baby" anymore) sister a very happy 18th birthday. :)

Picture courtesy of Tulsa Expressions Photography on June 11, 2011.
I've watched little C grow up from a tiny thing with a mass of wild (but adorable) curls to a grown lady with sleek brown hair. haha. :) But really. I remember helping pick out the spelling of her name. I remember how big Mama's belly got, and how confused I was that a little human was growing in there (I was only 5, people! Gimme a break). I very vividly remember being checked out of kindergarten by my Papa, followed closely by my K teacher telling me my new sister was here.

It's really hard to believe that was 18 years ago!

Happy birthday to one of the most beautiful women I know! Love you, little C!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter Wonderland

My family came to visit this weekend. They got here about 8 pm on Friday and stayed until about noon on Sunday.

My Meme brought us chocolate-covered peanut butter balls (watch out, diet!) and the best OSU wreath for our door. (She made both herself.) Unfortunately, the OSU wreath was too big for our front door (long story), so we had to stick it on our patio, on the door to our storage room. I'm bummed that more people can't see it there, but maybe it's for the best; we wouldn't want anything to happen to it! Here's a pic:

Go Pokes!

(In case you're wondering, Meme will gladly you make you a wreath of your own if you're willing to exchange a little money. :) She doesn't know I'm making this advertisement for her, so, uh, don't mention it when you call to order your one-of-a-kind, made-with-love door decoration.)

On Saturday, we spent some time shopping before heading out for a night on the town. My sister got a new cell phone and my mom snagged a couple of cute Christmas gifts for my cousin. Afterwards, we met with my mother- and father-in-love and niece, A, to go out. We had tickets to the Gaylord's ICE show that afternoon. This was my family's first experience, and I think it's safe to say they liked it. :)  In case you're not aware, the Gaylord's ICE show features several rooms decorated entirely in ice sculptures. The Gaylord flies dozens of artists in from overseas, and they spent months carving sculptures in the ice. The themes are different every year; this year's theme was "Shrek the Halls." While I didn't snag any pictures myself, J and I have a friend who works there, so I stole borrowed a couple pictures from his page:

Fiona is holding 1 baby and Shrek is holding the other 2, while the other characters sit close.

Beautiful nativity scene
By far, my favorite part was the clear nativity scene. They carve the whole thing out of ice, just like the rest of the sculptures, but they don't ruin any of it with color. The background is black with twinkling lights, and there are lights surrounding it, too. The audio track alternates between the story of Jesus in the manger and a church-y Christmas carol. I'm always slightly surprised at the wealth of Biblically accurate information (since most businesses shy away from anything too Christmas-specific, in fear of offending someone who's not a Christian), but I'm not complaining! It's refreshing to see a business who embraces the Christian foundation on which our country was founded and proudly displays it for all to see. Rock on, Gaylord Texan!

After the ice show, we went to eat. The "kids" (J and me, my sister, and A) sat at one booth while the "grown-ups" sat at the other. At the end of the meal, we coached A on how to do a perfect pouty-lip and convinced her to ask my dad for ice cream. ...It worked. :) 

On Sunday, we went to lunch at a burger joint a few minutes away, and then went to the strip mall again for my family to pick up some last-minute items. They had to leave shortly after noon because my mom and grandma had to get back for a class at church.

Mom decided to snap a pic of J and me on our balcony before they left:

Look closely and you'll see Christmas lights wrapped around our railing.



Looking at those (almost invisible) Christmas lights made me want to show you the other Christmas decorations we have up! Before you laugh at how dinky the decs are, remember that we live in a small space and are waiting on after-Christmas sales to snag good deals on holiday decorations. :)

Snagged this for $5 at a dollar store. Hot glued the banner a little more securely and we've got ourselves some cute Christmas door decor!

Ignore the clutter (the bobby pins are not part of the decs!) and focus on the snowman cuteness.

Our wittle Christmas tree, complete with packages that my mother insists say "MOM" on them. ...They don't. Keep dreaming, Mother! (P.S. We're hoping to snag a life-size Christmas tree later this season.)

The initial stocking were $1 at Target, and the beads/ornaments were 50% off at Hobby Lobby. We don't have a mantle, so this was the best I could do!

"Merry Christmas" stick-ons and a Christmas tree (not pictured) on the windows. I had some left-over ornaments, so I used suction cups to put 'em on the windows.
Ta-da! OK, so it's not much, but it's enough to make us feel somewhat Christmas-y for the next month.

Temperatures dropped pretty dramatically over the weekend and the strong winds made things ever chillier. Hope you're staying warmer than I've been...and hope your Christmas shopping is almost done!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving '11

Thanksgiving 2011 was a success! Unfortunately, through all the events, I forgot to even whip out my camera once, so I have no pictures for this post. sad Sorry! I guess you'll have to rely on my fabulous story-telling skills to get you through this blog entry. happy

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Wednesday, November 23: J's company closed down early, so he was outta there by 3:30 pm. Let the T-Day festivities begin! First things first -- we had a job to do. We met at his parents' addition; we've he's been putting up the addition entrance's Christmas decorations for the past 2 years or so. I helped the first year but wasn't able to make it last year (although a herd of fire ants graciously took my place). This year, I'm back to helping! After two trips to Home Depot and the re-stringing of two lines of lights, we got 'er done! Now we don't have to mess with them again until after the new year. Maybe I'll remember snap a picture of those sometime this season.

Thursday, November 24: J and I discovered we have some sort of weird sleeping disease. See, on days when we have to get up early, our bodies want to sleep in. "5 more miinnnnnuttesss!" can be heard from our room, as we absentmindedly talk to our alarm clocks. {There's also a rumor that a certain Mr. in the household insists on playing "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO on his cell phone before he is able to jump out of bed, but the party in question refuses to comment.} But when we actually are allowed to sleep in, forget it. We're up by 7. It's super-annoying.

We piddled around the house for awhile and then began cooking. I was in charge of green bean casserole -- possibly the easiest side dish to make, but refer to my post about the Burn Fairy if you think I should attempt to make anything more complicated for an important family event. J was in charge of dumplings. See, my Meme makes the best dumplings this side of the Mississippi. Actually, they're probably the best dumplings on any side of the Mississippi, but I have yet to travel far enough east to check it out. She makes them only for big holiday events, since they're kind-of a pain in the you-know-what to make. This was my first Thanksgiving away from home, and J knew I was feeling a little bummed about it, so he called my Meme to get the recipe. If you know my Meme, you know that getting a recipe from her is like trying to get a smile from the guards of Buckingham Palace. It's not that she's not generous enough to give the recipe; let it be known that my Meme is one of the most generous people you'll ever meet. But she's such a good cook (she can practically do it in her sleep) that she can't ever tell you exactly what goes in any of her recipes. If you ask her how to make a dish, you'll probably hear something like this: "Oh, you put a little of this...a dash of that...and you just heat it 'til it looks right!" whatevah Riiiiight. But even though J was a little nervous about making my Meme's dumplings this year, he was determined to do it to give me a little taste of home away from home. heart ...They were delicious! I'm so lucky to have a husband who cares enough about me that he'll tackle my Meme's dumplings in a high pressure situation. happy

We finished cooking and took our dishes + the German chocolate cake my Meme sent home with me after Caitie's academic letter jacket banquet over to J's parents' house. We ate about 3 pm; I'm not sure if I'm supposed to refer to it as lunch or dinner, so I guess I'll just call it linner. Whatever the name, it was yummy and relaxing!

We went over to our friends' house afterward and pre-gamed for Black Friday events. ("Pre-gaming" for Black Friday = eating more pie, in case you didn't know.) J and I had been eying a great deal on a bigger TV for our living room and had plans to snag it during Black Friday. Luckily, due to some divine intervention that morning, we realized that the TV we wanted was already on sale and wasn't going to go on "more sale" during the Black Friday madness. Because of that, we went ahead and ordered it online before we started cooking and had it shipped to a Best Buy warehouse about 30 minutes from our house (convenient!). We didn't have any big ticket items to go for during the actual Black Friday rush, but we were hoping to snag some under-5-dollas movies, and our friends wanted a couple of things, so we were ready to go. Our friend's mom made us yummy Starbucks-esque coffee to hype us up a little before our big showdown. Around 9:30 pm, the 6 of us headed to Walmart.

I've been Black Friday shopping a couple times in Oklahoma, but I only went to Best Buy and maybe Kohl's before heading home. Everyone knows OK doesn't quite have the population that TX does, so I was wondering what we would encounter that night. Surprisingly...it wasn't bad at all! Walmart was a little crazy (shocker) and Best Buy was insanely organized (me likey). Our friends went home after Best Buy, but J and I decided we would venture out to Kohl's to replace some of J's dress shirts and ties.

Umm.....holy crap. I knew something was amiss when the entire parking lot was packed with cars, but we barely ran into anyone in the men's clothing department. I can explain that now: everyone was waiting in line to check out! When J and I had gathered an armful of goods, we started trying to find the end of the check out line. There were lots of people standing in lines, and we were a bit confused, so we decided the best thing to do would be to start at the cashier and follow the people to the back of the line. ....The line snaked around the store twice. TWICE, PEOPLE! By the time we'd made the first lap, my mouth was hanging open and I couldn't seem to get it to shut. We ended up throwing our goods back on the counter and hightailin' it out of there. It was already 2 am and we didn't feel like waiting in line until 5, yannow? One thing about being awake over 19 hours in one day: we slept like babies that night. happy

Friday, November 25: After breakfast brunch, we dived back into the Black Friday rush by venturing to a popular square strip mall in our area. I had a coupon for a certain store where we planned to purchase a niece's gift, and then another store where we were going to purchase our other niece's gift was having a great sale, so we couldn't miss that! J kept laughing at me because I have some sort of shopping radar. For instance, we were in a clothing store and I was looking for two items. I'd already scoped it out online: I knew what two items I needed, what color, and what size. I'd never been in that store in person in that location, so I didn't know how the store was laid out, but...I just let my radar do the guiding. happy I made a beeline for the items and had snagged both of them within 60 seconds of entering the store. Huzzah! pleased

Afterwards, we headed out to pick up our TV. It was a pretty smooth process that made me love Best Buy even more. In case anyone is wondering, our new TV is pretty freakin' cool. It makes our living room look so small, but I'm pumped that we found it for 50% off! We did a little transferring of the original living room TV to our bedroom, and now I can actually lay in bed without my glasses on and still see the TV! How's that for high-tech?!

We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the apartment because my family is visiting tonight We're clean, decorated, and ready for guests now. Bring it, H-family! happy


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

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If you have a Facebook account, I'm sure you've seen your friends participating in the "Reasons to be Thankful" status updates. I decided not to clutter my friends' newsfeed with that; instead, I'll post the completed list one time on our blog. :)


There are 30 days in November, so here are 30 people/things for which I'm thankful:
  1. A mighty and forgiving God who loves me, provides for me, and so much more
  2. An opportunity to live again each day and make a positive impact on the world
  3. J, whom I love more with each passing day
  4. My sister, whom I'm finding out is more like me than I ever imagined
  5. Meme, who inspires me to be crafty, strong, and selfless
  6. Papa, who taught me about hard work and showed me what true love looks like
  7. Mom, who has become a confidante and friend
  8. Dad, whose tough love taught me about strength and perseverance
  9. My mother-in-love and father-in-love, who share their son with me and accept me in their family
  10. My extended family, whom I am growing closer to, thanks to Facebook and Pinterest! hah.
  11. My nieces and nephew, who are so much fun and have such lively personalities
  12. My BFF, K, who has been with me with 6th grade and has the kindest heart I've ever known
  13. My BFF, M, whom I've known only for a few years, but feel like I've known for decades
  14. Other friends and acquaintances, for each one has impacted my life in some way
  15. My health and the health of loved ones, for obvious reasons
  16. J's bosses, who have given him/us so much more than bosses typically do
  17. My clients, who have helped me continue to teach and provide income for my familiy
  18. Certain surrounding school districts, who have allowed me to help in classrooms and network
  19. Our apartment, which is nicer than anything we need, as young, [1/2-] unemployed newlyweds
  20. Our cars, which give us the freedom to travel, part ways, and come back home to each other
  21. Dave Ramsey, whose budgeting system has helped us survive my period of unemployment
  22. Moving to Texas, which has given me an opportunity to be creative in more ways than one
  23. OSU, for, without it, I never would have met my other half
  24. Students (past, current, and future), because they inspire me and keep me youthful
  25. Weekends, because they give us much-needed family time and time to relax
  26. Teachers -- as my teacher or a co-worker, I have learned so much about how to shape lives
  27. Electricity, heat, and air -- such a nice luxury that I often take for granted
  28. Technology, for it keeps me connected and is such a convenience and great resource
  29. Coffee, because it fuels my slow mornings and makes the kitchen smell wonderful
  30. Chapstick, because the wind that comes sweepin' down the plain can be drying! haha
Thanksgiving is a special time, because it forces us to step back and realize how blessed we really are. I hope we can continue feeling thankful, even when it's not November! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Academic Letter Jacket '11

The one good thing about not teaching this year is that I have free time whenever I need it. When my sister announced that she was receiving an academic letter jacket for being in the top 10% of her class, I was excited to attend. The banquet is held on a Monday evening, and I would never have been able to attend if I had a full-time teaching job this year, so.... let that be a lesson to always thank God for unanswered prayers. :)

Anyway, the ceremony lasted a couple of hours and included dinner fit for a king + a cute slideshow of all the recipients at various stages in their lives + the actual receiving of the coveted jacket + lots and lots of pictures.

My sister looked stunning, as always, in a vintage-inspired peach dress with flutter sleeves and perfectly coordinating accessories. I like to think she got her fashion sense from me, but...who am I kidding? If she's Heidi Klum, I'm...uh...Heidi Klum's less-fashionable older sister. (Why do I always write myself into a corner like that? What an anticlimactic joke. Oops. Sorry, audience...all two of you.)

Anyway, after suffering though those paragraphs, I think anyone who's still reading deserves some pictures. So here we go:

She's sitting with the other top 10% of her class, but I didn't know how they would feel about being featured on our blog, so I cut them out.

Oh, wait. That's the only picture I have. The photographer didn't show up, and my mom's camera's memory card failed her, so.... this is all we have. {Oops again.}

In any case, congrats, Caitie! We're proud of you!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nick + Kaci = < 3

I've been sitting on this news for almost 24 hours now, trying to give the happy couple time to tell their friends and family on their own, but...I just can't hold it in any longer!

Nick and Kaci are getting married!!



The engagement happened on what is supposed to be the luckiest day of the century: 11.11.11. And what a lucky day it was for those two. :)



I've known Kaci since she transferred to McLoud Intermediate in the 6th grade. She is one of the kindest people you will ever meet and one of my best friends. I truly love her like a sister.


I've known Nick since high school. He went to a different high school than Kaci and I did, and he was a couple grades ahead of us, so we didn't really hang out much, but I knew of him. Nick and I didn't really start talking or actually hanging out until I was in college, but even in high school, it was easy to tell he's a great guy with a big heart.


In 2008, I moved from my college dorm back to my parents' house and began commuting a couple times a week. I was loving getting to spend time with my hometown friends again! One evening in the fall of 2008, I saw that my college was playing a basketball game against the local college that was 20 minutes from my parents' house. I saw this as an opportunity to watch a basketball game, be with friends, and get out of the house (and away from my study materials), so I jumped at the chance. I remember very vividly that it was storming (hail included) that night and I was wearing my new leopard rain boots. That doesn't really have much to do with Nick and Kaci's story. ...I just like shoes. :)

Anyway, I had 3 main friends that I hung out with in my hometown (er, still do!): Kaci, Joe, and Nick. So I immediately texted all of them to ask if they wanted to go to the game with me. They all did, and they met at my house so I could drive (hence, why I remember that stupid storm). Prior to the moment when everyone climbed into my car, I hadn't realized that Nick and Kaci had never met before. So I awkwardly introduced them while I was driving. (I like to partly blame the awkwardness on my driving role, but we all know I'm just an awkward person in real life. Period.)

At the game, Nick found a few other friends he knew and talked to them a bit, so we didn't see him the entire time. We had fun and drove back home. I didn't really think much of it.

A few months later, I had dived into teaching 8th grade English full time, taking 12 hours of graduate classes, and trying to have some semblance of a social life, which included my new boyfriend (and now husband!), Jon. I was struggling with my incredibly busy schedule, so conversations with my friends were few and far between. But, like all good friends, they understood my situation, and we were all able to pick up where we left off when I had a free moment to spare. :) So anyway, during this time, I didn't get to talk to anyone much. So when Kaci texted me during the spring of 2009 to tell me she and Nick had been hanging out, I was pretty surprised. They both have a love of cars, and they had been working on their vehicles together.

Since then, they continued to hang out more and more until they were almost inseparable. It was so neat to watch their friendship grow into love. <3



I've known them separately, and I've known them together. I can honestly say that I have never seen either of them as happy as they appear to be when they are together. I am SO, SO excited for these two and for their newest journey together: marriage.

Congrats, Nick and Kaci!! Love you both!



Monday, November 7, 2011

Football and Earthquakes...oh, my!

Exciting things have been happening for J and me! Here's a run-down of what's been going on in our lives:

  • We're house shopping! Eeeekk! I'm so excited/nervous! We've toured houses once and been looking online. Our realtor is a doll, and we're going out again with her this coming Saturday. We don't have to close a deal until the end of April, so we have a pretty stress-free shopping period. I'm so excited to stop paying rent and start paying toward something we own! (Not to mention, I L-O-V-E decorating!!) ..This also means we've been watching a lot of HGTV and DIY channel. :)
  • I found this online application (called Jobulator) that syncs up to the online system schools in the area are using (Aesop). It sits on your desktop all day and alerts you the second a job is posted. They're working on an iPhone app, too, which is super-exciting! There is an annual fee, but it's already paid for itself -- within the first hour of purchasing, I landed 6 English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) jobs in my dream district! Yippee!
  • I was given the opportunity to interview for a 6-week substituting position as an ELAR 8th grade teacher in my dream district. I interviewed last week and should know something by the end of this week. I don't feel that I did that well in the interview, but I'm trusting God that His Will will be done. The possibility of teaching a "regular" 8th grade ELAR and an AP 8th grade ELAR class is so exciting...not to mention, it's in my goal district!
  • Last Friday, when I was substituting in my dream district for a 5th grade ELAR class, I got THREE phone calls from teachers personally requesting that I sub for them that day. That has never happened, and I was already teaching in a great class that day, so I was grinning like the Cheshire cat. :)
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  • J and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the OSU v. K-State match this past Saturday. It was certainly a nail-biter (I think my heart stopped approximately 3952035 times), but O-State came out on top. ...Because of our win and 'Bama's loss to LSU, O-State moved up to the #2 slot in the rankings. This has never happened my lifetime, and I'm SO excited to see OSU finally get some positive attention for football. SO neat!
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  •  When we visited my parents' house this weekend, we were hit with 2 big earthquakes. The first one occurred on Friday night/Saturday morning, about 2:15 am. I definitely felt it, although J slept right through it. It was such a crazy moment, and definitely unlike any other I've ever experienced. I'm a little embarrassed to say that my first thought was that there were demons in the room or that an exorcism was taking place (I blame the Halloween season for this!), but am relieved to say that it was just an earthquake. :) The one I felt was a 4.7, and it definitely shook the house! The other occurred while we were celebrating an O-State win in Stillwater, so I didn't get to feel it. I'm a little bummed that I didn't feel it, but I won't wish for a re-do! :) Reports are saying that the second earthquake was anywhere from a 5.2 to a 5.7, which is HUGE for Oklahoma. I'm still in shock that OK now boasts earthquakes AND tornadoes!
I'll leave you with a couple of short YouTube videos that made me laugh. This first one is of Kirk Herbstreit and his reaction to the earthquake in Stillwater. He was up much higher than J and I were (in the press boxes), so it makes sense that he felt the movement. Watch the very beginning of the video (his eyes bulge out when the earthquake hits), and then listen to his reaction when he finally gets to speak at the end:



And this video pretty much sums up the typical Okie reaction to the earthquake. Can't you just picture this poor feller saying something like this: "Hot diggity, Bessie! There's a danged ol' earthquake here in Okie-homa!" MAN, I wish that would've been caught on tape. But what he did catch was good enough, I suppose:



LOL. Have a good day!