Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Calf Fries and Cowtown

Before I left for Texas Friday I had just finished up grading World War II tests. When I got to this one, I had to chuckle. I mean...isn't that sweet? And no, this kid didn't get bonus points. I'm terrible, huh?

Anywhoodle, Cash had gotten us reservations at the Sheraton in downtown Ft. Worth for the weekend. I never realized how different Ft. Worth and Dallas were. Whoosh! It's almost like having Arkansas and NYC next to each other. It was still a great time though. On my way in I noticed the Texas Wesleyan School of Law. I had thought intensely about applying to this law school last fall, and it was #1 on my wish list. Guess what! It was next door to our hotel. Curazee.

Yes, I did.
Yeah, I took a picture of the sign. Cash said, "Are you serious? You are taking a picture of a sign of a school you don't go to?"


Someone else tell me you would have done the same thing.

Okay, so Saturday morning we caught a ride on Molly the Trolley and headed to the Stockyards. It was freezing..I mean FREEZING..that morning, and we were walking around looking for a trolley stop. All of a sudden a trolley was coming up the road witih "Stockyards" written on it. Cash flagged them down, and the driver let us hop on. I don't think that was protocol, but hey, it worked. So Cash and the trolley driver started talking, and he asked Cash about work. When Cash told him he worked for an oil company, the guy laughs and says, "Boy, you better be finding a new job! We almost outta oil!! hahahahahaha." I didn't know if the guy was serious or an everyday comedian or what. I guess he was serious, because they got into a deep conversation about how much oil is in the States. Leave it to my boyfriend to try to inform the general public on energy independence. He looked at me at one point and whispers, "He's just uneducated on it." Lucky guy, he got a free education on it this weekend! ;)

I tease, but I have loved learning about energy the past year. It's something most people in the States don't understand. Anyway, I know what you're thinking...please, Avery, not another political post! Okay, I refrain.

As Cash was chatting it up with the trolley driver, I got to take some pictures in peace without him harping on my "bad" habit. I thought the trolley was beautiful. That is not odd at all.

Molly the Trolley early in the AM
Cash hates pictures. Hate is not a strong enough word. Cash LOATHES pictures. And he was quite embarrassed that I had taken my scarf and wrapped it around my head as a shaylah, because I firmly believed I had gotten an ear infection from walking in the cold, windy weather. Yeah..I got you a picture.

Cash teaching the driver about oil; my shaylah; 2 seconds later him getting mad because I took a picture. HAHA
We did compromise, though. I told him if he would take 1 picture on the trolley and promise to take 1 picture that night, I would refrain from any more pictures of him. He agreed. And by agreeing he made me believe I'm winning the picture war.
heading to the Stockyards on Molly
At the Stockyards we found some...interesting??...items. It was quite different than I had expected. I don't know what I really thought cowtown would be like. But I guess growing up on a farm with horses and cattle I wasn't blown away with it all. To be honest it seemed kind of hoakey, but I reminded myself that the typical tourist didn't grow up on a farm/ranch. I suppose it's not hoakey to a tourist. Nonetheless I'm glad we got to go and experience it. Now we can say we have been there, done that, got the t-shirt ballcap...
"United States of Texas"
Can you believe Texas would have a cap like that? I can. It's like you can smell the arrogance as soon as you cross the OK/TX border. Or is that the relief of getting out of Oklahoma? ;)

Now this next little item made its appearance in the back of a tiny shop on the outskirts of the Stockyards. I couldn't believe it was actually for sale...in a store..where people go. In shock I took a picture because I had to share with y'all what I saw...
"Obama: Fiddlin' around while thousands of small businesses are goin' down!"
I beg of you, please don't send me hate mail or tell me I'm racist or anythinng of the sort because of that picture. I just reported it; I didn't do it. And just remember, everyone has picked on Texas's last president GW for 12 years now. They are a little tired of getting all the criticism. Would it be okay if that was Bush? People would laugh hysterically from Maine to Hawaii (to the Middle East). That's my disclaimer...no hate mail por favor.

While we were walking, we were looking at the stars along the sidewalk. I noticed one for Louis L'amour, and I had to take a picture. My dad and his brothers have read probably every Louis L'amour book ever written. I have a ton of them in my classroom. It's unfortunate, though, because I can't get anyone to read them. Anyway, I think he's cool. They had Mark Twain as well...woot woot to the Language Arts!!

Louis L'amour
That afternoon we went back and started getting ready for a night out on the town. First we went to eat at this nice western restaurant, Reata. Y'all...you won't believe what I did!! I must be in love, because I let Cash talk me into eating CALF FRIES!! Or mountain oysters as we call them here in Arkansas. Yeah, I did that. They were, umm, okay. I may eat them again in the future, but they weren't my favorite. And just the mere idea of eating them made me gag. I'm gagging now just thinking about it.

However, as BRAVE as I was, Cash wouldn't let me snap a picture of calf fries inside of this nice restaurant. Bahumbug. Picture scrooge.

After dinner we walked over to Bass Hall for LeAnn Rimes in concert!! Y'all know I was excited. Her song "One Way Ticket" was one of the first songs I ever remember learning completely. Bless my family's hearts. They endured my tone deaf self trying to sing on the scale of a world-class artist. No wonder my parents were so happy when I fell asleep. But, boy, I'll tell you one thing. I could belch it from the shower like nobody's business.

Cash doesn't like country music. At all. So I was shocked he bought tickets to a LeAnn Rimes concert. Then I realized it was in a symphony hall, and she was singing with the orchestra. I had never been to Bass Hall. It was beautiful inside and out. 

Bass Hall angels

closer up of one of the angels

LeAnn was a wild one. Her voice could melt the polar ice caps...if they aren't already, Mr. Gore. Honestly, I've never heard a voice that astounding in my life. The radio doesn't do her justice.

Her persona, on the other hand, could use some refining. When the music stopped, she was lost as to how to communicate. I don't mean to gossip (wow, I sound like I've been at the beauty shop), but seemed a little off. Voice? Amazing. Ability to speak fluently? Negative, co-chief.

Putting LeAnn aside, we got to dress up and have what we here in Arkansas would deem a fancy date. I love getting all dressed up and having date nights with Cash. Spoiled plum rotten, I know. 
waiting for the doors to open

date night at Bass Hall

But the next day it was back to reality...after getting lost in Ft. Worth. I was bound and determined not to get on a toll road, so I was trying to manuever away from all of them. However, I found it impossible to drive out of this particular area without getting on a toll road. I finally sucked it up an hour and a half later and found my way out of the metroplex. Gahhhh. Took me so much longer to get home since I had squandered time just crying around about not wanting to hit a toll road. My best days usually aren't when I'm leaving Cash and traveling 5 1/2 hours home. Not usually. Sigh.

I tried to make Monday a great day...and succeeded. I had a half day off work for a doctor's appointment, so I decided to eat lunch with a sweet friend (shout out, Mal..what what!!) beforehand and get a massage afterwards. Now that's how you make a Monday a good day. That and you look at all your pictures from your blissful weekend in Ft. Worth with your debonair beau. :)

See...I have other adjectives besides just "handsome" to use about him...

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Rebuttal

Today...no pictures. No funny stories. No gushing of my handsome beau. Just a perspective through my political lens.

I realize the State of the Union took place on Tuesday. This is Friday. Forgive me. I spent last night discussing presidential elections in the 1960s with a group that far surpasses my political knowledge; therefore, I spent the first portion of the week studying and reading.

Also, I realize that it's not couth to discuss politics. But I do. For me it's like discussing Eli Manning vs Tom Brady leading up to next weekend, Karl Malone vs Michael Jordan in the 90s (the mailman!), Michael Phelps vs world records. I lurve me some politics!

Furthermore, I realize it's not appropriate to pick one party and hammer the other party, unless you are FOX or MSNBC. But I do.

And finally, I understand you may disagree with my political thought process. And that's okay! In the political arena, I love a good debate. Hence the reason I have enjoyed the plethora of Republican Primary debates while simultaneously watching Gingrich blast every media personality. That is reality TV at its finest. So scooch on over Kim K. The presidential hopefuls are taking over television. Well, my television anyway.

If you know me, you could see how I would possibly lean farther right than left on the political grid. Albeit I am from Arkansas, as Cash would like to say "Clinton's state." So it's always a political saga when I hang out with my grandfather who is an old school Democrat. I would like to note, however, that I do admire the ambition of the Clintons. That does not cast me into the liberal arena, but coming from a state of such poverty and low education levels in the past I have to give kudos to the Mr. and Mrs. for their efforts in transforming their own lives and rising to the level of government in which they have found themselves the past few decades. Not to mention I really admire women who have that much influence nationally and internationally. No, not just Secretary Clinton, but she is respectable on that note.

Since I do have conservative viewpoints and seem rather stereotypical in that, I would like to also point out that I actually have thought behind what I believe. I didn't hear a preacher or good ol' boy say it was okay to vote Republican, therefore I do. I study and analyze politics. While it may seem rather "duh" to say I'm a right leaner, it did come from analysis, circumstances, and critique...which brings me to my rebuttal of President Obama's S of the U.

I took notes on my phone Tuesday night while watching the president, and I felt my pulse almost kill me over on occasion as it was vigorously pounding. I do not exaggerate.

On the other hand I do want to start off by saying I honor the fact that President Obama acknowledged and appreciated the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as the president made his way to his podium. The Navy SEALs and all of our special forces work in conditions and endure trials that we could never imagine. Never. So I do thank the president for recognizing Secretary Panetta and the team of SEALs responsible for bringing liberty to a fellow American.

It's hard to limit a rebuttal when the State of the Union concerned every topic in America at this moment. I will try. Just bear with me.

President Obama talked of teachers being laid off. False. A huge need for teachers in America actually exists. Being in this field I understand why so many people in my generation forego this occupation; and many who do finish college with this degree stray away within 5 years. The number is right around 50% in fact, because this isn't the education system you and I grew up with, folks. That's a different debate.

He wants to determine who is a good teacher and lay off the ones who aren't. I have an idea for getting good teachers: pay them more and allow their profession to be seen as respectable again. Otherwise you will NOT receive the best and brightest from the universities. Bottom Line. Furthermore, we need competition in education. True. But blaming the teachers seems to be the way so many want to turn. As an educator I feel blamed by the government for everything a kid could possibly do wrong. Forget the 80% of my students who passed their state test last year being advanced or proficient, forget the ones who come back and tell me how much my Social Studies class changed their thinking, forget the countless hours I spend just talking to kids about life. (And I would say most educators are the same way.) What happens is that a few kids don't want to change, they refuse to do their own work, they are allowed to rule their homes and people around them. They bring down the majority, and thus the teacher is responsible. It's quite disheartening to hear politicians speak of what needs to change in our education system.

So what needs to be changed? Without saying "pert near everything" one big answer sticks out to me: student responsibility. Teachers have college degrees and are professional adults. Students are merely children who need to learn. If you weighed who might be more likely to do their part of the task, I would say the professional teacher. So get off their backs and instead support them; make the students responsible for themselves. (I know what many will say--I hear about a teacher in the news, yada yada yada. How many banks are in the news for failure? Plenty. Yet we still have some GREAT financial institutions which people use daily..DAILY. How many politicians have been in the news for corruption? Plenty. Yet we still vote for politicians and allow them to run our country. Same for teachers.)

Basically, if we have a law stating no dropout, which is what President Obama called for, I would venture to say we would see more failure as teachers would be expected to concentrate on those few who choose on their own to fail; thus more teachers would find different occupations. I've had students look me square in the eyeballs and say, "No. I don't want to." I'm left trying to coax them into doing an assignment when I have 25 other students vigorously working and wanting to learn yet receive little attention, because under federal mandate I have to make sure no student gets left behind. Quit trying to raise the bar for teachers. Quit trying not to leave anyone behind. Some want to be left behind. Leave them there, or we will all be drug back. Yes, I said it.

And for crying outloud quit comparing our education system with the rest of the world unless we are willing to make ours like the rest of the world. Germany: By about 5th grade students are classified into 1 of 3 variations of schools depending on teacher recommendation of student ability. They are geared towards vocational work or an path to a university. We can't compare ourselves to that. We are teaching the brightest with students who have no desire to even learn. Also, we don't count teacher recommendation for much. Yet we want to compete with places like Germany and South Korea on an international basis and scratch our heads while asking, "What are they doing we aren't?"

Newt Gingrich said a few weeks ago in a debate he would like to see people receiving adult education while being laid off verses sitting at home receiving a check. I thought it was brilliant. When President Obama started speaking of a similar circumstance Tuesday, I thought, "Now that's something I can agree with." Yet he took it to an extreme saying he wanted it all in one place, only one company in charge (the government), and no competition. Competition in education yields success just like competition in business. To have companies get better and better, they need to be motivated by competition. Look at the model of Phoenix. Their city government allows for competition, even among city work such as sanitation. They have become the epitome of success in city government. Why? Because competition within their city and even government work has allowed for satisfied customers and brilliantly ran companies.

The president also claimed we see college as a luxury and not everyone can go. 2 problems with this. 1. It's unfortunate that so much debt is accumulated in college. However, I think it's pretty simple to receive a scholarship or work (what a thought) or even receive a loan. It's not for the rich and famous. 2. Not everyone needs to go to college. We have many great jobs out there for those with a high school diploma. Welders, electricians, plumbers...they don't need college to have a wonderful job. And the world doesn't need all business majors and no custodians. We need all professions, not just those with college degrees.

Furthermore, President Obama claimed that he has strengthened the border on the Mexico line. This does not correlate what the governors from Texas or Arizona are saying. In fact Governor Brewer and President Obama were seen exchanging some pretty heated words on the tarmac in Phoenix Wednesday. Governor Brewer has seen her state get sued by the federal government for laws on immigration. Don't sit and bluff about your strong immigration laws, Mr. President.

On a different note he praised Steve Jobs and the success of Apple. At the same time he discussed creating more jobs in America. Want more jobs in America? Don't do what Jobs and Apple did, employ approximately 20,000 people overseas. While I personally think competition is great and Apple is a very successful company, I also think it's outlandish for the president to claim he wants more jobs created in America yet praises an American company which sends 20,000 jobs overseas. Quite frankly I feel it was a pity statement for the sadness the Jobs family endured this year and used as a propaganda move. I am reverent to their sorrowful time, but I loathe that the president thrust it into the political arena. Steve Jobs didn't even like President Obama.

For the highly debated focus on energy, the president appointed Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy. While I have nothing against Mr. Chu personally, he is noted for his claims of global warming. Environmentalists are in a fire storm against oil companies because of clean air and water. Whether these companies provide that clean air and water is not what I'm trying to debate here. The simple point I want to prove is that these same environmentalists don't mind buying foreign oil which is under little to no restrictions like our American oil companies are. Basically, we are diminishing hope for American energy independence and uplifting these foreign companies all while saying we want a clean environment and American jobs. Just a thought...but if Iran melts the polar ice caps through their energy efforts (if that's really what causes global warming), then it won't matter what American companies did to prevent global warming. We share the same polar ice caps, atmosphere, and ozone.

In the year I have spent learning about the oil industry, I a) don't believe they are making a wretched environment nor b) receive subsidies in excess. It takes subsidies to make it economical to drill, therefore make prices the average consumer can afford. For those who argue getting away from petroleum, I will explain what I've learned over the past year. It doesn't matter if it's wind energy, electricity, whatever--you have to have petroleum to support these alternate forms. Petroleum drives all sources of energy. Let's say they do invent this amazing vehicle that can somehow go 500 miles on an electrical charge. You still need petroleum to help produce the electricity. We won't get away from petroleum; we need to support the companies who invest in it.

And, oh, the president bragged on past creations such as the Hoover Dam. I am no genius, that has been made obvious. However, I would like to point out that a president who runs to environmentalists for blockading such things as an oil pipeline would not have gotten support from those same environmentalists for such a massive project as the Hoover Dam. I just wanted to point out that form of bigotry.

If you're still with me here I know you've just invested time out of your life that you will never get back again. And you invested that time into listening about my personal rebuttal of our president's State of the Union. It's glamorous in America, isn't it? That I can blog about the highest office in our country without getting thrown in jail?

Still yet...while I disagree with so many propositions and ideals of this administration, I do want to point out that I highly respect the office of Mr. Obama. I appreciate his efforts in making a better America. While we disagree on how that should be done, I am grateful for his tenacity in striving for what he truly believes is best.

But wouldn't it be nice if we all really did bleed red? 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What a Small World!

For a few weeks now Cash and I have been tossing around the idea of going to Romania for our friends' wedding this summer. Every time I think about that, I get a little overwhelmed with how big yet how small our world really is. I never even knew much about Romania nevertheless thought I'd have the opportunity to go there.

It is no lie that I love culture. American culture, African culture, rural, urban, European, mountainous, seaside...I am not picky. I just absolutely love learning about the lifestyle of other people. When I went overseas this summer, the one thing I looked forward to the most was experiencing the real life of an Arab woman. True that I got to experience more than I imagined, but I still get blown away when I think about the culture I was quickly introduced to. Regardless of my experience there, I'm still amazed with the culture. When I'm in the airport and see an Arab woman, I usually greet them in Arabic. I don't know...that may be cheesy...but I have a sense of connection to that culture. I think I always will.

When my students ask if I always wanted to be a teacher and what would I do differently, I tell them honestly that I wish I would've known about sociology before my senior year. Hands down it was my favorite class in college, but I didn't take it until the spring semester of my junior year. Now I love teaching Social Studies, but I see the direct correlation. When I teach, I get to explore the world, learn about cultures, and try to integrate them into a lesson.

And maybe some of my adoration of other cultures came from living 20 minutes north of a town with a population of 3,500 people. I saw one culture and always wondered what other places were like. Or maybe the adoration comes from being thrust into a university setting and trying to find friends and feeling like an outcast and failure for most of it. Sure I look back and remember great times, but college was by no means the best time of my life. It gave me a sense of appreciation for people who were welcoming, and now I find myself finding the "newbie" whether it's at church, work, or in the community.

Perhaps that's why last spring I sat by a Vietnamese man every Tuesday night in class. It was his first semester in the States, and I tried so hard to help him immerse into this culture. One day he came to speak in my Social Studies classes as we talked about the Vietnam War. We've tried to keep up with one another since that class, and I got an e-mail from him today. He asked if we could meet up soon to catch up; he got to go back to Vietnam for the summer and wanted to tell me all about spending time with his wife and daughter. He also said he brought me a gift back. Tears swelled up in my eyes when I read that, because I was so touched that he had felt such a friendship with me. I can't get over that. That means the world to me.

That semester I also made a friend, Paola, from Colombia. Every Monday night I would take her home, and she would tell me all about her homeland and how much she missed it. She always hugged and kissed my cheek when she would get out of the vehicle. Something about those cultures really entice me. My family was always very "huggy" growing up, so I like to think we actually descended from a place like Colombia. haha. Truth be known we are European and Native American, cowboys and Indians. We hated each other. ha.

Yesterday I got to talk to 2 of my sweet friends, both of whom live in Europe. Milena is in Romania, and we are now practicing my Romanian. I have only learned how to say "I love you" but she says it is similar to Spanish. Every time we talk, she ends with "kisses" or something of the sort...and I think that's such a neat part of her culture. Actually, come to think of it...I also know the word "prost." That was a mistake!
a picture of Milena and Marius I stole from Milena :) Isn't she beautiful?
I also got to talk to my friend Simoni who lives in Germany. She was an exchange student my junior year of high school, and we have stayed friends all these years. This fall I actually got to see her as she and her now husband (shut the front door!) made their way back to Arkansas. We reminisced about our friendship in high school, her short tenure on our school's basketball team, and the fun time we had at prom that year. When she was living here, she dated one of my best guy friends so inevitably we spent a lot of time together. Just kind of crazy that our worlds were so far apart growing up, but now we can talk at any given time because of social media and technology.
eating with Simoni in Ozark
Now I know I'm not a world traveler, and it will probably take me quite a long time to be much of a traveler outside of the States again. And that breaks my heart. I always dreamed about the many places to go and things to see all over the world. I pray for the moment when I know I'm ready again, when I know I can sit on a plane and fly back across that ocean. I have so many things I want to see and do:
  • go to an Olympics
  • visit a tribe in Africa
  • eat real Thai food, in Thailand (as much as I love King and I)
  • see the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro
  • explore Antarctica (via ship. ha)
  • backpack through parts of Scotland
  • watch a bullfight in Spain and be able to speak Spanish while I'm there
  • eat fresh pasta in a cafe in Italy
  • tour a concentration camp
  • dive off the coast of Australia
Whoops, I was supposed to marry a rich man for all that, wasn't I? haha. When this summer happened, I closed my heart to the world, literally and figuratively. I forgot those dreams I always had tucked away, and I was content with staying in Arkansas and Texas for the rest of my life. But the past couple days speaking with my international friends, it's really opened back up my desire to go and see and do. I pray I always have a heart for seeking out the person who is having a difficult time adjusting to this life. They do, afterall, seem to seek me out. It's wild! But I know what it's like to feel alone in a new place, to leave your family and friends, to dislike the food, to think everything smells funky, to not even know how to call home.

So basically I guess what I'm trying to say is, "Do you know anyone in your world that could benefit from a friendship with you?" I always have to go back to that when I start feeling lonely and that no one here in little ol' Alma, Arkansas is my friend. I mean, really? How selfish and lame is that? My mom lives 30 minutes away for crying out loud. But I do get like sometimes..thinking I don't have a friend in the world.

I don't know...guess I am feeling a little adventurous today, missing my friends from far away, and pondering if I do welcome others into my world enough. I think we get so comfortable with our life or job or pew at church and we forget to step out into the aisle and just be that feeling of home for someone else. That's my challenge for all of us today...be "home" for someone.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

365 degree turn

Three hundred sixty-five days ago I was sitting at work when a friend and co-worker sent me an instant message. It was a link that changed my life.

When I opened the links that she kept sending me, I soon realized that each one was a different guy, all single. I ran to her room between classes and got the low down on what this was. She explained that this lady in northwest Arkansas, Kelly, does a "Show Us Your Life" every Friday. This Friday happened to be "Show Us Your Singles." I remember laughing hysterically and saying, "Oh my goodness. That is crazy."

I still think it's crazy. Ha.

My friend begged me all day to comment on someone's blog. There was a guy who liked turkey hunting, so she sent me his link. Meehhh. He was all right. Another guy, it was written, was super funny and the family comedian. Meehhh. He was okay. Nothing about any of them really struck me as, "Oh man, that guy's got it going on."

It had been a very long time since I had really dated anyone, and I just didn't even know if I was ready in a normal scenario nevertheless try to talk to someone I had never met before. And like I said, none of them were striking me to the point that it changed my mind.

So that Friday night I didn't feel well, and I stayed home instead of going to the same friend's house. In curiosity I got back on the same blog. Many more people had been added at that point, and I remember clicking on each one and thinking, "Holy cow, these people are crazy. These people are straight up crazy."

Then one caught me eye. It read, "Long, Tall Texan." Ewww. I hated Texas and the ego associated with it. I clicked on that link expecting to seem some tall, skinny, lanky cowboy in tight Wranglers standing in a rodeo arena after riding a wild bronc. In all seriousness, that's what I pictured with the title.

You know what I got instead?

I'm no genius, but I knew that wasn't the visual I had had in my head. I literally remember closing my mouth shut with my hand...I thought he was just mega gorgeous. I stared at his picture for pert near forever. As I read what his sister-in-law had written about him, I had no idea what a petroleum geologist did. All I knew was that he apparently loved sports and the outdoors and Jesus...and that's all I really wanted.

I logged off and went back to watching TV thinking a guy that good looking couldn't possibly be nice. But I just kept thinking about this guy from Texas and for the life of me I couldn't focus on anything else. An hour or two later I found myself back in my office on this very computer trying to muster the courage to say something...anything. I noticed several girls had already expressed interest, but I finally said, "What the heck? It shouldn't be embarrassing. I'll probably never see this guy, so I won't have to worry about him thinking I am creepy or anything."

The next mornning I was keeping gate at a 7th grade basketball game and constantly checking my e-mail. Constantly. I got on Facebook and had a message from his sister-in-law, and I nearly peed all over myself. But I was still at the game and had to control my excitement. That night this "long, tall Texan" added me on Facebook and finally messaged me the next morning. By Wednesday he had asked for my phone number and called me. We talked 3 hours that first night.

Within 2 weeks we had scheduled a time for him to come to Arkansas and visit. Although we had never met at that point, I was enamored. My stomach was in all sorts of knots anxiously awaiting his arrival at the Little Rock airport. The day he was to fly in we actually got a snow day out of school, so I just paced around all day long. I got to the airport, called my sister, and told her I was leaving. I was too nervous to actually pick him up! Luckily, she convinced me to stay.

Finally, his plane arrived. When he called to say he was coming down the escalator, I was seriously too shy to even look up. I was so scared. Scared that he would turn around and run back. Scared that I would turn around and run back (ha). Scared that he was different than what I expected. But also scared that this really might be it...what in the world would I do with myself?

I finally looked up at him and will never forget that moment. I think I was in love right then. He got to the bottom and gave me a big hug, and since that moment he's been the one person whose hugs I've looked forward to the most.

1 year. I can't even believe it. 1 year ago today I sat there wondering if I should put myself out there and say hi to a stranger. Now I sit here with 365 days of memories together and a life I can't imagine not being a part of.

January 2011: Our first e-mail, phone call, and numerous conversations...little did he know how long they would end up being! ;)

February 2011: Our first official meeting although it seemed as though I had known him for a lifetime. Our first real date. His first time to be pulled over in Arkansas, meet my family, and get a picture with Popeye.

our first picture
first Valentine's Day
March 2011: I took him to his first round of horse races in Hot Springs. Then I spent Spring Break in Midland, the first of many trips. I was so nervous to go and meet his family. He showed me drilling rigs, pumpjacks, old Midland, and a gazillion wonderful restaurants. He had a crawfish boil at his parents' house because he knew how much I loved the mess out of some crawfish. I learned that I don't want to live in the country in Midland, I should put on more sunscreen when laying out, and I could meet great friends in TX too. I met the sister-in-law who had written the blog, Ross and Barbara, and everyone else whom Cash had told me so many stories about (including Jett). Hard to believe life without them all now.
Jett playing as Barb and I laid out

play night
my first time to see a rig

the day at Texas Tech

 April 2011: I went back to Midland for Easter. Cash surprised me with a pearl necklace he had bought me at a geology conference in Houston. That's what happens when you date a guy who knows his rocks and minerals! He also took me to my first Midland Rockhounds game.

May 2011: My best friend from high school, Natalie, got married at one of my favorite places on Earth and I got to take Cash to his first Arkansas wedding! He also came in the weekend of my birthday and helped me celebrate with all the people I love as I was leaving only a few days later to the Middle East.

going to Nat's wedding
rodeo action--we go every year for my bday

at my going away party
 June 2011: Cash took me to Dallas and watched me as I made it through security as I was headed on a trip of a lifetime. He got up early several mornings just to coax me through staying another day and listening to me sob about the smells, the food, the heat. Then he got up very early one morning to hear my mom tell him what had happened. He stayed up with me all morning until it was final that I was leaving the Middle East and coming back to the States. After a terrible flight to Amsterdam, he stayed up with me again. Then he met us for dinner in Abilene when I got to fly home. I can't even begin to explain to you what it felt like to finally see him after what we had just went through...and still do. He's my rock.

July 2011: I got to spend more time in Midland after thinking I wouldn't get to spend any time there over the summer. We spent the 4th celebrating with Aaron and Jeanne in San Antonio. I watched him finish his first cycling race. He took me to his company picnic at the Rockhounds game. And we just got to enjoy time together before I went back to work.

an evening of golf with Cash and Nick

cycling for MS

so proud of him!
at the San Antonio riverwalk
August 2011: We had breakfast the morning of August 1, then I drove 10 hours home and went back to work full-time teaching 8th grade. It was a hard month without him toppled with being back at work, but he was there everyday for me to talk to. I was so ready for Labor Day! And then his niece Toby was born, making him the uncle of 2 of the prettiest little girls in the world.

September 2011: Cash came to Arkansas for Labor Day weekend. It seemed like an eternity since I had seen him, and I was so happy when that black Dodge pulled onto Country Lane Drive!

October 2011: We met up in Arlington with his brother, sister-in-law, mom, and BOTH nieces! It was my first time seeing little Toby, and I always love playing with Lena. We had dinner in Ft Worth where Aaron and Jeanne helped me make friends from Arkansas as we bonded over calling the Hogs. The girl sitting next to me finally asked, "Do you know what's going on?!" I said, "We are calling the Hogs!!" She was mortified. The next week I flew to Midland for Claytie's Ranch Party. Best birthday party of my life, hands down. I think I celebrated on the level with Claytie. Oak Ridge Boys and Cash Pullin both in the same night...chalk that up to a great night! Cash also took me to my first Midland High football game as we spent time with Kelli and Dean. Awesome game!

Ranch Party 2011

I <3 Jeanne. Thanks for writing that blog post!

with Toby at Aaron's alumni game

Ranch party

my first Midland High football game...Go Bulldogs!
November 2011: The weekend before Thanksgiving Cash got to come up to Arkansas and go with me to my brother-in-law's first basketball game of the season. Great game as Gravette beat Siloam Springs for the first time in probably 20 years. He finally got to eat at AQ Chicken, and we went to Crystal Bridges.

Crystal Bridges
sorry it's sideways! ha
December 2011: The Pullins let me in on their family Christmas, and I got to spend 6 days with Cash. We made great friends from Romania in Milena and Marius, spent a day filling feeders and checking game cams, celebrated New Year's at Kelli and Dean's, and had New Year's dinner with his family. It was a wonderful holiday break!

filling feeders
 January 2012: Cash came to speak to our Science classes about his job as a geologist. Although it's still way over my head to discuss geology, I couldn't believe how much I had learned in a year's time. He was great with the kids, but I have to say he begged for a foot massage by the end of the day. I took him to his first game at the Airedale Arena and to Oark Cafe. What a weekend..ha!

after his first day of teaching
in the middle of a geology lesson
When I woke up this morning I had 2 texts: one from Cash's brother, a picture of a hog he shot just to rub that in my face. And one from Cash telling me happy "anniversary." As I went through the day I just thought of how much my life has changed in a year's time. On this day last year I was starting grad school, trying to get details together of my upcoming teaching trip to the Middle East, and being blessed in my single life. Now I find myself not only in a wonderful relationship with the man of my dreams but also friends with so many more people I would have otherwise never met. Cash's family has become some of the closest people to me (despite his brother's undesirable love for LSU. *puke*). And his friends are always so welcoming anytime I see them while I'm in town.

And that "long, tall Texan" visual I had? Well, I see some of those running around west Texas every once in a while (shout out to big Russ!). My Texan, however, happens to go for more of the GQ style vs the Wrangler style, play rugby vs ride broncs, go flyfishing vs catfish noodling, read the Great Gatsby vs King of the Cowboys, and shop for bow ties vs chaps. And that's more than fine by me, because I wouldn't trade one thing about Cash Pullin for anything in the world...even for a Razorback victory.

In the past year I've also learned that there is a reason for that Texas ego. Maybe if you ever visit the Alamo you would understand too. If there's anything I love more than being a Razorback, it's the Lonestar State. My how life has changed in 365 days...

Happy "anniversary", Cash. I love you!


Friday, January 20, 2012

And on the 8th day...

I'm pretty sure there was a full moon and everything started happening simultaneously. That was the 8th day. Shoosh. Are y'all tired? I am. In fact I would have both hands raised here if I wasn't too tired to raise them.

Last night I went to my first night of American Political Behavior, my first grad class since last spring. I had taken the fall semester off due to everything this summer, and it was a good break. I felt as if I was dealing with quite a bit in just trying to go to work and feel normal again, but I was so ready to be back at school. I missed it tremendously.

In lieu of last night's discussion in class and primary debates, I looked up the polls today. If you look at the 2nd chart on Real Clear Politics page, it fascinates me how Newt Gingrich drastically soars after a debate. Then people come off the high of the debate, then he finds himself soaring again after the next round. Just interesting.

Anyway, you may not be a political junkie like myself but I encourage you to be an informed citizen. I know we hear that often, but it's just so important that we value our liberty and democracy. Thousands, if not millions, have died fighting for these ideals here and abroad. And sometimes I sit amazed at the lack of civil duty we have left in us. So...get out and vote. (Now imagine me holding my hands in a "V" and chanting, "Rock the vote!" with an American flag in the other hand. No? Okay.)

On a very materialistic note, I am in love with Miss Vera's new patterns.
that is love
 I sent Cash an e-mail yesterday with about 5 or 6 links to various Vera Bradley products all in this new pattern to see what he thought would look best with the luggage I already have. His response?

"Seriously, Avery? You live alone. Go buy a pistol instead."


Oh, I haven't even told y'all about my first 3 weeks with a student teacher. Pshttt. It's awesome. He has now taken over 2 of my 7 classes, and it's incredible the difference it makes in my day. On top of that he is very knowledgeable on history issues, and we often have political conversations. That's my kind of student teacher! In all seriousness he's wonderful.

We were also blessed last Friday with a guest speaker in our Social Studies classes. Mr. Blaylock, an area resident, is a World War II veteran of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. No, I didn't stutter. WORLD WAR II VETERAN! How awesome is that? He told my principal and assistant superintendent that it was such a great day just because he got to spend it with me. I love that old man...I really, really do!

with Mr. Blaylock after one of his presentations
 He just turned 91 years old and was able to stay for 5 classes straight just talking to the kids about his time in the European theater. I was so amazed at his tenacity and alertness. He told me it was the best he had felt in 6 months and that when he woke up and thought about talking to the kids he just felt great. Doesn't that melt your heart?
speaking with a class
 I just sat there every hour in awe of his bravery. It made me think of all the men and women who have served in the many battles and wars our country has faced. It made me think of my friends from high school who spent a year in Iraq. And it made me think of how many of those very students might one day find themselves in the military. Blows my mind.
Mr. Blaylock's WWII medals
Mr. Blaylock even brought his war medals for the kids. I have to admit that it reminded me of the part on Talledega Nights when the boys say they threw Chip's old war medals off the bridge. Thankfully none of our kids did that!

We had another veryyyyy aweeesoomeeee guest speaker in the building that day as well. I guess my hyperbolic explanation gave that one away. Yes, my very own rockhound spoke to the science classes on the same day. To say it was exciting and eventful to be me that day is an understatement.
 A couple kids commented to me that Cash's job seemed really hard. But most of them said things like this:
  • Cash is hotttttt. (mostly girls. ha)
  • Cash wears grandpa shoes. (oh, yes, I got that one)
  • Do you think I could beat him up? (mostly boys. ha)
  • Where is Cash going to work if y'all get married? (I'm going to guess Clayton Williams Energy in Midland, Texas on this one. They can't figure that one out.)
speaking to a class

He did really great despite the pressure the kids put on him. I had built him up to be Superman I suppose...and I'm pretty sure he lived up to it. In all honesty, though, I had several kids tell me how interesting his lesson was and that they had never really even heard of a geologist before. That night he even got to talk to one of my favorite formers (former students) about geology. This kid is in high school now and has really been thinking about career paths. His mom and I have taught together for several years, so she said they would make a point to meet us at the ballgame that night. It was awesome to hear a former talking to Cash and really, really want to be a geologist. It helps that I love that child and his family dearly, and I know his maturity will carry him so far. I just get super excited when my students dream big...and I know this student can surpass what he even expects of himself at this point. I'll stop now and not be the sappy teacher.
at the end of his first day of teaching
Cash has been telling me for 364 days now that my job isn't that hard. That one day when I get a "real" job I'll understand how easy this one was. So after the 8th class of the day, I asked him how it went. He said, "I don't know what you complain about all the time. These kids were angels!"

I quickly reminded him that it took him 2 full days to come up with 1 lesson and that I teach 2 subjects everyday, plus assessments, plus parent contact, plus plus plus. He just laughed. A few hours later he was begging me to rub his feet, because he was so exhausted. Cash=0, Avery=1

And just for the record...I broke down and rubbed his feet. I can't help it...I'm a softie. haha.

Okay...I think I've crammed enough in for one day. Politics, VB patterns, guest speakers, student teacher. Holy mother of pearls, I'm signing off and going to a basketball game! Hasta la vista, amigos. Me amo sus!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Mom Will Be So Proud!

Mom, you're going to be so proud...I hope!

This afternoon I was craving a smoothie. I have no idea why, because I'm not sure I've ever had a smoothie except from Sonic. But I've been trying to eat healthy lately, so I decided to do a little mixing and cooking tonight.

Although I did have a pity party that we don't have an HEB in Alma, I went to Wal-Mart with a smile on my face (and my new boots on my feetsies). I had made a list before I left the house. It saved me tons of time...and money. Who knew?! ha..Just thought y'all needed to know that.

I made the smoothie when I get home. It was...ehh...okay. I will probably try a different recipe tomorrow. But I felt like it was a GREAT way to get in my servings of fruit, since I don't like whole strawberries and what not. I felt super healthy watching the Broncos (ohhh yeah) and drinking a stawberry smoothie. But the great thing about the whole night was the smell coming from the kitchen.

I found a quick (4 hour) crock pot recipe for baby back ribs. Mom, are you about to be surprised or what?! I actually bought A RACK OF RIBS at the grocery store. (Yes, I just called Wal-Mart a grocery store. It is.)
baby back ribs in the crock pot
On top of baby back ribs, I wanted some fresh green beans. Mom, are you passed out or are you still with me here? I know I don't cook anything but pizza rolls, but I promise I've listened to you tell me I need to learn how to cook!! Look...

I sauteed onions to stir in with the steamed green beans (yes, I did!).

onions sauteeing
 While the onions were going to town in the skillet, I got the ribs out of the crock pot. Now this was a feast for a hungry girl like myself.
finished ribs

Then I added the green beans to the onions along with some salt and pepper. I completely forgot the parsley I bought especially for this meal, but oh well. The green beans made me feel super healthy (for the 2nd time of the evening)...much better than meal deal #4 I typically get at Taco Bell.
look at me being healthy

Personally, and I know I'm biased since I cooked the meal, I thought it was beautiful. Literally. I realize that's making my novice cooking skills sound better than they really are, but I was so proud of the big girl meal I made for myself. And the cleanup was almost null. A skillet in the dishwasher and a crock pot? Breezy, even for mwaa.
Oh, I have tears in my eyes!

And of course it wouldn't be Sunday night watching the latest episode of Kourtney and Kim Take New York without a cup of coffee. Have you used a Keurig coffee maker? I am in love!!! But even more than the new coffee maker, I am so in love with the cup my beau bought me this summer...
Why, yes, it is my favorite quote of all time. haha

Sorry that I look like a 3-D monster about to jump out of the computer screen. :/ haha

Now I'm stuffed. The Kardashians are over. Broncos won. And I finished the greatest book of all time today.

I wanted to leave you with the interview of Louie Zamperini, because I just finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It's a must read. Must, must, must. So go get it. Now.

Find a veteran this week, thank him/her, and remember why we are free. I love this country!!