Monday, September 12, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!!

September is going to be one of the busiest and most stressful months for Nick and I. We are both crazy busy with work, so much so that he is having to work overtime all this month and cannot come home until Friday night each week. He is usually home Thursday night, so this means one more night a week that I am by myself. Not fun, but at least the month is flying by.

We decided last weekend that we needed to take full advantage of each day that we have together right now so we took a trip down to the G.W. Exotic Animal Farm in Wynnewood, OK. This huge facility is about 50 miles south of Norman so it was perfect for a short day trip. We opted for the guided tour, which promised up close and personal time with a variety of wild animals. They weren't kidding! We saw lots of lions and tigers, and even saw a few ligers, which are massive!

In addition to the large number of big cats, the facility had also rescued lots of other exotic animals. They had everything from bears, to alligators (which came from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch), with wolves and mini horses in between! It was so fun to walk around and here stories about the animals, although many stories were sadly about how they were rescued from inhumane conditions.

After the tour, we gathered in an enclosed area while the guides brought in several animals for us to pet. We played with two twelve week old tigers, two wolf cubs (one of which was named Scout!), a baby lemur, and a giant yellow snake. I was a little scared of the snake but I did manage to touch it once before recoiling in fear.

A Much Needed Escape

Nicholas and I are both blessed with having some of the best friends in the world. We realize this and are forever grateful for this, especially when our best friends have a cabin tucked away in Colorado and invite us to spend a week with them fly fishing, reading, drinking, and relaxing. We spent the first week in August (one of the hottest weeks of the year in both Texas and Oklahoma) enjoying beautiful weather and awesome company with Lacie and Matt at their cabin outside of Creede, CO. Lacie's dad and grandfather built this cabin years and years ago alongside the headwaters of the Rio Grande River.

This was honestly one of the most fun weeks I have ever had. We woke up to beer biscuits (a Matt Bullard specialty) and coffee with baileys every morning and then settled into our plan for the day. Most days were spent reading on the porch, drinking a bloody mary of course, with Lacie while the boys fished in the Rio Grande. Nicholas had never been fly fishing before, but managed to catch a pretty good sized fish his first day.

One day we traveled to Lake City, on the other side of the continental divide, to rent a jeep and drive up extremely scary mountain passes. The scenery was absolutely beautiful! We took way too many pictures to post, but trust me when I say that neither Texas nor Oklahoma have anything on these mountains! There was, however, one particular part of the trip that was truly death defying. We were near the top of a pass, on a road designed to fit one car, when another jeep came around the bend headed straight toward us. There was absolutely no where to go to let them pass so Matt inched his way up the side of the mountain. We were honestly at a 45 degree angle on top of a mountain. I sat behind Matt on the drivers side and was looking straight down as these jeeps attempted to pass us with no room to spare. Had their wheels been inches further, they would have tumbled down the mountain - no lie! I definitely needed a beer after that! Thanks to Matt's superb driving skills, we all made it down the mountain alive.

My absolute favorite memory from this trip was sitting on the porch late one night after dinner, curled up with a blanket and a cocktail, and playing the question game under the stars for hours. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends! We all had a great time, and cannot wait to go back for years to come.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Full Steam Ahead!

After almost six months of nothing, we have made huge strides in our wedding planning in the past month and a half! Nick and I had gone back and forth throughout our years together on whether we wanted the big traditional wedding or a smaller destination wedding. We could see the pros and cons of both but kept flip flopping over which option was best for us. After we got engaged, however, it was like someone flipped on the light and we both knew that we wanted to get married on the beach. To be honest, the move to Oklahoma probably factored highly into that decision since we would not ever get married here and driving back to Dallas every weekend for a year to plan a wedding did sound appealing at all, but we just decided one night that we wanted a destination wedding. The move and my last semester in grad school kept us from making any other decisions beyond that until this summer.

After graduation, I began to scout out locations and stumbled upon a gorgeous resort in Cabo San Lucas. After browsing through the pictures and wedding packages, we knew that this was the place. I was terrified of becoming one of those horror stories of a bad vacation so I did my due diligence and read up on Trip Advisor and spoke with lots of people who had been to Cabo and even some that had stayed at this resort chain in other parts of Mexico. Dad's credit card in hand, the place was booked and we were confirmed to wed April 14th at 6:00 pm. The nice part of destination weddings is that they have an on-site coordinator to help you with everything. We just have to tell her our colors and she helps us put together the bouquets and decorations and decorate the cake. The resort is all inclusive so we don't have to plan much for the reception beyond choosing which restaurant to dine in after the ceremony. We will finalize most of the details when we go down several days before the ceremony (legal requirements for Mexico) but so far, everyone that I have spoken with has been extremely helpful. So far, so good!

Once we had the place booked, the most important thing left on the to-do list (in my opinion anyways) was to find the perfect wedding dress. I rounded up my best girls and tried on a number of beautiful gowns. We were able to narrow it down to two, but I needed a few weeks to make my final decision. Nick had two requests: that I wear my hair down and skip the veil, so these certainly played a part in choosing the dress. Final decision was made and I could not be happier. I cannot wait for it to come in... I might be one of those girls that try their dress on a few too many times before the wedding. The day I ordered my dress, I brought along two of my bridesmaids and picked out their beautiful dresses. Not only do I have the best friends that a girl could ask for, but I also have the hottest friends ever! All four of my girls are simply stunning, so it was very easy to turn the choice over to them because I knew they would look amazing in anything. Another plus of having hot bridesmaids is that extra motivation to ramp up my own workouts!

It honestly feels like everything is falling into place. After picking out the bridesmaid dresses, I carried around a swatch to help me find the perfect tie for Nick and his groomsmen. Men's Wearhouse has a great selection of ties with their tuxedo rentals and we found one that looked great with the bridesmaid dresses, but since we are getting married in Mexico a formal tuxedo is not exactly appropriate and you cannot buy ties separately from the tuxedo. Nick has decided on a khaki colored suit and so I wanted a bright tie to coordinate with the brightly colored dresses and flowers of our tropical theme. I found the perfect tie at Express (they have awesome men's clothes, by the way!) and we were able to check one more thing off our to-do list.

I was a little nervous about entered the planning stage of the wedding. I always imagined that this would be something that my mom and I did together and that my wedding would be princess like. My mom never did anything halfway, and as I write that I wonder if subconsciously her not being here is why I was leaning towards the destination wedding. It just didn't seem right to plan a big wedding without her and maybe this is my way of moving forward. I know that there is always going to be a huge hole in my heart without my mom here, and I have to experience that ache every time I hit another milestone. This reminds me of the tiny slip of paper that my dad found in their bathroom after the accident. For some reason, my mom clipped out this quote from a magazine. I read this quote at the funeral and have kept it in my wallet ever since.

"The agony is great and yet I will stand it. Had I not loved so much I would not hurt so much at her passing. But goodness knows, I would not want to diminish that precious love by one fraction. I will hurt and I will be grateful for it. For it bears witness to the depths of our love. And for that I will be eternally grateful."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Graduation Weekend

This was one of the best weekends that I have had in a long time! We had so much going on that we didn't stop moving from Wednesday night through late last night when we passed out at 10:00. I guess that we should start at the beginning...

I went home this weekend for my graduation from the University of North Texas. After four long years, I finally finished my Master's program and was ready to celebrate! Much to my surprise, Dr. Phil was our commencement speaker at the ceremony. He earned his MA and PhD at UNT and received an award on Friday that I swear the university president made up an hour before. I figured that the ceremony would only last about an hour and a half since it was only for advanced degrees, but I was sadly mistaken! I began receiving texts from Nick about two hours in to sneak out, and finally caved after two and a half hours when I realized that they were only half way done with the doctoral students! I was one of the first to walk across the stage, so I had no problem sneaking back out the middle aisle to find my happy family. I felt so lucky that Nicholas, my dad, and all three of my grandparents were in attendance to watch me receive my (temporary) diploma!

After the ceremony, we were off to Chimy's in Fort Worth to celebrate with my wonderful friends. I am not sure how I got so lucky, but I can honestly say that I have the best friends in the world! Traffic was terrible on Friday, but so many came out and helped me drink a few too many beer-rita's. We had an absolute blast and only got mildly out of control!

The fun continued on Saturday when Nicholas and I took our favorite two year old to Lone Star Park to see the horses. Jackson is such a sweet and funny boy that Nick and I were cracking up the whole day. As soon as he realized that we were going to see horses, he dragged Nick to his room to get his boots because what cowboy doesn't wear boots? The weather was perfect and Jackson was in a great mood. The track was not crowded at all, so he got to run around, push his own stroller, and stare in amazement at every horse that passed. He is talking so much now, and while we couldn't understand everything he said, he was great at repeating and would clap every time the horses ran by.

Speaking of beautiful Smart kids, I also got to finally meet Miss Braylee, Jackson's new sister. I cannot get over how pretty she is! She has dark hair and olive skin, which makes me wonder who her parents are considering Brooke and DeWayne are the blondest fairest people you will ever meet! In all sincerity, I am so blessed to call this great family our friends.

Nick's birthday was on Tuesday, but we were finally able to celebrate Saturday night with a delicious dinner at Carrabba's. This is one of our top three all time places to eat, and we are very sad that there are none in the OKC area. After dinner, we were off to Billy Bob's to see Pat Green with a large part of my dad's family. There had to be at least twenty of us there, so it was great to see everyone while we were in town. I was a little disappointed in Pat Green... He is so different from how he was while we were in college, and it almost seems like he thinks that he is way cooler than he really is. What Texas Country band has a costume change during a concert?!? Really, Pat Green? Do you think that you are Britney Spears? I do believe that my friend Matt's term of Nash-Vegas is applicable here. :-)

Sunday was more of the same: visiting friends, seeing my cousin's new house, but topped off with a McMacken Family celebration dinner. We had dinner with Nick's family and Lisa even made me my favorite cake in UNT colors! It was the perfect way to end a perfect weekend.

I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. This past weekend was a great way to finish a chapter in my life, and I am really looking forward to all of the free time that I will have now that I am not reading and writing papers each week. I wonder how I will keep myself busy? Oh yeah... now I can actually plan that wedding that we have been talking about for almost 6 months!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Nicholas!!

Happy Birthday! There are no words to describe what you mean to me. You stood by my side in the hardest time of my life. Without you, I would be a mess. You encouraged me to go back to school. You supported me when I suggested uprooting our lives with this new job and the move to Oklahoma. You asked me to share the right of my life with you. You are the person that I am meant to be with. You make me a better person. We may have a crazy and nontraditional life, but it is our life and we are facing it together. I love you!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Scout, the Perpetual Patient

My poor Scout has had a rough month! Four weeks ago she was jumping off the bed at my grandparents' house and banged her back paw on the footboard. She spent the rest of the day limping, and her paw started to swell up. We thought that she has just bruised it because she would let us feel all the way down her leg and would only whimper when we got to the bottom of her pad. I drove home Monday and realized that it might be worse than we thought because she would cry if she put too much weight on it, even while laying down. I took her to the vet and found out that she had broken a bone in her foot. Essentially, her pinkie toe was snapped in half. Luckily, it was a clean break and she did not need surgery. The vet placed a soft cast on her foot and away we went.

She quickly got used to the cast, and was running around like the crazy girl she is. We had to take her in two weeks later so that the vet could make sure that the bone was healing, and then she is scheduled to get her cast off tomorrow.
This past Saturday, we invited our Oklahoma friends over for dinner. (That's right, we have exactly two friends up here and half of the couple went to high school with Nick.) They had not been here more than five minutes when Scout starting acting weird and could not stand. Her eyes were bugged out and she looked terrified. We didn't know if she had re-injured her toe because she was so unbalanced but let me feel her foot without crying. She was staggering around, threw up, and then had an unmistakable seizure in the backyard. I have never been more scared and was running around trying to find my phone and the vet's number. We lucked out when they told us that they would stay open for us and to bring her up NOW!

Our sweet friends piled into the car with us as we took off for the vet's office. The vet did some blood work and found that her phosphorous levels were a little high, which could cause a seizure. She recommended that we bring Scout to the animal hospital so that they could monitor her overnight and give her an IV with some seizure meds and something else to keep her hydrated. The second vet didn't think that her phosphorous levels were too high to be overly concerned about (meaning that we wouldn't need long term meds), and instead thought that she might have somehow ingested a toxin which could cause a seizure. Low and behold, we just had a new cleaning lady come that afternoon. I think she went a little overboard with the pinesol when cleaning the floors, and we fear that she might have used that to clean the dog bowls which are kept in the kitchen. Scout is obsessed with food and licks her bowl and Waylon's bowl after they eat (and sometimes even the floor if we drop some food), so I think we might have found the culprit. We came home and mopped the floor with plain water and cleaned their bowls with hot water. I am not taking any chances, and will definitely talk with the cleaning lady before she comes back. Of course, we cannot know for sure that this is what caused her seizure, but I am not willing to take the risk and assume it was something else.

We got to pick up Scout around noon on Sunday, and I have never been more relieved in my life to see my sweet girl. She has another bandaged foot where they had her IV, so the poor baby looks like a little invalid with her two bandaged paws. She is back to normal and we are just praying that we don't ever have another episode like that again. Nick and I were terrified, and I almost lost it once we got to the vet's office and had to wait for results. We don't have children yet, but these dogs are our babies and we love them like they were our own biological children. Just the thought of something happening to them brings me to tears. I just love my sweet beagles!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

Days like today are so hard when you have lost your mom. I used to spend Mother's Day shopping with my mom, one of our shared favorite activities, or getting pedicures, a close second. Now today is a stark reminder that my mom is gone, and we will never have another opportunity to gossip over mimosas or lounge in the pool and discuss life, love, and the future. I have a wonderful future mother-in-law and some great aunts that help to fill that void, but nothing compares to my mom. I give myself today to be sad, but I know that she is always with me.

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my mommy you'll be.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adventures in Domesticity

Slowly but surely we are getting our house put together. This is the first time that I have had to decorate an entire house by myself, and it is a little overwhelming. In the past I have received help (translation: they did it for me) from my mom, Nick's mom, or my grandma but they aren't here in Oklahoma with me so I am on my own! I am trying to work on one room at a time, if only to preserve my sanity. Truth be told, the only room that is complete is the kitchen and that is the easiest one to do! I love all of the stainless steel appliances, but it also makes me want to run out and buy a new stainless steel fridge to match. Baby steps...

My next goal is the living room. Of course now I want new couches but, like my new fridge, they will have to wait. I am hoping that a good quarter or two will give me a nice cash-flow to upgrade some stuff this summer. As you can see, the room is pretty bare but I am going shopping this weekend to search for window treatments and something to do with that giant wall behind the television.

Pretty daunting, but I love a challenge! Hopefully I will have much better pictures to share soon. We are hosting our first house guests next week so this gives me the much needed incentive to get creative this weekend. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ready to Graduate!!

I was in Denton Monday morning to take the oral examination required to complete my Master's program. I decided last fall that I was going to switch my degree plan from the thesis option to the non-thesis option. I wasn't making the progress needed to get my thesis finished, and knew that with this new job I really just needed to get done with my degree once a for all. With the non-thesis option, I had to take two more classes (which I am juggling right now) and take an oral examination covering my course work. This essentially consists of me sitting at the head of a conference table while three of my professors asked me questions (not about dates or battles, but about historians and the different arguments in the field of history. Graduate level history is nothing like your undergraduate history classes!) for an hour and a half. After an hour and a half, I had to leave the room for them to deliberate whether or not I had demonstrated that I knew what I was talking about. Sounds simple enough, right? Ha!

I was terrified on Monday morning. At different times I thought I was going to pass out or throw up, or both! I knew that everything that I had worked towards depended on this moment, and I was more nervous than I have ever been in my entire life. I was a little jittery and started talking way too fast, but I calmed down after a few minutes and everything went very smoothly. They only made me wait about three minutes (although it was the longest three minutes of my life!) before bringing me back in and congratulated me on passing. Oh sweet relief! I was so happy and relieved that I felt weak in the knees as I walked to the bookstore to buy my graduation regalia. I was so excited that I didn't even care that I technically have four more weeks of class to finish, because the hard part is done! Finishing these last few weeks will be a breeze compared to the studying that I agonized over the past two months.

Working on my Master's while working full time has been one of the hardest things that I have ever done. This program was so absolutely time consuming, but it all had to be done at night or on the weekend. My classmates were all amazed when they found out that I was also working a full time job. I would have loved to be one of those lucky people that go to school full time and not have to worry about work, but that was just not the plan that worked for me.

I feel such a sense of accomplishment right now. My one regret is that my mom is not here to see me graduate in May. Going to grad school was the plan right after I graduated from Tech, and I am just sad that she wasn't here to see that I finally got started and isn't here to see that I finally finished. Graduation day will be bittersweet, but I know that she is proud of me and that makes all of the late nights and stress worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!!

Today my dad turns 50. He is the greatest man I know, and I am so proud to be his daughter. Thank you for everything. I love you, Dad!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Norman, Here We Come!

Nick and I just got home from Norman, where we finally found our home for the next year! We looked at so many houses all over the Oklahoma City area, but couldn't find one that felt like home. We were really lucky and stumbled across this brand new home in the northeast part of Norman. The house is so new that is doesn't have sod or the back part of the fence, but we have been assured that it will be ready before we move in next month.

Here is the front of the house. Talk about Oklahoma red dirt, huh? I will add more once we move in, but it is really cute on the inside and I cannot wait to decorate and make it home.

 I am really excited to get in and explore our new town, but not at all excited about packing. I am an admitted pack rat and have boxes in our garage that haven't been opened since we moved into this house three years ago! I have a feeling that I will be throwing away or donating a bunch of stuff, if only so I don't have to pack it up. We are scheduled to move in March 19th, so that gives me just over a month to pack. I know that probably sounds like plenty of time to you, but between working in Oklahoma and the ridiculous amount of reading that I have to do for school each night, I am starting to feel the anxiety!

By the way... just because we live in Norman doesn't mean that I will ever become a Sooner fan. I bleed scarlet and black, and will have my little Tech garden flag waving proudly in the front yard! =)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our Story

Nicholas and I met at Willhoite's in Grapevine in 2003. I had just graduated from Texas Tech and needed an easy job while I figured out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Nick was the catering manager for the restaurant, while I was a cocktail waitress that only worked nights. We would occasionally see each other and always said hi, but never really started talking until over a year later when he would come and chat with me when I took breaks from hustling drinks. A few weeks later he finally worked up some nerve and we had a late night date at Waffle House. Romantic, huh? We had our first real date on Thanksgiving in 2004 and have been driving each other crazy ever since. 

Our relationship progressed quickly and soon we were spending all of our free time together. Our relationship changed forever a few months later when my mom passed away and Nicholas was so understanding and comforting. All of my wonderful friends rallied around to support me, but Nicholas was the one that made each day a little more bearable. After surviving this incredibly trying time, I knew that he was the one that I was meant to spend the rest of my life with.

When a couple dates for six years, everyone tends to freak out just a little bit and wonder why they aren't married with two kids by now. We watched as couples meet, get engaged, get married, and have kids all during our six years of dating. We knew that we were going to get married eventually, but were not in a huge rush. I will admit that a little part of me ached every time another friend got married, but I always knew that my time was coming.

Nicholas proposed late Friday night (so late that it was actually Saturday) after I returned from a week long stay in San Diego for work. He picked me up from the airport but we had to go straight to his hockey game and then get some late dinner. We finally made it home around midnight, and I was so tired that I was near tears. All I wanted was my bed and a good ten hours of sleep. I walked in the house and greeted my overly excited beagles. I guess that I was taking too long because Nick sort of led me into the kitchen, but of course I didn't think anything of it at the time. For the first time, I noticed the house was completely dark except for a single light in the kitchen above the island and the only thing on the island was an open jewelry box with my beautiful ring. I have to admit, things got a little fuzzy after that, but Nick turned me around and he was on one knee asking me to marry him. I was completely shocked and completely overwhelmed with emotions. I think I cried about three times that night. I can truly say that the best things in life are worth waiting for!

We haven't done much planning in regards to the wedding yet. To be honest, that is kind of the furthest thing from our minds right now, because things are crazy enough right now. I started a new job (same company, different department) on November 1, which requires us to move to Oklahoma. We have been looking for rental homes and plan to move in early March. Hopefully, we find our house soon because not knowing where we are going to live is killing me! In addition to the new job and move, I also just started my last semester in grad school. My only goal in life is to survive the next four months. If I can do that, wedding planning will be a breeze!

So that brings us to today. I started this blog as an outlet for when things get a little overwhelming, but also to keep our friends and family updated on our adventures in Oklahoma. I cannot promise that I will blog with any type of regularity, but who really does?