Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm Certified!

My dad had two sisters, Suzanne and Jane.  I take after both of them - I have Suzanne's name (and hopefully some of her gentle spirit) and I'm following in Jane's footsteps by becoming a librarian.  Jane lived nearby when we were growing up, and we always spent at least two weeks out of the year at her house with all the cousins.  Before the week was out, we'd be "driving her crazy," but in a good way.  She said it so often that, when I was a teen, I purchased a key chain for her from a shop at Six Flags - a brass tag that says, "Certified Crazy Person".  After Jane passed away, we found the key chain in her desk with all her loyalty cards on it, and David and Christopher were kind enough to let me keep it.  

Well, I may not be a certified crazy person quite yet, but I'm getting closer to being like my Aunt Jane - I got my letter in the mail saying I have successfully jumped through all the hoops to become an alternatively certified teacher in the state of Oklahoma!  I have an official teacher number and everything (which I have already updated all my applications with.)

Still no leads on the job front. Pretty much everything I've applied for has been filled.  At least on the last one, I got a form letter from a real person, and not just an automatic notification from the online employment system to tell me that the position had been filled.  That's a step up, right? 

In order to move to a regular teaching certificate (from provisional) I have to either complete 12 credit hours of education courses at the college level or complete 180 hours of professional development over the next three years.  In my mind I was going to do the professional development, since in my head there would be no problem finding a job.  Given the current situation, I've begun to explore taking a class next semester to get started on my hours.  So far I've found one in Developmental Psychology that's offered as a night class, but the lady I need to talk to is out of town.  We will see what happens next.  I'd only have to take four courses in the next three years, so there's no big hurry.

While it has been discouraging to not get called for interviews, I'm sure that God's plan is in motion, and there's a reason for it.  As we get closer to the start of school and Gracie gets more anxious about middle school, I think more and more that it is a good thing that I will be at home and not at a job every day.  My challenge is to look ahead at the step that God is illuminating next, and not to be so determined to see the entire path.  I've got to remember that one step is all I need. 

Your word is a lamp for my feet
and a light on my path.  --Psalm 119:105

Friday, July 19, 2013

Every Which Way

One of the reasons I feel like this summer is going by so quickly is because everyone is going in different directions. After our vacation we had a week of downtime (and swim team practice) and we were off again. This time we split up. The girls went to Grandma's house with their cousin Carissa for a girls only Princess week. They painted nails went swimming, and had a shop 'till they drop day. One of the highlights was going to the Goodwill store and each picking out an outfit. Maggie made sure to let me know that Gracie picked out a dress that I would never in a million years have let her buy at the department store. I agreed as it was a rather fancy party dress that would have been too expensive for something that would not get worn often, but I told here that for $5, I didn't mind at all.  We may be hitting our Goodwill store a bit more often now!

While the girls were princess-ing, the boys (Jerry, my brother-in-law Brad, and nephew Will) joined Granddaddy and some of his compradres for a guys-only weekend at Lake Eufala. They had rented a houseboat for the week, and were having fun fishing, swimming, and kayaking.

Meanwhile, my sister and my good friend from college joined me in OKC for a scrapbooking retreat weekend. We scrapped for four days, taking breaks to go eat and to even do a bit of sightseeing. We went to Pop's on Route 66 for lunch on Saturday, but the wait for a table was 45 minutes, and we didn't want to lose that much scrapping time, so we just got a unique soda pop apiece and went elsewhere to eat. Amy and I were both still working on baby girl albums, and we both finished! I still have a bit of journaling left to do, but this marks the completion of my last traditional album. From here on out, it's digital, baby! I can hardly wait to reclaim my closet space! Of course, a bigger hard drive is probably in my near future. . .

When our scrap retreat was over Amy and I headed to Texas to retrieve our princesses and my dog. I didn't want to board Oreo while we went on vacation, so she had gone to visit Nana and Granddad's farm for three weeks. I wasn't sure she would want to come home after three weeks of chasing squirrels, goats, and deer, but when we pulled up and she realized it was us, she hopped right up into her seat in the van and looked at us like, "Let's go!"  I guess there really is no place like home, even for dogs!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Magical Harry Potter, Dreamy Disney Vacation

What happened to my summer? 

It was right here yesterday. . . endless weeks of nothingness on the horizon with zero commitments and activities.
Oh yeah, that was in my dreams!

My summer has been busy.  Busier than usual, I think.  Part of this is that the girls are no longer in the same age-level activities at church (youth vs. children), but I'll get to that later. 

We kicked off the summer properly, with a week of nothing, followed by a week of swim team practice.  Mind you, the summer weather had not gotten a strong start, with several nights in the 40's the week before, so that first jump in the pool was a shocker for the girls.

The next week was our long-awaited trip to Florida and the Bahamas.  We were excited to be on the way, but we got stuck in Baltimore for five hours while our plane had a "mechanical delay."  Something hydraulic.  Not a comforting thought.  We finally made it to our hotel around 10:30, grabbed a to-go dinner at the only hotel restaurant open, and crashed.  Nothing like sleep-deprived teens to make your vacation cheery, right?

We managed to get up early the next morning despite our late night because one of the perks of staying at our on-property hotel was that we got into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour before the general public, and we were not going to miss a single Harry Potter moment!  When we got to the gates of Hogsmeade, we were not disappointed - at least I wasn't - I was so overcome I cried!

We rode the rides and looked at the stores, and tried our first Butterbeer and Pumpkin juice.  Maggie liked the regular Butterbeer, Jerry, Gracie, and I preferred the frozen.  We all agreed that the pumpkin juice was not to our liking.

By that time the park was packed, and our lack of sleep was beginning to show, so we headed back to the hotel for a nap, and then hit the other park (Universal Orlando) and the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner.  Gracie and I looked at the Elvis room, and saw a section of the Berlin Wall out back, and had fun playing with their digital catalog of all the items Hard Rock owns.  It was a full wall touch-screen that worked like something you see on "home of the future" videos.  Glitchy, but cool nonetheless.

The next morning we again headed to Hogsmeade, where Maggie was convinced to ride her first inversion roller coaster - the red side of the dragon challenge.  She liked it so much, that we rode the blue side next!

We zipped into Ollivander's wand shop for a second time, and this time Gracie was picked to have a wand choose her.  It was so fun to hear the music just like in the movie, and watch her hair fly up when she held "her" wand.  I wish that we could have taken a picture, but no cameras were allowed.  We continued riding rides and shopping until the general public showed up, when we slipped into the Three Broomsticks for breakfast (another perk of staying on-property!)

After breakfast we proceeded to explore the rest of the Islands of Adventure theme park.  Maggie, Jerry, and I rode the Hulk roller coaster, which was an intense experience.  Gracie and Maggie wanted to ride the water rides, so they and Jerry went on the three wet rides while I held their stuff in dry comfort.

There were three water rides - wet, wetter, and wettest.  By the time they were finished, they were soaked (especially Jerry!), so we headed back to the hotel, where we planned to take a swim, dry off and change, and then head back to Universal Orlando to ride some things we missed the day before.  When we headed back out of our hotel room, however, there was a monsoon going on!  It seriously looked like a hurricane out there, with sideways driving rain and large potted plants and patio furniture blowing about.  The lobby of our wing of the hotel was rapidly becoming flooded because the automatic doors couldn't shut against the wind and rain.  Unfortunately, there was no protected walkway to the main lobby, so we were stuck until an employee arrived and took us through the service hallways to a patio that was connected to the main lobby.  We ate an early dinner, and just had some down time.  All the poor people that were at the park when the storm hit came in looking rather bedraggled in the evening - I'm glad we were at the hotel!

We had three-day park passes, and our intent was to use that third day on the day of our arrival, but that didn't work out thanks to our airline delay, so on the third day of our stay we packed up early and headed back to Hogsmeade for a mere hour before heading back to our hotel to meet our car and head to Port Canaveral for our cruise departure.  We stopped on the way to get a 12-pack of water, which was a tip that I had read online.  It was a good one - when we got on the ship you could get a 12-pack for a embarkation day special of only $27!!!  Yikes!  I'm pretty sure our 12-pack was $3.99.  The only thing was that we had to haul it around for a couple of hours until our room was ready.  Next time, we'll bring a rolling duffle for the water!

We had lunch, and then it was time for our room to be ready, so we headed that way.  Our bags arrived shortly, and we got all settled in.  The room was well thought out, with lots of storage.  Definitely the nicest cabin I've ever had on a ship!

They had a setting sail party on deck, with all the super-peppy entertainment staff and characters defying the heat and humidity with a bouncy going-away dance as we sailed past Cape Canaveral and the Florida coastline. 

We had the early seating for dinner (probably the one thing we would change if we go again) so we headed that way.  We met our servers, Alexander and Guillaume, from France.  They charmed the girls with a puzzle each night, and the girls also met some similarly-aged girls at the next table, so we were off to a good start.

After dinner Jerry and I wanted to see the stage show, but the girls wanted to try out the water-coaster, so we separated and each went off to do our own thing.  It was a little odd at first, but I got used to it quickly!

The first day we docked at Nassau, where we had booked a Dolphin Encounter at the Blue Lagoon.  We had a great time meeting our dolphin.

Gracie shocked all the grandparents when we got home by telling them that she had had her first kiss on the lips on this vacation. . . with a dolphin!

After meeting our dolphin we spent the rest of our day at the beach.  We had a great time, until Jerry realized his wedding ring wasn't on his finger anymore!  We looked at pictures and he had it on at the dolphin encounter, so we figured it was somewhere on the bottom of the lagoon.  The staff loaned him a snorkel and mask, and even called a guy with a metal detector, but all they found was an old-style pop top ring from a soda can.  He was bummed.  Later that night, I said something about sunscreen, and all the sudden he remembered - he had taken off his ring when he put on sunscreen!  We dug through the bag, and there it was, in the Ziploc bag with the sunscreen.  Whew!  After that we locked his ring in the safe for shore excursions!
Jerry on the beach at the Blue Lagoon

My view at the Blue Lagoon :-)

Leaving Nassau
The second day was at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.  We fed and swam with stingrays there, and then snorkeled and played on the beach until lunchtime, then went on a snorkel cruise to a reef.  It was super, super nice.  Everything is charged back to your room, so there's no need to worry about cash or valuables on the beach, all refreshments are included, and it was so, so clean!  All the beauty of a Caribbean vacation with none of the worries.

The third day was at sea, so we slept in (the girls even missed breakfast!) and played on the water coaster and in the pool.  

Gracie and I saw the live show after dinner, while Jerry and Maggie went to the movies.  I played bingo, and we all shopped for t-shirts and souvenirs.  We had to have our bags packed and outside the door by 10:30, so it was a bit of an early night.  The kids and Jerry went to bed, but I wanted to take the opportunity to take some photos, so I prowled around the ship for another hour.  It was kind of weird - you know there are almost 7000 people on the ship, but no one was out and about - it was deserted!  A bit spooky, really!

The next morning we docked as we ate breakfast, and then it was off the ship, on the plane, and back home.  Gracie loved the cruise - the morning we got off the ship she gave me a big hug and said, "This was the best vacation ever!  When can we do it again?!"  Her favorite part was swimming with the stingrays.  Maggie had an awesome time, but her favorite part was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Jerry's favorite part was the beach, as always.  I loved both parts of the trip - one part for adventure and one part for relaxing.  It was an incredible vacation, and our Disney Cruise will be hard to beat! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nemesis No More

Well, in case you were worried, I did manage to get my new sink installed.  After a few
phone calls to the store where I purchased my sink, they managed to get some countertop
guys out.  The chiseled out the old sink and then resurfaced my whole countertop.  The next
day the sink installers were back to put in the new sink.  It's really lovely!  I can set
things down and they don't fall over, my big skillet lies almost flat with the short
divider, and the sink seems much larger thanks to narrower edges on the side.  In short,
it's everything I dreamed it would be.  It's nice to have a happy ending every once in

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Long Time, no Post!

I know I have not been posting often lately, but so many things have been happening around here that have been big enough to be actual news, that my life seems pretty trivial in comparison. Still, I know you don't read my blog for the national news, so I suppose I shouldn't let that stop me!

First, thanks to all of you who have inquired of our well-being during the severe weather.  The closest tornado to us was about a mile north, and it was not a big one, but we still got into our storm shelter.  The devastation in Moore and El Reno is horrible, and as bad as the pictures on the news are, it doesn't compare to seeing it in person.  We decided to volunteer over Memorial Day weekend, but we wanted to volunteer as a family and not go into the actual damaged area because we thought it would be too overwhelming for the girls. We decided to volunteer with the salvation army, but when we got there we found out the kids had to be 18 or over to volunteer, so only Jerry and I could help out in that endeavor. That was a bit disappointing for the girls, because they like to help. As Maggie said after a different ministry opportunity with our church, "It feels good to help people!"  Jerry and I helped all afternoon, and it was an amazing, although exhausting, experience.

On the  job front, I am almost done with alternative certification.  I passed my teacher exams with flying colors, and made it past the Teacher Competency Review Panel with a recommendation to the board of Education to issue me a certificate.  Now I am just waiting for them to do so at the next state Board of Education meeting, scheduled for the 25th. 

I'll update you on what else has been happening in the next few posts. . . I promise!