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EngagedP I N I T While I realize that is a completely unoriginal title, what else is there to say?! After 3 years plus a couple months, Tom and I are finally engaged!!

Last Saturday started pretty normal. We were going through our student schedule when we realized we only had one kiddo studying for AP exams which is really uncommon for us these days. Tom suggested we go out to dinner, and I volunteered the gift card my sister sent us for Christmas. He didn’t disagree and we got reservations at Fogo de Chao for 6:00. Since it was cold and rainy, close-toed shoes and tights were a must, so I didn’t get to sport any of my new, fun spring clothes!

As we were driving to dinner, Tom said something about driving over to a neighborhood we hasn’t looked at yet. I agreed and as we passed Celestial Park he asked if we could check it out. I had done one of my first photo shoots there, so I agreed.

We walked around the park for awhile and I started to get cold, so I started heading back to the car. As I walked away, Tom called me back. As I turned around, he kissed me and told me he loved me. As he started talking about how the past 3 years had been the happiest of his entire life and that he never wanted to be away from me, I started to realize what was happening and my chin started to quiver and I started to cry. As I covered my eyes to hide my tears, Tom got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!

Cue full on waterworks.

I started to really cry, and, saying yes, I fell down. Yes. I’m THAT girl. He slipped my ring on my finger, and we just stood there in the middle of an empty park holding on to each other.

It. Was. Perfect.

We headed to dinner – grossly late – and called our families along the way. Well. I called my mom. And Erin.  He called his parents and brothers.

Through dinner, he told me about going to ask my parents’ permission earlier that week and how my dad was so appreciative that he would even think to ask and my mom just cried.

After dinner, we drove downtown to Five Sixty at Reunion Tower for dessert – the same place I allegedly had my 5th birthday dinner. (I don’t remember this but my mom swears it happened!) As we waited, I was filled with the most unexplainable sense of joy, peace and happiness. I remember wanting to bottle it up so I could feel that way forever.

On the way home, we stopped at the bookstore to buy books and magazines. We were both emotionally exhausted and we fell asleep pretty early, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was perfect. It was us. And it’s just the beginning.

(And hello, need to go back to pilates ASAP.  Gross arms.)

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  • erin vancura - I’m dying over hearing it again. So totally and utterly petfection!!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - I’m so happy for you!!!!!

    Tom is one lucky man!! (And he’s smart, too.)

    – Aunt NancyReplyCancel

We are soaking up the sun in California is because sweet Alexandria is one!!
While there will be so much to tell later, I want to dedicate today’s post to sweet Alexandria!  Alexandria’s mom and dad know how to throw a party, and we certainly enjoyed the celebration.  Tom even made some new friends, and I think he wants to make Shaun, Channing, and Emily his new BFFs!
Lex is oneP I N I T

Happy birthday, little Lex! We love you (and your sweet parents)!
Erin’s such a good mama, she even planned ahead for the smash (cup)cake mess by using the most adorable little bib and ruffled diaper cover!  Lex was thrilled to show off her girlish figure.
Auntie Lesley found a way to involve Tucker in Lex’s budding musical career.  Together with this guitar, she and Tucker will have the best doggie band in the nation!  Lex, Tuck, and the Pups has a nice ring to it already!

 Our shower decorations made a second appearance, only made a million times better by Erin’s chronicle of Lexi’s beautiful life in pictures!

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  • erin vancura - Lex. Tuck. And the pups?! Dying!!! I can’t thank you enough for coming out for lex’s party!! I can’t believe she’s one!ReplyCancel

Once again, we are on the great cookie search. Our oven does not make Erin’s chocolate chip cookies perfectly anymore, so we are looking for a substitute until we find a better oven. Tom found the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, and since it was from Betty Crocker, he thought it might become his ultimate favorite.
Ultimately, we were disappointed.  The recipe was incredibly easy and quick to whip up. The cookies were a great consistency and didn’t thin out but they tasted too grainy (too much sugar for us) and too salty.  The raw cookie dough tasted really good though!  Maybe they are the right cookies for someone else, but we will keep looking for the perfect cookie recipe!!
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup - sugar
  • ¾ cup - brown sugar
  • 1 cup - softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon - vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/4 cup - flour
  • 1 teaspoon - baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon - salt
  • 1 package - semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg.
  3. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips. (Dough was stiff and heavy!)
  5. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake 8 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Serve warm.
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Big.
Little.
Moments.

Today encapsulated the title of this blog.

Today, during my 5th period, one of my male students came into my classroom. He walked straight up to me, looked me the eye, and said, “Have you heard?”

Heard what?

He holds up an envelope. A big envelope.

I take it from him. Slowly. My heart was racing.
Not only was it an acceptance letter from a small liberal arts college, but it also has a scholarship letter in it. For Eighty.Thousand.Dollars.

I grabbed him and hugged him as tightly as I could, not wanting the moment to escape.

This kid. He’s special. I know, I know. They are all special.

But this one?
He’s really special.

I could try and tell you all the reasons he is special, but instead, I think I’ll just let you read my letter about him.

Seldom do I run across a student like [this one]. [He] embodies the type of student
that colleges and universities are clamoring for – a diverse, intellectual, independent thinker who is
looking for the next opportunity to help him grow as an individual.

[He] came to me looking for a college that would allow him to continue his passions.
Most of my students have passions in the same subjects they study in school – biology, chemistry,
history, or government. Not [him]. [He] was looking for something more – his involvement
in debate had spurred him to study class, gender, and race studies in his free time. He was curious about
how these issues played a role in his and his classmates’ lives, and so he read everything he could get
his hands on and watched everything he could find. Through his studies, he found answers to many of
his questions and began harboring a deep-seated desire for equality and change for his community.
There is no outlet for [him] at [our] High School, but his passions have not been deterred. He is
looking for a college environment that will not only allow him to nurture his interests, but also one that
encourages that sort of tolerance among its student population. [He] believes all people, regardless
of race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, sex, and nationality deserve a voice. He is incredibly
tolerant, very thoughtful, and very independent. While he does not always come across as self assured,
his beliefs in equality are deep, and he is not swayed by anyone else’s opinion when it comes to these
issues. I believe that being in a college environment that is more inclusive, diverse, and intellectually
stimulating will help him develop more confidence.

That being said, [he] is cautious. He does not jump into things without thinking them
through. Much like his passions, he considers all aspects of situation before making a decision.
Throughout his college search, he would take my suggestions under advisement, do his own research,
and then come back with the reasons why or why not he was applying to certain schools. He did not
think that there was a one-size-fits-all approach to college, and he never hopped on the application
bandwagon for the “popular” schools. Although he needed help finding his way, he knew what he was
looking for in a college experience and he was not willing to compromise any of his ‘must-haves’. He
wanted colleges that encouraged diversity, intellectual curiosity and development, and service to others.
Although I do not know all the details of how he came to be in the United States or what horrific
circumstances granted him his U-Visa status here, I know that his experiences have made him deeply
sensitive and quick to help others. Service, kindness, and compassion towards everyone will always be
a part of who [he] is.

[He] does not take the easy way. Each of his activities demonstrates this characteristic in
him. Debate led him to Academic Decathlon, both of which stimulate his intellectual curiosity and
thirst for knowledge. [Sports] have allowed him to learn to overcome his fears. Being President of the
GSA has thrust him to the forefront of being an unusual leader within this community.
Coming from a background that celebrates masculinity and machismo, [he] has sometimes been
subject to bullying and harassment. He is undeterred. He knows his actions seek to serve a greater
purpose and give others strength to embrace and love themselves just as they are. [He] will be an
asset to whatever college is lucky enough to have him attend, and I look forward to hearing about his
growth and adventures during college. He will not be a bystander, but an active voice in any college
community – and both he and the college will benefit tremendously.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Me

This one.
He’s special.

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Tomorrow (today), I will get up early and make my last drive to Sarah’s house as her “college counselor”. Truthfully, it’s been a LONG time since I was “just” her college counselor, but tomorrow, I suppose you could say, we can “officially” graduate to “friends”.

It seems like only yesterday that she and I sat around her parents’ table and developed the plan for ArtSmart.  A few weeks later, she launched her pilot program, and we both stared up and a bright blue sky through the Trending Blue exhibit at the Nasher Sculpture Center, neither one of us truly realizing what adventure would unfold before us over the next few months. For weeks, we planned ArtSmart together. We worked with Uplift and she planned the curriculum. I answered her questions. We spent countless hours at her dining room table, both working on our laptops.

She, trying to balance the demands of her senior year, and I, trying to balance my career.

Together, we shed more than a few tears as we both struggled to find balance and our right place.

More than once I became overwhelmed with emotion when I realized the enormity of what we were doing. We were applying to college so Sarah could be a world changer.

A few months later came early decision day, and I paced the halls of my office, each moment ticking slower than the last. I got a single text message from her dad.

A screenshot.

Accepted to Princeton.

I started to cry. I cried until she called me herself, then I cried some more. She had done it. I drove to her house and we celebrated with her mom amid balloons and orange flowers. She sent off the rest of her college applications and we started prepping for interviews.

Then, we waited.

A few months later, I found myself doing the same thing on Ivy Day.

Pacing.
Agonizing.
Clock watching.
Checking the ISAS schedule.
Emailing her parents.
Calling her parents.
Pacing.
Bargaining with God.

Five hours after everyone else found out, I got the only text message that I had hoped for.

Harvard.
Accepted.

And I cried again. I cried for months afterward when people would ask me where my kid was going after all of the stress of application season. Harvard, I would choke out. Harvard.

Today/Tomorrow, my sweet Sarah leaves for Harvard, and I’m crying as I write this, not only because I will miss her friendship, but because I now know that it is possible for dreams to come true. She is a fine example of what can happen if you work hard and follow your heart.

Treat her well, Harvard. You have one of the best in your care now.

Teach her to dream without limitations, dance like nobody’s watching, and never, ever give up.

Signing off as the college counselor now… Good night and good luck.

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