Friday, July 27, 2012

Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I married Kerry White.  He is my best friend, the man I had prayed for since I was a young girl.  In the last few weeks I have thought about this significant milestone approaching and it has led my mind up and down memory lane.  I've blogged about how we met (The Story of Us, ) I've read all of our old letters and cards, and I dug out every picture I could find of the two of us.  After much reflection it has led me to this conclusion:   our marriage has only gotten better with each year that passes.

I love this man with every fiber of my being.  The fact that Kerry loves me in spite of all my flaws and high-maintenance ways, makes me love him even more.  Kerry is everything I had ever prayed for in a husband.  I am always in awe that God would choose to place him in my life.  Kerry loves me, prays for me, and leads me (something that isn't exactly easy.)  He is a phenomenal husband and father.  He is brilliant, compassionate, beautiful, selfless, hilarious, romantic, and he's mine.  I am one abundantly blessed gal.

Here are some photos over the years...

May 2002 at our friend's wedding.  

Upward Bound trip summer of 2002 a few weeks before we got married.  At the top of Pikes Peak.

One of our engagement photos.  June 2002

Love this pic :)

We had bubbles for everyone to use when we were leaving, but my new father-in-law brought firework poppers for everyone instead.  It was a cute surprise.
I love that my dad is standing in the background already changed out of his tux and back into his pearl snap shirt and Levi 517's
The wind caught my veil perfectly as we headed to the car

Newlyweds!  On our honeymoon in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.  July 2002

Kerry and I at a Kelly Clarkson concert early 2005

Padre Island summer of 2005.  I was pregnant with Hayden.

Branson vacation summer 2007

Halloween 2007.  We were Pam and Jim from The Office

December 2008.  I was pregnant with Deacon
Valentine's Banquet at Gore FBC, February 2009

NSU Homecoming Parade 2009

Ice skating at the BOK Valentines 2010

OU game Fall 2010

December 2010, at the Gaylord Texan.  My 30th birthday surprise weekend 

Having dessert at The Melting Pot on my 31st birthday last year, December 2011

Christmas 2011

Happy tenth anniversary Kerry!  I love you a little bit more with each new day.  Thank-you for choosing me to spend the rest of your life with.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Granny's house

Once a month the kids and I go to spend the weekend with my granny.  These weekends have truly been a blessing and send me soaring back to my childhood.  The smell of her house, the familiar dishes she's always had, the trees I use to climb, the gigantic rocks I played on, the same blankets I slept on pallets years ago, the numerous flowerbeds, her garden, the stories she shares, and the games she taught us.

When I arrived for my weekend in July I walked into the house and there sat Granny in her glider rocker.  She only sits in this chair, mainly because it's next to the heater; even in the summer time she is always cold.  Anyhow, just like many other days there she sat, bible in her lap and head ducked down because she had dozed off for a nap.  I tried to sneak past her to let her rest, but as always I startled her as I walked by (Granny startles easy, always has.)  She giggled at herself like she always does after startling and said, "Well, hi Cassie!"  I laughed and apologized for scaring her, and made my way into the kitchen to cook us lunch.

The picture below was from that day.  

Granny and I having dinner.  She was telling me about when she used to pick cotton back in the day...and how much she loved it...seriously!

Each time I visit I try and soak up as much as I can.  I love to listen to stories from Granny's life as she freely tells them.  I love to dig out old photo albums she has and study all the pictures.  I walk around the house, the sheds, and barns on her property and reflect on all the memories I have there.  I ask Granny lots of questions about her life and the life of my late Grandpa Henry.  I always laugh as she tells me the stories of my dad as a very ornery child. 

In the past several months I've been taking some pictures of Granny. I've also taken pictures of things at her house that instantly make me smile because of memories attached to them.

Granny's bible.  It's almost as big as she is.  I love how weathered and worn it is.    There isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't read it.

A few months ago, I asked Granny what her favorite books of the Bible were.  She told me she loves Psalms, Proverbs, and all of Paul's letters in the New Testament.  Her favorite verse is John 3:16.

This is the dinner bell that hangs in Granny's kitchen.  It has been there since I was a kid and probably years before that.  It is always rung when a meal is ready so everyone in the living room will know it's time to eat!

I never really thought about the dinner bell being unique in my family until I got older and had to explain it to my guests.

Okay, so when I was a kid I thought Tang was the greatest drink ever (as did the rest of my cousins, siblings, nieces, and nephew.)  Granny would make some Tang in the Tang pitcher--which was also awesomeness--and we would drink it in the miniature juice goblets.  

For breakfast Granny always, without fail, made us chocolate gravy, biscuits, bacon, and we drank Tang.  To this day, I have not found a chocolate gravy that even comes close to the one she made us.  I also learned a long time ago that you cannot get a recipe out of Granny.  I've tried to get certain ones from her, but she uses "pinches" and "little bit" as measuring terms.  My "pinches" and "little bits" aren't the same as hers.

Granny loves, loves, loves knick-knacks.  You will find them all over her house.  This particular shelf displays a slew of them.  

A new knick-knack is often my "go-to" gift for Granny on Christmas.

The only kind of skillet Granny would ever use.  It is perfectly seasoned.

As a child when staying the night at Granny's house she would always pop up some popcorn for us while we watched Walker Texas Ranger.  Walker was her favorite.  I remember her "shushing" us because Walker was on.

When it's sunny outside you will usually see Granny adorning one of her many bonnets as she works in the yard.  I love this one.

Just like knick-knacks, Granny loves her lawn ornaments.  
As a child we were warned never to climb on the deer.  It was a huge temptation for us, but we stayed off...most of the time.

The well  

When I was a kid Granny and Grandpa actually still drew water out of the well.  I don't know if they just liked the taste better than the tap water or what their reasoning was.  Anyhow, I remember Granny having a basin sitting out on the counter with a ladle next to it to for the water.  I, of course, thought it was the most amazing thing ever to drink from the well.  We used to climb and play on the well too.  My brother, niece, and nephew, and I got in trouble several times for throwing rocks down into the well.

If you drive by my Granny's house you will most likely find her doing something like this.  She is 93 years old and still works outside every day she can.  This particular day I found her outside cleaning up the fence row.

Granny loves yard work (I really wish I had inherited that from her.)  If it's warm outside she is one happy gal.  She has beautiful flowers of all sorts in the spring and a garden full of goodness in the summer.   My summers as a child I remember eating tomatoes, squash, okra, corn, cucumbers, new potatoes, peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, and blackberries all from Granny's garden.  This is why summer is my favorite season.

Deacon loves "This Little Piggy" and he makes Granny play it over and over and over again.  One of the first things he does at her house is toss off his shoes, plop down in front of Granny's chair, and give her his "pigs." He thinks she's hilarious.

I loved staying the night with my granny when I was a child.  Now my children are getting to experience a piece of my childhood as they create their own memories with Granny.

Deacon and Hayden with buckets in hand helping Granny with some yard work.  Hayden is always hopeful that Granny will let her plant something.

While the yard-working gene seemed to skip me, my daughter seems to have it.  She loves to dig in the yard and plant seeds.  She likes to follow Granny around to see if she is going to plant anything.

I couldn't pass up this photo op. This will forever be a favorite of mine. 
Granny has been such a positive influence in my life.  There are many reasons I love her.  However, there is one thing she does that makes me love and respect her the most.  She loves God more than anything.  He is first in her life and she has devoted her life to serving him.  She is very open about how much she loves the Lord and what He has done for her.  That is something I want my family to always see in me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Story of Us: Part 3

Kerry and I wrote a few more notes back and forth, neither of us budging on discussing any real feelings.  However, we were about to get our opportunity.

A great perk in working for Upward Bound was the awesome trips we got to take.  This particular year we were going to Houston.  We went to NASA, an Astros game, Galveston Beach, Six Flags, Moody Gardens, saw the play "Arsenic and Old Lace", and did some shopping.  It was so much fun.

Kerry and I on the Houston trip.  We were on a boat cruising Galveston Harbor.  No idea what we might be discussing.  I also had no idea anyone was taking our picture...obviously.
Upward Bound chartered a bus for the trip, but we also brought CASC's Chevy Malibu.    Our bosses took turns driving the car on the way down to Houston.  On our trip back we were about five hours from home when the main staff were tired of driving the car.  They decided to designate two PC's for the job.  Guess who it was?  Yep

I was excited to have alone time with Kerry, but so nervous.  I thought "OK, if anything is going to get said surely it will be in this five hours we will have alone in a car."  Surely we would address the elephant in the Malibu.

KERRY:  First of all, what program that doesn't allow its employees to date during the summer puts two of them together in a car for five hours?  Second of all, neither of us were old enough to drive a rental car, so what qualified us to drive a state vehicle?  Third of all, where did I get those hideous shorts in that picture?

We talked the entire way home, but not about liking each other.  Every time we had a pause in the conversation I would think, "Maybe he's about to say it."  Five hours went by and we were back on the CASC campus.  I remember dreading seeing Yolanda.  She will kill us.  

KERRY:  I was just waiting for the right moment.  Unfortunately, there was never a good segue from the prior conversation into, "So, I'm in love with you."  Every conversation we had was about something awkward.  Like how much our dads scared us when they were mad.  Or impressions of other staff members.  Or how unlawful it was that we were in this state-owned car.  In reality though, I was so terrified of saying the wrong thing that I could never put together a sentence in my head that sounded like the right thing.  I thought surely over the course of five hours I'd think of something.  But when we made the turn from the highway onto campus, the only thing running through my head was, "Oh, crap."

As soon as I got my luggage and walked into our room Yolanda immediately all smiles went into, "Well????"  "We...didn',"  I nervously answered.  "WHAT?!"  "WHY?!"  she yelled.  "Well, he never brought it up, and I didn't want to be the one to say it; I'm the girl."  She then ripped into me pretty good about all her hard work being done in vain and then more yelling, and then she stormed out of the room.


However, that evening I received a knock on our door.  It was Kerry.  He came inside (major rule broken) and poured out his heart.  He went on for several minutes, and it was beautiful.  He was so well spoken and I was soaking up every word.  When he finished I, Miss Awesome-With-Words said, "I like you too."  That was all I could muster up.  He smiled and we both breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Within a few hours though, Kerry would learn he wasn't yet rid of the hot=dog thief.

KERRY:  While we down at the male dorms that night, one of my students somehow managed to get a concussion.  While we were trying to figure out what to do with him (which should have been simple--take him to the hospital--but remember this is the same outfit that put two college students of the opposite sex in a state-owned car for five hours to drive on curvy back roads through east Texas), I look out the window of this student's room and see a familiar car pulling into the parking lot.  It was her.  And she was not happy.  She had driven three hours to confront me about the abrupt calling-card-induced break-up.  While I'm trying to contain her anger and make a decision about the brain trauma of a student, here comes another familiar car flying down the street, going airborne as it hits the speed was Yolanda, coming to the rescue.  She boiled the moment down to a simple decision:  "Put Josh in the car, then you get in the car, and then we're going to the hospital."  Crisis over, right?  Wrong.  Princess Hot Dog threatened me with me with my life...and then we went to the hospital.

Luckily that was the last of her.  The summer program was coming to an end.  A few days before the final program Kerry took me aside and asked if he could take me out after the final program that Friday night.  I obviously said "yes."

On July 14, 2000, Kerry took me on our first date.  We went to Fort Smith, a 30-minute drive away.  I froze the entire time in the car.  He had the air cranked and I was too embarrassed to ask him to turn it down, I didn't want to seem high-maintenance.  At one point I slowly reached around to my vent while he wasn't looking and flipped the switch to turn off my door side vent.

We went to Applebee's (I know you are jealous) and then when the meal ended neither of us wanted to go back to the college yet.  So we decided to check out the movie theater and see what was playing.  There was nothing worth seeing.  I wish I could actually remember our options.  Anyhow, we decided on X-Men, (I know, every girl's dream) but I didn't care.  I wasn't interested in the movie; I was just super excited to be  anywhere with this guy I had liked all summer.

The movie ended and we headed back to Poteau.  When we arrived on campus Kerry walked me to my room.  I expected him to just say good night and head back to his car.  I thanked him for the evening, he told me what a great time he had and then...

KERRY:  I proposed.

Just kidding.  I kissed her.  Right on the mouth.  Kissed her the next day, too, when all the counselors moved out, just to be sure she knew I was serious.

That, my friends, is how it all began!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Story of Us: Part Two

So, we left off with me just discovering that Kerry had a hot-dog-gift-giving girlfriend.  I'll let him tell you how she acquired those hot dogs.

KERRY:  She stole them.  No kidding.  Now that's love.

I was feeling very disappointed (along with confused) and sad.  Do I like this guy?  Why do I even care that he has a girlfriend?  I had resolved to keep these new feelings I had to myself.  I really meant to...

You see, I am what you call a "sleep-talker"...big time.  Never before had this been an issue, until this moment in time.  I woke up one morning to start the day and Yolanda was more than happy and eager to inform me that I had been talking about Kerry in my sleep.  I tried to brush it off, but she kept on and on insisting that I must like him by the way I talked about him in my sleep.  Ugh, stupid subconscious mouth.  This is so embarrassing!  I finally told her I thought he was nice and I did kinda like him, but it didn't matter because he wasn't available.  She then smiled a a very devious smile and laughed.  Oh lord, please don't tell him!  All he needs is to hear that this girl speaks of him in her sleep, then I'll be branded the "psycho."  Yolanda is not going to let this one go.

KERRY:  To be fair, at this point in the story it's safe to say I had a thing for psychos.  It's either creepy sleep-talker or hot dog thief...either way, I've got myself a girl.

I don't remember how long it was after that day, but I remember Yolanda smiling and casually saying "Kerry was asking me about you today." "What?!"  Wait, calm down.  Don't be so obvious.  "Oh yeah, what did he ask?"  I was trying to seem nonchalant.  "Oh, he asked me if you had a boyfriend...I told him you didn't and then asked him why he wanted to know...he told me he thought you were attractive."

KERRY:  Here's free advice, fellas:  learn to use the words "attractive" and "hot" differently.  They mean different things.  Somebody can be hot and not even close to attractive, yet my wife's attractiveness is what makes her hot, ten years and two kids later.  So fellas, if she's hot, make sure she's attractive before investing time in her.  If she's attractive, she'll get hotter the more you get to know her.

I was freaking out inside.  He wants to know if I'm dating anyone?!  He thinks I'm attractive?!  Is he actually interested in me?  Then reality sunk in.  He.  Is.  Not.  Available.

A week or so later we took our small summer trip with the Upward Bound students to Tulsa.  I remember being incredibly nervous every time I was around Kerry.  I remember Yolanda pushing and pressing me to try and sit by Kerry or try and talk to him, but I was way, way too embarrassed (remember the pool incident?).  I wasn't about to put myself out there.  Especially knowing he was taken.  However, after we returned from that trip I was about to receive some great news and to learn that I had more people pulling for me than I had known.

KERRY:  When we returned from Tulsa, my fellow male counselors had noticed that I wasn't exactly happy when discussing my girlfriend or when I was actually in her presence (for fans of "The Office", think Michael Scott's relationship with Jan).  As a result, they all went in together to get me a calling card (this was still before everyone had a cell phone) to call up my girlfriend and break up with her.  So I a conversation that lasted more than an hour...on a pay phone...with half the male students standing around watching the drama unfold.

I was so excited to know he was free of "hot dog queen."  But still not sure if he was actually interested in me.

Having full knowledge of "the breakup" put Yolanda into super-matchmaking overdrive.  She was so sure we needed to date.  I was terrified.  I knew how forward she was and I knew she would not rest (regardless of how embarrassing it might be to us) until she made this happen.

My alarm clock went off one morning as it did every day.  I dragged my sleep-deprived, grumpy butt out of bed and zombie walked out of my dorm room to start waking up my girl students for the day.  When I returned to my room I noticed an envelope taped to my door with my name on it.  My heart skipped a beat.  I knew it was from him.  It read:


In only your first year, you are a model of not only what a PC (peer counselor) should be, but what a person should be.  The female students are lucky to have someone like you to look up to.  

Even though this is only my first year, the qualities you possess are among those which I hope to incorporate into my attitude; it would be great to recommend that anyone with any amount of experience in this job should take some of the things you do for the kids and use them in their own work. 

Kerry Dale

I read it probably 100 times.  I read it to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  I tried to read between any possible lines.  I dissected this letter and came to the following conclusions:
  1. Kerry is smarter than me...ridiculously smarter...which I like.
  2. He thinks I am good at my job.
  3. He is more polite and well spoken than any other guy I had ever been interested in.
  4. I still can't tell if he is interested.

I decided to write him back.  This may be one of the most stressful letters I had ever written.  Way more difficult than any paper I would have to write in my college years.  I was very aware of how intelligent he was and how average I was.  I wanted to use big eloquent words, but I was mortified at the possibility of using a word out of context (something I do often and it is always embarrassing.)  Here is what I came up with:


Thanks for the letter.  I enjoy being around you and I'm glad that we are getting to know each other a little more.  I just think that you are an awesome person (and PC) who I respect a lot.  You are the kind of person that people want to be around, and I find myself wanting to be around you also.  

Hopefully over the next few weeks we can keep learning more about each other and all of the other PC's.  It's hard to believe that the program has went by so fast.  I will more than likely apply for this job again next summer.  I think this job is one of the best things that I've ever been a part of.


I was trying to be as vague as possible.  I wanted him to make the first move.  (Also reading that letter, I cringe.  I wanted so badly to edit it before putting it here on my blog, but it is word for word what I wrote.)

KERRY:  Looking back on that first note that I wrote, I can't figure out if I was trying to write the preface for a biographical novel or trying to win a girl's heart.  But I was careful with my words; it was, after all, a felony to date a fellow PC during the course of the summer program (OK, not quite, but they made it sound like the punishment was severe).  Either way, I knew that first note couldn't cement the budding relationship, but I sure knew that it could kill it before it ever took its first breath.

I promise, I'm about to get to the good stuff...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Story of Us: Part One

In a few weeks, July 27th to be exact, Kerry and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  This impending milestone has got my mind reflecting on our relationship and thinking back to the very beginning.  This week I have been digging through my hope chest and other storage boxes looking for any pictures, love notes, and other memorabilia from our relationship.  (By the way, a helpful tip for anyone that saves keepsakes from their significant other:  please keep all these things in one box!  I have looked all over the house, and still haven't found them all.)

Anyhow, I spent the last few days traveling back down the road of our relationship and it inspired this blog entry.  I'm going to share with you how Kerry and I became "us."  I've also asked Kerry to put in his thoughts as well.  I hope you enjoy!

Towards the end of my freshmen year of college my friend Jill suggested we apply for peer counselor positions for the Upward Bound summer program at our junior college.  Not wanting to go home for the summer I jumped at the opportunity.  Jill and I both applied for the positions and we were both hired.  However, before the summer started, Jill decided to take an internship position at her church instead.  I was bummed at first, but I thought it would still be better than spending the summer in my home town working a job I hated.  I was also relieved to find out that my summer roommate would be a fellow CASC student, Yolanda.  We weren't close friends, but we had been on dance team together and she had always been really nice.

Picture of me summer of 2000
May rolled around and I was required to attend an Upward Bound orientation meeting. All the students, their parents, and staff were required to be there.  During the meeting the peer counselors were asked to stand up and introduce ourselves.  This was my first time to encounter Kerry.  Oh, and it was quite the encounter.  Not like you might be thinking.  It was not romantic, or love at first sight.  I actually thought he was a little crazy and very hyper.  He was beyond ecstatic to be there.  Yelling and jumping around.  I remember thinking, "this guy needs to calm down."  He had worked there the previous summer and loved it...obsessed about it.  I on the other hand was just trying to put on a good face and pretend I wasn't annoyed losing a Saturday morning of sleeping in.

KERRY:  She's right.  I was an absolute nutbar.  My enthusiasm for a job in which I did so much and got paid so little was inexplicable.  I think it was the idea of not having to be in the hay field or umpiring summer league baseball games that got me so excited.  You would've thought my application acceptance to work that summer was like getting accepted into something, anything else.

The end of May came and it was time to move into our rooms and start staff training. I was in the middle of carrying boxes to my new dorm room when 3 guys pulled up next to the curb, one being Kerry.  The driver says in a very "Joey from Friends" type- way, "Hey there, you need any help with those boxes?"  Embarrassed and annoyed I said, "No, thank-you."  Driver: "You sure about that?"  Me: "yes, I am sure."  Later I would learn that Kerry was mortified.

KERRY:  Willy Whitmore and Josh Cox did more to make me feel uncomfortable in that moment than all the farts I accidentally let slip in all my elementary school years combined.

We began our training during the day and at night we were free to go off campus or do whatever.  All the returning summer staff from the previous year hung out every night telling inside jokes and playing board games.  They invited me every night, but I declined.  I wanted to spend my last few nights of freedom with my college friends.

The next week the Upward Bound high school students moved into their dorms.  I  quickly fell in love with the job.  It was a crazy, very busy, 24/7 job, but I loved it.  Each peer counselor was assigned 10 students they were responsible for.  I was incredibly lucky and got 10 awesome girls.  

Every night after the students went to bed the summer staff would hang out in the BCM and have a nightly staff meeting and then just rant about the day, laugh, and laugh some more.  During these meetings I began to see just how funny Kerry was.  He was naturally funny, and I began to be drawn to him because of it.

One day Kerry and I were assigned to supervise swimming tests at the pool.  We were sitting next to each other watching to see if student after student could tread water.  Being naturally chatty, I decided to strike up conversation.  He was, after all, one of the only peer counselors I really hadn't had the chance to get to know yet.

Me:  So you went to Carl Albert?
Kerry:  Yes
Me:  And you're at Southeastern now?
Kerry:  Yes
Me:  Where are you from?
Kerry:  Red Oak
*insert cricket chirping

KERRY:  I was focused on making sure kids didn't drown.  Mainly because if they did start to flail in the water, I was in no position to save them.  Asking me to be in charge of a swimming test would be like asking a cast member of "Jersey Shore" to be in charge of an abstinence campaign.  Seriously, though, I was nervous.  She was pretty.

He would not elaborate on any question.  He would not look at me when I asked them, and he would not ask me anything.  With my pride taking a small beating I gave up and walked to the opposite side of the pool.  What is this guy's deal?  Why won't he talk?  It's simple, I ask a question, and he is supposed to tell me about himself, maybe even ask me a few questions.  It's not like I was hitting on him, I was just trying to get to know a fellow peer counselor.  Lord, that was painful, I will not attempt that again!

Upward Bound 2000 summer staff.  Kerry and I on the far left.

In the next few days I would discover Kerry had a girlfriend...

We were in the basketball gym playing a staff versus students game when I first noticed her. She was sitting in the stands with a friend.  I had no idea who she was or who she was visiting.  I asked another peer counselor who she was and they told me "Kerry's girlfriend."  I remember being disappointed and then quickly wondering "where is this coming from?"

A few days later I walked into the dorm office and there she was.  She was staring out the window towards Kerry's dorm room.  She was talking to herself, but in that way where she was hoping someone would acknowledge her saying, "Where's my boyfriend, where's my boyfriend, where's my boyfriend?"  I looked at her and said, "You must be Kerry's girlfriend?"  "Yes," she said, "and I got him a gift...a card and some hot dogs, and I put them at his door! I'm surprising him, I can't wait 'til he sees them!"

"Oh...okay" was all I was able to muster up.  Ugh, this girl?  Are you kidding?  Hot dogs, in June?  What kind of weirdo psycho brings a guy surprise hot dogs?  Why is he with her?  Wait, why do I care so much?

KERRY:  Who buys a bag of hot dogs and leaves it on the outdoor front step of a college dorm for a significant other?  In June?  In Oklahoma?  I think the better question is, who dates someone who buys a bag of hot dogs and leaves it on the outdoor front step of a college dorm in June in Oklahoma?

I don't know about any of you, but I was having a moment where I really liked a guy, I just didn't know it yet.

To be continued...