lukeandmanda

The most amazing love story since Romeo and Juliet haha

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Our Engagement — Luke’s Perspective (and his one and ONLY blog post!)

I remember the first time I set eyes on Amanda Sams. She was beautiful to say the least and I remember thinking as much when I first saw her. She was confident and very polite which I came to understand that was a shallow disguise to hide a difficult life that had taken its toll on her. Looking back I would have appreciated how tough she was and how incredibly strong she was through it all. But I remember thinking how it didn’t seem plausible that someone could be as good as she was pretending to be. Obviously I was very wrong because she has turned out to be the most wonderful thing that has ever been mine.

My engagement to Amanda Sams was one of complete and utter success…mostly because she said yes. I planned it out for many weeks, approximately six or seven and had the ring about three or four weeks before through a friend who knew a jeweler in Oklahoma City. I feel like an expert in all things engagement rings now. I planned out the location with the help of Jessica Belue and it turned out perfectly a bridge over a pond among the largest collection of azalea bushes in the world. It was beautiful…almost as beautiful as the girl who I proposed too. I wrote out some cards that showed her the route to take down to the bridge, it was only about a quarter mile and I was waiting behind some thick trees and bushes waiting for her to find the last one I placed in the center of the bridge that said simply “Look up” to which I stepped out and walked to the center of the bridge got down on one knee and she said “Of course!” Thus ended more than six weeks of pure nervousness and I could not be a happier man for it. I am going to spend the rest of my life with the girl of my dreams and that makes me the richest man in the world.

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We’re Engaged! How We Met & Our Proposal Story :]

(Amanda’s Perspective): How do I begin to write about the most incredible day of my life thus far? I have been debating how to write this blog post, and I figured I will just tell the whole story from the beginning, because every good story has a beginning, middle and end. And I will apologize in advance, because this might get rather lengthy. But, if you are interested in reading it all, here goes nothing. I guess it all started with the way we met. (If you are JUST interested in the proposal, skip to paragraph 9!)

Luke Huntington Bradshaw and I met in May of 2010 on Redstone Arsenal, for those of you who are new to our story. I have worked as a summer intern on the Arsenal since 2007, and I always loved my summer job because I got to work with my best friend, Jessica Belue. She and I met at this job when we were 16, and we have been very close ever since. We go to rival universities though (Bama and Auburn), so I was especially looking forward to going back to work in 2010 because I knew I would get to see her every single day again. Luke and another West Point cadet showed up on our first day back to work that summer, and I actually still remember the first time I saw him because he struck me as extremely handsome. We were all gathered around the round table having our weekly staff meeting, and these two cadets walked into the Concepts Analysis Lab behind our resident AstroPhysicist. This was nothing unusual, because we had various pairs of West Point cadets almost every summer that I worked there, and I was always kind to them and made friends with them, but I had never been attracted to any of them before. I specifically remember that when this pair of cadets walked in though, my eyes were immediately drawn to the tall, blond one whose green eyes matched his ACUs.

They came around the table to sit down, taking the last two chairs, and when one of our female co-workers showed up a minute later, I noticed the way that Luke instantly jumped up and offered her his seat. I thought he was so well-mannered and polite. But, I was about to be proven wrong haha Let’s just say Mr. Bradshaw had a case of the “yuk blues” when he first arrived in Huntsville, meaning that after his second year at West Point, he was very, very bitter about life in general. (He had also wanted to participate in Air Assault during that summer time slot but hurt his knee right before so he was forced to take the AIAD in Huntsville. So he was unhappy about being there to begin with.) I soon learned that he was in the habit of complaining and that he had a tendency to make inappropriate comments and use curse words in almost every sentence because he was so used to being around soldiers all of the time. Honestly, by the end of Day 1 after I had asked him not to curse about 25 times and he continued to slip back into it, I thought he was the biggest jerk to ever exist (not realizing how jaded West Point cadets can be at this time in their careers.) But I did not know all of this yet. After the staff meeting, I went up to these two cadets to introduce myself. They were sitting over in the cubicle across from mine, and I went over to say hello, like I usually did when we got new interns. Luke was reading the newspaper since he did not have a computer yet, so I went up and said, “Hi, I’m Amanda. What’s your name?” Luke glanced up, acted uninterested, pointed at his “Bradshaw” nametape, and went back to reading the newspaper. The other cadet was chattering away, but I was focused on Luke at this point. I said, “OK, Bradshaw, what’s your first name?” He seemed surprised that I asked (probably another West Point habit,) but he finally said, “Luke.” I said, “Nice to meet you” or something, and went back to my desk, and that was the extent of our first interaction. Haha he claims the first time he saw me he tripped over a table or something, but I did not know this yet.

There is never anything to do at work during that lazy first week of summer because the interns don’t have computer access yet, so it is a lot of in-processing and waiting around. Therefore, I had lots of time on my hands to talk (and flirt) with Luke. I soon learned that he was very blunt and honest, and by lunchtime on Day 2, I was absolutely infuriated by some comment he had made. (I actually think it was something like “You seem like a high maintenance girl and I would never want to end up with one of those…Imagine that! ;]) Jess was driving us to lunch somewhere, and I was huffing and puffing around and stomping out to her car, muttering about what a jerk the new cadet was. He had really gotten under my skin. She looked at me and said, “Manda..I don’t understand why you’re this upset. You’re never going to see him again after these three weeks. Why do you care what he thinks?” The problem was, I did care.

After lunch, I was appropriately ignoring him and reading a book when he came over and apologized. He told me that he is from the South too (North Carolina), and he just had not been around girls in a while and did not mean to be so rude earlier. (He told me much, much later that he thought that a girl like me would never want to be with a guy like him so he didn’t want to waste his time…And I told him that was ridiculous, because I am truly the lucky one.) Anyway, as you can tell, I had not exactly fallen in love with his charm at this point haha. But, he continued to sit in my cube and talk to me day after day, and the more we talked, the more I began to like him as a person. He gradually stopped cursing, and he was really very likeable and had the best sense of humor in the world. He could literally make me laugh for hours. He seemed like a Southern gentleman who was just a bit out of practice with the whole manners/etiquette/common courtesy thing. I knew we were very different, of course. He was from the country and appreciated the simple things in life. I was a city girl at heart and truly enjoyed the finer things in life. I was worried about what people thought of me, and he legitimately could not care less. He was the most honest, genuine, person I had ever met. You either liked him for him or you didn’t.  He was not worried about impressing anyone. He liked that I wanted to get to know him as a person, and the fact that I did not seem overly concerned or impressed with the fact that he went to West Point. I really wasn’t, since I had met lots of cadets before, but apparently several girls he had dated had only liked him because of that. And so, the boy and girl from completely different sides of the tracks began to fall in love.

The end of Week 1 approached, and we got a three-day weekend for Memorial Day. I knew that Luke had plans to go up to Tennessee to meet up with his family, and I also knew that his family was bringing along his ex-girlfriend as some sort of joke. As the end of the work day rolled around, and he was packing up his stuff to go, I remember feeling oddly jealous that he was going to be spending the weekend with this girl. The guys left, and I remember being so disappointed that Luke had not asked for my number or anything. After talking for entire week during in-processing, that seemed like the natural thing to do right?  Luckily, my irritation did not last long. Luke had left something behind on purpose so that he could come back in and get my number. We texted constantly throughout the weekend, and I was even able to text him directions up to Tennessee, since he had not thought to print them out beforehand. (He was already lost without me!) Lol. Later, his brother’s girlfriend told me that Luke talked about me constantly over that weekend and was so excited about taking me on a date. He promptly ignored the ex-girlfriend too, which made me feel really good. He even left early on Monday so that he could drive down and pick me up on his way to Birmingham to visit his aunt and uncle. He had invited me on this road trip on Saturday, and I hate to say it, but I was a bit skeptical about a two-hour road trip with a guy I had really just met, and so I ended up cancelling on him, which he later told me upset him greatly. But what’s a girl to do? You can’t just trust any random, gorgeous guy in ACUs now can you?

With the beginning of Week 2, we had computers so we could not talk as much at work, but we made up for it through texting. That Tuesday after work, I was driving home in the rain and he texted me saying it was a perfect day for a movie but he really didn’t want to go alone. I ended up agreeing to go to the movies with him as “friends”, and he let me pick. I chose Shrek III, not knowing he had already seen it! I thought it would be funny and light-hearted, and he agreed to go with me and sat through that whole movie for a second time just for me haha. He was so sweet because apparently he had already gone to see it by himself. But, I was unimpressed that he showed up wearing (I kid you not) a baseball cap, cut-off sleeveless shirt, basketball shorts, SOCKS, and Adidas slides. Now I was just wearing a t-shirt and jeans but he looked like your typical sloppy jock that just rolled out of bed. (I did not mind getting to see those arm muscles though! lol) I forgive him for this because it was not technically a date, but I knew it was going to be a long road ahead haha He gave me a hug when we left, and that was that. We texted all that night though, and despite the sloppy outfit, I had truly had a great time with him.

Fast forward to Saturday, June 5th, and we went on our first “official date” at Bridgestreet, We ate at Dolce (an Italian place that has since closed) and saw the movie ‘Splice.’ (long story, but this was the WORST sci-fi movie ever. Everything else was sold out, and Luke chose to buy tickets to this rather than ending the date early lol)He held my hand for the first time during that movie though, so despite the horrific movie, this date will always hold a special meaning for me.

Anyway, we continued to text, talk and go out together for the next two weeks, and we were crazy about each other by the time he left Huntsville. We continued to talk on the phone for the next 6 weeks while he was back at West Point, and according to the letters I received from his new cadets, he was calling me his girlfriend. (Basically as a punishment, Luke made them write me letters about how wonderful he was haha). I wasn’t seeing anyone else, and neither was he, so we say we started dating on June 5th, although I don’t think we were FB official until late August. He drove back down to see me for a weekend during his summer leave, and that’s when we knew we were going to make this long distance relationship from New York to Alabama work. A lot has changed in the past 2 1/3 years, but one thing hasn’t. I am still just as crazy about him as I was after the first time he left Huntsville to go back to West Point. (Jess says I came in to work the Monday after he left looking like death itself. I hadn’t bothered to put make up on and kept crying every few minutes lol she finally asked what was wrong, and boy was she in for a surprise! I hadn’t told anyone in the office that we were dating, so that sure made for an interesting lunch conversation lol).

During that time, we made sure to see each other at least once a month, sometimes more, but the longest we have ever spent completely apart is 6 weeks, which seems miraculous considering how far apart we lived. We just could not stand to stay away from each other! He graduated from West Point in May, and I was so excited to close that chapter in our lives. While it was a wonderful one and I am so proud of him, it is nice that he will be living much closer to me in Georgia before the year is out. We spent 40 days together this summer before he had to report to Lawton, Oklahoma for his Basic Officer Leader’s Course, and it was really hard to say goodbye after that summer together. I have been out to visit him at Fort Sill twice now (once in August and over Columbus Day,) and he came down to visit me in Tuscaloosa over Labor Day. I left Lawton on October 8th thinking I would not see him again until Thanksgiving, but I was excited that it was our last big countdown before he moves to Georgia. Little did I know, Luke had a surprise up his sleeve for me. Which brings me to the proposal story…

I went to visit Jess at Auburn for my 22nd birthday weekend. I got there on Friday night, and she took me to eat Mexican and bought me fajitas for dinner. We went back to her apartment to bake my birthday cake and to play board games with Luke (on the web cam) and her boyfriend Will. We Skyped Luke, and I KNEW FOR A FACT that he was in his room in Oklahoma. So any visions of a b’day surprise were certainly far from my mind. Anyway, so Saturday rolls around, and she tells me we are getting lunch, going shopping in Columbus (near Fort Benning) and taking pictures in a botanical gardens that she had found. So, we got a late start, had lunch at Friday’s, and then with the time change, we arrived at Callaway Gardens shortly before it closed. (literally 15 mins before it closed.) I kept telling her we should just come back some other time, especially since I was wearing a dress and heels and she was wearing jeans! I was way over dressed for the woods…But she had made me wear that outfit for my birthday. So we decided to hike up this trail to the Azalea Bowl, which I later found out is the largest azalea garden in the world. Luke had hidden clues for me along the path, leading me to this bridge overlooking a small, man-made waterfall.

Reading the first clue

Jess taking a picture of me on the bridge where he later proposed

View from the bridge!

Luke came out from behind a tree while we were taking pictures on this bridge, and I remember seeing him in his suit from a bit of a distance, and I literally looked at Jessica and she says that I said, “Jessica, is that Luke?” She replied, “Manda, I am going to need you to walk toward me,” and so I started walking that way, toward Luke, and we met kind of in the middle of the bridge. I gave him a huge hug, because I thought that he was just there to surprise me for my birthday. The proposal idea had not dawned on me yet. But he grabbed my hand and led me back further toward the center of the bridge. And he said, “Amanda Louise Sams, I love you. But I am going to need to ask you a question.” And then he dropped to one knee.

The proposal speech

“Will you marry me?”

Most of his sweet speech is a bit hazy, and he said he memorized it for weeks and ended up just speaking from the heart after all. We were both so nervous, but I distinctly remember that question, “Will you marry me?” and my reply? “Of course! Yes!” I grabbed him and gave him a big bear hug without even taking the ring, and then he asked me which hand the ring went on again and slid the most beautiful diamond ring onto my finger.

Placing the ring on my finger

Picking me up in a celebratory hug

We were so excited!

It was so perfect and romantic, and I was so glad Jess was there to take pictures of the whole thing. I did not even realize she was there for most of it!

The future Mr. and Mrs. Luke Bradshaw

The ring..He did so well :]

Twirling me around the garden in a celebratory dance!

After Jess left, Luke took me out for a nice dinner with champagne…We were both too excited to eat much so we mainly ended up drinking champagne and eating a complimentary dessert, and then we called all of our close friends and family members to share the good news.

Celebrating in the restaurant at Callaway Gardens, and toasting to “50+”

He was on the ground less than 24 hours because he had gotten special permission to come and surprise me, and we spent about 10 of those together!

Words cannot describe how excited I am to finally become Mrs. Luke Bradshaw. I may not have known it back when we first met in Summer of 2010, but I know it now: This man is truly the love of my life and best friend. We have gone through lots of fire together (much of which would have broken many other couples), but we have come through stronger than ever on the other side. I am fully confident that we will love each other until the end of time and have a long and happy life together. We owe every bit of our happiness to the Lord, and we are just so thankful to have been given the gift of each other. Our relationship is centered on God, and I truly believe that is the key to every bit of joy we have had as a couple. We are truly blessed beyond measure, and we have greatly enjoyed celebrating with all of our wonderful friends and family whose support means the world to us. Here’s to 50+ Mr. Bradshaw, and as my engagement ring says in the inner engraving, “Forever and Always.”
***My mother suggested that I put a disclaimer at the end of this blog post: No I do not usually text or constantly talk to co-workers while at work. This was a one-time, 1-week time period while we were in-processing and waiting for computer access. Besides, we mainly texted after work anyway. :]

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It’s the small things

I am starting to realize that the secret to finding true happiness in life is by taking joy in the small things that come along when you least expect them every day. For example, I forgot my hair straightener in Oklahoma, and Luke mailed it to me. When I opened the package today, I found that he had sent me the sweetest card with pictures of monkeys on the front (because he calls me Monkey lol) and it absolutely made my day! I also got to teach Professor Cummings’s 4th graders at the Magnet School today, and I am pretty sure they all know the 5Ws in a news story lede now. I also met my good friend Laura Metcalf for lunch at the Student Center, which is always fun. (She introduced me to her friend Kayla, so I made a new friend as well). Take all of that and add it to the fact that my political science class was cut blissfully short since we finished our group project early, and I am meeting my friend Lauren Hendrix for dinner to celebrate her upcoming wedding on Saturday. All of these little things equal a great big happiness when added all together. In my opinion, unhappiness often comes when expectations are unrealistic and therefore, not met, or when people fail to find wonder in the small things. I mean all it took was a card with monkeys on it to make my day, or rather relishing the fact that I have the sweetest boyfriend in the world who is just so perfect for me and completes me in so many ways and actually took the time to send that card to me.

I could so easily be focused on negative things this week, such as how many tests/projects I have in the coming days, how Luke and I have nearly 40 days until we’ll see each other again, etc. But, choosing to delight in the small things is really so much more fun, in my opinion. I think the power of a positive attitude and optimistic thinking is often underestimated. I mean after all, a day can be made or ruined by the way you look at it. I think I must provide an example of the power of perspective.

When speaking of these small things that bring joy, I really would be remiss if I did not mention my experience at the local pumpkin patch this past weekend. One of my best friends, Lauren Killen, called me up on Saturday and suggested that we visit the local pumpkin patch where it cost just $10 to get a pumpkin, a hayride and visit the petting zoo. I was all for this, of course, as I had just been thinking I wanted to carve a Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween. (It also provided me with a desperately needed diversion from the mountains of homework and assignments sitting on my desk).

So, I invited my brother and his sweet new girlfriend Ashley to come along with Lauren and I to (yes, this is the real name) Critter Creek to get our pumpkins. We decided to make a day of it and planned to bake pumpkin pies that night while we carved our Jack-O-Lanterns. We arrived at the pumpkin patch around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday (yes, we are terrible Bama fans. We chose the outdoors in lieu of watching Bama squash Missouri on TV). If you know me at all, you know how camera and picture-obsessed I am, and so the following pictures at all of the available photo opps really won’t be surprising:

Ethan and I at Critter Creek – Oct. 13, 2012

Lauren and I at Critter Creek – Oct. 13, 2012

We decided to visit the petting zoo first, and Ashley was extremely excited to pet the cute goats and bunny rabbits. Sadly, the bunny rabbit was not so excited to see Ashley.

Ashley dropping the rabbit (after it clawed at her)

Ashley and the Rabbit Part II

This moment was seriously priceless. We gave up on petting the animals at this point lol Although, Ethan did get to pet a pretty cool turtle. We also saw two black bears trapped in a tiny cage (sad), a puma, an emu and an exotic-looking ferret. Then, it was time for the hay ride.

Ethan and Ashley- Critter Creek Oct. 13, 2012

Although Ethan was trying to look coolly nonchalant in this picture, we were actually all having lots of fun! The bell for the hayride was rung, and we headed up a hill and down the other side to the pumpkin patch, where, my oh my, we found the tiniest pumpkins this side of the Mississippi. But seriously, this was no Tate Farms (in Meridianville, Alabama)…We got the biggest ones that we could find though.

Proudly holding the largest pumpkins in the patch!

On our way back up the hill on the “hayride,” the guide informed us that these pumpkins were basically impossible to carve. He said that he tries every year, but they are just too small. So, we basically scratched the Jack-O-Lantern idea and decided to sit at the picnic table and paint them instead with paint pens. They actually turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

Meet Penelope and Roxy (our pumpkins!)

Our prized creations…E-daddy, Penelope, Roxy and Ashley’s initials

We left the pumpkin patch (since they closed at 4) and did not get to play a game of corn hole. But we still had an AMAZING time, and it was so nice to get out of the house for a while. Our pumpkins are proudly displayed on the bar in our kitchen, and we even had time to bake pumpkin pies AND finish all of our homework.

Now, the moral of the story is that it could have been so easy to be very negative about this experience. After all, we drove 23 minutes down winding country roads to Vance, Ala., paid $10 a piece ($40 total) for these TINY PUMPKINS. I’d barely call that tractor/hay bale contraption a hay ride, and all of the animals were so skittish at the petting zoo that I barely came within three feet of one. Unless you count Ashley being scratched by a rabid rabbit. And, remember, we still could not carve a Jack-O-Lantern because the pumpkins were so tiny…You catch my drift. I am sure you also can see how negativity could have ruined our day and this fun experience with friends. Instead of stomping off mad as hornets in a nest that has been disturbed, we came home with four painted pumpkins, lots of cute pictures, and a fun story to tell too! We also had a blast wandering around that hole-in-the-wall, dilapidated pumpkin patch! It is amazing how a simple thing like perspective and attitude can transform an entire experience.

It makes me think about how much negativity can ruin your life, too. If nothing is ever good enough or never lives up to your unrealistic expectations, are you always going to be miserable, wanting for more than you can ever have? After all, one of the 12 secrets of happiness is to be content with what you have. Another one is to keep a positive mindset no matter what life throws your way. So next time you are complaining about not having the nicest furniture in your college apartment, or the fact that your boyfriend lives hundreds of miles away, think about the person who has no furniture and is homeless or the person who would kill to have a sweet boyfriend who loves them even if he is far away. (hint, hint: read and take to heart, Manda. Listen to your own advice. Haha) This is a hard lesson to learn, but my taking joy in the small things or by embracing those small pumpkins if you will, has helped me to have an INCREDIBLE week despite being overloaded with midterms and other commitments. I think it’s something to remember in the coming days and weeks..It’s really all about finding joy in the small things.

You still give me butterflies

Last Thursday found me (Amanda) excited, hopeful and in the famous words of Thumper, rather twitterpated as I excitedly sat in a chair at the nail salon in Tuscaloosa, getting a manicure with my friend Rachel, in preparation for my visit to see Luke that afternoon (and also in preparation for her surprise proposal the following evening! Little did she know of course…So here’s a quick shout out to my friend Rachel Childers and her new fiance Jeffrey! Wishing you both a lifetime of happiness.)

Anyway, back to the nail salon. As I sat there while the manicurist mumbled to himself in Chinese and halfheartedly filed my nails, I started to get those never-failing butterflies that always arrive on the day when I am headed to see my love. It amazes me that even after more than two years, I still get so blissfully excited to see him! Since my car had broken down the day before, I paid my brother to rush me to the airport in time for my 12:30 p.m. flight, and my excitement continued to build, even as I sped up the interstate with Ethan and his sweet new girlfriend, Ashley, trying to clear my head above his never-ending rap music that was pounding away about six decibels too loudly. We screeched to a halt in front of the American Airlines terminal, and I rushed inside to check in and find my gate. I walked up to the American counter and asked the kind, patient, ever-willing to help elderly lady who was working at the counter to please check me in for the 12:37 p.m. flight to Houston. She looked at me calmly and said, “We ain’t got no more flights to Houston today. We have one to Dallas at 5 though.” She then popped her gum and stared at me. I said, “Ma’am there must be some confusion, as I am on that flight.” I knew that I had glanced at read the Expedia confirmation that Luke had forwarded me the night before, and make no mistake about it, I was on that flight. I was also scheduled to arrive in Oklahoma City by 5 p.m. so this lady must be incorrect. Since I am one of the last people in the population of this planet to not have a smart phone with Internet access, I asked the kind lady to please check again for me. She sighed three times and then did as I requested. It turns out that I was NOT in fact on the American Airlines flight at that time because I was actually booked on a UNITED flight..Oh boy, did I feel silly. The woman gave me a self-satisfied smirk as I walked away, quickly, toward the United kiosk. However, one small little embarrassment was not about to ruin my day! After all, I was headed to see the man of my dreams in just a couple of short hours!

I arrived in Houston with no delays and actually had an extremely productive flight. I read all about the mindset of the criminal underworld and the inner workings of the Mafia in preparation for my poli sci Human Rights class midterm. (I also got to read about fun torture methods such as waterboarding and the gruesome practices of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay during the Dirty Wars. Fun stuff). I was excited to see that the Houston airport has a Schlotzky’s inside, and I helped myself to a large sandwich while I waited at Gate B84D (yes, this gate did exist! I had never seen one with 2 letters before). My flight to OKC was on time as well, and the flight was quick with no turbulence, which was a nice change of pace for such a small plane. Luke, however, was delayed. He was supposed to get out at 3 p.m. along with all of the other guys in his BOLC class, but his platoon worked four hours late, so he was unable to come to pick me up in OKC. The costly airport shuttle ride up to Lawton was well worth it though, as my driver thought it his duty to compare religious beliefs, share relationship advice and generally chat with me about all topics under the sun for the entire ride to Fort Sill. It was quite entertaining at times, although I will confess that I called my best friend Jessica for about 20 minutes for a quick respite from the conversation. The driver dropped me off at the front of Luke’s apartment complex, and I FINALLY saw my guy for the first time in almost 5 weeks.

He was looking dashingly handsome in a blue and green plaid shirt that I had picked out for him this summer, and he grabbed me into a big, bear hug the second I got out of the taxi, making the entire waiting period since Labor Day and the long journey up to Oklahoma so incredibly worthwhile. We were both slightly nervous and just so excited to be with each other again! He took me to eat at one of the 10 million amazing Mexican restaurants in Lawton, and I honestly can’t even remember what I ordered for dinner, but I do remember that we had the best conversation. We both relaxed of course, and we had a great time. He even bought me a sopapilla for dessert! And of course, I forgot my camera for this trip, but luckily, Luke recently got an Android, so the few pictures that we have this time were taken on his phone. Surprisingly decent quality pictures too, although I certainly did miss my camera!

Waiting for our food, and Luke couldn’t wait to take this picture for his new phone background lol

On Friday, Luke had to work, so I tried to sleep in, but his apartment complex decided to host an all-morning fire drill with fire alarms continuously blaring around various buildings. So, I was up earlier than expected and tried to start studying for midterms again. I also did all of Luke’s laundry and cleaned his apartment to some extent with the limited cleaning supplies he had, so I felt like a very accomplished girlfriend. After the morning cleaning, Lindsey Oliver picked me up to meet our friend Rosa Stevens for lunch at this Thai place. I got the sweet and sour chicken (so original, right?) and it was pretty good. I had a great time catching up with them! Lindsey and I talked for a while when she dropped me back off at the apartment, and she is such an inspiration to me as a military wife. She always maintains a positive outlook and is just so much fun to be around!

Luke came home a little after lunch since all of his instructors were ready to get off for the holiday weekend, which was nice. We headed out for an early date night since he was starving! We ate at Rib Crib and then headed to the movies to see Looper, which we both liked more than we thought we would. It was very thought-provoking, and I thought the movie was well made. I made him take me by Sonic for a late-night limeade, and we promptly passed out around 1 a.m. which is late for the two of us these days!

On Saturday, we decided to head down to Oklahoma City to see the sights. First, we headed to the Stockyard Exchange, which is the largest live cattle auction in existence in America. Auctions are held every Monday and Tuesday, and it was interesting to see the town and read about some of the history.

OKC Stockyard Exchange

Awesome bull statue on the square across from Cattlemen’s Steakhouse

We had a great time wandering around the shops, and Luke got a new pair of jeans and a pullover in the Western store. I never knew how much money you can spend in one of those stores, but all of that cowboy bling adds up– belt buckles, boots, socks, dishes, everything! You could literally decorate  your entire home with rustic picture frames, vases, pitchers and more from one of these stores. I just bought a little postcard to remember the city and add to my postcard collection, and while we were thinking about it, we ran to Hobby Lobby to buy an album for me to put all of my postcards in. This is adding to a tradition my mom started with my brother and I when we were young. We collect a postcard from every place we visit and then write details about the trip on the back. Collecting these in an album makes it fun to look back on years down the road.

After Hobby Lobby, we randomly stopped in this furniture store that was having a sale and quickly realized that we are going to be broke as a joke for the next few years as we begin our lives together. Furniture is seriously NOT cheap, y’all! We may have to settle for a couple of really nice pieces and make the most of yard sales, discount stores, and the graciousness of our respective families for a bit in the beginning. Haha it was fun to browse though!

After window shopping, we headed to Cattlemen’s Steakhouse back at the Stockyard Exchange for dinner. Cattlemen’s has seriously some of the best filet mignon that I have ever eaten. It was juicy, tender and delicious, even if their definition of medium rare is a bit more “red with a heartbeat and falling straight off the cow” than mine is. So, I avoided the middle and enjoyed my steak to the fullest. The entire meal was wonderful, right down to the salad and dinner rolls.

With full bellies, we decided to brave the cold and explore:

Hoping to walk off a bit of our dinner, we meandered for a few blocks around this area before making a beeline for our destination: Michael Murphy’s Dueling Piano Bar.

Exploring Bricktown (& Luke’s awesome photography skills)

We were really not prepared for the frigid weather this weekend! I definitely did not bring a warm enough jacket, but it did give me an excuse to cuddle up next to Luke for warmth ;]

I must say, Michael Murphy’s is one of the coolest places we have been to in a while. The “dueling piano bar” features two pianos facing one another and multiple musicians who will play any requested songs for tips. It turns out the dueling comes more from the musicians cracking jokes at members of the audience than from facing off against one another. We heard everything from “Jessie’s Girl” to “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga to “Forever and Always.” The two bachelorettes in the building had special songs sung to them, and though the humor was a bit crude at times (as it was a comedy show), the establishment was pretty classy overall. I loved that there was no smoking inside! I also found their extensive martini menu to be pretty wonderful. (My new favorite drink is the Thin Mint ‘Tini– creme de menthe, Godiva chocolate vodka and cream). It tastes just like a Girl Scout cookie.

Totally grainy, discolored picture of Michael Murphy’s

Dueling piano bar– you get the picture.

That was a really fun night. Sunday morning consisted of Luke cooking me breakfast (yes, he is that wonderful!) and the two of us settling in to watch a very romantic…torture video…? Yes, you guessed it. More studying for my human rights midterm (which I took today, and did very well on!) So, we settled in and watched ‘Taxi to the Dark Side’ and he patiently waited for me to complete my assignment on the video. We got Taco Mayo for lunch (always a favorite) and then relaxed for the rest of the day. We watched TV, talked, laughed and had a great time. At some point during all of this, he was tickling my stomach, and I was laughing uncontrollably and for whatever reason I yelled, “Monkey! I mean…Uncle! Uncle, Monkey, whatever. Just stop.” So, he now calls me “Monkey.” Lol I think he is still laughing over this one. I am wondering if this nickname will stick…

We had a great weekend though, and I missed him the second I stepped into the airport yesterday morning. We have a 6.5 week countdown this time since I won’t see him until Thanksgiving Break, but the good news is that it is our next-to-the-last countdown for a very long time since he will be moving to Georgia at Christmas. So, I am determined to tackle this last hurdle of distance with a positive attitude, knowing that we are almost done paying our dues :]

43 days ❤

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