Tag Archives: harry potter

Disney Trips Flashbacks

As I mentioned in my last post, we are going to Disney World in December!!  I am beyond excited.  This will be my fifth trip to Disney World–I’m so fortunate!  All of the excitement of our upcoming trip has made me think about past trips and how much I loved each one of them.  I thought it’d be fun to share some flashbacks of my previous Disney Trips!

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Summer 1989 (2 years old)

For some reason, this is the only picture I have of our trip.  My mom has more, but this is the only one in my scrapbook.

Like I said earlier, I don’t remember this trip at all, but I know my family had a great time!  We went with my mom’s whole family.  And one of the things about taking such a little kiddo (at least so I’ve heard) is that it’s more for the parents than the kids.  I know my parents loved watching me get so excited while we were there.  And I’m thankful that I was able to go at such a young age!

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June 2002 (15 years old)

I just took pictures of my scrapbook pages for this trip since I don’t have any digital copies of the pictures.  And here’s a close-up of our family:

This trip was a BLAST!  We camped at Fort Wilderness on Disney property, and stayed for a whole week.  My little sister was 5, my brother was 12, and I was 15.  We were all at such good ages for a Disney trip.  My uncle, aunt, and their 3 kids also went with us.  We had such a good time, even though it rained every day.  We felt like a group of ducks in our yellow Mickey ponchos!  We visited all the parks, both water parks, and played mini golf.

It was so wonderful to be there with my family.  We made SO many great memories, from dancing with the parade people at Epcot, to getting splashed on the last hole at Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf, to eating breakfast with Pooh and friends, to riding everything we wanted to at least once, to just being together.  It was one of my favorite vacations of all time!

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October 2006 (19 years old)

This was our “Girls and PawPaw Trip”.  I skipped college and took off work for a week in order to go on this Fall Break trip.  My mom, sister, aunt, cousin, her two girls, Meme & Pawpaw all went.  We really missed my dad and brother, but it was such a great trip!  We were on the Disney Dining Plan for the first time, and it was probably one of the biggest highlights of the trip!  (I’ll probably never go to Disney World without it now!)  It was also my first time to go “off-season” and now I’m sold on the short wait times and cooler weather!

We met TONS of characters,

Rode/saw everything we wanted to with virtually no waits,

Went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party,

Acted goofy,

Ate INCREDIBLE food with the Dining Plan,

And just had a great trip.

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September 2009

This trip was just Michael and me.  It was AMAZING.  We went as a sort of delayed honeymoon.  There will never, ever be another trip like this one.  We were able to do and see everything we wanted to–without having to do the things we didn’t want to.  We didn’t have a care in the world besides what to pick to eat.  And speaking of eating, we did the Dining Plan again and ate at incredible restaurants!  We were goofy and carefree, but also took time to enjoy just being together and celebrating us.  It was PERFECT.

We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge,

Met Mickey & Minnie,


Ate at incredible restaurants,

Saw all of the different nighttime events, including Wishes, our favorite fireworks show,

Had PRIME seats at all of the shows and rides due to planning, planning, planning (this is when I fell in love with planning Disney trips, by the way),

Took pictures in goofy hats around Epcot World Showcase,

Michael got to be in two shows,

Rode everything we wanted to at least once,

Took a tour (which was great),

Took tons of “magic shots”

& just had an AMAZING time together.

Like I said earlier, it was PERFECT.

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Needless to say, I am SOOOO excited about our upcoming trip.  It’s going to be so great to take Josiah to Disney World for the first time and get to spend time with family.  It’ll be here before we know it!

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–Staci

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Q for you:  Have you ever been to Disney World (or Disneyland)?  What was your favorite thing?

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Disney Countdown

We’re going to Disney World (the one in Florida) in 28 days!  I can’t believe it’s finally this close–we’ve been planning for this trip since July 2011.  We are going with Michael’s parents, sister, brother, and sister-in-law.  It’s going to be so great to be able to spend such a long time with family.  We leave December 3 and will be gone for 8 nights & 9 days!!  We’re also visiting Islands of Adventure (at Universal Studios) to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!

For those of you who know me well, you know that I absolutely LOVE Disney–I love Walt Disney World, Disney Movies, Disney Music, etc.  I even convinced Michael to let me decorate our office in Disney things.  This will be my fifth trip to Disney World (but I was too young to remember my first trip).  I’m so excited to go back.

Michael and I finally got around to making our count-down yesterday.  We went ahead and made it for 30 days.  Last time we went (in ’09–just Michael and me), we made a poster countdown.  This time, we decided to make a chain with things we’re excited about.  We each wrote on one side.  Here’s a pic of part of our chain:

And here are the things we’re excited about…  By the way, we didn’t look at each other’s items.  We just really think alike.

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S: Visiting the New Fantasyland

M: Spending Family Time

S: The Candlelight Processional

M: Disney During Christmas

S: Josiah Getting Good Time w/ Family

M: Experiencing New Things w/ Family

S: Finding Nemo – The Musical

M: Josiah Getting Family Time

S: Mickey’s PhilharMagic

M: Visit New Fantasyland

S: Going on “It’s A Small World” with Josiah

M: Ride on Space Mountain Again

S: Spending Time w/ Family

M: Toy Story Midway Mania

S: Celebrating our Anniversary at California Grill

M: Lights, Motor Cars, Action!

S: Getting a Family Pic at the Castle

M: The Food!!!

S: Riding the Tower of Terror

M: The Snacks & Treats!

S: Staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge

M: Visiting Harry Potter World

S: Josiah Meeting Mickey

M: Butter Beer!

S: Eating at Be Our Guest

M: Using our New Cameras

S: Using our Snack Credits

M: Animal Kingdom Lodge

S: Visiting Harry Potter World

M: The Fireworks

S: Riding on the WDW (Magic Kingdom) Railroad

M: Getting Away for 9 Days!

S: Being on Vacation for 9 Days

M: The Desserts

S: Taking Time to Explore Epcot World Showcase

M: Making Memories

S: Christmas Decorations

M: Riding on the Updated Test Track

S: The Food

M: Mickey’s PhilharMagic

S: Taking it Slower b/c of Josiah

M: Seeing what Everyone’s Favorite Ride Is

S: Seeing Dr. Seuss Land

M: Seeing what Everyone’s Favorite Food Is

S: Toy Story Mania

M: Turtle Talk with Crush

S: Taking Pictures

M: Dinosaur (The Ride)

S: Rice Krispie Treat From Goofy’s Candy Co.

M: Be Our Guest Restaurant! (I Got the Reservation)

S: Experiencing “Slower” Attractions

M: Christmas Lights & Music

S: Shuffleboard Energy Game & Innoventions

M: Exploring New Areas

S: Resort Hopping/Visiting

M: Walking Around Hogsmeade

S: Exploring Hogsmeade

M: Getting Josiah Souvenirs

S: Making New Memories

M: Finding Nemo Show

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–Staci

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Q for you: What was the last thing you made a countdown for?


Harry Potter Week (last summer)

Last Summer, I posted that we were planning a Harry Potter Week with our youth students.  You can read about the plans HERE.  The week was a lot of fun with Harry Potter themed food, drinks, and crafts.  We watched a different HP movie each night and concluded the week with a trip to see 7.2 at the theater.

Michael and I recently watched all of the movies AGAIN in preparation for our visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando this coming December! (At least that was our excuse…)  And I recently joined Pottermore, and it made me want to re-read all of the books again.  But I have way too many other books to read first.

I never ended up posting pictures from that week and decided that it’s better late than never.  So here are the pictures from Harry Potter Week that should have been posted last summer.

Most of the ideas were found in these two books: “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

 

Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands

Mine & Michael’s (we formed ours at home to try the craft out)

Some of the completed wands.  They turned out so good!  All of the students REALLY liked this craft!

  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)

These were great!  The molds were super easy to use, and the frogs looked really good.  We decided to put mini marshmallows in some of them, and those turned out good as well.

  • Drink:  Butterbeer (recipe found HERE…used #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own).  I don’t have a picture of this, but it was AMAZING!! The students loved it, and I can’t wait to try Universal’s version.

 

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties

These were really easy, and they made for a great craft.

  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties

These took a LONG time to make.  And I can’t stand pumpkin, so I didn’t try one.  But the students who tried them really liked them.

  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice.  I don’t have a picture of this, but I did try it, and I can say it was good!  I think the pineapple, etc. made it where the pumpkin wasn’t very prominent.

 

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Wizard Money: Galleons, Knuts and Sickles

The students could paint their Wizard Money with whatever they wanted.  I chose a metallic paint, and over time they stuck to each other.  It’d be better with a flat paint and then add glitter.  But they were cute.

  • Snack:  Acid Pops

These weren’t very good.  They were a little too sticky.

  • Drink:  Polyjuice Potion

This actually turned out to be really good!  Michael was saying last night that we need to make some more.  You can’t see it in this picture, but there were gummy worms in the drink, which added some fun.

 

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills

For some reason, I didn’t get a picture of these, but they turned out cute.  They were definitely a cheap but practical craft.

  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs

  • Drink:  Liquid Luck

This turned out to be one of my favorites, even though it was simple.

 

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears

I didn’t make this craft, but here is a picture of one of the student’s

  • Snack:  Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans

These were SUPER easy.  I just made a label and put them on small cups.  We just used regular jelly beans, but you can purchase actual Bertie Bott’s Beans if you’d like.

  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

This was another that was simple yet good.

 

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff

These were super cute.  Mine is still on my shelf at work.

  • Snack:  Cockroach Clusters (found HERE)

Simple no-bake type cookies, but they were good.

  • Drink:  Butterbeer again.  It was just too good!!

 

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I honestly can’t remember what we did this day.  I think we told the kids they could finish up any of their crafts or they could bring a shirt to draw on.  But we might not have done anything.
  • I think we just had popcorn and leftover snacks, but again I could be wrong.  I was just too long ago!

It turned out to be a GREAT week!  There were lots of game ideas, etc. in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” but we didn’t have time for that.  And personally, I enjoyed that book more than the other.  “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.” was a fantastic British cookbook, but it wasn’t practical for what we were looking for.

So if you’re looking for a theme night for one of the Harry Potter Movies, or if you’re just wanting something fun to do, I highly recommend some of these crafts, snacks, and drinks.  And try out some Butterbeer even if you haven’t seen the movies.  It’s great!

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–Staci

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It’s Been Too Long – By M

I can’t even remember when we wrote our lost blog post, but I can imagine it was probably somewhere back in February about our son, Josiah, who is still healthy, kicking (like a baby ninja), and growing!  There have been so many great things going on for us, and we have stayed so busy that it has been hard to write, but I wanted to give everyone out there a quick update on what’s going on in the world of Michael Elizondo:

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– Staci is currently in week 29 of her pregnancy!  It’s so crazy that our baby boy is dues in less than 3 months!  Wow

– We spent Spring Break working in Josiah’s bedroom and it’s been so fun seeing it come together!  We’re so thankful for our parents who have done so much as we prepare for Josiah!  We also thank everyone who has already surprised us with little gifts here and there!

– I have to give props to my mom, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law for all the help they did for us as we got our flower beds done.  I don’t think I’ve moved more dirt and rocks in my life, but it feels rewarding and looks great!

– New Favorite Artist:  Zach Williams

– Staci and I just finished our 4th time watching the Harry Potter Movie Series all the way through… 4th time… does that makes us freaks?  oh well 🙂

– Cant wait til July!  3rd Batman comes out and it will be epic!

– We’re getting our first real neighbor (If you haven’t been tracking along, Staci and I had the awesome opportunity to build our house in a new subdivision.  Our closest right-side neighbors are a lot over and the closest left-side neighbors are 2 lots over, but now we will have an immediate neighbor on our left!)  Which is nice, because the loud part of the construction, if not all the construction should be done by the time Josiah gets here and that’s on his side of the house.  It does throw us off when we look out our back windows and see men walking around in the backyard next to us.

– Our son is coming so soon and we can’t wait!

– I am loving this NBA season.  Although I am still a little bitter about the lock-out (millionaires fighting over money *roll my eyes* is pretty ridiculous in my opinion) I am loving watching my Spurs dominate.  I’m holding out for Championship #5!  Let’s See it in June!

– Staci celebrated her birthday, and although we didn’t get to celebrate the way that we had hoped it was still a special day/weekend!

– Love our new toys, thanks to our Tax return!  New DSLR camera and HD Camcorder!  They’ll be perfect for documenting our little one and all the family events that we’ll be celebrating in the future!  (I know you nay-Sayers who disagree with getting a return, but it works for us, and it’s nice to get a little gift every spring… better than dreading tax day for sure)

– I hope Fox Renews Alcatraz for season 2!  That was a really good show!

– Speaking of good shows and Fox, Touch is absolutely incredible!  go to Hulu and watch now!  Oh and Once Upon a Time on ABC is good too, but Staci likes that more than me 🙂

– We will be parents in less than 3 months!  That is still so unbelievable to me!

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We hope that all is well with you, and hope to get some more posts up here regularly.  We know that it will be harder and harder once Josiah gets here, but we want to keep you all in the loop!

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Now that you know a little bit more about what’s going on in our world, how are things in your world?

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– M


Harry Potter Week

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, it goes without saying that the last movie is just around the corner!  You can watch a trailer HERE.

A lot of our students are huge HP fans, and when we came to our church they were in the middle of doing a Bible study called “The Gospel According to Harry Potter” on Wednesday nights.  (The study took clips or themes from HP books/movies and then taught about the themes using Scriptures.)  We took our students to see HP 7.1 last fall when it came out, and we had a great time.

Sometime between then and now, we had the idea to have a Harry Potter Week building up to the new movie this summer.  Well, that time has come!

The movie actually releases next Friday, but we’ll be at camp next week.  So we’re having HP week the following week.  Each night, we’ll watch one of the HP movies, and have a HP inspired snack and (optional) craft.  I’m super excited because:

  1. It’s Harry Potter
  2. I love cooking and doing crafts
  3. I love planning things

So in case you want to plan your own HP party, I thought I’d share our plans.  Almost all of the ideas came from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

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Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands
  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)
  • Drink:  Butter Beer (recipe found HERE…using #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own)

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties
  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties
  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Galleons (possibly Knuts and Sickles too)
  • Snack:  Acid Pops
  • Drink:  ??

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills
  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs
  • Drink:  ??

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears
  • Snack:  Treacle Tart
  • Drink:  Liquid Luck Potion

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff
  • Snack:  Rock Cakes (or if I’m low on time, Cockroach Clusters found HERE)
  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I’m still debating whether or not to do a craft and snack this day since we’re watching two movies…thoughts?

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I’m really excited about Harry Potter Week!  Any ideas we should add?

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–Staci

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**All Crafts taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book

**Pumpkin Pasties, Pumpkin Juice, Treacle Tarts, and Rock Cakes taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook“; All other Recipes (other than those noted in the plans) found in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book”


Quick Update – By M

Hello, All!

I wanted to take a quick moment to give you an update on our summer.  Hope yours has been going well.

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– I’m now officially in my mid-20’s (Thanks to everyone for all your birthday wishes!)

– The summer is half over!  …Or should I say “There’s still half the summer to go”?

– 2 Mission trips down!  Both really awesome!  Hopefully you caught my UM Army Update.. I didn’t get to write one for Big House, but it was great!

– Camp Coming up, and our trip to California for Youth 2011 (Can’t wait for that one!)

– Our house is coming along just swimmingly! (wow, did I really just say swimmingly?)

– Seriously though, our house is awesome!

– I conquered the Boogie Bahn at Schlitterbahn last week!  I’m so proud!  … more on that story once we get some pictures developed.

– I love water sports, I just wish I was about 6 years younger… I’m still sore from knee boarding and tubing earlier this week! (maybe I just need to get back into better shape)

– …Oh and I wish I owned a sea-doo

– I think this is the last time that Staci and I try to do vacation in the middle of the summer.  Way too busy!

Harry Potter week is also coming up with our students.  That’ll be fun.  I’m excited for the 7th movie part 2!

– Is it just me, or does Angry Birds make you more angry than the birds are?

– …At least nom-nom in Cut the Rope makes me smile!

– I think my brother cheats at Words with Friends.

– Summer is going by too fast

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I hope to be able to write another real post soon, but thanks for tuning in!

What are some awesome things that you have been up to this summer?  Is it going by as fast for you as it is for me?

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– M


Harry Potter Accomplishment – By M

Just a short post to say that I’m not a reader.  The only time I ever would read anything would be the comic strip in the Sunday paper, directions (yes, I am not too prideful a man to read directions), and what I was forced to read in school.

However, since marriage, Staci –as many of you know– is a HUGE (and I emphasize that word immensely) reader.  And she’s gotten me more turned on to reading.  It started by her getting me hooked onto Ted Dekker, whom we’ve mentioned in other posts (He is an awesome Christian Fiction writer).

Last fall, Staci and I decided to watch through the Harry Potter movie series, and I found them actually pretty enjoyable (Although, to be upfront, I couldn’t recommend them for anyone younger than 13 or 14 even with PG and PG-13 ratings).  Anyhow, Staci decided that she wanted to read through the series.  So we bought books 1-7 and Staci finished all 7 books between September and November when “The Deathly Hallows – Part 1” came out.  Staci convinced me to start reading the series.  I can’t exactly remember when I started, but I finished up book 7 just a couple of days ago.

I have to admit, the books are REALLY good (but would, once again, not recommend them to the younger people).   I know the books and movies have caught a lot of flack from the Christian community about wizardry and witch craft, but my opinion is that the books make it clear that there is good, and there is evil, and Love is the most powerful “magic” of all.  But a full review and argument for my case on the books/movies would probably be due in another post that I’ll probably never write….

So all that to say that I finished 7 books, which equalled 4,100 pages of mystical, magical mischief!  Only my fifth series of books to ever finish (Left Behind -LeHaye/Jenkins, Circle Series -Dekker, Paradise Novels -Dekker, The Lost Books -Dekker).  So… go me!

Any good books that you’ve read lately, or goals that you’ve accomplished?

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– M


Catching Up: Cousin and HP Weekend

I’m so behind on blogging — sooo sorry!  I’m home today since I’ve been working lots of crazy hours, and I want to try to get all caught up on the blog.  Sorry in advance for them all coming at once, but I know this is the only way I’ll get caught up.  🙂

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First of all, we went to Houston to visit my cousin, Paul, and his wife, Liz two weekends ago.  They helped us move in, but this was the first time that we were able to meet up after that.

Since we have Fridays off (we work on Sundays), we were able to relax and sleep in and then head over to Houston that afternoon.  Liz was leaving work when we arrived, so we visited with Paul until she came home.  And then we were given the grand tour!  Their house is adorable.  I should have taken pictures.  They live in a cute townhome, and everything is decorated so cute.  They also had all of the fall decorations out.

After we visited for a long time and ate dinner, we were ready to go to The Painted Potter to make Christmas Ornaments — or so we thought.  Liz realized that she left her wallet at work, so we made a quick detour to her school.  I’m glad it turned out this way because we were able to see her classroom!

I was really excited about going to the potter painting place because I hadn’t been to one since I was in elementary school (we made my dad father’s day gifts there one year).  Michael had never been and he kept telling people he was going to pottery class.  Hehe.  Friday and Saturday nights are “Date Night” and they give you a discount on the fire and paint fee.

It was such a cute place!  I could have spent hours and hours looking at all of the different options.  We knew we wanted to make ornaments, but even then there were so many to choose from!  Michael ended up picking a reindeer and I picked a snowman.

Next, we picked our glazes/paints.  There were SO many to choose from!  Then it was time to get busy painting.  You can get a glimpse of how many different colors there were to choose from in this picture:

We were all concentrating so hard!

The 3-D ornaments were harder than they look!  There were so many little details.  Paul and Liz made OSU orange & black snowmen.

Michael painted his reindeer brown (obviously) and my snowman had purple, blue, and green snow clothes. (By the way, they look completely different after they’ve been fired.)

We had such a great time!  It was so nice to be able to just sit and talk and be creative at the same time.  It’s been a long time since I’d done any artsy stuff (besides graphic design stuff, but I don’t count that), and I didn’t realize how much I missed it.  We knew we’d definitely be back!  (It took 6 days to get everything fired, by the way.  I haven’t taken a picture of the finished products yet, so I’ll add that in a later post.)

When we got back to Paul and Liz’s house, it was time to eat some snacks and play some games!  They’d told us that the games on the “Beauty and the Beast” blu-ray were SO much fun, so we decided to play them first.

The first game we played was a character guessing game.  We each used our phones to call in and get a character.

Then we used them to answer “yes” or “no” questions about our character and vote on who we think other players were.  It’s so crazy how interactive these games can be now!

After we played a couple of rounds of that (it was SO much fun, by the way!), we played the other game.  This one was incredible!  It’s like an interactive “Clue” type game.  Our mission is to find Belle’s missing friends.  You choose a room to visit and then pick a hiding place to uncover.  You could find a character, the Beast, a magic mirror, Gaston, or nothing at all.  In order to be able to look, you have to answer a trivia question right.  Most of them had something to do with a song from the movie.  Some of them were really hard!  We had a ton of fun playing!  If you have (or can rent) the “Beauty and the Beast” on blu-ray, I highly recommend playing the games!  Michael ended up winning the second game.   I was Player 2 — the one with no friends found.

Oh–and their dog, Dasher, was helping us play.

After that, we played Scategories (I think Liz won) and then sat around and talked until 2 a.m.!  It was SO good to be able to just talk.  We’ve missed having a married couple our age to hang out with.  And what makes it better is that they’re family too.  My brother and I have always been really close with Paul and his sister, Bethany.  I’m thankful that we live so close to Paul and Liz now.  Especially since all 4 of us are so far away from our families.  We had a GREAT time, and we’re excited to go back next week to go look at lights and go ice skating!

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The next morning, we slept in, had some breakfast, and then headed back to Beaumont so we could take the youth to see Part 1 of “Harry Potter 7“.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Michael and I watched all of the movies this summer (I’d only seen the first 3) and then I decided that I wanted to re-read the first 4 books and read 5-7 for the first time.  I made it my goal to have at least 1/2 of 7 read by the time the new movie came out.

Well, I made it!  I had a couple of chapters left in book 7, but I finished it that night after the movie.  So that means I’ve read 4,100 pages of Harry Potter in 3 months!!  And it was well-worth all 4,100 pages.  JK Rowling is a very gifted author, and I really, really enjoyed reading these books.  It’s funny how books mean so much more to me when I read them now.  There have been quite a few books that I’ve gone back and read over the past year or so and I think I can just appreciate them more now.

Anyway, all that to say I was really excited about HP7!  Michael was excited too.  We got there super early because we thought it was going to be really busy (we’d purchased the tickets early), but it wasn’t at all.  We were the second people in line, and we ended up having tons of time to kill.  We wasted time taking pictures and playing cards.

The movie was really good!!  We all really, really enjoyed it!  It wasn’t as good as the book, but they rarely are.  I wish they didn’t leave some things out, and they changed some things that I don’t think they should have changed, but other than that it was GREAT!  It just stinks that part 2 doesn’t come out until the summer.

It was a fantastic weekend!

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Now I just have to catch up on some more happenings….

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–Staci

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Q for you:  Have you ever painted at a pottery place?  And did you see HP7?

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Our Past Two Weeks, Part Two

I know it’s been another week since we’ve moved, but I’ll keep going with the “Part Two” thing…

And let me warn you: it’s a long post.  But feel free to just look at the pictures!

Saturday, October 2

We were supposed to sleep in, but that’s pretty much a non-existant thing for us now.  For some reason, I’m turning into my father and can’t sleep in to save my life.  At least we woke up rested!

Michael and I went to Target and Wal-Mart and came back with everything we need for our new guest bathroom (we’ve only had one bathroom up until now) plus lots of other goodies for our house.

Our families actually did get to sleep in, and they came over later that morning.  We got right to work unpacking boxes!  Let me just say that I have NO clue what we would have done without our moms and my sister — they helped SO much!

We ordered yummy pizza from a local Italian restaurant, and some people from our church brought dinner that night.  We were still just blown away by everyone’s welcoming-ness.

Michael’s parents headed back to their hotel (we’d be seeing them in the morning) and my family stuck around for a little while longer.  We snapped this picture before they had to leave.  (Side Note:  I am REALLY short.  I think I just re-realized that.)

All of “the girls” cried when they left.  It killed me that we wouldn’t see them for a long time since we’d gotten so used to seeing them at least a couple of times a month.  But I’m thankful for my husband who hugged me and let me cry.  He also reminded me something we’d been telling ourselves and each other over the past few weeks:

“At least we’re close enough to our friends and family that it’s tough to leave them.”  So true.

My mom called after a little while and by the time we got off the phone I was lots better.  It helped that we knew that this is where we’re supposed to be — and that our families and friends support us in our decision.

Sunday, October 3

We met Michael’s parents at church so we could go to the 8:00 service.  Let me say that I didn’t know that church could start that early.  It was tough to wake up early the first week, but by last week, we’d already adjusted.

Church was great, and we went down to join the church after the message.  Everyone was SOO friendly, and it was great to meet everyone on their way out of the sanctuary.

We made our way over to the youth center and met a TON of youth students and some parents.  It was a little overwhelming, but really good at the same time.

Michael’s parents had to leave about halfway through our first Sunday School hour.  I really wish that we would have taken a picture with Michael’s parents before they left!  Thankfully we’ll be able to see them for Thanksgiving.

We went to “meet the church” at the end of the second service, and then repeated everything during the third service/second SS hour.

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As soon as church was over, it was time to unload a SEMI full of pumpkins!  We ate a quick lunch at the church and then got to work.  A lot of the students from one of the schools in the town came to help so they could get service hours.  There were people everywhere!  It was great to see everyone working so hard to get the Pumpkin Patch all set up.

I just realized that I need to explain the Pumpkin Patch a little more.  Our church has been doing a Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser for 17 years now.  The pumpkins are grown on a Native American Farm in NM or NV or somewhere over there (I can’t remember), and then a place somewhere around NC or VA or somewhere puts them on trucks and sends them to people all over the USA.  We got one truck-load on the 3rd and we’ll get another this Sunday.

All of the proceeds (after costs) go to the youth for our summer mission trips!  They usually make enough to cover almost all of the mission trip costs.  It’s so great to see people of ALL ages coming together and making this fund-raiser possible.  The Patch is open every day, and people from the church volunteer to work it.  They also open it up in the mornings for day-schools and pre-schools to come for storytime and a little pumpkin.  It’s been adorable to watch the little kids come and look at all of the pumpkins!  There have also been tons of photo-ops.  One little girl (she was a year and a half old) was in a huge orange tutu, and it was just about the cutest thing ever.

But I’m getting ahead of myself….

On Sunday, we unloaded pumpkins for a few hours.  Since I can’t lift the big pumpkins, I helped the little kids put the baby pumpkins on flats.  One little girl kept finding all of the “cuties” and hiding them under the flat so they “wouldn’t get hurt if it rained”.

The grown-ups and big kids unloaded the truck.  They made huge lines all the way down the grass to pass the pumpkins.

Our pastor made sure I got one of him passing the pumpkins.  He and his wife are both hilarious!  The lady that is passing him the pumpkin is the one in charge of the Patch this year.  She’s done an amazing job!

There were rows and rows and ROWS of pumpkins!

And there were all kinds of different pumpkins too!

Normal Pumpkins and Fairytale Pumpkins:

Pumpkins with “warts”:

And even Acorn Pumpkins (I’d never seen anything like this before!):

We also have Swan Gourds and even White Pumpkins:

There were pumpkins EVERYWHERE!  We had a lot of fun helping unload and set everything up.  It was also a good time to get to know some of the youth students and other people from the church.  Even though it was a lot of hard work, we’re both looking forward to unloading another shipment in a couple of days.

After the pumpkins were unloaded, Michael and I borrowed our new friends’ truck to go to IKEA for a few things.  We went in search of a dresser for Michael, a pantry, a storage thing for our office, and an end table/place for our blankets to be stored.

That store is NUTS.  The first time I went, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even buy anything.  And there were still a few times that I was completely overwhelmed when we were trying to figure out all of the million pieces that we needed to buy for the pantry and storage thing.  But we eventually found everything we were looking for (or so we thought…) and headed home.

It was a LONG but good day.  There’s nothing like a million gazillion pumpkins to welcome you.

 

 

Monday, October 4

 

This day was a WHIRLWIND.  We went to Burger King at 6:30 to meet with some of the students from one of the high schools.  (They meet every week for CrossTalk — a time for the youth to come and get free breakfast and pray before school.)  Even though it was “an ungodly hour” (my words that morning), we were thankful to get to hang out with just a few kids and get to know them better.

We came home, tried to get a quick nap, and then headed to work.  Since we’re the youth leaders and the Pumpkin Patch is a youth missions fund raiser, we’re in charge of “opening” the patch every day and making sure everyone has everything they need to get started.  So we opened the patch and then came back home for the cable guy to set up our internet (yay!).

We headed back to the church to meet with the ladies that have been serving as interim youth directors.  Talk about information overload!  But it was good to be getting the info.  Then we went to lunch with Robert (our pastor), Pam (his wife/the children’s minister), Mark (the assoc. pastor) and Erin (his wife/the newsletter and supply closet coordinator).  All I can say is our calendars are now FULL.  We flipped from Nov to July to Sept to Feb to Oct and back (plus all of the other months) about a million times.  But it felt good to get some dates down and start to see what all was going to be coming up.  And we love both couples (and their families) already — they’re so great!

We went back to the office and met with Robert, where we got a TON of our questions answered (like schedules, youth work, office stuff, etc) and received a lot more information.  By the time we left, we felt like our brains were going to explode.  But in a good way, if that makes any sense.

That night, we put together Michael’s new dresser!  I felt like Bob and  Bobette Villa.

I told Michael to smile for the camera, but he said that real men don’t take pictures while they’re building.  And that’s why women aren’t allowed on the building site.

EXCUSE ME?!

He smiled.  Hehe.

I, on the other hand, was all ready to cheese it up and show off my mad building skills!

(Side Note: I just realized how “daintily” I hold the screw.  I guess I don’t have mad building skills after all.)

Anyway, after we put the dresser together, we Skyped with my family and gave them a tour of what we’d done since they left.  (Isn’t technology amazing?!)  And then it was off to bed.  We were pooped.

 

 

Tuesday, October 5

 

On Tuesday, we worked really hard in the office, trying to start getting the bookshelves organized, put dates in our calendars, figure out email and things, and all kinds of stuff.  It was busy, but we felt like we were finally accomplishing something tangible.

That night, I worked on unpacking some more boxes while Michael had a meeting to go to.  I started working on the guest room shelf unit thing and Michael worked on the pantry.  He got a lot done!  I got one of the parts put together and then I realized that we’d forgotten to buy two main things: the base and the top unit where the filing cabinet goes.  We had the filing cabinet mechanism, but no unit to put it in.  We’d have to wait to finish it until we went to Houston again.

 

 

Wednesday, October  6

 

Wednesday was another super busy day.  It started with CrossTalk at 7:00 for one of the other high school’s students.  There were a ot of kids who came, and it was good to get to know a few more of them in a smaller setting.

Even though I’m just part-time, I decided to go in to the office most of the time for the first week so that I could help get things organized and set up and everything.  And let me say now that we LOVE working together!  It’s so much fun to be able to work together on all of the ministry stuff and planning and just all of it.  We love that we can feel like we’re both truly involved, and we’re able to get paid to be a ministry team!  We’re so blessed.

Anyway…a little while after we got to work, I was asked if I could go to the Patch to help with storytime.  There were going to be little pre-school classes coming all morning long.  Of course I’d like to help!  I just love little kids, and watching them in the Patch was so much fun.

The kids were so cute as they listened to the story.  And afterwards, they were able to pick out a little pumpkin and put it in their goody-bag.

There were a lot of families and individuals out buying pumpkins as well.  I loved seeing how much fun everyone was having!

That afternoon, Michael was interviewed on the local news station!  They wanted to do a story on the Patch and let people know when they could come purchase pumpkins.  They also interviewed a lady who has made a tradition of coming from Louisiana to take her grandchildren every year.  (By the way, some people have told me that they’ve been coming since their kids were in elementary school, and they’re out of the house now.)

Michael did a great job!  It was fun watching him be interviewed (the segment was live, by the way).

Hehe — less than a week in Beaumont, and he’s already on the news!  Our children’s pastor, Pam, asked for his autograph.  I told her he would sign her bulletin.

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That night was our first Wednesday night with the youth.  For the rest of this month, the couple who has been teaching on Wednesday nights is going to continue their lessons.  They were supposed to teach last week, but we found out that the youth are in charge of “rolling” the pumpkins  so that they don’t rot as quickly.  We spent a long time rolling all of them (there are a ton!) and then the hay bales arrived, so we had to move them.  We also took all of the scarecrows from the contest and placed them around the Patch.  It turned out to be a really good thing, because we were able to just visit with the kids and get to know them a little more.

And then Michael had a major break-through with the guys.  He taught them how to play this game where you have to try to poke the other person while making sure they don’t poke you (think a big-scale “thumb war”).  And that’s all it takes with guys.  He’s automatically “in”.

It was a really good night, and we felt, once again, that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be.

 

 

 

Thursday, October 7

 

On Thursday, I went in to the office with Michael and we got through some more of the books and binders files.  Then after lunch, I stayed home and Michael went back to work.  It was SOOOO good to have some time to relax.  I read some more of my book (I’m still working my way through the Harry Potter Books — 1 – 4 again and now I’m on 5 for the first time) and took some time to get some house work done.  It had been such a busy week, and the break was greatly appreciated.

That night, we ordered pizza and watched “Matilda“!  It was one of my family’s favorites growing up, and Michael had never seen it.  We both really enjoyed it.

 

 

Friday, October 8

 

Friday was our day off.  And let me say that it is AMAZING to have the same days off!  In the past, we’ve always only had one day off that’s the same: Saturday.  Michael got another day in the week, but I was always at work.  We kept thinking it was Saturday all day.  It was great!

After Michael opened the Patch, we got ready and drove to Houston to buy our missing pieces at IKEA.  While we were there, we bought a few toys that we just couldn’t pass up (I’ll post pictures later…I haven’t taken any yet).  It’ll be nice when we have kids so we can have an excuse to buy kids’ toys and books.  We just act like we’re buying them for someone else and then add them to our kids’ area in our guest room/office for little kiddos to play with when they come to visit.

That night, we went to our first football game in Beaumont!  I was trying to remember the last time I’d gone to a football game, and I’m thinking it’s been about 6 years.  We sat with Robert and Pam and a lot of people from our church and just had a great time!  The people really are so, so friendly.  And it seems like they have a blast everywhere they go.

 

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This officially ends “Our Past Two Weeks” but I’ll go ahead and do a brief update on this past week as well — since I let a whole ‘nother week pass before I updated again!

 

 

Saturday, October 9

 

We worked around the house and finished putting together our pantry and office shelf thing.  And then we could empty a lot more boxes!  We also went grocery shopping at some point, but I can’t remember if it was this day or another.  We had a nice, low-key morning and afternoon.

That night, we went to see some of our new youth students before their homecoming dance.  We visited with the parents before “picture time”.  We’re really enjoying getting to know so many of the parents.  All of the kids looked great!

And then Michael and I went on our first date in Beaumont.  We had dinner at Pappadeaux (which was wonderful!) and then came home and relaxed.

It was a perfect way to end the week.

 

 

Sunday, October 10

 

We got up bright and early for the 8:00 service.  But by this time we were used to getting up even earlier than this for CrossTalk.  It’s funny how quickly your body can adjust to new times.

It was “Children’s Sabbath” which means the kiddos were in charge of the service, and Pam preached.  We really, really enjoyed it!  The kids were so cute.

Sunday Schools went well, and we opened up the Patch in the middle of the second SS, so we spent the rest of the time doing that.  Oh–and we bought some BEAUTIFUL olive tree things after the first service, but I haven’t taken pictures of those yet either.  They deserve their own post.

We went to lunch with Robert and Pam, and Mark and Erin, and their kids.  We had a great time!

That night, we were thrown a welcome party at the church.  We were able to meet a lot of the students and parents we hadn’t met yet, as well as visit with others.  It was SUCH a good time.  Once again, we were blown away by everyone’s welcoming attitudes and generosity.  We’re blessed.

 

 

Monday, October 11

 

My brother turned 21!  We called him on our way to CrossTalk to wish him happy birthday.  It’s weird that we’re all growing up.  The rest of the day went really well.  Some of our youth had a Boy Scouts Court of Honor Ceremony, and we were able to go to that.  It was really neat to hear about all of their Scouts stuff.  I hope our boys are able to be involved in Boy Scouts someday.

Oh — and before the Scouts Ceremony, we ate a really yummy meal.  In fact, Michael didn’t want to eat his food until I took a picture of it.  We’d bought pre-seasoned pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon at HEB.  And then I fixed mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans, and Michael made some bread.  It definitely hit the spot.  If you have an HEB near you, try this meat!

 

 

Tuesday, October 12

 

I actually stayed home on Tuesday and got a TON done around the house.  It felt so good to get so many more boxes unpacked and housework done.  Michael spent the day going through tons of computer files and contacting people and things like that.

That night, we went and ran errands.  We bought a Christmas present, some games that were on sale, and a map at Toys-R-Us.  (Oh — and we’d bought the Sunday Paper on Sunday so I could get some coupons, and we’d found GREAT deals!)  After that, we went to Hobby Lobby to get some 1/2 price fall decorations with our gift card.  Then we went to Wal-Mart to get bread since we don’t like HEB’s bread.  And then we finally made it to HEB for our grocery shopping.  Let me just say that we have been BANKING on the sales!  I’ll probably write a whole post about it later, but we’ve saved a lot of money over the past week.

We were also talking to my mom off and on the whole night.  Something super exciting was happening, and she was keeping me up-to-date.  It definitely deserves its own post though!

Since it literally took 4 hours to run all of those errands, we just got Papa John’s and brought it home.  We put in a good-ole episode of “Growing Pains” (Season 1) and then chatted with my brother.  It was a good day!

 

 

Wednesday, October 13

 

Wednesday started bright and early with CrossTalk.  It was revealed that I’m not the greatest morning person.  It’s not that I’m grumpy, I’m just not functioning at 100%.  I couldn’t hear anything, and I kept thinking that people were saying the craziest things.  Let’s just say I provided quite a bit of entertainment without trying to.

We got lots more done in the office and even had a chance to come home for a couple of hours before evening church. Church was good (except for the disgusting, rotting pumpkins — one of them were so nasty that it made one of our students throw up!) and we had a good time with the students again.

 

 

Thursday, October 14

 

Since it was Boss’s Day yesterday (actually, I think its tomorrow, but we celebrated yesterday), I stayed home to make some brownies in the morning.  I went in a couple of hours late (but not for me since I’m part time!  Woo-hoo!) and got to work on the bookshelves again.  We had a wonderful Boss’s Day lunch with yummy food and LOTS of laughs.  And then I went out to check on Michael at the Patch (he was helping for a few hours).  We worked in our office and did some more work, and then it was time to come home.

We ate a snack and then headed to a JV football game to watch some of our students.  We sat with the parents again and had a really good time.  We all went to eat afterwards at the new restaurant in the town (it’s a little bitty community outside of Beaumont).  The burgers were good but we waited a really long time for the boys to get their food.

When we came home, Michael and I decided to play one of our new games: Scrabble!

Michael won — 272 to 214!  But we were both happy because we both scored “Expert” (over 200 pts for 2 players)!

It was a great way to end another busy, but great week!

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–Staci

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Woo-Hoo! Harry’s Here!

For the past two weeks, I’ve been called “Calvin” more times that I can count.  On the 4th, Michael used a Calvin and Hobbes comic to go along with his message for the youth.  I’ve looked all over the internet, but I can’t find it.

Basically, Calvin sees that you can get a beanie if you mail in 6 proofs of purchase.  After he mails them in, all he can think about is getting his beanie in the mail.  EVERY day he comes in and asks if his beanie came yet.  He talks to Hobbes about his beanie while they’re trying to go to sleep, and it’s all he thinks about at school.  Finally, after weeks and weeks of waiting, he comes home from school and says, “I bet my beanie didn’t come in.”  But that was the day it arrived!  After he nearly failed trying to assemble it, he realized that it didn’t make him fly and was therefore worthless–but at least it came in a great cardboard box!

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ANYWAY, so what does that have to do with me?  I ordered some books from Amazon on the 3rd and they shipped on the 5th–WITH NO TRACKING INFORMATION (how am I supposed to check the status multiple times a day?!)!  Every single day since then, one of the first things I say when I get home from work is “Did my books come in today?”  And every single day I’ve gotten a “no”.

Today I’d decided that the mail was probably coming via BICYCLE from San Fransisco.  That’s the only way I could justify it taking over two weeks to come in.

BUT…when I went to check the mail after my lunch break, IT WAS THERE!

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You’re probably wondering what book could get me this worked up…  But I’m gonna have to be honest:  ANY book that I order will get me this worked up.  I’m a nerd.  And I think it also has to do with getting a package in the mail.  Who doesn’t like that?  Plus, I’d like to act like I’m a super patient person, but anyone that knows me will tell you that I’m not.  At all.  I try to be, but I’m not.

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So what were the books?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

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And now for the back-story:

At one point, I owned the first four books.  Then I decided that I’d jump on the bandwagon and get rid of them.  I watched the first three movies when I went on a movie binge before the Forge (I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch TV or movies for the 9 months I was there so I watched a TON during the weeks leading up to the program), and I really liked them.  But by the time I completed the Forge, I’d forgotten that I wanted to watch the other ones that were out.  Michael and I decided to rent the first one last month, and within a few weeks we’d gotten all caught up.  We both REALLY liked them, but it made me want to read the books again.  Books just add so much more detail and they’re usually better (A Walk to Remember is my only exception so far).  So I decided to buy the books and read them again.  Oh–and by the way, I got each of them for $4 a piece–including shipping!

Needless to say, I’m really excited that they’re finally here, and I can’t wait to start reading them again!  I might even talk Michael into reading them.  But I’m not holding my breath on that one.

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–Staci

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Q for you:  Have you read the HP books or seen the movies?  What are your thoughts on them?  What was the last thing you couldn’t wait to get in the mail?

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And I feel like I should have a disclaimer:  While we really enjoyed the movies and I’m excited to read the books, I don’t plan on encouraging kids to read/watch them.  Some of it does get to be too much for kids (especially #4).  That being said, I don’t feel like they’re any darker than some of Dekker’s books (esp books like “Boneman’s Daughters”), and the movies weren’t as creepy as “The Lord of the Rings” movies.  But that’s SOLELY my opinion.  If your kids have read them and you’re ok with it, great!  If you choose to not read/watch them, great.  These are just my thoughts.  🙂

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