Tag Archives: travel

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?


Catalyst Conference

We had the amazing opportunity to go to the Catalyst Conference in Dallas almost two weeks ago.  We’re so thankful that our church supports us like they do, and that they encourage us to attend conferences like this.  It was an incredible conference!  I (Staci) have been to multiple conferences, including Catalyst in Atlanta in 2007, and this was by far the best conference I’ve ever been to.

According to the website, “Catalyst and the annual Conferences provide a wide cover for addressing a variety of topics specific to Next Generation Leaders, including organizational leadership, personal leadership, integrity, character, relationships, and teamwork, among others.”  The conference was full of great speakers, music, entertainment, games, networking, and a call to action.  We participated in the “Labs” on Wednesday, and then went to the main conference on Thursday and Friday.  It was SO great!

This year’s theme was “Take Courage”, and it focused on stepping out and actually doing what God has called us to do as individuals and the Church.  If God has called us to something, He can give us the courage to do it.

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We learned so much, and we want to be able to pass some of this on to you all (and REALLY encourage you to try to make it to Catalyst next year!).  We could go on and on and on and still not cover everything that happened at the conference/everything that we loved about Catalyst.  But don’t worry…we won’t go into all of it in one setting.

Today, we want to summarize a few things that each of us took from the conference.  And then over the next few months, we’ll share some of our notes with you and go into more detail about what we feel like God spoke to us/what really stood out during each session.

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Michael:

  • It’s always a good reminder to hear that church isn’t a numbers game.  It’s easy to get caught up in how many people we have in attendance on a given Sunday or Wednesday rather than focusing on the ministry that is being done each week.
  • Everybody has a starting point.  This is something I learned in college, but God still teaches me each day.  God has a path for me and he expects me to do the little things right each day before he trusts me with more (Kind of like the Parable of the Talents)
  • I think a lot of times most people want so badly to be the next Francis Chan, Chris Tomlin, Andy Stanley, David Crowder, etc.  I was reminded again this week that God has created me to be me, and to do what he wants me to do.  Whether I’m in a big church or a small church or whtether I’m famous or not, I remember that I am doing God’s work, and he will make me who he wants me to be.

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Staci:

  • In think the thing that hit me the most (which is something God has been slowly making me aware of since January) is that we’re trying to do too much of this on our own.  One thing that was asked was “If the Holy Spirit wasn’t involved in your ministry, would you even realize it?”  We can plan and have all of these great programs, but if God/the Holy Spirit isn’t in it, then it’s all for nothing.  I realized that we can do a lot of “ministry” without ever doing true ministry at all.  And I don’t want that to be characteristic of us.  I want to MAKE SURE that God is in everything we do–that we’re doing what HE tells us to do instead of just making plans on our own.
  • I absolutely loved being surrounded by so many Christian leaders–both on the stage and in the seats.  It was so encouraging to see so many people serving and worshiping Jesus.  It also made me miss being around people my age, with similar worldviews.  So I tried to soak it in as much as possible.
  • One thing that probably had a lot to do with it being my favorite conference was being there with Michael.  It was great to just be together and experience everything with each other.  It’s hard to go to a conference or hear/see something and then fill the other person in later.  It’s just not the same.  So having this shared experience brought us even closer.
  • I finally came to grips with the fact that I’m a “dreamer” more than a “doer”.  I have about a million and five ideas bouncing around in my head, and I’m passionate about every single one of them.  But I don’t always have the greatest follow-through or the most realistic expectations.  That’s one of the reasons Michael and I work well together.  I dream and then he brings me back down from the clouds so we can discuss whether or not this could actually happen and how.  But I still need to work on not getting passionately offended if all of my ideas aren’t greeted with as much enthusiasm as I think they deserve.  : )
  • I left with a great sense of urgency to make a difference in the world.  And to help others be inspired to do the same.  We heard from some different ministries that are responding to the call to help the hurting, broken, and poor of the world.  And I was convicted and encouraged that we need to do even more than we are.  We have LOVED sponsoring our Compassion International children over this past year +.  But it’s not enough.  We’ve been given an amazing opportunity to love on people and truly make a difference, and I’m going to take it.  I’ve been praying a lot about how to communicate this urgent opportunity to others.

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We could go on and on and on and on about all that we got out of the conference and what God did in us during it.  But we’ll leave you with this for now.  Keep your eyes open for more Catalyst posts.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy remembering and writing about them.

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Have you been to any outstanding conferences?  What’s something you’ve been learning lately?

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–Staci and Michael

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Quick Update – By M

Staci and I just got back from Catalyst Dallas.  If your not familiar with Catalyst you can check it out Here. So there’s a lot to be updated on… So I’ll list some things out and we’ll probably address most of them in upcoming Blogs and such!  We just have SO much to share!

1.) Catalyst is an incredible Christian Leadership conference.  Check it out and try to go sometime.  It will blow you away!

2.) I totally pulled the star-struck card like a million times this week while at Catalyst.  Too many awesome Christian leaders and entertainers!

3.) Talked with Jon Acuff – Blogger/Writer/SCL, Carlos Whitaker – Blogger/Musician, Tyler Stanton and Tripp Crosby – Bloggers/Comedians, Craig Groeschel – Pastor/Writer, Pete Wilson – Pastor/Blogger/Writer, and many more!  That was exciting!  And it’s so awesome when you see how down to earth all these men are.

4.) Heard from some incredible Speakers

5.) Listened to awesome live music

6.) Spent some incredible awesome quality time with my wonderful wife!

7.) Another really cool part about the conference was running into some friends we expected to see, as well as some that we did not expect to see.  (Including my 5th/6th grade Sunday school teacher, and my youth group worship leader)

Ok… Now Non-Catalyst events:

1.) Saw some friends at Staci’s Forge Reunion

2.) Had some awesome friends come into town

3.) Went to the beach!  And I poked a Jellyfish! (I know… way too easily entertained)

4.) Baked a-bajillion cookies/cupcakes/brownies/and tons more in the last two weekends. I think I’ve decided to start my own cooking show!

5.) Saw our home’s foundation that was poured while we were away!  Frame goes up next week 🙂

6.) Had my first meal at a Rainforest Cafe.  A little underwhelming, but still good

7.) And I’m sure lots of other things, but I want to try to keep this at least somewhat brief!  Hope to have more up soon!

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What have you been up to these last few weeks?  Who has ever left you star-struck?

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-M


Skydiving!

As most of you know, we went skydiving on April 1.  And it was AMAZING!  We’re going to write this post together to tell you all about our experience.

Staci will be in normal text.

And Michael will be in italics.

So get ready for the jump of our lives!

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I’ve always wanted to go sky diving.  As you can see, it’s on My List.  Michael knew this, and he found an awesome deal for skydiving in Houston and gave it to me for Christmas.

We’ve been waiting since January to “cash it in”.  April 1 was the first time that the weather was supposed to be great and we were planning to be in town.  So we called and set up our appointment, and then drove to Houston!

(Oh. ps… that “Space Jam” picture was supposed to be about us watching that movie because of “Air Jordan” and it was one of Staci’s childhood favorites.  He planned a whole “air” themed day for my present.)

We drove out to Eagle Lake, TX where Skydive Houston is located (not actually in Houston).  We weren’t hungry until we got to the little town.  Sadly there was nowhere to eat except a gas station.  That was gross!  

And it turned out to be a mistake to jump on a semi-empty stomach.  But more on that later. 

As we got closer to the air strip, this is what we saw:

We were almost there!!  Oh–and we were also so excited about skydiving that we didn’t sleep much the night before.

But even amidst the excitement, we decided to call all of our immediate family to tell them we loved them one last time (just in case).   🙂

Yeah, he just said “amidst”.

yes, I am smarter than the average bear!!!!  —-  *cough* Mean *cough*

ANYway…

We finished eating our disgusting gas station food and watched some skydivers land.  We couldn’t believe we were actually about to jump out of an airplane!

AAAAhhhh!

Of course, by saying “about to Jump out of an airplane” she really means that we had to wait like a million years before we got to do it.  First we signed in and signed our life away (literally) and then we watched a video about skydiving narrated by this awesome guy   🙂

He’s not kidding about any of that.  Yes, we signed our lives away–neither we nor our families could sue if we were injured or died due to anything…including blatant negligence.  Yes, we waited a million years (more on that later).  And yes, we watched this guy explain all about the risks and excitement of skydiving.  It was priceless.

– Hey Guy!  Gandalf called… he wants his beard back! –  Oh, and I’d love to see his facial hair flying everywhere as he fell back down to earth from a plane!

After we watched the video, we were told to just sit and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

While we were waiting, we got to watch the instructors getting the parachutes all ready to jump again.  I would NOT want to be liable for putting them up the right way.

We amused ourselves with taking pictures…

Reading…and laughing at this awesome sign that was next to us:

Hehe.

We need that for our neighborhood, by the way.

We finally found out the reason we had to wait so long was that they wait for a lot of people to come, get the parachutes all ready, and then divide everyone into groups so they can do one jump after another.  They want to keep the plane running constantly (getting groups, taking them up, coming back down for the next) so they save gas and time.  So some instructors (like Michael’s) did 3 jumps in a row!  Oh–and a little side note–sometimes they each do over 20 jumps in a day when they’re busy!!

While we were sitting and waiting, one of the instructors came up and started talking with us about jumping.  He answered some of our questions and showed us how we’ll jump and everything.  He said that he’s been jumping for 20 years and he’s jumped 1052 times!

Later I found out that he was going to be my instructor, and I was his 1054th jump!

We got all suited up, and then got ready to head to the plane.

So we were in group 5, I think, so when they finally got around to us we walked out to the runway and then got all geared up to get on the plane. 

The plane is pretty small; it only holds about 22 people.  Our group was only 9 – 3 jumpers, 3 instructors, and 3 videographer/photographers. 

We decided that since this was probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, we wanted to splurge and each get the photo/video package.  So we had our own personal photo/video person jumping with us too!  They had these awesome helmets that held their photo gear, and they blew in a mouthpiece to take the pictures.

After waiting for so long, the initial excitement we felt when we first arrived had kind of started to wear off at this point.  But as we made our way to the plane it all became more real and the adrenaline started pumping again.  

Can you tell I was just a little excited?!

It’s funny, but I really wasn’t nervous as we flew higher and higher.  I kept on thinking that I would start to freak out (heart pumping, sweating, all that good stuff), but I didn’t.  I was just so excited that it was finally here!  It seemed surreal.

Yeah, I agree… I thought I’d be way nervous, but I wasn’t at all.  I was just ready to jump out.

Of course, then the awkward moment came when we had to sit on our instructors laps so that they could strap us onto them tandem-style.  It was even weirder cause I think I was probably a little bigger than my instructor.  I hope I didn’t break his legs.  

It was pretty funny looking across the airplane and seeing my husband sitting on a dude’s lap who’s around our age.  My instructor was at least 40 and bigger than me, so it wasn’t quite as weird.  Except for the fact that my feet could no longer touch the ground…

Then my instructor started pushing me around and I didn’t know what he wanted.  Then I finally realized that he wanted me to lean over and give Staci a kiss for the camera… they laughed and made fun of me for being so difficult!  But I was just so nervous to do the wrong thing and I didn’t know what he wanted… and it was hard to move around strapped to another dude and all, anyway…

I must say, it took lots of effort on our instructors’ part to get us close enough for this one last kiss before we jumped.  It was definitely worth it though!

Yeah, Just in case  *wink*

As you can see, someone’s about to jump in that last picture.  The other guy went with his photographer and instructor, and then it was my turn!  My photographer hung outside of the plane, holding on to a bar, so he could still film me, and then my instructor and I waddled over to the door.  He reminded me to put my toes on the edge, put my head back, and told me to kick him in the rear when we jumped.

And then it was “One, two, three, jump!”

I honestly didn’t even have time to get nervous.  We were out of that door and flying through the air before I could blink!  I couldn’t believe it–I just jumped out of an airplane!!

That first drop was just surreal.  I still don’t think it really hit me that I’d just jumped out of an airplane.  I have no clue why I wasn’t freaking out.  I mean, I absolutely love the rides where you ride up to the top and then fall down (Superman at Six Flags over TX), but my stomach is doing back-flips while I’m waiting to drop.  But this was completely different.  There was no fear.  I trusted my instructor so much (I mean, come on–he’s jumped over 1,000 times!) and I had been waiting for this for so long that I was just ready.

Then after she went… it was my turn!  So my instructor and I waddled to the exit, and all I can remember was at one second Staci was there safe and sound, then before I knew it she disappeared under the plane as she fell.  It was a pretty weird feeling to watch that; I don’t know that I can describe it, but I know I felt like, “Oh my gosh, she’s gone… and I’m next!”  So before I knew my instructor was yelling “Ready, and, GO!” and we were out the window flying through the air!

ps… I’m really not trying to sound macho, but this picture makes me look way more scared than I felt.  Especially, cause like Staci, there really isn’t much time for you to even think about it.  You just go.

I don’t really know what I expected, but this wasn’t it.  I think I thought I might feel like a graceful bird or something.  But it was actually pretty harsh.  I was falling through the air.  Literally.

But at the same time, it was one of the neatest things I’ve ever experienced.  I was falling through the air.  Literally.  🙂

by the way, they tell you to keep your head up (it has to do with aerodynamics, I think) and I got in trouble –

Hehe

The initial fall was incredible!  It was really exhilarating – not frightening at all.  However, like Staci said above, I had always imagined it to be a peaceful fall.  Well, its not.  It’s actually pretty turbulent!  The wind’s rushing by, the air’s thin which makes it hard to breathe, my mouth dried out worse than it ever has, and, as I describe later, motion sickness started to set in.  But it was definitely the most incredible second most incredible feeling I’ve ever experienced (Marriage is number one)!

(And yes, I know my cheeks are flabby – yours would do the same thing)

Mine didn’t.  Haha.

Since I didn’t look down (I follow the rules…*ahem*), I didn’t see what it looked like below.  But my photograper got an awesome shot of us!

One of the things that my instructor told me was that I needed to focus on breathing when we jumped (he’s also a yoga instructor so we practiced breathing. Hehe.).  I didn’t really know why this was important until I’d been falling for a few seconds.  And then I felt like I couldn’t breathe to save my life.  I was giving myself slightly panicked pep-talks: “Breathe. In. Breathe. Out. Breathe!!”  You can start to see how hard it was for me to breathe here:

Then the motion sickness started to set in a little (I mean “hello?” I only dropped like 7 THOUSAND feet it less than a minute).  You can kind of see the discomfort in my face in this picture.

Kind of?!  You look like you’re dying.

Thankfully, I didn’t suffocate up there, and before I knew it, my instructor was pulling the parachute–which opened just fine, thank you very much. (That’s always the part that people worry about.)

And then as soon as it started and as breath-taking as it was, they pulled the parachute and the free-fall was all over!

It really looks more painful than it is.  I honestly didn’t even really notice when he pulled it other than we were going a lot slower.  (I kind of let my body go limp, so I didn’t strain anything with the tug of the parachute, which is why I look like a dying eagle!)

I agree.  It looks painful, but it isn’t at all.  Even though I really liked the first part of the fall, I was so ready to be able to breathe by this last part.  Being upright was a welcome relief.  Oh–and I also agree that he looks like a dying eagle in that pic.  🙂

Thanks.  It hit me that the “worst”, as some may see it, was over.  Everyone always worries that the ‘chute won’t open, but it hit me that mine had and we were safe.  So at that point I just enjoyed the ride as we floated to the ground for the next 7 minutes.  I even got to steer the parachute a little bit before we got to the ground.

I absolutely LOVED the parachute ride!  I liked being able to look out and see all of the “patchwork” of creation and see the little town slowly come into view.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  And since I was upright and could breathe (oh–and my instructor loosened my chest harness to make breathing easier and unhooked our hips), I could just take it all in.  I kept saying “Oh my gosh.  It’s so pretty!  This is amazing!” over and over.

I think my favorite thing was when my instructor pointed out Michael a little ways away.  We got closer to each other, and it was just SO neat to be able to see him parachuting, knowing that we both just jumped out of airplanes.  Since we do almost everything together now, it was a little weird not being right together when we jumped.  So it was that much more special to be able to see him in the sky.  “Hi, Honey!”

Yeah, since I’m heavier and fell like a rock (seriously, we jumped like 30 seconds apart, I only free-fell for about 45 seconds compared to her minute-or-so, and yet I still caught up to her when we were under the parachute).  I agree that that was my favorite moment.  It was so cool to realize that we were together 1000s of feet in the air, taking it all in.  It was really special and really cool.

As we parachuted, my instructor asked if I liked roller coasters.  I made a mistake in saying yes.  He spun us around in circles (I do NOT do well on spinney rides) and then changed directions and spun again.  It probably wasn’t much spinning at all, but by the time we got closer to the ground I was feeling REALLY sick.  I was scared that I was going to lose what little lunch I ate, and I warned my instructor that I wasn’t feeling so hot.  But thankfully that didn’t happen!

He reminded me to focus on my breathing, and before I knew it, we were heading towards the field to land.

It was SOO amazing.  Even despite not being able to breathe for a little bit and the motion sickness, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.  It was amazing to know that I was in the air and just looking out at all of God’s creation without being behind an airplane window.  I was actually out in the open!

My landing experience was pretty similar.  Luckily, my instructor didn’t spin me around a ton, but I did start feeling pretty sick near the end.  I even mentioned to him that I didn’t feel so hot.  But we landed (which wasn’t difficult or painful), and the ride was all over.  It was so awesome, but I will admit that when I got my feet back on the ground, I thought to myself “This is it?”  Not that it wasn’t incredible or anything, but only that it was all so quick–especially after making the drive out there and then waiting for almost 3 hours until the jump.  I loved it, though.  It was totally worth it!

After we landed, my videographer interviewed me post-jump, and then I got one more picture with my incredible instructor.  I’m so thankful that I was paired up with him–it was a great jump!

You can see Michael walking from across the field.  We made it!  You can bet that big hugs were in store.  And after we got some water and tried to get some color back into our faces, we started talking about how incredible our jumps were.

As Staci said, and as you probably could have guessed on your own,  I made it!  One of the guys that worked there told us before we jumped to be careful or we’ll get hooked.  Now I see why.  Even though I got a little queasy during the ride, it was incredible and if it wasn’t for it being so expensive I would do it again in a heartbeat!  Maybe sometime later on down the road I’ll get the chance to do it again.  But I know that if I do, it will never be like the first time!

I felt pretty sick for about 4 hours after we jumped, but I know most of it was due to me not eating a good lunch beforehand.  So if I ever jump again, I’ll eat a healthy meal, drink TONS of water, and put on chapstick right before we jump.

But honestly, it was one of he most awesome experiences.  I’m still a little shocked that we actually did it.  There was nothing like looking down and seeing all of the tiny little houses and know that I was in the open air!  I would highly recommend it!

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So that’s our little skydiving adventure.  We hope you enjoyed it!

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Q for you:  So have you ever skydived?  Would you?  What’s one thing on your “list”?

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–Staci AND Michael

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Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr…

This post is just what the title looks like:

January, February, March and April.

It’s a time for us to try to catch up and fill you all in on everything that’s been going on.  Sorry that we’ve been such the blog-neglectors.  It seems like we blinked a few times and we’ve already jumped from January to April!  But here’s a quick snapshot of what our past few months have looked like.

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January

As you all know, we spent New Year’s Eve and Day on the road after our snow skiing trip.

The next week, I got sick.  My friend Sarah came to spend the weekend with us, and she was also sick…so we got to chill out and watch movies all weekend.

Michael also tried his hand at cutting my hair–and he did a really good job!

My Meme and Pawpaw celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in January!  They are truly two of the most incredible people I know, and I’m so blessed to have them as grandparents.  They decided to make a trip down to Beaumont to visit us as part of their Anniversary celebration, and we LOVED having them here!  We played lots of games, visited, showed them our church, and just had a great time.

That next weekend, we took our students to “Hot Hearts Conference”.  There were lots of great bands and Clayton King did an excellent job speaking.  Our students really enjoyed it, and God really did a lot in their lives over the weekend.

The last weekend of January, Michael went on a Men’s Emmaus Walk.  The Walk to Emmaus is a 4 day spiritual journey.  They have them all over the world, and our church is really involved in the ministry.  Michael was able to go to one in January, and I went in February.  He had an incredible weekend, but he came home with the flu (for the first time ever).

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Febraury

February started with another Miche Bag Party.  (I’m SO thankful with how well my Miche Business is doing down here, by the way!  I’ve had multiple parties each month since the start of the year, and they’ve been a lot of fun!)

A couple of weeks later, we were able to go to Ada and visit friends and family!  It was SOO good to be back and see everyone.  Thursday, we spent some time with my Meme and Pawpaw (we stayed the whole weekend with them) and then met up with our friends from the BSU (not all pictured).  We miss them like CRAZY, but they’re coming to visit in May!

We didn’t take many pictures throughout the weekend, but we also got to spend time with my parents and little sister, my family’s best friends, my cousin and her family, and we even got to stop by and visit our youth at our old church!  We pulled up to the high school at lunch time, and kids started running out.  It almost made me cry.  It was SO good to see them!  I just have to add this next picture of my cousin’s little boy.  He’s grown a TON since we moved!  He’ll be a year old at the end of April. Look at those big brown eyes!

The next weekend, which was the last weekend of February, I went on my Emmaus Walk.  I could go on and on and on about how awesome this ministry is!  Check out their website to get information about a Walk in your area.  God did a lot in me during the weekend, and it was so incredible to see what He was doing in all of the women there.  I’m sure I’ll share more about my story in a future post.  It was great.

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March

The first weekend of March, we drove to Dallas for my Annual Miche Bag Representative Conference.  Last year was the first conference, and I had to go by myself (well, with other reps from my area) since it was on a Saturday/Sunday.  But this year was only a Saturday, so Michael got to go with me!  I’m so, so thankful for Michael helping me with all of my purse stuff.  He helps me lug my merchandise to all of the parties, set up the displays, figure out the accounting, and just support me in all of it.  I honestly couldn’t do it without my Miche Man.  🙂

The conference was great!  My favorite part (as always) was the merchandise preview.  There are some GREAT new products and shells coming out this year!  Oh–and I loved the HOPE campaign video and talk.  Miche has given over $700,000 to cancer research and treatment over the past year.  I love being able to be a part of this!

The next weekend, we were back on the road to go to my brother’s wedding!  It’s still crazy to think that he’s an old married man!  The wedding was near Sherman, TX, so we had a good 6 hour drive.  But it was definitely worth it.  A lot of my family is from out-of-town, so my mom and dad rented a ranch house on the same property as the wedding.  It was so much fun all staying in the same place.

The rehearsal went well, save my husband and father being goofs.  Here they were “looking for the bride”.

On the day of the wedding, I went over and fixed my sister’s hair and took some pics of “the girls” getting ready and then came back over and hung out at the pre-wedding family reunion.  Here I am with my handsome husband before we headed down to the gazebo.  The wind was already doing wonders on my hair.

The wedding was beautiful.  The weather was wonderful–much warmer than a typical March day, Marcos and Maddison were so happy, and it was all just really, really good.  I’m proud of my Bud and his new little wife.

My little sister, Emily, came home with us after the wedding.  She was on Spring Break, and my parents took a train trip from Washington (state) to Chicago for their 25th wedding anniversary, so she got to spend the whole week with us in Bmt!  We played games, watched movies, laid out by the pool, and went to the beach.  It was a great week!  Michael and I loved having Em here with us!

It was so windy at the beach that we had to use the car as a wind-block.  But after that, it was really nice!

The next weekend, we took a group of our youth and some parents up to Pine Cove to do a work crew weekend.  I know I’ve probably said this a million times, but going to Pine Cove is like going home for me.  It is SUCH a huge part of my life.  I just love it there.  Our group did an amazing job, and we had a great weekend.  We were at the Shores Camp, which is on the lake, and it was gorgeous.

When we picked this weekend to take our students to PC, we had no clue that my mom and sister were going to be there for a mother/daughter retreat.  When we found out, I was even more excited about the weekend.  I started going to mother/daughter retreats at PC with my mom when I was in 3rd grade, and I went until I graduated high school.  So it was extra-special to see my mom and sister throughout the weekend.

At the end of the weekend, I went back to Oklahoma to spend a few days with my family.  It was sad to leave Michael behind, but I’m so thankful I was able to spend that time with my family!  My sister had a minor surgery on Wednesday, so we wanted to have a ton of fun Monday and Tuesday before she’d be sent to bed.  We went to the movies and played games and went shopping and all kinds of stuff.  It was great!  She is SUCH a brave young lady.  I was so proud of her before, during, and after her surgery.

I flew back to Houston on Thursday, and it was SOOO good to see my husband again!  We had a nice, relaxing weekend and just enjoyed being at home for a change.

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April

On April 1, we finally got a chance to use my Christmas gift: SKYDIVING!!!  We’ll do a full-post soon, but here are a few teaser shots.  It was incredible!

After our skydiving adventure, we went to Paul (my cousin) and Liz’s house and had a great time with them (as always!).  We had a camp meeting the next morning, and then we met back up with them and helped move my cousin Bethany in.  Bethany and I have been trying to live close to each other for years and years, and we’re finally only 1.5 hrs away.

Last weekend was my birthday, and Michael planned a wonderful trip to Houston for us to celebrate.  I’ll do a whole post for it as well, but here are a few pics:

We had a great time!  We came back home Friday night and on Saturday (my actual bday), we just chilled out at the house for most of the day.  It was a fantastic bday weekend!

We were supposed to have a district-wide lock-in at our church this weekend, but it has to be postponed, so we actually have a free weekend!  And then next weekend we’re headed off to TN for Michael’s brother’s wedding, and the next weekend, we’re going back to Pine Cove for my Forge Reunion.  It’ll be busy, but good!

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So that’s pretty much what we’ve been up to for the past few months.  Whew.  I got tired just remembering it all.  🙂  Sprinkle in youth activities and school lunches and work and running and all kinds of good stuff like that, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve been a little busy!  But it’s been a good busy.  We’re so thankful to be here, and we know that God has us exactly where He wants us.  It’s a pretty common thing for one of us to say “I like our little life down here” to the other.  It’s definitely a good fit.

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Thank you SOOOO much for being so patient with us.  We love being able to write about our lives and share it with you all.  Much love!

–Staci

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Q for you:  So what have been some of the highlights of your last four months?

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Ski Trip 2010: Skiing & Snow

We woke up well before our alarm went off (we tend to do that on the first day of vacation).  It was time to put on 1.2 million layers and head to the slopes!

Um, not exactly the ski mask I had in mind.  The kids might have nightmares.

As you can see, the snow was mostly fake.  This is what the parking lot looked like:

Can you tell we’re excited?!  Some of the cousins getting ready to hit the slopes:

Notice the orange bandanas?  My cousins came up with the idea.  They were SUCH a great thing for our group!  We had 19 skiers/boarders, and it really helped us be able to spot each other on the slopes.

Before long, it was time for Michael to get on his skis for the first time!

My sister, future sister-in-law, and 3 cousins participated in “Snowboard School de Marcos” (my brother).

They spent most of the day like this:

Michael did so great on the bunny slope and the next-step-up-slope (whatever it’s really called) that we decided we were ready for the top of the mountain.  Keep in mind that we’d only done the step-up one twice before we headed to the big lift.

The view was gorgeous!

See that Green called “Easy Way Down”?  And see all of the grass showing through?  YEP.  It was closed.  Great.

That meant we had to take the Blue down.  And it wasn’t just any blue.  No, it was a Blue-Plus.  Which means it’s on it’s way to being a Black.  Joy.

We thought we were going to die.  I felt so bad for my dad and uncle.  I don’t think two people could take longer to get down the mountain than we did.  As Michael said, “I had no clue it’d be this hard.”

But we did end up making it down in one piece, even though Michael’s ski kept popping off whenever he’d turn.  Here’s a pic that makes him look like shows that he’s a pro.

When we finally made it down, we vowed that we’d stick to the easy lift and/or get off at the 1/2 way mark for at least the rest of that day.  After that, we had a LOT more fun.  We weren’t afraid for our lives.

We even took a couple of runs with the Boarders.  See the little town down there?  It was so cute!

That night, we all ate together and then some of the adults played “In a Pickle”.  If you’ve never played this, it’s hilarious.  I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t breathe.

It had been a great first day–even with the first run mix-up!

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The next day, we felt much more confident and we had a great time skiing at our own pace and enjoying just being on the slopes.

It was SO much colder than it had been the day before, so we decided to take a break with my cousin, N, and get some overpriced hot chocolate.  It was worth it.

We were completely wiped out by mid-afternoon and decided to head in early.  It was a good thing, because when we got back to the room, it started snowing.  A lot.

That night, we played “Funglish”.  It’s another really fun game!  Think of it as “Taboo” with word tiles instead of talking and explaining the item.

Another great day with the fam!

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On our third (and final) day of skiing, we finally got to ski on powder.  It was awesome.  Even though it was tons better than the ice that we had the day before, it was still hard in it’s own way.  There were times where the powder was so thick and soft that we’d get stuck trying to turn or something like that.

But it was gorgeous!

It was hard to get very many pictures since it was snowing hard all day (and my fingers just about froze off every time I took off my glove to take a pic), but I did get a few.

And Michael and I made it back up to the very top of the mountain again!  We also tried some of the other Blues and liked them too.  I was still really slow, but Michael did fantastic!  No one could believe that it was his first time skiing.

We met everyone up at the top of the mountain for lunch and to warm up.  Look at the snow on the outside seating!

My brother was wearing a helmet under his ski hat, and the heat from his head had melted the snow in places.

I didn’t really feel like eating a hamburger, and we were ready to call it quits, so we decided to go ahead and ski one more run and then go to lunch somewhere.  We’d over-done it the day before and we really wanted to go out on a high note.

It was a perfect last run!  We both felt great, and we had a lot of fun.

We turned in our gear and headed to our car, which looked like this:

Definitely different from our first day!

We decided to go to a little Italian restaurant that faced the slopes.  We were given the best seat in the house!  This was our view:

But we were nice and toasty inside.

It was snowing SOOOO hard!  This is what we drove through to get back to our room:

Since we’d put off doing our souvenir shopping until the last night, we braved the storm and headed back into town.  Thankfully it’d let up some by that time.  The town was beautiful with all of the snow!

We started shopping with my parents, and then we met up with some of the rest of our fam.  After trekking all over the town on foot, we finally found everything we were looking for.  Even though we were walking through feet of snow, it was a really fun, relaxing night.

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We were supposed to leave at 5am the next morning, but we ended up having to push it back until 9 or 10 because of the snow on the roads.  Here’s a picture of the outside of our rooms:

We went in and had a little bit more family time before it was time to go.  I can’t get enough of my little cousins!

This is our group, minus my uncle and 4 cousins that left the night before.  It was SUCH a great family trip!

And here’s our family in the snow:

A couple of pictures of the gorgeous scenery:

And one last picture of Michael and me:

And then we were off.  I couldn’t get over how beautiful everything was with all of the snow.

By the way, this was the temperature when we left:

After FOURTEEN hours, which consisted of plenty of 90s songs, a pizza stop, my sister riding with us for a few hours, Sonic for dinner, talking about Disney for over an hour, and lots and lots of checking the clock, we finally made it to my aunt and uncle’s house to drop Marcos and Maddie off at their car.  Then Michael and I drove another 40 minutes to get to my other aunt and uncle’s house for the night.  Oh, and we welcomed in the New Year by driving on a Dallas highway.

But once we got to my aunt and uncle’s house, we had a great time!  They’d been on the trip with us, and we had a ton of fun with their family.  My aunt even put tootsie rolls on our pillows to make sure we got the 4-star treatment!

We slept in late the next morning, had pancakes for lunch, and then headed back to Beaumont.  When we got there, this was the temperature:

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It was a REALLY GREAT vacation!  I’m so thankful that we were able to go and be with my family for a late Christmas.  We had such a great time!

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–Staci

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Ski Trip 2010: Arrival & Christmas

Now that this trip happened over a month ago, I think I’ll finally take the time to write about it.  Sorry!  Let’s just say that if I could sum up January in one word it’d be BUSY.  We had guests and youth trips and sicknesses and more.  It was a very, very busy month.

But now I have a little time to share about our family ski trip to Red River, NM.  It was fantastic.

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I think I might have mentioned this before, but we switch between each of our families for Thanksgiving and Christmas each year.  This was our year with my family for Christmas.  Since we had Christmas Eve services at church and then had church the day after Christmas, we were home by ourselves for actual Christmas Day.  But the day after Christmas, we went up to Dallas to spend the night with my aunt and uncle and their family so we could head out early the next morning for our ski trip.

Michael had never been skiing before, and he was really excited to finally try it out.  I’ve been a few times, and I enjoy it, but I was mostly excited to just spend time with my family–and be with Michael when he learned to ski.

We left bright dark and early Monday morning.  My brother, Marcos, and his fiance, Maddie, were with us.  While they slept in the backseat, we kept ourselves entertained with fun music in the front.  After the sun rose:

Michael had gotten “Despicable Me” for Christmas from his parents, and it came with an inflatable Minion.  He became our trip mascot.

My aunt sent us scavenger hunt items to look for on the way.  We could have sworn that she just saw the items and then texted the list, but she promised that she wasn’t even playing.  It was everything from a train car to an abandoned house to a bird sitting on a sign to all kinds of things…  The Minion helped me check off the pictures I found (Oh–and I won, by the way!)

After about a million songs, waiting 30 minutes for my brother’s coffee, plenty of pictures, a failed nap, plenty of laughs, and 11 hours in the car, we finally made it to Red River, New Mexico!

That night, we had Christmas with just our family (3 of my aunts/uncles and their families, plus one of my dad’s work friends and his family were on the trip too).  Since skiing was our big gift, we decided to make presents for each other.  We’ve done this one other time, and they’re my FAVORITE Christmases.  I love the thoughtfulness that comes with a home-made gift.

Emily made me a wall hanging with our initial and Disney decorations/colors for our office:

Michael and I made Marcos/Maddie a book with notes, recipes, advice, etc. from family and friends (my office friends had made me something similar when we got married):

I made Em a necklace hanger made from spools of thread, buttons, and wood (my good friend, Jamie gave me the idea):

We also made ornaments (at the place with Paul and Liz) for everyone:

Marcos/Maddie made us a canvas with paint and their pictures:

I made my dad a collage of all of us for his office:

My Mom and Emily (and my dad) made Michael a t-shirt quilt with all of our Pine Cove shirts (it’s our new favorite movie watching blanket.  We LOVE it!):

I gave my mom a flash-drive with all of the pictures I’ve taken (that she would want) from 2005 until present.  I edited most of them too:

And my mom made all 3 of us photo books of our past family Disney trips:

It was SUCH a good night.  All of the home-made gifts were so much fun, and it was just a really, really good time with my family.

We went to bed nice and early so we would be ready for our first day of SKIING the next morning!

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Up Next:  What do you mean the Green is CLOSED?!

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Q for You:  Have you ever made home-made gifts for anyone?  Have you ever received one?  What was your favorite to make/receive?

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–Staci

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December in a Nutshell

Now that December has come and gone, I guess I should finally get to posting about it.  Needless to say, it was a BUSY month!  I’m sure you can relate.  Instead of trying to go back and do an update for each individual part of December, I’m going to just write one big update with little glimpses of everything that went on in December.  As always, feel free to just look at the pictures.  🙂

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Gingerbread House Decorating

Michael and I decided to buy a gingerbread house to decorate.  I hadn’t made one in years (my Meme used to help us make them out of graham crackers and milk cartons), and Michael had never made one.  We were super excited until we started making it.  It just would NOT stay together!  We even tried blow drying it.  By the end of our decorating, it would have made Hansel and Gretel cry.  Let’s just say we’re pretty convinced that the box lies.  (We found out later that some of our friends hot glue theirs together before they decorate it.  If we ever try this again, we’ll be “borrowing” their method.)

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Road to Bethlehem

The first weekend of December, our church put on a huge event called Road to Bethlehem.  Our gym was transformed into the village of Bethlehem, around the time that Jesus was born.  We had people of all ages helping and taking part, from a four month old baby, to elderly men and women, and all ages of families and people in between.  People from all over the community were invited to come and “meet a beggar and the King on the Road to Bethlehem”.

Guests would enter our gym and find themselves in the Bethlehem marketplace, complete with weavers, brick makers, a wedding procession and feast, food stands, a beggar and a thief, and plenty more village people.  Michael and I were the inn keepers.  We all stayed in character, and the guests were able to ask questions and interact with us.  At the end of the “road”, they came to the manger scene with Baby Jesus.  I loved being able to be a part of something like this.

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Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens

The next weekend, Michael and I went to Houston to visit my cousin, Paul, and his wife, Elizabeth, again.  We had a great time!  On Friday night, we went to Moody Gardens in Galveston to see the Festival of Lights.  All four of us have been to the Festival of Lights in Chickasha, OK, which is absolutely incredible.  So we weren’t expecting a ton from this Festival.  However, we were pleasantly surprised.  Even though there were some very strange displays (zoo scenes, pirates, blooming flowers, and lots and lots of ocean scenes), it was really nice!

We stayed around and hung out on Saturday, and Paul even taught Michael how to take someone’s blood pressure.  He was pretty excited.  (Paul is in med school, and you can read his story here: http://storyofawhitecoat.wordpress.com/)  It was a GREAT weekend!  We’re so thankful to have family/friends so close!

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Anniversary Trip in Dallas

For our second anniversary, I planned a trip to Dallas.  (We’ve decided to take turns planning each year and then plan our multiples of 5 together.)  I did the “name your own price” thing on Priceline, and once again I was VERY pleased.  If you’ve never tried this, try it!  You pick your destination, star rating, and price, and then you see if anyone accepts your bid.  We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Dallas for $60 (regularly around $230)!  And we stayed at the Hyatt Regency the next night for $50 (regularly over $100)!  Anyway, I love using this feature.

Since we have Fridays off, we drove up to Dallas on Thursday night and checked into our hotel.  It was really nice!

The next morning, we slept in (after waking up at sunrise), grabbed some breakfast at Panera Bread, and went to see “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.  The theater was empty when we got there, and only two ladies came during the movie.  It was fantastic!  We’d just finished reading the book, and we loved the movie even more than the book.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it, be sure to rent it when it comes out!

We went to check in at our new hotel, and we got a free upgrade to the Deluxe King room just by asking about free upgrades!

After we dropped our stuff off, we went to downtown Grapevine to eat dinner at a local Italian place called Napoli’s.  Grapevine was decorated so nice!  I wish we’d had more time to wander around, but we were on a mission.

This was the part of the trip I was most excited about:  ICE! at the Gaylord Texan.  My cousin had told me about this, and I knew that Michael would love it.  Every year, the Gaylord Texan brings in ice sculptors from Japan to make an ice display.  They use colored ice, and some of the ice even has lights inside of it.  It was so cold inside that they issued everyone parkas!  But the ice sculptures were definitely worth it.  This year was “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which is one of Michael’s favorite movies.  It was incredible!

After we went through ICE!, we walked around the hotel and looked at all of the decorations.  It was absolutely gorgeous.

We both loved seeing ICE! and exploring the Gaylord Texan.  It had been a perfect day!

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Christmas with Mom’s Side of the Fam

The next morning, we went to my uncle’s house to have Christmas with my Mom’s side of the family.  I was so happy that it worked out for us to be there, since we didn’t think we’d be able to make it up for Christmas this year.  The adults play “Dirty Santa”, and the gifts were hilarious, as usual.  We also took a new family picture, complete with Maddison.  I loved being with my family, even for a few hours.

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Kayla and Sean’s Wedding

To complete our Dallas trip, we went to two of our close friends’ wedding.  Kayla and I have been friends since we were on the same hall our freshman year, and I think Michael and Sean have been friends since freshman year too.  Sean was one of our ushers.  Needless to say, we were SO happy for them.  The wedding was beautiful, and it was great to see some of our college friends.

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Christmas with Michael’s Mom and Sister

Michael’s mom and sister, Sarah, came to visit for a couple of days before Christmas.  Sarah lives in New York, and we hadn’t seen her since last Christmas.  We were SO happy that they were able to come visit!  We went to dinner, opened presents, and played lots of games, including the BluRay games on Beauty and the Beast (I’ve said this before, but they are so much fun!).  Even though we wished they could have stayed longer (and that Michael’s dad could have come too), it was sooo good to see them!

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Christmas Eve

Our church has three Christmas Eve services, and this year we chose to go to the 6:00 and 11:00 services.  For the 6:00 service, we sat with one of the families that we’ve gotten close to since we’ve been here.  I’m so thankful for their family!  The service was wonderful, and the candle-lighting was beautiful.  Afterwards, we went to the associate pastor’s house for tamales and chicken tortilla soup.  Yum!  We helped run sound for the 11:00 service.

When we got home from the 11:00 service, it was already Christmas (technically), so we decided to go ahead and open our gifts from each other.  We’d decided that we just wanted to do stockings from each other, and then plan something special instead of getting traditional gifts.  For my big gift/event, Michael is taking me sky diving!!  I’m SOOO excited!  It’s something on “my list” (which I plan to post sometime soon), and I can’t wait to go!  I planned a mini vacation to Destin, FL for us for this spring.  (We may or may not be taking it though, because we’ve decided to start saving for a house.)

It was fun opening our gifts and starting our “just the two of us” Christmas early.

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“Just the Two of Us” Christmas

This was our third Christmas since we’ve been married, but our first to celebrate “just the two of us”.  Even though we both missed our families a lot, there was something sweet about just being together for Christmas day.  Since we were up way past midnight, we slept in late and then had a big breakfast.  We played some games, watched a few of our new movies, did laundry (we had to pack for our ski trip), and just relaxed.  It wasn’t like any other Christmas, but it was really nice.  That evening, I made a big dinner.  We’d bought a pork tenderloin from one of our youth, and we saved it for Christmas.  I also made red skinned potatoes, green beans and carrots, bread, and my apple roll-up.  (I took some pics for recipe posts that I’ll post sometime.) It was yummy!  It turned out to be a wonderful Christmas at home!

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We left for our ski trip a couple of days later, and I’ll write about that in another post.  Thanks for catching up on the December happenings with us!

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–Staci

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Q for You:  What was your favorite thing you did in December?  Did you stay at home or visit family for Christmas?

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Catching Up: Black (and Silver) Friday

Yes, we’re those people…the ones who get up early and head to the stores for crazy Black Friday deals.  Yes, it’s early.  And yes, there are lots of people.  But it’s SOOO worth it!

Last year was my first year to ever do the whole Black Friday thing.  Michael’s family had been doing it for years, and we decided to carry on the tradition in Oklahoma last year.  We found a ton of amazing deals, and decided that we’d be doing it every year we could from then on!  Last year we had a list of lots of things we were looking for, and a big time game plan.  We were at Kohl’s before 4:00 (yes, A.M.) so we could be there when the doors opened.

This year we decided to take it a little easier since all we were looking for were clothes.  So we didn’t get to Old Navy until 5:00 (I know…so late, right?!).  Michael’s mom went with us, and we just took our time shopping around.  Literally everything in the store was on sale. We got some really great deals!

When we left Old Navy, we went to the mall.  We were going to just go to Aeropostale and JC Penny, but we saw that New York & Company was having a 60% off everything sale.  So we went to those three stores, found some amazing deals, and went back to Old Navy for a few more gifts before we went to breakfast.  Richard and Amanda were finally getting started on their shopping when we finished breakfast, so we dropped Michael’s mom off with them and then we stopped in at Bath & Body Works, picked up a pair of ski pants for Michael at Academy, and went back home to relax.

It was 12:00, and we’d already been up for 8 hours.

But we’d saved over $420  so it was WELL WORTH IT!!  I can’t get my brain to figure out the math, but I do know that we saved well over what we spent!

Look at all of our Black Friday goodies!

These pictures aren’t the best quality, but here are a few of our favorite deals of the day:

It was a GREAT day of deals!  And we had lots of fun shopping.  It was fun to have his mom with us this year.

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After we relaxed and watched a movie, it was time to put on some Black and Silver–we were going to a Spurs game!

Michael’s family has been huge Spurs fans forever.  Even though I’m not a die-hard fan (like I was when Michael Jordan played for the Bulls!), I enjoy cheering for the Spurs with Michael.  We’ve been to two Spurs vs. Thunder games in OKC, and we had a GREAT time.  But this was the first time I’ve seen a Spurs game in San Antonio.  And they were playing their biggest rivals: the Mavs!

Michael’s dad had called a while back and asked if we wanted to go the day after Thanksgiving, and of course we said yes!  All 6 of us went together, and we had such a great time!  The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Sarah (Michael’s sister) could have been with us.

We got there in plenty of time to walk around, shop, take some pictures, and even shoot some hoops before the game.

The brothers and soon-to-be sisters-in-law:

Mom and Dad E

All the championship rings!

These guys were making tons of noise and getting everyone all ready for the game:

They even had shooting games set up in the “fan zone”

When it got closer to time for the game to start, we headed over to find our seats while the team warmed up.

Michael’s mom sat with Richard and Amanda above us:

And we sat with his dad on the row below:

We went to get some food during half time and ran into H-E-Buddy

It was a REALLY good game!  The Spurs lost, but it was still a really exciting game.  We had to take our traditional “We won/lost picture”.

We had a great time!  It was so much fun to be there with Michael’s family!!

After the game, we went to Freddy’s Frozen Custard (YUM!) and headed home.

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It had been SUCH a great trip to San Antonio!  I’m so thankful we were able to spend Thanksgiving with Michael’s family this year.

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Do you shop on Black Friday?  Have you ever been to a NBA game?  Who is “your team”?

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–Staci

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