Tag Archives: vacation

Happy New Year! – By M

2012 came to a close so quickly!  It was like all of a sudden we’re into 2013… a whole week into 2013!  So I realize this Happy New Years post is a tad late, but better than none at all, right?

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Since the last time I wrote on the blog we have celebrated Thanksgiving, vacationed at Disney World with my family, went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, played the part of the holy family (you know Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus) twice, vacationed in Oklahoma and spent time with family over Christmas, had both our cars die on us while traveling on vacation, experienced two snows, and now our baby boy is starting to sit up all on his own!

2012 was definitely a great year –full of change and new beginnings.  I look forward to 2013 and all that is in store for our family and seeing Josiah get bigger every day.

I hope that you and your family are well and are getting off to a great start to the year!  May you continually  experience God’s blessings.

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What is the best thing you can look back on from last year?  What do you look forward to this coming year?

Family at Disney World

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-M


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?


Be Our Guest Restaurant

I am on cloud 9 right now.  My incredible husband just got us a reservation at “Be Our Guest” Restaurant at Walt Disney World for our December trip!

This may not seem like a big deal, but I assure you it is huge for all of us Disney Nerds trying to make reservations today.  You see, this morning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time (so 6:00 a.m. here) reservations opened up.  So everyone who really wants to eat there between November 19 and 180 days from now tried to call at exactly that time.

We started calling at 5:55 and weren’t able to even get through until 8:10 when Michael just happened to call at just the right time.  And he just read that December 3-7 is completely booked already!

I’m still in shock.

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, and the restaurant is going to be like walking into the movie.  Check out some of these photos of the work so far: (the following photos are from thedisneyfoodblog.com)

The restaurant will be underneath the Beast’s Castle:

Cracked door arch into the Beast’s Ballroom:

The enchanted rose mosaic:

Portrait of the Beast in the restaurant:

Belle and the Beast Mosaic:

Rose Chandelier:

“Be Our Guest” Restaurant is part of the new Fantasyland Expansion at WDW.  Click HERE for a  great collection of info, pics, and videos.

I can’t wait for our December trip with Michael’s family, and now the fact that we get to eat at Be Our Guest makes me even more excited!

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–Staci

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Q for You:  What movie (Disney or otherwise) would you love to be turned into a restaurant theme?

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Craziest Summer Ever – By M

For those of you who subscribe to us, and others who casually read our blog, you may notice hwo Staci and I have not posted since mid-July.  Welcome to our crazy summer life!

I decided to throw some thoughts and other random things about the summer into this post.

– So I did the math the other day and 42 days out of 78 day summer we spent doing some kind of a youth activity (not including Sundays for Sunday school)!

– Within those 42 days, we spent 24 of those days outside of Beaumont and 22 of those nights were spent out of our own beds due to our 2 mission trips (UM Army and Big House), 1 camp (Lakeview), and 1 conference (Youth 2011 in Sacramento)

– Oh yeah the days above only include days spent away due to our youth.  We were also gone on a week long vacation in New Braunfels, TX (hittin up good ol’ Schlitterbahn and Canyon Lake).  We also spent several nights in Houston with Staci’s cousins who live there.

– Throwing out a round number, we spent a good 2/3 of our summer busy and away from home!  CRAZY!

– It was really rewarding though.  UM Army was incredible and Big House was lots of fun.  It was great bonding with the students at camp, and, what can we say, California is awesome and the conference was great!

– … well let me rephrase that last sentence… Sacramento and San Francisco were awesome!!!  L.A. was overrated.  No offense!

– The Holly wood sign was pretty cool though, but about the scariest road I’ve ever driven on in my life.

– The Golden Gate Bridge was really pretty.

– Oh yeah we still have one more overnight “Lock-out” with the students this weekend! yikes!

– TX represented well at the Youth 2011 conference (3 different main entertainment acts and teachers were from South East Texas!)

– Our house is almost completed and we move in literally 2 weeks from today!!!  (For more pics on the house check out my facebook page)

 

All in all our summer may have been outrageously crazy, but it was way worth it!  I love our job and house down here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!  God has really blessed us and we are excited to see what God will do in the future!

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What have you been up to for the summer?

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-M


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


Summer List – By M

Like any sane person, I am totally excited for this summer!  We’re going to be doing a lot of really fun things with our youth like 2 mission trips, camp, a trip to California, the beach, mystery trip to Houston, Schlitterbahn Galveston, and more!  We’re also gonna spend some time with Staci’s family as well as stop by my parents house!  I’m sure Staci and I will throw in our own little adventures in there somewhere too!

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So here are some things to check off the ol’ Summer list:

– Beach Trip

– Water Park

– Family

– California!

– Pool Party

– Grill out

– late-night movies

– TV Show Marathon-ing!

– and so much more

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What are somethings you can’t wait to do this summer?  Favorite vacation spot?

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– M


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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