Tag Archives: woo-hoo

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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Baby Update: The Plan

Well, a lot has been going on in the life of little Josiah. We wanted to give you a quick update since he’ll probably be here before too long!

  • He’s getting so big!  1.5 weeks ago, we had an ultrasound and he measured to weigh approximately 6 lbs, 11 oz.  So he’s probably in the middle 7 lbs by now.
  • I’ve officially been off all bedrest since June 7.  It’s been great to be able to move around and do whatever I feel like doing.  Needless to say, there’s been LOTS of nesting going on.
  • I’ve finally been able to start going on walks and doing my pregnancy workout video again.  It makes all the difference in the world to be able to be active.  (By the way, I highly recommend Lindsay Brin’s Pregnancy DVD Workout Videos; they’re separated into each trimester and a postnatal workout.)
  • Josiah is a little nut!  He makes my entire stomach move around constantly.  He gets hiccups multiple times a day, plays with Michael every time he touches my stomach or talks to him, and does some crazy moves.  He’s been too big to really kick for a while now, but it hasn’t kept him from moving around!

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Before I give an update on the Baby Plan (aka when we’re expecting him to come), here are the past few Pregnancy Bump Pictures.  I feel like I’ve stopped growing around…I guess he just looks different since he’s so much lower now.

Week 34

Week 35

Week 36

Week 37

Week 38

I haven’t taken a picture this week, but I’ll take one tonight because Michael and I are going on what will probably be our last date for a while.  We’re going to celebrate his 25th Birthday!  His actual birthday is the 2nd, but….

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JOSIAH WILL PROBABLY BE HERE THE 3RD!!!

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Yep, that’s right.  Our little guy will most likely be making his debut in 4 days!!!

How do we know?  Our little stinker is still breech.  He is already super strong willed, and he has refused to do anything the normal way this pregnancy.  First, it took a long time to actually get pregnant with him, then there was the marginal placenta previa, then he had echogenic bowels, then he tried to come super early…and now he wants to wait it out and stay in the position he wants to stay in…no matter what we try.

We’ve tried so many things to get him to turn, and he’s had fairly similar responses to each:

  • Michael has been talking to the lower part of my belly for months now.  Result: a kick in the mouth…or a punch in the cheek.
  • Shining a flashlight on my lower belly.  Result: he kicks the light.
  • Playing music on my lower belly.  Result: he LOVES the music.  He moves around…and he kicks the headphones, phone, etc.
  • I’ve even tried putting my shoulders on the ground and my rear in the air to make him confused so he’ll turn.  Result: lots of squirming and his head moving up to my ribs.  Oh, and dizziness and shortness of breath on my part.  Oh, and of course he kicks me with this too.

So, unless I have him this weekend (I’ve been having more contractions and other signs, but nothing to make me think he’ll be here in the next day), we’re scheduled to go back to the doctor on Monday and hopefully have him on Tuesday.  If I do go into labor before Tuesday, I’ll be having a c-section since he’s breech.

My doctor has scheduled to try to turn him (by pushing on him on the outside of my belly) on Tuesday.  Yes, I know this has the potential to be super painful.  But depending on his cooperation, it could make it where I can avoid a c-section.  And I’ve heard that sometimes it can even be a relatively quick and painless process.  It just depends.

Depending on my visit on Monday, we’ll know if she is going to induce me after the turning (if it’s successful).  If I’m progressed enough, (and I think I will be) I’ll be induced.  If not, we will wait until later in the week to try to induce me.  The reason for this is that she doesn’t want him to turn back around after he’s been turned.

There’s also a chance that the turning will distress him, in which case we’ll go straight to a c-section.  Also, if she can’t get him to turn or I’m in too much pain in the process, I think we go ahead and have a c-section.  I’m not sure if this will be on Tuesday or if we’ll just have one when I go into labor.  I’ll have to ask Monday.

So there’s the deal.  Josiah will more than likely be here in 4 days!! 

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I have to admit I’m a little nervous about the turning and about possibly having a c-section.  I texted with my cousin last night, and she reassured me about the c (she’s had two).  One of my friends here in town also had one recently and gave me a few pointers.  And I’ve talked to a few youth moms who have had kids turned.  But I’m still a little apprehensive about both.  So if you have any tips, I’m all ears!!

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We are getting SOOOOO excited for Josiah to finally be here!

I’ve done about 40 tubs of laundry (cloth diapers have to be “prepped”–more on this later; baby clothes; pillows; curtains; and more–pretty much anything I could wash in our house has been washed).

We’ve also gotten his room all ready (post on that SOON!).  I’m so thankful that Michael loves being involved in all of the baby stuff.

My mom cleaned like a pro when she was here a few weeks ago.  She did all of the baseboards, ceiling fans, dusting (including frames!), and more.

We’ve pretty much done everything we can to get ready for his arrival.  Now I just have to get a move-on with these thank you notes!  We’ve been SOOOO BLESSED.  And I want to make sure we say thank you before things get crazy with our little guy being here.

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I guess that’s pretty much it in the way of baby news.  We will let you all know when he’s finally here!  (In fact, I’ve already made a post draft with fill-in-the-blanks for his birth information!)

Thanks so much for reading along!  We’re excited to share all of this with you!

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–Staci and Michael

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PS. I’d love to hear any “turning”, c-section, or baby tips!  Click to leave a comment.

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Great Deal Sites — I’m Hooked!

I’ve recently discovered some Baby/Kid Deal Sites, and it’s become a daily ritual to check out the bargains.  A friend recommended one to me on Facebook, and I read this article to find the others.  I’m going to list my favorites and give a little summary of what kind of deals they run.  Click the Site Name and it will take you to the Deal Site.

 

Baby Steals

  • This site has two deals daily: one at 9 a.m. & another at 9 p.m. MDT (so 10 where I am).
  • They have a Baby section, Kid section, and Scrapbooking section.
  • When the products are gone, they’re gone…but most of the ones I’ve seen have lasted a while.
  • This site has AWESOME shipping!  I’ve been so surprised by how quickly they get your orders out.
  • Speaking of shipping, be sure you check the shipping at the different sites to see if the deal is worth it.  I think this one is around $5-6 for shipping (at least where I’m located).
  • They also have a secret Archive Link HERE where you can browse past Steals that have yet to be sold out.
  • I’ve made two Baby Steals purchases and I’ve been VERY pleased with the prices, service and quality of the products!

Eco Buys

  • This site has one new deal a day.  However, you can also purchase the previous two days’ deals if they aren’t sold out!
  • Being able to purchase more than one day’s deal makes the shipping more worth it.
  • As you can see from the name of the site, all of the products are eco friendly.
  • One of the drawbacks of this site is the delayed shipping: the items won’t even ship for a while after the sale (for example, today’s deal will ship 10-14 days from today).
  • We’ve made one purchase at this site and we’re still waiting for it to come in, but it was a great deal!

Mama Bargains

  • This site is really unique in that it constantly has a deal.  When it’s sold out, it’s replaced by another deal, and so on…
  • Some items go really quickly (I think the fastest I’ve seen is for bras) and some end up being changed out because no one will buy them (they’ve tried to sell these bikes without pedals twice recently, and no one wants them).
  • The way you can see if an item is going quickly is by the little “Mama” icon next to the item.  She moves on a slider from “Lots Left” to “Almost Gone”.
  • I’ve seen quite a few high-end items here including diaper bags, maternity/nursing clothes, kids clothes and toys, etc.
  • I haven’t bought anything here, so I’m not sure what the shipping/customer service is like, but I have enjoyed watching the deals.

Baby Earth’s GaGa Deals

  • This site has the potential to be dangerous!  It’s addictive.
  • They have one site every hour 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST.
  • But there’s a catch: Every second, the price drops.  But it could also sell out at any second.
  • So you don’t want to jump on the deal too quickly, but you don’t want to wait too long either.
  • One thing I didn’t realize is that you have to check out before the deal’s hour is up.  One time I put the item in my cart (at a really great price!) and decided to wait to see what the next item would be before checking out.  When I went back to check out, it said the deal was past time and I would have to pay full price if I wanted the item.  Oops.  So I missed out that time.
  • Also, one big draw-back of this site is the shipping!  The cheapest shipping to my house is $6.95.  This may not seem like a lot, but a lot of the time a deal will sell out before it even makes it worth the shipping.  So check Amazon to see what they’re selling it for before you jump on a deal.
  • They also have Open Box, Closeout, and Scratch & Dent, and Seasonal Sales at this site.
  • I made my first purchase at this site yesterday ($1.30 for a gDiaper!)

Those are my favorite Baby/Kid Deal Sites so far.  I’ve scored a few great deals on diapers, a wet bag (for diapers, swimming suits, laundry, etc.), and a fun toy.

One thing to keep in mind with these sites: not every deal is worth it.  And not every deal is a must.  Other than that, HAPPY DEAL SHOPPING!

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Q for You: Do you know of any Deal Sites you can pass along to all of us?

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–Staci

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It’s A……..

On Monday, we went to the doctor and had another ultrasound.  It turns out we are having a…

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BOY!

 

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We are SO excited!  We were going to be ecstatic either way, but it is so good to know!

Here are some things we’re really excited about with him being a little boy (Michael’s thoughts in italics):

  • Boys are so much fun to play with
  • Boys Don’t Break Daddy’s Heart
  • Boys are cheaper
  • Rough Housing/Wrestling/sports/etc.
  • Dad and Son bonding Time!
  • I can just picture the house being filled with little boy noises–trucks, guns, and everything else a little boy has to sound out as he plays
  • Boys have way less drama
  • He will have a boy cousin that’s only around 5 months older than him.  They’ll be best buddy-cousins!
  • Boys Are Cheaper!!!! (did we already say that?)
  • All of the monster and dinosaur baby boy clothes are adorable
  • All of the monster and dinosaur baby boy clothes are MANLY and AWESOME!!!!

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We’ve also decided the name already.  Actually, we’re over-achievers and had first child and second child boy and girl names picked out already.  But that’s besides the point.  🙂  His name will be:

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Josiah Michael Elizondo

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A little background information…  We love the story of Josiah in the Bible (2 Kings 21:24-23:30).  He became king of Judah at the age of 8.  2 Kings 22:2 says,

He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

While there were some other good kings in Israel and Judah, 2 Kings 23:25 says,

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

He destroyed all of the false gods and places where false worship was practiced, and he turned the people of Judah back to God.  They began following the Law again and they celebrated Passover for the first time in many, many generations.

We just love his story–how such a young boy can live his life for God and impact an entire nation.

After we decided to name him Josiah, we looked up the meaning in one of my pregnancy apps.  It means “God heals” or “Jehovah has healed.”  This is absolutely perfect for us because God healed my body in order for us to even be able to have him.  We are so blessed.

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Thank you for letting us share our story with you!  We’re so excited about our little boy!

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–Michael and Staci

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Q for you:  Any tips on raising boys?  Any other reasons to add to our “excited it’s a boy” list?

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Sno Cone Quest

Sno cones = summer.

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve equated sno cones with summer.  In Ada (where I grew up, and where Michael and I lived for 2.5 yrs before we moved down to Beaumont), there are sno cone stands ALL over the town.  Car dealerships, shopping center parking lots, car wash areas, Wal-Mart lots, gas stations,  you name it–there are sno cone stands there.  From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can expect to see cars in line for over an hour just to get a sno cone.

And it’s always worth it.

So, naturally, the closer we got to Memorial Day, the more excited I was for sno cones (even though they should break out the sno cone stands around February here…but that’s another story).  I kept looking for them everywhere we went.

And there were NONE.

Over the past week, it’s become somewhat of an obsession.  My eyes are peeled as we’re driving down the road, and Michael is really tired of me saying “I just want a cherry limeade sno cone!”

Today, I was determined to find a stand.  I had my sno cone eyes trained on every parking lot in sight.  And nada. But I didn’t give up.  We went to see our house (more on that later), and I convinced Michael to drive to the other highway in town to see if there was one there.  We turned into a gas station to turn around at the end of town…

And that’s when I saw it…

MR. BUBBLES SNO CONES! dun-dun-dun!

So, of course, we pulled in and tried to gather our change and get in line before the guy that pulled up after us did.  And we succeeded.  I ordered my cherry limeade, and waited for my cup o’ goodness.

And I was slightly let down.

I mean, it was ok…but it was more like the kind you get at a park.  You know, with the more crunchy ice and the fake tasting syrup.  I had my heart set on the perfection that is an Ada sno cone:  Super small shaved ice–the kind in the above picture, clear lime flavoring–aka more “real”, a hint of cherry, and fresh squeezed limes on top.  Mmmmm…yum.

Maybe we’ll have better luck next time.  And if not, a crunchy sno cone is better than no sno cone!

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Q for you:  What’s your favorite sno cone flavor? Sno cone stands: are there lots, some, or none where you live?

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–Staci

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P.S.  If you’re from Ada, go enjoy a sno cone for me!  And realize just how good you have it…apparently sno cones aren’t so abundant as I thought.  🙂

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Building Our House – Part 3

It’s crazy to think about all that has happened in the past two weeks!  We went from having form boards to….well, you’ll see.

5/10/11

While we were at Catalyst, we got a call saying that they were about to pour our concrete.  We’d been out there on Tuesday (almost two weeks ago) and it looked like this:

5/14/11

When we got back from Catalyst, we went to see our house and it looked like this:

We had a slab!  We also had a “SOLD” sign in our yard!

5/16/11

When we went back on Monday evening, they had the walls all marked out, and the lumber had been delivered.

It was so much fun to walk through and picture where everything was going to be.  Michael “pictured” a little too much.

So these were the boards to build our house that we saw on Monday…

5/18/11

…And THIS was our house on Wednesday:

AAAHHH!  We couldn’t believe it!  We though that they might have the walls up, but we weren’t expecting all of this at all!

To say we were excited is a huge understatement.  Here’s the back of our house:

I took this from far away so you could see how long our backyard is.

All of the extra supporting boards were still up, so we walked through the walls to get from one room to another.

So that was Wednesday…

5/21/11

On Saturday (yesterday), we drove up to find this:

YAY!  It’s ready to have the shingles and bricks put on before too long!  We’re really excited about our front porch–I think it’s going to be one of our favorite parts of our house.  The little pieces of wood are going to be replaced with cedar beams, and the back will have brick and slurry.

When we walked in, we saw that they had removed all of the extra boards.  This is on the back side of our living room.  We’re SO excited about the big windows!  The door leads to our back porch.

Here you can see our breakfast nook and through the walls to our bedroom.

On the other side of the living room are two bedrooms and our office (which could be a 4th bedroom).  The middle room and office are shown here:

The back/side of our house:

I found this little weed flower while I was taking pictures, and decided to get creative.

Our house will be finished before we know it!

They should be doing the electrical and plumbing this next week.  We’ll keep you updated!

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We want to write some Bible verses on some of the boards before the sheetrock goes up.  Do you have any suggestions?

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–Staci

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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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Building Our House part 1

Another thing we’ve been busy with is planning to build a house!

We found a great developer a few months ago, and we started meeting with one of their Realtors to talk about us building one of their houses.  We narrowed it down to the plan we liked, and then a few weeks ago we met with them again to talk about some changes we’d like to see.  We went ahead and met with our lender to get pre-approved to build/buy, and then waited to hear back from them.

Our Realtor called Michael on Tuesday and said they were ready for us to come look at the plan on Thursday.  So yesterday we met with them again and not only did we get to see the new drawings, but we also got to PICK OUR LOT!  We had no clue we’d get to do that already!

We wanted one of the lots that backed up to a really great tree line so that we’d never have anyone behind us, and we’d be able to look out and see all of the trees.  So we drove around and found our favorite, and our Realtor highlighted it–it’s ours!

I don’t have the official new drawings, but here are the original designs and a ghetto-fied version I created with the changes.

Here’s the front of the house.

We’re going to replace the columns in the front with cedar columns and change the siding on the porch to what they call slurry.  It’s basically brick with mortar on top of it, with some bricks showing through.  Here’s a picture of a house with something similar to what we’d want (just in a different area).

Here’s the original floor plan.

And the one with our changes.  We’re going to enclose (and add to) the covered patio to make it an office.  We’re also going to add a closet so we can re-sell it as an office/4th bedroom.  We’ll then add the patio onto the back of the family room.  We’re going to change the windows, and then take out the wall at the breakfast area.  We’re also going to take off the top cabinets in part of the kitchen and turn it into a bar to open up that area into the family room.  We’ll take those top shelves and put them where the breakfast area wall was so we don’t lose our cabinet space, and we’ll have an extra little bar/serving area.  Sorry for the poor quality…but this can at least help you picture it better.

We were/are SO excited!  This will be our first house to own, and we get to pick everything out ourselves.  Both of us went through the process of building houses like this with our families when we were growing up, and now we’re getting to do this together!

Since today was our day off, we told them yesterday that we’d come back to pick out our brick and vinyl (siding) today.  After lunch, we decided to drive around some neighborhoods and look at brick, vinyl, mortar, etc. to see what we like.  Our tastes were all over the place.  We knew for sure that we liked the more distressed brick look, but we went from more red-ish to brown-ish to who knows what.  We snapped pictures of some that we liked and took them to one of the ladies at the office.

She ended up driving around with us to try to find out the addresses so we could see what bricks they used, and then we went back and pulled out tons of brick ideas.  We ended up picking a more neutral-like color with some black and red-ish accents.  Then we picked our vinyl, roof, garage door and mortar style.  Here’s what we ended up with for the outside basics:

Since that’s all we really needed to decide today, she said we could either go and come back later for the rest, or we could just get it all picked out today.  We chose the latter.

It was so much fun picking everything out and grouping it all together to see what works best.  We’re really happy with our selections!  We chose the cabinets, counter-tops, tile, carpet, paint, bathtubs, sink fixtures, appliance colors, doors, and probably some other stuff that I’m forgetting.  We basically picked everything except the types of windows and the backsplash.  Here are our indoor basics:

It took us about 3 hours including driving around to see bricks, doors, and door/cedar colors.  It’s crazy to think that we just picked out everything for our new house!

What’s next:

On Monday or Tuesday we’ll meet back up with them to see the updated drawing and make any changes we have.  Then they’ll draw up the contract and we’ll hopefully sign it the next week.  They’ll start work at the beginning of May and we’ll be ready to move in September 1.  Our lease is up the middle of September, so this will be perfect timing to get all moved out/in.

I know it’ll be here before we know it!  We’re so excited, and we just wanted to share all about this with you all.  We’ll keep you posted on the progress.  We can’t wait!

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–Staci

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