Friday, September 23, 2011

Baltimore Bound

So... this post is over a month after our adventure, but I didn't want to leave it out of our summer travels across the U.S.

J and I left Seattle on August 1st and headed for Baltimore, MD. We were going across the country for a dear friend's wedding. We arrived about a week ahead of time though to explore D.C. We only had two days in D.C., and boy, did we make the most of them!

On the day we arrived, we checked into our Georgetown Suites and started exploring. We quickly figured out the subway system and headed toward the Smithsonian. We toured some of the artsy museums but those weren't really our cup of tea, but we ended up in the Natural History Museum which was pretty cool. I was really looking forward to the American History Museum as I teach U.S. History... but that was going to have to wait until the next day. Our feet were killing us from all the walking and the museums were closing. We headed back to our hotel and ordered some pizza and wings... nothing like a big helping of unhealthy food to get back the calories we burned that day!

The next morning, we decided to start with the monuments. We walked to the Lincoln Memorial, the WW2 Memorial, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, saw the Reflection Pool, went to the Pentagon (and quickly turned around as there really was nothing to see), went the Arlington Cemetary, did a tour through the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (very cool!), and spent hours exploring the three stories of the American History Museum. It was very neat to see a lot of the stuff that I teach about, I am personally loved all the First Lady's apparel. We stopped for a quick lunch at Chipotle in the middle of the day, and by the end of the day, we were both ready to call it quits. I am surprised  we were about to walk back to the hotel. We ate dinner at a little Mediterranean resturant... it was a great but very full day.

The next day, we woke in D.C. and left to meet Ashley and David for the drive to Virginia for Ashley and Ross' wedding! More to come...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heading North

As if Seattle were not a respite enough from the heat of Texas, our vacation took us further north. On Saturday, July 16th, we boarded the Norwegian Star heading toward Alaska. Besides eating and sleeping excessively, we managed to get in some good quality time with J's entire family!
On day one, we rode the waves... took in the beautiful mountains... ate some yummy food that came in a minimum of three courses... played some games... went to a Newlywed Show... and relaxed.
Day two was our first stop: Ketchikan, Alaska. We shopped in some of the stores and went to a lumberjack show. After enjoying the hazy day in Alaska, we boarded the boat... ate another yummy meal fit for about four people and then went to the Dating Game Show. One of our friends, Mark, was the contestant who asked three single girls questions and then got to choose one of them for a special date later on in the week. It was quite fun and funny!

After Katchikan, we headed toward Juneau, Alaska. It was a really foggy day and SO cold! I wore four layers of clothes (a short sleeve shirt, a cardigan, a thick jacket, and then a rain jacket). After a while, I warmed up or I just forgot about being so cold because of the beautiful scenery around us. We took a bus to Mendenhall glacier and hiked until we got to a rushing waterfall right next to the glacier. It was BEAUTIFUL! After that, we took a tram up to the top of a mountain (which was quite terrifying for me because I have a fear of heights). After a little shopping, we boarded on the boat. We ate lunch while we watched the boat pull away from the dock and head towards Skagway.
In Skagway, we took a bus into Canada along the Chillkoot trail. It was very interesting to learn the history of the location... how thousands of people crossed that rough terrain in search of gold. I could not imagine the bravery that it took to go through that area without a vehicle and having to carry everything you owned on your back. We ate some BBQ chicken for lunch and then got to see some cute huskies who participate in the Iditarod race. We got to see them pull a sled... talk about strong animals! Afterward, we took a train on the way back and we went through mountains and across valleys. Sometimes, it was very scary because the valleys were so deep and the mountain dropped off right along the tracks, but the terrain was breathtaking!
Our final port was Prince Rupert. J's family decided to go on a whale watching tour, but J and I decided against it. It was a bit expensive and we were craving to spend some time alone together. We walked outside in Prince Rupert, stopped in the little shops, got some coffee from a cute place called Cowppuuccinos. We boarded the boat again in time for our dinner reservation at the tex-mex place on board, Endless Summer. I ate SO much! I ordered some mexican spring rolls, nachos, black bean soup, this amazing meat and veggie dish served hanging on a mace, and then some chocolate-cinnamon cake to wash it all down (no, I was not able to eat anywhere near all of this).

We spent another day at sea, but by this time, I had caught a cold. I did not really feel up to doing much of anything expect sleeping, eating, resting, and going to shows. I really enjoyed this cruise although I was very grateful to get off the boat and have some room to move and spread out. It was cramped quarters sharing a very small room with three other grown adults!
And here we are back in Seattle. It has been another day of relaxing. Yesterday, we took a hike along a trail in Redmond. Today, I got to take another walk and sit outside reading The Help. Generally, I like being really productive, but it has been a gift to just get to sit, take in the beauty of God's creation, and catch up on some reading.

Loving the little moments.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

catchin' up on summer!

Monday, July 4th: J and his mom worked SO hard to replace our sink. It ended up being a bigger task than I think was originally expected. I skipped out on all the hard work and visited the Mayberry's. I hope and pray that they will always be life long friends. It is a joy every time I get to see them even though our time together is sparse.

Tuesday, July 5th: Not too much going on... I have been addicted to reading. I read Pearl in the Sand- a retelling of the story of Rahab from the Bible- and Redeeming Love- a fictional story that parallels the story of Hosea. Both were beautiful books that I could not stand to put down. I love when I find a book that I love! I finished the evening relishing time with good friends.

Wednesday, July 6th: Running errands in Katy after a yummy breakfast with Ashley Hatchett at Chick Fil A. You can never go wrong when you start your day with Chick'n Minis!

Thursday, July 7th: I got to spend the day with Katie Cox and her sister at the Cypress Outlet Mall. I had no luck but lots of fun. I'd rather have it that way anyway given my frugal nature.

Friday, July 8th: Highlight of the day was a suite 12 reunion. I can't believe seven years ago, I was packing up my bags to head to HBU not knowing all the lovely ladies I was about to meet. All of us are now married and about half of my freshman suite have kids. My how time flies and lives change!

Saturday, July 9th: A fun day at Splashway with Addie, Savannah, and my mom! It was hot but the water was cool... That evening, we all went back to EC and ate pizza and hung out together.

Sunday, July 10th: I went to church at FBCEC and went to an older adults Sunday school class. I felt like I was at a cowboy church. One of the older cowboy men lead the study and it was neat hearing his perspective from his personal life experiences. I also got some good time reconnecting with people from FBCEC. We finished with a yummy lunch at Whataburger, but then I had to leave to take Addie back... she had to get ready for the circus and I had to get ready for JW.

Monday, July 11th: I went to drop Yasmeen off at the doctor's, run last minutes errands, pack, and visit friends before leaving Texas for a month.

Tuesday, July 12th: "We're leavin' on a jet plane..." Actually, we hopped on a 737 bound for Seattle. We ate some Buffalo Wild Wings at the airport, had a layover in Las Vegas, landed in Seattle around midnight Texas time and finally drifted off to sleep around 2 AM.

typical airport picture

The rest of the week was spend with J's family. We went to Sky High, hung out, took walks, went to Marymoor Park and watched the Wizard of Oz, ate at Pickle Time, played with sparklers, made s'mores, packed for an Alaskan cruise, did a little shopping, and rested a lot! It was a nice change of pace after a very busy June and beginning of July.
sparkler fun
Finally, on Saturday, July 16th, J and I, along with his whole extended family plus some, loaded our 20-something pieces of luggage in the downstairs foyer of Amy and Eric's house to head out for Alaska!

summer lovin' had me a blast

back to blogging summer adventures (it is catch up time)... i was so successful at the beginning of the summer and then about half way through, i lost my momentum.

Monday, June 27th: J and I met with the Hargis family. We originally met Kirby and Jane when we were students at HBU. He worked in the student life department when we were RAs. Our paths seem to cross every so often and every time they do, it has been a blessing. Most recently, my fifth grade students were touring their junior high and I ran into her there; I knew she was a teacher but didn't know that one day my students would get the pleasure of having her as a teacher! We had lunch with that lovely couple and then headed to Waxahachie, TX for Camp 220. We had a wonderful time of reconnecting with old friends we met through HBU REC Team and had a wonderful night of worship.

Tuesday, June 28th and Wednesday, June 29th: We were at Camp 220 and were on the intercessory crew. We walked around campus praying that God would lay on our hearts what He would have us to pray. I have not prayed that frequently in quite some time and it was refreshing and life-giving. It is an indescribable moment when you just know that you have heard from the Lord or when you recognize His presence. I have learned a lot about that this year... I have learned to sense the Spirit... it has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my entire life.

On Wednesday, we headed back to the house and spent the night at home. We were going to straight to El Campo, but the deep sea fishing trip that my dad planned for the guys in the family got canceled due to bad weather. While I wished that trip could have happened, I was grateful for get home and get to sleep in my bed again.

Thursday, June 30th: I dropped J off at my brother's house and they went to meet my dad at Lake Bastrop to spend the day fishing. I met with Mercedes and we had a good time catching up on life. After that, I headed to El Campo and met my family for a yummy dinner.

Friday, July 1st: After spending the night in EC, we headed to FBCEC to talk with my childhood pastor about future plans. It was such an encouraging conversation, and I am grateful for being part of that family in EC. After that we headed back to the land of sugar. J picked up a friend and went to meet his family in Port O'Connor for more fishing and fun. I decided to skip that fun and have fun of my own. I went a visited a Pakistani friend. We shared a delicious meal together and just hung out for a few hours.

Saturday, July 2nd: J was still town and would be until Sunday. Fortunately, I had a day planned spending time with people that I love! I went shopping with my mom at Katy Mills Mall. I love mother-daughter time! Following that, I went to a birthday party celebrating Avery Taylor... she is such a great friend who I don't get to see enough. I got home late and like usual when Justin is out of town, I had trouble sleeping. Around midnight, I heard someone messing with the door and I started to panic. What are you supposed to do when you think someone is breaking in?!? Fortunately, it was Justin. What a wonderful surprise!

The month of June was spent reconnecting with friends and making lots of wonderful memories! I LOVE SUMMER!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Have I really NOT gone to work for 21 days?

I feel as if I have lost some momentum over the summer. I have wasted more time despite my desperate attempts at being disciplined.

Monday (20th):
- Shopping with Justin for groceries for the week
- A few plans fell through with friends
- Reading
- Exercising
- Cleaning- I don't know how but the house constantly seems to keep getting messier... I guess I really do know how that happens.

Tuesday (21st):
- Dentist Appt. (This was such a pain to schedule, but I am so grateful that Justin and I both now have clean teeth for another six months!)
- Spring Creek BBQ (We had gift certificates to eat there free from the school.)
- Small Group- Burrito Bowls

Wednesday (22nd):
J and I were supposed to go to Conroe for our 3rd anniversary, but we decided not to because we wanted to go to 220 instead. I was a little bummed because I love getaways with my husband, but we tried to plan a fun day instead. I feel as if I ruined the day with my attitude. We went into the day without a well-thoughtout plan, and things did not go as we intended.

We went to Chick Fil A and got a great deal- for $9, we got two large fries, two large sweet teas, 22 nuggets, and two ice cream cones. We couldn't finish all the food, but that's what happens when you use coupons!

Then, J went with me to Katy Mills Mall. I have been in need of some new clothes. I have a really long torso, and a lot of my clothes have shrunk the past year making them not fit properly to say the least. He was such a trooper. I drug him along for hours and he did it all with a smile on his face. I get so discouraged shopping though because clothes cost more than I want to spend and they don't always fit me the way I want them do... it was not how I wanted to spend my date day with J but I knew that this was one of my only free days to go shopping this summer left.

We had plans to go ice skating, out to a nice dinner, maybe go rock climbing or swimming in a pool, but all that fell through. I was a little disappointed, but my hubby always helps me make the best of situations so shortly after we got home, he put a smile back on my face and continued on about my day... maybe 220 will be our anniversary vacation?!?

-J finished his day with guy friends watching Firefly
-I went to pick up my sister to spend the next couple days with me.

Thursday (23rd):
- Savannah, J, and I went to Oyster Creek park and threw the frisbee around...
- Ate lunch at home.
- Went to go see Midnight in Paris (It was okay, but I would not watch it again...)
- Went back to Oyster Creek park and threw the frisbee some more ( Savannah and I kept setting goals of how many times we could toss it back and forth without letting it fall... we made it to 80!)
- Late dinner at Chick Fil A
- Finished the evening with a movie, Life as We Know It. (SIDENOTE: when we were watching the movie, there were two HUGE roaches in the room. I flipped out and tried to spray them with pledge. J was hanging out with some guy friends... around midnight, he drove home to try to find and kill them. I HATE ROACHES! but I love my sweet husband who got in the car late at night to save his wife.)

Friday (24th):
- Woke up and read a chapter of Sacred Marriage about how marriage really teaches how to love... quick quote: "To fail to love my wife and kids rightly in the name of loving other people rightly is a sham." Family first... it truly is a huge ministry.
- Savannah and I were going to play putt putt but it didn't open until 4... we watched The Dilemma (not a great movie).
- We decided to pick up my niece after her four year check up at the doctor's. We went to Swirll to get some frozen yogurt, made rainbow cupcakes, watched Toy Story 3, and made gak. It was so much fun!
The Before

The After

- Dropped Addie off at Robyn's and hung out for a little bit... I love those kids and I love my sisters!
- Dinner with Lisa and Griffin at Olive Garden. Thanks for the dinner and the great conversation!

Saturday (25th):
- 9 AM breakfast with old friends from college: it was a wonderful morning spent with the Ashcrafts, Leah, Lisa, Jack, Mark, and of course, the hubby!
- Baby Shower in Austin with Jenn! I don't usually like road trips because I don't like being in a car for hours, but I was grateful for the many conversations during this one; it was quite enjoyable!

Catch up- Week 2 of Summer Vacay!

I have really strived to live each day intentionally this summer... using my time wisely in study, prayer, and in reconnecting with people. Because each day looks uniquely different, I don't want to forget all the special moments that I have had.

Here is what I have been up to:

Monday, June 13: I spent the day with a friend at the hospital. She has cancer and was going in for another treatment. It was a long day for sure, but at the same time, I was grateful that I got to be their with her and for her.

Tuesday, June 14: This day was spend running errands, preparing for small group (which entails cleaning the house), and a wonderful phone date from my bride-to-be friend, Ashley. I am looking forward to seeing her soon. Our conversation was encouraging and uplifting; I am truly grateful for her friendship. I also had a lunch date at Chipotle with two lovely ladies from church, Katie and Ada. It was full of good conversation and ended with some frozen yogurt from Swirll.

Wednesday, June 15: I woke and began taking care of the aftermath from small group... dishes, picking up toys, etc. I drove into Katy to run an errand and then went to a friend's house for a skype call. In this skype call, I met a wise woman and not only learned a lot from her but was encouraged by her.

Thursday, June 16: Today was a day of study. I have not had much time to read and enjoy books like I have wanted this summer, but I woke up this day with a desire to read. I am in the middle of a few books... some are Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas and Instructing Your Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. Later in the afternoon, I got ready for Girl's Night. It was wonderful spending the evening with Melody, Christi, Loren, and Liz. These ladies are truly soul friends... life moves quickly and we can go months without seeing one another, but it is as if no time has passed at all when we get together.

Friday, June 17: I nailed down some Father's Day plans. My dad can be unusually hard to by for, so this year, I created family dates for him to choose from. On Friday, I sent him the email asking him which one he would like to do.
Saturday, June 18: ADDIE'S FOURTH BIRTHDAY! I began the day by running errands with a friend. We went to JCPenney, Babies R Us, and a few other places. We met our husbands for lunch at Los Gallitos. I parted ways after that and headed to watch my nephew for the afternoon so my sister could treat Addie to a fabulous mother daughter day. (They were going to go swimming, and my one year old nephew makes things a bit more complicated.) I didn't mind though... we had so much fun together. That evening, we drove up to Conroe to say good bye to some dear friends who are moving to Kentucky.

Sunday, June 19: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! I woke up early and made a yummy sausage roll to take to my dad for breakfast. We stopped and got some steaks for lunch and then took the trek to El Campo to bid my dad a happy father's day. We went to church, and it was wonderful reconnecting with people that I grew up with. I cannot get over how big some of the kids have grown; they are technically not kids anymore but I remember them as toddlers. (I think that officially makes me old.) We spent the afternoon in good ol' EC and then headed back to Houston for church. We ended with community dinner and good discussion.

*not the actual one I made on Father's Day*

It was a busy week, but a great one nonetheless...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

here I raise my ebenezer...

recently, i have thought a lot about the ebenezer...

1 samuel 7:12- " Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mitzpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer, for he said, "Till now the LORD has helped us."

that is how i feel in life. with each overcome obstacle, i say to myself, "surely the LORD has brought me this far."

this past year, the LORD has been teaching me a lot and leading me in ways that i never imagined... i have tried to follow obediently but along the way, i have faced doubts, fears, convictions, sin, discouragement, resistance, stubbornness, and the list continues. by the grace of God, i have come this far.

my once hard heart is now broken... i have been encouraged... i have communed with the Lord and with His people... i am walking in openness.

even though this process has been difficult, trying, and at times painful, reflecting back there is much joy, much thankfulness, and much peace. (and my journey is just beginning...)

surely, the LORD has brought me this far.