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
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
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.
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!
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
I feel as if I have lost some momentum over the summer. I have wasted more time despite my desperate attempts at being disciplined.
- Shopping with Justin for groceries for the week
- A few plans fell through with friends
- Cleaning- I don't know how but the house constantly seems to keep getting messier... I guess I really do know how that happens.
- 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
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.
- 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.)
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
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
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.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
This weekend was wonderful.
It began with a Friday evening spent with friends I have not seen in quite some time. We met Melody at Chili's and then joined Adam at their apartment for brownies, ice cream, and some games. I really enjoyed spending time catching up with them. It doesn't matter how much time passes, we seem to always jump right back into our friendship.
Saturday morning, I received a call from my sister telling me she wanted to work out with me... she gave me very few details, and J and I met her at 11 AM a bit anxious about what to expect. It was a tough workout... I would not say it was fun but it was much needed and slightly enjoyable! Then, I joined my sister, niece, and nephew for some fun at the pool. My niece and I played together for a few hours. One of the things we played was "I Spy." We took turns spying things (i.e. "I spy a purple bathing suit." and "I spy an orange cone.") About five minutes into the game, Addie said, "I spy men's boobs." Then, she began pointing to all the men without a shirt on. It was hilarious!
After fun with family, I went to say good-bye to my teaching partner who is moving to NM. I can't believe I won't be working with her next year; we had such a good year and worked really well together.
J and I finished the evening off with "Little Fockers." I am glad we waited until it came out on Redbox. It was much more fun sitting in pjs and eating ice cream covered in magic shell! :)
And, here we are... Sunday. It was a full day of worship, community, and love.
It began with RCF service; J was leading worship. It was followed by yummy Chinese food at Green Garden with his family. We rushed home just to get ready and leave to JW church. I had a good time with the kids and then we finished off the evening with community dinner. Our group might be small, but I sure love the deep community we share each week.
The day was not yet over though. All day, my body has been extremely sore from the difficult workout from yesterday. J tried rubbing some knots out of my back and arms. We had a lot of fun laughing at the pain I experienced... By the end, I was laying in his arms and we were sharing a sweet moment. J said, "I feel really close to you..." (sweet, I know), but he was not done speaking... he needed to give a reason for why he felt close to me. Guess what he said? It was not that we had spent time laughing and talking together or that we had spent a great day worshipping together. Instead he said, "I feel very close to you right now... maybe it's because we are wearing the same kind of deodorant."
Yes... he ran out two days ago. I love moments and comments like this.
It reminds me of a time a few months ago. We were laying on the bed talking seriously about future plans. J picks himself up by his fists and looks in the mirror and says, "I'm a lion." Yep, in the middle of serious discussion.
I must say that I love that man more because of moments like that. May we have many, many more.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Day 1: Saturday
- Brunch with Justin at Chick Fil A
- Addison's 4th Birthday Party at Bounce U (or Bounce Me as she liked to say)
- Open birthday presents with the fam and hung out with the siblings
- Wild 'n Crazy shopping for food fight at Robyn's school
- Katie Cox's birthday bash!
- Begin the massive deep clean of the house...
Day 2: Sunday
- Escape to Starbucks to start the day. Began reading my first book of the summer.
- Caitlin's high school graduation
- Lunch at Genghi's Grill
- Church at JW
- Community dinner following...
- Last minute Wild 'n Crazy planning.
Day 3: Monday
- WILD 'N CRAZY!!!
- Lunch at Chick Fil A with Savannah
- Shower and rest time after a morning in the hot sun!
- Dinner date with Ashley Ashcraft at Jimmy Johns! What an encouraging dinner!!!
- Continuing the deep clean.
Day 4: Tuesday
- Grocery shopping for the week with Justin
- Quick lunch before final preparations for ESL test
- ESL test (still waiting for results... it was harder than I expected)
- Community Dinner Prep (dinner: remake of Chipotle's burrito bowl)
- Washing ALL the floors in the house!
Day 5: Wednesday
- Quiet morning- reading and relaxing
- Final vacation preparations for Virginia/ DC and 3rd Anniversary Getaway
- Errand running (stopped by the post office and did a little bit of unsuccessful, unproductive shopping)
- Met with a dear friend, Brittney, who I have not seen in years... what a blessing!
- Quick dinner and final clean up... counters, sink, toilets, shower, and floors cleaned in the bathrooms, massive cleanup in our play/ guest room including the vacuuming of the floor, and a round of dishes.
Day 6: Thursday
- Breakfast with the Jonie and Keith and their boys... what fun it was to hang out with them for a little bit!
- Finalized 3rd anniversary getaway (we are going to Conroe for a few days and staying right on the lake...)
- Quick lunch followed by a skype call...
- Police officer came to look for the lady who used to live here... (this is really just something out of the ordinary)
- Hanging out with a friend this evening
Day 7: Friday
I know that it will begin with my favorite triplets!!!
So far... it has been a great summer break. I am looking forward to reading, resting, and hanging out with more people! It is wonderful having time and opportunities to reconnect with people.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I don't even know where to begin... what a weekend it was!
With the school year coming to a close, I feel as if I have been bogged down by extra work. In addition to planning lessons and grading papers, there are lots of extra responsibilities to be done before turning in my keys... so, Friday, my weekend began with a quick dinner and an early bedtime. By early, I mean like 6:45 PM early. I was so tired I thought I would be able to sleep all night. It felt that way, but around 2 AM, I was wide awake. I read Viewpoints for about an hour and then was able to drift back off until 8 AM.
On Saturday morning, I had the desire to be productive and did not want to waste away my morning watching TV. Also, I had some big news for family and was anxious about sharing (no, we are not having a child). So... I decided to wash my car and pray... It was a calm morning. My mind was cleansed, and so was my car!
A little later, I got ready for a tea party! One of my fifth grade students was having a tea luncheon. It was such a sweet time... the fifth grade ladies dressed up in their Sunday best and we dined on "tea party" treats. It was nice to spend time with students outside of school; I sure am grateful for the wonderful students I have spent this year with.
I left early, bought a birthday gift, and headed to celebrate a very special first birthday... I can hardly believe that nephew Brody is one! I got to spend some great time with family... Brody can walk and eat anything. He is such a big kid!
Then, it was time to share future plans with my family. I was anxious, nervous, and very fearful that they would be disappointed in me or opposed to the direction that life is leading the hubby and me. Instead, I received abundant support and love. In the moment, I became emotional. I knew that while my parents supported us... it was news that signaled that I am an adult and can make my own decisions... and that meant my relationship with my parents was changing even a little more. I mean, I cut the strings when I married but they have always been so close and I have continued to confide in them often since I got married. It was bittersweet. Hurt in knowing that we will not always be an hour away, but happiness in knowing that the Lord is moving.
That evening, I was home alone. I broke. I had been holding in so many emotions all day and did not know how to fully process them in that moment. I just began reading Mark hoping that the Lord would comfort me and be with me. I prayed that He would do the same for my family. I was so grateful that I had nothing to hide and that my parents were so accepting. I love my family!
The next day, my beloved and I processed the conversation from Saturday. We went grocery shopping and made lunch together. Then, we worshiped together with our church family. Sunday was a day of gratefulness... of peace... of hope.
Since the weekend, I have received messages from both of my parents. I feel so incredibly loved. I have always known of my parents love for me, but they have not always been expressive with their love. I remember there was a season of growing up where we did not tell each other we loved one another... we do now. We express gratefulness for one another; we speak what was once implied. I am enjoying this season of life with my family. I wish it would not change, and I am going to relish in these moments while they are here.
I am grateful.
This anniversary was different... with school wrapping up, the day came and went quickly. I left around 7:15 after eating breakfast with my beloved hubby of three years and didn't get home until 9 PM just to jump right into our small group. It was a great day spent with students and friends... but it was different; it was our anniversary and I had little time celebrating alone with my love.
Luckily, we planned ahead... we knew what the actual day of our anniversary held, so we decided to celebrate an evening early. It was wonderful. While we still had work all day, we both rushed home longing to spend an enjoyable evening together remembering a year celebrating the journey we have been and are on.
I began by making dinner... spinach and feta cheese stuffed chicken, mashed potatoes, and zucchini. After dinner, we went to a park and played some frisbee. We both were a little rusty, but after a few minutes, our skills were dusted off. :)
We drove to town center and got a smoothie from Jamba Juice and walked around talking about the year. This has been a beautiful year... we thought back to the people we were just twelve months ago and they looked quite a bit different than they do now. We have grown A LOT. God has done a lot in our hearts... He has been the guide of our journey. We have arrived together, but we did not necessarily take the same path. We both realized what a blessing and gift it was to share this past year of learning, growing, stretching, and transforming together.
After talking some, we went to a friend who was house sitting... The house had a hot tub. After our workout planning frisbee, it was a relaxing way to end our date night together.
There were no gifts exchanged... I apologized and so did he. Then we realized that we both didn't want a physical gift; what we wanted was intentional time spent enjoying each other's company away from the hussle and bussle of life. So... instead of a gift... we are running away together. Shortly after school gets out, we are sneaking away from this busy, sometimes stress-filled life, and retreating together... relaxing from the fast pace of life.
I love celebrating life... I hated not getting to celebrate on the actual day, but life happens. And now, I get to celebrate not only before... but after! :)
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
So much has happened since my last post... but I can't let Mother's Day come and go without jotting some thoughts.
I love my mom. She is a wonderful woman, and I enjoy all moments that I get to spend with her. Our relationship is not a typical relationship. I feel as if we have always gotten along... we have had out spats, but I don't remember a time where I did not appreciate or deeply love her. When we get together, we don't watch TV or movies, we don't do fancy lunches or dinners, we don't have spa days. Eating with her usually involves a coupon or samples given out at grocery stores like Sams although lately she has been treating to a foot long veggie sub which we split from Subway. When we get together, we chat (we never lack in conversations), we shop, and for the past few years, we get up and dance! It has become a tradition to pull out DDR and have competitions or to see who can hula hoop the longest (my mom always wins... she is hands down the best hula hooper I have ever met!).
So, for Mother's Day, my siblings and I purchased her the Zumba dance DVDs. I surprised her late on Saturday evening and we put in the first DVD right away. I arrived in El Campo around 9:55 and five minutes later, we were dancing! We danced for about two hours and then proceeded to slow down, complete some final chores, shower, and go to bed. It was a wonderful evening. We laughed, worked out, and created some forever memories.
On Sunday, we went to church and went to McDonalds (my mom had a coupon)... :)
All in all, it was a perfect day. I believe my mom felt really loved and I loved being there with her and my little sister. Happy Mother's Day, mom.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Yesterday was my 25th birthday. I was talking to Justin about it yesterday and told him I didn't feel 25. He asked how old I felt, and I really think somewhere between 10-12. (I wonder if that is because I spend most of my time with that age range...)
Anyway, it was a wonderful day. I definitely felt loved from the moment I woke up. Groggy Justin woke up to say "good morning" when usually he just continues sleeping. When I came back in the bedroom, there was a surprise waiting for me on the bed. Justin got me a beautiful ring... I knew he was going to get it for me, but he told me that they had not had it in stock and had to order it.
Later at work, my students barreled down the hall yelling "happy birthday!" They sure made me feel loved and appreciated. Many of my students brought flowers and they combined them to make two beautiful bouquets. I had many homemade cards and lots of little gifts.
The instructional part of my day drug on and on. I was ready to go home, relax, and celebrate. Justin and I went off to Chuy's (I had been waiting WEEKS for this day to come around!). I ate lots of creamy J and a big burrito. It was yummy!
Later that evening, Justin and I were going to go to Studio Movie Grill to watch Source Code (we already had tickets through a Groupon). We went up the escalator just to hear over the speaker that they were sold out. So... we went back down. We decided to go see Your Highness. We went back up the escalator. We tried to buy tickets but they cancelled the showing. We went back down the escalator. About this time, I was getting discouraged. I wanted to do something special, but I couldn't think of anything... not to mention that I was exhausted!
As we were heading home, Justin played a song he purchased called "Hosanna" sung by Jason Morant. I realized that my birthday celebration was mild in comparison to the celebration of what this weekend symbolizes. Everything came back in perspective and I was grateful for the gift of life God has given me. I became grateful for my family who called me through out the day beginning at 6:45 to sing me happy birthday, grateful for my husband who woke up early to start my day off in a special way, grateful for the ashleys and their kind words, grateful for friends who left special encouraging messages throughout the day. My day took a huge turn for the better.
Justin began playing "Thy Will Be Done" by Red Letter and we just worshipped in the car together. I can't get over the lyrics.
My God, my Father while I stray,
Far from my home in life rough's way,
Oh teach me from my heart to say,
Thy will be done.
Though dark my path inside my lot,
Let me be still and murmur not,
Or breathe prayer divinely taught,
Thy will be done.
And if my fainting heart be blessed,
With the Holy Spirit for its guest,
My God to Thee I leave the rest,
Thy will be done.
If Thou should call me to resign
what most I prize never was mine,
I only leave Thee what is Thine,
Thy will be done.
And when on earth I breathe no more,
The prayer I've mixed with tears before,
I'll sing upon that joyful shore,
Thy will be done.
Justin and I came back to the house. I had one last request... a coke with vanilla from sonic and a red box movie. Shortly after we began the redbox movie (within 30-45 minutes), I feel asleep in Justin's arms.
A perfect 25...
Friday, April 8, 2011
The idea of success has come in and out of my mind lately. What is its measure? How do I know when I have obtained success? It is something I have strived for both consciously and subconsciously. The desire to achieve this often undefinable thing always seems to be before me.
These thoughts began flooding my mind once again about two weeks ago. I was praying that God would define success for my life and that I would learn to be content to live and strive for his definition. I concluded that being obedient and joyful in that obedience was true success... following my master and being happy in the pursuit is the key.
Saying that and living it, however, have proven to be two very different things. It is easy to say the words... to internalize the words. There are so many other deceptive definitions of success though that skew true success. Money, career, quality of life, possessions, etc. All these things take my mind off of following Christ and leave me on an unending rat race for more.
I currently have absolutely NO job security. This week, I will find out whether or not my contract is being renewed. Some days in the past few weeks have been beautiful: striving to follow Christ. Other days, I have been extremely stressed... striving to figure out a back-up plan that will make me the most money without having to sell my soul to the job. And in reality, when I say days... I really mean some hours and some minutes. I have good and bad moments every day. I am but a mere pendulum .
Needless to say, whatever happens, I know that as long as I am seeking Christ, true success cannot be taken from me.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
In need of prayer...
I know that this statement is very true... and yet, it is very difficult to follow through. Often, I feel very alone in the struggle.
Knowing I need to pray and devote time to hearing God and yet struggling to find the time to sit in His presence.
And those moments when I do sit, my mind wanders... I lack focus.
Even when I have time set aside and my mind remains focus, I struggle with wondering if I hear God. I question... was that really God? Did I make that up? Did I base what I believe God told me based upon my own feelings?
And those moments that I know beyond a doubt I hear, I want to savor and sit in His overwhelming presence forever.
I want those moments of listening and hearing more and more. The journey is trying and often painful as God answers prayers in ways that shake my worldview and life.
After talking with friends the past month or so, I realize that I am not alone in this struggle. I think there is great power in prayer and great power in community. Imagine the possibilities if those combined... prayer and community.
So... I desire to start a prayer meeting in our house. Often, we believers get together to pray. We spend more time sharing requests and talking.... Then, we awkwardly transition into prayer for about five minutes because we "ran out of time." I want more. I want people to come knowing the expectation that they come in, silent their hearts, pray earnestly that we want to hear from God and then wait until He speaks. I want our home to be a place where the goodness of the Lord is written upon the walls. Lord, let it be.
Monday, March 28, 2011
How do I know if it is God? This has been my heart cry for many weeks, months, possibly years now. A few weeks ago, I felt graced by the Spirit. I felt as if I was in His presence... clean, redeemed, content. I did not want to leave His presence. His Spirit seemed to linger and then the next moment was gone. I have longed to be there continually... just to sit before Him.
This past weekend, I continued this journey in listening prayer.
I have never been good at staying focused during prayer and usually my mind is consumed with other thoughts: things I need to get done, planning lessons for school, trying to plan meals for the week, simply just making mental to-do lists.
So, here I am Sunday morning, trying to ask God questions burdening my heart eagerly hoping that He will answer. I felt His presence once again. When I felt Him join our prayer time, I didn't care if He answered my questions... I mean, I wanted Him to, but I was so grateful to just feel Him near me. I did hear Him speak, but one thing stood out more than anything else. I kept begging Him to stay with me a little longer and I believe with all my heart that He responded, "I will never leave you." It happened many times.
That was yesterday morning. I went to church and invited Him to join us.... to reveal Himself and He is faithful in answering prayers. I felt His presence join me once again. It was a beautiful time of worship... I wanted to be no where else in the world. I remember Psalm 51 where it says, "Cast me not from your presence and take not your spirit from me." I thought a moment about what life would be like without even that fading presence and I felt hopeless. So my heart cry became PLEASE never cast me from your presence.
After community dinner, I just wanted to sit in His presence. Justin and I did some listening prayer. We questioned what we were supposed to do in our future... seeking guidance, clarity, and confirmation. God seemed so silent, and yet I so desperately wanted Him to speak. We began asking if we were asking the wrong questions. It was then that I realized something stood in between the present and our future. He revealed that my identity has been so intertwined with my job or future role(s). I was getting caught up in who I was according to the world. Justin encouraged me to ask God who He saw me as. At first I thought the question was silly because I knew what I was supposed to say... God was silent though. I heard nothing. But what I saw was everything... before me, lay a cross. That is what I am supposed to identify with.
This weekend, I spent some time reflecting on 2 Corinthians 4:11. "For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh."
I am to identify with Christ. I am to die with Christ that His life may be revealed in my mortal body. May the cross be ever before me.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Spring Break: fun, relaxing, restful, intentional, restorative, spontaneous, and so much more!
On Friday, March 11th, I came home determined to finish all that fell in the school category. I graded papers until 12:30 AM, but I finished!
On Saturday, my hubby and I woke up to celebrate the beginning of Griffin and Lisa's marriage. It was a beautiful day, and it ended with beautiful community. I am so grateful for college friends... time passes and it could be months between our meetings, but I love how it takes no time at all for us to pick up where we left off.
On Sunday, I spent some time with my sister and her two kids. I love my niece and nephew and never get enough time with them. After that, we went to church and community dinner. Then, we began packing. It was a bit stressful... usually I am more on top of things than that.
Monday, J and I rose early (around 5:30 AM) and went to the airport. We arrived in Miami and took a cab to our cruise ship. This was our first cruise together, and it was wonderful! We needed this time to rest and relax, to put away the media and devote time to each other, and just to run away and have fun!
Funny story from Monday... I thought we were arriving home on Friday night. I had a full Saturday planned... I was going to go to a friend's baby shower and then my mom and I were going to plant shrubs in my front yard. I was really looking forward to this day! After talking with a crew member, I realized we weren't getting back until Saturday evening... WHAT?!?! I immediately began to panic. Fortunately, our airline tickets back were for the correct day... I just didn't know what day the 19th really was.
Also, on Monday, we met some people who became instant friends. J and Collin instantly bonded over zombies.
Tuesday, we spent a day at sea on our way to Honduras. J and I relaxed at the back of the boat watching the waves and reading. We spent some time in the Whirlpool, at enormous amounts of food, went to the evening show, and hung out with our new friends.
On Wednesday, we landed in Honduras and began our adventure. We grabbed a cab and headed to a lovely beach... so picturesque! When we got back on the boat, we had to jump in the jacuzzi to get the sand off... bummer! That evening, we went to eat at the grand restaurant... I got two desserts (I couldn't choose)! We finished the day with a comedian, but I retired before the show was over. Between the rocking of the boat and the sun, I was exhausted!
On Thursday, we landed in Cozumel. Another beautiful day and another beautiful beach. J and I took the ultimate adventure. We rented a car... half the time, Justin couldn't find the right gear because the stick rotated a full 360 degrees. I don't know much about driving stick but even I know that that is not normal. We went to visit some ancient Mayan ruins which were a bit anti climatic and then headed to the beach. We went out on paddle boats, played a large game of checkers, hung out in the hammocks (I miss them a lot!), and walked along the white sandy shore. When we arrived back on the boat, we hit the jacuzzi again and then gobbled up a lot of food. That evening, the show was a comedian juggler... absolutely amazing! He rode a unicycle with a 60 year old woman on his shoulders. After that, we met our friends on the back of the boat. While there, we met another guy, Eric, who was part of an acapella group on the ship, Tideflats. He was really fun, and he and Justin became instant friends over Arrested Development. Needless to say, we made it to the rest of the Tideflats shows and really enjoyed hanging out with him.
On Friday, we had another day at sea. A lot of relaxing, reading, spending time in the Whirlpool, dreaming about our future together, and more relaxing. We spent the evening soaking up our time with Amy, Collin, and Eric at the back of the boat. I will never forget the brightness of the moon, the swiftness of the wind, and the sound of the waves; quite delightful!
On Saturday, after a 10 hour day of traveling, we finally arrived home in Houston. This trip was all I needed and more. I am so grateful for the time spent with my hubby.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Yesterday was a wonderful day... family lunch with mom, dad, and lil sis. Time to catch up with college friends to celebrate bride-to-be, Lisa... but to top it all off, I came home to my wonderful hubby.
I feel like my hubby and I communicate fairly well... we definitely have our moments, and there are some subjects one or the other try to avoid (i.e. scheduling, money, etc.)
Last night, I got home around 11, and J was in a mood to just be with me. It was wonderful. We curled up in bed and had some old-fashioned pillow talk. We joked, shared what we were learning, picked on one another, laughed, and more than anything, just loved the company... I came to the realization once again that this man is the one whom my soul loves and it is such a privilege to share life together.
Friday, March 4, 2011
This week was VERY long... it all began last Sunday.
I got in very early on Sunday morning from a girls' Vegas trip with my mom for her 50th. On Sunday, my hubby took my car to his parent's church, and I woke up slowly and eventually headed out to run some errands. I hopped in his car feeling ready to be productive. Unfortunately, the camry did not agree... I drove less than a mile, dropped it off at an Auto Check in front of our neighborhood and walked home. Later that day, we learned that the car pretty much needed a new engine. And that began the longest, most stressful week of this entire school year.
Coming off of a fun weekend, I did not spend much time thoroughly planning my week, so I have felt behind in my school work. I cannot seem to catch up with grading. Additionally, Justin and I had to carpool to work which would have been great but we work about 45 minutes away from one another with traffic.
On top of that, we did our taxes and found out we owed money... Therefore, this lead to much anxiety about money especially knowing that we are now car shopping. Thankfully, Paw is gracious enough to let J borrow a car until we get all of this sorted out.
Needless to say, I am so thankful for Friday. This will soon be a weekend of rest, relaxation, and preparation for the week!
This week will definitely be much better... how can it not be when spring break is only FIVE school days away!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
This weekend, I experienced a lot of firsts: first girls trip with my aunts, mom, and granny; first trip to Vegas, first slot machine (I did not gamble much; I don't like throwing money away); first Vegas show, first time I came home to a wonderfully clean home thanks to my hubby!
Here's how it went down:
On Thursday, I left school early and headed out of town with my mom. On Friday, she turned 50! I am so grateful for the opportunity to celebrate with her; she is a wonderful mom and friend.
In the airport on our way to Vegas
We got in late Thursday night. My aunts and granny picked us up from the airport and we drove
along the strip. While I enjoyed the city life, I would not want to live there and I did not enjoy how much they objectified women. Despite that fact, I had a GREAT time! We got to our hotel room which is a fun little story in itself. My aunt booked the room on craigslist (who knew you could do that and it be safe?!?). We were staying in the Jockey Club (how many of you have ever heard of that before?). The Jockey Club is a little hotel room in between the giant Cosmopolitan. I know the picture is a little hard to see, but the Jockey club is the bright lights down below (this is the top of the building) and the bright lights above is the Cosmopolitan. Anyway, the Cosmopolitan opened two months ago and it is beautiful inside. We had to find a little sign that said Jockey Club, enter in a parking garage that had barricades everywhere because of construction and enter the Jockey Club. Fortunately, it was really nice inside. Perfect for a group of 5 and fairly cheap per night. It was a suite with two bedrooms (3 beds) and two baths with a kitchenette.
Back to Thursday night, we went along the strip and then went to the Jockey Club. We played 31 together, had a cocktail, ordered a pizza, and just hung out together. I really enjoyed getting to relax and be with the girls.
Friday, we woke up, had some coffee cake, and then headed out along the strip. Our first stop was the Bellagio. It was beautiful! We walked around the gardens, toured the bakery, saw the pools, and took in all the intricate details.
When we entered the hotel, there was this huge horse. I told my mom we had to take a picture in front of the golden horse in honor of her golden birthday!
This is the ceiling of the Bellagio lobby. Beautiful glass, right!
The bunny was in the Bellagio... they had beautiful gardens. It is in honor of the year of the rabbit.
The worlds largest chocolate fountain!
After that, we headed to New York, New York. This looked so neat from the outside, but it was really windy!
My mom, aunts, and granny are on the steps at the bottom of the picture!
My mom with her lucky 50 glasses on at New York, New York!
We left and continued walking along the strip. We stopped and had
Fatburger for lunch. It was
really yummy. I also saw the largest motorcycle coming out of a Harley Davidson store. I took a picture of it for my dad.
After some walking, we went back to the Jockey Club and had some birthday cake. Then, we had a wedding to go to! This was the show: Tony and Tina's wedding. It was really funny and I even got to lead my first conga line! The groom even danced with my granny... I think this made the bride mad! ;)
On our last day there (Saturday), we visited the Venetian, Palazzo, and Wynn. It was very interesting to see how the gondola ran through the Venetian. We also had lunch there and did a little shopping. I found a $.79 shirt in a souvenir shop inside the Venetian. That was my big win of the weekend!
Overall, it was a beautiful weekend celebrating the life of a beautiful mother and friend. I love you Cathy Kemberling and am so happy and blessed to call you mom!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Busy is the watchword.
While this weekend was quite wonderful, it was still quite busy. A lot of planning and preparation went into the festivities. Monday was a staff development day. I was not quite prepared to jump right back into the work week, but I did anyway. Knowing that I was going to take a half day today and a full day off tomorrow, I pushed myself really hard this week. Not only did I need to prepare all the details of my lessons for this week, but I also only had half the week to prepare for next week. Since I am going out of town for my mom's 50th, I feel like I can't rely on this weekend to get things done.
This past weekend, we decided to go on an Alaskan cruise this summer with all of J's family. I am really excited but was nervous about the lack of winter clothes I had in my closet that do not look tattered and worn after this cold winter. So... I knew Monday was my only spare night to get some winter shopping done when clothes were on sale. I knew if I waited, it would be slim pickings. We went to Kohls and I found some great deals. I bought a short-sleeve top, a sweater, a light athletic jacket, a coat, a cardigan, a scarf, and a necklace all for around $98. I saved over $285. I love deals.
On Tuesday, we has small group at our house. I stayed a little after work to input some lessons and do "teacher stuff". When I arrived home, J and I began cleaning and cooking. The Nicholsons came by early to talk to us about future plans. It was a wonderful moment of rest in the midst of a crazy day. When other people started arriving, I knew it was back to work and I began playing hostess while trying to prepare little surprises for my mom's 50th. Around 9:45, people headed home and I kept on working.
Then Wednesday rolled around... I had the most productive planning period EVER! I input all my reading lessons for next week, I printed out papers for my class, I got scantrons for their test, I got my sub plans together... I just maximized every minute. That evening, I began hitting my figurative wall. I made J one of his favorites dinners. It is this Chinese dish with broccoli. After that, we met a Turkish family for dessert at Baklava Cafe. It was very enjoyable.
I am really grateful for a new family friend. Justin has been meeting many new people lately but many of the men he meets are not married; it is a joy for there to be a family that we can both go visit.
After that, I had to pull together my gifts for my mom. It all came together just in time. Around 11, I crashed. And at 5:30... the alarm beckoned me to begin once again.
I snoozed for a good 45 minutes, but finally had to pull myself out of bed because I had a meeting at school at 7:30. And here I am... at home... waiting for my mom so we can go to the airport. I am pretty tired. May this mini-vacation be restful enough to pull through two more weeks until spring break.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Sometimes I sit down to write with nothing to write about but just a desire to write. Other times, I have a ton to write and no time to sit and write it all down. Well, this is more of the latter. This weekend was a wonderful weekend. I don't want to forget all that happened because it was very special indeed.
Friday: We had a full house. It was wonderful. We told Justin's parents that we wanted to spend the evening with Lizzy and Caitlin. Everyone was in on the birthday surprise for J's parents except for Lizzy. We had a wonderful Chick Fil A dinner with Lizzy and then Caitlin and Mark joined us. Before we knew it, it was time to pick up the biggest surprise... Eric and Amy! Lizzy had no idea! Everyone came back to our house to spend the night.
Saturday: the day of the big, surprise party for J's parent's 50th!
The girls woke up and began running errands picking up last minute items for the party. We had a wonderful lunch at none other than Chick Fil A. I really love J's family. After this we ran up to the Cypress area and began decorating.
The centerpieces: tissue paper flowers, dove chocolates (Julie's favorite), Maple Nut Goodies and twizzlers (Vince's favorites).
We had a few close calls with J's parents, but they remained completely out of the loop. The anxiety was building in the 5 to 6 o'clock hour. Finally, they arrived... boy, were they surprised!
SIDENOTE: Lizzy made the birthday banner in the back and did a great job! A few of my favorite thoughts on it are: "Your an old cupel.", "Your old geezzers!", "Were Selabating!", "Your old really fifty years old.", and "Your weird." So cute... I love it!
After the party, we went to the Elder household and spent time together as a family. It felt like Christmas all over again which made Monday came WAY too soon.
Sunday: We went to RCF and had leftovers from the party with the family.
Overall, the weekend was beautiful, refreshing, and encouraging. I loved every minute of it! Happy birthday Julie and Vince!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
This morning I read a friend's blog. This woman was my mentor my sophomore year of college. When I think of her, I think intentional, wise, discerning, adventurous, content, free.
Even though it has been years since I have seen Liza Sharp, she still encourages me.
After reflecting on who Liza is in my life, I thought back to my sophomore year of college when she mentored me. That year was one of the most beautiful years of my life... there was healing, wisdom, contentedness, joy, celebration, community, prayer, and so much more.
At the time, I was single and loving being single. I shared life closely and openly with a dear group of girlfriends who I still consider some of my closest friends. My room was ALWAYS a mess and I NEVER watched TV. I was only in my room to sleep and I had a ton on my plate. But... I prayed and studied more than I ever have. If I look back, I know I was walking with God.
The past couple of weeks, my husband and I have been hungry to hear from the Lord. We desperately need guidance and discernment. We are calling on Him but don't know if it is His voice or our emotions. After reflecting on that beautiful year in college, I think my answer for today is to live the questions. To live intentionally, quietly, celebratory, and wait upon the Lord. I need to hold the future with open hands and just live today for that is all that I have really been given.
Thank you Lord for new perspective.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The past couple of days have been full of celebrations.
On Friday night, I got a call from one of my best girl friends saying that she was engaged. Congrats Ashley!!!
On Sunday, my family gathered at Dave and Busters to celebrate my mom's 50th birthday, my brother's 32nd birthday, and my brother-in-law's 40th birthday! I love every opportunity that I get to spend with my family. They are a gift that I never want to take advantage of. I got to play a horse racing game with Addie... she can be SO much fun! I love that little girl. She also has a sassy side. On Sunday, she was asking her Doda (my mom) a question, and I asked, "What do you want?" Her response was, "I am not talking to you, I was talking to Doda." And Brody... he is growing so much! His personality is really starting to shine... I can't wait to watch him grow up!
Then, it was Valentine's Day. My hubby and I have never really fallen into the commercial aspect of the day. He might buy me a potted tulip (which usually dies because of my brown thumb) and write me some sweet notes.
Yesterday, we decided that gifts were not important but spending time intentionally together was. I woke early and surprised him with breakfast taquitos in bed. Then, I made him a yummy steak with mashed potatoes, mac 'n cheese, and green beans. It sure was yummy. While I made dinner, my hubby got my a diet coke with vanilla which I rarely let myself have, but I was really craving one. The hubby also surprised with some chocolate covered strawberries and a little plant that he said was very hardy (I hope for the best). We took a long walk and talked and just enjoyed one another's company. I really love that man; he is my best friend. He is good for me. Happy Valentine's Day beloved!
Overall, it was a beautiful time of celebration! I am so excited about Vegas with my mom for her 50th! Let's continue to bring on the good times!