9/20/17

Summer Vacation Part II - NO KIDS!

I was sitting down to start the itinerary for our upcoming trip in November to an undisclosed location (it's a surprise birthday trip for Eli who may read this blog, so if you really want to know where we are headed, check out my facebook!), and I figured I needed to finish up our summer vacation blog before I got too bogged down with pictures!

My parents were so awesome to take the boys for an entire week so that Norman and I could get away, so we spent a week in Las Vegas.  It was sooooo nice to be able to sleep in, eat at nice restaurants, do cool things like go ziplining down Fremont Street and see the Hoover Dam as well as raft down the Colorado River.  I'm not going to spend forever talking about the trip...I thought a picture post would be more fun, so here are some of my favorite pictures!

Ready for our rafting trip!
Hoover Dam

Colorado River
On the left side of the picture you can see a hot spring that is coming out of the side of the cave wall.  The Colorado River temp is around 55 degrees, but that hot spring has the temperature of about 105!


Mountain Sheep...yes, they call them sheep...not goats.  Not sure why.  I took this with my mega zoom lens, and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality I got from such a far distance.  These animals were WAAAAY up on a cliff!

Fremont Street

Wearing hospital gowns to eat at the Heartattack Cafe!



We went ziplining down Fremont Street!

Here we are with our harnesses on, ready to zipline!


Awww!  Love him!


This is the largest piece of the Titanic ever recovered.  It's part of the ships hull.


Bellagio Gardens




A performer at a Cirque Du Soleil show


8/31/17

Summer Vacation 2017


I can't believe the last post I published was in June...before school let out.  I still remember the desperation I felt in March absolutely needing summer break to come, and now here we are, already into the second week of school.  Is it too soon to feel desperation for summer break for 2018?! haha

We had the busiest summer on record.  I think that's why I'm needing a re-do...it was completely and utterly exhausting in the best possible way. I'm going to just make a quick summary, because lets be honest...if you read this blog, you probably look at my Instagram and Facebook posts and have seen the pics already.

From July 1-8 we took a family vacation to Washington D.C., and Williamsburg, VA.  It was absolutely amazing.  The craziest thing happened to us not long after we landed in DC...We happened to make a FB post saying that we were in town, and an old friend who was once our neighbor at Wright-Patt AFB, shot us a message saying that she and her son were singing at the Kennedy Center at an event that President Trump was speaking at, and she had free tickets for us if we could make it!  Ummm...yes we absolutely could make it, and we did, by going on a massive last minute shopping spree, freshening up and getting ready in the dressing room of a JC Penney, and praying we wouldn't get mistaken for thieves.  I just could NOT stomach the idea of getting ready for an event at the Kennedy Center in a 7-11 bathroom, and luckily we didn't have to.  It was such a crazy, wonderful experience, and we could not be more grateful to Leah for her reaching out to us the way she did.


After that amazing event, we then made our way down to Williamsburg, VA to experience the history and visit Jamestown.  We went on a ghost hunting tour that had us traipsing all over Williamsburg and William and Mary College at 11pm, spent an entire day in Williamsburg wandering the town and eating at all the taverns we could fit in, and we watched live demonstrations of musket shootings, toured the old Capitol, the Governor's Mansion, and got to really take a step back in time.  We also did our first "real" family photo session in the historical section of Willamsburg, and it turned out so beautifully.  We used Love Snapped Photography, so if you are ever in Willamsburg and want to document your family vacation there, Melanie is the woman for the job.  Our photos are amazing, and not only do we now have updated family pictures, we have amazing momentos of our time spent there.




We spent a day at Jamestown Settlement learning about the colonists and the Powhatans and their way of life, stayed for the Fourth of July celebrations there on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion, and it was truly something to experience.  I highly recommend doing this at least once in your life.  Hearing the fifes and drums and seeing everyone dressed in colonial clothing made for an amazing experience.


The picture to the right is of the boys in the Powhatan village at Jamestown grinding corn like they did back then.  It definitely counted toward one of Eli's school days since he's homeschooled.  There is no better education than hands-on learning, and I only regret that we can't do more of it.  I'm so grateful for the experiences that we are able to give the kids.

From there we made our way back up to D.C., and had THE BEST TIME.  We miss D.C. so much...I can't even explain how much.  We had such a limited amount of time there, but we were able to get out to the Washington Monument, visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the American History Museum, the Holocaust Museum, the National Archives, see the White House, go by the Treasury Department,  eat at Tortilla Coast (THE best Mexican restaurant in the whole U.S. lol) and eat at our favorite date night spot, Old Ebbit Grill.  We even got to drive past our old apartment building, see the park where the boys used to play, and drive around some of the old familiar streets that still feel like home.


Here is a picture of the boys with the Easter Island statue at the Natural History museum.  I take their photo with this guy EVERY time we visit, and someday I need to compile all the pictures to see how they have grown with every visit.  We are headed back to DC in September, and I figure I'll get another picture of them with it...it's just one of those "must have pictures" I do when we go.  



And then here's a couple pics from the Air and Space Museum...



What was particularly neat is that while we were in Williamsburg, we got to see the musical 1776 on the 4th of July.  Given where we were, and the timing...it couldn't have been more perfect.  Then to head up to D.C. and go to the National Archives where we could see the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, the Constitution...it was just amazing for the kids.  Reading about that stuff from history books from a classroom does absolutely nothing for the majority of kids.  But bringing it to life for them and having them see these documents first hand...it makes me feel that in spite of all my failings as a parent, that I'm able to do something right for my kids. And perhaps the most surprising thing of all is how much my kids loved 1776.  They remembered it...Thomas Jefferson was brought to life for them...so when they saw the documents...read the names...it resonated with them in a more personal way.  And a few weeks after we got home I was very shocked to see them watching 1776 all on their own.  That was a really, really neat moment for me.

I am so very thankful to have a husband who works so hard so that we can give our kids this kind of life...this way of educating them and helping them understand history and develop a love for learning.  Chase is so inquisitive so classroom learning does reach him...but Eli learns differently, and it's these experiences that he soaks up like a sponge and helps him want to keep learning.  I absolutely cannot wait until we can get back to D.C. for another round of "in person history lessons".

This summer was also filled with lots of time with our friends....nights out at Sambuca, card game nights with friends, long term visits from out of town friends, and helping friends get moved up to Dallas from south Texas.  We had visitors more often than we didn't this summer, and we are just so blessed to not only be able to have our evenings filled with swim parties and friends and cookouts, but that we can open our home to friends who need a place to stay whether that means days or weeks.  The kids turned into fish this summer, and I am planning on at least another few swim nights with the crew before we see the end of summer.
 Just because school has started doesn't mean our swimming parties have to end :).  



So this catches me up at least on the family vacations and family time we had this summer...my next post will be about Norman's and my trip to Vegas.  Yep, we actually got away for an entire week by OURSELVES!!!!  :)  Oh how we needed that break, and we wouldn't even really truly realize just how much we would need that time together until now...we have had so much going on with helping friends move and now Hurricane Harvey that I haven't seen Norman much at all, so we are truly thankful for my parents taking the boys and giving us a break.  Okay...time for Eli to get to work on his math, which is online, so I need to turn over my computer to him.

I hope and pray everyone stays safe who is helping out with disaster relief, and I pray for rest for relief workers because I know they are burning the candle at both ends.  Prayers for all those affected as well; I simply cannot imagine.

Ciao friends!

6/1/17

Date Nights, Awards, and Fort Hood


For so long Norman and I didn't do date nights...at all.  Whether it was due to us being stationed somewhere where we didn't know anyone whom we trusted enough to watch the kids, or whether it was that we couldn't afford to pay a sitter an enormous amount AND have a date too...it just didn't happen.  As the kids are getting older and we are getting more and more settled in, we have started doing regular date nights, and I am here to tell you just how important they are. 

It is so easy to get caught up in a rut of doing the day to day things...job, kids, household chores...and just keep putting it off.  Admittedly there are some nights that we have reservations somewhere, and deep down I'm wishing I could throw on my pj's and watch Netflix.  But having that time to ourselves...as adults who have a relationship that needs nurturing is so important, and I'm always glad that I power through being exhausted sometimes and go out anyway.  

We tend to go to the same few places, and they feel like they are 'our' spots.  It's so nice to get that part of our relationship back, so I would like to encourage you that if you aren't making date night a priority...DO IT!  Lately we have been going every Friday OR Saturday night (just one night a week!!), and it makes our weeks so nice, knowing that no matter what stresses we may have during the week, we have that to look forward to.  

Here are a couple photos we took on two different date nights. 




Last Friday we had to go to Temple for a funeral, and on the way back, we stopped and did some shopping at Fort Hood.  It was so surreal to be on a military post again, and it really was nostalgic.  It made Norman so happy be on post, and it was really fun for me to watch him light up.  It was so weird to pull out our ID's and to see him get saluted at the gate.  It feels like so long ago that that was our everyday life.  


And finally, to get me completely caught up on here, yesterday Chase had his awards ceremony for his running club.  The goal was to run 100 miles this school year, and he did it!  He ran a total of 111 miles, and we are super proud of him.  He has one more day of school left, and he is actually pretty devastated about the year coming to a close.  He has had two wonderful teachers, and they have encouraged his love of learning, for which we are truly grateful.  

                                         

This weekend Norman and I have date night Friday, then our crew of 4 couples is going out to celebrate the end of the school year for our kiddos.  Nothing says school is out for summer and we can turn the alarms off like dancing to an awesome 80's cover band.  I am really excited.  I am a horrible dancer, but the food is absolutely delicious and Norman and I just have a really good time with our friends, who aren't embarrassed by my lack of coordination.  :)  

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend and a wonderful start to your summer! I look forward to seeing all the vacation photos on all the blogs I follow, as well as on FB and Instagram!  If you don't follow me there, go ahead and start bc I post more pics on there.  

Have a great day!

Ciao!

5/19/17

Photo Catch Up!

Holy smokes it's been awhile since I posted!  Things are starting to pick up the closer we get to summer, and I am not sure if I should be scared or excited! So much has been going on, so I'll try to quickly bring the blog up to speed.

A few week ago, some dear friends came to visit, and we got to take the kiddos to Medieval Times.  We love that place!  



The following week we had Chase's elementary school festival, and then we had date night with friends at one of our favorite places in Dallas, Sambuca 360. 

 

For Mother's Day weekend, we took a very quick trip up to Wichita, Kansas to see Norman's best friend from childhood graduate with her doctorate.  We worked it out with her mom so that it would be a surprise, and it was so worth the drive to get to surprise her!  They were sweet to snap a family photo for us. We also got to take the boys to Eskimo Joes, so that was a total bonus! GO POKES!  :)




After the reception, we drove on to Oklahoma City, spent the night, and then spent Sunday, Mother's Day, with my family at church then at the farm.  

 



And that brings us up to the present.  I have posted some other photos on Instagram, so follow me there if you want to see pictures of my mom's chicken coop that has a brand new chandelier :).  No wonder they say free range chickens are happier...they live in little mini coop mansions! 

We have date night this weekend out with my best friend and her husband and friends for her birthday, and ironically enough we are going to Sambuca! Yay! We are super happy for only 8 more days of school, then the summer chaos begins.  We have lots of travel and visitors on the agenda for the next few months, so I am ready to get it started.  Two trips to D.C., Williamsburg, Las Vegas, Charleston, Oklahoma, and company visiting us - both friends and family, plus lots of swimming with friends and getting a tan is also on the schedule.  Bring on summer!  I hope you all have lots of fun things planned with your families and get to make some lasting memories!  

Ciao Peeps!


4/4/17

Houston Rodeo and Fun With Friends

My computer decided to bite the dust a few weeks ago, so I've been (impatiently) waiting for my new baby to come in.  My last two computers were colored...pink followed up by red, so decided to change things up this time and go with teal :).  It's the little things that make me happy, and looking at this pretty color cheers me up.  Unfortunately about a week after mine died, Norman's computer decided to die as well, so he is currently waiting on his to come in.  We should be set computer wise for awhile...unless our desktop decides to bite the dust too, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that it holds together for a while longer.  Eli does a lot of his school work on it though, so that one is pretty necessary around here.




We have been pretty busy here so this post will be a brief catch up on what we've been up to. One thing I will say is that we have been super lucky to have bought a house with a heated pool.  We have been taking advantage of it, and the boys have had friends over to swim and play pool basketball as well as us having our own friends over for cookouts and relaxing time with our family friends.  The kiddos love the pool lights that change colors, and it is just such a fun way to spend time together with family and friends, I will never live in a house without a pool...and a heated pool at that :).  We are very blessed to not only have the pool for our own kids, but for us to have to spend time with friends and neighbors.



Two weekends ago, I got to go to the amazing Houston Rodeo, with my husband's cousin for a girls weekend, and the rodeo and Brad Paisley concert was absolutely amazing.  My favorite events are the calf scramble and the mutton bustin', which we got to see.  It was so nice to get away and experience a little country atmosphere at the rodeo.  It felt like coming home in a lot of ways, and it made me miss my stockshow days.  We decided to make this a yearly thing, but I also came home telling Norman that I want to make it a family thing too...the boys would have loved it!



When I got home on Sunday night, we were hit by a major hail storm...what a way to kick off the spring storm season!  I love the spring storms, but I could definitely do without the hail and tornadoes.


Last night I hosted the neighborhood ladies book club.  The book was The Shack, but I have to be honest and say that I hated it and found it difficult to get through.  I don't agree from a religious standpoint with so much of what was in the book, that once I got to the 63% mark in the book I had to just stop reading it altogether.  It was nice to meet a bunch of women in my neighborhood, though, and we snacked, had wine, and there was a lot of laughing and crazy story telling.  I definitely need to up my walking to get rid of all the snacking I did.  :)  The best part of the evening was after all the ladies left, I got about an hour or so to just talk with my best friend.  We never take the time to just catch up because we are both busy going different directions, but we have decided another girls trip is in order, so we have started planning a trip for this summer.  We went to NYC two summers ago, and we are looking forward to making new memories and getting to explore another part of the country.  I am very thankful for the fact that we have husbands who don't mind letting us take off and leave them in charge of the kiddos. Our tentative plan is to start out in Charleston and visit some historic battleground sites, do a haunted battlefield tour or two, visit some plantations, and work our way up the coast a bit hitting a lot of the historic sites.  I am really looking forward to it!

Between that trip, and the family trip Norman and I are taking with the kids (Williamsburg, VA, over the 4th of July, and then finishing up with a few days in D.C.), I am going to get an awesome amount of historical travel in.  I am so excited and ready for that.

So on that note, I'm gonna wind this up. On our agenda, we have small group tomorrow, Eli has art class and youth group, then Constitution Class (maybe) on Thursday, and hopefully swimming this weekend!  :) You all have a fantastic week!

Ciao Peeps!


3/18/17

Family, Friends, and Growing Pains







Our Spring Break was earlier than I think most of the country's, so it was tough trying to get back into a routine while seeing everyone else's vacation photos.  We got really lucky though, that my cousin's kiddos were on Spring Break this past week and came to visit my aunt and uncle who live near us.  On Tuesday, we were able to get the kiddos together for some time at Urban Air Trampoline Park, and then we had fun swimming at our house and had a cookout.  The boys adore the girls, so we were so happy to get to spend time with them.


I took Eli clothes shopping on Thursday because he said his shoes were getting a big snug.  My child has jumped from size 10 to size 12 in men's shoes, and we had to basically buy him an entire new wardrobe.  He is only 13, but he's nearly 5'8" and wears a size 32 length in pants.  INSANE!  He's definitely been hitting some major growth spurts.

Last night...Friday, Norman and I had a bit of an insane day, so we relieved our frustrations by whacking golf balls at Top Golf with some friends of ours.  The food was really good, as well as the company :), and I actually hit the ball, so I call the evening a complete success.  I can definitely feel it in my shoulders today!

  

I am super excited for this upcoming weekend...I am meeting a friend for a girls weekend at the Houston Rodeo, and we are going to see Brad Paisley!  It's my first time trying out AirBnB, so I'll be sure to take lots of photos.  I'm also struggling to find any cowboy boots that I actually like, which should be a crime in Texas, but my goal is to find them before Wednesday.

That's about all for now.  We are staying super busy and just looking forward to summer.  I think I write that every post, but seriously...we are so over this school year already.  I'm not ready for storm season though.  This has already been a crazy storm season, and we haven't even started it yet.  Between being hit by the tornado on Christmas Day and getting stuck in a tornado warning/town shut down when we were on our Spring Break in Branson, MO, I am dreading what may happen once we actually get into the busy spring storm season.  I guess I'll just say my prayers and cross my fingers and toes that I've met the quota for this lifetime.

I'll post rodeo/concert photos next week!  Have a great rest of your weekend peeps!  XOXO

3/11/17

Spring Break 2017




Spring Break for our school district came earlier than most other districts, so when we decided to take a last minute trip to Branson, MO, it was easy to book our trip.  Branson gets sort of a bad name...a lot of people think it's only for the over 50 crowd, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  It's one of our favorite places to visit, and since it's only a 7 hour drive, it's an easy trip for us to make.

We did a lot of relaxing in our condo and enjoyed eating at some really fun places.  We got to see an amazing show called Moses at the Sight and Sound Theatre.  The sets were amazing...they blew a lot of actual broadway show sets that I have seen out of the water.  From a flying angel to animals running around the theatre...it was absolutely amazing. Go to YouTube and look up a trailer to the show; it will be running another 8 months or so, and it is so worth the trip to go check it out. 
              

We also got to visit a really hands on zoo, which was pretty amazing.  We all got to feed alligators, sea turtles, and sharks, and even better than that, we got to get into an enclosure with Dingos and play with them for about 20 minutes!  They were super sweet, and the smallest one loved to be carried around, which Chase just ate up.  He carried him around like a baby pretty much the whole time we were in there.  



We also visited the Butterfly Palace.  I have been wanting to visit there for a very long time, and it did not disappoint.  They give you a vial of nectar that attracts the butterflies to you, and they literally swarm around you.  Chase was adamant that we absolutely had to go, and I'm so glad we did.  






And of course a vacation isn't a vacation if you don't eat at some amazing places.  Our two favorite places in Branson to eat are Pasghettis and Cakes-n-Creams 50's Diner.

So that about sums up our week!  We love to travel and expose the boys to new adventures.  I am not sure if it's the military life part of me, but I get cabin fever and need to get out and explore. I also think it's super important for the boys to grow up knowing that there is more to life than what is in their hometown.  I am really looking forward to our summer travels; at least we are on the downhill slide to summer.  I think I can, I think I can...

This week we will be getting the boys together with my cousin's kiddos, and I am really excited about that.  I'm so glad to see the kids cultivating relationships with family and growing up with cousins the way I did.  My cousin Chad was like a brother to me during my childhood, so it's really awesome to me that my kiddos get to grow up with theirs.  

Ciao peeps!  Hope you are having a great weekend and have a fantastic upcoming week!