Friday, June 29, 2012

Our 10th Anniversary

Today Mark and I celebrate 10 years of marriage!

Sometimes it feels like our wedding was just yesterday and it also feels like we've always been together.  We've been blessed with 10 good years of marriage.  Things haven't always been perfect, but I feel like we have one of the happiest marriages of anyone I know. 

Mark and I only dated a few months before we got engaged, but I was sure he was the one for me.  I can't explain to someone how you know that a person is right for you, but I can say 10 years later that I'm confident that Mark is still the one for me.  He is my best friend and the love of my life.  I tell young people that the two most important decisions you will ever make in life are the decision to become a Christian and the next most important decision is choosing who you will marry.  I'm thankful I've chosen wisely.

I love looking back at our wedding photos.  I was a little hesitant to share them because they aren't the best quality and our wedding was humble compared to most that I've seen on other blogs.  We had a very simple wedding, and we didn't have a fancy reception.  The day was more about the marriage ceremony, our commitment to each other, and building a life together centered on the Lord.  Despite the humble beginnings, we still think that was one of the best days of our lives.  We were surrounded by loving family and good friends as we started a new journey together.

How fun to look back at those photos from our special day.  I wouldn't change a thing. 

Tonight we will celebrate by having a night out in Dallas.  Will and Ben are spending the night with their cousin Maggie (Mark's brother and his wife are helping watch them, too).  We are planning to go out to eat, see a movie (an indie film at the Angelika Theater), and stay in the city.  We already had our big anniversary trip to Vegas.  We thought 10 years was something special so we wanted one more night to celebrate this milestone.  Now we start making memories for the next 10 years and hopefully many more in the years to come.

Back in May Lauren took some photos of our family and she got these of us.
So 10 years after the photos were taken above, here we are with a little more grey hair, a few more pounds and wrinkles but still happy as can be!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This is a Good Work!

We've made it through 3 days and have 2 days reamining of Vacation Bible School. I keep telling myself, "This is a good work. This is a good work. This is a good work." Rinse and repeat!

I love VBS. I really do. It's just a lot of work.

We had several years at our church where we didn't have VBS. Once my boys started getting older, I really wanted them to have the VBS expereince Mark and I remember having as as children. I loved VBS as a kid, and we wanted Will and Ben to have those same good memories. To bring VBS back to our church I took on the role as planner/coordinator/organizer. Bascially that means I set up a schedule, buy supplies and beg people to teach and help (really, it's not more important than anyone else's job). We have a really small church and it's a challenge to get enough teachers and helpers for each class. Somehow each year, it's always worked out--definitely a God thing. Even though VBS is hard work, it's all worth it. I've always told everyone who helps, that I hope VBS is more of blessing than a burden. I know it encourages me when I see all of the people in our church come together to make it happen. We couldn't do it without them. I couldn't do it without the help of my family either. Mark isn't officially a coordinator, but he might as well be. He runs all the errands with me and gets there early and stays late each day. Last year he even taught the Pre-K and Kindergarten class with me when we couldn't find a teacher (definitely not the comfort zone for two middle school teachers!). My mother-in-law teaches Ben's class and always helps decorate the church building to make it look happy and fun for the kids. Our niece even helps out teaching Will's class. It's an all-in-the-family effort!

I usually don't have time to take photos at VBS because I'm busy running around, but this year I wanted to make an effort to capture some of the fun.

This was taken on Tuesday.  Mark and Will are wearing our VBS shirts from 2010.

On Monday Maggie and Will had on our VBS shirt for this year.

Ben posed in the photo face cutout.  We take photos of all of the children so they can make a photo frame during craft time.

We have a treasure island theme and Ben is wearing one of the big kid's pirate hats.

This year's theme is "the Treasure of the Forgotten Island" seaerching for gems in Proverbs.  So far this has been one of my favorite years.

Hopefully the next two days will be as fun as the first three.  Will and Ben have had a great time and learned a lot so far.  Despite all of the hard work, VBS is a good work.

Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 (ESV)

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fried Chicken

Last weekend (Father's Day weekend) we ate at Babe's Chicken in Frisco.  Babe's serves delicious fried chicken, chicken fried steak and home cooked sides.  It's a popular spot and since there was a wait we walked around to kill time until we were seated.  Around the restaurant there are a lot of old buildings restored.  The boys explored and checked it all out.  Getting to walk around made the wait not seem so long.  You know if you're waiting to be seated that 15 mintues can feel like 15 hours with two hungry, rambunctious, little boys.

Here are some instagram photos I took before and after we ate.  It was really dark inside the reastaurant so I didn't take photos.  And, I was pretty busy stuffing my face with biscuits and I didn't stop to take photos.  The hot biscuits with honey and butter are so good that I probably gained 5 lbs before I even got to the fried chicken!

This is about how much I can get Will and Ben to cooperate for a photo.  If one looks the other one doesn't. 

Knock, Knock! 

Mark's parents with the boys 

 Mamaw Carol and Ben having fun

This was our first trip to Babe's.  We'll definitely be back!

The boys couldn't wait to climb all over this old tractor. 

Future Farmers of America 

You have no idea how much Will loved this mural.  He's all about gas stations and logos right now.  He told me he wanted this painted in his room. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hey Baby, Let's Go To Vegas

At the end of this month, Mark and I will have been married for 10 years!

Since it's a major milestone, we wanted to take a special trip to celebrate and decided that Las Vegas would be the perfect place.  We considered several different places (NYC, San Francisco,  Seattle, Mexico) but chose Las Vegas because we'd both never been.  Also, we got a steal of a deal using Southwest Airlines Vacations.  The other destinations were expensive in comparison.  For example, we were able to get both of our tickets and 3 nights at the Encore for what it would have cost for the airfare for just one of us to NYC. By the way, we booked our trip back in February so that  helped us get a good deal.

The trip was perfect!  We were gone 4 days and 3 nights.  It was just the right amount of time to be away from Will and Ben who were staying with Mark's parents.  I missed them but not so much that I couldn't enjoy myself.  We flew out of Dallas Lovefield on Monday and returned Thursday evening.

We filled our days and nights taking in all that Vegas had to offer.  We walked and walked and walked the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) is around 4 miles.  There's a lot of walking in Vegas!  I was surprised at how close together the casinos looked, but in reality they are far apart.  The Encore is on the northern end of the strip and we saw as many casinos as we could in that walking distance--the Encore, Wynn, Palazzo, Bellagio, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Mirage, Caesars Palace, the Cosmopolitan, and Bally's.  Each one had a distinct theme, style and decor.  We ate at nice restaurants and saw a couple of shows.  We drove to Hoover Dam one day (we rented a car for the 3 days we were there).  And, one important part of the trip for me is that we took time to relax by the pool each day.

On Wednesday we posed for the touristy photo in front of the famous Las Vegas welcome sign.  There's a parking area by the sign. Also there's a lady there who takes your photo and asks tourists to wait one at a time so you have the sign by yourself.  I have no idea if the lady was legit but at least she organized the process where you could pose in front of the sign without anyone else in your photo.  I appreciated that and it was worth the tip we gave her.

This is on Monday, our first night in Vegas.  We changed out of the clothes we traveled in and went to eat and see a show.  This photo was taken in front of the waterfall at the Wynn, which is the casino/resort that is connected to the Encore.  We ate at Emeril Lagasse's restaurant Table 10 at the Palazzo.  The food was very good. Mark had the Kobe beef ribs, and I had gnocchi. 

After our meal, we saw Cirque Du Soleil Mystère at Treasure Island.  Seriously, the athletic ability, skill and strength of the performers is incredible.  I thought it was very entertaining.  On Tuesday night, we saw Jubilee at Bally's.  It's the standard Vegas showgirl act.  It was entertaining, but I preferred Cirque Du Soleil so much more. 

Tuesday morning we woke up pretty early because of the 2-hr time difference.  We decided to walk the Strip.  This is a photo in front of the Venetian.  We didn't ride in a gondola,  but we saw them later that night with people in them.

I've always wanted to eat at Serendipity 3 the two times I've been to NYC.  It never works out for us to go, and Mark made sure that was one place we ate in Vegas.  I loved it!!!  We had the best breakfast I've ever had.  Mark ordered banana cream waffles with fresh berries that was delicious, and I had a tasty cheese omelet with potatoes.  We shared a frozen hot chocolate.  Can you believe this is for one?

Since we consumed probably an entire day's worth of calories at Serendipity, we knew we'd better walk to compensate for all the tasty food we'd been eating.

Caesars Palace is huge!  There are statues and fountains everywhere.  We probably stayed the longest in that casino walking around and looking at the decor.  Also, they had an H&M and I had to buy something.  Ten years ago on our honeymoon to NYC, I bought some clothes at H&M and it was sentimental to buy a few things there on our 10th anniversary. 

Wednesday was our last full day in Vegas and we wanted to tour Hoover Dam.  It's only about a 45 minute drive from Vegas.

This is in one of the tunnels drilled in the 1930s for construction of the dam.

This is a part of the powerplant tour.  Mark is in front of generators N1-N8.  N for Nevada.

View of the generators from the balcony

The elevators that we rode down to the tunnels weren't working properly and we couldn't ride them back up.   We were taken down some tunnels we wouldn't have normally seen because we had to use the old elevators to go back up.  This is a part of the tour route used in the pre-9/11 tour.  More great examples of the Art Deco style were found here.

This photo shows some more Art Deco style.  It was taken on top of the Dam.

View of Lake Mead and the Colorado River

On Wednesday we drove to Fremont Street to see the older downtown part of Vegas.  Driving back to the Strip we saw Las Vegas Gold & Silver Pawn Shop AKA the Pawn Stars pawn shop on the History Channel.

The line wasn't very long when we got there.  We were the second couple in line so we waited about 5 minutes to get inside.  When we left the line extended down the side of the building.  I'm not sure if it would have been worth the wait for 45 minutes.  It's much smaller inside than what we thought.  None of the guys from the show were working while we were there.

I took this after we went inside.  Mark's a huge fan of the show.  I enjoy watching it because I really do learn interesting historical facts.  We saw some of the things that have been on past shows for sale inside.  I'm glad that we stopped by the pawn shop.

Once we were back to the Encore on Wednesday, we walked over to the Wynn Buffet. I ate so much food that I felt sick.  The selection of food was unbelievable.  I sampled so many different things that I usually don't eat--sushi, Yorkshire pudding.

If we look like we're about to bust it's because we are so full!

The light was really good as we walked back to the Encore from the Wynn and everything looked so beautiful.  You can see that red is a prominent color in the decor and there's a butterfly theme.

This is the hallway to our room

Our fancy bathroom with a TV in the wall.

Our room

Our last night in Vegas celebrating 10 wonderful years of marriage.  We couldn't be happier.  I'm lucky to be married to my best friend and can't wait for more memories to be made in the future.

The post with more Vegas pics from instagram is here.

If you're into clothes, you can see what I wore in Vegas here.

*A few silly observations about our time in Vegas. 

My hair is awesome with no humidity!  I forgot my frizz-ease, but it wasn't a problem. 

Las Vegas is really in the middle of a desert.  There's a distinct contrast from the area around the casinos/resorts and the surrounding desert.  Around the Wynn and Encore it was lush and green, but once we left Vegas and headed to the Hoover Dam we saw the true desert terrain.

It's weird that Mark and I are in almost every photo.  I'm not used to that.  We usually have photos of Will and Ben and not us.

We are masters of the photo swap.  We offer to take a couple's photo and in return they snap one of us with our camera.  Do you do that so you can get a photo together?

We travel light.  We only had a couple of bags for the two of us.  We usually look like a traveling circus when we go on vacation with the kids. 

My good friend made us a list of all the things we should see and do while we were in Vegas.  She's been over 10 times, and her list was extremely helpful.  If you ever go to Vegas and need some advice, I'd be happy to share her list.  It helped us make the most of our short visit.  We felt like we didn't waste a minute.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

Today we celebrate the special men in our lives.  My boys are blessed to have a great daddy.  Mark loves our family and is a great role model to our boys.  We're lucky to have him.

I can't help but think about my grandpa, Papa Ralph, and miss him today.  His birthday was this last week, and he's been on my mind a lot lately. 

Despite missing Papa, we've had a wonderful time celebrating Father's Day.  Last night we went to Babe's Chicken in Frisco with Mark's parents and his brother.  The fried chicken was out of this world.  The home cooked sides tasted like they came out of Mama Winnie's kitchen.  I ate more than my fair share of mashed potatoes, green beans and corn.  I had more biscuits than I'd care to admit.  Mark thoroughly enjoyed his meal--we're still full!  He deserved it!

Happy Father's Day 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Insta Las Vegas

We celebrated our 10 year anniversary by taking a trip to Las Vegas.  We've never left our kids for that long, and I was really nervous.  I thought I'd miss them terribly, but we were gone for the perfect amount of time--4 days and 3 nights.  I was ready to get home, but I was able to enjoy every moment we were gone.  The boys were staying with Mark's parents so I knew they were in good hands.

It truly felt like we were on vacation.  I hadn't felt this carefree in years.  There wasn't a schedule to follow.  We planned the day as it went.  We've had a rough year and really needed a break from our normal routine, and going to Vegas was definitely the place to do that.  We could stay up as late as we wanted and sleep late too!  And, there was no housework--no cooking, cleaning or laundry!

I have so many photos of fun things we did on the trip that I'm not including.  I've already blown up this post with plenty!!!  We ate at Emeril Lagasse's Table 10 restaurant in the Palazzo.  We planned to eat at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill but had a change of plans because we couldn't get a table in time for us to eat and see the show we had tickets for that night.  Instead we ate at P.J. Clarke's because it was close to the show.  We saw two shows while we were in Vegas.  We saw Cirque du Soleil Mystere at Treasure Island and the standard Vegas showgirl act called Jubilee at Bally's.  Of the two, Cirque du Soleil was by far my favorite.

As far as instagram goes, this was such a fun vacation because I was constantly posting pics to instagram and getting comments and recommendations from instagram friends.  I'm @redbirdblue if you want to be instagram friends too :)

Here we are in front of the famous Las Vegas welcome sign. 

The Strip at night 
So many lights and so much energy

Las Vegas Boulevard is the Strip 

We stayed at the Encore.  It's connected to the Wynn. 

We ate  so much good food that I've probably gained 5 pounds!  We had breakfast at Serendipity 3.  The frozen hot chocolate is out of this world!  By the way, this is a serving for one!  I can't imagine a serving for two!

Mark ordered the banana cream waffles for breakfast and I had an omelet.  Both were delicious!  We had always planned to eat at Serendipity 3 when we've been in NYC, but it just never worked out.  I don't think we had to settle eating at the one in Vegas.  Our food was delicious and I'm sure just as good as the one in NYC.

Waiting to see the fountains at the Bellagio.  This reminds me of the movie Ocean's Eleven.

The fountains set to music was pretty and very entertaining. 

Part of the fun of Vegas is going into all the different casinos and resorts.  I'm in The Cosmopolitan here.  I think it's the newest casino on the Strip. 

Mark in front of the Mirage 

Mark is a huge fan of Pawn Stars on the History Channel.  We drove through downtown Las Vegas one day and on our way back to the Encore we saw Las Vegas Gold & Silver.  Of course, we had to stop! The line wasn't very long to get inside.  It was pretty crowded once we were in so we didn't stay that long.  We looked around and left.  None of the guys from the show were there.

Here's Mark in front of the gun display. 

The inside of the Encore was gorgeous. 

The decor had a butterfly theme and used the color red.

Even the floors are gorgeous! 

Our room!  It was incredible!  The bed was super comfy and I didn't have to make it!

Fancy bathroom.  There was a TV in the wall to the right of the vanity.  I'd watch the Today Show each morning as I got ready.  Hello, luxury! 

I ate food that I wouldn't normally try.  This is Yorkshire pudding.  We sampled lots of things at the Wynn buffet. 

I usually don't eat sushi but I enjoyed it at the buffet.  I can't eat wasabi without thinking of the scene in Cars 2 with Mater.  You know I'm a boy mom, ha! 

We visited the Hoover Dam since it's a short drive from Las Vegas. 

Lake Mead 

Truly an amazing engineering marvel 

Did you know I'm terrified of heights?  My palms were sweating the whole time, but I didn't freak our or have a panic attack.  My friend Nicolle can sympathize. 

Inside on the tour 
While on the tour the main elevator had issues.  We couldn't use it to go back to the top so we were taken through the old tour route used pre-9/11.  We saw somethings that we wouldn't have normally have seen. 

Mark with the generators in the background 

Generators N1-N8 

The inside had lots of Art Deco detail and design 

No vacation would be complete without a little lounging by the pool.  The Encore and Wynn have amazing pools.  

Now we're home and it's back to reality.  Doing laundry and unpacking is much less glamorous than my Vegas photos, but it's real life. 

Life in an Instant

life rearranged


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