Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fifty Nifty United States

Anyone else know that song? I am humming the tune in my head right now...

Probably the number one thing on my life bucket list is to visit all fifty states. After I saw this cool map on this blog, I just had to make one for myself. I am definitely a map lover, thanks to my Daddy.

visited 34 states (68%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or another interesting project

I am so thankful for the vacations that I have been on with my family thus far in my life. Although I didn't always appreciate our travels at the time, my family has been on some pretty amazing trips and has seen so much of the beauty our country has to offer.

We did one two week road trip when my youngest sister was only 1 where we traveled from Louisiana, across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, saw the Grand Canyon and the 4 corners, drove up through Nevada, went to Death Valley, went over into California, saw the Grand Tetons, all the way up the CA coast, up the Oregon Coast, up into Washington to see family in the Seattle area, over and through Idaho and Montana, down into Colorado and Wyoming, to Yellowstone, and finally back through Texas to home sweet home in Louisiana. That would surely be my longest run-on sentence ever and my longest vacation ever!

Another trip took us all the way up the Mississippi River to it's start in Minnesota and then all the way back down. Highlights of this trip included the famous Arch in St. Louis, walking across the start of the mighty Mississippi, lots of corn fields in Iowa, and my Dad's refusal to stop at the Mall of America. Don't worry, my sisters and I have still never let him live this one down.

We have seen Mount Rushmore alongside thousands of motorcycle riders in Sturgis, SD, been to places mentioned in our favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder books, explored the Smoky Mountains, and so much more. We have also visited our fair share of Civil War battleground memorials thanks to Dad the history buff.

I am so so so thankful that my parents loaded us up and took us on all of these adventures. I am so glad we did not just go to the same beach ever year and settle for only seeing one tiny corner of our country over and over again. While I do love me some Florida beaches, I can appreciate all of the other forms of beauty the good ol U.S. of A. has to offer as well.

34 down, 16 to go!

The Cutest Groomsmen Gift

Last night we went to the rehearsal dinner for our good friends Katie and Rob. Their wedding is tonight at Perkins Chapel at SMU, and their reception is at the Dallas Aquarium! So excited! So many of our college pals are coming in town to celebrate Rob and Katie (and New Year's Eve) tonight. It is going to be such a fun time! We have celebrated NYE in the past with this group of friends, and it will be good to have everyone back together and continue that tradition.

A little back story on these friends: Billy, Austin, and Rob lived together for two years in college at A&M. Carly and Billy had been dating since high school and Rob and Katie met at A&M and were already dating when I came on the scene. Austin and I started dating his freshmen (my sophomore) year when he was living with Billy and Rob. The six of us share lots of memories at that house - many nights of cooking supper together, watching movies, playing games, etc. Here we are in college (keeping it classy at the College Station Chili's) - this is just a few months after Austin and I started dating.

Billy and Carly got married in May, and then one week later, Austin and I got married. Today it is Rob and Katie's turn! Last night we were reminiscing a little bit and talking about how things have really come full circle. Even though none of us live in the same town now, we have our time together at A&M and our fun memories from the Arboles house to tie us together.

After rehearsing at the church last night, we feasted on some tasty Mexican food at Mattito's in Uptown. Rob then gifted all of his groomsmen with such a fun and unique gift. Cuff links. Now, you might be thinking that cuff links as a groomsmen gift is the most unoriginal thing ever, but these were no ordinary cuff links. Rob picked out and hunted down cuff links for each groomsmen that represented something unique about them. One groomsmen got bullet cuff links, one got carabiner cuff links because he and Rob had hiked together, but Billy and Austin's were my favorite!

When the boys lived together, Billy had two black cats - Harry and Lloyd. So, Billy received two black cat cuff links last night. Austin used to have a maroon moped in college that he would ride to class and football games. Rob tracked down red (maroon-ish!) cuff links for Austin to wear tomorrow in the wedding, and they are the cutest thing ever!

Austin and our friend Amber (who will also be here tonight for the festivities!)

Great job, Rob! I am so impressed with how creative and personal these groomsmen gifts are. I cannot post about Rob's gifts without mentioning that Katie MADE garment and shoe bags for all of her bridesmaids out of fabric that coordinates with her wedding colors- so precious!

We are gearing up to watch the Aggies in their bowl game this afternoon and for a fun night of celebrating with friends. I am off to the grocery store fill our empty fridge back up and get some black eyed peas and cabbage for tomorrow!

Happy New Year's Eve to you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Continues

We are still in East Texas visiting my family and having the best time! I have been a little absent on the blog-front, but we are headed back to the big D tomorrow, and I am anxious to get back into my routine. Two of our good friends are getting married on NYE, so this weekend will be another whirlwind of fun :) Can't wait!

Since arriving here on Monday, we have had Christmas with my family, played LOTS of games, and done even more eating. Tis the season for tasty treats, but I am about ready to go on a juice cleanse!

Enjoy the pics of what we've been up to...

Mom's pretty tree

Checking out our stockings

My new recipe binder! So excited about this little guy.

Santa brought robes for Austin and my sister Mary Katherine

I discovered that my Mom was in on the "Elf on a Shelf" trend long before the blogosphere... these elves were hers and my Uncle Layne's from when they were little. How cute are they?!

We've been playing lots of games, especially these that we got for Christmas this year: Risk (Austin's favorite), Catchphrase, Apples to Apples, and Trivial Pursuit. We also enjoyed getting whipped by my grandmother this morning at Five Crowns. She is a mean little card player.

Not pictured is our new favorite Wii game, Just Dance from my sister-in-law Casey. It is so very fun, but my Mom is undefeated, and I am to bitter to talk any more about that. Her Bearcat Belle and Louisiana Tech Pom-Pom Girl days are coming in very handy!

Today I went with my sisters to get manicures and do a little shopping. Mary Katherine gave me and Melanie gift certificates for manicures for Christmas, and we all three went an got our nails done today. It was such a fun and relaxing treat! Thanks MK!

Love these two!

I'm off to go check on Austin- he is currently raking my parents' yard!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you! This week has been such a whirlwind of eating, visiting with family and friends, last minute shopping, cooking, more eating, and Christmas movie watching. There has not been much time left for blogging!

We have loved being in Austin with my in-laws this Christmas. I have missed seeing my family in Louisiana, but I am looking forward to some visits with them in January and at my cousin's upcoming wedding! Being married comes with lots of changes and new traditions, and I am thankful for all of the family we are blessed to get to see during the entire Christmas season. We had one Christmas on the 23rd, a white elephant exchange after the Christmas Eve service on the 24th, and Santa this morning. I cannot even believe we are headed to visit my family tomorrow for yet another Christmas celebration!

At John & Cathy's in Dripping Springs

Before church on Christmas Eve

Austin being the center of attention, per usual.

Teaching precious Amelia how to "gig 'em" (We are training her to be an Aggie on day, and I don't think Nina is very happy about it!)

Pure excitement!

Matching PJs on Christmas Eve with my SILs

Our cozy view on Christmas morning

Courtney & Tyler

Casey with some of her Harry Potter loot... she has a mild obsession.

Field & Stream ultimate outdoorsman manual...someone is excited!

And finally, the greatest picture ever showing off his new glove, watch, and slippers!! I was told not to put this on the blog, but guess who never reads the blog?

I hope y'all have the merriest of Christmases and are enjoying time with your family today!

Joy to the world, the LORD is come!

‎"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Playground Adventures

Today I felt like I was 10 years old again... I went on an outdoor adventure with Austin and Casey. We played keep away, did handstands, trekked through the "woods" in the neighborhood where my in-laws live in Austin, played on the playground, climbed trees, jumped over a creek, and threw rocks at Austin!

Posing by Casey's festive car - it has reindeer antlers and a red nose!

I spy a creeper...

Austin bet me I could not do the monkey bars... bad decision. I am a monkey bar master!

I was terrified!

Casey finished our adventure off with an awesome tree hang. Thanks and gig 'em!

Earlier in the day we went and visited and had lunch with some of Austin's family, and I finally got to meet Ameila - the cutest baby ever! Nina and Amelia were there, along with other family members, and it was great to see everyone. Amelia is so sweet and just smiles all the time. I am so ready for it to be Christmas Eve so I can play with her again!

Christmas week is off to a very fun start!

Get yourself to a playground near you for a fun time :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sunday School Christmas Party

Friday night was our Sunday School Christmas party and we had SO much fun! Thank you Ben and Rebecca for being such wonderful hosts!

We had tons of food, a {heated} gift exchange, and we played three new-to-me games that were hilarious. I took a cheese platter and some veggies and dip. In typical Southern Baptist fashion, we also had three types of dip (with chips too of course), sandwiches on rolls, mini apple pies, "lumps of coal," chocolate chip cookie dough dip, Rolo pretzel bites, fudge, and probably some other tasty things that I can't remember at the moment. I am still full!

I did not do too well with my picture taking, but here are a few I did manage to get.

Our wonderful teachers Roy & Donna (ignore the blur in the background!)

Jessica and Mark looking festive in red

Ben & Rebecca, Austin & me

Scott and Cass

Tim and Faith

Sarah and Matt were there too, but my picture of them was horribly blurry! And thank goodness they were there, because they taught me two of my new favorite games: "Family" and some hybrid of charades/catchphrase. The best thing about these new games is that all you need is strips of paper and friends - genius! Apparently going to OBU and being miles away from all forms of entertainment is the perfect environment for inventing fun party games :)

We played Apples to Apples first, and I am obsessed. I want to play it every day! Maybe my obsession has to do with the fact that I won?

I did not take pictures of the other games because I was laughing way too hard. It was a great night with great friends! I have said this before, but I'll say it again - I'm so thankful to be a part of our church and for the wonderful church friends God has given us.

Today I am taking down all my Christmas decorations, cleaning, and packing for our holiday travels. Can't wait to hit the road and spend the next several days with family!