Texas: Home Sweet Home

We had such a great time with our family and friends in Texas over the holidays! We were blessed to be able to spend two weeks there–which is about the minimum amount of time we need to see each of our immediate families, extended family, and just a handful of our friends. We typically make it home only twice a year, so it is always special when we do.

Even though I didn’t take as many pictures during our trip as I had hoped to, I think I can give you a good glimpse of most of the highlights. Again, please excuse the bad quality of the iPhone pictures…. I’m hoping that once I upgrade to the iPhone 5 in April I’ll have much better quality photos!

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Part of the reason we are able the travel away for so long is that both of us have the ability to work remotely occasionally. I had to work the first few days I was in Waco with my family, but it was okay because I had my favorite chubby snowman mug filled with a warm drink most of the day!

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During the first weekend, we went to a Baylor basketball game with several of our family members.

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We won!

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The day before Christmas Eve, we traveled to a small town in East Texas to celebrate Christmas with my dad’s side of the family. We had so much fun! We even pulled out some old toys from when me, my sisters, and cousins were little…..

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We were also given fun toe socks to put on when we arrived!

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My grandparents know how to keep all the family members happy!

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Opening stocking goodies!

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My sisters are definitely too cool….

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My grandma collects nativity scenes. This one was just too cute not to share!

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All of the stockings for all of the family members

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Christmas Day in Waco was not very cold. That was somewhat of a bummer for me since I always hope for that white Christmas, but we made the best of it and went hiking in Cameron Park with the family.

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A couple of days after Christmas, my mom’s side of the family had a scavenger hunt around Waco that my uncle put together. It was a blast! Daniel and I were on opposing teams, but we were able to forget our rivalry to take a few pictures. :) I won’t go into the details on the scavenger hunt here, but I will say that one activity required the whole team to sing the National Anthem barefoot in front of a Cracker Barrel while having a stranger film us….

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A few days later, we had lunch at McAlister’s with Daniel’s parents. I definitely missed this sweet tea!

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One evening we were able to slip away for dinner and dessert with our friend Shannon and her new fiance Jonathan!

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It was so good to see them!

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The next day we made our way back to Downtown Fort Worth to say goodbye to our favorite Barnes & Noble ever on the last day it was open. This Barnes & Noble houses so many high school and college memories because we went here on date nights and with friends a countless number of times. Now it is closed, but we were happy to get to see it one more time!

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Unfortunately, most of our time with Daniel’s family was filled with sick days. We still made time for fun though! This is us bowling with the family. I’m terrible at bowling, but it’s so much fun!

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Daniel went with some college friends to the Baylor Fiesta Bowl game in Arizona, so I was able to spend New Year’s Eve in Dallas with Becca, one of my best friends!

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On New Year’s Day, I drove back down to Waco to watch the bowl game with my family. Let’s not talk about the results of that game….

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The next day I said goodbye to my family and headed back to Aledo to hang out with Daniel’s family.

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On our last night in Texas, we went to Fort Worth for Daniel’s favorite BBQ of all time: Cooper’s. He was very, very happy!

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Merry Christmas Eve!

It’s Christmas Eve! I’ve decided this is my favorite day of the year. We have had such a great time visiting family, exchanging gifts, and eating great food. Today we are going to lunch at my grandparents, and then we are going to see a movie everyone in the family should enjoy (including my grandparents), Saving Mr. Banks. After the movie, we will go to a Christmas Eve service at the church Daniel and I used to go to when we went to school here in Waco, and then we will do my immediate family’s Christmas Eve tradition of reading the Christmas story and exchanging gifts this evening.

I wish you a day full of fun, food, and celebration with your family and friends. And with that, I’ll leave you with this video to make you smile:

 

 

 

Christmas Galore

I really wanted to have my Travel with Me – Seattle post ready for you today, but I’ve been busy traveling, working, and enjoying time with family here in Texas! That post will probably be after the holidays. I thought that as a replacement, I’d give you a glimpse into the rest of our Christmas activities we did in the DC area before leaving for Texas.

Handel’s Messiah at the National Cathedral

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My Work Christmas Party

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Lazy Days Watching Christmas Movies

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Christmas Candlelight Tour at Mount Vernon

I was unable to take pictures in the actual house, but it was a really neat tour. The guide told stories of Christmas at the Washington’s home. It was really neat, and I highly recommend it if you are in the DC area around Christmastime.

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Christmas Dinner in Old Town Alexandria at Columbia Firehouse

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Opening Stockings from Each Other

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Christmas Movies

By the time the Christmas season ended last year, Daniel and I realized that we had not watched very many Christmas movies. This year, we wanted to change that. We’ve already gotten a great start! Now, I know many of you may not consider some of these to be Christmas movies, but I consider a movie a Christmas movie if it takes place during the holiday season and it has a heavy Christmas theme throughout. These are the movies we have watched already:

elf (2)

The Holiday

Home AloneChristmas Vacation

Here are the movies we hope to watch before the end of the holiday season:

white christmas

The Sante Clause

miracle on 34th street

Four Christmases

family man

rudolph

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We will probably watch a couple of others when we are home in Texas with our families such as A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s such a fun time of year to snuggle up with a hot cup of tea or cider and enjoy these movies in the evenings or on weekends.

Christmastime is Here!

I’m very happy! It’s Christmastime, and we have decorated the apartment with all of our Christmas decorations. I took some pictures to share a little bit of our decorations with you. The pictures aren’t great, but the only working camera I have right now is my iPhone, so it will have to do!

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Decorating our little tree. We are hoping to buy our first big tree during the after-Christmas sales this year.

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My grandmother made the Christmas quilt under the tree. It is beautiful! I’m really looking forward to having this out each Christmas season for many, many years.

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This year we started collecting ornaments from each trip we take. This ornament is from our trip to Alaska in May.

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We picked this ornament up at a little souvenir shop while driving along Skyline Drive in late October.

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I was excited to set out Christmas candles!

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Watching Home Alone

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Yet another Christmas candle and the Christmas movies that we own

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My new favorite holiday scent

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One of our nativity scenes

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LIttle mittens hanging on the wall

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Our Christmas countdown

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Peppermint candles

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Merry Christmas table runner

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We don’t have a fireplace, so our stockings hang on our entertainment center. You can see Banana’s little red stocking hanging next to mind on the right.

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Our tree all decorated!

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And, to top it all off, we baked Christmas sugar cookies!

Our Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving this year, Daniel and I packed up the car and drove down to the Nashville area to meet his family at a lake house they rented. For our trip there, we broke the driving up over two days with a stop in Knoxville to visit some of my family members. It was so good to get to see some of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, but I was especially excited to meet my cousin’s new baby Sawyer! We enjoyed a yummy pre-Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt’s house and then headed on our way for the remaining two and a half hour drive to the lake house.

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When we arrived at the lake house, we were surprised at how nice and cozy it was! The owners had even decorated for Christmas.

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Daniel’s family arrived fifteen minutes after us, and it was so good to see them! We got settled into our rooms, started a fire in the fireplace, and then pulled out the games. The game of choice that night was Yahtzee!

The next day at the lake house was Thanksgiving! I woke up early to bake my favorite pumpkin cake so that the oven would be available for the turkey the rest of the morning. I turned on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the rest of the morning.

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Daniel had pre-made a broccoli cheese casserole at my aunt’s house the day before, and everyone else brought/made something to contribute to our Thanksgiving lunch. We had a fantastic meal!! I just love hearty Thanksgiving food and look forward to indulging in this meal every year.

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The rest of the day was spent cozying up by the fire, reading books, and watching movies. Oh, and rocking the Christmas fuzzy socks….

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We had fun playing Scrabble with everyone that evening.

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Friday we had plans to spend the day in Nashville. We ended up spending a lot of time at the Opry Mills Mall checking out the Black Friday sales. While the mall was crazy, I was surprised that it wasn’t worse than it was. After shopping, we ate at a restaurant called The Pharmacy, a fantastic burger place with a soda fountain. I had the cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and an orange cream soda. We all left the restaurant very happy.

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That evening we went to see the Hunger Games (loved it!) and then made some stops on Broadway to listen to some live music.

We slept in on Saturday and spent the late morning/early afternoon reading, catching up on social media, and taking pictures outside of our surroundings and the cute stray kitten that stayed around the lake house the whole time we were there.

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The kitty’s head was stuck to the side a little. Apparently, there are many, many things that can cause this.

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Then we drove into Nashville to drop off Daniel’s brother at the Greyhound station. Afterward, we made our way to the Gaylord Opryland (the largest non-casino hotel in the country) to admire the Christmas decorations and to have dinner at Jack Daniel’s.

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We were exhausted when we got back to the lake house, so I packed quickly and went straight to bed. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to our 4am wake-up call for our thirteen hour drive home the next day!

But at least we had Starbucks and Mellow Mushroom pizza to help get us through it….

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This Thanksgiving was very special. We are excited to spend time with my family and more time with Daniel’s around Christmas which is just around the corner!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy-Thanksgiving

Today I’m spending time celebrating Thanksgiving with Daniel’s family in a cabin outside of Nashville. We had to fight snowy weather to get here, but it was so worth it! I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.

In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to share ten things I am thankful for:

1. a loving husband

2. a caring family

3. a steady job that challenges me

4. a few days off to spend with family, eat great food, read books, and sleep

5. the Christmas season I look forward to all year

6. coffee

7. the ability to travel with my husband

8. our kitty Banana

9. bookstores and coffee shops – our favorite date night spots

10. the love of Jesus