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I’ll spare you the huge post about my vacation to OK and TN (Oklahoma was COLD! It snowed in TN! I love my family! The end.)  But I will share a few pictures and why they’re awesome to me. You can view the entire set here.


Me, Alan and Mandy at some Route-66 state park thing off of I-40. Go figure! I love this picture because it’s got all of us in it and it does a fairly good job of helping you imagine how cold it really was. That wind just went STRAIGHT through you! Yikes!


This one you really need to see the bigger version, but this is right outside where my in-laws are staying. They were out shooting skeet. Everyone was super excited about shooting guns, and for the most part they did pretty good. We did get a few crazy looks from people driving by though 🙂


Boom!


This is Justin’s grandparents. This was as they were arriving for their 50th wedding anniversary celebration and vow renewal. I took this picture to keep them from going inside the church while they were putting the finishing touches on a few things, the least of which was Cory and Austin singing a song together. They had to practice ONE more time and it fell to me to delay them. They were VERY cold, but good sports! And the picture turned out great!


Brian, Cory, Justin, Me, David and Sherry. Happy family 😀

Now for some less family-oriented pictures…

This late post brought to you by my inability to sleep.

We leave from TN tomorrow.  Well, in just a few hours really.  I have heartburn that is unyielding and terrible and I half believe fire will escape from my lips at any given moment.  It is a major component in my lack of sleep.  The other components are missing home, and missing my bed at home.  Missing a place where I can sleep in my husbands arms.  There are spare beds here, but they are old and the springs hurt my fragile body in ways I’ve never noticed before.  I have become a spoiled brat in regards to sleeping, and it is a couch or my tempurpedic at home for me.  Alas, no husband in my arms with me on the couch. 

Benjamin is awake and moving about, and even though I’ve been feeling him for almost 2 months now I can’t get over how exciting it is to feel his movement.  23 weeks tomorrow!

I’m looking forward to getting home, but I’m going to miss my TN family terribly.  This trip was throughly enjoyable and though I am very glad I do not live here (I am a Texas girl through-and-through) I do love visiting with family here.  Yes, they’re technically in-laws, but they are an amazing family and I do love them 🙂  There was a lovely dusting of snow throughout my trip here, just enough to keep it pretty and not enough to really cause any major concern.  That is, to me, the only kind of snow to have.  More than a few inches is too much!  

I haven’t had insomnia like this in ages.  I don’t really know what it is keeping me awake, I’ve tried to get comfortable but my brain won’t slow down enough for me to get to sleep!

Here are things I’m thinking about:

  • The effect my prayers and fasting can have on the church.
  • The fact that in FOUR MONTHS I will be giving birth. Eep!
  • The drive I have to make tomorrow.
  • My in-laws moving to Texas (we’re trying to convince them!)
  • Going back to work soon!
  • Vacation being over 😦
  • Missing my parents, the 1 year anniversary of their death is coming up and I don’t know how well I’ll handle it.
  • We’re thinking about taking the car to the dealership to get it looked at, to see if they can figure out what is wrong with it.  I’m worried that they’ll tell us something it’s not, and we’ll waste more money on it.
  • I can’t believe this heartburn.  It is seriously kicking my butt.

Ok.  I can’t get past the heartburn.  I guess I’ll try some milk, and go lay back down.

These pictures will be from day 3 of the trip, when I met the amazing and wonderful Maria (and her husband Lars).  I’ve known Maria for about 6 years online, and as she lives in Denmark I didn’t think we’d be able to meet this soon (or at all!) so it was SUCH a blessing to be in the city at the same time as her!!  Didn’t get nearly as many pictures of “us” as I would have liked, but I did get a TON of pictures of everything else.  As is usual for these posts, I’ll be showing my favorites from the day.  You can find the rest here.


One of the first stops we made was to the Swavorski store. Maria collects them, and my my I was tempted to start!! Such awesome stuff there!!! I did splurge and get a pair of earrings and a necklace, they’re SO much prettier in real life than online!!!


Funny story. So, years ago while working for HCSO dispatch I had a friend make me some headset covers for my headset. They’re pink, purple, yellow, blue, and beautiful. They are also crazy looking!! So I wore them there for years with no problems. Cue new job, new agency, and I wore them for the first time a few months ago. Every single person that walked into dispatch would start to say something and then say “OMG! What is on your ear!?!” or something to that effect. I told them it was a fraggle rock, I told them it was my pet, and eventually I ended up telling them that it was the money I could be saving with Geico. That one kind of stuck, and now I use that anytime someone comments on it. So imagine my surprise when I came to work the other day, and stuck to my monitor was a picture of the little geico money. When I saw this ad, I had to take a picture. Leave it to NYC to have a “different” kind of ad!!


*insert Chewbaca noise here*
I’m a HUGE star wars fan, so naturally when I saw this I had to take a picture!!! We went to FAO Schwartz, which I hadn’t really heard about but had SUCH a great time in there!!! It was like a huge playground!!! Most of the rest of the shots are from there…


Such awesomeness.


Oh yeah, standing next to batman. ❤


Harry potter and his friends!!!


Hagrid, one of my favorite characters of all the HP books!!!


Maria!!


I adore tiny houses. I don’t have the patience or money to invest in them myself, but tiny dollhouses have always been a fun thing to me. Maybe if I ever have a daughter I’ll get her into them so I can live vicariously through her. Heee! Here are a bunch of my favorites, I took them fast so the very nice lady working the area didn’t get completely sick of me (sorry if this is spam, but OMG CUTE!)


For the record, if I ever had the chance to design my own house, it would look almost exactly like this house. The windows, the curve, the porch…*drool*


Mmm…tiny food…


I can imagine shopping at the store for my own furniture the way I wanted to shop here!


Houses!


Seriously, this was such a fun store to walk around. It didn’t matter that my feet were KILLING me and I wanted to curl up in a ball for a week. I was in New York! I was with Maria! I had beautiful scenery and funness around me! I was on cloud nine 😀


And there were smurfs. I heart smurfs!


I loved the way they had everything posed. It really made it look like you could just sit down, inside the glass cases, and start playing around!


RAWR I AM A DRAGON


They had this thing where you could make your own muppet. I’ve never been more tempted to spend 300 dollars on something completely useless….how awesome would it have been?!


Supplies for making your muppet…


The “Workshop”


This guy is made of jelly beans. I want to eat him up! :O


Maria and I after a lovely dinner with Justin and Lars. We had such a good time!!!


Once more with feeeeelllingg!!


Me and my amazing hubby!


Maria and Lars

It’s amazing how much fun it is to meet people from online after years of being friends! I’ll definitely never forget this trip, it was so awesome to meet Maria and Lars. Hopefully we can get them to Texas sometime.  Love you guys!

Continued from my previous post, more pictures of NYC.


The Strand has a particular smell, an attitude about it, that made me instantly feel at home.  It’s a magical kind of place. Imagine a waiting ground, where old books felt safe to wait for a new home. A sort of temporary purgatory where used books have left their previous homes to wait for new ones, and a place where new books feel the wisdom of the older ones seep into their bindings. The old books swayed you with their good prices and smell and the new books held the promise of memories to come.

It was so much more than a normal bookstore, the air was thick with nostalgia and a buzzing excitement of the next great find.


It felt a little bit like home.


Me, in NYC, at Broadway and 5th Ave. Exciting stuff. I am a little tired in that pictures, but overwhelmingly enamoured with the city!


We randomly ended up in a costume shop, where they had awesome masks and hats. We took these pictures before they told us we could take pictures in the shop, just not of us wearing anything. Oops!


This blog post wouldn’t be complete without a sleeping guy!


I took this in Little Italy. I didn’t realize my friend Tony had a shop there…


Beautiful church in town…


More of the church. Some of the architecture was the best part about NYC. You just don’t see that sort of created, classic, historical beauty down here in Texas.


Church again


So, funny story. Didn’t have much I wanted to do in China Town, but this is the oldest toy store in CT so I thought I’d give it a shot. We walked from lunch in Little Italy at Il Cortile(which was amazing!) over to Ting’s. It was about 3 blocks away. As soon as we entered China Town, I was propositioned by some guy crossing the street with us and Justin had a guy rub his shoulders and try to pick him up (while he was holding onto my very scared arm, as I had just been propositioned 10 feet before that). It was crazy. We didn’t stay – just took a picture, peeked in, and left. Note to readers: stick with China Town in San Francisco, CA. It’s WAY better.


Really cool randomly decorated pole on a street corner.


Bottom of the randomly decorated pole on the street corner.


City Hall Park (with the massive City Hall in the background)


City Hall Park Fountain

I took an amazing trip to New York City last month and yes, I fail, I’m just now getting around to uploading them.  I uploaded everything to flickr (the good and the bad) but wanted to showcase a few favorites here.

Sleeping
This was the first of several “sleeping in NYC” pictures I took. I was completely overwhelmed by the massive amount of stimulation from the outside world while I was in the city, so sleeping to me was a completely foreign idea. Most of the sleeping pictures taken were locals, as far as I could tell.

Playing
This is a massive playground in Central Park. One of the coolest parts about this playground? No adults allowed, unless you’re escorting a small child! Keeps the riff-raff out.


There is nothing spectacular about this picture, except that it’s two cop cars facing opposite directions so they can talk to each other. It happens in Houston, it happens in the city I work, it happens back in California….and now, proof that it happens in New York!

Hotel
This is the hotel room we stayed in at the Belvedere. It ended up being an amazing hotel! A great value for the location (we stayed down the street from Times Square and Broadway) and the bed was amazingly comfortable. I think that was actually the thing I felt the most torn about on the trip; I couldn’t wait to get up and see the city, but I was absolutely in love with the bedding. It was a tough choice each day!

What follows is some of the scenery I saw the first full day I was there. That day we walked – litterally – up and down Manhattan, and probably put over 15 miles on our feet that day. I nearly died, but it was great stuff to look at. Enjoy!

Broadway mid-morning

We're a Target family

I know it's blurry, but I love this!

Lovely arcitecture


Ook, I have to commentary these two. This is, believe it or not, two sleeping people. Homeboy in the chair is obviously sleeping. But homeboy next to him, the guy hunched over like he’s digging in the bag? Yeah, he was doing that…until he fell asleep! Standing up! With his hand still in the bag! No joke. It was incredible.

Yeah, definitely going to have to split it up into two or three posts.  That wasn’t even all of day two! More to come.

My life the past few weeks has been absolutely wonderful and absolutely hectic! Between NYC for a week and my sisters coming to visit, I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath, much less blog.  But I’ll get back into it, promise.  As a start, I’ll recap my life the past few weeks (briefly).

NYC: Amazing and incredible place, I loved it, I will probably never go back.  At this point, people say “What, why?!” and the answer is this: I met the people I wanted to meet (and it was awesome!) and saw the things I wanted to see.  It’s not a vacation destination I would normally go to, and there are too many other great places to visit to go back.  If I’m in the area again, there would be a few places I’d go back to, which I’ll detail in later posts.

Family: My sisters were here! Jean and her hubby Josh and kids Abi and Bubba came with my other sister Jennifer and her daughter Lilly.  Then, my brother Alan and his wife Mandy and their son Ethan came for a visit. It was amazing and awesome and incredible.  I absolutely love seeing my sisters and their kids and miss them terribly already.

Estate stuff: I am getting SO close to being done!!! I still need to hear back from my lawyer on one thing in particular.  I paid a lot of estate bills and FINALLY got the stone in (it’s amazing, by the way) and my parents finally have a marker on their grave.  That has such an emotional finality to it that I can’t really put it into words.

Grief: It’s interesting the things that have effect on us emotionally.  I lost it after dropping the stone off at Magnolia Gardens Funeral Home.  Jean started crying at Denny’s when a Linda Ronstadt song came on the radio – I think it was “You’re No Good.”  Mom used to love her music.

I can’t hear anything by Nickelback or Merle Haggard without thinking of them, and Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry is still the song that makes me think of my family more than any other.

Anyways.  Life has been crazy but good.  House is a wreck, I’d need another week just to repair all the damage the past 3 weeks have caused it.  But, for now, I’ll just have to do it one step at a time.  Recaps will come as I get pictures uploaded and highlights typed out.  Got some great shots!

July of last year I made a resolution to complete 10 things in 3 years. As I look back on the last year I’m surprised to know that I’ve actually, kind of, sort of, worked on a few of those things. I’ll post them here and add some comments regarding progress.  It’s always good to review.

1. Learn to have better penmanship – I have been practicing my cursive when I’m writing in my bible study. I think it’s improved a lot, at least to the point of being legible. It’s still habit to start writing in sloppy print, so I’m hoping to get rid of that entirely eventually.
2. Run a mile in under 10 minutes – I just hired a personal trainer. I’ll work up to this, I hope.
3. Improve my wardrobe to include more “polished” pieces that fit me better – Not a priority to me really anymore. I’d probably replace this with “Have more church clothes, practice modesty.”
4. Own a comfortable pair of high heels – I’m actually pretty sure they don’t exist! But I might try after I get down a few pounds and get some better balance.
5. Find a home church – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Legacy Fellowship is my temporary Home away from my Eternal Home. It’s pretty awesome.
6. Learn to give myself a good manicure/pedicure – I wouldn’t quite say I’m there yet, but I have been making progress on this too!
7. Be debt free – Only $7385.31 left!
8. Take a fantastic trip somewhere, anywhere – I’m pretty sure my trip to New York in August will count!
9. Learn Spanish enough to have a conversation with a native speaker comfortably – Erm, I have not even started on this.
10. Find 2 new friends in Austin that I can “connect” with – I’m definitely connecting with members of my church.

Wow. I’m actually pretty impresse with myself! Crossed one thing off the list already! Woo!  And well on my way to crossing off several more.  How does one go about learning a foreign language as an adult?

My husband and I have a tradition of taking a vacation in January.  We’ve only been together a few years so it’s open to interpretation and change, but usually by January he’s exhausted from working retail during the Holidays and I’m exhausted from working 911 during the holidays (fun fact: personal crimes, disturbances and suicides usually skyrocket during November/December).

This year we were going to have a bit of extra money so we decided to take a vacation.  We settled on Colorado Springs – far enough away to get out of Texas, close enough to drive it in a day, and most importantly: mountains. We both grew up around mountains and are really only in Texas to be near our family.  If we had our choice, we’d most likely live in the mountains somewhere.

Last year we finally paid off my 2003 Hyundai Elantra which is our only mode of transportation.  Since then it’s been in the shop every month with minor but necessary repairs.  We knew there were a few things that REALLY needed to get done on it, so we decided to take it into the shop before leaving for Colorado.  I’m glad we did.

We knew there was something wrong with the front right tire – turns out, one of the bearings was bad and needed replaced.  That was just the start though.  There was 2 separate oil leaks – one up on top by the engine, and one down below.  Our mechanic, Joe, is a great guy and took the time to lift the vehicle so he could point out exactly where it was leaking to us. Sure enough, 2 leaks.  Bummer.  They weren’t horrible, but to replace the oil pan and take care of the leaks, apparently you have to get pretty far into the engine area.  The timing belt should have been changed 60,000 miles ago and Joe told us that if we could afford to get the timing belt done at the same time as the oil leaks it would save us a bit on labor, since some of the labor is the same.

Joe works for Herrera’s Automotive, also called Blunt Force Customs.  I was recommended him by a friend and I honestly recommend him to everyone I know in the Austin area.  He has been nothing but upfront, reasonable and honest with me – and because of that, he gets my business and anyone I can convince!

Anyways, he said he definitely recommended the ball bearing fix before our trip.  That along with the synthetic oil change was about 250 dollars.  The oil leak fix and the timing belt were quite a bit more expensive… around 750 dollars.  He said we could wait, but we’d be running a risk with the amount of driving… and said the oil leak would be quite a bit worse by the time we got back.  We toiled about our decision, but finally decided that if we took the trip and didn’t get the timing belt replaced (especially with all that up-mountain driving) we’d constantly worry about it and not enjoy the trip as much.

So, being the responsible adults we are, told Joe to go ahead and fix everything wrong with the car.

The crazy thing is, I’m not as sad as I expected to be.  Our car has been very good to us, and if we want it to last another 150k we definitely need to take care of it.  And God provided the money to us when we needed it, even though we had to make the decision to miss out on something fun.  We’ll still have fun this week, it will just be a little closer to home.

Even still… being a responsible adult is hard sometimes. Goodbye thousand dollars, hello better running car. Woop-de-doo.