Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our Dream Home

Or an alternative title, what my husband & I like to do for fun.

I would like to give you a tour of our dream home, complete with hand-built helicopter, car, police officer, and cat. Hope you enjoy!

PS- thanks to Brandon & Hillary for this AWESOME wedding gift :)

Building in progress...

Yay! Our home! It even has opening windows & doors!

Why, we do have a pet!

Gotta have the helicopter in action!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Initial Impression of Grad School

I had my first two days of grad school orientation Monday and Tuesday and woah were they busy! One of the downsides to where we live is that both Matt & I have decent commutes-- 35 min one way with no traffic. Of course the roads I have to take basically guarantee there will be traffic, so I am going to have to get used to that.

But enough complaining about that. At orientation, there were definitely boring parts, but I also got to meet several of my fellow grad students. I observed that I seem to be the baby of the bunch. Everyone that I've talked to already has their master's and some have been out of school for a while. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it just surprised me that I am definitely the youngest and it makes me feel... naive I guess.

I also got to meet the professors I will be TA'ing for. Now this is where I'm blown away by God's blessings-- my school just recruited some 'big fish' in the criminology world and guess who will be working for them? Yup, me. I'll be serving as a TA for one of their undergrad course and then doing research with the other. It is definitely the best of both worlds and I'm excited to see what opportunities open up because of this.

It's one of those things where you enter into a new thing (i.e. grad school), unsure if it is really the right thing for you. Then you keep on getting all these blessings and it's just such a huge encouragement to me. Sure, these next 5 years or so are probably going to be incredibly difficult at times, but I'm in the right place for me right now.

Tonight I get to go sit in on the class I'll be TA'ing for, as well as have my own first class. I'll also be meeting with my two profs so I'll learn a lot more about the specifics of what I'll be doing for them the next year. Hopefully I can set up a decent weekly schedule of when I'll be on campus versus at home, and maybe arrange that schedule to avoid high traffic times!

I know this post has been a lot of rambling, but I wanted to open up a blank page, write, and see what thoughts arose.

Have you ever been in this kind of situation, where you may be unsure of a new adventure but then just feel ever more confident that you're right where you need to be?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Winery Adventure

This past weekend, Matt & I went to Delaney Vineyards to take part in their grape stomping festivities! Every Saturday in August, they invited the community out to help cut the grapes off the vines and stomp the grapes.

First we signed our release forms, then they set us off to cut some grapes!

Yay cutting grapes!

If you didn't know, in Texas it has been quite hot. Unfortunately some of the grapes were pretty dried up.

Our haul

One of the bigger piles of grapes we added our's to

After we were done cutting, we headed over to where they were going to stomp grapes. First we got to see them use the machine that removed the grapes from the stems. It was a pretty cool system, then they had a vacuum tube that pumped the grapes from the end of that machine to the stomping barrel.

The aforementioned machine

The machine in action (sorry it's so dark!)

The barrel filling up!
Then they let the kids start stomping!

Now the question is did we stomp any grapes? No, we did not! I wanted to initially, but then it started getting way too hot to be outside, we were thirsty and didn't want to pay $1 for water.

But it was definitely a fun little outing and I would go do it again, just hopefully in cooler weather.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Goodbye Mrs. Housewife

As you may know, I start grad school tomorrow. Well, it's orientation. My first class isn't til Thursday, but I have orientation basically all day tomorrow and Tuesday. TA orientation, Criminology orientation, my college orientation, etc.

It's bittersweet for me really. I'm excited to start doing 'something' and feel like I'm contributing to our household financially (thank you, fellowship!), but I'm going to miss being a housewife. I know, I didn't expect it either. I've always been convinced I would not be a stay-at-home-mom, that I would have a good job, etc. But now I'm not so sure it would be the worst thing ever. Not that I'm going to suggest to Matt we have kids now. Nope, not ready for that.

Maybe I've just been having an extended vacation for the past 3 months, where all I have to do is work out, grocery shop, cook, and clean. It's a pretty nice life, really. Tons of time to read, blog, and find new things to do. I'm sad to be losing this free time. It was hard at the beginning, when Matt would go off to work, do these new and different things, and I would just sit around playing housekeeper. But then starting in July I really started to enjoy it, especially when we started meeting new people through our church.

But it's good to be moving on. The schedule is not the greatest (I have night classes... boo!) meaning less time with Matt, but it just means we have to really make the most of our time we do have together. It will give me motivation to not procrastinate, to make sure I get as much work done as I can during the day.

As for this blog, I'm not going to let it die, no worries! I enjoy having my group of blog friends to chat to and I think I may need to rant at some point about things every once in a while!

So, as I close the door on one part of my life (the re-living of our wedding & honeymoon), I'm ready to start this new one. It will be hard and different I'm sure, but I'm ready.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happily Ever After: The conclusion

Catch up on the past wedding & honeymoon recaps by clicking "Our Wedding" at the top of the page!

Though I haven't shown you all 600-something pictures we took on the honeymoon, I figure I should wrap this thing up. I start grad school next week and it will be good to start posting about real-life things! I hope I haven't bored you too much with random Disney things, and I promise they are not paying me to advertise for them (no matter how much it sounds like it). I'm just a huge Disney fan and think some people don't fully understand that it isn't just another Six Flags. But I digress...

Matt & his star cruiser Star Wars thingymajig

Would I recommend to anyone to have their honeymoon at Disney World? YES! But I would want them to know it is not your stereotypical honeymoon, though I guess it could be. For the most part, we got up somewhat early to hit the park when it opened, stayed fairly active in the morning, came back for a rest, then went back out to the parks in the evening. It was none of this relaxing-on-the-beach the entire time. That's not what Matt & I wanted-- I know I can only take sitting still like that for an hour, 2 hours tops.

The view from our room the last day

The castmembers really do go out of their way to make sure you have a magical vacation. All of their smiles & congratulations was worth way more than any other attention/free stuff we received.

The theming in the parks allowed you to just relax and escape to another place. No more thinking about random wedding details or the fact that we were about to move as soon as we got back.

We visited Epcot one more time on the last day... Mine! Mine!

But move we had to do, so we flew back Saturday evening. My parents picked us up at the airport, we opened all the wedding gifts, and then the next morning moved 4 hours away to the Dallas/Ft Worth area.

Boo... we didn't want to leave!

So many gifts!

Overall- Disney World was an amazing place for our honeymoon. Our resort, the Boardwalk Villas, was the perfect location, the perfect view, the perfect room for us and there is nothing we would change about the whole week. Well, maybe the leaving part!

***Thank you so much for reading along with all these recaps, especially to those that commented! I tried to make a follow-up post with each comment, but if your's escaped, I'm sorry! Know that each and every one made me smile! And to those that read but didn't comment, don't be shy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happily Ever After: The Food

Catch up on the other honeymoon/wedding posts by clicking "Our Wedding" at the top!

As I talked about here and here, part of the appeal of Disney World is the dining experiences! We ate and drank amazingly well and the cast members took note that it was our honeymoon so often times we got a free dessert or other special treatment.

Have to have a Premium Mickey Ice Cream Bar!

Our favorite restaurant by far was California Grill. It is one of the nicest restaurants on Disney property, located in the Contemporary Resort adjacent to Magic Kingdom. We made our reservations so we would be able to watch Wishes towards the end of our meal. Thankfully the table we got was right near the window, so it was truly a magical night! Plus, the food was AMAZING!

Have to do the self-portrait!

Our view

Appetizers-- various flatbreads

Matt's entree-- some of the best steak ever
My entree-- some seafood pasta thing. I know, horrible memory. I can assure you it was delicious!
Us with our desserts (and yes, we ordered milk with our dessert)
The fireworks from our table!

Basically, the whole dining experience from the service to the food to the atmosphere at every place we ate was amazing! When you're at Disney World, you do not feel like you have to eat your normal Six Flags park food. You can, sure, but there are so many other options and they are all fantastic!

Up next... the final honeymoon post!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happily Ever After: Animal Kingdom

Catch up on the past recaps by clicking "Our Wedding" at the top and scrolling down to the bottom! :)

I know when some people go to Disney World, they tend to think badly of Animal Kingdom, regarding it as just another zoo. I have bittersweet emotions about this-- it is way more than just a place with animals. The theming and rides are pretty amazing! However, if they don't want to go, that means less people taking up space! :P

In my opinion, Animal Kingdom & Epcot are tied in terms of how good the theming is. The Disney Imagineers (those that design the parks/rides) traveled to several African & Asian locations in order to talk to the locals and really get a since of the geography, architecture, and culture. And it can definitely show in the result!

Animal Kingdom definitely has some good rides (Expedition Everest, anyone?) and amazing shows! Both the Finding Nemo Musical and Festival of the Lion King are absolutely amazing!
Expedition Everest: The Tallest Mountain in Florida

One of our favorite things to do from both our past trips is to just walk around, enjoying the little details, and find the reclusive animals. It's so fun and a nice break from running around trying to get one fastpass after another. But enough talking, here are more pictures!

Let me tell you about this-- this is DiVine-- the human grapevine. She walks on stilts, wrapped around vines, and generally looks very cool. She really blends in with the environment & so many people will just walk by without seeing her!

The Tree of Life

Up Next-- our night at California Grill

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happily Ever After: Hollywood Studios

Catch up on the previous honeymoon recaps by clicking "Our Wedding" at the top :)

Another one of the parks is Disney's Hollywood Studios. Back in the 80s and early 90s, when it was MGM, it used to be the location where they filmed some TV shows and had Disney animators working on films. That has all since moved to California, but they still have some very cool things. My personal favorites:

Tower of Terror

Beauty and the Beast show

Rock 'n Roller coaster

They also had the new Star Tours open, which was a lot of fun to do. It is a simulator ride with 4 sections and each section has the possibility for a different sequence. For instance, the beginning has three possible clips they could play. It is all randomly chosen so each ride is completely unpredictable.

They were also having Star Wars weekend while we were there (which you can read about here), but though we didn't go to that park on the weekends, we still saw some special Star Wars stuff!

Little kids learning to be Jedis

And then Darth Vader came! Each kid got to fight and defeat him, so that was good

And now for more random pictures :)

I had to recreate this picture from when I was young

We had lunch at Sci-Fi Dine In, a restaurant where you watch these cheesy 50's sci-fi movie trailers and eat in 'cars'

Always have the get the picture with the Toy Soldier!

Up next-- Animal Kingdom!