Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving at Enchanted Rock

Every year when I was a kid my family would go camping at Enchanted Rock State Park in Texas.  We always went with the same two families which has created a special bond between all of us.  I have such dear memories of camping at Enchanted Rock and I've wanted to share this with Derek for some time now.  I think he was a bit skeptical at first when he heard about a giant granite rock in the middle of Texas that was this huge tourist destination.  But I'm pretty sure he ended up loving the trip and wouldn't even mind going back again.  Here are some pictures from our Thanksgiving.

My Mom and Amy planned all the meals and did an especially fantastic job with Thanksgiving dinner.  Mom made the gravy and turkey ahead of time.  We wrapped the turkey up in foil and re-heated it on the fire.  We made stuffing and rolls in the crock pot and also did mashed potatoes and a Waldorf salad.  We heated up green beans and had store bought pies.  Everything was so delicious!!!

The cave is definitely one of the most exciting parts about Enchanted Rock.  15 of us went through the cave together including a 2-year old, 3-year old, and 5-year old.  My Dad, our fearless leader, was the guide and Derek brought up the rear.  Everyone was so helpful with the kiddos dispersed throughout the pack.  It took us about 5 times the normal length of time it would take to get through the cave but we had a blast and it was neat all going through together.  There were some pretty tight spots that I wasn't sure that I was going to make it out of!

Of course sitting around the campfire and playing with the kids is always a blast, too!  Here are a bunch of pictures from our fabulous camping vacation.

Delicious food and the best company!

Silly kids and Grandpa enjoying Thanksgiving dinner.

We all loved the hammock.

Echo Canyon.

Dante was so excited about the cave that I don't think he ever took off his head lamp.

If you look real close you can see Minnie and Ethan with their fun and adventurous friend, Lori!

Aww...the cute Breeden family!

I love seeing Derek with his nieces and nephews.  He's such a great Uncle!!!

Brett brought his Traxxas truck and everyone had a great time driving it.

I love the kids' faces in this picture. 

For some odd reason Charlie and Molly loved getting in the dog crate.  Good think CPS wasn't searching the area for suspicious behavior.

All 15 of us standing right outside of the cave exit.

Brett and Derek acting like thugs in the cave.


What a treat it was to have Lori come!

These kids are too cute!

This is in the biggest area of the cave.  I still can't believe the kids acted like champs during this adventure!

The cousins love each other and their Grandpa so much!

Break time.

Craft time.

Of course Dad got one of his signature migraines and sweet Amy gave him a neck massage.

Derek serving my mama Thanksgiving mashed potatoes like a true gentleman.

I just love my family so much and I am so grateful that we were able to create another memory with our growing families.  The only downside is that Elise and her family were not able to come.  Marshall only had a couple of days off for Thanksgiving so they stayed back in North Caroline.  Elise, Marshall and Abigail you were missed immensely!

Dad is 60!!!

One of the big reasons that we all tried to make it home for Thanksgiving was to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday.  Bertie had us each write 10 memories with Dad and then put them in separate envelopes.  Dad opened up about 40 of them on Thanksgiving night as we were sitting around the campfire.  Eveyone was really tired so we finished reading them at Benihana on Friday night after returning to Houston.  It was such a fun, special experience recounting all of our fond and funny memories with Dad.  He truly is an incredible man whom I admire and respect more than any man I know.  I am so grateful to have had 30 wonderful years knowing him.  I still learn so much from my Dad from his continuous gospel insights to his meaningful and so poignant advice.  I love you so, so much Dad and I hope you know how truly loved you are by EVERYONE who has crossed paths with you!

At Benihana with all of the adults.

This picture KILLS me!!  Apparently one of those memories was super funny, especially according to Amy and Brett.  You have to blow this picture up to get a better look at their faces!

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of my Dad reading the memories around the fire on Thanksgiving, but we did get this one right before he opened his surprise goodie bag.  He's giving us a spiritual thought.  I love candid shots like this where everyone is just being themselves!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Republican Rallies

Derek and I were fortunate enough to go and see Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney speak the weekend before election.  Ryan came on Saturday in Harrisburg and Romney was on Sunday around Philly.  It was a really neat experience to see these remarkable men in person and to feel the comradery with those who share our same political views.  Fun but exhausting weekend!

Paul Ryan was at the Harrisburg Airport where 2,500 people squished in to a small hangar and 1,000 more outside that weren't able to make it in.  Of course the liberal media reported only "hundreds" showed up.

The Ryan kids posed for the cameras while sporting peace signs.  They were really cute!

Paul Ryan was a very impressive speaker and would have made an outstanding VP.

 It was really exciting to be there, especially since it was my first political rally.

There were also a lot of important PA Republicans there.  Senator, Pat Toomey; former governor, Tom Ridge; candidate for senate, Tom Smith; and Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell.

 The Romney rally was in Bucks County which is about an hour outside of Philly.  Mitt gave a great speech!

Almost 30,000 people showed up to show their support for Mitt Romney.  It was a huge crowd that we didn't see much of because we were about 8 rows away from the podium.

They seem like such a happy, united couple.

We waited outside in the freezing cold weather for 4 hours to see Mitt and Ann Romney. So worth it!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Things

So I've always thought it was important to have beautiful, living plants in my house.  Unfortunately, I'm  not very knowledgable when it comes to plants.  But I thought it was finally time to try my hands at it.  The other day Derek and I went to Ikea in Baltimore and I picked up 3 little tin planters for 80 cents a piece.  I still wasn't sure what I wanted to put in them and then we went to Roots Market yesterday and I found these little herb plants.  One is  Rosemary and the other is Lemon Thyme.  They both smell amazing!  The flowers are from a plant that I've had outside all summer and ironically spilled all over my carpet while carrying it in.  I'll go to Hostetters sometime this week and pick out a flower plant.  So wish me luck in my new adventure!

Monday, July 16, 2012

4th of July

I had the best view for our 4th of July festivities!

Monday, July 9, 2012


     If you asked me what my favorite time of the year was I would say without hesitation, "Rodeo Time." That last week in February and the first 2 in March are pretty much the reason I live. Not really, but you can see how much I love the Rodeo. And by rodeo I mean the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. This is the rodeo and livestock show I grew up going to and it's HUGE! So when I visited Utah and other "fairs" I was a little taken aback. Not necessarily disappointed just a little perplexed. I have to admit that there is something neat about the small town rodeos and how the whole town shows up at the local fairgrounds.

     But nothing will ever come closer to my heart than the good ole HLSR! This is from the website. "For 80 years, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ has been the heartbeat of the Southwest, beating powerfully with more than 27,000 volunteers who annually contribute their time, resources, and talent as part of the world's largest livestock exhibition, world's richest regular-season rodeo, and the Southwest's premier entertainment event." Boy ain't that the truth!

     There is a humongous carnival, pig races, truck show, the greasiest, friediest food ever, star entertainment every night, birthing center for farm animals, rodeo event every night, and cowboys, cowboys, cowboys! My favorite events are the steer wrestling and team roping. After the rodeo there is always a big name entertainer that's not always country. I've seen Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Boys II Men, John Michael Montgomery, George Strait, Martina McBride, 98 degrees, Brian McKnight, JoDee Messina, Brad Paisley, Alabama, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and so many more. The very first performer I remember seeing was Crystal Gale with her signature floor length hair.

     I try to make it down to Houston every year for the Rodeo. This year I went with my parents, Amy and Brett, and Emily to see Zac Brown Band. They were awesome!!!

Sorry for all the blurry pictures that were taken from my lovely phone.

                                                               THE ZAC BROWN BAND

The food is undeniably the best in the world! Every year I have to get a sausage on a stick and the most amazing cinnamon roll.

The chili cheese fries are incredible. Yes, there are french fries under there somewhere.

The Calf Scramble. 20 calves are released and about 30 kids compete to catch them. They get to keep the calf and raise it for a year and then bring it back the next year for show.

That's the Reliant Arena where they have the livestock show and other cool stuff.

That's the Astrodome on the left where we grew up going to the Rodeo before we got the Texans and the Reliant Center was built. You can see a snippet of the magnitude of the Rodeo grounds and carnival.

More food that is a must every year! Corn on the cob and anything fried!


If you want to take a trip to Texas I strongly recommend you go during Rodeo Season!  Yee-haw Y'all!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Pops is the Greatest!

My dad is the best father in all the world! I got a package from him on Mother's Day with these adorable cookies and this sweet note. He has a website called gorilla office products where his company sells their supplies. Since he's the boss he jokingly refers to himself as the gorilla. He's a clever, funny man. I just thought the card was so cute and thoughtful and the cookies were delicious. I ate one before I took the pictures because I couldn't wait. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me the power of kindness and generosity. I love you so much!