Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Stars

December is probably my favorite month of the year and a big part of it is because of Christmas, my favorite holiday. While the season is often crammed with parties, events and other festivities, it is important to remember the stars who have guided us through life.

Two of those stars are my parents. They supported me and guided me. They taught me the importance of hard work and to never give up. They showed me unconditional love and what a strong marriage looks like. They also started some of the Christmas traditions I continue today.

Another star is my grandmother. She passed away several years ago, but she taught me the value of an education and that you can never have enough. It is partly thanks to her that I obtained my masters and started my PhD. I think she would be very proud of the role that education plays in my life today.

My husband is another star I am thankful for this holiday season. He has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader. He has sacrificed a ton for the betterment of our family as a whole. Everyday I wakeup thankful that I get to spend it with such an amazing man.

This year, I am excited to remember these stars and many others when I hang this star ornament on my tree. 

This star is from the Macy's Heart of Haiti collection. This collection features a variety of home decor items including quilts, metalwork, jewelry and paintings that are made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable. When you purchase items from this collection, you help Haiti and the artists that live there. It is a way to provide support through "trade not aid"

The people of Haiti are some of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and this is a way to support people trying to better their lives through employment. At this point the Heart of Haiti program has employed 780 artisans, and helped improve the lives of over 6,200 people including many women and children. It is a great way to give in multiple ways at the same time.

To help get you in the holiday spirit, I have a Macy's Heart of Haiti collection star to give away. To enter, please leave a comment below. A winner will be randomly chosen on December 27. 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #CleverHaiti

Thursday, December 13, 2012

4 Years

Today my husband and I celebrate our 4th anniversary. It has been a crazy few years, but through it all, I have had my biggest fan and supporter by my side. I am so lucky to be married to my best friend.

Happy 4th Anniversary to us!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Traditions

My husband and I met, courted and got married here in Orlando. Over that time we developed a number of traditions. Now that we are back here, it is so nice to be able to participate in them again.

One of those traditions was Candlelight Processional at Epcot. I fell in love with Candlelight when I was working at Epcot during my college program. It is the combination of a full orchestra, large choir and the Christmas story. Several of my favorite things. 

I introduced my husband to Candlelight the Christmas after we started dating and we went at least once a year. It was one of the many things I always missed while living away.

Since it was our first year back, we decided to go all out this year and do one of the dinner packages. It was also a great way for us to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary.
Happy Anniversary to us!

We started the night off with dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel at the Mexico pavilion. The table was nice and cozy and right next to the water. With the dinner package, you get a ton of food. We had an appetizer, main course and dessert. It was all really good and I was very full at the end. I should have taken pictures of dinner, but I forgot.

After dinner, we took a ride on the boats in Mexico and then wondered around the countries for a bit. It is always fun to explore the pavilions. I love the ornaments in Germany and the unique finds in Japan.

We had great seats.
Then it was showtime. Since we had reserved seating for the show, we walked up about 20 minutes before the show. It was great, because we got seats right in the middle. 

As always, the show was amazing. The narrator was not my favorite, but honestly you could put just about anyone in there and I would be happy.

After the show, we did a little shopping. Took a look at the new test track and headed home. It was a weeknight, so I didn't want to be out to late.

So pretty.
This is just one of my favorite Christmas traditions. What are some of your favorite traditions?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

November - The Month of Birthdays

Now that we live in Florida again, November means one thing...birthdays. While most people are thinking about turkey and stuffing, we are getting ready for three very special birthdays all at the end of November. My sister-in-law, nephew and youngest niece are all Thanksgiving babies. While we went the traditional gift route for the my sister-in-law, we took the kids on a couple of special birthday adventures.

First off was our nephew, who turned 7 this year. It still blows my mind that he is 7. He was just a few months old when my husband and I met. We took him to Gatorland the Saturday before his birthday to celebrate.

We got to the park about one in the afternoon and went on the train first. This was actually a really great way to get a feel for the park and see where things are located. We then headed to the gator jumparoo show. Here trainers get the gators will jump for food. While it was the perfect fall day for us (about 75 degrees and sunny), it was still a little chilly for the gators.

After the show, my husband took the nephew to look a the snakes (I am deathly afraid so I waited for them in another area). Then we saw the white alligators. They were mostly white with blue eyes and something you definitely don't see everyday.
Even this picture gives me chills.

Next up was the close encounters show. Here you got to get up close and personal with a number of creepy creatures, including 3 snakes. This was not my favorite show. My husband got chosen as a volunteer and I thought I was going to lose him, but thankfully he survived. After the show, we went to feed the gators. They were still moving a little slow and not really fighting over the food, but it was neat to see them so close.
I think he has a career.

Then came the gator wrestling. Before the show began, my nephew got a chance to be a junior gator wrestler and sit on a gator for a photo. A different gator was chosen for the actual show and he was feisty. Which made for a great show.

We then headed out into the gator breading marsh and got up close and personal with some pretty large gators. We also climbed to the top of the observation deck and took a look at all the gators in the marsh.

Last up was a photo with a gator. This was on my nephew's list all day and I was excited it turned out well. I knew Gatorland would be fun, but I was really impressed with the park. There was a lot to do and it is someplace we will go again. They have zip lines over the gator pit and that sounds like my kind of fun.

While coming up with something to do with a 7 year old boy was easy, we had to rack our brain for somewhere to take my 4 year old niece for her birthday. Especially since the theme parks were out—they would have caused some major sibling rivalry. After a bit of brainstorming, we settled on taking her to ICE! at Gaylord Palms. It had been a number of years since we had gone and the addition of the characters from the movie Madagascar made it sound like a great place for a 4 year old.

A couple of days after her birthday, we picked her up after work and we headed to the resort. Trying to explain ICE! to a 4 year old was a little difficult, but she was excited. When we go there, she wanted her hat and scarf on immediately. 

Gingy the Gingerbread man was out taking photos when we arrived, but she was not really interested. The penguins were another story. She was excited to meet and get a photo with some of her favorite animals. It was super sweet to see her give them both big hugs.

I need to either stand or kneel. I look so awkward.

After the penguins, we went into the pre-show area and got the background story about how Santa had ended up in Madagascar. It was really cute and then it was time for our parkas. My niece was super excited to put on both her coat and the blue ICE! parka. She may not have been able to move, but she was going to be warm.

We entered the ICE! area and I swear it is colder than it used to be. Or, I may just be more of a wuss. We walked through the display and took a few pictures. We thought the ice slides were going to be a hit, but she wasn't interested, so we moved on. I think ICE! may have been colder than my Florida born niece was expecting, but she seemed to enjoy it. 

Man it was cold.

After returning our coats, we headed into the resort to take a look at the decorations and other Christmas items. I often forget just how nice of a resort it is. She enjoyed seeing everything except the alligators. (Good thing we didn't take her to Gatorland.) After exploring the resort, we headed home and called it a night.

Now that birthday month is over, it is time for Christmas month to begin. Christmas is my favorite holiday, so I am super excited. We have some really exciting plans for the holiday this year.

What is the most fun you have ever had for a birthday? What is your favorite holiday?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stepping Bravely into 2007

This week has been insane. We got back to Orlando at about 1 a.m. Monday morning, then had two birthday celebrations this week and I have been battling the plague (or maybe just a really bad cold) since we landed. Then to top it all off, my phone died.

On Monday, it seemed like it just wouldn't charge, but after doing some troubleshooting I soon realized that it was a bigger problem. The phones power system was on the fritz and that meant I got about 45 minutes of idle time or one short phone call when I put in a fresh battery. Not optimal.

Now, I really can't complain. I got about two and a half years out of the phone with just one minor issue. That said, it was beyond the point of trying to fix it and we just needed to suck it up and buy a new phone, or actually phones, since my husband's phone was the same age as mine

After looking at the phone options we decided on the iPhone 4s. I really wanted the Samsung galaxy 3, but after really looking at it it wasn't worth the extra hundred dollars. Since I need to keep this phone for the next two years, I wasn't willing to take the risk on the new Windows phone. It looks really fun, but we'll see if it catches on. I wanted access to lots of apps.

My new and old phones. BB you will be missed.
I am a klutz, so a heavy duty case was a
must for the iPhone.

Since I spent most of yesterday on the couch sick, I had some time to play with my new toy. So far the things that I like about the phone include: access to aps, a better camera and a display that acts more like a computer. The things that I am not loving are no external message indicator (I liked my blinky red light), no separate mailbox icons (I have too many email addresses), not having google maps and the weight and size of the phone. Like most Apple products it is much heavier than it looks like it should be.

It is great to have a phone. It is frightening how lost I felt without one. Almost like missing an appendage. I am just hoping the iPhone behaves better than the Mac I have for work. That thing is constantly giving me problems.

What type of phone do you have? Do you love it? Any must have aps?