2010 in pictures

In January, Summer girl was working on heading home

Skye did make it home before the SuperBowl

Stephen turned 14 on January 18

Valentine's Day... a little early

I spent a week in Oregon with the Brocks

What a fun week it was!

Summer went to be with Jesus on February 26. She made an indelible mark on my life.

We spent St. Patrick's Day in NYC!

It was my very first time in the Big Apple

We also spent some time with Andrew's mom's family

Mom had a birthday on March 29

In April, this little cutie turned two

We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with the Gentiles

Kelly graduated from high school

Mom, Stephen, and I flew to Michigan for cousin Marc's wedding

Olivia turned one in June

Evan turned one in July

In August, Andrew started law school, so we spent a night at the beach to commemorate it

I also had a birthday

In September, we spent some time in Destin with the whole Irvin family.  Amazingly, I don’t have any pictures.


We celebrated my birthday with some friends in the beginning of September

Other than Kelly’s birthday, I have no idea what we did in October.  That’s a little depressing.


In November, we celebrated Andrew's birthday

We also celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary

In December, Mom and I went on a FREE trip to Colorado

Our Christmas party with ladies from our work Bible study


Tracy's birthday was December 19

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

We saw, did, and learned a lot this year, and I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness through it all.  Bring on 2011!!


Big Red Bus

I don’t think that I will be visiting the big red bus again for a while.  It tried to knock me out today.

You see, after they had taken three units of blood from me, I proceeded to get up and walk to the door, anxious to get back to work since I knew that my babies would be hungry.  All was well until I opened the door after a short struggle (the thing just did not want to open!!) and stepped out onto the steps.  It was then that the stairs decided that they should rise up to meet me.  I did not pass out, I did not grow faint–I slipped.  I fell smack dab on my back, scraped my left elbow and banged up my hands.  Thankfully, none of my coworkers were around to watch this embarrassing moment, but the blood bank lady did and after much protest on my part, brought me back up the stairs and inside.  Thinking that I had passed out, they then proceeded to wipe me down with a cold wet towel, even though I was actually quite cold.  After a few minutes, I really did need to get out of that bus and back to work, so I tentatively opened the door and again stepped out into the cold.  I actually made it to the ground in the correct manner this time.  At the same time that I walked out, a secretary from my unit was passing by and asked “Are you okay?”

“Why?!” I asked, “Did someone call?!?!?”

“No,” she replied, “I’m just out walking.”

“Oh, okay.”

I then walked back to the unit very quickly where I met my coworker Angela.  She tried to give blood, too, but because she had recently been out of the country, they would not let her give.  The first thing she said was, “Are you okay?”  The same conversation followed, except I actually had to tell her the truth.  She then had to tell the charge nurse, who then had to fill out an employee injury report.

We all had a good laugh and I am very thankful that I landed on a spot on my back that is not metallic.  Tonight, though, I am taking some precautions to make sure that I am not doubled over in pain tomorrow.

The next two days at work should prove very interesting.

A Radical Life?

I’ve been reading Radical by David Platt for the past few weeks, and by reading I mean glossing over snippets a few minutes at a time when I’ve had a free moment at work.  As you may have come to realize, if any book is difficult or challenging in its subject matter, it is pretty much a guarantee that I will not devour the book.  In fact, it will most likely take me several months to read.  This is not a good thing and I have tried to improve (i.e. my project of reading a book a week), though unsuccessfully.  I really do need to finish this book this week though, since I received it for free and need to post a review in order to hold up my end of the deal.

Anyway, without actually giving a review of the book now, but trying to work through some of the thoughts I have read and now must process, I write this post.  The question that I keep asking myself is “now what?”  What am I supposed to do with what I have read?  What will I do to impact the world around me for Christ and His kingdom?  My traditional response has always been that I will live my life in a way that honors Christ, but that is a little bit hollow because it is only sentiment, not action.  So what is my plan?  Will I simply have a good attitude at work when crazy people act like they are the only people on this earth?  Will I give all that I possess to the poor?  What will I do with Jesus?

Two Tickets

I realized today that I never did write about the last book I read Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul, so here we go!

I was a little hesitant to read it at first because I knew we would be meeting the author and I was afraid that I wouldn’t like it.  I should never have feared!  It turns out that it was a very sweet and well written book about a young woman, Cora, who wanders onto an enchanted street into a bookstore run by a family of wizards.  She ends up meeting one of her coworkers, Simon, there and they are both given tickets to the Wizards’ Christmas Ball.  A romance slowly evolves, but wrench is thrown in their plans when Cora’s sister shows up and tries to ruin things.

I’m not much for magic stories, but this story isn’t so fantastical that I was turned off to it.  The story is lovely and a quick read, I finished it in about 5 hours, and I think that it’s one that I will read around Christmastime every year.

No Words

After working for a few hours today, I tried to get on the highway to go see my sister-in-law when I came across some roadblocks.  It took me a minute before I realized that the roadblocks were there for the funeral procession of slain police officer Brandon Coates.  When I realized what was happening, there was no way that I could be frustrated because of the extra time it would take me to get to my destination.  What really mattered was that a young woman, a newlywed really, had lost her husband and as if it could get worse, it happened just before Christmas.  I said a prayer for Virginia Coates, a deputy herself and asked that God would give her the peace and comfort that only He can.

I just can’t imagine what she is going through right now.


Forgive the poor pictures, but I wanted to show you one particular house in our neighborhood.

You definitely wouldn't see this in my yard... but I love that someone else has it in theirs!

There are probably over a dozen blow up ornaments on this person's lawn

The other side of the lawn

This house decided against going "all out"

I love Christmas lights!

Day Three

Inside the caves

Our final full day in Colorado Springs was just as wonderful as the days preceding it; we went to the Cave of the Winds in the morning, where we took a Lantern Tour.  It was just like it sounded… we had a lantern for light on our tour of the cave.  It was a neat experience, but the downside of only having a lantern for a light, was that you only have a lantern for light.  It would have been nice to see a little more and if I had been able to figure out how to correctly use my camera.  The guide was funny and told a lot of ghost stories about the guy who found the cave and turned it into a business, but we did feel a little bit rushed through the tour.  I think that I would probably go again, but only if we could get the military discount.


At the canyon near the caves

After our cave tour, we went through Garden of the Gods one more time before just chilling for the afternoon.  In the evening we headed out to Glen Eyrie for the Madrigal Banquet.  It was amazing!  I wish that I could have taken a picture during the daytime, because the castle is absolutely spectacular.  It must have been absolutely amazing to live there.


We drove up to have our car valet parked and were then greeted by a bagpiper

There was a coat of armor in the grand entryway

A beautiful Christmas tree near the coat check and also near the wassail table

Please forgive some of these bad pictures… still trying to figure that camera out.

The Lord and Lady of the manor
They had soup, salad, fish, pork, and bread pudding. The fish and pork fell flat for us.. but the presentation of the boar’s head was neat.
Mom and I at our table. We had really nice tablemates; one of the ladies used to be the food and beverage manager for Glen Eyrie.

There were two sets of singers for the evening: one was from the Broadmoor that entertained us while we sipped our wassail and roamed around before dinner and the other sang and danced during dinner between courses.  The set that sang during the meal is a group of volunteers that sound amazing!  In fact, they sang one set of songs during dessert that moved me to tears and really made me miss singing in a group setting.  I even started looking up choirs in the area when I got home, but no luck so far.

Anyway, there was also a troupe of wandering troubadours (or threebadours, or fourbadours, as they liked to say) that provided the comic relief for the evening.  I took a picture with them during one of the intermissions and they were certainly very friendly, but reeked of smoke!

One of the best things about the Madrigal Banquet and hearing Handel’s Messiah was the realization that if they were listening, unbelievers were hearing the Gospel!  It really was wonderful to think about; Christmas is a time when people in general are so much more receptive to the Word.



Little Christmas village

On Sunday morning before catching our plane home, we ran into the Broadmoor because Mom wanted to see their Christmas display.  Earlier in the week, we saw that they had a cookie/pastry display set up and we expected it to be really big, similar to what they do at the Grand Floridian.  Boy, were we wrong!  It was one table with a dozen or so little houses.  Don’t get me wrong, it was well done, just not what we expected.  We walked around for a few minutes and admired all of the architectural details in the main building and the decor on the grounds.  It is a really lovely place and I think that I would enjoy staying there.

Finally, our trip was over and we boarded our plane to come home.  It was such a nice trip and Waterbrook Multnomah ended up giving us enough money in gift cards that we really didn’t have to pay for anything out of pocket!  I am so glad that Mom and I were able to take this trip; it was great to spend some one-on-one time with her and just get away from everything for a little while.  Thank you Waterbrook Multnomah!!!!!!!!

Day Two

In front of the train

Friday was another fun day in Colorado Springs.  We took it easy in the morning, visiting a local Kohl’s and doing some shopping.  At noon we boarded the Cog Train to Pike’s Peak.  We didn’t know it, but the road up to the peak closed a few days before, and it was a good thing because winds were upwards of 80 miles per hour and I would not have wanted to drive in that wind!  Because the winds were so high, we were only able to get to about 12,000

feet, 2,000 short of the peak.  We sat next to two gentlemen, one from Florida and one who was local who told us more about the history of Pike’s Peak and the different trails you can take to getto the top.  I’m definitely adding climbing Pike’s Peak to my bucket list; there are several different trails and you can climb it in as little as 4 hours!  The trip up was very pleasant and we saw lots of different rock formations.  It almost looks as if God took a handful of {huge} rocks and just threw them asunder.  So cool, and the views of the surrounding areas are absolutely stunning!


After Pike’s Peak, we went to Old Colorado City which has lots of little shops and reminded me a lot of St. Augustine.  We stopped at a French Bakery and paid too much for a pecan roll and chocolate croissant… oh well!  Then we walked into a few little stores before finding The Honey Cottage where probably spent 20 minutes browsing through all different types of honey from Florida {haha… I was not going to travel all this way only to buy honey from my home state} to high elevation spots in Colorado and talking to the owner of the shop, who also happened to be from Florida.  It is a really tiny little store, but really cute and the shop owner is very nice.

Excellent performance

Once we were done shopping, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the USAFA Choir’s performance of Handel’s Messiah.  When we stopped by the Academy on Wednesday, the lady who worked there said that in her ten years of working there, she had never seen the concert full and that we would have no trouble finding a seat.  Boy, was she wrong!  We arrived right on time and the place was jam packed.  Some spots of the performance were a little rough, but overall they did a great job and Mom and I really enjoyed it.

What a great day in Colorado Springs!

Colorado Springs

Mom and I in the Houston airport waiting for our plane... they had to replace the brakes

Well, Mom and I have been in Colorado Springs for about 24 hours now and we have had such a great time!  Last night our plane arrived about half an hour late, no big deal, but it was already dark outside at 5 pm!!  At least the extra time on the plane gave us the opportunity to finish Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball, the book that this sweepstakes is promoting (I’ll write more about that in another post).  We came straight to the hotel, unpacked, exercised, got some dinner, and started picking out what we wanted to see and do today.

Me in front of the Cadet Chapel

First thing this morning we grabbed some breakfast and then headed out to the United States Air Force Academy.  It was a little different than I expected, no Cadets walking around (they were all in class), not much in the way of landscaping, and deserted!  In spite of the sparse landscaping, the campus was beautiful; I can only imagine that it is even more gorgeous in spring/summer when everything is actually green.  We took our time, stopping at the BX to stock up on bottled water and some other necessities before we stopped at the Community Chapel for a quick second.  There we saw some patches of snow {read ice} before we headed off to the Visitor’s Center.  We saw some lovely views of the mountains on our “hike” to the Cadet Chapel and even managed to catch a glimpse of a few Cadets.  The top floor (behind me) is the Protestant Chapel which has a huge pipe organ, and the floor beneath that is the Catholic Chapel.  Behind that are the Jewish and Buddhist Chapels.  The Jewish Chapel was a smallish but pretty round room, and the Buddhist Chapel was about the size of a bedroom with pillow on the floor for meditation.  We’re planning on going back tomorrow night to listen to the Cadet’s sing Handel’s Messiah.  I’m excited to have something to do after dark since we can’t really do anything else!

Mom, me, Donita, and Evangeline

After the Chapel, we quickly changed our clothes before heading off to Zio’s to meet author Donita K. Paul and her daughter Evangeline Denmark.  We had a lovely time chatting with them and could have spent the whole day hanging out with them.  Both ladies were very nice and we engaged in conversation easily.  Donita was so sweet and brought us a gift bag with a few of her books and some jewelry that she has started making.  Check out her website and Evangeline’s blog if you have a few minutes, they are really neat ladies.

After lunch we headed out to Garden of the Gods, a very rocky park that is F.R.E.E.!! {My mom has been making fun of me for being a little cheap on this trip, but I want to make sure that our money stretches!!}  We arrived just before the sun started setting (about 3:30) so we walked around for a while to see the big rock formations, and then drove around the rest of the park.

On our way out of Garden of the Gods we ended up passing through Manitou Springs, so we stopped for a few minutes to see the cute little shops that they had.  During lunch with Donita, she warned us that there were a lot of Wiccans in the area, and we did see some of their influence.  We didn’t spend too long there, but did stop in a chocolate shop and bought some really yummy chocolate mousse cupcakes.  We had some leftovers that we meant to eat for dinner… but ended up just eating the cupcakes 🙂