Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Long Awaited Weekend Getaway

Doug and I went to Mexico over the weekend. It was incredible. It was much, much needed and absolutely wonderful.
Let me give you the back story... last spring as I was getting reimbursement checks from work and little extra checks for outside work and such, I started putting the money aside in an envelope planning a surprise getaway trip for me and Doug. As the dollars built up in my dresser drawer, I knew I had to do something more permanent with them or I would just spend my savings on groceries.  So I talked with a banker friend and asked if I should open a separate checking account and he suggested that I work with a friend of mine over at Cowboy Way Travel ( http://www.cowboywaytravel.com/) and that they could set me up an escrow account and that I'd give them money as I could and then when I had enough to do something, they would let me know.
I have to say, I was a little leery. I'm just going to hand my money over and it's just going to sit there until it's needed? Well, I trusted my friend that works at the travel agency and my banker friend, so why not. I went in last May and started my fund. It was actually pretty fun. By setting up the account, I couldn't change my mind and buy tires or pay medical bills or help with closing/moving costs... all things that came up during the year and things I would have spent my money on if I hadn't given it to Cowboy Way.
So over the summer as I had extra money come in, I dropped it off and into my account. I got a little time away from the kids and looked through travel catalogs that I was given and in the end, went with the suggested resort from Cowboy Way. It's called El Dorado Spa Resort.
I am sooo glad I did!! I truly don't think I would have ever noticed this resort on my own, nor would I have known how to take care of all of the details! I'm a somewhat seasoned traveler so I didn't really think that I needed a travel agency to do my leg work. Turns out, there is a reason you go to the pros!
Side note: I ended up telling Doug where we were going in January... had to, life got in the way and he needed to have something tangible to look forward to just as much as I did!
Friday morning we set off for the airport. We made great time until we got to the horrible traffic near the airport. It's a daily known horror. One that we are so very thankful to not have to endure very often! Once we finally made it to the airport we parked the car and hightailed it to the terminal.
At that point, I was super thankful for the travel arrangements. We walked right past the "big name" airlines that had hundreds of people waiting to check in and get their boarding passes and walked right up to the airline we were on. Within 20 minutes of parking our car we had boarding passes and had even made it through security. We had plenty of time to chill! Here we are waiting to board!
The flight was quick and going through customs was easy. We headed out the front of the airport with specific instructions on where to find our ride and quickly were settled in a van and were on our way to the resort! That was cool. Everything was taken care of!!
Notice that we are the only passengers in the van! That was awesome.
When we arrived at the hotel, this car was sitting out front. nice.
These are from the back of the main lobby building.
When we checked in, we were told that we had been upgraded. Cool. We had booked a junior jacuzzi suite, but we got the Oceanfront, swim up junior jacuzzi suite. Big difference. We of course didn't know that when we booked. The original room would have been great, but this was awesome.

The above pictures are mine. Well obviously, Doug is in one. But the below picture is off the El Dorado website http://www.eldoradosparesorts.com/ . Take note.. the furnishing are actually what is in the room! That is truth in advertising!


It was about 3:30 and we hadn't had lunch yet, so we immediately went to try out a restaurant. Here is Doug in one of the outside restaurants.  One of the things I most appreciated was that you had to wear clothes to sit at a table and eat! Some women just went with light cover ups, but most people followed the dress code and actually changed to eat their meals. It was a really nice touch.
And here I am after we ate. We ate at a Caribbean restaurant. It was good!

Then we hit the sand. And the hammock. That's what was soo cool! From our room we could rest in the hammock, lay on the chaise lounge in water or walk across the bridge to the beach. LOVE!

I won't bore you with all the details of the weekend. But I did run every morning.  I had too! The food was incredible! I even saw a MONKEY on my run! I have to say, I look pretty good after an almost 5 mile run. It must be the sun and beach behind me!
Here is the view outside our front door.
And the view in front of "our" bridge.

I know this post has become long, but I have to mention one more thing. The food. Incredible. But even better, the staff. A couple of times there were frustrating things, like a restaurant being closed for a private wedding event and you don't know until you get there after you have walked a quarter mile.. but the staff took these things and seemed to look for ways to make it an opportunity to exceed your expectations. And they did every time! One of the staff members at the Villa's Italian restaurant took a special liking to us and we him. We even have a picture with him. (it's on Doug's phone..that's why it isn't here.) It's those moments that we will remember.

It's funny, everyone said as we were leaving, we will see you next year. And I can see that. I don't know that we will be able to get away just the two of us like this next year, but you can bet that I'll be asking Cowboy Way about the family resort that the parent company for the El Dorado owns!

And that was our weekend. We arrived back at DFW at 4:20pm and spent the next two hours waiting in line at customs and immigration. ugh. The US is great at long lines and inefficiency!

Side note: if any of you wonder if we got a kickback for me basically endorsing this resort. nope. But man, if El Dorado or Karisma want to pay for a trip for my family sometime I am ALL OVER THAT!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Repurposed Display Case... Take Two!!

This is where I left you last time. I liked the window frame. I love the medals with the frame, but I wasn't in love with the final product. But I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, because I didn't want to "finish" it and then not be able to open it to add additional medals.

After thinking about it a couple of days, I decided to make a TEMPORARY backer and to staple the ribbons to the backer so that I could easily add more ribbons to the piece.  Here is the back of the frame. What I did was to cut a black mat board to size and then position the ribbons on the board. I then stapled the top ribbon to the board and hid the staple with the top ribbon. I then hammered in finishing nails on 3 sides of the frame. I put them in close enough to hold the board in place, but left a little wiggle room so that I can easily take the board out.

Then I took a piece of foam board and cut it to size and smushed it into the back of the frame. No nails or tape or anything here.

And here you go!! Soo much better!!

 The really cool thing about crafting things is that you have the freedom to change and redo stuff.

 TAKE TWO is much better!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

repurposing for a unique display case

In my parent's remodel of their house (see side bar for their link .. Not Too Old For A New Adventure) they took out all of the old windows and replaced them with modern windows. Had to happen!

With that came a couple of dozen craft projects just waiting to commence! Dad and I were talking about all of the fun things he could do with them, when I had an idea. I had been trying to decide on a better way to display my running medals as my closet wall just didn't seem like the coolest place. I had worked way too hard to hide them!

So I got the smallest of the windows available and brought it home and started cleaning it. It was rather filthy! See below! I scrapped all of the rough edges, dirt and filth off it.

Then I got some matte finish varnish and put 3 coats on all sides to encapsulate the remaining flaking (and I'm sure lead) paint. This also gave the wood a nice deep golden color.

I considered a number of ways to hang the medals, but I decided for now, stapling the ribbon to the frame of the window worked best. I didn't want to do anything truly permanent since the more races I run, the more finisher medals I will earn!

And here it is in my bedroom! I have to say, I love the way it looks. I purposely left the space open on the side and didn't space the ribbons out as I have plans to run at least 2 more 1/2 marathons and a full marathon THIS YEAR!!

And if you noticed that it's not centered on the wall, well, I rushed home and hung it during my conference. Doug wasn't there to measure and all that. So I just went with it. He can square it up later :)!!

Aren't you inspired now to go run!! Okay, maybe inspired to go salvage a window?

Monday, April 22, 2013

So Long STAAR and a circle to make you cry

It's frustrating really. Maddie has worked and pushed all year to be ready for the )*(&&*^%$ STAAR test. The tests are tomorrow and Wednesday. And guess what? Maddie is sick... contagious in fact and can't go to school! She has a viral infection in her mouth that has caused her to have tons of ulcers. Yuck. so she can't go tomorrow and is FINALLY seeing the ENT on Wednesday. This means she misses the tests. I asked one of her teachers about it tonight as we were both at an event and he didn't think she'd get to make it up. Oh man, if they put her in tutorials for not taking the test this mama bear is going to go on a rampage.

And on to something pleasant. Tonight was Circle of Heroes. It's a ceremony type event where the senior National Honor Society students choose one person who has made an impact on their lives. This was the 5th year it has been done at our school. I have been privileged to be invited I think four times now. It is truly an amazing hour. Each senior tells about their "hero" and why he or she has impacted their life. There were some gut-wrenching stories. My impact is not one of those. I am thankful that I give artists a voice. That's my job and it's rewarding and gratifying. At this point in the year it is really nice to hear a thank you!

And that's it for tonight. Life here is in fast forward crazy times. But summer will be here soon!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Finding her niche

This week Maddie went to color guard mini camp. She really enjoyed it. Look at that smile!
 (I stole the above picture from the color guard instructor of facebook. Thanks Stephanie!)

Even with a busy schedule, Maddie found time every day after camp to practice a little out in the back yard. On Monday night (the first night of camp) the wind was pretty strong and it whipped the flag around and bonked Maddie in the mouth. It cut the inside of her mouth, but looked fine. The next morning it was swollen and looked icky. Now Friday, it's not as swollen but the inside of her mouth where it cut it is gross! I guess I'll take her to the doctor. Poor Maddie, she can't catch a break!

But as usual, she perseveres and excels.

Tonight after the camp, they had a showoff. And boy they did. I love color guard. I know it's because I twirled the baton at her age so it makes me remember those sweet times (and in junior high, there aren't many sweet times!)

Here are some pictures from her performance. Doesn't she look like a natural!!? :)

I really think Maddie has found her niche with band and color guard. She loves dance class and loves band, so perfect! I guess I better enjoy next fall where I only have to go to home football games, cause I'm thinking I'll be going to every football game for four years when Maddie gets to high school!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Conquering Cancer 5k

Last weekend was a big running weekend in our house. On Saturday we had a Conquering Cancer 5k and Family 1 mile fun run. This was a big deal for us as the two families involved in this race are near and dear to our hearts.
Shari, in the below picture with Lexi is fighting breast cancer. She's one of my mom's closest friends, she taught Maddie in Kindergarten and is practically a family member. 
The other family is the Esquivel's. Their little baby, Riley was diagnosed with cancer at a month old or so! He's being held by his dad, Maddie's science teacher. Coach Esquivel is also a football coach and a champion of Maddie's.

Needlesstosay, this was not a benefit race that we were going to miss. Maddie wasn't able to go as she had Choir Solo and Ensemble. Bummer.

However, the rest of us participated! This was Lexi's first race!!

Here they are before the race. Kylie wasn't so impressed. She didn't like how the bib felt pinned on.

Lexi and Emma, ready to run!

I only signed up for the 1 mile as I was running the 1/2 marathon the next day. Good thing about doing that is that I got to take lots of pictures!

The races started with the 1 mile. Doug decided to run with us and use it as a warm up.

Kylie didn't last very long.
But how cute is that!

And look at this runner! Look at her form!! and if Blogger had allowed me to, I would have made the picture bigger so that you could see the joy on her face!
I'm thinking I have a running buddy!

After the fun run, all of the 5kers lined up for the timed run.

And they are off! Of course you don't get faces, they are too busy starting runkeeper!

During the race Kylie ate three blueberry muffins. I guess watching others run and being carried made her hungry!
And there is Doug coming in. I think it was his best time yet! Go Doug!!

I love how we were able to support our friends and our community and begin sharing a running bond with our girls. I am so very aware that we live in a very special place and am incredibly thankful that God brought us back to this community to raise our children.