Monday, November 30

What am I thankful for?

It's the time of year when everyone stops what they are doing to sit down and think about what they are thankful for. Personally, I try to do this more than once a year, but we all get busy and life slips by right before our eyes. So this year I thought I would sit down and make a list of some of the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for:

  • Jesus Christ, my savior, who died on the cross and took my sin so that I can live an eternal life. Without the love and mercy of Christ I would be nothing.
  • A loving, supportive and absolutely amazing husband. Josh has been my best friend for nearly 7 years. He's been by my side as a constant and has never strayed. God has blessed us with each other and I know that He has blessed our marriage. It is incredible to be living with the one person I love most in this world and even better knowing that God is watching over us.
  • A family that is ever-growing. I've had an amazing family my entire life. A fabulous mother who always knew what to say/do and when to do it, a caring and supportive father to lead the way and show me love, an older brother who helped pave the way for me to become an adult, a beautiful sister in law who loves my brother dearly and a sister that has captured my heart with her vivacious personality and caring heart. This year my blessings have grown, I now have new members of my family and I feel so very blessed to be a part of theirs. The Morgans ( and extended family members ) are such an incredible group of individuals. They are some of the most caring, loyal, open and honest people I've ever met, spending this Thanksgiving with them really showed me how lucky I am to have been welcomed in with open arms.
  • Friends. Friends are hard to come by these days. Some friends come and go as they please, making your acquaintance whenever it's convenient for them. My friends, however, surpass them all. I have such caring and devoted friends who would lay their lives down for me knowing that I would fully do so in return. We have selfless friendships, always striving to show kindness and generosity to one another, pushing each other to be better women and leaning on each other in times of despair. God really knew what He was doing when He brought these ladies into my life.
  • A wonderful job. These days a good job is hard to find. I am truly thankful to have a job that is not only steady and worth while, but also Christ based. Our boss is an amazing man of God who gives of himself to help others. He is an inspiration to all of the employees and in turn we all strive to uphold the name of THG.
  • Our home. I know how rare it is to start a marriage off with a beautiful brand new home. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to build and continue to show gratitude for what we've been given.
There are many more things that I could add to this list. I am thankful for so much in this life, it's important to make an effort to sit down every now and again to think about all of the blessings in our lives. It's also important to share with others your gratitude for their roll in your life- so for each and every one of my friends and family, thank you for being a light in my life, for constantly showing me compassion and support and for blessing me with your friendship. This is a beautiful time of the year and I look forward to celebrating with you all!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Weekends fly right on by!

I am sitting here looking at my computer amazed at the fact that we are now on the last day of November. It's incredible how quickly time passes when you've grown up. Where did the days go where we sat around the house bored out of our minds wishing things would hurry up? I find myself longing for those days more and more. :)

The weekend before Thanksgiving was a very busy one. Friday after work Josh and I ran errands and worked on getting the house unpacked a little more. That night our friend Morgan moved into the neighborhood and we were blessed to spend some time with her family as they helped bring her belongings in. Her home is beautiful and I am so excited to have her as a neighbor!

Later that night we went to see The Blind Side with Michael and Kim at the new Movie Grill downtown. The movie was incredible, we all really enjoyed it. So if you're looking for a great flick to see, it's definitely worth the money.

Saturday Josh and I ran even more errands, but most importantly ordering our blinds! We have been living in our home for over a month without any window coverings (except for some curtains in our bedroom). We're looking forward to that delivery. Hopefully sometime next week!

Saturday night Josh and I went to see Wade Bowen at Billy Bob's with Jamie and Kenneth along with his sister and her fiance. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed spending time with them.

Sunday morning I was up at the crack of dawn... well actually before dawn, to get ready for work at the Cowboy Stadium that morning. I did some promotional modeling outside of the stadium before the game... It was fun getting to see so many excited fans, too bad the Boys didn't follow through and give us a W.

Later that day Jami and Kristi came in for a visit. We played Wii for a bit and then the girls convinced Josh to bring out his guns. It sure took a lot of arm pulling to get him to do so, haha. ;) They had so much fun learning how to hold the guns, it was absolutely hilarious.

That night a group of our friends went out to Gloria's to celebrate Cameron and wish her goodbye in good style. Cam moved back home in August from St. Louis to start a new chapter in her life. She spent her time here living with my folks and lending a helping hand to anyone who was in need. I know that her stay was short but it was definitely worth while. She touched our lives so much more than she'll ever know and there are several other people here who would agree. Sometimes we may not understand God's plan, or why we lose the ones we love, but He knows what He is doing and I know that He brought Cameron to us when we needed her most. I am just thankful that we had what little time we were given. As much as it hurt to see her go, we trust that God is at work and that her life will continue to blossom. We miss you Cam.

Monday, November 16

Deer Season

Poor Josh agreed to get married in the prime of hunting seasons... I knew that as soon as we were married he would want to go out and hunt, and I was perfectly fine with that.

This past weekend we drove out to Ore City (where his grandparents live) to do some hunting and spend some time with family.

We arrived late Friday night and spent time with one set of grandparents, Grammy and Pepaw. We had a wonderful time catching up and chatting.

The following morning Josh and I got up at 5:30, put on our camo, picked Dad up and headed out for a morning of deer hunting!

It was a beautiful morning with a slight fog, we arrived in Glenwood around 6:30 and headed to our spots. On the way Josh and I spotted a young buck and watched him walk through the pasture- he was beautiful but too young to shoot. A few minutes later as we tip-toed through the woods we came to a stop, another young buck had walked up on us, he was an 8 point but his body was still a little short- so we stood there holding our breath and watched him graze until he caught site of us and jumped off into the woods. I had never in my life been that close to a deer, it was incredible!

We didn't end up seeing anything more that morning, it was simply too hot and windy. But it was wonderful to spend some time in silence just enjoying God's creation.

When we weren't hunting we were spending time in the Rehab center with his grandparents. It was really difficult for me to see two amazing individuals in such a horrible state. Mimi has been doing better and showing a lot of progression, I only wish we could say the same about Papa. It simply broke my heart... Watching the family come together to show love and compassion for him was wonderful, I had no words and found myself constantly having to hold back tears. They have only been in my life for 7 years, I cannot imagine what Josh and his family are going through. Prayers are always appreciated- God is all knowing and He has a plan. I believe in the power of prayer and I know that God is capable of incredible miracles. I pray that Papa is one of them.

Wednesday, November 11

New Hair for a New Beginning

As soon as Josh and I were engaged I started to grow out my hair. It wasn't terribly short but I have always wanted to have long curly locks for my wedding day.

This was taken the day Josh and I were engaged...
11 months later, I walked down the aisle with my hair the longest it's ever been and I couldn't have been happier!

Well, we're now home and getting settled into our new house and our new life together and this hair has just been driving me up a wall. It takes absolutely forever to get ready in the morning and is so long that it doesn't look good unless I take the time to really style it. So, after two weeks of contemplation I decided it was time to get a haircut.
After work yesterday Josh went with me to the salon where we cut off at least 5 inches of hair. I was scared, but I think it turned out great!

I feel refreshed and like a new person! The fact that Josh loves it is definitely a huge bonus!

Tuesday, November 10

Honeymoon Day 6

This was the morning we had been dreading all week, our last time waking up in Hawaii. We laid in bed just a while longer reminiscing on our past week full of fun and adventure. Once we finally rolled out of bed we headed down to the resort restaurant for one last amazing breakfast.

We sat at the table with our empty plates for a few minutes, reluctant to get up knowing it would be the last time. But the call of the ocean was too strong and before long we were headed down to the beach.

We spent a couple of hours laying out on our makeshift bed and playing in the waves. We even walked along the shore picking up pieces of corral- we brought the coolest ones back home to put on our coffee table someday. 9:00 rolled around too quickly and we were back in our room showering and packing our bags. Checkout was at 10:00 that morning. Once we ran through our room for the millionth time we headed down to checkout. It was so sad walking the hallways for the last time, but we were both excited to come home to our new lives.

After successfully checking out of our resort we made our way down the winding road toward Lahaina for a morning full of shopping. We were able to go into all of the stores we previously didn't have time for and buy souvenirs for our families and ourselves. It was the perfect day, not too hot and just a slight breeze coming in from the ocean. It made shopping very easy!

For lunch we decided to go to Cheeseburger in Paradise which is right on Front Street and sits on the beach. Neither of us had ever been but were told they had great food. We ordered a Lava Flow (one of the drinks suggested to us by the honeymooning couple on our dinner cruise) to share and burgers and cheese fries for our meal.

Right when we were seated our waitress asked the entire place who was there honeymooning, there were 5 different tables of honeymooners! She would walk to their table, say their names and then the whole restaurant would clap. It was pretty fun! There was even a couple there celebrating 50 some years of marriage, very encouraging! :)

Our food finally came out and we both hungrily attacked our plates. The burgers were pretty good! It was definitely a fun time. The view from our table was also glorious.

After lunch we made our way back to the car and headed toward the airport. On the way to Kahalui there is a scenic overlook that stands 1,000 feet over the ocean. During whale season it is a prime spot to view them. Josh pulled over and we spent some time looking at the beauty of the island. A couple pulled up and started chatting with us about their time in Hawaii, they were at this spot about an hour prior to us and had seen a whale fully surface! Maybe the next time we go to Hawaii we can go whale watching. :) It was finally time to go to the airport.

We turned in our puny Yaris, hopped on the bus to the airport and checked our bags (which was quite the process, definitely made us miss DFW airport). Our flight had been delayed a bit so we waited in the terminal for quite some time. At this point we were both so tired and knew that we had a long flight ahead so we sat together in silence waiting for our section to be called. We boarded the plane around 5:00 Hawaii time and before too long we were in the air on our way home. This flight actually topped the first one in awfulness- a night time flight where you can't lay your seat down and all you have for a pillow is the tiny airline one. Add to that the colds we had and you get a pretty nasty flight. :)

7 hours later, 5:30 Texas time, we had landed in good old DFW. After exiting the plane we walked into baggage claim and were greeted by my mom and our friend Cameron. They had driven our car out so we would have a ride home. So sweet. On the way back home we got to tell our family about the times we had in Hawaii and how much fun we had, it was such a great way to wind down.

We stopped by my parent's house to pick up some last minute stuff and our puppy, Charlie, and then headed to our house for the first time as husband and wife. We had made several trips out to our house over the past few months as it was being built, but each visit was just that, a visit. We never stayed too long. This time was permanent. We had a bed waiting for us where we could catch up on our much needed rest. My mom surprised us by hanging some temporary curtains in our room so we could have a little privacy- we were so relieved that we didn't have to pin blankets up. :)

Exhausted from a week in paradise and an entirely too long night, we jumped in bed snuggling close to one another for the first time in our home. As we drifted off to sleep I couldn't help but let out a giggle... At this moment in time, with my husband by my side, I was blissfully happy.

Monday, November 9

Honeymoon Day 5

Before going to Hawaii we had done a lot of research on what we should do while there. It is hard to plan when you're only going to be in paradise for 6 days- so we decided to only do those things that everyone said we should... So far we had done two of those and today we were going to do the one most suggested one- We were going to drive the road to Hana.

The road to Hana starts in Kahului and winds around the coast of the island until you reach Hana- some choose to go beyond Hana, but the road gets a little more dangerous. There are 56 (one lane) bridges and over 600 turns on this 131 mile (round trip) road. The roads use to be terrible lined with pot holes and ditches, but these days they are smooth and fairly danger free. The only thing you have to worry about is running into an oncoming car turning the corner on their one lane bridges... Very scary.

The morning started off with a delicious resort breakfast. Next we headed to Kahului where we would find the Shell gas station with the Road to Hana map and audio guide. You can drive the road without it but we didn't want to take the chance of missing something incredible so we decided to purchase some help.

At first we couldn't figure out how the tape went with the mile markers on the road- they change and get very confusing. It was pretty frustrating at first to hear the guide talking about something we should have been seeing and nothing like it was around. After our first stop- a scenic hike up the side of the mountain surrounded by rainforest, we finally got in sync with the CD and all was well again.

Our hike during the first stop

Part of the fun is the scenery along the way, you're traveling the coast the entire time and get to incredible elevations with views that take your breath away. We took full advantage of every pull off we could.

After miles and miles of winding roads and beautiful locations we arrived in Hana and took the exit toward the black sand beach. We had saved our packed lunch for a great location and decided this would be the perfect one. We parked our car and started walking the trail toward the beach when we walked into the most beautiful piece of land that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. The sky was a deep, pure blue, the lava formations a rocky black and the greenery looked like something out of a magazine. Every color was popping up at you, definitely a feast for the senses.
Taking in the beauty of God's hand

We unpacked our lunch at a pic-nic table overlooking the beach and ate our lunches in silence. There was so much to take in and so little time to do it. Eager, we finished our food and headed down the trail to the beach. They aren't kidding when they call it the black sand beach- sure enough the sand was black like coffee grounds and closer to the water it turned into smooth, tiny pebbles.

The waves crashed on the shore creating a sweet, fruity smell. I can't imagine a more beautiful place. Josh took pictures while I sat there in awe of God's creation.

Off the beach was a small cave, those who choose to go through it see that it opens up to the ocean, waves crashing inside. That sweet aroma was even more potent in here- I wanted to create a make-shift hammock, curl up with Josh and stay here forever.

We walked more of the location taking pictures all along the way, the sun was beginning its decent and we decided it best to get back on the road.

After a short visit to the Hana harbor we turned around for our trip back to Ka'anapali. The trip back was very peaceful. Both of us were exhausted and it was nice to sit in silence as we traveled through some of Hawaii's most beautiful landscapes.

We got back to our resort right as the sun was about to set and decided to take advantage of our timing and spend our last sunset on the beach. Josh grabbed his camera and I grabbed our beach bag- we spent the remaining daylight hours playing on the beach and taking pictures.

At one point, Josh had gotten calf deep in the water taking pictures and a HUGE wave crashed in front of him, soaking his shorts. Luckily he got the camera up in the air and nothing was damaged- a group of three women enjoying cocktails on the beach had a good laugh with me. One of the ladies asked if we were honeymooning and offered to take a few pictures, they ended up being some of my favorites from our trip.

I played in the water a little longer until being pummeled by a monster wave and hitting my foot on some corral- then laid on the beach with Josh watching the sun dip below the sea line.

After a warm shower and fresh clothes we decided to get some local food for dinner. A friend of the family gave us a list of places to eat in Maui- most were seafood places so we had to pick and choose. We decided to go to Leilani's in Whalers Village near our resort in Ka'anapali.
It is a beautiful restaurant right on the Ka'anapali shore. Of course, we ordered steaks. The food was pretty good (aside from the fact that mine was a bit overdone, hehe) and the company was even better.

After dinner we walked through the swanky shops in Whalers Village, even buying some T-shirts for souvenirs.

By the time we had gotten back to our room it was getting late and both of us were completely drained. It had been a day full of adventure and amazement at what God had given us. As we laid in bed I thought about the many blessings God had provided and couldn't help but let out a sigh of contentment. We had spent our last full day in Hawaii, another incredible day to add to the perfect honeymoon. Tomorrow we would be coming home.

Honeymoon Day 4

Wednesday morning it was definitely a lot harder getting out of bed- we were getting slightly adjusted to the time change making waking up more of a task.

Knowing what the day had in store we reluctantly rolled out of bed, packed our things and headed to Ma'alea Harbor. It's a good 30 minute drive from Ka'anapali and we wanted to make it there with plenty of time to find the right slip on the harbor. It was a beautiful morning with perfect blue skies, I couldn't wait to get out on the ocean.

We walked around the harbor until we found our slip, and there she was, Maui Magic.
We checked in and boarded the boat, grabbed some bagels for breakfast (which was a joke compared to the 5 star treatment we had been getting at our resort all week). Most of the guests on the boat wanted to sit up front so we decided to hit the top deck- it was a beautiful view. We finished our breakfast and listened to a safety lecture before heading out to sea.

On the way to our snorkeling destinations our captain gave a great history of the different places in Maui we were passing. He was a really great guide. About 30 minutes later we arrived to a beautiful location- I can't remember what it was called but it was right off of the coast and had some absolutely stunning lava formations. We stopped for the photo opp and headed back out to deeper waters.

It was here that we slowed down- our captain brought attention to a pack of wild spinner dolphins in the water. I had never seen wild dolphins before so I was very excited! It was amazing to watch them come to the surface and dive back down following the boat the entire time.

Soon the captain came back on and gave an incredible announcement. The visibility in the waters here was 150 feet! We would be using this spot as our first dive site! Everyone was buzzing with excitement, we all hoped the dolphins would stick around long enough for us to get in the water with them. After gearing up (I decided to rent a wet suit to keep a little warmer and was very glad I did- the water was incredibly brisk) we hopped into the water one by one. The coldness was a shock and anyone around me could hear the shortness of my breath and silly noises coming from my snorkel. I gained awareness of what was around me and realized that the pack of dolphins was right behind me!

There were probably 8-10 of them with a little baby, the largest one was around 5 or 6 feet long. The image of these beautiful creatures literally took my breath away. I couldn't believe I was swimming in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a pack of wild dolphins. Even the crew had jumped in the water to get involved in the action. Surprisingly they stuck around the entire time we were in the water- at one point I was a little over a foot away from touching one of their fins. They won't let you touch them though- and I don't blame them. :) Josh stayed back and watched them from a distance, when we were on the boat later he mentioned that every time he looked over, I was the closest one to them.

I had gotten pretty cold by this point so Josh and I decided to get back on the boat and warm up. I asked a crew member how often something like that happened and she replied, "Once in a blue moon." We felt so privileged.

It was now time to head to our final snorkeling destination, the Molokini Crater. This is one of the top ten places to snorkel in the entire world! We arrived to the crater, geared up and jumped back into the water- still just as cold. Everywhere you looked was corral and sea life. It was beautiful! Josh and I took advantage of our underwater camera and had fun taking pictures of each other being goofy. We saw so many different types of fish in all different colors. The pictures just don't do them justice.
Lots of thumbs ups!

After about 30-40 minutes in the water we got back on the boat to some delicious freshly grilled burgers. While we snorkeled our captain took advantage of the boat's grill and made everyone a yummy lunch. By this time most of the other snorkelers had gotten back on the boat and were swapping stories of what they saw. Two of them mentioned that further down the crater there were a couple of sharks swimming near them! Josh and I wanted so badly to jump back in the water and look for them but the warmth of the food in our stomachs was just too lovely. We would have to settle for their stories.

We made our way back to the harbor snuggled up on the top deck taking in the Hawaiian sun. It was the perfect adventure. About a mile or so off shore we came to a stop and the captain came back on the speakers- we had run into some sea turtles! Josh took the camera and tried to grab some pictures but the quality just wasn't that great. It was the one thing I wanted to see in Hawaii and here we were actually seeing them with our own eyes! So unreal.

Once back to the harbor we said our goodbyes (Josh got me an awesome t-shirt) and headed to our car. It was well after 1:00 by this point and we were both VERY tired. After returning to our resort we spent some time relaxing inside. It had been a wonderful, but very long, morning.

The dinners that we had had up to this point were okay- the best being our first night with Pulehu (the Italian place). Both of us were craving an amazing meal with a juicy fillet Mignon so we showered and got all dressed up to head back to Lehaina. Here in Texas, Josh and I stick to our favorite steak places, H3 Steak House, Saltgrass, Outback and Texas de Brazil. We've never ventured out to anything else because we've never needed to! Unfortunately the only one of those in Hawaii is an Outback- and we wanted something a little fancier, so we decided to go to Ruth's Chris Steak House.

The server was very nice- definitely a surfer dude- but the food... the food was absolutely incredible. We both ordered fillets and shared a family order of mashed potatoes. I couldn't believe how delicious the steak was- finally what I had been craving all week! We stuffed our faces and filled our stomachs when the waiter brought out a surprise desert... a tray of chocolate covered strawberries as a congratulations on our honeymoon. They were pretty good, but didn't compare to the ones I had on our wedding night. :)

With full tummies and smiles on our faces we headed back to our resort to get some much needed sleep. Tomorrow we would drive the road to Hana and we definitely needed to be well rested for that!

Friday, November 6

Honeymoon Day 3

After the first night in Hawaii we found a remedy for good sleep- NyQuil! That Tylenol PM stuff just wasn't cutting it. We both woke up around 4 and again at 6:30 but actually slept through most of the night. It was quite exciting.
We hopped out of bed and headed down for another great breakfast, this time only grabbing what we new our stomachs could handle. :)
After breakfast we went back to our villa, grabbed our beach bags and headed towards the beach. It was still pretty early in the morning, so we only dipped our feet in the water before we decided to lay out for a while. Still recovering from jet lag we both passed out on our beachy bed for nearly two hours! I woke up with a rad sunburn on my calf- I had gotten chilly lying in the shade and covered up with a towel, the part of my leg that wasn't covered up had been baking in the sun all morning. Luckily there was not much pain and the burn was gone the next day. We took a dip in the ocean, snorkeled for a bit and decided it was time for lunch.
We had bought a frozen pizza at the supermarket the day before not realizing that we didn't have an oven in our room. We did some research and found out that our microwave had a frozen pizza setting along with a pan to cook it in! So we gave it a shot. About 12 minutes later I found a half burnt pizza in our oven- our hunger had been growing steadily all morning so we decided to eat it anyway. :)
We had scheduled a dinner cruise the day before for this evening and it left out of Lahaina Harbor- we hadn't gotten over to Lahaina yet so after lunch we decided to go check it out. It is only about 10 minutes south of Ka'anapali where we were staying, and a great little drive. You can see locals surfing from the highway all along the coast on the way.

Once in Lahaina we walked down Front street past blocks and blocks of little shops. We stopped in a couple to browse. In one small jewelry shop we found a beautiful flower necklace- Josh asked me if I wanted it but I wanted to do some more looking around, not five minutes later we were back in the store buying it. He didn't want me to settle for anything less. :) We also ran into a man sitting on the street carving big tiki sculptures, he stopped us and asked if we were honeymooning (guess it was kind of obvious) and told us about what he did. He and his family had their own business carving sculptures out of Hawaiian wood. He did the bulk of the carving and his dad did the detailing, they were two VERY nice gentlemen. In front of him were several small sea turtles carved out. He told us that he could carve something on the bottom for us if we wanted- we couldn't turn down something to neat and genuinely authentic- so he took the turtle we picked out, put it between his foot and leg and started carving, "Maui 09 - Hia" His name was Hia (He-a). It was one of the coolest souvenirs we got all week.

We didn't make it half way down the row of shops on Front Street before heading down to the Harbor. Not knowing where the boat was taking off we wanted to try and find it in order to know where to go later that night.
After finding the slip and walking around a little more we loaded up the car and headed back to the resort to get ready for our night out.
5:00 rolled around and we were back in Lahaina, this time a little more dressed up. :) We checked in for our cruise and sat waiting with the other tourists waiting to load the boat. It was a decent sized boat, once boarded we made our way around the front, took a picture and then headed up the ladder to the top where our dinner tables were labeled and waiting for us. At our table was another couple already seated and looking very in love. We saw our name, "Morgan" and took a seat next to them.
It turns out they, too, were honeymooning. They had gotten married the night before in Hawaii- both were in their 50's (though you would have never known that by looking at them) and had just retired. It was really nice to sit and listen to their stories and lessons learned in life, they looked very happy. I ate my salad (Josh didn't care for the sweeter dressing) and a yummy Terra bread roll and before I knew it we were off floating our way over the ocean.
Josh snapped some beautiful pictures of the sunset that night- I can't imagine a better way to watch it than on the top of a boat, eating dinner with my best friend and two very sweet honeymooners.

For dinner we had the choice of chicken breast or Prime Rib. I bet you can guess which one we chose. :)
It was no fillet Mignon but it wasn't terrible. We enjoyed our dinner watching the sunset and were soon turning around to head back to harbor. A desert of cheesecake was served and on the deck below the DJ was playing music for those who wanted to partake in some dancing. Josh and I opted out of that and spent some time at the front of the ship enjoying our time together. We were half way back to harbor when I started getting sea sick. Josh walked me upstairs to our table and sat with me, telling me to look at the coastline because it would help. What a sweet man. Sure enough, it helped a bit and I was able to keep my dinner down. :)
We said goodbye to the crew and our new friends and headed back to the resort to get some rest for the day we had been looking forward to all week... Tomorrow we were going snorkeling on the Molokini Crater!