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Friday, January 30, 2009

Armed Forces Bowl + NYE

And the reason for the Texas trip (in case anyone forgot my previous couch plea): The Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31st.

This was Air Force's second straight invite to the Armed Forces Bowl. I couldn't afford to make the trip last year so I was glad to be there with Matt this time. It's a beautiful setting for a bowl game:

Air Force lost a heartbreaker to Cal when their star quarterback went down in last year's Armed Forces Bowl. We were looking forward to another good match-up but were slated to play Houston, who the Falcons already beat earlier in the season--lame. Needless to say, the boys weren't as excited for the game as they could have been and it showed when they took the field.

...not that they (especially the coaches) didn't look great while taking said field :-) ...

Anyway, General Petraeus was there for the coin toss and a half-time recognition:

You would think that having him there would be some sort of a good-luck charm for Air Force but no luck there--the Falcons ended up losing by a field goal. Matt's a good sport to smile at a time like that:

After the game, we hung out with the Melville's for awhile before getting dinner at a steakhouse they recommended...

... and then freshened up for a night on the town for New Year's Eve:

That "night on the town" didn't last too long, since there wasn't much to do in downtown Fort Worth except drink. We ended up back in the hotel lobby to sip our sparkling cider and watch the ball drop. Not too exciting but hey, it worked!

Monday, January 26, 2009


I told Matt we should go see the incredible ICE! exhibit I heard the Gaylord Texan put on.
He envisioned thousands of swans on tables. I think he was pleasantly surprised.

What ICE! really is: 14,000-square-feet of hand-carved sculptures made out of two million pounds of ice by artisans who are flown in from China. It takes them over a month to complete! To keep the ice from melting, the temperature inside the exhibit is kept at 9 degrees. All guests are therefore, thankfully, required to wear the provided parkas (very fashion-forward).

We were impressed from the second we stepped into the exhibit! It was amazing to realize that every single thing we saw was carved out of ice...

... including the above bridge and this forest:

Seriously, how cool is that? The icy forest led to Gingerbread Land...

... where Matt was a little too tempted by the giant ice candy:

Luckily, we avoided a Christmas Story-like incident and got to go see Santa...

... and ride down the ice slides carved out of his reindeer & sleigh:

Our hands were freezing (I forgot to bring gloves) so we tried not to take very many pictures after that (we could have taken hundreds, it was all so neat). So I'm not sure how we managed to take a picture of the candles and not the larger-than-life angel right next to them, but feel free to imagine what the angel looked like--she was beautiful.

Our favorite part ended up being the nativity. You can't tell from the pictures, but each member of the nativity scene was so detailed--even down to the baby lamb's wool. It was the last scene of the exhibit and a perfect note to end on.

We HIGHLY recommend ICE! to all of you Texans out there! Definitely beats dinner & a movie.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Gorgeous Gaylord Texan

Before heading down to Texas, Matt and I planned one big date night at the Gaylord Texan to see their ICE exhibit. ICE was amazing (we'll get to that later), but the hotel alone would have been worth the trip. It is BEAUTIFUL.

The view from the lake (the hotel is this big from every angle, by the way):

The lobby:

The skylight:

The entire design of the Gaylord Texan is pretty impressive.

The "lobby" is actually 4.5 ACRES of indoor gardens with a "river" running through it. All throughout, there are elements from every part of Texas, including the San Antonio Riverwalk (hence the river) and the Alamo:

If you couldn't tell from the pictures, all of the actual rooms surround the atrium. This means that every room has a view--either of the amazing Gaylord Texan itself or of the pretty lake and resort surrounding the hotel.

We walked around for a good while, just enjoying all there is to see in the atrium, and then went to the ICE exhibit.
Pretty sure if we can ever afford the pricetag, we'll be back for an extended stay.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ride 'em, Cowboy!

Welcome to Fort Worth, Texas!

I flew in late Monday night and stayed with an awesome family in nearby Coppell. They took me shopping in Dallas while the team practiced on Tuesday morning, and then that afternoon Matt and I hit up the Fort Worth Stockyards.

One of the first things we saw was a mechanical bull that you could pay to ride. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but that seemed like the best thing you could ever do while visiting Texas. We were so excited! I decided it wouldn't be the same without a cowboy hat, though, so we went hunting for a semi-affordable one first (those things can be expensive!). We finally found one that was alright for about $15 and were at the register to buy it when I saw a sign that said "Damaged hats: $3.99" with this good looking black hat above it. Not bad, eh?

Matt took the first turn on the bull and put the hat to good use.

Someone was definitely going for style points:

Matt stayed on for awhile and was pretty darn proud of himself when he finally let go :-)

And rightfully so! I quickly found out that it's not half as easy as he made it look--I almost had to do the splits just to climb on.

But then I hung on tight and enjoyed the ride (and the padded landing)!

Turns out this cowboy business is pretty fun stuff.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Our Very Merry Christmas

Our Christmas was full of fun suprises, the first of which being the arrival of these two lovebirds from Virginia:

I used my frequent flier status to help bring April & Alex home on Christmas Eve as a surprise present for my mom (and the rest of my family). We (me, A & A) planned this way back in October and let me tell you, I was so excited that it was the hardest thing to keep secret! So to keep myself from telling my family, I told every random stranger I met throughout the past two months. You know how it goes.

After spending the night in the Dulles airport (in Washington, D.C.), April & Alex's 6 a.m. flight was delayed a few hours, which would have made them miss their connection in Cincinnati. It turned out to be quite serendipitous, however, because Delta ended up putting them on a non-stop flight that brought them home a few hours earlier than their first flight would have! The surprise worked out perfectly and it was the best thing ever to have the whole family together for Christmas.

Then, while April & Alex napped, the rest of the family went up to the Huntsman Cancer Institute to go caroling and deliver some presents. My best guy friend from high school, Jason Long, passed away from leukemia in 2007 and was treated so well at HCI. Now, his family carols there every Christmas Eve and they invited us to tag along this year. It was the neatest experience to remember Jason, put smiles on the faces of those who really need them, and remember what Christmas is all about--honoring our Savior Jesus Christ and sharing His love with everyone around us.

That night after dinner, Santa stopped by! The kids were all excited to get their final requests in ...

... and Gabey Baby was really excited to see Santa from afar ...

... but up close it was a completely different story:

Luckily, he cheered up quickly when we took him to see Grandma and Grandpa.

We did our annual reenactment of the nativity scene later that night. This year, Matt was cast as a shepherd and I was an angel with Christian. Doesn't he look just like one of those Greek statues in this picture?

After the play, Pixie came! Pixie is our elf that peaks on us for Santa the three nights before Christmas. If we're good, he leaves presents on our doorstep Christmas Eve.

Pixie's a big hit with the babies:

Then came Christmas morning! It's always a bit crazy at our house with so many kids, but we love it.

Matt had a big surprise waiting for me:

My own piano!!!

It's gorgeous and has the most beautiful sound. I'm so excited to be able to have that music in our future house! I love that Matt's gift to me will not only entertain the two of us but will also really benefit our future family.

After breakfast, we headed up to Brigham City to spend Christmas Day with Matt's family. We had a blast playing Wallyball, eating Shelley's sticky buns, and just hanging out with everyone. The next morning, Matt flew to Dallas first thing and I got back to work... but then joined him a few days later :-) We had a fun little adventure in Texas, and I can't wait to show you all about it!
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