Number 86 on my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days was to obtain all of the needed items for Africa and get it packed. Behold...
One would think that 2 bags isn't really a lot when you're going to be gone for over 2 weeks and have to pack hiking related items such as a sleeping bag and mat, a 60 liter day pack, and various summit day clothes that take up SOOOOOO much room (parka's, rain jacket's, shell pants, etc). Well, that would be correct. It took us two days and a TON of rearranging to get it all into two bags. These are just my two bags. Justin has his own. We're pushing it keeping the big grey bag under 50 pounds (airport regulations). My porter will carry that big red bag for me during the hike and I'll carry my own day pack packed full of stuff. I'm about to have to go through them one more time and do some more rearranging. I need to make a little bit more room which means I need to take out some of my trekking clothes. Be prepared for the fact that when you see pics on this trip, I may very well be wearing the same clothes over and over again.
My firm Christmas party is tonight and I'm on the planning committee for the party so I've been super stressed the past several days trying to get planning for that done while wrapping up my projects with my clients and trying to pack...all at the same time. I was at work until 8:30 last night and when I came home I had to finish the packing since I won't be able to tonight. I didn't go to bed until 1am last night. Thankfully I'm not working today. Well, at least not from the office. I'm going with the other committee members to decorate/set up for the party. Which is good because that won't take me all day and I can still run out and get a few small things I still needed to get.
We leave tomorrow folks!!!! So I guess I can use this post as an official "goodbye 2010". When I come back to blogging, it will be 2011. Don't forget about the IMG website where you can keep track of us during the hike. Click here to go to that site. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Please say a prayer for us to get there and back safely and also to summit the mountain. I will seriously be pissed if I pay as much as we did to go all the way over there and not summit :) Love you all!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Number 86 on my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days was to obtain all of the needed items for Africa and get it packed. Behold...
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Some of my ever so faithful followers may remember me reading a book several months ago called Confessions of a Prayer Slacker. After reading the book, I embarked on a new prayer journey which involved reading scripture every morning. I started with the Psalms. There are 150 psalms total and this morning I read Psalm 91. Psalm 91 is the reason I believe in God. It is the summed up version of why I feel my life is better spent worshiping Him, rather than living for myself. It is why I choose to follow Him day after day, even if that road isn't the easy one.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
"Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
So powerful that I had to share it.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I am incredibly late in posting this, but I am so very proud of our dancers that Jen and I teach on Wednesdays. Several weeks ago, the girls performed the routine we taught them at the Hillside service (our contemporary service). Here's the video of them. These girls only meet on Wednesdays for about 45 minutes so the fact that they were able to remember the routine was amazing. I love all these girls. We are currently rehearsing the routine that four of them are doing for the Christmas Play this Sunday. I'll post that video next week sometime.
Have you looked at my countdown to Africa lately??? Because we're down to single digits! This morning I was driving to work and the thought popped in my head that I'm going to Africa...NEXT WEEKEND. Ok I guess technically I'm going to Amsterdam next weekend and we'll be going to Africa the following Monday, but nonetheless, we're still so incredibly excited. We've got everything together, just haven't packed it yet. We're waiting until next week to pack.
If you are interested in keeping up with us while we're gone read below:
I have to say that because if you're like me, sometimes you skim blogs that are "wordy" instead of reading the full thing. After we leave the Detroit airport on December 17th, there will be pretty much zero communication with us. Justin and I don't want to use our phones in Amsterdam and they more than likely won't be working at all in Africa (at least not in the locations that we'll be in) so communication will be very minimal and only to our families whenever we do have ways to communicate. However, our guides do an interesting blog that keeps everyone up to date with where we're at on our hike and how everyone's doing. By reading this blog, you'll be able to tell when we get to camp each night and if everyone is safe as well as if we summited the mountain successfully (THE DAY WE DO IT). They even post pictures of both the mountain and the safari. To see this blog, **CLICK HERE**. IMG has numerous trips going on all at the same time so you may also see updates on the blog for teams that are climbing other mountains all over the world, but we'll be the only team they are guiding up Kilimanjaro (referred to on the blog as "Kili") at that time, so if you see anything regarding the Kili team, it's us that they're talking about.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
We are now less than 3 weeks out from our trip to Africa. Tonight, Justin and I went ahead and converted what was once known as my "P90X room" into the "Africa room". We split the room in half, Justin's side and my side, and went through the packing list given to us from our mountain climbing guide. We wanted to go ahead and get everything together so that if there was anything we were missing, we could go ahead and get it. Number 86 on my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days was to obtain all items needed for Africa. I can't technically cross that off yet because even though we've officially purchased everything, some of the big items are in the process of being shipped, so I'll cross it off once we get everything and start packing it up.
See that red bag? We have to fit EVERYTHING into that bag and one other bag that is being shipped to us that is about the same size as that one (by everything I mean everything for one of us...so Justin has 2 bags and I have 2 bags). Also, that red bag is already 2/3 full because it has my sleeping bag and sleeping pad in it, so I'll be able to fit a few other items in that bag, but I'm banking on the rest of it, including the 60 Liter backpack leaning against the wall, fitting into the other bag that is currently being shipped. Given that we're packing to be gone for 2 1/2 weeks, this freaks me out. Fingers crossed...that's all I can say.
Also, we have finally decided which hotel we'll be staying at while in Amsterdam. There were two we were debating between, but finally chose the Intercontinental Hotel.
On an unrelated note, I felt it necessary to tell all my friends that Justin and I are not going to be sending out Christmas cards this year. It just seemed pointless to us because we're going to be gone so we (and by "we", I mean "I") didn't think it was worth it. So if you don't get a Christmas card from us, it's not because we left you out, it's because we chose not to send any this year. T minus 18 days people!!!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Number 30 on my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days was to go to...
I should give some extra information here. I love to travel. I'm pretty sure all my blog readers know that by now. However, there are a few places that I have zero desire to go to. My top two places that I never really wanted to go to were 1) New Orleans - and that's where we got engaged, go figure, and 2) Las Vegas - because I'm not a big drinker or gambler so I honestly thought there was nothing Vegas had that could hold my interest. WRONG! Oh my gosh, I was so amazed at how many things there were to do that had NOTHING to do with drinking or gambling.
Justin and I went to Las Vegas bright and early on Sunday morning. Funny story there too. I set my alarm for 4:30am so that I could get to my 6:45 flight on time. I didn't realize that I didn't switch the alarm to "on" instead of "weekdays only". Needless to say, my alarm did not go off. But, by the grace of God alone, I just so happen to wake up at 4:34am. How weird! Anyway, I made the flight on time. Justin was flying out of Nashville because he had a 50k in Huntsville the day before so it was closer for him to go out of Nashville. Well, that and there was a deal going on where flying out of Nashville got him more Delta skymiles.
This was just a quick two day trip for us. We stayed at Hilton Grand Vacations, which is directly behind the Flamingo hotel. It was a great location and we absolutely loved our room. We wanted to do the Hoover Dam tour, but we didn't have enough time. In the two days we were there, we literally just went from hotel lobby to hotel lobby. Each hotel is very different from the others and I loved looking at all the lobbies. Another thing on my 101 list is to hike through the Grand Canyon, but again, we didn't have the time to do that. We'll go back and do a hike and camp at Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon and do the Hoover Dam tour whenever we have time to go back for a full week.
I'll only do commentary when I see fit for the pictures, so enjoy. This is only my favorites. If you want to see them all, look at my facebook page.
This is the inside of Caesar's Palace, but a lot of the hotels had this type of sky painted ceiling. It was awesome!
This is the lobby of the Venetian hotel.
We're at the top of the Stratosphere in these pictures.
Me in front of the Brooklyn Bridge at New York, NY hotel.
We went to see some lions and dolphins at the Mirage Hotel. These lions made me SUPER excited about getting to see them in the wild when we go to Africa...in 22 days. Gosh there's still so much left to do. Sorry, that was a tangent.
These guys were 5 months old the day we saw them. I so wanted to jump in there and play with them, then I remembered a show that Justin and I frequently watch called "Fatal Attractions" and moved on.
PAWN STARS!!! Does anyone else watch that show?? We love it!
We saw the Bellagio water show from the top of the Eiffel Tower in the Paris hotel.
This is in the hotel lobby at the Bellagio. It was one of my favorites. There were giant pumpkins everywhere, some even weighed over 1,000 pounds!! The trees and flowers were all so incredibly gorgeous!!
We had such a great time and I was so glad to have some time with just me and Justin. He's been out of town the past 13 weeks in a row and the only time I get to see him is on the weekends and our weekends are usually full with hanging out with either friends or family while watching football. It was very nice to get away just us. I had a blast!
Monday, November 15, 2010
I spent this entire past Saturday with Anderson and it was so much fun. Just him and me. Lindsey called me several days ago and told me that Anderson was watching tv while eating breakfast and saw the preview for the 3D movie Megamind. He immediately went into the kitchen where Lindsey was and this is how the conversation went:
Anderson: Mom! I want you to call Auntie M and tell her that she needs to go see this movie with me. I want it to be just like last time where I went to her house and played with the fish and went to the other movie. (Some background...the other movie he is referring to was Despicable Me. Justin and I took him to see that in 3D).
Lindsey: Well Anderson, your daddy and me were going to take you to see that. We were going to get a sitter for your sister and it would be just the three of us.
Anderson: I don't want to go with you. I want to go with Auntie M.
MELT. MY. HEART!!!
So on Saturday I met the kids at IHOP with Mom and Mike (another usual tradition when the kids come in town) and after we ate breakfast I got Anderson and we headed to the movies. Here's a few pics of little girl at IHOP:
She loves her Funny Face pancake.
Anderson is so adorable when he goes to see a movie. You'd think as young as he is that he would quickly get distracted, but not Anderson. He was glued to the screen the entire time.
After the movies, I took him to the McWane Center, another thing he loves to do with Auntie M. Here's some pics from that:
This is Anderson in the Hurricane wind machine. It creates hurricane force winds. He looked like he enjoyed it at the time, but later told me it scared him. I'll note not to let him do that next time.
He was EXHAUSTED when we left. We left McWane Center around 4:30 and in Birmingham, it's dark by then so naturally he feel asleep on the way back to mom's. But he didn't wake up, even when I pulled in the driveway and turned off the car. Even when I called his name and told him to wakeup. Even when I went to get mom to show her how badly I wore him out. Even when mom opened his door and unbuckled him from his carseat. Little man didn't wake up until mom literally picked him up from his carseat. He was so tired...
On an unrelated note, mom took little girl shopping (her absolute FAVORITE thing to do) and bought her a sweet little pair of bright pink cowboy boots from Target.
Pink is her favorite color. Just ask her. She'll tell you over and over and over and over again. God I love them :)
And my favorite part of the day...
I told Anderson that he had to eat his whole pancake at IHOP if he wanted to go to see the movie. His response was "I can't eat the whole pancake Auntie M. I'll get fat". Kids truly do say the weirdest things...
There are so many things I need to blog about and I truly just haven't had time. I'm hoping I will soon. I'm very ready to share my Big Oak Ranch experience, I just haven't had time to upload the pictures. It'll hopefully happen this week sometime.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Number 22 on my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days was to go to Sips-N-Strokes. Thursday night, myself along with my friends Ashley, Tiffany, Allyson and Carina did just that. We started out with dinner at Margarita Grill and then headed to the Pelham Sips-N-Strokes. Here's some pics of the event:
Number 96 on my list was to try a glass of wine. I was able to also knock this one out while also knocking out number 22 due to obvious reasons. Pictures is the best way to sum up how this experience went. Behold...
Translation: I am not a fan of wine.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Today, at our staff meeting, we watched a little video about Big Oak Ranch. I had never heard of this organization until today. So many people got tears in their eyes in the staff meeting. Not something I thought would happen when I drove to work this morning. Anyway, Big Oak Ranch is a place where kids grow up when their parents won't raise them or have abandoned or abused them. Some examples in this video of children's stories that are living at the ranch included a little boy who had burns from the waist down from when his mom poured grease on him and a little girl who had been raped and beaten by her father. John Croyle (the founder) also mentions numerous parents from million dollar homes who drive up in a Mercedes and open the door for their kids, push them out, then drive away.
I can't fathom a parent would do such things to their children. There was a story that I noticed in the news this week of a woman that got annoyed by her child crying for attention because his mother was playing Farmville on facebook instead of paying attention to her 3 month old son so she shook the baby out of frustration and killed him. She pled guilty to second degree murder. What kind of world are we living in???? Watching this video brought tears to my eyes...AT WORK. The video isn't on youtube so I can't link it directly to my blog, but you can click here and it will take you straight to the video I am talking about. Bama fans out there, this is Brodie Croyle's dad we're talking about. He could have made MILLIONS in the NFL, but decided to stop playing football after college and open this ranch instead.
My favorite (and most emotional) story on the video is of a little girl named Shelley. Shelley was being raped and beaten by her father and John Croyle went to the courts to ask for custody of her. At the time, there was only one ranch and it was for boys. Because of that, the judge ruled it unsafe for Shelley to live there and she remained with her father. Seriously??? More unsafe than being raped and beaten? A few weeks later, her father beat her until she died. This inspired John to open up a girls ranch and he named the road leading into the girls ranch "Shelley Drive".
So where am I going with all this? Well, I have been so inspired by this organization that I am going to start donating to it and volunteering my time at the ranch. Next Thursday, a group of work friends are going to the boys ranch and then on Friday, another group is going to the girls ranch. I'm going to try to go to both if my managers will allow me. If you're interested in donating to help Big Oak Ranch provide for neglected children, please click here. It tears my heart up that parents do this to their children and they don't deserve it but in order for them to have the future they would have had with a good family, they need our help. Any donation helps!!! It takes about $3 million per year to run these ranches and they are entirely funded on private donations, so help these kids out. If every person in the workforce gave as little as $5...man that adds up.
But you don't even have to give donations. Like the website says, prayer works wonders. These kids feel abandoned by their parents and there will always be an adjustment period for them. Please pray for them as they adjust to this new lifestyle and that their emotional wounds from the scaring their parents left on them will heal. Also pray that the ranch will always find a way to make ends meet so that it can bring in more and more children. And don't forget about the staff working there. There are families that have given their lives to this cause. They open up their homes to numerous children that are not their own, but they take responsibility for them. Pray for them. And pray that God continues to put such amazing influences in these kids lives. I so look forward to doing more with this organization!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
This weekend Justin and I traveled to Florence, Alabama so that he could run the Life Without Limits half-marathon. This is the half that I was supposed to run before I got injured so watching Justin run it by himself was slightly upsetting for me. We left Birmingham when I got off work and got into Florence around 7:00. We made it just in time to pick up our packets I still got my packet even though I didn't run. I figured that I should still get the shirt since I paid for the race! And I really like the shirt too!
We didn't realize that the hotel we were staying at was a resort. It reminded me of Ross Bridge. It was a very nice hotel with a restaurant in a tower that revolved 360 degrees as well as a killer pool/hot tub area and spa. It was unfortunate that we were only there for less tan 24 hours. The race actually started and finished in the parking lot of the hotel, which was nice for me because I could go down with Justin and take pictures as he started then just go back to my room and come down around when I thought he'd be done. That was the plan at least.
Here's a few pics from when the race started:
I so want this guys shirt!
A picture from our balcony (all the rooms had balcony's) of the pool area. FABULOUS!
After Justin started the race and left the hotel area, I headed back up to the room and kind of took my time taking a shower. The last half that Justin did was in 1 hour 52 minutes, but Justin has been doing mainly trail runs and didn't think he'd have that same time because he hadn't done road runs in a while, so he estimated about 2 hours for him to finish. The race started at 8 and I left my room at 9:40. I got down to where the finish line was by 9:45 and I was looking at all the runners crossing the line trying to figure out where I could get the best pictures of Justin. At that time, I heard someone say my name and I turned around and Justin had his medal on drinking his gatorade and eating a banana. He had finished the half in 1 hour and 43 minutes which meant that I wasn't able to get a picture of him crossing the finish line. I was pissed, but still so proud of him. This is a new PR (personal record) for him.
After the race, he came up to the room and took a shower and we packed our stuff and headed towards Mississippi to go to the highpoint. The highpoint was only 40 minutes out of the way so Justin said we could go. He had been before but I hadn't, so this now puts me at 14 highpoints!!! We took a few pics (see below) and then drove back home.
Woodall Mountain in MS is a whopping 806 feet! This is the official USGS marker recognizing the "summit" though I have a hard time calling it a summit when it's less than 5,000 feet. All of the US highpoints have these markers on them.
As soon as we got home, we did two really quick loads of laundry then headed to his parents house for dinner and to watch the Auburn/Ole Miss game. Since I'm not an Auburn fan, I was told that I would be in charge of answering the door for the trick or treaters. Trace Crossings decided to have thier kids trick or treat on Saturday instead of Sunday. We grilled out with Debbie, Gordon, Jennifer and Aeron and watched the game and enjoyed passing out candy to the kiddos. We had a pretty excellent weekend overall. Justin left again today to work in Louisiana but at least this week is a short week. He comes back on Thursday, which makes me super happy. Hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween weekend!!