December 09, 2018

4 Days in Fred

Let me tell you...a 4-day weekend is WONDERFUL!!!

Chris and I headed to Fredericksburg Wednesday evening...I took off work Thursday and Friday, and Chris worked remotely both days. We were able to spend Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday in Fred and it was so relaxing and nice!

: Thursday: I did a little Christmas shopping (in pouring rain), I grocery shopped, and I cooked our first meal in the house!

: Friday: we got out of the house (still raining) around 5:00 and had some free wine, some dinner, and some drinks. Very relaxing day!

: Saturday: our washer/dryer were delivered!! We got a great deal with Black Friday sales, and they delivered it and set it up for us! Whoop! Now I can do laundry when we are there, instead of having to rush back to Abilene in time for me to do it. I did about 8 loads Saturday/Sunday and it made me so so happy!! We also had dinner out and did a little shopping.

: Sunday: we attended church services and then Chris raked leaves for awhile. We have lots of old trees in our yard, and that equals lots of leaves. He was able to rake them to the street and then a truck comes and vaccuums them up. He'll be sore tomorrow!

: Apparently it snowed here in Abilene while we were gone! We just had rain.

: The week ahead is our second CRAZY week of the year...all of our sales managers will be in town for a week-long meeting, so things will be a bit insane. Our big company party is Wednesday evening and our company-wide meeting is Thursday. Lots and lots of things going on this week.

: Saturday is the Christmas crop at Kim's house! I haven't been to a crop in awhile and I am looking forward to it! I have a lot of journaling to do in my South Africa album and my 70.3 Championship album, then I can get those ordered!!

I'm signing off now to rest up for our crazy week ahead!

December 02, 2018

Kicking Off the Holiday Season

We spent the weekend in Fredericksburg, and the Halfmann family joined us so that we could kick off the holiday season with our annual Christmas card photo shoot!

We got into town Friday evening and enjoyed dinner at Social Haus, one of our faves. Saturday morning, the Halfmanns arrived around 11:00 and came by to see our house! We gave them the quick tour and got to meet Brandon's cute girlfriend, Kaitlyn. Fun!

Then we headed into town to have lunch and do some shopping. We decided on Pasta Bella for lunch, which was yummy and made Kelsey very happy! Then we did a stretch of stores and they were able to get some Christmas shopping done. Around 4:00, we headed to Fiesta Winery to do our photo shoot. 

It ended up being a pretty good spot, and also allowed for some wine intermingled :) I think we were able to get some really cute pics, can't wait to see them all! Now to get to work on our Christmas card.

After photos, we headed home to feed Poppy and then met back up with them at the Brewery for dinner. Yes, while in Fred, you EAT! We enjoyed spending time with these wonderful people! After dinner, we headed down to the Marketplace to see the huge Christmas tree and wooden German tower. Lovely! The whole Marketplace was lit up and all of our 15 years of going there, we've never really been there for Christmas. So neat to see! Crazy enough, they also had a temporary ice skating rink set up! 

Sunday, we had a relaxing morning and then met up with the Halfmanns for lunch. We took them out to Alamo Springs Cafe for burgers and Krusty fries, and YUM YUM!

With very stuffed bellies, we all then got on the road to we are getting ready for the week ahead. I'm getting my hair done on Tuesday, and then Wednesday evening Chris and I are heading back to Fred for a LONG weekend yay!!!! We are taking off on Thursday and Friday. He'll probably work remotely Thursday because he has some phone meetings...but we will be in Fred and I'm looking very forward to it.

Hope you all have a great week ahead!!

November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving Week

Whew...we just got home from a very full and very good week spent in St. Louis with my family and friends! It's always one of my very favorite weeks of the year. I love getting to see everyone and do some much-needed catching up. We always spend the week at my mom and Randy's house, and they are so good to always let us invade their home.

I posted photos from all of our fun visits on Instagram -- if you haven't seen them, check them out there!

Our Thanksgiving was so nice...Mom and I cooked a delicious meal and we enjoyed the day with family. We skipped Black Friday shopping.

We packed up and started our drive to Abilene...we left Saturday at 8:00 am and arrived to pick up Poppy right at 8:00 pm. Very long day. We got everything unpacked and put away, and slept in a bit today. We've been doing chores and went to the Mexican restaurant in town for lunch. Now, getting things ready for the week ahead.

This coming weekend, we are heading to Fred and the Halfmanns are going to join us! We are going to take our annual Christmas photos there, and I'm excited for that! It's that time of year.

Here's to a good week ahead!

November 11, 2018

The Keowns & Upcoming!

We had such a fun weekend!

We went to spend time with our friend QLefty and his beautiful family! They live in Lavon, which is outside of the Dallas area. It took us about 3.5 hours to get there, through a lot of Fort Worth and Dallas traffic on Friday night. We arrived around 10:30 and they were waiting up for us with wine! We chatted until midnight and then had to call it a night. Sweet Ruthie was kind enough to let us use her room while we were there, so we got settled in there. Andrea had prepared a perfect little Welcome basket for us -- it had note from the kids, mugs, chocolate, Teavana tea bags, lotion, and honey that Lefty had harvested from his bees. So very thoughtful!!

Our Saturday with them was perfect and relaxing! Andrea made some delicious mini muffins for a light breakfast and then we all chatted for awhile. Then after getting ready, we went into Rockwall, the nearby town, for brunch at Book Club Cafe. It was so yummy! I got a waffle with goat cheese, strawberry jam, sausage and bacon -- all together. It was delish! We then stopped at the grocery store and headed back to their house. The boys cut down some wood and set up a fire pit, and then they got a fire started. Meanwhile us girls prepared veggies and meat for the meal. We were doing a potjie, which is a South African name for cooking meat and veggies outside on an open fire for about 3 hours. We enjoyed the gorgeous Fall weather and the kiddos played while we all talked and enjoyed the time together. We had an early dinner and the potjie was so yummy!

Then the boys went off to the sunroom for their deep chats...those two are very intense and they can get into some great "let's change the world" discussions! Us girls watched some tv with the kids until it was their bedtime and then we watched a movie and talked. Andrea is so easy to be around, I really enjoy her company.

Sunday morning, we had another delicious meal - bacon, eggs, toast - before they headed to church and we got on the road to home. So fun! We love these people -- they are such a lovely family. We are so blessed that Instagram brought us together!!

Now, we have a few days of work (including another VIP trip), and then on Friday we are heading to my hometown! We are looking so forward to our week in St. Louis...I can't wait to get there! Thanksgiving is always my favorite :)

November 04, 2018

Grandpa Al

On Tuesday afternoon, I was sitting at work waiting for a group of VIPs to come through our department for the presentation, and my mom called...and I knew it couldn't be good news. I was right. Sadly, she broke the news to me that my grandpa, Al, had passed away.

Nothing can ever really prepare you for something like this...and it has been a few rough days. I can't imagine a world without my grandpa. I spent so much time with him growing up, and I learned so much from him. I was so incredibly blessed that he was such a big part of my life.

My grandparents recently celebrated their 65th anniversary...please pray for my grandma, as this is such a devastating loss for her especially.

You will be greatly missed, Grandpa...I love you so, so much.

November 01, 2018

Ironman 70.3 Waco

Or...the Ironman 69.1 Waco, if we are getting technical!

This was the inaugural half Ironman held in Waco, and so much training and time went into the preparation. Then, all of the insane rain came through our area and started flooding the rivers. And the swim leg of the Waco race was scheduled to take place in the Brazos River. The river current was too swift and there was too much debris floating in the the Ironman officials were forced to cancel the swim leg.

Removing the swim leg changed everything became a bike/run race but more to come on that.

Our friends, Jordan and Lauren, drove down from Joplin, MO with their large racing club, and we were excited to see them for the weekend! We arrived in Waco on Saturday in time for lunch with them. We met at Twisted Root for gourmet burgers and enjoyed chatting and catching up with them. Then we went to the Expo so Chris could check in for the race and then all three of them were able to check their bikes into the transition area. Afterwards, we checked out the Energy Lab Apparel booth that they had set up -- they had a lot of great new designs! We bought a few goodies and then headed to our hotel to check in and freshen up before meeting Jordan, Lauren, and her parents for their team dinner at George's. It was a fun meal, and then we hung out in their hotel room for a few hours for more chatting!

The next morning was race day! Instead of an early swim start, the start was delayed a bit for a rolling time trial bike start. The pros lined up and left one per minute...that took about 30 minutes. Then the 2500 age groupers lined up and they took off two at a time, every 5 seconds. Lauren and Jordan were in the 900s, and Chris was in the 1600s. So, the take off took awhile. But, off they went!

Chris ended up having his best bike leg ever! The weather was great, the course was fairly flat, and he felt great! I saw him as he zoomed in to the end of the bike leg, and he had a swift transition time, too! Off he went on the run.

By this point, it had gotten pretty hot. There was a record high for that date in Waco - the record high was 86 and it turned out to be 87 that day. Whew! Not a cloud in the sky, and very little wind. It ended up being a hot run for Chris, and he was pretty spent from his bike PR. The course was two loops, and he looked strong -- he was just moving slower than he wanted. His half marathon time was one of his slower times, and that didn't thrill him. But, overall he was pleased with his whole race!

Jordan and Lauren both had great races too, and it was fun getting to cheer them both on, too!

Even better...QLefty, Andrea, Liam, Ruthie, and Lev drove down for the day and they were there to cheer on and support our racers!! It was so good to see them and get to spend a little time together. As spectators, I was able to enjoy them :) I got some good twin time in, filled with sweet questions and hand those two!!

After the race, Chris got a quick shower and then we drove was a quick weekend but very fun filled! I'm so proud of my hubby and all that he continues to accomplish! He's a beast. And now, he's taking the rest of the year off from training in order to recoup and refocus, and to let him body rest a bit. It's been a long, intense year for him.

October 21, 2018

Weekly Recap

Hello there!

We had a pretty decent week on this end...nothing too exciting to report. We were able to have four casual dress days, since a lot of people were out of the office at a big national convention. So that was very nice! And our friend Nick was in town for the week, so Chris went to dinner with him one evening. Beyond that, it was work as usual.

The weekend, though, was fun! I had a Girls Trip with Nadene, Lori and Angie! It was so good to get away and hang out with the girls. Friday after work, we left around 6:00...we drove to Granbury, which is where Nadene's sweet parents live. They opened up their home to us for the night, and we had fun visiting with them and their three dogs before heading to bed. Saturday morning, they cooked us a delicious breakfast before we took off for Waco at 9:00.

We got to Waco around 10:30 or so, and had a great time! It was Silobration weekend at Magnolia Market, which means that in addition to the normal things there (food trucks, their big 2-story store, the bakery, and the big green quad for games), there were also two streets lined with unique vendor booths. There were also concerts both evenings, and live music during the day, too! As such a big weekend, there were TONS of people there!! The store was quite jammed, but the street with the vendors was a bit better. We enjoyed looking through everything and experiencing the whole event. Afterwards, we went for lunch at a cute little place, and then did Spice Village, which is a HUGE indoor store of anything and everything you can imagine. I found a very cozy cardigan there and an adorable baby gift.

Around 4:00, we stopped at Starbucks and then started our journey home. We got back around 7:30 and I met Chris for Mexican. It was a full day but so fun!! Glad I had that time with the girls.

Sunday was full of chores, like cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping. We are all set to start a new week!

The week ahead will be fairly busy. I have Book Club Monday evening; I'm getting my hair done Tuesday evening; Chris had board meetings Wednesday/Thursday; he has a work dinner Wednesday and Thursday evenings; and on Saturday, we will both head to Waco for Chris to compete in a half Ironman event! We are excited for that, as well the fact that our friends from Joplin, MO will be coming down to compete in the event as well! Looking very forward to it!

Hope you all have a great week ahead!

October 16, 2018

South Africa Trip : Blog 4

Monday, September 3

We spent the day after the Ironman race, Monday, 9-3-18, volunteering with the Ironman Foundation again at Eastern Province Child & Youth Care Centre. Altogether, about 25 of us rode a bus to the centre, where we were met by the wonderful staff members. After a few of the small children sang us a beautiful song, we were educated on the mission of the centre. They currently have 104 children of all races between the ages of 4 and 18, and they provide residential care and schooling with the aim of producing productive citizens for the South African community. Because the children live at the centre, they have age- and gender-specific cottages on the property to take care of their needs. Our mission for the day was to help repaint one of the cottages.

We broke into groups of four and were led to different rooms in the cottage by one of the employees. Our leader was Sonya and she was spunky! She showed us to one of the bedrooms and explained the painting process — the walls would be a light gray and the trim, doors, closet doors, and window sill would be a dark gray. They had everything prepped for us, so we were able to meet the other two people in our group — Peta and Jan — and get started painting right away.

Chris pretty much took care of the wall painting, while us girls handled the trim and doors. I grabbed the small roller and went to work on the closet doors (which took up most of one wall). I was also able to accomplish the main door, too! It was quite humid there, so about three coats of paint were needed on all of the surfaces. We painted for hours, and it was amazing what the four of us were able to accomplish!

As a reward for all of our hard work, we were able to visit some of the children in their classrooms! They were prepared to share some of their work with us. Chris and I found our way to TJ’s desk, and he was a cute little guy. I think he was about 10. He proudly went through three of his class workbooks, showing us the things he had written and drawn. It was very impressive! He spoke very good English, and shyly asked us a few questions along the way. He was very excited to hear Chris had done the Ironman! I let him down a bit when I admitted that I, in fact, had NOT. Ha! The thing that touched me the most was how serious these children were about school. They were very lucky to have the opportunities provided by the school, and they were taking full advantage that.

This whole experience was out of my comfort zone, on many levels. As I mentioned, I’ve never been drawn to children; I am also not drawn to manual labor! The entire day was so perfect though, and filled my heart with a joy I haven’t felt in a long time. I loved the time with the children, and the manual labor turned out to be quite fun with our little group! I am so, so grateful that our original Sabbatical plan fell into place. God put me right where I needed to be!When we got back from our amazing day of volunteering, we went out on the pier for a bit before stopping for more groceries and more sushi at Ocean Basket! We were sad to see QLefty leave, to head back to the US! The remainder of our days there would be without him.

Tuesday, September 4

We woke up on Tuesday with the monkeys trying to get into our room! Luckily our door was locked, because they could easily have moved the lever door handle to get in! Those little suckers! I flung open the blinds and there were about 5 of them there by the door, jumping at the handle! After they "got caught", they came to our window and were very curious this day for some reason.

Beyond that, we had a very relaxing day! We drove about 45 minutes to Jeffrey's Bay, which is a lazy little surf village where championship surf competitions are held. The waves there were amazing!!! I've never seen any like them, rolling constantly into huge tubes. We enjoyed the beach for awhile and then had lunch at an adorable cafe called the Tasty Table. We loved it there! On the way back, we stopped in Maitlands to see the huge sand dunes and the surf there, then had dinner at Barnacles in was a really fantastic day!

Wednesday, September 5

Wednesday was our safari day! We had planned to drive about an hour and a half away to a very large safari with elephants, etc...but QLefty let us know that there were two smaller safaris nearby. We decided to try these out first, and go to the big one if we still felt like we needed to. The two small ones were definitely enough! Kragga Kamma was a place where you drive through in your own car and basically see whatever you see. They had giraffes and rhinos and zebras, along with a bunch of other animals. We didn't see a lot of the animals close up, except for the giraffes! We were right next to them and it was so amazing to see them in their natural habitat!! They walk so gracefully. We were filled with awe, being so close. We had lunch at the cafe here, and enjoyed seeing the cheetahs (caged) as well.

The second safari was at Seaview Predator Park. It, too, was a self-drive place, and it was late in the afternoon when we arrived. We didn't see many animals along the drive, BUT. At the top of the hill, we stopped to see the big cats. So incredible! When we got there, it was gray and cloudy and misting a little. We were the only ones there. It was a little eerie, walking so close to the big cats in this environment!! They were in huge natural habitat pens, with electric fences...but we were able to get soooo close. There were lots of tigers and lions. The lions were my favorite. There was one named Thor and he was so majestic. I could've stayed there looking at him all day long. To see these animals outside of a zoo will be one of my most favorite memories ever.

We decided we didn't want to drive all the way back into town for dinner, so we went across the way to Barnacles again. Again, so good! We had a lovely evening together.

Thursday, September 6

For our last full day in Africa, we decided to have a lazy day and it was so nice! Also, it was SO COLD!!!!!! We spent a lot of the day bundled up under multiple blankets (the chalet wasn't really had one little heat board, which didn't really put off much heat!). While we were there, it was coming out of the day temps were around 60 and the evening temps got down in the 40s. Our last day was rainy and in the 40s all day long. Brrr! We did a lot of reading and did get out for lunch -- just a little pub right down from the farm, and it was not great. It was sadly the worst meal we had the whole trip. We stayed in the chalet for dinner and just ate up the rest of our groceries...then got to bed early for our early morning flight home.

Friday, September 7

From Port Elizabeth, we took a short flight to Cape Town and had about an 8 hour layover there. We didn't have any plans for our time there, so we journeyed out of the airport and decided to get bus tickets to the Waterfront area. Public transportation is pretty confusing to us, since neither of us grew up with it or live in areas now that use it. So once we figured out which routes we needed to take (after the ticket girl thought we were complete morons), we took off our adventure! The Waterfront was a very neat area! We walked along the waterfront and took some pics, then had a delicious lunch at a very nice restaurant there (more sushi!). We walked around the area and then headed back for our legs to London and then to Dallas. So much time on a plane. We were never so happy to land in America on September 8!

It's true...this was definitely the trip of a lifetime for us! South Africa is not a place I ever thought I would visit. I had a lot of anxiety about the trip beforehand, but am happy that it all faded away as soon as we boarded our first flight. We were blessed to have a "local" experience while there, and to experience things like wild monkeys and incredible waves and safaris and a friend's childhood farm. We were able to stay at the chalet for FREE and we were able to use credit card miles to pay for the majority of our plane tickets. With the food being so cheap there, it really could not have been a better trip!!! I am so grateful to Chris, for all of his wild passions taking us on all these crazy adventures! And to our friend, QLefty, for offering so much local flair for us. WOW.

October 13, 2018

South Africa Trip : Blog 3

Sunday, September 2

Chris' race day!! We left the farm at 4:15 am because the road from the farm to town was going to be closed at 5:00 for the race since it was the race course.  QLefty drove us and Ben there in his van, and the boys worked on getting prepped for the race.

The women had had great weather for their race the previous day, but the men didn't get as lucky. It was a little rainy all day long, with a constant drizzle. That made the bike course, especially, a little more dangerous as they were descending those massive hills at break neck speed.

QLefty and I gathered at the swim start and saw the boys off -- they went in waves of 10, every few seconds, to space it out in the water. When Chris went into the first waves, his goggles came off! Luckily, the went down around his neck and not into the water! He got them back on quickly and off he went! He had a solid swim leg with no issues, and Lefty was at the water to see him come out. He went quickly through transition one and I was there to see him start off on the bike course. He was looking strong!

Afterwards, QLefty and I walked a bit and then he had a meeting with a friend and I went to enjoy my free breakfast! It was delish, and the other spectators were so nice. Afterwards, I made my way down the shoreline to the viewing area to see Chris return on his bike -- I was able to get some good pics there. The bike course was extremely hilly and intense, so his legs were dead afterwards! I was so happy to see him off the bike and know that he was safe, with no bike crashes because of the wet roads. After a quick transition two, he took off on the run course. From my great viewing location, I was able to see him multiple times since the course was a loop. He had a great run, though it wasn't what he had hoped because of the large amounts of energy the bike course used. I was able to stand right at the finish line as he came zooming through the finish shoot, and he was so pumped to be finishing! He crossed that line as an IRONMAN CHAMPION!!! Only a select few can claim that, and he earned every bit of that title! So super proud of him! Chris knew that he wouldn't have a personal best on this course, and he raced it as his "victory lap" from the amazing effort that got him to that point. He was thrilled with the whole experience!

After the race, we all met up. Chris took his bike back to the bike transport tent, so they could get it packed up and sent back to the U.S. Then we had dinner on the Boardwalk, and Chris and Ben rehashed their races and told stories. It was so fun to hear about it all! What an amazing day!!!

October 07, 2018

South Africa Trip : Blog 2

Monday, August 27

We picked up our rental car -- a cute silver Kia SUV. Chris immediately went to get in the left side...whoops! Driving on the other side of the road and from the other side of the car was going to take some getting used to! We followed QLefty out to his family's farm, which was about a 30 minute drive down the shoreline into the country. One of the coolest things about this trip is that QLefty grew up in the very city the Championship race was being held...and his mom still lived there, on their family farm! Honestly, what are the chances of that?? QLefty needed to take care of a few things there, so he decided to travel there at the same time as us so he could also watch the race. This was such an amazing benefit!! He invited us to stay at the farm for our entire two week stay, and it allowed us to get the "living like locals" feel. AMAZING.

We arrived at Seaside Chalets and he showed us to our was a quaint little space with a small kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. We got everything unpacked and then we all went for a quick dinner before we fell into bed, exhausted. The interesting thing about this place...everything shut down around 6:00 pm. There isn't much open at night. We did stop to get some groceries on the way back, then we slept for about 13 hours straight, and woke up feeling refreshed and ready to explore!

Tuesday, August 28

After having lunch at our chalet, we went to explore the farm. It was a very cool place, and it was all built by QLefty and his dad back in the day. We walked up to a lookout spot and were treated to a gorgeous view of the Seaside shoreline and Indian Ocean. Breathtaking! We also had our first experience with the wild monkeys! We heard them running on the roof, and when I opened the blinds at the chalet, one jumped down from the roof right in front of me! I MIGHT have said a very loud curse word in my surprise!! I also scared him, and he took off! There were about 15 wild monkeys there, and though they never got close to us, they were very, very curious about us.

That afternoon, we went into Port Elizabeth to get some necessities at a store similar to Walgreens and check out the lay of the land. On the way home, we had an amazing sushi dinner at Ocean Basket -- the thing about South Africa -- the food was incredibly cheap!! We ate like kings the whole two weeks!

Wednesday, August 29

We had some things to take care of on Wednesday -- we went back into town to the Boardwalk, so that Chris could check in for the race, get his race packet, pick up his bike from the bike transport, etc. The Boardwalk was the hub for all things race-related, and we were there multiple times throughout the week. When we got back to the chalet, Chris did a short ride on his bike to make sure everything was working properly, and then we went to a huge mall about 20 minutes away for dinner. We tried some traditional South African food there, and it was tasty! We walked around the mall a bit and then when we got back, QLefty came over and we all chatted for awhile over wine. It was a good day!

Thursday, August 30

This day was one of our two Ironman volunteer experiences! We visited the Early Birds Daycare facility that had just opened about one week earlier and was funded by the Ironman Foundation. During the Ironman Expo earlier in the week, we helped pack backpacks for the children that were handed out during this visit. Now, to be transparent — most people know that I am not really a “kid” person…so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this experience. I can honestly say that I was incredibly moved by the entire day there!

When we arrived, we were met with the little toddlers singing a song for us! It was such a sweet sound. We all filed into the playground area where we each handed out a backpack to one of the children. Chris and I found two little girls and spent some time with them going through their goody bags. We helped them open their snacks and drinks, which they thoroughly enjoyed all at once until they were gone. Then we introduced them to their coloring books and crayons, and spent some time coloring with them. They really loved the sheets of stickers — they loved sticking them on their faces and bodies! Throughout the fun, we were taking selfies with the kiddies. It was joyous to see how enamored they were with their reflection in the camera phone. We finished off by spending some time pushing them on the swings and seeing their joy.

This daycare is providing these children with a safe place to spend their days, and they are getting food and skills that are necessary for their survival and their future. It was amazing to see how much the Ironman Foundation pours into this community and how appreciative the teachers and children are of everything. I loved spending a day in this environment and pouring into the sweet children.

When we returned to the Boardwalk afterwards, Chris wanted to do a practice swim in the Indian Ocean so that he could get a feel for the surf entering the swim course. The beach was beautiful, and it was pretty chilly water. Definitely wet-suit weather. It was a good thing he practiced, those waves were no joke!  From there, we went back up to the Boardwalk to watch the Parade of Nations -- similar to what you see during the Olympics, with athletes from every country walking with their flag. So many countries were represented at this championship race, it was amazing to see! Chris jumped into the USA group when they went by :) We then had a delicious lunch at the Boardwalk and then did a little shopping in the Ironman merchandise tent.

That evening, near the Boardwalk, we attended the Welcome Reception and had the honor of sitting at the Ironman Foundation VIP table! The food was so yummy, and the Welcome presentation was great too. Then there was the mandatory athlete briefing before we headed back to the chalet. We ended the evening with more wine and chatting with QLefty!

Friday, August 31

We slept in a bit and then after breakfast we went back up to the lookout spot. The monkeys followed us up there, and we were able to watch them all hanging out in the trees, eating fruit and frolicking. So cool. Then, QLefty drove us down the shore a bit so Chris could check out the bike course. Man, it was a very, very hilly course. Quite intense. Even in a van!

We headed back to the Boardwalk so that I could attend the VIP spectator briefing...the boys went to a nearby restaurant for some beers while I went on the 2 hour briefing. So glad that I went, it was very informative and we even did a walking tour of all the VIP spots where we could go during the race. Super helpful! This VIP experience was incredible!! I was so blessed to be part of it. There were great viewing locations on each leg, just for us. We were also given tickets to a free breakfast race morning, and there was a huge fancy tent at the finish line that also had food and champagne! After the briefing, I met up with the boys, and we all had dinner together before we went back and Chris worked on getting all of his race stuff prepared for race day.

Saturday, September 1

This was the day of the women's race! They separated the men and women races for the Championship, since there were so many athletes for each one. At the end of QLefty's driveway, we were able to park the car and watch all of the women come by on their bikes! It was so fun to see this part of the race, since I typically don't see much of it! Then we headed back into town so that Chris could do his bike drop off and gear bag drop off. We had dinner with another racer staying at the chalets named Ben, and then went back to get a good night's rest prior to the BIG DAY!

October 01, 2018

Catching Up

:: I know, I'm royally slacking in my posts about South Africa. I just can't seem to find the time or energy to set aside a pocket of time to write big posts. I've got my notes and my memories and those posts will come. I just don't know when :)

:: I must say, Chris and I are thoroughly enjoying the new rhythm we're in...Monday-Friday we work and live in our RV and do our normal life. Friday-Sunday we enjoy our favorite town in our own little house and do all the fun things. It's working out great :) Poppy loves it in Fred, and we are slowly working on the house. We now have some living room furniture and the dining room furniture. Still waiting on the couch, it should be delivered on Friday. It takes a lot of energy and money to furnish an entire we are taking it slow. 

:: We've got a few things going on in weekend, I am going to head to Waco with the girls for a Magnolia trip! I'll be going with Nadene, Lori and Angie and it should be lots of fun!! Then, the weekend after that, Chris and I are heading to Waco for him to compete in the half Ironman there! Our sweet friends from Joplin will both be competing and we can't wait to see them!!

:: I'll take my laptop to Fred this weekend, and try to get in an Africa blog!!

September 16, 2018

South Africa Trip : Blog 1

Ahhhh...I'm sitting here in our Fred house, with my Poppy laying right next to me...watching Big Bang Theory and waiting for Chris to get back from his Sunday run. It's been such a lovely weekend. We drove down on Friday and had dinner at Sozial Haus -- mmmm! Saturday, Chris did a bike ride and then we went to had our free glass of Grape Creek wine :) Afterwards, we did some shopping along Main and found some goodies! We found some beautiful ceramics to add to our little nook (see Instagram for pics!!). The nook is turning out very cute! After lunch at the Brewery, we spent a few hours at home with Poppy and the internet :) We finally decided on some furniture and made the purchases online!! We bought: a couch; an accent chair; a coffee table; and a living room rug. I posted the couch on Instagram, but you'll have to wait to see the rest! I want to get it all in and set up to make sure it all looks good together before showing it all :)

I wanted to start documenting our big South Africa trip -- it will take awhile for me to get it all down, but gotta start somewhere!

Saturday, August 25 / Sunday, August 26

We dropped Poppy off at Mimi's and said our goodbyes...then we drove to Dallas for our late night flight. We got through security just fine and waited for our flight. Everything was on time, and we took off for London! It was about a 9 hour flight and man that is a long time on a plane!!! We had lots of movies to watch and books to read. And we tried to snooze a bit too.

When we landed in London, we had about an 8 hour layover. Building in time to get out and back in through security, we figured we had a few hours to spend touring London. Prior to our trip, we purchased tickets for the Heathrow Express, which took us from the airport to Paddington Station. From there, we had tickets for a Big Bus London double decker bus tour that you can jump on/jump off of wherever you want. Big Sad Face -- we came out of Paddington Station to walk to Oliver Steakhouse to catch the tour bus...and it was POURING RAIN. Not just a nice mist, but POURING. We didn't really know where we were going, so we wandered around in the rain until we finally found it. Finally the bus arrived, and we got on. No one was on the top deck because of the rain, so that was sad. We proceeded to ride around London, peering at what we could through the rain soaked windows. We saw a little bit, but not much. We had plans to get off at one specific stop so that we could take a short walk to Buckingham Palace -- well, the bus didn't even stop!! Just drove right on by. I was so upset!! That was the one thing we wanted to see. Blah. So, we basically finished up the ride on the bus and got back off at Paddington Station.

It was NOT exactly what I had hoped for, sadly. We'll have to make another trip to London some day so that we can really experience more than four hours!

Back at the station, we stopped for some coffee and then the restrooms...which, unfortunately, were PAY toilets and we didn't have any cash. So, we just got back on the Heathrow Express and made it back to the airport where we waited for our next flight, to Cape Town, South Africa.

The London airport was interesting...everyone sits together in a big holding room until gates are listed for your flight when it's time to start boarding. It was a big open room, kind of circular...surrounded on the perimeter with shops and restaurants. We ate at one of the restaurants and looked at the shops. There was a Cath Kidston shop and I was so excited! I have loved her stuff for years, but since it is a London based store I've never purchased anything. I loved everything in the store!!! I decided I would get a purse but would wait until we came back through on our journey home.

Our flight to Cape Town was slightly delayed...but then we got on and took off on our next long leg which was about 12 hours. Very very long time on a plane. When we landed, they let about 30 of us off first so we could try to make our connecting flight to Port Elizabeth...sadly, we had to get our luggage and recheck it, and by the time we did that it was too late...we had missed our flight. They were able to get us another flight about three hours later, so we hung out in the airport and met a nice guy named Jeff that we chatted with (he was also doing the race.)

The flight to Port Elizabeth was about an hour and a half, and then we were finally at our final destination!!! We were met there by QLefty!!!!!! So, next blog will take it from there :)

September 09, 2018

Back in the USA!

Well, we are home!! It felt so good to step food on US soil again. It just felt like home, coming into the Dallas airport yesterday.

: We had an AMAZING trip! If you followed along on Instagram or Facebook, you've seen the highlights! I'll work to get some blogs ready, about the experience! It was definitely the trip of a lifetime.

: We got home around 9:00 last night, after visiting with Mimi a bit and picking up Poppy. Was sooo good to see our sweet girl, she was so excited! She didn't eat much over the two weeks we were gone, so now it's time to work hard on getting her back on a good schedule.

: I stayed awake on the whole 10 hour final flight yesterday so that I could go to bed at our normal local time. I was exhausted, and fell instantly to sleep at 10:30 last night. I got a good, solid 9 hours of sleep, and have felt pretty good today so far! Hopefully the jet lag won't be too bad.

: Today I tackled 5 loads of laundry and the grocery shopping. It feels good to have all of that done!

: Tomorrow, it is back to work!! Will feel a bit odd, after being gone two full weeks. We shall see what went on while I was out, and get acclimated again.

Hope you have a great week!!

August 12, 2018

Back & Forth

: Friday after work, we packed up the car with stuff and with Poppy, and then made the jaunt to Fred! This is becoming a very nice routine! When we got there, we set up shop and settled in.

: Saturday morning, Chris had a first! He went to help harvest grapes at one of the local vineyards! He left at 6:00 am, started working at 6:30, and was on his way home around 10:30. He had a blast!! He learned a lot, harvested a lot of grapes, and met some fun people. For his hard work volunteering, he got a "Harvest Crew" t-shirt, breakfast, and then later, a free glass of wine at Vintner's Hideaway. He really enjoyed the experience! While he was gone, I worked on getting things in order for our Africa trip plans and spent some good time with Poppy while watching Friends! :) After Vintner's Hideaway, we also got our free glass of wine at Grape Creek...of course! That evening, we got a text from our friend, John...he was in town visiting him mom (he grew up in Fred). We were able to meet for dinner at Pasta Bella and it was great to catch up! It's been a few years since we've seen him. We finished up with drinks at Lincoln Street. A very nice day, even with a little bit of rain.

: Sunday, Chris did a run and then we had lunch at Tubby's. After getting packed up and cleaning the house up, we got on the road to home.

: The week ahead should be fairly straight-forward. I was able to get all of the laundry done this evening, as well as the grocery shopping. So I am happy to say that I don't have to play catch up tomorrow after work. That is a good, good thing. Friday, we'll be back to Fred for one last weekend before our South Africa trip.

: I am waiting waiting waiting to cut my is soooo long right now. Longer than it has been since high school probably. I am so tired of it. I want to have my braid for our Africa trip though, so will be cutting it when we get back. I've enjoyed having it this long, but I've reached the point of IT'S GOTTA GO!!!

August 05, 2018

Anniversary #11

Hello! We are back in the trailerhood, getting things ready for the week ahead. But, we had a really nice weekend in our Fred!

Saturday was our 11th anniversary! My, the time is just flying by! We love spending our anniversary in Fred, because that is where we took our first trip together and where we held our wedding! It's special to us on so many levels.

Saturday, we slept in a bit and then Chris did his workout -- a bike trainer ride and short run. He's experiencing some tightness in his glute/hamstring, so say a little prayer for that please. We are getting so close to his race in South Africa, and we need him healthy and performing at 100%!!! While he did that, Poppy and I ate our breakfast and relaxed on the back porch. Then we had some fun!

: We looked at a few more antique stores -- didn't find anything.

: We visited a new place called Vintner's Hideaway -- they are off Main St, and have been open about 3 months. The two ladies that work there, Dana and Linda, were so great! It was a quiet afternoon there, so we had the place to ourselves for awhile...we tried all kinds of wines and chatted with them about all kinds of things. Dana helps harvest grapes, and Chris may join her next Saturday morning to do some as well! He is excited to experience that.

: From there, we went to Grape Creek, for our daily free glasses of wine :) Mmmm.

: That evening, we had dinner at Cabernet Grill -- so yummy! The servers had a Happy Anniversary card waiting for us, so sweet! I had the filet and Chris had the stuffed shrimp. We really enjoyed our celebration there.

: Afterwards, we tried a new little bar that serves craft cocktails...The Stable. It was cozy and quaint, so nice!

Sunday, we slept in again and after Chris ran we did a few things in town. I made a Walmart run, we found a big white pot for our front porch, and we had lunch at Sozial Haus. We are loving their pizza! Then, after our free glasses of wine at Grape Creek, we wrapped things up at the house and headed back to Abilene.

The week ahead...

: I'll be playing catch up with the grocery shopping and laundry...just turned in my order at Walmart and will do a pick up right after work. Then I need to stop at Kohl's for a few shirts for Africa, and then get our laundry done.

: Kim and I are going to see Christopher Robbin on Wednesday, can't wait!!!

: We have VIPs, so another presentation.

: My heart is heavy, as we will be attending the funeral of our dear friend Jon on Wednesday morning. After six years of dealing with his skin cancer that went to his lungs and then his brain, it is a tragic loss of an amazing, God-loving man who we were so blessed to call our friend. It will be a rough morning, but I know we will be celebrating his life, and his reunion with Jesus!!

: The weekend will be spent back in Fred, with a side trip to San Antonio -- it is time to take Chris' bike to the transport service that will ship it over to South Africa!! Things are getting real!