Sunday, July 31, 2011

September Plane Ticket

I just purchased my plane ticket for my grandpa's memorial service at the end of September.  :)  It will be a time of celebration and remembrance.  I am glad I'll be out in California with family for a special time to celebrate a wonderful man's life.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Writing Retreat

I spent the last week up in the Georgia mountains on a writing retreat.  It was lovely!  We spent all day, every day, for a week, in cabins writing.  In the evenings everyone would get together and talk about our progress for the day...successes, challenges, etc.  Then various people would share snippets of their work and ask for a press, express, address, or bless.  Here are some highlights...

Revised my publishable paper prospectus (my population and methodology changed)
Fun memories with my cabinmates
Walks around the lake
Hike up to the waterfall
Wrote up a book review (hopefully for publication)
Lots of laughter about bugs and 'camping'
Learned more about qualitative research
Meaningful conversations around higher education & life
Wrote my way into my dissertation (I think I have a topic, pending advisor approval ;)

It was a wonderful retreat...although I am extremely happy to be sleeping in my own bed again! Here are a few pictures from the writing retreat (mostly our trip up Anna Ruby falls).

Devotional for the first day of the writing retreat.  I thought it was fitting.
 From my morning walks around the lake
 We each kind of staked out spaces.  Some of the rooms had desks, mine didn't, thus I took one half of the kitchen table.  We also rearranged furniture that first night to make more conducive writing spaces
 On the deck watching the sunset
 We had all sorts of bug friends that decided to visit
 We were given stickers to wear for our hike
 LaQuesha and my cabinmate Carla
 It was a beautiful day.  I love the mountains, cool(er) days and less humidity!

 Danny & LaQuesha are in my program & made the trek (.4 mile hike, ha)
 The group of us that treated ourselves to a break and a hike.
Carla, Katy, Jung-chi, Danny, LaQuesha, Josh, and me
 My cabinmates, Carla, Katy, and Carolina

Friday, July 8, 2011

Precious Memories

Early Wednesday morning (July 6th), my grandpa went to be with Jesus.  Although I know he's no longer in pain and with his heart aches.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Frolicking in Florida

This forth of July I decided to head down to Florida for some R&R and for a weekend of catching up with my friend Jennifer.  She and I worked at Baylor together and she & her husband recently moved to Florida...conveniently between Tampa and Orlando.  The weekend was packed with all sorts of fun with good friends.

I drove down on Friday and met up with Jennifer at University of South Florida, where she works now.  After getting the tour of campus, we headed to her home to meet up with Stephen for dinner and fireworks in their town.  The fireworks over the lake on the dark night sky were fantastic!
After the fireworks display we headed to downtown Disney to walk around and peruse the Disney Resorts.  A-maze-ing.  Each resort is themed, detailed, and ... magical.
Saturday was open to the possibilities.  We talked about Disney, we talked about Universal Studios, the ocean and the gulf were also options.  The possibilities seemed endless.  After discussion, we headed for Universal Studios-Islands of Adventure.


Mainly one reason.

Or maybe seven.

It doesn't require a train, although possible.

Maybe it's the butterbeer?

Which is neither butter nor beer. :)

The reason?

It's magical.


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

What a fun experience, truly.  After having read and watched all the movies the wizarding world was quite like I imagined (and kind of like the movies).  It was fun to experience it with Jennifer too as she hadn't read or seen the movies, thus I was able to explain some of the intricacies.  However, before heading straight to the Harry Potter world...we did visit a couple other parts of the park.  I mean, you can't spend the whole day just at the WWofHP.
The Hogwarts train & platform 9 & 3/4
 The three broomsticks
Butterbeer-delicious! I've already looked up recipes.
 Olivander's wand shop-no I didn't purchase a wand, but watched a wizard & wand matching. :)
This picture cracks me up.  Jennifer took it while we were standing in line for the Harry Potter ride.  A wonderful experience through the world of Harry Pottery (some virtual & some through the castle).  It was obviously hot outside (FL in the summer) but they had misters and fans...a little piece of heaven.
 After HP we walked around the rest of the park and rode some great rides.  The one above was a bit of a shock!  I thought we'd ride up nicely to the top and then drop.  This was not that ride.  This one shot straight up at lightening speeds and then slowly lowered back down.  Really fun, but was completely unprepared for the experience.  :)
After riding Jurassic Park, Jennifer suggested we ride it again.  In the front.  The front row.  Yes friends, we rode the water ride with the giant TRex in the front row.  Contrary to popular belief we didn't...oh wait, we did get soaked but it was fun.
The spiderman 3D ride. Really cool.
  The park was really neat at night...the lights, the sounds, the cool breeze.
Of course I couldn't pass up seeing HP at night. :)
The Atlantic Ocean
Sunday, Jennifer and I went to the ocean via South Beach (not Miami South Beach...another one). :)  It was a beautiful day spent lounging (literally) by the water.  The breeze was delightful and the sound of the waves was memorizing. 

And I didn't even burn :)

The Gulf Coast
Monday, Stephen, Jennifer, and I went to Clearwater Beach on the gulf side.  Although there were more people, it was still manageable.  I was so surprised that for the holiday weekend we never really waited in lines or traffic.  The gulf  water is a little warmer than the Atlantic (and yes the Atlantic is warmer than the Pacific) and the sand is much whiter.  As the three of us were in the water, Stephen made some comment about the water being so which a little girl nearby replied, well it is called Clearwater.  Schooled by an 11 year old. :)  I could have stayed in the water all day, only I was beginning to burn, and I planned to return home that evening...thus I had a long drive in front of me.
Lunch at Frenchy's on the water. Yumm.

The drive home was filled with more Harry Potter on tape (yes, I listened to it on the way down and no, it wasn't actually on tap, iPod actually, but it doesn't sound the same) AND a magnificent sunset.  The time with friends was dear and although I was happy after many hours to no longer be in the car, I was glad I made the trip!