Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 ... And The Changes It Brings!

After our whirlwind trip to North Carolina/Virginia/Florida to see friends and families for Christmas, we were happy to finally arrive back at our home in Louisiana the evening of Dec. 31st. To be honest, I'm not sure if we made it until midnight before we went to sleep. Ha! We spent over 50 hours in the car and over 2,700 miles!

On the 1st, we headed out to Ragley to visit with Damion's mom and brother. Bonus was that another friend, Ms. Bonnie, was there! She's been a really wonderful friend to the Conley family for a long, long time! She's a true gem! We all hung out laughing and playing around with Dustin's new VR Mask thingy (I'm very technical) for his phone. I was nervous to try because I was afraid I'd fall on the floor. LOL! But, I made sure to hold onto the arm of the couch.. and all was well. :o)

We also decided we were going to make some better choices in our lives with the foods we're eating and lack of physical activity we were doing! I joined up with a challenge with Young Living so I could learn more about some of their Slique product line and get into some better habits for life. We enjoyed playing tennis several times together! I played tennis all four years in high school, and played around some with friends off and on through the years, but it had been quite a while since I was on the court. I am happy to have that bug bag.. it's really a fun activity!

Neither of us are pros, but we have a lot of fun playing. Ha!
And the picture on the right are my favorite work-out oil products!

We also tried out a few boxes of fresh food from Hello Fresh. It was fun to pick out what meals we were going to try, then cook those together! I tried a few things I've never had or cooked before. We had a couple of discount codes, so that made it really great to try, but after a couple of weeks, we decided to wait on making that a permanent part of our meal planning. Maybe one day, though! It's a great option if you need some kitchen-motivation! I definitely recommend it, especially if you get a coupon code from a friend!

Two of our delicious dishes!
Teriyaki Beef with Asparagus and Shrimp Lemon Risotto with Zucchini


February started for me the same way it's started for the past two years prior... with a weekend of alone time watching the live stream of if:gathering. I'm sure I've blogged about it before, but ladies... please, please! PLEASE! Mark your calendar for the first Friday night and Saturday (9a-5p, I believe) of February. Its probably the best "women's conference" type events I've ever participated in. So many women with strong desires to see Jesus glorified - in our hearts, in our families, our communities, and the nations! Great worship music, wonderful stories and speakers, and it's all free when you stream! Of course, I would absolutely love to attend live in Austin sometime, but for now, I'll enjoy this. Next year, I'd love to spend that time with friends and all watch together! Who's coming over to my house?? :o)

For more info, go to ifgathering.com -- and sign up for daily email devotionals at ifequip.com


For Valentine's Day, we enjoyed some sweet treats together along with dinner at home. I'm not a huge fan of Chocolate-Covered Strawberries (they're okay, but usually the chocolate breaks and falls off when you bite them, and sometimes the berries are too big and not very juicy or sweet that time of year! :o)), but these were really good. There's a small bakery in Lake Charles that we are fans off - Jo's - and we paired our treats with some Sparkletini! Yum!
Our Valentine's treats after dinner.

A few days later, we celebrated with my co-workers at the wedding of Leann and Brannon! Leann is one of my supervisors at the childcare center where I work. So happy for her! Thank you so much for letting us be part of your day! It was a really beautiful wedding, and the reception was super fun!

Leann's dress was really beautiful!

A few of the sweet, silly girls from work. :o)
Dani, Brooke and Maddie

Awww ;o)

My incredible co-worker, Edna!

A big majority of the Infant Teachers!
Nena, Debra, Cindy, myself, and Edna

The next day, to close out the weekend, we enjoyed a yummy crawfish boil with Damion's family! I didn't take a lot of photos, but it sure was delicious! So glad we got to have some!

Near the end of the month, Damion and I would both end up traveling... for very different reasons!
Here's the story you've all been waiting on. :o)
I had been planning to go with Damion's mom to Houston for some appointments she had scheduled. We ended up needing to go a day earlier because of the timing of those, but it worked out perfectly to coincide with Damion's travel plans, which required use of the airport in Houston.

When we were visiting friends over the holidays, we briefly discussed our desires with them to be on the lookout for some new opportunities for us. Damion and I had both been thinking and talking and praying about the possibility of changing jobs/homes/cities for a little while. We weren't unhappy or anything, but we wanted to have some fresh changes for ourselves as we continued to seek schooling and work opportunities for Damion and work toward growing our family, if that's what God has for us. They mentioned having us move to where they live and work with them. It really was a pretty brief conversation! :o) But, after a few weeks had gone by, and more discussions between Damion and me, we decided to talk with our friends again about checking into the possibility. They agreed to help us look into it, so we looked into some dates to have him fly to North Carolina/Virginia and see about making some decisions for us. The day that I would be traveling to Houston turned out to be the cheapest day to fly for him as well.. and the return flight worked out just as perfectly. So, we grabbed him a seat! We all drove to Houston together and he flew up to spend a few days with our friends. This gave him the opportunity to go out onto the job site where he would be working, meet with the boss, and look around into the communities nearby for a possible place for us to live. We had looked at some possibilities online, but seeing something in person feels a little better. :o)

Within two days, not only did he have an agreement set with the boss to begin work, but he met with a landlord for a rental property just a few miles from our friends. I made sure to ask him to take as many photos as possible! It was very nerve-wracking for me to think about moving to a home I've never actually seen before! Ha! Trusting my husband went into over-drive, and so, I did. He felt like this was a good location for us, and so we made an agreement to rent! He flew back home and we spent the weekend kind of in shock that this was all happening... and soon!
After the first set of appointments, we dug in with some Texas BBQ.

Also, we met up with one of Molinda's cousins for lunch one day.
She brought us to a DELICIOUS Mexican restaurant.
Oh man! So good!

Beautiful Westheimer in Houston

Treats for one of our evenings!
I took Molinda to Lush and Sprinkles!
Bath bombs and cupcakes and brownies, OH MY!

Choosing our goodies at Sprinkles!


Moving means new stuff! :o)
Yay for an IKEA trip in Houston!


Come Monday, we needed to let our employers know. We planned to be gone in our new home in three weeks! Two weeks to finish work and the last few days to devote to pack up and heading north!

The next two weeks went by so fast! :o( Not only were my days with my sweet babies and friends at work going by so quickly, but our evenings were slipping by with boxes, tape and cleaning! WHY SO MUCH STUFF?! LOL! We spent every minute we could preparing for this move.
We got tired of trying to find boxes all over town.
We ended up just buying some from Lowe's.
At first, it seems like such a waste to spend money on something like that, but friends! I highly recommend this! They're sturdy, have handles, and you can definitely re-use them! We have friends who are moving in the near future, so we were happy to be able to save these for them!

My last day at work was hard for me, saying my goodbyes. But, I was also excited about these new changes for us! That evening, several of my sweet co-workers went out to dinner with me! I had a lot of fun! They're the best, and I miss them all so much!! <3 <3 <3 A few days later, Damion's family got together with us to say goodbye as well. We're happy to be in a new place and close to my family, but I know that we'll be visiting Louisiana to see friends and family as much as we can!
Leaving work on my last day.

Samantha, Edna, me, Nena, and Debra!
So happy to have spent this evening with these ladies!
<3 Miss Y'all SO MUCH! <3

We made the drive over three days, which was way less stressful on us than trying to make it all at once. Damion drove the moving truck, hauling my car on a trailer. I drove his truck, and his mom drove her SUV. All of us were packed to the brim, but we had as smooth of a journey as we could ever ask! No traffic troubles, no bad weather, and no problems with any of the vehicles. We stayed in Montgomery, AL the first night. The next night, we ended up staying with my family in Hickory, NC. My mom had met up with us to eat an early dinner, and sitting in a restaurant for a while reminded us how tiring it is to drive and move! So, we decided to just take a break then and follow her home. :o) So, Friday morning, the 17th of March, we headed out to finish our journey.
You don't take a lot of photos when you're in the driver's seat of a long journey like this. Ha!
But, here's a quick snap I took of my MIL passing me up. ;o)
We are so thankful she was able to help us with this move!!

I was SO EXCITED to finally arrive! Isn't it the cutest house? He picked a good one for us!
My first look as we're driving up!

The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind, of course. We got everything unloaded, boxes unpacked, the kitchen ready, beds set up, groceries purchased, and tried to get Damion to rest before starting his new job the following Monday!

He jumped in with both feet earrrrrly Monday morning! He's working for a logging company here operating a skidder. Yeah, I didn't know what it was, either. Ha! We'd love for you to pray for his safety and continued learning on the job! It's different than anything he's ever done, and while I have every confidence in him, I know it's going to take him some time to feel comfortable. For now, I'm not working outside of the home, just getting to focus on my essential oil business.
We are super happy!

Here's a panoramic view from my new front porch!
It's so beautiful out here!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Closing Out 2016!

So, let's see what the end of our year was like! Quick Re-Cap of all things October-November-December!

October was pretty normal, live in the groove of things, so that's good!
We did have a relaxing evening near the end of the month with Damion's mom and brother, hanging out in Ragley where they live. We set up a little fire and roasted some hotdogs and marshmallows.

In November, I changed up my work schedule and moved into a different classroom. I'm still working with babies, but they're a little younger and my shifts are all in the morning now. I really like this room! The babies are sweet and I love watching them learn so many "firsts" with us! My co-teacher and I work well together, and we've had a good time getting to know each other! (sorry, no school photos! :o))

We celebrated Thanksgiving with Damion's family. Everything was super delicious! We had a fun time playing games together, as always! This is the only photo I have of the day for some reason. LOL! <3 you, Dylan!


 Exciting news for me was that I grew my business so much that I was able to hit a new rank! I'm REALLY proud of this accomplishment!! I am so grateful for such awesome leadership and all their help and support! I even got a ruby pin from the company. Woot!


Here's a quick shot of an Executive Leader call that we do each month. 
Ha! SO FUN!

December is always such a crazy busy month! Christmas parties, shopping, traveling.. Here's a photo tour of our time! Those are always more fun than my rambles!

Damion's brother spent time last year working as a Volunteer Firefighter. We were invited to their Christmas Party - our first one of the year! I got brave and wore my new boots. This might not seem like much to most folks, but I haven't work any kind of heel in 4 and 1/2 years since my leg injury! Falling and breaking your leg in 7 places + surgery = flat shoes 4 lyfe! :o) I made it home safely, though.. so I guess I'll keep the boots. LOL

My Mother-In-Law, Molinda and Damion's Brother, Dustin

The guys before dinner

<3

Hubby and I always go drive around and look at Christmas lights. I love those drives! Here are some of the fun lights from Lake Charles.




Next up - Christmas with family!
First, we spent the weekend with his family. Back-to-back days of gifts, yummy food, and fun games!
Elaina enjoying opening her gifts

So much yummy food!

Gotta have that gumbo! Two kinds!

Mmhmm...

I learned how to play dominoes... and I lost really badly! HA!

Next up, Christmas at Mawmaw's!

Molinda with her "sister" Sophie. LOL

Dustin's turn to pick his White Elephant gift!

When will it be OUR turn??

All the ladies! :D <3


Three days later, we were off on our journey to North Carolina to visit my family!
He's so good to me to drive all that way! We did decide to make it a two-day drive this time (both ways) because it's just easier on us, and our vehicles!

Family Pics first:

Sweet Reagan with her pet bunny!


Daddy and Mama with their gifts

Reece beginning to tear into his pile

<3

Oohhh... she got some boots! ;o)

Santa knew to make his delivery in NC. ;o)

And more goodies for Christmas morning.

Killer, the newest member of the family

Me and my cousin, Coleby!

I got to show Damion the Forest City lights <3

Game time with the kiddos!

We got to see some friends, too! YAY! (Some in Hickory, Raleigh, Virgilina.. we forgot to take pictures in all the places we went. :o( .. here are a few, though!)


So excited that we got an opportunity to see the Omondi Family!
We both happened to be in Hickory, so we snagged a few minutes to hug and do a quick catch-up!
<3 <3 <3

Dinner with my college besties. We've all been friends for 20 years!


Sweet Rhylee! My friend Dawn's daughter.

Lunch with Carmine! One of my besties from my old job.

Breakfast with another bestie, Hallie, in Pensacola on our way home!

We also got to have a quick visit with Kathleen when she cut all my hair off for me!, Alicia and Alex (and Luca!). We had to cancel some dinner plans with more friends because of illness, but that's okay! There will be other opportunities!


I also got to take him to see South Mountain Baptist Camp. This place is SO SPECIAL to me! I don't even know how to explain it. I started going to this camp the summer after 2nd grade. My church took us for a week every summer, and when I got older, I went as a leader with our church girls, then worked there in college. Such an amazing experience... and I hope I always have ties to that place! Here's some photos from that visit! (Thank you Al and Mischia!)
The front porch of the Retreat Center.

Do you know how long I waited to hold a boy's hand here?? :o)

Precious family!


Faith Lodge... oh SOO many summer weeks spent here!!

We started our roadtrip back on the 30th and landed back in LA on January 1st - 2017, we're coming for you!!