Monday, November 10, 2014

Bloom Where You're Planted

It was such a nice surprise to be able to head back to Texas for a few days.I absolutely loved being around familiar people and places, but I'd be remiss to not mention that I missed Alaska while we were there. Alaska has some special characteristics that couldn't be found in Texas like clean and crisp air, picturesque mountain views at every turn and even the Alaskan moose.

What I'm learning with this move and even our visit back South is to appreciate wherever you are.  Every place has beauty and uniqueness to be celebrated.  Seek out opportunities to do something new and make some memories. Bloom where you are planted.

Here are some of the ways I've made memories in each of the places I've been lucky enough to call home.

Houston:
  • Some of my favorite memories in Houston have come from sporting events.  I loved watching the Astros and even the now defunct Aeros.
  • The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is definitely an event to be celebrated. It earns the title of holiday in my book.
  • Pick your own farm. My family still laughs about the time we got soaked in the rain picking strawberries.  

Waco:
  • Baylor Homecoming.  More about that here.
  • Tortilla tossing is a favorite Waco past time.  You fling tortillas from an old suspension bridge and try to land them on a post in the middle of the Brazos river.  Flour tortillas work the best. And you can never have enough tortillas.
  • Floating the river doesn't really happen in Waco but it's a short enough drive to make the list.  Schlitterbahn is an absolute must too.

Alaska:
  •  Taking a glacier cruise was a phenomenal experience.  Glaciers calving and tons of sea otters. It doesn't get much better than that.
  • Hiking through the snow to take Christmas card photos made for an afternoon of laughs. 

Taking stealthy pictures of a photographer and not slipping in the snow takes some real talent.
 What is your favorite activity or place in your town? What's your favorite memory from where you live?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Rattlesnake Sausage & Chips and Salsa

A few weeks ago Nathanial was excited to try some Alaskan delicacies at a Wild Game dinner at church.  Unfortunately because of a time mix-up all of the food was gone when he arrived.  Luckily our trip to Texas saved the day.  Our church in Houston has a Turkey Bowl for missions each November complete with flag football game and cook out.  We headed back to Houston after the Homecoming festivities and made it just in time to attend the Turkey Bowl.  The first person we saw was a deacon from Nathanial's small group who happened to be in charge of grilling. He gave us a sample of sausage and then said "Do you want to know what's in it now?" Turns out we had sausage made from rattlesnake, antelope and pork.  That's a combo I wouldn't have paired.  It was delicious though!

Turkey Bowl 2014

The rest of our time in the Lone Star state flew by.  Nathanial spent his days in training while I got to spend some time with family.  I went shopping with my parents, visited all afternoon with my grandma and enjoyed a fun meal with my entire family.  We tried to make the most of our evenings together and definitely fit in as much as possible.  Our trip was the first time I've stayed in downtown Houston. It was a fun place to be. One night on the way to dinner we even saw a Mariachi band walk by.

A room with a view

If the saying "You are what you eat" is true, then we're chips and salsa after our trip.  We certainly had our fill of Mexican food.  Hooray for queso.  And good friends who order queso for you at dinner because they've read your blog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Surprise Homecoming

Sorry ladies. My husband wins.  Nathanial has secured husband of the year for the foreseeable future. 

Wednesday afternoon he sent several urgent texts followed by several subsequent calls.  I was slightly worried when he opened the conversation with "Are you sitting down?" I braced for news that he was being sent back to Angola or for a few week stint to the North Slope so imagine my surprise when he told me there was an opportunity for a last minute trip to Texas.  A trip that just happened to fall over one of the best weekends of the year - Baylor Homecoming.

The time between that phone call and our flight out was insane.  By the time N found out he needed to make the trip, his organization's travel services group was closed for the day.  He called early the next morning and booked flights, made hotel reservation and secured a rental car. Meanwhile I did some Facebook networking to get football game tickets and find a hotel in a town where rooms had been booked for weeks. Between making traveling arrangements and packing for a last minute trip, we managed to make it to City Hall to vote.  There were some unique propositions on the ballot.  Even the sticker they gave, made me feel Alaskan.



Amazingly everything came together. We left Anchorage at midnight that day. 

The drawback to booking a flight on the same day it departed was limited seat availability. We got the last 2 available seats on the plane and as such had to endure a very long flight in middle seats not near each other. Nathanial had the misfortune of being seated in front of the only baby on the plane - a baby which screamed for most of the flight.  He saw a stunning display of the Northern Lights which made his suffering a little more tolerable.

We landed in Houston around lunchtime on Friday.  Nathanial was scheduled to lead a conference call at 5 p.m. local time so we didn't have much time to get to Waco and get him ready to go.  We drove through Whataburger for a quick lunch on the way. 

Truth!
We made it to Waco with little time to spare. Nathanial headed to our room before I even finished the check in process to start his call.  Once work was done for the day, we met up with Jason (my brother) and crew to start the Homecoming festivities

Baylor University boasts the oldest Homecoming in the nation along with the largest collegiate parade. It is tied with the Houston Rodeo and beat only by Christmas as my favorite holiday/time of the year.  During my freshman year of college my love of Homecoming weekend earned me the nickname "Baylor Michelle."

For Baylor students, Homecoming starts with Freshman Mass Meeting on Thursday night.  The freshman class gathers in Waco Hall to learn the story of the Immortal Ten and the heritage behind the many activities of the weekend. The Immortal Ten refers to a group of students who died in a tragic bus accident in 1927.  Their legacy has become a hallowed tradition, collectively symbolizing the "Baylor spirit" that is made visible in the torch which lights the bonfire on Friday evening.



After the bonfire, we attended Pigskin Revue, where the top 8 winning Sing acts performed.  Sing is a fun tradition where student organizations perform 7-minute, Broadway style productions in competition with one another.

Saturday morning we parked under a bridge near campus to take in the Homecoming Parade. My niece and nephew as well as the other five kids with our group ensured optimum candy selection. Seriously so much candy was thrown our way!



Saturday afternoon we ate some awesome Mexican food (hooray for real queso and delicious salsa) and headed to the stadium for the game.  I've heard great things about Baylor's new stadium and seeing it in person did not disappoint.  Being able to walk from campus with some many other proud Baylor fans was a really neat experience.

Fans were told to wear green or gold depending on the section of their seats to "Stripe McLane."  I had my doubts about its effectiveness, but it turned out great. 


My Facebook networking paid off because our seats were phenomenal.  We were fifteen rows up near the end zone.  It was such a great experience.  The sold out stadium had more of a NFL feel than the Baylor games of my college days. It was SO fun to be part of such an energetic crowd.  I thought our proximity to the field would help with my bucket list goal of making it on the Kiss Cam.  We weren't picked for that but I did embarrass my niece and anyone else who knew me with some less than stellar dancing on the big screen.  Several college friends texted me about my few minutes of fame.  We're all in agreement that my dancing is not improving with age.

I am so thankful we had a chance to attend the inaugural Homecoming in McLane Stadium.  Huge thanks to my husband for pulling it all off.

Please ignore that I look like a pre-teen girl. I was so excited to see my friend Amanda!

Baylor cookies are the best cookies.

He looks good in green.

This is the response I got from my request for Homecoming pictures from my brother and sister-in-law.  To be fair, the horse mask did make it to Waco for the event.