Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Time

As Josh & I prepare to head to our parents' homes this weekend I'm sitting here reflecting on some of my favorite Christmas memories. My first memories of Christmas were spent with my big brothers at Mom & Dad's. We'd always go to Wal-Mart or somewhere to get our family photos taken.

Here's a look at my favorite Christmas pictures of the last 24 years...

Jeremy, Amy & Santa
Helping mom wrap presents
Josh & Amy (1989?)

I love my big brothers!
My all-time favorite picture of my brother Josh & I
I looked forward to my cousins coming to Grandma's all year. This was the one time we all got to be together in one spot. Now as we've grown up and started to get married and have families of our own now I doubt we will ever get together again like this. I miss this so incredibly much. It was always fun getting to see everyone.

This blog planned to be longer than I have posted but time got away from me and well, so did Christmas. I will just leave this one as what it is and continue on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nearing the End of 2011

I can't believe we're in the last month of the year of 2011. This one has been insane. Josh & I have spent a lot of time on the road this year. It's been great that we've been able to go and see so many people and have some fun.

I'm going to start to piece together my year in review blog that I did last year.

New Years 2011

Of course it was spent at the bar. Josh had to work and well I remember it being really boring.
January was pretty boring-we really didn't do anything exciting.
February was fun. The Thieving Birds played in Manhattan on the 25th and we followed them to Texas on the 26th. Josh & I had been "dating" for 3 years so we figured we'd celebrate with a little getaway vacation. We got to see my old roommate, Rachel and meet her new boyfriend, Blake. They came to Woody's to see the guys play. We also got to see my cousin Brian and his family, while we were down for this trip.
Josh, Me, Rachel, & Blake at Woody's in Fort Worth, TX 2.26.11

March was rather uneventful. I decided to start a family restoration project of scanning, restoring, dating, and naming every family photo I can get my hands on. I've so far completed about 3,000 images and still have quite a bit to go. Of course there was Fake Patty's Day which I spent the evening changing out tips for larger bills because the bar was running out of quarters, 1s, and 5s like crazy. One of my favorite bands was here this month, Aaron Watson. I got to go on stage this time - he says I always can but it's still a little weird being up there while they were playing.
April was the 1st of our many wedding/wedding receptions this year. My high school friend, Samantha, and college friend, Ross - small world of how I know them, how they got together, and everything else. They got married last August on an island and had a reception on April 2nd in Manhattan. My other high school friend, Vicki Volosin came over from KC to be my date since Josh had to go to work. I also got to go home to see Cason's kindergarten program at Collegiate. He was a jeti. It was so cute to see him perform.

May started our crazy summer. The Thieving Birds were back in town. Which ended in I-Hop. Josh & I went with Brenda (his mom) to a T-Bones game thanks to her company.
I also got to see my bff Jennifer one last time before she moved to California. I miss her dearly and can't wait to see her in January!
The last week of May - we went to Louisiana to see his sister, Angie, and her family. It was great to go down there and see them. It'd been a year since we'd see them. Coy is no longer a baby (now he's two!)
My favorite part was having a photo session with them. Justin even cooperated!

After our week stay in Louisiana we drove 13 hours back to Manhattan to shower and head to our 2nd wedding of the year. The worst part was this wedding was another 1.5-2 hours away. We made it was literally 10 minutes to spare before the bride walked down the aisle. Congrats again BK & Jaclyn! It was so great to see all of our old bar friends again.
Directly after their wedding we drove back to Manhattan for the night to get up at 7 the next morning to go to Wellington for my parents' 40th anniversary party. We had about 40 guests come by and celebrate their marriage. The next weekend we had to go back down there for wedding #3. I was shooting this one on my 24th birthday - so it wasn't too wild and crazy.

June 26th -- Our one year anniversary. We made another trip to Texas to celebrate our one year anniversary. We went to see the Thieving Birds play at Wild Wet Willie's for their CD release. And then the next day we went to the Rangers/Mets baseball game.
July-we got to spend the 4th of July in Wellington. It was fun shooting off fireworks with Cole & Cason. We'd spent about $80 on fireworks - but it was a good time. Cason counted out Grandpa Monty's change and I added to it. The next week Josh & I had the boys for a week while Amy & Jeremy had to go to Kentucky (they'd found out in about April they had to move to Owensboro for Jer's work :( ) We took them to Omaha to the Zoo and Children's Museum. Then we had them back here in Manhattan for the rest of the week. Took them golfing, had a photo shoot, watching lots of movies, even went to see Zookeeper and even went to the day premier of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2.
The gate was open at the stadium so I got to take them in there. I love this picture!

The rest of July was a sad one...My high school bff's mom lost her 13 year battle of cancer. That was one of the worst phone calls I've ever got in my life. My heart still and will always go out to her and her family. I went home for the funeral that following Tuesday and that night my Uncle Kris, passed away of health complications. It was weird and sad going home for one funeral to plan another. I'd never been involved in planning a funeral, but I had to help out my Grandma and do what was right for my Uncle. Since I had scanned all of the old family photos, I had put together a slideshow for him to be played. I gave Tytus the images and he put the songs with it on their program so everything looked right and wasn't distorted. I went down the day before his memorial service to make sure everything was okay as far as my standards go and everything had to be perfect. I cried. And then at the memorial service everyone lost it. EVERYONE. I thought my mom was crying, no it was my brother. My aunt then reached across Josh, grabbed my hand and she was crying. My uncle Ron behind me touched my shoulder, he had lost it. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. It still breaks my heart that Peggy & Kris are no longer with us. But heaven has two angels now watching over everyone.
My aunts, mom & I at my uncle's memorial dinner.

Josh & I had also gone to help Amy move to Kentucky the last week of July. Jeremy was already in Kentucky and she needed help, mainly with touching up the house and the boys. It was sad to leave them. I cried the whole way back to Manhattan. Josh and I cried - missing all four nephews. I still miss them.
Right before Josh & I went back to Manhattan -- love these 2 with all of my heart.

August started with my uncle's memorial service. We'd postponed it so that my aunt and uncle could be here. Uncle Ron & his family had already had travel plans from Kuwait to Kansas/Georgia at that time so it was just easier. The rest of August was quiet - THANK GOODNESS! I'd cried for about 3 weeks, I needed nothing to happen.

September - started our traveling part 2 of the year. But before I start in on everything else - at 3:30 on Sept. 2nd - Amy (sister in law) texted me can I call you? At the time I was at lunch so I called as soon as I got back to work so I could hear her. She'd told me Feb. that her and Jer thought about trying for another baby after she got off certain medicine. Well, they tried and succeeded! I will be an aunt again in May! -I was about the 3rd person to know, my parents didn't even know. So it makes this next part interesting -- I got to go to Kentucky with my Aunt Connie, Mom & Grandma to see Amy, Jeremy, Cole, and Cason. Knowing Amy was expecting and they wanted to tell mom to her face it was killing me. After we got there Amy & I were in her bedroom planning for their headboard we were about to make. I said "are you still ..." she said yes, I said okay you guys have to tell mom. That night after the boys were in bed, Jer, Amy, Aunt Connie, mom and I were sitting in the living room. Jer looks over to mom, "Amy's pregnant". Blunt and to the point. The look on her face was priceless. They find out next week what they're having and I can NOT wait!!!!!! I can't wait to spoil him or her. We got to see both boys play football, spend time together and start decorating their new home. I have lots of pictures printed for her when they come next week. After our trip to Kentucky, we drove to Branson and saw Lee Greenwood play, hit up the COACH outlet store (Mom & I both got purses) and then went to Plano to see everyone down there. I finally got to meet Cat, my cousin Matt's finace', and expecting at that. I was shocked when my mom had called me a few months before telling me Matt was going to be a dad and I hadn't met this girl. I knew about her from last Christmas when Matt was texting her the whole way to the casino (yes, we (Josh T., Josh O., Matt, Mom & Myself) went on Christmas eve). She's a sweet girl and now they have Miss Teegan. Josh celebrated his 27th birthday with work.

October - the first weekend Josh & I were given football tickets from my aunt & uncle. So we got to go watch the WILDCATS whomp the Baylor Bears.
The next weekend started the first of 3 weddings in 6 weeks - two of which were in Fort Worth.

Us at the Hilton Hotel before heading to Rachel & John's wedding.
Mr. & Mrs. Seidler and Mrs. & Mr. Olsen - Congrats again!

The next weekend marked wedding #5 for the year. Josh's groomsmen, Josh R. was getting married in Tonganoxie to Shannon Dare. We were so thankful to get to go to this wedding.
October 16th - The Thieving Birds were back in Manhattan. Always a great show - they got to open for Stoney LaRue. This trip ended at Denny's. The next night Aaron Watson was here again. As always, another great show. More emotional this time since him and his wife the week before lost their baby girl, Julia Grace. So so sad. My heart still goes out to them.
The last weekend in October my parents were up here along with my aunt and uncle. They'd brought them up to the OU game. We got to meet them for dinner at Famous Daves.
November - last wedding of the year. Back to Texas we go :) We were so excited to see two more of our friends tie the knot.

The next day we also got to meet Miss Teegan :) I got the privilege and honor of shooting her new born pictures for Cat & Matt.
We had to leave that night because I was hosting a baby shower the next day for Shalayne. She's expecting a baby boy (Ezra Bay) on Jan. 17th.
I had made the banner in the background. I was very proud of it :)
Kayla, Me, Shalayne, Karissa, & Mom
The week of the 14th-19th- Josh & I went to Orlando - see my other post for all of the details. It was a great getaway. I can't believe it's already been a month since we were there. I want to go back already.
Thanksgiving - we'd spent the weekend we got back from Orlando in KC with Josh's mom & grandma and then we went to Wellington for Thursday & Friday. Probably the worst Thanksgiving of my life because of how my dad was acting.

December - so far it's been a lot of shopping and wrapping and well, I've been trying to scrapbook last year's Christmas before this one. I will post another blog after Christmas - which is so hard to believe that it's next week.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


On the week of Nov. 14th-19th - Josh and I went to Orlando for a 2nd Honeymoon. We'd won a rather cheap vacation (plus 2 more, a cruise and a 3 day 2 night stay at one of 25 locations). The only catch was we had to listen to a time share talk. Well, a vacation club talk. It was interesting and something to think about for the future. I do recommend the company, bluegreen, if you're interested at all in vacations. The only thing we really didn't like was having to pay a $475 ish maintenance fee once a year on top of everything else. They do a point system to where you can travel to any of their locations and it gets passed down to kids/grandkids whoever when you pass, unlike Disney where it goes back to Disney. I thought that was interesting.

On top of our week's stay at the Fountains Resort (very lovely), we were given a 7 day ticket to Universal Studios/Universal Islands of Adventure. But we had to go to our meeting first which was the next morning after our arrival. That was fine so we could get it out of the way and on with our trip!

Day 1: Left Kansas City at 6 am - this meant getting up at 2:30 am to get around and leave for the airport by 3:30. It was about an hour drive from Josh's mom - we only saw one deer in route to KCI. Check in was easy as well as security. We got through it all in about an hour, there was a line to check in because the counter wasn't open when we first got there, or the 10 people ahead of us. Our flight was completely full and since airlines are charging for luggage now everyone had a carry on. Since we were loading in zone 3, the last one, Josh's bag had to be checked (for free), but it was still irritating. I bet they're going to be more strict on carry on size, because it was obvious no one was checking their size. Our first flight was about an hour and then we landed in Dallas (our 3rd time in Texas in a month). We were there about an hour and a half, time enough to find our gate and get some breakfast. The next flight was about 2.5 hours -not terrible, but we forgot headphones so it was boring at times. We landed at MCO - got our car rental and headed to our resort. BG (bluegreen) told us we'd be staying at a Hilton property hotel but since they were so slow we stayed there. We had a 2 bedroom (3 beds, king, and 2 fulls), two bathrooms, jacuzzi tub, full kitchen, washer, dryer, and all the kitchen appliances, bar seating, 3 tvs, dining room, and screen in patio. It was very luxurious! We were in building 6, room 108. We hadn't ate since 7:30 that morning so we were starving by the time we got to Orlando. Thankfully the resort had a restaurant. The food was okay - it was food and we were hungry. I had one of the worst migraines I've ever had so we went back to the room and took about a 3 hour nap. We ordered pizza from a place called "Pizza" for dinner-it wasn't he best or the cheapest but once again it was food, we were hungry, and we didn't have to go anywhere. We stayed in for the night was tv and rested up for our bright and early meeting in the morning.
Day 2: 11-15-11-Bluegreen time share talk at 8 a.m. We had to arrive 15 minutes before because they start right on time and then you have to take a later time. It was only supposed to take 90 minutes, but ours took 3 hours. They offered great deals but we just can't afford that type of commitment at this point in our lives. 11:50 a.m. - we're off to UNIVERSAL! YES!!!!!!! First things first, food once again. We wanted to eat a bit before roaming the parks. We ate at Pastamore - it was fairly cheap pizza. Tasted like a frozen store bought pizza but whatever. It was food and quick. We went over to the Universal ball for a picture (that we did everyday).

Then we went in to US to make sure we didn't have to get a different ticket but our printouts were fine. Then we went to UIoA for Harry Potter! We hadn't got to do the Harry Potter rides at our honeymoon because it opened the week before, it was June, and well, the lines were 2 hours+. So we literally hauled ass around to the back side of the park to Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey/Hogsmead.
We rode the HP Forbidden Forrest ride - it was FANTASTIC! The detail of the building was awesome. You walked in the castle, through Madam Pumfries greenhouse, back into the castle, past Dumbledor's entrance to his office, through the corridor of talking pictures, yes they talked!, through Dumbledor's office, to the Observatory room, down a hallway with the lady in the painting that kept the entrance to the Gryfindor common room, moving daily profits, and even past the sorting hat. This was one ride I wouldn't mind standing in line for and looking at everything. It was a stimulated ride that you flew through the castle, dealt with the spiders (grossest part), fought demontors, played quiditch, fought dragons, dealt with the whom ping willow, and over the water and through mountains and returned safe back to Hogwarts. We then went on the flight of the hippogriff. It was definitely a kiddie ride - it was about 5 minutes, a quick simple rollercoaster. We didn't ride the dualing dragons because it went upside down. We don't do upside down rides. After our ride we had our first butterbeer --- YUMMY!!!!!! We had one every day that week. There was a liquid version and the frozen kind. I loved them both! Then we went to Marvels Superhero area. I had huge blisters on the back of my feet so we went in one store asking about bandaids - they could call over an emt (no thank you) or sell me 8 bandaids for $6. So I passed and we stopped back at guest services and loaded up on bandaids. While we were in the store Spiderman ran in and out - it was crazy. That was the one superhero we didn't get a picture with. We decided to go eat lunch before Impact Wrestling that was being taped that night. We had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe - Josh had a bbq sandwich and I had chicken with mac & cheese. The mac & cheese was delish but the chicken was a little lack luster. We then went to get my bandaids and our tickets (even though the event was free) for Impact Wrestling. On our way to get in line we ran into the Minons! They're building a new ride in honor of them and we can't wait to go back in a few years once that is complete and they're also closing the Jaws/Amity area for something new - I hope it's Transformers!
5:30 - Doors open for Impact Wrestling. They film IW on Monday & Tuesday for that Thursday & next Thursdays show. So we were on a clip of that Thursday's show and then we were on the Thanksgiving show. We got to see a lot of wrestlers - and my all time favorite, Jeff Hardy.
I took this on the tv a week later - there we are on national tv - on Spike. After we left Impact/Universal we went to Citywalk and bought Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Day 3: 11-16-11 - Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast while sitting on the patio enjoying the Orlando weather and palm trees. Definitely loved this - it was very relaxing. We headed out to Universal about 11 that day - with the parks not very crowded we weren't in a hurry and get up mood. When we first walked in U.S. we ran into Scooby & Shaggy. When we were here for our honeymoon, we only got a picture with Scooby.

June 2010
We also ran into Marilyn Monroe, Lucy & Ricky, and the SIMPSONS!!!!!!! If you remember from my honeymoon blog, we were 5 minutes late to get a picture with the entire Simpsons crew - and only got a picture with Bart. Well, not this time baby!
After meeting a few characters, we had lunch at the Diner. We then proceeded to the Rocky Horror Makeup Show, a Magic Show, T2, the Simpsons Ride, and Men in Black. Josh and I rode the Simpsons about 4 times, and the Men in Black ride 5 times over two days. Josh won the MIB game 3 outta 5, but I hit the bonus all but once.
This picture is from the next day (11.17.11) but it fits ---
and yes, I knew where the cameras were. And no, we don't know the people behind us - but the guy is hilarious!

After the MIB/Simpsons ride we headed past Jaws (we did that the first time, interesting, old and boring-they are closing the Jaws/Amity area in Jan. to make room for something new --- I HOPE it's Transformers!). We went to Disaster and the Mummy. Oh the Mummy. We didn't do this ride the first time - not really sure why, probably the line was too long) --- but my brother and his family went a month early and Amy said Jer & Cole LOVED the Mummy. So we thought - ok, if a 9 year old can do it, so can we. The wait time was only 5 minutes and that was just walking all the way through to the front of the line. You get in this rickety boat car looking thing - bars come over the top and off you go. You start out in the story and the guy (Brenden Frasier) is saying go back don't do it yadda, yadda, ya. Well we proceed into the gold room, fire on the ceiling, mummies, bad guys, twists, turns, falling backwards, and turning fast and fire. I know I screamed and laughed most of the time - it was definitely awesome! We did it the next day too and sat by this couple who hadn't rode it and the girl was freaking out. It was AWESOME!

Back to U IofA we go --- I gotta go back to Harry Potter! But first we rode the Cat in the Hat - it was very cute! Reminded me of the Pooh and Snow white rides from Disney.

All aboard!!!!!!! Platform 9 3/4s and the train conductor! Random I know but HP know it alls know what I'm talking about :) When we got back to Hogsmead today the conductor was there, I took my picture with him, but Josh didn't. He was super cute and was in great character. So then we went to the Forbidden Journey and then to Olivanders. Last time when we were there the line to Olivanders (a wand shop) was about 2 hours long - everything there was 2 hours long. But this time it was only about 10 minutes. What is it? Olivander's is a wand shop. There is a skit that is played and the detail is so fantastic!

Looking up at all of Olivander's wands

After Olivander's - we had another Butterbeer :) and a pumpkin juice. The butterbeer is definitely my favorite! And then went to Honeydukes and Zoinks! We didn't buy anything here. It was hard to spend $15 on a little jar of candy that we probably wouldn't end up eating. After we left Hogsmead, we walked back through Marvel, riding Spiderman before leaving for the night.

That night we went to Downtown Disney. I desperately wanted to go the Christmas store.
Josh bought me this Buzz & Woody ornament - I don't get it until Christmas though.

Photo op with the giant plastic Buzz.

We ate dinner at Fulton's Crab House --- Oh my gosh their crab dip is so delish!

Fulton's Crab Boursin
Fulton's Crab House
Downtown Disney


3 lb. cream cheese
1/2 cup roasted garlic
1 TB chopped green onions
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 TB Prepared Horseradish
2 TB crab base or crab meat
1/4 cup roasted red peppers
1 TB hickory-smoked mustard (Note: If you cannot find smoked mustard, check your local supermarket for a bottle of liquid smoke. Use approximately 1/2 teaspoon.)


1. Mix all ingredients except cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.

2. Cut cream cheese into small cubes and place them in the mixer.

3. Mix cheese until smooth. Stop, scrape sides and mix again.

4. When cream cheese is smooth, add the rest of the ingredients to mixer. Be careful not to over mix.

Store in covered container and refrigerate up to 7 days.

Merry Christmas from the Olsens!

Day 4: 11-17-11-Our laziest of days. We did some outlet shopping, well browsing. We didn't really buy anything that day. We went to the Mall of Milena --- a way over priced mall but we did go to FYE and I got "Where the Heart is" and "Mars needs moms" both on sale so I was happy. We also went to Target and I got an alien shirt from Toy Story 3 - I was so happy to have found that. We watched iMPACT wrestling and we were on one segment of it.

Day 5: 11-18-11-Our last full day of fun. We started off to Universal Studios.
One of the funniest parts of our trip - we were walking down the Hollywood part and this guy stopped me asking if I would like to make $35 cash. I said do I have to look at a condo? He about fell over laughing. It was about a 10 minute survey on Christmas cards. I bullshitted my way through the whole thing, but hey - I got $35 quick and easy. That paid for a Harry Potter wand :) -- which we bought a total of 6. Two Harry Potters, Two Elder Wands (Dumbledore), Hermonie, & Sirius Black. I wanted them all. I still do. They'll be on my Christmas list for a long time until I complete the set.

We first went to Krustyland for our 1st of 2 rides on the Simpsons. It's one of our favorites.
We kept going back and forth with the Simpsons and Men in Black. Like I said earlier - Josh won our series at Men in Black - but I'm going to get him next time. And then back to the Mummy. What a rush! I love that ride!

After we were done at Universal Studios we took our Men in Black picture to the car and went in to Universal Islands of Adventure. We decided to start in the Marvel area and I'm so glad we did. I'm big into taking pictures with characters and we were in luck. We got to meet Wolverine, two girls (I can never remember their names, but Josh does and one complimented my shirt - the first of many that day), Cyclopes, and Captain America. We were too late for Spiderman, but they said he'd be back at 5, we got their at 5:10 and they were getting on the cycles and heading out. It was so disappointing.
-He told me, it's the claw get it?
He made me fight crime with him and put my fists up.
Our last trip to Hogwarts

That was the highlights of our trip, I had a blast and can't wait to go back!