Miss America!

Miss America

First: No, Miss America is NOT Miss USA, aka Trump’s pageant. Just getting that out of the way! 🙂

Second: Yes, I did have to google that cause I know NOTHING about the pageant world.

…correction, I KNEW nothing…until now!!

How I get to have a friend like Carolyn, I don’t know. But she was selected to be a preliminary judge for Miss America this year. That means she spends all week in Atlantic City judging. Then the celebrities come in on Sat night and do the judging for the show. But after having seen how this works, the prelim judges really do all the work and the celebrities get all the glory! Story of life!

Carolyn asked me to be her “plus one”…and I looked at Brian, who obviously knew this meant he would be on his own for a few days wrangling kids, but even then still said, “You have to!” So while he was working hard doing his normal job, plus getting 3 kids around to soccer practices, sometimes overlapping practices at different fields, and the likes, I was flying to Atlantic City, FIRST CLASS!

I told Brian I’m never flying coach again. Leg room for days, free drinks (I ordered a vodka soda cause everyone else was…yes, I’m a follower) and not just peanuts, mixed roasted nuts!

Miss America

But that’s not even it! Lunch! All on real plates and silverware!

Miss America

And cookies afterwards. It really was all it’s hyped to be.

I detoured through Baltimore to see my college roommate Missy! She’s one of my favorite people in this world, and 24 hours with her was good for my soul. But obviously not for my camera cause we didn’t take ONE picture. Boo. 🙁

A little Miss American info for you: There are 3 evenings of Preliminary Competition. These are also held in Boardwalk Hall (where Sunday night’s competition is held). Each night, 1/3 of the girls do talent, 1/3 question and 1/3 bathing suit and evening gown. The prelim judges are giving them ratings and narrowing it down to 14. Along the way, girls are winning scholarships. They are ultimately competing for $50,000 in scholarships if they win. We were so impressed with the girls. They are between 17 and 24 and I was no where as put together and articulate at that age.

Here’s the judges seating.

Miss America

Miss America

We met Miss Teen America Thursday night. She was a doll!

Miss America

This dress was so Elsa!

Miss America

Miss America

Carolyn’s college friend Lindsay came in to join us! I have heard about her for 15 years, so meeting her was well over due! She’s adorable and fun and I love her!

Lindsay and I are twinkies! This was up on the stage after the prelims on Friday.

Miss America

Saturday, the prelims were done, and there’s a “Shoe Parade”- the girls all make a pair of elaborate shoes representing their state and ride in cars with their legs up showing off these shoes.

Here’s Miss America 2017 starting off the parade. Her name is Savy! How cute this that?

Miss America

Here she is again. So about 2 seconds before the camera takes the picture, it hit both Lindsay and I that we are taking a picture with MISS AMERICA. So you feel awkward cause you know this maybe wasn’t the best idea cause you are gonna look dowdy no matter what! 🙂

Miss America

We watched the parade from that balcony. Yes, like royalty. Yes, it was awesome!

Miss America

So, Miss Baltimore had cherry blossoms…

Miss Illinois went with Cubs…

Miss Texas. Well, she didn’t win any points from me, so it’s a good thing the prelims were over. And also I had zero say, so there’s that too! 🙂

We called ourselves Carolyn’s “entourage”

Miss America

This is up on our royalty balcony. It was like a party up there while we watched a parade, so definitely one of my favorite parts!

Miss America

We explored Atlantic City just a little. It has a great beach!

Miss America

And the best statue idea ever!!

Miss America

Our meals were crazy yummy! And I’m not just saying that cause I didn’t make them!

Miss America

We also had room service all week (which prior to this I had only done once before when Carolyn sent it to us in Chicago so the kids could experience it! Yes, she is the best all around!). We all missed room service the most when we got home!

My guilty pleasure is The Bachelor. (I haven’t watched in a while, but let’s just say if you want to talk Bachelor, I can hold my own!) And I LOVE Chris Harrison. He makes me laugh and he’s so good on his feet. My one goal in life (aka, on this trip) was to get a picture with him. I missed my first chance cause Lindsay and I had left back stage decided to go watch the press conference from the press seats! Ugh! (yes, he did make a comment about his seat being right in front of the roses!)

Miss America

 But we caught him back stage after his red carpet on Sunday!!

Miss America

Miss America

So yes, Sunday! We got our hair and makeup done and hit the cocktail pre-party. Also we “borrowed” the crown in the centerpiece…

Miss America

Red carpet lighting is amazing!

  Miss America  Miss America         Miss America

The Sunday show was fascinating cause it was live. I’ve only been to live football games 🙂 so experiencing this was really amazing. The detail and logistics that go into planning and executing was overwhelming. The camera man would film, then he would bust it over to the shadows for 15 seconds so he was out of the next shot, then run again back to a  spot to film again. Watching all that behind the scenes was my favorite!

Then I got to come home to this:

    Miss America

And I couldn’t resist drawing this on the kids napkins on Tuesday! 🙂

Miss America

Katy Trail 2017

This is year, who knows, 10o maybe, of this annual trip with Tony and Shari!

My fav pic

This year we went 3 for 4 in flat tires. Also the first ones for both Shari and me both. We have great husbands who know how to change them, so while we wait we take cute pics of them.

Turns out my tire had some cool goo in it that it didn’t need to be changed, just added air. But we realized that too late. “S0meone” was mocking Brian…”Someone” rhymes with Bony! 🙂

I’m pretty sure Tony was changing a flat tire and Shari and Brian are playing wiffle ball (with a stick as a bat) and I’m taking pics. Sorry Tony!

Yep, that was it.

Shari and I’s cute bridge pic:

Brian’s less cute bridge pic:

Our bed and breakfast

The bed and breakfast Shari and I wanted to stay at!

We just go for the pics of us jumping. We’ve gotten pretty good…meaning we take 5 pics every time instead of 30 to get a good one!

  

Here’s us discussing the shot. And how I wanted to be on the ground and not way up on these stairs.

 

I sucked it up, but it wasn’t my best shot! (I hate heights!)

We found this incredible “Boat Henge” that makes no sense but is crazy cool anyways.

Brian is always so patient and helpful in taking our jumping pictures, so I feel bad throwing him under the bus and posting these…but not bad enough not to! 🙂
(Love you Brian Bian)

“OK Brian, jump like you are flying out of the boat”

“Yeah, you are gonna have to get a little higher than that”

“Yes, it IS harder than it looks”

  

“Nope, more height. Put your heart into it.”

And then we got it…but it was blurry! Sorry babe!

And we DID it! It was storming the whole last day, but we limped to the finish line!

And then we went shopping at the Gap Outlets on the way home. The second reason Shari and I go…

 

Summer Vacation: Indianapolis and Detroit

We stick our heads in any funny pics we see!

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And yes, Berkley is in her pajamas. And yes, they are fleece footies. And yes, it’s July. She would live in them all day everyday year round if I let her.

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Also, we ride statues.

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We spent an afternoon in Indianapolis just passing though. I can’t remember why the kids were upset at Brian for some silly reason, but they were all walking with me and I was pumped!

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Yelp has been our friend on this trip. We found a crepe place for lunch!

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Also found a unique ice cream shop

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They freeze your ice cream in front of you!

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Then we saw a sign on the highway advertising the world’s largest rocking chair. We are so in for this!

It didn’t disappoint:

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Buuuut then we realized this was a whole TOWN of “World’s Largest”

Wooden Shoes:

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Wind chime:

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Top:

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Mailbox (with working flag!)

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Gavel:

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Pencil:

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Bird cage:

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Not world’s largest, but still cool! It’s made from an old gas tank

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Also a night in Detroit cause the ASTROS were there!

Vacation 2017 - Caught a Carlos Beltran foul ball

Vacation 2017 - Detroit

We actually blended in here cause the Tigers are the same colors!

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Summer Vacation 2017- Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls wasn’t as impressive as we thought it was gonna be:

Vacation 2017 - Thought falls would be bigger

Kidding, it was awesome!

Niagara Falls

I love these people

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Her stinking head fit in the bars. Made me anxious.

Niagara Falls

His wife is one lucky girl…

Niagara Falls

Berkley is so weird.

Niagara Falls

In this one Boo is licking my arm…why??

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

We watched from the top, then went down and did the boat tour, cause I think it’s a law you have to go on the boat ride at Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls

Brian laughed at me and took my pic. Less for the memory and more to mock my hoodie tied so tight, but good golly it was misty!

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However, it IS true that he looks cooler than me without his on…

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Niagara Falls

I realized recently that Brian spends a lot of time like this: helping all of us climb off stuff!

Niagara Falls Niagara Falls

Annnd I think that’s all the pictures they have in them for the day! To be fair, it was well after dinner time and we ran out of snacks…:)

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Drivey Drivesters

We have discovered a direct correlation: as the number of teeth we have to brush and the number of baths we have to give goes down as the kids get older,  the number of question goes UP significantly.

Some days it seems like I field questions at an alarming rate. Some are really good thoughtful questions. Some are dumb and funny. And some are asked and then three more tacked on before I can even answer the first one. Exhibit A:

Summer 2016

Brian bought a counter before we left. And we counted the questions we got on the days we spent mostly in the car. Here’s what we got the first day, the rest were close to this too. (These were only the ones we got while in the car and also the ones we remembered to count)
Summer 2016
And although this was Brian and I’s, the kids had to have different entertainment. Books on CD were our best friend!! Brian got these head phones for Berkley. He paid twice as much, but they are at least 7 times as cute!! (That’s a bargain in my book!)

Summer 2016

We looked at a lot of this in these big cities:

Summer 2016

It’s hard to tell what this is, but it’s a mannequin seat belted in to the back seat of a car. Random creepy find in a Target parking lotTexas Trip 2016

A highlight of the trip was Blue Bell. Their new flavor, Cookie Two Step, is a combo of cookies n cream and choc chip cookie dough. It may be their best flavor yet. It was sad to leave behind!

The land that flows with Blue Bell

Berkley loves all things penguins. She found a cookie in Texas!

Texas 2016

Also we wore her out at the end!

Texas 2016

It was a super fun trip, but we were happy to come home to our small town sans traffic! As we were pulling back into town we asked Berkley if Dory and Nubbers would remember her. She said, “Hopefully not! Cause then they may like me!”

…So wonderful so great!

There’s a huge outlet mall in San Marcos on our way to the river in New Braunfels and we stopped in a few stores. Brian tried to convince me SP needed this:

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

But it was $60, so it stayed at the store!

Then he convinced me we needed gas from the Official Fuel of Nascar

Texas 2016

More Mexican food!

Summer 2016

Growing up in Texas, you are bound to have floated the river at least a few times. We “needed” our kids to have this experience for sure!

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe      Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

Girl caught this turtle with her hands, ALL BY HERSELF!

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

Berkley’s holding up another turtle!

       Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

Then, and this was a highlight of our trip by far, we went to my roommate Missy’s parent’s house, on the river.

Texas 2016

Kids played Chicken Fights, for the first time in their lives!

 Texas 2016  Texas 2016

Texas 2016

Who knew 15 years ago God would bring us back together with so many extras this time!!

Aquatica San Antonio

Love this girl! It was funny how we reverted back to our old roommate ways! When you live with someone I guess there are some things you never outgrow with them!

Texas 2016

Where there’s a screen, there are kids.

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

Her sister and family were there too! So many great friends and our kids couldn’t have loved them more! Makes my heart so happy!

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

The Chick-fil-a was very loud this morning!

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Tour of Texas continues with a trip to Sea World. We lived in San Antonio until I was 11, so we had season passes to Sea World (the first years it was opened, yikes I’m old!), but both Brian and the kids had never done anything like this before!

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The first thing we rode was the biggest rollercoaster Brian’s going to get on…which was also the biggest our kids will get on too!

Texas 2016

You can see the entirely of the ride (and it’s height, or lack of) in the background!

Texas 2016

Everyone rode this log ride, but I thought Berkley was going to cry. She didn’t. But it was a close call!

New braunsfel

New braunsfel

New braunsfel

New braunsfel

Feet firmly on the ground was much more fun for our crowd!

 New braunsfel

New braunsfel

Chillin’ with her homeys

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They also loved this one!

Texas 2016

Daredevils I tell you

Texas 2016

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And the carousel!

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The shows were a huge hit, which is really why we went

Texas 2016

 On our way there SP said she’s never seen a real life dolphin and that she hoped to that day! Mission accomplished!

 Texas 2016

 New braunsfel

Aquarium had sharks for Becks and penguins for Berkley, everyone was happy!

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The very last show we saw was Shamu.

  Texas 2016

I purposely haven’t watched Blackfish, I already feel for these whales. We told the kids this was a big deal, that they were the last generation to see killer whale shows. When I was their age all of the trainers were in the water, jumping, diving, touching. They are phasing out the “shows” totally this year apparently, so I’m glad we got to see them, but I think it’s the right move by SeaWorld. These creatures were AMAZING!

New braunsfel

…All hail the mighty state!

We stayed in Austin, but first ate at Hula Hut, a Mexican restaurant on Lake Austin. You can’t beat the atmosphere or views!

Austin day one

Plus, Mexican.

Austin day one

Texas Trip 2016

Austin day one

Texas Trip 2016

Then we headed to Congress Ave bridge to watch the bats come out at sunset. 1.5 million of them!

The river fills up with paddlers, boaters, swans, you name it!

Summer 2016

Sweet Bat Man!

Summer 2016

Austin day one

“Be a bat!”

Austin day one

Before we went I was doing research on it and couldn’t find any great pictures of the bats. After going I understand why. It’s not super easy to photograph little bats flying fast at dusk. Who knew?

Summer 2016

 

SP struggled with me as we both tried to get pictures!

  Summer 2016

Summer 2016

They looked like clouds!

      Summer 2016

We got to see a wicked sunset behind us too, win-win!

Summer 2016

Day two, we got up and explored Austin a little. Who are we kidding, we were just looking for this:

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

I know who we are voting for!!

They REALLY love Willie in Austin. This was just a few blocks away.

Austin day 2 and Guadeloupe

Then visited Capital building.

Texas 2016

Texas 2016

The best part: This “Republic of Texas” seal was installed AFTER Texas was part of the US! Ha!

Texas 2016

Texas 2016

These are the door hinges!

 Texas 2016

They thought this chair was so fun!

Texas 2016    Texas 2016

Brian with his fav president of all time!

Texas 2016

Climbed up this super cool tree, before seeing the “no climbing” sign. Oops. Sorry Texas.

Texas 2016

We call them, “Bs.” They are cute.

Texas 2016

Next stop: San Marcos and New Braunfels!

Texas, our Texas…

This summer we set off on a tour of Texas to show our kids their heritage, of course. We made a triangle: drove i-35 to Dallas, Waco, Austin, New Braunfels, San Antonio, then cut down to Galveston, up to Houston and back through Dallas on our way home. Here’s a map for anyone who’s not from Texas and didn’t take Texas history three times:

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We changed our oil right before we left, and let’s just say it was time for another one when we got home. Yet look at how much of the state we DIDN’T get to! Crazy! (I’m so thankful God protected us with all the driving)

There was that one incident with the monster truck when I was driving. But we don’t talk about that…

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We made a stop in OKC to see the church who gifted us our logo! Beautiful church!!

Finally got to see City Pres OKCs building. Beautiful throughout! @citypresokc

Drive to Dallas Sunday after church and spent the night with my brother and his family  (I think Violet was happy to have us…)

Texas Trip 2016

Then got up and headed out: destination Waco! Our main stop there was the Dr Pepper museum, but we couldn’t be in Waco and not stop to see Magnolia!

Laura's Disneyland

Summer 2016

Summer 2016

I’ve only watched 1 and 1/2 seasons of Fixer Uppers, so I didn’t know what to expect cause I haven’t seen the ones where they are building this. But it was a fun, pretty place!

Texas Trip 2016

All Brian cared about here was that Joanna had used Astro turf. He’s been telling me for 10 years we should put it in our front yard. He’s convinced now that Joanna used it for this field that it will become trendy and he will convince me to do it! (Don’t tell him I’d love to, but have you priced that stuff out?!)

Summer 2016

Summer 2016

  Summer 2016

Summer 2016

It was a Monday right before lunch and this crowded in the store

Texas Trip 2016

We walked to the Dr Pepper Museum from there

Summer 2016

Summer 2016

Berkley and those arms!

Summer 2016

So the museum was just ok (honestly wouldn’t go again, if it was free, eh, maybe, but it wasn’t even cheap!)

       Summer 2016

But Brian was pumped to hang out with this real door off the #23 Nascar! So there’s that…

Summer 2016

Brian was chosen to come smell drinks and guess what they were: he got 3 for 3 and won…a pencil!

Summer 2016

Next time we’d skip the museum and go straight for the cafe! The BEST part of the whole trip there was the Blue Bell ice cream they used to make the Dr Pepper floats!!

 Summer 2016

They make the Dr Pepper by adding the syrup and carbonation separately!

Summer 2016    Summer 2016

3 out of every 4 meals we ate in Texas were Mexican food. We needed to get our fill (which isn’t possible for Brian, but we tried hard!)!

This tortilla machine is one of the things I miss most about Texas: fresh tortillas!

Texas Trip 2016 Texas Trip 2016

Get in car again and head to Austin. First stop: Barton Springs.

Texas Trip 2016

It’s like a natural swimming pool? It’s spring-fed but also has sides and ladders and fish

Summer 2016

Summer 2016But it’s NOT a hot spring. It was FREEZING!

Summer 2016

Texas Trip 2016

Summer 2016

It was really pretty!
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Everyone went off the diving board, but only once. It was so stinking cold! Even with it being over 100 outside!

Summer 2016

Summer 2016

This dive could compete in the Olympics!

Summer 2016
Summer 2016

This dive could not.

Summer 2016
Anytime we find a small, medium and large anything we get excited. Here it was chairs!

Summer 2016 The playground outside the springs had this BRILLIANT swing!
Summer 2016

And that’s not even the end of Monday! But I gotta break this up!

We found Nemo

While Brian was on the Katy Trail earlier this summer, Berkley spotted this turtle and HAD to catch it. Cause that’s what Brian has taught them to do.

June 2016

We would have kept it, but it was a water turtle, and Beckham has been wanting to find a box turtle to keep as a pet. He asked Brian to be on the lookout when he was riding the Katy Trail last week. In true fashion, Brian found some turtles.

When Shari and I got to the boys, Brian had a water turtle saved. They are way harder to take care of, just cause the water gets gross fast if you don’t have a whole tank with a filter, yada yada…so I knew we didn’t want to keep that one. He was cute and little and I guess we didn’t get a picture of him.

This is a snapping turtle. They are mean. And this one smelled like sewer. (the pictures are all based on Berkley’s pose!)

And lazy Brian said he didn’t want to haul this sucker across Missouri for three days. Sheesh.

June 2016

But then on the last day we found this one:

June 2016

The boys found some scrap wood in our garage and made this home for him (for free! woohoo!)!

June 2016

And now that Becks knows how to use a drill, I’m putting him to work around here!

June 2016

It was a great home!!

June 2016June 2016

We found him a friend! (we later learned that their list of diet includes…snails. Oops, sorry snail.)

June 2016

No worries, in true Hough fashion, we let him go a month later! 🙂