Today's Verse

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It Has Been A Busy Summer

WOW! July 24 already!!

This summer is flying by!

And we have been enjoying every bit of it!

June 29 we left on our two week vacation. We always plan our vacation time around the US Open Karate Championships in Orlando, FL and this year was no different.

We just took more time off than normal.

Frank and I wanted to see some of the sites between Abilene and Orlando that none of us had seen before. Originally we had planned to leave on Monday July 1, but if we left a day earlier we would have a little bit more time to play.

We didn't drive very far the first day, partly because we didn't think we were going to be able to leave as early as we did and secondly because I didn't measure our distances between stops very well. It all worked out ok though. Terrell, TX was our first stop and we got there early enough that Mattie got to swim for a long time.
This kid loves to swim!!

We got up pretty early to make it to our first stop. West Monroe, LA. We were headed to Duck Commander Headquarters. It was a surprise for Mattie. We love watching Duck Dynasty. The Robertson's are an amazing family that have held to their Christian values. We need more people like them on TV.
Looks just like it does on TV!
Then we headed on down the road. We had not planned to make any other site seeing stops but we missed a turn and while our GPS was getting us back on track, we passed this...
We all agreed we had time to stop!

We all love BPS and even though we didn't buy anything, we used the stop to eat lunch. And of course it was really good!
After we got back on course, we headed on to our Day 2 stop in Magee, MS. Again we got there early enough for Mattie to spend some time at the pool. And I needed to pick some things up at Walmart and it was just a stop light away, so very convenient for Katie and I to go by ourselves and not get lost.
We didn't have any stops planned for Day 3 because we needed to get on to Orlando and get in the hotel. It is about a six hour drive from Pensacola to Orlando with not much to see other than trees. But this time we got into some rain. And I mean it rained!!!!
Boy! Would we like to have this stuff back home!!!
It took us just a little longer than normal to get to Orlando because of the rain. There were some points when Frank was going about 50MPH because visibility was so bad! But we got there safely and all in one piece, checked in the hotel, ate at Joe's Crab Shack, Mattie and Katie hit the pool, then we settled in for the night. I had a lot of work to do and we had to be at the tournament site at 3:00PM to start getting things set up.
On Day 4 we had a yummy breakfast at the hotel, then I had to get to work. I had to turn two balloons covered in plaster of Paris into glitter filled coconuts and make a sign for each of Mattie's stations in her creative open. We packed Katie's Cricut and even though I had never used it, it didn't take me long to figure out how to get all my letters cut out. and Frank helped me get them glued on to the signs. We finished just in time to get to Coronado Springs and start unloading equipment. Well, I didn't unload anything, but everyone else did!!
All the material has to be unloaded off the trailer...

then unloaded again inside the building. It takes much more muscle and energy than I have these days.
After all this was done, it was time to find food, swim for a minute, the get to bed for another busy day.
Getting the tournament site ready for competition is always done on Day 5. It is always held at Disney's Coronado Springs resort. It is a great facility. When we walk in this is what it looks like...
And we have to get it ready for breaking (protecting the facility from the boards and bricks) 
And we also have to separate all the breaking material that everyone has ordered and get it ready for the competitors to pick it up.  
 All these bricks and boards will leave this building tomorrow in bits and pieces!!
We got finished early enough that we had some time to play, so we headed to Down Town Disney!

I wish I had this at my house!!!
We had time to go to a movie while we were there. Mattie wanted to see The Lone Ranger but it was all sold out so we saw Despicable Me 2. Just as good as the first and the most comfortable movie seats I have ever sat in!! Then it was back to the tournament to check in, get kinks worked out before the morning, the off to bed to get ready for competition.
Day 6 is what this vacation is all about, competing at the US Open Karate Championships. The WORLD'S largest karate competition. We have mad so many friends in the few years we have been going and that held true for this year as well. I must say, my family did very well this year. This was Katie's first year to compete and she was in two divisions and won them both!!! Frank won 3 firsts and one third. Mattie won 4 firsts and 1 second. She was so focused this year and her creative open stole the show. She had several of the masters tell her how much they enjoyed her performance. My family is amazing!!!
Competition took up the entire day, but Katie and Mattie did get out in time to go find some fireworks. It was Independence day after all!! It was a great day and we were ready to finish off with the ISKA competition on Saturday.
ISKA is by invitation only and is so much fun to watch. It is the Masters that we all love to watch. Frank helps on stage, helping to set up and to hold for the breakers, so he spends a lot more time there then the girls and I do. We headed down to the pool after Larry and Don did their creative,  then when Frank was finished he joined up. We decided to do a little bus hopping and went over to the Art of Animation resort. Frank and Mattie had never seen it and we had dinner there.
Then we headed back to the hotel to get ready to leave for Tampa on Sunday.
The drive to Tampa was nice. We got checked into the hotel, then headed over to Clearwater Beach to meet up with everyone else, spend some time in the ocean and have a cookout. Its what we do every year. It is a day to not have a real schedule because we all need a rest from all the rush of the competition. We had a lot of fun on Day 8 spending most of the day at the beach.
Day 9 was park day. We choose to go to Busch Gardens and it was a great decision!! We had a blast!! Great rides, beautiful park, and fantastic food!!!

Our visit was over come Tuesday morning, Day 10. We were headed to New Orleans. None of us had ever been there and decided to take a different route home so we could make a stop. It was a long drive and we arrived just in time to get checked into the hotel, find some supper and take a swim before it was bed time. We had some great food at a location recommended to us by the hotel. We were all very full. The child's hamburger that Mattie ordered could have fed three kids her size and Katie and I were so glad we decided to split something! It was more than enough for both of us!

I had told Frank there was only one place that I really wanted to go while we were in New Orleans, and he kept his promise and we had breakfast there on Day 11
Café Du Monde, a must stop in NOLA!!
After a little site seeing and some shopping, we got back on the road and headed to my cousin's house in Kingwood. We stayed the night there and had a great time visiting, it just wasn't long enough!!!
On Day 12 we headed for home. It was a relaxed drive, well for us anyway! Frank won't let anyone else drive but he doesn't seem to mind!!
It was so nice to get home, but we are ready to do it all over again next year!!
We had a couple of days to relax before Frank had to go back to work and I was ready for my next surgery. I hope to have my video of our travels ready and posted in the next few days.
I will also have a post ready for you about my surgery.
In all this time away from home and seeing more of God's great creation that we have seen, it more evident than ever that,
Everything is going to be ok!!!
Until next time,
God Bless