Saturday, May 25, 2013

Deep in the Heart of Texas

How many important events can you fit into three days time?  Let's see, shall we….
Goodbye hugs from Teddy before the long flight.
 Neutrals much? I guess I was in a certain mood when packing. 
Fresh off the flight onto Texas soil, we hit the ground running for a weekend of graduation, wedding, mother's day, and birthday festivities.
The Prigel family hosted my sis and her roomies to the most fabulous graduation party Fort Worth has ever seen.  
Precious memories with the ones we love.
  No detail was spared from super frog's appearance, babe's chicken catering, purple and white everything, and purple sugar rimmed champagne toasts.   
Lots of love!
Not that it was about R and I, but the party was a perfect welcoming back home with our loved ones. And a first meal of fried chicken, biscuits, creamed corn, and sweet tea was the perfect treat! 
TCU Graduation Day!
It wasn't too long ago that my spunky mother was running around campus to capture those forever framed pictures in our purple robes.  That was the last day I remember her being a "normal" mom.  Three years later, with heavy hearts wishing she could do the same for Kenz, we pushed on as my mom would have wanted to celebrate our wonderful grad.  It was a beautiful day and one that was definitely worth celebrating.
Graduation is a time to reflect on your academic achievements and hopes for the future.  We are so proud of her and Jr. for overcoming obstacles that most twenty somethings wouldn't know how to handle…and all with grace.  I really do look forward to seeing what the "real world" offers them as their journey continues.  It has been so great to see my little sister blossom into an independent woman and carving her own path.
Gotta have the cheesy cap and gown pics.  
The moment I was most looking forward to my whole trip was sharing a piece of my mother through a special note and gift that she had left my sister for this very day.  Even at the end of her life, my mother was always thinking of everyone else. 
Brunch at Brewed with the family before the big ceremony! 
I love this new coffee house/pub/eclectic eatery on Magnolia.  Fort Worth has changed so much since I graduated and I'm loving all the new spots that keep popping up!  Our cousin and his sweet wife, who I haven't seen since before they got married last year, made a special trip to spend the day with us.  
Commencement ceremony!  
I felt like a proud parent and understood that sense of relief feeling they talk about as pomp and circumstance played.  
Look at all the wonderful people that love the graduate! We missed some of the family as they had other important business (like getting married) to attend to…I guess we will let that one slide.  More on that later...
I love my Grandad.  He showed up wearing a "Sydney, Australia" embroidered polo that I gave him for Christmas and it made my day.  
Lots of love!
So I mentioned a while back I was working on an embroidery project.  Here is the finished product, a gift to my sister.  My mother learned cross stitching at my age, so I thought it would be a great way to connect us.  I had so much fun teaching myself and it was surprisingly easy once you gather all the materials and know the different stitches.  Yay for YouTube!  Coming from someone who didn't know how to thread a needle a few months ago (yes, my Gappy laughed when I didn't know what that was..and yes, she taught me how before I moved), that's saying a lot.  I have so many designs I want to make now!
That wedding I mentioned earlier…it was my cousin's!  After saying our goodbyes at graduation, we booked it to Southlake to celebrate the happy couple with the rest of my dad's side of the family.  Talk about great timing for R and I to see everyone!  Although we thought the day was going to be hectic, it turned out to be the perfect ending to our festivities.  
We showed up right as the ceremony was ending, but were still able to catch the sunset over the lake and the beautiful reception.  We danced the night away (even grandma), caught up with family, and celebrated the newlyweds.  Kenz and I are happy to have another amazing woman join the Carroll crew!
Like that wasn't enough, we were able to celebrate R's mom on Mother's Day in downtown FW the next day! We had a nice brunch sharing mom stories over mimosas and migas.  A happy mother with her kids..minus one who we missed! I'm so lucky to call this selfless, compassionate, and strong woman, Mom.
Birthday fun! 25 candles. Obsessed with that cake.
Nothing says a birthday party quite like BBQ and red checkered table cloth.  I was looking forward to a casual gathering with Dallas friends accompanied by my favorite food groups, sweet tea and barbecue sauce.
I love my friends!  Thanks for making me feel special and spending the evening with us.
On my actual birthday the next day, we hit up our lunch spot for the usual...limonada berries and queso verde.  Leftover cake for breakfast is acceptable too, right? Then I played around with the new lens that R gifted me...MA and Matilda were cooperative models.  The best gift he gave me though was letting us be his personal shoppers for the day without hesitation! 
On the way to drop R off at the airport that evening, we stopped for drinks at Bar Belmont.  It was the first time for us to check out this cool little spot tucked away from the crowds with the city skyline in the background.
Margaritas, sliders, and cacti…yes please!
Many thanks to this couple for being great hosts and putting up with our crazy schedules!  
The rest of the week I caught up with friends, coworkers, sleep, doctors appointments, etc.  Other highlights included a lunch date in bed with a friend who is recovering from back issues, a sleepover where my friend's bf graciously kicked himself to the couch, an afternoon with friends in their gorgeous new home, a pancake brunch date, a dinner on the patio where it hailed and we lost power, and many late night girl chats.  Business as usual.  
Bottom left: my sister and her bf booked a trip to Sydney..they arrive next week and stay for 2 weeks. Yipeeee. So glad they get this opportunity together!!
I also spent a good deal of time remembering how frustrating Dallas traffic is.  Having a car is convenient in so many ways, but then it's not.  Don't worry, I haven't gone all hippie thinking I can survive in Texas without a car.  But I have changed my feelings towards the laziness (or whatever it is) of driving a half mile down the road to my destination and spending more time finding a close parking spot than it would have been if I just walked.  No bueno.  Ross, I get it now. 
 Anyways, I headed out to Frisco one morning to see a friends new house and growing not-so baby boy.  Isn't he precious?  We enjoyed catching up over bagels and playing with sweet Gabe.
To really solidify my Texas trip, my Aunt and Uncle invited us to the Rangers Game one evening.  This was no ordinary baseball game, though.  The main event was my Uncle and his quartet singing the National Anthem.  They were amazing…such a special evening!
Fireworks, cotton candy, "Deep in the Heart of Texas", and a Rangers win.  
Successful trip.  "Y'all come back now! Ya hear?"
Next stop: Nashville, Tennessee.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I think our apartment is officially a lower temperature than the outside air.  It's 65 degrees out on this lovely autumn breeze day and I'm wrapped in a blanket wearing a sweatshirt and uggs around the house.  Time to invest in a heater before it actually gets chilly!

My first week at Red Cross was a great success!  I am basically a child development volunteer, watching babies and toddlers who have all experienced some trauma in their lives.    The goal is to have one to two children assigned to each volunteer worker so they can get the special attention they need.  I am amazed at how wonderful this program is for the young families and they even had a training session afterwards to educate us in play and speech therapy for these special cases.  
Last Sunday we had a picnic lunch in the neighborhood with friends! It has definitely become our go-to spot on the weekends when we're feeling lazy but want to get out of the house and take advantage of our surroundings.  
It was a great day to chat and test our trivia skills over a game of bezzerwizzer. Me and trivia are not friends…maybe I need to hit the books again!  
Date night in the city at Mr. Wong!  After debating whether it was worth changing out of our comfy sweats and dealing with the hassle of "getting out" (wow, we're such an old married couple), we were both glad we did and ended up here!  
I loved the urban chic decor of exposed brick and rows of hanging ducks.  Since they sat us at the kitchen with the poor duckies staring at us, it was only fitting that we ordered their signature peking duck pancakes…and they were delicious!  Can't wait to go back. 
Afternoon coffee date in Neutral Bay with Anne and Teddy! 
More park time and sunshine! 
Confession…I have never seen any of the Iron Man series.  So, I had to redeem myself with the latest movie.  I joined the boys for a night at the IMAX and I was more than pleasantly surprised!!  I was one of those weird kids who wasn't interested in cartoons or super heroes and I hate to admit that I never gave those "boy" movies a chance.  It's a shame that I have been stereotyping because I was SO wrong.  
On Friday the ISN crew gathered to say farewell to a co-worker moving back to Dallas.  Cheers, tears, slideshows, cake, and karaoke! Lucky to be a part of this family.
We wish you all the best, Jess and Dave!
Cinco De Mayo celebration with new friends and the Sydney Expat Americans group!  The event was well organized and packed with crazy costumes, "margaritaville", street tacos and corn, and a terribly awesome mariachi band.  It was a fun way to acknowledge the popular day back home…and to connect with a lovely couple.  
Teddy this week.
Exhausted after an afternoon run, trying to nibble on my pretty sunflowers, enjoying morning cuddles, and posing for the camera.  
Can you tell that this furry thing brings me lots of joy?! 
Still so surreal.