The best part about Christmas 2014 was that we were able to spend it with most of our family. I was actually off this year! I guess that made up for working on Thanksgiving. On Christmas Eve, Brian came over to our house to spend the night. I think he was worried about if Santa would find him after he has moved around so much during the previous year. Aaron lucked out and received a MacBook Pro. Susan was quite happy that she would be able to use her laptop at the house now. We gave Brian a new Motorola Andriod phone. He was pretty excited since he broke his last phone. Forrest is always confused with all of the excitement on Christmas mornings. He usually gets lost in his stocking. My mom and stepdad came in Christmas afternoon. It was nice to be able to see them for the holiday. It was a quick visit. They had to leave the next day, and so did we.
On the day after Christmas, we drove to Montgomery to visit Susan’s family. We stayed at her brother’s house for the weekend. We did a lot of catching up. All of the cousins were able to get together. While in Montgomery we went to a Dillard’s discount store. It was our first time in that type of Dillard’s. We also went to the Mexican restaurant that Susan’s mom loved.
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On February 2, 2014, I returned to New Orleans to run the Mardi Gras Marathon. This race was the first marathon I ran in 2011. Several of my family members (two uncles, an aunt, mom and Aaron) ran the half marathon. To the right is a picture of everyone at the expo the day before the race.
I had a goal to of 3:40. The weather was quite a bit hotter than he was hoping for. It was also very foggy. When running through the French Quarter, there were areas where there was about 50′ of visibility. It was almost surreal. Phil and Susan cheered for everyone doing the race. This was mom’s fourth year doing the half marathon!
I finished the race in 3:47. I shaved off two minutes from my previous personal best. I have shaved off 45 minutes since his first marathon in 2011! Shortly after the race, I signed up to run the Miami Marathon in January 2015. Maybe a 3:40 will be doable. Then again, it will probably be quite hot at that race too.
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On June 4, 2013, Brian graduated from high school! It was a very proud day for us. The graduation was held at the Pensacola Bay Center. Susan’s brother and sister rented a condo on the beach and made a mini-vacation out of the event. We enjoyed visiting with all of the family. Brian has plans to enter the military soon. To the right, is a photograph taken shortly after the ceremony.
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During the last week of March 2013, we went to Orlando for Spring Break. This was Brian’s last spring break with us. My mom, stepdad and stepbrother met us in Orlando. We stayed at Vacation Village Resort, thanks to mom.
We had a three day pass to Universal Studios. With the exception of Brian and Ethan, this was everyone’s first time to visit Universal Studios. Brian actually went to Islands of Adventure the weekend before, as part of his senior class trip. To the right is a photograph that we took on our last day.
On Tuesday, we visited Universal Studios. On the rock it ride, Brian’s eyeglass arm broke off. Brian was pretty bummed because it was his Oakley glasses he just got on his last birthday. While we were waiting in line at the Twister ride, Susan saw an eyeglass arm lying on the ground. The arm was Brian’s! The arm clipped right back in and was not damaged. What are the chances? Brian’s day was brightened. He didn’t wear those glasses back to the parks the next two days. To the left is Brian holding his glasses right after Susan found the arm!
On the same day, we all got stuck on the Mummy Ride. We were told that someone tried to get off during the ride. After waiting in line for about an hour, Susan, Aaron, and I got stuck during the first five minutes of the ride. My mom, stepdad, stepbrother and Brian got stuck on the very end of the ride. Since we were stuck, we received an express pass for one ride. We actually were able to use it for four rides. Here is a photograph of several of us stuck on the ride. This has never happened to any of, so we wanted to memorialize it. Some girl that worked at Disney World was also stuck with us.
We had a very nice time. This is the first time all of my family got together in about five years. We look forward to our next vacation that is just several months away! We will be going to Las Vegas in June.
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On January 11, 2013, we traveled to New Orleans to witness a reenactment of the Battle of New Orleans. The reenactment took place on the original battlefield, which happens to be about a mile from where my mom lives. The following morning we went to the Chalmette Battlefield to view several demonstrations related to the Battle of New Orleans. The weekend was very informative. Susan was probably the most excited since it is a topic that she teaches in fifth grade. The photograph is a cannon demonstration.
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For Christmas this year, we stayed at our home in Pensacola, FL. My mom and stepdad drove over from New Orleans to celebrate with us. I had to work until 2am on Christmas Eve. Shortly after I went to bed, the boys got up to see if Santa came. Santa must have made a very quick visit, but he did come. Brian got a nice camera. Aaron got the new iPod Touch, some video games and some clothes. Susan got a Coach purse, a box of goodies from Victoria’s Secret, some FSU clothing and a linen set. I got some Bose headphones for running, a FSU cooler, some clothes to wear to school and some Vibram Fivefingers. Susan and I gave my mom and stepdad tickets to Cirque du Soleil. On the right is a photograph of Brian playing with Forrest and his stocking.
On the day after Christmas, we traveled to Mobile, AL, to see some of my family. We have not seen many of them in almost ten years. The day was nice. The boys enjoyed playing pool while the adults sat around and caught up. To the left is a group photograph that we took right before we left.
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On February 13, 2011, I ran my first marathon (26.2 miles). I chose the Mardi Gras Marathon to be my first marathon. The marathon was held in New Orleans, LA, where my mom lives. I was able to con my mom into running the half marathon (13.1 miles). Susan and I stayed in a historic hotel, the Le Pavilion, near the French Quarter. The hotel was very nice. My niece, Nicole, drove from Montgomery to cheer me on. This was Nicole’s first time in New Orleans. Susan took some time on Saturday to show her around the French Quarter.
This was the largest run that I ever participated in. I was amazed at the expo. Mom got a gait analysis for the first time. She learned she was wearing the wrong type shoe. Brian and Aaron enjoyed playing the games at the expo. Both of the boys won Brooks pillow shoes and medals. The lower photograph is Brian and Aaron at the expo with some of their winnings.
The morning of the run, I walked to the start line from the hotel. UPS trucks took care of the gear check. I was in corral eight. Mom was in corral 22. Mike streamed his run via Runkeeper. Two of my friends and Susan watched my progress on the Internet. I was able to see Susan, Nicole, Brian and Aaron at the start, half way point and the finish line. At mile 15, I hit the dreaded wall and started to slow from a 8:30 pace. At mile 23, my calves cramped and I was unable to run for long periods. I alternated between walking and running during miles 23 through 25. At mile 25 I was able to pick up a slow pace all the way to the finish line. I finished in 4 hours and 33 minutes. I hoped to complete the marathon in four hours or less. Mom had knee pain around mile three. She completed the half marathon in 3 hours 23 minutes. Mom actually completed seven minutes earlier than she estimated she would.
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New Years 2011 was our best New Years ever. On December 30, 2010, we traveled to Atlanta, GA. When we arrived in Atlanta, we checked into our hotel room and left immediately to meet two of my cousins for dinner. We met Lisa and Tracy for pizza. We has not seen his two cousins in several years. It was nice catching up with Lisa and Tracy. We had a lot in common with them. Lisa is a marathon runner. I was training for a marathon. Tracy teaches school, so her and Susan compared their school districts. After dinner, we walked to the Georgia Aquarium. The purpose of our trip to Atlanta was to watch the Chick Fil A Bowl on New Years Eve. The aquarium was hosting a fan party the night before the game. The team’s cheerleaders were there. Our friends Dan and Sam met us at aquarium. We enjoyed the exhibits at the aquarium. Brian and Aaron liked the petting tank the most. On the right is a photograph of Brian and Aaron at the aquarium. After checking out the aquarium we went back to the hotel. The adults stayed up late playing cards.
On the following day we set out to find Susan a new hair iron. I broke the iron when he was pulling luggage out of the trunk. We found a hair iron in downtown Atlanta. We even found a Moe’s to eat at. We then went to the Georgia Dome for the Chick Fil A Bowl. FSU was playing against South Carolina. This was our first bowl game. Before the game, they dropped a lot of cows from the ceiling. The cows parachuted down like the commercial. I caught one of the cows for Aaron. South Carolina was ranked higher than FSU. A lot of people expected SC to win. Florida State played an amazing game. FSU won 26-17. The photograph on the left is Susan and I before the game started.
The game ended a little before 11pm on New Years Eve. We walked from the Georgia Dome to Underground Atlanta. We wanted to watch the Peach Drop. When we got near the Peach Drop, the police had the roads blocked. We could not get near Underground Atlanta. A teenager was shot near the Peach Drop. We walked into a parking garage and was able to see the lighted peach. At midnight we watched the Peach Drop from a distance. Atlanta had a firework show that started after the Peach Drop. We couldn’t see the fireworks though. They were being lit from the top of the parking garage we were in. The New Years Eve celebration turned into a funny disaster. We decided to call it a night and walked back to the hotel, which was about another mile. The poor girls were in pain since both were wearing high heeled boots. At the hotel we realized we were hungry. We ordered take out Thai food, which was actually real good. After feeding our hunger, the adults hung out in the hotel bar.
We left New Years day for home. We stopped in Montgomery to visit with Susan’s mom. Susan’s mom watched Wiggles for us. We decided to stay with Susan’s mom for a night at the last minute. The photograph on the right is Susan and her mom on New Years day.
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The week of Christmas 2010, we traveled to New Orleans, LA, to visit with my family. We walked around the French Quarter to witness Christmas in New Orleans. We stopped at a hotel that was decorated real nice. We also went to Christmas on Fulton Street. Harrah’s Casino decorates the street with Christmas trees, lights and fake snow. We also went to a concert that was held in the St. Louis Cathedral. The next day we went to a cooking demonstration in the French Quarter. We visited the Katrina Museum, which was breathtaking. For lunch we ate gyros near Bourbon Street. We capped off the visit with a nice ham dinner prepared by mom. The photograph on the right is of everyone in a French Quarter hotel.
After a busy three days in New Orleans we returned home to celebrate Christmas. We had a quite Christmas celebration with just the four of us. On Christmas morning Brian and Aaron woke up around one in the morning. Susan got up and chased them back to bed. This Christmas was the biggest yet for the boys. Brian received a Macbook and Aaron received a 32″ LCD television for his room. My present was probably the best of all. I got four tickets to the Chick Fil A Bowl, which FSU was playing in. Susan would probably argue her present was the best though. She received a new Mazda 6 unexpectedly. The Mazda will replace the Honda she has been driving since 1998. The photograph on the left is of Susan and I Christmas morning.
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We spent Thanksgiving 2010 in Montgomery, AL, with Susan’s family. We arrived in Montgomery the night before Thanksgiving. We went to Susan’s sister’s house for a short visit. The following day we drove to Maggie and Tom’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. All of Susan’s immediate family were able to make the gathering. We had a real nice time. The cousins spent time catching up with each other. I went on call Thanksgiving night at midnight. So we had to leave Montgomery that evening. We had a nice visit with Susan’s family even though it was cut short. Here is a photograph of the entire family.
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