Every year, I try to get a nice photo with Laker near our anniversary. I also try to get a photo of whatever we end up doing to celebrate. Here's our collection so far!
Meet DiVine at Animal Kingdom.
Meet Pocahontas. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
Meet Peter Pan. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
Meet Tinkerbell & her friends. COMPLETED: Tink - December 29, 2016.
Go to Character Palooza. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
Meet the White Rabbit.
Meet Jack & Sally.
Meet Oogie Boogie.
Meet the Disney Villains.
Meet Kylo Ren. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
Meet Chewbacca. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
Meet Mike & Sully. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
Meet Rafiki. Completed: January 1, 2017.
Meet the Dapper Dans. Completed: December 29, 2016.
Meet Lilo & Stitch. COMPLETED: March 17, 2016.
Meet the Fab 5. COMPLETED: Mickey, Minnie, & Goofy - December 28, 2015. Pluto - March 17, 2016. Donald - December 29, 2016
Meet Belle in her blue dress.
Meet all of the princesses. NEED: Aurora, Rapunzel, & Sophia. COMPLETED: Merida - July 17, 2013. Ariel & Belle - July 11, 2014. Snow White & Jasmine - December 28, 2015. Pocahontas, Mulan, & Tiana - March 16, 2016. Elena & Cinderella - December 29, 2016. Moana, Anna, & Elsa - January 1, 2017.
Meet Sorcerer Mickey. COMPLETED: January 1, 2017.
Take a selfie with Gaston.
Visit Pete's Silly Sideshow. COMPLETED: Goofy & Donald's side - December 29, 2016.
Meet Cinderella's stepsisters.
Try the Dole Whip & Citrus Swirl. Dole Whip: COMPLETED: March 17, 2016.
Try LeFou's Brew. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
Conquer the Kitchen Sink.
Eat a character meal at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
Try the Grey Stuff at Be Our Guest Restaurant.
Eat at Sleepy Hollow. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
Try a Jungle Juice slush at Mahindi.
Eat a Mickey-shaped Macaron.
Have tea at the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian.
Try both drinks at Pongu Pongu in Pandora.
Become a Wilderness Explorer.
Sit on the Goofy bench in front of Tony's.
See Disney's bench at Disneyland.
See the Kiss Goodnight at Magic Kingdom.
Pull the Sword out of the Stone.
Ride Na'vi River Journey in Pandora.
See the Tree of Life. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
See Festival of the Lion King. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
See Finding Nemo - The Musical.
See the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show.
Ride Star Tours. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
See Fantasmic! COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
Ride the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
See Beauty & the Beast - Live on Stage. COMPLETED: January 1, 2017.
Ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
Write a wish in the Blue Fairy's Wish Book in Pinocchio Village Haus. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
Watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade.
Go to Chip & Dale's Campfire Sing-a-Long at Fort Wilderness.
Ride It's a Small World. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
See the Country Bear Jamboree. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
Take the Living with the Land Behind the Seeds tour.
Take the Keys to the Kingdom Tour.
Ride the Great Movie Ride. COMPLETED: January 1, 2017.
Ride Toy Story Midway Mania. COMPLETED: January 1, 2017.
Take a picture with the Purple Wall. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016.
Take a picture with the Blue Wall at Disneyland.
Take a picture with the Bubblegum Wall in Epcot.
Take a picture with the Blueberry Wall.
Take a picture with the Toothpaste Wall.
Take a picture with the Orange Bird Wall at Disneyland.
Take a #hubgrassandchill picture.
Take a picture with a bundle of balloons.
Explore Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. COMPLETED: January 1, 2017.
Ride Peter Pan's Flight. COMPLETED: December 29, 2016. (I forgot to take a picture, so here's a super old one from 2013).
Take hula lessons at the Polynesian Resort.
Ride Characters in Flight at Disney Springs.
See the Electric Water Pageant.
Watch every Disney animated movie (originals).
Tour Walt Disney's apartment above the Main Street Firehouse at Disneyland.
Go on a Disney Cruise.
Go to Club Villain.
Go to Disneyland.
Visit a Disney park in another country.
Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.
Visit Walt Disney's childhood home & Laugh-o-Gram Studios in Kansas City. COMPLETED: October 20, 2016.
Visit the Up house in Herriman, Utah.
Visit all 4 Disney World parks. COMPLETED: (Magic Kingdom - July 17, 2013. Epcot - December 28, 2015. Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios - March 16, 2016.)
Visit all 4 Disney World parks in one day. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
Visit Disney World near Halloween.
See the Headless Horseman ride down Main Street at Halloween.
Participate in a RunDisney event.
Go to a park on Dapper Day.
Visit Disney World at Easter. COMPLETED: March 17, 2016.
Visit Disney World during the Food & Wine Festival.
Visit Disney World during the Flower & Garden Festival. COMPLETED: March 16, 2016.
Go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Go to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
Be Our Guest Restaurant: I don't remember what I ordered here, probably because I was too overwhelmed at getting to tour the Beast's castle. We were seated in the West Wing, & occasionally a petal would fall from the enchanted rose. After that, the painting would change from the prince to the Beast. We got to tour the rest of the castle as well, & saw the library & the ballroom. We also got to meet the Beast after our meal. It was a magical experience. My only regret is that they didn't have the Grey Stuff when we were there! But that gives me an excuse to go back!
Cheshire Cafe: We tried both the White Rabbit & Red Queen cake cups. Both of them were really cute!
Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe: This is a good place to go for a quick, plain meal. They have burgers, chicken sandwiches, etc. Cosmic Ray (an animatronic) is playing music during meals as well.
Gaston's Tavern: We stopped in at Gaston's Tavern for a LeFou's Brew. A glance at the menu said it was a frozen apple drink with marshmallow & something else. When Laker took a sip, he calmly said, "Oh, that's not whipped cream on top." I grabbed it, thinking it was the marshmallow, & took a big gulp. It was so sour & tangy, & definitely not marshmallow. I made a horrible face & yelled, "oh my gosh!" which attracted some odd looks from those around us. Turns out it was a mango topping. It didn't taste bad - But it was very tart when you're expecting marshmallow! The rest of the drink mostly tasted like sweetened frozen apple juice.
Pinnochio Village Haus: I got chicken parm with caesar salad, & Laker got a pizza flatbread, both of which made for a great, quick lunch. The restaurant also gave us free Christmas sugar cookies! It was a sweet little surprise. Another fun thing to do here is sign the Blue Fairy's Wish Book.
Plaza Ice Cream Parlor: I got the cutest Mickey ice cream cone in existence. I just got vanilla, but it was so good! The Mickey ears are little chocolates.
Sleepy Hollow: This is one of the restaurants where Mackenzie worked during her Disney College Program. I got a fruit & Nutella waffle that was truly amazing, & Laker got a sweet & spicy chicken waffle (he liked his too!). We had a gorgeous view of the castle, which made our meal even more enjoyable.
Club Cool: There is a free soda fountain at Club Cool where we were able to try Coke products from around the world. Most of them were honestly not great, & some were actually pretty disgusting, but it was a fun experience! I would definitely recommend going just to try them all!
Flower & Garden Festival: We got to experience the Flower & Garden Festival over Spring Break in 2016. It was absolutely gorgeous to see all of the flowers & topiaries, & we got to try some new foods, like candied strawberries (which tasted kind of like strawberries soaked in soy sauce & covered in hard candy) & violet lemonade (which tasted amazing).
Joy of Tea: Halli & I got tea smoothies in the China Pavilion, & we both loved them! Her's was mango green tea I think, & mine was strawberry oolong.
Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe: The troll horn is my favorite pastry at Disney. It's basically a giant, sugar-coated cream puff. We have also tried the sweet pretzels, but they were a bit odd. They were made with pastry dough & had raisins in them, so they weren't what you would expect from a pretzel. Both are available in the Norway Pavilion, & I recommend grabbing an iced coffee to go with your pastry!
La Cantina de San Angel: We got nachos in the Mexico Pavilion as a snack while we were walking.
L'Artisan Des Glaces: Macaron ice cream sandwiches. Oh my goodness. One of my favorite things I have eaten at Disney! So good! Of course, these are in the France Pavilion.
Sommerfest: Currywurst, or bratwrust with curried ketchup, is a snack we've grabbed on a couple of trips while going through the Germany Pavilion. They serve these with paprika chips. We like to grab these for lunch or a more filling snack.
Tangierine Cafe: Laker & I love Mediterranean food, so we usually grab a plate of Morroccan food. They have a platter with lamb, chicken, hummus, tabbouleh, & salad. I also tried baklava for the first time.
Germany Pavilion: We got giant pretzels at one of the stalls in Germany. It wasn't the best pretzel ever & I prefer the Mickey ones, but Mickey-shaped everything seems to taste better!
Pizzafari: We grabbed a quick lunch here. I got pasta, which was good, but simple. One thing I like about Animal Kingdom is that they don't use plastic lids or straws so that the trash can't hurt the animals.
Starring Rolls: We grabbed a Butterfinger cupcake from Starring Rolls, & I would definitely recommend making this stop if you're ever in Hollywood Studios! It was such a good cupcake, & big enough for two to share. (Note: I have read that this location has actually closed, with no word on whether or not it will reopen. So sad.)
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Earl of Sandwich: This is our go-to stop in Disney Springs, yet somehow, I've never managed to get a photo there. They've got great sandwiches, lots of choices for sides & desserts, & Earl Grey lemonade.
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop: We've grabbed iced coffees here a few times, plus the store gives out free chocolate samples. Can't say no to that!
The Daily Poutine: Laker & I had our first poutine during our Christmas 2016 trip. It was not my favorite thing, but not bad either.
Sprinkles Cupcakes: This was my first experience with Sprinkles, but my cupcake wasn't great & it took too long to get it. I would definitely give Sprinkles another chance though! I'm a huge fan of Cupcake Wars, so I want to believe Sprinkles lives up to the hype.
Duff Brewery: The guys grabbed drinks here over our December 2015 trip. I can't vouch for the quality of the drinks, but hanging out in the Simpsons section of the park was fun. Even though I haven't seen much of the show, it was so well-themed, & made you feel like you were in a cartoon!
Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour: I got earl grey & lavender with sticky toffee pudding ice cream, & Laker got strawberry & peanut butter with chocolate chili. The earl grey lavender was probably the best ice cream I've ever had!
Lard Lad Donuts: We got a giant strawberry d'oh-nut from Lard Lad Donuts. It's about the size of 5 regular donuts, & so good!
Leaky Cauldron: The Leaky Cauldron is the main restaurant in Diagon Alley. I usually get the shepherd's pie, & I tried the pumpkin juice last time we were here. I'm not a big fan of the pumpkin juice, so I'll probably stick to butterbeer from now on!
Islands of Adventure.
Butterbeer Kiosk: The kiosks have cold & frozen varieties, & there's also a shop that sells hot butterbeer (the only one I haven't tried yet). Most of my family prefers the frozen kind, but I like the cold version best.
Honeydukes Sweet Shop: This is a fun shop to explore. I've gotten the Sugar Quills, Chocolate Frogs, & Butterbeer Fudge.
Three Broomsticks: This is very similar to the Leaky Cauldron in terms of menu offerings. Again, I usually get shepherd's pie, but my family has gotten the big platters of food to share before.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin: We love riding the Space Ranger Spin! Lines are usually long, so FastPasses are best. I'm convinced the ride somehow picks the least flattering moment to take a photo, but that makes it even more entertaining. The point of the ride is to shoot laser beams at the enemies to defeat Zurg. The first time, I completely destroyed Taryn's score, but Laker beat me on another trip. Either way though, I'm apparently still a Galactic Hero.
Country Bear Jamboree: My family spent a lot of time one evening joking about how weird this show was, but Laker & I had some extra time during a Magic Kingdom day, & it's an original Disney World attraction, so we decided to check it out. We actually had fun with it. People got so into the show, singing along & cheering for the characters. It's definitely a favorite for a lot of people! I can't say that I'll be a frequent visitor, but I'm glad we gave it a chance.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant: Dumbo is one of those rides that you see on TV as a kid & think, "I want to do that someday." & at the age of 26, I finally got to! It's such a simple ride, but I loved getting to fly around on Dumbo with Laker. It's such a classic Disney attraction, & everyone should ride it at least once!
Enchanted Tales with Belle: In this attraction, Belle chooses audience members (usually kids) to participate in helping her tell a story. This was fun for me, because Belle is my favorite, & we also had my little cousins with us, so they got to participate in the story. Throughout the attraction, you get to explore Belle & Maurice's cottage, see Lumiere & Madame de la Grande Bouche (the wardrobe), & take pictures with Belle in her yellow dress afterwards.
Enchanted Tiki Room: 10/10 my least favorite attraction I have done at Disney. Basically, you sit & watch fake parrots in cages talk & sing. As we were leaving, the guy next to us said, "Well, we won't be doing that again." Same.
The Hall of Presidents: A film followed by an animatronic show about the former U.S. presidents. Some people love it. Some people hate it.
Haunted Mansion: This can be a little much for small kids. There's a little "intro" at the beginning that is kind of scary - My little cousins did not like it. But the ride itself is fairly tame, & goes along a track through some spooky scenery.
Holiday Wishes: Disney fireworks are always amazing, but it was awesome to see the Christmas touches they added to the show. Snowflake projections, Christmas tree-shaped pyrotechnics, glittery red & green fireworks. It was a great show!
It's a Small World: It's a Small World is another classic Disney ride that I think everyone should ride at least once. Again, some people love it & some hate it, but I personally think it's beautifully designed. Mary Blair is a Disney artist who did work on some iconic Disney movies & pieces, & she helped design the ride as well. I really enjoyed going through it.
Jungle Cruise: This is a fan favorite for many people, but I didn't really enjoy it. I love puns & cheesiness, but this was too much even for me. So go at your own risk.
Mad Tea Party: Another favorite of ours. I love spinning rides, & Alice in Wonderland, so this is a perfect combination. The ride is just fun to look at as well.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin: This is a fairly easygoing ride, but it's fun to pretend you're on a magic carpet. Or maybe I'm the only one who actually imagines I'm actually doing what the ride intends... Regardless, watch out for the spitting camels nearby.
Magic Kingdom Ferryboat: This isn't necessarily a "ride," so much as a form of transportation, but sometimes it's fun to take the ferryboat into the park instead of the monorail. It is sometimes a bit less crowded & feels less rushed, & it has a pretty view going into Magic Kingdom.
Main Street Electrical Parade: Unfortunately this is no longer at Magic Kingdom, but I really enjoyed this parade when we saw it! It was fun to see so many characters lit up with props from their movies, & some older characters were added in that aren't generally seen in the parks.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: This is a ride-through of the story, & since I love Pooh, I really like this ride.
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade: We saw this parade unintentionally during a December trip (we thought we were seeing the Festival of Fantasy Parade), & I'm so glad we did! There were so many characters, all in festive attire. We also had great seats, so many characters came up close, waved, or even said "happy birthday" to me. We got tons of great photos! This was my favorite parade to date.
Mickey's PhilharMagic: This is Mackenzie's favorite attraction, & it's a cute one. It's a 4D film that features special effects & is somewhat interactive.
Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire: This is a live show that takes place in front of Cinderella's castle. Mickey & Minnie, along with other classic characters, host several princes & princesses for the friendship faire. This is mostly just singing songs from the movies. It was fun to see the characters in costumes they aren't usually out in (my favorite was Tiana in a flapper-style costume) & to see the princes, since most don't usually meet, but we didn't stay for the whole show - it was super crowded.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor: This is a really cute, interactive, live comedy show. The monsters tell jokes & involve audience members in the act. We really enjoyed this one!
Peter Pan's Flight: Peter Pan's Flight is a slow-moving ride that takes you through the story of Peter Pan. I believe a lot of it is blacklight art. Honestly, I missed most of it because it tilts a lot, which triggers my heart condition, so I was leaning forward to try to reverse the trigger. However, this is a very popular ride with long waits unless you have a FastPass, so I assume it's great!
Pirates of the Caribbean: This is a boat ride that takes you through pirate scenes.
Prince Charming's Royal Carrousel: The carrousel is a merry-go-round, with one horse supposedly belonging to Cinderella.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: I have only ridden the Mine Train once, & it was right after it opened, so I don't think all of the kinks were worked out yet. It stopped several times, & we sat, waiting for the ride to start up. Once was on a hill, & we were afraid the tilt would trigger my heart condition. I haven't ridden it since, just to be safe. But my little cousin loved it, & said, "That was the funnest fun I've ever had!"
Stitch's Great Escape!: This is a 4D ride that uses pretty much all of your senses to involve you in Stitch's story. I love this ride, but a lot of people complain that it's gross or hurts their shoulders, & some kids find it scary, so take that into consideration. This ride is also being slowly phased out & replaced - I'm told it will eventually become a Wreck-it Ralph ride.
Sword in the Stone: Near Prince Charming's Carrousel, you can attempt to pull the sword out of the stone. I've never seen it happen, but I'm told that very rarely, someone actually pulls it out. Someday, that "someone" will be me. So far, it has not been.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover: The PeopleMover is a really easygoing ride that can provide a nice rest from the rush of the parks. It takes you through some of the other park attractions, & allows you to people-watch.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid: This ride allows you to sit in a clam shell & go through the story of the Little Mermaid.
Wishes Nighttime Spectacular: Disney fireworks are better than anywhere else in the world, & Magic Kingdom's are the best of any park's. Definitely stay for the fireworks if you have the chance! (Note: Wishes' last show was May 11, 2017.)
Frozen Ever After: We were lucky enough to get FastPasses to this ride shortly after it opened - Others were waiting hours to ride! The ride follows the old Matterhorn track, but we had never ridden that before, so it was new to us. It's a boat ride through the Frozen story, but speeds up in places & even goes backwards in parts. The animatronics & projections are absolutely incredible. We were so impressed!
Gran Fiesta Tour: This is another boat ride, but it is slow & easygoing. It's in the Mexico Pavilion, & I found it to be a little odd. The Three Caballeros take you through different Mexican scenes, but it varies greatly - you'll see a film of a Mexican restaurant, followed by an "It's a Small World"-style scene, followed by animatronics. It's all very random.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth: This is the Epcot fireworks show, which we have also seen with the holiday ending. It takes place over the water, & is very pretty, but definitely my least favorite of the three current firework shows in Disney World.
Impressions de France: This video is kind of a promotion video about all that France has to offer. It's a good way to sit & enjoy the air conditioning as well.
Living with the Land: Laker & I went on this ride together & found it to be pretty interesting. It's a slow boat ride through Epcot's gardens, which are used to grow some of the produce used in the restaurants around the park. Disney has come up with some new processes of farming that are discussed as well.
O Canada!: This video about Canada is narrated by Martin Short. I have nothing against Martin Short, but the video was painfully bad, & probably worse because we mostly just went to have an excuse to sit down - but there were no chairs. It's a "360" video, so the video was projected on the walls all around us, but that meant we had to stand in order to be able to turn around efficiently. Maybe it's not so bad if you're not so exhausted.
Pick-a-Pearl: In the Japan Pavilion, there's a little shop where you can choose a clam, & they will open it up for you & you can keep the pearl. This all costs money, of course, & there are also jewelry settings available for purchase to put your pearl inside. Halli & I purchased pearls during our Christmas 2015 trip, although I opted to buy a necklace setting off of eBay before our trip!
Sea Base: Epcot has aquariums that can be explored, with all kinds of animals to see. We also enjoyed finding some hidden Mickeys!
The Seas with Nemo & Friends: This ride lets you sit in a clam & go through the story of Nemo & his friends.
Soarin': This is probably our favorite ride in all of Disney World. We rode it once when it was just based around California, & once now that is has been redone to fly around the world. It is such a relaxing, beautiful, yet adventurous ride!
Spaceship Earth: This ride is inside the Epcot ball. It is slow moving, heavily tilted, & takes you through the history of communication.
Turtle Talk with Crush: This is an interactive session with Crush from Finding Nemo. Similar to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, the character is able to interact with the audience to put on his show. However, I feel this experience is more geared toward kids, where the laugh floor is enjoyable for all ages.
Festival of the Lion King: This is a live show with dancers, singers, & even acrobats. Shows fill up fast in busy seasons, so get there early!
It's Tough to be a Bug!: A lot of people hate this attraction, but I thought it was fun! You enter through the ant hill, which is cute, & then put on these bug goggles that made me feel like Edna Mode. The show is 4D, so you watch the show while experiencing things with your other senses as well. Keep in mind, the show is about bugs, so that could bother some people!
Kilimanjaro Safaris: This is a very popular attraction, so FastPass is recommended. I think our driver might have been new because we could never tell if she was joking or serious, but it was still fun to see the animals & learn some new things.
Rafiki's Planet Watch: After taking the train to the island, you can meet Rafiki, learn about conservation efforts, see the vet station, & even meet some of the scientists & animals at Animal Kingdom.
Street Performers: One of the best parts of Animal Kingdom is that there are always street performers somewhere, & they're almost always really enjoyable! I love the different musical & dancing acts we've seen, just while we were walking through the parks.
Tree of Life: This might not seem like an attraction to some, but it is an iconic part of the park! I love seeing the tree for the first time each time we arrive.
TriceraTop Spin: This is very similar to the Dumbo ride, but with dinosaurs.
Wildlife Express Train: This is the train to get to Rafiki's Planet Watch.
Beauty & the Beast - Live on Stage: This was the first live show we ever attended at Hollywood Studios. I enjoyed it because it is my favorite Disney story, & it was fun seeing it played out with just the highlights! We saw the show on New Year's Day, so they also had a little New Year's cake character added into one of the dance numbers.
Fantasmic!: I loved seeing Fantasmic! This is the nighttime show at Hollywood Studios, before the fireworks. There are so many characters & awesome effects, & I definitely recommend it to those who are hardcore Disney fans.
Great Movie Ride: This is a slow ride through various iconic movie scenes, with a couple of different options for tracks you can be sent through. We were on the mobster track, & it was fun to have our cart hijacked! It's definitely cheesy, but I had fun with it!
March of the First Order: This is a street performance with the storm troopers & Phasma, & it was so so so cool. There are usually one or two storm troopers out patrolling the streets, but this show had so many, & seeing Phasma was really neat. It also had a dark tone to the show that you don't get many places in Disney.
Muppet*Vision 3D: This is a 3D Muppet show, in case you hadn't guessed from the name. The entry area has a lot of fun nods to the Muppets, & it's a quick, fun show to watch.
One Man's Dream: This is a mini Disney museum within the park. It doesn't take long to walk through, but there are a lot of cool things to see inside, like some Musketeer memorabilia.
Star Tours - The Adventures Continue: This is another one of those rides that I missed a lot of because my heart couldn't handle it. There are a few different "paths" your ride can take, so I'm told it's worth riding multiple times for the various experiences. Ours was very bumpy & jolted us around a lot. I don't really remember what all happened. It's a family favorite, though, so I would recommend it based on their experience!
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular: The Star Wars fireworks show in Hollywood Studios was so impressive. I don't understand how Disney is able to make fireworks look like planets & galaxies, but it's so pretty & amazing. Adding Star Wars music just made it even better!
Star Wars Launch Bay: The Launch Bay is so fun to explore! You can meet Kylo Ren & Chewie, trade with Jawas, & see tons of Star Wars memorabilia. I love this area of Hollywood Studios.
Toy Story Midway Mania: This is definitely one of the most popular rides in the park, so get there for rope drop or grab a FastPass! The line area is filled with giant toys, so you feel like you're toy-sized too (the blurry photo was taken as we ran through rope drop). The ride itself is so fun - You get to play carnival-style games, like darts & ring toss, led by characters from Toy Story. We loved it!
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: Laker & I did the "stationary seating" version of this ride, so our experience was a little different than the rest of my family's. The ride is a 4-D trip with Gru, the girls, & the minions. In the stationary seating, you basically watch a 3-D movie of their schemes. The regular ride moves a lot more, & gave some people a "seasick" feeling, so it's not for those who don't have tough stomachs! Afterwards, you exit into a dance party area with screens overhead. At certain times, there is also a minion in the dance party area that you can meet!
Gringotts Dragon: Every 15 minutes or so, the dragon on top of Gringotts breathes fire. This is really cool to see, & you can feel the heat from the fire throughout Diagon Alley!
Harry Potter & the Escape from Gringotts: This is definitely the coolest ride I have ever ridden, but it was also extremely tough on my heart, & so it was a one-time thing for me. The line takes you through Gringotts, where you see bank vaults, issues of the Daily Prophet, & even goblins. The ride itself is just amazing - it is a ride-through version of Harry, Hermione, & Ron's escape from Gringotts in the book/movie, but told from a different point of view. The special effects are incredible. You truly feel like you're facing evil villains!
Hogwarts Express: I am only listing this once, but you can ride the Hogwarts Express from the Universal Studios side to the Islands of Adventure side & vice versa, & the ride is different going either way. It's a fun experience, with details added in from the films & books. Be sure to watch the doors & windows to see different characters & scenes! Also, going through Kings Cross Station, you get to go through Platform 9 & 3/4, which is magical & emotional & amazing.
Kang & Kudos' Twirl 'n' Hurl: This is a fairly easygoing, spinning ride in the Simpsons area of the park. Even if you aren't familiar with the show, they do a good job of filling you in - screens above the ride play clips from the episode the ride was inspired by. In the Simpsons photo, it's the tentacled alien ride on the far right.
Terminator 2: 3-D: This is another cheesy attraction, but I don't mind cheesy. A mix of film, special effects, & live actors, the show allows you to see some of the stunts used in these films & feel the action taking place around you. In the gift shop outside, you can also see some of Arnold Schwarzenegger's costumes from the films.
Islands of Adventure.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man: This was another ride that messed with my heart, mostly because there were a lot of tilts & jolts. It's a 3-D ride that allows you to swing through skyscrapers with other Marvel heroes.
Caro-Seuss-el: This is a typical merry-go-round, filled with not-so-typical animals. The characters are all from Dr. Seuss, which makes it a bit more colorful & fun than other carousels!
The Cat in the Hat: This is a ride-through of the story of The Cat in the Hat. The first time we rode this, it was almost painfully jerky, but they seem to have smoothed things out, which makes the ride much more enjoyable!
Flight of the Hippogriff: Flight of the Hippogriff is a small rollercoaster (as in, small enough that I can actually ride it!) set near Hagrid's hut, with Buckbeak watching nearby. Lines for this are usually a bit shorter than the lines for the other rides in Hogsmeade!
Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey (Queue only): I am told the Forbidden Journey is one of the best rides (if not the very best ride) in Universal Studios. It's supposed to be similar to the Gringotts ride, but a bit more adventurous. The line itself is fantastic, & takes you through Hogwarts castle. You get to see the greenhouses, Dumbledore's office, talking portraits, & so many details. It's truly amazing how the Universal Studios crew captured so many details from the books & films & brought them to life. Even if you don't plan to ride, you should walk through the line. It's definitely worth seeing!
The High in the Sky Trolley Train Ride!: This is a cute, easygoing ride that takes you around & above the Dr. Seuss section of the park. You get to see different scenes from Dr. Seuss books, & also go over Seuss Landing, which provides a fun view.
Ollivander's Wand Selection: It's always fun to go into Ollivander's & watch the demonstration where a wand chooses a wizard. On our last trip, Halli & I were lucky enough to be the chosen wizards! We got to try our hands at magic, & found the perfect wands.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: This is another cute ride in the Dr. Suess section. It's similar to the Dumbo ride at Disney, but you get sprayed with water during the ride! I rode this with Taryn & Kamiya, & Kamiya had the best time!
Laker & I went to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for our honeymoon in June 2012. We stayed in a treehouse cabin, explored the town, & did lots of shopping & eating (a common travel theme for us, you'll notice below). A few popular landmarks we visited were the Thorncrown Chapel, the Razorback Observation Tower, & the Christ of the Ozarks statue. We also visited Eureka's famous working bunnies! The bunnies take your money & even hand you your change & package. This trip began our travel magnet collection - We bought something specifically to see the bunny working (this one's name was Snoopy!). Before we left, we got our ring tattoos. Laker's is in my handwriting, & mine is in his handwriting.
We went back to Eureka in June 2017 to celebrate Mackenzie & Ben's wedding. Highlights included our gorgeous balcony view, a fantastic train ride lunch through the mountains for Mackenzie's bachelorette party, exploring Onyx Cave, & their beautiful wedding at Thorncrown Chapel!
During our road trip to Boston, my family made a stop in Canada to see Niagara Falls. I was fairly young, but one thing I remember is seeing all of the candy bars. They had several that we didn't have in the U.S., & even some of the ones we did have had different wrappers. Also, the speed limit & distance signs listed both miles & kilometers! This was so long ago that you didn't need a passport to cross the border - just a birth certificate.
My family went to Colorado the summer after I finished 4th grade, I believe. We stayed in the Estes Park area. We did some hiking, & I remember seeing elk everywhere. Even though it was the middle of summer, there was still snow on the mountains. I thought it was the prettiest place I had ever been! (Also, check out my super cool shoes.)
Florida is one of my favorite places in the world! I have had so many (cheesy as it sounds) magical experiences there, & I always find myself dreading the return home.
The first photo is actually on one of our flights to Florida. Our pilot was retiring, & we were on his last flight ever! There were several firetrucks waiting on the ground to spray the plane as a "salute" to the pilot. The co-pilot said he'd only seen the salute twice in his entire career, so we were lucky to witness it!
The second photo is one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've ever seen in my life. It was during one of our trips, on the last night we were there for the week, & just behind the house we were staying in. It truly makes you thankful for everything God has created.
This section also has several beach photos, & photos of exploration of Orlando & my friend Colleen's hometown area. There are so many fun things to do in Florida!
I feel like Disney World needs its own category, because it really is a place of its own. I have met characters I'd only seen in movies, visited places I never thought I'd see in real life, been on rides I saw on TV as a child, eaten foods from around the world, met people from across the planet, seen the best lighting & fireworks shows the world has to offer, all while experiencing what is honestly some of the best, most genuine customer service available. Disney really knows how to make someone's day! When you walk into a park with a birthday button dressed as Snow White at 25 years old & aren't given weird looks, but instead are greeted with "Happy birthday, Snow White!" & "Have a magical day, princess!" it helps you to welcome in a magical, childlike experience & explore everything they have to offer!
Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) is another awesome area Disney has created. Filled with fantastic shopping areas, lots of entertainment, & the best Lego Store you'll ever see, we've spent hours looking around this mini Disney town!
The Disney Resorts... These are the nicest hotels I have ever been in! I have only been to four so far, but each one was so elaborately themed. There are gorgeous decorations (even more for holidays), fun character experiences, fantastic restaurants, & so many things to do. I can't wait to explore all of the rest of the Disney resorts!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is also such a magical (there's that word again) experience. Islands of Adventure has Hogsmeade, & Universal Studios has Diagon Alley. These pictures aren't in any real order, but the first two rows are Hogsmeade & the rest are Diagon Alley.
In Hogsmeade, you can explore Hogwarts, get sweets at Honeydukes, see Hagrid's Hut, eat at the Three Broomsticks, & much more.
There is also a large supply of Butterbeer (frozen, regular, & even hot) on both sides of the parks. You can ride the Hogwarts Express between the two sides, & the ride is different each way.
In Diagon Alley, you can try on robes at Madam Malkin's, explore the shops, sit on Sirius's motorcycle, go through Gringott's, buy jokes at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, eat THE ACTUAL BEST ICE CREAM at Florean Fortescue's, & have a meal at the Leaky Cauldron. You can also venture into Knockturn Alley, & explore London, where you'll see King's Cross (& go through Platform 9 & 3/4!), meet the Knight Bus conductor & the shrunken head, & see Kreacher at Sirius Black's house.
Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure have lots of fun things to offer as well. Seuss Landing is one of my favorite sections, since I always loved Dr. Seuss as a kid. I also enjoyed seeing some of the movie props, & the Shrek character meet is one of my favorites to date! The Simpsons area was pretty neat too, & we got a giant d'oh-nut (that's the size of 4-5 regular donuts, for reference!).
We went to Destin in July 2016 with all of my extended in-laws. We spent a week on the beach, hanging out with family, relaxing in the sun, & exploring the area. We tried tons of local food & had a really great time!
We made a quick stop at Panama City Beach during our Christmas 2016 trip to Orlando. We had gorgeous weather, & I got to take Mackenzie & Ben's engagement pictures while we were there.
Both of my visits to Atlanta were very brief. The first time, my family stopped through during Kiefer's senior trip. I just remember touring the CNN building, getting a photo with the sign, & then getting yelled at by security because we weren't supposed to be that close to it.
The second time, Laker, Alex, Halli, & I stopped at the Marriott Marquis in December 2015 on the way to Florida. That particular hotel is where several scenes from the Hunger Games movies were filmed, so we had fun exploring!
My family visited Chicago when I was in middle school. I remember going to the field museum & seeing Sue, the biggest T-Rex ever found (& thinking it wasn't as big as I expected - although, my mom pointed out, I wouldn't want it running after me). There are a few photos from our boat ride on Navy Pier. Notice my sisters' American Girl Store t-shirts ;) There is also a photo from the Cubs vs. Cardinals game we went to. We saw Sammy Sosa (that's him in the photo). I actually read Harry Potter the whole time, so it wasn't really my thing.
Laker & I went to Wichita for our third wedding anniversary in June 2015. I've been to Wichita a million times growing up because it's only an hour & a half away, but it was always just to run errands & things, so this was a fun trip because I actually got to explore the city. We started out by going to Keeper of the Plains, which is a park that houses a Native American statue, outdoor museum, & garden area. At night, the statue lights up with fire, & it's really pretty! The next day we explored downtown & the Botanica Gardens. I also made Laker stop at a travel area on the way home to get maps for my scrapbook, & we found this little Wizard of Oz tribute.
We went back to Wichita for our 4th anniversary to participate in LanternFest. The lanterns were much harder to get up in the air than we expected, but once they were up, it was gorgeous to see! They also played "I See the Light" from Tangled while we set off the lanterns, which was fantastic.
We visited Acadia National Park during our trip to Boston, which was absolutely beautiful!
My family went to the Boston area when I was in middle school. I don't remember much except for walking the Freedom Trail, seeing the Cheers bar, Plymouth Rock was more like Plymouth Pebble, & the beach had rocks instead of sand (which was crazy to me).
I've been to Mississippi a few times to see family. I'm sure my mom has photos somewhere, but I don't have any on my computer! We mostly played outside & spent time with family.
Springfield, Missouri is one of our all-time favorite places. We love all of the local businesses, & the whole downtown area in general. They have the best food, too! I don't think we've ever eaten anything bad there! I think it's also the only place where I've ever seen every fall color on one tree at the same time. Plus there's an arcade where you can play unlimited vintage games for $5. It doesn't get much better. We have gone here several times & plan to go many more.
We spent Fall Break 2016 in Kansas City. We visited Disney's childhood home & first studio, went to the World War I Museum & Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, ate tons of food, went to the Sea Life Aquarium & Hallmark Visitor Center, added a love lock to the Red Bridge, & much more.
My family went to Oregon the summer after I was in 9th grade. This is one of the prettiest places I've ever been. We saw the beach for the first time here, I think. Or maybe we'd seen Boston's beach, but I didn't count that at the time because of the rocks/lack of sand. Anyway, Crater Lake has the bluest water I've ever seen. It's almost unreal. I'd love to go back.
South Carolina has one of the prettiest beaches I've ever been to. It was warm outside, the water wasn't freezing, & it wasn't insanely crowded. We went boogie boarding, & also got to witness a gorgeous sunset. This was part of my senior trip, so my friend Maegan was with us.
My family went to Memphis, Tennessee several times as I was growing up to see family. These photos are all from my senior road trip, though. We visited the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. We saw the grounds of Graceland, Elvis's home. We also walked down Beale Street & had the best food!
Laker & I have spent several weekends in Dallas. We've explored the Arts District, gone to Medieval Times, been to the farmer's market, seen the Dallas World Aquarium, & much more. Our favorite Dallas restaurant is the Meddlesome Moth, which is a gastropub in the design district, & our favorite place we've stayed in is Hotel Nylo, a modern, green hotel in Las Colinas (it's the last photo, with the floating square couches).
We also made a trip to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas with my in-laws. We ate at the second largest restaurant in Texas (it holds about 1,000 people, if I remember right!) & stopped at the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, where I got to try my hand at being a weather girl.
My family has spent several weeks in the Galveston area. We used to go to this area almost every Spring Break it seems like, either to Surfside Beach or Crystal Beach. The first photo is from one of my high school trips, & the last several photos are from the most recent trip we took, which was during my sophomore year of college. Laker & I had just started dating a few months before.
During part of my senior trip, we went to Mount Vernon & saw George Washington's former home (insert Hamilton lyrics). This guide hit on us in old English, which Maegan & I found very entertaining (& my dad did not). I also remember taking a boat during part of the tour, & it was so windy, we couldn't see anything the whole time because our hair was in our faces. But the walking part of the tour was pretty interesting!
My family saw Mt. Saint Helens in Washington. My mom told me it was an active volcano, so I was expecting boiling hot lava pouring everywhere. Looking back, I'm not sure why my mom would have taken me somewhere like that. This wasn't quite as eventful as I imagined, but still very pretty!
My family has been to D.C. twice, & I still feel like there is so much I haven't seen! We toured the White House, went to Arlington National Cemetery & saw JFK's Eternal Flame & the Changing of the Guard, & went to several Smithsonian Museums & saw lots of famous props & artifacts. We went to Ford's Theatre & saw where Lincoln was shot, & where he died across the street. We learned about sit-ins & the Civil Rights Movement, visited several monuments & landmarks, & saw the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, & Van Gogh & Rembrandt's self portraits. That's only a fraction of the things we saw, & there were still several museums & monuments we didn't get to go to. It's such an amazing city!
My family is one of the most important things in my life. I come from a big family, & am blessed that my family members are also some of my closest friends. Then a few years ago, I married Laker, & his family also became my family. I am so thankful to have each of these people in my life!
I started dating Laker in November 2010. We are both the quiet, stay-at-home type of people who enjoy nerdy things like Lord of the Rings & Pokemon, so we hit it off quickly. On Valentine's Day in 2012, he proposed, & in June of that year, we were married. Laker has done more for me than I can ever explain. He is my best friend, & is the first person I go to in good times or bad. He has been there for me through so much that no one our age should have to experience. He is an amazing example of a husband who embodies his wedding vows & takes "in sickness & in health" to heart. He always takes care of me without complaining through all of my various illnesses & struggles, but is also ready for anything on my good days. We love to travel & always have a trip or two planned, & we also love spending time nearby in the OKC area, hanging out in his hometown in Duncan, & exploring what else Oklahoma has to offer. Laker is truly my best friend. We can be goofy together, I can tell him anything, & our personalities fit so well together. We can have the best time going out & trying something new, or just sitting on opposite ends of the couch reading books. I know that God made each of us with the other in mind.
My dad is the best example of Godly fatherhood that I could ask for. He is compassionate, thoughtful, & always putting others first. He has had his share of struggles, but always strives to have a good attitude & keep his focus on God. I try to follow my dad's example in his outlook on life. No matter what is going wrong in his own life, he always seems to be looking for ways he can help someone else, & never seems to be too down on himself. My dad is also incredibly funny, & will do just about anything to make someone laugh.
My mom is another role model of mine. She is always doing so many things, I'm not sure how she balances it all, yet she does everything well. My mom is the smartest person I have ever met. She is also one of the biggest nerds I have ever met (I say that in a loving way!). I credit her for passing that nerdiness down to me. We can talk for hours about Star Wars or spend an embarrassingly long time picking out the perfect planners at Barnes & Noble. My mom is also very crafty, witty, loving, & wise. I honestly believe there isn't anything she can't do.
My big brother is the greatest. Since he is only a year & two weeks older than me, we were always close growing up - sometimes even getting asked if we were twins. As kids, we played Batman & rode our bikes everywhere. When we got to high school, he was nice enough to let his little sister tag along with him & his friends. When I got to college, I got a phone call saying he accepted Christ, & got to talk with him after his decision! Now that we're adults, I see all of the qualities he's always had, & can appreciate them more fully. My brother is such a generous person. He loves to give gifts, often for no reason, & they're always amazingly thoughtful. He loves to help people, even strangers. He is incredibly gifted with music & technology. He knows how to make people feel appreciated, & he is one of my favorite people in the world.
My little twin. Although I guess I can't call her that anymore because she's taller than me now. Ever since she was born, I was SO excited to have Mackenzie around, as you can see in the last photo! I used to always want a big sister, so Mackenzie was my chance to BE the big sister I always wanted. I still try to live up to that & be the best I can be for her (& for Taryn!). Mackenzie doesn't really need an example, though. She is such a strong - & often headstrong - person, who is so driven, smart, & passionate. She sets goals & doesn't stop until she gets them - like becoming Concert Mistress in her high school's orchestra two years in a row, graduating in the top 10 in her high school class, & then being accepted to the Disney College Program. She knows there's nothing she can't do, & we all know that too! She is also such a beautiful, funny, sassy person, & so talented - musically & in other areas. She's going to be great in everything she does.
Taryn & I have gotten a lot closer in the past few years, & I am really enjoying all of the time we spend together. She is one of those people who is good at just about everything. She played a bunch of sports when she was younger & was good at all of them. But then she quit those to focus on music & became chorale President & first chair of the cellists in orchestra during high school. In her first semester of college, she has earned solos, a starring role in a musical, & was nominated as a homecoming queen candidate to represent the band! & she's also amazing at hair, makeup, crafts, & pretty much anything else she touches. You'd think with all of that talent, she'd be really prideful or full of herself, but instead, she is one of the goofiest people around. She's so funny, & will do anything for a laugh, without a care as to what she looks like or who's watching. She has become such a beautiful, mature person, & I can't wait to see where God leads her next.
I could not have asked to marry into a better family! I am so thankful that Laker was also raised in a Christian home. Paul & Sybil are great parents-in-law. Paul is always making me woodworking projects in his shop, & we love spending time with him during our visits. Sybil is enjoying finally having some girls in the family! We've had so much fun shopping, seeing ballets, & planning get-togethers for everyone. Alex is my first (& only!) little brother! It's fun to pick on him (although he returns the favor!) & get to know the person Laker grew up with. & we're so glad Halli has joined the family! She has become one of my best friends. She is so sweet & crafty, & I've loved all of our double dates & girl dates, as well as getting to know her family!
Ben is the newest member of the family! At least officially. He has felt like a part of the family for years, & it was so awesome to see him marry Mackenzie. Ben is so sweet & smart & challenges Mackenzie in the best way. I couldn't have picked a better match for her!
Last, but not least, our pups! Lily joined the family in April of 2014. We went to the pet store for fish food & I saw her & convinced Laker that we had to get her. We thought she was going to be a 35-pound Boston terrier mix, but she's most likely closer to a 50-pound Pitt mix. We love her anyway though! She has such a personality & is so smart. She knows a whole list of commands, knows when I'm taking photos & only gets in them when she wants to (she hates family photos), loves car rides (& people & other dogs & sticks & everything really), & still thinks she's a lap dog even though she's half my size.
Padfoot is a whole different kind of pup. He is much more timid & shy, & is much more emotional. But he is such a sweet little boy, & he loves to cuddle & be babied. Once again, we were fooled - our 80-to-100-pound German shepherd mix somehow grew up to be a 22-pound German shepherd(?) mix, but we love him so much. He loves to hunt & jump & climb (things he's not supposed to), but he also loves to lay around & crawl under the covers & cuddle. Mostly cuddle. Also, we took him to the Medieval Fair last year & everyone loved him. People kept stopping to pet him & play with him. He didn't mind it at first, but after a while, he was over it (see the leash photo below).
I made a Bucket List when I was 18, during my first year of college. Every once in a while, I take a look at it. It's fun to see what all I have accomplished, & what I no longer care to do. I update it as years go by, & post my progress here. Here is the current list, but it may change later on! My only rule is that I will never add something I know I am getting ready to do. I only post things that are wishes for the future!
1. Drive a racecar (We’ll have to see how my heart condition changes as I get older).
2. Build an igloo. A real one that you can go inside.
3. Ride a mechanical bull.
4. Celebrate my 50th anniversary.
5. Find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
6. Sing in public.
7. Ride in a hot air balloon.
8. Kiss underwater.
9. Give blood.
10. Put together a 500-piece puzzle by myself.
11. Pet a buffalo.
12. Find a career I love.
13. Be a groomsman in a wedding.
14. Design & make a dress.
15. Swim with manatees.
16. Learn NSync’s “Bye Bye Bye” Dance.
17. Get my Master's degree.
18. Learn the cello solo from “Un Giorno Per Noi" by Josh Groban.
19. Learn how to ski.
20. Learn how to snowboard.
21. Learn how to surf.
22. Go to Comic-Con.
23. Go to Disneyland.
24. Live in Europe.
25. See Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in person.
26. Go to LA.
27. Visit Ireland.
28. Go to New Zealand.
29. Take a random trip on the first flight out.
30. Eat gelato in Italy.
31. Go to New York City.
32. Go to Africa.
33. Rock climb in Colorado.
34. Go to Santorini Island, Greece.
35. Go on a cruise.
36. Go to Alaska.
37. Take a picture with the Sydney sign in Australia.
38. Try Vegemite in Australia.
39. Go to Spain.
40. Take a picture on Abbey Road like the Beatles did.
41. Go to India.
42. Go to Mexico.
43. Go to Neal’s Yard, London.
44. See the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
45. Go to Japan.
46. Go to Germany.
47. Go to France.
48. Go to Guatemala.
49. Go to Honduras.
50. See Matt Corby live.
51. Go to a Paul McCartney concert.
52. See Death Cab for Cutie live.
53. Go to the Kansas City library. Completed: October 21, 2016.
54. Visit all 4 Disney World parks. Completed: March 16, 2016 (The pictures show my first time visiting each park).
55. Pet a tiger. Completed: March 18, 2014
56. Read Pride & Prejudice. Completed: Summer 2014
57. Meet Belle at Disney Land and/or Disney World. Completed: July 11, 2014
58. Dress up as Beauty & the Beast. Completed: February 14, 2014
59. See the Beauty & the Beast Broadway musical. Completed: February 14, 2014 (see above)
60. Read the 7th Harry Potter book. Completed: January 15, 2014
61. Dress up like a flapper. Completed: October 9, 2009 (Thanks to my little sister Mackenzie for letting me borrow her costume!)
62. Have my fortune told. Completed: October 23, 2009 (The first time was by a girl dressed as a fortune teller at a Halloween party so I wasn’t sure if I should count it, but then Victoria’s Secret hired a palm reader for one of our events - super weird - so I got another chance.)
63. Get a bowling score of 100 or more. Completed: November 27, 2009 (I feel like I should thank Ethan Parrish, because he kept scaring me & somehow that improved my score.)
64. Go to a masquerade. Completed: December 3, 2009
65. Watch a 3-D movie. Completed: December 19, 2009 (My first one was Avatar.)
66. Make gingerbread men & a gingerbread house. Completed: December 20 (house - Thanks Britny Cranford & Amanda Armendarez) & December 24 (men), 2009 (& yes, I did make a Pikachu & a Ninja Turtle.)
67. Make a sleeve of temporary tattoos. Completed: January 1, 2010 (Thanks Britny Cranford & Amanda Armendarez!)
68. Try a Burger King taco. Completed: January 2, 2010 (I do NOT recommend them.)
79. Finish a WHOLE scrapbook. I always start them, but never finish. Completed: January 9, 2010 (Thanks Brooke Makeever!)
70. Learn how to tie a tie. Completed: January 9, 2010 (Thanks to Rob, even though I’m not sure I still remember how.)
71. Pierce my cartilage. Completed: January 10, 2010 (I had 2 at one point.)
72. Have over 100 followers on Twitter. Completed: January 14, 2010
73. Find a street sign with my name on it (first, middle, or last). Completed: March 25, 2010 (That’s my old last name.)
74. Tag the spillway. Completed: April 11, 2010
75. Put a random streak of color in my hair. Completed: April 25, 2010 (The first time was purple, & I don’t have any good pictures of it. Thanks mom!)
76. Have a caricature drawn of me. Completed: July 4, 2010 (Thanks to Tim Kelly!)
77. Have someone randomly get me my favorite flowers. (red roses & lilies) Completed: July 15, 2010 (Thanks again to Tim Kelly!)
78. Try space food. Completed: July 17, 2010 (Thanks again to Tim Kelly!)
79. Learn to skateboard &/or longboard. Completed: July 25, 2010 (Thanks Kacie Jo Soulsby!)
80. Take pictures with at least 20 different buffalo statues. Completed: July 28, 2010 (Thanks Maegan Boyer, Regan Jeric, Krissy Ritchie, Jenny Bergeron, Miranda Krug, Matt Demers, Ian Harris, Nic Muzyka, Blake Burrough, Cale Freeman, Steve Clark, Rebecca Hilton, Vincent Green, & anyone else I might be forgetting!)
81. Ride on a motorcycle. Completed: August 14, 2010 (Thanks Thomas Schaffer! & to Rebecca Hilton for setting it up! So sad that I don’t have any pictures from my times riding on a motorcycle!)
82. Fly a kite. Completed: August 23, 2010 (Thanks Rebecca Hilton!)
83. Kiss underneath mistletoe. Completed: December 29, 2010 (Thanks Laker!)
84. Kiss in the rain. Completed: ???
85. Spiderman kiss. Completed: ???
86. Get kissed at midnight on New Year’s. Completed: January 1, 2011
87. Make a bear at the Build-a-Bear Workshop. Completed: January 4, 2011
88. Get a tattoo. Completed: March 2011 (This is my first one.)
89. See Manchester Orchestra live. Completed: August 26, 2011 (Thanks Brandon Silver & AJ Garcia! Somehow we ended up front row in the VIP Section.)
90. Take pictures at a wedding. Completed: I shot a vow renewal August 29, 2011, but my first official wedding was May 26, 2012, so we’ll go with that. (Thanks Val & Jeremy Lancaster!)
91. Get married. Completed: June 3, 2012 (Thanks Laker. haha)
92. Eat a caramel apple. Completed: September 2012
93. Have someone surprise me with flowers for no reason. Completed: January 28, 2012. (Someone sent me these anonymously my junior year of college when I was going through a tough time. So thank you, anonymous friend!)
94. Learn to ice skate. Completed: December 18, 2012 (Thanks Laker!)
95. Try crème brulee. Completed: June 16, 2013 (Thanks Paul!)
96. Paint a real painting. Completed: ??? I don’t remember when this was, but it was my first painting.
97. Make that ringing noise with crystal glasses. Completed: ???? I have no idea when this was. (Thanks Laker!)
98. Make cheesecake. Completed: ???? The first time was mini cheesecakes.
99. Watch a sunrise. Completed: ???? I have no idea but I’ve seen a million now. (I have to say thanks to Earl Moreno, Jenny Bergeron, & Tyler Thomas... They once stayed up the entire night to drive out to the lake & watch my first sunrise with me, only to have the whole thing ruined by cloud cover. We still had fun though!)
100. Watch the Wicked Broadway musical. Completed: September 15, 2013 (Thanks to Heather for going with me!)
If you want to read our proposal story, click here.
Scroll over photos for more detailed captions, & click to see full images!
We were blessed with four wedding showers, each of which was a bit different, & represented different parts of our lives. We got married before Pinterest had become a really big deal, so most of these ideas show how creative & talented the people in my life are!
My hometown shower was hosted by a group of ladies from my old church, Northeast Baptist. I had known most of these ladies my whole life, & I loved having them involved in this special time in my life! The decorations & food were so cute. I loved that everything matched our wedding theme, & that the flowers were in a pitcher that I could re-use in our future home.
My personal Shower/Lingerie Party was hosted by my bridesmaids, Kathryn & Hannah. This was held in Edmond, near the area of Oklahoma City we were moving to when we got married. The shower was at Kathryn's house, which she had set up in the cutest way! She had a little tea party with snacks & decorations. After the shower, we all went thrifting, then got desserts at Upper Crust.
We had an entertainment shower, hosted by a dear family friend in Shawnee, where we were living in at the time. This shower was fun - all of the gifts were for Laker’s & my “entertainment,” so we got everything from cookware to lingerie! Our friend Lisa was the hostess, & most of the guests were people from our church at the time, Frontline.
Our shower at Laker’s hometown church in Duncan was hosted by Sybil’s best friends. I loved the cake at this one! I was nervous going to this shower because I didn't really know anyone in Duncan, so I was afraid no one would show up, but lots of people came to support the Greenwoods inviting a new member into the family. It was nice to feel so welcomed!
Our rehearsal dinner was the greatest. It was held at the shelter houses at Lake Ponca. Sybil planned just about everything, & put together a bunch of adorable DIY projects with the rest of my in-laws. She wanted it to have a relaxed feel, since wedding planning had been so busy & hectic. She based the decorations around our wedding colors & my love for owls. I had input on the food (BBQ buffet from Head Country - a local restaurant, & a s'mores bar), but the rest was a surprise to me. I loved it! She added tons of personal touches: People wrote name tags so everyone knew how we were connected - Although some people got carried away with these. Alex wrote "future brother-in-law of the bride," & Blake wrote "future Kramer of the bride & groom." People were able to write us notes that we took with us to read after the wedding, too. Paul also built the cute birdhouse & tree branch centerpieces in the little wooden boxes. It was so nice!
I married my favorite person in the world on June 3, 2012. We were married at the Marland Mansion in my hometown of Ponca City.
We had a gorgeous wedding with lots of personal touches, thanks to DIY & the wonderful talents of friends & family. Thank you to everyone who made this so much more special for us!
All photo credit goes to my dear friends Brandon of Wander.Love.Media & Kevin of Kevin C Photography. Most of these photos are theirs, although there are a handful of phone photos thrown in.
My wedding shoes & ring are pictured below. Fun fact: The shoes did not really match anything in the wedding. But I thought they were fantastic, & my dress couldn’t be hemmed so I needed 4 & ½" heels, so I got them anyway. That’s why I look so tall in all these photos! They made me about 5'9". All of our guests who hadn’t seen me in a while said, “You’ve gotten so tall!” during the receiving line, but once we got to the reception & I kicked the darn things off, everyone realized I was a fraud.
My ring is a black diamond surrounded by white diamonds & set in white gold. Laker's is a black Tungsten version of the One Ring from Lord of the Rings. I opted not to get a wedding band because the engagement ring had a double band, & we had plans to get ring tattoos on our honeymoon.
We had a peacock wedding, with the main colors being turquoise, green, & purple. We kept the decorations pretty simple, since the venue was already so beautiful.
I'm so thankful that my bridesmaids were so relaxed & made our wedding day a fun experience instead of a stressful one! Everything was really laid back, & we enjoyed ourselves. I can't vouch for the boys, but judging from their photos, I'd say they were pretty relaxed throughout the day, too!
My mom “helping me with my veil.” The hairdresser actually put it on so this photo is totally posed, but I still love it. Hair & make-up were done by wonderful family friends. My hairdresser, Kathy, has done my hair for nearly every formal event since my 8th grade winter dance. My wedding hair was better than I could've imagined! & the bridesmaids' hairstyles were amazing too. I gave very little instruction, but she still somehow got everything perfect. My make-up artist, Caitlin, was a former co-worker at Hot Topic who had done my hair & make-up for several other occasions, from fancy events to Halloween parties. She always does a great job, & did not disappoint for the wedding. It was everything I wanted!
Last checks in the mirror before our first looks. Those all-black tuxes were pretty much the only thing Laker insisted on throughout the planning process!
Having two of my best friends as photographers was really special, but more so in this moment. When I got done changing, Brandon came in & saw me & had to sit down because he was so emotional. That was really touching for me, & made the moment more real!
I did a first look with my sisters next, & I loved seeing their reactions. They're two of my closest friends, & their thoughts on that day were important to me. I'm glad they approved!
Then was my first look with Laker. There was some miscommunication, & somehow all of our extended family members ended up being around for this, which made it a bit more of a high-pressure situation. I don't recommend that to everyone, but I was still so glad to see Laker. I highly recommend doing a first look, or even doing a prayer or blindfolded meet-up before the wedding. It's such a great way to ease nerves before the ceremony!
We snapped some family photos before heading to the ceremony, which was another perk of seeing each other before the wedding - we didn't have to take as many photos after the ceremony! Although, a few of these were taken at the reception as well.
My dad walking me down the aisle. All of the bouquets, boutonnieres, & floral arrangements were made by my mother & grandmother, who worked at the flower shop my great-grandmother owned before she passed away. We used silk flowers so we could have them done in advance, & I still have my wedding bouquet, & Laker's boutonniere! A lot of people preach against fake flowers, but I loved ours. If you use high quality flowers & arrange them well, I think fake flowers can be a great option! I love that my bouquet still looks just as beautiful as it did on our wedding day.
Giving my bouquet to Taryn. I wish I had a photo of Mackenzie getting a hug, too! My sisters were my co-maids of honor, & we have a rotation set up for their weddings so everyone gets a turn to stand by someone. I love having such a great bond with my sisters.
Ceremony music was performed by Earl Moreno & Tara Dillard. I've known Earl for years, & he was kind enough to volunteer to perform, as well as ask Tara to perform with him. They're both incredibly talented & did such a great job!
The wedding was officiated by Jason Myers, a former youth minister of mine who has made a tremendous impact on my life. It was a great experience to be able to share this big day with him, & to introduce him to the most important person in my life. He also did some pre-marital counseling for us.
We had an a really fun bridal party. Kathryn was a former co-worker at Pink Swirls who turned into one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other since 2010. Hannah & also I met in 2010. We hung out with the same group of guys, & hit it off instantly. Taryn & Mackenzie, my co-maids of honor, are my two little sisters & two of my closest friends.
Laker’s brother & former band-mates were his groomsmen, & I’m blessed to say that each of them have also played a significant role in my life. From left to right in the first photo of the guys is Chase, Eddie, Laker, Alex (Laker's brother & best man), & Blake.
Our ushers were Laker’s long-time best friend, Garon, & my older brother, Kiefer. Kiefer actually asked not to be a part of the wedding so he could sit & watch everything. I thought that was sweet! But we convinced him to be an usher, so he could still be involved, but also watch the ceremony.
Our cake & toasting flutes. We had a small cake to cut, & a bunch of cupcakes for our guests. All were homemade by my mom & her friend, whose family had a bakery. We also had a dessert buffet of mostly handmade snacks. One thing no one tells you - How to cut the cake at your wedding. We had no idea what we were doing, & when we said something about it, everyone thought we were trying to be funny. Nope, we really had no idea. Did we cut the whole thing? Just one piece? Do we serve everyone? Thankfully, someone finally clued us in.
More reception photos, & more things no one tells you to practice. I never practiced tossing the bouquet, so I threw it really high, but not very far. But Hannah caught it, so it's okay! Then Laker was dreading the garter toss - He thinks it's a weird tradition (& it kinda is) - so he got it over with as quickly as possible. Kiefer reached for it out of instinct, then realizing what he'd done, instantly felt awkward. We gave him a pretty hard time.
I had my heart set on a sparkler send-off, but since our ceremony was at two in the afternoon & we had a 4-hour drive after the reception to get to our honeymoon destination in Eureka Springs, AK, it didn’t seem practical to stick around until nightfall. So I settled for a bubble send-off, & that turned out to photograph pretty well too.
Oklahoma tends to have a bad reputation. People think it's just a boring, flat place that occasionally has ice storms & tornadoes.
I was born & raised in Oklahoma. I have been all over the country, & I have realized that while Oklahoma may not have huge mountain ranges, theme parks, sandy beaches, or an ocean view, it has been a wonderful place to grow up.
Although it is (for the most part) a very flat state, we still have some beautiful scenery, & because it is so flat, we some of the most gorgeous skies you’ll ever see.
Oklahoma is a big place with a small town feel. Everyone is connected somehow, which can be overwhelming, but also comforting. Oklahoma tends to have very friendly, truly caring people. This state has been through a lot (the OKC Bombing, tornadoes, ice storms, blizzards…), but we always make it through because of the people who live here. Another thing I love about Oklahoma is that it has four distinct seasons. The weather (though often crazy) doesn't stay the same throughout the year (or sometimes even throughout the day), which keeps things interesting!
One of my very favorite things about living in Oklahoma is all of the local businesses. We have so many coffee shops, restaurants, & stores that are unique to Oklahoma. There are also lots of great local events, like arts festivals, the State Fair, & the Chickasha Festival of Lights. It makes it fun to visit different towns within the state, & I know that when the time comes for me to move away, these businesses & events are going to be some of the things I miss most. & Oklahoma is growing! Especially the Tulsa & OKC areas… We are getting some great businesses, & some of the newer architecture is really interesting!
Oklahoma may not be the most exciting state, but it is a great one. I have had the chance to meet so many wonderful people & experience so many interesting things. I have played with animals at the zoo & fair (even petting a tiger at an exotic animal park!), gone to local events & seen local talents (like the OKC Ballet!), attempted to find all of OKC’s many buffalo statues, & taken advantage of beautiful weather by picnicking & going to the lake. I have done stereotypical “southern” things, like four-wheeling, camping, going shooting, & fishing. I have partaken of local traditions, like “tagging the spillway” in my hometown.
I do not claim to live in the “best” state. I don’t even think there IS a best state. But I do think that those who say Oklahoma is a horrible place need to give it another chance, & really look for the beauty in it. As they say, home is where you make it. & although I know that I will not live in Oklahoma forever, I know that part of me will always feel at home here.
I often get asked about my tattoos, so here are the full stories behind each of them - all together in one place.
1. Gungor Lyrics.
Done by Nina in Spring of 2011.
- right shoulder blade -
These are lyrics to a worship song by Gungor. It has been very powerful in my life, & reminds me that God can make beauty out of anything - any pain, any circumstance, any person. The tattoo says "You make beautiful things out of us" in my own handwriting… I think it makes it more personal. This is one of the first tattoos Nina ever did, & I need to get it touched up because it’s faded a bit. It’s my only tattoo that’s faded at all though, so that’s nice!
2. "talitha cumi."
Done by Shannon Beck in Summer of 2011
- back of my neck -
Mark 5 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. There are so many miracles performed in that chapter! Starting in verse 35, the chapter tells about Jesus going to see the family of a girl who died. He tells the father, “Do not be afraid; just believe.” He then goes to the girl, & says, “talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” & she does! With all of my health problems, it’s so easy to get discouraged & feel like giving up. But this Scripture reminds me that if He can heal a girl who died, I have nothing to worry about.
(Also, the font is called Jane Austen, for all of you other Pride & Prejudice lovers out there!)
3. Matthew 10:29-31 - Sparrows.
Done by Shannon Beck in Summer of 2011. Designed by Tim Kelly.
- right rib cage -
My older brother & I were born exactly a year & two weeks apart, so we were always close growing up. When I was in high school, I found out that my brother didn’t believe in God, & that was devastating. I had such a firm faith, & I didn’t understand how we were raised the same way, but could end up so different. For years, I prayed for him. Sometimes it got really tough. There were times when I was SO mad at God. My brother was my best friend, & the nicest person I knew. He did so many great things for people - even strangers. How could someone like that deserve Hell & eternal suffering? At some points I even rebelled against God. If He didn’t want my brother, maybe I didn’t need any part of what He had to offer. But it never worked. God was always there, & even when I was furious with Him, I still relied on Him, & I still cried out to Him in my pain.
This is a very long story, & I would love to share it sometime, but the short version is this: My brother thought he was too logical for Christ. He read every religious text he could find, searching for answers, & didn’t believe any of it. Eventually, though, my brother surprised me. He was debating philosophies with a friend one night, felt like he needed to turn to a certain Scripture (where Satan is tempting Jesus with Scripture), realized that’s what he was doing, prayed, accepted Christ, & called me. I was awestruck. God is so good! It took years of prayer, & it didn't happen in my timing, but it did happen - my brother trusted in God & who He is.
So back to the tattoo. I’ve always had a thing for sparrows. & Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. & even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” I got this tattoo for my brother. That whole time - when I was angry, when my brother wasn’t following God, when it seemed hopeless - God was watching. He knew what He was doing. Not a single sparrow will fall to the ground outside of God’s care.
It says “Matthew 10:29-31” but it’s kind of hard to read because I'm a little smaller than I was when I got it…
(Side note: I had heard so many horror stories about how painful rib tattoos were, I didn’t tell Laker I was getting this one in case I chickened out. Shannon had done one of Laker’s tattoos & they were buddies, so I made him promise not to tell either. It hurt, but it wasn’t that bad. Then right after I got it, I met up with Laker for dinner & he reached over & tickled my ribs. It hurt SO. BAD. But of course Laker had no idea why I flinched & yelled “Ahh!” in the middle of the restaurant.)
Done by Gage Brim at Beauty from Pain in OKC (he now lives out of state) in September 2011.
- left hip -
This is the only one without a whole lot of meaning. I have collected owls for several years, so a tattoo was bound to happen eventually. One night (while I was still living in Shawnee), I went to OKC with a friend to go to a concert. We got to the venue, only to find out the concert had been cancelled. On a whim, we decided to go get tattoos. We had heard this studio was great, so we checked it out. Gage said he was about to close up since it had been slow that night, so since we were helping him out, he’d cut us a deal. I got this little guy for super cheap, & I love it (:
5. Ring Tattoos.
Done in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (I don’t remember the lady’s name) in June 2012.
- left ring finger -
This one’s fairly self-explanatory. Instead of wedding bands, Laker & I got each other’s names tattooed on our ring fingers (actually, he got a wedding band, too). They’re in each other’s handwriting, & we got them on our honeymoon.
6 & 7. Disney Roses.
Done by Gage Brim in October 2012.
- left shoulder cap -
These are the roses from Beauty & the Beast & Alice in Wonderland.
Beauty & the Beast has always been a favorite of mine. I used to watch it every time I stayed home sick from school, & now I just watch it all the time for fun. I really relate to Belle’s character - smart, but awkward, stubborn, & more of a hermit than anything.
As for Alice in Wonderland… My mom had an old copy of the book from when she was a kid. I’ve read it several times since I was little, & have since started collecting my own copies. I love Alice & her imagination & love of nonsense.
These are two of my favorite stories, & it seemed appropriate to have a piece of my childhood on my body.
8. C. S. Lewis
Done by Jeremy Smith at The Ink Hub in March 2017.
-left rib cage-
I have always loved the C. S. Lewis quote, "courage, dear heart," that often floats around social media. When my hysterectomy was approaching, the quote kept coming to mind, & I decided to research a little more where the quote came from. It's from the Chronicles of Narnia series, which I loved when I was younger. You can read the full story behind the quote in this blog post.
I related to the story so much. I felt like we had made this big decision, & I felt so confident in that, but nearly everyone else was unsure. I had to trust that God had spoken to me & told me what to do, & that I would lead the way, & everyone else could follow along.
I decided to get this tattoo as a reminder of that, to keep me confident in my decision & remind me that I didn't need to listen to any voices of doubt.
Christ. Laker. Lily. Padfoot. Puns. Polar Bears. Travel. Tea. Tattoos. Tigers. Books. Belle. Buffaloes. Wonderland. Creativity.