Quick Check In

Oh summer (or at least it certainly feels like summer outside)…you never cease to surprise me. Always hot. Always busy. So much going on that the blog takes a back seat…

As I carve out a few minutes today, let’s do a quick check in on what all is going on in my world.

  • Summer Camps As I mentioned in my last blog post, one of the biggest parts of my job during the summer is helping host/coordinate multiple summer camp offerings for our community. This week is our Vacation Bible School, which is hosting almost 200 kids, students and volunteers. It’s always a great event for our church!

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  • TV/Movies Rachel and I typically use the summer months to catch up on several TV shows and movies. We’ve been rewatching a lot of comedies on Hulu/Netflix recently. So far, The Last Man On Earth and Brooklyn 99 have been our go to shows. For movies, we’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War, Solo, TheIncredibles 2, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor. Tomorrow night, we are going to see the new Jurassic Park movie. We’ve been quite pleased with all of the movies we’ve seen, but the The Incredibles 2 has easily been our favorite!

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  • Running Even with the weather turning almost unbearably hot/humid, I’ve been able to keep the weekly/monthly mileage up. It’s been helpful to not have to really train for any races for the summer months (outside of the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th). Running in the early morning definitely helps…but at this point, even a short 3-4 mile run looks like I’ve jumped in a pool afterwards.

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  • New Pastors Starting tomorrow, our church (my job) will be getting 2 new pastors…which means I will be getting new bosses. I’ve had an opportunity to spend a little time already with the new Senior Pastor. He seems awesome so far!
  • Upcoming Vacation Two weeks from tomorrow, Rachel and I will be heading up to the Pacific Northwest and California for a 10 day trip to Portland, Seattle and Disneyland. We are getting excited to have some time away as both of our jobs have been crazy recently.

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  • Rachel’s Job Anniversary Today marks Rachel’s 11th year with her company. It’s pretty rare to stay with a company for over 10 years and this is her first company job after college. I’m so crazy proud of her and all the work she does!

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  • Time with Family And finally…we’ve had some good time with our families over the past month. We celebrated Father’s Day with Rachel’s family this past weekend. It’s always a joy to spend time with them! And over Memorial Day, we had some awesome time with my Dad and Suzanne at the beach. Family is so important to us and we are grateful to both have wonderful families who love and support us.

All in all, life has been quite busy, but good. Rachel and I are happy. As we get into the heart of the “summer,” let us all be mindful of this blessing we call life. Until next time…

Summer Camps!

One of the cool parts of my job as Director of Activities Ministries at St. James UMC is hosting/running over 20 camps during the summer. Each summer, our church partners with several different companies to run everything from drama, science, soccer, basketball, volleyball, music and more. In fact, this summer, 9 of our camps are being run in house by our Children’s, Music and Activities Ministries.

Today begins the first week of these camp offerings at our church. 

Club SciKidz Camp

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Dos Santos Soccer Camp

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From now to the end of August, we will have over 1,000 campers (from ages 9 months to 18 years old) come through our building. And while it’s a very busy time in my world, it’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Here’s to another great summer!

May 2018 Florida/Disney Trip Recap

A couple of weekends ago, Rachel and I headed down to Florida for a few days. We spent the first day with my brother, Warren,and his family, before heading down to Disney for another quick visit. We typically like to get down to Disney at least once before the summer crowds/heat take over.

My nephew, Trey (Warren’s oldest), is graduating from high school at the end of this month, and we aren’t able to make the actual ceremony. But I knew I wanted to have some time to celebrate with him, so we decided to head down to Tallahassee to visit with them for the day/night. When we got there, we ended up getting to watch our niece, Ansley, ride horses and play polo for a little while. For not knowing very much about polo, I thought she was excellent! I was super impressed for sure!

 

We had a wonderful time hanging with my brother’s family, and as an added bonus, my dad and Suzanne came down for the day as well! I’ve said it before, I’m so blessed to have a wonderful and loving family who genuinely likes to be together.

After spending the night in Tallahassee, we headed out and made our way down to Disney for the next 3 days. We were excited for several reasons…

  • Copper Creek (Wilderness Lodge) We ended up staying at our favorite resort, Wilderness Lodge, for the nights we were down there. In fact, our friend,Nick (who works for Disney Corporate), got us a great deal in the new section, Copper Creek. It was absolutely amazing! The rooms were so nice and updated. We ended up with a corner room that overlooked the private DVC pool and was within shouting distance of Geyser Point and Grill, one of our favorite new restaurants at the resorts. I told Rachel, once we’ve had a chance to stay at all the Disney resorts, Wilderness Lodge will more than likely be our go to from then on. While a little pricier than the moderate resorts, it’s worth it for the overall experience!
  • Flower and Garden Festival Epcot has become one of our favorite parks at Disney. I think one of the main reasons is the festivals (including Food and Wine, Flower and Garden, and Festival of Arts) they have throughout the year. We love exploring the different food and drink offerings throughout the World Showcase. Plus, this year, Annual Passholders received special Flower and Garden Festival-themed magnets!
  • Friends We ended up having some solid quality time with our friends, Nick and Ciara, who live literally right behind the Magic Kingdom. We love having time with them. They have truly become some of our closest friends.
  • Disney Parks And, of course, being in the parks! We ended up spending time in the Animal Kingdom (especially Pandora!), Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. We always have a great time just being in the parks. It’s become one of our true happy places! No wonder they call it “The Most Magical Place On Earth!”

All in all, we had a wonderful trip to visit family and the Walt Disney World Resort! Until next time…

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Adventure Is Out There

Rachel and I love to travel. And yes, while Disney is our top destination…we love to get out of town, even for just a few days. We decided years ago that we value experiences more than just accumulating a lot of stuff.

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Now, of course, we buy the necessities and even treat ourselves to material possessions…but experiences are always going to be of great importance.

Inevitably, whenever we are getting ready to head out of town for a quick trip, someone always comments, “Didn’t you just go out of town?” I always smile and say YEP! It makes me happy to know that we are known as a couple who enjoys traveling and being together.

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I will say, we are incredibly fortunate that we are able to get away several times a year. Both of us have great jobs with a lot of flexibility. Plus, we are financially able to make it work, while still being able to live and save money. Also, it doesn’t hurt that we are able to make a lot of our trips cheaper by using points, staying with friends, buying annual passes, and not going overboard with food and drinks.

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All in all, I love experiencing new (and familiar) places with Rachel. I believe it allows us to get away from the craziness of life from time to time and just be together. And I figure as long as we can make these trips work out with our schedules and finances, we will continue to place a high priority on them.

New York City Trip Recap (Part Three)

Continuing with Part Three of our New York City Trip Recap…check out Parts One and Two here and here.

After two pretty busy days, our third (and final full day) in NYC was going to be a little more laidback. The only thing on the agenda was the New York Yankees baseball game at 1:00pm. We figured after the game, we would just grab dinner and walk around that evening for our last night. 

But after waking up and grabbing some breakfast, we decided to see if we could find tickets to another Broadway show for the evening. We had several options, although quite a few were pretty expensive. We ended up scoring some tickets to the new Frozen show that opened about a month ago. We had heard good things about it, plus, it’s Disney…so we figured it was a good bet.

Back to the first thing on our agenda for the day…the Yankees game. Now I’ve been to the old Yankees stadium, but haven’t gotten out to the new stadium, so I was excited to see it. We jumped on the subway a few hours before the game and made the trek up to the Bronx. The subway was absolutely packed with people going to the game. And it’s not a short ride. I was definitely ready to be off the train when we finally arrived.

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The stadium was a short walk from the subway and very easy to navigate. We ended up with absolutely wonderful seats in the outfield right behind the bullpen. Plus, with the weather still a little chilly, it was great to be in the sun (especially for Rachel).

We had a great time at the game. The fans were all super nice and super into the game. It’s definitely a different environment than going to a Braves game. Plus, the Yankees won, so everyone was in a good mood.

Around the 8th inning, we decided to cut out and head back towards the hotel. Once we got back down to the hotel area, we walked around for a bit and even found another Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes!

After resting up for a little bit, we headed over to the Times Square area to grab dinner. We ended up at this great burger place (The Counter) literally in the middle of Times Square. It was excellent!

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Once we finished eating, it was time for Frozen! The show was really cute. Honestly, I thought it was even better than the movie. The two female leads were fantastic! And, as you might imagine, the overall theatre/environment was very different than the HP show. I was glad we decided to hit up another Broadway show on our last night in NYC. It was the perfect way to close out our amazing trip!

So all in all, we had a wonderful 3 days in New York City. While the weather was definitely cold, we were able to do everything we wanted to do and more. Plus, seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child made the entire trip worth it. We agreed that NYC is a must do at least every 5-10 years. Can’t wait to get back!

New York City Trip Recap (Part Two)

Continuing with Part Two of our New York City Trip Recap…check out Part One here.

After a busy Thursday, we took our time getting out of the hotel on Friday morning. Since we didn’t have plans until Part Two of the HP play, we decided to mainly be tourists in NYC.

We started out by heading down to One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) and the 9/11 Museum area. Last time we were in NYC, they were in the process of building both. It was cool to be able to finally see them in person.

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But wow, it was crazy crowded down there. The lines to go up to the top of the tower and the 9/11 Museum were insane. We decided to just walk around and take pictures instead.

Once we finished walking around the Freedom Tower area, we grabbed a quick lunch and made our way over to Battery Park. It was a beautiful walk along the Hudson River. We got to see New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

After a while, we decided to hop back on the subway and make our way up to the Rockefeller Center/Central Park area. We spent some time just walking around and in and out of stores around Rockefeller Center before stopping off at Magnolia Bakery for some baked goods. The line was out the door!

We walked up to Central Park, but not before stopping by The Plaza so Rachel could get a picture. (As a little girl she loved the Eloise books, who lived in The Plaza.)

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Even though it was definitely a little on the chillier side, we found a nice sunny spot in Central Park and stopped to rest/hang for a bit.

After spending several hours around this area, we began the journey back down to our hotel to get ready for the show. We were probably 20-25 blocks away, but we decided to walk and just enjoy the sights/stores/sounds.

We stopped in St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a few minutes. It was breathtaking!

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We even stopped in the Disney Store in Times Square. It was awesome! Easily the biggest Disney Store I’ve ever been in.

Once we got back over to the hotel, we rested up for a bit before heading back out for dinner and Part Two of HP!

We had found a cool dinner spot the night before that was kind of like a food court of sorts. We both ended up getting tacos, which were awesome!

After dinner, I was super excited to get to the second part of the HP play. Part one was just so amazing…I knew part two would be equally as great!

And friends, it absolutely was! I can’t get over how amazing this play was. The acting, sets, music, and overall magic were second to none. I am soooooo glad we decided to see it on Broadway and with the original principal cast from London. It was an experience neither one of us will ever forget.

We even got a few pictures of the actors as they were coming outside after the show. There were quite a few people waiting on them, but I was able to sneak a few pictures from over the top. (It’s nice to be tall!)

As we did the night before, once we finished at the HP show, we walked over to Times Square for a few minutes. And, of course, it was crazy crowded. But we were able to grab a few more photos before calling it a night.

Stay tuned for the 3rd and final recap post….