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Saddle up for Success

Immediately following our girls trip to Destin, I boarded a plane to Dallas for the 2015 Certiport Global Partner Summit and World Championships. This was a highlight of my job at Certiport. It took months and months of preparation, but it was all worth it when we got to see firsthand the difference certification makes in the lives of students around the world. And, I got to do it alongside the best co-workers you could ever ask for.

We held the event at the beautiful Gaylord Texan Resort. The highlight of the event, besides the always emotional awards ceremony, was the student off-site activity at Circle R Ranch. We were able to provide a true Texas experience for all of the international students, including pictures on a longhorn steer, line dancing, cattle roping, gun slinging, and a rodeo. It was a lot of fun! Great memories I will always cherish.

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Beachgoing in Destin

We couldn’t let the guys have all the fun, so while they were in Alaska, my mom and I took a trip to Destin, Florida. We enjoyed the perfect sand, warm ocean waves, and some good books during the day, then shopping and lovely dinners in the evenings.

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One day we decided to visit the super charming city of Seaside. We enjoyed the famous Pickles restaurant french toast for breakfast and fried pickles as a mid-day snack. We also took advantage of the fun food trucks for lunch, during a break from exploring the unique shops. And some unexpected, pouring rain made for quite the adventurous day!

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To finish off our trip, we had a wonderful crab leg dinner at the beach side restaurant, Surf Hut. It was delicious! If you’re looking for some restaurant recommendations in Destin or Seaside, I reviewed all of my favorites on Trip Advisor.

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It was great to have some mommy-daughter time! Next time we’ll have to pick a week for a boys trip and girls trip that works for Natalie, Colton, Suzanne, and Caroline’s schedules too.

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Fishing in Alaska

In August, Chad was able to go to Alaska again for a fishing trip. It was his dad’s 50th birthday, and Mark was kind enough to invite Chad, my dad, and my brother along for the birthday fun. And, of course, our favorite captain, Cody, was there to put them on the fish.

Despite some issues with fog, they had a lovely week of “catching” at Pybus Point Lodge. I’m told it’s not “fishing” when you barely put your hook in the water before you’re already reeling in a fish. Again, props to Captain Cody.

They have lots of great stories about catching salmon, halibut, yelloweye, black bass, and other Alaskan fish. I’m sure we’ll be hearing those stories for many, many years. And, it will always put a smile on my face knowing that my favorite guys were able to take such a memorable trip together.

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Land of the Free, Home of the Braves

I’ve always loved the 4th of July. Family, food, fireworks, and freedom are at the top of my list of things I love and am grateful for. This year we decided to go to a Braves game then stay after for the fireworks. It was a wonderful way to celebrate! And, we were very lucky that the pouring rain held off just long enough for the fireworks.

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A few weeks later we were reminded again of our gratitude for our country and freedom. We were able to watch a reenactment of a battle at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. It was a beautiful reminder of the sacrifice made by the military and their families.

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Orlando and Sunday Strolls

Right after my family left for home, I flew to Orlando for work. Orlando was the location of the 2015 MOS U.S. National Championship and CERTIFIED Educator Conference. They were both great events I am proud to have been a part of.

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Chad was able to fly down and join me for the weekend. It was great for him to finally see the emotion of the Certiport student competitions in person and see me “in action.” After I finished with work, we were able to enjoy a day at Epcot before heading home again.

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We’re really starting to like this new home of ours. We’ve been trying to get out and explore, so we spent the following weekend hiking around Vickery Creek. As always, it was nice to be out enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

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Alpine to Atlanta

One of the highlights of the summer was my family visiting us in Atlanta, then spending the weekend together in Orange Beach.

While in Atlanta, we took them to many of our favorite restaurants and enjoyed all of the sites the Atlanta CityPass had to offer.

We loved celebrating my mom’s retirement, Natalie’s graduation from BYU, and Nathan’s graduation from Lone Peak with a nice dinner at South City Kitchen. I have to say though, it feels crazy that we’ve reached these milestones as a family. Time flies.

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The Georgia Aquarium is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s hands down the best aquarium I’ve ever been to. I could spend hours and hours there. Chad and I even bought season passes because I’m that obsessed. The World of Coke was also really fun. I fully appreciate the marketing brilliance of Coke, and loved being able to taste different Coke products from around the world.

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And, of course the whole family LOVED the College Football Hall of Fame. Seriously, so fun. We were also able to go to a Braves game, which is always a fun experience.

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We rented a condo in Orange Beach, Alabama for the weekend. It was right on the beach with a beautiful view. Needless to say, we loved it! Orange Beach was great because it is not overly commercialized. It is mainly condo buildings with a beautiful, well-kept beach. We had fun relaxing and playing in the waves and sand during the day, then catching and releasing ghost crabs on the beach at night.

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Family time is the best time! I’m so glad we were able to spend time together, showing off our new home town and making so many good memories.

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Embark

As part of my church calling, I was able to attend the 2015 Atlanta Stake Young Women Camp and had a fantastic time! They do “camping” right in the Atlanta Stake. We slept in cabins with electricity (queue fan blowing on me all night to stay cool in Hotlanta) and warm showers, prepared food and ate in a mess hall, and they even came and sprayed for bugs before we got there (not a single bug bite for me, booyah!). Don’t get me wrong, I love camping regardless, but these luxuries were definitely appreciated during our week long adventure.

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We enjoyed a nice hike to the beautiful river at Indian Springs State Park, played water games, shared talents, and made new friends. We completed certification, strengthened our testimonies, and ate lots and lots of food.

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The highlight for me was the faith walk, where we heard stories of women from the scriptures and church history, as presented by women from our stake who portrayed them. It was a powerful and unforgettable experience.

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I am grateful to have shared this week with some seriously awesome leaders, to have witnessed the sincere kindness and love of my young women as they served others, and for the rejuvenation that occured by dedicating some time to peacefully pondering God and his many creations. Until next year!

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“Embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” D&C 4:2