As usual John and I spread the Christmas season out =) Of course we keep the true meaning of Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus and we make sure to focus more on Him rather than all the hustle and bustle of presents. We went to his parent's the week before Christmas to celebrate with all of his family. Brad and Rebekah and anxiously awaiting their first little baby Henninger - so the next time we see them will be when our new nephew is born! Rebecca's boyfriend was not there, but he left some tasty treats for John and I.
We also celebrated at my parents' house on Christmas morning - we opened presents and gave Hunter all of his presents. He was a tired boy afterwards! We also went to my sister's house and Tres, Tina, and Olivia came into town and we watched all of the kids open their presents. We even had time for a family portrait!
This weekend we went to Warner Robins for Lance and Stacy's wedding - remember we went to their bachelor/ette party in Gatlinburg?? It was such a fun time! I really enjoy getting to see all of our friends at all of these events. We got into town on Friday and checked into the hotel - we were bunking with Toby and Christine for the weekend. John and I waited for everyone to finish up with their rehearsal dinner stuff and then we all went out for the night.
Saturday morning Christine and I threw Stacy's bridal shower for her and all of her bridesmaids. After the shower we went back to the hotel to start getting ready for the wedding. Christine and I were put in charge of making sure everyone got down the aisle and then in charge of getting candles lit in the reception area. The wedding was beautiful even though someone forgot the rings and they had to be passed down the groomsmen =)
The reception was so much fun and we had a blast! Lance and Stacy left that night and will be taking their honeymoon to Jamaica a little later - I think....
Afterwards we went out and some girl had a little too much to drink at the bar and puked on my arm and the floor. It was gross...apparently she worked there too and just left the puke.
We just got back from a trip to Pittsburgh, PA. All of John's extended family (on his dad's side) live up in that area. I had never been up there so it was a new experience for me! We stayed at his Aunt Kathy and Uncle John's house in his cousin Jess's room. She has the best room ever! We flew up there just for a few days and at the time his uncles and aunts were going through things in his grandparents' house because they have moved to a nursing home and retirement home. We found so many cool things in their house - including a newspaper article from when the first man landed on the moon - our wedding anniversary! Amazing how many cool newspapers his grandmother saved. In the basement all of the kids (John's dad, aunts, and uncles) had their sleds hung on the wall - they were adorable!
I spent most of the time scanning pictures of John's family to add to our family scrapbook - I love to have pictures of the family! Also while we were there we went to visit John's grandpap at his new retirement home. He was so funny scooting around everywhere and enjoying his new home. We also went to see John's grandmother who is in a health and rehab center. She has become ill with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's recently and it is a great place for her to have constant care.
I enjoyed my first trip to PA and hopefully we will get to stay longer next time! We had to make this one short because we have to get back into GA for Lance and Stacy's wedding!
This weekend we went to Doug and Lexi's wedding. As a tribute to me they planned it to be on my birthday weekend - ha! We got there Friday night and went to the rehearsal and dinner because John was a groomsman. A lot of our friends were also in the wedding party so it was a great time! John and I stayed and Alex's house and slept in one of the most comfortable beds ever - seriously, it was phenomenal.
Saturday we had all of the wedding festivities - John had to be up early to go do his groomsman duties and I just hung out. I ended up bringing a cooler of water and some other things for the wedding party to have while they were taking pictures. Later I got ready and went to the wedding. It was beautiful - naturally!
Next we went to the reception and had a wonderful dinner and a great time visiting with all of our friends that were there. Weddings are so great and it is so nice to see everyone that we used to see on a daily basis. John and I definitely miss our friends.
After we saw Doug and Lexi off (they are in Costa Rica for their honeymoon) we headed to the strip of bars and the Kappa Sig house to hang out with others that were in town and those that were at the wedding. We also had to celebrate my birthday! It was a fun time until one of the male members of the group got a little rowdy and had to leave the bar....boo to him!
Sunday we drove home and then we had my birthday dinner and birthday cake - yum!!
This weekend we drove up to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We left around 1PM and traveled through South Carolina, North Carolina, and straight up into the Smokey Mountains. It was beautiful! We were barely into the mountains when we decided we wanted to visit again =) We made a couple of stops on the way - one to eat at a McDonald's on I-26 in South Carolina and then another at a rest stop in North Carolina. We had no clue we would be going through North Carolina and thought we might have made a mistake in directions. Luckily the map at the rest area/welcome center showed we were right on track! I drove through to the welcome center and John drove the rest of the adventure. The rest of the way was through mountains and curvy roads - not to be driven on while drinking that is for sure! Once off the interstate we were mesmerized with all of the gorgeous scenery we were passing. The look of fall was just beginning to show its face. There were a few lookout places to stop and enjoy the view, but decided to wait until our drive home - we were ready to see our friends!
The entire weekend was so much fun. After the stress John and I had been under with jobs and such it was nice to just get away and relax. The purpose for this trip was for a bachelor/bachelorette party for Lance and Stacy. During the weekend we went to downtown Gatlinburg, the Hard Rock Cafe, the boys played putt-putt, we hung out at the amazing cabin and all in all had a great time with our friends. I think the best was the "man hunt" for Lance and Ross - no clue how all of this happened, but it ended with everyone back at the cabin.
As usual John and I did not want to leave - we never want to go back home from vacations...
This weekend we went to Colquitt, GA for a Phillips' family reunion. This is family on my maternal grandmother's side of the family. We stayed in Bainbridge with my Great Aunt Sara. She lives on a little row of houses where my Great Aunt Wilkin lives as well as Great Aunt Jeanne and Great Uncle Eugene. My Aunt Babs, cousins Paul, Jenifer, and Charlotte stayed with Aunt Wilkin and we also got to see my cousins Chip, Rhonda and their children (my age) Jennifer and Edward.
Each family that came to reunion had to bring a dish that would be large enough to feed their family. Mom made a HUGE pot of delicious green beans. There were so many wonderful things to eat there!!
This weekend we had one of the many "Danny-isms"* :
"with all those women bringing in their home-cooked recipes we're gonna have some good groceries"
The term "good groceries" was heard over and over....
*Danny is my dad and he has some of the most "country sayings" you will ever hear...and he will repeat them over and over and over for all of eternity.
Today we moved away from Valdosta to my hometown. The day after we got back from our honeymoon we had the worst wedding present ever - John lost his job. Seriously - what the?? Anyways, this is definitely going to be a blessing for us. I wasn't very happy with my job so I quit my job and we are moving in with my parents - yep, my parents. Now of course this isn't the most ideal situation, but its what we are going to do and its going to be a great way for us to save money to buy our own house. We had always talked about moving to where one of us was from after a year or so, but instead our plans just got bumped up a bit.
We rented a truck from Budget and then packed up our 2-bedroom apartment. Hunter was going crazy because we were moving everything. I had to turn in all of my stuff to my old job, laptops, car, etc. so now we only have John's truck here. I took my car back home a couple of years ago when I got a company car. We had a little tift over who was going to drive the Budget truck because it had A/C - John's truck has none. He won so John and Hunter had the nice cool air while I sweated to death. We met my parents where their cottage is and we're storing the majority of our stuff there. Hunter loved running around in the grass and having so much freedom while we moved all of our stuff (read: my junk) into the cottage.
We hope to hurry and both find new jobs so that we can be out on our own within a year!
Today was our very last full day in St. Lucia. We spent our day by the pool, relaxing, playing volleyball and just hanging out. Rachel and Danny left today so we said our goodbyes to them. Its never fun to say goodbye to anyone...especially when you know you'll be leaving too. Here is our final night picture...
Today was a fun in the sun day. We spent most of the day laying by the pool and hanging out with our new friends. John and I worked on earning the coveted sandals and enjoyed drinking by the swim up pool bar. Its going to be such a shock when we get back home - we'll probably order a meal or drink and just walk away without paying because we're become so accustomed to everything being all inclusive and not having to wait on the check.
After a fun day we headed to Kimonos - a Japanese steak house - for dinner. IT WAS SO YUMMY! I wish we could have gone there every night. It was pretty much a low key day. Afterward they had the Sandals presentation and we got ours!! Yay! We also earned a key chain =)
Another early day for the Henningers! We went to feast upon the wonderful breakfast and then prepared for a day of fun and relaxation at the pool and swim up bar. Once again we participated in events to earn our sandals - as competitive as we are we HAD to have our sandals! We played pool volleyball and beach volleyball and swam all day. Later we had to get ready for our Party Boat cruise. This trip we would be taking with the three other couples we had met - it was such a fun time! We traveled in the vans to the same place we went to for our other boat adventure and got ready to party in the Caribbean.
While on the boat they played local music as well as some other fun songs that we will always remember - Tim Wilson's Booty Song and The Big Bamboo. While on our cruise we passed another boat that was full of free spirited souls that had a trampoline in their boat. Later during the cruise the same boat passed us and mooned us - as well as a few other things...
The strangest event did happen while we were on the cruise. John ended up talking to another couple that got married in our town on the same night as we did. They asked John were we got married and had our reception. Once he told him they said, "so you're the reason why we couldn't have our reception there." How crazy is that? They apparently tried to book at the same place, but we had ours booked almost a year in advance. Good thing we had a long engagement with plenty of time to get everything planned and booked!
After the cruise we went back to the resort and they had a poker night. John and I love to play poker and this one was all for charity - so whatever money we played with was donated, but we would win fake money and would be able to "buy" things at the auction afterwards. John and I played well at our table and we were able to buy a necklace and some sauces. We then went to bed - we were pooped!
Today we woke up early once again to go on our first excursion. We met up with our new friends Brent and Jamie to take our tour of the city of Soufriere, a drive-in volcano, a waterfall and botanical garden, snorkeling, boat ride, and a restaurant with authentic St. Lucian food. We began our day by having a wonderful breakfast in the main lobby and then packed up some towels and water for the trip.
The ride to the boat was bumpy - of course, but once we got onto the boat it was smooth sailing from then on out! The water was beautiful and so clear. I definitely could get used to being in St. Lucia and living in such a paradise. Throughout the trip we kept seeing a "pirate ship" - we later found out that the ship was the one used in Pirates of the Caribbean. It never occurred to me that the movie would be filmed there - crazy.
We made it to the town of Soufriere and when we were making our approach to the dock little boys were swimming towards to boat and jumping on - it was crazy! They were the cutest little boys - they would dance to the music and do flips off the boat. Once we ported we got off and into vans to headed towards the sulfuric volcano. We got to the volcano and all I could picture was this thing erupting and us running from the hot lava. Of course the thing smelt horrible - like rotten eggs. It was fun to visit though.
We got back into our vans and headed towards the botanical gardens and waterfall. The flowers were beautiful and there were so many colors and fragrances. The waterfall was perfect and of course a great spot for picture taking. After the waterfall and garden we headed towards the authentic St. Lucian restaurant. I was nervous that I wouldn't like the food since I am such a picky eater, but they had chicken and mac-n-cheese so I was set! We left the restaurant (that had a beautiful view!) and then went back to the boat to go and snorkel. Before casting off the same little boys that greeted us came back and were jumping off the boat with little flips and swimming back and forth.
John and I loved snorkeling - we watched all the bright and colorful fish swimming around. The water was so clear and fun to swim in - I would love to go back and snorkel for longer! We got back on the boat and then the party started.
The bar was stocked with run punch and the music was blasting. It was such a great time heading back - we were entertained by the captain's great dancing abilities and enjoyed the wind as the boat headed back towards home.
When we got back to Sandals John and I had dinner reservations at the French restaurant La Toc. The restaurant featured authentic French cuisine and was an okay place to eat. After eating we went to the main meeting place - where breakfast was each day - to watch the entertainment for the night. Afterwards we headed up to bed - another long and FUN day!
Our day began with an early waking up - around 8AM. We slept so soundly the night before; going to bed around 8:30PM. It felt great to catch up on the much needed sleep we lacked from the few days before. We had a phenomenal breakfast at around 9AM - which consisted of fresh fruits, fresh omelets, breads, pastries, anything we wanted. After breakfast, at 10AM, we headed to the "Tour of Sandals" which we missed the night before due to our exhaustion. During our tour we learned the saying of the island, "No Pressure, No Problem".
Once the tour was complete we headed to the pool and the pool bar for some drinks and sun. It was our first day in the sun so we lathered up with sunscreen. There were a few other couples that toured with us in the pool also, so we quickly made friends with fellow honeymooners (Lindsey and ?? from Virginia; Brent and Jamie from Greenville, SC; Rachel and Danny from Cincinnati, OH). We found out that some of them had booked excursions, so we went ahead and booked ours for the same time as our new friends.
The Sandals "Playmakers" went around at this time asking people is they wanted to sign up for a water balloon toss. All of us went to sign up. There were about 20 or so couples in the water balloon contest. While competing I fell on my face (straight into the sand) while hiking the balloon to John. We earned points towards our leather sandal necklaces. After the balloon adventure we remained in the group with Brent, Jamie, Rachel, and Danny. Around 2:30 the Playmakers came again to ask people to sign up for beach volleyball - all 6 of us signed up to play. We played 4 games - and then met a new friend Erik. Our team won and we earned more points toward our sandals! After playing we went back to the pool and bar to hang out some more. While in the pool we met up with Erik and met his wife Diana (from Las Vegas, NV) and they became apart of our group. After the pool time we planned to meet in the lobby to go to Armando's Italian restaurant for dinner.
The eight of us rode the shuttle to Armando's, but ended up splitting into two groups of four to eat. We ate with Erik and Diana and had such a great conversation with them. They were wonderful, and they were also getting married there at the resort. After dinner we all went back to the lobby and watched the performance going on by the locals - including dancers, fire shooters, and limboers. It was a fabulous performance. When the performance was over we headed up to the bar upstairs - the disco club. We all drank a little up there and then left around 1AM. When back in our room we fell asleep immediately.
Today we left for our honeymoon - destination St. Lucia. We only had 3 hours of sleep the night before, so our 6AM airport arrival time was not very fun. The night before we stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites near the Airport. Our wake-up call was at 5:30 AM and then we checked in with Delta Airlines at 6:15AM. Breakfast (our first as Mr. and Mrs.) consisted of Burger King (French Toast Sticks - yum!) at the airport which we scarfed down. Once boarding the plane we took our first class seats to Atlanta for part one of our trip. Once in Atlanta we found our next gate headed towards St. Lucia. Knowing that the gates always change around we searched the arrivals screen and went to the gate it told us. After arriving at our gate John became parched and went to get a drink. When arriving back with his drink he said the gates had changed and unless we wanted to go to Brazil we needed to move. Once arriving to our correct gate we called our families and let them know we had made it to Atlanta safely. At our gate there were a ton of other couples; 90% which were married the night before. We were called to board and took our first class seats once again. This time behind us was a grumpy old man - hence we nicknamed him Grump. We were offered mimosas in our seats and took them with pleasure. The movie showing on the plane was "Premonition" staring Sandra Bullock.
3:30PM After arriving to St. Lucia we departed the plane and walked onto the outdoor airport towards the immigration line. We turned in our immigration papers and headed towards grabbing our luggage. We took our luggage and then went to the customs place and then some man grabbed our luggage and put it on his little dolly. We ran after him and he took it to a Sandals shuttle bus as he said, "One of you go stand in line, one of you stay with the luggage, and a tip for me.". Needless to say we weren't happy to give the bag thief a tip. John stood with the baggage and I went to check in at the resort desk. I checked in and came back with tags for our Sandals luggage. Our luggage was then put onto a shuttle - the same one we were to board and we left the airport with 3 other couples. One couple was from Gainesville,FL (Hannah and ??) and another was from Grenada, Miss. (Hope and Steve - they got married at the resort). The other couple was from Mississippi, too - maybe. The taxi/shuttle ride was EXTREMELY bumpy and on the opposite side on the road. The driver gave us a little history and information about the island - he used to be on the police force. The terrain was bumpy and the hills/mountains did not have guardrails - which fell into the water. Every time we turned a corner the driver would beep his horn to warn a driver coming the opposite way - I thought he knew everyone. We made our first stop at a little cliff and took pictures of the town - it was beautiful!
We arrived at the Sandals Regency Resort at 4:30PM and went straight into the check-in room where we were greeted with a delicious rum punch - our first drink on the island. After checking in we made dinner reservations for the 2 restaurants (La Toc and Kimonos) that needed reservations and then took a shuttle to our room. We got into our room and decided not to take the 5PM tour of the resort and decided to venture out our own. We had dinner at the Arizona - a southwestern type of restaurant (Steaks, ribs, grilled shrimp) and then had to go to the gift shop. Lucky for us it was 8PM and that is the time the gift shop closed, but they held it open just for us. We both forgot toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, and pretty much all of that stuff. We then went back to our room and ended up going to bed at 8:30PM. We had an exhausting day!
Yes, after 5 years and 10 months of dating we are finally married. No longer are we John and Kimberly "the forever dating couple", but we are Mr. and Mrs. Henninger. The wedding was in my hometown and was exactly how we wanted it. A perfect church wedding followed by a huge celebration with our family and friends. The food was fantastic - chicken, roast beef, mac-n-cheese, green beans, potatoes and the best rolls in the entire universe. As a bread expert I would know - ha! We picked July 21, 2007 because 40 years earlier in 1967 my parents were married. They celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on our wedding day. I guess my thought was that the way marriages are going these days we might as well get married on a day that seems to have a nice track record so far! My parents definitely gave me the dream wedding I wanted - considering I have been planning my wedding since I was 13 that's pretty awesome.
My whole family was there - minus a few cousins and John's family was there including his family members from Pittsburgh. I know.....I am marrying a Yankee...he's been in the south over 20 years, so I think its ok! I just pray that he and I will have a Godly and happy marriage full of love, kids, and wonderful memories. So many of our friends, John's fraternity brothers, and my sorority sisters were there - it was amazing how many came for our big day. We are truly thankful to have such wonderful people (family and friends) in our lives.
Next we are off to our honeymoon in St. Lucia - this is the one thing that kept us going, knowing that after all the hustle and bustle we would get to go on a fantastic vacation!