Tuesday, July 31, 2012

tampa top five

Sigh... I spent a long time on Saturday night putting together a post with pictures of my time in NOLA, with plans to post it yesterday- the year anniversary of moving... and then it didn't save.  Sadness.  We'll see if I decide to re-do it at another point.  BUT, I had already decided to post today about Tampa.  So, without further ado- in honor of 1 year living in Tampa...

Top 5 Favorite Things about Tampa

1.  Our house!

Can I just say, I love where we live?  Our little corner of Tampa has a unique feel to it and reminds me a bit of NOLA in that sense.  There are some fun little shops and restaurants nearby, there's differing architecture, and we're not far from the interstate.  And our house- well, I may be partial, considering it's our first home together (not counting our month-long sublet in N.O.), but it's pretty darn adorable.  We also happen to have the best neighbors with the 2 sweetest little boys.

2. Our church.

I blogged here about why I love our church so much, so I'll hold back my gushing.  Suffice it to say- I love it and the friends we've made through it.

3. The BEACH!

It takes us 15 minutes to get to an okay beach, and 45 minutes to get to a really wonderful beach.  I LOVE it!  Seriously, my idea of an amazing day is to spend it lying on the beach, reading, journaling, napping, and listening to music.  I'm trying to take advantage of our close proximity to the beach as much as possible.

4. Our jobs.

For the most part, our jobs seem to be good fits for us, especially Cori, and we're thankful for that.  I've been able to work with younger kids, and Cori's fellowship has been wonderful.

5. This guy!

As hard as it was to leave behind our friends and lives in New Orleans, moving to Tampa brought us closer together.  We've been able to spend tons of time together, and I'm so thankful for it.  What can I say?  He's pretty much my favorite.  :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012


As I was running tonight, I started mentally writing a blog post (yes, I do that- and if all the blogs I thought out while in the car or on a run actually got written, I'd have way more posts!) about my favorite parts of life in Tampa that I want to write when we hit our one year here in a week.  It got me thinking about my church, and I quickly realized that I could just write a whole blog post about why we love aletheia- so I'm going to!

From day one in Tampa, aletheia has been a blessing to Cori and I.  And I literally mean day one.

I attended the original aletheia church for a season when I went to JMU.  Since then they've planted churches in Mexico, Richmond, Norfolk, St. Petersburg, Gainesville- and Tampa.  When Cori and I first found out last July that his fellowship with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) would be taking us to Tampa, my sweet friend Caitlyn reminded me that there was an aletheia here.  I quickly realized that a few people I knew- and even more who I knew of- were part of that church plant.  Cori and I made plans to attend aletheia our first Sunday in Tampa.  After leaving New Orleans on Saturday afternoon, we rolled into our first 'home' in Tampa (and by that, I mean the hotel where we spent a few nights before we found our rental home) at 3:30 am Sunday morning.  Hours later, we pulled ourselves out of bed and made it to church by 11am- one of few times we've actually been on time for services!  We walked in and were greeted by aletheia Tampa's pastor, Aaron, who I knew from JMU.  Let me tell you something about the Proffitt family- they remember names and they remember people.  Even though it had been years since I'd attended church in Harrisonburg and even longer since I was a freshman in the kinesiology class that Aaron taught, he hadn't forgotten who I was.  I introduced him to Cori and met his wife, Ashlee, who was someone I knew of but didn't actually know at JMU.

I'll never forget what happened next.  My friend Lindsey- who was one of those college friends who you've always really liked but never quite had enough time to get to know- comes running up to me, excited but confused as to why this girl she knew from college but hasn't seen in 5 years is at her church in another part of the country.  She says, "Rebecca Taylor!?  But wait, that's not your name anymore!"  After a week of painful goodbyes to some of my closest friends in New Orleans, it was beyond wonderful to see people I knew within hours of moving to Tampa.  The Lord's kindness in that blew me away.  That first week, people from aletheia helped us move into our home and on Friday- less than a week after we'd moved- Lindsey and her husband Matt had us over for dinner.

And that was just the beginning.  In the year that we've lived here, aletheia has blessed us and challenged us in ways we couldn't have imagined or asked for.  Last fall, I was part of a Bible study for married women.  When it started, I had been married for 2 months, and showed up every week with an attitude of 'please show me how to have a Christ-centered marriage because I sure as heck don't know what I'm doing!'  Learning from and with women in so many different stages of life- some married for not much longer than me, others married for years and with kids- was beautiful.  To be honest, there are ways that aletheia has blessed us that we didn't want, but as it turns out, needed- like challenging us by example to step out of our comfort zones and more boldly share Jesus- but it is always rooted in the underlying, beautiful reminder that everything we do is based on the Lord's merciful, undeserved love for us.  We have loved worshiping amidst such sweet sisters and brothers, and I cannot say enough how much we enjoy the worship band.  

I could go on and on about aletheia.  I could talk about the sweet prayer times I've had at Bible studies or the men Cori's gotten to know (and play frisbee golf with!) or the way I'm absolutely loving the series on Jonah we're going through right now.  But instead I'll just end with this- the Lord has blessed us with aletheia tampa.  To Him be the glory!


I've been completely MIA here since I finished blogging about our cruise; primarily because our lives have been fairly routine and unexciting since we got back, especially in comparison to our vacation.  Definitely no kissing dolphins or swimming with sting rays.

We had a pretty great weekend in the Pflugradt household.  That's not to say that it was wild and crazy- but it was the presence of down-time that helped make it wonderful.

Friday night we relaxed... watched tv, surfed the internet, and read.  Cori kindly kicked dinner- mandarin pork chops, yum!- and we were thrilled to be in bed before 11.  Call us lame, but our work weeks have been extra hectic recently, so we were beyond thankful for this time to be still and sleep.

Saturday morning was similarly chill- we got up around 9 and spent the morning reading, spending time with Lord, chatting with one of our neighbors, etc.  Then we headed off to meet some of Cori's co-workers to see newest Batman movie.  My opinion: definitely a great movie, although not quite as epic as the first two.  There was just something so engagingly chilling about the Joker as a villian, and I just don't think it was possible to top Heath Ledger's performance in the second movie.  All the same, we really enjoyed it.  After the movie, we ate dinner at Mr. Dunderbaks.  Dinner was delicious, and we loved the live German accordion music.  Cori even requested the Scnitzelbank song, which of course reminded me of when we first started dating.  After telling Cori's coworkers about our cruise at dinner, I started craving ice cream, so we stopped by Bo's Ice Cream, our fave local ice cream shop here, to get twist cones.  Yum!

Today, we went to church and enjoyed time worshiping with our church family.  Afterwards, we went to lunch with our friends Wes and Steph.  When our original plan to go to Ella's, our favorite restaurant in our little corner of Tampa fell through (an hour and a half wait when you're already starving?  no thank you!) we ended up eating Chinese food at Yummy House- and yes, it was yummy!  Amusingly enough, we stopped by Bo's again to get more ice cream, and spent some time hanging out at our house with Wes and Steph.  

It was definitely a wonderful weekend- the perfect mix of active fun and chill time.  Tomorrow starts another busy work week- here's to soaking up the last few hours before the craziness starts all over!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

cruisin' back home

Wednesday, July 4: Day five.

Our last full day of cruisin' was Wednesday as we headed back to Tampa.  Our morning was pretty chill... we enjoyed breakfast in the dining room (the other days we'd opted for the buffet- similar food, but they had french toast, which is Cori's favorite), looking at some of the pictures they'd taken of us on the cruise (but chose not to purchase any), played a game of air hockey, and attempted a game of Phase 10 (which we didn't finish because I potentially got too competitive and got mad when Cori was creaming me... evidence that just because I go on vacation, my sin nature does not- definitely in need of a Savior!).

We spent the afternoon reading and napping, but while I was eager to soak up more sun, Cori had had his fill of being outside while we were in Cozumel and opted to stay inside.  Buuuuuut he did join me later so we could finally check out the water slide at the pool. I think both of us had low expectations for it, but it turned out to be AWESOME!  We went down twice, spent a few minutes in the hot tub, and then decided it was time to get ready for dinner.

We settled down for our last dinner- I got the mahi mahi and saved enough room for dessert- chocolate melting cake.  We had this earlier in the week and I knew I needed it one last time before we left.  It is AMAZING!  Apparently it's been rated as one of the best desserts- by whom, I have no idea, but I believe it!  The middle is all warm and melty and gooey and... I'll stop salivating now, but just trust me.  SO. SO. GOOD.


Afterwards we headed to a family comedy show.  It was pretty funny, and while we waited to start gave us a good opportunity for a mini photo shoot...

attractive, i know.

Punchliner Comedy Club

After the comedy show, we headed to a singing/dancing performance.  It was country themed, which we didn't realize going into it.  Great for me, not as exciting for Cori... but he still enjoyed it.  My favorite part was when the fiddle player played 'Devil Went Down to Georgia.'  It was beautiful!

After the show, we decided to walk around the top deck for a bit.  It was a beautiful night, and we spent a long time just peacefully watching the ocean and looking at the stars.

We also chatted with a kind woman for a bit, and she was so sweet- she told us we were a cute couple and offered to take a picture of us.  I know my hair looks a little crazy in this picture- windy!- but it was great to capture such a beautiful night.
We finally left the top deck and went to check on the other festivities.  We danced it up at the on-board nightclub, Rex, for a bit.  The evening was a great combination of two of my favorite sides of Cori- I love that we can be chill together yet also be silly and crazy.  I was reminded of our second date- we went to our friends' Scott and Rebekah's wedding and afterwards went to the Bridge Lounge.  At both places we spent hours dancing and I remember getting home and being on cloud 9.

Finally, we called it a night.

our last towel creation!


Thursday, July 5: Day 5.1

We docked in Tampa around 6am, and it was a noisy arrival.  Cori and I took advantage of being up early and watched the last bit of the sunrise.  Then we filled up with one last yummy breakfast.  Seriously, I've realized that Cori LOVES french toast, but it's only when we go out, like on our honeymoon or on this cruise.  I think the difference is that when we make it at home, we just use regular bread, but other places use thicker bread.  Anyway, I digress.  After breakfast, we gathered the last of our things from the room and spent just a little bit longer on the top deck while we waited for our debarkation zone to be called.

nom nom nom

seriously, this kid loved his french toast!

...and one last ice cream cone before leaving the ship!
We got off the ship, went through customs, took a shuttle to the lot where our car was parked, and were home around noon on Thursday.  We've spent the weekend catching up on life things- grocery shopping, laundry, mowing the lawn, etc.  We've also enjoyed some fun things, like eating some New Orleanian food at the Second Line Cafe with our neighbors (can't pass up an opportunity to have crawfish etouffee and beignets when you're in Tampa... also, seeing 4 year old Jude eat a beignet was one of the most hilarious things ever... sugar EVERYWHERE), napping, cuddling with Willow (who has been extra affectionate since we got back), seeing the Amazing Spiderman, running (did you catch the part where I ate 5 million ice cream cones on this cruise?), and I obviously have spent a lot of time blogging!

Tomorrow is back to work, but hopefully we'll start the week refreshed!  We had the most wonderful week! :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Tuesday, July 3: Day Four.

Our fourth day was definitely my favorite.  We didn't dock in Cozumel until 11am, so we enjoyed a slow morning sitting on the patio, eating breakfast, reading, and praying.  So relaxing and wonderful!  Eventually, it was time to get off the ship and begin our adventures.  You'll notice that we weren't the only Carnival ship spending the day in Cozumel- I think that was the Elation ship next to us?

see ya later, Paradise!

We checked in for our expedition and had about half an hour before our shuttle left, so we wandered around for a bit.  Since this area is where the cruise ships enter, it was extremely touristy, but fun all the same.  We found a few photo ops...

such a beautiful day!

It's a zonkey!  (zebra-donkey)

this is me, trying to be intimidating...

A restaurant called Fat Tuesdays- totally Mardi Gras/New Orleans themed.  I gotta say, I'm proud to have lived somewhere that's so cool that even other countries try to emulate its celebrations!

Then, it was off to our excursion of the day, which was... SWIMMIING WITH DOLPHINS!  Seriously, this was one of the coolest things I've ever done.  Taxis picked us up and took us a few miles down the road to Dolphinarias.  Before we started, we watched a few other groups with the dolphins.

the view was breathtaking!

After a brief orientation, it was our turn.  Apparently, our time in the water was only 40 minutes, but it felt like longer.  Our group worked with Nautica, and we were able to give her a hug, kiss her, dance with her, pet her, and ride her.  It was expensive to purchase pictures, but we couldn't resist having at least a few of us in this once in a lifetime experience.

cue the teasing Cori about kissing another woman...


haha, can you tell how excited i am?  dancing AND dolphins?!  it's too good to be true!

dolphin ride! she swam up behind us on her belly, then we grabbed her fins and went for a little ride.

SO much fun!

We also got to see 4 of the dolphins make some awesome jumps.  It was SO cool!  After we got out of the water and bought photos, it was time for lunch.

mmmm.... fajitas!

After we finished lunch, we still had several hours before we had to be back on our ship.  The staff at the Dolphinarias told us that if we walked a few blocks, we'd find some shopping.  We enjoyed walking around Cozumel, looking into all the different little shops there.  We didn't buy anything, but had a great time looking and enjoying the city.

a picturesque little garden!

love being a goofball with cori!

seriously, this tree was beautiful!

this is my sassy pose!
be it the ocean or a water fountain, i love being near water! 
 On the way back to the Dolphinarias, we stopped to get gelato.  I got mint chocolate chip (does anyone else hear Michael Scott from the Office whenever they say mint chocolate chip?) and Cori got peach.  We got one last picture at the Dolphinarias- that's where the dolphins swim behind us- and then took a taxi back to the port.

I know this is a long, picture-heavy post, but I've still got a few more to share. :)  We snapped some fun pictures as we walked back to our ship...

Cori was playing the color swap thing on our camera and got some fun shots...

Before dinner, we spent an hour or so on the Lido deck, overlooking the water.  It was so relaxing to sit and read and chill after a busy day... for those who know me well- or really, who know me at all- know that time spent reading a good book (I was reading The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks) is pretty much heaven for me, especially when you pair it with a beautiful setting and being near Cori.  Then, we spent a little time in our room, showering, relaxing, and getting ready for dinner.

haha, this picture is supposed to be of our little towel creature, but it's rather fitting that i'm in the background, eating an ice cream cone.  i was also finishing my book- not long after he took this picture, cori came out of the bathroom, concerned because he heard me crying.  i had to reassure him that i was fine, it was just my book.  
we felt so swanky in our carnival bathrobes!
Then it was time for a late dinner.  During dinner, we enjoyed doing the congo line with our waiters and other fellow diners.  Afterwards, I told the people sitting next to us that Cori joining me for the congo line was proof that he loved me- being ridiculous in public like that is much more my scene than Cori's!  After dinner, we briefly went to a huge deck party.  Sadly, I was exhausted, so we didn't last long.  Cori laughed at me because after enthusiastically dancing for about one song, I started fading, and fading fast, and my dancing became pretty minimal.

had to take a picture of my good-looking hubby in his blazer

okay, clearly not the best picture of me, but i include it simply to underscore what i was saying before about wearing as many different outfits as i could.  i spent the morning in shorts and a tank top over my bathing suit, the afternoon walking around cozumel in one dress, changed into a different dress for dinner, and then after dinner put on this one... and wore it for less than an hour before i realized i was ready for bed.  ridiculous? yes.  but the truth is, i'm pretty proud of myself for fitting so many different outfits into such a short time period.

party on the deck!
Seriously, I loved EVERYTHING about this day.  It was just so wonderful!