Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The Day That Changed My Life FOREVER 
January 27, 2015 

It was my senior year of college and I was pushing through the year to finish my 136 hour, 5 year, degree in just 4 years. I had my blinders on and I was ready to get out into the real world and teach, something I had been DYING to do and could literally not wait to have my own band and classroom.

It was late November/ early December and I was the leader and music director for the 3rd- 6th grade Children's Choir at Bethel Baptist Church in Norman, OK. I had spent the previous 2 years serving an internship with the Music Minister and had played key roles in the church such as Orchestra Director, music Secretary and much more but this was my first "rodeo" with little kids choir. After a few months I told Bro. Jerry Billingsley, the Music Minister, that I needed a "bouncer" so-to-speak to help control some of the rowdiness that is 3rd -6th graders.

Bro. Jerry and his wife had been looking and eventually they found a young single named Chris Davis who sang in the choir and asked him to come and help me on Sunday evenings. I will never forget the day he showed up. He was quite tall and lanky and his height seemed to quite down the kids and maybe even scare them. He helped me keep them under control for several weeks and we started talking more and more before and after each choir session. He began to look for me on Sunday mornings and even come and listen to the orchestra rehearsals to see me. Chris introduced me to all of his friends from the Singles Department and I enjoyed most of them. The singles went out to eat each Sunday afternoon for lunch and Chris invited me to several of these in which I took him up on the offer.

That Christmas of 2004 I remember telling my mom and dad about Chris but I told them that I didn't think the feeling was "mutual". When we arrived back in Norman from our Christmas vacations we picked up right where we left off and I could tell at that point that they could be something there... I just wasn't sure what it was. In mid- January Chris asked me out on a date on Sunday night at church and of course I said yes!

I was so excited for this date that my roommate, Ashley F, and I were screaming as I told her about the upcoming date... not to mention on the actual date night she went back to our sorority and spread the word like crazy. It was so nice to have such a supportive roommate and sisterhood to dream about the upcoming date (and eventually re-live the past 1st date) with. Love you girlies!

Thursday, January 27th came it was the day of our 1st date. Chris picked me up at my Norman apartment in his very nice AND CLEAN SUV. He came to the front door, took my arm and escorted me to the car where he then opened the door for me. We traveled to the other side of Norman to eat at Charleston's Restaurant. He was a true gentleman from beginning to the end of that meal. He pulled out the chair for me, stood up when I went to the restroom, and practically buttered my bread for me (Well, he tried to but I don't like butter... but I remember him trying to and me being swept off my feet by that gesture). After dinner we went to a movie to watch Meet the Fockers, which turned out to be a filthy movie and quite possibly the WORST first-date movie EVER. I can remember the experience like it was yesterday. Both of us were so embarrassed and even more so since we were on a date. Despite the embarrassment we were still holding hands by the middle of the movie and by the end of the movie we were laughing about the whole experience.

He took me back to my apartment where we sat out in in SUV for a few minutes while my roommate, Ashley, watched from the 2nd floor window. We laughed about the movie and reflected on the meal. He told me "I really enjoyed your company tonight and I would love to do it again sometime, just a different movie" and we both started laughing. He escorted me to the door where he give me a simple peck on the cheek and asked when we could go out again. I told him absolutely and we planned it for the following weekend.

I came in and almost immediately fell over from being weak in the knees... I know what you are thinking "Oh good grief" but really, I was head over heels at this point. I ran upstairs and replayed the whole evening to my roommate Ashley who was also giddy with excitement. Chris sent me an email that evening that stated how much he enjoyed our date and how he was looking forward to the following weekend.

The very next Sunday we were sitting in the congregation holding hands and acting like we had been dating for months. We went out the following weekend and the rest, as they say, is HISTORY. We continued to date for another 6 months and on July 31, 2005 Chris Davis asked me to marry him right there at Bethel Baptist Church where we first met and started dating. We got married on March 11, 2006 at Bethel Baptist Church and we have been together and living happily ever since.

Chris outside of Bethel Baptist Church in Norman in June of 2014. 

As I sit here and reminisce about that day and all of the emotions that went with I can not help but be grateful to God for this whole experience. I was and am so lucky to not only have found my one true love but also found him at such an early age. And now here I am 10 years later with the most amazing life a girl could ask for. I have a wonderful, loving husband who not only provides for me financially but emotionally as well. I have THE 2 most beautiful children in the whole world and they are thriving and doing remarkably well. I live in a gorgeous home and have more than what I need on a daily basis. My husband, family and I travel frequently and are truly blessed beyond measure! I could NOT BE HAPPIER at this current time. It is on a day like this that I am reminded how blessed I really am!

Thank You, Lord for these and many more continued blessings! I owe it all to You!

God is good... ALL the time!

Monday, January 12, 2015

L'auberge vs. The Golden Nugget

Quaint vs. Luxury 
January 2015  

Chris and I have visited many casinos in our 8 years of marriage but we met our favorite this past December as we enjoyed 3 glorious days at The Golden Nugget Casino and Resort in Lake Charles, LA. We had been to Lake Charles' other Casino and Resort, L'auberge back in March 2013 and were blown away by it at the time; however, The Golden Nugget seems to have passed L'auberge in nearly ever category. 

L'auberge du lac Casino and Resort- Lake Charles (March 2013)

The Golden Nugget- Lake Charles (December 2014)

There really is no comparison between the two.  While the L’auberge is nice, The Golden Nugget is extravagant to say the least!  The Golden Nugget offers a modern, luxurious room with a nice sectional living room set, a small breakfast table and chairs and an upscale bathroom featuring an extended garden tub, and a shower built for two.  The L’auberge gives little more than the standard hotel room fair which can be found at any Days Inn or La Quinta. The Golden Nugget is the CLEAR winner in this category.
This is only the beginning of the luxurious room that The Golden Nugget offered. 

This is L'aubrege's standard room... Oddly enough, because we used "comps" the time we went, we had double beds too! Haha!

                This category is difficult to judge since the pool area for The Golden Nugget was not finished when we stayed there.  The Golden Nugget’s pool looks like it will be amazing in both style and leisure.  It is large, multi-tiered and accompanied by a large hot tub.  It is said to be heated and should have a lazy river.  The L’auberge had a decently large pool area complete with a large family pool, several hot tubs, a lazy river with inner tubes and bridge crossings, a fenced-in adults only heated pool and a swim-up bar.  It delivers, as promised, and is a huge benefit of the resort.  Both casinos had beaches and marinas, neither seemed to be advantageous over the other.  The L’auberge is the winner here, thus far!

A view of the L'auberge Lazy River from my inner-tube! 

A complete view of L'auberge's Pool/Beach/Lazy River scene! It is EPIC!

A view of The Golden Nugget's Pool area, expected to be complete in March 2015!

                Inside, The L’auberge resembles a great lodge, complete with walls resembling a log cabin and giant fire places welcoming guests.  The ceilings are nondescript and are of moderate height.  The casino itself is dark for a casino, symmetrical with the glow bar in the middle of the casino floor.  The Golden Nugget has a much more Vegas style look and feel to it.  With High Ceilings, exotic decorations, bright lights, and opulence, it is the clear winner in this category.  The marble floors and plush carpet compliment the fine attention to detail found throughout the design of the décor. Keeping in mind that we visited The Golden Nugget just 12 days after it’s “Soft” Grand Opening, it still was the hands down winner in this category!

One of the main hallways inside The Golden Nugget. 

The hotel Main Lobby desk inside The Golden Nugget. 

The L'auberge nicely decorated for Christmas (December 2014)! 

They participated in Christmas decorations whereas The Golden Nugget did NOT! 

A dark main hallway inside L'auberge du lac Casino and Resort.

The feel was much more cramped and log-cabin feel! 

                Both casinos had similar shopping scenes with clothing and candy stores.  Neither were anything to write home about, especially for the middle class such as us!  The Golden Nugget, being owned by Landry’s, had a mix of familiar and upscale restaurants.  We did not eat at Landry’s seafood, Grotto, or Saltgrass steakhouse as we have easy access to them at home.  We did eat at Lillies (Asian cuisine) and The Buffet.  Unfortunately, we did not find time to eat at Vic and Anthony’s, Cadillac Bar and Cantina Mexican Grill or the Claim Jumper. L’auberge has several restaurant options and we enjoyed Jack Daniel’s Bar and Grill the last time we were there but it was NOTHING in comparison to the many high-class cuisine options that were offered at The Golden Nugget. The Golden Nugget wins this category easily!

The "Gourmet" burger from Jack Daniel's Bar and Grill at L'auberge.

"The Nugget" sushi from Lillie's Asian Cuisine Restaurant at The Golden Nugget. 

Both casinos offered a great playing area full of both slot machines and table games but once again The Golden Nugget had more of a Vegas feel to it while L’auberge felt more like a Shreveport River Boat of some sorts. The center of the casino floor at L’auberge was really neat with the “High Rollers” room smack-dab in the middle while The Golden Nugget had more of a Party Pit style in the middle of their floor with several table games, a large two-sided bar and even an area for a live- band! Both casinos had excellent casino floors so this will be labeled as a tie.

 The "Bar 46" area inside The Golden Nugget casino floor.

It had a much more open concept to it! It felt less-cramped!

L'auberge's casino floor with wall to wall slots! 

The feel seems compact compared to The Golden Nugget. 

While playing at each casino you can aquire drinks as “comps” from the casino itself but The Golden Nugget had real bars within the casino floor which feature video poker games. This allowed the guest to play poker while sitting at the bar and watching football. For a couple of people who were far in the RED it allowed for a more enjoyable time than that of just walking around resort. The “comping” aspect of the experience has to go The Golden Nugget for the immediate effect; however, we have continuously received offers from L’auberge for complimentary hotel stays because of our previous play at their casino and resort. We have yet to be offered any of these comps from The Golden Nugget but that could (doubtfully though) change. At this time I would call the comps category a tie.

Chris's winnings from L'auberge in March 2013!

Unfortunately, we won more at L'auberge! BUT there is always next time! 

Both casinos and resorts are a great vacation for anyone who needs a 2-3 day getaway and has a few bucks to spare or burn. They  each are much nicer than any Shreveport casino and easily better than the “Western Most” I-10 casino such as Delta Downs. They each are true resorts and live up to their name and expectations of being a resort. However, I think The Golden Nugget can and will attract more people, even those of the non-gambling mentality, strictly because of it’s amazing décor, shopping and restaurants within it’s facilities! Chris and I had an AMAZING trip in December 2014 and we look forward to planning another trip in the very near future! 

Chris and I at L'auberge celebrating our 7th anniversary in March 2013!

Chris and I at The Golden Nugget in December 2014

God is good.. ALL the time! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Golden Trip

Living It Up in Luxury 
December 2014 

This December Chris and I were lucky enough to have a free weekend without the kids while my parents had them in Arp for an extended Christmas vacation. We debated how we would spend these 3 days without them since this was a "few and far between" type of situation but we decided that we would travel to Lake Charles and go to L'auberge du lac Casino. We had been to L'auberge before and absolutely LOVED it. In fact, for the past 6-8 months we had received numerous "complimentary stay" offers from L'auberge. Unfortunately when I called to take them up on this offered they informed me that it did not apply to "holiday weekends". I fought with them for quite some time but eventually decided we would take our money (literally) over across the street to the BRAND NEW Golden Nugget Resort and Casino. In fact, the Golden Nugget offered us a lower priced room without having to be a part of their "membership" club. We were so excited to see the highly acclaimed resort and compared it our previous experience at L'auberge
Our 1st view from the Lake Charles I-210 bridge.

Arrival and Room
We arrived at The Golden Nugget around 3pm which was an hour prior to the marked 4:00pm check-in time. I was curious to see if we would be able to check-in and get in to our room but we had no problem. From the minute we stepped inside the doors we were highly impressed and was left in awe.

Outside this beautiful resort! A 5 Star in my book! 

A view of the pool, which was not yet opened, and expected to open in March 2015. 

A view of 2 of the 7 different restaurants inside this resort!

We were floored by the hotel lobby and resort on the lower level but it was topped off by the remarkable and amazing "beach" view room we had. This was the best hotel room I have ever stayed in and it was only 12 days old. In fact, one of the room service ladies told me we were the 2nd couple to stay in that particular room. 

The bathroom of this amazing hotel room. 

A view from the entrance of the room... The sectional was amazing for lounging and reading books.

A view of the bed... which was incredibly comfortable I might add!

The room had an eat-in bar/ booth.
That was one of the amazing aspects that completely blew me away!

A view of the amazing 6 foot bathtub and a curtain that you could pull back to see the rest of the room! SO COOL!

A view of the room from the balcony!

The view of the "beach"... That part might have been lacking but was still cool or in-land Louisiana!

Winner, Winner 
After exploring the room we decided to go and explore the hotel lobby and resort area of the property. We started by getting in line to join the "24 Karat" club that the Landry's company and The Golden Nugget offered all of it's guests. After this we went on to the casino floor to see what kind of trouble we could get ourselves into. Trouble was a perfect way to describe the next few hours. Much like L'auberge the Blackjack and Roulette table games had very high minimum bet levels. We were used to the $5 minimum bets from The Firelake Grand in Shawnee so the $15 and $25 minimums were really high for our blood. We started playing roulette and I quickly went down while Chris maintained even. That was until he went to the $25 blackjack table. Here he went down nearly $150 within 6-7 hands. Fortunately, in hind sight, there was not a spot at that table for me so I was not down as much as Chris was. We decided to stop the bleeding and go to dinner. 

Far East Dinner 
The Golden Nugget is owned by the same guy that owns all of the Landry's restaurants, the Galveston Pleasure Pier and so much more. So with that being said all of the restaurants were part of the Landry's franchise. We absolutely LOVE all of the Landry's restaurants and have 2 separate loyalty cards, which allow for you to accumulate points from eating at all of the Landry's properties. The Golden Nugget had several of our favorite Landry's restaurants including, Landry's Seafood, Grotto Italian Cuisine, Salt Grass Steakhouse and Cadillac Mexican Cantina but we opted to try something new in Lillie's Asian Restaurant. This was one of the best decisions of the trip as it was some of the best Asian and Sushi I have EVER eaten.

This restaurant was so cool and I only wish it was in Houston!

The Shrimp Lo-mein I ordered! It was INCREDIBLE to say the least!

Chris ordered the Shrimp and Scallop Udon bowl.
It is not what he expected but he LOVED it!

A sushi sampler platter that did not disappoint!

"The Nugget" sushi which was EASILY the best either of us had EVER HAD! Yummy!

More Luxury 
After dinner we headed on over to L'auberge Casino via the brand new boardwalk. This was awesome because it was only 1/4 of a mile from door to door and the weather was amazingly beautiful for a December night in Louisiana. We got to L'auberge and they had high table minimums too so we decided to play video Roulette for a $5 minimum hoping we could do well... BUT NO SUCH LUCK! Then we decided to head back to The Golden Nugget and explore it more and try our luck on some video poker. We watched some college bowl games as well as some Sunday Night Football and then called it a night and headed back upstairs. The room was once again mind blowing as this was the time we got to enjoy all of it's luxuries such as an enormous shower and bath as well as a large couch sectional to sit and read on or watch TV from the 40" screen. The modern decor and luxuries made it one of the best hotel room experiences of my life. I highly recommend staying at The Golden Nugget even if you are not a gambler!

Merry Christmas from the highly decorated L'auberge!

No Alarms Monday 
For the first time in a long time we did not have to turn on our alarms NOR deal with our kids who are early morning risers and morning people. This made for a lazy and full relaxing morning. Chris decided to go for a jog, which turned into a 7 mile run thanks to a very foggy Louisiana morning and unfamiliarity of the resort. We went and tried to find some more LSU attire for Chris and the kids (No such luck oddly enough) and got Chick-fil-A breakfast. After we ate we decided to go to the highly acclaimed Coushatta Casino/ Resort in Kinder, LA which was another 40 miles and 50 minutes from our hotel. So many of my friends from school and elsewhere had spoke highly of this resort and even strangers that we talked to at The Golden Nugget said it was worth the drive because they had lower table minimums, looser slots and an overall great "Comping" casino. We drove to Kinder only to find it was not even as nice as the massive Firelake Grand in Shawnee. It was in fact an Indian casino but just like L'auberge and Golden Nugget it was not nice to us! We lost another whopping amount at $5 Blackjack BUT we did get a free $5 slot play (Which of course we lost).

The 1st look at Coushatta Casino... Looks JUST LIKE Firelake Grand (our home casino) in Shawnee, OK!

Rest and Relaxation 
We made our way back to Lake Charles and back to The Golden Nugget. Chris decided to go and try to take a nap while I went shopping at all of the boutique shops inside the Golden Nugget and L'auberge. I was not able to find anything within my budget this close to Christmas but it was cool to dream! 

Chicken Dinner- The BEST Casino Buffet 
We knew we wanted to try The Golden Nugget buffet because having been to many casinos in our last 8 years of marriage we had tried numerous buffets and classified them as so. This did NOT disappoint. In fact this buffet had several international options such as Mexican and Italian and a local favorite of Cajun. The Mexican food was perhaps the best and that is because the chefs work at both Cadillac Mexican Catina and the buffet. The same was true with the Grotto and Salt Grass chefs. This was amazing because it was like being able to go to ALL the Landry's restaurants at the same time. The price tag was steep at $26.99 BUT we did get "Landry's points" to earn multiple gift certificates which made it more enjoyable. 

This buffet also offered items such as prime rib, shrimp cocktail, crawfish stuffing, meatballs, lamb chops, cotton candy (yes they had an actual machine) and even Italian gelato. We stayed in the buffet for nearly 2 hours trying to enjoy it all but there was just not enough room. We were reminded of why we got so big in the first place. Needless to say we had a "double pink drink" (PLEXUS) day the following day.

A view of the amazing salad bar section of this buffet... Unfortunately, I have taken the "You don't win friends with salad" mentality when it come to buffets. Thank you Chris Davis!

They had enough cocktail shrimp to feed a small army!

The AMERICAN section which featured New York Strip steaks and Prime Rib!

The Cotton Candy machine... SO COOL! Especially on a buffet!

Mini Red-Velvet truffles... YES PLEASE!

Chris enjoying some Cotton Candy!

Loving EVERY minute of this trip!

See you in 60 days Louisiana 
We checked out of our hotel around 10am and headed to get breakfast and then make one final pit-stop before we headed back to the great state of Texas. Last trip we ended at The Isle of Capri Casino and I made back all of my losses. We were hoping for the same but that was not the case. Chris lost even more but I was able to win back some of my losses but not all of them. However, the craziest event happened while we were playing at the $5 blackjack table. There were thunderstorms everywhere and the casino lost electricity... not once but 5 separate times. It was crazy "LIDS ON, DECKS COVERED, CHIPS IN HANDS" the pit boss yelled. It became pitch black and it was literally hard to see anything. The 1st few times the generators came on but on time #4 the blackness lasted nearly 2 minutes. That is when the yelling started from other people playing at other tables. Chris and I were on a roll at this point so we decided to stay and play a little more. The lights turned off one more time before we decided to leave to try to beat any more of the thunderstorms on our 2.5 hour drive home. 

It was an amazing trip, despite our losses and we were incredibly impressed with The Golden Nugget. It, obviously, is not a place to take young children BUT it was a great getaway for tired parents. In fact, it was just what the doctor ordered for these two tired teachers and parents. In just 60 days we will be back in the great state of Louisiana headed towards New Orleans to board the Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas for our 9th anniversary cruise. Thank you Chris for treating me to this FANTASTIC weekend! I had a BLAST! I LOVE YOU! 

See you soon Louisiana! 
God is good... All the time! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Natalie Grace- The Performer

"Happy Birthday Jesus" 
Sunday, December 14, 2014 
My precious Natalie Grace- The Performer!

In December 2011 as I sat in the Mims Baptist Church orchestra pit playing in my first "Mims Christmas Celebration" performance I heard a sweet little girl sing "Happy Birthday Jesus" at the beginning of the program and began weeping thinking about how bad I wanted my then sweet 2 year old to one day sing that song too. Three years later and I sit on the front pew watching my now 5 year sing this song with all the joy in the world. 

In October of this year Natalie had her first vocal audition as she sang this song for the AWANA kids choir director and our minister of music. She did incredibly well but I was not sure what to expect as there were at least 10 other kids auditioning, some of which who were 2-3 years older than Natalie. A week or 2 passed and I figured Natalie was not chosen for the solo as I was not contacted by anyone. On Halloween Night at the Mims Fall Festival Ms. Kim, the AWANA Choir director, came up to me and offered Natalie the solo. I was so proud and thought it was one of the most proud moments of my life.... Little did I know the emotions that would come just 6 weeks later. 

Natalie practiced and practiced this sweet song over and over. We would practice on our way to and from school as well as nearly every evening before our bedtime rocking ritual. She was never shy and rarely missed a note of beat. We even had Mr. Bernard, the pianist at our church, make a recording of the song so we would have an accompaniment track for her to practice with. She began singing it during music time at AWANA on Wednesday evening and I got to cry each and every time she got up to sing. She was never nervous singing in front of her friend and did remarkably well each and every time. 

The night of the performance came and I was a nervous wreck. I have been performing ALL MY LIFE and I NEVER get nervous. I can remember 1 time getting nervous for one of my performances during my senior year All-State band audition and the nerves came more as they were posting the results than when I was actually auditioning with my saxophone. But Sunday evening my stomach was in KNOTS! I just wasn't quite sure how Natalie would react to a FULL audience. 

As the children came on stage just 40 minutes before the concert began Natalie came and sang her solo and did near perfect. The auditorium was at nearly 65-70% capacity at this time. Natalie stepped up to the mic and "belted" it out like she was Mariah Carey. She was as calm as she could be. I spoke to her afterwards and told her not to worry about the people looking at her and just sing her song for Jesus. She said "Oh mommy, I'm good. I'm ready to sing", She certainly was. 

As the moment came in the program for the AWANA choir to sing, I made my way from the orchestra pit to the front row pew where I would crowd the pastor to see my baby! Within the first few words she sang, I had tears rolling down my face like a baby! I was mouthing the words to her and she was just singing along like she was singing to Jesus. My heart was beating out of my chest, I swear but Natalie was as calm as she could be. The choir joined in with her and she turned to look for her Gigi Jackie and Grandpa and I continued to cry as my loving and supportive husband keeps recording her and rubs my leg for support and then hands me a tissue. The song ended with her saying "I love you Jesus" and her mommy continued to cry like a baby! 

Natalie Grace singing "Happy Birthday Jesus"!

Immediately after she finished I gave her the flowers I got for her and she gave me a big hug! I told I had never been more proud of her! And her response was "Do you think Jesus liked me singing to him?" But of course, Natalie Grace! He most certainly did! 

Natalie and Gigi Shirley after her singing!

The Davis Family- Christmas 2014

Aunite Allie and Nattie Grace after the performance!

Needless to say, I am ONE PROUD MAMA! I love you Natalie Grace and I will remember this song and performance for the rest of our lives! 

God is good... ALL THE TIME!