Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend in Review

Disclaimer: I just read through this post and realized it sounds pretty boring to the reader. It wasn't in the least bit boring though, guess my creative juices are all dried up. Sorry in advance. Feel free to skip the reading or today and come back tomorrow.

I am blessed to love my job so I don't find myself working for the weekends...but that doesn't mean that I don't absolutely love it when they come around.

This past week, I have been shedding more and more tears. I am thrilled to be moving. I know it's what I'm supposed to be doing, but it still bring a lot of sadness knowing that the "Atlanta" chapter of my life will soon be coming to an end. It seemed a little odd that I would make the drive over to Birmingham for the weekend with all of my Atlanta sadness, but I had been planning on going to Birmingham so that's what I did. Turns out, it was just what I needed!

I made it into Birmingham around 2:00 and had a few hours to by myself at my new house. I unloaded my car, (trying to take a load of stuff each time I drive over to make the big move more manageable) went for a walk around my new neighborhood and then met a friend for dinner. One interesting thing about this friend is that she is going to be leaving Birmingham in a few weeks moving to Atlanta. It was great to talk about moving with her and all of the things that we're going through. I was relieved to hear that I'm not the only one crying my eyes out even though I am happy about the future and know that it's the right thing.

I spent a nice relaxing evening at home on Friday and then stayed up into the wee hours of the morning talking to one of my new roomies. I went to bed incredible thankful.

Saturday morning was set aside to accomplish some chores. I had a bridesmaid's dress to get fitted for and some returns to make. Then I met up with my sisters, Cile and Kara to shop at The Summit. We didn't have much luck with the shopping so decided to use the money we had saved to get lunch at Cheesecake Factory instead.

The sisters left for the pool...I passed because I had already showered and didn't feel like having to shower again. That decision turned out to be a good one because it left me with a free afternoon to see some other family...grandmother, great aunt, aunts, uncle, cousins. One thing's for sure, when I move over to Birmingham next month family will be in abundance, and I'm excited about that.

Saturday night my new roomie and I went to Jim 'N Nicks for dinner. Best service EVER. We told the guy that we were in a hurry because we wanted to go see a movie and he had our check on the table before we got our food. He was so fast that we had more time to kill before the movie, or at least we thought we did. We made a quick run through Barnes and Noble and then headed over to get the tickets, only to find out right before we got to the front that it was sold out.

Back to the house we went to watch America's Junior Miss. We were wide awake after it was over though so decided to make our way over to the theatre for the late night showing of The Proposal. I'm so glad we did. The movie was great and we even ran into some people that we know.

Sunday was another great day. One of the things that I'm most looking forward to about moving to Birmingham is being able to walk to church. Yes, I said walk. The church is only a 5 minute walk from my house. Something about that just screams small town and I love it! I made the walk over and enjoyed a great morning worship service and good teaching and fellowship in the Sunday School class that I attended. Yes, you read that right. The church that I am attending has SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES! WOOHOO! I haven't been to Sunday School in so long because the church I currently attend doesn't have adult classes.

The day continued to get better after church because I got to help my best friend and her hubby move into their new place. Actually, I didn't do much moving because the majority of that was already done. One thing wasn't done...the closets. I had been looking forward to organizing that closet all weekend! I spent about 2 hours organizing Natalie's closet and loved every minute of it. The clothes are all hung facing the same direction and sorted by type and color. I don't know how long they will stay that way, but thankfully I will only be a short 15 minute drive away so I will able to reorganize as needed.

---Side note, if you need a closet organized, let me know. I would be happy to do it! My mom also likes to organize closets. I guess it's genetic.---

Other highlights to the time with Natalie and Scott included a trip to Wal-Mart for some organizational and kitchen essentials, cheering Scott on as he successfully installed new faucets in the kitchen and bathroom and partaking in a delicious dinner prepared by Natalie.

All of that made for a great weekend, but there was one other thing that happened to send it over the top.

I took a break in the middle of the closet organization to see a very special girl. My niece. I hadn't gotten the chance to see her or talk to her in over a month and let me tell you, I have missed that girl. I'm pretty sure she had been missing me too because the running leap and the squeal that came out of her mouth when I walked into the Panera were priceless. The meeting was brief because they had to get back on the road, but I will take brief over nothing any day! It also helps because I know that I'll get to see her on Friday for the big 4th of July celebration.

I got in late last night/early this morning. The weekend is officially over. Good thing I only have 4 days in the work week before the next one comes around

Another sad thing is that I don't have any pictures for this post. Not a single one. Not one of me with my new roomie...or one with my sisters...or one of the ROY G BIV closet...or one of my niece. Bummer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Let's Start At The Very Beginning

For as long as I can remember, I have loved watching the Junior Miss scholarship program. Over the years, I have had the chance to watch all of the different levels...local, state and national. Thanks to the world wide web, I have just finished watching America's Junior Miss. I am shedding a few, or quite a few, tears. In fact, I have been crying pretty much since the start of the program.

It would be understandable if I knew someone that was competing, but I don't. Then again, I didn't know anybody competing 7 years ago either and I cried my eyes out then.

Seven years ago, I was sitting in the den with my mom watching America's Junior Miss on TV. We had paper and pencil in hand so that we could write down our favorites and from the moment she introduced herself, I knew who I wanted to win...Mississippi. I don't have that piece of paper anymore, but I would be willing to bet that I wrote Mississippi with 5 stars beside it.

I was delighted when the field was narrowed down and the young lady from Mississippi was included. That meant that I would get to see her do the physical fitness routine...and her talent...and answer the interview question during the poise portion.

As the program progressed, she continued to get more stars and there was no doubt in my mind that she was the one I wanted to win. Mom liked her too. There was no doubt...we were fans of Mississippi. There was another round of narrowing down and Mississippi was still there. I knew she was going to win. They announced the 4th, 3rd and 2nd runners-up. We were down to two contestants...Mississippi and Oregon. I was practically jumping out of my skin. Two seconds later, Oregon, not Mississippi, was selected as America's Junior Miss. I cried a few tears, or a few more that a few, tears. Tears over a girl that I had never heard of or seen before.

It wasn't that I didn't like Amy Kerr from Oregon...but that young lady from Mississippi had grabbed my attention from the introduction and my heart just ached.


Flash forward to the fall of the next year. I was a freshman at The University of Alabama. During the first weeks, my roommate and I pretty much left our door open all of the time. It seemed that it would be the best way to get to know the others on our hall. One day, I was sitting on the bed in my room and someone with a familiar face walked by, but I couldn't figure our where I had seen her. The next day, the same familiar face went by, but this time I almost started hyperventilating because I was pretty sure I recognized who it was. After a quick search of the dorm, my hunch was confirmed. Yes, was the girl that I had cheered for and cried over a little over a year ago...Mississippi's Junior Miss.

Since she was pretty much a celebrity to me, there was no way that I would be talking to her, but I could smile, and smile I did. I'm pretty sure I smiled every single time she walked by. Then one day, that sweet girl from Mississippi asked me if I wanted to go to TCBY with her and life as I knew it totally changed.

Don't worry, I didn't tell her that I had cried over least not immediately...I waited a good 6 months before divulging that little bit of information.


7 years after seeing her on TV and 6 years after meeting her, I still can't get over the fact that Mississippi's Junior Miss in 2002...Natalie Pope my very best friend.

This blog is full of stories that include her and reasons why I'm thankful for her, but tonight as I sat here---watching AJM, thinking back on the memories and crying, I realized that the story of how we became of my very favorites...has not been blogged about before. So, there it is. Just another reminder that there is no "right way" to meet a friend.

Part of me can't believe I'm posting this picture...goodness, I look terrible and we look so young. We have taken so many pictures over the years, but I do believe this was the first one, so that's why I'm posting it here. Am I right, Natalie? Is this the first picture?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Top 3: Reasons I Love Carpool

Last week, I was talking with a mom and somehow, we started talking about the carpool lane. She hates it...I love it. In fact, I love it so much that I get there early just so I can sit there longer. If the line starts at 1:00, I want to be there by 12:45. Yes, I know it's hot, but I don't want the kids to have to wait long...I don't want them thinking I forgot about them just because I got stuck at the back of the line.

I don't love it for the heat, but there are lots of other great things about carpool.

1--Uninterrupted downtime. Sometimes I will make a phone call or clip coupons, but usually I use the time to do a little reading. Reading doesn't require that my computer be plugged in and since I'm parked for about 15 minutes, I don't have to worry about the person behind me honking to tell me to move up.

2--My eyebrows have never looked better. The truth of the matter is, I have never been good at tweezing my eyebrows. Sure, I love them to look all nice and clean...but I can never seem to find the right light/mirror combination. Waxing was my method of choice, but I'm trying to eliminate "extras" in my budget so I needed to go back to tweezing. A few months ago, I realized that both the rear view and the visor mirrors are great for this little chore.

3--Organized car. When I was in college and in the corporate world, it was pretty easy to keep my car clean. Sometimes I would have a few things sitting in my passenger seat, AKA command central, but pretty much, it was clean. I was the only one riding in there. Well now that I do the nanny thing, I can have anywhere from 1-3 children in my back seat at a time. We spend at least 30-40 minutes each day in the car together, so like any other "good nanny," I have books, small toys and games to keep them entertained. The carpool line is a great time to pull the things out, reorganize them in their bins and throw away any trash that has accumulated since the last clean out.

So...if you haven't liked the carpool line in the past, give it another chance. Grab a book, your coupons, some tweezers and a trash bag and get to loving the line!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Home...The Garden Shop

I LOVE flowers. Pretty much always have. The only problem is I do NOT have a green thumb, so any attempts at growing them myself have been a flop...and my budget just doesn't have the wiggle room for "fresh flowers."

Sometimes I walk into my room and think...if I only had some flowers, this place would feel so much more homey. Well, I'm not saying that this week. The sweet families that I baby-sit for gave me two beautiful bouquets on Saturday. Please ignore the fact that I'm not a professional photographer...these pictures don't even begin to show the beauty that is these blooms. The spring mix has the most gorgeous colors and the hydrangeas....well, they are pretty much one of my favorite flowers of all time.

Then to top it all off...I won some flowers as part of a blog contest. I'm telling you, people...blogging is incredible. I stumbled across Jill's blog about a month ago and have enjoyed getting to know her and her family. Just last week, Jill was celebrating the milestone of 1 year of blogging and decided to give her readers a chance to win prizes. I couldn't believe I won! The flowers were delivered to me yesterday and are absolutely gorgeous. I decided to share the flower love with my roommates, so these are sitting downstairs. I can't wait to walk in after work today! That vase is jam packed full with some of the pretties summer colors you have ever seen.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Woship Across The Web

There are lots of things that I have grown to love about Atlanta...lots of things I will miss.

How thankful I am that only two weeks after I leave, the church I currently attend and absolutely LOVE will be starting to make it possible to watch their entire worship experience online. Not just the sermons...the worship too! Woohoo!

Does this replace the call we have as Christians to fellowship with one another? No. Does this mean that I won't be looking for a place to worship when I get to Birmingham? No.

Does it make me happy that I will be able to participate in the same worship that my friends in Atlanta are participating in? Yup. Sure does. Does it make me happy to tell you that you can too? Most definitely.

So...mark your calendar. August 16. North Point Online.

North Point Online Promo from John on Vimeo.

Monday, June 22, 2009

She's Not A Hooker Anymore

I remember the first time I met Jill Hook. She practically lived at the sorority house her freshman year and since her sorority big sister was one of my closest friends we got to know each other real well, real quick.

So many of my favorite college memories include her, and almost all of my sorority memories do.

Note that sticker, Jill....what a fun night that was. Secrets and fun. Love it!

We sure did love to wear our matching pjs...sadly, I couldn't get the video to upload that you recorded when we were wearing this getup. I might just have to do a follow-up post!

Taking a break from our wedding dancing with Laura (the wonderful sorority big sis and fabulous friend)

As precious of a girl as she is, there was no question in my mind that I would be attending her wedding. Yes, it was only about a 30 minute drive, but I would have driven or flown anywhere to see that girl exchange vows with the Wes man.

Confidential to Jill:

As I watched you walk down that aisle on Saturday night, I got tears in my eyes. I remembered those nights that we stayed up late chatting and reading in the sleeping porch, the birthday celebrations, the meetings on the sorority roof and the late night trips to TCBY and Checkers. To top it off, even though you were plenty busy with school and fun, you still found time to be the best President's Assistant a girl could ever have! I'm so happy for you, Bean. You and Wes are perfect for each other. Have been from the beginning. Can't wait to see where life takes y'all. Hey, just think...years, YEARS from now, we just may find ourselves back at the Delta Zeta house...moving our girls in....exchanging "remember when" stories. Now that, my friend...that would be fun!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

I have already written a post today that used up all of my I will have to save the mushy Father's Day stuff for another time.

But, I couldn't let the day pass by without giving a little blog space to my Dad.

Yesterday, I found myself in a pool. Surrounded my children and 4 dads. Those 4 dads are in a different stage of life than my dad is. Those dads have young children. One of those dads has 3 girls, just like mine. Those dads were catching their kids as they jumped off the side of the pool...flipping them off of the rafts...throwing them into the deep end.

I had a flashback. A flashback to Fort Walton Beach...El Dad was doing the same thing. Like those dads yesterday, I know he was tired after throwing us the first 10 times, but he continued to do it another 50 just to make us smile and squeal with delight.

When I was a kid I had the greatest Dad ever...he came to watch my softball games, signed the perfect attendance notes from the Superintendent not as "Lynn Smith" but as "Dad," took me to the grocery store with him every Saturday, let me "drive" around the block after church, and made the best pancakes in the world.

I still have the greatest Dad ever, but I have a lot of new reasons why. He puts God first, my mom second and his three girls third. He showed me how to budget my money so that I don't have to worry even though in a few short weeks I will be jobless. He doesn't judge others EVER. He encourages my dreams. And...he makes the best pancakes ever.

Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you so much!!

A Baby-Sitter's Dream

A few weeks ago, Courtney and Katie asked if I had a free Saturday to spend with their families as a sort of good-bye before I made the move to Birmingham in August. If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you know by now that I absolutely ADORE these families. God really blessed me beyond measure when He placed them into my life. There was no question that I would be finding a Saturday to enjoy some quality time with their families.

Yesterday was the big day. Due to the intense heat, we decided to spend it at the pool. I was super excited to see the moms and dads and of course all of their precious little girls. I pulled up and Courtney met me at my car with a little scarf to tie around my eyes. As she tied, she explained that Ella and Emma Kate had prepared a little something for me and they wanted me to be blindfolded. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes already. The two little girls that I met before they were even a year old...barely doing much more than sitting up and clapping their hands...had prepared something for me.

We made our way to the pool house and Courtney told me to take off the blindfold. I did, and what I saw brought me to tears. Literally. Moms, Dads and children from four of the Atlanta families that I have been so blessed to know were there. In all there were 9 children...8 girls and 1 lucky boy named Will. Thank goodness Gabrielle ran up to give me a hug. Had she not, I probably would have stayed right there in the doorway and cried for a solid 5 minutes.

The whole pool day would have been enough, but in true "above and beyond" fashion, they showered me with flowers and gifts as well. My favorite of all was the scrapbook that they made me. Pages from each family with pictures and some of the sweetest words ever. Words like "you've made our marriage stronger"..."we're thankful for the Godly example you set"..."we pray that our daughters grow up to be just like you"..."our children always have so many fun stories to share about their time with you." Are you kidding me? I don't measure up to any of that! But...I'm going to be reading that little book every day!

As I was reading through the scrapbook this morning...because you know my emotions were too messed up to be reading that thing yesterday...I found myself just don't know. You may think I'm helping you and your family but that is only the half of it. I LOVE baby-sitting. I LOVE the kids. I LOVE the hugs. But, by giving me the chance to take care of your children, you are equipping me with all kinds of skills that I hope to be able use with my own children one day. As if that wasn't enough, the example you set and the advice you have given me about marriage and family and life is enough for me to be able to write a book and make a lot of money. So don't kid yourselves...I am the one that has been blessed these past two years!

OK...back to the fun that was the pool party. Out of the 9 children, 6 of them can talk. I probably heard Miss Lindsey 600 times yesterday and I LOVED it! There is just something about hearing a little boy or girl say "Watch me, Miss Lindsey"..."Catch me, Miss Lindsey"...and my personal favorite, "I love you, Miss Lindsey." We swam, jumped, ate, giggled, splashed, and played games for 4 hours. I was in heaven. The love I felt was overwhelming. I just can't comprehend it all.

Yesterday was a day that I will NEVER forget. A day filled with laughter and smiles and surrounded by some of the people that I love the most. It's true that I will be moving in 6 weeks, but the faces that make up the DeFeo, Douglas, Marshall and Moraitakis families will not be forgotten. The children that make up these families are truly a dream. They are full of spunk and love. Pretty much any time that I am taking care of any of these children I think to am I so blessed to be able to do this? These kids are great and their parents are incredible too. I'm beyond thankful for the chance to do life with these wonderful, Godly families.

I don't know who will have the pleasure of being the new baby-sitter for all of these families when I leave, but I do know whoever they are, they will be abundantly blessed. They will feel like they are one of the family. And...if you are one of the families in Birmingham that I'm going to be baby-sitting for...get ready. You have a lot to live up to!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summons to Smile

Two years ago I moved to Atlanta. I didn't know a soul. I started my first big girl job. I didn't know where to go to church. I spread my wings...farther than they have ever been spread.

Two years later, I have met some of the best friends a girl could ask for. I have been adopted by families. I have learned lessons in life and business from some of the brightest. I have found a church that I love for the worship and the teaching.

Six weeks from today I will be moving. I will no longer be an Atlanta resident. I will be a Birmingham resident.

I know it is the right move...but I am still sad. Sad to leave behind the friends. Sad to leave behind the families. Sad to leave behind the experiences.

This is going to be a hard move. It's not like high school when everyone leaves for college...or college when everyone leaves for a job. I'm moving...others aren't. The road is coming to a fork and we will be walking on different paths.

I was thinking about that earlier this week...shedding a few tears. Then I checked the mail and found this.

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Yes...that would be a summons for Jury Duty. I smiled. Good thing I'm moving.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nashville...CMA Festival Part 4

We woke up on Sunday a little bit sad. Our vacation would be coming to an end super soon...but not before we packed the day full of fun.

We started things off at church with Caroline and Sarah. Definitely not the traditional church building...but the worship was authentic and the teaching was Truth to the core. I'm still processing a lot of what was taught...maybe a blog post in the future. Before we left, we had to take a few pictures with Caroline...our favorite Nashville night nurse and Nashville hostess. Confidential to Caroline...Christen and I are already plotting our next visit so get that room ready!

The afternoon offered lots of good music, so after church we made our way over to the riverfront stage. Josh Gracin, Joe Nichols, Collin Raye, Darryl Worley, Gloriana, and Eli Young Band all serenaded us while we relaxed on our towel and soaked up the sun. In my opinion, it was one of the better lineups at the river.

After the Eli Young Band finished up, we had just enough time for a little sustenance and shopping. Sustenance first...Hard Rock Cafe style. Yes, I know that makes two days in a row..but we were with Blake and Molly and couldn't resist the ability to walk right in. The food was yummy and there were plenty of options for us to get something different.

With our tummies full, we were ready to get our shopping on. Christen and I both got some really cool prints from Hatch Show Print. HSP is one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America. Their printing is very distinct and they do it all on site. I can't wait to get my prints framed and hung somewhere! We still had about 3o minutes before we had to make our way over to LP Field so we grabbed a Nashville Housing Guide and flipped through the pages. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

As expected, the final night featured some of the best. Miranda Lambert, Montgomery Gentry, John Rich, Taylor Swift, Jack Ingram, and Kenny Chesney and a surprise appearance from Sugarland. Sidenote...Sugarland...INCREDIBLE entertainers! Here's a little snipit from their hit, "It Happens." Again...sorry for the poor video skills and the heinous southern accent.

Trip in review: Walked a whole lot...ate some great food...purchased some fun things to remember the experience...enjoyed time with friends: old, new and newer...listened to great music for 4 straight days.

Maybe it was because it was my first real "big girl" trip that I have taken. Maybe it was because I paid for all of it using my hard earned money. Maybe it was because I got to travel with one of my favorite people in the entire world. Maybe it was because I was able to spend 4 full days in my favorite city. Maybe it was because I got to see one of my favorite new friends. Maybe it was because I got to see and hear some of my favorite singers and songs. A lot of maybes...but all of those maybes in such perfect proportion added up to the best vacation I have ever been on in my entire life!

And...I can't wait to do it all again next year! That's right. Christen and I have already purchased our tickets for CMA Festival 2010! Don't be too can have the vacation of your life. Just head on over to the website and purchase while the seats are still incredible!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nashville...CMA Festival Part 3

After getting up early and staying up late for a few days, we decided to take it a little easier on Saturday. We slept in and then relaxed at the hotel for he morning and made it over to the Riverfront a little after lunch so we could hear Emerson Drive. This turned out to be a good decision for many reasons. The band was excellent...and we ended up meeting some great friends. We shared sunscreen and a place to sit with Blake and Molly and then found ourselves chatting with them and going to dinner with them as well. Then we later found out that Blake had a little connection at Hard Rock Cafe' so we didn't have to wait in line...a blessing in the sweltering heat!

The lineup for the evening concert was a stacked one. Josh Turner, John Michael Carroll, Trace Adkins, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Wynonna and Naomi Judd and Martina McBride.

I'm a sucker for anything acoustic. John Michael Carroll did a little acoustic set and sang "Where I'm From." Being the small town girl that I am, that is one of my favorite songs of all time and he was incredible.

It only got better when the Judds came out. Pretty sure that I felt like I was at a big church revival when Wynonna sang "I Can Only Imagine" and I definitely had tears in my eyes when they lead the crowd in "Love Can Build A Bridge."

Then Martina closed out the night and I could hardly contain myself. Her vocals. Good golly. Incredible. I had forgotten how much I love Martina and could hardly wait to get home and purchase her new CD off iTunes. She sang the classics "Independence Day," "Anyway"and "This One's For The Girls" and then some of her new ones "Ride" and "I Just Call You Mine"---one day somebody will sing this to me! I've already purchased her newest CD, Shine. Go to iTunes. Buy it for$9.99. Totally worth it.

Just have to post a Martina video...I apologize in advance for the massive shaking. I was trying to enjoy the concert and video at the same time. I also apologize for the obnoxiously southern voice that you hear every now and then. What can I say...I am from south Alabama and my southern accent is exaggerated to the extreme when I am singing country music.

When we were in Nashville, the 4 days seemed to fly that I'm trying to write about them they seem to be taking FOREVER! Tomorrow will be the last little installment...definitely some great stuff.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nashville...CMA Festival Part 2

It's true that we didn't get in until 3AM, but that didn't mean that we would be sleeping the day away. Nope...not us. We had pancakes to eat! Last time we were in Nashville, we met Caroline at Pancake Pantry for a super yummy breakfast. One bite and it became our favorite so there was no question that we would be visiting there this time. Once again, the sweet potato pancakes did not disappoint...but this time I remembered to get the short stack so that I would be able to eat another meal later in the day! We met lots of fun people while we were waiting in line and eating. I think my favorites were the group of ladies from Boston. One of them was the Mom to a girl getting married next month...the other two were her Godmother and Aunt. They were so cute with their northern accents, matching shirts and cowboy hats.

After a yummy breakfast we decided to wander in some of the cute little shops in the area. We did our part to stimulate the Nashville economy..especially in Pangaea. Adorable shop! I got a much needed clutch to replace the one I've had for a few years that is on its last leg and also picked up a little engagement gift for a she just needs to get engaged!

Yummy food and shopping made us a little tired, so we took ourselves to the outdoor stage, spread our our blanket and took in the music. My personal favorite was Gabe Dixon Band. Love them. Loved getting an autograph and picture taken. Loved the free diet coke and hotdogs they gave out.

The concerts each night didn't start until about 8:00 so we had some free time after GDB finished up. We used that time to go on a boot hunt. My boots had been around for quite some time and were in need of replacement. We found a great deal on boots...Christen's great deal cost a lot more than mine, but nonetheless, we both got our boots for more than 50% off.

With about an hour to kill before we needed to make our way over to LP field, we decided to take our new boots over to Wildhorse Saloon....the home of the line dancing lessons. We shared an appetizer and enjoyed the music in the cool air before making the trek over the walking bridge with the other 50,000 folks for the concert.

It was a pretty packed group with Jason Aldean, Rodney Atkins, Luke Bryan, Lady A, Jake Owen Little Big Town and Zac Brown Band. Kidrock also made an appearance, but Christen and I were worn out after a second evening with some of the people in our section and didn't really care to hear Kidrock so we left early.

That brings me to the people in our section. goodness. To some extent, it was fun to sit with the same people each night. We got to know them...recognized them when we were out and about during the was fun.

My personal favorites were father/daughter/friend group from Connecticut that we lovingly called Connecticut that were sitting behind us. They made the trip down for the four days and soaked up every minute.

There was also a fun pair of sisters that sat beside from DC and the other from SC. They were about our age and were perfect concert friends.

Sadly, that pretty much ends the goodness from our section. Directly in front of us was a family plus some significant others....Mom, Dad, daughter/boyfriend, son/girlfriend. They were characters to say the least. About every other song they were getting up to take a family smoke break! When they were actually sitting in their seats, they hurt our ears with all of their obnoxious whistles. I seriously thought I was sitting behind the whistle club.

Finally...last but certainly not the best....we have Penny and crew. Actually, we don't know her name, but Christen and I lovingly named her Penny because upon meeting her she quickly told us that she has had pneumonia and wasn't feeling too good, but couldn't miss the CMA Festival because she has come every year. Penny, along with her mother and friend did their best to talk our ears off. Being the non-includer that I am, I was pretty good at tuning them out, but I also didn't want to be rude. We found out rather quickly that Penny had the inside track with quite a few people....her mom taught Blake Shelton, a friend knew Miranda Lambert. The good thing about all of that is Penny and posse were backstage on the last night so we were able to enjoy the concert in peace!

We got in bed at a reasonable hour on Friday....actually, I guess it was Saturday because it was around 1:00AM.

Half of our fabulous trip is over. :( But the last two days were pretty incredible! Part 3 tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nashville...CMA Festival Part 1

After we visited Nashville a few months ago, Christen and I pretty much decided that it was our favorite town and quickly began looking for a reason to go back. Enter CMA Music Festival...a four day concert series with the best of the best as well as the up and comings.

Last Wednesday my roommate and I packed our suitcases with our best country music outfits, hats and boots and made the 4 hour drive from Atlanta to Nashville. Despite leaving at 9:30 PM, we were wide awake and only had to stop once because in my rush to leave, I forgot to eat. Whoops! By the time we got into Nashville the front desk was closed...thank goodness for the courtesy phone. Many apologies to the front desk lady that was woken from her slumber to check us in.

We got up around 8:00 the next morning so that we wouldn't miss any of our favorites that were performing in the morning. There were things going on all day....singers that have been around forever and ones that are still waiting for their big break. It was so fun just sitting on our towel, soaking up the sun and listening to good music. There were so many singers/groups performing each day. Some of the highlights from Thursday were Diamond Rio, Neal McCoy, Heidi Newfield, Phil Vassar, Chuck Wicks, and Gretchen Wilson. The best thing about it was all of the day events were FREE!

After a few hours of music we decided to make our way to the convention center to see if we could see any famous folks. We were in luck....Naomi, Chuck Wicks, Reba and Carrie Underwood were all signing autographs. We weren't lucky enough to get the autographs but did get some good pictures.

A festival isn't a festival without booths. I was blown away with all of the tents, booths, buses and trailers lining Broadway. Samples and giveaways everywhere you looked. Good ones too...way better than the ones at Sam's Club. On a sidenote...when I was a kid my parent's used to take us to Sam's to roam the aisles for samples to eat for dinner. They would have been proud to see me stockpiling the Honey Bunches of Oats cereal so I would have breakfast and snacks during the four days!

A girl can't live off cereal alone...actually, I probably could...but we had a better offer for dinner. My sweet friend, Caroline, lives in Nashville and she and her friend (who is now my friend, too) joined us for dinner before the big night concert that evening. It was such a treat to see her after being apart for a few months. Good food, great fellowship.

Each day culminated with a big concert at LP field. Since we had the fancy 4-day passes, we had great seats. Brooks & Dunn started if off followed by Reba McEntire. Then, half-way through Reba, the announcer came out made everybody clear out of the stadium into the concourse because of bad weather that was about to come through the area. An hour and a half later we were still sitting in the concourse and not a single drop of rain had dropped from the sky. After a nap and another hour wait, the weather had moved through and we were told the concert would start back in about 30 minutes. Let me just say, it was totally worth waiting out the 3 hour rain delay. Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley were incredible! The concert wrapped up at about 2:30 AM.

We were making our way to our car when I heard someone screaming my name...out of all the 25,000 people at the concert, we ran into Caroline and Molly on the way out. Super fun. Being the 4-Day-Passers that we were, we had a great parking spot, so we took them to their car...and had a little impromptu birthday celebration for Caroline. Happy 23rd, my friend!

We got back to our hotel around 3:00 AM. That made for the second day in a row that I got into bed in the wee hours of the morning. Good thing we didn't come to Nashville to sleep because we sure didn't get much!

Check back tomorrow for Day 2...and a complete description of the characters people that sat around us during the concerts each night.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sweet Caroline

Without a doubt, I have been abundantly blessed with some of the best friends a girl could ask for. As I've gotten older, friendship has become one of my favorite things. There is not just one path to friendship. Some friends I've known for my entire life, literally. Others have only recently entered into the picture. The thing that intrigues me is that in the world of friendship length does not equal depth.

Enter Caroline. The subject of this little post and the reason I know that length does not equal depth. I met this precious friend only 8 months ago. She was one of the bridesmaids in my best friend, Natalie's, wedding. I had heard about her for months, but it was instant chemistry when we met that day to try on bridesmaid dresses. She is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met. She is totally full of life and exudes her love for her Heavenly Father in everything she says and does.

Caroline...Natalie (the one that made this friendship happen) and me enjoying fun times at the beach in our pjs

The relationship went to an even deeper level a few months later when we shared a room at the beach for a little girls' weekend. Nothing brings two girls together like a love for good pajamas and the sharing of dreams while drifting off to sleep. I was beyond sad when we had to part ways but just kept reminding myself that we would get to see each other in less than a month for the big wedding.

A 3 hour car ride and another shared room later and what I had known since that first time I saw her was confirmed. Friends for life. We've shared many laughs, tears, dreams, fears...a lot more than most people who have only known each other for 8 months and have never lived within 4 hours of one another would typically share.

Since the wedding she has graciously hosted me and my roomie in her home city of Nashville...rolling out the red carpet with a fabulous place to stay and a list of the best places to eat and sites to see.

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Caroline is one of my favorite threads in my friendship tapestry. The Lord...The Grand Weaver...knew exactly what He was doing when He wove Natalie and Caroline's threads together. I'm thankful for that...but I'm even more thankful that His plan also included weaving all of our threads together.
Well, today is Caroline's birthday. It actually worked out that I'm in Nashville for a few days, so I have gotten to celebrate with her...what a blessing. It has been fun celebrating her, but in true Caroline fashion she has totally helped to breathe life into my tired soul.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for your goodness. Thank you for your willingness to provide us with exactly what we need. Thank you for providing me with such a sweet friend in Caroline. Through watching her, I have learned how to be more generous. I have seen what it looks like when you live a life that is totally focused on You and on sharing Your love with others. Her life has provided me a wonderful example of what selflessness looks like. I ask that you would help me to never stop learning from her example. Today, on her birthday, Lord, I ask that you would rain down your blessings on her life by the bucket full. Hold nothing back...and then sit back and watch what she does to advance Your Kindgom.

Happy Happy Birthday, sweet Caroline! I love you more than an extra big hug could even begin to express. These past 8 months have been some of the best of my life. I've loved sharing them with you! I can't wait to see where life takes us!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Great Debate...Mascara Style

I have known for a few weeks that my mascara was coming to its end. Normally, I would just make a quick stop at the drug store and pick up my staple, but I've been using the same kind for about a year or so...L'Oreal Voluminous, a kind that I have LOVED...and it seems that my little eyelashes have become immune to its wonderfulness.

I'm not the expert on makeup. I pretty much wear the same stuff all day, every day. I don't have a casual "day" look or a fancy "night" look. I can barely apply the basic stuff, people. One thing I do know is that there are some people that LOVE makeup. So, I decided to ask the twitter and facebook world what kind of mascara to use.

Let me tell you, some people are PASSIONATE about their mascara. For that, I'm thankful! I now have a list of about 10 to try. Of course, that left me with the problem of picking which one to try first. I was able to eliminate some of them because I was working all day yesterday and not close to the mall. This left a handful of drug store options. I could eliminate one because it was the one I had used previously. With three options remaining, I decided to go with the one worn by the person that has the best eyelashes ever!

I met Mary a little over a year ago when we joined the same Bible study group. Her makeup looks great all day, every day---quite different from mine---and she has GORGEOUS eyelashes. So, when I read her response to my call for mascara suggestions, I knew I had found a winner.

I LOVE CoverGirl Volume Exact! It's in a maroon tube. It makes lashes really full and it separates perfectly. Let us know what you pick. :-)

Friends, she is right. This mascara is like a dream come true for my lashes. No clumps, nice and dark, extra volume, and it separates the lashes so it looks like I have more than I really do. All of that happened with my amateur application...there's no telling what some of you beauty experts could do with that little tube!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Juice Plus

When I was in school, the food pyramid said that I should try to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Not the easiest, but doable.  Now, more and more research is suggesting we should be getting 7-13 servings!  I like fruits and veggies, but I don't have time to be eating 49-91 servings of them a week...much less the money!

Enter Juice Plus+® .  I first heard about Juice Plus+® about 4 years ago.  I thought it was a fad.  I was wrong.  Over the years, I've heard more and more about it...lots of families that I baby-sit for are JP families and quite a few of my friends have jumped on the JP bandwagon.  So when a friend asked if I would be interested in trying it, I decided to do a little research.  Let me tell you, JP is one of the neatest things out there!

I'm not a Juice Plus+® pro quite yet...the website has TONS of great info...but here are a few things that I found extra interesting that I don't want you to miss.  

  • Juice Plus+®  has been around for 16 years!  It is not a fad.  If you have some free time, watch the video.  It highlights a few of the families that have incorporated the JP line into their lives.  
  • Juice Plus+® is NOT a vitamin.  It is WAY better than vitamins.  They take WHOLE fruits and vegetables and remove the water and some of the fiber to make a powder.  When you take your little capsules each day, you are filling your body with the nutrients of 17 DIFFERENT fruits and veggies and even some grains!  17 people...that is HUGE!  I don't know about you, but I'm too poor to be eating 17 different fruits, veggies and grains each day!  
  • Juice Plus+®  is NOT a food replacement.  I remember when I first heard about it and I thought it was like the little pill that made Violet on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory turn into a blueberry.  Now I know that it is anything but.  Instead, JP is a complement to a healthy diet...a simple, convenient, and inexpensive way to add more nutrition from raw, organic fruits and vegetables to your diet, every day.   It is not a replacement!  It is just a bridge to help move you from what you DO eat to what you SHOULD eat.  

The website is great.  The science behind it is interesting.  Now it's time to put it to the test.  I'm going to be taking the capsules for 4 months and I'll be letting you know how it goes.  It seems easy enough.  Two fruit capsules in the morning with my breakfast and a glass of water and two vegetable capsules in the evening with my dinner and a glass of water.  I don't know how often I'll do recaps...but I will keep you in the know.  I've been told that your energy increases, hair and nails are healthier and skin looks better.  Can't wait!!

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.  Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you."

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see."  So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.  So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.  Daniel 1:8-17

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

They've Got Me Figured Out

A few weeks ago my bestest friend gave me a fun little out-of-the-blue gift.  We've known each other since my freshman year of college, so it was no surprise that the little gift was something I would love.  She knows that I can never have too many notepads.  She also knows that I love polka dots and things that are personalized.  This fun little gift fits all of those characteristics.

While it was super sweet of her to give me an out-of-the-blue gift, I had no plans of blogging about it.  That is, until I received something else a few days ago.  Another that I've only known for a few months...gave me this little surprise.  

The crazy thing is she didn't know that I have a little notepad that matches perfectly!  Apparently it doesn't take very long for my friends to figure out my taste!  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Oh the Irony...

The wedding I attended on Saturday was in Columbus, GA.  Instead of driving back home, my mom and I decided to make a weekend out of it by making the short drive to Auburn for the night.  Don't worry...we did not pick Auburn for it's football program.  The city was picked strictly for a great hotel deal!  

The positive to staying in Auburn was that when we woke up the following day we were able to visit with lots of other friends that had stayed in the city as
 well.  If I've said it once, I've said it 1000 times...I LOVE my home town, and the main reason is the people.  I realized that even more when I found myself thoroughly enjoying my time in Auburn.  In this case, the people made the town!

What's so ironic about that you may ask...well, there's not really irony in that.  The irony is all in this little picture.  

I was so busy getting my things together that I totally left my flip-flops at the door.  So, I walked around on Sunday in my wedding shoes.  Being in a college town, I'm sure people thought that I had been out late the night before.  Little did they know that my mom and I were enjoying the goodness of the great beds at the Marriott and were sound asleep before the night life had even really gotten picked up!