Thursday, October 29, 2009

29 and Holding

Guess who just turned old! My (pregnant!) BF, Emily, celebrated a birthday this week, and she is now the big 2-9! Okay, okay, she may not be officially old yet, but she is definitely oh-so-close.

Brad and I, along with some other friends of ours (and their next-door neighbors), Kris and Emily crashed Charles and Emily's house on Tuesday night to help celebrate. We came bearing dinner and cake, though, so I don't think that they minded us invading too much. Brad, being the amazing man that he is, created a delicious lasagna that was ready to bake when we arrived, so we could eat it fresh out of the oven. Kris and Emily carried a scrumptious salad across the lawn with them, and we had a great time enjoying the meal together. (Even though I somehow butchered the bread. Honestly, it's the easiest thing, and it was destroyed by the time I was done with it.)

Brad showed off even more of his awesomeness with a special birthday cake that he baked and decorated all by himself! (Watch out, Ace of Cakes; you've got some serious competition!) You know you're getting old when a single package of candles doesn't contain enough for your birthday... We had to use the 24 candles in the box to actually write out the number 29 for Emily to blow out. *cough*old*cough*

As you can see, her wish should be coming true any time now. She successfully blew out all "29" candles with one big breath. We'll see how many flames she blows out next year. Jokes were made about how she'll stay 29 for years to come. This year, she is officially "29 and holding."

Happy Birthday, Em! Love you bunches!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Continuous Twirls and Incoming Teeth

Have you ever seen anything cuter in your whole life?? Just look at those faces! This past weekend, Brad and I had the chance to join my dad in a visit with my brother's family, up in Illinois. I can't even begin to describe how much we've both missed our precious niece and nephew!

Rachel is 2-years-old, and she's definitely all girl. She absolutely loves all things princess. She would be completely content to live out the rest of her life in a princess dress. "Please, I can wear my priddy dress?? Please take a picture! Please, I can see it?" She twirled around and around (holding the dress with one hand, just like all the princesses do in the movies), saying "CHEEEEEEEESE!!!" the whole time for the pictures, and clearly loved being delighted in. That worked out just fine for me; I could have taken a million pictures of her little shining personality, and shown her every single one right afterward...

Clinton is already 8 months old! He's completely chunky, crawling all over the place, pulling himself up on everything, and even has a couple teeth peeking out of his grin! When he's happy, his whole face lights up. In general, he's pretty content to occupy himself, steal his sister's toys, and explore every inch of the room. (Unless he's sleepy, hungry, or poopy. Then he cries, screams, and screeches. Sheesh. He is such a baby!)

We had good intentions of carving pumpkins, so we girls headed out to gather some for the crew. Sadly, the regular pumpkin farm burned down, so a trip to the nearest pumpkin patch would have required quite a drive out of town. However, luckily, Walmart was busy price-matching, and they had some ginormous pumpkins on sale for $1.98 each! Can't argue with that deal! So we loaded up our cart (literally) with a giant pumpkin per person, and then a few additional small ones just for good measure.

Well, a regular 2-day weekend is just too short for a sufficient visit with the fam, and we didn't get the chance to actually carve our jack-o-lanterns before Brad and I had to head back to Tennessee. But don't fear! We definitely used the photo op to our advantage! Look at these two little darlings posing in our own pumpkin patch!

Of course, Brad, Chester, and I had to take advantage of the family photo as well. Duh.

It was such a blessing to get to spend some leisurely time with my dad, TJ, Jennie, and the kids. Usually, when we're together, it's for a reason, and whatever that reason is, it takes up all our time. But, this weekend, we were able to just hang out, visit, eat delicious Jennie-cooked meals, and love on the little ones. We're definitely going to have to make a point to plan more Just Because Visits. At the rate Clinton is growing, we'll need to go back next weekend to witness is first steps!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Live Action

So, we played with the camera while we were at the bottom of the waterfall. I'm kind of embarrassed to show you this one, because I look like a dork. (I was posing for the picture I thought Brad was taking.) But, Brad's too weird to not share it.

And I apologize for the sideways view. Now we know...

This one is a good (sideways, again - sorry) video of the actual falls. With this one, you can really see how fast the water was coming down! As well as the wind and the mist that totally soaked us. Oh, also look at the weird, life-like foam that was gathering at the bottom. It was super cool. Hope you enjoy. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Adventure for Two, Please

I'm going through a study of the book Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge with a few of my girlfriends. I'm not going to go much into the book, right now (that'll wait for its own post), but its subtitle is "Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul." The authors argue that one of the three core desires of every woman is to be part of an adventure. Well, I couldn't necessarily relate to this particular aspect. I'm not, in general, a very adventurous girl. Anybody who knows me, knows that.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and create an adventure-of-sorts for my husband and me to embark on. Besides, I know that Brad loves to do outdoorsy things, and would love for me to be more interested. And I love to spend time alone with Brad. This was a win-win-win situation.

So I texted Brad and asked if he would like to go hiking at Burgess Falls on Saturday. He quickly replied with a simple "sure." Over the next few days, we got more and more excited about our upcoming adventure. Neither of us have ever been to Burgess Falls, so it would be new for both of us. An adventure experienced together. Furthermore, we were going alone. We've been hiking plenty of times, but always with other people. It ends up being Brad and the boys leading the way for the girls and me who are following behind. We never actually have the same experience. I could not wait to be alone with my husband in the middle of God's glory, and observe Brad in the environment in which the Lord created him to thrive.

Saturday morning couldn't come soon enough. (Well, the actual morning came a little too soon. We were exhausted from the Casting Crowns concert the night before, and hit snooze a few dozen more times than we intended. Oh well.)

After layering on clothing and a conversation-filled, hour-long journey to the state park, we were thrilled to find that the river was exceptionally high due to all of Tennessee's recent rain.

We were definitely anxious to see their waterfalls in action. Burgess falls was actually a great choice for the marital hike, because it's a lot of bang for the buck! You get three waterfalls in less than a mile hike. One hundred feet from where we began, we came across the "First Falls." It doesn't take much to impress us, and we were loving it. The sound of the raging water was absolutely beautiful. It was our first glimpse of God's glory.

Brad and I took our time hiking the trail. We looked at various trees and plants, and all the many different types of mushrooms that were popping up everywhere, enjoying each other's company. Only a quarter of a mile further down the trail, we came upon the "Middle Falls."

It was marvelous. The horse-shoe shape reminded me of a mini Niagara Falls, which immediately reminded me of our honeymoon. (Yea!) Brad couldn't resist throwing a stick (or two or three) from the Over Look to see how far down it was, even though signs specifically said not too. Oops.

When we were finished playing and taking pictures of the Middle Falls, we proceeded on the next quarter of a mile to the "Big Falls." With a name like this, we had pretty high expectations. They were most definitely met! Here is our first view from the Big Falls Over Look. So beautiful!!

After a while of catching our breath that was taken away by the glory of it all, we took the trail down towards the bottom. We could actually walk right up next to the top of the falls. I couldn't believe they let you get so close. Brad continued to throw rocks, sticks, and leaves into the river so he could see how quick the current was. We kept trying to watch it fly over the edge, but it was too fast for us.

Then we went down the (scary) stairs, located right beside the waterfall, to the "bottom." Once we hit the ground, we could immediately feel the mist saturate our clothing. It was awesome.

Brad looked at me, then back at the base of the fall, and then back at me, and asked "Well? Are we going down there, or what?" Without much thought, I said, "If you are, I am!" After all, I was looking for an adventure, right? Here it was. There was no trail to the very base, and the rocks we'd have to climb over were slippery and dangerous! But, together we could do it. Bring. It. On.

We finally made it down, but I did need some legitimate help from my husband for the first time all day. We were automatically soaking wet. The wind and the mist was extremely forceful.

(*TMI Alert*) In the midst of all of God's creation, the wind, the water, the rushing sound, Brad kissed me. We held each other, and the whole world stopped moving. It was just us. Us and God, in the middle of His creation, glorifying His majesty. What an incredible moment!

Besides the super romantic setting, the view from the bottom was totally worth the risk it took to get down there.

After basking in the moment and risking the the life of my camera for some incredible shots and even some videos (to come soon), we climbed our way back up to safe ground. Together, hand-in-hand. We did it. Just the two of us. We went on an adventure, and we succeeded. And the uncanny resemblence to our first week of marriage produced some wonderful memories that we'll always remember.

Thanks, John and Stasi Eldredge, for giving me the confidence and desire to tap into that side of my soul, in turn allowing my husband to tap into that side of his soul. It truly is a blessing to genuinely see yourself (and your partner) as God created.

Have you ever truly felt like you're at one with God? Or seen the Lord shine through the one you love? Ever been on an adventure that's totally out of your comfort zone, but lived to tell about it? Well, then tell me about it. I truly hope that you have experienced the love, passion, joy and peace that I was able to capture this weekend. It's such a blessing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brownie Points for Brad

Speaking of concerts... Guess what Brad did on Friday! He totally surprised me with the best date ever!

I had plans to hang out with some girls Friday night. (Watch Dirty Dancing, really important stuff, you know.) He called me towards the end of the work day and said that he was sad he wouldn't get to see me that night, and wondered if I'd be willing to hang around my office a little bit later so that he could stop by and see me while he was in the area. Well, I'll never turn down an impromptu visit from my beau at the office, so I gladly agreed.

He showed up at 5:05... carrying a bag. I was thrilled to see him (in my favorite shirt) as always, but was a little confused about the bag he brought. He plopped it on my desk and declared that he had "brought some things I'd need for the night."

Uhhh... Huh? What would I need from him in order for me to watch my all-time favorite movie with the girls? I curiously perused the bag and discovered some clothes. I immediately recognized it as the dress and leggings that he had casually asked me to try on for him to see if he liked them together, the night before. (Hmm, how convenient.) Upon a little deeper exploration into the bag, I found two nonchalant concert tickets to see the Casting Crowns concert for that evening lying on the bottom!

What!?! I have been wanting to go to this concert forever! It has been constantly advertised on the radio; some close friends of ours were planning on going to see them (for the third time!); and the billboard on the way to work was reminding me every day how much wanted to go. Just that morning I had thought, "at least after tonight I won't have to hear about it anymore." And then here comes Brad with tickets out of nowhere! What a great surprise!!

And these weren't just any tickets. Oh no. These were tickets purchased the week after they became available, way back in June! Brad had kept it a secret from me for three months! And he had already called the girls to explain that I'd be missing out on the movie night, and to reschedule our (very important) viewing of the best movie of all time.

I changed into my "concert attire" (complete with accessories and shoes!), and we headed downtown for dinner at Demos' before walking to the Sommet Center. Our seats were awesome!! We were on the floor, section 3, row 7. Seriously, we didn't even have to zoom to take good pictures!

Matt Redmond was the opening act, and he was great. I didn't realize how many of the songs I am familiar with, he wrote! They had all the lyrics to each song displayed on the screens so that we could all sing along, and the sound of the crowd of 1,000's of Christians all coming together to sing praises to our Lord took my breath away.

Shortly after, Casting Crowns took the stage and blew us away with a remarkable show! Brad and I have been fans for a long time, and knew nearly ever song. We were so close to losing our voices from belting out the music along with the band by the end of the night. What a blessing to be surrounded by believers, unifying in worship.

The whole evening was wonderful. Anytime I get to spend time with just my husband, is great. Anytime he surprises me, I love it. Anytime we're at a concert, feeling the live music in our chests, we're happy. Anytime we're in the very middle of a giant group of Christians, we're truly blessed. What a great evening. Thanks, honey!

Have you ever been completely surprised? What's the best surprise (or attempted surprise) you've ever gotten or given?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Snow Patrol in the Fall

Brad and I enjoy music a lot. Nashville is a convenient place to live with that hobby, since there are concerts on every block. Our BF's, Charles and Emily love music, as well. Actually, that's pretty much an understatement. He's a musical engineer/producer and she's a singer/songwriter. So, really, they are all about music.

Last week, they had two extra tickets to the Snow Patrol concert. None of us were completely familiar with the band other than their one big hit, Chasing Cars, but we all knew we really liked that song, and we were totally pumped for the show. Not to mention, the Plain White T's opened for them, and we I absolutely love their big hit, Hey There Delilah and couldn't wait to hear it live.

So, Friday night, we headed downtown and enjoyed some scrumptious dinner at Rippy's before walking over to the Ryman Auditorium for the concert. It was super awesome. Both the Plain White T's and Snow Patrol were great shows. And it turns out, we recognized more songs from both bands than we thought we knew.

Pretty much, we would enjoy ourselves and have a super great time with Charles and Emily, regardless of what we do. Oftentimes, that includes music (sometimes live, sometimes tracks they just finished in the studio, sometimes just "great classics" that they are enlightening us with), but anytime it's in the Ryman, it's considered worthy of a blog post. :)

Thanks, guys, for the free tickets. It was a ton of fun. We'll have to do it again, sometime!

Have you been to a concert lately? What's your favorite musical group or concert you've ever been to? Tell me all about it!

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