Friday, April 30, 2010

There Goes the Neighborhood

So, we're officially taking over. We totally own this place. From the street, it looks like a nice, friendly subdivision, that Mt. View Community. But if you go to the end of the neighborhood and turn onto Hill Ridge Drive, the last street on the right, you'll enter into our territory. We call it the Hill Ridge Hood. There are 5 houses on this street. The first one doesn't really count, because it's on the corner. The second one is currently empty and up for sale/rent. Then there's our house. Directly across from us is Charles and Emily. Next door to them is Kris and Emily. After that, the street dead ends. The 3 of us together (technically 6 of us, but you know, 3 couples) are completely taking over the street.

I never imagined that we would love this set up so much, but we totally do. It's awesome. We seriously wake up and can't believe that this is our real life. We're always in our front yards hanging out with each other. It all started when the boys began helping each other with the landscaping. Then we just realized how great it was to be spending time in our "common area" - the street. Nobody ever drives by; there's no reason to come that far on the street unless you're coming to one of our houses. So, pretty much, we own it.

What are boys going to do when they have both sides of an entire end of a street to themselves? Well purchase and set up a basketball goal, of course. We wondered how long it would take until they got a group toy, and it was apparently barely one month. They even drew free throw lines and 3 point lines with sidewalk chalk. (I think after the last rain, they replaced it with an "around the world" setup.) We girls sit out there and cheer for our husbands as they dunk on the lowered hoop and play "street ball," mercilessly fouling each other. A few times, basketball has turned into a full-contact sport with body checks and tackling people out of bounds. When there's no grown-up around to enforce rules, I guess the boys can play as scrappy as they'd like.

Since we practically own the street, we've begun cooking out on the sidewalk all the time. Everybody brings their own meat and we share baked beans and potato salad and drinks. The beverage of choice is most definitely the red kool-ade Kris graciously provides. (Seriously, we're kids.) We've been known to grill steaks, pork chops, even salmon, but my all-time favorite will always be hamburgers and (Nathan's brand) hot dogs. Yum. I could do it every single weekend. In fact, we basically do. We have cooked out in the street every weekend in April. And if the rain holds out tonight, we'll round out an entire month with some more summer festivities around the grill. My fingers are crossed.

One of the best things about living so close to your best friends, is that you can always act like kids and goof off and never have to worry about keeping your cool-guy image. You should have seen the pandemonium erupt when the ice cream guy drove by. Complete chaos, I tell ya. I hope we never grow up...

See that BobCat we're posing with? That's kind of a good example to tie the weekly cook outs and the random, child-like activities together. There's this place in town called Art Pancake's Rent-All. Since we moved in, the boys have concocted extravagant schemes involving Mr. Pancake. They've discussed renting cherry pickers to simply race down the street. They've considered renting a bounce house, because "hey, why not?" They've planned to rent a little train ride to wind tracks around our houses and see how fast we can ride the train around before we get sick. Seriously, Art Pancake is brought up so often, that the girls have literally counted how many times he's mentioned in any given conversation. He has become an honorary member of the Hill Ridge Crew.

Well, I'm somewhat obsessed with awesome CraigsList deals (as evidenced by all the great finds residing in our home, right now) and have been scouring the ads to find a good picnic table for our area. If we're going to be having weekly cookouts and random pizza parties in the street, we need a better method for gathering than hauling card tables and camping chairs outside all the time. Luckily, we have that empty lot next to us that is completely surrounded by our three houses and is too small to ever build upon. It's the perfect area for us to commandeer as our very own common ground. If only there wasn't that eyesore of a rock pile that was dumped there years ago by the builders, smack dab in the middle of the lot. Well, needless to say, I found a smoking hot deal for a picnic table, and it was the perfect opportunity to finally, officially introduce Art Pancake to the Hill Ridge Crew. And this is what you get when you combine his Rent-All with our Hood...

They decided to relocate the rocks to the end of the road where it abruptly stops. It not only adds some uniformity and closure to the street, but it also serves as a blockage to keep the basketball from rolling into the woods. Win-win.

You would have thought that it was Christmas morning by how excited the boys were to operate heavy machinery. Brad wisely advised that they all wear boots so they look legit when they meet the famous Art Pancake and so he would take them seriously. (After all, "this is just the beginning of a long lasting, very important relationship. They want to leave the right impression.") Notice the only boots Charles had available. Nashville. Love it.

They each took turns playing with their big boy toy. Look how cute they are.

They were very productive. It's amazing what 3 big kids can do when they have a big machine and no grown up around to tell them to be careful. Charles even transferred some of the dirt behind his fence to the empty lot in an effort to level both areas out. Brad picked up the super cheap picnic table today. I can't wait to get it in place and initiate it with a hot dog, some potato chips, and red kool-ade.

Oh, and just because Emily is 10 months pregnant (Did you know that 40 weeks is really 10 months? Why do they always only say 9??), that doesn't mean that we didn't take advantage of the terrific photo op that was the BobCat!

Can you believe this is our life? Living with your best friends is the best situation ever. In the whole world. For real, it's like we're on a movie. Nobody has it this good. I can't believe how blessed we are.

Bee-tee-double-you, if you want to look at tons more pictures of the boys being boys, check out the Hill Ridge Crew Photo Album. I bet you'll laugh.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Birthday #26

Well, it turns out that I didn't get my only birthday wish, but I did get to come home yesterday to this great sight!

Brad (with a little help from one of our neighbor-bf's) rung in my 26th year with a little sidewalk chalk. Needless to say, I didn't pull the car into the driveway. And even without an early Charlie delivery, I pretty much had the best birthday ever in the history of ever. Let me tell you all about it.

This past Saturday, I noticed Brad rummaging through my clothes in the closet when I got out of the shower. I said, "Uhh, what are you doing?" He shrugged his shoulders and casually stated, "Packing." Confused, I asked, "Packing for what??" To which he matter-of-factly replied, "Our trip." Oh, duh. Our trip. Of course. I should have known... "What trip? Our trip to where??" Nope, he'd have none of it. He told me to go blow dry my hair and put on my makeup and he'd have an outfit picked out for me when I was ready.

I must brag on him a bit. Brad is a pretty remarkable packer for a boy. He not only packed my outfit for the drive, but three outfits total, each complete with matching shoes and jewelry. I noticed there was a dress in that dufflebag, saw that he loaded a suit up, and got very excited. What in the world did he have up his sleeve!?

We got in the car and headed East. I had no idea where we were going. Gatlinburg? Down to Atlanta? No clue. After an hour and a half of terrific conversation (I always love road trips, because the long drives are the perfect setting for great discussion.), we pulled off of I-24 at Chattanooga and into the Stone Fort Inn. It was this beautiful, romantic, sweet, cozy, 100-year-old (celebrating this year) Bed & Breakfast. It was perfect. We were escorted to our room, where we changed into our "Evening Attire" and headed out to our 7:30 dinner reservations.

We enjoyed a non-intentional tour of Chattanooga, river side as we tried to locate our destination. After a few wrong turns and a few "What in the world?? This road doesn't go left!"'s, we safely arrived at the Back Inn Cafe, which has been voted both the Restaurant with the Best View and the Most Romantic Restaurant in Chattanooga. They were completely right about the view. We were located in a room that hung over the river and had walls of glass. It was gorgeous. They were alsos right about the romance. They had white linen tablecloths and food options that we had never heard of before. It was perfect.

After our romantic birthday dinner, we went back to our suite with a bottle of wine, bubble bath, and oreos. (Yes, we're that mature.) Brad and I have never relaxed in a bubble bath before, even though multiple friends of ours have boasted about how wonderful they are. Well, with such a great jacuzzi tub available, it was the perfect opportunity to try it out for ourselves.

And they were so right. After we figured out how to use the bubbles, that is. I was apparently overeager and poured too much bubble bath into the water. (It was only a quarter of the bottle!) Once we turned the jets on, the bubbles raised above the rim of the tub and up to our chins. There was literally 8 inches of water and over 2 solid feet of bubbles. It was hilarious. We had to drain the water, squish all the suds with the extendable shower nozzle and start all over, without adding more bubble liquid this time. However, once we got that all figured out, we continued the best evening ever. The window was cracked so we could hear the rain falling, jazz was playing on the radio, the sweet glasses of wine perfectly complimented the scrumptious oreos, and the conversation was absolutely irreplaceable. We sat in there, simply enjoying each other's undivided attention for over two hours, until we got completely pruney. It was perfect.

In the morning, we woke up to the smell of bacon wafting upstairs from the kitchn. Yum. The Bed & Breakfast definitely held up to the second portion of it's title. What a great place to stay.

After we were filled with breakfast, Brad surprised me with tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium! Oh, I have always wanted to go to an aquarium. I was so stinking excited! I was like a little kid in there, dragging him from exhibit to exhibit, pressing my face up against the glass, ooh'ing and aah'ing over the otters, penguins, jellyfish, stingrays, giant fish, colorful fish, even sharks! We got to touch some fish and stingrays, and even were surrounded by butterflies in the butterfly garden! (Is there anything more romantic?) It was such a great experience, and one that I loved sharing with my husband. There's just something about him holding my hand, kissing the top of my head, and putting his arms around me in public that makes me get all googly inside. Having fun like kids, and being mushy at the same time, is what our love is all about. It was perfect.

We have some good friends from college, David and Stacy, that live in Chattanooga, now. While we were in town, we took the opportunity to have some lunch together. We had lots of fun visiting and catching up with old friends. It was great icing on the cake of our birthday trip.

But while we were waiting for them to pick us up, we goofed off by the river. I mean, duh. what else?

It was pretty much the best birthday ever. I would even venture to claim that it was one of the best weekends Brad and I have ever spent together. We totally needed it. With our hectic lives, crazy schedules, and busy social calendars, we rarely get to spend uninterrupted time together. We had tons of fun, hours and hours of incredible conversation, and lots of butterflies (real kind, and tummy kind). It was perfect.

I'm so blessed to have such a terrific, thoughtful, loving, sneaky, funny, romantic, sensitive, caring, plotting, hand-holding, head-kissing, picture-posing, wonderful husband. I can't even begin to imagine my life without him.

Thanks for loving me so much and for surprising me with such a great birthday, honey! I love you more than I'll ever be able to express! XOXO

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Only Birthday Wish

My best friend, Emily, is still pregnant. Her baby girl, Charlie Joy, is due to arrive this Saturday. But is it too much to ask for Emily to let her come today, on my birthday? I know it's a little early, but honestly, it's the least she can do, right? I mean, it is all that I'm asking for this year...

Oh, I can't wait to meet Charlie! We are all (literally) counting down the days! None more so than soon-to-be Mama. Even though I'll miss her adorable pregnant waddle, and she'll miss being able to feel Charlie kicking in her tummy, I think Emily just may be even more anxious to meet her little girl than I am! Impossible!

Lots of prayers for you and Charles as you prepare for birth, and parenthood!! Love you, Em!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Behind the Busy Season

Here's what you've missed over the last couple of months while I was busy with Tax Season. Join me as we fast forward through the most recent events:

Some of my girlfriends celebrated our 2nd Annual Girls' Night Out, complete with dinner at Red Robin's and a movie. (However, this year, we decided to leave out the falling down the theater steps. Thank goodness.) We got together and watched Alice in Wonderland in 3D. It was pretty awesome. I'm generally a little skeptical of Tim Burton, just because he's so strange, but this movie was incredible. The visual effects were stunning. So many times, I caught myself thinking, "How in the world did they pull that off??" Oh yeah, and the entire cast (especially Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter) are wonderful. If you still haven't seen it, I totally recommend it.

Over Easter weekend, we had a nice visit from some Metcalfs. Even though I had to work the whole time, they kept quite busy with Easter Egg Hunts and visits to the park. The boys (including Clinton) worked on our new Tahoe to get some things working, while Rachel "picked flower (dandelions) for her wedding." Seriously, these kids are the cutest things I've ever seen! It was awesome to get to hang out with (and show off our new house to) TJ & Jennie and their family, my dad, and also my brother Richard, whom I honestly don't believe I've legitimately visited with for years now. Why have we never been in the same place at the same time?? I am so thankful for some new memories together.

In addition to some time spend with my family in Nashville, we spent some time with Brad's family back up in Indiana. His dad turned the big 5-0 this month, and his (crazy) family planned an extensive surprise birthday party to celebrate the momentous occasion. It was fully equipped with black balloons, black roses, age-appropriate toilettries, various t-shirts with his head photo-shopped onto his multiple characterizations, a "Truth Or Lie about Don Mehaffey" game, and some hilariously embarrassing stories of him growing up. All of the adorable pictures of him as a child didn't sway anyone away from viciously making fun of him in front of everybody. It was awesome. His siblings did a great job planning and organizing, and his sons did a decent job stalling him while we executed the plan. I do believe this is one birthday that Don won't soon forget. Oh wait, he's old now. There's a good chance he already doesn't remember any of it. It's a good thing we took some pictures...

And that's what you missed during Busy Season. Sorry it was such a quick recap, but I had to get caught up ASAP, so I could move on forward. I can't wait to show you what all we've done with our house!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Survival of the Fittest

I made it!! Tax Season 2010 is officially a thing of the past! It's time to celebrate!!! The mail is out. The returns are picked up. The extensions are filed. I survived. I've officially survived my second tax season ever. I mean, I'm basically an old vet at this stuff.

I can finally breathe again. I really don't even know what to do with myself! Looks like I'll be posting more on my blog, again. We can get reacquainted with each other! Holla!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle

It's a jungle around here. With the tax deadline being next week, we're running around like crazy until all hours of the night and weekends. I have a few blog posts sitting on my back burner, waiting for a chance to be updated, but I doubt we'll have any chance of that for the next couple of weeks. Thanks for being patient with me as I attempt to survive my second ever Tax Season. (Wish me luck.)

BTW, how do you like that peace lily that's in our lobby? It's so big and beautiful! I get to look at it every single day. When some of the flowers bloom, it quite literally is as tall as I am. Like I said, it really is a jungle around here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Just kidding. :)

Nobody's pregnant here on this blog. Thanks for all of your love, though! You guys are so super sweet. I can't believe how many calls and emails I got in such a short amount of time! I really kinda feel bad about it, actually. I truly am not generally a liar. I hope this doesn't mean that I "cried wolf" and you all won't be genuinely excited for us when I do eventually reveal this big news for real...

And family members, don't worry. I promise that I will tell you guys in a more personal way than on my blog with the rest of the world. Sorry for any hurt feelings.

I love you all!

Oh, come on. Admit it. That was funny. :)


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