Happy Festive Friday! Here are some things we’ve been celebrating.

  • Happy birthday today to Ryan! So glad he got home from New Mexico in time to celebrate his birthday. He is my best friend and favorite person to be around, and I’m so thankful he was born 28 years ago
  • Happy travels to Ryan! By the end of June he will have travled to New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas within a two-month time period. I’m glad that at least half of those are trips involve me. (I’d rather have a higher percentage, but 50% isn’t too bad.)
  • Happy Friday! Don’t you just love Fridays? Fridays are great because everyone always seems so relaxed and ready for the weekend.
  • Happy Father’s Day this weekend to our dads and granddads and dad-like influences and friends who are dads. And to Ryan who is the best dog dad ever to our sweet LuLu. 🙂
  • Happy welcome home to my sweet, little memaw who was in the hospital for over a week (and it was her third time in the hospital within two months). So glad she finally got to home where she can be a little more comfortable. Praying she feels better every day.
  • Happy welcome home to my friend Stephanie who recently moved back to Tennessee from Hawaii. Steph and her husband Richie are expecting their first baby, and I’m so glad she moved back in time for us to see her so cute and pregnant. Loved catching up over dinner the other night.
  • Happy baby shower to my childhood friend Tiffany. Loved catching up at the shower, and I can’t wait to meet sweet baby Enoch.
  • Happy baby! Since our last Festive Friday post, we’ve found out even more people in our lives are expecting. Is America experiencing another baby boom, or is it just with people in our life? It’s a good thing I love babies.

My coworker/friend Amy T. has been on a mission trip in Africa for the past couple weeks, while at the same time my childhood friend Jen C. is approaching her mission trip to Africa in July. As much as I’m excited for these two ladies, I’m also quite jealous. I love mission trips, and I love Africa. Their trips have me dreaming of hopping on a plane to go immerse myself in another culture and witness God’s creation/children in a faraway land. *sigh*

I’m choosing not to dwell on the fact that I’m stuck here, but instead to focus on the fact that I’ve had exciting adventures of my own in Africa. You might recall from this post that Ryan and I went to Swaziland in December 2009 to celebrate our good friends John and Anelle’s wedding, and also to take our delayed honeymoon in Swaziland and South Africa (Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands…as made famous by the last season of The Bachelor). I’ve been going through the pictures since I’ve had Africa on my mind, and I realized that we never posted any. So here are some of our African memories for your viewing pleasure. This is the wildlife edition.

While visiting the Kruger area, we saw so many animals. It was amazing to be able to see them roaming free in their natural habitat instead of caged up at a zoo.

We saw monkeys:

We're pretty sure this sneaky little monkey was eating mustard from our neighbor's fridge.

Isn't the little baby monkey in the middle so adorable?


We think this giraffe was in love with a giraffe across the street. They wouldn't quit staring at each other.

Giraffes in the road are not nearly as concerning as elephants in the road. Although this one was reluctant to let us through.


Mama and babies. Hyenas aren't really scary like "The Lion King" made them out to be.

We saw springbok and a hippo and lots of other creatures too. One of the most exciting things is that we were able to see all five of the Big Five game:


This is Grumpy the one-tusked elephant who was marching right toward our little Chevy Aveo. We knew who would win that fight. Thankfully, he decided against it at the last minute. But that's a story for another day.

Elephant march! I just love the little baby elephant on the end. This reminded me of the elephants marching in "The Jungle Book." Yes, another cartoon reference. Ryan kept laughing at me because everything I knew about the African animals I had learned from a cartoon.


We didn't get any great pictures of the rhinos. They seemed to keep their distance.


This guy was ready to have his picture made!

The three amigos


I love this one. We were so close to a wild lion! Pretty, isn't it?

It's so dark because it was 3a.m. and we weren't allowed to use flash because they didn't want the lions to attack us. I love that they just lie down in the middle of the road. They obviously own the joint.


We sat under the tree watching this guy for hours. I think he liked the attention.

Here he is about to pounce. He started playing with a meerkat just like a cat would play with a mouse.

The great thing about these pictures is that most of them were taken with our digital SLR, and we don’t have a good lens to zoom with. (Note to self: buy better lens for next African adventure.) We were just really that close! Close enough that the lions and the leopard could have jumped in our open air safari jeep at any minute. It definitely had to be one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced.


Found this picture of me and Ryan in Mom A.’s mobile picture gallery. I love that we are both dramatic throw-your-head-back-and-laugh kind of people. And I love that we laugh together every day.



“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” –e.e. cummings

Ryan and I love to celebrate. We will use any excuse to make something into a celebration. Friday seems like a great day to recap all of the great things we’ve been celebrating lately. After all, isn’t the fact that’s it’s Friday something to celebrate in itself. So here’s to our first Festive Friday post! This one will be a recap of celebrations for the past month or so.

  • Happy Friday!
  • Happy engagement to our good friends Livi and Jake! So excited for you guys! That ones a little older than a month, but we’re still celebrating.
  • Happy baby! Or happy pregnancy! Or happy you’re going to have a baby! Not sure how to say that exactly… But we have so many pregnant friends right now! In fact, three of my bridesmaids are pregnant. Along with another one of my closest childhood friends. And one of my aunts. And a close college friend. And a coworker. And one of my coworkers just had her baby yesterday. Is it because I’m in my late 20s, or is it a baby epidemic? Either way, I’m excited! I love babies! Congratulations all of you, pregnant people!
  • Happy one-year anniversary of my back surgery (and the Nashville flood)! What a crazy (often difficult) year it has been. Ryan and I participated in the Hell or High Water 5K during the first weekend of the month, and I celebrated the fact that I could walk 3.1 miles this year compared to last year at this time when I couldn’t even walk from the couch to the bathroom.
  • Speaking of walking several miles, happy first trip to NYC for me! I had a training session in New York City last week, so Ryan tagged along with me, and we made a mini vacation out of it. We walked over 30 miles while we were there! I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do that a year ago. So glad I finally got to see NYC!
  • Happy 2-year job anniversary to Ryan who has been working at LifePoint for two years now. So proud of him for recently being promoted to Senior Compliance Analyst. So happy promotion too!
  • Happy Cinco de Mayo, Happy National Day of Prayer and Happy Mother’s Day! I think that covers the holidays from the beginning of the month.
  • Happy Memorial Day! So looking forward to a three-day weekend! We are very thankful for those who gave their lives defending our freedom.
  • Happy Tallahassee friend weekend! We are so excited to have our great friends John and Anelle stay with us this weekend.
  • Happy end of the the school year to our sweet nephews (AB Honor Roll for those smart kids) and all the other sweet kids in our lives.
  • Happy first dance recital to our sweet niece Penelopi Jane who will be performing tomorrow.

As you can see, we’ve had a lot to celebrate lately. Hope you have a happy Friday and happy Memorial Day weekend!

I’m a pack rat. And I don’t use that term loosely. I have been known to keep piles of things that other people would have no problem throwing away. (For example, my family had to convince me to throw away my collection of 50 empty 35mm film canisters. It was so difficult for me to do that…I mean, you just never know when you’re going to need a tiny container like that, right? 🙂 )

One of the main reasons I’m a pack rat (besides a traumatic childhood experience that I’ll save for another day) is that I love the feeling I get when I happen upon something from my past that I had completely forgotten about. Whether it’s a drawing from elementary school or old junior high letters (yes, I do still have those) or an email from a few years ago.  I realize the dangers of dwelling in the past, and I don’t think that’s a problem for me. I’m very much about living in the present. But that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to take a trip down memory lane every once in a while.

Today I happened upon this little gem in an email I wrote to my younger sister Phallen in March 2007:

I really like that Ryan kid I’ve been hanging out with. It’s the strangest thing…how do I fall for these guys that I meet? I mean, I kept asking myself that about the last kid, but Ryan…he’s way different than the last kid…I mean, he’s actually a nice guy. Like a real, genuinely nice guy, and I do think he’s falling in love with me…not surprising as it is so easy to do (haha, j/k), but a little frightening as we have only been seeing each other in a maybe we could be more than BFF way for a week…I guess when you’ve got it, you’ve got it, huh? 

I went on to talk about how I didn’t know if it could ever work out because he didn’t go to church and we had different beliefs.

I obviously had no idea what God had planned for me and that Ryan kid.

Here we our with our friend Livi in March 2007.

(And just as a disclaimer, that last sentence of that email was a joke. Although I do think I have it. And I have been known to have extremely high self-esteem from time to time.)

Lucky in Love

I mentioned it a couple blogs ago, but Ryan and I just celebrated the first anniversary of this special day:

Under the Big Tree

Our anniversary was wonderful! We both took the week off work, and we made a last minute trip to the mountains. It was great to get away for a while! Our cabin had an amazing view (I’m such a nature girl), and we were able to take LuLu with us. We had originally wanted to go on a trip up north for our anniversary, but with my back and hip problems, a long drive or plane ride just isn’t a good idea.

For our actual anniversary (Sunday, October 3), we went to the Pineapple Room at Cheekwood and had lunch. We visited Two Rivers and took pictures under the tree where we got married, and we had dinner at J. Alexander’s (where we had our first date). We also watched our wedding video (see the teaser here) and ate our leftover wedding cake (yuck!) and opened presents. It was great!

We spent the day before our anniversary cleaning up around the house. I spent well over 8 hours cleaning out the craft room. It’s pretty much been a mess since the wedding (so for at least a year). Ryan was great and pitched in to help and moved all the heavy boxes around for me. While cleaning out the craft room, we found over a hundred dollars!! We found two Target gift cards that equaled $83, a $10 iTunes gift card, a $10 P.F. Chang’s gift card and $13 cash. It was hard to believe we had misplaced so many unused gift cards! I guess it’s a testament to how crazy wedding planning can be! (Although I’m pretty sure some of those cards were from 2008, before we got into wedding planning mode.) It was a pretty lucky day during our anniversary celebration week.

Then when we went to dinner at J. Alexander’s, where we had another lucky streak. We were happily enjoying our appetizer and conversation for about 20 minutes when the manager comes over and apologizes for the wait and says that she is going to take care of our meal. We were kind of confused since we didn’t even realize we had been waiting for very long. But sure enough, at the end of the meal, our server told us that the manager took care of our meal and we didn’t have anything to pay. Free anniversary meal! How lucky are we?!

Speaking of lucky, a couple weeks before our anniversary trip, this arrived in the mail for me:

Do you remember this post when I dreamed about owning it one day? My dear husband was able to buy a package that included the poster when Ray LaMontagne’s new album came out! Now I officially own the poster from the concert we went to on the night of our engagement day. And it depicts the cutest little tangent bike (that’s a two-seater if you didn’t know), perfectly printed in our wedding colors. It’s just a little thing, but it makes me very happy.

Last week Ryan and I watched two movies about homelessness without meaning to. At the beginning of the week, we watched “The Soloist,” a Netflix movie we had lying around for a while because neither one of us could remember what it was about. Jamie Foxx plays a homeless musician with a mental disorder and Robert Downey Jr. is a journalist who befriends him. After we returned that movie, Netflix sent us “The Pursuit of Happyness,” which also has a main character that struggles with homelessness. After watching “The Pursuit of Happyness,” we had a conversation about how ironic it was that the two movies we saw that week were about homelessness.

Then on Sunday morning while we were in church, four homeless men walked in. We scooted down to make room for them. I talked to the man who was sitting in the chair next to me, and he told me that he had been pushed in a fire and robbed. He showed me the horrible blisters on his hand from the fire. He told me that he went to the Nashville Rescue Mission, but someone took his stuff, so they were sleeping under a bridge instead. He said that they were going to try to make their way to Denver. The four of them were really sweet to one another.  It was really humbling to sit beside them and see and hear them praising God when they have so much less than I do. Funny that I often struggle so much with my faith when I have been given so much.

I didn’t have much to offer besides conversation, but I left feeling compelled to do something for a homeless ministry. I had no clue where to start, but it just felt like all the signs were pointing in that direction.

This morning on the way to work, I got another sign. Literally. A sign for the Hike for the Homeless to benefit Safe Haven Family Shelter was posted at Edwin Warner Park. I immediately knew that I had to participate. So this Saturday, Ryan and I will be hiking for the homeless. And we would love for you to join us!

You can sign up for our team (the Trailblazers) or donate here.

Here is the information from Safe Haven’s website:

Safe Haven Family Shelter is gearing up for our 6th annual, Hike for the Homeless event, an annual favorite for its heavy dose of outdoor time, friends, family, food and fun. The event includes hiking on two paved hiking trails, which vary in length two to three miles, a complimentary breakfast and lunch, face painting, inflatables for the kids, live music, goody bags and more. The hike will take place at Edwin Warner Park, picnic shelters 9 and 11, on Saturday, October 16th. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with hikers hitting the trail at 10 a.m.