a snowy day

 We made it to Indiana ahead of the winter storm predicted to sweep across the country and were rewarded with a major snow day when we woke up on Wednesday! At least six inches fell at my in-laws' house so naturally we dug through closets to find old snow gear (notice Deric's He-Man hat) and headed out into the freezing temps. I only lasted long enough to make snowmen and take a few pictures, but Deric and his dad stayed out all afternoon clearing off the driveway. It was so much fun to tromp through all that snow despite the icicles that formed in my hair by the end of the hour. I can't remember the last time I've seen enough snow to make snowmen. Take a look at Deric's snowman that's rocking the "nerdy office worker" look-- a tie, pipe, glasses and a receded hairline. Snow Day 2012= best Christmas gift so far (ahem, Christmas still to come when the whole fam arrives.)


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our not-so-wintery wonderland to yours! (Here's hoping for a white Christmas as we make the trek to Indiana to celebrate with Deric's family.) Hope your Christmas morning is full of joy!


what a typical December night looks like

I talked to my dad on the phone yesterday and he mentioned my lack of blogging lately. I told him it was because we've done nothing blog-worthy lately, and that could not be more true. Amidst all the Christmas parties and events, our nights at home have been b-o-r-i-n-g...and I like it. At 16 weeks pregnant now, I've thankfully graduated from the nausea stage to the two-hour-nap-every-day stage and yet I'm still exhausted when 8:00pm rolls around. (That's also why there are basically no Christmas decorations up yet besides the tree and stockings.) We have been playing a ridiculous amount of Monopoly, however. It's low-energy and a better alternative that watching tv all night, plus I'm finally developing a little bit of strategy and winning every so often! So Dad, here's your recap of our crazy exciting December. ;)


Its (probably) a boy!

At our 12 week appointment, we got a big surprise when the ultrasound tech pointed out a few things on the monitor and told us she was 99.9% sure it was a baby boy. (Don't worry, she asked us if we wanted to know first, to which I said "Heck yeah!") Seeing as this is eight weeks earlier than the usual gender reveal, we're restraining ourselves from buying blue for a few more weeks, but we are focusing on boy names (since we really don't have any that we love). All that said, Deric is psyched about a son and I'm not sure what I'll do with one, but I do know that if he's a mini-Deric I'll be perfectly happy!

As my cousin Megan said, the evidence is pretty compelling. ;)


so...guess what?!

That's right! Come June 6(-ish, obviously), our house is gonna get a lot louder and we're gonna be a lot more tired. We can't wait!

P.S. Those ultrasound pics aren't up to date. We jumped on the opportunity to get some professional pics while at Sarah's wedding in October thanks to the wonderful Anna Hedges, her wedding photographer (and ours too!).

P.P.S. Baby Bump is currently 13 weeks along, much more developed than the 6 week blob pictured.


Turkey Day '12

Boy, did we have a full house for Thanksgiving this year! Four kids under age 6, people sleeping in mudrooms and laundry rooms...it was awesome. (And now the house is way too quiet...sob.) The weather was literally perfect leading up to Thursday which meant lots of time logged on the playground next door, an afternoon playing in the leaves, and even eating Thanksgiving dinner outside. Channeling our inner Pilgrim, what can we say? Even the brutal 6:00am Turkey Trot wake-up call wasn't nearly as freezing as last year, thank the Lord. 

I love that everyone was able to drive down (or up, or across..) to come hang out for a few days. Getting the whole family together just doesn't happen often enough, but I'm thankful for the times we do get together!


Scenes from the Beach

I nearly forgot about all those other pictures from our week at the beach. Here they are, covering everything from Jockey's Ridge to seafood night (heaven!) to our day-trip to Okracoke Island to a morning spent on the beach.

P.S. This first picture of Deric cracks me up. I fully expect to have a kid who poses just like that. ;)

Hard to believe, but in just a week and a half we'll all be together again for Thanksgiving!


the beach (via my phone)

We spent last week in the Outer Banks with my family, recuperating from Sarah and Drew's wedding on the 20th. (I wish I had pictures from the wedding to share, but no pockets in my dress = no phone to take pics!) The wedding was gorgeous, sweet and solemn, and overall very fitting to Sarah and Drew. After the reception, out-of-town family came to the house to spend more time together and although I was beyond tired after waking up at 5am, I had such a great night with family I don't see often enough. I wish we could have brought the entire family to the beach with us, but at least we got to see them for the weekend.

I did bring my regular camera to the beach but it stayed put in my bag for most of the week. Pictures to come once I unpack and actually find my camera. But for now, a recap of the week via my phone (most of which you've probably seen on Instagram, sorry for the repeats!).

Best part of the week? Spending an entire five straight days with Isaac and Cana. I think that was pretty high up on everyone's list, though.

 1// happy 29 to Deric! 2// Grandma & Isaac at the beach (not pictured: G'ma teaching Isaac to run through the surf and get soaking wet) 3// pirate putt-putt 4// Cana loves her Grandad 5// the view from the living room never got old 6// Isaac cheesin' it up
1// Cana girl 2// cute restaurant on Ocracoke Island 3// Pea Island at dusk 4// best meal at the beach 5// Isaac needed Deric's full attention 6// best way to weather a hurricane: grab a beer and jump in the hot tub


Color Me Rad

Deric and I ran the Color Me Rad 5K this Saturday with a group of friends from church, and it was a blast! Its much more fun to run when you're being pelted with clouds of cornstarch along the way. Although this was the first 5K Deric and I have run together, we technically didn't run together-- he ran up ahead with our faster friends and I hung back with Melanie and Janine, taking it easy and talking the entire time. Such a fun morning.

The best part of the run was seeing what everyone looked like after all the color. I think purple was the last color we ran through, and then everyone was given packets of pink color after the race, so we all had a good dose of purple + pink to show off. I wish there were more fun races like this-- running just to run won't be so exciting anymore.
I was curious to see how well the color would rinse off when we got home, and it came off surprisingly easy. A few minutes longer in the shower and there were no traces left, which was quite the accomplishment considering Deric's very blue arms. As for our shirts, we rinsed them in vinegar to preserve the color (as directed by the race's website) but unfortunately, not much of the color remained. At least our shoes are nice and bright!

Hopefully Color Me Rad will come back to Knoxville next year and we can do it all over again!


Celebrating the Bride-to-Be

A few weekends ago, I made the eight-hour trek home to celebrate Sarah's upcoming wedding (17 days!) and throw a bridal shower for her. Courtney and I planned it together but unfortunately she couldn't make the trip due to the new baby. Sarah's wedding colors are plum, ivory and gold so we made sure to incorporate a lot of purple, as you can see...

The morning of the shower, Sarah and I headed to the Lumia's house to prepare food and get everything together. I don't know if we jinxed ourselves by having the guest of honor help with preparations or what, but just about everything went wrong that morning! What should have been very easy chocolate-covered popcorn resulted in one batch of chocolate curdling on the stove and one batch burning and smoking in the microwave so we had to nix it. And the fruit dip--which consisted of just two ingredients--turned into watery yet chunky nastiness. We salvaged our plans with the help of KP, who went to Walmart and got us store-bought fruit dip and new bags of chocolate (that was before we had to nix the idea). Thankfully the rest of the afternoon went very smoothly and the shower was a lot of fun.

Its always neat to see the outpouring of gifts from women turn into a new family's home. Even two years later, the kitchen appliances, bathroom rugs and towels, bedding and decorations that I received at my shower remind me of the families who gave us those gifts and I'm sure it'll be the same way for Sarah and Drew.

The remainder of the weekend was so relaxing and enjoyable. Dinner every night with friends and family made me so ready for the wedding and subsequent vacation, when we'll be able to spend a whole week at the beach with family!


Inching Along

After a trip up to Indiana and all the busyness that comes with a new school year, I'm finally getting around to showing you the project I was working on this summer. (Deric's project is up next!)

In--I don't know, June?-- Deric and I were out on a Saturday running errands. In between stops I was browsing Craigslist on my phone and noticed a 6' dresser advertised at a garage sale in a neighborhood about ten minutes away. Clicked through to the ad and saw it was listed for $25-- what?! Deric needed no convincing and we swung by the garage sale to check it out in person. Once we saw it, I was ready to back out. I knew I'd be painting it and I noticed all those itty bitty squares lining the top of the dresser and thought "No way-- that'll literally take forever to paint." But Deric thought it'd be perfect for our dining room to serve as a buffet and storage, and thankfully he convinced me to bring it home.

Then it sat in our garage for a few months while we headed to CIY and camp, etc.

After some time, we figured out a game plan for the center of the dresser. We don't need fifteen or so drawers in this dresser but some shelving would be helpful. Deric took out one of the three drawer base-slider things (?) and installed basically a box from plywood. Now we have shelves and more space to stack dishes, games, or whatever we need.

Fast forward another month or two (seriously, why does it take us so long?) and we got around to sanding the dresser with a belt sander we bought off our neighbor for $20. Sanding took no time at all, but priming, painting, and poly-ing took quite a few nights. That's what we were doing every night after the Olympics were over and our lives felt incomplete. ;) We went with Inchworm by Valspar and we love the color. We hauled the dresser in one day, I outfitted it with knobs from Hobby Lobby and filled some of the drawers with games, cards, and extra table linens.

And then finally, I added the doors. Only took a few weeks to finish up what I thought might be a personal record for finishing a project. I should really get to know myself better. :) Its funny but the addition of this "buffet" makes the dining room my favorite room in the house. Its colorful and makes the room feel much less barren than it did before. Since painting this dresser, I've been eyeballing various other pieces of furniture around the house and envisioning them in different colors. But I'm not gonna get ahead of myself-- I've got various other projects I've started that I just need to finish!

As I type, I'm sitting in my paint clothes getting ready to tackle our wood-paneled, ugly-as-sin mudroom and freshen it up with a coat of paint. Four solid walls of paneling should only take what--six months to paint??


Out on the Lake

Yesterday we went boating with the youth group. The trip was originally scheduled for August but rain cancelled our plans and bumped it a few weekends later. We weren't sure how the weather would do for this weekend either but ir turned out to be perfect for a day spent on the lake. It was cool all morning (and so was the water) but the afternoon warmed up just enough to give us all some sunburnt cheeks without making us sweat to death like a typical summer day. The chilly weather combined with grilling for lunch, football and corn hole made me so ready for our annual camping trip coming up in October!


Up North// Stop Two

After spending time with the Fairs, we drove an hour south to hang out with Deric's family for the remainder of the weekend. This involved dinner at a hibachi restaurant (yum) on Thursday night with Deric's parents and the Hunger Games when we got home. It brought back good memories from the few months we lived with them while job hunting two years ago. On Friday, Deric and his dad went golfing while I went on a bike ride through the blissfully quiet back country roads. It was a nice change of pace from my usual scenery involving lots of traffic and steep(er) hills. Friday night brought Deric's brother's family and some of our friends into town and it was so great to have a house full of friends and family. On Saturday, both sides of Deric's family came over for a Labor Day celebration which always equals Purdue football (and Ohio State, my sister-in-law's team, much to the dismay of the rest of the family) plus wayyy too much snacking. Overall, our four-ish days in Indiana flew by and made us even more anxious for the holidays so we can get back up there.

top// driveway leading to the in-law's house. picturesque, no?
bottom// back country roads.

a house divided.


Up North // Stop One

We extended our already-long weekend by a few days and drove up to Indiana on Tuesday after work. First, we hit up the Fair household to meet baby Cana and hang out with the new family of four. It was a quick visit--only a day and a half-- but totally worth it. I spent as much time as possible cuddling with teeny tiny Cana and Deric was on entertain-the-two-year-old duty. Therefore, I had a nice and relaxing day with a baby snuggled on my chest while Deric and Isaac played hard outside, finding treasure and doing other pirate-y things.

Thanks, Fairs, for making such cute kiddos! ;)


Sneakity Peek

Deric and I have been incredibly productive this week. Every night we've been in the garage for a few hours working away on some fun projects. (All this productivity may or may not be linked to the fact that the Olympics are done and it only makes us sad to watch anything else on tv.) One more trip to Lowe's and a few more hours this weekend should finish up both of our projects, which would make this a new record for us. Gold medal, please. :)

Oh, I should share our jungle-turned-flower-bed that I worked on last weekend. I averted my eyes all summer from the trainwreck that was our front yard, purposely waiting for a cool, wet weekend that would make weeding conditions much more bearable.  It rained the entire week beforehand, making it super easy to yank out those stubborn weeds. An hour or two later, and it was like looking at an entirely different house.

Back in a few days with full pics of our newest creations!


Peppers + Pasta

Our humble garden has been consistently handing over a few veggies at a time throughout this summer. A couple green beans here, some tomatoes there...its not enough to make a complete salad, but enough to top off a burger, throw in with some pasta, etc. Its the perfect size for a starter garden and we've got bigger and better plans for next summer's garden (which will be doubled in size).
Our latest harvest consisted of three palm-sized peppers: one fully green, two a Christmas-y mix of red and green (and not fully ready for harvest, we noted). We used the peppers in one of our all-time favorite pastas: sausage and pepper penne. Originally from one of those checkout counter magazines, we dumbed down the recipe and it now takes all of fifteen minutes start to finish.

You'll need: penne pasta (we use a full box so that we have leftovers); a jar of pasta sauce, 1-3 green peppers depending on size, half an onion, and one fully cooked kielbasa sausage.
Prepare the pasta as directed. Chop the peppers into bite-size pieces. Chop the onion. Slice the sausage. On medium heat in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add sausage, onion and pepper and cook until vegetables are soft and sausage is heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the entire jar of pasta sauce (remember, we make leftovers). Let simmer for about 2 minutes until sauce is heated.

Serve over pasta, topped with parmesan cheese.

Easy, right? And delicious to boot, especially when you have the privilege of eating peppers you grew yourself!


Third Time's a Charm

This past week I took my third trip of the spring/summer down to Charleston to hang out with Sarah. I love how many opportunities I've had to go to the beach under the guise of visiting/helping Sarah;) Just kidding...kinda. Deric held down the home front while I was gone for a few days, hanging out with the high schoolers, playing ultimate frisbee, and otherwise enjoying the week as a bachelor. Sarah's starting her first year as a kindergarten teacher in just a few short weeks and she asked if I'd come help her get her classroom in order, which I was perfectly happy to help with. I love all things kindergarten: the bright colors, thematic posters, Sarah's "weather panda" with its raincoat and boots, colorful rugs, and teensy little cubbies.

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday whipping her classroom into shape: digging through boxes left by the last teacher, rearranging tables and chairs and bookshelves, and running errands to Walmart and the teacher supply store. We also managed to sneak in a few trips to local Goodwills, which are substantially better than the ones we've got around here. I found a few shirts for cheap, but Sarah seriously lucked out with 'teacher clothes': J. Crew capris for $3, Target boots for $5, sweaters, skirts, etc. Goodwill trips will now and forevermore be on my agenda for future Charleston visits.

On Thursday Sarah rewarded me with our customary cinnamon rolls for breakfast and a long-awaited trip to the beach, where I got fried as usual. (Yes Mom, there is a sun in Tennessee-- but there's no beach!) Thursday night we headed into downtown Charleston for a seafood dinner. Fried green tomatoes, calamari, peel & eat shrimp (plus a few Cokes) from the Charleston Crab House and I was in heaven. Foo, thanks so much for choosing such a gorgeous city to live in!


Camp is Good

I'm noticing a trend over this past year or so of youth ministry: Without fail, I learn so much from these events we attend that are geared for middle schoolers or high schoolers. I go into these events expecting to be on the sidelines, supporting our kids and cheering them on, encouraging them to really listen to what God could be teaching them. And then I find myself blown away by something unexpected that God wants to teach me. Camp was no different. Its hard to simultaneously learn hard lessons and teach those same lessons to kids, but I did my best this week to convey to our kids what I believe God was teaching me, and I can only hope that God made me an effective communicator.

The day before we left for camp, Chad asked me if I would speak at campfire. For those of you who didn't grow up attending church camp, every night there are two time-to-get-serious talks: chapel, which is basically a sermon, and a few hours later, campfire. Campfire is much shorter and tends to be more personal, more like a devotion. But two minutes or two hours of public speaking, my first instinct when Chad asked me to speak was a "Thanks, but no thanks. Have you asked ___?" Before I could answer him though, God reminded me that I've been challenging myself to step out of my box and do harder things in order to honor Him. So yes, Chad, I'd absolutely love to speak to a bunch of middle schoolers with little to no preparation. That'd be great, thanks for the opportunity. 

Sunday afternoon, we arrived at camp and I looked over the theme: Authentic. I chose to speak on Tuesday only because Tuesday's topic [Getting Real with God] bore some resemblance to my own life, and I figured that would make it easier to speak about. All day Tuesday I was anxious, worried, and feeling like I wanted to die (equal parts fear of public speaking and an insane, horribly-timed sinus infection). I almost lost my voice on Tuesday. I don't remember talking to any of the campers, just writing and rewriting what was in my head so that on paper, all those thoughts bouncing around would hopefully make some sense.

Here's what I honestly believe God told me to say (say um a few times, stutter, and talk really fast, and it'll be like you were there!).

In Luke 9, there's a story about 3 men who approach Jesus and want to follow Him, but Jesus doesn't respond to them in a way I would have imagined.
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 
He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."
Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

In Mark, a rich young man asks Jesus what he has to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him, "Go, everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

In Luke 14, Jesus is walking with a large crowd and he says to them, "If anyone comes to me and doesn't hate his father or mother, his wife and children, his brother and sister--yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple."

So to recap: leave your family behind, sell everything you own, hate your parents, and potentially end up homeless. This is what Jesus is telling these people. It may sound harsh, but Jesus is just being honest about what could happen if you choose to follow Him-- you will be asked to abandon what's comfortable, what's normal, what's familiar.

So what if Jesus asked you to leave your family behind and move overseas?
What if Jesus asked you to give up a successful career?
What if Jesus told you there's a good chance you could end up homeless?

I tend to separate myself from this story because honestly, it scares me. But here's the thing: if I'm going to call myself a Christian, a follower of Jesus, then I'm in the same situation as those men who talked with Jesus. Jesus didn't ask only those few men to abandon everything-- He asks every Christian to abandon everything. We do have to give up everything to follow Jesus. We do have to love Him so much that our closest relationships on earth look like hate in comparison. And He may ask us to sell everything we own in order to take care of other people.

Now, God may not ask every individual to sell what they own, or to leave their family and move overseas. God has unique plans for each of us. But no matter what God asks of us, we all have to ask ourselves two questions:

Do we honestly believe Jesus is worth losing everything else for?
Do we trust Him enough to obey all of His commands?

Because Christianity isn't a pick and choose ordeal. When you choose to follow Jesus, you're making a commitment to obey all of His commands. Jesus didn't give us options to consider; He gave us commands to obey. Not just the easy ones, not just when you've got the time or when you've got some extra money to put in the offering plate. For example, look at the Great Commission found in Matthew 28. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples..." Not "If you've got some time on the weekends, go...", not "if you feel called, go..." He said simply, "Go."

It'll be hard. Jesus doesn't promise us an easy, comfortable life. He warns us right away (just as he warned those men) that walking with Him will be tough, and maybe even dangerous. That's where the trust comes in. But He also promises to never leave us on our own. As Christians, we're given the Holy Spirit to help us, encourage us, and strengthen us so that we can do what Jesus asks of us.

So if you really want to know God, obey Him. Take Him at His word and remember that no matter how hard it may be to obey Him, He is always willing to help you.

1 John 1:5-6 says "This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did."

Do you honestly believe that Jesus is worth losing everything else for? Do you trust Jesus enough to obey all of His commands?


[Disclaimer: A lot of the ideas expressed, and a few sentences, are taken from the book Radical, written by David Platt. I've talked about his book before and it continues to hit me hard.]

Its amusing to me how God helped me prepare this talk for the kids and then throughout the rest of the week, He kept slamming it back in my face to make me realize that I needed to hear this message probably more than anyone else at camp did. Because my biggest struggle lately is obeying God fully. I've got the easy, routine commands down-- don't say the Lord's name in vain, tithe to church, etc.-- but I seriously struggle obeying Him in his more "radical" commands. And as I prepared to talk at campfire, I realized that the reason I don't obey is because I don't trust Him. Why aren't I willing to give up everything I own, should God ask? Because I don't trust Him to take care of Deric and me in the future. Because money gives me comfort and a feeling of security for the future. Same reasoning behind why I don't give money to take care of the orphans or widows. (A lot of my disobedience has to do with financial matters, interestingly enough.)

Five points to you if you're still reading at this point. I feel like God has been changing my perspective on a lot of things lately and I'll be processing all of it for a while, so I'll warn you now that there will be more ramblings to come. Which is good. Lord, continue to teach me. Keep changing my perspectives so that I can eventually see things the way you do.

(the only picture I took at camp. it was a gloriously unplugged week. took this one early Thursday morning when I went running--yes, I got up early to run! i'm very proud...and surprised.)


Last week was a blur

Well, we're on our way to camp. No idea what happened to last week-- I swear we just got back from Michigan last night. But somehow a whole week passed and I don't remember anything we did. Lots of sleeping, I think. No cleaning, that's for sure, although we did do laundry but only out of necessity.

So fast forward to now and we're currently driving to camp. It's a middle school week so I'm preparing myself for crazy/messy games, lots of random conversations about weird things and regulating hygiene to ensure that these kids actually take showers and wear clean clothes every day. Way different from the high schoolers at CIY, so I'm trying to switch gears and remember what it was like to be in middle school. Yikes.

I had hoped to write about my experience at CIY before we left for camp, but I never got my thoughts together enough to form a coherent post. Those deeper, more meaningful topics are always a struggle for me to write about. (And there's no chance of it happening right now with songs blaring on the radio and chats about what will and what won't blow up in the microwave.) I do, however, have 500 pictures from CIY that do a pretty good job summarizing the week. But we're just about to the middle of nowhere and I'll be losing Internet any minute, so more to come after this week!


Back Home

After 12ish hours on the road, we got home from CIY late Saturday night. We were greeted by a massive tree limb that had fallen maybe a foot from my car (and I literally never park where I'd left my car for the week). The same storms that brought down the tree limb also caught our patio table's umbrella and slammed the table back down, resulting in a big ol' mess of broken glass that actually looks kinda cool. On a more positive note, while we were gone the corn got all tassel-y on top (a very good sign) and I picked a big handful of tomatoes to use in marinara sauce sometime this week. More to come about CIY-- it was intense, powerful and an absolutely fantastic week. When I finish processing everything that happened, I'll be sure to tell you all about it. But for the next few days, Deric and I will be sleeping, doing lots of laundry, and cleaning up the aftermath of those storms. It's good to be home!


I've been up since 5am

Right now:

Sitting on the front bench seat of a rented fifteen passenger van with the window ledge digging into my back, cold AC blowing directly on me from the ceiling vent.

Seeing Savana on the seat next to me, curled up under her rainbow blanket and wearing tie dye. (She likes her bright colors.) Watching three high school boys beat each other up, and cornfields pass by in a blur of green with yellow tips.

Listening to said boys laughing so loud as they make fun of each other's moms and quote 21 Jump Street, their new favorite movie. Taylor Swift sings on the radio, and the boys haven't made any move to change stations; sometimes I catch one of them singing along.

Smelling (this is a pleasant surprise) nothing. The rented van is basically brand new and still has the new-car smell. My guess is a few more hours on the road plus a couple more fast food stops, and that new car smell will be a distant memory.

We're spending this next week in Michigan at CIY, a Christian conference for high schoolers. I'm excited-- CIY is motivating and challenging not only to the students, but also to me. I'm praying we all learn a lot and have a great time with each other. Bonus--we're escaping the extreme heat wave that's wreaking havoc on all the southern states! So I'm also praying that heat wave is long gone by the time we head back to Tennessee. Please, Lord!


Anniversary 2.0

Deric asked me a few weeks back if I had anything in mind for our anniversary, to which I replied no. He then said, "Well, what if we did something like Texas Roadhouse and a movie, maybe the Sunsphere....you know, like a repeat of our first date?" I loved the idea, so it was settled. We ended up nixing the Sunsphere (where Deric proposed to me) because dinner + a movie took up the evening as it was.

A low-key and sentimental evening sounded perfect to both of us so we went on our merry way to the Roadhouse and proceeded to eat our weight in rolls and cinnamon butter (sigh...). Almost as an afterthought, I remembered to pull out the real camera (rather than my phone) and document the evening-- our only tradition so far for anniversaries. Honestly, neither of us wanted to take pics-- it was already after 6:00, it was still in the 90's, and those rolls were waiting for us. But you'd never know that from our smilin' faces! A few self-timed pictures later and we were in the blessedly air-conditioned car on our way to dinner. 

We talked over dinner about the four years we've been together--two dating/engaged, two married. The dating period is already getting foggy in my memory, but Deric remembers many more details than I do and it was fun to relive them. Like our first "date", the reason for Texas Roadhouse and a movie. About a month before we actually started dating, my roommate and a few friends put together a surprise birthday dinner for me at the Roadhouse. Deric's job was to entertain me for a few hours prior to the dinner and somehow get me out to the specific Texas Roadhouse they'd chosen. So Deric and I went to see Vantage Point, which I assumed was all we had in store for the evening. On the way out of the theater, Deric mentioned he was really hungry and do I mind if we stop to get dinner? I was already on cloud nine seeing as he'd invited me to the movies, so the prospect of dinner had me on cloud ten (if there is one...). He said he's really in the mood for a steak and he knows there's a Texas Roadhouse near the theater somewhere, so he drove around the shopping center for a few minutes before we found it. On the way in, I noticed my best friend's car in the parking lot and mentioned it to Deric, saying something like "What are the odds that Mandy's here tonight too??". (At this point, Deric said he was sweating bullets that I'd figure it out, but he needn't have worried...I can be an idiot.) We walked in the restaurant, the hostess ruined the surprise when she asked if we're with the birthday party in the back, and I can't remember the rest of the night. ;) But it was a good one, I do know that!

Now, the restaurant and movie theater we went to that night were on the clear opposite side of Knoxville from our school, and it was the only time I ever went out that way--same for Deric. Ironically, we now live less than two minutes from that shopping center. We can actually walk there. Its funny to think we sorta ended up where we started, huh?

Here's to fifty million more years together!



Two Years Already?

Its hard to believe its already been two years since Deric and I got married. But I think I say its "hard to believe" for everything...hard to believe its already the end of June, hard to believe we've been in TN for a year, hard to believe I'm already 24...basically, time just seriously flies when you grow up (yet high school has to last literally forever).

Anyways, these two years have been the happiest of my life. Deric makes me laugh every day. My favorite part of the day is in the evening when Deric comes home, all (or most) of the day's work is done and we can just spend time together. We're partying it up tonight, back with details about our not-too-fancy-but-sentimental date later!

1. First picture as a couple 2. Christmas in Thailand 
3. Wedding day 4. One year anniversary