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A Rant On Truth

About 1 year into our relationship, Brent had a divine revelation when it comes to arguing: most people are either a Truth person or a Peace person. Brent is peace. I am truth. Basically when we have a disagreement about something, my purpose is for the truth to be revealed while he is more concerned about getting it settled (peace) and moving on.

I've had several posts on here in which I started with full disclosure that the topic came as a result of someone's post on facebook. Well, today is no different. I actually read a comment yesterday and for the first time on this person's wall almost commented. why? Because she blatantly did not tell the truth about this topic. It involves two things I'm pretty passionate about: Dave Ramsey and Christians and our finances.
Because I wouldn't want this person to be offended at anything I say, I won't post ver batum what she posted as her comment, but she basically said that Dave Ramsey would tell you not to adopt if you can't afford it.
This really got me alllll riled up for several reasons:
1. This person - we'll call her Hollie - emailed me last year and specifically asked what Financial Peace University would teach, how it would help and what was the end goal. I explained to her the basic principles and that ultimately it is to be debt free so that we as Christians can do more for the Kingdom of God.
2. FPU's final lesson is ALL about what can be done when we are debt free. The lesson BEGINS with a couple sharing their story that they wanted to adopt, but felt lead to be debt free prior to their adoption. They shared that story with a couple in their church who proceeded to pay off this couple's debt AND also pay for a part of their adoption!!! incredible story. I even googled Dave Ramsey, adoption to see if I could find something specifically where he would even suggest not to adopt. The first result popped up where he had a guest on his show who had adopted children and then wrote a book on how to do it without going into debt. (getting grants, fundraising, etc.). As a man who proclaims Jesus Christ as the only true way to Heaven EVERY single DAY on his Nationally Syndicated talk show, I can't imagine him EVER saying not to adopt (we're commanded to take care of the orphans and widows in the Bible in case you weren't aware)
So why is Hollie slandering this man? I can't figure it out and I think what fires me up more than anything is that in the 143 subsequent comments made on this status update, she continues to out and out lie about DR. I've decided so much of it has to do with her own personal beliefs and feelings towards DR's public stance in politics (she doesn't agree that someone in his position should ever endorse a presidential candidate) and his political beliefs are way more right than hers.
I am saddened by Hollie because she has such a great testimony. Her and her husband have adopted a LOT of children. They've shown these children God's ultimate story of grace and redemption and for that, I know they are truly blessed.
She is constantly criticizing Christians for slandering other Christians, yet she does it consistently on her own platform.
She stated multiple times complete falsehoods and even when commentors would state the truth, Hollie would proceed to attack them and gang up against these people.
Hollie continues to say that Dave teaches to live on your own provisions, not God's, but that is not accurate at all. The Bible clearly commands us as Christians to not be servant to the lender (ie: stay out of debt) Prov 22:7. In fact, visit where he has over 800 scriptures listed in regards to money.

Romans 13:8 - "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."
Proverbs 28:20 "A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished."

I could on and on, but seriously, visit his site if you want to read more. Or better yet, look it up in your own Bible.
Hollie continues on to bash Dave stating she doesn't believe we should store up so much treasure here on Earth. Well duh, Hollie, Dave will tell you the same. He will tell you though to be prepared. Be smart and that even God commands us to be good stewards with our money. 1 Tim 5:8: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
Dave teaches that we should prepare for the future. Do the best with what He blesses us with and the ultimate goal of Financial Peace is to get to Baby step 7: (straight from his website)

Baby Step 7 Build wealth and give!

It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess. It's really the only way to live!

Golda Meir says, “You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” Vow to never hold your money so tightly that you never give any away. Hoarding money is not the way to wealth. Save for yourself, save for your family’s future, and be gracious enough to bless others. You can do all three at the same time.

To say things like this man is out to build wealth and man-made riches is completely false. Is Dave Ramsey a wealthy man? Yes. He has a multi-million dollar home that he PAID for IN CASH because he WORKED for it.
Will Dave tell you to get out of debt before you make ANY decision? Yes. You can even hear a live phone call in which a woman asks specifically if she and her husband should adopt with XX amount of debt. He advises her to pay it off first, then proceed.
If you listen to Dave, you know he does not believe in debt. He will 99% of the time tell you to avoid debt at all costs. He will tell you to pay it off before moving on.

And Hollie, if you really cared what Dave Ramsey thought and you really knew what he said on adoption, you would know this is the premise to him ever telling someone to wait to adopt. It's not because he thinks you should build up your wealth. It's not because he wants you to gain all you can in the American dream. In fact, if you listen to his show for 1 week, you'll likely hear one of his many rants to a wife whose husband has toys - boats, atvs, etc - while their family is in debt up to their eyeballs or to the wife who keeps running up the credit card bill because she keeps shopping. Just listen and you'll realize you are WAY off when it comes to DR's teachings, his motives and how he wants us as Christians to live.
Dave is a Christian. One that loves God. One that is a successful business owner that has somehow figured out how to mesh being a Christian business owner and success into the mainstream world. Don't start picking on someone and stating false statements if you've never taken their classes, read their material or consistently learned about what they truly teach. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. Don't talk about people being unintelligent on certain topics, when you yourself will attack someone's teachings before even knowing truth.

I'm done ranting about Hollie. We clearly do not see eye to eye and I will likely never post my opinion directly on her FB wall because while I enjoy a good debate, I won't partake with someone who cannot respect an opinion if it doesn't line up with her own. That's all...I'm done for now :)

I really love this video if you have a few minutes if you have never heard of Dave Ramsey other than my blog.

Gabbie's Fun Life

Yesterday Gabbie and I were at home and I was watching her play independently in our living room when I realized she has changed so much in just a few short weeks/months. I wanted to blog about it not only to share with everyone else, but also because I'm realizing how quickly her little life is changing!

So here's what she's up to these days...

Her favorite thing to do is to play with babies. She has a baby doll that Aunt Jennifer gave her for her birthday that is inflatable so it feels more life-like ? maybe. Not sure, but it's definitely the biggest baby she has, so I think Gabbie feels as though it's more life-like. Yesterday I caught her on video as she was rocking and singing to her baby. Prior to breaking out the camera, she had covered up her baby with a blanket and kept coming to me saying "shhh" and I asked if she was sleeping, Gabbie said "yesss." It was too sweet. When I got out the camera, she got a little camera shy, but I finally convinced her to go back to her sweet ways with her baby. She proceeded to rock the baby, sing to her (which is actually a compilation of Twinkle Twinkle, Jesus Loves Me and the ABC's which is hilarious.) The video's a little long, but super cute if you have a few minutes.

The other new thing she's up to these days is "Mama, Look. Mama. Mama, Look" It's so fun and yes, some days I hear it over 100 times. The car is the best/worst - if I don't turn around and look at her in the back seat, she will continue to say "mama. Maaaamma LOOK" and usually it's just her showing off a "new" skill such as being able to put both of her feet on the backs of the front seats. If Brent's with me, the conversation typically goes like this, "Mama, Look. Mamma. Maaama." and if I don't respond, it becomes, "Brent. Look." Yes, she calls him Brent occasionally. It is hilarious. She's definitely called me by my first name a few times, but for the most part it's Mama because I correct her when she calls me anything else.

Gabbie's vocabulary has definitely exploded. She's definitely not a big talker, but she's coming a long way on putting words together, learning certain phrases. I've really been working with her on colors and letters, she's getting there and on a regular basis can recognize pink and yellow and can draw a circle on her chalkboard on most days. This all just started in the past 2-3 weeks.

We've had such beautiful weather in the afternoons these past few weeks that we spend most of our afternoons outside in the street playing with all the other neighbors. Gabbie's the youngest by at least 18 months, but I think that's what she loves about it so much - they all fawn over her and love all her toys. I love this age because she can hold her own with everyone, but she's still young enough that most of the girls love treating her like a baby. It's really fun and reminds me so much of growing up in a neighborhood where all the kids came outside and played together. Most of the time when we're outside, Gabbie attempts to ride her tricycle while the other kids ride their bikes. She also loves to play with bubbles and chalk which leads for some interesting artwork on the street in front of our house and on Gabbie herself (most of the time, we end up with more chalk on Gabbie than on the street).

Going out in public is always fun too - she is quite the social butterfly and typically waves and says hieee to people we interact with at the store. She seems to eat up the attention most of the time. She gets stickers from the grocery store people and loves it. She typically responds with "Thank you" which of course melts my heart that she's already working on her manners.

She loves going to church and squeals with delight when we pull into the parking lot. We're working on her getting excited to learn about Jesus and the Bible instead of her friends (typically she says, "MAYME!" when we pull in, but we're working on it. :) Hey, at least she loves going. She normally waits patiently while we check her in and print off her name tag, turns around so we can put it on her back, then takes off to her room, literally running through the door. {Do YOU get that excited about going to church?} ha

This is such a fun age and I know anyone with a 2 year old will probably tell you so. They are little learning machines, soaking up as much as possible, coming to me with whatever she discovers to show me, loving me and wanting all my attention. It's so fun to sit back and just watch her learn on her own - touching a grasshopper and watching it as it hops out of sight. Interacting with Fletcher and learning that if you throw the toy, he'll chase it and bring it back then laughing in delight over the entire transaction. She's also still a great eater - on most days she eats whatever I put in front of her, but still her favorites include sweet potatoes, milk, yogurt, cheese (all time favorite), and fruit - especially grapes right now. She also looooves raisins which comes out kind of like "rai-sens" which is a top request at snack time.

Most days when I get her out of bed she is practicing getting into a nudist colony and informs me very quickly, "dia-perr" because it's usually on the floor outside of her crib along with her pajamas.

We love this little girl. She brings so much joy and happiness to our lives and to others she interacts with.

Send a Friend to Guatemala

Do you remember back in March when I blogged all about my trip to Guatemala? This was definitely a life-changing trip for me. I made such great friends and connections, I had experiences I'll never forget and it definitely changed me and my outlook on God's love, grace and mercy.

In just 2 weeks, a really great friend of Brent and mine is moving to Guatemala to live for at least the next year. He will be working with the same organization we did back in March, Engadi Ministries.
I believe because of Eric's willingness to give up his comfortable life here in the U.S. and move to Guatemala that God is going to provide all that he needs for this year long journey.
Today Eric is doing a Facebook campaign to raise as much money as possible (his goal is $3,000 but he actually needs $8,000 total to meet his goal of $15,000 for the year). Would you be willing to visit his page and give a donation? Even just $25 or whatever your budget will allow.
I posted more than 9 different entries in regards to my trip earlier this year. If you want to look over the pictures or my journaling about the experience, visit this page.

The Mouses Next Door

My neighbor's dog has killed 4 "mouses" in their backyard over the past few days (as told me to by their kindergartner). This morning she called me over to help her figure out for sure what is this rodent running in her yard. As we both hover over this 2 1/2 inch long, lifeless, furry animal, fear rose up from our feet to our heads as we explored the possibility that this animal would come alive and attack us all. Yeah right. At one moment, I even commented on how silly it was that here we were two grown women frozen in fear over a 2 1/2 inch long furry, lifeless animal. We didn't know what it was capable of doing. We didn't know if it were to come alive which way it would run - up our pants leg like some cartoon we'd likely both seen in our lifetime. Or would it suddenly grow fangs and inject rabies in our blood?

Ok, so I can have a pretty vivid imagination. What can I say?
But what is it in your life that you fear because you don't know what it is capable of doing? Which direction it will take? Or what attack it will use?

What's so ironic about this scenario this morning is that it literally came minutes after closing up a chapter of a very solid book I've started reading in the mornings: What Women Fear - Angie Smith. I can't say I am someone who is overcome with fear on a regular basis not like some of my dearest friends who have shared their fears. So many moms deal with the fear that something will happen to their children or their families. And while I definitely have had those thoughts, I have to say I am not someone who lets it consume me.
I do however deal greatly with the fear that I won't be accepted. Yep. I'm pretty open and vulnerable, I get that, but after reading something this morning in my time that just hit the nail on the head for me, I have decided that being open and vulnerable is the only way any of us will ever grow.
I get to start back up in a women's Bible study next week - the one I've spoken about quite frequently here over the past 2 years. That first year, this group of women was so refreshing to me. I had a small group of very open and honest women. We had a leader who was very in-tune to what our group needed on a weekly basis and it didn't always involve following that day's line up of questions. I got so much out of this group that I joined again last year. But we all know that different stages of our lives call for different ministries and last year, I didn't get quite the same warm cozy feeling. I started blaming other people until today when I read this:

"We can become so caught up in what we think people are seeing in us that we lose sight of who we are. As a result, we may begin to shut down socially and decide that building walls makes more sense than a broken heart. As a result, many of us talk about the weather at Bible study instead of the fight we had with our teenage daughter the night before knowing that we might be labeled as an overprotective parent or the one who can't control their children. And long after the issue is resolved, we will still be seen as the one who messed up. The labels we create (and dwell on) for each other are killing our chances for genuine community and we are missing the best part of each other."

wow. I don't even know where to start on this excerpt, except it hits so many different scenarios for me: family, some of my closest friends are not transparent with me and vice versa, going to my women's study each week and not feeling connected, and even the community group we were a part of for a while - it always seems in every situation that time goes on (years!) and you realize you don't really know someone. When I think about this commentary and the whole "we don't share what's really going on because we're too afraid of the label that will be attached to us from that point forward" I just think that hits the nail on the head.

But what about the flip side of that: are you just as guilty of labeling someone based on something they share? As much as I don't want to admit it, I know I am guilty. I'm sorry. So many people need grace and wisdom when they become vulnerable, not labels and judgement.

One of the most successful community groups from our church (and success to me is measured by the number of people who are doing anything they can to be a part of it) has great leaders. I've spoken with the wife about why it is so successful and she thinks it is because from day one of each new year, her and her husband are brutally honest with everyone in their group and challenges its members to do the same. She has said that she tells them if you are not open and transparent here and tell us about what is going on in your lives, how can we truly be a community group? Sharing life and praying for you, standing beside you through all of life's journey. THAT my friend is what a community group is all about. Or any group. A group of friends. A group of bible study. Hey, even your FAMILY should operate this way, but we all know they don't always.

I'm not sure I have a great wrap up point here, but I had to get my thoughts on the blog this morning. I've sent an email to two different people discussing this same topic because I was so on fire about it when I first read it this morning.

What is it that you are afraid of? What is it that's keeping you from fulfilling what God has called you to do and to be?

You are created in the image of God gifted with His love and desire to use you. Do you wear that proudly or have you stuffed it in a drawer in favor of something you think is better?

Gabbie's 2 City Tour

Well the Two City Tour has come and gone. For some crazy reason we decided it would be a great idea to have a birthday party in two locations for Gabbie's second birthday this year. Of course the initial intentions were that each would be low key - nothing like last year's big par-tay.

So Sunday night we had a few friends over to the house and had Gabbie's Fiesta of a party. With 2 of Gabbie's closest buddies and 2 other families, it was a much more intimate affair which was perfect for this age group. Not too overwhelming and just enough time together they weren't overly exhausted. We had chicken quesadillas, the girls made some elmo puppets, played in the backyard (because it was unseasonably cool yet again for a summer birthday party at the Whitakers this summer), did some coloring, ate plenty of cake and ice cream and just had a flat out great time. I think the biggest gift hit by far was the bubbles that the Sapps gave her. She FLIPPED out squeeling in delight when she spotted them in the bag. It was too funny because I have a closet full of bubbles I had forgotten about - they've definitely become a fan favorite and we've spent almost every afternoon in the backyard with bubbles ever since. {Annnd the batteries were dead in my camera so zero pictures to be posted from Sunday night. I have a good friend who thankfully had a camera, so I did get a few shots, just don't have them yet....I'll post them when they get to me!}

A few days later, we packed up the tour and headed to Chattanooga for the second stop in our 2 city tour event. This time we held it outside at a playground close to my parent's house. We have been having really nice afternoons/evenings, with cooler temperatures, so I hoping and praying the weather would behave. Welll the good thing is that it didn't rain and instead was about 95 degrees even at 6:30 p.m. We made the most of it and served up our ice cream pretty early into the party. With every topping imaginable for your ice cream sundae, all of Gabbie's guests got packed full of sugar, then hit the playground. All of Gabbie's bestest little buddies in Chattanooga {Read: Brent & my friends and their kiddos} came out for the evening along with most of our family that lives in Chattanooga as well. It really was so much fun and of course, like all fun things, the time FLEW. Before I knew it, it was 8:30 and most of our guests were heading home. Gabbie walked away with a plethora of gifts but I think her favorite by far was the baby and baby bed my sister passed down (it was ours when we were little). The baby that came along with it was Brittany's and Gabbie loves it. I think mainly because it's more life-size than her others. 1 week later and she's still loving that baby and baby bed (that my grandfather made by the way).

Mi Padres: trying to stay cool...
UTC girls catching up
Jen & I: servers extraordinaire.
Ada love eating some pizza donated by the party next to us.

cutie pie Nolan chowing down on ice cream!

Hey Jack, when will we get some ice cream? - Everest
Gabbie thoroughly enjoying her birthday ice cream cone - a big treat for this kiddo!

Happy Jack!!
Brittany & Gabbie swinging - G's favorite playground activity.

Gabbie trying out her new ride from Mammaw & Pappaw
and I have a LOT more pictures from the party but Blogger is acting up and I can't get any more photos to upload right

The Two Year Old Post

Two. Dos. One + One. Yep. It's here: TWO. My Gabbie girl went from being a baby to a full-grown toddler. And while it seems as though it happened over night, it really hasn't. She's been developing into this beautiful little person.
I was flipping through pictures from this entire year and it's amazing just how much she has changed & grown.
Right now I have so many favorite things about Gabbie I'm not sure where to even start. A few weeks ago she started saying, "Baby, uh-oh" just out of no where. Brent and I couldn't stop laughing the night she was doing it - it literally came out of no where. It kind of sounds like a song - who knows, maybe one day it will be a #1 hit.
She's always loved Fletcher and Fiona, but lately she's really loved them. She chases them with her baby stroller or tries to brush them with a normal hairbrush or randomly walks up to Fletcher to give him a kiss on his back. She really loves them. I guess they're the closest thing she has to a brother and sister for now - HA.

She's still a great eater and I'm not sure she has something that's more of a favorite food than any other thing but some of her favorite things (read: things I give her to eat ALL. THE. TIME.) include Waffles (which she says, "Waa-ful") , smoothies, she LOVES milk - especially in this new frozen cup I bought her, all types of fruit, she loves all Mexican food (we actually served Chicken Quesadillas at her birthday dinner because she loves it so much), and occasionally, she gets a special treat of Sweet CeCe's frozen yogurt. She LOVES it (even though she hasn't figured out that I usually just do mostly fruit and don't give her much of the frozen yogurt yet).

We have a nightly routine where we give her a bath and then I stand her up on my dresser to dry her hair. She's become so girly while doing this and always looks through my jewelry box, holds up earrings to ears and recently has started trying to put on my deodorant. It's too cute.

She LOVES technology too - I know it's just the whole button pushing & seeing immediate results but it's hilarious. I love this picture because this is SOOO her right now - she will hold up the camera to herself and say, "cheeese." Even if I hold up the cell phone camera she does that too. It's hilarious - going back to the whole turning into a little adult lately.

The name of the game lately is just PLAY. She loves the playground across the street, she loves the slide in her playroom, she loves the playhouse and she absolutely adores our neighbor's kids. They play with Gabbie like she's a baby doll, but Gabbie loves it. Earlier this summer she got invited to their backyard to play on their slip n slide and Gabbie loved every minute. Yesterday she was playing in the playroom and squealed with delight when she saw the neighbors were outside playing. We immediately charged out the door to catch some play time with them. It's so funny to watch Gabbie - she tries to act like a big kid right along with them.

She also LOVES her BFF Mayme. I mean LOVES this girl. When we pull into the church parking lot on Sundays, she usually starts saying, Mayme Mayme. She loves her so much she always wants to hold her hand - like this time when she grabbed Mayme's hand who was so excited about it as you can see...

This year, we also did WAY more traveling: San Francisco, St Augustine, Orlando, and Kentucky. She became a GREAT little flyer and I'm sure it had so much to do with us getting used to flying with a toddler {do you ever get used to flying with a toddler?}

Most recently Moncrief Photography did an incredible session for Gabbie's second birthday. It was posted on Facebook and received RAVE reviews, but I think it's only appropriate to include it in this 2 year old post. It really documents sooo well what our family looks like right now with a two year old who is full of life and love. We love our Gabbie girl so much - this upcoming year has so many exciting things in store, starting with her first days at preschool in September. I know she will become this little adult over night.

My big girl on her birthday: I love you Gabbie girl!!

End of July Already?

wow can summer really be coming to an end? Someone said yesterday that Christmas is just four months away. WHOAH. Is that possible? I was just counting down the days for the pool to open and applying sunscreen so we wouldn't get scorched. Now, I deal with the comments on my "coppertone baby" and marvel at how her skin color makes her look more like one of those beautiful Guatemalan children I saw back in March rather than my own Caucasian bambino. ha
We've had such a great summer and this morning while I read over the literal hundreds of Facebook updates on sending kids off to their first day of school, it really is amazing how quickly life is passing by. Don't get me wrong, we love every minute of our life, but we also stay so busy I sometimes wonder just how bad this whole "blink and they will be off to college" thing will happen. I know it's coming, I don't need additional comments. It also helps with the whole keeping it in perspective to just enjoy every minute of every day with my family that I get.

This summer has been so great - I just wrapped up a weekly Bible study with a group of women that has been fantastic. We studied the book of Revelation which I had never really done. It was Beth Moore's lecture series on the chapter and was super. It was no where near as in depth as it could have been and she constantly stated that truth, but I did learn sooo much. Much more than I could ever really mention in a simple blog post.
I definitely am learning to keep things in perspective. To continue walking the straight line, glorifying God in all of my actions and thoughts and words. That walking in the light reveals all just how dirty things really are. Reminding me that God has called us to be overcomers, but we have to overcome stuff in order to become overcomers. WOW Isn't that so great?
That He is so many things (Sovereign, Majestic, Holy, King of Kinds and Lord of Lords) but He is also a Romantic. He is in love with us and says he "betroths us to Himself" not "this is the old woman" but "this is my Bride. I love her." He loves us in that stage of romance called attachment - remember when you were dating or first married and that stage where you didn't think you could survive unless you were with your spouse? That you wanted every single moment to be with your spouse. THAT is how God feels about us.
Yep. Those are my summaries of my Revelation study. Not quite what you think would come from a study on Revelation. "The book of end times" is how we typically see it, but honestly it's really all about Jesus.

We've also had a wonderful person living with us this summer and it has been so fantastic. She has been such a huge help with Gabbie (she watches her for me while I work a few hours each week) and of course gave Brent and I a few date nights throughout the summer. In return, we enjoyed her company and just loved having her with us. She's moving out this Friday because it's time for her to go back to school too. We got to meet her family, spend a weekend at their lakehouse this summer and just overall enjoy her here. I keep telling her how sad I am about her not being around after this Friday - I think she thinks I'm just being nice, but really - Gabbie asks for her the second she gets up every morning, has this whole good bye in the morning routine with her and just overall enjoys her company as well. Needless to say, our family will miss having her here 24/7.

Here's G & I on a boat ride at the lake...

We've done some other fun activities over the summer that I haven't blogged about: The Williamson County fair this past weekend, a weekend in Chattanooga that included Gabbie's first time fishing off the dock at Chester Frost, meeting my parent's new dog, Duke, attempting for a second year to grow a garden (while fighting off the craziest looking creatures from destroying all my work) and MANY hours spent at the pool.

fishing off the dock at Chester Frost Park.

Meeting Duke - my parent's new black miniature schnauzer. He loooved Gabbie (and the feelings were reciprocated each time he licked her face)

My friend Anne & I did a Paint Your Own piece kind of thing one night for a girl's night. It was really fun and we walked away with a few masterpieces...

My niece and nephews came for their annual week-long visits over the summer which was awesome. They are all starting big days at school this year: The oldest starting his senior year, the middle one starting his last year in middle school and the youngest starting her first day in middle school. They're all looking very grown up these days and it's just unbelievable still.

So my next post will likely be about my baby turning TWO in just a few days. This second year of her life has been phenomenal, but it deserves an entire separate post of its own full of all the things we love about her and how just wonderful she is. So stay tuned....

June: Fast & Furious

{you can see ALL the pictures from ALL of these events by clicking on this link and visiting the album on Picasa Web Albums.}
The month of June is coming to an end and here I sit again wondering where did it go? We have had SUCH a great first month to summer. Seriously. Brent and I were just saying last night that we "thrive" in the summer months. We have had a lot going on with every single event being just as fun as the previous.

We started off the month with being in Lexington, KY with the best travel friends anyone could ask for. We decided to spend Memorial Day doing something fun but of course had to limit it to a quick drive - Lexington was a perfect fit!
We stayed with Brittany's sister and had SUCH a great time doing a variety of fun things including a tour of the Woodford Reserve - the premier bourbon distillery in the U.S. It was interesting, just probably not the most family-friendly setting with 2 toddlers and a newborn while going through a walking, talking tour. Let's just say the tour guide stopped what she was saying on multiple occasions to get onto our girls: both of which are really well-behaved children. We just laughed about it and realized it was way more fun to make light of the situation than to get frustrated. The rest of the weekend was spent with our BFF's having fun adult time (we hired sitters that Brittany's sister knew really well) and then having a HUGE get together with a friend of Britt's sister - he has a HUGE Italian family and I think we all became envious of their camaraderie. It was so fun!

Two weeks after Lexington we attended the Annual CMA Fest at LP Field. It's hard to believe this is our third year attending - our first time was right after we had moved to Nashville and we lucked up on tickets. {and I thought I had blogged about it back then, but I guess not} Now it's become a tradition with each year growing with the number of friends attending with us and making more memories! This year our friends the Parsons and Moncriefs were not able to attend, which was really strange - they were "original" members of our CMA crew. This one's from last year where we snuck in some cupcakes to celebrate Brent's 29th' birthday and Gabbie was sound asleep in the bathroom the whole time. HA
But this year, we had the biggest group yet - Brent and I relished the various friendships represented in the room. Not to mention, the incredible performances on stage!
CMA Fest was an even bigger deal this year because it was in integral part of a HUGE surprise party I threw for Brent the following weekend. I had planned the party for over a month, with a lot of different moving parts. I had told Brent that I had a big surprise but really didn't want to tell him. Finally, he convinced me to tell him so I did: I had set up a golf game for him and a few of his friends (really true) and then we were all going to go to Margaritaville in downtown Nashville (not real) once they got home. He was PUMPED. Of course, then I started getting nervous that he was going to be disappointed that we didn't actually go to Margaritaville - ha.
Anyway, while he is out playing golf on Saturday, pretty much 45 of our closest friends showed up at our house, parked in the back of our neighborhood and were shuttled to our house.

They were THE biggest troopers as most of them had arrived over 1 hour before Brent finally arrived (because of the rain that day, it took longer for them to wrap up their golf game). Before Brent left, I asked that he give me a call so that I could have some snacks and food ready for us to munch on before we headed downtown {wink wink}. I had so much fun getting this party together. The overall theme was all about Brent - keeping it simple from the entertainment {I got him an iPod Touch as his gift and had it loaded up ready to go with party attendees adding their favorite songs to the play lists}, to the food {hot dogs and chips}, dessert {red velvet cupcakes & snow cones} and games {a 2 man team tournament of ladder golf, corn hole and home run derby}. We really had such a great time and the weather was nothing less than perfect. Because of the storms earlier in the day (threatening to sabotage the entire day), the evening was unseasonably cool - with temps in the high 80s and zero humidity. {score!}
By far, though, the best part of the entire event was the look on Brent's face when he walked through the patio door, and all 40 of our friends yelled "SURPRISE!" He looked at me and mouthed, "I had no idea." It was sooo cool and such a feeling of accomplishment that I had managed to pull of such a big surprise. So. Much. Fun.
Needless to say he had a great time, with so many friends making the trek up from Chattanooga as well as all our friends locally - we are so thankful for each and every one of them that came.

Next up was a beach trip with my parents. A few months ago my mom called and was so excited she had booked a condo for her and my dad in St Augustine. After explaining that she had asked everyone if they could come, she said she had given up and they were just going to enjoy it to themselves - possibly taking my niece. Well, being the good daughter I am, I invited ourselves to go along! We had so much fun doing all those fun things you do on a beach vacation: sleep in, pack up everything you own for a morning on the beach, picnic lunches on the beach, afternoon naps during afternoon storms, afternoons spent by the pool and then of course yummy seafood dinners. Brent and I went to St Augustine years ago before we were married and my entire extended family went for a week. This time around was way different, but I have decided the secret to a trip with a toddler is to take along grandparents: one of them will always be on the same nap schedule as your toddler. {ha} While Gabbie had been to the ocean at the first of the year in San Francisco, you might remember we looked a lot more like we worked for the Weather Channel than we looked like beach-goers. So actually this was her first true beach trip. I was anxious to see how she handled the whole sand on my hands, dirty, thing, but she loved it. I mean LOVED it. She couldn't get enough of running back and forth between the sand and the water especially playing with my niece.

She also really loved chasing all the seagulls and other birds. She even loved walking into the water, waves splashing and everything. She does not however like going under the water (she's that way even in the pool) but as long as she was attached to Brent or me, she was good. Crazy story: one day we were sitting out on this sand bar literally 40 feet from the shore line. Brent and I had closed our eyes and were relaxing then out of no where I hear, "HOLY COW!" from Brent. A small shark had swam up beside us while we were in our chairs. It was so crazy!
Overall we had a great time in St. Augustine. We had to get back on Wednesday because I had a wedding order for the 4th of July weekend, but we had a good, solid 5 days with my parents and niece. There's not much better in life than a fabulous beach vacation that involves relaxation and good memories.
Once we got back to Nashville, it was 4th of July weekend and I had a big wedding cake order. I had to miss out on the annual Whitaker family gathering at the lakehouse, but Brent and Gabbie hit the road and represented the Little Whitakers. There are several pictures from that weekend as well.
Oh and here are some pictures from the wedding order I had as well: 350 chocolate chip cookies, 6 strawberry cakes, 3 pecan pies and 3 blueberry pies. They were all a huge hit and I was extremely flattered at the numerous compliments from all the desserts. I also thought this was such a neat idea on an alternative to the traditional wedding cake especially when the Bride and or groom don't care for cake!

Wow ok that was a LOT. I started writing this blog post on July 1st - 11 days ago. Seriously? WoW. We've already experienced even more to blog about, but that will come later or maybe not at all.
Let's just say we've experienced a U2 concert, an incredible trip to an incredible Lakehouse and even more. I'm even crazy and thinking of embarking on a potty training adventure in the next 24 hours: YIKES.
Stay tuned opp knockers and thanks for your patience while I try to get back in to a better blogging schedule!