Saturday, February 21, 2015

3 Hearts

Last weekend our family of three had an incredible President's Day weekend together.  That holiday weekend doesn't always coincide with Valentine's Day, but it has the last two years and it has been awesome! Last year, Zach and I threw Allie a Titanic-themed Valentine's Day party because she was totally obsessed with the movie. lol It was loads of fun (you can read about it here), but this year... I wanted to do something different.

Instead of being focused on what fun thing we could do for ourselves, I wanted us to serve some people who might not be particularly looking forward to Valentine's Day - ladies who no longer get to celebrate with their Valentine because he has passed away. We decided we would take flowers and macarons to a few widows in our new church to spread the Valentine's Day love and hopefully bring a little joy to their day.

Bouquets ready to go!

These beautiful raspberry lemon macarons were made by my amazing co-worker Sam. She is so talented and such a blessing to me.

Wrapped and ready to go!

A basket full of blossoms.
Al ready to make some ladies' day!

Our first delivery was to the one person on our list we actually knew - Zach's mom! My MIL does so much for all three of us so it was fun to surprise her at work with a little Valentine's Day treat.
The rest of our deliveries went great and honestly... I was taken aback by how emotional it was. I knew they would appreciate us stopping by, but I just... didn't prepare myself for the tears and how touched they would be. I am SO glad we did this and am very grateful to Trisha, Zach's co-worker, for helping us connect with these ladies. 

After our afternoon filled with floral deliveries and showing Allie our new church, we headed down to Decatur for Nathan's show at Eddie's Attic.
Oh my heart. This girl.
Eddie's Attic is an intimate music venue/listening room tucked away above an alley in Decatur's charming downtown. Known for launching artists such as John Mayer and Sugarland, major artists and indie artists alike have taken the stage here to share their heart and souls through music.
Nathan is a dear friend of ours and forever songwriter co-collaborator with Zach. Before meeting their wives, Zach and Nathan were roommates and tour-mates living in Decatur and now years later, are more like brothers than friends. We were so excited to bring Allie to one of his shows and at Eddie's on Valentine's Day? This was just too perfect!
The show was fantastic and I found myself beaming with pride watching Nathan sing his heart out while stealing the hearts of his audience.

As the show went on, I couldn't help but think back over all the memories Zach and I share that involve Nathan. He's been on this journey with us since the very beginning. The first time Zach and officially "went out" was to see Nathan play at another venue in town called Daneman's. Months later, Nathan would not only be a groomsman in our wedding, but sing in our wedding too. As the years have gone by and Zach and I have moved around, Nathan has been one of the few to visit us/stay with us at every house we've lived in, filling our home with much music, laughter, and friendship.

After a great time at Eddie's, we headed home for the final installment of our Valentine's Day festivities- eating decadent treats and watching a movie at home.

In addition to making some simple chocolate-covered strawberries (and heck, why not some chocolate-covered oreos too?!)

I whipped up some oreo ice cream sundae brownies.
Yes you heard me right. These brownies have cookies n' cream ice cream, hot fudge, and whole oreos baked right into them.
All in all, it was an absolutely marvelous Valentine's Day spent with my family!

Sunday's activities mostly revolved around church (and Chipotle haha). 
Allie attended jHi (Perimeter's student ministry) for the first time and loved it. Praise Jesus!
Ya know if I'm honest... I have been really stressed about this transition because we want Allie to have real, lasting community here. As we checked Allie in and she walked off with one of the leaders... panic set in. Would she have a good time? Would she make friends? Was she going to like it as much as she liked 12Stone? I so badly wanted to control this situation. I wanted to already know 50 people in student ministry that I could instantly connect her with. I wanted to shape her experience to make sure it was 100% positive and the youth group of her dreams, but... it was out of my control. We have barely been at Perimeter a month and I didn't know a single person involved with students. Panic. Panic. Panic. Luckily, Allie had the complete opposite reaction I did. Gosh y'all... she is so confident, so bold, so mature, just... so beautiful. I swear her insides are coated in gold or something, she is just such a treasure! Her reaction to heading into this new, rather intimidating environment was simply, "Hey.. starting something new isn't always easy, but I gotta get over this hump. So let's do this." SMH... she's amazing. And she had the best time. And not only that, but we found her encouraging other girls SHE JUST MET to get over their fears (singing in front of people) and just go for it. I love how she loves people and so willingly shares her heart with others. She's the coolest middle school girl EVER. 

On Monday I took off work so I could spend as much time with Al as possible. We decided to go get manicures at Polished and I introduced her to the wonderful magic of gel polish. It lasts forever!!! 
 Only someone this hip and stylish can pull off neon green glitter polish. Ha!
And then Zach FINALLY got to take us to Wildflour Cafe to try "the best sandwich he's ever had." He's been raving about it since he stopped here for lunch a few weeks back and... he was right. This rosemary chicken sandwich did not disappoint! If you are in the Alpharetta area, you should totally check it out!
Well guys... there's another great weekend in the books! Every time Allie is home we are more and more amazed - with her personal growth, with prayers for her being answered (some almost instantaneously!), with the way our relationships are flourishing and our three hearts are just more and more bonded together. Words cannot express the special relationship Allie and Zach share and we are just so incredibly humbled and grateful for it. We are so blessed by this girl and the honor of parenting her. I simply cannot wait for Allie's spring break in just a few weeks. We are going on vacation and it is going to be chock full of new adventures!

Friday, February 20, 2015

SoCal So Nice

An unexpected blessing from my job is the ability to travel. I never thought a showroom manager position would take me to Toronto, Miami, and now southern California in just a few short months, but I have been so pleasantly surprised by the opportunities. For the most part, my work travel is related to either training or regional meetings. My trip to Santa Monica this month was for the former, allowing me to gain some experience in another showroom and see how another showroom manager works.

Some showroom pics

It was a wonderful trip for many reasons and such a blast to be back in California. My counterpart in Santa Monica was my host during my stay and she knocked it out of the park! I am so grateful for her and the experiences she shared with me.

We went to some great restaurants including Urth Cafe-
(fresh, gluten free goodness)
where I had my very first boba! (basically a blended tea that has gummy, tapioca pearls at the bottom that you eat.) It was really good!
For dinner my first night we went to Sugar Fish for a true sushi experience.
I was a little skeptical when my friend Goli suggested we forgo any of the typical rolls and do the "Trust Me" menu selection. I usually am not a huge "eat a slab of raw fish by itself" type person, but she promised me it would be awesome and... she was right. The fish was so fresh, flavors so rich, and I can honestly say I loved it. 
One of my favorite things about dining in SoCal is all the places you can eat outside. It's just gorgeous... all the time! 

(Patio of Mondo Taco)
I also was happy to return to my favorite little cupcakery in Santa Monica called Vanilla Bake Shop. I came here years ago when cupcakes were just becoming all the rage. 
 Our afternoon sweet treats.
 In addition to great restaurants I also really enjoyed my hotel. The Shore Hotel is located right on Ocean Ave. near the pier and is very unique from an architectural standpoint.

Cute, vibrant rooms.
One of my favorite things about it was that is had succulents EVERYWHERE. I mean.. everywhere - at the front door, around the pool, on my patio... all different types, textures, colors. These are my favorite plants!
During my last night here, I spent the evening walking around the 3rd St. Promenade (big outdoor shopping/dining area),
checking out some shops (like the biggest, 2-story Anthro I've ever seen...)
and just soaking up every ounce of this wonderful place. Everything was so beautiful to me - the perfectly groomed landscaping, the unique architecture, and every outdoor patio was drenched in the most romantic, honey colored light. I could walk around this place forever!

After picking up dinner at ShopHouse Kitchen (the new, thai version of Chipotle that is ah-mazing), I headed back to the hotel to eat my dinner poolside.

 Jasmine tea ginger ale. Ahh... so good.
And what would a trip to southern California be without some epic west coast sunsets?!

Before heading into work my last morning, I had to pop across the street and take some pics of the coast from Palisades Park.
 The life of a Santa Monica homeless person. (Things could be worse lol)

 Baywatch anybody?
Typical, touristy shot of the pier.

The worst part about my trip was that Zach wasn't there. Had he been with me I would have asked to stay forever. Ha! After this trip and Miami I have definitely discovered the secret to surviving the winter: GO TO THE BEACH. For realz. You appreciate it so much more in the winter time because it is such a much needed retreat from the dreary cold. So thanks SoCal (and Goli!) for treating me so nice. You've made a friend in me forever and I can't wait for my next visit in September!!!