Wednesday, December 2, 2015

November Nomads

November! I can't believe another month has flown by. November was a crazy month for us - Allie was out of town for 3 weekends in a row, Zach was away leading worship for two, and all of us spent Thanksgiving week/weekend in Florida. It has felt very nomadic with all the comings and goings, but I am grateful for the time we did have together over the past few weeks. Since Allie was out of town so much, we decided to celebrate her 15th birthday in multiple installments throughout the month. And yes, you did hear me correctly. 15. As in, can now get behind the wheel of a car. Lord help us. Ha! Allie is a great kid and we are more grateful with each passing day that she is here with us, but I tell ya what - I have never prayed so much in my life as I have over the past few months. Parenting really does give you a deeper understanding of the magnitude of who Jesus is, what he has done, and how much we need him to make it through every day.

So the week prior to her big day, I surprised her with a trip back to Passion City Church for their monthly women's event called The Grove.

Allie LOVED coming to this last month, but this time we brought along some friends to celebrate with us! Savannah and Andrea are dear friends who share Allie's passion for leading worship. I was so glad these two could come with us and enjoy the night out.
I brought Chipotle for the whole gang (which was an even better birthday treat because SURPRISE - the blessed carnitas had just returned that very day!) as well as homemade chocolate covered oreos (Al's fav) and assorted donuts from Revolution Doughnuts (the bomb-diggity).

Worship that night was led by the David Crowder Band and we had a front row seat, or rather, front row fur palet haha...

 and the guest speaker was the incredible Christine Caine. Allie and I both were so inspired by her and her ministry A21 which is doing so many amazing things to aid the Syrian Refugee Crisis.
It was a great night!
Al's actual birthday was the 15th. Birthday balloons awaiting the birthday girl.

 And some pretty bedside tulips to liven up the place. :)

Birthday girl pics in her new hat thanks to mom and dad!

Per her request, the birthday lunch was spent over at Antico Pizza at Avalon. This is our favorite pizza place and a must try if you are in Alpharetta.
I whipped up some of Allie's favorite fall cookies from scratch (pecan oatmeal cookies filled with apple cinnamon jam) so she could take them to student ministry and share with friends. These cookies are a lot of work, but totally worth it because they are so tasty.
Cookie packaging. 
 After student ministry, we had a little family celebration at home including gifts,
(funny drawing from the Daddy)...
brownie pie (yes please)...
 and of course, the best ice cream ever made and rep'd by the one and only Jimmy Fallon.
On the 3rd weekend of November, Allie headed up to north Georgia with the student ministry for their fall retreat.
This was the first time Allie has ever done a trip like this and she had a blast! It was such a wonderful weekend for her and we couldn't be happier to see her developing friendships and growing in her faith.

We ended up spending Thanksgiving week down in Florida with my parents. This was our first time back here in a few years and it was great to get back to my hometown and see what has changed.

Allie loves Florida and she took total advantage of all the fun aspects of my parent's house. Every night we were there she enjoyed the warmth of the fire pit AND taking a relaxing dip in the jacuzzi .
My little hometown of DeLand has a lot of great new establishments, but I love the character of the old as well.

On Wednesday, mom treated me, Allie, and my MIL to lunch at the Tropical Tea Room.
We ended up having this eclectic and charming place all to ourselves, which was nice given we had to make a fuss trying on numerous hats and accessories before finding the perfect ensemble.

 Cutest/fanciest teapot warmers.

The treats.

After a lovely lunch, we strolled around to check out the shops in downtown. Naturally, the chocolate shop was a hit.

 Soap shopping

It's hard to believe my parents built their log house 28 years ago.
Did I mention how much Al loves Florida life? Ha! I mean... who enjoys cleaning a pool? THIS GIRL.
Many things are exactly the same about this place, but one big thing is very different - the barn! My dad recently built a "hospitality barn", that is to say it's not meant for animals or storage, but for gatherings of family and friends.
This is the second year they have hosted Thanksgiving lunch here and it is the perfect spot, fully equipped with dinner bell.
 Thanksgiving tablescape, courtesy of mom and Aunt Susan...

Allie and the local legend - Tom Bush. Mr. Bush has been a part of our family since my dad was in high school and we are always so happy when he is able to join us for family gatherings!
 The plate. Is there such a thing as casserole overload? I think not (at least on Thanksgiving!). :)
After all the Thanksgiving spread got moved out of the barn, dad wasted no time to set up his Charlie Brown inspired Christmas tree. They have their regular giant tree in the house, but this one is the perfect tree for his cozy barn.
 Birthday celebration (installment 3) resumed Thanksgiving night with a showing of the final Hunger Games film. Please note that my dad - who never ever ever goes to the movies is in attendance. This is truly an act of love. Ha!

On Friday it was a gorgeous day so we took Allie to the beach (birthday celebration installment #4).

 We also brought Chipotle and enjoyed our lunch with this view. I mean, what could be better?

 This girl absolutely loves the beach, well really any opportunity to swim.
 And wrestle with the waves.
Selfie in the sunshine.
 This guy. Always such a stud.

 I love this pic of Zach, Al, and my MIL. I have no idea why they are walking perfectly spaced out, but I had to capture it!
 Football fun.

And on Saturday, before making the long drive back to the A, we had Allie's final birthday celebration at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill, located inside DeLeon Springs State Park.
 Gorgeous oaks, Spanish moss, and sunshine define this place.

 We love the novelty of getting to make your own breakfast right there in the table!
 Cute marbled enamelware.

 Breakfast of champions.

 Thanks mom and dad for a great time in Florida!
Upon returning home, it was time to bust out the Christmas cheer! To my utter surprise, Zach had gone out and bought a tiny tree just for our bedroom while I was out grocery shopping. He knows I love enjoying the glow of the tree each night that he wanted to make sure I didn't miss out when we watch Netflix upstairs. He remembered me oohing and ahhing over all the tiny ones at WholeFoods last year, so I was so touched he not only remembered, but got one all set up for me. He is the BEST. I mean, the very best y'all.
Decorating the big tree together to the tunes of our friend Ryan of Sleeping at Last. Get his Christmas album for free here, but don't forget to tip! All proceeds go to Restore International.
This perfect tree was hand delivered by my dear ol' devoted dad who makes an annual trip from Florida to North Carolina each year for trees. Yes, he REALLY loves Christmas and I'm glad because look what I get to enjoy all month long! Thanks for this beaut of a tree dad. As you would say, it's "the!"
I can't believe it is DECEMBER. Where has the year gone? I know the next few weeks will go by in an absolute flash, but I hope I can savor the special moments each day and spread a little Christmas cheer wherever I go! Here's to the holidays! I hope your days are merry and bright.