Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our Summer Bucket List


Summer is almost among us! We cannot wait! We have never once created a summer bucket list before (what were we thinking?!), but we have decided that this should be our little family tradition before every summer hits (maybe even winter too!). We sat down and thought of everything we wanted to do.

Travis really wants to go to a water park since the words "Summer Bucket List" were muttered and has mentioned it every day since. He makes me laugh.

We also want to explore something in East Tennessee, even though we're not really sure what we want to do just yet. Any suggestions?

"In summer, the song sings itself"
-William Carlos Williams

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tatum Turned 4!

When we first started looking to grow our family {with fur babies}, we knew what we wanted: a female, black, purebred lab. What we fell in love with a male, white, mutt (as they claimed on his paperwork: a Pointer mix).


We fell in love the second they brought him in. He was sooo cute, so excited to see us, and was just adorable.

We celebrate his birthday on May 5th every year, and this year, he turned a big whopping 4 years old. Turning 4 is a big deal, so I wanted to make him a dog cake.

I found this recipe thanks to Pinterest, and recreated it. {I used 3 bananas instead since I didn't have the oats, and instead of carob chips, I used these training treats found at Petsmart to sprinkle on top}.


All I can say is that the dogs stayed in the kitchen the entire time while I was making it. Tatum knew that it was something special, because while we waited it to cool, he stood in the kitchen, looking back in the living room where we were sitting and gave us his sad pouty look as if he was saying, "Mom and Dad, I really want some..."

As soon as I started decorating the cake, you could see the salivating process taking place with all the dogs. It was a drooling massacre. 

 
Tatum: "Why are you making me wait?"

I'm pretty sure he ate his piece 
of cake in 3 seconds tops.

 
Everyone was so excited.

The cake was HUGE and there was a lot of left overs, making any time we opened the fridge, there would be Bubba (Tatum) starting his drooling routine (poor Tatum - it would be such a tease sometimes!)

Tatum was nice enough to share some of the remaining of the cake with the dogs at the shelter (which they all loved too!) Of course, with all the excitement, I forgot to take their picture as well.

And I'm pretty sure, Trig and Gracie are begging for their birthday to be soon so they can get a cake too! 

They are not spoiled or anything. Ha.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Good Question

Travis and I had coffee with the pastors this past Sunday. For some reason, I never knew that our pastor adopted his son. Maybe it's because it's something that has never really been brought up in a service, or because we never sat down and had a one-on-one with our pastor (we have 1,600 members).

One thing that sticks with me, is a question that his son posed on him.

"If there are 2.8 billion Christians {found here} in the world, and there are 153 million orphans worldwide {found here}, why doesn't every orphan have a home?"

Good question, little man.
Good question.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Think You Can

You know what is pretty incredible? 


 

My mother-in-law and Trav's cousin, Libby, ran a half marathon (13 miles) in 2 hours and 14 minutes this past weekend! That is pretty awesome.. and top of it all, they are running another half marathon in a couple of weeks. They are pretty tough cookies! When Trisa started running, she could barley run mailbox to mailbox (from what Travis states). Now, she is running all the time, loves it, and might even sign up for a full marathon (okay, so I'm not really sure about that last part, lol).

Travis has been losing weight like crazy to try to get into the Army Reserve. He's doing really well and has already lost his two inches. He's eating healthy (except for this week, but he's getting back to his old ways) and he's been running. His major exercise is just running miles. He believes it's a mental game, trying to make yourself run past a certain point or beat a certain time. I wouldn't say he necessarily likes it, but he feels much better afterwards.

When you get on facebook or read blog posts, it seems like everyone is picking up this running hobby. Running has many benefits:


{as stated in Active}
+Improves your health
+Prevents disease
+Helps you lose weight
+Boost your confidence
+Relives stress
+Eliminates depression

So I picked up my running shoes and I have decided to try it. 




The thing I like best is about it is that I don't have to drive somewhere to go running. I don't even have to take a shower before I do it. Way to be stinky! Yay :)

Not only is running good for you, but it's all good for dogs.


Benefits of Exercise {Stated in ASPCA}:

+It makes them happy
+It's bonding time
+Helps keep them healthy
+Helps to eliminate behavior problems (such as chewing, etc)
+Helps timid and scared dogs become more confident
+Reduces digestive problems & constipation
+Makes them more sleepy
+Helps to keep their weight under control

And let me tell you, the fur babies are loving it {I haven't really ran Gracie though because she is still scared of sudden movement}. They don't care how slow I go, as long as they get to go along. I took many breaks, and probably about over half the time I walked, but I did it. The babies were exhausted afterwards. {As I write this, they are all taking a nap. What a ruff life.}




I'm planning on doing it again tomorrow, even if I'm sore. I will say that I since I have been using the Elliptical at the gym lately, it is much easier for me to run longer periods of time than I have ever before {I did try to run around the block a few times last year}.

I'm excited for my friend, Lisa, who is planning on doing her first 5k in a couple of weeks!  Also for Kate, who is planning on maybe not running a 5k (although she has before), but walking a couple of weeks in a 5k after she has her baby! That is incredible! 


I am not planning on ever running a half marathon, but one of the things on my bucket list is to run a 5k. So it's better late than never! LOL. Maybe I will sign up next year? LOL. We'll see how this running thing goes first.




Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Last Final.

Trav and his classmates took their last final the other day.
Let's take a minute and let that set in...
Their LAST final.
Trav and his classmates can now breathe a little easier.
(I think we all need a margarita to celebrate! LOL.)

Don't worry, he will still have tests, but no more finals. That's huge.


We are so glad that his program was front loaded. That way he can concentrate on doing his clinicals and reviewing for his boards.


What did we do to celebrate?


We invited Trav's classmate, Rob, over. He brought over steaks. As soon as he pulled in the driveway though he helped us chase down Trigger and Gracie who escaped from our gate flying open because of some strong wind. 


So he may or may have not gotten poison ivy. {We offer tons of adventures for friends...ha}


Thankfully, Gracie and Trigger didn't take too long to find, and although they were muddy, they were happy to come home.


Especially when they started smelling what Rob was cooking for us.




We had a feast. I was too excited and started digging into the salad before I took a picture. {I even forgot to put the mushrooms and onions on top of the steak}.



Dinner was AMAZING. Thanks Rob for making dinner over at our house - we are still talking about how we loved it.

Also, if you guys know, Travis has bad luck with poison ivy. Immediately after getting home, Travis took enough Benadryl to knocked him out (the carbs probably didn't help either since he barley ever eats carbs now) and was basically falling asleep at the dinner table.


Thankfully, Rob understood, but still made Travis get into the hot tub after dinner, since that was their plan to celebrate their last final.


Travis passed out soon afterwards. Because you know, a final, chasing after two crazed dogs, trying to escape poison ivy, cooking, eating carbs, and going hot-tubbing (is that even a word?) does that sort of thing to you.


We are all just glad finals are over, and very thankful to be half way through the program.




Friday, May 9, 2014

A Story: My Mom's Encounter


Part of having a blog, is that it is my own journal of things that I want to remember. I don't write things to impress you or to make you believe certain things. My blog is my own thoughts so I can remember things one day. 

Lately, I've been wanting to ask friends/family to write down certain things that is meaningful/something special that they remember so that I can know how they were feeling and or reflect on that moment, or share it with our kids. {So you may see more stories once in a while that I ask others to write}.


One of the things I asked my mom to write about was her encounter with a person that came up to her and started speaking with her. Again, this is not to make you believe in certain things, but this is what happened to my mom. You can believe whatever you want, again, this is just a summary of what my mom wrote down from her own memories.


So if you ask me if I believe in spirits? I say yes. Do I think they are around us? Yes. Do I think they are watching over us? Yes. Do I personally feel them? No, not really. However, when I had my accident, I felt like someone was there protecting me. And the other day while I was driving Big Red around, I put my hand down on the passenger side and felt like my grandpa was holding it. Do I believe in Medium's? ...I guess? I believe in my mom's experience and know that there are others like it. However, I don't think I would ever pay to see one because there are too many frauds out there and I still feel as though as I am a skeptic myself.


So here is in my mom's own writing about her encounter. 








.

...
..


I went with my mom and my sister, Pam, to Connecticut for my Uncle Dick's funeral in 2006.  After the funeral we all went over to my Aunt Kay's house.  There were a lot of people there I didn't know, I just knew my family members.  While I was there, a lady came up to me and asked me if my dad was in spirit?  I must of had a confused look on my face, so then she asked if my dad has passed on?  I said yes,  she proceed to tell me that she was not a psychic, but she did everything by energy.  She asked me if Pam was my sister, which I answered yes. She said my dad was there and dancing all around her and wanted me to know nothing was wrong with her (Pam had an accident at her work which she claimed was a serious injury, although we didn't believe it was as bad as she was claiming).  She also told me she didn't know what I believed in, but my dad was in a very happy place.   I noticed she had a cross on, so I knew she believed in God. She also told me my dad had chosen me to take care of everything and to keep the family together (which I was the executor of their estate).  It was really weird how she knew all these things, but I felt so happy just to be talking to her. 
While we were outside, a squirrel ran across the yard and it looked like it had a baby in it's mouth. She asked me if I saw that, which at first I didn't even notice it, but then I did as I looked closer.  I can't remember exactly what she told me next, but I think she said  my dad was using that squirrel as an example, that just like that squirrel, we eventually have to leave the nest(our family) and the rest of us would need to be strong and we would all be ok.  We then ended up going into the house and went into the dining room when all of a sudden it got so cold and I got goose bumps on my arm. She asked if I felt that, which of course I did; she told me it was the spirits way of saying they were there.  She also told me that she kept seeing flowers and wanted to know if my dad was a gardener?  I just started smiling and said my dad's last name was Gardner.  She also said she kept seeing something on a pair of shoes and wanted to know if there was something that he always had on his shoes, at that time I could not think of anything.  {When I got home, I told my other sister, Meg, and she said, "Don't you remember dad used to always have that tassel on his loafer shoes that he wore to church?"  I couldn't believe it, there's no way she could of known that.}  

One thing I do know is my dad and my Uncle always had fun together, I can always remember whenever they were together how they always laughed...  It was so cute and it would made me laugh.  So I thought why wouldn't my dad be here, it would be the perfect time. I know I didn't want that lady to leave that day (I can't remember her name).  I hugged her, not wanting her to leave and wished she could of stayed forever and tell me all about my dad. 

Another thing she told me when she left was you know you can talk to angels. It brought tears to my eyes.  I still keep wondering how she could of known all that stuff except that my dad was really there.  I just keep waiting for when I'll experience something like that for my mom and brother but I think that was probably a once in a life time experience.   

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's my BIRTTTHHDDDAAAYY!! All about turning 27.

Okay so really, it was a couple days ago. I'm getting older, I can't deny it. When you're younger, you actually never think you actually reach a certain age (like: "27 seems so far away!) And then.. here you are: 27.  

Even though most people dread getting older, I actually love it. I read 30 signs you're almost 30, which made laugh so hard, because some of them are so true about getting older:

*When you watch movies, you find yourself siding more with the parents than the kids. {Completely}
*You've gone to a bar and left because it was too loud. {Everything seems to be so much louder these days}
*You realize that your parents were your age (or younger!) when they had you, and you start cutting them some major slack. {I don't know how they did it - I'm still not ready for a baby just yet}
*You start buying shoes based on "comfort." {I used to wonder why people would have such ugly shoes - now I know why}
*You voluntarily buy the fiber cereal. {Just ate some. Ha.}
*You wonder, seriously, how you ever pulled an all-nighter. {So true because going to bed at 11 seems so late nowadays}.

My only wish this year was that I could get cupcakes.. chocolate ones. Haha.

BUT.. 

I wondered what I could get for free because let's face it. Who doesn't love free stuff? So I found a couple of sites that tell you that you can get free things for your birthday, and was amazed. There are so many things you can get for free for your birthday (check out the site here).

So my plan was to:

*Go to Panera's and get my favorite Cinnamon Crunch Bagel before work.
*Hit up Moe's for a free burrito for lunch.
*And then head to Maggie Moo's after work and get myself a free waffle cone.

I was eager to start the day. My day was off to a good start with my first text message from my loving husband:




It was going to be a good day. I got into my car with coupons in hand... but my car wouldn't start. Awesome.

I called my boss who sent Maurice over to look at my car. I am to have a boss who is so understanding and willing to know that I needed help. I am so glad to have people here I can rely on and trust since I don't have any family here.




Maurice looked at my car and determined it was the battery. He was able to jump start my car, and I was hoping that was the end of that because maybe I just left a door open by accident, or maybe I left the lights on? (Because let's be honest, we all know I have a horrible memory and that wouldn't be so much of a shock knowing that I did it). Needless to say that there was no Panera Bread on my special day :( I will be saving that coupon for later though. 

I did get a sweet surprise when my friend Rebecca and her son Cooper walked into the store. Little Cooper handed me these beautiful flowers:
Picture taken after I got home
It was one the most adorable thing EVER!!!!!

The flowers and cupcakes were a surprise from my sweet Travis because he couldn't be there, but he wanted to make sure I still got them. 


With little Cooper hand delivering them it just melted my heart and made it all that more special (and something I could never forget). I mean a 3 year old handing you flowers.. how precious! :)


Did I mention these cupcakes were CHOCOLATE (the only thing I wanted for my birthday!) Yum! As you can tell, I've fallen a little off from my eating healthy plan. LOL. And in case you are wondering, they were DELICIOUS! 




When lunch time was near, my heart set on that free burrito from Moe's. I got into my car and once it again it wouldn't start. Boo. 
:( Bummed, I cried (not literally) to my boss hoping that it wasn't something more serious (because I'm a natural worrier)and that I was hungry. She must have felt bad for my bad start of the day, so she let me borrow her car so I could drive down the street to get Moe's. Again, my boss is awesome.



As the day went on and my shift ended, two different bosses were willing to help me jump my car. Some days I wonder about getting another job, but I am so blessed here (even though I may complain about it sometimes). 

I finally took Big Red to Auto Zone after the latest jump start knowing it would be a pain to deal with on the weekend. Auto Zone helped me out away and gave me a 10% discount for my birthday (awesome) - I think it was just because he felt bad for me. It ended up costing almost a hundred dollars, but hey, it was installed and there was no wait. Score. Plus, they have helped me out a previous time with my car free of charge so I'm more than happy to go to them and recommend the one by my work. :)

Big Red is now happy with a new battery!
Afterwards, I celebrated getting my free ice cream with Maggie Moo's. It was much needed and SOOOO good (yummy birthday cake with oreos!)


 


I let the babies out and then headed over to my friend Amy's house for dinner. There I had a surprise waiting for me there too:



Amy and her family are just so thoughtful. They didn't have to do that. I just adore their family. They are just the sweetest!

I also got to end my night with my my fur babies all cuddled next to me. The next day Travis came home and took me out to Cheddar's (only my favorite restaurant!) and let me get anything I wanted, saying that we didn't even have to share. I wasn't about to argue, we were both hungry! Thanks mom Trisa for the gift card - we put it to good use!





I am just so unbelievably blessed. I have an incredible husband, great friends and family, awesome co-workers and such lovable fur babies. I honestly couldn't ask for anything more. I feel so LOVED.

And don't let me forget to tell you that I got completely spoiled by friends and family members by sweet messages, calls and cards.

Sweet Ashley saw this photo on an instagram of the dress that I really loved, but I couldn't afford:



 

She sent me a sweet birthday card (totally unexpected) with a sweet saying and money to buy the dress. Ashley has such a big heart and she is such a wonderful beautiful inside and out :) 

Side note story about the dress: I went online to find "the dress" and couldn't seem to find it. I freaked. I ran to the store and asked the girl at the counter and she pulled out the only one left in a medium. Perfect!! I happily got it as I told the girl at the counter, she smiled politely, "It is meant to be."  This is the one item of clothing I feel absolutely beautiful in. And, I love Trav's reaction when I wear it. {I will be showing a picture in a post to come} And yes, I wore it out for my birthday celebration (although I forgot to take a picture where you could see the actual dress).


Aunt Meggie is such a giving person, and although I am 27 years old, she still sends me gifts for my birthday and for Christmas. She is such a caring person and wants everyone to feel special. I hope I can do the same one day. 



And let me tell you, all this stuff smells amazing!
Thanks Aunt Meggie and Uncle Marty :)
Although there was a car ordeal, I had incredible people reaching out to me offering rides and making sure that I was okay. I feel so loved that I even crossed their minds. 

I can't believe how blessed I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people. :)


P.S. This was Felicia's and I's awesome birthday cake at work. We both love Pitbulls - so it completely suites us. It's pretty awesome!