Monday, March 28, 2011

"Fabulous Twenty-Five"

On February 24th, we celebrated Bobby's 25th birthday. What Bobby didn't know at that point, was that an even BIGGER birthday celebration was in the works for him...a SURPRISE party, to be held in his honor the very next day, hosted by yours truly.

Bobby has wanted to take a trip to Las Vegas for at least as long as I've known him. And, in discussions last spring about where to take our summer vacation, Vegas was his obvious suggestion. I preferred somewhere tropical instead, and we went to Mexico...after I promised we'd make the trip to Nevada for his 25th birthday. (That was a mistake.) We made plans, we changed plans, and we decided to buy a house. And we still haven't been to Vegas.  Oops.

During the snow storm at the beginning of February, stuck inside for 3 days, I decided that I really did want to do something memorable to commemorate his milestone 25th birthday, and though a trip wasn't feasible...a 'Vegas-themed' party absolutely was. I knew it would be special, and although it seemed entirely possible that such a theme would only serve to remind him that he'd rather be in Vegas, I decided it was worth the, uh, gamble.

So, while Bobby worked from home at the kitchen table 10 feet away, I designed party invitations from the couch. The surprise-party-sneakiness had begun....

For the three weeks that followed, I bought party supplies and groceries here-and-there, mixing in purchases with my regular weekly shop so as not to arouse suspicion. (The other less obvious benefit was spreading out the cost between 3 weekly grocery trips. I must say, it worked quite well!) I delivered the groceries to my parents' house after each shop, hid decor in the laundry that I took to my parents' house, and baked and froze cake layers when I was at my parents' home, while Bobby had his weekly Bible study at ours.

The beautiful part was that I never once had to lie about my errands. ('Lies of Omission'? Oh, well, sure. No way around those in the surprise-party-planning-world.) But, really, when I said I was doing laundry at my parents' house, I definitely was! I was just baking and hot-gluing and decorating, too.

Notice the four mentions of my "parents' house" in the above two paragraphs? See the pattern? That's a critical component of this party that deserves recognition. The event would not have happened were it not for their willingness to play along. And, by that I mean, store lots of food and decor, open up their home for the evening, provide fresh flowers, and clean it all up the next day. (When I asked my parents if we could have the party at their house, my mom's response was as follows: "We're thinking you've dealt a 'full house'. Count us in, and we're not bluffing." Isn't she fantastic?!) We couldn't have hosted a party like this in our apartment, and it meant a lot that they (yet again) helped out in a big way. (Thanks, you two!)

It was NOT easy to keep all of the party planning a secret. I usually share everything with Bobby, and there was so much on my mind and in the works to be excited about...and I couldn't tell him about any of it! Tricky. But, I am happy to report that the party turned out to be a complete surprise. He didn't suspect a thing,  thanks a mini-birthday-celebration the day before...which was the trickiest part of the entire project, really. (How to acknowledge his birthday on the day-of in a very low-key sort of way, but not so much so that he gets bummed?) Anyway, it all worked out perfectly.

I lured Bobby to my parents' house on Friday night for a "steak dinner"...and the look on his face when he saw his friends and family inside was priceless. (Not to worry, he still got that steak dinner the following night.)

It doesn't get much better than that.
(I love my dad, all smiles in the background. How fun!)
Our dear out-of-town friends, John and Natalie, made a surprise trip to Springfield just for the occasion, and knowing they were coming to visit made it all the more difficult to keep the evening a secret! Their presence was the icing on the dice-shaped chocolate cake.

We spent the evening eating, laughing, playing/learning to play cards, and celebrating all accounts, a successful and enjoyable time!

Thank you to everyone who helped make the evening so memorable. And, MAJOR thanks to photographer and friend Brandon Goodwin for capturing so many of the party details! Such a treasure!

I hadn't had opportunity to plan an event of any sort since our wedding, and I had an absolute blast working on this party...especially because it was for someone whom I love so deeply. It is such a joy to be back home near loved ones...and to be so close to having space of our own to host gatherings such as this. I'm thankful to have been able to make this birthday a special one for Bobby, and so excited for many more occasions to celebrate (and to plan for!) in the years ahead.

We'll get you to Vegas, babe...someday. Promise.

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Even Better"

I'm so proud of my she posted her very first entry on her brand-new blog! She is such an eloquent writer, and I can't wait to see what she does with this latest adventure. I appreciate her perspective and her wisdom, and very much enjoyed reading her inaugural post. I encourage you to check it out yourself! Writing is more gratifying (for me, anyway) when one knows there are people actually reading it. An important milestone (and motivation) for any new blogger, wouldn't you say? 

Happy writing, Mom! I know each post will be "Even Better" than the one before....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Zeda & The Zoo

"Hello, Spring!" The weather this week has been absolutely delightful. There is nothing that quite compares to the first few days of a new season, is there? Especially the first few days that signal the very welcome change of winter turning into spring.... How nice.

On Monday I got to enjoy some time outside, when I spent a couple of hours with my dear friend, Becca, and her sweet little girl. A visit with Becca was long overdue, and I hadn't seen the nearly-two-year-old Miss Zeda in far too long. It was such a treat when Becca suggested that I join them for a stroll at the zoo! (Sunshine, a special friend, animals, and a could I possibly say 'no'?!) We had such a nice time seeing the sights, catching up, and generally being entertained by Zeda's attitude. The girl is I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, and full of spunk...and definitely a joy to be around! I had a blast, and I'm so glad they invited me to join in the fun.

Photo from a location other than the zoo,
stolen from Becca's blog

Becca is such a great friend who, over the past few years, has given me so much advice & encouragement...& so much to look forward to! She is a great mom, and watching her with Zeda was a blessing, and such a positive illustration of motherhood. I have benefited greatly from her example as a wife and mom, and I know that she will continue to be a friend that I look up to, learn from, and enjoy spending time with.

Time with friends (and a little one!), wedding & shower preparations, beautiful is good.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Plans, Prep, & Progress

Whew! As it turns out, buying a house takes a lot of work.

It isn't particularly fair to blame all of our busy-schedule problems on that, though it is a major factor these days. We have been visiting with the lender, meeting with our realtor to visit about inspection requests, getting siding get the jist. All excellent tasks to take care of, but still, it takes time and a significant amount of mental energy. (I know, I know...I still haven't shared photos of what I am prematurely calling "our" house. I'll likely wait until the keys are in our hands to do so. It just seems right...though I am so anxious to give the Grand Tour!)

For there being an "extra" hour in the day these days...there just aren't enough hours in the day! Between the house purchase preparations, housework and grocery shopping, substituting regularly, Bobby's weekly Bible study and daily football practice (as a coach)...we've been stretched pretty thin lately. It's a good stretch, though, if that makes sense. We're doing things we enjoy (minus the housework) with people we enjoy, and preparing for a spring full of celebrations. We have showers on the calendar, bachelor parties in the works, and those long-anticipated weddings are drawing near! (Plus, there's the whole 'buying-a-house' thing. And, of course, I have a lengthy list of house projects that I cannot wait to begin! Not to worry, they will be revealed in due time.) 

In any case, I am happy (and somewhat relieved) to report that I am finally making progress in the 'planning-my-sister's-bridal-shower' department. Because excited as I am about this project, it has had to be on the back burner for a while. But, the shower is exactly one month away, and it's time to get serious. Today, I settled on a color palette and finalized the invitation design. (See? Progress.)

Here's what I'm working with as inspiration...

...a piece of scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby that will be making another appearance in the form of invitations. (The colors in the photo are a bit funky. Ignore the pink hues.)

(It was only after I made my fabric and invitation purchases that I discovered how very similar my choice of paper is to their choice of bedspread. Go figure. Goodness, that blog is inspiring me more than I realized!)

I'm working toward a relaxed, spring-like design for the gathering, with an elegant but youthful feel. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, I'm excited about the plans, and gaining momentum. (A dangerous combination....) Should be fun!

Monday, March 7, 2011

"The One"

I'll cut right to the chase.

As of Thursday night, we bought a house! (Because I really like the way that sounds, I'm going to say it again.)


The seller made an ever-so-slight change to our original offer, however our original price and terms were accepted, and truly, quite unexpectedly so! Amazing.

The fact is that this entire process has been so, well, easy. From the discovery of this house, to the realization that we didn't want to keep hunting after finding this one (more on that in a moment), to the decision to make an offer, to the contract negotiation between all has been as smooth a process as we could have hoped for.

We looked at several houses throughout our search, but none of them felt as much like home as this one. At this house, unlike all the rest, I can picture Bobby walking in from the garage after work. I can picture a dog in the backyard, and myself spending lazy summer days on the screened-in porch (...or in the next door neighbor's pool?). But, my favorite image came when I first walked into the second bedroom...somehow knowing that it would be a nursery someday. (For our children. You picked up on that, right?)

Long story, short: when we pull into the driveway, we know we're home.

At one point during the house hunting experience, after quickly finding what we felt was "The One" (and know now that it was), I shared with my mom my preconceived notion that the process should take longer, that we should "look at far more houses before making a decision". To that she replied (in as eloquent a way as she so consistently does)...

"I don't think you should feel like it has to be complicated. 
When something is God-blessed, sometimes it really is easy."

And, she (as she so consistently is) has been proven to be exactly right. From the moment she said that, I've been mindful that God is at work in the entire process, that His hand is behind every element, and the fact that it has all felt "easy"...well, that makes perfect sense. for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

House Hunting

So, here's where we stand with the whole "house hunting" thing....

We may be done! I say "may" only because who knows what can happen with such things?! But truthfully, it's entirely possible that we'll actually be done...since we actually wrote an offer yesterday! (I know, I can't really believe it myself!)

We found a property in the perfect location (minutes from each of our parents' homes and in an established neighborhood), with a beautiful and spacious yard, plenty of room for now, and lots of the features we were looking for. This home certainly falls into the "has-lots-of-potential" category, and would require a significant amount of elbow grease (read: wallpaper removal and paint jobs). The house was born built in 1986 (as were we!), and needs a decent amount of work to bring it into this decade. But, for the most part, the work is largely cosmetic and nothing a couple of capable young adults shouldn't be able to tackle...or so we're hoping.

If you'd asked me three months ago (shoot, three weeks ago!) if we'd be attempting to purchase an older home, one that requires some extra attention and isn't "up-to-date", I'd have given a resounding "NO". But, I knew there was a reason I've been so enthusiastically following Young House Love for the past year or so....

The YHL blog has quickly become one of my favorites, and I've found myself really wishing for a home of my own to "play with" the point that most of the newer homes we toured seemed far too "ready-to-go" for my (new) taste.

So, here we are, with an offer on the table for a home that would most certainly provide the chance to discover if I do, in fact, enjoy paint projects (etc, etc.) as much as I think I do! We already know with certainty that the house would be a place where we wanted to be...with each other, with friends, and with family (both present and future).

We are so excited about the prospect of making this house our's hoping the sellers like the sound of that, too!