Sunday, May 31, 2009

a-town: part I

Over this past Memorial Day, I had the distinct pleasure of attending another bridal shower for my beautiful cousin, Lianna.

the beautiful bride-to-be and moi

I wasn't "technically" invited, but I was headed to a-town for the holiday weekend, so I was a welcome "shower crasher." The glorious gathering was held at a family friend's home which happened to sit amongst the hills of Austin, right on Lake Travis. The home resembled something out the Hollywood Hills, likely owned by a celebrity of some sort. I could not get over the location and the view from their spacious balcony. Here is a couple of shots overlooking Lake Travis. Get a load of that view!!!

me with the original mimi

fousin love against an amazing backdrop

It goes without saying that the food spread was not only vast, but also delectable. The bountiful feast included smoked salmon, jumbo shrimp cocktail, various cheeses, artichoke chicken, steamed veggies, salad, potatoes, fresh baked bread, petit-fours, cookies and huge bowls of fresh punch and sangria. Wowzers! Suffice it to say, I had more than my fair share.

After opening presents and sharing some marital advice and fun memories with Lianna, it was time to shut the party down...and take it to my cousin's new lakehouse on LBJ. Stay tuned for that post!

Until then, have a blessed Sunday in this glorious weather!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

thundercat's a go!!!

So, unless you've been living under a rock (or randomly read my blog - do I have any of those?), Meredith Hope has officially arrived (as opposed to unofficially). She came on Thursday, May 21st around 10:30 PM and weighed a mere 6 pounds, 11 ounces. She has a FULL head of BLACK kidding. I thought they put the wrong baby in the room when I first saw her. Let's just say I pictured little Meredith to have blonde hair and blue eyes. (Why? I have no idea. I can't help what my mind conjures up. It's out of my control.)

The scene went down much in the same way of Haylee's birth about 2 1/2 years ago. Michelle was induced due to low fluid levels (is that TMI?), and had a relatively quick labor and delivery. You may gasp to think that I would call one of the most grueling physical processes "quick," but I assure you that if you speak to Michelle directly, she would use similar terms to describe her experience. Here is a photo-op about 30 seconds before a major contraction...yikers!

michelle and I pre-delivery

My sister is quite the viking and refused drugs until she was at about a 6. I think it's because she was really hungry and didn't want to slow down the labor process. Once Michelle gave in to the drugs, it was only a matter of about 30 minutes that Meredith dropped and was ready to get some fresh air. When Nick came out to the waiting room to let us know she had arrived, I honestly thought he was kidding. It was so unbelievably quick from the time I left the room to the time MH breathed her 1st breath...crazy! I ran right in to get a good look in my beautiful niece. 10 fingers, 10 toes...and dark, dark hair. She was perfect!

Unfortunately, I had to work the next day, but I made sure to get up there to spend some quality time with mere-bear as soon as I got off work. Here are some shots from the day after she was born.

me with the new babe

reaching out to hold my hand (clearly)

the new mommy (for the 2nd time) and me

I couldn't be more excited for Meredith Hope's arrival, and I pray, more than anything, that she would seek Christ all the days of her life. I can't wait to see how God is going to use this new little muffin cake!

Hope you all have a super Saturday! I will be kickin' it in the kiddie pool with Hay - woo hoo!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pretty in Pink

Me with my beautiful sister

Yes, it's true, if you are connected to my life, you know that baby Meredith has officially graced us with her presence. However, since I'm SO behind on my blogging, I have to save that message until after I actually blog about the shower held in her honor.

The sign-in welcome table

So, in light of that fact, I will give you all the details (I'll be brief) on Michelle's and Meredith's "pretty in pink" shower. The festive occasion was held at Mrs. Kori Bailey's lovely home, and both her and Lyric helped me host the shower. They were a total God-send, and were such an amazing blessing to me (and Michelle).

We decorated with all different shades of pink - pink tulle, pink bottles, pink M&Ms (for Meredith of course), pink balloons, pink tablecloths, pink napkins, pink punch, pink get the idea. And since I'm all about the food, I insisted on having a full spread for the blessed event. I made spinach/artichoke dip, pizza pasta salad, broccoli salad, fruit salad, spicy shrimp w/cocktail sauce, chicken salad w/croissants (only thing I didn't make) and cucumber-tomato salad. Lyric made some amazing punch and strawberry cake balls, while Kori got the most perfectly yummy cake from the Cake Stand. Needless to say, the food was a definite crowd-pleaser. I mean, let's be honest, why else do you go to a shower?

Half of the spread

More yummy treats

Michelle and Haylee with the super cute and super yummy cake

We had a couple of games to keep the merriment going. As the guests arrived, they were instructed to cut a piece of ribbon to the exact length that they thought would fit around Michelle's belly. Some of the guestimations were beyond hilarious. I think our fousin Christina was estimated for funny! Being the avid gamer I am, I also had to come up with a form of "baby Scattergories" to challenge the party attendees. I think my idea backfired because it ended up being more time-consuming for Michelle and everyone had to wait for her to finish...ha ha.

She got a lot of great gifts for Meredith, and a ton of sassy clothes to put the little muffin in. All in all, it was a great day and a very pink way to celebrate Michelle's pregnancy.

The hosts with the mommy-to-be

Thursday, May 7, 2009

a very fousin brunch

This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of hosting a little brunch at my humble abode for 2 of my dearest fousins (I know we've been through this before, but as a refresher: friends + cousins = fousins). We were lucky to be able to snag Lianna for the afternoon, who is in the final countdown of her wedding (to be celebrated in July), and Elisa was in town visiting. Michelle was also able to join us for some good old-fashioned fousin bonding before she is busy with a newborn and toddler...yikes! The girls were very excited upon viewing a very pregnant Michelle and continued to gush over her maternal glow. I couldn't agree with them more!

elisa and lianna, very excited to pose with preggers (and meredith)

Since brunch is the best meal of the day, I had no choice but to have the girls over for my standard brunch spread. You can't go wrong with a fresh veggie quiche, warm, gooey monkey bread, crisp bright fruit salad, strong coffee and a little fresh grapefruit or orange juice (with some bubbly if you aren't with child). We ate until our heart's content, per usual.

a shot of most of the food (my trademark quiche and monkey bread)

toasting to fousins and my pending job

I had the genius idea of asking Michelle to bring her wedding dvd (from almost 5 years ago). The girls hadn't seen it, so I thought it only appropriate and very fitting, in light of Lianna's upcoming nuptials, that we take a little trip down memory lane. There were definitely some funny moments, along with a lot of crazy dancing. It was quite entertaining to watch and I think it definitely got us excited for Lianna and Ed's wedding this summer.

the best group shot we could come up with (sorry Elisa)

Thanks so much for coming over fousins!!! I had the best time hosting y'all in my home and truly cherish the memories we have made together over the past 20+ years. Y'all are so dear to me, and I thank God for the blessing you are in my life. I love y'all more than all the cupcakes in the world!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

food for thought

And now, a challenging excerpt from Crazy Love by Francis Chan,

Remember the story where Jesus fed thousands of people with one boy's small lunch? In that story, according to Matthew, Jesus gave the loaves to His disciples and then the disciples passed them out to the crowd. Imagine if the disciples had simply held onto the food Jesus gave them, continually thanking Him for providing lunch for them. That would've been stupid when there was enough food to feed the thousands who were gathered and hungry.

But that is exactly what we do when we fail to give freely and joyfully. We are loaded down with too many good things, more than we could ever need, while others are desperate for a small loaf. The good things we cling to are more than money; we hoard our resources, our gifts, our time, our families, our friends (Chan 120).

Wow. I cannot begin to tell you (my loyal reader, singular) how challenging this particular idea is for me right now. We live in a self-centered world where the key objective is attaining our own pleasure. We desire a good (and don't forget, fulfilling/personally rewarding) job that pays well, so we can buy the nice home, car, etc. and go on exotic vacations, eat (far too much) gourmet food, drink fine wine, wear designer clothes, pay top dollar for entertainment (sporting events, concerts, etc.)...the list is never-ending.

To relate it to the parable and make it even a little simpler, how many times have you dumped leftovers in the trash? Or continued to eat far past fullness because there wasn't anyone else's hunger to satisfy? God has blessed us with much, so that in turn, we can bless others. Who do you need to invite to your banquet table? If you don't normally have guests for dinner, it could be as simple as opening your home up to friends, neighbors or family that lives nearby. You don't have to wait until you can buy new furniture, or make sure the baseboards are clean, or pull out the fine china. I guarantee your guests will not care, or even notice. Get out of your comfort zone and make yourself uncomfortable. Do it today, tomorrow, or every day for a week and expect nothing in return.

However, as the passage states, we not only hoard our superfluous amounts of money, but we also are incredibly selfish with our "resources, our gifts, our time, our families, our friends." I've typically tried to be fairly transparent and honest on my blog (despite the very public nature), so you should know I find this to be particularly convicting, because I seem to prefer an excessive amount of "chill time" for myself. I like alone time and want to read, nap, work on my laptop, watch my Food Network shows (scoff if you will, but it could be worse), and so on. I am a huge hoarder of my time. Instead of being a Christian (which my friend, means to be "like Christ"), I continually put my interests above those around me. This is totally backwards, and not at all "like Christ." We are to give Him all our time, and then allow Him to orchestrate what we do with it.

It begs the question, if I were to die tomorrow, what would I be known for? What would those around me say I held to be most important? Would it be relationships, or would it be "getting enough sleep"? Would it be serving others, or would it be my uncanny ability to relax? What do I need to cut back on, or eliminate in my life in order to allow God to use me in the lives of others? Do I need to turn off the TV? Do I need to close the screen on my laptop?

What do you want to be known for?

Friday, May 1, 2009

an afternoon in wonderland

This past weekend, we celebrated Ashley's 24th birthday with an "Alice in Wonderland" tea party in the garden. You should know I always love a good theme party, especially if I get to dress up in costume. While it's true that "every party has a pooper (i.e. someone who doesn't want to dress up)," I am so not that pooper. However, I was having a difficult time locating appropriate attire for said occasion. I really wanted to be Alice, but I only had one piece of the five that I needed. I bounced around several ideas, only to find myself back at square one. I finally settled on a floral party dress with a few touches to take it up a notch. It was by no means ideal, but you gotta work with what ya got, right? You can view my less than original attire in the pic below.

me with the birthday girl

The party was set in the backyard (which reminded me so much of my old house on Vinemont, by the by), and the weather actually ended up being great for the shindig. There were lots of cute little touches to tie in the theme. The "magical" punch had a "drink me" sign and the cookies were iced "eat me," just like in the movie. The group was mostly people from Watermark, with almost all my community group in attendance (yea!), including the roomie. Here are some pics of both.

the roomster and me

our community group

The spread including tons of food, drinks, and sweets. Later in the day, we grilled out hamburgers, had red velvet cupcakes, and I drank champagne out of a can with a straw...true story. It was like a grown-up version of a juice box. The little straw was attached to the side of the can and everything-crazy, but so fun. I loved it!

Back on the whole costume issue, while most people merely added a hat or flower to their normal outfits, there were a few who took it to another level. The three guys that really took the theme to heart are pictured below. Aren't they a sight for sore eyes?

a trio of awesomeness

All in all, it was such a fun birthday party, and I'm so glad to be in community with Ashley and to have her in my life. I will leave you with one last shot from the day.

the picture of class