Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Holy Birthday

It's true y'all...
I turned a youthful 32 on Good Friday.
A friend of mine mentioned I have a pretty holy birthday this year....it made me laugh.
As I've gotten older, birthdays become a lot more meaningful than they used to be.
Gone are the days of planning a huge night out on the town with booze and dancing with friends.
With each year that I get older, I tend to want less and less material things for my birthday, and more and more intangible things.
I want to spend time with my family.
I want to relax.
I want a BBQ with just a FEW close friends...no huge parties here.
And possibly a kid-free dinner date with my husband.
For me, celebrating another year of life is about surrounding yourself with the ones you care about and love the most. 
Nick, however, always goes above and beyond and out of his way to make sure I have a memorable birthday.
Every year, I find myself asking, "how will he ever top this?!?!", and every year, he always finds a way to do it.
(Last year he threw me a surprise birthday party and got my Marine Corps BFF to come...the year before, he took me away from the miserable Massachusetts winter and took me back to Orange County, CA for a spring vacay...he seriously always goes out!)

I always joke and say to Nick on the first day of every March, "It's my birthday month!" 
He usually rolls his eyes at me at the absurd thought of actually celebrating your birthday for an entire month.
But even with the eye rolling, he always plans sweet surprises throughout the month for me.

This year, after our Nashville trip, he surprised me with VIP section tickets to the Florida Georgia Line concert at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
We went last year, and had a blast!
Their concerts are always so fun and so upbeat.

The night before my birthday, our sweet sweet neighbors babysat both of our kids, and Nick took me out to eat at one of my favorite local restaurants, The Republic.
It's a local fancy steakhouse with the most amazing steak tartare you will ever have.

And just because, I treated myself to a Hendrick's Gin and tonic with lime.

It was just really nice to sit, have dinner, relax, and not have to chase after and listen to our kids.
We actually got to have a solid hour and half of good adult conversation, and actually enjoy and taste our meal! Amazing!

Oh, and I was informed on my birthday that Nick had a secret stash of cash to put down on a new SUV for me!
We had been talking about getting myself a bigger ride with more room in the backseat for my kids.
I LOVED my old crossover, but have definitely outgrown it.
So on my birthday, we drove off the lot with a brand new bigger SUV...a step above my last one!!!
I am in love with it and speechless that Nick made it happen.

I will definitely drive this one for much longer than the two years I had the last one.
It meets all of our family's needs, and more.
I am over the moon!

My birthday surprises didn't end there....
(I know, right?)
I think I won the husband lottery here...

After we drove home in my new car, I was under the impression that we were just gonna grill in our backyard as a family.
Little did I know he invited a few of our neighbors over for steaks, hot dogs, and cake!
He even decorated our home and our backyard!!!!

He got me a 2nd sweet sixteen cake since I got a new car on my birthday...lol.

This is all courtesy of my wonderful husband....

I've said it many times, but it's disheartening to me when I see women lying about their age.
Seriously, ladies...
We are worth WAY more than our age....
Celebrate it.

I'm not gonna lie, after 28 (ish), I realized it takes a bit longer to recover after a night of too much wine....
You can't eat pizza at midnight, and not expect it to see it in your midsection the day after...

But at 32....
I don't think I can remember a time in my life where I was happier.

I have an amazing, loyal, handsome, funny, slightly awkward, and sometimes a pain in the butt husband...
We have two beautiful, amazing, sometimes slightly crazy and annoying kids that we wouldn't trade for the world...
My husband has an amazing career that is affording him the opportunity to go to college....AND has let him continue to serve for FIFTEEN years (this July)...

And lastly...
That husband of mine....
the one who has been absent in our marriage more than I care to even calculate....because of the awesome U-S-M-C....
He is still here by my side...
Through all the fights...
The points in our marriage when we thought we were done with each other...
Through all the times he thinks it's hilarious to "dutch oven" me...
And when he drove me to the hospital for my knee surgery just FIVE hours after returning from Afghanistan...jet lagged and dead tired....

I can't imagine 32 being any more awesome without the life I have now.

Thanks to all of y'all who took time out of your day to wish me a happy birthday!

I am beyond lucky to have y'all in my life!


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pancakes, Fried Chicken, & Country Music Hall of Fame

It's the first day of SPRING, y'all!
It's one of my favorite seasons of the year.
Unfortunately, we are spending our day at home, and not at our wonderful church today because we have a sick child. 
I guess it gives me a chance to blog though!
I know y'all have been dying to find out about the last part of our trip to Nashville.

We started our third morning in Nashville bright and early to have breakfast at the famous Pancake Pantry!
We got there around 745, and didn't have to wait in line, however, when we left at around 830, there was a line already forming out the door!
People will wait in line for hours to eat here!
Just about everything on the breakfast menu comes with their famous pancakes.
I chose a healthy egg white omelet (no cheese) with jalapeños, mushrooms, and turkey.
It came with 3 fluffy buttermilk pancakes.
All of it was DELICIOUS!

After stuffing our faces, Nick and I went on a 4 (ish) mile run around Nashville to burn off those pancakes!
 Then we headed to a little suburb just 20 minutes out side of Nashville to take the kids to a trampoline park.

They had a blast, and definitely burned some energy off!

Before our trip to Nashville, I told my brother in law that the ONLY place I NEEDED to see in Nashville was the Country Music Hall of Fame.
As big country music fans, we decided this was a "must see".
Besides, how can we go the NASHVILLE...the country music capital of the WORLD, and not see the Country Music Hall of Fame?!
My brother in law is not a fan of country (he didn't know who Johnny Cash was...seriously), so he just dropped us off.
We had lunch at a delicious and way overpriced taco joint (Bajo Sexto Taco) next to the CMHF where they served me wine in a can.
Surprisingly, delicious!

 Even with a military discount, the admission prices were pretty steep.
I'd still say it was worth it though.

Elvis Presley's car.
The entire inside of it was completely gold plated!

Elvis's gold piano

The man in black...the Legend.

Can you guess which blonde famous country singer this outfit belonged to?

Because Reba and George are legends too...

The outfit Carrie Underwood wore the night she won American Idol.

And last but not least...

The museum was set up so nicely, and just walking through it and seeing the history and roots of country music was just so neat!

Random pic of me and my adorable niece...

We had a little bit of time to kill before dinner, so we took the kids to the park.

I think in our short stay in Nashville, we checked out at least 3 different parks.
There are so many parks to take the kids too, and they all have their own bit of uniqueness to them.

Our last night in Nashville, we went to have dinner at the famous Café Loveless.
If you watch the Food Network, there is a show called "Throwdown With Bobby Flay".
Café Loveless is famous for their homemade biscuits and homemade jams.
Café Loveless was featured on an episode where Bobby Flay competed to make a better biscuit and jam.
If I remember correctly, Bobby Flay lost.

I wanted to try their signature moonshine, but not brave enough to drink it straight.
It literally tastes like gasoline.
So I ordered their famous bloody mary, but instead of vodka, they mix it with their moonshine.
It was a perfect mix of spicy and tang, and the moonshine was delicious.

I ordered their fried chicken, fried okra, and stone ground grits with butter.
Nick had their gigantic chicken fried steak with white gravy and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. 
The food was the DIE FOR.
Not a place to diet!

Google Café Loveless, and read about its' history and why it's so famous in Nashville!
It really has such a cool story on how it came to be!
The grounds of the restaurant has two adorable gift shops where you can purchase their world famous biscuit mix and homemade jams.
There is also plenty of room for the kids to run around and play as well!

D thought this old tractor was pretty cool.

On our last morning in Nashville, Nick and I took the kids to a local coffee shop (walking distance from my sister's house) called Fido.
Like it's name would suggest, it's a pet friendly coffee shop.
I had a "mustachio" latte...basically a latte with sage syrup (delicious!).
They also made the most delicious chocolate milk ever (which the kids got).

This place gets busy too!
We tried to come here our first day in Nashville, and the line was out the door! 
Nick ordered a boring mocha, but they added some coffee art to it.

And like that, our trip to Nashville came to an end.
We flew home out of the Nashville International Airport.
The airport was so cool!
It was all decked out in music decor, and there was live music playing everywhere!
I think even the airport is worth visiting!
We were so sad to leave.

But happy to come home and see our wonderful neighbors!
Seriously, do your neighbors leave your favorite bottle of wine on your porch with a sweet note saying they missed you?!

We had such a blast in Nashville, and are already planning our second trip there!
If y'all ever get a chance to drive through there or need a vacation idea, I HIGHLY recommend Nashville!
It literally became my SECOND favorite place in the world (next to Texas).
Beautiful southern California was bumped down to three in my book!
That's how awesome it is!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

OH Nashville (pt 2)

 Our Nashville trip continued..

Did I tell y'all how much we fell in love with Nashville?!
The city has such an old country town feel with modern hipster elements. 
The food, the atmosphere, the vibe...
It's just such a cool city!

Nashville is also home of the cutest niece ever...
Early morning selfies with my nieces Lyla and Lucy.

Even Uncle Nick got in on the action.

Dannika is the oldest cousin, and she takes that title very seriously.
How cute is that little baby turban on Lucy?!
My sister bought it from "Turbans for Tots".

 The girls

We went to church on Sunday at my sister's church (Green Hills Church).
The kids loved Sunday school there, and had a blast.

After church, we had lunch at Calypso Café.
Another super trendy (and healthy) Nashville café.
 The cuisine was very Caribbean.
Cuban black beans, jerk chicken, etc.
Another delicious place.

More cuddles with Lucy...

After lunch, my brother in law took us to Centennial Park to see the replica of the Greek Parthenon.
Again, they live walking distance to all of this.
The park was really nice with a pond and a mile loop jogging trail around this gorgeous architecture.

Reppin' CSTX and throwing up our Gig 'em thumbs!
The SEC tournament was going on in Nashville when we were there, so there were a few Aggies around for the basketball games!

We drove to downtown Nashville (also called Broadway....also called "Nash-Vegas").
That's the famous "Batman" building...for obvious reasons...

And right there behind us is where the Tennessee Titans play football!

On our way to dinner...
Mattis was infatuated with this tiny human being.

For dinner, we went to a local Mexican joint called "Taco Mamasita".
Specialty tacos and margaritas.
It was delicious.
They were like BFF's...

Bathroom selfie at Taco Mamasitas...
Why not?
The bathrooms are even so hipster...

We ended the day back at my sister's home and sipped on some delicious Nashville brews...
This "Walk the Lime" was my personal favorite.

We are so grateful for my sister and brother in law for being such generous hosts to us.
They really gave us the full Nashville experience!
Stay tuned for the rest of our trip!
It'll be up on the blog soon!