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Monday, August 20, 2012

Tour of Friends

I am abundantly blessed with a great group of friends. I've lived in Valdosta for 8 years now and have formed some truly awesome friendships. I have also maintained many of my friendships prior to Valdosta life. I have stayed in close touch with many of my high school friends and I've made all kinds of wonderful new friends through blogging (random but awesome!). While blogging, emails, facebook messaging and texting are all great ways to stay in touch with my out of town friends, there is NOTHING like getting together in person. I am ALL about some quality "Emily" time and my favorite way to get that time is to go visit my friends. 

Mrs. Charlotte keeps Courtney's kids for her during the school year so I hate to ask her to keep my kids for me unless I need her to so she doesn't have to re-work someone to keep Courtney's kids. Since Courtney is out for the summer, Mrs. Charlotte was excited to get to spend a few days with Kye and Britt! It worked out well as Zach actually ended up needing to be in Atlanta for work anyway so we were both out of town at the same time (although not together). 

I really, truly try to see as many people as I possibly can in the short time frame that I'm gone. You'd think that a few days kid free would mean a lot of relaxation and sleeping in...um no haha. It means a lot of driving, late night talk sessions, and tons of sleep deprivation. All 100% totally worth it though :)

On my way up to the Atlanta area I worked it out to stop through in Macon for lunch so I could visit with Laura. Laura's husband, Michael, actually grew up with Zach. They were hardcore bffs throughout childhood and reconnected a few years ago. Laura and I clicked right away and have become much closer now that they have a baby. Laura's a hardcore Babywise mom too so I also hooked her up with Kelly and the three of us totally help each other out whenever any Babywise type issue arises! I love having these two ladies to lean on...they were both especially helpful in the early days of getting Britt settled on her schedule!!!

I finally got to meet Abigail in person and we had a great lunch and wonderful visit together!
Attempt at a group pic and I only got myself...someone is a little self absorbed huh? ;)
Yay!
I went through and got us Subway. We ate and I pumped and we caught up. It's SO awesome to have a friend who does Babywise, breastfeeds, stays at home and is a member of the Church of Christ. We have a TON in common. Of course, I LOVE all my friends who can share different views with me and can teach me other ways to do things...but it is special when you have some friends who fall perfectly in line with your own lifestyle and belief system, ya know? We are only a couple hours away from each other and our husbands are longtime friends...we have NO excuses to not see each other more often!!!!
When I left Laura's I headed up to the Locust Grove outlets. I did a little bit of Christmas shopping and a little bit of kids clothes shopping (I did NOT buy a single thing for myself...kinda lame but I was feeling SOOOO self conscious about my weight and looks and honestly couldn't imagine trying on clothes. Sucky!) then continued on my way to Kelly's house. 

Kelly and I met through blogging. I found her blog on Rachael's sidebar and started commenting and we just connected. She's a Babywise mom, like I mentioned earlier, and also one of the godliest women I personally know. She is TRULY on fire for the Lord and is SUCH an example to me. She has the sweetest, kindest heart and has a magical way with words that I myself couldn't even begin to hope for!!!

Kelly had a crazy day and I had my own craziness (Zach's GPS took me on BACK ROADS to her house so it took forever and my breasts were screaming "PUMP US!!!!") so it was such a relief to see each other. We rushed to get ready and met Rachael and Katie for dinner. We actually had Mexican food...and it was my first time ever in a Mexican restaurant. I'm just not a fan but I became one that night! It is pretty good...and the cheese dip is AWESOME!!!

The four of us are super tight blog buddies (don't even get me STARTED on how we all know each other in real life...it's all so complicated the number of ways our paths cross each other over and over again!) but have never hung out in real life. It was actually my first time EVER hanging out with Katie. I have always admired her beauty, awesome "cool" style, and adorable children (not to mention that cute hubby of hers!) from afar and have always wanted to get to know her better on a personal, non-internet level. She was even cooler than I'd imagined ;) We all four clicked so perfectly together and I wish so badly that we lived closer...I think we'd be real life bffs too ;)

We took like a MILLION pictures!!! I LOVED it (and my point and shoot totally beat out Kelly's fancy dslr btw...)

I LOVE Kelly's new hairstyle...I could NEVER pull off such short hair but it looks so chic on her!
"What do we do with our hands?!?!"
We all instantly went for the boobies...great minds think alike right? haha
Yay for being REAL LIFE friends now, it's about time!!!
I had major hand placement issues!
Standing up is MUCH more attractive duh
Hands on hips Katie...the golden rule of picture taking ;)
Typically when I come to visit I feel like I don't get nearly enough Rachael time. This trip I got to see her the most of any trip ever!!! It was AWESOME. I loved every single second we spent together yet I still left feeling like I didn't get enough :) Since I spent the night with her the following night I'll brag on Rach more in a bit ;)
Making fun of Katie's photography issues
We know why Chris takes all the pics on her blog...poor child can't even close one eye ;)
I know you want this as a new profile pic Kelly ;)




Haha this is hilarious to me
So Katie had some trunk issues...like it wouldn't stay shut and it was SUPER bad weather. She must have gone out to try to fix it like 1,000 times. I think in the end Kelly figured it out (which of course she would...Kelly knows EVERYTHING). While they were working on it Rachael and I ran over to the courthouse in downtown Lawrenceville. I literally hadn't been there since Senior Prom. Time FLIES. It brought back SO many memories to be downtown and I love how nice it all is now. It's a really cute town and I wish the weather had been nice enough for us to walk around a bit! We snapped a few pics just for fun ;)
Lawrenceville Courthouse
Senior Prom...my last time on these same steps!
(And no Rachael...we weren't in the same prom group!)

We decided to head over to the old school Dairy Queen for some dessert. I LOVE visiting places from my childhood. It was so awesome...I remember going there after my little brother's baseball games when we were kids! They were practically closed when we rolled up and they did end up kicking us out. But it was well worth it for our treats. Even if I was the ONLY one who legit ate all my blizzard! Losers ;)

You may hate this Rachael but I think this is a SUPER cute face for some reason?


It was so, so fun. I haven't laughed that hard in like years. No joke. We laughed and laughed...and maybe cried a little too. That's the beauty of natural friendships like the four of us share, we can be true and just let the emotions flow - whatever they may be! We ended up huddled up in Katie's car after we got kicked out of Dairy Queen and could have probably stayed there all night if lame Kelly didn't have to work the next day ;)

I stayed the night at Kelly's and we would have probably stayed up even later just the two of us but we were both BEAT. I planned a full schedule, but also planned in some down time for myself as I really did need it. I got up the next morning and pumped then just lazed around in bed for a bit reading magazines and relaxing. It was wonderful! I visited with Jeff, Rhyan and Mack before heading out (I love getting to see the kids outside of the blog world! They are even cuter in real life!). Jeff probably thinks it's SO random how Kelly and I were strangers the first time I came to stay with them haha. Good thing I'm not crazy huh? 

I had a lunch date planned that day so I left a little early to go by Discover Mills as I wanted to check out the Disney Outlet. Good 'ole anti-shopping Kelly said it'd only take me about 20 min to shop...um yeah RIGHT. I ended up putting a bunch of stuff on hold to come back to later. I am not a big Discover Mills fan but Sugarloaf Parkway was my hardcore old stomping grounds so I was jacked to get to stop at my QuickTrip. It's strange how the most random things just feel like home...and that QT made me so happy. I'm lame, I know.
I was excited to meet up with Kim for lunch at Panera. B/c a) I LOVE Panera and we don't have one here and b) I have really enjoyed getting to know Kim through blogging/facebook and wanted to spend some time together in person! She is SUCH an inspiration to me!!! She has gotten on a big Zumba kick and LOVES it. It's completely changed her lifestyle and she's not only gotten in great shape and lost a lot of weight, but she's found a confidence in herself that I envy. I don't really have an outlet like that. Something to do that is JUST for me, ya know? And I really admire that she has found her "thing" through Zumba! Our lunch actually REALLY helped me in my decision to try Advocare. We didn't even talk about Advocare I don't think during our time together but I loved seeing how HAPPY Kim was and I wanted some of that happiness for myself. I knew that I needed to change my lifestyle and thought Advocare would help me get there :)
I enjoyed our lunch date so much and hated that it had to end so quickly! We probably could have sat there talking the rest of the afternoon! I know a LOT of people probably think it's so strange that I will hang out with people that I've only known through the internet...but I LOVE it. I have made TRUE friendships through this online world and I'm so thankful for that!!! Hopefully next trip we'll get to have a longer visit ;)
After my lunch with Kim I stayed at Panera and Kelly met me there for lunch too! I guess they both work nearby...again...SMALL WORLD huh? While I got to spend one night with Kelly and got to visit with her one-on-one during her lunch break, this trip was FOR SURE not enough Kelly time. I feel like I need to spend a solid week up there to be able to get all the time with my friends that I'd like to have ;) 

Following my lunch dates I went back to Discover Mills and finished up my Disney shopping...got some awesome Christmas deals ;) Then I headed to another friends house who I only know through the internet. This is even funnier...I went to her house but didn't actually meet her or even go inside! She'd put up on Facebook that she was giving away all her maternity clothes so I said I'd love to have them! She ended up not being at home during the time I could stop by so she just left them out front for me...I looked through them when I got home and they are SO CUTE and make me excited to be pregnant again (thank you Aundrea!!!). 

After going by her house I went to Rachael's so we could get ready for our big night out! I was SO glad it worked out that Greg was out of town...I mean I like Greg and all but Rach and I have never actually had a sleep over before and I was beyond excited about it!!! While getting ready I enjoyed getting to visit with Macy and Brady. Macy is SO adorable and I feel like her and Kye have such similar personalities so I naturally gravitate towards her. I legit want to steal her. She's cute and sweet and so well-behaved and smart! She has her mama's awesome personality 100%!!! 

Rachael and I have known each other forever but truly became super good friends through...yup, blogging. She's the reason I actually started blogging (I know you all totally want to thank her for that right?!) and has ALWAYS been a huge encouragement to me through my journey as a mom. She is one of the very few people in the world who truly makes me laugh. Zach is very jealous!!! I felt like this trip I got to know her on an even deeper level and I couldn't be more thankful for our bond. I love that she is Rachael. She's herself ALL the time and I am that way as well. It's a rare quality to find in someone and I appreciate that so much in her. We know we have each other's backs and that we can trust the other to be completely honest and open with us.

Prior to my trip Rach and I kinda threw it out there on Facebook that I was coming up and we wanted to get a group together. Really and truly I wanted to get to see some of my friends and thought it'd be great to get them all together at once instead of stressing myself out trying to visit each one individually. We met at O'Charley's in Lawrenceville which also brought back SO many memories!!! We did our best to make sure EVERYONE was invited. I hope no one got missed...and if you did please no hurt feelings, I'll try to plan a little better the next time I come as I hope to make this a more regular thing ;)

We ended up with a great mix of girls and had a wonderful time playing catch-up with each other (and grubbing OUT on some O'Charley's rolls!)
Top Row: Amanda, Rachael, Me, Stephanie, Liz and Stephanie
Bottom Row: Rebecca, Catherine, Jennifer, Valerie and Larissa
Jennifer, Stephanie, Valerie and Larissa
Y'all know me and my pictures...I wanted an individual shot with EACH person haha. You probably think I'm only like that b/c of the blog...but you're wrong. I had a camera on hand ALL the time from middle school up. I have always been a picture taker! I feel SO bad that I didn't get an individual one with Stephanie Emerine (Clark...it's tough to not think of people with their maiden names still haha)!!! I worked my way around the table and I think somehow I missed her...she must have switched seats on me or something ;) Steph and I go WAY back and I loved getting to spend some time with her on one of my visits last year. Christian, her son, is a cutie and I love seeing all of his adorable pictures (and "liking" them all on Facebook so I can still be her friend, right Steph? ;) )

Rach and I
Liz and I...friends since PRESCHOOL!!!!
I love that she is hardcore into Disney and that we both have a boy first then a girl...most of my friends have girls first so it's nice that we share that in common and can relate to each other ;)
Amanda and I...SO excited for baby Persephone!!!
I know Amanda and I will be getting much closer as she becomes a mommy ;) I'm SO excited for her and love keeping up with her pregnancy through her blog! She is just as sweet as I remembered her to be and I'm glad we got a good bit of time to talk to each other that night!
Stephanie and I
I couldn't get over how HOT Stephanie looks!!! She's an awesome mommy and has always been such a sweet friend in my life. She's one of those people that wears a constant, contagious smile and brightens up any room she enters!
Rebecca and I
She's also a new mommy and I've enjoyed helping her out, when I can, through it all. Isn't the internet SUCH a blessing as a parent??! We have so many people to lean on for support...it's awesome! I wish we'd sat on the same end of the table so we could have caught up more ;)
Jennifer and I
We were in the same kindergarten class and have been friends ever sense. She's enjoying the newlywed life and we figured out that her husband actually knows Zach...I'm telling you it's NUTS. So now I BETTER get to see her sometime soon!!! Come visit Valdosta ;)
Catherine and I
I feel like sometimes God has a plan in things that you don't even realize until they happen...this night was one of those times. We planned it and invited everyone and it was great fun, but I truly feel the Lord brought Catherine and I together that night. I knew her in school and have enjoyed facebook stalking her adorable sons but I didn't realize just how much we share in common. We have VERY similar background stories and I loved getting to connect with her. I told Zach I need to quit making so many awesome friends up in Atlanta!!! Now I have added her to my list of MUST visit people next time I go. I really am excited about our new-found bond and what the future will hold for that friendship!
Valerie and I
Valerie actually ended up marrying a guy who I knew in elementary school and who played my brother in our first grade play ;) She has ADORABLE children, Like should be Gap models cute!!! I hate this picture is kinda fuzzy, we'll have to get a redo next time ;)
Larissa and I
Larissa is a newly-wed as in like JUST married newly-wed and I couldn't be more excited and happy for her. I enjoyed our one-on-one visit last year when I made my trip and have enjoyed seeing all of her wedding planning through facebook as well as drooling over her amazing wedding day pics. She was a beautiful bride for sure!
While at dinner I got a text from Mr. Rusty...when Zach and I left to go out of town we told him and Mrs Char that Britt was close to crawling but not to stress over it because we didn't think she'd do it anytime soon. I didn't mean for them to encourage her to do it!!!! He sent this video to both Zach and I and we were both so disappointed that we missed such a big first in Brittlynn's life :( :( :( I now know though to tell anyone who watches her to NOT LET HER do anything she hasn't already done! I mean knock her over so I won't miss it, okay? ;)

Following our fun dinner, Rachael and I went to pick up the kids from her mom. Rachael actually grew up across the street from the neighborhood I grew up in so it was the perfect time to ride by my childhood home (if Michelle Mallory is reading this...your car was totally in your driveway and if it hadn't been so late I would have knocked!!!). I also had my high school "apartment" in the same neighborhood so we drove by that as well. It's so neat to me to get to be reminded of where I am from and how that has shaped me into the person I am. Great memories :)

Rach and I got like 2 hours sleep or something crazy. I tried so hard to never close my eyes as I didn't want our time together to end (in a totally hetero way...). I loved getting up the next morning and spending even more time with Macy. I read her SO many books and had so much fun seeing all of her toys and Disney stuff. She didn't want me to leave either! When walking me out somehow the door got locked to the house so I almost couldn't leave haha. 

Once I hit the road I went up to Dawsonville to the outlets. My dad met me there and we did a little shopping then got lunch at Ruby Tuesdays. Have you eaten there lately?!? They TOTALLY revamped their menu and it was super yummy!!! We spent a solid 3 hours together and it was wonderful. We got all caught up and just got to relax and enjoy each others company. I LOVE my children but sometimes it's nice not to have that distraction, ya know? It's pretty tough to have an uninterrupted conversation when you have a three year old and an infant! It worked out SO great that Dad was able to meet up with me and I love any time I can get with him!!!

I hit up a few more stores after lunch then headed to Danielle's house. I haven't seen Danielle in a YEAR which is SO crazy. We became best friends our senior year of high school and we both knew even then that we would be lifelong friends. It's so neat because we've both changed a ton over the years but have actually changed in many of the same ways. We share many of the same views and have that instant connection type friendship. I was actually a little nervous to see her! It has been SUCH a long time that I was nervous if we'd still have that same "click" but the SECOND we saw each other any nervousness washed away. It was natural, as always!!! We walked around a few stores (I don't even remember looking at anything? haha I think we just like walking while we talk and talk) then got dinner at Provino's. My FAVORITE restaurant ever!!! I'm glad we got the girl at Bruster's to take our pic so we had one together this trip :)
I spent my last night on my tour of friends trip with Danielle. Another sleepless night!!! Danielle is SUPER busy so she's not one of my constant text buddies like Rachael is so we had a LOT of catching up to do. Sure, we read each other's blogs but when my blog life is a good bit behind my real life there's some gaps to fill in (plus...shocker...I don't actually blog about everything). Danielle is such an easy person to talk to. I feel like in a lot of my relationships I'm the one people lean on and it's nice that I can lean on her! I am BEYOND excited for her to join the mommy club someday. I know our already close bond will become even closer. It was a great night to end the trip on!!!

While I could have stayed a few more nights and still probably not gotten to spend as much quality time as I would have liked to with my friends...I was SO ready to see my babies. I'm a firm believer in taking time out for MYSELF. This trip was wonderful for me. I came home with a renewed spirit. Being around people who have known me forever really helps me reconnect with that part of myself. Don't get me wrong, I love everyone in Valdosta but the people here know me as "Zach's wife" or "Kye's mom" the friends I got to visit just know me as Emily and that's a nice feeling. Getting away for a few days allowed me to come home and be an even better mom to my kids because I was reminded that I'm not just a mom. That there is a lot more to me than mommyhood. I was able to have so many real, raw, emotional conversations. I was able to be built up and to build up my friends in return. I got to laugh so hard it hurt, cry tears that needed to be shed, and have many parts of myself be brought back to the surface.

Thank you to each and every one of my friends...my real life Valdosta friends, my childhood friends, my new friends, and even those friends who I still only know from blogging. Each of you is a blessing to me more than you can even imagine and I'm so thankful to have you in my life!!! Thank you especially to Kelly, Rachael and Danielle for giving me a place to sleep while on my tour ;) I would LOVE nothing more than to plan another one of these trips in the near future. I would especially love to host any of YOU who may be in the area! Valdosta is a small town but we're in a great location so come see me! :)

"A friend is one the knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow" ~ William Shakespeare

5 comments:

  1. Love it!!!!! So glad we could hang out and talk!! I could have done it for hours more!! Love the pictures... cracking me up!!!!!
    So glad you were able to come up and see so many people. What a fun few days you had!!!

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  2. My favorite post of yours! Loved it.

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  3. Great post Emily!! Glad you got this time with friends! Having lunch was fun and nice to really actually talk to you in person. I can tell how happy this trip made you. As for me, the first picture of us I look horrible around the middle, almost pregnant. Maybe it was the shirt, I don't really look like that do I? The 2nd one is MUCH better. I think the first one was too close up. And not of my good side! :)

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  4. Love this post!!! I am SO glad that you wrote this because it makes me feel reassured that having your own time, aside from your children, is completely normal and you SHOULD do it. I have so many people close to me that make me feel horrible for wanting time away by myself. Atlanta is my "home away from home" because I have a few friends that live there that I LOVE visiting and spending time with because I can just laugh and have a good time. I'm totally like you though, I'd love to meet all my friends I've met thru blogging and Facebook (I have a lot of friends in Texas that I only know thru the internet...one of which is Annalise's namesake's Mom). So glad you enjoyed your trip!!! :)

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  5. I'm totally stealing your pictures and you will read how I felt about the visit when I write my post ;) XOXO

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