Our Walk Down Memory Lane VDay Date

For Christmas this year Katie gave Zach and I a gift card to a super cute restaurant in downtown Valdosta. We talked about using it for a Valentine’s date and even got a sitter to come for our special night πŸ™‚ We are trying to do better with actually USING the money we set aside each month for date night. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy busy busy of life and drop the ball on going out…especially when you add the cost of paying for a sitter. But that’s why a restaurant gift card is such a great gift b/c it helps offset that cost πŸ˜‰

I don’t own a lot of “sexy” clothes. I’m a Christian and a mom of three. I mean modesty and comfortability is where it’s at. But I do love the top of this dress and think it brings a “sexier” vibe to the outfit…Zach agreed πŸ˜‰

I always say Valentine’s Day is super casual with us but we looked back at past V-Days and it turns out my husband kinda always goes above and beyond for this holiday! He’s done fancy home cooked meals with massages, hilarious “celebrity look alike” nights, and even had his cousin chauffeur us around one year! This year he didn’t disappoint (not that I had any expectations!). When we got in the car to head to our date there was a note with a clue in my seat πŸ™‚ Zach and I have SO MUCH history in Valdosta together and so many of our early memories are places we really don’t frequent (we kept talking about that while driving around town…it’s crazy how even in a smaller community you really don’t go to certain areas very often!). 

Each stop had a little note about that place and a clue to the next one. It was really fun and we laughed a lot and it was so sweet and made me feel bad that I didn’t do anything more thoughtful for him! I think of myself as a great gift giver but I feel like I drop the ball with random out-of-the-blue thoughtfulness. 

I guessed this one right away (the underlining def helped). 

I grew up knowing of God and was raised Catholic (we weren’t like hardcore but attended pretty regularly especially when I was very young) but hadn’t really read the Bible at all until I met Zach. I was what I guess you’d say an “easy convert.” For me it just makes sense. God’s inspired Word is in the Bible. We read the Bible. We do what the Bible says. Easy πŸ™‚ (well maybe not always actually easy but it’s SIMPLE to understand at any rate!). I put on Christ in Baptism at Georgia Bible Camp. I was 19 and Zach actually baptized me in the pool there! It’s a super special memory and was a great first stop on our little adventure. If you’d like to learn more about baptism and why it’s an essential step to salvation you can read this post πŸ™‚ 

My clue was on the gate πŸ˜‰

Clue 2! Also super obvious!

I love that Zach and I met so randomly. It’s a “sliding door moment” type thing (if you haven’t seen the movie you should b/c it’s one of those that I reference in life all the time haha). My college roommate was heartbroken over a boy so we planned a quick trip up to Valdosta from Tallahassee. I’d only ever visited Valdosta as a stop on our way from Lawrenceville to Melbourne with my family growing up but I had several guy friends from high school who attended VSU. A couple of them had visited me down at FSU and I figured it’d be a fun getaway for my roommate and that maybe she’d meet a cute boy to cheer her up. I was “on again” with my high school boyfriend so I wasn’t on the lookout for myself at all! 

Turns out my high school guy friends knew Zach (one played football with him, the other was in his bowling class) and had talked to him about me. I had no clue about any of that until WAY later but that night we met Zach in the bowling ally parking lot. I remember it vividly. He drove up with his Trailblazer and his rims and blasting his music and stuck his head out the window. I turned to my roommate and asked what she thought of him and she said he was cute so I said we were down to hang out. We all went over to his rental house. My first impression of him was that he was tall, loud, and cocky. Very all-American good looks type which wasn’t the type I typically went for (or that I would ever assume would go for me). Of course I thought he was cute but I wasn’t looking for myself…I was looking for my friend! He had on Malibu’s Most Wanted and was quoting it a lot and laughing. I cussed at one point and he told me if I cussed two more times that I’d have to leave. And he wasn’t kidding. 

I legit had NO CLUE he was at all interested in me until later in the night when he asked to talk to me and we ended up having SO many of the “big picture things” in common. People think it’s crazy but really and truly the beginning of our relationship all started b/c I told him I wanted to be a stay at home mom and he said he was wanting to find a girl who had the goal to stay home. That was the spark that really ignited us! When my roommate and I left I didn’t give Zach my number. I just didn’t think it was something that would lead to anything. I was still with the high school boyfriend and I enjoyed getting to know Zach but wasn’t about to be “that girl” who would just be added to the long list of girls pining for him. No thanks. I could tell he was the kind of guy that girls were all over all the time and that’s just not my style πŸ˜‰ We joke a lot about that and who of the two of us had more “game.” I mean it was def me, right? The hard to get thing totally worked on him b/c he was so used to girls being all about him all the time πŸ˜‰ 

We headed back to Tally and my phone rang from a 229 area code which I wasn’t familiar with. It was Zach who got my number from my friends and called to see if we’d made it back. He told me to call him sometime. Which I didn’t like b/c I’m NOT a person who likes to have the ball in my court. I called him back immediately and told him that he’d have to be the one to decide when to call again πŸ˜‰  It worked out in my favor because I had to babysit and didn’t use my phone while babysitting (I mean I wish that’s how sitters were now, right?!?!) so when he did call I didn’t answer. Again…so much game b/c it left him wanting more bahaha

Within a few weeks we both fully ended it with any of our “fish we were feeding” (Zach had this whole theory about how you have your prize fish hanging on the wall but keep feeding others in case the wall one needs to be replaced. Dude miiiiiight have been a tad bit of a player hahaha) and were an official item. I love our beginning because it was just so many chance things that lined up just right. I feel like it’s one of those meant to be type things and I’m so thankful it all played out exactly how it did! I still have to pinch myself from time to time that I’m the prize fish who got to stay on the wall permanently πŸ˜‰ 

Ginny Dr is the street of Zach’s college rental house which is where Clue 2 took me. So many awesome memories there! 

Duh. Hospital! 

The looks from people as we pulled through the ER and took pics of this were pretty awesome!

I love that he thought to include the hospital as part of our story. Nothing bonds you as a couple like delivering a baby! All three of our deliveries were so amazing and it’s going to be so exciting to see how Tab’s entrance into our lives happens!

Again, easy πŸ˜‰

Something Zach and I always talk about is the timing of when we met. We’re both SO thankful we met exactly when we did in our lives. I know we were young to have found “the one” but we love it. Especially that I got to be part of his entire college football career. I was there for his first game and his last! I loved loved loved cheering him on and those memories are so precious to us both. Def our favorite college memories and I’m just so thankful we experienced them together!

This one was also pretty easy although to anyone else reading it, it probably sounds like gibberish!

Zach and I parked at the Christian Student Center on campus. It’s a Church of Christ affiliated college outreach program. We parked there because we were members of the church but attended church with his family in Lakeland. I felt guilty parking there but not attending their college gatherings on Wednesday nights. I kinda pushed Zach to try it out and we ended up making so many close friendships from the Student Center. It eventually lead us to become members at our current church (our church, Central Avenue, runs the Student Center) and provided us with so many amazing memories. Katie and Ryan also attended with us and it’s where I met Ashley who was my closest bff for years. Such a special place! 

This one had me STUCK. When I think of Frozen songs I instantly think of “love is an open door” I know the obvious song to think about is “let it go” so neither could get out of my head and it made it impossible to figure out this clue! I finally remembered the song the dang trolls sang “he’s a fixer upper” which lead me to instantly think of Hillside Drive. Our first home together!

Y’all. Our first home buying experience was pretty hilarious. We did an interest only loan (which I highly doubt they do anymore) and bought this house near the college for $79,000. It was for sale buy owner and we signed a random agreement between us and the original owner. We were so dumb. The inspector we had was a friend of the owners too. So he did some great top notch inspection job for sure. #eyeroll. 

The location was great for the college but in a super, super rough area. Our neighbor had things stolen from his carport. The neighbor across the street had exterior video cameras installed by his doors and had random people coming and going all the time which lead us to assume he was a drug dealer. I cannot believe we lived there for 2 years and didn’t even have an alarm system. I would literally not even walk to the mailbox to get the mail. The backyard was a huge cement block wall as the fence and the interior was expended and had a lot of “diy” work from many years ago that was zero percent up to code. We ended up having roof issues, water issues, all kinds of issues. BUT it was still our first home and it was still filled with all kinds of wonderful memories. We bought the home while engaged (Zach would stay the night either in a room his parents had at their office or in the guest room we had in the house) and moved out before getting pregnant with Kye. It was a humble beginning and one that I look back on fondly! 

I didn’t get this clue. At all. Zero percent. He ended up having to tell me!!!

There is this hotel in town with a HUGE sign that has super cheap rooms and one VDay we stayed there for the night. Typical man to remember that event so clearly to include it on our relationship scavenger hunt haha

I did get this one right away! 

We only have one movie theater in town and it’s Valdosta Stadium Cinemas! 

When we were dating I was pretty hardcore about the requirement of any guy I dated passing my “movie test.” I was REALLY into movies as a teen and loved to watch the more independent/deeper thinking type films and discuss them at depth (mostly with my dad). My favorite movie was Memento (still a top one on my list) and the “movie test” was to make sure guys I dated liked similar movies πŸ˜‰ The guy I dated prior to Zach (well not counting the “on again” phase with the long term high school boyfriend) took me to see Charlie’s Angels in theaters. Dude def failed the movie test haha. Zach is pretty picky about his movies (he likes a neat and tidy ending) but overall he passes πŸ˜‰

This clue also took me a bit. I had guessed Steak and Shake as a stop earlier in the night and just dropped the ball on this one! 

Early in our days of dating we hit up Steak and Shake a LOT and it was hilarious b/c the second time I went with Zach there a girl who worked there said “Congrats! You made it back with him more than once!” Again…dude must have been a bit of a player right? And such a Zach thing to take his dates to Steak and Shake #cheap.

We still eat at Steak and Shake REGULARLY! It’s my fav spot for girl’s nights and great to go with the whole family too!

I also knew this would be somewhere on our journey and guessed it right away πŸ˜‰

Our first dating anniversary Zach surprised me. And took me camping. In a random patch of wooded area by the local high school. Off a main road. Like zero percent a camp grounds. He also had my dog, Sadie, in the trunk of the car as a surprise. Our dating anniversary is Feb 5th. And he didn’t really think through the whole WINTER thing. Omg we were FREEEEEZING. It was still early on enough in the relationship where I didn’t want to be negative but I was dying to just pack up and get out of there haha. It was sweet and thoughtful but SO random. I’m thankful his planning has improved since then πŸ˜‰

After our journey ended we headed to dinner at Steel Magnolia’s!

Zach tried out the whole hoodie shirt with a blazer look and our waiter was hilarious about it. He complimented Zach on the outfit and said how well it worked and told him some IG accounts to follow for trendy tips for men. They bonded over their love of fashion while small town living haha. Classic. 

Shrimp and Grits…AMAZING

Duh, dessert had to happen!

We had SUCH a fun night together! I’m so appreciative of Katie for the gift card that encouraged us to go somewhere a little fancier than we’d normally go. I love that Zach is always thinking of ways to show me how much he loves me. Taking the time to write out all those clues and hide them all over town was so, so sweet. I love our past and love remembering back to the early days of our relationship. It is such a reminder of how blessed we are to have each other. How great our current life is together and how many great memories are still ahead for us!

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Emily Parker

Hey Y’all, I’m Emily! I’m a stay at home mom and consider parenting to be my passion. Disney is my happiest place and I love making memories as a family together. I’m a big believer in transparency and share all of my real-life moments as a mother of four.

My work has been featured on Love What Matters, Today Parenting and Babywise.Life. I’m also honored to be a member of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.

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