SURPRISE!

I did it ya’ll. I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. I threw a successful surprise party! It was so much fun and I can’t wait to do another one in the future again sometime. For the back story: Around Christmas 2012, my mom casually mentioned in a conversation that she had never had a surprise party before. What?? That is just unacceptable. So immediately, my brain started formulating this crazy idea to throw her the surprise party of her LIFE. Granted, her birthday was still 7 months away, but I knew for a party of this caliber there was no procrastinating to be had.

If you don’t know, my family has moved around countless times over the years. I’ve moved 8 times, and my mom has moved 13 times since marrying my dad. So needless to say, she’s got friends from all over. It was my hope that I could invite people from all over the south east. I knew it was a long shot, but I just HAD to try. And try I did!

After months of planning, careful, secretive, deliberation, and a few white lies here and there, July 27th finally came and my family got to surprise my mom for her birthday. It was beautiful. Absolutely couldn’t have gone any better. She assures me she had NO clue, and I think you can tell from the pictures that she wasn’t lying.

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I love those pictures. Reliving that moment is priceless.

After the initial surprise, it was time to eat and fellowship together. It was so fun seeing my mom with all of the friends that she has been the closest to for the longest time. Before the bulk of the pictures, I apologize some of them are blurry. I’m still getting used to my camera in indoor settings!

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The drink station.

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The dessert station.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I made those pinwheels. Easiest thing on the planet, but also the most time consuming. Three pieces of scrapbook paper, folded accordion style, then folded in half, then hot glue or staple together. That’s it! Just be prepared to do it for a few hours, depending on how many you’re trying to make.

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Thank you to Carol Ann for providing the white chocolate cupcakes, the white cupcake stand, and some mason jars!

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We decided to make our garage into the food serving station. Great idea in theory, but not so great in execution. You wouldn’t know it from the photos, but oh my word, the flies. I sincerely apologize to all the guests who had to keep swatting flies away from their food. I’ll spare you the maggot story that unfolded as a result of our weekend. Just make a note to yourself, DO NOT ACCIDENTALLY LEAVE A BAG OF TRASH IN YOUR GARAGE FOR THREE DAYS. Trust me on this one. (Also, I’m sorry to my brother Jonathan for the panicky phone call).

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We all sat and visited for HOURS. It was great. And of course we were entertained by my niece Rilynn. She could easily have her own show.

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A special thanks to this lovely lady in pink right here. My mother in law, Carla, continued cooking the kabobs while everyone was arriving and visiting, and THEN washed the majority of the dishes and pots and pans as they were becoming available. Don’t know what I would have done without her!

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For a little entertainment for everyone, as well as a sure-fire to document everyone who came to the party, we set up a photo booth! Originally we were hoping to build a farmhouse table out of this wood before the party, but there seriously was no time to get that done. So instead, we made it into the most perfect backdrop! I was SO pleased with how it turned out!

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Also, special thanks to my friend Lindsey for letting me borrow her photo booth props!

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I did not expect people to bring gifts, but they went above and beyond! And my Aunt Linda brought a whole bunch of old pictures of my mom growing up. So fun!

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My mom’s friends also went above and beyond because they all wrote a letter to her that I put together in a scrapbook as a keepsake from the party. So that after the party, I will add the pictures we took that day to the scrapbook to make it an all-inclusive memory book!

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My hubby with his two nieces!

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My best friend Chelsea is like a second daughter to my mom, so of course she had to come!

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 Apparently, my parents were in a singing group when they were newlyweds! Haha. Jane and Rick, two other members of the matchy matchy group brought this poster to give to my mom. My parents are in the bottom left corner.

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Now, for the rest of the photo booth FUN!

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Love my mom, love our family, and love all the people who had a part in this to make it happen. Thank you SO much!

(Also, major shout out to my friend, Loren, who let me borrow the majority of the decor. The water bucket, the table cloths, the blue mason jars, the silver cupcake stand, the various trays and serving dishes, crock pot, and probably more. You’re awesome Loren! Thank you again!!) 

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Three Years Ago

May 29, 2010 has such a special place in my heart. It was the day that the love of my life proposed to me and asked for my hand in marriage. I had just come home from college, and his sister had just graduated from high school. He planned an entire day for us with the cover of it being a day out for Christina as his graduation gift to her.

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We went to Helen, GA for the day and went to breakfast, played putt putt, got ice cream, went hiking up Amicolola Falls, and then went back to a cabin to get ready for “dinner” with his parents. Little did I know that while I was getting ready, he was transforming the cabin into a romantic setting to pop the question, complete with candlelight, pictures of us throughout the years, roses, and soft music.

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I really was in shock. He had gone all out. I never expected his proposal to be so extravagant. But he definitely took my breath away and made tears flow quite uncontrollably. I immediately knew what was going on and I couldn’t have been happier. He led me over to the table where he knelt down in front of me and read to me from a journal. He told me he loved me for the very first time and then asked if I would marry him. I had no doubts in my mind what my answer would be and quickly said yes! He pulled out the most beautiful ring I had ever seen and finally put that rock on my hand!

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Prior to our arrival at the cabin, his parents had delivered my favorite Italian meal, chicken parmesan, and had it stored in the cabinets. I would love to say we had a romantic dinner after this point, but I was so excited that I couldn’t even eat. All I did was cry, stare at my ring, and take pictures!

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After we got past the initial shock and celebration, we straightened up the cabin and headed back to Woodstock where he had all of our family and friends at my house for a surprise engagement party. The night just kept getting better and better and it will forever be etched in my memory as one of the best days of my life.

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Saying yes to marry Matthew James Renney was the easiest decision I’ve ever made. Up to that point he had slowly pursued me over the course of two years, writing me letters while I was away at school, praying diligently over our relationship, guarding my heart and protecting my purity. He loved me like Jesus does and I knew that by marrying him we were walking in obedience to what God has called us to in the life: to partner together to be a visual picture of Christ and His love for the church, and the church’s submission to Christ in the most harmonious relationship known to man. We fail often, but I’ve never doubted saying yes to this man. Happy Engagement Day Anniversary sweetheart! I love you dearly.

Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Ya’ll. I just had one of the sweetest weekends I’ve had in a long time. Matt finished school on Friday and is now on summer vacation, which means, lots of husband time!! He still has a football workouts a couple of days a week, but all in all, I will be seeing him a WHOLE LOT more. We decided to kick off summer with a trip to my family’s cabin on Smith Lake in Alabama. My grandfather built this cabin with his own two hands about 48 years ago, making it an iconic memory in our family. In the 5 years of us knowing each other, Matt had still never been there. It was time. We headed out with my parents Friday afternoon for a 3 day weekend of rest and relaxation.

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Little did Matt and I know, but one of my brothers and his family came to surprise us at the lake! My parents found out that morning that they were coming and kept it a secret from us! It was such a fun surprise getting to spend the weekend with my nieces and nephew (and brother and sis-in-law!) who I dont’ get to see enough as it is. Living 500 miles apart makes it difficult but because of weekends like this past one, it doesn’t always feel so far! The only person missing was my other brother Jonathan. Next time, bro!

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I seriously enjoyed getting me some Avery time. This little girl is already 7 months old and growing like a weed! Also, the rolls. How can you not love the wonderful thing that is baby rolls??

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Saturday and Sunday we spent the majority of our time outside. Swimming, fishing, riding in the boat, cliff jumping, inner tubing, laying in the sun, and sitting around the campfire. It was good old fashioned fun free of schedules, TV, and computers (besides our phones, which I used to take all of these awesome-quality pictures.)

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Matt, sporting one of my grandfather’s old fishing hats.

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It took a while to get Rilynn to actually go in the big “pool” but once she did she seemed to enjoy it! As long as she had her floaties and her life jacket to keep her from going under.

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The lovely Smith family (with the exception of Avery who was snoozing away in the cabin).

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Terrible picture quality, but swimming with my dad at Smith Lake like old times had to be captured on camera!

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Like father like son, lounging in Big Bertha.

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Andrew was dying to go cliff jumping ever since we first started telling stories of the times we all cliff jumped last time we were at Smith Lake. When we took him to the first cliff, he decided it was a little too high for him. So we found about a 10 foot cliff that he conquered like a champ. And then….he worked up the courage to go back to the first cliff, as long as he could hold his daddy’s hand. He absolutely LOVED it and went back a second time to jump again!

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Matt and I jumping the mini-cliff. We both jumped the big one at separate times, but I jumped so fast we didn’t get a picture. I didn’t want to take the time to look down.

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Jason and Andrew jumping the massive cliff! I’m telling you, from the top, it looks like a much further way down.

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The boys had some brother bonding on Big Bertha. It didn’t last too long before Jason went tumbling off.

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Matt’s hat. Hahaha.

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I attempted to take a panoramic of the lake while we were on the boat. Rather difficult considering the waves we were hitting.

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I got to try my hand at driving the boat for the first time! Not as hard as I thought it would be, but I still think I’ll leave it up to the boys.

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One final view of our cabin at the lake and the pier! We can’t wait to go back again many more times this year!

It was a great Memorial Day weekend. My sis-in-law agreed that we should definitely make it an annual tradition to kick off summer. Sound good, fam??