Sunday, October 9, 2011

26...

Brandon turns 26 today, so as a part of his birthday gift, I made a list of 26 things I love about him, and I wanted to share it on here too. I hope this list makes you love him a little bit more too because he's one great fella.

26 Reasons Why I Love My Husband:
1. Your tight hugs and meaningful kisses when we greet
2. The way your eyes look when you wear green
3. How manly you look in the Commander
4. Your amazing jambalaya-making and grilling skills
5. How you work so hard to figure me out when I may or may not be confusing
6. Your hard work in school
7. Your willingness to go early to play at church without ever complaining
8. Your love for sports, especially football
9. How you get along so well with my family
10. Your love for your friends and classmates at Belmont
11. How proud I get anytime I watch you play drums...It just never gets old!
12. How awesome I know you'll be at being a dad (as evidenced by your love for Rev)
13. Your laugh (at my silliness) and your one-of-a-kind sense of humor
14. Your style (even those God-awful Croc flip flops)
15. How you never complain when I have school work to do on the weekends
16. Your love for Mexican food and sweets
17. Your natural skills at teaching and writing community group material...Your wisdom never ceases to amaze me.
18. Your willingness to play crappy gigs because you want what's best for us
19. Your ability to remain neutral and level-headed
20. The fact that I know in my bones that you'd do whatever it takes to provide and take care of me (sidenote: this one made me cry)
21. Your willingness to teach my class every year about drums (and how awesome you are at it!)
22. How you always have something positive and uplifting to say about me (whether I'm in the room or not)
23. Your willingness to face the hard stuff head on and not let it defeat you
24. When you come grocery shopping with me
25. Your undeniable love for our Savior which makes all of the above who you are
26. The fact that I could continue writing hundreds more reasons why I love you and so incredibly blessed to call you my husband. I love you!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

3rd Year Teacher & My First Furniture Painting Project!

I can't believe I'm starting my THIRD year teaching! Wasn't I a college student just yesterday? Either way, I am determined to make this school year the best one yet. I am teaching 5th grade again, but just Math & Science (praise!), and I am teamed up with a great teacher, Michelle. I feel so much more comfortable now with my co-workers, and I'm really hoping to develop some deeper friendships. Pray with me for a more missional focus with my co-workers. The second full week is coming to a close, and I'm realizing just how exhausting it is to get back into the swing of things. Here are a few classroom pics if you didn't already see them on Facebook. Big ups to my main man for spending 2 full days helping me move classrooms and set it up!



Last weekend, I finally got around to painting a piece of furniture (I'm not sure what to call it...a rolling buffet table??) that we got from the Normans back in June. We have a ton of space in our dining room, so I stuck it in there with hopes of updating it with a fresh coat of paint. I finally mustered up enough courage (thanks to the gentle prodding of my sis) to pick out paint colors and get to work. Just know that this was a big deal for me. I seriously lack confidence when it comes to decorating and being creative, so I thought this would either boost my confidence or kill it completely forever :) Thankfully, I think it turned out pretty good, and I even discovered a new found love for painting furniture! I have my eye on painting our coffee table next!

Here's the before... Colors weren't terrible, but just outdated, especially with that faux finish circa 1997.
After spray primer...
And the finished product! Hooray!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thoughts Lately & 3 Years

Last Tuesday, Brandon and I celebrated our 3-year anniversary. Money is tight these days, so we didn't exchange gifts and had a low key celebration in the park with Rev and cheesecake. I wouldn't have had it any other way. Every year, we write in our journal the highlights from the past year. It's one of the best parts about our anniversary because we get to reflect on the year's events and then set goals for the upcoming year. It's truly amazing to realize the better place that we're in than we were a year ago.
Here we are posing with our delicious cheesecake :)

As I was driving home tonight, I felt a pretty overwhelming sense of peace and contentment with where we are right now. I'm not sure if it was the fact that I no longer needed a GPS to get from one part of town to the other (talk about freedom!), but regardless, I just kept saying to myself: This is HOME.

Nashville is pretty hard not to love...tons of outdoor events, beautiful parks and scenery, good live music any night of the week, farmers markets, great food, paletas, and more. But aside from all of the surface-y stuff, I'm just so glad Brandon and I are here. I think about the leap of faith that we took to follow the Lord's lead here, and I am still pretty amazed that we actually did it. It took a lot to unclench my fists from leaving my best friends, tons of family, and a wonderful church...but I'm so glad the Lord kept nudging us.

Because of His nudging, we jumped into a great church, and we've found some of our best friends there. I'm so excited to be a part of the beginning of a church and discovering what exactly the Lord is going to do with us meeting on Vanderbilt's campus.

Because of His nudging, we are living in the heart of the Belmont neighborhood, and I can't wait to get involved in those college students' lives.

Because of His nudging, we are a walking testimony that it IS possible to leave your hometown to experience a new city. If we can do it, I promise you can too!

Because of His nudging, Brandon and I have been through some of the most difficult points in our marriage, and we're only stronger because of it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another Chapter

Hey! Remember me?? Yeah, probably not, but that's ok. I'm a blog slacker to the nth degree if you haven't already noticed. As we approach our 1 year anniversary in Nashville (which we will ironically be spending in Louisiana), it's hard to believe how much has changed in a year. We have been stretched beyond anything before. We've had some dark times, but mostly great times. Now that we are coming up on the other side of things, it's amazing (and of course not surprising) to see the Lord's hand orchestrating it all.

A lot has happened since my last post. So since I love lists so much, here goes it:
  • We survived lots of snow, ice mess, and tornado threats. Nashville weather surely didn't ease us in!
  • There were many long, stressful days at school in preparation for TCAP testing where I learned to often take things just one hour at a time...but I survived it, and my class got 96% proficient on the writing portion! For a math teacher at heart, I couldn't be more shocked :)
  • I turned a quarter of a century.
  • We had many days of missing home a lot, but we're grateful for pieces of home in Nashville, such as visits with my brother & his sweet girlfriend, Lindsay, Brandon's parents, Chad & Allison Schoonmaker, and my dad next weekend.
  • Although we still miss our friends and family everyday, the Lord has been gracious to provide such great friends through our church and community group. Seriously, they are wonderful!
  • I got away for the weekend to visit my sister and check out their beautiful Ben Avon, PA home. We laughed, cried, shopped, and drank lots of tea together in honor of the Royal Wedding.
  • Brandon successfully finished one year at Belmont with an all-star GPA of 3.8! I'm soo incredibly proud of him.
  • And last, but not least (and probably what you've been waiting for) found a wonderful rent home that is walking distance to Belmont, parks, and great restaurants. It completely fell into our laps, and we couldn't be more thankful! We signed our lease yesterday and have already started moving things in. Here are pics, and I promise to update once we're all moved in and decorated! Keep in mind, it's an older home that needs a little TLC, but it's very charming.
WELCOME!
Our beautiful front yard. Luscious. Supposedly in the winter when the trees die, we'll be able to see the Nashville skyline.
This, my friend, is a cicada. I thought they only existed in the Old Testament, but I was wrong. They come out every 13 years in this part of TN, and now of course is the time that they're coming. Because we are surrounded by trees and plants, these creatures are EVERYWHERE. They're huge, loud, and have creepy red eyes. The good news is that they supposedly only stick around for a couple weeks. Go ahead and start praying for my fear to subside now.
Our humble kitchen. Small, yet functional. We'll have to get creative with storage throughout the house.
Back door and kitchen pantry. All of the curtains were left by the previous tenants.
The "butler's pantry"/office/could be laundry room (cross your fingers that they can get a washer & dryer hookup here!)
Other side of the "butler's pantry". Translation: more storage since we have no kitchen cabinets.
Dining room view from the living room. It connects to the butler's pantry.
Spacious living room. My favorite room. Straight ahead is Brandon's office/music room.
1st bathroom
Guest room. We'll have to walk through here to get to our room. But don't let that stop you from coming to visit!!
Crazy bowling alley bathroom. This supposedly was a closet. Still not sure about it. The previous tenants left those awesome curtains. There's a small stand-up shower behind where I stood to take this pic.
Our bedroom with a small closet. The other closet in the hallway will be mine.
Glow-in-the-dark-stars-that-are-so-old-they-don't-glow-anymore. Jealous??
Our "driveway" which we probably won't use very often because it's very difficult to get in and out of.

Hope you enjoyed the tour! Can't wait to see your beautiful faces inside of it soon! :)

Until next time...
kate :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rev Boudreaux Hays

I admit, I'm prepared for the flack/making fun of me for writing this post (especially when it's my longest one yet! Ha!). I promised myself I'd never become one of "those" dog owners, but it's different when you actually have one, especially like the one we have. I know not everyone is an animal lover, and I wouldn't even put myself into that category. But I know for sure that Brandon and I have one special dog. I firmly believe that the Lord puts anything and anyone in your life right when you need it as a gentle reminder of His love and care. You may think I'm over-spiritualizing things, but I don't care. Rev is a straight. up. blessing. I can only IMAGINE what it's like to have a baby! I wanted to write this post more so to read in the future and possibly share with our kids about Mom & Dad's first dog.

The way we got him isn't the typical go-to-the-animal-shelter type story. In the fall of 2009, one of my best friends Megan Boudreaux called to tell me that she was visiting a friends' house when this beautiful black lab walked up. She asked the friends about the dog, and they told her he had been let out of a van to wander around the neighborhood. The friends took him in but couldn't keep him, so they offered him to Megan. After some thought, she decided to take him home to her apartment (even though it was against the apt. rules), which happened to be right across the street from where Brandon and I were living at the time. She named him Rev, after one of her favorite worship songs, "Revelation Song", and he has a little white spot on his neck that kinda looks like a priest. Megan soon found out that Rev needed to be treated for heart worms, which is probably the reason he was dropped off in the first place. She started the treatment, and meanwhile she got a job at Our Lady of the Lake. I remember one of the first times Brandon and I played with Rev. We brought my Dad over to Megan's apartment one Saturday before we headed down to an LSU game. He had a different demeanor than a typical "puppy" (no one was sure how old he was, so we guessed about a year). He was gentle and sweet, but also a little skiddish, and Megan mentioned that he cried and barked a lot when she left. We guessed it was some sort of separation anxiety because he had been bounced around so many times. We experienced his anxiety when we dog-sat Rev for a couple weeks in December while Megan was out of town. We came home one evening to this. Rev decided he wanted to celebrate Christmas early and opened up one of my presents and tore apart one of our throw pillows. We were angry, but still couldn't really blame him because he was scared to be by himself because he thought we'd never come back.

Fast forward a couple months. On our way back from making Smoky Mountain memories in Maggie Valley, NC with the family, Megan called and asked if she could give Rev to us. With her new job, she'd be traveling a lot and really felt bad leaving him, especially with his separation anxiety. Brandon was all for it, but I was still a little hesitant. We had been talking about getting a dog, but we weren't sure if we would be too busy, and I worried about the added expenses. After discussing it on our way home (we had 13 hours to mull it over!), we decided we couldn't pass up on a FREE, beautiful, full-bred black lab. We picked him up on January 1 (that's when we celebrate his birthday), and he officially became Rev Boudreaux Hays.

Over the next month or so, we slowly got into a routine with Rev. Thankfully, we never had to go through the whining, potty training, puppy days. However, he continued to make his mark around the house. Three sets of blinds later (see pic below), we realized that we needed to pull up the blinds every morning so he wouldn't try to get to us while we were at work.

Even now, he randomly chews things up while we're gone (anywhere from cardboard pizza boxes to my students' test papers). But if that's the worst thing we have to deal with, then I'm not complaining! Everyone who meets Rev falls in love with him. He is the snuggliest dog, which is a nice way of saying that he doesn't acknowledge your own personal space. I'll have to save another post for the things we love most about Rev because I doubt you even made it this far! :) But know this: Rev has been an amazing source of joy and all-around feeling of home and loyalty. The Lord's timing is impeccable, and I'm so very thankful that we had him particularly in those dark times during the first couple months of moving to Nashville. Megan, we could never thank you enough for giving Rev to us.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Always.

These snow days have been great for my blog...2 in one week! Don't get used to it though...soon enough it'll be once every couple of months :)

Anyway, I started listening to Kristian Stanfill's new album "Mountains Move" this afternoon while grading papers, and I came across the song, "Always." We actually sang it just this past Sunday in church. (Speaking of, please continue to pray for our church search. We went to a church plant on Sunday and really liked it, but we just want to be where God wants us.) I really love the hope and peace in the words, based off of one of my favorite psalms: 121. Although we're not currently going through any huge "storm," I pray these words might speak to you or someone you know. Here are the lyrics, but you should get the entire album soon.

Always by Kristian Stanfill
My foes are many, they rise against me
But I will hold my ground
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

Troubles surround me, chaos abounding
My soul will rest in You
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
From You Lord, from You Lord

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always, always

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day 2011!!

This morning, we woke up to 3-4" of white wonder! I don't care how much I see snow in my life, it will always make me feel like a kid again. Enjoy our pics and videos :)
That snowflake makes it look like I have a fang!
video video
video video

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Holiday Highlights

Well, we're back from our 2-week visit to Louisiana for Christmas and New Year's. It's bittersweet to be back in Nashville because it was quite possibly one of the best holidays Brandon and I have spent together since we've been married (I know that's a lot). We were blessed to spend good quality time with our closest family and friends...if only the Owens family could've been there too! I honestly wasn't sure how we were going to make it all work at first, but it turned out to not be as hectic as expected, and I just relished in every moment I got to spend with the ones we love the most. On our 9 hour drive yesterday, Brandon and I recapped the 2 weeks into the following highlights. I hope you had a great holiday as well!
  • Surprising everyone at The Ring
  • Brandon getting to play at church
  • Dee-lish-us Louisiana food, including (but not limited to) Cane's, New York Bagel, Chimes, Ichiban, boiled crawfish, Counter Culture, beignets, Judice Inn, Squeal BBQ, and of course Momma & Mrs. Pam's good home cookin'! You people should be ashamed of yourselves if you're not taking advantage of this LA food :)
  • Visiting my old school, Oak Grove Primary
  • Brandon's reunion lunch with the Fat Rocker guys
  • Girls shopping day with Amber and Mrs. Pam
  • One-on-one time with my closest girlfriends
  • Celebrating birthdays with Kendyl, baby Matthew, and baby Sullivan
  • Hays family Christmas
  • Brandon having a classic G & J milkshake
  • Mini road trip to Lafayette to surprise my mom at Trinity on Christmas Eve
  • Low key Christmas Day, including a double date with Mr. and Mrs. Viper to see "Tangled"
  • Quality time with my mom in Lafayette cooking and playing Bananagrams
  • Elite girls night while B and my mom went on a date to see "True Grit"
  • Seeing my brother's newly renovated house and hanging out with him, Lindsay, and my dad
  • Brother/sister impromptu bike ride in Charles's neighborhood
  • Taking a classic trolley ride along St. Charles to dinner
  • Not sleeping that night because of the "drama" outside
  • New Year's Eve tradition at Cody & Brittany's with our closest friends, complete with an amazing remote controlled detonated fireworks show!