Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Our Trip to Nashville, Y'all!!!

I know, I know...I've been promising details of this trip for, like, ever now!  I mean for crying out loud, we've been home a month already!  But in that month our entire family has been sick three times, including an ambulance ride to Children's ER.  Is that a good enough excuse to be a little behind on posts?  I hope so...because if not, I don't know what is!  LOL!

So.  Nashville.  Everyone asks us...why Nashville?  You mean, besides my obsession with music and my love of the south (or my mental picture of the south, considering that was my first time actually GOING)???  Well, since we started the adoption process we have had a growing group of friends in the Kentucky-Tennessee area that we have been dying to meet (admittedly, I probably wanted to more than my husband).  We needed a break.  It was a good time to take off work.  We wanted a family vacation.  We wanted affordable.  We wanted warmer weather.  Nashville!

(Not so) patiently waiting for the flight, and getting settled in our seats (our flight left at 6am).

Hollywood's first flight....he was a little excited!

Thank GOODNESS for the iPad

We were blessed with AMAZING weather while we were there.  Just one crazy rainstorm/thunderstorm and the rest was sun-sun-sun!!!  We even got some tan lines (yes, including my little Ethiopian)!

For the first half of the trip we stayed with the B family, who we originally met during our first trip in Ethiopia.  Our dear friends were the ones who blessed us by recording and photographing the moment we met our sweet Cocoa for the first time.  If we hadn't instantly bonded over breakfast that first morning I would have still forever had a connection with Teresa and her amazing family after listening to her sweet southern accent on our "Meetcha Day" video over and over again.  As soon as Teresa heard we were coming she offered us a place to stay (southern hospitality is no joke) at their beautiful home right in Nashville.

They were AMAZING hosts.  Their oldest son offered up his room graciously to our family of four.  They gave us free reign of the kitchen, fed us some traditional southern BBQ, and introduced us to their dearest friends.  There was never a moment we felt in their way or out of place - they just welcomed us into the family with open arms!  Even our kids grew so fond of them, offering up hugs and kisses without hesitation.  It just melted me!  =)

In front of their house

The kids with Teresa's sweet daughter, who was from the same orphanage as Cocoa

Playing in the culdesac

What several days with no nap looks like =)
Saturday, the B family decided to give us a real taste of life in Nashville and took us to a game at Vanderbilt.  I know this will confuse every member of my family considering I have hated sports my entire life....but I can't exactly deny my husband and children adventures like this just because they aren't my favorite.  Plus - you can't top a free game in an open stadium on a sunny afternoon!  Some popcorn, pizza, and hefty water bottles and we were set!  That was....until Hollywood started getting a headache from the heat...and then I knew we had to get our fam out of the sun for a little.

That evening, we had the AMAZING opportunity to got out for an Ethiopian dinner with our amazing AGCI family.  Most of the families lived right within the Nashville area, but two dear ladies, Meredith and Cortney, came all the way from Knoxville to meet us!  Although I have ZERO pictures from that evening (due to two very cranky kids demanding our constant attention) we did have a wonderful time visiting with these lovely families.

The second half of our trip we stayed with the R family over in Spring Hill (south of Nashville).  I met Ashley through our community group of AGCI families on Facebook.  They ended up adopting with another agency (you can read their amazing story here), but thankfully stayed a part of the group and we have stayed connected through our common passion of advocating for orphans.

Ashley and her sweet family took us all over the Spring Hill and Franklin area.  We ate at multiple restaurants, visited parks, and shopped downtown.  They opened up their home to us, organized fun play dates with multiple families, and even purchased a pool to ease us Seattle folk into their 80 degree spring weather. Talk about awesome hosts!!!  And as if that wasn't MORE than enough...they also picked us up and took us to the airport.  Oh my goodness guys....we're so grateful words aren't enough!

Ashley and Makenzie's sweet girls!

Splish Splash!  Fun in the sun!
Some Ethiopian sass from Makenzie's adorable little lady!

Hollywood finally joining in on the fun
Some Instagram Fun =)
Makenzie and her adorable family (who I also met through AGCI) met up with us on several occasions throughout the week as well as inviting us into their home and giving us a tour of East Nashville.  It was fun to have friends all over the Nashville area to show us the best of the best!   And we are so grateful they took the time out of their busy schedule to welcome us to Nashville and let us get to know them a little better.

On Friday, we got a very unique opportunity to meet up with some very special friends whom I have known for a long time, but never met in person until this trip.  This is kind of a crazy story, are you ready?  We met about 5 years ago on when we were all trying to start a family.  My husband and I were at a point that we were ready for kids, but we wanted to surprise our family and friends with the news.  But until there was news to share, I needed a place where I could share my excitement, concerns, and ask questions....and that's when I met these amazing ladies.  It started out as just conversation but grew into deep, meaningful friendships.  Our group grew quite big over the years and we're spread all over the United States and even Australia!  They are some of the best friends a girl could ask for - they let me vent without judging, they have been an emotional support system through every adventure our family has gone on, and I am so blessed to have them in my lives.  SOOOO....when these two awesome ladies from Kentucky were willing to come MEET ME in Nashville, I jumped at the chance!  So finally we got to hug and talk face to face and see each other's precious kids.  SUCH an amazing day.  So THANK YOU Amber and Jenn for making the drive.  It means the world to me.

At the Opry Mall and Rainforest Cafe and a huge thanks to my hubby for graciously watching the kids so we could chat and for actually capturing a photo with everyone smiling!!!  Amazing!

We also had the pleasure of meeting the J and G families on Sunday.  When they heard our family was coming into town they invited us to join them for their joint family dinner, after a tour of the Brentwood/Nolensville area, of course.

Kristi and her family I met through her well-known blog.  Back when we were researching the Ethiopian adoption process, I stumbled upon her blog and Gotcha Day video for Lucy Lane and that was how we were introduced to AGCI!  Kristi welcomed us into her home and gave us the grand tour of her 1800's farmhouse (so cute, and so amazing).  And then her sweet husband offered to watch the kids so that Kristi could drive us around town!

Candi and her family hosted our three families for dinner!  I also met them through the AGCI community and Candi was one of the first to send me photos of our sweet Cocoa at Hannah's Hope (since their family traveled in March, and we didn't go until May).  They gave us our first glimpse of Cocoa's smile....I will NEVER be able to thank them enough for that!!!

It was a house full of laughter and good food - they had quite a spread of southern BBQ and sweet tea (which I have grown to LOVE by the way).  And we were so blessed that we could join the G's in celebrating their kiddos' Gotcha Day as well as Candi's husband's birthday.

Breaking out the cake

At the end of the night we realized it might be wise to get a pic of all the ladies =)
Out of the entire week we had one afternoon with nothing scheduled.  I was a little worried about what we were going to do, but it ended up being SUCH a fun day!  We found ourselves downtown just walking around.  Even though I am not a big city girl and never will be, I do enjoy being a tourist every now and then.  There was some event going on so the streets were packed, but we still had so much fun.

So on top of meeting all these amazing families for the first time, we also got the opportunity to meet up with my cousin, who moved to Nashville last year.  It was so fun to see her in her environment!  Nashville so fits her personality!  Necia took us out to a fun southern restaurant, Jim 'N Nicks, which is well known for their life-altering cheesey biscuits.  If you haven't tried them, you must!  Soooo good!  The kids just LOVED seeing mommy's cousin...she's kind of awesome and always a hit with the kids =)  And then she took us back to her apartment so we could see her part of town and chat for a while.  SO glad it worked for us to get together because it was SUCH a fun evening.

Well!  That about sums up a pretty awesome week!  Have YOU been to Nashville?  What do YOU think?



Mike Fiechtner said...

great pics! Looks like a fun trip!

Amy said...

It looks like you had a great time! So sad that we didn't get to meet up, but hopefully you loved Nashville so much that you will be back soon :)

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

Sounds like fun to me!!!

Love Kristi and her family- stayed with them a few years ago...before they moved with our whole family :). This time going to Chrsitian Alliance for Orphans I stayed in her guest house :)!

I am not sure I know the other people you met, but there are 100's of families in the area that have all adopted! Love them all!!!!

Mama Mimi said...

Thanks all it WAS wonderful!

Amy - next time PLEASE!!!

Dawn - SO many! And I keep "meeting" more online!!! Can't wait to go back!