Friday, July 30, 2010

Suprise Party

In case I haven't mentioned, our good friends Matt and Angela recently became engaged. We have been waiting for Matt to propose to Ang for a while now, so we were all so excited when it finally happened! A few friends of ours decided to throw them a surprise engagement dinner to celebrate last night. Matt and Angela thought they were just going to be meeting Matt and I, little did they know there were another 20 or so friends waiting with us. Here are some pics from the evening. We had a blast!

The happy couple:

The whole group:

Matt and I:

Why I do what I do

I received this from one of my patient's today. He is leaving to go to another placement and wrote this poem for me. It is people like this who make me realize how much I love what I do and that I am making a difference. Just one letter or poem or note like this makes it all worthwhile.

In case you can't read or understand it, it says:
"Mrs. Jessica,
I've learned to have more confidence in myself
just like great power comes great responsibility
Life isn't a game in life to me (?)

I used to be a Caterpillar
now I am a butterfly in the sky

I once was lost but now am found

You helped me see in the dark
you were my light in the dark

But now I see
Because then I might be free

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama

After college I had a plan. And it was a good plan. My plan was to move to Birmingham to complete Graduate School, work maybe a year or so, and then move back home to Atlanta. The problem is, once I lived in Birmingham for a little while I realized how much I love this city. It is a large city with a small town feel. It reminds me of Atlanta but on a much smaller scale. Atlanta has the Braves, we have the Baron's, a minor league team. Atlanta has Lakewood Amphitheatre and we have Oak Mountain Amphitheatre. Atlanta has Six Flags and White Water, we have Alabama Adventure. For anyone who doubts the greatness of Birmingham, I have compiled a list of reasons to love Birmingham. Here are just a few:

1. Thirsty Thursdays- starting late Spring the Birmingham Baron's Minor League Baseball season begins. On Thursday night home games, they have "Thirsty Thursdays". This means after you pay your $7 admission ticket to get in, you can buy all the beer you want for $1 a beer. This includes brands such as Bud Light, Miller Light, Michelob Ultra, Killian's, and more. All for $1 each. You can't beat spending a Thursday evening at a baseball game with a cold beer on a summer night.

2. Shopping-Birmingham is big enough to offer several malls and shopping areas which are never a far drive. It only takes about 30 minutes to drive from one side of Birmingham to the other. That makes it a perfect city for those who love to shop since it is never more than a 30 minute drive to the farthest shopping place. Birmingham has the Galleria, the Summit, Brookwood Mall, The Pinnacle, and is currently building another outdoor shopping mall in Leeds. Not only does Birmingham have large malls with many of the stores you know, but Birmingham offers many small boutiques and shopping areas with more eclectic or unique options.

3. SOHO/Downtown Homewood- Located in the heart of Birmingham is this area. It is home to tons of unique shops such as jewelry stores, wedding supplies, home decorations, linens, dress boutiques, and more. Not only does this area offer great shopping but the best restaurants. We're talking THE best. Salem;s is known for their Philly Cheese steak once proclaimed by Craig Ferguson on the Late Show as better than any in Philadelphia, Mama Goldberg's Deli which is known for their nachos made with Doritos and Jalapeno cheese, O'Carrs which is voted best chicken salad in Birmingham year after year, Jackson's Restaurant which hosts a huge St. Patrick's Day party every year, and the new Do Di Yo's which is an eclectic restaurant with fresh and original Greek Food (you make the hummus at your table!). SOHO square also has some really neat lofts that overlook and surround the area. There are also several bars such as Oak Hill, which are fun to visit during the night which makes Homewood a great place not only to be at during the day but at night.

4. The Vulcan- So apparently back in the day there was a statue of this man built on Red Mountain which overlooks the City of Birmingham. Not only is it a funny conversation piece, but a neat place to visit and catch some great views of the city.

5. Southwest- Birmingham is home to one of the cheapest and best airlines, Southwest. Southwest is offered at many cities, Birmingham being one of them (sorry you Atlantian's but Southwest doesn't fly into Hartsfield). Southwest offers cheap flights that can start as low as $25 one way to places like New Orleans or $99 to Las Vegas or New York. And of top of the great deal bags fly free and there is no assigned seating. Beat that Delta.

6. Location, Location, Location. Birmingham is in a great spot. Only 2 hours from Atlanta, 3-4 to the beach, 3 to Nashville or Memphis, or 5 1/2 to New Orleans. Being so close to other large and great places makes Birmingham a great place to live and be able to go on quick weekend trips without taking much time for the actual traveling.

7. Auburn-Okay, Okay so I know Auburn isn't located in Birmingham. It's really a couple hours south of Birmingham. BUT, you can feel the love of Auburn with many of the fans being based in Birmingham. So frequently you will go out and see other Auburn fans sporting Auburn
paraphernalia and shouting "War Eagle" to one another. In no other place have I seen such camaraderie about the love for a school.

8. Mountain Brook- So Mountain Brook may be known to many people in Birmingham as the rich or sometimes snotty area where many wealthy people reside. The reason I love Mountain Brook is for the history and beautiful homes. Mountain Brook is all historic. The homes range from small ranch style to huge mansions all built years ago. Driving through Mountain Brook there are tons of these homes and large trees which have been around for decades making the area look so beautiful. It is the perfect area to go for a drive and admire all the great sights.

9. O'Carrs restaurant- I know I have already mentioned it, but it is so good I feel it deserves it own number. O'Carrs motto is "eat by color". Everything is made fresh daily and is (mostly) healthy. The chicken salad is to die for an is a huge secret. No one knows what the ingredients are but many have tried to duplicate it unsuccessfully. The chicken salad and fruit plate appears to be by far the most popular dish (they sell over 2000 lbs of chicken salad weekly so they must be doing something right).This is my personal favorite. It includes a plate of chicken salad with a mix of crackers and a huge heaping of fruit. Were not just talking regular fruit here. This is fruit such as dates, kiwi, starfruit, bananas rolled in Cinnamon, pomegranate, grapefruit and dates, plus the other types of fruit most people love such a watermelon, strawberry, pineapple, and more. No plate is ever the same since they serve the fruit that is in season typically. Other options such as nut bread, turkey sandwich's, pannini's, fresh salads such as poached pear salad, and even cream cheese and crab dip. They are also known for their homemade desserts such as cheesecake with fresh whipped cream. I personally love the peanut butter milkshake which is to die for. Trust me, it is.

10. The people- Though Birmingham is a pretty large city it truly has a small town feel. People are very kind to one another and thats what adds to my love of this city. People greet one another walking by on the street and often ask strangers how they are doing. I have frequently gotten involved in long conversations with strangers working at stores or restaurants. I know many people who have (including myself) made good friends from just starting a conversation in a public place. I know this is pretty special and doesn't happen everywhere. It just feels good to be a place where others are happy and friendly, which is a reflection of this city.

So if you haven't been to Birmingham-- or already live here-- I hope this helps you to get an idea of why I love this city and feel that you should also, if you don't already. Come visit us-we'd love to show you around!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Adventures at Wally World

Believe it or not, prior to attending Auburn University at the age of 18, I didn't have much experience with Walmart. I can only recall maybe one time having been to Walmart growing up, perhaps this is because Atlanta has so many other options or because my parents were smart enough to know what I now realize now about Walmart.

Auburn University is located in the small college town of Auburn, Alabama. Though it has grown a lot since I graduated, when I lived and attended college there was not a lot of places to shop at. Auburn is/was very rural (*Bama and UGA fans insert cow joke here) though now that is quickly changing. So, often when I needed to go shopping, we went on down to the Walmart Supercenter. And what a Supercenter it was! It had everything you needed all in one place! Dog food, dishes, exercise equipment, food, shampoo, pots, pans, clothes, automotive supply, and they even have an arts and crafts section! At 18 I thought Walmart was a great place. Everything was cheaper at Walmart than anywhere else. Why shop elsewhere?!

Now, I am older and wiser. I see that though Walmart does carry a lot of great cheap items, it may be better to just spend a little more somewhere else. I mean, what other place has numerous emails of pictures taken of shoppers wearing crazy outfits? Is this a sign or what?

Perhaps my view of Walmart began to go downhill when I went to take my car to have an oil change and service there a few years back. After waiting double the time they estimated it would take I inquired about my car. The lady who worked there (her name was probably something like Laquonda) with fire engine red hair and nails so long they curled and a tattoo of her name on her chest (oh yes, it was Laquonda!) looked a little confused and asked me to hold on. Her manager Jerry (who was covered in tattoos as well and hadn't looked like he had showered in days) came out to inform me they had a little "mishaps" with my car and that it would need a new part which may take a few hours to get in. Well a few hours turned into oh wow, we really messed your car up and we have to take it to a mechanic in another city. Needless to say, it was gone for 3 days and had over $500 repair work on it which Walmart paid for. Did I get a rental car to use when I was carless you ask? No. Did I get reimbursed with some Walmart vouchers or coupons or even store credit? No. Did they even apologize? I don't think they did. Okay, so note to self DON'T use Walmarts' automotive services.

Did I continue to shop at Walmart? Yes, I know I'm an idiot. However, something in me changed the more I shopped there. I began to look around. Wow. There are some scary people who shop here. Hmmm, why can't their produce ever look decent enough to eat? I mean, really? I don't think I've ever actually seen a ripe piece of fruit or vegetable there out of the hundreds they have in store. Why do the lines that say 20 items or less always seem to have inconsiderate people with about 50 items? Why does everyone just leave their shopping cart in the parking lot for other cars to hit, be hit by, or not be able to park in? Why does it always look dirty at Walmart? Why are people so rude here? Hey, maybe this place isn't so great after all.

Though I may save a few dollars to shop at Walmart, I now feel it isn't worth it. I would rather spend more to go to Publix, where the produce is always fresh, the staff are always so friendly-there is very little turnover there with their staff and I think that must mean they are doing something right, plus it is always clean. Call me crazy or snobby or what you want, but I don't think its worth my time to go to Walmart anymore. Unless I want to get a good laugh every now and then.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ashley and Austin Wedding

This past Saturday was our good friends Austin and Ashley's wedding. Ashley is the friend who I recently went to the beach with for her bachelorette party. Their wedding was here in Birmingham at Aldridge Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful wedding, but it was hot!! We didn't let that bother us too much, as you will see. We had a blast and are so excited for Austin and Ashley! Now they are honeymooning in Negril, Jamaica at the same resort Matt and I were married. I'm so jealous!!

Matt and I

Maria and I
Mere and I

With the beautiful Bride

Leaving the reception

Friday, July 9, 2010

You are your friends

Lately I've been thinking a lot about friendships and what the true meaning of friendship is. Is it being there for someone when they need someone to talk to, or a shoulder to cry on, or someone you can confess your secrets to, or to be able to be honest with them when they've hurt your feelings, or just someone who can make you laugh? As you know, I work with a lot of adolescents, so most of my time is spent with teenagers who are in between being who they were as a child and becoming who they are going to be as an adult. I watch them often struggle with friendships and I can't help but to remember how difficult I felt it was being their age figuring out who I was, let alone who were my true friends. I remember the insecurity each day if a friend didn't say hey to me in the hallway and questioning whether I had done something to upset them or not.

As an adult I feel that in finding who I am and becoming secure with the person I am has enabled me to get a much better grasp on what a true friend is and someone who is not. I know that your friends are a direct reflection of yourself, as you are able to choose the friends that you surround yourself with. The truth is unfortunately we aren't able to pick our families (which thankfully I won the lottery with!) but we are able to chose our friends. I believe your friends are a mirror into who you think you are as a person and who you truly are as a person. My teens will always argue that just because you hang out with someone doesn't mean that you do what they do. Yeah, your right, I tell them. But why would you chose to spend time with people who do things that you don't believe is right or okay? Or treat you in ways that leave you feeling sad or hurt? I would certainly not hang around people who are negative influences on my life or behave in ways I do not believe is right. If I find myself feeling insecure around someone I realize they are not my friend. Instead, I chose to surround myself with beautiful, caring, compassionate, fun, and kind people who support me when I'm up or down. They aren't (or better not!) be afraid to tell me if I've hurt their feelings because I want them to hold me to high standards and know that I would never want to cause harm to them purposely. They pick up the phone when I need to talk and know at any time they can do the same. I know I can trust them when I tell them something that I don't want to be repeated. If I have a funny joke or need advice they are there. If I find myself doubting someone or disliking their behavior I should be able to talk to them. And if they are a true friend, then they will be honest in return. A friend is there through the good and the bad. None of us are perfect, so just being able to be accepted or to accept others despite their flaws is priceless. All these things and much more add up to what makes a true friendship. I believe that friends should bring out the best in one another, and when you feel truly comfortable to be yourself while also feeling at your best then you, my friend, have found true friendship.

What do your friends say about you?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Have you ever been driving down the road and singing a song and then go "what did they just say?" Not as if you didn't understand what the lyrics were, but that you couldn't believe they put that line in the song. Well, I do all the time. And I think there are too many funny lines to not share and discuss with you. Here are a few that I think are funny and often laugh about. Please take note that most of these are rap songs, big surprise there I know.

"She never smells like onion rings" -Is this a common problem for this rapper? Is he dating a lot of ladies who smell like fried fast food?

Oh and from the same song-

"...Pays her bills on schedule" -At this point I'm really starting to question this rappers standards for women.

"Your the whole package plus you pay your taxes" -I see a theme here with women not paying bills and taxes in the rapping world...

"Give me what cha got for a pork chop"- Sounds like hes robbing someone for a pork chop. Is he hungry? Someone give him some food!

"Its like Murder she wrote once I get you outta them clothes"- Is he going to murder her? What!? I think the fact that this is by R.Kelly who it notorious for inappropriate sexual acts makes it even more concerning.

"Girl don't turn around cause I'm in love with your back but if you just got to turn around I really hope your face match" --wow, that is so romantic! Just what a lady wants to hear.

"Ima have to blame it on a fifth like an alchy"

"Shawty I'ma only tell you this once your the illest... And for your lovin I'd die hard like Bruce Willis" -VERY romantic

"Toot it and Boot it"--enough said.

..."watch her leave out the window, guess that's why they call it window pane"--ummm Eminem. No, I'm pretty positive that is not why they call it a window pane.

Okay-So that is only a few of the many funny song lyrics. The problem here is that I honestly like most of these songs (minus Toot it and boot it), but I guess that's part of why they are so catchy! Can you think of any lyrics that are funny that I didn't mention?

Busy Busy Busy

We have been very busy lately, I feel like I have been on the go for awhile now and need to slow down. Which is exactly what I did yesterday after a busy and eventful few days. I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July and was able to spend it doing something they enjoy with people they enjoy.

Matt surprised me on Friday with tickets to see the movie Eclipse, which I'm sure you have heard of, unless you have been living under a rock the past year or two. Though I once laughed at the mostly tween audience of the Twilight Saga, I mistakenly (or not) borrowed the books from a good friend and immediately realized why this is such a huge obsession for many. It is good!! Forbidden love, love triangles, Sexy Vampires and werewolves, oh my! Though Matt is not as addicted as I am, he enjoyed the first two movies and loves me enough to know how much it meant to me to see the latest movie in the Trilogy, Eclipse. So after work on Friday we went to see the movie and later out to eat at Olive Garden, one of the finest Italian Restaurants in these parts. Ha ha, okay okay I know its not really "fine" or "authentic" Italian, but to me its fantastic and one of my favorite restaurants!

Saturday we cleaned house (yuck) and ran some errands. Later we went to our friend Shane and Andreas house to have a cookout and watch a UFC fight. UFC fighting is this no-rules fighting where fighters fight one another in an Octagon Ring and basically beat the crap out of one another until someone is knocked out unconscious and/or taps out because they are about to have a bone broken or die suffocating. Lovely, right? So here's my compromise to Matt for taking me to see Eclipse, I agree to go with him to watch this UFC fight. Of course, I'm not exactly a martyr because I did get to spend time with some of my good friends who were there also and eat some great food. We ended up having a great time though and luckily no bones were broken on the fights. Just a little blood shed on the ring. No biggie.

Sunday was the Fourth of July and we went to our good friend Amanda's parents' pool. You remember them right? I think I told you about going there for Memorial Day. Seems like every holiday in the summertime we head to their house, which is great because we always have a blast. We stayed at the pool all day, grilled out, and shot some fireworks later. It was a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate the holiday.

So that brings me back to yesterday and my all day couch-fest. Well, I must give myself some slack, I ran for 1 hour. And then literally sat. on. the. couch. all. day. Was in my pj's by 2pm. It was fantastic. Just what the doctor ordered.

Now its back to work, which I can't complain about because my job is fun and I try not to work too long. Hey, its a tough life but some body's gotta do it.