Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Cards

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas!  I am still celebrating, but wanted to post our Christmas card pics now that I have given them out.  These cards got done last minute!  Russ and I went to downtown Chattanooga to meet up with my best friend and photographer, Erin Campbell of Erin Jessica Photography.  I love the pictures she does for us.  I'm so thankful she was able to squeeze us in last minute during the busy Holiday season.  I am hoping to get a copy of all the pictures she did and hopefully make some prints because I have no pictures on my walls.  We have been crazy busy ever since we got married (over 3 years ago) and I just haven't gotten around to it.  I'm hoping I can get our home looking more "put-together" soon.  

We decided to get fancy for this year's pictures.  Russ wears a suit to work everyday anyways, so when he got off of work, we headed straight to Chattanooga.  I had a Jessica Simpson coat that I had bought from Belk a few years back and also wore my new Christmas dress (which isn't visible in the pictures).  We lucked up and found a huge light display and it made my favorite picture of our silhouettes.   This area was actually where Russ proposed to me over four years ago.  It was very special to return and get our pictures made.  I felt so blessed standing next to Russ and remembering how far we have come in such a short time it seems.  God has done so much for us.  We are so grateful for the joy and peace He has brought to us and especially for sending His son, Jesus, down to this Earth to pay the price for our sins.  We could never thank Him enough!

Merry Christmas!

Russ and Christy 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MIA and Mr. Kitty

I have been MIA from the blog world lately, which stinks.  It has been so busy, but hopefully I am caught up now and can devote more time to my little blog.  You might think it is due to the Holiday Season, but no, it is due to a horrible Pharmacology final!  A final that was over everything we had learned and was worth half my grade. Yeah, no fun!  I didn't take my final until December 12th and then I had to play catch-up with Christmas.  Russ and I also took a trip to NYC right after Thanksgiving, which didn't really turn out the way we had expected... That will be saved for another post.  It is a long story!  

Anyways, to sum it all up, this Christmas has been a tough one so far.  Besides being in school, I have to work on Christmas this year.  And, although, I will be doing what I love, caring for sweet babies, it still makes me sad that I will be away from my family while they celebrate.  That is the life of the nurse, and I knew that when I was slaving away in nursing school.  It has also been hard because Russ and I are so busy and we don't live next door to everyone now.  I wish I could be around my family more and gas wasn't so expensive.  I am so thankful for my mamaw, but she gets so stressed around the holidays.  I wish she could enjoy them like she used too.  And while I am being "Debbie Downer" my precious "first-born" cat passed away unexpectedly on Saturday night.  I wish I could put into words how much that cat meant to not only me, but my family.  He was truly my best friend when I had none.  He helped me through so many difficult times growing up.  

I picked out Mr. Kitty when I was fifteen years old.  I asked my parents if I could stop by Petco real quick and, sure enough, the shelter had brought kittens outside of Petco that needed adopted.  All the kittens were pretty much normal kittens, and then there was my Mr. Kitty, hanging upside down in the cage.  He was the most handsome, cutest kitten I had ever laid eyes on.  He was the perfect orange and white, fluffy kitten (everything I had ever hoped for).  I ran up to mom and dad, who were still getting out of the car, and my mom says she knew right then I had found the one.  When I showed her to him and we talked about getting him, I remember the lady from the shelter being excited, but also telling mom about the fees and vaccines needed to adopt my prized kitten.  I was sad.  I knew there was no way my parents were going to spend money on a cat, when we had always gotten kittens for free in the past.  I think the fee was like $50, which was a lot of money to me at the time.  And then mom started signing the papers for him! I was on cloud nine!  I toted him all around Petco and told my daddy that we were getting him, and he just shook his head with a grin.  He had no idea that Mr. Kitty would become his best bud for the next nine years.

Mr. Kitty was actually named Miss Kitty for a few months.  I thought he was a boy, but the vet said he was a girl, until it was time to get him fixed.  The vet said something about getting him neutered and we said, "But isn't it a girl?!"  So Miss Kitty became Mr. Kitty!  He even ended up having a dark yellow patch of fur above his lip just like a mustache to prove his point!  

Mr. Kitty would sleep with me every night.  He trained himself to go outside to "use the bathroom."  He would go to the door and pick the carpet when he wanted out and then come back to the window on the front porch and pick the screen when he wanted in.  (Which wasn't good for the house, but showed just how smart Mr. Kitty was).  He was so spoiled and wouldn't even walk to his food bowl without my mom walking him to it.  Whenever my dad was sleeping on the recliner, he would go lay in between his legs on the footrest.  As a kitten, he used to play hide and seek with me.  He would jump in the air on his back legs to say he found me.   He even jumped up one time and accidentally busted my brother's lip! It was crazy!  Mr. Kitty was there for me when I felt all alone.  If I was crying, he would come lay down beside me and comfort me.  Even on my last night at home before my wedding day, he came and slept beside me the whole night, knowing something was about to change.  He was the smartest, best pet I have ever known.  When I left home, Mr. Kitty stayed with my parents, taking my spot as the baby of the family.  My heart hurts not only for myself, but for them.  I hate that no one is there to keep them company and give them their love like he did.  

Saturday, my parents, brother, and sister-in-law came into town to watch a Christmas play at UT.  We had a really great time together.  That night when my parents got home they found Mr. Kitty in severe pain.  He had a blood clot that had paralyzed his lower half.  My mom gave me the call in the middle of the night.  I will never forget his cries.  They took him to an emergency vet, with no hope given.  

I don't understand why my precious cat had to die this way.  I also don't understand why it had to happen before Christmas or why it couldn't have happened a day later, so I could have seen him one last time.  I feel like my mom needs him right now more than ever.  And although I don't understand any of it, I trust that God has a plan.  I trust that everything will be okay and God will take care of us as we grieve losing him.  I know he was just a cat, but in many ways he was so much more.  He was our best friend and I would give anything to have him back with us.  

Mr. Kitty, I hope you know much we all loved you and what a difference you made in our lives.  I will never find another like you.  I know with all of my heart that God made you just for me.  I will never forget you.  Your soft fur and warm embrace meant more to me than you'll ever know.  

I know this post is pretty sad, especially before Christmas, but I promise future ones will be more upbeat.  In fact, I actually had one of the best days today.  I just felt like I needed to get this off my chest before I could move on to happier posts.  



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Decisions and Updates

The weeks are flying by and it will be Christmas before we know it.  I am excited to almost be done with this semester.  I am so ready for a break and to be done with school at least for a little bit.  I have decided not to continue to a master's program after graduation.  Russ got his classes lined up for law school last week and everything became really real for us.  It is going to be hard work for him to work full-time and go to law school full-time.  I just don't feel like I need to go to school and work as well.  I have been in school a long time and am really ready to start living again.  I want to decorate, try new recipes, grow in my job as a NICU nurse, volunteer, and make friends.  And I plan to blog about all of it.  I can't wait to see my little blog grow and be able to spend more time on here.  It was scary to make the decision to not continue on to grad school (at least right now) as weird as that sounds.  It was scary to give up that control and be content.  However, it allowed me to really start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life and it is amazing to already see what God is working on.  It shows that I made the right decision and I couldn't be happier.  I am so thankful for His blessings.  

This past week was nice.  I got to spend time with my mom and Mamaw getting a pedicure.  I love that my Mamaw is still able to go with us to get our toes done.  We had brunch at Cracker Barrel and then headed to Target and Kohls real quick.  After that we had our pedicures and it was heaven.  I hadn't had my toes done in forever and my tootsies were definitely in need of some lovin.  When they finished my Mamaw's toes, she decided she wanted her fingernails painted too!  She always ends up messing them up before we get to the car, but it makes her feel special, so that's all that matters. 

I spent a lot of time with my sweet furry animals this past week.  I even let Bella in the house.  She is an outside dog due to her nervous bladder, but she was good this time and my floors stayed dry.  

On Sunday, Russ and I went to our old church.  It is so nice to see those sweet people, especially our precious Abby.  I love that little girl.  Russ melts my heart with her and makes me look forward to him being a daddy someday.  He will be the best!  After church we headed to my Mamaw's house for lunch with family.

I love my family so much and this didn't even capture the kitchen full of people.  Sunday lunch at Mamaw's is the best!  When lunch was done we headed to my parent's house to put together shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  It is tradition to watch Homeward Bound before Thanksgiving with mom.  We have done it for most of my life.  I think it is because at the end of the movie they are having Thanksgiving dinner.  I love this movie and it reminds me of special times with my mom.  So, we put together shoeboxes and watched our movie.  It was fun!

Mr. Kitty helped! 

We headed back to Knoxville and got ready to go to the Lady Vols game.  Russ got free tickets from his work and we had the best seats.  I love going to the UT games and cheering on the Vols!

I loved spending time with my family and my love! 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Don't Worry, But Have Faith

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Today I am having a lot of trouble with worrying.  I felt like I had gotten better with not worrying so much, but it is so hard sometimes.  I think I wish God could directly tell me every little step to take.  I know God is with us and as long as we are trying to make the best decision possible then He will take care of the rest.  It just gets hard sometimes because I wish He could just tell me what to do.  I have been doing a lot of praying lately about what path to take next.  I'm getting so burnt out on school.  I'm so ready to have a life again.  I want to spend time with friends and family.  I'm ready for Russ and I to get to our next phase of life.  I know I'm only twenty-four and when I say that out loud it does sound young.  However, I have been in college since I was 18!  I took some breaks here and there, but have been pretty busy with school for a long time.  (And you have to remember Russ and I have been together since we were 16 and married since 21.  We aren't the typical 24 year old couple). I'm ready to get more involved in church and just have life more easy-going.  The truth is, as a NICU nurse, I truly LOVE my job.  I just always had this goal of being a family nurse practitioner, though, so it has made me confused.  I have fear of failing myself, my family, and most of all God.  I want to be all He wants me to be.  It is so weird because with Russ, we knew for sure that he was supposed to go to law school.  We also know without a doubt that we are supposed to pay cash for school.  God has made a way for all of that to happen.  Today, we found out that we are going to have to pay for more than we thought, but with God's help, we will still be able to pay cash for his law school.  My path, however, is just so unclear.  I've got so many different ideas of what to do.  That is the great and confusing thing with nursing;  There are so many options that for someone as indecisive as me it can be difficult.  There's a part of me that is okay with being a NICU nurse, supporting Russ as he goes through school, and hopefully become a better blogger. ;) Then there is a part of me that can't be content with that.  I want to continually move on to what, maybe I think, are bigger and brighter things, when in reality the grass isn't always greener on the other side.  I've thought about going to school for nurse educator or nurse practitioner.  I've thought about doing lactation specialist, since I work in the NICU already.  I have looked at working full-time, part-time, PRN, going to online programs, traditional nursing programs, full and part-time programs, etc... (My work will pay for school, but I have to work part-time or full-time, not PRN).  I really do not want to be stressed out anymore.  I am just praying that God will help Russ and I make the best decision for our family and that decision will make God proud.  I want Him to use us, and I know He will make everything okay. I hope to have a job where I can be at home the majority of time when we have kiddos someday.  I know that is very important to Russ and myself, and I also know that God will work out all of the details.  I just need to trust Him.

"Never will you find a friend so kind and true. Take it to the Lord in prayer."



Monday, October 28, 2013

Best Anniversary Date Ever with Michael Buble

Wow!  This past week was one of the best weeks EVER!  Seriously!  It is one of those where you replay it in your head over and over again.   Honestly, I wish I could have a rewind button to do it all over again.  So, Wednesday Russ and I headed to Nashville to see Michael Buble in concert.  We almost decided not to go, since we will be going to New York City next month, but at the last minute decided that it was a good excuse to celebrate our third anniversary.  This anniversary and year of marriage has been by far the best and it was definitely worth celebrating in a big way.  When we finally decided to go, all the reasonably priced tickets had been taken, and we were left with the choice of the expensive tickets on the floor in the back of the arena or cheap tickets in the nose-bleed section.  Michael Buble is my absolute favorite singer and Russ loves him too, so we finally just decided to bite the bullet and fork out the mulah for the floor seats.  We went to see Michael Buble when we were only 17 before he was really popular.  It was my first "real" concert and we had the best time.  We were just a few rows away from the front of the stage and I could still swear to you Michael stared at me the whole time (we are on a first name basis now... I might even start calling him Mike! haha).  At the time I thought I was way too young for him, but now seeing that his wife is practically my same age, I know Michael was for sure crushing on me. ;) Looking back now, I have no idea why I even hesitated about buying tickets for this concert. It was the third and, hands down, the best of the three.  

We were so excited! Russ took off work until Monday, so this was like a mini-vacation.

First stop was at the Opry Mills Mall and we were starving so, of course, we went to The Rainforest Cafe.  I could blame it on being the first restaurant as we entered the door, but actually it was totally planned.  I always go to the Rainforest Cafe when I go to Disney World (its tradition) so since I am having "Disney Withdrawals" (it is a real disease for me) my hubby planned for us to eat here.  He knows me so well!  We had fun and shared the steak and shrimp. 

Then we went shopping!  I scored a beautiful scarf from the JCrew Factory, which I actually wore to the concert that night.  We got a few other things and then headed over to our hotel to check in.

Just look how happy he is! He is practically skipping back to the car after checking in!
We stayed at the Sheraton Music City Hotel.  It was beautiful and, most importantly, very clean.  They were actually checking our room when we walked in to make sure it was up to standards.  The bed was comfortable and the hotel was close to everything.  

top: Pleione Mixed Media Roll Sleeve Top from Nordstrom (This top is a MUST HAVE shirt according to Pinterest Told Me To and I totally agree with her!)
Scarf: Jcrew Factory
Jeans: Loft
Watch: Michael Kors
Shoes: Nurture (old)

After freshing up at the hotel we went and did some more shopping at the Green Hills Mall and then headed over for some dinner near the Bridgestone Arena where the concert was at.  We ate at Demo's Restaurant. It is a little italian place within walking distance to the arena and it was absolutely delicious.  Russ could not have picked a better place to eat.  The atmosphere and pricing were great as well!  Plus, there was no wait! However, right after we sat down, the people started pouring in and the wait quickly became an hour long.  That is just another reason why our Nashville trip was the best!  I loved it when the waiter told us that everyone else in the restaurant was there to see Michael Buble too.  It just made me that much more excited to see him.

When we got in the arena, we kept showing our tickets to the people who are supposed to show you where to sit and they kept saying, "Oh! The B Stage!"  I had no idea what that meant and just chalked it up to meaning that they were impressed we were on the floor.  But to our surprise, there was a tiny stage all around our seats and the sound/video guys were behind us.  It still took it a little bit to register until I realized that Michael Buble would be on that stage at some point.  I seriously had to go pee multiple times before the show started because I was so excited!

The view from our seats.  (The lighting made my pictures purplish pink.)

Naturally Seven warming up for Michael! They warmed up for him at the other two concerts as well. They are amazing!

Before he came out on stage.

I could listen to him everyday! But actually I already do! 

And then it was all a blur... After he got up close I totally freaked out.  I never thought I would be one of those girls (the crying, screaming, jumping, holding their hands up kind of concert girls), but I was and it was the best!

And then THIS happened! Mr. Buble held my hand!  Not a slap, but held my hand and sang to me! What song... I couldn't tell ya... I think I went into shock a little that he was staring at me.  I still can't believe it and didn't wash my hand until later the next day (and that was accidental!).  

After he sang, the hearts started falling and I was totally mushy for my sweet husband who talked me into buying tickets to see our favorite singer.  I love him so much and even though I joke around about loving me some Michael Buble, I love me some Russ Swafford 100 times more!

The rest of the week was filled with birthday celebrations for my wonderful Madre and spending time with family.  It was a wonderful week. 



Sunday, October 27, 2013

God is good

God is so good.  I am so blessed and thankful for all He has given me.  Russ and I spent the day at home today in Knoxville.  I miss my family and being at my Mamaw's for lunch, but it is so nice when it is just the two of us enjoying the home we have made together.  

We have found a church that I think we are ready to call home, which means no more visiting other churches.  Yay!  We are excited to get involved and find other christian couples who share our love for the Lord.  After church, we went by Starbucks and I got a Pumpkin Spice Latte before going by the store real quick.  I had my PSL drank before we even got out! Yum!  For brunch, I made biscuits, homestyle gravy, chocolate gravy (Russ' fav from his Gig), peas (random but I was craving them), fried chicken, and eggs sunny-side-up.  It hit the spot!  I got to talk to my best friend, Ashley, in Hawaii, and Russ worked outside on the deck.  We went to use some coupons in Ulta and The Yankee Candle Store then ate at Abuelo's for dinner.  I love days like this with my love at our home sweet home.



Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Harvest Festivities

I LOVE Fall Harvest!  I am not sure when I actually started loving the Fall time or when I started calling it "Fall Harvest" but have been obsessed with it for many years now.  I can't wait to get out the pumpkin scented candles, buy a Pumpkin Spice Latte, wear cozy sweaters, and all those Fall Harvest traditions.  Plus, it reminds me that Christmas is coming soon! And between you and me, I have been listening to Christmas music since the end of September haha!  I reserve it for only when I'm in the saddest of moods (aka doing homework).  It just puts me in a good mood and with the majority of my Christmas music being Michael Buble, who wouldn't get in a good mood?!  Speaking of that, Russ and I are going to see him in concert in Nashville next week for a late anniversary gift.  We have been listening to him since he first started becoming famous.  We have been to two of his concerts and absolutely LOVE his shows!  It is worth every penny!  With Russ' love for Frank Sinatra and my love, for well, Michael, it makes for one happy couple!  I can't wait!  

We have been crazy busy in The Swafford household lately.  And as always I haven't gotten to blog like I would have liked to, so I guess I will just go through what all we have been up to.

Russ turned the BIG 25 last month!  He has accomplished so much at such a young age and I couldn't be prouder of the man he has become.  His mom has a birthday close to his so they shared a birthday cake at their Sunday birthday lunch at Gigs (Russ' grandmother).

On the same day we went to watch Beauty and the Beast at the Tivoli Theater in Chattanooga with my family for my sister-in-law's birthday, which is also in September.  We both are crazy about Beauty and the Beast and I think we secretly both wish we could work at Disney as Belle.  It was an interesting show! There were parts that I don't think I would want my child to see haha but it was still fun to watch!  

I'm not sure why this picture turned purple, but it is still pretty.  "Belle" did a great job!

I went to Kentucky to visit Frontier University and Wendover Big House for a clinical for school.  It was a beautiful day in the Kentucky mountains, but ended with everyone catching the stomach bug! Yuck!

After going through three pairs of dress shoes, Russ finally found some he liked enough to keep!  And thank goodness because our cat Bentley fell in love with the shoebox they came in.  He is way too big for the box, but somehow squeezes in.  He has been obsessed with this box now for almost a month.  It sits in our living room floor and gets in it all the time.  It is too cute for words!

I woke up to these beauties on our three year anniversary! Russ is so thoughtful and sweet.  

That day we went and saw Russ' Pap for the last time.  He had not been doing well and we knew he wouldn't make it much longer.  Everyone says Russ is just like him.  I guess you can say I never got to meet the "real" Pap due to him having a stroke during a surgery for his Parkinson's years before Russ and I got together.  He was a hardworking, faithful, Godly man.  I am proud of the example he set for his family and he will be greatly missed.  Him and Gig had just celebrated their anniversary the day after ours.  They had been together 53 years!  I hope Russ and I have a lifetime of happiness like they did.

After such a sad week of deaths and sickness (Freddie from my hometown church and neighbor to my mamaw passed unexpectedly, as well.  Plus, my uncle Jimmy had a heart attack, which required a quadruple bypass), we visited family and went to celebrate Luke and Liam's first birthday party!  I can't believe they are one already.  I can remember Laura wanting a baby so badly and not being able to get pregnant.  We used to work together and I would pray that she would get pregnant.  I can still remember the day that she told me she was expecting twins!  They are so cute and I was so happy to get to see my old friends.

I also got to see sweet baby Hadley!! Oh how happy I am to see the miracles performed in that baby.  I am amazed at God's grace.  I love this picture of all of us.  Brooke on the left used to be my manager and is now a nurse on a labor and delivery floor.  We are all around babies one way or another! 

We also went to see my little cousin Zayne, who is five, play football.  They were so cute and there are so many memories from cheering on that field growing up.  All my family came out and supported him and he loved the attention.  

I visited with my Mr. Kitty (my first born).  I miss this cat so much!  I think he has become my replacement at my parents' house.  He is spoiled rotten for sure!

We also went to my Granny's and celebrated my dad's birthday.  

And this weekend we are staying in Knoxville, because our gas bill just can't handle anymore trips going "home."  Today was the BIG UT game and Russ works all the home games.  He couldn't get me in today so I got to stay home and watch the game on our tiny TV, while he was out meeting celebs and watching the game from the Chancellor's Box.  Lucky!  -Yes, that is Martin from Duck Dynasty.  We love the wholesome values the show has and usually watch it every week.  I am so happy Russ got to meet someone from the show.   Russ even left the game early to watch the ending with me on our tiny TV and to our surprise, WE WON!! WOO HOO! GO VOLS! It is so much fun living in Rocky Top Tennessee!