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Well ok, I’m not really sure how true that statement is… or how fair that really is to the other months… but it is my birthday month!

July flew by.  And I do mean that.  We started out July in Georgia celebrating the 4th and experiencing IKEA for the first time.  What an experience.  The next week we house sat, got our new dining room table that we love, and then my brother and his band came down to play at a showcase.  It was so great seeing him, even if only for a short visit.  We enjoyed delicious Papa John’s pizza (the best!) and some intense games of Yahtzee and Jenga.

The next weekend we got to celebrate our friends Phil and Michelle at their wedding in Indy.  It was beautiful.  And then came my birthday.  Hold on while I start another paragraph, because it deserves it’s own…

Ashley's Birthday 1

Ashley's Birthday 2

Ashley's Birthday 3

Ashley's Birthday 4

Thank you, thank you, thank you for an incredible birthday.  To my friends and family and my darling husband, you all are wonderful.  I will never forget this birthday.  It was amazing.  Thank you.

Then we ended the month up in Illinois, going to see S.H.A.R.C play at a concert they organized, Sold Out for Christ.  It was a whirlwind of a weekend, just like the entire month, but it was an enjoyable busy.

We are so thankful that we got to see so many over the summer.  It makes all the crazy busyness of managing our schedules and traveling and lack of sleep worth it.  It’s hard to believe August is practically over – – it makes this summer seem like it happened so long ago.  But we feel truly blessed to be able to have lived the summer we did, have so many wonderful people in our lives and actually get to see a few of you, to celebrate new lives (wedding) and an “old” one (my birthday), and to have the ability now to welcome so many of you into our home.  We have a spare bedroom that is vacant most of the time, aside from Jeff’s work hours when it serves as an office, and a table with six empty seats.  So get your names on our reservation list and come see us!!!

*Thanks to Joe Gomez Photo for the birthday photos!

Welp, August is hot.  What’s new.  The mild July only teased us into thinking that maybe this August would be different than the rest.  Such a tease.  Granted, it’s not as hot as August 2007, but it’s still hot. 

Big BangWe did have a great visit from Josh and Caroline Cody the first weekend in August, as they were making their way from Georgia to Portland, Oregon.  What a fun couple!  We enjoyed Jeff’s delicious BBQ chicken dinner and great conversations, we showed them downtown Nashville, and we finished that Friday night at Big Bang, a dueling piano bar with a splash of comedy.  I seem to forget how awesome that place is.  I love hearing good piano (obviously, I am a pianist), and these entertainers are so talented.  And I love Journey, as well as many of the popular songs from the 70s and 80s (not ashamed!).  Well ok, maybe I don’t love them all, but they are great to sing along to at the top of your lungs.  But anyway, Big Bang never fails to play Journey.  And my favorite Big Bang entertainer, Geoff Smith, made an appearance again.  Why is he my favorite?  Well, he’s entertaining, but he also sings, yes sings, the guitar solo to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”  Jeff put my request in on a napkin with only a one-dollar bill (most people were putting requests in with fives and tens), and they played it not five minutes later!  I left one happy customer, and I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all.

Pancake PantryOn Saturday Josh and Caroline helped fulfill a dream of Jeff’s by allowing us to take them to The Pancake Pantry before they hit the road.  We got to Hillsboro Village around 10:30 a.m., but unfortunately didn’t get to a table until almost noon (no surprise here).  However, everyone seemed pleased with their food choices.  And ironically, as we walked out, there was a line of maybe ten people.  Our recommendation:  do breakfast for lunch and save yourself some time out in the hot sun! 

But other than that, August hasn’t been the greatest of months.  The next weekend Jeff headed to Georgia for a short work trip.  While he was gone, I was nursing a sore back.  Still not really sure how that all started.  That Saturday I decided stepping on a bee would be completely cool, and by the time Jeff got home Saturday afternoon, my foot was a bit swollen and a tad itchy.  However, that did not stop us from hitting up the Apple Store during tax-free weekend and getting a MacBook Pro for the working man (I also have privileges to it, too, to create awesome cool videos for you guys to watch like the one found here!).  By the time we got home after walking and standing in line for hours, the foot was a bit sore.  But that was nothing compared to how it would be in the coming days.

Sunday I stayed home from church to rest the back and elevate the foot.  By then I was also fighting what I thought was a cold, but Jeff was convinced it was the flu.  Come to find out, it was just that stupid bee sting.  It appears I’m growing allergic to the fuzzy evil things.  Monday the foot was even worse, but staying home yet again and religiously soaking my foot in Epsom salt, taking Benadryl and ibuprofen, and occasionally using a baking soda paste to calm the itch and soak out the poison (does it really do that?) seemed to make a world of difference.  I headed back to work on Tuesday, still a bit swollen and with some awful bruising, but it only took another day for me to be able to walk normal.  Each day after, the evidence of my traumatic weekend became less and less.  And the good news?  All that time spent with my foot up healed my back!  But we also fear that Jeff is becoming a victim of allergies, thank you very much Nashville.  So I’ve been pumping him full of Benadryl, too.  I think we have succesfully kept them in business over the past week.

So now it’s a new week, and we’re both practically healthy now!  Jeff is loving his MacBook Pro (and I am, too!).  We are merely weeks away from our Labor Day weekend trip to New York City (get excited!).  And we start ballroom dancing lessons this week.  Oh, and my parents are coming down this weekend!  So hopefully our upcoming blogs will have more exciting things to blog about then bee stings, sore backs and allergies.  However, I’m sure there’s a few of you Mac fans out there that are cheering Jeff because of that good news!

I actually have many more than 26 thank-yous to say, but seeing as I can’t even count them, I picked 26 since that’s what this has to do with – – my 26th birthday.

Many of you followed the exciting day of July 21st on this blog in a post written by Jeff about my birthday.  He clued you in throughout the day on all the little things he had me do.  There was a scavenger hunt of cards and secret blogs with videos of him singing songs he’s written for me over the years.  There were questions with answers that eluded to the day’s events and my gift(s).  And there were sweet, sweet words from some of the dearest people in my life, all of them speaking to something about me that they love.  This, this was hard to sit through.  I am not one to enjoy the center of attention, unless I am performing, and so it was very hard to allow Jeff to share with me, in front of friends, all the kind words many of you spoke.  That’s where the first of many thank-yous comes in.

Thank you.

So the answers to the questions.  Well, here you go:

Question 1:  Who is Ren McCormick? Answer:  Kevin Bacon’s character in Footloose.

Question 2:  What movies did Peter Chelsom direct (looking for specific movie)?  Answer:  Shall We Dance?

Question 3:  Who was Harry Fox, and what did he invent?  Answer:  Fox trot.

So, what do these answers speak to you?  To me, I thought it was a night of dancing, and I was right about one thing…  dancing.  But they really eluded to my gift, not what we were doing that night.  And what was my gift, you ask? Well, it was ballroom dancing lessons!  Yes, the Goinses will be taking up ballroom.  What some of you may not know is that we spent a summer learning how to swing dance, and we loved it.  We’re quite rusty these days, but we’ve talked about taking ballroom lessons from time to time, so I am so excited that Jeff got lessons for my birthday.  We’re starting up next week!

The cards he gave me throughout the day also had clues in them.  The clues eluded to Buca di Beppo, an amazing Italian restaurant with family-style dining.  After work, I was to meet Jeff at a coffee shop, and then we were going to head to Buca.  But what actually happened was, I went to the coffee shop, drank my carmel cappuccino alone, and then met him at Buca.  When he arrived, we walked in together, only for him to turn us around and walk us right back out the door.  Confused, I followed him into the car I drove, he pulled out of the stall, and pulled right back into another just a few stalls down.  It was the curbside-to-go one.  I figured at this point we were eating at home, which was fine.  Jeff usually does the place up nice with candles and good music when he makes a special dinner at home.  I was alarmed, though, when the waiter came out with $70 worth of food, but Jeff brushed it off, saying he just ordered big portions for leftovers.  Seeing as we have actually done this before at another favorite, Maggiano’s, I totally bought it.

However, when we walked into the nicely decorated apartment, we were not alone.  Jeff had asked six dear friends of ours to join us.  It was great.  We sat around our new table, using it to its fullest potential for the first time, enjoyed some amazing food, and Jeff shared with everyone all those kind words I was thanking you for before (thanks again!).  Then we sat around the floor playing an intense game of Cranium, which somehow Jeff and I won.  And since I’ve decided to leave you with some footage from the evening, I will take this time to thank each and everyone of you for helping celebrate with me.  Whether you said “Happy Birthday!” on facebook, gave me a call, sent me card, ate dinner with me, or helped Jeff in his schemes on that Tuesday, you are all very much appreciated and very dear to me.  Thank you for being a part of my life!  And thank you to my sweet, thoughtful, very lovable red head of a husband for pulling out all the stops on my birthday.  Jeff, you have always been great at surprises, and this was no exception.  Thank you for knowing me so well and, once again, giving me an incredible birthday!