The rest of our trip was incredibly wonderful! We spent one more day with Matt's family before driving up north to visit friends. We even got to see a little bit of snow! I was absolutely freezing for most of our trip. After a tearful good -bye to our family, we drove up north and stayed with Matt's brother for the evening. It's funny/weird how similar those two are, sometimes they make the exact same face at the exact same time. The next morning, we left earlier and headed into Tuscaloosa to visit the University of Alabama. As an alumni, Matt loves strolling the campus and stopping by the student store to stock up on football merch for the next season. A big highlight of the day for me was stopping by the Starbucks on campus. Coffee shops are few and far between in the south (or at least all the areas we are visiting), so after a few days of gulping down Folger's and Splenda with Grandma, an Americano was quite the treat. I couldn't get over what a cute town Tuscaloosa is! Ivy covered brick buildings, outrageously large sorority homes and lots of cute shops & diners! College towns are the best.
After shamelessly over-shopping and stuffing our suitcases full of crimson colored paraphernalia, we headed back to Birmingham to meet up with Joey & Christen again. Hanging out with them is the best. They are both so fun, kind and hospitable; I wished we lived closer to each other! Like last time, we split up for a while and then all met up together for dinner. Christen and I went shopping for a while before taking a break over some Valentine's blend coffee and strawberry cupcakes. I love shopping with her! I don't know what it is, but with our power's combined we can do some serious damage. We met back up with the fellas for drinks, appetizers and a roaring night of trivia. We were doing pretty well until the third round and then we were a little in over our head so I resorted to heckling the emcee and watching women's tennis on the TV in the bar. (Let me tell you, watching the ball retrievers frantically scramble onto the court after a bad serve kept me entertained for about an hour. Hilarious.)
The next morning, we drove down to check out my mother in law's new house on the lake! It was incredibly gorgeous. High ceilings and hardwood floors flooded with sunlight in a big beautiful home surrounded by trees resting on the outskirts of a lake. Does it get much better than that? It does. They have a puppy named Rambo!
My favorite souvenir from our trip to the south is the big shoe box full of pictures of Matt that his mom gave me! There may or may not be a post coming up filled with pictures of Matt as a baby that no one else will care about except for me. Later that day, we drove out to Renae and Cory's house and hung out with their family. I got some quality time with my little man, Carter and got to try a little authentic, southern moonshine straight out of a mason jar. It burned all the way down but it tasted exactly like apple pie! The Aldridges always show us a great time!
To end the night, we joined our good friend Mike for dinner with his new lady. It's so encouraging to watch Matt spend time with all his best friends out there. I love being with people that appreciate and love this man also! In the morning, Matt had the opportunity to preach at the church he use to go to when he lived out there. I still can't get use to the southern tradition of Sunday morning class, a 9am gathering and an evening gathering, all with different messages! Matt was pretty wiped out at the end of the day. Later we went over to some friends house and played the card game Wizard over a pizza and a pitcher of sweet tea.
Whew, just recapping our trip makes me tired. It was an incredibly full week, but mentally, the trip was incredibly restful and life-giving to us. Riding in the car, winding through narrow roads lined with thin, wiry trees and wide open fields beats bumper to bumper traffic any day.
As usual, our visit went way too quickly and we wish we could spend more time with everyone!