Friday, June 29, 2007

Then Some Mornings you Wake Up with a Meat Mallet in your Bed

Having a child makes your life so much funnier. I am not sure you can totally appreciate the humor of other people's children. Or maybe it takes having them to understand the innocence that makes them so inherently hilarious. I just know that before I had kids, I produced many a fake smile at the story of Little Tommy who said "poo poo" in front of special dinner guests, or Little Sally who threw away Daddy's important papers just because she was trying to help Mommy "Clwean Up!" Cute stories, sure, but certainly not enough to make me laugh out loud like their parents were. Now here I am, expecting all of you to think Pace is as funny as I do. If you don't, I suppose it's OK. There is just something too hard to pass up about telling your own child's funny stories.

This first picture was taken over a month ago now. I think you can see that Pace is fully clothed, shoes and all, and standing in the bath tub. I was on the phone and trying to fill the tub up for her bath. She was reaching her fingers out just as far as she could to try and splash herself with water. At some point her equilibrium was stretched past its limit and she went head first into the bath tub! Thank goodness I was sitting right there. She could have broken her neck, or passed out from hitting her head and drowned, or just been so surprised by the fall that she sucked up a lot of water and then drowned....Thankfully, she just scared herself enough to never (at least so far) try to reach down into the tub again. I couldn't resist getting a picture of my little drowned rat.

The second picture happened on a day when Pace was eating her lunch a bit too quietly to suit my taste. I went in to check on her, to find that she had reached up onto the breakfast table beside her, pulled down the brand new package of shredded cheese, and done some combination of eating handfuls and scattering it over herself and the floor like rice at a wedding. There was no poopy diaper for a good day or two after this little incident :)

A few weeks ago, I was having one of those "beyond any realm of normal tiredness because I am growing a life form" mornings. Pace bounced out of bed at 6:30, and I tried to bring her in bed with me. Maybe she'll snuggle quietly, I thought. WRONG. So, though I am not proud of it, I eased her onto the floor and asked her where her baby was. Ten more minutes is all I need, I thought. I'll just stay kind of half awake and I'll still hear if anything bad is happening. Thankfully nothing bad did happen, but Pace did bring me a continuous string of items for my approval. "Book!", "Baby," "Elephant," "Elmo,".... If I repeated the word back to her and followed it with a mumbled "Good girl," it seemed to keep her pretty satisfied. After 20 minutes of this bizarre game, I had been forced into a wakeful state that I could no longer deny. Later that morning, I went to make up our bed and found a meat mallet, lying in the sheets with a big red ribbon tied around it! For a moment I was horribly confused, and then I recognized it as a gift that Lauren had given me after I had borrowed her meat mallet on a couple of different occasions. It must have been one of Pace's little love offerings from the morning, that I had inadvertently laid beside me in the bed. It's days like this I am thankful we don't have a maid! Imagine what kind of kinky bedroom life she would have imagined we lead :)

Then there are all the things she says, that you really need to be able to hear her little voice saying them to get the full effect. Just imagine Pace, with her attempts at perfect pronunciation and exaggerated mouth movements as she forms each word saying things like:

Pace, where does Aunt Alex live?: "Aunt Alex?...Nashaville!"

What about Uncle Josh, where does he live?: "Uncle Josh?... York!"

Last night Jeremiah was gulping down water, post work-out, as he held Pace. About half of the water made it in his mouth, and the other half was on Pace and his shirt.: "Shoot, Daddy! Shoot!"

Pace, where's Daddy?: "Daddy work...hopital."

What do we learn about at church?: "Bible!" and whose the Bible about, "JESUS!"

Where's Bebe?: "Home." Where's home?: "Dofin."

Love you, Pace: "Love you, Mommy" (Oh, there is something crazy wonderful about the fact that she can tag your name on after she says "Love you")

Then there's cautious Pace, who approaches all "dangers" very slowly and expects those around her to do the same. Her friend Natalie has a much more adventurous spirit, and when they swing together on the tire swing sometimes Natalie likes to hold on with only ONE hand or maybe even stand up.: "No, no Natalie. Stop it! Stop it, Natalie."

One final thing I'll mention is Pace's new obsession with her babies. Nobody has taught her how to play "mommy," but it is mesmerizing for me to watch her act out things that I've done for her. She says she's "cookin" as she stirs an empty bowl with a "poon". She pushes her babies around in a stroller, but she never forgets to hang her purse on the handle and tuck a bottle away into her purse for the "baby snack." The babies go "night, night," have a "rash," need a "diaper" change, get to "eat dinner" out of what she's been "cookin," have a "spankin" when they've been bad, and most often get brought to me because "baby's cryin'!" There is something so beautiful about seeing her kiss and love her own little babies...right down to tucking their blankie around them so they can go "night, night."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Maddox Family Does the ZOO!

We have had such an incredible morning! Jeremiah is on call today, but now, since he gets to take "home" call, we have a little freedom to still hang out on these dreaded call days. So, this morning Jeremiah suggested that we all go to the zoo. I was elated! I have been trying to find a time for us to all go together for ages, but it never seems to work out. This morning, however, we made it happen, and the Lord kept any little children from breaking their arms until after we were wrapping up lunch :) (for those who don't know, Jeremiah is on call at Children's Hospital right now). I would also like to say that, hopefully, this blog is going to be a lot more pictures and a lot less typing...which I know that many of you (especially SB) will be thankful for, for a change.

By 10:00 we were entering the gates of the Birmingham Zoo. Getting a family, year-long membership pass was some of the best advice I have ever taken. My friends Lauren and Ashley suggested that I throw out my chincey-ness and fork over the money. Not only do you have unlimited access to a beautiful zoo tucked away in the middle of Mountain Brook, but you can also feel like you are supporting a worthy cause. Besides that, it gives me the freedom to really have fun and not think, "Wow, I just paid $20 to get in here, so we better spend the WHOLE day and get everything we can out of this money." Instead, Pace and I can breeze in, look at just the Lorikeets and leave if we want to. I love that freedom.

We saw the snakes, the flamingos, the alligators, the monkeys, the elephant, the giraffes (including the 2 babies!), the tiger, the sea lions, the zebras, and much much more. I honestly had more fun watching Jeremiah than Pace on this trip! I've already seen her wide-eyed reaction to all of God's crazy creations but Jeremiah's wonderment even rivaled hers. You see, I wondered if I was the only parent who felt like they enjoyed the zoo even more than their child did. After 30 seconds in the snake house with Jeremiah, I knew I wasn't the only one :) He wanted to read every sign and kept going back to take one more look at the giant Anaconda. He saw me giggling at him and asked what I was laughing at. I told him I was just happy to see him enjoy it as much as I did.
The zoo is big, and we didn't see everything, but that's OK, because we've got those year-round passes. We ended the day by splurging on lunch at the snack shop and watching Pace play in the water-park area. She has done it once before, and I will say that to a little girl of her size it could be pretty intimidating. Big kids racing back and forth through water that surprises you by gushing skyward out of little holes in the ground. At first, I walked her up to the play area, and she wouldn't even touch the water, much less let me put her down. I decided to let her just watch for a few minutes and then try again. Daddy took her the second time, and she found her confidence with him standing beside her. He sat down on the ground at the edge of the water area, and she would run in, laugh hysterically as she got sprayed by a couple of jets and then run out straight into his arms. Sometimes, she would just hug him, but usually he got a kiss too. It was just about the cutest thing I'd ever seen. So, enjoy these precious pictures.

I got so tickled at these last couple of pictures. I took her swimsuit off because I was trying to get her ready to go home, and she begged to go in the water one more time. I let her run out in her swim diaper, but I didn't notice she had a pretty severe wedgie. This picture doesn't do it justice, but there was one cute little hinney running through the water :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I May Not Have Been Blogging but I HAVE Been Reading

If you aren't a reader, then you are going to want to skip this post altogether. I, however, have grown from a person who loves to read to a voracious reader who can't seem to feed my hunger enough. I read on the elliptical, at night while Jeremiah studies, while I eat lunch, while Pace plays in the backyard (I am sitting out there with her :)). I sometimes even devote an entire hour of Pace's precious nap time to a book that I simply can't put down. Let's just say that I never allow my life to have a dull moment, because there is always another book out there just waiting to become my friend.

The biggest dream I have for our home one day is for it to have a beautiful library, filled with antiqued copies of books that have sprinkled some amount of impression on my heart. Dark wood, deep window seats filled with pillows, overstuffed leather couches with throw blankets draped over their arms, book shelves that stretch from floor to ceiling, a big fire place, windows that look out over the countryside, and (most importantly) a ladder clinging to the bookcases that slides around the entire room. Ohhh, how I want to go there right now!

I decided that if I'm going to fill a whole library with books I've read, then I better get reading AND collecting these antique books slowly over time. I have already seen how quickly my mind forgets some of the dear friends it's met on its journey through a book's pages, so I want to keep track of a short summary of each.... I want to have a way to jog my memory when Pace asks me, one day, whether this book or that is a good one. So, one of the things I am going to try to do is keep a record here. These are the books I've read since (I just looked back at the last blog entry) the first of March, when I told you about the secret garden. Hopefully, you may find one or two that you'd like to try yourself :)

Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens: Jeremiah gave me a set of antique Dickens books for Christmas this year. I decided I needed to make a dent in them, so I started with Oliver Twist and then moved on to this novel. Honestly, it's not high on my recommendation list. I think a boy would probably like it better than I did, but there was more fighting than love story and that just doesn't suit my taste. Dickens, however, is such a master of description! In my own writing I find that that is what I lack the most, so this book was a very good learning tool.

It is set in 18th century England during the Gordon Riot, which were riots led by Lord George Gordon protesting against giving rights back to Catholics in England. We see the bitterness of these revolts through a love story between two people whose families are on opposite ends of this debate, a young man who joins the troops after losing in the game of love, and a handicapped young man named Barnaby Rudge who is naively pulled into the swelling tide of the riots. One of my favorite things about this book is the relationship between Barnaby and his mother. She so poignantly portrays the fact that there is something especially sweet about a handicapped child... What other boy, at the age of 25, would still lay his head on his mother's lap while she strokes his hair and reads him stories?

All in all, it is a moving story, with many ironically laughable moments. If the Lord ever gives us a child with a disability, I would definitely want to re-read this book. Otherwise, one reading was plenty.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri: After Barnaby, I was in need of a simple children's story! This fit my needs perfectly. Set in the Alps, Spyri tells a sweet story of a little girl with a heart filled with love. She transforms a hardened grandfather, a roguish young shepherd, an invalid old woman, a sickly rich girl, and a grieving doctor all by the way she loves them.

I will also say that all the descriptions of the cheeses, handmade by her grandfather, then toasted over the fire...served with scraps of bread and fresh milk in the cool mountain air...left me craving these items so much that it was all I ate for lunch for many days. I went straight to Publix from the gym one day, just to purchase some round cheese block that I could toast and a fresh baguette of white bread. I WAS in the first trimester of pregnancy, but you may want to go on a diet before you start this one.

The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Yes! this is the same lady who wrote The Secret Garden, but this book is for adults. Don't let the title turn you off, because before NASA, a shuttle could be a lot of things besides a rocket ship. In this novel, it represents the steamliners that carried people "quickly" between England and America. This is a story of love between two cultures, and the differences/similarities between British and American society. Here is a quote from The Shuttle, which encapsulates the novel's feeling on the subject of England:

"What could be more natural? We belong to it--it belongs to us. I could never be convinced that the old tie of blood does not count. All nationalities have come to us since we became a nation, but most of us in the beginning came from England. We are touching about it, too. We trifle with France and labour with Germany, we sentimentalise over Italy and ecstacise over Spain--but England we love.... Why are we not unconsciously pathetic about German cottages and Italian villas? Because we have not, in centuries past, had the habit of being born in them. It is only an English cottage and an English lane, whether white with hawthorn blossoms or bare with winter, that wakes in us that little yearning, grovelling tenderness that is so sweet. It is only nature calling us home."

Oh, don't you LOVE that! The heroine of this novel is a strong and extremely wealthy American girl, who has the sweetest relationship with her father and sister. There is an evil villain and plenty of love to go around. There is even a dear old gardener who will remind you of the one you loved in The Secret Garden. I would have to say that this is a must read!

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik: As you can tell by the title, this one was quite a departure from what I had been reading. It was our latest book club selection, and a fun, girly summer read. It begins in the 60's with a group of women who all live on the same street and start a book club...sound familiar Crestwood Literary Society?? :) We see not only the bond between women friends, but also the deeper issues that many have in their lives and how these problems change as they progress from the 60's to the 90's.

St. Elmo by Augusta Evans Wilson: Wilson is a female, Southern-American writer from the mid 1800's. It was so refreshing to read a beautifully written novel--reminiscent of Jane Autsen--set in the countryside of Georgia instead of distant England. To hear some of our own dear towns (like Chattanooga) referenced instead of an English town that I've never heard of, was very fun. I also knew springtime and summer in a southern landscape, instead of just depending on the writer's ability to describe it to me accurately enough.

Besides all that, this is yet another great love story. Sometimes I wonder how long it will take for me to get tired of the same scenario: female character, torn from the one her heart truly loves by insurmountable odds, who eventually finds a way of overcoming the odds for the sake of true love. The character's class, situation, love interest, and setting changes, but the underlying story is still the same. I will say that the heroine in this novel refused her heart just a few chapters too long for my taste, but there were many twists and turns that still surprised me. I would recommend this novel for any Jane Austen lover, especially if you're from the South.

(I need to also mention that there were A LOT of references to Greek mythology in this book that went so far above my head that it wasn't even funny. I don't now whether to tell you not to be discouraged when you're reading because if you're stupid then I'm stupid too, or whether I AM stupid and desperately need a course on mythology :))

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis: The last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, and the only one that Jeremiah and I had not read together. I read this aloud to him on our beach trip, and anybody who would read this book, will also have read the others in the series. Therefore, I know I don't need to express the importance of reading this one before you die :)

The Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: I actually listened to this book on CD while I did laundry and other housework over the past month. Just getting prepared for the new release in July!

The Little Minister by J.M. Barrie: Finally, the book I just finished! Set in the small villages of Scotland during the 19th century (I think), we hear the controversial love story of the village minister. The Scottish brogue of the locals is hard to follow at first, but you get used to it. Soon you even enjoy it. It was abundantly clear to me that this was a love story told by a man. Barrie maddeningly leaves out the details of some of the heart fluttering moments. However, there are some fun twists and iconographic characters that make this book worth reading. My favorite quote from this book came right at the beginning:

"So was man created, to hunger for the ideal that is above himself, until one day there is magic in the air, and the eyes of a girl rest upon him. He does not know that it is he himself who crowned her, and if the girl is as pure as he, their love is the one form of idolatry that is not quite ignoble. It is the joining of two souls on their way to God."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Month and a Day

Wow! I can't believe I've been gone for over a month.... Well, not really GONE that whole time, but basically on summer vacation. Since we last talked, I've celebrated my 25th birthday, gone on vacation with Jeremiah to the beach for a week, been to Atlanta for my cousin's wedding, had another doctor's check-up, and taken a "Ladies' Retreat" to Dothan with a group of my neighborhood friends. AND, I didn't take one picture the whole time :( I carried my camera everywhere, I just never seem to make myself actually snap any pictures.

Pace is doing great! She is now a little parakeet who repeats EVERYTHING we say. I have a lot more to say about her, but I think I'll give her her own post next time. The baby girl in my belly is becoming more active daily, and doing well as far as the doctor and I can tell. She still doesn't have a name, which is a constant source of concern for me. I just keep waiting for some name to hit me that blows me away because it is so perfect. Jeremiah has not managed to offer one name to the name pot, but he has laughingly discarded every one that I have come up with :)

Our beach trip was relaxation at it's peak! The weather was perfect: blue skies, clear aqua water, white sand, and a constant cool breeze. I could have layed on the beach all day every day and never broken a sweat. However, Jeremiah and I have finally learned to start our vacations with a dissertation about what each of our expectations are for the week. His ideal schedule definitely does not include playing beached whale all day long, so we try to reach a compromise for each other. I took a run every day down 30A with him and he did some beach-side wallering with me in exchange. Every night we went to a different fabulous restaurant and even saw a movie at the theatre one night. We missed our little girl a LOT (especially every time we saw another child go tottering by), but she was in Dothan with her Moogie and Papa having a blast. So, we just reveled in our freedom.

One morning we had a picnic breakfast on the beach. This was something I planned the week before we left, as I was doing cardio on the elliptical and dreaming of all the food I wished I was eating instead of burning off. Buttermilk biscuits, swathed with homemade honey-mustard, with a plump but spicy Conechuh sausage wedged inside. Fruit salad, made with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cool green grapes. Finally, cheese grits, cooked with milk and sharp cheddar cheese. Can't you just see the big pregnant woman burning her calories on the elliptical with a thought cloud constantly drifting above her head of just how she plans to put all these (and much more) right back on. Well, I dreamed it, I packed our sweet picnic basket into the car (despite Jeremiah's protestations of whether that was REALLY necessary), and that morning at the beach when we woke up and didn't really feel like cooking breakfast, and packing a basket, and carting it to the beach I pushed through anyway.

After burning a batch of sausage (that should have set every smoke detector off within a 10mi radius), figuring out how to pack a picnic when we have no Tupperware, plastic bags, tin foil, or saran wrap, and giving up on the grits all together, we finally settled onto our blanket on the cool deserted beach, with our coffee in our hands. Sometimes, romance can be a pain in the butt to create. However, I think that one day when it becomes much harder to spend any time alone together at the beach, we will be able to look back at that little picnic and be so thankful that we made it happen.

While we were there we did a lot of dreaming. I have written about that in other blogs, but dreaming is one of our favorite hobbies when we have quiet alone time together. Where we would build our dream beach house. The vacations we would one day have with all four of our children running everywhere. The ways we would make the million dollars we would need in order to fulfill these dreams.... I love to dream big.

The last day of our beach trip Jeremiah went to Dothan to play in a golf tournament with his dad. So, Mom came down to spend the day wallering with me. She loves the beach (as hard as it is to imagine) even more than I do, and it was the first day since her chemo treatment that she felt good for the whole day. We ended the last night with Dad and Jeremiah joining us for dinner at Captain Andersons. It was the perfect end to a relaxing week.