Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Tiny Acrobat, the Naughty Puppy, and the HIPpopotamus

No, the circus is not in town, its just been a bad week over here at Club Maddox.

The Tiny Acrobat: Mary Aplin is a little over 6 months old. She is sitting on her own for brief periods, babbling here and there, and cutting teeth all over the place. She is still standing like a champ, and today I put her in a high-chair for the first time to eat her breakfast. As you can see, she was pumped. I wish I could report her height and weight, but we're running a little late on that 6mo. check-up. Last appointment (4mo) she was in the 90th percentile for height and the 60th percentile for weight, so I know she is not in any kind of danger, but she just looks skinny to me. Give me some rolls, some sweet meat, a rotund belly, and several chins!!! Pace was a chunker and I just can't get used to my light-weight. So, don't tell the LaLeche League, but I've started doing a little supplementing once a day while also trying to nurse for longer periods (and hopefully build my own supply).

Now, she may be thin and she may not look very agile, but I am here to tell you that M'Apples is channeling Jackie Chan whenever I turn my back. In the past 2 days she has hurled herself off the bed THREE times. I know you are all shaking your heads in disapproval, wondering how I could be so negligent, but the first time she was STRAPPED in to a baby seat on our bed watching Baby Einstein. Jeremiah and I were eating dinner when we heard a loud thud and ear piercing screams. We bolted to the room to find an empty baby seat, with buckles still fastened, and M'Apples face down on the hard-wood floor. Fast forward to the next morning, when I lay Mary Aplin on Pace's bed, with her feet facing the edge, and squat BESIDE her to pull Pace's dress over her head. The next thing I know, THUD. There she is face down again, but this time with a slight scratch and knot on her forehead. Finally, that afternoon, I was confessing to Jeremiah about the second spill she had taken on my watch. He looked at me like, "How in the world?" and then agreed to keep an eye on her in our room while I finished peeling potatoes. Jackie Chan came whipping out for her third showing and taught her Daddy a lesson about thinking that Mommy doesn't pay close enough attention. She's sure to point back to this post in about 13 years when she makes a bad grade on her math test.

The Naughty Puppy: That picture shows Pace acting all sweet and innocent with Avery, Brett and Ashley's new puppy. Don't be fooled! On Tuesday, she received not one, not two, but FIVE spankings. You know how many pets will act out--strewing the garbage, chewing up your new shoes--if they aren't getting enough attention. Well, apparently Pace got a little too close to that puppy and picked up some similar behaviors. She pulled out half a box of garbage bags and scattered them all over the kitchen, sprinkled some of Mary Aplin's sticky baby formula on the bags and the floor, unloaded a cabinet in the breakfast room and broke a picture frame in the process, tucked several wipes under the sheets in our bed and made a nice wet spot, and then came to me with chocolate around her mouth, on her fingers, even in her molars, and when I asked her repeatedly if she was sure she hadn't eaten any chocolate came back with a very staunch "NO."

Then there's the potty training aspect of our life at present. I have often said that raising a puppy is harder than a baby, because at least you can put a diaper on a baby. Well, not when they're potty training! I don't want to potty train. I know she will figure it out one day, but she has been begging me to let her wear big girl, princess panties, ever since she saw her little friend Natalie wearing some. I started to feel like I was stunting her progress, so I agreed to the panties. On Monday, she tinkled all in her high chair at breakfast (the panties and dress had only been on for about 5 minutes), which had to be dis-assembled and washed. So we took a break and went back to diapers for a few days. Then today, she convinced me again. Things went pretty smooth all morning, and then I got a little cocky. I had to go get the oil changed/tires rotated, so I took my diaperless wonder along. I asked her when we got there if she needed to go to the potty...was she sure?...did she just want to sit on there and try? I received adamant no's to all these questions. So, I'm jiggling M'Apples on one knee while Pace is sitting in another armchair looking at a magazine when I notice that Pace is saying something about being all wet. Sure enough, she peed all over her dress and the chair and starts screaming "Don't spank me Mommy! I just tee-teed!" (Just so you know, I have never spanked her for having an accident of this kind, but she could see the cloud come over my face.) Fortunately, she had spilled a glass of water on the floor a few minutes before, so I was able to honestly tell the maintenance man that I was so sorry, but my little girl had spilled her water. I mopped up the chair, scrubbed it with a wipe and said a little prayer that that would disinfect at least some and proceeded to the parking lot to strip Pace of her clothes and bathe her with wipes.
The HIPpopotamus: That would be me. I tried to put on a dress this morning, that I wore for my college graduation, and as my Easter dress after I had Pace (that's it in the picture). I got it zipped, but it was so tight on my hips that I felt like I was listening to a clock tick away a count-down of how long I had before the seams burst open. The butt cup was just, well, WAY too cupped. It was depressing. After much consideration, I have decided to blame the weight on the Tiny Acrobat. If she would nurse more I could burn some more calories :)

Just put a tent up; it's a circus.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Favorite Quote

Since I didn't know the words for that last quote, I thought I'd make it up to you by writing one of my favorite quotes that I DO have all the words for. It's from Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge:

They had both been married and borne children. Lucilla knew always, and Nadine knew in her more domesticated moments, that it was homemaking that mattered. Every home was a brick in the great wall of decent living that men erected over and over again as a bulwark against the perpetual flooding in of evil. But women made the bricks, and the durableness of each civilization depended upon their quality, and it was no good weakening oneself for the brick-making by thinking too much about the flood.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

I don't even know what the rest of that quote is supposed to say. Maybe that is the whole thing, "From the mouths of babes...," and we're just all supposed to assume that that means that some really amazing things come out of their mouths. I don't feel like googling it, but if anybody knows the rest, then let me know. Mary Aplin had something new come out of her mouth this weekend...She said MAMA!!! Of course, she had no idea what she was saying, but it was amazingly sweet to hear it anyway. She usually chants it while she's crying. I get so tickled and excited, that she stops crying, looks at my funny, smiles back, and then starts wailing again. Anyway, I was reading one of your blogs, and you talked about your little girl saying sweet things about Jesus coming to live in her heart. It was precious and reminded me that I keep meaning to blog about the things Pace has been saying about her Bebe (that's Mom).

Jeremiah and I have both talked about how when kids say something, it suddenly seems prophetic. Just last weekend Pace told me she was going to meet her new best friend Georgia tomorrow (that is what my friend Lauren is planning to name her little girl), and I called Lauren (who is due any second) all excited--like that really meant something. Pace has said three different things, so far, about Mom that seem eerily true. They just came completely out of nowhere.

1) I asked her what she thought Bebe was doing in heaven, and she looked at me and said very matter-of-factly, "She's dancing in the grass."

2) She asked me if Bebe was wearing pajamas in heaven, and I told her I wasn't sure. Then she said, "No, she's wearing a party dress."

3) Another day, I was asking her if Bebe was still wearing her party dress, and she said, "She's wearing a CROWN Mommy!"

There are also little things she says that help me know that she really remembers Mom, and not just what we say about Mom. That's one of my biggest fears, that she'll just forget.

1) One day, I was trying to make her wear her pink tennis shoes and she wanted to wear her Crocs. In the middle of our little debate she yelled, "But Bebe didn't wear tennis shoes, she wore flip-flops!" That was so true. Mom almost always had on flip-flops.

2) Every time she gets out of the bath tub at my parents house in Dothan, she runs into my parents room to get her lotion and pajama's on while screaming, "Bebe's Room!" Then she walks over to Mom's side of the bed, peers over the top (like she's just checking to make sure she's not there), and then she looks at the night stand and asks, "Where's Bebe's medicine?"

3) Almost every time I tell her we're going to Dothan she says, "Is Bebe going to be there or is she still in heaven with Jesus." I tell her she's still in heaven and then she says, "But she's going to come see me soon, OK? I miss her."

4) Tonight, I was tucking her in and I told her we were going to Dothan tomorrow. After the conversation above she said, "Last time Bebe was here at my house she came and woke me up. She had a necklace on with her dress, and she let me play with it!" I just started balling. She's so right! I didn't even remember that until she said it.

I am very grateful that God seems to be etching Mom's memory on her little heart, and I hope she is a prophetess....It seems very likely to me that Bebe is up there, wearing a party dress and a crown, dancing in the grass.

Just for the Record....

I have a hard time with hurting people's feelings. In that "100 Things" post I either failed to mention or barely mentioned some major people in my life. I just wanted to clarify that I was trying to tell random things about myself that people would not be likely to know. This was not a "TOP 100 Things," it was merely "100 Random Wherever My Mind Happened to be Wandering at That Moment Things."

Some things I felt like I had adequately covered in other that "Best Friends" post from last year. If you notice, I didn't even mention that I had a great Mom who passed away less than 4 months ago...I figured that had been covered. So, if Mom was a less than 1% part of this list, you know I could not have been trying to mention all the important people in my life. I hope nobody's feelings were hurt. I know for sure one person's were :) Sorry WAABFF...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

100 Things About Me

Finally, I got tagged! I have been waiting patiently (and trying not to get my feelings hurt) as I watched one after the other of you bloggers tag each other for this feat. It seemed a little presumptuous to do a "100 things" without being asked, but I actually considered it. My friend Tegan tagged me last week, and I was pumped. This may not be interesting at all (for some reason all of you have said that), but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everybody else's. It has made me feel like I actually know you even more. SO, here goes:
1) I was born Abby Catherine Clark on May 14, 1982 in Auburn, AL.

2) My Dad was still in Vet school. My parents had no insurance. I was a honeymoon baby, and we lived in a trailer (with pink shag carpet in my nursery). At my core, I am classy :)

3) My Dad always encouraged me to set high goals, and I was an over-achiever in school.

4) I really believed him (Dad) when he told me I could do anything I set my mind to, and I churned out A's all through school.

5) Still believing the above mantra, I majored in Chemical Engineering with plans of going to medical school. I soon realized that my Dad was wrong.

6) There are some things my brain just cannot do, and it was a hard lesson to learn.

7) By God's grace (and my good, brilliant friend Stewart) I graduated as a Chemical Engineer with a pretty good GPA after all.

8) I've known of my husband, Jeremiah, as long as I can remember. He is 4 years older than me, but we grew up going to the same church.

9) I thought that he and his high school girlfriend were Ken and Barbie.

10) In 8th grade, I actually went to his Senior Prom Lead Out just to see them all dressed up.

11) He didn't know I was alive.

12) At Mrs. Pat Woods Bible Study Christmas party my Sophomore year in high school, God prodded--not nearly strong enough--propelled me out of my seat to share my testimony about what was going on with Mom's cancer battle at the time.

13) I sobbed, felt like I humiliated myself in front of a lot of older and intimidating people and was, in general, aggravated that God had made me do something so embarrassing.

14) I didn't know that that was the night Jeremiah finally noticed I was alive :) Since he felt like he (as a college Sophomore) was too old to ask me out, he urged his brother Josh to ask me out instead.

15) Josh and I "dated" here and there for the next year and half, but we never kissed.

16) On my first date with Josh, he took me up the cupola on top of their house to look at the view. As we climbed down the ladder, we heard singing and walked into the Great Room to find Jeremiah singing and playing his guitar (with his shirt off!) "This Old Guitar," by John Denver. I couldn't stop smiling. He just looked and sounded so beautiful.

17) Things with Josh were just never good, and in February of my Senior year Jeremiah called completely out of the blue and asked if I wanted to go ride horses with him at their farm.

18) He actually asked me out on my house answering machine, and we saved that message for at least 6 months.

19) So, 4 years after I had sat goo-goo eyed in the darkness, watching Jeremiah at his prom Lead Out, I was stepping out at my own prom Lead Out on his arm.

20) For those of you who have not been doing the math, he was a Senior in college and swallowed a LOT of pride to be there. He also was supposed to take the MCAT that weekend and drove from the beach with my high school friends, straight to Tuscaloosa to take the biggest test of his life.

21) We broke up my Freshman year of college while he went to Montana to play cowboy and try to decide if he wanted to go to medical school.

22) I didn't want to break up, but I am so thankful that God gave him the strength to do it for me.

23) I had so much fun that Freshman year, dating and going to football games!

24) Instead of sitting in my dorm room alone, pining for a boyfriend on the other side of the country.

25) It also gave me the opportunity to compare every person I went out with to Jeremiah (who, lets just be honest, I was still pining away for even if I wasn't sitting in my dorm room). Nobody even came close.

26) I loved college and made some fabulous life-long friends who know themselves as "Counsel": Whitney, Lindsay, Holly, Jessica, Mary Grace, and Sara Beth.

27) Together, we did a lot of talking, eating, dancing, laughing, stalking, streaking, traveling, and solving all of our love dilemmas with a fierce protection only second to that of a mother.

28) We still go to the beach together every year, and I love them.

29) I feel abundantly blessed by all of the true friends I've had in my life.

30) Oh my goodness this is already so long! Maybe I'll just do 50.

31) There are a lot of dear friends and memories I could talk about from high school, but would those really be things about me? Is there a rule book for this?

32) My first sip of alcohol was when I went to the Episcopal Church with my friend Kelsey in high school.

33) I love rap music.

34) There are times (like when I am working out or driving to the beach) when it just makes me feel good.

35) Jeremiah does not understand, but he has really tried.

36) I am pretty sure he is scared that the mother of his children knows all the words to "Low" (or "Apple Bottom Jeans" as I like to call it).

37) I am also pretty sure he likes being married to a person who know all the words to "Low."

38) I am screening what I originally wrote here. However, I realized that I launched into our love story without telling you some of the basics:
a) I graduated from a small high school (50 in my class), where I was a cheerleader and played soccer my senior year.
b) I went to Auburn and was a KD.

39) I love Victorian literature and C.S. Lewis.

40) I like that my loves vary so widely. It makes life interesting.

41) Have I said that I am the oldest of 4 girls?

42) My sisters are all amazingly talented and beautiful. I am very proud of them.

43) I am the mother of two precious, smart, and beautiful little girls.

44) They give my life renewed purpose each day.

45) Children are the definition of unconditional love. If you thought dogs were great, just wait until you have a 2 year old.

46) I hear this may change as they get older.

47) My Dad warned me when I was little that there would come a day when I would think he was stupid, annoying, and embarrassing (those weren't his exact words but you get the idea).

48) That hasn't happened yet. I have always been very proud of my parents.

49) Having children has made me realize all the sacrifices my parents had to make for me.

50) If you want to know just how selfish you are, have a baby.

51) You will see your sinful selfishness and be purged of a lot of it all at once.

52) Mary Aplin's first tooth broke through this past weekend, and I am just about ready to throw her and her cute little butt away.

53) Why do I have the urge to bite and pinch things that are cute?

54) Baby butts, baby lips, baby cheeks,..even Jeremiah's butt...all just need to be pinched!

55) I run an average of 12 miles a week. Sometimes 8. Sometimes 20.

56) I do weights 1 or 2 days a week.

57) Part of the reason I exercise so consistently now, is because it is one of the few times during the day that I get to be all by myself.

58) I love people when I'm with them, but I think if I were left to my own devices I would be alone a lot.

59) Is that weird?

60) We have sound equipment set up in our basement and some nights Jeremiah and I sing together.

61) Pace gets a microphone too, and she "sings" while we are deciding what song to do next. Really she just chants "Mommy and Daddy" over and over in a sing-songey voice while she rocks back and forth.

62) Sometimes, while we sing, I pretend I am in a music video.

63) But, I really really hate singing in front of people.

64) Jeremiah and I sang at our friends' (Natalie and Wayne) wedding. Honestly, I left feeling a little smug...thinking we'd done pretty well. Then, they gave us a video, and I have never been so humiliated. I sounded terrible and have sworn to never do it again!

65) I started a book club with some girls in our neighborhood a year and a half ago. It is one of the brightest spots in my month!

66) I love my neighborhood.

67) I have made some life-long friends here.

68) Almost every afternoon we let our kids play in each other's yards.

69) I think if our country had more community--more fellowship--like this, we would be taking a giant step towards what we all desire to be as Americans.

70) I love flowers, but I have a black thumb.

71) I just can't make myself be a consistent waterer or weeder.

72) In the fairly distant future, I want to hold a yearly, formal, sit down dinner, in our dream home, with period attire.

73) You're all invited, IF you can convince your husbands to wear the high socks and little breeches :)

74) Mexican food is my favorite, and it always has been.

75) I have to eat it at least once a week.

76) My next favorite food would be Southern cooking--meat and lots of vegetables.

78) I eat my steak medium rare, and prefer fillet.
79) I enjoy cooking.

80) I wish I could do it without trying to come up with "jobs" Pace can do to help me and toting Mary Aplin.

81) We eat salad before dinner every night.

82) Jeremiah's family always did this, and to my dismay, he can't seem to subsist without it.

83) I love dessert, but I would usually rather have a second helping if given the choice.

84) Unless we're talking about creme brulee, or something with chocolate and strawberries.

85) Looks like I'm going all the way!

86) Once a week, Jeremiah and I rent a movie and watch it while we eat dinner.

87) I took piano for 8 years, and I rarely ever play.

88) That's one of those sacrifices I didn't realize and can't believe my parents made. To pay for me to take those lessons every month--when I was complaining all the time.

89) I am now thankful for my ability to read music and my overall sense of being a more "finished" person for knowing how, even though I don't do it that often.

90) I am a bad friend to people who aren't in front of me.

91) I have some OCD tendencies. I can spend all day getting one corner spotless, while the rest of the house is just begging to be wiped over.

92) I CAN'T just wipe over. I would rather not clean at all--and sadly that is what ends up happening sometimes.
93) I love to water ski, and I hate to snow ski.

94) I say that if you're from the South, and grew up on lakes and rivers, then there is only one kind of skiing that should come naturally.

95) I collect antique books.

96) I have always had a yearning to be a "collector" of something. Books are the only thing that have really stuck.

97) I only actually used my ChemE degree for a year and a half, and I have no plans of ever going back.

98) My dream is to write a book, set in the 30's and 40's. Loosely combining my grandmother's upbringing, my family life and friendships.

99) I started it a year ago, but it's crap.

100) I hope to make a fresh start with it soon.
I would now like to tag anyone else out there who, like me, has been waiting for their turn. Just be warned that it is much harder than you think!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Joy of Spring

As I sit here at my computer, I look past the stark black lines of its frame to see spring creeping in at my window. Ivy tumbles over itself on its climb up the clear glass pane. Azaleas of deep pink, pale pink, and pure white all grow happily together in an overflowing cluster. Stretching above the Azaleas, the long Dogwood branches reach for the sun and cast their own pink faces back for me to see. A little brown bird with an orange breast twitters happily as he hops fbrrom anch to branch, taking in the cool morning breezes for himself and cocking his head to the side as he looks at me, wondering why I would choose this black box over the glory of a spring morning.

Every year when Spring arrives, something begins to stir within me. Its a fervent anticipation of all the beauty that continues to slowly unfold itself, mixed with sorrow of how fleeting I know it will be. I can never have it all at once, its just not the way. One morning, the Bradford Pear is covered in delicate white blooms, and the next they have magically morphed into dark green leaves. There is little time to morn this loss, because I see my Dogwoods and Azaleas bursting with the load of their partially opened blooms. Oh the beauty! it almost makes me hurt. It does make me breathe short, shallow breaths as I beseech my eyes to soak it all in and not forget. I have wanted to quantitate have a word for what this time of year does to me. C.S. Lewis calls it Joy, in his book Surprised by Joy:

I will only underline the quality common to the three experiences (One of the experiences he's referring to is a book that stirred within him the intense desire for Autumn. Another, is the childhood memory of the first time he saw a flower arrangement and was stunned by its beauty. The third is the emotion that was stirred within him by reading a particular line of poetry.); it is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again.... I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.

I believe what he is describing is what Spring brings to me each year. I cannot possess Spring. I cannot even force its beauty to all be revealed at the same time. I cannot make it last for a moment longer by any means, but it's these desires in and of themselves that create this feeling...this yearning that I excitedly wait for each year. The taste of this Joy, is what compels me to arrange flowers, like the one in this picture, so that when I pass by them in my home during the humdrum of the day, I have a fleeting sense of that Joy again. Lewis' description sounds a bit like a drug addiction, once you've tasted it, you'll always be yearning to create it again.

I think God gives us this Joy to show us a flash of Himself. Once we've experienced Him, and the Joy created through this experience, we can never get enough. We live life yearning to know Him more. Just like Spring, I cannot possess Him, but its the yearning to know Him that is pleasing in His sight. On this side of Heaven, all Joy is tinged with sorrow--because of sin, but we are created to long for Joy without sorrow. Isn't it incredible all the different ways God can recreate pictures of our relationship with Him in our world, so that we might better grasp His beauty? As I sit here, looking at the glorious awakening of Spring outside my window, I am filled with Joy, not only because I am catching my breath at its beauty, but also because I know the one source for all Joy!