Tuesday, June 30, 2009

San Francisco Recap

I'd like to start by saying...We had such a blast with these two. Can you see Mrs. Personality over there on the left and Mr. Can Carry a Conversation on Any Topic in the Universe on the right? That would be Jeremiah's Mom and Dad. For those of you who don't know us in real life, his Dad is an orthopod like Jeremiah and his Mom rescues dogs (like seriously she keeps around twenty something at any given time--anybody looking for a new pet?) and manages their sprawling farm. When you add the fact that his Dad also has a horse farm/hay business on the side of operating on people's spines and dreaming up new and crazy "projects" for their farm...it's hard to get all the QT (does everybody know that means Quality Time?) you might want. But for three and half days Jeremiah and I had them--and San Francisco--all to out little selves.

We made our way to the Ghiradelli "factory" and watched how they make chocolate (we also ate a Ghiradelli chocolate sunday with a still-warm waffle cone shell).

We sampled some Boudin sourdough bread with our fresh-from Fisherman's Wharf seafood dinner.

Jeremiah did some sight-seeing (dressed like a pimp)--still in a suit from his Spine conference and wearing some of his Mom's sunglasses (throughout the trip) since he left his at home :)We hopped on a ferry to go to...Alcatraz.
This was such an unforgettable experience. You do a walking tour with a headset, and the people talking gruffly in your ears are men who were imprisoned or worked there. It was fascinating to hear about their daily routines, their escape attempts, and peek into the actual cells where they spent such large, morbid periods of their lives. There is background noise of guards yelling, doors sliding, men cat-calling...all while you walk around with a whole lot of silent people just as engrossed in the stories as you are.
We had lunch looking out at this view while we were in Sausalito--just before we perused their quaint shops and art galleries.
We had dinner across the grassy square from this church in the Italian district. This is the church that Marilyn Monroe wanted to marry Joe DiMaggio in (he grew up in this neighborhood), but the priest wouldn't let her since it was her second marriage...so they just had pictures made inside instead :) We also were not afraid to be TOURISTS! Check us out in the double-decker bus, along with everybody else with their cameras...and even a fannypack or two was spotted.I normally shy away from the whole idea of being a tourist. Something about it seems...humiliating. But let me tell you, that double decker bus was the best thing we did! We saw ALL the sights. We hopped off and explored when we wanted to, and then caught the next bus. We leisurely sat back and enjoyed the sunshine and breezes, and heard catchy side stories about places we passed on our way to the next big attraction.I will never again be too cool for the bus...and you shouldn't be either. Our fellow red bus traveler snapped this one for us in front of the Academy of the Arts. Jeremiah's still lookin' hot in those glasses. [My sister also just pointed out that I might should address what the HECK I am wearing. I started out the day wearing that as a dress,...then started freezing so I pulled out the jeans that I had handily stored in my purse, and there you have it--pregnant Abby.] We had our breath taken away by the Redwood trees of Muir Woods.
And we took another of several brisk walks in improper female footwear. Jeremiah can't bear to spend money on cabs, so we huffed it everywhere across not only this rocky terrain, but also those steep San Francisco hills.

He can never seem to convince me to wear "proper" things. I say, "Do you really want me to wear Isotoners with black socks??" And he replies, "No, but I would also like to not ALWAYS be over the bag weight limit in the airport because you've had to pack eighteen different pairs of high-heeled shoes and flip-flops to match all of your 'outfits'." Thankfully, his Mom sides with me on this issue, so at least I wasn't the only one...I digress.We went to Sonoma valley for a little wine tasting.It was GORGEOUS and GOOD :)And while we talked a lot of smack to our fellow tourists and tour guide--warning us about the heat when we reached Sonoma--we told them that it couldn't compare to the temperatures we'd left in south Alabama. Well, we were swallowing our words by the days' end and looking for the nearest shade :) Finally, after all this beautiful scenery, mind invigorating conversation (with no sweet babies to interrupt), sumptuous food, and, well, wine-tasting, we all four went home feeling like this...
I love San Francisco.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We're Back

We're back, and It. Was. Wonderful. I cannot remember a better vacation. I want to tell you more, but right now I have a LOT of bags to unpack, two sickly girls that need attention, a house that looks like a family of squirrels has been living in it while we were away, bills to pay, a broken air conditioner, 2 flossy finch orders to complete...welcome back to the real world, huh :) Be back as soon as I can!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

San Francisco!

It seems too good to be true. I couldn't even risk telling y'all before we left, because I was just sure if I said it out loud, it wouldn't happen. But it did, and now here I am, in sunny Cali-forn-I-A. The weather here is startlingly perfect....especially to a person who just left 95 degrees and 100% humidity. I'll be honest, I was a little leery that I may not be able to wear my sundresses--unsure if 70 degrees with a California breeze might be too chilly for a seasoned Southerner, but y'all, it feels like HEAVEN. I wear a sundress and keep a little light sweater in my purse for when the sun goes down but hardly need it even then.

Let me stop just a second and tell you why/how we're here (WITHOUT ANY CHILDREN!). There is a global spine congress here this week and Jeremiah is presenting one of his spine research projects. Since he is presenting for UAB, they were paying for his hotel room and flight. Now, I had enough frequent flier miles for my ticket...all that was left was arranging child care...HOW IN THE WORLD COULD I NOT GO? So, Keke (and my Dad, and most likely other members of my extended family) are keeping the rascals so that Jeremiah's parents can come and cheer him on with me :)

Last night we went out to a nice dinner and then poked around until we accidentally ran into the Golden Gate bridge (hence the pictures from earlier. And we did ask a passer-by to get a pic of us together, but there was a bit of a language barrier in explaining how to use the camera and the photo turned out so fuzzy you couldn't tell what anything was).

Today, we did something very odd for two tourists' first whole day in a new city. We sat in the hotel room and did exactly what you see in these two pictures. I wore a big fuzzy white robe and read my book, while Jeremiah worked like a madman on his presentation. With that bad schedule he's had the past couple of months, he hasn't had ONE minute to work on the presentation he's giving until Sunday afternoon. But let me tell you the honest truth, just being able to both be present in the same room, sitting quietly on our butts, with the window open and a cool breeze and Starbucks coffee...has been MARVELOUS. I've just missed him so bad I didn't want to go wander around and shop and sight-see alone. We did go out and eat lunch and get his hair cut at a local place. We did go for a run this afternoon, through the city and by the water, and we have a WHOLE WEEK to see the sights later.

I'll end with this. I've been saying over and over how bad I need a "break" (and you other Moms know what that means). But as soon as I realized I was about to leave my little girlies for that long, I just about perished. I actually started talking to Jeremiah about how I bet Dapples could still count as a lap baby on the plane and maybe we had enough frequent fliers to get Pace a ticket too. He looked at me like I had lost my ever-loving mind...and he was right. We are having fun and the break is glorious and I've said "thank you Jesus" out loud (to myself) several times, but I do miss those little chicken wings :(

You'll Never Guess...

Where we are!!!!

Be back later :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Fathers in My Life

Jeremiah, what a gift to be able to watch you become a father! You have put on the mantle of fatherhood, just like you have all the other honors our heavenly Father has bestowed--with humility, integrity, and love. The way you love our girls, has seeped into my heart and let me love you even more. I can't imagine a man making a better father than one who has a heart that demands integrity while overflowing with compassion. I thank God that He gave me you to raise our children and set an example of godliness. I love you so bad, and so do Pace and Mary Aplin :)

Dr. Maddox, I don't understand the title "daughter-in-law" because you have always made me feel like no less than your daughter. I know that if I told you I needed you to jump off a bridge for me, you'd do it without hesitation--and even have an unbelievably good attitude about it :). Watching Popon bring the joy and spontaneity to the girls' lives, like only you could do, has been beautiful to experience. How many girls get to have TWO fathers that they love and respect so deeply? I love you.

Oh Dad...What a privilege to grow up in a home with a father who truly lived everything he preached. A father who showed me by example how NOT to be a hypocrite. I believe that there are very, very few homes with role models like you. You can't hide from your family--we see it all, and I can say from the depths of my heart that I would trust you with the world. I am just so thankful for your example, and cried out to God in thankfulness this morning. You've always managed to strike the perfect balance between being my father--my rock--my disciplinarian--my teacher--my protector--my friend. Thank you, thank you. I love you, Abby.

I feel overwhelmingly blessed today. I believe that often our pre-conceived version of God looks much like our Dads--for good or for bad. Children who are abused or abandoned by their fathers, often struggle to comprehend a Heavenly Father who loves them unconditionally. All three of these men have made my path to my Heavenly Father a smooth one, and what greater gift could there be?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Just Trying Not to Squelch Her

I hate gardening. I love flowers and color and the thought of fresh vegetables and herbs BUT I still hate gardening. My friends love it, the books I read act like gardening makes you one step closer to God, BUT I still hate gardening. I can understand, figuratively, the joy of "sinking your hands into the earth," "being a part of creation starting," "nurturing a fragile little plant," "creating something beautiful." I'VE TRIED! but to me it just feels hot, full of bugs, a tedious everyday need to go take care of SOMETHING ELSE, and even if I do follow all the right steps, everything I do tends to look like this anyway:

That is what greets you on my porch if you drop by our house. It serves as a constant reminder of last spring, just like every spring before, when I've gone to Home Depot, listened to Jeremiah make fun of me as I spent hundreds of dollars on plants vowing that THIS year would be different. Well, that was my gigantic prize fern from last year...you can see how well I took care of her.

This year, I said, no more. I am not a gardener. I'll try to take care of the wispy little plants that have managed to survive in my garden, and I'm not going to waste all that money...even though I do miss those beautiful, overflowing hanging baskets on our porch :( But then this year, God gave me a curious child. For weeks I've listened to her tell me every day, "Mommy, can we please plant some seeds?! All we need is dirt and water, and they'll grow, I promise! PLEASE!" And on and on it went. Who told her that anyway? Did one of you neighbors do it to spite me :)? Do they talk about crap like that on Sesame Street to guilt us non-gardeners into getting out there and doing it anyway?
I don't know where she heard it, but I couldn't bear to squelch her anymore. Maybe the child is going to have a green thumb. Heck, maybe I can let her plant my flower beds every year :)? She certainly couldn't do any worse than I have.

So, I made the dreaded trip to Home Depot, but instead of spending hundreds of dollars, I only spent about five. I let Pace pick our seeds and this is what she chose:

We took down my hanging baskets (that weren't being used anyway), rounded up a few other planters from various past projects.
And planted to our hearts content. (Mary Aplin nearly gave me a concussion with that rake before the day was over)
Now, a good solid excuse I have for not enjoying gardening is that my yard gets next to no sunshine. There are no fun colorful plants that grow in shade...or at least very few (maybe to get the good ones you have to go spend some real money at a nursery and not Home Depot). To give Pace's plants a chance at life, I've left all these planters in the only spot in our yard that does get sun--THE FRONT YARD. We are lookin' oh so classy with our half clover/half grass yard and our planters strewn about.

But you know what, I can already say that it's worth it, because I walked outside with Pace yesterday to check on the progress of her little project and we found this:

They actually grew!! (I honestly had zero faith that it would work) And Pace asks to go outside and check on them about twenty times a day. Bless her heart...it looks nothing like her mother's in this gardening area.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is This Normal Life?

We have had such a sweet Sunday. I haven't griped anymore (on the blog, don't think I haven't griped in real life) about Jeremiah's trauma schedule, since the "Obama on Trauma" blog, but it's been bad. Jeremiah is forever and always optimistic that next week is going to be better...it has to be...but so far his optimism has been dead off. HOWEVER, I promised myself I wouldn't gripe on this blog either...

Today has been a marvellous day. One of those days that has gotten me wondering..."Is this what normal peoples' lives look like?" Jeremiah had to go in and round for a few hours this morning, but he actually managed to squeeze in the pew beside me halfway through the singing in church. It was such a nice surprise! Then we went out to eat at Irondale Cafe, and I bellied up to the meat and three...fried chicken, squash, green beans, macaroni and cheese (but that was for Mary Aplin, not me :)), and a big ol piece of corn bread. On our "Residency Budget," I am afraid these traditional Sunday lunches have been replaced with turkey sandwiches and soup at our house most Sundays, but today I knew my extended family was down in Dothan celebrating my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary with a meal that could make me melt. I passed a note to Jeremiah in church saying that I might cry if I had to eat a sandwich for lunch again today :), and he was more than happy to give in.

On the way home, post feast, Pace started begging Jeremiah to take her down to the basement (where the sound equipment is) and let her play the guitar and sing with the microphone. She has been missing her Daddy so bad these past couple of months, and I think this was her way of asking to be all alone with him. The weird thing is that both she and Mary Aplin start to be mean to him when he is gone a lot. He comes home from work and (if they are still awake), they run and hide. Then when he finds them, they act pouty. However, as soon as they get more than 10 minutes of his undivided attention, you would think they had sprouted wings. His love brings an animation and spirit to them that my attention can't touch...but when they don't get it, they punish him for his absence. It is scary how innate manipulation seems to be inside little girls :)

We stayed in the study, so that Jeremiah could look up guitar chords on the computer for all of Pace's song requests, but we had the best time playing and singing this afternoon. For me, seeing the delight Pace and Jeremiah were taking from each other was priceless.

After singing, we put the girls down for naps and Jeremiah crashed in our bed while I sat beside him...stitching away. I was so excited that he was getting to nap, that I couldn't have fallen asleep myself. Man did he need it! Finally, Pace and Jeremiah both got out of bed (notice I say "got out of bed" and not "woke up" because Pace is now refusing to nap most days) at about the same time and she asked if they could have a tea party. I wasn't invited, so I got to cook dinner ALL BY MYSELF IN THE KITCHEN (without anybody asking to help or pulling out all of the spoons and Tupperware or fighting at my feet).

After the tea party broke up in the next room, they announced to me that they were going to run sprints on the football field. I waved goodbye to the duo who were so obviously in need of some one-on-one time and like a happy housewife whose casserole is already in the oven, I cuddled with Napoleon in the big girl bed and then took her outside to see where the wind would take us. It was just all so normal, simple, and wonderful. I am sad that I missed my grandparent's anniversary this weekend. I spent a lot of time contemplating whether or not to pack up the girls and head down to Dothan for the day... But I know we needed today, in all its normalcy, we needed it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Side Note, Literally

First, in case you haven't noticed, I put a link to my Etsy site over there on the sidebar. If you are so inclined to browse or buy--then bring it on! I have kept a small but steady stream of orders, not so much from Etsy as from friends asking me to do little projects/baby gifts for them. I am, unfortunately, nowhere near ready to buy that nightstand, but I do check on her most every day, and she is still waiting patiently :)

Second, I just added my email address to the sidebar as well. I did that because several of you have sent emails asking if I would embroider things you already have (pillowcases, bloomers, long-sleeve shirts...), and I am HAPPY HAPPY to do that too. Just so that we're fair and I don't tell one person one thing and one another (because I tend to do that), AND so that you will know before you email me, what kind of monetary commitment you are making (it is so hard for me to talk about money, I am cringing right now), I am thinking $12 if you just want a picture and $15 if you want a picture with a name. Does that sound fair??? Plus, don't worry about shipping, because I figure we're even--you ship to me, so I ship back to you.

Lastly, I have not put my email on the sidebar before now for several reasons...MOSTLY, I have every intention of turning this blog into a memory book for my family one of these days (I think it's only fair since I have given up making baby books in lieu of the blog) and I WANT YOUR COMMENTS TO BE PART OF IT. If you start emailing me your thoughts, then I won't have them til the end of time like I will the "comment section" (always count on me to be dramatic). Another reason I haven't listed it before is because I am horrible, horrible, horrible about returning emails. Part of that is (honestly) procrastination, but part of it is the paralysis that comes over me whenever someone gives me a big gift that I don't know how to thank them enough for. Kind words are the biggest gift anyone could give me, and a lot of times I look at emails over and over, and have panic attacks at random times (like when I am in the grocery store) about ones I've received--thinking thoughts like, "CRAP, Lindy-Lou sent me that sweet note and I have STILL not worked out what I want to say to thank her!" (Are you reading this Gail??? It was you I panicked about in the store today)

So anyway, I love your comments, and if you need to email me something personal that you can't bear to post, then by all means email me (and give me a nice little grace period for responding). If you want to order something not in my Etsy store, then email me. But otherwise, please keep those comments coming so that I can save them up forever...Just this morning I went back and read some of the comments from when Mom was so sick...priceless.

[Today is my sister Caroline's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lina Jane!]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I May Not Be a Baker BUT...

I do love a fresh scone with softened butter. In these old, English books I read, little housemaids are always running off to throw together a quick batch of scones for tea. That always irks me. Surely a person cannot just whip up SCONES. It's bread-like; it's a delicate consistency, and they're shaped like TRIANGLES for heaven's sake. Surely they take hours of preparation and loads of skill and some kind of special "triangle tray" that I don't have. Well I am here to tell you that they don't require any of those things. It took around a dozen times of watching my friend Lauren (across the street) make them for us before I was willing to try it alone. However, I promise you don't even need that if you will trust me when I say they don't have to be perfect--as in you don't have to fret over even consistency. And you also need to hear that a FRESH scone tastes nothing like what you buy at Starbucks. Those things have been drying out for days. When you bite into one of these scones--still hot--they are soft inside and melt in your mouth. I have not made them once when that first bite did not produce a spontaneous WOW, from my lips (and Jeremiah's).

Ok, let's get started. First, this recipe came from the Birmingham Junior League cookbook, Tables of Content. If you have that, then just flip to page 37 (and ignore the part where it says you need a "pastry blender." What the heck is that? The KitchenAid worked just fine. I also leave out the lavender...a little too weird.) If you don't have that cookbook, THEN YOU NEED TO ORDER ONE. It is my favorite cookbook, hands-down. The brunch section...ummmm, you will want to slap your Mama :)

Ingredients: 2 c all-purpose flour (sifted--and this is one of the few recipes where I do actually sift), 1/3 c sugar, 1 Tbl baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 6 Tbl unsalted butter cut into small pieces (don't panic. I just take it straight out of the fridge, cut it into normal slices and then quarter those slices. It will stay separated in your dough but that's what gives you those yummy butter pockets. I know you people, like me, with OCD are fretting over that consistency BUT IT IS OK), 1/2 c heavy cream or whipping cream, 1 egg beaten, 1 Tbl heavy cream, Sugar to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine flour, 1/3 c of sugar, the baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Cut in the butter until the mix resembles small pebbles. Stir in 1/2 c cream and the egg. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth (I do this step for all of three good kneads. It seems a little pointless because it comes out smooth, but I would be scared to tell you to skip it since it is bread...and who KNOWS what happens if you skip steps :))

Place the dough on a lightly greased baking sheet and shape into an 8 in round. Cut the round into 8 triangles; do not separate the triangles on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with 1 Tbl cream and sprinkle with sugar to taste.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (this is the hardest part for me, because you want them to stay moist and not over-cook and you really need them to cook all the way through. I always under-bake my cookies, so that they're gooey, but you don't want a gooey scone. SO, I guess just stick a toothpick in the center of one until it comes out clean)

Serve with plenty of soft butter. Have a cup of tea, and bring them over to my house so that we can talk about whatever book you're reading :)

[I have also served these, as dessert, with fresh cut strawberries and homemade whipping cream. Talk about a tasty twist on strawberry shortcake!]

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I just wanted to let you know that, just like the last blog title, you DID HELP me find my camera!!! In all seriousness, I have been looking for it since Thursday; I just read the two comments--one of which was a prayer (thank you Andi) and the other suggested I let her know where I find the camera...so that maybe she (Melissa) could find where her son hid the remote. The remote comment got me thinking. I had checked the "box" where our remotes are stored twice (Pace once and me once) but that comment got me thinking I should look just one more time. HALLELUJAH! Our prayers have been answered, and I've got my camera! Thank y'all :) and Melissa, I hope you find that remote :)
[Pace snapped this shot of us...the forgiven child :) You can see she was REAL concerned. Don't you love our friendly neighborhood skeleton in the background?]

HELP, I Can't Find My Camera!

I say I can't find it, but I WILL NOT say it is lost. I know precisely the last pictures I took with it (Thursday afternoon), and I know I layed it right down on the dining room table...The problem with that is, Napoleon now can reach the top of the table. It has become a new favorite game--standing on her tiptoes and grabbing wildly on top of the table to see what comes down. I was hoping this wasn't the fate of our camera. I was hoping I had just haphazardly cleared off the table into some little nook. However, I knew the prognosis was bad later that night when I asked Pace if she had seen the camera and I got this response: "Well, Mommy, Mary Aplin had it...ummm...I think she put it in your purse. [She starts frantically going through my purse for me to no avail] Don't worry Mommy, I'll find it. Dapples had it..."

She came up empty handed. Mary Aplin is still mainly just grunting, so we're not getting any answers out of her [which I think she enjoys a BIT more than she should]. You should know that my BIL lost his driver's license at our house one time, and do you know where it turned up several weeks later. IN A CUP IN MY FORMAL CHINA CABINET. In my quest, I have managed to recover a dollar bill from a flower arrangement and a coaster from the mail slot. At least she's creative :) I'll keep searching, and hope to be back soon with my saved up posts. In the meantime, I've managed to miss five little girls piled in Pace's bed together and the same five little sweeties having an ever-so-girley tea party. UGHH! DAPPLES!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Bryan Photo

I haven't talked about it on here in a while, but my neighbor Bryan (Father to Noah--aka Prince Charming and husband to Ashley--my friend who recently renovated my front yard) is an AMAZING photographer. He recently received a new polaroid camera as a gift and happened to try it out while our children were playing together in our front yard (lucky me!). Check out these classic looking shots.

If Pace does marry Noah one day [as she claims she will and reminds him of often], they will have the cutest rehearsal dinner video EVER :)