Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Has She Said to You Lately?

I love to hear the things that children say. If you really listen, it's astounding how simple life becomes--after being filtered through their little minds. These are a handful of the things that have come out of Pace's mouth lately, that made us laugh.I was trying to convince her to take a nap, and resorted to assuring her that, if she would lie quietly for twenty minutes, and still hadn't fallen asleep, I would come rescue her out of her bed.

Pace: Momma, how long is 20 minutes? Is it this many? She asks as she holds up all of her fingers and stretches them as wide as she can--as though that will make them more than 10.

Me: Nope, it's more than that.

Pace: Well then, how many fingers is 20 minutes?

I match my ten fingers to hers and lightly touch our fingertips.

Me: THIS is twenty fingers.

She smiles and, for a minute, I think she's got it.

Pace: Mom, you've got more fingers than me, so I can't go to sleep that long, unless I have you.We had a jar of Pace salsa on the table at dinner, when suddenly our Pace started screaming that her name was written right there on the bottle.

Jeremiah: Well, Pace, that is your name, but this bottle is talking about a different Pace. I bet the family who makes this salsa has the same name as you.

Pace (very matter-of-factly): There are other little girls named Natalie, and other little boys named Noah, but nobody else is named Pace.

Jeremiah (trying not to laugh his head off at our cocky 4 yr old): Well, Pace, there is somewhere.

Pace: Nuh-uh, and there's nobody named Maddox either!

Jeremiah: Actually, there are a lot of people named Maddox and some people named Pace too.

We are both outright laughing at her incredulity now.

Pace: Nuh-uh, y'all are just kiddin' me! I KNOW that isn't true, I'm the only one.

At least she's self-assured :)Jeremiah and I were having a serious discussion about some of the potential homes I'd found for us to rent in Seattle. I was laying out the pros and cons of each one (and trying to hold his attention, I might add) when another distraction entered our conversation.

Me: Jeremiah, there is only one bridge to that part of Seattle, and I'm worried that if there is a wreck on it, you won't be able to drive in to work.

Pace: Mommy and Daddy, if we can't take the bridge, we can just swing across. You know, like the monkey bars. Me and Dapples will just hold on to your backs. :)

Seattle, here we come! A whole family of monkeys.**Addition**

I meant to write one other thing that she said, and I forgot until something jogged my memory the other day. Soooo, I don't know if anybody will actually read this little addition, but I wanted it for our memory's sake.

Sometimes, Pace still makes comments about my Mom (who passed away 2 years ago) that blow me away. She was only two when Mom left us, and it's hard to know how much a 2 year old really remembers and how much is them just repeating things that they hear you say. This was so obviously her own personal remembrance, that it makes me happy:

Mom's favorites chips were Cape Cod, Salt and Vinegar. You know the kind that are "kettle cooked" and extra crunchy. With two little ones being the primary consumers of chips in our house (who in the world am I kidding by that statement?!), I tend more towards cheese flavored items than the bitter tang of salt and vinegar. However, as I passed these at the store this past week, they called my name loudly enough that I went ahead and grabbed a bag. I did smile a little to myself at the thought of these being Mom's particular favorite, but I certainly didn't say anything out loud.

The next day at lunch, Pace was insistent that she wanted to try some of MY chips with her peanut butter and jelly, and, to my great surprise, she loved them. After a few chips she turned to me and said, "Mommy, this is a lunch just like Bebe used to make me!" And she, and that brilliant little sponge-mind of hers, were exactly right. Oh how bad I wish we could still share a PBJ and some kettle-cooked chips.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oh. My. Goodness.

Can we talk about the two events, in the last twelve hours, that have made me want to crawl under a chair and hide??? The first event should have been incredible. Jeremiah and Taylor (my sister) have been working on four or five songs that they would perform together at John David's (Taylor's husband) medical school class fundraiser. It was a fun goal to work towards for two really talented musicians--and I'm not biased or anything, they really are incredible.

Things were going along well until sometime Sunday afternoon when I heard John David say that this performance would be A) at Zydeco (a big bar downtown) and B) our two little John Denveresque performers would be playing between two full bands. Some scrounging around happened, and they were able to procure and practice with a bongo player...raising the cool level at least a little...a very little :)

Y'all I wish you could have been with me as I stepped through the double doors into this bar last night. It was a big room, painted solid black, with low ceilings, a large hoard of people banging their heads in front of the stage, and something akin to Marilyn Manson in cowboy boots screeching onstage with his shirt all the way unbuttoned. I looked over at Ashley and Josh (my BIL and SIL who came with me to support their brother) and said (screamed as loud as I could to be heard over the music), "I feel like I've walked into a very bad dream!"

When we found our two performers sitting by the stage, we all just had to laugh until we cried at what they were about to do. It felt like throwing my husband and sister to a pack of wolves as I smiled and held my big-fat-Mom-camera on the front row.

Even with the awkward music shift, I think we would have been ok, because they are that good--with their little harmonies and Taylor's siren voice and Jeremiah's banjo twangin' right stout--but there was no time for a soundcheck and the instruments were turned up WAY louder than their voices (which is probably ok if you're screeching like Van Halen, but not so much if you're trying to actually make beautiful sounds together), there was a massive amount of feedback on the monitors, and and and...the first song was just really, really bad y'all. There's no way around it. The kinks got worked out a lil' bit by the third song, but all in all, it made me mad that nobody could appreciate all their effort and talent because of a stupid sound system/sound mechanic (who Josh, I might add, was going toe-to-toe with in the back of the room and I thought we might have a brawl--sweet brother).

Ok, let's leave that event and head on with me to this morning...and THE spray tan. I have not been to the tanning bed When you're on a budget like we are, that's one little luxury that I said goodbye to without missing it too bad. However, I keep hearing about the wonders of the spray tan. No skin cancer or leather skin AND you can look tan, sign me up! Right? But, I was leery of the orange factor. Mom and I did a lot of experimenting with the self-tanners when I was inhighschool, and you can believe I had a disaster or two.

So the weddings (the only events in my life that might be worthy of splurging on a spray tan) have come and gone and I've shied away from the spray, scared that I might look like an Oompa-Lumpa in pictures that would be on somebody's wall for a lifetime. But this Saturday night, I have a real-live cocktail party to attend, and guess who's going to try and wear a backless dress? I took one look at my winter-white skin against the purple of the dress and decided it was time to brave the spray tan.

The lady I made my appointment with was super nice (and chatty) and I went ahead and asked her the question that I'd been even more nervous about than the orange-skin possibility..."What am I supposed to wear while you spray me???" Her answer, "Most people just wear panties so they won't have tan lines, but you might want to wear a thong..." "WWWWWHHHHAAAAATTTTTTT?????????!!!!!!!!!!!"

I marched in there this morning, (with Mary Aplin in tow, I might add) and I got down to my lil'est skivvies in a small room with a complete stranger. I was freezing cold, and as I stood with my arms and legs spread, and she spray-painted me, I laughed and laughed and laughed and asked her, "Do you ever wonder at the humiliation people (ME!) are willing to go through just to look a little bit prettier on one night??" She said, "I think about it all the time, now could you please squat a little so that you won't have smiley-faces under your butt cheeks?" AAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH! That was the lowest point of all.

After the spraying and drying was done, she asked me to follow her into a stand up tanning bed to help set the color in. I'd never been in a stand-up bed before (I know I'm really dating myself now), and as I stepped inside, still in front of a stranger in my little skivvies, still in the hairnet that she'd put on me, she stuck some stickers over my eyes that I could barely see through and asked me to step into, what looked like, a tall narrow cage and grab the straps above my head. I said, "Is this a torture chamber?" She just smiled and shut the door and I was blasted by blinding lights and 90 mile-per-hour winds blowing from above and below me.

I will say that, at least so far, this tan's lookin' pretty dang good, but is anything worth all that? I'll just be sittin' here in my loose fitting clothes, with spray gunk all over me, unable to bathe for the next 24 hrs. There's no way a tan back was worth that.

*Please read BKaminski's comment (the second comment). Oh, so hilarious!

**For those who feel left hangin' on Dapple's status (Did I actually let my daughter witness my humiliation?!): I asked, when I made my appointment if I could bring my 2yr old. I offered to come at night, baby free, but she said her Dad would be there to keep an eye on her, so bring her on! How accommodating was that? Mary Aplin was watching cartoons and eating a snack just on the other side of the evil door :) Seriously though, if you're in Birmingham and you want to brave the spray, this is a link to where I went and Shelley made it all as un-awkward as possible and did a great job...I think. I still haven't taken a shower to know for sure :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can It Get Any Better Than This?

I have a hard time transitioning from one stage of life to the next. Almost every transition I've ever made, I have a memory of a specific moment that I wept uncontrollably (some might call it a nervous breakdown :)) over the shift. I am sure most of my bridesmaids remember me standing in a parking lot during my bachelorette party and "weeping for my youth." Wasn't I a crazy-fun bachelorette ?! And Jeremiah can remember me crying and holding onto him every morning for a week, when he had to start back to work after a month of it being just us safe inside our little home, after we got married. Poor Pace had to endure a nine month pregnant elephant laying in bed with her and boo-hooing her whole naptime away over the thought of another baby coming to steal away our precious one-on-one life together. I could go on, but I think you get it. Change is hard for me.

However, not one of those changes was for the worse. Each one has brought more fulfillment, joy, and adventure to my life. So now, as I stare down the barrel of this next great shift, I find myself wondering yet again, "How can it get any better than this?"

I love our life. I love the normal routine of our day-to-day together. I love our friends, our home, our community. I love the person I've become by being secure in a great man's love for me. I love that I have found ways to express some of the creativity that I had to ignore for all those years of schooling. I am happy and thankful and content, down deep, where it counts--even though there are a lot of days (that I've shared with you all) when I'm discontent up here on the surface.
There are some things that I don't love, though, and, when I look at my little insignificant discontentments, I feel like they will all be fixed by one thing. One thing that I keep counting on being there when all this training finally ends------money. It's ugly to admit isn't it? It feels bad to admit that I want some of that stuff. But lately, especially as I've gone through Ecclesiastes, I've started to wonder if all these little discontentments I think I'm going to fix when Jeremiah can finally practice on his own, are really going to bring me more joy. Maybe even the opposite.

Let me stop philosophizing and give some literal examples:

Discontentment A: I wish I had more room in our home so that I could entertain our friends and family more comfortably.
Realization A: All our friends and family have fit just fine so far. More than just fine! How many of your best memories involve being crammed in a house that's too small, which led to everyone being "forced" to be together? There is something to be said for the intimacy that's created when we can't each run away to our separate rooms and have "our own space." Just a couple of nights ago at dinner, each person around our big round table shared that their best memories of childhood were either in a lakehouse with only a few rooms, an in-between home where everybody had to share rooms, or a grandparents' house with cousins wonderfully oozing out of every crevice. The one thing each great memory shared, was the fact that there was not enough space! SO WHY DO I WANT TO BUILD A BIG DREAMHOUSE???
Discontentment B: I wish I could afford to buy a new outfit now and then, instead of always having to raid poor Ashley's closet every time I have an event (To the point where each Christmas present she opened this year, she actually turned to me and said, "Look Abby, we got a new dress!").

Realization B: Even if I filled 20 closets with designer clothes I couldn't wait to wear, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun as the countless laughs I've shared with Ashley as I pilfered and tried on all her clothes and heard her say, "Abby, I promise, your butt's supposed to look like that in that outfit!" or even the honesty of, "Take that off immediately!" :)
Discontentment C: I wish I could afford to get a babysitter a little more often.

Realization C: We've drawn closer to each other during all our time together, and our family has been there time and again to offer help and relief.

Discontentment D: I wish I could step outside my door and see nothing but rolling hills and blue sky. I wish my children could run and play in woods, just outside our back door.

Realization D: If I have countryside, I sacrifice community. I lose the ability to walk across the street to Lauren's, in my robe, at 7am on a Saturday morning to borrow syrup, because I started making pancakes before I realized we were out. I miss the opportunity to help Ashley J. with her boys when a migraine knocks her to her knees. I miss stepping outside on sunny summer afternoons and listening for which backyard the laughter is coming from, so that we can go join in.

I'll stop now, but do you see what I mean? I'm not sure how the next stage can get any better than where we are right now. I'm not sure that having the money to chase our dreams, is going to bring joy instead of headache. Now, our family does a lot for us--to make things easier, to provide those meals-out, those new outfits, and even television! I am ready to feel like we can afford to live just like we do now, without everybody feeling like they need to help us. Wouldn't it feel nice for Ashley to come to my closet for once, or to take my Dad out to eat, or to buy a present for Mrs. Linda that is at all comparable to the gifts she gives me? Yes. Money would help with those things. But the essence of our lives now, the simplicity...I'm mourning it. I'm afraid it can't get any better than this.

Monday, January 18, 2010

You Know You Need More Adult Conversation When:

We had a lot of fun this weekend. Jeremiah was on call (Which I've learned to love now that he's a 5th year resident, because it means we have to stay close to home, but he usually doesn't get called in too much.) and we had lots of friends and family stop in to visit, or stay the night, or eat, or play music:
There were also some very unusual dancers spotted:
While all the craziness was fun, my favorite part of the weekend was Friday night, after the tiny dancers were put to bed. Two of Jeremiah's best friends (since high school kind of best friends) were in town for a big Christian conference. They had just listened to, and been enthralled by a man who went through Genesis 1 and attempted to reconcile it with science.

There were six of us grown-ups cozy in our den, with a fire popping in the fireplace, and drinks in our hands, as we talked through the thoughts and feelings we'd held on Genesis as children and as adults. We had the minds of two medicine men and one archaeologist amongst us, who shed new light on all sorts of ideas and concepts that I had either never known or forgotten. Things like macro vs. micro evolution, mutation at the cellular level, moths in England who changed colors, The Flood and what that meant for turtles and people groups :)...But to spend a Friday night in adult, mind stimulating conversation, with people who love the Lord and wanted to spend a weekend night probing His mysteries, was just magnificent...and I told them so as we all filed off to bed.

The next morning at breakfast, the tiny dancers were back and the adults were trying to have grown-up conversation, but it was frustrating as always. So I, in an attempt to join the two worlds, looked at Pace and Mary Aplin and said, "Show Tommy and Justin the monkey faces we've been working on!"
Then, I proceeded to, very seriously, show them mine, and ask to see theirs.Tommy looked at me and said, "Just last night you were telling us how wonderful it was to have some adult conversation...and look where you're leading our conversation now!" :) I think this picture may prove that macro-evolution is, indeed, possible! (I am totally kidding, and if you don't get that little joke, don't worry, I'm the one who had to ask somebody to explain what the difference in those were on Friday night. Here's what wicki has to say, if you want to know.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Good and Bad of Anonymity

First those recipes some of you asked about:Berry Fruit Salad (from Melissa): 2 bags (4c) frozen mixed berries, 1 1/2 c. vanilla Yogurt, 3 oranges peeled and thinly sliced, 1/3 cup OJ, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 c. chopped toasted walnuts (This is what the recipe calls for, but I always just eyeball it.)

Combine fruit and nuts. Mix OJ, yogurt and honey and fold into fruit mixture.

Chicken Salad (not a recipe, but what I do): Pull meat from a Rotisserie Chicken and chop. Cut up a few celery sticks and pulverize in the food processor. Toast some slivered almonds. Combine chicken, celery, and nuts with salt and pepper. Make a hole in middle of chicken mixture and put a dollop of mayo much smaller than you think you need. Squeeze a lemon into the mayo and stir. Finally, stir all that chicken into the mayo, and maybe add a small dollop more if it isn't sticking together.

Scones: I blogged the recipe here.

Now, the blog for today :) Sometime this summer, I learned one of the major negatives of anonymity (Try to say that three times in a row, fast. I can't even say it once, now that I've been trying to figure out how to spell it.). I got a letter in the mail that was addressed to me and had the return address of the house I grew up in. I thought it was from one of my sisters at first and found it strange that they'd typed me a letter and cut it out all funky. It began, "Greetings from Dothan b!*%h." I thought, "Wow, somebody's feeling kinda spunky!" As I read on, I quickly realized that it was NOT one of my sisters, but instead some anonymous person who, apparently, hates me.

It was, quite possibly, the most ridiculous thing I have ever read, and Jeremiah and I have both laughed until we've cried about the things this person thinks of me. I can, at least, take comfort in the fact that they know me not at all if they were trying to hurt my feelings by the things they said. I have plenty of insecurities, but this person did not hit on one of them. I am almost tempted to type it here so that you can all laugh with me, but somehow, I'm afraid that might give my quasi-stalker some satisfaction--and that I do not intend to do.

This past weekend, I learned one of the beautiful sides of anonymity. I drove home for one of Caroline's wedding showers. It was a very quick trip and as I hopped out of the car (on the way home) to get gas in Montgomery I almost threw away a blank white envelope that I had, apparently, been sitting on for the last hour and a half. I decided to just peek inside before I tossed it, and what I found was FOUR TWENTY DOLLAR BILLS!!!!!! and Jeremiah 29:11 typed on a small sheet of paper:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

What in the world?!!! How absolutely, marvelously, sweet was that??!!! I called a bunch of people I thought might be suspects, but none of them were the doers of the good deed. It's just wondrously anonymous...I don't do things like that, do you? It's sad to admit, but I like to see people's reaction when I do something nice...which, I don't know that I've ever done anything that nice. My Dad said he thought it was God sending me gas money for making the effort to come down for Caroline's shower. I think it was God sending me the money for that tea-set :) I don't know, but I certainly am so thankful, and the bursts of happiness it has given me over the past week, have made me want to do the same thing for somebody else.

Saying all that, I've decided that I want to allow people to comment anonymously on this blog again. I know there will be some bad parts to that, but I've seen there's some good in it too. I really miss some of you faithful anonymous commentors from way-back-when. And, if you feel the need to tell me something mean, I'd much rather you go ahead and post it here, than send it to my real mailbox (which is kind of creepy).

Hooray for sweet anonymous people!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'...and Night

Saturday morning was crisp and bright, and I wasn't sure my south Alabama body was going to be able to handle the shock of 14 degree weather. But Ashley reminded me that I wasn't an 85-year-old woman who couldn't leave the house because of the weather, so I bundled myself and the girls and we headed to our first estate sale.

Ashley grabbed breakfast and coffee for our little group and we were on our way to the big event by 7:45am. Quite a feat for us on a Saturday! Have you ever been to an estate sale? I hadn't. I thought I was going to walk up to an enormous house, with antique furniture scattered all over the yard, and hordes of people lined up since dawn--trying to be the first to plunder through the mess, looking for the diamond in the rough. What I got (at this particular sale, anyway), was a lot of people crammed in a small house, with a little old woman (who I at first thought was the unfortunate owner of the home being plundered before her eyes) collecting money on the couch. I almost turned around and walked right back out, it was so heart-breaking.

I'd left the girls in the car eating their breakfast (don't come arrest me), and I knew I should not stay inside longer than five minutes. I walked past the people pilfering through the poor woman's CLOSET looking at her clothes (still hanging there like she was just on vacation), and headed straight back to the kitchen where I was this:I have wanted one of my own for ever-so-long. A silver tea service. Every time I give a birthday party or host book-club, I borrow Ashley's or Lauren's. I've looked at them on-line. Tried e-bay, but they were all $500 or $600...and that was just way too much for such a little extravagance. So, I tucked the dream in the back of my mind for another day, until I was accosted by the site of this old girl.

There wasn't a price tag, and I was scared to even ask. I just knew once they told me, I'd walk away disappointed again. I found someone official looking and asked the price. Are you ready for this? $125!!!!!!!! Tray and all!! Still I hesitated. "We don't have the money. I shouldn't spend it. My heart's beating really fast. It's William Rogers silver. I know it's the real deal. I know it's a great deal. All the tea parties we could have....Aggghhh" Finally, I just did it. I stopped thinking and just purchased. I even got up enough courage (through Ashley) to be a haggler and offer $100. The little old lady nodded her agreement to my price, and I felt like I was absolutely robbing her.

As I walked out to the car, bearing my purchase proudly in my hands, with a smile spread across my face, I heard loud squealing from inside the car. I quickened my step, worried something was wrong with my little breakfast eaters, but when I got the door open (somewhat awkwardly with such a big rattling tray) I saw it was Pace, squealing in sheer delight, "Is it ours?!" she asked. "All ours," I grinned back. "Can we have a tea party?" "Absolutely!"

We made Ashley our guest of honor, since she was responsible for getting us all to the estate sale in the first place. Then we spent the drive home planning exactly what we would serve at our tea party. I bore her proudly into our home and set her down on the dining room table, at eye level with two happy little girls, so that they could really inspect the shiny new wonder. "Momma," Pace said reverently, "can we sing Happy Birthday?" I smiled at my little mini-me. I knew precisely what she meant. It was her birthday, even though she was born many years ago. It was her first birthday in our family.

All three of us sang and laughed at the silliness of it all. Then we made our grocery list and headed out to procure the vitals. We made chicken saladAnd cut out our sandwich bread, since little ladies never eat crust :)We made our favorite fruit saladAnd what would a tea be, without scones?Sadly, our guest of honor was on call, and the hospital was more demanding than we were. So, when night had just dipped her mantle over our little home, we gathered at a tiny white table in a room filled with the baubles of childhood, and we had our tea by candlelight.I delighted in serving my closest friends on our very finest, and we welcomed our new tea service with a maiden voyage that was the best we could dream together.And I determined, it was worth every single one of those hundred dollars we spent.

Friday, January 8, 2010

That Solomon is a Pretty Smart Guy

Do you avoid certain books of the Bible? Maybe not on purpose, but are there those books that you always flip through and never actually read? I do. And one of those books was Ecclesiastes. Doesn't that just sound like it's filled with a whole lot of old testament laws that don't necessarily apply to us in today's society? That's exactly what I told Jeremiah the other morning at breakfast when I asked him what book he wanted me to read from and he said, "Let's do Ecclesiastes."

He laughingly pointed out that he thought I was confusing it with Leviticus. Dad, are you cringing right now? Apparently I don't know my Bible like I should :) Anywho, we gave the unintentionally avoided Ecclesiastes a go, and now I am loving it. If God promises to make someone the wisest man to ever live, it might be a good idea to listen to what they have to say:
So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself,...I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never be anyone like you, nor will there ever be." 1 Kings 3:11-12

I'll pre-warn you that it starts off pretty depressing, but I came to this yesterday morning and it has stuck in my heart so deeply:
Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a gift from God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:19-20

What better gift could there be?!!! I want that! How often do I remind myself that here, in this home, with a husband and children to tend, is exactly what I've always longed for... And how often do I bang around in my discontentment? Literally bang. Bang the dishes in the sink (because I feel like I've washed 10,000 of them already that day), bang the car door (because I feel like I've strapped 95 carseats over the course of three "quick" errands), banged the girls' bedroom door closed (because I've told them to be quiet and take a nap for the hundredth time). I don't want to bang around! I want to be "occupied with gladness of heart" because of how richly He has blessed me...and most of all how much He loves me.

So yesterday, I reflected on those verses as I cleaned the mud off Pace's back from her attempt to make a snow angel--even though none of the snow was sticking to the ground.
I reflected on them while I learned the hard way that galoshes don't only trap compacted snow in their crevices but also dirt and grime--that gets tracked throughout the house.
I reflected on them while I cleaned up the diarrhea Locks had all over the one rug in our house (I think he developed a nervous stomach after guarding the girls in their state of snow hysteria in the front yard).

I reflected on them during Pace's sassy attitude and during Mary Aplin's constant shenanigans :)But I must say that there are lots of moments, when it is ever-so-easy to be thankful for right where I am:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Time

Have y'all forgotten that we're moving to Seattle in July? I have. It seemed so far away in time and space that it just wasn't real. I've also learned about myself, that I can decrease my naturally high level of stress by categorizing things in my mind and sticking a date on them for when it is time to start worrying about that particular gorilla. The "Selling our House and Finding a Home is Seattle" category had a date of January 1. So, I'd been able to forget, sort of, until now.
Now, I've been scouring the internet, pestering every friend of a friend who lives over there, and emailing pictures and prices to my husband day and night. I just started and already he gets a glazed-over expression every time the word "house" comes to my lips--knowing that a long list of pros and cons is about to spill out of my mouth.
You see, I love houses. I think my love has multiplied because in almost every old book I read (and you all know there are a lot of them :)), the homes are characters unto themselves. They are such a part of the family and life and heart of the characters, that you cannot separate them. Somehow, I've started to feel this way too. Have you ever noticed that when I post about my house, I refer to her as a her. It's because she most certainly is a lady. At times cantankerous, occasionally in need of correction, but always a sturdy and loving accomplice to our lives.
Can you sense how hard it's going to be for me to pick a new place to live? Especially when you factor in that the cost of living in Seattle seems to be around double what it is here in Birmingham? I started searching in our current price range and found that we would be living in, what looked like, government housing :).
And another thing...a thing I hesitate to share with you...a thing I've been pondering in my heart. Oh well, I'll just admit it. I've made it my goal to finish my book while we're in Seattle. I feel like God has sort of carved out this time and place for just that goal. Both the girls will be in "school" for at least a few hours a couple of days a week. Jeremiah is probably going to be working a lot. Then there is Seattle itself--rainy, and full of good coffee and old book shops...whenever I picture us living there, I see myself sitting at a desk, with a hot cup of coffee warming my hands, gazing out a rain-splashed window at the city and ocean and mountain peaks in the distance, with my book growing steadily day by day in front of me.
I hope you all remind me of this next year, when I'm living the same 'ol hectic life, just in another town :) But seriously, if I'm going to write that book, I've got to find just the right little hovel to love us all for that year. I know she's out there waiting...she may even be a he this never know!
If there's anyone out there with any Seattle suggestions, I'd be ever so thankful.

**I took all those pictures on our last trip to Seattle, which I wrote about, if you care to read, here and here. I talk about why we're moving there, here and here, in case you're new around here :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Got A Minute...or an Hour?

I know everybody is over and done with Christmas, but since I didn't blog at all during this Christmas season and since this blog is the only family scrapbook we have, you're going to have to endure Christmas for just one more post :)

Lest anyone forget, Caroline is still gettin' married, and we're still celebratin'!

And servin'! :)
Speaking of Christmas cards ;), I cannot sing the praises of Brooke Chamblee enough!!!!!!!! She designed and printed our Christmas cards this year, did it lickety split and at a GREAT price. I am just sick I didn't get it together enough to share the secret of her with you before you all did your Christmas cards but don't FEAR! She also does invitations, birth announcements, and all manner of other creative and beautiful things. Check out her etsy site and her blog!
We had a pretty special visitor three nights before Christmas. Santa was taking a trial run over the Birmingham metro area, and he decided to stop in to visit two little girls that had been especially good this year.

This was Pace's reaction when she saw his big red suit filling our doorway. Can you sense the awe mixed with fear? She immediately turned and fled to the back of the house :) It reminded me of the way we want to hide from our sin. I hope that it's not wrong to compare Santa with Christ, but to Pace at that moment, there was a visible presence standing before her who knew just exactly how naughty or nice she'd been. That's what she said when I came to coax her out of the room, "Mommy, is he going to be mad at me?"

Mary Aplin, on the other hand (who had a lot more sin she should have been concerned about :)), looked at him like he was just another curious visitor popping in for the night. No fear. Just, "Wuz up? You're kind of funny lookin'"
Santa had a helper with him, and after about fifteen minutes of good talk, both girls had warmed up considerably.
This was the gift he brought, and after he gave it to her, Pace ran away again. This time she returned on her own with her favorite princess stamp that she wanted to give him as a present. She said, "Will you take this back to the North Pole with you?"
I'm about to make another Christ comparison, but it's just so dead on I can't help myself. In awe of his grace for all her faults, her immediate response was an impulsive need to give.

"Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne..." Revelation 4:9-10

Santa returned on Christmas Eve. He didn't say hello in person this time, but he did leave this note, and a little stamp :)
Then, on Christmas morning, we had enough food to feed the five thousand, even though there were only fifteen of us crammed happily into our cozy home.
This was taken just before the singing began, and I disappeared down to the basement to START wrapping presents :)
After brunch and singing, we opened presents with the Maddox family (I think poor Ashley was still in the kitchen doing dishes.)
Christmas night we celebrated with the Clark family, and it began with a beautiful dinner at Taylor and John David's house.
I feel like we try every year, since losing Mom, to make our traditions more and more different. This was definitely the best so far. We ate lamb and couscous (How gourmet is that?! I'd never even eaten lamb before), and then John David led some very adult discussion about the birth of our Savior by handing out selections from literature and the Bible for each family member to read aloud and then discuss. It was such a sweet and reverent time, and was a great way to lead into...
...CRAZY present opening time :)
And to wrap up this crazy disjointed post, here's the only pictures I took from Jeremiah's week of New Year's vacation when we all spent the whole time wallering around his parent's farm with the stomach bug...stomach virus...stomach curse...stomach hell, really, I think would be the best way to say it.
I adore this old car.Jeremiah asked me recently, if I could have any car in the world what it would be. This is what I said. An old MG that runs like a brand new car.
This is one that Dr. Maddox (with a little help from Jeremiah and Josh when they were little) fixed up. It runs well, but not well enough that I am brave enough to DRIVE it instead of just riding in it :)How quickly do you think I'd be arrested if I got my dream car and you saw me driving down the road with this kind of safety going on in the backseat? Not even a seatbelt between 'em.

And finally, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!