Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Food, Wine, Art, and Friends

There are lots of things I'm going to miss about Birmingham, but one of them will definitely be the Magic City Art Connection, held each spring in Linn Park. 002
We started going years ago, because Jeremiah's Aunt Jeannie (who is an artist), always had a booth there. {And if you clicked on that link to see Jeannie's art, you should know that they are paintings and not photographs. AMAZING and hard to believe :)}
This was the first year she and Uncle Sam didn't make the trip, so instead of hanging out with them and perusing art (and taking care of the chicken wings) the whole afternoon,...
Ashley asked if I wanted to have a little girls' time at Corks and Chefs. 028 Every year I've walked by the big white tent where some of Birmingham's top chefs are working their culinary magic...and pouring tastes of wine to pair with their entrees...and wished I could be cool enough to be on the inside of the orange fence. This year I was! But guess who wasn't :)
015 It's like the Great Wall of China! I felt kind of sad, talking to the "little people" on the other side. Jeremiah was really sweet to offer to keep the girls, even though he had been on call all weekend. They painted head-bands in the kid section of the art festival (which is why Pace is looking like a ninja warrior).
021 And since I was foot-loose and fancy free, I remembered someone else who was supposed to be having a child-free weekend and seemed to love food almost as much as Ashley and me--Darby! I called her on the off chance that she hadn't flown back to her little nest, and she hadn't. I convinced her to come and experience Corks and Chefs with us.
We had so much fun, that we couldn't stand for it to end even when the chefs had all packed up their goodies.
038 So, I sheepishly text Jeremiah to ask if we could meet Berkley (who was just coming into town) for half-price Sunday night sushi at Jinsei.
044 He said YES!!! And we sat outside and gorged ourselves a lil' bit longer :) And talked and laughed (and finished sentences! which is something I feel like I never get to do when the little girls are around).
045 I came home feeling more refreshed than I've felt in a long time. It could have had something to do with this piece of heaven (Y'all it's kind of scary how much I love food):
But mainly it was just good girl time. You need that every once in a while. Thanks Jeremiah!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Boxes, Bending, and Bunnies

It's time. We have officially found a home to rent in Seattle (at least I think it's official, since I've mailed a contract and deposit check) that we are extremely excited about, and as I look at the accumulation in our basement from the last seven years of living, I decided it was time to start chipping away. The girl's clothes were my first task:008 I've been emptying Pace and Mary Aplin's drawers, at the end of each season, into huge Tupperware bins. Then, I pilfer through all the bins to try and find the clothes in Mary Aplin's size that once belonged to Pace. I've been sickened by some of the little outfits Dapples has missed out on wearing because of my lazy organization. So, now that I don't want to move a whole bunch of clothes we don't need to Seattle, I decided it was high time I get organized...and it only took me three days to do it :)
021 It might have gone faster if it weren't for my strong emotional attachment to clothes. I mean, I feel like I'm on my way to becoming one of those scary "hoarders" you see on television. But, when each outfit represents either a love gift or a precious relic of childhood
032 Or, most especially this. The last dress my Mom ever made, and the only little dress she ever got to make for Mary Aplin. I could just picture her sun-warmed hands--oval tips with little nicks from where she always bit at her hangnails, making each stitch with love...even though she was hurting so bad.

030 And I'm going to tell you that I went ahead and laid down on the floor and cried over this one. Cried about her hands, and the fact that she doesn't know the little personality she was making this dress for, and the pain of knowing my sisters won't have one of these treasures made especially by her, especially for the bundles they'll welcome one day...

SO, you get an idea for why it took me so long to get those clothes organized!

We've also still been doing P90X bright and shiny at 5ish every morning. We're just about done with week 3, and Taylor and Ashley have been troopers to get up even earlier to pack bags and drive over to my house each morning.

Yesterday was the first morning we wimped out. Rest was simply needed, by one and all, so we skipped the early morning and pledged to each individually do the day's work-out on our own. For me that meant that Pace and Mary Aplin got to do a little yoga :)
They were hilarious!
I know Pace, I don't know how they expect us to hold that position either.
Mary Aplin didn't stay interested quite as long as sister; she disappeared to partake of her newest guilty pleasure--WASHING HER FACE IN THE TOILET!!! It's happened around twice a day for the last week. What in the world?! Each time she comes walking up to me, soaking wet, with a big grin on her face--like I'm NOT going to spank her this time. This time I will surely understand how much fun it is and not be mad!
014 After an hour and a half of some hard core YogaX, an intermittent disciplinary action, and a lot of giggles about the contortions Mommy was getting herself into, we all wanted to do this along with Dapples:
And one more final thing that we've been enjoying around here lately:
I remember loving this story as a little girl (which is why I checked it out from the library while Pace was busy pouring over her dinosaurs), but when I read it to the girls a few days ago, it was my first time to re-visit the story as an adult. Y'all I boo-hooed. Maybe I was already geared up from all those depressing baby clothes, but what a beautiful picture of salvation this story is!

My friend Lanier recently wrote about her experience of glimpsing salvation in another story, The Lord of the Rings. She captures so perfectly what I felt about this story that I think I'll quote her instead of muddling through my own explanation:

"The Lord of the Rings is not a perfect allegory or anything of that sort, any more than Lewis’ Narnia was. And that’s why I love it so, why I believe it carries such power at its heart. He doesn’t spell everything out for us; he doesn’t merely recast true but familiar stories in a different mold. He makes us think, and ache and search—he speaks first to our hearts and then our heads, in a way that, for me at least, was a humbling and intensely personal experience."

The following excerpts are from Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit:
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.

I am not suggesting that we place The Velveteen Rabbit on the same plane as The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, but the way it spoke to my heart--not as a perfect allegory (in fact, I'm not even sure the author is a Christian) but to truths and beauties that my heart aches to see, was something profound.

That night he was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love stirred in his little sawdust heart that it almost burst. And into his boot-button eyes, that had long ago lost their polish, there came a look of wisdom and beauty, so that even Nana noticed it next morning when she picked him up and said, "I declare if that old Bunny hasn't got quite a knowing expression!"
And something I'm thankful to plant in my girls' hearts. I smiled at the thought that they too would one day get to experience this story as an adult and have my same epiphany--"So that's why I loved this story so much. I couldn't have understood the deep meanings, but my heart longed for the truth it conveyed."
028"Little Rabbit," she said, "don't you know who I am?"
The Rabbit looked up at her, and it seemed to him that he had seen her face before, but he couldn't think where.
"I am the nursery magic fairy," she said. "I take care of the playthings that the children have loved. When they are old and worn out and the children don't need them anymore, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into Real."...
And she kissed the little Rabbit again and put him down on the grass....
He was a Real Rabbit at last, at home with the other rabbits.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Just One Little Chicken Wing

Sorry for the long absence last week. Our internet was down, and I was forced to abandon all things web-related--IT WAS AWESOME! (I have no idea why these words are underlined but I can't make it stop.) I read a book in its entirety in my "spare" moments, instead of stalking a lot of other people's lives and documenting our own. I'm not saying I wasn't having withdrawals, but it was oddly freeing.

On to today. This past weekend Mary Aplin went to Dothan with Moogie and Popon while Pace stayed here in Birmingham with Jeremiah and me. I've always thought that it would be good for kids to have one-on-one time with their parents and grand-parents, but it's a hard concept to put into practice. When the grandparents offer to take the kids for the weekend it's hard to say, "No, no. Just take one and we'll keep the other." (That way neither one of us will have a kid-free weekend :), YAY!). This time though, Pace had a birthday party that she really wanted to stay in town for, and Mary Aplin was (like always) rarin' for adventure.

Y'all, it turned out to be such a sweet thing! To have Pace, all to ourselves was so fun. It was like I could see her blossoming under the undivided attention, and it was easier to be her friend instead of her just her Mom. On Saturday, I gave her the day. We got dressed up (and she picked out my dress to match hers :)), and I even let her wear a little lipstick and blush--since it was a girley day.

I learned some things over the course of the day, that I'd like to share:

1) I need to start reading more advanced books to Pace instead of always reading to the girls together.

One of the stops on our day was the library, where Pace wanted check out every scientific book on dinosaurs. Dinosaurs! What? Who knew? I was skeptical as she asked, "Aren't there dinosaurs who eat insects? I want a book about those." or "This one with the Tyranosaurus Rex looks scary; I want it!" But she listened intently as I read each detailed book. I've been way under-estimating her little mind...and being lazy because it's a lot easier to read a princess book that both she AND Dapples can understand. So, apparently, my girley-girl is in to dinosaurs.

2) My child had no concept of limited resources, and she NEEDS to learn.

I took Pace shopping at Old Navy, because I realized I'd never taken her shopping before. As in, let her pick out clothes she likes, try them on, and then buy a couple of them. COUPLE being the key word. She had zero problem having an opinion and style all her own (my dinosaur lover refused to try on anything but dresses and skirts...and swimsuits and shoes and shoes AND SHOES). As I staggered into the dressing room with the large load of her selections, she insisted that she loved each thing she tried on.

Me: Ok Pace, you have to pick. You can either have this swimsuit or this one.
Pace: But I like them both. I want them both.
Me: I am so glad you like them both but they cost money and we don't have enough money to buy both. You have to pick one.
Pace: But Mom, I love them BOTH.

I could not stop laughing. I've been wondering why my child acts like a brat at Christmas, ripping from one present to the next. IT'S BECAUSE SHE THINKS EVERYTHING SHE LIKES IS HERS!

At the end of the shopping extravaganza (which, while confused at this new concept of limits, I must say she never pitched a fit or really even whined), I explained that this is the reason Daddy works so hard. To make money, so that we can have clothes to wear and food to eat. She asked for the phone from the backseat, to call Jeremiah. And yall, it was the sweetest little conversation of thanks I've ever heard.

3) It is not ok to take your 4-year-old to a PG-13 comedy at the movie theatre.

Pace wanted to go on a real date (with Jeremiah and me) on Saturday night. I rented her a movie at the library and was planning leftovers and home-movie night, but she asked so sweetly to go to the real movies (and let's be honest, I understood her pain--since there are very few things I like more than buttered popcorn and diet coke at the movie theatre) that we caved. We were treating her for this one day after all.

However, we could not bring ourselves to fork over the large amounts of cash that it requires to see a movie as a family for something we didn't really want to see (like a cartoon about dragons). So we took our 4 year old to see Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Let me say first that it was stinkin' hilarious, and Jeremiah and I are still quoting some of the lines from the movie to each other, but there was a STRIP CLUB SCENE at the end of the movie. Nnns-K?! I tried to distract her by talking to her. Jeremiah tried covering her eyes, but the fact was she saw it. It was PG-13, so it wasn't like it was that bad, but still...the dance moves.

And just as the scene closed on the stripper-pole, Pace whispered to me with urgency, "Mom, I've GOT to go to the potty!" Please God no. Please don't make me parade from the back of the theatre and across the front with my 4-year-old as everyone is looking and judging. But it happened just like that. I actually heard one woman gasp in horror as we tiptoed by her chair. I was humiliated, and I deserved every minute of it :)

At dinner later that night, I asked Pace what her favorite part of the movie was. And here is her classic answer that made Jeremiah and me nearly fall out of the booth with laughter:
"I really liked that part when they did those funny dances and licked the pole."

Day complete. My daughter is for sure going to hang up the dream of being a paleontologist, to dance on a stripper pole.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Work Weekend 2010

Our house is "Under Contract" with some good friends of ours, who are planning to move into our nest when we fly out to Seattle this summer. We had an inspection done on this 'ol house, and there were several little (nagging, annoying, time-sucker) projects that we wanted to address before our friends take over. With Jeremiah's (all-consuming) work schedule lately, we were starting to get a little panicky about how we were going to knock out all these jobs. SO, this weekend we called in the troops! Tommy (of Tolleson Construction if you live in the Dothan area and need some re-modeling done, house built, or a cute single guy to show up on your doorstep :)...), who is Jeremiah's best friend:
041 Josh, Jeremiah's brother:

And Steer Wrestler extraordinaire:
011 And the rest of Jeremiah's family--Dr. and Mrs. Maddox, Ashley, and Alex (who I am kicking myself for not taking a group picture of, but here is Dr. Maddox at least):062 They came in with trucks and tools and trailers and the work ethic of a Spartan army, and conquered all our little projects in a single Saturday, like it was no big deal. I can't tell you how great a weight it took off our shoulders! I'm thinking we might not even move out now (just kidding James and Stephanie :))!

The girls helped me start the process of sorting through all the (books, clothes, furniture, karate gear, picture frames...) JUNK stored in our basements and closets while the guys clambered from the roof to the basement to the yard to the broken down Honda Accord sitting in front of our house, and several places in between.

On Saturday night we went out to a nice dinner to celebrate all the success, and then on Sunday we did a little clean up before we headed out to Oak Mountain, where Josh (who was on his way home from a rodeo when he stopped in) just happened to have a couple of horses for us to ride:

And our friends Steven and Lindsey brought their three little kiddos for some music:
Dancing:060 Flower Picking:

And a little more horseback riding:

It was a blast, but I think it's safe to say that last night we were ALL tuckered out:



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Round Here

I've quit the spray tan and the curling iron, cold turkey.Easter10 006
It was hard on me at Easter, but I did it. Has anybody ever made a good Easter picture? I mean it's "Spring" and your ready to bust out in a Springy dress...but your skin isn't. Unless you've been in the tanning bed or gettin' sprayed, you weren't ready either, were you? But I bet you still sported your white legs and convinced yourself it wasn't that bad. I do it every year, and I never learn. That's why you can't see my legs in this picture, and we're in the forgiving shade :)

Because in our natural state, Dapples and I could both be extras in the Twilight movies:
Easter10 021
Easter10 015
On to something besides skin and hair (what am I blabbering about today?!). We've been reveling in this gorgeous spring weather. Climbing trees:
Easter10 041
Or, in Mary Aplin's case, trying really hard to climb trees:
Easter10 039
We've also been hanging out with little Lucy:033

AND Taylor and Ashley have been gracing my door each morning at 5am!!!
BIGWeekend 013
to do P90X.

It's kicking my BUTT...and my biceps, and abs, and lats, and calves....This morning (at 4:50!) as I winced trying to get my arms and legs into my workout clothes, Jeremiah said, "Do you think it's worth it if you're going to be in a bad mood all the time?" HaHa. Soooo funny. Only 86 more days to go!