Thursday, August 26, 2010

Get Ready...

...Cause I have a bone to pick.

Let me begin this post by saying, "I am NOT at a good place with my children." We have traded a life filled with Aunts, Uncles, Grand-parents, Great-grandparents, and friends who have loved on and invested in our children, for a life on our own out here on the West coast. We know it is going to be good for us, but the repercussions of that choice at this very moment are a little...much. I have learned that my girls have grown accustomed to a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT more attention than I am physically able to offer.

In practical application in my life it looks like this: Jeremiah has a strenuous new job, so it's my----(cross) opportunity to show him we're in this together by taking on the girls in their entirety. Yes, amen. He needs me. I want to be here. B.U.T there's the real issue of the tee-ninciness of this apartment, the fact that Mary Aplin has been like a cantankerous, leaky faucet to potty train, the foreign nature of a new big city, and the lack of another loving family member to absorb some of the girls' energy/attention/education/need to be in the spotlight/HELP!!! to deal with.

Those first two paragraphs are the intro. I just don't want you to think I'm talking to you from some mother-of-the-year-who-adores-every-last-ounce-of-her-children high horse. My children have embarrassed me in public and harassed me in private more in the past month, than they have in their entire lives combined...but, they're still my two favorite little people on the earth. Which is why I want to say this:



There are a handful of restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama that I would not take my children for dinner. Because they are expensive, or have white table-cloths, or have a bar filled with rowdy people that I don't want them exposed to. A handful. However, here in Seattle I feel like every restaurant we approach, I have to walk inside, with my proverbial hat in my hands and ask, "Is it alright for my children to eat here???" And 8 times out of ten....they tell me, "No, sorry. No kids here." And I walk back out with a red face, muttering under my breath about how embarrassing that was, and wishing that I could try Seattle sans babies and see if it sets me ablaze.

Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, because I have yet to find a "cheap" restaurant in Seattle either...except for good 'ol Taco Bell and McDonalds. However, even a drive-through chain, you know the ones that grace every street corner (to the point of being eye-sores) in the South, are extremely hard to find here. How many times have you had to use a GPS system to find MickeyD's? Because that's the only way you'll find one here in Seattle. And you can snicker about me being so desperate to find McDonalds, but you just think about being out and about after a hair-brained morning, finally getting both girls strapped into their car seats, and then think about having to 1) find an open parking space big enough for your big 'ol SUV 2) parallel park 3) pay (with the cash you never have) for your parking space 4) undo both girls from their carseats as cars whizz by your precariously open door 5)and then walking with your whiney, hungry children that several blocks back to the cute but (hopefully) inexpensive local restaurant you just passed...YOU'D BE GPS'ING A DRIVE-THROUGH TOO!

Why can't Pace and Mary Aplin come with Jeremiah and me to dinner anywhere in Seattle that is not a chain?

Do you think children are disruptive? Do you think they are more disruptive than that loud drunk guy who almost spilled his drink all over me?

Do you think they are distracting? Do you think they are more distracting than that man with hairy legs wearing a short white tennis skirt with tall black socks?

Do you think they are messy? Are they more messy than that woman's dog underneath her table with its tongue hanging out of his mouth?

I know that some children are un-ruly and my children probably shouldn't be allowed in public at this particular point in time either, but I say--Let the parents make that call! Then, if they don't make a good decision, you have every right to ask them to please excuse themselves (and here is your food in a doggie bag). But, don't act like my children are lower class citizens than the dogs you allow to crouch underneath the table. They are marvelous little people, who I would prefer to spend an evening with over almost any adult I know. And you hurt my feelings.


I feel like society has some things confused, and this rant comes after finding myself stepping in line with society. After the embarrassment of being turned away from several restaurants and the hesitation to go into another for fear of facing the same fate, I found myself wondering (laughingly) how our parents would feel if we just shipped the girls home for a couple of months and really experienced Seattle.

Then, today I heard some info-mercial on PBS saying, "...because families are made for FUN..." And it hit me like a nine-pound hammer: God--the supreme being who spoke the whole universe into existence--instituted marriage and the family. He created us for fun, for purpose, for the satisfying life that He intended. I am not weird for wanting my children by my side as we experience life--that's exactly what God intended. How can we expect to foster confident, loving children if we don't delight in their fellowship and love their company (Is anybody else channeling Edith Schaeffer :))?

Now you know why I started this blog the way I did. At this particular moment, Jeremiah has taken the girls to get ice cream because I could not take one more minute of togetherness :)... I understand that couples need date night (I more than most, I think!) and there should be restaurants out there that children are generally...unwelcome. But not the majority of them. Even on "date night" if you can't delight in the sound of laughing children in the background--you need to check the status of your own heart. I know I've often had to check the status of mine.

(I do feel the need to point out two restaurants that have been safe havens to us when we were walking around, stranded with no place to eat with the girls. Both of these restaurants not only allowed our children inside, but were very kind to them and gave them crayons to color with: Volunteer Park Cafe (Steph it was all you said and more!!!) and Lombardi's (which is actually a bit of a Seattle chain, but beggars can't be choosers.))

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

While I did not get to see The Sound of Music a couple of weeks ago, I have still heard Maria singing "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..." over and over in my head, because lately, I have discovered a few of my favorite things.

What favorite things would you hope to encounter in Seattle? For me, it would be books, coffee, and breathtaking landscapes. I think I may have found the best of all three :)

With two little chicken wings that have still not started school, I am afraid I have not been able to peruse any old book shops located here in the city. Does anyone else have visions of beautifully bound covers falling onto the floor one after the other? However, I am not sure that any can compare to the one I've found at my virtual fingertips at Lanier's Books.

I feel honored to call Lanier my friend. I remember my Dad asking me the question, "Who are your role models in motherhood and homemaking?" It startled me because I think we, all of us, need a standard to look to in a world where these two callings are ever being challenged...but where do you look...Jennifer Anniston? Martha Stewart? Kate plus Eight? I am going to have to stop because I can feel a tangent coming on strong, but the bottom line is, Lanier is one of the very few people I was able to list.

I wrote about a trip I had to her house, here, if you want to get a better picture of her gracious nature and homemaking prowess (Consider yourself warned: It was before I was into taking pictures--there are none. There are a lot of over-the-top descriptions though :)) Lanier is also a great reader and a writer. It was through her, via my friend Lauren, that I learned there were actually authors out there, besides Jane Austen, who could make my heart pound out of my chest and release my imagination to gloried heights. So, learning that she was opening a book shop was one of the most exciting pieces of news I've had in a long time. Have you ever walked into a store and known that you would delight in every. single. item. on the shelf???? That's a dangerous place to be :)

These are my first two selections:

And I've told Jeremiah he will never again have to worry about finding me a birthday or Christmas present. "Just email Lanier from now on..." I told him.

I have found that coffee here is very serious business. Yes, it is the home of Starbucks, but I have seen quite a few local noses lifted high in the air over the thought of the franchise. Apparently it is not the gold standard I thought it to be...not even close. I am not sure if you should trust me (in my opinion you should not trust the palate of a girl who craves Taco Bell and Quarter Pounders with Cheese), but I have talked to a person or two who seem to have a much more developed palate than my own. Vivace is the favorite if you want to stop in off the street, but Storyville is the best delivered to your door.

Azurae took me for a tour of Storyville's "roasting studio" on Bainbridge Island, and it felt a little bit like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for coffee. Dream a coffee dream and we can make it come true...

Everything is so well done. Pristine and beautiful...and a lot of fun in there too. Lots of interesting people and art and music and big Apple computers that make things look super official. I kind of wanted to ask if they needed any extra help. Like maybe I could be the one to play the piano while the beans are roasting...

No, you don't do that? Well, could I drive the little forklift thingey?

OR run the roaster?
Or stamp the freshness date on each bag?
Or drive the delivery vans?
Really, I'd be willing to do any of the above if you'd keep letting me drink the coffee :) No, you'd just like me to please exit quietly with my children before they break everything in here?

It really was the most flavor I've ever tasted in a cup of coffee, without the bitter dregs left on my tongue. They told me that feeling means the beans are burned...I think that's what they said anyway. Their theory is that it is actually cheaper and more efficient in the long run, to brew a really great cup of coffee yourself, than it is to go out and buy it in a coffee shop one cup at a time. You should try a bag of your very own, but be sure and watch their video on how to make a proper cup first. My gracious! Did you know there was so much to coffee?!

Breathtaking Landscapes
If you followed along on our journey out here, you may remember me talking about how the last stretch of interstate into Seattle was the prettiest part of the drive, to me. We were a little too busy praying/feeling completely overwhelmed for me to take pictures then. However, a couple of weekends ago (on our way back from Leavenworth) we made that same drive west on I90 through the Snoqualmie National Forest. I had my camera ready this time (Although it was getting too late for our hungry children for us to stop, so these were all taken while holding my camera above my head out the top of Jeremiah's jeep...hence the blurs and the tail-lights)







Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Seattle, Take 1

We have been out and about, getting to know this wide and wonderful city. I've gotten kind of stressed at the thought of trying to do a post about each attraction we visit. I also thought that a lot of you might get bored and think, "Abby, we don't live in Seattle, are not planning a visit to Seattle, and wish you'd stop making us go along on every site-seeing adventure!" So, I decided that about once a week, I'll do a "Seattle" post. That way, I will have record of our time and a reference to look back on when our family and friends come to visit, and you can skip the "Seattle" posts if you aren't interested. Ok, here goes:

The Locks, in Ballard
I just read through all the purposes of the Locks on their website, and if you want to know exactly you can go there. From what I could see, the Locks move boats from Puget Sound to Lake Washington and vice versa. Since one side is fresh water, the other side salt water, and they lie at a difference of 20 feet in sea level it would make it difficult for a boat to pass without their help.


It was pretty intimidating to stand on that bridge, that had the potential to open wide underneath our feet, with that low railing. Especially with a two year old who has a compulsion for climbing on everything and a fear level of zero.

We watched the boats rise and fall for a while and then we walked over to see how the salmon were fairing in their journey across. You can't really tell from this picture, but there were a TON of them and they are ginormous.

And ugly up close :)

They call this a fish ladder and it is sort of fascinating to see these delicious creatures in the wild. It was hard for me to picture them in a way besides A) wrapped up at Sam's with a price tag on their orange belly or B) on my plate at dinner. But there they were.

Golden Gardens Park
We heard there was a park near the Locks that had a beach. So, instead of naps, we decided to check it out.
The dark sand, rocky coastline, chilling breezes, and mountainous backgrounds were very different than what we are used to down on the Gulf Coast.

But I think I could have pushed the girls on the swings until my arms fell slap off, if I could just keep looking out at this view.

It seems that almost every neighborhood has a Farmer's Market. Capitol Hill has one on Sunday and Queen Anne has one on Thursday. Sine the girls were already delirious from the jam-packed day, I thought one more stop couldn't hurt us too bad.

The fruits,

And vegetables,

And breads,

And flowers,
Are so fresh and beautiful and locally grown, they can cause a poor girl to lay a lot of money (she didn't have) at their feet, with aspiring dreams of all the food she will prepare!

And then, when she realizes that it's way to late to start chopping away at all the fresh goodies this day, she can stop in at one of the many food stands (or BBQ trucks in this case) to buy dinner :)

And since there is a cute pregnant lady teaching kids how to make gelato and mini waffle cones, why not have dessert as well!

On our kid's map of the US, the symbol for Seattle is...the Space Needle (surprise, surprise). Therefore, the girls learned to equate Seattle with the iconic symbol. I have heard over and over, "Mommy, when are we going to go to SEATTLE?" "We are IN Seattle girls. Right now. You are here." "No, no, I mean the real Seattle!" Pace proclaims, pointing to the needle.

Welllllll, I checked immediately upon our arrival here, but learned that tickets were $18/adult and $11/child just to ride up in an elevator and look at the view. I love my kids, but $58 is a little steep (plus parking which is always expensive around here). So when a friendly blogger (Thank you AMY!!!) commented letting me know that this past Friday was FREE admission at the Space Needle, you can believe I packed up my cheap self and two excited girls and booked it over stand in line for an HOUR AND A HALF. And in all my haste...I forgot my camera.

I have two camera phone pics and one of the cheasiest, funniest, tourist shots ever, to share with you :)

That cloud-like formation in the center of the shot is actually Mt. Ranier. It really does look like it is floating in the sky in real life too. Sorry you can't see it better because I am scatter-brained.
No, she is not really about to fall to her death. There is some extremely thick glass behind her. She is just ever-so-thankful to have finally reached Seattle.
And then this...
I don't know if its how extremely realistic the shot is, or how Mary Aplin is doing her dangdest to pry her little fingers from my hand in defiance of the hour and a half she's been waiting in a line, or the pacey-please-a-lot smile plastered on my oldest daughter's face, OR the ridiculously short sundress that was a heinous mistake on my part (the winds at the top are a force to be reckoned with--and not in a short, flowey skirt), but no matter what the reason, I chuckle every time I look at this one.

Will this post EVER end? Is anyone still reading besides my family???

Leavenworth, Washington
About two hours outside of Seattle, there is a cute little Bavarian village tucked into the mountains.



We spent a magnificent day there on Saturday!

Not everything is quaint...

Some sights border on the majestic...


After a day spent in the sun and water, we sampled the gelato and chocolate.

And listened to some locals strike up a toon :)

(A special thanks to Aunt Caroline for making Mapple's dress. We LOVE it and are wearing it out!)

One big regret I have is that we couldn't see The Sound of Music. Apparently they do a show at sunset in their outdoor theatre, and Maria comes marching through the fields singing "The Hills are Alive" with those mountains at her back. I am glad that none of you were there to see my face when the woman told me that they had very. strict. rules. about not allowing any children under the age of five into the theatre (as she looked my sweet girls up and down). If they hadn't been sold out anyway....ohhh it made me mad.

We are excited about going again at Christmas. Apparently there is a big light show and I bet I could get a mug of hot chocolate :)

Whew! Good night!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Azurae and Mars Hill

When I am pregnant, I tend to get a little irrational. I am NOT pregnant, but I found that living in a faraway place where I didn't know anyone felt a lot like pregnancy. I didn't make that connection until Jeremiah told me he had to go to Chicago for four days, and I responded like this:

"I don't know if you can do that. I am serious, Jeremiah. What if something happens, and you're way over there and I'm way over here by myself with the girls? I mean, I'll be ALL A.L.O.N.E!"

To which he calmly responded, "Are you worried that you'll go into labor? [sly grin] It seems we had a similar talk to this the last time I had to go to Chicago, and you were really pregnant."

And he was right, I wanted to be left alone right then about as much as I wanted to go through child-birth without him. I was panicky. It was weird, but I couldn't shake it for days. The "you might just have to tell them 'NO' about Chicago" axe hung in the air for several days...until I met Azurae (and Juniper, that cute little munchkin beside her):



Azurae is from Orlando, went to college at Samford (which is in Birmingham, AL and Jeremiah's Alma mater), and now lives here in Seattle. She is friends with--my old neighborhood, basically--but it was actually the Klings (who now live in our former home) who virtually (through the internet kind of, virtually) introduced us. Have you drawn a diagram to put all that together :)?

The first time we met, I was sweating profusely, partly from nerves but mainly from pushing Pace and Mary Aplin up these Seattle hills [insert mountains] at a dead sprint because I was running late (surprise, surprise!). Despite the sweat, she threw her arms around me and gave me a big 'ol hug, then held me back at arms length and grinned at me with those dimples (I thought about you, SB :)). I knew then and there that I was going to like this girl. She then apologized for being late and we both had a good laugh over the fact that we are both perpetually late...a match made in heaven :)

We live in the same neighborhood (Although, she lives in a MUCH less scary part of it than we do) and we have seen each other almost every day since. I told the Klings, "I have spent a good bit of time with Azurae, and I still feel like there is so much more of her to know! She is fascinating." Stephanie's answer, "I've known her for years, and I still feel the exact same way."

For instance, when she had the girls and me over for lunch, this is what she served:

Insanely delicious! I asked her how long it had taken her to make that (Can you see how many different layers there are?) and she laughed and said, "About a week." Oh, ok. No big deal. I once made a pot roast that took a day... :)

So she loves food and has been an invaluable guide to good eating here, but she also loves Jesus. Her husband, Danny, is a musician and he is in one of the bands that plays at Mars Hill.

Now, several people told us about this church and the pastor, Mark Driscoll, before we moved. I nodded and smiled as everyone talked about how awesome the church was, how it was blowing up all over Seattle and Pastor Mark was awesome... Can I just tell you honestly that that kind of talk turns me off from churches? When I hear "huge" I think "watered down message and lack of truth." When I hear "awesome" I think "neon lights and rock bands playing music I've never heard." Basically, not my idea of a lovely Sunday morning--and you can bet your bottom dollar that they probably meet at night too :) I sound like one of those old people at church who get mad if you sit on their pew don't I? I like tradition. It comforts me, call me a prude if you need to, but I like to hold a hymnal. I completely understand that God doesn't say (or care!) what time we go to church, or what we wear, or how we sing praises to Him, so long as we do it. I just had some little preferences tucked away and wasn't sure I would like Mars Hill.

I was wrong.

We went with Azurae and Danny 1) at night 2) there were flashing lights and a rock band 3) people were wearing everything under the sun...but it didn't matter one bit. Because we got to be wrapped up in a crowd of people who love God. You could feel it as we sang the songs I didn't know. You could hear it in the Truth that poured from Pastor Mark. You could know it by the way God spoke to my heart. After feeling bombarded by the sin all around, it felt like a spring of living water to hear Truth spoken plainly. Not "politically correct" words that were right but wouldn't offend anybody, but TRUTH. How sweet the sound!

So, I made a friend. I found a church. I no longer feel like an unbalanced pregnant woman wondering who I could call if my arm got cut off and I needed somebody to drive me to the hospital...because those were the type of thoughts I was struggling with :) Thank you Jesus!