Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Discovering Discovery

I think Seattle must have the best park system in the world. There are over 400!!! of them, and I feel the need to see each one. This past week, Jeremiah went to try out Discovery Park. We had heard it was a good one, but we did not know it was 534 acres, over 11 miles of trails, and a slice of true wilderness right down the road from us. He came home like a kid on crack-rock, saying no matter what I was going there the next day to take a run. My husband can tend towards the superlative, and I sort of smiled and told him I'd be sure and try it out sometime. (Thinking in my mind that I had way too much to do on Sunday to take a long run, and surely he was just over-zealous, seeing as how he had not experienced all the parks the girls and I had.) The next afternoon, when he offered to watch the girls AND cook dinner if I would just GO, I finally left the mile-long list of things I was trying to accomplish and went. Wondering what kind of wonderful notion had possessed my husband :).

It was the. most. beautiful. run I have ever taken. Deep green forests, glorious seclusion, to rocky beaches, to a lighthouse, a jaunt on the sand, white sailboats over the deep blue water, craggy daisies and fall's bright berries, back to fern forests, and then the sad return to my car. I actually laughed out loud throughout the run over how shockingly beautiful each new turn became.

I arrived at home to my husband grilling hamburgers and teared up as I thanked him for the best gift I'd been given in a long time. "Told you," he said with a big, knowing grin on his face.

I was eager to take the girls back, so that they could experience Discovery as well. I soon learned that there is a reason for the deep seclusion...you can't park anywhere near the beaches. You literally have to take a mile or so hike in order to reap the rewards of the secluded beach. But these two little chicken wings were eager for the adventure:



It was a long go, and there were some serious hills,

But that first glimpse of the beach they'd been working for, made it all worthwhile:




As a parent, I am not sure there are any joys greater than watching the wonder of your children as they delight in new experiences


And learn to love one another

With the promise of a lighthouse and more sandy shoreline, we resumed our hike.




We met a frightful, eight-legged creature along the way:

That big sister, in her apprehension, convinced baby sister to touch


And when baby sister tried instructing her elder, she was accosted instead :)

Finally, we found the lighthouse.


And we stood at the pinnacle of our journey and talked of sailors long ago who would have crashed into these very rocks if not for this sturdy beacon, shining through the darkness


I asked it they would like to move into this house and become the new light-house keepers. Sounds enchanting to me.

They thought playing sounded much more fun


It was a wonderful, wonderful experience I hope they will never forget. I know I won't.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lies and Submission

Do you ever lie to your husband? Are you ever tempted to lie because you want to appear to be submissive? Let me give you an example from our life:

I believe God places a desire (in most women) to make their house feel like a home. I believe God puts it there, which certainly makes it right. Our Creator forms within us a desire to create--to make our earthly dwellings a (albeit meager) shadow of the heavenly one He has prepared for us. The problem I run into is that He also asks that we be good stewards of the money He entrusts us with. I don't know about you, but I have trouble making a beautiful home without money :). There is no "decorating budget" at our house at present.

So, what is a girl to do? I was about to move into a fully furnished home. Amen, what a blessing! However, while it is a blessing, it is also strange to be surrounded by things that aren't ours. Especially since the couple we are renting from have an avid (AVID) love for the Orient. As in, the wife has written textbooks about the Sung Dynasty, and her husband devotes a large part of his retired life to collecting Asian art and textiles. There are also total libraries filled with books written in Chinese. I can value their passion; I can appreciate the art and clothing of a different culture, but it is in not my personal shadow of a heavenly dwelling :)

When we walked through the house before moving in, there were decorative robes and long tapestries written in Chinese hanging from the walls. All I could see were Mary Aplin's peanut butter and jelly covered fingers running by and smudging their priceless collectibles. They offered to take down anything that made us nervous, and I smiled and asked that they please take it all down (Have you met Mary Aplin?!).

They did take down the valuables, but that left me with a whole LOT of blank space on the walls. I knew I couldn't fill it all, but the big gaping area over the fireplace where a Chinese painting once hung just screamed "Fill Me!! Fill Me!!" While it was screaming at me, I received a little brochure in the mail from Pier 1, with a picture of a mirror that sent off a little spark in my heart. I started doing internet searches to see if I could find one similar on eBay, or Amazon, or a random knock-off anywhere. I tend to get obsessive when I get my mind set on something. Finally, I call our local Pier 1 "just to see," I tell myself. Keep in mind, this has all happened over a couple of frenzied hours, and I have not informed Jeremiah that I even have a desire to fill a few wall spaces.

The nice lady at Pier 1 puts me on hold while she goes in the back to see if they have my mirror in stock... ... ...Not only do they have it, but it's ON SALE!! I ask if they can hold it for me, but the answer is "No," not for a sale item. The only way they can hold it is...if I buy it. I looked down at the coupon for another $15 off I held in my hand. I thought back to all those mirrors on eBay, none of which were as pretty or as cheap, and I swiped it. I caved under the sales pitch. I couldn't stand the thought of losing my mirror, even if it did mean making a (for us) big purchase without asking my husband.

As soon as I hung up the phone, the dread hit me. How was I going to tell Jeremiah? It's not as though you can easily hide a big mirror hanging over the fireplace :) So here's when the lie happened over our innocent little dinner table:

Me: I feel like we need to put something over that huge open space above the fireplace. Don't you? It just feels sort of stark in the house with all the empty space, and I think that is probably the most important space to fill...

J: Ummm, have you looked around the house to see if there is something lying around we could stick up there?

Me: Pretty sure there's not {What on earth does he mean? Seriously, I am thankful he is not in charge of decorating.}, and I found this really beautiful mirror at a great price from Pier 1. It's on sale and I have a coupon.

J: We've been spending too much lately with the move and living here, let's just be content. We have a great house, the last thing we need to spend money on right now is a mirror.

And there it was. Sunk in the water. My lie of omission, thinking I would manipulate him around to my way of thinking, not happening. And my mirror waiting on hold, already purchased, right down the road. What bothered me the most, was that he was absolutely right. I didn't need that mirror right now. If I had consulted him, like I knew I should, from the outset, I could have been spared the lie and the buyer's remorse. Why is it easy to lean on my husband in the big things (like whether or not to move to Seattle, or where to go to church...) but much harder to relinquish control of the small things?

I didn't say anything to him at first. I was too embarrassed about being caught in my lie and unsubmissiveness. However, conviction crept up on me while I washed the dishes and kissed the girls goodnight. As Jeremiah and I sat in bed, I debated how I could ease the blow on myself, and finally decided that I should just be honest:

Me: I lied to you.

J: About what (His face is turning red, like he's imagining some huge scandal)?

Me: I already bought that mirror I told you about at dinner. And I'm not sure if I can return it, because it was on sale.

J: Why in the world didn't you just tell me you already bought it?

Me: Because I knew you would be more likely to agree if you were part of the decision. I know that's manipulative. I'm sorry. {And now I am crying over a stupid mirror} I'll ask if I can take it back.

J: I don't want to be a person that tells you "No" all the time. I don't think we should get it, but you decide.

What a beautiful picture of the grace God offers us. Even though we screw up, and think we can hide things from Him, and think we can make a better decision than He can...He's still there, waiting for us to stop wallowing in our mistakes and just confess and ask for forgiveness.

After all that grace, you'd think I would have found a way to return the mirror wouldn't you? Weellll, I got there, and I'm afraid I loved it even more in person. He had told me I could make the decision...And I convinced myself that he would be glad one day. How could he not love such a beautiful mirror at such a great price?


As a sort of an apology, I devised a much cheaper way to decorate the even larger wall space:



Which serves the dual purpose of helping us fight our homesickness. And the pictures reflect off that lovely mirror above the fireplace :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Veni, Vidi, Vici

While Alex and Josh flew back south, we managed to convince Ashley to stay another week or so :). I just love this girl. We have so much in common (a love of running, eating, enjoying God's creation, family...and then a whole slew of psychological make-up similarities that comes along with being the first-born girl of four), and she is the world's BEST guest. I asked her one morning if she wondered how things ever got done when she wasn't around. She cleaned, took care of the girls, went grocery shopping, did all the laundry, took care of Locks...much more than I did. When we're together, I feel like she's a straight-line wind blowing at 90 miles per hour, moving mountains. I feel like I'm a hurricane, swirling around just as fast but accomplishing nothing.

Unfortunately, during her stay, Seattle weather decided to go on and show up. It was cold and drizzily a lot of the time, and left us un-motivated to do the types of things we normally would have gotten out and done. However, there was a little somethin'-somethin' that caught our eye:


After watching Julie and Julia (six months or so ago), Ashley gave me a copy of this cookbook, with the request that we start cooking through some of the recipes together. Well, we never did get around to that back in Birmingham, but now here we were--stuck inside and craving a warm and savory soup...and then there was this vintage copy of Julia's masterpiece...


We started flipping through the incredibly intimidating recipes, and settled on this one. It sounded pretty straight-forward. Ashley went to the grocery store and only called once...just to verify that leeks were indeed those plants that look like giant green onions. I told her I was pretty sure that was right, but suggested she ask. She whispered into the phone, "I think if you are buying something like leeks, you are supposed to know what they look like. I'm going with it."

This first venture into Julia's world taught us a lot. We first learned that she is a funny little bean. She writes the cookbook as though she is speaking to you directly, and some of the things she has to say are laughable. Or at least, they were laughable in our delusional state:

How fortunate we are to have chicken in pieces--those who like dark meat feast upon thighs, white-meat only people are welcome to breasts, while wings at half price make lovely finger food when the budget is low.

Is that funny to anybody else? It's like she just gets a little carried away by her rhapsody over chicken being divided into pieces...What?! Or this:

The host starts the proceedings as usual by spearing out the beef and placing it on a platter. Then he finds a sausage, and after that a big piece of pork. Finally, to wild acclaim, he brings out a chicken...

Don't you all begin your dinner proceeding by spearing out the beef? And wouldn't you cheer to find a piece of sausage hiding beneath it?! This woman is funny...

Between our laughs we did manage to create the Soup a la Victorine,


And this lovely plate of sliced heirloom tomatoes, with a variety of local cheeses, and a balsamic reduction. Get back now!!

Besides the fact that we found it a tad on the salty side, it was all superb (if I do say so myself).

Probably because Ashley's love language is "Acts of Service" and mine is "Quality Time" we found that the process of spending a day cooking together was one of the best things on earth. SOOOO, we did it again the next day. And this time, we went ahead and threw down the gauntlet:


Do you remember this part of the movie? When Julie dumps an entire bottle of red wine into a pot of braised beef. Was I the only one who wanted to crawl through my television and have a bite? Ashley and I have been talking about Boeuf Bourguinon since that day, intimidated, but desperate for a bite.

This time I went to the grocery store. Let me tell you this, going to the store with the intention of buying the finest and most perfect ingredients is a much different experience than scouring the shelves to try and make dinner as good but inexpensive as possible (which is what I normally do). I had a blast, and I even gave the meat man a hug for how much time he took to help me.

I didn't take many pictures. There was way too much concentration required for that. The difference between following a normal recipe and following one of Julia's recipes is much like the difference between reading Francine Rivers and C.S. Lewis. Francine may get the job done. You can fly through her books and get a little Jesus happy along the way, but if you go ahead and take the time to read (and re-read, and re-read, line after line) C.S. Lewis, you are going to grow. You are going to learn something that will last a lifetime AND get some Jesus happy.

We came. We saw. We conquered.


Glory, glory, it was even more delicious than we could have dreamed!!


And Ashley even took on cooking an artichoke with lemon butter sauce, since we'd grown so confident.


It was a fun, growing, and delicious couple of days. Thanks Sashey...and Julia!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Family Fun

We only had two nights with all three of Jeremiah's siblings. They have busy lives and we felt honored that they took the time to swoop in and bring some added joy to us. Ashley, Alex, and Josh drove in on Thursday night, after a jaunt up Highway 1 from LA, through the wine country and rocky ocean precipices of the Pacific, to Portland, and finally---Seattle!! It was a very bizarre feeling, to welcome them as they drove up our driveway. Something about the fact that we are living in Seattle and have felt like we were on a slightly different planet, and then they just drove up like they were dropping in for dinner in Dothan, Alabama. What's up y'all? No big deal....

I asked my friend Azurae what her perfect day would be in Seattle, and it sounded so delightfully perfect that on Friday, we followed her advice to the "T" (and I didn't bring my camera, like a big dummy). A jaunt through Pike Place Market, to take in the flying fish, vendors, fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers, and the original Starbucks. Then, off to lunch at what Azurae said would be her "last meal in Seattle," Matt's in the Market.
(Picture borrowed, randomly, via Yelp, from Jeremiah C. Hoping to get a pic from Ashley soon to replace this one.)

With it's floor to ceiling warehouse style windows, overlooking the heart of Pike's Place, the lolling sunflowers on every table, and the scrumptious food...we were a happy family.

After lunch we went back to the market where we bought some Alaskan halibut from the flying fish men, lots of fresh vegetables to accompany the fish, and some local cheese and fruit for an appetizer, for our dinner that night. We did squeeze in some music, a run around our new neighborhood (not this big Mama though :)), and a little park time for the girls in between our two big meals. We finished the night lingering over dinner on the porch, watching Seattle twinkle in the distance. It was sort of perfect.

The next day was much more chill. We hung around in our pajamas until we made it to Greenlake Park for a run (Have you ever seen five adults and double stroller running together down a lil' track? I felt like people were diving out of our way.).

(This picture of Greenlake borrowed from here. Did y'all know that people are still roller-blading???)

Then we ended our day at Palace Kitchen. You remember? The same place Jeremiah and I went on our date. If you come to Seattle, you really must go.



The next day we said goodbye to Allie, who had to fly home for work or some crazy business :), and we headed to a trail in the Snoqualmie Forest that promised three waterfalls.



It was absolutely enchanting. I couldn't decide if I were on a movie set:



Or deep in a magical wood,



I felt like I was going to bump into an evil witch at any moment



Or maybe Pace was just going to turn into one after hiking a mile and half UP-hill on her little legs.


The reward was great though!!!





We were all really proud of how great Pace did. Despite that one shot, there really was very little complaining from that mountain goat.


This one, however...


Never had her feet touch the ground. When you've got an Aunt and Uncle willing to spoil you, I guess it's smart to take advantage while you can :)



It was a beautiful, invigorating experience, that left us all tuckered out:


Have I mentioned that Mary Aplin is potty trained, even in the wilderness :)?