Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas from Pace and Mary Aplin

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I'm sorry to all you blog readers, who I know don't care about seeing picture after picture of our children opening presents :). These, however, are for our family. Thank you, thank you for the time and effort it took to send little pieces of you to us on Christmas morning. You seasoned Seattle with love, and we are so thankful.
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Wow, this a lovely one of me! I did go to AUBURN and not Samford. This just happens to be the only sweatshirt in our house. Did I steal it from you Allie?
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"Daddy, if you want me to tell the Christmas story I can. I did memorize it."
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"Could we please stop telling the Christmas story over and over and just open a few presents?"
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Aren't we sassy?
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I love this lipgloss so much, I could eat it...oh wait, she is eating it.
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"Oh the ballet costume I've been asking for for so very long! This is seriously graceful business."
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Or...maybe not always so graceful :)
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We were treated to dinner Christmas night in our dear friends' home.
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And I haven't eaten at any restaurant in Seattle that had food this good.
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Merry, Merry.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have I Really Been Gone THAT Long?

I do this every year. I get overwhelmed by Christmas--to the point of breakdown,--and I write lots of blogs in my head but cannot find the time to sit down at a computer. I feel like I start earlier every year and STILL never have enough time. A lot of the problem is that I've tried to go handmade for all the girls in my family the last couple of years. I can't wait to show you pictures of the some of the finished products, but would you believe that I have not completed these projects that I started a YEAR AND A HALF ago?! They were supposed to be given last Christmas, have now been deferred to this Christmas, and Jeremiah looked at me a couple days ago and said, "Step away from that needle {I am embroidering, not doing drugs in case anybody is worried :)} and go buy however many presents you haven't finished. You can give them the finished projects whenever they're done, but I can't live with you being the Grinch any longer."

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It's sad. I really, really love embroidering. I love thinking about and praying for the gift's recipient as I stitch away. I love the sea of color choices and deciding on just the right combination each time. I love watching a project go from nothing to something finished (since there are so few things in my life as a Mom that are ever finished). I love the order provided by each little stitch paired with the creativity of the whole picture. I love the books on CD I listen to as I work...I JUST HATE HOW SLOW I AM AND HOW FEW HOURS ARE IN A DAY!

And now, as though I were not struggling enough, I fell this weekend and broke my butt. No really, you read correctly. It feels like my tail bone is shattered into a million tiny pieces--even though Jeremiah won't let me go to the ER and get an X-ray to prove just how seriously injured I am, because he says there's nothing anybody can do about it even if it is shattered. "Do you want me to make you a butt cast?" He's offered several times, with much too much of a smile.

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It happened this weekend in Leavenworth (which is where all these pictures were taken). We went for the town lighting ceremony, a little sledding, and some hot chocolate.
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I was staying safe, taking pictures on the sidelines, when baby girl Dapples got cold and wanted to be held by her Mommy. My strong-willed child so rarely wants to be cuddled, that I jumped at the opportunity--even with slick cowboy boots, standing on ice, with a camera around my neck. As I took a cautious step down a very tiny but icey hill, both feet went straight into the air and my arms gripped Dapples more tightly instead of breaking my fall. My coccyx took the brunt of it all, and I am truly wondering if I'll ever walk, sit, or lie down comfortably again. It happened Sunday evening, and on Monday morning the pain was so bad, I passed out twice just trying to get out of bed. I am not kidding--and I've never passed out in my life. Take care of your butt. It seems pretty useless until you can't use it :)


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Fortunately, Jeremiah's best friend Tommy has been here visiting us. Bless his heart, he came for a manly adventure in Washington and yesterday he went to the grocery store, cleaned my house, and entertained my children for much of the day. I love you Tommy Tolleson!

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I hope I'll be back soon, but considering how bad it has hurt to sit and write this post, I'm not making any promises. I'll leave you with our Christmas card. The front picture is from the Christmas tree cutting adventure and the back picture is the girls' awe at waking to find the city covered in snow.

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Back Address

Designed by Whitney--my best friend since second grade. If you'd like to order from her next year, give me your email and I'll pass it on to her. Thanks Wee!! We love them!

MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS BLOG FRIENDS!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Romans 7:19 At Work

{Keke, my little sister, talked to Santa about sending the girls some elves--to work mischief in our house throughout the rest of the Christmas season. They arrived via the chimney this morning, and these pictures are of that and some shots of this morning's breakfast. Food on faces, squinty eyes and all. At what age are they going to be mad at me for posting these kind of pictures of them?}

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do NOT want to do--this I keep on doing. Romans 7:19, emphasis mine

This child. This child has been giving me fits.

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It's as though things I thought we mastered at 12 months age, now, at 3 YEARS seem to be giving her trouble again. She does things...like playing in the toilet water, rubbing my face lotion (my one big extravagance in my make-up bag) in her hair, writing all over her legs with markers, knocking an entire row of shampoo bottles over in the grocery store, or jumping from the TOP of the couch-back and hitting her forehead on the coffee table--you can see the bruise remnants below.

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When you add this behavior to the fact that she is pathologically clumsy, and falls somewhere around 1,425 times per day, I am not sure how she is going to survive much longer.

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One of yesterday's falls happened at a most inopportune time. Before I exercise, I try to get my day's tasks started and the house decently straight (as in my bed made and the dishes in the sink), and everybody dressed...which means I rarely make it out of the door before lunch-time. It had been a particularly frustrating morning with the Dapples. The morning began with her standing up beside her chair at breakfast and just peeing all over the floor. "Oh, OK! Mary Aplin. Let me get that for you! Don't worry about the fact that I asked you 30 seconds ago if you needed to go potty?! If the floor's more convenient, then go right ahead."

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As I'm Cloroxing the mess and getting her pajamas in the washing machine, I hear mother-Pace reassuring her, "Don't worry Mary Aplin, you're not going to get a spanking."

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"Pace, you are not the Mom and are not allowed to decide when spankings will or will not be administered."

Mary Aplin also managed to perform a handful of the above tasks before I had them out of the door in warm coats, mittens on hands, blanket ready, and Locks rigged to a belt because I couldn't find his leash--All this so that I could take a run and work off some of the morning's frustrations?

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There is an incredibly steep hill that I have to climb right out of our driveway. The girls wanted to walk up it (Praise the Lord!), so I pushed an empty double stroller to the top of the hill before they climbed in. As soon as they sat down, I noticed something was wrong. I couldn't move the stroller forward at all. I looked down to find one of the tires was "wallering around on the rim" kind of flat. Ugghhh. "Get out girls, I have to go back to the house and try to put some air in this tire."

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As we headed back down the mountain towards our house, I hear a scream of pain behind me and turn to see Dapples, face plant number 435 of the day, on harsh concrete. In a panic I attempt to throw the stroller break on and toss Locks' belt/leash to Pace. I turn and sprint towards my screaming victim and then hear, "MOM!" out of Pace's mouth. I swivel mid-stride and see the double stroller picking up speed as it hurtles towards Pace and Locks, then gets turned because of the flat tire (thank goodness, sort of) and tumbles into the road. The shock of taking the curb flips the stroller, scattering my phone and car keys into the road as well. All of this, in front of a mini-van climbing up the road.

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I gave up the run and we went back to the house and ate grilled cheese sandwiches instead.

While the falling incident was obviously not Dapple's "fault," there are so many other things that ARE. However, the baffling thing about Mary Aplin is that you can NOT stay mad at her. Two minutes after she gets in trouble, she'll come and tap on the side of my leg. I look down to the face blotchy with crying and wet with tears and she says, "Torry Mommy" (we've got a little lisp), just before she clutches my leg in a tight hug and cries harder. Over and over I hear Romans 7:19 play in my head as I go down to my knees and take her into a proper hug. My heart turns into a puddle as I feel her real penitence and recall all the times God has offered me Grace for "the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing."

Surely, she will never play in toilet water again...at least not for fifteen minutes :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bama Belles and Another Brush with Fame

Did y'all watch? Jeremiah and I certainly did. I think it's the first time we've sat down and watched any television show (except for the occasional Saturday Night Live) since the second season of Grey's Anatomy (when dead lovers started coming back to life, we decided it was time to hang it up :)).

I have gotten several calls, emails, and texts today asking me what I thought. For anybody out there who cares...I was pleasantly surprised. I think it showed women, from different walks of life, who live in the South. We aren't all the same, and I am thankful for the differences. My biggest fear was that only one walk of life would be represented--ignorant red-neck. While
there was an element of that, I feel like TLC made an effort to show that everybody is not that way. That's all I ask.

Did some of these situations seems contrived?--Absolutely. But what do most of us do when it's 100 degrees and 100% humidity on a summer day? You keep your butt in the air conditioning as much as possible. Would that make for entertaining television? I think that the girls were doing activities that were true to at least one member of the group, and the rest were going along to see what happened. As far as reality show scripting goes, I'd say that's pretty mild.
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Obviously, I'm no judge of what makes good television, but I was entertained last night. I laughed out loud when Melissa was a frantic mess before her company arrived, only to turn around and greet her visitors minutes later with fresh make-up, a big smile, and the most loving welcome known to man. I felt like I was re-watching a scene from my childhood--baffled at how my Mom could be screaming at us one minute and loving on a visitor
the next. I wanted to hug Jana in all her vulnerability, and I wanted to take her Mother-in-law out back and have a word with her. I thought Josh looked very handsome, and I'm wondering how in the world they're going to spin the whole drama with him.

There were moments that made me cringe, but all in all, I thought it was...good. About the lives and struggles, vulnerabilities and strengths, and funny hobbies of a group of (mostly) Southern women.

On a whole different subject, I need to do a little bragging. Watson Downs, who I babysat throughout my teenage years and who my little sister has been dating since eighth grade, made the final tackle in Auburn's SEC Championship win Saturday night!!!! I was so proud I could have burst!!! If anybody wants to watch, it's in the last 20 seconds of this two minute video. He's number 51.
War Downs Eagle, baby!!!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Television Show and Some Questions Answered

I've debated whether or not to share this...but I've determined to go ahead. My hometown and my brother-in-law will be making a television debut this Sunday night (9 pm central time) on TLC's new reality series, Bama Belles.

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Why have I debated sharing?! you must wonder. I love Josh (and Jana is great--one of the girls on the show who I knew in Dothan), but I am terrified of what kind of spin TLC is going to try and put on a place that I love. When one of the two promotional videos is about lawn mower racing and men without teeth...you have to be a little leery.

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The other promo video shows my very handsome brother-in-law, who is indeed a "real live cowboy!" But something about the way they call him that in the clip, makes me cringe. Josh was recently voted PCA (did anybody else know that stood for Professional Cowboy Association?) rookie of the year for steer wrestling--or Bulldoggin' as they call it. It's a serious sport and he has an amazing talent for it--VIDEO (Obviously, all those are not him. You can pick him out by his white cowboy hat or big hair :)). As long as they show him for what he is--a talented, tough, intelligent and multi-faceted guy...
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As long as I'm able to laugh at our Dothan red-neck side... No matter what it should be entertaining, and they shot several scenes at Jeremiah's family farm. My homesick heart can't wait to see that at least.

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Second, my camera. I am so flattered by the emails I've gotten lately, asking for my photography/camera advice. I love to take pictures, and I feel like the creative gift I've always envied (painting, which I can not do AT ALL) is partially (very partially) granted to me when I capture just the right shot. However, while I love to take pictures, I know VERY VERY little about the craft.

When I first got my DSLR a little over a year ago, Darby gave me some quick lessons on ISO and made the suggestion that I get pictures in natural light as much as possible and rarely turn on my flash. I only use a flash if its pitch dark, and I think that is wonderful advice. My friend Bryan, who is a top-knotch professional photographer and lived across the street from me in Birmingham, tried to give me a few pointers, but to be honest, they all went right over my head. For some reason, camera lingo baffles me.

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My camera is a Nikon D3000. My Dad has the nicer D90, but I honestly like mine better. I find it more user friendly (they make it work for the dummies they know will buy them), and it is slightly smaller (so it fits better in my hands and feels less awkward to shoot). My lens is a Tamron 28-75mm, F/2.8 that Jeremiah's Mom gave me for my birthday. It is great for low-light pictures.

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I do edit all the pictures I put on the blog. I use Aperture now, but for a long time I just used iPhoto on my Mac and before that a rando program that came with my PC. I think that editing makes a HUGE difference, but all I usually do is add (or occasionally take away) exposure, contrast, and saturation and you can do that with basically all editing programs (I think).

Lastly, I want you all to notice the Cranberry salad in the foreground of the picture of all of us at Thanksgiving dinner. I meant to point this out in the last post and Darby recently reminded me.
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The recipe is hers, and it is delicious but I was not at a congealed salad kind of Thanksgiving. I had never been to a Thanksgiving where something congealed and filled with festive cranberries was not appropriate, but the sight of my Tupperware gleaming on the crystal filled table, still makes me want to crawl underneath the table. Our hostess, in an attempt to be kind, put my salad in a place of honor on the table (all the other food was on a side table in earthenware beautifuls). During the pictures and the prayer, all I wanted to do was snatch it back off the table and hide it. Oh well, it looked a bit ridiculous, but it's yummy taste made up for it.

I meant to spend five minutes on this post. What happened?!