Friday, July 30, 2010

The end is near...

I'm coming to you from the end of week twelve. That means, friends, that this is the end of the summer (luckily for you, I'm throwing in a couple extra weeks because my schedule changed. I know you're thrilled.) But back to the end of the summer. Can you believe it? I can't. That's why I keep italicizing it. My mind is blown, as I sit here, exactly twelve weeks after I packed up my dorm and brought it home, today's date seeming impossibly far away, a landmark that I'd never, ever get reach. And somehow, as the weeks passed, they began to fly, and here I am, unsure exactly where they went. On Sunday, I'll take the washer and dryer and the lamps and the cutlery out of storage and put them into my very first apartment. (I've contacted HGTV so that My First Place can come check us out. We'll be a big hit, I'm sure.) I have plans to go back next Monday for keeps. Crazy, no? Are you falling off your chair? Deep breaths!

But this week, that's what I'm supposed to be telling you about, right? I'm sure next week will be filled with the magic of move-in day. So this week. It was pretty typical, I'd say, as far as the kids go. It was so, so, so hot outside that I really couldn't insist they go sweat and dehydrate out there. So we played Play-Doh and had friends over and watched The Princess and the Frog about 73 times. They really love The Princess and the Frog. Carson and I went to see Ramona and Beezus and it was downright splendid. My love for it might have something to do with the fact that I've read all of the Ramona books at least six times, which Carson hasn't done, but she liked it, too.

The healthy brownies weren't the biggest hit, although Aunt Jane really liked them. She pointed out that if I'd called them chocolate cake squares, we'd all have liked them better, but they just didn't have a brownie texture and you could really taste the yogurt. But then again, I had to bake a double batch to fit in the pan, so that means a lot of yogurt. They weren't bad, just not what i was expecting- and I wanted brownies! So I don't think I'll be making them again (at least as brownies) but I'll definitely try more recipes.

I packed up things on Wednesday afternoon and headed home. The drive was filled with lots of good things: phone calls, amazing skies, iced coffee, and the like. (Honestly, I kept getting distracted by those beautiful clouds in my last post. Aren't they gorgeous?) And now, I'm hanging out at home, trying to get some motivation to pack and clean and oh yeah, exercise or something. I suppose it's time to turn off TLC and get going. Happy Week Thirteen- I'll be back with pictures and updates and a great big smile, with only a fleeting glimmer of bittersweetness because, well, summer is over.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I go back

This summer has blazed all sorts  of trails for me. I've done lots of things I'd never done (or stuck to) before. I've gotten into new routines and found new obsessions and made lots and lots of memories with lots of different people. It's been a summer to remember, that's for sure. I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything, from the six hours alone in the car every week to the night time talks with Aunt Jane to the sweat on the treadmill. Sure, it wasn't what I was expecting or planning, but it was what I needed and it turned out to be something I'll miss very much come August. It'll be a summer I look back on and, smiling, say, "Oh yeah, that's when I got to know my cousins" or "That's the summer I found out I was capable of being healthy" or "That summer? Hey, I learned to drive dirty on the interstate that summer! Oh, and I fell in love with..." I fell in love with a lot this summer, mostly my family, both in Atlanta and back home. I got to know them up in Atlanta, which is something I hope I never lose. And when I came home, I got to see Taylor's eyes light up as he met me in the yard, wrapping his arms around me and asking, "You're staying? You're staying?!" Can't beat feeling loved, can you?

Things That Will Always Remind me of This Summer (at Least Until I'm 96 and Have Dementia):

  • Cocoa Krispies
  • Summer Bridge Books
  • Interstate 85
  • Cake Boss
  • My medium leopard suitcase
  • Chopping apples (I did this SO much, for some reason)
  • Almond butter
  • Jillian Michaels
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • J93.3
  • Spaghettios (well, making them)
  • Toy Story ANYTHING
  • Lagrange, GA (the Starbucks there is mine, all mine.)
  • Weight Watchers lemonade stir-ins
  • The name Sascha (This is the cat, and really often, someone walks into the kitchen, sees her on the counter/table/floating midair and yells, "SASCHA, NO!")
I'm sure there are loads of other things that will make my breath catch and transport me back here to these months, these weeks that have been so different and wonderful and challenging all in their own ways. I am very, very excited for the year ahead, but let me say, this last week of summer will be bittersweet. It flew.

It honestly flew. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Go

I like to go. I like to be busy, to have plans, to do. I mean, I enjoy sitting around and reading books or watching Cake Boss as much as the next girl (actually, probably more. My love for Cake Boss has reached epic proportions.), but I'd take fast-paced over slow and easy most days. I'm am also a control freak, and the only people who have ever described me as easygoing were the nice old ladies at church. Ha, here are my confessions, huh?

Anyway, because of all of that, I am starting to get stressed out about the inevitably stressful move that is waiting for me five days from now. With my crazy-obsessive tendencies (which are not too extreme to be considered abnormal yet, I hope), I keep thinking about the things that could go wrong and might go wrong and how I just want everything to go smoothly. YOU HEAR ME, SUNDAY? PROGRESS SMOOTHLY. Something about gathering three sets of very different parents and adding in three girls (not even matching the sets of parents, mind you!) plus 100+ degree temperatures, heavy lifting,and two flights of stairs makes me nervous. You'd be nervous, too, right? I'm not insane? Okay. Good. I keep reminding myself that as long as I'm cheerful, patient, and doing my best to work hard, I've done my best. And let me point out that the stress doesn't go unaccompanied: Excitement is flying high in these parts. OUR OWN HOUSE? WITH MY BEST FRIENDS? WHILE LEARNING TO SPEAK FRENCH? Welcome to my idea of perfect, people.

And then there are the days before/the days after! There's furniture to be gathered and cleaned, necessities to buy, headboards to be covered, maintenance to be performed on cars that belong to me, clothes to be packed, children to be watched, drives to be driven, runs to be ran, and brownies to be eaten. That's right. I decided I just couldn't do it all without a brownie, so I tried this "Healthy" Brownie recipe. More to come on that later.

Still, I have an awful lot of excitement for today. I think today might be the day that Carson and I go see Beezus and Ramona, I just started Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and I've run five miles in the past two days (plus walked another two). Last night I got to catch up with my best friend and eat Cocoa Krispies and go school supplies shopping for the munchkins (thought not all at the same time, mind you.) So many great, great things to be really, really pumped about! And who am I trying to kid, there are brownies on the counter.

I also saved this coffee tin because, well, I just couldn't throw it away and I figured we could use it for something, right? My room isn't exactly vintage-y, but even so, it would make a cool vase or pencil cup or banana holder, no? Do you have any off-the-beaten-path ideas for what I could do with it (or perhaps how I could get through the weekend/move without eating at least five pans of brownies?) C'mon guys, I need your advice. Hit me.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Transformation

It's no secret here that I started the summer wanting to lose 10 pounds, which is not a big goal or a massive undertaking, or even worthy of before-and-after photos. But I'll tell you, I had no clue what kind of transformation was going to take place. I'm a changed girl, and it has a lot less to do with weight than you'd think (though, for the record, I did lose 10 pounds.) I'm so excited to share everything here so I can continue reaching goals with healthy living.

See, I lost weight a couple years ago- about 25 pounds- rather unhealthily. I was having some health issues and basically, I just stopped eating. I'd have half a 100 calorie brownie and a small bowl of blueberries for lunch and then skip out on dinner. There was definitely not much exercise. And after awhile, my friends and family got worried, sat me down, and threatened to send me to a clinic in South Carolina for people with eating disorders, which scared me into eating again. After that, I ate sort of healthily. I generally had salad for lunch at school, but there were other times when I, well...didn't. And I ate cookies! And brownies! And lots of other things that don't scream "healthy." When I went to college, I made lots and lots of good decisions (I ate a salad with almost every meal!)- but also lots of bad ones. Basically, I just skipped the idea of moderation and ate a salad- plus four brownies and three slices of pizza at 3 a.m. Not the best plan. I gained around 7 pounds away at college and I wanted that off, but I really wanted to do it in a healthy way. That meant actually eating- and exercising.

What's ensued has been somewhat of an eye-opening experience. Slowly, I've come around to the idea that healthy eating doesn't have to be "dieting." I can eat healthily, enjoy eating, and also eat "bad" food in moderation without gaining weight (and actually while losing it.) I can also exercise for just 30 minutes a day and receive major health benefits from it. Um, yes please! That said, I've definitely been in "dieting" mode this summer- no sweets, fried foods, etc.- but as I move in maintaining my weight, I'll start enjoying those again- in moderation! I am so, so excited to finally have my own kitchen, which means I'm finally in control of what I eat as much as I want to be, no matter what, for the first time in my life. When I'm living at home, I'm sort of at the mercy of whatever we're having for dinner which is healthy sometimes, and sometimes it's not. I'm also really pumped to try out lots of healthier recipes for sweets- they're out there, that's for sure.

As far as exercising goes, I've discovered something simple: it feels good to exercise. I've never been athletic, and so exercise has always sort of scared me. But I've been realizing that I'm quite capable of doing lots of things that aren't sporty at all, and actually require little to no coordination. It's amazing how much better I feel after doing something as simple as power walking instead of, say, watching television for just a half hour. I've also completed the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels and while I didn't notice a huge drop in weight or anything, I definitely got stronger, which was all I was really after.

I'd love to start posting some of the (hopefully) great things we cook this year, as well as awesome exercising we'll take part in. The gym at the University of Alabama is to die for! Kickboxing, here I come. Look out for lots of new installments about healthy living, and if you're interested in it, check out these really splendid blogs/ sites that I've been following:

Carrots 'n Cake
Health
Weelicious
Danica's Daily
Trading Up Downtown

11/13

It had to happen eventually, right? I mean, there had to be one time, in the 20+ drives to and from GA this summer that I have/will endure(d), when I was running my mouth or looking for a piece of gum or shaving my left leg and I missed a turnoff or something. And so, week 11 it was. I'm gonna go ahead and do the mature thing and blame Nana, who was asking me questions and throwing dates at me and NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT I WAS SAYING EVEN THOUGH I WAS TALKING IN ALL CAPS. And then, I looked up and realized I was going through a tunnel, which seemed strange, because never, ever have I gone through any tunnels. I would remember. I like tunnels. And so, trying desperately to staunch Nana's conversation (which is hard- talking to her is like talking to me), I started trying to figure out what to do. It turned out that getting off on some loop and taking a right was, in fact, wrong. And after a really nice old man gave me directions and told me, "Have a great day, gorgeous baby doll!" (self esteem boost/creepy man alert), Nana and I made it home with only a 32 minute delay. Eh. C'est la vie. Anyway, that is how I ended week eleven. Well, at least week eleven's work week.

I began it with a three hour drive from the beach to Prattville, followed by a turkey sandwich with Mj Parker (see left, though sans turkey sandwich) and a 15-min visit home. And when I say visit, I mean I was in my room, shoving clothes into my suitcase, and the rest of my family was walking around somewhere. And then, Nana and I headed to Atlanta, where we ran into like an hour and a half of can't-see-anything, must-use-your-flashers-and-pray you're-still-on-the-road downpour. I was really okay with it, but Nana was fairly worried. I felt bad that her first (and probably only) trip with me was kind of littered with driving issues. Eh. She still loves me. And I got an iced coffee, which perked me up quite nicely. Anyway, we arrived right as dinner was being served, which is just the way I like it. (Actually, I am always really okay with eating cereal for dinner on Sunday nights. Or any nights. I love cereal.)

I digress. Sunday night we ran into some more unforeseen rain in the form of water literally pouring from the ceiling on all three levels of the house. I was coming upstairs just to grab something, when I noticed that not only were things eerily quiet kid-wise, but there was something else. Figuring someone of the smaller variety had left the water running in the bathroom, I went in to turn it off, and instead found water streaming from the air vent into the (luckily open) toilet. I yelled for Uncle D, and on further inspection, we found this was happening in other places, too, like in the workout room and the boys' bathroom. What ensued was some panic and then some really loud fans that stayed in place for the remainder of the trip. I'm talking whirring and blowing that made everyone say, "WHAT?" and "CAN'T HEAR YOU. FANS." They were supposed to be removed a few hours after I left, and I'm not going to be jumping up and down if they are still blowing when I return.

The rest of the week was mostly uneventful. We really, really loved hanging out with Nana. We went to the pool and made possibly the best homemade salad I've ever tasted (props to Auntie) and watched some Spongebob in the face of torrential downpours. We did workbooks in preparation for the upcoming going to kindergarten. Non-kid-related, I finished the 30 Day Shred and the first two Harry Potter books. I also bought some very necessary apartment accessories. The Spaghettios weren't included in that list. That was just me being a cool person and buying those for the kids. (Actually, I, erm, lost their other Spaghettios. So I was replacing.)

These last few days I've just been hanging out at home, taking in a Biscuits ball game and hitting up Wal-Mart and the YMCA. It's been swell and relaxing and can I just say that is so good to be home. Tomorrow, I'll head to the ATL for the second-to-last time and next week, the kids and I (well, so far, just me, because they don't know about it yet) have plans to make brownies, buy school supplies and see Ramona and Beezus. Sounds like a magical week, if I do say so myself...I LOVE school supplies!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In Her Shoes

I learned something this week that changed my perspective, which is always, always welcome: I am a a lot like my grandmother.

See, mine and Nana's relationship hasn't been this typical, easygoing grandchild/grandparent memory-filled, cookie-baking deal. Although, let it be said, that Nana has baked lots of cookies with me. Moreover, it is sort of sticky- when Mom died, lots of people said and did lots of things that caused more and more things to be said and done over time that strained a lot of relationships. And while I can look back in my past and see how very much Nana loves me, it hasn't always felt so evident, because of certain decisions she's made regarding things with which I didn't agree. And granted, I could've (should've) worked harder to stay in touch after I moved in with Chris and Lori, but I didn't and that's that. I'm changing it. Over the past year, I've been rebuilding my relationship with my grandparents, because all of a sudden I woke up and realized that not only did I love them very, very much, but I am faced with a ticking clock: they are 80 years old. I may get 5 more years- ten if I'm lucky. And I don't want to throw those years away on bitterness and misunderstanding when we could be baking cookies and talking about 1949, you know?

So this week, Nana came with me to Atlanta. And all of the times she made me grilled cheese sandwiches and bought me magazines to read with her at night and tucked me onto the couch with cinnamon toast or fill in the blank came flooding back, and all I wanted to do was serve. It's kind of amazing what the Holy Spirit empowers you to do, because I've felt a lot of disliking towards her at times, but it's all gone, and all I could think about was how much I love her. And she loves me, too.

Not only that, but Nana and I are lots and lots alike in ways I've always yearned to relate to someone, ways I always imagined I'd be like my mom. We talked about our obssessive compulsive tendencies, our lack of directional sense, our knee pain that tends to get worse when we climb stairs. We noted a mutual love for flowers and walking and Mexican food. She told me all about who she was when she was 19, and I told her all about who I am at 19. We talked frankly about things we've each done and said in the past, and things that needed to be said now. I told her the truth- I didn't hide things. And in return, she accepted and agreed and told me the truth, too. And I'm sad she had to come home.

This is a lesson that I'm so glad I learned, an obstacle I'm ecsatic to overcome. It's a relationship I've longed to nourish, and now I'm finally saying to heck with holding grudges and keeping my distance and "letting them come to me" and putting in my own efforts. Don't take that to mean I did anything at all, but instead, please understand that Jesus Christ transforms minds, perspectives, hearts. He softens, He heals, He reunites. And as it turns out, Nana and I have more than just our stubborness in common.

Monday, July 19, 2010

week TEN.


That's a photo from last week to prove that we actually DID go to Orlando. I actually did ride quite a few rides. We actually did have boatloads of fun. And, uh, we sweated a lot. But on to the equally important things of week 10. (Whew. Week 10?)

On Sunday, I drove. And drove and drove and drove. And that turned out okay (I may be overlapping stories here because I think I mentioned the iced coffee last week, too. But it was fantasmic.) Anyway, Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday were a lot of picking up kids and dropping them off and making waffles and ice cream cones and pitching tents and the like. You know, pretty much what I tell you I do every week because dang, those kids still like to eat meals. I don't have a single photo from any of this fun, sadly. Just trust me: it was fun. On Wednesday afternoon I started getting all packed up and when Aunt Jane got home I raced myself to the car and set off for Prattville. This was sort of a stress-free, easygoing drive until both Janie and Gracie called to let me know they were in Prattville, and unless I put the car in flying mode (which I haven't found), I was still an hour away. But really, what could I do, besides worry I was making everyone waiting around, when I was, in fact, making everyone wait around? Pretty much nothing but request a coffee, and so that's what I did. Then I promptly flew into my house and threw various articles of clothing and a sun hat into my suitcase and we were OFF. That's when the fun began, see. I mean, besides the tent-pitching, feeding-kids fun. Fun of a different nature, if you will. Fun with them.

                        
We did a lot of fun things, including a lot of nothing. When you do lots of something for weeks at a time, a lot of nothing with your best friends is better than brownies. At least that's what I say. In addition to doing a lot of nothing, we did a lot of lazy rivering, a lot of sun-soaking-up, a lot of eating, and a lot of working out, too. And luckily, we took a lot of pictures.

                        

                        

                        

                       
I never thought I'd say this, but 5 a.m. aint half bad when you've got your best friends and several cups of coffee helping it out.

On Sunday, we packed up and drove home. This week, my Nana accompanied me to the ATL and she's getting a taste of how her grandkids make it every day. Right now, she's hiding out in the basement, but I'm sure she'll get to used to it soon... Here's to a terrifically terrific week 11.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Moving right along

I've got a to-do list that's miles long (alright, well, it's a whole notebook page long) and one of the things on it, in big, bold lettering, is BUY STUFF. See, with a new bed comes the necessity of new bed linens and thus an ENTIRE NEW BEDROOM because it wouldn't be fun to move old stuff into a new apartment, would it? And besides, I don't have any bedding to fit this bed. Anyway, I agonized over this decision for months. Did I want to go calm and serene? Cheerful? Blue and green? Yellow and gray? Orange and blue? (Definitely not orange and blue.) Did I want elegant? Sleek? Simple? I just didn't know. What I did know was that I didn't want black and white (I had an abundance last year) and I didn't have a lot of money to spend and I wanted a quilt. And so after much research, and much scouring of Target, I decided on simple and bright. It's kind of me. I was going to go with this really bright multistriped quilt, but it seemed a little too kiddy. And finally, Aunt Jane took me and we cleaned out four (four!) Targets. I think she was mostly sick of my musing over what to do. At any rate, this is the let's-see-if-it-works look. I'm sure you'll be lucky enough to see it ALL put together, headboard and all in the near future.

I scored that picture frame at Home Goods for $4, which I thought was a pretty sweet deal, considering it matches fairly perfectly. I should also point out that the feathery pillow (and the polka-dotted one, actually) was very Aunt Jane and not very Lindsey, but it looks pretty good, doesn't it? (And it does match, because the other side of the quilt and the shams is that light blue.) I did pick out that nice, simple green one! I really, really can't wait until everything comes together and I get to go be in that room that's all mine. But I'm loving these weeks, too. Oh, life... you're tricky.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And then, nine weeks were gone.

And what a week! A whirlwind for sure, but really wonderful. We all know I'm a sucker for a whirlwind, right? This week started with a few days of nothing (alright, there was the Cake Boss marathon and the vacuuming of mattresses. I can't exactly go around calling Cake Boss marathons nothing because they're the bomb diggity. Much unlike vacuuming mattresses.) And then on Wednesday the something got going. We pulled out of our drive at 6 o'clock for Orlando- 6 o'clock p.m. And we drove there, that night, through the night, arriving in the middle of the night. We staggered in and fell into these pretty uncomfortable beds but we didn't care because they were beds, and after eight hours of the car, holy smokes, beds. I mean, I imagine you've experienced it, too: The moving of the pillow, the tucking of the legs, the careful covering of the blanket, all so somebody can start belting out Dixieland Delight and your legs can fall asleep right as you might have started dozing. BEDS!

The next day was all about the pool because, well, we don't own a pool and it was 153 degrees outside, and I think our logic speaks for itself. I actually read an entire book on this day, lounging by the pool. The very definition of vacation, no? The next day (if you lost track, this is Friday), we went to Universal Studios. We've been lots of times before because we have family in the area and always wind up in Orlando on vacation. So we knew where to go and what to ride, but even so, it was a long, long day filled with absolutely awesome roller coasters and less than awesome lines and sweat, but it was worth it. For example, Taylor, Emilee, and I waited in the line for Jurassic park for almost two hours- Taylor really wanted to do it, and nobody else was willing to get wet. Basically, you ride around in a boat and go down a pretty tiny drop, but Taylor DIDN'T KNOW. And so, when the ride BROKE DOWN while we were on it, right before the drop, RIGHT UNDER THE GIGANTIC, ROARING TYRANNOSAURUS REX, the woman next to him chooses that time to lean over and say, "You know there's going to be a great big drop when the boat finally moves, right?" Thanks, lady. Nothing like a little suspense to get a kid to cut your circulation off with the clutching of the arm. We got Taylor to ride lots of things he wouldn't before by, uh, leaving out some of the details. One day he'll thank us, I'm sure.

We spent the rest of the vacay visiting said family and eating crab and hitting up a boardwalk with some seriously rickety (read: scary and unsafe) rides and a whole lot of people calling us senoritas. And Sunday morning, we woke up, hopped in the car, and drove to Prattville in eight hours. If you're planning a weekend away, let me give you a piece of advice: Eight hours is a long time in the car. Sixteen hours is a long time to be in the car with five other people in four days. Think about your move before you decide to follow through with what is most definitely your most brilliant idea in 2010. Just sayin'. And if you decide to go ahead with it, call up my brother and ask for a second opinion. He may make you feel differently. (Seriously, we had a great time. We just drove a lot. This had nothing to do with the fact that Chris got lost nearly every time we went somewhere. Not at all.)

After that, I stayed home for approximately 34 minutes, and then I headed back up the ATL. I had sort of counted on that drive being a tad worse than full-blown torture, but it honestly wasn't that bad. An iced coffee, a phone call with my best friend, some Delilah dedications, and wham! I was there. The moral of the story is, people, that you CAN have whirlwind weeks full of LOTS of family time and TONS of driving and NO sleep and come out happy and healthy, coffee in hand, to tackle a week like week 10. And what a week it's sure to be.
video

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hump Day

I'd like to start by telling you that vacuuming mattresses in a dirty garage is not nearly as easy-or fun- as it seems. I mean, c'mon, I know you are all volunteering left and right to vacuum those suckers that your grandma has in her carport, but, hear me: DON'T DO IT. See, Hailee got new furniture this week (which is really exciting for both of us, because it means I have a bed to sleep on in my apartment. As pretty as that carpet was, I wasn't too hyped about snuggling with it every night.) And because she's nearing the years in her life when independent things are expected of her, it was her task to clean out all of her old furniture (and under the bed- Hailee is a little bit packratish) and vacuuming my queen-size mattresses that have been stored in the garage since I left for college. Being the compassionate, kind big sister that I am, I tried to contribute some sort of help and direction a few times. Because, you know, I've done that so much- clearly I'm a seasoned expert. Especially when it comes to vacuuming mattresses. With a Rainbow! That's right, Lori left the two of us in charge of handling a $1,500 vacuum. I suppose that insinuates some big, new level of trust, but whatever. It was ridiculous.  Dust was flying and mattresses were falling and water was spewing quite unlike it whirls when Lori is vacuuming and FINALLY, finally we carried the mattresses inside and Lysoled them and prayed that all the spiders were gone. And if they weren't, well, um, Hailee's the one sleeping on them, right? She'll be fine.

Those sort of experiences dominated yesterday, what with Hailee's new furniture, but the last few days have also been really relaxing. There's been a lot of early-morning TV watching and coffee sipping. There's been quite a bit of working out (!). Theres been enough Twilight viewing to last me at least a week. And all that's great because today marks the last day of a semblance of calm before the next whirlwind of a two weeks: Tonight, we're driving to Orlando. On Sunday, we're driving home. Also, on Sunday, I head back up to the ATL after a week and a half away from my kiddos. Wednesday night, I drive home- and also to the beach with Gracie and Janie. We return on Sunday, after which I drive to Alaska.

Just kidding! I drive back to GA. But I am certain that if you combine all that driving, I could most definitely make it to Alaska and halfway to San Francisco, too. Luckily for me (and everyone else, too, I suppose), I don't get carsick and I really, really like all the people I'm spending all that time with. You know, most of the time. Look, it's them:

Nobody would turn down eight hours in confinement with them, would they? I mean, YOU wouldn't, right? That's what I thought.

So, here's to the calm before the storm (of driving). And here's to making memories with them up there and these girls, too (because, I don't know, I haven't shown you EVERY picture we've ever taken together, okay?):

                            
Oh, c'mon. You can't NOT be jealous. Am I right? I knew I was. Anyway, after these next two weeks, there will be two more before The Move-In Day, another week of work after that, and then a few miscellaneous days before I start sleeping two hours away, making brownies in my own kitchen, and cramming my head full of really important things that have to do with Biology and French. I mean, is it going fast for you, too, or is it just me? I swear, I'd like an order of SLOW THE HECK DOWN, TIME with a side of MY SOPHOMORE YEAR BETTER NOT FLY, DANG IT. I'll pay extra for express shipping. 

Hey, YOU have a great two weeks, too! Try to soak up some of your time that's not spent commuting. Do us all a favor and hire a professional to vacuum those mattresses.Although I have to say, my neighbors might feel differently about the whole experience: They popped popcorn and settled in by the window for a hilarious show. Whatev, people!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Take it from me, Gracie.

Gracie Laine,
Oh my goodness, sweetheart! Your birth has been a whirlwind of all things crazy and scary and, of course,  wonderful, too. I haven't even met you yet because you're being forced to fight for your breaths and to will your heart to continue beating - but Gracie, I love you already. And I know they're probably not teaching you to read over in the NICU, but one day you'll be able to, and I have some things I want to let you in on, little girl.

Firstly, I want to say we're all really, really proud of you. You've proven that you have what it takes to stand up against whatever life throws at you- in your case, being thrown into life far before you're ready. Let me tell you, this won't be the first time that happens. There will be many, many times when your breath gets knocked out of you and you wonder how you're supposed to keep breathing, exactly, when your world has changed so very much and you have no clue how to make it in such a great big scary place. But let me say that you have proven already that you can handle it: You haven't stopped breathing. You're plowing through it like a champ, because that's what you are. And so hold on to that, Gracie. Don't lose that fire and strength because you'll need it. But I promise you one thing: coming through and ending up on the other side, breathing, is exhilarating. And after awhile, this world will start to feel more like home. And before you know it, you'll love it. But until then? Just keep breathing.

One thing I should probably go ahead and warn you about is the family. (Look, all of the family just got a little miffed at me for telling you that, but they know it's true!) Gracie, you've been born into this batty, stressful, insane collection of people. Man, I could tell you some stories! (One day, I will. I promise.) But Gracie, we're strong, and we're together, still. We stand behind each other, even when we're not sure why or how, and even when we've sworn we won't, we keep giving each other chances. No matter who's done what to whom, when it counts, we show up. We wrap each other up and we share our strength until we're strong again and ready for the next crazy thing that someone decides to do. I won't tell you it's easy- sheesh, your own birth has caused a mini uproar. I won't tell you it's always fun, because it's certainly not that. I won't lie and tell you that you won't wish- sometimes multiple times day- that things were normal, that we weren't who we are, but instead, completely different people who have their crap together. Trust me, love, I've been there. You know, I can't tell you why I was born into this family, and not some other more picture-perfect group. But I know God placed me here, to love them, and to be loved by them, and He put you here, too. So Gracie, I can promise that we will try our very best to be everything good for you, but I know that sometimes we will fail. Sometimes you will be disappionted and sometimes, you will hurt because of the very people who are supposed to love and protect you the most. But I think that happens in every family, Gracie. And you'll learn- you'll learn to bear with us and to believe in us and when you fall down and don't know what to do, we'll help lift you back up. Mostly, we'll love you with our whole hearts. We promise.

Gracie, most of all, I want you to know how much the Lord loves little you. I want you to know that while we love you more than we think possible, while we've been more worried and elated because of you than we could imagine, His love outloves ours a million fold. His joy over the perfect person you are can't be measured. And when we've been useless and unable to do anything to help you, when we've had to depend on the doctors- He's been holding you. His hands, Gracie, are the safest place you could ever, ever find. I hope that you'll grow to find them again and again, that you won't worry with looking in other places for this love, that He'll be your refuge and strength and joy from the very beginning. I'm praying this for you, sweetheart.

Here's all the advice I can give you: Love the Lord with all you have. Use that love to love your family, to love the people in your world until they can't stand it any more. Don't worry about how things will turn out, because as long as you're glorifying God, things will turn out for the good, whether you understand it then or not. Gracie, sometimes you won't ever understand, but don't you dare give up hope. You just keep going forward until you adjust to your new world. And always, always keep breathing.

I can't wait to see who'll you'll become.

All my love,
Aunt Lindsey

Friday, July 2, 2010

The eighth week.

It's July! And it has been for a whole two days. Crazy, huh? I am sort of in awe of how fast it is going, although Lori has advised me to stop wishing days away. I'm trying to soak up every day for what it has to offer, but it is getting awfully exciting to see my own apartment and starting school back again looming on the horizon. But it's still quite a few days away (like, oh, I don't know, 29 or something. I'm not counting if that's what you're thinking...) and so I'm pretty stoked for all that July holds: a family vacation, a trip to the beach, and lots of getting things done before August. This week has been sort of run-of-the-mill, but that's certainly alright with me. In addition to all of the craftiness of the stepping stones, we tie-dyed t-shirts, too! Sadly, it wasn't our most crafty endeavor, but Carson was really, really happy about them anyway, and that's all that matters.

And that's sort of it. We watched a bunch of movies and read some books and it was pretty sweet. Just kind of mellow, which was nice. Thursday morning, I woke up at 6:45 (!) and worked out (!) and then after I was certain I might have left part of me on the treadmill, I showered and ate some oatmeal and drove home. It was quite a tiring morning, and so once I got home, I may or may not have slept for a good two hours on the couch, but it was so,so lovely, because then I woke up and had a snack.

After dinner and all of that, Lori and I went upstairs to watch Remember Me. Being the Edward-lovers that we are (sue us, okay?), we were certain that is was going to be great. And it was, all until the last 5 minutes. I won't tell you the ending because that's just mean, but let's just say that my happy little world was upset. However, we got another fix when we went to see Eclipse today. We spend a lot of our bonding time watching cheesy girl movies, but we love it.

So see, it's been a pretty chill week. Not even any pictures, except for what you've already seen. I think I'll have more to report next week, because we head to Orlando on Wednesday! Hip hip hooray for roller coasters!

I'd like to thank July for being so good so far, and I hope things continue to carry on just as swimmingly.

In lieu of this-week pictures, here's a photo to celebrate exactly two months until the start of Alabama football. Roll tide, my friends.