Monday, August 31, 2015

And the Library Keeps Growing...

So on Friday I mentioned that my husband bought me a stack of new books at a super-fun book shop in Brevard, NC. Want to know what I scored? You're in luck 'cause that's what we're talking about today.
First up, two Alexander books by Judith Viorst. Most people are probably familiar with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in which Alexander talks all about his rotten day and how he should probably just move to Australia. Especially since it recently inspired a major motion picture put out by Disney. (Which I wasn't particularly a fan of, but let's not get into that right now.) But did you know there are several other books about Alexander? In Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Alexander recounts the mysterious way the dollar his grandparents gave him on Sunday disappears throughout the week. Judith Viorst is hilarious, and I can't get through any of the Alexander books without giggling at some point. I highly recommend adding them to your library. 

Next up is A Kiss Means I Love You by Kathryn Madeline Allen. I had never heard of this book before, but it practically jumped off the shelf and into my hands. I fell in love with it instantly as I turned page after page of beautiful photos of children who all look different from each other and fun, rhyming words that depict how children express their thoughts and feelings. It reminds me of Little Humans by Brandon Stanton which I am also a huge fan of. Definitely a keeper.

I've had my eye out for a good hardback edition of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams for a long time, and I finally found it. It's a classic, and if you haven't had the pleasure of reading it, please go find a copy right now. It's a precious story about how toys can become Real with the transforming power of nursery magic. (Don't worry, it's not mystical or voodoo-y.) I can never read this story without getting a little choked up. I love it dearly.

Finally, we have Morning Song: Poems for New Parents edited by Susan Todd and Carol Purington. With sources ranging from the Bible, Sappho, and traditional songs to Dickinson, Yeats, Frost, and contemporary poets, this lovely collection celebrates the joy and wonder a new child brings to a family. It has thirteen different sections starting with "Beginnings" and ending with "To Arrive Where We Started". I'm a sucker for a good collection of poetry to begin with, and this sweet book captivated me. This would be a perfect gift for any new or expectant parents. 

So there you have it. Does my husband spoil me or what? Have you heard of or read any of these books? 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Casual Fridays

Friends...countrymen...lend me your ears. Kidding! And no, I haven't been reading Shakespeare lately (but I offer up 100 Cool Points to the first person who comments on the post with the correct Shakespearean play I just quoted. and googling it is totally cheating, but I guess there's really no way for me to know if you did or not so...we're on the Honor System here). I just don't even know where to start with this post. As you've probably started to figure out, the summertime has not been great for my blogging habits. I've just been too busy living the good life which doesn't allow much time for writing about it. Also, I'm feeling a teensy bit peeved at the moment because I e-mailed myself pictures from my phone like a million years ago and they still haven't shown up in my Inbox. If my phone is so Smart, why can't it get my photos from Point A to Point B? My Dumb Phone did better than that. Does anyone have any insights for me about this? I finally just downloaded the Blogger app, created a post with all the pictures I was trying to e-mail myself, published it, then got on my laptop and reverted the post to a draft so I could actually create what I wanted. But then the formatting got all wonky so eventually I just saved the photos from the draft to my laptop and started a completely new post. This seems like an overly complicated and completely unnecessary way of doing things, but alas, here we are. C'est la vie for the technologically disinclined. Somebody help.

Moving on...

Last weekend, Cody and I roadtripped up to NC for some quality R&R in the Smoky Mountains. First of all, here's a picture of us in case you forgot what we looked like:
Aren't we cute?

Anyway, we headed out Thursday afternoon, and after some healthy debate, we decided to stop at a Chick-fil-A for dinner. On a whim, I decided I wanted to try one of their frosted lemonades. Apparently, it was Frosted Lemonade-palooza day or something and when we pulled up to the window, the sweet Chick-fil-A lady handed me this squeezy lemon stress ball and a big sticker. I promptly informed Cody that we should move to this town immediately. He laughed and said something about how we can't move just because the Chick-fil-A people are nice and give me cool stuff. Whatever. 

Here we are again chilling on the back deck at my brother's NC house. Don't we just look deliciously relaxed? Saturday night, my honey took me on a date night in Downtown Brevard. We went to a great hole-in-the-wall kinda book shop, and he bought me a stack of new books (more on that Monday), then we browsed through the funnest toy store ever (O.P. Taylor's), and finished off our evening with dinner and ice cream at Rocky's Soda Shop (yum!). I loved all of it especially because Brevard is where we spent the first week of our honeymoon. Such a sweet time reliving those memories and making new ones. 

Are you so over all this gushiness yet? Sorry I didn't issue a Sap Alert. I just can't help myself. I have the best guy in the world. 

Let's change the subject.
Colonel's Corner
This shaggy guy thoroughly enjoyed our trip to North Carolina as well, although I have to say, he calmed down noticeably and turned back into his sweet, chill self when we got back home. Which makes me happy because he knows where his home is.

Anyway, have I ever mentioned how he carries things around like it's his job? Because he does and it is the most adorably silly thing you ever saw. The other day, we were headed out on our morning walk, and he picked up this random stick and carried it in his mouth the entire walk. He does this with sticks of any size, pine cones (who knew "pine cones" was actually two words? not me till just now), moss, palm branches, pieces of tire....pretty much whatever he can get ahold of. It cracks me up.

On Tuesday, Cody and I finally used the annual passes I got him for his birthday and went to Busch Gardens. It was hot, but fortunately, not crowded at all. (I credit that to the fact that school started back up this week.) We had a blast, per usual, and I'm looking forward to wearing out our passes this year.

So if any of you have a pass (I'm lookin' at you, Christina) or want to go to Busch Gardens for any reason, hit me up 'cause my pass is good till August 25th of 2016, and I will totally go with you.

Basically, I'm telling you to get a pass. Busch Gardens is the bomb. 
Because how often do you see a giraffe just hanging out with a major rollercoaster in the background?

Oh and speaking of our Busch Gardens trip, get this: when we arrived at Busch Gardens Tuesday morning, we got out of our car and I noticed several pennies on the ground.

Fun Fact: I will always--ALWAYS--pick up any coin I see lying around (laying? lie vs. lay is one of those grammar rules I have never mastered--I know it has something to do with something reclining vs. something being placed...) no matter how disgusting it is. A penny saved is a penny earned and all that.

So we gathered them up and Cody, to my horror, just stuck them on the back bumper cover of the car and started to walk into the park. Something about how if someone steals the pennies off our car, they need them more than we do?? I'm super-spiritual and submissive so I sweetly followed his lead and silently lamented the fact that we just struck gold and were leaving it for someone else.

Well, yesterday morning, as I was loading Colonel back up in the car after our morning walk, I SAW THE PENNIES! Apparently, they survived the entire drive home from Busch Gardens, two separate trips to the church and back, and the jaunt over to the walking trail where Colonel and I went yesterday.

That or some penny fairy put more pennies in the exact spot we left the ones we found in the BG parking lot while Colonel and I were out walking.

The world may never know.

It was time to update my toes again, and since I obviously feel the need to tell you about this every time I do it, let the record show that Thursday, August 27, 2015, I gave myself a pedi.

I'm calling this my "Transition Into Fall" color.

And just so you know, the curse lives. One of my toes is already smudged. And it happens to be the same one that smudged last time. I tried Lyndsey's technique of two thin coats of color and a thin clear coat, letting each one dry before applying the next.

However, I'm not patient so maybe each coat wasn't totally dry before I applied the next.

Whatever, man.

Link Love
-Best Groomsmen Dance EVER : This is fabulous. Reagan, Oakie, where was this at my wedding? Also, that bride's bow is next level. You have to watch to the end to get the full effect of it, but wow.

-Dead Husband Walking : I just can't even. Cody showed me this and we both were rolling.

-Waiting : No explanation needed.

Well, that's it for today. If you need me, I'll be over here eating Pillsbury Chocolate Chip cookie dough straight out of the tube. #guiltypleasure  #totallyhealthy  #sorrynotsorry

What's been happening in your life lately? 

Monday, August 17, 2015

30 Years

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad! 
You two have shown me everything a marriage should be.
I love you forever.
Here's to 30 more!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Feeling Seussy

Hello and a happy Wednesday to you! We haven't talked Dr. Seuss in a while, and since I'm in a major trend of avoidance until my new Christy book arrives, today seemed like a good day to discuss one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books of all time: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.
If you remember way back to our first Seussy post, I mentioned how much I love this book. It may be my very favorite book by Dr. Seuss (with Oh, the Places You'll Go! being a strong contender). In The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, we meet a little boy who was having just another ordinary day....until the king comes into town. The king stops his entire royal procession when he notices that Bartholomew has failed to remove his hat. Or has he? In front of the king and the entire town, Bartholomew removes the hat sitting on his head only to have another hat appear in its place.

In a rage, King Derwin orders that Bartholomew be brought to the palace to have his hat removed. No matter how many hats Bartholomew yanks off his head, more still appear and by the time he reaches the palace, he has taken off more than 100 hats. The king then calls in Sir Snipps (the palace hat expert), three generations of Nadds (the wisest men in all the land), the Yeoman of the Bowmen (to remove the hat with his archery skills), magicians (because this must be Black Magic), and even attempts to have Bartholomew beheaded (fortunately, there's a rule against chopping someone's head off whilst said person is wearing a hat). Try as they might, no one is able to successfully remove Bartholomew Cubbins hat. 

This book is pretty much hilarious and many might say that it has no clear moral message. It's just a fun book for kids. However, there is one subtle theme in this book I'd like to discuss. One character we meet among the pages of The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is the Grand Duke Wilfred, King Derwin's spoiled brat of a nephew. Throughout the story, the Grand Duke bosses the king around, throws royal temper tantrums, and is generally a disrespectful little twerp. In contrast, Bartholomew, despite his frustrating and frightening situation, remains polite, humble, and obedient to all of the king's commands, even going so far as to march himself down to the executioner to have his head chopped off. Eventually, King Derwin puts a stop to Wilfred's awful behavior with a well-deserved spanking. 

Even though the Grand Duke Wilfred is barely a central character and his part in the story is not the main point of the book, I love the fact that he gets his comeuppance and that Bartholomew Cubbin's good behavior is rewarded in the end. That's a message worth reading to your children.

Proverbs 16:5 says, "Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished."

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is hardly a "Christian" book, but it demonstrates this scriptural truth in a fun and entertaining way. 

And I think that makes it worth reading. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

I'm Back!

Hi! Hello! How've ya been? Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? Now, I realize it's Monday, and we're supposed to be talking literature around here, but let's pretend it's Friday and do a little catching up. I feel like we need to get reacquainted. 

First of all, lest you think I'm like, the laziest, most neglectful blogger alive, we have been in the process of switching internet service providers and my laptop didn't take to the switch too well. So I was pretty much internet-less all last week except for on my phone, and, let's get real: ain't nobody got time for trying to blog from my phone. I don't know how anyone does it, but those people are amazing and unendingly patient. (I'm lookin' at you, Lynds.) And speaking of Smart Phones, I'm getting used to mine except I miss having actual buttons to press. I've decided touch screens are for the birds and texting takes forever now. I'm not even being dramatic about it at all. Anyway, our new internet is way faster and my laptop finally got on board so we're good now.

Now that you know the technical reasons behind my radio silence last week, I'll be straight with you and tell you why I really dropped off the grid. My hubby turned 25! And he requested homemade apple pie and brownies. Brownies I can whip up fairly quickly but my apple pie is a pretty big endeavor which involves making a mess of the entire house. Totally worth it though when you get this:
I mean, amiright? It's totally fine if you're drooling at the screen right now. 

He also requested steak-green-pepper-and-onion-kabobs from Publix (which he actually grilled himself because this white girl does not operate that kinda heavy machinery) and macaroni-n-cheese (totally in my wheelhouse) which led me to try out a new recipe which I've decided to share with you now because Holy Wow, it was that good. Do yourself a favor, throw your diets to the wind, and go make yourself a pan of this cheesy goodness.
To start off, this is The Best Ever cookbook and my go-to for any and all delicious recipes. Thus, I give you Macaroni and Cheese, page 398.

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (7 oz)
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 oz)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook macaroni as directed on package.
3. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted.
4. Drain macaroni. Gently stir macaroni into cheese sauce. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

I followed the directions 100% except right before I popped it in the oven, I dumped sprinkled more cheddar on top. Y'all. Make it and get ready for a party in your mouth. It's definitely the best mac-n-cheese I've ever made, and I've tried my fair share of recipes. You're welcome.

Colonel's Corner
Check this guy out. I've taught him how to pose for the camera perfectly. He's a genius.

Ok fine. 

The truth is: Cody was standing right there making him stay so I could take a picture to send to my sister for her birthday. He fears Cody's wrath so he listens to him. (Can't you see that abject submission in his eyes?)

But isn't he just the sweetest thing you ever did see?

The fun new thing with this guy is that he follows Diddy and Dixie across the TV while I'm playing Donkey Kong. (Yes, Donkey Kong Country 2 on my old-school SuperNintendo.) He's seriously riveted to the screen anytime I'm playing and it's hilarious.
If you've been here long enough, you are acquainted with my ChapStick addiction and yesterday, my sister-in-love gave me this new one. It's the best

She loves me. She gets me. 

Either that or she's angling for some future babysitting favors. As if she needed to.

In fact, she will be dropping my favorite youngest niece off here in a couple hours and I can't wait.

There we are circa May 2011. I love us. Thanks for my new favorite, Lyndsey!! It's totally sitting less than two feet away from me as I type this because you know, I need to reapply every 9 seconds or so.

Anyway, I think we're about caught up on all the exciting stuff in my life (oh quit judging me because I think ChapStick and new recipes are exciting), except I didn't tell you that we got a humongous new TV because my husband says I shouldn't put stuff like that on the interwebs because strangers will try to rob us or something. I promise someday we'll talk books again. In fact, Christy should totally be arriving THIS WEEKEND, y'all! Which will either mean a super-giddy recap next Monday or more blog silence because I'm still poring over every single word or pacing down by my mailbox if for some horrifying reason it hasn't come yet.  

What's going on in your life lately? Oh and P.S. I've totally been jamming to Cheerleader by OMI lately. Yes. Yes I have.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Sweeties!

Happy Birthday, my honey! I love you forever!
Spring 2012 

And Happy Birthday, Najati! We love you, sweet girl!
I'd also like to take today to direct your attention to the right side of your screen (if you are viewing my blog on your phone, you're going to need to scroll down to the bottom and change to the web view). Have you noticed that Compassion box? As you can see, Cody shares a birthday with our oldest girl Najati. She lives in Tanzania, and today, she turns 12 years old. We love her dearly and pray for her consistently. We write her letters, and she writes us back. I would encourage you to consider sponsoring a child in need. You will change his or her life for the better and fall in love in the process. We hope to be able to visit Najati one day, but we may never get to hug her this side of Heaven. If you have questions about how this all works, I would love to talk to you more about this amazing ministry. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Sarah Beth!

Happy Birthday, Sissy! I love you forever!
May 2006
bringing in 2014 together