From the outside of motherhood looking in, I get really excited about the things that we will do as a mother-daughter duo and as a family. I look forward to introducing my daughter to good music, taking her to the mountains and to the beach, and reading her endless good books aloud. I get excited thinking about our little family playing board games and having movie nights and going to Disney World. I love the idea of starting new traditions and I fully intend to make birthdays and holidays a big deal.
But when it comes to motherhood, there is definitely a list of things I won’t do:
- Drive a minivan
- Have those family stickers on the back of my non-minivan
- Post a “baby on board” sign
- Refer to my husband as Daddy outside the presence of our child (in that case it will be “your” daddy)
- Call myself Mommy to my husband
- S-p-e-l-l everything (confession: maybe that has something to do with my spelling inabilities)
- Take ridiculously posed newborn baby photos and/or pregnancy photos
- Exchange my music collection for kid songs and listen to only Rafi and sing-along-songs in the car
- Encourage co-sleeping
- Have a Lotus birth (Google it)
- Let the little ones win at everything (sounds evil, but trust me, it’s better this way)
- Allow snakes, gerbils, spiders, hamsters or anything other than a (hopefully hypoallergenic) puppy as a pet
- Refer to keeping my own kids as “babysitting”
- Use child leashes to corral the young ones in public
And I know I am diving into controversial territory here, but the following are a few things I probably should consider—but likely won’t do:
- Cloth diapering
- Natural childbirth
- Feeding my infant a diet exclusively consisting of locally grown, 100% organic baby food that I have pureed myself
- Too sane
- Too scared/ No thanks/ I have nothing to prove/ I embrace the wonders of modern medicine. (But I’m honestly open to hearing your thoughts on the topic.)
- Too busy/ Can’t I just buy it and save myself the trouble?
So that’s my list of things this soon-to-be-mother won’t do…what’s on your list?
Overall Disclaimer: I realize that observing parents and actually being a parent are completely different, so I’m give myself permission to renege on any of these pronouncements when our little one arrives.
Flash forward five years: I’m gassing up the van with the baby on board sign displayed loudly and proudly in the back window. Next stop, the vet. Our gerbil Mr. Winkers has come down with something and me and my cloth diapered children are all just beside ourselves about it.
I have mentioned before that My Man and I have different philosophies when it comes to indoor insects. He kindly catches bugs in our house and places them outside in the grass. I kill them with sinister delight. Perhaps this comes from our upbringing. His parents are birdwatchers. Mine have been involved in a conspiracy to kill a cat.
My Man’s parents moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina a few years ago. Though Hilton Head is a popular beach vacation destination, I’m not so sure they moved there for the beach. I suspect they moved there for the birds. Every time we visit them I can be assured that we will spend some time watching, discussing and looking for birds. Binoculars in hand, we hop in the car to drive to the conservancy, the rookery, and certain parts of the shoreline to scout the specimen in their natural habitat.
From the breakfast table in Hilton Head one morning, my mother-in-law saw a bird out in the backyard. She quickly grabbed the binoculars and took a closer look. She passed them to me so I could see. We all listened to the bird’s song and soon enough, possibilities of the exact species of the backyard bird were being traded around the table. As my mother-in-law and father-in-law tried in vain to solve this puzzle, I realized this was a tough one. I was ready to move my focus to my English muffin and discuss the plans for the day, but it became clear that they wouldn’t rest until they correctly identified the species, age and gender of this bird. Was it a juvenile Northern Rough-winged Swallow or an immature female Purple Martin? A Chuck-wills-widow or a Boat-Tailed Grackle?
Though I lean towards pastimes that have a winner—there is something to this birdwatching.
It’s such a peaceful pursuit. It takes research, patience, silence, and a deep love for nature. Bird watchers are a different breed. It is almost a personality type of its own—in the same way my sister and I will say “she is a camper” or “he is a gamer,” or how Marie and I will describe someone as a “Shane” or a “Shawna” and know exactly what that means. I’ve developed a similar character sketch for the birdwatcher–and I’m willing to bet that most birdwatchers obey traffic laws, don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, wash their hands, finish the novels they start, write handwritten notes, arrive on time, buckle up, never leave wet clothes in the dryer, and remember to bring their reusable bags to the grocery store. Clearly something to aspire to.
So this year, instead of making a long list of lofty resolutions, I am only making one: In 2012 my resolution is simply to become more of a birdwatcher. I want to live in the present, to take in the beauty of the moment and give my full attention to what I’m doing and who I’m with. I will seek to regain the endless attention span that multitasking, multimedia and the internet have stolen from me. I want to practice contentment and awareness and not be in such a hurry all the time. I want to savor these last months as a family of two because when I blink this amazing season of my life will be over. I will seek stillness and silence and take pleasure in nature, music, and life’s simpler pleasures. I will strive to be a better listener. And this year, my success at this endeavor doesn’t necessarily involve watching any birds. Though that would be nice too.
I know it’s a little late to share my New Year’s Day recipes for beans and greens but they were so dang good that they should be enjoyed year-round.
Last year we had a New Year’s Eve dinner party, but this year we invited some friends over on New Year’s Day for low-key afternoon of food and football to kick off 2012. Not being one to forgo the opportunity to execute a tradition, I decided to serve the classic New Year’s spread with a kick. I adapted a recipe from Southern Living, another from Cooking Light and pulled a few from the family archives. The end product was delicious.
Our menu included Hoppin’ John served over White Cheddar Cheese Grits, Collard Greens, Cornbread Muffins and brownies of course. And as the story goes…
Black-eyed peas=good luck and money
Greens = wealth
Brownies=beach vacations, healthy happy babies, wisdom, travel, laughter, new furniture, presents, romance, a housekeeper, absolutely loving new jobs, a warmer-than-usual winter, discovering great new music, long weekends spent visiting friends, discovering new talents, finding money in your pocket, and new iPad 3s for one and all.
((And truth be told, we made everything a day in advance. Our guests were none the wiser and likely had no idea that their host and hostess with the mostess slept until nearly 11am on New Year’s Day. Don’t judge! One of us is sleeping for two and the other is drinking for two.))
So without further ado, onto the recipes. And please forgive the sub-par pictures–New Year’s Day food just isn’t that photogenic.
Hoppin’ John Stew
(makes 8-12 servings—leftovers are awesome)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chopped smoked ham
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 (15-oz.) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 5 (10-oz.) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained (like Rotel)
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1 teaspoon sugar $
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional but encouraged)
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add ham and onion, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in black-eyed peas and next 3 ingredients. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in cilantro. Serve over White Cheddar Cheese Grits. Top with a splash of Tabasco or Sriracha, if you like it hot. Bow chicka bow wow.
White Cheddar Cheese Grits
(makes 6-8 servings)
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
- 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded white Cheddar cheese
Bring chicken broth and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese until melted. Serve immediately. (If you make these ahead, reheat on low and add milk to create desired thickness)
(makes 4 1/2 cup servings)
- 2 Canadian bacon slices
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped small
- 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
- 1 (16-oz.) package fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed (like these)
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- salt (to taste)
Preheat a medium pot or dutch oven and cook the Canadian bacon on medium for 2 minutes on each side. Remove the bacon from the pan, chop, and set aside. Add the oil and onion to the pot and cook on medium-high until onions have softened, about 4 minutes. Add collards in smallish batches until wilted, and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until everything is wilted. Stir in the cider vinegar, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, and broth. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook partially covered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or to desired degree of tenderness. (And so what if your mind wanders and you forget about your simmering greens! These quite frankly can’t be overcooked.) Add the splash of balsamic vinegar and the chopped bacon to the pan, and season with salt before serving.
Honey Cornbread Muffins
(makes 12 large muffins or 24 minis)
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk or 2%
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 stick butter, melted
- 1/4 cup honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.
Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden.
Not only are these recipes supremely scrumptious, they are healthy(ish). Well, at least the beans & greens are healthy! What better way to kick off your 2012 resolution to get the skinnies by bikini season?
Now eat up!
After all the gifts had been opened on Christmas morning…
There was still one to go…
Inside the adorably wrapped bag was something special identifying whether our little baby is a girl or a boy. The suspense was killlllllllling me.
We opened the package with nervous excitement…
…to find out that we are having a precious baby GIRL!
This will be the outfit she comes home in from the hospital. Just the thought of that makes this whole thing seem more real.
I was POSITIVE that the baby baking inside of me was a little boy. In fact, if I were a betting woman-which I am, I would have bet a great deal of money on the fact that we were having a boy. So far, my maternal instincts are 100% incorrect. Uh-oh.
But now I can say something that I would have gotten judged for before—I was (secretly) hoping for a little girl. I am SO, SO, SO excited. (as evidenced by the action shot below)
DISCLAIMER: obviously I would be beyond delighted to have a little boy. Let me be clear that all we want is a healthy baby, of course.
But a little girl—a little GIRL! You know what this means?
Anne of Green Gables, chubby little baby girl thighs, ballet classes, Little Women, Disney princess movies, baking cookies, dance recitals, adorable dresses, dress-up, Angelina Ballerina, art projects, fairytales, monograms, ruffled eyelet panties, monogrammed ruffled eyelet panties, Madeline, tea parties, dance parties, and ohsomuch more.
Visions of my little sugarplum are dancing in my head.
Clearly raising our little girl(!!) free from gender stereotypes,
Well, we don’t know yet. But we are finding out in TWO DAYS! I am beside myself with excitement. Here’s the plan:
Yesterday we went to the doctor for the big ultrasound where they measure arms and legs and count fingers and toes and, if you so desire, reveal the gender of your little one. We turned our heads when our baby was flashing the camera to avoid seeing anything indecent and instead had the ultrasound technician print the pic and write down “boy” or “girl” and place it in a sealed envelope.
Next we went to the most scrumptious baby store, B Braithwaite, and picked out something for a newborn baby boy and a newborn baby girl.
Now our pink or blue baby present sits under the tree waiting for us to open it on Christmas morning. We can’t wait.
*No peeking or shaking or snooping allowed.
*That message was mainly intended for me.
Sometimes I blog for your benefit—to enlighten you, dear reader, about things you ought to know about. These blog entries are virtual public service announcements wherein I enlighten you for your betterment. For example:
- How I told you to watch Happy Endings
- How I insisted that you give the band, Noah and the Whale a try
- How I wrote a post specifically to basement tenant Chuck, insisting that he break up with his verbally abusive girlfriend. (Unfortunately, Chuck neither reads my blog nor does he heed my advice because he proposed!)
- How I demanded that you make this pumpkin dessert instead of whatever sub-par pumpkin dessert you have been settling for
For these posts, I say “You’re welcome.” ((For the dance video portion of posts like this, I say “I’m sorry”))
Then there are the posts where I write things for my own benefit, to capture my memories in print so that I can go back one day and remember
when we were young, unfettered, and carefree things like weddings, vacations, special weekends, big life events, moving, and our crazy former landlord. This post falls into that category. I simply had to chronicle a few events from the past month so that I won’t forget. Shall I begin?
First there was our trip to the beach the last week of October. My Oneandonly and I decided that we needed a vacation and made Seaside, Florida our destination. It was a perfect week of splendid isolation. There were beach walks, bike rides, lots of sitting, dice games, movies and seafood.
The weather was perfect and there was not a child in sight (evil cackle). If I can give you one word of wisdom, it would be to go to the beach in April, May or October. The weather is divine and the beach is virtually empty because the kids are in school. Everyone wins. Especially me, at dice games.
And if you’re thinking, why is a sassy girl under 30 wearing a skirted tankini—I’ll tell you why. It’s because I burnt the absolute crap out of my stomach and upper thighs the first few days at the beach. And more importantly, it’s because I’m a modest and pure expectant mother, and I (we) think it proper to cover up. Next stop: wholesome wear.
Our last night we splurged financially and calorically and went to dinner at Café Tango. If you are ever in a 75 mile radius of Santa Rosa Beach, FL please go there for dinner. Upon recommendation of my sister who dined there the week prior, I ordered the Dancing Fish (Pan-Sautéed Fresh Fish Fillet Topped With Shrimp, Lump Crabmeat, Grilled Diver Scallop, and Spinach in a Jalapeño Cream Sauce). It was hands down the best entree and culinary experience I’ve had in 2011. (My best culinary experience of 2010 is chronicled here.) Something about dining in restaurants converted from quaint old homes just rings my bell.
In early November I made a trip to Austin, TX to visit my friend Marie. The same wonderful one-of-a-kind Marie whose wedding was documented here.
It was my first time traveling to Austin but I knew I would fall in love with it before I stepped of the plane. An outdoorsy city with lots of live music, Mexican food, former residence of Tim Riggins, and an abundance of walking paths is right up my alley. Marie and I had a ball. Unfortunately I only took two pictures the whole weekend—we were having too much fun for me to pause and break out the camera…
And then there was Thanksgiving. My Man’s family and my family came together for the feast o’ plenty at my parents’ house. Everything was delicious. Including my little nephew:
Dad and the world’s most perfect pumpkin.
Mom and Married Mip
The Captain and the kiddos. (I think he enjoyed their toys more than they did!)
Sadly, we have no pictures of the whole family together or the delicious spread. But I’m thinking the bump in the photo below is one part turkey, two parts AMAZING Oyster Dressing, and three parts baby.
But see it? See it?
I have been keeping a little secret from you. And I’m not very good at keeping secrets. (Unless of course, you tell me “don’t tell anyone,” then I am a steel vault.) So, the exciting news is that…
((Oh. So my mom’s already told you? I’m not surprised. She spilled the beans to her friends, total strangers, and even told our waiter at Jaliscos when I had her strictly under don’t tell anyone restrictions. First time grandparents…Whatcanyado?))
Our Little Love Child is due May 2nd and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Here I am on the day we found out. It just so happened to be Labor Day weekend, because even God gets a kick out of a good pun.
I still can’t believe it and I have to remind myself that this is really happening. We feel beyond blessed. When I went to the doctor last week I was shocked to see the baby on the monitor actually looking like a human person. It made it all so real and I felt tears rolling down the side of my face. I love him/her so much already.
Now this may be the hormones talking, but I want to clarify a few things. No, we are not pregnant. I am pregnant. WE are having a baby and WE are going to be parents. See the difference? Also, I am not preggers, preggo, a prego, etc. Preggers and any iteration of the term sounds like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. Eeekkkkss. I am simply pregnant, expecting a baby, or with child (biblically). Praise the Good Lord.
Onto the FAQs!
How was the first trimester? I was totally exhausted most every day and had bouts with nausea but I never threw up. I had zero energy and most days when My Man got home from work he found me laying on the sofa with my Seabands on. The package says they work for carsickness and morning sickness—what a value! Now that the first trimester is over, I can definitely say I did not feel like myself but I still think I had it pretty good, compared to some horror stories I have heard.
Any cravings? New episodes of Mad Men damnit! Wickles. Cereal. Warm weather. An iPad.
Are you going to find out the sex of the baby? Yes! If all goes according to plan, we will find out on Christmas day.
Are you going to find out who the father is? No, we want to be surprised.
Hehe. Just kidding. I think I have narrowed it down to this guy:
How far along are you? I’ll be 4 months next week. (that is 15.5 weeks to anyone who has been pregnant before and has switched their brain over to the metric system. I know when someone tells me they are 23 weeks I need to get out a pen and paper to do some long division to figure out what that actually means. So I’ll tell it to you in months and spare you the mental math.)
Are you showing? Any baby bump to speak of? To the trained eye, yes. My stomach is not how it was 4 months ago. My Man can definitely tell. But to the untrained eye, I suppose I look like I just ate a large Mexican feast.
How many at home pregnancy tests did you take before you really believed that you were pregnant? Seven. Is that normal? Assuming it would be negative like others I have taken in the past, we decided not to waste our money on the name brand and I tossed a cheapo box of Fact Plus in the cart at the grocery store. My Man and I inspected the test after I took it and couldn’t decipher the results. Both Fact Plus tests were vaaaaaaguely potentially positive if you tilted your head and looked close enough. I was cursing myself for being a Frugal McDougal as I devoured the crappy instructions in English and Spanish hoping for some answers. Then I anxiously sent My Man back to the store to buy a name brand while I chugged water. When he came back I took every test in the First Response box and every one was clearly positive!! Dancing and hugging ensued.
Are you excited? Yes! I am thrilled—My Man is thrilled. We just can’t believe we have been blessed with such joy. Life is really good, and it is going to be even better. (Different…but better.)
Before I commence the photo-essay about my sister’s wedding a few thoughts…
The whole weekend–starting with the BBQ party on Thursday night to welcome guests, the bridesmaids’ luncheon and the rehearsal dinner on Friday, and the day of pampering, preparations and wedding merriment on Saturday– was amazing. You have never seen a more beautiful bride (evidence below), a more joyful couple and prouder parents. The band was super-talented and the dance floor was on fire. And the warm chocolate chip cookies and milk, in lieu of a groom’s cake, was a magical touch. A good time was had by all!
(take that, Pippa!)
And as for my Maid of Honor toast, despite my nerves, I thought it went pretty well. It was easy to write since I absolutely adore my little sister.
What a weekend.
Selfishly Unfortunately, the professional photographers put those tacky copyright marks all over their pictures. Therefore, the photos above were generously taken by our super-talented family friend, Debbie and/or snagged from Facebook.))
And one more thing: I wish I had more photos to share of the amazing flowers. Darryl Wiseman, who also did the flowers for my wedding, totally knocked it out of the park for Molly’s big day. If you are planning a wedding in Atlanta (or just sending your woman a little something to tell her she is your Oneandonly- HINT, HINT, HINT*) do the right thing and hire him and his team to do the flowers. They do not disappoint!
*Something seasonal in autumnal colors would be great. And as you know, I have a penchant for peonies.
Remember when I used to be a blogger?
I consistently kept you on the edge of your seat with my recounts of must-see reality tv, workout DVD reviews, cookie recipes, tales of the old landlord, and the newest condiments you need to consume right now. I feel like I owe you one. Like I need to take one for the team and humble myself before my loyal readers to make amends for my month of silence.
Maybe I should show you my face without makeup like Kathie Lee and Hoda did? (I guess I already did that)
How about I share a mildly embarrassing video of myself dancing? Would that even the score? It is certainly worth a shot to get back on your good side.
A few disclaimers:
- I just found this gem on the computer and it was in no way created for public consumption. But that’s how much I love ya.
- The video was taken in the old house last March. (My Man filmed it to test our FlipCam)
- Yes. The video was taken in March and there are Christmas decorations in the background. I love my artsy manger scene so much I didn’t have the heart to take it down immediately after Christmas, or even in the remote vicinity of Christmas.
- The song, not on the billboard chart for top dance tracks, is called “I Am John” by the band Loney, Dear. I dig the beat.
- Sorry if you wasted two of your precious minutes watching the whole thing.
Now, we’re even.
That brings me to my list of big and little things going on lately that are worth dancing about:
Pumpkin season is upon us, and with that comes a bounty of pumpkin baked goods. Want something healthy-ish and pumpkiny delicious? Make this. Want something unhealthy and pumpkin delicious, make these.
My man has embraced yard work–raking, mowing and mulching. Look (and swoon) at his handy work:
New seasons of some of my favorite shows have started: Parenthood, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, Happy Endings,
Sister Wives, etc.
BUT most importantly, my little sister is getting married in a week! A week!
And there will definitely, definitely be dancing.
These days I play a multitude of roles: adoring wife, loving daughter, diligent employee, new neighbor, happy homeowner and MOST IMPORTANTLY, at least according to Emily Post, Maid of Honor.
((Well technically I am the Matron of Honor but in my book, the word ‘matron’ is synonymous to a plus-size nightgown with sleeves.))
Yes, I proudly hold the title of
Matron Maid of Honor in my little sister’s upcoming wedding. My job thus far has mostly consisted of engaging two of my passions—giving my opinion and offering advice.
As in: I love those flowers, please ensure that one layer of the cake is carrot with cream cheese frosting, say no to dye-to-match shoes, I would rather not plan or take part in a bridesmaid’s jog the morning of the wedding, I vote for shrimp and grits! And tenderloin! no “electric slide” etc.
Fortunately the bride, the MOH and our wonderful parents (who are funding this grand adventure) all agree on two main things:
Music: SO important. Incite the people dance, I say! How? You play music that gives them no option but to move. And lead by example. We are delighted that a band oozing with soul is making a trip to Atlanta from New Orleans for the big day. Odds are that they will not disappoint. ((It seems I have inordinately strong and perhaps controversial thoughts on the topic of a wedding band’s do not playlist that I’ve thoroughly outlined on a past post.))
Cue my all-time favorite wedding reception dance tune:
Menu: In a word, feed the people! Passed apps and a cheese spread do not a meal make. As a family, we agree that we want wedding guests to know they have eaten dinner. This does not require a sit-down formal dinner, and in fact we prefer that it doesn’t. But it does involve more than taquitos, tuna tartare and Bellini’s. We have officially failed if guests feel the need to swing by the Steak n’ Shake drive thru on their way home from the reception.
With the wedding a mere two months away, the planning of the blessed union and surrounding events is certainly in full swing. Invitations have been mailed, and sample hair dos were tested last weekend. There have been dress fittings and cake tastings and flower picking, oh my!
What has not been done is arguably the single most important task on this Maid of Honor’s list: planning my rehearsal dinner toast. It gives me hives and hot flashes just to think about it. How do you sum up your love for a little sister? To try to tell her how much she means to you? In front of a large audience? While you are trying not to cry so your face isn’t blotchy and puffy on the day of the wedding?
I am officially shaking in my
boots Mizuno Wave Elixir 7s.
((remember the Wave Elixir 6 SAGA? They are apparently out to get me)).
Champagne will help but it’s not going to be easy.
When you think Bachelorette party, what first comes to mind?
Limousines? Strippers? Strobe lights?
Well the bachelorette party I attended last weekend for my soul sister, Kristin, was none of those things—but it was ohsomuch better.
We headed to the quaint mountain town of Highlands, North Carolina to stay the weekend at the Bride-To-Be’s family farm. While we lacked access to nightclubs, strippers disguised as park rangers or police men, DJs, and even cell phone service for that matter, we were by no means roughing it.
We had delicious dinners that lasted hours
Cocktails o’ plenty on the beautiful porch
All-around general merriment
and my (unsuccessful) attempts to outshine the maid of honor.
We even made friendship bracelets to commemorate the occasion. Because we are the most popular girls in junior high.
And clearly got carried away vajazziling everything in sight.
The Bride To Be even taught me how to play backgammon one lazy morning. Take that, Las Vegas.
And of course, there was a surprise lingerie shower. Kristin decided to model each piece of negligee as she opened it. How thoughtful!
You wouldn’t have guessed it by looking at her, but the sister of the groom chose the most salacious piece. Just a wool scarf made of the family tartan. Yep, just a scarf. Let that mental image set in for a moment because there will be no picture.
The most special part of the weekend was Saturday night when we each read a letter we had written to Kristin.
None of us knew that we would be reading the letters out loud (the MOH neglected to include that tidbit in her instructions), but that actually made it even better. The letters were filled with sweet and hilarious stories, affirmations of love for the happy couple, and reasons why Kristin is such a special friend, sister and future sister-in-law. Not a dry eye in the place.
And this particular bachelorette weekend was made that much better for this reason—
I knew all of the bridal party already! Kristin’s sisters feel like my sisters and her friends have become my friends through the years. Dorothy, the sister of the groom was the only girl I didn’t know going into the weekend, but she certainly won my good favor with her choice of lingerie. Not to mention that her letter to Kristin tore. the. house. down. Dorothy, you made me laugh, you revealed you have a naughty streak, and you made my eyes misty tears of joy and gratitude. Well done, Dorothy!
Bottom line: Kristin has great taste in friends.
For many of us, this weekend was not about meeting new friends, it was about spending time with old ones. Is it terrible of me to confess that that’s my favorite kind?
After a series of exposé articles highlighting the corruption associated with the big-name moving companies in the Atlanta area, I opted to book with a company that boasted higher moral standing. Accredited by both the Better Business Bureau and evangelical Christians in Peachtree City, A Better Way Moving Company had the distinct honor of helping us make the move.
After sitting through “inspirational” hold music and running through payment and logistics over the phone, the polite representative said, “We look forward to helping you on July 9. We will be praying for your move.” The sentiment caught me off guard, but I will never turn down a free prayer.
The moving truck showed up bright and early on Saturday morning. Needless to say, we made quite an impression on the new and old neighborhood.
Sharing verses from Revelation illustrated by fully-armed winged man angels will never be my approach to sharing the Good News. The new neighbors are going to have to get to know us to realize that we subscribe to a different brand of Christianity. I’m pretty sure they are expecting us to start knocking door-to-door handing out hellfire pamphlets any day now…
After we said our goodbyes to the Better Way boys, we assessed the mountain of boxes before us. How we managed to fit so much into our four room rental house remains a mystery.
Remember how the nice man from the moving company told me that he would be praying for our move? Well, his prayers worked! It started pouring down rain right when they drove away.
It was like Christmas morning when my parents pulled up with a car full of wedding presents. They had so kindly stored all of our registry treasures at their house, awaiting the day when we would have a kitchen fit for a Cuisinart and cabinet space for our china.
My parents were work horses and made themselves supremely useful for the better part of Saturday and Sunday. My dad helped with the unpacking and heavy lifting and my mom b-lined to my new closet and made sure that my hangers were coordinated. It is no surprise that the same woman who keeps her Tupperware and “junk” drawers immaculately arranged also has a knack for quickly and chromologically organizing a closet.
They certainly earned their pay, in the form of an all-expenses-paid 10pm dinner at Jalisco’s. Strip-mall Mexican has never tasted so good.
But before we went to bed that first night, My Man and I had to take care of an important detail.
Traditionally, couples share the top of their wedding cake on their first anniversary. Because we enjoyed a delicious four hour brunch on April 18, 2010, we decided that we would save the cake for the first night in our new house. We had just started the house hunt and thought that surely it would only be a month or two until we were happy homeowners. Our second anniversary came and went with plenty of romance but nary a new home.
At long last, on Saturday night we carefully unwrapped the cake. Shockingly, the cream cheese frosting stood the test of time, a move and multiple power outages. It was delicious!
Our first Sunday morning in the new house was spent picking up essentials at Costco, Target, Ikea, Lowes and Best Buys. As if that consummate consumerism isn’t enough to make your head spin, I wouldn’t let myself sit down until I had a few rooms completely unpacked. Not a good idea. By dinnertime, this was the scene:
Yes, a mad case of the spins and violent heaving from a self-induced (and self-diagnosed) exhaustion migraine. Or maybe it was the 2 ½ year-old wedding cake…?
((My Oneandonly has an artist’s eye and insisted on capturing this raw moment on film.))
We have been in the new house a little over a week now, and I can finally, finally say that I have recovered from the move. Moving straight took it out of me. All of it. I am delighted and relieved that we opted for a house that we can grow into because I have no plans to pack up and move anytime in the near or distant future.
The big move happens tomorrow but I couldn’t help but take a small load of the essentials over during my lunch break today. The essentials, loosely translated, are those few items that were not in boxes this morning as I was leaving for work: a winter coat, a few bottles of wine, and these boots.
Today, I put the first thing where it belongs. Grinning ear-to-ear, I walked in the door to the smell of fresh paint and marched my boots right to their new home.
Evvvverything has a place. Do you know how good that feels? ((I’ll tell you who knows how good that feels–All of those type As who live and die by Real Simple, label their clear Ziploc bags and can think of 101 ways to use a coffee filter.))
Tomorrow will feel a lot like this:
Only waaay cooler, because just some, not all, of our stuff is made of plastic.
I am beside myself with glee.
Everything has its place, now I have mine.
So far on the blog, I have officially and publicly endorsed:
- The lottery
- My Man
- American Express
- Jason Hoppy and Tim Riggins
- Jillian Michaels
- Seabands (the cure for motion-sickness)
- Mizuno Wave Elixir running shoes
- A lot of other wonderful and/or delicious things
I have officially and publicly ridiculed and scorned:
- The tumultuous relationship between our former basement tenant and his girlfriend
- Heart-shaped engagement rings
- Our Landlord (who now lives in the basement)
I am delighted that the first list is far longer than the second. After all, Dear Reader, you come here to be uplifted, informed, and complimented for your good looks and good taste—not to hear me gripe and complain about things that get me down. Ammaright?
To that end, I figured today would be a great day to share a list of things that I have been loving lately, in hopes that you will love them too. I therefore bestow my highly coveted stamp of absolute approval on the following:
The TV show “Happy Endings.”
It is ridiculously clever. It’s so clever, in fact, that you can’t multi-task (like you are doing now) and you actually have to listen closely to catch the subtleties in the dialogue. The cast…
My Man and I were worried that we were the only ones in the continental US watching this gem but good news! Someone else (besides my friend Allie who blogs at Baxter Barks Twice) must be watching too because ABC just picked it up for another season. Catch up on season one re-runs on Hulu or Abc.com and let’s meet back here for season two.
The phrase” What’s the best price you can give me?”
(Most effective when spoken with a combination of southern sweetness and I’m not here-to-be-jerked-around-ness.) If you learn nothing else from me, please remember this: everything, I mean (mostly) EVERYTHING, is negotiable. Use this phrase anywhere from the Jiffy Lube to the high-end furniture store or fashion boutique. Try saying it in front of the mirror first, then take your new line on the road.
I guarantee 91% success in getting a better price than marked. Sometimes they will cut you a deal on the spot. Other times they may let you know of a future sale to hold out for, an available coupon, or a special price for a pair or a floor sample. Saving money sure feels good because then you have more to spend.
ESPN 30 for 30.
I know, right? You’re thinking Jennifer, you usually only reference shows on channels like E!, Bravo and HGTV—how can you possibly be into any of that sports propaganda on ESPN? Well ladies, because of quality programming like 30 for 30, (and because I live with a boy) I now know that HD ESPN is channel 846. And I have even been known to check out what’s on said channel even when not lovingly coerced by My Oneandonly.
30 for 30 is a series of 30 documentaries by different filmmakers that capture some of the biggest issues, events and stories that have happened in the past 30 years in sports. If you like Ken Burns’ documentaries, Behind the Music, or chocolate-covered raisins from Trader Joe’s, you will like 30 for 30. I have not seen all 30 (because clearly I devote most of my TV time to the channels mentioned above) but the ones I have seen are amazing. The first one I saw was called “The Two Escobars,” about the interesting connection between coke-lord Pablo Escobar and soccer legend Andres Escobar. It was incredible.
These documentary films each stand alone and are really well done and well directed. And the DVD set would be an amazing gift for the man (or men—no judgment) in your world.
The band, “Noah and the Whale.”
I have been into this band for a while now, but until last night, I had never had the opportunity to see them live. All I can say is damn. And wish I could see them again tomorrow. ((CLICK HERE for the setlist from last night with links to listen to the tunes. Three cheers for the world wide web.))
Their studio albums are pretty good but their live show positively floored me. See them live in concert, I say!
Here’s another one for your enjoyment.
Oh! And another. (Certainly worth waiting out the 10 second commercial)
Check them out if they are playing in your city. You will not regret it.
Edy’s Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae Ice Cream
Three different delicious flavors in one handy container! Great idea or great idea?
And I bet the Triple Chocolate Peanut butter Sundae is really good too.
So that is just the tip of the iceberg of things I have been loving of late. What’s on your list?? Please share!
The day after we closed on the house(!) we packed up and headed down to Florida for a week at the beach. The timing of it all was almost too good to be true.
Last year I recapped the annual trip with a photo-essay staring my feet.
Although it was riveting, this year I wanted to give you a broader picture of our trip. It really was pure bliss.
One of the things I love most about being down at Watercolor is looking at all of the beautiful houses. Not a musty old beach cottage in the bunch.
There is something soothing about being in a community where even the sewage hoods and the lampposts are thoughtfully and uniformly designed.
Just going for a walk around the neighborhood is like thumbing through the pages of a glossy magazine. Add a podcast of All Songs Considered to the mix and there you have five of my favorite things all happening AT THE SAME TIME: walking, looking at pretty houses, listening to music, listening to smart people talk about music, and vacation. It was almost too much.
We intentionally chose to plan our spring vacation for a week that is still in the academic calendar. This meant that
- The beach was way less crowded
- I could get my snoop on and look in lots of windows at the interior décor without being arrested
After a delicious dinner at Fish Out of Water, we hung out by a neat fire pit by the beach-side pool.
Here I am sitting by the fire and practicing my Guliana Rancic pose: looking down and to the side. (The up-to-something smirk was my addition.)
And is there anything, anything better than going for a sunset beach cruise with The One You Love?
Well, maybe sharing a chocolate soufflé with warm flur de sel caramel sauce with him. Two nights in a row.
We are homeowners!
Or are we home owners? Not sure. But either way, we entered a leather chaired conference room, signed abizzilion documents, transferred a large amount of our hard-earned of money, exchanged firm handshakes and emerged homeowners/home owners.
The House is now Our House!! Like I said before, from the first time we saw it I was smitten. I would show you a picture of the adorable exterior, but since there are so many creepers on the internet (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Instead, I’ll offer an artistic rendering:
That’s the new house made entirely of chocolate covered raisins.
And let’s revisit the list I made ohsolongago, about what we wanted in the future house and see how it stacks up:
- an open floor plan where the kitchen flows into the living room (YES!)
- a yard for a future (hopefully non-shedding) dog (YES!)
- a quiet street in a walkable neighborhood (super hilly neighborhood, but YES! and better yet, it is in walking distance from some of our very best friends!)
- at least 3 bedrooms, so yall can come visit (YES! 4!)
- a value. a deal. a big bang for the hard-earned buck. (We found a rare gem)
- located on a flood plain (No! no flood insurance necessary)
- on a busy street with double yellow lines (Not even a single dotted yellow line)
- choppy floor plan (No! It’s very open with a great flow)
- an on-site seller’s agent who talks to My Man throughout the entire home tour, and only talks to me when pointing out the features of the laundry room (No seller’s agent to speak of, in fact, the house was never officially on the market and we are actually friends with the builder/former owner )
- a master bathroom that makes me feel like I would get an STD from taking a bath in the black marble tub (I’m talking to you, house on Martin Court) (I am SO excited about the bathrooms in the new house. Baths will no longer be reserved for hotel stays!)
- the lot backs up to an interstate or is in hearing distance from one (nope!)
- really low ceilings (high ceilings!)
BONUS gifts that weren’t even on the list:
- Two closets in the master bedroom
- Dark hardwoods
- A front porch
- Speakers throughout the house
- Wainscoting in the dining room
To say that I am all-caps SUPER EXCITED doesn’t even cover it.
Moving day is currently scheduled for July 9, but there is a chance that we might be able to move that date forward a bit. 58 days and counting…
((And almost, almost, as exciting as closing on Our House was sending The Landlord (who currently lives in the basement apartment) a notice that we will be moving out. Sigh. Of. Relief. With a dash of take that you unhygienic, penny-pinching cable thief))
I’d be willing to bet that Kate (err Catherine) Middleton and I had very similar nights last Thursday:
- Crest Whitestrips
- Eyebrow tweezing
- Liberal Proactiv application
- Toenail touch-up
- Beauty rest
No, last Thursday wasn’t the night before my internationally televised and vastly attended royal wedding, but it was eve of my TEN YEAR high school reunion.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we…
Junior Prom, 2000
And here is a close-up of me and my High School Romance.
Ah, first love. xoxo.
Ten years later,
and clearly back and better than ever, I was too caught up in the excitement of the reunion to take any photos myself. But fortunately a few of us jumped in the smilebooth at the end of the evening:
It was a great night.
Anyone giving advice to prospective home-buyers likely includes this pearl of wisdom: “Don’t get emotionally attached to a house. Until it’s official and everything is signed, there are no guarantees.”
Translation: Be cool, you ninny. It’s not yours yet and it probably never will be. So spare yourself the potential disappointment and stay cool. STAY COOL.
Easier said than done.
From the first time we saw The House, I was smitten. I went to sleep dreaming of the dark hardwoods and the open floorplan. A few days later I was completely mentally and emotionally packed and already visualizing the place where we would put the Christmas tree. I knew I was in deep.
We have been house hunting for almost a year and this was the first time anything remotely excited us. So despite words of warning and my better judgment, I willingly dove in headfirst. While My Man kept his poker face, I was just excited to be excited.
I imagined what my life would be like in the beautiful master bathroom. You know, to have somewhere where you really feel squeaky clean? I dream of it! Since I left the nest (my parent’s house) I’ve never lived anywhere where I have even been tempted to take a bath. It should be noted that I LOVE baths, but the bathroom at our current digs is far from spa-like. And there is always the possibility of an unwelcome surprise visit from the landlord…
When I drew a picture of The House in white icing on My Man’s Toaster Strudel, I knew things had gotten pretty bad. But I willingly let myself go there.
The thing is, I had no idea if buying The House was even a possibility. Among other issues, The House technically wasn’t on the market yet. The important questions were swirling around my head: Can we afford it? Is it a good investment? What will our interest rate be? Will we like the neighborhood?
Where will we put the Christmas Tree? When can we move in?
Over the past few weeks I have been drinking a tasty cocktail. Recipe as follows:
1 part anxiety + 1 part excitement + 1 part longing + 1 part fear of disappointment + 2 parts red wine
It goes down pretty smooth.
Well, after three weeks of conversations and negotiations, I am delighted to report that we are officially under contract. I couldn’t be more excited! I suppose I’m still supposed to be protecting myself from getting too attached, but clearly I stopped doing that a long time ago. Sure, something could still fall through. There is always the chance of termites or tornadoes. And we still have to do an inspection and the appraisal and all of that, but I am hopeful everything will work out.
Not a done deal, but pretty dang close.