Saturday, September 20, 2008

How August Turned Five

As you can imagine, I have not had too much of anything exciting to write about lately. But I did neglect to post about the kids' birthdays. Part of my problem is that I just don't have a lot of writing energy, whatever that is. It does exist though, and I don't have it lately. But I will be sorry if I don't mention the birthdays later. And I am sure you are all sick of seeing six things about me just freeloading there, hogging the spot for the most recent post. So here you go, a new post.

We spent August's birthday weekend in Arkansas with my sister Sarah and her family in their new home. Sarah and her husband just recently moved to Arkansas, only weeks before their second son, Gavin Matthew, was born (under water in their home)! Sarah's husband, Patrick, is one of sixteen chefs employed by Tyson foods in Fayetteville. He is one of four who works for the national restaurant division, which means that you can go in Steak and Shake, Applebees, Papa John's, or Moe's- pretty much any chain, and eat something he and his buddies created. Pretty cool eh? This, to me, is the proper retribution for the unfortunate situation he found himself in right after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and being unable to find anything except work as the chef at a Carrabba's. Carrabba's has strict recipe making rules, they want the pasta at every Carrabba's to taste exactly the same. So even when Patrick vastly improved some of the sauces on the menu, they were thrown out without being used because they weren't the same as every other Carrabba's sauces. Well, you can sort of understand that even though it would be infuriating for a creative young chef fresh out of culinary school. After a few years there and a few more working for a New York regional bakery called David's Cookies, Patrick landed this great job at Tyson Foods. Now he makes up the recipes for all of the Carrabba's! Beautiful! I was able to tour the kitchens and all of the amazing facilities at Tyson. Their kitchens are any girl's dream! They cover everything from gorgeous Viking ovens with eight burner ranges to massive deep fryers with pumps for the used grease (where does it go? away. evidently they use it for fuel); they even have Pizza Hut pizza ovens and Burger King burger broilers with which to try their recipes. It took a better part of a rainy afternoon to take all of this in. But, all in all, it was a really great way to spend a rainy afternoon. So sorry Gustav, you just couldn't get us down! 

We spent several days in Fayetteville, and Labor Day was spent at what sounded like an amazing water park. This was a daddy and big kid outing. Patrick and Seth, who is two and a half, George, Amabel, and August were the big participants. The mommies and babies stayed home. Sunburns and stories came home with the crew though, and we heard all about the super fast water slide tubes, the giant mushroom umbrella with water cascading all around it, the much kid friendlier dolphin and boat slides, and the high dive off which Patrick later regretted trying tricks. 

For whatever reason, this year August was all about tractors. His birthday gifts included many Schleich farm animals and a great big red tractor and his first few Transformers. So the biggest event of our weekend was that Aunt Sarah arranged for him to ride on a really really big tractor for a birthday treat. It was pretty enormous, so enormous that he was actually a little scared. Luckily, there was room for Amabel inside too. They had a great ride, but I think Elspeth was a little sad there wasn't quite enough room for her too. After the tractor ride, we took a trip to the Farmer's market in downtown Fayetteville, a charming little place, where, among other things, we found delicious, pink peaches, sweet and refreshing limeade (or caffeine packed iced coffee for the mommies), and colorful bundles of zinnias.

August's actual birthday was the Wednesday after Labor Day and was spent mostly on the road from Arkansas to St. Louis. We had a nice little party for him the night before we left though. Patrick helped the kids makes individual sized pizzas at home. They got to roll out the dough and put whatever toppings they wanted on them. For dessert, the kids got to make their own ice cream sundaes, and of course, each sundae was complimented by a nice slice of birthday cake. The following morning, we had a little more sweet for breakfast at the local doughnut bakery before saying goodbye and heading off to the Lou. We stopped about halfway to St. Louis in Springfield, Missouri at the super big Bass Pro Shop. We saw lots and lots of turtles and fish, spiders, snakes, ducks, and even a lonely pheasant. We had been there the same time last year when George guest preached at a church in Springfield. But it was fun to go back and to have something a little entertaining to do on the road for Aug's big day. Once we arrived in St. Louis, we enjoyed dinner and dessert, hot dogs and oreo icecream cake, prepared especially for the birthday boy by Grandma. 

So, maybe that's enough for today- a trip to Arkansas, two birthday parties, and an interesting description of Patrick's occupational history. We'll chat about Elspeth's birthday sometime soon. She's two now, you know. And it will take a whole post to explain all that that involves anyway. 

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Six Random Things That Took Forever To Write About!

So, I was tagged! I love being tagged. Well, I love that someone thought to tag me. In this case, it was Sarah. It depends on the tag whether or not I really love being tagged, and we'll just have to see how this one goes. This tag was a blank canvas of sorts, just six things about yourself. Six things though, I mean, are there really six things left that y'all wouldn't already know about me? We'll see what I come up with.

Here are the rules:

1) Link to the person who tagged you

2) Post rules on your blog

3) Write 6 random things about yourself

4) Tag six people and link to them

5) Let the tagger know when the entry is up

Here it goes:

1) I have never had sushi. I really think I want to have sushi though. One of the best meals I ever had was at Liluma, this perfect little restaurant in the Central West End over here in St. Louey, on George's and my last anniversary. I had this extremely yummy tuna tartare. Mmmm. Oh, and I also had this fantastic seared tuna encrusted with this lemon basil salt, but it was cooked so it has nothing to do with sushi. I really just love seafood. But I am scared of seafood because it can be done badly, or really because of the freshness issue. I almost only trust seafood at the beach. But I am slowly learning to trust it at fancy restaurants and swanky grocery stores. Yes, I am a major food snob. But then, you knew that. Anyway, I have decided that I am fired up about sushi, but I only want really really good sushi. So, if you know a good sushi place in either St. Louey or Nashville, let me know. I'm on a mission! Incidentally, I highly recommend Liluma. I have eaten there twice and both meals were fantastic. I don't think I can say that about any other place in town.

2) I am extremely hot natured. This has always been embarrassing to me because it is always the tiny little girls who get cold all the time. I always feel like a big blubbery dope because I get so hot. It took having a son with as much hair as me to make me recognize that having this much hair on your head is like wearing a fur hat all the time. And well, no wonder I'm so hot! I mean, I could still stand to lose a few, but at least I am not mercilessly reminded of that every time I get hot. The hair and hot factor also accounts for my 24/7 pony tail. I feel bad about it, but I can't stand all this hair hanging around. Really, you have to have met me, but it is probably more hair than anyone you have ever met in your life. Or, so says anyone who cuts my hair.

3) I cannot abide florescent lighting. As earth friendly as I aspire to be, as economical, as energy efficient as I would really love to be, I will never buy florescent bulbs for my home. I don't care if incandescent light bulbs become illegal, I will stockpile them in my home before the stores run out. Florescent lighting is weak, ugly lighting that makes everyone and everything look dull and dirty. It's like being in 1984 or that other awful book, Anthem. I can see that this is a really strong reaction, but it comes of 8 weeks of living in other people's homes, having to deal with their florescent bulbs. And let me just say that neither George nor I have parents that are particularly interested in the environment. They're so after the savings on the power bill! But, to me, and this is obviously just my feeling on the matter and not a moral judgement, I would so rather spend the money on the power bill and be able to actually see what I'm doing in pleasant lighting than have to squint at things and hold them up to the sunlight to be sure what color they are or to tell whether or not they are dirty. This is also why it was extremely easy for me to quit shopping at Walmart five years ago. I would rather spend a few cents more somewhere else that has better lighting. Of course, that isn't why I quit shopping there; there's a whole post on that (it's actually pretty well done too)!

4) I use that Proactiv stuff. Maybe a lot of you do too. But it took me a long time to quit being skeptical about a one size fits all acne product. Some of the boys in my eighth grade class called me "Zit Queen." I think it was just feeble attempts to strike up conversation with the new girl, but my parents quickly rushed me to the dermatologist when they heard. The problem with a dermatologist is that he comes in and stares at your acne, the very thing you hope no one will do. He prescribes stuff that doesn't always work- it's really just trial and error- but often makes you peel or break out even worse. After a couple of years, I just quit going. I tried loads of different things with and without old Dr. Day and landed on Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash for a while, years and years actually. When I was expecting Elspeth though, I kept breaking out on my chin. It would not go away even months after she was born in spite of the dozens of different products I tried. Last December, I finally decided I had nothing to lose by giving Proactiv a whirl, and it has been pretty amazing. I almost never break out anymore. I'm a big fan. One size may not fit all, but it does fit me!

5) I have never ridden a bike with handbrakes. I don't think. Yeah, I have irrational fears of crashing on a bike. I didn't actually get rid of my training wheels until I was like eight. And by the time I outgrew that bike, we were in this neighborhood in Macon, Georgia with major hills and I was too scared to ride my bike anymore. So, I just never upgraded. Even when we went on vacation and rented bikes, they always had those little "coaster" bikes. So, there ya have it, I have never ridden a bike with handbrakes which also means that I probably haven't ridden a bike in a good fifteen years. That's too bad. I need to fix that.

6) I love Jim Gaffigan. Do y'all know him? He's a stand up comedian, for those who don't know. Oh man, he is so hilarious! Really, like tears streaming down your face hilarious. I also really enjoy Demetri Martin. But not quite as much as Jim. Discovering a good comedian is particularly exciting to me. I just love to laugh. You can laugh too by looking for both guys on Youtube. They have tons of videos for each of those guys. But I am too lazy to put links up. You really should look them up though. Good times!

Alright, so there's my six things. I don't think I am going to tag six more people though. I get the feeling most people don't like to be tagged. It's fun though, so if you want, feel free to play along! 

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Groggy and Soggy, but trying to be Bloggy

Why is it that I have dozens of blog posts swimming around in my brain until I sit down at the computer? I really have no good excuse for posting less lately. I could easily have written about going out into the yard every few days with Amabel and August and walking around the perimeter, then up and down and up and down looking for turkey feathers. We found quite a few. Our big flock of twenty or so turkeys came through at least once a week, it seems. We found bluebird feathers, cardinal feathers, and blue jay feathers as well. All of them are gathered up and waiting for a Thanksgiving craft (we figure by then we'll have enough to make a couple of pine cone turkeys for the table).

Or I could have written about the various other birds I saw. Some of my favorite people, including my Nannie and my friend Annie, have been bird watchers; but I never could get interested. But, as I said, my parents' house offered quite a bit of wildlife and not much else, so we started to notice the birds. I don't know, maybe there's something depressing about someone like me starting to notice the birds! I don't have that quiet, gentle, observant, and appreciative spirit you know. I am wrestless to the core! But I know what a Goldfinch is now, and that's something. It was sort of sweet because I had my Nannie's old bird book, and I could look up the birds and see which ones she had observed herself. To me, birds have always all looked the same, unless they had some striking color characterization; but now I can see the differences in beaks and tails and even notice their relative size. Okay, so most of you might do this naturally, but I tell ya, it is all new to me.

I could also have written about my runs, which were good times to observe the birds and see if I could remember their features when I got back to look them up. Bird watching really only made up about 10% of my running multitasking. Most of my time was taken up praying for the stamina to take one more step! I had this great run in highschool, a real "easy" run, which was to run the mile from school to the park, run the two mile loop at the park, and then run the mile back to the school; if my coach assigned this run, it was a joyous day. Knowing that I certainly could not do the mile from the school, nor the mile back, I tried myself for the two mile loop, two miles of many inclines and (I was determined) no stops. The first day I went out, I remembered that there is a curious thing about the loop. If you go counter clockwise, as I usually did, the loop is almost entirely uphill. If you go clockwise, it is almost entirely downhill. I ran the loop for years without ever running it clockwise! Anyway, my problem was that a) I couldn't remember which way was the downhill and which way was the uphill, and b) I wasn't sure if I wanted to boost my confidence with a strong two mile run (which would likely backfire because I would have guilt over the downhill "cheating") or possibly suffer major personal defeat in not being able to do two miles, half of my former easy run. I set out in the middle of a gradual downward slope, seeing that it would soon turn into an uphill slope, an uphill slope that would continue, without even the slightest plateau, for 1.2 miles, after which, there is a nice down hill for about 100 yards, and then it went right back to uphill until I reach the last downward slope that I had started out on. Then, of course, I knew that I had gone the hard way. But I finished! Okay, so two miles is not much, and I already knew I could do two miles, but I was pretty proud of the whole uphill thing. But the run itself, the run was glorious. I was back at the park, you know the Warner Parks I love so dearly. I saw deer just steps away from my path, turtles actually in my path, horseback riders on beautiful horses walking paths that intersected with mine, and the charming old moss-covered stone walls, which were said to have been built in the 30s as public labor projects for unemployed workers during the Depression. I felt like surely I recognized every little pebble, every fallen leaf and every blade of grass. Of course, that's impossible, but even the new leaves and the new grass felt like home. And at least the trees were there before and surely they recognized me! I had the chance to go back a couple of times before I left, and I stayed with the hard route. Now I just have to find me a route around here and work on up to a good three mile run.

I could also have written about a coincidental encounter I had with an old sorority sister (hooty hoot!). A family in my parents' neighborhood had a new baby sign out in their yard and I asked my mom if she knew them. My mom, like all too many suburban home owners, is shamefully unaquainted with most of her neighbors. I mean, after twenty years, it's time to meet the folks down the street! Anyway, she didn't know them and thought they were fairly new to the neighborhood. So the kids and I decided to make cookies and ride bikes down the street to greet them. I met the dad and the little boy, but the mom and the new baby were busy. We were fixing to leave, saying maybe we would see each other outside soon, when the mom came to the door. I recognized her instantly as a girl from my pledge class at Auburn. We never really did get the chance to play outside, but it is fun to know she'll be just down the street next time we visit. I have actually told most of you this story, because I thought it was such a hoot (pun intended), but here it is for the rest of you.

And I suppose I even could have told you all the yuck of everything, how I am shaken to the core with God's apparent plan that seems so clearly anything but good to me. And yet, I know that he is so very good, and that this is His plan. I have been sent a link to this blog twice, and to this particular post as well, and while I am still working to get past the cheesy music (there is a pause button) and unusual blogging style (is this an excerpt from something you read or are you just writing like you are Laura Ingalls Wilder?), I really appreciate what I have read so far, both for wisdom and for perspective. And yet, here I am stressed to the max and feeling on the inside like this awful hurricane weather on the outside. I hesitate to post about it because I am in the middle of it. It is one thing to say how horribly you felt and how panicky and doubtful you were at one point in the past, but that God graciously guided you to courage and trust. It is another thing to say "I'm doubtful. I'm furious. I'm miserable. I'm exhausted. I'm terrified. And I'm sick of this crap!" But what am I if not honest? I have certainly been mad, sad, and afraid before. And this I know; God is faithful. Although, currently his faithfulness looks a little something like a futon matress on my mother-in-law's basement floor.

As my sweet friend Courtney used to tell me, "there is always sunshine after the rain." It is such a simple thing, and yet, it has always been an encouragement to me. St. Louis is a soggy mess right now, but I know it will be hot and sunny someday. (Has it been rainy here all week? I just got here, but it has been raining all week in Arkansas, and we drove all day in the rain yesterday.) Just as surely, we will not be homesick forever. There is a home for the Edema family. Surely. In the meantime, I will try to be more faithful to blog about the little interesting thises and thats. We are thrilled to be back at The Freedom School, and Sunday will be a wonderful thing back at Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church. Have I ever said where we send our kids to school or where we go to church? Well, I have now. I highly recommend both. If one has to be in St. Louis, those are the best places to be! (Insert wink and smile here).

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