Friday, May 31, 2013

At the Drive-In

Going to the drive-in looks a little different these days ...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Birthday

To sum up, I had a really good birthday this year. I normally like surprises and am not one of those women who picks out her own gifts and tells her husband what he got her. But this year, Jeff announced, "I know what I'm going to get you for your birthday, and I want you to do the research and pick it out." Okay, then! So I spent a good part of the next day researching "e-readers" - basically Nook vs. Kindle. As I kept a running tally of pros and cons in an open e-mail to my sweetie pie the clear choice was Nook. I know that an e-reader seems like the perfect gift for me, but I admit I've been a bit of a snob concerning them. I truly love the feel and smell of a good book in my hands. And I don't think I'll ever let go of them altogether - too "Fahrenheit 451" for me. But I do like my new Nook. I didn't want a lot of bells and whistles, though I did go for the one that is lighted - lots of long nights nursing ahead, not to mention reading in the car after dark.

With soon-to-be 4 little crumbsnatchers, a cover was pretty much a necessity.

Screensaver: Brontë Sisters.
I love having "bookshelves"!

All I have on there right now are some free classics - which has been my only complaint so far. I have the Kindle app on my laptop and have never had issues with the free books available through that. With Nook, however, I downloaded several that I ended up having to delete off because they were very poor quality - major typographical errors, gibberish in the middle of words, etc.

Currently (re)reading "Wives & Daughters" - absolutely LOVE Elizabeth Gaskell. She's often overshadowed by Jane Austen, but they're both wonderful.

On my actual birthday, my sweet friend Kim stopped by with a lovely frappuccino, and even lovelier flowers.

On Saturday, Jeff took me out to lunch (Italian food, of course!) and then to see Star Trek! Ever since we saw the release date of the new movie, we had an understanding that would be my birthday date. I have loved Star Trek since I was a little girl and JJ Abrams since Alias. A perfect match, in my opinion. (Speaking of  a perfect match,  how spot-on is Karl Urban as Bones? Is he DeForest Kelley's secret grandson or what?!) I'm also having lots of fun plotting how to spend the birthday money from Mom and Berk. I've splurged on a pedicure so far, and am hoarding the rest until I decide on what to do.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Last Thursday was a very busy day for us! Especially considering I don't like leaving the house, we had a full day planned. First thing, we went to pick up our friend Kim and her nephew Gabe. Then I had a check-up for Lauryn and me. (Kim bravely waited in the car with the kids!) We're both doing very well - she's growing right on schedule, my weight is perfect (yay!), and the only catch is that baby girl really likes to hang out on my right side - snuggled up to my vena cava. This means, essentially, that I am prone to feeling very faint, and though I haven't actually passed out, I've come close. The only way to fix it, other than giving birth, is to shift to/lay down on my left side and hope she moves!

Anyway, we grabbed some lunch after my appointment before heading out to the State Botanical Garden. There is a group of ladies who meet there every Thursday to make bobbin lace. It's a beautiful, intricate art that Kaity loves to watch. The group is headed up by a British lady named Caroline (she says "jolly good!") who is very sweet. I've been telling Kaity we'll go back to see them and we finally made it. After chatting with Caroline a bit, we left Kaity with the group of ladies working on their individual projects and walked out into the actual garden. Our friend Andrea, who is the Volunteer Coordinator at the garden, walked around with us, showing us all the fresh-blooming flowers and interesting plants along the way.

Gabe and Selah were especially taken with the bronze statues of children in front of the garden.

If you look smack in the middle of the picture, you can see the Brittle Blue-Tailed Lizard that Joe was tracking.

Andrea and Joe inspecting the Lamb's Ear.

Kim with Gabe and Selah.

Selah and Gabe holding hands. So sweet!

Friday, May 24, 2013

15th Anniversary Trip: Chattanooga, TN

It's hard to believe I haven't even posted pictures from our anniversary trip back in April yet ... We had a fantastic time, of course, the bed and breakfast was delightful, the food (most importantly!) was delicious, and the drive was gorgeous. Y'all know Jeff was in seventh heaven driving in the mountains.

The first item of "business" on our itinerary was a tour of the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant. That was pretty amazing. The streamlined processes, the meticulous attention to detail, the effort gone through to preserve the environment while still being practical ... incredible. But no pictures of that!

 Naturally we visited the famous "Chattanooga Choo Choo" hotel, and toured the model railway museum. As you can see from the sky the weather was stunning - it made walking all over town an absolute joy.

Jeff seriously took nearly a dozen pictures to try to get one where I didn't look goofy. But he was determined! I think he almost made it. ;)
We walked across the Walnut Street Bridge - well, halfway across. Then we turned and came back the same way. It was at the end of the day and I just wasn't up for it! You can see the aquarium over my left shoulder - we didn't go on this trip, no time, and we wanted to walk the city rather than be indoors. We even ate lunch outside twice (not on the same day, ha!), it was that beautiful! And on that note, we highly recommend Urban Stack for mouth-watering burgers, and Brewhaus for not necessarily authentic, but deliciously Americanized casual German food.

The views from the bridge speak for themselves ...

The circular design in bricks on the right is an arrangement of fountains.

My favorite view from the bridge.
Our bed and breakfast ... The hospitality there was outstanding - the hostess even prepared some Turkish coffee especially for Jeff when she found out how much he loves his coffee.

My Father's House

This was a view near our B&B on Signal Mountain. The second mountain in the distance is Lookout Mountain. We didn't visit it this time for any day-time hiking, but we did do the Lantern Tour of Ruby Falls which was very cool. We had a terrific tour guide, and that makes all the difference, of course!

Heading home ...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Pottery Palette

A couple of months ago, two friends of mine opened a new paint-your-own-pottery place in downtown. I was immediately excited, of course! Not only do I love to see new businesses come to the downtown area I couldn't wait to get in there and get creative. When I stopped in to say hello and check the place out, I knew I'd have a hard time deciding what to paint first. From adorable little figurines (owls!) to coffee mugs (Jeff!) to vases and platters ... decisions, decisions.

Anyway, you probably know me well enough to guess that I chose the practical route first. It helped that my friend Amber was with me and she chose the adorable owl, so I got to enjoy that vicariously. I picked out a coaster set, four disks with a black metal holder.

The plan, which I have already implemented, was to make a coaster for each child. Then when they drink water throughout the day they can place their cups on the coaster belonging to them. I don't have to wash 15 cups every day, and they don't have to wonder what happened to their cup.

I wish I were more artistic, but I know my limitations. Initials and polka dots.

Kaity, Joe, Selah, Lauryn. :)

Naturally Lauryn won't be using hers for a while, but I'm sure it'll come in handy for all those cups of coffee I'll need to get through her first year!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


One thing I hate about not posting for a while is that I have no idea where to start when I get back to it! Consequently, following is a random collection of daily life snapshots. Enjoy.

Selah declared these bears to be Mommy and Daddy and set them up this way several times over a period of a couple of days. She is such a mess! I'm not sure what this says about her perception of us ...

Selah loves to "help" Joe with his dishes.

Play-Doh! My kids are no exception to the universal love kids have for this salty toy.

When our local library had its grand opening, we had a great time enjoying the festivities. Kaity and Selah had their faces painted. Even though this was a couple of months ago, on a recent trip to the library she asked if she could get a cat on her nose ... it took me a minute to realize she wanted her face painted like a kitty again!

Snuggling and watching TV. My sweet kiddos.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Big Silver Rectangle

One of the first things Jeff and I began to think about when we learned we'd been blessed with baby #4 is a vehicle. Our small house was a close second, but we figured we'd cross that bridge later. The vehicle situation was a bit more urgent. A family of six would definitely not fit in either a Jetta or a Taurus. Jeff began an internet search over the next few weeks, just keeping an eye on what was out there and figuring up how much money we'd need, the value of our current vehicles and how to juggle it all around to get a van of some sort. Being a VW nut, he naturally had picked out his ideal - a 2003 Eurovan. In the meantime, we had been borrowing his parents' truck, trying to sell it for them while one of our vehicles was undergoing maintenance.

Jeff's parents had graciously offered to share a portion of the sale price of their truck to help us get what we needed for a van. That amount plus what we saved, plus selling one of our cars would give us a nice amount for a good used vehicle. We were very thankful and Jeff continued looking for a suitable van. After some thought and prayer, Jeff and his parents decided that it would be easier all around if we just traded vehicles - we would have the truck to sell, keeping all the money from it, and he would sign over the Jetta to them and they could sell that.

Meanwhile, incredibly, Jeff found a 2003 Eurovan, silver, in really good condition but with high mileage. The price was truly lower than we'd ever expected to find, yet slightly higher than what we could profit from the truck. Exchanging emails, Jeff inquired whether they'd take anything in trade. The reply was a curt, "Only a 4 wheel drive truck." Well, guess what we had to trade ...

After more emails with pictures and details going back and forth, the couple agreed to meet up with us - at their house in North Carolina to see if the trade would work out. You know how there are moments in your life when everything comes together perfectly? That God has truly orchestrated the steps and prepared the way so that His hand is unmistakable? This was one of those times. They immediately liked the truck and we knew this was the van for us.

As the men looked over the vehicles, the wife and I began chatting and discovered many similarities in our lives - a connection to the military, children with a similar age gap (i.e. Kaity and baby being 13 years apart), homeschooling, even their little girl's name being the same as Joe's middle name! When we walked into their home, the first thing that caught my eye was a familiar-looking carved wooden plaque on the wall. As I approached it, I realized the carving was of the city where I was born in Germany, with the name carved underneath! When I asked about it, the husband told us his grandmother had immigrated to the United States from that very city.

It was really overwhelming to see God meet this need in our lives so beautifully. We traded the truck evenly for the van, at no out-of-pocket expense other than the gas to collect it.

As an interesting follow-up, Jeff's brother Jason had had the Jetta, working on it and getting it ready to sell. Jeff and I went to pick it up so Jeff could list it for sale and have it available to show to those interested. When Jeff arrived home with it, our neighbor came over to ask about it. Amazingly, he was in the market for a good used vehicle and ended up buying the Jetta!

Our van, which I affectionately refer to as The Big Silver Rectangle. It's much roomier than a standard minivan and we love it! It seats seven, in case God has any more surprises in store for us ...