Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Break

So our spring break week with Al just came to a close. Goodbyes (or "see you soons") are always rough for all of us and filled with Allie hoping and praying something goes wrong and causes a flight delay. Although we appreciate the sentiment, we never hope something goes wrong with her plane! Ha! Oh Al... how sweet and innocent you are.

Anyways, back to the fun stuff.... As usual, our week was action packed. Here are the deets...

Friday night we had dinner at home and then went and played games in the Advance basement, one of Allie's favorite places!
Saturday, no pics. What is wrong with me?!

Sunday lunch at Mellow Mushroom (sadly I have no pics of Allie playing with church friends this week. Blast!)
And Z's wearing the knitted tie my sister made him. Awesomeness.
Monday was filled with hanging out at the Carsons and going to a Bobcats game.

Drawing with AG

That night, we took the train downtown to the arena for the game.
Zach and Ian. (Ian is Z's brother and he came for the week too.)
This was Allie and Ian's first NBA game.
Allie, in her usual spunky, creative way, wore 3 hair bows for the occasion- "1 for style, and 2 for team spirit," she said. Ha! She also brought a bag to the game full of art supplies, a canvas, and a giant feather.

Allie's drawing
I seriously adore this girl and her weird ways. HA! It often reminds me of my artist friend Whitney who has the most beautiful outlook on life of anyone I've ever met and is also the most creative person I've ever met. Allie is so much like her it's scary sometimes, so I try to allow this uninhibited creativity to flourish like I'm sure Whit's parents did.
Tuesday was filled with more hang time with friends and laser tag at Sports Connection.

Team blue, plus me
A flower hairband, her new favorite dress, and a gameface. Love. This. Girl.
We ended up playing 5 games and by the end of it, all of us were pouring sweat and exhausted. Ha!

Wednesday was filled with helping out at Kids@FHC and preparing for our big Easter exhibit. Allie LOVED helping sort all the items kids will receive while going through the exhibit and helping Mr. Bill construct some "empty tombs"!

Mr. Bill showing Al how to work the saw. (This simultaneously makes me proud and terrified. Ha!)
A pro

Allie and I also had an impromptu picnic at FHC that day and thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous weather and golf-course like grounds at the church.

We are especially fond of this old, cedar tree near my office.
Allie also spent most her day playing with the two birds that belong to the children's ministry. She affectionately named them Cherry and Dennis. Lol.
The animal experience continued later on when Al, the nature girl, caught a lizard at the house. She named him/her? Apple Pie.

We also went and saw The Lorax Wednesday night. Allie had been asking to see this Dr. Seuss movie since February so we were happy to finally take her. In lieu of the occasion, Allie and I got all "flowered up" (we dressed up in flowery clothes and wore flowers in our hair) for the night.

We actually watched a TON of movies this week including The Adventures of Tin Tin, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Tom and Huck. I guess it's become sorta our spring break routine to eat dinner and then cozy up for a movie in the living room. We also introduced Al to the old tv show Saved by the Bell that we all loved growing up. Watching it as an adult is hilarious by the way. I had no idea how cheesy the show was! Ha! Oh well... another generation can find enjoyment in it. :)

We also introduced Allie to Oh's, the best cereal on the planet that no one seems to know about (except Brenae Barrett and Adam Witkop). Allie loved this crunchy, sweet goodness just as much as us and enjoyed it for breakfast some mornings. What a great treat!

Thursday was "P Day" for me and Allie. It was as it sounds, a day filled with 'p' things- painting, a picnic, the park, and all our lunch food started with the letter 'p'! It was so incredibly fun. I will post a lot of pics from this tomorrow, but here's one for now.
And on Friday, Allie and I did some gardening. Al LOVES plants and flowers and aspires to be a landscape architect. I'm completely serious. (Aren't you proud dad?) I asked her, "If you could be really really really good at one thing, anything - art, music, etc. what would it be?", and she said, "Landscaping. I want to do landscaping like at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel." Again, she is a total gem and you never know what creative, inspiring aspirations are going to come out of her mouth. :)

Anyways, so Allie and I took a trip to the best nursery EVER, Rountree Plantation. This place was breathtaking and humongous. It had every type of plant ever and the people that work there were so helpful. Thanks Debra for all your recommendations! I will post more pics from this adventure later, but here's one for now. :)
Allie and I got a lot of herbs and some fruits and vegetables as well as some plants for the containers on our front steps. Also, Allie bought a bleeding heart plant for herself since she loves unusual plants.

We had a great time putting together all our containers and getting this growing started. I am hopeful that I will not have to buy any herbs this year from the grocery store!

On Friday, we had lunch at Flying Biscuit, per Allie's request.
Daddy-daughter love outside the mall

Gosh we love you Al and every single second you are here. Those 5 weeks in the summer just can't get here fast enough - for any of us! :) See you soon!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Allie's Heaven

So Allie is here right now for spring break. That should explain my MIAness here on Citizens. Lots of quality time with our girl going on right now. Anyways, I will be posting a plethora of photos from this week and updating you on our latest adventures, but I wanted to share Allie's recent description of heaven. This week, I've been writing some lessons for the Exploratorium (elementary school large group environment) and the week following Easter is on heaven. I asked Allie what she thought heaven was like and quickly jotted down what she said.

Allie's heaven
"Heaven is like a big city with all these kind, loving people in it. Some of the buildings are tall, but they are all covered in rubies and jewels. The jewels are stuck in the walls of all the buildings. There are golden roads cause God likes gold and a wall made entirely of pearls. Right in the middle of the city is Jesus and God and there are seven old people sitting around them. There are seven lamps and seven chairs, obviously, that the old people are sitting in and they are reading. There is no sun in heaven because God is this sun. And bees don't have stingers because it is so peaceful. Nothing can hurt anybody. You can even pet a lion and they won't be mean to you." 
I love this girl. And I love her description of heaven. Pieces of biblical truth and her childlike perspective woven together to make a beautiful image. She gives me a new perspective on all things, all the time and I am so blessed to not only call her "daughter" but "friend."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I Need to Know

So I don't read blogs much, but lately I've been looking for some new cooking inspiration. THIS GIRL needs some new fabulous recipes. Anywho, my recipe hunt led me back to a website I haven't visited in ages, The Pioneer Woman. If you don't know who The Pioneer Woman is, YOU must be from the 20th century. Ha!

Ree Drummond, also known as "The Pioneer Woman" is the woman behind this "Martha-Stewart-on-steroids" website. She lives on a ranch out in who knows where with her husband (a rancher), 4 kids, and dog.
She homeschools, cooks incredibly fabulous meals, gardens, is a photographer (of everything especially food), travels for fun, for appearances, and for book signings (did I mention she's got a few cookbooks out?!)
She is also a storyteller/writer sharing stuff from her family's life and just this year started her own Food Network tv show called, you guessed it, The Pioneer Woman.

And she writes about it all. Daily. She does all those things listed above and THEN edits her photos, writes about everything, and then posts it on her mega-blog style website. ???!!!

Ok, seriously Ree?! SERIOUSLY?! How do you do it? You must have at least 20 people working for you! Tell the truth!

I've tried to do research on this and googled everything from "Pioneer Woman how does she do it" to "who works for the Pioneer Woman" and... nuthin'.

And it takes about 1 minute and 37 seconds reading her website to figure out this chick is no pioneer woman. She's got more kitchen gadgets and appliances than William Sonoma! Plus a gigantic and fabulous (and constantly being re-designed) home affectionately called "The Lodge" and some humongous piece of property out west. She has seemingly unlimited resources so she has to have worker bees helping her pull it off. Right?

How. Does. She. Do. It. All.

I need to know.

Because I certainly can't. I try, but it's impossible! Just cooking and photographing and writing about meals ALONE is time-consuming enough! Seriously! (And side note: How does she take cooking pics of herself pouring something or scooping something? It's impossible to hold a DSLR camera steady with one hand. They are too heavy. Does she have freaky super strength too?!) Ok... back to bizz... so throw in meal-planning and grocery shopping to all that and that's just like... 1/6th of her website.  This chick HAS to have personal assistants. That's assistantS... plural.

Ree. Share your secret. And if you do do it all yourself, share your recipe for your crack-laced superwoman abilities on the website. I will mostly definitely whip up a batch of whatever keeps you going and accomplishing so much.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Daughter Day

Sunday night was some unexpected "family" fun for me and Zach. Advance, our church's student ministry, had a mother-daughter event and I went as a fill-in-mom for one of the girls in my LifeGroup since her mom was working. It was so fun! I loved being Emily's mom for the night and was so incredibly proud to see her (and Brisa) lead worship for the first time.
I guess it's only natural "my daughter" would be one of the worship leaders! Ha! :)
When I got home, our friends Ashley and Peter were over so we could FINALLY meet their new baby girl and only daughter, Abigail. She is seriously the cutest, lil' puddin' of a baby! I forgot how magical fresh new skin is and miniature features. Welcome to the world Abby! We love you already.

We loved hanging out with the McKenzie's (now a party of five) and are thankful for good friends we can belly laugh with about all sorts of shenanigans. We are blessed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Habit of Hoarding

So during my sick days a week or so back, I watched my first episode of the A&E show called Hoarders.

Hoarders is this completely terrifying show about people who have a mental illness that causes them to hoard all sorts of things in their homes and yards until the spaces become unlivable and almost condemned.

Yes, this is for real. And I'm talking about all sorts things from rotted food, to animal feces, colonies of bugs, and just mounds and mounds of laundry, papers, and junk.

It's so horrific to me that I can't even bring myself to post photos of some of the hoarding episodes here on the blog. Ha! (And you know how hard it is for me to blog without pics!) Seriously though, I think I've made it through only two episodes and each time it's over I'm totally stressed and cleaning my own house like a maniac.

Personally, I've always been more a purger than a hoarder. I've always been organized, even as a child, and sometimes I become quite OCD about it and keeping things just so. Seeing my closet in perfect order - shoes lined up, hangers all the same color, facing the same way, belts and bags in their proper place brings me joy. Yes. JOY. Ha! Container Store lovers.... can I get an amen? Ha! I love love LOVE when my house is spotless and work towards this end constantly. It brings me peace of mind and just some sense of structure in times when work or my daily schedule is crazy.

Watching this tv show though has seriously had an impact on me. After both episodes I watched, I caught myself in a complete trance wondering how these people did it, how they tolerated all the filth and stench and feces and bugs and thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with it? What goes through their mind? How on earth could they possibly rationalize this? How could they ignore these issues and just continue to do something that caused harm and eventually destroyed everything and everyone around them?

And then, this internal thought-process analyzing the hoarders and all their ghastly behavior took an unexpected turn and caused me almost to lose my breath as I realized I was in fact, just like them.

I was a hoarder.  Not of rotten food and junk, but of things even more rank and destructive- negative thoughts and feelings I have buried in the corners of my heart, left unattended where they've piled up and rotted. This realization stunned me and horrified me. Why is it I found their physical hoarding so repulsive, but didn't think twice about that putrid thought I had about so-and-so or the stench left behind from rampant anger or the sticky residue of a broken relationship? As hard as it was to swallow, this thought was sobering and such a healthy reminder.

I'm not sure if I'll ever watch another episode of Hoarders, but this incredibly valuable lesson will stay with me a long time. We must not forget to keep our hearts and minds tidy while remembering to keep our homes dusted and cleaned. In fact, we should put more effort towards it and guard our hearts because they affect everything we do. (Proverbs 4:23)

So are you a hoarder? I challenge all my friends, family, and readers to take an inventory of your heart and start spring cleaning! It's never too late or too early to throw out the "junk" and destructive behaviors and allow Jesus to do something beautiful through you.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Liberty for All

So it's been a super busy week for me and I apologize for my absence from the blog. It's seriously been crazy!

On Monday I went and saw Dr. Song for the first time. Dr. Song is a chiropractor/ acupuncturist/ Chinese medicine guru and has sort of become legendary in our little local community. Many of the people who work and attend our church see Dr. Song and he's sort of a miracle worker. Ha! He's done everything from "cure" cancer to straighten teeth... all in an extremely naturopathic way. Zach started seeing Dr. Song when he hurt his back back in the fall. For the past week, I had been struggling with a head cold that would just not let up. I was miserable, missing work, and just... unable to function normally. So... in I went to see "the Dr. Song."

It was a very interesting experience, hearing his insights on illness, his concerns about medication, and having acupuncture for the first time. (Side note: I had seen another naturopathic doc while living in Atlanta so this alternative medicine stuff was not totally foreign to me.) Anyways, Dr. Song sent me home with a silver supplement, a ginger-pear tea recipe, and some other home remedies to begin doing to clear up my congestion and infection.

And I was cleared up the next day. Seriously. It was crazy!

Anyways, in addition to all that I've been working, a bit longer than normal, since our new website is about to launch. Lots of final details to worry about and get in place. I also sorta... co-hosted a clothing/accessory swap party for the 10th/11th grade girls from our church. Weekly, I co-lead a 10th grade girls LifeGroup with my friend Bethany. In addition to their Sunday night program, we are doing a book study on Wednesday nights. Anyways, all that to say, we had a swap party for all the LifeGroups Friday night. I had never done this type of party before, but it was super fun. I even left with some good "new" finds!

Also on Friday, Zach and I FINALLY tried The Liberty. We've been talking about this restaurant for forever and always wanted to go. Zach finally went with a co-worker a week or two ago and said it was great so naturally, I HAD to try it for myself. :)

The Liberty is a Gastropub located in the South End district.


Graphic wall, bar beyond
Since it's rumored to be "the best burger in Charlotte," I had to try the Liberty burger. And it did not disappoint. Or the crispy parm fries.
The burger was the tallest burger I've ever had.
If you haven't been to The Liberty, check it out! We love it and it's a great "blow all your calories in one sitting" type of place.

We love living in Charlotte!