Thursday, May 24

:: Preschool Graduation, Artichoke Feta Salad & A Sweet Little Face ::

 My little Energetic Elephant graduated from preschool (sniff! sniff!).  It was the cutest graduation ceremony I have ever seen.  Every student got to come to the microphone and tell the audience what they want to be when they grow up.  His Dad couldn't have been more proud when Parrish announced that he would like to be a "hunter"!  Ha!  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I joked with friends that one day he could have his own hunting show and then wouldn't he just show us all that hunting can be a profession after all.
 One of the songs they sing in chapel each week is "My God Is So Big, So Strong, So Mighty, There's Nothing My God Cannot Do"  They acted out the song as they sang.  Parrish was the valley and the poster was so big I was a little afraid it may not make it up above his head, but my little strong man managed.
They even got diplomas from the pastor and were rewarded with titles from their teachers.  Parrish was "Most Imaginative" and I think his teachers know him well.  I tell him all the time that one of my favorite things about him is his ability to imagine and dream big.  I hope he never looses that gift!

When I went through the carpool line yesterday at Tiny Blessings I couldn't believe it was the last time and I was going to be the mom of a Kindergartener.  Once again the thought struck me that things aren't as they should be.  I should still be going to Tiny Blessings next year to take Livy to preschool.  Which of course made his last day as a preschooler all the more emotional for me.  But, we survived and are today in the midst of one of our "pajama days" where Parrish and I stay in our jammies until lunch and watch movies, play play doh, get messy in the kitchen, and generally do whatever we want.  I realize these days are going to be fewer and farther between when he starts "big school" in the fall so I am soaking it all in now.  When I look back I am so thankful that I have gotten to spend these last 5 years at home with him because it really does go by too fast.

 Last weekend we went to the lake with the Browns for Mother's Day and although it rained most of Saturday morning the first break in the clouds, Cannon and Karl had Trotter and Parrish out on the lake and skiing behind the sea doo.  Their little teeth were chattering they were so cold, but they were having too much fun to stop.  I think they skied 5 times each before calling it quits.  We're so proud of our little skiers!!

While we were there Nancy served a greek artichoke salad from Catherine's Market that was super delicious.  I scoured the internet to try to find the exact recipe to no avail, but I did make up my own version that is just about as good.

Artichoke and Feta Salad

1 can quartered artichoke hearts (drained)
Chopped green, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers (I like to buy the tri-pepper mix in the pre-chopped section of Publix when I'm in a hurry)
Feta cheese (crumbled)
Chopped green onions
Chopped red onion

Mix all ingredients together and marinade in dressing (recipe below).

1/3 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper

Mix all dressing ingredients together and combine well.  Top salad mixture with dressing and marinade for at least 1 hour (the longer the better - this is a great salad to make the night before or to prepare to bring on your summer beach vacation)  

Note: Add tri-colored pasta and cooked chicken or shrimp and this easily goes from a side dish to a main lunch entree.  I added pasta and serve alongside grilled fish last night and it was yummy.

Cannon and I signed up for our local CSA to receive weekly delivery of fresh, local, and organic veggies and fruit.  Last week we got our first box from Moore Farms and I have really enjoyed learning to cook new things like Red Russian Kale.  I would never have purchased that on my own, but when it comes in the box it makes you learn about it and how to cook it.  I was surprised at how easy this was to cook and by how much we all loved it (Parrish included).  I used a recipe from the internet here and used pistachio nuts and cannelloni beans and some of the herbed olive oil we bought at Pepper Place last weekend.  

Next week in addition to the usual, yummy, summer staple veggies we will get Kohlrabi - which I've never even heard of - but am excited to try.  

Monday we went to my 28 week doctor's appointment and got to see this sweet little face.  He looks a lot like Parrish and Olivia did at this point on sonogram.  We're thinking he's going to have lots of hair like Parrish if the old wives tale about heart burn is true.  I had it bad with Parrish and he came out looking like a little lion with tons of black hair that stuck up every which way.  I didn't have heartburn with Livy and she did have hair, but not nearly as much as Mr. P.  So we will see.  A little under 3 months to go!

Tuesday, May 15

:: Eagle Craft, Master & Nursery Re-do Part 2, & Paint Selection Services, etc ::

Parrish and I took one of our VBS craft ideas for a test drive yesterday and it turned out pretty cute, so I wanted to share.  
 You'll need:
-Blank drawstring backpack (these can be purchased on oriental OR anything blank you'd like to decorate (Michael's and Hobby Lobby sell kid's and adult aprons, tote bags, canvases, etc)
-Fabric paint in brown, white, black and gold/yellow
-Paint pen in the color of your choice (I used brown)
-One large and one small paint brush
-Cardboard to place inside backpack to keep paint from bleeding through
-Some little hands willing to participate :)
-A nearby sink or lots of baby wipes to clean up in between hand prints

I started by inserting the cardboard and then writing "They will soar on wings like eagles...  Isaiah 40:31" on the back pack.
 Then I painted my willing assistant's right hand like so (avoiding the thumb)
 And had him press it down on the back pack to form the Eagle's left wing.
 Then in true Parrish form, my assistant decided he could paint his other (left) hand better himself, so he took care of that and then we placed that one on the back pack overlapping the first print to form the eagle's right wing....
 Like so.
To form the head, I had P make a fist with his right hand and I painted the pinky side white, then pressed it on top center of the hand prints.  For the tail feathers we painted his pointer, middle and ring finger, turned the back pack upside down so it was easier to get to and had him press down.
For the eye I had him dip his pinky in black paint and dot it on the head.  I used a small paint brush to draw on the beak in gold (you could also use yellow).

It was a fun, quick project that we'll do at VBS in June but would also be fun to do at home or even in celebration of the 4th of July this summer.

In other news, the nursery and master are really coming along and I cannot wait to post the before and after pictures.  For now, here is a taste of what we've had going on around here.

 This is our new master bookcase (David Cherry is the genius who built this - I couldn't recommend him more - if you're looking for a super-talented carpenter who has the vision to make the seemingly impossible or out-of-the-box projects in your head come to life, call me and I will give you his number)

With the fabulous Zona Merchant's help, Cannon and I are almost finished with our new king headboard that will slide into the middle of the bookcase.  All we've got to go is the addition of another row of railheads around the border.  (I should say here that I took a trip to Masco a few weeks ago to purchase a roll of the nailhead trim that is already connected and it has changed my life.  Instead of nailing in each head individually and agonizing over the placement and straightness of your row, you can just lay it on the headboard and eyeball it until it is straight, then you only have to nail in every 5th nail head to connect it.  If you mess up and you line gets off, it is easy to pry out the one culprit and reposition the whole strand of nail heads so that it is straight...genius!)  Zona is another one who is amazingly talented...she can sew just about anything you can dream up and help you figure out yardage.  (I have called her from the fabric store more times than I can count)  She has been a wealth of knowledge while we've been working on this headboard (not to mention she allowed us to use her huge work table to put the headboard together) so my pregnant back is still thanking her.

These are all terrible iPhone photos, so forgive the quality, but this is the antique bead board we've had installed in the nursery above the new trim band.  The walls are a pale blue-gray by BM called silent night  and the trim is BM Rock Gray.  The ceiling is a really great pea green called Oregano by BM.  This picture does not do the colors justice.  I promise to post better ones soon.

Recently I have been asked by several people to select paint colors for their homes, so I thought I would put it out there that I do, in fact, offer this service.  For $35 per room I will come to your house and discuss your goals, then select paint colors for your walls, ceiling and trim.  For those of you not in Birmingham, this can be done via email.  You can send me pictures of your room or room(s) and I can can put together a paint plan for you from afar and then email it to you.  Kitchens are $50 because this includes paint selection for the upper and lower cabinets as well.  I can also help with hardware and lighting selections for an additional fee.

If you have a home decorating project that would be suited to antique bead board on the walls and/or ceiling, I can also help you with that.  I can help you figure out how much you will need and work with you to select the appropriate color to have it painted and distressed in, then provide you that material as well as help in selecting the appropriate carpenter to hang it (in the Birmingham area).  Please email me at or use the contact us form on our website at to inquire about pricing for your project.

In addition to paint selection services, I am doing some design work as well.  If you would like help selecting fabrics for your room or a design plan for your entire room, I can do that too.  Please email me at for pricing.

In the next few weeks around here we'll start work on the living room bookcases with sliding antique doors to conceal the tv and I cannot wait to see it all come together (can you tell I am in a major nesting mode?)

And (I promise this is the last thing in this longest blog post ever) on a much more serious subject, I would like to ask you to please keep my brother Hunter in your prayers.  He recently joined the Army and is currently being trained to drive and operate the Husky Mine Vehicle, which saves soldiers lives by detecting the mines from the protection of an armored vehicle instead of the soldiers detecting them with handheld devices.  He will be deployed to Afghanistan in October and we are all praying fervently for his safety and time there.  He amazes me with his selfless bravery every day and we are all lucky that men like Hunter are willing to sacrifice of their time, talent, and energy to defend this country.

Although as a family we are all obviously worried about Hunter and would prefer that he not have to be deployed, I was reminded this morning in a caring bridge post by my friend Elliot's mom of Proverbs 16:9...The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

I am thankful to be in complete dependance on a God who guides our steps, even though the steps aren't always in the direction in which we planned in our hearts.  Jeremiah 29:11 promises us that the Lord has walked those steps before us because he knows the plans he has for us...plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us HOPE and a future.

Saturday, May 5

:: Baseball & Forever ::

 It's sad to say, but took me until Parrish's last T-Ball game of the season to remember to bring my camera.  But thanks to this cool new picture editing site (you should try it) at least the better-late-than-never photos turned out pretty cute - even for an amateur photographer like myself.  I used to use Picnik from Picasa and when that was no longer an option my friend (and very non-amateur photographer) Terri told me about pic monkey.  I'm so glad she did because it saves me a lot of time, energy and effort editing my photos.  Beats the heck out of downloading photo actions and all of that jazz that quite frankly...confuses me.
 Anyway, Gentry and Cannon were coaches for the Oak Mountain Red Sox and the kids were so cute out there in their uniforms.  It takes a lot of patience to play baseball and I was pretty impressed with the kiddos.  There was that one point when Parrish asked me if I made him sign up for baseball.  (For the record...I did not...HE asked ME if he could play but seems to forget that)  But I would say that 80% of the time he wanted to go...which was pretty darn good for a 5-year-old.
 And I have to say that my little Babe Ruth is a darn good player...good hand eye coordination and all of that.
 Looks pretty professional, does he not?  Maybe he'll be the first New York City designer to also be a baseball player.  :)
 Daddy enjoyed being the catcher.
 Gentry leads to crew in their "good game" line up.
 My sweet P takes off for 1st base.
And the 3 musketeers - buddies Kaden and Luke - killed time in the dug out waiting their turn.

I enjoyed our time at the baseball fields this season (although I could have done without the 90 degree weather today), and my friends with boys tell me that's a good thing.  I think with baby boy #2 on the way I'll be spending lots more time there in the future.

You'll have to excuse the drastic change of subject, but I feel compelled to tell you about the book I am reading.  Have you read "Forever" by Paul David Tripp?  A friend recommended it to me months ago and I finally got around to buying it and I'm pretty sure that the perspective in this book is life-changing.

In a nutshell it talks about how, as humans with limited, sin-filled ways of looking at our lives, we often ask God, "Why me?"  Or "how could you let this happen?"  It's only human.  We are faced with horrible things that happen to us and others we know and love every day.  We have money troubles, we aren't happy in our jobs, our marriages are strained, our sons get deployed to war-torn countries, our friends and family are battling cancer and other diseases.  And try as we might...not one of us can escape death, no matter how well we eat or exercise.  It is inevitable.  We like to pretend we can keep it from happening, but the truth is we cannot.  Cannon and I were faced with this reality sooner than most.  And I of course thought (and sometimes still think) - "how could a loving God let this happen to our family?"  But the book reminds me that that outlook is assuming that this life here on earth is all there is.  That God's primary concern for those He loves is making their life as easy and care-free as possible.  But really His true concern is not with our here and now happiness but with our ETERNAL happiness.  He is preparing us for our second life - a life yet to come - that will thankfully be so much more fulfilling than this one.  We were meant for heaven and apart from God here on this earth we will never be fully satisfied because He is creating a longing in us for another place.

Most of us as Christians have always SAID we believe in heaven, but do we really live that way?  I know I don't.  I try to build up my treasures here on earth like this is all I've got.  The good news I need to be reminded of is that this dark world full of suffering is not all there is.  We have far better to look forward to.

So I want to encourage you that if life is not turning out the way you thought it would, if you or a loved one has been touched by suffering or death, if all the "stuff" in the world you think will fulfill you only turned out to put you into debt...take heart and start living like there IS a tomorrow apart from this world.  Jesus promises us that there is.  One filled with no death, mourning, crying, or pain.  It is so hard for me to imagine the sheer joy of that and I really cannot wait.

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  John 12:25

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  Revelation 21:4

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by humans hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  For while we are in this (earthly) tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  2 Corinthians 5:1-5

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."  C.S. Lewis