Grandaddy, Wild Animals and Perfect Weather

Happy Birthday to Big Tom!
I am a little late in this birthday wish since my father's birthday was last week. I thought we would be celebrating when my parents came down for presidents' day weekend. Unfortunately their plans changed last minute and they had to stay in GA so I am doing a belated birthday post with no pics of us all eating the cake I wanted to make him.
My dad is the most humble, unselfish person I know. His entire life is spent working for his family and serving others. There is not a pretentious or self serving bone in his body.  My dad can tend to be a workaholic, always staying long hours and working overtime on weekends.  In thirty years, I have never heard him complain once about going to work nor have I ever seen him take a sick day. And it isn't so he can pat himself on the back or buy a bunch of nice things--it all goes to his family. He paid his own way through the Citadel (I mean who does that, the Citadel?) to then go on to pay for my sister and me to go to college and last year he used his bonus to start Loulie's college fund. I'll say it again--UNSELFISH! 
Two weeks ago he finally bought a new (used) car after driving an old truck for 13 years. I called mom to see if he was enjoying it. 
"I don't know," she said. "It is still parked in the driveway." The new car stayed in the driveway for four days. When I asked my dad why he had not taken his new car to work yet, he told me he was embarrassed and then under his breath said he didn't feel like he deserved a new car. Again--HUMILITY!
Seriously, he is the best dad and I am so grateful for all the lessons he has taught me, for being the picture of what it is like to be humble before the Lord, for sacrificing so much so that I could have a better life than he did and most of all for putting up with a household of girls.

Despite the change of plans and my parents not coming, we had a really incredible weekend. It is just hard to not have fun when it is sunny and 70 degrees in February. We headed down to the SEWE Wildlife festival downtown. I have been going since I was a kid and I have never seen it this crowded. I don't know if it was the pretty weather or that they have added so much more to the festival or if it has just become more popular over the years but there were about a gazillion people in downtown Charleston. 

We started out viewing and attempting to feed the exotic (or exotic for the south) animals. This got a little confusing.

"Look Loulie, there's a zebra."
"No, cows moo. Zebras say uhhhh????"
"Look Loulie, there's a camel."
"Actually camels spit." Five seconds later I found myself apologizing to the girl in front of me and trying to wipe the spray off her back.

We left that tent after trying to feed the already full sheep and realizing that there is no way to explain to a 17 month old that not every animal has to make a noise and that you can't crawl in the cage with a porcupine. 
This is when we really got scared though...

Out of every booth and  dog exhibit and jump castle, Loulie broke loose and headed over to the band. And I'm not talking about some high schoolers strumming some tunes. As we approached, the fiddler was just refilling his cup with bourbon. Loulie stood in front of the band for the next 20 minutes with her hands in the air while her dad stood back sweating through his shirt.
"I just want you to know she gets this from your side" is what he leaned in to tell me as Loulie practically noodled and clapped for an encore. Pretty hilarious as long as this doesn't become a lifelong ambition. All Bert and I could think about was Penny Lane in Almost Famous. :)
We ended the day with a little snuggle from this guy. 

The rest of the weekend was spent bike riding, walking the bridge and hitting the playground. I actually got to meet my cousin, her husband, my sister and Bruce for brunch on Sunday. It's been a while since I have had an actual adult brunch and loved getting to catch up with everyone.
I really wish this was the last of the cold and that we could pack up the sweaters but I have a feeling we'll get another taste of winter. 

On a side note, American Idol is playing in the other room. Some of the contestants are saying they don't know who the Beatles are. "WHAT THE HELLO?" Have they been living under a rock? That should get them eliminated immediately. Not knowing who the Beatles are and/or auditioning with a Ke$ha song---automatic out--you clearly don't know good music!

Hope everyone had a good weekend!
Happy Hump Day! 


Always a little late...

Well, Valentine's Day has come and gone without me posting a dang thing on LOVE. After a great weekend of being completely spoiled and overindulged (me by my sister in laws, Loulie by grandparents); we returned back to Charleston pretty tired and with a lot of catching up to do. Why is it you always need a vacation after your vacation?
I've had so much I've wanted to write on but have just been too tired by the end of the day to elaborate on anything. We had a great Valentine's Day--let me rephrase, Loulie had a great Valentine's day which made mine great. Since we were out of town, the day was kind of all about my Love Bug. We did manage to grab Bert's favorite meal on our way out of Macon as a "sorry we missed V Day and you were alone" gift. I'll admit--I think Valentine's is a cheesy holiday that Bert and I usually ignore but it was pretty fun celebrating this year with Loulie.
She made homemade chocolates and 3D cards for everyone in the family.
I made her one of those pottery barn backpacks and filled it with goodies. Go figure, her favorite gift was a 99 cent ball. We spent the day just doing fun things she likes. 
 Here's a little V Day admission--I think Loulie is the coolest person EVER! The more I get to know her, the more awesome I think she is. 
I think she gets tired of me telling her...
I don't care--nothing can keep me from squishing those legs and kissing those cheeks!


This is what I have to live up to..

Loulie and I are in Macon for the next couple of days. We arrived late yesterday afternoon. 
This is what I walked into...
- Hoda's biography is on my bedside table. I love Hoda. My mom knows this and therefore her new book is on my bedside table.
- The refridgerator is stocked with my favorite chicken salad from a local deli, hummus, and my favorite half caff coffee. 
- My mom then tells me that she got us tickets for the next night to go see a musical. In case you are just joining me, I LOVE a good musical; especially when it is a surprise.
- Go to bed last night and I now have some kick a@* fancy orthopedic pillow and down mattress cover that feels like I am laying on a cloud.
Ahhhhh, home!!!!
Oh and today my mother took Loulie and me shopping and got the L Bug clothes for Spring. Is this for real?! Is coming home not the best? What is it about the way your mom makes the coffee that tastes better? My clothes somehow smells better after being washed here. And I can sleep like a rock in my old bed because the second we set foot in my parent's house, Loulie magically starts sleeping through the night. I can't explain it. All I know is I have a lot to live up to--I hope Loulie feels as loved when she comes home with her kids one day. 
I'm leaving tomorrow for Atlanta. My sister in law surprised me and my other sister in law with a girls' weekend for Christmas. I am super pumped and could really get used to all this spoiling! What can I say-I've been blessed with great family.

Especially this little punkin...

Even though I know we'll be having fun in Atlanta, I'm going to miss her like crazy. I can't wait to surprise her with musical tickets and favorite snacks or whatever she's into one day.
On a side note, my parents crack me up. Example conversation:
Dad: Lauren, can I borrow your alarm clock? Your mother (pronounced Muuuuuthaaaa) threw mine away.
Me: Why did she throw it away?
Dad: She thought it was broken.
Mom: It was, the arms were broken off and laying at the bottom of it.
Dad: It still went off every morning at 5.

Who can argue with that?

Hope everyone has a great weekend full of your favorite things!!!



I am back to the land of the living after finishing the Hunger Games trilogy last Tuesday. Two posts ago, I had just started the third book. 1200 pages in 5 days--let's just say the laundry, the house and the filthy car waited. The last book was somewhat of a disappointment only because I wanted more. I can mourn a good book and this one was no exception. I spent days afterwards thinking about it--the characters, the underlying meaning to the authors over arching storyline.
I liken it to the way I feel after a great wedding weekend. You know how when you're in a wedding it is all you do from Friday at noon until you wake up Sunday morning. You really get to know the bride's sister from out west, her precious niece, you dance with the groom's cool college roommate, you really click with her coworker. Basically you fall in love with all these cool people and have so much fun with them all weekend only to say good bye on Sunday thinking "Man, if only they lived close by, we could be really good friends." But they fly on back to Seattle or wherever and you hope that maybe the couple will have a blowout baby shower or 40th birthday party in a few years where you can hang out with their fun family and friends again.
That's usually how I feel at the end of a good book when the heroine is so likeable that you almost envy him/her or the setting is somewhere you have always wanted to live or visit. I have been this way forever, getting so wrapped up in a book. I'm sure those of you reading that don't read for pleasure think I am nuts. I know there are those out there that hate to read--a People magazine is as close as you get and that's just for the quick crossword. But for those of you who share my love affair with a good paperback, here are a few of my recent reads and past favorites...

obv, The Hunger Games Trilogy
while it appears at first to be a teen fantasy, Twilight esque addiction; these books have so much more to say about war, peace, hope and the human spirit.

Her Mother's Hope
Her Daughter's Dream
by Francine Rivers
This is another series that resulted in a lot of sleep loss for me this fall. I loved these books. Francine Rivers is one of my favorites and I had heard a lot of mixed reviews over these. I highly recommend them. It gave me a lot to think about as a mother but I loved the message of forgiveness that resonates throughout. I just finished The Atonement Child by Rivers--I would never recommend it because of the delicate subject matter but thought it was good and that she remained true to her style. My favorite however is Redeeming Love--again, up until 4:00 finishing this one a few years ago.

A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving
Quite possibly the best book you will ever read. It was made into a movie about 10 years ago that no where near lived up to the book.

Something Borrowed
Something Blue
by Emily Giffin
Perfect beach read! Also being made into a movie this year.
Something BorrowedSomething Blue

I cannot wait for the day I get to read this to the L Bug. You can't find a better heroine than Anne...

Just a few of my favs. Have any suggestions for me? I am always looking for a good one.