Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Compliment Guys

Meet the Compliment Guys. They were in Philly yesterday. What do they do, you ask? Just what the name implies. They pay compliments. Not something we're particularly accustomed to around these parts what with our northeast hustle-bustle rudeness. Hey, at least it gave the tourists yesterday the impression that our city is actually full of brotherly love. Find out more about them at their website.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let's Face It

I know I haven't built a loyal readership by regaling you with tales of my own decidedly mundane existence although Scotland did provide some pretty interesting fodder. But let's, as the kids these days say, be real. You all keep coming back for stories of the wee ones. And since getting the new job, the blog's been frankly a little kid-lite lately. So it's time for a post about nothing in particular except my beautiful babies and the craziness they've been up to lately. Did I mention that Davis is on a rampage of destruction these days? Or that Evie is crawling? Did I tell you that now, after three children, I know the joy of one of them falling off the bed or that said same child is developing retrograde sleep patterns of waking up as many as two times a night just in time for me to be a working mama again.

Are you still reeling over the crawling comment? OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but not completely false either. Little Miss Evus Pevus Lemonus Squeezus (as Trey has Latinized her nickname) is inch-worming her way around, hence the bed/gravity/floor experience and even getting up on all fours although the head is a tad heavy to coordinate with the rest of her muscles. In just a few weeks' time she's gone from the beginning stages of rolling to full-on mobility. Mark my words. I'm going to put money on this one. 100 bucks says she's crawling by 6 months and walking by 10. See for yourself. Oh, and the end bit is just to show you what a drooly, infectious smile she has these days. I can hardly be mad at her for waking in the middle of the night to feed. I can only imagine she's burning mad calories with all her activity.

video

And so what have the boys been up to these days. Oh you mean besides pulling all the wipes out of the package, tearing down the batting on the bottom of the top bunk, gouging scratches into Evie's brand new crib, and penciling on the door of the refrigerator? Actually, Davis did all those things, not Addie. Have to give credit where credit is due. Two is such a trying age.

So back to what they've been up to. One word -- baseball. See for yourself.

video

I have such fond memories of playing baseball in that exact same spot in the back yard on muggy summer evenings with my dad (Papa). And now I get to watch the scene all over again, history repeating itself in a sweetly nostalgic way. Addison's hitting is improving remarkably and both boys have very accurate arms. I love in this video how Davis takes great delight in calling Addison "out!" but gets distracted midstream by an airplane. Little boys. Nothing like them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lumstick

"Mommy?" Davis taps my leg the other day while I'm applying lipgloss, "Mommy, putting on lumstick?"

That's what he calls it.

Lumstick.

"Yes," I reply, "I'm putting on lumstick."

Don't ever stop calling it that, little boy.

Almighty Father


Prayers for Stellan

Almighty Father, we do not understand why these things happen, but we come to you with humility asking for your abundant grace and miraculous healing. Watch over this little one whose life teeters on the brink. Restore his sick body. Comfort his weary parents. In the strong name of Jesus, amen.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Meet Our City: the Skyline

We've been home for a while now, and it occurred to me that I really haven't introduced you much to our fair city. I'd like to initiate a new feature of the blog called "Meet Our City," and the first stop will Philly's skyline featured rather prominently in the header of this blog. (To get a better look at the picture, just click on it to enlarge.)

The most prominent feature of Philadelphia's skyline for the longest time was the 37-foot statue of William Penn high atop City Hall. In fact, from 1901-1908 City Hall was the tallest building in the world and remained the tallest structure in Philadelphia until Liberty One took its place in 1987. There was something of an unspoken rule that no building would tower over Billy, and when that gentleman's agreement was broken, the Curse of Billy Penn began. Of course, now that the Phillies have won the World Series, the curse has been broken, but like any good Calvinist, I know such rumors of hexes are nonsense. City Hall was designed by Scottish architect John McArthur, Jr. who, incidentally, also designed the 250-foot tall tower and spire of the church we are members of, Tenth Presbyterian. At that time (1854), Tenth was the tallest building in Philly. But back to City Hall. It has 700 rooms and is the largest municipal building in the US, and in doing some research for this blog I found out something I didn't even know. The observation deck below ol' Billy is free of charge. We'll have to go sometime and get a real bird's eye view of the city at the intersection of her two most famous streets, Broad and Market.

Construction of Liberty One, or One Liberty Place as its actually called, finished in 1987, and I was old enough to remember it in progress. At 945 feet tall, it irrevocably changed the city's horizon, giving it a distinctive look, which has only continued to evolve over time into a highly recognizable city skyline.

Liberty Two stands 848 feet tall and was completed in 1990. Right now the top floors are being converted into super, pricey penthouses one of which our own Phillies' pitcher Cole Hamels purchased for himself and his wife.

Last, but certainly not least, the Comcast Building, which was finished while Trey and I were in Scotland now stands the tallest of all the skyscrapers in the city. It is 975 feet tall, the 15th tallest in the US. It was designed to be "green," using 40% less water than a typical office building and reduce the heat-island effect from the sidewalk by 70%. And although I previously stated that I don't believe in curses, Billy Penn or otherwise, a tiny statue of him was mounted to the final and tallest beam of the Comcast Building. Don't believe me? You can read about it here. The strange thing is, the very next season we won.

And there you have it. The current Philly skyline.

PS I apologize for my recent absence. It's been hard to figure out a good time to blog. Bear with me. I'm not going away. Just learning to juggle.

The final beam of the Comcast Building and her patron saint, William Penn.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Humidity Is...

Humidity is...

...a piece of paper limply hanging over the top of the book stand.
...friction fighting your hand on the banister.
...water glasses that win the battle against the coaster and soak the table anyway.
...chairs that won't slide across the floor anymore.
...sugar caked in the bowl.
...elbows sticking to the desk as you type.

On the up side, my skin is soft as a baby's bottom.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Ice Cream Truck

As I sit here and listen to the ├╝ber-annoying strains of Mister Softee float through our open windows, the thought occurred to me, "Is it wrong that my children know what the ice cream truck is, but they have no idea that you can actually BUY ice cream from it?"

And as a follow-up, "How long do you think I can keep up that ruse?"

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Job

It's a beautiful, muggy morning here in Jersey, and I'm enjoying a relaxed pace with a lovely cup of coffee after a late night working on a deadline. Deadline? Almost forgot what that word meant. There are no deadlines in motherhood. Just a long, interminable succession of moments which hopefully culminate in happy, well-adjusted followers of the King.

But back to the deadline. Yesterday, late afternoon, I found out that a report I had barely started was needed immediately. Wanting to make a good first impression, I promised it by the day's end. This, after all, was going to be shown to the principals of the company. I finished it, a little bleary-eyed but with confidence that it was well done. This morning I woke to not one, but two emails praising the efforts and telling me that already I was indispensable member of the team. Wow. Was not expecting that. I blinked a few extra times to make sure it wasn't some morning dream. No, it was very real.

So now you want to know about the job, and I actually have a few minutes to tell you about it. In the sad Sunday night moments (remember this post), now almost two weeks ago, as Trey and I discussed whether the boys' illness would prevent our San Fran trip, I searched CraigsList once again for work. Now I know me searching for work is probably coming as a surprise to most of you. Aren't I a dedicated SAHM? Well, sort of. That's a whole 'nother post unto itself. Let's just say that circumstances are such in our life right now that I offered to assist by going back to work. The sad reality is that a business job search with my skill set (copywriting, advertising, marketing, etc.) has a greater chance of short term reward than an academic job search in Trey's area (European Renaissance/Reformation and American Presbyterianism). We have always known that finding a job could take awhile, but we never anticipated when we embarked on the Aberdeen adventure that he would finish in the midst of the worst economy any of us can remember. In fact, American schools really aren't hiring right now.

So I figured that while he continued his job search and publication efforts, I could go back to work to earn some bacon. I went on a very promising interview with a non-profit in Philadelphia that all amounted to nothing. In fact, knowing how non-profits work, especially in the summertime, it wouldn't at all surprise me if I still ended up hearing back from them, but in the meantime I needed work. You'll remember that I found the freelance writing position, but that was just a first step. It wasn't something to sustain our needs. I continued to comb CraigsList because that is where you find some of the most interesting job postings, and that depressing Sunday night I came across this opportunity.

Now you have to realize that, had we not been contemplating canceling our trip, I would never have looked that evening. I would have been upbeat and relaxing. But on this particular occasion, feeling beaten down and defeated, I felt like I had to do something productive -- job search. Two days later I heard back from the guy and had a long conversation about the position. I got him writing and marketing samples that I'd worked on and tracked down a good reference who was free to share with him the kind of work I do. One week later (as in this past Monday) I was hired. What a whirlwind!

So now what am I doing? For now, let's call the company QS*. It is a start-up company in Brooklyn. They are working on providing a set of products and services which will enable healthy seniors to remain independent in their homes longer. I have been hired as a part-time consultant to do their marketing, advertising, copywriting, and PR. Yes, that's a lot of hats to wear, but the good news is I've done a little, or a lot, of all of it, and I really enjoy it. Furthermore, the job is a telecommuting position, which is EXACTLY what I had hoped to find way back many months ago when I first started thinking about going back to work.

Which leads me to my love/hate relationship with being a SAHM. You see, I love being a mom, but I don't LOVE being a SAHM. It's really complicated and I can't do it justice here, especially since this post has mushroomed into a short memoir. Suffice it to say there are things I love about being at home and things I don't love. For example, I love breastfeeding and was not ready to wean Evie. I was willing to if need be, but my preference was to continue nursing. Telecommuting permits that. I love spending time with my boys, but I often feel like I have this whole side of myself that goes unrealized and unfulfilled. You know, the side that worked its butt off to get a 3.99 GPA at Rutgers and graduate summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. My great passion is writing -- hence the blog. The more I write, the more I want to write. I feel this great weight of information in my soul which I know is just about to burst out onto the page, and I haven't been so lucky as to figure out the balance between that and the daily mire of dirty diapers and sticky fingers.

So after much disappointment and many missteps this spring, I finally feel like we have a new direction, which very much reminds me of this post. I am working about 30ish hours a week doing what I love for very nice compensation in the comfort and convenience of my own home. Trey continues to work on job searching and publication. The kids are taken care of in their home environment by one or both of us. That's what all good Office fans call a win-win-win.

The nearly ten years that Trey and I have been married, life has thrown us a few curves. To be honest, nothing has really turned out as I expected, but I mean that in the most upbeat sense. I am reminded of Proverbs 16.33: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." We think we control our destiny, our life is in our own hands. Not so. Everything...EVERYTHING is of God. At some point I'll share a little about how we made the decision to go to Scotland in the first place. That was a perfect example of God directing our way, and here we are again at a crossroads. We do not know what the future holds. We do not know how long it will be until a school scoops up Trey. Ultimately, we don't even know how many years we have left on God's green earth. I have said it before, and I will say it again. This I DO know: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1.17

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

*As the company launches its products, I'll share more.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The 3:00 Lull

How well I remember thee. The clock strikes three and the energy level plummets. I could just put my head down right now and take a nap. Can someone please explain to me why this only happens when you're working on the computer and not when running around after toddlers? This used to be my most productive time of the day.

The only thing that will do in such a crisis is chocolate. So glad I stashed away and completely forgot about one of the two boxes of fudge that my bro and sis-in-law brought back as a present from the Cayman Islands after their honeymoon (hey, Joanna!). It's calling my name right now. Must stay awake. Maybe if I close my eyes just for a second I'll feel like I'm sunning myself on a tropical beach. Hey, a girl can dream.

Monday, July 13, 2009

WAHM

It's my new title, WAHM (work at home mom). Without debating the reality that ALL mothers, regardless of the source of their income, work at home, I have now left the ranks of the SAHM (stay at home mom) and become a WAHM. The freelance writing was a first step back into the work world. A little part time work to get my feet wet, but I have now been offered and accepted a position with a start-up company for many more hours and much better pay. My new title is Marketing Manager, and since the company is a start-up, I'll be doing a little of everything -- advertising, PR, copywriting, and marketing. It all happened so fast and in such a serendipitous way that could only be described as God's smiling providence. I promise to write more about how I landed the job and what I'll be doing, including what this company is all about. For now, suffice it to say that my time to blog will be a bit more limited initially. It is, indeed, my first love, but I will have to figure out how to juggle all these aspects of my life through trial and error.

And to answer the burning question who will be watching the kids, the answer is Trey. He will be cutting way back on the hours he was painting to stay at home with our chillins, embracing his new role as SAHD. You can figure out the acronym.

Saturday we went to the birthday party of a friend's daughter. It was a gorgeous summer day, not too hot, sunny and breezy and lovely. Had we been in San Fran, we would've missed it altogether.

I got some great pictures of Evie, who just gets more smiley by the day. I think lately she's just tickled at her mad rolling skeelz.

Addison, not much on the smiles as he waited intently for his birthday cupcake. I swear he asked me no less than 647 times when he could have it.

Allow me to introduce our cooperative 2 year old, Davis, who pulled a Hollywood starlet style move as though I were some skulking paparazzi.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rolling Along

Well, the good news is that the boys are finally healthy. Both of their fevers broke yesterday and no sight of them since. I subsequently canceled our follow-up pediatrician visit. It seemed unnecessary. We've been mostly laying low this week, recovering physically and emotionally from all that has transpired. In other much happier news, Evie rolled over on Monday, at exactly the same age that Addison did it. I told you they were physical clones. He was 6 days shy of 4 months. She was 3 days shy. And they did it the harder way -- back to tummy. This is how I found her during her morning nap yesterday. She slept that way just fine but wasn't too happy when she woke up and couldn't turn herself over.

So the 4th of July, which I've all but skipped over. We had one of the nicest days weather-wise that I can ever remember. 4th of July is notorious for being hot and sticky in these parts, but this year it was mild and sunny with a lovely breeze. Absolutely perfect.

The parade was fine but fairly forgettable. Except for this little gem.

Davis with Papa. Poor guy. This was before we knew he was sick. Look how pale he is. This was actually his first 4th of July in the US. All the others have been spent in a lovely land far, far away where they do not celebrate said holiday.

Hanging out on the blanket during the parade.

Addison.

We found this adorable chocolate lab puppy. The boys were ready to take her home.

The flag cake I made for dessert.

Evie's flag outfit. Not for consumption, obviously. Pretty darn cute though.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Flying Low

I won't lie to you. Today was a hard day. I try not to dwell too much on the negative on my blog. This is my happy place. Where I go to escape, decompress, revive.

But today that just wasn't happening. Without getting into a lot of detail about what has been going on lately, suffice it to say that today was the culmination of many recent disappointments and let downs. I look around me and ask a question that I know you have asked before too. "Where are you, God? Have you forgotten us?"

This is me. Me...of little faith.

I hadn't shared with all of you that Trey and I had planned a lovely vacation, just the two of us...oh, and Evie. We were going to San Francisco, a city we've dreamed of visiting most of our 10 years together.

Saturday, that grand holiday that we Americans simply refer to as the 4th of July, Davis came down with a fever. Sickness has generally been going around the Holloway house. First, Trey had a fever for 3 days. Then Addison got a variation with a cough and painful mouth sores. Then I got a mild version with nasal congestion. Now, it was Davis's turn. When we got home from the parade on Saturday he just didn't seem right, not his usual cheerful, vibrant self. And he felt pretty warm. I took his temperature. 103. Yikes. I had no idea it was that high. And thus began our weekend saga which I like to call the Fever Yoyo. He alternated between high temperatures which we would break with meds that would stay down temporarily only to climb once again.

Last night was the final straw. Davis's fever spiked to 105. And I got really worried. A quick call to the doctor alleviated my fears some. Apparently, wee ones are known to run high temps and they actually tolerate them pretty well. The doctor told me to bring him in the next morning if he still had the fever.

And then Addison started with one. Low grade, but a temp nonetheless.

This morning both boys were still running fevers. Davis's was 105.5. Motrin and Tylenol brought it right down, but still. That is high.

And so we were faced with this awful decision. Do we stay or do we go? And in the end, you already know what our decision was. We just couldn't go and leave them. Even thought the doctor said it would be fine to go and couldn't find anything at all wrong with Davis. No inflammation, infection, rashes, nothing. His body is fighting a virus. In a most aggressive manner, I might add. Addison did end up having an ear infection, the probable cause of his low grade temperature. Antibiotics should take care of it.

It feels like Geneva all over again, and in the midst of it all I just keep wondering why. Why elate only to deflate? And then I think about my own boys who have asked me "why questions" before to which there was no explanation that minds as young as theirs could wrap around.

And that is me right now before my Maker. My puny mind, mired in finitude and burdened with limitations, grappling with things too high for me. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55.9

Right now I rest with certainty on two things I know true. My Father is completely good and He loves me more than I will ever know. That has to be enough right now. I am left to wonder at His mysterious providence, which ironically was the sermon topic yesterday morning, and trust that though I may never have the answers to these questions, He holds me tightly in the palm of His hand and will never let me go. I need to take a cue from my guys and cling to Him with the child-like trust they put in me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Whole Truth

And nothing but the truth, so help me God. I was honored this week with the Honest Scrap Award, nominated by Stefanie at Lexie Loo & Dylan Too. She's a great blogger. Check her out! I appreciate the name of the award because the truth isn't always neat and tidy. Sometimes it's just downright scrappy.

Here's what you have to do: First, you have to tell your readers 10 things about you they may not already know, but are true. Second, you have to tag 10 people with the award. Third, you have to let the people you've given the award to, know that they've received this award from you. Finally, make sure you link back to the person who awarded you.

You've learned a lot about me and my family over the last almost 3 years that I've been blogging, but here are 10 tidbits you may not have know.

1. I literally said, "I will never live overseas," and then I did. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. My time in Scotland is the single most profound experience of my life. I miss Aberdeen every day, and I pray we have a chance to return some time as some of my dearest friends in the world still live there.

2. I know I have a novel in me somewhere and it's just waiting to come out. I really believe my time in Scotland helped to percolate and mature my ideas. Now, I just need some quiet time.

3. I can't stand coughing. Even my own. It is my absolute #1 pet peeve.

4. I have one ear that sticks out. Don't believe me? Check out some of the recent pictures from the wedding where my hair is pulled back. It's my left ear, which doesn't have that little extra ridge of interior cartilage to hold it back.

5. I have had asthma since I was about 8 years old but it is much better than it used to be and is well under control. I am also allergic to raw stone fruits such as peaches, pears, apples, cherries, plums, and figs. Cooking the fruits neutralizes the allergic response, so I can still enjoy them. It's a condition called oral allergy syndrome and is not uncommon in asthmatics.

6. I type between 95 and 100 wpm with more than 95% accuracy. I taught myself to type one summer during middle school by just getting a book out of the library and practicing the drills religiously.

7. I have been married for over 1/3 of my life and I'm only 28 (we celebrate 10 years in December). I was engaged for only 3 months. I got married at 18 to a man who was 31 at the time. The reality is though that only other people ever comment on how young I was or how many years are between us. As Trey likes to remind me, ever the historian, "At one time, such a thing was commonplace." For us it has never been an issue. When it's right, it's right.

8. I speak German. Not as well as I used to at University when I was fluent, but it's like riding a bicycle. You never really lose it. I actually double majored in English and German and wrote an Honor's Thesis (30 pages) entirely in German.

9. I was the first class of Phi Beta Kappa graduates from the Rutgers Camden campus. Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious Honors Society in the US and includes such famous members as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and a few unexpected ones like Ashley Judd and Peyton Manning.

10. I am a self-taught knitter. Thank you, internet demonstration videos!

Laurel at Happy at Home
Rachel at Life with the Greens
Rachel at Mo and Ro on the Go
Emily at Bits & Bobs...tidbits Scottish-style
Linda at Being Green
Kate at The Granite City
Allison at Merrick Castle
Sian at The Continuing Adventures of the Draycotts
Kayla at Kayla in Korea
Amie at True Aim

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Haddon Heights Public Safety Monument

Back in May when we rode the trolley in downtown Haddon Heights, Trey took some pictures of the public safety monument in front of Borough Hall. It has very special meaning for our family in particular because my dad designed the monument.

It was erected to honor slain Haddon Heights police officer, John Norcross, who was killed in the line of duty on April 20, 1995. I remember the day well. I was 14 years old, and we lived just a couple of miles from Sylvan Avenue where the incident took place. There was a stand-off between cops and Leslie Nelson, a crazed transsexual, who had stock-piled weapons inside her home and killed two police officers, one from Haddon Heights, the other from the county, when law enforcement attempted to serve a warrant for her arrest. You can read the details of the story here. It's a bizarre tale somewhere between Silence of the Lambs and Psycho except this really happened and in our sleepy little, suburban town.

The monument honors each branch of first-responders on its sides, and my dad was able to include a verse of Scripture immediately relevant to the great sacrifice that Officer Norcross gave: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15.13