taz + belly: April 2011


30 April 2011

Wednesday started like any other day. Josh was on a business trip in Arizona this week, so I had the bed to myself. I got up and noticed that it was still so dark outside and the dog was pacing. I'm so glad I turned the television on to see what was going on with the weather. There were reports of a tornado in a neighboring community and we would find out later that severe straight line winds cut through another community leaving behind a war zone. I waited another hour before dropping off the girls and heading into to town. For those of you that live out of state, we have a major highway running from my community to a much larger city, 35 miles away. It is known for terrible traffic and it can take me anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes to commute each day, depending on lots of different factors. This particular morning, I traveled 19 miles in three hours before giving up and coming back home. Early morning winds had knocked out power almost the entire length of the highway and huge trees crossed portions of my commute. I opted to pick the girls up and take a personal day rather than spend two more hours trying to get to work. About ten minutes after I turned around, we got the call that schools were dismissing at noon and it was clear I made the right decision. I covered the return route in just 25 minutes.

I think we all knew the weather would be terrible, but there is no way to prepare yourself for this level of destruction. Not physically and certainly not mentally. The girls and I picked up lunch and came home for an early nap. I knew they would never sleep if we had severe thunderstorms, so I was trying to get them in before the bad weather moved into our area. I feel asleep on the couch. I would wake up to a disaster. Sophie woke me up and I sat down to check my email. Facebook was covered with messages about watching a local tornado move through town live on television. This is when I started to worry. 

We have a cellar beneath the rock house. It isn't pretty or organized or water tight, but it's there. We have a concrete stairwell that used to lead into the house and it is flanked by three concrete walls. I went downstairs to make sure there wasn't any water in the cellar (we have a sump pump to take care of that) and I cleared a path to the stairs. We found flashlights and packed the girls a bag of drinks and snacks. I got blankets to sit on and make sure the light bulbs were working down there just in case we didn't lose power. Then I sat back down and looked at the destruction on the news. I sent SD a text message - I was worried about being here alone. My parents called and invited us for dinner and we decided it was better to ride the storm out with our family, even if they didn't have a basement. I just couldn't imagine being here cut off from everyone I know and love. We showered and packed an overnight bag and headed the four miles away to my parents' house.

Then this happened.

This is Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was destroyed. Even though we were watching it happen on television, I don't think we could have possibly been prepared for the level of destruction we would later see. I have three younger cousins at local Tuscaloosa universities and we began to panic for their safety. Cell phone services were down in that area and their families hadn't yet heard from them. We would later hear that they were all safe, but their apartments were perilously close to the damage.

We ended up packing up once again and driving another mile down the road to my aunt Heather's new house. They have a huge basement with plenty of room and a storm shelter in case it got really bad. There were about twenty other members of extended family and friends waiting. It is so hard to know we were having a "party" while so many neighboring communities were suffering already.

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watching Disney's Tangled with the little girls
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a dangerously competitive ping pong game
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gran, molly & ella waiting in the storm shelter
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ella & molly learned to play foosball
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everyone got a turn trying to get this little one asleep

We finally started getting reports from the younger cousins that they were okay, but that Tuscaloosa was destroyed. We were getting calls from friends and family checking on us. Josh was still in meetings because of the time-difference, but he was texting and calling every few minutes to check on us. Our favorite meteorologist reported that a tornado was moving in our direction. Impact in 10-15 minutes. They mentioned my neighborhood and I was suddenly so thankful to be in this basement with my family, but so homesick for the rock house and my husband. We saw the "storm" pass over. It was big and black and round. It was churning and full of green lightning. I don't know why I didn't take a picture. I don't know how I didn't realize that was a tornado at the time.

It was hard to see this photograph the next morning and wrap your mind around how we were spared. This was taken about 10 miles from my house. This is the storm that was reportedly headed right for us.


Then there was this. A diagram showing the tornadoes (measuring EF3 or more) that tore through our market on Wednesday. See that "non-verified" path in the very middle of the state? The one that skips an entire county? Well, we live in Shelby County and it almost skipped us completely.


Josh took this picture on the plane ride home yesterday afternoon. He flew right over Tuscaloosa and could follow the tornado track all the way to the Birmingham airport. It looks like a scar across Alabama. I added the arrows so you can see it, but I can't look at the photo without it screaming at me now.


We laid in bed and talked about it for a long time last night. I can't even look at the computer or television screen without crying. The photos and videos are heartbreaking; the number of homes destroyed and people lost is staggering. It could have been us. Y'all it looks like a war zone. Like a hurricane or an earthquake or a tsunami.  Everyone on TV keeps saying that "they've never seen anything worse." In these communities there is nothing left. No homes, no power, no grocery stores. Schools are gone, classes are over, graduation has been canceled. They have no food, no water, no diapers or baby food. The only clothes they own are those they were wearing. It's so hard to know how to help, but churches everywhere are accepting donations and people are mobilizing. I've never been so proud to live in Alabama. I don't know how we recover from something like this, but it seems we are rallying together to get started today. If you haven't already, I encourage you to visit the Neighbors in Need and make a tax deductible donation today. They raised more than $600,000 last night during a two hour telethon. Want to shop instead? Gussy is donating 15% off all weekend sales to the Red Cross. It's going to take much more than that.

Please pray for our state and the thousands of people whose lives have been changed forever. Pray for us whose houses are still standing and have babies eating breakfast, but whose hearts are heavy for our friends and neighbors. Alabama has a huge whole in her heart today.

at a loss for words

28 April 2011

I have so many pretty pictures from Easter and the days after, but I can't bear to post them quite yet. I've been thinking all day about what to post... whether to share how we spent our Wednesday night, blissfully unaware of just how devastating our state would appear this morning. Although, my sweet family and our little rock house was spared from disaster, many communities in our great state were not. At last count, the death toll topped 200 and there are still so many areas that can't be reached. Search and rescue is still underway. Many people are missing and thousands more are left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Please pray for the people of our state as we begin the process of healing and rebuilding. Pray for those who lost their homes, their belongings and their loved ones. Pray for those of us left feeling helpless and not knowing how to translate those feelings into some tangible way to help.

First Fete: The Photos

26 April 2011

The table was filled with yummy goodies, all just the right size for tiny little fingers.

First Birthday Book Bash

We hung a wall of photos from each of her twelve months. I haven't been able to take them down!

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

I made tissue poms, bunting and paper garlands to hang above the table.
Sophie loved this and would point every time we asked where her party was.

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

The beautiful smashcake was courtesy of Sweet Magnolia Bakery in Birmingham.
She did such a great job matching the party invitations!

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

The cupcakes were handmade by my Aunt Lane. Gran made yummy homemade buttercream
icing and we topped them with dumdum suckers. All paper cups and liners were from Hey YoYo.

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

Don't you just love strawberry sugar wafers? Ella had never tried them before!

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

Nana made tons of peanut butter fudge and rice crispy treats.
See the fudge in the individual cups all over the table?

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

There were chocolate fudge brownies and powdered donuts stacked two high.

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

The drink cart was one of my favorite spots. Pink paper straws, sweet tea,
pink lemonade, sodas and water bottles with a Happy Birthday message.

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

Tiny board books were wrapped with leftover scrapbook paper and green yarn.
They each had tiny bookplates on the back with a sweet message from Sophie.

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

Wouldn't you be happy if you got your very first Singamajig?!

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash
First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

Look at all those books!

First Birthday Book Bash

Garan made her pretty dress and the felt crown was a perfect substitution for a party hat.

First Birthday Book Bash

Guess who LOVED her birthday cake?

First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash
First Birthday Book Bash
First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash
First Birthday Book Bash
First Birthday Book Bash First Birthday Book Bash

Thank you from the whole Princess family!

First Birthday Book Bash

First Fete: A Recap

25 April 2011

I know that it's been more than a week since our little celebration, but we've all needed time to recover. Let's be honest... I needed time to process. I am in awe that she is old enough for a birthday party. Although it seems so long ago that I was waiting for her arrival, at the same time it's so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that she's actually a whole year old. Just yesterday she was a tiny baby, twirling my necklace while I rocked her to sleep. 

It seems like she's grown up overnight. Her sweet little baby face now looks like a big girl! Her hair is long in the back and she says things. Her walking has gotten so much better and she has these facial expressions that really showcase her sense of humor. Y'all, she is a spitfire. She packs more personality into her tiny little frame than you could possibly imagine by looking at her. She isn't meek or mild... she is voracious.

I have so many wonderful pictures to share from her big day. As always, K really outdid herself. They are so pretty, in fact, that I didn't want to waste them on a post with too many words. I thought I'd tell you how wonderful it all was and then leave the pictures for another day. 


I started to worry that my great book idea wasn't such a great one a few days before the party. People were asking what books we didn't already have and they were worried too many people might pick the same ones. Would you believe that out of about 30 books, we only had two duplications? No big deal... those books will make a wonderful addition to the book basket at Garan's house. You wanna know what really confirmed how great of an idea it was? After nap on that Saturday, Sophie AND Ella sat in the floor of the nursery and looked through the books for hours. They have both carried them all from room to room and we have read and reread them all. Some make noises or read themselves out loud. Some have holes for little fingers or puppets that dance on each page. Some are about animals and others are about Jesus. Some are  board books for babies and others have soft pages for the bigger hands of a growing girl. One gift was a large gift card to the bookstore, so that when we tire of these first round picks, we can load up and purchase another sack full. It has been so much fun to see what each person hand-picked for our little girl and to read the lovely notes they left on the bookplates we sent out with our invitations. I'm already dreaming of ways to ask for books at Ella's party, too!

Sophie only opened one of her gifts. After the very first unwrapping, she sat contentedly beside me and read those first two books while Ella and I plowed through the others. Every few boxes that went by, I tried to encourage her to help, but she was so enamored with those books that she couldn't be disturbed. Ella didn't seem to mind. 

I can't believe it's over. We have been looking forward to the party for months now. Planning every little project, picking pretty foods and designing perfect cakes. The streamers and poms are still hanging from our chandelier. Twelve months of photos are still framed on the dining room wall. Water bottles wishing happy birthday are floating in a big blue tub and Sophie splashes the water every time she walks by.* I'm going to miss the birthday party in my dining room. 

* Don't worry -- she couldn't get into the bucket if she tried and the bottles would keep her from getting too far into the tub. I promise we aren't completely disregarding child-safety around here!


24 April 2011

wants to wish you a very Happy Easter!

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Sophie Soph

23 April 2011

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This is Sophie on her birthday. I love this outfit -- Amy, from Tootlebugs, made it for her as a birthday gift and we have worn it twice a week since then! It is so soft and snuggly and makes her look like such a big girl. She was given several birthday outfits, so she ended up wearing a different one to school every day that week.

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This scrunched up face is her new "go-to" pose when you pull out the camera. I don't know how she's figured out she's supposed to smile when we take pictures, but if you even walk by with a camera, she tilts her head back and grins away.

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On her birthday, I sent cute little chocolate cupcakes from the Publix bakery to "school" with her to share with her friends. Heidi said she had to have a little impromptu rinse off in the sink after snack time. This girl LOVES to eat.

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My girls are so blessed to have such a sweet group of friends at school. This is Noah, Macy Beth, Kaitlyn, Ella, Sophie, Carson (Big Dog) and Connor. We are missing Maley Kate, Madeline and Preston in this picture.

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See... here's that crazy, scrunchy face again. It's a good look at those chompers, too. She still only has two on bottom and almost four on top. On of her middle teeth is not quite through the gums yet and it is giving us fits at bedtime and nap time. I'm kind of ready to reclaim my bed for the adults! Maybe this one will break through very soon.

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On Monday we had our 12 month well baby visit with Dr. Darby. Sophie was so big and brave at the doctor's office... until the nurse came in. She weighed 19 pounds and 1 ounce and was 30.5 inches long. I think her head was 18 inches around. She's still in the 25th percentile for weight and 90th for height. So thrilled for a tall and skinny girl! Darby said she looked wonderful. We talked about cars eats and teeth brushing and foods she's eating. She is already drinking whole milk, but the doctor encouraged us to lose the bottle as soon as we can. Yesterday was our first full day without it and so far, so good. I'm hoping that when I take her to school on Monday morning we'll be ready to ditch it there, too. We've only ever used a pacifier at night when she sleeps and occasionally in the car, so we don't have to worry about that just yet. She isn't really attached, so I'm hoping we can eliminate that sometime over the summer.

Can you believe how big this little is getting?

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