Snow

The day started with me waking up and peeking through the blinds of my bedroom window to see snow falling heavily. I laid there and watched it fall, able to hear it through the thin glass, and able to smell it through the cracks in the wooden window frame. Trey kept asking what I was doing, because I was making a lot of noise as I moved the blinds around to get a better view. We watched it fall, hopeful that I wouldn’t have to go into work. Eventually, I got ready for work anyway and we ran outside to play in it before I had to leave.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetSeveral hours, and four more inches of snow later, I came home to him making a decadent, thick hot chocolate, and pouring it into travel mugs so that we could go for a walk. I was so antsy and nervous that I had missed out on all of the snow fun, and that everyone would make everything soggy and melty before I could really get out there to see it. But, I was wrong. It was perfect. I hadn’t missed anything, and we settled in to hours and hours of white winter bliss.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

I thought that it was just a Homewood thing, but I found out that almost all of the homes in the communities around Birmingham have Christmas trees in their yards. Some of them are decorated, some play music, some are just glowing brightly with warm, white lights. We usually only see the ones in Homewood, and I’m best friends with all of them. I   love love love love that I live in a city that loves to celebrate Christmas.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Trey took pictures of every snowman that he found on all of the walks that he took that day, but this one was my favorite.

IMG_0227IMG_1417

I love this amazing drone picture that my brother in law took.

We walked for miles and miles, singing “Snow” from White Christmas, laughing all the way. We came home to a cold apartment that we warmed up with space heaters, candles, and Christmas tree lights. We ate spaghetti aglio e olio and watched Christmas movies while our power flickered on and off, from the weight of the snow on the power lines.

More snow pictures will come, and hopefully more snow will come, too!

 

Good Together

This weekend, Abbey married Colby. The ceremony was beautiful with hawks flying overhead, and they were married beneath a tree, in her parents’ backyard behind their barn. Everything was perfectly Abbey. The reception was a wild dance party. Her godfather wore sparkly gold vans that he made himself “for his fashionista goddaughter”. The family brought out the Topper cigars that are present at every Crain/Roth get-together. There were moscow mules and manhattans for the sipping. The dinner was HeAvEnLy, and just so happened to be from the place where Colby asked Abbey’s father ‘s permission to marry her. I’m confident that every single attendee had a wonderful time, which I don’t believe can always be said for all weddings. This was special though. There is so much love on both sides of Abbey and Colby, and so much support that is ready to be given should the need arise.

Here’s a recap of the best wedding ever.

Thursday: I went up for the wedding a day earlier so that I could help finish up a few things and spend some time with Abbey. We went to dinner with her family and her *new* in-laws, and then spent the evening listening to Christmas music and wrapping up wedding to-do’s. Christmas music seemed to play in the background throughout the weekend, which kept everyone extra cheerful, and kept the bride calm.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Friday: We had a slow start to the morning and sipped coffee on her parents’ back porch. We went on a scenic walk to get our heart rates pumping and to work off a little of that steak and wine from the night before. The rehearsal went well and then there was a Halloween themed rehearsal dinner for the two of them. There was a video, expertly made by her cousin Daniel, and there were speeches given by a few of their nearest and dearest.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Saturday: Wedding day. The morning was moody and dim, which I’m thinking was meant to be, just so Abbey could  sleep in. We watched Father of the Bride and drank mimosas and snacked all morning, turning Christmas music on whenever Abbey started feeling a little jittery.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIMG_0192

We pampered ourselves, had our hair and makeup done, and just spent time together. Props to Abbey for finding a squad that is so easy to like and love.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

IMG_0382

I mean LOOK AT HER. I would marry her.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I only saw her for a few minutes after the ceremony because brides have to be on the MOVE. But, she looked phenomenal. He looked so handsome.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

BADA$$ BABEZ

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

My three favorites. Notice that nod to GoT on Daniel’s jacket.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Despite the chill in the air, everyone had a smile on their face.

 

Abbey and Colby, “may the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

Home-Home

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I went to Florence last weekend for a visit that lifted me up and left me feeling a million times better. It’s always hard to go home, because I know that I won’t want to leave when my visit is over – especially during the holidays. I’ve always been a homebody, meaning that so much of my years were spent right at home. My mom and I would have “spa nights” together while all of my friends were at the movies or out getting ice cream. She and I would order our favorite salads, put on face masks, and curl up on the couch with movies that are now woven into every fiber of my being. This is why I can quote Notting Hill, You’ve Got Mail, Chocolat, Sabrina, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, One Fine Day, Two Weeks Notice, Pretty Woman, French Kiss, and many other 80’s and 90’s chick flicks backwards and forwards. We would bake together, and she and I would decorate for holidays as a team. At the very beginning of October, she would let me bring out the Halloween decorations, and I’d string faux spiderwebs down the banister. I’d bring out her vintage Santa collection, and arrange them just so for Christmas. We never missed decorating the Christmas tree together as a family. But, time passed, college happened, I moved away, my brother moved out, he traveled the world, and things slipped through the cracks. Now, she gets a tree whenever she has a chance, and we hope we are able to come help her decorate it. These are the bitter things about being home. I remember all of the things that I miss out on, and I know that I’m never around for things to be like they were.

But, the sweet things about being home are the new memories that we make. My dad moved into a new, beautiful house that is perfect for them. My mom and I make lists of everything we want to accomplish, and are doing a pretty good job so far of checking things off of it. My brother bought a house that I know is going to be a perfect home base for all of his travels to come to an end.

I’ve found that I’m making new, sweet memories every time I drive through the city of Florence and remember this parking lot where all of my friends piled in the back of Hope’s SUV. I pass the spot where I had my first kiss, and the park where I would take Jon to throw rocks in the river. I take the back roads that I would drive in high school, just for fun. I pass the church that used to be the movie theater where I met my first boyfriend. I pass the coffee shop that I’ve been going to since before it was Rivertown, near the park where I once saw a stranger wait with a red rose for someone who never showed up. I pass the cemetery where I attended a policeman’s funeral. I pass the park where I rode a tandem bicycle with my friend Samantha. I pass County Rd. 42, where I said something funny, which resulted in Hope making me a cd of songs, with my quote written in Sharpie as the album art. I pass the store where my mom used to buy soy milk for Jon, because all other milk made him sick. I pass the fairgrounds where I first saw my Wybie – my pup that my dad and stepmother have made their pup *grumble grumble*. I pass the clothing shop where my mom and I would get those little mini cheesecake bites during the Christmas parade. I remember feeling so fancy next to her, with her lipstick, and her wool coat, and her perfume floating along with her. I pass the ballpark where we would watch Andy play little league baseball. I pass the gas station where my dad met me after I walked up on my mom’s house after someone had just broken in. I was panicking and I couldn’t find my mom, but my dad rushed over to save the day. Oh, and my mom was at ballroom dance lessons the whole time *grumble grumble*. I pass Stagg’s, where my dad and I would get hamburgers when I worked in the chemical plant with him that summer. I pass the place where he and I bought my steel-toed boots, and I remember thinking that I felt so badass, and that the old men in the shop couldn’t handle my badassery. I pass the Indian Mound, that I visited once, and the restaurant that used to be Tourway, that I went to countless times. I pass Trowbridges, the ice-cream shop that I would walk to with my grandmother when I was very small, and then later as an adult with all of my friends. I still remember the pansies that were planted all around her apartment complex, and pansies always make me think of her. I have memories tied into every inch of my lovely hometown, and when I go home, they flood my heart and send me swimming.

Seeing things through a new, matured lens makes me want to hug my younger self, even if I’m sometimes embarrassed for her. I want to hug all of these memories close and never let them go.

Just Missing Things

I miss Disney World. I miss the walking, and the occasional blisters, and the blinding sun, and the hot dogs and lemonade at Casey’s Corner. I miss the smell of the Main Street Confectionery. I miss the Christmas decorations, and the Halloween parades. I miss casually seeing Peter Pan, strolling down the street. I miss the Disney hotels, and the fireworks at night. I miss the roller coasters, and the daily thunderstorms. I miss walking around the world in Epcot, and I miss the massive parking lots. I miss e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

IMG_1267IMG_1458 (1)

I miss the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I miss the butterbeer. Oh, boy, do I miss the butterbeer. I miss the shops, and the magic of it all. I miss Moaning Myrtle in the girls’ bathroom. I miss the turkey legs, and the potatoes. I miss the pumpkin pasties. I miss the rides and the art that’s everywhere. I miss the dragon that breathes fire (that almost never works). I miss the breakfasts and the lunches and the dinners. I miss Universal hotels, and I miss Seuss Landing. I miss the Jurassic Park ride. I miss all of it.

IMG_7713IMG_0329

Take me baaaack.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIMG_9203Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

“Flowers are happy things.”

IMG_0191

We went to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens today for the first time since we’ve moved back. It was always one of mine and Trey’s regular stops when we first began dating, and today we were able to share it with Jon Christian.

IMG_0188

This fella and his Alabama hats. He was born in PA, but moved to AL in middle school and is an Alabamian through and through. If I were to do a little bit of closet inventory, I imagine that I would find five or six hats that are somehow related to Alabama. He was meant to be a southerner.

IMG_0201IMG_0203IMG_0214IMG_0219

I handed my camera over to Jon every now and then to try to distract him from the heat, and I love the pictures that he captured.

IMG_0227IMG_0229IMG_0232

I could live in these gardens.

IMG_0261IMG_0264IMG_0278

These guys. Trey lets Jon give him all of the eskimo kisses, back scratches, nose rubs, and big squeezes that he wants, for as long as he wants. Trey is patient, kind, and understanding about what makes Jon tick, and he knows what to say to put my worries at ease. And, whenever I am nose deep in flowers, Trey and Jon can retreat to the shade together.

IMG_0282IMG_0289IMG_0295

We didn’t make it to the koi ponds, which I’m sure Jon would have loved. But, we made sure to stop by the roses which are what I always associate with the beginning years of Trey and I. We went to these gardens so often, and walked through the roses all year round. When I knew that he was going to propose, and I was hunting for the perfect engagement ring, I was thrilled to  learn that the one I fell in love with was called a rose cut diamond. Of course it would be.

IMG_0303IMG_0310IMG_0315IMG_0328

Some of my favorite quotations about gardening and flowers:

There are always flowers for those who want to see them. – Henri Matisse

The earth laughs in flowers. – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Flowers grow out of dark moments. –  Corita Kent

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. – Margaret Atwood

It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the spring, who reaps a harvest in the autumn. – B.C. Forbes

Title and Registration

For years, my brother, Andy has taken me to concerts. Usually, it’s for my birthday, and it’s always so much fun. I think that older brothers are meant to shape your taste in music. I know that Andy shaped mine, and that Trey shaped his little sister’s. Andy loves so many different genres, and I don’t know if you could really classify his taste, or mine. BUT, all I know is that I love Janet Jackson’s Someone To Call My Lover, equally as much as I love The Andrews Sisters of the 1940’s singing Oh, Johnny Oh. And, I love that as much as I love Nikki Lane singing Jackpot, or as much as I love the soundtrack of the new Beauty and the Beast movie. I love quiet lullabies, and sock hop jingles. I love 80’s power ballads, and folky, back porch jam sessions. It’s rare to find something I don’t love, and I think I owe that to my older brother.

Over the years, he has taken me to several different Avett Brothers shows, OK Go, Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, and most recently, Death Cab For Cutie.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I have a million memories that are tied to Death Cab songs. Carefully curated high school playlists burned to CD’s, late night drives home, solo golden hour drives on rain-drenched roads through my hometown, local bands covering their songs at small shows on Florence’s one cobblestone street, while all the teenage girls swoon.

Now, I can add another memory to the collection, and it’s a good one. My brother, my husband, and myself, drenched from cold rain, sipping cold beers that aren’t warming us anywhere near fast enough, while we stand under the roof of Sloss Furnace in Birmingham. It was extra special since there weren’t phones in the air, blocking our view the whole time. It was really, really cold. So, I imagine that once people’s hands found their pockets… they didn’t come out unless it was time to clap- and maybe not even then. It was beautiful, and therapeutic, and the nearby train whistle blowing made it even better.

Also, my brother-in-law is a concert photographer, so I have some truly great close up shots of Ben Gibbard singing my favorite songs on a perfect, rainy night that ended with bacon, eggs, and hot waffles.

A Banjo on My Knee

I was born and raised in Alabama, the centermost southern state, the Heart of Dixie. Up until last August, I had lived there all my life. I hadn’t really considered my southern roots until we moved to Florida. I would say “y’all” and someone would repeat it back to me, not in a rude way, but more like a fun little wink, acknowledging something. I’d stretch out a word and then I’d hear it said back to me, in the same way. I’d always follow that echo with, “Is that really how I said it?” My southern accent isn’t something I get called out for often. It’s not very thick or very pronounced, and for the longest time I tried to hide it because I knew that the south had a history. Alabama is practically known for that one billboard that says “GO TO CHURCH OR THE DEVIL WILL GET YOU”, and many other things, mostly negative. I remember being nine or ten, when this girl who was selling books of some sort came by our house. She was from Colorado, or somewhere out west, and was surprised that people in Alabama had cars, shoes, nice homes, and clothes other than overalls. That was probably the moment when I first became a little bit embarrassed to tell people where I was from.

Over the last several years, I’ve learned to shake most of that off. I wish that my home state was more progressive, and had a less offensive history. But, I know that I can set myself apart from the negativity by just being myself, and still be a part of this beautiful state. In fact, since we moved back, I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud to be a part of it.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Every time I step foot outside, I feel drunk off of the Alabama air. It sounds completely crazy, but the air is so sweet and it smells so good, and there are so many different shades of green, and the southern charm is EVERYWHERE. Trey won’t stop exclaiming various phrases, “GOSH!” “%$#&!” “IT’S SO PRETTY!” “HOLY COW!” and letting out squeals and yells and sighs. He is so happy to be here, and even though he isn’t even originally from Alabama, it’s his home. He told me that Alabama looks good on me, and I believe him. On Easter, we went to my grandparents’ house, and I felt like I was swimming in southern culture, like it was a big pot of black-eyed peas with a side of cornbread. My whole family was there, and it was as if someone was giving me medicine that I had been trying to live without for nearly a year. Trey was so happy, and I think he smiled the whole way home that day. I spent the drive thinking about what it is that I love about this place so much. Why did the day feel so good? Why did I not feel sad all day long? Last week I found out that my grandfather, Papa has cancer. We don’t know how advanced it is yet, but we know enough to know that nothing is really going to get better. He and I had a few minutes alone together, and we were able to talk about it. He said that he isn’t in a hurry to go anywhere, and he knows that it’s going to get a lot worse. He said that Nanny is tired, and that they both expected something like this. I held his hands and he said that his hands are numb, his guess is arthritis, and that everything hurts. I asked if he could feel me holding his hands, and he said it mainly felt like pressure. I asked if it hurt his jaw when I hugged him earlier (he has cancer in his mouth), and he said that it didn’t. My eyes were teary, and I knew he could tell, but we spoke honestly and openly. He said that he is happy that I’m here, and happy that I can be around through the rest of it. He calls me Sadie, never Sarah. Always Sadie or Sadie May. Trey has said that my southern accent is at its height when I talk to my Papa. I don’t ever hear it, but he says that it’s more pronounced than it is when I talk to anyone else, anywhere else. I know that he is right. When I’m done talking to him, my mouth feels different. My jaw feels like it’s been working in a way that it normally doesn’t work, and it feels tired. I love it. It’s like his voice grabs onto mine, and changes it. I feel different when I’m talking to him, and afterwards. I feel lighter and everything seems easier. He is everything that it means to be a southern gentleman, and he is a brilliant man. He embodies everything that I love about the south, and he is one of the many reasons that I’m so happy to be home. I’m happy that my southern roots run deep, deep, deep, and that I have time to learn my Papa’s recipe for biscuits, and my Nanny’s recipe for chocolate gravy.

“Oh, Susanna, oh don’t you cry for me. I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee.”