The Post About San Fran Paparazzi

This has to be one of the most beautiful cities ever. A city on a hill (more like 43 hills...)

Per Shannon's suggestion, we took a cheap bay cruise and it was worth the $20.

We saw Alcatraz:

We saw my namesake bridge:
But more importantly, we were seen. By that, I mean a lovely tourist from the Pacific Rim decided her travel scrapbook would not be complete without pictures with Caryann and me (individually). Here is a picture of her with Caryann helping you find her:
I wanted you to see her, since it was quite a strange experience.

We started and ended our time here at the Ferry Building:
There is a huge farmer's market here. But farmers are more like pastry chefs and somaliers. I had the best cupcake from Miette that made my hair stand up on end. But despite, the huge amount of fresh bread, and wine, and cheese, and chocolate - all we saw were skinny wenches. This could be because everyone walks. We actually walked from here to Pier 43 and 1/2 (which was 43 and 1/2 piers away - almost 2 miles...) But we made up for it in fresh sourdough bread from Boudin Cafe.

The other common denominator about San Francisco is being earth-conscious. This was a trash can at the Market:

Three Choices - 1. Recycle. 2. Compost. or 3. Trash. It was fabulous!

But the best part of our time in San Fran was seeing the lovely Kristen Gafric. Kristen and I both graduated from Emory and were fast friends when we met our freshman year. She found me on Facebook right before I left on vacation to let me know she was living in Cali. What perfect timing on God's part! It's always great to reconnect, no?

One last stop on the whirlwind...the park rangers will meet us there.


The Post About the Pacific and ER

Still making my way home...thank you to Kara and Joseph who are picking me up from the airport tonight. Eventually.

One of my favorite vacation memories is traveling with my college roomie Angie and putting my little piggies in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. (although it was New Jersey and I am sure there was a follow-up rash involved...) This was my first jaunt to the Pacific.

Santa Monica is stunning:

My pop culture alter ego was most giddy about this moment:

The "E" Box asked us which celebrity we thought would get in trouble over the holidays. I am fairly certain the footage of my monologue about the train wreck that is Lindsay Lohan will be used on a loop.

We ate at some phenomenal places while we were in Cali, but we also caved and ate cheap at McD's. The difference? Angus Burger and a woman washing her hair in the women's bathroom sink.

However, you will be glad to know that we saw several homeless folks and used the "cracker method" even on the West Coast.

We were able to take a VIP Tour at Warner Brothers Studios. I would recommend this to any and everyone (it's also the best ranked studio tour on Frommer's and Lonely Planet - so don't just take my word for it.)

Stars Hollow:

Mike Seaver's Garage:

And best of all -the set of ER:

I walked in and said "This is amazing! It looks just like ER." Caryann responded "It IS the set of ER, you idiot." Oh.

Is there more? But, of course. We head north tomorrow to the home of Giants and Asian stalkers...

The Post About Hollywood (Not the Cradle of Hell)

(I am headed to the airport for the long road home - a great song by Patty Griffin, but probably not a great experience for me...)

I am a media junkie - I love news about politics, news about the economy, news about world affairs, and news about Reese and Jake. I love it all. So going to Hollywood was a must. We stayed overnight off the Sunset Strip (which I think was risking our lives...) but it was a great location. It looked just like Melrose Place - I was waiting on Jake to come and fix our plumbing:

The one bizarre thing was the parking garage:
It was like driving into another layer of the earth. Plus, at one point, I know I saw a dumpster going about 45mph down the ramp.

Outside of our hotel, we saw trannies, Germans, and Barney. Yes, the dinosaur. Walking down a dark street after 9pm, by himself, with no particular agenda.

We saw all the standard tourist-y things represented here by the Chinese Theater:

It is not a God-less place as some would have you think. Exhibit A:

Of course, for the defense (with a cigarette butt on the symbol):

This is Rodeo Drive:

A place where I had to lay my idols down. Keep us moving, Lacretia.

Caryann and I find euphemisms for cursing quite hilarious. (we think we may be alone in this). This is our favorite:

More from Santa Monica and Stars Hollow later today...


The Post About Cali

I am actually sitting at Caryann's dining room table uploading a "few" pics from the last several days. I trekked across the country to see her for the holidays. And to see a state and ocean I've never encountered. An adventure was had by all.

She lives here. This is the Central Valley of California. An ideal location if you might like to mooch off a friend for a vacation.

The first thing I noticed was how long it took to get here. I've flown to Seattle, but I think when you have buddies, the time flies by. I only had my non-English speaking companion on the first flight and a bit of a spooning fuddy dud on the second. So I drank my ginger ales, read my "I Am America (And So Can You)" and listened to David Platt to make it seem a tad shorter than the actual 9 hours it took from drop-off to pick-up. It took a nano-second longer than planned because I got stopped by homeland security. I am guessing my mom's fudge and the Weight Watchers magazine packed together in my carry-on were more than a little suspicious.

Since it was Xmas, and every good houseguest brings a gift - I brought this little lady:

Her name is Lacretia. She helped us find our way.

Caryann is notoriously anti-Christmas. She loves the baby Jesus (and the grown-up Jesus), but could leave the secular and Christianized commerical behind. Since she knows I love a lil' bit of the red and green, she had this waiting:

Finally, as part of this intro post, Caryann's roommate - the snazzy Shannon - introduced me to my new obsession:

There is no better legal drug.

There are more posts to follow highlighting the road trip that did not disappoint.

Did you have a good Christmas?


The Post About California, Here I Come

California is where I am headed at the crack of the manger this morning. I am going to try and blog while I am across the country...we'll see.

P.S. Merry Christmas, officially.


The Post About Emmanuel

Beyond all question, the mystery of Godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.
1 Timothy 3:16

Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for joy?

Power. Greater power than we can imagine, abandoned, as the Word knew the powerlessness of the unborn child, still unformed, taking up almost no space in the great ocean of amniotic fluid, unseeing, unhearing, unknowing. Slowly growing, as any human embryo grows, arms and legs and a head, eyes, mouth, nose, slowly swimming into life until the ocean in the womb is no longer large enough, and it is time for birth. Madeleine L'Engle, from Bright Evening Star.

Emmanuel - God with us.


The Post About Being Alone On My Hall

There are approximately 7 of us in the building today. Almost all of my co-workers are off spreading holiday cheer at the mall or in their kitchens baking cookies. I am in office #11. However, the bonus of working until the last day (we are closed the rest of the week) is that you get mucho done. There are no babies screaming in the playroom, or co-workers yelling down the hall, or constant pages for missing co-workers who forgot to sign out. Plus, my own phone hasn't rung in two days and my inbox is down to less than 15 emails (a record!). Merry Chrismahanakwanzaa!

Honestly, I have taken some of my "work" time to spread my own holiday cheer through cyber-diversions. If you are stuck at work wishing you were home watching Christmas Vacation or binge eating fudge, and need a distraction - here you go:

1. Elf Yourself. It wouldn't be Christmas without the baby Jesus and this site.
2. Cake Wrecks. When cakes go mysteriously wrong.
3. Santa's Special Delivery. This game is snazzy. You must help Santa deliver presents before he gets too plastered to see the numbers on the elevator.


The Post About No Room at the Inn

I spent yesterday afternoon with my family - eating carbs, playing games, and listening to my 5-year-old niece speak. The latter has to do with the fact that Katelynne has the most distinct New Jersey accent of anyone I've ever met. She was born and raised in Alabama, so I am guessing she was sneaking episodes of The Sopranos when she was working through language development. I need to record her chatter and post it here...you would shake your head, for sure.

Katelynne grabbed my hand and led me to the stockings hung by my parents' chimney with care. She had an intense look of concern on her face when she asked "Wheh-er is yo huz-band's stockin gonna go?" It wasn't until that moment I realized there is no room on the mantle for added family members. I am guessing it was an attempt on my mother's part to subtlely hint to my brother to stop reproducing (4 kids). However, Katelynne is right. Where is his stocking going to hang?

Then I looked at the seating arrangement for dinner. Six at the dining room table and three at the bar. (Of course, Katelynne, my 9-year-old niece Ashlynne, and I occupy the "kiddie table.") There is not an inch of space to seat my husband.

When I challenged my Mom on this, she unemphatically promised to get a new table if I could snag a husband. It was as if she threw down the gauntlet.

God and I will make her eat those words. Right, God?


The Post About Cheerfulity

I ran out to Old Navy today at lunch to "quickly" pick up some gifts for my godsons (they don't read this blog so it won't ruin the surprise - they actually don't read at all...) Quickly didn't happen when I realized 12, count 'em, 12 shoppers were in front of me to check out. This is my spot with a view:

Immediately I felt the bah humbug wash over me. Until I remembered a phone conversation from an hour earlier with Christy Mixon. I had shared in Sunday School this week about finding ways to give back. My friend Caryann had suggested keeping food in your car to give to those you meet who are hungry. So I passed out packs of peanut butter crackers for folks in our class to give. I had also shared a tip on paying for the car behind you at a drive-thru. That's why Christy called. She had gone to McDonald's in our neighborhood and done just that. The cashier asked her if it was "part of her religion?" She was only able to chat for a moment but it definitely ministered to him and to the customer waiting for their comped meal.

So I left Old Navy and crossed off Chick-Fil-A and headed to McDonald's. (I figure more folks needing a cheap meal eat there instead of my beloved, but costly ChristianChicken.) The only bad thing is that I didn't really want credit for it, but you pay and get your meal at two different windows. I overhead the cashier tell the woman in the silver Cavalier "I'm not kiddin'. That girl paid for yours and said 'Merry Christmas.'" She responded "Get out!" I tried to look busy, but could not ignore the woman once she put half of her body out of the car window and yelled "Hey Girl! Thank You!" I smiled and said "God bless" and went to munching my fabulous fries. The bah humbug was gone.

I don't share these stories for a pat on the back, but as evidence of what God can do when we give with some cheer (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Any other ideas of how to be a giver?


The Post About Veni Veni

My favorite Christmas song is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. There is simply something about the haunting music and thick lyrics that get to me every time. We sang it at church on Sunday morning, but I actually buggered up the PowerPoint lyrics for the praise team and choir so it lost it's loving feeling at the beginning of the 2nd verse. But God provided a reprieve last night at our Christmas @ Resonate service when our worship leader, Jesse Crowe, led it. Such good stuff. Take a listen to the yummy Bebo Norman give the song some life:

The best verse you don’t hear is:
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Peace. What a great Christmas gift that would be.


The Post About 1500 Parakeets

This article describes how 1500 parakeets were rescued today from a 2-room apartment in Berlin.

I am getting the sneaky suspicion that a similar article will be written about a cozy gray house on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama, where 1500 lizards will be rescued. Or at least one sassy single white female rescued from the 1500 lizards.

I had another critter in my laundry room today. I conjured up every ounce of courage and screeched my way through 15 minutes of planning and plotting and executing how to move it from inside to outside. And I did it. I then cracked open two more sticky pads to place in the tiny space hoping to landmine the area for a future breaking & entering. The problem with that? I have gotten myself stuck on them twice so far and they are quite the sticky buggers. Plus, there is a picture of a mouse under the goo which keeps making me think there is a mouse stuck on it. (Albeit, it is a cartoon mouse who's one-dimensional.)

I think there is an intricate labyrinth of tunnels underneath my home where they are living like "The Littles." I loved "The Littles." I do not love lizards.

Any advice?


The Post About The Truck Baring Down

Brock and Auny Gill posted this video on their blogs and it is too fascinating and thought-provoking not to do the same. This is Penn Gillette of Penn & Teller (magicians). He is a self-professed atheist. Here is his wisdom regarding believers sharing their faith.

The truck is coming and I am now committed to being a traffic cop.

I Peter 3:15-16 "Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way."


The Post About Bathroom Choices

When I was at Mississippi State University on Saturday for my brother's college graduation, I experienced something very disturbing. It took me three attempts in the bathroom to find a stall that had been flushed. Umm...no. At the time, I gave the credit to the women of Mississippi, but then I saw this today in a bathroom stall at a state building in the capital of Alabama:

When did our potty etiquette become so lax that it required hidden cameras to catch perps? There are similar notices in the ladies' room at my office in Birmingham. (and the term "ladies" is relative if it requires such signage.) I know that some people live by the creed: "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." But please note - this is only in your home with consenting family members. A mantra you should repeat is "If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie." This is appropriate at home or away.

Other bathroom guidelines?

The Post About Later

Later. That is the precise moment I will be able to blog in a more profound way (althought if you read this thread on a regular basis, you know "profound" is few and far between)

I am waiting on caffeine to brew and Ann Curry to tell me what's going on in the world outside my chilly house. Then I am headed to Montgomery for work.

I will be back. Later.


The Post About Oh Brother

This is my family - circa 1976. (I'm the tipsy one up front.)

My brother is the cute one on the right. He is almost 6 years older than me. My Mom had three miscarriages between us (proof that I'm probably a blessing.) Unfortunately, six years creates a ton of tension between siblings. He pretty much tortured me growing up because I lingered everywhere he went. His idea of "babysitting" me meant placing me in a laundry basket and putting it in the closet until our parents returned. When I was 11, he and some friends pretended to be kidnappers and tried to snatch me off my bicycle as I was riding to the mailbox. I was so traumatized that they had to find chores for me that didn't involve going near the road.

Despite our angst, I really do love him very much. He has supported me through moving away and moving back and moving away again. Through picking the majors less traveled. Through picking the jobs with no insurance or big paycheck. Through it all.

Plus, he has given me a lovely sister-in-law and a nephew and 3 nieces who can't be beat.

But one of the most exciting things that has ever happened will happen tomorrow. He is graduating from Mississippi State University. Twenty years after starting school, he will receive a Bachelor's Degree in Geoscience and Occupational Meteorology. Isn't that just superb? He has faced a lot of detours (family, finances, 2 war deployments) but he has persevered. He is a super role model for starting what you finish, no matter the obstacles.

"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." Galatians 6:9


The Post About the Washburns & Metal Charlie

The Washburns are coming... The Washburns are coming...

My dear friends Chris and Amanda (and Zahir and Zoe) are returning to their "home" today. They moved away in August to live in New York, but God said "Umm...check it - get thee back to Bama."

I am pleased.

This video also makes me happy because Charlie Brown would look good with a little eyeliner.


The Post About Zack, Kelly, and Seabiscuit

I want my blog to be educational as well as entertaining. Not that it is entertaining, but I do think some stranger things happen to me. Or perhaps I am the stranger part of all of it...

Here are some common phrases I use and the story behind their origin...

Raining Cats and Dogs: In 1600s England, it was common practice to discard any waste into the streets - even dead household pets. Once it rained so much that the now-deceased Tabbies and Fidos became buoyant and floated along the streets, thus inspiring writer Richard Brome in 1651 to record, "it shall rain dogs and polecats." (It rained like that last night at my house. And at my zoological casa, you would likely find an animal floating in the yard.)

Saved by the Bell: Before modern medicine, it was hard to determine if a person was really dead or simply in a really, really deep sleep. As a precaution, the presumed dead were buried with a string that ran from the corpse's finger to a bell. If there was a mistake, the person could twitch the finger and thus be saved from being buried alive. (I am sure this is how Dustin Diamond will be buried.)

In the Limelight: Theater stages used to be illuminated by heating lime (calcium oxide) until it glowed brightly. Lime has a high melting point, and when heated, gives off a brilliant white light. The light was then focused into a spotlight, so if an actor was in the limelight, he was certainly the center of attention (and probably very hot - but not in a sassy way.)

Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: In other words, don't be ungrateful when someone gives you something. You can tell a horse's age by looking at its teeth, particularly the incisors, but if someone gave you a horse as a gift, it would be considered rude to examine its teeth - like looking for the price tag on the present. (Plus, Mr. Ed probably hasn't touched any Colgate in awhile, so it's better to stand down.)

I also say "blasted," "I know, right," and "that's so funny" (without smiling). I don't know the origin of these, but I do know they annoy a few people...

Are there any phrases you use constantly?


The Post About Cravings

Although I am not pregnant, my uterus still tends to have cravings on occasion (is that too much information...?)

My first craving was this:

It was as if I could not function unless I had one of these for breakfast today. So I did.

Last week, I experienced a particularly stressful day and was exhausted from too much work and not enough sleep. This is a dangerous equation for someone who will use food as medication. I stopped by Papa John's and asked if they had any specials. The lovely gentleman asked "How many people are you trying to feed?" Then, almost without cognitive recognition, I said "Two."

Who else was I trying to feed? I assume it was Jesus who lives inside my heart. Yep, that sounds about right.

Do you have cravings?


The Post About Fairy Godmothering (The Epilogue)

There are so many great stories from the 30.5 hours I was with my lil' god-dumplings. How about some highlights?

This is Billy refusing to come to the table and eat. He relented fairly quickly as long as I went in the kitchen first.

I wanted to road trip and since I love Chick-Fil-A, it seemed ideal. However, Billy commented "The next time Mom and Dad go far away and you babysit, let's go to McDonald's." And then James Robert said "McDonald's" over and over for more than an hour. He's a little Rain Man in many ways.

We left Chick-Fil-A and headed to Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby to buy Christmas gifts for their parents. I don't want to ruin the surprise, but those boys have "excellent" taste. Kara said it was crucial I be on the road before 2pm so James Robert would be napping. I present you with the napping boys (including the one who appears to belong to Michael Jackson.)

If they were good while shopping, I let them pick out a prize. They were, so I did. They picked blue magic wands. Billy turned to me after playing with them for a moment and said "Jamie! We look just like fairies." (This moment is described and pictured for their father.)

Bathing toddlers (a.k.a. 45 minute aerobic workout). The picture is fuzzy because they had just thrown water on me. But I am the coolest because Billy let me wash his hair (his mom said that would be a feat.)

Worst part? Smelly litter box and no caffeine. How can you parent without caffeine? How can you breathe without caffeine?

Best part? James Robert was eating very little at dinner, so we made a deal. If he ate one more goldfish, he could have the mini snickers. Removed the plate and left the one cracker and the chocolate. He was anti-goldfish, but pro-snickers - conflict. He never whined or fussed, simply drank his chocolate milk and stared me down. Finally, he knew who was the boss and put the cracker in his mouth. I praised him appropriately and gave him the chocolate. He took it and then reached in his mouth, pulled out the soggy fish, and placed it back on the table. I think I heard him say "sucker" as he left the room.

P.S. He only wanted the chocolate from the mini-snickers, so I later found the nutty caramel nougat "guts" on the couch.

The Post About the Coming Soon

I survived the Fairy Godmothering, but not without hijinks and hilarity (and a smelly cat). Details and professional photography to come later today...

A tease?
It was a pile of grilled cheese for dinner (which will come back to haunt me and the 2-year-old the next day...) Their morose faces are just a sign of respect for the lovely meal.


The Post About Fairy Godmothering

I have the two most adorable godsons:
Billy Kinnaird (age 4)
James Robert Kinnaird (age 2)

I mean, look at them. Don't they just have the best little faces? However, lurking behind those beautiful eyes are the schemes of wise and jaded men. And I shall be their caretaker for 28 hours starting at 6pm tonight.

I asked their mom, Kara, to jot down some notes. I told her not to assume I would know how to do anything (since I can only barely care for myself). See this previous blog for my common sense aptitude. Here are some excerpts from her how-to guide:
Start getting ready for bed: 8 p.m.
o Brush teeth with Thomas toothpaste (Billy only requires you putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush; he does the rest; James Robert will usually try to stick out his tongue when you brush his teeth, just do the best you can!) Billy’s toothbrush is Diego; JR’s is Peanuts.
o Clean up toys in living room, bedrooms, and kitchen at 8:30 p.m. You may even want to start this at 8 p.m. because of the whine factor!
o Put on pajamas (Do this after teeth and toys) Billy’s pajamas, sock & underwear is in the 2nd drawer from the top. JR’s is 3rd from top.
o Make sure Billy pee-pees.
o Bedtime: 9 p.m. This may require a bedtime story or a song or two. Billy will tell you.
o James Robert needs medicine when he goes to bed – 7 ml of Bubble Gum medicine (in fridge). Syringe is on bathroom sink.
o They can have milk when they get in bed (make sure it is in cups that don’t leak) Give Billy about ½ of the cup and tell him to get up and pee-pee again after he finishes drinking it.
o RELAX! Well, at least by 10 p.m.

Umm...that's a lot to get ready for bed. Of course, I have an 8-step skin care routine, so who am I to judge?

Billy can wipe his own rear end (although you will have to put the seat on the toilet and help him take off his pants and then check his butt after he is finished to make sure he got it all.) Hey, but at least it isn’t a diaper!

I love that Kara can find a silver lining.

Billy can actually do a lot of things on his own, but he likes to be pampered and catered to because he is his father!

Thank you Joseph for your needy nature and nurturing.


Hopefully James Robert will not wake up in a foul mood, but if he does then you can try to give him a bottle, which he will most likely throw, hold him, but he’ll try to jump.

Why do I have the feeling that he and I are going to be in fight? (and he will win.)

I am sure I will have stories.


The Post About January 21

I am not sure you can be in love with 46 minutes of television, but I might be.


The Post About Wise Critters

My facebook status yesterday was : "Jamie realizes the Star of Bethlehem is now over her house for those bugs and ickies seeking the newborn King. Luckily Herod is coming (Wayne's Pest Control.)"

You have already seen me blog about my lizard invasion (aka plague #2), which extended it's attack last Wednesday at 1:30pm. I was straightening up - putting things in their place, like a responsible homeowner, when our eyes met. I was standing in my bedroom and he was crawling on my hamper. Decisions, decisions. I had successfully rid the house of one lizard on my own (as well as the three articles of clothing I bunched up and threw out with it - bye, bye black dress.) So I thought I could muster up the courage for a repeat performance. But even after praying 2 Timothy 1:7 as a mantra - I couldn't inch closer than 6 feet away.

So I called Christy. She was napping. I called Patrick - he was eating and agreed to help (much to my surprise.) I continued to scream at random intervals because that seemed to keep lizard #4 on edge. Patrick came, got a cup, and went to hunting. The lizard sensed the danger in the red plastic cup and made a dash for under the dresser. Patrick tried to lure the critter out with his face and LED flashlight, but to no avail. Patrick proclaimed he had done all he could do. But I couldn't knowingly leave the diseased animal to roam free in my humble abode, could I? So he called Christy. She was still napping. I called Austin - who answered the phone (although he was also asleep) and came over. After begging and pleading (from me to continue the search), Austin managed to snatch the lizard from out of a crevice in the furniture. He gave the varmint a stern talking-to and let him go (in my neighbor's yard.)

Was it over?

I woke up Monday morning and there was a slug/snake in my kitchen moving at a snail's pace (I don't think it was a snail.) I sought out God's gift of courage yet again, and He said "no." So I picked a book from my library I could sacrifice (Flea Market Deals) and heaved it from 4 feet hoping to nail the sucker. And I did. And I left for work.

Christy came over at 7pm to coroner the dead.

Wayne comes tomorrow to strengthen the perimeter.


The Post About Pandora's Box

I really delight in other people's blogs - almost to the point that I feel a tad stalkerish. However, my lingering is always motivated by love (and not the kind that mails you notes with our faces merged.)

The best part is getting great recommendations, which I will now pay forward:

Pandora: My ADD demands I have background noise to maintain basic function (like blinking and texting). Pandora is the supply. Type in your favorite artist and Pandora shimmies and shakes it's box and plays that artist and/or others with a similar sound until you can't stand it anymore. And the best part? Free. Right now, I have stations for Brooke Fraser, Beyonce, and Ryan Adams. Pandora has now hooked me onto Keri Noble, Adrianne, and Wilco. You can even get Pandora free on your mobile phone.

So scoot and pull back the lid. Only snazzy things await.
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