Friday, April 30, 2010

More Today Than Yesterday

Today I went back to the beach. I know, you are surprised, right? I enjoyed putting my feet in the white powder sand. The water was reflecting the grey of the clouds, but still clear. The wind was moving about 30 mph, so I didn't even pull Abby out of her carrier.
I played with my new camera and realized I am woefully under-camera-educated to use the complex device. I wanted a picture with the seashell I found, but I couldn't get it in focus.
I went out and put my feet in the water for what may be the last time for a long time. It wasn't cold, but it rarely is. The Gulf of Mexico is usually a very warm body of water. It is one of the reasons these are such fantastic places to vacation with kids. No cold ocean water!

(Please ignore my unpedicured toes)
I watched a little airplane pull a banner behind it. Apparently there is live music as well as a Wet T-shirt contest at Flounders.
And more fishing boats out fighting the water for as much seafood as they can catch now. I absolutely love gulf seafood. My favorite is southern fried mullet. Fried is pronounced "frahd" and there is a diphthong in there somewhere, I'm sure.  More on that tomorrow.
I hope this disaster can be stopped and reversed. I will miss this place forever.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The End Of The World As We Know It

Ever since Mr Darling returned to Utah last Sunday, (sniff) I have been missing him, (and his camera), something fierce. Hence, no blogging. No pictures = boring blog. But, today I remembered my camera and headed off to the beach.

Now, perhaps those of you reading this haven't been keeping up with the news, but a MASSIVE oil spill is headed to Pensacola Beach and the entire eastern gulf coast. It will end up being larger than the Exxon Valdez crash. These pristine white sand beaches will be lost for a long time to come and the thought breaks my heart. Can you imagine the terrible future for our children if we continually damage this earth they are to inherit?
So, I am determined to enjoy as much time on them as I can while I can. Today Abby and I watched wind surfers riding their boards back and forth along the beach. We saw a mom and an older baby splashing in the water. We saw pelicans and seagulls and sandpipers. We watched the fishing boats frantically pulling out as much fish as they can before the oil fouls the water. My heart is breaking at losing this glorious creation, even if just for a time.
Much like the prophets of old who required miracles, I am praying. And I would like to ask any of you who read this to please include the people and animals and beaches of the gulf coast in your prayers.
 People here depend on the water for food and their livelihoods. The fish are unique and beautiful and a staple in many kitchens. The birds are awe inspiring. Within days, all of this is at risk. But, I know that our Heavenly Father who is over all things is a God of miracles and if this area ever needed a miracle, it surely does now. If you could, please pray that the oil pouring into the gulf will cease and that those cleaning it up will be inspired and protected and successful. I believe that these prayers can and will be answered. It will take time, but hopefully, if the oil can be contained, we can begin cleaning our beaches back up.
And, if anyone out there has a way to move us off of oil and onto something a little less dangerous and dirty, I would most greatly appreciate your sharing it with the rest of us!

Please pray for our coastline!
***The colors of the water and sand aren't even photoshopped!!!***

Friday, April 23, 2010

Root Beer Rag

***This is more of a scrapbook post, and not super interesting and lacking any photos of my sweet baby. The grammar is definitely wonky as well. If you keep reading and decide "wow, this is boring (and poorly written)," please remember you were warned!***

In Pensacola, there is a place that is like no other. The walls are covered in money, its tradition to kiss the moose, and the food and service are impeccable. If you live nearby, you have surely heard of it and probably eaten there. Of course, I am talking about McGuire's Irish Pub.
Last night, my parents insisted that husband and I take a night off from adoring our sweet little baby and remember what it is to be a couple. Funny, but in four short months, our lives have turned upside down and I don't know what to do when I am not cleaning up barf kissing chubby cheeks. So, for our night off, Mr Darling treated me to an amazing, fun, and happy experience.
Now, McGuire's specialities are "Feasting, Imbibery, and Debauchery", but Mr Darling and I limited our experiences to Feasting. And Imbibing, if you count their home brewed root beer. Being totally honest, it rivals Brick Oven. And it is served in a chilled, glass mug. We felt so irish...

We also tried the Irish Boxtys. According to the McGuire's menu:
"Boxty on the griddle, Boxy in the pan; If you can't make Boxty, you'll never get a man."
Basically, they are breaded, fried balls of cheesy mashed potatoes. And they are darn good.
There was the obligatory bagpiper. He played a few songs. Luckily, he didn't play the whole time. It was hard to hear anything with the very very loud music. But it was definitely fun to hear!
Then, of course, the highlight of the trip was the steak. So so yummy! It is the best steak in the entire world. And it was fun to be able to actually enjoy it.

I love my little baby, but it was really nice to take a quiet moment with my husband and enjoy the ambience of the local irish pub. Dollar bills hanging from the ceiling and all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beach Baby

Today, we packed up all of the baby paraphernalia and headed to the famous white sand beaches of Pensacola Florida. It was Abby's first real trip out to the beach and the first thing she did was fill her fist and then her mouth with sand. After realizing that sand is not food, she decided to practice sitting and rocking. It was cute to watch her sit all by herself!

For the very first time, she got to put her feet in the water. It was cold! She was surprised, and not pleasantly so.
Her proud papa gave her a ride into the water and saved her from having to get her toes cold again.

For the most part, though, we realized that babies and sand are not a great combination. Abigail managed to get herself absolutely COVERED in powdery white sand. Under her neck, in her diaper, and sprinkled through her (gloriously long) eyelashes, the little crystals were everywhere.

Then we sat on the beach and watched the fishing boats cruise up and down the coast.
And, of course, the now favorite 'whee' flying game. 
We finished up our trip to the beach with a stop at Flounders, a famous fish house on the sound side of Pensacola Beach. We split the Mahi Mahi and mashed potatoes. It was a fun meal with great atmosphere. Best of all, the dessert was fantabulous!

The rest of the day was just as fun. A great dinner with my Mom and Dad at their new favorite steak house. Then, a walk through a very empty mall and a nice movie night at home. Abby spent most of the movie grabbing at her new favorite toy keys from her Grandma. It is so fun to watch her learn new things and have new experiences. She probably won't remember this trip, but I will. And tomorrow is a new opportunity to teach her new things!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm Blue (Da da dee da da da)

Perhaps you already know that Pensacola is the home of the Blue Angels, the Navy's show group of F-18s. What you may not know is that Pensacola is also the home of one of the oldest lighthouses in the United States. When you combine the Blue Angels and a 180 foot tall lighthouse, here is what you get.
On Tuesday morning, we dropped our baby off with her very first non-family babysitter (thank you, Miss Bonnie!!), and headed out to the Pensacola Naval Air Station. I had reserved a spot for Mr. Darling, My fantastic father and myself to climb all 177 steps of the Pensacola lighthouse and watch the Blue Angels practice at our eye level.
In case you were wondering, 177 steps inside a lighthouse is A LOT of stairs to climb. As in "whoa am I out of shape" a lot. The tour guide said the lighthouse keepers used to have to climb the stairs every two hours with 45 lbs of kerosene to keep the lamp lit. That is NOT a job I plan to sign up for.
The view from the top makes it all worth it. The trees look so different from the top. And we could see about 27 miles away.
 Best of all, we could see the Blue Angels up close. Like, really really close.
After an hour of trick maneuvers, rolls, dives, fleur de lis with 4, 5, and 6 airplanes, the Blues landed back on the runway and we made our way down the lighthouse stairs. Then, of course, we took a few more pictures of the historic landmark and myself, and our photographer:

We headed over to the Naval Air Museum to see what was new. While wandering through, my dad came across a helicopter he had actually flown. As in the very same one, not just the same kind. It was pretty cool to see him talk to my dear husband about it.
It is really fun to go through the museum and see all of the cool airplanes that have fought and protected our great country. All of the war exhibits, the historical exhibits, and just plane cool exhibits (haha, aren't I punny?) It was a really fun day with my husband and dad and I am once again grateful for digital cameras.
So, thanks, Dad, once again. We had a great time. We love your stories about the airplanes and the knowledge you share about the military and about life in general. And, I think I might even like lighthouses, stairs and all.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Into The Sunset

When we arrived in Florida, even the sun seemed happy. The grandparents greeted us at the airport, scooping up their darling granddaughter and showering her with affection. It seemed that the happy little girl even inspired the sun to put on a spectacular show!

For our first evening here in my hometown, we were blessed to have my entire family under the same roof. This happens fairly rarely, especially now that two of us aren't able to fly freely throughout the US. So, to mark the occasion, we took a quick trip to Pensacola Beach to take a few family photos. The only issue was that the photographer couldn't be in them. But he did such a good job! (thank you, sweet husband!)

Her auntie and uncle seemed so happy to see our little Abigail, each wanting their turn holding and playing with her. It was fun to watch them play with her and try and get her smiles and giggles out. She is so fun when she is happy, and when she is the center of attention, she is positively radiant! And look at Ariel! She just glows! (I am accepting applications for her future boyfriends. Please follow this link to download the application)

Abby loves to play with her Auntie Ariel and to play the 'weee!' game with her Uncle Sean. And she loves to bounce on her grandfather's shoulders. I think these are the moments that matter.
Tonight, while looking through our photo albums, I feel just so grateful. I am grateful to be raised by wonderful parents. And I am grateful for digital photography. And blogs. I know it sounds weird, but I love to be able to 'journal' and 'scrapbook' at the same time. I like being able to mark down my memories while they are fresh so that when I go back and look, I can remember. I like my memories and the wonderful people who participate in them. And I like this memory. My whole family is happy in these pictures and it wasn't just for show. A sweet little baby joined the six of us and has lit up my whole world with her smile. These are the times worth remembering.

I can see why the sun saw fit to plan a party just for us.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Four Poems

In honor of my baby's four month birthday, I would like to contribute four poems, odes if you will, to my growing collection of Abby-centered writing. So, to begin...

A Limerick

There once was a baby named Abby,
About whom nothing is shabby,
She laughs at her dad,
She rarely is sad,
But when she gets tired, she gets crabby.

A Haiku

Small, sweet baby girl,
Growing up so very fast,
Make this moment last.

A Rhyme

Her lips are pink,
Her eyes are blue,
She sat in the sink,
Until up she grew.
A Ballad

Oh, the baby girl is growing.
And learning so much every day,
She now can sit, she now can laugh,
She is cheerful in every single way,
She is cheerful in every way.

So, perhaps I won't win any awards for my poetry, but I do love this little girl. Today she hit all of her markers at 60 percent, height, weight and head size. She weighs 13 pounds and 13 ounces on this, the 13th of April. Happy four month birthday, sweet girl!
All pictures on this post were done by Angie of A-M Photography. She does a fantastic job and comes highly recommended. You can see more of Angie's work here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

This week, our little Abigail has a fun visitor intent on spoiling her absolutely rotten. Her Granny drove all the way up from Arizona to shower her with hugs, kisses, and adoration. 
On her first evening here, we walked with Uncle Casey over to J Dawgs just south of BYU.
Once there, Casey and Cherri sampled the gourmet fare served at that high class establishment for the first time. I know, I am nothing if not a fantastic hostess, right? Serving my guests hot dogs after a 10 hour drive sounds like torture. Luckily, they are really good hot dogs! Mr Darling and I, being seasoned veterans, enjoyed the delectable special sauce on the classic beef dawgs.
The hot dogs passed muster, and produced smiles from the newbies. Even from Abby. Ok, perhaps she wasn't as thrilled with the hot dogs as with the shiny tinfoil wrappers.
Then, for another meal, I grilled up some steak tips and peppers and served them with a FANTASTIC fresh pineapple brought all the way from Arizona.

After dinner, we went for a walk in the warmth of spring and Abby got to play with her aunties and uncles. She doesn't know it yet, but she was also playing with her new little cousin!!!
All this excitement and we still have four more days! Yay for visitors! Now, if we can only get Abby to share the remote...