Sunday, October 30, 2011

Worth Sharing

Last week I went to another Preds game with a few friends. We lost, but that was a minor detail.

 Me and Jill

 Travis and Brent
I just realized that I have two friends named Travis who look a whole lot alike. Weird.

Avett Brothers
On Friday night I was given a last minute ticket to the Avett Brothers concert at Bridgestone. One of my friends is a big Cardinals fan and wanted to watch the World Series (he's glad he did), so I went in his place. As I sat down with 4 of my friends, I thought “I wonder how many of my other friends are here and I just don’t know it.” And then, almost in the same instant, I turned to see one of my favorite friends from high school coming down our row. I've know him since I was three and our big sisters were in kindergarten together. And we went to church together. And school. And he took me to my senior prom.

Senior Prom

He and his fiance had the two seats directly beside me. Small world. And arena apparently. 

Avett Brothers

Although most concerts that I attend typically involve lots of denim and cowboy boots, I had a great time and even wore a pair of skinny jeans to blend in.
A Love Worth Sharing
On Saturday we celebrated my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary. Sixty. Six zero. Ten more than fifty. Well over half of the way to one hundred. Sixty. That’s a lot of years. I asked my grandma if she had any advice on how to be married for that long. She said, “Well, just exist.” Hmm. Okay… I’m going to interpret that as their love for each other is so intertwined in their life that loving is the equivalent of living.

As I was surrounded by my family celebrating the love that made our lives possible, the lyrics to one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs kept playing over and over in my head: “Always remember, there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.” I didn’t mention it out loud. I didn’t want to explain to my grandparents that I went to a folk rock concert. And I didn’t want to explain that the lyrics are part of a song called “Murder in the City” which sounds entirely un-anniversary like. But I thought it. And was thankful to be a part of a love that let us share our name. (Ha. Bet you didn't think that I could tie in the Avett Brothers with a 60th Anniversary brunch, did ya?)

 We celebrated his birthday, too.

 “Aunt Em, you can take my picture, but I will only open one eye for you.”

A Big, Hairy Gorilla
My nephew and I played dress-up with old Halloween costumes after our brunch. I may have had more fun, but it is debatable. Here are a few of our costumes.


Clown and Dalmatian


 Cruella DeVil and Dalmatian

 Pumpkin and Mouse - The Great Pumpkin Lives On!

A 60s Girl
Or maybe I was a 70s Girl. I get the decades confused. Anyways, this was my mom's dress that she wore when she was dating my dad. I'm pretty sure that makes it a very-late 70s dress. She kept it for future dress-up days, I am sure.

 A Puppy Princess. She is just so thrilled to be dressed up.

 A Big Hairy Gorilla.
This one is my favorite. My 4-year old nephew walked up to my dad, handed him a hat, and said “Here. Wear this. Now you will look like a big hairy gorilla.” I can’t stop giggling.

Trunk or Treat
Further fueling my obsession with fall festivals and bonfires, we had a bunch of cousins over to my parent’s house on Saturday for a fall festival.

I, the only adult who dressed up, was a referee.

My little cousin came up to me and said, “Hey! When did you start refereeing?” I was obviously very believable. Or just too old to dress up. After exhausting my football vocabulary with an overuse of “Off sides”, “Out of Bounds” and simply yelling “Penalty”, I resorted to blowing my whistle. At some point during the night every child present asked me for my whistle. Normally I would cave in, but I resisted. Parents, you’re welcome.

My cousin made the cutest treats for our party...

And of course there were Smore's...

Trunk or Treat was new for us (to do as a family) and it might just be a tradition that sticks.

 Mom with her classic "Happy Fall Ya'll" Trunk

My trunk was not very impressive with my black and white streamers, but I matched. Oh well. You can’t win at everything I guess.

Cobwebs and Candy

 I bet you'd never guess, but this trunk belongs to the same cousin who brought the cute snacks. She had electricity and everything. Something to aspire to.

I don't know how I did it, but I somehow failed to get a picture of my sister's trunk which was decorated with black and orange towing straps. Innovative. And last minute.

Fall Colors
You will probably be excited when fall is over so that I will stop writing about just how much a love it. But it deserves at least a few more posts. So scroll on ahead if you are a Fall version of a Scrooge.

When I went to Yellowstone this past summer I was obsessed with the bright yellows and blues and greens that existed naturally and were the most vibrant colors that I had ever seen. And no, the fall colors are not quite that bright, but they are that beautiful. Here are a few of my favorite trees. Yes, I have favorites.

These two are in my parent's back yard:

 Seriously, you couldn't make a tree grow straight up like that if you tried.

These two are at my grandparents' old house:

This one is at my condo:
If I ever move I am taking this tree with me. Not that I own it or anything.

In the words of my mother, "Happy fall, ya'll!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Everybody Knows The Seasons Change

Yesterday I turned on the tv and, much to my surprise, gymnastics had somehow scored the coveted primetime spot in some much needed relief from all of this baseball stuff.  I am just about the farthest thing from being a lean, limber gymnast (although I can do a decent “head sit” - a head stand without raising my legs up in the air), however, I have a fascination (borderline obsession) with watching the Olympic gymnastic routines every four years. The qualifying competitions today reminded me that we are just less than a year away from the next Summer Olympics! I feel like time has flown by in the last few years. It makes me feel old to say that because growing up I would always hear my parents say that “time flies by”. I never believed them. But now? I’m starting to get it. Children grow. Time passes. Seasons change.

I know this because…

A season of gymnastics training will soon lead us to a season of Olympic performances.

A season of daisies and watermelon have led us to a season mums and pumpkins.

A season of swimming in the pool all summer with these two guys to beat the heat has lead to a season of long walks on nature trails admiring the changing leaves.

My Cannon Ball Buddies

A season of blackberry picking has faded into a season of pomegranate eating.

My Favorite Fruit EVER

A season of hanging out on the beach and going parasailing has lead us to a season of hanging out at a farm and getting lost in corn mazes.

Parasailing with Dad, May 2011

Honeysuckle Hill Farm, October 2011

A season of sipping iced tea at the Sonic Drive-In has led to an afternoon eating black bean soup at Panera.  (Well, hello there Dave Haywood. Looks like you had the same idea. Also, sorry to keep calling you “That Other Guy in Lady Antebellum.”)

When you are caught in a season of love and promise and bliss, rest in the hope that this season will surely roll around again and again.  And when you are caught in a season of pain and disaster and fear, remember that seasons always change. Because just as soon as we say we need relief from the heat, the leaves begin to turn. And when we begin to tire of raking leaves, those magical first snowflakes will fall. And when we think that it might never be warm again, the snow turns to rain and wildflowers spring up all around the lawn.  And when we wonder if we will ever stop sneezing, it will be time to pack for a beach vacation. It always comes full circle.

My favorite lyrics in the song “Emily” by Francesca Battistelli is “Emily, you will see some stormy weather - dark and cloudy days of rain.  But Emily, there will be summer laughter, cause everybody knows the seasons change.”

Yes, mom, time does fly. Yes, Francesca, seasons do change. For now I am just relishing in the time and season I am in.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Make It or Break It

The Power of 21
As I sit on the couch eating a bowl of Rice Krispies and grapefruit juice for dinner for the umpteenth night in a row, I wonder if in fact we are not all creatures of habit.  

Dinner… Again. 
(Have I mentioned that I don’t like milk? I grew up putting orange juice in my cereal just like all of the other women in my family, but I have recently advanced to white grapefruit juice. Don’t say ‘Eww’ until you’ve tried it.)

And while some of our habits - like saying “I love you” when we hang up the phone – are best left alone, others – like persistent nail biting - are meant to be broken (thanks to mom’s trick of nail polish and mittens).

While internet scholars vary, the consensus is that a pattern of 21 repetitions make a habit. So here goes. I have a few habits to break, create, and reinstate.  Twenty-one days from now puts me perfectly at Halloween (which has no significance whatsoever, but who doesn’t think it will be fun to celebrate my victories with the one eyed, one horned flying purple people eater?? My point precisely.).

So here are my habit goals:

I used to journal every single day. I started this habit as a teenager when I was a Summer Girl (nanny) in East Hampton. I knew that some day I would want to remember every detail of my experiences there, so I wrote everything down. Everything. Looking back, I don’t really care that I ate a bagel with strawberry cream cheese for breakfast three times in one week. But I do care that I ran into Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick on the streets of Sag Harbor. So even though I have to sort through the bed sheet ironing, umbrella holding, and breakfast pastry eating to get to the real memory gems, I love having a glimpse of myself in the past. 

My favorite journals, though, are the spiritual journals that I have kept over the years. It’s amazing to read back through the thoughts of a 14-year old Emily.  It leads to a realm somewhere between wishing that I was still that smart and realizing all that I’ve learned at the same time. Last year I made a resolution to journal every single day, and for the most part I succeeded.  This year? My Nephew Journal is still full of clean, crisp, empty pages just waiting for me to resolve to pick up my habits once again. That day is today. I pinky promise.

Next time I am searching for a bobby pin, remind me that I have one in the spine of my journal, please.

One of my favorite songs on the radio right now is “I Refuse” by Josh Wilson.  I continually recite this one particular line over and over in my head: “I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself.” It is amazing to me that sometimes I don’t see the signs of what I am called to do until someone close to my heart points it out to me.  I made a resolution earlier this year to find a way to volunteer more regularly in the community.  I googled and searched and asked around for several weeks.  All the while, my cousin kept encouraging me to check out the Child Life department at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Since my time at the Ronald McDonald House helping out families always leaves me wanting to be involved with the children, I knew that this would be a great fit. I filled out an application and the rest is history. I have completed 4 weeks so far and I already know that I am going to love this. As a Child Life Volunteer I spend one evening (two hours) each week at the hospital. The volunteers all rotate between positions, so some nights I will be hosting one of the four playrooms (the sibling playroom or the others divided by age groups: 0-4, 5-11, 13-18). This involves doing crafts, playing board games, free play, etc. Other nights I will be going room-to-room and spending time with the kids who can’t make it to the playroom for various reasons.  Whether this means making bracelets with a child who is in the hospital alone, giving a parent a break to go eat dinner, or discussing Justin Beiber with a teenager on isolation, I am hoping that my two small hours a week that would otherwise be spent in a way that suddenly seems entirely meaningless will change the hospital experience for these children.  Plus I get to wear this awesome blue vest.

It's Legit.

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital is an incredible place. If you have any free time in your week, consider spending a couple of hours with these kids. They are remarkable.

But working with children in a hospital isn’t for everyone. Find something that turns your heart. Those emotions are a God-given direction for you. Do you love cooking? Next time you are whipping up brownies, make a double batch and stop by the firehouse down the street to say thanks. Do you love reading? On your lunch break drop by a school in your community to read to a class. Are you a runner? Teach a young girl to have that same passion for health and fitness. Do your kids draw millions of pictures? Deliver them to the residents of the nursing home in your town. Make it a habit to change your world. You’ll find it is a habit worth having.

Random Habits:
Here are a few more things that I am going to do every day for the next 21 days:
Send a different friend a text just to tell them that I love them.
Find something in my world that is beautiful and capture it in a picture.
Take my vitamins.
Stop going to bed with my hair wet. It's totally irreversible the next morning.

Today begins my 21 Days of Habits. Join me. Make a promise to yourself to finally stop the bad habit, start the new one, or pick back up on a forgotten one. Let me know what you will commit to do for 21 days. We'll have a Halloween party to celebrate.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Putting Pinterest to the Test

I have been doing a lot of Pinterest pinning lately, further fueling my recent obsession of redoing items and making crafts. Well, not all crafts. Fabric scares me and my drawing skills leveled off in third grade. But paint? Glue? Combine? Sure. I’ll give it a try. I have tons of projects on my “To Try” list, but I thought I’d start my Pinterest test with an easy one. And trust me, this is so easy that I am almost embarrassed to blog about it and call it a “craft”. But if I can blog about a mattress, surely I can blog about a centerpiece.

Fall Centerpiece
I found my inspiration for my fall centerpiece from the blog My Heart’s Desire via Pinterest. I don’t normally decorate much for any holiday except Christmas, but this year I thought I’d add a touch of fall to my dining room area table.

I stopped at a yard sale on Saturday and found this vase. $1.

I picked up some popcorn kernels, navy beans, kidney beans, and green split peas at the grocery store. $3.

I rummaged through my closet and found a forsaken candle.  Free.

I ran the vase through the dishwasher to wash off the “yard sale germs” and then started layering. I dumped in navy beans, then kidney beans, then… oops. I was almost full and had only put in two types! Heavy hand. That is a mistake I won’t make again. I had to dump all of the beans out onto my floor, sort them into their corresponding piles, and then start over. I felt like I was in Kindergarten. Resorting those stinkin’ beans took forever.

A Hill of Beans
I started again by layering lightly.  

Then I stuck a candle on top. 

Wow. That was (not) intense.  I’d like to say that it was easy peasy, but that’s just corny.

Final Product
Taa Daa.....

Yes, my table is always set. Recently my friend’s daughter came over for a visit, saw my table, and said “Oh! Are we having a tea party?!” No. No tea party. But here is my secret. I don’t have a lot of cabinets. And most of the ones that I do have are over my head and really hard to keep organized since I am 5’3”ish.
High Cabinets

My table is set out of necessity, but it totally works. Plus I think that my table would just seem so empty without them.

Speaking of Cabinets...
Thinking about painting your cabinets? I often get asked how I painted mine. Well, I didn’t personally paint mine so I can’t tell you how to do it, but if you are looking for some encouragement, just know that I love them painted. Mine started out as a light brown oak judging by the insides.

Previous Color

I would have been terrified to paint them, but the previous owner was much braver than I and painted them with a high gloss black. I must admit that the high gloss shows fingerprints and have to be dusted fairly regularly, but I happen to like them shiny. When I moved in I added the hardware (which was purchased in a ten pack at Target. Nothing fancy.)

Hardware Makes A Huge Difference
Now they are perfect.  

I have just lit a pumpkin candle. Now my kitchen looks and smells like fall. I must toast pumpkin seeds asap.