Monday, November 28, 2011

The Best Thanksgiving

Nothing looks like Memorial Day, smells like 4th of July, or tastes like Valentine's Day. But Thanksgiving? It's special. It's more than just a title of a day. It's an event. A celebration. A purpose. A style. A flavor. A smell. A candle called "Fourth of July"? That's just confusing. But "Thanksgiving"? You know exactly what to expect. Thanksgiving is its own tidy little cornucopia of family and food and traditions and laughter and memories all bundled together. Everyone's traditions and meals, although varied, at the heart are very much the same. And everyone thinks that their Thanksgiving is "the best". I can't count how many times the words "the best" were used at our Thanksgiving. Our Turkey is surely the best. Our sweet potatoes. Our homemade bread. Our pies. Our centerpieces. Our placecards. Our kids. Even our weather. Better than who? I'm not sure. Everyone I guess. It's the best because it is ours.

It is our children playing in the puddle.

It is our gocart that gets everyone muddy.

It is our Granny's recipes that we try to perfect.

It is our parents and sisters and brothers and cousins and nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles that we just can't get enough of.

Holidays follow us where ever we are.  Sometimes we celebrate on the wrong day or in a different way, but holidays are what we make them. So even though I had to go back to work on Friday, I went back home to my parent's house for the rest of the weekend because I needed it to feel like Thanksgiving. I needed to put up our family Christmas tree. 

I needed to watch football on the couch. I needed to eat turkey sandwiches and take naps. I needed to go to Walmart on Black Friday. I needed to go for a walk with mom on the Greenway. 

I needed to play Phase 10 and have dinner with friends. I needed to watch cheesy Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies.

Thanksgiving is a special one. One of the best. Even though I called it Halloween... twice.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Real Life

On Wednesday night I went with 9 friends to see a pal in Ragtime The Musical.  (Yes, it actually is significant to me that I went with 9 friends. We got a group rate. Boo ya.) It was a great play. Lots of dancing. Lots of singing. Lots of thinking. A little dozing. Yes, I totally fell asleep. Hey, it was a long play. It lasted from 8-11 on a Wednesday night! During the third hour I decided that I would close my eyes just for a second, but I would not fall asleep. Ha. Yeah right. Because that ever works. Before I know it, Real Life was blending together with nonsense and craziness. In Emily World all I could see (with my eyes closed) was a giant slice of blueberry cake. While I was drizzling the icing on top, I was listening to a huge commotion of the main character, Coalhouse, being shot.  At the sound of the gun, I opened my eyes and realized that they didn’t have any blueberry cake at the crime scene. I asked the girl beside me if they talked about cake in the play. She said, “I don’t know because I dozed off too, but considering there was a murder, I doubt they baked a cake.” Apparently I need a curfew. No, really. 

Disclaimer: I will feel terrible if someone in the play reads this and finds out that I dozed off. I’m sorry! It really was a great play, I promise. It’s not you, it’s me. Also, I don’t like cake.

Bright Lights, Big City
You know that feeling when you go to work and after a few hours you look down and realize that you have had your shirt on backwards all day long? Or when you get out of your car and realize that the gum you tossed out your window 30 miles ago is now a small, hard blob of goo on your door handle? Self.  Destruction. Kind of the same feeling you get when you realize those blue lights in the rearview mirror are for you. I was driving home from the play, refreshed from my cat-nap, minding my own business, and in no hurry when I look up to see blue lights in my rear view mirror. I move over a little so that he can pass me, but he pulls over too. Great. I panic, hoping that my eyes aren’t red because of my nap with contacts in. Look in mirror. Clear eyes. Check. I question whether or not I got my tags renewed. Wait, I did that in August because I remember seeing a car on fire at the testing station. Check. At this point I assume that I must have a taillight out or something minor like that.  I roll down my window and stare blankly at the young, dashing man hoping that he doesn’t give me the line “Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?” Because for one thing I hate being called ma’am. And for another because I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know why – afraid of appearing like the Barbie that says “No officer” in a sweet, high-pitched voice trying to charm him into letting me go ticket-free. I really didn’t know why he pulled me over. So I just stared blankly at him, making a mental note to keep my mouth closed even though he was jaw-droppingly handsome. He said, “Hey. How are ya? Listen, this is really no big deal, but a couple of miles ago you made a turn at a stop sign without stopping for a complete 3 seconds. It’s really no big deal. Don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal.” He checked my license and told me to have a great night. “Just be sure to stop for three full seconds. But it’s really not a big deal.” I said thank you to him and a secret thank you to myself for being under the speed limit considering that I have no idea what the speed limit is on that road. And then I considered flirting. But I’m sure that cops are not accustomed to flirting after letting people get out of tickets. So instead I quit while I was ahead and made a mental note to remember his name and ask my Cop Friend about him. I drove away, using my blinker to reenter the roadway, and then realized that I had already forgotten his name. Next time I will use a pneumonic device. Scottie the Hottie. Eric’s not barbaric. Tate I could never hate. Although I’m hoping that there is no next time.

I must admit, this wasn’t my first rodeo. I’ve gotten pulled over once before. When I was a nanny in NY I got pulled over right in front of our house. The officer said, “Where are you headed?” “Home.” “Where is home?” “Here.” “Here like East Hampton?” “No. I mean, yes. But ‘here’ as in this yard. This house. This drive way.” I was by myself, but I just knew that my little boys were in the living room watching the commotion. My mistake? Talking on my cell phone while driving. But see, I have a TN license. And in TN it isn’t against the law to talk and drive. So he asked me if I knew about the law in NY about not talking on the phone while driving and I, appearing like the Barbie that says “No officer” in a sweet, high-pitched voice trying to charm him into letting me go ticket-free, acted like I was hearing it for the first time. It worked. And he let me go with a warning. I thanked him and silently vowed to donate $100 to orphans or widows to make up for my ‘act of innocence’ as I like to call it.  And then I pulled forward about 5 feet to turn into our drive way, blinker and all. I walked in just waiting for the other nanny and the kids to make fun of me. Much to my surprise, they missed it all. I kept my mouth shut. Until just now.

Tonight I went to see Footloose with mom. I had just quit dancing from my Hairspray experience, and Julianne Hough got me tapping my feet once again. It was cute. Not a See-It-In-The-Theater-5-Times kind of cute, but a Potential-Redbox-It-Again type of cute.

When I left, I realized that my car just had a major moment. I would tell you my car’s name, but I forgot it a few years ago. I am such a bad mother. Anyways, she had a major milestone. Literally. 100,000 miles. Yay. Here’s to 100,000 more, girl! (The next 100,000 will likely be with someone else, but I haven't had the heart to tell her that yet.)

The Other Stuff
Other than the whole Ragtime nap, 2.5 second stop, and 100,000 stuff going on, here are some other random things that have been going on:

One of my friends was putting my number in his phone but had a dilemma when he already had someone in his phone with my first and last name. I said, “No problem, just put my middle name in.” I told him my full name, and he thought I was kidding. His friend has the exact same name. First. Middle. Last. Bizarre.

I went to a baby shower today for a friend expecting triplet boys. Triplets. 1. 2. 3. If you need a sign that God is always faithful, I can give you three.

One night my fire alarm started chirping so I tried to change the battery. I couldn’t pop the cover off so I disconnected the cords and pulled the unit down. I finally got it apart only to find out that there isn’t a battery. I know, right!?!? There isn’t a battery back-up. It is purely electrical. Fortunately, that alarm unit necessary. I had two units installed with my alarm system so it hangs right beside a modern detector with a new-fangled battery backup. I blew the dust off of the sensor and prepared to hang it back up. But when I tried to connect the cords again, I bumped the two wires in the wall together and cut out the power in my entire condo with a nice little spark. Live wires. Think a little harder next time, Emily. And of course the sun sets at 4:30 now so my condo was pitch black. And do I know where I keep flashlights? No. So I wandered around by the light of my cell phone and finally found a flashlight in my laundry closet. The fact that it had working batteries is pretty close to a miracle. So I found my electrical panel and flipped all of the breakers off, reconnected the fire alarm, and went back to flip all of my breakers back on. And… nothing. Darkness. I reset my outlets. I flipped breakers again. I reset more outlets. I flipped more breakers. I wish that there was a grand ending to this story, but there isn’t. It’s really boring. There was a breaker in the middle of my panel that I hadn’t flipped. Voila. Power. As if it wasn’t obvious already, I should mention that my dad was on the phone with me the whole time walking me through it (Duh, I wouldn’t have known to reset outlets on my own). So I wasted an hour of my time trying to change a non-existent battery. Nice.

I just finished watching the entire Gilmore Girls series… again. I feel like I do this about once a year. I have most of the episodes memorized, so I don’t exactly sit and watch them, I just let them play while I get ready or cook or work on crafts. It is absolutely my all-time favorite show. But I do have a new current favorite show. The New Girl. Love Zooey Deschanel right now. She cracks me up. The show comes on Fox on Tuesday nights at 8. Set your DVR. Worth it. Although I don’t have a DVR, so I usually just watch the episodes here.

I unfortunately witnessed a police intervention of a father that was having a horrible temper with his child. That was kind of scary.

I tried to convince a preschooler (in the hospital where I volunteer) that I was a mime that lived in an invisible box. Confused, she reached out her arms and lifted the “box” over my head and said, “I don’t know what box you are talking about, but I just let you out. There. Now you are free.” Verbally, she didn’t acknowledge my box. Physically, she acknowledged my box by moving it. I call that an imaginary success.

I went Miniature Bowling with my little cousins. The Bowling Alley in Franklin has mini lanes for kids that are about half the width and length of a regular lane and the bowling ball is about twice the size of a ski ball. I tried to win. I really did. But the 5 year old won with a score that was at least double my score. Did I mention that there were bumpers? Yep. I stink. I lost too gracefully, as well. He told me that he’d feel better if I acted a little more disappointed about my loss. Noted.

I saw my first electric car charging station at the Kohl’s in Cool Springs. 

The world is moving forward, friends. But as I took a picture of it I thought, “I should be taking pictures of fading trends as well as the new ones.” Some day my grandchildren will want to see a picture of me beside my old car at a gas station back when we had to put gasoline in our cars for them to run. And they will want to see a picture of me with straight hair and side-swoop bangs in skinny jeans and a long baby-doll shirt or in a dress with leggings and ballet flats. And they will want to see a picture of me using Facebook on my laptop or texting on my cell phone. Their jaws will drop when they find out that I didn’t grow up with three-dimensional television. They won’t know what a pay phone is. And they won’t believe me when I tell them that we used to pay extra to call people in a different area code.  They will giggle when I tell them about being in 6th grade and learning about the Internet for the first time. I was trying to write a report on Helen Keller. My sister told me to get more research on the "Internet". She instructed me to plug the phone line into the computer to use it. I was so confused. Who would we call through the computer? I can still hear NetZero now. Er. Er. Bing. Bing. Bing. Bing. Er. Er. Ksssssshhhhhhh. Note to self: Take more pictures asap.

I saw a shooting star on my drive home from work on Thursday. Winning.

Now I am just looking forward to Thanksgiving. Cousin time. Homemade bread. Black Friday Shopping. 1.5 days off of work. Christmas decorating. I'm pumped.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Holiday Day

Church Christmas Brunch

I always put up my Christmas tree after Thanksgiving dinner. I start Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. In my world, ham comes after turkey, garland comes after feathers, and Rudolph comes after pilgrims. But this year I broke my rule. Big time. On Saturday morning I went to a Christmas brunch at church. We had a mug exchange…

 My Stocking Mug Just Waiting for Some Hot Tea

And they also had booths set up from various charities that were selling handmade items to raise money. I bought a cute necklace made by a Burmese refugee through a charity called Eternal Threads.

Just as I was feeling guilty for celebrating Christmas, I hopped on over to a new tradition: Friendsgiving. This year a group of friends (about 30 of us) got together to celebrate Friend Thanksgiving. I smiled every time someone walked through the front door. Each person came in saying something like “Hey guys! I made my mom’s apple pie.” or “I made my grandma’s macaroni and cheese.” or  “I used my great aunt’s green bean recipe.” It occurred to me that this was pretty much the first time that any of us had contributed to a Thanksgiving meal. Our table was a conglomerate of about 30 different family traditions. Nothing original or new. All delicious hand-me-downs.  And even though no one thought to bring napkins, tap water was poured into paper cups from a local pizza place, and the buffet line started right past the five gallon bucket which held our still-thawing frozen turkey, we had a great time starting our own new tradition. And some day, thirty years from now when we are the ones making Thanksgiving for our family with cloth napkins, crystal-ware, cooked turkeys, and nieces that call us late at night for our Famous Whatever-It-Is recipe, I feel like I’ll look back on our first Friendsgiving and smile, thankful for all of the Thanksgivings of practice and traditions that have happened between the two.

So what did I take? Two things. Macaroni and Cheese. I must admit: I have never made good macaroni and cheese. I can never get it creamy. I am also terrible with mashed potatoes, but that is another story. So I made some macaroni from an online recipe (I had called my mom for hers, but it seemed too complicated). I didn’t have everything that the recipe called for, so I made some of it up. Classic Emily Move. It turned out fine. But the second thing was much better: Green Bean Bundles. Correction: Mom’s Famous Green Bean Bundles.

Mom’s Famous Green Bean Bundles
3 cans Del Monte WHOLE Green Beans
1 package Oscar Meyer Center Cut Bacon
1/2 cup brown sugar
Wooden toothpicks

I know, I know. That sounds like a lot. It is. That is enough for a party. I am too scared to try to divide the recipe. I’m just sure I’ll mess it up. So I will tell you how to make Green Bean Bundles For A Bunch.

Here’s the part that is most commonly messed up. SAVE THE GREEN BEAN JUICE FROM THE CAN. I kept telling myself this over and over to do this, but you would be surprised how natural it is to drain a can in the sink. So while I was thinking about it, I put a towel in my sink. Then later when I went to pour the juice down the drain, I questioned the towel in the sink and then remembered to save my juice. It is literally the only thing that stopped me from messing it up.

Save Your Juice!

Anyways, drain your green bean juice into a measuring cup. You will end up needing 2 cups.

Cut each bacon strip in half (so that you will have about 3 inch strips).

Grab about 4-6 beans. Lay them on one end of a piece of bacon. Roll it up. Put a toothpick to hold the bacon in place. Put the bundle into a greased, glass dish.

Once you have finished rolling up your bundles (basically when you run out of bacon), mix your 2 cups of green bean juice with the 1/2 cup of brown sugar. The original recipe calls for 1/2 a cup, but mom  usually puts in a little less than that because that much really just isn’t necessary. Pour the mixture over the bundles.

Bake uncovered for one hour at 375.

The Final Dish

They were actually delicious! (I mean, they are always good when mom makes them, but I was just certain that I would mess them up somehow.) I came home with an empty plate, which is the sign of a good party dish.

(Merry Christmas.) Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hey Mama

Hey Mama, Welcome to the 60s
I have been dancing (in my head) and singing (under my breath) for a full 24 hours now. Why? All because of Leslie. And all because of Hairspray. My uber-talented cousin Leslie was in Lipscomb's Hairspray this weekend. She was phenomenal. And a little bit scary. She played the role of Velma Von Tussle which - if you've seen the movie version - is Michelle Pfeiffer. My girl can belt it out. Leslie, next time you see me will you sign my playbill so that I can hang it on my wall when you are famous? Thanks in advance.

Leslie as "Velma"

I think I would have liked the sixties. Actually, scratch that. I really like ipods, straight hair, and a post-segregation world. Instead, I would really just like to bring sixties dance moves to the Right Now. Who decided it was cool to wave one hand in the air and rock side to side? Not me! Bring back the group dances! The Hustle. The Twist. The Locomotion. The Pony. The Bunny Hop. That's where it’s at!

 Tracy Turnblad

I ran into two of my favorite Little People at the play. We ran through the campus. We danced on the lawn. We climbed the clock tower stairs. We waited in line for the girl's bathroom. Lots of bonding time.

Hey Mama, Welcome to AMAZING
After the play, mom and I stopped by the brand new The Container Store in Green Hills Mall. It was heaven. I am a decently organized person, but not obsessive about it at all. Mom, however, is renowned through the country county for her organization skills. She was psyched.

I thought the store was all hype. Errrrrrrrrrr. (That was my buzzer sound.) I was wrong. They had gadgets and trinkets and whatchamacallits and doodads galore. So much more than containers and closets. Everyone on my Christmas list, you will be getting something from that store. Yes, even you, my sweet two year old nephew. Get excited about your new juice cups. Dad, nifty knife block? Mom, collapsible Tupperware? Ginger, your new snack holder? Yes, I know you are only a dog, but seriously, I think you will appreciate it. Plus, Judy (from the kitchen section) and I totally hit it off. I almost feel like I need to go back to the store since I didn't get a chance to tell her bye. We are total Kitchen Gadget BFFs now. 

Hairspray. Grand Openings. Now that is my kind of Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sky Diving Video

I promised to post my sky diving video, no mater how embarrassing. So here it is. Flappy face and all.

This was one of my five resolutions for the year. To read about my adventure, check out the post The Follow Through.