Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dawn's Early Light - Memorial Day 2012

I’d imagine that it was sometime in the middle of August 2008.  It was the welcomed lull between spending a summer studying at Georgetown University and beginning my last semester of college at Oklahoma Christian University where I would graduate with honors with a B.B.A. in Marketing. My parents, I’m sure, were feeling rather proud.  I, having just celebrated my 21st birthday and preparing for a highly anticipated collegiate graduation, was feeling “old” and accomplished.  

On this particular afternoon, my family and I were scattered around the living room eating dinner and watching some type of sporting event – too early for football and way too soon for Olympics, so I’d imagine it was a NASCAR race.  As is typically the case, a young girl took the microphone before the famous “start your engines” call.  The crowd stood.  Hats were removed.  Hands were lifted to hearts.  And everyone at home watched, holding our breath to see if she could hit the high notes of The National Anthem.  I honestly can’t remember if she did, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say probably so. 

At the end of the song, I casually mentioned aloud “I still have never figured out what donzerly light is.” My comment was met with blank stares.  Instead of picking up on any nonverbal cues from those in the room to quit talking and act like nothing was ever said, I continued on. “I mean, donzerly light sounds so cool.  So powerful and bright. Like fireworks, maybe? I think I’m going to start using donzerly as an adjective for everything.  It’s an entirely under-used and under-appreciated word.”

My mother slowly whispered in her are you serious right now - please say you are kidding voice, “Emma. It’s. Dawn’s. Early. Like Dawn. Early in the morning. Dawn’s. Early. Light.”

I’m certain that my rosy red cheeks and muffled “OOOOooooooohhhhhhhh…….” were a dead give away that I was, in fact, being serious. And in that moment I felt more like Jessica Simpson than I ever had in my entire life (“I mean, is this chicken or is this fish?”). It was a particularly humbling experience.

A quick google search just taught me two important things about Francis Scott Key, the author of The National Anthem.  Number One.  He was a man. I always thought he was a woman.  Number Two.  He was from Georgetown, the city that I had been living in just before I butchered his lyrics. Full Circle Moment.

I have always been really bad at understanding song lyrics.  I blame it on my parents for not exposing me to more rap music as a toddler. But the purpose of the anthem? The point of the Pledge? The meaning of the memorials? The celebrations behind the holidays? Now that I understand.

I understand it because I grew up hearing Pa tell me all about his time as a paratrooper in Japan during World War II.  Pa is no longer with us, but on Monday – a Day of Memorials – my parents and I celebrated him by visiting his brick at our county’s Wall of Honor tribute to all veterans. 

And just a few bricks away from his name? The name of my Great Uncle. My Granny's brother. The one who served and never came home. 

My family’s roots have bred in me a deep American pride.  I am in love with our country and am forever grateful for the ones who protect it. Every single day, someone is fighting for me. Someone is protecting me. Someone is making this world a better place for me. And for you. And for our children. For our present.  And for our futures.

Early in January, a friend and I went to a Welcome Home ceremony at Fort Campbell.  I have always recognized the sacrifice of our soldiers, but on that day my eyes were opened even more to the sacrifices at home. The children. The wives. The husbands. The fathers. The mothers. The friends.  All of the people who support and love our soldiers from far away.  Their sacrifice is great. 

When I was little, my Granny would sneak into the closet of the front bedroom and pull out Pa’s war memorabilia when he wasn’t around. She never knew if he would like to talk about it, so she hid it from him most of the time. But she loved talking about it. Not the war. She loved talking about the wait. The homecoming. The marriage. The life built on a foundation of loyalty and American pride.  She would show me the tiniest little photos that Pa had sent her from Japan. She would recall the letters that he had written to her. I would always respond with giggles and a squeal of “Granny and Pa were boyfriend and girlfriend? Ew!!!” (Because, of course, I thought that cooties were real). But Granny’s sacrifice is a familiar one to many.  The sacrifice of the time. Of the wait. Of the worrying and the wondering and the praying and the flags in the yards and the yellow ribbons around the oak trees.

So at the end of our Memorial Day, after the classic American grilled meal and fancy family picnic,

And after putting together a Care Package for a local Marine serving overseas, Mom and I visited our Granny memorial.  

It’s new and unfinished and still needs more flowers and a sweet little bench and an engraved stone somewhere that reads “Granny’s Garden”, but its right there on our farm. Our Granny memorial. A place to be grateful. A place to rest. A place to remember.

Thank God for the people who fight. Thank God for the people who wait. And thank God for those who remember.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wired: A Sleep Study

Tonight I am happy to sit on my couch, watch my tv, use my shower, and crawl into my bed.  Because two nights ago while I was watching tv and getting into bed, I was looking something like this:

By the way, this is in the running for my worst picture of all time.  I will now go hide under a rock to shield myself from the embarrassment of actually posting this picture for the entire blogosphere to view.

On Monday I spent the night at The Center for Sleep.  Because I continually act out my dreams (once resulting in a broken arm), I had to see what was up.  I mean, we all know that my mind works in crazy ways, but now it is medically official. 

So I strolled into the sleep center at 8pm and they set me up in a study room, which is basically just a hotel room. Bed. TV. Shower. Cheap shampoo.  Oh, and a camera and speakers over the bed.

Camera over my bed.  TV tuned to The Bachelorette.

So the tech comes in and starts hooking me up to a million different wires. Okay, not a million.  But 27.
Case Study:  Room 10

The wires connected to my legs, chest, hands, head, and face.  He had to stick the sensors to my head, which resulted in an elmer’s glue type of substance all over my hair.  Not only was it all in my hair, but this same glue, combined with the medical tape to secure the sensors, left really cute red splotchy places on my face.  Awesome.

Another flattering photo

While the doctor was trying to connect everything, I was just trying to watch Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelorette on the tiny tv hanging in the corner of the room.  “You know these kinds of shows aren’t real, don’t you?” “Do you truly believe that she can find love this way?” “Would you ever consider being on a show like this?” “Why has society become fascinated with reality tv instead of fantasy?” Oh. My. Gosh.  Clearly this man does not have a wife or a daughter at home.  Don’t ever come between a girl and her Monday night ABC reality shows. I’m already letting you put sensors in my hair, the least you can do is not talk during the rose ceremony. That’s something to lose sleep over. I resigned to watch the replays on my laptop the next day and went to bed.  He plugged me into the wall and then went to his control room to calibrate my machine. We talked through the speaker over my bed, which - looking back - is kind of creepy.  “Close your left eye.  Now your right eye. Move your chin like you are chewing an apple. Flex your left foot.  Now your right.” This went on for a while, and then finally he said “Sleep well.  Even if you fail the test, you pass. Good luck.”  I have a habit of not thinking about potentially scary or awkward things beforehand to avoid getting worked up over it.  Sky diving? I didn’t think about it until after I jumped.  Sleep with someone watching me? I’m thinking about it right now. And it is a little bit creepy.  But it wasn’t bad at the time.  I actually slept pretty well.  I fell asleep fast and only woke up once when the doctor came in to reattach a sensor to my head that had gotten knocked off.  I’m assuming that I moved around a lot less than normal since I was practically tied down with all of the wires.  And I didn’t sleep walk, which we knew wasn’t likely in a controlled environment.  However, they can still formulate a diagnosis based on muscle movement  and brain activity.  Before I knew it, it was 5:30 and I was being woken up to discuss my results.  My doctor showed me some confusing charts and told me two things. 

Confusing Chart

The first is unrelated to my dream issue but creeps me out.  “You know that you grind your teeth in your sleep, don’t you? A lot.  Very loudly.  We heard you grinding over the speakers all night.” Ew! I don’t even know how to grind my teeth in the waking hours.  It creeps me out and I literally can’t force myself to do it.  I do happen to know that my dentist’s wife and my dental hygienist both read my blog.  Consider this my cry for help.  Fix me!

The second piece of news was what I needed to know.  I have a Non-REM Parasomnia.  Basically, my brain wave activity was off the charts during Non-REM sleep and my brain cannot filter what I should and should not be doing.  I was prescribed a light dose of a medication to calm down my central nervous system only during sleep. I haven’t tried it yet.  I decided to wait for the long weekend and a non-work night to try it. 

So there you have it.  I have a hyperactive brain while sleeping.  I’m assuming that this means that I am really, really smart. At least that’s what I’ve been telling people.

In other news, I went to the hospital last week.  Intentionally this time!  I became a weekly Child-Life volunteer at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital last fall, but with the broken arm, splints, and casts, I couldn't follow proper hospital hand washing procedures or lifting requirements.  But I am finally back and thrilled to have the highlight of my week back in my life!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Big Fan

When it comes to relationships, it is a common Biblical reference that "a chord of three strands is not easily broken".  When it comes to the relationships in my life, I’d repel down the side of a skyscraper with those strands.  (I recently watched the Amazing Race finale and now really, really want to repel off of a building…)  I have the kind of family that is always present, always active, and always my biggest supporters.  Growing up, I had a fan club at every basketball game, every graduation, every birthday, every recital (I admittedly had very few of those – I missed the musical gene), every single milestone.

Me and Mom - Mother's Day 2012.  She rivals my dad for title of 'Emily’s Biggest Fan'. 

While I still have that overwhelming support for everything that I choose to do, I no longer really have very many activities that they can actually attend. I mean, my clients might think it’s weird if I have a group of people sitting outside of the conference room waiting for my presentation to finish. But there are so many children in my life that I love the chance to be a big fan for someone else.

Fans change things.  Homemade t-shirts and cheering a little too loudly can turn shy smiles and hiding behind daddy’s leg into lap sitting and a new best friend.

She is my hero.  As the only girl on her team, she rocked a red helmet, pink undershirt, and a pink Barbie bat. And she hit that t-ball on her first try every time.  I’m in love.

This little guy is a bit older than his sister, so he acted embarrassed when he saw my shirt and heard our yelling.  But when he was preparing to hit and on base he kept checking out of the corner of his eye to make sure that we were still watching and still cheering.  We were.

As a thank you, he later taught my sister, Allison, and I to dance. Well, he tried to teach us.  This guy is seriously one of the best dancers I have ever known.  He has the beat in his soul.  Pretty sure he doesn’t get that from our side of the family!

And when your biggest fans see your homerun? You’ll remember it and talk about it for days.

An Awesome Home Run Hitter

And who wants to graduate from preschool without an audience? I promise that this guy had the biggest group of fans in the building.

This weekend we celebrated my nephew’s third birthday.  He knows that I love him because I tell him all the time.  And he knows that he loves me, too, because I tell him all the time.  “Aunt Em loves you.  You love Aunt Em.  Aunt Em thinks you are incredible.  Aunt Em knows you are special.  Aunt Em is pretty.”  Call it encouragement.  Call it confidence building.  Call it brainwashing.  Either way, I love him and he knows it!

 Three Years Old!

 My adorable birthday guy!

 This little guy made me an aunt for the first time. He will always have my heart.

My sweet sis.

And when you grow up, you realize what it means for your friends to be like family to you.  Ever had one of those moments where out of the blue you start rolling in phone calls and texts and emails and visits from all of your best friends at once? Recently all three of my best girlfriends from college called/texted me on the same day.

One to check on my sprained, broken arm which is now way better than before.

One to facetime with me so that I could meet her sweet baby girl all the way in Dallas, Texas.

I love her already... and her hair!

And one to talk about a huge milestone. Remember that wedding that I went to in Hawaii a few months ago?  A guy named Rhein Gipson married one of my best friends. He is an Aussie golfer on a mini tour in America.  And last weekend he went out for a round of golf with his buddies and came home with the lowest score ever recorded in the history of the game – a 55, 16 under par.  I guess that literally makes him the best golfer in history of the world. Well, he is in my book! Congratulations, Rhein!

So whether it is a tball game, a 3rd birthday, a preschool graduation, a piano recital, a new baby, or a professional achievement, go be someone’s biggest fan!

Special thanks to Melissa Lester for mentioning me in her recent blog post about the Ladies Day that she did at my mom’s church!

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Catching a Break

I’d be lying if I said that I can’t seem to catch a break. Because clearly I can.  I caught one in my arm 10 weeks ago.  And last Wednesday, after a few weeks of therapy, I was finally given the approval to begin doing everyday activities without my splint. I now only wear it while driving or sleeping.  So this morning when I rolled out of bed at 11am and casually slipped on my flip flops and stepped onto my concrete patio to check on my roses, it would have been nice to know that it had rained during my twelve hour slumber.  Instead, I found out the hard way.  The very hard way.  My feet slid straight out from under me on the slick concrete and I fell flat on my back – catching the weight of my body with only one thing– my splint-free left arm.  Yep. One step forward, ten steps back.  The swelling was almost as instant as the hysterical tears. I cried, a lot.  Partly because of the intense pain, and partly because I did not want to go through all of that again. Surgery. Pain. Helplessness. The more I recounted the last two months, the more I cried, certain that I had re-broken my arm. The pain, the swelling, the shakiness – all overwhelming. And you know what makes me so mad? I never fall. I think the last time I fell was 6 years ago during an ice storm in Oklahoma City. And, of course, on Day 4 without my splint on I totally wiped out.

Before I even managed to get up, I knew I had to go to the ER. I called my friend Ashley, still crying hysterically. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: (crying hysterically) Where are you?
Ashley: Leaving Walmart. What’s wrong? Are you okay? Emily… what’s going on?
Me: Do you have groceries in your trunk?
Ashley: Um, yes???? What’s wrong? Talk to me.
Me: I’ll call you later.

And then I hung up. I thought, “I’m fine. I’ll drive myself. She has groceries.” Obviously I wasn’t thinking very clearly. Duh. I would drop anything for her and I was worried about her orange juice?? She wasn’t settling for that either. She called me back, assuring me that the groceries in her trunk were not nearly as important as me. I explained what had happened and she came to take me to the ER.  On our way to the hospital she explained that when I hung up on her she had created an entire scenario in her head that I had been kidnapped and had to hang up the phone because my kidnapper was coming back into the room and I had to hang up really fast to avoid getting caught. Okay. That must have been a full 30 seconds of mental torture, Ash. I promise to never hang up on you again! But if I am ever kidnapped, I know who to call!

Anyways, I have seen the inside of a hospital a few too many times recently.  They took x-rays of my arm and were surprised when I knew exactly how to place my arm in various positions for the xrays without being prompted.  Not exactly what I want to be a pro at.  

 An ER Pro

After plenty of waiting around, the doctor broke the news.  Everything looked normal! My poor arm had experienced more trauma and is now sprained, but the plate and screws are still where they are supposed to be and there are no new breaks! So I am back in pain, back in a splint, and now intimately familiar with homemade, leaky Ziploc ice packs. But I am sooooo thankful to be sprained and not broken. 

And I’m thankful for Ashley taking care of me! She’s the best kind of friend in emergencies – she’s calm, takes care of business, and from Chicago.  Girlfriend can drive you somewhere in a hurry!

And I feel bad for my poor mother who met me at the ER.  When I called to tell her I had fallen, she cried just as much as I did.  She didn’t want to relive the past two months either!

As a side note - I have been in this ER several times before - once because the counter at Which Wich fell on my foot. Yep, I get weird injuries!

But to make the day a little brighter, my mom and I got to keep my nephews at my condo for a few hours tonight.

If you are looking for a comfortable way to watch tv, try this...

Or this...

Or this...

Or this...

Or this...

Or this...

And then, of course, there is always the classic way to watch tv...

Apparently watching Kipper has become a sport. These little guys have more energy than I do for sure!  At one point this evening my mom finally said, “Boys, Aunt Em has lots of things in her condo that aren’t meant to be touched.” It’s true. I found out tonight that when I have children some day I will have to do a complete overhaul of my furniture and d├ęcor. But these little boys made my day.  They always do!

 He drew me a zebra to make me feel better!

And on this fine Cinco de Mayo I am skipping the chips and salsa and getting in bed early - leaky ice pack in tow - surrounded by my top three favorite movies of all time and all seven seasons of my favorite tv show.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Hitch, The Blind Side, and Gilmore Girls

And in other news, my roses are just fine. But I won’t be visiting them again any time soon.

Raindrops on Roses = a favorite thing. Raindrops on concrete = not a favorite thing.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dreams and DC

In Need of Therapy

So I know you are wondering, how is that arm of mine? Oh, just delightful.  It has been nine weeks since the break and surgery. I still wear my splint most of the time, but I started some much-needed Occupational Therapy a couple of weeks ago to get back my mobility. And how do they do that? Well, let me just tell you. They use a grain bin. I mean, I think it is called a Fluido machine, but I just call it the grain bin because it is a plastic container full of cornmeal that gets heated and blown around. The corn meal helps break up the scar tissue and the heat helps loosen the tendons.

The Grain Bin

And do I still act out my dreams? Yes. Actually it has happened more than normal lately. This morning I woke up with completely different pajamas on than when I went to bed last night. And the night before that I thought that there were people in my condo (not in a creepy way, but in a why did my clients not get a hotel room kind of way). So while I was really seeing piles of laundry in the floor, I thought I was seeing bodies of people sleeping. Embarrassed that I was in my pajamas with my clients around, I quietly jumped over the “people” and tiptoed into the bathroom to put on my robe.  I have no idea what happened after that, but I remembered that much of it the next morning when I woke up with my robe on. And of course I did it on a business trip in DC, too. One time I woke up standing at the hotel room door on my tippy-toes with one eye pressed up to the peep-hole and my hand on the door latch, trying to figure out how to unlock it so that I could get out. And these are just the things that I happen to remember. Who knows what else goes on! Yes, I am going to a sleep clinic for some sleep therapy/analysis soon. Yes, I know that I am crazy.

Speaking of laundry, my washing machine was broken for a while. I have a front loader that wouldn’t drain, but my sweet daddy fixed it for me. The culprit? The Purex 3-in-1 sheets (made to go from washer to dryer) were getting sucked under the washing bin and clogging the drain pipe. They are technically approved for front loaders, but they are not Emily Approved.  Do yourself a favor and stick with the classics – liquid detergent!

Washington D.C.

Last week I spent a few days in DC for work. I was so grateful to have a couple of hours one day to visit some old friends. You know, old friends like




and Martin Luther King, Jr.

I also took some time to just go and sit at my favorite place in all of DC – The World War II Memorial.  

During college, I did a summer program at Georgetown University called The Fund for American Studies – Institute for Business and Governmental Affairs.  I took classes at night and did an internship with a natural gas company’s political action committee during the day. It was, by far, one of my favorite summers ever. I got to spend that summer with real old friends.

The Fund For American Studies: Institute for Business and Governmental Affairs, Class of 2008
(I am on the bottom left.)

I loved that summer of exploring DC’s monuments, frequenting Smithsonians, navigating the subway system, reporting on Congressional hearings, kayaking the Potomac, and cheering on the GOP at the Congressional softball game. It was good to be back in DC last week, even if it was just for a few days!

Ladies Day

On Saturday mom hosted a Ladies Day at her church with guest speaker, Melissa Lester, who you probably know from her blog at She was so sweet to indulge me in all of my blogging and writing questions (a few dreams of mine)! We had the best time at Ladies Day and then picked strawberries at the local strawberry patch. 

Even with one hand, I got two gallons to put up in the freezer for this winter (and for summertime smoothies).

And yes, on Saturday we saw Turkey Bill walking around our property. Okay, okay. It may have been Turkey Bella. We can’t really tell them apart.

I'm loving this warm May weather.  Plus, I just got a notice that the pool at my condo is open for the summer season! It is going to be a good, good weekend!