Thursday, May 30, 2013

The House that Built Me

I've lived in 12 houses over my lifetime. Moving boxes are not as foreign to me as I would like. Every time I walked out of a home for the last time, I'd stand in the doorway and try to soak in the many memories as a final farewell. Some places I look back on with fond memories and other places I look back on with deep, loving memories. The one home that holds the most memories is the place where I spent the most formative years of my life. And as this life journey unfolds in an unpredictable way, I now live about a mile away from it once more.

Our home on Southbridge Rd was where we moved as I headed into 6th grade. We weren't even planning on moving at the time. Out of the blue, a real estate agent contacted my parents and stated that a pastor and his family were relocating to the area, loved our neighborhood, etc... Once the new family toured our not even on the market home and loved it, and we found ourselves with less than 2 months to find a new place to live. And thus began our life on Southbridge.

I made new friends in that house. I entered junior high and then high school there. I learned to drive on the streets of that neighborhood as my parents anxiously stepped on imaginary brakes and my dad grabbed the wheel when a squirrel ran in front of the car and I let go of it to cover my eyes, with both hands. Oops. I'm glad to say that all of us survived, including the squirrel.

I began high school one more time as I transferred to a private school my senior year and became the "new girl" in a student body that had done school together for years. I later met the smarty pants, "athlete of the year" who would become my husband a mere 16 years later. We hung out in that home where we'd watch movies or he'd type my research papers while I read the handwritten draft aloud to him because he was the faster typer. I became a cheerleader in that home, which would then allow me 3 years of college cheerleading and 7 years of coaching college cheerleading. I was nominated for Prom court and found myself  screaming and crying only 2 hours before the dance and would lock myself in the bathroom all while undoing my expensive up-do that we had just had done because it made me look like "ET". I finally made it to the dance and no one was the wiser outside of my poor mom who tried to talk me down through the locked door.

I eventually moved away to South Carolina for college, but whenever I returned, which was every chance I could, I came back to this home. I knew the smells the minute I'd walk in the door. The scent of pluff mud and salt water air remained on the clothes in my suitcase, and the familiar smell of family and clean laundry and meals together filled my time there. Our childhood dog and first love, Chelsea, was buried in the backyard in 2001. I'd later try and convince my parents to take her with them when they moved years down the road. My campaign was futile and she's still there resting peacefully. I doubt the new owners even know she's there, but I do. I still might go get her one day. She deserves to be somewhere known.

Eventually my parents sold our home and I found myself coming "home" from Charleston to a home that I had never seen before. It smelled different. It felt different. There was no Chelsea in the flowerbed. The people I loved were all there and the pictures of everything that was my childhood were all there, but it wasn't home. Not yet, at least.

I still drive by my Southbridge home all the time. I'm not 100% convinced that it's my doing, as sometimes my car just seems to head that direction before I've even thought it through. I'd give anything to walk through it again. I'd love to show their children my secret graffiti nook where I wrote everything that was swirling around in my head under one of the built-in shelves in my bedroom. They'd never find it unless they laid down on their back on the floor and inched under the shelf. I'd love to see my 12 year old handwriting and laugh at the thoughts that were important enough to write down under a shelf. And I'd love to see if it smells the same. I know it probably doesn't, but I'm guessing that there's at least a hint of us still there somewhere. There has to be. There are way too many memories clinging to those walls to be covered up by fresh paint and clean laundry. A home cannot be erased that easily when the roots are deep.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Monkey on Your Back

Today is one of those days when I don't really have much to say. Therefore, I will not bore you by making up something to share. I'll instead let my phone's camera do the talking today.

Take it away, iPhone...

Do you ever feel like you have a monkey on your back?

This is a little game I call "Monkey rides, $1 to ride." Piggy lets me tuck a monkey on his back and we see how long it lasts. I'm wild and crazy, aren't I? Or maybe just crazy.

Apparently it was a wild turkey parade in our backyard, who knew?
Sometimes I wish I could just cuddle up with my besties during a movie too. Sweet boy

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go...Are You Serious?

I love a patriotic holiday. I love any excuse to be patriotic at all. My 14 years associated with The Citadel hammered in me a love for the military that runs deep. So with Memorial Day upon us, one of the items on my mile long to-do list for the extended weekend was to purchase a new flag for our home. Luckily, we quickly found a nice little kit and I was all ready to fly those stars and stripes with pride.

And then the rain came and you can't fly our flag in the rain. And it came the next day. And now they're calling for rain and thunderstorms for the next 7 days. Are you serious, Clark?

Let me just tell you that we still went to the Memorial Day Parade as a family, but let me also tell you that it was 54 degrees. And wet and misting. I still felt patriotic, but I did not feel very festive. I saw friends posting pictures of their holiday at the beach. I saw images of toes in the sand, breezy smiles, and golden tans. I saw all of these while wearing my winter coat with only 4 days between me and June. Seriously, are you serious? This has to be a joke right?

And before I close my rant/vent/whine and poor me session, per my last post, you saw how excited I was for the painting to start on our house, right? Well, thanks to the week of rain, the painting is postponed. And the kicker is that we're having friends over in 2 weeks for Tim's birthday and I was so excited to have the house done. Um, yeah, probably not going to happen. If we're lucky, half of the house will be done by then, which is not how envisioned our place to look for company. Maybe two toned homes is the new black?

Okay, Midwest, listen up. I've given you the benefit of the doubt for almost a year now. I came back with an open mind and I embraced the change. I found new and exciting things to do here when I was convinced that you had nothing to offer me after years at the beach. I had your back when people knocked you. BUT, I'm 100% over it. I've endured what felt like the longest winter of my life. I wanted to barf when it was still snowing in April. I lied to myself and our guests when I hung my "spring has sprung" sign for our Easter lunch fully knowing there was snow on the ground just outside of our windows. My blood boils that we still have our heat on in the house. I curse your name as I drive to work with my seat warmers on high. AND this weekend, I loathed you when I was the jerk in her winter coat at Memorial Day cookout as we all huddled under a tarp tent, determined to BBQ as the rest of the country did.

Enough. Between snow storms, great floods, frigid summer temps and skin so pale that I can practically see my internal organs, I'm about to hit my breaking point. I need sun, and warmth, and summer festivities.

Please. For my sanity and for those around me. Please, before you hit us with fall and winter all over again in a few months. Please, if you'd like me to continue my residency here. I beg of you.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Face Lift Weekend

Our sweet, little estate is getting a major face lift this week. After a long, harsh winter, our girl is chipping, peeling and sagging a bit. She's earned a lot  little bit of work, so we're biting the bullet, emptying our pockets, and cleaning her up.

To say I'm excited is an understatement, but I'm also a tad bit nervous. I'm so used to her current colors and her bright red door is kind of her signature, you know? When we tell people where we live, many of them respond with "oh yeah, the house with the red door, I know it well." Will she still pop with a non-red door? To keep her visible and poppin', we've picked a fun color for her entrance once again. Should painting a house be this exciting? Is this what adulthood comes to? What's more is exciting than painting, you ask? Getting that hideous window AC unit removed that someone built straight into the front of our house. Take a hike, Jack! You're not even close to being welcome here.

So take a good long look at our taupe, white and red little nugget. The next time you see her, she'll be sporting her new face. I can't wait to see this girl smile again!

PS...We hired my talented uncle to do the work, which I think is playing into my excitement level. It's not as fun to part with the money, but I'm not even trying to claim that I'd know how to paint an exterior. Money well spent, y'all.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hostess with the Mostest

I've been doing my fair share of traveling over the last year and half, and I've also done my fair share of serving as hostess for either out of town guests or party and dinner guests over the last decade. I'm by NO means an expert, but I've learned many a thing from our good friends over at Pinterest, and much of what I've learned, came from watching the amazing hosts around me from as far back as I can remember.

My grandmothers were both great hosts, along with my mom, but my grandma M. truly takes the cake when it comes to welcoming people into her home. The flowers are always on the table. The snacks and appetizers start the minute you walk in the door. You're gracefully force fed wonderful, home cooked meals, and desert is a staple. She's amazing. As a high school home-ed teacher her whole career, she can master any gathering and begins preparing her menus weeks in advance. She's my get-together super hero.

Thanks to a decade and a half in the south, I've also learned a thing or too about graciousness and going above and beyond for your company. I've also learned to never rush anyone out of my home.  Sit a spell or as long as you'd like. Want to make this luncheon a dinner and then a sleepover, well of course. I'll have clean sheets on the guest bed just in case.

With all of that being said, I've begun compiling a modest list on the tips that I have learned, both from the wonderfully warm hosts that I've encountered to the more prickly ones as well. Hopefully I'll be able to keep my grandma's hospitality alive, and one day pass this humble list onto my children.
  1. Again, never rush anyone out the door. If you've invited someone to your home or party, clear your schedule for a few hours after the event. They've done that for you so be willing to do the same for them.
  2. Less is, less. Always be prepared and never run out of food and drink. More is a must.
    1. Activate a "family hold back" plan if you find yourself in a pinch. You can always feed your family once everyone leaves if needed.
  3. If you do not want anyone in your home "making a mess", do not invite them. No one knows how you keep your home but you. I cannot expect everyone to know how I like my dishwasher loaded or that there is a "coaster with every drink" policy in place (which there isn't for us). People will respect your space as much as they know how to, but they don't know everything. Please cut them some slack and give them the space to relax and enjoy themselves. It's a party for a reason.
  4. Everyone loves a little pretty. Whether it's fresh flowers, fancy napkins, or seasonal trinkets on the table, everyone appreciates a little something special. I always want my guests to know that friends and family are important to our home and making our space pretty for them is worth my time.
  5. Have overnight guests? Make their stay as comfortable and stress free as possible. I love that when I stay at my BFF's house, my towels are always on the bed for me so that I don't have to ask or hunt. When I've had a guest come for a longer stay, I put together a snack basket in their room. I know that it can be awkward as a guest when you're hungry and no one else seems to be, and you don't really want to go hunting and gathering through their pantry. A small basket with snack size treats can be a small thing that says "I'm so glad you're here".
  6. Your home is the one place that you completely own in this big ole world. How you treat people inside of that "world" makes a lasting impression. If your guests leave feeling unwelcome, that may be an impression that they take with them for years to come. Would you want to go back to a prickly party again?
  7. Swim like a duck. You may be paddling like the dickens under the service, but above the water, you must appear graceful and calm. This is something that I have to work on, and most likely will forever. I'm a perfectionist at times, so I can sometimes become flustered and forget that people are there to celebrate and relax, not walk around with a party score card. I know that my energy can sometimes set the tone for others, so I'm thinking about hanging a small sign in my kitchen that reminds me to "just keep swimming".
  8. Have fun! Your guests chose to spend their time in your home. Feel honored and remind yourself that "Wow, you chose to spend your time with lil ole me and all of my pretty and delicious?! Well, bless your little heart!" Who doesn't love feeling fancy and special?
    I do. I do!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lights Out

Has your day ever taken a turn toward the unexpected? That's exactly how our Tuesday evening went. And I know this post is selfish when there are people in Oklahoma without homes anymore, let alone power, but know that they were on my mind as I sat in the darkness last night.

Yesterday threw me a few curve balls throughout the day with business related issues and all I wanted to do was be home. After a few minutes of tears in the driveway with the hubs, we headed inside to make some dinner and forget about the world. Dinner went smoothly and deliciously with grilled honey lime shrimp & avocado, corn on the cob, etc... We enjoyed an hour of bloopers from our fave, The Bachelor, and then, boom. Lights out.

At first, I thought maybe it was a brown-out, but seconds turned into minute turned in to hours. Darkness. So what do we do, head out to the front porch in our "soft clothes" (aka sweats and no shoes) to watch the cars drive by. It was quite relaxing actually. Until it become 9pm and we were in total darkness and silence. Our phone batteries drained and then died. We tried to read compliments of candlelight, but I gotta give the folks on Little House on the Prairie some credit (yes, that's my only comparison for days before electricity #ChildOfThe80's). Reading by candle flicker is hard. My eyes hurt after about 10 minutes from readjusting every time a flicker happened, which was about every 10 seconds.

Long story short, we missed the Dancing with the Stars finale (although I'm not a huge fan, but I did want to cheer on Kellie P.) and the season premier of So You Think You Can Dance, of which I am a super fan. However, we did catch up on silly stories, I sang a few songs off key to entertain the hubs and Pig, and I made flashlight puppets on the wall. Ahh, simpler times.

It's amazing how much of what I do requires power. I can't even sleep without a fan sound, so going to bed early was even out of the question. Maybe I need to go off the grid for awhile and toughen up a bit? I better charge my iPhone first though. Just to be safe.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hope Springs

My heart breaks, along with the rest of the country's, for the families in Moore, OK. I can't imagine an entire city being completely wiped out on a regular Monday afternoon. There are no words. Please join me in praying for them today and in the days to come, as I'm sure this is a LONG journey that has only just begun.

On Monday night, during a massive storm, our tornado sirens went off. Being a recent boomerang'er to my Midwestern roots, I immediately lit 3 candles, grabbed a bottle of water, my phone and my precious dog and hit the basement. My husband did not follow suit. He stayed upstairs and watched TV while Piggy and I waited it out underground. I keep thinking about the stories on the news where people in Moore had minutes, if not seconds, in some instances, once they knew the storm was going to hit them directly. The next time the sirens go off, my husband will be in the basement with us. Trust me on that one. Sirens+hail=basement and he will like it.

Just to leave you with a little bit of hope amongst the rubble. Check out this video of a woman in Moore yesterday. I love two things about the video. 1) I love her response when the reporter, who is clearly fishing for an emotional response, asks her if she's able to comprehend what's happened. 2) I love that in the midst of pain and destruction, hope can spring up in the least likely of places. You just never know where a miracle might be buried.

Praying for you, OK and the people of Moore.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Vegas, Baby

With a few days behind me and my rendezvous to Las Vegas, I think I've finally re cooped and am ready to get back into the swing of things. Long nights of gambling and partying are not to blame for my exhaustion, like most sin-city goers. I was plum worn out from the ridiculous heat and miles upon miles of walking. How do people actually live there? I'm convinced it's got to be slightly comparable to living on the sun. No thank you.

You really didn't think I'd let this trip go by without it receiving some sort of list, did you?

Lessons learned while vacationing in Vegas~
  1. Leave the sweaters and wraps at home. The people who tell you that it dramatically cools down in the evening are correct. However, when the day starts out at 103 degrees, dropping to 82 by midnight does not a "cool" evening make. Forgo the sweaters. Pack more water. And possibly a flame retardant suit in case you combust in the sun.
  2. Pre-training for Vegas might not be a bad idea. On our last day, we walked close to a full marathon and I paid for it for days. Everything hurt. I'm a wuss, period. I also learned that flip flops are not appropriate walking shoes when you're walking from sun up to sun down. Neither are heels.
  3. When you walk in a group of 2 or more girls, be prepared to stop and talk to every single club promoter. This was new to me. My last trip to Vegas was with my dad and brother, so needless to say, we were not their target audience for the VIP club scene. On this trip, however, we could not walk more than 20 feet at times without being offered free champagne, fee liquor and table service, a VIP booth, and free limo rides to the club.
    1. We took them up on this our first night, but once they realized that we'd been traveling all day and were not going to be the girls to dance on the tables, we all took our new friendship for what is was, and parted ways. Our beds were way more attractive than the dance floor.
  4. Cirque de Soleil shows are 100% worth the money. Go see one if you haven't! I had a headache from brain overload and it was glorious.
  5. Seeing the movie "Think Like a Man 2" being filmed in our hotel was awesome. On our last day, Kelly and I were asked to be extras in the movie. I was so sad that we had flights to catch instead. I'm convinced that could've been my big break!
  6. Tix4Tonight is an awesome way to see some great shows at half the cost. You can only line up the day you want to see a show and hopefully the one you want to see isn't sold out. We waited maybe 15 minutes. So worth it!
  7. Everything is expensive in Vegas; long gone are the days of cheap food and drinks there. If you're going, save up so that you can do everything you want to do. Bottled water next to the pool at our hotel was $6 and when it's 103 degrees, you pay it even though you KNOW it's ridiculous. It was $25 to workout in our hotel. Again, no thanks.
  8. Finding a Walgreens just off the strip was like hitting the jackpot. I kid you not, I left that store on such a high! $1.99 for a gallon of water? Yes, PLEASE!! Who needs gambling when you can win big at Walgreens?
  9. I'm not 22 anymore. Our group was made up of two 30 somethings, one 26 year old, and five 22 year olds celebrating their college graduation. I'm apparently old and I'm fine with that. I no longer need to be center of attention at all times and at all costs. I don't enjoy "fine dining" at Margaritaville and Chipolte when there's so many amazing restaurants to visit, and lastly, I need my sleep. I cannot hang with the night owls and be ready to soar with the eagles the next morning. I want to actually see Las Vegas, catch a few shows, shop, explore the amazing hotels, eat pricey sushi and enjoy a cocktail that does not have "Cabo Wabo" in the title. If that is wrong in Vegas, I don't want to be right.
  10. I have $.25 to claim at the Planet Hollywood Casino. Timmy, when are we going back?! I know this great casino called Walgreens and I win big every time!
Classin' it up in our limo with a tallboy Lime-a-rita. Real Housewives of Rockford style. #GetMeATallboy
Our Pleasure Pool
 Date night at Koi and Cirque's Mystere
VIP ride to Rio

Koi at Planet Hollywood. Delicious and superb service. #TwoThumbsUpKoi

Our thoughtful and delicious surprise from one of the husband's moms. I didn't let the room service waiter in for a minute because I told her she had the wrong room at first. There was an awkward stare down until I spied the 3 champagne glasses. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thug Life

What you know about thug life, son?

That's what kept rolling through my head as I passed a "muscle tee", as the hipsters would call them, this week while shopping in Vegas. I'm not sure why in the world I was intrigued by this Thug Life tee, but it had me "oh, hello there, shirt that I should never own".

So, I did what anyone does while vacationing in Vegas, I threw some money at it. Yep, I'm now the proud owner of a Thug Life muscle tee and I couldn't be more happy with my purchase. It just screams "what you know about thug life, petite little girl in pearls?" Where shall I sport this tee without getting odd looks, no clue? But I look forward to sporting it often with said pearls. #JuxtapositionMuch

And just to reiterate just how much I know about so called Thug Life, after I purchased my shirt, I had a few moments of buyer's panic remorse when I began questioning the font on my purchase.
Look closely, can you see both the T and the C on the first letter? #Thugpanic #whatischuglife?

And, duh, don't all true thugs receive pictures of their toy poodles via text?

Monday, May 13, 2013

What Happens in Vegas...

...will not be nearly as crazy as the commercials portray, I guarantee it. My bags are packed and I'm headed to Vegas for a girls' trip for 4 days. I think it's pretty timely that the Hangover 3 movie trailers are just now hitting our TV screens. Timely, yes. Ironic, no, as our trip will not resemble that movie in the least, and if it does, I guarantee that I will not be awake for it.

My Vegas bucket list this trip looks more like a shopping and eating checklist. The last time I went, I gave myself a $5 gambling limit. Needless to say, my time in front of any form of gambling was done in about 2 minutes. I'd much rather have a 100% return on my investment in a store down the strip from a casino. I win every single time in the store. Not so much at the slots.

As for my big trip preparations, I had this grandiose plan to get in shape, get a tan, get my hair done to cover my gray not so brunette hairs, and buy some fun spunky outfits for said girls' trip and somehow all four of those goals escaped me. So far we're off to a great start, ladies and gents.

Oh well, who cares. Here's to 4 days of girl talk, the desert, bright lights, tackiness, and hopefully, a show or two, or three. Viva Las Vegas, baby!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ode to My Mom

The older I get, the more I appreciate my mom. She not only kept me alive for the 18 years that I lived under their roof, but she also refused to give into the temptation of taking me out of this world  when my attitude ran taller than my 80's glam bangs in middle school. My attitude needed major adjusting during the ages of about 11-14. I was evil, which I know shocks many of you. Or then again, maybe it doesn't;)
*Don't let my smile and floral vest fool you...evil.
Sorry about this pic, mom, but it was too good not to share;)

I had a mouth and mean, mean words at times, and I wasn't afraid to use both. I blame it on pre-teen hormones.  I was stubborn; crazy stubborn. If my family ate somewhere that I didn't "feel like" that evening, I'd refuse to go inside. I remember sitting in the car at what is now one of my favorite restaurants in town, and I stubbornly watched my family eat their warm meals through the window. I was starving but I was not going to let them "win". The funny part is that no one really won, but I lost big time. I was the one who didn't get supper, and the only person that I hurt by those stunts was myself. Pathetic little me, sitting alone with tears streaming down my face in the cold, dark car while I could smell the delicious fries in the air.

By the grace of God, I slowly grew up and evened myself out. I stopped screaming at my mom or making faces to her from around the corner. I started realizing that maybe she actually knew what she was talking about from time to time, so I began to listen more. I also learned that she had my back when I needed an advocate. She was one of my biggest fans and I was becoming one of hers. She never missed a skating competition in 13 years, although I'm sure there were some that she had wished she hadn't witnessed due to my lazy, poor performance at times. She'd take off work, drive me hours away, watch nervously in the stands, and either celebrate with me or assure me that there was "nowhere to go but up" if my skating was less than stellar.

And as I got even older, I began watching her passion for giving back and her compassion for others. I had a new found respect for her heart outside of simply mothering Tanner and me. I watched her mother her little sister through the Big Sister's program, and I watched her serve as a second mother for a family in Mississippi through the Box Project. I learned that my mom's heart didn't belong just to our family of four, and I became proud.

We shared countless girl's weekends in Charleston and fell in love with the south, and more so its charm and cuisine, together. And somewhere between my 20's and early 30's she became one of my best friends. Still is. Always will be. If she can put up with Brittany at age 11, I'm certain we can weather anything together.

Happy Mother's Day weekend, mom! You're an example of compassion, passion, creativity, being humble and forgiving, and you must have the patience of a saint to put up with Tanner and me. I'm so thankful that out of all the mom's in the world, the Lord gave us you. Thank you for you being our selfless fan for over 30 years! I love you.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Mugshot Addiction

Upon first glance, I'm your average 30 something female who can usually be found sporting pearl earrings, playing with my 10 lb toy poodle, driving in my white Jeep singing along to Journey, and enjoying a nice glass of Malbec after a long week at the office.

What people don't know about me behind the pearls and monster ballads, is that I'm a mugshot junkie. Rockford Mugshots is my jam. If you arrested in the greater Rockford area and are hoping to keep it a secret, not gonna happen. I will know within hours of your booking, so walk the straight and narrow if you don't want me to stalk the worst photo you will ever take. Ever.

I love me some mugshots. I'm fascinated by them quite honestly. And my fascination does not begin and end at Oh no, that's just the starting point for me. I then take it to the streets, aka Facebook.  I will find your mug and then find you on Facebook, muwahaha. Most of the time these folks can be found on FB making the awful "duck face" or posing with 8 of their cute little friends at a local bar days if not hours before the mug unfolds. Then their mug photo looks a little more along the lines of running mascara and begging someone not to call their parents, spouse, or boss to let them know that they just got arrested in their official Burger King uniform shirt and will most likely be late for their upcoming shift.

I honestly think someone from law enforcement should hire me based on my hours of physical and mental profiling done from the comfort of my leather sofa. I can spot a future repeat offender within seconds. If you have one of the following, I will most likely see you grace my iPad again in the near future:
  • Facial tattoos. I think tattoo artists should have to submit names to authorities of anyone requesting artwork on their face. Face tat= probably not making the best decisions.
  • Neck Tattoos. Please see my rationale above.
  • Hair that is standing at least 5 inches straight out of your head. It didn't work for Nick Nolte and it probably won't work for you.
  • YOLO shirts. You may only live once, but you can certainly be arrested multiple times. Keep the fun in check. Screaming YOLO and pounding shots before you drive home, does not a long life make.
  • Grins. If you're smiling in your mug like it's a Glamour Shot at the mall...I look forward to seeing you again real soon, cutie pie.
  • Closed eyes. If you're so high or so drunk that you can't keep your eyes open for the photo, I'm guessing you won't be calling a cab or just saying no the next time either.
  • War wounds. If you look like someone used your poor little face as a skate board, I'd bet my nickels that you'll have another starring role on this site.
  • Hospital gowns. Wow. Need I say more. If they didn't even let you get dressed after the ER visit, you're probably in some serious hot water with the law. You should've considered faking a coma for at least a few days.
Now, I know all of this probably makes me seem heartless, and I assure you that I am not. Some of the people make me very sad. You can tell the ones who've had a long battle with addiction and other demons and my heart hurts for them. I'm sure they have stories that I couldn't handle and I'm certainly not judging.

However, there are clearly some folks who just made a poor decision and are now on the world's worst online dating site ever (come one, there has to be someone out there that uses the access to honest photos and true ages to make strange love connections, right?). Those offenders are the ones that are my online train wreck and I just cannot look away. I wish I knew why I was so compelled to peruse this site daily, but it just calls to me. And the downside of this curiosity is that now I'm always staring everyone down at the grocery store  thinking "didn't I just see you on Mugs for fleeing to elude? Or was it obstruction of justice?"

Maybe I better find a new source of entertainment before I end up on there for chasing people around Walmart and giving them the stink eye in the dairy aisle for crimes they may or may not have committed. It's just so darn hard to look away!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Flight Etiquette

This past weekend I had the pleasure of being a passenger on 4 different flights in a 72 hours span. That being said, I don't particularly enjoy flying. I don't not like it because I'm afraid, I just don't like the lack of control that I have and the strict time lines, etc... There's just too much room for error and absolutely nothing that I can do about it.

I'll also never be one of those people who loves grabbing a beer at the airport bar, nor am I the gal ordering a boxed snack and Merlot on a flight. Just get me to point A from B without too much turbulence, delays, and hoopla and I'll pleasantly mind my own. Other passengers, not so much really.

With about 4-5 more trips ahead of me in the next few months, I've started compiling a list of general airplane etiquette, at least for my own peace of mind:
  1. If you must recline your seat, please do so gradually. Do not, I kindly repeat, do not drop it like it's hot with one huge plunge. The person in front of me did that this weekend and I kid you not, I almost wet myself. It scared the dickens out of me. I'm just minding my own with my little paperback and wham! The woman in the seat in front of me is now in my lap. Ease into it friends. There's no rush. We still have 2 hours for you to recline, but I assure you, it's going to feel like 8 hours if you have to smell pee pants behind you the whole way.
  2. And, if we're being 100% honest with ourselves, is it really polite to recline all the way back? Aren't our seats tight enough without someone else taking a snooze in your personal space? Just think on that.
  3. Please shower before your day of travel. I've had people in my life who have the mindset of "why would I shower just to sit on a plane for a few hours?" Well, I would usually tell them in my sweetest most convincing voice, "it's not really about showering for you. It's about showering for the poor soul who must sit next to you for 2 hours. No one needs to smell you at 30,000 feet." No one. They did not pay $300+ to sit next to a BO machine. Please at least "rinse off" if you can't spare us all the 5-10 minutes for a little lather.
  4. Headphones should not be speakers for the person next to you. Musical taste can be very personal and I don't pretend to know what the person next to me in 34B wants to hear as their "flight 1706 soundtrack". Blasting hardcore rap is plain rude and quite tacky. Please use the headphone to get the tunes to your head and your head alone. Thank you.
    *Note, this was sent while we were still permitted to use our electronic devices. Homeboy blasting the rap never even turned his device off. Etiquette #6 if this list had a #6.
  6. If you do not have a connecting flight, please deplane last as the pilot has asked. This one peeves me up royally. Unless you want to sprint from concourse A to F while pulling me on your rolling suitcase while I scream "faster, faster, we're going to miss it", please let some of us get off ahead of you. Your ride will wait for you, I promise, but my plane will not. And if your ride doesn't wait, well it's probably because you're rude both on and off of the plane. No offense.
Friends, if you have any tips you'd like to add, please do so. I'd like to know if I'm an airline offender and totally unaware like the woman across the aisle letting her 3 year old use her seat like a trampoline for 2 hours while she drowns her parental defeat into miniature bags of pretzels and peanuts.

Mom in aisle 33, I ain't mad at ya. That will probably be me some day. You get one get out of a jail free card, mostly because I can longer hear your child jumping and screaming over the Lil Wayne lyrics compliments of passenger 34B. I do however, think the person who may have to use the floatation device under your child's "trampoline" would revoke your free jail pass on the spot. Just sayin.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dear Delta

Dear Delta,

I am avid United customer. I felt like I needed to be upfront about that before we really get to know one another. I can fly direct on United between my two home bases of Chicago and Charleston, SC, so they always get my business. Until this weekend.

As I boarded my delayed flight this past Friday night, I knew in my anxious gut that I'd miss my connection to Charleston and would then be stuck in Atlanta overnight. I was already not a happy camper. I'm not the best traveler so being stuck somewhere is cruel and unusual punishment for this worry wart. My trip was short enough already and now you were cutting into my time with the people I love. Not a smooth move for this United fan.

When the pilot announced that we'd be landing in ATL in roughly 30 minutes, I checked the time and it was 10:20. My flight left for Charleston at 10:50. Not gonna happen. Stranded. Anxious.

The minute my feet hit the ATL airport terminal, I was directed to a bank of courtesy phones which held my travel fate. About 30 seconds into the call, the friendly voice shared with me that I had already been re-booked on the first flight out the next morning. While I was still in the air, a team was working on the ground to get me to my destination. Stranded but impressed. This point is usually where I'd fight tears, if I can even contain them, but this time, I actually felt a bit of relief. Stranded but Delta had my back.

Although we couldn't get to our checked luggage, I was given a hotel room, meal voucher, and an overnight kit. Toothbrushes equal a thankful traveler in this girl. Ain't nobody got time to sit next to a funky mouthed passenger first thing in the morning. Thankful. Once I reached my hotel room, I realized that I didn't have anything to sleep in. That's when I opened my overnight SkyTeam case and realized that there was not just a toothbrush in the case, but also an XL Delta t-shirt. Stranded but with pajamas and fresh breath. Man, Delta, you think of everything! Stranded but growing increasingly more impressed.

About 4 hours of sleep later, I woke and headed back to the airport. I enjoyed my breakfast that Delta bought me and boarded my final flight to Charleston. I was about 10 hours late, but surprisingly I wasn't anxious, upset or cursing Delta's name. And trust me, when you're stranded, without clean clothes or make-up and going on only 4 hours of sleep when you usually require 8 to be a pleasant human being, this is no small feat. Someone was doing something very very right.

And, Delta, on the creative and branding side, you dress to impress. I never encountered anyone in your uniform that didn't smile and seem happy to help. AND your flight instruction video= brilliant! I've been flying since I was a youngster. I'm now 34 and I NEVER pay attention to those safety instructions as I could probably do the demo in my sleep. BUT your new video had me at hello. I laughed, I listened and my heart got all happy and warm when I saw my favorite red-head wag her finger from a passenger seat with the no smoking portion. I kept thinking to myself "did that flight attendant change jackets? Was she wearing glasses the whole time?" You're brilliant, my new friend. 

So in closing, I'd like to consider taking our relationship to the next level, Delta. I think you've got what I'm looking for~ creativity, follow through, friendly faces, and t-shirts that make wonderful pajamas in the clutch. Your pilots are charming and I loved hearing their personalities through the PA system. They put me at ease and I knew I was in good hands with two retired Navy officers. Thanks for a great weekend. You turned a travel plan disaster into a not so horrible situation and I'm forever a fan.

I just might even friend you on Facebook and make us official!


Your newest SkyTeam member with complimentary fresh breathe

Friday, May 3, 2013

Who Ya Gonna Call...

No, not Ghost Busters, silly. My dad. That's who I'm gonna call.

I've always known that my parents are wealth's of knowledge. They know everything. Or at least in my eyes, they know everything and always will. They've been there, done that, seen that, lived through that to tell the tale, wouldn't do that again, etc...

I'm one of the fortunate people who never "wanted" when it came to my folks. They always showed up, always loved, made the hard decisions when I'm sure it wasn't easy, and helped me to strive for great and not just mediocre. Not that I'm claiming to be great, but you get the drift.

And although my parents are super smart and equals in my head, I'm starting to realize that they're both my "go to" person but for totally different things. If I need someone to listen to me vent on matters of the heart, I go to my mom. She listens (well, to about 75% of what I say and nods pleasantly through the other 25% like she's still listening-it runs in the family. Just watch my grandma;). She doesn't try to fix things or give me a solution, she just listens and shares in my "this sucks" feeling when I need to feel known.

My dad, he's the boss. He's got the answers and he's got solutions. If I need work advice, he's very knowledgeable as an Executive Director of a statewide agency. Now, if I need boy advice or matters of the heart, he's probably not my go to dude. I remember a conversation of ours when I was suffering from a catastrophic, broken heart and I heard his words ring through the phone line "Well Baboo, at least you're not the U of Illinois basketball team. They were undefeated ALL season and just lost their playoff game to get into the NCAA tournament. Now that is devastating. Try to imagine how they're feeling right about now."  Bless his heart, I know he was trying, and in his head that was a "let's put this into perspective" moment. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, I think I cried harder and asked when mom would be home to talk.

During some recent transitions in my life while updating resumes last summer, career moves, dad's been an awesome source of support and wisdom. My hubs is as well, but dad's got some years on us that we just don't have at 34 years old.

This week the chips were down for me and I was scared over an issue. After talking it over with the hubs, I told him "I'm going to call my dad. He'll know what to do." And even though I knew what he was going to say before he said it, I, his little girl, just needed to hear it in his voice. He told me what I should do and I did it. Within minutes. I just needed to hear my dad say that it was going to be okay. And guess what? It was. I lived to tell the tale.

I have a feeling that I'll be the 60 year old on the phone with my dad when the chips are down and I need some solid, encouraging advice. I pray to God he won't be helping me update my resume at 60, but I do know, Lord willing, he'll be the one that I call when a solution looms in the air and I need a wise voice.

So thankful.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Crushing on My Men

There are many reasons that I love my husband, but texts like this rank right up there.

I know that NO ONE can ever love our little Piggy more than I do, but Tim is certainly creeping into the poodle love-fest more and more every day. Gotta love a grown man who can proudly walk his poodle down the road.
And just because he's cute and I'm an overly proud momma, here he is again so you can get a better look at our sunny, happy boy:
And of course, silly moments like the one below also help my crush:
While listening to Jason Aldean's new song "1994" together while driving down the road-
Hubs singing along- "Jump, jump, jump with me."
Me- "What are you saying?"
Hubs- "He's (J. Aldean) singing "Jump, jump, jump with me."
Me- "Um, no sir. He's singing 'Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie'. Duh."
So come on Joe Diffie, jump with us, will you?