Monday, December 31, 2012

It's Over For Another Year

Christmas, 2012, has come and gone.

Jordan and Chris arrived on the 22nd...with a baby bump in tow. Cameron packed a bag and stayed over several nights and Will is home for the semester break. So we had several days of a full house, lots of eating and playing games.  By the way, our new favorite game is Loaded Question.  But there was a game or two of Chicken Feet played and a jigsaw puzzle out on the table being put together during the spare moments. Cell phones were off limits during the playing of games.  Ahhh...real conversations. 

When my kids were little, I would try to imagine them all grown up.
  But the best I could do would be to imagine their sweet child face on a tall body. 
No matter how hard I closed my eyes and
 tried to focus on imagining...I couldn't imagine them as adults.
Now I look back at those children's faces in photos then look up at three adults. 
They are now what I could not imagine. 
All grown up.

And we've gained another kid and and one huge hairy dog. 

While opening presents on Christmas morning, the clouds and wind rolled in and we were under a Tornado Warning.  I had plans to make a breakfast casserole after all the presents were opened but the lights were flickering and I was trying to come up with a Plan B if we lost electricity.  It was scary for awhile.  We made a plan to head to our closet if we saw a funnel cloud but fortunately never needed to.  It made for some loud and crazy moments as we all yelled and kept looking out the window instead of watching the person, whose turn it was, open their present.  As the saying goes, "If you don't like the weather in Houston, give it a minute or two and it will change."

We went in a circle opening one present at a time and it almost lasted an hour and a half.  Everyone got something they needed and something they wanted and probably something they didn't know they wanted or needed. 

Will got a "Fin" hat from Adventure Time
from Cameron. 

 Chris got a clamp on cup holder for a stroller or bike
 from Aunt Catha and Uncle Kim on Christmas Eve.

 Dixie got a skinny bone for her old teeth from Will.

Jordan, organizer extraordinaire, got a To Do list note pad from us.
(Oh, she got a lot more but this is one of the few
 pictures taken of her opening presents.)

Harry got a huge bone from his brother Will.
  Santa didn't actually leave Harry anything because
Santa knew Harry had eaten enough things around here already.
While he is very, very nice...he excels at naughty.

Cameron purchased Chuck a piece of property
 on the MOON!
Yes.  Apparently you can do that.
We have the deed to prove it.
And my 4 favorite gifts were....
from Will...wrapped up with duct tape
 because he couldn't find the Scotch tape...

a turquoise bracelet he picked out because "I know you like to wear a lot of turquoise."

From Cameron...something she painted just for me...winter birds. 

So talented.

From Jordan and Chris, a Mackenzie-Childs Parchment Enamel Squashed Pot.
It was purchased for my bathroom but it will live all over this house.

From Chuck, I received an IPad.  Well, he decided we needed one to share so I agreed and it was purchased by him and hidden in a perfume box for me to open on Christmas Eve.   But then, on Christmas morning, he had hidden my stocking behind a chair and when everyone was finished opening their gifts, he pointed me in that direction.  This ornament was coming out of the top of the stocking and I pulled it out first.

Attached to the wooden snowman was a string of beads and letters that...get ready for it...Chuck bought at Michael's and strung together himself then attached to an empty M&M container.  It makes me laugh when I think of him in Michaels buying those beads...and then stringing them.  I guess all those times he tagged along with me in to craft stores, he really was paying attention.  He was extremely proud of this part of the gift...the presentation.

Inside the container was a ring I had hinted for.  Okay...I threw out a hint the size of a boulder. We had gone to Jared's one night to get my watch band repaired.  They couldn't do it there so we were leaving.  But I wandered around a little.  Then heading out the door of Jared's, I said, "I really want a band to wear (pointing to my left hand).  Two nights later, while sitting outside, Chuck asks me what kind of watch band I want.  Yeah.  So that is when I may have looked up what I meant and emailed him a picture of a in ring...not a WATCH BAND. 

But once I opened the IPad on Christmas Eve, I figured that was it.  So I'm spoiled.  Very spoiled.  And I know it.  Chuck's language is gift giving and our children have definitely inherited that from him.  I love the thought they put in to their gifts and this is what I want to remember all year long.

What did I give Chuck, you ask?  Uh, nothing.  Well, I did buy him 2 packages of underwear and some sunglasses (As Seen On T.V. from CVS) but I hid the bag in my bathroom cabinet and forgot to get it out and put in his stocking.  So nothing.

For weeks, I asked Chuck what he wanted and he would say "nothing."  I would raise my volume a little and say, "Look, you're getting a Christmas present so at least give me an idea!"  This happened a few times until one night he says "I know what I want for Christmas." 

He wants a bike. 

A bike?

Yes, a bike.

He wants a bike because he intends to ride in the MS150 with Cameron this year.  And I can't buy him a bike.  He has to pick it out and buy it.  So there.  My love language is acts of service so I cooked all week.  How's that? 

Christmas is over.  I got through another year of Christmas in retail.  I had a wonderful time with my kids at home.  Everyone is now gone back to their own places...except Will.  But Will stays on the go and only seems to come home to sleep.  So it's almost back to normal around here.

This is normal around here.

Since today is the last day of 2012, I went back and
 revisited some of my favorite moments of 2012 in posts from this blog.

Best of 2012:

January - Rescuing Harry

February - Discovering Captain Rodney's Boucan Glaze 

March - A visit with Debbie in California

April - Cameron crossing the MS150 Finish Line in Austin
I work hard at staying in the moment and finding the blessings in each day.  That doesn't mean I haven't had some stuff ...some junk...some conflict...some pain...this past year.  Oh, I've had some stuff.  But so have you.  And yet we are here.  So for that I am thankful.
May we get through the stuff and turn back and only see the good.
To you Year 2012: I am thankful that I got to live this year, another year, on the earth.  I am thankful that the tear in my retina has healed and only left behind a floater that's a mere nuisance. I am thankful that we rescued a dog on an impulse this year and he is the sweetest soul ever.  I am thankful that my youngest son made a 4.0 this last semester of 2012 and is graduating in one more semester.  I am thankful that we found a small group at our church this year and I feel at "home" with them.  I am thankful that my daughter, Cameron, loves her job and finds time to use her talents and abilities to paint and ride in the MS150 for a great cause.  I am thankful that my oldest daughter is carrying our first grandchild and it's begun its journey in to our arms in this year 2012. I am thankful that I still have this place to write even though I have ignored it in 2012. 
And as always, if you are reading this...I am thankful for you. 
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Melancholy's a bright yet gloomy time of year....

The holidays are here. 
Thanksgiving came and went and left a few pounds. 
I turned another year older. 
And while the store I work in has been decorated for Christmas
 since the middle of October,
I have had to push myself to get our house decorated the last couple of weeks.  
And now the tree is up and decorated but of course,
about a week later, the lights in the top quarter of it went out. 
 Of course. 
The holiday melancholy set in. 
Right on schedule. 
I fight it. 
Do you fight it?
Is it just me?

I will get through it.

 Maybe it's the hot, humid days while "Let It Snow" is playing.
  Maybe it's the bare and naked trees and the lawns covered in old brown leaves. 
 Even nature looks messy and sad.
Maybe it's the alignment of the sun changing the shadows in my house.
It could be my kids grew up while I was doing the dishes...
and this is the time of year that hits me in the face.
Or maybe it's my soul being nudged to really, really remember
what this time of year is all about. 

It's not about the tree being decorated.
It's not about the parties.
 (Do we really need another Ornament Exchange on our calendars?)

It's not about shopping for the perfect gift.
(Although I work in a gift store and
spend my days helping others find that perfect gift.)
When I decided to title this post Happy Melancholy was a play on words and emotions. 

But the word holy jumped off the screen at me. 

Do you see it?

It is exactly what I needed to "see" today.
A great reminder to me...and maybe to you, too.

                                                          ~~ ... ~~

On another note......I met someone yesterday that I feel like I've known for a few years now.  She's one of my favorite design bloggers and I have her on the sidelines here so hopefully you've seen her blog, too.   I read her daily and this makes me feel like she's in my world.  I was working at the gift shop and she walked in and I knew her.  But I've never met her.  Thank you Internet.

I said,  "You're Holly aren't you?"   She replied, "Yes."  I said, "I read your blog...I love it...may I hug you?"  (a little creepy now that I think about it but I felt a little star struck and like she was an old friend all at the same time)  She said, "Yes"...and then thanked me for the hug and said she needed that. 

Okay, and I may have even written down my blog address and handed it to her a few minutes later.  We discussed being cursed with the love of decorating and beautiful things while living on a dime....knowing we are married to wonderful providers and handsome men but having clients that never even have to look at the price tag.  She knocked a tray over (because we have squeezed in a million Christmas items on top of an already fully packed store) and I laughed with her because knocking stuff over happens to me daily in that place.  In fact, my name is called out whenever there is a crash noise. I always claim the aisles are too narrow because surely I'm not too wide.

And then I became her new best friend for the next 20 minutes.  And here's what you need to know about her.  She is the real deal.  So real.  And talented and kind and funny and pretty.  Did I mention real?

I think we read others' blogs and see the cleaned up act and think they have it all.  And yes, they do have it all...just not all at the same time. It's not always clean and photo shopped and dinner isn't always served on time and eaten at the table. And there is probably a load of laundry in the dryer from 4 days ago. 

As Holly said as she was purchasing The Barefoot Contessa cookbook..."maybe I will cook more" and then told us no matter what she cooks, her 3 year old only wants a cheese quesadilla. 

See what I mean?  Real.

I love her.  And Holly, if you read this...let's do lunch.

And if you haven't read her're in for a treat. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Big Heads and Tailgates

Our recent trip to Atlanta was planned around a football game and tailgating for Georgia Southern where our friends' son plays. We've been meaning to get to a game to see #77 play and since he graduates in December, we got there just under the wire. It was Senior Recognition day, so not only did we get to see Chip and Debbie, Taylor and Blake...but also their extended family and friends.  It was a nice reunion of sorts and a peek into their world of weekly football games and tailgating. 

I have probably watched more football this fall than I have in my lifetime. And by watch football, you know I mean try to watch the "football" and not get distracted by the people. The Aggies have a winning team this year so that's grabbed all of our attention. The Houston Texans are also doing I may have screamed "go, GO, GOOOO!" from my living room a time or two...while watching the game with Chuck. But this game at Statesboro, Georgia, on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, surrounded by our good friends, the traditions of the pre-game, the game and the tailgating afterwards was the real deal. I can see why people get caught up in the whole thing. Down to wearing the colors of the team. And maybe even a fake tattoo on their cheek.

The football team arrives at the stadium from the other side of campus on old yellow school buses. The story goes that when football was first started at the college, there was no money for buses. So they went to the county and an old school bus was donated. The coach used black spray paint to block out the name on the bus, since it didn't say Georgia Southern, and to this day...even with money to support nicer buses...the boys still arrive across campus in the old yellow school buses. They are escorted across campuses by police cars running their sirens.

When  you hear the sirens, you drop everything and run to greet the players.


This might have been my favorite part of the day...getting caught up in the frenzy of rushing to meet the buses and seeing all the fans wave the boys on.  There's Chuck doing what he does...videoing the moment.

Debbie's sister Linda had a big head made of Blake to hold up in the stands. This Big Head was the hit of the game. Such a hit that it made the front page of the paper the next morning.

Linda holding the Big Head. 

But way before that, it got a lot more action.

The cousins even wore fake beards...which at some point in the day ended up on the Big Head.

Pre-game activities including ......

a photo op with The Eagle...

Blake's grandfather and uncle watching the players warming up....

And more videoing...and strange man thinking even stranger woman was taking his picture.


#77's family lining up to go out on the field for Senior Recognition Day....

Senior Football Player #77 being called across the field..through a line of cheerleaders.

This makes me laugh because those 2 girls have clearly lost their attention to the reason they are out there.  Except for the bodies, that could be me.  Okay, the bodies and the youth and the tans and the long, blonde hair.  But the attention?  So me.

 And #77 handing a rose and his plaque to his mama.  Debbie's in the gold skirt and boots. 
And then the game...and the people.




Julie and Payton

Gracie and Timmy

Halftime...and the students on the hill..

...then the sun went down and the game was over...

Some headed to the showers, others to the Tailgate Party.

Five huge tents and a trailer.  A professional, master minded set-up.
Chip must have been involved.
On the menu: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, hot rolls and banana pudding. 
With a generator, a satellite dish and a television, Cameron and Chuck were able to watch the A&M/Alabama game.  A nail biter.
A&M pulled it off! 
Our Bama Fans/Friends are still our friends I hope! 
The football players' parents.  Tailgaters.  Friends.
We spent the night in Statesoro and even went to a college bar for awhile. 
Let's just say we stuck out amidst the 18 to 22 year olds and the music and dance moves have changed since we were that age.
On Sunday, we headed back to Atlanta and were dropped off at the airport for our flight home.
It never gets any easier to say goodbye to Chip and Debbie. 
I loved this trip.
I love them.
The Big Head was a huge hit.  And at the end of the Tailgate Party, after everything was packed up and it was time to go, Gracie and Maggie took it out one more time and provided the entertainment for some very tired people.  Check it out.  Volume on.