Wednesday, February 23, 2011


This past weekend was my cousin Brian and his fiancee Christina's engagement party here in Winston.  And boy was it a big weekend.  Sunday night, though, we had a low key dinner at Mom and Dad's to "unwind" a little and take it easy.  While we were eating, there was a Saturday Night Live special on NBC, highlighting some of the best commercials and skits from all of the years that SNL has been on the air.

As we sat there, Mom, Dad, Brian and I were in tears laughing and quoting right along with the oldest commercials and skits.  "Bass-o-Matic", "Shimmer Floor Wax", "Little Chocolate Donuts", "Bag of Glass".  "Point, Counterpoint", "Velvet Jones", "Two Wild and Crazy Guys"......the list goes on.

Christina thought we were crazy.

Here's the thing, though.  We weren't the kids that always watched kids shows and cartoons and sang typical kid songs growing up.  We were, as my mother always likes to call it, 'homeschooled'.

We didn't listen to lullabies and songs performed by kid characters growing up.  We lived in a house filled with James Taylor and Bruce Hornsby and Hall & Oates and Fleetwood Mac.  Dad would have had it no other way.

When I was no older than 5 or 6, I would stand in front of the television and sing every word to the theme song from "Cheers" when it came on.

I can quote almost all of "Coming to America" from memory, and Mom will throw out the "Shame what they did to that dog" line when you least expect it.

When I was a freshman in college, I promise you every girl on my dorm hall got a care package of things from their parents for Valentines Day that had a heart shaped picture frame or pink bear or something else holiday specific in it.  My care package had a DVD copy of Animal House in it.  Because of course it did.  Just the way I would have expected it.

And SNL.  Oh man.  I can quite literally rehash to you all of the very best skits - and thank you, most of them happened before I was even born.  Gilda Radner doing "Rosanna Rosanna Danna", Garrett Morris screaming from the bottom right hand corner of the screen for the 'hearing impaired'.  Belushi yelling "Chee-burger, chee-burger, chee-burger.  Pepsi.  No Coke."  Steve Martin doing "King Tut".

In a Journalism class my Senior year at State, I had a very very sarcastic and not always PC professor.  One day a girl in my class answered a question that he had asked and she was WAY off base.  As a joke, he whipped around and said "Jane, you ignorant slut."  Every single person in that class looked totally horrified, while I nearly fell out of my seat laughing.  He then realized that we were all probably too young to know what that was from, that it was a joke, and he then made me tell the whole class what it was from.  I may have saved him from a big mess that day just because of my 'homeschooling'.

Gotta be proud. :)

I wouldn't trade all of my 'culture and knowledge' from growing up for anything.  Never. 

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Friday, February 18, 2011


I am a girl who LOVES a good tradition. 

I love that my mom and her sisters play Sleigh Ride on the piano EVERY single year at Christmas.  I love that whenever a baby is born they get a monogrammed swaddle blanket from me.  I love taking pumpkin patch pictures every year with Spencer and Sam.  I love the traditions found in weddings and baptisms. 

The sentimental part of me loves the sweetness of a tradition - the OCD part of me likes the consistency. :)

One tradition in our family is getting a 'heart' on Valentine's Day.  My grandfather had 3 girls.  The man was meant to be a girls' daddy, there was never any question about that.  Each year each girl got a decorative heart for Valentine's Day.  Lots of times they were from travels that my grandparents had been on, and sometimes even from trips actually taken with the girls.

They got an egg each year for Easter as well.  Elizabeth and I grew up in a house where there was a beautiful collection of these hearts and eggs in Mom's china cabinet in the foyer and the display cabinet in the living room.  These displays would make their way out onto the living room coffee table at the appropriate times of year, and I still love to sit and look at all of them when they are out.  Ceramic, glass, marble....simple, intricated, name it.  And then when we head to Lana and Tamra's we see the very same collections.  I am wild about that.

Mom and Dad have started hearts and eggs with us and I LOVE that.  The picture (which isn't the best, but you get the point) is just a few of the hearts in my collection so far.  The red one is from two years ago, the rainbow one from last year, and the Murano glass one is from this year.  Aren't they so neat?

So here's to traditions!  And, a late Happy Valentine's Day to everyone.  I'll show off some eggs when Easter rolls around!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oh, the Super Bowl

Once Upon a Time (back in September or so), my mother called me at work and said "I've figured out something fun to do for Dad for Christmas....what do you think about me taking him to the Super Bowl?"

She thought she'd lost me because I was totally speechless.  He. Would. Love. It., I told her.

Fast forward to Christmas morning.  Elizabeth, Nick and I know he's getting the trip, but he has NO idea.  We are armed with cameras, video cameras, the works.  Dad goes to open the gift.  He totally flips.  But there is an envelope in the box with a note in it....Dad reads it aloud and it says "The whole family is going!"  Screaming.  Jumping around.  Dropping of cameras.  We went totally bananas.  Think of that commercial from this holiday season where, on Christmas morning, the parents tell the kids they are leaving for Disney World that day.  But make the kids a 26-year-old and two 29-year-olds.

Everyone that knew we were going said "Oh man, what an experience that will be!"

You have NO IDEA.

We headed to Texas early to spend a few days in Austin with Nick and Elizabeth at their new house.  We had a blast seeing the town and hanging out at the house and eating.  And eating.  And eating.

Sunday morning we loaded up the Family Truckster for the 3.5 hour drive to Dallas. 

Then, the dam broke...

About an hour outside of town, Mom's cell phone rang.  It was our ticket broker.  The tickets had fallen through.  (We don't think we'll ever know what really happened, but it sure did seem shady...)

So began the most painfully awkward, 3 wide in the backseat hour in the car I have EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.  Mom was so upset.  We were so so upset for her.

We got to our hotel and everyone in the lobby was decked out in their Packers or Steelers gear.  There were football shaped balloons everywhere.  The woman at the counter beamed "Welcome to the Super Bowl!" when we walked up.


We had been instructed to still take the bus to the stadium as planned to see if anything might change.  So we did.  More awkwardness.  The people on the bus were in full-throttle excitement mode, as well they should have been.  Meanwhile, we all looked like our dogs had just died.

We got to the parking lot and had no idea what to do.  You couldn't get into anything without a ticket.  We wandered around and Mom was crying and we were hugging her and none of us knew what to do. 

Now, there is no doubt that not going to the Super Bowl will not hurt anyone.  There are FAR worse things to have happen to you - we are not denying that.  But when your mother has pulled off the greatest Christmas morning surprise ever after months of sneaky planning and now the whole family is standing there without a clue what to do or where to go, it is hard.  It is really really hard.  We would be fine, of course, but watching Mom's heart gradually break was nothing short of gut wrenching.

Around 4:00, the phone rang.  The broker had found tickets.  We were going be somewhat split up, but he had tickets.

We walked all the way to the Rangers ballpark to meet him.  Then back to Cowboy Stadium.  We were starting to cut it close on time.  We got through security, then through the doors to the stadium, then we bolted in 3 different directions like people on that cheesy Supermarket Sweep game show used to.  Mom and Dad went one way, Elizabeth and I another way, and Nick, the single most adaptable person on Earth, took off in yet another direction to find his seat alone.  We FLEW to our seats.  Elizabeth and I walked into our section as the jumbo(that word doesn't do it justice)tron was showing that in 34 seconds Fox coverage would be live.


WHAT A NIGHT.  The game was a great one, the stadium was absolutely insane, halftime was a total party.  It truly was an experience that is unmatched by anything else I've ever done.  We were Steelers fans swimming in a sea of green and yellow and cheese in our section and we could have cared less.

Everyone had a BLAST.

We all met back up after the game for a few family photos and then headed out.  Our bus driver got so lost on the way home that it was unbelievable.  We pulled through the Dallas airport for U-turns TWICE on the way home.  "Thank you for visiting Dallas. (U turn) Welcome to Dallas." "Thank you for visiting Dallas. (U turn) Welcome to Dallas." read the signs during our 'detour'.  I mean of course he got lost, why wouldn't he have after the day we had had?  Eventually Nick fell apart in a giggle fit and had us all cracking up.  Back at the hotel (FINALLY) we ordered pizza at 1 am and shared our respective stories from the game. 

Yes.  The Super Bowl is an experience. :)  A stressful, fun, tear-filled, exciting, curt phone call, dancing in the stands experience.  But, in the end, it all worked out.  We had a complete, total blast.

And, most importantly, THANK YOU to Mom for the best gift ever!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Happy Birthday, Sweet Ella Bear!

Another big 5th birthday today - this time for Miss Ella!  (She is number 2 of SEVEN of my little ones with a 5th birthday this year.  Good grief.)

Ella, I remember when you were born.  I remember the stork out in the front yard announcing your arrival and coming to bring what is still my favorite ever sleeper from Baby Gap for you to snuggle in while you were still tiny and it was still so cold outside.

I remember pictures of you being plastered EVERYWHERE in your daddy's office after you were born, and I'd always go in and see them and watch you grow.

I started babysitting for you when you were so so little.  You have always loved to cuddle and we would curl up on the couch in the den and read books and sing.  I can remember one night where you were crying from your room and I could tell something was wrong.  I went in and, bless your heart, you had gotten sick in your crib.  I pulled you out, took off your pjs and set you on the rug so that I could change the sheets and you sat in the floor, without a stitch of clothes on, and so very happily flipped through a book and waited for me to finish, not a care in the world.

You have always been so painfully and sweetly shy.  I can remember coming to one of your earliest indoor soccer games at the Y, and you wanted to play but were scared to get out in the crowd on your own.  I took you by the hand and off we went, and there I was, running around holding your hand as you chased the ball.

If everyone could have an ounce of your sweet spirit and infectious smile the world would be a much better place for it.  I love you, sweet Ella Bear.  Happy 5th Birthday!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Everything's Bigger in Texas

Including this place...

...and I will be there in 5 days.  Watching a tiny little football game.  I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

I need to pack!