Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Favorites

It’s finally, finally fall! I wait for this season all year. No other season can equal autumn and its smells, tastes, weather, wardrobe... Fall’s got it all.

For me, fall means a lot of things. It means flip flops AND my favorite pair of jeans. It means dark painted toenails and- if I’m feeling sassy- fingernails. It means scarves and cardigans, leggings and hats, Olive Garden's Never-Ending Pasta Bowl (when I was pregnant with Atleigh, I went there twice a week. Twice a week!! To eat pasta! Not just any pasta- ALL YOU CAN EAT PASTA. If I ever wondered how I gained those seven pounds in one month...), open windows, pumpkin EVERYTHING. It starts off the family round of birthdays: Atleigh in October, followed by Halloween, Ashton in November, followed by Thanksgiving, then Chloe in January (this isn't including non-immediate family birthdays. If we count my family and Jeremy's, we have 12 birthdays between September and January). And most of all, fall brings Christmas! Argue all you want... we all know the majority of the “holiday season” actually takes place in the fall. And since I’ve already said once that I don’t love Christmas half so much as I love the season leading up to it, I make the most of that season. Christmas music is already on my iPod, Christmas movies in a box next to the TV. Now, I won't force it on all of you just yet... but if you think I haven't already set up a Christmas playlist for this blog, then you are gravely mistaken.

Here are a few of my fall favorites:

I don't drink coffee. So I rarely have a need for Starbucks. Except in the fall.

 My sister and I just found these at Target this week. Um. Wow.

I wear a lot of scarves. Although the top one is the way I wear them most, I can always use tips, and branching out is good.

 I got this black hoodie back before I was pregnant with Chloe. That means it's coming up on its 6th winter. I remember zipping it up over my very pregnant belly... it still droops in the front. It's got a few burn holes and bleach stains from working in the kitchen of Aroma's, the zipper is now a paper clip, and it's so thin that it probably doesn't do me any good... but it's still my main staple in chilly weather.

These boots. You don't even have to say it. They are awesome.

My sister just bought me these shoes. LOVE them.

I love me some hats. These are just a few of my favorites. I like to think they cover a few different genres... a newsie, a cloche, and a "crooner" as my dad calls it.

The polish on the left, "Smoke-N-Mirrors" is my staple. I just got the one on the right, "Honk If You Love OPI". When I put it on, my first thought was, "This looks like clotted blood." But it dries into a really deep plum... I love it already.

I just got this FREAKING. SWEET. belt today. The buckle is one I already had. I'm already imagining how many different buckles I can pair with this baby.

What are some of your Fall Faves?

Happy fall, folks!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

SO Not Spidergirl

Earlier last month, I went outside to get something from my car, and came across something truly horrifying and grotesque:

That’s right. This puppy was living in the dogwood in my front yard. I about had a conniption. Of course, the photographer in me overcame it long enough to get a decent picture, which I posted on Facebook, thus generating a 50 comment thread on what to do about it. Among suggestions such as spraying it with extra strength hairspray, setting the tree on fire, or just leaving it alone because “they’re good for the planet” or some such nonsense, I decided, that since JT wouldn’t take pity on me and protect me from it, I was just going to leave it for now, hoping maybe a bird would eat it or something. Then Irene came, and I knew for sure that spider would drown, or be blown away, or SOMETHING.

No such luck. The night after the hurricane, my brothers were outside, and saw the spider hanging from the telephone wire right above my car. I don’t know why, if the wind was going to blow it anywhere, it couldn't have at least blown it down the street. The spider stayed there for a few weeks, then I lost sight of it. I figured it was gone. I was wrong.

Last night, I came home from worship practice with Jeremy, opened the fence, and walked through a huge spiderweb. In case you haven’t inferred, I don’t do spiders. I just don’t. They make me gag. I hopped up and down on the sidewalk, squealing and batting at my arms. I just knew- I KNEW- that that spider was going to lay eggs in my hair. I shuddered for the next half hour.

Now you may be thinking, girl has a spider stalking her, camped out in her yard, looks like it’s never leaving. It can’t get much worse. But it can. Ohhh, it can.

I walked my sister out last night when she went home. I told her, “Oh hey, watch out by the gate, the spider’s back” (Amber is long acquainted with the spider).  I turned on the porch light so she could see where the web was, and not walk through it. What to my revolted eyes should appear, not one, not two, but FOUR- FOUR. FREAKING. SPIDERS.- in my tree! I don’t know if Mother Spider had babies, or if she’s just been spreading the word about the luxury of my dogwood, but it doesn’t matter.

I shrieked.
I covered my eyes.
I waved my hands in front of my face in true Southern vapor style.
I covered my mouth.
I shrieked again.
I grasped my hair and pulled.
Shrieked again.

I just.... can’t... I can’t even articulate. I need those spiders gone. They need to be gone. I woke Jeremy up, at 1 in the morning, asking, “How asleep are you right now?” He responded, “Hmm?” “We have a problem”, I said. “The spider has spawned. There are four out there. SOON IT WILL BE SIXTEEN!!!” He didn’t grasp the gravity of our situation.

So, as of right now, I’m open to suggestions. Ones that don’t include me capturing them and releasing them into the wild, because that would require getting close. And ones that don’t require me outright killing them in cold blood, because I’m not a murderer. I just... I need winter. They’ll go away at winter time, right?

I need help.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I’ve mentioned Darrell Evans before on this blog. To say his music changed me is an understatement. He changed the way I worship, the way I viewed worship. I was probably around 14 when Let The River Flow came out. I’ve memorized every line, every fill, shout, and laugh on that album.

Last night I got to see Darrell play at a little coffee shop, The Circuit. My brothers and I played there a few months back. It’s a marketplace ministry near the University... a teeny little place, really. But run by a woman with a big heart. When JT found out that Darrell was doing a “home tour”- basically playing in peoples’ homes, churches, coffee shops, backyards, whatever- he called him right away to book him. The fact that Darrell actually came is huge. I mean, for us... just huge. Not because he’s some hotshot who can’t be bothered with the little people. Because... He revolutionized us.

So last night, I sat cross-legged and barefoot on the floor of a little coffee shop, and visited with God. I visited home. The minute Darrell opened his mouth to sing, I was back in my little bedroom, listening to the voice that had accompanied a thousand quiet times, crying times, singing times. I felt 14 again, unweary, full of faith, full of praise.

And I realized how very, very homesick I’ve become.

I’ve forgotten where I came from. Where I’m bound. I’ve padded myself all around with other things, drifting further away from where I belong. I’ve lost little pieces of my identity, had them stolen, or given them up willingly. And if I’ve wondered in recent years where I belong, this is why. I don’t belong HERE.

I’m not putting the focus here on Darrell Evans... and I’m sure he’d be the last person to want it. But by being who he is, a man who is attuned to God, a man who doesn’t try to pull people into worship- he simply worships, and because of his passion, honesty, and intimacy, we follow- he reminded me who I am. Who I was all those years ago, and who I still have a chance to be, if I turn my face back toward Home.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Remember

I know there will be many 9/11 tributes out in the blogosphere today, mine probably the least of these. I’m not going to detail where I was, what I was doing, who I was with. I’m not going to chronicle the horror and terror and tears.

People are resilient. We’ve created a new normal for ourselves, a new kind of everyday. Every year the anniversary rolls around and we say, “I can’t believe it’s been another year already. It seems like yesterday.” On those days, it does. But most days of the year, we... don’t forget, exactly. More like it’s a part of that new normal. We are changed because of it. But accepting change is, in the end, a part of our resilience.

So on days like today, when we’re reminded of what we have lost, what we have earned, and what can never, ever be regained, it strikes hard. Today, it really does feel like these past ten years have only been a moment. Today is beautiful, and bitter.

Today, we remember.

We remember the sacrifices; the ones made willingly, and the ones forced on innocent people.

We remember the grief and the anger.

We remember the first responders who looked death in the face, and in doing so, preserved life.

We remember the service men and women who gave their all, and continue to give their all, to protect us.

We remember the families who will never be the same. The fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, the children left fatherless and motherless.

We remember that our nation was born from adversity, born from ashes, and through our weakness, we find new strength.

We remember that in God we DO trust.

Today, we remember, and never forget.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sisters and Aunts

There are a lot of sisters and aunts on my mom’s side of the family. Many daughters... not many sons. There’s me, and my sister Amber (well, there ARE a lot of sons in my generation). My mom, Kathi, and her sister Pat. Their mom, Elaine, and her sister Elnora. And before that pair of sisters, there was another. Dorothy and Christine, Dot and Teenie for short. They weren’t the only sisters in their generation- there was my great grandmother, Louise, and two more sisters that I never met, Bette and Tilly. Dot was the baby.

Aunt Dot and Aunt Teenie are an institution in our family, always spoken of together, in exactly that way. Never one without the other. Never without the “Aunt” in front. I even had to go back through this whole blog to correct when I left the “Aunt”s off... my mom said she couldn’t read it that way, it was just too weird. They're borderline revered by us all... The last of their generation, the aunts of my grandmother. Great, great aunts. That’s quite a few greats. The most recent count of all their nieces and nephews is over 70.

In her 20’s, as a student nurse, Aunt Teenie contracted polio from a child she was caring for. Aunt Dot, who was about 19 at the time, dropped out of nursing school to take care of her. They stayed together from then on. The first letters I ever wrote had “Aunt Dot and Aunt Teenie” scrawled across them. Aunt Dot loved to paint, so I would send her pictures I drew. Every birthday brought a card with an ironed flat ten dollar bill. When I had kids, I sent them pictures every few months. Aunt Dot always wrote back in a long, thin, spidery cursive. She has beautiful penmanship.

I haven’t seen my aunts since I was a teenager, maybe even a preteen. As the years passed, it just became too hard for them to travel down from Connecticut. Another regret I have... another part of my history and legacy that I never really got to know. The memories I have of them are sweet: hunting Easter eggs in my grandmother’s yard while the aunts sat on the porch swing calling out hints. Tightly spiraled gray curls on heads with soft, wrinkly, pink cheeks. Lots of laughing. And letters, always letters. Boxes of them. They were the most faithful pen pals you could find. A few years ago, I got a padded envelope in the mail from Aunt Dot... when I opened it, I found two paintings, one of a little boy leaning over a dock to play in the water, the other of a little girl playing on the beach. I burst into tears. To have an original “Dot”, when she hadn’t painted in years... the honor I felt can’t be expressed. And the sorrow. It stirred some sort of homesickness in me. I wanted to be with them. I wanted to know them as an adult.

This past Sunday, my Aunt Teenie passed away. She’d been failing for a long time. Every letter I got from Aunt Dot mentioned that her sister was sliding slowly downhill. One thing I loved the most about her letters: she was always honest, but never negative. She would end the reports on Aunt Teenie with, “She still maintains a clear mind, which we are grateful for.” She would tell me how she showed Aunt Teenie the pictures of my kids through a magnifying glass, so she could see them better. She told me how she would take her outside for fresh air. How she sat and read to her. For 70 years, it has been the two of them, always.

I can’t imagine Aunt Dot without Aunt Teenie. The hardest part of my week so far was addressing the card I sent to her. Leaving off the “and Christine” was heartbreaking.

I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes. Rereading the last letter from them. Trying to think of a snappy closing. I’m just... sad. Bereft. But when I think back on their lives, on the lives of all the sisters and aunts in my family, I’m proud to be a part of that thread. And my daughters- they’re part of that long line of sisters, too. They’ll learn their legacy the best that my sister and I can teach them, along with my mother and her sister, and my grandmother and her sister.

Aunt Teenie, sitting on the ground on the right. My grandmother
is the one on the left with the babies on her lap. The naked, tan,
pouty baby is my mom.

We’ll do our best to make the Aunts proud.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I’ve tried so hard to overcome this image I have of myself. The girl who let herself be destroyed by people in her life, people who ended up not even mattering outside of the wounds they inflicted.The stupid girl who got pregnant before marriage. The careless girl who popped out too many kids all at once.

God knows, I’ve tried. I’ve tried to ignore the looks. I’ve tried to forget the comments, the “advice”, the jokes. And then something like today happens.

Some little snide comment sets me all off balance. I feel like I have to explain my mistakes away, make excuses for my choices, bad or otherwise. I feel like I’ve been sucker punched. Even now, after all these years, it hasn’t gone away. I feel like it will always be there, hanging over my head.

You try to tell yourself it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. God’s accepted you, you need to accept yourself. But the truth is, it does matter. IT. MATTERS. It will probably always matter, regardless of what kind of brave face I try to put on. I will always feel apologetic. I will always feel like I need to explain myself.

I will always, always be trying to overcome this.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Post Irene

So, we survived Irene. More than survived... our street was barely affected. We didn't lose power. We didn't flood. All in all, to us, it felt like a really long, boring rainstorm. It seems like it was a waste of my hard earned energy, spent on fear, stress, arguments on whether we should leave or not, and batteries we didn't use (Walgreens will be getting those suckers back). I know it wasn't like that everywhere. My heart hurts for the people who lost family members, homes, property, even those who "only" lost electricity. I am so, so grateful that we were mostly just bored and antsy.

On that note, taking into account our bored-ness and antsy-ness, here's a list of things I learned during Irene:

- It takes 17 bobby pins and 1 hair tie to create a suitable "hurricane" hairstyle out of my short, layered hair. Meaning, it's washed and pinned up in a manner that can stay that way for a day or two before it starts to look unwashed. In case I wasn't able to shower.

- I hated losing cell reception more than I would have hated losing electricity. Sad but true story.

- Living on a lesser hub of a "big city" sucks for the lesser hub. Every news channel was covering exclusively in the "big city". Guess what, news anchors? People who live 30 minutes outside of Norfolk are in the middle of a hurricane too.

- My kids are hurricane pros. A must have character trait on the East Coast.

- I'm not going to say that all pine trees over two stories tall should be cut down, but... well. Maybe they should be.

- I don't like not being able to get in contact with my family.

- Just because you live in a "low-lying" area, and your family doesn't, doesn't imply that they are safer than you. Mine all lost power, and ended up at my house the next day just for air conditioner and hot food.

- Low Country Boil, meatball subs, sleepovers, and Apples to Apples with my family are probably the most fun anyone could ever have since the Garden of Eden closed for business.

How did you all fare through Irene? What are your hurricane stories and lessons?