November 30, 2008

I punched a man in the face yesterday.

Yep. Thought that'd raise an eyebrow or two. What did you do this weekend?

My fabulous four and a half day weekend was just what I needed - food, family, football, friends, Bradley, Blue and sleep. More later, but here's what you really need to know:

-Not a Black Friday item was purchased. Just FYI.

-Our first Thanksgiving with my in-laws was fantastic. I contributed the mashed potatoes and cornbread casserole, but the rest of our amazing spread was waiting for us when we arrived. And it was delicious. The lemon ooey-gooey cake was beyond words. Seriously. I'm scared to ask for the recipe, it's so good. Mmm.

-I missed my family but I think they managed just fine without me. :) I gave my brother a top-secret stealthy mission to take care of while he was home, but alas it was not to be. So my sneaky Christmas present plan is going to have to change a bit. Wish I could discuss it here but I'm not at liberty to say anything until December 26th. Just in case it works out...

-I got lots of sleep these last four days. Good sleep. Rainy and cold outside, cozy and warm under my down comforter kind of sleep. Nine hours at a time sleep. Ahh.

-After a breakfast-for-lunch with the girls and a spa manicure, I pushed it a little too hard at the gym on Friday. Perhaps the memory of my two-thirds mashed potatoes plate on Thanksgiving? Regardless, I'm hurting something fierce today. You should have seen me attempting to play with our four-year-olds at church this morning. If they hadn't thought I was so weird it might have been hilarious. A hot shower and two Advil later, I'm at least hobbling around with less difficulty. Heels tomorrow should be fun!

-Blue's unbelievable South Carolina tartan holiday collar came in from Pecan Pie Puppies. Pictures to follow - he looks so handsome!! And the proceeds support cancer treatments for our friend Ryan's beautiful yellow lab Sullivan. Absolutely worth it.

-The game I'll have to discuss in a bit more detail tomorrow. Suffice it to say that every minute was worth the cold and the rain. GO TIGERS! And good job, Dabo!! (But since when do we have to check really cute, one-of-a-kind favorite umbrellas just so you can forget them in the stadium? Only to remember it a mile away in the pouring rain. Genius idea, folks.)

-Three full weeks of work await me, then two shorrrrt weeks for the holidays. Whoo! Let's hope these next weeks fly by! (But go slowly enough for me to get everything done. If that's even possible.)

-Oh, and that little punch to the face? He certainly didn't deserve it; I definitely didn't mean to do it. Poor guy behind me at the game became a victim of my jumping up and down, fist pumping excitement. Guy leaned over, hopping around as well, and received a swift punch to the jaw. My hand hurt for twenty minutes, minimum. The sweet, sweet Tiger fan was so excited he just kept jumping. Sometimes love hurts, I guess. Particularly when it's the love of a football team. (This season, at least!)

Enjoy your Mondays back at work, lovelies!! Miss you and hope you had fabulous (non-violent) fun this long holiday weekend...

xoxo,
A.

November 26, 2008

The gift of song

For the next 48 hours, Oprah is offering her Holiday Hits 2008 album for free on her website. Download all eight songs, including Christmas classics from Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Josh Groban, Il Divo, Harry Connick, Jr. and more. Get to it, ladies!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2008

B. Spears circa 2001 or 2008?

She's happy, highlighted, (seemingly) showered, toned and on the cover of a magazine. This photograph could easily be from Britney's sparkly nude bodysuit days earlier this decade.

Happily, it was shot earlier this year; seems our down-trodden diva is back on the cover of Rolling Stone. I'd add it to our list of gratitudes but I'm not quite that shallow.

Rooting for the underdog has always been my thing, though. (Psychiatrists might read a great deal into that, but that's another story for another day.) All in all, I'm just happy to see one less bald-headed, umbrella-swinging, crazy ex-pop star roaming the streets.

Counting the ways

In a life that's imperfect and a world that's absolutely broken, sometimes I find myself noticing every last thing that isn't quite right. ('Right' being exactly how I would prefer it to be at just that very moment.) The traffic lights that catch me every time, the favorite sweater that seems to have disappeared, the sniffles that 'plague' me all day, the slight chill in the house because my sweet husband keeps our thermostat down verrry low. You get the idea.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd love to list all of the blessings we've each been given and the ten thousand tiny ways we're fortunate this year. That, however, would be nearly impossible. So I'm going to make a valiant attempt - and I'd love for you to do the same! Let's turn off Market Watch, set aside the countless Christmas catalogs Mr. Postman has delivered and get grateful.

-the health of my family and friends
-access to good medical care and time off when we're sick
-the love of our animals or human children, should we have any
-the chance to help others in need
-the immediate comfort that a hug (any time of year) brings
-pride in a working democracy
-jobs that provide stability for our families
-bills we can afford to pay each month
-a pantry full of groceries and a tummy full of food
-coworkers who encourage us
-tasks that challenge us
-homes that keep us safe and comfortable
-gifts under the tree and happy faces around it
-holiday feasts and the loved ones who prepare them
-heat that works, tasty soups and warm sweaters
-the rain when we need it, even if it chills us to the bone
-fun accessories to brighten up dreary work weeks
-a stack of good books to get us through winter
-the dedication of every former teacher who taught us to read
-the belief that, no matter the crisis, this too shall pass
-the knowledge that God is in control
-friends who provide a shoulder, hand or ear when we need one
-a globe to explore, in person or on paper
-reasons to celebrate - weddings, babies, holidays, reunions
-the ability to stay connected through blogs, email and Facebook
-the ability to express ourselves intelligently, freely and lovingly
-the gift of hearing, because Christmas would be less festive without carols
-the gift of song, whether we have it or just appreciate it
-Christmas cards with smiling faces of far-away friends
-the promise of a warm South Carolina spring when winter's over

Keep it going...DayQuil has my brain on pause. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

November 24, 2008

A few of my favorite things: Holiday edition

The weather outside is (approaching the Palmetto State's version of) frightful, Bing Crosby is serenading me in Target and visions of vacation days are dancing in my head. That can only mean one thing: it's Christmastime!

So what does Christmas bring? Around here, usually not much snow. It does bring lots of quality family time, silly Christmas sweaters, reasons for impromptu gatherings with friends and time to remember what's really important.

A few of my favorite things each Christmas:

Amy Grant's original Christmas album. Grew up on it, still love it, not ashamed. Seriously, try to find something better than "A Tender Tennessee Christmas." No, I'm not joking.


If anything could possibly be better, it'd be James Taylor's Hallmark Christmas album. I'm a huge JT fan. I could listen to him sing about the latest stock market crash and feel comforted.

A favorite Christmas (-ish) movie from my childhood.

A recent addition to the holiday lineup. Happy endings are always a favorite.

I have probably seen this movie 10,714 times. By year's end I imagine we'll add at least a dozen.

As a thank you to Bradley for tolerating so many viewings of Love Actually, during which I tear up no less than six times despite knowing it word for word, I'll throw in a favorite of his.

Because I quote "Santa! I know him!!" all year round.

It's just not Christmas until you catch up with George Bailey and family.

A socially acceptable reason to eat more mashed potatoes than should ever be consumed.

The Nutcracker ballet, music and my favorite Clara ornament that's now almost 20 (!) years old.

Christmas cookies. Yes, please. Can we squeeze more icing and sprinkles on there? Goes right along with the elves' favorite food groups, as listed in Elf: "We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup." Delish!

A fully decorated Christmas tree. Forget Martha Stewart's version - show me the preschool macaroni ornaments, mismatched creations from elementary school, old parental purchases and some multi-colored lights. The brighter, the more festive, the more personalized, the better.

What are you looking forward to this Christmas?

November 21, 2008

The Simpson-Wentzes have a boy


Straight from People: Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, 24, and Pete Wentz, 29, welcomed a son Thursday night. Little Bronx Mowgli Wentz was 7 lbs. 11 oz. and 20.5" long.

I had hoped to discuss potential names before the first Simpson-Wentz spawn arrived, speculating wildly on what sort of crazy Hollywood and/or traditional Southern family name Ashlee and Pete would concoct for their firstborn.

Hats off to the proud parents, though, because Bronx Mowgli surprises even me. Did they want to honor a romantic trip to NYC nine months ago and acknowledge the powerful role The Jungle Book played in their childhood libraries?

I'm really reaching here, folks. Someone please help me understand!!

Congratulations to them, of course, and hugs to older sister Jess, who may have believed she'd be covered in babies and celebrating her fifth anniversary by now. Sigh.

Babies are a blessing, for sure. I truly hope, though, that Bronx Wentz goes to a private school in LA surrounded by Moses and Apple Martin, Sunday Rose Kidman Urban, Honor Marie Warren and Shiloh, Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Viv and Knox Jolie-Pitt. Should wee Bronx's family they ever move elsewhere he'll need to take some karate lessons to emerge from public school unscathed.

November 18, 2008

Um, is your car sexy?


I love my car. I remind myself of this fact every month when I mail off that lovely payment for my beautiful piece of heaven on wheels.

We've really bonded, my Nissan and I. How many tears, stealthy parking lot cell phone conversations, drive-thru errands and highway karaoke sessions have we shared? Too many to name. And yet I have no real desire to make out with my Altima. That's just a fact. (Although the fabulous blue color of my particular car is undeniably attractive. When it's washed. Which I would do if it wasn't negative 300 degrees outside. Hey, get off my back about it, ok? It'll sparkle when I have the time...)

I've often rolled my eyes at erstwhile Dr. Addison Montgomery Shepherd's way-too-sultrily-voiced Cadillac commercial. Now it turns out I'm not alone.

Watch, giggle, admire Sarah Haskins' wit and let me know what you think. Ever had the urge to give your Volvo a back rub? Anyone?

Go to it!

November 17, 2008

Jack Sparrow is staying busy


Here I was thinking pirates were fictional and that Johnny Depp was filming some non-Caribbean movies. Front page of CNN - pirates hijack a Saudi-owned oil tanker. As I live and breathe, y'all. Do you think they're sporting eyeliner and gold teeth? I'd be awfully disappointed at anything less.

November 3, 2008

On proposals and Presidents - welcome to November!


Two years ago today I got engaged on a chilly Greenville evening that, in my mind, has extended to be at least two weeks long. Part of I remember very hazily, almost as an observer, and the other part is clearer than any other night of my life.

I had been complaining for hours of my utter exhuastion, wanting nothing more than a good night's sleep followed by a fabulous weekend with my visiting boyfriend. Shortly after receiving a diamond ring and a remarkable lifetime offer from a certain someone, however, I got what you could call a second wind.

The result? That sleep-deprived gal somehow managed to call most everyone in her phone book, staying awake 'til 2 am recounting the engagement story detail for detail. I'm sure I called each of them back the very next morning, at Bradley's urging, to go through it just once more. (A guy really only gets the proposal as his very own shining achievement...why not let him milk it? B must have heard my telling of the tale at least a hundred times that weekend.)

Two years and 470 days* of marriage later, I'm amazed at how much has changed since then and how quickly it's all gone by. We're having so much fun and I'm still pinching myself - and staring shamelessly at the ring.

In a very tenuous segway, something that hasn't seemed to go by quickly has been the road to the White House.

Tomorrow I'll cast my third presidential vote. Long lines and mud-slinging aside, I find the whole process so exciting. And so much like Christmas - I just want to know now!

Hope you're planning to vote as well. For my Palmetto state neighbors, check your precinct and registration at SCVotes.org.

Happy voting and happy Monday!

*Don't worry, I didn't calculate that by myself. The Knot takes care of that for me. I've got free time, but not that much.

November 1, 2008

A few of my favorite things


Sweet Ashley tagged me to list just six of my very favorite things. I've actually given this a lot of (non-blog-related) thought lately, hoping to narrow down the most meaningful ways to spend my time. It's a lot harder to do than it sounds...here goes!

1. Bradley and Blue. We may be crazy, but I love our little household. Sometimes I worry that it's unusual for us to so thoroughly enjoy just hanging out. I mean, shouldn't we be inviting more people in to our ridiculous, irrational house o' fun? That's something I hope to become more intentional about in coming months. I am, however, thrilled to enjoy myself so completely by doing so little.
2. My nearby and far-away friends. Notes in the mail, smiles as I walk to my desk, sweet voice mail messages when I'm too sick to call back, emails at just the right time, a lunch or dinner to take my mind off of every little thing - from top to bottom, I've been blessed with incredible friends. The ones who have known me since braces and bangs, those who met me before Bradley did, and the fabulous folks I've met since we moved to Greenville - each of you play such an important part in my life and my happiness. Thanks for letting me into your lives. (And for consistently updating your pictures on Facebook - y'all know that's my favorite peek into your world!) Wish I could have each of you on my street; wouldn't we make the most fabulous neighborhood?

3. My family. Raised me, see me through thick and thin, still think I'm amazing. How that is possible, I'll never know. I'm so fortunate to have parents who are also really great friends - to one another and to me. I appreciate them for a lifetime of family dinners, unfailing patience, vacation memories, much-needed braces, absolute belief in me, always answering the phone when I call and never blinking at my crazy stories. (The picky eating I developed against their wishes and best attempts to teach me otherwise, I promise. Those weirdos can even allow their food to touch. Bizarre.)

4. Reading. I could sit in a hammock, in my bed, on the beach, in a recliner or on the floor for hours each day and read. Blogs, books, magazines, journals, biographies, travel guides, shampoo bottle labels - it really doesn't matter. It's the fastest way to entertain me and the most fun I can have in an instant. It's equally relaxing, stimulating and informative. I should probably become a librarian when I retire. I may need to work on my inside voice, though...

5. Doing what I "should" do. While I'm not a fan of doing things simply because I have to or I'm expected to, the feeling I get afterwards is pretty remarkable. For example, I rarely feel better than I do in the gym parking lot after a workout. Or bragging about how I got up at 5:15 to hop on an elliptical. (That's a true story - twice this week. It's ok if you're shocked; I am too.) Checking something off my to-do list is a dorky thrill for me and clicking 'send' on a project I've been working on is always a relief. I hate cleaning but adore a sparkling house, laundered sheets and an organized closet. So, as this list winds to a close, I'm about to do just what I "should" be doing right now - cleaning for our open house tomorrow.

6. Dreaming. In every sense of the word. I'm the world's best and most appreciative sleeper. Left to my own devices, I could easily sleep ten hours a day. I'm always happiest after a full night's sleep or a quick afternoon nap; therefore so is anyone who has to hang out with me. I also enjoy dreaming by imagining what our life will be like in five, ten, twenty or fifty years. Will I be have my own little PR (or stationery) shop? Be a college professor? A writer? Retired and addicted to pasta? Living in that gorgeous house with a huge porch downtown? Spending a year in a glass-bottomed hut in Bora Bora? Answering the phone for Bradley's furniture company? Wrangling seventeen childreen or just one? Hard to say. My eight and a half ideal hours of sleep each night give me lots of time to explore the possibilities though. Not counting naps on Sunday, of course.

Honorable mentions: teaching our 4-year-old class each Sunday, Christmas ornaments, Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, monogrammed stationery, monogrammed table linens, clean sheets, a good thesaurus, new journals, recording Bradley-isms, pretending I can sing, broken-in jeans, hot showers, pedicures, Febreze, lip gloss, naps, holding hands, holding babies, Clemson football, Clemson colors, Clemson people, Clemson's campus, old-school family pictures, rewatching favorite childhood movies, gelato and Diet Cherry Coke. Whew.
P.S. The title of this post is a definite reference to a favorite childhood movie, The Sound of Music. Add in Annie, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Cutting Edge, Shakespeare in Love and With Honors and you have the perfect recipe for a 1990s Anne movie marathon, from 3rd grade to graduation. Anyone in?

What are your favorite six things? I tag Shelley, Kristen and Elizabeth.

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