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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Decking the Halls, Part I

'Tis the season, friends. We're well into our advent here. Well into the season of mailboxes exploding with greens, candles in the window, spotlights on the door. Just this week, Baby Sister was an angel in the Kindergarten play and the boys beautifully banged on drums at the Christmas concert.

We're making lists for Santa and and decking our halls. It is magical and festive. It is also the season of travel (10-11 hour drives are blessedly behind us!) and school projects, baking and wrapping gifts.
We are keeping a close eye on all the changes happening fast and furiously at our new house. Meanwhile, we're hanging the greens in a rental house for what we hope is the last time in a long time!

Still not remotely close on Christmas cards, tho. They might be "Happy New Year and We're Moving!" at this rate. Meanwhile, I'm sending Christmas cheer and these festive pictures your way.  Next Christmas we won't have such tall ceilings, so we decided to get a very big tree this year. It might be our prettiest one ever. 

There is some debate about my mailbox decor. Actually, less debate and more hysterics that it appears a bit overfed. Or perhaps ready to attack. But I love it!

Other cause for great celebration is that Big Sister actually spoke to Santa for what we think is the first time. I'm sure it is a first to have the four of them sitting with Santa.

I promise to update you on the new house shortly. It is coming along swimmingly! Every time I'm there I am more excited about moving in. Thinking about being in boxes once more gives me hives, but I cannot wait to be settled and start to make it our own. It is a Christmas dream of sorts to think that this time next year we'll be baking cookies in this kitchen. And not just because the kitchen counters are going to be stainless steel.  Bless her heart - Baby Sister asked if that scaffolding was the bunk bed I'd promised the girls!  Ha!  She's surely caught onto my vintage/industrial/salvaged decor at the shop.

Things at the shop are going well, too!  It has been a great problem to have that sales are busy enough that I've had to scurry around like a little elf ensuring that there's plenty in stock. Just this week, Baby Sister (still dressed as an angel) helped me get ready for a busy weekend of shoppers. 

Not trying to rush the season, but I confess I'm eager to get the "to dos" done and mailed so we can all relax together. Enjoy not traveling, roasting marshmallows in the fire, games and puzzles, casual dinners with friends, lazy pajama days, mulled wine, and maybe a little touring around Music City. 

We're celebrating the peace of the season. Reminiscing and looking forward. 

More soon and always, xo.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Go Spartans!

I flew to Virginia for a quick overnight last week for a tiny version of my 25th high school reunion. There were a few folks who missed getting in this shot and even more who were there in spirit.

It was a gathering of friends who've known each other since we were children. Since we were younger than many of our own kids are now. We enjoyed each other through teenage years, college and those innocent, early days of careers and families. Christmas cards, the internet, shared international postings and all too infrequent visits keep us connected. But never enough. So to spend 6 or 7 hours dedicated to reconnecting was fantastic.

I don't know when I have spent that many hours smiling so hard. If laughter is the best medicine, we are surely cured and inoculated for a very long time to come.

We always felt that ours was a special class. Diverse in interests and activities (and in my case, aptitude!) but always eager to celebrate each other's gifts. Among us were class leaders, academics, sports stars, writers and a few dramatic players. But not many wallflowers. We've pursued equally varied lives after graduation. It was fun, then to learn which of those childhood talents we've kept and sometimes passed along to our offspring. Or turned into avocations or professions. I mean it as a compliment when I say that many of us haven't changed all that much. (I can still high kick with the best of them. But that didn't come up...Maybe next time.)

I feel richly blessed that the very people I was devoted to 25, 30 or more years ago are ones I'm still proud to call my friends. This is exactly how we would have predicted it at our high school graduation. But now I know how fortunate we are to remain close. To share not just a past, but to be each other's cheerleaders across miles and years. To still be rooting for the same team.

I am incredibly proud of these people. Those in that room and those who we missed that night, too. They are all very successful. Sure, many of them preside over important and interesting ventures. But that hardly ever came up (unless we were trying to brag on each other's behalf!). What kept coming up was their pride in fulfilling personal lives. Their happily busy days, dedication to children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, creative endeavors. And a genuine interest and joy in being together.

Laughter filled that room. We glowed. With a warmth and admiration that will sustain us until our next visits.

If success is being so happy and grounded your own life that you eagerly celebrate others, I know some of the most successful people on the planet. And in exchange, the years have been very good to them.

Those 25 years have seen us study, travel, marry and take new and exciting jobs. We have endured disease and loss, rebuilt and renewed ourselves and welcomed an extraordinary number of babies into the world. There are teenagers among us now. There are also a few hard-earned grey hairs, wrinkles and reading glasses (And maybe it is because I was young for my grade, but I am still battling blemishes. It wasn't all perfect, that night!). But we wear it well. Life has happened to everyone in that room and etched character onto those faces and bodies in the most beautiful ways.

So to the Class of '89, I send my many thanks for a wonderful evening. For ongoing friendship. For laughter that still bubbles up when I think about it days later.

We always were a great team. And while it stings a bit for this Drill Teamer to say so, I am really happy to be your cheerleader.

Monday, October 20, 2014

All Shook Up

The best of our Fall Break was spent in Memphis (and Tupelo, MS too. It was a real Elvis tribute, our break.).

I still haven't told you about our travels to Chattanooga or all about the new house but meanwhile, you must get yourself to Memphis. Walk, drive, take a personalized plane. However you go, you'll love it.

If you live in Nashville (or maybe anywhere) Memphis gets a bit of a bad rap. So expectations were low but determination was high.

BBQ at Rendezvous was amazing. The boys are now fully indoctrinated in the art of ribs. They're becoming so Southern.

Let's just say Baby Sister took this snap of us with our legendary waiter.

The ducks paraded for us at The Peabody.

We toured the Lorraine Motel and the balcony at Room 306. It was like traveling back in time.

We rode a bus with Rosa Parks.

Later we drove to Oxford and toured Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's home and then onto Tupelo and a beautiful drive home along the Natchez Trace Trail.

But. Of course, in Memphis we went to Graceland.

Maybe it is our having just purchased a hip 1950s house, but we felt right at home here.

Life's funny like that. A year ago (or let's be honest, really ever) I would not have thought the Mister and I would seriously be lingering in Elvis and Pricilla's kitchen getting decorating ideas.

I fell in love with the Mister all over again when we were swooning over the TCB (Taking Care of Business - In a Flash!) room. Call our contractor stat. We want this recreated in Nashville.

I'm not a big fan of white damask, but the sheer size of his living room couch is enviable. Truly, this couch sums up Memphis. Maybe a little beyond its prime but somehow amazingly cool and very okay with itself. Wow. If that's the case, I think I aspire to personify Memphis!

As always, unsung heroes of the trip are adjoining hotel rooms, elevators, breakfast buffets and a swimming pool. To the King, and all of Memphis, for all we learned and enjoyed we say, "Thank you. Thank you vuurry much." 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Party of Four

I took these little pumpkins out over Fall Break. Even if we were wearing shorts and t-shirts, it felt very seasonal to pull a wagon through cornstalks and hay bales. To try our hand at pumpkin bowling and sort through lots of gourds and pumpkins.

We bought a few pumpkins and roasted seeds. Biggest Brother and Baby Sister made their own wagon ride at home. 

And I've been hard at work making our home welcoming to the season and lots of guests, too.

We're magnets for pumpkins and gourds lately so there are lots more just since I took these pictures.

You can bet I'm already thinking how we'll decorate our new house before long. It is all so exciting and well ahead of November, I'm very thankful.  xo

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Treasure Hunting in Nashville

The Mister and I've had such fun treasure hunting in Music City lately. Every find is better than the last. This city has so much character. In the people and places. It is full of hidden gems. Our favorite parts of Nashville are the quirky old bits (Quirky Old Bits also being a great name for a band) which are lovingly updated. 

So as we've settled into our new town, we've happily been on the hunt for the best of Nashville's cool old charm.

We found this beauty straight out of Darren and Samantha's Bewitched kitchen.

We fell for this 1955 RCA Victor.

And dozens of vintage Jack Daniels barrels stacked two stories high.

We stumbled upon these retro bathrooms that make rainbows envious.

This old pub is oozing with history. If those walls could talk, right?

I adore this atomic age restaurant booth.

We loved it so much that we bought it. 


These goodies and so much more are parts of our new home! Can you stand it?!  I wish you were here to walk through it right now. Just like us, you'd scream and squeal when you see it. You might even do a little dance of glee. It is the coolest. We're in love. 

Our new house is a complete departure from the train line Chicago suburbs and a pre-war flat in London. The kids may get architecture degrees by osmosis.

This gem needs some TLC and a few updates so we're not moving for a while (whew! I'm in a bit of denial about boxing up our life again), but we spent a fantastic afternoon there today exploring inside and out. Much as the small people loved the house itself, the enormous backyard really won them over. They have an especially neat part of the house to call theirs. A pocket door, that blue bathroom and maybe even one big bunk room!

In what's becoming the story of our life, finding this house was unexpected but equally meant to be. We're thrilled to carry on its legacy from the original owners and their four children.

So thanks for reading along for this new chapter. It promises to be full of vintage goodness. And a whole lot of Jack Daniels. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Crystal Clear Occasion

On a beautiful fall morning fifteen years ago, we started our life together. Who could have imagined the adventures ahead?

I love looking at this picture and seeing us beaming with delight (my grin perhaps also mildly enhanced by pain killers. But that's another story!) and thrilled to be in each other's arms. I feel that way in multiples. I am still tickled that I get to say, "my husband" and not be playing Mrs.

And who knew that one day digital photography would let us cut out that band member's car from the photos? (Someday I'll actually attempt that fix.) Or that a little girl or two would wear that veil for her First Holy Communion? That we'd travel across the country and throughout Europe with a growing gaggle of little people? All part of God's plan - for which we're grateful.

This year's traditional anniversary gift is crystal. Crystal ball or not, I see many, many more years of happiness with my very best friend, captain of our ship, and love of my life. Happy anniversary to the best! Also the most handsome.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Rooting for History

Or should that be roses for the Roosevelts?

Everyone seems to be immersed in the Roosevelts these days. Us, too. Last night we were all camped out in front of the tv watching Ken Burns begin to unfurl American history through the Roosevelts and we'll be there all week.

The stories and pictures of Theodore Roosevelt's early life were made even more special because we toured his childhood home in NYC this spring. That was the Mister's idea. Hearing narrators echo what the kids already knew and seeing the home just as they'd left it a few months ago was fantastic. 

I must get out a gaggle of teddy bears for our next viewing party. Particularly since our house is so light on taxidermy. But a teddy bear trophy room? We could absolutely pull that one off.

Glued to the tube, albeit for good purposes, wasn't family night, though. We celebrated that a few hours earlier by going to the movies (about an annual event for our crew) to learn a bit about sea life thanks to Big Sister's latest interest. 

Quite possibly the most entertaining part of going to the cinema with our brood is seeing what Baby Sister wears. I'm so sorry I didn't get pictures. Like her mother (who packed comfy socks and a light blanket), she likes to get really cozy to see a flick. So we weren't too surprised to look over during the previews and see Baby Sister getting into her pink fuzzy bathrobe and slippers. ha!

It takes a lot of brain power to learn. Might as well be comfortable doing it, right? And that little lovey is her Kindergarten's "Special Person of the Week." Special indeed!

What could be more special than Roosevelt himself on the value of life in a busy household: "For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison."

Hooray. And three cheers for things going "reasonably well" -- I love it.  xo