Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mixed Emotions


The past 2 weeks have been full of mixed emotions like none other. A very devastating and embarrassing incident happened within my extended family last week. Even though it was all over the local news for 1 day, I don't quite feel like sharing the details in this blog. If you don't already know what it is, then just ask me offline. The events of that "incident" (which is what I will call it for now) and the people involved in it have been weighing heavy on my heart. Even though life continues to be full of blessings for me, the incident has kept me on an emotional roller coaster...going back and forth between peaceful and sad and angry quite frequently.

We had to bury my Mimi (my maternal grandmother) yesterday. In some ways it doesn't seem real. It just can't be real. She was such a lively person, and she had many more good years left in her. Even though she spent most of her time lying on the couch and talking on the phone (haha), her personality was bold and vibrant. Everyone kept saying "She was so in tact for an 81 year old." And she was! Her mind was very strong, and her body was holding up well. This was no way for her to go...I have to push those frightening images out of my mind from "that day" or else I will start to cry.

She paid the ultimate sacrifice for taking care of her mentally ill son for all those years. She knew that no one else could or would take care of him. He couldn't care of himself, and so there she was...stuck with him. She love him, yet hated him. She wanted him to be taken care of, but she hated the burdens that came with her responsibility. He was so sick in the head. It was draining to be around him for 1 hour...even when he was on meds. He had been off meds for about 1 year, and he was starting to lose it BIG TIME. In fact, he had just been released on bail and was awaiting a court date (for a separate charge) when the "incident" happened. I can't imagine how painful her daily life was with him. Not that she was an angel...but who is? I don't have kids, but I will one day (as long as my one, lonely ovary pulls through for me...) I just can't comprehend any of those mother-child emotions that must've been going through her heart and mind for all those long, tough years.

It's just sickening...I don't want to think about it anymore. Just know that it has been very hard, very surreal, hurtful, crazy, emotional...and yet, I knew this was going to happen. I said this was going to happen. I actually spoke the words, and we all knew it might come to this. There was just nothing we could do to stop it. She didn't deserve to go this way, no matter how mean she was at times. I learned yesterday during the funeral service that she touched many lives. I learned that she was a fun and very loving friend to many people. It made my heart so happy to hear those things. I NEEDED to hear those things because that wasn't my experience with her.

We should all live life to the fullest and be the best people we can possibly be. If there's anything good at all that could come of this, it has reminded me to cherish every moment and every waking breath. Life goes on for us right now, and we need to make the most of it.

The past few days have been tough, but like I goes on. We've done some "normal" things around the house. Holding on to a routine is comforting through these times.

Yard Sale @ The Carroll's'! Sean mans the driveway while we wait for my dad to arrive.
Our neighborhood hosts community yard sale only twice a year. We have been waiting to unload our junk for 6 months. Of course, we had to go to Murfreesboro for the funeral, so my dad came over and negotiated with all the greedy buyers for us. I was so thankful for his help!!! Dad helped us make about $160, so now we can go buy a heater for Sean's car. He's going to need it very soon! The cold winter weather is creeping in on us.

After a day of mourning, you need something to cheer you up. Why not a ZOMBIE!? Next week is Halloween - my favorite holiday. We each have costumes that require special makeup, so we decided to test out my makeup applying skills. I think Sean is going to look like the best zombie ever.

Sean also grilled amazing steaks last night, as usual! We had bone-in ribeye steak seasoned with Cavendar's (for you dad!) and roasted asparagus sprinkled with parmesan, all paired with a delicious Cabernet. The cab was a gift from our housewarming party back in June. I wish I knew who gave us the bottle! It was a 2002 Oberon from Napa. No joke - It was quite possibly the best wine I've ever tasted. Bless you and thank you, whoever gave us that bottle! I want to go buy a whole case of it, but I'm scared of the price. Sean needs a new heater...I can't blow our money on booze.

Speaking of Booze...come to our Halloween party (cleverly titled BOOZEFEST - get it?) on Saturday @ 8:00.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Gift-giving is a weird thing. It comes with so many expectations. I LOVE to give gifts, as I'm sure we all do. But there are many things that factor into this simple act of kindness.

1) Money - "I would love to buy _____ for my mom, but it's just too darn expensive."
2) Relevance - "Will he/she like what I'm giving them? Or will they think it's useless and stuipd?"
3) Fairness - "Well, I didn't get something this nice for his/her spouse, so I need to find something cheaper."
4)...and my all-time favorite...Do they already have it? - "Does my dad already own ____?" No matter what the item is, the answer to that question is usually YES. He does own it. But this question also applies to other people.

The month of October is a big gift-giving month for me. I have 4 birthdays to support this month. Not to mention, Christmas is right around the corner. (Have you started shopping yet? Because I have!)

Anwyay, the whole point that I wanted to make is that buying gifts can be stressful even if we have the best of intentions.

My sister-in-law Emily is one of the easiest people to buy gifts for. For starters, I know her very well (and I'm married to her brother, so that gives me an advantage). If you are close to Emily at all, you probably know everything there is to know about her, as I do...and this makes it very easy when shopping for Emily. Actually, I never have to make a specific trip to the mall for Emily. Usually, I'm already out shopping at a store, and I'll see something very "Emily-ish" that catches my eye. She is always the first person I check off my Christmas shopping list every year because I pack away gifts for her all year. In fact, we already have 4 presents waiting for her in The Christmas Closet. She is always WAY ahead of everyone else. (Sorry, other relatives. I wish you were all this easy to shop for, but you just aren't...)

The Easy Gifters (like Emily) are a blessing and a curse at the same time. You see, I find so many things for Emily that I actually have to STOP myself from buying gifts for her. During Christmas season when we're out hunting for the Dad gifts (which are by far the most difficult to shop for), I'll spot yet another gift for Emily! It's very distracting and frustrating, and not very fair to the dads or to anyone else.

October 9 is Emily's birthday, and like I said before, we already have a pile of gifts packed away for her. I also had a few gift ideas tucked away in my brain. But for some reason, I thought to myself "Oh goodness...what if she HATES everything that we give her? And what if she dreads our presents every year?" Poor thing, we have never stopped to ask her what she actually WANTS. And so that's exactly what I did this year. I asked her what she wanted, and she kindly told me about a necklace that she found on

**Sidenote** If you haven't been to then please do so IMMEDIATELY. Give yourself about 30-60 min to browse the website. The site offers handmade gifts from crafters and artists all over the country. This stuff is way better than anything you'd find at Target. Think of your favorite boutique on Main Street, and then multiply it by 1,000 and put it online. Voila! You have Etsy - a site full of brilliant, beautiful arts and crafts. The items are reasonably priced, and if they aren't, you can simply ask for a discount. The beauty about buying directly from the artist is that you can make custom requests and hopefully negotiate a price. And readers, this isn't the kind of crap you find at the flea market. These handmade items will blow your mind! I've found gorgeous dresses, jackets jewelry, pottery and pictures that are all one-of-a-kind. I also love the idea of supporting starving artists (mostly because I wish that I were one myself...) It's a comfort to me knowing that I'm paying someone directly rather than giving my money to a big corporate mess.

So, here is the necklace that I purchased from It's a chain with 2 map pendants. The one for Emily had a map of CMCH, New Jersey (where Emily was born) and one of Chicago (where she lives now).

Not only was the gift perfect, but my online transaction with the artist behind Chellas Collection was spectacular. We sent each other messages using Etsy's online messaging system, and Julie was so responsive and thoughtful. She personalized Emily's gift, handled the shipping and timed it with her birthday, and included a personalized note. She even sent me a follow up thank you note in the mail! For someone who shys away from online shopping, I truly enjoyed this experience, and I was glad to give Emily a gift that she really wanted.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pumpkins and Stuff

Hello, again! How about those Vols, huh? I couldn't believe their win over Georgia this weekend.. More importantly, I can't believe I'm talking about football like this. But, it was EXCITING to see one of our teams WIN! (You hear that, Titans? W-I-N? Let that word sink in for a while, Collins....) I was also glad to see Tebow back at it this week, cleaning up some tiger blood in Death Valley. Poor baby bonked his head...but I think he's better now.

Saturday was cold and cloudy. I started off the day by going to Jessica's baby shower. It was a really nice shower, and I was glad to see Jess and her baby bump. They drove down to Tennessee for the weekend. Jessica's mom and Ryan were at the shower, too, so that was a nice treat. I am so happy that Jess and Ryan are expecting. I think I've mentioned this before, but I don't usually care when people are pregnant (I'm sorry, that seems so heartless...but true) So, I actually care about this one! Also, seeing Jessica during her pregnancy makes it seem a little less terrifying to me. She is happy, healthy and carefree - just like her normal self! (only with a little guy in her tummy). I still didn't work up the nerve to touch her stomach.

After the baby shower, Sean and I had ZERO plans. None. Nada. The afternoon was ours for the taking, which never really happens to us. We were thrilled! We ran errands around town, shopped for our Halloween costumes, and even got a milkshake! Sean has chosen to be the zombie version of Billy Mays (the OxyClean infomercial man who died earlier this year), and I will be going as Edward Scissorhands (one of my favorite Johnny Depp characters). Both costumes will require a great deal of makeup to create that "living dead" look, so we'll have to do a dress rehearsal one night.

In addition to costume shopping, I also pulled out the decorations and started transforming our home into a creepy haunted mansion. Ok, not really...I only DREAM about turning our house into a haunted mansion for Halloween. Maybe one day it will happen. For now, I'll have to settle for this cute little tablescape.

We were lucky to have my brother Trey spend Sunday afternoon with us. In addition to the decorating, we carved pumpkins and baked some delicious gingerbread snaps.

Trey's pumpkin is on the left. Look closely and you'll see that it's a pumpkin chomping on a smaller baby pumpkin. Sean's is the while pumpkin with the evil, toothy grin. And mine is at the bottom - the skeleton silhouette.

Check them out in the dark!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What a Wonderful Week!

So many great things happened over this past week, and I can't wait to share them with you. For starters, the weather has been gorgeous. (A teeny big chilly at times, but I can't complain...) It's hard to be in a bad mood when the sun is shining and there's not a cloud in the sky.

Sunday I enjoyed the weather by going on a 3 mile jog. I ran by my Nonnie's house and had a nice visit with her. She had been to Gatlinburg for a weekend retreat with her church group, so she shared some old-people travel stories with me.

I felt energized all week, and even made it into work super early one day. I've been challenging myself to stay away from sugars and dairy. I'm not a sweets person, but just having a piece of bread, cereal or even salad dressing can secretly add a lot of sugar to your diet. So, I'm choosing things that have no sugars or just 1 or 2 grams. Remember when I did that insanely healthy Gwenyth Paltrow diet? Well, I noticed that throughout the entire week, I never got shaky. By "shaky" I mean that feeling I get when I haven't eaten in a while. I was eating very little during the diet week, but never once did I feel like I was going to pass out. My guess is that I felt OK because I wasn't crashing - my blood sugar level was perfectly consistent (meaning ZERO). So, this week I focused on no sugars and no dairy in hopes that those elements would keep me feeling good. And I think it worked! Well, it worked until Thursday...but I'll tell you more about that in a minute.

First I want to tell you about our softball game. Tuesday night was frightfully cold. I think it got down to 42 degrees, and I was NOT in the mood to play softball. I had been spoiled by having 3 weeks off in a row (1 vacation and 2 rain-outs). We play 2 games each week, and this week was at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. I really just wanted to go home, clean house, hang out with Sean, knit and go to bed early. We lost the first game 16 to 6, but came back in the 2nd game for our FIRST WIN of the season. I don't know how it happened, but it was kind of exciting. Thank goodness I decided to stay for the games because otherwise our team would've had to forfeit!

Wednesday night we received an email that the rental house was in need of more repairs. The fridge wasn't cooling properly, and there's a NEW leak (separate from the one we repaired earlier this year). Wasn't I just saying that there's always something to spend money on??? One of us - either me or Sean - has done something to offend the Rental House Gods. We have GREAT tenants, though, so at least we aren't having to deal with collections or damages.

Thursday was Sherri's 30th birthday, and about 20 of us went to Dan McGuinness to celebrate with her. No sugars? No dairy? HA - I blew it. Cheeseburger, french fries, 4 beers, 1 lemon drop, and a bite of chocolate cake. By the end of the night I was bent over in pain from intense indigestion. And need I say, I did NOT feel good on Friday either...

Friday was busy at work, and don't forget that I had to leave the office to go meet the refrigerator repair man (who was 30 min late). But thankfully, he fixed the fridge while he was there, and we don't have to buy a new one. I worked late that night, and then headed home to my hubby where we shared a delicious dinner and had a fire in the back yard. We sat outside for about an hour. I was knitting, and we talked and stared at the glow of the flames. All of a sudden, the fox appeared! Sean and I looked at the fox, and he (or she) looked back at us. It was quiet for a moment while we sat there in anticipation of his next move, but then he quietly popped back into the woods. He never made a peep or a sudden move. It was haunting in a way, mostly because we could only see him by the firelight.

This morning the alarm went off at 6:50 a.m. Too early for a Saturday, I know, but not if you're going to a GARAGE SALE! Yes, we did it and I'm so proud of us. There's a sickeningly fancy neighborhood called Westhaven just up the road from where we live. They were having a multi-family garage sale, so it seemed like a good opportunity for our first garage sale go-round. I mean, who doesn't want to rummage through rich people's stuff? Westhaven is perfect...almost too perfect. With it's charming streetscapes, perfectly manicured lawns and quaint neighborhood shops, you feel like you've entered a Hollywood movie set. Their website actually says, " looked out of a storybook." No kidding! Go here if you don't believe me...but be warned: you'll end up feeling like a piece of shit. But hey, maybe I'm being too hard on ole Westhaven. Nice homes, nice people, nice garage sale...I'd probably live there if I could afford it. WHO AM I KIDDING!? OF COURSE I WOULD LIVE THERE! The garage sale ended up being a success - we scored a pair of lamps for $10, which we needed for our bedroom. We spotted lots of other great buys, but we just didn't need them: like-new strollers, couches that looked un-used, fashionable dining tables, rugs, Pottery Barn dishes, curtains, and table linens, Coach bags, designer clothes (all too small for me)...It was the most surreal garage sale I've ever been to. One of the sellers was dealing change out of a Coach fanny pack.

Sherri's Top 30

Since Thursday was Sherri's 30th birthday, I thought I should give her a little shout out. After all, she is one of the greatest friends of all time. I've known her for 6 years, but it seems like we've been buds since forever. I'm bummed that I forgot to take pictures at her happy-hour birthday party, but I'm sure you can visualize the pink silly string that was stuck in her long brown hair!

Thirty Things About Sherri:
1. She has a great laugh
2. Her handwriting is really small
3. She can never remember how old her younger brother is
4. She's allergic to foods that resemble private parts (melons, nuts, and cucumbers)
5. She likes chocolate cake
6. She appreciates good linens
7. She has pretty hair, which she meticulously styles every morning
8. She doesn't like to call people on the phone
9. She has a giant umbrella. No really, it's the biggest one I've ever seen. People call it a tent.
10. She likes Neal Diamond
11. She does not like concerts
12. She has the TV guide memorized
13. She is missing her gallbladder
14. One time she licked my face
15. One day she decided to quit smoking
16. She also stopped biting her finger nails
17. And she lost 50 lbs.
18. She was born in Wyoming
19. She loves the beach
20. Her dog is Mobie
21. Her 2 best friends are named Jennifer
22. We share the same middle name
23. She is a good listener
24. She loves white cheese dip
25. She's very tidy
26. She's a great storyteller
27. She is loyal
28. She hates Vincent
29. She went to a David Hasslehoff concert
30. She's addicted to peppermints