Friday, July 29, 2011

Becoming a BIG

You guys remember me telling you that I joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, right??? Despite my lack of posting about it, I most certainly HAVE been continuing the program. I thought it was high time I share some thoughts about my role as a "Big" with you.

Let me take you back to where it all started...
If you know me well at all, you're probably aware that I'm not one of those kid-crazed "let me hold your adorable baby" types. (gag. sorry, babies.) At one point in my life I vowed to never have children, but much to my mother's delight, I've since retracted that statement. I'm now warming up to the idea of eventually becoming a mother. Hanging out with my friends' children helped me realized that they aren't all diseased ridden brats...they're actually kinda cool.

I struggled with some pretty tough things throughout my own childhood (like depression), and there were people in my life that helped me along the way. They spent time with me, listened to me, and simply cared about me. Most importantly, they were good women who allowed me to partake in their lives and be influenced in a positive way. Just inviting me to hang around them helped keep me going, and helped keep me out of trouble. Looking back I realize that these ladies were my mentors. They didn’t solve my problems, but they somehow made me feel like tomorrow was worth living for...just because they were THERE. I hope to have the opportunity to do that for other kids.

I considered signing up for the foster system, but it didn't seem like the right fit for Sean and me. Then an email came through one random afternoon asking for a donation to BBBS. I contributed, but then started searching the site for more information. It seemed like something I'd really enjoy - 1 to 2 hours per week of one-on-one time with your "little." They encourage free or low-cost activities, and even provide a free pass to the YMCA during the weekly visits.

Just one week following my orientation, I was matched with my "Little" - a 10 year old girl who lives less than 2 miles from my home. I was STOKED to be located so close because I knew it would allow easy access and more opportunities for us to spend time together.

The Getting-to-Know-You stage has been moving rather slowly. Most kids are skeptical at first, so it's to be expected. She doesn't say much at all and hasn't yet opened up to me, but I do think she's enjoying our activities. I suspect some of the silence is her trying to feel me out and figure out how to interact with me. The other part is being a 10 year old girl, going through the crucial tween phase under less-than-desirable circumstances. There's also been a slow down in communication since she and her mother went back to Chicago for 2 months. They returned home just this week (in time for the new school year) so our weekly visits will resume.

Over the next few weeks we'll be painting pottery, going to a Nashville Sounds baseball game and visiting the county fair. Things we've done in the past include: walks in the park, visiting the Parthenon at Nashville Centennial Park, drawing/crafting, making dinner together, watching movies, painting nails, and rollerskating. (And yes, that was scary.) She also taught me how to hula hoop!

For her sake, I do wish that she were a happier kid. It's hard watching her struggle with enjoying life. It's hard watching an innocent kit be jaded and bitter at such a young age. I wish that I could show her that life is a gift and it's beautiful even though there are hard times. I want to be silly with her, sing along to the radio while we drive, goof around and laugh together. Despite my trying, she hasn't let those walls down yet. Or, maybe that's just not who she is or who she wants to be. Regardless, it's not about what I want out of the's about what she needs. And even though it feels as if we aren't really connecting, I have to believe that our time spent together isn't a total waste. I hope that I'm helping her in some way, like the women in my life helped me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


For the past 4.5 years I've been confined to a dreary cubicle for 40 hours a week.
That's about 2000 hours of dreariness each year. YUCK.

This week I had the opportunity to upgrade to a window seat. AHHHHHHH, it's bliss. Check out those rays from the SUN and the rolling hills and the TREES! I feel so alive. And yes, that's Kate getting a sun bath. She loves the new digs, too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Practically Perfect

'Maters are growin' in the back yard. Must be summer for sure.

After a couple of 100-degree days, we were pleasantly surprised by last Sunday's weather. I stepped outside with Murphy around 7:30 a.m. and realized it was going to be a GORGEOUS day. Sure, it was probably 85, but that's considered freezing during the month of July.

We sipped coffee and enjoyed a light breakfast on the patio while reading papers and magazines. Sean declared it was a bit too warm for his liking, but I was basking in the sun. We ended up taking a drive out to the "country." It's actually just 15 minutes away, but Leipers Fork is a small (very small), rural-ish community that's sure to remind you of a simpler time. Green rolling hills, fences and farmland, away from all the McMansions and over-crowded developments...

This is what greets you as you enter Leipers Fork:
Don't ask why. Because I have NO idea. It's not like either of those shows were filmed here or based on this community. I guess it's just some "bling" for their street?

Murphy joined us on the Sunday drive and LOVED catching new smells as his head hung out the window.

We rode back into town for a late lunch at Puckett's. BLT's on the patio, and Murphy managed to find a few leftover cornbread crumbs on the sidewalk to snack on.
Now it's Saturday. A full week has passed, and we were greeted by another beautiful weekend day. Score! "The Boys" (as I like to call them) and I went to the P-A-R-K, and then headed over to the farmer's market for a stroll. Okay, who am I kidding!? We weren't strolling - we were on a mission. We went for one thing only, and it wasn't fresh produce. We were there for DONUTS. A good friend tipped us off to the best donuts that ever existed (thanks, John!), and he was not lying. They were amazing. If I try really hard I can still taste them.
Freshly fried donut, fresh air, a nice breeze, and sense of community...perfect.
And I'm already planning another round of BLT's for lunch today.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 seen in South Jersey...

I should've shared these with y'all a long time ago!
Pictures from our trip to South Jersey (NOT to be confused at all with North Jersey).
This is Sean's hometown. Where the roots are. Where there's lots of love, lots of charm, and the occasional greenhead. *more on greenheads later

Sean spent some Q.T. with his father. In between all the man-to-man talks and trips to Home Depot, they played with dad's new toy...

...a full refurbished 1956 Dodge Power Wagon. Ain't she purdy?

And in between all the fence building, there was also little of this...

One of the best things about being on the shore? Fresh crabs! This place was amazing. Just a little shed located on the dock in one of the inlets. They steamed us a bucket full of fresh crabs with loads of seasoning. I may or may not have licked the top of my crab shells clean before cracking them open....

MMMmmmmmm MMMMMMMmmm...
Dear Colonel Sanders,
Now THIS is what we call finger lickin' good.

Emily was able to coordinate a visit home, too, so we could all be together.
Sharing some sisterly love at The Lobster House

The parents treated us to a big feast.
When visiting The Lobster House, you must remember to deploy the patented Tom Carroll method of "super speedy seating and eating." To purchase an instructional guide, please e-mail:

Our view of the shore, Whale Beach.
Somewhere between Strathmere and Sea Isle City, I think.

It's known for being less crowded.
Yes, you've got privacy from crowds of Shoobies and shore goers, but you pay the price in greenheads.
Greenheads are giant flies with green heads. They'll bite you and drawn blood. We call them horse flies in the south. These suckers are giant, mean, blood-sucking machines.
note: the item in the photo above is NOT a greenhead. It's a seagull. But they're almost the same size.

When you visit Whale Beach, you have to park here:

It's a research station, better known as "the paint chips."
I think they're kinda cool.

No trip home would be complete without a visit to the boardwalk...and some Mack & Manco's pizza...and hot Johnson's caramel popcorn...and Kohr Bros. ice cream...
Yes, we ate them the same less than 2 hours...Don't judge!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Remembering to Dream

I need to remind myself to dream. No, not the kind of dreaming you do at night - the kind that is supposed to motivate you and keep you striving for more.

Hi, I'm Stacey, and I'm in a rut.

Dreaming is challenging for me. Sure, there are fantastical places I'd to see and experience, and there are accomplishments and careers that I'd like to explore. But, I don't allow myself to think about those things. I shut them out of my mind as quickly as possible because I believe it's a waste of time.

I used to, a lot. It was called high school. I spent countless hours dreaming about escaping my small town and seeing the world, living on my own, finding my freedom and finding myself, starring in movies, finding happiness, opening a bakery, falling in love, becoming a photographer for Rolling Stone or National Geographic...

...but somewhere along the way I became jaded. Too jaded. Girl, get your head out of the clouds! Life just started happening, and jobs happened, and mortgages happened...

Don't get me wrong - I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far. My life is wonderful, and I have so much to be thankful for, but I can't help mourning those days when I felt like the sky was the limit. Nothing is easy anymore. I know too much about the bad things that can happen in life, the consequences. I have responsibilities to uphold. I went from being fearless to completely fearful. I guess reality sank in and I grew up.

Still, there are times like this - like these "rut" times - where I need to unleash my mind and let my spirit soar instead of locking myself down into the dark rut places.

So what if dreaming is a waste of time? Today I will try to dream. I will try...