Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Isn't For Tweens

I love October.  It's my favorite month.  I love that with October comes the big changing of the seasons, the crisp fall weather, and the hint of the upcoming holidays (without the stress).

I also love Halloween.  Coming up with an awesome costume idea...deciding who you'll trick-or-treat with...and the culmination of the Halloween holiday in the form of a ginormous sugar high!

Halloween is a great time for a kid - the candy, the costumes, the fun.  It's also a great time for parents - dressing your kids up in costumes that you pick, enjoying that magical time before the boys want to dress like Freddie Krueger and the girls want to dress like pole dancers on spring break.

But...what about those of us who fall between these two groups? 

I'm pretty sure that at 30, I'd get some strange looks if I showed up for trick-or-treating without a kid.

But, on the other hand, we don't have kids ourselves to buy costumes for and take trick-or-treating, and we don't live in a neighborhood where we get to pass out candy for little ones. 

We're in that funny in-between stage of life.  No Halloween parties to go to, no trick-or-treating, no excuse to purchase excessive amounts of candy.

Today, I broke out of the "tweens" and embraced my inner child.  We had a Halloween party (for kids) at work today, so I got creative, made a costume myself, committed to it, and had a rip roaring good time as I walked around my office in costume.

I'm not sure when I'll be dressing up again, and I'm pretty sure nobody took me seriously while I was "in character"...but today, for a few brief hours...I was Pippi Longstocking!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nostalgia Isn't For Everyone

I'm feeling nostalgic today.  Days like this seem to hit me out of nowhere - a movie on tv, a song on the radio, something I see in a store - literally anything can suddenly whisk me back to the days of my youth.

I had a lot of that today.

It started with discussing Halloween at work, which I suddenly realized is only a few days away. 

I love Halloween - especially when I take a few minutes to think about some of my favorite Halloween memories.  It's great to remember favorite costumes, Halloween parties at school, trick-or-treating with friends, and the joy of dumping out the loot at the end of the night to compare what we'd collected before beginning the grand negotiation of who would trade what candy for what other candy.  It's like being a kid again.

Later this evening, while watching one of our recorded shows, I saw a commercial for It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown on tv and was delighted to discover that it was right then!  For some strange reason (insert sarcastic tone here), Ben didn't share my enthusiasm, so I quickly clicked the "record" button and flipped to something that would be equally entertaining for both of us. 

A little while after the Charlie Brown discussion that ensued (and yes, I did negotiate at least one viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas this winter), it came out that Ben never saw Goonies.
Goonies!  With Chunk, and Sloth, and One-Eyed Willy, and slick shoes, and Sean Astin when he was young and adorable! 

Isn't it an unwritten rule somewhere that anyone who grew up in the 80's had to see that movie?

Anyway, I realized that there is an appreciation for things past that some people have and some people just don't understand.

There are actually people in the world who, if asked to watch Back To The Future, or The Princess Bride, or When Harry Met Sally, would be inclined to say "no thanks, I've seen it already" rather than (my personal tendency) "sure, I remember the last time I watched that...."

These are the same people who don't understand my desire to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or White Christmas, or A Christmas Story multiple times each December.

So, today, as I remember favorite movies of the 80's, and think ahead to Halloween, and the whole holiday season, and snow, and tv specials, and yummy food, and re-watching my favorite Christmas movies, I'm thankful for my nostalgic tendencies. 

(And if there are ever little Whaleys, we all know which parent will be only too willing to sit down to watch endless loops of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Christmas Carol, and any other silly Christmas move they can think of.)

(I should also note that it's possible that after writing this blog I'll have to systematically watch all the movies that I've just mentioned.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

My College Years

This weekend is Homecoming at Elon University.  All week I've been seeing comments on Facebook from college friends getting ready to head back to North Carolina to re-live the glory days of our youth.

While I can't make it to Homecoming (nor have I made it to a single Homecoming since I graduated almost a decade ago), I realize how much Elon and the friends I made there have meant to me over the years!

So, I've taken a few moments to look back on some of my favorite memories from college:

Freshman year in West dorm with a certain someone across the hall constantly saying "I'm so glad y'all are here" and "Weeeelcome to Eeeeelon!"

Going through Recruitment and meeting all my wonderful AOII sisters!

Sophomore year when I stayed in West dorm for another year and lived with my darling Stictoria!

Junior year when I moved into a house with 3 great friends!

Getting to be a Rho Chi during Recruitment - one of my favorite Elon memories!

Eating in McEwen and then smelling like it all day.

Shopping at Wal-Mart at 11:30 on a Tuesday night.

Having campus shut down because of a "snow storm" and getting to have a snowball fight instead of going to class!

Contemplating with my friends whether the grounds crew really did spray paint the grass on campus.

The Lighthouse, West End, and Brewballs.

Schlepping across campus to Moseley to find something to eat on the weekends.

Daring to get Little Caesar's and hoping that I wouldn't live to regret it!

Saturday nights on the Greek Courts.

Sorority formals, mixers, and crush parties.

Late night runs to Cook-Out for mint Oreo milkshakes.

Of course, there are a million memories, a million inside jokes, a million reasons to look back on my 4 years at Elon and smile.

So, this weekend, as the lucky ones head back to pay homage to our Alma Mater, I'll be wishing I was there too, missing my dear friends, and being thankful for my wonderful college years!

Go Phoenix!

P.S.  For those of you who didn't go to Elon - sorry about all the inside jokes and references...guess you had to be there =)

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Letter To Me

This evening I was delighted to have dinner with 2 of my friends from high school.  Of course, we spent the better part of the meal reminiscing about the "good old days", sharing funny stories, laughing about teachers we tortured, and discussing how different middle school and high school students are today.

This got me thinking...looking back, it was fun, life was generally easier, and the things that I worried about now seem like a day at the beach compared to the stress of adulthood.

So, taking a page from friends who have also done this, I'd like to write a letter to my teenage self.

Dear Erin,

It sounds trite, but don't sweat the small your energy.  I know things may seem overwhelming and stressful now, but live it up, because while being an adult is great, there are hardships that you never would have imagined and one day you'll look back on your teenage years with longing and nostalgia.

Enjoy the sports you play - you won't always be able to run around the tennis court and it turns out that teaching tennis lessons will be one of your favorite memories.

Enjoy the simple pleasure of coming home after school, grabbing a snack, and settling in to watch Pop Up Video on VH1.

Enjoy being a size 12, because it will never happen again.

I was kidding about feeling nostalgic about your teenage years - I wouldn't do high school again if you paid me...being a grown up is soooo much better!

Keep making goals and working hard to accomplish them - it is a habit that will serve you well.

Don't stress over your grades - you do fine, you go to college, and you do well there too.

Don't stress over your friends - while you hold onto a precious few, most of your lifelong friends will be from college and after.  When you find a great friend, be sure to tell him or her how much they mean to you.

Don't worry about the boys - you have some good experiences, some bad experiences, but you ultimately meet and marry the love of your life, who also happens to be the best friend you've ever had.

Don't be ashamed of your morals, your loyalty, or your ethics - they will serve you well.

Keep your enthusiasm.  Laugh, especially at those who waste their time being petty. Find something that you love to do, and do more of it! 

Enjoy your family - you have no idea how much you'll miss them down the road, and how you'll wish that you had every moment of life with them on tape.

Don't be afraid to take advice, especially from Mom and Dad - I know you don't want to give them the satisfaction, but sometimes they really do know what they're talking about, and they really do want what's best for you.

Don't be afraid to speak up.  Whether it's for something that's right, or against something that's wrong, people will respect your opinion.

Pay cash - credit cards are the devil!

Eat more vegetables!

Learn to change a tire!

Take a cooking class - you'll wish you weren't completely useless in the kitchen someday!

Take a business class - even though you hate it and it's ass numbingly dull, the knowledge won't hurt!

Take time to look around, relax, and take a breath.

You really do have a blessed life, made more interesting by a few challenges, but it's a hell of a ride!

Cheering you on,

An Older, Wiser, Chubbier, You

Friday, October 14, 2011

Belated Thanks...Again

Commutes to and from work can be such a pain. 

You're sitting in your car, working your way through traffic, trying to fight off the road rage that threatens to take over every time some jackass cuts you off (or is that just me?), wishing that you could just be there already!

We've all been there, and I'm back there after 4 blissful years of having no commute (one of the many perks of living where you work).

Now that I'm in my new job, my drive has become a big part of my day.  I had to figure out the fastest route to and from my office, which is about 20 miles away - one that avoided stand-still traffic on the freeway, a million school zones where you're forced to creep along at 20 miles per hour (enter road rage again), and curvy back roads that will be a disaster this winter.

I have found my route, I know it by heart, and now my time before and after work can be spent not stressing about when to merge from one lane to another, or how long I've been in the car, but doing one of my favorite things - singing.

I don't claim to be a great singer.  Fortunately I can carry a tune and don't seem to make dogs howl if I break into song.

One of my favorite places to sing (and is often the only place that I dare do it) is in the car.  There's something so great about finding a song on the radio (one that I actually know the words to) and singing along at the top of your lungs.  

Yes, I am that woman that you pass by in your car, who is just bopping along, happy as a clam, singing her heart out to whatever is playing.

It's something that I missed getting to do in California - it's somewhat difficult to have a sing-along that doesn't include barnyard animals or the Itsy Bitsy Spider when you've got 2 small children in the car with you.

So, while I could be bitter about the fact that I spend the better part of an hour getting to and from work each day, I'm choosing to be thankful. 

I'm thankful that now I once again have time to relax, unwind, and sing to my heart's content!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Strange Movie Addiction?

I realize that I'm not the most active person in the world.  Yes, I walk the dog, I occasionally exercise, but in general, I'm a fairly laid back person.  Some of my most relaxing moments happen while sitting in front of the tv, idly flipping channels in search of something interesting...or better yet...something I've already seen.

I'm afraid I have some kind of illness - I LOVE watching movies that I've already seen. 

I love them!!!

Ben and I joke (ok, he complains, but I like to pretend that he's just joking around) that whenever Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Couples Retreat, or Did You Hear About The Morgans? come on, I have to watch them.

Even as I'm typing this ridiculous blog, I'm half watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding on one of the movie channels...again.

Ok, now here is the really crazy part...I somehow find it more appealing to watch a movie that I've already seen on tv rather than pop in the DVD.  

Just the other day, I was watching Something's Gotta Give (and yes, I realize that I have a thing for romantic comedies) when Ben, quite innocently, asked "Don't you have this on dvd?". 

I had to stop myself from saying "um, yeah, but it's on tv!" when I realized how asinine that would sound.

Is this some kind of a disorder?  Is it laziness?  Is there a serious shortage of new and exciting things to watch?  Do I need to learn to turn off the tv?

Whatever the I sit...again...watching a movie that I have not only seen about 2 dozen times (not counting the flight back from Greece when I watched it about 4 times in a row)...and that I happen to also own.

There is definitely something wrong with me!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Seems Strange, But I'm Thankful

We've had quite the emotional week.  It was a week of changes, adjustment, acceptance - things that are never easy under the best of circumstances, which unfortunately, these aren't.

After much deliberation, discussion, and yes, raised voices and harsh words, we have made a huge step with my dad...we took the keys away from him.

It's a long story, but suffice it to say that it's been coming for a few months now, and Monday was finally the last straw for us. 

While attempting to take a "shortcut" to meet a friend for lunch, my dad got on the freeway (which we had asked him not to do anymore) and ended up getting lost several communities away from where he was trying to go. 

Confused, he called me (at work) and I spent 30 minutes on the phone with him (in front of my new boss) trying to, first of all, figure out which way he was driving, and then get him turned around and headed in the right direction with simple instructions on how to get where he was trying to go.

So, by the end of a very exhausting and emotional day, my mom, having to be the "bad guy" (leaving us out of it so that JB wouldn't feel like we were ganging up on him) informed my dad that he would not be driving again. 

Whew, and yikes!!! 

I'd seen my parents go through the process of convincing my grandparents to stop driving, but somehow it feels completely different when you go through it yourself.

Dads are supposed to drive.  It's what they do.  Going out to dinner?  Dad drives!  Family vacatoin?  Dad is behind the wheel!  Teaching you how to parallel park?  Totally Dad's job!

Not anymore.  He has been retired, and now we're all left to deal with the emotional fallout that comes with this milestone.

It means so much for what we're dealing with from here on out - a huge loss of independence for my dad, a huge responsibility for the rest of us, the challenge of keeping him social and active...the list goes on.

As with most things, the days, weeks, and months leading up to the actual taking of the keys was a lot worse than actually doing it.  It was like taking off a Band-Aid or getting a shot - the talking about it was worse than the act! 

Now that it's done, and we don't have to worry about him leaving his car running in a parking lot, or turning off the car without putting it in park, or driving on the freeway when he doesn't know where he is (yes, we've already dealt with all of this), I feel like I'm finally wrapping my brain around this whole Alzheimer's thing.

Before this, there were symptoms.  Of course.  We saw changes, we knew he was progressing, but life was still very much the same. 

This is different.  This is tangible.  Somehow now it's even more real.

It's taken me a few days to sort out my feelings about it...sad...guilty...relieved...

It seems strange, but I'm actually thankful for a few things today.  I'm thankful that JB thought to call me for help when he got lost.  I'm thankful that he got to lunch and home safely.  I'm thankful that my mom was able to stick to her guns and do what she knew was for his own good.  

Mostly, I'm thankful that it's done!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Our Crazy Woof!

Meet our dog Mia...

She is mild mannered...(yes, this is Molly trying to ride her in the backyard)

Even though she can be a little needy...

And for some reason thinks that she should sit like a person...

She can be fairly laid back...

And although she appears to have a foot fetish...

And pouts when we leave...

She's loves to help with my blog...

We sure love our sweet girl!

She is a complete dope, makes us laugh every day, is a rather convincing guard dog (until someone says hi to her, at which point she goes belly up), and has been a great addition to our family. 

Even though she barks when someone rings a doorbell on tv, she tries to attack squirrels, deer and rabbits when we take her outside (yeah, she's vicious), and has gas that can clear a room in under 10 seconds, she's our Miss Woof!

I honestly don't know what we'd do without her (aside from wake up without a cold wet nose poking our armpits in the morning).