Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Favorites: A New Favorite Team

I'm gonna go ahead and do it! I'm going to jump on the UT bandwagon and show my new colors--Orange and White! Go Vols!

I didn't really have any college team loyalties before and I'm not a particular fan of some of the things that being a Vol might represent to others in the SEC. I don't intend to paint my face or get season tickets (yet) or trash talk (much) with other people about their team. I'm not going to necessarily know the players' names and who has done what on or off the field. I'm just a UT Mom who wants to get into the fun of having a college team to cheer for. So, I'm going to start wearing my orange (or my grey t-shirt with an orange T) and learn the words to Rocky Top (it really is a catchy tune)!

Daniel is going to the game tomorrow, so I can't wait to hear his impression of being in Neyland Stadium with 100,000+ people for the first time! And I will look forward to experiencing it for myself in a few weeks!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Update from the nest

It's been over a week since I left Knoxville to come back to my nest. And yes, it has felt very empty at times. But I have also been reminded of many ways that my life is full:
  • My mom inviting me over for dinner the first night I was back
  • Friends inviting me to hang out on a Friday night making bracelets
  • More friends having a birthday get-together
  • My sister calling and texting to check on me
  • Erica conveniently having a birthday last week (I got two invitations out of that one)
  • A job that I enjoy, working with people who care about me
  • Being able to exercise and keep those endorphins pumping
I could go on and on. And I'll confess that I haven't spent the whole time counting my blessings, but when I have remembered to do that, it has shown me how rich my life is.

The other thing I have done to fill my time was to "rearrange" some things in Daniel's room. I didn't throw anything much away (only a tiny pile of truly unnecessary papers) and just straightened and moved some things around. I took pictures to text to Daniel and have already gotten his stamp of approval. Turns out his room is going to be getting some use as a guest room with some friends coming from out of town in the next couple of weeks, so that was my motivation.

I moved the trophies from this shelf and created a new "Graduation" vingnette
All of the trophies found a new home on top of the bookshelf

As for the college guy, he seems to be doing very well and is getting acclimated to his new surroundings. I'm still trying to find the right balance of communicating with him (I am erring on the side of not calling/texting very much so that I'm not a "helicopter" parent), but he seems to not mind when I shoot him a quick text or email and has called with a long conversation to tell me about his first day of classes last week. In fact, we're planning to talk tonight, so I'm looking forward to hearing more of what he's been up to.

I think the communication thing has been the most difficult thing about this transition. For almost ten years, I've been used to Daniel being at his dad's house for a two or three nights every week, so not having him here every night hasn't been that hard. But not hearing about his day, every day, and not having the normal conversations of daily life with him, I miss that a lot. But we'll find a new groove and with today's technology, we definitely will be in touch more often than when I was at college (once a week, long-distance phone calls and occasional letters were our form of communication).

In fact, that brings me to one last thought:  I have felt this great need to apologize to my mom for how I must have acted when I went to college. I remember saying good-bye without tears and being so excited to get involved in college life. And they left me to drive 1000 miles back home to New Jersey! I now know how hard that must have been for my parents (and sister), so since they read this blog, this is my public acknowledgement that I was a silly college kid who has now seen the error of her ways! I love you Mom and Jeanette! Thanks for walking with me as I take a turn being the parent with a college student excited to leave the nest!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Five Alive!

I think there used to be an orange juice drink that was called "Five Alive," and the rhyming words are appropriate and seem like a perfect description of Erica right now.

I love it when kids turn five years old! They are so fun with their imaginations and new skills and it's just a joy to be around them. So, I am so excited that Erica is FIVE today!

When Erica was born, I probably popped a few buttons, figuratively speaking, since she was my first niece and her birth was very much anticipated in our family. I am still a proud aunt and love to hear stories about how she has made new friends at school and wanted to walk to her classroom on her own during the first week.

Erica's exuberance is very contagious. The other day, her mom made some soup with kale in it and Erica asked for seconds. The next day, I went by to get some kale to cook for myself and when Erica came to the door, she said, "Are you here to surprise us?" I said, "No, I just came to get some kale." Erica said, "I LOVE KALE!"

I can't wait to celebrate being five with Erica tonight when we go to the place where they have "the best lentil soup!" And then again on Saturday for her princess party! It's fun to be five!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ain't nothing you haven't prayed about

The empty nest transition is still very fresh and new. I anticipated it being hard and it's about like I figured. I think I'll bounce back soon and will get into my new groove, but I'm also allowing myself to have some transition time.

The week before Daniel went to college, I was talking with my neighbor across the street. I told her that Daniel was going to be leaving soon and I'd have an empty nest. She and her husband have a high school senior, as well as some older kids. She said to me, "Yeah, I told Alvin we're fixin' to have an empty nest. Of course, Titus (older son), he keeps runnin' back, but we'll be empty soon, too."

She assured me that if I ever needed anything, they are right across the street and she reminded me that they keep an eye on my house for me. As I we were parting ways and I was walking back across the street to my car, she said, "But it ain't nothing you haven't prayed about, right?"

I agreed and went on my way, thanking God once again for the great neighbors I've had for the past sixteen years.

Monday, August 19, 2013

College Freshman

It's official:  I am the mom of a freshman in college! Everything went very well with the move-in over the weekend and Daniel is getting settled into his room in North Carrick Hall. He seems to be very happy, and that's the way this mom wants it to be!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reverse Nesting

The final countdown has begun. Daniel will move in to North Carrick Hall at UT-Knoxville on Friday! Hard to believe, but I think this week it suddenly feels "real." Whew!

Last Saturday I needed to do some housecleaning and also needed to wash Daniel's new bedding and towels for his dorm room. When pregnant women are getting ready to deliver a baby, and they get into cleaning and preparing all the baby clothes, it's called, "nesting." I decided that what I was doing was "reverse nesting," which makes sense to me, since I'll have an "empty nest."

Last week, on our first trip to Target for college shopping, we got all of the things pictured above. When we got to the check out and the cashier rang it all up, I handed him a stack of Target gift cards that Daniel had received for graduation. We had a rounded up guesstimate of how much the cards totaled, but I fully expected to have to hand him my debit card to cover the balance due. When the cards were all scanned, we were amazed to find out that we were left with a couple of dollars and change on one gift card. The cashier and the lady behind us in line were just as amazed and I came away with a thankful heart for God's provision through the generosity of our friends.

We made a second trip to Target today to get a bookshelf, some storage bins and other miscellaneous items. Yes, we do know that there are Target and Wal-Mart stores in Knoxville, but we've heard that the stores are crazy on Move-in Day, so we're trying to get what we need here. Of course, there will be things that we realize Daniel needs once we get there and we'll deal with the crowds.

I know that many people are praying for us this week, and I'm thankful. I know that God's grace will be sufficient for us as we make this transition and I am looking forward to finding a new "normal" as the mom of a college student.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Washington Heights

My dad's youngest brother, Randel, lives in NYC, up in the Washington Heights neighborhood on the very upper West Side of Manhattan. He has lived in that area for many years and has a dog-walking service, so he knows a lot of people in the neighborhood.

When we first got off the subway and met up with Randel last Friday, he was finishing up a dog-walk and after we took the dog home to his apartment, Randel took us on a little walking tour of the neighborhood. We walked past his apartment complex and over to Ft. Tryon Park, which is a beautiful area overlooking the Hudson River. It was one of the forts that George Washington had when he was fighting off the British during the American Revolution. Unfortunately, Washington lost some battles up there and the British occupied New York until the end of the war, but we know how the whole thing turned out. And old George got a big bridge named after him, too!

For lunch, Randel wanted to take us to one of his favorite hang-outs, an Irish Pub called Le Cheile (pronounced, "La Shay," meaning "Together"). It was fun to talk with the Scottish bartender and another Irish bartender and waitress and to see Randel among his neighborhood friends. It reminded me of the TV show, "Cheers," where "everybody knows your name"!

Randel moved to NY when I was a teenager and once I turned 16, I was allowed to take the bus by myself into Manhattan and Randel would meet me at the Port Authority (eventually). We'd spend the day walking around the city and taking in museums or eating in Little Italy. It was fun to have some time to see Randel and to have Daniel experience some of NYC with his great uncle while we were there.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top of the Rock

I think I have found my new favorite thing to do in NYC:  Top of the Rock (Rockefellar Plaza). It's not as tall as the Empire State Building, but to me, the trade-off of twenty more floors is that you're just less than twenty blocks closer to the middle of Manhattan when you're at Rockefellar Plaza, so you can still see all the way to the George Washington Bridge.

The day we went, it was a beautiful, clear day, and I wouldn't recommend spending the $27/adult to go up if it wasn't that kind of day. But on a day like we had, it was money well-spent to see the views from the top! I'll let you see for yourself.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

How to look like a tourist

When I was growing up outside of NYC, I learned early what tourists looked like, especially in the big city. They usually had a camera strapped around their neck and were looking up at the skyscrapers with their mouths gaping open. If I had friends who were visiting, I always told them to not get out a big subway map and look at it on a street corner and reminded them to "play it cool" so that they didn't stick out like a sore thumb. I took pride in being a "city girl" and loved to "help" others learn how to blend in among the crowds.

Evidently, I had a momentary lapse in judgment or have lived away from the metropolitan New York area for way too long, because on my first day back this past weekend, here's what I looked like!

I am almost embarrassed about posting this picture, here and on Facebook! And I definitely embarrassed my son by posing and asking him to take it! I should have known better than to pose with someone on the street in Times Square. It was obviously a whim, but as soon as I got over to her (him?) and the draping of the flag (improper, I must add) and the other props were added, I knew it was a mistake and that there was going to be money involved. I didn't have any small bills, so I had to plead innocence and thankfully walked away without anything bad happening or being chased down the street. 

So, as a lesson to all tourists to NYC:  Maintain your steel-faced resolved when walking through Times Square and do not give in to a whim when you see the people dressed like the Statue of Liberty or Spider Man or any number of other Disney characters on the street! Just keep walking!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kindergarten Eve

"Twas the night before Kindergarten,
And all through the townhouse,
Every creature was stirring,
Even Aunt Nette came around.

As she walked in the door,
Everyone was upstairs,
"Come up here, Aunt Nette,
And see what I will wear!"

Of course she went up
And as she ascended,
There on the landing
Was a girl ready for school,
Just as God had intended.

We went to the playroom
So we could see clearer,
"Take a picture, Aunt Nette,
Of my outfit in the mirror!"

Of course Aunt Nette complied,
And the pictures were taken.
I love this sweet girl,
And know she was ready
As soon as she awakened!