Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Merry!

Merry Christmas my sweet blog stalkers.  
I hope you are enjoying a cozy morning with those you love the most.  

Tomorrow my family is off to Lake Placid for a few days of wintertime fun!  Will be back soon with pictures from our adventures up in the snowy North.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nashville Gets into the Holiday Spirit

            Just your average flashmob at Nashville International...check out the security guard getting down with her bad self to Mariah Carey's classic!  Hope you're enjoying your Christmas celebration wherever you are.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Peek at our Tradition

            Every family has its own traditions.  The little things that remain the same each year and remind us that there are certain things that can be counted on despite the uncertainties that we face when we walk out the front door each day.  Within the walls of our homes, surrounded by the families we've been given or the families we've created, our traditions bind us to that which is safe and familiar.  That which is home.  And since I spill my guts to y'all all the time, I thought maybe I'd let someone else do the talking this time.  And that someone else is my 18 year old brother, Scott, who wrote this essay for his high school English class last year.  I think it sums it all up pretty well.  (And for those of you who read this excerpt last year in our Christmas card, sorry for the repeat!)

Scott Ball
Period 7
Slice of Life Memoir

            Being the fourth of four children, I have seen my siblings mature and grow and move away from home for bigger and better things.  Although I remain at home with my parents, there is seldom a time where all six of us are gathered together at home again.  Once a year, however, all of my siblings and I are lucky enough to be at home with our parents to catch up and enjoy one another’s company.  At Christmas time, my family seems to go back in time about ten years.  Each child naturally assumes his or her respective role in the family as if no one had ever left.  My eldest sister, Katie, acts as the motherly coordinator of anything and everything that the rest of us do and say.  The second eldest, Julie, becomes the social comedian that keeps everyone laughing.   Finally, my brother Andy and I constantly argue about nothing, and compete to prove who is the alpha-male, when in fact we wouldn’t know what to do without one another.  It is at this special time of year when we can all be together and truly be ourselves.

            My family spends the Christmas holiday by upholding old traditions with extended and immediate family, all of which make it easy to forget one’s problems and simply live in the moment.  These traditions range from big to small, important to insignificant.  Like potato soup on Christmas Eve or sitting on the front steps in age-ascending order on Christmas morning, as we await the presents that lie under the tree in the living room.  Or watching claymation Christmas movies in the days leading up to the big holiday, slowly setting the mood and getting into the Spirit. 

            Yet, there is one simple tradition that seems to stand out above the rest – a tradition that encompasses the morals and values of my family on a very subtle wavelength.  It is a ritual that may appear to a visitor as immature and silly, but feels just right to us.  After savoring every last drop of Katie’s potato soup, saying goodbye to our cousins, and getting home from the 11:00 church service, the six of us take our places on a small couch next to the tree – one that is probably meant to seat two.  Huddled on top of one another like little kids, sit a 25 year-old teacher, a 23 year-old graduate student, a 19 year-old college sophomore, and a 17 year-old high school junior.  Between us, sit our two parents.  As we sit scrunched together on the unforgiving small couch, my dad reads The Polar Express aloud.  You may be thinking how weird we are, acting like we are toddlers rather than coming of age young adults.  But this is tradition, and it is bigger than a simple picture book.

            For anyone familiar with the story, the Polar Express emphasizes imagination, faith, and friendship discretely intertwined with a plot that any young child would salivate over.  As the main character ventures to the North Pole aboard a fantastical dream-train, the four kids and two parents lose themselves in the story, and in one another’s company.  A small statement, that no matter what is going on at work or school, no matter how far away we live from one another, or no matter how old we get, some things will never change.  A small 15 minute activity never meant so much.  For that short amount of time, as we laugh and joke, and enjoy the story, we are simply and perfectly happy.

            With this in mind, my family has granted me the invaluable opportunity to venture out into the world and take risks, for at the end of the day I can always come home to those who love me.  It is the small things such as this that shape my personality and actions on a day to day basis, and in turn, mold me into the person that I have become today.

If you hung in there for that long...thanks for reading!  Merry Merry!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes...

            Now that finals are over and the grueling 13+ hour drive back East is complete (don’t worry, I had a Tori Spelling book on my Ipod), I can finally settle into this Christmas spirit I’ve been getting glimpses of over the past few weeks.  It is hard to believe that Christmas is only three short days away…especially since I have not purchased a single gift or nailed down the ever-anticlimactic New Years plans.  But instead of getting stressed and allowing myself to succumb to the Grinch-like attitude of those crowding the King of Prussia Mall, I am going to do just the opposite.  I am going to succumb to my urge to sing Christmas carols in the car at the top of my lungs while sipping a gingerbread latte and expertly navigating the bustle along Lancaster Ave.  I am going to read a book that I actually enjoy and not worry about the fact that I have absolutely no idea where life will take me over the course of the New Year.  Cause what I do know is that though I have the power to create my own happiness, much of life is far beyond my control.  So why not grab some eggnog and the Glee Christmas soundtrack and enjoy the ride?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Four Down, One to Go

            It’s hard to believe that I have put away yet another set of textbooks and graduation and the real world are only a semester away!  But the end is in sight and it feels oh so good.  So last Tuesday night, after wrapping up our last final, my school friends and I got together for a little celebration.  Now, it was nothing crazy but a little cookie decorating and a lot of champagne drinking was exactly what we needed!  And though the combined sugar/champagne buzz was heavenly while it lasted, the crash came hard and quick and we were in bed by 10pm.  Ohhhh to be a grad school grandma J

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Snowy Sunday in the South

            This is going to be a post of few words.  Instead, I will let my pictures do the talking because a) my brain is not functioning due to excessive amounts of useless information about swallowing that are occupying space that is usually reserved for (somewhat) eloquent and witty thoughts that end up on the blog and b) the first snow has a way of blanketing even the busiest of cities and most stressful of days in a quiet that can't really be described in words.

"I am younger each year at the first snow.  When I see it, suddenly, in the air, all little and white and moving; then I am in love again and very young and I believe in everything."

~ Anne Sexton

Happy Snow Day!

The Hotel

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DIY Happiness

"People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you are fortunate.  But happiness is the result of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world to find it.  You have to participate relentlessly."
~Elizabeth Gilbert

            Being the wishful thinker that I am, I tend toward the mindset that if all of the pieces would just fall into the right places, I would be perfectly, blissfully, happy.  If only I could get this one wish or change that one moment that set in motion the chain of events that led to some sort of unhappiness.  So when I read this quote, I got to thinking about happiness.  Sure, I know that in theory, we are the creators of our own destiny, blah, blah, blah but I don't often think about the fact that if we really want to be happy we may need to take matters into our own hands.  

            So that is just what I did tonight.  Recently, I have felt like I am balancing a stack of textbooks on my head and holding my breath until Christmas.  This whole eat-sleep-breathe speech and language thing is taking it's toll and I desperately needed to go out and join the living.  And when I did, I discovered that life is going on in a big way out there.  I hadn't even realized it but the Christmas season is really here.  There are lights on branches, candles in windows, and trees lined up under tiny white bulbs just waiting to be picked.  And there is no better place to experience the magic of the holidays (and a friend's birthday!) than at the Opryland Hotel.  This place is Christmas on speed and I'm not afraid to say that I am addicted.

            So though it may not have been good for my GPA, my Christmas outing was good for my soul.  Instead of giving into the misery that is finals week in grad school, I went out searching for my own happiness and discovered if you just open your eyes and look around a little bit, it's not all that elusive after all.  

P.S. Can you believe how the Opryland Hotel has bounced back since the big flood?!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


            Calm down...I didn't see T.Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal, though I am studying in the cozy coffee shop where they were spotted just this past week.  But I am desperately hoping for a sighting even though I think it is stupid that they are dating and she is way to young and he should be my boyfriend instead.  Don't judge me.

             But back to what was really spotted here in Nashville this morning.  SNOW FLURRIES.  Yep, it's snowing here in my Southern city and I am loving it.  So what if it is not sticking and will probably be 50 degrees tomorrow.  Right now it feels Christmas-y and festive and I am soaking it up.

Gotta run!  Off to catch some snowflakes on my tongue.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering...

            I know that Thanksgiving has come and gone but I wanted to just share a few pictures of my family's celebration at my favorite place in the world.

And I also promised my Aunt Kim that she would get a shout on the blog and I couldn't let her down!  

            Though we were only there for a short 24 hours, we soaked up every minute of our cozy Fox Point holiday.  Meal preparations were filled with the typical banter that I expect is present in every household in the minutes leading up to the turkey carving and consists of arguments about how many more minutes the turkey needs in the fryer (yep, I said necks and proud of it), where we should put all of the food, and who is sitting next to who at the big long table.  To top it all off, the night ended with a massive family turkey coma, during which relatives of all ages were sprawled across every inch of living room carpet eyes glued (or closed in the case of the men) to the tv as Will Farrell pranced through the streets of New York City looking for his dad.  Talk about getting into the holiday season.

Sorry so blurry!

            And though I loved all of our Thanksgiving, I think one of my favorite parts of the holiday is the grace.  This is always my grandfather's job and though he gets made fun of for being a little long winded, the man says a mean grace.  The rest of the Thanksgiving celebration is hectic and filled with the happy hum of cousins and dogs and football on tv, but during those few minutes we all are quietly reminded of what is at the core of Thanksgiving.  And that is my favorite part...besides the sweet potatoes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

Yeah, it's cold.  I thought I moved to the South to get away from this whole Winter thing!  But no...It is FAH-reezing.  I know, I know I am a yankee and I should be able to tough out a few days in the 30’s but when you live in a drafty old house (current inside temp is in the 50's) and forgot the call the landlord to have the heat turned on, toughing it out is not all that easy.  In order to compensate for our lack of central heating, the ladies of the hotel have been snuggled up to this little baby…

I’m not kidding when I say we have been moving it around and positioning it just a few feet from our toes at all times.  I even considered bringing it into the bathroom and pointing it toward my towel-clad body as I shivered my way out of the shower this morning.  Luckily, help is on the way in the form of the gas man who promises to come tomorrow afternoon and heat up the joint.  Until then, I plan to stay bundled in a snowsuit and planted directly next to the fire hazard space heater.  

I hope YOU are warm and cozy where ever you are!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Give a Little

Have you come out of your food coma yet?  Or does the tryptophan still have you comatose on the couch?  If you are one of those insane people who waited in line at the mall this weekend for those deals that you just can’t pass up, I give you a lot of credit.  Even I can’t stand the madness that is the King of Prussia Mall on Black Friday and coming from a girl who really, really loves her shoes…that is saying something. 

Traditionally, we think of this time of year as a season for giving but let’s face it, we’re pretty into the getting around this time too.  So I wanted to give you all a few ideas for ways that we can all give a little something back since, when we stop to think about it, we all probably have a lot more than we actually need.  Check out two suggestions for ways that you can do your part below:

Soles4Souls.  Like I said, I am a girl who knows the importance of fancy footwear and this is a way that we can help make sure that everyone has something to cover up their toes this winter.  According to RealSimple magazine, there are 2.9 billion (yep, billion) pairs of shoes sitting in the closets of women across the country.  And while some of us are hoarding away all of these shoes, others have none.  Soles4Souls is a charity that distributes shoes to over 300 million children and 1.5 billion adults around the world.  So clean out those closets and drop off your gently used shoes at a collection box in your area (

Project H.O.M.E.  Now this may be more suitable for hands-on help from you Philly folks since it is based here in the city, but they will certainly accept that cashmonayy from where ever you are!  Started by one of TIME magazines 100 Most Influential People, Sister Mary Scullion, Project H.O.M.E. works toward ending homelessness in the Philadelphia area through education, employment, medical care, and affordable housing.  My dad and I had the opportunity work with Sister Mary to help pack boxes of Thanksgiving dinners for Philadelphia families the other night and talk about getting some perspective.  Sister Mary is an amazing woman and the work she is doing is really making a difference so check out this website to learn about how you can help!

Happy giving!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


             I am not always the best at counting my blessings and being thankful for all that I have in my every day life.  Sure, I know that I am blessed beyond measure and really don’t need a single thing but I usually don’t take the time to stop and think about it.  So though it is cliché and blogs all over the internet are exploding with posts about being thankful, I am jumping right on that bandwagon.

            In the spirit of the holiday, I figured I would share just a few of the things that I am thankful for.  And prepare yourself, this is gonna be long (and somewhat random).  Cause when I stop to think about it, my life is busting at the seams with blessings.  Check yourselves out at number 3 J

I am thankful for…

My roommates.  Honestly, I don’t know what I did before I moved into the hotel and was surround by these fabulous people.  I am the kind of person who does not like to be alone.  I get lonely easily and though I find myself pretty entertaining at times, even I get bored of me.  So I have felt so blessed to share a house and my life with these six girls.  They are some of the funniest, kindest, loyalest (not a word), best people I know.

My new-found love for addiction to coffee.  I swear I couldn’t stomach the stuff just two short years ago but it has been my study buddy for all of grad school and has helped me keep my eyes open during even the roughest of three-hour lectures.

The blog and it’s readers.  I started this little blog almost a year ago as a way for family to see what I was up to and to give myself a record of the ups and downs of life as a grad school grandma.  But it has turned into much more.  Now don’t worry, I am nowhere near quitting my day job and joining the blogosphere full-time but it has been a pretty cool experience thus far.  And to all of you who check in with the blog, leave sweet comments, and send me emails to let me know that something I said resonated with you, I am so grateful.  It can be hard to put it all out there and I sometimes wonder how all of my gut-spilling will be perceived, but you have made it totally worth it.  So basically I love ya.

Nashville.  It is the backdrop to many of the stories that land on the blog and it is such a special city.  If you haven’t been, go.  You won’t regret it.  And I promise there is more to it than Paradise Park and the Grand Ole Opry (but those are pretty great too).

The fact that I get to be in grad school.  That’s right, I said “get to.”  With all of my bitching and moaning about schoolwork and stress and a lack of a social life, you might think that I hate this whole putting-off-the-real-world thing.  But really I am learning a ton and enjoying what I’m doing and in the grand scheme of things that is pretty important.  Don’t get me wrong, I plan on soaking up every happy hour and free Sunday afternoon that I can get after graduation but in the meantime, its not all that bad.

Seatbelts.  After spending a semester working in the hospital, much of it in the Trauma ICU, I have seen the difference that just wearing your seatbelt can make.  Seatbelts are sexy.  Wear them.

These people.  I tend to get mushy about my family a lot on this blog so I’ll keep it short.  I love them.  And they love me even though I’m a sore loser and talk in accents at the dinner table.  So I feel pretty lucky.

Here's hoping you have LOTS to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!