Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hooray! Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. (It must run in the family because my grandparents got married on Oct. 31st.) I hope yours is as candy-filled and spooky - or as non-spooky - as you want it to be. Xoxo - me

PS) The Shining is not only the scariest movie of all time (in my ever so humble opinion), but is also one of my very favorite movies. Dark and twisty? Check. I love this movie so much, I've already made mention of it on JASTG here. In the comments, my bff noted that I didn't mention "a certain 8th grade play." So, here goes nothing... In the eighth grade, my drama class put it on as a play and I played Wendy the wife. Oh, and Shawn Frye (only my crush for the entire year) played my husband, Jack. Sure he tried to kill me in the play, but I also got to kiss him on the cheek. Score. My screams actually brought out our school's concerned principal and superintendent. I hope Jenner is aware those same mighty lungs are accompanying him tonight to a haunted house.

Again, Happy Halloween!

{image via MSN}

The things I will do when I'm old...
and a few things I will not.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I've been doing a lot of thinking these last couple of weeks... about the things that matter and the things that don't. Probably like many of you, I often get worked up over the little things that, in the grand scheme of things, really don't mean diddly squat. (Man, I sound just like my mother.) So, lately, when I'm trying to find some perspective, I ask myself what I will think when I'm an old, kooky lady. (I plan to be kooky when I'm old, fyi.)

So, without further adieu...

Someday when I am old and rocking in my chair (Madonna music playing in the background, slippers on my feet and a stiff drink in hand) and looking back on my life, I think I will...

- miss my mother and long for the conversations about life we once had.

- tell stories about all the silly, brave, hopeful, sad things I once did for love.

- be incredibly grateful for every single laugh line and the masterpiece they've left on my face.

- steal my grandchildren's candy. (Let's just be honest here.)

- stay in bed all morning reading... with only my coffee and the rain to keep me company.

- treasure my youthful memories of staying out until 4am feeling reckless and alive, but gracefully and happily trade them in for raising a family, loving one good man and getting to know, year after year and wrinkle after wrinkle, who I really am.

- travel the world rocking the babies that people forgot to love.

- eat a lot of pie.

- dance... a lot. For no reason. Even when it makes people uncomfortable. They'll say, "Old lady's dancing again in the supermarket." And they'll be right.

- wish I had loved myself just a little more when I was younger.

When I am old and looking back on my life, I know I will never...

- wish I'd been less generous with my heart.

- wish I'd made more money.

- wish I'd been skinnier.

This list is only just beginning, but I've been thinking about it for days. I want to challenge myself to think about the things that will matter to me when I am old, the things I want to cultivate and care for and the things I want to let slip away.

If there are things you would add to your own list, I would love to hear them.

{image via we heart it}

I love my family. {Vegas Edition}

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

For many reasons, I am a lucky, lucky lady. There is no bigger result of my luck than my lovely, silly family. As a unit, we've been through a lot. Losing my father broke all of our hearts and secretly I worried we'd never find the joy we once knew. However, somehow over the years, although there is never a day we don't miss him, we found our way back to happiness. Where there was once love..., it has remained. It has grown stronger and more resilient while our family has shifted and changed. Where my father once was, there are now two little boys. Where there were tears, there still sometimes are, but there is laughter and there is fun.

Moving to Las Vegas has been wonderful, but being separated from my family has been really, really hard on me. Want to know the upside? Missing them has just made me appreciate and adore them all the more. Proof? The night before they flew into town the week before last, I couldn't sleep. The excitement usually reserved for Christmas Eve is now saved for seeing my family. I can't help but think that's pretty cool.

This trip consisted of eating, drinking, telling stories, swimming, loving, laughing and being together. We took my nephews to Circus Circus where Max was crowned the big winner of the day and we watched a circus act or two... We went to The Excalibur and saw the Knights at the Round Table. It was too much fun and the boys were amazed... We celebrated my sister's birthday, went to the Bellagio for a champagne buffet brunch (hellooo, tipsy before noon) and to the art museum... We went out to dinner, walked up and down Fremont Street and went out with Jenner.

After seeing this tree at the Bellagio, Max said, "I'm allergic to talking trees."

I'm sorry Mom, but I think this is the funniest picture in the world.

I think it's safe to assume Jenner and my sister get along.

This trip was f.a.n.t.a.s.t.i.c. and I was devastated when my family had to leave, especially Jude and Las Vegas's biggest new fan, *Max. At one point, he looked at me and said, "Auntie, Las Vegas is a lot more fun-ner than Seattle." True that, kid. True that. When you throw the Bailey clan together in this city (with a couple of handsome fellers with different last names), good times will be had. It's that simple. (*Max also basically learned to read on this trip. What did he read? The word jail. His father spelled it out while telling a story and Max said, "Does that spell jail? I noticed that j-a-i-l spells jail, Dad." Um, wow.)

So, just one more time, I am a lucky lady. Thank you, family, for this trip, for our enduring love through everything and for all the laughs. I love you.

It's been a long week,
let's dance.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This was a very long week. Some less than fantastic things happened. None too terribly earth-shattering, luckily, but when combined made my week rather challenging.

First, and you already know this but let's just humor ourselves, I got sick. Really sick.

A couple of other kickers:

Lost my keys (which isn't super out of the ordinary), but never found them (which is pretty out of the ordinary). Yes, my two year old nephew was the last one seen with them, but what kind of a-hole blames a "really, really, ridiculously good looking" two year old? (Thanks for the quote Derek Zoolander.)

Discovered I may be developing migraines.

Dropped my beloved iPhone (again). Last time I dropped it (and shattered the screen), Jenner just threw some tape on it and we called it a day. I know, very chic. This time, however, as my family friend Rob would say, "DEAD." Went and got a new one, but made the decision that if my clumsiness causes me to break this one, I'm not allowed to have another fancy phone. (Wish me luck. Please.)

Missed many, many days of work.

Tried to convince myself I looked good with the whole no shower, high fever look. Failed.

Speaking of failing, I had two sets of friends come into town over the weekend and had to get a big ol' F in the Entertaining Out-of-Town Visitors class on Friday night. Thankfully, Dayquil helped me pull it up a notch and make up for it Saturday and Sunday.

Hoped I didn't have the swine flu if for no other reason than because I'd have to tell people I had the pig flu.

On the up side, my mama was in town. On the down side, she had to eventually leave. I may be 31, but I handled my mom flying back to Washington like an eight year old girl.

So, even though this week threw some doozies at me, let's look at the bright side. Everybody needs a few days to just lounge in bed with ginger ale every once in a while. Right? Right. The keys and the iPhone? Just things. Sure, being sick when my mom was in town wasn't ideal, but - as she pointed out - we did get to spend lots of quality time together because I was confined to her hotel room the entire trip.

Probably most importantly, and let's just be honest here, being sick allows you to watch countless hours of The Hills and The City. (Okay, and maybe the entire season so far of Cougar Town. Maybe.) I even dreamt that I told off the cast of both MTV shows. I kept saying, "No, but what do you do? Stephanie Pratt, for the love of God, what do you do?!"

Thanks to a recent episode of The City, I was introduced to my new favorite song and want to share it here with all of you. When I'm feeling 100% again, this song is going to inspire me to get all dolled up and hit the town dancing. You're invited. You in?

{images via we heart it}


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No, I don't really think I have the swine flu, but I will tell you this... I am a sick, sick girl.

My family has been in town since Friday and it has been wonderful, but my nephew Jude came to Vegas one sick puppy. Since I can't resist his face, I basically invited this flu to come have a slumber party in my body for the next 5 - 7 days. You know what, though? It was worth it. Every snotty kiss, every cough filled snuggle. I love that little boy and you just can't tear us away from each other.

Luckily, my mom is still here and can bring me chicken soup and put a cold cloth on my forehead. (Aren't moms just the best? I know mine is.) I see a lot of episodes of The Hills in my future and maybe even a soak in the hotel jacuzzi tub.

That's really all I've got, folks. I hope you are all well and flu-less. I'll be back with stories and pictures just as soon as it doesn't hurt to breathe.

{image via We Heart It}

A photo tribute to the art of Halloween.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I LOVE Halloween, dress-up and all things spooky. So, needless to say, I can't wait until October 31st this year... and every year. I am still currently debating over a couple of different costumes, but will be sure to post photos (as I hope-hope-hope you do, as well!) after the holiday. This will be my first Vegas Halloween and I can't wait to see how this city celebrates. Until then, I've posted some of my favorite Halloween pictures of family, friends and moi.

Oh, that picture up top? It's circa 1981 0r '82, was entirely my sister's idea (thanks, Monica) and says a whole lot about us still. It's definitely one of my all-time favorites. If I had access to a scanner right now, I'd share a lot more oldie-but-goodies of the two Bailey sisters, but we'll have to save that post for another day.

This last picture of my sister and her family may just be the very best Halloween picture... ever. Don't you agree?

Oh, and maybe you noticed, but my gorgeous friend Katie has been my Halloween partner in crime for going on ten years now. It makes me really sad we won't be dressing up, drinking, eating too much candy and celebrating together this year. I hope Jenner knows he has a tough act to follow as my Halloween sidekick.

Now, do tell... What are you going to be this Halloween?

Away We Go

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I just recently watched the film Away We Go. As I was watching it, I kept looking over at Jenner and saying, "This is weird. I don't know if I like it... Is this funny? I'm not sure." (FYI - I talk a lot during movies. You probably don't want to watch one with me. It's almost as though my lips move without my permission. Sorry, Jenner.) Then as the movie progressed, I got more and more engrossed by this quirky, honest, sometimes sad, lovely story. I had a similar reaction to one of my all-time favorites, Shopgirl. I was convinced I didn't like it until the last third and then as the credits rolled, I cried out, "I love this movie!" Yep, same thing happened this time.

What can I really say about this film? First of all, who doesn't love Sam Mendes? Honestly, anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Didn't think so. Second, I love these understated films that capture the honest un-romanticized nature of our lives. Third, while we're at it, the music is amazing.

This is one of those films I can't stop thinking about for days... There is one scene in particular, I can't get out of my mind. The line Burt says to Rona about his future daughter's weight breaks my heart in the best possible way.

BURT: Do you promise to let our daughter be fat or skinny or any weight at all? Because we want her to be happy, no matter what. Being obsessed with weight is just too cliché for our daughter.

RONA: Yes, I do. Do you promise, when she talks, you’ll listen? Like, really listen, especially when she’s scared? And that her fights will be your fights?

BURT: I do. And do you promise that if I die some embarrassing and boring death that you’re gonna tell our daughter that her father was killed by Russian soldiers in this intense hand-to-hand combat in an attempt to save the lives of 850 Chechnyan orphans?

RONA: I do. Chechnyan orphans. I do. I do.

To me, this movie is about loss, love and hope. It's about what it means to find yourself... what it means to find and make your family.

I love this quote. "It’s all those good things you have in you. The love, the wisdom, the generosity, the selflessness, the patience. The patience! At 3 A.M. when everyone’s awake because Ibrahim is sick and he can’t find the bathroom and he’s just puked all over Katki’s bed. When you blink, when you blink! And it’s 5:30 and it’s time to get up again and you know you’re going to be tired all day, all week, all your fucking life. And you’re thinking what happened to Greece? What happened to swimming naked off the coast of Greece? And you have to be willing to make the family out of whatever you have."

If you haven't already, go and watch it. It's beautiful.

The rains down in Africa.

Monday, October 12, 2009

When I was a little girl, I told my mother I was going to Africa someday. You see, I had dreamt that I lived there in a past life (yep, that was me as a kid) and was determined to go back. When I was a senior in college, I did just that. I packed my bags and met up with 19 other American students I had never met and flew (and flew and flew) to Namibia where I lived, travelled, studied and volunteered for the next four months. It just might have been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it just might have been the best decision I'll ever make.

This trip changed my life.

(Snuggling the friendliest cow, Henrietta. I even milked her later.)

For much of this trip, I lived in the capitol city of Namibia, Windhoek. It was (literally) a world away from anything I had ever known, but it wasn't exactly roughing it. (Unless of course you consider sharing a room with six other girls roughing it, then - yes - it actually was.) We lived in a city. We went to school. We volunteered. I worked at an orphanage. We went out. We made friends with locals. We danced all night. We missed the comforts of home, but we were alive in ways we had never known before.

For the other parts of this trip, we stayed with families during homestays both in the city and in rural locations. Now, I thought I was from a rural town, but this word takes on a new meaning when the most exciting event of the day is a donkey walking by. The remainder of my time in Africa was spent travelling throughout Namibia and South Africa, as well as taking a brief but incredibly memorable trip to Botswana.

(Sossusvlei - home of the gorgeous red sand dunes in Namibia.)

(South Africa)

(The most beautiful place I've ever been... The Okavango Delta in Botswana.)

It's hard to imagine ever having another experience that will compare to this. I went on that trip a young, homesick girl who was in culture shock and I came home, well, me.

During my time in Namibia, the country celebrated 10 years of independence and 10 years of being free from the institution of apartheid. 10 years. That was it. Imagine what our country must have been like only ten years after the abolition of slavery... When you walk around in a country that has been so hurt by prejudice and hate, and by people that look very much like yourself, you come to understand the unearned privilege of your appearance and the luxury it affords. I had never been aware before this trip of all that was possible for me solely because of the color of my skin. It made me incredibly sad and it made me incredibly and acutely aware of the responsibility I felt I had.

I expected mixed reactions from the Namibian and South African people I met on this trip because of my skin color and what it represented. I expected anger, but what I got... what I got was love. I spent hours and hours and days and days talking to people about their experiences during apartheid and what it had done to their families, to their children, to their sense of dignity. It was heartbreaking, but the resilience of these people to persevere after such unimaginable hardships was breathtaking. The heart of these people, their ability to rise up and love the very people who hurt them, is - in my eyes - the heart of Africa and why this experience and this place has left such an imprint on my heart.

This time in my life changed the way I look at the world, altered the lens I look through. I no longer see our country and other countries. Us and them. The children I hope to have someday aren't the only children I want to protect. Sometimes when I find myself getting frustrated about something so small, like having my favorite jeans fit too tightly, I think about the children I held who had been orphaned by AIDS and I realize what a luxury these little concerns are.

This trip broke my heart wide open and made me a citizen of the world.

The villages. The landscape. The animals. The smell. The sky. The colors. The food. The music. The dancing. The culture. The tradition. The stories. The people. The heartache. The pain. The resilience. The courage. The love. The unstoppable joy. The heart. The soul. Africa. I carry it with me.