Warriors by Day, Grandmas by Night!

For a few years, my sister, Melissa, has been running the Warrior Dash. I’ve always thought it looked so fun, you know, for people who actually run and wouldn’t die in the middle of it. It almost made me want to take up running, just so I could do this with my sister and participate in all those Survivor-like challenges. We love Survivor in this family.

Every year, Melissa would participate in the Warrior Dash and then ask me if I wanted to sign up to do it with her next time. My answer was always, “Maybe. We’ll see.” I never did sign up. Then came last winter. I decided to give up laziness for Lent. I decided to accomplish this by downloading the Couch to 5K app and working my way through it.

Surprisingly, I came to somewhat enjoy running and I continued running beyond Easter. One day, back in May, I ran 3.1 miles – the full distance of a 5K – for the first time. To celebrate, Melissa and I signed up for the Warrior Dash in St. Francisville scheduled for October 3rd. I had nearly five months to get it together, right? All I had to do was keep up my running routine. Then came summer in Louisiana. It was hot and sticky and not any fun for running. I slacked to the point of usually running once a week. Every so often I would run twice in a week. I’ve lost my endurance. One mile is standard for me on a regular running day. Two miles just isn’t going to happen. Two miles is too much to ask.

October 3rd came creeping up on me. As it got closer and closer, I got more and more nervous. What was I thinking? I had never even run a 5K race at all, much less one full of obstacles. I had barely run at all throughout the summer. What made me think I could handle 3.24 miles plus 12 obstacles. Really?! Oh, I was going to regret this.

I was having flashbacks to things that were supposed to be fun that I did not find fun. Several years ago, I let Melissa convince me to go snowboarding with her. Snowboarding is fun, right? Wrong. It is not fun. Snowboarding is awful. I did not snowboard. Sure, there was a snowboard strapped to my feet, but no snowboarding was accomplished. I fell down repeatedly. I tried and tried and tried. And I fell and fell and fell. Eventually, I watched a child who was approximately four years old remain upright and snowboard past me and I decided I’d had enough. I took that stupid board off my feet and started walking down the mountain. I didn’t care how long it took to reach the bottom. I could walk, but I could not snowboard, so walking was what I would do. Thankfully someone who worked at the resort told me I could catch a ride back down the mountain via ski-lift type thing and not have to walk, so I did that. But I hated it. HATED it. It was awful and I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated that I couldn’t do it.

I also thought about the day in second grade when my mom took Melissa and me out to LSU-Shreveport for a “Jump Rope For Heart” event. A lot of my friends and classmates were there and we jumped rope all day to raise money for some organization, which I can only assume was the American Heart Association. I was roughly seven or eight years old. I kept messing up while trying to do something (double-dutch, maybe) and I started giggling about it. One of the adults leading the event fussed at me for laughing. So, of course, I went from laughing to crying. I was so sad and embarrassed. Jumping rope was supposed to be fun. It was no longer fun. Looking back I find it pretty sad that an adult would berate a child over something like jumping rope, but it happened, and it hurt my little seven year old heart. I still remember sitting up against the cinderblock wall, crying and wishing Mama would show up soon to take us home.

I was so nervous the Warrior Dash would be a similar experience. I thought I wouldn’t be able to accomplish these challenges. I would fail. History has shown that I’m not a big fan of failure when I fail at things that are supposed to be fun. It just makes me mad and I don’t even want to be around myself at that point. I literally was praying to God that I would keep a good attitude – that even if there was a challenge I couldn’t complete, I would keep a good attitude and not allow this to become a miserable experience. I know myself. I know how I respond to that. I wanted to have fun with this. I really really did.

Saturday came along. My sister and I packed our bags, loaded up my car, and headed to St. Francisville. On the drive down, we stopped in Natchez for a bathroom break and it was freezing outside. The sun was completely hidden behind the clouds and I was shivering on the walk to and from the car. Also, the first challenge on this Warrior Dash route was called Alcatraz, where you had to swim out to a floating structure, climb over it, and swim back to shore. (In my nervousness, I had studied the course map. I wanted to be prepared for what I was going to encounter.) Shivering while completely dry had me a little worried about how cold I would be after swimming. This was not a good sign. But it’s better than heat, right?! I’d much rather run in the cold weather than the stifling heat. Give me snow any running day over 95 degrees with 100% humidity.

We got to the site of the race an hour later than we were supposed to, which put us an hour behind on running the race. No big deal. We just would run the next heat. As we were checking in, I was feeling pretty excited about it – more excitement than dread. (God was answering my prayer to have a good attitude.) We headed to the starting chute and watched the clock, counting down until 12:15 when we would officially start the race.

We took a few pre-race photos before it started:

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In this next one, Melissa suggested that we try to look fierce, but then she just kept laughing.

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The route was so much fun – it was very hilly and wound through the woods on a (mostly) dirt path. It was mostly shaded since it was in the woods. We had to run a while before we reached the first challenge – Alcatraz. I’m not the strongest swimmer and I saw a sign that the water was 6 to 9 feet deep. I just went for it. It wasn’t a far distance to swim and I can swim well enough to handle what was ahead of me. The water weighed my shoes down a good bit – I’m not used to swimming in Brooks running shoes – so I swam to the side and held on to a rope until the crowd thinned enough that I could climb on the structure and cross to the other side. It felt great to have the first of twelve challenges in the books!

We continued on and reached the next challenge where we had to climb two walls that were probably about five feet high, crawl under a big tarp (boot camp style crawling), and then climb two more walls. It was at this challenge when Melissa saw that I really came to play. I wasn’t going to just walk up to the wall and see what would happen. I ran full speed and scaled them pretty quickly. I mentioned my family loves Survivor, so as we were crawling under the tarp, Melissa jokingly said to me, “For immunity!” I immediately picked up the pace and hustled as fast as I could. We were cracking ourselves up.

At another obstacle, I had climbed over and was making my way down. Melissa had already finished and was waiting on me. Again referencing Survivor, Melissa said, “For love letters from home!” At this, I full on sprinted toward her for a few seconds. I’m sure other people wondered what in the world we were talking about, but again, we cracked ourselves up.

Along the course, there were funny signs. At a wall climbing challenge, a sign said, “Danger – Butts Ahead!” Another sign along the way said, “We wish you had trained for this, too.” Another one, which was probably the first one where you’d really get muddy, read – “You came here to get muddy.” And boy did we get muddy. I felt like a toddler with a loaded diaper at one point. Coming right out of the mud, your feet would slip and slide everywhere until you got to more solid ground. It was fun. It was stinking fun. It really was stinking at some of the mud-centered challenges. And it was so much fun.

When it came time for our fire jump, we were ready. Some people were tired and would simply clear the flames by an inch or two and keep moving. Melissa and I wanted a fun fire picture. We’ve talked about having a fun fire picture ever since she first started trying to talk me into running the Warrior Dash with her. We wanted to be in the air at the same time. Since we planned it out, we allowed the people in front of us enough time to jump over the fire and get several feet ahead. Then on the count of three we ran and jumped. The photographer gave us a thumbs up once our feet were back on the ground so that was a good sign. We got a sequence of three photos and this is my favorite:

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After the fire came the most intimidating challenge of all – Goliath. You had to climb a wall, walk across an elevated balance beam, and then go down a 30 foot slide into a giant pool of muddy water. This one was the hardest for me. I climbed the wall pretty quickly, but the distance between the last foothold and the top of the wall was taller than me. I was having trouble trying to pull myself over. Plus, the lady literally lying on top of the wall in utter exhaustion was not helping, because I felt sure I would kick her in the head. I knew that if I didn’t pull myself over, I would have to go to the bottom and start over because I would need some momentum once I got to the top. I dug deep and pulled myself over. I even inched a little to my left in the process so I didn’t kick the lady in the head. (You’re welcome, lady!) That moment felt like the greatest accomplishment of the whole course to me. The balance beam was the most nerve wracking part and I did not allow myself to look down. My heart was pounding when I made it safely to the other side. Also, apparently there was a photographer around that I didn’t see, because I ended up with this photo:

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At the end of Goliath was the 30 foot slide.

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I’ve heard too many stories about brain eating amoebas in Louisiana waters this year, so I was ready to pinch my nose shut from 30 feet up. Not today, brain eating amoeba. Not today. From the force of the entry into the water at the bottom of the slide, Melissa and I both lost our St. Jude buffs in the process. We both came up with big eyes patting the tops of our heads. One of them floated up, so Melissa grabbed it and let me keep it. It wasn’t even mine to begin with. They were both hers. But she kindly let me keep it as a souvenir of my first Warrior Dash.

The last challenge was Muddy Mayhem, where you’re forced to get as muddy as possible unless you want to encounter some real barbed wire. I prefer mud to blood and scars, so I stayed down. My poor sister ended up with mud in her eye, so she was having problems seeing at the end. This was our photo at the finish line:

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Afterward, Melissa was able to take a shower because she raised a lot of money for St. Jude and it was one of her perks. I hosed off as well as I could. Once Melissa was truly clean and I was moderately clean, we took a photo with our fuzzy Warrior hats.

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Then we got in line for some food. Melissa also had some food vouchers as part of her St. Jude perks. We had our hearts set on turkey legs, but they were out, so we snacked on french fries & corn on the cob. A drunk guy came to our picnic table and chatted up my sister. He offered her a sip of his oversized beer and assured her he didn’t have any diseases. (That’s what they all say, Meat Head!) She declined. She and I texted back and forth a little bit about Meat Head as he talked about how he had gained thirty pounds by going to the gym so much. He looked down and admired his defined chest. I kept my eyes averted and didn’t look directly at my sister until he finally walked away because my face would have told it all. However, if my sister had taken a sip of Meat Head’s beer, I wouldn’t have been able to control my face. No worries. She’s too smart for that.

Once we left, we headed to the Airbnb we were staying for the night in St. Francisville. I took one of the most glorious showers of my life. I never obey bath product labels that instruct me to “lather, rinse, repeat”. I just lather and rinse. On this day, I obeyed. Lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat was necessary. Also, once we had finished the race, my clothes were wet and it was a cool day, so I stayed cold to the point of occasionally shivering. I was so happy to be taking a hot shower. I actually hung my head in sadness once I finally decided I’d used enough hot water and shut it off.

Melissa and I went into St. Francisville – wearing our Warrior Dash medals with pride, of course – and ate supper at the Magnolia Cafe. (Melissa even put on her Warrior hat to order her food but didn’t get a reaction at the moment. Tough crowd.) One of the restaurant managers went to Tech, so we talked Tech football with him and showed him highlight videos our dad was sending us during the game. When we left, we realized it was still pretty early – probably around 7:00 or 7:30 – and there’s really not much to do in St. Francisville once the sun goes down. Also, there was no TV in the Airbnb where we stayed. We had a conversation that went something like this:

Me – “I wish we had thought to bring some decks of cards or something.”
Melissa – “Yeah, me too. OH! I have an idea!”
Me – “What?!”
Melissa – “We can go back to our room and do crossword puzzles!!!!”
Me – “Crossword puzzles?! That doesn’t sound fun!”
Melissa – “No, it’s this fun app on my iPad!”
Me – “Crossword puzzles are boring.”
Melissa – “Oh wait! Not CROSSWORD puzzles. JIGSAW puzzles! With our own pictures!”
Me – “OOOH! That does sound fun! Let’s put on pajamas first!”
Melissa – “Okay! Pajamas and jigsaw puzzles!”

Me – “Yes!”
Melissa – “Wow, we sound like grandmas.”
Me – “What?! We are not grandmas! We ran the Warrior Dash!”

Well, let me just say we did at least two hours worth of Warrior Dash photo jigsaw puzzles as well as a precious Sayid jigsaw puzzle and now I officially want an iPad. Something has finally come along to make me want an iPad. Jigsaw puzzles.

The next morning we woke up – yes, I was sore especially across the arms and shoulders – and our Airbnb host served us breakfast on her patio before we headed home.

This was fun. It was just as fun as Melissa always made it out to be. No, it was even more fun. I absolutely loved it. I left St. Francisville with sore muscles, multiple bruises, and a few battle wounds on my arms and legs. It was totally worth it. These grandmas are getting ready to sign up for Warrior Dash 2016.

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Es and Is

Last month was our annual beach trip. Goodness, I love the beach, especially at night. One of my favorite things in life is to sit out on a balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at night, listening to the waves and taking in the cool breeze. I don’t even mind when a gust of wind is so cold it makes me shiver, because it’s just perfect to me. I love it. I love a cool breeze in August. It doesn’t happen much in the south! I love late night beach balcony sessions so much that I had to convince myself to go inside the first night and go to bed. It was closing in on 2:00 AM, I had been awake for over 21 hours, and everyone else was asleep. I had to remind myself I had all week to do this and I needed to go to bed. (I have to say the last two nights of our trip there was hardly any breeze which really bummed me out, so next year I’ll stay out there until I can’t hold my eyes open if the weather is perfect. Lesson learned. It is truly one of the highlights of my vacation, so if I sleep super late while everyone else is out soaking up the sun, so be it. Night time is my time in Perdido, Florida.)

On the day we started our vacation, we traveled throughout the day and got to the beach with a couple of hours of daylight left. That night, a few of us went to Walmart to buy our groceries for the week, returned and put everything away at the condo, and got settled in. I retreated to the balcony. My sister, Ashley, and my friend, Joe, came out, too, so the three of us were getting in the first bit of relaxation for our trip.

Me – “You know what I want to do? One day, during the fall or the spring – not during peak summer – I want to just rent a one bedroom condo here for myself. I just want to come down here alone for a few days and just think and read and relax all by myself.”
Joe – “Oh, I would hate that!”
Me – “Really?! I think it sounds great! I would love it!”
Joe – “No way. I would hate it. I would be so bored! It wouldn’t be fun for me at all.”

Joe went on to say how he’s an extrovert, so he always wants to be around a group of people. Ashley and I are introverts. We like people, of course, but we feel energized and recharged after having some time alone. Joe is the opposite.

My nephews, Caleb and Jacob, also came on this trip. Caleb is a pretty quiet guy and Jacob is very chatty. Jacob, who is twelve, was sticking close to Joe to the extent that Ashley and I told Joe that it would be okay if he wanted to take a break from Jacob. Joe told us he loved having my chatty little nephew around and that he wasn’t bothered by him at all. He assured us that if he wanted some time alone, he knew how to get it. Jacob was so attached to Joe that Ashley and I began joking about it. Jacob would often send Joe on errands for him, so Ashley and I started referring to Joe as “Jeeves”.

“JEEVES, fetch me my boogie board!”
“Jeeves! Go ask them if they want to get in the hot tub with us.”
“Jeeves! Can you bring me my towel?”
“Jeeves, whip up some chicken salad!”

Joe told us it was fun to have Jacob around because he was a fellow “E”. (We began just saying “E” for extrovert and “I” for introvert.)

One late afternoon, I took my book and went down to the pool where Caleb, Jacob, and Joe were hanging out. Caleb headed back up to the condo shortly after I got down there.

Jacob – “Aunt Lindsay, are you gonna go back up soon?”
Me – “No, I’m going to read for a while, but you can go up whenever you want.”
Jacob – “I don’t want to go by myself. I want to go with someone.”
Me – “Well, if you hurry, you can probably catch up to Caleb pretty quickly.”
Jacob – “No, I want to go with an adult.”
Me – “Oh, okay, well I’m not going up for a while.”

Joe was watching a Big Brother episode on his phone a few chairs down from us. Jacob turned to Joe.

Jacob – “Hey Joe, are you going up soon?”
Joe – “Well, in a little while, but I want to finish this episode first.”
Jacob – “Okay.”
*** Jacob settles into the chair next to Joe. About five minutes lapse with Jacob occasionally asking, “Is your episode almost done?” or “Are you almost finished?” Joe finishes his episode and the two of them get up to leave. ***
Joe (to me) – “Welcome to the world of Es. We will wait thirty minutes just to have someone to walk down the hall with.”

Jacob is such an E. So is Joe. For sure. No doubt. Ashley and I are Is. So is Caleb. In fact, when we retold this story, Caleb said, “Welcome to the world of Is. We will wait thirty minutes just to walk down the hall alone.” Ha!

There was so much talk of Es vs. Is that we decided to take personality tests. Caleb, Ashley, and I are all ISFJs – also known as “The Defender – very dedicated and warm protectors, always ready to defend their loved ones.” Yep, I would say that is accurate! Jacob is indeed an extrovert – ENTP – also known as “The Debater – smart and curious thinkers who cannot resist an intellectual challenge.” Yep! His big brother says that is accurate for Jacob. (I found it funny that he is the complete opposite of Caleb.) Joe is ESFJ – also known as “The Consul – extraordinarily caring, social, and popular people, always eager to help.” We had Melissa to take the test after we got home and she strongly believes she’s an introvert, but we all know better. She got ENTJ – “The Commander – bold, imaginative, and strong-willed leaders, always finding a way – or making one.” As her trusty sidekick throughout life I can wholeheartedly agree that that description is accurate of my sister.

If anyone wants to take the test, go to http://www.16personalities.com. It’s a fun test to take and it tells you all about your personality type when you’re finished. Then tell me what you are! I want to know so I can read all about you and tell you if I agree.

I’ll wrap this up with a few photos of some of my favorite Es and Is.
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Beach Vacation 2014

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This year’s beach vacation was lovely. Perdido Key, Florida is such a charming little town. Due to going during “peak summer” season and the fact that my friends and I live on budgets, we stayed at a more affordable condo than we usually do when we go during “late summer” and can afford a place right on the beach. We didn’t have an unobstructed view of the Gulf and our swimming pool was the temperature of a bath tub most of the time, but I would stay there again without hesitation. It was great. Next time I might mosey on down to my favorite condo’s pool that feels refreshing and not like a bath tub!

The weather was beautiful. It rained for about five to ten minutes after we got our luggage carried inside the first night and we never saw another rain drop until we were somewhere in Mississippi on the way back home. The Gulf was beautiful. I never encountered any seaweed, but only the occasional fish that would kiss my leg (and make me squirm!) and a school of jellyfish that sent us scrambling back to the shore on the last day. (They didn’t sting us!) If anything, the water was cold some days. It never got over 90 degrees the entire time we were there. We all got a little sunkissed and only Amber ended up with a sunburn bad enough to be uncomfortable.

We started with a three car caravan and managed to turn a seven hour trip into thirteen. Yes, I said thirteen. Partially, that is because we had to make frequent “clot stops”. Mama had a blood clot in her leg a month earlier so we wanted to make sure to stretch our legs. At the Mississippi Welcome Center in Vicksburg – clot stop #1 – I realized this was going to be an ordeal. I had to tell Mama and Mrs. Barnes that we weren’t taking clot stops to make new friends. We were simply there to stretch our legs and get back on the road. We were probably at that clot stop for half an hour. Mama had been carrying on her own long conversation with a staff member, but finally made her way outside. Once we finally sent Joe inside to find Mrs. Barnes, she was discussing a sewing table with a staff member, and then Joe himself got sucked into a conversation about civil war history. Then Mama had to go inside and get them both. This was when we realized it was going to be a long trip.

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The other major time block was due to a long wait at Lambert’s in Foley. Throwed rolls are a necessary experience for someone who has never been. On this trip, that was Stacy. Okra man was chatting (ie: flirting) with Mrs. Barnes so much that Amber and I were ready to serve okra to ourselves right out of his bowl. We were starving and he was just standing there with that giant bowl of delicious okra just outside our grasp. It was torturous. Black eyed pea girl walked around looking sad, hanging her head, because nobody wanted any of her peas. Sad black eyed pea girl actually became a running joke on this trip. The boy throwing the rolls seemed to be taking out his frustrations. He would fire hot rolls at diners as if he were trying out for the New York Yankees and then stare in disappointment if a roll was dropped. I got the look one time. You’d think he’d be happier what with having such a fun job! Amber started giving him dialogue as he fired his rolls at people – “This is for all you who made fun of me on the playground!” and “This is for not making the team in high school!”, etc.

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We finally got to Perdido around 9:00 Monday night. This is the first time I can remember actually arriving at our condo after the sun went down. I have to admit, it kind of bummed me out. I love being able to catch glimpses of the Gulf as we’re driving that stretch of road through Orange Beach and Perdido. We unloaded our stuff and then made our shopping list and headed to Walmart for some late night grocery shopping. We came in under budget (Dave would be proud!) and finally got everything back to the condo and put away around midnight. I think we went to sleep around 1:00 AM or later that first night.

Amber and I picked the right room to sleep in. It was in the very back of the condo and we had a ceiling fan and a small personal fan we brought from home. We never heard anyone else in the mornings until we wanted to. I think we consistently slept the latest every day and our sleep friendly room gets the credit. Plus, we got the room with an attached bathroom! Hooray! We just made sure to share it with Melissa and it all worked out well. (I’ve decided that since I’m the one who always has to do the research to find and secure a condo for our trips, I deserve the master bedroom! Sounds fair!)

Throughout the week, we ate a lot; it never ceases to amaze me how quickly we can devour multiple pans of brownies and an entire double recipe of taco layer dip.

We shivered in the Gulf waters until we became acclimated.

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That also blows my mind – we shivered in the Gulf at the end of July. We stuck pretty close to the shore on account of all the sharks who were in the area earlier this summer.

We had some Sonic happy hour drinks.

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We ate at Tacky Jack’s Tavern and Amber found what I’ve been searching for – children’s aviator sunglasses. They claimed to be polarized, but are not. I still love them anyway.

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We laughed more than I’ve laughed in a while. We revisited a memory Melissa, Joe, and I had from our 2007 beach trip where we wore funny hats in a gift shop as our elderly alter egos – Francis, Hagatha, & Eudell. Only this time, we had Stacy and Amber along. Joe’s serious facial expression in every photo just made it even better. We were that loud, obnoxious, laughing group you sometimes come across in public places. Our apologies, fellow tourists.

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We told funny stories: “Karl/you can close that box”, “Yeeeeeeah!”, and “yard dogs” come to mind.

A few of us saw dolphins and Joe even saw them from our balcony on the last day, even though we weren’t right on the beach. (He has freakishly good vision.)

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It was fun. It was great. We all were wishing we had another day or two before we had to come home.

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The return trip took 12 hours. How can we turn 14 hours on the road into 25? How?! It’s a good thing I like Amber and Joe, because we sure were stuck with each other a long time in the car! We ended up splitting up our caravan, so that probably got us home a little sooner than if we had stuck together. My car managed to stop at Dairy Queen, Zaxby’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Jimmy John’s, and Starbucks on the way home. Weight gain mystery solved!

Fun times, y’all. Fun times.

Things That Take Me Back

My sister made brownies last night.  This morning I was cutting one to put in my lunchbox and the smell took me back to long road trips as a kid.  When we went on vacation – and I only remember a few big ones: Pigeon Forge,Tennessee, Orlando, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia – my mom would always make brownies and chocolate chip cake mix cookies.  She’d put the cookies and brownies in a big square Tupperware container and when we’d get hungry on the road, we would open it up and the smell of brownies would fill the van.  We would also get to have brownies for breakfast when we were on vacation, so that was pretty special.  But the smell of brownies, to me, equals childhood vacations with my family in our big, ugly Ford Aerostar van.  Those were fun times.

My light blue Smurfs lunchbox – yes, I carry my lunch in a lunchbox; it’s convenient and I paid a whopping $1 for it at a garage sale – also always takes me back, especially when I have an orange packed in it.  An orange and a brownie!  I think it takes me back to the movie The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  I haven’t seen that movie in years, probably even in decades.  Is there a scene in that movie where a kid has a light blue lunchbox with a brownie and an orange inside?  Does anyone know?  Maybe it’s a different movie, but I know I’ve seen this before and the image of a light blue lunch box with an orange and a brownie is easily conjured up in my mind.

Store bought pound cake and 12 ounce cans of coke take me back to my Memaw’s house.  Memaw would always insist on giving everyone a cold can of coke with a straw.  If she had pound cake in the house, which she often did, she would insist on sharing that as well, whether you were hungry or not.  She usually had some kind of ice cream bar or popsicle in her freezer, too.  She wasn’t big on cooking.  In fact, I remember many of our childhood trips to visit Memaw ended with a stop at Wendy’s on the way home, but Memaw almost always had some kid friendly treats available.

Old school Nintendo takes me back to the summer after fourth grade when my parents bought one for us.  We didn’t have a lot of games, but I remember playing a lot of Super Mario Brothers – the original and Super Mario Brothers 3.  We would go to Jennifer & Johnathan’s house and play Contra or hook up their Power Pad and get some exercise.  I remember Daddy went on a business trip once and brought us home a new game called Marble Madness.  Then in college, a few friends and I somehow happened upon some old school Nintendo systems.  We played Super Mario Brothers 3 well into the night at Jennifer Crosbie’s apartment while David Crowder Band played in the background.  Janie somehow missed the Nintendo phase of the standard 80’s childhood, so it was fun watching her struggle through the original Super Mario Brothers while the rest of us could pass a level with our eyes closed.

Old country music from the early 90s takes me back to riding in the back of my dad’s truck on the back roads of Calhoun as he drove us to the ball park for our softball games.  These rides often included friends of ours – Lynnette and Emily, Kristy and Ashly, Raeni, or Craig and Greg – and sometimes we would sing country songs, loud and off key, often making up our own lyrics.  A lot of those trips in the back of Daddy’s truck were because Melissa, Craig, Greg, and I would ride our bikes to the ball park on a summer day, which I think was about five miles, and then we would stay until dark and would be too tired to ride home.  At that point, one of us would head to the pay phone and call Daddy.  Of course, Daddy didn’t want us riding bikes in the dark, so he would come pick the four of us and our bikes up and drive us back home.

Nostalgia is fun.  I’m thankful that the vast majority of the things that take me back also make me smile.  I know it’s not that way for everyone, so I am truly grateful.

Do y’all have any nostalgic items or foods that take you back and remind you of happy times?

Blast From The Past – San Francisco, 2006!

I was just scrolling through some old pictures on iPhoto and decided I needed to do a little throwback vacation entry.  In fact, I may do several of these, because these trips were during the phase when I didn’t blog at all.  I have my scrapbooks from that time period, but I figure Jody and Jennifer may get some laughs out of this with me.  So let’s take a trip back to the summer of 2006.  Jody had been living in Nevada for a few months after moving there upon graduation from Louisiana Tech.  Jennifer and I flew out to visit her.  We flew into Reno and we all stayed the night at the home of one of Jody’s friends.  We were given the upstairs of their house for the night.  I remember the next morning when Jody’s friend told us how quiet we were and that we said we had never been called that before!

We loaded up in Jody’s car and drove to San Francisco.  We wanted to spend one night there and visit the city.  Jody lived in a very small town in Nevada, so this was our chance to see something other than wide open plains and dirt.  We roamed around Pier 39 and the Fisherman’s Wharf area that evening.  I remember getting severely lost as we drove around town, but I never budged out of the back seat.  Jennifer and Jody took turns driving, but I never made a move to get into the driver’s seat.  No ma’am.  We drove down “The Crookedest Street” and sang the Full House theme song.  We also found a great spot to take a photo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge!

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That night we went to the hotel that Jody had found for us on Expedia.  I must explain our method.  When Jody or I were given the task of booking a hotel, especially during and immediately following college, we would type in the town, sort by price, and pick the cheapest one.  While I have always been one to read reviews first, Jody doesn’t really bother herself with that task.  Is the hotel in the town we need?  Yes?  Great – book it!  Also, Jody told them there would only be one guest.  There were three of us.  The outside of our hotel and the area of town looked great.  In fact, here’s a photo I took the next morning.  So our first impression from the street was good.
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Then we went inside.  The front desk was scary.  The elevator was scary.  Then we got to our room. Good job, Jody.  Good choice.
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Fortunately, we all just started laughing, and then started fighting over who was getting stuck on the floor.  I can’t remember which one took the floor, but I shared the bed with somebody!  To make matters worse, with Jody’s claim of there being only one guest, we only got one towel.  One towel, three of us, and a shared bathroom down the hall.  Without being crass, let me just say we kept reminding each other to respect the other towel users when drying off.  Jody showered first.  I went second.  I remember being in the shower and thinking how San Francisco is famous for bad earthquakes and praying an earthquake wouldn’t hit while I was in the shared hall bathroom shower in all my glory!  I respected Jennifer’s upcoming use of the towel and then got back to the room to find out that Jennifer had gone down the scary elevator and asked for another towel.  Well.  That’s one way to handle the situation.

That day we visited Alcatraz, which was really cool.  Here we are on Alcatraz Island with the San Francisco skyline behind us.
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Before leaving town, we wanted to stick our toes in the Pacific Ocean.  It was another ordeal trying to find it, but we finally did.  I think we were in a town called Richmond when we finally found the ocean.  We are Louisiana girls.  We are used to the warm waters of the Gulf.  Warm waters these were not.  It was beautiful, but my word, it was cold.  It was frigid.  Jody was venturing much farther out – like actually above her ankles – whereas Jennifer and I turned and ran as soon as the icy waters touched our toes.  It was bizarre to me!Image

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On the drive back to Nevada, we stopped at Chipotle and ate supper.  Then, minutes later, we stopped to put some air in Jody’s tires and realized Jennifer had a big piece of cilantro stuck in her teeth.  This made us laugh so hard – dangerously hard after just stuffing ourselves!
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San Francisco with these two gals was definitely the highlight of that vacation, but here’s a pic of us at Lake Tahoe later in the week.  We were the only ones on that beach who were wearing something other than swimwear, but it was cold!  I don’t know how all these west coast folks can handle those cold temperatures!
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Speaking of Lake Tahoe, I’ll wrap this up with one last hilarious memory.  We went to Lake Tahoe on the Fourth of July with big plans to watch the fireworks.  It was extremely crowded that day, but we got the bright idea to return to this beach for the fireworks instead of fighting the traffic after we went out to eat that night.  So we made our way back to this beach.  We unloaded our lawn chairs and headed to the shore, celebrating and really patting ourselves on the back for how smart we were.  I mean, look at this.  All those idiots fought with each other for parking and here’s the three of us on our own private beach where we could sit anywhere we wanted.  We were geniuses, I tell you!  Then we started hearing cheering.  What were all those people cheering for?  Nothing was happening yet.  Then we started hearing the booms and cracks of fireworks.  More cheering.  We didn’t see anything; we just heard all the hoopla.  Suffice it to say, our big, proud talk ended abruptly!  Suddenly we were the idiots and we could not stop laughing.  Even now, nearly eight years later, I am laughing.

Good times, ladies.  Good times.