Archive for the ‘family’ Category

the house that built me

Friday, July 22nd, 2016


tomorrow morning is one i’ve dreaded for more than a year. i keep saying that the hard part is over now that goodbyes have officially been said, but ultimately i find myself awake in the middle of the night again, thinking about what’s to come and the unbearable and yet self-inflicted change that’s happening next.

tomorrow is the day we hand over the keys to the house where i grew up, the house my parents have owned for 25 years.

i should start by saying that leaving 549 burrage road is a blessing. it means that my parents can finally build their dream home on a lake and look forward to the next chapter of their (our) lives. there’s no sadness in that. it’s so great, in fact, that it seems surreal. and right now we’re in the surreal in-between where there’s no new home, but no old home either. no kitchen where i’ve spent nearly every thanksgiving of my life, no bedroom that holds my american girl dolls or the pink scratch-and-sniff smiley face sticker on my doorknob, no wall with the hole where my brother tried to make a secret portal between our rooms when we were kids.

i’ve dreaded it for months, but this week i’ve spent so much time thinking about this transition and there are way too many thoughts swirling in my head for one blog post. for starters, i can’t understand what it is about leaving this house that’s so difficult. i will always have memories of my life there. as my brother likes to say, we’re not selling those. my family members are all still very close. giving up this house really doesn’t mean i’m relinquishing anything but empty rooms and blank spaces. i know that the things that make a home aren’t the walls or the paint or the curtains. it’s not the space but the life lived within it.


and despite all that, i can’t sleep tonight. my chest hurts when i think about strangers filling those blank spaces with their things, their lives, their memories. selfishly i want to keep those spaces sacred and mine. i hate that they might not love them the same way i did. that they might cut down the cherry tree in the yard where we took easter pictures, or remove the bar in the kitchen where my dad still makes me coffee on the mornings i’m there, or rip out the retro “hugs not drugs” bumper sticker on the wall inside my brother’s closet.

i know i am a person that feels things deeply, and generally i’m both thankful for and annoyed by that fact. i hate that things and places evoke such deep emotions within me. if they didn’t, i could walk away from this house much more easily than i have. (and i could have thrown out the 39,084 stuffed animals from my childhood that my parents patiently agreed to let me keep in their new garage.) it’s a characteristic i find impossible to describe to anyone who can’t relate. i envy those people who can’t relate. i know intellectually that a house is just a house, but that doesn’t change the emotional connection i feel to it. i became a person within those walls. no matter who those walls belong to in the future, it won’t change the fact that they surrounded me during all of my becoming. they’ll always be a part of me and i of them, and no intellectual reasoning (no matter how rational) can change that.


i always find change to be a mystery because i hate it and yet i desire it. the leaving behind is always difficult. but, in its infinite paradox, not nearly as difficult as the staying-put. and in this surreal in-between, i’m infinitely grateful that saying goodbye to this house is as difficult as it is, because it means that my life there was well-lived. those blank spaces were filled with everything that a childhood and a family and an abundant life are supposed to be. while the staying-put in this house for the last 25 years has meant the leaving behind of so many other things; in all of those transitions, my family and i have become more and more of the people we were created to become, both together and apart. and that’s really always the goal, isn’t it? i am incredibly thankful for the role that 549 burrage road played in our stories and for an unchanging Father who always calls us forward into the unknown. His best is always before us.

photos 1./2. joe hartsell 3. drawing by aaron cote of ga studio drawings

put a little love in your heart

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

even though i almost never post lately, you should know i’m still alive. and in celebration of the fact that i love valentines’ day and it’s coming soon, i have taken the time to create the ultimate love song playlist. i like love songs. i like making playlists. especially ultimate ones. i also especially like love songs that are not generally played by delilah. all of the ones on the playlist in the sidebar ——> really resonate with me for one reason or another. they are my favorites and you should listen to them. and stop being mad at me for never posting on my blog. my valentine to you. you’re welcome.

a few other notes in regard to this playlist:

– kc and jojo’s all my life almost made it. don’t judge me.
– in case you ever had any doubt that you’re the inspiration isn’t one of the greatest love songs ever, watch this video from the old tv show ed (remember that!?). tom cavanaugh and julie bowen are second only to ross and rachel and nick and jess when it comes to great tv couples.
– nickelcreek’s when you come back down isn’t just an ultimate love song, it’s likely my favorite song in all of the world.
– if you aren’t already a dave barnes fan, you should be. three of his songs made the list because they’re that good.
– i’m sorry, tpain, but just because your song is entitled best love song and i like to listen to it when i run does not entitle you to make the list. thanks for playing.

additional note: if you’re reading on a tablet or mobile device, the embedded playlist won’t load. but don’t dismay! click here and put a little love in your heart.

image via laurenconrad

thanksgiving edition

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

as i sit on the couch this evening in my stretchy pants, surrounded by my family, black friday flyers, half eaten snack trays on the coffee table, and christmas decoration boxes waiting to be opened, my heart is full of gratitude for the blessings i’ve been given. sometimes i can’t believe how blessed i’ve been. sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair. 

but i am thankful for these blessings every year. the Lord has given to my family freely and while i still wait for particular things that i want to be realized, i am more certain than ever that He is in control and will fulfill my desires in His time. but this holiday, more than others, i think the Lord is teaching me that even if He doesn’t, and even if all of the things for which i am so thankful are lost, that He is still good. that He still loves me and is working in my life. it’s one thing to be thankful for the things in this world that are fragile and fleeting. it’s another to know that the things to which i hold so tightly aren’t the most important things and that without them, i still have a pupose, a hope and a future. and for that, i am most thankful.

i hope you all have blessed holiday weekends with your family. and lots of turkey and cranberry sauce.

image via dailycupofcouture

sunday edition #10

Monday, November 5th, 2012

you know those kids you see on corners and in front of shopping plazas with cardboard signs advertising sales? some twirl them. some dance with them. some stand there awkwardly and wave. watch the above clip from the office to see what i’m talking about if you’re still not following (although i’d recommend watching it either way because it’s hilarious). i maintain that there are probably few jobs in the world worse than this, so for some reason seeing those poor teenagers always makes me happy to know that someone has enough work ethic to make sure i know about a store closing or a mattress sale. they’re adorable and i always wave at them.

last night on facebook, i discovered this photo. this is my cousin, mitch. he’s a pretty big deal – major sports star at his high school in new york and likely heading to college on a scholarship next year. and this is mitch dressed as a mattress. advertising a mattress sale. perhaps you won’t find this as excellent as i do, but i laughed for a full minute straight at this photo last night. mitch just skyrocketed to the top of my people-who-are-really-cool list. i hope this brightened your day almost as much as seeing this in person on the side of the road. and next time you see a poor kid trying to spin a sign and attract attention? wave at him for me. he’s somebody’s cousin.


Sunday, July 15th, 2012

today i…
– slept in and woke up to coffee i didn’t have to brew or buy
– left my hair curly, went without make-up, wore a white lace caftan as a dress
– rode a giant ferris wheel
– met an nfl star randomly at lunch
– shopped at the goodwill (and spotted some lanvin)

– bought some gorgeous sea anemones for my new mantel
– drank two white wine spritzers before dinner
– laughed over casserole at my grandparents’ dinner table
– walked on the beach at sunset
– put on pajamas before 10pm
– ate brownies and ice cream
– watched hgtv for the rest of the night

my kind of weekend

wedding recap…still to come

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

so i had every intention of pulling together this awesome blog post tonight about this past weekend’s wedding. instead, i got home from work, went for a run, took a shower and then passed out cold on my sofa for three hours. whoops. apparently i haven’t quite recovered from all of the fun.
and it was so much fun. it was such a blessing being able to stand up beside gracie and aaron as they said their vows and support them in the promises they made to one another, and so much fun celebrating with them after the fact. almost everyone i loved was there, and we had a super time. i can’t wait to share more photos, but in the meantime, i’ll leave you with this one from their super cute, i’d-be-lying-if-i-didn’t-admit-i-had-a-little-crush-on-him wedding photographer, zack hamby. enjoy and check back for more when i am able to manage staying awake like a normal person.

photo: zack hamby photography

here comes the bride(smaid)

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

tonight i did some serious searching for a dress for next week’s impending nuptials. i haven’t blogged much lately (sad), so in case you don’t interact with me on a regular basis and haven’t heard me talking incessantly about next week’s wedding-of-the-decade, let me brief you. aaron is my brother. he is cool and stylish and has a swank job at one of charlotte’s best architecture firms. he is marrying gracie, a girl he met while in college. she is beautiful, sweet, so smart and creative, and has the best manners of anyone i know. i get a thank you note for something almost every time i see her. and they’re always the really pretty, fancy kind. the ones you get at paper source and want to frame. a + g are getting married in wilmington and it’s going to be a big fancypants affair with lots of events.

first, let me say how MUCH i love gracie for choosing this dress for her bridesmaids:

isn’t it gorgeous? (although the model is terrifying me.) it’s lilly pulitzer (go figure) and the stripes are actually little golden threads woven into the fabric. it’s one of those dresses i would see in the store and wish i had a reason to buy. now i have a reason and it’s going to be mine forever after. i can’t wait to wear it. seriously. i LOVE it.

i’d like to say i’m just completely amped about next weekend (because i am), but there’s been a little sadness too. i would be lying if i said watching aaron and gracie walk through this process together hasn’t made me jealous about the fact that i’m not getting married anytime soon. and insecure. no one wants to be the groom’s-single-older-sister. ew. so naturally i’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to have some fab frocks for all of the festivities. combine that with the fact that i’m ridiculously cheap, and i’ve been having a time finding anything i like. i hit nearly every store at southpark mall tonight. first, a few thoughts:

1. what is with all the one-shoulder dresses? they were cool last year and aside from an occasional re-wear, i’m seriously over them.
2. never in my life have i found so many beautiful white/ivory lacy dresses. why does that happen the one time that it’s inappropriate to wear such a dress?

3. why did this supremely perfect dress (alice + olivia) have to cost so much? if it had been up to me, i would have bought it and been done.
4. why do dresses cost so much and still fit so badly? i’m a size 6-8 here, people. pretty standard. most of what i put on was horribly unflattering and just fit poorly.

i had all but given up when i stopped in ann taylor on my way out of the mall. um. when did ann taylor become awesome? i think i might have found a new favorite store. i liked nearly everything in the place. color, neutrals, work wear, weekend wear. everything. i went a little crazy and tried on much more than dresses. look at all those goodies! that blazer was the best thing ever and if anyone wants to buy it for me, i’ll take a size 6.

i ended up surprising myself by falling in love with the bright pink deconstructed sheath dress. (even before i realized it was 50% off). let me say that these images above from the site do no do it justice. it is gorgeous and modern and so flattering. and totally unfussy. it has that oh-i-just-threw-this-on-and-look-fabulous air. after wearing it around the dressing room for a while soliciting compliments from anyone who wanted to give them, i walked out of the store with a fantastic rehearsal dinner dress. 

in a perfect world, i would style it up like this. given that i own nothing even remotely similar to these items, the likelihood that i’m going to pull it together in less than a week is probably not great. i may have to get creative with what i’ve got. the good news is the sock bun is always cool and won’t require any planning or effort.

in other wedding weekend fashion news, i plan on picking this little number up on monday at ivy & leo by my office. that is, if no one has bought it yet. i’ve been stalking it for a couple of weeks now and the verdict is in. i need it.

much more wedding goodness to come. for real.

photo credit: 1.brightyoungthoughts 2.lillypulitzer 3.nordstrom
 4. @cdcote on instagram 5/6.anntaylor 7.polyvore 8.designerbagsanddirtydiapers 

christmas confessions

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

you know how we all have our weird quirks? i think everyone has a whole special set of minorly embarrassing holiday ones. we all have such set christmas traditions and ways that we celebrate (or, in some cases don’t celebrate) this time of year. so, in the spirit of giving, here are some of mine. please promise you won’t judge me.

1. i don’t like charlie brown’s christmas. i know that probably makes me un-american, but their christmas tree sucks, lucy is bossy and annoying, linus just walks around stinking everywhere and no one listens to charlie’s whining. due to significant lack of coffee last week, i let this little one slip in front of the whole staff at work. not something i probably should have shared so early in the game. don’t worry, i do enjoy many other heartwarming holiday films. i’m not a total scrooge.

2. until two years ago, i thought the song “i saw mommy kissing santa claus” was the most horrible christmas song ever. i just couldn’t understand why we have a beloved carol about mom whoring around on dad. i made a comment to this end, and was told that santa claus is actually the dad in that song. somehow this had escaped me until age 24. all that aside, i still hate the song, but at least mom is playing by the rules.

3. i think fruitcake is delicious. rum? check. candied fruit? check. intensely concentrated carbs? check check check.

4. i listen to christmas music starting in august. you can be annoyed if you want to, but that’s not really going change anything. additionally, my 98 degrees this christmas, n’sync home for christmas and hanson snowed in albums are some of my absolute favorites. shiny teen popstars really understand how to celebrate the holidays.

5. i have never had a real tree. my mom was allergic growing up, but honestly i just don’t see how they make sense economically. my artificial one is free every year. and actually, since i took it out of my neighbor’s trash, it’s always been free. now that makes me feel festive.

6. i will swear on pretty much anything you want that i heard reindeer hooves on my roof in the middle of the night one christmas eve when i was young. not a dream. when i found out santa wasn’t really showing up at my house in a sleigh every year, i could accept it minus this one little occurrence. i’d still like to know what i heard that night.

7. my brother and i still, at 24 and 26, sit on the living room floor in our pajamas and open our stockings together. aaron can hate me for posting this photo, but he should also thank me that i didn’t post the photo i found from christmas a few years earlier where he’s wearing his new football helmet and no pants.

8. in the fifth grade, my class put on this freaking awesome christmas pageant at school. we re-wrote and enacted the night before christmas poem about our school’s principal and had musical performances by fifth graders impersonating famous people. i was a fifties dancer in brenda lee’s rocking around the christmas tree. i wore a hot pink poodle skirt and danced around the christmas tree (which was actually a girl named lila who got the raw end of the deal) with a little hispanic girl named guadeloupe. (see crappy photo above.) we also all painted and wore wreath sweatshirts (hand prints made the wreath, fingerprints were the berries) to wear for the show. additional headliners included performances from bruce springsteen, alvin and the chipmunks and run dmc. i’m not sure what i learned in fifth grade other than all of the lyrics to christmas in hollis, which i still remember and would be happy to sing (rap?) for you on command.

9. i used to write secret letters for santa even after i knew he wasn’t real. i would hide them in my room on christmas eve and excitedly look to see if he found them on christmas morning. sadly he never did, but that didn’t keep me from trying. i may have held on to the santa myth a little longer than i’m proud of. i blame hallmark and all of their heartwarming, magical christmas specials.

10. i don’t think new york city at christmas is really all that special. it’s mostly just overcrowded and over-commercialized. i’d like to find it magical, but i’m just not sold.

1.weheartit 2.kenlevine 3.harryanddavid 4.lyricsdog 8.nyctourist

so thankful

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

driving home last night to have pre-thanksgiving pizza with my family, i reflected on how much things change and how important it is to live in the present with a thankful heart. our jobs and activities often focus on the future – organizing events, creating strategic plans and projections, preparing for presentations. i catch myself often jotting down goals and endless to-do lists for the rest of the day/week/month and thinking ahead to how great things will be when (insert task/item/need/want here) has come to fruition or been completed. thanksgiving is beautiful because it is the holiday that allows us to stop thinking about the future, stop planning and working and coordinating, and just enjoy being with those we love and reflecting on what we actually do have in that present moment.

i have quite a number of things on my to-do list this weekend, all of which, put together, are making me feel a bit overwhelmed. but tomorrow i am going to ignore that list and just enjoy the day for what it is. i’m going to be thankful for my family, my home, my friends, my job, my tiny mac laptop and the happiness that blogging brings me, my faith, my health, my seat warmers in my car, my cat, bargain shopping, $1 cinnamon rolls at ikea, and the One who has blessed me with all of this and more.

as i drove through town tonight on the last few minutes of my drive, most of the big historic houses in town were lit up and alive with celebration. two in particular caught my attention. in the first, a family was putting up a christmas tree in their front window. someone was on a ladder to reach a top branch. in the second, a large group congregated together with drinks in the front room. both of these glimpses filled me with warmth and perfectly captured the spirit of the holiday season and the intentional pauses that we need to take to reflect, be joyful and enjoy the present.

this year, more than others, my heart is full. i have been blessed beyond measure and i am truly thankful.

image via houzz


Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

one year ago today is one of my fondest memories with bestie sarah and bestie lacey. sarah and jason’s wedding was filled with so much love, happiness, dancing, and pumpkin doughnuts and i’ve been looking back over photos this weekend and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. it is such a blessing to be able to stand up with someone you love as they say their wedding vows and i was so honored to support sarah and jason as they asked the lord’s blessing on their union. i can only hope my own wedding is as wonderful. happy one year anniversary sarah and jason! love you both so much!

top image via brandywine photography