December 19, 2014

christmas lyrics that make NO sense.


Maybe I'm being too literal but often times when listening to classic Christmas music, I take a moment and think to myself... WTF?  Some of the lyrics, while they make perfect sense for the flow of a song, literally make no sense to me, rationally. See below.

"A child, a child, shivers in the cold. 
Let us bring him silver and gold."

Um, he's freezing, the last thing he needs is metallic items that serve no purpose other than to make him feel like a pimp. Save it for Kanye and get that baby another blanket!

via google
Or this nugget...
"He sees you when you're sleeping.
He knows when you're awake."

Talk about a Big Brother moment. Sheesh! I know this song is meant for kids hear, so they are on their best behavior, but lets me real. If Santa can see me when I'm sleeping, that dirty old man can also see me when I'm showering and pooping! Do you know how much that bothered me as a little kid!!!?!?!?  #problems

"What a laugh it would have been. 
If daddy had only seen,
momma kissin' Santa Claus last night!"

Not really totally odd - I mean we know basically, or hopefully, Momma is just kissing her husband dressed up as Santa Claus, and it's sweet because the boy or girl doesn't realize it's daddy.

The other day though a dear blogger pal of mine Lora posted on facebook how the Jackson 5 version of this song always makes her really uncomfortable and nervous. She imagines what might happen to momma if Joe Jackson actually caught her kissing Santa. I couldn't help but laugh but now I think twice about the song every time I hear it. Thanks Lora!!!

"We won't leave until we get some. 
We won't leave until we get some..."

We Wish You A Merry Christmas starts off OK, but then the demands for figgy pudding set in, and they won't leave until they get some? WTF? Get off my porch, quit waking the neighbors you heathens!

"There'll be scary ghost storys, 
and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago."

 Mike reminded me that this is probably talking about The Christmas Carol. The classic tale about being visited by 3 Ghosts.  I for one think it's probably true but more literally who the fuck is telling ghost stories around a fire during Christmas. Morbid! Well, honestly, I probably would.


"In the meadow we can build a snowman,
then pretend that he is Parson Brown.

He'll Say: Are you Married?
We'll say: No Man, but you can do the job while
you're in town.

Later on we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire,
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made,
walking in a winter wonderland..."

More like realize we're insane, thinking a snowman could marry the two of you. When the ripple wears off, the dude is going to be like... shit, what did I just do??? This bitch is crazy! Or vice versa.

So there you go... crazy people building snowman, ghost stories, freezing babies and carolers with demands. It's nothing like the Christmas season right?

What is your FAVORITE carol? And does it have a strange lyric? Mine is "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "Little Drummer Boy" they both slay me with welled up eyes EVERY. TIME. I hear them.  Merry Holidays & Happy New Year!!!
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December 12, 2014

Christmas: love and dislike.

It's the hap-happiest season of all... or is it?

90% of the time I will go with YES, it is. Then there is that wee little grinch in my blood that wants to yell... 'Hated it!', in true Blaine Edwards fashion. [If you don't know who that is, google Men on Film In Living Color - I'll wait].

I thought for fun I'd compile my most loved things about Christmas and my most disliked items - because let's be real, I could  never HATE Christmas...

Yes, that's me, many moons ago. I look like my dad.
Remember when my blog was called Dare to be Domestic!?
See below, but yeah, fake beards on Mall Santas are whack!

LOVE IT!
  • The smell of pine needles. [Mike enjoys the smell of pine needles in the vacuum, it's his thing].
  • The smell of scotch tape - I think I've discussed this before but one thing that blew my mind in talking about the holidays with Mike is that he shares the same affinity for the scent of scotch tape, and it immediately makes us both thing of Christmas.
  • Christmas Cookies - although I never seem to leave enough time to bake them and enjoy it without being stressed.
  • Coca Cola cans with Santa on them. LOVE! I think that Coca Cola's rendition of Santa is my absolute favorite.
  • Coca Cola +  and Orange = best snack ever. It reminds me of being a young kid. Every year, as we got off the bus for winter break Mrs. Hobbs would give us an orange and a coke and tell us to have a Merry Christmas. Nostalgia is king in my book!
  • EGG NOG! Mike hates this stuff, just the word NOG alone grosses him out - unless it's heavily spiked with booze, then he'll reconsider. Myself, I prefer it without libations. Straight up.
  • Purchasing coordinating wrapping paper. Mike and I make it a point to get seriously artistic with our wrapping paper choices. We usually purchase about 4 different rolls, all match in color scheme, but not in pattern. This year, it's all about the kraft like paper, with funny sayings and images, and deer and plaid and foxes and nature and - trust me, it's awesome.
  • Going through ornaments to hang them on the tree. While I don't put all my old ornaments up, I do like to take time to think about when I got them all (most are from my childhood), others are ones Mike and I have collected over the years.
  • Christmas cards - Making and receiving. I LOVE getting them in the mail.
  • CHRISTMAS MOVIES!  Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Die Hard, Home Alone, Bad Santa, Scrooged, Rudolph and many more are among my favorites!
  • Classic Christmas Songs - I'm not talking like Ms. Carey - ugh I can't stand her Christmas songs, please don't play me any Michael BUBBLE (I know that's not his real name) I can't stand him either. GIVE ME THE OLD STUFF, the CLASSIC GOOD STUFF and if I have to go "modern" I won't go any further than Bruce Springsteen or RUN D.M.C.. No one does Hip-Hop Christmas anymore. PS I might even listen to some NKOTB for nostalgic purposes from time to time. I just don't love newer Christmas music.
  • Shopping for presents. While I do enjoy receiving - I truly enjoy buying gifts for others more. Getting to see friends and family get excited about a gift I picked just for them, makes me feel amazing.
  • Giving back. Giving to charity this time of year - it should be something we think about and do every day of the year, but right now, in this season of all seasons, it feels especially good.
  • Saying HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  I believe that all holidays this time of year are special to everyone for different reasons. Just because I don't say MERRY CHRISTMAS to all, 24/7, this time of year doesn't mean I love Christ any less, it just means that I am completely ok with all the other holidays that are happening all around us as well. PS One of my dear friends in elementary school was Jewish, and I enjoyed every year that we got to not only talk about Christmas but learn about her family's customs as well. I think all children should be fortunate enough to experience things like this, this time of year.  Bottom line if I KNOW you celebrate Christmas, I will say "Merry Christmas!" if I am unsure, you'll get a smile and "Happy Holidays!" 
  • Christmas Lights. I love driving around seeing everyone's lights, helping put them all over the house, and the great feeling it gives me. Warm fuzzies!
  • Christmas Dinner. Not to be upstaged by Thanksgiving, because it's just as delicious. This year Mike and I will be making dinner for my father and we're both pretty excited.
  • Remembering what it was like to sneak downstairs before my parents on Christmas day to see my bounty before waking them.
  • Christmas Window displays at stores.
  • AMAZON.COM best damn thing ever! (next to buying local of course).
  • Pinterest - Mike and I use the website exclusively to make our wish lists to each other.
  • Santa hats for dogs and cats!
  • CANDY CANES!
  • I'll Be Home For The Holidays! This song always slays me, I well up, and cry whenever I hear it. This year I can sing it, and be 100% right, because I will be home for the holidays. And it makes me SO excited!
DISLIKE IT!
  • Baking cookies when I'm stressed.
  • Christmas before Thanksgiving. I get it, you're excited, but I, personally, literally "can't even..." until I've had Thanksgiving dinner, turkey coma and relaxed. I don't decorate, I don't sing songs, I don't listen to music and I most certainly don't watch movies. It's simply not my thing. To each his/her own, but you won't catch me doing it.
  • Black Friday - I might change my tune when I have a kid. And I want to get the best deal on whatever their little hearts desire. I just don't have the want, or need to get out on Black Friday and shop. Thanksgiving eve - FORGETABOUTIT! Cyber Monday - you're my BFF and I love you.
  • Fruit Cake. Seriously wtf!?
  • Newer Christmas Music - NO M. Carey, BUBBLE, or Lady Gaga please and thank you!
  • The fact that all too often Christmas becomes about THE GIFTS instead of the true meaning of the season.
  • Mall Santas - that don't even have a real beard. Come ON - you gotta really sell this to kids these days with all the HD and WIFI... when did I become Drunk Uncle?

Middle road: that damn Elf on the Shelf. I think it's great, but also very annoying. I give full kudos to all parents who keep track of that little booger and keep him accountable for the kids. I am sure one day I will be that parent but for now I am content to just look at the photos, and laugh and wonder where you find all your amazing energy!!!

All in all this isn't too bad and just what came to mind quickly. More positive than negative. That's always a bonus in my book.

So tell me, what list did you make it on this year??? Santa's good list, or bad list?
If you don't celebrate Christmas - what do you love MOST about your celebrations?? I'd love to hear!


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December 10, 2014

an evening with weezer. 12.6.2014

As you can guess from the title of the blog, I went to yet another concert this year. Mike and I are on a roll. The kicker to this concert was that it was a total surprise for me. I had NO CLUE they were coming to Atlanta (way to keep up with your 2nd favorite band Kelly), and Mike secretly purchased tickets for us, and reserved a room at a quaint little in located in the Highlands area of Atlanta (read: the really HIPster part of town!)  When I opened his gifts on my birthday (12/1/2014) I was so shocked, and excited and floored!!!

We headed out of town on Saturday morning - arriving in ATL just in time to check into the awesome little Highland Inn and get our room. The best I can describe the place is that it's much like a boutique hotel, or almost like a bed and breakfast with your own private bathroom. And without all that awkward bed and breakfast feel (If you watch Gilmore Girls you get what I mean).

We didn't waste anytime, we checked into our room, dropped off our bags and headed out into the street. We had about 20 minutes until the SEC Championship game started! We walked quickly down to the local pub, Manuel's. It was literally less than 2 blocks from our hotel. We settled into a booth close to the bar TV and prepared ourselves for the big game. We shared sandwiches and beers and cheered and chatted during the entire game. Those of you that realize, we were in "DAWG" territory, so I'm sure most of the patrons were cheering for Missouri to whoop our asses, sadly for them, happily for us, that didn't happen. It was a hell of a game, and thankfully we had one more Bama fan in the room with us. Air fives were exchanged, a lot that afternoon!  We celebrated Bama's victory (RAMMER JAMMER YELLOW HAMMER GIVE 'EM HELL ALABAMA!), gave a hearty ROLL TIDE, finished off our beers and headed back to the hotel, in time to freshen up, and hop in the Jeep and head downtown.

Can I just tell you how much I love Google Maps and directions given through your phone!!! I always scoffed at the idea, but now I'm like WE NEED THAT! It's great for last minute choices to go to dinner, or just to find out where the hell you are.

The ride to the Tabernacle in downtown ATL was a short and pleasant drive. And we scored a parking spot RIGHT outside the venue. Perfect!

This venue, is awesome. If you ever get a chance to see an act there go. It's standing room only, and mostly general admission, minus the balcony upstairs, but it's amazing!!!

I thought I'd give you a recap of the show, but instead of my normal run down, I will share with you the email I sent to my bestie J, all about the show. He and I went to many a weezer show together ages ago. Mike and I made sure to text during the show to share some of it with him.

EMAIL TO BESTIE J: 
[This hasn't been edited, so I might ramble, but pretend it was an email I sent to you!]
Items in RED I added for you!

DUDE!
So the show was legit awesome.

We went to ATL's Tabernacle - small venue, much like 9:30 club, maybe a bit wider. It used to be a church years ago, I believe, so it has the really nice balcony up top, and the back drop for the stage is a HUGE set of pipes for an organ. (Covered mostly by Weezer's back drop).

When you walk in there is a whole down stairs for the merch, and bathrooms and bars, then in the main hall there are three bars (only one was open) - I had 1 beer... at the price of $10.00 HOLY EFF... so yeah, I was like pass - I figured I'd only want water after it started anyway. I was not impressed by the t-shirts. None were special to the show, and all are available on the website so I passed on getting anything - I did the same thing when they played Music Midtown. I didn't LOVE any of the shirts, and none were specific to the tour or the date.

We got to the place, not really late, but most people had already filtered into the front of the stage so we hung back - I feared I'd have to pee and didn't want to fight to get to the front again - like I said in my text I had two total douches behind me that talked the entire effing time!

While in line outside there were a few people behind us talking and one was like... "I hope they play their old stuff, like Island in the Sun!" and I thought... here it is my 38th birthday.. KILL ME NOW if you think that's the "OLD STUFF". [FYI Weezer has been together since the early 90's, nothing released with a 00, 01, 02 etc is old stuff kids!!!]  Needless to say, I turned to Mike before it started and I said my only expectation or hope is that they will play at least 3 Pinkerton songs.... AND maybe do Only In Dreams to close out the show with confetti.

When the show started I got really giddy when I saw some bit of confetti falling by accident from the ceiling... EEEE! Sadly it wasn't for Only In Dreams - I think that was a once in a lifetime thing [Wish I could remember the year we went to that show, but the Final song being Only In Dreams, with the ceiling raining down confetti after the biggest part of the song, was pretty awesome].

The only other disappointment - this is the 2nd show that they haven't used the Light up W at all. *sad*

NOT SURE WHY THIS IS GONE FROM THE SHOW, IT'S NEEDED!
via • Charm City Baltimore Music Festival
The whole show was really really awesome. Like I said [in my text] the first whole set was just acoustic instruments - single drum, keyboard a bit (not really acoustic) and guitars.

The set began, the first song was ONLY Rivers. 2nd Song it was Rivers and Brian, 3rd Song Rivers, Brian and Scott, 4th Song Rivers, Brian, Scott and Pat - then the rest of the first set was all of them together. You could tell that quite a few of the fans were like WTF? While I was like THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME!!!! Then again this was my what? Maybe 5th time seeing them live? How many times did we see them together? Plus Music Midtown for me + this show? Music Midtown was great, they slayed it in the pouring ass rain, I feared Rivers would get electrocuted because he just didn't care about the weather... they did a great set of greatest hits to make everyone happy from day 1 until the current album.

So yeah... total acoustic set - and I got my 3 Pinkerton songs, + the B Side to El Scorcho (first song in the set). PLUS December which he said they haven't played live since 2002 - which honestly Maladroit is honestly one of my favorite albums. I know it was one that most fans really were meh about but the more I listen to it then more I loved it.

Acoustic Set Via My Instagram
The Acoustic was a great,  a little bit from each album but I was happy the Pinkerton was so heavy, maybe that was due to it being an acoustic set but even the fast pace "tired of sex" and "good life" were awesome.

The lights went down - they dropped the plain black back drop curtain - and all came out in different gear - Rivers was in a "boat captain / sea navy looking suit" All the people setting the stage were in lab coats... the lights came up and you saw the back drop being the new album cover and BAM they went right into the new album song 1 thru the end - it was awesome!

Everything Will Be Alright In The End Set Via My Instagram

I can understand some fans being miffed about it - but honestly ... if I had been touring and playing for over 20+ years I'd want to play new shit too! Pearl Jam does the same thing... very heavy on new material, but I sort of like that. If it was years ago I might be upset but honestly I love the new album so getting to hear it start to finish was awesome. The confetti came during the ending of Either Foolish Father or Wasteland I can't remember. Not ONLY IN DREAMS awesome but still so fun.

They also dropped balloons out in the audience during the 1st or 2nd song of the set. They closed the night out with Surfwax America and it was great!!! I was smiling from ear to ear, and Mike was super excited that I was so excited. I think he literally told me "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" about 10 times, and I laughed and smiled bigger EVERY time.

It was as TON of fun. I wouldn't doubt if they do more touring this winter / spring for the album. This was clearly a small venue, and it was a small show... only went from like 9 pm - 11 pm (when we saw Pearl Jam it was 8 - 11:30 ONLY pearl jam. There was no opener for Weezer and I see that most of their other dates were music festivals - short sets. And this one was for a Radio show in ATL. I noticed that Foo Fighters are doing a TON of small pop up shows like the one in DC and the one in Nashville that sell out in no time flat. I think they are all trying to not only get back to their roots but also trying to drum up excitement about the new albums which I think is great.

-Kelly

********

OFFICIAL SET LIST: WEEZER • ATL • 12/06/2014

Acoustic SET
You Gave Your Love to Me Softly
Why Bother?
King
El Scorcho
December (First performance since 2002)
The Good Life
Island in the Sun
No One Else
Buddy Holly

NEW ALBUM SET:
Everything Will Be Alright in the End
Ain't Got Nobody
Back to the Shack
Eulogy for a Rock Band
Lonely Girl
I've Had It Up to Here
The British Are Coming
Da Vinci
Go Away (with Anna Kramer)
Cleopatra
Foolish Father
The Waste Land
Anonymous
Return to Ithaka

Encore: Surf Wax America

I had an amazing time in ATL with Mike, for my birthday and with Weezer. Mike you've really outdid yourself this time... I guess I better start planning our birthday weekend 2015!!!! Thank you again, love you babe!

*** For a quick video visit my instagram: instagram.com/turnedup2eleven/
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November 12, 2014

planning...

I already have plans for July 4th, 2015. Did you read that right... I'm actually making plans almost 8 months in advance... who am I? To be honest, I had to... I couldn't miss a chance to be a part of the festivities that day, in 2015.

In honor of my plans for July 4th and because I'm tired as hell today... I present to you... (and oldie but goodie) Coffee video.


/

What are my plans for July 4th? Well, I'll be seeing the guy featured above, his band and a slew of his besties in what I consider to be my "hometown" (close enough if I still lived in Maryland I'd be going to concerts in DC on the regular, and used to all the time).  I'm pretty freaking stoked and ready to break my Foo Fighters Live virginity AND celebrate their 20th Anniversary with a TON of fans!!! CHEERS TO PLANNING! [I'm over the moon excited about Heart!!!!]

Tonight I shall purchase the vinyl for FF's new release... oh yes... I shall!

via the internet, duh.
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November 03, 2014

halloween recap... 2014

Halloween 2014... we came, we saw, we kicked it's ass!!!!

For the evening, Mike and I joined our friend A for a fundraising event her company was putting on. Basically you ride a trolley all over our downtown area and hop off at certain participating bars, grab yourself a free drink, and another drink if you want and then hop back on the trolley and head on to the next stop. The final stop was our local brewery (the first of it's kind here in town) for the after party.

It was a blast. We rock our costumes to the fullest and at the end of the night took home the prize for "BEST COSTUME!!!" I didn't think we'd even have a chance but apparently I was wrong.

Who you gonna call?
In honor of the 30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters, and well just because who wouldn't want to dress up as a ghostbuster, am I right? We got ourselves all geared up, and I must say rocked the looks completely. Yes those are personalized name badges on our uniforms and military issue flight suits AND belts. Mike was more legit with his elbow pads and cool old googles, but I still had a blast dressing up my costume with make-up, a cute Rosie the Riveter style bandana AND my Ouija necklace (I had to connect with the spirits somehow, right?).

I hope you all had a fabulous halloween, this one was tops in my book... I just wish I could remember most of the evening. (Free drinks, I swear had very little alcohol in them, and yet Mike and I can't seem to remember all the details of the night.. thank God for cabs!).

Happy Halloween Hangover to all and to all a good night!
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October 22, 2014

three years and counting.


Dear Mike,
Husband of mine. That sounds so formal. Babe, that's better. I'm shocked that we've been married three years, already. Where has the time gone? Some days I look at us and think it's been a lifetime, then I stop, and remind myself that we have so much more to experience together, and it makes me thankful, and extremely happy.

I couldn't have asked for a better partner in life, and love.

I am always thankful, and happy when I am with you.

I'm always excited to start each day knowing I'm your wife.

I am also very proud of all that you do for us as a couple and as a family. I know our two small fur babies will agree.

Thank you for being the best husband a girl could ask for.
Happy Anniversary babe! I love you.

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October 21, 2014

an evening with pearl jam... memphis, tn

The date was October 14, 2015, yes, just last Tuesday, one week ago, and I'm still slightly floating from the experience. My husband, Mike has ALWAYS been a huge Pearl Jam fan. I will admit, I too have always been a fan, although somewhere in the mid 2000's I sort of lost my way not listening to them as much as I did in the beginning, shame on me, not for lack of liking, just not following as closely as I should have. I lost a lot of valuable time with the band and I admit it was a complete mistake.

For many years, Mike was an on again and off again Ten Club member (fan club for those of you wondering what that is). After the release of Pearl Jam's latest album, Lightening Bolt, they announced they would be going on tour. Their first show was revealed that they would headline Austin City Limits. Mike and I have always wanted to go to Austin together (he's been once many years ago for his sister's wedding), and add to that PJ in concert, YES PLEASE! We held off purchasing tickets, we were still waiting to hear the line up for the Music Midtown Festival in Atlanta this past summer, the concert promoters were very late this year with their announcements, so we nixed plans to hit up Austin, hoping, praying that PJ would come somewhere close to us for a show. The wait was painful, I was anxious, and in the end the line up for Music Midtown, totally sucked this year. I kicked myself for not securing ACL tickets, and for not trying to purchase tickets to the 10.22 show in Colorado, more on that in a bit.

Mike and I waited and then the tour dates were released and the angels of rock sang, and said "Memphis, TN had a date, a special date just for the two of you!" Ok they didn't really sing that but that's what I heard. As a Ten Club member Mike was also able to enter a lottery for tickets. He entered us into both categories, seats (2 tickets) or General Admission Pit (2 tickets). And we waited as patiently as possible for the results to come in. Either way we would win out - a chance to have decent seats, or standing room only to see Pearl Jam live, I'd happily take either option. I was so ready for another show, it's been 2 years since my FIRST and only PJ concert, this would mark I believe Mike's 5th or 6th. I have no desire to stop seeing them live, I hope he doesn't either. I could go a million more times and still be floored.  After what seemed liked forever, the lottery results were in, and HOLY EFFING HELL - we got General Admission PIT tickets. Even after the show I'm still in shock... this was our first lottery, we got PIT, and I was blown away!!!

And then we waited for the show date... the waiting drove me mad.

Mike and I will be celebrating our 3rd Wedding Anniversary this month, and this concert was our way to celebrate, and our gift to each other. Much like our first anniversary, tickets were purchased with our anniversary in mind. So finally October 14th arrived, and we were headed to Memphis.

That morning we both worked a partial day and hit the road. We arrived in Memphis, to the Fed Ex Forum at about 2 PM I believe? Time is sort of a blur at that point. Immediately we saw the merch trailer, and a MASSIVE line that wrapped half way around the building. We quickly rushed to claim our spot in the line. It was a cold and semi wet day out, but I didn't care. I had a jacket, and determination to get the merch I wanted. Can I just say I think it's genius and awesome that we could purchase our shirts, posters, stickers etc BEFORE the show started. Allowing us to put them safely in the car, and not have them get ruined during the show. Downside to this, I stood in line for over an hour waiting to get a shirt. This did give us time to do a few things... Mike checked into our hotel, and was able to wait to get our wristbands for the pit at will call, and then have time to come meet me, to get his shirt, and poster, and stickers, and my tank and my scarf. Yep, I got a Pearl Jam scarf and it's awesomeee!

via • turnedup2eleven
After securing our loot - the poster was the BIGGEST score, and what we wanted the most, we met up with a friend from back home "What up Phil!" and Mike's Aunt and Uncle who flew in for a visit from Cali, and honestly, go to go the show, their first, for the record.  We dropped our items off at the car and hit Beale Street for some beers and FINALLY food. My biggest worry with being in the pit was that I was going to have to wait in line ALL. DAMN. DAY, and possibly NOT get to eat. I had original plans to meet up with Misty of Handbags and Handguns and Natalie of My Crazy Busy Life, I still hate we couldn't work that out but unfortunately, I had to head home the next AM right after waking up for work - I promise girls, next time!!! [Yes, I went to bed at 2 am in Memphis, and was back to work in Northern Alabama by lunch time the next day - and yes, I am aware that I'm crazy].

FIRST BREW STOP:

We hit up a little bar on the corner for some local craft beer, and then wandered over to Dyer's for what I thought would be a simple cheeseburger, and it ended up being the best damned greasy burger ever. If you are in the mood for a good old fashion, slider style burger, a bit like Five Guys but WAY less commercial, way more delicious and with a sweet set of servers, hit up Dyer's next time you're there. We loved it, and almost had it again for dinner (more on that later). FYI - I was so hungry taking a photo wasn't happening, sorry!

After filling our guts, and having a beer or two, we decided it was time to get in the General Admission line. It had been forming all day long, but honestly, the weather was crap, we got in line and probably waited another 45 mins before getting to go inside. Longest day of waiting ever.

Once inside, we were instructed to take our time, not to run, and be orderly. So we did... as we walked through our gate doors to the pit, I got really anxious, then I saw how small the pit was. Not tiny mind you, but in relation to the rest of the room, fairly quaint, small, cozy, and thankfully not a ton of people had made it down to the pit, so Mike and scurried down and got ourselves a nice little spot, on the right hand side of the stage where soon Stone would stand to play. While waiting for the show to start (another hour), we made friends with our surrounding Ten Club pals and settled in for a great night.

There was no opening act, literally just an evening with Pearl Jam which was better than I could have asked for. Standing by the stage we realized, we were indeed, only three rows back from the security barrier in front of the stage. Literally, third row. HOLY FREAKING AWESOME! Now, our trade off for this awesomeness is that I had to deal with a drunk, older woman, doing her "sexy" dance for Eddie any time he came to our side of the stage. I get that there is ONE person in every crowd that pisses the masses off, but why the hell do they alway have to end up next to me?!?! She had wormed her way up front, through all of us that were waiting there a FULL hour for the show to start, right before it was time for the show to begin. My first instinct was to tell her off, but I noticed that others were annoyed but trying to be cool about the situation. I watched a few dirty looks in which she was oblivious too, and finally a couple in front of me, the man looked her dead in the eye as she tried to push to be 2nd row from the stage and pretty much told her "fat chance, move back!" Whew, I really thought no one would say anything. We had just been told by two girls from Pittsburg about 20 minutes prior that everyone in the pit is respectful, and cool and then THIS happens and my inner ghetto fab wanna be gangsta alter ego just about lost it... I might also note I had PMS really bad so it could have been REALLY ugly. Thank you PJ for making me realize I'd rather not be kicked out before the show even started, and thank you to my husband who helped me navigate dealing with her ALL. NIGHT. LONG! Tolerating her was a chore but eventually I was able to worm my way away from her, put my back to her and enjoy the show with Mike, and the rest of our new found crew. Minus the super tall Tennessee Fan [who was a rather cool guy, just too tall] in front of me who I had to duck and weave a bit to avoid having my view of the guys blocked it was perfect.

SET LIST • MEMPHIS, TN
OCTOBER 14, 2014 • PJ FALL 2014 TOUR
via pearl jam's instagram


Pendulum 
Wash 
Low Light 
Why Go 
All Night 
Mind Your Manners 
Even Flow 
Lightning Bolt 
Sirens 
1/2 Full 
Garden 
Alone 
Wishlist 
Given to Fly 
Let the Records Play 
Spin the Black Circle 
Black 
Rearviewmirror 

Encore: 
Nothing as It Seems 
Come Back 
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town 
Do the Evolution 
Breath 
Porch 

Encore 2: 
Once Crazy Mary (Victoria Williams cover) 
Better Man 
Alive 
Rockin' in the Free World (Neil Young cover) 
Yellow Ledbetter

29 Songs... 29 SONGS! From all different walks of their 20+ Year career. Some rarely performed and all of which blew me away!!! [Photos in NO particular order, and these were all taken by Mike (his instagram)

 This was most likely at the end of the night - one of the encores!


 Eddie preparing to share wine with the masses, or at least the front row!

 Jeff & Stone rocking out.

Like I said, no particular order, this was early in the evening, lights were still low, 
and little to none of the "set" was revealed at this time.

Huge highlights: 

Eddie took time to walk all over the stage, and jumped into the crowd (sadly not on our side, I think he sensed all the women in the pit surrounding us might not be able to hold him up and might in fact, rip him to shreds... lovingly of course).

Lots of guitar picks were tossed by Mike, and 10 tambourines by Eddie.

Fans brought gifts for the guys, which they accepted, some put on t-shirts, others handed up items for Eddie to sign which he did gladly and handed back to the crowd, it was awesome, the love for the fans is HUGELY evident in all they do.

Eddie donned Elvis like shades (circa his Vegas like days), and then tossed them back into the crowd, as well as a hat and oddly enough someone handed up (tossed up) their cell phone, Eddie then proceeded to take a video of him singing, and all of us in the pit singing and then handed it back to security to give to the kid. How cool is that???

Eddie pass around a bottle of wine to the front row and sadly I didn't have a cup and it was almost gone by the time it made it to our side of the stage, but it's one of his trademark things he does at each show. And very cool.

I was excited to hear lots of their new songs live which they performed seamlessly, even though Eddie was under the weather and feeling sick, he had more energy than anyone in his same shoes. I never thought I'd see EV blow his nose, but stars, they're just like us right?

BIGGEST KICK!
I believe it was after they did the cover of Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World and the lights were up to see the entire stadium of people, that Mike shared a moment with Eddie.  Ed was scanning the crowd, waving to folks, giving thumbs up to others, smiling and taking in everyone in the room, and I mean EVERYONE he could see high or low, and he paused, he made a face like he had a question in his mind in my direction, but I could tell he wasn't looking straight at me, as he kept singing he pointed, gave a nod like, yeah!, and then gave a thumbs up... I was like who is he looking at? I turned around and Mike yelled "Did you see that?" and I said "Yeah, what was he doing?" Mike beamed... "He was looking at me, and gave me a thumbs up for my Mudhoney shirt. UM, HOW FREAKING AMAZING IS THAT??? In the 20+ years that Mike has loved this band, he goes to this show and gets a nod of encouragement AND a thumbs up from none other than Eddie Vedder! They shared, a moment. Ugh, so cool!

Seeing Jeff Ament smile, up close. I die.
The man in front of us that mentioned had stood up to the drunk chick (I wish I could describe all she was doing that drove me bonkers but it would take up TOO much space), he had a t-shirt that he was holding up at the end of the night, politely, below his field of vision and all of ours (drunk chick, not so much, she hit us all in the face at least once with her damn shirt... no clue what it said). This dude's shirt was a Luv Co. shirt - which Mike discovered later, was a cover band that Jeff and Mike were in back in the day. Jeff saw the shirt, and pointed to the guy smiling that he liked it, and the guy gave it to him. Jeff quickly put said shirt on and played the rest of the set wearing the Luv Co. shirt. After the final song, Jeff carried over the handwritten set list (by Eddie) and gave it to this guy. SUCH an amazing thing to receive. I might not have anything physical but I have these memories that will last me a lifetime.

After the show, we went into a few places on Beale to get some liquid refreshment, as well as something to eat again... it was now almost midnight, most places weren't serving... so we hit up the Blues City Cafe. I wanted diner food, sadly they didn't have burgers etc, but they did have MASSIVE cheese fries. I settled for regular steak fries smothered in cheese and jalapeƱos, Mike, Phil, and Tony opted for the Cajun fries... yes you guess it, same as mine but smothered in Gumbo! HOLY HELL, it was spicy but awesome! Warning, this place is a "dive bar" of sorts, but it's a delicious one!
The perfect end to a great day... cheese and fries... YES PLEASE!
After I ate, my eyes were heavy, my throat was sore, and my legs were tired from jumping, and standing and line, I was ready for bed. My brain was still buzzing from the show, but I knew work was calling the next day.

I enjoyed EVERYTHING about the Memphis show, and while I'm a bit jealous of all the Ten Club fans that have been literally following the band from town to town, seeing every show on this tour (how cool is that?), and I'm a bit envious they got to hear them play Yield in it's entirety last night, and a few nights prior all of their album No Code, I am so thankful we secured the place we did on the floor, had the opportunity to be that close, and celebrate our 3rd year of marriage like this. I wouldn't want it any other way!!!  We had even considered flying to Colorado when they FIRST mentioned the tour, because 10.22.14 is the Denver show. That is our anniversary, and I know I've mentioned it before, but it's also Pearl Jam's official anniversary of their first show, as a band. How amazing would that have been. Expensive, but amazing. To all fans that make that show, I am envious, but I will take Memphis with me forever.

Pearl Jam, thank you for all the memories! Thank you for returning to the south for shows and happy anniversary!!! Let's make it another 20+ years!
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October 01, 2014

Swamp Romp 2.0 [aka huff n' puffin' with my stuffin']

So it's been a very long time since I last wrote on this blog. As I stated yesterday, look at me 2 days in a row, RECORD! My last post was a re-post so I won't even count that as a dignified entry. That being said I guess the last time I actually took time to add something to this little corner of the internet was June. To be honest, not a ton has happened since June. Ok that's probably a lie. I've been to concerts, I've been kayaking a few times (not enough though), and I went to the beach for a glorious week with Mike's immediate family. It was great, but nothing I was overly wanting to blog about... until this weekend.

A few weeks ago, Mike and I innocently said yes to an invite to team up with some friends and compete in the 2.0 Swamp Romp 5k/3k Mud Run. A few of our dear friends from our 2 favorite watering holes were starting teams and running in the race. Mike and I figured, what the hell right? I will be the first to say it wasn't exactly Warrior Dash status, although to me it might as well have been. Did I mention I have never, in my life, ran a single mile?  Not even since elementary school. I always walked the mile in gym class. I did win a blue ribbon for a dash, (I forget how long) in Elementary school during our annual field day. I was like lightening that day, I also broke a school record but to be fair I think I was among one of the first of three classes to "graduate" from that school. It was fairly new so it wasn't like I broke a friend's grandmother's record or anything.

That being said, I'm not really athletic. I took dance classes growing up and was on the dance team in high school (brag: captain my senior year), and the only sport I was even close to successful at in school was volleyball, but it was a total popularity club, and well, it wore me out (again, not athletic).
I loved to dance so weezing during a kick line or dance routine never bothered me. I was probably in the BEST shape of my life my senior year. I ate like a horse, increased my ability to dance, run, kick and smile without dying, success! Running? OH HELL NO. Like I said, I walked the track 4 times around in high school with the cool girls, they smoked on the furthest area of the track and then snuffed out their cigs as they came around the bend near the teachers. I just followed along and laughed and chatted, and didn't push myself in the least during that time in my life.

Anytime I tried to be athletic, I got hurt.  Gym class was my least favorite. 3rd Grade, basketball, straight to my face. I sneezed for 45 minutes straight.  On the plus side, my nose didn't break. Middle school, field hockey, no pads, destroyed my shins left and right.  Even dance team, practice on the hard ass concrete floor in the cafeteria, resulted in shin splints from the wrong type of shoes. To say the least, I was a hot mess.

Why on earth did I think I could tackle a 3k mud run? Well, for starters there was beer at the finish line, and secondly I have friends back home that do it all the time [read: very in shape friends that can at least run a mile and for some reason I thought I was like them - yeah no]. I also thought I'd be among a few other people such as myself that weren't exactly stellar athletes but, just wanted to have fun. I was half right. I forgot how many of the servers at The Pie Factory and On the Rocks actually work out when they have off time, and others that don't smoke, and others that well, frankly just kick ass.

Mike and myself - aren't as buff. Yeah, I've done P90x-P90x3, I've done TurboFire and Chalean Extreme, I've dabbled in Insanity and even a few other workouts... but never stuck 100%. After the wedding I just got lazy... I'm still lazy... and it shows. I can lift weights all day long, I love it, but cardio, NO! Just... no. Mike likes video games, and relaxing and once said, and I quote "I am only going to run if a bear is casing me". We were the two most unlikely people to do this race, but again, figured you only live once, right?

SOOO we entered. And this past Saturday was the day it all changed.

SWAMP ROMP 2.0 / SEPTEMBER 27, 2014
We arrived early, really early, too early. Miscommunication. The day started at 8 AM we didn't know our team's race time, again, miscommunication. We didn't run until 11 am. Last heat of the races. Plenty of time for my nerves to build and to become VERY anxious before we started. I won't lie, I enjoyed a beer before. Not the WISEST of choices but I was thirsty. Note: Event people please have lots of water for sale next year... if it was out there I didn't see it, and I quickly slurped through my 32 oz I brought with me (because I thought I was running at 8 am, not 11). My bad.

Early Check In, Early Numbers. His and Hers.
Our team was awesome. The peeps at OTR and PF came up with the idea that since one of the businesses is a Pizza joint that we would wear Ninja Turtle colors, and they made tshirts that were awesome. It was so fun to get to put on all the gear and suit up to our hearts content. We even had a "mascot" for the day, our friend's puppy Ruzzo who is "festival famous" around these parts.

We took a group shot before... we are quite a crew are we not? (Mike and I are on the far left).

HEROES IN A HALF SHELL • TURTLE POWER!!!! • OTR / PF 2014 Swamp Romp 2.0 Crew
10:45 Time to prep!
We all stretched together - and made jokes about how we thought we'd do. I was happy to have such a HUGE group to run with, and a group of folks I knew. It made me feel better to know Mike and I since we were so inexperienced would have friends around us to lend a hand if needed.




11:00 AM - TIME TO RUN!
We lined up and the DJ gave us a big introduction, well gave THEM, all the hard workers at the Pie Factory and On the Rocks [they were also big sponsors of the day]. Sent us off with a good luck and we were wide open.

I will try to remember all of the events we had to complete along the way of the 3k. I tried to take mental notes but to be honest I think my brain said only one thing over and over "Holy shit, holy shit, what did I get myself into? Why do people do this for fun? What was I thinking? How is Mike running so well? He plays video games... maybe I should play video games... how did he just clear that hurdle? Holy shit, I can't breathe, focus... you can do this... stop being a slacker... I wanna go home... No, gotta push, I can do this... OH shit, I did it! I'm a beast!" etc. etc.

#1 ICE BATH
Right off the bat we dove into an ice bath - thankfully it was later in the day (racing started at 8 am), so most of the ice was melted and they ran out of ice to dump on us, but it was still cold, and deep. I was worried I'd slip and fall getting out but I did ok.

RUN/WALK - still feeling OK.

#2 HAY BAILS
There were about 8 bails of hay, huge round bails we had to climb up and then jump down. I tried to take a running leap and my foot sunk... lovely. Note to self: Nike Tempo Shorts suck ass for Mud Runs, next time wear some biker shorts under them.  I made it.

RUN/WALK for longer... huffing, and puffing the whole, damn way... I finally walked. Mike kept trucking but he kept me in his sights, thankfully.

#3 TIRE PILE
Looks pretty innocent, but then you start stepping on the old ass tires and some of them are dry rotted and brittle... joy to the world. I have scratches from that event, or maybe it was the rocks later... not sure.

RUN/WALK/WALK/WALK - at this point I was a little frustrated with myself. I should have prepared more.

#4 HURDLE / MUD HILL
As I'm walk running, panting and seriously thinking about giving up, yes this early, I see Mike just leap over the hurdle wall like it was NOTHING. Seriously, two hands on the top, and jump, cleared it... I thought to myself MAYBE I could do that, but then got closer and figured I better not try. I climbed over it, tried to joke with the college girls there to help out with the event and then went on.

RUN/WALK/BACK EFFING TRACK
The lovely college girls that had plenty of time to encourage Mike, and talk to him and tell him where to go didn't tell me jack shit. I saw the CAUTION TAPE but thought it was to avoid a huge hole (there was spray paint lining the track where we had to run to avoid holes). He made a hard left, and I missed it, I finally turned around and the 3 girls behind me, looked just as confused. Finally the three of us found the opening, and then I was dead last... And pissed.

#5 HANGING TIRES
This seemed really tame, I guess if you are running full force with other people it would be intimidating. I just shoved through last of the group... and then I finally said OK I need to get up again, and get ahead of these girls and over to Mike.

WALK/RUN

#6 BEAMS BETWEEN TREES
I jogged to Mike who had already cleared the tall beams we had to climb between two trees. I quickly learned as I climbed and then went to swing my leg over the top that my legs aren't as long as I thought, I had a bit of trouble getting footing to swing the other leg over but recovered ok.

WALK/RUN
Here is where we made a mistake, again I think that we weren't looking for our directional signs as well as we should have, I was following Mike's lead. At this point I saw the water station and thought... OK I'll run to the water station, it's close. So I took off jogging, then I saw that the jogging track was REALLY LONG, twice the distance I thought it was and for a minute I wanted to cry, and then I wanted to cheat and just run half the course to get to the water, but then I remembered that cheaters never truly win and started walking faster to catch up with Mike.

Note: I clearly don't know how to A) Pace myself and B) Breathe properly while running. I am going to work on that from here on out.

At this point my calve muscles were really starting to kill me. I stretched before hand but I think that because I wore "cross training" shoes for this run (they were older and I didn't care if they got destroyed) + my lack of experience was really starting to wear me down.

WATER
Oh the sweet refreshing nectar of the gods.
We realized after taking the long way around that we went the wrong way and missed out on probably 1 event in the woods for this run. Mike was like do you want to go through the woods and I probably said in a greatly bitchy, winded voice... "Hell no! Keep going!" Sorry babe if I was bitchy to you at all.

RUN/WALK for what felt like the longest distance yet.

#7 UP THE HILL
The course was made on an old golf course so we were running on a lot of greens up and down hills at this point. Once you crest the top of the hill, Mike had already gone further than me, so I was hanging with a woman who's husband left her in the dust. When we got to the top of the hill we were greeted by about 10 different directional arrows... I stopped and said, do they expect us to go in circles? Are we supposed to weave around the trees? Her words were as colorful as my own and we decided to bump that and just run straight through.

RUN/WALK - Kill me now!

#8 MINI MUD PIT HURDLES
Well, I guess we were supposed to jump over the flags? Maybe it was a crawl event but honestly no one was there, and the low laying flags had almost all fallen in the mud, and most of the prints in the mud pit resembled feet, not knee marks. So I pretended to jump hurdles just did a high knee movement until the end of the mud. At this point the three ladies behind me seemed to be cheating and just not competing anymore. Lame!

WALK/RUN around the small pond, on an incline. I picked a bad time to feel like I had a 2nd wind, my calves didn't like me running on a slant at all.

#9 MUD PIT #1
I saw Mike climbing out of the pit as I rounded the corner. He was covered at a slant in mud. He yelled back to me to be careful, it's really deep. I grabbed the guide rope and tried to walk gingerly down the small muddy hill... Since I'm so graceful I landed in the mud like a total lady... soaking myself from almost shoulder to toe in mud. After that all that was left to do was tromp to the other side, and try to climb out. Done. Finished it, did OK.

WALK/RUN down a bit and to the next MUD PIT.

#10 MUD PIT 1.5
Same pit, further down the way, and more water, I thought this might be easier, Mike warned me not to JUMP in, so I held on to some thick weeds (averted my mind away from all the ticks hiding in there) and slid into the mud and then it happened... OH EFF, my shoe was stuck... I tried not to panic but tried to remember what I learned about being stuck in quicksand... seriously, this is where my mind went. Instead of trying to pull my foot straight out, I wiggled it a little, and then pointed my toe and the shoe slid out... You know the saying "Sounds like a boot in mud." yup, just like that. Sick I know sorry...

Huffing and puffing I made it across the mud, and followed Mike on. He was still way ahead of me and I'm thankful he waited for me. I didn't want to go it alone.

WALK/RUN
At this point I was pretty exhausted, and my feet weighed a TON. We had a HUGE and long run ahead of us, and finally I believe made it to the next event. (Please note this is all a bit hazy at this point I might have left some out).

#11 UP HILL TIRE RUN
You know the tires that football players use for conditioning? The run through them back and forth with great speed, that is what this event was, but UP HILL. I tried to show that hill my moves and almost fell, I was tired yo! So I walked up them as I should but it's OK... I admit it, I'm out of shape.

WALK/RUN

#12 SLACKLINE
If you don't know what slacklining is, you're not alone - I just googled that shit because I didn't know how to explain it to you. We have a group of kids here - I think it's college funded that do "Outdoor Adventure" stuff and slacklining is one of the events they do.  I wish I wasn't so shaky at this point in my run. Mike seemed to do well, I watched him as I came down the hill toward the trees. Basically it's like a high wire act, but close to the ground. I climbed up and was shaking and fearful I might fall but finally I righted myself, and did well. I almost wanted to try again - I wish this was at the finish line so I could play all day... but I had to move on.

WALK / RUN
End of the line, I see a beautiful water stop again. SO happy... and even more fun once I got close I realized my little-brother-in-law was there with his puppy Suzy. I was so happy, I yelled "HEY PADEN!" and then in a higher voice said "SUZY Q!!!!" And commented had I known she was here I would have ran the whole race (not!)... I chugged water and we were instructed if we went right it would be the last events of the 3k, or if we went Left it would be the 5k. We opted for 3. I was done.. toast... but I had Suzy to run with me so it made it fun, most adorable puppy ever (next to our June).

#13 CLIMB THE WALL
Let's just say that my shoes were wide so trying to cling to these 2x4 type chopped bits of wood was difficult for me, my upper body strength is great for lifting weights other than my OWN body weight. Grunting and all I cleared the wall, splinter free I might add.

WALK/RUN

#14 SLIP N' SLIDE TO FREEDOM!
I missed Mike going down the slide, I got to the top and it seemed rather dry, not nearly enough water and I laid down and tried to go... I looked like a beached whale I'm sure... but... I rolled a bit got up and ran to the beer tent. I gave Mike crap for not waiting for me, he said THIS is the finish line Kelly, THE BEER TENT! Touche, he was right.

WE WEREN'T FIRST, BUT WE WEREN'T LAST and WE SURVIVED!
That's all we wanted!!!

SWEET DELICIOUS BEER... YOU ARE MY FAVORITE!
I am almost positive there was another obstacle in this event that I forgot but you get the idea. We are planning to walk/jog as much as we can in the near future, to build up endurance and maybe even have more of a fighting chance next year. I would do this again for sure, but if you asked me that when the above photo was taken, I'd say no way in hell.  When the endorphins kicked in, I was loving it though.

That afternoon... we drank beers, hung out with our team, watched some beer pong, listened to some great old school rap music and then decided to stuff our faces at On The Rocks, our FAVORITE bar in town (Pie Factory is our favorite bar/pizza joint).  Yes, we went into the bar, with mud still on us, but we did hose of a bit and we brought beach towels, we aren't total cave people.  We headed home and took showers and then I crashed in bed, and Mike crashed on the couch. I woke up that afternoon around 4 PM with a massive headache - I took some meds and drank some water and laid back down. By the next morning I think I was mildly dehydrated, my eyes were dry, my throat was sore, I just felt awful. I'm finally feeling better and will remember next year to bring myself more water, some possible gatorade and to drink less beer (I drank that Mich Ultra like it was water when we finished). LUSH.

All in all even with my disappointment in myself I had a great time and can't wait to try again next year! Maybe I should have started with a level 3k, or basic 5k - but I guess I wanted to GO BIG or GO HOME!

PS I'm also glad I didn't do the 5K apparently at the end when you crawl under the chicken wire obstacle there were rocks where your knees were, I would have HATED that.
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June 20, 2014

Repost: Let's Hit The Creek

It's a new season, and a new year and since I was giving a co-worker some tips on what to take on her first canoe trip, ever - I thought why not share this again with my readers... all 6 of you that are still with me after all this time. Just in case you decide you want to hit the creek, or river in canoes or kayaks this season.

Originally Posted July 2013
Summer has finally reared it's brutal head here in the South. I guess I shouldn't say finally, that makes it sound like I wanted it here. Those that know me well know I get really excited for warmer weather, in the past that meant beach trips, and being outdoors. Now that I'm living in North Alabama, summer weather means extremely hot temperatures, and lots of sweat. I'm all for a good sweat session when I workout, but when I'm dressed up, my make-up is fixed and it's 104+ degrees outside, I'm miserable. Give me a kayak, and a cold beverage and let me float, otherwise I will be a beeotch to deal with.

One of my favorite bloggers, Miss Erin over at Living in Yellow shared what she called "The Best and Worst Day of her Life" to me, it looked like an amazing weekend on the lake with 40 of her friends. They do an annual canoe run, which is amazing. They even made commemorative koozies. How cute is that? Read about this years annual canoe trip here - it's even more epic! Commemorative shades, yes please!

Erin's post made me think a lot about how many times I've been out on the creek in my canoe, or kayak with my husband and friends and how even when you're wanting to have a great time, you must always put safety first.

I thought I'd take a moment and feature some safety tips, and items that are must haves for a float down the river or creek. Be it for 2 hours or a full day. So here are my personal must haves for a fun creek run!





1 // SUNBLOCK
I can't stress this enough. If you burn easily, or are a bit like me (OCD about burning and causing damage to my skin for cancer and vanity reasons) you must bring sunblock. I usually put some lotion on 20 minutes before I head out the door. Asking Mike to get it all over my shoulders and back. I recently started bringing spray sunblock with me for re-application. Just because it says SPF 120+ doesn't mean you don't have to reapply. Say it with me people, REAPPLY. If you aren't a freak about SPF, then by all means bring your tanning oil, I like to smell you as you float down the creek and pretend I'm at the beach. [Please note: I didn't reapply enough on my first run this season 2014 and I got crispy and red - lesson learned!!!!]

2 // HAT
This one isn't a NEED, but more of a suggestion. Again if you worry about your face burning, or the sun in your face, or just want to sport a fun accessory, the hat is the way to go. Be it a cowboy hat made of straw, a fun trucker cap, or just your favorite old ball cap. Rock it out. I'd suggest bringing one you aren't head over heels in love with. Better yet don't wear anything you couldn't bare to lose. Mike still has regrets of losing a Pearl Jam tour shirt he can't replace once while canoeing. [And forgo jewelry if it's important to you - not to mention necklaces make strange tan lines folks]. Hats are very handy incase you encounter a storm as well. They make it easier to see through the rain. Trust me on this one.

3 // SUNGLASSES
Who doesn't want to keep the sun out of their eyes. Bonus, when you can't wear full make-up on the creek they hide your tired eyes. If you wear full make-up on the creek, I have to ask, what's wrong with you? Ain't no body got time for dat! [I usually put on some concealer for my dark circles and some mascara, otherwise, it's SPF and sweat baby!]

4 // CHAPSTICK WITH SPF
Are you sensing a trend? The sun is brutal people, and your lips are fragile. Pucker up those puppies and coat them with some protection. If you must wear lip gloss fine, but don't cry to me when your canoe tips and you lose your most favorite shade that cost you $7.00+! Get some cheap lip shit, and if you lose it, no big - get some more at the gas station next time you get ice for your next trip down the creek.

5 // GOOD WATER SHOES
I can't stress this enough. If you are going on a big lake, or gentle waters while kayaking or canoeing then by all means sport some flip flops, or cure sandals that show off your pedicure. If you are however going on a creek that is often times rough, ever changing and there's a good chance you will either have to walk through the creek bed, pick yourself up after falling out of a canoe, or do some moving IN the water with rocks - get some good shoes with a closed toe, preferably with a reenforced toe. Keen's are great. The pair shown above are just like mine and I've had them for 6+ years now. I literally only want new ones because mine have become so old, and dirty (love you creek water). You'll pay a lot up front but they will last. Other sandals will work, most will stay on your feet but some will slip, and it's hard to walk in the water when your feet are slipping. There is also the fear of stubbing your toe on rocks mid flip, no one wants that. Just a safety tip from me to you.

6 // BUG SPRAY
No one wants ticks, or bites from other random bugs while kayaking. So if you are one of those people that bugs seem to LOVE, get yourself some spray for the trip. Take it with you (put it in the dry storage bag - see below).

IMPORTANT ADDITION: LIFE JACKETS My husband, Mike added in the comments the importance of having a life preserver / vest in the canoe / kayak at all times. And he's SO right, and I'm sorry I forgot to mention that. You don't always have to wear it but most state laws will insist you have one in the boat. Better to be safe, than sorry OR finned for not having one. Mike and I usually strap our vests to the back of our kayaks (with the cords on the boat), when we canoed we would strap and clip the vests to our seats and have them within arms reach to show cops on the creek, or incase the water got too rough. Side note, ladies if you get a chance to lay back and relax in the canoe while your partner steers (or gents) the vest makes a really comfy butt cushion for the bottom of the boat.  Also, one more note - if you leave these in your car after a long trip on the creek your vehicle will smell to high heaven the next day. Always remove them, and let them air out!



You've got your cooler, and your hands full of all the crap you want to take with you. So let's load up the cooler with beer, food and ice. If you're kayaking it will be a small cooler, think lunch box or 6 pack size. If you're canoeing, you can bring a HUGE cooler and carry more stuff for yourself and your friends. Don't be rude, carry stuff for your friends, seriously. Besides they might even share some beer and snacks with you. You might also want to bring one of the canoe straps you used to tie your canoe to your vehicle. If you rented a canoe, maybe invest in a strap or two to bring with you. Belting the cooler to the canoe center seat will ensure you keep most of your drinks and snacks, in the cooler, if you should flip. (You can strap the lid shut if you get close to rough water). No one wants to lose precious brews on the water. ALSO: Please bring a "trash bag" - Do NOT Litter in the water. Put your cans, bottles and wrappers in the bag and dispose of it when you get back to dry land (in a trash can).

7 // DRY STORAGE BAG
These are great and come in a ton of different sizes. There are some big enough for you to bring a dry tshirt, some towels etc. I wouldn't suggest bringing a towel WITH you, but instead leave it at the pick-up vehicle so it will be warm and toasty when you get out of the chilly water. Usually we haven't had a need for that, but these bags will double as a great way to take along all the items listed above and keep them dry PLUS if you get smaller versions you can put your cell phone and wallet inside. I URGE you to invest in a hook that will attach your car keys to your belt loop, or your partners. That way that if you flip the canoe you don't lost your keys to the car you are supposed to be riding home in.  [ALSO before leaving on the water, check to be sure your pick-up driver HAS his/her keys before you leave - it's a long ass walk home if they leave their keys IN the drop off vehicle]. If you have a small cooler, feel free to put some snacks in the dry bag that don't need to be kept cold. This is also a great place to store your toilet paper. You never know when you're going to need to pee. (Or you could just hang your booty in the water, just saying.)

8 // WATER and or HYDRATION DRINKS
Depending on how long you are out on the water it's always a good idea to carry a few bottles of water or hydrating drinks. Beer is great but when it's very hot, and you're sweating a lot you're only making your situation worse by dehydrating yourself further with alcohol. It's great to party. I've been there - 3 beer bongs deep and countless numbers of vodka shots on the creek - no problem. Thankfully I always carried some water too, and had a husband to care for me. Come to think about it he was my boyfriend at the time and I'm really lucky to be married to him now.

9 // REFRESHMENT
To drink or not to drink on the creek, that is the question. The answer is only if you can hold your liquor and don't put others in danger. It's hard to navigate a canoe with one person, it can be done but it's sort of a dick move to leave one person piloting the boat while you sleep it off. Drink responsibly. My other suggestion is try to find drinks that come in cans vs. bottles. Bottles can shatter, and also take up a lot of space in a cooler, and in a bag when you are finished drinking them [can't stress this enough]. Cans can be smooched, and won't break. Bonus points if you pick small brewery made Craft Beers.  Ladies, I have the best thing for you. If you love frozen drinks, go a head and get some of the pirate bay or whatever brand the make now (Mike's Hard Lemonade) frozen pouches. Put them in the cooler and get some LONG STRAWS. You can treat them as your adult Capri Sun's going down the creek. Cool and refreshing. Just make sure they don't melt too much.

ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT WATER POLLUTION:
**** PLEASE PLAN TO BRING A TRASH BAG OR USE YOUR COOLER FOR EMPTIES. SO HELP ME IF YOU LITER WHILE CANOEING I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND BEAT YOU WITH YOUR OWN ARMS *****  You've been warned. [Sensing a trend, told you I couldn't stress it enough!]

10 // SNACKS
For short trips, or folks that are always hungry (like me) bringing some snacks on the trip are a must. Try to pick snacks that don't need to be chilled, and that are sturdy. Think Pretzels vs. chips. Chips will get all broken if they get shoved in dry storage and bounced around. Granola bars or Cliff Bars are great snacks to take. Both are dense, keep you full and are really, really good when they have the suns heat baking them, trust me, so good. You could also bring beef jerky or anything else your heart desires that won't perish outside of the cooler.

11 // MEALS
If you're going on a longer trip, think 3-4 or more hours, you may want to think of a meal. Your meal could be as simple as a sandwich with your pretzels or as extravagant as hamburgers. Yes, I said hamburgers. Let's start with the sandwiches. Pick a sturdy bread, you don't have to do this, plain old white bread / wheat bread is fine but keep in mind the longer it sits the longer your condiments are going to soak into the bread. Again be sure to keep your sandwiches cold, especially if you are using mayo. Nothing ruins a float more than a rancid sandwich except maybe a drunken boat buddy.

Now I say hamburgers because once Mike and I went canoeing for an entire day and he made a makeshift grill using the grate from our grill and some charcoal and branches. I pre made the patties with all the ingredients we needed and we kept it chilled in our cooler. They turned out amazing but it was one hell of a thing to do. Mike is a grill master. If you are a bit nervous brats and hot dogs work well too. Easy to tote a long and the hot dogs cook up in NO time. Just remember to keep your charcoal dry during the trip.

12 // KOOZIE
While this isn't a necessity, it makes for a fun addition to your snacks and refreshment. Mike figured out a way to use a kooz as a drink holder on our kayaks and I love it. Besides keeping your drink cold, it helps you to grip your drink if you have to set it between your legs while you paddle. Even better are the koozies that go around your neck, but I always feel silly wearing those. If you're a mixed drink kind of person a drink around the neck jug with a straw is perfect! Just try to remember to search for a plastic bottle for your booze and your mixers!





So you survived the creek/lake/river. Your muscles are screaming, you're head might be aching and for some reason eating 4 Clif Bars suddenly has you feeling a bit queasy. No worries, once you've loaded up your boats, tossed away your trash in the PROPER place you can climb into your vehicle and head home. Hopefully you'll remember when I say this, stash some towels in the pick-up car, or your car if you rented a boat. Your car seats will thank you. I always forget to bring them and I'm sure my leather seats hate me for it. Sometimes you get off the creek and you're burning up, other times you're freezing. Having a nice, car warmed towel after a long trip is heavenly [see I told you]. And they make your car smell fresh if they were just washed and dried.

So what to do now? You can go home and pass out (like a bitch), or you can invite your friends over for some grilled food and drinks. Usually this is exactly what Mike and I do. We are usually planning our dinner as we float down the creek. I don't know about most people but after a long day out in the sun, paddling left and right, I crave one thing - CARBS! Usually in the form of mac n' cheese or mashed potatoes.

13 // ALOE VERA
After you shower you'll realize how much sun your skin has taken on. For the reddest spots you might want to dab on some Aloe. It helps hydrate your parched skin and sometimes even helps from having too much peeling happen later down the line. I swear by this stuff.

14 // BBQ "AFTER FLOAT" ATTIRE
COMFORT IS KEY! You've been on the water all day, taking in the sun, the water and the elements. You've been suck in a swim suit that's been tied around your neck, or your manly jewels and you just want to feel relaxed. I always toss on my favorite comfortable pants, or shorts, a loose flowing tank-top or long sleeved t shirt (depending on how much sun I've had) and a pair of super easy flip flops. Doing your hair and make-up at this point is truly optional. I mean these people have seen you all day sweating and they still love you, forgetaboutit.

Now all you have left to do is bring a side dish to the hosts house, sit back relax, chat some more, laugh a lot, stuff your face with grilled goodness and give those muscles in your body a rest.

CAN'T FLOAT? NO ACCESS TO A KAYAK OR CANOE? NO WORRIES!
You can still enjoy the water, just swap the kayak/canoe for a beach chair. Gather your friends, their kids, your dogs and head to the nearest creek, or water way. Set up a day picnic and bring all the stuff I mentioned above. You don't have to float to enjoy the water, although some floats to put in the water, with cup holders would be excellent. Relax and enjoy the rays and your FREE Stay-cation afternoon.

BEWARE ON LAND OR WATER:
Be mindful of Snakes, Turtles, other wildlife - RESPECT NATURE!!!! They are everywhere. Study up on your poisonous varieties and also double check your knowledge on poisonous plants. And leave the critters alone, I don't care how cute they are - would you like someone interrupting your bath session?

All in all, be safe, have fun and keep your skin protected! I hope this helps anyone wanting to try kayaking or canoeing. I think my next write up should be about camping, what do you think?
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June 12, 2014

A note to my 17 year old self...

Seriously, this was only yesterday • GO LANCERS • SENIORS!
20 years ago this week, I stepped onto my high school's football field in front of friends and family, and received my high school diploma. It was bitter sweet. Lots of kids, my husband included, hated high school. The drama, the angst, the bullies, the heartbreaks. Myself? I embraced it all, good, bad and ugly. I was sad on graduation day. I recall crying through the entire ceremony. One lone tear ever few minutes escaping from my left eye only. Of course it would be the eye facing the crowd in the stands, cheering us on.  I remember the speeches, although not word for word. I remember the music, although not the actual solo that was sang. I also remember hugging the director of athletics really tight before walking up the steps to the stage. Long story short there was a lot of drama surrounding the dance (pom squad) squad. I was head captain, and my co-captains and I were forced to be coaches as well that year since our actual coach was MIA. He helped a lot and I guess my emotions got the best of me.

I can remember walking across the stage, praying I wouldn't trip in my white woven flat sandals. I remember getting the faux diploma, and my empty diploma frame case as I walked off stage and I remember walking back to my seat.  I always thought it was odd, that we got to walk down the isle with our best friend as our mate, and then we had to separate to sit on opposite sides of the field. I hated that, I wanted to sit by my best friend, not someone I barely knew. It was oriented boy girl / boy girl, so that the rows would be black and red alternating down the line. Girls wore red, boys wore black. I was thankful, I didn't want to sit in that hot summer sun, in a black gown. Girls had to wear white dresses, so they wouldn't show through the red - I was a rebel, mine had a black print on the white - I was full of school spirit (red / black / white).  Or maybe it was just because the dress was cute, and not too short - I was still a bit of a tomboy at this point in my life and hated dresses.

You know the moment when you're supposed to toss your hat? I chickened out. I didn't want to lose MY hat. I waved it up in the air. I remember that the girl one person away from me tossed her hat and then it came down and hit her in the head, and I laughed at her (or with her I guess). Mostly because I always thought she had some secret thing with my boyfriend, maybe she did who knows but that moment felt pretty good. There is a photo of this moment, and my big full belly laugh immortalized in the local newspaper. I still have the clipping, and it still makes me giggle.

Sorry for the poor quality • Me and Katie June 1994 • SENIORS!
I remember friends and family flooding the football field to hug and kiss and take photos. My mom and dad didn't take any photos down there on the field with my boyfriend, or my friends or my grandmother who traveled from PA. I always thought that was odd, but we were never a family with photos everywhere in our house.  I said good-bye to my pals, and we went home to have lunch and swim and celebrate and so I could pack for SENIOR WEEK.

I seem to recall us making a brief stop at the "SAFE AND SANE" party for my senior class but we didn't stay. And the next AM one of my best friends Amy and I headed to the beach with our boyfriends for what was really the most boring week at the beach I've ever had...

Looking at all the new graduates of 2014, I can't help but see myself. After all 20 years ago, which seems like yesterday, I was doing the same thing. Flying full speed into adult hood and thinking I'd never look back and miss it. I was wrong. I thought I'd take time to write my 17 year old self a note, 20 years after graduation, so here goes.

*****

Dear Kelly,
Well, you did it. You've graduated high school. You've survived so much, but I'm here to tell you there is still so much ahead of you. Just want to give you a few hints, and tips to make your future much easier.

#1 - You really should dump your boyfriend. He's no good for you. So far you've only found out about 2 girls he slept with behind your back, trust me, there are more, but you won't discover all that there were possibly until your about 22, or 23. I'd tell you to get out now, but I know you won't listen. You love him. He was your first love. And as blind as you still are, I get why. I just wish you would have wised up sooner. All I can ask is that you LEARN LESSONS from this. Never trust a dude like him, ever again. (Don't worry you will, and  you will get hurt again, it's life).

#2 - Keep in better touch with Katie. The two of you will lose each other midway through your second year of community college. She's found a great new guy, and fell off the radar, but keep trying to find her, trust me you'll lose precious time. The only bonus is that if this doesn't work, a great invention called Facebook will exist and you will find her again and it will be like time never moved. You'll still love each other and be BESTIES!

#3 - Trust me, Amy is the keeper - she's a dear friend, a best friend you will never want to let go of. She tells it like it is, and that's what you need. She will be the one person you stay in very close contact with from high school and are still friends with to this day.

#4 - You and Tammy will be BFF's. Yes, you read that right. I know you think that you hate each other now because your BFF's like the same guy but TRUST ME. When you and Katie lose touch, and you're single again (side note: You and the HS boyfriend DON'T GET MARRIED, thank God that engagement didn't stick! Yeah, he cheats on you again, but this time for good and moves in with the girl RIGHT after telling you, classy right? You don't need that negativity in your life.) Where was I, oh yeah, you're single again - depressed, sad, eventually you start to move on, you start to hang with your girlfriends who are single, Tammy is one of them and her BFF as well. You have the summer of your life. Tammy and you find out you're meant to be pals, and it's epic. She ends up being your Maid of Honor in your wedding - can you believe it? Oh yeah, you get married, more on that later!

#5 - Heartbreak - you're going to have a lot of it and you will also be the heart breaker as well. Just go easy on yourself. And the other guys would you?

#6 - Speaking of heartbreak, be prepared at age 19, your parents are going to split up, this is going to directly happen at the same time you and the HS boyfriend/fiance break up. Your mom is going to be very frank with you, and tell you that "Boys are like buses, a new one comes a long every 15 minutes." You take this hard, like she doesn't care about you, but she does. She always loves you, more than herself. She just had a lot on her mind with the split from your father. Try your best NOT to let this hurt your relationship... you'll lose precious time.

#7 - You have a rough time with this break up, and this divorce, but you will realize 1 thing, your father is the coolest dude ever. You were never close because he always worked but once forced to live together without your mom, you realize how much you've missed out on.  Maybe try to foster that relationship sooner, before the fall out ok?  You are bitter with your mom, but please realize, it has nothing to do with you, only them, even though you feel abandoned. Remember you're 19, not 5!

#8 - The summer before your 21st birthday will be one of your favorites. While the divorce sucks ass, your mom has moved to NC. She's taken up a temp home right near where your beach house is. You are working every other weekend, and working 3 jobs, just to stay busy... thankfully every other weekend you have off. You will spend your weekends off between OC Maryland hanging with Tammy (who moved there to work for the summer) and then NC to visit your mom! Talk about a great tan, and tons of miles on your Eclipse.  Please note you also at this time move in with your friend Stephanie and her brother for the summer. Looking back it was fun but you should probably spend more time at home, with your father. I worry he felt abandoned even though he won't say so. Remember he's everything to you.

#9 - Remember when I said time was important. Soon you will discover after a few years of divorce that your mom's doctor has discovered she has lung cancer. All the time in the world you thought you had, is slowly going away. Don't take it for granted. She will go into remission, and it will be joyous, but soon after that, she will decline and you will lose the most important woman in your life, forever. She's still with you in spirit but those nights when you lay awake and wonder how the hell she made her famous spaghetti sauce, no one can tell you. And those days when you freak out because you're 32 and haven't had a kid yet, and that's the magical age, because that's when she had  you... she won't be there to walk you through it, you'll have to remind yourself that in due time you will have kids. She'll also be able to tell you stuff you never thought to ask.. but now she can't. CHERISH WHAT YOU HAVE WHEN YOU HAVE IT and please ask her questions before she goes.  Lastly, remember to look for the Amish Butter print Pyrex bowls when you collect items from her home, I still kick myself for missing those. Lastly, that day when you rushed to leave, when she was getting better in the hospital, please stay at least another hour. Work will wait, she won't. You lost her three days later. I wish you would stay longer and hold her, and talk.

#10 - Boys will come and go, but your girls are forever. I never realized that until I was older. I always was so close with guys, and not girls. I've come to learn that my best friends span my life. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.

#11 - Remember I told you this, when you're clubbing with friends you are always the DD. Thanks for being responsible and safe, but there is one night that you're going to try to stop a drunken friend from driving - do so verbally not physically. Trust me on this, please don't end up as road kill and toted off the hospital in the ambulance with a head injury, ok? Don't worry you and that bitch aren't friends anymore.

#12 - I'm sure you're wondering about marriage again. Be patient, that's my biggest lesson to tell you.

#13 - College is a blast - enjoy it. And for the love of Pete get off your damn cell phone and enjoy time with your friends and roommates. Stop being so up your boyfriend's asses! And really, can you start noticing the signs that possessive guys are the worst! You will only live away from home for your junior semester of college, try to enjoy it with your roomies! Those girls are amazing and you didn't' get nearly enough time with them!!!! (Stop going home for the weekend so much!)

#14 - You graduate college with 2 degrees! AA: Early Childhood Development, and BS: Graphic Design/Creative Arts. I know your entire school career in HS you were sick of always being grounded for bad grades, but then you applied yourself and got great grades, KUDOS! You will keep this up through college, you will realize that it's important and then it will become a competition with friends to get great grades. Who is this nerd? It's you! Embrace it!

#15 - The internet is invented. Holy shit I feel old saying that. But it's a great tool to meet new people. You meet a boyfriend in a chatroom, and eventually move to Florida for 6 months. The hardest 6 months of your life. You've never had to fight that much with a boyfriend (possessive issues). After that 6 months I really wish you would let him go. I know you love his friends but seriously, let him go. You dated for almost 6 years, long distance by the way, insane. You are so stubborn.

#16 - At the end of the 6 months you'll be bored one night, home alone in FL - and in a Maryland chat room, you'll start talking to someone who has the same interests as you, and become fast friends. Once  you move home you both decide it's time to meet in person, because Weezer is doing a show locally and you want to go - so why not go together. You set a date to meet and hang out close to college, I mean who knows if you could end up dead in this guy's basement, right?

#17 - You set the date for lunch to be September 10, 2011. You have a great day, have lunch this guy becomes one of your best college friends and you go to lots of shows together. You're still friends. AND he teaches you how to snowboard. He's friends with your husband, but was never friends with the ex from Florida. That's telling you something. He was a bit smarter than you and saw signs way before you did, just saying.

#18 - You remember the date of when you met clearly because well, September 11, 2011 was the next day. You'll learn soon enough why that date is so tragic and significant to history, and your life.

#19 - Myspace is invented - what a cool concept, you're immediately hooked. Finding friends from all over. On random nights you'll do searches for random people, read profiles, stalk friends, and just enjoy the entire website. One night you find a photo of an attractive guy, his screen name is AC/DC, and he reminds you of Johnny Knoxville. You're immediately curious and read his ENTIRE profile and comments in one sitting. You finally work up the nerve to message him, saying he has great taste in music, and keep it light. After all you're still dating the dude from Florida... and he's moved to Maryland to live with a friend of yours, and it's not going well but still you're in a relationship and care about the guy.  AC/DC messages you back, and you start messaging daily. Friendly, nothing over the top, he has a girlfriend too, so it's ok.

After about 4-6 weeks of talking, chatting, you eventually talk on the phone. You realize quickly you're falling for this guy, and you start to feel awful. Most nights falling asleep he's the last thing you think about, and the first when you wake up in the morning. It's a wake up call about how miserable you really are in your love life.

Myspace and the internet opened you up to a lot of new friends with common interests, and after one night of heading out with some new friends from a car forum you were apart of, you have a blast, you finally meet dear pals in person like Salt of Run Salt Run and others. You have a blast, smile the whole night - and find yourself talking about Myspace guy to them all. You go home feeling on cloud 9. Your boyfriend comes by, he had been at a bachelor party for a mutual friend... the accusations of flirting with dudes at your meet up start, the fight begins, and finally the words come out of his mouth... "Do you want to break up with me?" and for the first time in your life you finally answer honestly to this question (because you've had these fights multi pal times before) and you will say... 'Yeah, I am.'  He storms out, and you realize your shoulders feel 100 lbs. lighter. You followed your gut for once, and it was relief.  Final good-byes will be said about a week later to him, at a friends BBQ - you will cry on the stoop because of guilt and hurting someone, your pal Tammy you never thought you would have as a BFF, holds you and hugs you.  She'll also be the person in a few weeks from this date, that will help you plan a road trip, to Alabama to meet Mr. AC/DC in person.  [Be warned, this ex, will pass away in a terrible motorcycle accident many years later after your break-up, and it will be awful and, extremely sad. This also tells you not to take things for granted, and to make peace before losing people you've known]. This is getting very Debbie Downer, trust me there are rainbows in the future!].

#20 - You finally find your prince - I won't give it all away, it's too fun to experience for the first time but this Mike guy, Mr. AC/DC - he's your future. You'll find him, love him, he'll love you, and you'll move to Alabama after only dating for about 6 months. To be fair you'll be dear friends for over a year before taking the "official girlfriend title" but you will love the ride, no matter how crazy it makes you. You will love fully, you will not worry about a safety net and you will find out sooner vs. later that you will be meant for each other. You will make great friends a long the way that he will introduce you to, and you will eventually walk down the isle together!!!! And all those girls I told you to trust, and ones that have come into your life, will all be there on your special day standing next to you, along with other quality friends you've made over the years.

Promise me something though... about a month or two before the big tornado storms in Alabama that rip through Tuscaloosa hit in 2011 - please don't drink too much and cause a scene in the parking lot at the bar about not being married yet to Mr. Myspace. IT"S REALLY embarrassing... and trust me everything happens in due time and when it's meant to!

#21 - Lastly... maybe check the weather before planning your honeymoon!

In closing - trust your instincts, stop ignoring your gut and realize that all the happy times and the shit you go through growing up, are all apart of life. You are stronger for going through all you have, and I wouldn't change that - just promise me you'll take time to appreciate all you have in front of you when it's right in front of you!!!  And lastly, don't doubt yourself, you rock!!! And thank you for realizing that life isn't just about finding a man to settle down with, or having babies, they are great achievements but you've got so much more to accomplish before that!!!

Congratulations for graduating high school!!! Enjoy the ride, it's all up hill from here, but it's one hell of a journey!!!

P.S. Hydrate more before going out for the night, you'll thank me in the morning!

P.S.S. I'm very happy you stopped perming your hair - maybe get a time machine so you can NEVER do it to your hair, EVER!!!! Also, don't let anyone highlight your hair - it never turns out right.
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