One of the highlights of my week

Kyle and I have watched it several times, and every time we laugh out loud. I love that kid!

HT: Alisha Abner


Old Music Tuesday: Mariah Carey

It is nearly impossible for me to think about my childhood without thinking of Mariah Carey. Her music was present in several stages. It all seems funny to me now that she's kind of trashy and cougar-y.

Seven songs made the list. Some are inseparable.

1, 2, & 3. Vision of Love, Someday, and Emotions- For a solid chunk of my childhood, I lived in the house that was built by my great-grandfather. My mom and stepdad bought it when I was about 7 (I think) from some other family. It was so neat to be in the house where my grandmother grew up, where my mother played as a child.

My mom spent a great deal of time remodeling the basement to make it a usable space. I spent so much time down there playing by myself. I can smell the damp, old den. I hung Christmas lights and plugged in my boom box and had dance parties alone. It seems like I would spend hours down there, and Mariah Carey was always a part of the party. I remember the beat-up cases for the two M.C. cassette tapes I had. I'd listen to one side, flip it over, switch tapes, and repeat. I had never heard anyone who could sing that high.

4. Dreamlover- At this point I was obsessed with Disney princess movies and the thought of a "dreamlover" to "come rescue me" sounded night. Now, from what he was rescuing me at the ripe old age of eight, I do not know. However, I distinctly remember dressing up in an old dress of my mothers that I had designated the "princess dress" and singing this song.

5, 6, & 7. Fantasy, Always Be My Baby, and One Sweet Day (ft. Boyz II Men)- I have tons of memories of the entire 1996 Daydream album, but I guess the one I find most amusing is from 5th grade. On a cold and rainy day, we stayed inside from recess. Fortunately for me, I remembered to bring my walkman and my new M.C. tape. Little did I know this would make me the most popular girl in the classroom for the day. I had several people around me, all taking turns listening to their favorite songs while we played Connect Four.


From my Valentine

Six roses for six Valentine's days together. What a lovely tradition, what a wonderful husband!

This year's stuffed animal is... (drum roll, please)... A shih tzu! Kyle knows how much I want a dog, and how I adored our shih tzus growing up. It's amazing how real this thing looks in person. He doesn't have a name yet.


I owe it all to Laura Ingalls Wilder

Lately I've been thinking a lot about style. A frivolous line of thought, I'm sure. Nonetheless, it has captured my mind. I've not been thinking much about clothing style, but about the style of my home, about the way I want it to look and feel when people come in, about the way I feel when I'm there. The problem is, I have never been able to figure out what my style is. I've even taken quizzes that are supposed to help you figure out what your decorating style should be. They were inconclusive. I wasn't even "eclectic." I was just "unknown."

So lately I've been trying to refine my tastes. I've been trying to bring together elements of my life that I love and incorporate it into our home. It has been a challenge.

Over Christmas break, I discovered Anthroplogie at Woodfield Mall. Wow, was it perfect for me! I cannot think of a store I have ever loved more. I came out of there with a fresh perspective and tons of inspiration. When I came home, however, I was still having a hard time putting it all together... until tonight.

Tonight I had a self-revelation. Tonight I figured out what to call my style. I'm a modern girl with a prairie flare. It makes so much sense to me for so many reasons.

I could never decide as a child whether I liked living in town with my mom, or being in the country with my dad more. I have so many wonderful memories in both places. To this day, I cannot make up my mind.

I love the benefits of being in town, being close neighbors and friends, restaurants and places to go out; everything is at our fingertips. On the other hand, my heart swells to think of our family farm, acre upon acre of rich, black soil, green grass beneath my bare feet, gigantic, old oak trees, cows in the pasture, adventures in the woods with my cousins, and nothing but the sounds of nature for miles.

I've come to the conclusion that I want my home to be in town (or even a large city), but I still want that feeling I get when I am on the Johnson farm.

What does this all have to do with Laura Ingalls Wilder, you ask? I'll explain.

When I was very young, I did not like being at my dad's house. There were a number of reasons. Mostly, I think it is because I was bored. I had far more luxuries at my mother's house. All of my best toys were there. I had a pool. I had cable television, and a TV in my bedroom. I had air conditioning. I had sixty Barbies and tons of other dolls. I had dress-up clothes and my mother's perfume. I had a cat. I had my best friend, Erin, next door.

At some point between the ages of 9-11, however, my attitudes began to change. I can only attribute this change to the books I was reading at the time. I distinctly remember books becoming alive to me in 4th grade. I was reading The Secret Garden, Charlotte's Web, Anne of Green Gables, and most importantly, The Little House series.

As I opened the pages of Little House in the Big Woods, I no longer felt bored or unfortunate to be in the country, I felt blessed. I began to see all the adventure and opportunities for imagination that surrounded me. I put on my Little House outfit (a long flowery skirt and a bonnet) and began prancing through the yard. I remember bounding across the lawn with glee and shouting at my dad that I wished we had a covered wagon.

On our 36 acre farm there is a pond, two very old farmhouses (one with a secret stair case), several barns, beautiful gardens full of flowers and vegetables, hills that were, according to my older cousins, haunted by the ghosts of Indians, and so much more. If you cross the property line through the woods, you'll find an 19th century private cemetery that belonged to the family that originally built our farm.

I am so happy that I read those books. They truly helped me to appreciate the history and adventure that was beneath my feet. It was not until tonight that I realized how I am influenced by them to this day.

I can look around now and see that my home is some odd blend of my mother's more sophisticated taste, and the earthiness of the Johnson farm. I can look around and see that my taste is my own and that it doesn't have to fit the definitions of any design book. I owe it all to Laura.

"When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does." -Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), You've Got Mail


Old Music Tuesday: Billy Idol

My earliest music memory is of Billy Idol. My dad had a sweet sound system. He had huge speakers in the house and my parents loved to listen to music and crank it up. We lived in the country, with no neighbors for miles, so why not?

Three Billy Idol songs made my list.

1. Rebel Yell- the first song I can remember.
My parents had this album and I have one memory of this song playing loudly while I danced around the living room. I was about 2 years old. My parents caught this on home video, which is probably why I've been able to retain the memory of it.

2. White Wedding- two memories from different times.
The first memory of this song is a Sunday afternoon when I couldn't have much older than 3. My parents often took me to Sunday school and dropped me off. They picked me up after Sunday school was over. I remember walking into our house after my dad picked me up, my mom in her pink terry cloth bathrobe fixing breakfast, and this song playing on the stereo.
The second memory of this song comes from watching The Wedding Singer repeatedly. I think there was a period in 8th grade where I literally watched this movie every day. My best friend, Morrisa, and I were obsessed.

3. Mony Mony- again, more than one memory, but it's a little fuzzy.
I'm pretty sure Mom worked with a girl named Mony. I seem to remember thinking about her when I would sing along with this song.
Also, I think I've heard this song at almost every dance or wedding I've ever attended. When my Uncle Andy and Aunt Callie got married (I was 12) I seem to remember my aunt and her friends doing their version of the Mony Mony chant, and I'm pretty sure they used a curse word in their version. I could not understand them, however, and I asked my grandma what they were saying. She told me it was a cheer for their high school mascot. I don't think she was right.


Never-ending playlist

Growing up, music was so important to me. I never realized it at the time, but looking back, I can only imagine how different my childhood would have been without such a strong musical presence. Both of my parents were lovers of good music. They had tons of "old" records and "new" cassette tapes. My mother was always singing along in the car. She seemed to know the words to every song, old and new (I think Kyle would say I inherited this trait).

As an only child, I spent a lot of time alone either in the basement playing or in my room. No matter where I was, it seemed my boombox was always nearby. I was blessed that my parents supported the development of my own music tastes, even if they weren't into it. I had many tapes of my own and I would listen to them for hours.

Mom took me to my very first concert at the ripe old age of 7 to see M.C. Hammer at the Illinois State Fair. Did I mention that the concert was the night before the first day of school? Yeah, she was that awesome. It became a tradition that we saw at least one concert a year.

As a pre-teen, I remember that the music became more than just words and tunes; I actually began to feel the emotion of it. Heartbreak and unrequited love were the themes that I seemed to understand most clearly. In retrospect, I knew little of either, but that did not matter.

I had an idea to begin making a playlist of all of my favorite songs from ages 0-16. I quickly became overwhelmed by all the music, all the memories that came flooding into my mind. I decided to set a limit that the playlist could only contain radio hits. This helped narrow it down a bit, but it seems as though it will never really quit growing. I just keep hearing songs that must go on the list.

The odd thing to me is that for every song, there is a place, a person, or a deep emotion tied to it. Some of the songs aren't even that great, but the memories are so strong, I could not ignore them.

I decided that I need to write about it before I get too old and forget everything. So, I am starting a new tradition. I'm calling it "Old Music Tuesdays." Every Tuesday (well, most Tuesdays) I will feature a different artist, name the song or songs that made my list, and share the memories that are attached to each song.

I am very interested to see if others have memories tied to the same songs. I'll get things started in the morning.