America, Family, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

Quarters and Dimes

I’ve heard it said that some people grow older, but never grow up. I think I might be eligible for that life category. 

I try, I really do. But then, there are moments that I think I’m just hopeless. Turning 25 wasn’t a monumental event for me. The most monumental part about it was that I actually got to decide how to spend it. Most years, I’m at church camp, so I don’t really have to make birthday plans. Last year, my birthday plans consisted of waking a bunch of little girls up at 6:30 am, serving breakfast to the 300 other campers, cutting up cantaloupe and dancing on the front porch of our cabin. See No Laughing Matter for the full story. 

My main question was: how is a 25 year old supposed to celebrate a birthday? Is there an age appropriate list of birthday celebrations? I decided to just do all my favorite things. Which consisted of going to a basement burger restaurant with my friends and ordering a salad, going for coffee and ice cream, then making a detour to go see a big lit up ball change colors. Good plans, right? 

We went hiking on a trail a couple weeks ago around the art museum and accidentally got lost. It was close to sunset when we went and because we got lost, we ended up being out after dark. I’m not really proving my case for adulthood here, but it turned out to be a happy accident because when we got back to the car, we had parked by this big sculpture. Which (unbeknownst to us) lights up and changes colors after dark. And, we noticed that they had bench-like loungers that you could recline on to watch the lights. 

I put it on my list of things to do and last minute, changed my birthday plans to include a trip there. We went and got ice cream and drove out there and surprisingly found that one of the loungers was available. We all settled in for the show, but as I was leaning back, I dropped my phone. Again, a pretty regular occurrence for me. Except for this seating arrangement is slatted. The likelihood of your phone falling at just the right angle to slide through one of the slats is minimal though. Unless you’re me. 

My phone disappeared into the abyss underneath us, but I wasn’t concerned. Because surely this whole bench thing could be moved around. Which is what I said. No reason to panic, but my friends insisted that we check. Nope. It’s bolted to the ground. Uh-oh. 

Still no reason to panic though, this can be solved. I announced to them that I’d go find a stick that we could use to push it to the edge. After trying about three different sticks of varying lengths and sizes, I finally found one that I thought would work. My original plan of working from the ground and trying to pull it towards me didn’t pan out. But, with some ingenuity, we decided to go through the top slats where it had fallen and inch it towards the edge from there. Should I mention that between the 4 of us present at this point, we have 5 college degrees? We’re well educated, capable women, as obviously indicated by our ingenuity. We’re also prone to getting lost and being klutzy. 

I should probably also mention that this is a Friday night and there are multiple couples arranged on the other loungers around us, trying to enjoy their dates. All while we’re noisily tromping around finding sticks and trying to Macgyver my phone out from underneath this bench. Romantic, right?  

Jordan held the light while I verbally guided Amy, who was wielding the stick, while Devon documented the whole ordeal. 

We finally, after a lot of excessive effort, retrieved the phone unharmed. Triumph! I hope this isn’t an indication of what my 25th year will be like. But if it is, it shouldn’t be too different from the 24 years that preceded it. 25, looks like we’re gonna have fun! 

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America, Celebration, Dessert, Family, Food, History

Surprise, Surprise

I’m not good at surprises. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. (pun totally intended) There are a lot of different reasons I could list for me not being good at surprising someone, but I’ll summarize it for you: 1) I’m not a good liar (which is typically an endearing quality, right?) and 2) I live in my own little world most of the time (which is fine except for you have to be pretty self aware to surprise someone) I have noticed though, that while these qualities make me terrible at surprising someone, they make me a great candidate to be surprised.                                                                                         

However, my whole family seemed to overlook this list of factors when they chose me and my brother to be in charge of taking my grandma to her surprise birthday party. Really, the best idea would’ve been for them to not tell me what was going on either and we both could’ve been surprised.

                                                                                                                                   

I really did a pretty good job, I think. I went over, in my mind, a list of safe topics to steer the conversation towards that didn’t involve anyone else who was in town for the party. I was cool and casual. I had a story as for why I was dressed up. And, she arrived at the party almost on time. I count that as a roaring success on my part. 

                                                                                                                                   

Today is my Grandma Connie’s birthday. I won’t tell you her age, however I will show you this picture and let you guess. 

                                                                                                                                   

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And since today is her birthday, I wanted to tell you about her. Because if you don’t know her, you’re missing out. 

                                                                                                                                   

She’s definitely not your typical grandma type. Let’s just say: she’s very independent. She doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do and she always has an opinion she’s not shy to share. She’s headstrong and free willed. Basically: she’s a force to be reckoned with. 

                                                                                                                                   

She’s one of four kids and she had five daughters, who all had two children. As you can tell, we have a large family. Having raised five daughters, I feel like Grandma has some solid life advice. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite pieces of wisdom. 

                                                                                                                                   

1. Diamonds go with everything.

                                                                                                                                   

If you are questioning whether or not to wear your best jewelry, it is always a yes. This was said to me because I had changed from something dressy into something casual and still had on a necklace I had been wearing. I made a comment about how it clashed and she said “Brittney, I raised five girls and I told every one of them. ‘Girls, always remember: diamonds go with everything'” So, whether you’re going to a gala or just going to sleep, wear your best. Grandma’s orders. 

                                                                                                                                   

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Four of the five daughters at the party

                                                                                                                                   

2. Don’t waste your time with desserts that aren’t homemade. 

                                                                                                                                   

It’s not worth your time or calories. I feel like this same principle could be applied to a lot of different things in life. It’s about quality and time invested and effort.

                                                                                                                                   

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Three generations of homemade Rice Krispy makers

                                                                                                                                   

3. “Whether the wedding costs $5 or $5000, it either takes or it doesn’t.”

                                                                                                                                   

This obviously is dated because $5000 won’t buy you a very fancy wedding these days. But, she preaches this one quite a bit. It doesn’t matter what type of wedding you have, if the relationship isn’t solid to begin with, you’ve missed the point. I can attest to this because my parents eloped and they will be celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Looks like Grandma was right about this one too. 

                                                                                                                                   

4. They can chew me up, but they sure can’t swallow me. 

                                                                                                                                   

This actually comes to us from my great Grandpa Teasley. So, she’ll always say: “Brittney, Dad always said… Then she’ll repeat this same quote to me every time. Thus, my memorization of it. Essentially, people can and will say what they want about you. But, ultimately, you’ve gotta stand up for what you believe in and ignore the haters. Grandma obviously didn’t say anything about ignoring the haters, that is my own personal summary of what she said. You’re welcome. 

                                                                                                                                   

There are so many more that I could talk about, and I know that I’ll think of 100 others after I post this. She’s a lady with a lot of sayings. But, sometimes it’s not the sayings that teach you the lesson, but rather the way the person lives. She instilled in us all the value of hard work, never looking down on someone else because of their status in life, but never thinking that anyone or anything was above you or out of your reach. She taught us to always look for a chance to give and help, to share what we have, and to be nice to people even when we don’t think they deserve it.

                                                                                                                                   

Grandma Connie is not perfect, she’ll be the first to tell you that. In fact, she told a joke the other day that made me blush. She’s that type of grandma. But, her life is a testimony to the lessons she’s taught. And quite a few of those lessons are worth taking note of. Surprise, surprise.

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Asia, Beauty, Celebration, Culture, Food, Funny, Travel

I Am Woman

It’s International Women’s Day.

I hope everyone knows that by now. I had no idea that such a holiday existed until I was ambushed at breakfast. Out of nowhere, a Vietnamese man came up to me, handed me a flower, wished me a happy …. day. Directly behind him was a woman who was snapping pictures of us with a big camera. As usual, I had just rolled out of bed, thrown on whatever clothes were closest to me, and was looking less than picture perfect. I was also halfway into my bowl of pho when they surprised me, so it was a funny scene. After laughing at the absurdity of it all, I asked them what the cause for such a show was to which they more slowly informed me that it was International Women’s Day. And, that my picture of receiving the flower would be on their Facebook page. I’d love to know what the caption on that reads.

I thought it was just our hotel making a big deal out of this day, but apparently, it really is a big deal. Even CNN says so. The restaurant we had dinner in had a special free dessert for every female customer.

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Grass jelly with dried longans.

Needless to say, Jake wasn’t sad he missed out on this one. I ate it and the longans were good. I tasted the jelly and it really did taste like grass. Imagine black grass jello and that would be about accurate. So, I skipped most of the jelly part.

At this dinner, we also had an appetizer that Jake thoughtfully described as “a gummy bear fish ball”. I should also probably inform you that we selected this restaurant ourselves, so there is no one to blame.

Since this is a day to celebrate, I decided to go all out and get a manicure and pedicure combo. I’m not used to getting both treatments at the same time, but since it cost about $10 for everything, I thought I should splurge. (I also feel that I should take this moment to explain that I had been wearing a sun hat prior to this and threw my hair up and that it, in fact, does not always look like such a mess. It only looks like this 36% of the time. And it is also in the 90 degree range here, so multiple excuses. Also, it’s Woman’s Day {the actual day, not the magazine that goes by the same name. Don’t get confused during my tangent}, so I probably shouldn’t even be explaining because we’re liberated and I don’t need to explain my choices, right? Is that what Woman’s Day is about? I’m literally just finding out about all of this, but if it excuses a bad hair day, all the better.)

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I didn’t plan it out very well though and got thirsty mid way through. But, both of my hands were occupied and what’s a girl to do? I must keep myself well hydrated. So, I made Jake open my water and give me a drink. Which he took a picture of. Which made me laugh. Which made me choke. But, I couldn’t appropriately cough because I had two people holding onto my hands and feet. Surprisingly with all of this jostling around and me pretending to be Cleopatra, my nails still turned out really well.

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So, here’s to all the women of the world. The young and the old. Every culture, every creed.

Whether you’re the woman selling me mangoes in the park.

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Or if you’re selling intestines at the market. And eating noodles at the same time.

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It takes guts to be you. (Sorry, I never could resist a pun.)

Celebrate today.

Because you are a female. And that is something to be celebrated.

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