‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, all the creatures were stirring: three nieces under 6, six adults, two dogs, a TV, an Echo, countless phones, this very laptop… To say I’m having sensory overload is an understatement. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
It’s my first time in Florida for Thanksgiving in seven years. The last time I was home for it, my dad was alive. We visited his aunt in the nursing home and her dementia had her believing I was my mother. I was scheduled to go the following Monday to Raleigh, N.C., for a job interview — but I’d just received a job offer from macys.com in New York City, instead. My brother and sister-in-law were newlyweds, without children. My grandpa was still alive and hadn’t yet reconnected with his sister, who would later become my Thanksgiving hostess while living in NYC.
While seven years doesn’t seem like that long ago, it’s clearly been one heck of a time for change in our family. We’ve had ups and downs and highs and lows and all of the normal everyday nonsense that comes with daily life and changing seasons.
So as usual, I’m thankful for this crazy circus I call my family. And I’m especially grateful to be in a position to come home for a few days, meet my newest niece, await the arrival of my SIL’s SIL’s son, and spend a few exhausting but fulfilling days with them in person. As much as I love SF and my life there, some things can’t replace the feeling of being home for a holiday.
Wishing you and yours the happiest of Turkey Days tomorrow, and if you are in need of love, don’t be a stranger! We have more than enough cheer (and food!) to go around.
If you’ve been around here a while, you may recall how September holds a smorgasbord of birthdays in my family. Well, add one more to the list because on Monday (the 2nd), my third niece was born!
She is absolutely perfect and healthy and squishy and snuggly and all the things I’ve ever hoped for these girls. Sister-in-Law is doing well, as are Brother and their older daughters.
It’s been an emotional week as we watched Hurricane Dorian decimate the Bahamas and prayed for relief of its residents (not to mention, a slowdown and fade-out before causing any more damage). Little Niec3’s arrival added more tears — albeit happy ones — and the remaining September babies have lots to celebrate as well.
High fives all around, yeah?
Forgive my ignorance from my last WO as I celebrated the Winter Olympics without any clue about what happened in my home state of Florida.
You see, I was avoiding any and all breaking news alerts because I didn’t want to see spoilers for the games.
What I didn’t learn, until later, was of the massacre inflicted upon the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. I read and watched a bit of it before becoming physically ill and needing to turn away.
I have no desire to debate gun control. I have no agenda here. What I have, instead, is a breathtaking piece from The New Yorker I think every human should read.
No matter your stance on the issue, I hope we all can agree there is no place for this kind of terrorism in our school system. Not now, and #NeverAgain
Mild spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen this week’s “Game of Thrones” or “The Bachelorette,” you may want to stop reading here…
- Applebee’s: Remember when Aidan from SATC was the voice of Applebee’s, and the tagline was “Eatin’ good in the neighborhood”? Ahh, sweet nostalgia. I recently revisited my old HS stomping grounds for after-party karaoke and it didn’t disappoint. 2-4-1 margaritas, shared appetizers and a TWELVE-DOLLAR BILL. Sometimes, it’s good to go back to your roots — and cheaper prices.
- Game of Thrones: I know, I’ve already mentioned GoT in these obsessions before, but this past week’s episode was so damn incredible, I would be a fool to forget it. My superstitious side says it was because it was Episode 07.04, which happens to be my birthday. And my logical side says it was because they’ve been building so many storylines and it was about time for some MAJOR stuff to go down this season. Hot damn 🔥
- “The Bachelorette” Finale… NOT: Booooo, hiss. We waited all season for Rachel Lindsay to pick a perfect mate and I’m quite disappointed with her final rose. The second place suitor wasn’t ready to propose after six weeks of dating, which sounds completely normal outside of Bachelor Nation. Unfortunately, Rachel claimed to have found the real thing elsewhere, and while I wish them well, I don’t understand how she literally cried off her eyelashes over the runner-up and got engaged to someone else the next day. Reality TV at its finest…
- “White Liar” – Miranda Lambert: That karaoke session I mentioned? Well, Daytona’s finest chose this little ditty and my youngest cousin swore up and down it was a Reba McEntire song. I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed as much as I have while hearing his arguments, but I do know I’ll always enjoy hearing this one when it comes up in my playlist.
I’m back in the not-so-Sunshiney state of Florida this week for a longtime friend’s wedding and to spend time with my family. Despite the stormy start, we’ve managed to make do with endless entertainment — ranging from sing-alongs to sea creatures. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few highlights of the trip thus far:
Before we jump into this week’s distractions, I cannot sit idly by without voicing my disgust for Trump’s tweetstorm plan to ban transgender people from serving in the military. I cannot fathom the courage it takes to identify as trans and to voluntarily serve our country — then to be denied the latter for any seemingly legitimate reason. If you’re as outraged as I, please take a moment to call your representative, then sign and share this petition. To my trans friends and followers, please be reassured I admire your strength and am here to support however I can.
Now, as I’d previously planned this post… In the interest of an upcoming trip back east, I figure there’s no better way to honor it than with four Florida finds:
- #WigginOutWedding: Not that I need a reason to travel 3,000 miles per se, but my good friend Cheryl’s wedding next weekend is justification enough. I can’t wait to celebrate with her; her fiancé, Stephen; our families and friends; and to “wig out” for the new Mr. and Mrs. Wiggins! T-minus nine days to party time.
- A Snooty Statue: 69-year-old beloved local treasure, Snooty the manatee, died Saturday at the South Florida Museum. From tragedy comes triumph, though, as a petition is circulating to replace a Confederate memorial statue near the aquarium with one of Snooty. Get your typing fingers ready to sign, folks. It’s what Snooty would want.
- Aunt Amanda Babysits: Any visit home means special time with my nieces, and I’m going to be gifted with a WHOLE DAY during this particular trip. I’m hoping my mom will be on hand, too, and it’ll be a rainy day so we can just stay inside for a movie marathon. That’s realistic with a 1- and almost 4-year-old, right? Woof.
- “Sell Out” – Reel Big Fish: Truth be told, this came on while listening to Spotify’s current #ThrowbackThursday playlist. But, I can’t hear it without thinking of “cruising” with my fellow 9-year-olds and jamming to this new (to us) thing called ska. Oh, and how I’m a sellout for leaving a startup to resume my role as a corporate drone 😉
As much as I love seeing my family and friends back East, I absolutely loathe the time difference and trying to readjust midweek. I got home this morning around 1am, then of course had to shower and unpack a bit before passing out. Good thing the A Team at Starbucks is on today, as I’ve had more caffeine than I normally do in an entire week.
- A Curious Co-worker: What’s a surefire way to ensure you’re awake at your desk? How about returning to the office to find a heart-shaped, glittery necklace with Nic Cage front and center? I have no idea who left it — or why — and am too embarrassed after asking a handful of co-workers to pursue any more. If only Robert Stack were still around for this unsolved mystery. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted with updates. I know you’re waiting on pins and needles.
- A Week in Florida: The past week was filled with countless laughs and special moments. From celebrating one talented cousin’s Disney revue to another’s college graduation AND graduate school acceptance; to silly songs with my nieces; heartfelt Mother’s Day moments; beach and pool time with loved ones; long-awaited reunions; oh and that unmistakable humidity; it’s a visit I won’t soon forget. It never feels like enough time, though I can only do so many sleepovers with a certain kicking niece before I long for my own bed 😉
- A Nice Neighbor: This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but I needed the reminder that there are still genuine people in the world. My new home is coin-operated laundry, so when I moved out of my former place, I left my card in the laundry room with a note: “$7, Venmo Wittyburg if feeling generous.” I figured it was a lost cause but received a payment last night and couldn’t believe my eyes. So thanks to Drew, from God-knows-which-apartment-number, for being a kind neighbor.
- A Friend-filled “First Dates”: I’ve been watching NBC’s “First Dates” all season in anticipation of this Friday’s episode. I know two of the featured daters, and they happen to be in the very same episode (although not dating each other)! While I know the outcome of one date — no spoilers, don’t worry — I can’t wait to see how a real-life college friend and NYC friend make their television dating debut. Look out for Matt and Justine; I’m sure they won’t disappoint! Check out the preview here.
Images courtesy of: Me, Me, Meee, NBC
Yesterday, I neglected to mention one place I go when my soul needs soothing. It’s particularly on my mind as I sit in the Milwaukee airport, awaiting my connection. Florida will likely always be “home” to me, whether it’s because I spent 25 years there or because my entire family is there or because I will fiercely defend it against all of the alligator and Florida Man jokes. (I can make those jokes, but a non-Floridian can’t; you get it.)
So after 9 hours of travel tonight, I’ll spend the next six days with my family back home. We’re celebrating my baby cousin’s graduation — and while I know he’s a genius, he’s not actually an infant; he’s 22 — plus the bonus celebration of Mother’s Day. I’ll catch up with hometown friends and squeeze my nieces and try new beers with Brother and watch my SIL in awe as she parents #likeaboss.
And while I don’t have a formal WO collage for you to peruse, I thought you might enjoy my favorite song about home. It was the first dance at my hometown friends’ wedding five years ago, and it still rings true.
I’ve had a wonderful week this far with my family in Florida, from snuggling my newborn niece to accompanying my toddler niece in baby ballet class and more.
Seeing my family just a few times a year has reinforced the importance of being present with them when we’re together. I even purposely left my laptop in SF, in an attempt to disconnect from work and other obligations as much as possible. It should come as no surprise, then, that this week’s obsessions are short and sweet.
Hold your loved ones tight, if you’re able. Call them, video chat them, send them letters… whatever you can to remind them that family comes first.
And speaking of firsts, here’s baby Lillian’s first Snapchat story. She’s clearly already a baby genius. I’ll be back at it again next week with our regularly scheduled WO programming.
- “Ghostbusters: Answer the Call”: I can’t remember a movie that had me laughing for nearly the entire time, but this reboot has four fantastic leading ladies, a bunch of throwback references and some awesome eye candy. That’s what I call a winning combo.
- A Visit Back East: It’s only been six months since I was last in Florida, but so much has changed in that time and I can’t wait to get there this weekend. If I spend the entire time squishing my niece’s cheeks and watching “Zootopia” with my other niece, then I think I’ll be just fine.
- “The Night Of”: I did not need another show to watch. Really, I didn’t. But a co-worker and another friend each told me how much I needed to see this one, and I caved. I’m glad I did… the premiere left me breathless from start to finish, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this miniseries unfolds.
- “This Is What You Came For” – Calvin Harris f. Rihanna: I honestly could not care less about the drama surrounding Taylor’s songwriting contributions (or not) to this song. And I really, really didn’t want to like it, because, Rihanna. But damn, it’s an earworm. And despite my distaste for most EDM, this one really gets me pumped.