Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas 2010

Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Bril)

Don't Be A Jerk (It's Christmas)

Songs for Christmas

Favorite gifts to give:

Favorite gift to play with:
Apples to Apples Party Box - The Game of Hilarious Comparisons

Favorite gifts to receive:
Psst: it's a fountain pen!


Hope you had an equally awesome Christmas. :) Enjoy the last day of the year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not-so-secret Admirer: Confessions of a Serial Friend

I found this little blurb among the notes I took last July at the writer's workshop I attended. I think I wrote it after the sessions had ended, and I was waiting to meet with the publishers agent to talk about my writing. Pretty sure I wrote this for my blog, but never posted it.
Do you ever meet someone or discover a blog and immediately develop a crush? Like all crushes, its mostly self serving. You'd like nothing more than to be associated with this person: to enter the inner circle of their friendship, to be a confidant, to skip all the awkward, slow moving get-togethers of early acquaintance. Their personality immediately appeals to you. Their nuanced sense of humor isn't lost. You want them to know how much you admire them without being creepy. You'd like to appear calm, cool and collected, but internally you're hopping up and down, bouncing into their field of vision, hoping to be noticed. You're already imagining all the things you have in common and all the experiences you're going to share. If only they knew you existed.
Can you relate?

This happens to me ALL the TIME. I think of myself as very discerning, with excellent taste in people. There's no question in my mind when I meet someone I click with and I think "JACKPOT!" Maybe it's actually just insecurity.

When I toured with the African Children's Choir (2004-2006), I was meeting new people all the time. I stayed with host families, four new households per week. There were some families I instantly bonded with, who I felt like I had known my whole life: the homeschooling family in Eagle River Alaska (Mom worked full time, Dad stayed at home with kids during the day; pre-teen boys showed me their extensive War Hammer miniatures collection, their dog even hugged me when we left). A professional potter and her husband outside of Toronto, Ontario, let me and a few of the choir members play with clay and fired a few pieces for us (don't remember what happened to those pieces...I can't imagine they lasted long on our bus. Wish I had them now). These were people who I hated to leave behind; I wanted more conversations around their dining room table, more family anecdotes about people I had just met a few hours ago. There was a comfort level and familiarity I don't quite know how to describe.

That same little light bulb of connection still blinks on above my head, just less frequently in person. In the blogging world (where my international travel now involves me sitting on my couch reading about other people's adventures), I find people with common interests. It's one great thing about the Internet: I can find a new blog every day written by someone I'd like to befriend. But then I wonder if my real-life friendships suffer because I'm preoccupied online, instead of planning coffee dates or writing love notes to my favorite people.

Regardless, finding writers, crafters, mothers, wives, professionals and tellers-of-funny-stories online inspires me. I'm really aware that this could make me sound pathetic and stalkerish. But I just want to say "thank you" to the people who make my life more creative, thougthful, and vibrant.

Monday, December 27, 2010

E&E: Friendship Between Firstborn and Lastborn

I found out recently that my youngest brother discovered my blog and has become a regular reader (Hi, Elliot). This made me simultaneously happy (someone else reads these words? Hooray!) and nervous (hope I didn’t say anything too embarrassing or incriminating about the fam lately). 

Check out the munchkin in the middle.
He and I are ten and a half years apart. I remember very clearly the day he came home from the hospital. When I hugged Mom, I was surprised my hands could touch behind her again. The newest member of the family was no longer a nameless lump, he was a real live kid! As the oldest in our family (raised in close proximity physically and emotionally), I crossed back and forth between sister/friend and parent/caretaker roles pretty often (for better or worse: sorry I was such a bossy babysiter, siblings). I can't distinguish the sisterly pride from the motherly protective feelings I have for my youngest brother.

Christmas, 2009
We have a special bond, being the bookends of the family. In high school when I worked at the local library, I brought home picture books to share. I still love reading aloud, and feel sad my siblings and I don’t do it as often anymore (what with becoming adults and all. Sheesh). When I was studying Children’s Literature in college as part of my education degree, Elliot was the grateful beneficiary of lots of new stories to read aloud (even though we never finished Ruby Holler, an excellent book).

Easter, 2010
All these things were on my mind when I asked him for ideas of family stories to share (for my Family Folklore series...which I haven't forgotten). I thought he might remember a charming anecdote from his perspective as baby of the family.

Christmas 2010
Here’s what he told me (quoted to the best of my recollection):
Write about the time I asked all of you [four older siblings] to play capture the flag and you said no. So I took a bath. While I was in the bath, you all went outside and it ended up being a huge capture the flag game with neighbor kids that covered the whole neighborhood. When I found out you used my idea, Mom wouldn’t let me join you because I was already clean so I just had to go to bed. Write about that.
Sorry kiddo. I assumed being the youngest meant living the sweet life: No enforced bedtime, when us "big kids" were threatened with corporal punishment for leaving our bedroom after lights-out. Watching R rated movies before you were 18, when we weren't allowed to finish Harry and The Hendersons (I think they said "heck" once). The list goes on. But I know it's not easy being the youngest.

I love you.

Keep the story ideas coming. :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas! The Sweater Vest of 2010

I work a half day today, then we're headed to a Christmas eve service, and then the fam converges at our place this evening! This will be the first time in the history of the world that we haven't met at my parents for our gift exchange. I am REALLY excited to host this year. I cleaned like a crazy person last night, baked cookies til 1am, and was thinking about cooking dinner the minute I woke up this morning.

Yesterday at work we wore ugly Christmas sweaters (though we called it "Holiday Sweater Day" in case any clients came in wearing the same outfits. HA!).

Most Awesome Sweater Vest

Hope you all have a great weekend. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I accidentally dressed like Captain Nemo today.

Now I can't look in the mirror without thinking about Kirk Douglas and giant squid. Lovely.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A WINNER has been chosen (at random) Arthur the Owl and Gift Exchange Ideas

Arthur the Owl's new home is with........


(Hey, I just noticed your screen name sounds like mandolin...I love it!).

Send me your mailing address (emilyaj2 (at) and he'll be on his way.

I brought several owls to work and have sold over a dozen. The house has been covered in felt and thread all weekend (much to the kitties' delight).

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. Go back and check out the comments...some very hilarious ideas.

I ended up going practical for the gift exchange and gave my favorite cleaning products:

The scent is "Iowa Pine" and MAN does it smell good!! I bought myself the little plug-in-diffuser thingy a couple weeks ago and I love it.

The thing I really wanted to give was this:
Don't you LOVE it?????

The best gift given at our work party was this: I'm pretty impressed it has it's own webpage.