July 5, 2014

Independence Day

I remember when I was younger, every holiday was such a big deal, because it meant good food and the family would all be together. That was all that ever mattered to me. I loved having everyone near. But, as the story usually goes, everyone gets older and nothing ever stays the same, no matter how hard we try to hold onto it. They start getting married, start their own lives, move away. And, of course, the inevitable of the older ones passing away. All you have are the memories of childhood : teasing each other, being mad that the other one got something better than you did, your grandparents' stories about your parents growing up, playing with sparklers, opening presents, and basically just sitting with eyes full of wonder and amazement, whatever the occasion was. 

This Independence Day was a bit different than most, although we've had a nice mix over the years. We used to have the family over to our house every year to BBQ, hang out and shoot fireworks off at our house (usually the biggest bundle or the one next to it). One year, we went out to the local baseball game to watch fireworks. Another year, we spent the holiday with Carrie Underwood as she rocked the Stadium of Fire, complete with a fireworks show in Utah. The year before last, we went to a Dodger game, while Billy Ray Cyrus sang "The National Anthem," and there were fireworks at the end (and Charlie Sheen was there). Last year, one of our local colleges hosted a fireworks show, so we went out to eat with our family friends, and I called my best friend at the last minute to hang out with us. It was a blast.
This time around, it was just my parents and I, but still just as fun. 

I slept in until 9:30 or so, got ready, ate breakfast, then off we went. My mom wanted to stop at Stein Mart in Valencia, which was cool. We weren't there for very long, and I got a cool journal out of it. Where's bad?

We ended up just going to LA for the day, not really entirely sure of what the rest of the day would hold or what our plans were. It made it kind of fun, because as a planner, I like to have everything planned out (obviously). But, life isn't always that simple, or shouldn't be. Being spontaneous, and not really knowing where the day is going is kind of fun too. Especially when you don't really need to have everything figured out. So, we ended up going to a museum mom and I had tried to go to last time, but...Long story short, we didn't. It was the Annenberg Space for Photography, which had an incredible exhibit featuring country music. We parked and walked across to the museum, and tried to use the elevator and ended up taking a little detour to a random room that was all white and had a really long hallway. Eventually we ended up where we needed to go. WOO! 

The coolest part about the museum is that it was FREE! WHAT?? There was actually a lot more to see than I had originally thought. There were so many old photographs of the greats like, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and even our own local guy, Buck Owens. There were also more recent pictures of Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and a few others. There was even a 45 minute documentary about photography and getting that perfect shot. The journalist in me was fascinated by the storytelling aspect of it all. Photographers talked about their subjects ranging from Lyle Lovett to Taylor Swift, and described how they wanted the picture to perfectly capture the artist and their personality. I'd say they did a pretty fantastic job. It had me thinking about how I want to be able to tell a musician's story through my own words, but to make sure that it sounds like them and something that will share who they are with the world in the most accurate way I know how. Pictures are all about getting that perfect moment...And telling the story of how that happened. I walked out of there feeling incredibly inspired. 

When we finished at the museum, we were all starting to get hungry. We drove around awhile, trying to find a new place to try that we'd never been to. We ended up in Marina Del Ray for a bit, but didn't see much around to eat, so we kept going. I'm not even totally sure where we were exactly, but we saw a shopping center from the freeway that had a Tony Roma's, so we decided to go there. I had the shrimp scampi pasta, which was pretty tasty. I just haven't been eating that much, so it felt like it didn't go anywhere. Plus, there was bread and salad on top of that. While we waited, mom even started giving us the U.S citizen test...We were doing great...But, then we found out there were about 50 questions or so, and decided that we probably knew most of them anyway! HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA. We were SO full after we left. 

When we finished eating, we headed into Long Beach, which is gorgeous by the way; drove by the Queen Mary and some of the cargo ships that were around, then tried to find a spot to watch the fireworks, because we were afraid it would start getting busier. We found a cheap parking lot not too far away from where we were going, then tried to figure out where we were going. LOL. We walked around for a bit, and I just love the area. There were people walking around, shops, restaurants, and the summer sun was shining. We found a restroom in the convention center/aquarium, then we were pretty much asked to leave by security, so that was exciting (JK).

We found a cute little park near the marina/docking area for the boats, and figured it would be close enough to see the fireworks from the Queen Mary. There were adorable little bridges that looked like something out of Enchanted by a lake that would be in a Nicholas Sparks novel. Needless to say, I was getting a lot of ideas and daydreams out of that. What can I say? I'm a hopeless romantic, and to me, setting is everything. 

This is what I call "The Land of Wishful Thinking." It's in between reality and daydreams.
Also, the Taylor Swift "artsy shot"
"I can't decide if it's a choice/
Getting swept away/
I hear the sound of my own voice/
Asking you to stay/
And all we are is skin and bone/
Trained to get along/
Forever going with the flow/
But, you're friction." ~T.Swift
We found the perfect rock, which is much like I imagined Rory Gilmore's "study tree" to feel like. And we pretty much stayed there for three hours. It was very picturesque, so I was brainstorming ideas for a story I'm writing, and jotting down notes like the nerd that I am, and just chatting with my parents. There was also a couple not too far away from us that were very, uh, "entertained" with one another...We'll just put it that way. I took in the scenery, as well as way too many selfies...and snap chatting my best friend, because why not??

There were a lot of couples around us, and I just started thinking...Is Independence Day like the new Valentine's Day? It looked like there were a lot of people on dates, being all lovey dovey. Guess it's just that summer romance going on. Where's a Shane West or Ryan Gosling when you need him? ;) Haha totally kidding...Kind of. 

When the sun went down and the lights turned on, it was like something out of a movie. Spotlight on the water as children played and couples held each other close. And then there's me, just watching from afar, like the narrator. Because I'm in the time of transition - not a kid anymore, but not quite at that place where I want to settle down. It's kind of nice, actually. Last summer, I probably would have started feeling sorry for myself, that everybody had somebody but me (cue the Hunter Hayes song). This time, I'm actually kind of glad for it. I'm loving the single life. It's way less stress from the sounds of it. 

At nine o'clock, the fireworks finally started. They were a bit lower than we were anticipating, and through the trees, it was a little harder to see, but it was still a lot of fun..Even if they didn't last very long. I loved watching all of the kids running around and playing with their families; it reminded me of youth and innocence. It was also something different, and we don't go to Long Beach very often, so it was a nice change in scenery. 

As soon as the fireworks ended, we made a beeline for the parking lot, because we thought we might hit more traffic. And we did hit a little, but it wasn't too bad. The drive home was amazing, because we could see fireworks from every direction and was perfect as we listened to some of the catchiest summer country tunes. 

Yesterday was just really good for me. I needed to get away. After being so paranoid and losing some sleep the last few days, it was good to get away from it all for a bit. I felt a little more at peace when I came home. And even though I still didn't get to sleep until close to 3, I felt much better about everything. 

That's all for now,
Shelby :)

June 29, 2014

I'll make it like your birthday every day.

Birthdays are kind of a magical thing. There are presents, usually something sparkly in the room, cards are involved, and it usually gives you a reason to have a party. It’s also the time that you find out who really cares about you. I mean, it’s one day…You probably don’t ask for much the rest of the year, and it’s one time that you just kind of want a little bit of that attention. 

Yesterday was my mom's 50th birthday, and she had her first big party. In all the years that I've been around, we've never done a party for her. Usually we go out of town, go to a concert or it's just a small get together at our house or out to dinner. This time, our family friends wanted to throw a party for her, since she had never done one. I love the process of planning a party. As a daydream, sometimes I think it would be fun to be a party planner or event coordinator of sorts (at least it seems to be in all of those Lifetime or Hallmark movies). I like the little details of putting all of your favorite things together; the flowers, the food, the centerpieces. It's all just really exciting. I had a lot of fun really getting in touch with my artsy side. Over the past couple of months, we've been tossing around ideas, looking on Pinterest for inspiration, going to Hobby Lobby to pick up a few things, and finding some stuff from my mom's childhood in our garage. 

My mom went for the "vintage" feel. So, we had some old pieces that belonged to my grandmas, some new stuff that we bought, and other odds and ends that our family friends loaned to us. 

Waiting to get the day started :)
Friday, we finally started pulling everything together. We picked up the tables, chairs and tablecloths, the flowers, and gathered all of our things to bring to our family friends' house. We didn't realize we had SO much stuff, until we started piling it into our small truck with a giant box full of plates, napkins, my mom's old toys, mason jars, etc. We set up the tables, draped the tablecloths over them and worked on the centerpieces. We set up the candy table and filled the jars with m&m's, Good and Plenty, and several other kinds of my mom's favorites. That was my favorite part. It just looked so pretty! The flowers took the longest to put together, since there's a system to arranging them in the vases, and we aren't exactly florists. Mandy and I ran to the store to get a couple more bunches of baby's breath, since we thought it might break up some of the color, which gave us a chance to talk, too. My mom worked on them the most and I think they came out beautiful in the end. Very summery, bright and cheerful. They also looked amazing in the mason jars...Very southern, if you ask me. We ended up not having enough flowers for the head table, so we all ran to Vons to pick more up, but once we got there, we didn't see anything that was going to work like we hoped it would, but they had an arrangement of Hydrangea's that worked perfectly and was in a turquoise basket, so we got those instead. The florist at the counter was extremely helpful, telling us about some of the flowers and how long she had worked there. I've become very fascinated with all of the flowers and the process of arranging. Like anything else, it's like a puzzle and figuring out what the best combinations are. It's a lot like love, and now I see why so many people get flowers when they're in a relationship. The party setting came together so nicely; charming and pretty. After we were finished getting everything together, we met my dad at Chili's for dinner. Great conversation and good food = perfect Friday night. I also don't get out much, so it was nice to actually have something to do. It was so fun hanging out with Paul, Tammy and Mandy all night too; felt like old times of hanging out with their family. 

Saturday, I was able to sleep in until 11. I couldn't believe I slept that late, but it was SO nice. I've been so paranoid at night, so I'll stay up way later, until I just lose to my eyelids getting heavier. I took my time getting ready and watched The Notebook, since it was on TV and looked on Tumblr, because that's just how exciting I am. Then, we got ready and my mom and I picked up sandwiches for lunch, then brought it home. We ate with my dad, then my dad and I had to run a few errands, and came home so my mom could open her present from me. As soon as that was done, we hurried to get ready - I slipped into a dress, touched up my makeup and hair, then we were good to go. We still had a few errands to run; picked up the cakes, along with the tea from Chic-Fil-A, then off to our friends' house we went. 

Party outfit. 
We finished setting a few things up, but luckily there wasn't much to do. The guys went to pick up the food (and apparently they didn't have our order, but everything worked out in the end), and pretty soon everyone started arriving. It was SO fun to have most of our family and so many good friends there. We laughed, talked, ate dinner, played Bingo (I was the first winner--WOO!), I showed a video I had made for my mom and we ate cake. My mom also opened her presents. I was glad I was able to talk to a couple of our other good friends (and pastor's wife), Lydia, and Lori, about some of the struggles I've been dealing with at school. It's just so tough to work through the different world views and how to approach it. It's good to know that I wasn't alone in that feeling either. We also talked about country music, and how a lot of it is crap these days. I LOVE these big get togethers; having great discussions and just being able to catch up on life. Makes it feel like a real Full House moment, you know?

Around 10 or so, we started packing up the car and tearing down the tables and chairs and saying goodbye to everyone. Our car was PACKED. I had to carry the cake on my lap, while holding the balloon, that was in my face, back. It was such a wonderful evening with our loved ones, and it's good to know that even after all of these years, no matter what life has brought us or how often we're actually able to hang out, that it hasn't changed our relationships with them. It's also great to know, even when you find out that you aren't invited to other get togethers...Though, I should be used to that by now. Oh, well...

So glad that my mom had a wonderful birthday and was celebrated the way she deserves to be every day. 

That's all for now,