Saturday, November 8, 2014


Last weekend, Greg and I were invited to the New Hope Elementary School Fall Carnival.  The idea of going to the carnival got me so excited, Greg teased me for days.  New Hope is a bitty little town southeast of Huntsville. I'm pretty sure the entire town turned out for the carnival, which was a fundraiser for the school.

You see, back in my younger days, my school (Olentangy Elementary) also had a fall carnival.  It was my absolute favorite thing for years.  I would save my money for months to be able to buy tickets and play games and win prizes. The haunted house that was the scariest thing ever, that game where you pull a lollipop out of a fake tree and see if the end is red, fishing pond, duck pond, cake walk, football toss, all the wonderful carnival games!  I just loved it.  I remember playing bingo in the school library and winning my first ever Walkman (or whatever the off-brand personal cassette player was called) and blasting my New Kids on the Block tape for months.  It WAS the right stuff, baby.

So, given the opportunity to recreate these memories 25 years later?  Yes please!  I was totally not disappointed. The New Hope carnival was everything I hoped it would be.  Kids running around from game to game, face paint, cotton candy, cake walks, all of the same attractions from when I was little!  Plus a few new ones that were pretty awesome, too.  We started the evening with a barbeque dinner - pulled pork sammies with baked beans and coleslaw, with homemade (and some store bought, let's be honest) desserts.  Then we accompanied our hosts (Mike and Tanya with their two kids) to get some tickets - what's the point of going to the carnival if you don't get tickets?

Walking down the halls filled with miniature lockers and smiling children, the husbands peeled off to go check the football scores - no reception inside the building, haha.  We took the kids to the first stop: the Toy Walk.  The concept is similar to the cake walk, walk around in a circle, when the music stops they call out numbers, whoever is standing on those numbers wins!  However, in place of confectionery delights, the prizes were gobs and gobs of toys that had been donated by local families.  This game was very popular.  Next stop, the Dime Toss.  Now, I have never heard of anything like this...and I freaking loved it.  So clever!  Here's the deal: People donate old plates, bowls, cups, glasses, vases, dishes, etc. and they are placed all over a large table.  There is a rope about 3 feet out that goes around the perimeter of the table, and people stand around and toss dimes at the different items.  If your dime lands in something, you get to keep it!  There is a frenzy of dime tossing and replacing the empty spaces with more glassware.  I won an awesome turquoise glass vase - I only had to throw 4 dimes at it! I only had to elbow two boys out of the way for it.  It was awesome.

My other favorite thing they did was a little photo backdrop - pumpkins, leaves, hay bales, etc. For only two tickets (about $1) we will be receiving 2 4 x 6 photos of ourselves surrounded by the splendor of fall.  Bonus: Greg was totally wearing an Ohio State jersey!

The rest of the evening was a bit of a blur, I went into a bit of a sugar coma from all the fresh cotton candy and excitement.  But I do remember feeling so nostalgic and happy, The only downside was that we didn't win anything at the cakewalk.  Oh well, maybe next year :)

So tell me, Olentangy Elementary alums: do you remember the carnival?  What was your favorite memory?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I'm finnin to learn something new...

 I started a series on Facebook - the Southern Phrase of the Day, where I shared new phrases that I've come into contact with while living down here in Alabama.  I realize that the phrases I share are not phrases used by every southerner, but they are phrases that I never heard while living in the Midwest.

Here are the first few:

Now, to continue the series, I present to you the following!

(v) Ear Hustlin'.  Another way of saying "eavesdrop".  
Example:  they were whispering in the kitchen, so I hid around the corner ear hustlin'. 

(n) Skunk Eye. Same as "stink eye". Giving someone a squinted up eye to show displeasure.
example: Jerry said something weird, so now Kate is giving him the skunk eye. 

So other than the ones that northerners usually bring up when this topic is rasied (buggy = shopping cart, boot = trunk, etc.)  what words or phrases do you associate with the south?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Write Your Face Off - September Challenge

I decided to participate in a writing challenge.  Chief CurvyGirl, Brittany Gibbons's Write Your Face Off challenge gives us 30 prompts for September.  I suppose if you were super into it, you would do one each day....but I am not going to even pretend to have that level of writing commitment.  So I took a few of the prompts and will write about them as I get inspired to do so. (it's the spirit of the challenge that counts, y'all)

Sept 5th: If you could bring back one person from the dead, who would it be?

This is a hard question. It's also the prompt that moved me the most.  

I feel  like I should choose some major influencer from history, like maybe Adolf Hitler - simply for the opportunity to have him stand in place while all of humanity lines up to punch him in the face.  Or maybe one of the great adventurers or scientists of the past - are there more discoveries or inventions trapped in those brilliant minds?  

Since this is hypothetical, and the deathly hallows are most likely not real and I won't be getting my hands on the resurrection stone anytime soon,  I'm going to be more selfish.  I would choose to bring back Nancy Barnes - my mom's mom.  I would pick her for a lot of reasons:

1. she died relatively young, as far as grandmas go, and I didn't have a lot of time to get to know her. She was 63 (I think) when she passed. 
2. I know my mom misses her a LOT. a lot a lot. 
3. I never learned to bake with her (that I remember, anyway). That's one of those rights of passage, isn't it?
4. there are so many things I want to share with her - life events, stories, minor details from growing up. 
5. I feel robbed that I didn't have any grandmas while growing up - all of my friends got to go visit their grandmas and eat their cookies, and go places, and enjoy the sage wisdom that all grandmas seem to inherently possess.  I missed all of that.  

Grandma Nancy died when I was 5 or 6.  I don't even remember.  I do remember being in the house and the ambulance coming.  I do remember her living at our house for a few weeks before that, being so so sick.  I remember bits and pieces of her funeral - mostly just playing hide and seek with my cousins in the basement of the funeral home because we were too young to really understand what was happening, and there were caskets down there...omg.  

I remember riding in the car to visit grandma, and it taking foooorrrreeevvvvvverrrrrrrr to get there, when in reality, it was probably only 30 minutes.  I remember the smell of her backyard - there was a huge honeysuckle bush.  I remember the smell of her basement - kinda musty and damp, we would get excited to find dead cockroaches lying upside down on the floor.  I remember playing with the laundry chute thinking it was so cool.  I remember the year she got sick, Mom and Aunt Bobbie took us kids to Wyandot Lake a lot, which we thought was awesome.  We didn't realize that they were just two 30-something women with small kids losing their mother, doing the best they could.  I am now a 30-something woman...and the thought of....I can't even type it.  My eyes are swimming just thinking the words.   My cousins got really close to knowing that feeling this year...They got really close to knowing how our mother's felt back then, because...

My aunt is battling breast cancer.  It is terrifying.  I know she was drawing parallels to Grandma Nancy, how could she not?  Grandma died of Cancer - I don't even know what kind.  Mom told me it was a secondary kind, the doctors weren't sure where it originated.  AB's diagnosis came on her birthday - when she turned 63. Same age Grandma was.  I remember getting the call, I was at work in the HR file room.  Thank god there was no one in there with me, I couldn't stem the flow of tears. My mom was explaining to me the diagnosis and the different doctors they would be seeing that afternoon, and who all was there with them.  I kept thinking "I should be there.  I should be with them right now" but mom told me to stay at work, that too many people might overwhelm AB.  I still feel terrible about that.  I feel like I let my family down for not going over there.  

The whole process of chemo and surgery and radiation has been scary.   Having two nurses in the family is definitely helpful for having things explained - but I'm still confused.  I don't understand why our family had to go through this.  I don't understand the medical terminology, I don't understand the prognosis.  My basic questions are usually "do the doctors sound positive?" and hen I take my cues from there.  So far, they do seem positive.  we are through chemo, and surgery, and allllmost done with radiation. Being so far away from everyone while this is happening is absolutely killing me.  I get updates on the phone, and some random cards or emails, but it just isn't enough.  It's more than just missing my family (and oh Lord, do i miss them), it's that I feel cut off.  I feel like my not being there for this time of trials somehow makes me less a part of the family.  I don't know all the intimate details of what is happening, I don't know all the little inside jokes from the family get-togethers anymore, and it breaks my heart.  Believe me, I know that this is all in my head, of COURSE I'm still part of the family.  of COURSE they all love me and miss me and wish I was there.  I know that, but I can't help the way I feel sometimes. 

I sent AB a little note last week, I found a whisker of Oscar's lying on the blanket beside me.  She and Julie collect cat whiskers, so I thought sending her a dog whisker was a fun way to join in.  Greg thinks I'm weird for mailing a dog whisker to Ohio.  That's ok, though.  I know I'm weird. it made me feel like part of something, which is a good feeling. 
Non-sequiter Alert: Sept 8th Prompt is Today is international literacy day.  Share 5 books that changed your life.

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcer'sStone/ChamberofSecrets/PrisonerofAzkaban/GobletofFire/OrderofthePhoenix/Half-BloodPrince/DeathlyHallows - J.K. Rowling amazon link

Harry Potter and friends led me to some of MY best friends.  There were many lessons in these books, for both children and adults.  The most important of which: use your imagination all the time. 

2. Summer Sisters - Judy Blume

I am a chronic "re-reader" and I have lost count the number of times I've read this book.  I love it so much - a coming of age story of a shy-ish girl and her gregarious best friend.  Loved it. 

3. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - Rebecca Wells

This one...oh man.  This one showed me the importance of female friendship that passes the test of time.  My mom and her friends call themselves the Ya-Yas, and they are great role models!

4. Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls

A boy and his dogs - this one taught me the importance of perseverance and patience, and the beautiful love between a person and their animals.  Another book that was chronically re-read by me...and every time it made me cry. 

5. Hachet - Gary Paulsen

This was my favorite Paulsen novel - I love all of his books.  I think this is where my love of survival came from.  Learning how to survive in the wilderness with minimal resources...It all came from this book.

What books changed you? Who is the one person you would bring back? Let's interact, y'all!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Southern Scheduling

Hello from Alabama!

It's August now - I just celebrated my birthday!  Mega shout out to my brother, he sent me some Subway gift cards to make up for the fact that I can no longer earn free subs with my card.  Bless his heart!  Can you believe it?! I couldn't.  but they are super real.  THANKS, BROTHER!!

So in Alabama, the beginning of August means back-to-school for all the kids and preteens and teens.  They all start THIS WEEK.  Seems a biiiiiit early to me.  Does anyone else have school starting this week? Back in my day (god, I sound old), in Ohio, School started at the END of August. Somewhere in the 20's. The first week back meant the beginning Football Friday Night, the beginning of a new year of learning, friends, Marching Band - though that technically started with band camp, back in early august - and all the joys of going back to school.  I checked the local high school website (Bob Jones High School - I'll let you work those initials out on your own...hahaha) and they don't start the football season until August 22nd - 3 weeks after school starts! This is such a foreign concept to me.

I learned that this early start to the school year is mostly because the schools down here have what's called "fall break".  uhh...what?  For the aforementioned high school, Fall Break is scheduled for the first FULL week of October.  They get a FULL WEEK off of school.  I'll repeat: uhh....what?!  We never had that growing up in Ohio!  We got labor day off, and "fair day" off. (This was the first Monday of the Delaware County Fair - the whole district was off that day because so many kids were involved in junior fair board, 4H, showing animals, tractor pulls, all that good stuff.  In the past, if they didn't have a day off, there wouldn't be enough kids at school to have normal classes).  Times have probably changed, but fair day is still in practice - although now they call it a "professional development day".  But you can't fool me, Olentangy.  That's Fair Day.  Anyway, we got off those two days, and maybe a day here and there for conferences, and that was IT until Thanksgiving.

Kids these days.

Another strange thing to get used to:  Central time.  I am no longer in the Eastern (superior) time zone.  When I was younger* I wondered what time 8:00/7:00C was.  I had no concept of time zones and how they worked. My Uncle Jim was in a different time zone sometimes - daylight savings related, and I sort of understood that.  Granted, this doesn't apply to the whole south, Florida, Georgia, half of Tennessee, and the Carolinas are exempt.   Central time is equal parts difficult and awesome.

Difficult: 1. Prime-time television starts at 7:00pm.  SEVEN.  We usually haven't even eaten dinner yet at that point!  Right now, it's not so bad.  Summer programming is mostly terrible (Except for "Running Wild with Bear Grylls".  Check it out!  NBC at 8/7C!)  But once all the good stuff starts back up, it's going to be a struggle!

Difficult 2. Calling/Texting people back home.  That hour difference sometimes seems huge.  in the morning, it affects me - someone calls or texts and I'm still snoring.  In the evening, I'll be like, 'Oh! It's only 9:45, I can still call mom!'s 10:45 there...maybe I should text to see if she's still up...*sadface*'

Difficult 3. I haven't experienced this yet, so it could potentially be down in the Awesome section, depending on how it goes:  Noon games on Saturdays will now begin at 11:00am for me!  Whaaaa? Since I don't do much drinking anymore, I'm thinking this will be awesome, because football will start SOONER!  But, time will tell. Get it? Time?! Haha. Countdown to Kick-off!

College football season is coming! Wooooo!

Awesome: Late night television starts at 10:30pm!  I can watch part of the tonight show without passing out or being super tired in the morning!

Awesome 2. I uh...I can't think of another awesome thing about central time.  Sorry, I really tried.

So, it turns out, via super scientific method, that central time is NOT equal parts difficult and awesome.  At least not until football season, where the pendulum could swing back into more equal territory.

These are a few examples of how Southern scheduling and timing are different that what I'm used to.  I'll get used to it eventually, and if we do start our family here and send our kids to these fine southern schools, I'm sure I'll LOVE having a vacation in October :)

*Why does this post sound like a crotchety old lady? "When I was your age..." and "in my day..." I guess I'm entitled to say these things because I'm so old now.  haha.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Some southern observations...looking at you, Subway.

So, in Ohio, Subway has these reward cards.  Every time you buy something, points accumulate.  I've had my subway card for years.  YEARS.  I had racked up, and used, a ton of points over those years.  There have been quite a few free subs in my past!  Last time I checked, I had lot of points sitting there waiting for redemption. Look at this beauty:

My actual subway card, in all its glory!

So, imagine my surprise when I stopped into Subway for lunch a  few weeks ago, handed over my subway card, and heard "there's no money on this".  It went like this:

Subway girl (SG): There's no money on here, ma'am.
Me: Oh, I know.  I wanted to use it for points?
SG: *blank stare*
Me: umm, y'all do points down here, right?
SG: (hollering to another employee) hey, do we do "points" here?
Me: *hopeful gaze*
Other SG: points? no?
SG: (back to me) no.
Me: Is it because my card has the Ohio State logo on it?
SG: *blank stare*
Me: Ok, nevermind then...

Is this real?  Am I destined to pay for all of my subs from here on out?  I did not sign up for that. I'll get over it...eventually.  There are plenty of other sandwich shops down here.   I'll find a new love.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Where am I?

Alert: There are armadillos in Alabama.  ARMADILLOS.  Am I the only one who thought that armadillos were a thing strictly in the wild west? Rolling along the desert roadways, racing tumbleweeds? To be fair, I have yet to see a live armadillo...just sail* 'dillos.  
(*sail - mid-west colloquialism for roadkill.  It's flat, so if you fling it like a Frisbee, it will sail. Get it?)

Armadillo. Habitat: Alabama (apparently)

Hi, I'm Jill.  I recently moved to Northern Alabama from Columbus Ohio.  I was born and raised in the mid-west, scarlet and grey blood flows through my veins. The south is somewhat of an enigma to me.  My goal is to figure it out and assimilate into the culture here.  Hopefully make some friends and become gainfully employed.  

That's me on the left.  "O" #1.
I miss Ohio with all of my heart.  I miss my friends, my family, even my mom's cats.  Those weird little cats.  I've been informed that the little cat no longer barfs as much, now that my dog doesn't live with him.  So that's a positive to moving out. Another positive, I get to live with my husband!  He's the reason I moved down here to Alabama.  We were married on May 24, 2014.  It was a gorgeous day, and we were so blissfully happy to be surrounded by all (most) of our family and friends! That's another post for another day, though. 

This blog will help me wade through the differences the south has to offer, insights I learn, and life as an Ohio girl, gone south. I invite you to join me for this adventure!