Monthly Archives: December 2008

Top Ten Moments of 2008

It’s New Year’s Eve! I figured this would be a good time to highlight my personal top ten moments of 2008. Here they are:

10. Meeting James Blunt in the Atlanta airport on the way to London. No, I’m not a huge James Blunt fan, but it was just a cool moment.

James Blunt and I

James Blunt and I

9. JJ and Alanna’s Charleston wedding. There were floods and near-death experiences. What more could you ask for?

8. Melly and Al’s Iowa wedding. It was beautiful and crazy, just like Melly herself.

Melly and the girls

Melly and the girls

7. Buying Frankie the Vespa. This was a dream come true for me and my husband.

Frankie the Vespa

Frankie the Vespa

6. Indoor skydiving in Las Vegas. That trip was filled with many cool moments, but this was one of my favorites. It was our present to my dad for his 60th birthday and I think it was a memory we will all treasure.

5. Standing at “the point” in the Outerbanks. It’s a place where several currents come together, creating a point in the sand. It was a beautiful day with great friends.

4. Eating our year-old wedding cake on our one-year anniversary. The cake didn’t taste that great, but the moment was fun.

3. Moving into our new house. Sure we only moved across the street, but we completely renovated the main floor in a matter of weeks.

Our New House

Our New House

2. Crossing the finish line of 2 Wheels 4 Water. My husband and I drove over 2200 miles on Vespa scooters to raise money and awareness about the world water crisis and the work of an amazing organization called Hydromissions. Crossing the finish line felt like an amazing accomplishment.

Standing at the Finish Line

Standing at the Finish Line

1. Driving along the coast of Northern Ireland. It was a stunning day and I loved seeing where my husband grew up. We got lost in the countryside, slid down a hill in sheep poop and crossed a scary rope bridge. That’s what makes this the number one moment of 2008.

A Beautiful, Rainy Day in Ireland

A Beautiful, Rainy Day in Ireland

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The Cure for the Common Christmas: Helping Others

For the third Christmas in a row some friends and I did a little shopping and fulfilled a few wishes for the residents of Reedy Place. It’s an innovative 15-unit apartment building near downtown Greenville. Its residents are former drug addicts and alcoholics. Many have mental disabilities. All have spent years of their lives living on the streets, but thanks to the Upstate Homeless Coalition they now have a place to call home.

I probably heard about Reedy Place through a press release that crossed my desk at WSPA a couple of years back. I just thought it was such a neat idea and I couldn’t get those people out of my mind. That’s how the Reedy Place Christmas tradition began– as a demonstration of support, encouragement and love to these wonderful people. But what it became was a complete blessing to all who spend time with these precious people.

Let me introduce you.This is Cathy. She ripped open her presents with the enthusiasm of a game show contestant. She absolutely loved her new jogging suit.

Cathy

Cathy

This is Nathan. He’s new to Reedy Place. He welcomed us by singing a song he wrote. He has a beautiful voice. He loves to cook in his new kitchen. He asked for a coat, food and a CD player.

Nathan

Nathan

Glen told us last year he loves to make people smile. This year he invited Tim and I into his apartment to show us a bass that sings “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” He picked it up at a thrift store for $1 and says when he’s down he plays it to make himself smile. He was already wearing his new sweater before we left.

Glen

Glen

Illya is super sweet. Last year we had never met him and thought Illya was a woman’s name. He was a good sport about it and this year we made sure to get it right. He loved his new shoes and coat.

Illya

Illya

Johnny also asked for a new coat which he loved.

Johnny

Johnny

Larry opened his presents very quietly but when he pulled out a watch everyone screamed and cheered.

Larry

Larry

You’ve got to love that face! Mr. Massey has been around since Reedy Place opened. He is a joy to see every year. His eyes  have been getting bad from cataracts so he asked with a watch with big numbers on it and shoes. He also sang Silent Night to us.

Mr. Massey

Mr. Massey

Yvonne told me she wants to be a motivational speaker. She wants to help other people who are struggling with addictions. She got a TV and a silver watch. You would have thought she won the lottery going by her reaction.

Yvonne

Yvonne

This is the whole group– all of the residents along with my friends and I. It was a great day and a great reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

Reedy Place Residents and friends

Reedy Place Residents and friends

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Our Night as Elves

Last night my husband and I grabbed our furry Santa (Bruno in his Christmas sweater), loaded up our goodies (homemade muffin mix) and set out to spread some Christmas cheer. Here are some pictures from our fun night.

Bruno Hanging out the Window While Tim Makes a Delivery

Bruno Hanging out the Window While Tim Makes a Delivery

Tim in his Santa Hat

Tim in his Santa Hat

I'm Wearing a Tree on My Head

I'm Wearing a Tree on My Head

Family Portrait in Front of JJ and Alanna's Tree

Family Portrait in Front of JJ and Alanna's Tree

Me and B in a Random Wheelchair

Me and B in a Random Wheelchair

The Goodies We Delivered- Special Muffin Mix

The Goodies We Delivered- Special Muffin Mix

Maybe we just started a new Christmas tradition?

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The Incomplete Bucket List

My "Bucket List"

My "Bucket List"

Before Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made that movie and before anyone even knew what a Bucket List was, I created mine. I was 14-years-old. The world was so big, but my little piece of it seemed so small. I wanted to trade perfectly manicured rows of corn for dusty Mexican highways and the open waters of the Pacific. I longed to give up the vast rolling hills of Iowa and plunge into the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia or scream from the peak of  a mountain. And I wanted to learn the Mamba.

At age 14 I sat down and wrote out my Bucket List. I’ve been carrying this piece of paper around for 15 years. There’s still a tiny hole in the corner from when it held its place on my pink bulletin board. Lately it’s been hidden among shopping receipts and old mail. I love pulling out my Bucket List and seeing in that young girl’s handwriting that she dreams of seeing the bright lights of New York and feeling the rush of skiing a black diamond. I love being reminded that simply tasting lobster or caviar for the first time can be a life-experience worth remembering. I want her to know that number six– para-sail– is going to become a cherished memory since it was accomplished with her best friend Jessica who will only be around a few more years.  I want to tell her that when she runs her first marathon she needs to wake up earlier so she has time to eat breakfast. And she should know that her first trip to Europe won’t be the best one.

While I accomplished several things on list there are several more that I have yet to experience. But here’s the thing about my Bucket List. I didn’t give myself a lifetime to complete these items, or maybe I did from the eyes of a 14-year-old. I gave myself until I turned 30.

As of next week my 30th birthday will be six months away. And looking at my half-accomplished list throws me into a bit of a panic. Unless my Amazing Race audition tape magically wows the judges, I know I won’t be visiting Egypt, China and Australia over the next six months. I have yet to swim with dolphins, save someone’s life or hike an entire mountain. While I did manage to accomplish number nine ten years ago– buy a cappuccino maker– I have yet to cross off number 11– scuba dive. I haven’t learned sign language, been diving with sharks, or technically invented something (I have the idea just never produced it.) But I’m happy to say that number ten– write a book– should be completed by my 30th birthday, God willing.

I guess it’s ok if I don’t complete everything that the 14-year-old me dreamed of doing in her first three decades of life. I’m excited for her because I know she’ll see more of this world before her 30th birthday than just about anyone else in the entire history of her family. She’ll share breathing space with three former Presidents. She’ll ride in helicopters and a hot air balloon, attend the Olympics and the Oscars, and she’ll literally meet the man of her dreams– spiky hair, side burns and foreign accent included. Her life will be full of more experiences and adventure than any 14-year-old in Iowa could imagine. But I would like to swim with dolphins.

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Dear Grandma, Sorry for the Frogs

I didn’t know my grandma sold Christmas trees from the back of her Minnesota diner until I read it in her obituary. I suppose there was a lot I didn’t know about Dorothy May McCorkell. I knew she was a pack rat. I knew she was a chain smoker. I knew she felt young in her denim cowboy boots. And I thought I knew she liked frogs. In honor of my grandmother’s passing this week, here is a story I wrote just days before her death.

The Unintentional Frog Collection

By Alison Storm

One in three people say they feel stressed out during the holidays, according to Gallup. My theory is that the Christmas stress comes from finding the perfect gift. There’s a lot of pressure in gift giving. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they return it? Will they treasure it? You see, being a good gift giver says a lot about you as a person. It says that you listen well, are thoughtful, understanding, and caring.

Think about when you get a really great gift—it makes you feel good, right? Now think about when you get a gift that makes no sense. Not only do you have to fake liking it, but you have a resonating feeling of how little this person actually knows you. Shouldn’t your mom know what size sweater you wear? Shouldn’t your grandma know that you are allergic to wool? Shouldn’t your granddaughter know you hate frogs?

Yes, she should.

In my defense my grandmother and I have never lived in the same town. Miles always separated us. I’m sorry to say months have passed without any communication between us. But I always felt Christmas was my chance to shine. It was my opportunity to be a good granddaughter—my chance to show how thoughtful, understanding and caring I was.

Years ago my sister and I discussed what to get Grandma for Christmas. My recollection tells me it was my sister’s suggestion to add to Grandma’s frog collection. So frogs became our annual holiday gift theme. Frog socks, frog figurines, frog candles, frog pajamas, frog mugs, frog slippers, frog pens—if this woman liked frogs than darn-it, she would be surrounded by them 24-7.

December after December my sister and I would pack up a big box of presents to ship off to my grandmother’s nursing home. We imagined her opening it, being the envy of all of the other residents at Pleasant Manor in small-town Minnesota.

“Oh, did you see Dorothy’s big Christmas package?”

“Her granddaughters are the sweetest!”

“She has the best frog collection I’ve ever seen!”

Years passed. The frog collection grew. And finally I began to wonder.

“Do you think Grandma ever gets sick of getting this frog stuff every year?” I asked my sister.

“I don’t know. You said she really loves frogs,” my sister said.

“No,” I answered. “You said she really loves frogs.”

“No, you did.” She replied.

Silence.

Where did this love of frogs originate? I swore it was my sister’s discovery and she swore it was mine. Surely we didn’t invent Grandma’s passion for amphibians. But at this point we were too ashamed to ask. So that year the frog collection froze, never to be expanded again—at least not by us. Instead, Grandma got something else green: money.

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My Thanksgiving in Vegas

We spent Thanksgiving in Las Vegas. Looking back on it, it seems a little odd to spend a holiday that’s all about family in Sin City, but that’s what my mom wanted. It was her idea to plan a surprise trip to Vegas to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday. He thought he was going to Seattle for Thanksgiving to see my sister, but at the airport found out he’d be going somewhere he’s never been: Las Vegas.

Mandalay Bay in Vegas

Mandalay Bay in Vegas

What he didn’t know until he opened the door to suite 5335 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino was that both of his daughters and their significant others were there to celebrate with him. Overall the trip was great.

Wearing "Larry" masks at dad's surprise party

Wearing"Larry" masks at dad's surprise party

For his 60th I decided to get my dad a new experience. What better way to mark the move into senior living than with an indoor skydiving adventure? My sister’s gift was tickets to the Cirque Du Soleil show “Beatles Love.” It was AWESOME. I loved every second of it. We ate our Thanksgiving meal at The Wynn’s buffet. I won a total of $90 during two trips to the same giant slot machine. And I got in some Black Friday shopping at Caesar’s Palace.

Dad and Tim suiting up for indoor skydiving

Dad and Tim suiting up for indoor skydiving

My dad called yesterday to thank me again for the trip. He said it was his best birthday ever. He said he’ll plan a trip there for my 60th, too. Only 30 years to go!

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