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When nerds flirt

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My husband and I celebrated an anniversary last week. Two years (not bragging but that’s over 730 days). Even though it’s only been two short years, our anniversary tradition is pretty much established. Here’s what we do.

One: Go out to eat. Doesn’t matter where. (But if you really want to know, it’s always going to be Carrabba’s.)

Two: Watch You’ve Got Mail. This step is actually the most crucial; step one is only for appearance’s sake. You’ve Got Mail, which is—if you’ve never seen it—the paragon of perfect romantic comedy, is also OUR MOVIE.

I will now try to explain why this is our movie. Even as I do this, I recognize that I am perhaps ruining our reputations as responsible adult professionals somewhat. But honesty compels me to tell you this story.

Before I begin, I should explain one more important point: Justin is really and truly a man, and a man’s man kind of man.

Not in a hunting/fishing kind of way, and not a football kind of way, but a man’s man nonetheless. He’s manly in a loves-economic-theory-and-good-beer kind of way—those are guy things, right? And he likes the other traditional man things—eating, for instance, and giving his lady a gentle smack on the… lips.

Still, despite these manly attributes, Justin made no bones about explaining to me at great length, within just a few minutes of our first meeting each other (at a Super Bowl party, no less), that he loved the 2008 BBC version of Jane Austen’s Emma better than any other version.

“Although,” he graciously admitted, “there have been two others that were not bad at all. The 1978 BBC, for instance.”

It took me almost a year to get over this first impression.

But it was a year later, around the time we finally got together, that I found out about another movie love of his, and this one was almost as hard to believe: You’ve Got Mail. Fortunately, this just so happens to be in my Top 10. (Note: this is another relentlessly nerdy thing about Justin; he considers a Top 10 list to be very personally revealing. He keeps Top 10 lists—especially books and movies—in a Word document on his computer. He has mine on there too.)

So here it is: this is the part where it gets actually embarrassing.  One night, when we were friends and just getting to the point of considering dating—we sat up one night online and actually quoted an entire scene of You’ve Got Mail to one another in one time-wastey message feed.

It’s the scene (for those of you that love this movie; there must be some of you out there) where Kathleen is in the café waiting to meet her mystery writer and Joe Fox finds out it’s her and comes in. She asks him to leave, and they have an adorable fight. It’s the Nora Ephron-est fight you ever heard.

And why, you ask, did one fully employed adult sit up to a late hour chatting out an entire scene of a rom-com with another fully employed adult?

I really don’t know what to say. I don’t know how it happened—it was over before I could even get my head around what we were doing. One thing just led to another… and we were there. One of us dropped a veiled reference to the scene; the other picked it up. Suddenly we were both running full speed ahead and Joe had already moved to the other table and Kathleen was monologuing about 22-year-old cocktail waitresses.

So in honor of this historic event in our relational history—quite possibly the nerdiest case of flirtation on record in the internet age—we’ve agreed to watch this movie together every year during the season of our anniversary.

And reminisce about old days.

I really think this is the best thing about anniversaries. Through the years, I’m sure there will be a tidy little stockpile of roses built up. There may be little bed and breakfasts, and white tablecloths and babysitters. But it’s the remembering that makes an anniversary really worthwhile; otherwise it’s just another exhausting version of Valentine’s.

Remembering the early days, when the two of you were just feeling your awkward way towards romance, trying to understand some little thing about this stranger and wondering if it would make any sense to…?

So for the married ones among you—go for it. Remember. Reminisce. Drag out the old letters and pull up the old email records. Try to find pictures of the first date, the first trip, the first day as man and wife. See if it doesn’t give you just a little jolt of gratefulness—that you’re married to him now. That no matter how bad things get, you’ll never have to go on a first date with her again. Because she’s not a stranger any more. She’s your wife. He’s your husband.

And for the singles among you, go ahead! Throw caution to the wind. Drop that movie quote. Throw out that obscure, nerd-tastic, nervous reference. You never know—she just may bite.

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Coming {Back} Home

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We are beginning our blog postings again, and I’m tickled pink!

This is just a short post to say hello, and welcome back.  I’m so glad you found your way here!

In case you’ve not been here before, I’m Elizabeth, and I write a column for the magazine entitled “Coming Home,” where I discuss all things “home.”

My business, Superior Construction and Design, is located here in Lebanon.  My projects range from organizing a kitchen cabinet all the way up to building your dream home, and anything in between.  

So send me your questions!  

Have a decorating dilemma?  Unsure of a paint color?  Have a building question?  Send it on….

Who knows?  I may just pick your issue to come over and take a look at and blog about!

You can email me at esbsms@aol.com, or post your question in the comment section below.  Oh and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss anything!

Below is the cover of the last issue of the magazine.  We had so much fun creating the tablescapes for this issue.  Later this week I will post some pics of the full shots of the tables not shown in the magazine…..  some “behind the scenes” shots!

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Again, welcome back….and thanks for Coming Home!

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Granny’s Here!

By Angel Kane

Wilson Living Magazine

A few weeks before school ended, the kids started a countdown. “I can’t wait until Granny gets here,”  was their mantra all of May, as I would hand them a slightly bruised banana while at the same time screaming at them to “get in the car,” as one more tardy and we were all going to Saturday school.

“She’s going to make us eggs and biscuits and not make us iron our own clothes in the morning,” mumbled my middle one. “We won’t have to get our clean towels from the dryer,” commented the youngest. “It’s going to be heaven,” noted our oldest who apparently has suffered the longest under our parentage.

And as I completely expected, Granny arrived on Memorial Day and things have not been the same!

Other than taking trips together or long holidays spent with my family, this is the first time all three of my children have experienced Granny much the way I did growing up. Which brings a huge smile to my face as there is a big difference between “Holiday Granny” and “I’m Coming To Stay For a Month Granny.”

Such a difference that my kids have now started another countdown.

When Granny first got here, it was just as they imagined. Eggs and biscuits in the morning, casseroles and cobbler in the evening and in between she would tell them how smart and pretty they were.

That was week one – while she was still on vacation.

Slowly, however, Granny has emerged from holiday mode to the mother I fondly remember. 

Week two – she started cleaning. 

And when I say cleaning, I don’t mean vacuuming. My mother cleans with buckets and dish rags – the on your knees – scrubbing down walls – type of cleaning. And when she is done she takes trash bags, the big black garden variety, and cleans out drawers, closets and cupboards.

Only after that, do we really start to clean.

And while Granny will certainly get down on her hands and knees with you, she much prefers to use young children to do her dirty work. Think the musical “Annie” where all the orphans are scrubbing the bathroom floor and you’ll then have a glimpse of how my brother and I spent our Saturdays.

Another treasured memory is Granny’s way of teaching you how “to do something the right way.” She lives to show you how to fold a fitted sheet, mend a hem or sew a button. And nothing makes Granny madder than opening the linen closet to find a big, wadded up ball of fitted sheets.

“Kids, come here and let me show you something!” has become her favorite line. 

It’s funny how in less than 3 weeks the May mantra has now turned into hushed whispers the moment I get home.

“She made me try on all my clothes in the closet, every single one and then refold the ones that fit and put them up neatly,” relays my middle one, aghast at how the tides have turned against her.

Brody and I, on the other hand, are quite enjoying Granny’s extended stay.

Our floors are clean enough to eat off of, our perfectly folded towels smell like a dewy meadow, our home cooked meals are just divine and our children…well, let’s just say, the next time I throw a brown banana their way and call it breakfast…the words “thank you sweet Mother” will be flowing from their lips.

To read more of Angel and Becky’s column, go to www.wilsonpost.com or www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com.  

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madison

My Personal Banker

madisonBy Angel Kane

Wilson Living Magazine

So the text message went something like this:

Brody: “we’re going to miss the first quarter of the Titan’s game because of Zoe! I had to stop at the ATM which caused us to lose 20 minutes. We’re now sitting in traffic that’s at a complete standstill!”

Uh-oh, someone is going to be in big trouble was my first thought. One I shared with our resident, teen-age, middle child who rolled her eyes, mouthed “Not. My. Fault.” and carried on looking at the latest fashions on Instagram.

The last time I can remember having cash, on a regular basis, was when fast food chains did not take credit cards. But once that barrier was finally overcome, now the only time I carry cash is when my grandmother sends me a newly minted, one hundred dollar bill for my birthday or when our resident banker deems me credit worthy to receive an allotment.

And if you think banking regulations have become tougher, I can assure you the Federal Government has nothing on the Kane Kids Bank & Trust.

Our kids don’t get an allowance per se, but I find they are much more likely to  accomplish a big task like cleaning out the chicken coop or washing our cars, if I offer them the promise of monetary compensation.

And I can assure you, once the task it complete, they take whoever made the promise on a hostage-bank run and quickly pocket the cold hard cash.

And by pocket, I mean… their cash… goes on complete lock down.

Our eldest usually goes from our bank straight to hers where she promptly deposits it.

Our youngest has a piggy bank with a numeric combination that only he and his maker know.

And then there is our middle child, too young for a bank account, too old for a piggy bank.

Just right for the picking.

“Zoe, give your brother some lunch money and I’ll pay you back.”

“Zoe, your cross country uniform money is due today, pay for it and I’ll pay you back.”

“Zoe, I don’t have money for a tip, let me borrow a few dollars.”

 

Each time, our personal banker grumbles and threatens to cut us off but ultimately folds to the global economic pressures of living with parents who fully embrace a cashless society.

That is, until last Sunday, right as Brody and Neill were leaving for the Titan’s game.

“Zoe, give your Dad some cash for parking and he’ll pay you back.”

“No, I’m not. No one ever pays me back. Madison keeps her money in the bank and Neill keeps his in a booby trapped vault. You and Daddy are the worst! I’m tired of letting everyone in this family borrow money and never being paid back!”

It’s seems our not-so international monetary fund had cut us off!

Two hours later Brody and Neill were missing their all-time favorite teams, the Cowboys and the Titans, play because instead of their usual bailout, the boys were forced to head to the ATM.

Later that evening, the aftermath of the Kane financial crisis reached global proportions as fingers were pointed, financial bubbles were burst and key players refused to take the blame.

This Recovery… may take a while.

To read more of Angel & Becky’s columns go to www.wilsonpost.com or www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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But, I’m not finished…. (Madison Part 2)


By Angel Kane

Wilson Living Magazine

“Have you thought about living in Chicago? I had a friend from high school who went to University of Chicago and she loved it. Or what about Baylor, my cousin’s daughter went there.”

I try not to make eye contact with Brody when I bring up far away colleges, because if looks could kill, his would be stoning me to death, one eyeball at a time.

“Stop telling Madi to move a million miles away from us. She may never come back!” he whispers (in his loud voice) anytime I bring up any college where she can’t come home for dinner.

I, on the other hand, think college is the perfect time to spread your wings, experience new places and meet new people…well, that’s what I like to say to the other mothers …sounds very grown up, don’t you think?

But as we drove through the college gates for our first official college visit, four hours away from home, I almost burst out crying. And I don’t cry. Ever. So I was a little confused as to that suspicious lump in my throat followed by my blurred vision.

‘Am I having a stroke?’ was my first thought.

And then I went from a stroke to hearing voices in my head. Voices that sounded just like my own, shouting out…“but I’m not finished! My time is up with her? How can that be, we just got started!”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt for a minute that she is ready. Having seen her in action this summer, campaigning side by side with her Dad, from one end of Gainesboro, to the other end of Westmoreland and back to Mt. Juliet, I know she will be fine. More than fine.

But at this point, her going away to college has become about me.

As we went on the tour from one building to the other, I thought about all the things I meant to do, meant to say…

I don’t think I’ve ever played an entire game of Monopoly with her. I’ve racked my brain  and can’t think of any game, in fact, that I’ve ever finished with her. I hate to play games and she really loves them. She is so like her Dad in that way. Does that make me a bad Mom?

And there are all those dinners around the kitchen table I envisioned… there were too few of those, especially as life got busier with work and two younger siblings. From now on, I’m cooking every night until she moves away! Note to self, start going to the grocery again.

We did go prom dress shopping, twice in fact, but she found both her dresses at the first shop we went to, within the first half hour, so it was so quick I barely remember it. She was always such an easy child. Made my job effortless.

Do you think it’s too late for me to let her be messy? I was one of those Moms who never liked a mess in the house. If she wanted to finger paint or play with play dough, it was always on the back porch. Is that why she isn’t interested in the arts and considers being outside to be a form of torture?

I did teach her what make-up you can buy at your local drugstore and what types are best to splurge on, but did I tell her that less is more? I think I did, or maybe she just figured it out on her own.

Fix-a-Flat. Does she know about that? Maybe I should buy her a taser. She knows to always have her keys out as she walks to her car, but have I told her that if someone abducts you, to never let them take you to a second location? And definitely always punch them in the throat and run. We should practice that before she leaves.

“Your will shall decide your destiny” is one of my favorite quotes but so is, “Awesome things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow” – I wonder which will work better embroidered on a pillow for her dorm room?

Does she remember those times we baked Christmas cookies? I never could get the icing to harden but the white snowman cookies were still the bomb. And that Halloween ghost cake, we made that at least three years in a row. Hopefully I’ve taught her that icing can cover a number of baking sins.

There are just so many things that I meant to say, meant to teach her, meant to do with her and instead, here I am on a tour that is taking my Madi away.

I looked at Brody as he was watching Madi peruse the t-shirts in the college bookstore. When she found one she liked and handed it to him, he blurted out “You want to buy one with this school’s name on it? That’s such a big commitment! We just started looking at colleges! Why don’t you buy a magnet or something like that?”

Geez… he seriously needs to get a grip!

 

To read more of Angel’s and Becky’s columns go to www.wilsonpost.com or www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com.

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The Year Of Madison


By Angel Kane

Wilson Living Magazine

 

I remember, like it was yesterday, the day Madi started kindergarden.

At the time, I couldn’t believe she was old enough for school… real school. Dressed in her prettiest sundress, new lunch box in hand, a big bow atop her little blond head, she and I were thrilled about her new adventure. I took hundreds of photos… but that was before Facebook…so until I can find them, scan them and post to FB, you’ll have to take my word for it, she was just adorable!

And then, in a blink of an eye… she is about to be a Senior.

Every day now when I open the mailbox, flyer after flyer from one college or another is all that ever arrives. I watch as she examines the mail piece, googles the school and adds it to the places she wants to visit. Right about then, I usually scream out, “Why you want to leave me?” doing my best Greek accent as I repeat my favorite line from ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’

To which she rolls her eyes and reminds me, “please stop, you don’t sound anything like him!”

In two weeks, Madi starts her final year of high school. That means in two weeks, we also begin the Year Of Madison.

Three months ago, as we sat down for dinner, Madi informed us that as this was her final year to be with us, she fully expected the entire year to revolve around her. That meant, no new home purchases, no remodels, no work changes, no trips without her, no travel soccer leagues for her little brother or cross country meets for her sister and certainly no new dogs, chickens or pets of any sort that required attention. This was her year, and we were to do nothing, go nowhere, talk about anything… that didn’t pertain to Madison.

Of course, Zoe and Neill immediately took offense. And after much discussion, it was agreed that the Year Of Madison would sometimes “feature” Zoe and Neill…but not that much, and only if Madison has pre-approved their guest spot appearance.

And slowly the idea of the Year Of Madison has taken hold. Although I do think it’s funny that Madi believes that after one year, she will be gone forever.

“You do know college has breaks, don’t you?” I query of her, but I don’t think she is listening any more… nor is anyone else.

Her brother has already laid claim to her room, while her sister has laid claim to her furniture. And to be honest, I’ve laid claim to a couple pairs of shoes and belts that were mine to begin with and will not be making any journey out of state.

This past Sunday, we got a preview of the Year Of Madison as she took her Senior pictures. The house with abuzz as we readied her hair and make up and decided between her two prettiest sundresses. And as she stood in the field of sunflowers while the photographer and she did their thing, Brody and I soaked up every minute of the opening credits to the Year Of Madison.

The only thing missing was her new lunch box and a big bow atop her little blond head… other than that… it was just yesterday.

To read more of Angel and Becky’s columns go to www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com or www.wilsonpost.com

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Why your new best wine is like your new best friend…

Taste a wine, or meet a person. Each wine is different as each person is different. Wines are so varied that they can be, and often are, compared to the human personality types. Wines can be matched with friends, relatives and recent acquaintances. Some of these folks are in your life by chance, while others have the bond of family. The characteristics expressed by grapes are as complex as people, and our impressions of wine can be compared to our perceptions of people. You meet wines as often you meet people: dinner at a friend’s houses, restaurants, cocktail parties or at your favorite tailgate party.

 

After the very first taste, we develop thoughts, feelings and initial impressions about wine. We may not like it after that initial taste. It’s almost how you didn’t like your husbands ex-girlfriend the first time you met her, but as time went by you realized she was a nice person. That rose’ from the Lanquedoc did nothing for you at first, but on the third try you realized that even though she was easy, she was still a lot of fun. After all if ever there was a floozy of wines, it’s certainly a French Rose’. Seriously, it pairs with everything!

Your palette evolves as does your taste in people. You may no longer hang out with a certain group of people. And, you may now pass over a fruitier wine for an earthier, more matured wine, a wine with more discretion.

We seem to find varying wines for the changing times in our lives. Some wines are young and some wines are old. Perhaps you remember that 84′ Bordeaux that was popped open at dinner because the smell did kind of remind you of Uncle Buddy’s house. Buddy is dusty, crusty and long in the tooth as some wines can be. However, Buddy has layers that have formed during his tenure. He is no simple wine so to speak. A wine reminiscent of Buddy could be called a real senior citizen of the cellar. Then there is the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a baby, an adolescent, a real young buck full of fruit and tannins. It needs to open up. It needs to age. And just like that guy you dated in college, it really needs to mature before you take it to a family dinner. In time it will gain some layers and some complexity. Right now its still being formed in the cellar. It will be ready to enjoy in a few years.

A wine may appear in your life at a friend’s house. Perhaps you did not choose this wine, but it is the only Chardonnay on the bar and that is really what you want to drink. After a glass you mutter to yourself that it’s “not bad” and “ Why are my friends so cheap?” and “ Next time I’m bringing my own wine.” and “ Don’t they know about the Market Basket?” If that chardonnay were a person, it would be the only girl in your drivers ed course from high school, the one you ate lunch with because she was the only other girl.

Other wines are like your family. Take champagne. She appears in her tall, slim glass at every family event and celebration. She is like your older sister who you love so much and also hate…. the next day. She knows sooo much more than you and being with her makes you feel so sophisticated. You will go days without speaking but when you get together again it is like a sunshine bubble dance of love and happiness! Relationships with humans and wine can be cyclical. People like wine can come and go. Feelings about wine can come and go.

And then, there is the wine you meet at a cocktail party. It smacks you in the face with its big bold tannins. It tells a long belabored story about its childhood spent on pristine acreage in Napa Valley, the careful intuitive hands that picked its grapes and its years spent in fine oak barrels and it goes on and on about its price. “Is this wine for real?” You think. And just when you wonder if its over it smacks you in the head with its blistering tannins. You may think your palette can’t take anymore, so you try to hand this glass to someone else. Or, maybe you have some more because you prefer a strong personality in wine. Some wines can wear you out. And anyone who has ever participated, or more correctly, not participated in a one sided conversation knows that as personalities can feel overwhelming, so can wine.

Luckily, your every night wine is like your best friend or your spouse – familiar, easy, low maintenance. It’s soft and unpuzzling, simple, yet elegant. Your every night wine doesn’t make you eat filet mignon. It goes just as well with Ritz crackers and cheesewhiz or a frozen pizza.It’s like a warm blanket. Value being a particular concern, it’s the wine you stay home with and watch T.V. Although a good relationship surely has no price tag.

And, just as there are country wines mad from muscadine grapes, there are late harvest muscats from the Michelin star studded wine lists. We all know a hillbilly who would like to spit some beechnut. Yet, we are familiar with the gent who likes to toke on a stogie. The grapes can be the same, just raised and cultivated in different places, or not cultivated,… Just like humans, wines have various levels of cultivation.

 New wines are born every day and every year just like humans. Prissy or not, your wine is what you like as your friends are who you like! Enjoy both!

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The Pregnancy Show-off Winter Olympics

I’m a super lucky mommy-to-be.

Here’s why: my schedule of baby-baking is timed exactly so that just as the weather grows colder, the belly will be expanding proportionally. Bingo. Extra layer. This means that throughout the entire progress of this winter, I’ll have a perfectly sized personal heater at my disposal.

Do you know how exciting this is?

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I don’t know if you remember last winter, but I do. I remember it the way we all remember trauma in our lives: a haze of gray, a chill right down into my shoulders, something about a polar vortex, school out (again) and cars stranded in driveways.  Not even Starbucks would have saved us last winter (although I have to admit, something about the Starbucks arriving in Lebanon has made me feel armed for the season in a new way; it’s like I just bought a pair of winter boots).

So here I am, facing the cold season again with a heightened sense of excitement and invincibility. It’s not just that we’re staring down the hallway of autumn into the season of all the best holidays (we are). Not only that, but I’ll be ready to take everything in stride, warmed to the core by the tiny human in my belly.

This pregnancy business is a win-win. Convenient heating system now, new family member later.

But in the meantime, with the weather still in its mildest stages, I am in the middle of apparently life-altering decisions about how to have this baby. It should be a simple decision. In fact, I always naively assumed it was a simple decision: pick a doctor/midwife, pick a hospital, try to get there before the baby comes out, and presto! Baby.

But I underestimated the crushing weight of peer pressure.

Here’s the problem. My mother is a superhuman. She gave birth to seven children without pain medication of any kind; six of them were at home with a midwife. I just read some stats about home births today: apparently only 1 in 75 births are done at home in the western world. My mother did this six times; this means that she is in, at minimum, a 1 in 450 minority (I know, statisticians, I did that wrong; so sue me).

She did all this in the 80s and 90s, before it was cool. But today, with the advent of the organic-food-eating, attachment-parenting soccer mom guilt trip, a home birth is a badge of honor in many circles. What could be more ‘authentic’ than birthing your baby at home with the help of something called a ‘doula’? What, indeed? Except for maybe hosting a dinner party and serving up your own hand pressed guinea hen crostini with free-range mushroom granita and locally sourced wildberry compote? Or adopting a child from an obscure country?

Three of my sisters are young and married, and I can only imagine the game of obstetrical How Low Can You Go? we might get into if we aren’t careful.

One of us may choose to give birth in a hospital with just a little laughing gas, and breast feed for six months; another will go in for the full natural experience, and breast feed for a year. The next will make the proud leap and do a homebirth with a midwife, serving nine-months time on a completely organic diet, upping the ante for us all.

Finally, somebody will fall into this thing that I only heard of for the first time last week when one of my sisters mentioned it at a family gathering: Unassisted Home Birth.

Unassisted Home Birth (UHB) takes it all to the next level. With this jaw-dropping and unbeatably authentic option, a woman gives birth at home without any trained professional nearby. Her husband, if unlucky enough to be present, catches the baby. Or she goes into a quiet place and catches the child herself. Proponents say that this is the best way, because only a woman really knows her body, and she’ll know when it’s time and exactly what to do when it happens.

Today I read stories online about women in the 50s who used to toss back two whiskey highballs, shut themselves in a bedroom for an hour, catch the child, clean the child, cut the umbilical cord, introduce the child to other siblings, and then get immediately back to dusting.

My sister (an artist, so she can get away with this kind of talk) blithely tried to convince her husband that this was a good idea. The rest of us told her flatly that it was not, and then uncomfortably tried to explain why, at the lunch table. Finally, her husband (who’d listened fairly politely, considering) flatly shut her down.

“No, babe,” he said. And that was that. We breathed a sigh of relief.

I just so happen to be the first pregnancy on this side of the family, so I’ll be sort of testing the waters for us all (or breaking the waters, if you will). But something tells me that I’ll have to be careful to set a good mommy-talk example.  If the internet is a fierce attacker of women’s parenting decisions, real women in real life can be even worse—though more subtle. I have very dear friends who feed, dress, sleep, train, teeth, and love their children in very different ways, and I have respect for each of them. They are also all (or almost all) extremely gracious in the way they talk about their decisions. No crowing. No guilt-tripping. No back-biting. No(t much) unasked-for-advising.

If motherhood is a competition, I want out. I was never very good at How Low Can You Go anyway. I don’t bend over backwards very well. 

Nope… the 2015 Pregnancy Show-off Winter Olympics will have to count me out.

Because parenting isn’t really a competition at all, is it? It’s something much better—and if you want to do so, shoot us a comment below or send me a line in the next few weeks (tilly@wilsonlivingmagazine.com). How is parenting better than a competition? 

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Meet the LHS Football team’s most loyal fans

Bleeding BLUE DEVIL BLUE

BY KEN BECK

lebanon high super fans.img 1Lebanon High School superfans James and Barbara Manning have seen almost every Lebanon High football game since 1966. Barbara holds their lifetime passes, good for admission to every Lebanon High School sporting event, and James holds a 1972 football program, plus the season tickets they used from 1972 until now. Their home overflows with sports memorabilia representing many of their favorite teams and sports. Photo by Ken Beck

There are sports fanatics and there are sports fanatics but going way over the top are super-duper sports lovers James and Barbara Manning, whose passion for their Lebanon Blue Devils knows no out of bounds.

James, 72, a 1961 Lebanon High grad, has missed but two Lebanon football games, home and away, since 1966, and Barbara, class of 1964, has failed to show for about 15 games (due to work and illness) during that same 48-year span. Not counting their years as students, the couple has rooted for the Lebanon gridiron squad at more than 500 contests and counting.

And that number doesn’t begin to touch the hem of their “Once a Blue Devil, Always a Blue Devil … Forever” T-shirts when you consider the Lebanon basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball and cross-country events they have observed across the decades.

And, lest we be remiss, the duo are ardent fans of Cumberland University Bulldog sports teams, and attend practically every home football, baseball, basketball and softball game. So that raises the question, which comes first: Lebanon High or Cumberland University?

“Lebanon comes first!” the couple chimes in unison from their home, which overflows with sports souvenirs and memorabilia reflecting their ardor for almost any sport that involves a ball.

“Lebanon is No. 1. I’ve always said that,” emphasizes Barbara. 

“I’m lucky. I only missed two games since 1966,” said James, also lucky that he found Barbara one day in April of 1966 at the Southland Bowling Alley where she was in need a bowling partner.

Afterward he asked her, “Can I carry your bowling ball to the car?” Barbara answered, b“You sure can.”

Then he asked her if she had a date that night.

“She said, ‘Yes,’ and I thought I had struck out,” recalled James, but soon afterward he asked again, and she agreed.

After courting for five months, the Lebanon natives were wed Sept. 18, 1966. Their wedding shower cost James from seeing his Blue Devils play Carthage in an away game.

“The game was rained out on Friday night and rescheduled for Saturday when we had the shower scheduled,” he says.lebanon high super fans img 2June 1966-Here, James and Barbara stand on the front porch of Barbara’s parents’ home located in Lebanon just a few weeks before they wed.

Barbara recollects that they occasionally broke away from their guests to catch up with the game via a radio turned on in another room. Did we mention these two like Lebanon High football?

James’ only other miss was an away game in Shelbyville in 1979 when he had to work late. And there was one game he attended that, work be blasted blasted, could easily have cost him his job.

“I didn’t know that Barbara even liked football,” James said. “A few weeks before we married, I told her, ‘I’m going to the football game Friday night.’”

“I said, ‘I’m going too,’” said Barbara. “I saw the first game at Nokes Field in 1965 and the last game at the old stadium. ” Until Lebanon moved into their new high school and stadium in 2013, the Mannings could be found sitting in Section B, second row from the top, overlooking the 50-yard line

at every home game. The couple possesses a lifetime pass to every Lebanon sporting event, a gift from William Porter in 2009.

Still, they purchase six season tickets every year so they can carry along friends and family. Their stash of memorabilia includes football season tickets dating back to 1972.

Bobby Brown, who served as head football coach at Lebanon High from 2002 to 2010, describes their passion for sports saying, “It’s amazing. You could probably go back 40 years, and they probably have every article from ‘The Wilson Post’ and ‘Lebanon Democrat’ about Lebanon High School sports in their house. It’s not unusual to find them at Walter J. Baird football and basketball games, and they even go to some Lebanon High bowling matches.

“Wow, here are two people that don’t even have a son or daughter, and they go and support every sport-ing event that they can for Lebanon High School and Walter J., and you even find them at Cumberland University games. That is what’s amazing,” said Brown, now assistant principal and athletic director at Walter J. Baird Middle School.

These days the couple does have Manning family members for whom they can root at Blue Devil sporting events. Nieces Danielle, a junior, plays softball; Lindsay, a freshman, plays volleyball and softball; and Bailey, an eighthgrader, performs with the Walter J. Baird dance team. Friend Randy Sallis sits beside the Mannings at most Cumberland University baseball games and sees them at the Lebanon High football games.

“They’re always there,” he noted “They’re quiet. They’re not cheerers, they’re supporters. Every coach would know them when they see them. ‘They’re that couple at every game,’ but they might not know their names. They don’t interject themselves. They wear their Lebanon or Cumberland gear.

“James makes a calendar every year for all the games. Going to a ball game almost every single night—that’s their perfect week.

“James is almost like a packrat when it comes to memorabilia. He has stats, newspaper articles, he catalogs them,” Sallis said. “In high school football, if Lebanon is not in the playoff brackets, they will pick out the best playoff game and go, not to root for anybody, but just go to the game.

lebanon high super fans img 3Barbara and James Manning clap for their beloved Lebanon High Blue Devils during the 2014 football season opener at Mt. Juliet High School. The duo has followed Lebanon High sports since they were students at Lebanon High in the 1950s and routinely follow their alma mater’s athletic squads in practically every event. Photo by Becky AndrewsJames estimated that he and his wife have seen 80 percent of Lebanon High basketball games since they were married. The only school sport they have never observed is golf.

The pair began attending Cumberland football games in 1990 when the university started back its football program. “We see all the home games and a few of the away games and about all their home baseball games,” said James.

“I will walk back and forth from the baseball and softball games,” Barbara said. “Now we’re going to some Cumberland University soccer games. We enjoy it but don’t know anything about it.”

“We know when they score,” said James, who played basketball for Lebanon High in his prep days. “I’ve been lucky enough to bowl two perfect games and make a hole in one at golf,” shared James, who spent 40 years at Precision Rubber as a scheduler and expediter.

“I’m not an athlete, just good at watching,” said Barbara, who worked at Hartmann Luggage for 26 years.

James, who began attending Lebanon football games with his father in the late 1940s, has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He recalls once spending his haircut money for bubble gum and 120 baseball cards. The result was a whipping. He still has some of those cards but is not sure if it was worth it.

One of his favorite articles of Lebanon football memorabilia is a pennant from the 1965 season that belonged to his father. While James was serving in the Army in Panama, his dad penciled in the score of every game of a season that went unblemished but for a final game loss to Sparta.scoreboard lebanon high img 1

Barbara too has a memento of the 1965 season, a gift passed along by her mother.

“My mother caught a little football thrown into the stands by cheerleaders at the 1965 Clinic Bowl when Lebanon played Donelson. And then 25 years later she caught a little football when Cumberland University started back its football program. I wouldn’t take anything for this football,” she says of the Clinic Bowl souvenir.

James and Barbara have an barchives filled with newspaper clippings, sports book and magazines and Lebanon High football programs that date back nearly 50 years. They also love baseball’s Atlanta Braves, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and the NBA Boston Celtics.

lebanon high super fans img 4In front of her refrigerator, plastered with stickers and magnets in support of Lebanon High School, Cumberland University, the Atlanta Braves and Tennessee Volunteers, Barbara Manning clasps her Lebanon Blue Devil doll. Photo by Ken Beck

Pennants on the walls, team towels on their couch and stickers and magnets on their fridge reflect those favorite teams. However they do come to a rare parting of paths when it comes to college football.

“I’m a Tennessee fan. He’s a Vanderbilt,” said Barbara.

Enough said.

The couple proves to be big tailgaters, especially before Lebanon football games. Barbara favors packing fresh tomatoes, roast beef sandwiches, chips, sausage balls, pecan sandies, peanuts, Snickers, Three Musketeers, M&Ms and Dr Pepper.

Another Lebanon High alumnus who has seen the friendly faces of James and Barbara over decades at

Lebanon sporting events is veteran “Wilson Post” sports editor Tommy Bryan.

“James and Barbara Manning are fixtures at Lebanon High athletic events. They watched me play football in the mid-1970s, and they watched my son Taylor (class of 2014) play. I’ve seen them at track meets, baseball and softball games, volleyball games and cross country meets,” said Bryan.

“They exemplify what it means to be ‘true blue.’ Rain or shine, win or lose, James and Barbara are there supporting the Blue Devils. They attend every pancake breakfast, yard sale, car wash—anything that the LHS athletic department puts on you can count on the Mannings to be in the front row.

“Barbara was in attendance at the very first game played at what became Nokes-Lasater Field, and she was there for the very last one when Lebanon beat Portland in 2011.

“The term ‘great’ gets tossed around way too much in this world, but the Mannings are great fans and even better people,” Bryan said. The Mannings find it difficult to explain their fanaticism for all things sports related to Lebanon High, but agree that football is their favorite sport.

 “Why? I don’t know. We just love Lebanon. Winning gives me joy. I just love to support the kids. I think they deserve it,” Barbara said.

Concludes James, “I guess I would feel lost if I didn’t go to then ballgames on Friday night. We’ve been all across the state from Bristol to Memphis.”

But their favorite place to watch their favorite football team play?

Well, by now you know that answer is obvious.

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meet tilly img 1

Far Too Easily Pleased

BY TILLY DILLEHAY

In this issue’s Finding Your Piece of the Good Life, I’m pulling doubled duty.

meet tilly img 1Tilly and her husband Justin

My job here is

1:  To write about my idea of something called “the good life,” (e.g, what it is and how I found it); and

2: To introduce myself to you all, the readers of Wilson Living Magazine. I have just joined the magazine staff as Editor, and couldn’t be more excited.

So here we are: Hello. It’s fantastic to meet you. I can’t wait to be a part of your community.

That fulfills goal #2.

Goal #1 will take a bit more time. Why? Because the Good Life, as we all think of it, is a slippery business.

Because it tends to elude us. It certainly eluded me for many years. I’ve clambered my way to the top of many a goal or dream that I believed to represent the Good Life, only to find that the Good Life wasn’t there at all.

But this is a little cryptic. I’ll just try and start from the beginning.

I have been raised in Middle Tennessee. Some of my childhood was spent on a farm in Smith County, but the majority of adolescence and young adulthood has been inHermitage and other areas around Nashville. My parents, and most of my six siblings, are currently parked in the Nashville/Franklin area.

The way I see it, I’ve been a writer since I was five years old, when my father took my on his knee for a year and taught me to read. Almost from the moment that I was reading books, I was imitating them. 

When I was eleven years old, my sister and I put out our first weekly publication: a family newsletter that featured breaking household news items such as “Fire! Local girl saves the day; puts out toaster oven fire with quick thinking and admirable presence of mind!”

My family was a deeply Christian family. We were raised conservatively, with a father who’d been in Christian music throughout 80s and 90s, and a mother who home schooled us. My commitment to the faith was instant and early. 

I was an awkward girl, naturally shy, obsessed with the question of whether my hips were too wide, and whether that was why boys didn’t like me as much as my outgoing older sister. I ended up going to college fairly early and studying Journalism. I wrote a humor column, built a fantastic group of friends, and discovered dating and after-school jobs. meet tilly img 2Tilly and four siblings in 1994, wearing fantastic matching outifts

It was here that my first concerted attempts at the Good Life were made. Here, I had grand visions for collegiate success: beauty, popularity, good grades and a shining reputation, culminating in a knockout husband and eventual (but optional) career. All ease, all happiness, all adventure and a side dish of good, healthy spirituality.

These dreams began to fail. They failed quickly, and more completely with every passing year. Popularity, come to find out, never satisfied and seemed extremely difficult to quantify. (“Am popular now? Now? What about now?) Beauty eluded me constantly, as I went into an early and frustrating cycle of dieting and weight gain—not to mention the fact that beauty is also pretty tough to measure. (Am I attractive now?

Now Success, ease, and love—these other dreams seemed even more difficult to come by. I graduated from college in 2008, which, I would learn later, was simply an unfortunate time for all graduates. The market bottomed that year, businesses were crashing or downsizing, and I was just one of hordes of over-educated, underexperienced kids trying to wade into the worst job market in thirty years.

I wasn’t married, and I had no prospects. I wanted stability but didn’t know the first thing about earning it. I wanted spiritual peace but had squandered it on compromise and discontentment. The first several years of my young professional experience was as far from The Good Life as things get. I worked jobs that weren’t enjoyable, and were far afield of my degree or skill set. I wandered and drifted—through relationships, through residences, through friendships.

Then, one day, I was converted.

This story is another story, and too long for today. All I can say is that I discovered the God of Scripture, the God who mercifully brings order and peace to our lives. I was rescued by the Savior who delivers our dreams out of the insipid ideas we have about the Good Life—none of them anywhere near good enough or exciting enough.

We get excited about things like money, love, everlasting physical youth, and creative genius; God teaches us that what he’s offering is so far beyond these desires that we’ve been unable to imagine the possibility of his promises.

Five years later, I am a married woman who has worked for the last few years as the Editor of the Macon County Times, a weekly newspaper out of Lafayette, TN. (The Times, incidentally, was a wonderful place to work, a real professional boon to me. The only thing that could have drawn me away from it would be the impending need for flexible hours… for one very special reason that you’ll see below.) I’m  about to embark on another professional adventure with Wilson Living Magazine.

My husband just graduated seminary last year and is in the process of becoming a pastor. We’re in the middle of purchasing our first home. We are also expecting a gift that—from what I hear—is incomparable among the human blessings: our first child is due in March.

meet tilly img 3Tilly, dancing with her father, Morgan Cryar, on her wedding day in September of 2012

These things—the home, the love, the job, the friends, the family—these are all the trappings that I ever imagined as a young woman seeking the Good Life. My cup really does, quite literally, run over; I have an embarrassment of blessings.

But something in me is absolutely certain of one thing: these things are not what make up my piece of the Good Life. These things may come or go; God has given and he may take again. And even if they were guaranteed forever, they could never be enjoyed fully without being recognized for what they are: gifts from a good Father’s hand.

It’s a lovely way to live.

And beginning September 2nd, I’ll be living a piece of this good life in beautiful Lebanon, TN. You’ll find me in the office space now partially occupied by Wilson Living Magazine. More information on that to come—we look forward to serving you!

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