Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Dream House

A few months ago, Mama called. She calls nearly daily, so this was no surprise. But that day she had one request. The only thing she wanted for Mother's Day come May was her very own Little Free Library. She had been working overtime with a local organization to get the very first Little Free Library in her town. And once it was up, she knew she wanted one decorating her own front yard. 

So I called my sisters to spread the word. That was all it took. You can purchase them from the website, but we wanted to make our own.  

My twin sister is full of creativity and may be one of the best gift givers I know. She is also an artists and paints lovely landscapes. She called a few days later with an idea. I have no idea where she got this idea, but she had decided that we could make a library from a wooden dollhouse. Not only that, but she had found the perfect dollhouse for the plan on the site for all things for sale, craigslist. 

Have you seen 13 Going on 30 with Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo? This dollhouse we found, it was pink just like the dream house from the movie. Really sort of perfect. 

I will admit. I was skeptical about this plan. I had doubts if we could really make it happen. Three girls with zero building skills. I wondered if we'd have to tear the dollhouse apart. Or build shelves for the books. But my twin sister was set on it.  

She secured that perfectly pink dollhouse and started planning a trip to visit this mountain town, under the guise that she was bringing our nephew to see us. OK. That wasn't just a smokescreen for a plan to make Mama her Mother's Day gift, she really did bring our nephew with her, and we had a lot of fun besides working together to transform the dollhouse into a library. 

He gets really excited sometimes & this is what he does. 

The nephew made friends with the locals. 

When the crew finally arrived with the dollhouse in tow, all I wanted to do was play with it. It is a seriously cool dollhouse. And it came complete with furniture and a baby. It turns out my nephew's favorite game was when I let the baby slide down the stairs. Over and over and over again. Now that they have stairs in their new place, he has taken to throwing his dolls down them. I wonder where he learned that . . .

At least my sisters let me keep the furniture after they made me quit playing with it.

The first task was to clean it. 

Then we each had our own task in the makeover. My twin sealed the outside. 

Little sister used her muscles to cut windows for all 8 windows. 

My job was to caulk the doors and windows to create, hopefully, a nice tight weatherproof seal. 

See! I worked too. 

Little sister and her husband also helped attach the latch and create the base the dollhouse would eventually sit on. That was only after I took to it with some white spray paint to make it pretty. I am terrible at spray painting in general. And I warned my sisters of this fact. I am impatient and sloppy when it comes to these sorts of things. But seeing as how this was a gift for Mama, I took my time. Despite the wind blowing the paint in every direction but where I needed it to go, I kept my cool, and I managed to complete my best spray painting job ever. No drips. None. And I even finished before the rain started to fall. 

Once everything was ready, I loaded it all up into my car, and drove to Portland on Mother's Day to meet up with Mama. I called Dad on the way there to let him know he'd have to finish it up and install it.  

I bought Mama a Starbucks gift card, just to make her think that was her only gift. After shopping, we headed to the car, and Mama was very confused. 

"You have a dollhouse? Why do you have a dollhouse in your car?"

"Do you remember the only thing you asked for Mother's Day?" 

"What? A Library?" 

"Let me show you." 

The thing is, even though we called Dad and let him know what we were up to from the first day we found the dollhouse on the internet, he still spent his Spring Break building another library. Not even kidding. He's sort of a stinker that way sometimes. So for over a month, Mama has had a beautiful birdhouse library in her front yard. 

Luckily, Mama loves both. So now she has two. 


Monday, May 12, 2014

Shelby's Cars and Mama's Libraries

How is it Monday already? I don't know about you, but I had another crazy weekend. Filled with thrift stores and tours and travel.

About travel, do you have any sort of travel traditions? Like collecting postcards or shot glasses?
Somewhere along the way, I have inadvertently started my own travel tradition.

The story behind this tradition probably deserves its very own post one day. But I am the traveler who always finds myself posing in front of motorized vehicles (which is, I suppose, fitting, considering my name). And here is this weekend's edition of "Shelby Stands Awkwardly Next to Flashy Cars":

This weekend's travels consisted of a quick day trip over the mountain to spend a few hours with Mama. And to gift her with the one thing she asked for this Mother's Day. Her very own Little Free Library

My sisters and I teamed up to make this happen (thanks to some help from some of the fellas in our lives too). There are lots more pictures of the progress and stories to be told, and an explanation about how this became Mama's second very own Little Library. But thankfully, she loved her second library just as much as she loved the first. 

I'll be sure to post more pictures just as soon as I recover from the realization that today is indeed Monday.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We Run

I think I have told you before about my little sister. And how I can't say "no" to her. Last November she asked me to run a half marathon with her. And since I don't tell her no, well, you get the picture.

That "yes" only meant entering a lottery system. What where the odds our number would be picked and I'd actually have to do this thing? Remember this was right after my last-minute entry into the Happy Girls Half Marathon in Sisters. The last thing on my mind was training for another half marathon.

In early December, we got the official word. And the text I got from another friend who had also entered went something like this: "The only words I can think of are four letter ones."

The planning began in December. And the training. And this girl, she was so excited to be running in the Nike Women's Half Marathon in Washington, DC.

I flew a red-eye and arrived early Friday morning. After a short nap and a shower, we headed down to the expo in Georgetown. And of course, we all had to have our photos made with this giant wall of the names of over 15,000 runners.

This girl convinced us to stand in line for cupcakes. None of which I could eat (but that's a story for another day).  

We then took her out to Old Town Alexandria. In all her visits out there, she'd never been. 

I make a point to go near about every time I'm in the area. 

I got to catch up with two of the best. 

And can you believe all that happened on Friday? 

Saturday we woke early to meet my uncle on his first ever visit to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall. I've written before about the Yellow Hatters, and Charlie planned his trip town from Boston to be there at the same time we were. But we didn't know until a couple weeks beforehand that our uncle would be making his first trip that same weekend. It was great to be there with him and catch up. 

Later we hiked all over creation and Roosevelt Island. (How did I not know about this place when I lived there?) 

We clearly do not believe in sleeping in or resting while on vacation, because Sunday was race day and we woke before the sun. 

In the end it was all worth it. The crazy whirlwind weekend. The training. The loss of sleep. We ran 13.1 miles. With some of the best views and music accompanying us. Some of my favorite parts of the race included running past George Mason's Green Machine pep band, one of many groups stationed throughout the course. And especially crossing Memorial Bridge over toward Arlington Cemetery and back, and remembering a similar journey I took over that bridge during the Rolling Thunder parade in 2006. 

(Things that Nike could improve upon would be more bathroom facilities. This is a women's race after all! The wait was 10 minutes at each stop. Who has time to take a 10 minute bathroom break in the middle of a competitive race? And I have never participated in any race that's post-race offerings were so slim. I would've thought Nike would be able to pull off something at least on par with every other race.)  

But if you need any more proof that the race went well, here I am smiling as I prepare to cross that finish line. No more angry running face here! (Now don't get confused. I wasn't that enthusiastic. I'm the one on the left.) 

I have a suspicion that my sister's main motivation for running this race is that Nike teams up with Tiffany & Co. to make and design the finisher's medals/necklaces. I tried to tell her that it'd be cheaper to buy the necklace than to run the race, but she didn't listen to me. 

Maybe her motivation was seeing all the ROTC fellas dressed in tuxes handing out those little blue boxes. And I suppose I can't blame her.

Monday, May 5, 2014


My little sister has been bugging me weekly about my recent blog absence. So here I am. 

My blog vacation was sort of accidental. I went on Spring Break at the end of March with every intention of staying on track. But obviously that didn't happen. Life did. Upon my return home, I spent a few weeks fighting an infection that basically left me exhausted by the end of the day. I'm pretty much back to normal now. 

Then I went on another long trip for a big race with some great friends. 

Only to come home and have to make a few big decisions about my gypsy life. 

What I have found is that when there is one area of my life I'm not ready to talk about yet, I just cannot seem to talk about anything at all. Does anyone else feel me on that? 

So I'm coming back from blogger vacation. And luckily for you, I've got a few fun stories from all my travels, which included a tour of a 200 year-old cabin. Basically, it's this gypsy's dream home. Stay tuned.