The Story of a Simple Sticker

Isn’t it funny how we can get so attached to our cars? They have no emotions or feelings, yet we treat them like family. Who knew a twisted mess of metal could bring out so many feelings and experiences. I am no exception and I am still driving my car 12 years after buying it! I still remember vividly going into the lot to investigate cars. I was in Alaska, of all places, and I had just arrived there had nothing to my name except two suitcases, filled with clothing mementos and a few kitchen supplies. to start my career as a news anchor. I literally rebuilt my life from scratch.

My dad had come with me to make the adjustment easier. I could tell he was nervous for leaving his little girl alone in the vastness that is Alaska and we went over to the lot to buy my very first car. I had saved the money to put down a substantial amount but I needed to find the right fit for me. We looked at a lot of cars and none of them really felt like the right fit. I was getting nervous because time was of the essence. I had to start my new job within a matter of days and I was driving a rental car as my means of transportation. It was a Toyota RAV 4 that caught my eye that day. It was white and looked like a zippy little SUV for me. I liked all the room it provided and I was pretty sure I had found my ride! I remember clearly the whole negotiation process and writing the biggest check that I had ever written in my life!

I remember driving off the lot feeling so grown up and like a real adult! I had bought my first car with my own money! I wanted to scream it from the rooftops and I felt a special connection to my automobile. As I drove off the lot I thought of a name for my car! He would be “Jinah” after the founder of the country of Pakistan. Sure it was cheesy but it represented my culture and lineage and it seemed to be a perfect fit.

The next day my dad had a little surprise for me. He got some stick on letters and taped them on my car with the name of my car. They were lopsided and crooked but I didn’t care because it was from my dad and it was special; now my car had an identity all its own.

Fast forward a few years and I was a news anchor in Oregon. One night I was leaving a friend’s house and I backed into a pole. It was one of those silly moments that you have where you are just not paying attention. The “Jinah” sign was still there but now I had a dent in my back bumper that was unsightly. I decided to not even bother getting it fixed and decided to just live with it instead. Oh well!

Fast forward a few more years and I was engaged to my fiancé! He has always been so great about fixing things for me and making my life easier and he decided I needed to get that back bumper fixed no matter what. He took matters into his own hands and bought a whole new door for my car. In no time my car looked brand new again but the “Jinah” sign was gone with the old back door.

I was so sad about it that I made the kind repair man show me the back door so I could at least get a picture of my beloved sign that had truly been a labor of love from my dad and it meant so much to me. My car just wasn’t the same without it.

My fiancé was acting suspicious about a week ago and kept making me go check my mailbox. He was insistent that I not throw away ANYTHING even if it looked like junk mail. I wondered what on earth he was up to! Well the answer soon came…

He had found a site and sticker company that made specially designed images. He wanted to surprise me so he sent them a picture of the “Jinah” sign my dad had put on my car and made it into a sticker for my vehicle! I could not believe his thoughtfulness and I almost started to cry. I now have a perfect replica of the sign my dad had put on my car more than a decade ago!

My car may not have the dent in the back anymore but it’s still beautifully “flawed” with a crooked sticker that means more to me than most people would ever know.

 

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Empowering Future Leaders to Bloom

I can remember being a little girl and visiting my Dad at his work—he was a Director for the Guiding Light, a soap opera that was very popular at the time.  He showed me the control room, where he told people what camera to go for for the reaction shots, calling for each camera to create the story we all saw on TV and had me go out on the set where I could see myself in the monitor.

I ran off the set—I was shy and although I secretly wanted to be on camera, I was afraid to be there!  After being in corporate sales for many years, I decided to head back to my original dream of becoming an actress which led me to the career I’m in today!  Although my father didn’t necessarily nurture a career on TV (my parents divorced when I was 7), it did spark an interest in my own mind.

I decided to do the same for a non-profit group of young girls called “Diverse Daisies.” This is a group to bloom nurturing young girls of all ethnicities to learn new skills and engage in new opportunities, designed to motivate, empower and inspire the lives of young women!

The Daisies were so excited to visit Evine and experience behind-the-scenes of our home shopping world!  I gave the girls a tour of our control room where there area many monitors to view different shots on the set, showed them where the product is set up for us to review,
toured the studios, the host room where all of the hosts prepare and they loved seeing the “pink” room (although it’s not pink), where all of the hosts get their hair done before our shows!

The girls were screaming with excitement when I took them to our fashion studio with a runway!  They ran out on the set and wanted to reenact a show, so I picked 2 girls to be a host and a guest and 3 girls to be models with 2 others behind the camera, learning how to operate a jib (moving camera) during fashion shows.

I taught the 2 ‘hosts’ the basics of selling a new Holly Robinson-Peete cardigan and showed the 3 ‘models’ how to walk the runway and model the clothes with attitude and style, and the other girls learned how to move the camera around the set to follow the models.   They had a BALL! The girls were strutting their stuff and were all so proud of themselves afterwards.  Each girl had an opportunity to present and they didn’t want to leave.

A few of the girls were VERY good at speaking and presenting so who knows, we might see them on air in the future!

At the end of our tour, the girls gave me a bouquet of flowers and thank you notes and lots of hugs.

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Unanswered Prayers

Img70317For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom.  I dreamed of a little tribe of mini-me’s and all of the wonderful adventures we would have.  Holidays would be the best kind of chaos, family trips would create memories for a lifetime and our house would never have a dull moment.  So, when my husband and I found out I was pregnant after one short year of marriage (SURPRISE!!), I was thrilled that my dreams were coming true.  After a very healthy pregnancy and delivery, we were parents to the most beautiful little boy in the world!  William had arrived and just like that, we were a family of three!!

Chaos definitely ensued, parenthood was more than we imagined it to be and we were totally ready to keep growing our little family.  After a few years, with total confidence, we started planning for our next baby.  We carefully chose when we’d start trying and based on round one, we were sure it’d be just as easy.   I remember thinking, “this family planning stuff is a breeze!”

Well, round two did not go as planned.  In fact, after a year of doctor visits, we were shocked to learn, baby number two wasn’t actually going to happen.  Confirmed by every doctor and specialist in the state, I was not going to have another baby.  To say I was devastated is an enormous understatement. You know that type of sadness that literally hurts your heart and paralyzes you with depression?  That was me.  I was wrecked and deeply mourning the family I never had.  But lets not get into that.  That’s not what this blog is about.

So, after some time, my depression turned into anger.  Then, thankfully, my anger turned into motivation and that’s when I decided to get to work.  We actively researched and prayed about growing our family.  We explored our options, weighed the pros and cons, etc.  We were not going to give up on baby number 2.  So….we decided to adopt!!!   It was a whole new approach, but we were sure it was the right one!

After months and months of planning, meetings with lawyers, approvals, training, etc.,  it finally happened! Someone had picked us!!! I remember getting a note from a young woman telling me she had just had a beautiful baby boy and found our family profile on an adoption website.  She asked if we were interested in meeting and of course we cleared our calendar for whatever worked best for her.   She was kind, well-spoken, funny and full of love.  She had been through so much and still, was only worried about what was best for her baby.  I was so impressed with her selfless approach.  After a long conversation, I remember her letting me hold her baby for the first time and I immediately fell in love.  Like the first time I held William, it was a true, honest, unconditional love that happens so rarely in life. After spending quite some time together, James’ biological mom made what I can only imagine would be the most difficult decision of her life.  She asked us to be his forever family!
2013 holiday card james perf smile And just like that, there he was.  Baby number two.  He was more than we could have hoped for and the perfect person to complete our family.  James had finally arrived and we were a grateful, humbled, complete family of four.

There is SO much more to this story, but you get the point.  I purposefully kept many details out because, quite frankly, much of the story is just too sad.  And also, I want to protect our family’s privacy and the privacy of James’ biological family (who, by the way, are truly amazing.  We love them dearly and still have a wonderful relationship).  However, the reason I decided to share just enough of our story was because I know everyone has their own version of this story.  We all have that moment in life when our dreams are shattered or when depression gets the best of you.  Nobody is immune to heartache. So, I told my story to offer some hope, to whatever gets you down.  Because my darkest moments brought more love and joy than I could have ever dreamed of.  The adoption process reminded me to expect the best from others, not the worst.  James’ biological family proved that there are indeed incredible, selfless, loving people in this world.  And when I was on my knees begging God for a baby, convinced he was ignoring me, little did I know, sweet baby James was already in the works.  I am so thankful that my prayers to get pregnant and have another baby were never answered.  Had they been, our family would be missing a vital link.  James isn’t just another person, he’s the perfect person to complete our family.   It really is true
….some of God’s GREATEST gifts are unanswered prayers.

Family

With hope, gratitude and love,

Erin

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She Said Yes!

Engaged1I cannot believe our little girl is getting married! When I look at her I still see my chubby cheeked little baby that was always smiling.

Engaged2Her fiancé, Tristan, was her high school sweetheart and is everything we could have hoped for in a life partner for our daughter. They met at summer camp when Bailee was trying to set him up with her friend. The more she raved to her friend about how great he was, the more she began to ask herself  “Wait, why am I not dating this guy?”

It’s hard to believe they just celebrated their 7 year anniversary!

We have watched Bailee and Tristan grow up together. After graduating from the same high school and going off to different colleges they eventually reunited to graduate from the same college. They have each started successful careers and have supported each other every step of the way.

Engaged3The big engagement was so much fun! It was full of family and friends, and a moment we will never forget. Thank you Tristan for allowing all of us to be a part of your special moment.

Bailee and Tristan want to share the planning of their big day with all of you and ask for your advice along the way. You can follow my Facebook page for details and to weigh in on some of their wedding planning.  Here are a few of the selections they have made so far:

Engaged4First, who wants to see the ring? Tristan designed this lovely piece with the one and only Sonia Bitton. Tristan worked for months on the design and Sonia added her special touches to make it the ring of Bailee’s dreams. Notice the six pink diamonds on the bezel set to represent the six years they spent together before getting engaged, how sweet is that?

Here is a photo of the lovely industrial style venue of the big day! Its creative, unique and fun, just like the happy couple.

Engaged5

The dress…NO WAY! Bailee won’t allow any sneak peeks at her dress for the big day, but she did suggest we ask all of you to weigh in on helping to pick my dress. The color will be a dark berry shade.

Engaged6

Do you like option A or B? Leave your comment below and remember to follow my Facebook page for more fun wedding updates and to help them plan their big day!

 

 

Congrats Bailee and Tristan. We are so excited for the wedding!

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Wrapped Up in Love

When it comes to wrapping presents, there are two types of people in this world: Those who LOVE to gift wrap, and those who HATE it.   I’m in the LOVE it category. I rarely use gift bags, and shopping for ribbon and paper is as much fun to me as shopping for shoes and bags.  I adore the prepping, the doing and the giving of beautifully wrapped gifts.

When I was in my twenties and pursuing a career as an actress I would take on side jobs to help pay the bills.  Well, you can imagine how over the moon I was when I found a part-time job wrapping gifts at Dayton’s Department store in downtown Minneapolis.

I remember going in for the interview, the interviewee ask me a few obligatory questions, then walked me to the wrapping counter where all the wrapping supplies were, she handed me a gift box and said “wrap this”.  I said, “Game on!” I love to wrap and I had been doing it for years, so I felt confident in my abilities.  She walked away, came back in a couple of minutes, right when I was finishing up.  She picked up the wrapped gift, examined every angle, she looked unimpressed and said “It’s ok, we can work with this, if you want the job, you’ve got it.”  I started my new job wrapping gifts 2 days later, got a lot better with her help and experience.

I worked 4, 6 or 8 hours shift (depending on my availability and seasonal demands) 2 to 3 days a week for several years, and I had the dry hands and paper cuts to prove it.  All these years later I still love to wrap presents.  I thought it would be fun to share a video with a few tips and tricks I learned from that job.  These tips will make wrapping fun, easy and impressive at the same time.

Tools You’ll Need

Sharp scissors, clear gift wrap tape, tape measure, sturdy box,  ribbon ( 1.5 inch wide wired ribbon is my favorite), stapler with staples loaded, and gift wrap (I like a thick premium wrap, but any will do), find a clean table top, counter or kitchen island.

Sit back, relax & wrap!

Once your you’ve got the tools and space you need, put on some holiday music, pour your favorite beverage and get in the holiday spirit.

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You’ve Got Mail

When I first began my work as a host I was just out of the boardroom and filled to the brim with nerves. I was working late hours—or early hours, depending on how you look at it—and cutting my teeth in the new, glossy world of television. I remember my boss coming into a meeting we were having and starting to talk about getting email from customers.

Well, I actually got nervous.  I had just started in the television business, fell into the job (a story for another time) and I was in training to become a host.

allison3

Then it happened.  The first email, one I will always remember.

My daughter was home with a cold, and I was uneasy leaving her for work. I spilled coffee across my newly washed blazer and found myself frantically rummaging through the modeling wardrobe at the network. I prepared to present a digital camera, but when the camera rolled, it immediately malfunctioned. Needless to say, I really struggled that night to get anything out quite right My day was out of focus, and by the time my show ended, I thought I might cry.

The next night when I arrived at work and combed through new messages I spotted an email from a viewer:

“Allison, I was watching you last night on air and decided to reach out to you. You were offering a camera and talking about the last vacation you had with your mom and daughter.  How you wished you had a camera to capture all the memories.  I wanted to send you and email to tell you that you are such a joy to watch.  You are always real, honest and really funny.  But it means more to me than ever because I lost my daughter last year and haven’t been able to smile much lately, but you remind me of her and last night I was smiling.  Thank you so much for being with me every night and making me smile again.”

allisonThis message will forever be one of my most cherished notes from a viewer. Since I started my work in television, viewers continue to reach out and share their own stories, comments about a show, or a simple note to say “hello!” Today we have new vehicles for  communicating —Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. With these changes, I get to connect with more viewers and they have graciously allowed me to be a part of their homes and families.  It feels like the world is moving so fast some days and you begin to realize it is all a result of kindness.  One person, one note, one moment, and now through the keystroke on a keyboard, we are all connected.

When you have a bad day, I hope you’ll find me on-air telling a story, sharing something new, and sending some happiness your way. You’ve given me so much support and encouraged me, even on my worst days. I hope I can continue to be there for you too.allison2

 

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Me? Married?

It took me 36 years to find the right guy and I still have to pinch myself when I think about the fact that I am actually engaged to be married! Bouncing from state to state, I was always so focused on my career that love was not really something I even thought much about. Sure, I dated here and there and have enough horror stories to fill a novella three times over, but as far as an actual real relationship that just was not in the cards.

When I moved to Alabama I started thinking again about possibly trying to meet someone. I had great friends and a great job, but something was obviously missing in my life. I had just gotten out of a rocky relationship and was not sure I wanted anything too serious to happen (Plot twist-that is always when it DOES seem to happen)

So I did what any other 30 something woman in a small town would do, I went online.

Next came the prospects of various men. Some were too old, some were too young, some lived as far away as India and others were just plain too weird.

I was trying to narrow my search to Atlanta which was just about four hours away from me. I figured that would be the easiest way to meet someone without it being terribly far away.

Sohail messaged me one day, and quite honestly, I didn’t think too much about it. I accepted his request and moved on with my life. True he checked the box as far as living in Atlanta but there were many guys who were messaging me from there and at the time he just seemed to be another one!

But there was something different from the get go. One night after going out with my friends I happened to log on to the dating site and there he was online! He asked if we could Skype and we did. I thought he was cute and funny.  We had a great, relaxed conversation and I ended up giving him my phone number. He started texting me after that and I looked forward to hearing from him daily.

This was one of our fist official dates!
This was one of our fist official dates!

We finally arranged to meet and I didn’t think too much of it. I wasn’t nervous in the slightest and I was in the process of moving to a new place so I had a ton going on! Boxes were everywhere and I was scrambling to get everything done in one weekend. I guess that is what happens, right? When you are busy with your life is when life happens to you!

Sohail showed up with flowers and a present. He had driven the four hours from Atlanta and dressed to impress. In the meantime I had thrown on some lipstick and threw on the only clothes I could find that were not in a box. What I noticed before anything was how easy he was to talk to. He had me laughing the entire time. We had a few glasses of wine and got to know each other. He was a Software Developer and seemed like he had a lot of his life together (ladies we all have dated those guys who don’t!).

I could have sat there for hours talking to him but I had moving to do. The poor guy drove back to Atlanta another four hours at the end of our date. From then on we set another meeting and another. He always showed up with flowers and a present and it was always him coming to meet me. I appreciated that he was such a gentleman and I started to learn more about his caring nature. He had that old fashioned way about him where he always opened doors and texted me to make sure I was home safe.

Soon I knew I didn’t want to be dating anyone else. I took my profile down and focused on him. We had the BEST time together. After a few months I decided it was my turn to drive to Atlanta to see his life and he planned the most amazing weekend for us with a stay at a beautiful hotel in Downtown. We started taking weekend getaways together and life was amazing! I felt safe with him and I was falling for him hard.

We had been together only a few months when I was offered the job at Evine. My how crazy life can be?! There I was with a man I could see myself with forever and here was this job I had dreamed about for years. What would I do? I thought long and hard about the decision and knew that I had to move forward with my life. If me and Sohail were going to work then we would find a way to be together. When I finally told him I was moving I braced myself for his reaction. He was silent for several minutes before he said very matter of fact, “Well, we will have to work this out won’t we? Because I can’t be without you.”

Just what I needed to hear.

After I moved I worried so much about our connection staying strong and it has beyond my wildest expectations. He came to see me in Minnesota several times and eventually even met my family!

He asked me to marry him!
He asked me to marry him!

We decided to take a magical cruise vacation together and to my complete and utter shock he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!

I will never forget the date: May 21st!

Now we are planning a wedding and Sohail is moving to Minnesota next summer. I never would have thought my life could have gone in this direction. I truly thought for many years that I would never find someone to spend my life with, but life always seems to surprise us, doesn’t it!

Life may not happen how you thought it would but it always seems to happen just how it should.

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My Favorite Childhood Toys

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s was vastly different than the experience of kids today.  No internet, bluetooth, cell phones, apps, or PlayStation.   In fact, it was’t until 1982 that the Commodore 64 computer came onto the scene.  Yet, like in every era, the toys of my childhood were accurate indicators as to how our young minds were focused by the times, our parents, and toy makers.
camaroMimicking our parents was a big theme because we just wanted to be like our parents. For my brothers and me, it was tooling around our patio in metal cars and fire engines like these in the pictures.  For other kids in the neighborhood, it was making cakes in the infamous Easy Bake Oven.

rock-em-sock-em
Plastics played a huge roll in toy making as many new types were in their advent.  From softer plastics used for the somewhat flexible Barrel Of Monkeys pick-up game to the heavily molded and mechanical Rock Em Sock Em Robots, designed to help kids take out their aggression in a game versus on each other.

mr-peanutMake and Do was one of my favorite genres as I like making things and using creativity to make one-of-a-kinds.  From snow cones portioned for Lilliputians, to peanuts we pulverized into butter with little help from Mr. Peanut (that was soooo hard to turn.  No wonder the crank handled busted) to the wildly fun Creepy Crawlers and shrunken heads we baked in our basement using the Mattel “Mystery” Goop.  Oh, and were those bottles ever really tested for toxicity? This was during the time when asbestos was in it’s heyday.  At the same time, how lucky was I that my dad was able to formulate endless supplies of  the Goop at work in the chemistry lab and bring home lots of colors for FREE!

 

creepy-crawlers

 

Building things was another favorite.  Like the Lincoln Log sets made out of real wood.  Or learning about leverage and a tension fit from the
Don’t Break The Ice Game.  But there was a limit to the amount of dont-break-the-iceattention I was willing to give things even back then. For example: Model Cars.  I loved them, and bought many of them.  But I never put more than 1/3 of a car together before I threw it all back in the box and put it back on the shelf.  The all-too-many extra pieces made no difference to me.  I just wanted to get to the good part of painting and detailing. Ever hear of the Real Wankel Model Engine? We never opened it.  Nope.  It would take a patient saint to read all those instructions and a special kind of kid that would even care to build an engine.  I’m sure the real value of that unopened gift will come to surface the day I put it in New, Unopened Condition on Ebay!!  monopolyMonopoly was fun but only for a while.  I don’t know any 10-year old with the patience for either.  By the time you started making some money, it was time for dinner.  Oh and battleship.  Talk about a game designed for twin boys living on a farm 250 miles from other children.  Boring!

 

pinball

Lastly, there was the big casino table top pinball machine our Grandpa Jim bought us one year at Christmas.  We just couldn’t believe it.  So cool. And so electrified with no less than a dozen D-size batteries.  Wish we would have taken care of that.  It would be worth a fortune today.

 

My two brothers and I were lucky kids.  We didn’t get a lots of toys, but we did get even the slightest of skills from the ones we played.   My mom, to this day, covets and keeps all the vintage toys under lock and key, as they are a source of fond memories she has of us when we were young.  I think she still doesn’t fully trust us with them.  “Our Lincoln Logs are the real ones made of wood”, she likes to remind us.

lincoln-logsWhat was your favorite toy?  Leave a picture of it below if you still have it.  Or grab one from Google images and post it with a memory.  Everyone can relate.  I hope you can remind me and others of toys we might have forgotten.

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