Tag Archives: memories

Set This Circus Down

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It’s hard to know where to start when trying to sum up 10 years of marriage, not to mention the six years of togetherness prior to marriage. Husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage a week and a half ago, and our wedding day seems like yesterday.

May 16, 2003. Bliss.

May 16, 2003. Bliss.

Until I actually flipped through all of our photo albums since we were married … and then it seemed like a lifetime ago.

Ten years. Our wedding day, up to that point, was the happiest day of our lives.

Everyone who came talked about what a fun party it was, and at the gift opening the next day, Husband and I promised that we would renew our vows and have a big anniversary party for our 10th anniversary.

And then our reality happened.

So much for a special "family" celebration on our 10-year anniversary - crabby, hungry kids and screaming baby.

So much for a special “family” celebration on our 10-year anniversary – crabby, hungry kids and screaming baby.

So I guess our vow renewal and super awesome anniversary party will have to wait a few more years.

For our one-year anniversary, the traditional gift is paper, and I had the brilliant idea that Husband and I should forego an actual gift in favor of each writing down our memories of our wedding day (on paper — get it?). So naturally, I wrote down TWENTY-FIVE PAGES of memories — bulleted, single-spaced, 12-point font. And I wrote down my memories not just from the wedding day, but the five days before it and one day after it. Husband wrote down 11 pages worth of memories, double-spaced, 18-point font. I’d say that’s quite an achievement for a guy who doesn’t like to write!

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Reading memories of our wedding day on our first anniversary.

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Going back to the church we were married at on our first anniversary.

First anniversary dinner.

First anniversary dinner. We look like little kids!

A couple of highlights:

  • When I woke up in the morning I said to my cousin (who’s like my sister), “I don’t want the day to start because I know it’s going to be over before I know it.”
  • Making the very short drive to church from my parents’ house felt like forever. There was such anticipation. When we were driving up the big hill into the parking lot and I saw all the cars, I got nervous for the first time and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! People actually came!” I don’t know why, but I genuinely was surprised that there were people there. It finally started to feel real, and not just like a dress-up game.
  • My mom saying, “Well, Jen, I have to tell you — I take back that you’re going to be late for your own wedding, because you’re early!”
  • When we said our vows. We both had memorized them and we were both so confident. I thought I would cry, but I was just so happy.
  • The same cousin (whom I dubbed the “Cousin of Honor” for the wedding) was dying of starvation by the time we made it to dinner. During the entire meal she made food noises, and said things like “Oh, this is so good. Oh yum. Yum, yum, yum. This is sooooo good.” (this still cracks me up)
  • All day long I said to my BRAND NEW HUSBAND, “We have so much to look forward to.” And I wasn’t just excited about continuing our wedding experience by going on a fabulous honeymoon/vacation. I was talking about all the years we would spend together, having kids, watching them grow up, going on adventures, living our lives together forever.
  • My BFF and maid of honor ended her speech by saying, “May your dreams of today be your realities of tomorrow.” This has always stuck with me (and as far as google can tell me, she made that up all on her own).
My grandma made this cake with her own two hands. It's so lovely. I still love this cake.

My grandma made this cake with her own two hands. It’s so lovely. I still love this cake.

What we felt that day is almost indescribable. We felt SO INCREDIBLY LOVED. It was like nothing we had ever experienced before. Every single person who was there, was there for us. We both felt completely honored that people would come and be there just for us.

We had people warn us about how expensive weddings are and how afterward we would wish that we hadn’t “wasted” all that money on a wedding, and instead used it for a down payment on a house. They told us that we would wish we had eloped.

For us at least? Never, ever, ever, ever in a million billion years. We wouldn’t have given up that wedding day or how we felt on that day, for anything in the world. It was exactly what we wanted, and the feeling was more than we could have imagined.

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Husband and I got engaged in August 2001, and a few months before that, Tim McGraw released his album, “Set This Circus Down.”

Tim and his wife Faith Hill (I like to think we’re personal friends) have always been two of our favorite artists. For our wedding slideshow, I chose Faith’s song “She’s a Wild One” (one of my faves) to go along with the photos of me, and Husband chose “Indian Outlaw” for the photos of him. For the photos of us together, we chose “Set This Circus Down.”

The song has such a literal and figurative meaning for us:

Sometimes this road it just keeps winding, round and round and back again
But you’ve always kept me smiling
Over every hill round every bend

Baby you’re the one smilin’ with me
When the sun comes up
I got the wheel,
You got the map and that’s enough

Chorus:
And we go rollin’ down this highway
Chasin’ all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

Sometimes I lie awake just thinking
Of all the horizons we have seen
And as another day is sinking
I thank God you’re here with me

‘Cause baby you’re the one laughing with me
When the sun goes down
Livin’ on faith and holding on tight
To the love we’ve found

And we go rollin’ down this highway
Chasin’ all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

And set this circus down
Baby, one of these days
Gonna set this circus down
Set this circus down
Baby, one of these days

Two days after we got engaged, Husband and I embarked on this crazy adventure where he literally had the wheel and I had the map. We packed up a tiny U-Haul truck with all our crap and moved to North Carolina for me. He left a secure job, a home and all of his family and friends, for me and my dream.

EXHAUSTED after driving across the country for about 16 hours straight.

EXHAUSTED after driving across the country for about 16 hours straight.

Looking back, I’m not surprised he did it. But I am surprised at how easily he made that decision. It really wasn’t a decision — we were young, we were in love, the world was our oyster and we had no real responsibilities at that time that were holding us to Wisconsin. He came with me and chased my crazy dream, and we always knew that we would come back home eventually to be with our family and friends.

When “eventually” turned out to be six months later, because we (mostly me) was so homesick and my dream job was not all that it was cracked up to be, we packed up and came home — despite the fact that he had just gotten a new job in North Carolina.

On our wedding day, when I kept telling him over and over again, “We have so much to look forward to,” I didn’t really have any specific ideas of what that would look like — what our home would look like, what our kids would look like, or how many of them we would have. I don’t know that I could have imagined anything anyway.

Marriage has been both infinitely better than I thought it would be, and also infinitely harder than I ever imagined. Before you get married you think you know that you’ll have your ups and downs; that you’ll have battles; that you might go through a rough patch or have a crisis or two. But here’s the thing — you don’t really know. You’ve heard all those cliché pieces of marriage advice like compromising and fighting fair and trying not to go to bed angry and yada, yada yada. You don’t really know. You think you know what it means to make a lifelong commitment to someone in good times and in bad. But you just don’t really know until you’re in the trenches, making that decision to be in it, in good times and in bad, every day.

But, like I said, marriage also has been infinitely better than what I imagined, because we have built a life together. I have a partner — in life and in everything — and he is a kind, warm, generous, strong, gentle, funny and selfless man. And despite how very hard it is on some days, we have love, respect, faith, laughter, and this:

What 10 years will bring you. This is our circus.

What 10 years will bring you. This is our circus.

We set our circus down, literally in a sleepy little town just liked I’d always hoped, and my dreams of yesterday have most definitely surpassed my realities of today. I couldn’t have dreamt this. I feel so lucky and so blessed. And while I can’t even fully dream tomorrow, I feel certain that my reality will surpass my dreams.

Husband, like I’ve told you countless times before, as we travel this crazy journey, there’s no one I’d rather be traveling with than you. Thank you for our circus, and thank you for being my partner. I thank God you’re here with me.

10 years later, at the church where we got married.

10 years later, at the church where we got married.

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10-year anniversary dinner.

10-year anniversary dinner.

I See You

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I’ve realized in the last few weeks that I’m experiencing a transformation. Before my mom identity was one of “mom to toddler,” and now it’s being transformed to a mom of a preschooler. I’m responsible for new things now. Like getting my child to and from school on time, checking her backpack, reading school papers, signing permission slips, sending in field trip money, remembering a show and tell item, and helping with craft projects.

Last week I didn’t remember the show and tell until we were almost walking out the door and then in panic called Husband and said, “Quick! What can Monkey bring that starts with the letter “L??” My mind had gone completely blank. Wanna know what we decided? A lunchbox. How lame. But she didn’t seem to mind. It was only after I left that Husband called back to say that we could have grabbed her lovey or her mama lion that she sleeps with every night. Whoops!

There are just so many new things to think about and remember. Like I need to remember to replace the pair of socks that stays in her backpack because she wore them for gym class last week and now they need to be washed.

And I don’t think the transformation is unique to me. I think Monkey is undergoing one too. It might be partially her age (3.5), but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re suddenly experiencing a lot more defiance, hyper behavior, and MAJOR attitude. She’s been shouting a lot and purposely throwing extended temper tantrums about the most mundane things (it’s so painfully obvious that she’s not that upset about something, but that she’s going to make herself continue to fake cry, shriek and moan if it kills her).

Yet at school her teacher gives me glowing reviews. She says that Monkey is really “with it,” she does a great job helping and she was even picked to be the line leader. 😉 And she loves it! Loves all of it! After her first day she said she wanted to go to school every day.

I think she’s trying to grapple with her newfound responsibilities too. She’s learning how to conduct herself in a social setting. She’s learning to do things that she’s never had to do before; rules that she’s never had to follow. And it’s hard.

I think that’s why she’s getting home and losing her sh*t. She just can’t hold it all together for that long!

Even though Monkey has always been high energy, for a fleeting moment I was afraid that all of her super hyper activity was a sign that she was ADHD. But I don’t think that’s really it. I think she’s just learning how to navigate this next phase in her life, and sometimes that manifests itself in some super psycho behavior. There’s nothing that makes you feel like a terrible parent more than a child who suddenly acts like a first-rate brat.

It seems to be getting easier. Yesterday we played with her dolls on the floor and I marveled at her. I saw her. I saw what she was becoming. Thoughtful, studious, and gaining a better grasp on her world and how it works, day by day. Self-assured, opinionated and independent.

I wanted to be playful and she was serious. I wanted to goof around and she chastised me. I put a fake grass skirt on my head and pretended it was a wig. She asked me to take it off. I wanted to drive the car through the house. She told me that we can’t drive cars through houses. I had to play the way she wanted to play. I had to follow her rules.

“Mama, please don’t do that now.”

“Mama, don’t lay down and play. Sit up.”

“Mama, they’re not going to eat lunch now, they’re going to take a nap.”

I see you.

I see what you’re becoming. I like it.

I see what I’m becoming. And I like it too.

We’ll try to weather the next phase as gracefully as we can.




And So It Begins

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We survived the drive to and from Michigan! Although, if you recall, we were planning to leave around 3 a.m. to reduce the amount of “awake” driving time. Er, except it didn’t work out that way. At all. They didn’t sleep. Nope. Just Chatty Cathy back there and her Alert Sister. We hadn’t even considered the possibility that they wouldn’t fall back to sleep. It hadn’t even entered our minds. My chief concern was how late they would sleep given that the sun rises at 6 a.m., not that they wouldn’t sleep at all. Bean fell asleep for exactly 50 minutes, after 6.5 hours of driving, and Monkey fell asleep for 40 minutes, after driving for 7.5 hours. Oh, and P.S. They didn’t really sleep on the way home either (see below).

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The wedding itself was lovely. Monkey was a fabuloso flower girl. She didn’t get scared or freaked out at all. I’m so glad that she got to have that experience and I hope she remembers it even when she’s older. I have to admit though, it was difficult trying to juggle the two of them between nail and hair appointments (me), golf (Eric), the ceremony (with all of us standing up except Bean who clawed her way out of my mom’s arms and made a beeline for Husband), and the dinner. By the time we got to dinner Bean was D-O-N-E and her non-stop shrieking, screaming and crying during the best man and maid of honor toasts made that abundantly clear to the entire room.

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I guess the only real driving hiccup we had was when we were only 25 minutes from home. Bean had fallen asleep after we left Green Bay where we stopped for dinner, but then she woke up when we had to make a pit stop in Oshkosh for Monkey to pee. Bean wasn’t happy about waking up, and continued to be unhappy and inconsolable. You could say that she was MORE THAN BEYOND D-O-N-E and we had to stop in Fond du Lac and take her out of the car because she was crying so hard that she made herself throw up. When we pulled into the gas station in Fond du Lac we happened to park next to a mom nursing her baby in the backseat of her car. You could say that she was empathizing with us as Husband started ripping things out of the back of the van so that he could put one of the seats up and entertain Bean for the remainder of the drive.

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When we returned from our trip to Michigan the roof hadn’t been touched since we left and the concrete patio also was not completed. Too-hot weather while we were gone meant that the concrete would set up too fast, and then rain interfered the following week and the pour had to be postponed. Other work obligations prevented our professional roofer from doing anything with our roof while we were gone, and after we got back. It took another whole week and a lot of tense moments before the projects were completed. Finally, three weeks after we started, everything was done.

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So, if you recall, I said that Bean being in her Terrible Twos wasn’t that bad because I had experienced it before. Pfffffffffft. I was either on a trip-packing high, or just plain high. On a good day I say she’s “independent,” “determined,” “focused.” On a bad day I say she’s a PITA who’s stubborn, won’t listen, and throws a kicking, screaming fit when I try to help her with things. She would rather throw herself in a corner and refuse to look at me than let me help her with that disaster-waiting-to-happen Gogurt. Baaaah.

Honestly, I thought Monkey was going to be my difficult child, because she exhibits/exhibited all the same traits, but Bean takes it to the next level. She kicks, throws her arms, throws herself down, hides her face, and flat-out ignores us. Her favorite game is when we say “STOP” and she just laughs and runs faster — around the house, into the road, and circling parked cars at the State Fair parking lot.

Her favorite word is “MINE” which she shouts while standing in the middle of the room clutching something that no one else is even trying to get. Which leads to her volume. Good God, is she loud. I think she is quite literally THE LOUDEST child I’ve ever encountered. She’s loud even in situations where it’s not warranted — like, when we’re sitting right next to her and totally paying attention to her. And she cannot be persuaded to be quieter. In fact, I think asking her to be quiet only invigorates her loudness.

Oh, and I can’t forget the throwing. When she’s mad? She throws stuff. Or knocks it over. Or both.

The cherry on top? She’s a hitter. We have no idea where she gets this from because we don’t hit and Monkey never hit.

Bean, this is Mr. Timeout. Mr. Timeout, meet Bean.

When describing this egregious behavior to the girls’ beloved pediatrician, she gave me a little wink and said “It’s good that you’re going through this so the next time you see a child hitting you don’t smugly think, ‘Look at those terrible parents.’”

And that is exactly what I’d like to say to the friends we ran into at the ball park after Bean very purposefully poured her open cup of water down my chest and then proceeded to hit me. DON’T JUDGE ME.

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Oh, and the pediatrician said that we can expect biting next.

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So one of Monkey’s latest things is to tell poop jokes. Basically the “joke” is a bunch of nonsensical words all jumbled together along with the word “poop,” followed by her laughing hysterically at herself. I don’t really know where she gets this from (although she has been spending a lot of time with her older cousins lately). Then today she wanted me to sing a silly song using the words “private area.” I’m sure this is going to go over GREAT when she starts pre-school in three weeks.

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Comfortable Love

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One day when Husband and I were in Punta Cana on our vacation, we happened upon a wedding on the resort.

I love weddings. I’m usually a hot mess of tears from the moment the bride walks down the aisle, even if it’s the second cousin of my husband’s boss’s friend, or a wedding on TV, or the wedding of two complete strangers that I just happened to catch as I was walking by. (Basically I’m a hot mess of tears anytime anything remotely emotional comes on TV, yes even commercials, which is why I don’t allow myself to watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition.)

I love how being at a wedding makes you nostalgic for your own wedding day — makes you remember what it was like to be that blushing bride gazing into the face of your nervous groom, with all of the newness, hope and anticipation laid out in front of you. For me, seeing those emotions on the faces of two other people is a reminder about why I got married in the first place.

I am especially eager to listen to the officiant’s message at a wedding. It’s always something about partnership and love, and usually I can find a piece of advice to apply to my own married life.

I think the officiant at the Punta Cana wedding said what I think is possibly the sagest advice I’ve ever heard regarding marriage.

He said getting married is like saying to the other person, “Thank you for sharing a life with me.”

Wow.

Yes. That is exactly what it is.

Because marriage is not always fun, it’s not always never the overly romanticized thing we see on TV, and often, it’s really, really hard. But, it’s a choice that you and your spouse made to share a life with each other, and everything that life entails. Everything.

And that is simultaneously what’s also so wonderful about marriage.

In the brightest moments and the darkest hours, I can look to my husband and thank him for sharing this life with me. I can laugh with him, cry with him, lean on him for support, worry out loud, be totally neurotic, be absolutely silly and always be myself.

I don’t think anyone ever prepares you for how challenging marriage can be at times. I mean, people say it’s hard, but you don’t really get it. You don’t really understand until you’re arguing about who’s family’s house you’re going to for Christmas, or which one of you is going to get up with the screaming baby for the fifth time, or who has more responsibilities around the house and why. (It’s kind of like motherhood — people can tell you that you need to feed the baby every two hours, but until you’re actually doing it, it just doesn’t click.)

So yeah. Hard work.

But the best things in life aren’t free. And isn’t marriage one of best gifts you could ever receive? Someone picked you. And in addition to arguing over where you’re going to spend the holidays and who has to trim the bushes, you also have the privilege of building a home together, watching your daughters take their first steps, and sharing inside jokes.

Husband and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary a couple days ago, and it’s been almost 14 years that we’ve been together. We’ve basically become adults together. We’ve gone from courting each other, to puppy love, to newly-wedded bliss, to a comfortable sort of love that’s shown by saving the other person a piece of cake or not leaving the dish rag wadded up in a ball. I love how author and blogger Chandra Hoffman wrote about what love means in her marriage. She said:

“When he buys and carries five eighty pound bags of water-softener salt down to the basement every six weeks, that is love. Also, hand-weeding in between the pavers of our driveway. Turning my kitchen compost pile. Building a 60×8 foot trellis for the lima beans to climb.

That is all so, so true. It’s the gestures that aren’t necessarily big and grand, and the acceptance of each other as we are. That’s love in a marriage.

So, thank you Husband for sharing a life with me. You make me feel unconditionally loved, and there’s no one I’d rather be traveling with on this journey than you.

May 16, 2003

Letter to My Three-Year-Old

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When I looked at you in the rearview mirror this morning on the way to your Nana’s house, you somehow looked older. Your hair was all curled up thanks to the layered haircut you got last week, and your bangs were swept to the right side and held by a magenta flower hair clip. You were looking out the window and I felt like I noticed a difference from yesterday when you were two, to today when you’re officially three years old.

I glanced at your sister on the other side of the car, who was looking out the opposite window, and felt like you just looked like that — it seems like yesterday when you were 14 months old.

Monkey, 14 months

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THREE YEARS. It’s been three years since my life changed in the most wonderful and miraculous of ways. It simultaneously feels like less and more time has passed.

Monday, April 21, 2008, 12:30 a.m.

You were born at 12:30 a.m. after an hour and a half of pushing. It took your daddy two tries to cut the umbilical cord and then they laid you on me, all bloody. It was what I wanted. I remember feeling absolutely amazed at what had transpired. I couldn’t stop saying to your daddy, “I can’t believe we made her.” It was truly the most remarkable and miraculous thing to happen in our lifetimes.

There really was no hope of sleeping after you were born. By the time we made it up to the recovery room, it was 2 a.m. The the nurse gave you your first bath and we didn’t try to go to sleep until around 3:30 a.m. Your daddy fell asleep immediately, but I couldn’t sleep. I just kept staring at you and touching you to make sure you were still breathing. I was on such an adrenaline high.

One-day-old Monkey

Monkey, you are such a joy. Your personality is SO BIG. You are exuberant. You are alternately sensitive, yet defiant. You want to be heard. Things always have to be done a certain way. You are stubborn. You are empathetic and concerned about the well-being of others. You are confident in your own opinions. You want to feel included at all times. You are caring and nurturing.

You get many of these traits from me. While it has been challenging for me at times to deal with my own personality, I think I’ve got it figured out, and I think it will serve you well, too.

You love Dora, chocolate, ice cream and anything sweet. You love to be outside. I think I could push you on the swings for three hours until my arm fell off and you still wouldn’t be tired of it. You want a dog. You want to help with everything, including making every meal. You ask to help wash the dishes every night and you want to help with the laundry and unloading the dishwasher. You take great pride in your accomplishments and you basically want to do everything by yourself. You love to bake with me. Your curiosity is unbridled. You have an amazing memory. You’re creative and want to draw, color, paint — and your latest — cut with a scissors. You still love to cuddle, and sometimes when we lay down with you at bedtime you ask to hold our hand. (I heart this).

You probably are one of the funniest people I know. Obviously, I’m biased, but you make me laugh out loud on a daily basis. When one of my aunts sees pictures of you, she says, “I can just see her thinking, ‘I’m so funny’ because you probably tell her that every day.” And I think I do tell you that almost every day.

You are learning how to identify and express your emotions, and you communicate in such a way that it makes me feel like you’re older than you are. You listen to everything we say and ask questions about difficult subjects that I’m not sure how to explain.

You continue to become your own person and I’m in awe of the process. I’m also a little nervous. Because from the moment you were born and every day since, you’ve taught me how to be a parent. You’ll always be my first born, my test case, the one I make the most of my mistakes on.

It was a slightly terrifying time to be a first-time mother, feeling overwhelmed and incapable, and in typical “you” fashion, you didn’t make it any easier on me. That’s okay though, because you force me to be my best. And I want to be my best for you. We’ll keep figuring it out together. So far, I think we’re doing a pretty good job.

I am so happy to be your mama.

She looks so big here that it kind of takes my breath away.

April 21, 2011 - Someone's sister wasn't interested in a birthday morning photo shoot.

Happy third birthday to my great big girl.

Maverick, Goose and Oscar

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It turns out 1986 was a big year for me, and I didn’t even know it. I was 7.

To the best of my recollection, it’s the year that I saw my first-ever movie in the theater.

TOP GUN

"I feel the need ... the need for speed."

I know. You’re probably wondering what in the hell my parents were doing bringing a seven-year-old to see Top Gun when Maverick and Charlie are gettin’ a little, you know. Mmm hmm. BUT, it turns out that it was only rated PG (And duh, it’s not like they showed anything — it was 1986 after all).

I guess my dad liked the movie so much that he and my mom saw it in the theater by themselves, deemed it was appropriate, and then brought me the second time (it’s still undetermined if they brought my three-year-old brother). Honestly, they probably just couldn’t find a babysitter.

My parents also watched the movie numerous times on VHS tape (remember those! weren’t they quaint?).

You guys have to realize something. My parents have been to a movie theater so infrequently over the course of my lifetime, that the last movie they saw in the theater might have been Top Gun. So for them to see the movie multiple times in the theater, followed by 12 viewings on VHS, they must have really, really liked it, right??

When I asked my dad what he liked about the movie so much, he said, “I guess I thought it was a good movie.”

Yes, I think that much is obvious.

Knowing my dad, I’m sure what he loved was the action sequences, the fighter jets, the fact that the job was so intense that pilots like Cougar freaked out and quit, the loyalty between Maverick and Goose, and obviously that they used the word “bogeys.” I mean, that’s just a funny word.

My dad is a huge war movie buff, and you could say he has a need … a need, for speed. So this whole movie is right up his wheelhouse.

Speaking of classic movie lines, Top Gun also has given us the, “It’s classified. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” line, and the, “Take me to bed or lose me forever,” line.

I think I’m going to try to use this line in my daily dialogue: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”

I think it really gets the point across, don’t you?

And the flybys on the tower bit? That was pretty funny shit.

Of course, there’s the bar scene where Charlie has lost that lovin’ feeling. I actually liked that song and that scene so much that I played the VHS tape and used my first-ever tape recorder to record the song off the TV onto cassette tape. And then I would practice singing that song over, and over, and over again.

Oh, and we mustn’t forget the beach volleyball scene. I’m come to appreciate it more as I’ve aged. And now that I’m aged, I’m 100% convinced this scene was included so that all the girlfriends and wives wouldn’t complain about being dragged along to a movie about fighter jets and MiGs.

Plus there’s Tom Skerritt, whom I absolutely adore, Goosey-goose Anthony Edwards, a very young Meg Ryan and Tom Cruise in his prime Tom Cruise years. When he’s the most Tom Cruisiest.

Mmmm

Dang, this WAS a good movie. I’m going to need to watch it again soon. Good thing I upgraded my own VHS copy to DVD a few years back.

So, what EXACTLY, is my point with all this nostalgic movie nonsense? Um, well, the 83rd Academy Awards happen to be Sunday night on ABC, starting at 7:30 p.m. CST (7:00 if you want to see some red carpet).

And I LOVE MOVIES.

Apparently it all started with Top Gun.

So, since I LOVE movies, I thought I would go ahead and make my 2011 Oscar predictions. Because I’m a dork like that. I’ll be hosting an Oscar viewing party for one, and heck, I may even use this printable ballot to see how I’m doing (cuz like I said, I’m a dork and I like to compete against myself).

For only the second year, the Academy is honoring 10 movies in the Best Picture category instead of the traditional 5. I think this was kind of a dumb move (can you say MONEY??), because really, Toy Story 3 was great and all, but nominating it for a Best Picture Oscar? Give me a break. But anyway, Husband and I managed to see 8 of the 10 Best Picture nominated movies (thank you Marcus Theaters $5 Spotlight movie club). And I have to say, this year’s nominated films, are IN-credible. Probably the best crop of movies in a looong time. Unlike so many other years when the films are stuffy and too art-housy (Gosford Park, anyone?), this year the films are relatable, contemporary, inspiring and gripping. They are flat out phenomenal. If there’s ever a year to see a nominated movie, this is it.

Incidentally, the only movies we didn’t see were 127 Hours, which I’d still like to see but isn’t in theaters anymore or On Demand yet, and Black Swan which I purposely didn’t want to see after hearing from friends that it’s a psychological minefield that haunts you for days afterward. Yuck. I don’t do well with those kinds of movies — I can’t sleep.

Now, on to my predictions! (my choices in bold — I stuck with the major categories)

Best Picture

  • “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
  • “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
  • “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
  • “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
  • “The King’s Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
  • “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
  • “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
  • “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
  • “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
  • “Winter’s Bone” Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

As much as I would LOVE to see The Fighter win Best Picture, I think it’s going to go to The King’s Speech. It would be so poetic too — to see a movie about an underdog boxer take on and win over the movie about the ruling King. Alas, I don’t think it will happen. The good news is that both The Fighter and The King’s Speech were just phenomenal movies — as was The Social Network, which is widely considered to be the top contender against The King’s Speech to take home the Oscar for Best Picture.

Directing

  • “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
  • “The Fighter” David O. Russell
  • “The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper
  • “The Social Network” David Fincher
  • “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
  • Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
  • Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
  • Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
  • James Franco in “127 Hours”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
  • Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
  • Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
  • John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
  • Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
  • Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
  • Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Animated Feature Film

  • “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
  • “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
  • “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
  • “The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
  • “Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
  • “True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • “Winter’s Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
  • “The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
    Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
  • “Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
  • “The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
  • “The King’s Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

Art Direction

  • “Alice in Wonderland”
    Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
    Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • “Inception”
    Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
  • “The King’s Speech”
    Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
  • “True Grit”
    Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

Cinematography

  • “Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
  • “Inception” Wally Pfister
  • “The King’s Speech” Danny Cohen
  • “The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “True Grit” Roger Deakins

Costume Design

  • “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
  • “I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
  • “The King’s Speech” Jenny Beavan
  • “The Tempest” Sandy Powell
  • “True Grit” Mary Zophres

Film Editing

  • “Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
  • “The Fighter” Pamela Martin
  • “The King’s Speech” Tariq Anwar
  • “127 Hours” Jon Harris
  • “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Music (Original Score)

  • “How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
  • “Inception” Hans Zimmer
  • “The King’s Speech” Alexandre Desplat
  • “127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
  • “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)

  • “Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
  • “I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
  • “If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
  • “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3″ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Sound Editing

  • “Inception” Richard King
  • “Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
  • “Tron: Legacy” Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
  • “True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
  • “Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing

  • “Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
  • “The King’s Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
  • “Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
  • “The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
  • “True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Happy viewing!

What was the first movie you remember seeing in the movie theater? What movie has had the greatest impact on you? Do you watch the Oscars? Who do you think will win?