Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nashville - Part 2

Let's talk for a few minutes about my love for Groupon. The building above is probably about the most beautiful hotel I have ever stepped into. In fact, I pause for a minute to think that 'hotel' might not be the right word. Yet, I don't seem to recall a more high-class word, so we'll go with that. It's the kind of place that has men dressed in tuxes to greet you at the front door. Once inside, it makes a person like me feel like I have the word impostor tattooed across my forehead. And, even though I was wearing my best, I felt as if I might as well have had my dress tucked into my underwear and toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my Wal-Mart shoe. I even threw a glance behind me to make sure I wasn't leaving any muddy footprints, even though I had only been walking on dry pavement.

Obviously not our normal scene. Yet, Groupon made it possible for us to dine in their fine restaurant one night by giving us a great deal. Even with the great deal, the bill was still in the 'only on extra-special occasions' category. We gave our name to the hostess and she checked our reservation. After finding our names she gave me a cold look that made me a bit self conscious of that impostor tattoo, but led us to a beautiful table at the edge of the dark, cozy room. As she pulled my chair out for me she asked me what I would like to drink.
"Water, please," I replied. I then started frantically trying to remember my manners as she started gently pushing my chair in behind me - - - do you help slide the heavy chair underneath you? do you wait until the chair is in the proper place before sitting down? Well, I tried not to 'plop' anyway... When I turned my attention back to her, I realized that she had expanded upon my 'water, please,' request and was asking what kind of water I wanted.

"....water, or sparkling water?" she asked.
"Um," I stalled as I tried to rewind my memory and play back her question, but all I could hear was mumble...water, mumblemumbleaboutdifferentkindsofbottledwater, or sparkling water? So I finally just tried to look thoughtful and dignified and said, "I'll just have, uh, regular water."

Regular? Regular was the best word I could come up with?!

She gave me that cold look again and walked away without a sound. Moments later the waitress came to our table with a silver pitcher and asked, "Is house water alright for you?" House. That would have been better. I nodded and she filled my glass. She cocked her hip a little when she was finished and asked, "So, do you guys have a Groupon?"

Is it that obvious? Really? Or are you just asking everyone? "Well, yes," I said a bit defeated. She asked for the coupon and I felt a rush of embarrassment flood to my cheeks. You see, I hadn't been actually planning on handing it to her so soon, so it wasn't very 'ready' yet. I pulled out the full sheet of paper and sadly confirmed my suspicion that it was folded in quarters and looking quite a bit like it had just been mindlessly shoved into a purse with the diapers, wipes, cracker crumbs, and bits of stale pretzels. I tried to unfold it, smooth out the edges and wipe away the cracker crumbs discretely as it made it's way through the air into her hand. Brian and I watched carefully that night as other couples were seated around us, and it became was quite clear that they were not, indeed, asking everyone if they had a Groupon.

I'm not sure I have ever laughed so much and so full of heart over dinner as I did that night with Brian (quietly laughing, of appear dignified). There is something fun, adventurous and comical about pretending to fulfill a role that you know you're falling short of.

The next day we visited the Hermitage of President Andrew Jackson. It was there that we found out that Nashville is in a different time zone. This made us laugh quite hard because we had decided the night before, after seeing multiple clocks that were an hour behind, that Nashville had had a hard time with daylight savings. We made a mental note to change the clocks back in our hotel room and realized with another laugh that we had shown up to our reservation the night before an hour early. Maybe that's what the cold look was for...

Anyway, back to Andrew Jackson. I'm not much of a history buff, and found myself struggling a bit with the self-guided tour. The man in my headphones sounded much too much like my old high-school history teacher and I felt the drowsiness coming full speed after only two (of many) blurbs. Thankfully, the audio had a kids version of each blurb (spoken in the voice of the Jackson's parrot, Poll) and it didn't take long for me to swallow my pride and listen to that instead. It was much more entertaining, and I started enjoying it quite a bit. I even learned a little something, too.

Nashville. Who knew it would become one of my favorite parts of the country? And I'm pretty sure the kids would let us go back as long as we promised to bring them more cowboy hats and pop guns.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nashville - Part 1

"You know," I said as I stepped off the curb to cross the street in downtown Nashville, "this life is just too short to do everything I want to." I saw Brian try to hide his smile, but I already knew what he was thinking. Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindsay. But you want to do everything.

And, maybe there's some truth to that. But, I'll tell you what, if I could choose two paths in this life, I think my second choice might just be to live in Nashville and try my hand as a songwriter.

It was sort of a close-your-eyes-and-pick-a-city plan that landed us in Nashville in the first place, but once we were there I was so entirely musically inspired that I'm sure I was close to exploding. Live music in all the cafe's, guitar cases hanging from the shoulders of shaggy haired boys, people on the corners playing music on strange looking instruments... passion for music was palpable, and I ate it up with a spoon.

For dinner one night we drove to a little club and restaurant that Brian had found called the Bluebird Cafe. It had great reviews and boasted live, original country and acoustic music every evening. But when we arrived we saw that it was not much more than a dimly lit hole in the wall located on a dark stretch of road with 5 or 6 questionable looking men standing around the entrance. Brian pulled the car into the dark parking lot and slowly made his way to an empty spot. "Uhhhhh...." I said, "I'm not quite sure about this, Bri." He acknowledged my discomfort and assured me that he would be fine finding someplace else to eat - but I liked the idea of a live band inside and wanted to get the full Nashville experience, so after a few minutes of dancing around a decision Brian suggested we walk up to the door and peek in to "see if it's the kind of place we could feel comfortable in." By this time, the men had disappeared, so it didn't seem quite so ominous, and I agreed.

Best decision ever! Turns out that it was 'open-mic night' and we squeezed ourselves into that small club to hear a handful of budding songwriters play their hearts out on that tiny stage. Some were terrible, others were pretty good, and all of them received warm applause and encouragement from us, the audience. All around the small room were painted masks with fingers up to their lips, and large plaques with the letters, "shhhhhhhhhhh" printed in them. Quiet, dark, small (there couldn't have been room to fit more than 30 people comfortably) the ambiance was perfect. We eventually ended up sitting at a table and ordered ourselves some chicken strips. At 10:00 a jazz band came and I found myself choked with tears a couple of times at the thrill of the evening. Our table was only a couple of feet behind the keyboard player, and I watched his hands move so fast up and down those keys that I literally could not see them. And there we sat until 11:30 pm - basking in the music. Unbelievable, inspiring and quite memorable. On the way out the door, I found myself buying a $20 T-shirt (TWENTY dollar T-shirt!) and if you know my spending habits, you know this is quite remarkable indeed. And, you know what, I never even had any buyers remorse about it. It's become one of my favorites.

Right. Not the best picture, but one that kind of shows the T-shirt. And for $20, don't you think it at least deserves a picture on my blog? (FYI - I was in the middle of building a tree swing for the kids and Kenz was shooting all sorts of awesome candid shots.)

Stay tuned for one more post about Nashville - and this time it won't be all about music, I promise. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - a growing trend

The bandwagon is coming and I am jumping on, people! The idea is to post a photo every Wednesday with no words. Supposedly, the photo itself will say so much that it doesn't need a description... but we'll have to see how well that works out for me. No words? This could be tricky. Apparently, after you post, you can even link up to the official Wordless Wednesday blog.

Well, here's your first Wordless Wednesday post from me. Starting right after... now:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Because you care...

Playing around with different exposures on my camera - kind of fun, right?!
But, it has nothing to do with the rest of my post... so you can stop thinking about it now...

Yesterday I opened a banana using only my thumbnail to puncture the skin. This is a momentous occasion, folks!

Historically my thumbnails were strong and could be used to do a number of awesome things. Like untie small, tight knots, or scrape hard, dried food from off the counters, or clean out dirt from underneath any of my other fingernails, or, say, open a banana. But something went tragically wrong the month after Carson was born... my thumbnails became weak and brittle. But the interesting phenomenon is that it was only my thumbnails that were affected. Both of them. The rest of my nails were as strong as ever, but all the sudden I couldn't grow my thumbnails the tiniest bit before they would split painfully into my nail bed. Or flake off in layers until the nail was so thin it could be bent like paper. I figured it was probably postpartum hormones that were to blame, so I wrapped my thumbs in band-aids and waited for the strength to return. But, much to my dismay, the strength didn't return, even after I tried nail-strengthening nail polish. Carson turned one, and eventually four, and my thumb nails were still just as weak as the month he was born. I eventually learned to protect them - often I find my thumbs tucked securely behind my pointer finger to decrease the chance of snagging and tearing.

And then a miracle happened. Last Friday, while my thumbs were tucked protectively behind my pointer finger as I reached into our laundry basket to grab dirty clothes (which is where most of the painful snagging usually occurs), I noticed that my thumb nails were not bending under the pressure of my finger. I quickly pulled them out of the laundry basket to look at them, and after almost 5 years, I can see some white tips at the end of my thumb nails! And they feel so strong! Both of them!

What happened?! My diet is the same, my hormones feel the same, I haven't been protecting my thumbnails any more than usual... any ideas?

I may be rejoicing prematurely, but this seems to be the end of the snagging, bleeding, flaking mess my thumbnails have put me through for the past 5 years. And, well, wouldn't you be happy if you were me?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Few Random Things

Thing #1:

Rubber band idea given by my mom this morning after I used this baby, AGAIN, as an eye makeup remover.

Seriously. Once? I'll give myself an allowance for. TWICE? What's wrong with me?! It gets even better: notice that the liquid inside is BLUE this doesn't even look like my eye-makeup remover! And, it was buried underneath all of my nail polish underneath the bathroom sink, whereas my eye makeup remover was easily accessible in the top drawer with my makeup. I'm not sure where the disconnect is happening here - my brain just knows, 'I gotta get it off' and the default is, apparently, nail polish remover. At least I figured it out after only two swipes this time...

Thing #2

I can't find Carson's preschool calendar they sent home for May, and I knew his 'leader day' was coming up sometime soon. On his leader day he is in charge of bringing the snack for the class and I didn't want him to miss out because I had misplaced his calendar. So, I sent a snack to school today with a note explaining the situation and asked the teachers to keep the snack until his leader day and to please send home another calendar. When I went to pick Carson up, his teacher helped him into the van and said to me, "I am so impressed with your preparedness in sending the snack this morning, and for remembering that we were doing a backwards day! Backwards day is actually not until tomorrow, so he can do it again...and there is a new calendar in his bag." I tried not to look confused as I thanked her and gave her a smile. I took a better look at Carson and realized that his shirt was on backwards. A big, bright, bold picture covered his back, and his front was blank with the tag sticking out under his chin.

See, the thing is, I hadn't remembered anything about backwards day, and I'm pretty sure I would have noticed if Carson had left the house with that shirt on backwards...but...maybe not, I

Thing #3 and #4 and #5 and #27894021

What are these things? They are everywhere. Like, really, really everywhere. They crack out of their exoskeletons and leave them lying around on everything - not appreciated by me. I'll bet I swept up at least a hundred this morning on my porch (which is quite, quite small). And, oh, are they ugly!

I went outside this afternoon to try to get a picture of just how invasive they have become, but after snapping this ONE picture looking up at one of the trees (where you can see hundreds of their little exoskeletons), one fell directly on my head and left me screaming and swatting and running for my life. So, this is all I have folks...squint hard and you can see that all those little black dots are grossness -

I wasn't quite as scared taking their pictures when they weren't hanging over my head, but you can be sure I didn't stick around for long -


Someone please tell me they're almost gone...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Candy Grumbles

Ridiculous, I thought as I pushed my cart through the isles of WalMart. Sugar, sugar, sugar and more sugar. Chocolate bunnies, ring pops, gum, jelly beans...I do not see the symbolism between candy and Easter. And yet, I emptied my wallet of $40 so my children could wake up on Easter morning and delight in the fact that Christ was resurr...I mean, that the Easter Bunny came. I'm happy that the Easter Bunny brought some things like chips and flip-flops and pennies to balance out the sugar.... but I have got to figure out a way to involve Christ more centrally in his own holiday because, as it is, I am a very grouchy Easter celebrator.

I try to keep my Easter grouchies away from the kids. In fact, I think I even scored a few good-mommy points because there were almost no rules about how much candy they could consume in one setting. Eat it, I think. Eat it all. 'Cause once it's gone, well, then it's gone.

And, awesome news for me, their candy was gone by Sunday night. All of it.

Easter aside, I'm not sure where my grumbles about candy come from. There's just something about seeing one of my kids with a face full of it that makes my stomach churn and my teeth hurt. I have never really relished in candy myself...even as a kid, after the chocolate was gone from my Halloween candy, the rest of it was likely to survive all the way to the next Halloween. Do you know what a basketful of candy smells like after a year? Just generally gross.

Now, let's not pretend that I don't love sugar! I am happy to make a batch of chocolate-chip cookies almost any time - and we usually have one or two big new desserts to try every week - and there is pretty much always a gallon or two of ice cream in our freezer. But, it's the gum, and the hard candies, and the chewy candies, and the cheap chocolate balls that get to me.

You know what I think the grouchiness might come from? Candy-drool. The sticky, colorful trails of goo in your carpet that lead to a child covered in it. Then they reach out to you, and nothing says love like sticky, drippy child fingers coming your way. Bleh.

Or, maybe it's the strings of gum connecting a child's teeth with his outstretched hand.

Or, maybe it's the chocolate melted into the blankets.

Or, maybe it's because my kids always turn into hyper-emotional zombies with tummy-aches when they eat it.

See, then they look at me with these big, happy grins and I feel a pang of regret that I don't offer them candy more often.

I do wonder: If I had more candy readily available for them throughout the year, would their candy cravings subside? Do most people have candy in their homes to snack on? What would happen if I just had a bowl of candy out on the counter for them to pick through? Initially, I would have to refill the bowl a zillion times, but - eventually - would they treat the bowl of candy like I treated my Halloween candy as a kid? I wonder...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I tried not to laugh...

One late night in college, I lay on my bed staring up into the darkness and talked with my best friend and roommate about things we wanted to remember when we were mothers. She told me of a time when she was young (hope you don't mind me sharing, Becky!) when she found a small bump on her arm. Embarrassed by it, and not sure what it was, she showed it to her mother - who wasn't sure what it was either. Later, her mother's visiting teachers came to the house and Becky was called over to have them examine the small bump.

Becky laughed as she recalled the story and said, "I was mortified that I had to show that bump to them!" I laughed, too, because of the silliness of the situation, but we decided that - when we were mothers - we would always try to make whatever was a big deal to our children, a big deal to us.

I failed the other day when McKenzie started crying frantically from downstairs, "Mom! Come help me - I'm stuck!" I rushed down there to see this:

but instead of being understanding and helping her out, I ran to get my camera. She was quite embarrassed and I think, someday, she may lie in her dorm room and tell her roommate of a time when her mother posted pictures of her embarrassing situation on the internet.

And maybe she, too, will decide that - when she is a mother - she will try to make whatever is a big deal to her children, a big deal to her.

But, then she'll become a mother and...........