Monday, June 30, 2014

Midwest Lovin'

I think I was supposed to live in the Midwest and I just haven't moved there yet.  Flying in the other day, I kept hitting Rich saying, "Look how green it is!  Look at all of those trees! Look at the land surrounding those homes!  Look how beautiful it is here!!!"  He was like, "Yeah...because it is humid and it is constantly hot and wet here, so of course everything is green!"  I think if I never wanted to blow dry my hair and curl it again, or ever put on make-up again, and owned nothing but sundresses and tank tops, then Nashville (or one of the many affordable suburbs surrounding it) is the place to be! 

We were in Nashville for Rich's work.  I had one objective for the entire trip...get Rich into a country western bar and make him listen to country music until his ears start to bleed.  The first night we were there, we walked around downtown to check out the night life.  You can't walk ten feet without there being a bar with live music in it.  My only complaint was that no one was singing the same song, so it sounded like there were twenty concerts going on simultaneously.  No bueno.

Here are a couple of shots from our walk.

Nashville Predators Arena. 

It's world famous people.  I wonder if the same Tootsies I saw in the airport was also world famous.

I told Rich that unless it says Honky Tonk, we skip it because it is just a waste of our time.  We are on a strict Honky Tonk mission.

Not bad for a Wednesday night.  Place was hoppin'.

And here is Puckett's.  This little gem quickly became our favorite place, for two totally different reasons.

When we were looking online to find a fun place to eat and get local cuisine (yes, I said that), we came across several great reviews for this place.  It was one block away from our hotel and we quickly found out that we were not the only ones who had heard of this place as well.  At 8:00pm, there was an hour and a half wait.  We put our name in and then took off for a walk.  It was apparent quickly that only a few places were open past a certain time.  We must have passed five to six places to eat that are only open until 6:00pm.  For a city that was crawling with people on a Wednesday night, it was a mystery to us why there were so many restaurants closed.

Anyway, back to Puckett's.  When we got back from our walk, we decided to wait inside until they called our name.  Best wait in a restaurant for a table ever!!  Who doesn't love a restaurant that has a live band on stage performing while people enjoyed their meal??  As we were standing there looking over the menu and deciding what to order, the nice cowboy on stage played three cords on the guitar and my eyes lit up and magic happened.  For the next three or so minutes, I sang Callin' Baton Rouge at the top of my lungs to my husband.  I would like to say that he loves my singing and is supportive of my occasional extrovert behavior when I am in a city where no one at all knows me, but he kept trying to cover my mouth and face with the menu and so I was getting mixed messages about how he actually felt about my performance that was for him.  I mean what other declaration of love is there other than signing Garth at the top of your lungs to your spouse!  It was AMAZING!!

When we finally sat down for dinner, we quickly realized that there was a bucket going around taking requests for songs.  WHAT?!?!?!?!  Rich turned to me and said, "No".  Rude.  How did he know what song I would pick and that he wouldn't love it just as much as the first.  He doesn't appreciate good music.  Let me tell you why.  When the band started to play The Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniel's Band, I may have squealed.  And by squealed, I mean scream out loud in a pitch only dogs could hear.  As I have done for the past 47 year we have been together, when a song comes on the radio from a well known movie, I say to him..." this movie."  He is wrong or doesn't play like 97% of the time.  (He is a real good time people, let me tell you)  So, it was no surprise that when they started to play The Devil Went Down to Georgia, I screamed out...."Dude, name this movie!"  Silence.  Crickets.  He said, "I don't even know if I have heard this song before.  I think I have, but I am not sure."  I looked at him, wasting precious time that I could be singing along, and said..."Are you even an American????  I mean I know that Urban Cowboy is an acquired taste as far as movies go, but you may not even remember the song period???  How have we been married this long and I not know this about you???"   It's a good thing the food and sweet tea made up for my date with Debbie Downer after that.  Oh, and the band closed out the evening with Alabama's song Mountain Music.  It was like a little gift given to me on account of my husbands lack of culture outside his bubble of hip hop and rap.  I turned to Rich and said, "Just so you know, tonight was my favorite night of the trip."

And now on to the meal. 

Fried pickle appetizer.

Rich's dinner.  It was BBQ pulled pork on the bottom of a skillet, topped with Gouda mac n' cheese.

I went with a more traditional cuisine, chicken fried chicken.  The mashed potatoes (and I consider myself a connoisseur) were horrible, but the chicken and green beans were good.

And dessert.  A fried brownie, topped with vanilla bean ice cream and a slice of bacon, just because they can.

On our way back to the hotel that night, we found this gem.  A three story public library.  A THREE STORY PUBLIC LIBRARY!!!!!!!   Remember that movie With Honors?  When Joe Pesci lived in Harvard's Law Library.  If I go missing people...consider this your first hint.  Oh, and Madonna had the hit song from the movie called, "I'll Remember".  You are welcome.

And this is where we both were the next morning (after the USA soccer match, of course.).  This is the picture I took while on the treadmill  (Hello, you saw our dinner last night, right?)  of it pouring rain outside.  That's why the pool is indoors???  That'd be my guess because the hour we were down there, it must have started and stopped pouring rain several times. 

On Friday, Rich's friend Aaron joined us for lunch.  We had heard this little place called Back Alley Diner.  And it was the perfect name because it was so back alley that it took three grown adults a while to locate it.  And seriously, it was a block away. 

I was grateful for the detour because while we were on our scavenger hunt from our Google map we stumbled on a few fun places to see.  This reminded me of New Orleans.

 This is the alley that we had to walk through to get to the other alley where the diner actually was.  I loved walking through here because there are flags hanging from every state in the union.  This is the stuff that makes me happy and geek out a bit.

And I have to share this picture.  Right now Matthew is OBSESSED with Finding Bigfoot.  In fact, on a daily basis he and I get into heated discussions about the hard cold facts and evidence that is concrete proof that Bigfoot exists.  If you're bored one day, I dare you to strike up a conversation with him about it.  Here's your opening line, "There is no Bigfoot."  Then just sit back and enjoy.  Cut him off a couple of times so he can catch his breath and gather his next argument, but I's a good time.

This sign was hanging on the door of the bathroom in the diner we were in.  There was no door on the first stall, just a sheet hanging with this outside.  Classy joint. 

On Friday night we headed to a minor, minor, minor, minor, minor league game.  We were lucky  to have box seats because it was hot and humid outside and I was wearing a sweater sitting inside. 

And I blame Aaron for this.  This is my very first Fireball Whisky shot.  It was good.  And that's all I am sharing from my experience.  Again....I blame Aaron.

Who loves the retro scoreboard???  They are actually moving this team to a new stadium at the end of the season and my wish is that they take that sign and do something with it at the new stadium.  How could you leave it behind?

Post game fireworks.

Midwest Love.  All the kids were able to go out and see the players and run the bases after the game.

Look at this old school Nashville Sporting Goods Store.  Yes, that is a mesh steel gate that is out front working as security.

Store hours on a Saturday were a disappointment.  We wanted to walk through it, but who plans for it to be closed at noon on a Saturday.  And we think they don't have any Lebron's or Jordan's, but that is just our Wheel of Fortune guess.
All in all, this was a great trip.  Next time we go, I'm renting a car and driving to the burbs to check out real estate.  I want something with a ton of trees and land surrounding my property.  Oh, and air conditioning.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Father's Day

I promise...we will get to the Father's Day thing in a second.

Remember when you were little and summers consisted of playing outside from dawn until the street lights turned on?  I used to LOVE summers.  My best friend Amber moved in across the street from us when I was in the third grade and it was the single best thing that could have happened to the eight year old me.  My sister-in-law was saying last week that she hadn't seen my niece Mikayla basically since school had gotten out, that she was gone daily with friends.  I told her---that is the definition of summer vacation! 

The greatest part of Amber living across the street was our sleepovers.  I swear, during summer, either I was sleeping at her house or she was sleeping at mine.  I became that annoying neighbor girl that they just couldn't shake.  I was CONSTANTLY around, invited or not.  But, it was the same at our house as well.  We were notorious for putting our parents on the spot and inviting each other over for dinner, to sleep over, or to go on vacations.  I may or may not have invited myself everywhere they went.  Including Disneyland.

My parents had taken Noelle and I to Disneyland a couple of times when were young, but it was really with Amber's family that I fell in love with the place.  It was like the ultimate road trip with a perfect stopping spot.  Joe, Amber's Dad, used to have a work van that did not have anything in the back of it and he would take a twin mattress off one of the girls' bed and throw it in the back of the van and we would hang out and sing to Wilson Phillips or New Kids on the Block for six hours straight.  One of my most favorite memories was when Don McLean's American Pie song came on and Amber's parents screamed and cranked up the radio.  For eight minutes and thirty seconds, Staci, Amber and I sat in complete silence and listened to them sing every word to this song and we thought they were absolutely crazy.  It was somewhere over the Grapevine that I knew it would be my life's goal to learn that entire song.  And I have.  It is one of my all time favorite songs and I sang the entire thing the other day in the car and after, Matt turned to me and said..."That was longest song ever!"  I smiled and said..."I dare you to learn it."  Challenge accepted!

Anyway...again, it was through my trips with the Lee family that I grew to love Disneyland.  When Matt was ten months old, we took him for the first time.  It exceeded all of our expectations on how he would react, behave, and enjoy his time there.  And I am pretty sure that was the trip that hooked Rich and the rest is history.  People immediately assume that my love for Disneyland is the reason we go so frequently.  Truth is...Rich is a bigger fan now than me.  He is a walking Disney App and because of that, I knew he would love Father's Day this year when his wife outdid herself on his gifts.

I may have forgotten to mention that Amber's dad Joe is an amazing artist.  He has been drawing, painting, sculpting for as long as I have known him.  He is beyond talented.  So, a couple of months ago when I saw a sketch that he had done of a little girl with Dumbo sitting on her got me thinking.  I contacted him and told him Rich's love of Disneyland and asked if it was possible if he could create something for me.  I had something in mind and didn't know if it was possible, but wanted to give it a shot.  He got right back to me and said absolutely. 

Side note---I should also mention that Rich and I rarely exchange gifts.  There is never any surprise at holidays or birthdays because we usually just look at each other and say--What do we need? And then go and get it.  I was already ahead of the game this year because friends of ours went to the Aulani in March and I had them pick up the one shirt he wanted that they didn't have in his size when we were there two years ago.  I was already so proud of myself because I knew he would LOVE the shirt and that alone would make his day. 

When Joe sent me the first look at his sketch, I was speechless.  I loved it.  It was everything I wanted and imagined and I knew Rich would love it.  The problem was, the pictures I had sent to Joe did not have detailed face shots and he said he really needed them.  Trying to be as nonchalant as I could, I told Rich and the boys I needed profile shots and to not ask any questions, just do it and forget we ever did this.  The boys went crazy, asking all of these questions and I was completely honest with them and told them that I absolutely did not trust them for a red hot minute and that I would not tell them because it was too big of a secret to have any part of it revealed.

On Father's Day morning, I could not wait to give Rich his gift.  And he was shocked.  I gave him the shirt first, and then gave him the picture.  He said..."The shirt was a definite surprise.  But the picture is..."  That was a good sign.  Speechless is always a good reaction.

Finished product.
It is hanging right next to the bed on his side.  I thought it would be cool out in the living room.  But, it was hung up within five minutes of opening it and so I guess that's its new home.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Go to the Mattresess!

This isn't the Godfather.  It feels like the Godfather.  I have felt the rage like Marlon Brando a few times in the last month and a half dealing with my husband in our attempt to purchase a new mattress.  And I don't know why I am so surprised.  For as long as I have known him, he has NEVER bought anything in a timely manner.  A new car--at least a year or two.  A new TV--at least six months.  A new couch and wall unit--at least five to six months.  So...I knew the mattress would not be purchased right away, but a girl can dream right?  No, she can't.  You know why?  Because to dream, you would have to sleep, and that is what I have not been doing the last couple of months. 

So I "went to the mattresses".  I took a stand and left our bed and kicked my kids out of theirs.  Kids can sleep anywhere, right?  Oh wait, I don't care.  The first night I told Matt he could sleep with Rich in our bed he did a dance and went in and started setting season passes on our DVR.  I needed sleep and Matt had the newest mattress in our house.  So I went in, pulled rank, and kicked him out of his own bed.  The first night was bliss.  The only two that were complaining in the house were Teddy and Bear.  When we got the dogs years ago, Rich set the rule that they were not allowed in the boys rooms...ever!!!  That first night I walked into Matt's room, they ran around like, "What is happening??  Where is she going??  She knows we can't go in there!!  Whose legs are we going to lay on tonight, preventing them from moving the entire night???"  And the best part that first night, at about 4:30am, they had had enough and started whining at the door to get to me.  And you could imagine how happy Rich was, being woke up at 4:30 to them staging their protest.  Oh wait, I don't care.  Between Matt and Ryan's beds, I have been entering my little oasis each night for the past couple of weeks with my Nook and no dogs.  And no husband.  I haven't hated it.

Do you know how weird, unnatural, awkward, and uncomfortable it is to go into stores in front of perfect strangers and conduct conversations while laying down on mattresses?  I hate it.  I don't want to talk to anyone.  Give me my pillow protector and let me go lay on a couple of mattresses by myself.  Because I can tell you, nothing makes me more happy than laying down and having some creepy car salesman guy standing over me asking me how I feel and if it is firm enough.  I can't. I can't.  I can't.  And why am I laying on eighteen different mattresses and then expected to narrow it down to one?  Who does that?  Here is what we are looking for.  Show us four like it, and I will tell you which one I like.  And these "poor guys" who made us lay down on all everything in their showroom, actually thought that my husband asking for prices and delivery costs, was going to pull the trigger and buy one.  A small part of me felt sorry for them.  And then I thought....who feels sorry for me?  Says the girl who is still sleeping in another bed because her husband can't pull the trigger and buy something already.

Our new bedding showed up yesterday.  And it is girlie.  G-I-R-L-I-E.  The shade of pink, that I can now see in person, is just pink enough to make him uncomfortable.  Oh wait, I don't care.  In fact, I wouldn't care if when the comforter showed up, and it was actually 3D with flowers sprouting out the top of it like a blooming garden!!!!  I.  DON'T.  CARE.  This is what happens when I don't sleep.  I get cranky and mean. 

Last night, a month and a half later, we WENT BACK AGAIN to RC Willey, 98% sure about the actually pulling of the trigger and purchasing a mattress.  The poor salesman.  He has never worked so hard for a sale of one mattress before in his life. 

Here I am again.  Rich said, "Just lay on it again, you need to make sure you like it."  And my response..."Yep, feels just like it did a month and a half ago.  You understand I am trying not to get attached.  My back is trying not to not fall in love, for fear of rejection.  Again." 

And this is where Ryan and I spent our time while Rich "contemplated his purchase".  Watching this horrific game. 

Finally.  A deal is done.  Mattress is being delivered Wednesday.  Four more days.  I am thinking of passing the time shopping for accent pillows for the bedding.  Something in a soft yellow or lilac.  Because again, I don't care.