Saturday, May 30, 2009

If I can make it there . . .

Well, hubs and I have gone and done it. We booked plane tickets and accomodations (a cute little studio apartment near Times Square - touristy, but also right in the middle of everything) for a week in New York City at the end of September. And our plan is to go WITHOUT the baby. Eeek!

Both sets of grandparents, plus my older sister, have agreed to put in some babysitting time while we're gone, so it shouldn't be too hard on anyone. And it will be such a luxury to have hubs to myself for a WHOLE WEEK!

So, who's been to NYC? What's your top five? I need trip advice, people!

Toe-tapping fun!

A group of friends and I noshed on chips/dip/margaritas and then went out to New Stage Theatre to see Smokey Joe's Cafe this week. What fun!

If you don't know the show, it's basically a musical revue featuring the work of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. If those names aren't familiar, maybe these song titles are: Yakety Yak, Dance with Me, Charlie Brown, Fools Fall in Love, Hound Dog, On Broadway, I Keep Forgettin', There Goes My Baby, Love Potion #9, and Stand By Me.

The show was a hoot. Standouts in the cast were definitely the show's quartet of black guys, with Michael Fisher being particularly impressive. They were just all so cute, and they all had very distinct stage personalities. They were having fun up there, and it showed.

Fisher grooved the way only a slightly tubby black man can, and he put his whole heart into every number he performed. It was obvious far before the Spanish Harlem number that Donald Jones Jr. has had some movement training, and he had great comic timing as well. Jay Thompson has a classic voice, and he was the perfect choice for numbers such as There Goes My Baby and Love Potion #9.

As for the women, I think my favorite was Sharon Miles. She was just adorable, flipping from sweet and vulnerable to tough and indignant with ease. She also has a great set of pipes. Her rendition of Saved was fabulous, and her reprise of Fools Fall in Love was one of the best ballads in the show. Naima Carter Russell was also fun to watch, especially in Don Juan.

If you haven't seen the show yet, it's not too late! It's on offer until June 7. Tickets are $22 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 601-948-3533 or clicking here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trip to the zoo!

Hubs and I took Clay to the zoo on Saturday morning. We were a little worried that it would rain on us, but everything worked out great. No rain, and it was cloudy enough that we didn't burn up out there.

We'd taken booger to the zoo once before, but he was about a year old at the time. I don't think he totally "got" what was going on, and he certainly didn't recognize any of the animals. Now, though, he knows all the animals' names and the sounds they make. He ran around that place like he owned it, pointing everywhere and calling out, "Elephant!! Tiger!! Giraffe!! Bird!! Monkey!!" It was absolutely hilarious. Hubs and I just grinned like crazy the whole time and felt like the luckiest people in the world.

He enjoyed some of the children's areas, too, climbing down a tunnel so he could see the mice in their little cage, trading "cockadoodledoos" with the roosters in the barnyard, and spelling out the word "bird" written along one of the walls in the play area.

On the way home, we were so delirious that we bought him some chicken nuggets and fries from Wendy's, and he hopped right on them when we got home.

I knew that on that day, my baby was gone. I have a little boy now.

Watch out, world!! We're coming to GattiTown next!!

Monday, May 25, 2009


I've been wanting a tattoo for a while. I hadn't gotten one yet, though, for two reasons: 1.) I'm a big chicken with a very strong anti-pain platform and 2.) I didn't have a friend crazy enough to go with a 32-year-old mom to a tattoo parlor.

Well, I recently discovered that I DID have a friend crazy enough to go get a tattoo. In fact, she already had a few. So that was one obstacle checked off the list. And the second one, well, I figured if I was tough enough to push out a 8.5-pound baby, a tiny tattoo would probably be cake.

So, last Saturday, off to the tattoo parlor (Twizted Images - I know. I thought the name was lame, too.) we went. I already knew what I wanted - the word "stillness" written in Arabic. I wanted it in Arabic because I am half Lebanese, and I wanted the word stillness because, well, it's a reminder that I could use. I'm a do-er. I'm always running around like crazy, trying to accomplish tons of things and experience life to the fullest. And that's great. But sometimes I forget the value of just being. Just sitting there, just listening to the quiet, just being present in the moment I'm IN, not the one that's coming or the one that has just passed.

So, stillness it was. I had my Dad check my scripting (Arabic is his native language.), and off I went.

Our tattoo artist was this tiny little woman named Asha (pronounced Asia), and it all happened very quickly. I showed her what I wanted, paid my money, and filled out a form. Next thing I knew, she showed me a rendering of the tattoo, transferred an outline of it onto my skin, and then started the process.

And it really didn't hurt. At the beginning, it didn't even feel that uncomfortable. The longer they work on the area, though, the more it starts to sting a bit. I think I grimaced once or twice, but it was a little tattoo, and it was over fast. I had it done on Saturday, and it didn't feel sore or anything.

So, if you're thinking of getting a tattoo, here's my two cents:
1.) It's not that big of a deal.
2.) It's not really expensive. (My little tattoo cost $35 plus tip.)
3.) If it's something small, it doesn't really hurt, it doesn't take very long, and recovery is minimal.

Hubs totally tried to talk me out of it, but some things you just do for yourself, you know? (And now that it's there, I think he digs it.) Now, I kinda feel like it's been there forever, and I love it. I don't think I'll be getting any MORE tattoos, but I'm really glad I have this one.

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. My grandfather served in the navy in WWII. Pawpaw was part of the Pacific fleet, and my grandmother's house is full of china figurines that he sent her while he was there. They all have "Made in Occupied Japan" stamped on the bottom.

Paw paw used to tell a funny story about the first time he walked onto a ship after enlisting in the navy. All the guys were pretty young, he said, and as they set sail, he noticed one of them losing his lunch over the side of the boat. They guy's friend, standing next to him, looked on disapprovingly. "Heave!" he said. "Heave, damn you! I wanted to join the army, but NO!"

My grandmother's brothers served as well. Uncle Joyce was a paratrooper, and Uncle James was in the army. Miraculously, they all survived.

I think today might be a good day to tell you about the tour I took of the Air National Guard base in Flowood last week. The base employs some 1,500 people, with maybe 400 of those serving full-time at any given moment.

The base owns eight C-17 planes. These are large cargo planes, state-of-the-art, and each one of them is worth about $220 million. The base routinely makes the route from Flowood to Germany to Afghanistan to Iraq and back again. They take supplies over, and they bring wounded soldiers back for treatment. The base was called upon by the federal government in 2005 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and then for Operation Enduring Freedom. Since then, they have transported nearly 30,000 wounded soldiers home. Not only that, but soldiers in their care have a 94% survival rate due to the high quality of medical expertise that these servicemen and women provide in flight.

The people on the base have also been called on to help with natural disasters in the United States. Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, and Ike - they were there to help.

We got to tour one of these giant planes, and it was pretty dang impressive. We crawled up into the wheel wells, where you could stand totally straight, because the wheels are so big. Then, we walked into the cargo area. Two of the officers responsible for securing the plane's cargo (they call them loadmasters) were there to explain how all the pulleys and straps and winches worked together to keep the cargo from shifting and throwing the plane off balance.

We saw the tiny kitchen, and we even got to sit in the cockpit and examine all the knobs, throttles, switches and dials. A pilot was there to show us how it all worked (and probably to make sure we didn't push the red button!).

I've been thinking alot about those guys (and gals) this week - Lt. Mitias, Major McGee (flight nurse), the loadmasters.

We had a big barbecue tonight and invited alot of people over. Friends, family, there were a bunch of cute little kids running around and alot of laughing. We made hamburgers and fries and coleslaw and baked beans, and we topped it all off with hot fudge sundaes. We swung little people in the hammock. We drew with sidewalk chalk and drank cold IBC root beer and walked down to the pier to see the water.

And the very reason that I could enjoy a night like tonight is that those folks over at the base (and others like them) are willing to lay it on the line for me and for the way we live in this country.

Thanks, guys.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A crack shot

I haven't read much of Henrik Ibsen's work, but what I have read, I like. I like that Ibsen thought theatre could be entertaining and yet still make you think about things. Enemy of the People, A Doll's House. I hadn't read Hedda Gabler in years. In fact, I'm not sure what made me pick it up again. But pick it up I did, and I thought I'd write quick few things here about it.

Quick synopsis - Hedda and her new husband, Jorgen Tesman, have just returned from their honeymoon. The two set up house, and Tesman is expecting an imminent appointment to a professorship. Hedda, daughter of a well-known general, seems bored and uninterested in all of the above until she hears news of Ejlert Lovborg, an old flame who has returned to town. Apparently, Lovborg was dissoloute when she knew him, and has since reformed due to the attentions of a married woman (Thea Elvsted). This raises ire in Hedda, who can't imagine that someone other than herself could inspire reform (or much of anything, really) in Lovborg.

Hedda sets herself about destroying the two lovers and Lovborg's new leaf. And succeeds. However, in doing so, she exposes her own nature to someone who'd like nothing more than to extract his own lurid favors from her. Seeing no way out, she kills herself with her father's pistol.

First off, just let me say that, for the 1800s, this play is pretty dang racy. Everyone is hopping into bed with everyone else, or planning to, and folks are shooting off guns and burning up each other's brilliant manuscripts and setting each other up for a life of ruin all over the place. If you think Ibsen is just about dusty old parlors, you aren't paying very close attention.

Second - Hedda: on the surface, she is a very unsympathetic character. She seems to take pleasure in making people uncomfortable, saying things to see the reaction they will elicit, flexing her power to manipulate others. But what one wonders is what drives her to do such things. I think there's no question that she has mental health issues. I think maybe also she feels trapped, trapped because she has a powerful nature, but she's in a powerless position. She's the daughter of a general, but her only battlefield exists in the confines of polite drawing room conversation.

It's also interesting that it's her husband who cares for his sick aunt, who delights in his close family, who is ecstatic to care for Hedda. Tesman is the one who comes off as the warm, caregiving character (traditionally the female role). In contrast, his new bride Hedda has an almost maniacal need to destroy, and won't even consider her potential role as a mother (creator of life).

Anyhoo, Hedda seems to chafe against the yoke society has placed on her. I think she sees her acts as rebellion against . . . society's expectations? She sees her suicide as noble, heroic, free, beautiful. A brave act in the face of certain defeat.

I have never seen this production live. I'd love to, but I'm not sure if anyone in this market would touch it.

To boldly go . . .

Hubs is a pretty devoted Star Trek fan. He's seen most of the Star Trek movies and the more modern series of the franchise. (He's a big sci-fi junkie.)

Naturally, when he heard about the new Star Trek movie (starring one of the guys from Heroes, which he also loves), he was seriously interested. And when we had the opportunity to go see a movie in the theatre last weekend, I was more than glad to go with him to this one, mainly because a.) I knew it would make his little heart go pitter-patter, b.) I'd heard it was a good movie, and c.) there was nothing else playing that I really wanted to see. (See how the planets align for hubs. Boy, he's one lucky guy! Ha!)

Anyway, now that I - a non-Star Trek fan - have seen the movie, I can offer this unbiased report: THE MOVIE IS AMAZING. Go see it NOW.

You know when you find yourself weeping during the first ten minutes of a STAR TREK movie that you are in the care of a master storyteller. What can I say about J.J. Abrams? The man is a genius. In one fell swoop, he sets the entire plotline of this movie in motion, binds you emotionally to the characters, and frees himself up to do whatever he wants with, not only this movie, but all future movies in the franchise. Brilliant.

And the effects? Flawless. At no time during the entire movie did I find myself falling out of the action to think to myself, "That looks fake." Everything looked real. Insane.

Cast was good, too, with Spock (perfectly-cast Zachary Quinto) serving, oddly, as the emotional center of the film. (Though I don't know if I was ready to accept Winona Ryder as his mother. Ouch.) Simon Pegg was bright and funny as always in a turn as Scotty.

Action moved along quickly, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I anxiously await future installments!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quick road trip

This weekend, hubs and I officially celebrated our anniversary. May is a month that is chock-full of celebrations for our family. Both of my sisters' birthdays, plus Mother's Day and our wedding anniversary, fall within the first two weeks. Shortly thereafter is the birthday of one of my oldest, dearest friends, then we run up into Memorial Day, and, as you can see, the social calendar gets crowded pretty quickly.

So hubs and I pretty much never celebrate our anniversary on the actual day it falls on; we're always either pushing it forward or backward a few days to accommodate other celebrations. This year, we celebrated on Saturday by dropping booger off for his first overnight without either of us. He stayed with his grandparents, and hubs and I high-tailed it to a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Vicksburg for the night.

After we dropped him off, we stopped for a quick lunch and then a movie. Yes, an actual movie. Only the third one we've seen together in the theatre since little man made his debut nearly two years ago. I made hubby the happiest man in the world on Saturday by agreeing to go see Star Trek with him. He was as joyful as a nerdy nerd on Nerdmas morning, as Stace would say. (It was an AWESOME movie, and I'll review it in a later post.)

After the show, we checked into our lovely room at Ahern's Belle of the Bends. We were staying in the Josephine Suite, a large, beautiful room on the second floor of the home. The bed was a reallyreally comfortable king, and the room had a sitting area and a spacious bath. But the best part was the verandah. Just outside our room was the door to this little slice of heaven, and there was a comfy cushioned swing out there. It was magical. You had great views, the higher elevation helped catch the breeze, and it was just very secluded, private, and romantic.

After checking in, we stopped by the outlet mall and did a little shopping. We bought a few kitchen things before our stomachs started to growl, sending us to Cedar Grove for dinner. We started with the crawfish cakes (OMG.), then hubs got the steak and I got the rabbit stew. I couldn't remember ever seeing rabbit on a restaurant menu, and I couldn't wait to try it. I think that the waitress was trying to talk me out of it at first. She was all, "It'll be gamey. It might be tougher than you're used to," blah blah blah. But you know how stubborn I am. Frankly, I've had a good bit of what would be classified as "game," and I have yet to specifically quantify what's meant by a "gamey" taste. To me, the meat just tastes like it has more flavor. Anyhoo, the rabbit was really good, and I ate it ALL. We washed everything down with red wine, and then I nursed a decaf coffee while we talked.

After that, hubs and I had big plans to go out to the casino, go play pool, etc. We stopped by the B&B to freshen up and recover from dinner, and we ended up on that verandah swing. And somehow, sitting up there, our desire to go out just evaporated. We swang out there, watched the sun go down, saw the lightning bugs come out, talked, laughed, felt the wine kick in. We just had the best time. It's difficult sometimes, with a toddler, to be at ease. There's always so much to do, it seems, and there's not a whole lot of lying around time.

But last night, we went to bed early and slept late. Aaaahhhh. And when I woke up earlier than hubs (I always do.), I took my copy of Mark Twain down to the parlor and sipped a hot cup of coffee while I read. (The innkeepers even had the soft music turned on - harp recordings of Greensleeves and the like. If only I'd had a hoop skirt . . . ) Before long, it was breakfast, and we were eating all kinds of wonderful things (hot cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit salad, sausage, eggs, gravy, biscuits, delicious fried apples, nearly everything you can imagine) while we chatted with each other.

After that, hubs and I moseyed on back to pick up little man, who had apparently behaved in a stellar fashion while we were away. (Though that could have been just a fib from Grammy and Poppy so we didn't feel bad about leaving him! You know how grandparents are!)

We will definitely be doing this again. Can't believe we let it wait so long!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Feet on the street.

I love May. It's when you really start to notice that the days are getting longer. And because it's light earlier and later, I can get outside either before or after work! I have definitely fallen off the wagon with my running, but this always seems to be the time of year that I pick it back up. It's still cool outside in the early morning and the late evening, and I'd WAY rather be running on the pavement outside than toiling away on a treadmill in the gym.

During the past couple of weeks, I've been walking with the baby after work (or, like tonight, on my own after I've bathed him). I think that next week, I'll be ready to add short circuits of running into the mix. (My boss will hoot and holler when he finds this out, mainly because I've been ribbing him about his EXTREME dedication to fitness ever since I started back to work. I mean, the man runs 150-mile races. He really isn't sane. My measley efforts are definitely going to get a chuckle out of him.)

Hopefully, this season is the one for me to check off my "three miles without stopping" goal. It would be fun to do some weekend events, too. I haven't done one of them in a long while, and I kinda miss them. I used to jog with a group of ladies on Saturday mornings. Wonder if they are still running? Have to find that out . . .

When I'm out walking/running, I get a chance to think. I like that. I also get a chance to listen to some music that I really like. I've downloaded a bunch of songs that keep my pace up onto my MP3 player. Here are a few that get me going:

Lady Marmalade - I defy you to listen to this and not shake it.
Real World (Matchbox 20) - I also really like their I Want to Push You Around.
Respect - Give it up for Re Re, baby.
Shame on You (Indigo Girls) - I am an Indigo Girls fan from way back.
Slide (Goo Goo Dolls) - I think I may be the only person still listening to this song, but I don't care!
Take It Back (Pink Floyd)
Walking on Broken Glass (Annie Lennox) - She grooves, people. I also have her version of Take Me to the River on there.
Passionate Kisses (Mary Chapin Carpenter) - One of my favorite songs of all time. Naturally, I have tons of her songs mixed in there, too.
All I Want for Christmas (Mariah Carey) - Ok, this one is unorthodox. But it puts a bounce in my step, and it always makes me smile. Even when it's May.
Come to My Window (Melissa Etheridge) - Boyfriends used to come to my window, and I think that's why I've always liked this song.
Desire (U2) - If you do not like U2 at least a little, I fear that something may be seriously wrong with you. Seriously.
Faith (George Michael) - Say what you will, but I think it helps me go just a little bit faster. (Freedom, too. Makes me feel like a supermodel.) Don't mess with what works.
500 Miles (The Proclaimers) - Ever since I saw Bennie and Joon, I have sung this song absolutely full-throated no matter where I happen to be. I high school, a group of friends and I actually choregraphed a full waist-up dance to it that we could do WHILE RIDING IN THE CAR. I am soooo not kidding on this.

I'll try to stay accountable re: my successes and failures here. Let's hope there's more of the former than the latter! Ha!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

I remember mama.

In honor of Mother's Day tomorrow, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about my mom. (There she is, below, comforting me when the vacuum cleaner was running.)

When we were growing up, mom took my older sister and I everywhere - camping, to museums, all up and down the Natchez Trace, out to the Petrified Forest, just everywhere. A while back, someone said something to the effect of, "Ask Nicole if that would be a fun place to go with your kids. She's been everywhere." And it's true, because of mom. She taught me that you're only bored if you want to be, and she gave my sisters and I a great real-life education just by toting us all over the place and introducing us to lots of people. I have tried to do that so far with Clay, and I hope that I'll be able to keep doing that. Even though it's been challenging, I've loved having him travel and see the local sights with me.

When mom was a young bride, the house was always full of daddy's hungry, boisterous relatives. Mom didn't know the first thing about Middle Eastern cooking, but she learned to make all of these traditional Lebanese foods to satisfy everyone. Back then, you couldn't buy traditional Arabic bread locally, so mom designated one day a week as baking day. I remember every surface in the kitchen being covered with flatbread - counters, the kitchen table, the dining room table, all of it. I still marvel at her energy to care for that whole bunch, plus bring up two little girls (and later, a third).

Mom's smart, and she thought it was important to teach her kids as much as she could. All of us were reading before we started preschool (Mom taught us to read with a book called Wheeler's Primer. I remembered it so well that when I was pregnant, I went on Ebay and bought a copy of it so I could use it to teach Clay.), and we were all placed in gifted programs during school.

During my teenage years, mom was really sick. She has severe rheumatoid arthritis, and she was basically bedridden for a good long while there. It couldn't have been fun, and it couldn't have been easy. She had to depend on some pretty forgetful and irresponsible teenaged girls to do things she would have much rather done herself, and she was in constant pain. Even today, her threshold for pain is unbelieveable, because pain is something she's just had to learn to live with.

But even when she was hurting, you could usually coax a smile out of her somehow. She used to fuss at me because when I'd fix her a sandwich, I'd take a bite out of it before I gave it to her. I only did it because it became a running joke between us, and she'd kinda smile as she was scolding me over it. (I must admit, I have a talent for making her laugh, and I love it. In that picture below, I'd just cracked some stupid joke, and we were both still chuckling over it when the photographer captured us mid-guffaw.)

She'd sit on a stool at the stove to cook supper, and if we were in the den cutting up and making her mad, she'd reach over and toss a wooden spoon or a spatula in our general direction as a warning. (It saved her the laborious task of getting up and walking in there.) I still laugh about it now, because her aim was HORRIBLE. She couldn't have hit a barn door, but she still lobbed a cooking implement into the den every once in a while, just to keep us on our toes!

When I was in college, mom had some surgeries that dramatically improved her quality of life. (Once we got past the post-op infections. Ugh.) Even though she was scared to go "under the knife," she did it, and it paid off. I'm so, so grateful that she feels better on a daily basis, and that she's able to enjoy her life and her family more now.

As I've grown older, I've naturally come to appreciate my mother a whole lot more. The jokes have gotten a little raunchier, and the conversations have gotten a little more honest. We talk at least once a week, and I try to take the baby by to see her every couple of weeks. (It was rough when I first started back to work, but we're getting a little better now.)

Tonight, we went out for a swanky dinner at Schimmel's, where we ate far too much and still indulged in cheesecake, lots of laughter, and a glass of wine or two.

Love you, Mom.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Chuck Norris jokes

Saw a link to this site on another blog, and I had to re-post it. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.
2. Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting infers the probability of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.
3. If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.
4. Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.
5. When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
6. They once made a Chuck Norris toilet paper, but it wouldn't take shit from anybody.
7. Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry; the man ate an Indian.
8. Chuck Norris is what Willis was talking about.
9. Multiple people have died from Chuck Norris giving them the finger.
10. When Chuck Norris had surgery, the anesthesia was applied to the doctors.
11. Chuck Norris sleeps with a night light. Not because Chuck Norris is afraid of the dark, but because the dark is afraid of Chuck Norris.
12. Chuck Norris owns the greatest poker face of all time. It helped him win the 1983 World Series of Poker, despite him holding just a joker, a 2 of clubs, a 7 of spades, a green number 4 from Uno, and a monopoly ‘get out of jail free’ card.
13. When you open a can of whoop-ass, Chuck Norris jumps out.
14. There are no disabled people. Only people who have met Chuck Norris.
15. Aliens do exist. They're just waiting for Chuck Norris to die before they attack.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Story of Us.

Tomorrow is our ninth wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe it. Sometimes, it seems like it's all gone by in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, it seems like hubs and I have been loving each other forever. Life is weird that way, isn't it?

Since we began dating when I was a senior in high school, we have a long shared history together. I was looking through some old albums the other day (having your sweet little baby grow up on you will get you to doing that), and it kinda amazed me how long we've been in each other's lives. A quick photo depiction:

This is us shortly after we started dating. What babies we were! We took this at the photo booth in the mall. I'm sure that I used every ounce of girlish charm I had to convince hubs to wear an outfit that matched mine. We have a whole bunch of photos taken at this session, and I really cherish them.
This is us at my senior prom. I was wearing three-inch heels that night, which is why I'm almost as tall as him in the picture! We had a great time that night. He sang "Lady in Red" into my ear while we were dancing, and I nearly melted then and there.
We dated off and on through college (long distance - yuck). We decided to get married sometime during college, but we waited to make it official until we'd both graduated. I LOVE this shot of us at our wedding reception. I think it captures our relationship, and our personalities, really well.
We took a honeymoon cruise. This is us somewhere in the Carribbean, back when I had enough positive body image to bare my midriff. (Boy, THOSE were the days!) Hubs looks like a total All-American dreamboat in this pic.
Nerds in love!! A couple of years later, we went to Paris, mostly because I figured that Paris was where you went when you were young and smitten. Hubs had never ridden in a plane before this trip, and it definitely took some coaxing to get him on board. (Especially considering we went on this trip the March after the Sept. 11 attacks, which completely freaked hubs out. I had to promise him that we'd pack a pork sandwich in the carry-on and sling it in the face of any would-be terrorists. The idea here was that the terrorist, having now been defiled by forbidden meat, would then not be able to go straight to Allah after death. Now, what we would have done if any potential terrorists had NOT been Muslim? I don't know. Feed them lunch, I guess.)

This is us in Hawaii in late 2004. What I love about this pic is the story behind it. We'd had a LONG day that day. Our flight in had been delayed for several hours in L.A., and we were tired. But I'm the kind of traveler that doesn't want to spend a minute longer than I have to in my hotel room. Somehow, I talked hubs into going out for a quick bite to eat and a drink before turning in. Even though he didn't really WANT to, he came for me. And I think that this picture, snapped by a random waiter in the bar, is one of the best ones from our trip.
This is us in Arizona in late 2005, I think. (Are you noticing a pattern here? As I was looking back over the albums, I noticed that most of the pics of just the two of us were taken while on vacation. All the others have tons of folks in them - family, friends, etc. It seems that holidays and special occasions are crowded events in the Bradshaw household!) This was part of a vacation that took us to Phoenix, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is a wonderful place to go with someone you love. We stayed at one of the smaller lodges outside of the main village, and it was so peaceful and quiet there. In the evenings, we'd take little walks on the rim trail and see all kinds of wildlife. We'd sit at the lookouts out there and have the canyon all to ourselves at sunset, watching the condors twirl through the air below us.

Which brings us to today! I look at Clay all the time and notice how he's a perfect little combination of the two of us. I am positive that we are not the best parents around. We make mistakes all the time, get lazy, or just don't do as much as we could/should. But on the upside, we keep smiling and we keep enjoying one another and the life we've built together. And I don't guess anyone can ask for any more than that, can they?
Happy anniversary, sweetie!
P.S. I've already promised that for next year - the big 1-0 - we'll go to Vegas and renew our vows in a trashy ceremony officiated by a Star Trek character. And maybe witnessed by Elvis. I'm already practicing that Spock hand thing! Hee hee!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Derby Day!

I have always wanted to throw a Kentucky Derby party, mainly because I wanted an excuse to wear a big fancy hat and drink mint juleps and call it tradition. But the Derby is held in early May, an absolutely jam-packed time for me socially. (A million birthdays, Mother's Day, wedding anniversary, etc.) This year, I bit the bullet and finally got my butt in gear. Eight adults and three little people convened at our house on Saturday to eat huge amounts of food and bet on the ponies.

On the menu:
Ham with bourbon, molasses and pecan glaze (Yes, I totally went there.)
Tea biscuits
Shrimp dip with dippers (This was my mom's old recipe. Sooo bad for you, but sooo good.)
Deviled eggs (I made mine with just a teensy bit of shallot and some curry mixed in. IMHO, deviled eggs taste best when they are room temperature. It's always a challenge to set them out early enough to achieve room temperature but not so early that you give your guests food poisoning. Just sayin'.)
Kentucky Derby Pie (Sugar, flour, eggs, pecans, chocolate, vanilla, lots of butter, and maybe some bourbon. Just a little. Served with homemade whipped cream. Almost put bourbon in the cream, too, but thought that would be a little much.)
BIG fruit platter
Those awesome little cream puffs you can buy in the freezer section
Sweet tea
Mint Juleps (The Early Times recipe from the Kentucky Derby site. Really, REALLY strong. Had to water mine down a bit.)

Things were going swimmingly until I realized that the race wasn't starting until 5:30 p.m. Me? I thought it started at 4. I was hoping that the three tiny persons in attendance could maintain some semblance of good behavior until then. For the most part, I was in luck. Clay definitely had his whiny moments, but overall he did okay. (YAY!) The other two kids, naturally, were perfect angels. Must be nice . . .

At any rate, for the betting, we put all the horses' names in a hat, and we each drew a few names. (We wanted to make sure that every name was taken.) Each guest put some money in the pot, and we were off to the races. Hubs drew Dunkirk and Generals Quarters, and both of those horses had good odds. (I really was hoping we'd get to root for I Want Revenge. Sadly, the horse was scratched from the race at the last minute due to a hot leg.)

We were all surprised when Mine That Bird won at the last minute. (And confused. NBC was running a bunch of weather-related crud at the bottom of the screen, so we didn't even know who'd actually WON until a few seconds after the race ended.)

So Sandi walked off with the pot. With her grand total of $7 in winnings (We split the money between first, second, and third finishers.), she promised to buy herself some nachos at that night's Braves game.

Clearly, she hadn't eaten as much pie as I had!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Update on My 101

I've checked off four things recently. Because my life rocks.

101 things to do in 1001 days

Record family history (Create a family tree with my grandmother? Photos? Stories?)
Take Clay’s picture professionally at least once every 6 months
Make a will
Make a living will
Talk with Laura about Clay
Send a Christmas card to an estranged family member

Write to my grandmother
Attend services at three local churches
Volunteer in a way that’s meaningful to me
Go back to the gym – at least 3 times a week
Lose 10 pounds

Keep it off for 6 months
Train to run 3 miles without stopping
Try a yoga or pilates class
Go to the International Museum of Muslim Cultures
Go to the Smith Robertson Museum
Go to the Lauren Rogers Museum
Take an art class (pottery, painting, etc.)
Paint a picture
Learn to play at least one song on the guitar
Write a food article and get it published
Write at least one poem or short story
Paint the front porch swing
Tile the master bathroom
Plant some flowering shrubs in the back yard and DON’T let them die
Plant an herb garden
Fix the patio table - Okay, we didn't actually FIX the patio table so much as buy new one. But the old one wasn't really fix-able, so I'm considering this problem solved.
Get a window shade for the baby’s bedroom

Have an energy audit done on the house
Paint the shed in the back yard
Paint the inside of the garage
Take Clay swimming
Drink wine in California
Ride in a helicopter
Ride in a hot air balloon
Go to Graceland
Go to New York City
Create a “great books list” and start reading (at least 5 books)
Create a “great movies list” and start watching (at least 5 movies)
Treasure hunt on Highway 49
Host a New Year’s open house party
Host a “dinner among the leaves” party
Host an Easter brunch
Throw a Kentucky Derby party - Did this one today! A full report to follow . . .

Celebrate the Chinese New Year
Pay off the last of my student loan
Buy some sexy new underwear
Attend at least one live concert - Not only did I attend a concert, I got to meet one of my fave musicians. This one is definitely checked off.

Go the fall flower show/festival in Crystal Springs
Visit a botanic garden
Learn more about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict
Watch a meteor shower
Give blood
See snow
See the ocean
Adopt an Angel at Christmas
Go bowling
Pay for the person behind me in line
Do an anonymous good deed
Learn to bake a good loaf of bread
Go on a day hike
Write a letter to the editor of my local newspaper
Go on a vacation sans baby
Let Clay ride in the convertible with the top down
Perform in at least one stage production
Attend at least one Mensa meeting
Attend at least one college alumni event
Get back in touch with some of my college professors
Learn how to play poker
Learn how to shoot a decent game of pool
Make a real paella
Make a real sangria
Get a facial
Start taking vitamins again
Take mom to have her makeup done
Discover 5 new recording artists I really like and buy their CDs
Find a pair of sunglasses that will change my life
Find my signature fragrance
Take some pictures of leaves turning color in the fall
Set up and take some faux-tography shots of the baby
Write to Grace
Visit Grace in Oregon

Go on a picnic and eat food that I MADE, not food that I bought
Visit a dermatologist
Book a session with a personal trainer
Buy sheet music for a song I like and learn to play it on the piano
Learn to do a passable waltz
Bring the baby to visit my dad at work
Take a bubble bath
Light some candles just for us, when we DON’T have someone coming over
Make mint juleps and drink them on the front porch swing - Check! And the best part is that I have a little of the simple syrup I made left over, which means I get to do this more than once. Yay!

Go ice skating
Preserve Clay’s foot and hand prints
Attain APR accreditation
Buy or make Clay a kick-ass Halloween costume
Give a gift that I made.

Send someone flowers for no reason
Begin using my wine notebook again and identify at least three new wines that I like
Buy a birdfeeder and set it up in the back yard
Fix the broken window pane on the porch
Spend an afternoon lying in the hammock

First day of the challenge: January 1, 2008
Last day of the challenge: September 28, 2010