Saturday, December 24, 2011

Brentwood Busts

Here's your public service blog for any local readers.

The "live nativity" that Brenthaven Christian Church on Franklin Road is not what you might think, and definitely not worth your time.  I told Bradley we would get to see live animals with baby Jesus, counting on some cows and sheep, and hoping for a donkey and a camel.  What we got instead was a group of well- meaning church members dressed in Nikes and shepherds' robes, telling the story of the birth of Jesus in three stations, with wooden stand up animals, a fake fire pit for the shepherds, and a baby doll lying in a kid's crib as the manger.  "Where are the real animals?" Bradley asked.  "I don't know," I answered, thinking that perhaps at the final manger scene there would be the live farm animals.  Alas, it was not to be.

Some of the participants didn't even have their lines memorized, and the whole presentation lasted about 15 or 20 minutes.  I expected more out of a church in Brentwood.  So if any locals know of any live nativities that might be a little more realistic, I'm all ears.

The second Brentwood bust is the upscale Mexican restaurant Sopapilla's.  We went there last night for the first time to get together with some friends for Christmas, and while the food was excellent (albeit spicy) for the adults, this is NOT a kid-friendly restaurant.  The kid's bean & cheese burrito I ordered for Bradley was so spicy it brought him to tears, and after trying it myself, I can see why.  I pointed this out to the server at the end of the meal and told him that this was in no way acceptable for a child's menu item, and he remarked that another family had complained recently that the rice was too spicy, but that it must have been the beans after all.  This place needs to get with the program and alter their recipes if they are even going to bother to offer a children's menu.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pickle Things You Never See

My brother-in-law George wrote a paper a few years ago for college wherein he slightly elaborated our family's St. Nick's Day traditions.  According to him, we ate Pa's homemade cinnamon rolls, put up the tree while listening to Christmas carols, received our stockings, found the pickle on the Christmas tree, sipped hot cocoa by the fire, and watched Christmas Vacation that evening.  Hey, it was a great paper!
B with his ginormous stocking
George & Bradley with their Superman Pez
Dad with his kazoo from the Franklin Main Street toy store
While our St. Nick's Day was not quite that eventful, we still managed to pack it full.  After a long day of work, we congregated for dinner of mom's round steak, mashed potatoes, and sides.  After dinner we opened our stockings, and then George, Laura, and I hunted for the pickle on the tree.  This was the first year George has gotten in on the pickle action, so it was only fair that he should walk away with the itunes gift card prize for finding the pickle.



One of my favorite books as a kid was "Pickle Things," and one of the lines of the book reads, "Pickle things you never see like pickles on a Christmas tree."  I have this book out for B and it's one of the ones he can "read" from memory.  Obviously, the writers of this book were not German though, as they must not have had hidden a pickle ornament on their Christmas trees.

Full from dinner, and sampling treats from our stockings, we did what the Bradleys always do; we stuffed ourselves full by eating dessert of course!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kids' Christmas Concert

Tonight was Bradley's first-ever choir concert, and yes, I was way excited.  He's been attending BBC's KidLife program on Wednesday nights while I'm in choir rehearsal, and tonight was the fruit of a semester's worth of labor.  The 3-through- kindergarten kids performed 5 Christmas songs tonight.  It was a battle to even get out the door since the chosen attire for Bradley did not include comfy pants and t-shirts.  Our video we took was horrible, so the still shots will have to do.

This picture was taken during their practice- it's the closest he got to paying attention and participating all night.

For their performance, the kids wore party hats, in honor of Jesus' birthday.  Bradley used his as a toy/prop the entire time he was up front, most of the time, donning the unicorn look!
... or using it as a megaphone... though he's not the only one!

Where's Bradley?  Can you spot him sitting on the steps?  (the Only child sitting on the steps, I might add!)

I'm at a loss of what to do now.  I promised him an orange hat and gloves (his favorite color) if he sang "loud and proud," but since he didn't really do that, should I still reward him for just participating?  I mean, he did sing, it was just into and behind his party hat!  And anyways, I am proud of him for his performance tonight no matter what.  I look forward to many, many more of these concerts down the road.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

I don't like the Santa at Cool Springs Galleria, and I hate having to pay an arm and a leg for those pictures, so I resolved to find a free photo op this year for Bradley.  Look no further than mom & dad's neighborhood "Cookies with Santa" event this past weekend.  It was held at the clubhouse and was a BYOC event (bring your own cookies) while little cups of milk were provided.  There were also holiday-themed crafts, a guy making balloon animals, and of course, Santa Claus.

Just like the past two years, this was our first attempt at a picture with Santa:

And then after some cookies, a baloon laser gun, and making a candy cane ornament, we tried for round 2.  Bradley wanted to know where Santa's sleigh was, so we figured that a second attempt at a good picture with Santa would give B a chance to ask the Big Guy his pressing question.  
Much better!  Now these are photos I can live with, plus they were FREE.
And THIS is my money shot.  It fits perfectly with the song lyric of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas- "whisper what you'll bring to me, tell me if you can."
Oh yeah, and Santa's answer about the sleigh?  He left it at Walmart, he said! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Baking Day

After a brief hiatus from blogging, I've got plenty to post.  First up:  Baking Day.
 
On Saturday, mom, Laura & I spent ALL DAY in the kitchen making all kinds of Christmas cookies.  Every time mom lamented about how long she personally had been in the kitchen... 8 a.m., 7, 6:30 a.m.,  the time got earlier and earlier.  She has a flair for the dramatic- I don't know where on earth I get it from.

Here's me and B modeling our matching Elf aprons from St. Nick
 
Rolling out sugar cookies with Grandma B
Laura & I rolling out the Oreo truffles.  (Thank you Emily Borders- we still make these every year thanks to you!)
 
Look at this mess!  These are all our supplies.
Chef Laura making George's grandmother's spice cookie recipe.

Spice cookies and peanut butter cookies
 
A sampling of the finished product:  painted sugar cookies, spice cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate caramels, lemon bars, chocolate chip cookie bars, 7 layer cookies, pecan tartlets, Grandma Huber's sugar cookies (these were made last week), iced sugar cookies, Oreo truffles.  (not pictured:  chocolate covered pretzels.  We ran out of time before my choir concert and didn't make that many so I couldn't bear to part with any of them!). 

This plate went to my coworkers today and was gone in bout 15 minutes.  Another tray is going to daycare tomorrow, where, after doing the same thing last year, some of the ladies there have asked mom and me for an entire year when we're going to bake again!  They are going to be so excited, I think. 

I know I personally started in the kitchen around 9 a.m. on Saturday, and after my choir concert, I was back in the kitchen cleaning up til almost 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night.  It was well worth it though.  I'm a good sous chef if I do say so myself.  And you know what they say:  the family that bakes together stays gets fat together!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Name that Soprano

Whilst decorating the Christmas tree this week in our monogrammed Santa hats, and listening to the Traditional Christmas music station through our cable provider, a grandiose Christmas carol orchestration, sung by my musical idol, Julie Andrews, came on the TV.  We asked Bradley to go listen and tell us who was singing.  This was primarily done to distract him while we hung ornaments, since his short attention span cared nothing for hanging ornaments, and more towards innately scouting out the breakable ornaments from the boxes and playing with them.  Imagine how my heart swelled with pride when B shouted "Mary Poppins!" a few seconds later.  I scooped him up and covered his cheeks with kisses, so elated was I that he could recognize her soprano timbre, especially after not having watched that movie in a long, long time.
 
He also thought the "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas" child's singing voice was Annie, which I found amusingly accurate.
 
*I hope you've enjoyed reading the (almost) daily blog posts during the NaBloPoMo.  Now I can relax a little more at night and make more time for reading The Omnivore's Dilemma without the self-inflicted pressure of blogging every day.  I know that several other readers of this blog have read this book too, so I can't wait to finish it and discuss it with you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fancy Schmancy Fountain Drinks

A recent trip to Firehouse Subs outside of Birmingham resulted in Laura and I enjoying the most satisfying fountain drink ever.  After this trip, Laura & I couldn't stop gushing at how cool the high tech touch screen fountain drink machine was.

Approaching the drink machine, I wasn't even certain how to work the thing!  They had a sign posted next to the machine that I read aloud dutifully, probably causing the other restaurant patrons to really think we were some country bumpkins.  How sad is it that we had to go to Alabama to see the Coca-Cola Freestyle? (That's what it's called so says Wikipedia.)  Do these machines exist in Nashville?  If so, I've never seen one.

Here's how it works: you push your cup in for the ice, and then touch the screen to select one of 120 different kinds of drink combinations!  Laura got a Dr. Pepper, but then that opened up into an entirely new menu where there were diet options, cherry, raspberry, vanilla- even orange flavored Dr. Pepper if you so chose.  She opted for the cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper.  I pushed the button to get a Coke, and selected a cherry Coke Zero from my myriad of choices.

Yeah, I know.  As I re-read what I wrote I realize it sounds like I really am a country bumpkin, fascinated by the big fancy drink machine.  What can I say?  I'm easily amused.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Elf & the pink tree on the shelf

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and it isn't even December yet!  Today's obligatory blog post is brought to you by the new Christmas decorations that are gracing the Bradley household.  Last year I was too bummed out to even think about decorating, and seeing as how most of my stuff is still in boxes, Mom surprised me with a new 4 foot tall tree that I got to decorate as my pink tree this year.  I think it looks beautiful, and I smile every time I look at it.

This is my craft fair find- a knock off- and personalized- Elf on the Shelf.  Way cheaper than the $30 to $40 I would have paid.  This little guy will get moved from spot to spot and report back to Santa daily whether Bradley's been naughty or nice.  The personable (Not!) lady at the craft's fair even left room to add other kids names, if Lord willing, Bradley were ever to have those brothers and sisters he's always talking about!
The Elf needs a name, though.  Any brilliant ideas readers?
 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Longest drive ever

After the longest weekend ever, today I had the longest day/drive ever.  Dad and I left the house at 8:30 a.m., and 12 hours later, at 8:30 p.m. we finally made it back home, with Bradley in-tow.

Highlights from today included:

  • Rain nonstop, literally
  • Heaviest traffic I have ever driven in for a length of time
  • Seeing downtown Calera, AL for the first time
  • Seeing downtown Calera, AL for the second time
  • Enjoying some yummy albeit overpriced pecan ice cream in Clanton, AL
  • Picking B up much later than anticipated, and getting a much later start back home
  • Seeing downtown Calera, AL for the third time (I laughed at this... it was too soon for dad to appreciate the irony)
  • Trying our darndest to catch this T-pain song on the XM radio countdown and missing it by minutes every single time we got in and out of the car
  • Yes, dad is listening to T-Pain these days
  • Not one opportunity for cruise control on the drive back
  • What is up with all the inconsiderate drivers on the road who camp out in the left lane while traffic passes them on the right?!
  • A short stop in Pelham to see Aunt Peggy, complete with food, funny stories about Uncle Jack, and remembering Lana's comment about wanting to collect something after seeing Aunt Peggy's teapots
  • Hearing Bradley shout "Mommy" and seeing his ear to ear grin
So... incredibly... thankful to be home.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The longest weekend ever

This has felt like an eternity of a weekend.  Usually that'd be a good thing, but since I haven't seen Bradley since Wednesday, I am doing cartwheels that I can pick him up tomorrow finally.  He seems like he's been having a good time down in Florida, so that has made it easier on me.  Plus I have stayed really busy, mainly eating and shopping.  The weekend was memorable in many ways, though, so I thought I'd list the highlights so we could remember and laugh as part of our Thanksgiving story heritage:
  • OMG, folks
  • Slap 'er down again, Pa
  • I have a saying:  don't open one syrup until you finish the other
  • It's 5 o'clock in the morning
  • Dance party in the living room
  • Zombieland/Elf
  • The 3 hour Walmart excursion
  • UK finally beat UT after 26 years
  • My first vegetarian Turkey Day
  • Cranium Bluedles
And of course, we had to put Russell & the Mrs. into compromising poses throughout Thanksgiving day and send them to family:
The whipped cream bikini was Laura's idea.  I added the touch of cream to Russell's mouth.  I did decorate some for Christmas this weekend, but I don't want to give away the farm with one post!  Yall come back now, ya hear?
Hope you and your family/friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Or as I like to call it...

Best quote from last week's episode of New Girl:


Nick: We're just gonna watch football, drink beer, and then we're going to Best Buy later for Black Friday.
Winston: Or as I like to call it, Friday.


Unfortunately, I was one of the crazy people that went to Walmart on Thanksgiving night, which turned into a 3 hour adventure that lasted into the wee hours of Black Friday.


Sure, I got some good deals, but that store was such a nightmare cluster at the checkout line that I would never, ever go there again on Thanksgiving night.


That's right, I said never ever.  Please remind me of this next year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Zip Zip

So as not to turn this blog into a sad-sack virtual therapy site for yours truly, I thought I'd lighten the mood and share a quirky Thanksgiving tradition that has developed over the years between me and my friend Rhonda Lu. 
One of our favorite movies is the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic romantic comedy, You've Got Mail.   There is a scene in the film where Meg Ryan's character rushes through the "cash only line" in order to avoid Tom Hanks' character.  Of course, "she has no cash," so Tom Hanks has to bail her out.  Rose, the checker, you will notice, is Dr. Callie Torrez, pre-Grey's Anatomy.  Tom Hanks coerces Rose into saying "Happy Thanksgiving," which with her Hispanic accent comes out "Appy Thanksgeeving Back."
Every year Rhonda Lu and I will call/email/Facebook/text this quotable line to one another on Turkey Day.  It's like a game to see who remembers first.  So Happy Thanksgiving, dear blog readers.  Now it's your turn.  Say Happy Thanksgiving, back...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Heavy Hearted

The old heart is heavy tonight, my friends.  Tomorrow I'm taking Bradley to spend Thanksgiving with his dad.  It will be the first holiday that I'm away from B, and the first time I'll know the feeling of my empty house without him here in it with me.  I keep starting and stopping so many other sentences in my head, so instead I think I'll just leave it at that.  If you think of us tomorrow, please pray for us.  Pray that Bradley has a good weekend, pray for safe travel for all of us each way, and pray that I would rest in the peace that it is God who ultimately protects my child, and not me as a parent, and that He has our lives in His hands.

Such are the realities of divorced families, and living with the consequences of our choices.   

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mr. Independent

Bradley is way more independent these days, able to go potty by himself (with the exception of a little help in the TP department, post-BM), able to get in and out of his booster seat at the table, squirts his own Little Noses in his nose when he's stuffy, takes his plate and cup to the sink when he's done eating, puts his dirty clothes in the hamper at night, and can get himself dressed and undressed.  The shirts on and off still trip him up from time to time, but overall, this is a fun age.  He is so proud of all the things he is able to do all by himself.  It's become a game for us.  He will tell me that he can't do something, and when I offer to help, he hurries and performs the task, smiling proudly, as if to show me, "see, I don't really need any help, I was just fooling you!"  It's adorable.
 
I am constantly scurrying around last minute, always running 5 or 10 minutes late and gathering our items to leave the house at the 11th hour.  Bradley being able to go potty while I'm finding his shoes is a big help.  Sometimes though, I can get frustrated that I'm running late, and will do things for him to save time.  I'll put his shoes on for him, for example, because I can do it so much faster than he can.  This is something I am trying to work on, though.  It's more important that he is able to (and allowed to) do things for himself than it is for me to be out the door a nanosecond sooner. 
 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New 'Do

If you'll scroll back to last weekend, you'll notice my long, heavey, scraggly hair.  It was time for a change.  Thanks to the lovely Melanie at Studio FX I am now bouncier, and healthier!
I still hate my bangs, though.  They are the bane of my existence.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Must See TV

Until basketball season really gets rolling and UK repeatedly claims the prized ESPN Super Tuesday slot, Tuesday is my big TV watching night.  I make time for sports, and a few select shows, and Glee, Parenthood, and New Girl, all happen to fall on Tuesday night.  (Thank goodness for DVR and on demand!)

Glee is in its third season, and while it started out strong, I feel like it's gotten weaker and weaker each season.  Though this week's episode was a lot of fun and back to the "old Glee" style, if things don't pick up, I'll be saying arrivederci!

Parenthood makes me laugh and cry every week, and I can't help but notice the striking similarities between my life and Sarah's, although I hope I'm not as annoying as her character is!

The surprise favorite of the year though is New Girl staring Zooey Deschanel.  I laugh out loud every week, and feel like the show is just starting to hit its stride now that the characters have been established.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Triumvirate of Terms

I consider myself a self-proclaimed Grammarphile, and both a lover/hater of the English language.  Yesterday was a day chock-full of words that inspired strong reactions from me, both in the positive and negative sense.  Twice I came across the word "specificity," and upon reading it aloud in my head I determined the first time it crossed my path that it was decidedly a favorite word of mine.  When I came across it the second time in the same day but in an entirely different setting, it was like déjà vu all over again.  Specificity reared it marvelous head first in an online sports article, and once in a letter I was preparing for work.  While these two venues seem completely different, I rationalize that it was two different attorneys who penned the "specificities" and thus, perhaps, it's just your run-of-the-mill legalese.
 
Later in the day, I came across the word "Moisten."  It's no secret I abhor the word "moist," so I tried "moisten" on for size.  As it rolled around in my head, I pondered, "hmm, another version of the same word I detest.  Do I hate this one as well? ...  Yep."  So I will not be "moistening" anything.  Some acceptable synonyms if you need to use them are wet, moisturize, dampen (or lick, if we're talking about stamps) but moisten is absolutely not okay in my book.
 
The third word that crossed my path yesterday was in another sports article - perhaps in the same one penning specificity?  I can't recall - I read a lot of sports articles yesterday.  The phrase that caught my attention was "the cloak of anonymity."  Now if that isn't fun to say, then I don't know what is.
 
Anonymity:  what I should strive for after bearing my soul about my feelings towards the English language, lest my friends and family think I have some serious issues!  
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

With the next presidential election less than a year away, the Republican nomination is still up for grabs, and all you people can come up with is THIS guy??!! (No need to watch the whole thing- the first minute will suffice.)

The Republicans might as well have Her as the candidate:

Or better yet, why not bring back former Tennessee governor candidate, Basil Marceaux??


No worries here, says the bleeding heart liberal!  

Monday, November 14, 2011

iLessons & iLaughs

My mom's phone died, so she recently upgraded to the iPhone.  Aside from the obvious necessaries, like how to answer a phone call (which is still a work in progress, by the way), she spent a nice chunk of our ladies' night learning new apps (a pointless funny ap that makes you have a helium voice & a coupon app called GeoQpons) and tricks, like tapping the home button twice to bring up a menu of all aps running at the bottom of the screen, and closing the ones you aren't using to save the battery life, from my aunts and cousins, who are already iPhone-savvy.

I am keenly interested in watching and learning, too, because I am counting down the days til I can purchase my own iPhone (December 27th!), so I spent part of the car trip to Evansville playing with mom's new toy phone.

Back story:  every year mom attends Christmas Village, a huge crafts fair where tons of vendors come to sell their wares.  She sees some of the same vendors every year, including a bakery based in Haubstadt, Indiana.  They ran out of the rolls she always gets, so I was trying to google Haubstadt on the iPhone on our way to Evansville to see how close it is.  Turns out, it's really close.

I anounced to mom that I had found Haubstadt on the map, and I further exclaimed that I had found the bakery on the map (mind you, I had no idea the name of the place)- "how cool is this?  I found the bakery- it's the um, Little Haubstadt Bakery!"  I laughed, thinking that would blow my cover.  "Really?"  A gullible mom answered.  I definitely gave her a hard time about that one. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shenanigan's

We went to Evansville yesterday, hence the lack of blog post, for a small sort of family get-together. There was no real occasion, but we drove up to stay with Michael & Missy, and went out last night for pizza at Turoni's, a local pizzeria and microbrewery.  The kids stayed at the house with a babysitter, so we actually all got to have a fun relaxing evening.

Bradley  & Addie
 We had to take 2 cars from the house, so the guys went on ahead to put our name on the list and get us a table, and the women got the kids settled with the babysitter, and left a few minutes later.  It was mom's idea to stop someplace along the way and see how long it took the guys to call asking where we were!  
Sisters, mom & Lisa
Good thing we stopped at this place, beccause not too much longer, we got texts saying the wait was an hour and forty-five minutes, so we took our time and let the guys stand around and wait on the table!  "Oh yes it's Ladies Night!  Oh, what a night!"  we sang.  The guys didn't believe us when we said that we had stopped at Deerhead's, so we had our server take a picture of us toasting the camera.  The guys in turn sent back their own statement via photo, and let's just say they were none too pleased to be standing around in a crowded restaurant while we made our pit stop!
Missy, Whitney, and me
We finally got to Turoni's and all ten of us got seated in this huge booth, where we proceeded to eat, drink and be merry, and the pictures prove it.
Jerry pretending to drink the pitcher
A sign above our table
There's always a Nashville connection!
Mom, Lisa, Dad, and Ryan
Whitney, Missy, Michael, Jerry, Me, and Eric

 Oh, and James Franco even made an appearance!
It was a short trip, but so many memories were made in such a short visit.  Shenanigan's!

Friday, November 11, 2011

My own Penned Statement

Jerry Sandusky's autobiography is aptly named... wait for it... Touched.

I swear, you can't make this stuff up.

On a more serious note, I haven't read the grand jury indictment, and I don't think I'm going to, given the purported graphic nature of it, so could someone please explain to me why the former grad assistant (and eye witness to key events) is still allowed to be on the coaching staff for Penn State?  Otherwise, it seems like the school has done a good job and wiped out all the head honchos who were part of this ghastly cover-up.