Monday, May 11, 2015

Glimpses of Our New Life

We don't have good answers as to *why* we move. . .just "why not?".  Moving is an adventure for me -- a way to explore different places without having to "go home" because, well, the new place IS home!!!

We are still where we were 8 weeks ago and our Cookeville house is still on the market.  I don't know if where we are is what we anticipated when we moved in mid-March or not.  The kids have adjusted exceedingly well. . .we are amazed at their resiliency.  After today, they have 7.5 schools days left!!!  This quarter has certainly flown.  I have had the opportunity to volunteer at both schools for teacher luncheons and at the middle school another day for a "special treat" day. . .basically scoop Italian Ice for grades 6-8 as they left lunch.  I didn't realize how large their school was until I went in -- I know the 6th grade has five teams of teachers!!  Their PTSA is very active so hopefully I'll get to continue to serve in some capacity.  I liked doing the teacher lunch at the High School too. . .I'm not ready to jump in there yet, although the place will be full of Bells before we know it!

The following are mostly Pictures of the Day from Facebook. . .just random glimpses of "life lately" for those that are curious (and for me to look back one day and say. . ."oh I remember that!" -- ha).

This actually was a picture from our goodbye luncheon at church that I didn't include in my Goodbyes post.  Thomas has such a super, great, terrific group of friends there and luckily keeps in touch with them.  We've been able to go back to church 3-4 times since we left (we have yet to be in our new town on a Sunday since we moved!).  I sincerely hope, that as these boys move on in life, that they continue their friendship across the miles and maybe even end up in a town together again.

We spent Easter in Cookeville since there were things that needed to be done there and we didn't really have a church to go to in our new town.  Frederick also had soccer games that Saturday so it just made sense to go "home".  It was one of the most anti-climatic holidays we've ever spent. . .truthfully, one month later, I can't even remember what we did for dinner. . .wow.  It's just one of those "family" holidays and we were a family of 6 on the road, between homes, and just treated it as such -- together, probably finding a place that was open or picking up food at the grocery and eating "picnic style" at home. . .I know I didn't cook ;)
At least we all looked good!

Does anyone else struggle with getting everyone happy at the same time??
Our dear friends down the street had us over to share one of their Easter traditions on Saturday night.  Usually her parents do an "adults" egg hunt in the dark. . .but they moved this year so we just made it a kids' egg hunt instead.  There were 3 Golden Eggs with $5 and $10 bills. . .I was in charge of filling eggs with $30 in change -- yes, there was one with 30 pennies! -- and Rene did the big bills and candy eggs.

Only the youngest four went on the hunt. . .the adults hid all the eggs outside after dark and they took their flashlights and bags/buckets once the signal was given :)  


These two didn't participate, but they had a good time watching and "helping" the youngest (much to the other three's dismay. . .)
 Their loot -- much more fun than Trick-or-Treating (in my opinion)!!!




 Mostly our weekends are filled with soccer, soccer, and more soccer.  The weather finally dried out and they all got some playing time in.  Thomas has been a ref at most of the tournaments that the younger ones have been in. . .Marie's team, although with great promise, didn't make the state tournament this year.  They did, however, come within one point of winning the Brentwood Tournament this weekend!!!
 Yea, trying to get them to all look at the camera at the same time. . .a super way to end the season!!  Here is her coach, still coaching and giving advice. . .Marie is certainly going to miss him and her special teammates.

















There has been LOTS of soccer-playing going on around here. . .(well, not around HERE, but other places -- ha!  LOTS of traveling)

Margaret (on left) walking off the field with one of her teammates. . .this must have been in the colder part of the early season. . .

Margaret again, with one of her favorite friends. . .Margaret does in the back what A does in the front :)  They are both perfect in their positions!
Frederick plays the same position as Margaret -- back defender.  They are both very, very good at it.

(I am just randomly picking pictures off my phone) - Here is Thomas reffing a tournament. . .he's done a lot of these long weekends this year.  The pay is great!  But it *is* hard work. . .
Marie.  She has the *most* love and drive for the game :)  I only got to see her play twice this season because of weather and schedule conflicts with the others.  Hopefully she'll make the high school team in the fall and I'll get to see lots of her on the pitch then!

Other random pics from my phone:
After-school drinks with Cookeville friends!
(We had soccer practice Thursday night and I let the middle school kids take Friday "off" from school to stay in Cookeville and visit their old school.)  I enjoyed catching up with people too -- it was a whirlwind of a day for sure!  Luckily my dad had come into town too to help shuffle kiddies around. . .
Marie meeting up with friends during a weekend soccer game -- the one in the middle lives in the town they were playing in and attends Cedar Lake Camp with Marie too.  Her teammate is also from that town so they were a fun threesome.  (I, of course, wasn't there but one of the moms takes care of me and snaps these pictures so I don't miss out!)
Margaret and Frederick enjoying a warm afternoon in the pool after school. . .
I'm going to miss her long hair and full backpack when she goes back to cheer in the fall. . .
Tom says our grass has never looked better. . .he's worked so hard on that lawn for the past 8 years!
Getting some touches in on a beautiful evening in April. . .
 Margaret's favorite place to go when we are out together -- I *love* their peach green tea lemonade.  I have figured out a "good enough" copy-cat version here at home.
Super-concentrated green tea (made in my iced tea maker -- this is a double batch), 1 t. peach syrup, and 1 T of this lemonade concentrate.  It's missing the ginger from SB but this is close enough for me (I even shake it as SB advertises!).

One morning Thomas begged to stay home to study because there was an assembly or something going on at school that he wasn't interested in.  He really did work on schoolwork and the dog. . .well. . .this is pretty much her *every* morning. . .and evening. . .and, let's be honest, afternoon.  She is living up this "I'm allowed on this sofa" thing.

And our Number 24. . .I did get to see most of his games this season but now it's post-season so he's just out there to support his team.
I had Date Night with Frederick one night recently. . .I think Thomas had a game and the girls and Tom were in Cookeville for soccer practice.  Noodles & Co. is his favorite-always-requested place to go. . .I like their Chinese Chicken salad!
Teacher appreciation gifts this year. . .pretzels and M&M's in (hopefully) re-usable containers.  We put their teacher's names on them and filled them up.  Margaret had to be "different" and did mason jars and wanted her pretzels dipped in chocolate. . .those turned out cute too (but I don't think I got pictures of that final product). . .
And lastly, (this is SO random), a dog park that Thomas and I discovered one night when everyone else was in Cookeville for soccer practice.  Chelsea was able to finally run free for awhile.  It's been very difficult for us (and I'm sure her too) to keep her on a leash at all times.  She wore herself out here!!!

So. . .days at home "keeping house", grocery shopping, getting to have lunch with Tom every day, taking the kids to the bus stop in the mornings, working out, taking the dog on walks during the day, making dinner every night, applying for jobs in my new county, keeping up with lists and to-do's, working on my mom's "Nashville Weekend" book, house hunting (that is a conversation and solid part-time job in itself!), and actually watching a little Netflix just because I can. . .this is a great adventure, a much-needed "pause", a luxury in my life at this time.  I snapped "A Day in the Life" pictures today. . .let's see if that post ever gets written -- haha!

This was my picture of the day yesterday. . .blessed beyond anything I could have ever dreamed for myself. . .
Mother's Day 2015






Friday, April 24, 2015

Nashville!

My mom, sister, brother, and I met in Nashville for my mother's 64th birthday a few weeks ago -- it was her Christmas gift from us!
My mom and sis flew in in style!!!  We have a good friend who is a pilot and after my sister thought about a 6-hr trip one way, with possible Friday traffic, a 1.5 hop in a 4-seater sounded SOOOOOOO much better!!  Our mother is not a "flyer" so it was so happy to get a smiling picture of them before take-off :)

My brother flew in from Florida -- but he took the commercial route (Jodi's and my Christmas gift to him) ;)

First stop:  Franklin Tennessee and Puckett's Grocery

Years ago, a blogger that's in my sidebar, Alison Stephens, posted about their trip to Nashville and going to Puckett's as a family.  I have wanted to go ever since!!!

Brad and Mom both made it through their flights -- cocktails for them!!!
 Or maybe it was a birthday drink ;)






 Jodi and I shared the very best breakfast -- Texas Two Step 
"A cornbread waffle and slow-smoked brisket hash with peppers and onions, served with a side of home fries. Topped with a fried egg. Yeehaw!"
I think we'd go back just for that again.


Time to SHOP!!  If you don't know, Franklin, TN is a great little town to shop in.  My sister, mom, and I went in-and-out of stores for a couple of hours.  At first it was just to get warm (the end of March in the middle of Tennessee and it was probably 40 degrees and rainy - ugh) but then we got into the "spirit" of it all.  Mom purchased a top right away. . .then we started finding little gifts for the kiddos. . .and Brad was an excellent sport (even taking a picture of us!).  He decided we needed a drink after all this walking and shopping so he took us here:


We had no idea what to expect. . .turns out, it's a 3-story building that has been there since Reconstruction.  Our waiter was very knowledgeable about the building, its history, and the types of alcohol bought and served there.  

Because I'm a nerd, I decided to look up some of the history of this building and it is neat!  Find a re-cap here.  (And I just learned that the person who bought and revitalized this building is the same person who owns Puckett's -- I love people/businesses that invest in their communities!!)




Cheers to Mom -- the birthday celebration continues!

Brad's drink, on the right, was some complicated brandy that I actually really liked.  Our waiter brought it to the table to prepare -- he set the base on fire and then poured the brandy. . .it was an interesting bartending lesson.


A photo of the bar on the third floor
It was finally late enough to check in to our downtown Nashville hotel.  Jodi had made us early dinner reservations so we needed to get back, clean up and head out to eat again.  Whew.  This is a post you might want to tag and refer back to if you're ever in the Nashville area and want some good food. . .we ate, and ate, and ate. 


BB Kings is another local landmark -- and now we know why :)  I have walked down this street many, many times without knowing the magic behind these doors.

Because it was early, the foot traffic was light. . .by the time we left a couple hours later, it was crowded.  The street was packed -- obviously people drive through town but they weren't moving very fast.  I've been in Nashville a few times at night and always forget how loud, noisy, and FUN it is!!



















After dinner (ribs for Brad and Mom, a salad for Jodi, and pulled pork for me) we headed downtown to find some live music!  We ended up finding a great place in the first or second stop:
These guys were good and Jodi even got my brother up to dance. . .
All he kept commenting on was how tall she was (look at his tennis shoes -- when all around him are cowboy boots!).  My brother and I got the "short" genes. . .

My phone died at the bar :(

My sister was asked to dance by another gentleman and it was FUN to watch -- he was very good (so is she, but even she commented that it's easy to look good when your partner knows his moves).  And, much to my sister's disappointment, I never left the table for any dances. . .that's no surprise to anyone who knows me. . .







I'm so sorry my phone died here because WE WEREN'T DONE YET!!!  We really wanted to take my mother to a dueling piano bar, The Big Bang.
 It wasn't quite the packed that night, but we did have to wait for a seat -- it was worth it though because we were right up front.

Brad requested "any Ben Folds song" for Mom's birthday -- so Cyndy got *another* birthday shout-out (wish my phone hadn't died!!!) and this played for her:

Are you exhausted??  Yes, we were too :)
We needed to take a cab back to the hotel since the complimentary shuttle service was busy and the streets were too crowded to get to us!

So it was NO FUN to wake up to drums (yes, drums) beating outside our hotel room window -- we were on the 6th floor -- at 7 a.m.  Ugh.
Protesters.
Yea, that was a tough wake-up call.  I did feel sorry for the front desk -- I don't know how many rooms were on that side of the building but the phones and angry guests kept them hopping up there.  My sister, ever the super motivator, used this time to go to the workout room "because it is quiet there".  She's so very disciplined. . .I went too. . .but you can't compare :)  Had I been in that hotel alone, I would have never known there *was* a workout room -- ha!

We had planned an early lunch at The Pharmacy. . .the night before, when we dropped Mom and Brad off in their room we said we'd like to leave at 10:30 a.m. because it's a popular place and we wanted to get there when it opened.  After the protester thing (that woke them up too) they went back to sleep and weren't ready when I went down to their room to get something at 10:15.  Ack!  Mom would have loved it, but Brad (I guess being a guy and everything) was able to pull it together and meet us in time to drive out there:



You can see the line in the window!!  I dropped my sister off at the door and my brother and I found a place to park. . .by the time we got up there the doors were opening.










They are certainly efficient -- when we got in to the back room all the tables were all set up and ready to go -- even the ice water was out!
The menu is *awesome*


Needed to start the day with a pint!
We opted for an egg cream
 Oldest-middle-little




Yes, my sister and I shared this. . .and demolished it!!!  So, so good.  Brad had a burger too and tried their tater tots - something else I guess they're "famous" for.  (That's bacon, egg, AND cheese on our burger by the way -- I'm sure no one who knows Jodi believes that she ate it, but she did!!!)

Puckett's was my contribution to the weekend, but all the other great food places my sister picked out -- I want to go on vacation with her again!!!  She certainly knows how to research her food :)

Well, since Brad was *still* complaining about Jodi being taller than him when they danced the night before, we decided he needed some heels.  Luckily we were in Nashville and could help him out with that. . .




 It took some a little persuading on our part but HE DID IT!!!
Jodi also treated herself :)

Hey, Kris, he's looking taller now!
Yep, the suit him well
We had looked up some things to do and came upon Barbara Mandrell's mansion, the Fontanel.  It got good TripAdvisor reviews so we headed out that way.  What a great choice!!!  We were a little early for our tour so we stopped at Prichard's Distillery.  They had a tasting menu. . .


So we all had a few little tastes :)

 And a tour of the distillery.  Pretty impressive.
















Really, you should check out the Fontanel if you have a chance. . .this was our tour guide at the house.  I would say we were there a good 1-1.5 hours.  (This home is 27,000 square feet!!)  The guides seem to all be musicians who have an interest in not only giving us a tour with the history behind the design. . .
Front entry introduction
. . .but also perform for us.  He said many do. . .some even get behind the Jerry Lee Lewis-commissioned grand piano to perform!

This is a picture from one of the balconies of the indoor pool (no longer used so covered in plexiglass).

Our tour guide performed ON the pool -- he said the glass room made for good acoustics.  

 It was a beautiful, sunny, day so the three of us headed outside for a mother-daughter picture.

And. . .there was also a winery on the property that we stopped at for a tasting after the tour:
This is one place we *didn't* eat at -- ha!  The menu looked wonderful though.


I think we were allowed 4 tasting choices (?).  We all chose different tastings so we could try one anothers. . .this is obviously mine since I don't like red.



Jodi ended up buying a couple of bottles. . .one for her husband and one for her pilot :)  I bought Tom a jar of wine jelly. . .it is definitely a different choice but actually pretty good.



Then we headed back over to Prichard's and bought some liqueur for Mom and myself for a treat down the road.  They also had "sample" bottles and we got a few of those for Brad and us to enjoy that evening.








Again, that evening, Jodi had a reservation for us at another local spot -- Party Fowl


It was an interesting place. . .the kitchen was downstairs (the stairs were pretty much right behind Brad in this picture) -- I couldn't imagine being a server here and how many times they go up and down those stairs each shift!!!

The bar area was to the right of the table that we were sitting. . .
And their drink menu was pretty unique:
Jodi had the SMOKED MARGARITA
Rancho Alegre Repesado Tequila, Agave Nectar, Fresh Lime Juice, Smoked in house (Add daily fresh fruit $2)…it’s smoked in Tennessee!
And I tried the 
  • BLACK MULE

    Tenn South Black Mule Vodka, Ginger Beer, and Fresh Lime Juice
Mine was a little spicy (for me -- it was the ginger) and Jodi's was good but I think I prefer my margaritas in a Mexican restaurant ;)















This place is known for it's Hot Chicken.  Even though I have lived in middle Tennessee for almost 9 years, I had only heard about this local fare. . .never tried it :)

We started with a Fried Onion Loaf that was so good. I don't think the four of us were able to finish it -- ha!  I liked how they served everything on small baking sheets -- unique and easy to beat up and still use.
 I chose the Hot Chicken Po' Boy with Piggy Chips (bacon-fried potato chips -- it was a lot of grease in one sitting!) and Jodi had the Herbed Chicken Paillard.  Mom and Brad both ordered friend chicken. . .because, hey. . .you're in the South, you might as well!
Jodi's and my meals turned out great.  I got to share mine again (thank goodness -- I could NEVER have eaten it all!) with Mom because she and Brad just hated their chicken.  Jodi shared her salad with Brad. . .it really ended up being a win-win because then we got two desserts and shared those too!!!
(side note:  the manager apologized about the fried chicken meals and offered a certificate -- but we never got it)
After dinner Jodi really wanted to take us to another special place she had previously discovered on a trip to Nashville the year before.  Unfortunately, after waiting about 45 minutes with not many people being called back (we were #11 or something on the list) we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.
You would think that we would be tired. . .but. . .when we're all together with no kids, spouses, distractions. . .we find energy :)
We had bought some things to mix with our samples we had purchased earlier in the day (and some stuff that we had brought) and sat in the hotel lobby in a little nook area with the seating area and television to ourselves.  We visited, watched Saturday Night Live. . .just enjoyed being together.














And this is when I was sorry that I didn't buy a bottle of Prichard's Peach Rum:


 Look at us. . .feet up. . .half-watching television. . .half-reminiscing. . .
I was going through photos on my phone to show Mom some recent shots of the kids and our life in TN. . .
My teaching team member and myself on "superheros" day

Look how TALL he is!!

One of the kids' favorite things to do. . .Starbucks!!!


It didn't end up being an "early" night but as usual, when sharing a room with my sister, it's *always* an early morning -- ha!  She headed down to the gym again (I didn't go this time) and then came back and said, "let's go for a walk".  Of course, that's what most vacationers do at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. . .of COURSE.  But I was happy to have that time with her.  We walked over to the Vanderbilt campus -- it is beautiful!!
She took some pictures. . .




 Funny enough, we ended up in the dining hall and decided it looked good and we were hungry.  That was SUCH a good choice for us!
The students were a diverse mix. . .what really stood out to us was how polite everyone was.  All the students standing in line with me, when asked a question by the lady making our made-to-order omelets, answered with a "yes ma'am/no ma'am" and "please would you. . .?"

So incredibly refreshing to be on a college campus, on a Sunday morning, with so many active, polite young adults.  I told Jodi we need to send our kids there just because they will pick up good habits!!



This was my meal and my price!!!  It was delicious :)
Yes. . .finally. . .we come to the end of our weekend.  We headed back to the hotel and although we had *just* eaten, we passed by a place that Jodi remembered a friend mentioning as a "have to try" place.  We decided that we would talk Mom and Brad into going before heading to the airport and that we would just sit and visit.

THIS PLACE -- CAN'T WAIT FOR A REASON TO GO TO NASHVILLE WITH THE KIDS AND TAKE THEM HERE!!!

I'm so glad Jodi's friend mentioned it, we walked by it, and we went (and yes, she and I both ended up with a taco -- ha!)
You walk in and there is a l-o-n-g row of menus to fill out:


Then you go up to the cashier and give them your order forms, pay, and get your drink (it's the little things. . .but they had fresh lemons AND limes out for your drinks).
You get to choose whether to sit inside or out -- we had a little "talking into" to get Mom and Brad outside because it was still chilly. . .but oh-so-sunny!!!


Jodi caught someone to get a pic of the four of us -- realized at this point that at no time had we done this!!!
Mom-middle-youngest-oldest

So. . .although it's taken a month to get all the pictures and words together, it is a memory that will last forever.  We already are speaking in "next time" terms -- yea!

We dropped Brad off at the Nashville International Airport, then drove to Lebanon to meet Mom & Jodi's plane.  It was a terrific landing for a windy day:
 Luckily, he brought along his experienced co-pilot:

Captain Kilby offering a full-service flight :)


  And they were OFF.  Unfortunately, the weather heading back to Ohio was less-than-ideal and it might be awhile before Mom gets back on a plane. . .they literally just landed before the skies opened up.  We are all so tired of rain this year.

I got back to Cookeville in time to see the second half of Marie's game and snap a Picture of the Day of these three:
It was windy and cold there too (look at Grandpa Fred's earmuffs!) but the sun was out and Marie was playing soccer so all was well with the world :)

Next time I'll try not to write a book. . .

Love,
Jenni