I Love Nashville

I just love my city.

I’ve posted before about how my kids have napped beside the kids of country music stars at preschool. Well, yesterday I bravely entered the armpit of Bellevue (aka the Bellevue branch library) with the two boys. Again, they were begging for a Scooby-Doo book. I figured I could maneuver the online catalog pretty quickly and decided I would take my chances on the initation of Armageddon if they were to run wild while I was scrolling through the library catalog.

I had just located a S-D book when a little girl walked up to us. I recognized her and her mom. She remembered my boys from preschool and wanted to say hi. Her mother is country singer Lari White, who also happened to play a role in the movie Cast Away (the woman who drew the wings on her packages and Tom Hanks’ character intercepted them). I, of course, knew who she was instantly. But I totally played it all cool and had a mom-to-mom chat, because you know, she is well, a mom.

And I just kind of loved that little chat we had. And I just love that in Nashville, Tennessee, you bump into regular ole moms in the armpit of Bellevue.


Tonight, I was so tired from working one of my four part-time jobs. I came home and every piece of meat I had was frozen solid and we had Hamburger Helper last night.

We decided to eat at the Loveless Cafe. I had actually never been, but I totally loved it. It’s really so neat that this uber-famous landmark is—literally—in our backyard.

And just as we were getting out of our car in the parking lot, a friend from the boys’ preschool and his mom hopped out, too. It was such a fun, happy thing. And so, we ate with them and got to know them better. In the process, we discovered connections to friends of their family. That’s always fun, isn’t it? To realize you know someone who knows someone who knows someone? About mid-way through the meal, one of the teachers at the boys’ preschool walked in with her husband. We all laughed because we enjoyed seeing friends we recognized.

This is why I love living in Nashville, especially our little southwestern corner. It feels so familiar. I LOVE bumping into friends from school, church, and the Y at the grocery store, restaurants, and the pharmacy. I love that I pulled behind BlondeMomBlog in the car rider line at our daughters’ school yesterday and hopped out to have a face-to-face chat (we had never met in person before). I love that the grandfather of my boys’ “best friend” (a precious little girl) and my father-in-law once worked together.

I think these little experiences have got to be a wonderful shadow of what heaven will be like: an endless excitement of seeing loved ones—and knowing them completely—and enjoying all that goes with that.

Wedding Adventure

When my twins were born, I lost my mind.

Then, I found it again, thanks to a precious angel named Audrey.

Audrey came to my home and took care of me–uh, I mean–the babies a few days a week. Audrey would do things like wash/dry/fold my laundry (exactly the way I liked it) AND put it away before I even knew it was dirty. One day she arrived at 9 a.m. with a roast and veggies: “Hey, Mary, I’ll put this in the oven for dinner, OK?” She kept our home neat and took good care of the dog. She expertly anticipated MY every need and the babies’ every need with impeccable timing and consistency.

I really don’t exaggerate when I say that she saved my life during that first year of the babies’ lives.

Last night, Audrey got married.

I wouldn’t have missed her wedding for anything. Not even a torrential downpour on a national holiday.

Not even.

Just as we got in the van to drive the 45 minutes to the wedding (with all three kids, mind you), the raindrops started coming. No biggie, we thought. These summer showers have a tendency to pop up and move out. Plus, when’s the last time we middle Tennesseans remember rainfall on the 4th of July?

We actually had trouble seeing the road at times as we headed east on I-40. When we almost missed our exit because of the blinding rain, we decided this was no pop-up shower.

The wedding was special for many reasons:

  • It was at the brides’ home
  • It was outdoors
  • It was a double wedding (Audrey and her sister, Courtney)
  • It was on the Fourth of July
  • It was my precious Audrey’s big day!

Rain did not fit in with this picture.

We got there and had to wait in line for the valet. All the valets were soaked from head to toe. We dropped off the van and carefully made our way (read: jumping over puddles and still managing to sink my sandal heel in mud) to the humongous tent. It was kind of bizarre because people were already sitting at the tables, which had obviously been set for the reception. We tried to figure out where to sit, what to do, and finally took a seat at an empty table near the back of the tent.

We decided that perhaps the original plan was to have the ceremony under a beautifully-decorated arch then the people were to move under the tent for the reception. But Plan B dictated that everybody and everyTHING begin under the tent.

The ceremony had to be postponed about 20 minutes because the cars were so backed up. Finally, at 7:20, the ceremony began.

My kids did surprisingly well, despite it was really their bedtime. Seth was a bit grumpy. He had fallen asleep on the way there. I whispered to him, “Look! There’s Ms. Audrey and her sister. Aren’t they beautiful?” He looked over the crowd and said, “All I see are princesses.”

And they did look like princesses. They were gorgeous. The bridesmaids were gorgeous. The decorations were gorgeous.

The ceremony was rather brief. I couldn’t see a thing, except the faint outline of one of the bridesmaids. Every now and then the rain would let up and you could almost hear the guests let out a sigh and a prayer: Maybe it’s stopped? But in a few minutes, we’d hear another roar of thunder and the heavy pitter-pat on the tent. Then, you could hear the ripple of the whispers, “Here it comes again!”

It really was quite a mess. I just felt for Audrey and Courtney and their parents. I know they had had visions of kissing in the sunset while their guests enjoyed fireworks on the grass in the gentle breeze.

Alas, it was not to be.

One of the highlights for me was the port-a-potty. I actually had rehearsed the whole bathroom thing in my mind: where will we go potty? In the poolhouse? Surely not inside the house? Oh, please, no, not one of those gross, chemical, green boxes! Of course I think about this because I have three kids.

Oh, no. This port-a-potty was AMAZING! It was actually nicer than the half bath at our old house. Seriously. It was a little trailer-looking building with three little rooms. I took Seth in. The potty had air conditioning and music playing over a loud speaker. The potty was a real one with water and flushing mechanism (no gross blue chemicals). There was a pretty floor and pretty walls. The counter was large enough to accommodate a bag and the basin was one of those new bowl-types with a sleek, silver faucet fixture. I’m telling you. It was comfortable and attractive. My kind of port-a-potty.

The food (full dinner spread) smelled incredible, but with cranky kids and all the bad weather, we opted to leave. We ran through some sprinkles and got to say hello to Audrey. As we made our way to the van, we overheard Audrey’s mom talking to the guy in charge of the tent. I heard her ask, “How much water will this tent hold?”

Apparently, there was some discussion of the cars getting stuck in the grass/mud combination and we had to creatively “meet” our van at a location other than the drop-off point, which was down the driveway a bit.

As I was expressing my feelings for Audrey and Courtney and what must be disappointment, my realistic husband reminded me: “You know. This really doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are married. In the end, they are married.”

Yes, they are. Congratulations and best wishes!

Reprimand at the Library

Today we went swimming with our friends.

Half-wet and half-dry, in cover-ups and bathing suits, I decided that before we went home, we’d make a QUICK trip to our branch library. I had requested some Scooby-Doo videos and REALLY wanted the boys to watch them when we got home. I was hoping to wrap up preparation for my Bible study and really needed the children distracted for some uninterrupted time.

So, after the swim, we dry off enough that we aren’t dripping wet. On our way to the library, we drive through the pharmacy window and drop off a few bottles of meds that need refills.

I get three suckers (one for each child) at the pharmacy window and hand them out to the kids.

Next, we arrive at the library.

Please keep in mind that my three videos are already on the hold shelf with my name on them. Walking from the front door of the library to the hold shelf is no longer a distance than walking from the front door of a McDonald’s to the counter.

We walk in (well, OK, slightly barrel through the front door) and loudly shuffle to the hold shelf. I’m constantly “shushing” the kids as they are screaming about Scooby-Doo and such. I know we are a lovely sight in half-wet clothes with matted hair. I know I look particularly beautiful!

So, we grab the videos and proceed to the self-checkout line. I give each kid a video to scan (they like to hear the beep). I quickly scan my card and type in my PIN.


“Ma’am?” Is she talking to me? I look up. Oh, yes she is.

The librarian is leaning across the desk to the self check-out lane.


“For the future. Suckers are not allowed in the library.”

What? Suckers? Oh, right. I quickly take inventory of the sucker usage by my kids. Susanna’s is almost gone. Seth’s is in his mouth. Spencer doesn’t have one.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I had no idea.”

“No food or drink in the library. And ESPECIALLY suckers. They tend to get everywhere.”

“OK. Sorry.”

And then I think I got madder and madder standing there, scanning Scooby-Doo movies because:

1. We were in the library for ALL OF two minutes. Seriously.
2. I was beside the sucker-using children the entire two minutes.
3. I know food and drink are not allowed. Had no clue about candy. Really. If you don’t want candy in the library, you need to make that clear. I do not consider candy (or gum) “food” or “drink.”
4. I could understand this woman going out of her way to reprimand me if we had brought a picnic spread inside or my kids were running around unsupervised sticking their gooey suckers everywhere, but that was totally not the case.
5. I can’t help but think her reprimand had a little something to do with our disheveled and somewhat noisy entrance.

So, prideful rebel in me just might pack a few suckers in my purse next time I’m heading to the library.

I’m just sayin’.

The Mr. Magorium Meltdown

Yesterday, I took the kids to see Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Each summer, Regal Cinemas offers weekly FREE movies.

This seems like the perfect outing, right? DARK theatre (Mommy can nap). Air conditioning. Seated in comfy chair. Children seated and distracted. Tasty popcorn. $1 soda (because we have managed to hang onto our Regalator giant cups, which they will refill for $1 but don’t offer to sell anymore. Yes, these are among our most prized possessions in our home and would certainly be on the short list for items to grab in case of disaster.)

So, off we go to our “special treat.” A movie! In a theatre! With popcorn!

Everyone pees before we leave the house. Very important.

Now. I know. I was really stupid to think that a “kids’ meal” at the movies would cost any less than $5. But I did. I was kinda thinking, $2 or so. And because I never get to read, evaluate, or discern when I’m with my kids, I succumbed to marketing. That giant KIDS’ MEAL COMBO sign was beautiful. “Three kids’ meals, please, and one refill soda in my Regalator.”

“That will be $18!”

Eighteen dollars???? I could have ordered a pizza for that. Oh my goodness.

(I still am not sure what those kids’ meals actually cost, because, you know, I don’t get to read, evaluate, or discern any kind of posted signs when I’m with my kids. But I guarantee you one bag of popcorn would have been substantially less.)

We traipse on in to the show.

Let me just say at this point that this movie has to be one of the worst I’ve seen. Boring and slow. Trite plot and character development. And Dustin Hoffman was just kind of annoying with a lisp and fake overbite teeth. But, again, I was thrilled because it was dark, air conditioned, and I was seated.

With about a half hour left, the boys start getting antsy and Seth announces he has to go potty. Spencer does, too. BIG SIGH.

Potty trip #1.

Back in the theatre.

Five minutes pass. Dustin Hoffman’s character is about to die (I really don’t think I’m spoiling much for you here).

Seth announces loudly he has to go poo-poo this time. Spencer does, too.

Potty trip #2 with both boys pooping simultaneously in different stalls (twins really do share everything).

Back to the theatre and Dustin is dead. The movie concludes with a predictable ending.

OK. Time to go. But, of course, we must have a meltdown first, right?

Spencer had taken off his sandals in the movie and they had been kicked to the row beneath us. I asked Susanna to take our trash to the trashcan and I would get Spencer’s sandals. But I had to walk out our row, down the aisle, then back up to get to the sandals.

Mid-trip, my 6 year-old possessed daughter starts screaming, “Mom! I’m ready to go home!!!! Mom! You shouldn’t have let him take off his sandals!!!! Mom!”

Calmly, I said, “We are going home. I have to get his sandals. Calm down and get control of yourself.”

I don’t know what was going on with her. Maybe overstimulated with the movie, the emotion, the music? Scared I was going to leave her?

To stares from sympathetic parents, she screamed all the way to the van.

And that was our fun-filled, restful, “free,” summer treat movie day. Can’t wait until next week.

My Name is Susie

One Saturday we took the kids to play at Parmer Park in Belle Meade. Susanna made fast friends with a little girl (on the left). Chris and I giggled as we heard the woman keep calling Susanna, “Susie.” She now thinks Susie is a better name. She tells people her name is Susie now all the time. The ironic thing about this is that my BIG concern was that people would shorten her beautiful, feminine, southern Susanna to Susie. I didn’t have to wait on her peers or teachers. She’s taken care of that all by herself.

Spencer and Seth.



Fun at Mimi and Papa’s House

Seth is wearing Papa’s firefighter helmet. Papa is a retired Metro firefighter. Very cool!

Spencer’s turn in Papa’s helmet.

What a treat! A day with Papa and Mimi. The boys love to ride on Papa’s “tractor” and go to his “barn.”

Spencer (left) and Seth in Papa’s tractor.
August 2008

The Van—Part 2

So, the van did get cleaned out (I know you all were waiting with bated breath to hear about what gross things I uncovered under the piles of trash), and as far as I know I didn’t contract any disease or anything.

But I was really kind of forced into it because the van had to be TOWED away this morning.

Seems the transmission is about to go. We think.

We are so blessed that my dad knows every mechanic that undercharges for services within a 50-mile radius. So, we do what it takes to get our vehicles to Bedford county for repairs. This, of course, also comes with my dad’s watchful eye, which is always helpful.

So, today, Daddy and Ray (the tow-truck guy who is also my sister’s neighbor) came and got the van.

Mama and Daddy were so very, very gracious to loan us their GIGANTIC-I -feel-that-I-need-to-be-playing-shuffleboard-and-hitting-the-early-bird-specials-at-the- senior-citizens-center Ford Mercury. Not that my parents have ever played shuffleboard or eaten an early bird special, much less attended any event with a “senior citizen” label. But still. This car is huge and really does scream, “old retired people with lots of money.”

I took the kids out for a spin this afternoon. They really enjoyed it, once they stopped fighting and I threatened to go home. “Will you PUH-LEEZE stop fighting and be quiet and just listen to the music on the radio? Can we do that?” (Do I really have 15+ years of this left????)

We went to the pharmacy, bank, and Sonic for slushies. I liked having the cold air blowing in my face, singing along to 80’s favorites on the radio, and not having to get anyone out of the car.

I (heart) the Mercury.

The Van

I think it’s time to clean out my van.

Last week we uncovered Spencer’s missing toothbrush from under the middle seat.

I’m not sure at all how it got there.

Yesterday, I decided to pop a piece of Melaleuca gum in my mouth. It had been lingering in the passenger seat for a few days in 90+degree heat. It is really good gum. I thought nothing of chewing it, despite its questionable storage for the last few days.

At first, the mushy meltedness kind of mixed with the spearmint to give me a little jolt of refreshing. I was pleasantly surprised.

Then about 5 minutes into the chewing, it started disintegrating in my mouth. It went from a tangible substance to … nothing. Nothing at all. What an odd feeling to be chewing something and then chewing nothing. It turned into gross, white liquidy gunk.

Thankfully, I had plenty of scraps of paper littering the van to spit my former gum into.

Anyway, let’s see, right now my van is home to various discarded and forgotten items. Besides stray gum pieces and shreds of paper, you’ll find:

  • crumbs of Goldfish crackers, graham crackers, cereal bars. I remember one time last year Chris asked me something along the lines of… “So, do you just give them big cups of Goldfish to eat in the car or what?” as he stared at the broken bits of little orange crackers all over the seats and floor. My response was, “Yes. Yes. That’s exactly what I do.” And your point is…? The last time I checked Chris has never fed, dressed, packed bags and lunches for 3, loaded, buckled, driven and deposited all 3 anywhere. Trust me, you do what you need to do. Be it spilled Goldfish or whatever.
  • books: children’s books, a phone book, a map book, a children’s Bible
  • a wooden kitchen spoon
  • umbrellas: adult-size and My Little Pony
  • a Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag
  • jumper cables
  • banking receipts and kids’ artwork and junk mail
  • sucker sticks
  • hot pink winter boots
  • a teddy bear
  • a Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon for 20% off
  • four car seats (I only have 3 kids)

I think my van is probably an accurate picture of how my brain feels most of the time: scattered, misplaced, always prepared, if not a little overwhelmed.

I have personally never fully grasped those people who truly love their vehicles. I don’t have a “dream car,” but I do lust after those vans with doors that open on both sides.

I appreciate my van. I love what it does for me. I love that I have it and it serves me well. But at the end of the day, it is a machine that gets me from Point A to Point B.

I’m really content with my ride as long as it accomplishes this simple task. And has enough room to take all of our junk, too.

I’m Going Crazy

Summer at home with three kiddos under the age of 5 is about to drive me to the brink of insanity. They go to summer school two days a week. For that, I am more than grateful. The other three days—well, I survive. Just barely.

Sometimes I feel like such a freak. You know, when I think about that lady in Arkansas who is expecting #18. About the only thing she and I have in common is that we both chose names for our kids beginning with the same letter (she: J; I: S). That naming strategy alone precludes me from reproducing 15 more kids. No way I could come up with 15 more “S” names.

So, she’s Supermom: pregnant, breastfeeding, homeschooling, and just exuding a maternal glow during Today show interviews.

I really think I’m the antithesis of Mrs. Mom of 18.

I still look pregnant but have gratefully left the nausea and discomfort far behind. Some days I feel like my greatest parenting strategy is playing Thomas the Tank movies back to back to back. I do exude something, but it’s not a maternal glow. It’s sweat. All I do is sweat. All the time. I’m hot and dripping wet with sweat all the time. Really.

Wednesday, we went to a birthday party for one-year-old twin girls. We met Penny and Rusty and the girls through POTATO, the parents of twins club. We were all excited to celebrate with them. The kids were thrilled to be going to a birthday party. They know that means cake.

I was thrilled to have a fun outing and give them some additional play time.

By the time we got to the party, I felt as if I had made the journey on foot. Hot, sweaty (as I said, always sweating…), tired. Nothing is ever easy. Not even going to a freaking birthday party. Yes, I was the mom who looked as if she had rolled out of bed. No makeup. Hair pulled back (because, as I said, I’m sweaty all the time). I promise I had bathed. All the other moms were adorable. Cute and made up. Painted nails. Skinny waists. Jewelry and makeup. How do you do it?

And, yes, my boys were the ones not tossing, not rolling, but HURLING, LOBBING, balls throughout the party place. My daughter was the one picking up the babies at the party. You know, a grip that vaguely resembles the Heimlich maneuver while Baby hangs on for dear life. Yep, the Bernards partied with bells on.

Oh, and I’m the one who left the tattered gift bag, excavated from my jumbled-up gift wrap stash moments before we left the house. Don’t even ask me how many cute, so-adorable-you’d-want-to-die, polka-dotted, plaid, and ribboned presents were on the gift table.

No wonder I had a headache all night long. Something like someone was driving an ax through my forehead just over my right eye.

Do you think Mrs. Mom of 18 ever has a headache?

Nahhh. I doubt it.