Friday, August 19, 2011

Thankful for Smooth Travel

It is another beautiful Friday (barely... It's almost midnight now) and I am giving thanks for this week's happiness. 

This week was all about last minute travel. On Sunday we booked a family vacation departing today. That gave us exactly four days to get all the laundry done and figure out how to fly with a baby. A message to my new mommy friends resulted in lots of helpful tips. Thank you, mommies!

I was making good progress all week and was actually pretty relaxed yesterday morning about what I had left to do. That is, until a phone call necessitated a change in plans for the first half of the trip. 

So yesterday afternoon I got online and made phone calls to cancel one hotel in a city we no longer needed to visit and book a new hotel.  Canceling the first hotel was going to leave us with a charge for the first night's stay, but the gentleman at Expedia called the hotel, explained the situation, and got the fee waived. Thank you, Expedia guy. 

The hotel we had booked for the second half of our trip was full for this weekend so we were unable to extend our reservation to cover the newly vacant front end of our trip. Thus I set off in search of other options and found a smokin' deal at hotels.com for a hotel near Disney. Woohoo! Thank you, hotels.com guy. 

With new plans in place, we stayed up far too late last night packing and woke just a few hours later to leave. After a perfectly uneventful drive to the airport we checked in to notice at the plane was overbooked and we had no seats. 

Oh boy. As visions of a crying baby, a restless teenager, and prolonged airport time haunted us, we proceeded to the gate where my husband spoke to a kind airline employee who informed us they were working on the seat situation. 

So we waited. 

Not only did this wonderful gentleman get us on the plane, he bumped us up to first class free of charge. As I wrote this I was stretched out with plenty of room to attend to the baby. Thank you, US Air guy.

So that's it. Today I am thankful for smooth traveling and the helpfulness of travel employees. I am thankful for my friends' helpful travel-with-baby hints. I am thankful for this vacation to spend time with my husband and boys. It is Jonas' first vacation which is making the rest of us enjoy it all the more. 

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Country Music Festival

Did you watch the CMA Festival last night? Ok, maybe not everyone likes country music as much as I do, but I was glued to the program, particularly because this year I was there.




From CMA Festival 2011


For Christmas last year as I waddled toward my last month of pregnancy, my husband presented me with tickets to the CMA Festival in June. By then, he said, I might want a break from new motherhood to do something "me." What a sweety.

So in June we left the baby and my teenage stepson with my in-laws and flew to Nashville for four days of country concerts.

The few main blocks of downtown Nashville were shut down. Everywhere corner we rounded revealed a new stage, each with a full lineup every day. It was at these stages where we watched Mark Wills, Bo Bice, Wade Hayes, and one of my favorites, Carolyn Dawn Johnson. It is also where we fell in love with a new group called Eden's Edge. One of the stages was at the riverfront where our pass let us use the photo line to get up close to Crystal Bowersox and Terri Clark.



We also did random things like pose in a makeshift cranberry bog.




From CMA Festival 2011


Each day we wandered from stage to stage and booth to booth seeing what there was to see. We also visited the fan fair hall at the convention center where most of the autograph signings took place. While we didn't bother to stand in line for autographs, we were able to get close for pictures.

It was the fan fair hall where I learned that most of these stars are normal size people like you and me. Except, have you seen how big Trace Adkins looks on TV? Um yeah... he's even bigger in real life. He is hugemongous. Yes, he required a new adjective. I know no words in the English language to describe a man with stacked cheek muscles.




From CMA Festival 2011


Most of that wasn't on the TV special and that was a big part of the experience. What you saw on TV last night was the main headline acts at the arena. Again this was four nights with about five major acts per night sprinkled with a few unannounced surprises.

Surprises? Oh yes. The Zac Brown Band surprised us by bringing out Alan Jackson. Brad Paisley surprised us by bringing out Alabama, which by the way was the biggest applause of the entire four days. Alabama can still bring the house down. Did you see that Big & Rich performance? We were sitting there between acts waiting for the stage to be reset. I think Trace Adkins was next on the schedule. All of a sudden out come Big & Rich for one song bringing Gretchen Wilson with them, too, then they disappeared just as quickly. Surprise!

Among others we saw Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Lady Antebellum, Clint Black, The JaneDear Girls (I've added them to my favorites also and my husband got to shake their hands), Taylor Swift... I could go on, but honestly there was so much it's hard to even remember it all.



If you like country music, you really should try to get there one year. It is an absolute blast.

The best part for me, though, was spending four uninterrupted days with my husband. There were no work calls, no kids to attend to. Our most pressing issues were deciding where to eat and which stage to go by at which time. We did a lot of hand-holding, a little dancing, and had real conversations.

We returned home relaxed and stress-free. And now, two months later, we got to relive it through the magic of television. Awesome!

Let's recap the important points, shall we?


  • If you like country music, go to this festival.

  • Listen to Eden's Edge.  They are amazing!

  • Trace Adkins is really big.  Don't pick a fight with him, ok?

  • My husband is the bestest.


I think that covers it.  If you missed the special and you're a little sad, go browse www.cmaworld.com for photos and videos. 



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Slow Down and Notice

Baby bird, freshly hatched

It's the weekend and these days it seems like the weekends can be just as harried as the rest of the week. There are errands to run, chores to do, and people to visit.

Don't let these precious days slip away.

Slow down and take time to look at the many gifts around you. My husband spotted this tiny baby bird while mowing the lawn. Even a dull chore can be exciting if you are mindful of the beauty around you.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thankful

Sunflower

Happy Friday! With the week drawing to a close, it is a great time to reflect on the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my friends, new and old, and for the time I am getting to spend with many of them this week.

I am thankful the summer heat was a bit milder this week. 10 degrees is a big difference.

I am thankful to have had time to blog. Three posts in one week? I don't think I've even done three in one month since having the baby.

I am thankful for ripe, local produce.

I am thankful for the library.

What are you thankful for this week?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stripping (not in the dancer way)

Front porch

I am on a mission. It isn't anything covert and worldly like recovering intelligence from a foreign agent. It is a mission to reveal the new me, the now me.

Let me paint a picture of where I've been lately. I'm married with a teenage stepson and a 6 month old baby. My house is in disarray despite my efforts to keep things organized. I had nearly given up reading and writing, two activities I enjoyed immensely pre-baby. Dinners were becoming whatever I could scrounge together and cook one handed with a sleepy-but-avoiding-sleep-baby at 9:00 p.m. after the guys returned from baseball. My dining room is a junkyard of haphazardly strewn items and home decor that we don't need anymore.

I've been making a conscious effort to change all that. Too much time and energy is wasted. Our house is feeling like a house rather than a home.

My husband also feels the stress our home produces. Rather than feeling a sense of relief when he comes home after work, he too feels oppressed by the disorder and is ready to pare down. You see, we are a new us.

The now us is content with less. The now us is focused on a good home life. The now us is not on a corporate ladder. The now us is focused on family, memories, and making this world a little better.

So I am entering a phase of my life I will call stripping (not in the exotic dancer kind of way). For the last few weeks I've been slowly peeling away at everything, just a little bit at a time.

It started with clearing out old clothes. Then I took everything off my kitchen counters and carefully selected what would return. Then I purged and reorganized my cookware cabinets, an act that immediately made me prepare better meals. Then I tackled my desk which I will revisit because it doesn't yet have the harmony I wish for. I dusted off my journal and found a little time each day to read. I joined a simple living group.

Most recently I started looking at the food we are eating. We are lucky to be surrounded by farms. Farms I never visited until now and you know what? The fruits and veggies taste better.

We are slowly stripping away the layers that don't suit the now us.

Let me know paint a picture of where I want to be in the near future. I want our home to be clear, only containing what we use and love. I want everything we have to have a place. Our home should be open for guests and for dreaming. There will be plenty of space for love and imagination to grow. I will cook, actually cook, with fresh ingredients purchased as close to the source as possible or grown in our own backyard. After all, cooking doesn't have to be complex or take a long time. It doesn't even have to involve cooking- the cucumber and tomato salad I made last night, inspired by a new friend, was delicious.

It is time to strip away the gunk. This isn't merely cleaning. This is a lifestyle change that will nurture each of us at the soul level. Only by stripping can we reveal and rebuild the new now us.

P.S. While writing this post, I also changed my blog's tagline from "Soulful living in a world of information overload" to "... a world of everything overload" because that's where we are. Too much stuff, too many choices, all in an effort to have the best of the best at the cheapest price possible. No more. From now on my choices will be more mindful and I will pay a bit more for better tasting tomatoes, dangit!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wishcasting: Inspiration

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe. Today Jamie asks, "What inspiration do you wish to follow?"

As usual, Jamie somehow touched on what I've been thinking about lately. The dreamboard I recently created included the phrase "inspiration for positive change."

I wish to follow the inspiration of simplicity. I have always loved keeping things simple, but now with a growing family, life and our home feel messy, full, and unnecessarily complicated. In my single days it was easy to keep things simple. With a family, it's not just me bringing things in the house. It's not just my schedule to follow.

For the past month I have been meeting with a simple living group where we have had wonderful discussions about time, money, what it means to live simply, and what we can do in our current home and community life. It has been wonderful to exchange ideas, discuss challenges, and just spend time in conversation with other local women.

Now I want to go beyond decluttering (though I want to continue that, too). I want to be more mindful of getting back to basics, of contributing to my local economy, of making meals with especially delicious good quality ingredients. I am finally patronizing the local farm markets and looking for local butchers. I am spending less time with television and more time with my home, my yard, my family, my church, and my journal.

I wish to get back to basics and inspire others to do the same. Who's with me?