Friday, February 22, 2013

Random Musings Friday: The Week in Review in Pictures

 Linking up with Shana for her Random Musings Friday. Please join our random fun!

I know sometimes it feels like a bit of a ShanAlly LoveFest up in here and it's not on purpose...but I can't pretend it doesn't happen. She has been down to see us 3 times since Baby Blue was born and if you're doing the math, that's almost once every other month. So there has been a lot of peach ice cream consumed, many museums visited, and perhaps some wine drank. She just returned home from her most recent trip (in which we tried to squeeze as much of the state of Virginia into 4 short days as possible) and there were lessons learned and alarming amounts of food consumed.

This is the Pink Cadillac Cafe in Natural Bridge, VA (that is the black sky of a snowpocalypse that never materialized). Also, this...
and this...
and this...
It is a diner in every sense of the word: 1950's memorabilia (heavy on The King of Rock n Roll), teal booths slicked by years of tourists sliding in and a thin mist of Crisco, the obligatory checkered floors and tablecloths, and a Pac-Man arcade game living in harmony next to a full size jukebox. The Elvis burger, which was enough meat to send every one of us into heart failure on a toilet, was perfectly divine. Top it off with some fries and you've got the makings for an XXXL velvet jumpsuit. Shana and I went with the apple pie for dessert. Word to the wise: they have a hard time getting the top crust cooked so just go ahead and peel that puppy back and dive into the gooey apple goodness beneath. All in all, we give it 2 jazz hands way up.

Natural Bridge is quite close to Lexington, VA so Neal wanted to do a drive-by through Virginia Military Institute.
Campus and the central parade ground were reminiscent of our anniversary weekend at the Citadel in Charleston several years ago.
What's a military campus without a cannon? It's like a Catholic Church without a relic from a saint (which I can now reference, thanks to our tour through Blandford Church yesterday).
General "Stonewall" Jackson stands guard outside the school where he was a professor and commander during war time. Poor Stonewall...depicted as a whole person here, but in reality was buried without his arm (which he lost in battle). You can visit his grave in Lexington or his arm (which people keep trying to dig up) in Locust Grove, VA.
In other words, he will resolve to haunt your ass if you dig up his arm and store it in your basement.

Before heading out of Lexington, we had to make one last stop (it would have been 2 if the car safari had been open. safari...feeding camels and giraffes from the heated seat comfort of your Lexus). But car safari is closed until March. Apparently the animals of the bush don't much care for a wind chill of 15 degrees. Foamhenge we went. Yep, full-size replica of foam. Initially an April Fool's joke, foamhenge is set atop a hill along VA-11. We were here for about 3 minutes because it was gusting wind and freezing. In fact, I know I visited because there are pictures to prove it, but I'm pretty sure my brain, along with all memory of that stop, were cryogenically frozen until we arrived in Charlottesville (which is how I will justify trying to convince Shana that the Aborigines are albinos from Africa with bones through their noses).
Oh, we're going to Foamhenge? May I bring my mini-Druid?

We left Lexington for Monticello, which is located just outside of Charlottesville, VA. In my head, we were going to visit the estate of one of our country's esteemed presidents.
But in reality, Thomas Jefferson was kind of a dick. He famously penned the Declaration of Independence which, if you will recall from History class, begins with "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." So, apparently, ole TJ believed that the slaves he owned and refused to free, even after the Declaration of Independence was signed, were not actually created equal to him. Although he supposedly fathered 6 children with one of his slaves after his wife passed away, he only freed 3 of them in his will (and chose not to free their mother...AKA his baby mama). Also, he often sold slaves away from his estate (and their families) as punishment. So...yeah...if I had known last week what I know now, I probably would have skipped the whole thing. The staff had their panties in a bunch because we had Baby Blue with us and I try not to give Neal's hard-earned Army money away to houses of hypocrisy. Neal ended up leaving the tour about 10 minutes in to a 90 minute tour because the babe was getting too loud. But I found a lovely website that will walk him through the house and he won't even have to be subjected to the tour guides in bowties or the stuffy manner in which they corral and herd tourists through the first floor. But since we were already there...
This is a window in the dome room, which (I think) is the most breathtaking of the 43 rooms and yet Jefferson found it suitable for storage. Dumbass. It presents 360 degree views of Charlottesville down below and is flooded with magnificent light from these windows, as well as the oculus above. Shana thought so, too.
My Downton-Abbey-adoring heart almost couldn't take it. Sounds exactly like the opening credits. No Carson or Mrs. Hughes here, though, as Jeff insisted on owning his servants instead of paying them.
Monticello from the back.
Monticello from the front. The back of Monticello is the image on a nickel. So the front was the back and the back was the front and this is probably why Jefferson was so bassakwards on who was equal to whom. But instead, he died in debt and all of his belongings, from the china to the children were auctioned off right here on the front lawn. Suddenly, W. doesn't look so bad, does he?

When the tour was over, we found Neal and Baby Blue in the car...taking a $42 nap. It would be awesome if Neal could have hopped in with the next tour while we took babysitting duty, but they are very strict about all of their rules. I guess exceptions made creates problems down the line, but it was a pricey lesson to learn about babies and schedules.

Charlottesville and Lexington are funny places. The trend in women's fashion is skinny jeans and riding boots, but I'm almost certain that none of the women we saw had just been on (or had any intention of getting on) a horse. They are home to Washington & Lee (Lexington) and UVA (Charlottesville) and are both quite serious about preserving a college-town feel with an abundance of local commerce. This became a problem in Charlottesville when we were looking for our dinner spot. I generally cross-reference Yelp and Trip Advisor to find all of our restaurants while traveling. It was almost impossible to find a restaurant in the top 25 that had consistently excellent reviews. And the ones that did made no secret of their baby-unfriendliness. You don't have to have a cache of high chairs, but it would be great if you didn't shoot daggers in our direction when he starts drooling in my dinner. It's my dinner, after all. So, I widened my search and found Fardowners in a small town about 12 miles outside of Charlottesville.
Jackpot. It's a pub with live music on the weekends and piped music played loud-ish the rest of the time. Remarkably, Baby Blue slept through the entire meal...even when they turned it up louder, even when the table of drunk co-eds right behind us began screeching Happy Birthday and banging on the table. I don't understand why the pacifier is such a strong sleep aid...all I know is that it works. And that's good enough for me. I was able to thoroughly enjoy my Philly Mac and Cheese (yes...a heaping bowl of macaroni and cheese, prepared Philly cheese steak style. Be still my heart). Neal had a salad because he is a robot who never rewards himself with food. And I can't remember what Shana had but I remember it came with tater tots. The best tater tots I've ever had, I should add.

I also overheard a conversation behind me about Christian Laetner and Duke vs. UK. And that's how I met a fellow UK alum who now lives in Charlottesville. Big Blue Madness,'s everywhere.

The next morning, with the wind at our backs, we scooted back down I-64 to the house. It had been a grand adventure and now it was over..for Neal anyway. Shana and I had more to explore.
This is what $80+ worth of chocolate looks like. That package in the middle is sea salt merlot caramels. That alone has to be worth at least $100. All of our love to For the Love of Chocolate in Richmond for making this happen.
She turns her nose up at tuna but tries to cram her entire body into the bag from the chocolate shop. Smart kitty.

Lunch was right around the corner on Cary St. at Can Can...which was chosen simply because it had been raining all morning and there was an awning covering the sidewalk from the chocolate store to the restaurant. But what a fine choice it was.
It fancied itself a french bistro with a modern flare. And the staff stopped repeatedly to ogle Baby Blue...which is pretty much the easiest way to make me like you. Shana had the Croque Madame with this cheese sauce that we sopped up with fries and bread and our fingers. I chose the squash crepes because it included bok choy and...well...crepes. But just as good as the food were the bathrooms.

Right?? First of all..fresh flowers on the sink. And real toilet paper holders in the stalls. It was clean and fancy and I got to pull a chain to flush the toilet instead of balancing on one foot while stomping a lever down with the other. I swear, for a second there I felt like a Zelda or a Gertrude.

One other great find in this lunch spot was their pear and hazelnut bread that they serve on the table. As it turns out, you can buy it by the loaf. And this knowledge is at least as dangerous as when I found the peach ice cream at Lane's Peach Orchard in Georgia.

Our last stop of the day (after a quick drop in a boutique Goodwill) was the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. You may remember a little gushing I did here about the VMFA and the Chihuly glass exhibit we saw last month. Sadly, that show left a few weeks ago so I had promised Shana an excellent viewing of Faberge, one of their permanent exhibits. Except, when we got there, we learned it had just left. For two years. So we decided to check out the French Impressionists and the photography exhibits and then head home. The Impressionists wing included about 3 Degas paintings, several statues and this chick, who has quickly become my favorite of Degas' work.
And then a bunch of stuff by painters I had never heard of...which is kind of saying a lot considering how much I've studied the Impressionists. Photography didn't fare much better. Literally it was one wall of a hallway with maybe 20 photos. It was rough and all we could say was "at least entry is free." But Shana did find this interesting piece...
She wanted to know when J had made the time to have an exact replica of himself created.

And then we spotted this new fashion on our way out of the gift shop.
This, by the way, was the same gift shop where the cashier was asking if I bought my ripped jeans that way. I wanted to say "Look Twiggy, at least I managed to get out of maternity pants." but I just smiled and secretly judged the train wreck she was passing off as a hairdo.

Our last day was a quiet morning of scones with blackberry jam (made by Webb with fruit found in her Farmer's Market last summer) followed by the express tour of Tiffany's windows at Blandford Church (where we witnessed the former president of Mississippi's southern ladies of the confederate something or other battle it out with the tour guide over which state is the birth place of Memorial Day) followed by the most heavenly chicken salad at Hiram Haines Coffeeshop (which is famous for housing Edgar Allen Poe and his child cousin bride on their honeymoon night. But really should be famous for their chicken salad). It all went by way too quickly and I still feel like there are so many more nooks and crannies in this part of the world that I want to show her. I'm in love with this area and although I don't think we'll get to stay, it's on our list. Of course...the committee is now 3 days late in handing out assignments and in the same way as The Jerk, every day that we wait feels like 2 weeks and the last 3 days felt like a month but before that, each day felt like 2 days....

Cheers and Happy Champagne Friday!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Random Musings Friday

Once again, I'm linking up with Shana @ Fumbling Towards Normalcy for a little random on this nasty Friday. It's rainy with a 90% chance of rain and a wind chill of rain. But if we were any further north, we would need shovels instead of galoshes so I shall not complain. When I asked Shana what the predicted snow fall was going to be, she said, "anything between 2 and 30 inches." It's nice when they can be so specific.

1. Thank you for all of your kind words regarding the head injury I caused Baby Blue last week. I can tell you that there have been no lasting effects and when we went for his 6 month vaccinations this week, the doctor assured me that he would be just fine. Of course, she said those little red spots that appeared across his forehead shortly after it happened were caused by him crying so hard that tiny capillaries in his skin burst. Awesome. I'll be accepting my award for Mother of the Year sometime over the weekend.

2. Also on the baby front, Baby Blue has been discovering his body lately. Toes, nose, ears...and, in the bath tub this week, his Boyish Charm. When I told Neal that evening, he said, "Did you tell Mommy that she should have given you the ducky? Then maybe you wouldn't be playing with the turtle." *sigh* I am in need of some estrogen in this house in a bad way.

3. Up until last week, I had been attending a Zumba class on post. It was OK, but I didn't love it. I left sweaty, but was never sore the next day. And I was paying $4/class. Not sore and free, I can accept. Not sore and paying for the privilege...time to move on. Also, (I hate to admit this) the instructor is not Hispanic or Cuban or Dominican. She's African American. And while she has more rhythm in her thumb than I do my whole body, she teaches Zumba in a very bouncy way. When taught by a Latina, it's very smooth, VERY abdominal-oriented, and really...pretty sexy. So, torn about how to proceed, I emailed the bestie and asked her if it would be rude to quit the class because my instructor isn't Hispanic enough. To which she replied, "I don't think it's bad for you to be racial profiling your Zumba instructor. You have to feel like you got a good work out in." It's so nice when you find someone who will certify your crazy. (Also, she is a black belt in sarcasm.) I ended up buying the official Zumba DVD set, which features a smokin' hot Latina with her bare belly shown the entire class. It's extra motivating as I throw my stretch marked, stretched out one all over the living room.

4.The jobs list came out last week. This is the list of available slots and, therefore, the location of our new home. They varied from Ft. Dix to Corpus Christie to Madison WI to Mesa AZ to Hawaii and Korea... and lots of places in between. There were several slots at Ft. Bragg and a few in Orlando. Even one in Atlanta. But our top 5 choices include staying in this area, moving up to DC, moving slightly farther north to NJ, and (if you can believe it) possibly going back to Ft. Knox. Do I want to go "home"? Meh, not really. Do I want Baby Blue to be surrounded by family and all of his "aunts" during his first 3 years? Absolutely. So, we'll see how it shakes out. We don't find out for at least another 2 weeks. Waiting to find out where you will live next (and the aggressive house hunt that follows) is simultaneously the most thrilling and frustrating part of the job. As I said to Neal this week: "Being in the Army is like being in a cake walk. Sometimes you get Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, made by Paula Deen herself...and sometimes you get rhubarb pie made by the lady with 8 cats." Fingers crossed for Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.

And now...some pictures...

On Sunday (yes, Super Bowl Sunday...oh the blasphemy), we went to Yorktown. It was wicked cold but Baby Blue, swaddled in 17 layers, was much warmer than either one of us. After walking the village and getting a guided tour of the encampment, we headed home. We followed our GPS. It brought us to a body of water (if you don't immediately think of Dwight driving into the pond at this point, I'm not sure you're my people). Anyway, it had brought us to a ferry. I've been on a ferry once...when I was like 6 and vacationing with the fam in Mackinac Island. It was so super-over-the-top exciting for me that I had to take a picture of Neal "driving" with the GPS in the background, showing us hovering over water. Also, I kept singing "I'm on a BOAT" in my head. Bonus: said ferry is free. Not the fastest way to get to Yorktown, but the only way for me!

These are the available networks in our apartment complex. The only one missing is "Blair House," which pops up every so often. So you have FA SHO, Stay off my Network, and the President's guest house all within range of our parking lot. (I'm a big fan of the second one, though. This is kind of like when my Yahoo email got hacked this week and I changed the password to "F YOU HACKERS" out and with some other stuff in there, too. If they're going to hack me, I want them to have to spell it out.)

And these are the available networks from the Home Depot parking lot. Well-played, Home Depot...well-played.

That's all I have for you this week. I'm trying to gather my thoughts on Yorktown and the My Favorite Things, baby-edition, for next week. May you all have a lovely, bubbly weekend. May the northerners have clear roads by Saturday and may we not need that ark that, according to, someone is building in their backyard in the town next door.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Random Musings Friday: Say What? And Get a Picture of That!

Hello sweet, luscious lovah. I know I used to ignore you when I worked in retail and didn't get the weekends off, but now I greet you with open arms and offer you peeled grapes and a eunuch to do with as you please.

So this week has been part train wreck, part bliss on a stick. And several moments that have made me go hmmm....

1. Let's start with this conversation between me, Neal, and Big Mama that occurred while we were giving Big Mama a driving tour through University of Richmond's campus.

Big M: Did you know that the University of Richmond "Spiders" is the only collegiate team in the country that has spiders for its mascot?
Neal: Well that's not very scary. Don't spiders get squashed all the time? Why didn't they choose something different? Like a bear or something?
Big M: I don't know.
Neal: Is it because they're a private school? Do you have to be a state university to get a mammal?
Big M: Probably. Private schools have to choose between reptiles and arachnids. I'm sure that's the rule.

I don't know why Mom co-signs on his horse manure. But she not only encourages it, she spreads it around. Which is exactly what I need.

2. This past Tuesday was a day straight out of April's weather playbook. I packed up Baby Blue and our 3 wheel stroller SUV and headed to the Petersburg battlefield for some exercise. Later in the day, we had plans to meet the wife of one of Neal's classmates and her daughter at the park. While bebe and I were stopped at one of the battlefield exhibits (a convenient place for a bottle because it's set up like a confederate soldier encampment, complete with log stumps and all), I started chatting with a lovely woman, about my age, who had her 3 kids with her. As I picked up my phone to check the time, it slipped out of my hand and caught Baby Blue on the temple.

ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. Bebe is pretty coddled and babied. He does not fall off of furniture or get bumped against anything because I'm a helicopter mom of alarming proportions and he is pretty much never out of my sight...or arm's reach. So the fact that an iPhone caught him on the side of the head as it gave way to gravity was intense for him. He screamed for what must have been at least 3 hours. Or 3 minutes. But definitely 3 hours. And I couldn't get him to stop crying. So I texted the wife and told her that I'd have to reschedule...that I somehow had to get bebe to the pediatrician...although I was in the middle of a battlefield and he would not stop crying. Ultimately, I called the doctor, he called in prescription for the headache he knew he would have, Neal left school early to help me get him home, and we all survived the ordeal.

But seriously....who nearly concusses their child with their phone?

3. Wednesday was pretty fabulous, weather-wise, too...if a bit windy. OK...hurricane-force winds. But they were warm, so whatever. Off to the park in Richmond we went. Keeping a firm grip on my phone all day, we had a lovely 2 hour stroll around Byrd Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. As it started to rain about 3, we headed back to the car. I laid Baby Blue down in the back seat and stood over him, with the back door open and my Blue Moon of Kentucky stuck way up in the air (emphasized by the leggings I had donned that morning during a "skinny moment"). At just that moment, a school bus of high schoolers went by, less than 10 yards from my car. I would love to think that the cat calls were of appreciation, but I'm pretty sure not.

Needless to say...I was killin it this week.

And now some pictures....

"Forget the politics, drink the wine..." As I giggled with a new friend (who went from blogger friend to in-person friend today when we finally met for lunch) over our respective Congressional representatives (Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell...yay for living in red states *ahem*), I remembered this cork - pulled from a bottle before we left Georgia. So so so true.

As seen at a gas station on our way to get a pizza last week. I would expect this kind of behavior from a Celica. Not a BMW. The car bras are bad enough but at least they save you from hours of elbow grease scrubbing bugs off the front. This? Is someone who needs a charity to fund.

As seen leaving my awesome bloggy meet-up today. I guess it's a thing. Georgia drivers have an alarming fascination with those stick figure families and Virginia drivers feel the need to associate a gender with their vehicles. Should I pull up behind a giant vagina on I-95 next week, I'll let you know.

Yes, Baby Blue is 6 months old. Yes, we watch Sesame Street. Sometimes twice a day, because it's on at 7 and 10. We said he was not going to be exposed to any TV before he was a year old. That's when I was pregnant and we were naive. Television lets me make myself a cup of coffee and empty the dishwasher every morning. Sometimes it even lets me get dinner started in the crockpot. But usually, I sit next to him and reinforce everything he's seeing on TV. But I can't sign off on this. Ryan Reynolds dressed as the letter A was OK. I mean, aesthetically pleasing, but kind of a forced performance. He was either nervous about being a giant A or intoxicated. The singing angel monkey with crazy eyes and a harp wasn't helping the situation, either. I get it, A..."angel...but I'm not so sure they nailed it. Although I guess traumatizing is just another form of learning.

And lastly...
this is my new favorite place. I finally gave in to the 3-year urge I've had to purchase this Echo Jaipur duvet cover from Bed, Bath & Beyond. And for good measure, I picked up a couple of bedside lamps from Hobby Lobby to match. I love it. Once I realized this week that we will most likely be renting for the next 12 years, as we are moved about at the whim of Uncle Sam, and that we will probably always have white walls, I decided that it was up to our decor to give personality to our space. HGTV is full of fabulous rooms that are painted with rich hues of chocolate and gray. But that's never going to be us. So we'll just bring our own color to this party.

Have a glorious (albeit snowy if you're back home in the K-Y) weekend. Cheers to you and your politics, which doesn't matter anyway if you drink enough wine!