Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Surprise: Twins!!

We never expected it, but who does? We knew we were happy with one, so can two be a bad thing? I must say, they do look adorable together don't they?


Yes, we now have twin cars. We had to get a replacement for the Mazda quickly, so we spent a few days hunting down deals, and low and behold, this PT Cruiser was selling for a steal from Car Max. We certainly did not intend to get matching cars and it is incredibly dorky, but who cares? For the first time in our marriage, we own two dependable and reliable cars. I am happy.

Plus this one is newer than mine and cost less. Tell me you would have passed that up.

We bought it while Jeremy was in Memphis, so when we got home, he looked very confused. He got out of the car, and stood looking from one to the other. Then he smiled and said, "Jeremy's car, and Daddy's car - Match!"

Works for me! But, now that I think of it, if Jeremy has a car and Daddy has a car, when does Mommy get one??

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Murder in the Carr Family!

Yes, we are THAT family. We dress up as random characters, speak in weird accents, frighten little children, and throw accusations of murder, adultery, and mayhem at one another - all in the name of fun. Murder Mystery Dinner Parties have been a staple of my life for, well, as long as I can remember. My parents are weird and creative people, and it somehow spilled out onto all four of their weirdo children as well. I hosted my own first murder party in high school, followed by several more with my crazy IC friends who were apparently just as nerdy and fun-loving. I then bought more in college and forced SIX different staffs that I worked on to do them as team builders. And you know what, they all loved it!For my last night in Memphis, my mom had prepared a lovely night of murder for our immediate family using the game she had received for Christmas from Joey and Megan. This one was set in Napa Valley and revolved around a winery. Here is a quick rundown of our cast: Mom was Bonny Lass a Scottish mystery writer, Dad was Papa Vito an old Italian winery worker in the fields, Joey was Ralph Rottingrape, the shady owner of the winery since the old owner got murdered, Megan was Tiny Bubbles, Ralph's wife, Dani was Marilyn Merlot, a movie star, Cheri was Heady Shablee, a rival winery owner, Jeremy was Bud Wiser, an FBI agent investigating the crime, and I was Otto Von Schnapps, a fat German wine buyer.Yep. That's me. A fat German man. That's cool, I am huge and have no need for self esteem during this delicate time in my life. Sniff. At least I am not a murderer, like someone we all know...I kid. It was hilarious. I think I stumbled upon 14 different accents during dinner and never once managed to achieve a German one. I did, however, get to have an affair with Cheri (Heady), which was clearly a highlight of my life. I don't want to give away too much in case anyone ever wants to play this game, but I will say we have some amazing acting talent in our family. If your family or staff or friends need a fun diversion on a Saturday night, I say pull out the dress up clothes and concoct yourselves a murder!Oh, and Jeremy was terrified of my mustache. Hee Hee.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Walking in Philly

Brian and I went to Philadelphia for several days two weeks ago so that I could attend a work conference and interview 30+ people for our Hall Director position. Since I am in the third trimester of my pregnancy, I could not fly and therefore we drove 12 hours there and 12 hours back. I am being completely honest when I say that the drive was one of the highlights of the trip - Brian and I actually got to talk, play, and have fun together without a toddler. A novel idea.

Jeremy was sent packing to Memphis to spend a week with his Nona, Pop, and Aunt Cheri. I will have a later post on this, but they are incredible and he was so happy he did not want to come home.

Brian and I meanwhile, took this trip as an opportunity to reconnect a bit before our lives run completely out of control with the arrival of baby #2. The car ride to Philly sealed the deal. I love my husband, but more importantly I really like him a lot. I think the day to day drill of work, diapers, chores, and sleep deprivation can make you forget about your loved partner. Brian is quite funny, smart, cute, and silly - all things I knew but have not had a chance to enjoy in quite a while. We played every single car game I could think of, from license plates (37 of 50 states!) to Hi-my-name-is-Amy-and-my-husbands-name-is-Andy-and-we-live-in-Alabama-and-we-sell-Apples. 12 hours is a long time, but 12 hours with a smile on your face is nothing!

We stayed at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, which was ok. It was a bit disappointing in that they were doing renovations on the floor above us so it sounded like airplanes were landing on our ceiling - at midnight. The valet gave us bad directions, our door lock broke, and it advertised a mini fridge that did not actually exist. Oh well.I spent most of my time at the Philadelphia Convention Center interviewing people at TPE (The Placement Exchange) and attending sessions at NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education - yeah, I know, that acronym makes no sense). It was a nice center and the security was insane. Since Brian was not registered and had no name-tag, he could not get past the front door. Crazy!When I was not meeting candidates or pretending to be an important student affairs administrator, I played tourist with the hubby. Here are some historical places we visited:
The Liberty Bell (smaller than I thought, but free!)Independence HallCarpenter's Hall (I had never heard of this place, but Brian informed me it was where the first Continental Congress met)Betsy Ross's House (apparently she liked cats and ran an upholstery business before being the flag lady)Elfreth's Alley (the oldest residential neighborhood in the country - and super narrow! People actually live here, it was really cute.Christ Church (we sat in Ben Franklin's pew)One of the best parts of the trip was the food. On our way in from Knoxville, we stopped in Baltimore for dinner at a dive Brian had seen on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Chap's Pit Beef was really good and totally worth driving through the scary part of Baltimore in the dark (the restaurant shares a parking lot with a strip joint advertising free lap dances - tempting). We almost even stopped again on our way back home.The Reading Terminal Market is a really cool market in downtown Philadelphia that is so huge and packed it is kind of overwhelming, but the food was all amazing - and we went several times to try different things. They had grocery-type food, fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade pastries, ice cream, chocolates, pig's feet, seafood, asian, southern, cheese steaks, pretty much everything under the sun.Ralph's is the oldest family-owned restaurant in the United States. It is the second oldest period, but the oldest still owned by the same family. 5 generations have owned it and it was AMAZING Italian food. Expensive, only takes cash, and tiny, but seriously delicious. I highly recommend.In the same neighborhood as Ralph's is the Italian Market, which Brian went to when I was working and he loved all the fresh veggies and fruits and specialty foods.I had been told by all my northern friends that I had to try a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's. They said they were basically life-changing drinks. So, I tried. It was pretty good, basically a mint vanilla milkshake. The problem was that we somehow found the shadiest and creepiest McDonald's in the entire country. Worst service and cleanliness I have ever seen. Kinda ruined the experience a bit for me.And finally, the vaulted Philly Cheese Steak. We decided to try Sonny's Famous Steaks since it was highly recommended by the locals. My assessment - eh. I guess I am just not a cheese steak gal, but it was lackluster to me. Oh well!Overall, Philadelphia was fun, but I must admit I am not really in the proper physical state to enjoy it. 7 months pregnant and with arthritic swollen feet is not the way to walk miles in a large city looking at old historic houses. My husband is a saint for putting up with me needing to rest every 3 blocks so my feet would return to normal size.

Philly was fun, but I am glad to be home, and boy did I miss my little man!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye...To My First Car

We met almost 8 years ago. Our eyes met across a crowded parking lot and we both instantly knew what it was to love. We had an immediate connection that could not be denied. Countless trips, adventures, mishaps, arguments, and makeups later, I finally had to say goodbye to my first big girl purchase - my car. My 2000 green Mazda Protege.

Here we are on our first day together in June 2003. Isn't she beautiful? (note: this is not actually us. I got this from google. My camera broke and I can't take a photo of the photo in my album. Use your imagination.)I needed a car once I knew I was staying in Knoxville for graduate school. Most of my friends who had been so nicely driving me back and forth to Memphis the previous 4 years were gone, so I had to grow up, save all my graduation money, and learn how to finance a car. My dad introduced me to the credit union, the secret lot, and finally to my first car! I realize most people I know got their first car when they were 16 and did not have to save any money or finance anything. That's wonderful for them, but I doubt they had the same connection I did. I earned that car. I went a LONG time without one and knew what it was to need/want my own freedom. I paid all my bills and put a lot of love into that used green vehicle. I attended countless Braves games in that car, we drove back from our wedding in that car, and we drove our baby home from the hospital in that car.

And she treated us well. I paid her off over 3 years ago, and it was not until I made the last payment and had the title in hand that I had to do the first real repairs on her. And that was after numerous trips to Memphis and back each year and then Brian using her to go to and from Chattanooga when he used to teach at UTC. Needless to say, she did us proud and lasted way longer than I ever anticipated. She has been sick for about a year and a half, so I knew the goodbye would be soon, but I hoped it would be on our terms. Alas, that was not to be.

As my last post indicated, we had flash floods across the city a few weeks ago. Nowhere had it worse than North Knoxville off Broadway near Fountain City. Exactly where my car was parked at the lot outside Brian's work. The sad part is that Brian's job takes him hours away during the day in a different vehicle, so when he got a call from a colleague that the car was in the flood zone, there was nothing he could do. He was told later that the water got so high it covered the hood of the car and all the lights were blinking on and off until they finally shorted out.

When Jeremy and I went to pick up daddy from work (he obviously could not drive home), I saw my baby for the last time. The water line in the car went halfway up the upholstery on the seats, every cup holder was filled with brown water, and under the hood Brian found all kinds of trash and tree branches that somehow washed in. And it smelled like sewage. The car even moved in the lot, as the water made it float a bit in the parking spot. At least it was not hit by the floating dumpster, like another car only a few feet away.

Shortly before we left for Philadelphia Brian took the title and the keys with him to the gentleman who asked to buy it (why??), and I will never see it again. I hope he gets it running and it makes someone else happy.

Thanks for 8 years of keeping me, my husband and my baby safe! We will miss you!

We have been out of town for eons, so I am way behind in posting about life here in the Hopper family. Check back often this week, as I will be posting a lot to catch up!