Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Orleans!

I had a conference in New Orleans that just happened to fall at the same time as Jeremy's spring break, so Brian and I decided to take advantage of the prime opportunity to totally dump our kids on other people and spend some time together.

We had a wonderful time!  Brian LOVES New Orleans, so he spent months reading up on all the great places to see and where we absolutely had to eat.  I am glad he did, because we managed to fit a lot of fun into a short period of time.

Fun on the street car (not named Desire, sadly)!
on the streetcar -  the drunk frat boys showed up later to make the end of our ride hilarious - after working on a college campus so long, that stuff doesn't bother me, but it was funny to see the other people appalled at their behavior

The house I picked out on our ride uptown.  
We took the street car uptown and ate at a fabulous tiny dive called Casamentos.  It has been featured on the Food Network and was so delicious.  I had fried crab claws and shrimp, while Brian had the soft shell crab.  Yummy!

famously fast oyster shuckers
nom nom nom
I was working, so Brian spent a lot of time roaming the city on his own, and he kept sending me fun pictures throughout the day.  He had a blast!  The boy loves anything historical, so he was set.

We spent a lot of time in the French Quarter, obviously, and we both decided we are now too old and boring to enjoy Bourbon Street.  I am OK with that.  I did have several drinks, which happens about once a year these days, and got some beads, so we were not total fuddy duddies.
beads and a cocktail-to-go
We ate beignets at Cafe Du Monde and they were insanely yummy.  Btw, we went on a Friday evening and immediately sat down and were served with no wait.  Saturday morning, we walked past and the line was literally hours long.  Don't do that.
mmm, I need another one...
Brian took a random pic of me in Cafe Du Monde
Jackson Square was really pretty.  I loved the park itself for its great views, but I also loved the fun booths and fortune tellers set up all around the perimeter.  New Orleans culture is such a hodge podge.

look - I got Brian in multiple photos!
Naturally, I had both my palms and my tarot cards read.  We did it at night by candlelight, so it was so fun.  Apparently, jealousy is in my past, I will have one marriage and no divorce, 2 maybe 3 kids (NOOO! I made her double check that just in case), financial happiness in 2015, travel to the East in the summer, and travel to the West in the fall.  I also have a big change coming that I need to not be afraid of.  Hilariously vague and would pretty much work for every single person who sat down in her chair.  I loved it.
so funny
We hit up the jazz/music scene on Frenchmen Street and heard a lovely jazz quartet in The Spotted Cat.  It was a fun little area full of music clubs that had a bit more of a calm vibe than the mess of the French Quarter at night.  We heard the Russell Welch Hot Jazz Quartet and I was very impressed.  Brian preferred the big band stylings of The Young Fellaz Brass Band, who he heard outside the cathedral.  Either way, good music was all over the place.
the spotted cat music club
It was more crowded and fun at night, but my daytime pictures turned out better
my hubs in the park
We ate even more amazing food, and hit up the The Old Coffee Pot in the French Quarter (also featured on the Food Network) for an incredible breakfast, and made sure to get a muffuletta from the originators of the famous sandwich at Central Grocery and Deli.  I am literally drooling as I type this remembering all of the amazing food.
old, outdoor seating, amazing breakfast
sooo good
Oh, we also found where William Faulkner lived in New Orleans (we will always be literature nerds) and it is converted into a great little bookstore.  They had a glass case of tons of first editions of his books.  So cool to see!
so handsome
Naturally, we needed to get the kids some souvenirs, so we got them VooDoo dolls.  Heehee.  They loved them.  We also got Jeremy a t-shirt and Violet some mardi gras beads with mermaids on them.
both bring positive things to the kiddos

they beelined for this when they got home
And I suppose I should mention that I was actually there to interview some amazing candidates for positions at UT.  We met some great potential Vols, and our own graduate assistants did a wonderful job interviewing for their first professional jobs post-master's degree.  Look at all the orange!  When hundreds upon hundreds of schools are set up to meet candidates, I have to say I love all of our obnoxious orange and how it stands out in a crowd!
our interview team: Jerry, Teddi, me, Stephanie, and Nequel - and a ton of orange
two of our overwhelmingly orange tables
me and my boss, Jerry
So thanks to UT for sending me to New Orleans to recruit some amazing new talent for our school.  Also, Good luck to Camille, Caroline, Amy, and Danny, our 4 amazing graduate assistants who interviewed for jobs at the conference and will make their new institutions proud!
I drove a van rather than hopped on a plane so I could give a ride to our amazing grads.  Love them!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Race Cars and Princesses

My life is filled with contradictions.  I go from fart jokes to tea parties in an instant.  Nothing makes my son happier these days than How to Train Your Dragon books filled with gruff heroes and dragons with retractable teeth.  My daughter prefers to bake pretend cupcakes and sing songs to her dolls.  We watch the NASCAR race every Sunday (gee whiz, how fun!) and Jeremy races along with his cars while Violet uses the Danica Patrick car (the only female driver) and puts princess stickers all over it "to make it more pretty."

A few weeks ago, we had a decidedly Jeremy event when we cheered our little Cub Scout on as he competed in the Pinewood Derby.  Brian and I have no idea what makes a winning car, nor do we have the tools to turn a block of wood into a race car, but we called on the troops (ie Hall Directors) and managed to make something passable.  It is possible we broke the bottom of it and covered it with painted tape.  All four wheels did not actually touch the ground, but it did roll, so we considered it a win.  Jeremy was happy and excited and that is all that matters.

So proud of his janky Minecraft-themed car.  (the toy is Velcro-ed on so we pulled it off before the race)

Vi was named a Race Official.  I really do appreciate how all of the Boy Scout events we have been to have been very younger sibling accepting.

Excited Boy Scouts everywhere!

Jeremy did not win, but he had fun and still got a ribbon and his name called.  You would have thought he got first place as he ran up there to get his ribbon.  So cute.

Switch gears.

This past weekend, we had a very Violet experience.  Ever since the Cinderella trailer hit the internet, a certain little girl has been watching it nonstop.  Cinderella is her princess.  I think all little girls have one that they like the most, and for Miss Violet, it has always been Cinderella.  She loves Frozen, and Sleeping Beauty a lot, but nothing beats her precious Cinderella.  All the other kids were Elsa for Halloween, but Violet was Cinderella and corrected anyone who mistook her blue dress for one from Arendale.

Needless to say, this movie has been an exciting countdown for her.  We happened to be in Memphis, so Nona, Aunt Dani, and Aunt Megan got in on the action as well.

Notice Nona has an Elsa braid and a Sleeping Beauty shirt.  She definitely knows her audience.

What is this cuteness?

She LOVED it.  She is 3, so there was some restlessness, but she loved it.  The ball blew her away and she loved the Fairy Godmother.  Afterwards on the drive back, she kept whispering lines from the movie to her Cinderella doll.  "Have courage and be kind."  Immediately upon leaving the theatre, she started twirling in her dress like they do in the movie.  It was really cute to see.

And those are my kids.  I love that I get the best of both worlds. I am comfortable being a mom at a derby race and reading in dragon voices, and I am equally happy dressing up in a tiara for an impromptu ball in the living room.  Whatever keeps my babies happy!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

UT and Fainting Goats

I have a lot of bleed from my job to my personal life.  They may not work for some people, but it works for me, and to be honest, as much as my family has to put up with strange hours, they more than make up for it in fun benefits.

The area of campus I am responsible for naturally needed a mascot (I totally just made up this need, of course), so back in 2008, my staff and I introduced UT to the TN Fainting Goat.  We have since gone goat crazy, and just this past week we had two big goat events.

First, according to the Chinese New Year, we have just entered the Year of the Goat!  If that does not scream "random themed party", I don't know what does.  We had a lot of fun creating a goat-infested party for all of the RAs on campus.  I brought the kids, of course, and they did their best fainting goat impressions with the RAs.  I swear this is my real job.
Publix called twice to confirm that we wanted the goat upside down on the cake. Heehee
upside down goats all over the place!
goodie bags
fortune stick game
so much food
we bought a horse pinata and turned it into a goat
love those RAs
my little fainting goats - notice Elsa and Anna dolls also in on the action
kiddos with their fortune sticks

Next, we held our first annual Fainting Goat Fun Run 5K!  I require the staff to produce two campus-wide events each year and this was our spring event.  The students worked so hard to make this happen, and I am so proud of them!  We had over 200 registered runners and we raised over $4000!  All proceeds go to our area philanthropy - Heifer International, an organization that battles hunger and uses animals - like goats - to offer assistance to families in need.  Brian and I walked the course with Vi in the stroller, but Jeremy teamed up with one of our Hall Directors and ran it.  I had no idea he could run a 5K.  Now he wants to do more.  :)
One of our HDs made the logo!

ready to race!

Jeremy reinacted his finish after we finally made it to the end with Violet
our first family 5K

We got in free to the UT Baseball game this past weekend,and it was a blast!  It was Boy Scout Day, so Jeremy had free admission, but, naturally, we showed up and one of my RAs is the Marketing intern, so low and behold, whole family free!
always selfies with this girl
let's be honest, she whined through most of the game
It has been a goal of mine since before I ever even had children to one day teach my kids to score a baseball game.  That moment has finally come, and I was so excited.  He was too young until this point, but this time when I pulled out my scorebook, he wanted to learn more.  Then more.  Then more.  Soon, he had taken it over and was marking balls and strikes before the umpire even made the call - he was good!  He loved writing the "K"s for strikeouts and I got the position numbers to finally make sense for him.  Obviously, coloring in the diamond when someone scored was the best part.  He totally thought I was crazy as I tried to show him how to score a fielder's choice and some sacrifice bunts, but he'll get to all that eventually.  I was just so excited that he was interested.  Violet went to the playground and the concession stand during the game, but Jeremy did not want to leave his seat to miss marking a play.  Awe, my son.  Love.
my boy
so proud of him

The kids got to run the bases and meet the players after the game.  Fun!  Violet was not as impressed, but the playground was a big hit, so we played again after the game as well.

so orange

Finally, I used my UT staff discount to buy cheap tickets to A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Clarence Brown Theatre.  This was my Valentine's Day gift to Brian - a night of Shakespeare and no kids!!  I paid one of our RAs (naturally) to keep the monsters, and Brian and I had our first real date in at least 3 years.  No joke.  We had a blast.  I do love my man.
I include this only to mark for the record that I brushed my hair and wore eyeliner - craziness