Happy Belated Birthday, Monkey!

Monkey had one big wish for her 14th birthday, to have her ears pierced.

Today was the day and it was quite an adventure!

The sweet, unpunctured ear lobes.

The sweet, unpunctured ear lobes.

Friend Paige told me she had taken her daughter downtown to Nashville Ink Tattoo to have her ears poked. I called and talked to a very friendly woman who gave me hours, directions, and the instruction to bring along Monkey’s birth certificate. That seemed like such an odd request, I promptly forgot it.

I didn’t tell Monkey ahead of time that today was the day because I didn’t want her to fret. She was determined to do this, but no use worrying about it ahead of time. I popped down to her room around 10 a.m., told her today was the day!

We headed downtown around 11:30 since the Tattoo parlor opens at noon. Walked a few blocks from the parking garage, a little awed at the immense amount of construction going on downtown. We had to take a serpentine path to get to the parlor because sidewalks kept being closed.

Three young white folks greeted us when we walked in the door at Ink.

First question:

“How can we help you?”

“Monkey wants to get her ear lobes pierced.” (This is a piercing place where you reeeeaaallllyyy want to specify which body part you want pierced.)

Second question, looking at me, then with a head shake, turning to Monkey:

“How old is Monkey?”

“Fourteen.”

Third question:

“Do you have proof of parenthood and ID?”

Thus began a rather twisted path to proving Monkey was my progeny.

The Department of Health doesn’t want “Cool Aunt Ginnie” bringing her niece in, pretending to be her mom, and letting Niece Zelda get that tattoo she’s dying to get, so you have to prove you have the right to give permission for tattoos and piercings. Anyone under 18 has to have parental permission.

(Side note: In TN no one under 18 can purchase a gun, but there is no minimum age for owning one…)

They were not willing to take years of blog posts as proof of parenthood…I asked.

It took a great deal of back and forth conversation, but they finally agreed that they would accept an emailed copy of Monkey’s birth certificate. Thank goodness Buds was working from home today, so he hunted it up, snapped a shot, and sent it off to us so we could proceed with the birthday adventure.

While we waited for the photo to show up, the proprietor started up a video on the multiple big screen televisions in the waiting room.

I was there with my 14 y.o. daughter. He knew she was 14 y.o.

The video he chose to start was from comedian Ron White. When I tell you that I would be embarrassed to watch it with my parents, to fully understand that statement you need to know that Buds and I watched “There’s Something About Mary” with my parents one movie night decades ago, and I wasn’t embarrassed.

That’s how raw and raunchy this video at Ink was. Monkey and I were cackling like crazy and looking at each other with big eyes as Ron White detailed every inappropriate sexual activity you’ve never heard of. The curse words abounded.

Monkey and I agreed that no matter how good her experience was, this was not where we’d be bringing Yessa when she decides to have her ears pierced. Yessa is a a cursing abstainer. And she wants the rest of the world to be as well. Ron White would displease her mightily.

The wait was good because in addition to building up our repertoire of filthy jokes, we had time to look through the tattoo albums. Ink has a great selection of dragonfly tattoos, should I ever decide to get one.

After a good long while, the necessary proof of parenthood was secured. The time had come!

Settled in the chair.

Settled in the chair.

Christina was learning to be a piercer, so she observed, and Rose was the fellow who did the piercing. They were kind to Monkey, willing to let me take photographs (but not video), and relaxed and laughed with us by the end. We even got a chuckle when I told them I was actually her aunt, not her mom. (Saying things to amuse myself. That is my way.)

Rose gloved up. Cleaned Monkey’s ears. Had her put her hair back, then marked the exact spot where the holes would go.

Can you see the tiny black dot?

Can you see the tiny black dot?

Tough to see, but Rose put a tiny black dot on each ear so Monkey could approve the placement.

Super sharp needle going in.

Super sharp needle going in.

Monkey said it only hurt slightly more than her allergy shot. She’s a tough one, this kid.

Rose was quick, efficient, and skilled, and after five minutes, she was pierced up.

The deed is done!

The deed is done!

Rose talked Monkey through how to care for her ears. (Not the peroxide of my childhood.) And we were off.

We grabbed a bite at the library cafe to celebrate. (Red Velvet Cake for the win.)

Pretty, pretty diamonds.

Pretty, pretty diamonds.

You might think that was the end of our adventure, but you’d be wrong!

Then we stopped at Target to look for clothes for Monkey. We found a couple different items, but the highlight for us was when we asked for helping in finding a certain dress that was displayed on a mannequin, and when it was not easily found on nearby racks, the Target Team Member pulled that mannequin’s arm off and stripped her down for us. (My phone had died by then or I’d have a picture of naked mannequin to post. Ron White would approve.)

Monkey and I were kind of wishing we’d gotten to do it ourselves, but we appreciated the help.

We wrapped up our adventure by driving home singing our hearts out to the Dixie Chicks.

What a splendid, loving afternoon.

Happy Birthday Monkey. We love you!

A Local Massadoahesque Swimming Hole

Aunt A told us about a new park she found that her crew had enjoyed, so despite the heat I forced everyone into the car for some recreation.

With easy access to the Harpeth River, and a short drive, this would be a great spot for our splash-needs.

Monkey found a comfy spot in the shade since she didn't want to swim.

Monkey found a comfy spot in the shade since she didn’t want to swim.

The water in the shallows was very warm.

The water in the shallows was very warm.

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Buster hung out on the side to stay close to Monkey, but Yessa and I held hands and walked up river until the water was armpit level for her. The water was crisply cool.

I was so impressed with Yessa’s willingness to step forward into the unknown. The water was brown enough that the bottom could not be seen, and I walked tentatively, tapping with a toe before taking each step. She bobbed right along, ready to hop and swim if needed. It was fun, and the water felt great.

A return trip will definitely be in order…with a picnic.

Electronica

The family has been steadily working our way through sorting, cleaning out, and organizing all the various parts of the house. Old toys are being examined, the storage room has been spiffed up, and Buds and I have big plans for the tidying of the garage this weekend.

A fair amount of electronics have needed to be recycled, and I’m grateful that our county has a place I can take all these items, but it is with very mixed emotions that I set our broken technology items into the shopping carts and piles of old televisions and computer monitors.

Having them shrink-wrapped tells me they are shipped off somewhere else, and the piles were sorted in different ways since the last time we were here, but where are they shipped to? Is someone else bearing the brunt of my easy decision to drop off the old computer?

Of course they are, but is it better to keep the old computer in my house? Is it better to just dump it in the garbage? Neither of those are good options.

I like to think, with fingers crossed, that someone has an eye on all this and that some good comes out the other side of the waste stream.

All dressed up with somewhere to go.

All dressed up with somewhere to go.

Horrible, hideous modern art.

Horrible, hideous modern art.

Shiny!

We love the new kitchen.

Adore it.

The butcher block countertops were getting tedious.

The counters as they looked originally.

The counters as they looked originally.

Coated with just mineral oil.

Coated with just mineral oil.

Buds was dedicated to keeping them looking great, and he treated them religiously with mineral oil, but they weren’t as smooth as we’d hoped. They’d already acquired some stains and scratchy spots.

It was time for a change.

After assorted research by both of us, we agreed that Waterlox was the way to go.

It was an involved process spread over an intensive week, with still a few days to go.

He sanded.

He sanded.

He sanded a lot.

He water-loxed.

He water-loxed.

The waterlox had to dry at least 24 hours between coats and there are four coats.

It was pretty stinky. You’ve got to have a window open for ventilation, which meant timing it with the humid weather as well as we could.

The final coat has been applied and it’s dry. We won’t actually use the countertops until Saturday, and we won’t set anything on them permanently for several more weeks as it continues to cure.

But don’t they look shiny?!

So beautifully shiny.

So beautifully shiny.

Smooth as butter.

Smooth as butter.

We’re still glad we chose butcher block tops, and so pleased with how this has worked out.

Delicious feeling, stain proof, and food-safe. Sounds like a lock.

A “Junkless” Jake

Totally inappropriate title, but it cracks me up. Thanks for the idea, April. πŸ˜‰

Jake got back home on Monday afternoon, having gone through his surgery with no problems. When Buds and I let him out of the cat carrier back in our bedroom, he staggered around for a bit like a drunken cat, but quickly got his balance back.

We’re supposed to keep him quiet with no play for a week.

I’m not sure what sort of magicians they think we are, but getting a twelve-week old cat to not play is like putting marshmallows and sticks out by the bonfire and telling people not to roast them.

Jake waits by the door in our bedroom like an Olympic sprinter waiting for the gun to go off, then he streaks down the hallway. I swear he’s yelling, “Catch me, you fools!” as he zips through your legs.

We’ve agreed to keep him locked in the prison of our bedroom until Saturday, and then we’ll give him a taste of greater freedom.

Eventually his information and picture will be posted here, but for now we’ll keep enjoying his loud purr and two-step-escape tango.

Cat-ch me, you fools.

Your silly games bore me.

Your silly games bore me.

DIY, DIWYF, and DIWAP

Making up some new acronyms for us:

DIY: Do It Yourself
DIWYF: Do It With Your Friend
DIWAP: Do It With A Professional
and, finally,

WDYDI: Why Did You Do It?!

I had the blog post written in my head. The long, stirring saga of how I tried to fix the shower leak myself, but then I had some trouble, so when Todd was here for a visit, I begged for his help.

He looks knowledgeable.

He looks knowledgeable.

Let’s climb in the shower and solve this puzzle!

We were so happy with our short-lived success.

We were so happy with our short-lived success.

We watched a youtube video or two then figured it out.

Or, so I thought.

A few days later…still leaking.

So, I trolled around on the internet and found Pretty Handy Girl, who happens to be the daughter of one of our acquaintances from our old church in VA. Reading Brittany’s shower fixing blog post inspired me to keep trying.

I took apart the shower handles, and took the parts with me to Home Depot.

Home Depot did not have the parts I needed. (Old house, old shower handles. Home Depot not going to be able to help.)

The helpful plumbing man at Home Depot sent me to ABC Plumbing Supply Store. “They’ll have what you need.”

They didn’t.

But, one of the plumbers who was in the shop getting supplies looked at my pipes and said, “Sullivan Eastside Plumbing. That’s where you’ll need to go for Sterling parts.”

Going into the plumbing supply stores was a pleasure for me. I went on so many jobs with my dad when I was a kid, and I always loved going into these stores with their jumble of shelves. I was always the only girl, and everyone was so friendly. We’d often get a pop from a machine that looked like this:

Pop your top.

Pop your top.

It felt like visiting a beloved museum.

Off I went to Joe B. Sullivan Eastside Plumbing. It’s an institution. Been around for a very long time. The shelves look like they are ready to topple. The fellow who was unpacking boxes and hunted up the parts I needed just seemed to know where everything was. I attempted to engage him in conversation, hoping he’d want to walk down memory lane with me, talking about our dads and plumbing jobs of the past.

Didn’t happen.

But, he did have what I needed.

He wrote up my ticket on a piece of paper, I paid with cash, and then headed out the door, back to the 21st century.

Drove home, put in all the parts, turned on the water…no drips!

So happy, so thrilled. Patting myself on the back for all the money I’d saved.

The next morning, Buds and I headed to the garage for a workout just as Yessa got in the shower in our bathroom.

Water raining down into the garage below the shower.

Sigh…

Admitting DIYD (Do It Yourself Defeat), I called up our plumber, and they sent out a guy.

I still wanted to understand what was going, so gently inquired of the fellow (Scout, we’ll call him.) if he minded if I watched and learned.

“As long as I’m not taking a shower, you can be in here with me.”

Fair enough.

To bring things to their unhappy ending for this chapter of the saga, Scout fixed things gingerly, but it turns out the pipe was shaved down on one side, probably when installed, and that edge has gotten so thin it tears the rubber gaskets right away.

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The picture above doesn’t show much, but it looks like a scary eyeball, which is how I feel about that shower now, so I included it.

Scout fixed things as best he could, using the parts I’d already purchased, and then told me, “It will leak again. To truly stop the leak, you are going to have to switch out the pipes.”

We used the shower for about a month before it started raining into the garage again.

So, for now, our shower is a dry, unused room. The cost to take out the pipes makes it nonsensical to do until we are ready to tear out the whole bathroom.

And, given enough time to forget my bad memories, I’ll probably decide I can do at least some of the rehab myself.

What could possibly go wrong?

A Joyful First!

Buds and I were in the midst of a workout in the garage when I looked out the windows toward the front garden, and there, fluttering around the butterfly bush with 10 blue butterflies, was…A MONARCH!

Blurry, but beautiful.

Blurry, but beautiful.

I planted milkweed three years ago in the hopes of this moment.

The whole family came to look in response to my excited shouts.

And as the children were clustered in front of me, watching the flutterby (As Monkey used to say.), I said to their backs, “Let’s kill this one and pin it in a glass frame to commemorate this moment.”

That got a shout of laughter from the Buster after he turned to look at me in shock and saw the twinkle in my eye.

I knew he’d appreciate the humor.

Fingers crossed for more orange beauties in the future!

Semifreddo, “Italian” Lights and Knockerball

Editor’s note: Videos included. View at mommie2zs.com.

Monkey made semifreddo (soft ice-creamy dessert) early in the week and it made us all dream of Italy.

Ready to begin.

Ready to begin.

Measure, measure, measure.

Measure, measure, measure.

The mixing took forever!

The mixing took forever!

Crumbled cookies ready to be covered.

Crumbled cookies ready to be covered.

Filling the cups for the freezer.

Filling the cups for the freezer.

The delicious ending.

The delicious ending.

Nashville has an annual festival called “Italian Lights.” Since Monkey had been craving “real” Italian food for several days, despite getting a semifreddo fix, we thought we’d give the festival a chance.

We picked up Buds at the end of the work day on a Friday, and headed to Bicentennial Park in downtown Nashville. (FYI, Bicentennial Park is not the same place as Centennial Park. If you are at the Parthenon in Nashville, you are at the wrong park…Nashville is weird.)

As we headed toward the tents and banners, we could hear the crooning of Frank Sinatra songs. (The Chris I dated before this one I married was a huge Sinatra fan, so I know lots of words to Sinatra songs.)

Frank Sinatra cover artist, a food stand that sold meatball subs and ziti, and a gelato food cart, that was where the “Italian” connection ended, but we had a great time regardless.

No one seems to be listening to the Pope.

No one seems to be listening to the Pope.

Buster wants the oar.

Buster wants the oar.

Where are we headed?!

Where are we headed?!

There were two highlights of the evening. The children all loved playing Knockerball!

We’re pretty sure we never saw these in Italy, but maybe we just never wandered to the right part of town.

When the tall kid joined the game, things got fun!

When the tall kid joined the game, things got fun!

Worked up quite a thirst!

Worked up quite a thirst!

After Knockerball, Buds was excited to show me the homemade pickle stand, which had lots of free samples. We came home with bread and butter pickles, fresh dill pickles, and hilarious memories of Buddie trying the fiery hot pickles and getting a look of widening shock as the spices hit.

Yup, it's getting hotter.

Yup, it’s getting hotter.

It was a beautiful night to be out and about, and if we’re craving Italian food again next year, we’ll probably go to an Italian restaurant… then go to the festival to play Knockerball.

The Midwest Adventure Continues

We had a relaxed morning at Mom’s after the wedding. She would be heading out to church, and we’d be hitting the road to Kansas City for some Chan Clan time.

Buds helped her get her new phone all figured out, then hugs all around before she left.

Pretty, pretty new phone.

Pretty, pretty new phone.

They've almost caught her in height.

They’ve almost caught her in height.

Time with the Chandlers is always joyful. Filled with some projects, lots of games, swimming, laughter, and our family heading to our basement space for bed while they stay up for a few more hours. We all love it.

Buds stole Henry's spot to get a work day in.

Buds stole Henry’s spot to get a work day in.

Such a kind soul to give up his love seat.

Such a kind soul to give up his love seat.

Twenty+ years of friendship looks good on these two.

Twenty+ years of friendship looks good on these two.

Settling in together.

Settling in together.

This one started training for her first paid job while we were there!

This one started training for her first paid job while we were there!

Off to her first day of training!

Off to her first day of training!

Still young enough for playground time.

Still young enough for playground time.

These two were like mermaids every day.

These two were like mermaids every day.

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So many games.

So many games.

She's on the job, ready to fix your writing woes.

She’s on the job, ready to fix your writing woes.

The tuffies and their candy cigs.

The tuffies and their candy cigs.

Monkey wouldn't cave to the pressure to "smoke." Lu made a video barrier to protect her.

Monkey wouldn’t cave to the pressure to “smoke.” Lu made a video barrier to protect her.

Of COURSE we saw a rainbow when we were with the Chan Clan!

Of COURSE we saw a rainbow when we were with the Chan Clan!

We played around with the new Instant pot, organized the pantry, played hours of video games, swam, swam, swam, and talked, talked, talked.

Buds flew home on Tuesday morning, and the kids and I headed out on Thursday morning.

A late morning stop at Panera to get a bite:

It was still pretty early.

It was still pretty early.

We were about 3 hours from home when The Buster’s tummy started acting up.

Long story short, with no graphic details, we stayed in a hotel in Metropolis, Illinois for the night so the young fellow could upchuck in comfort.

He still likes a snuggle when he's not feeling well.

He still likes a snuggle when he’s not feeling well.

We stayed near a local version of IHOP called “Huddle House.” I walked over to get dinner for the females of our group, and when an order was ready they would call out, “Huddle Up!” which I thought was cute.

Sixteen hours later, he was back to normal, though a little weak. We grabbed a quick bite at the hotel then headed toward Paducah for a stop at our favorite coffee shop.

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Well, crap and mesh, there’s an open bridge on the route between Metropolis and Paducah.

I have a very strong aversion to open grates. A very strong aversion. Driving across this bridge made me feel…unsettled. And it was so incredibly long! Monkey kindly took photos so I could give Buds the full understanding of my bravery when I told him about it later.

Thanks to google maps: You can see...all open mesh.

Thanks to google maps: You can see…all open mesh.

It goes on forever!

It goes on forever!

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That’s not a road we’ll be taking again.

A few more hours and we were home safe and sound. Another grand road trip in the books.

Italy Trip – The Complete Recap.

You’ve been patient.

I’ve spluttered these posts out over months and months.

I’ve worked my way through the stages of grief and we can finally put these sweet memories to bed.

He was zonked.

He was zonked.

Someday, when I’m reading back through this splendid trip, I’d like to be able to do it in order, so for my own benefit, here’s the trip chronologically:

Italy Trip – First Day Complete – Originally published September 24, 2015.

Our Day In Boston- Italy Trip Day #2 – Originally published October 2, 2015.

Italy Trip – Day #3- Overnight Flight and Istanbul Airport – Originally published October 3, 2015.

Italy Trip- Day #4: Time at the Milan Expo – Originally published October 6, 2015.

Italy Trip- Days 5-7: Lake Como, Part 1 – Originally published October 10, 2015.

Italy Trip- Days 7-9 Lake Como, Part 2 – Originally published October 11, 2015.

Italy Trip- Lake Como- Extra Photos – Originally published October 11, 2015.

Italy Trip- Days 9-13- The Dolomites- Part 1 – Originally published October 11, 2015.

Italy Trip- Days 9-13- The Dolomites- Part 2 – Originally published October 11, 2015.

Italy Trip- The Dolomites- Extra Pictures – Originally published October 11, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 13- 15 – Venice- Part 1 – Originally published October 12, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 13- 15 – Venice- Part 2 – Originally published October 13, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 15-21 – Florence- Part 1- The Apartment – Originally published October 17, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 15-21 – Florence- Part 2- First Day Errands – Originally published October 17, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 15-21 – Florence- Part 3 – A Playground? Don’t Mind If I Do! – Originally published October 29, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 15-21 – Florence- Part 4 – Museo Galileo – Originally published October 30, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 15-21 – Florence- Part 5- David…Here We Come. – Originally published October 17, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 22 – 25 Inside The Walls In Lucca – Originally published January 10, 2016.

Lucca Funk – Originally published January 13, 2016.

Italy Trip – Days 26 – 34 – Our Lucca Farmhouse – Originally published April 30, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 26’ish – Let’s Visit A Shell Of A Monastery – Originally published May 5, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 27 – San Gimignano – Originally published June 16, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 28 – We Say Goodbye to The Grands and Spend The Day In Lucca – Originally published May 5, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 30 – Lucca Farmhouse Day Trip to Barga – Originally published May 3, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 30’ish – Let’s Visit A Cemetery – Originally published May 5, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 31 – Our Lucca Farmhouse – We Take A Cooking Class – Originally published April 29, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 32 – A Lucca Farmhouse Day – The Magnificent Ordinary – Originally published October 26, 2015.

Italy Trip – Day 34 – Cinque Terre – Originally published June 23, 2016.

Italy Trip – Lucca Farmhouse Wrap Up – Originally published May 5, 2016.

Day 34- Italy Trip – Travel To Ischia – Originally published October 29, 2015.

Day 35 – Italy Trip – Funny beginning to our day in Ischia – Originally published October 29, 2015.

Italy Trip – Days 35 – 41 – The Island Of Ischia – Originally published June 15, 2016.

Day 35 – Italy Trip – Let’s Find A Beach In Ischia – Originally published October 29, 2015.

Italy Trip – Day 39 – Pompeii – Originally published June 16, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 39 – Pompeii Video – Originally published June 19, 2016.

Italy Trip – Days 41 – 48 – Sicily – Originally published June 19, 2016.

Italy Trip – Days 41 – 44 – Ortigia – Originally published August 12, 2016.

Italy Trip – Days 44 – 47 – Agrigento – Originally published August 12, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 47 – Let’s Go To The Beach! – Originally published August 14, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 47 – 49 Terre Di Himera Agriturismo – Originally published September 2, 2016.

When I was a kid – Originally published January 13, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day 49 – The End – Rome and Home – Originally published September 7, 2016.

Italy Trip – Day # Last – It Is Finished. Originally published November 16, 2015.

Extra posts:

Good Choices – Originally published November 18, 2015.

Let’s Drink All the Coffee! – Originally published October 22, 2015.

Shuttered – Originally published October 20, 2015.

Italy Trip – The Stories That Make Me Guffaw – Originally published November 18, 2015.

Fracture Me – Originally published December 5, 2015.

Forty-eight posts and I still haven’t done it justice.

Thanks for reading.

Family photo at Lake Como

Family photo at Lake Como