Happy, Happy, Live Out Loud

Last week we took a family trip down to Charleston, SC.  In the 10 years I’ve been in Atlanta, I’d never been to Charleston before.  Ridiculous!  We had so much fun!  It’s a beautiful, clean, historic city ON THE WATER.  Seriously, it doesn’t get much better.  Why have I not been there every long weekend and vacation?  Why don’t we live there????  I could be a horse carriage tour guide and Jason could run a bicycle taxi!   There.  It’s all figured out.

While it’s beautiful and classical, it’s also totally haunted.  I know that all the “Ghost Tours” are ways to suck a little more money out of tourists, but a town with so much history is bound to have a few apparitions hanging around.  On Tuesday night, Jason and I took our friends up on their offer to take the kids for the night and we went on a ghost tour at the Old Jail.  I think the offer was actually made so we could go out and have a fancy, romantic dinner, but…well…we wanted to see ghosts (and we didn’t want our kids tripping us or slowing us down if we needed to run).  The Old Jail was built on the site of an old pauper cemetery, across the street from a hospital that had been used as an insane asylum.  Spooooky!  We actually never saw any ghosts or super-natural activity.  In the basement, I DID smell flowers about 3 seconds before the guide mentioned that people sometimes inexplicably smell roses in that room.  The flowers I smelled weren’t roses, and it very well could have been somebody’s perfume, but I sniffed around afterward and never smelled it again. 

Oddly, the ghost tour was NOT the creepiest thing that happened to us in Charleston.  The Sunday before the tour, our first full day in Charleston, we’d been exploring the Historic District when we stepped into the cemetery behind St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.  We were looking around at the gravestones and trying to find the graves of John Rutledge & Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, 2 signers of the US Constitution. It’s a very old cemetery (obviously) and many of the stones are hard to read, so it requires a bit of effort & concentration to get all the information.  While we were there, I was pushing Z in his stroller.  The paths were all loose and uneven stones, so I was moving a bit slower than Jason & Amelia. 

When I skipped a few rows and caught up, Jason was reading a gravestone and Amelia was a few stones down.  She was being quiet & was fairly calm, so I didn’t worry too much about her (before entering, we’d had a talk about how she HAD to be respectful or we’d have to leave).  While Jason & I were talking, Amelia was slowly approaching us, still looking at the graves.  When she got closer, we both realized that she was stopping in front of each stone, folding her hands in front of her, bowing her head and saying something under her breath.  It wasn’t COMPLETELY out of the way, she’s had babysitters who say grace before each meal and every so often she asks to do it at home.  When she was done, she’d raised her head and move on to the next stone.  Jason & I exchanged puzzled glances.  When we were within earshot of her, we both heard her say, tenderly but with conviction, “Happy, happy, live out loud”. When she moved to the next monument, again it was “Happy, happy, live out loud”.  She did this a few more times before she looked up and saw us staring at her.  Then she just said “what?”, as if this was the most natural thing to do. 

Neither of us were really sure what to say.  It was really the sweetest, kindest thing to see.  Still, it was weird.  Finally Jason asked her what she was doing.  Amelia just shrugged her shoulders.  He asked where she’d heard that saying, thinking that maybe she’d heard it on a TV show or movie.  She looked at both of us and said “Oh, brother told me to say it.”

Um….excuse me?

As always, Z just gave us his Cheshire Cat smile.


Here’s how it looked.  Notice Jason frozen beside her, not quite sure what the hell to do.  He actually may be reading something,  it’s just funny to imagine him frozen in terror by his 4 year old daughter.  (btw, I just noticed that J appears to be standing on a grave…that can’t be good) 


I tried to get video, but Amelia got all self-conscious and wouldn’t do it. 

So, are our kids possessed?  Maybe…but probably not.

Was it completely weird and creepy?  No doubt.



BTW, if anyone DOES know of somewhere Amelia could have seen or heard that, please let me know.  I googled it, but didn’t come up with anything.  And let me tell you, a little girl giving a seemingly random blessing in a cemetery is creeeeeeeeepy.


Blame it on MJ

I’m in the middle of a post….I hope it’s a good one.  I started writing on Wednesday night and I was thinking that I could finish it up at work last night.  I figured it was a Thursday night with Iran, Mark Sanford & a LKL Special Hour on Farrah Fawcett….how busy could it be?  Well….

So, at some point I’ll finish that post.  And maybe I’ll write a thoughtful Michael Jackson post.   Until then, I’ll just pose a question……

Do you think that, somewhere in South Carolina, Mark Sanford is doing cartwheels and fist-pumps?  Just askin’



Btw, this just made me tear up a little… 

Flip Flops

I’m going to go ahead and warn you that this post is not what you would traditionally call “deep”.  Yes, I could write a diatribe on how flip flops mirror the state of modern society or how the history of female footwear is indicative of women in politics.  But really….it’s just about my shoes.

Before I broke my ankle, I loved shoes.  I loved looking at shoes.  I loved shopping for shoes.  I loved trying on shoes.  I don’t want to get too dramatic, but breaking my ankle completely robbed me of this joy.  I honestly could care less about shoe shopping.  I find a pair of shoes and wear them as much as I can until they fall off my feet.  I do keep a few pairs of shoes in the wings in case I want to get fancy or my outfit requires something different.  But generally, I stick to my everyday shoes. 

Last winter my shoes were a pair of black Bass clogs that I got at the Bass Outlet on Clearance for $8.  The advantage to these shoes was that they made me tall like heels used to do.  It has to be a VERY good day (ankle-wise) for me to wear heels.  But with these cool clogs, I was able to kick them on, gain a few inches and feel pretty good.  However, near the end of winter they started coming apart near my toe and as the weather got warmer my feet were getting stinky.  Buh-bye clogs.

Luckily, as I phased clogs out, it was getting warm enough to phase flip-flops in.

(please tell me that other people put this much thought and process into their footwear…..)

I love flip-flops.  They’re easy to put on…and even easier to kick off.  They’re pretty versatile.  I feel like they make the wearer look effortlessly cool.  Yay!

So, found a pair of flip-flops that I hadn’t worn very much the previous summer and put them into regular rotation.  Brown leather(-like)…goes with everything.  I don’t have the prettiest feet but, as long as I kept my nails painted, I looked presentable.

This was great until I wore my shoes to the Wanee Music Festival.  I figured that they’d be good comfy shoes that I could kick on and off pretty easily.  The one thing I didn’t anticipate was the mud.  Deep, thick, squishy mud.  Mud that sucked your shoe off as you tried to quick-step across the field.  I was able to retrieve my shoes any time I lost them, but when I got home my shoes were torn apart and permanently caked with mud.

I was mourning the loss of my perfect flip-flops when I found another pair in my closet that I’d forgotten about.  They were dark gold and had just enough sparkle to make them fancy (but subtle enough to make them passable for casual).  They were literally the PERFECT shoes for me.  The color complemented my burgundy toenail polish perfectly.  I’m completely obsessed with burgundy polish on my toes….but that’s another post…..

So, I wore my perfect shoes for a solid 2 weeks.  They went with everything.  They never gave me a blister.  Best of all, they looked perfect with the dress I’d planned to wear to a wedding I was going to.  Victory!

I was at this wedding, shoes sparkling, feeling fine, when I took Z out to the car to change his diaper.  The wedding was at a farm, so the cars were parked in a field.  I was almost to my car when I tripped and BROKE my beautiful, perfect flip-flop (right foot).  Luckily, the wedding was at a farm and not a swanky hotel and I just went barefoot for the rest of the day.  Actually, I don’t think anybody ever noticed….

So, here I am, back home after 2 fun, shoe-destroying trips……flip-flop-less.  Sad.

As I said at the beginning of this post, this isn’t the deepest series of thoughts that I’ve ever had.  I’m actually feeling a little embarrassed about the lame-ness of this whole thing and how upset I am to not have a “go-to” pair of shoes.  My main point of writing this was to remind myself that I need to go buy flip-flops tomorrow. 

Aren’t you glad you read this?

Parenting Rule #634- Never Offer a 4-Year Old Scotch

Amelia:  Mommy, I’m thirsty

Me:  What do you want ?

Amelia:  What do we have?

Me: Water

Amelia:  That’s all we have?

Me:  ….and Scotch

Amelia:  Ooh!  Scotch!

Me:   um…no.

Amelia:  Why not?

Me:  You wouldn’t even like it if you tried it

Amelia:  Can I try it?

Me:   NO!  Scotch has alcohol and it’s only for adults.

Amelia:   Then why did you even offer?


Seriously….I have no idea…..


This past weekend I went down to Florida, dropped the kids with Jason’s family & headed over to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for the Wanee Music Festival.   It’s funny, we pass the park every time we drive to Jason’s parents’ house, but we’d just never stopped.  I had NO IDEA how amazing the park was and how incredible it was to see live music there.  If you’re ever in the area, I insist that you stop in and look around.

I heard about the music festival when I was checking out the tour dates for Grace Potter & the Nocturnals (awesome band….check them out).  I was skimming the dates, looking for something near Atlanta when I saw “Live Oak, FL”.  I recognized the name from our trips to visit in-laws and I couldn’t figure out WHY Grace would ever play there.  I clicked the link and saw the most insane lineup….Allman Brothers, Derek Trucks, Little Feat, etc….are you kidding me???  I thought about going for a while, but couldn’t think of anyone that I thought would be able to go (I knew Jason wouldn’t be able to go).  For a minute I gave up and thought “oh well…it was a nice thought”.  Then I started thinking about how doing something alone has never stopped me before and should never stop me in the future.  I’m young and strong and smart and I can’t let a little loneliness stop me from finding joy.  Then I thought about how my younger sister regularly makes cross-country trips alone.  What did I have to worry about???

So, I bought my ticket.

I still held out hope that I’d be able to find someone to go, but as the date got closer all of my potential festival buddies had other things come up.  I didn’t care, I was still going to go.  Occasionally I’d tell people about my plans and they’d look at me with concern and ask “do you think that’s safe?”  One friend literally told me “I don’t think it’s safe.  Please don’t go.”  I smiled and nodded and told them I’d be fine.

By this time I’d found an online forum for people going to the festival.  I figured that if I couldn’t find somebody I knew who was going, I’d find someone who was going and get to know them.  Over the next couple months I got to virtually know many people on the board and found that, although we were all from very different backgrounds, we all had the love of great music in common.  Leading up to the festival, I emailed a couple of the women on the board and asked if any of them minded me tagging along and camping with them.  This was at the urging of another (awesome awesome awesome) member of the board, although it had crossed my mind already.  It was funny, when Jason first heard that a “random guy” had private messaged me through the board, he was uncomfortable with it.  He hadn’t been on the board and knew nothing about these people, even though I was starting to think of them as friends.  Once I explained the intention of the message and read the exact wording, all he could say was “Wow, that’s really cool of him.”  Yeah, it really was. 

So, in the early morning hours of June 5, I packed up the kids and my camping equipment and headed to Florida.  I met my mother-in-law at the gate and handed over my kids and my dog and headed into my adventure. 

Although I’d seen a map, studied the map, memorized the map, once I got into the park I had no idea where I was or which way to go.  There were people EVERYWHERE, most had been there since the day before.  I drove around aimlessly for a while until I saw the SOS/BOS Banner that marked the unofficial meeting place for board members.  IMG_0814

There was a group standing near-by, so I pulled over, jumped out and brightly said “Hey!  Is this you guys????”.  They all looked at me, looked at the banner & said “Oh, no, they just left”.  My group wasn’t there and I had no idea where to go.  It was so packed that I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere to even park my car, let alone set up a tent.  By some amazing stroke of luck, I was able to get my friend Ashley (my camping buddy) on the phone, my cell signal was lousy all weekend, and she gave my directions to her site.

For all the activity planning & brainstorming we’d done of the board, once the initial meet & greet was done (the day before, I couldn’t make it), everyone had sort of scattered and done their own thing.  When I got to the site, it was Ashley and her friend Allen.  I worried for a second because the smaller the group the more conspicuous the “extra wheel”, but that passed quickly because they were pretty awesome.  Ashley & Allen met in college and have spent the last 20 years going to concerts and festivals together.  They were the perfect camping buddies- happy, laid-back & incredibly welcoming.  By the end of the weekend, I couldn’t believe that I had JUST met them.


I don’t want to just skip over the good stuff and leave it at “everything was awesome”, but…well….everything was awesome and as much as I write, I’ll never be able to quite capture the essence of being there.  Everything was calm and happy.  Everybody was existing together.  Music fans, frat boys, hippies & off-duty carnies (maybe?) were all hanging out enjoying the same things.  It was just a really happy place.  Wanee is not Bonnaroo or Rothbury.  It’s smaller, more intimate & geared more toward people who just love the music.  It was cool.

There are two stages at the park.   The Peach stage is your typical “main stage” with a field in front.  The other smaller stage, the Mushroom Stage, is more intimate with trees surrounding and dabbled among the audience.  People hang hammocks between the trees and it’s understood that they’re free for the taking until the owner comes back.  There are lights strung between the trees and huge ribbon mobiles hung on either side of the stage.  It’s truly magical. 


One bad thing happened during the weekend….and I’m afraid I have nobody to blame but myself.  After driving to FL on very little sleep and hitting the ground running, during the Gov’t Mule show my body completely revolted.  I realized later that I hadn’t consumed nearly enough water.  That added to my lack of sleep just made me feel like hell.  I lounged on a hill through Mule and then trudged over to the other stage to see Grace Potter (you know, the entire reason I went).  After two songs I realized that I just wasn’t enjoying it and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy anything else until I went back to my site and slept.  It killed me.  I’m surprised I didn’t cry.  I walked back and collapsed in the back of my SUV.  I’d sacrificed Grace and I decided to sacrifice the Allman Bros (because they were playing both nights) in order to get some sleep and be able to see Derek Trucks Band at midnight.  After a couple hours sleeps with one bout of dehydration-induced vomiting in the middle, I woke up feeling fine just in time to walk over to the stage and see Derek.  I went over, drank some water and enjoyed an amazing show (with Susan AND Warren sitting in!).

Saturday morning was a little more laid back for everyone (there were some nasty hangovers going on).  I woke feeling a little more relaxed and feeling like I wanted to be able to really enjoy the music with out rushing from place to place.  Allen, Ashley & I got up and ate breakfast and napped a little in lawn chairs until around noon (when the music started).  At 12:30, Allen had gone to take a shower and I figured that I’d head over to the stages. 

On my way, I passed the SOS/BOS gathering site and there were several people hanging out.  Until then, I’d only met a few people from the Wanee forum.  It was great to meet so many more and actually be able to talk instead of shouting over music.  I can’t stress enough how cool these people are.  It’s rare that you’ll have such a diverse group of people who meet on the internet and ALL of them will be kind and friendly and caring.  It’s like we were old friends who had been waiting up until that point to come into each other’s lives.  When I met the group at the site, I felt like I was finally THERE….my Wanee experience was whole.

The rest of the after noon was a lot of fun.  Some concerts I took in alone (Drive-by Truckers), others I took in with Ashley & Allen (Ivan Neville & Dumpstaphunk).  It poured until I was numb and didn’t even realize it was raining (and didn’t realize when it had stopped).  The sun came out.  I visited the vendors and bought a necklace & a scarf.

Saturday evening I was standing alone watching the Doobie Brothers waiting to see if Ashley & Allen would walk out of the VIP tent.  They had VIP tickets which entitled them to free food and $1 beer in the VIP tent, so when I lost track of them I could usual bet on finding them back there at some point.  I was getting mildly irritated because a group of guys wearing denim shorts, tank tops & high top sneakers were standing right next to me talking constantly.  As I was wondering where I could move to, I saw my new Waneeboard friend Doug (who was the one who had originally emailed me urging me to find a woman on the board to camp with) and his wife Christine walk by heading toward the stage.  I hate feeling like I’m just tagging along with people, but I figured that I’d go stand with them for the rest of the concert anyway.  I’d already seen how friendly and kind they were, so I wasn’t surprised when they welcomed me with open arms.  I hung out with Doug & Christine for the rest of the night, through the rest of the Doobie Brothers, the Allman Brothers (yes, I made it that time) & the Wailers.  It was a great time full of laughs, dancing & vodka-spiked lemonade.  They’re just good, solid, caring people and I can’t help but feel like I was meant to meet them.

As we were leaving the last show of the night, we happened to see Ashley & Allen and I walked back to camp with them.  By the time we got back to our site, we were all so exhausted that we barely had energy to eat one hot dog each and crawl into our tents.  I slept so well that night.  I only had one thin blanket as padding and the 20 year olds at the site next to us were laughing & yelling, but I was dead to the world within 5 minutes.

When I woke up Sunday morning, the sun was shining and the mood was blissfully subdued.  By the time I crawled out of my tent, the site next to us was broken down and packed up.  I didn’t have that much to disassemble, so I was packed up and in my car by 10:30a.  It took me another 30 minutes to get out of the park (traffic was backed up).  As I was sitting in my car I soaked up the last bit of Wanee love.  I watched people helping each other pack up their supplies, one woman was offering her left over food to the people in the next site.  Music was playing and people were all around. 


When I hit the park’s front gate I took a breath, looked in the rear-view mirror and smiled.  I thought about how much Jason will love it when he comes with me next year.  Then I made a right turn and headed toward my in-laws to pick up the kids.

“It’s impossible to maintain, impossible to sustain. You can’t stay like this forever. Blissed out. Bugged out. High, but not stoned. I’m in this moment. This second. Nowhere else. The work is done.” -Anderson Cooper