Friday, April 21, 2017

Last-minute Disney Trip: crazy or genius?

My Pinterest has gotten a bit, um, specific.
You guys, DISNEYWORLD!! I always said that when I took my kid to Disney for the first time, it would be to Parc Disneyland in Paris because, I mean, DUH!! But you can't drive to Paris from Louisville, and we don't have enough Delta miles to get the whole family across the ocean. Orlando it is.

But we're GOING! For REAL!

This is super exciting because we've been intent on making as many happy memories as possible, and taking the grandkids to DisneyWorld is something my sweet, sweet mother wants to do. We're planning a trip for mid-May, during a week when she should be mostly recovered from her 7th round of chemotherapy. And it's all possible because of the GoFundMe: thank you.

This, of course, means that I'm suddenly a Mom who is planning a trip to DisneyWorld. 

I love travel planning. I don't, however, love spreadsheets and itineraries and things that seem to require learning an entire language (FastPass, ADR, MagicBand, WTH?) just to do a simple Google search. There are families that spend 18 months planning these trips! Are we nuts to do it in 4 weeks? I'm actually thinking that's maybe perfect timing because I'm already a tad stressed over it. But at least it'll be over in a month. I can't imagine stressing about it for a year and a half. We planned our wedding in a few months, so surely we can do Disney in a few weeks, right?

We've got 3-day park tickets, and we've got hotel reservations (the bonus of having a husband who travels for work: free hotel!). Of course, all the restaurants where everyone said to eat at Disney have been booked up for 6 months. I'm going to count on some last-minute cancellations and will check again a few days before, I guess. Or is it even worth going to Be Our Guest if you're a vegetarian?

Anyway, throw me your Disney tips? Particularly anything for vegetarians traveling with a wheelchair/scooter.

p.s. I'm playing at Goodwood Brewing on Main Street in Louisville tonight from 8-10. It's 21+ and free.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Voicemails, anti-depressants, Target and a gig.

Good news! My anti-depressants seem to be working. I can tell because I answered the phone twice this morning. I still have 78 voicemail notifications, but don't worry, I'll just delete them all soon and find out how to disable voicemail completely. It's bad business (for a certain generation), but I seriously cannot stand the phone. Email me or meet me for coffee, but don't expect me to even noticed that I missed your call. Apparently, I'm Generation Jordan Catalano, but with Millennial tendencies.

But what I was getting on this ol' blog to write about?

I'm busy.

Friday, April 21
Goodwood Brewery
636 E Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 
I'm playing music with Dennis Ledford.
Alanna Fugate has been booking bands at Goodwood, and that means there's lots of good live music. I'm happy to be playing a public show, as lately I've been slammed with corporate parties (I love those, but y'all can't attend them!).

My parents' GoFundMe has been a rousing and insane success, and I'm so grateful. We are also renting our house out for Derb, and I'm gigging like crazy that weekend to fund some more home-modification projects and Bucket List items for my mom.

We went to Target yesterday, where Mom practiced riding one of those scooter things because she'll need one for her magical trip to DisneyWorld in a few weeks. While we were there, the boys rode in a double-cart, and it was the cutest thing I've ever seen. I'm putting a picture of it here because I forgot what I actually came on here to write about. Maybe those anti-depressants aren't working quite as well as I thought. OR maybe that's just the sleep deprivation working.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Deli dreams and Family Photos.

You know what is lame? That my mom has cancer again. I have been through all the stages of grief and keep cycling back through it, and she's still around and fighting. I'm so thankful for that. Pancreatic cancer is fierce, and I can't believe Mom has continued with chemotherapy after it's kept her mostly bedridden since December. She has some good days, but I just feel so bad for her. I know she wants to be swimming with her grandbabies and taking them to the park and cooking matzoh ball soup for her friends instead of them her.

This week I'm completely overwhelmed by the love and support of family and friends. We began accepting help in the way of meal deliveries and help rolling the recycling bin down to the curb and random flower deliveries during Mom's first chemo and subsequent hospital stays. Since then it's been really hard to manage meal trains, as her appetite is unpredictable. Still, people have wondered how they could help. After stressing over my laundry list (often a literal laundry list) of To Dos at my parents' house, I finally hit publish on the GoFundMe I started for my parents ages ago. Because meal deliveries are great, but being able to get down the stairs safely is also great.

I also wanted to share two incredible gifts we received from two families we are so lucky to have in our lives.

Yesterday, my mom received an overnight delivery from Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. My mom's uncle owned a Jewish deli on Bardstown Road in Louisville in the mid-1900s, so Mom grew up knowing how proper deli food should taste. There are no more real delis in Louisville, so New York City is her favorite place to taste the comfort foods of her youth. The magical Tyra shipped a 3-course deli meal to her this week! Mom's appetite was down yesterday, but she's drooling in anticipation of digging into the pickles already:

One of our friends from the Highlands mama community and also the Wee Boy's preschool gifted us a family photo session with their favorite photographer. We'd tried to gather some family photos before, but timing was always bad.

Jessica from J Grace Photography  came to our home and took some gorgeous photos of my family that I've been meaning to share for a month now:
Images by J Grace Photography

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Jesus Christ Superstar, American Pours, Weights & Measures & Kombucha.

Cheyenne singing from the balcony. 
It's almost Easter! I know this because we just did Jesus Christ Superstar at Headliners, which is one of my favorite gigs. This year I sang "I Don't Know How to Love Him," which was kind of a super fun magical moment because there are so many instruments playing and there was some sweet sweet harmony with the beautiful and talented Cheyenne Mize and I just love that song and the whole score and magic and if church made me feel like that, I would go every day. Music is love.

The next morning, however, I woke up with a HEADACHE. Friends, I had TWO drinks. TWO. And over the course of four hours. Is this what life is like in my late thirties?

It also made me long for the United Kingdom, where the Weights and Measures Acts protect the consumer by ensuring that each pour of alcohol is exactly 25ml or 35ml depending on your order. Americans who frequent dive bars would probably be outraged by this. Having been out of practice, I compeltely forgot that a pour from a bartender in a good bar in Louisville, particularly one you've know for 20+ years, would most likely be the equivalent of more than one drink. But in the UK, even a good friend would still be required to pour you precisely 25ml. It's the law!

It makes me wonder if there are few hangovers in the UK? Because it would cost you more to buy the equivalent in alcohol, so maybe people just stop drinking sooner?

Deep thoughts for the day.

Cheyenne Mize making Scott Anthony sparkle pre-show.
Anyway, I hadn't really been drinking this year. We did Dry January, and then it just sort of stuck. I sleep better when I don't have that glass of wine. I'm too stressed out to risk a bad night of sleep. I'm still nursing. I'm tired. Mom has cancer on her liver, which makes me a little more thoughtful of how I treat my own liver. And two drinks made me feel awful. I think I'm back on the Dry April. It's just not worth it.

David's been getting super into Kombucha, which I only like when it's strawberry-flavored and served to me in a champagne flute. I'll let you know how his first batch turns out when it's ready.

Also, I try not to post too much about Mom's treatments over here, but there is a CaringBridge site for that if you're interested.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

List of good things.

It is a known fact that positive thoughts are better than negative thoughts. I understand this, but it's very hard to live it. Things that are GOOD in my present:
The fam!

1) My 4.5-year-old mowed 1/3 of my lawn yesterday. Sure, I sort of Tom-Sawyered him in a "Oh, this is so fun!" kind of way. But he's genuinely curious and very strong. We have one of those old-fashioned reel mowers, and this kid is SUCH a rule-follower that he wouldn't dare step over a chalk-line if I told him not to. Seriously, my friends clench their teeth when they watch him speed off in his scooter, only to then relax when he stops at every driveway, alley and stop sign. I told him not to go anywhere near the blade, and he mowed like a pro. I don't have a photo because, for once, I left my phone inside to enjoy the sweet moments with my children. He asked for 25cents for each time he mows the lawn, though, so we'll probably do it again on Friday.

2) My mom went to swim practice on Sunday and swam laps for 40 minutes. Most likely, that is more than you could swim. She took 2 weeks off scheduled chemo, so has been feeling better for it. I hate that it's the chemo, not the cancer, that is bringing her down.

3) Graham's passport is expiring, so I'm renewing it. This has me daydreaming and pinteresting all kinds of castles and adventures.

4) I'm still going to yoga, but have been trying to be honest with myself and do work when necessary. Yesterday, I had a babysitter for yoga, but it occurred to me that I had a zillion contracts to work on and websites to re-build and taxes to do, so I took that 90 minutes and worked on Brigid Kaelin LLC stuff instead.

5) I still journal in the 15 minutes before yoga, and apparently my fellow yogis don't think I'm a jerk for it. Instead, someone told me they "love your practice of journaling before class and try to respect your space." Yoga people, man -- aren't they great?

6) I went to a THERAPIST yesterday. Are you all breathing a huge sigh of relief for me? I swear, some of you read me like you read Jenny Lawson, just waiting for a breakdown, right? I'm doing okay, but I'm aware that my support system is either dying or has moved abroad or travels a lot or lives many states away. Apparently I need to reach out for help more and also to think about whom I could call at 3am if I needed. I know a zillion people, but I don't know anyone I could call at 3am. This is not a cry for help; it's an acknowledgment that maybe that is a negative about being an only child. Hmmmmmmm. (Insert rubbing chin emoji) I still feel that the $135 spent on therapy could perhaps have been better spent on several flights of champagne with Tara Anderson (she's really smart and good company), so maybe I'll see if I could charge a trip to Louvino to my HSA.

7) My piano is in tune, and I have been playing it more often. Funny how that works, eh? Seriously, though, I played Rhapsody in Blue in its entirely (though several sections slower than I used to be able to play them) this weekend while David got the kids ready for bed. It was so satisfying. I do love me some Gershwin.


April 2, 2017
at Adath Jeshurun Synagoge on Woodbourne Avenue
Tribute to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen
I'm singing "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" and "Famous Blue Raincoat"

April 9, 2017
at Headliners Music Hall, Louisville
(and April 14 & 15 in Berea, KY and Madison, IN)

I'm also playing 3 private events on Derby weekend, but have room for more... HIRE ME!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

8 Self-Care Things That Are Keeping Me Sane.

I'm not in the photo much -- but here I am!
I'm going a little stir-crazy not having a record to tour and promote -- it's still one bass part away from finished, but time is conspiring against me. In the mean time, I've been doing ALL I can to promote my own self-care. Life is tough now, and there are a few things that have kept me sane:

1. Yoga. I'm not sure if it's the endorphins of exercise, the mindfulness of breathing, or the simple fact that with yoga I get an hour without anyone grabbing my nipples, but I leave feeling better. When I find I've gone a few days without going to the studio (simply doing a podcast at home does not have the same effect, as you might conclude from watching the time-lapse video of my toddler grabbing me while I'm bending), I am irritable and not a great parent -- not a great person, honestly. I'm moody, negative, and can throw a tantrum over a crushed Cheerio on the floor or a 4-year-old who decides it's Naked Time. 

2. The Fresh 20. I've been using this meal planning site for going on two years now. Whenever I stray from planning, the family suffers. We spend more than we should at the grocery, or we order takeout because there's nothing to eat. We also eat less nutritious meals, or we end up just grazing all week. Or it's breakfast for every meal. I tried out multiple meal planning websites, and is the only one I remotely enjoyed. It's probably an 80-90% success rate on the "Would I order this at a restaurant?" scale by which we judge recipes. I've only had one meal the whole time that I straight up did not like. We subscribe to the Vegetarian annual plan. I don't put ANY thought into dinner now, and I know that I have the ingredients on hand to cook a well-balanced meal every night. It helps that my kids are not picky eaters. The shopping list also means I can send someone else to the store for me. I haven't used Kroger ClickList yet, but I've got a good friend who combines TheFresh20 with the Kroger ClickList and declared it a life-changer. 

Yummy quinoa vegetable bowl.
3. Journaling. Writing has always been the single-most important thing to my sanity. Since having a baby, I simply have not had a good routine and haven't been able to journal. I like doing morning pages -- something I got from The Artist's Way many years ago -- but my kids get up too early for me to do anything in the morning. I've taken to arriving at yoga 15 minutes early and bringing my journal. I sit there, ignore everyone, and just write -- mostly nonsense, occasionally lyrics. I am sure that I look like a jerk with my pen and my notebook in my corner, but it helps immensely. I am actually able to empty my mind a little during the poses because I got a lot of the To Do list out in my morning pages. Also, if I don't go to yoga, I don't write. Then I really am a jerk.

4. Antidepressants. I should have led with this because if we are being completely honest, it's the Prozac that got me enough willpower to sign up for yoga and then leave the house in the first place. I've never had a problem being honest, so I probably should have made this my #1. But I just thought about it, and I don't feel like re-ordering my list. Because it's a blog, and I'm not going to edit if I'm not getting paid.

Me, playing a German polka gig.
5. Work. I'm gigging a lot. Not as much as I would like. But my work is my passion, and I am renewed when I do it. Music is probably the only thing that allows me to zone out and be in the moment.

6. Pinterest. I can check all the other social media apps on my phone, but when I open Pinterest, I actually feel my heart rate slowing and myself relaxing. I think it's like opening a trashy magazine on an airplane. I just look at things -- pretty things, good ideas, lists made by other people. I have no false dreams of crafting tiny hats that look like vegetables, but it makes me happy to see photos of other people's good ideas. Talk about distraction.

7. Novels. Whether it's an audiobook or a late-night Kindle purchase, I am a novel fiend. When I'm not doing great mentally, I like to read really easy books. Now that I'm a mom, I somehow like mysteries -- total #mombooks. I also really enjoy British chick-lit, though I wish there was a better name for it. What else ... Maisie Dobbs and Agatha Raisin books have been perfect distractions over the past 4.5 years since the first wee boy was born. 

8. A cuppa. Tea. Oh, how I love tea. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Henna art and Irish Butter.

This weekend I hired a henna artist -- the amazing Rose Flowers of Bohemian Monkey (aren't all of those words absolutely delightful??) to decorate my mom's beautiful bald cancer head. I scrolled through Pinterest looking at pretty chemo crowns, and now my entire Pinterest feed is stunning hairless paintings. It's the definition of bittersweet.

Farmers' Market in Bruges. Roseberries. 
Anyway, it was a perfect continental spread, though for just 3 adults and 2 kids, I definitely over-bought. My inspiration for brunches is forever the Best Western in Bruges. Best Western sounds like it would be tacky, but can I tell you it was the absolutely most spectacular breakfast spread I've ever encountered -- hotel or otherwise. From sliced Muenster to an entire wheel of Brie, from hard boiled eggs to sliced watermelon, from yogurt to fresh muesli, and miles of croissants... oh, my goodness it was everything. We honeymooned in Bruges, and I am forever trying to re-create that breakfast buffet, even if it's just for a henna-decorating morning. I apparently didn't take any photos of that breakfast, so it lives entirely in my mind, but here are some grand photos of Bruges anyway. I haven't used my passport in a while, so I'm living in my iPhotos.

Also, I've raised a butter snob. When asked by our hostess, "What would you like on your bagel, Graham?" my 4-year-old responded, "Do you have Kerry Gold?"

Thankfully, our host is British, so she knows her butter.

"I most certainly do," she grinned, basically confirming why we are friends -- and also that Graham's expectations are sky-high.

Enjoy the beautiful henna tiara. I think next time, she'll go full-on cap:

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