A Little Garden Therapy

Lately, I’ve been battling more anxiety than usual. It’s typical that my anxiety goes up and down, yet it always seems like a surprise when it comes back. I know why it’s been worse, there’s been some stressful situations as of late, but no time to sit down and write about it, which I know I need. In fact, today isn’t the day to discuss panic either… Today, I want to talk about some beautiful gardens, and how a little nature, beauty and family time can wipe the blues and nerves a way.

harvest

Saturday was Husband’s 30th birthday. We did a lot to celebrate his big day, and it all began at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. We try to visit Cheekwood at least a few times a year. Fall is one of the best times to visit because it is stunning! The leaves are changing and Chrysanthemums of every color are planted everywhere! There is also a “Cheekwood Harvest” throughout the month of October.

bridge

The Harvest includes family ‘art’-tivities, live music, storytime, garden tours, museum tours, a pumpkin patch and a lot of locally made scarecrows. My original plan was to arrive early, and hit every single activity, as well as a reserved lunch in the Pineapple room restaurant. Bbuuuttttt as my good plans go lately, it was an epic fail. Between all of us being sick, trying to get sleep, a late Birthday breakfast of bagels and everything else that comes with a baby, we didn’t get to Cheekwood until lunch time. I wasn’t feeling very calm or peaceful when we finally arrived. I felt like Husband’s Birthday plans were very quickly falling apart. And, because I was already down, it just made me feel like a failure.

luna and dad

 

Something happened when I entered the gardens. Something changed. I stepped into the sunlight and felt it warm my skin. The scent of a myriad of flowers and herbs filled the air. I couldn’t help, but dance a little to the live music wafting through the gardens. I looked at Husband, looked at Luna, looked around at the other families enjoying the beautiful Saturday and began to feel grateful. Happy and grateful. Nature does that to me sometimes. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, the vitamin D or the walking, but with every step I took I felt more and more like myself. The more we toured the more I noticed my beautiful family and the less I noticed that nasty panic monster. Sometimes a sunny day with the people I love just washes the anxiety away. Even if it’s temporary, it’s lovely.

my outfit

We had a great day at Cheekwood. Everything we’ve previously done seems brand new now that we can experience it with Luna. We let her play on the pumpkins in the patch, which she drummed on to her hearts content.  We walked around the scarecrows and tried to guess which each one was before reading the descriptions. Most were easy (especially the 4 Olaf’s), others were a little harder to decipher.

scarecrow

Look at dat wittle baby scarecrow????

Harry Potter

Clearly, one of my favs

pumpkin patch

The day just kept getting cuter. Luna danced her little booty off to some live bluegrass in the herb garden. She also had her second art lesson. She “learned” to use tissue paper to stain paper, glue and do some more water color. Although, she was much more interested in eating her art than actually making it…

dancing luna's art

Cheekwood was a great start to Husband’s 30th Birthday celebration and a therapeutic trip for me. I think we will be back soon.

me and luna

Cheers!

Chicago in Nashville

chicago

For those of you who are in Nashville and have not taken advantage of the Broadway shows that tour through the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), I have one question for you… WHY??? Why are you not seeing all of these fabulous shows?! If I hear one more person say, “It’s not New York” or “It’s not real Broadway” I am going to take my shoe off and throw it….scratch that, I don’t want to hurt my shoe… I am going to sit you down and give you a very stern talking to, yep.

First of all, in case you haven’t noticed, we do not live in New York, so good luck seeing a show in New York as often as you can here. Secondly, have you seen a show at TPAC recently? They are phenomenal. Seriously, the traveling shows are no joke; the set, the costumes and the actors are all the real deal and they bring their A game. Just last night I saw Chicago, starring John O’Hurley (yeah the John O’Hurley). The two lead roles were played by women performed the same roles on Broadway (the real Broadway) and “Mama” was played by, Roz Ryan, another accomplished actress. The amount of talent on stage was almost too much to handle.

john

Chicago is a cross between Law and Order and How to Get Away With Murder (have you been watching that?!? It’s CRAZY!) It tells the story of two women on Murderess Row who are clearly guilty of murdering their lovers, yet manage to get away with their crime. They are young, beautiful, led by a slimy smart lawyer and able to woo the jury into believing their innocent. The craziest part is that this is all based on a true story!

A young woman, Maurine Dallas Watkins, an aspiring writer, covered the story of the real women on Murderess Row in Cook County Jail in Chicago. She was especially taken by two women’s story whom eventually became the inspiration for her play (not musical), Chicago. I recently learned this interesting bit of information and was shocked to learn that it wasn’t Bob Fosse who originated Chicago. Who knew?

jazz hands

Speaking of Fosse, can we discuss what I really loved about this musical? I have never seen a live version of Chicago, but I have been a huge fan of the music, the movie and the choreography for years! The live version did not disappoint. Fosse’s style is so unique, yet timeless. it’s been a long time since I’ve seen jazz (any version) performed on stage and it was a little nostalgic to watch the Fosse moves and jazz hands last night. The songs are better when you hear them live. I mean, really, you have to watch the “Cell Block Tango”, it’s not meant to only be heard.

The acting was great ,but Bianca Marroquin (Roxie Hart) was the standout performer for me. She blew me away! Her voice, her comedic timing and especially the scene where she plays a puppet on Billy Flynn’s knee…phenomenal. She’s the best actress I’ve seen at TPAC since the recent girl who played Glenda the Good in Wicked. I loved her. And, I loved the show.

bianca

Now, get off your bums (well, stay on your bums if you’re on the computer), check out TPAC’s Broadway line-up and buy yourself some tickets! And, if you do not live near here, then be sure to check out the tour dates for Chicago. You will NOT regret it.

Cheers!

NYC in a Nutshell

skyline

Our quick trip to the Big Apple was so full of plans and adventures that we are still recovering a week later. (Quite literally, thanks to catching some nasty colds.) As you know, we attended Comic Con, but before, after and in between the convention we hung out with friends, visited Zoey, ate some NY staples and showed Luna around our former stomping grounds.

The first night was a late one for us, and after flying and a full day of Comic Con-ing, we ordered in from our favorite Indian restaurant. Holy crap, how I miss that place and REALLY miss having dinner delivered! I forgot how easy and wonderful it is to have meals delivered and no dishes to wash.

The next day I had a bit more free time and got to join some of my best friends and their baby for a long walk though Central Park and a shopping trip through FAO Schwartz. We just had to spoil our babies with something from the iconic toy store. We didn’t stop walking there either… We finished up at Time Square and perhaps bought another special gift at the Disney store.

We saw not one, but SEVEN raccoons playing together at Central Park.

We saw not one, but SEVEN raccoons playing together at Central Park.

time square

Saturday, we took the babies to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and let them okay and explore for a couple of hours. They loved the hands-on exhibits and play areas, but the daddy’s had the most fun.

museum

Sunday, we spent all day in Brooklyn with Aunt Zoey!!! Zoey allowed us to relax in her new fancy pants apartment and bask on the even fancier rooftop. She showed us around her favorite Brooklyn hotspots (which consisted of the waterfront, ice cream and Artists and Fleas). And, we even made an appearance at the wrap party for the latest show she wardrobed (A Crime to Remember).

kittens barry park zoey's roof

Our last day in the city was the slowest and most nostalgic. After coffee with my former coworkers, whom I miss all the time,  Husband, Luna and myself spent the day doing our favorite things: shopping down 5th and Madison, eating chocolate at Vosges, drinking Starbucks, getting sandwiches at Lenny’s, window shopping in Bergdorfs and soaking up everything NY has to offer before hopping on a plane back to Nashville.

bergdorf

It was a really great trip. Luna was an awesome little trooper. Her favorite part of the city was how it lulled her to sleep all day…

sleeper

I may just have to invest in a “noises of the city” CD to play her at night. Time to start planning our next adventure.

Cheers!

A Basic Girl’s Guide to Comic Con

I like to think I’m a one-of-a-kind girl in this world, and I suppose I am, but on many levels I’m just you’re average girl next door. Can I still say that? Maybe I’m too old to call myself a “girl”? I don’t know… in any case, I drink Starbucks, shop at Sephora, eat lots of chocolate and peanut butter, know all the words to Taylor Swift songs, wear printed leggings, watch reality TV, read young adult trilogies, stalk people on Facebook, love yoga, babies, tacos, zulily and Justin Timberlake and I’m certain all of those things make me an average girl. I’m also certain that the average girl might need a survival guide when attending Comic Con.

guide

I love Disney, Harry Potter, Hunger Games and few superhero movies. I also love dressing up, people watching, excitement and traveling. All of these are found at Comic Con, but there’s a hell of a lot more stuff that doesn’t exactly scream “Hilarie”. My first Comic Con experience taught me how to navigate the crowds, find the good stuff, stay fueled, avoid the crazies and all with a baby no less. If you’re planning on attending Comic Con (or any large convention/festival/exp/black Friday) you may want to read on and then save this survival list for future references.

Hunger Games tank from Lexi's Loft on Etsy!

Hunger Games tank from Lexi’s Loft on Etsy!

1. Dress the part. I LOVE looking at everyone in their cosplay outfits at Comic Con. From the incredible super-expensive realistic costumes to the train wreck obviously-made-the-night-before outfits, it is FANTASTIC. I may be impressed or disgusted, either way I am entertained and I love love LOVE people watching and trying to find costumes that I actually recognize. I am not quite brave or fanatical enough to don a full-on costume, but I had fun wearing some themed accessories and shirts. I had Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and Hunger Games themed days. (All of which will have reviews and giveaways soon!)

Aren't these incredible?! From Hogwarts Unlimited on Etsy.

Aren’t these incredible?! From Hogwarts Unlimited on Etsy.

2. Pack healthy snacks and water. Comic Con sells mostly junk, mostly disgusting junk. I waited in line for about 7 years to get chinese vegetables with tofu and rice that was definitely the most disgusting chinese food I have ever had. There were a couple of smoothie stands that were decent, but also wildly overpriced. I highly recommend packing granola, nuts, fruit and lots of water!

I think this picture is perfect. It says so much about my Comic Con experience.

I think this picture is perfect. It says so much about my Comic Con experience.

3. Learn the layout. There are not maps given out a Comic Con and the map on the app is useless and impossible to read. The best thing to do is to get there early, walk around, learn the layout and don’t be afraid to ask the employees for directions. Locate the bathrooms in the furthest locations (those will be the cleanest and least crowded), find the rooms for the panels you plan to attend, locate the Starbucks inside and outside (it is probably faster to leave and walk to the nearest Starbucks than it is to wait in the mile-long line inside) and take advantage of the press room if you’re lucky enough to score a press pass.

comic con

4. Don’t be shy. People at Comic Con will run you over and never look back if you let them. Speak up, say excuse me, make your way through the crowd, ask directions, talk to people who have similar interests, take peoples’ photos, share tips, move fast and don’t worry…everyone looks crazy.

action comics

5. Arrive early. On opening day the line to get in is insane. We were fortunate enough to have a press pass and able to use a separate entrance. Otherwise, we never would have made it to the Disney panel in time. At the Disney panel we won tickets to see an early viewing of Big Hero 6, but missed it because they ran out of seats and we didn’t get their early enough to get any. When The Walking Dead had a panel we tried to line up over an hour before it started and were still too late. If there is something you REALLY want to see, arrive EARLY.

game of thrones

6. Make a plan. Comic Con has an app that enables you to view and select any panels, autograph signings and events you like. The ones you select are saved in your profile and sends it reminders to your phone all day so that you don’t miss anything. It’s pretty handy. There is so so much to see and do that it’s beyond necessary to plan in advance. Even with planning, I still missed out on a few things I would have like to seen.

OMG, these little things were so cool!

OMG, these little Dodo cases were so cool!

7. Bring chargers. Between snapping photos, updating your status, tweeting the latest news and using Google maps your phone is going to die fast. Bring your charger and even something to power your charger if you can.

Luna Lovegood! Definitely one of my favorite costumes!

Luna Lovegood! Definitely one of my favorite costumes!

8. Expect assholes. They’re everywhere, unfortunately. Do your best to ignore them. When that fails, drink more coffee. Or, maybe be extra nice to other people…which brings me to my next and final tip.

Wreck-It-Ralph!

Wreck-It-Ralph!

9. Don’t be an asshole. It will be very attempting to join them. You will want to run over everyone’s toes with your stroller, throw some elbows and shout “are you kidding me!?!?”Don’t give into temptation. Do the opposite to counteract their behavior. Let someone get in front of you. Help someone up, pick up the pamphlet that person dropped, show patience, kindness and compassion. I promise it feels better than joining the other team.

Harry Potter baby

Harry Potter baby

That’s it. Now you just gotta find some nerdy convention to sing up for, or maybe a local festival to attend! Either way, you should probably start planning your outfit.

Cheers!

Baby vs. The City

pros and cons

We have traveled a lot with Luna, but this was by far the most difficult trip. Difficult because we flew and we were not staying with family. I had to pack carefully, plan ahead, do some research and prepare for any and everything. The trip was awesome. We had a few bumps in the road, sure, but bumps are expected anytime we travel. Luna was a trooper and I learned a bit about life in the city with a baby. Which, in case you’re wondering, is much different then life in the city without a baby. Much different.

-stroller vs. baby wearing: I am most often a stroller Mom. Luna isn’t a huge fan of being worn, but we pull it off occasionally. I decided to bring both to NYC. The stroller was used the most. In case, you haven’t noticed, Luna is a not a tiny baby. In fact, she’s a little chunk. We walked and walked all day everyday and I am so glad I had the stroller. I held her a lot, but it was a relief to be able to put her in the stroller. She slept in it, enjoyed the rides and we were able to store all of our crap in it. We used the ergo carrier too, but she never lasted long. You should know though, NY is NOT stroller friendly. Many subway stations have only stairs (no elevators or escalators) the sidewalks are treacherous, no one looks where they’re walking and the stores and restaurants are uber crowded. Be prepared to fold it up and carry it at a a moments notice. Also, be prepared for complete strangers to be awesome and heroic. I had several people help me carry the stroller with Luna in it up and down the stairs. They were my saviors!

stroller

Enjoying the lights in Time Square while riding in the Ergo Carrier.

Enjoying the lights in Time Square while riding in the Ergo Carrier.

-disposable vs. cloth: I cloth diaper Luna at home, but not, absolutely not, on vacation. Why? Because toting around heavy dirty diapers all day and washing them at night is not a vacation at all. I have to admit, it was super nice to use disposables for a while. Actually, I’m still using them because we had quite a few left over. Yay for extended vacation!

-train vs. taxi: My little city baby had her first ride in a taxi and on the subway. I promised myself we would only take a taxi to and from the airport since we wouldn’t have a carseat. I wanted to be as safe as possible, but when you are running late and have been carrying a baby, a stroller and a diaper bag ALL DAY LONG, a taxi ride home is very appealing and all of a sudden seems like much safer option. The trains are awesome because they’re fast and they rock Luna to sleep, but holy hell, it is awful to get on an off the train with a baby and a stroller.

Baby's first taxi ride.

Baby’s first taxi ride.

Baby's first train ride.

Baby’s first train ride.

homemade vs. store bought: I make virtually all of Luna’s food, but like with the cloth diapers, I figure I could use a little vacation from this too. Besides, lots of healthy and organic baby food is available these days. She’s also at the age where I can mash up some of my own food and share with her. It was nice to not have to worry about preparing her food ahead of time, but I am glad she eats so fresh and healthy at home.

-inside vs. outside: There is so much super cool stuff for babies and kids to do in the city, inside and outside. I’ll have to write a post about our favorites. We had a mixture of weather during our long weekend, so we got to take advantage of the parks and the museums. We went to Central Park, hungout on a rooftop, shopped at Bergdorf’s, played in the Children’s Museum and at FAO Schwarz. Fall is such a great time to enjoy the city. I think we got the best of both worlds during our trip.

Central Park

Central Park

Playing at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

Playing at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

-cat ears vs. cat hat: Seriously? It’s impossible to choose. I just have way too much fun dressing this cutie up!

cat ears cat hat

Cheers!

 

Disney at Comic Con: The Panel Where I Belong

Have you ever got the feeling that you don’t belong? Felt like you stuck out like a sore thumb? Had that moment of being lost in a crowd? Wondered “where do I fit in?” Yeah…that was me at Comic Con this past weekend.

Because I am a lucky little duck, I scored press tickets to NYC’s Comic Con. But, let’s be real…Husband is the lucky one. Husband loves video games, the newest computers, all things techy and lots of other “nerdy” things. When I got the press tickets for this event, I was excited about ONE very important thing. One BIG thing. One thing that qualifies me for the “nerd” category. (Hate that word BTW).

That one thing? The Disney panel.

Okay, well actually, I was pretty damn excited to dress up, and by “dress-up”, I mean buy new things. I didn’t wear full on costumes, but I did have a nice theme everyday (Luna too!) Day 1’s theme? Mary Poppins!

Snagged this when I saw Mary Poppins on Broadway.

Snagged this when I saw Mary Poppins on Broadway.

These were a gift from one of my BFF's.

These were a gift from one of my BFF’s.

Luna's shirt said "practically perfect".

Luna’s shirt said “practically perfect”.

Review on the shoes AND a giveaway coming soon!!!

Review on the shoes AND a giveaway coming soon!!!

Review on the bag coming soon!!!!

Review on the bag coming soon!!!!

Disney’s panel was on Thursday, just a few hours after we landed. We ran off the plan, hopped into a cab, sped to the apartment, unloaded, changed a baby diaper and hopped into another cab. “Javits Center and step on it!” We bypassed the very long line (thanks press pass) and zig-zagged through the ridiculous crowd until we found our way to the large press room. The seats were lined with Big Hero 6 posters and swag bags. The room was packed with Disney fanatics, journalists, photographers, bloggers and fans of all ages. I was stoked.

bighero6

The panel began with Big Hero 6. I knew little about this movie, so I was happy to learn more and really happy when I did. The movie is collaboration of Marvel and Disney, inspired by the Marvel Comics of the same name. It takes place in San Fransokyo and is about a young robotics genius, a super cute/sweet/funny/smart robot, named Baymax, and a team of underdog-type heroes who band together to solve crime. Seeing the stars and hearing the interviews was cool and interesting, but the best part, by far, was seeing the many “seen-for-the-first-time” clips!

baymax

We got to see the introduction scenes of all the robotics team, the introduction of Baymax, a hilarious scene where Baymax needs to be recharged and is basically drunk, Baymax learning to fight and a pretty crazy car-chasing scene. Every exclusive trailer made me fall more in love. I CANNOT wait to see the movie! I love that Disney is able to take the most un-cuddly looking characters and make them super lovable. Speaking of “seeing the movie”, Disney actually gave out passes to see an exclusive viewing of the movie that night to random people in the audience, one of which was me! Luckily, you are allowed to bring someone with you. Unluckily, after waiting in a very long line that night, they ran out of seats! Boo! Guess I’ll have to wait until November 7th. (We went out and bought Luna a plush Baymax anyways. I’m pretty sure we’re going to love the movie!)

Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better…in fact, I was so satisfied I forgot there was more, Disney began discussing Tomrrowland, the movie. The tagline for this heavily anticipated movie is “Imagine a place where nothing is impossible.” I love this because when I hear that quote I think of Disney, where Tomorrowland is of course located. The movie is a science fiction mystery adventure film, and we got to see the exclusive world premiere trailer! It was about a 30 second clip that let us know basically nothing, yet left us wanting more. The gist? There’s a troubled girl and a pin. When she touches the pin she is immediately transported to another land…Tomorrowland perhaps?

Immediately after, a few stars were brought out to discuss the moving, including Hugh Laurie. The cast members were charming and constantly joking about how they could tell us virtually nothing about the movie. After each question was asked, they looked to the director nervously and told us they were scared to give away too much. Hugh Laurie, began talking about what it was like to work with George Clooney on set. He joked about the drinking, the bad behavior etc when who else, but George himself appears on stage!

It was difficult to snap a good photo with the security constantly telling us to stop taking photos...

It was difficult to snap a good photo with the security constantly telling us to stop taking photos…

Mr. Clooney was as cool as you’d imagined. He wooed us all with his wit and good looks. He commanded the room and insisted we see more of his movie, so we were then shown an entire 5 minutes of the movie! Yup, more never before seen footage. AMAZING. The scene took place in Frank’s (George Clooney) house. The main girl in the movie sneaks in and insist on getting his help. He is obviously  some sort of genius inventor, but doesn’t want to get involved with the girl and the pin. The house is soon after bombarded by what I can only describe as human-like robots. A wild fight scene ensues and it all ends with the two main characters blasting out of the house in a bathtub/rocket-ship!?

The panel ended right after the final clip. The crowd went wild and social media began blowing up. I loved the whole experience. And that was my first 2 hours at Comic Con… much more to come!

Cheers!

Pumpkin Patch as a Family of Three

gentry farm

I am just returning from a whirlwind of a trip to NYC, and oh my do I have LOTS to share and review! But, first, I’ve got to share our first experience at a pumpkin patch as a family of three. We visited Gentry Farm for the first time last year on the day I found out I was having a girl. I told Husband that visiting Gentry Farm and picking our own pumpkins is going to be an annual tradition for us. One year later, we’re picking out pumpkins with our baby Luna.

white pumpkin

We went to the farm with a couple of our close friends and we all walked around the patch picking out green, white and orange pumpkins and crazy looking gourds. I decided to mix it up this year and get a little bit of everything. I loved walking around and showing Luna all the different colors and sizes. I think we ended up with seven pumpkins to take home. (Don’t worry the pumpkin carving contest will be soon!)

wheel barrow

I love the pumpkin picking, but there is so so so much more to at Gentry Farm. The fun really began after we picked our pumpkins and entered the farm. They had tons of activities for kids of all ages and grown-ups too. The corn maze is always one of my favorite activities, and this year we did the “munchkin maze” too.

corn maze

 

This was the first year we did the Nature Trail and I was thoroughly impressed. It was gorgeous, had a nice view of the Harpeth River and cute little signs with Tennessee nature facts along the way. It was shaded, a good walk and very enjoyable.

love simply trees water

 

After the mazes and the trail we had fun playing on the farm. We played horseshoes, talked to chickens, explored the barn, ate snacks, played on little wooden tractors, looked at the sheep and took lots and lots of photos.

chickens tractor teepee

I’m already looking forward to next year. I hope Luna always loves our family tradition at Gentry Farm. The Gentry family is so sweet (you can always find many of them working when you visit) and it’s a family-friendly, fun and education environment. I see enjoying the farm for many many years… and if the weather is a nice next year as it was this year, than I think we will pack a picnic to enjoy near the pumpkin patch.

truck

If you are planning a visit to Gentry Farm, check out their site and keep in mind that they are open Saturdays, Sundays and Monday mornings.

Cheers!