Monday, August 31, 2009

Birthday Fun in Nashville

JJ turned 26 on Saturday!

To my wonderful wife: I love you, and cannot express in words how thankful I am for you. You're a blessing as a wife and a tremendous mom that Sawyer is lucky to have.

Now, onto the fun of our weekend. We've been traveling a lot, more on that later. On Saturday, we found ourselves in Nashville for the evening, after barely making our flight to get there. To celebrate the little lady's bday, we went out on the town for a fun progressive dinner.

We started at a restaurant called "Mirrors" for appetizers. We asked the waiter for his recommendations, and one of those he mentioned was something that I could barely pronounce and certainly didn't know what it was. So I asked for a description, and that didn't help much. I simply learned that it was something that was cut into strips and fried and served with a basil marinara sauce, or something like that. But then he said that this was the item that got their chef on the Food Network. Well you have to trust the Food Network, right? So we got it, and it was good... still don't know what it is.

Next we took a walk and ended up sitting outside an Islamic Center for quite awhile, greeting worshippers and quietly praying for them, while enjoying the fresh air and swatting mosquitoes.

We eventually found ourselves in the Taproom Bar, a nice quirky place with a simple enough menu but fantastic food. We enjoyed dinner and then drifted down the street to a coffee shop where we'd seen a band setting up earlier in the night. After entering, we noticed something wasn't quite right: tables adorned with desserts sat out, tubs full of ice-cold beverages sat on the patio, and everyone was looking at us funny. Turns out it was a joint birthday party for a couple of friends. They'd hired a Beatles cover band (complete with big black bowl cut hair and black buttoned-up shirts and pants) and rented out the coffee shop for the night. That's right, we crashed a birthday party on JJ's birthday! We talked to the hosts and gained an official invite, then enjoyed the party.

After sitting and listening to the Beatles and watching some awkward dancing for awhile, we hit the streets again in search of dessert. We ended up in a quaint little place and had some tasty Elvis cake to round out our night in Nashville. Much fun had, not a single picture taken. Sorry about that! We'll get some new ones up soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Missouri bans Tupperware

This is funny.

The story, as it was related to me...

The State of Missouri had a problem with pollution. So they decided to do something about it: ban styrofoam from the waterways. No more pontoon picnics with left-behind trash styrofoam coolers floating down the river. A good idea. But since Styrofoam is a brand, they had to use the technical term when writing the bill: polystyrene. Except that someone boo-booed and wrote polypropylene... in other words, tupperware. What's amazing is that the bill made it all the way through the lawmaking process without being noticed or questioned, and then fully enacted into law.

So now, people cannot legally take tupperware to the state parks in Missouri. Tupperware, which no one would throw away anyways, will now not be seen floating down the Mississippi river coming from Missouri. Styrofoam however...

Way to go MO!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wildlife in America

This week we went to Patti's, an 1800's setlement complete with restaurant, mini-zoo, and authentic 1800's putt-putt. We like to think Sawyer had fun, though he kept asking why the animals were so small.
We told him the pony was a midget, but he didn't seem to understand.

Here we have the always crowd-pleasing polar chicken.

I love this sign... mostly for the crazy out-of-control hatchet/axe that adorns the sign reading "I love me some pork." Classy and fun! The famous Patti's dish is a 2-inch thick pork chop, which was incredible. But the 3 steak fries that they gave us to go with the gigantic enormous hunk of meat seemed way too little to compensate for the meatiness. Some excellent desserts helped in that regard though.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Some observations on returning to the USA:

Went to a concert recently, and I think I was the only person in the whole place with a camera. Everyone else was holding up cell phones to snap their photos and videos. I guess the days of banning audio/video recording devices from such events are long gone...

Waaaaaay too many choices in the supermarket. There's so many gatorade flavors they've run out of real flavors to call them. I bought some 'Cool Fusion' and 'Red Drive'. What is that? Both were good though, and both have a Tiger Woods stare on them. I watched the PGA Championship last week and saw Tiger and Y.E. Yang walking down the fairway drinking gatorades. Do you think Tiger drinks a gatorade with his face on it? What about his opponents? What's that say about your chances if your drink has your opponent's face on it? And back to absurd choices, did you know they make chocolate flavored skittles? I mean really, with a million different types of actual chocolate candies, is there actually a market for chocolate flavored skittles?

I was a little disappointed this year in my beloved Cincinnati Bengals when they passed on the chance to draft Tim Masthay (UK) in the seventh round for kickoffs and punts, but after seeing Ochocinco's performance this week, perhaps they did not have the need I thought they had...

I still
find myself gazing out the window when driving to check for elephants. I think that'll pass eventually.

100+ tv channels and it really is possible for nothing to be on. I'm thankful that 2 years in Africa sans television has taught me the discipline to shut it off and actually do something useful with my time.

Restaurant waiters are so friendly! And so helpful! We wanted to invite our waiter over to hang out, babysit, and just be our friend. We couldn't believe how much he cared about our eating experience! But then the rest of our table told us that he was just a standard waiter, no better than any other.

Choices, systems, ahh! We're Americans, we've spent a collective 48 years in the USA, and yet when we got back, we were utterly confused at times. For example... fast-food restaurants and the 'middle-class' fast food: we go to the counter and order? Look at a menu or a board? Order by number or name? Customizing options? Meals or a la carte? Then do we pay here or there? Do we get our cup here, there, or do you hand us a drink now or with our food? Do we wait here or at our table? Do I ask for ketchup here, pick it up myself, get it at the table, do I pay for it? Do you call my name, number, bring it to me? Do I take my trash to the can, leave it on the table, is this basket trash? Yeah... it's a little intimidating. And we're not even foreigners. What once seemed like common sense now feels like Greek. With the the prospect of a new move to a new country in the near future, we're a little scared of the thought of learning a whole new set of systems such as these.

Mexican food is still spectacular.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A day at the lake

Yeah, I have a sweet life. And no, I'm not a floating pink pumpkin.

Hanging with Mommy.

Things were going great until Sawyer wrecked us into the dock.
Silly boy doesn't seem to know port from starboard.

Friday, August 7, 2009


We have arrived! Back in the USofA. We're introducing the country of Sawyer's nationality to him. We call this place 'home' and he must be thinking, "no it's not!" Still too mentally exhausted to write anything witty or intelligent, so here's some pictures for our airport arrival and a video for the really bored of you out there! Thank you sooooo much to all that came and that have given of yourselves to help us feel at home, we can't tell you how blessed we are.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Last Night in East Africa

Tonight was our last night in Tanzania. We went out to dinner and had our last taste of East African fishies at our favorite little seafood restaurant. We went to the mall in Dar and bought some luggage straps to help hold together the bulging bags we'll be checking tomorrow. And at the same mall, we went to see a movie. The movie was good, an enjoyable tale. But it was hard to follow... not that the storyline was overly intricate or confusing, but simply that we found concentrating on the screen a difficult task. You see, we spent much of the movie watching the constant up and down running of a ferret-sized rat about 10 feet to our left on the wall. When we weren't watching the rat's movements, we were watching the extreme amusement/horror of the couple next to us.

Oh Africa, we will miss you fondly!

And on our way out of the mall, walking to our car...
Yes, you sir, the parapregic, you can park here!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tanzania Boy Scout Rules

#11 Maintain deadliness. I mean, cleanliness.

There's a lot that I'm going to miss about this place.