A Year in Transition: Music City Nomads

The following is the first post in a series of out-of-sync recollections about my family’s move from Shelby Township, Michigan — a suburb one hour north of Detroit — to Spring Hill, Tennessee — a suburb 45 minutes south of Nashville. Our family has been blessed with an opportunity to live in a diverse, ever-growing metropolitan area; surrounded by a near-perfect blend of suburban conveniences, Appalachian foothills, green farm spaces, music, entertainment, restaurants, people, art, culture and history.

One year ago, today, our journey to the ‘burbs of Music City began. It was our last day living in Michigan. The immediate days that followed were a nomadic, whirlwind of exploring Nashville and Middle Tennessee, registering our children for school, closing on the home we purchased, meeting new friends at our neighborhood pool, comparing grocery stores and organizing our household. Today, we are still in transition and still make discoveries about our new community. I compare ourselves to tourists because there are times we experience things for the first time; just like those visiting Nashville and the historic southern towns that make Middle Tennessee so charming. We truly are tourists in our own backyard.

This was it. Good-bye Michigan.

So, our story begins the morning we exited Michigan. This was it. Our home in Shelby Twp. was now owned by someone else and proceeds were in the bank. Check. All of our belongings (with the exception of valuables and what fit into suitcases) were packed into a moving truck and were taken to a storage unit. Check. My car was on a trailer somewhere between Michigan and Tennessee; and would be delivered to me a couple days later in Franklin, Tennessee. Check. Mail forwarding instructions had been processed. Check. Meetings scheduled with school principals. Check. Reservations for the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center and for rental house in historic Franklin were confirmed. Check.

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Our exit from Michigan was in sight. My husband’s Pontiac Grand Prix crossed the line. A box of cookies from Tringali’s Bakery on my lap, wide-eyed kids in the back seat, and a rear-view glimpse was all that was left.

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Welcome to … Music City

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Downtown Nashville viewed from John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge at Nissan Stadium.

Music City is a mere 45 minutes north of Spring Hill, TN, the suburb, we now call home. When we arrived on July 28, we lived as nomads for three weeks to accommodate closing dates on our old and new homes; and school start dates. We stayed at the Baymont Inn and Suites in Franklin, TN, the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, and a rental house in historic Franklin.

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Inside the Opryland Hotel is like entering another universe.

Our introduction to Music City included the Adventure Science Center, The Dog of Nashville for hotdogs, Cumberland Park, an Old Town Trolley Tour, and Savannah’s Candy Kitchen.

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View of Nashville from top of the Adventure Tower at Adventure Science Center in Nashville. The Subway restaurant inside the museum, offers stunning views of the city, too. Also, in the Human Body section on Level 2, there is an addictive laser gun game where up to 12 players combat each other to either cure or inflict disease on body organ systems. Finally, the Music City Solar Eclipse Festival and Viewing Party is August 19, 20, and 21.

 

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Delicious hotdogs and burgers in the Vanderbilt University neighborhood.

 

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Bicentennial Park captured from Trolley Tour. Our tour guide was originally from Grand Rapids.

 

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One of many trolley tour stops. Trolley tours are the best way to get a snapshot-view of the entire city; especially if you’re travelling with kids or experiencing southern summer heat for the first time. Trolleys stop and pick you up at must-see places on Broadway as well as in the Gulch, Music Row, Vanderbilt and Germantown.

 

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Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. Dessert heaven on Broadway between 3rd and 4th Avenues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Three Questions for the Detroit Lions Offense Coaching Staff

Where did the magic go? Or, maybe that’s the key word in this entire post: magic. I am talking about the Detroit Lions a 10-6 record and wildcard slot in the 2011 season. Was that season a fluke?

English: Ndamukong Suh, a National Football Le...

English: Ndamukong Suh, a National Football League Player. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before I rant any further, I must say, the Lions’ defense played a superb game against the Chicago Bears, Monday night. Their ability to hold the Bears to 10 points and cut stupid penalties is proof of their growing maturity and discipline. Ndamukong Suh, Alphonso Smith,  Kyle Vanden Bosch and the entire defensive line never gave up.

A pattern is developing this season. It is an old one; and it troubles me. The Lions squander opportunities for touchdowns; and then at best — if they don’t turnover the ball — settle for field goals. No one is ever going to call me a football expect. And, I suppose I have is easy in all of this. All I do is sit on a couch or bar stool with my heart in my hands; watching the Lions revert to the team I knew before.

English: Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Sta...

English: Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Call me lazy. Doesn’t it seem like someone is making poor play decisions? Yes, Matthew Stafford has thrown too many interceptions. But, there are just too many situations where Stafford makes play decisions that go against what we saw from him during the 2011 season. He is a talented quarterback with the willingness to put it all out there to win. Last night, Stafford made several runs to gain yardage or to pick up first downs. In 2011, he won games running the ball in for a touchdown.

So, I have to give the offensive coaching staff the “eye” and ask some pointed questions.

Question 1: Why are you waiting to turn on offensive might until there are mere seconds to play in the game?  The clock doesn’t lie. A team only has four quarters of time to convert into touchdowns. Bad plays and mistakes whittle that precious time away. Championship-worthy teams know this. They do not wait to make touchdowns. They seize each opportunity, play aggressively and intelligently, put the ball in the end zone, and watch the points add up on the scoreboard.

Question 2: Why pass to score a touchdown when you’re on the goal line and you have Mikel Leshoure? Here’s more context to frame my question. The Lions and Philadelphia Eagles are mere seconds from game end on October 14. The Eagles are up. But, only by six. The Lions have a chance — a good chance — at scoring a touchdown to win the game. Stafford has his team on the goal line. It’s first down. That’s three attempts to get the ball over the chalk line. The Eagles are swarming Johnson and Pettigrew. But, that’s okay. Passing is unnecessary. Just give the ball to Leshoure, get the six, and have Hansen kick the extra point for the win. But, no. For some reason, Stafford wastes all three tries at a touchdown with failed pass attempts, which almost result in turnovers. The Lions settle for a field goal to tie; and then a field-goal for the win in overtime.

Question 3: Do you really think field goals will get Ws? Don’t get me wrong. Jason Hanson is amazing. The guy rarely misses. But, he can’t make up for missed touchdowns. Besides, Hanson is 42. What are the Lions going to do when he retires? Unless, the Lions figure out that touchdowns make Ws; we — the fans — are going to be posting Ls for another decade.

The Lions need to fix their offensive coaching decisions; and fast. I am hopeful — and overly optimistic — that the Lions’ 2012 season will mimic the New York Giants’ 2011 season. Remember how the Giants played so awful in the first half? But, then they regrouped, upset season contenders and won it all.

Last Days of Summer: Katniss, Beautiful Revisits, Classic Rides, Missing Husbands and Fifty Shades of Fudgery

It’s been a while. My hiatus wasn’t even intended. But, then I looked. My most recent blog post is dated  July 26. I compare this blog community faux pas to those ancient days when I failed miserably as a snail-mail pen pal. While I like writing, I am just not a letter-writer.

So, that’s my first excuse for being such a lousy summer blog pal. The next five are …

1. Katniss Everdeen stole my attention for seven days as I devoured Suzanne CollinsHunger Games Trilogy. As I finished each book, I had to start the next. With the exception of maintaining my job as family chauffeur, chef, and referee all other responsibilities went out the window. That’s what summer break is for, right?

2. Beautiful revisit with my husband and children to my aunt Kate’s lake house in Claire, Michigan. For one weekend, we relaxed, fished, boated, swam, and hunted for snakes.

3. Classic rides lined Woodward Ave. for Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Our time was mostly spent in Birmingham’s Old Woodward district, which gave us plenty of classics to drool over.

4. Missing husbands aren’t all bad. While mine was in Baltimore for several weeks, the kids reveled in the last couple weeks of summer vacation. They visited family friends in Canada, slept in, watched too much television, and ate hot dog dinners. The bonus for me: less mess, no sharing, and uninterrupted time with Mr. Grey and Miss Steele (see no. 5).

5. Fifty Shades of fudgery tied me up for three days. It was one day for each book in the trilogy detailing the kinky, over-the-top, hearts and flowers romance between Mr. Grey and Miss Steele. It is the only story I have ever been interested in rereading; and with the same level of interest as the first read-through. Note to those with lovers: minus some of fudgery, the trilogy is a guide to either re-igniting the fire; or to keeping it lit.

Lovely Sisters

 

Last week

Progress on my reading list is sometimes slow. That’s why I just stepped into the highly addictive Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. I’m sure most will agree that the gripping stories Collins’ weaves — featuring Katniss, Peeta, and Gale — do not allow one to stray for long.

In the Midst of Addiction

With the exception of caring for Issa and Riff, Collins’ saga about the reaping, Hunger Games, and revolt taking place in the 13 districts have held me captive for nearly seven days. In the midst of my addiction, two lovely sisters from the blogging world nominated kateschannel for a couple of awards.

Two Lovely Sisters from he Blogging World

Cathy, from Inspired Design, nominated kateschannel for One Lovely Blog Award. Like me, Cathy resides near Detroit, loves her Italian-Irish heritage, and enjoys looking back at the ’70s and ’80s. I urge my followers to read her posts about Michigan treasures. Also, be sure to take a look at what her eyes and camera lens captures.

Lea, from Lea at Sea, selected me as one of her seven picks for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Lea’s blog shares her favorite books, discusses her passion for writing, and captures some amazing nature photos. Recently, she shared an excerpt from her book, Tree of Roses. I truly consider her a sister in that she inspires me to create.

Both of these awards carry rules for me to follow upon acceptance. The rules are:

1. Thank those who nominated me. Done

2. Tell seven things about myself that you do not already know. Hmmm.

3. Nominate seven blogs for the awards. Look for my nominees, Friday.

7 Daily Craves

It was taking too much time for me to come up with seven things to share about myself. So, since this post talks about addictions, I figured why not list what I must have each day to fend off insanity.

1. Social time with adults. My fix is met through my blogging network, talking with friends or family on the phone, chatting with neighbors at the bus stop or at the store, or dates.

2. Exercise. My preference is walking because it’s not just about moving. Walking also clears my head of negative thoughts.

3. Writing. In earlier posts, I refer to writing as my therapy. It is. When I write about feelings connected to whatever stress I am carrying, those tensions go away.

4. Cheez-Itz. I do not know what Sunshine puts into those little squares of salty, cheesy goodness. But, I could easily polish off a box during my late-afternoon break. Good thing Issa and Riff love them, too.

5. Ice cream. This addiction has genetic links to my mom. She always has a half-gallon on hand to help her survive a day. While she prefers the low-fat, low-calorie versions, I go for the loaded stuff. My preferred brand this summer is Hudsonville. It’s made on Michigan’s west side.

6. Facebook. It’s so easy to connect with family and friends. It saves me minutes. It gives a common place to view photos from events and places.

7. Issa and Riff. Really, I am not making this one up. When they are away for an overnight at my parents’ home; or if I am away I miss hearing their voices.

Finally

My sister created this beach-themed birthday cake for my niece and nephew in June. The palm tree was made from rice krispy treats. Photo Credit: kateschannel

A post about Lovely Sisters wouldn’t be complete without mentioning I have one. She is my one-and-only sibling; and I am glad she graced the world with her loveliness back in 1973. Like me, she loves to create. While she is a skilled writer, her preference is for painting, crafty ventures, and cakes. She and her family will be visiting mine next weekend. Issa and Riff look forward to spending time with their cousins; and I am looking forward to having some quality-time with my very Lovely Sister.

 

School’s Out: Week 1 — Hot Stuff

Issa, Riff and I sprinted through Week 1 of summer break. It was a streak of hot, warped-speed fun, which included …

pancake mornings, swim suit afternoons, and scorching-hot evenings that called for grilling out whenever possible. After-hours indulgences include ice-cold Bell’s Oberon long-necks, Hard Luck Candy Rootbeer Flavored Vodka on the rocks, Cherry ICEEs and Rock of Ages.

Issa and Slim. Photo Credit: kateschannel

critter camp at Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center. Issa continued her exploration of reptiles, amphibians, insects and plant life during this four-day camp. Each day from 10:30 – 2:30 pm she joined other nature-lovers for hands-on instruction and fun. Plus, she got to see her adopted, pet ball python, Slim. In February, we donated funds to the nature center to help them care for Slim. In exchange, Issa visits him on a weekly basis to help with the provision of that care. Slim is very charming and loves for Issa to hold him.

weekend birthday bashes for my niece and nephew gave Issa and Riff two days of play with their cousins, introduced Riff to Jackson 5 magic, and gave me quality time with a very creative, over-the-top mistress of celebrations — my sister. Sisters do rule. Mine made her children a beach-themed birthday cake, which included a palm tree made out of rice krispy treats. She also woke me up at 5:15 am Sunday to ensure I made that 5k at Comerica Park in Detroit. Blaring Blink 182 as I zoomed along M-14 to meet up for a carpool with a long-time, college friend helped, too.

Just beachy! My sister is an artist in the kitchen, garden or wherever inspiration takes her. She made the palm tree out of rice krispy treats. Photo Credit: kateschannel

running with 2012 Heart of Detroit for Kids on the Go (KOTG) with the best coaches. Two avid runners — my cousin Joe Duris and my long-time, college friend, Lisa Brady — signed up to run the 5k at this event. There was something special about all these good people running for good people; down a quiet, traffic-free Woodward to the riverfront.

My A-Team. L to R: Joe Duris (my cousin), Lisa Brady (long-time college friend) and I envision the finish behind home plate at Comerica Park. Photo Credit: Kristy Schena, Kids on the Go

a home plate finish at Comerica Park. I came in at 35 minutes, 24 seconds and placed 12th out of 28 in my age group. Sweaty, running attire did nothing to stop my growing addiction to running; and to racing. In fact, Lisa, has helped me set my next goal: my first 10k at the Flirt with Dirt next June. My motivation to train more consistently and with greater conviction starts after the July 4 holiday week.

Comerica Park

Comerica Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

training on how to change shirts — without showing boobs — when one is without the privacy of a restroom. Lisa and I had decided on a post-race breakfast at Leo’s Coney Island in Plymouth, Mich. To save fellow diners from breathing our BO, we ditched sweaty race shirts for fresh ones prior to entering.

This week I need to do laundry and scrub toilets. But, there are only 12 weeks left. That means the priorities are painting, fishing at the subdivision retention pond, swim lessons, and taking time to make new recipes for dinner.

Related previous posts …

See It: Rock of Ages

Back Health Issues

Get Moving! Forward is a Pace

About Slim

Back Health Issues

One would think the back pain issues I have been experiencing resulted from the 3.1 miles of trails, I ran Saturday in my first 5k since August 2011. My friend, Sue and the Mathes Team challenged us runner to dig deep; and to run a course consisting mostly of hills and switchbacks.  The two 5ks I ran previously were a combination of street and trail. Plus, my training runs are usually through my neighborhood because that’s what my schedule allows.

Amusingly enough, the 5k is not what caused the snap in my lower back …

It was a peaceful Sunday morning. If I remember, correctly, it was a little after 8. I  finished taking Buddy, my Pekingese for a walk; and felt healthy and ready to take another longer walk through my neighborhood. But, I needed relief. You know what I mean? Too much coffee.

As I finished, I sang Pink’s So What in my mind. It was next in my cue on the MP3, which was waiting patiently for me on the ledge in my garage. Then …

All of a sudden, I couldn’t move. Would I finish my time like that other lady who was stuck to her toilet for two years? All of a sudden the scene playing in my mind had me starring as Miranda Hobbes from Sex in the City. Remember the episode where she fears she’ll die alone in her apartment and be half-eaten by her cat? A panic attack was imminent.

I reminded myself I was way too short and had the wrong hair color to play her. So, I remained calm and managed to complete the most basic of tasks. Then, hunched over, I  waddled like a duck to the kitchen for my next coffee.

This image of myself did not bode well. I kept saying the quote I shared with you the other day — Forward is a pace — as I envisioned myself being ran over with a cart during my next trip to the grocery store.

I admitted the possibility of having to adapt to slower mobility. After all, I had graduated to a new age category (40-49) for 5k races. Perhaps I would have to adjust my pace down a notch rather than up. But, what kind of thinking is that?

Shah! I survived playing with my children, driving my daughter to Critter Camp at our local nature center, mowing the lawn, and cooking dinner two nights in a row. There is hope. Walking behind the mower actually seemed to help. I am now able to move around more rapidly.

This Sunday — on June 24 — I am at it again. I am racing a 5k in the 2012 Heart of Detroit Run/Walk.  My cousin, Joe, and a longtime college friend, Lisa — both avid runners — have agreed to run these 3.1 miles with me. Collectively, we are all running as Kate’s A-Team and are running to support Kids on the Go (KOTG), a non-profit pediatric program I advocate for. KOTG provides speech, physical and occupational therapies — tuition-free — to children with special needs in metro Detroit.

Related previous posts …

Get Moving! Forward is a Pace …

Monday at 11:50: Blue, Lions, and Three Supermoms

Living north of the “D” has been anything but normal this January. Temps have surged toward 50 for several consecutive days. The Detroit Lions made their first post-season appearance in more than a decade, and two fellow supermoms and myself won a 3-on-3 and horsed around Friday afternoon.

Blue, Brilliant and Green

This morning blue skies and brilliant sunshine greeted me while walking Issa to the bus stop. Usually, winter’s bleakness is a constant companion until early April. Snow, ice, and cold have yet to arrive. I guess upgrading to a pair of snow skates will have to wait.

Lions and Sanders’ Chocolate Stout

Last Saturday at 8, my beloved Lions roared into the Superdome to test themselves against the New Orleans’ Saints. After the half, I felt that glimmer of hope for a win quickly fade. Thank goodness I had an ice-cold Sanders’ Chocolate Stout at arms reach. Despite the loss and early-out from the NFL playoffs, I am truly impressed with the progress demonstrated from this young, talented team. Hopefully, off-season tweaking and practice will return the Lions in September to continue their quest for greatness. I am looking forward to an unstoppable 2012 season.

Supermoms Reach Close 3-on-3 Victory, Horse Around Hoops

It was Friday afternoon. Three fourth-grade boys wanted to practice their three-point and dribbling skills. So, they challenged two of my mom friends. To give the two teams an even number, I was asked  join them. The new team — Supermoms — took to the driveway half-court and clinched a very close victory: 21-18. As the boys left the court for snacks and some XBox fun, the Supermoms continued with a game of H-O-R-S-E.