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.

tn_intransitionmoveout2july2016

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.

tn_intransitionwelcometoohiojuly2016

Welcome to … Music City

tn_nashvillecumberlandwalkingbridgejuly2016-copy

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.

tn_oprylandvisit1roomwithaview3july2016

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.

tn_nashvillesciencecenteradventuretowerviewjuly2016

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.

 

tn_nashvilledoglunch2july2016

Delicious hotdogs and burgers in the Vanderbilt University neighborhood.

 

tn_nashvillebicentennialpark2016

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

 

georgejonesplacenashville

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.

 

tn_nashvillesavannahscandyshopp2016

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save the Animals

Just like many publicly funded programs, the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township is being asked to cut costs. Township leadership says the animals must go to save money; unless the animals are adopted.

Snakes, turtles, spiders, frogs, cockroaches and other species need animal-lovers to give money for their care to stay housed at the Shadbush Nature Center. Adoption costs range and depend upon the animal and the level of care needed to support its health.

In February, my family adopted Slim, a ball python, for our daughter, Issa. She is very interested in learning about snakes. We thought this was the ideal way to encourage further exploration. Slim continues to live at the nature center. Issa can visit any time. During her visits, Issa holds Slim and learns to care for him.

Slim, the ball python, adopted for Issa. This picture was taken in March 2012. He has grown considerably and is a very people-friendly python. Photo Credit: Tina Richmond

The Shadbush Nature Center offers ongoing, low-cost, hands-on educational programs for people of all ages throughout the year. Young people benefit especially from the summer camps, evening nature talks and opportunities to see/handle animals in a safe environment. Without the animals, the nature center would be at a loss to continue what is does so well for our community.

To learn more about adopting an animal at the Shadbush Nature center, call 586-323-2478.

Girlfriends, Chocolate Martinis, Education and Bingo

Last Thursday, I took a much-needed break. I left my hubby in charge of putting the kiddos to bed, abandoned my NaNoWriMo characters on some beach near Jakarta, and squealed my tires as I zoomed off to catch up with two girlfriends.

My two girlfriends and I met at Nick’s 22nd Street Steakhouse, in Shelby Township, Mich., which I’m going to plug. Not only did they take good care of us there, martinis are half-off on Thursday nights. Regular price is $7.50. You do the math.

While I slurped down two chocolate martinis,  my girlfriends caught me up on family matters, tempered my enthusiasm for running in the Freeze Your Fanny 5k in January (so far I have no takers – not good), said I was insane for trying to run a mile in five minutes on my elliptical, and gave me their viewpoints on our crumbling national education system.

Our elementary-school-aged children are students in the highly-acclaimed, Utica Community Schools, the second largest district in Michigan.  As we discussed various triumphs and challenges in relating to school personnel, we turned our conversation to the No Child Left Behind policies as well as a special education millage that was voted down November 8.

The conversation left me with a different opinion about the No Child Left Behind legislature. While I agree with giving children equal access to a competitive education experience, I do not agree with lowering the standards our students are expected to meet. I believe our standards need to be set higher. Resources need to be committed to helping children achieve at those higher standards. Otherwise, our students will continue to lag behind those receiving their educations elsewhere.

Where does Bingo fit in? The PTO at my daughter’s school organized Bingo for last Friday. Approximately 100 students — including my daughter — bought tickets to play. Once play was underway, it was pandemonium. You would have thought we were at the Eisenhower Eagles football regional playoffs in Walled Lake, which we really were in spirit. Our school’s physicial education teachers called numbers for the game and kept us updated on the Ike game score. The commitment all parents have to the ensuring our students receive a high-quality education that prepares them for our competitive global economy is truly appreciated.

Bus Stop Chatter: What Not to Say

What can I say? My girlfriends and I had just put our angels on the school bus; and I was only half way through my venti-sized coffee — mixed with So Delicious coconut milk.

One of my girlfriends mentioned the big pile of donation bags for the Vietnam Veteran’s Association sitting on my front porch. She and I have been on a mission to clean out all unnecessary material possessions from our closets, garages, attics, bonus rooms, etc.

Not thinking, I casually mentioned the upcoming neighborhood garage sale — scheduled for May 19, 20 and 21 — for those of you who know where the Woodside Village and Shelby Orchards neighborhoods are in Shelby Township, Mich. I didn’t say I was a sure thing. But, I did mention my daughter’s interest in trying to sell some of her stuffed animals and toys.

Before I could take another swig from my coffee mug, my two girlfriends reserved space in my garage, discussed merchandise labeling, requested a couple of kid-sale tables for the driveway, and suggested we grill and sell hotdogs. Come to think of it, some of my spicy rum lemonade would be the perfect beverage for this event.

So, I’ll let you know how our impromptu garage sale party shakes out. Maybe we will see you there.

Monday: Bus Stop Chatter

My rollerblading track

My children returned to school from spring break this morning. While I loved having the extra time to spend with them during this recess, I missed gabbing with my neighbors at the bus stop and I missed the precious child-free weekday hours to write, run errands, and complete household chores.

Bus stop chatter centered upon a new housing development in a subdivision located directly behind my home. For nearly five years this development has been mostly dormant. Since the conclusion of 2010, basements are being poured weekly and the number of “sold” signs decorating many of the lots continues to increase. While my no-traffic, rollerblading track is disappearing, it is encouraging to see new homes dotting the landscape. I am hopeful this is evidence of better economic times for Shelby Township and for southeastern Michigan.

Wednesday Zumba Mornings

After I put my son on the school bus, I head to Graceful Moves in Shelby Township, Mich. for a one-hour Zumba class. I am a newbie to this Latin-dance, aerobic-exercise craze. But, I can already see and feel why it’s a hit.

The instructor, Sheryl, is amazing to watch and follow. Most of the ladies in my class have been taking Zumba from her for two years. That says a lot about their commitment to staying fit and to having a blast at 9:00 am each Wednesday.

One of the components I love most about this class is the mix of music we dance to. There is truly a beat for just about any person who loves to dance. We mixed it up mostly to Latin music. But, we also pretend to be Jennifer Beals from Flashdance, Lady Gaga and Fergie from Black-Eyed Peas for a few numbers.

A long-time friend for high school inspired me to try Zumba; and I am so glad she did. You should check out her Zumba posts at her blog, Tickling My Fancy. My Wednesday mornings are now something I look forward to and I am having a blast. Here’s to Zumba addiction.