The Greatest Show on Earth

I think this might be record timing to get a post up. Especially these days. Because, yes, we went to the circus this morning and, yes, I am writing a post about it this afternoon. Probably wise not to get used to this sort of turnaround. The boys are sleeping off the excitement, and I, shockingly, have no desire to nap.

Today was one humongous DO-OVER with a heaping side of awesome. Remember last week, how Graham puked in the car on the way to the circus? Well, it turns out that I’d booked our circus event for the first of two weekends the circus was going to be in town. Thanks to Andy’s see-to-it-iveness and his office location in handy-dandy downtown Dallas (never thought I’d say that… also read: very, very close to the event center’s box office), he was able to exchange our tickets for last Saturday to this Sunday. Yes, it required a trip to the PHYSICAL box office to exchange. That’s getting rather unheard of in this day and age.

Anyhoo, we booked these tickets for the morning show and decided to make a day of it.  We started out in the Bishop Arts District at a restaurant called Oddfellows. It’s a Boho-style brunch place with incredible food. I’m seriously not overselling the food. Neither Andy or I could pick off the menu. I had pancetta, egg and mozzarella breakfast tacos with a side of red velvet pancake, and Andy had the brisket hash. Incredible.

Thankfully, they were all ready for Graham too!

Graham had a hard time choosing between “pancakes & fruit” and “eggs & bacon”. He kept asking us for “pancakes & eggs”. He finally settled on pancakes and fruit as his choice for this morning, and thus began a child’s interminable wait between when they decide what they want to eat and when the food is actually placed in front of them.

Andy distracted G by having him fix Andy a cup of coffee.

I swear that kid’s going to be a barista someday.

Eventually (and, mind you, not very much time had passed), the waitress came and took our order. I told her that Graham wanted pancakes and fruit. He heard me give his order, and he cocked his head down to his shoulder, looked way up at the waitress and said, “I looove fruit…” What a ham.

What did he think of his meal?

It was a consensus all the way around the table. Amazing place. Highly recommended. Go early – it fills up quickly!

45 minutes and three full bellies later, we were headed to the circus. Graham totally got it. He was wiggling and squiggling in the backseat the whole way from Oddfellows to where we ultimately parked the car. He said, “Graham goin’ ta circus!” “Elephants!!!!!!” and “I’m SO ‘cited!” Such a great age.

We’d been warned by Brian and Michelle at the high prices of the circus swag. $12 cotton candy, $10 sno-cones, you name it. Thankfully for them Charlie was content to see all the stuff and not have it for his own. Graham… Graham was not content just to see it. I swear we almost had to leave the place with a $30 stuffed elephant. He was infatuated with the elephants. We were able to distract him for the most part, but a kid behind us had this awesome sno-cone, and Graham was not about to go the entire circus with that awesomeness not in his possession.

(Does this remind anyone else of a certain scene in the Temple of Doom? Tell me I’m not the only one.)

Then the show started. Graham couldn’t decide if he wanted to eat his sno-cone, watch the show, sit in his seat, stand or sit in one of our laps. He basically had no idea what to do with himself. It was loud and fantastic and rather overwhelming. Eventually, he got in the swing of things and settled on viewing the show from his seat (for the most part) while we shoved sno-cone into his mouth every so often.

At some point, utter awe overtook him. Once in awhile, he’d reach up to hold my hand or quietly say, “Wow – look Mommy!” Mostly, though, he was in a stupor.

He loved the acrobats running around in giant revolving wheels.

We loved the circus too, truth be told. I think my favorite part was the elephants’ act. Hard to say what it was for Graham. :)

This one was cool too:

Crazy, right? With the giant cross-bow by us, we knew someone was getting shot across the room. But at one point, Andy blurted out “Holy s!#&, they’re going to light him on fire!”

We stayed the whole show and enjoyed every minute. Graham was exhausted by the end, but I hope he had as much fun as we did.

Oh, and we stopped by Andy’s office for a pit stop before hitting the road back to home. Graham was poking through Andy’s office and found a can of compressed air. He had just let us leave the circus without a stuffed elephant, but that kid would NOT back down over leaving Andy’s office without that compressed air.

And so, we have a picture proving just how lame his parents really are.

The end.

A First for the Meyerson

Andy and I knew it was going to be an interesting night as soon as we pulled into the public parking lot next to the Meyerson Symphony Center for the Ben Folds performance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. We were in the queue to pay the parking attendant, and I scanned the lot to see what people were wearing as they got out of their cars. The first few made me nervous. “Honey, they’re wearing khakis and dresses,” I said, as I looked at Andy’s gray collared shirt and jeans and then assessed my own green khakis and black shirt. Andy reassured me that we knew it’d be a mix of the DSO season ticket holders and Ben Folds fans and, thus, would be a mix of wardrobes as well. Not a second later, I pointed and said, “OOH, there’s two guys wearing jeans!” Eww and there was a girl hanging out of an unsupportive bright red camisole and too tight jeans. And over there was a guy wearing a shirt and tie, with a cardigan sweater buttoned over it like a jacket. The variety of guests ran the gamut.

Regular patrons gave us casual folk the side-eye for awhile, until we got into the concert hall and realized that we were all just going to have to get over it. People in dresses were standing in line for tour edition t-shirts, and guys in european-style skinny jeans and Converse sneakers were holding tiny expensive cocktails. Speaking of Converse tennies – I think we had a record-setting number of patrons wearing these last night. I don’t think the Meyerson has ever ‘seen’ so many present in one sitting.

Andy and I eventually decided to find our seats. Which were awesome. Proof below.

Andy actually called the Meyerson ticket office to pick these seats instead of buying them online. You see, we’ve been to enough concerts to know that sitting on the right side of the piano makes for an incredibly disappointing view, because you’re staring at, well, a piano. If you’re lucky, you get a little snippet of Ben Folds head bobbing above the piano from time to time. No, as now-seasoned fans, we always make sure we sit on the left, so we can get the full meal deal.

Sorry it’s blurry, we were informed in no uncertain terms not to take pictures – even with camera phones. So we all had to be sneaky. :)

The concert was phenomenal. Used to the normal ear-hemorrhaging rock concerts, I panicked a little when Ben started playing, thinking the sound guys had him down too low. I can barely hear him! His piano, his voice – turn it up!! But then, I realized that this really wasn’t all about him. It was about the orchestra too. If his piano drowned everything out, how was I ever going to hear that harp, after all? We got to hear songs that we’ve never heard Ben perform before, and hearing them with live strings and brass and woodwinds was, well there are really no words for it.

***Taking a time out for Ben Folds fans here: We heard Brick, Stephen’s Last Night in Town, Smoke, Narcolepsy… uhhh think Debbie…… Zak and Sara, Gracie, Landed, and – get this – All U Can Eat. Okay, time in.***

A word about the song “All U Can Eat.” People who know it are already laughing at the fact that Ben sang this in front of a proper orchestra in a respected symphony house. It’s a song about folks in this world who don’t really care about anybody else, just as long as they get their fair share in life. The chorus, which is repeated several times through the song, has a first line, “They give no f—.” Yes, the “F dash dash dash” word, as Ralphie would say. First time through the chorus, we all kinda looked around at each other. It was like we were all kids again and we had witnessed somebody saying a bad word in front of an adult. We were waiting for fallout. None came.

Of course, none came! The DSO invited the guy here, they knew what they were getting into, right? As the song continued, our attitude changed a bit. It was a little liberating. A little naughty. You have no idea how much nervous giggling was going on in the audience during that song. Then, after, someone in the crowd yelled, “Rock this b#$%*!” which is another Ben Folds fan joke (kinda like yelling “Freebird!” at a concert). At that point the orchestra starting looking at each other, shaking their heads and smiling like, “Can you believe this?”

The concert was short. To prepare for this, Ben had to go back and recompose each song into an orchestral arrangement, which he referred to as, “a big piece to chew off.” Um, yeah, I imagine it would be. (Take that Kelly Clarkson.) So, there weren’t as many songs for them to play. After a double standing ovation – where I’ll point out that, even though we KNEW they were finished, and even though the house lights were turned on, neither suits and dresses nor jeans-wearers budged. We just kept on clapping. The orchestra, still sitting in their seats, were looking at each other like, they’re supposed to leave, what do we do now? So, Ben came out again, said, “Well, uh, we’re out of songs, but I know a few more, so how about I excuse the orchestra and we do a couple more?”

So we did. (And if you look closely, you can see the remains of the orchestra filing off stage left.) Wouldn’t you know it? We sang a song where the audience participation required us all to chant that mother of all dirty words over and over and over. How much fun is that, I ask you? All told, we were out of there by 10:00 pm. The concert started a little after 8:00, so yes – definitely short! But awesome. I’d do that again any day, but I’m not sure how soon the DSO will be inviting him back. 😀

Rockin’ the DSO

It’s that time of year again. The air gets crisp, leaves start to color, and Andy and I get that indescribable urge to go see live music. This year’s fall concert: Ben Folds – who we’ve seen… umm… let me count…. five times? I think it’s five, including his trip to Dallas about this time last year.

This time is a little different, and I couldn’t be more excited. Ben Folds is playing with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Folds is the kind of musician who is a treat to watch live. (It’s frankly why we’ve seen him so many times.) Seeing how he chooses to incorporate an entire orchestra into his songs – I’ll give you a second to digest the immensity of such a feat – is reason enough to go.

So, that’s where we’ll be tonight! :::squeal:::

The Girls’ Weekend

Well, the annual girls’ weekend has come and gone – officially putting an end to our crazy, crazy August. To recap briefly, The first weekend in August, we flew out to northern Illinois for Kylee’s wedding and back again in almost a 24-hour turn-around. Last weekend, we flew back to Illinois for Tony and Erin’s wedding. That trip was a little longer, but not much. This last week following the wedding, Andy and I had to break out a housework/chores schedule for ourselves so that we could clean the entire house to prepare for houseguests in four worknights. Friday – the girls arrived.

Kelly, Jodi and I have been friends since we were 8 years old. You know how friends you make in adulthood delight in finding out about what you were like as a kid? Well, your childhood friends witnessed it with front-row seats. When you’ve lived life play-by-play with somebody – much like with a spouse, I imagine – you naturally interact so that you are augmenting strengths and complementing weaknesses in each other. Makes for a very laid back and fulfilling weekend.

This is the second-annual get-together. The first year I flew to Atlanta to visit Jodi. This year, the girls came to Dallas. They got to see where I work, see our house and meet the “kids”. Andy, of course, has known these girls almost as long. The original intention was for him to keep as scarce as possible while they were here, but Friday night it just didn’t make any sense for him to duck out. We were all having such a great time together. Plus, all we really did was go out to have some fabulous Tex-Mex cuisine.

Saturday, we girls broke out on our own. We had brunch outside at our favorite brunch establishment, Breadwinners; then we hit the shops. After some serious accessorizing, we came home, changed into our finest cowgirl attire (did you see my MASSIVE earrings?!), and headed out to the Fort Worth Stockyards – a must stop for some serious cowboy, yipee-kay-aye culture. I have to imagine coming all the way to Texas without seeing any of your stereotypical Texas sites would be akin to going all the way to Scotland and never seeing a single kilt or bagpipes.

Fort Worth was a blast. First stop was the H3 Saloon, with the ever-so-famous saddle barstools, for their Buffalo Butt beer. Then we moseyed around the Stockyards shops, some of which have been a Fort Worth institution for many years. Like Leddy’s Boots, which are all gorgeous, hand-made boots, completely custom-fit to the wearer, and all run around $1500 a pair. We had dinner at Cattlemen’s steakhouse, then moved along to the rodeo.

Our rodeo ticket stubs got us into Billy Bob’s – World’s Largest Honky Tonk – for free. This was the highlight of our trip. The dance floor at Billy Bob’s was packed. There was live music all night, and this included a Josh Graicin concert, which started at about 11:00 pm. We tried our hand at the Texas two-step and found that we were able to fake it pretty well. At one point a couple walked up with another gentlemen and said, “Excuse me ladies, but our friend here is from England, and he wanted to get his picture taken with some real Texas cowgirls before we went home.” Okay, so it was screaming “pick-up line”, but the guy was British, so we took a picture. These three stuck around and we had a blast with them. The couple turned out to be from the Chicagoland area. In fact, the girl lived half a block from Kelly (unknowingly, of course) in Plano (Illinois). Isn’t that crazy?! They were neighbors, but they met in Texas. We ended up staying until closing time, then drove the hour home. We actually stayed up a little bit before going to bed around 4 am.

I had to put the girls on a plane this morning. Hard to say good-bye after such a short time together. This weekend just really confirms that, even though Kelly lives in Iowa and Jodi lives in Kentucky – we need to make sure we continue to find a way to meet up on a regular basis. Plans are already in the works…

So that was our weekend in a nutshell. Andy had a few adventures of his own on Saturday, but it falls beyond the scope of this entry. And of course, I’ll post pictures of the weekend – that is, once I get the photo CD’s from everybody!

Early Morning Departure

Around the country today, 16 men in their 20s and 30s will board their respective planes or drive their respective cars and take off for the same destination. Collectively, they have very little in common. Just one thing, really. Jeff. And the destination? Vegas. One of those men? My husband. That’s right, this weekend is Jeff’s bachelor party weekend.

Last night, I volunteered to drop Andy at the airport because I think (I think) that gas is still cheaper than three days of airport parking. The only problem? His flight left at 6:30am. Which meant we were up at 4:30 this morning. Anytime I have to wake up earlier than normal to leave for a flight, I have serious issues getting a good night’s sleep. I keep rousing myself to make sure that I’m not oversleeping. So, we got to bed a little late – 10:45 pm. Andy woke up and went to the bathroom at 1:00 am. A storm blew in around 2:00 am, so I woke up and went upstairs to bring my little baby tomato pots in from the upstairs balcony. This completely confused the dog, who was sitting by his food bowl waiting for breakfast when I came back down the stairs. I got the dog (and myself) shuffled back into bed, but I woke up again at 3:00 am. The alarm finally had mercy on me when it went off at 4:15 am.

On our way south down the Tollway in the pouring rain, we heard a traffic report. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, it seems that an accident that I originally thought wasn’t a big deal, well, turned out to be a really big deal. The northbound lane of the Tollway is completely shutdown because of an accident involving an 18-wheeler, and only the right lane is getting by on the southbound lanes because of the same accident.” Andy and I looked at each other. “Crap,” he said, and he pulled out the Blackberry to figure out an alternate route to get me back up to work after I dropped him off. Not a second later, he looked up, pointed and said, “Look, there it is!”

While Andy was on his Blackberry, my sleep-deprived brain had been trying to figure out how one accident could efftively shut down 7 lanes of traffic, which – I might add – are divided by a jersey barrier. I wish we’d gotten a picture. A big, yellow DHL semi truck was perfectly perpendicular to the northbound lanes of the Tollway. The truck’s cab was at the far shoulder, the truck’s trailer was stretched out across the lanes, and the rear wheels were somehow somehow sitting square on the opposite side of the jersey barrier. The back end of the semi had jumped over that concrete barrier that divides the two opposing lanes of traffic. But the 18-wheeler looked in pretty good shape, sitting upright and appearing fairly undamaged. Crazy.

So I delivered my husband to the airport for a weekend of fun. I made it safely back up to work with a seamless detour around the wreckage. My technician did a double-take when I walked in the door at 6:15 this morning. Now I’m just swigging as much coffee as my body will tolerate, and trying to figure out whatI’m going to do this weekend.

***Update: Found pics of the 18-wheeler on a local news website. Thought I’d share. The second picture is of alllllllllll the commuters trying to work their way into the city. This picture was taken at 6:30 am, imagine what it’s going to look like at 7:30 am!!