Food, Fun, Family, Friends & Fur
Not necessarily in that order. But where I will continue and regularly talk about all that goes on in the life of Mr Mom, my humorous stories about my husband, family and travels to the serious topics of my work and passions to the getting old part of my life, and what that means for an old queen like myself.
Episode 1 - Mr Moms talks with long time friend Mike Oulton about his time in fostering, how that shaped him as an adult and what he is up to now!
On the eve of Christmas day, time again for reflection. As I stood waiting for some gifts to be monogrammed, a voice brought me back to reality. “Russell”, you don’t know me but I know you, I am a foster parent and see your face all over. I thought to myself its been awhile since I have seen a family poster of us “the foster family”, never the less felt a little like a rock star… local celebrity ..ok then someone she might ask directions from.
We exchanged pleasantries, while my mind tried to figure out who she was and if I had possibly met her before or even supported her family at some point. Old age and the billion other things let this go pretty quick as what did it matter, she was a foster parent.
She quickly, as most foster parents do, started to tell me about her family, how many, who was coming and who was going back home and what the ministry was doing well and what they were not. This is very common when running into them, as this is their lives, they purpose and sometimes they just need an outlet and then they are off again.
This time was different though, as it took me to that place where my pride of foster parents and what they do takes over. The tears began to well up as she talked with the utmost pride and biggest smile while doing so.
I know the news often talks about what’s wrong with the system, not only here in BC but all over Canada. I know that we always hear when there is some God awful tragedy involving a foster parent or their family. Seldom do we ever get to talk about all the good foster parents do.
Now when I talk about foster parents, I want to also include those grand parents that take on their grandchildren, the teacher who has jumped in to take in a child from her school, the sister who trying to keep her family together takes in her brothers kids because he has fallen to addiction.
As an only child for 30 years, and now a brother to a 24 year old, I feel so blessed to have family. I can never imagine not having the amazing family that I have.
Many people have said to me over the many years, “I don’t know how you raise someone else’s child. I will admit that at times it is not easy. At times it is downright rough. What I can then say is once you are over those feelings it is the most amazing thing you can do.
I feel there is a reason that everyone comes into our lives, including the small ones, I can tell you that I have learned so much more from our kids than ever giving back to them. Throughout the holidays, our family tries to give back in a variety of ways, trying to teach our kids that no matter how bad you think it is it could be worse.
Care givers are the kindest hearted people I know. They give usually until they can give no more. Today listening to this foster parent all that kept running through my mind was, she could be talking to me about her Christmas list, her new coat, her own kids, her recent holiday. No, she was talking about how sad and happy her foster child was returning to their family. How she would miss them, how her days up to today have been filled getting ready for the holidays to give this child a great Christmas before they would leave.
She spoke highly of the family and had said she had wished she could do more for them. When I asked her what she was doing for her Christmas Dinner, she said that she had invited the child’s family to share with her own family.
Most of us open our doors to those that may not have a place to go, most of us continue the spirit of Christmas, without the religious meaning attached to it.
So as 2018 comes to a close, I am hopeful for a brighter and better and more loving 2019.
So today….. I want to wish the many new friends that we have met along the way this year, the many old friends that are loyal to a fault the best of holiday season. From our family to yours, we wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas.
To all the caretakers of the world, never stop loving and never stop doing what you do.
Travel sometime is like sex. There is a lot of anticipation, build up before. Then there is the long awaited ride so to speak, then there is the calm, the cigarette moment where you all bask in where you went and how you enjoyed it.
Then all life comes back to normal when you realize that the cigarettes are bad for you and cost you a lot of money. You are exhausted from your activity and at our age takes us days to recuperate.
That is where we are right now after our holidays, feeling rode hard and put away wet. Life has to return to the crazy hectic pace that we are used to. Kids, commitments, and marriage and work….uggggghhhh
The wonderful thing about now rather a couple years ago is that all the kids are in school again…. A break mentally and physically from the constant on with kids.
So what to do while smoking the cigarette………
October 1st marks Foster Parent appreciation Month and I am so honored to still be a foster parent as we approach our last adoption.
I am equally excited not to be apart of the provincial association, for this reason; it is great to enjoy the time and appreciate what we have. The association continues on and changes are inevitable, but foster parents continue to do amazing jobs in challenging times.
The recent AGM in Nelson, brought together as always a group of foster parents, wanting to make change, move forward and network. Although away with work and play combined, I missed the people and the opportunity to talk to people that “get it”, that understand what it is we do.
There is a bigger need than ever for our children in the community, as addictions continue to tear our families apart. Stress in families continues to play into what our teens are dealing with and how they are trying to cope, not just being a teen, but all the things that go with that. Add to that the stress parents may have around jobs and money, never mind if they have addictions as well.
Sometimes I think it would be so easy to throw in the towel and run and hide. Then I think of my kids and all they have endured and the challenges they have over come, the ones they are still working on and of course the ones we may never know about that they are dealing with on their own.
So as we move through foster parent appreciation month, and into Adoption Month (November) think about not only those foster parents, but those kids that have so much going on and that are in care.
Think maybe about what you can do, what role can you play in helping with our kids in BC. The simplest things can make a difference, the simplest of words can often change a life. Make it happen…
Our Morning started are 3:30 AM Seriously !!!!! Who Books this shit!!! Oh yeah the love of my life… are you kidding me, not showing much love here. Not to mention there is a five hour layover, ok great people watching time, but really??? I might sleep through the people watching.
Having to drop the rental, and then head to the airport so early, makes me think its going to be a very long day… turns out to be longer than one originally thought/
So we get to airport plenty of time ahhhh … Board the plane on time 6 AM all looking good. Start to taxing out to the runway…and we are off…nope mechanical issues…….ok so back to gate. Deplane… ok then. The wait begins, 7:00 oh brother not looking good.
Good morning ladies and gentleman it looks like we need to fly in a computer part and we wont be leaving Memphis for a few hours oh my…..someone shoot me please!
I hate life without a plan B, so off to the airline counter, can we get on a different flight? To somewhere? Anywhere? Yep its now 8:00 AM they can get us onto another flight to Minneapolis, well not so bad!!
Then from there, Winnipeg, then home to Vancouver arriving at the same time as we would have anyways…. Perfect a little milk runish but all is good.
What someone did not tell us is that our luggage would not make the flight, it infact would be having a solo holiday in LA, then Seattle and finally home.
Travel is apart of the memories , and half the fun. Racing for a flight, walking 100 miles to get across the airport for a connecting flight. Realizing you forgot to pack your pants all of them. These are the things we tried to instill in our son, when anxiety and panic set in. Sure we as adults get upset, and frustrated that things aren’t going well and maybe we take it out on each other, but it is what will eventually be laughed at and appreciated as part of the experience.
Sometimes those trips, where we mix business with pleasure are harder cause you are torn, not sometimes doing either well.
This was a great trip where business and pleasure played together well.. next trip….. I think Florida Jessica’s 21st Birthday (supposed to be Vegas trip) and our Granddaughter’s graduation present… so excited.
Up at 7:30 we skipped breakfast so that we could get ready and be at the Titanic exhibit and of course be the first in the line ups…..
When you pull up you see the front half of the ship, the entrance looking a bit like a boarding office. It is here you receive your card, telling you which passenger you were on the ship, I was a third-class passenger, Michael worked for the owner and Darrell was a crew member.
If you know anything about our family what you might remember is that Michael is hooked, obsessed, passionate consumed…. One or all, about anything Titanic. So as we start to walk through he is giving us all the information, ….who needs handsets…
I was amazed at some the artifacts and hadn’t realized that so many salvages have been done, and many artifacts have been recovered. From dishes to chairs to personal items of those passengers that were rescued or found.
The grand staircase although, absolutely amazing, not so big after all. In its day I am sure it would have been grand and spectacular. To the third class, it would have been something never seen before or even dreamed of.
The replicas of the staterooms were awesome, and beautiful, each filled with many artifacts. Many the survivors specifically women, went on to great things. Professors, high end designers, philanthropists, authors to name a few.
Two things brought this disaster home for me, made it more of a reality than that of a story that could have possibly just written for our entertainment.
The first was the staircase with he locked gate, that began to fill a staircase. Behind the locked gate I stared as a third-class passenger, realizing I would have been behind that gate and locked in, possibly to my doom.
The second, was when you walked out on to the bridge and you left inside the bridge and they had the temperature ice cold, and then the invited you to test the water, which would have been the temperature of the water that fatal night, it was freezing, you were reminded how quickly you would have froze.
In two hours, it was over, from impact to being swallowed by the water. There are recorded interviews, from three of the woman survivors done years back. I chose not to listen, not wanting to be brought to that place.
Just recently while going through my grandmother’s things to put into one of the cookbooks, I ran across a letter where it speaks about the anniversary of the titanic and how it had been written about in the papers. I thought it was neat that even in her time, they were talking about something we continue to talk about today.
Leaving the titanic there is a wall where you can find out if indeed you died on the voyage, and alas I had died while Darrell and Michael had survived, the best part is further on down you find out what the survivors had done.
It was a great exhibit, and Michael says this one is better than the one at home, because it is that actual ship replica. There are several exhibits all over, Branson, Vegas, Richmond and Newfoundland, or so Michael tell me.
Either way if you get a chance you should check them out. Great piece of history, presented very well.
Leaving the Titanic, and at that moment not having sunk, we decided it was time for lunch. We also entertained(no pun) what we were going to do for dinner one last dinner in Pigeon Forge.
We decided for entertainment we would go see Dolly’s Stampede, a animal lovers event. We stopped at the other Dolly’s Dinner Theater to get tickets. Now off to find lunch.
Wood Grill caught our eye and by our I mean Darrell’s, the word “buffet” is in his search engine. This is a massive building, it has to seat 500 I am sure. The buffet starts with salads and all the way on the other end is the dessert.
Ok so what can you really say about buffets….cold…tasteless.. nope not here. Our waitress Linda was a riot. The food was hot and tasty. We ate each of our two rounds totally clean. Honorable mention goes to their fish, broccoli casserole, fried rice… and of course the blackberry cobbler, oh yeah man too good.
We rolled out there, over stuffed and in pain, telling ourselves we did our best to follow the servers instructions, that before we left the buffet must be empty. Back to our cabin, to rest up for our next feed, we had bought tickets to Dolly Parton’s Stampede and would be stuffing ourselves yet again.
Earlier in the week Darrell had asked me “if I needed fed”, sounding like I was a horse waiting for grain or a cow waiting for grass, now I know what he meant, (wanting to make sure I was eating properly because of my diabetes) but with all we were eating it seemed a little more hurtful than I’m sure he meant.
We arrived at the Dolly Stampede building, for the pre-show, here they would take the customary touristy picture, send you into a holding lounge where you were to buy non-alcoholic drinks in fancy glasses, to take home as a memory of the show.
They even enticed you with popcorn with the drink, (now you know I must have been full to not want popcorn, its my kryptonite). The pre-show tri was funny, and very talented and had perfected their show to a smooth, extremely enjoyable hour. They had all worked with Dolly in some form or another, from playing her band, to working on her albums to producing one or two.
At about 8:15 we headed into the arena, to enjoy the show and a meal. Our waiter Steve was hilarious, the show was well done. The cast was extremely talented, both on and off the horses. The show took us back in time, where buffalo roamed.
Square dancing done on horse back, the wagon circle and the ball were among some of the highlights. There were many, the costumes well done with many lighting up, like the ballgowns of the women. A tribute to the USA where they were all dressed in white and red, which all lite up, the host sported the additional blue. Very well done.
Dinner was equally enjoyable, starting off with a creamed soup, simple ingredients, but huge on taste,(you can buy it in a package in their store), Cornish hen, slice pork tenderloin, ½ baked potato glazed with garlic butter, and corn on the cob all had amazing flavor which one might have thought would be lacking. Wanting to try the bbq sauce calling my name, only intensified the chicken’s flavor, not needed but certainly appreciated. Homemade it was thick and dark with strong pepper flavors with a molasses body, so good. Finishing off this great meal was a hot out of the oven, apple turnover…… the only missing was soft server over top, which I can assure you we did not need.
We had a sleep in today, up at 7:30 shit, shave and shampoo as my father used to say and off to breakfast. Now the best thing about Staybridge Suites if you have a family the size of ours, is the rooms are economically priced to begin with, then you get a decent free breakfast.
Usually there are eggs, meat, potatoes, waffles, fruit, yogurt, danishes, muffins, cereals (hot and cold), juices, bagels and toast, and I haven’t listed everything. So not bad if you consider with our whole crew that would be at least a 150.00 breakfast bill. Now with just us three, it still is a great start to our day especially the coffee.
It has been at least ten years since we have visited Graceland, we had mom with us and our son Dylan(who he referred to Elvis as the dead guy, he was 5 ish), the first time around.
What once was a very cramped exhibit of the life of a King, is now world class place to remember the King. There are many other things to look at here at the Graceland, where once stood a gift shop across from the actual mansion, is now home to an entire complex. The planes are still in the same spot and still close to the new buildings
Several large buildings now house all the artifacts that were once held at the mansion racquet ball court, in the back of the mansion. The racquet ball has been restored to its full glory. Many of the artifacts that were once house in the second story of the Mansion now have made their way down.
So there are gift shops in all of the buildings, well duh! There is a building dedicated to Sun records, and a large portion dedicated to the man responsible for finding Elvis, Sam Philips. You walk through offices of Sun Records and it original office furniture. You can also see in another building, all or a vast majority of the Kings many outfits.
In another portion of the complex, the museum pays tribute to those who thought of Elvis as a mentor, or someone they wanted to be like. The like of Dolly Parton, Kiss, Bruce Springstein and the list goes on.
Stage A takes us through his movie career, were tributes to Elvis while he worked through his movie contracts. Movies played while displaying many of the costumes he or co-stars had worn. Further along, was a tribute to Elvis while he was in the army, where he met and fell in love with Pricilla.
Car and big boy toys portion, from his Jeep to Lisa Marie’s toy peddle carts filled a room. Tractors, motor bikes to his extensive car collection. A whole building that now displays how things are stored in the artifact room and how they are registered.
There are several eateries now, named after his parents, “Vernon’s Smokehouse”, “Gladys’ Diner” and a candy shop, named “Minnie Mae’s Sweets” after his Grandmother. There is shopping for the kids, where an entire shop has been set aside for kids and all their whims and wishes.
The one true love of his life, Lisa Marie, is honored throughout the monument to the King, from an entire section on her successes to plane with her name on it.
The new Presley Guest house, a new hotel is just minutes down the street where you can catch a shuttle to it all.
The Main draw, I am sure, is still the Mansion where you still get a sense of who he was, where he felt the most at home. He lived and died there. His mother and father got to see his success on these grounds and in the rooms of Graceland.
The resting place, (which lies in the backyard of the Mansion) of Gladys, Vernon, Minnie Mae and Elvis is calming, haunting and a reminder of the Man the Music and a King.
In doing a bit of google research, it reads the Lisa Marie is owner of Graceland, and all its items, while selling 85% of the Graceland holdings for 100 million that included Elvis Presley’s name and images. In 2017 the estate was making 55 million dollars per year according to Forbes.
Left a very happy person today…. Want to bring my mom back….soon
“The Pig”, a Memphis favorite for the past few years, since 2002, was our next stop. Located on famed Beale Street, in downtown Memphis, it has gained a reputation for great BBQ. Over the years it has won several awards for its food.
Walking in you get a funky smell that hits you, one of age and Bbq mixed. When we entered the joint, it was empty but one. This was at about 2:30 in the afternoon and I am assuming there was going to be a dinner rush.
We ordered a platter for 3 to 5 with assorted BBQ. Chicken Legs, thighs, pork, ribs, fries, onion rings, beans and potato salad. 49.95 . It was bar none the best BBQ we have had since being in Tennessee. Emily our server who was tall and statuesque was very friendly. She was on top of her game and we hold her totally responsible for us taking home both types of pie.
Mark the manager came over to introduce himself to us and we chatted about many things Memphis. From the rising crime in Memphis to night life on Beale. He too recommended the two pies, so maybe we hold him responsible for my rising sugar levels and my ever expanding waistline.
The place is a definite go-to. We took little meat home and our two pies. Now normally we would have taken pictures of the pies of which we speak, however they really didn’t make it in the door of the hotel, before they were devoured. The pecan….to die for and the Peanut Butter, apparently made with cream cheese oh so good.
Today we visited a king. Elvis Presley.
Like a good Willie Nelson song, on the Road again we are up at 5:30 AM to get to Memphis at a decent time. About a 6.5 hour drive without old man bladder issues, add those stops in, who knows 8 hours.
We decided to forego breakfast, to have a semi comfortable drive, a much needed cleanse after binge eating for the last week. That’s the problem with traveling with us, it seem we think there will never be another day to eat and we stuff our selves silly. We must learn balance.
Two days before flight time, we better figure out how we, and by we I MEAN WE, figure out to have nice empty systems for the flight home. So most likely the first thing that we will look for once hitting Memphis will be to look for food….sigh..
The drive from Pigeon Forge to Memphis was a little stressful as it was raining like cats and dogs in some places, No really you could hear them meowing and barking. In two places we saw what happens when people do not adjust their speed for the conditions, in accidents. Another instant, where the driver of a big rig was either falling asleep at the wheel, on something or preoccupied with something, as his rig was going from one line to the other.
Scary stuff here, when everyone drives like a mad man, and all on their phones. Darrell is a great driver but of course its not his driving I worry about, well ok it is too, that’s just my control issues….
Seven hours later we touched down in Memphis and I mean by car..OMG I would loved to have gotten out and kissed the ground but it was still raining cats and dogs, scared I might get bit. If my underwear could talk, oh that’s right I don’t wear any, well then that’s good, but I am sure I left a streak or two on the rental seat. Just sayin…..
We were lucky enough to be able to check in to our favorite, travel with kids, hotel, Staybridge Suites. Unfortunately, this one is set up for the old fogies, not that we aren’t that, but with the hospital so close we assume lots of old peoples stay here. Well the shower hand rails might have something to do with and the shower chair…another tell tale.
Unfortunately, Muffin aka Michael not impressed that he has to sleep on a pullout, which usually we are used to a two bedroom at the stay bridge. LOL we took him out to lunch at Logan’s Road House, where our server Ariel, yep just like the mermaid (her words not mine) was wonderful and friendly.
The food meh!!! Not great but not bad. My salad the lettuce was old, and Darrell Caesar, although great flavor had way way too much dressing on it. Their buns, for which they say they are famous are toooooo die for. I don’t think there could be any more melted butter on them, really! Nice atmosphere, you get to throw peanut shells on the floor, so how can you go wrong.
Back to the Stay Bridges Suites we go where Gramps has to take a nap from the ride from hell he put us through and Michael had to continue to fight internet. So ahhh finally some time to get some work caught up.
A nice nap and off to eat again… this time we went to Garibaldis Pizza in Germantown, look how the hell do I know if there is an Italian town…. I’m just visiting. The girl at the front desk, recommended this place to us, and we heard her wrong and went to the one that was takeout only. Off we went in the other direction the one that had sit down.
Great Pizza, service meh!! Not so much . but would definitely go again for the pizza. Ok back to bed cause we had a very early morning, even before the chickens. Now that was a whole different story leaving the cabin in those wee hours, I am posting a picture of the GPS map of the road in and out of the cabin. The axe murders could have certainly caught us in the pitch blackness heading out.
With Darrell’s foggy windows, and the bears waiting under every tree to make their attack, chainsaw murders would have had a field day… thank goodness we made it out alive
Tonight a good nights sleep, and tomorrow off to see Elvis. Who knows what shenanigans we will get into tomorrow.