Category Archives: Travel

Little Sister in The Big Crapple

I’m 10,999 days old today.

I know this because it is the last day I get to be a younger sister.

He won’t be older than me tomorrow.

He won’t have done life first so I can watch how he does it before I have to.

And there is no way around it; that sucks.

I continue to have no interest in being an only child, and I also have no interest in being an oldest child. But somehow, I am going to be both now.

Turns out I don’t get a choice in the matter.

So I’m spending the weekend New York City, probably the place Shane hated most in the world (he maturely referred to it as “The Big Crapple.”) with my best friend. And we’re spending the long weekend eating a lot of brunch plus going to musicals plus day-drinking plus buying all the Mood fabric plus doing essentially every other stereotypically white-privileged-cliche-girl-in-NYC thing we can think of.

Because we are big fans of said garbage-city (and admittedly, as we discovered today, smells much more like garbage when it’s warm out, wow). And because I have to be the first one to turn 11,001 days old. And because I have to do life without an older brother in every sense of the word now.

I might as well start doing that with a mimosa in-hand.

In which life has changed

Sometimes I have so few interesting things going on that I have nothing to write.

And sometimes I have so many interesting things going on that my brain can’t register them all and I have also nothing to write.

WHY, BLOG, WHY!

Here’s the thing: taking a toddler you like to Disney World is WAY BETTER than not taking a toddler you like to Disney World.

Usually I’m a professional cynic at Disney world. Everything costs so much money! The stupid people are many! LEGGINGS AREN’T PANTS!

But bring the kid with me? And all of the sudden I am Julie Andrews on that mountain, arms splayed and singing loudly because THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MICKEY!

My buddy met Mickey Mouse, is what I am saying. And it was magical. Magical, I tell you!

Exhibits A-H:

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If you have made it this far in the nephew gushing, congratulations! You must be quite bored and therefore have earned the next set of news that will likely not really interest you all that much unless you are my mom, in which case you already know this and are therefore wasting your time – get back to work helping the children, Mom!

So anyway, this is the definition of burying the lede, but I quit my job at the radio ministry and started a new job at a web company today. I was at the radio ministry for almost seven years, and I’m really thankful for the time I spent there and the people I worked with. I feel really at-peace with the decision, but I also felt a little homesick today when I was the new kid at the new school.

The new school is incredible, though. It’s a place that will grow me and challenge me and give me a tummy ache for all the right reasons. And they are a family too, one that will accept me (and has already!) with open arms. I believe a lot of good will come from being there. I am overwhelmed, and I haven’t really felt that for a while.* These are really impressive people, and I would very much like to impress them with something I do too.

So I’m going to go read my HTML books. And maybe, day-by-day, I will get smarter and less overwhelmed.

Or maybe I will just bake them cookies.

Everybody likes cookies.

*Not technically true; I was very overwhelmed last week when I spent a night in the hospital with Jack, who was admitted for his bulging discs in his back. HOLY PAIN, Batman. He got a steroid shot in his spine and will eventually need surgery. He is still recovering from that and I am recovering from a stomach flu that took me down all weekend and kept me from attending my first day at New Work. All of that was overwhelming too.

Seriously. I am the worst at announcing lots of news. I should have done bullet points.

Full

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I visited Nashville this weekend.

My buddy Alece lives there, with her own grown-up house and everything. And my buddy Ellyn lives a distance away that she deemed worth driving to meet us, despite the hours and the gas and oh yeah the HORRIBLY DANGEROUS ICY ROAD CONDITIONS all the way through the two states before “ours.”

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So yeah, two of my favorite people were in the same rooms with me for the last three days, is what I am saying. And then I discovered a whole other person in the room, and she became a favorite too.

It’s magical how that happens, connection. Between the ones you already loved or between the ones you just met and somehow already love too.

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It felt filling, being with them. Like a really, really good quality meal. And I would know something about that because Nashville is apparently the food capital of the world, as far as I am concerned right now. Honestly after all the places Alece and Tracee introduced us to this weekend, I am baffled at why the show “Nashville” is an ABC show about music and not a Food Network show about the best chefs in the industry.

Or maybe it should be a show on the… Photography channel? Maybe that’s a thing? Because, wow, the light and the architecture and the character of this place, it was made for photographing.

Case in point:

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And now I am writing this on a plane back to my own home, with its comfy couch and happy little dog and the boy who sings loudly and the beautiful wood floors that I still can’t believe are mine, and all the ingredients nearby to try my best to re-create that barbecue sauce I had on a brisket taco that I am sure I will obsess over until I either get it right or get back to Nashville for the next Local Taco hit. Or that pork from Husk, oh man, that pork, with the insane mix that included mustard, lime, and onion, among, it seemed like, a hundred other flavors.

(Did I mention Nashville’s food scene is incredible?)

I am flying home full.

And also kind of hungry after writing about all of that, and I didn’t even get in to the handcrafted cocktails or the short ribs or the croissant French toast and oh my goodness I did not stay long enough, did I?

But home is pretty filling too.

(Especially if I can figure out how to recreate that barbecue sauce.)

Tonight I am thankful for both places.

Blur

I don’t know if you know this, but most of Texas is boring.

I can tell you this with certainty, because I am spending all day driving through it on my way home.

Well, I’m riding. Jack is driving and I’m writing this. Otherwise this would be an extremely dangerous post.

If I look to my right, it’s a blur of fence and grass and road. And flatness. Because, Texas.

It’s reminding me of the last few weeks.

I have been home 6 days out of the last 35.

It’s been Colorado to visit, then to worry about wildfires, then to see what was going on with my brother, then because my brother ended up with cancer, then oh yeah, Little Rock for Worlds where Jack won World Champion in two categories, then back to Colorado because my brother developed a life-threatening infection.

Blur.

I’m starting to get a little car sick from all of it.

But just like all the clouds and open spaces and hills and trees, there are beautiful things about this blur too, and most of those beautiful things have to do with my family.

Sitting with my sister-in-law in the evenings, quietly reading or working on the computer or cooking.

My nephew, with his disgusting open-mouth kisses and his stealing my water cup always and his giggling when I make his name into a song and his saying my name. I mean, he points at me and says something with two syllables, so I’m counting it.

Shane, in his ICU room, turning Jack’s World Champ medals over in his hands, carefully examining them, covered in tubes and gauze and IVs and pain, but smiling because he’s really proud of his brother-in-law.

And a few days later, watching a huge smile spread across his face again when the best nurse ever brought his ice chips.

Leaving this blur is hard, especially with Shane still in the hospital, but it was time. For them and us both, it was time.

So now we’re almost home and we have much to be thankful for. Shane was just moved out of ICU into a regular room. The oncologist said the chemo is actually working, and as soon as he heals enough from his surgery he’ll be back at it. He made fun of me for my inability to properly open a Popsicle wrapper and told me to stay until New Year’s Eve. My brother is still my brother.

Like I said, much to be thankful for.

Even if it’s blurry right now.

In which somebody doesn’t get me

Traveling with Jack is… how shall I put this… a roller coaster of crazy.

This morning, we left for the airport about 15 minutes after he had wanted to leave, which incidentally was the exact time I had originally wanted to leave. If Jack had his way, we would be at THE GATE exactly 2 hours before BOARDING TIME, because like I said, roller coaster. Crazy.

(No, I did not sabotage the schedule.)

(Shut up, I didn’t.)

There are a couple of stages to traveling with Jack, especially if it’s a morning flight. First, there is exuberance upon waking. Because in Hornbuckle’s world, IT IS A BRAND NEW DAY TRALALALALA! Remember the “Morning’s here” guy on that one episode of Friends? Yeah, I married him.

This is the day that The Lord has made and HE WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT AT ME.

Then, like a tornado suddenly changes direction and rips the roof of your house right off, Jack realizes that WE HAVE 10 MINUTES UNTIL WE HAVE TO LEAVE AND OMG WE ARE GOING TO MISS OUR PLANE AND ALSO PROBABLY DIE.

This leads to the “driving like a bat out of hell” stage, which is both uncharacteristic and terrifying of Jack. Also included in this stage is “REALLY”s and “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME”s every time traffic slows down a little bit, or if he happens to see, like, any other cars on the road at any time.

Once we reach the airport and he realizes that we aren’t going to miss our plane (and subsequently DIE) after all, the “Morning’s here” guy is back with a vengeance.

“Cheetles! We’re going to Florida!”

“Cheetles! I want Starbucks!”

“Cheetles! Did you see the pictures of our hotel?”

CHEETLES! CHEETLES! CHEETLES!

This morning on the shuttle from our parking space to the airport, as Jack was bouncing off the walls and asking why I wasn’t responding (CHEETLES!), I showed him the clock on my phone.

“It is still. Before. 8.”

(In case you were wondering, that explanation does not shut him up.)

The airport itself brings out the “grumpy old man who hates people” stage in Jack. Which is funny, because Jack usually looooooves people and I’m the grumpy old man in the relationship.

The TSA agent is too rude.

The Starbucks barista is too loud.

The people waiting for their coffee are pushing in front of us even though we ordered first.

The guy over there is standing right in front of the TV and nobody else can see it now.

Fortunately, this leads to the making sarcastic comments stage, which is where Jack and I come back together as one and I remember why I fell in love with him.

Nothing will bring you together as a couple faster than making fun of others.

So as we were finally boarding the plane, we saw that the door on the other side of the entrance was also open, I guess so they could load food things on as people boarded.

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The lady in front of us looked behind her and made a comment about how that was unusual, and I jokingly replied that I guess that we’re supposed to just go all the way through and get on the little Sky Chefs trailer.

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I was still laughing at my little joke when I saw the lady ACTUALLY START WALKING ALL THE WAY THROUGH to the trailer. She got almost inside before the flight attendant stopped her and pointed her in the right direction, which was, you know, toward the actual plane.

Jack and I looked at each other wide-eyed, stifling a laugh.

“Way to go, Mandy,” he teased. “You almost put her on the food trailer.”

“I thought she knew I was kidding!”

Apparently she didn’t.

Maybe I should save my sarcasm for outside the secure areas.

Things discussed on a Crawford family vacation

How far Cassandra could throw the baby

Who is the smartest spouse in each couple

How much force it would take to break off someone else’s finger

Who, of the other six, we would kill if we had to choose

Politics

The fact that we shouldn’t discuss politics

Whether Easy Cheese is real food (It is NOT.)

Whether Easy Cheese is delicious (It is only kind of)

When Jack and Mandy are finally going to have a baby too (Answers: “when we decide between a baby or another karate school,” “when we are ready,” “never,” “why do that when we can take this one,” and “none of your damn business.”)

(The last one is definitely the most applicable no matter who is asking.)

How much Shane and Cassandra would sell us their baby for

(Turns out we can’t afford that one.)

Some wisdom from the weekend

  • The best things in life may be free, but the free Kindle books in life definitely the worst.
  • If the lady with whom you have a makeup appointment looks like a circus clown, she will probably make you look like a circus clown too.
  • If not a circus clown, definitely like somebody who has been punched in the face.
  • When it comes to real food, what looks healthy may not be healthy. What seems unhealthy may actually be healthy. Ingredient lists, ingredient lists, ingredient lists!
  • Never book flights with stops. Nonstop American Airlines flights only. Otherwise you will get stranded in Indiana overnight when your first flight is delayed thereby making you miss your connection. (But at least you’ll get to see your buddy that way!)
  • If you can’t find a knife, you can use a hammerfist.
  • Sometimes letting a four-year-old unroll an entire roll of paper towels, one square at a time, to “clean” the floor (and also her knee for some reason), is totally worth the 99 cents and the wastefulness.
  • You can still lock yourself in a bathroom, even if there are no doorknobs on the door.
  • When you find yourself locked in your friends’ bathroom in the middle of the night, on the complete opposite side of the house from where they are asleep, you will realize that you wish you had brought your phone with you into the bathroom.
  • To recap: take your phone with you into the bathroom.

You can’t Photoshop moments like this

Everyone does it, I think. Especially us women-folk.

The first reaction to a photo that you’re in.

My hair is weird. I look so tired. My butt looks huge. My face is all broken out.


I have been going through Ellyn’s wedding pictures because Amie (who I might link to if she ever bothered blogging) left me copies of them before we parted. (She did a beautiful job, by the way). 

 I asked Amie to send a picture that I knew Ron took of me, CandyEllyn, and Amie (who I might link to if she ever bothered blogging). After Sara died, the four of us and Alece started a GroupMe group so chat so as to stop Twitter-bombing everyone’s feeds. We are basically in constant communication, texting throughout the day and night with probably the most random and ridiculous assortment of conversations you could possibly imagine.


These are some of my very favorite people. And they all live so far away.


So although Alece and Sara couldn’t be there, this is the closest to “the whole group” we had ever had in one place.I don’t remember many other times where I felt as giddy, as happy, as fulfilled, as right, as when all four of us were in the same room together. So when Amie sent the photo this morning, I got all the warm fuzzies I had when it was taken.

Three of my favorite people in the world. And I actually got to be in the same room with them for a little while.



Of course, as soon as Amie posted it, Candy said “Man, I look well traveled.” And then Amie said “I look squished. I should have turned.” I immediately told them to shut up and then posted a passive-aggressive tweet about them, because that’s how I roll.


(Side note: as I was writing this very blog post, Ellyn complained about herself in another photo. I swear, these people.)


But honestly, I get it. The first thing I looked for in the photos of me was the infamous arm/boob fat that comes along with strapless dresses.

I’m not going to lie, I will probably Photoshop my arm a little bit at some point.



(Now that your wedding is over, Ellyn, I can tell you that I hate wearing strapless dresses, which is a testament to how much I love you to have worn that bridesmaid dress.)


I have spent the last 10 months, and will probably spend the rest of my life, kicking myself for not having jumped in the car and driven 12 hours to Iowa, even if I had to do it alone instead of with the two sickies.If I had a picture of myself sitting next to Sara on her bed instead of next to her on a Skype screen? I don’t care how crappy I looked; I would cherish it. 


The fact that I have a photo of three of my favorite people in the same room is important to me. Of COURSE I can find my flaws in every one of these photos, but the moment wins over the flaws.



After all, you can Photoshop your flaws out, but you certainly can’t Photoshop the moments in.

If mentioning tortilla presses makes good blog posts, this one is great.

It seems that living life has been getting in the way of documenting it, though I can’t quite pinpoint what to document at the moment. I mean, we’ve been traveling every single weekend forever and ever amen, but who doesn’t do that?

(To recap, January was Colorado, February was Houston, March was Vegas, April was Colorado again and College Station, May was San Antonio, June was Colorado AGAIN and Little Rock, July (tomorrow!) is Indiana, August is San Fransisco, and October is Orlando.)

(I am SO NOT complaining about that. I love traveling, and could not be more glad to be fully taking advantage of this time in our lives in which freedom exceeds responsibility (see also: CHILDLESS!) It’s just, that’s what going on with us right now.)

A few weekends ago, in yet another hotel, Jack looked at me and mused “I wonder what our house is like on Saturdays.”

Fortunately, most of these trips are so much fun, and though most are taekwondo (read: work!) related, it’s still really nice for Jack and I to get away together. We tend not to have any “normal” time together anymore. He is always working, whether from home or work, and if he’s working, I’m probably working too.

So I’ve probably missed documenting little things, or maybe little things haven’t been happening because we’re not together all the time. As always, an efficient means of catching up on all the inane things I usually blog about is, you guessed it – bullet point post!

  • I’d like to start this bullet-point post by saying that the new Train CD is fantastic. You should probably buy it immediately.

  • And while you’re buying things immediately, also buy this, this, and this
  • Jack won second in the world in weapons last weekend at World Championships (he actually tied for first and lost the tie-breaker), and then at the new season’s competition he won second in forms, second in forms, and third in combat weapons sparring. 
  • You know, the usual, right? Everybody’s husband is a big winner, right? Right? (Well, mine is.)
  • In case you’re not familiar with combat weapons sparring, picture, if you will, two competitors holding big padded sticks, and then using said sticks to BEAT THE EVER LIVING CRAP OUT OF EACH OTHER.
  • Jack finds it really, really fun. As evidenced by the fact that he is usually smiling during the entire match.
  • Fun fact: in that video I just linked to after randomly searching for a combat weapons competition on YouTube, one of the judges is one of Jack’s best friends. We call our guest room “TJ’s room,” because he stays with us every time he comes into town, and also he never, ever throws up, no matter how much he drinks, which means that he and I get along very, very well.
  • I stumbled upon this blog about real food, and that plus my friend Candy convinced me to try it. Real food. No preservatives. No boxed stuff. Basically everything from scratch. It sounds like a lot of work, and I guess on some level it is, but I feel like the benefits outweigh the work. Plus if you plan ahead it really isn’t different than normal cooking. And fresh food? Um, lots better. I made homemade whole wheat hamburger buns and tortillas, plus granola and all kinds of other good stuff this week. There’s nothing like fresh-from-the-oven bread. 
  • I also got a tortilla press! Haven’t tried it yet but I am very, very excited.
  • It’s the small things. (See also, my life is kind of small.)
  • Jack, upon hearing the news that I would be cutting out processed foods/white flour/refined sugar from my cooking (for the most part – I’m still having some trouble getting rid of all refined sugar in sweet baking), was VERY UNHAPPY.
  • Jack, upon eating this week’s meals, was VERY HAPPY. Or at least, very happy in relation to how much he thought he was going to hate it.
  • I lost a grey striped tank top, a turquoise cardi, some black shorts, and a pair of blue underpants. That’s nearly a whole outfit! I mean, sheesh. 
  • If you see them, please text me.
  • How do I lose clothes so often? I am not nearly slutty enough to lose this many articles of clothing this often.
  • We are FINALLY getting landscaping! The landscaper already drew a pretty pretty picture of everything they’re going to plant and I am SO DARN EXCITED that we will no longer be the white-trash house in the neighborhood. They’ll put it in in the next week or two.
  • Sadly, no sunflowers in the plans. But I suppose that’s okay. I do get hydrangeas and roses and crepe myrtles and all kinds of other pretty stuff.
  • They did already put in a sprinkler system though! Maybe I’ll kill less plants now. Fingers crossed.
  • I’m leaving for the airport in less than 14 hours and still haven’t finished my laundry or started packing. So, I guess I should do that. I also still have to hem my bridesmaid dress tonight. Yeah. Haven’t done that quite yet. 
  • Don’t tell Ellyn.