The Story of Us: Mimes and Maker’s Mark

The first time I ever saw Clark, he was on TV. Unfortunately, he wasn’t posing as a body double for a Phoenix cologne commercial {although you could, Sweetheart… you absolutely could}. He was rocking a Muse tune for about 400 middle schoolers and I was watching him  from a backstage monitor. The stage was on fire. Not literally {although one time we were on a stage that did catch fire. Another story for another day perhaps.} What I mean is that his stage persona was nothing short of magnetic. However, I was only slightly distracted by the Ode to the Troll that had taken up residence on top of his head. When I tell you that his hair stood 5-6 inches on end, I am not exaggerating. Although it was sort of Vanilla Ice meets the Bride of Frankenstein, it just… worked on him, and on me apparently because I instantly began asking around about the guitar player with the Fur-ocious hair. I learned that his name was Clark Beasley. He lived in Nashville. He played for rock bands and country bands. He drove a gutted Dodge minivan {which obviously meant he must be good with children….helloooo?} The reality was that he filled that buggy to the ceiling with enough guitar amps and pedalboards to keep a small pawn shop in business. Most importantly, he was single. Woot. Woot.

I soon learned that he was staying with my girlfriend and her husband in their basement when he was in town on business. Their home had turned into some sort of suburban hostel for starving artists. It was not unusual for them to host four or five musicians at one time, which was especially convenient for a girl who took a particular liking to guitar players with high maintenance hair dos. One day the innkeeper for the Travelling Troubadour Bed and Breakfast called me on the phone and said…

“I have your husband living in my basement”.

“Huh?”

She proceeded to tell me that once we actually met and started dating, she gave it five months tops before we were engaged. She was so sure, in fact, that she began sketching designs for my bridal gown and commissioning her mother to hand-sew my wedding veil. I asked her if she saw any winning numbers in that crystal ball of hers, but all she saw was basque waist and ivory tulle. I hadn’t had a date since the Marine reached over and cut my meat, so needless to say, I was more than willing to check out what had suddenly turned my friend into a modern day prophetess.

Our initial interaction was fairly limited. Clark and I saw each other at shows or out with big groups of friends….most of which had way cooler hair and took way more fashion risks {and got away with them} than myself. It did not take long for me to notice that Clark Beasley wasn’t your average guitar player. I’m not just referring to the hush that would fall over a room full of musicians whenever his name would come up. One time I actually heard one of his bandmates {who was a guy} say, “Gosh, I’d marry him if he asked me.” Clark has always been respected for his talent and I admit, I do love that. But as capable as he was, there was something genuine in his eyes and brilliantly understated about the way he carried himself. He wasn’t like every other guy I knew who advertised every song they wrote or gig they landed. Dude, we don’t care about your latest endorsement with Proactiv. Let’s face it. You wash your shot glass collection more than you wash your face, so who are we kidding, really? All I knew was that I wanted Clark Beasley to take me out on a date. So before I considered having an airplane tow an “Ask Me Out and I Will Say Yes” banner or risk him getting any further marriage proposal from his bandmates, I dropped a subtle hint to my innkeeper friend.

Five months later…

I was still entertaining the Commitment-Phobe World Traveler with late night Vinho do Porto and Damien Rice O singles, but that was fast approaching its expiration date. I had not entirely ruled out the aerial advertisement option to landing a date with Clark Beasley, but after five months, a girl can start to wonder. And then, the Bermuda triangle. In one week’s time, I lost my cubicle job {we can all just give a big round of “Hallelujah” for that life promotion}, booked a trip to South America, and came down with the  worst head cold and subsequent laryngitis in the history of the world. One night, I’m lying in bed sipping on hot tea spiked with way more bourbon than a newly laid off church worker should morally consume. And then the phone rings. It is Clark Beasley. I am screaming a completely inaudible “No! No! Not now!!!” at the glowing Nashville area code wanting desperately to answer the call, but not quite sure which of my conditions would be harder to explain– my new tele-mime routine or my Maker’s Mark moment. A few days later, I was still a candidate for bourbon therapy, but I was just conversational enough to accept this long-awaited date with Clark Beasley. I warned him that my sniffle may slightly interfere with my usual charm, but he said he would take his chances.

On March 22, 2005, Clark Beasley showed up at my apartment, not a strand of Troll doll hair out of place, wearing a collared shirt {which is a huge deal for a musician}, carrying two cans of Campbell’s chicken soup.

And that’s where it all began.

The Story of Us: Marrying Age

What is “marrying age” exactly? Is it simply the age at which you can legally perform your nuptials this side of the border, or is it the heel-of-the-hand-to-the-center-region-of-the-forehead moment when a girl realizes that she doesn’t need any more “friends”, particularly those of the male persuasion? However you define it, I am quite certain I had reached that age judging by the fact that I had sworn off going to any more weddings until I had a warm-bodied date by my side, and I occasionally slipped the latest issue of Bride Magazine into my shopping cart at the Target check-out line when no one was looking.

I met Clark when I was 25. By that time, I had three and a half serious relationships on my dating record. {The half was a commitment-phobe who was holding out for, and I believe may still be holding last I heard, for a Hawaiian Tropics model with a mission to promote world peace, so we don’t actually count him}. The first was a sweet country boy who wore cowboy boots and wide-rimmed hats, and listened to nothing but Tim McGraw and Bone Thugs N Harmony . Nothing screams “You’ve Got Game” quite like Bizzy Bone. I was 15, and he was in college. He had a driver’s license and a real job at a convenience store. He was the kind of guy who was just sweet enough to sit through the Titanic with me four times and take my little sister out for milkshakes to show her how a true gentleman should treat a lady. He gave me my very first kiss in the back of his Chevy pick-up, and I’m quite sure he didn’t tell my little sister about that particular “gentlemanly” gesture. It was the sort of teenage romance that makes for a good country song. Every time I hear “Strawberry Wine” I think of parking just over the fence of the airport runway and watching the planes take off overhead from the bed of his truck. That was before parking just over the fence of the airport runway wasn’t a sure-fire way to get yourself shot on sight. Ah… the pre-threat level orange days.

And then, I went to college. Not only did I gain the traditional Freshman 15 {which I promptly lost thanks to Robert Atkins before they discovered that his diet would turn your kidneys to hockey pucks}, but I also gained a new and more “sophisticated” lease on life. In this melting pot of cultures and interests {of which I took particular interest in boys with surfboards and acoustic guitars}, the world was at my fingertips. Once I traded my American Eagle cardigans for Rainbow sandals and threadbare T’s, it was the beginning of the end for Bizzy Bone. By my sophomore year, he had waited his last day for me to turn in my new DMB collection for a full refund and ride off with him into the sunset. But it was too late. We drifted apart… him toward the altar with one of my hometown friends and me, well… I just drifted…

…into my first band.

He was a guitar player with shaggy curls and I was a background singer with wicked stage fright. Our love debut was a Battle of the Bands contest where the lead singer thought it would be a sure win if we all wore head bandanas and matching T-shirts that said “Make Seven Up Yours” for the big show. That should have been my first clue, but I was just smitten enough to think that was a splendid idea. He was a philosophy major who read Kierkegaard and quoted Nietzsche. He spoke Hebrew and together we were going to join the peace corp in Nepal where we would live on bhat and tarkari in the back of his Sahara Jeep Wrangler. It was a brilliant plan, that is, until he philosophized his way in and out and in and out….. and then in…. and then out again of our Bohemian fantasy leaving me a wilted flower child with nothing but a few coasters he spun for me in Intro to Pottery and a Rusted Root album to numb the pain. Although we can all agree that beatnik isn’t my best look, you never forget your first heartbreak.

It was years later when I met The Marine. He was an ex-marine, but nevertheless, he completely looked the part. Without so much as a wrinkle in his perfectly pleated khakis, The Marine had a high-paying job, a company car, a mortgage, and an 11-year head start on life. As for me, I had just landed my first cubicle job and had barely dipped my toe in the Real World. Everything I owned fit in the back of my Chevrolet Monte Carlo. It seemed like only yesterday I was skipping my Senior baccalaureate to go see Ja Rule in concert, and suddenly I found myself on a steady diet of chiaroscuro where the conversation seldom strayed from the topics of home equity loans, Caribbean cruises, and 401k packages. I was bored out of my mind, but that was until we had been dating all of 3 weeks and The Marine announced that the only logical conclusion was for us to start considering engagement. I began to suspect that this wasn’t “The One” when during one of our usual Brazilian feasts, The Marine reached over the table and began to cut my meat. He cut. my. meat. I headed for the exit shortly after he showed me his collection of blazing white bath towels with all of the Polo horse ponies facing up and to the left next to his clothes closet where every hanger was spaced exactly two-finger widths apart. I had seen Sleeping with the Enemy one too many times to know that my future with Semper Fi would have me running for my life in a Carol Channing wig on a bus with a one-way ticket to nowhere. I spooked and blamed it on Daddy issues, and thankfully, that was the end of The Marine.

Needless to say, by the time I was of “marrying age”, I began to wonder if I was even capable of recognizing “The One” if and when he ever did cross my path. He eventually did, but I was among the last to realize it when it happened.

To be continued…

Mothers Speak: Dry Pants Dance

I have to admit, when my mother sent me the book, Toilet Training in Less Than A Day, by Nathan H. Azrin and Richard M. Foxx, I promptly put it in the “things-to-be-sure-to-pull-out-and-leave-lying-around-when-mom-comes-to-visit” bin.

Until last Sunday.

For nearly four days, Salem {and Mia} and I had our mail forwarded to the bathroom where we sat waiting…. waiting….. waiting for that magic moment that would never come unless I promised to buy them each a pony. I was desperate…. desperate enough to humor my mother and read the bathroom heresy book cover to cover in…. ironically enough…. less than a day. Three-quarters of the way through, I started to believe that this might actually work. That’s the funny thing about books like Toilet Training in Less than a Day, Three Minute Abs, and The One Minute Millionaire… One moment you’re a critic and the next you’re a disciple… sort of like what happens after a good Amway presentation. So, bathroom heresy turned potty gospel claims that one of the most effective ways to encourage your child to do his business within the proper purlieu is to create a “Friends Who Care” list. Now, this list includes anyone {real or fictional} that the child looks up to and respects that not only puts their pee pee and poo poo in the potty, but who would also be proud of his or her bathroom accomplishments. Our “Friends Who Care” list included but was not limited to:

Mommy
Daddy
Mimi
Papaw
Nona
Grandpa
Harry Potter
David Gray
Eric Clapton
Dave Matthews
Jeff Beck

By day two, our list had grown to include Phil Collins, Jesus Christ, Buddy the Elf, and the arctic penguins of Disney’s Earth. I figured we could sort out the different bathroom habits of animals, humans, and elves later, but for now, I was happy to expand our fan club to include anything or anyone that inhaled oxygen if it meant that my son would be inspired to toilet himself.

I wouldn’t dare spoil the book as it is soon bound to become a nail biting mini-series, but the one-day training method also restricts the commode-courting duo {in this case, Salem and I} to one room in the house for the duration of the training. The book strongly recommends conducting Bowel Boot Camp in the kitchen to better contain any accidents and spills. I’ll admit this is particularly disgusting, however, if the two of us were held prisoner for two days in our hobbit-sized bathroom, I am quite certain one of us wouldn’t have made it out before severe psychosis had turned our brains to pâté. Oh, and did I mention, this method involves no television or entertaining distraction such as books, siblings, or anything that has buttons and lights up which for a pre-schooler is an unusual form of medieval torture. For a mom, it is confirmation that Dr. Foxx and Dr. Azrin are, in fact, Al Qaida terrorists. So, by the end of day one we had learned the the oven door opens with a creak in B flat, there are approximately 32 linoleum tiles between the fridge and the kitchen sink, the faucet drips every 2.4 minutes and most importantly…

The book lied.

Now I have great kids. Exceptional, in my mothering opinion. But even my little angel was so over the whole accident routine which involves not one, but TEN practice runs to the potty seat from various points in the house lifting and lowering Thomas the Tank Engine underpants reciting “pee pee in the potty“. During one of our rehearsals, wet Thomas underpants went hurling across the kitchen at Mommy which under normal circumstances would have resulted in immediate disciplinary action, but these were far from ordinary circumstances. This was hell.

At one point, I glanced at my university degree hanging in the hallway next to a framed picture of Clark and I with President Bush. That was the moment I became painfully aware that raising children, while it is one of life’s great joys, is in fact one of Life’s Great Equalizers. No amount of education, world travel, or rubbing shoulders with the most powerful man on planet Earth was ever going to get my son to keep his pants dry. And so, there I am, a college grad, on day TWO/hour six of doing the “dry pants dance” {which sort of looks like wacky jacks only you spin in circles and say “dry pants dance” over and over until you lose all dignity and self-respect}. Upon completing this life lesson, I promptly put the kids to bed and proceeded to drink more margaritas than what is legally allowed in six states. Before you start to worry, I was amongst friends and Spouse. Friends don’t let friends drink post-potty training margaritas alone.

And so, I am reporting to you live from the fish mat.

The fish mat: one obnoxiously bright vinyl sheet covered in neon angler fish that harkens back to the days of Spring Break in Panama City Beach. It no doubt originated from the same highbrow establishment that specializes in air-brushed T-shirts and bedazzled navel rings, but it is waterproof. So far it has served nicely as a duvet, a futon cover, a floor rug, and most importantly, a barrier between Salem’s training accidents and every fabric surface in the Beasley household. I am considering having it matted and framed when this ordeal is all over.

The good news is that diapers are history. That’s one down and one to go. It didn’t take a day like the book claimed, but my little champ is well on his way to becoming a potty pro sans a few oops… {three and counting since the inception of this blog post.}

Now Mommy, stop blogging and do the “Dry Pants Dance”!!!!

The Story of Us: My Former Life

Well, date night was a smash hit. Nothing screams “romance” like sipping on a Cherry Coke Zero while watching Tom Cruise blow up the Krenlin. Some girls dig flowers and chocolate. I’m generally satisfied with saccharine and explosives.

I picked up the February 2012 issue of Glamour magazine over my morning coffee today. I can assure you, I skipped over the dish about Katy Perry’s marriage woes and What Your Doctor Won’t Say to Your Face to read an article by actress and comedian, Ali Wentworth. Here, Wentworth provides hilarious details about her premarital dating habits which led to her finding the love of her life, White House advisor, George Stephanopoulos. Even before the caffeine had worked its charm, I was growing more sentimental by the minute as I began to reminisce over how I met my sweetheart. Once I reached the bottom of my coffee mug, it occurred to me that I have never shared this story with you, my lovely readers. Now, I can’t guarantee that our love story would ever merit sharing the same binding with the reasons why Kim Kardashian eats her ice cream cones at noon and not late at night. However, I can promise you that your fingers won’t smell of potent perfume sample inserts by the time you are finished reading, nor will you be tempted to clutter your mind with thoughts of the Dad ‘stache {circa 1972} threatening to come back in style. {I have already wasted .2% of my waking hours today picturing Clark with a Burt Reynold’s ‘stache, and my only regret is that I will never get those 26 seconds of my life back. EVER!}

I believe I will enjoy re-opening this particular window into my former life. It was only seven years ago that I met Clark Beasley, but you’d be hard-pressed to find me nowadays dancing on a stage with Family Force Five in a pair of kitty-trampling high heels. {It happened only once, and I can assure you there was no alcohol involved}. But, I’m a mom now, and well, moms don’t exactly “Shake it like an earthquake” in public. But I was young {-er} and I ran with bands and I danced on stage speakers {fully clothed} with musicians that spent more time and money on hair products than our current monthly diaper budget. Ah…. those were the days.

And that is where our story begins….

 

Beat the “Blah’s”

Image

Image via Modern Hepburn

Tonight is date night and I’m sitting here in an oversized hooded sweatshirt with braided wet hair, and coffee breath covered in {you guessed it} receipts and bank statements… hardly a fantasy image that would get me asked out twice, I’d say. I went snooping for some “just add charm” inspiration that might dazzle me up a bit before my big night. Well, take it from me… if you’re battling the “blah’s” today, look no further than Modern Hepburn. These snapshots of everyday people and atmospheres are truly stunning, and I’m convinced Modern Hepburn could make me look wistful and romantic even in my day-old-T and mismatched socks. Now perhaps that might be reaching just a tad bit, but it’s enough to get me out of my shredded seven jeans and into a pair of red heels.

Wish me luck!

Money on my Mind

image via Color Bee

Yesterday was Money Monday in the Beasley house– an entire afternoon designated to tracking expenses and making sure everyone we don’t want to hear from for at least 30 more days gets paid. Seeing as I haven’t balanced the checkbook since the Earth’s most recent turn about the Sun {gasp!}, Money Monday has turned in to Money “Month”! It will no doubt take me days to emerge from underneath the piles of invoices and receipts that our family has accumulated over the last several weeks. Ugh. Today, I’d rather be rich, but like Truvy Jones, “I pick up everything but boys and money.”

Here’s wishing you a healthy {and wealthy} week ahead!

For His Eyes Only

I took my new book down to Dean & Deluca’s this morning for a cup of coffee and a blueberry bagel. In Spoken from the Heart, Laura Bush includes this photo of her mother, taken for her father, who carried it with him across Europe while he fought World War II. Comme c’est romantique! (Sigh)

There is a very special birthday coming up next month in our house. The Head Beasley is turning another year older, and while he would be perfectly satisfied with a greasy Mexican meal and a Guitar Center shopping spree, I am tempted to throw a few boudoir photos into the birthday mix. Now ladies, help me think through this rationally. This can be done well and in good taste, or could be a blog-worthy train wreck that would make for a hilarious account of how I subjected myself to being photographed by a complete stranger in my underwear. For those of you that have done it, please tell me you stopped blushing long enough to pose for a few decent shots. For those of you that have thought about having it done, but lack the guts, you are in good company. I may just build up enough courage to have some boudoir pictures taken, but rest assured, any post-shoot blog posting will be done sans photos. These are for his eyes only, folks. Which brings me to a very crucial consideration in all of this. Where on Earth would one hide such photos so to ensure they would stay FOR HIS EYES ONLY? With my luck, we will one day host a missionary couple in our home who will accidentally stumble upon them while innocently fishing for a copy of the New Testament in a nightstand drawer or something. Now, I’m all for being hospitable, but that’s not quite what I have in mind.

At this present moment, I can either be talked in or out of this decision, so ladies. Fire away! “Yay” or “Nay” to the Boudoir Birthday?!

 

Nutell-uva Good Cupcakes

It’s been a refreshingly off-beat sort of day. First, I went fishing for Laura Bush’s book at our local used book shop. No luck. So instead, I raided the next door market for some nutella cupcake ingredients along with some essentials to make a simple French picnic. I then proceeded to have the most delectable afternoon with my kiddos and my bestie. {Oh and our little piquenique may or may not have included some Biltmore Chardonnay depending on who is reading this.} While our cupcakes cooled, we ate our baguette with Brie but not before we had a total blonde moment. We unwrapped the cheese only to discover is was blue and covered in mold. This immediately beckoned my inner-food critic to respond, “Um. That’s disgusting. We paid good money for this. We should return it and get a refund.” I was feeling rather fiscally responsible and even a tad heroic as I pictured myself notifying the unsuspecting manager at Harris Teeter about their “serious mold problem in the fine cheese aisle” when my friend discovered that the wrapper said, “Blue Brie Cheese with cultures of mold.” Whew! Just barely dodged that “you-can’t-fix-stupid” bullet.

As promised, here is the recipe for nutella cupcakes. And folks, I’m not kidding. ‘Twas a magical moment when I sampled one of these babies. Oh, and while we all know I’m no photographer, I had the camera poised and ready to capture the magic when my little one literally grabbed a handful of cupcake and smeared nutella buttercream all over herself, the couch, her brother. Irresistible sweets at curious toddlers eye-level…. apparently I didn’t quite dodge that “you-can’t-fix-stupid” bullet.

Nutell-uva Good Cupcakes {Adapted from Java Cupcake}

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup Nutella
2 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, cocoa, baking soda and powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, mix together butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy. Add the Nutella then the buttermilk, mixing until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl several times.
  4. Add the flour mixture in thirds alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the flour and mix only until combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Fill cupcakes liners 1/2 full with batter. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpic comes out clean.
  6. Let cupcakes sit in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutella Buttercream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup Nutella
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream

  1. Cream butter and Nutella together. Add the vanilla extract and combine.
  2. Mix in the powdered sugar, adding the cream as necessary until you get your desired consistency.
  3. Mix until you have the texture you desire and refrigerate before frosting

Eat it and weep!

Nutella Cupcakes

image via Adventures with Marzipan

I went to a party last night only to stumble on these delectable treats on my way out the door. I must have looked like Augustus Gloop at the Wonka chocolate trough stuffing my mouth with nutella cupcakes as I was leaving, but I didn’t make it to the end of the block without declaring, “Clark, this is the best cupcake I have ever eaten!” So today, I have determined to make a batch myself.

What’s the occasion? Day 2 of Operation: Potty Training. Already, we’ve had two #2’s and two incentive treats awarded. But here’s the kicker. Mia is my potty star! She is rocking this toilet training thing and looking at her big brother like wearing diapers is soooo 2011. That’s my girl!

Wish me luck on my Nutella treats. If they are any good, I will post the recipe!

Potty Party

As I was removing the potty training seat from the toilet again this afternoon, I thought to myself, when these babies finally get the knack of this pee pee on the potty thing, we are going to have a Potty Party.

And lo and behold…. check this out!

Perhaps I need to leave the house more often, but I was ecstatic when I saw these potty party hats! Oh the Beasleys are so throwing a Potty Party when this show goes down and you’re invited.

Check out Get Creative Juice’s Etsy shop for more potty training fun…. like these printable prize tags for the potty trainee.

As if saving $100+ a month isn’t enough of an incentive, now I get to throw a rad party when these little bums are out of diapers?!

Bring on the Potty Party!

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