Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bedlam in Bethlehem: Our Perfect Family Christmas

We did it, y'all. We successfully had Christmas with no one in the hospital. You may remember that last year, we had to abandon all our usual Christmas traditions because Charlie was very sick in ICU. 

And, wouldn't you know that little nerd tried to pull that crap again. 

In the words of the great Ham Porter in the cinematic masterpiece The Sandlot, "You're killin' me, Smalls!"

The night before Melissa, Pete, Charlie, and my canine niece Belby were supposed to drive to NC, Charlie had a fever of 104.6 and had to go to the ER. It was all a little too familiar. Fortunately, he did not have to be admitted. He was contagious but could travel. So we loaded up on antibacterial hand soap and anxiously awaited his arrival. I wasn't going to miss Christmas this year, even if it meant we all got the plague. 

Plus, I figured, I had two weeks off and would be at home. What better time or place to get the plague? 

But it never came to that. By the time Charlie arrived, his fever was almost completely gone and we were ready to get the Christmas festivities in full swing. 
As promised in my last post, here is the family Christmas card. It was too much to ask to have the baby and the puppy looking at the camera. Maybe next year. We're also photoshopped into someone else's house. Tricks of the trade.

Remember when I said I had two weeks off? Two weeks, you guys. I've never taken that much time off work. Ever. To a rule-follower like me, it feels a little illegal. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Babies, Puppies, Turkeys and Photos.

Since it's now mid-December, I figure it's the appropriate time to go back and talk about Thanksgiving. 


I'm late, but it has just taken me this long to really reflect on all the things for which I am thankful, you guys. I'm sorry I mull over holidays longer than you. You should see how long it takes me to finish my rumination surrounding Flag Day. And don't even get me started on Arbor Day. It should just be called Arbor Month, am I right?
15-month-old Charlie meets 10-week-old Grady.

In truth, I do have an unbelievable amount to be thankful for and was most grateful to get to spend Thanksgiving with my family. It was a jam-packed weekend of laughing, telling the puppy to stop putting things in his mouth, eating pie, telling the baby to stop putting things in his mouth, and watching football. 

Since you already know all about my date with country star Brett Eldredge, I'll skip over that portion of Thanksgiving weekend. But, if you ever want to talk about Brett Eldredge, I'm sure Anna would be more than happy to retell the evening again...that is unless she is off laying smooth game to another country star somewhere in the streets of DC. 

Rather than recap the entire weekend with a verbose account, I thought I'd just share some pictures and a few things for which I am thankful. As you may remember, I shared a similar list last year. 

Well, that post got hacked. 

At least, I think it did. It's telling me that over 1,000 people read it (around three times my normal readership) and I had to censor no less than two dozen comments along the lines of, "Your blog good for me business. I like your point and would welcome chance to be apprentice. Learn from you good writing me nice."

I mean, I've always wanted my own apprentice but how will I ever pick through all 24+ of those "big fans because you write interesting point on important topics." Yes, I do think beer-scented candles and baby toupees are important and I'm glad you agree. 

Nonetheless, I'm going to run the risk of being hacked again...here's my list.

  • Food on the table and good company. Especially when that good company is my mom and she brings five pies for ten people.
  • Babies and puppies. Both are incredibly adorable, scared of loud noises, eat things off the floor, squirm like crazy when you try to hold them, and want nothing more than to pull other dogs' tails.
  • The Carolina Panthers and watching with other fans who make me feel like I'm close to home. And Steve Smith's ability to always pick fights on the field but never get caught.
  • A new job, wonderful co-workers, and a steady paycheck.
  • Friends who know that when I order a craft beer, I usually just want a Bud Light. 
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and all the other ridiculous platforms we love to hate but that allow me to keep in touch with family and friends around the world.  
  • My nephew for making me laugh. The kid can't high-five, but he can "cabbage patch." 
  • All my friends and family who got married this year and gave me a reason to celebrate, visit with loved ones....and get down with my bad self on the dance floor.
  • The children I meet when I volunteer at the children's hospital - stronger and more positive than any adults I know...and darn good at Candy Land and Uno. 
  • My family for being awesome, slightly nutty, always supportive, and hilariously funny.

Ok, so now is the time I have to admit that I lied to you. I'm sorry. I was so busy being thankful (read: drinking wine and eating cheese) that I forgot to take pictures at Thanksgiving. I mostly just have the photo below. Oops. 
A thankful bunch. I like to call that my "hurry up and take the picture, there is cranberry sauce in front of me and I need to eat it" smile. Charlie is making his "you think I don't notice that I'm not at the table but I do, you jerks" face.
To make up for my lack of Thanksgiving photos, I'm going to share a very special "Behind-the-Scenes" feature of a deCastrique Family Christmas card photo shoot. There was a puppy, a baby, and a dog who wanted nothing to do with the other two. Clearly, it was an orderly, efficient process.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gotta Get There: Our Night With Brett Eldredge

I was initially going to do one giant post about my Thanksgiving weekend -- from the turkey on Thursday to a concert on Saturday to Panthers on Sunday. But, then the Saturday concert turned into a night of incredible music, delicious quesadillas, and bar-hopping with country music star Brett Eldredge. I figured that warranted its own post. And, as an added bonus, it includes a guest interview. (Spoiler alert: It's not an interview with Brett Eldredge. It's better.)

Note: the phrase "bar-hopping" may be a bit inaccurate but I'm sure it's how I'll end up telling the story in the future so I'm just trying it on for size.

With Rachel and Anna.
This past Saturday, I joined the First Family of Country Music -- The Hickmans -- for the Brett Eldredge show at 9:30 Club. I suppose the Carter-Cash Family or the Hill-McGraw Family may be the official "First Family of Country Music" but the Hickmans are pretty close. They know their country crooners and have probably been to no less than 30 concerts this year alone.

Anna, Rachel and Eddie had all seen Brett before in concert and -- while I was already a fan -- I had not. However, they assured me, it would be worth leaving my family and Thanksgiving leftovers for the show. Plus, I have new cowboy boots so, obviously, I was in.

Those Hickmans don't lie.

The show was incredible. We knew Brett Eldredge would be awesome but we were also blown away by the opening performers, The Railers. They were so good that I am actively searching for how to hear their music as their first album doesn't come out until next Spring. That's too long, The Railers, too long. In the meantime, here's a video of them exploring DC and performing a cover of an Imagine Dragons song. .
The Railers. In real life, they are not magenta.
Once Brett Eldredge took the stage, the crowd was already fired up. That includes the 6'3" couple that pushed their way to stand in front of me. It's cool though, guys, I'm not bitter. I'm 5'2" but it's fine, whatever. 

Brett Eldredge and some lady's cell phone.
Tall personal-space-encroachers aside, the concert was phenomenal. Rachel, Anna and I were all swooning over Brett -- mostly because of his voice/talent and also a lot because of his handsomeness. Rachel and Anna were especially skilled at pointing at him and having him point back. I told you, they're pros. Whether covering favorite songs or performing those from his own album -- Brett was awesome. Leaving the club, we joked about how we could possibly try to meet him and get him to come out with us. Now, before you say, "Wow, Lindsay. Look at you! Hitting the club and then going out? What's gotten into you?" I should clarify that it was an early show and so we were out of there by around 9pm and looking for a place to get some dinner. We ended up at Alero (which you may remember from my birthday festivities at the Cleveland Park location) where I got my usual spinach quesadillas and sangria.

This is where the night got particularly interesting.