The Ugly Parts

A friend said to me last week, “Keep sharing these parts of you…you’ll never know how many lives you’ll impact along the way.”

Ever since my accident, I easily share the good parts – how far I’ve come in my physical recovery, how I’m indoor cycling again, how we’re able to travel again. But nobody wants to talk about the ugly parts. The ugly parts are hard.

But if I don’t share the whole story, then you only know the shiny Instagram-worthy parts of the story – and maybe someone else with ugly parts to their story doesn’t get the benefit of the reminder that the ugly part is temporary – or the benefit of hearing someone else just say “it’s OK to not be OK.”

I have learned so much about trauma this year – and how deep-seated it can be. Isn’t it lucky that I didn’t really know much about trauma until 33 years old? There’s something to be thankful for.

Right after the accident, my friend Kim was telling me how smart our brains are. And how good they are at packing crap in tiny boxes and burying it so deep that if you don’t acknowledge that and start unpacking those tiny boxes right away, they will get so buried and covered up with brain cobwebs that you might never get them out. I heard her – but didn’t really hear her. Then one day a month or so after the accident an ambulance went through my neighborhood with its siren on. Next thing I knew I was on the floor in my dining room covering my ears and I couldn’t breathe. I was unconscious when the ambulance came to my accident – I thought. But I must have heard that siren in October after all. And my brain connected the dots that the siren meant this was real bad. And the first time I heard a siren after the accident, even though I was safe in my house, my brain said “you’re in trouble. This is bad. Remember?” There were several other things like that – Escalades, stepping off a curb to cross the street, driving, riding in an Uber with a stranger in control of my life.

So I started thinking there might be something to this “tiny boxes of trauma in your brain” theory that Kim had. If you watched the NHTSA video, you know how much Andy ended up helping me over the course of the next few months. It was so good. After our time together ended and I felt in control of things, he’d check in from time to time and I’d say “yeah, I’m actually really good – I am.” And I meant it. I felt pretty normal and even keel. Sirens didn’t affect me that way anymore – Escalades didn’t make me want to pull off the road. I honestly felt better.

Then on July 8, there was a super public hit and run accident with a cyclist and an SUV on the Natchez Trace Parkway in greater Nashville. Since it was captured on video, I watched it a million times. I read everything about this asshat who hit the cyclist. I followed the story obsessively waiting for him to be arrested. Then I read all about him when they released his name. I sent the victim of the hit and run a Facebook message like a crazy person, letting him know I could refer him to resources for this trauma he’s experienced and he should take them, don’t wait. Apologies, sir – I am not always insane.

Then came all the victim shaming comments, HUNDREDS of them, on social media. I remembered people had similar things to say about me on the news reports of my accident, just on a lesser scale since my accident wasn’t viral like this video. Fortunately I was on a lot of pain pills when I read them so I didn’t really care what the trolls said, and have never gone back to revisit them. But this time, in regards to this Natchez Trace accident, I started sparring with these morons on Facebook, defending this cyclist and the rules of the road. By Monday, two days later, I could barely breathe and was uncontrollably weepy and stabby at the same time. I still wasn’t 100% putting it all together, but knew enough to call for help and try to get an appointment with someone.

Then Kim – God bless Kim – texted me and said “you doing ok with this Natchez Trace bike hit-and-run story?” I was like NOPE. That’s what is happening. I am coming unraveled and did not see this coming. Thank you for validating that.

What the heck!? I thought I was cured – remember? I did manage to get right into see someone through our Employee Assistance Program at work. It was a weird fit, this therapist, but she sat there and let me cry, validated my breakdown and handed me tissues, and it turns out that’s kind of all I needed.

I wrote this in my journal on July 11, which was a few days after that Natchez Trace incident:

Here’s the thing I’m learning about trauma. It doesn’t just go away. You aren’t just well, one day. It is always a little tumble of feelings and thoughts in your brain.

You know when you were little and playing outside as a kid, and sometimes you’d see those little baby tornado things whipping across the driveway? It’s a little gust of wind that twirls and twirls and picks up leaves and then breaks apart and disappears. I used to try to jump in them and hope I’d get swept way up in the air. I feel like that’s what’s sweeping around in my brain – real low, at the bottom, just hovering along. But sometimes it gets stronger and the elements are just right and it picks up steam and starts collecting leaves and debris and before you know it it’s a full blown tornado of anger and resentment and what ifs and shit gusting through my head.

So, I have decided more than anything now (which could all change tomorrow because that’s the thing about trauma), it’s OK to not be OK. And that I probably won’t ever be really healed. And that’s OK too. But I can talk about it – and maybe somebody reading this needs to also hear that it’s OK to not be OK. And I can keep unpacking the tiny trauma suitcases just as fast as this world fills them up inside my head. Because it’s my head and I get to be the landlord.

P.S. – if this hit home with you or made you think “me too” at any point, I recommend this book. And this one.

XOXO,

Jenn

 

 

Peloton

Last year, I was sitting at home watching the Tour de France and they kept showing ads for Peloton Cycle. It was this extremely fancy, gorgeous, indoor spin bike. I texted my husband, brother and dad and said “I might need one of these.” Plus, Peloton literally means “a group of riders – the head of the pack.” How cool is that? I love good branding.

Then I looked them up, considered the investment and didn’t think much about it for a long while. We had just bought a house, gotten married, had a honeymoon to pay off, etc.

Then, my fitness journey changed dramatically. I went to an indoor cycling class one month after that text and fell in love with indoor cycling. I also loved outdoor cycling, but if you read my blog, you know that a couple months later, that all changed.

After my accident, I knew during PT that cycling was going to play a major role in rehabbing my body. Running would be a ways off in my future, if ever really much again. Every physical therapy session started with the stationary bike. I sweated there, for the first time in a long time. The irony of it wasn’t lost on me. A bike got me on the couch, and a bike would get me off. My first time on the bike I still had my walking boot on. But the bike let me work again.

In fact, there’s probably some metaphor for life in here – something about riding a bike. 🙂

I started going back to those indoor cycling classes in the spring this year and getting my cardio back in shape. I kept loving cycling more and more – and I could DO IT. I had spent the previous 8 months or so discovering things that my body would not let me do or that would be different – harder, slower, more painful. Cycling on the other hand, I could do and do well.

Fast forward to June 2017 and the Peloton was back on my radar. Justin had just cancelled his gym membership because going there was torture – and not in a good way. I wanted the same indoor cycling experience I’d fallen in love with, but needed a new place to get it. Enter Peloton.

I ordered it on a Wednesday morning and by the following Friday two kind gentlemen were at my door asking where I wanted it set up.

Where I watch the sun come up, most days.

Not familiar with Peloton?

Here’s the deets:

Peloton is a top of the line, cutting-edge indoor bike, combining fitness and tech. Named “the best cardio machine on the planet” by Men’s Health; “The most impressive new fitness equipment I’ve tried this year,” says USA Today; and Forbes says, “Yes, you really can get a better-than-the-gym workout at home. It’s called Peloton.” Peloton is a relatively new company, but they are SLAYING it. I did so much research on this machine, y’all.

You pay for the bike, your shoes, delivery and professional set up – and it’s an investment friends. Trust me. But so worth every cent. (Side note – the indoor cycling studio I was going to was offering a one-time, founders package of $2,000 for a year of unlimited classes. Peloton was $1995. Boom, easiest decision ever. And, it’s 15 feet from my bed. And Justin’s using it too).

What I love about cycling classes is the energy – the lights, the music, the instructor, the stats, the leader board. With Peloton, you stream live (or on demand) classes from their NYC studio. They are teaching to a room of riders on site in NY, and streaming to thousands more. The instructors are the best you’ll find anywhere. They make you feel like you are sitting in the room with them. (My new life goal is to have my favorite instructor, Alex, give me a shout out at some point, as they often do to the “home riders” with birthdays, milestone rides, etc.).

The music is everything (and you ride to the rhythm, which is a must) – you choose Pop, Hip Hop, 90’s rap, Yacht Rock…literally there is anything you could dream of. Hell, they even do live DJ rides. There are a mere 6,500 classes to choose from last I checked. So you hop on the bike and press play on your favorite class. Even if it’s not live, the leader board simulates that you are riding live and gives you a ranking among the other thousands of riders that have taken that class.

On the giant touchscreen is your cadence (the instructor tells you how fast to go), your distance (I usually cover 12-13 miles in a 45 minutes class), your output/watts/power, your calorie burn and your gear (again, the instructor tells you a range to be in). All of this is archived on your profile so you can see it over time – how you’re improving, your PR, how close you are to beating your husband, etc. 🙂

Photo from pelotoncycle.com

 

Feel like you need something other than cycling, today? There are yoga classes, strength, core, arms, stretching.

I just cannot say enough about this machine, y’all. It met every one of my expectations and then some. For Justin, since he wasn’t used to the high octane, endorphin fueling workout that a good cycling class can provide, it’s absolutely blown his mind. He loves it. We have to coordinate schedules. Fortunately, only once have I come upstairs to find his butt in that seat when I wanted to be. I pouted. A lot.

Here’s a super awesome video of me giving you the tour of our Peloton. Click here to watch it. 

Still reading? Ask me for my referral code so you can get $100 off accessories – that’s basically free shoes. Comment here or find me at jwademccombs at gmail dot com.

How about some Q&A:

  • Where can I get more info?
    • pelotoncycle.com. Or message me.
  • How big is it?
    • 4’x2’ footprint. Checkout my video for some real life images.
  • What if it doesn’t work?
    • They offer a one-year warranty with the option to extend. Also, if you buy it with your credit card, check and see if your card extends the warranty period. Mine Southwest Chase Visa does by a year.
  • Is there a subscription?
    • Yes – $39/month for the classes – but that is good for every rider in your household, and cheaper than most gym memberships.
  • Do I need the shoes?
    • Yes, get them. Just do it. You’re already investing in your health this much – just get the shoes. And ask me for my referral code so you can get $100 off your accessories/shoes.
  • Is it loud? I need the music to be loud.
    • We bluetooth’d ours to the JBL speaker so we pump up the jams. Or, when I’m riding in the wee hours of the morning while Justin is asleep, I use headphones. But the speakers on the bike are surprisingly powerful.
  • Can I test it before I buy it?
    • There are a few showrooms across the country. Check out the website. Also, they are doing tours this summer – and they are here August 18-19 in Nashville. So, if you’re in town, let’s go!
  • Will my WiFi work to stream classes? 
    • Ours works awesome – but we have a pretty serious WiFi plan. They say most plans/speeds work on the Peloton website. Check it out for more info. They even have a tool that lets you check the speed of yours. I imagine you’ll be fine, like us.

So really, you can probably tell how obsessed I am with this thing. If you have more questions, please ask. Go forth and ride, friends.

This was not a sponsored post. All views expressed here are mine and were not prompted by anything other than my love for this product. 

XOXO,
Jenn

Six Months

Six months ago exactly, just like today, was a gorgeous Friday in Nashville. I got on my little orange bicycle at my office parking garage to make the short, 4.5 mile ride home. I snapped this picture before I got on the bike – it just looked so pretty with its new “seafoam” handlebar tape.

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I texted Justin, instead of calling, because I was so ready to get on the road and beat the heaviest traffic. I usually call him on my way home, every day. If I would have called him on October 7, maybe I would have been two or three minutes later to that intersection than I was. This is one of the 2,000 things I’ve asked myself “what if I had just…” about that day.

But I did not – I texted and got on the road. Probably 5-7 minutes after that I was on Poston Ave. at Centennial Park when I stopped at a four way stop, eased out into the intersection and everything about my perfect little bubble of a world changed. I don’t remember anything really, between the time I thought “this SUV is going to hit me” to when I woke up in an ambulance asking the nice paramedic to please hold my hand, which he did for about 45 minutes until they had to leave me.

Of course, now we’re six months past that – and in some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, and in some ways it feels like yesterday. Days like today, milestones and anniversaries, make me feel very heavy and reflective. I have started to slowly move past the “what ifs” and “if I had onlys…” to just being very accepting of this thing that happened to me and so thankful it wasn’t worse. I think of all the things he took from me that day, but really he gave me a lot too. Well, God did. It was His plan, after all. So, I try to see that and hold onto that. And when a thing happens – small or large – I think, well, maybe that was part of the plan. You were meant to be here to still experience that – or that was just a small thing that is teeing up a bigger thing for the future. Keep your eyes and heart open.

Justin and I watched the movie Patriot’s Day last night, which is about the Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt for the two suspects. At the end of the movie, my boy Mark Wahlberg has this short monologue where he says things that I thought were so poignant for any tragedy or loss – on a national, personal or whatever level.

“When the devil hits you like that the only way to fight back is with love…That’s the only thing he won’t touch. What I saw today, good versus evil, love versus hate. There’s only one weapon you have to fight back with, it’s love. We wrap our arms around each other. I don’t think that there’s any way that they could ever win.”

He and others in the movie go on to talk about how love responded to that tragedy so fast, and that’s what the beautiful thing is about a tragedy. After my accident people wanted to know first how I was, and a close second “what about that bastard who hit you?” I’d always respond and tell them the latest on the case, but after some time, I wanted to say “but what about the dozens of people who sent me flowers, brought me dinner, cards, books, comfortable new pajamas, edible arrangements, a singing Elvis, or best yet, came over to just sit and cry with me. Don’t you know about them?” Let me tell you about those people – because that’s what was the most startling if you ask me. Not that one, horrible, waste of space crossed my path that day – but that so many beautiful, amazing people are in my life and they showed up BIG.

So yeah, he took a lot of things from me that day – like my feeling of safety doing normal, everyday things like stepping off a sidewalk, letting someone else drive me somewhere or hearing an ambulance pass. But he was the driver of an eye-opening experience and a reminder to seize every.single.moment on this earth. And to not be afraid of when the last might come. Because friends, that day is coming and we have zero control. Fearing it is a waste of time because you are completely powerless against most things in this world.

Six months was the first big milestone in my head – if I can get there, I’ll probably at least be in intense physical therapy and walking in my boot. Well, I’ve graduated from Physical Therapy, lost that boot at Christmas-time and I’m running and spinning again. I’m more in love with my people than ever. The sun is shining and I woke up with my person next to me today. That’s more than enough and I appreciate it more than I thought possible. I said it six months and one day ago from the ER, and I’ll say it again. Hug your people.

Oh, and I have to call Justin before leaving work every day now. It’s not negotiable. 🙂

XOXO,
Jenn

Perspective

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I am three days shy of being six months post-accident. If you are like “what is she talking about?” you can get the background here. Two weeks ago I officially graduated from Physical Therapy (yay!), so last weekend, I went back to my first spin class. I had spent a few minutes on a stationary bike in Physical Therapy, but hadn’t been back to spin yet. (And no, I’ve not been on a road bike yet). I didn’t think I’d be comfortable standing up out of the saddle and climbing, or being locked into my shoes and pedals. That’s a lot of potential force on your ankle, particularly if you lose the rhythm and the pedal gets away from you.

In August, about six weeks before the accident, my friend Lindsey introduced me to a spin studio in Franklin. It completely consumed us. We were slightly obsessed with the instructors, the room, the bikes…the entire experience. This class is one where your bike is smart and tracks your stats throughout the class, and they are shown on a screen periodically throughout the 50 minute session. Based on your power points (gear + speed), you rank among your classmates. Friendly competition at its finest.

I started in the back row the first few classes. Then, I realized I was pretty friggin’ good at this, and moved to the front row so I could get even more connected to the class and the instructor. In a class of 20 or so people, I wanted to place near the top every time. Especially above the boys. Because when is out-racing boys not fun? I would rank high every class, or kill myself trying.

You get an email report after class saying how many estimated calories you burned, how you stacked up against your classmates, what your average power was, etc. I would compare mine, class to class, to be sure I was improving. It was obsessive, but I loved the competition. I was devastated to miss it after the accident and in denial about how long I’d be out.

10 days ago I went back to my first class. I texted the instructor (who has become a sweet friend) and basically told her not to expect much. I was going to be in the back row, I took my stats off the screen and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to climb a hill or leave the saddle – but I’d be there and be positive. She said that sounded perfect.

With Lindsey by my side, cheering me on, I rode the entire 50 minute class and covered 14 miles. The first time the instructor said “come to third position” (that’s out of the seat, climbing a hill), I stood up. It felt fine. It felt amazing. I was watching my gear, but pushing myself. What I wasn’t doing was watching the screen. Or other people around me. I was so in tune with how my body felt and how much more I could do and I would push to get there, then listen again, and adjust.

For the first time, it wasn’t about beating everyone in class or riding further than them. It was about beating the girl stuck on the couch for the past 6 months. It was about feeling what it is to have every muscle in your leg fire up at once. And to have sweat running in your eyes. Oh my goodness how I missed a good sweat! I caught myself cheering Lindsey on (she wins every sprint, ever) – previously I would have been tasting my breakfast trying to beat her. I caught myself setting tiny goals along the way – “do this hill one gear higher than the last,” or “you’re almost to 13 miles – you can get 14 in before class is over.”

So you see where I’m going with this, right? What happens when we start focusing on how much we can do compared to the last time? Or how much closer we can get to a goal we thought was out of reach? What happens when we enter every challenge as me vs. me instead of me vs. you? For starters, I’ll like both of us a lot better at the finish line.

Healthy competition is so good, don’t get me wrong – but my perspective about how I’m competing and who I’m competing against and WHY I’m competing has shifted and it feels so much healthier. Maybe that’s just part of getting older. Maybe it’s part of wondering if I’d ever ride again. The list of things to be thankful for grows immensely when they are almost all taken away. I pray this new perspective is here to stay. Check me at the door if I lose it.

XOXO,
Jenn

Whole30, Round 2

After the holidays, Justin and I decided we needed a reset on our bodies and a reset mentally, given the way we had been attacking every morsel of food in front of us. We were each down 30-40 pounds from two years ago when we first did Whole30, so round 2 began on January 17. We knew the deal this time – so it required no studying, just prepping.

If you haven’t heard of Whole30, join us from under your rock and visit this website. (Just kidding…but really, it’s exploded in the past couple of years). No prepared products, no gluten, no wheat, no dairy, no soy. Just good, whole foods – protein, good fat, veggies and limited fruit.

I got serious on Pinterest and pinned some amazing things and off we went to prepping. Again, the first time we did this I was so over feeling icky in my own skin. I was at my heaviest and just generally unhappy with myself. So I NEEDED to lose weight and this just jump started things. However, this time Justin and I both are much happier with our health and weight – we just needed a reset. And for that reason, this round of Whole30 royally irritated me, if I’m being honest. We know how to eat now – whereas we did not before. I thought it was fine to eat whatever then workout. But now, for the most part, we eat pretty healthy and Whole30 about 70% of the time. So dang it, if I want a peanut M&M in the middle of the afternoon, I want to have one. So where I needed the strictness of Whole30 the first round, I did not enjoy it this time. It aggravated me and made me want to bail completely. I honestly would have if Justin wasn’t shedding like 10 more pounds before my very eyes. He killed it.

But, despite my grumbling, we did find some delicious recipes. You can find most of these on my Whole30 Pinterest Board. We will definitely keep making a lot of these in the regular rotation.

I should also note that we made it 27 of 30 days until we ate this. And I’m not even mad about it.

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That chocolate piñata was delicious and I’d eat it again right now. Because you know, everything in moderation…even moderation.

Whole27 probably won’t catch on.

 

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Spaghetti and Zoodles

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Chicken Fried “Rice” (Cauliflower Rice)

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Tuna Stuffed Avocado Boats

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Chicken and Zuchinni Poppers with Homemade Cilantro Ranch

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Spinach Salad with Homemade Cilantro Ranch

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Costco (Kirkland brand) Smoked Pulled Pork, Sauteed Spinach and Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Sweet Potato Hash and a Fried Egg

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Grilled Salmon with Avocado, Cilantro Cream Spaghetti Squash

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Pork Chop with Orange Pecan Pesto

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Buffalo Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Casserole

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Grilled Mahi Mahi, Mango Salsa and Fried Cauliflower Rice

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Pork Egg Roll in a Bowl (probably our favorite!)

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Two Ingredient Pancakes (eggs and bananas)

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Spicy Ground Turkey and Green Bean Stirfry

XOXO,

Jenn

Official Nashville Hipsters

Hipsters — such an overused word. But still, as I approach my mid-thirties (gulp), I think I aspire to be one. #noshame

Since moving to the Nations, Justin and I have totally embraced being city mice — riding our bicycles as much as possible. Blazing new greenways. Tying the bikes up at the local watering hole, having a craft beer and cruising home. This weekend and its phenomenal weather set the scene just perfectly for another Nashville Hipster weekend. Bring your beard.

Friday night when Justin got home around 5 or 5:30, we tore straight out the door for the 12 South neighborhood. We had a Nashville Originals gift card from my amazing realtor, Frank J. Miles, and it was burning a hole in our pockets! We started with Happy Hour at Bartaco (best margarita in town – no joke) and then headed to Urban Grub for dinner.

Urban Grub. We sat right there by the fireplace. It was perfection.

Y’all — that dinner. We hadn’t been to Urban Grub! It’s rare to find a place that neither of us have been, so this was a treat. They fly their seafood and Oysters in FRESH, like that day, and dry age and butcher their meat in house. Justin had the most massive NY Strip I’ve ever seen. The menu says it’s 16 oz, but I’m not sure how that is possible. It appeared to be about 55 oz if I had to guess. I had the Lobster Casarecce (pasta), add truffle oil. YEP. Oh yeah, and throw in some grits with house-made bacon on top as our side. If you haven’t been to Urban Grub, I highly, highly recommend it. Just wear your stretchy pants and go for it.

Saturday morning, after sleeping off our food coma, we hopped on our bikes about 10 a.m. Justin needed a haircut — so first stop was Scout’s Barbershop in Sylvan Park, which is about 2 miles away. This place is dreamy, y’all. Justin got an old fashioned barbershop trim and a rinse for $15. YEP.

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Scout’s Barbershop

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Scout’s

Next up we cruised over to McCabe Pub right as they opened the doors for a quick lunch. McCabe’s is a staple in Sylvan Park and oh so good. I had the Chef Salad – Justin had the spicy chicken sandwich.

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McCabe Pub

My main priority this day was to get new tires on my bike. They were worn down (I purchased this baby off Craigslist about 4 years ago but it’s mostly been sitting in storage. Still, the tires were ready for a change. I’d already had one flat tube). ALSO, because I own a cougar cub masquerading as a kitten, my handlebar tape looks like this. WHAT did that tape ever do to you, Fiona!? I can’t be driving around looking like that.

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Fiona strikes again

So we left McCabe’s and headed to West End (a short 3-4 miles) to Cumberland Transit. I used to live almost right above Cumberland Transit and these guys are a staple in the Nashville outdoor arena. Fishing, biking, running, camping…they’ve got everything you need.

The guy was like “WOW…dog?” No, cat. He was impressed.

He was like “well, let’s pick out some tape — we have lots of colors.” I said “eh, probably just white again. The bike is orange so I’m not sure anything else will look good.” He said “well, you haven’t seen all the colors we have.” Boy was he right…SEAFOAM!! Seafoam and orange obviously go together.

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Seafoam!

While we waited on the bike (which really needs a name, I think), we went next door to Three Brothers Coffee. This really upped our hipster status. I mean, while we were sipping our lattes a guy came in chewing on a deer antler. Just, you know, chewing on a deer antler like it was a piece of hay or something. I think those are for dogs, but whatever dude. Maybe I should get a deer antler…

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Three Brothers Coffee

Most weekends we head South and see the McCombs family — Justin usually gets involved in some sort of brief manual labor with his Dad. This weekend was moving the grill, which we promptly broke in on the new deck.

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Sunday we finally went back to Crosspoint! We love Crosspoint Church so much. Now that wedding and moving craziness is behind us we can’t wait to get more involved and regular.

After some errands and a workout at Planet Fitness, we’d earned dinner  — so we hopped on the bikes and headed to the other side of the neighborhood for 51st Kitchen and Bar. Y’all. I love this place so much. And this Sunday was particularly special. They were having a neighborhood picnic/pop-up dinner with a guest chef and for $35/head it was all-you-can-eat gourmet picnic food. Like, the best mac n’ cheese I may have ever had. Grilled chicken wings with chimichurri. Homemade slaw with shrimp. I mean, it just went on and on. Delicious. Oh and $5 craft cocktails. YEP!

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51st Kitchen – Blood Orange Mule and a Malbec

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All you can eat? Yes please.

We finished the weekend on our back porch with the babies. Right where we should be. They cannot get enough of the back porch and watching the birds and eating bugs (OK, mostly Fiona. Dixie prefers eating mulch). We are loving life and loving Nashville so much. Don’t even deserve this beautiful life — but thanking God for every moment we get it.

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Our backyard oasis

XOXO,

Jenn

Two Weddings Make a McWife

When Justin and I decided we wanted to elope and have a private ceremony, the next thing we knew was that we wanted someone special to marry us. Someone who really knew us and wasn’t just reading from a script or dropping our names into a template. Enter my little brother, Josh. He was the perfect man for the job, with one exception — he’s no minister.

Then began the discussion of online ordination. You know, “by the power vested in me by the power of the internet, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” This is indeed a thing in many states — but according to the almighty internet, the Davidson County Clerk AND the Williamson County Clerk, Tennessee is one of three states that don’t recognize it. (Disclaimer — I know many friends and acquaintances who have gone this route and have a marriage certificate, so I think once you get that piece of paper, all bets are off. You’re good. Never fret).

But if you know me, you know I’m a rule follower. So, how to solve this quandary? Solution: how about we get all that pesky paperwork out of the way a month in advance so we can just relax and enjoy the wedding day? Read: courthouse wedding!

I did some research and learned that Davidson County does courthouse weddings one day a week for 1.5 hours or so. You call Monday morning at 8:30 to make an appointment for later that week, and they go fast. With looming work travel and a move in our near future, we knew we had to get it done in February (actual wedding to happen March 19). So I called February 8 and we had an appointment February 10. We both put in for vacation that day and counted down the minutes.

I don’t really know what we expected, but I think we thought we’d sign some paperwork and we’d be married. Still, we were excited. However, when we got there it became obvious real quick that we would go in this private area of the Clerk’s office and exchange vows, rings, say I Do’s — the whole bit! It took us by surprise.

Our County Clerk, Brenda Wynn, is about the sweetest lady in the world. When we unexpectedly got emotional, she cried right along with us. If Josh Wade wasn’t already booked, I would have invited her out to Leiper’s Fork a few weeks later. 😉 DSC_0022

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We left the courthouse and headed straight for brunch, naturally. Biscuit Love has been on our radar for a while but it’s always sooo crowded. Guess what — at 10:30 on a Wednesday, you can walk right in. We ordered, and as she swiped Justin’s card she said “did y’all just come from a wedding or something?” (I was still holding my bouquet). I said “yeah, ours.” She said, “NO WAY,” and took his card back — “I’m comping your breakfast.” Errrr, sorry we just ordered the left side of the menu.

As we were finishing brunch, the manager came over and congratulated us and dropped off a bag of goodies — coffee mugs, t-shirts, a cookbook, etc. So, so kind.

We left brunch and drove by our soon-to-be new home that we would live in as a finally married couple. (We were so ready for it to be done!) Then, we went home (to our former apartment) and took a nap. It was pretty much the perfect courthouse wedding day.

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So many thanks to my beautiful, most kind-hearted and selfless friend Lindsey for taking these photos at the courthouse and for making my beautiful bouquet. She offered the day before, so I scrambled and found something suitable to wear — and I’m so glad I did. We will treasure these and treasure the very non-traditional, but very Justin and Jenn, way that we did our entire wedding process. We did what we wanted to do — we made it special and we made it about us. It’s how every wedding should be — not like ours — but however it is that makes the two of you happy and is a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing. For nobody else and for no other reason than to celebrate your love. And we sure have a lot of it to celebrate.

People asked “did it make it less special since you actually got married in February?” Heck no — did you see the photos from that wedding in the woods? It was amazing! I got to pledge my love to this man twice. I’d do two weddings a month for every month if I could.

XOXO,
The McCombs

Closet Clean Out

I did a massive closet clean out this morning, friends. There’s a huge pile going to Goodwill, but these are some of the nicer items, most hardly worn, so I thought I’d give this a whirl. All items priced for porch pick up (assuming you are local) or will ship to you, just add an extra $5 for the order (not per item).

Email me at jenndawnwade@gmail.com with your wish list! First come, first serve. XO

Ann Taylor tops – size Medium. Both for $10.

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Banana Republic Sloan Fit Pant — blueish gray color. Size 8. Ankle length. My favorite work pant! I have them in every color. $10

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Ann Taylor Loft shorts – all size 6. Jean cutoffs and a pair of brown khaki material and pink khaki material. $8 each or $20 for all three. 

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Size 8 Petite dress shorts from Ann Taylor. These are a heavier material and dress up really well with nice sandals and a blouse. $10.

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Black pencil skirt, Ann Taylor LOFT, size 6. It’s a heavier, almost woven kind of material. Loved this skirt. $8

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Dark green, lace dress from Target. Worn once to a rehearsal dinner. Size medium. $10. Looks great with a bright belt. Hits me somewhere between just above the knee and mid-thigh.

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Ann Taylor striped dress. Size 6. $15. Great for work.

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Flower print dress, size large but fits more like a medium. Wear with a belt and it’s very forgiving if you’re a medium or a large. No zipper – elastic around the waist. Used to wear it casually or to work with a cardigan. Hits me mid-thigh. $10.

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Pink dress with lace detail at the top. Worn once to a wedding. Forever 21 (yes, really), size L. No zipper, could be worn with a belt if you’re medium or large. Hits me mid-thigh. $10. 

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My favorite chambray shirt from Ann Taylor LOFT. Size L, so soft. $10. 

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Have no idea where I got these, but love these shorts. Size 8 — fit more like a 6. Color is navy and white. $10. 

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Meet Princess Fiona Kitten Pants

If you’ve visited this blog more than once (OK, maybe even just once), you know I’m a crazy cat lady. I just friggin’ love a cat. They are insane and so conniving. What’s not to love? And if you knew my Callie Cat girl, you know I have a heart for even the meanest, weirdest ones. Callie was special – feral and wild. But I loved her and she loved me. We bonded over a lot of ups and downs through 10 years together – and no matter what, we had each other.

Since Callie passed in October, I have been a bit hot and cold about another kitty. I finally decided I’d wait until I moved into the new house in November – but then I got the cat lady itch real bad. No, not like allergies – like, I wanted another one.

Justin and I looked off and on for a few months. Then a few Saturdays ago we got serious about it. It’s kitten season, after all. (I don’t even know what that means – I guess every spring/early summer cats just start breeding like mad, because there are kittens everywhere. All the shelters are just overrun with the little darlings).

We went to a place in Spring Hill where there were some real sweeties, but I just wasn’t feeling the strong connection. We moved on up to the Williamson County Animal Shelter, filled out an application (which you have to do to even hold a kitty) and started our search. (Actually, I walked straight in the door, opened a cage and grabbed a cat out and a lady said “you can’t do that. Have to have an application. It stops the spread of disease.” First, WTF. Second, WHERE DO I SIGN. I’m serious kitten huntin’).

After our application process I immediately picked a kitten I wanted to hold. It was so cute and right in the front door when you walked in. We took it to the kitten room where it can get down and run around with you – but it was weird. Sorry cat. It just wasn’t the right fit. I knew we needed one with personality (duh, see Callie) and one that could hold its own against a Golden Retriever at home. This one was terrified of most things, it appeared.

I put it back and went to another room and AHHHHH KITTENS. This is where they stash ‘em. They were EVERYWHERE. Like 5 to a cage/crate. Justin and I were immediately drawn to this one little furball in a cage with three other black males. She was calico and so beautiful. We got her out and took her tiny butt to the kitten room. She was rambunctious but also sweet and purring up a storm. She seemed to love human touch – weird, having known only Callie who would rather claw your eyes out than be picked up by a stranger. After a couple of minutes we just sort of looked at each other and smiled – “I think she’s the one,” I said. He said “yep – what’s her name?” Fiona.

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The past 15 or so days with her have an been adjustment. I forgot what it’s like having a kitten at home. (Read: pouncing on face at night and midnight and 3 a.m. feedings). And turns out, Fiona was only 6 weeks old and not weaned from her momma yet. So it was a little touch and go at first to get her to eat. We ended up bottle-feeding for several days, then she ate wet food for about a week, which makes for a REAL party in the litterbox. Imagine, wet cat food on a brand new stomach that’s never had such delicacies. Needless to say, just like a real baby, Fiona had several blow outs and got several baths. Ever bathed a cat? Yeah, keep it that way.

We are so in love with this little one though – she is growing like a weed and we wish she’d stop. She was 1.6 pounds when we got her and is now a little over 2. So she’s still just about 8 weeks old. She is in love with her doggy sister and wants to be ON HER all the time. Dixie cooperates and tolerates, bless her sweet heart.

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More crazy cat lady posts to come, you can guarantee it.

XOXO,
Jenn

It’s Not that Hot Out

Last Friday I was meeting a group of friends for happy hour. My friend DJ and I got to the bar/restaurant, so very pleased it was Friday and ready to have a craft beer. We parked off a busy four-lane street and when we exited her vehicle, we both heard a dog barking. It was odd, because the street was so busy. About three cars down, there was a dog in a car, windows cracked maybe an inch. It was a furry little schnauzer thing and panting hard. It was 4:30 and probably 85 degrees out.

I looked at DJ like “are you kidding me right now?” I then looked around – as if someone would be standing there holding a sign that says “here stands stupid. It’s me. I’m the terrible person.”

DJ said, “you’re going to do something aren’t you…” more of a statement than a question. Yep. I have to.

The bar we were headed to was in a strip mall – so the car was right in front of a restaurant. I went in and asked the hostess if she knew whose car it was. She said she thought it was “that table’s” and pointed to a couple of girls. She went over and asked, they nodded, and the hostess flagged me over.

I went over to two girls in their early 20’s. I said to one “is that your silver car?” She said “yes.” I said “that’s your dog in the car?” She said yes. I said “do you know how hot it is outside today?” To which she replied…

“It’s not that hot.”

I’m pretty sure I took a step back. Are you serious? Are you friggin’ serious.

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I said “Well. Either you can go outside and start your car, blast the AC and leave it running while you enjoy the rest of your meal. Or I’m calling the cops.” She looked at me and scoffed like ‘for real, cray lady?’ I said “so…?” She got up with her keys.

I held the door open for her and said, “I’m going to this bar here, next door. I’ll be out every 15 minutes to be sure your car is still running.” She said “Ok.”

And I did – I went out once more, looked at her through the window of the restaurant and put my hand calmly on the hood of the car to be sure it was running. Pup’s ears were happily blowing back in the AC. When I went out the second time, the car was gone.

What I should have said is, “listen turd. I’m going to put this fur coat on you, then you go sit in the car with the windows rolled up while I eat this ramen. Then you tell me if it’s really that hot today or not.”

Good news is, the Good Samaritan Law, which allows you to break a window from a car if you see a child trapped inside on a hot day, is being extended to protect animals in TN effective July 1. If it had been two weeks from now, I may have just waltzed into the restaurant holding that dog and said “is this yours?”

Article about the new law: http://m.wcyb.com/news/new-law-for-rescuing-pets-from-hot-cars/33534632

This is eye opening:

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So basically, that pup probably felt like it was 119 degrees. I could smack that girl – still, right now, it makes me so mad. But as my good friend DJ said, “just as there is no test for people to breed, there is no test for people to own animals.” Sad, but true.

Do your part if you see this happening this summer. Stand up for those little critters that can’t stand up for themselves.

XOXO,
Jenn