Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Life of a Gypsy: Nashville's Early Carnival History

There's something so romantic about the life of a gypsy. Women with their romantic layered clothing and big hoop earrings and scarves, telling fortunes harmlessly. Musclebound men of the gypsy tribe working hard to set up their latest camp, happy and charming. Gypsy children running around barefoot and carefree -it seems without a worry. They are a tight knit group and rarely move into attachments to people outside of their group, so the bond between them seems especially close. They even have their own gypsy language. Moving from town to town, always finding a new adventure, gypsies are a mystery to all of us.  Seems like being on vacation every day, but stumbling upon this blog, I found that many Nashvillians didn't associate Gypsies with anything that had to do with romance. They weren't quite so thrilled when they saw the gypsy wagons arrive in town yearly. Residents were even warned via radio that "the gypsies were coming to town, lock your doors."  Gypsies would set up a carnival annually on Carney Street here in Nashville. Carney Street is a stretch of road that runs parallel underneath an overpass. Basically, there are a few small run-down houses located there now. But one area of the road is a large clearing that even today looks like it could be a

Carney Street in Nashville

Gypsies go by many names;and the name they go by is often because of their ethnicity. Gypsies, Travelers, Carnies, or Knackers. The Gypsies that came to Nashville in the 30's were mainly thought to be "Irish
"The Old Guy" from The Nashville Wanderin Around Blog says:

Carnival Grounds
       "Before my time (in the 30s and early 40s) the lot down on Second Ave. where it splits of from Fourth Ave. coming into town, across from the Fairgrounds, the one bordered on the one end by the washed out mobile home park, fronting Second Ave. towards town all the way to the railroad viaduct then following the railroad right-of-way to Browns Creek, then Browns Creek to Moore Ave. at the former mobile home park, then out Moore Ave. to Nolensville road was the city carnival grounds. The carnival mentioned was as I understand it a particular carnival run by a group of “gypsies”. Whether or not they were truly “gypsies” I do not know, but they traveled the country putting on their carnivals and would land here in Nashville once a year or so where they would set up there in that lot put on their shows and while they were in town would bury their dead in a local cemetery. I think they somehow carried them with them until they arrived here to bury them. The “gypsies” whoever they were, were considered by many to be quite disreputable."
          Some of the research I’ve done seems to indicate that the "Irish Travelers" used to camp there when they passed through and they may be adding to the info about the site. Whatever, the only remaining vestiges of the old carnival grounds are the memories of the old ones, and the name of the street that runs from the railroad overpass at 2nd Ave. S. over to Nolensville Rd., …Carney St.
Most of the history of the "Irish Travelers  that visited Nashville yearly to bury their dead has disappeared. They did, however, leave a very positive legacy with the Saint Patrick's Catholic Church on 2nd Avenue in Nashville.  This is taken directly from their Parish website:
"One unique aspect of the parish is its connection to the “Irish Travelers.”  This is a group of Irish immigrants of the mid-1800’s who have not assimilated into the American population as other ethnic groups have done over the years.  Instead, this group remains clannish who live an itinerant lifestyle.  Over the years, various families comprising the Irish Travelers would appear in the Nashville area to hold a common funeral for those who had died since the last gathering.  Weddings and baptisms were performed as the gathering was equated to a family reunion.  Times have changed and the Irish Travelers no longer roam the countryside by wagon but they will return at times to St. Patrick and renew their connection to the parish.  The Irish Travelers have shown their appreciation for St. Patrick by donation of the Infant of Prague statue found in the church vestibule and the statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Hope."

St. Patricks Catholic Church in Nashville 
I would love to more about the "Irish Travelers  and Gypsies who would visit Nashville yearly. I wonder if someone out there might have some pictures of the old Carnivals they set up?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Preparing for Parenthood: Successful Sleeping-In their OWN bed from Birth

Why won't my baby sleep through the night?
This is a question most people imagine would be asked by the parent of a six month old, nine month old, or even a year old baby. But it's not uncommon at all for me to have the parent of a three,four or even five year old ask me why their older child keeps waking up during the night crying out for Mom, getting into bed with their parents and having a multitude of sleeping problems. These parents are baffled. These parents are exhausted. These parents assume they are out of options and that they have no choice but to walk around like zombies all day, after a sleepless night filled with multiple requests for "drinks of water" and a distraught and emotional child who eventually ended up sleeping with their legs on Mom or Dads head.  They think they've done everything right. They know their child is well-fed, bathed,  with a clean diaper-if they still wear one. Lots of the parents even describe going to extra lengths to make a perfect  bedtime ritual of reading a story before bed, saying prayers and tucking their little one in sweetly. The thing is, bedtime problems are very common  for infants and, believe it or not, children who go all the way past the age of starting school.  It's absolute torture for the parents-and what's worse is that their child, who has become what I call a "sleep monster" is literally holding them hostage with out the parent realizing it. The parents heart strings feel a huge tug every time their child tells them how frightened they are in their own bed, or how they are parched to the point of dehydration or the infant simply screams anytime the parent takes them NEAR their crib. This little "sleep monster" is not getting enough credit. These parents aren't stopping to consider their child's apparent level of intelligence. For example, any infant  who is able to realize if they scream, their parent won't place them in their crib-well that's obviously a pretty smart baby. The key to keeping your child from becoming a "sleep monster"-Prevention. You are in charge of creating your child's GOOD habits, not the other way around. Have a plan before your newborn arrives about how you intend for your child to sleep. If you intend for your child to sleep in their own bed all night long-make a plan and stick with it. Here are a few tips:

1) Never, ever, ever put your baby in your actual bed where you sleep. I say this from experience-I have had a "sleep monster"-I learned from my mistake. After that experience I changed my parenting and not putting my newborn, toddler, or child EVER in my bed was one of the best moves I've ever made as a parent. I also took accountability for the fact that my child wasn't trying to sleep in my bed for any reason except I had never given any other option. Honestly, your child will be happier and better rested long-term. So will you! In making this commitment to not ever allow your child in your bed, you must make a few sacrifices in the beginning. Making the decision to stick with the plan for keeping your newborn out of your bed will prepare your child to be independent later on. Set up a bottle or breast feeding area in a whole other room for doing night time feedings. Make sure to make this area comfy for you and your baby and well-equipped with a few diapers, wipes and a few changes of clothing. Hopefully, in the beginning you have a spouse or someone else who is willing to help perform  the every two-three hour nighttime feedings by switching off on nights. If you share your bedroom with this person, they will thank you and vice versa for allowing them to sleep in preparation for the next night. Those every two hour feedings are totally exhausting and there is a huge temptation to lay down beside your newborn and breast or bottle feed. This is not only dangerous but is the quickest way to create your very own personal, very, very loud "sleep monster." Your newborn should be awakened during feedings, even in the middle of the night. You are up and they should be as well. Use this time to sing to your baby, tell them a sweet story or even play a little game. In other words, lovingly wear them out. At this point, they don't have a choice as to whether or not to wake you up. All they have the ability to do is sleep two to three hours because of their extreme hunger. Your goal should not be to get your baby instantly back to sleep. You should both be awake. They might cry-it's okay. Remember, they are very hungry and growing every minute. Keep them awake while they are eating. You are setting a precedence for the future by creating a good habit for you and your child. When your baby is done eating and burping, change and swaddle them and place them back in their OWN crib or bassinet and you return to your own bed. These days will be challenging, but will only last a very few months. What you want to avoid is the panic that you will feel if your baby cries when you lay them down. If you know they have  been fed, changed, burped-let them doing a little self soothing. It will pay off, I promise.

2) Move your baby to their own bedroom at the right time. Most likely, as a newborn, even though your baby wasn't in your bed, they were close by in a bassinet-possibly even in your bedroom. My suggestion is moving your newborn into their own crib as soon as they are able to roll over. Usually this is around five and a half months. It's much less of a challenge to avoid having a "sleep monster" if your six month old is in another room, away from you. At first, you will be nervous-use baby monitors to listen or even watch your baby. You will sleep better and so will they. Invest in cozy, footed zip up pj's made of blanket like material so you never worry about your baby becoming cold or needing blankets. Make their crib safe-they don't need extra blankets, toys or stuffed animals. Their bed should be for sleeping-it isn't a place for playthings. Now, at this age in your child's development, the parent has to be very careful not to give in to rocking their child to sleep-your goal for their future is independence. Your child can be lovingly rocked with a much greater impact on their self esteem while they are awake! Never stay in their room and pat their back while they go to sleep or continually put a pacifier in their mouth. If you have done your job singing to your child, playing with them and lovingly wearing them out while they are awake-they will be exhausted. Make sure they are fed, changed and lay them down while they are awake. You will be shocked at how independently your child will fall off to sleep with precious goos and coos eventually if you realize forming these great habits is so crucial beforehand. Something you can do as early as birth with your baby that forms a wonderful habit and memory is to take your child into their room anytime they need to go to sleep and talk very lovingly to them about how special they are to you. Tell them how blessed they are to have such a beautiful place to sleep and how they are your little Prince or Princess. Do this as you're laying them down and make that a positive experience. I did this with my own children and I must say they LOVE bedtime and rarely get out of their beds. I still tell my girls every night, "Now go get into your beautiful Princess bed and go to sleep!"

3) Don't keep your house quiet. This is a common mistake parents make. Your baby/child should be tired and so ready for sleep that noise never bothers them. My only suggestion might be to put a little sign on your door asking people to refrain from doorbell usage. For some reason babies hate doorbells. If your baby wakes up prematurely, leave them alone for a while. Give them the opportunity to behave in accordance with the habits you are working on together. Most likely they will go back to sleep on their own if that is already a habit.

4)  Make sure your child/baby is well fed. Babies and children eat lots! They won't sleep well if they haven't had at least the same amount of food they had the day before. Remember, a full baby is a happy baby. Feed on demand.

5)  Don't pick your baby up every time they cry. You will be sorry if you fall victim to their needless pleas for attention through crying, and you aren't doing them any favors. It's totally normal  for babies at several stages  if they begin to go through a period of separation anxiety. At around five months old, your baby will start to cry if you try to lay them down either for a nap or to play on the floor during tummy time. They are testing you. Just ignore their cry and pretend it has no effect on you. Continue to talk sweetly and in a happy voice despite their attempt to cause you to react. Babies are smart and will quickly learn to cater their cries to the rewards you give them with your reactions.  If your child, once again, has been fed, burped and changed-you know this is another challenge you will have to weather all in the name of creating independence for your baby. During this difficult and challenging time, you will undoubtedly know you have read, sang and nurtured your child-and you can take great pride in knowing you are helping them to continue creating independent habits. One tip to keep your infant or even bigger kid happy-change their activity every twenty minutes. For instance, if they started out on the floor you might switch to their swing and then maybe a bouncy seat.

6) Limit the amount of time you hold your baby. Babies of all ages absolutely love to be held. Imagine if every time you woke up you saw a loving face looking down at you? Imagine feeling a warm body next to you, cuddling you with unconditional love. It's perfectly fine to give this to your child, but also think of this-even babies get sore muscles from being handled too much. Babies need love and cuddling and to be sang and played with-while they are awake. They also don't need over stimulation-babies will cry simply because they have been played with too much! Although you feed on demand, a napping schedule and regular nightly bedtime are keys to keeping your baby and you well-rested.  You are not only creating a good habit when letting your baby have time to themselves, you are giving them some down time they need to adapt to being a self soother.

7) Don't put your child in your bed when they are sick. This might sound mean or heartless, ridiculous or extreme. But, even having a sick baby or child in your bed  for one night may be enough to encourage them to revisit that option in the future. Don't ever let them know this option exists, even during sickness. If your baby is sick-you most likely won't be able to go into a deep enough sleep that will benefit you anyway. You may have to let them sleep in their bed and you set up a little bed nearby. Remember, you don't want them to regress on all of the great habits they have created. From two years old and up I have always resigned myself to sleeping on the couch while my child sleeps on the opposite love seat while they are ill. This allows me quick access to be their nurse and have the ability to take their temperature, help them with a sick stomach and give them meds. Although my children have mentioned lovingly the times they have been sick and we have slept on the sofas, it has never been an option for them to revisit. I returned to my own bed when I felt they were well enough.

8) Be strong and push away thoughts of guilt. Keep in mind that good parents are not neglectful. Neglect and laziness go hand in hand. It is 100 %  lazy and not in the best interest of the needs of your child for you to allow them to make decisions on their own. Particularly decisions that create habits that are bad and have a huge impact on you and your spouse personally, your marriage and the success of your entire family unit. While saying a parent who lets their child sleep in their bed is lazy may sound harsh, it's true. Cosleeping with your child as a newborn makes the responsibilities of being a new parent somewhat easier, but not for the damage it does to an impressionable infant. Don't trade a successful future having a child happy and independently reading in their own bed for having a crying, whiny child who can't be more than a few feet away from you during the night. Avoid the nightmare by putting the effort in while they are young and bedtime will turn into a time of day you look forward to daily!!! I promise.

My children are ages 18, 8 and six and we have absolutely no bedtime issues at our home.  My older child is independent enough that he has handled his own bedtime for years, my girls are almost as easy. Believe it or not, at 8:30 pm nightly, I just tell my girls it's bedtime. They brush their own teeth, change into their pajamas independently, get into their beds on their own and they GO TO SLEEP! If you create healthy sleep habits now, it will be the same for your household!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ten signs It's Snowing in Nashville

We had the most amazing snow day back a few weeks ago here in Nashville. I know, I know-all of you Yankees don't really understand our excitement when we get an inch of snow. You also don't understand why we close down the schools. It's also baffling to Northerners as to why when the "S" word is merely uttered, it seems all of the bread and milk in all of the grocery stores in town magically disappear. It doesn't matter-it's just a southern thing and I'll just say y'all wouldn't understand. (I realize my grammar in this last sentence was bad, I was simply attempting a little humor-read the sentence again with a southern drawl.) Anyway, here are a few pretty pics taken by my hubby. Thankfully he's decided to make photography his new hobby and I'm loving it! 
 Here's my silly list to read while viewing our snow day pics:

Ten Signs It's Snowing in Nashville

1) You wake up to the "Snowbird" music and everyone sits around the TV in eager anticipation of Metro school closings. The announcement becomes the most important announcement since Twinkies went into oblivion. 

2) The kids start pulling out the sled and snow shovel-and start searching for a carrot and something that resembles coal eyes. While they're searching... the snow melts.

3) You overhear a Yankee talking about how dumb southerners are for closing the schools because of the  threat of snow. 

4) You overhear the same Yankee the next day discussing their vehicle performing several donuts on the slippery ice before going into a ditch. 

5) People are seen outside of their houses taking pictures of their house with snow on it. Your Facebook feed is filled with those pictures. Their pictures are also featured on the local news as a story.

6) Local programming is canceled so TV stations can constantly update you on the latest wrecks, icy overpasses and black ice. Meanwhile, you realize the newscasters are so exhausted from the long hours you are starting to confuse them with the zombies from the "Walking Dead."

7) People who live on steep hills set up a viewing area inside of their homes to watch cars wreck going too fast down the hill. You know, because some people don't understand that Lisa Van Camp said stay off of the roads.

This is the biggest snowman we could make!
8) The kids go outside with ambitions of building an igloo, a giant snowman or possibly an ice slide. They finally realize they will be lucky to make an 8 inch baby snowman.

No, we don't care we are cold-we're making snow angels
9) Although they canceled school, all of the snow and ice is melted by noon. You later spot someone outside jogging in shorts.

My Snow babies
10) Your kid suggests you make some "Snow Cream" like their friend from school told them they did with their parents at their much cooler house. They think you are mean for telling them no.  until you point out to them that the snow is merely laying on top of the place where your dog uses the restroom.

My little French girl

Not a care in the world

 We can't wait for it to snow again here in Nashville! 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Happy 18th birthday Will!

Sort of a Vandy themed cake

Eighteen-yes, he turned eighteen yesterday. I really cannot believe I have a child who can now legally vote or get married without my consent. That being said, my birthday boy only has ambitions of becoming a world-renowned research scientist and professor. Thank God. It does seem a little crazy that the same man standing next to me was the 7 lb, 3 0z newborn who looked up at me with his big blue eyes and won my heart. Wasn't that just yesterday? It's gone by way too fast. He wanted to keep his birthday celebration family only and very low-key (he knows low-key is not his mom). It was very, very difficult for me to sit on my hands and not throw him a big surprise party-even though his wish was to have a quiet day. We did a wonderful birthday lunch at his favorite restaurant, Famous Daves, and made him a great big steak for dinner. As we are now less than 200 days away from Will starting his freshman year at Vanderbilt University, he received all kinds of cool Vandy swag. Honestly, I want to buy everything I spot with any type of Vanderbilt insignia on it-I couldn't be prouder of him and the fact that he got into Vanderbilt-he truly achieved a dream he's had since he was a little bitty boy. We are still celebrating the letter he got from Vandy admissions back in December!

Will with his two biggest fans-his baby sisters. He's sporting
his new Vandy scarf and sweater vest-both gifts from his sisters
and us.

Will's Gran Gran bought him a Vandy bedspread-
he loved it!

Blowing out the candles 
Happy 18th Birthday Will! I could not be prouder of the man you have become. I look forward eagerly to watching your future unfold! Never forget though, no matter how grown up or successful you become-forever my baby you'll be.