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$40 date: Mambo Italiano

This weeks date place is a location that I have been going to for years. My family is originally from New Jersey and one thing my parents always looked for whenever we moved to a new town was a good place to get NY style pizza. So imagine the delight of young MandySue (circa 1999 freshman year of high school) when she was taken to a restaurant for a friend's birthday and discovered that yes Virginia, you can get NY style pizza in Memphis, tn. I went home and told my parents and my family had been dining at this establishment ever sense: The Brooklyn Bridge. 

Here's the deal with the bridge, it's not really a pizza place per say, it's actually a nice Italian place. Not only have I been on many dates there I've witnessed many dates there. But it's also a great family dining spot too and I've seen tons of large groups there as well. Here's my ambience shot to give you an idea: 

If you like wine and order entrees with a shared appetizer and dessert a couple is looking to spend about $100. But if you keep it simple with a pizza to share you can walk out on $40-ish. If you haven't learned this yet let me be clear: I absolutely love paying casual restaurant prices at nicer ambience places and this awesome combination will always move a place to the top of my list. 

When Shaun and I go we get cokes, because that's just what goes with pizza. The bridge provides a basket of bread with olive oil for dipping, yum! We like to get the spinach dip appetizer, and by we I mean I'm obsessed with it and Shaun likes it enough but likes to please me even more. 

Mmmm, so yummy! 

And then of course we share a pizza. We always get a large, mostly because the dynamics are off when the size of the pizza is reduced but also because it's only a few dollars more and is HUGE! Look: 

Depending upon our hunger mood we take home 2 to 4 slices. 

On our plan we spent $45 with tax and tip. Healthier minded people might skip the appetizer or sodas to keep it under $40. Or if you're ok going a little over get salads instead, two would be the price of one app I beleive. Since at least one of us gets another meal out of this I'm bending my rules a little to qualify this as a $40 date. 

Occasionally I do like to get the pastas here as they are oh so good but here's a pro tip: they offer appetizer portions if you just have a small pasta craving. Sub out two appetizer pastas and salads for the pizza and you'd spend the same. I might try that sometime but if you beat me to it let me know how it works out. Another pro tip: there usually are families dining there as well as couples on dates, if you ask to sit in the nook by the front window you'll be tucked away in a small area that only has 3 tables. You could also sit in the bar, but that's where the entrance is so there's lots of foot traffic. Final tip - the old basketball coach who shall not be named loves this place but current Coah Pastner is a regular as well so you might see him there with players. Keep it classy y'all and let people enjoy their dinner. 

Happy $40 dating! 

Lessons from Mommies

Usually I have a few blog posts in draft mode at a time. My mind works in a way where the ideas just swirl around in my head tormenting me until I write them down, and then I can move on, or perhaps sleep – sleep is a good thing. Right now my “thought provoking” post is about domestic violence and the role society has in the way we allow women to be viewed. Yeah, big topic I know so it’s taking me some time. One point I’m really stuck on though is how society is so fascinated by women’s bodies and while for the most part this really bothers me one of my points let me to a less snarky conclusion that I thought worth taking the deviation to share. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not a fan of women breastfeeding in public uncovered, but more so than the actual act I am REALLY irritated by the whole normalize breastfeeding movement. I really do not like when someone tells me how important it is that their child be fed from their breast RIGHT NOW when they are let’s say at the local Target or at a restaurant yet somehow their children magically do not have this need when Mom is at work, or out of town, or going out for the afternoon or evening sans baby and my favorite of all – drinking alcohol. I understand many moms must work to economically support said child and I understand moms need a life too but alcohol is completely unnecessary, no one “needs” half a bottle of wine to survive. No one will EVER convince me of the absolute necessity of breastfeeding in public if they are the type of Mom who likes to take time off to consume alcoholic beverages and make their milk temporarily unsuitable for baby. Go on and do it all you want but don’t try to convince me it’s the right thing to do. In general the more people like to shove their life decisions in my face the more turned off I am by the issue they are promoting. Lately though, I have seen several of my facebook friends do something positive, and it’s made me sit up and pay attention. It seems that I know a few ladies who are donating their excess breast milk. Even the Moms who love shoving their breastfeeding in people’s faces admit that pumping can be uncomfortable and is certaintly inconvenient. Yet here these women are spending their own time, suffering more discomfort and inconvenience than they have to to fed their own child because they believe in it that much. Ok ladies, you got my attention – and my respect. Oddly enough, these same women aren’t the ones posting pictures of their boobs on facebook and if they are the type to breastfeed in public they aren’t shouting the importance of doing so at the world. Their passion has not only made me notice what they are doing in a positive manner but it has made me curious and more open to the idea. I’ve heard breast milk described as liquid gold and witnessed meltdowns from Moms who lost the precious ounces they spent so much time pumping out and yet there are Moms so passionate that breast milk is best they are giving it away to strangers – These women are the real breastfeeding advocates. I have a vague understanding of how production of milk works in Mommies to understand that not everyone is capable of this excess production, and I do not fault anyone who simply has a hard enough time keeping up with their own child’s needs but it’s the spirit of the donations that I find to be so positive. Instead of the look at ME, look what I’m doing for MY child, omg why aren’t YOU eager to do this for YOUR child obnoxiousness that turns me off from the normalize movement it’s a group of Moms putting their milk where their mouth is, and that’s when I as an outsider can see how really important it is to them. I sit on the board of a nonprofit and am involved in several community organizations; one thing that is always very important when looking for corporate donors is the participation in giving from the board or membership. Did you know that alumni’s giving is part of the calculation when colleges are being ranked? It makes sense, don’t ask for my time or money (or both) if the cause really isn’t important enough to be worth your own time and money. Actions speak louder than words y’all, especially when they are someone else’s words – we all know how little effort it takes to share an article on Facebook. As many of you know I’ve been going through my own mama drama lately – doggie mama drama. At one point I had someone question why I wouldn’t “put down” Haley when I mentioned her surgery. At first I was really offended and thought why don’t I push you down a flight of stairs so you can be “put down” for having a broken leg; but you know what – MY dog just isn’t that important to people who aren’t me and I don’t need their approval. In my house Haley IS family, and I don’t give a flying rhymes with buck what anyone outside of our family thinks of the decision we have made. Why people would look to anyone besides their medical professionals for approval on how they care for their human children is a concept I simply cannot grasp. My point here is this: you do you. Do what’s in your best interest and your family’s best interest no matter what; and if you really think what’s right for your family is right for others pay it forward in a real, authentic way – not only will you be helping someone but you can inspire others and that’s some powerful stuff.

The Great Ronald Reagan

Like all good republicans I recently made the pilgrimage to the shrine of The Great Ronald Reagan . . . Actually I just begged the bf to consider a visit when I found out his parents lived an hour away but the opening line just has more flair about it. But here's my recap of our visit to The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: 

We arrived around 9:45 on Labor Day, the library opens at 10am. The library is set at the top of a hill in Simi Valley, CA and it is a beautiful setting. On the lamp posts up the hill are flags for each American President leading up to Reagan , and on the way down are the ones after him - agh, this cute attention to detail alone told me I would love this place. The front of the library looks like a beautiful ranch home in a very typical Cali style with a center courtyard 

Inside the lobby are the names of big donors engraved on the granite walls - lets just say this place has BIG money invested in it. The tour begins down a long hallway that serves as a waiting area while you wait for the next intro film to start, you can also take the time to pose with the Ronald and Nancy statues, which we did 

Note: I wore my Lilly Pulitzer tusk on sun scarf just for this visit ( elephant print). I love theme dressing and the staff there loved it too! 

We watched the intro film and I was pumped, Go America! For the record, I actually enjoyed the film at the Clinton library too - I think it's really hard to not feel patriotic at presidential libraries. The exhibit then begins with Reagan's early life - I always wondered how he went from actor to politician , now I know (to sum it up he was a key player in a Screen Actors Guild strike negotiation, became SAG president, became a spokesman touring the country and from there went into politics). One thing I really enjoyed learning about was the relationship between Ronald and Nancy, it's very sweet and even brought me to tears at one point. 

Several love letters on display, this is one he wrote for Mother's Day

The exhibit then moves on to Reagan's time as Governor of California and then the Presidential Campaign. One this that was really fun about the library was all the photo opps provided, like this: 

Hey look, I'm at Reagan's inauguration three years before I was born 

The library also covers the assassination attempt and has video footage from three different vantage points. I thought it was a little startling for young ones but the staff member were not encouraging families to continue past the video. 

The suit President Reagan was wearing when shot 

After the mood is lightened with life in the White House. 

In the replica Oval Office 

There's a film with clips of entertainers that performed at the White House, displays of Presidential gifts, and an interactive area on White House entertaining. 

I passed the etiquette quiz but was disappointed in missing 3 questions. 

We also got to design our own presidential china, here's mine: 

Next was a room all about First Lady Nancy Reagan

A case of Nancy's FLOTUS clothing including her Second Hand Rose costume 

So in the begining of the presidency Nancy was criticized a lot for her White House renovations and fancy clothes - she did a hilarious Second Hand Rose act in thrift store clothing making fun of herself and that was the end of that - too funny! 

At this point we had reached the half way point of the exhibit and decided to break for lunch. There are two cafes on site with reasonable prices, we spent $50ish on four people which I was impressed with for a captive audience. Plus, here was our awesome lunch view: 

After lunch it was time for the main event: AIR FORCE ONE! 

Seriously, the entire plane. See: 

Photos were not allowed in Airforce One, which was not nearly as fancy as Harrison Ford's in the action movie Air Force One but still pretty freaking cool, they did have lots of fun information . . . 

Flags of all the countries Airforce One flew to during the Reagan administration 

And information on the destination flights by year. 

There was also a cool video on bringing the plane to the library, the hanger was built around it. And the hanger itself is very nice: 

Outside Airforce One they took souvenir photos. And as if this isn't cool enough they had a presidential limo and Marine One: 

I mean seriously, now you know what I mean about big money. 

After this awesomeness the exhibit continued with interactive information on the domestic issues during the Reagan Presidency; I found this especially neat as I was born in 1984 so I was interesting to see what was going on during that time. 

The exhibit then turns towards foreign policy, especially the Berlin walk and shows a film about communism. The exhibit was very dark but the library has a piece of the wall outside 

 This is an actual piece of history! 

The exhibit covers Reagan's efforts to meet with many foreign heads of state and gives special attention to his relationship to Gorbachev 

Other foreign policy and events were covered included the Iran Contra scandal, at this point our group was getting a little tired but luckily Im a fast reader, I learned more in this room that years of US history in school. 

Next was a room on Reagan and his focus on the American people and had information on various individuals and groups he honored during his term. They also had a piece of the twin towers from 9-11, I didn't really get why. 

The mood lightened with a room on Camp David and the Reagan's ranch. Reagan was gifted lots of saddles and belt buckles during his presidency and some of those were on display. 

It was also time for another dorky photo opp 

Shaun didn't get the angel quite right but oh well, it was still fun. 

The exhibit ended with Reagan post presidency, showed some of the honors that has bestowed upon him by other countries and had a brief discussion of his time with Alzheimer's. There was a hallway that showed several clips from his funeral and discussed the world's reaction to his passing and this led to a theater that showed a small film on Reagan's legacy to conclude the tour. After we viewed the grounds and paid our respects as the library is also Reagan's final resting place. We left at little after 4pm so this was an all day activity for our group. 

Personally I think Reagan is one of the best President's this country has had but Bill Clinton loving Shaun disagrees - we both enjoyed our day at the library and we both thought it was very well done. Eventually we want to see all the presidential libraries as they are a nice part of American history. Without visiting others besides Bill's I feel fairly confident in saying Reagan's is the largest. I'm really glad we got to go and hope y'all enjoyed reading about our visit. 

God Bless America! 

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