Keith Urban Raise ‘Em Up Tour 2014 in Virginia Beach….Oh what an amazing night!!!

Karol and I have seen Keith Urban perform 4 times.  Our very first date was to a Keith Urban concert.  We would ride around in my car with the sun roof open singing Keith Urban songs together even before we were a couple.  “Our” song was Love Somebody Like You by Keith Urban.  So I suppose you could say he is part of the bedrock of our relationship. In fact, Karol introduced me to Keith Urban music when we started hanging out in 2003.  I was not much of a country music fan.  I have always been more into Alternative music like The Cranberries, Collective Soul, Green Day, Pearl Jam, among others. So although he had been playing for years, I didn’t “meet” him until 2003.

As I said, our first “date” was his concert in Virginia Beach in 2004.  It wasn’t really a “date” per se. We were just exploring our feelings, and were very tentative and shy, but that concert really set things in motion, so I thank Keith for the 10 years I have shared with this beautiful creature.  But I digress……back to Keith.

He had not been back to Virginia Beach since 2004.  He did come back to the Hampton Roads area in 2011, and played at The Hampton Coliseum. That was an amazing show. He had multiple stages, some way out in the audience so we could all get a good glimpse and he gave away a guitar to a little girl when he went up to the “nosebleed” seats and played up there.  He is amazing!  I have only seen two other music Stars come out into the audience like that: Michael Franti and Patrick Monahan (front man for Train). (we go to lots of concerts…they are our “thing”).

So when she heard that Keith was coming back to Virginia Beach for his Keith Urban Raise ‘Em Up Tour in Virginia Beach , she wanted tickets!  I was happy to oblige.  I joined Keith’s fan group The ‘Ville in order to get a code for Presale tickets.  I was sitting at the computer as soon as the tickets went on sale, and bought them 10 minutes prior to the Presale even beginning. (A perk for paying to join The ‘Ville).  I was so excited to get tickets to the Orchestra section seat 46 and 47.  I told Karol and she was stoked.

As the date for the concert got closer, I reexamined our tickets and realized the tickets I had purchased were not for seats, but General Admission in the Pit, and we would be standing with lots and lots of other sweaty people who would be drinking, possibly heavily.  This did not make me happy.  So I talked with Karol and she said she did not want to be in the Pit either, so I began a frantic ticket selling and buying extravaganza.

I went to Craigslist to sell and (hopefully) purchase new tickets without breaking the bank.  I had an excellent previous experience purchasing tickets to see Imagine Dragons, (one of the top 3 shows I have EVER been to by the way). So I listed my tickets  and received quite a few emails and texts within 10 minutes.  In fairness I responded to the first person to ask for the tickets.  We corresponded via text message and he said he would meet me in Virginia Beach at my office to exchange the tickets for cash.  Then after we made the arrangements I never heard back from him, so I went to the next person on the list.  She panned out and was very excited to get her tickets.  Interestingly she had purchased seats already, but her mother wanted to be closer, so she was looking for tickets in the Pit.

During this time I was looking for tickets of my own.  Even thought “by the rules” people are not supposed to sell tickets for more than face value, I saw tickets selling for 200.00 each on Craigslist.  I knew that was scalping….to be honest it pissed me off.  I did not even respond to those people.  Then I found a “real” deal.  A man was selling two tickets with VIP passes and preferred parking for what seemed like a fair price.  Probably true face value including the exorbitant fees added by Ticket Master and Live Nation. So I contacted him, and although he was from Richmond, he was getting ready to vacation in Williamsburg, (45 minutes from my house) and we agreed to meet there.  I drove up and purchased the tickets. He was happy to sell them and I was super happy to get them.

The seats were amazing, and we were so happy to have the preferred parking and VIP lounge tickets.  So off we went to the concert.  This is how close we were to the stage:

Row C seat 1 and 2.  AWESOME!!

Row C seat 1 and 2. AWESOME!!

We were READY for the Keith Urban Raise ‘Em Up Tour in Virginia Beach!

Karol and I are ready for Keith!

Karol and I are ready for Keith!

I took LOTS of photos during the concert.  I only took one video, honestly because the Farm Bureau Staff kept telling people not t video and we were right on the aisle by at least three staff members keeping people from coming down by us or sneaking into the pit area.

Keith Urban Raise 'Em Up Tour in Virginia Beach

Of course I took pictures close up as well.  To be honest I usually rely on the big screens on each side of the stage to see him well, but this time I had to crane my neck to even see those.  We were so close I could see his face from my seat.  CLEARLY!! It was amazing!

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I was really surprised that the Pit area was NOT jam packed, and people were behaving themselves.  It made me regret not staying in there JUST a bit.

KU8At one point he brought a young lady from Virginia Beach onstage with him to sing “We Were Us” which is a duet with Miranda Lambert.  She was awesome and Keith was so sweet to her.  She also brought her boyfriend onstage and he played guitar.  What an amazing night for them.  You can find Sammi Rae Seachrist here. She did an amazing job.  Can you imagine being in front of tens of thousands of people and singing with Keith Urban?  I am sure she was nervous as all get out, but her nerves didn’t really show.  She was awesome!!


Keith really interacted with the crowd.  He signed a guitar from someone in the Pit, he walked back to the grass area where he had a stage set up and performed in the crowd, he brought a cute little girl wearing a pink cowboy hat and matching boots up on stage with him.  All in all it was a magical night.

One of the most amazing parts of the whole night in my opinion came AFTER he was finished singing.  I have been to probably over 40 concerts in my day.  I have seen Elton John, Billy Joel, Genesis, Tom Petty (3 times), Fleetwood Mac, and I have NEVER seen the band or artist do what Keith did after the show.

He didn’t leave the stage right away.  He stayed on the stage for at least 10 minutes.  Shaking hands and signing autographs, taking pictures, and just being his charming, polite self.

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It was awesome, and amazing, and then I did truly regret selling my tickets.  Oh well, there is always next time.

Right Karol?

Moroccan Chicken with Tomato, Potatoes and Peppers

My garden as been growing like crazy this summer.  I am not sure if my thumb got greener over the winter, or I have just learned enough about gardening to be more successful, or it is just magic. I did do some things differently this year: I made the garden bigger, I paid more attention to the last frost and planted 4 weeks after the last one, I used organic compost, and Karol built me a garden “box” complete with chicken wire to keep out critters.

And by critters I mean my dog Bailey. He had this bad habit of running through the garden and breaking plants and herbs, so this year Karol was innovative and the plants are Bailey proofed.

Bailey

Bailey

So the garden has been flourishing and I have been up to my ears in tomatoes and peppers in particular.  I wanted to find a way to use these veggies in a different and new recipe and I also had some potatoes in the pantry on the verge of getting soft that I wanted to incorporate into the dish, so I went and talked to my friend Google to see what I could find.

And I scored!  Google always has great ideas.  We have become very good friends over the years. I found a very interesting recipe using potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.  Sold!  It was called Moroccan chicken with peppers and tomatoes.  A usual, I looked it over, and modified it some to make it my own, and this is the result:

moroccan chicken

Moroccan Chicken with potatoes, peppers and tomatoes

4 boneless chicken breasts
3-4 baking (russet) potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 large fresh tomatoes, diced (or 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes)
3-5 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2-1 bell pepper, diced (use whatever color you choose)
1/4 cup olive oil
parsley (1/4 cup fresh or 2 tbs. dried)
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp cumin
a few pinches of saffron, if you’ve got it
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat oil and saute onion and garlic. Add chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper, parsley, paprika, saffron, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook about 20-25 minutes (until chicken is thoroughly cooked and just beginning to shred when handled much), stirring occasionally.

Add water as necessary to keep mixture wet and saucy (this really depends on your idea of “saucy”.  Add enough to keep it as saucy as you want it.) Add potatoes, and carrots cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are completely cooked. (I like my carrots a little crunchy, so I added them a bit after the potatoes).

If you want to eat in authentic Moroccan style, dish onto a large plate and serve with lots of bread (something crusty like French works well). The bread is a great way to sop up the sauce, and it is delicious so you want every drop.

**The original recipe also called for peas, which would have added a nice burst of color and flavor, but I felt there was enough starch with the potatoes, so I omitted them.

** You could serve this over rice or pasta to soak up some of the sauce, but I did not as I didn’t want to add more carbs.

So there you have it,  Moroccan Chicken with Tomato, Potatoes and Peppers. It was a hearty and delicious meal.  Even the kids liked it and have asked for me to make it again.  That my friends is high praise!!!

Why I reclaimed my Jewishness and Jewish Heritage as an adult

I was born Jewish.  My father was born Jewish. My mother was born a Southern Baptist but converted to Judaism prior to marrying my father, so I was born Jewish.  Being Jewish is passed through the mother not the father.  You might wonder why, (as I did), Jewishness is passed through the mother and not the father.  Of course until recent scientific advances in the 1980′s and 1990′s one could not prove paternity with over 90% accuracy, and it was the woman’s word against the man’s word.  However, these days with DNA testing being 99.9% accurate, their is little doubt about paternity if someone really wants to find out who is the “baby daddy”.

photo credit: wikimedia.com

photo credit: wikimedia.com

Being a Jew is passed through the  mother because being Jewish is not about our DNA it is about our soul.  According to Jewish custom the mother shapes the soul of a baby more than the father does.  That is because of the physical connection between the mother and baby while the mother is carrying the child.  The mother conceives the child, grows the child, feeds the child, removes it’s waste inside her own body, nourishes the child, and delivers the child to the world through her body.  The father’s is involved in creation of the child, but once the baby is conceived the father’s physical presence is external, and therefore distant.

photo credit:  Jewishbookcouncil.org

photo credit: Jewishbookcouncil.org

One could argue that the emotional and intimate connection between a father and child is just as deep as the one between the mother and the child, however, in physiological reality, the child is an extension of the mother’s body.  However, that physiological connection does not indicate the emotional and spiritual bond a child may have with the mother or father.  Indeed the child may bond more emotionally and deeply with a father than the mother, but according to Chabad.org  “Jewishness is passed down by the mother because being Jewish is a spiritual identity, it defines our very being. And our very being we get from our mother, both in body and in soul.”

All that being said, I married a Christian man, and we made two beautiful babies.  I had been told by my mother that Jewishness is passed down by the mother, (which is why she converted prior to having children), but I didn’t know how important that would become to me in the future.

While I was married to my husband we practiced Christianity because I was a “good wife” and let my husband dictate the spirituality of the family.  However, I never stopped hanging onto my “Jewishness”.  I always lit my Hanukkah candles with the menorah given to me when I was 16.  I even talked my husband into participating in a Passover Seder dinner or two during our marriage.  I always had him nail my Mezuzah (given to me by my father and mother) to the door frame of our home.  I suppose although externally I was being a “good” wife, internally I was going kicking and screaming, hanging onto whatever semblance of Jewishness I could.

The Mezuzah I have been carrying with me for 30 years.

The Mezuzah I have been carrying with me for 30 years.

In the past few years I have begun to reclaim my Jewishness and my Jewish heritage.  About 4 years ago I started having a Passover Seder with my family.  The first year I went all out, making potato Kugel, a brisket, and even forcing my family to eat gefilte fish. (I actually can’t stand gefilte fish, but I remember my mother “forcing” us to eat “just a bit of it” during the Seder’s I attended as a child.)  So I forced my family to eat it also.  That only lasted one year….  We don’t have gefilte fish anymore.

hagaddah

In fact, a few years ago my mother gave me the Hagaddahs, the handmade needlepoint cover for the matzo plate, and entire set of Passover dishes, and the Afikomen bag we used during my childhood.  These are treasured items for me.  I have dreams of continuing the family Seders and including my grandchildren someday and passing these things on to future daughters-in law.  (one can hope)

Interestingly a few years ago I tried to “modernize” the Passover Seder and downloaded the modern version of the Hagaddah which included an orange on the Seder plate (for inclusion of LGBT people) and had a more modern script.  Last year my kids told me they didn’t like it as much and preferred the “old fashioned” Hagaddah for the American Family (pictured above) that my family used during my childhood.  This actually made me proud.  They understood it, they “got” it.  They realized the importance of the Jewish traditions.  Well, not really.  They really liked the traditional “plague and wine part” , and they told me, “We like the one where you drink 4 glasses of wine because you get tipsy and we can get more stuff from you when we negotiate for the Afikomen.” Okay, so although I can have hopes, it boils down to what they can negotiate me out of……sigh…..    Oh well, at least they are using their brains!  And they know about negotiating for the Afikomen!  I call that a win!  (You can read about what negotiating for the Afikomen means here.)

The negotiations have definitely gotten more elaborate as the kids have gotten older.  I used to be able to pay the ransom with chocolate to the younger two and a big bag of sour patch kids to the oldest boy.  Now it is about money and CDs and lots of other things they dream about.  I think they have strategy talks while they are searching for the Afikomen every year.

My desire to reclaim my Jewish heritage has gotten stronger and stronger as I have aged.  It is so important to me to pass this heritage on to my children.  They both know they are Jewish.  They know some of the traditions:  Hanukkah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur.  I plan on using the next couple of years to teach them as much as I can before they leave my home to enter the world on their own. To ingrain their Jewishness in them enough that even if they don’t embrace it while they are young the seeds will be planted and I can hope they will grow and mature over the years so they will claim their Jewishness in their own lives!

In fact, I think We will be watching The Exodus as a family on Saturday so they can get a more clear picture of how Israel came into being.  I am sure they will be bored but I will bribe them with popcorn and homemade brownies and soda.  Make yummy snacks and they will come…..

Reclaiming my Jewishness is vitally important to me.  Instilling Jewish Heritage, and tradition into my kids is my mission. They are Jewish!

Being Jewish isn’t about religion, it is about our souls.