Religion, politics, sex, and breastfeeding

By Becky Andrews


Besides religion, politics and sex there’s one more hot button issue that should be added to that list of taboo topics never to be discussed in mixed company. Not war. Not equal pay. Not even the latest shocking elimination on Dancing with the Stars. Nope, it’s breastfeeding. I understand that because this word actually includes part of the female anatomy some would argue it falls under the ‘sex’ category but trust me, it shouldn’t.

When my oldest child was born, I had every intention of doing things the ‘right’ way. No television, strict feeding and sleeping schedule, classical music piped in the nursery daily, cloth diapers and because all the books and medical research proved that breastfeeding would make my little genius even smarter and healthier, I would breastfeed for at least a year. After six months and 6 brand new razor sharp teeth emerged, I decided to quit.

A few weeks later I was out to lunch with a friend when a lady approached asking the standard questions, “How old is he? Is he crawling? Eating solids?” And out of left field, “Are you breastfeeding?” I explained that I did for ‘6 WHOLE MONTHS!’ With a disappointed look, she introduced herself as a member of La Leche and went on to explain how much smarter my child would have been had I continued to breastfeed.  Now because of my selfishness he would probably be overweight as an adult and struggle with low self-esteem. I was crippled with fear. 

Shortly after this incident, my little guy was diagnosed with an ear infection. When my dad found out, he insisted that if I’d continued breastfeeding his grandson wouldn’t be sick.  He went on and on about how it was so good for the baby and how my mother enjoyed every minute of it and blah, blah, blah.  When my mother explained to him that unless you possess a uterus, you have ZERO credibility in this matter, he let it go.

Four years later my youngest joined the family. I decided that nothing would stop me from breastfeeding for at least a year. I was going to prove to myself, La Leche and everyone else that I could be a weapon of mass lactation. As most of you know, when that second or third child comes along your ‘plans’ change. Two weeks after he was born, I stopped breastfeeding.

For the next 3 months, when we were out at the grocery or any public place I was prepared for strangers to ask a question whose answer would reveal my status as an unfit mother.

At his next well baby visit my pediatrician went over all the usual items; weight, length, where he ranked compared to other babies, etc. Then she asked if he was taking a bottle or breast. That was it! I don’t care how many degrees she had, she wasn’t going to bully me into feeling bad.

“No, I’m not breastfeeding. It’s not for me. And, yes I know that this means he won’t be as smart as his peers. What is so wrong with being average? My mom breastfeed all 6 of my brothers and sisters for 2 years and my younger brother never finished college.  And so what if he’s overweight as an adult, who isn’t in America? Not that it’s any of your business, but I can bond just as well by feeding him a bottle. He coos just as much as his big brother did at this age. I also know I’d probably lose all this baby weight faster, whatever! I am so sick of people asking me about this. I’d feel more comfortable telling you who I was going to vote for in the next presidential election.”

The doctor made a quick note in the chart, looked up with a smile and said, “So… Who ARE you voting for?”

Comments about anything besides Politics, religion, sex or breastfeeding? Email Becky at

Share This:

Sound the Alarm!

By Angel Kane


As we arrived home on Sunday, the car doors could not open fast enough, as one after the other, our children jumped out and then slammed the doors behind them.

It had started much like any other Sunday.

Brody’s alarm clock went off at the crack of dawn for church. For years I have begged him to buy a new alarm clock but instead he insists on one he has had since his college days. The sound emanating from it is definitely old school – a cross between a fog horn and tornado siren.

We’ve been married over two decades now and the sound still unnerves me to my core. And yet, ironically, it doesn’t cause me move any faster.

About 9 or so, when Brody saw that Zoe and I were painting our nails with rollers still atop our heads, watching our shows and playing on our phones, he began sounding the alarm.

“It’s 9 o’clock, the car is leaving at 9:30, we are not going to be late!”

I hit snooze. 

“It’s 9:15, you guys are not even dressed! I will leave whoever is not ready!”

I hit it again. Going from “snooze” to “off”.

“It’s 9:25, Neill and I are getting in the car! Neill get in the car!”

At 9:40 is when he started honking the car horn.

Which in the history of marriage, let me tell you, does not make any wife move faster.

At 9:45 he sent Neill in to find us.

“Daddy says he is leaving both of you,” he parroted with a look of utter defeat as we girls pushed past him, barefoot with freshly painted nails, looking for open toed shoes that would not mess up our pedicures.

At 9:50, we were “Finally!” on our way to church.

At 9:51 is when I noticed not one of us had our phones.

Alarm, Alarm, Alarm!!!

“Stop, you have to go back, nobody has a phone!”

In the recent history of the Kane family, this has NEVER happened. But Sunday was an oddity. The kids had both had their phones taken up the night before when they decided a wrestling match was the way in which to determine whose turn it was to put up the laundry. Brody’s phone was on the counter charging and because I was so rushed, mine was still in my robe pocket.

“I’m not going back. We’ll just have to talk to each other.”

Church was fine. And then we went to lunch.

At first we spoke to a few people we ran into at the restaurant, then we talked to each other, and then the waitress, and then each other again. And that went on for what felt like an eternity… until someone offended someone, which led to immediate retaliation, which led to more offensive remarks and at the end of the phone free lunch… no one was speaking to anyone.

So as they slammed their respective doors and marched into the house, I looked at Brody, “This is your fault. If you would just buy an alarm with a more soothing tone…birds chirping, instrumental music, the sounds of waves crashing…I’d definitely choose to move a lot faster in the morning.”


He hit snooze.

Share This:

The Roast

Free-trade coffee, live music, and cool vibes actually are available in Lebanon… and brought to you, unexpectedly, by the Salvation Army


By Tilly Dillehay

Photos by Jana Pastors


29743245795_874a2463da_zIt’s 11 pm on a Friday night. Do you know where your children are?

If they’re in their teens or twenties and from Wilson County (or among the local college crowd), there really aren’t that many options. In Lebanon after 10 pm, there’s really just Walmart, McDonalds, and the local bar scene.

Until the Salvation Army decided to do something about it.

In May of 2013, The Roast opened its doors. Located just off of Lebanon square, but on one of those little side streets you have to feel around for, The Roast is a coffee shop and music venue that is open just two nights a week, to fill a very specific time slot. Friday and Saturday, 7-12, they offer a “nighttime alternative” to partying or heading home early, says Wilson County Salvation Army Director Tom Freeman.

“Because we do a lot of mentoring and outreach in the community… I‘ve got young guys and young girls, and they’re telling me that other than the bars around here, there’s Walmart and there’s McDonalds. When we came here some of the other coffee houses in town closed at like 2 pm. There was no nightlife. So the idea is to provide a great alternative location for people to build friendships and make connections.

29451850450_f203c3854f_z“We’ve got a full espresso bar with other types of drinks, seasonal drinks… it’s really good stuff. 100% volunteer based. All our baristas are trained and trained well. We use locally roasted coffee out of Murfreesboro that’s fair-trade and organic. But the coffee is just an excuse to open the doors and see different groups of people interact and enjoy being here.”

Freeman says that there are a broad variety of patrons on a given night at The Roast. While many of them are young—college age, high school age even—there are a fair number of people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who make The Roast their final stop for the night.

The coffee is actually “pay as you can.” The Roast has a recommended amount on their menu, but if you can pay a little more or less than that, it’s fine. “The majority of people, when you say ‘hey, this is what it costs us to provide this drink’, they’ll pay it,” said Freeman. “They love the idea.”

29631555842_4fb67fca48_zBaked good are free with your drinks, because they’re donated by the local Sweet Things Bakery. There’s even a “cup for the wall” tradition, where patrons pay for an extra drink and hang a cup on the wall. Then, when someone comes in who just doesn’t have money on them, they can claim a cup off the wall. A stranger has bought them a cup.

“And if someone comes in who really has nothing, maybe someone who’s homeless or something, they’ll get a free drip coffee at least; we don’t want anyone to be turned away,” says The Roast Events Coordinator Beracah MacDonald.

Donations to The Roast don’t fully cover the cost of keeping it open, but Freeman, who directs Salvation Army efforts throughout the county, says he makes it a priority to keep it supported.

“We have a faithful few [volunteers] who really commit to make this work,” says Freeman, “and it’s wonderful. When you pull back and look at all the things the Salvation Army has going in Wilson County, times when I look at a budget line and see The Roast and say ‘Man, I don’t know if we can keep this going’, it’ll inevitably be a great weekend that weekend, and I’ll just think ‘No, we have to find a way.’”

29743249675_8bf5ccbe4f_zMacDonald has tried out all kinds of creative events at The Roast. They book live music and hold popular open mic nights. Then there are the special events. They had a “Sip ‘n Shop,” with ten or twelve vendors setting up one weekend. They’ve had Canvas Nights in the past—an insanely popular event where patrons pay $5 and get a canvas to paint while they sip. On November 12, they’ll be holding a bake off—anyone can bring a baked good to enter, and then people donate $2-3 to sample, and there will be judges who pick winners in different categories.

On Dec. 3, the Kettle Kickoff (for the Salvation Army’s bell-ringing, Christmastime fundraiser you’re probably familiar with) for Wilson County will be hosted at The Roast. The kickoff is just a big Christmas party, basically, with Christmas music, more baked goods than usual, and an ugly sweater contest.

The Roast is located at 216 S Maple Street, Lebanon. For information about upcoming events and live music, visit their Facebook page.

Share This:

Good, clean laughs

Lebanon original Brian Bates has gone pro… as a comedian


By Laurie Everett

You could say Brian Bates is a thriving late bloomer. He’s blossomed in the comedic world after working in corporate America for nearly 20 years. And by “corporate America,” I mean News Channel 5, where he worked in all realms of upper management, including as the executive director of Talk of the Town and also producer of News Channel 5 Plus.

And, no, this seismic career shift was not a mid-life crises, but more of a wild hare for someone who truly believes you only live once and if you don’t take chances, untapped talents will go, well, untapped.

To leave a steady paycheck, a loving work family and a comfortable future wasn’t necessarily a piece of cake for Bates, 44, who admits the last six months he worked at Channel 5, he squirreled that paycheck away and lived solely on earnings from his budding career in comedy.

335985_10151649869056992_1139501176_o“I loved my job in the news business,” says Bates, who is a Lebanon native. “And, yes, it was hard to leave that family, but everyone was so supportive.”

Along with support from work colleagues and friends, Bates’ number one supporter is mom Helen. It’s because of his love for his mother, Bates is in rare form behind the mic as a celebrated “clean performer” in an oftentimes vulgar world.

“I was raised to be a Christian,” he says simply. “I do not talk dirty and vulgar. That’s not me. Sometimes it’s a challenge to follow comedians who use shock humor.”

And it takes a lot more creativity and talent to get the laughs without using racy, titillating, down in the mud antics. But on the other hand, there’s a lot of work out there in the corporate world on stage, and at churches, civic halls and comedy clubs; all places that want a “clean” opening act.

For a guy who was raised in a rather well known Lebanon family – his dad was Denver Bates of the realtor world and passed in 2006 – to shine on stage at Nashville’s Zanies Comedy Club this past May was “a dream come true.”

On his night, the club was packed, almost without his beloved mom, though.

“Yes, it was ‘church night,’” Bates says with a smile. “And mom doesn’t miss church night. I finally convinced her a bigger miracle that night would be watching me perform at Zanies…”

Helen made it to her son’s Zanies debut, but only after she attended church at a nearby church that enabled her to get both accomplished in one fell swoop.


Road to comedic chops

Bates with Tim Allen

A common irony, Bates says he’s a bit of an introvert. So true for many comedians, Bates has a quiet demeanor off stage, but has always been told he’s “funny.” When his dad passed in 2006 he found himself looking for a “cathartic boost of spirit.” In 2007 he took a random plunge and enrolled in a four-week comedy class at Zanies.  He was 35 years old at the time.

“The teachers and students were great,” he recalls. “I enjoyed it so much. You don’t know what you don’t know. Rik Roberts was my teacher and now my mentor.”

Bates learned entry-level comedy writing (a far cry from the news casts he wrote so many years) and performance. Right away, Bates knew he loved it so much it became a “very serious hobby overnight.” He began to get booked more and more often. For eight years he juggled his full time news gig with making people laugh on the side.

His comedy is hilarious and unabashedly self-deprecating. His extensive experience in the working world gives him a wealth of material.

“I get a lot of material from the newspaper and local events,” he explains. “I practice and try out my jokes and look for ways to improve.”

His practice run at saving all his corporate earnings for six months proved it worked, and in December 2014 he resigned his job at Channel 5 and became a full time comedian. He tours the nation as a headliner stand up comedian in comedy clubs and theatres, as well as touring with some big names like Henry Cho and Nate Bargatze.

Bates as a guest on Talk of the Town

Just recently he showcased at the Ryman in Nashville. Many times he sees fans he met while in school at Lebanon High and Middle Tennessee State University.


Back to his insanely funny material

“My mom is a big inspiration in my act,” he says with a laugh. “I talk about family life and daily encounters. I point out that basically we are all the same. We all have the same insecurities and concerns. I just share examples of them.”

His mom’s struggles with technology get laughs, as well as his dating life, “or lack thereof.” And while he admits in the real world, he’s not the life of the party, but is a very keen observer, which makes for endless possibilities with his comedy career.

“Yep, my brain is wired more to observe and take things in,” he says.

And when he’s not polishing his material for the next show, Bates “takes things in” like utilizing his Titan’s season pass, going to the movies at Providence Theatre, reading on his Kindle, being a “meat and potatoes type of guy” and frequenting Cracker Barrel and Demos’.

A selfie with Jon Lovitz

As for future acts, they will delve deeper into what it’s like being a single guy in his 40’s and “desperately searching for a wife” in this day and age.  However, that quest will be challenging because the work is pouring in. One night recently he managed three open mics. It’s seven days a week, lots of travel and no vacations.

He loves the view from his home in East Nashville, and he might even go out on a limb and get a dog. His idols in the comedy world are Jerry Seinfeld and Brian Regan. And this month his first album will be released, called “Easy Out.”

His cosmic career shift has been a home run, however, from the looks of his huge fan base, locally and afar.

“Goes to show you can fulfill your dreams, no matter what stage of life you’re in,” he says.

To see where he’ll be next and to get the latest go


Share This:

3 ways to wear a Nikibiki

Nikibiki is a brand that offers layering items. Camisoles, long sleeve liners, bandeaus, bralettes, and leggings… in a myriad of colors. Simple items like these always come in handy when it’s layering season, and you’ll find a selection of them in almost every boutique you enter in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet. So we asked three local boutiques to put together a full outfit utilizing the Nikibiki.

Like any good undergarment, you may not always be able to see it, but you need it just the same. Used in this shoot were the black Nikibiki bralette, and the nude Nikibiki crew neck top.


Model: Mattie Post

Hair By:  Erika Glaskox for Beauty Boutique Salon, Spa & Apparel and Kevin Murphy

Makeup By:  Necole Bell for Beauty Boutique Salon, Spa & Apparel

Photos: Lisa Rubel Photography,

Outfit #1: Faux-suede miniskirt, crew neck Nikibiki in nude, safari jacket, suede choker, shoes, and knee socks by Dreams Boutique (extra necklaces by Southern Swank).




Outift #2: Maroon minidress, black Nikibiki bralette, denim jacket with inset, hat, necklaces, and shoes by Southern Swank.



Outfit #3: Blush tunic dress, jean leggings, and earrings by Aqua Bella. Choker and cuff by Beauty Boutique. Nikibiki bralette by Southern Swank.



Share This:

The Outskirts of Town

Rick Bell remembers life before west Lebanon boomed


By Rick Bell   

A few months ago, my family moved into the house where I grew up. For my wife Necole and my stepdaughter Isabella, it created more space while we build a new home. For me, it brought memories of my youth.

When I walk through the kitchen, I can visualize my mom Elaine cooking dinner while talking with my grandmother on the telephone. In the days before cordless phones, the cord could stretch across the room.

When I take the trash to the driveway, I remember my dad Charles beating me at H-O-R-S-E. He only shot free throws, and he never missed. I also remember my sixteenth birthday when my dad and I returned from a Tennessee football game to find my new car sitting under the carport. It was wrapped in a giant ribbon and bow.

Headed to senior prom

When I am allowed in Isabella’s room, memories from two time periods come rushing back. When that room belonged to my older brother, I wanted to hang out with him and his high school friends while they listened to music. When the room belonged to me, I listened to music and played video games.

When I walk through the backyard, I can still see the bell-shaped swimming pool that was there for decades. That is where my mom taught me how to swim and where Vacation Bible School always spent one day out of the week.

When I pull into the driveway, I remember a Halloween party from my elementary school days. My parents covered the yard with scary props. On a foggy night, my brother saw them in his headlights and was too scared to get out of the car. The props probably scared him more than they scared my elementary school friends. I also remember pulling into the driveway after a weekend night out with my friends. The T-Tops were out, and the radio was blasting.

The house creates a ton of memories of everyday events, but it also brings forth memories of the way things used to be. A few years before my birth, my parents bought some acreage along a two-lane highway on the outskirts of town, and my grandfather J.W. Vanhook built the house with his father Will Vanhook doing some of the carpentry work. Being outside the realm of city services, they also had to dig a well for water and put in a septic tank. We did not even have a street address. Instead, we lived on a rural route.

home-rick-bellDespite the mail listing, we did not live in the countryside. There was a country store with a couple of gas pumps across the road. Next to the store sat Bethlehem Methodist Church. When I was small, I always wondered why we drove to the other side of town to First Baptist Church instead of going to the one across the street, which seemed to be the easiest thing to do.

Several homes were scattered along the highway, and I believe that our neighbors thought the same thing that we did when we got into the car and headed east. We were “going to town.” Of course, that meant driving some miles. Along the way, we passed Snow White Drive-In, Maple Hill Church of Christ and a few businesses. However, we were not officially in town until we got to Dick’s Food Market, which was in the strip mall where CVS now stands.

As I grew, the area around our house also grew. My grandfather, my dad and others developed the farm across the

Playing basketball with Dad

road into the neighborhood of Shenandoah before creating Horn Springs Estates. As the years passed, there came Richmond Hills. Then, my aunt Nancy Eubank built Southfork, and my aunt Peggy Keel developed Geer’s Place.

With a scattering of houses along the highway turning into neighborhoods filled with hundreds of homes, businesses expanded our way. Kroger moved into a complex that also contained K-Mart and the Martin Triple, Lebanon’s first multi-screen theater where I spent many Friday and Saturday nights. Eventually, Kroger moved across the road and created space into which more businesses moved. It also made a great turning point for those of us who liked to “Cruise the Main” in high school.

Suddenly, our house was no longer on the outskirts of town. The City of Lebanon annexed the land and brought services into the area. With convenient commerce and sewer, the situation changed. We no longer had to “go to town.” We were in town, and a lot of other people, who lived in places like Five Oaks, were in town, as well.

When we moved back into the house, we moved into a different world than the one where I grew up. Although I still listen to the same music, I am no longer the kid playing video games. My wife and I are the adults with all of the responsibilities. However, the differences are also on a larger scale.

Decorating the tree with Mom

The two-lane highway is now a five-lane road. Bethlehem Methodist Church does not sit next to a country store. It sits next to an office building and the neighborhood of Waters Hill. One of the houses in which my grandparents lived is now Cumberland Animal Hospital. Maple Hill Church of Christ is still located across from Snow White Drive-In, but it is also between Sports Village and Publix. When we “go to town,” we pass a continuous line of businesses that include Beauty Boutique Salon and Spa, which is owned by my wife.

The area where I grew up is now the City of Lebanon’s Ward 6, and I am proud to serve that ward on the city council. For years, it has been a prime location for development, and land values have steadily risen. To continue that trend, we need to insure that this area continues to develop responsibly, with neighborhoods like Iroquois, which was developed by Mark Brown and my brother Jack, and Hamilton Springs, a transit-oriented neighborhood being my developed by my brother and me.

When I was a kid, the outskirts on the west side of Lebanon was a great place to grow up. As more people moved into the area and it became part of the city, it continued to be a great place to live. With more growth on the horizon, I want the children of the future to be as happy living here as I was living on that rural route on the outskirts of town.

Share This:

The Nov-Dec 2016 issue is here!

cover-pick-with-bike…in this issue





















Share This:

Happiness on hold and other DIY mommy projects

By Andrea Hagan


My kids and I love visiting the library.  As an adult, you get to relive those great childhood memories of your library, excited to pick a few new books to take home.  I allow my daughter to check out two books at a time; otherwise, we’d wind up losing them.  She went through a stage where it was great fun to place items in various locations throughout the house (Mom’s hairbrush shoved in the onion bin in the pantry, check!  Mom’s bra tied around lion’s neck, check!  Mom’s wedding ring under the trampoline, check!)

I like to check out a few books too, usually cookbooks.  While perusing the cooking section, I stumbled up “The Happiness Project,” a book that had obviously been mishelved (Can’t blame my daughter, she was in the stroller at the time…).  This is an older book I vaguely remember hearing about back when I had the time to read one book a week, ie before children.  I decide to check it out.  Why not?  What mom couldn’t use a little more happiness? 

Fast forward three months later.  I am exactly on page three, having renewed this book a total of four times.  I’m almost embarrassed to attempt a fifth renewal, afraid the librarian will see this in the computer system and say, “Lady, you’re delusional!  You and I both know that you are not going to make the time to read this book!  Extension denied!  With a big thud of the stamper on the card in the back of the book (Well, there are no more stampers or cards in the back of the book as everything is now electronic, but it would certainly make for a more dramatic effect).  A hush would fall over the library, everyone would turn from their board backed periodicals (okay, their Facebook pages on the library computers) to stare at the woman who simply could not find the time to be happy.  Shamefully, I would exit the library with nothing to show for the humiliation except for my daughter’s two Clifford books that I could dramatically reenact if called upon, having painfully read and reread. 

There were all sorts of projects and plans that simply never happened.  For example, I was going to organize all my daughter’s pictures and make several collage canvases and baby books by her first birthday Never happened as we are now at age three.  The shadow boxes of newborn keepsakes still adorn my dining room table, a project that at least got started.

I’m not going to say that happiness is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, because that is too cliché.  Maybe the lesson here is that the very essence of happiness cannot be turned into a project or captured in a DIY book.  That my happiness today was my daughter snuggling in my lap for a few minutes or my son looking up at me from his crib, smiling and holding up his arms, waiting for me to pick him up from his nap.  At least that’s what I’ll tell that judgmental librarian when I return the unread Happiness Project book next week….


Till next month!

Share This: