Archive | January, 2014

Atlanta’s Snow Day

29 Jan

I am so impressed with my city. People from up North or in the Midwest may laugh at our “little snow,” but we aren’t the North or the Midwest. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Or flowers and swimming. It just doesn’t make sense. Only two inches may have fallen, but the harrowing stories I heard from family and friends made me so glad to know that everyone made it home safely… even if it was eventually. There were over 1,200 accidents in Atlanta yesterday, and only 1 fatality. And the stories that have been posted about all those in the city taking care of others, of strangers… well, I have to admit, it made me cry to read about the generosity of our city. We may disagree at times or think we’ll never get along, but when there is trouble, we stick together.

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Walt and I made it to the grocery store after story time Tuesday morning. I realized, with the impending snow, that it had been a mistake to put off shopping all weekend. But, we needed food, so we got there about 11:20am. Upon leaving the store around 12:15pm, a lady waited five minutes for us to load our car so she could have our spot. Walter is clearly above wearing his hat in freezing weather, despite any admonishments.

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Dave’s view of traffic on West Peachtree about 1:30pm. He told me he was leaving ASAP, and I had been surprised his office let them all out early. Little did we know what was going to happen throughout the night. Luckily, it only took him an hour and a half to get home. I think that’s the quickest of anyone I know. Made me glad we live so close to his office.

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Our street, close to midnight.

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We were cold. Dave told me I looked very Russian.

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Today we were invited to finger paint with cute little A. We love our next door neighbors.

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Walt enjoyed the snow today without all the falling flakes and wind of yesterday. He got upset though after he realized how cold his hands get without his mittens on (they are discarded in the background). I shall be duct taping them on in Utah.

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Testing the roads today, 5:30pm. Mostly clear.

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Signs your child is ready for that vacation to Utah

28 Jan

First you have to see snow. While that is very rare in Atlanta, it happened.

Then you bundle your child up in the hat and mittens he won’t keep on, and those boots you luckily got ahead of time.

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What is this stuff, dad? And why are we out here?

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I’m going inside, no matter how many times you turn me toward the yard. Y’all can stay out here and throw snow at each other. And no, I’m not going to even touch it to see what it feels like.

It didn’t help when he came inside and slipped on his snow-filled boots. At least he enjoyed warming up by the fire. So, there’s something!

Utah

27 Jan

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In two weeks we will be in Utah.

I don’t usually go on cold weather vacations, but Dave’s family are skiers.

I just recently had to buy snow boots for Walt, because, well, we live in Atlanta. Not much use for them here. The lady at the store where I finally found some in his size said, “Yeah, um, stores are about to start selling spring clothes.” As if I was supposed to know that it was near impossible to find winter gear mid-winter.

Dave is intent on skiing with Walter strapped to his back. Somehow all my screaming has not dissuaded him of this idea.

I am looking forward to another trip with the family and showing Walt yet another aspect of this fantastic earth we live on. It should be beautiful. I’m just hoping we can convince him to keep on his hat and mittens so he doesn’t freeze his cute little self. Dave keeps telling me that it’s not going to be the arctic tundra I’m imagining, but I just don’t believe him.

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A hard day.

25 Jan

Earlier this week I got one of those phone calls. The type where you look at the caller ID and see it is someone you haven’t heard from in awhile. What are they calling about? you wonder. You pick it up and cheerfully say “Hello!” and the bitter pause after they say a teary hello back leads you to quickly go through the list of people you both know because one of them is dead.

A good man, someone I very much liked and respected, is no longer with us, and it breaks my heart to know that yet another person is gone too soon.

A not-so-gentle reminder that our time here on earth is short, precious, and not to be wasted. He had written back in response to our Christmas card this year, and I was planning on getting in touch with him to ask him to dinner. I hadn’t seen him in a while. And now, now it is too late.

Poetry by Kat

24 Jan

New blog series: poetry I wrote back in 2008.

I used to love writing poetry. I can’t believe it was already five years ago that I wrote my most recent poem. My poetry muse must have left me. Or I banished her somehow. I was rereading several of them recently, and I must admit that I enjoyed my writing. It was nice to see that passion inside of my younger self still there on paper — well, the computer screen. It took some time to develop a little skill (writing good poetry is harder than you think).

I plan on posting several of the better ones. We’ll start with a tame one; mine can be pretty spicy. For your enjoyment:

“Unmarried people are far more likely to die of all causes than married people.”
Diversity in Families, Baca Zinn, 2008

If we ramble down these sidewalks, you’ll see what I mean

There’s a concert going on outside my apartment,
a 1920s brick building on a tree-lined split street.
The Midtown neighborhood, with purple haired people
and prostitutes being dumped out of cars into gays’ care,
is the first home I’ve ever taken out my heart
to bury in my front yard.
I’m ignoring the music except for the beat that escapes
into my room from the crack under my door
that also lets leaves in during the fall.

When I walk down these sidewalks I might
meet an exterminator who will offer me dinner
and “conversation” within thirty seconds
or smile at a homeless man who hit the jackpot
in cans at a college student’s party.
I might give a funeral to a dead bird
that I will bury in the nearby ivy, leaving
a circular blood stain on the cement.

In a plush chair on my porch, I sit
under Midtown’s constructions of steel
and glass and concreteness. A wooden house
looks rundown amid the cranes bringing
height and more to Atlanta, and I bet the shack
won’t be there long, like trees cut
for power lines and rich views from windows.
Everything that exists now is shoring
for what we want to exist in the future.
The progression is flimsy and fast.

I put words together that later mean more
than what I know right now,
or something drifts away once it is spoken.
I would wonder how those married people
manage to stay alive while us singles succumb to death,
but I’m not dead yet.

Clifton Sanctuary Ministries

23 Jan

Sometimes it can be hard to admit that I might be the problem.

Dave and I have been the shepherds for Clifton Sanctuary Ministries for our church for the last two years. It has always been a struggle to get enough volunteers for the six dinners per year we make for them, and not until recently did I think that my enthusiasm (or lack thereof) might be the problem.

My boss/friend is also heavily involved in this charity, and she asked me to do some media/communications work for them, mostly sending out e-blasts and updating their website. As I began to learn more about the shelter that I had been helping out for almost two years, I realized how little I had involved myself, and every new bit of information I gathered made me excited for what they did.

Last October Dave and I attended the graduation dinner they put on every year to honor volunteers and graduates. They have a band, dinner, and several speakers. I was moved to tears this year, while two years ago I had been bored. Maybe then I hadn’t truly been listening to these men share their lives with me. Lives I have no idea about; things I have never experienced (and to be honest, hopefully never will). These men have journeyed from being the least of society, homeless, to being productive and stable. Owning a business, going back to school, working full time, having a place to live, getting permanent rehab care, etc. And Clifton did that for them — and so many others.

I am so glad my friend shared some of her spirit and fire that she gives to this mission, and that it has excited me to do more than just grudgingly do my part.  There are so many people joining our church, so many young people who are looking for a ministry worth working for, that I am hoping that my attitude will change this problem we have been encountering. I am hoping that my passion for Clifton will spread further than the bounds of our church, to our Atlanta community and beyond, and that we will be able to, day by day, continue giving service to these men so that they can find the same value and grace in themselves that God has given to them at birth. That can be hard for anyone, including myself, to realize, but what a great mission statement.

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Breaking the rules

22 Jan

Driving to Fernbank with Walter the other day, I saw this kid near Paideia, and he was skateboarding home from school with his helmet strapped on to the back of his backpack. I wanted to say, “So glad you have that helmet, kid, but you are near lots of city traffic, and it won’t do you any good back there.” I wondered if he put it on once he got closer to home. He seemed like the nice kind of kid who wants to do what his mom tells him to. He did after all lug the helmet around all day.

My brother would have died in a motorcycle accident when I was three if he hadn’t been wearing his helmet. He was not the kind of kid (well, he was 18) who followed the rules. But it was cold that day in California, so he wore it to stay warm. Good thing because when his head met the curb after the car t-boned him, it was only his leg that needed pins to hold it together.

Humans like having rules. They make us feel safe. But we certainly don’t like following them.

It’s hard for me to admit this, but a couple months ago I hit someone on the road. It was stop-and-go traffic on Northside (mostly stop) and I was running late. I was checking my phone for alternate routes through the neighborhoods when BAM. It sounded (and felt) bad. And my first thought was “Oh great. F@$%!” Somehow we were right next to this shoulder on the road and both of us pulled over. As I got out of my car, this young lady my age got out of her car, and as we both examined the cars for damage, we found none.

She said to me, “You are one lucky woman.”

And didn’t I know it. We exchanged information in case of delayed injury (though everyone was fine) and went on our merry ways. I told my dad about it when I met him for dinner ten minutes later, and when I kept saying “I feel so bad about this!”, he said “Listen, Walter wasn’t in the car. Nothing was damaged. No one was hurt. Take this as a learning experience. Phones are worse than drinking and driving, and don’t do it again.”

I should have known better. This weekend was the anniversary of a friend/acquaintance of mine who was killed in a car wreck while she was on her phone in a thunderstorm. A week before her 27th birthday, with her whole life ahead of her, a boyfriend who was about to propose, several grad schools who had her on the top of their lists, and she made one mistake that ended her life.

I didn’t think it could happen to me. I thought I was being safe phone user/car driver. But you can bet that I don’t use my phone while driving anymore. I pull over if I need to check directions. I wait to look at that text message. Because next time it might not be no big deal.

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Happy Weight

21 Jan

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In the past six months I have chosen to gain ten pounds. And no, I was not underweight. So why might I have wanted to do that?

For one thing, I want to be cushion-y, not bony, for my children. I am tired of looking at models and movie stars and wanting to scream at the TV “EAT MORE FOOD!!!” For better or worse, they are society’s role models, but I want to channel Marilyn rather than Twiggy since my children will inevitably look to me for comparison. Unless I can keep them away from the media entirely!

I applaud those who look a little plump rather than anorexic.

I want my children to know that you can look and feel normal, even if you don’t fit into size 4 clothes. This goes to any girls AND boys I might have. I want them to know that a healthy person doesn’t obsess over their weight.

I am actually healthier now than I was two years ago and ten pounds lighter. I may weigh a little bit more, but I am conscious of what I put into my body. I don’t fill it with junk just to satiate hunger. Though I do like the occasional chocolate treat. And by occasional, I mean daily! I like to go out walking and get some fresh air — one of these days I’ll move out of the city and remember what fresh air really is!

This is not some excuse for gaining weight. I don’t take this lightly (ha, ha). I spent many years trying to control my life by controlling how much I weighed. The less, the better. But when I became pregnant, and gave my body over to another human being, that’s when I truly inhabited my body for the first time. Oh, it did all kinds of wacky things I never wanted (carpal tunnel and heartburn, for example), but I finally realized what it was like to be at peace with my body. I continuously work at being healthy, and part of that is indulging in my love of food. Good food!

When you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

20 Jan

I think I laughed harder this weekend than I have since high school. I had actually been wondering if that would ever happen again, or if my extra funny had just left me for good. I’m glad to see it hadn’t.

We were playing Cards Against Humanity. Apples to Apples’ funnier, better friend. I don’t think I’ll ever go back!

This has been a really great week. Last weekend Dave took Walter to his cousin’s baptism in Chattanooga and I stayed at home so that I could moderate my first deacon meeting. I also orchestrated a night out with a couple friends since I had no parental responsibilities. Of course I super cleaned the house all day before so I wouldn’t feel too guilty about it.

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My view as Moderator before the meeting began. I felt so official.

Jen$ and I found this great bar, The Elder Tree, across the street from Argosy in East Atlanta. We wanted to go to Argosy to chat and meet another friend, but the wait was an hour and a half for a table. There was no way we were going to wait for that. Turns out the Elder Tree has pretty good food (and crazy big wings), no smoking, two dart boards, and $3.50 well drinks. I am absolutely going back with Dave asap so we can play some darts. We haven’t played darts since our wedding, and that was almost three years ago. I can’t believe how time flies by.

The deacon meeting went great and I went home to take a nap before the boys got back. It’s amazing how much I miss Walter after just one day of being away, even if I’m happy to “take a break.”

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Silly boy that I love so much!

On Monday Dave and I scouted out the preschool in our neighborhood, and we agreed on the way back to our cars that we want to send Walt there next year. I wish he could start now! He is so interested in other kids and is so good about separating from me now. He cries for one minute, I think just to show me how much he loves me, then has fun with whoever is taking care of him. So far it’s been the best with grandparents, and he is a little worse with church nursery volunteers. So it might take some adjustment, but I’m so excited for this.

The rest of the week we spent enjoying any sunny weather we could find, going to story time at the library, finding new parks with new friends, and making dinners for friends and family. My journey may be busy busy busy right now, but it’s a good one. Lots to look forward to, lots of work and volunteering, and good friends to share life with. I am one lucky woman.

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I can’t wait til he’s old enough to ride this crazy slide!

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A boy and his nature.

Our neighborhood just gets more awesome

4 Jan

Despite the near constant postings on our neighborhood Facebook group of burglaries, muggings, and gun shots, I love our neighborhood. It’s unique, people do care about their neighbors (we’re close enough to be forced to interact), and we’re close* to just about anything.

*”Close” being relative because it takes at least 30 minutes to get anywhere in Atlanta, even a few miles away.

A few neighbors and one of the neighborhood churches have recently put in the Little Free Libraries. We noticed three on our walk the other day. Besides looking cool, it’s a great idea. You take one, you leave one. Everyone gets to read!

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I already have a box full of books that I want to donate because they are either duplicates from the merging of two libraries or they’re books I never want to read again. I was going to give them all to our local library that I’ve grown so fond of these last few months, but I think I’ll pick a few out, put them in our neighborhood library, and give the rest away.

I guess you don’t have to live in the richest neighborhood in the city to feel like your neighborhood is priceless!