Archive | May, 2015

Contests

31 May

I remember as a kid winning a modem from an AJC contest. Tell us why a modem will be right for you! and a few weeks later one came in the mail. I thought that was pretty cool. I pretty much haven’t won anything since, except a piece of carry on luggage at my high school graduation party that my college cat peed in and ruined.

Until this month. AGL Resources, where Dave works, has an 811 Photobomb contest every year to promote calling 811 before you dig to protect utility lines. I submitted these two photos.

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Planting bulbs in the garden!

D. Johnston - 811 Photocontest Pirate
I love that I got my friend to dress up like a pirate.

And I won Dave an extra paid vacation day this year! Right about the time that we heard we had won, I got an email from VRBO about a summer vacation contest. I thought, why not try again, especially since it has to feature your child, and my child is adorable! So we’ll see if this video will work its charms and win us the grand prize!

When I was a newborn, my parents posed with me for a midwifery advertisement, even though she had an uneventful but short medicated labor. I assume we had a good time for that photoshoot in all our 80’s glory.

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The weekend I tried out all-natural deodorant

22 May

A few weekends ago it was one of the first hot weekends in Atlanta, and we spent most of it outdoors. I had run out of deodorant, and while shopping for more I made a quick decision to try out aluminum free, all natural deodorant. Slowly but surely I’m headed toward being one of those crunchy, organic lovin’ mommies. But I guess some things are meant to be full of chemicals.

Luckily no one commented that I smelled yucky, except for my own nose. The first application I thought it was going to go well. By the end of the weekend, I was desperate to get to the grocery store to get my tried and true Secret Powder Fresh Invisible that I’ve used for almost two decades. What do they say? A leopard can’t change her deodorant?

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Braves Game. We had the whole section to ourselves and Walter just ran up and down the stairs for the most part.

Fin's first Mad Italian
Finley’s first trip to Mad Italian!

what we did at the Renaissance Festival
Renaissance Festival where Walter only wanted to play on the playground. Should have just gone to the one in our neighborhood!

Whitney and Aaron's baby shower
Baby shower! I stayed later than my boys (and most all the other guests) and took an Uber home. I love the freedom Uber gives.

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I built the house with Walt and then put in the charming mulch bed, since the yard there has been a dirt/mud pit for about 7 years. About time we added some landscaping!

Despite what my armpits said, it was an amazing weekend. Similar to all my weekends (and truth be told, weeks) lately. Thanks world, for being so awesome to me! What is it about spring that is so hopeful?

Things Walter says, morning edition

18 May

Just a few months ago I was worried that Walter would need speech therapy to figure out how to talk. People would say, “Oh, he’ll start talking and you’ll wish he wouldn’t talk so much!” I’m sorry, but, I love every word (even the frustrating ones) that comes out of his mouth. It is joyful to be able to communicate with him. And he really does say the most awesome things.

My husband has this tattooed on his arm:

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I know. I felt the same way when I first saw it.

This morning as the three of us were waking up, Walter pointed at his dad’s tattoo and said, “Daddy has a band-aid. It won’t come off.” I asked him to tell me what letters it said.

N-A-S-C-A-R. It spells “Daddy”

Later we took Duggy on his morning walk. Walter has started singing “Walkin in the jun-gle” on repeat as he walks on any wall he can find around the block and through all the bushes. The boy loves to sing. Then he asked to sing some other songs with me. When we’d finish, say, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I’d ask him if he wanted to sing it again. He replied, “No, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star song is gone.”

I’m pretty sure he couldn’t make me a happier mama.

Urban Farm Ormewood strikes again

16 May

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Atlanta had about one week of spring before we jumped in to summer temperatures. OK OK, summer will be at least 10-15° hotter, but it certainly feels like it shouldn’t get any hotter. But today was perfect: warm in the shade with a bit of a breeze.

I took some friends to The Farm, and it turned out that my in-laws joined us for a spell as well. I so love this place. It is an urban oasis. We lounged on picnic blankets and drank sparkling cider with frozen berries, which Walter loved.

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Draining the bottle. Oh dear.

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He’s figured out how to pose for pictures and I love it!

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We spent a lot of time brushing ants and other small insects off this sweet girl.

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These two are really becoming best friends!!!

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And because it was our 4th anniversary, Dave was busy doing sweet surprises for me while he was at work, like having these gorgeous — purple! — flowers delivered! A wonderful day, all in all!

Washington D.C. – Just leave me here!

15 May

My mom has this habit of, without fail, proclaiming that she’s going to move to wherever she’s just gone on vacation. I usually don’t do this (even when I adore a vacation), but I am so in love with D.C. that I really wish we could move there. It is such an awesome city. We have tons of friends and family that live there, and as a history buff (hello useless bachelor’s degree) the museums and monuments are amazing. I love that you can just walk right by the President’s house, as if you’re simply strolling through a neighborhood. It’s clean. It feels safe. Public transportation. Easy navigation.

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This was our first real trip without Walter; three nights away from him. I felt sad and glad to have some adventurous alone time with David. Also, I’m pretty sure this is one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken. I’m just sayin’.

We got there and took the Metro into Alexandria to spend some time with my middle school BFF Sarah. She took us around Old Town, where we ate a delicious lunch (with maple root beer, which was seriously syrupy), walked the Potomac, window shopped, and toured the Torpedo Factory, an amazingly unique place where artists rent work space and also sell their stuff. Super fun first day.

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Her husband watched their baby for us so we could hang out a bit! And he cooked dinner for us: stuffed chicken and rice! Yum! What a guy!

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Planes fly in so close (all over the city really) that you feel like you can catch them!

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Lunch was at this really cool old converted fire station. I love how they build the architecture in the D.C. area to last, or at least restore it when it’s falling apart. I really wish Atlanta felt the same way about her buildings.

The next day we took the Metro back in to town to Foggy Bottom, where we stayed at the Marriott surrounded by G.W. students in their last weeks of classes. It was super close to everything and of course the room was nice. It was great to crash there after a long day of walking and sightseeing.

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We did the monuments the first day, which was a good decision because it was rainy and cold the next day when we did as many museums as we could. This picture was taken by a very cool guy from Ireland. We saw so many people with “selfie sticks” that it was almost embarrassing. We are fans of the old-fashioned way: get to know a stranger for a minute and ask them for this small favor. Don’t compartmentalize so much so that you never meet anyone new.

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We ate breakfast one day at Lincoln’s Waffles, an amazing breakfast place right by Ford’s Theatre. It might have been the best breakfast I’ve ever had. Hot wings, waffles, sausage, and eggs… yes please!

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So very tall.

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So very windy.

It was warm in Atlanta when we left, so we weren’t totally prepared for the cold weather, even though I did check weather.com. I thought 65 and sunny would be warm. So I didn’t bring socks. Whoops.

Friday night we ate dinner with my two high school best friends, family style in Arlington. We brought a bottle of wine on the Metro and walked the half a mile to their house. That in itself is so cool, coming from a car-dependent city like Atlanta.

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Walter was with his cousin at Mimi and Pop’s house having a blast. It certainly helped us have fun knowing he was having a good time too.

Saturday was spent touring museums. We waited in line at the US Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. It was other-worldly to be a room with the same exact documents that brought about something so incredible. We also went to the Air and Space Museum and the US History Museum. I had recently read The Aviator’s Wife, which made seeing Lindbergh’s plane even more exciting. The other history museum was decent. I liked the First Ladies exhibition the best, with their dresses and china patterns. George Washington ate on those plates!

We walked around til the back of my knees stopped working properly, and we still barely saw half of what we wanted to see, which was a narrowed down list already.

Firefly
Great meal, great company!

Dinner on our last night was with Dave’s cousins at Firefly in Foggy Bottom. We had so much fun with them, and I can’t wait to go back to stay with them, as they have both offered their guest suites to us. How lovely! Firefly had some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Completely worth the mile walk in the rain.

D.C. I’m coming back for you soon!

An extra pair of hands

4 May

For the past 2 1/2 years, Walter has actively taken away the use of at least one of my hands on a regular basis. A mom pretty much learns how to live life with one functioning hand (and I usually use my dominant one to hold him).

The other day was the first time [of hopefully many] where he has provided me with an extra set of hands. It was glorious.

Since Christmas, we’ve gotten in to Magnatiles. One of my pet peeves of Magnatiles, however, as an OCD/math-oriented person, is that if you take all your long triangle pieces and put them together on the floor, they will not form a circle. What?? How can that be?

But then I figured it out. No matter how many triangles you use, if you make it an upright cone, all the bottoms of the triangles will rest on the floor. I easily put together 3, 4, and 5 pieces. I tried seven and eight, and then, of course, 9. However, the cone was so wide that when I attempted to add the last triangle, it would collapse to the ground and I’d have to start over. I did this several times, even propping it up with support, but it turns out I needed something more dynamic. Like another pair of hands.

Enter Walter!

Usually he is more destructive than helpful when I try to play Magnatiles or Legos with him. But today, of all glorious days, he did what I asked, pushed in when I instructed, and we got the cone standing!

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He was pretty pleased about it too!

#LongLiveLove

2 May

The past two weekends I have been grateful to live some extraordinary experiences. Two weekends ago Dave and I were witness to two great friends getting married. Not only are they awesome, creative people, but the bride is Indian, and I got to experience my first Indian wedding. I am totally converted. I am also convinced that if you want a dance party, there better be Indian music playing. It’s better than booze to get people going.

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They had two events at the Howard House, which is right around the corner from us.

Everything about the weekend was extraordinary. Even the rain didn’t slow us down. Friday night was Mehndi night, which is typically when the bride and other female family members get henna on their hands (and feet). However, since it took the bride 7 hours, she had hers done the day before. But any guest could get henna, and it was so much fun. I had mine for about one minute before the groom smudged one of my fingers. I only gave him a little bit of grief about it since it was his big day.

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My father-in-law is convinced it’ll stay forever. I wish!

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I love all the color!

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Best Indian food ever, and at a wedding too! I suspect it’s because the bride and groom are foodies (as well as graphic designers and musicians). You can only imagine the party they threw. The first night was a wedding in itself, and then the real weddings — they had two — were the next day!

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I love that they’ve been friends since they were Walter’s age.

My only regret was not getting a sari to wear. I was colorful enough, but next time I will be all over that. Because there will be more Indian parties in my future.

Walter was, while we were gone, staying at home with our next door neighbor.  She is a kindergarten teacher nearby and really sweet, so I figure it’s almost like paying a tutor too! Walter still tells me, “I have fun with Julie.” I love it.

We got to cuddle in the mornings though.

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Saturday was both the Indian ceremony in the morning, which we did not attend, and the American ceremony in the evening followed by a reception at Piedmont Park. Where, of course, Back Street Boys was blaring in the background across the lake during the very emotional ceremony (yes, I did cry). There was also a little Scottish flair thrown in there as well, and when they spoke their own vows — during a Methodist ceremony — they were actually quite great. The food buffet was amazing, and they had cakes (with the icing on top drawn by the henna artists from the night before) from Murphy’s, where I am going immediately to buy another one because those bites were the closest thing to heaven you can imagine.

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We were seated with Alex’s cousins, near the bride and groom table. We were flattered, and also Alex’s family is really cool. During the ceremony we sat next to Ruby’s cousin Prnay, who danced an ancient Indian dance, during the Mendhi night shindig, that he has spent years studying. When Ruby started crying, so did I! The fathers of the bride and groom also spoke wonderfully at the reception, both with humor and wisdom. It was a weekend full of awesome people, and I loved it.

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#rubyandalex #longlivelove