Archive | July, 2015

31 is the new 24

29 Jul

This was the best birthday I’ve had in years, maybe since I turned 24.

Last weekend we went down the Cartecay River in Ellijay for the 11th year in a row. It was beautiful but crowded. I couldn’t believe how crowded! We had to park in the second lot, and we were always surrounded by other tubers and kayakers.

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But it was still my beautiful river with my beautiful friends! We had two newbies this year. I love introducing people to the Cartecay.

This Saturday we got the house “finished” about 5 minutes before the first guest showed up for dinner and darts. Dave made me a beautiful dart cabinet as my birthday present, which is so very exciting because we haven’t played darts since our wedding. The older we get, the more unpleasant it is to spend an evening at a smokey bar (imagine that), and since Walter arrived, forget about it. We don’t use date nights for late nights in bars anymore.

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Dave and I literally met at a dartboard, and it feels so good to get back in to the game again with him. He did such an amazing job on the cabinet and cooked coq au vin for me and several friends. What a night we had!

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I’ve been so nervous playing in the house. We made sure to get vinyl tile for the new flooring to remove the horror of ruining freshly done hardwoods. But about 24 hours after the dart board went up, I got my first wall shot. It left a pretty big hole, but afterward I rearranged the bricks so that they’d cover more height. Who knew toddler toys could be so useful!

My actual birthday — pre-party — was spent in a mad rush to get chores done. It wasn’t an unpleasant day, although it certainly was different than your normal rowdy 20s’ birthdays.

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My son happily emptied the dryer for me for the first time!

All day Walt talked about birthdays and would counter my “Honey, it’s actually my birthday” with “No, it’s my birthday,” which was fun. But he was his sweet self as usual and eventually wished me a Happy Birthday. We used the day to talk about lineage and what birthdays really mean and that we get to celebrate his in only a few short weeks.

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This kid makes my heart soar. I had to go in there to remove the book after he fell asleep. Of course I snapped a quick picture first.

Sunday we had dinner with all the grandparents, but only after celebrating sweet Fin’s baptism. Walter helped me pick up the boxes of coffee on our way to the party. We splurged and got a cookie to eat while we waited.

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People gave me lots of wonderful presents this year, and many of them were books! My friends and family must know me really well. One was an activity book to use with Walter: 20 artistic renditions of the paper airplane.

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We made the easiest one first: a paper ball.

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Walter crumpled it up then immediately wanted to open it again.

I think that because I had no real expectations for this birthday, it blew me away. Thanks again, Life, for throwing all these good experiences my way. Now, back to the dart board for more practice.

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Jolly July

22 Jul

Because of the stair refinishing at our house, we’ve been at my in-laws for a week. It is kind of like a vacation because they have a very nice house with a pool. We’ve never stayed this long with them before, as we live in the same city, so it was a treat to be with family for an extended period of time. And the house was full! Walt’s great-granny and cousin were also with us for most of the time.

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Amazing woman.

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They love their Mimi!

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Lego peace treaty negotiations.

All of a sudden, everyone left. Granny and the cousin went back home, and Walt’s grandparents went up to their annual airshow in Oshkosh (Mimi is a pilot). But we haven’t been too sad. Last night Dave got home early so we all went swimming in the spa, which brought back my early memories of learning to swim in my parents’ spa in California when I was three. The night before, as the sun was setting and a summer storm was brewing in the distance, we played catch with the dog amid fireflies. And luckily they get their yard sprayed so there were no mosquitoes to contend with. Both were beautiful moments in time. And the boys have been playing the piano every night, which I love. I am becoming more aware that Walter’s first memories could happen any day now, and I want them to be good!

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He told us he wanted to sing the song by himself. I love his independence.

The Most Famous Infertile Characters on TV (that I watch)

12 Jul

Besides thinking about all the regular stuff I think about (which is a lot floating around in there), fertility issues have been on my mind recently. I have seen or will see 19 of my friends have babies in 2015. Since we have started trying for Walt’s little brother or sister, I have known 35 women who have either given birth or told me that they were pregnant. I know that it is just that time in my life, but I see all the full bellies around me and wonder how has it not happened yet (again) for me? I love all these women and am overjoyed for them. I would love to hear all of their stories as to how they became mothers and what they are experiencing with each new life. And I would like to hear stories from women who don’t have children too. Is it by choice? By tragedy?

The Women

Monica Gellar Bing (Friends) — both her and her husband are found to be infertile after actively trying for over a year. They adopt twins from a dumb white girl. Earlier in her life, Monica thought about using a sperm donor when it took her a while to find a husband.

Alice Buffay (Friends)– Phoebe’s sister-in-law who can’t have kids because she is so much older than her young husband. They are able to use their egg and sperm in a surrogate, Phoebe. They end up having triplets that are hard to take care of but they love.

Dr. Addison Montgomery Shepherd (Grey’s Anatomy) — had a couple abortions, found herself single, infertile, but a very powerful doctor and surgeon. She had wanted to use a sperm donor but her old best friend, a divorced fertility specialist, told her she wouldn’t be able to have kids. She is divorced from the husband she cheated on and ends up moving to LA.

Dr. Miranda Bailey (Grey’s Anatomy) — tries to get pregnant for seven years, then when she finally is ready to make a big change and do something where she couldn’t have a child, she gets pregnant and has to put her plans on hold. She ends up divorcing her husband and the father of the baby.

Julia Braverman-Graham, Esq. (Parenthood) — secondary infertility after having a very smart little girl. Adopted an older boy who had developmental and anger issues. Was able to adopt infant siblings from the same birthmother and ends up with a big family, after almost divorcing because she had panic attacks from being a SAHM.

Kitty Walker (Brothers and Sisters) — could not have children. Adopted a multi-racial daughter and subsequently developed cancer and almost died. Eventually she became a widow and recharged her career as a strong Republican political figure.

Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls) — secondary infertility because of behavioral issues after having her first child at 16 and running away from home. Luckily the teenager raised her daughter to be a voraciously smart news reporter and editor, while she ran and owned a successful inn nestled in her small, quirky New England town.

Lily Aldrin Erikson (How I Met Your Mother) — takes a long time to get pregnant with her first child, but it happens naturally even though they go for a check up at the doctor’s. She somewhat accidentally gets pregnant with her second child near the end of the show. She continues to be motivated by her art and her kindergarten teaching.

Robin Scherbatsky (How I Met Your Mother) — never wants kids. One month she doesn’t get her period and she freaks out that she might be pregnant, but upon going to the doctor learns that she will never be able to have kids.

Trudy Campbell (Mad Men) — tries for many years to have a baby. Wants to adopt but her husband won’t allow it. He has an illegitimate child with his co-worker, Peggy Olson. Eventually they have a baby after they had given up trying.

Charlotte York (Sex and the City) — tries very hard to have a baby with her first husband, Trey. They end up divorcing because of the strain of that and his problems, sexual and otherwise. She and her second husband, Harry, adopt a baby girl from China. In a movie sequel, she and Harry have a biological daughter without any medical intervention.

Who am I missing?

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I saw this recently, and while I don’t like the use of the word “Lord” because it reminds me of masculine slavery, or royalty, I thought the meme was poignant. I think that this is where I should be. I should not care what I want, because what happens is what will happen. I can do nothing to really control any one particular outcome, obviously. But I can choose to be happy. I can continue to be a good influence in my community. Show up.

I attended a neighborhood ladies book club this week with my friend Mama C, and it was fun, entertaining, and interesting. I’ve wanted to be in a book club my whole life, since the one I was in in elementary school was disbanded for a reason I don’t remember. I tried to start one with my college friends. We agreed on a book, I was the only one who read it, and when the date came everyone canceled coming over to my house to talk about it. I tried to be in an online book club but failed to use my smartphone technology properly and missed the event. I liked the opportunity to meet more of my neighbors, and that Mama C rode her bike there. When I get a bike we will ride the neighborhood together!

Isn’t it funny the images we create of the things we think we want?

I watched Now and Then recently for the first time in a long time. I loved that movie when I was a kid, and it stood the test of time. I felt nostalgic while watching a movie about a nostalgic time I never experienced. I texted Jason, “I want to ride bikes with my friends in the ’70s!”

All day I have been thinking about the fun things I want to do with my son when he comes home from Nini’s house. I hope we all get to experience the magic of a time we enjoy. We can, and should, Choose Happy.

Independence Day 2015

7 Jul

I love a good July 4th. July is my favorite month because 1. It’s summer, 2. It’s my birthday month (I was a Christmas-in-July baby), and 3. Do I need another reason?

This year we made plans to drive up to Chattanooga to visit Dave’s sister for the holiday. They’re very busy (a lawyer and a nurse anesthetist student), but the boys love seeing each other. Cousin W is only a year younger than Walt, and at this point it’s not super noticeable except for the verbal communication.

Dave started the day running the Peachtree Road Race in the pouring rain but had his best time in years. He’s been running recently and really enjoying it again. We met up after the race at his parents’ house for a Beer and Bagels event — they have a long-standing tradition of running and knowing lots of other people who run too. We took off after and headed up north to eat a late lunch of homemade BBQ. My sister-in-law’s in-laws were there too and that’s the greatest thing about extending your family. You can find lots of wonderful people in the process. The meal finished off with delicious banana pudding, and then Walt took the nap he forgot to take in the car on the way up.

We ate pizza and calzones at Lupi’s for dinner, then found some fireworks over Coolidge Park. We stayed out of the crowds but our view was perfect. It was probably better that we did because Walter kept asking to go back inside (we were at my brother-in-law’s office). Once we turned on some music he seemed to enjoy the lights and ignore the loud bangs. Dave said that because Chattanooga is in a valley it’s possible that the mortars are extra loud.

It was lucky that the rain stopped for our outdoor lunch and the fireworks, because it didn’t stop the rest of the weekend. Of course I don’t even own a raincoat for my son!

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Like brothers.

After a yummy Sunday morning pancake breakfast, we went to the Tennessee Aquarium.

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Walter is insane about bridges right now, and luckily for him, Chattanooga is filled with them, both the walking and driving kinds!

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These two goofy, sweet boys love exploring — and copying each other!

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Butterfly house, right before Walter promptly slipped in the muddy water and basically ruined the shirt his Mimi and Pop brought back for him from Italy.

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I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised over how much Walter loved the aquarium from the first exhibit, nay, the first escalators, on. I guess it’s just another way he’s growing up, that he’s actually experiencing things now. We sat in front of the glass at many exhibits and just stared.

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The boys got a kick out of climbing in to the crab tank — over and over again. I thought it was awkward being that close to the giant spiders of the sea.

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Very cool jellyfish that light up throughout their bodies in rainbow colors. One boy didn’t think they were real. I think I liked these best of all, though I didn’t go through the river side of the aquarium. At that point I had a terrible headache from staring through all that thick, distorted glass. A headache that lasted several hours. I wonder how the fish feel about it. The animals don’t look as sad as the ones at the zoo do, but maybe that’s cause I haven’t watched Finding Nemo enough.

Sometimes I get this feeling like we’re not really taking care of the world and its creatures well enough. I don’t really know what to do about it though.

Vacation in Florida part II: Bring it on

3 Jul

For several nights we had 8 adults, 5 children under the age of three, and one dog in a pretty spectacular beach house. And it was wonderful.

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Beach parade!

The C’s arrived with their adorable six month old before Dave even got there. We took Little C out to the beach for the first time, and since he had just been on his first plane ride too, he was a fairly excited little boy (read: didn’t sleep well that night because he was taking it all in!).

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They’re going to be best buds.

I was so excited for Dave to get there that I woke up when he got in at 3am just to go greet him at the door.

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Beach family portrait!

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We took Duggy to the beach the first day before we knew he wasn’t allowed. He loved it so much and ran around like the happiest puppy in the world. It was probably a good idea he couldn’t go again cause he ate a bunch of sand and seemed to not feel well for a few days after.

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We had the Marines come visit us too! Kyle could only come Saturday night, but we were thankful to see him! He had been at a tough security training course all week, and Dave had to lure him our way with promises of a steak dinner.

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We rented bikes and kid trailers/seats, which was awesome because neither Dave nor I had ridden in at least a decade. It was euphoric and fun, and I can’t wait to continue riding at home. Good thing the Atlanta Beltline will be in our neighborhood in a couple years. Dave drove the bike with the trailer, and Walt would say “Faster Daddy!” every time he stopped pedaling!

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There was an ill-fated evening where we tried to go out to eat. The restaurants on the island hadn’t had power for three hours, so all the good ones were still closed. The one we finally picked because we were starving was overpriced and not that good — especially the margaritas. Little C expressed his displeasure by dumping his mom’s marg all over her and her white shorts!

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We found a good view — and got to walk on a bridge, much to Walter’s delight — along the way!

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More friends arrived later that week! Katye flew solo with her 4mo, and I picked them up at the airport in Sarasota. I love that the exit sign out of the airport has an arrow pointing towards “Beaches”! Her husband and another Marine and his family joined us too. It was an eclectic group of friends, the conversation around the dinner table never got boring, but we all meshed really well I thought. What a joy.

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One of my favorite parts of the trip were our sunset walks along the beach.

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Stormy skies. I love summer storms.

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The ocean might lull us to sleep, but it did not disappoint!

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We finally made it to dinner at The Beach House the last night we were there. Dave ordered a bucket to celebrate! The drinks there were insanely good, as was the food… and the company!!!

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Our beautiful friends who helped make it a one-of-a-kind vacation.

Connections

1 Jul

Yesterday was a very interesting day. I met two strangers with whom I had brief conversations, both of which made me feel, at the very least, entertained.

I had to drop my car off at the Nissan dealership to fix the airbag that may or may not kill everyone in the car if I got in to a wreck. Since Walter was at my mom’s, I decided to Uber my way to her house to save her the hassle of picking me up. Enter: Henry.

Henry is a full-time limo driver and Ubers on the side. He usually carries around rich people in his limos, so we talked about the difference between Uber riders and limo riders (well, besides the amount of cash they might have in their pockets). He said rich people are usually more reserved and keep to themselves. We speculated if that might be because they are always thinking about money (haha). But he said the ones who open up talk about the same type of stuff we all go through, but say, for instance, if rich dude’s sprinkler system breaks, he calls his lawn guy. If Henry’s hose breaks, he goes to Lowe’s to get another one.

He said, “We all have the same issues, we just talk about them differently.”

After thinking that that was a pretty profound thing to say, I then said that I didn’t think I would like to be mega rich, because you would never know after that if people only liked you for your money. I said a million dollars would probably do very nicely. We spent the rest of the car ride talking about what we would do with a million dollars. Henry told me he would like to go back to South Korea, a very cool place with really good food. And then he recommended a place on Buford Highway to patron. The restaurant with a red roof right next to QuikTrip off of 285.

I left the car feeling refreshed, to be honest.

I spent the rest of the morning hanging out with my son and mom. This included some castle building and a walk to the playground and a small bridge nearby on a nature trail. Luckily a friend of mine texted me that the Cyclorama was closing its doors that day. I had been putting off and putting off going, even though I had wanted to visit it for a while. I thought I had til the fall before they were closing the doors for their big move to the Atlanta History Center, and I even had a date scheduled with one of my friends to go visit next week. After picking up my car, Walt and I hurried there and went to the second to last showing in their current location.

There was a long line to wait in before we could buy our tickets. The air conditioning was not sufficient to keep the place cool. Because I had never been, when we walked in and saw the big train “Texas” and no giant painting, I asked out loud “Where is the painting?” This gentleman with long sideburns was standing nearby, and he said, “Oh you haven’t been? You can’t just walk up and look at it. It’s a show. You watch a video first, and then they take you to another room for the viewing.”

He then said, “But there are cool things to look at upstairs while you wait. Is your son a Christian?”

Hm, I thought. “I don’t know. He’s only 2,” I said.

“Well, is he a Gentile?” he asked.

“Um, what?” I said.

“Is he a Gentile?” he persisted.

“Oh, um, I don’t know,” I said.

“Well, do you see that cannon right there? You know how they used a cross and thorns and other things to kill Jesus? That’s the same type of cannon they used in the Civil War to kill General Hood. It ripped right through his chest and before he knew it he woke up in heaven,” he told me. Then he said some other things about how he brought his crazy to Atlanta from Macon, and how I couldn’t have possibly known I would run into him today and talk about this kind of stuff. Dave thinks he might have been a KKK recruiter.

Before I said goodbye to him, I said, “Well I don’t really like to label him right now. He’s too little.” And he said, “Yeah, he’s not a little lazy white boy, is he?” before he left and I didn’t see him again for the rest of our visit there. It was one of those encounters in life that I really appreciate because it just goes to show you how many different types of people there are in the world. And some of those people make me feel really lucky that I am who I am, and not them.

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Supposedly we’re not General Johnston’s kin, but maybe he’s some distant cousin we don’t know about.

The Cyclorama visit was interesting. While I hate seeing it leave our neighborhood — especially since the painting shows the 1865 dirt road version of Moreland — the Atlanta History Center is one of my favorite places in Atlanta. They do a beautiful job displaying exhibits and bringing history to life. It seems like the Grant Park Cyclorama gave up after the ’70s. The best part of the video they have you sit through is James Earl Jones’s commanding narration. The upstairs museum was hard to read, the infographics were confusing, and the pictures were falling down. The carpet covering the auditorium seating at the painting was ridiculous. I think they keep the lights dim so you can’t see what you’re actually sitting on.

But, the painting is pretty badass. It’s the largest oil painting in the world. And I’ve certainly never seen a 360° painting before that you experience from the inside. All in all I was glad to bring Walt there to see it before it moved. Now I only hope we put something else awesome in that building.