Tag Archives: Atlanta

We found some real history

1 Oct

I call her my cousin. She is my husband’s cousin on his mother’s stepbrother’s side. But hey, everyone is family if they connect by blood or marriage in the South.

Katye, Fin, Walt, and I took her to the Atlanta History Center to visit the Swan House and the Smith Family Farm. Apparently her Great-Grandfather was wealthy on the East end of town (down by us!), and after we mentioned this to the 1930’s historical interpreter, we found him in the 1933 phone book they have sitting in the Swan House’s phone room! (Any decent mansion of course has a phone room.) It was incredible! All my little history-graduate cells were bursting with excitement at the find!

Mary Kate visits - Chas Shepard 1933

It listed his occupation and his wife’s name, plus his son was listed below them, as a student. It really brought them alive. Unfortunately, they aren’t technically related by blood to Walter, but sometimes marriage is thicker than water too.

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I love that when I suggested the Atlanta History Center as our “tourist” activity for the day, she said “Heck yeah! I love stuff like that!”

Later in the evening she and her husband came over for dinner at our house. We had a blast and chatted until late in the evening. That is one of my favorite parts of marriage: the awesome new family you can acquire. Luckily her husband comes to Atlanta often for business, so the next time she can join him I’m taking her to the Margaret Mitchell House.

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A Weekend in the Life…

21 Aug

First order of business: haircut. I don’t usually take selfies, but I do when I’m about to get three years worth of hair chopped off.

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I said that I was going to grow it to my butt. It was about six inches away when I caved to my desire for change.

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Short and sweet.

This wasn’t in preparation for Susan’s wedding weekend extravaganza, but the timing was nice for a new ‘do. We had events all weekend. Family dinner on Thursday. Rehearsal dinner on Friday. After-wedding-brunch prep Saturday morning. Wedding Saturday night. Brunch on Sunday.

This is what we looked like Sunday afternoon:

IMG_20150816_153425607But earlier in the weekend we managed to take showers and look all pretty:

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A sweet Johnston family friend married someone I wholly approve of. He is not pictured however! That doesn’t mean anything, I promise. I’m sure he was still there somewhere #suzgetswebbed

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The Red Tie Club at Chastain Horse Park. No one planned anything, but all the Johnstons were wearing red for the big day. Great minds think alike, as they say.

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The best wedding band I’ve heard. Later in the evening the singer let down her hair and really let the emotions flow.

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The best homemade (or any made) ice cream I’ve probably ever had. They served it around 10 o’clock, which I thought was a brilliant idea. They also had all buffets going as soon as guests started arriving. And guess what? No lines for food! Genius!

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Post-brunch reading and snuggling with Mimi while Daddy played the baby grand.

We even managed to attend Walt’s buddy’s birthday party on Saturday too. Good thing 3 year olds don’t party all day and night like grown ups like to.

IMG_20150815_143158201And even though we didn’t use the weekend for any sort of rest, Monday still rolled around, fresh and ready for us as ever. Mama had both work and SAHM chores going at once. Multi-task or bust!

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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.

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.

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.

Not Everyone is a Fertile Myrtle

17 Jun

Sometimes we’re just Moaning Myrtles.

I fluctuate moment by moment on whether it is a blessing or curse that there is no baby #2 yet. Walter himself, who screams and cries all the time when I hold every friend’s new baby, said to me recently, completely unprompted, “I want a little brother or sister.” And what am I supposed to say to that?

This month I swore we would stop “trying.” But since I’ve started charting, I can see things on paper that are happening inside my body. I thought for sure this was the month. I was calm. I was silently excited. And then, broken inside, yet again. What can I do but wait, month after month, trying every piece of advice, trying not to care, trying too hard, not trying enough… It is overwhelming in its solitude. I don’t want to talk too much about it, but I don’t want to be silent either. I want to enjoy life and enjoy what I do have.

I have changed, though. I am sensitive to other mothers-to-be, and that’s not like me, or how I really feel. I like to be especially supportive of pregnant women and new mothers, as that is my passion. But when I hear a friend complain about something related to pregnancy, it makes me want to scream. Seeing a pregnant belly either makes me envious or want to cry. But this isn’t about other people. It is not a comparison. Other people aren’t more lucky than I am, and I am not more lucky than other people. That’s not the point.

Whatever is, is meant to be. It will lead me to where I am meant to be in the future too. Maybe I still will get my four babies (oh please not all at once!). If anything, it has made me appreciate even more the crazy miracle that is procreation. I have loved Walter since the moment I knew he was coming — since the moment I knew I was ready for him to come! — and yet this has still made me love him more. I don’t want to spend my life wanting something else. I want him to know that he is more than enough for me, whether he ever has any siblings or not, though I know he will make an excellent older brother. Once he gets over letting me hold another child of course!

Walter class photos Spring 2015 - Individual
I am so beyond thankful for this one it is unbelievable.

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My handsome boy with his handsome haircut.

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But I like the hippie hair too! Too hot for these Atlanta summers!

I watched Labor Day while on vacation, and Kate Winslet brought to life the struggle so many women have with fertility — though I don’t want to fall apart so completely like she did. It seems everything I read or watch lately reminds me that it’s not easy for everyone to have lots of babies. I almost think it would be better to never get pregnant again than have miscarriage after miscarriage or a stillbirth. But women live through that. We live through a lot. Those who have large families get judged for having lots of babies. Women with one child (or none) get nagged to have more. Though part of me does want to ask if they wanted more and couldn’t have them. I love hearing everyone’s stories. There are billions of them out there.

And mine is just one more to add to the collection.

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!

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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?

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!

#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.

11088941_947407045293285_2209941876127639056_oRuby’s Ruby Slippers

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

The Show

16 Apr

A couple weeks ago I decided last minute to go to the Hozier concert at Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points, which is a $7 Uber ride from our house. I asked Dave if he wouldn’t mind watching Walt and looked on Stub Hub. It felt good to be a little wild. Reminded me of what I was like in ’08, working and going out (to a lot of concerts) and, to be honest, the sense of freedom I’ve missed since I became a mom.

In 2008 I opened up my world. I wasn’t afraid to go somewhere by myself, whether it be around Atlanta or on a trip out of state. I knew I could count on myself to have a good time. I’d find the good time, or at least bring it with me.

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Dave convinced me to get there early enough to see the opening act — Variety Playhouse always starts their shows on time! — and I’m sure glad he did. George Ezra was playing, and he was phenomenal. For thirty minutes I was about 20 feet from him, and the music and show enveloped me.

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One of the really cool things in this place is the giant fan on the ceiling. It’s a really, really big fan.

I used intermission to buy a beer and a t-shirt, which I actually ended up exchanging during the Hozier show, because they stunk. They stood there on stage like soulless singers, unmoving, no visible emotion, and with no stage show either. The lead singer didn’t speak for the first four songs, and when he did, he was insulting to the audience, pointing out how badly they/we smelled. Um, thanks? So glad we paid to see you live?

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I sat in the balcony for a bit, sipping my beer, and texting Dave. Then I hung out with the merchandise guy who was much more entertaining than the band. I was honestly surprised, because their music is so awesome and the video to their hit “Take Me to Church” is pretty incredible too. But, the last minute price tag was totally worth it just to see Ezra. I would absolutely do it again.

It was great to be able to count on Uber to make this night happen in a safe way, even though I didn’t get drunk, but the door to door service is good. Especially since a couple guys got murdered in Little Five Points a few days later. It was in the middle of the night though, not 9pm like when I left the show.

I’m going to keep it up. Just because I’m a married mom doesn’t mean that “life is over as I know it”, am I right, ladies?