Tag Archives: Life

The Johnstons and Too Much #Vacay

16 Jun

IMG_20170603_094828_608We were all excited to head out to the sunny and hot beach for a week of relaxation.

However, our first beach trip in two years reminded me of the Berenstain Bears book I read to Walter recently, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Vacation, a book I’ve had since I was a little girl, where Papa Bear envisions this glorious vacation for his family out in the woods, bought from a magazine ad. It doesn’t go very well, as you can imagine, but Mama Bear patiently takes pictures and remembers to bring along the canned food so they can at least eat. This was us in Florida a week ago, except I was Papa Bear. At least at the end of the story they always look back at the memories in the photographs and laugh.

I had blocked off time we really didn’t have to spend a few days in between jobs at the in-laws beach house in Longboat Key, FL. I wanted a break from our calendars and the planning and execution of my ever-increasing to-do list.

Before we could leave we needed to get some minor yard work done (the house is on the market today and we’ve been terribly busy doing home fixits!). Of course after that it took me much longer to pack than I had anticipated, and the drive took us 10+ hours. It was a big day of travel, and not so different from the two Saturdays before that we spent driving to and from house-hunting and brewery-enjoying in Asheville with both boys, and one time with Dave’s parents too!

We finally arrived around midnight and unloaded the car. Put the boys to bed. Unpacked. Settled down with a craft beer of course. At this point I was sincerely looking forward to some time at the beach the next day.

We woke up in the morning to gray skies and light rain. Mimi had a cold, so we were told to stay away, but we played in the surf anyway with her around lunch. She and Pop had flown down in her plane on Friday, the day before we got there, because the weather was supposed to be bad all weekend. It was nice to get out to the beach, and Walter loved the ocean. Afterward he showed off his new swimming skills at their pool. It’s so great to watch him swim like a fish!

IMG_20170604_111015683Rex’s first time at the beach!

IMG_20170604_112636596In his clothes don’t care!

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One look at the ocean horizon is instantly soothing to the soul.

IMG_20170608_190049239Replicating a 1985 photo of David and his dad.

Later, after a delicious nap, I woke up to “hurry up it’s dinner time.” We were supposed to go to dinner with the builders of Mimi and Pop’s beach home renovation. I had been loathe to have any plans the whole week, as my stress tank was quite full, but we happily got ready and into the car. When we arrived we found that the others had chosen a table with two benches. For a nursing mom, it’s necessary to have back support when you’re feeding your child, which I am known to do at the dinner table. And the builder and his wife had a 2 month old too! The restaurant had a little couch area by the elevators, and Rex and I kept the wife and her baby company for a bit over there. I found out through chatting with her that her best friend lives in Asheville, with whom she often visits and loves it up there. It was a good chat, and I’ve found that many people I meet or know have friends living in Asheville. That’s a good sign I think!

IMG_20170604_185213406Walter ate half my fish; it was yum.

Mimi left the next day to take Granny (her mom) to Granny’s brother’s funeral in Texas. The weather forced them to cancel, since they were going to fly the small plane, and good thing too because Mimi came down with a high fever and had to go to the hospital. She was tested and diagnosed with double viral pneumonia.

My mom had arrived at this point with her sweet dog Tashi. We went out to the beach after the rain stopped that afternoon, and we were greeted and attacked by a cloud of bugs at the dunes. There were definitely mosquitoes (hello Zika!) and something else that had white wings and hurt when it bit, maybe a flying ant? Sand fleas? I almost poked my eye out swatting them off when we got to the beach, and Dave did a great job keeping them off of Rex.

We then proceeded to play in the surf and my mom and I took a long walk while Rex slept in my arms. This was a glorious memory from the trip.

On the way back, we ran through the dunes to try to avoid the bugs, and then ran all the way to the street, yet I still had to swat them off of my mom and Rex literally the entire 10 minute walk home. They were trying to get at my mom through her shirt!

I must have gotten at least 50 bites over my entire body, but mostly on my lower legs. I have a very bad reaction to bug bites; if I scratch them they become huge and swollen. Like soft-ball size at times. Once during the summer before my senior year in high school, I was similarly attacked on the beach at night in Naples, FL and ended up being taken to the hospital by the Jewish mom next door “three calls away from the President” because I was down there without my mom and this lady was worried about me after talking to me out on our balconies — top floor pool view; — a couple steroid pills later I was fine.

Oh lordy did my legs itch for several days, and I knew better now than to scratch them. I woke up at 3:30am one night with my whole body on fire, and the best way I have discovered over the years to stop the itching, at least for a few hours, is to turn the shower as hot as I can stand it, and scald my skin where the bites are. It makes me too hot and feel sick when I do that, but cortisone cream only works for a little itch every now and again.

The fun times kept on coming. I felt like I did a thousand loads of laundry — everything was either wet or had throw up or sand on it! — and we still ended up going home with a trash bag full of wet and dirty clothes to do. The dishwasher also ran every day. I happily emptied it except the one morning everyone was sleeping in, and Pop unloaded it for us!

IMG_20170607_074035_616Rexy turned 5 months old! I had forgotten his special sticker tie so we had to improvise. I also left my hair straightener at home, which clearly is the best indication of the condition of my frazzled mind when we left.

IMG_20170606_161625010Mommy/boy pile.

My mom used the leftover vegetables from homemade pizza night (a tradition started in Longboat Key in 2012 with my good high school friend and her husband, who are finally having their first baby girl any day now!) and grabbed some chicken and sausage from Publix to make one of the most delicious pasta dishes I’ve ever had. We think it’s because she “burned” the onions during meal prep. A fortuitous mistake!

IMG_20170605_085456167We had some time to kill inside during all the rain. Walter created this awesome found object piece. We also watched WALL.E a lot!

IMG_20170606_132720_311Walter using his art to show what the storms were like at the beach. He got caught in the rain at least twice.

The storms got so bad at one point that I was literally walking around like a chicken with my head cut off, wondering where to go with the children to hide from the storm. Every wall seemed to be made of glass! It seemed like night outside although it was only late morning, and David was in the salle de bains and my mom was doing a sitting in her room. While hearing things whip around the house, wondering if a tree would come crashing through the wall of windows facing the canal, Dave came out to tell us where we should go and that a tree had fallen on the house. It turned out to be only one giant limb of this huge tree, and it crushed the edge of the roof, the solar panel pool heater pipes, a large portion of the fence, including part on the neighbor’s property, and also their new landscaping. The rest of the rotten tree was still standing, so Dave was worried about that falling too. Some other big trees came down in the neighborhood in the 50mph winds.

IMG_20170607_120957_179Our bedroom window.

IMG_20170607_131125024_HDRWatching the tree guys go to work.

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While Dave did his insurance claim/crisis handling, I put the baby down for a nap and my mom and I went to get our nails done. I thoroughly enjoyed the pedicure especially — I could get foot massages every day!

That night we took our folks out to dinner at The Beach House in Bradenton, a good 20 minute drive — oh, my guilt over how much time we spend in the car is heavy these days! Instead of having cocktails near the ocean, and sitting and staring at the view we tried so hard to get to to enjoy, since it was sunny for once, we sat inside in the AC with a minimal view, because it was too windy. Walter played in the surf both before and after dinner, totally soaking himself, and my mom bought him an awesome long-sleeve shirt. I really should carry around an extra set of clothes for all of us, not just Rex, these days.

IMG_20170607_200148_283Glorious boy in his element.

We stayed up late to make homemade peach ice cream, which my friend had done recently at our house on Memorial Day with the strawberries she and her kids had hand-picked. Because my mom insists on buying only organic food when she can, and we had stopped at Lane Southern Orchards for fresh peaches on the way down, the ice cream was heavenly. A redemption for my bad and sad mood.

IMG_20170607_214347228Some seriously good ice cream.

 

The rest of the short time we had down there was spent either getting tossed by the most violent waves I’ve ever seen in the Gulf, or “steaming” and “boiling” (per Walter) under the fierce Florida sun. The last day, before we drove back home, we went for a walk on the beach. Luckily Dave had left our second sunscreen bottle out on the beach the day before, because the sun had definitely decided to scorch away the storm clouds, and we needed to reapply (which later I think gave the baby a rash on his face from rubbing against me or his dad).

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Dave went back with the baby fairly quickly because he was worried about Rex overheating, and we needed to finish prepping for our departure. Walter had on a bathing suit, and I walked out in my clothes to bob in the waves with him. For a minute I thought Walter had a terrible sunburn, but it was only the reflection of his bright red life jacket, thank goodness. He did, however, have Mimi’s cold. I treated him to a ginger ale on the ride back, which he cuddled with while he took a nap. The ride home thankfully didn’t seem as long as the way down. When we got home, our pups and kitty were happy to see us after having been taken care of so faithfully by my BFF Jason.

IMG_20170608_191238683Looking rough on the last day, LOL.

In the midst of giant upheaval in our lives, moving away from everything we know and love, this really wasn’t quite the break I wanted. But it was still beautiful time with family, no matter what the difficulties!

Cheers to crazy memories!

A Time for Renewal

24 May

In the past month, as Spring has come to the land again, we’ve been out and about celebrating with friends and family.

I attended my first Seder dinner, which might have been my single most moving religious experience yet. A new friend couple who live in Inman Park had us over for their first time hosting Seder at their house.

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It was a beautiful dinner with great friends.

The next day we drove up to Chattanooga to celebrate Easter with my in-laws. The rituals of Christianity are always interesting to witness.

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And it’s a great excuse to dress up to celebrate the rebirth of earth (well, in this hemisphere)!

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A couple weeks later we went to A Perfect Circle concert. Finally. It was my first time seeing this band live, although I’ve seen Tool seven (nine?) times and Puscifer three times. All three bands are led by Maynard James Keenan: vocalist, poet, musician, and guru. Seeing him perform is usually like “church” for me.

He started his show with giant black and white shadows of the band, then turned the primary colors to red and yellow (the first colors we supposedly see as infants after black and white), and then spent most of the rest of the show in purple light, which I imagine as a very complex and enlightened color.

IMG_20170503_002240_881.jpg#MaynardforPresident #MJK

Keep it coming, world! This is fun!

 

Finding God Within

1 Apr

I hesitate to use the name “God” because I know so many people who are atheist or agnostic or other religions (and where I land on that scale I don’t quite know), but I think we all at least believe in the magic of the universe. And that’s really what I’m talking about too, because it truly is magical that we’re all here.

I came home from the hospital with my newest little boy, somewhat ready to take on the world as a mom of two. I was feeling much better than I did after W’s birth. But of course, there had to be something that humbled me.

With Walter, he cried and turned a horrible shade of red. This sounds jokingly easy in retrospect. I had thought I was a baby guru. I had babysat and nannied for babies 3mo+ since I was 12 (so for about 16 years). I thought I knew what I was doing. But oh how I cried when he cried, because newborns are way tinier than babies that have had three months of growing under their belts. And let’s give a little credit to raging post-partum hormones too.

With Rex, I was determined not to get so upset when we got home that I wanted back in the horrible place we call a hospital. But my first humbling experience with him was much worse.

He shivered and shook almost constantly starting (of course) as soon as we got home. He had done it a few times in the hospital, and I had asked the pediatrician about it. I didn’t trust that the ped commented on what I was talking about though, because he said, “Oh it’s OK, the baby calms down when you soothe him and the shaking stops.” But this wasn’t shaking related to crying. This was awake, asleep, happy, upset, constant little tremors. And babies that little don’t shiver from cold temperatures.

I was resolved, after wasting so much of my sleep time when Walter was a newborn, not to lose myself in Google researching everything bad that can happen to a baby. But I had to find out what it was! Did we need to go back to the hospital? What was going on? And Google pretty much said it could either be a) pee shakes, b) nothing, or c) horrible, irreversible neurological problems.

I don’t think I cried (yet), but inside I was full of fear. After a few hours of this and talking over our options with Dave, I took my baby into his nursery and sat in the glider in the low sunlight of the winter afternoon. I held him and I rocked him and I spoke to him and for the first time ever, I said, “Dear God, please take care of this boy. Whatever is going on I give it to you. He is your boy that you have given to me to take care of, and I love him. Please keep him safe.”

Turns out he stopped his shivering almost as soon as my milk came in, so we think it was low blood sugar. But sitting there with him was a life changing moment for me, when I fully felt the universe hold us in its arms. The universe decided to take care of us at that moment, and I’m grateful. I have the happiest little baby full of joy and smiles that I could only have ever hoped for.

IMG_20170330_212107_613Springtime outside as well as in the heart. I love how these boys love nature.

Rex: Male Model

28 Feb

img_20170221_175556“Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” – Derek Zoolander

Last Monday night I was getting ready for bed when my friend texted me about LalabuBaby wanting newborn models. Because I was a model for a midwifery magazine ad with my parents when I was three days old, I thought I’d give at least one of my sons the chance at the same type of stardom.

Newly joined to Instagram, I figured out how to DM them a super cute picture I had recently taken of Rex and some basic contact info. After a little back and forth, I agreed to bring my sons the next day, completely unsure of what this adventure would entail.

Tuesday after lunch and my six week postpartum appointment, I wasn’t sure why I had agreed to go do this. It was looking like rain, and we had just gotten back from Ohio, plus the baby had basically been crying since we got home. We figured he was either going through a growth spurt or thoroughly expressing himself after being in a car seat for four days straight. However, I had made a commitment, so I got the boys in the car yet again and trekked into town. We made it to their office in Old Fourth Ward only five minutes late.

When I approached the door a very nice woman came out and told me filming was running late. I could only go in if we would be absolutely silent. With a four year old and a new kiddo I knew that would be impossible, so we went back to the car to wait. Walter played on his Leap Pad, and I nursed baby Rex. Soon they were done, and we headed back in to wait some more. Turns out they just wanted newborns on call, to work as possible stunt doubles for the model and her newborn who were really doing all the shots. At this point I was genuinely wondering why I had bothered to leave my house, but I decided to wait it out so that I could get the free $75 baby-wearing shirt they had promised.

Two other new moms were there. One was a first time mom with a 5 week old boy. She and her husband own The Big Fake Wedding, which was really interesting to hear about, especially since I love all things wedding. The other mom had a 5 day old boy, one of a set of twins, the other still in NICU at North Fulton, even though he was ready to come home. I was super impressed that she was there. She had brought her husband as well, and they also had a two year old girl at home. It didn’t take long for all of us to start talking, and it was a great, albeit brief, new mommy support group. It made the whole trip worth it.

Right when we were about to leave to avoid rush hour traffic, they asked if anyone could spare their baby for a few. Rex was just finished nursing and happy. The other boys were either nursing or sleeping, so Rex went to makeup… just kidding. I put him in a white onesie, and he got to be the baby model in a video showing how to get a baby in and out of the shirt. When he started fussing after a couple of takes, it was time for us to go.

We were parked in the neighboring church parking lot. The car next to us had its windows open and the three occupants were in there drinking beer and smoking some wacky tobacky. I had to ask them to shut their windows before we got close to the car because the smoke was billowing out around my car, which they did of course. Walter didn’t mention it if he smelled anything funky!

Gotta love in-town Atlantans and random experiences.

Baby #2 is a sweet little brother for our W

26 Aug

After too many months of crying and waiting and testing and trying, there’s nothing but joy here to say we’re expecting another baby January 2017. Just after health insurance deductibles switch to the new year!

BABY JOHNSTON!_0035

Already looking pretty stinkin’ cute

We had our 20 week ultrasound this morning and everything looks great! He was moving around and even sucked his thumb while we were looking. Walter enjoyed watching the ultrasound tech take pictures for a few minutes, then spent the rest of the time asking when she’d be done and talking about his cinnamon roll breakfast.

W seems just as excited for his brother as we are. He says, “My baby will be here after Christmas, and I want to keep him forever.” I’ll remind him of that sentiment when little boy #2 is old enough to mess up his Lego and magnatile creations.

It’s been a long journey to get to this point, including a first trimester that was hellish to survive, but as I feel baby moving around in there, it’s just an incredible feeling that I’m so glad I get to experience again. This procreation stuff really is a miracle.

A Bit Untethered, but Happy and Excited

22 Apr

While living in the gloriously big house that Walter now doesn’t want to leave with my awesome, frequently jet-setting in-laws has been fantastic, it’s not easy for me to not have my home base. When I want to settle down or escape, I don’t really have anywhere to go that is mine, except maybe my car. I was even having difficulties living in the small room with our cat, who I am allergic to — long story –, until my brilliant husband suggested I take a Claritin, which thankfully worked. So at least I have that space too again.

The good news is, the finish line is within sight. We sold our house! It went under contract the first day of showings, and the buyers were great. I’m jealous of our old neighbors.

We also bought a house! I feel ridiculously lucky to have found the house we did. It’s a 1965 ranch-style that has previously had one owner, sitting on half an acre of gorgeous landscape.

IMG_20160414_171304306_HDRDay of closing: happiness.

It was very well-maintained, but dated. But that’s the best part! We get to do what we want with the space! No one else has done some costly, generic updating. Mostly it is painting the walls, changing light fixtures, and refinishing floors, but we also get to redo the kitchen from scratch!

IMG_20160418_162936242_HDRYep, that’s our kitchen. Walter thought it left the house on its own.

I already feel like it is my house, even more so than our old house, not just because I’m on the deed of this one, but because I picked it out knowing that I want to live here for the next 30+ years. We have only three weeks until the movers bring our stuff, but oh what needs to be done before then!

IMG_20160422_094949Our wonderful helper!

 

IMG_20160418_205801862_HDRWallpaper was clearly invented by the devil.

IMG_20160421_170823349I needed to paint by myself, and when I was ready to go, I found him like this!

It’ll be more than great to be home again, which is why we’re working round the clock to get things done. We have been blessed by the help of Dave’s dad, who has spent several days doing electrical work at our house and puts Walt to bed so we can go work in the evenings, and my mom who has kept Walt while we get stuff done. I worry about him. In the end it’ll have been a 3 month move, and moves are not easy. Sometimes he isn’t really clear about what’s going on, but he’s a trooper. I’m real proud of him.

Ladies Book Club

8 Dec

It’s been fairly transformative to be a part of this neighborhood, women-only, book club since this summer.

The last book we read was My Life in France by Julia Child — though written by her great-grandnephew. Who is a fantastic writer. He made me fall in love with Julia. WWJD: my new motto.

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Julia married “late” in life, but to a fantastic man who whisked her off to Paris where she learned to love food and become an expert cook and then an international bestseller and beloved TV star.

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Paul Child: photographer, wine lover, graphic designer,  and lover of the world.

Julia and Paul Child

And a new dear friend Hannah, among others, brought her to us, and then threw us a dinner party with all Julia recipes — it was all Julia, all night! A beautiful night in a beautiful home with beautiful people.

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And our goody bag was a fondue package which I shared with Dave and friends at a game night later in the week.

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Sharing just makes everything better.

The Master of Weekends

5 Dec

I don’t usually post about how often I post, because I find that to be one of the most annoying clichés used in blogging, but it’s been so long that WordPress has changed in my absence. For anyone new reading my blog, there’s enough to slough through for days! I’ve been writing for over three years, and if you get through that – and you’re savvy enough – you can probably find some horrid livejournal account I wrote as a teen out there somewhere in internet land.

But for those of you who have been with me for a while, I just saw that I’ve only posted once in the last three months. This isn’t to say I haven’t been writing. I have 18 drafts waiting to be edited and put out there for the world to read, but a lot of them are of a somewhat political nature. And my personal posts usually involve photos, which has been hampered lately by my desktop crashing, along with my photos. I will post more, and soon, it just isn’t the right time yet. As Julia Child says, asked when her next book will be done: “When it is done.” She is my newest hero.

I recently had a perfect weekend. It was perfectly miserable outside every day (and was for at least a week straight), but I managed to find the only time it wasn’t raining on Saturday to photograph some very sweet girls I used to nanny. I really appreciate the chance to stay connected, to take these photos every year, and to see them grow up.

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The weekend really started on Thursday night, when I had a girls’ night out with Katye and Whitney at a Junior League event at the Williams-Sonoma in Ponce City Market. We had the babies with us, who were of course the talk of the party because they’re so stinking cute. I got to be Brady’s date — he fell asleep on me for 45 minutes! We also were given a coffee demonstration of a Nespresso machine, which I now want. The coffee was fantastic. Probably some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. And the tastings were delicious, but we still ordered from Panita Thai as soon as we got home. I feel confident saying that it claims the prize of most delicious Thai food in Atlanta right now.

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My mom dropped off Tashi, her adorable shih tzu, on Friday, which was great since it got very cold all weekend and we just cuddled in front of the fire all day reading, puzzling, watching movies, playing Legos, building with Magna-tiles… I love being stuck inside, because I love indoor activities. I could read books all day long every day. Saturday night we watched the movie Whiplash, which is a fantastic, well-done, very intense film about a budding jazz drummer. I loved it, and it also set the stage for our next and final evening of that fabulous weekend.

Sunday was the most interesting day. In the morning Dave and I made the most delicious breakfast burrito we’ve ever made before, which Walter of course refused to eat. Then we cleaned up a bit, puzzled some more, showered, etc. We again ordered Panita Thai for take out with my parents at my mom’s house. We needed to drop off the baby and my mom’s dog because we had a concert to go to!

The week before, I decided to check for Puscifer tickets on a lark, assuming there would be none as Tool shows usually sell out in a few minutes (or less) for much bigger venues. I had wanted to buy them a month earlier when they had gone on sale, but we didn’t have it in the budget at the time. Lo and behold, there were seats available for the cheapest price! And wouldn’t you know it, they turned out to be great seats! So of course I bought two as soon as I had cleared babysitting with Nini.

Maynard James Keenan likes to perform with Puscifer at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, which is wildly fantastic because the place was designed specifically for musical shows, and the seats and bathrooms are of high quality. So are the people working there, and the decor. It is where grown-ups go to listen to music. And, as it turns out, I am becoming one of those grown-ups who likes a decent place to see a show.

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Walt, on the night of the show, kept telling us that yes, he was 18, not three, and he should be allowed to go to the concert with mommy. Oh, children always want to grow up too fast!

It was dangerous driving around Sunday night, with the rain, temperatures, wind, and wet leaves everywhere on the road. We took back roads after making a pit stop at Lowe’s to buy a new doorbell and to use the restroom. I am nearly blind at night, but I had on my glasses and was trying to help. At one point we almost ran in to a deer. When we finally got to the theatre, I was frisked pretty good coming inside. It was 90% airport intensity.

Once inside we traveled up to the Grand Tier, stopping to grab a couple Monday Night Brews on the way. This very nice concession stand gentleman worker showed me a picture of “my baby,” by which I thought he meant grandbaby, since he looked pretty old. Whoops. There was a long moment of awkwardness as I congratulated him several times, and took off.

We got to our seats just as Maynard walked out and the show started. It then proceeded to be a perfect experience, except for the time a girl dropped her phone on Dave’s head, forgot to apologize, then interrupted us for several minutes shouting about getting her phone back as it had dropped down several rows. The man in front of us, who had been enthusiastically dancing to the songs in his seat (because in this place you sit when you listen to music), got yelled at by security for being on his phone, then he half stood up and shouted to his girlfriend about gosh-knows-what for half a song before leaving for a bathroom break. Sometimes people-watching is more interesting than the main act!

But what a show Maynard puts on!

To me, it is like church. The music he creates with others and the entire experience (when he cares, because I’ve seen how he acts when he’s just doing something to make money) is spiritual. It has always been this way when I see his shows — and really any other amazing live performance, especially music.

On the way home from yet another wonderful evening with Maynard & co., we stopped to get hot Krispy Kreme donuts and a decaf coffee. And one of their 2016 coupon calendars that features pictures of cute animals posed with donuts. Cause who doesn’t need one of those?

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.

IMG_20150630_151406175
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.

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?

Braves 2
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.

new mulch bed
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?