Shadow Cat: The legend. The hunting. The haunting.

Hidden deep in the forests surrounding a little town in Georgia, there lives a creature so vile, so evil that few dare to go near him. He is the Shadow Cat. Who is lurking in the shadows when you come home late at night? It is Shadow Cat. When you can’t sleep, you hear a noise and fear makes its way up your spine, what is waiting for you? It is Shadow Cat.

Many moons ago, before the town was a town, there lived a lonely, sad man. He had lost his wife to disease during the fall of the previous year. The couple never had children. Once his wife died he was alone on his farm. The farm was many acres. When the man felt the great sadness overtake him he would walk the farm. Hours and hours would go by and then man would simply walk in silence. At the very edge of his farm there was a creek hidden by trees. The man would go to the creek. Sometimes, if the mood would strike him, he would take off his shoes. The man would wade in the water, closing his eyes and feeling the coolness of the water running over his bare feet.

During one of his lonely walks, he came to the creek and saw a curious white shape lurking behind a tree. The man waded in the water and then sat upon a large rock. He felt the creature watching him. The man looked toward the tree and saw the white shape move, ever so slightly. After a few more moments of the man watching the creature and the creature watching the man, the man realized the creature was a cat.

The man smiled and began to call for the cat, coaxing him over. The cat sat, still watching the man, not moving. The man began to walk toward the cat. The cat remained still until the man was about a foot away and then the cat ran off into the woods. The man stopped, surprised by the immense sadness that filled him. He had been alone for so long. He went back to his rock and sat. Tears flowed down his cheeks and his shoulders heaved with sobs. He thought of his wife and cried for her. He thought of his lonely life. When all the tears had been cried, he put his shoes back on and walked out of the forest, away from the creek and back through the fields. Sitting in the shadows between the trees, watching the man, was the cat.

To be continued…

Leaving Tennessee

Almost 10 years ago, my husband and I were unemployed and looking for a new adventure. We had no children. We had both finished graduate school a year earlier, both had jobs that weren’t for us and decided to look outside of Georgia. A job offer, that he wasn’t entirely excited about, brought us to Tennessee.

Things didn’t go exactly as I had expected. That job, turned out to be something he loved. He had an amazing boss, co-workers he loved, and he grew and flourished there for 7 years. We didn’t have many friends for awhile. I worked in Nashville. My work friends, were in Nashville. Then, just a few months after moving here, I found out I was pregnant. I went from working to staying home and mostly being alone.

Then I took all the extrovert that I had inside of me and went to a MOMS Club meeting, knowing no one. I had only spoken to one person on the phone, a fellow Georgia fan. Hallelujah for Alia. If it hadn’t been for that hint of home in my phone conversation with her I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to go to that meeting. But I went and I met several ladies. I joined a walking group. I made friends.

Over the next several years those friends were there for my family and I during losing my grandmother, miscarriages, depression, making this place feel like home. They were there for joyous events as well. Backyard cookouts, girls nights, having my baby girl. We built a family here.

I have genuinely loved nearly everything my children have been involved in here. I have been so fortunate to have an amazing pediatrician (who I actually like talking to), I can’t even put into words how I feel about the lovely, wonderful Dr. Rupe. I switched to her after my first miscarriage after finding out I was pregnant while still waiting for a cycle. Sadly, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage as well, but she was so amazing that saying she was amazing doesn’t do her justice.

We’ve lived our lives here. We’ve cried, we’ve laughed, we’ve grieved, we’ve rejoiced. One of my favorite sights, to this day, are the hills I see from the interstate as I drive from The Hill into Franklin. Things are so green here and beautiful! It’s not nearly as humid as Georgia. And there are so many people here, people that I love. People who I will miss dearly and sincerely hope that we still see, despite the physical distance.

As I near our moving date (only two more days, and honestly I’m procrastinating more cleaning and the last bit of packing to write this), I’m having all the feelings. I’m excited about my new freelance adventure, and the possibilities that holds. It feels like I’m getting the chance to truly live my dream. I’m scared shitless and excited beyond words all at the same time. I’m excited to see my Georgia peeps and take my kids to some of my favorite Georgia places. But, I’m sad that I’m not going to be spending my days with my peeps at the pool. There won’t be a downtown splashpad day this summer. When we have cookouts, there will be people missing, that I will be missing.

All the feelings. I haven’t cried yet. It’s bubbling below the surface. Fingers crossed it happens before or after I’m in the car 6 hours with an anxious dog and kids who are going to fight most likely. At least I can give the dog something to chill her out.

Tennessee, this is not a final goodbye. We will cross paths. We will get to visit each other. And when I am not close to you, you will be in my thoughts and my heart.

Overextended

I tend to overextend myself. I think I can get more done than I can, or I’ll even get it all done but I’ll be exhausted afterward. No one tells me to do these things. I do them to live up to my own image of how I expect something to be. I’m a classic self-saboteur.

We load our house up a week from today. A week. From today. All week I’ve been packing. The more I pack, the more stuff I see. It’s somehow multiplying. I think all my stuff has turned into Gremlins and someone is pouring water on it.

This week I decided that I HAD to re-finish some furniture for my sweets. She’s been using my great-grandmother’s bed for quite some time, but she doesn’t like it. It’s too tall! It’s not pretty! I’ve promised to buy her a beautiful step stool, the kind that opens up so you can put stuff inside it. You know, the kind princesses use? I have planned to paint it but just haven’t gotten around to it. I got it in my head that it had to be done before we moved so that we could set her room up as soon as we move in. I kept thinking I’m just going to want to unpack everything and then lay on the floor. I’m not going to feel like painting furniture. So I made myself crazy and sore and tired and painted my great-grandmother’s bed and my grandmother’s dresser. There’s a mirror that attaches to the dresser but that bad boy is going to have to wait until we move.

I used Southern Honey chalk paint. I’ve used it several times. I like it, the colors are nice. For the bed I did a coat of pink (Loretta) and then two coats of off-white-ish (Blanche). It probably needed 3, but since I did the dresser first and did 3 coats on that I was over it. Then I used a coat of clear creme wax that I found at Home Depot. I actually really liked it. It didn’t end up sticky after I applied it. I think it was supposed to buff it once it dried but it wasn’t sticky and I was happy with the level of sheen, so I didn’t. I’ve always wanted to age something with dark wax. I’ve been skeered. I bought some of that from Home Depot as well. After a coat of clear, I then took a chipper brush and dipped it in the dark wax (I used brown), in the clear wax and dabbed it onto a clean paper plate. I used the brush to apply it and then a clean rag to wipe it off.

For the dresser, I painted the entire thing 3 coats of the Blanche color. The drawers I used a grey color and Loretta (pink) again. I put two coats of clear on the dresser (I wasn’t over it at that point) and then used the dark wax combo to age it as well. I don’t have a before picture of that because I’m scattered brained and I forgot.

You’ll notice that there’s a gap in the wood box on the left. I didn’t attempt to fix it. I thought about it afterward, but since there’s a good chance that she’s going to cause me to have a stroke by coloring all over the damn thing anyway, I said screw it.

An open letter to my person

You know who you are. Most people who are friends with me, know who you are. This whole moving thing, well it means a lot of things are going to happen. Good things, things I’m excited about. It also means that I’m moving away from you, my person.

It was one of those love stories that you don’t see coming. I thought for the longest time that you didn’t like me. And then, like most love stories, we found each other through a mutual love of gangster rap. It was fate, put into motion with the sweet, loving sounds of Eazy E. Gimmie that Nutt? Gimme that Sister Wife.

We did things together that I never thought I’d do in a million years. We went to bible study together. The most entertaining, enlightening bible study that ever was. We shared with each other the crazy, messed up things that were speckled throughout our upbringings and understood each other.

This is not to say that we are alike. You are the yin to my yang. We are vastly different in a lot of ways. We challenge each other. We try to accept each other. We do two people book clubs on boundaries and learn about why you have to have them. We cry to each other when we are sure that we are screwing up this whole motherhood thing. We celebrate each other’s parenting wins. And we listen to each other when one of us needs to talk through a difficult situation, unsure how to best parent but confident that surely that’s why therapy was invented.

Some of the most emotionally difficult years of parenting for me have been with you by my side. That’s not to say that this union of ours hasn’t been without a few bumps. We’ve fought. We’ve disagreed. How many times has our relationship been tested by our different tastes in television and movies? Countless. I still lose sleep over it occasionally. But we grow and learn and make it through.

Our relationship has changed over the last two years. First you went back to work full-time. We went from playdates with our kids a few times a week to seeing each other on the weekends. Then, you took a leap of faith and quit your job to start your photography business. I have so much admiration for you. There were times when you weren’t sure that it was going to work out. But I had faith in you, I knew that you were on the path to something wonderful. I’m so proud to be your friend.

Our kids have been in different schools, different activities and we both have different commitments. The landscape of things has changed. We aren’t together every weekend. Sometimes we don’t even talk for days. But I know that no matter what’s going on with you, what you are working on, if I need you, you’ll be there. I know that when life has made it so that we don’t get to see each other as often, it’s only because you are out there being your wonderful, welcoming self. Or more recently I’m drowning in boxes. What am I going to do, keep you all to myself? I’m not a monster.

Distance is not going to change much. Just frequency of face to face time. That’s it. You and I, are sister wives. You are the wife that will go with my husband and my big kid to do things that there’s no way I’m going to do. And I’m the wife that will take your youngest and your husband and go ride kiddie rides. That’s who we are.  That’s why this works.

We haven’t talked about me moving in great detail. I don’t know that we need to. We will find a way to see each other. We’ve taken two vacations together and still haven’t broken up. That’s something, right? You are my person.

Since I won’t be here all the time to nag you, I’m going to leave this here. Because you need a few reminders. Take care of yourself. You are the most amazing and wonderful person at giving everyone else what they need. You show up for your friends with such ferocity and love. Take care of yourself. Ask for what you need, and don’t be shy about taking it. Keep yourself surrounded by people who appreciate what you bring to the friendship. Because you bring more than most. You deserve the same in return. I only hope I’ve given you the same friendship that you’ve given me. Don’t let someone else’s shit, become your shit. It’s our mantra now, remember to repeated it when needed. Say no. This one deserves repeating. Say no. You can’t help everyone and do everything. I know you want to and sometimes feel like you have to, but you don’t. Say no. You are an unbelievable mother. You go out of your way to learn ways to provide your kids with what they need. You are the type of mother we all deserve. I hope you know that. I’m so very thankful and #blessed (I didn’t even throw up in my mouth when I typed that) that you are my person.

Kid Review: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Megan age 10

This is the second kid’s book review in my series of books reviewed and read by kids. Megan is this week’s reviewer. Megan is 10 years old but reads on a high school level so she often has the issue of finding a book that is interesting to her yet also appropriate for her age.

 

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Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

What book are you reviewing?

-I’m reviewing “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” by Chris Grabenstein.

What made you choose this book?

-My librarian recommended it to me because I couldn’t find any other books that were my reading level and that were appropriate.

What was interesting to you about this book?

-I think it’s interesting that it’s this giant library filled with all this amazing technology. And it’s the coolest library in the world.

Who was your favorite character?

-My favorite character was Sierra Russell.

What would you tell other kids about this book?

-It’s a book about books. It has lots of references to other books and all of them are really good.

Would you recommend this book to other kids?

Yeah. There are these puzzles with pictures. And you can solve them before the book says the answer and it’s really fun. I did that with most of them. Some of them are really hard though.

Does this book remind you of any other book?

I think it reminds me of Alice and Wonderland because it’s just really amazing and fun. And there’s a surprise around every corner.

-Was there a character you didn’t like? Who and why?

I didn’t like Charles Chillington probably because he’s supposed to be pretty much a villain. He’s not like gonna ‘destroy the world’ villain but he pretty much despises Kyle Keeley, who is the main character.

-Is there any question that you wanted answered that you didn’t get answered?

I think I want to tell other kids that this book, it’s just really opens your mind and I wish that all libraries could be like Mr. Lemoncello’s library.

 

Chris Grabenstein has written for both children and adults. My son, Harrison, has read several of the books that he co-authored with James Patterson! It was exciting to learn that he also grew up in Tennessee. Both Megan and Harrison enjoyed that little tidbit.

Cap and gown time

Tomorrow my sweets, my youngest, the one who I thought would break me when she was a toddler, graduates from Pre-K. Before having kids, I’d see people posting pictures of their kids graduating Pre-K and it seemed…strange. Unnecessary? But like most things that I thought before having kids, I was wrong.

Her going to kindergarten in the fall makes me think  of where she was when she started in the 3 year old class, coming home with a note within the first few weeks for throwing her food on the floor because she didn’t like what I had packed (where does she get this stuff from? *clearing throat*). Or when she got another note because she refused to share. Or later on in the year when they couldn’t tell me how high she could count after her end-of-year assessment because she refused telling her teacher, “I’m don’t have to count. I’m a princess and princesses don’t have to count. Don’t ask me again.”

After the first year in preschool she was terrified of getting in trouble. After the first note she was grounded for T.V. for a day. So she barely spoke. When they took her picture, she’d stare but not smile.

She’s never enjoyed reading. I’d read a few pages and she’d make me put the book down. Every time. She and her brother were night and day. He loved when I read to him, even as a baby. As soon as he could walk he’d bring me book after book to read. Then I discovered Pinkalicious. And suddenly, we could read to her. Not usually more than one book, but the whole book.

This year, she decided she wanted to learn to read before kindergarten. She told me it was her “goal”. She finished her baggie book program early and when I read with her now, she’s sounding out words, some of which she is able to read right away.

My girl, who didn’t care about learning the way her brother did, loves to learn. She’s excited about starting kindergarten and mad that she only went to school 2 days a week this year. She pushes herself and challenges herself. She’s kind and loving and honest. She is who she is and doesn’t care who knows it. She’s just the right mixture of myself and her dad that we’re both terrified.

This girl, this girl has changed and grown into such a big kid that she absolutely needs a ceremony to signify that she’s going to the big kid school in the fall. She needs to put on that cap and gown and walk across the stage. I’m going to lose it. I’m going to cry and sob like a giant baby. And not just because I’m taking a Valium earlier when my mom takes me to have a mole cut out and stitched up (I’m so nervous!), but because this kid is my last baby. My last first day of preschool, my last Pre-K graduation. There won’t be Mommy dates while her big brother is in school, because she’s going to be there too. This part is over. I know from how things changed with her brother that they are going to change with her too. Most of her time is going to be school time. Not Mommy time. It’s a different phase. Exciting? Yes, and not just for her. But, still sad. I’m going to miss our time together, just the two of us.

Tomorrow night, I will clap and cry and force her to take pictures in her cap and gown. Congratulations to my sweets. She is a big girl now.

It’s morning time!

It’s morning time…Morning time is here!

I was taking the dog out to the bathroom this morning. It was before 7am. I had an arm full of recycling and as I tried to hold onto the leash she pulled almost throwing me inside the recycling bin. Thanks girl!

Brushing myself off, I walked back over to the driveway and pushed her prissy butt into the dewy grass so she could go to the bathroom. I took a deep breath and looked around as she sniffed and pulled on the leash. The sun was out but the air still had that little bit of chill that it does in late spring. Birds were chirping all around me and in the distance a dog barked.

I looked up and saw a lone jogger run by up the hill. I closed my eyes and took another deep breath and remembered why I love mornings so much. This feeling, this quiet new-ness of the day before anything has a chance to go to crap. That’s where it’s at. I’ve always been a morning person. I’m a light sleeper so once I’m up, I’m up. And since having kids, forget sleeping in. Recently both kids were at a sleep over. We slept until 6:45am. I’m not joking.

So, on this morning, before anything had a chance to go to crap, I looked around taking in the sounds of the birds. Appreciating the sparkle of the dewy grass. And watching a mama bird go and get worms from the neighbor’s backyard and then fly back to the tree close to us and feed her babies in the nest. The sky is blue and the air is invigorating. Morning time is here….It’s morning time!