Where’s Waldo?

Today started off with the big kid’s first appointment to begin the process of braces. We went to North Campus to find some Pokemon, grabbed some breakfast and then were headed to a local jewelry store I love. He had gotten a shark tooth from the swim team awards and wanted to get it put on some string for a necklace.

The first thing we see is a sign for a Where’s Waldo? scavenger hunt. There was a Waldo hidden in the store and if you found it you could pick a rock. A ROCK?!?!? The big kid is obsessed with rocks. Waldo was located and the difficult decision of choosing a rock began. The store employees told us that they were out of the Passport booklets that you get stamped but that Avid Bookstore had some. Then they told us that there were 25 stores in the Athens area where you could find Waldo.

We hit up Avid (love, love, love this little bookstore) and were provided a Passport. We found Waldo in their store. And next door at Model Citizen. Then the big kid reads the back that says if you find 10 you get a pin and a coupon for $1 off a Waldo book. Okay, we’re definitely getting 10 stamps. We already have two! But wait-if you get 20 out of the 25, you also get entered into a drawing to win a prize package worth $150. The big kid takes after his paternal grandfather on this one. He HAD to get 20 stamps. What was in that prize package? If he didn’t get the 20 stamps he wouldn’t even have a CHANCE!

You can guess how I spent the rest of my day. We started at 10am-ish., aside from the 30 minute break we took when we grabbed lunch at Taco Stand, we were looking for Waldo. We walked over 5 miles today looking for Waldo. Some places we were able to group together and drive to and then walk between. But most were within walking distance of one another. So we walked. In the heat. My God, the heat.

Did we get those 20 stamps? You bet your ass we did. It was fun. Some stores/restaurants were difficult and some were super easy. We didn’t turn in the passport yet. We’re saving that for Friday. FullSizeRender (5)

Recharging those batteries

I was lucky enough to have two girls nights/weekends in a row this month. I don’t know how things worked out that way but they did. Last weekend we had a sleepover with the big girls and our littles. It was a fun day and my little is already asking when we can schedule another one.

This past weekend I spent two nights away from the fam and had lots of big girl time. It was much needed. Aside from all the stresses and headaches that come with coordinating and executing a move across states, the day to day of managing a home is draining. Being the person who knows when everyone needs everything and then making sure it’s done can be overwhelming and exhausting. And thankless. It can be really thankless work. I think sometimes things get done, stuff is handled and no one stops to think how those things came about. I’ll tell you how, I did it! I know a lot of my mom-friends feel my pain and while we are all happy to do these things (and we do them well) it still drains us from being ourselves at times.

Friday night I went with two friends to the Boneshakers Reunion at the 40 Watt. Back in the day, Boneshakers was my favorite place to go when I was ready to let off some steam. Whether it was to see a drag show or just dance my heart out, I always had a great time and met great people. We went to dinner and then saw some of the queens who graced the stage back when we were younger. It was a fun night.

Saturday we went to the Foot Palace and got our relaxation on, lunch, resting time and then dinner. And then we danced. A couple of us took a break to gab and catch up but still we danced. And we laughed. The laughing, that’s the part that fills my heart.

One of these friends is especially a joy to my heart because we’ve known each other since I was 15 years old. That’s almost 23 years. She’s known me through all sorts of trials and tribulations. She’s known me at my worst. She’s been my friend, when I was a shitty friend. And she welcomed my friendship when I fought to be a better version of myself. That’s a special friendship that I can’t adquately describe. I have done a lot of work on figuring out my shit. On being aware and trying to be a better person. I still stumble. I’m human. The difference now is that I’m trying. I want to be the friend/mother/spouse that I deserve. Because don’t we all deserve that? So I try to own my shit. When I stumble, if I haven’t already noticed, I want my people to tell me. I want to be able to look at my actions or words and own that, but also make an effort not to do it again. I’m so very grateful that this friend has accepted me after having been through the parts of me when I wasn’t self aware and wasn’t trying to be the best for anyone, including myself.

The weekend is over and I feel recharged. I love my kiddos. But sometimes I need a break to think about only feeding myself or to talk about adult things. Or to dance way past bedtime.

Now it’s the last week before school starts. The big kid has to start a brand new school where he doesn’t know anyone. The little is starting Kindergarten. All the feelings are happening this week.

We came. We helped. We Pokemon-ed.

Our water delivery to the homeless was derailed a few days but this past Tuesday my sweets and I took to the streets. We stopped by our local Sam’s Club and she chose a snack item for us to offer along with our ice cold waters.  It was a comfortable 96 degrees F outside that day.

I brought along our fold up garden wagon to haul the cooler with waters and snacks, so I took a very small crossbody purse and just grabbed my ID, Target card (you never know when you’ll need to stop by Target) and my Discover card. About 10 minutes from downtown I realize I had no cash and the parking meters don’t take Discover.

No problem. I’ll just park in the deck. As we pull in, I don’t see a Discover sticker. We start on our adventure and I find $2 in my shorts pocket. Fast forward to us leaving the deck and the parking attendant’s lack of amusement when I tell her I have no way to pay her because they don’t take Discover. She says to me, “That’s right. We don’t.” Then she scans my ticket and it’s only $2 and myself and my sweets throw our hands up cheering. The parking attendant is very confused but happily takes my $2 and wishes us a nice day.

Prior to our possible parking issue, we walked around pulling the wagon and asking a few (I think maybe 6?) homeless if they’d like some water and snacks. She was nervous and asked me if I would speak to them. Two turned down the snacks but thanked us for the water (not everyone likes Chex Mix, we knew that might happen). Two told us we were awesome and how much they appreciated us thinking of doing such a thing. We had to walk almost the entire length of downtown to find those 6 homeless. We probably should have gone out earlier in the day when it wasn’t quite so hot. Maybe next time we will have better luck.

Before we put our things back in the car, we walked up to the first person we had come upon and asked him if he’d like more water since he had a bag that he could load up. He thanked us again and said he’d love to have a couple but wouldn’t take more than three because he said he wanted there to be enough for others. As we walked back to the car my sweets and I talked about how good it felt to do something, even if so very small, for someone else. We talked about how we might be able to help more people next time. I’m thinking of trying to find an insulated backpack that I could load with cold waters to take with me anytime I go downtown. That way I’m always prepared in case I see someone who might be thirsty.

Then we loaded the car back up and went back to the streets with Pokemon Go. Downtown Athens is ripe with Pokemon. Also, I don’t understand Pokemon. Honestly, I downloaded it on Monday to play with the big kid since I thought it would be something we could do together. But we couldn’t find any in Atlantic Station. My sweets was mildly amused with the app. She tends to be more like I am with those sorts of things though. I’ll have to take the big kid to walk around campus and see if we find more there.

Homeless Helpers

Moving back to Georgia has been an adjustment for my kids. For me, I feel like I was welcomed back by the city I love with open arms. But things are a bit different here. We don’t live in Athens proper but we head there on the regular. It’s a progressive city. The people are diverse. Creativity blooms here like no other place I’ve been.

One of the major differences (for them) has been the homeless. Where we moved from, you didn’t encounter homeless. In Nashville, yes, absolutely. But we weren’t that close to Nashville. There were no resources for homeless folks in the area where we lived (one of my frustrations as a social worker).

A few weeks ago we were walking around downtown Athens and a man stopped me and asked for change. I didn’t have any and I told him I was sorry. We kept walking. My sweets (remember she’s 5, almost 6 ) said she bet he asked me for change because he was hungry. She had a sandwich bag of Goldfish crackers in her hand and said she should have given him her Goldfish. She talked about giving that man her Goldfish over and over with such regret. When we walked back through he wasn’t there.

Since then she’s talked about that man and her Goldfish numerous times. Today we were running errands and going to check out a couple of gymnastic places. She told me she had decided she wanted me to take her downtown. She wanted to get a bunch of bags of goldfish and some cold water bottles. She said she wanted me to walk around with her so she could give them out to any homeless people we could find. My sweets said to me, “It’s too hot to sit outside all day. They need cold water. I think some of them are hungry. I want to give them snacks, too.” I told her I loved the idea and was happy to help her. She became very excited and said “We can call ourselves Homeless Helpers!”.

I’m not sure about the name, but I have to say I’m in love with her heart. It’s often funny to me that this child, who will cut you with a look, has the biggest heart. She is so full of empathy and compassion. This afternoon I will go and buy a case of water to put in the fridge, so they get nice and cold. Tomorrow on the way downtown, we’re going to stop at Sam’s Club and pick up some snacks. Armed with our red wagon we’re going to go and hand out cold waters and snacks. Just me and my sweet little homeless helper.

Shadow Cat. Second installment

The old man’s depression had worsened and worsened. He’d go out into the garden each morning and sit amongst the flowers his wife had planted and contemplate ending his life. All the while the Shadow Cat would watch, carefully hidden in tall grass.

One day, the man walked out of the house, seeming calm and carrying a rope. He sat briefly in the garden, praying. Picking up the rope, he started toward the trees. Shadow Cat darted from the grass and ran up to the man. He rubbed his body slowly against the man’s legs, purring and waiting. The man stood still, stopped in his tracks by the appearance of the cat. The man looked down and then squatted to pet the cat. Shadow Cat flinched but obliged. The man spoke sweetly to the cat, stroking his fur. The man asked the cat if he was hungry. Shadow Cat stopped purring and looked up at the man.

“I think that’s a yes. Let’s go my friend.” The man started toward his cottage and the cat followed behind. The rope laid in the grass where the man had left it.

From that day, the cat lived in the cottage with the man. The man would go fishing and the cat would come along, eating his prizes right there on the dock. The man would go into town and the cat would join him being rewarded with various goodies.

In the winter the cat stayed warm by the heat of the fire. The man loved the cat. He read, and even began to take an interest in painting. Shadow Cat never paid much attention to what the man was doing. He was a simple man, so the cat didn’t feel much attention was needed. One day, as they were out near the small, broken barn, the man was working on a painting. Shadow Cat had been sleeping in the hay and woke up. As he stretched he caught a glimpse of what the man had been painting. It was him! Shadow Cat leapt from his position, flying through the air and slashed through the painting.

The man had gone to get a drink of water and when he returned saw the slashed painting. Confused, the man looked around and in the corner of the barn was Shadow Cat cleaning himself. For a moment the man thought perhaps the cat had done it but he had never done anything like that so he dismissed the thought. The man began packing up. Shadow Cat snuck off into the barn.

The man walked slowly, carrying his supplies back to the cottage. He was almost to the cottage and nearly tripped over the cat at his feet.

“Oh!” The man cried out. He laughed at himself looking down at his beloved cat.

The man opened the door to the cottage and went over to the corner where he kept his art supplies. His other paintings were leaned against the wall. He had planned to go to the market to sell them. He looked at the slashed painting and shook his head. He moved several of the other canvases to put the slashed one in the back and paused. Hidden amongst the landscapes of the creek, lake, and barn were other paintings he had done of the cat. Each one had been slashed.

Quickly he turned and spotted the cat sitting at the foot of his favorite chair. The man looked back at the paintings. The cat had been with him, there’s no way he could have done that. And what kind of cat would slash certain paintings but not others? Surely if an animal was going to be destructive it would have ruined all the paintings. The man looked back at the cat and the cat was sitting up straight staring right at the man.

The cat hissed and the man staggered back, surprised. The cat began to purr and curled up into a ball. The man placed the ruined paintings back with the others.  He was beginning to wonder if there was more to this cat.

MIA & Things we’ve enjoyed around Atlanta

It’s been over a week since my last blog and I have no real excuse for not having blogged since. I’ve been taking the kids to do things. I had a hair appointment with my new hair lady (which stirred up feelings of missing my friend and TN hair lady). Thankfully, I love the new hair lady. But I still miss my friend.

Then the world continued to make my head and heart hurt and so I’ve just not been able to formulate anything intelligible.

We had a pretty awesome July 4th BBQ with old friends and new friends. The kids had a great time and made new friends. That makes my heart happy.

I’ve been taking classes at our local YMCA, trying to get myself where I am more comfortable. The Tabata class is no joke.

So far, I’ve taken the kids (sometimes just one of them) to a few different things around Atlanta. Since I can’t seem to come up with a blog idea that involves anything of substance, here’s a list of places we’ve been around Atlanta and what I thought of them.

Six Flags over Georgia: The boy and the hubs have season passes. We went on Father’s Day when the sweets and I could get in free. It was super hot the day we went. We splurged on the refillable mug that you can bring back and refill for free for the season. We filled that thing up no less than 7 times. We all four took turns guzzling Powerade and Sprite. The sweets really enjoyed the DC kids area and the Bugs Bunny rides. The Monster Mansion is pretty much the same as it was when I was a kid. All in all, we had a great day. I was going to get a season pass for the sweets and I but apparently they only give you the discount during sales if you buy 4 or more passes. So, we’ve not bought a pass at this point.

Zoo Atlanta: It was HOT the day we went. My kids were cranky. They seemed unimpressed. I, however, enjoyed it and wished I had gone alone so there would have been less whining. I like that the zoo is spaced out well. There are animals there that they didn’t have at our beloved Nashville Zoo. I’d like to go back but maybe I’ll go alone.

Center for Puppetry Arts: Did you know it’s the largest organization dedicated to puppetry in the U.S.? I have such fond memories of going there as a child. It’s been renovated and even though my sweets ran through it, I really enjoyed it. I didn’t get to read much as we passed through the exhibits. That’s one reason why my attendance to the Labyrinth exhibit (opening September 2nd) will be adults only. The puppet show that we saw was unbelievably good. Amazing, actually. Really enjoyed it and so did she. I’m contemplating buying a membership for the two of us (the boys have made it clear they don’t want to go to puppet shows). Between now and May 2017 there are something like 12 puppet shows, and almost every one of them my sweets and I would like to see.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History: Again, another childhood favorite of mine. We went just this week to meet up with some friends who now live in Florida with their two kids. My kids loved the Nature Quest area on the top floor. I ended up using our ticket credit to go toward a membership since I had a $20 off coupon from Local Flavor. If we had gone just one more time it would have paid for the membership so it seemed like a no-brainer. Plus we’ll get a discount on IMAX movies. We have a lot of Tennessee friends who might visit and this would be the perfect place to go with all the kiddos. Even in the morning weekday hours the drive took me just over an hour. Not bad.

There are some other things we have on the agenda for later this month before school starts.

White Water: I think it’s called Six Flags White Water now. I don’t know. Growing up, it was White Water. It’s a huge water park. The hubs and boy both have season passes to Six Flags so we’re going to take advantage of a bring a friend day this month and take the kids to White Water. They both love swimming and last year I took them to a water park in Alabama and they loved it.

Bodies, The Exhibition: Okay, so this one is just me and the boy. Every summer, since he started school, we’ve had a day when just the two of us go and do something. It’s always a museum because no one else wants to stop and read everything. I heard about this from my new hair lady (just in case you’re wondering that is the correct term instead of sytlist or whatevs). I checked it out and was thoroughly creeped out. It said there were kid programs and I showed him the pictures. His exact words were, “Eww. Gross. That’s so creepy. I want to go.” So I bought discount Groupon tickets and we’re going in the next couple of weeks.