Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Structural Racism is a Bitch

A couple of weeks ago Jackson asked about the nutcracker that sits on top of the mantel. I explained that it was a decorative one, not a real one. He asked if we could get a real one and I said yes. So I ordered a real nut cracker from the internets and bought a bag of assorted nuts for him to try his hand at and we had everything ready to go yesterday morning. So while Jackson was finishing up the dishes after breakfast, I grabbed a bowl and went back to the table with the nutcrackers in hand. Jerimiah was sitting there watching as I opened the bag of nuts and poured them in. They were the assorted kind with pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and Brazilian nuts. The kind we both remembered from our childhoods back in the Midwest.

I pulled a walnut out first and cracked it open. Jerimiah said that was his favorite kind, so I used the pick to dig the rest out for him. Then came the almond, then the hazelnut. Then I pulled out the Brazilian nut and I stopped, my hand holding it up in the air when I had a memory blaze across my mind. Jerimiah had the exact same memory I had, even though we lived in two separate places, hundreds of miles away from each other. We looked at the nut, then at each other. We weren’t sure what to say, so Jerimiah spoke first.

“Talk about overt racism,” he said, and I nodded.

The memory that Jerimiah and I share from our separate childhoods is horrific. I’m full of shame just writing about it today, but certainly we are not the only ones who were forced to hear this as children and certainly we can’t shy away from the facts of this here country and the way white people are. The nickname passed down from generation to generation for this particular nut is a “N-word Toe.”

That’s how I knew the nut growing up and I had completely forgotten about that particular part of my childhood Christmases, then there it was, quite suddenly in front of me once again. Jerimiah told me his grandparents called it that. I told him my mother called it that, and so did all her friends. My mother was born in 1944. She was 13 years old before she saw anyone who was not white, only heard about people of color in terms not so polite. The N-word was used regularly during her childhood, on the tobacco farms my grandfather tended and in the rural schools she attended in Platte County, Missouri.

This was a normal way of life, but why this particular nut was nicknamed that I do not know. I refuse to know, actually. I refuse to Google it, give it any validation. I have suspicions of course, but we will leave them where they lie. All I know is a pit came up in my stomach when I saw that nut again after all these years and I didn’t know what to do. Neither did Jerimiah, so we did what we thought was right. We explained all of it to Jackson.

Jackson sat and listened intently, but when we shared the nickname his jaw dropped. I wasn’t sure how to take that. First I thought how good it is that he’s astounded to hear such nonsense, then I wondered if I am shielding him too much from the way structural racism, including covert and over racism, works. I wondered whether we need to do a deep dive into how just 20 years ago this was the way of the world, and explain in some parts of the country, in some small towns, in some homes, homes of family members we know and love, this is still the way of the world. I was at a crossroads and I guess I still am.

I’m not incredibly sure why I’m sharing this today. I could have kept this a secret. I think, however, that shameful secrets can bog you down. And I know, like with most of my writing, that I hope to evoke some kind of social change by sharing. But that’s at the macro level I suppose. Quite specifically, most days I feel a large responsibility toward others. Toward validating the lives of people who carry shame from their families and their childhoods and who are still working and learning to get things right, as well as toward the people who are oppressed and hurt by people like me. That’s a tall order, I know. But one I will keep plugging at for the rest of my life.

M.

Little Plans, Big City

There are normally a ton of things to do around Atlanta at Christmastime and last year we did a lot of them. Last year we went to the Christkindl Market. We rode Macy’s Pink Pig, which is a thing all Atlantans have to do at the holiday, saw the World’s Largest Cruise Ship made from gingerbread, drove through neighborhoods with amazing Christmas light displays, saw Santa, drank hot cocoa, and went ice skating atop the Ponce City Market. And of course we are so glad we did that for our first Christmas in Atlanta, because our second one is shaping up to be pretty boring.

My mom is in town, which is helpful especially for Jackson who always likes to have visitors around the holidays. When Jackson was a baby we told our family that we would not be traveling for Christmas and we have stayed true to our word. A kid wants to be home for Santa to visit each year and as long as Santa visits us (he still does) then we are at our home. We also said anyone is welcome to come spend Christmas with us because of that rule we live by and many times we have had visitors. Mainly grandparents, and it has been very nice. Of course this year is different. We can’t have a house full of people this year so my mom is here and that is enough for us.

We also can’t go and do all the fun things that a big city offers at Christmastime because the big city isn’t offering it this year and even if it was we would not go because global pandemic. Still, there are ways to have a big city Christmas in little ways.

First, we snatched up some tickets to the drive-thru light display at Six Flags! We are excited about this one because we went to one at the Charlotte Speedway a couple of Christmases ago and Jackson really liked it. Of course he was 10 back then, but still, we hope Jackson and Grandma will be amazed at the sheer magnitude of the display! The running joke in our house this whole pandemic has been, “What do you want to do today?” (The correct answer is not Six Flags.) And then someone says, “Six Flags!” And someone else says, “Dead.” Cause yeah, if you go to Six Flags you probably gonna get the COVID. But next week I get to say, “What do you want to do today?” And someone can say, “Six Flags!” and someone else can say, “Let’s do it!” It’s the little things, y’all.

Then there is the Ponce City Market. This is one cool and happening place, too cool for us, honestly. But we happened upon it last year and spent a whole evening there ice skating, playing mini golf on the rooftop amusement park, seeing Santa, and eating a ton of good food. While all those things can’t happen this year, we can don our best Christmas sweaters and head up for some pictures outside. In fact, they decorate so well the pics could work as your Christmas cards! There is one big neon sign that we particularly like to have our picture made with as it says, “Merry Christmas You Filthy Animal!” Ha! Yeah, we’re doing it!

Next up is a drive-in movie. Now we are on the fence about this one just because we aren’t sure how easy it will be for Mama to see/hear the movie so we can’t decide if this is a whole-family thing or a Jerimiah and Missy celebrate their anniversary as best they can thing. We are gonna wait to see what Mama decides on, but we are hoping she gives it a whirl. It’s a double-feature, “Elf” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Christmas lights! Did I mention Christmas lights! There are always more lights to see. People take the lights real serious like around here and there are some magnificent houses to drive by while we eat popcorn or ice cream, depending on the weather!

Lastly, there is the fun thing we do each year where we spend a couple of days baking treats then taking them to friends’ houses as a surprise. Elfing, as we call it. There will be some elfing this year, though socially-distanced porch drop-offs are all the rage.

There you have it, our Christmas plans in miniature. Little plans, big city.

M.

My First Reading

I was invited to a reading the other day via Zoom for one of my new pieces that was published. This particular piece was published with Welter at the University of Baltimore and while this was not my first time being asked to do a reading, this was the first time I said yes and it was two-fold. The first reason is because this piece, I thought, was very important. Socially it was important and it meant a lot to me. You can read the piece yourself here: Welter Online. The second reason was that because I am now in an MFA program, I should be reading my work when asked. I need the practice and truth be told it was on Zoom so there wasn’t high risk. Worst case I freak out and “go dark” and blame my internet. Win-win.

But the fact is I did it and I am proud of myself and I had a really nice time. The people at Welter were incredibly nice, albeit overwhelmed and overworked (they had over 1200 submissions to wade through) and now that I have done a semester at Ponder Review (The W’s lit mag) I get it. 1200 Submissions must be a nightmare! At the same time, my piece was one of like 15 to make it to publication out of those 1200 submissions, so… I am thankful for them.

It was a nice feeling and not just because I was accepted and liked and my piece made people cry, which is always a bonus when you feel like you wrote a highly emotional piece and you see people respond, but also because I did the reading, I didn’t “go dark,” my husband and son got to watch it, and I had a really nice time, met some new friends (and got to read with one of my friends I met at The W this semester!) and gained some valuable experience. It was not what I anticipated when I spent the day, nay the weekend, envisioning all the horrific outcomes. So there you have it. I survived. I wasn’t too scared. I was calm and I had a nice time.

I am always thankful for people who give my work (and me) time and space to be read and heard. So thank you Welter, for holding space for all of us the other night and thank you for being part of this thing we all do, for helping eager writers and for putting goodness into the world. The other readers that night knocked my socks off as well (especially Josh, William, Stephen, and Shannon, if you get a chance read all the pieces over at Welter Online they truly were fantastic!) There was not one piece I didn’t emotionally connect to at the reading, and many of them were pretty funny to boot! It was an amazing evening.

If you’re at all interested in going to, watching, or participating in readings I highly recommend it. It is a nice way to save soul points inside your heart for a rainy day.

Remember to support local artists of all kinds.

Be safe and sane.

M.

Long Days, Quick Years

Sometimes when I’m in the bathroom taking a shower, or peeing, or crying while I eat chocolate and slide down the wall dramatically, I think I hear Jackson on the other side of the door. I think I hear his little preschool voice, the one I miss oh so very much, saying, “Mommy? Mommy?” Now way back when the soft “Mommy” would be followed by an adorable, “Are you in thwere, Mommy? Are you pwooping, Mommy?” Because sometimes I would pretend to poop to get some alone time.

Anywho, lately that has been happening to me. I think I am hearing Jackson on the other side of the bathroom door asking for me when I am in the shower and I turn the water off and say, “What’s up, baby?” And no one is there. No one is ever there. And I am feeling sad about that. I think I am spiraling. I think I am wishing my little boy was running to find me when he realizes he hasn’t seen me in a few minutes and wants to make sure I am okay, or just needs to tell me that he made a new Lego house. I miss those days, even though I thought I would never get through them.

Is that what happens as your kid grows up? Am I just experiencing the age-old “I miss when they were little”? Is this when I start telling people to enjoy those little moments because the world moves so fast and the kids grow so fast and if you close your eyes, or even wish for a second for it to be over, when you open your eyes again it will be and then what? Then what?

Listen, I love the life we have now. A kid who can make his own lunch. Who can do the dishes and bring me a glass of wine when I am in the hot tub soaking my problems away. But somedays I desperately, desperately miss my little guy running to find me, a diaper sagging to his knees, or a trail of some sticky candy behind him, or a car in his hand asking me if I am ready to play. It’s all so much.

The days are long, but the years are fast. Really, really fast.

Take care. Be safe. Enjoy the little moments.

M.

Christmastime is Here

We decorated for Christmas, woo, what at time. Well, we partially decorated. It’s more like a decorating weekend around here. Not that we can’t do it all in one day, I just never know what I want to do, how I want to decorate, what new items I may need to incorporate, then we realize we need something because we misplaced an item or it broke (this year it was the star for the “big” tree) and Jerimiah has to run to Target, then there’s the whole Jackson gets bored and spends hours chasing the dogs around trying to put a Santa hat on them, and then it finally happens (only with Duke this year) and hilarity ensues. At that point we are hungry and take a break for dinner, then decide enough already and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to start the season off right. Yesterday was no exception. So enjoy the photos of the mantle, the family room tree, and the living room tree. That’s as far as we got!

Hope you’re feeling a bit of Christmas magic this week!

M.

Hello, Karen?

We’ve been phone banking for the Democrats of DeKalb. We live in DeKalb County Georgia. You’ve probably heard of us on the news lately, and hopefully they are pronouncing it correctly, it’s “Duh-Cab.” Anywho, we have over 500,000 registered voters in our county, but our population is about 800,000, so as you can see we have some work to day. DeKalb Democrats tries to get people registered to vote, it doesn’t matter how you register, which party you affiliate with. They also do phone banking to make sure people know they can vote in Georgia both in-person early (starting three weeks before Election Day) and also vote by mail, anyone can, you don’t know a “reason.”

That should probably explain all you need to know about how the state was flipped this year, considering you already know about Stacey Abrams and if you don’t then go ahead and Google her, or maybe read this.

Anyway, we have been phone banking and we let Jackson do it too. He actually really liked it. Might be illegal, might just be morally wrong, but he had a great time calling people and telling them how they can request an absentee ballot, he is a civically engaged kid, what a great way for him to learn about the voting process too!

So the other day while we were all phone banking, well Jackson and Jerimiah were, I did it one day then decided it was not for me (I am writing and sending postcards to voters instead) Jackson was getting some really lovely people on the phone, older ladies are his sweet spot of course, and they were chatting away with him, telling him all about their grandkids and what not. He ate it up, and can tell you all about Debra and her absentee ballot that she had to do because she’s been living in California with her grandkids for the last six months to ride out the pandemic. Anyway, so Jerimiah gets this really nasty lady on the phone and then we did something bad.

Jerimiah is chatting away and then we hear him get quiet and he’s all, “Umm, okay. Not sure what to do about that.” He called this woman, let’s call her “Theresa.” He called Theresa and said, “Hi is this Theresa?” And the white woman on the other end of the line decided to lose her shit on him about calling her. She said he had the wrong number, which is all she needed to say, she didn’t even know who he was or what organization he was with, she just flipped. Then said she was calling the cops, filing a police report, the whole nine yards. Jerimiah just politely hung up and then sat there in stunned silence for a moment before he told us what happened. He didn’t know what to do. Should he alert someone? Is there a no-call list? We shrugged. So he just marked her as “Wrong Number” in the system and hoped no one else would call her. Except…

Well I did call her. I asked for her number and used my Google phone number to ring her up. She answered and sounded like she was driving. She seemed to be a young, maybe 30s white woman with an attitude from hell, like I expected. So this time I said, “Hi, is Karen home?” And she was like, “Oh my God, you have the wrong number.” And I said, “So you are not Karen?” And she said, “Right.” And I said, “Are you sure you are not a Karen?” and we sat for a moment in silence before she hung up on me, and I gotta say, I did feel vindicated. Childish and immature too, but mostly vindicated.

I know, Michelle, I should have went high, but I just couldn’t. I’m all out of patience for people like that, and though y’all know I don’t prescribe to the whole “Karens are evil” thing, simply because I know some really nice Karens and I don’t think it’s fair, it is a social construct that does exist and I did exploit it and for that I am sorry. To all the other Karens, not that bitch.

Be safe and well, y’all.

M.

Fuck the Pilgrims

We wanted to enjoy a nice “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving this year, then our family decided they wanted to come here for the holiday, so we scrapped that idea and went all in with a regular old Thanksgiving. Then we decided that Covid has no chill and it was not a good idea to have a house full of guests this holiday, and probably any holiday until this shit is under control, so now we are back to a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving.

We aren’t really sure what a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving looks like, maybe we get pilgrim statues and hang them from their necks over the fireplace? Too gruesome? Or maybe we make a list of all the lands the pilgrims stole from the Indigenous People, and we donate five dollars for each land we come up with? Too expensive? Okay, maybe we just learn about the lands near us that were stolen from the Indigenous People, read about small box blankets and what not, and give thanks that the Native Americans are as resilient as they are? Perfect.

The point is Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is just an excuse for us to be with family, enjoy each other’s company, and eat a ton of good food. We don’t prescribe to the whole “Thank you” toward those first settlers who were monsters, and no, we aren’t grateful for them. I mean, I could be living in London right now, speaking with a British accent and going on about my business and not being led by one Donald Trump, so ehh.

Sure, I’m happy to be in America (sometimes) but I don’t really care either way because the truth of the matter is, you make the most of wherever you are, and that’s that. So yeah, fuck the pilgrims and their blooding and plundering, they didn’t do me any bloody favors.

Happy Fuck the Pilgrims Week, y’all.

M.

Dam Yam Hypothesis

We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans this year, more on that at a later time, but instead of having a houseful, it will just be the three of us (five of us if we count the dogs, some days I do, some days when I think I might kill one of them, I don’t). Still, even though there will only be three, maybe five, of us eating yams we bought the biggest can that Sam’s Club has. Why? They are yams, damn it.

The point of this is that the can of Bruce’s Yams is now sitting on our kitchen counter, because where does one fit a nine-pound can of yams? And Jackson has taken a liking to showing whomever he Facetimes with, his grandfather, his friends, his school study group, the can of yams sitting on our counter, while saying, “Look how crazy my parents are!”

Yesterday another sixth-grader yelled, “Oh my goodness, my parents have a six-pound can of strawberries on our counter!” And much to my hilarity I was sufficiently absolved of my yam guilt as Jackson said to his father, “Daddy, you and mommy are not the only crazy parents! Andrew’s parents have a six-pound can of strawberries!”

And just like that the world righted itself.

But by this time the question of how many yams are in the can had presented itself, leaving Jackson with a long division problem that he didn’t want to do, but one that Jerimiah made him do. Turns out, there are approximately 11 yams in the can. At least according to the “Dam Yam Hypothesis.”

Stay strong parents! And get those yams!

M.

Squirrel-Lee

Thursday of this week was a bit hectic. Jerimiah had to go to his office for a meeting (gasp) I hate when he has to leave the house for work. I’m so used to him being at home with us where it’s, you know, safe. And I never feel prepared on those days. Truly he’s only left about four days since the second week of March, but still. So, he was gone all day, the dogs were acting nuts, I had class, Jackson had class, I planned to cook a nice dinner and have it ready in the hour between when Jerimiah would be home (5:00 pm) and my class started (6:00 pm). In a normal year the time between five and six is also known as “Hell Hour” on account of all I’m trying to juggle. Of course I haven’t experienced “Hell Hour” in like seven months now so this week it took me by surprise.

It was a pretty uneventful day, save for the crazy dogs, then suddenly (as it happens) all hell broke loose. Jackson had a bit of a meltdown concerning math, I had started dinner, my phone was ringing, Jerimiah was texting me about an errand I had him run, and just when I was like, “The hell, Thursday?!” the baby squirrel showed up at the front door.

What now?

For sure. A tiny, baby squirrel who had fallen out of a tree and was in such shock that it was trying to get into our house, while the dogs lost their mind at the glass front door, then tried to climb the brick by our front door and fell again. I couldn’t take it anymore, so Jackson and I sprang into action (after I turned the heat down on the mushrooms I was sautéing.)

I immediately remembered the last time I had saved a baby squirrel, many moons ago in North Carolina. I’d Googled “Squirrel rescue” and a place had popped up and I called them and was schooled in squirrel rescue. In fact, I learned so much that I had saved the number in the event it happened again, and had just, last month, deleted the contact: “Squirrel Lady” from my phone. After all, she had been the Lincoln County, NC “Squirrel Lady” so she wasn’t going to be much help now. But I did remember some key points.

1. Don’t touch it without gloves.

2. Put it near a tree, the mother is probably around just waiting.

3. If it comes to you for help it’s probably in shock, they aren’t that trusting.

4. Only call someone to come get it if it looks terribly injured.

5. Do not try to keep/rescue/rehabilitate it yourself.

Number five came in handy a few times when Jackson begged to keep “Lee” as we named him. “Squirrel Lee.”

Obviously Jackson wanted to save Lee, so he put on his ski gloves and went for it. Meanwhile I was cutting the Brussel Sprouts to roast them, and hoping my kid wouldn’t get bit by a rabid squirrel. Hell Hour, geez.

Turns out Lee loved Jackson, so much so that every time Jackson would place him back by the tree, Lee would run back to Jackson to get picked up. It went on like this until I finally had to say enough and force Jackson to come inside so the Mommy squirrel had a chance to come back. The whole time I was terrified I’d find a dead Lee in the morning, and also had a dream of Lee trying to break into the house and cuddle in bed with me. I dunno, y’all. I dunno.

Anyway, Friday morning Lee was gone. And Jackson was happy, but also sad. And I was still burping up Brussels Sprouts from the night before.

The squirrel-Lee story.

The end.

M.

**Please don’t try this at home, we are not trained professionals.**

Super Saturday

I’m not even sure where to begin, but as I sat misty-eyed listening to our VP Elect speak last night I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of love and light for this country again. Suddenly a waving flag didn’t mean hatred and ignorance anymore, suddenly the sight of a person waving a flag went back to what it used to mean: freedom, united people and beliefs, love for country. Sure, flag waving is banal and sentimental at best, but when the right people are speaking. When the good and the strong and the kind people have been passed the mic, suddenly I can stomach it all much better.

It was amazing to hear our newly-elected officials speak. Amazing to see emotion, love, and strength in their words. Amazing to feel like someone you can trust, two people you can trust to make the big decisions for our country, are right where they need to be.

When Madam Vice-President Elect Harris spoke to the children in our country, my son’s ears perked up. He smiled and nodded along, while I looked at my husband and our eyes met and I asked if he could ever imagine Trump addressing the children so wonderfully, let alone acknowledging them at all.

It’s a new day. A new hope. A restored faith for many of us. Let’s enjoy it, then get ready to get back at it. We have an election in January to prepare for, but I’ll enjoy this win for a few more days, then jump in.

Get some rest, y’all. You deserve it.

M.

All Hallow’s Eve

This Halloween was a bit different from others in the past. We didn’t go trick-or-treating, or partake in a fun family costume. We were just too nervous and didn’t know what to expect from the evening. Instead, we did some new and interesting things, like visiting the filming locations of “Stranger Things” a show that Jackson has just started to be really interested in. You can scroll on down my blog and see where we went the last couple of weeks.

But for the actual night of Halloween, we opted to sit out in the front yard and have a s’mores pit going while we put pre-bagged treats in a bucket six-feet from us, just in case we had any trick-or-treaters. We didn’t have many, maybe six, but we did have a couple visits from some friends, and picked up an invite to watch a movie outside a friend’s backyard around the fire pit, where we saw “Flaming Pumpkins” for the first time ever! Seriously, see pics below.

It ended up being a nice night. We didn’t get home until 1 am, however, so we were dragging butt all the next day, but it was just the sort of social gathering (safe, fun, and outdoors) that gave us a little fire to keep going (pun intended).

Before the backyard party, Chief Hopper ended up walking up and down our street to lighted porch lights, and because he’s the only kid on the cul-de-sac and all the neighbors adore him, he filled up on candy! Then while at the party he got to partake in the age-old ritual of “The Candy Swap.” So it really was a fun night after all.

I hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween, but more than anything I hope you have already voted or have a plan to vote tomorrow. Please, pretty please, with spooky, scary sprinkles on top!

M.

We “Boo’ed” Jackson’s friend Bella earlier in the day!
Candy bucket ready!
Getting ready for All Hallow’s Eve in the front yard!
S’mores on the ye olde fire pit!
You know me, just there for the “Boos”
The haul.
The much anticipated “Candy Trade” to end the night.

Happy Halloween

We have a kid obsessed with the Netflix series, “Stranger Things.” To be fair, only season one so far, but still. We also have a Halloween upon us wherein it is not safe to wander door to door asking strangers for Covid, err, candy, so we’ve been thinking up ways to celebrate this year while being socially conscious. Enter, visiting “Stranger Things” film locations while in costume! So far, so good. Living in the South’s version of Hollywood has been pretty interesting. Here, take a gander:

Chief Hopper at the Wheeler house (in East Point)
Hopper lighting a cigarette leaving the hospital. (Don’t worry it’s not real. The cigarette or the hospital, it’s actually a Baptist church by Tyler Perry Studios.)
Hopper “looking around” after finding Benny dead at his diner.
Looking for Mad Max and the boys (season two) at the Palace Arcade.
No sign of the kids at the Hawkins Middle School gym (and we had just missed them starting the set-up to film season four, got to see some new signs going up and a huge tent, before security ran us off. Oops!)
And then there was Hawkins Lab. Talk about spooky szn! It’s actually an old building on Emory’s campus about ten minutes from our house. It’s so close we are headed up in a week or so to get Covid tested there (before we see family for the holidays). Ha! I’m sure Hopper will make another appearance then too.

Today we are headed to a little town just outside metro Atlanta called Jackson, Georgia which is the setting for Downtown Hawkins. More pics tomorrow. Until then, Happy Halloween and enjoy more of his favorite location!

M.

It’s fake, haters.

The Hike

Jackson took us on a “hike” yesterday evening. He discovered a new trail with his friend Bella a couple of weeks ago that was “way far away.” Way far away, is really just behind our cul-de-sac and he’s been wanting us to go “exploring” out there with him so he could go further out, so we harnessed the dogs and took out about five o’clock last night.

We only made it to the end of the cul-de-sac before our neighbor Mary (who’s just come back from seven months in Germany) stopped us to say hello, tell us she loved our yard signs (BLM and “Bernie, Ok Fine Biden”) and to warn that there is a mother coyote and her babies living back there somewhere. Cool. Cool. Cool. Thanks, Mary! (Side note: she also said she came back to vote “him out” and it was so different being back in the US where no one takes Covid-19 seriously.) Have I mentioned how much we love living in the brightest blue spot in the South?!

Anyway, we trudged off through the woods then, with Jackson and Duke leading the way, while I slapped at mosquitos and tried not to step on Winnie, who is so afraid of everything (she’s literally a 60-pound 8-month old puppy 🙄) that she kept running between Jerimiah and me every time she heard a twig snap.

Jackson was dressed, of course, as Police Chief Hopper from “Stranger Things” because we just finished the first season and he’s obsessed, and also he knew we might need the protection of the law, especially when we reached the “creepy, energy place that has a fence around it” like in “Stranger Things.” We were all, “Oh sure, okay. (Wink, wink).” Until we got to the fence with barbed wire and we’re like, “Oh damn, yep, that’s like in the show. Weird.”

So there you have it. We took a nice long “hike” on what we think is sewer easement land, stuck behind our cul-de-sac and a creek/lake we had no idea existed and right before a creepy energy compound secured with fence and cameras. Not weird. Not weird at all. Ps… we saw a dead raccoon, but no coyotes.

As usual, enjoy the pics from our little adventure.

M.

Saturday at the Farm

We visited a friend’s farm last weekend. It is called Butts Mill Farm, and it is out in Western Georgia, near the Alabama state line. Our friend’s parents own it, and it’s less of a farm in the way you are imagining, and more of a family-fun farm, complete with peddle cars, number boats, and miniature horses that you can pet and feed and fall in love with and try to convince your husband to let you bring one home and get denied. Which is bullshit, but I just want you to be aware before you go.

Well, maybe you’ll have a nicer husband.

I digress. We had an excellent time at the farm, and not just because we visited for free and were fed pizza for lunch (although, bonus!) Yes, our friends are that nice. But really it was because we adore these friends and their family was so super nice, that we even got a super-special tour of their big collection of vintage cars and truck, which Jackson LOVED! Whew.

We got to play in a creek that has swings you can set in and watch the whole day go by. We got to feed goats, and go inside an antique Grist Mill. We got to ride a horse (well Jackson did, for the first time mind you) and play all day. Jackson was happy to be with his buddy Bella, whose grandparents own the farm, and Jerimiah and I were happy to hang with other adults and carry on conversations and not be inside our house. It was sort of the perfect day. Not too hot, overcast most of the day, and did I mention the 12-year-old rescued Macaw named River, who was just a delight, until he started screaming at me? Wow. It was a good day. Here are the pictures and trust, if you ever find yourself around these parts and wanna go check out the farm, let me know. We are always in for a trip out west.

M.

Jackson’s Birthday Surprise

My kid is addicted to cars and has been trying to learn how to drive an actual, real car since he was about three years old. He has been driving a real car since he was about nine, so we haven’t helped much. One of the perks of having grandparents who live in “the country.” Unfortunately, we don’t live in the country, we live in Atlanta, which means no driving around here for our 12-year-old and when he is able to drive I’ll be terrified because, well, if you’ve ever driven in Atlanta you understand my concerns.

This is all to say that Jackson’s BIG birthday surprise involved driving!

There is this awesome place here called Tiny Towne. We’ve been a few times and Jackson loves it. It’s a large building that they have built a little city inside of, complete with “streets.” Kids as young as 10, get to drive golf carts around the town and get some experience behind the wheel, as it were. (Even smaller kids can drive tiny go-karts on a separate track!)

So Tiny Towne partnered with the University of Georgia on a pilot study to see if driving at a place like Tiny Towne over the course of a few years (ages 12-15) is a just as good, if not better (their hypothesis) than taking a driver’s education course at 15, and having to cram in all the tests and driving in one year. Studies have shown kids who are behind the wheel earlier, are more cautious drivers, and that pays off in the long run.

We sort of lucked out because we live about fifteen minutes from Tiny Towne, and had already been there numerous times for fun. Then when Jerimiah got an email about this pilot study we jumped on opportunity. A normal Driver’s Ed course here is about $500, but if you want to do this pilot study it’s only $350 and you pay that over the course of the three years. Every year when you sign up for the next season you pay $80 or so. This covers the cost of the classes, of which there are ten (in person, but because of Covid they are doing them on Zoom now) and the tests (ten total, and the child has to pass all of them at 100%).

There are some added costs. For example you have to pay to drive at Tiny Towne, but you get a 50% discount every time you go, and every time you go counts toward the miles a normal kid has to drive toward their driver’s education. By the time they are 15, they have to be able to parallel park the golf cart, and drive the whole course in reverse! Jackson is actually pretty pumped about that challenge.

So we made the news his final birthday surprise week present last week and we took him to Tiny Towne to sign up on his birthday! He was pretty excited. We even let him drive that day because there was no one else there! Win/Win!

As always, here are the pics that I snapped, and if you want more info I you can click here.

Have a safe and sane day, y’all!

M.