Saturday, November 1, 2014

I hear those sleigh bells jingling- Already?

So it's Nov 1 which means Americans are now firmly divided into 2 camps:

Early Christmas preppers or Touch Not Thanksgivings hallowed season nor tread on thy turkey's feathers followers.

I've noticed a trend the last few years - and no it isn't that stores put out Christmas tress earlier and earlier.

It's the facebook shaming of anyone who doesn't feel Christmas needs to "wait it's turn " until the last piece of pumpkin pie has been shoved into the overfilled belly of a football watching, loosened belt man.

It's gone from people lamenting early decorators ( who wants to decorate in snow and ice , maybe they're just practical) to an all out facebook shame war with people "taking back Thanksgiving" by declaring all those eager for Christmas as buying Into the material consumer side of the holiday forgetting the spirit of the season and also being the most ungrateful lot because " they're skipping over the holiday of thanks for the holiday of getting".

I'm going to fire the first shot in this war right now.

First: Thanksgiving is mostly taken care of in the celebrating form in early fall. Around here people are putting fall decorations out in August now which sets me into a whirlwind of emotion. For me fall = winter is coming = the sads bc I hate being cold.

So people have been decorated for weeks or months prior to thanksgiving - what's there to do?

2. It's a day about eating turkey- again, what is there to do except for a couple days before . Maybe you spend the month in therapy in preparations for family battles that will rage during stuffing consumption but that's an entirely different post.

There is just not much to do for Thanksgivng in terms of celebration.

3.  It's kind of a made up holiday. Hate to burst bubbles but your history teacher was a lying liar who lies. Thanksgiving didn't go down at all like you learned as you made paper pilgrim and Indian hats . Also, it's not been a standing tradition since pilgrim days.

Abraham Lincoln instituted it as a day of thanksgiving after all the country had been through in the Civil War.

For that I can endorse it.

Now on to dismissing all the anti "early Christmas" brouhaha.

1. No. It's not too early for Christmas things to be out.

Retailers put stuff out a SEASON AHEAD. Don't believe me? Christmas costs will be on sale Jan and feb the coldest months of the year clearing them out and swim suits will be hitting the floor. 

Backpacks and back to school junk come out just a couple weeks after kids get out of school for the summer.

It's the same for Christmas! After Fourth of July, fall stuff is out and after September the Christmas stuff arrives.

It's not some premeditated anti thankfulness campaign- it's how stores operate. They can't help that fall is jam packed with holiday goodness. They aren't going to wait until the end of November to put out things for a holiday that's less than a month away. 

Go eat a turkey leg and calm the heck down.

2. People decorate early bc they don't like frostbite or falling off icu roofs. That's it. 

3.  Three - four weeks isn't long enough to celebrate the awesomeness of Christmas. There are a million great Christmas songs , people have to listen to them all and so some who are very dedicated to the cause have to begin earlier than others. They can't fit them in any other way.

And there's too much rich tradition and fun surrounding Christmas to jam it all squarely in December. It's a beautiful holiday that brings joy and happiness and so why stifle that? So much fun to be had who cares if people start in nov? Basically you've been celebrating Thanksgiving stuff all fall already with fall decorations so why can't Christmas cut Into nov?

4. Really Christians- (bc that's who I usually see making the "people aren't grateful posts") - Really? You're going to balk and complain and name call about people being excited about a holiday centered on your Saviors birth? Let's step back take a seat and rethink that move. 

Even if some people "don't get it" it's an amazing time of year where goodwill to men is displayed, people are happier kinder (except in Walmart) and it's a time where the name of Jesus is displayed and on more lips than any other time of year. It's also a time where people are more likelu to stumble into a church and hear about this once newborn King.

Let's lay off the Christmas celebration bashing this year ok?

I just can't abide the whole these people aren't grateful argument this year- at all. I'm probably going to find need to comment so I'll just be dropping this blog link on y'all's fb posts when you decide to declare Christmas enthusiasts the most ungrateful lot . 

How can people who love to listen to sub par music (sorry while I'm defending you, I'm not wholly into Christmas music) about jingling bells and holly filled with happiness and joy be ungrateful? It seems to me theyve got it and are grateful for the proper things while those fierce turkey defenders grumbling against those who don't celebrate as they do need to take a page from their page and just enjoy - whatever holiday you choose. And for how long. 

So Christmas enthusiasts , Halloween is over, deck the halls, jingle your bells and fa la la la to your hearts content. And if someone says  you aren't a thankful person bc you aren't celebrating thanksgiving alone for the whole of nov- sing a little louder and throw tinsel at them. 

And a side note- if you're local to me and want to really celebrate Thankfulness this thanksgiving season by helping someone instead of just grinching out the Christmas fanatics- MSG me. One of my fb friends started a Thanksgiving blessing program where numerous community families get full thanksgiving meals. I can get you info to help!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pigs in Pearls

I haven't posted in forever . June 23rd to be exact but in various fb postings I've nearly had a blog post written, so why not weigh in via blog by way of copy paste.

This weekend yet another Christian controversy erupted in media. 

People sent me links. I ignored - weary of all things on this topic and Christian controversy in the media in general. 

But it kept popping up so I read a bit about Hillsong Church and their stance/not stance on homosexuality and gay marriage.

I feel they're being railroaded on both side- the media and of course the ever ready to pounce and cannibalize, modern church.

I've yet to read a transcript of what transpired- what I've seen is a blog post excoriating Hillsong by taking partial phrases and expounding on those with the authors own perceptions by what this silence just may mean  and the clarification follow ups given by Brian Houston of Hillsong.

First, I'm sooo tired about talking about homosexuality. Politically , religiously, culturally- I'm spent.

I don't agree with it- it's a sin, and it sounds like Hillsong agrees. 

Im struggling with why as Christians we are putting so much weight on this sin, in particular.  I do feel there's a huge difference between slipping up and sinning occasionally while trying to live a sanctified life and living in that sin, in this case actively engaged in a gay lifestyle and not fighting those sinful desires.

But there are Christians living in so many sins, yet we keep shining a light on this particular one.

I get it that the gay community Is being forceful and pushing agendas politically. I think the church should have a voice in the direction our culture is headed - always.

But I've started to wonder at what point are we ceasing to be Gods witnesses on earth speaking his message of love and turning into political activists ourselves?

I'm not sure how we get the gay community to listen to a message of God's love for them when they're just hearing shouts of condemnation.

I've kind of done a 180. I've been in churches where you just hear sermons about all the sins in the world constantly and it leads to judging everyone. All the time. Just looking for signs that someone has fallen or is struggling and pouncing.

I'm not sure what good that does. And if Christians have a hard time dealing with that from the inside , how are those on the outside supposed to feel welcome amidst that?

I'm not saying water down the gospel or deny that something is a sin when it clearly is- I think the church just needs find the right balance again where we are the compass that points to true north without battering people along the way.

I think *think* that is what Hillsong was trying to do.  Show them Jesus' love and let that do the saving. We tell everyone else come as you are- how about  the gays? 

  Love and let Jesus do the work.

A side note on the origin of the controversy: this came about by Hillsongs Houston declining to say ANYTHING. He felt it wasn't the correct forum. He chose to use Jesus not hashing it out in public as his foundation for this silence.

The self appointed spokespeople for the church took that as a few things:

1. He was using the oft repeated and never correct excuse that if Jesus didn't mention it it's not a sin.

That doesn't mean it's not a sin and that wasn't what he was doing anyway.

2.  He won't speak on it and therefore he clearly is in favor of homosexuality not being a sin and for gay marriage.

Not even close.

Can we just please stop this silence is condoning bull? 

Sometimes it's wise to 
Keep. Your. Mouth. Shut.

Perhaps Houston not making a definitive statement for Hillsong in that forum doesn't necessarily mean equivocation, maybe it was wisdom. 

It never goes well for anyone when they speak out about homosexuality to the press. The media is just looking for something to twist into something ugly. 

Ie. Phil Robertson . He called about ten sins sin in his interview with rolling stone but what did they come away with- "PHIL ROBERTSON IS HOMOPHOBIC AND SAYS JESUS HATES GAY YALL!"

The media just wants to set people of faith up to show that we are an outdated hater of all things. We are closed minded intolerant unloving people .  No matter what Hillsongs stance was it would have been twisted to be explosive news on one side or the other. Damage would be done.

It's probably best not to fall into to
those traps because it isn't going to accomplish what you intend anyway. 

The Bible says 
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."
(Matthew 7:6)

Maybe just maybe Brian Houston'a wisdom was telling him this was a case of pig pearls. 

And it was best to keep his mouth shut. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Moms Life Mondays

So I'm trying to get back to blogging and instituting a recurring installment Mom's Life Monday.

Lets be real : it only marginally keeps me on track and only temporarily, but people seem to enjoy my kids stories and my sleep deprived brain doesn't retain enough of them on its own so it helps me as well.

I sit here with an incapacitated Layla as close as she can get without becoming part of me.

Earlier today, playing on the trampoline (the death trap of childrens' play equipment) she landed wrong and "twisted my weg bc my knee didn't want to work"

She came in carried by a sister howling in misery.

Real tears flowed and I don't doubt she was indeed injured.

That was 8 hours ago and anytime she puts weight on it she cries still.

She hobbles slower than Tim Conways worlds oldest man character when we ask her to do things.

But the funny thing is- she will hobble on it when asked to do something.

If she gets up to go somewhere though on her own the minute she makes contact with the floor she screams and cries like its broken.

 Its not. 
Its not even swollen.
 Or red. 
Or anything.

Tony keeps telling her shes fine, but I feel the need to give her the benefit of the doubt. She's only 3 after all and we can't know for sure whats she feeling. She can't describe it to me other than

 "its not so bad that I have to go to the dr mommy. Its just good enough that I can stay here at home. Ow."

She milks things. Alot.

So I was feeling quite confident that when the pain went away as soon as My Little Pony Friendship is Magic appeared on the screen that she was ok.

But still 8 hours later when she cries when she puts weight on it I got worried. 

When I had to carry her to the bathroom bc she just.couldn't. make. it. on her own, I inspected.

Not able to decide between injury or knobby knees I carried her like a tiny infant up to her daddy for a second opinion.

Of course he immediately declared her fine. But I wasnt sure. After  all I had to force her to put weight on it even on our super soft bed to show him how much it still hurt.

Until, I walked out from getting her pajamas and she was standing on the footboard of my bed holding the top of it and one foot in a square each (it is kind of like a grid looking of open squares ) on hard solid wood in a way that had to put pressure directly on that knee.

So yes, she is a huge FAKER.  And she is also a better actress than most of young Hollywood. 

I need to get her an agent.

I don't doubt she hurts some, but not to the degree that these tears indicate.

Now the problem is - I don't know how they got this way.

All three to an extent are so dramatic about pain. 

So bad so that I never know if theyre bad enough for a dr trip. 

We almost Never go to the dr. but I always am in limbo with them because they seem to be in dire straits. 

But its so frequent now that were I a neglectful parent I would ignore every complaint. But im not so I keep a close eye on them and analyze everything. Its exhausting. Its either that or get a punch pass for frequent vistis at the dr office but I"m sure you don't get anything good. Probably just a sample of ointment or something as your prize.

We've never indulged them when hurt. Obviously we cared for them but we always try to be non plussed when inured.

Oh you fell off the chair because immediately after I turned my back after I told you to sit still you stood up and your lips bleeding? Heres a wet papertowel dab that blood we have to go. 

Layla has averaged 2 bloody lips per year of her life. She's the hardest to control.

We haven't helicoptored them. We let them play as kids. 

I remember when Laci was 1 we had a friend with a 4 year old over. Laci was expertly climbing the ladder and faux rock wall to her swing set while I stood at a safe but not overshadowing distance and the 4 year olds mom had wrapped herself around the childs waist like a fleshy safety net whispering be careful be careful be careful the whole way.

Now the ladder has like four rungs, we werent in a tree house, so even if they did fall they'd have to try and fall in a way to really get injured.

They ride a four wheeler and have a trampoline. We don't baby them.

And still they always put on oscar award winning performances for minor injuries.

I thought we'd saved ourselves from t his by playing off injury and sickeness from the start.

Unfortunately, we were just blessed with three actresses who see every scratch as *their* moment.

Or every time theyre to clean their room as a chance to hone their acting skills.

You'd think with Ella that room cleaning was the same as a big  mac to someone with a poorly functioning  gallbladder . She 20 minutes in comes down hunched over, eyes shimmering with the begining of tears and declares stomach pain.

Not buying it. I'm on to you . All of you.

Unless it involves the stupid trampoline. Then I'm probably carrying you on my back like a little hobbit backpack for three days.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

...Until Justice Runs Down Like Waters and Righteousness Like a Mighty Stream... MLK

While we've been in Atlanta we've been trying to sight see on weekends.

Our second weekend here we visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and the Martin Luther King Jr Center.

Its our last night in Atlanta and since I packed away all the sewing stuff I get a break from Frozen etsy orders and decided to write a blog about that weekend, since I'd planned to blog more while I was here but got busy with etsy.

I didn't realize today was the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act so it was an appropriate coincidence that I am blogging about our time visiting the moving exhibits honoring MLK.

When we arrived we tried to give the kids a little background on the whole different world that people experienced just 50 years ago. Laci has always been a Civil War buff with an odd fixation from the age of 2 on Lincoln, so she was well aware of the evils of slavery that entangled our nation. However, I am not sure how much she understood the long term effects on the lives of black Americans . She does read Addy American Girl doll books, Addy is a slave who escapes to Philadelphia, so she has an idea of the struggles people faced but I don't think she grasped how long it continued.

The other two are young but Ella had many questions as we walked through exhibits. I think at their tender ages in an age where they don't distinguish people by trivial things such as skin color it has to be just absolutely bewildering why such things were perpetrated against people over something they can't control, something that doesn't matter.

As you walk into the Martin Luther King center ,its quite crowded and chaotic as they tell me it normally is. There are a few exhibits highlighting people who helped form the center and I assume exhibits that are changed out frequently because they highlight the every day person as a civil rights activist.

Once walking into the actual MLK portion, I dont if I can explain it but its quite overwhelming.

The first thing you see (and I tried to get a photo but it was crowded and I was moved so I wasn't documenting much) was a glass wall with Jim Crowe Laws inscribed on it. I tried to read some to Laci just to show that even though they had been free for nearly a hundred years, black Americans were still being treated horribly. I don't know if there is even a word for the treatment.

She didn't realize how all encompassing these laws could be over the most mundane aspects of life.

And standing in front of a 15 foot tall glass wall inscribed with these acts against humanity I too was blown away.

We all learn them in history class, but standing there under them it was just overwhelming and takes your breath away. You can almost feel the oppression just from the printed words, because there were

just. so. many.

The emotions continue as the next exhibit is a replica of the kitchen where MLK JR prayed nightly- along with videos talking about that kitchen being fire bombed. He had kids. No one cared if they died too. Unfathomable evil.

I'm guessing for space sake, you then go to the actual wagon that carried his casket through the streets of Atlanta after his service at Ebeneezer Baptist.
The lighting was different in all areas and I was too involved with the exhibits to worry about changing exposure so its a bad picture, but the blurriness gives it a  kind of ethereal look that is appropriate in a way. The white flowered cross was a top his casket. I am not sure if it is the real silk one or a replica. He may have had one of real flowers. I don't recall seeing any specification at the exhibit but the film shows the same cross on the casket in the wagon.

All of Atlanta seemed pack in the streets around the wagon. You couldn't have fit any more people on the streets as the walked four miles in the procession.

From the funeral wagon they moved into the beginning of the marches . The girls couldn't believe he was jailed for civil disobedience.

There were a lot of whys asked, and how do you really answer why a person hates someone for skin color? There's no answer but evil. And not everyone who felt that way was an evil person. I think its an important distinction.

Racism is in itself a pervasive evil but I don't think all people who were prejudiced were evil. I think it was such an ugly time and that evil had such long roots that many otherwise good people were led astray by fallacies.

I love the music South Pacific, and one of the famous songs in it says

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

There's so much truth in that. Racism like so many things is passed down through the generations and if people arent taught another way so often they continue down the same mistaken paths.

Im not saying they're not guilty of wrong doing- somewhere deep inside you have to know how wrong such a view is- I'm just saying that not all were evil - the hate, the racism they allowed to take over was in fact evil.

It's hard to explain such things to innocent minds who just see people.

And walking through the exhibits it was hard to fathom it myself as a grown adult.

The exhibits are really well done. You feel the fear they must have felt leading these marches. These were brave brave people.
The I AM a man sign always gets to me.

I just kept saying to Tony the whole time how courageous MLK had to be. And you know that intellectually, but listening to audio, seeing videos walking through staged marches- these people knew they were risking it all everytime they went out and they experienced many injustices and atrocities and they kept on.

At one march one of the keynote speakers was shot - at the rally. They didn't stop. He went to the hospital and

They. Marched. On.

Of course, we all know how the story ends.

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
He died the following day after that speech. I can't help but wonder if great figures know. Thinking of MLK and Lincoln and so many others speaking similar things immediately before they're taken from the world.

They have several videos playing at once with funeral footage, and footage of the same procession I mentioned above. Surrounding the tvs were large prints of him standing on the balcony just before he was shot, I'm sure we are familliar with those images.

It was very moving, just like the whole museum. You really just feel such a conflict of emotions the entire time: sadness, overhwhelmed, shock, hope, fear, awe. They all swirl around  you at once and you cannot help but feel the turmoil of that time period- its almost electric.

The museum is simply done, but well done. It gets the message across- many messages.

They have  a temporary exhibit now with a mock Lincoln monument, of course,  for the I Have a Dream speech complete with a tiny reflecting pool.

The kids loved this because, like I said they love Lincoln.

                                                          its    pretty convincing from the correct angle ;)

The Dream speech was largely forgotten until his death. Now its iconic like the Gettysburg Address.

We followed this up with a brilliant short film just detailing his early life with shots of the home. It was really interesting to listen to stories of his early years and his father's influence on him in regards to being treated like man like anyone else.

They shared a story of Martin walking with his daddy and wanting a pair of shoes in a store window.
When they tried to enter they were told they had to use the back door.

Martin, or ML as they apparently called him, didn't get his shoes that day.
He instead got a lecture by his father on how he wouldn't be told he was less of a man because of his skin color that it wasn't ok to just accept that untruth.

We took a walk across the street to the church he grew up in, his dad was a preacher, and where he later co pastored with his brother.

Its a beautiful old church all wooden inside like stepping back in history.

It was pretty amazing to stand right at the pulpit he preached from while his sermons played overhead in speakers

We just sat for the longest time. It was awe inspiring. The mix of history, his voice playing, the time transporting look of the place, like its frozen in time- I don't know I'm a history nerd I like to breathe it all in. Some people like to chase after celebrities, I like chasing history. It almost feels electric being in a place where amazing things happened.

You can also tour his home but you better get there at opening. You get tickets at the MLK JR Center (where the museum is located) its free, but limited so they assign tickets. 

 We didn't initially plan on going this day so missed out on the tour, we intended to get back over but we didn't, but Tony's training is always in ATL so we will see it sometime!
 He and Coretta are entombed on the grounds of the center in a beautiful memorial reflecting pool with fountains. It's really breathtaking. Listening to him talk about himself, I don't know how he'd feel with such a monument, but it is beautiful to behold indeed - and quite large.!


If you find yourself in the Atlanta area its a must do. Its fairly easy to get to and free of charge. Its a wonderful experience. If you have kids please take them. I am a firm believer the best way to learn history is to experience it. This place certainly brings to life the era Martin Luther King Jr was fighting in much better than any text book.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gold mining and face stuffing across Georgia

I love Atlanta.

We are having an amazing time.

We are here for "business", Tony is in training.

For me a vacation isn't a vacation without sand and waves or large characters, princesses and rides.

We do day trips to places that don't have those necessary things but not full on vacations, so its been nice to explore somewhere I wouldn't normally head.

As I said in my previous post, I've always wanted to go to Georgia, so its pretty cool to have an extended stay.

We home school so we are also always on the look out for fun educational things to do or just things to broaden their horizons - and mine. Pre Tony I didn't travel much at all.

Aside from touring Target daily *its 4 minutes from me how can we not* and all the Joanns of the area... I'm still working on my boutique and the Frozen slam has hit like an avalanche in orders, we have visited a few places on our list of to dos.
                                                                 this is actually Hobby Lobby
                                                                                we've been hitting it up a bit too.

Last weekend we headed up to Northern Georgia to Dahlonega Ga to the Consolidated Gold Mine .

Its about an hour north of Atlanta and was part of the original gold rush in America - before California.

This gold mine boasted a huge vein of quartz ( where there's quartz theres gold) . I believe what the tour guide said ( i saw it online too but can't find it now to confirm everything is vague that I'm finding)  was that normally a vein of quartz is about the width of a pencil and this one was 24 inches. or feet. I don't know really but the number 24 keeps popping in my head.

In any case, they mined half a million dollars worth of gold in ONE day. I don't even know how much that would be today.
                                                                         The glory hole

It is the only mine you can tour in the area and the tour really is worth seeing.

Extremely informative and the guides are also funny.

The kids learned all about rock formations, gold mining, tiny bats that actually were cute and didn't move, working conditions in a mine back then and technology advances.

         he's entertaining!

The mine companies used a lot of their profit to install a new technology in the mine - electricity. Unfortunately the wires weren't insulated so many died from running into the wires.

They also learned about the toll it took on the miners (mining itself not the electricity) how most all were deaf because of the dynamite, and died young because of all the toxic dust they inhaled - all for a dollar a day. (1.50 if you were the dynamite poker and he got paid daily because, well he may not last the week)

I believe 350 ish died in that mine, some children because boys aged about 6-10 ( 10 and up already were miners) were employed as arm tappers alerting the other miners to get in the safe area because they were about to use dynamite.

Couldn't yell because they were deaf and they need someone who was small enough to run quickly through the mine so young boys were the pick.

You get to see the glory hole where they mined the largest amount and some relics of the past, the rails are still in place and some of the wagons are in the mine along with other fixtures that are original.


   rail for a kind of trolley car

This door was built by the London Gate company in the 1200's. Doc asked "and what were the British in the 1200's?"

A grown woman answered "our overlords"

Um no.

Correct answer: Short. so duck when you walk through.

Pretty cool gate - but sad for the dumbing down of 'Merica.

                                                      Look we're  in the Tower of London. ish

After the tour you go up and they give you a pan of dirt to sift for gold included in the cost. Its neat for the experience but you get a few flakes. Clearly not worth the cost but the tour is well worth that. From what I read many people who want to pan for gold for real go to Crisson gold mine . Price is the same for the little pans but without the tour. However apparently their big buckets you can purchase have more gold in them. Consolidated also has the larger amounts you can pan but we werent interested.

                                         If you look really closely you'll see gold.
                                                It looks like sparkly         fish food
                                                           Lots of water. Itty bitty flakes
                                                    She got the most. Can you see them?

                                                           Thinks she's going on a shopping spree.

We did however purchase a bucket of gems to grub.

That was more fun for the girls because you can feel the big rocks as you scoop them out. Just like playing in a sand box.

They did good apparently for the bucket size we got. They got some onyx, amethyst, rose quartz plus several other rocks.

Apparently the amethyst and rose quartz are typically in the next sized bucket up that also you usually get rubies in sapphires in.

Considering the appraiser knew what size bucket we had gotten by the rocks we showed her and mentioned that the few really nice rocks we got were in the larger buckets typically, they obviously seed the buckets, the more you pay the better the stones you get. But still it was fun for the kids for $15. The more precious bucket was $30 and we will do that one if we go back because we won't do the tour again nor pan for gold. They really enjoyed the gems so we'd be willing to pay more for a bigger bucket and apparently nicer stones.

                                                                      bag o rocks

They did get ones that could be cut and put in jewelery but we didn't  explore that option this trip since it was already costly. Maybe we will bring them back with us next time.

We finished the day (after a stop at an awesome outlet shopping plaza) at Tony's choice.

Big Pie in the Sky pizza in Kennesaw Georgia.

It was featured on Man V Food for a huge 11 pound pizza challenge and Tony always talks about doing a pizza challenge...

                                            She didn't get any she was too slow.

If you go here know the pizza is REALLY good and its really thin. Not horribly thin but wood fired pizza style.

Tony got a 20 " and for some reason thought that would be enough but he should have gotten a 30.

Of course we ordered a second pizza when they inhaled the first (and waited an hour for the second to come out. They are BUSY!) and so they ended up eating 40" of pizza so i guess the 30 wouldn't have been enough either.

Maybe they should do the challenge. you get one hour for 2 people to eat the challenge pizza. Its full of meats to make an 11 pound pizza. They may be able to do it...

It is very tasty and I assume we will eat there again while we are here. Its like a mile from LivviRae Lingerie - the hilarious gals from Double Divas that was on Lifetime ( i think sadly it was cancelled but Im hoping not) .  By the time we got the second pizza they had just closed so I didn't make it there so a Kennesaw trip is in order.

Like every place we've been so far it looks to have enough to merit the thirty minute trip too so may as well.

Of course our standards aren't high. We have a Walmart at home and thats about it so we are easily impressed.

Oh we also ate at the Cheesecake Factory for the first time. Okay food but great cheesecake as I am sure everyone in the world.

Like I said we have nothing in the area and I don't even know aside from 3 hours away where we'd find a Cheesecake factory, maybe Pittsburgh, but thats still 1 1/2 hours. We are deprived.

Her face sums up mine when I saw the bill. Maybe that's why we haven't gone. I mean if it was just the two of us no kids, I would eat there but $85 for so so food is cray. The cheesecake was extremely reasonably priced though . That one was $7 and enough for all 5 us to be like no you finish it please. We will definitely be getting at least some cheesecake from there while we are here.

We love Atlanta!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Song of the South

I love the South. I really really do.

I always see the Southern hospitality you hear about, people are just warmer and more open here for some reason.

I have a theory that the warmer, sunnier weather gives them more vitamin D thereby making them a nicer population.

Or maybe they're more traditional and value traditional values and traits like hospitality more so than the northern counterparts.

I don't know but it is different for sure.

Since Tony is in training in Atlanta we joined him and I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Atlanta.

I have always wanted to go to Georgia.

I have no idea why.

My idea of a vacation only involves a beach or an oversized Mouse wearing red shorts.

But, for some reason I've always had a desire to visit Georgia.

I think I just love the looks of the big old plantations *and yes I know how awful plantations were , I mean them now not romanticizing the slavery era*

Or maybe it was because I watched a lot of Designing Women as a kid, but Georgia always held an allure for me.

But I didn't really consider Atlanta to fit into that, I assumed being a large city it would more have the attitude of a New York or DC, cities I'm familliar with - and while I think New Yorkers get an overly bad rap, they still don't possess southern hospitality.

Delightfully, Atlanta has surprised me.

At least where we are located, it isn't overwhelming at all. It reminds me of where Tony and I went to college - a city that had everything but still had a small town feel. And manageable traffic.

We've had a lot of fun so far and it seems safe where we are. The girls and I venture out on our own without feeling uneasy.

I prefer driving here than back home.

I have serious stress driving at home. People just drive poorly, so many with no driving skills and also very inconsiderately and aggressive.

And its a small area with no traffic - should be a breeze.

Here, we are driving on six lane highways which would normally  make me a bit panicky because I get claustrophobic in a sea of cars but people are driving at a nice speed and no one tails anyone. There is that nice space that people are taught to drive at between cars but rarely do.

No one is swerving in and out of lanes just to get a little bit ahead or cutting people off.

You don't have to hold your breath wondering if you;ll be able to get over when you need to because one the aforementioned space and two they'll let you over.

Its been delightful.

I assumed I wouldn't be going out much because I hate tense driving conditions but even though I don't know where I'm going I feel at ease.

The people are so warm and friendly and full of personality.

Ive determined we need to add at least five minutes buffer time per store or location we are visiting if we need to be on a schedule because every place you go someone will want to talk for a good 5-10 minutes. Theyre just genuinely nice and conversational. Just warm and friendly.

We love it.

And of course the weather is so nice. I can't take much more cold. Cannot take it. Its been a bad winter and we all hate the cold.

If my kids at least enjoyed the snow I could get behind it, because it would be fun but since they hate despite all kinds of ideas we've tried to do with them, its just a miserable time where my kids are stuck inside far too long.

It hasn't been as warm as it was supposed to be which is disappointing but at least I see no snow and its not bitter. Its like spring time and a few days have been summery. Hopefully there is more warm weather this week because its glorious. I love warmth!

I'm surprised at how huge Atlanta is.

There are so many beautiful suburbs that are large and cities unto themselves.

The area we are in now has more shopping than we'd ever need, all of our favorite stores and more all of our favorite restaurants. If we lived here I think we would only have to leave this little area for entertainment, Im assuming  but haven't looked into it, that most would be located more downtown.

We've explored several of the close suburbs and the all seem to have nearly as much as this one, so it seems most of the suburbs are little self contained cities . Its  great.

And for a city, its a really beautiful one.

Dogwoods lining the streets, everything very clean, its all surpassed what I had in my head for Atlanta and has the southern genteel look and feel that I wanted to see in Georgia.

One thing missing - Southern accents.

People mostly sound northern, I assume being a city there are a lot of business transplants.

When we headed North you heard some but I want to hear people talk like Julia Sugarbaker.
"Yesterday, in my mind's eye, I saw four women standing on a veranda in white, gauzy dresses and straw-colored hats. They were having a conversation. And it was hot. Their hankies tucked in cleavages where eternal trickles of perspiration run from the female breastbone to exotic vacation spots that southern men often dream about. They were sweet-smelling, coy, cunning, voluptuous, voracious, delicious, pernicious, vexing and sexing... these earth sister/rebel mothers... these arousers and carousers. And I was filled with a longing to join them. But like a whim of Scarlett's, they turned suddenly and went inside, shutting me out with a bolt of a latch. And I was left only to pick up an abandoned handkerchief and savor the perfumed shadows of these women... these southern women. This Suzanne. This Julia. This Mary Jo and Charlene."
                                                                     - Julia Sugarbaker
*yeah I'm pretty sure my ideas of Georgia all come from Designing Women*

We have time here left so perhaps we will find some southern talking women.

but hopefully not these ones.
They talk with a Southern accent
but with a bite.
But I would love a pic with
Nene or Phaedra just
because my friends
would find it hilarious.
Whats the tea hunni.
 My kids are loving it too, despite being in a hotel room that is really no bigger than a normal hotel room except it has a kitchenette. Emphasis on the ette.
When they wake up and go to sleep they tend to fight. Otherwise they're doing really well.
They keep asking if we can move here.
And depending on who is reading this from my home area some are probably saying well if you hate it here so much why don't you move there.
And its not that our area is awful, it just doesn't offer our family things we want really. 
Some people are really happy there and I think that's fantastic, but our family spends a lot of money travelling places to accomplish even simple things we want so it doesn't really fit us.
I think a lot of people that grow up there are the small town nostalgics. I know my mother always called me names like I was too good for anything just because I wanted to see something outside of the county lines growing up even though that is completely normal . 
And there are a lot of people who fiercely defend the area. 
I just don't find a lot to defend, but that's just us, and because of things we are interested in and enjoy.
Tony and I aren't nostalgic about areas, we get attached to people but not things. I don't feel any fondness for my old high school but I carry great memories of child hood friends and shenanigans that make me smile when they cross my mind. 
We don't have any favorite local restaurants where we are regulars. 
We don't care about the local high school sports teams, and don't get excited for wins.
Those just aren't things that interest us so that nostalgic feeling doesn't kick in.
I guess we are more practical and see things from that sense.
We enjoy plays and exploring new sites, the kids love historical sites and museums and aquariums and zoos. We love new adventures and warmth great restaurants and shopping . I have to drive well over an hour just for a stinking target! Target!

We love concerts and amusement parks, hockey games and beaches.

Its just that our area offers none of it and even the whole safe small town vibe has left the area thanks to the prisons - I assume, people blame them for the increased crime gangs and drugs, I'm just going by the popular rationale.
(there are lots of historical sites that we've visited many times, although they all do require travelling we do enjoy the somewhat nearby historical sites)

Jobs are scant and the outlook is bleak.

Even though he has a great job, Obama killing the coal industry has killed a lot of his opportunity, he used to get a ton of overtime but theyve cut that off in an effort to make up for the loss of revenue from coal. 

Its just not an area that offers us anything , nothing personal to those reading out there who want to be offended by my practical analysis.

I know a short stay anywhere can seem lovely because you don't have the everyday dealings, but we've also lived else where and know the grass sometimes is greener elsewhere.

The best thing about where we live now is our house and its location. 

We live in a big beautiful farmhouse on one of  his family's farms, which is near his parents which is great for the kids.

Its away from neighbors mostly with lots of beautiful land. Its absolutely gorgeous and such a blessing to raise our girls there. 

I can see us living there forever just for that house and land. I know we won't have a better property than that picturesque lot (except in winter, in winter while still beautiful its a nightmare with snow drifting continuously in our driveway and whipping winds. still pretty though...)

Now if only I could move that house and plot of land to the south....

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Disney Day - Disaster Edition aka The Rule of 3 OR How Suits ruined my fun

Disney and disaster shouldn't go together in my world.

But I fear they do.

The disaster I'm referencing is the highly advertised My Magic + and Fast Pass +.

If you've missed the massive marketing campaign Fast pass+ is the next generation of Fast Pass.

If you've missed Disney for twenty years Fast pass is a system in which a guest would put in their park ticket at a ride they didn't want to wait in line for. In return they would receive a paper ticket with the ride name and a return time to come back and bypass the line.

There was a one hour time frame on that ticket but up until 2 years ago when they began preparing for the new system it wasn't enforced.

You could only get one ticket per 2 hours or if your fast pass return time was sooner than 2 hours you could grab another. Also if you were really in the know there were a few rides that weren't connected to the system and you could grab those in addition to the others.

And since return time was never enforced if you did a tiny bit of research before your trip you knew you could grab fast passes with abandon and ride whenever you darn pleased by passing stand by lines altogether.

Ah, but all good things must come to an end.

Enter Disney executives who think they know what the guests want.

This system is working perfectly well, they said, let us tinker.

Only Tinker fairies should be allowed to tinker.

Some execs realized that not all guests realized that fast pass was included and wanted a system that included all. It was seen as an unfair advantage that those of us who did some research not only knew about the fast pass system *which was talked about frequently at disney parks it was no secret* but also knew how to work it to get many fast passes. Totally within the accepted framework and rules mind you.

So they spent billions. Yes billions and we got Fast Pass +

Now we have a system that looks shiny and new and exciting on the outside but is broken on the inside. 

There are points that I love.

aka Magic bands.
 Because Disney.

I lose things so its nice to have my room key/park ticket/credit card fastened to my wrist and linked to my very own fingerprint.
Score one Disney suits.

Plus you can pick the names that are engraved on them. I wanted to change  mine to Lady and Tony's to Tramp but they processed faster than Pooh eats a pot of honey. 

Plus you can  play super hereoes.

In theory magic bands are fabtastic.

We were there during testing and the blasted things didn't work. We had all kinds of issues - with Tony's anyway.

When they worked. Amaze.

When they didn't - I wanted to be very undisneylike.

They caused lots of stress the first two days and I even had my crew up for park opening for the first time EVA and we missed it because I was at the front desk 5 times after Tony had already been there once. Cast members kept daggone chasing me and forcing me back to the hotel lobby. I am not lying.

It sucked.

A bus stop worker boy took pity and gave me a super secret fastpass because I just looked like I was going to cry. He was all on the down low about because our stop had a bunch of Grumpy dwarves and he didn't want to be bum rushed.

They tell me the bugs that kept knocking us out of the system causing our bands to cause angry sad frustrated feelings are mostly worked out. So you're welcome.

On one call with a particularly unhelpful hotel worker as i waited in line for a late Sofia the first  on Layla's birthday as tony was stuck at the restaurant because it wouldn't scan our dining plan I told them I was done helping them test. The park workers were brilliant. They knew how to fix things with pixie dust. The hotel workers were so over the system they didn't even try to figure things out and so I decided to stop playing too. We used our bands in park and didn't use them at the hotel anymore. Because they didn't work there.

So. not so magical these bands.

They're also a bit sweaty but I am weird about wearing accessories. I like to rip them off as soon as I'm home. I'm  not a big fan of the feel of accessories so it may be me.

Also you have to line up mickey heads which is harder than it sounds apparently because it causes lines like this :

I don't buy that people are having THIS much trouble lining up Mickey heads but Fast Pass Plus fans are claiming these super long lines are due to just that and that when you get past the first Mickey head match point theres no line. Still. There used to be NO line for Fast pass you just walked on after flashing passes real quick at a person.

Back to the good:

You can switch around your fast passes using the My Magic + app.

Bad news the blasted app crashes all the times and is all kinds of buggy.

Disney is awesome at just about everything - but their sites are always clunky and buggy as are the apps.

However, when it works its so awesome to be able to use your smart phone to grab a fast pass or change it.

While we were there we were able to jump on rides we had fast passes scheduled for because the standby wait was low. Now mind you, we were in a very small group of people using the system so we were able to get what we wanted. Now that everyone is using it don't expect to be able to switch your ride reservations so easily.

So if you book Splash Mt. at 1 and get there and standby is 15 minutes which is basically walk on and you think hey lets change this fast pass to something else- you may not be able to .

So the positive of not running around grabbing paper fast passes becomes a negative because there don't seem to be enough to go around now.

Add to that:


Its bad enough I have to know what I want to eat 180 days out which then dictates what park I am in- now i have to not only schedule my dumb rides but also schedule them around my dining reservations.

Spreadsheets are not magical Disney.

How are you supposed to know what ride is going to need a fast pass at three thirty 10 saturdays from now.

You cant.

And that is what I found out in testing.

I changed almost ALL my fast passes in Magic Kingdom everyday.

I had to change many in Hollywood Studios because of a rain storm that last for hours.

Yes now your fast passes can be rained out because you picked your ride time weeks in advance.

I hate this.

Another thing touched on above - it seems like to park goers that way more people are using fast pass which is making fast  pass lines look like stand by lines very often.

So the massive marketing campaign is working and more people are aware of the fast pass system.

The bad news- its making fast pass much less fasty passy.

One more plus- they made everything or darn near everything fast pass able. So its nice that rides that used to be stand by only can  be fast passed but typically those rides only had a couple busy times a day  you could always catch them later and do you really want to use a fast pass on a lesser ride when: wait for it...


I can't even type my sadness, frustration and disgust at that number.

And can you believe they have the nerve to send you a survey that asks if three is enough.

No Disney no its not. Of course its not. What the heck.

Of course if you're Joe Schmoe who previously bumbled about Disney World thinking you couldn't use fast pass and glared at all of us smarty pants who listened to the girl at check in and the girl on the disney inoformation channel that comes on everytime you turn your tv on (hey stacey) or the people at the turnstiles or wording on the ticket, or wording on the signs by the big metal machines labelled fast pass...

then yes I guess you would be darn tootin thrilled about 3 whole rides fast passed.

Joe Schmoe- go to six flags.

But for the rest of us who knew how to use fast pass *read above* we are now having to rethink our whole Disney vacation just to ride a fraction of what we used to.

Now if you made it this far, I'm going to give you some tips.

Go follow Kenny the Pirate on facebook.

He's had a blog for a long time on Disney world and recently moved to Orlando (lucky pirate) and goes often and is writing out strategies for Disney world in general and fast pass so you can tour like a boss.

A boss with giant circular black ears.


If you can't get all of your people a ride reservation at the same time try
 booking one or two at a time at a staggered rate.
 (via Kenny the Pirate)

The fast pass has a window of return of an hour so

If Mickey gets a Splash return time of
Minnie and Pluto get one at 1:10
Goofy gets one at 1:20
and Daisy and Donald get one at 1:25

The entire group can still ride together.

Their window to ride together however is 1:25 (the latest starting time) and 2 Pm (the earliest ending time which was mickeys)
pluto fell out

A bit of organizing (spreadsheets aren't magical Disney suits) and much less window of opportunity

But look they're happy

and dry. They mustve worn ponchos on Splash.

So that is a big tip right there because it can be hard to find times for popular rides for your whole fam. That one will be a life saver.

Another tip:

Skip extra magic hour parks.

Boo hiss I love extra magic hour days. But fast pass + is killing them.


Because those parks are naturally busy on those days.

Now that we have 3 THREE 3 measly fast passes to use our best bet is to go to a less crowded park - which will NEVER be the extra magic hour park.

Consolation - they keep cutting the hours back so its not so great now anyway.

Hit rope drop. (disney nerd speak for get up early and get there for park opening)

I always balked at the rope drop crowd.

We are on vacation we want to sleep in after walking miles and magical miles in oppressive heat .

But now....
 I can't do extra magic hour parks to make up for our late start so we have to get up early.

We actually had a lot of breakfasts this year because we had a late start scheduling (by like 2 weeks) and lunch and dinners were all booked up at our favorite spots. This forced us to rise early.

But I have to say, its nice in the morning . Crowds are low. Heat is manageable.

Mornings are nice.

Now you have no choice.

Go in the morning.
                                                They're so happy to see you so early.
                                                    There is a little opening show to 
                                                                   reward your early birdyness.

If your crowd gets sleepy head back for a swim and a rest and come back around 4 or 5. We aren't big break fans - and I do recommend driving the days you plan on taking a break because otherwise so much time is eaten up with the busses -  but it is nice to take a little rest and go back refreshed. Open to close at disney for 8 days isn't possible with little ones. At least not pleasantly possible!

If you got up early and take a short break you'll still get in just as much time as if you'd slept in and stayed til close.

The other option is have a lunch or late lunch at a sit down restaurant. Explore the resort its at ride the monorail, those things will rest and refresh without heading to your hotel. Not as much but a few die hard days won't ruin your vacation.

Don't park hop.

If you aren't an Annual Pass holder, you're paying $70 a day to park hop. You aren't saving much at all you're nearly paying for 2 tickets . Plus you're spending extra time travelling between parks.

Now Disney wants to take all your fast pass rights away at the second and subsequent parks you visit in a day.

That's right currently (may change) you can only use fast pass + at one park per day.

So no you cannot book splash at 10 am and Soarin at 5 pm.

That stinks and really takes the incentive of park hopping away.

Who wants to leave a park, ride a bus and then go stand in stand by lines all evening?


Of course if you use all your fast pass + in the morning and remember you get 3 THREE 3 paltry fp now so its entirely possible you'd blow your whole allotment in the morning then you'd be standing in stand by lines all day anyway no matter what park youre in so go ahead and hop.

Oh and btw, you wouldn't be able to book Splash and Soarin ANYWAY because they now have tiers (didn'twhile I tested).

These tiers mean you not only get only 3THREE3 stingy fast passes they are now going to tell you how to use those fast passes. YES. Disney wants to micro manage your life.

You can get one tier one* read good * ride. Splash, soarin, big thunder, toy store mania...

Any ride you really really like. Pick one thats all.

Then you get a tier 2 ride. Still good rides but meh. I rode it once already on this visit I'm good.

Then you have to pick a tier 3 ride - which is a ride you'd never fast pass before because there were no standby lines to begin with.


Because Disney is forcing people to pick tier three rides things like The Great Movie Ride, Muppets 3d, and Star tours (all things my kids like to ride) are no longer walk ons.

This is just like Snow White's poison apple. It kills all the magic.

 I hate it.
 boo. hiss.
Never had to boo nor hiss Disney before.
Dark Days folks.

I don't like fast pass as it is.

At all.

It seems they tried to reinvent a perfectly good wheel and made it square instead.

But it is Disney so I hold out hope that what we see now is not the final product. PLEASE.

A solution that would make me happy right off the bat would be more fast passes per guest.

Not sure if the higher load of people using the system allows for this but it would go a long way to soothe my sore feelings over this.

Make the app better.

There's no reason for it not to work.

Disney really had something if they had kept the frame work in place from old fast pass and just made it all digital.

Keep it exactly the same and instead of running around grabbing paper fast passes you just check your app or the kiosk to see whats available and book it. One every two hours.


Happy Disney Veterans and clueless visitors alike.

I'm hoping that once all this testing is done that is the system we will have and this micro managing system with fast passes doled out by Scrooge McDuck will cease.

Dont be a fast pass miser Disney.

And FOR.THE.LOVE. get rid of tiering.

Its not nice.
Certainly not magical.