Category Archives: Georgia

Sunday Funday

Today is Father’s Day in America, and a great part of the world it turns out when you look at Facebook feeds (see – still a relevant social media tool). Not so in Australia, when Father’s Day is the first Sunday in September. For all the people that didn’t know that already, you’re welcome.

Yesterday the ‘father’ in this house started making some noises about going for ‘brunch’ for Father’s Day.* The mother in the house did some searching on the web about the ‘best brunches in Atlanta’, ‘best breakfast locations in Atlanta’ etc etc. Turns out, surprise, surprise that most of them were booked out and the ones that weren’t were a first come, first serve situation, and about a 45 minute drive. That scenario in our house is fraught with danger; first the driving part ‘are we there yet?’ could be asked as many as 65,000 times in that time period; and three members of our four member family do not like waiting in lines. I envisioned 45 minute drive, arrive frazzled, long line, look in my phone for for ‘next option’, 20 minute drive, arrive frazzled, long line, look for ‘next option’, 15 minute drive – some threats of violence in the enclosed space of the vehicle to anyone who asked ‘are we there yet?’ OR announced ‘I’m hungry’.

The best option was clearly breakfast at home because ‘don’t forget Dad you told us you’d take us to the movies tomorrow, we haven’t been to the movies yet this holidays’. Also, I had just watched the Holderness family Father’s Day video (remember them from Christmas Jammies and Snow Day?) and I was guessing that while traveling to brunch was a nice idea, it probably wasn’t what he really wanted.

So at 8am I arose from my spot in the spare bedroom (I had given up my own bed at around 1.30am due to a scenario involving a nightmare monster squashing 7 year old girls), and dressed in yesterday’s clothing to walk to the local supermarket in the ‘cool’ morning air.

The cooler morning in Hotlanta these days is around 25 degrees celcius or 77 F and 100% humidity, the walk is short but hilly. When I arrived glistening (East Cobb ladies don’t sweat, we glisten) to procure my breakfast needs I discovered many a mother with child in tow doing the same. I even found some of them in the card aisle. Phhhht. I totally had that down, I had downloaded from PINTEREST – yeah, that’s right, a full booklet that my children could use to creatively describe to their Father in words and pictures how much he meant to them.

Only one small problem.

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Not daunted I pressed on. I am sure there is a website for Pinterest fails I can attach this to later.

It's the thought that counts

It’s the thought that counts

Once I returned from my morning walk, across a neighbour’s back yard to avoid the last little crushing hill, I set about making a world class brunch worthy breakfast. There are no photos in case of food critic / cholesterol police but it did feature, poached eggs, organic bacon, breakfast sausage, mushrooms, onions and  grape tomatoes with a square of onion and fetta bread.  There was coffee and orange juice, flowers from our garden and the paper. Not bad I say.

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After a sufficient food coma break for the father and time of course to joyfully read his Dad, World’s best booklet, there were plans made to attend the 2.45pm session of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Mr 11 was very difficult to get out of the house, he doesn’t like movie theaters, they are cold (bring a long sleeved top – no thanks) and loud (bring some headphones – no thanks). We had to promise this was the ‘last movie he would ever have to go to’  in order to get him off the front step. Miss 7 loves the movies, she loves the popcorn and icee ordering and then forgets that she too finds it a bit loud. I had to sit between them at their request to calm any situation that may arise. All seemed to be going well, I had minimal bumps from elbows, all four held high when pushing hands to ears to dampen the noise. Then a request ‘can you pass me your icee cup – I think I need to barf’ Mr 11. A few minutes later I had the ‘all clear, false alarm’ and I turned attention to Miss 7 who at this point had tears streaming down her face – SPOILER ALERT – I thought because of the death of a character in the film. I started to tell her, it’s OK I cry all the time in movies and when I read books. No such luck, it had been too loud for her so in pushing her fingers into her ears she had scratched the inside of them with her fingernails. The apparent pain from inner ear scratches was causing the tears, that didn’t stop flowing until the movie finished.

Don’t you wish you were having my day? I sure wished I was having one of the perfect father’s day I could see scrolling through my Facebook feed. Smiling kids and dads, lovely meals prepared by OTHER people.

As we rolled back into the garage the father and I decided that we hadn’t seen a non-animated film at the movies together for over 11 years. We estimate it could be 11 more before we do.

Upon entry to the house everyone scattered for quiet time, golf  on tv for dad, building on the Kroger in her minecraft game for Miss 7 ( because every minecraft world needs a supermarket right?) and Mr 11 back with headphones and YouTube videos.  Peace at last.

Happy Father’s Day!

*before the apostrophe police who quite rightly keep a close eye on me and my many grammatical errors jump in, the interwebs told me that US law adopted the term Father’s day with the apostrophe right there.

Promposal

It’s called a Promposal and it’s a pretty big deal here. There are hashtags on every sort of social media you can imagine to seek out the best and the rest in the #promposal world. Instagram, tumblr, youtube and Pinterest #promposals are everywhere.

We’re racing to the end of the school year here in Murica, which means Prom time, and promposals are flying thick and fast. It doesn’t matter if you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, apparently it’s not a given they will attend Prom with you.  No longer the assumption that you will go together or an idle conversation at lunch. The new normal is a slightly elaborate and more formal request of some kind, generally filmed or photographed by your friends or others standing by.

No. pressure. kids.

Last week my own 7 year old daughter was thrilled to be involved in such a scheme. Her Under 9 lacrosse team was playing at our local high school in an exhibition scrimmage (5 minute game amongst her own team) between the Varsity (Grades 11 and 12) and Junior Varsity (Grades 9 and 10) games.

One would imagine this would be an excellent opportunity to watch the bigger and much more experienced girls playing lacrosse and looking at ways to improve their own game. Not so, the U9’s were under the bleachers fighting over who would be the P,R.O and M. My own junior LAXer* was at first the M, but was later reassigned to O. I’m not sure of the difference but apparently all letters were debated over at length.

The coach’s son had a girlfriend in the Varsity game. After that match finished the U9 team ran on and this happened

#PROMPOSAL (click for video)

Thankfully for all involved – she said yes. We must also have some respect for the U9 team who followed coach instructions and dropped and ran back to their game immediately.

Notes on the Promposal

– The team in purple were the visiting team. They had just been beaten 17 – 2, so that may be why they were not so enthusiastic about the exciting on field events.

Heard in the bleachers

– High School girl ‘I want that relationship’

– U9 Father in attendance ‘Glad I never had to do that, I had enough trouble with the marriage proposal’

I hear you, U9 dad. Amen to that.

Additional general notes

– Every teenage girl in Georgia has waist length hair apparently

*LAX being the accepted shortened form of Lacrosse

The 'after' shot

The ‘after’ shot

Plodding along…

While I am writing many blog posts, all the time, in my mind, sadly they are not getting to the magic publish button stage on this page.

This of course has nothing at all to do with the fact that I am training for the NYC Marathon in 24 days from now……  However my other blog One Mountain, One Marathon does have a few more recent posts than here. So if you want to follow along drop over and see how it’s all shaping up.

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Summertime

Summertime and the living is easy hot, humid and one very long school holiday break – or vacation as they say here in Hotlanta, USA.

There’s a 104 days of Summer Vacation,
And school comes along just to end it.
So the annual problem for our generation,
Is finding a good way to spend it.

So starts the Phineas and Ferb song that rattles around my head as I panic about the weeks ahead and how to fill them.

Thankfully there are not quite 104 days ONLY 77 phew.

Like maybe …
Building a rocket,
or fighting a mummy,
or climbing up the Eiffel Tower.

Discovering something that doesn’t exist,
or giving a monkey a shower.
Surfing tidal waves,
Creating nanobots,
Or locating Frankenstein’s brain.

Finding a dodo bird,
Painting a continent,
Or driving our sister insane.

In our house we only need one brother to drive one sister insane or the other way around as the case may be.

Come August 7th, which frankly although I may enjoy the first few weeks of the school holidays, I will be willing to arrive quickly with various fibres of my being, I will have a fifth grader and a first grader returning for their second American school year experience.

Between today and August 7th when they depart at 7.24am on the yellow school bus to resume their scholastic activities, they shall be known as a ‘rising 5th grader’ and a ‘rising 1st grader’. I only hope they rise to the occasion and get along for the intervening weeks.

Today is of course a whole lot more exciting if this is it – finito – you are done with the school years that the government and generally your parents think you should undertake for a basic level of educational instruction.  You will be a High School Graduate and good on you for all those years of undertaking learning with various levels of enthusiasm.

As with all things American I am finding this requires special celebratory activities. Not the least of which is widespread acknowledgement of your achievement of graduation by your micro community, the set of streets you live in, known in these parts as your neighbourhood.

I present to you the Class of 2013 High School graduates as seen on every street corner of our corner of East Cobb.*

Big community -all those babysitters heading off to college

Big community -all those babysitters heading off to college

Floodlit for the night time driving crowd

Floodlit for the night time driving crowd

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Clever - listing high school and college grads on the same banner

Clever – listing high school and college grads on the same banner

Did Steven's parents forget to send in his name or just wanted to go big?

Did Steven’s parents forget to send in his name or just wanted to go big?

Some recycling for next year here and then an individual wall poster for the basement

Some recycling for next year here and then an individual wall poster for the basement

Simple - clever! Enviro friendly

Simple – clever, enviro friendly

Mixing it up

Mixing it up – different high schools and college grads

Questions

Is this America wide or just our little corner?

What happens if you don’t get into College – lots of focus seems to be on where to next? Don’t you wish just one said
Bar tending and surfing for a year
with accompanying picture of a long board or is that just me?

With the exception of a couple of clever recyclers, what happens to these banners after they are used? Do they get cut up and shared by all?

But you just can’t help get caught up in it all. As I left on my walk/run this morning I came across my neighbour decking her home with balloons to celebrate her high schooler’s graduation. Decorations in the colour of the college you will attend is apparently traditional. It was hard not to feel pleased and excited for her and all those thousands of dollars of college education coming her way.**

Georgia bulldog to be

Georgia bulldog to be

Then I went past our own school on my loop, car park was overflowing due to the Grade 5 graduation going on inside –

Reminder - not even a full day....

Reminder – not even a full day….

Last year of elementary school round these parts

Last year of elementary school round these parts

I guess I have 12 months to find out where to buy car crayons

See next photo

Speaks for itself

Speaks for itself

I guess I have 12 months to find out where to buy car crayons.

* These photos were taken from the road on my run this morning (except the night shot – taken on my walk Monday night to the supermarket) on main roads, I didn’t jump a fence, step in a garden or leave the footpath to take any of these.

** I asked her if I could take a photo to record the moment and she was happy for me to do so.

The other side of the world, the other side of the road

Recently, over twenty five years since I sat my first drivers license road test as a nervous 17 year old, I sat another one, this one on the other side of the road as a more nervous 40-ish type. They might call it the right side here, but as far as I am concerned from twenty five years and three countries of residence all requiring forward motion on the left hand side of the road – its the wrong side for me.

It turns out that eight months after I arrived here in the Peach State and four months before the cut off for driving in Georgia on an international license (thank you Hong Kong) I have achieved the equivalent of driving ambidexterity – in fact I am a little put out that my license doesn’t specifically state that.

Seems you can teach an old dog new tricks.

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Certain information has been covered for security purposes and to save you from my many chins –      NOT PRETTY

I am even more disturbed that it includes a section for height, weight and eye colour, well I don’t mind about the eyes and height.  I now understand and appreciate the many Facebook and Twitter New Year’s resolutions that in January that said something like ‘I resolve to weigh what it says on my drivers license’ . I took that as the OK to fudge a pound or two or you know twenty because I really am not used to the whole world of pounds. Have I mentioned I think the US should move to the metric system so we can work in numbers under 100 when we are discussing weight issues? If not, consider it done.

The wait was semi deliberate. Americans who move to Georgia have 30 days to get their new license, they of course don’t need to sit two tests – written and behind the wheel. They just front up with several piles of residence proving documents, wait their three hours in the DDS queue and then get their new shiny, peachy license. We had to provide relevant visas and documents in our possession, of course, plus some that were not in our possession, nor available to us on our current visas. Cue the American favourite – lawyers – correct we had to get lawyers involved to get our drivers licenses.

In the beginning of my driving journey here it was often tricky, a bit headachy and there were one or two moments with vocal small people trapped with me inside a moving vehicle when

  • I thought a driverless car was overtaking me
  • Wincing when making a left hand turn across traffic, even though in theory I can see all the oncoming traffic I still can’t shake the feeling that a car will t-bone me from behind in the left hand lane
  • A casual walk by of the the front passenger side of the vehicle just to check everything was OK, not at all because I thought it was the drivers side
  • Actually opening the front passenger door to get in to drive place something important in there before proceeding to drivers side
  • Getting into the passenger side, you know, just for the sake of it, to see what’s going on (just once)

That’s all before we talk about the centre / center suicide turning lane. This in theory is a turninglanebrilliant invention as a middle lane between the left and right hand side of the road that a car from EITHER SIDE of the road can enter while waiting to make a turn to a side road or driveway not at a major intersection. This ensures that traffic can continue to flow freely on both sides of the road and is not held up by a car waiting to turn on a busy road. However – it is possible to have a head on collision totally legally in the ‘turning’ lane. Some of these lanes are two lanes wide – you can imagine I try to avoid where possible.

So I thought it was prudent to wait a few months to familiarise myself with the local traffic ways before I took my own on the road testing. I was gratified that I was not discriminated against and the DDS also made me wait three hours after my pre-booked appointment time to conduct said testing.

Now I may no longer have my NSW drivers license but I have two current and valid drivers licenses and one has a picture of  a peach on it.

Bus stops, ANZAC biscuits and a new friend

When we arrived six months ago our neighbours showered us with gifts.  Giant chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies, sidewalk chalk, colouring in books and pencils and a book about South Africa that was 20 years old (that gift from a neighbour who was cleaning out her basement and had misheard the part about us being Australian but having moved from South Africa).

This is the actual giant chocolate chip cookie we received

This is the actual giant chocolate chip cookie we received

You name it, they bought it to our door with their best wishes and curiosity about who exactly it was that was now in the house that had lain empty for so long.  In our special new ‘hood there is also an official welcoming committee chairperson; they bought a big hamper overflowing with supermarket items and vouchers for local restaurants.

I had my children write the thank you notes and return the door knocks as I was busy unpacking and arranging and being overwhelmed by a country move that was knocking the polish off my expat princess ways by actually having to do it all myself.

Even so, I was excited by the house for sale a few doors down; when it sold I was determined to be a first responder in the welcome cookie stakes. I didn’t know the current residents, they had not been door knockers at our house, but I didn’t wish them ill – just a speedy sale so I could bake for the new guys.

The house lay empty over the summer and the autumn/fall and some of the winter and then a couple of weeks ago there was moving trucks. Within a week one family had moved out another in.  I was excited, I must make those biscuits I thought. What kind? Should I do brownies? What might they like? Did they have kids? Are they going to be Paleo or GF people? That could be a problem. Then I kind of forgot, filed the thoughts in that place in my brain called ‘do that later’.

One morning last week after we had walked a full five houses to the school bus stop in 2 degrees and icy rain at 7.24am I was trudging home only to see the bus stop outside the new house, RIGHT AT THEIR DRIVEWAY. This did not make me happy. I was cold and wet and wondering why did they get a new bus stop and not us? I tossed the options; perhaps my cookie making would be better served to bring around Miss M the bus driver. Could I get my own bus stop I wondered?

It didn’t look good for their chances to experience my amateur and limited baking skills. First impressions count, forget the part where I hadn’t even met them yet.

The next morning I did meet them at the bus stop. Paula and her two lovely children, one in Kindergarten just like WASYO and one three year old. Turns out they had missed the bus and Miss M was doing them a solid and stopping to pick them up on the way.

We chatted all the way back to our house and then stood at the mail box for forty five minutes exchanging life histories; me in my pj’s (remembering its dark and cold at 7.20am when we leave the house so pj’s with some kind of cover up work well then, not so much at 8.30). They moved from New Jersey, she gave up her job to move with her husband’s work, she was not loving it so far, there had been tears. Relate, relate, relate. The cookies were definitely back on. I could have another friend in the street, a drop in, keep my kids kind of friend.

I was eager to help my new friend Paula immediately, so I shot off an email to our class mother at school to ask about the class parent for her son’s class; she didn’t have any email or phone contacts for other parents and her son wanted to set up play dates.  I copied her on the email to show my speedy action and thoughtfulness. I soon received two replies, our class mom was right on it and included contacts. Paula replied to say her name wasn’t Paula – it was Donna.

Tricky.

It made perfect sense of course because her email address did start with a d.

It was a set back but I wasn’t totally deterred, who doesn’t make a mistake with a name every once in a while? Right? I pushed on to the next project – the biscuits. I thought I could recover if we scored points there. I made ANZAC biscuits for the first time in my life, they weren’t terrible and so were deemed acceptable to pass onto Paula/Donna and family that afternoon after school.

Thank you, lovely, no allergies, no special dietary requirements – all looking good.

Had an email later to say that they were so good the three year old had been found in her closet after being AWOL, finishing a few extra above and beyond the ‘one before dinner’ she had been allowed. This perhaps should have produced a sense of foreboding but somehow did not.

The next morning at the bus stop Donna appeared – exhausted, she hadn’t slept all night because someone who had eaten all the cookies had been up all night vomiting and was now at home sleeping it off.

I am still hopeful, what do you think of my chances? Any tips for what not to do next?

Back to School

We have had quite an adventure preparing for next Monday’s start of the 2012-2013 school year. Not much of it to do with difficulty in locating stationary supplies and deciphering code for each country’s special word for texta (South Africa – Koki / USA – Sharpies) although that has played a part.

When that school bus rolls away on Monday morning with the World’s Angriest Five Year Old (WAFYO ) and her brother on board I will breathe a long sigh of relief – its been an eye opening journey.

It was the WAFYO’s Five year old check up at the doctor. A return to school requirement and a new admission must do for those entering the USA / Georgia public school system.

Overseas vaccination records are not accepted by the school directly, they have to be reviewed and certified by a local doctor. I have two different immunisation books, three different schedules because of  the countries we have lived in so all in all I think its not a bad thing to re-evaluate their vaccination records and update accordingly.

Hep A is a must have for admission in Georgia, so they are both due a shot, that sounds fair. Almost immediately, disaster strikes, turns out WAFYO requires five needles to get back on track. The horror is beyond description – until I find a way to talk them down to four, silently thanking the best forgotten school holidays last winter when they were man and beast down for three weeks with the Chicken Pox.

Both also have to undergo a sight and hearing test and a dental exam, apparently standard fair for newcomers. *cough, mutter under breath*

The husband was responsible for taking the 9yo for his tests and check up the day our furniture was delivered to the house – shoulder deep in boxes I sent him off to the doctors with instructions on Hep A and to have ‘whatever needs doing to get the certificate to give to the school’.  Needless to say he came home proud of manning the Hep A shot situation but with no other requisite paperwork. Charming conversation between the happy couple and another visit booked.

But I digress, luckily the number of shots coming was a whispered negotiation between nurse and parent and WAFYO entered the ‘interrogation round’ blissfully unaware of her impending fate.

Individual questioning of the WAFYO by the doctor included –

Do you wear a seatbelt in the car?

Do you wear a helmet when you ride a bike?

Does your mum mom and dad put sunscreen on you when you go swimming? Have you seen the freckles on this kid’s face?

Are your parents ridiculously irresponsible and will you tell me about it?’ – that one might have been in my head, right after the loud cackling laughter imaging my GP in Durban asking me these same questions with any kind of straight face. After all it is Africa, frontier land where they frown on and make fun of the ‘nanny states’ and their overbearing rules and regulations.

How many pieces of fruit do you eat every day? How many vegetables do you have at dinner? Thank goodness this is the one that eats fruit and vegetables.

Now I’m going to talk to your mom about your BMI. That is correct – BMI 

The child is 5 years old, apparently her BMI is on the borderline between green and orange, being in the 97th percentile for height and the 95th for weight for age will apparently get you that. I take it that she’s 2% ahead of the game and move onto the next question.

Do you worry about her cholesterol? At this point I guess I am meant to say yes – but am scared of being caught out, so kind of mutter a bit and leave it to some kind of accent lost in translation moment and hopefully move on.

This is a five year old check up. In two months she turns six, I am going to have to wait a little longer than that and read up on cholesterol in mini people before I return for that Q & A.

The conversation then turned to needles and la la la that’s all I remember without activating some kind of kiddy / parent PTSD.

Unfortunately the doctor cannot do the dentist check required so I call three dental surgeries who of course have no appointments in the next two weeks before school starts.

Did I mention we can’t submit our enrollment paperwork before we have all the necessary checks?

In the end we are directed to the public health drop in clinic, an excellent service, which for $5 a kid will have a nurse shine a torch in each mouth and give them a certificate that allows them to enrol in school. Yay!

Today was the class list postings, there was popcorn and popsicles and PTA ladies in matching tight t-shirts with sparkly lettering.

Tomorrow is the meet and greet in the classrooms with their classmates and teachers.

Friday is the practice run on the school bus and Monday……. is THE BIG DAY.

It’s been a logistical roller coaster ride already and we haven’t made it through the front door yet.