Atlanta

We drove to Bloomington, Indiana (I found out there’s a Bloomington, Illinois, too) in August, packed up the kids’ moving truck, and headed to Atlanta, where Matt is working on his Ph.D. at Emory.  I ended up being mostly emotional support.  Matt’s parents packed a lot before we even arrived, and unpacking?  Maddie was bitten or stung by a nasty insect that caused her foot to swell up to gigantic proportions, and itch crazily.  We spent time at urgent care while the unpacking occurred.  Convenient, huh?

Ash and Matt actually live in Decatur, which proved to be a delightful suburb of Atlanta.  They live in a large apartment complex built in the 1940’s, with lush green spaces surrounding them, and people have gardens outside their back doors.  Ash walks a few steps to do laundry, and even has a clothes line, which works when it’s not raining (good luck).

We toured Decatur, ate wonderful food, touched the surface of Atlanta, and drove 16 hours home.  The trip went quickly, compared to the 19-hour drive home from New Orleans earlier in the summer.  Did Ash and Matt NEED us to come move them?  No.  But we could help, so we did.  Seeing the place our kids would call “home” was priceless.

Here are the kids, in front of their apartment, and ready for adventure!

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Downtown Decatur.

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(Matt propping up the affronted foot.)

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Standing in line for tacos in a converted gas station?  Yes, please.  Visit Taqueria Del Sol when you go to Decatur.  You’ll thank me.

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Donuts!  Yummy, but the maple-bacon one was weird.

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Ash went dumpster diving before we left her apartment in Bloomington.  She scored.  An oak desk for the office, a 1950’s table for the extra bedroom, and another bookshelf.    White spray paint did wonders, even the places where I put masking tape over the screws.  Don’t tell Marcus.

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Onward to Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.  I could have watched the kids play in the fountain all day!

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The capitol building, where they were filming a scene from Ride Along 2.   I didn’t see anyone famous, and was irritated that I couldn’t get better pictures of the whole building due to props, cameras, etc.  At least we got to see the two-headed calf.

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We were looking for ice cream, and found an old brick building (across the street from this one) converted into a fresh food market.  So fun!  I am sure Ash and Matt shop for their tripe and cow feet there!

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I’m already looking forward to another visit, especially now that Lincoln has a direct flight to Atlanta!  What would we do with all our extra time if I got there in 3 hours instead of 16??

Three girls.

I had the opportunity to take pictures of Gracia on her twelfth birthday.  I have known her and her sweet family since she was a tiny girl, and I was amazed at what was transpiring in front of my lens:   giggling girls who would occasionally shoot me a womanly look; one foot in girlhood, and the other foot testing the waters of young womanhood.  A lovely, and difficult age, if I remember correctly with my own four tempestuous females.

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What’s happenin’.

Summer has flown by, but I haven’t documented much here.  I am part of an August photo challenge, so that is fulfilling my photography bug.  Three of my girls have been home more this summer, so I’ve tried to take advantage of the time we’ve had together.  Katherine starts her last year of nursing school, and then gets married.  Maddie starts college in October.  And Rebecca started high school full time yesterday – my first year of homeschool retirement.  So now I’m eating bonbons, and watching Dr. Phil.  Or not.

We moved Ashley to Atlanta from Bloomington, Indiana.  Matt will pursue his doctorate in Jewish Studies at Emory.  It was so good to see their new place, and tour a bit of Decatur, where they live, and Atlanta.  They will enjoy this new adventure, and I’ll enjoy living vicariously through them.  :)

These pictures are from this week:  Bec’s first day of school; Kat and her dad talking after lunch; and Ash Facetiming her sisters, to check in on Bec’s first day of school.

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Grand Isle State Park.

Grand Isle State Park is at the tip of Louisiana.  The waves were gentle, which disappointed the girls.  There was also a lot of seaweed that the park service raked into piles.  But on the upside…there were a lot of crabs!  We caught hermit crabs, and Matt caught a bucket of stone crabs (I think) for us to eat.  With his bare hands.  Highly entertaining, but they were too gritty to consume.

The first morning the kids ran out in front of us to get in the water.  When Marcus and I arrived, the kids were huddled on the beach:  SHARKS!  I couldn’t make myself believe there were dozens of sharks waiting to devour the kids with nary a warning from the park rangers.  So I asked the official-looking person studying a dead sea turtle.  He said they didn’t see too many sharks, but they saw lots of porpoises!  Matt and I explored further down the beach.  A wave broke about 20 feet from us…and in the wave was an extra-large porpoise!  They swim in groups in the morning to feed on the fish near shore.  It is rather alarming to see them so close (they are huge!), but we were relieved we wouldn’t be eaten.  At least some of us were relieved.  Some of my children Rebecca were still convinced there was a shark or two cruising nearby.

Other items of note:

Matt, Nebraska and Ashley shelled more shrimp than you could shake a stick at.  The jambalaya we made was FANTASTIC.

We spent the evenings reading and playing cards in the camper away from mosquitoes.

We got burned to a crisp the last day.  We reapplied that sunblock, but 6 hours in the sun was too much.

Ashley found a pallet in the water, and turned it into a raft.  The kids played with it for hours.

We brought home many beautiful snail shells.

This beach wasn’t as nice as the beach we visited in Alabama, but we enjoyed exploring a new place with its own unique beauty on the Gulf of Mexico.

 

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Life Group.

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Life Groups are small groups at church that meet to study God’s word, fellowship, pray and in our case, eat.  And then we go back for seconds.

I have been in a few Life Groups, and I must say our current one astounds me, because when I look around at the people God has brought together, I see something only God could do, and I am grateful.

My friend Keri and I have prayed over the downtown neighborhoods for years.  She had to move from the area we prayed over, yet God has brought the very folks we’ve prayed about through my front door on an acreage south of town.

We are all so different:  A single mama working and raising her two kids.  An airplane mechanic from Texas.  My son-in-law’s sister and husband from Washington. A gal who hopped on a bus in Oakland, California a year ago, and hopped off the bus in our fair city to start a new life.  The neighbors she invites!  Our neighbor and her son from Ohio.  A woman with an intellectual disability who loves people, loves to gather together, and calls me her aunt.

So we give God the glory for bringing this motley and amazing snippet of the Body together, giving us a rich fellowship and oh, so many different perspectives.   And a side blessing is that my kids enjoy this, too.  They actually get out of bed on Sunday mornings to join us.  That should tell you something.

An evening in New Orleans. A whole different ballgame.

I know what you think I’m going to say.  That after dark, New Orleans turns into the Den of Iniquity.  It may in some areas, and I assume it may get more so as the evening wears on.  But that is not what stood out to me at all.

In the evening, the heat lessens, the light gets softer, and the city turns a little magical.  Every city probably looks better in the evening light, but it really brought out the loveliness in New Orleans.

After our tour, we all checked TripAdvisor for some good, moderately-priced food.  We found (after a few circles) Capdeville, which was wonderful.  Old album covers on the walls, a jukebox, and the food?  The Mahi-mahi was the best fish I’ve tasted.  The truffle oil macaroni and cheese melted in your mouth.  Marcus wanted local cuisine, and had crab cakes with collard greens and grits souffle.  (Sounds weird.  Tasted surprisingly great!) We topped it off with expresso creme brulee, which could have been the nectar of the gods in the Greek myths.

We had an hour left of parking (finding parking was relatively easy but expensive), so Ash suggested we see as much as we could see in an hour.  So we were off.  This may have been my favorite hour of our visit.

We enjoyed street musicians, and the blues music we heard from the bars.  We witnessed a wedding party walking from the church to the reception down a busy street with a police escort.  And I mean EVERYONE who attended the wedding.  The bride held a white parasol, and many others waved their handkerchiefs.  Why?  Look at my last blog post.  We saw the enticing insides of stores and art galleries whose lights glowed onto the sidewalk, making it difficult to walk past without peeking in.  Matt bought Ashley a drink because you can have an open container in the city, and someone had to exercise that freedom.  A party bus drove by, flinging plastic beaded necklaces into the crowds on the sidewalks.  Marcus and Nebraska both retrieved one.  (I heard if you flash someone at Mardi Gras, you get a necklace.  I reassure you there was no flashing to obtain these beads.)

In summary, I wouldn’t recommend Bourbon Street at night, but to really see New Orleans, you have to see it in the evening.

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