A hurricane, a cemetery and the Breakfast Club

The pineapple is a Southern symbol of “welcome”.

This week I had a wonderful treat – a visit from my best friend Trina and her hubby Larry. We had 2 1/2 days to explore the area and show them a little of what life is like in this part of the world. There’s so much to see and do in Savannah that it’s hard to know where to start, but we did our best to give them a little glimpse of everything.

We did the usual walking around down town, taking in the historic district and River St. We ate pizza at City Market, took in the sights of many of the squares, and had the best ice cream ever from Leopold’s. There is no shortage of great food here in Savannah, that’s for sure.

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The waves on Tybee Beach

An unplanned addition to our sight-seeing was watching the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The storm isn’t going to be any closer than 200 miles from here, but we enjoyed seeing the larger than usual waves on Tybee Island Beach and feeling the wind on our faces. Maybe it was having my best friend here, or maybe it was the power and beauty of the sea, but I felt more alive than I have in a while out there on the pier.

We also had to take in one of Savannah’s most beautiful and haunting sites, Bonaventure Cemetery. I love this place, even though graveyards generally give me the total creeps. The old stones and monuments have so much character, and I can’t help but wonder what the stories of the lives behind the marble and granite were. I showed Trina and Larry some of Bonaventure’s more famous inhabitants – the playful Gracie and the legendary Johnny Mercer. It was a beautiful day and we very much enjoyed our time there.

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One of the best parts of the visit was discovering The Breakfast Club, a little diner on Tybee Island that has the best breakfasts I’ve ever eaten. Trina, Larry and I ate there Thursday morning when the Wildman and Kev were in school and then we all met there again this morning before they left for home. Not only was the food wonderful, but the owners are hockey fans, so it’s a fair bet that I’ll be going back there.

It was a wonderful visit with people I love dearly. Of course it was heartbreaking when we had to say goodbye, but we had a few great days in this charming town. I can’t wait for them to come back again.


The Laundry Room (or playing catch-up, part 2)

So here we are in Savannah. Did I mention we’re in a small apartment? Oh, I did. Well, sorry to repeat myself but its small. We don’t even have our own washer and dryer. We could get one of those little apartment-sized sets, but they cost more than the big ones we left in Nashville and wouldn’t do half the size load. So here I sit on my day off in the laundry room of the apartment complex doing laundry. I haven’t used a laundry room – or lived in an apartment, for that matter – for a very, very long time. Life here has taken some getting used to, and I’ll admit I’m probably not really adjusted yet.

But all that aside, Savannah is a great town. I really don’t get downtown much since I’m working retail and still getting used to the hours and days off, but when I do get to get out it’s a beautiful place to be. We’re actually living on an “island” between downtown and the beach on Tybee Island. We chose this area to live in because of the great elementary school for the Wildman. It’s a small, quiet community, and its a big change of pace from good ‘ole Nashvegas. I never really thought of Nashville as a big city until we moved here, but in comparison it certainly is.

There are so many other things to get used to here, like sand under the topsoil (or instead of it) as opposed to the solid rock foundation of Middle TN, being on the Eastern time zone again, and the fact that I’ve worn shorts everyday I’ve been here and it’s past the middle of October. But some things are the same: Kev is working hard at school, the Wildman is – well, wild – and the crazy dogs keep us entertained. I’m getting involved with Scouting here locally and Kev is a tutor and mentor for undergrads through the college. We haven’t found a replacement for hockey for the Wildman yet, but we will. We have to find some way for him to expend some of that endless energy!

Well I need to check my washers and get the dryers cleaned out and ready. I also have a parent/teacher conference at the elementary school this afternoon, and those are usually quite interesting…


Playing Catch-Up, part 1

As I mentioned at the open of my last post, many things have changed since I last wrote here regularly. I also mentioned that our new home is in Savannah, GA.

Yes, the 2 boys and I have relocated even farther South. Kev graduated with his BFA in the spring, and from the time he enrolled in school we knew he’d have to get his MFA in order to fulfill his long-term plan – to teach photography and related courses on the college level. After investigating many different programs, different possible living arrangements and looking at the situation from every imaginable angle, we determined the best way for him to accomplish this goal was to move the family to Savannah, GA so that he could attend SCAD. It was by far the best program and the move made the most sense of any of the scenarios we considered, so we started sorting through all the things we accumulated in the 10 years we’d lived in our house to make the move 8 hours down the road to coastal Georgia.

Now, I only wish it was as easy as that line made it sound. First, let me say that we were not really prepared as we should have been for this move. I’m a planner, and an organizer, but I was so preoccupied with finding a job and a place to live in Savannah that I didn’t do any of my usual preparation for this massive undertaking. And I also underestimated the amount of stuff we had. We started selling, donating and giving away anything we didn’t think we’d need. Oh and did I mention that we were moving from our 3 bedroom home to a 900 sq ft apartment? So most of our stuff wouldn’t even fit in the apartment. We got down to the last few days before the move and realized that we weren’t possibly going to be ready before it was time to go. Kev really kicked into overdrive and worked to get things taken care of, and we managed to get a moving truck packed full of the stuff we needed.

At the same time we weren’t doing such a good job of planning the move, I was sending out resumes (easily 100 of them over 3 months), making connections on LinkedIn and writing introductory emails. If you think it’s hard to find a job in a town where you’ve lived for a while, then you should try to find a job in a town you’ve only been to twice and you know no one! Fortunately, I finally received a job offer the day before we were picking up the moving truck. So now gainfully employed, apartment lease signed, moving truck packed to the rafters, we hit the road.

Now, just because the moving truck was packed doesn’t mean the house was empty. Or that we had someone ready to rent it from us either. It actually took 3 more trips back to Nashville to get it empty, and we’ve had two renters back out on us at the last minute. But we’re here in Savannah, ready to start the next chapter in our lives.

Stay tuned for more…

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Savannah College of Art & Design Library


A mountaintop experience

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here. So long, in fact, that I really don’t know where to begin. There are so many things that have changed in our lives since I last wrote that there is no way I can possibly get all caught up in a single post, and honestly that’s not even what I want to write about now anyway.

So, I’m going to write about what I really want to write and fill in the other stuff later. I’m not sure if I’ve ever fully expressed how much I love being involved with the Boy Scouts, so I’ll start there. I had an incredible experience being a Girl Scout growing up, and I credit the program and my leader – who happened to be my mother – with helping me become the person I am today. So when the Wildman became old enough to join Cub Scouts, I looked up the local Pack and signed him up before they even had their membership drive for the year. I really had no intention of getting involved myself, other than being there to help out my boy, but within a couple months of being around the other leaders and the program itself, I volunteered as an assistant den leader.

I did all the necessary training and then started looking into what additional training there was out there that I could take to learn more about Scouting and the Boy Scouts in particular. I was on our council website and saw something called “Wood Badge.” I knew nothing at all about it, so I read the online brochure. I was intrigued. It said something along the lines of it being the ultimate adult leader training. I asked the other leaders in my Pack if they had done it, but no one had. I decided I was going to sign up and go see what this was all about.

The training consisted of two three-day weekends separated by about 3 weeks. I got my information packet in the mail and after reading through it, having some conversations with a very helpful person in the Council office and then a call from a Wood Badge staff member, I thought I might have been crazy for signing up. This was obviously a big deal – the nice lady in the Council office called it the “PhD” of Scouting – and I was the equivalent of a middle schooler at best! I had been in Scouting for less than a year, had only been an assistant Tiger Cub Den Leader, and I knew there was no way I was prepared for whatever this Wood Badge thing was going to be. But I don’t give up quite that easily, and I had already paid for the course, so on a Friday morning I set out for the local Boy Scout camp (which I had never stepped foot on) to start my Wood Badge training.

I was scared and feeling very intimidated, but it didn’t take long for me to begin to feel like part of the group and to start to realize that this experience was going to be like nothing else I’d ever had in my life. I won’t go into any details about the specifics of Wood Badge, because it is better to go into it not knowing what to expect. But I can say that it was life-changing for me. It’s as much about leadership and team building as it is about Scouting, and I use the things I learned there in my life everyday. Part of what makes the Wood Badge experience so incredible is the staff that puts it on – dedicated, passionate Scouters. Our staff was incredible, and I remember thinking while I was on the course how cool it would be to be asked to be on staff someday.

To my shock, surprise and honor, I was asked to be on staff for the next session of Wood Badge. To keep this from being too long, I’ll just tell you that we spent nearly 6 months preparing, and now our 6 days on course are over. I don’t have the words to describe what this experience has meant to me. Not only have the lessons I learned as I went through the course been brought into much sharper focus, but I now see how it ties together much more than I did the first time around. But what I take from this course even more than the things I learned are the people I met, the people I got to know better and the amazing staff I was blessed to share this time with. These staffers were the best of the best, passionate and dedicated to Scouting and to sharing the values and lessons of the course. I have made friends I intend to keep all my life.

Leaving the camp yesterday was doubly hard for me since I was heading back to our new home in Savannah and leaving Middle TN Boy Scout Council behind. I won’t see these folks at the next camp-out or district event. But I know that they are just an email or phone call away if I need them. It’s going to be hard returning to “real life” after an experience like this, but I’ll cherish the memories and the friends I’ve made for the rest of my life.


One hour

What a difference one hour makes.

At a few minutes after 5pm I was leaving the office, on my way home for the long holiday weekend. I had a slight headache so I decided I was going to go home instead of going to the Wildman’s hockey practice. It would be nice to be home alone for a couple hours.

About 10 minutes into my drive my mother called. She wanted to tell me that her older brother, my beloved Uncle Larry, was having chest pains and they had called the ambulance. She was just starting to tell me what she knew about the situation when she had another call coming in from her younger sister, so she got off the call with me to talk to her, promising to call me right back.

I’m not a patient person, and waiting on this kind of news about a loved one while stuck in rush hour, first day of a holiday weekend traffic isn’t easy. While traffic was stopped I decided to look on Facebook to see if any of my cousins had posted anything. See, while Larry is a very special uncle to a total of 6 of us, he’s also a doting father, grandfather and even great-grandfather to a good sized brood as well as big brother to my mother and her sister. He’s the family patriarch and has been since my grandfather passed away in 1984.

His oldest granddaughter had just posted a note saying “it’s not good” and asking for prayers. I called my mom and she was on the way to the hospital, saying he had suffered cardiac arrest. She told me she’d call when she had more news. That was about 35 minutes after I had left the office.

Once I pulled into the drive at my house I was a mess. I couldn’t hold the tears back. I didn’t want to lose my uncle. This world wouldn’t be the same without him. I kept thinking how he always checks in on my mother, who lives alone, and how much he loves everyone of us. He has another great-grandchild due soon, he can’t miss that. I was texting a friend back home in Ohio who knows my uncle very well, she sat next to him at choir practice at church last night. It is times like this that it is very difficult living 6 hours from our hometown where nearly every single other member of the family still lives.

One hour from the time I walked out of the office building, my mother called me back. We have lost him. It was a short call, as she was understandably very upset and I didn’t even have any words to say. I was glad I wasn’t at the hockey rink when I got the news, but being at home alone wasn’t all that great either. I text messaged a couple of friends and my best friend called me to make sure I was okay.

Am I okay? At this very moment, not really. It’s been about one hour since Mom called and I’ve stopped crying, but I know this empty feeling will last for a while. This is the 3rd time in 4 years I’ve lost a loved one. We lost the matriarch of my mother’s family, my Grandma, in 2009, then 8 months later I lost my other beloved Grandma. That was hard, because I’m going to turn 40 later this year and those were my first major losses since Grandpa died when I was 12. This one isn’t any easier. My heart is broken, not just for myself, but for my mom and her sister, my sweet aunt who has lost her husband of nearly 51 years, my cousins who lost their dad (one of whom just turned 50 years old yesterday), their children who have lost the grandpa who has been there for everything in their lives, and the 3 great-granddaughters who adored him. Then there are the nieces and nephews, our children, his co-workers, church family, and a long list of others who’s lives he’s touched over the years.

One hour. That’s the time it took for a huge hole to be left in many, many lives.

I love you Uncle Larry.


Time to celebrate

This weekend is Kev’s college graduation. Well, his undergrad college graduation. It’s a pretty big deal, considering he’s no spring chicken and he’s been doing the whole working-two-jobs-while-going-to-school-and-being-super dad-at-the-same-time thing for the last 5 years. So a celebration is in order.

My mom got here today, and Kev’s sister and family and his parents will all be here by the time he puts on the cap and gown on Saturday afternoon. Words really can’t express how proud I am of him and of how hard he’s worked to achieve this. But the party on Saturday night isn’t just for him. It’s for him, the Wildman and me, and everyone else who has supported us over the last 5 years. It’s a time for breathing a sigh of relief before we embark on whatever the next step holds for us.

We’ve invited everyone we know to come to the house on Saturday night. There will be much revelry and goofiness, but there will also be thanksgiving and fellowship with those who have understood why we haven’t had much time to socialize for a while. I’m looking forward to a good time.

So to Kev, congratulations. You’ve worked so hard and you really deserve this moment to shine. We love you!


Cleanly inspired

I write my best blog posts in the shower. Well, I don’t “write” them in the shower, which is actually part of the problem. Whilst I’m pampering my skin, exfoliating and moisturizing in all the appropriate areas (or hurriedly running a cheap shower scubby thing over myself which I may or may not have remembered to put shower gel on, which is, you know, the same thing) I often come up with brilliantly clever and witty stories that I’m sure will stop all of my readers in their tracks and make then want to share my words with the world and sing my praises to anyone who will listen. Or perhaps retweet or share it on Facebook. Or even just enjoy a little snicker to themselves while reading.

(Side note – the third sentence in the above paragraph may possibly be the longest sentence I’ve ever written.Ever.)

Anyway, I have these charming tales all laid out in my head during the solitude of my shower. I think about how great it will be when I have a minute to sit down and get the words out for all to read. But then it happens. I know you’re anxiously awaiting to know what it is that could force my mind to lose sight of the creative masterpiece I had recently created, so I won’t keep you in suspense. The “it” that happens is real life. Yes, no sooner than I’ve stepped out of the shower, life starts happening. Usually, it’s the Wildman looking for something, or the dogs need to go out, or I can’t find the mate to the sock I wanted to wear. Once I’ve turned in my towel for real clothes, the day has begun. Lunches are packed, backpacks are filled and out the door we run.

Sometimes, I forget these inspired thoughts altogether. Other times, when I finally get a chance to try and write, the magic is gone and I know it isn’t going to be nearly as good as what I thought of previously. Then there was today, when I had a hilarious post going in my head the entire time I was showering, only to then be distracted by the idea of this blog. Which was even wittier when I was washing my hair.

So the moral of my story is that I need a way to directly transfer my thoughts from my brilliant mind onto the computer screen – or maybe I need a waterproof computer. Does anyone else have this problem –  inspiration at inconvenient times? What do you do? How to you “hold that thought” until you can get it down in type? If there is a secret, I’d love to know. Because otherwise, only my shower scrubby will ever know how masterful my mind truly is.


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