Nights of Lights

10 12 2009

If you want to see pretty Christmas lights this year, go to Stone Mountain or Rabbittown.  Seriously.  I think I live in the best place on earth, but I’ll tell you – I’m moving to FL for the winter from now on.  I’ll see y’all in March sometime.

Do not come to Lake Lanier(a quick note about privacy – if you read more than one blog post or look at my Flickr page or even my Etsy page, you know my name.  I’ve been in the phone book since I moved into this house 10 years ago.  I’ve lived in Hall County since I was 3.  It’s not like you have to do detective work to find this bitch right here.)

Here’s what they are selling you.  Here’s what you’re getting, in part 1 and part 2. Not only that, the prices are RIDICULOUS.  For the amount of money you just spent to drive through the biggest electric bill in the South, you could have raided the package (liquor for you yankees) store, gotten shit-faced with your entire family, and watched the YouTube video of the house that has lights synced with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra 500 times.

Otherwise, your now broke ass got this:

Here’s why I’m personally interested.

To get to Lake Lanier Islands, you have to take I-985 to Exit 8, which is Friendship Road.  When we moved there, it was called Exit 2 because it’s the 2nd exit from the beginning of the interstate.  Exit 4, which is now the Mall of Georgia area, was Exit 1 and the only shit on it was a Wal-Mart and an Ace Hardware.

Here’s what it looks like now:

When I was 12, we moved to Countryside Village.  If you read booshy’s posts (and hopefully you did) she talks about the McDonalds.  Directly across the street from that McD’s is Countryside Village.  It existed way back before Friendship Road had shit like grocery stores and fast food restaurants.

Can’t tell what Countryside Village is from the website?  That’s because they don’t want to tell you.  It’s a trailer park with about 700 homes in it. The only entrance or exit is the one that you can see from McDonald’s. Now it has a security gate on it to keep out people like me who are going to see my parents, my grandmother, my siblings, and my auntie who ALL live in the trailer park.  Every time we drive up to that gate and I have to call my mom on their little buzzer phone I need a xanax.

Why?  Because it’s a 700 unit fucking trailer park with a security gate.  Consider that every home has an average of 2 cars (6 in my family alone) AND a classic car AND a motorcycle or three, this is a lot of petroleum fueled product moving in and out of this place.

Here’s a fun game – how to find a drug dealer.  Drive through the trailer park and find the blacked out Escalade parked in front of a mobile home that cost $15,000 brand new.  Odds are that’s a drug dealer.  That drug dealer gets a key card to get in the trailer park and so do the folks that stay with him.  I’m a suburban housewife whose family – the ENTIRE thing – lives inside and I can’t get a key card?

There’s a term for this in city planning:  clusterfuck.  It is a traffic NIGHTMARE 24/7 every day starting at Thanksgiving until the end of the year.

When I was in school, Hall County only had 5 high schools.  I went to West Hall.  Here’s how you get there.  You go all the fucking way up Friendship Road (the nights of lights route, y’all) and take a right onto McEver.  Well, it used to be McEver.  Now it’s Peachtree-Industrial Road.  This is about a 15 minute trip in regular, every day traffic.

7:00 – go crank the Malibu and let it warm up while you finish your hair and makeup.   7:15 – leave the house.  7:30 – get to school, see what your crew is up to, bitch about homeroom.  7:45 – school starts.

The Friday after the Friday after Thanksgiving, here’s how it goes.  7:00 – crank the Malibu and let it warm up.  7:15 – leave the house.  8:45 – arrive at school because the line to the Nights of Lights is ALREADY backed up to the interstate.  The alternative to getting to school late was to ride Bus 712.  You could buy both a crack rock and a crack whore under the age of 13 on that bus.  (Here is the reason I have never even tried an illegal drug – you grow up seeing THAT, you’re not going to want any either.)

Friends, buy some Captain Morgan and put this on repeat.  Enjoy!


Internet superstar

27 09 2009

It’s been an odd couple of weeks since my last post.  It hurts my brain just to think about it!

1.  Shaun and I went to my high school reunion.  In school, we used to say that no one would show up to our reunion because our class lacked school spirit.  Seriously, the student council didn’t give a rat’s ass and neither did anyone else.  It was 1999 and we were all facing going into college or into the work force with little to no money.

There were maybe 50 people at the reunion and I did see a friend who I’ve known since kindergarten.  We didn’t talk much in high school and I think I found out why.  She made a passing comment while we were catching up that stuck with me.  “Of course you’re doing well, you’ve always been perfect.”

I wonder how many people actually know that’s not true.  I screw up as much as anyone, I just don’t tend to dwell on it or get caught in the downward spiral of screwing up.  I’m not even an eternal optimist – I’m definitely not one of those smiley, cheerful people.  It’s food for thought.

2.  Sick kiddos.  Actually, only one was sick.  The other was faking it.  A had a fever and just laid down and stared at the TV.  Her school has had about 50 different viruses going through it, so we thought it was strep at first.  It wasn’t so it may have been a UTI (just a very small amount of bacteria was in her urine) or it could have just been one of those flu bugs.  She’s all better and back to her goofy, normal self.

3.  Ramping up for the “anniversary effect” of the PTSD.  A goes through the anniversary effect during October.  It seems like every time she had to move foster homes, it was right around Halloween.  That stuck with her.  Last year was TERRIBLE so hopefully this year we’ll be prepared for whatever comes.  I’m already stocking up on aromatherapy stuff and reinforcing the fact that she never has to go anywhere again.  She’s home.  She’s already started to panic a bit so we adjusted her morning medications and that seems to have helped.  We’ve also briefed the school and we’re keeping on them about her mental state – it took a while to get them to take us seriously but now it seems like everyone is on board.

With LJ, we’ve just seen more sexual acting out.  He retreats to this fantasy world inside his head and doesn’t seem to realize what he’s doing.  It’s not regression – it’s more like he’s living in a fairy tale.

He’s been talking a lot about “grandmas.”  His favorite kind of pie is the type grandmas make.  Grandmas make sweaters.  Grandmas take care of you and give you cookies.  Grandmas have white hair, wrinkles, and glasses.  Yesterday, I finally got fed up with it (in Goodwill of all places) and told him that he got his grandmas and they weren’t going to change.  Neither grandma has white hair, neither one knows how to make a scrap of clothing, and one of them couldn’t bake a pie if her life depended on it. In reality, there’s no such thing as a “perfect grandma.”

I grew up without grandparents being an active part of my life.  Neither set approved of my parents’ marriage and we most often just made it on our own.  He did spend a lot of time with his bio-grandparents before he came into state care, so I don’t want to ruin those memories but he’s taking them a little too far.  I don’t want him to get older and see them and realize how bad it was for  him.  They loved him – they just don’t have the skills to take care of themselves, much less a child!

We went through this a month or so after he moved in with regards to his bio father.  It got to the point that I had to sit down with him and ask if he wanted to know the truth of the matter or just continue to believe what he did of his dad.  He said he wanted the truth, so I told him.   I may have to enlist my dad to explain it to him.  My dad’s childhood is very similar to LJ’s and they have this great bond.  I think he’d take the truth better from Dad than from one of us.

4.  Sick mommies.  It’s been odd – very odd.  My grandma was sick for a bit, then my great-grandma passed away almost a week ago.  Then grandma went down to FL to bury g-gma next to g-gpa and she got back yesterday.  My sister has been sick and my mom was for a little bit but recovered very quickly.  Then a couple of days ago I started having a fever and today my throat feels like I swallowed some hot sauce.  I must have gotten that strep that was going around.  *sigh*  So, tomorrow I’ll go to the doctor and get more antibiotics.  I’ve only been off the antibiotics from the surgery for a week!

5.  Flooding.  Lots of it.  We live northeast of Atlanta and thankfully in the foothills of the Appalachians so our land is soggy and puddly, but we didn’t get any water inside the house.  Thank God!  Even 5 miles away houses were destroyed and the traffic accidents have been terrible.  We went to an antique store yesterday – it’s about 7 miles from our house – and on the way home saw two accidents happen. My heart goes out to everyone that lost their homes, cars, and in some cases, families.

6.  Big internet sales!  Since we’ve been home bound from the sick babies and the flood, I’ve been on the internet a TON.  We’ve sold a couple of pipes, sent some lace to Japan, mailed  out 6 books on bookmooch, and I’ve started uploading a ton of stuff to flickr.  I’m working on a pipe resource, so hopefully I’ll have that available soon.  I also want to get some pipe related merchandise up in the Etsy shop, but I’m missing my computer parts.  I’m spending time with a hard drive clock today.

7.  Got LOTS of fabric.  I love Goodwill.  Seriously.  I got a ton of fabric for an average of 30 cents a yard and I also got some bed sheets and pillowcases that I can use.  I found some gorgeous blue eyelet cotton that I was SUPER excited about.  Got some corduroy, some raincoat material, a ton of cotton, and some linen.  It’s going to be fun!

This has been a long, long post lacking in cohesiveness, so I’m going to end it here.  Hopefully I can pick this blogging habit back up so I don’t end up with 300 things going on at once.  Good times!

hot hot heat

29 07 2009

How is it 80 degrees in the house but only 74 degrees outside?  This is not good!

I’m going to feed the kids popsicles for lunch.  It’s too hot for anything else.  I feel the worst for Cali, our collie mix.  She’s got on a thick fur coat and is just stretched out panting.

July 24, 1999

26 07 2009

One of my ongoing projects is to get all the family photos in digital format and optimized.  I just do it bit by bit and hopefully soon it will start to come together.

Here are some pictures of my wedding to Shaun 10 years ago.  I love my dress.  First it was my aunt’s, then my mom’s, then mine, then a friend of mine’s.   My aunt made the veil and Shaun’s grandmother made the flowers.

In the window of the church.  The dress is ivory satin and ivory lace.


Me and my mom.  She’s a tall one!  I’m wearing 3 inch heels.

scan0205 copy 4

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Me and Shaun.  The church is set back in a sort of woodsy area but is right next to a highway.  The entire time we did the photos, people were rolling their windows down and yelling either “congrats!” or “DON’T DO IT!”

wedding photo 001

Me and my Dad.  I’m an inch shorter than him in real life, so this was quite the experience.  He still had hair too!

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The wedding “party.”

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How not to use Jedi mind tricks

2 07 2009

I’ve only been pulled over once in my driving career.

That’s not to say, I haven’t been carefully prepared on how to react when being pulled over or that I have a symbiotic relationship with the local police.  Neither is true.  I just am not blessed with the ability to have normal things happen to me. It must be genetic, because neither my brother nor sister can get in trouble for normal things either.

I had taken my sister to the hospital for complications with her pregnancy.  She was going into labor way too soon – like months too soon – and was in a ton of pain.  So my dad watched my nephew and I took Shaun’s car to escort Sister to the hospital.

This was soon after we had gotten my two youngest who were 2 and 3 at the time (they were born in the same year) and traded in my Grand Am for my gas-guzzling American SUV, which could hold two car seats.  Yeah – you try to put two car seats in a Grand Am.

Now, you have to remember that Shaun and I were not planning on adopting toddlers.  The agency had their ages wrong in the file, so we had to trick out some of our old gear to compensate.  This includes one of my bookbags that has this print on it:  Gun, c.1982 Print by Andy Warhol This bag is the perfect diaper bag – plenty of pockets, easy to carry, has a very sturdy quick release clasp on it, is lined with waterproof material, and the entire front velcroes down so the crap doesn’t fall out if you drop it. It just has pictures of .38 pistols all over it.

My sister calls, I head out and pick up my bag, which I kept my ID and keys in because there’s no reason to carry two bags especially when you have TWO toddlers.  I didn’t even think about it.  I tossed it in the back of Shaun’s car – a black Honda Accord that looks like every single black Honda Accord in the world – and went to get Sister.

We did the hospital thing, where they did what they could and got her out of pain, and then we walked (she waddled) out to the car.  Toss the bag in the back, while listening to her bitch about needing nicotine and food, and get the car on the road.

As we leave the hospital parking lot, we picked up a tail.  It was an all black city cruiser.  It’s ok, I tell myself, they’re everywhere. This is kind of a rough part of town.  I’ll just drive extra safe.  A mile down the road, we pulled in to the Taco Bell and the cruiser pulled into a hotel parking lot across the street.

This is when Sister says “something’s going on.  I’ll bet you a dollar they’re calling in the plates right now while we’re getting drive through.”  My sister is much more experienced in police matters than I am, but I took the bet anyways.  We got our food and took a left out of the Taco Bell and pulled into the left turning lane to get on the road that takes us back to the interstate. I even used my turn signals.

Sure as hell, the cruiser pulled into the lane behind us and as soon as we made the left turn, the blue lights came on.  Sister says “you didn’t do anything wrong, they’re looking for something or someone.  I hope my Taco Bell doesn’t get cold.”

I roll down the window, place my hands on the steering wheel, and look straight ahead until the officer arrives.  (See, I’ve been trained for this.)  Sister sits calmly, hands in plain sight on top of her tummy.

There are several rules when you get pulled over.  Always keep your hands in sight.  Always call the officer sir or ma’am.  Don’t talk his ear off or offer excuses.  Don’t say that you know or are related to so-and-so who works at so-and-so city office.  Don’t get out of the car unless he tells you to.  Don’t move for the console, the dashboard, under the seat or for a bag without asking for permission.  Tell the truth (lies are too easy to uncover and by this point the cop already knows.)  Got it?  Got it.

The officer walked up like you see in the movies, one hand on his holster with his gun side facing away from the car so that he’s standing kinda sideways, the other holding a flash light, and stops right next to the B column of the car.  Tall, skinny dude about my age.  He looked a little stressed out, from what I could tell with the light in my face and only being able to see him from my driver’s side mirror.  He shone the light around in the car and asked me for my license and the registration on the car.

I said “my license is in the bag in the seat behind me, and I’m not sure where the registration is – this isn’t my car.  Do you mind if we look?”

“Do you have any weapons in the vehicle, ma’am?”

“No, sir.”  At this point my sister reaches into the back seat, picks up my bag, and sets it in my lap.  There is a point in high stress situations where shit just gets ridiculous, and here it was.  I have a so-called diaper bag covered with an Andy Warhol print of .38 pistols (which is the only gun I have registered in my name) in my lap, a nervous cop, a pregnant lady in the car, no idea where the registration this damn clone of a car is, and cooling tacos in the center console.

I ripped open the velcro on the bag, pulled out my wallet, and handed the license to the cop.  Then I sent a silent “thank you” to God that I had on a hoodie and my freshly-inked arson tattoo was covered.  He shone his light on my license and said “is this your valid address?”

“Yes sir.”

“Ms. Dollins, have you ever been in trouble before?”

“No sir, this is actually the first time I’ve EVER been pulled over.”

This is when my sister pipes up.  “Sir, what’s going on?  As you can see, I’m pregnant and I went into labor too soon so my sister took my to the hospital.”  My sister looks a lot more innocent than she is. I look a lot less innocent than I am.

He shone the light in on her, who is sitting with the paperwork for the car – service records, owner’s manual, receipts for the brake job my dad did a few weeks before – and said “we’ve received a report that a black Honda Accord was stolen from the hospital parking lot.  Did you locate the registration?”

I look at her for confirmation and tell him, that no – we have no idea where the registration is.  Sister held up the receipt for the brake job and said “we have this.  It shows that her husband paid for service on this car not too long ago.”

He asked who the car belonged to and I told him that it belonged to my husband and confirmed that he has the same last name and lives at the same address that I do.  “I’ll be back in a few minutes, ladies.  Please stay in the car.”

As soon as we see he’s gotten back in the cruiser we both bust out laughing and Sister demanded her dollar.  I told her that I wasn’t taking her pregnant ass anywhere else, if this was the kind of shit she gets into.  In just a few hours, I’ve transformed from a cute yet non-traditional foster parent of two into a gun-toting, tattoo wielding, car thief!

He came back and handed me back my license and said “you two stay out of trouble tonight, you hear me?”  We laughed and said yessir, we were going straight home.  He laughed and told us we were free to go.  I cranked the car and we left, Sister digging into the Taco Bell bag.

Half-way through that taco, we pulled up to a road-block manned by 8 cruisers and a couple of the fancy-schmancy police SUVs with the light bars in the grills.  There are cops all over the road, and since I’ve already got my wallet in my lap, I have my ID ready. Sister has tossed the gun-diaper-bag in the back seat.

It’s our turn to get searched and the cop – a shorter, bearded man – shines the flashlight through the car and spots my sister chowing down on her taco (seriously, cops don’t phase my sister) and cracks up laughing.  I said…

No, seriously, I didn’t even think before I said it.  I am just THIS geeky.

“This is not the black Honda Accord you are looking for.”

My sister choked on her taco and the cop looked at me kinda funny.  I explained that we’d already been pulled over about the stolen car and asked if he’d like to see my ID.  He told me it was ok, then shined the light on my damn diaper bag in the back seat.  “With a bag like that, it’s no wonder you don’t get pulled over more often.”  By this time a couple of other cops had come up to join in the laughter and they all agreed and waved us through. My sister was already on the phone telling everyone we knew that her sister was an armed car theif who used Jedi mind-tricks on the police.

Thankfully, we made it home without being stopped again, where my sister gleefully told my dad that for once SHE was the good child.  Now, with her help, this story has become a regular in the list of “shit Cyndi did” that gets told to every new person who encounters the family right along the time in school that I unintentionally beat up a fat kid.  Thanks, Sister.

Playing outside

29 06 2009

… remember folks, always wear your sunscreen.

We had a nice weekend, I’d have to say.  Shaun went out and cut the grass and I chilled in the hammock with a beer, watching the kids play and reading the new Catherine Coulter book Knock Out.

I could only stay out about an hour before I felt myself roasting through the SPF 60 sunscreen.  With my skin, I’m one of three colors:  goth white, lobster red, or speckled brown.  I’m hoping this year I may get to a tan color somewhat resembling my mom’s.

The kids think my skin is so weird.  Seriously, A&E are the whitest kids ever.  EVAR.  Well, blonde children may be lighter but some of them are at least tannable.  They have like three freckles and two moles between them.  LJ has a pretty (ok, handsome) tan all over.  I’m thinking he’s either half-hispanic or half-Asian with his black hair, brown eyes, and skin tone.  No one really knows.  That just means he’ll look like MY side of the family.  Whose racial heritage no one… really knows.  (I mean, seriously people, how wide can you spread your genetic pool?  Sooner or later you have to run out of people to make babies with.) They’ll all fit right in!

Check out how cool and coordinated I am!  I mean, even my earbuds match my hat and bikini.  The iPod is silver though, so it kinda throws off the whole groove.  At first, I was all the way in the shade, but then the sun moved on me!  It’s a good thing that the whole geeks dissolving in sunlight thing is only a myth.

cyndi in the hammock

kids in the sandbox

It's hard to smile when you're being roasted!

It's hard to smile when you're being roasted!

Busy Bird Day

29 06 2009

Pete and Cami, my two diamond doves, woke me up this morning chattering like crazy.  Diamond doves are normally very calm, chilled out little birds.  They don’t really play with toys and they don’t really chatter the way finches do.  They just relax.

Diamond doves are TINY.  I have the world’s smallest hands, and one barely fills up my palm.  When my husband has to catch one after it escapes (normally Cami – Pete is a wuss) his two cupped hands give the bird more than enough room to move around.

They were excited this morning.  I went over to open the curtain to the window their cage is in front of, and they started spinning in circles on their perches, cooing at the top of their teeny tiny lungs.  I looked out the window and the full sized mourning dove who lives in the tree out front was sitting there waiting.  Apparently, this is a very special appearance and my two little innocent doves turned into squawking teenagers going nuts over a heart throb.

He stayed for a bit and they talked.  Well, he would coo like a big dove and they would flip shit.  Then the two chipping sparrows came to visit.  They pranced and pecked for a bit before they were joined by a grosbeak, a couple of red finches, and a grackle.  The grackle and the dove are the largest birds the two little ones will tolerate.  They attack the window whenever a robin or cardinal shows up so we see mostly finches and the little sparrows.

Here are some of our regulars.  Shaun gets the good pictures because I’d need a stool to shoot pics out of the window without a screen.