Zen Tea – Chamblee

IMG_1142I found a new tea shop yesterday. My friend Sylvia had invited me to this place before, but our schedules never matched up. Finally, we went to Zen Tea in Chamblee.

As New Age music greeted us, I immediately relaxed the moment I walked through the door. A feeling of calm wafts through the atmosphere of this Asian inspired tea room. No, this is definitely not the Starbucks loud place, but more of a reflective, quiet place to sit and catch your breath. It’s a retreat set apart from the rest of the world.

Along one wall is a bar area, while there are several tables on the other side for eating lunch. The back wall displays teas and accessories for sale. The menu is simple, chicken salad, soup and a few other offerings – nothing heavy – just enough to fill you up while you sip tea.

Ah, tea.

The tea menu is huge!

The tea menu is divided into black, green, rooibos and more. I chose an Assam, but there were two to choose from. I selected the Assam Borengajuli, which was good, but maybe a little too much with a hint of Earl Grey in it. I came back a few days later and tried the Golden Monkey tea, which is definitely my new favorite.

The shop also offers yoga, meditation classes and reflexology sessions in the back room. See their website at www.ezentea.com.


A Small Piece of the Pacific Northwest Located in Atlanta

Historic Fourth Ward Park

Historic Fourth Ward Park

Atlanta.

One usually thinks of the Deep South, Coca-Cola and boiled peanuts.

Rarely would someone compare any part of Atlanta to the Pacific Northwest.

However, I found a small piece of the Pacific Northwest less than 20 minutes from my home.

Today, my husband and I wanted to do something different with our children. I wanted to go tour a historic home in Roswell, Thing One wanted to go to the zoo, Thing Two didn’t want to go anywhere, and hubby said we had to do something outdoors. Somehow, we settled on taking our dogs to the newly opened Atlanta Beltline trail.

As we were driving there, I searched online at maps, trail events and other activities. I saw on the www.beltline.org website that we were going to be near the Historic Fourth Ward Park. I had never heard of it before as it is only two years old, but the pictures looked interesting so we decided to try it.

I’m not sure how to officially access the Eastside Trail section of the Beltline, but we usually park at the Kroger next to the old Atlanta City Hall Annex building and climb up the embankment. Once we got on the trail, there was a fair amount of joggers, cyclists and people walking their dogs. It’s refreshing to see an urban oasis of people getting outdoors an enjoying the day.

To access the park, we exited the Beltline at Ralph McGill Avenue. I saw parts of Atlanta I had never seen before including many funky warehouses that now housed creative companies.

We arrived at the park.

I was amazed.

I felt someone had dropped me in a downtown Seattle park — but I was in Atlanta.

Where we entered the southern end of the park, there were gardens and walkways next to newly built apartments. Several people were sitting on benches drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, talking on cellphone. Then, we arrived at a huge splash pad where children were running around through the fountains. The mom in me quickly noticed there were clean, working restrooms and a water fountain located nearby. After kicking ourselves for not bringing bathing suits, we headed to the playground which had large disk swings similar to what we had seen in Vancouver a year ago.

I can’t resist a good playground.

I got on one of the swings with Thing Two and we went so high I had butterflies in my stomach. Hubby took pictures while the dogs enjoyed resting next to a park bench.

When it was time to leave, we continued north to an amazing sunken lake area with a grassy tiered amphitheatre. Again, it reminded me of the sunken gardens we had visited in British Columbia. Two sides of the lake had interesting waterfall sculptures and a person could sit there and block out Atlanta, traffic, the world.

According to the Historic Fourth Ward Park website at www.h4wpc.com, it turns out this area constantly had problems with drainage so the city, many groups including the Trust for Public Land and a newly formed Park Area Coalition, got together to turn the area into a 2 acre lake. Additionally, there is a skatepark (the first in Atlanta) that runs adjacent to the Eastside Trail. If we had stayed on the trail instead of getting off at Ralph McGill, we would have seen it.

So if you’re in the downtown area of Atlanta, make sure you don’t miss this hidden gem. Bring your bathing suit, a picnic lunch, a soccer ball and plan to spend a leisurely afternoon.


Dance Camp

My first dance recital

My first dance recital

Last spring, my husband and I purchased a month of dance classes for my daughter at our school auction.  I called the studio where I was told Thing 2 could try out a class before committing to the month.  After printing out the class schedule, I finally convinced her to go to a jazz class.

Afterwards, she kept saying how she wasn’t flexible enough to do dance and that all the other students were so much better. I explained that it was March and these girls had danced since the early fall. We decided to postpone enrolling for classes until this fall.

When I was signing her up for summer camps, I noticed they had a three-week camp, but didn’t look further into it because of travel schedules. Towards the end of July, I just happened to run into a friend who was enrolling her daughter for one day of the camp.

“You can do that?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “They cover all the genres of dance so the kids get a feel for everything that they offer.

“But I thought it was a three-week camp”

“No, no, no. It’s a three-week session and they get a discount for doing the entire three weeks, but they can do one week or drop in a do a day here and there.”

I filed this information in the back of my mind and when we returned from our beach trip, I confirmed with the studio that Thing 2 could come on any day of the camp and that there were spots open. In fact, we could just show up without a reservation. I broached the subject with Thing 2 who had already looked into the class schedule for the fall. We talked about it and she decided tentatively that she would try it for one day.

Over the weekend before she tried it, she kept asking questions. “Is this camp for people who have already been taking dance?”, which is her code for if the girls would be better than her. “Have you already signed me up” – her code for finding out if it was too late to back out. I didn’t think she’d end up going to it and I was regretting that we had spent money buying the month of dance classes at the auction in the first place.

On Monday morning, we arrived at the studio and she was the only dancer there. The owner explained that they have a lot of sleepyheads and that people roll in late on Mondays. When another student arrived, I left as I didn’t want to hover around and act like a helicopter parent. That day, I kept looking at the clock and wondering what they would be doing at that particular time. Sometimes I would think to myself, “It’s noon. She only has another two and a half hours if she really hates it.”

At 2:30 I drove up to the dance studio to pick her up.

The verdict?

She loved it!

Now, she wants to enroll for the rest of the week.


The Perfect Summer

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This has been the perfect summer – the summer of 2013.

Why?

The answer is two-fold. On a personal level, I decided to live life pretty much to the fullest and I stopped obsessing about how much money things cost.

Secondly, I had arranged a balanced schedule of trips, summer camps and activities. I didn’t overbook or underbook my children’s summer activities. I signed them up for camps, but on alternating weeks. For example, when Thing 2 had a week of day camp, Thing 1 was at home with me and vice versa. There were only two weeks when they both were at camp. The first – when they were at spend the night camp was great for me as I organized my pantry, caught up on photo books since 2008 and had a few dates with my husband in Decatur. It was a great week.

The second camp they did together was a day camp from 9-4 and that week was much rougher for me.  We had just had a week long trip visiting family and I felt alone in Atlanta. Without my children at home, I started questioning everything: why we live in Atlanta, my mission in life, etc.

Besides that one week, everything else about the summer went so well.  We had three major vacations – the first right after school let out. That was our trip to Washington DC and Virginia. It was an ideal time to visit (the week of Memorial Day) for three reasons: the weather was mild, schools in the northeast had not gotten out for summer so the crowds weren’t awful, and we were still on the school schedule of “pounding the pavement” so it was easy to get up early and hit lots of museums and sites early in the morning.

Our next trip was to see family and it was a whirlwind of activity since I hadn’t been to my hometown in over a year.

It was so refreshing to step back into my old life and pick right back up with friends and family I hadn’t seen in a while. We then went on to Texas to celebrate my in-laws’ 50th anniversary. The last trip was two weeks afterwards to go to Gulf Shores beach. At first, I felt we were doing too many trips, but I see now how I needed each of these. The beach at the end of July was a great time for us as we were into the summer mode of relaxing. We got to see some family while we were there.

The last two weeks before school starts has been doing nothing. We’ve done the usual buying school supplies, getting haircuts, back to school clothes, but nothing scheduled. I’ve started looking online for part-term work opportunities, but basically, we haven’t had much of a schedule. This Friday is “Meet the Teachers Day” so we’ll be back in full swing very soon.

I’ve loved this summer and everything about it. I usually can’t say that about other summers. Usually, June starts off with a bang then July creeps in and August almost stands still until school begins. Thankfully, I haven’t felt much of that this summer. In one respect, I’m ready for the routine of fall, but in another respect I don’t want the fun to end. That’s the best time for summer to end, while you’re enjoying it, so you’ll look forward to next summer.