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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Back to Walking Away the Pounds

Week two on Weight Watchers. It's getting a bit better. What I have come to realize with great annoyance is that my body just refuses to let go of any weight unless I exercise. I am SO not an activity type of gal and so the fact that I have to not only eat less but to have to exercise on top of it, well, let's just say that it ticks me off.

So I pulled out the Walk Away the Pounds DVD and for the last few days I have been doing the three mile, high calorie burn walk. I will begrudgingly admit that I do feel good. I still wish that I had the treadmill back or could afford to go to the gym but that's not going to happen.

Actually, yesterday I bought a Dancing With the Stars toning workout DVD. It has 3 fifteen minute routines. I watched it yesterday and well, let's just say that I may very well hurt myself doing even the most "basic" of steps. I was a dancer back in the day but I guess I just don't even think that I could attempt some of these steps now.

Oh, well...I guess I'll just keep walking off those stupid pounds! Dang it!

*Today's Examiner.com article is on Groundhog Day activities at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Waiting for the snow

Okay, it's going to snow here tonight. For most people this is not a big deal but when it snows in the South, it is WILD. There has been a massive storm predicted to hit here in North Carolina overnight tonight and it is all that you can hear about on the news. Having grown up on Long Island, snow doesn't bother me. I love the snow. I do NOT like being snowed in endlessly.

Back in 2000, five days after Michael was born, we got 2 feet of snow. It was NOT predicted. So there I was with a premie baby, snowed in for a week, going out of my mind. Seriously, it took a WEEK to clear the roads. It's gotten better since then but still, that memory lingers.

This storm has the potential to be worse because ice is predicted with it. Several years ago we had a bad ice storm that took down power lines, phone lines, etc. and so when the weather warmed up, crews went out and cut back every tree that came near a line of any kind! Sure it was practical but it made everything look weird and ugly. Then we hadn't had an ice storm since. Go figure.

So here I sit on Friday night watching the news and waiting for the snow to start. A dear friend of mine who lives in the mountains (about 4 1/2 hours from here) just told me that the snow has started by her already and that it's coming down pretty heavy. They're predicting up to a foot of snow here by me. I'm not sure if I'd laugh or cry if we actually do get it. It might be nice to have some snow. I know Michael would love it. I shopped as if the end of the world was coming. I have plenty of food in the house to keep us all well nourished. I've got flashlights and batteries and we'll charge up our cell phones tonight.

I cannot even imagine what it's like if you live someplace where they get REAL snow - like in Montana or something. They'd probably be laughing their butts off at us!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chick Flick Friday! - "Sabrina"


I will admit that I never saw the original but I am a big Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear fan and so in my opinion, this version is just fine. "Sabrina" is the story of a wealthy family with two brothers - one is a workaholic and the other is a playboy. They live in a huge house on Long Island and the chauffeur's daughter (Sabrina - played by Julia Ormond) has a long standing crush on the playboy brother. When she goes away to Paris for a summer to try to get over him, she gets herself a make-over and upon her arrival home she knocks the playboy off of his feet. The only problem? He is now engaged to someone who the workaholic brother is trying to do business with - well, he's trying to do business with her family and so a broken engagement would wreck the deal.


Harrison Ford plays the workaholic, social misfit Linus Larrabee and he makes it his goal to foil any romance between his brother and Sabrina and soon finds himself falling in love.


It's a very light, enjoyable movie. It's not one of my favorites but when I'm in the mood for something fun to watch that is a non-thinker, this one will do. Enjoy!

*Today's Examiner.com article in on Astronomy Days at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cruisin'

I have to tell you, I am dizzy with trying to keep up with Nick lately. I don't know if he's coming or going most days as it is but he's added a new little "quirk" to our lives - Things he wants to do before he dies (now that he's 18). I kid you not. You know, most of us don't make a "Bucket List" until our 30's so I'm a tad-bit freaked out that he's got this going on right now.

First thing that he threw at us was that he wanted a tattoo. Not a big deal - I have one and Frank has one. The next thing that he threw our way was that he wanted to get some sort of weird piercing in his ear. Not like an earring, mind you, but one of those things that's about the size of a dime and is like pounded in to your ear and stretches it. I got VERY vocal on that one even before I let Frank know about it and then Nick's girlfriend chimed in and so I think we dodged that bullet.

Now he wants to go on a cruise. Okay, that's pretty tame but why? It's just something that he wants to do in the Fall with his girlfriend. Okay, they'll both be out of high school and over 18, there's not much I can say about it, right? So we're out driving yesterday (yes, he's STILL not driving solo) and he's like, "Hey, you should come on this cruise with us!"

???

I'm sorry, but all that went through my mind at that moment was that I would have rather DIED than have my mother come on a romantic getaway with me when I was 18. Then 18-year old me shut up and the 41 year old mother joined the conversation. I was really curious as to WHY he would ask me this and after HOURS of roundabout discussion it turns out that his girlfriend's parents would not really be agreeable to the two of them going alone. I was very pleased with that.

So we then broke in to a family discussion because by now we're home from driving and Frank is home from work and we talk about the possibility of ALL of us going on this cruise. Now, I have to be honest here, the thought of going on a cruise does NOTHING for me. It's not on my bucket list, I can tell you that! Would it be nice? Sure. Would we have fun? Absolutely. The conversation kind of broke down because Frank would rather not go as chaperon's and just take our own cruise, just the two of us. Awwww... Then, later on in the night my sister called (who is a seasoned cruiser) and I was telling her about it. Nick is looking at a Carnival Cruise because he's paying for it himself and it would leave from South Carolina like mid-September. I tell her how they need a chaperon and she's like "I'll do it but tell Nick that I won't do a Carnival Cruise - they are like the Kmart of cruises."

And she's serious.

I say let him chose the cruise line that he wants, in the price range that he wants. Chances are by next month he may change his mind about the damn cruise anyway. Still...she ran the idea by me of BOTH of us going as chaperon's and THEN she would do a Carnival Cruise.

Tempting...

*Today's Examiner.com article is on February's programs at the NC Museum of History. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Celebrity Look A Like

One of my ridiculous guilty pleasures is a show on the TV Guide channel called Look-a-Like.  They take ordinary people who resemble celebrities and give them a complete make over and photo session.  

This is my dream!!  I would so LOVE a make over but unfortunately I do not resemble any celebrity.  Well, that's not true...back in the 80's there was a movie called "Say Anything".  There was girl in it who had a really minor part that I looked like.  And then there was a girl in the crowd scene from Bon Jovi's "I'll be There for You" video that I looked like.  That's the closest that I'm going to come to looking like the famous.  And that's pretty darn far!

I had hoped that if I had lost enough weight that I would go to one of those Glamor Shots places and treat myself but being how poorly the Weight Watchers meeting went, that is so NEVER going to happen!!

Do you look like a celebrity?


*Today's Examiner.com article is on Mad Science Workshops.  You can read about it HERE.  Thanks!*

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weight Watchers Rant

Okay, so last night I went for my first weigh-in at Weight Watchers.  One of the things that I usually love about starting a new diet - especially Weight Watchers - is that BIG number on the first week.  I mean, you are changing the way you eat, making healthier choices, blah, blah, blah.  So how did I do on the big first week?

A half a pound.

A half-a-freakin-stupid-pound.

Can I just tell you how much self control it took to not stomp out of the building as soon as I got off of the scale? I was PISSED.  Royally.  I did SO good this week.  I logged everything that I ate, I even at fruit (which I despise!), I stayed in my point range and then, even after going out for dinner with the girls Friday night, I didn't even use up my EXTRA points that you are allotted!  I gave up my coca-cola, I drank water like I had been wandering in the Sahara for a month!  I bought baked chips.  I skipped on the pizza.  I weighed my damn food.  And for what?

A half of a pound.

So now, as if that's not bad enough, I'll give you a little TMI - I can't even poo properly since going on this diet!  I eat more veggies than a person should have to, I eat the fruit, I'm drinking the water, and yet I can't poo!    What is up with that???

Pissed.  Beyond pissed.  So pissed that I want to hunt down every skinny person and slap them and force them to eat cake!  Life is so not fair.  At this rate I'll reach my goal weight when I'm 94.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Are you poor?

Okay, so this topic has come up quite a bit in my life lately and so I felt the need to make a post out of it.  

Are you poor?

Yes, poor.  I am shocked, appalled and annoyed at some people's claims of being poor.  Do you know what poor is?  Poor is not having money to buy food - not because you've spent it on a fabulous new wardrobe, but because there is no money coming in.  Poor is being fearful of your heat, electricity or water being turned off - again, not because you took an amazing vacation, but because there is no income coming in to your home.  Poor is being sick and not being able to go to the doctor - not because you are too lazy to drive there, but because you cannot PAY the bill!

Someone made a comment to us today about "Oh, so and so probably can't afford to do that because business is so bad for them right now."  And I'm like "Really?" because this same family just flew across the country for a five day vacation where they ate out every day and went to a major theme park one of the days which, even for one day, is a couple of hundred dollars!  

Sometimes I consider myself poor because money is so tight but then I look around my house - I have heat, I have water, I have electricity.  We have cell phones, cable TV (and not the deluxe but basic), we have 3 TV's, a desktop computer, a laptop computer...I mean, by the standards of poor, we are not.  

So for those of you who are spoiled and want to just complain because you spend foolishly or can't have what you want RIGHTNOW...shut it!  Try serving at a food kitchen or a homeless shelter.  Then you can complain.  

And just to clarify...I'm not saying that people are not struggling financially.  We all are.  But just be mindful when you are complaining about your finances to people - think of where you are, what you're wearing and what you have.  Remember to be thankful for all that you do have because there are millions of people who have far less than you.  

I'll step down from my soap box now.  

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where is the logic?

So I'm on the phone with my sister the other night and laughing my butt off.  When there are no distractions, she and I have the BEST conversations and I find myself being utterly ridiculous and acting like a loon.  It's great!

So we're talking and she's telling me how her son is on a cruise right now with his girlfriend - it's a Royal Caribbean cruise or Carnival, one of them - and how they stopped in Haiti.  I'm like "Stupid, inconsiderate Americans!" thinking that I'm being funny and she's like "That's exactly what the newspaper said!"  

Seriously, I'm not following all of the specifics about the relief effort in Haiti - what happened there is horrible. What I cannot believe is that a cruise ship would STOP there while there is so much devastation going on!  It's like "Oh, sorry that you are all homeless and hungry but attention cruise passengers!  The all-you-can-eat lobster buffet is being served on the Leto deck!"  I was horrified at that.

Okay, here's a thought:  If they can get a CRUISE SHIP in there for funsy sake, why not load up one of those bad-boys with relief supplies?  Quit doing the bunny-hop around the pool and doing the limbo and help these people.  

Personally, I just found it to be extremely inconsiderate.

*Today's Examiner.com article is the final part of our 50 states field trip series.  You can read it HERE.  Thanks!*

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How to handle stress

I was searching through some files the other day and found this one. Thought it was good for a mindless laugh.

How to Handle Stress:
1. Jam tiny marshmallows up your nose and try to sneeze them out.
2. Use your Mastercard to pay your Visa bill.
3. Pop some popcorn without putting the lid on.
4. When someone says "Have a nice day!" tell them you have other plans.
5.
During your next meeting, sneeze and then loudly suck the phlegm back down your throat.
6. Find out what a frog in a blender really looks like.
7. Make a list of things you've already done.
8. Dance naked in front of the pets.
9. Put your toddler's clothes on backwards and send him off to preschool as if nothing was wrong.
10. Thumb through National Geographic and draw underwear on the natives.
11. Go shopping. Buy everything. Sweat in them. Return them the next day.
12. Drive to work in reverse.
13. Read the dictionary backwards for subliminal messages.
14. Start a nasty rumor and see if you recognize it when it gets back to you.
15. Bill your doctor for the time you spent in his waiting room.
16. Get a box of condoms. Wait in line at the check-out counter and ask the cashier where the fitting rooms are.

Snarky, I know. But good for a laugh.



*Today's Examiner.com article is on part 4 of the 50 states field trip.  You can read it HERE.  Thanks!*

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chick-Flick Friday! - "The Sex and the City" Movie



You know, I so did not get in to this show until it went in to syndication because I did not have HBO but once I caught on, I was hooked. As someone who is from New York, I totally got a lot of the humor that some might not get if they've never lived there.

I didn't quite agree with the things the ladies did but I did find it entertaining. So when the movie came out, I was a little skeptical because really, nothing good ever happens when you turn a TV show in to a movie. Well, this movie was the exception. I was so totally surprised by this one and I really enjoyed it! If you are a fan of "Sex and the City", then you have to see this. If you never watched the show, the movie won't make much sense to you and don't waste your time.

The movie picks up where the show left off so you get to see how everyone's life panned out rather than the 'super happy ending' that you got on the show. With all of the original actors, this was the real-deal. I hear that they're making a sequel. I'm not sure I want to see it because I feel like they're pushing it at this point. Quit while you're ahead, people!



*Today's Examiner.com article is part 3 in the series of 50 states field trips.  You can read about it HERE.  Thanks!*

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The last birthday horrah!

So Sunday was Frank and Michael's birthday's and I thought then that we were done. No more cake. No more presents. But no, I forgot one last little hooplah that had to be had.

I have to bring cupcakes to school.

You are no longer allowed to actually BAKE these things yourself, you have to go to a bakery and PAY for them. So my .88 cent box of cake mix and $1.26 can of frosting are a thing of the past and now I have to pay $30 for cupcakes! Did the schools make a deal with the supermarkets? I think that this is borderline highway robbery.

I was talking to my sister last night and she's up in New York and she said that you're not even allowed to bring baked goods in for birthday's anymore by her because the school's only want HEALTHY snacks!! Great, just what every kid wants, a fruit parfait for his birthday party! Imagine how much that would cost for a class of 25! Especially being store bought?

I think it's crazy. I mean, how do we know that the bakers in the bakery didn't do something funky to the dough? Do we know that everyone washed their hands? That a mouse didn't walk on them? NO! Just my thought. Just my icky, icky, I'm-so-not-going-to-eat-the-cupcake thought.

*Today's Examiner.com article is part 2 of the 50 states field trips. You can read it HERE. Thanks!*

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weight Watchers!!

Okay, I caved. I gave in - or gave up, depends on how you look at it - and joined Weight Watchers. Since becoming unemployed, I've spent a LOT of time sitting in front of the computer writing. That is a good thing for my inner-writer, not so good for my big, fat butt!

I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and so a friend and I are buddying up and going. I'm a little nervous and even though I knew I had gained weight, at that last doctor's appointment, they almost needed the cardiac cart after I got off of the scale because I was so in shock at the number. Not a good feeling.

You know what the funny thing is, I went to TWO different doctors for two different things. I got weighed at both appointments and while I was HORRIFIED by what I saw, only one doctor was like "Lose 25 pounds and you'll feel better". I mean, clearly, I am overweight. My friend Michelle and I used to joke that we have the opposite of anorexia - we look in the mirror and think that we're thin! I no longer feel that way. I look in the mirror and I want to cry. I don't know how I let this happen but I cannot let it continue. But I digress, shouldn't these doctors be a little bit more concerned about my weight? I mean, I'm not like 20 pounds overweight, I'm more like 40 pounds overweight. And you know what? I just don't feel sassy anymore! I liked feeling sassy. I looked good being sassy.

No sass for Stace right now. Not yet. By Nick's graduation, I'm going to command a catwalk be set up so I can strut up on to that stage. Oh, wait, that's HIS day, not mine. But still, where else can I find an event where I can pull a catwalk off?

*Today's Examiner.com article is on 50 field trips in 50 states. It is part one of a 5 part series. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Graduation planning awkwardness...

Nick is graduating in June.

Oh...

My...

God...

He is homeschooled and I am heading up the graduation committee. We have 24 graduates this year. It's scary and intimidating and wild. My mom made up these amazing "Save the Date" announcements for the event and we are have a joint party for Nick and his girlfriend. I think it's going to be very sweet. But like most things in life, there are some awkward issues that have to be addressed.

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know that there are some family issues. I was on the phone with my mother-in-law this weekend and we were talking about the party and she asked if I was going to invite my dad. Truth be known? If we were just in a normal fight, I probably would. It would be the perfect way to end the nonsense. But our situation is far from normal and as much as I would like to have him there, I cannot take the risk of his crazy wife doing something like she did at dad's birthday party and ruining my child's graduation and embarrassing him in front of his girlfriend's family. Not gonna happen. If there were a way to include him and exclude her, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Then there's my sister-in-law: aka - the one I do not like. She lives on the other side of the country and chances are that she won't be able to come but do I extend the invitation or not? It I send her a "save the date" thing, she just might book a flight and come, so the snarky side of me is like "Just don't send her one!" Frank is conflicted too because after the whole cruise mess, he had had enough of her and they really haven't spoken much since then. She's never apologized and he is the kind of person who, if he had his own way, would be living someplace far, far away from all civilization (except me) and not deal with anyone. This whole graduation party thing is making him antsy and so I'm keeping him out of the loop as much as possible.

So there you have it. To awkward situations - one from each side of the family. Thank God they're not both from mine! Unusual. I have five months to get this all worked out and I'm probably going to stress out about it way more than I need to.

Dang it!

*Today's Examiner.com article is on frugal homeschooling and some websites with free curriculum/worksheet downloads. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Monday, January 18, 2010

Can someone let me in on the plans?

You know, my teenager has a habit of making plans IN HIS HEAD and then acts surprised when I have no idea what he is talking about. He does this a lot. He'll think that he told me that he was going some place or that someone was coming over but the reality is that he hasn't. It's kind of frustrating.

Well, now it seems that my ten-year old has caught on to this craze. Seriously. Tonight he comes to me and is like "Um ...when you come to school for my birthday party on Friday..." and I'm like "I'm not coming to school on Friday. Was I supposed to?" You see, in his mind he just FIGURED that I was coming and now I feel like crap because I cannot go. So now, I will have to go ANOTHER day and do all of the birthday hooplah with him.

I am a very accessible person. Seriously, I'm home all the daggone time and if I'm not home, I have my cell phone. There is no reason why these children of mine cannot run an idea or thought by me! Instead, they continue with their plotting and planning and making me feel as if I am losing my mind!!!

Do they teach a class on this in elementary school that I am not aware of?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

He's in the Double-Digits Now!

My little bean was born three weeks early after a HEINOUS pregnancy that was came to be truly through the grace of God (and spiritual healing after 7 years of infertility!). He was born on Frank's birthday. Michael was such a different child than Nick and add that to the fact that there are 8 years between the two and it was like being a parent for the first time all over again!

Michael is my snuggler. Every morning when he gets up for school, he climbs in to bed with me for 15 minutes of "snuggle time" while we watch the morning news. He picks flowers for me. He still likes to hold my hand. He has this mop of curly hair that after 10 years, I still can't figure out what to do with!

Mic
hael was born here in NC and so most of our family has only seen him a handful of times. But that doesn't phase him. While not as outgoing as Nick, Michael still loves to be with everyone and if you've got the patience, he can tell you all kinds of things that he's learned on the History Channel or the Discovery Channel. On our last visit with my grandmother, Michael told her about his coin collection and she gave him a container FILLED with pennies. You would have thought that he'd won the lottery.

He's athletically gifted although we haven't found any one sport that he is particularly interested in yet so we're waiting before signing him up for anything. He is my blue-eyed boy. My tiny bean. He is my miracle from God - literally. I prayed so long for him and I can't imagine our lives without him. As I sit here typing this, he is sitting in his room with his best friend playing the Xbox and just laughing his head off. He has the greatest laugh! When he was three, I once asked him why he was so cute. His response? Because God made me that way.

He certainly did. Happy Tenth Birthday, my little boy!

Oh, and just so that he's not left out...I didn't think he'd want to be acknowledged in the title with his age, but look who's 46! Two of my three favorite guys in the whole wide world and they share a birthday. How cool is that? I am a very blessed woman. I have had the privilege of having this wonderful man love me for more than twenty years!! Not many people can say that! Life is a roller coaster (have you seen the movie "Parenthood"?) and there is no one else in the world that I would rather ride it with than Frank. I love you, baby! You are my world and I thank God every day for you and for the unconditional love that you have given me. You are my greatest gift. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Zappa Plays Zappa

So I'm sure you've all been sitting on the edge of your seats wondering how I made out Wednesday night at the Zappa Plays Zappa concert. I'm happy to report that I not only survived it but kind of had a good time.

We went out for some Chinese food first and then drove in to Raleigh, got a great parking spot and got on the line to wait for the doors to open. At that point, I was the YOUNGEST person on the line. And if I do say so myself, the hottest. I was looking pretty darn good that night. Why I put in the effort, I'm not sure. But dressing pretty made me feel better about going out.

Anyway, the place was tiny - Like an old movie theater but with no seats. There was a U-shaped balcony with some stools and that's where we went because there was no way I was going to stand the whole time. So we're sitting there with one hour to go until show time and I'm surrounded by drunk 60 year old men! It was so freakin bizarre! As the time got closer I started seeing kids walking around with their parents - I thought that was a little strange, too.

The show starts and I have to admit, they were AMAZING!! I was shocked. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was so NOT my kind of music but the band was honestly and truly amazing. And can I just say...Dweezil Zappa is just still so darn adorable! I mean, he was a hottie in the 80's and he's still a hottie now. It made the show a lot more tolerable to have some eye candy.

They played for 2 solid hours and really the last 45 minutes kind of rough for me. I had a good time, I enjoyed myself, but at that point it was just time to go. It was an early night - we were home by 11:15 but I still felt like we had a fun night out. I was a good wife, I gave my husband a great birthday present that he truly loved and I got a night out.

Life is good.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chick Flick Friday! - "While You Were Sleeping"



I am a huge Sandra Bullock fan and this movie was really done in her 'America's Sweetheart' phase. If you remember, she had a string of romantic-type comedies and this was a great one.

Bullock stars as Lucy - a fairly happy, everybody's pal, subway token booth employee who fancies herself in love with a handsome stranger that she sees every day but has never spoken to. When she saves his life after he is mugged on the subway platform and he falls in to a coma, she is somehow drawn in to his family who believe her to be his fiancee!

Having no family of her own, she allows herself to be drawn in but finds herself attracted to her "fiancee's" brother played by Bill Pullman. This results in all kinds of awkward moments and by the end of the movie she has to choose between the two and admit that she never was engaged to brother number one! It really is a sweet movie (sometimes a little too sweet) but a great light movie for a night in.

*Today's Examiner.com articles is on homeschool websites that offer freebies. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I might as well weigh in too...


If you are a human being with a TV you've probably heard about what is going on at NBC with Jay Leno's show and the Tonight Show. Now, I don't watch either one. Why? Okay, here's my take on the whole thing:

First: I thought it was kind of stupid to end Jay Leno's run on the Tonight Show by giving him a show EXACTLY like the Tonight Show but earlier in the night.

Second: There is no show in creation that needs to be seen five nights a week. Sorry, that's just my opinion. Even shows in re-runs I have a hard time wanting to watch five times a week.

Third: I don't stay up late enough to watch the late night shows like the Tonight Show or Letterman - although on the rare occasion when I do, they are funny to me.

Okay, so that was why I didn't watch them. But this whole thing with canceling the Jay Leno show and giving him his old time slot back and pushing the Tonight Show and Conan back because of it is just WRONG. I'm certainly no TV executive but even I can see that this is just wrong on way too many levels. The main ones? Jay has had his time in the sun. If his earlier show didn't cut it, then cut him too. There are many shows that don't cut it and don't get the opportunity to try it out at different time slots. Then there's the fact that by moving him the network is essentially screwing the Tonight Show - a show that has done wonders for a long time for their network. For those in the population that DO stay up to watch it, why should they be punished by having to wait an extra thirty minutes to see it? Again, shouldn't Jay step aside at this point? Hasn't he made enough money?

I don't know or pretend to know what goes on in these people's heads. All I know is that from a TV viewers stand-point, this is bad business. They never gave poor Conan a chance to make the Tonight Show work because really, all they did was move it up to 10 pm and call it the Jay Leno Show. Most people probably didn't feel the need to stay up and watch the Tonight Show at 11:35 because they already saw it earlier. Personally, I like Conan O'Brien. I always enjoyed watching him and if he leaves NBC (which I hope he does and that Jay Leno TANKS!) I'll watch him when I can stay awake!

Shame on you, NBC. Shame on you...

*Today's Examiner.com article is on the Homeschool Gathering Place here in Raleigh, North Carolina. To read about it, click HERE. Thanks!*

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Give & Take of Marriage

Frank and I have been together for 20 years now. He is five years older than I am. We have completely different tastes in music, movies and television shows. We have found that fine balance in life where we each get to enjoy what we like without isolating the other.

Until tonight.

If I were honest, I'd say that Frank is WAY more giving than I am. Not in all things, mind you, but in a lot of things. The TV in the living room is his domain and we do not watch ANYTHING unless he wants to. Luckily there is a TV in our bedroom that I go to when I just cannot stand another documentary or classic movie on TMC. I don't make him watch Entertainment Tonight. I've learned to enjoy Jeopardy.

Riding in the car is the hardest. We've taken very long trips in virtual silence for long periods of time because we cannot agree on a radio station or a CD. I am an 80's rock kind of gal and he is a 70's rock kind of guy. BIG difference. To him, all of the big hair bands of the 80's are awful, untalented, heinous and annoying. In other words, they suck. While to me the 70's music that he listens to like Led Zepplin, Rush, Genesis (with Peter Gabriel) are just too damn annoying for words. I hate them all.

But being that he is a giving person, he has taken me to see quite a few concerts of 80's bands (Like the Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick show this summer) while I have cheerfully bought tickets for him for shows and sent him off with a friend or two to enjoy.

Until tonight.

Tonight, my friends, I am going to have to sit and endure something that I never, ever, EVER wanted to experience. I am going to a show with Frank tonight as part of his birthday present (my present to him for HIS birthday) to see...man, I don't even want to type it...Zappa Plays Zappa. Yes, for those of you who can remember the 70's, I'm talking about the music of Frank Zappa. And yes, if you are thinking "Hey, isn't Frank Zappa dead?" you would be correct. That's right...this isn't even the actual artist coming and performing, it is his SON, Dweezil, who is putting on this show.

There are NO WORDS at this point to describe my dread. And to add to the joy of it all, I have cramps and a sinus infection. I should be a barrel of laughs tonight shouldn't I?

My poor husband. My poor, poor, husband.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We're almost back to normal here...

But what is normal, anyway? Life picks up a crazy pace starting with Thanksgiving and goes through until mid-January. We've got my birthday in December, then Christmas and then all three males in my life have January birthdays. We've just gotten through Nick's and next we have Frank's and Michael's - on the SAME day this weekend. I will be greatly relieved when there is no more cake in my house.

It's been freakishly cold here in NC too and I'm just about done with that. In the morning when we take Michael to school it's been around 19 degrees. So not fun for doing the carpool thing. We're supposed to get in to the low 50's for daytime high's later in the week. It will feel downright balmy.

You know, I love the holidays, everything's festive looking and you make an effort to get together with friends and whatnot, but I'm kind of looking forward to a little alone time. This week is going to be crazy for me. I have something to do and someplace to be every day. I know that this is the norm when you are employed and all but for me, with the way life has been these last six months, it feels wild and intimidating and exhausting. Man, when did I turn in to such a wuss?

Nick is working, Frank is working, I'm still hitting the big penny-a-page thing at Examiner. I really need to find more writing jobs that actually PAY more than that. I submitted one of my manuscripts to an agent last week and now I sit and play the waiting game. Some day, some day I will get an acceptance letter from a REPUTABLE agency that seriously wants to do something with my book. I've gotten accepted twice but both turned out to be less than reputable. Live and learn.

For now I'll have to settle for living the dream of piles of laundry waiting to be washed, dried and folded and washing dishes by hand...somehow it just doesn't seem to cut it.

*Today's Examiner.com article is on the Chapel Hill Homeschoolers resource fair. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Monday, January 11, 2010

Don't make me throw food at you too!

So Saturday was Nick's big birthday party. Will the celebrating never end?? Friends started showing up around one in the afternoon. He requested an Italian feast for dinner. I was up at 8:30 making meatballs, sausage, sauce, baking a cake, baking brownies and then later in the day I tackled a massive amount of lasagna. Can I just stop and say how much I, personally, do not enjoy making this stuff? Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, but Italian food gives me bad heartburn and so it takes the fun out of cooking it and I certainly don't want to eat it.

Anyway, people start showing up, they're playing Rock Band, there's tons of noise and chaos going on and so Frank and I went out for like 2 hours (this was while we were still trying to find my laptop). We get back, Frank had to go in to Raleigh to pick up some drum supplies and I had to get on the move with the lasagna. While I'm cooking, one of the girls comes in to talk to me. A lot. I mean, non-stop chatter. Normally I don't mind this but I'm a little particular about what goes on while I'm cooking - I don't like people hovering and this girl was like a foot away from my face the entire time. I didn't say anything because I did not want to be rude but when she mentioned that she was waiting for the guys to finish jamming so they could go outside, I marched in to the other room and put an end to the jam session.

So they leave for a little while, I was considering drinking something stronger than Coca Cola and finished up the second tray of food. In they come again, noise level goes up. I made this beautiful tray of dark chocolate brownies with milk chocolate icing. They were beautiful. One of the guys comes over and repeatedly touches one of them - like poking it. I asked him to stop several times. I don't like people touching the food unless they are going to eat it. Now, I know this kid quite well and so I finally got up and smacked him with a spoon. His girlfriend (or fiance, who knows) comes over and starts yelling "Stop hitting my fiance!" They are 19 and 21, give me a break. So SHE starts poking a second brownie. Now I'm mad. Now I'm like "I should not have to deal with this crap" and got up, grabbed the two brownies and threw them down on the table in front of them both and said "HERE! These are yours now! Don't touch the damn food unless you are going to eat it. Since you had to touch these, they're yours. Enjoy!" and I turned around and got on the computer.

Was I rude? Yes. Was I provoked? Absolutely. Will this birthday party be remembered as the one where Nick's mom went a little crazy and threw brownies? I am sure of it!

What a way to remember your birthday!

*Today's Examiner.com is on the Raleigh Museum of History. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bait & Switch at Wal-Mart!

Okay, so you all know that I am ready to buy my laptop. Yes, we decided that even though I had gotten the used one, it just couldn't do what I wanted it to do so I'm getting a new one.

I searched and researched and asked questions of everyone that I know and I found one in my price-range that I really liked and did EVERYTHING that I wanted it to do. It's at Wal-Mart.

Actually, it's not.

Ever.

Never-ever-never...

Seriously, I have been going there for weeks, searching the web-site to see which stores have it in stock and even when the website says that it does, it doesn't. What happens when I go to the store? "Oh, sorry, but why don't you get THIS one" - and it's normally one that is $100 or more expensive! I mean, if you are NOT going to sell this item anymore, then for the love of it, take the display down! Otherwise you are falsely advertising for a product in hopes of people coming in for that one - at a great price - and then convince them to buy a more expensive one.

THIS IS A SCAM!!!! A BIG FAT INCREDIBLY HORRIBLE SCAM!!!

After a 90 minute trip today, I hit my breaking point. I kind of went off on the salesgirl and then came home and wrote a nasty e-mail to both stores that I have been dealing with. I am so NOT amused with this.

Wal-mart SUCKS!!

Update- After dinner tonight I took a chance and went on to Best Buy's website and guess what? They had the same brand computer that I wanted from Wal-Mart, with all of the same options, more memory, different model number for THE SAME PRICE!!! And as if that wasn't enough, the site said that my local store had it in stock and that I could order it on-line and pick it up in the store! Within 45 minutes! So guess what I am typing on right now?

MY NEW LAPTOP!!!

It's so pretty!!! I'm a little in love right now. Frank is fearful that it will be sleeping in his place tonight.

We'll see...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wow, This Letting Go Thing is Harder Than I Thought...

I had something interesting happen to me yesterday. It was a life altering moment that I'm not soon to forget.

Nick has not been feeling well lately - nothing major but he says that when he exerts himself he has trouble breathing and he thought he had asthma. I wasn't really buying that but made the doctor appointment.

And then realized that I couldn't take him.

I was on the verge of canceling the appointment when it hit me - he's 18. He can, legally, take HIMSELF to the doctor and not have me there holding his hand. So we got up that morning and I drove him to the doctor (aka - Pediatrician). I'm sure we're going to have to change that REAL soon. I walked him in, checked him in, gave him his insurance card and ...left. We had the threat of snow here so the public schools were operating on a two hour delay so I left there and drove Michael to school and went on to my appointment. And the whole time I'm driving, I'm like "Oh, my God...what if there's something seriously wrong with him? Will the call me right away?" And then my mind played through all of the things that COULD be wrong with him. Being that I had open heart surgery at age 4, maybe he has a heart condition. Maybe he's anemic like I am. Maybe he has lung cancer because Frank smokes. Maybe he's got Leukemia because my nephew had that!

On and on and on my mind swirled until an hour later I could take no more. I called him. He's like "Geez, mom, I'm barely out the door. I knew I had to call you." Yeah, yeah, yeah, fine, whatever, what did the doctor say? He's not dying, he doesn't need a heart transplant or a lung transplant, there's no cancer. He has an upper-respiratory thing going on that they gave him an inhaler for.

HUGE sigh of relief.

I know he's 18 and I know that this is the natural progression of life where your mom STOPS going to the doctor with you but it just felt so strange! I don't like knowing that I'm old enough to have a child who can take himself to the doctor. I mean, I still had to DRIVE him there (and that's a blog post for another day) but really, he's old enough to be doing these things for himself and I'm having a hard time with it.

He'll always be my baby...

*Today's Examiner.com article is on another Civil War re-enactment at Bentonville. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chick Flick Friday! - "Romancing the Stone"

Okay, this one has it all - action, adventure, comedy and romance. It's a bit dated but still one of my favorites. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner were GREAT together in this one and I think that out of all of their pairings up, this one was their best. "Romancing the Stone" was done in 1984 and is the story about a romance writer who gets drawn in to a real-life drama when her sister gets kidnapped and she has to go to Columbia to rescue her.

Michael Douglas is a drifter/opportunist who swoops in to save her early on in the movie when she is nearly killed. At that time in his career,
Michael Douglas was perfect for this role - not too old, not too young - and totally believable in his swashbuckling role as hero. Kathleen Turner's character, Joan Wilder, is a bit quiet, naive and repressed and this adventure really brings her out of her shell. They have one adventure after another while traipsing around Columbia - narrowly escaping death at every turn.

My favorite part of this movie is when they are captured and surrounded at gunpoint by a drug lord and his "gang" and Michael Douglas' character (Jack Colton) turns to Joan and says "Okay, Joan Wilder, write us out of this one!" and suddenly this very menacing, angry drug lord is like "Joan Wilder? THE Joan Wilder?" and turns out that he is a HUGE fan of hers. It is hysterical!

This is a great movie for sitting with your hubby/boyfriend/significant other or with the girls. It's just a fun flick. Enjoy!

*Today's Examiner.com article is on the Civil War Battle at Fort Fisher anniversary. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Now I Just Have to Laugh...

As you know, Monday was Nick's birthday. My mom was the first to call and wish him a happy birthday, cards started rolling in with the mail, I made his favorite dish for dinner and baked a cake. Well, late that morning, I was on the phone with a friend when the call-waiting beeped.

Can I just say how much I loathe call waiting and wish I could get rid of it?

But I digress...so the call waiting beeps and it's a number I don't recognize and a name I don't recognize but I'm intrigued. I hang up with my friend and let the answering machine pick up. Yes, I'm a call screener. Anyway, the machine picks up and it's my dad. So being a normal person, I answer the phone. He's mid-sentence and I'm like "Wait a minute, he's playing his game let me get him for you." I was actually chipper because he remembered my son's birthday and I thought that maybe, just maybe he would talk to me.

Sigh...

He talked right OVER me. That's right, while I was talking, he just kept talking as if I never even picked up the phone - like I didn't exist, like I wasn't there. What kind of idiot are we dealing with here? So I have invented a new word (I think) that will be my word of 2010 - Jackassery. Yes, Jackassery. When someone does something so completely and unbelievably STUPID, it will be referred to as Jackassery.

And THAT is what that phone call was!

*Today's Examiner.com article is on North Carolina history. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

So far, 2010, I am NOT amused!

You know that glow of hopefulness you feel at midnight on New Year's Eve? The whole "Today is the first day of the rest of my life" feeling? Yeah, well, that feeling is GONE! Officially, as of right now, 2010 SUCKS!

That's right, I said it.

Why, you ask? Okay, let's see, it started with the HUGE fight we had to have with Nick at 1:15 a.m on New Years over the fact that we would not let him sleep at his girlfriend's house. Am I the only one seeing a problem with that? Then there was the fight with him two days later (which was really just a continuation of the New Year's fight) - which made me want to stab sharp objects in my own ears and twirl them around in my brain. Monday found us waking up to a flat tire on my car, the transmission going on Frank's car and although we do have a third car that the STILL unlicensed teen is not driving, THAT car needs a new starter!! Can you guess who is NOT going to get the new laptop that she has been bargain shopping for? Oh, and on top of that, our DVD player died, too!!

I'd say it can only get better but I'm not believing it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eye of the Tiger

Okay so Nick got Rock Band 2 for the Xbox 360 for Christmas. It's a fun game, it takes up a lot of space because it comes with a drum set, a guitar and a microphone. So we thought that this was going to be something fun for both him and Michael Thinking along those lines, when my sister asked what to get Michael for his birthday in a few weeks we said Lego Rock Band. Why? Because the boy LOVES Legos and we just KNEW he would love Rock Band.

After 30 seconds on the drums, he quit. He hated the game. He was NEVER going to play Rock Band again.

Crap!

So when Nick had some friends over for his birthday on Monday, Michael sat back and watched them all play Rock Band. He didn't realize that you could SING. The boy has never shown any interest in singing. But after watching Nick's friend Matt sing, he was like "I can do that!" I was only sort of not paying too much attention to what was going on until I heard this little voice singing "Eye of the Tiger"!

Can we just take a moment here and LAUGH??!!??

I mean, "Eye of the Tiger"? Really? Why is this song even ON Rock Band. Is there not enough music - ROCK music - in the world that they truly felt the need to fill the void with an 80's song from Rocky 3? It was a little bizarre for me but at the same time I was just thrilled that Michael was finally getting in to it. The Lego Rock Band game came in the mail and so I was a little stumped about what to do. Nick kept telling me that once Michael saw that it was Lego's, then he'd play it. I wasn't so sure. Michael is my stubborn one so once he says he's never doing something, he usually keeps with it.

Eighties rock proves once again to work wonders!

I Hate Reading a Good Book...

Okay, so I love to read. I am a girly-girl about that and love to read all things contemporary romance. It's what I write, too. I am a huge fan of Nora Roberts - it's a law if you read romance.

Anyway, I tend to always be behind in what's popular and "new" out there in the literary world. I stumble upon books that are wonderful but were written years ago. She (Nora) does a lot of series stories where there are about four books in the series. Now when you stumble upon these years after they are published, you can read them all at once and have a sense of satisfaction when you are done - particularly if it was a good series.


Well, I stumbled upon one of her series...but it's new. NEW! Who c
ould believe it! It's her bride quartet series and I read the first one, just grabbed the second one and guess what? The third one (and next in line, mind you) doesn't come out until MAY of 2010!!! What am I supposed to do until then? And as if that wasn't bad enough, she gives you a sample of book three at the end of book two! A prologue AND part of chapter one. I'm already hooked and I've got FIVE MONTHS to wait!!

Darn me for being up to date!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

He's 18!!!

He makes me crazy like nobody's business, but he's all mine and he's 18 today!! I can still remember the first day that we brought him home from the hospital. Frank worked a 3-11 shift and my sister had been with me all day. When she went home that night (sometime around 8:00), Nick was sleeping in his cradle that we kept in the corner of the living room. I remember walking in to that room and glancing at the cradle and having a complete panic attack. I was like "Oh, my God...I'm never going to be alone for the next 18 years!"

And now that that 18 years is here is seems to have gone by in a flash. Where did my little boy go? Where is the child who used to sing to me in the car go? I remember so much of those things that he did for the first time and remember the wonder that I felt because he was my first. I remember naming him Nicholas and being sure that that was the name he would always go by. Nick was just too manly and mature. Then he was Nicky and we have arrived at Nick. Why are all of those sweet moments gone to be replaced by arguments and angst?

But I'm not going to dwell on that today. Instead I am going to focus on the man that he has grown in to. It has not been an easy road. We've frustrated each other and honestly, he is the only person alive that can make me yell in a voice that only the neighborhood dogs can hear. But he also has the ability to make me smile and laugh when I do not want to. I love just hanging out - just the two of us - because we can have the greatest conversations and laugh until we cry. He has an amazing personality and when he smiles you can't help but smile with him. He is quite truly an amazing young man.

I often feel bad that he doesn't have the pleasure of being surro
unded by the type of family that I grew up with - I had AMAZING grandparents. But he takes it all in stride. He had a special bond with his great-grandmother and I know that she is looking down on him this day with pride. She loved him so much. I want him to know this day that he is loved - I know he doesn't believe it most of the time, but it is true. Everything that we do, every time we correct you, every time that we don't give you your own way, we are doing it for a reason - not just to be mean.

Happy 18th birthday, my son. I love you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Do You Keep Your Mouth Shut?

Back when I was newly pregnant with Nick, one of my dad's younger cousin's died. She was in her thirties, she had two young, beautiful children. No matter how many times I saw her, she always came up to me and said, "Hi! I'm your cousin Carol!" She was adorable! She died due to an eating disorder.

I'll be honest with you, I was young and didn't see her that much in my life but I never, NEVER knew that she had this problem. Her mother (my Nana's sister) was always a little vain - always had her hair, make-up and clothing perfect - and I guess this side of her came out in Carol's need to be perfect, to be thin. I'll never forget her because she was so vivacious, always smiling and beautiful.

I am struggling right now with some friends who have a child with an eating disorder. It's mild, but a disorder nonetheless. No one wants to talk about it - like it's a big secret. Is she getting help? Some. Is it working? Not completely. Have they been dealing with this long? Yes, years. There is one factor that seems to trigger their child more than anything, and it is a family member. This person makes this child feel fat, unacceptable and constantly critiques her. This ADULT does not live with them but does come to visit and when she does, things get bad.

So tell me, parents, would you ALLOW this person to torment your child? Would you sit back and graciously welcome them in to your home when you know that they are going to disrupt the fine balance that you've achieved and damage your child's already delicate psyche? Well, this child's parents are. They are allowing this person to come around and wreak havoc and personally, I am furious.

I was told to shut up, just accept it and just let it be; it's none of my business. A mutual friend told me this. So I snapped. I said "Well, when this girl is dead YOU can sit back and take comfort in your acceptance but I can't!" You know, maybe if someone took a stand, my cousin would still be alive today, seeing her children grown.

When do you speak up? When do you step in and risk the consequences? Isn't someone's life worth that? How can you say that you love someone and then watch them hurt themselves and be hurt by others? I'm stumped...I'm honestly and truly stumped.

Any suggestions?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

One more look back...and then forward again

I saw this over on Stacie's Madness and warned her that I would be borrowing (stealing) it! Thanks, Stacie!!

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before? Got serious about my writing and actually applied for writing jobs.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I stopped making resolutions, kind of. They tend to be the same anyway year after year.

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? At home. Again. Bored.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes...two amazing women. My grandmother, Ida, and my stepmother, Collette.

5. What countries did you visit? Countries? I didn't even make it to Disney this year!

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Financial security.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? There are DAYS that I remember but not the actual dates. Losing my grandmother was huge and devastating.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Hmmm...getting to be the number three Examiner in the U.S. and Canada for a day. It was pretty exciting!

9. What was your biggest failure? Being unemployed. Still.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No more than usual...sinus infection, strep, crankiness...

11. What was the best thing you bought? My iPod

12. Where did most of your money go? To pay bills to stay alive!

13. What song will always remind you of 2009? "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay. It was on the radio when I started my car right after finding out that the bookstore was closing. After that, it always reminds me of that moment.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of? Enjoyed time with my kids

15. What do you wish you'd done less of? Stress

16. What was your favourite TV program? The Big Bang Theory - it's my new addiction.

.17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? ABOSOLUTELY!! Dad's crazy, psychotic wife. This time last year she seemed harmless and sweet. I learned the hard way that it just wasn't so!

18. What was the best book you read? "Bed of Roses" by Nora Roberts

19. What was your greatest musical discovery? That 80's big hair bands still rock live!

20. What was your favorite film of this year? Oh, I had a few. In the children's category, it was "Up". For the grown-up variety I'd have to say...The Proposal.

21. What did you do on your birthday? I baked myself cupcakes and arranged them in the number 41 and went to dinner at the Outback.

22. What kept you sane? ... FRIENDS

23. Who did you miss? My grandma. I really miss our Sunday talks.

24. Who was the best new person you met? Actually, I didn't meet a whole lot of new people but I did meet a neat gal at church - her name is Jennifer - and we work together at MOPS. She's definitely cool.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009: You cannot make people change. You cannot wish them in to changing. There are going to be people in your life that disappoint you time and again and you cannot rely on them for your own happiness. You can only try and do what is right. Oh, and when someone tells you that they are involved with someone who is "crazy", remember that sometimes it's not in a good way.

*Today's Examiner.com article is on driver's education classes. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, my friends! I hope that everyone had a great night and ready for a new year. I pray for blessings on us all and that 2010 is WAY better than 2009. Some things I'm personally looking forward to (and hoping for):

- I hope to find an agent for my book
- I hope to get published in 2010 in book form
- I hope for work to be better this year for Frank
- I hope that my Examiner writing gets a little more popular and that I get more than 30 page views a day.
- I hope to never have to travel 700 miles to be blindsided by a crazy redhead at a birthday party! Ever!
- I hope that said redhead keeps her craziness to herself this year.
- I hope that my kids get through school while I am still sane.
- I hope to drop this extra weight that had crept up on me in 2009 and that it stays away. Forever.
- I hope to have less computer problems this year. (Fingers crossed!)
- I hope to get caught up on my scrapbooking.

Not a huge wish-list, but a wish-list all the same. May all of your wishes and dreams come true this year!

*Today's Examiner.com article wishes you a Happy New Year, too! You can read it HERE. Thanks!*