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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Case for Christianity

Back in February of 1996, I became a Christian. I was raised Catholic - not a practicing Catholic, but we went to church for weddings, funerals, and occasionally on Christmas or Easter. When we moved to NC, we had some friends invite us to church - a Baptist church. The experience was amazing and changed my life.

Here's the thing that some people don't get: Being a Christian does not equal being perfect. God works on each of us individually, he grows us in our faith individually. When I first was saved, I had a mentor who told me "Hold on to your hat" because basically, life was going to get harder. That's another misconception about Christianity, that now life is going to get easier because you have the Lord on your side. Not true.

Being a Christian in an un-religious family, has not been easy. Being married to a man who does not go to church is not easy. Raising two children - one who loves going to church and one who does not, is not easy. But I have to remember that I have to take responsibility for ME and who I am - I can be an example to others with my faith, but I cannot force people to change.

I still curse. I still get angry. I still offend others. And you know what? GOD KNOWS THAT! One of the first Christians I had ever met was a really nice woman. She lived a very conservative, faith-filled life. Years later, she left her husband because he was not wealthy enough to make her feel secure. She met another man at the gym or somewhere and started a relationship with him. He had money, he makes her feel secure. She left her husband. I had lost touch with her by the time this happened and only heard about this situation through mutual friends but what shocked me the most was that NO ONE attacked her faith. No one seemed to remind her that her behavior was not something that would be pleasing to God.

Okay, but then one could say that sin is sin - there is no degree of sins. You can commit murder of cheat on your spouse and though popular culture would say that murder is the bigger crime, in God's eyes they are equal. So my cursing and bad behavior are just as bad as committing adultery. That's kind of eye opening, isn't it?

Do you know what makes me feel better? Is that God loves me. He knows me, he knows my heart. I don't read my bible every day, I haven't memorized the Scriptures but you know what? The church is FULL of people who do and have that are horrible human beings! Reading your bible or being able to quote Scripture do not make you a good person.

It's been a long running discussion in my house about people who go to church. Frank doesn't like to go because he feels that the church is full of hypocrites. He's right. No one can argue that but many try. What is important to remember, well several important things to remember are A.) Who are you there for on Sunday mornings? Are you going to church because of your faith and to learn more about God and having a relationship with Him or are you there so that people will see you? While it is great to see friends on Sunday morning or perhaps have lunch with them afterwards, but if that is the only reason you are in church, you've missed the boat. B.) the church is just a building. Being in there does not make you a believer and finally, C.) What are you like Monday-Saturday? Are you the same person 7 days a week or do you act one way Sunday morning and another the rest of the week? Do you have a church voice that comes out once a week? If so, you're missing the point.

In the past people have said to me that I was not a good Christian. My words offended them and therefore I could not possibly be a good Christian. I would have been hurt by the words but God tells us that we will be persecuted because of our faith. The ones who have said that are not Christians, they have no idea what it means to be one. Their view is that if you are a Christian, you should be meek, quiet and basically be a doormat to humanity. Um...no. I will have to answer to God for the things that I have done, I accept that. I don't really care about someone else's opinion of my faith. It's none of their business; that is between me and God.

At the end of the day, I am so thankful that I HAVE God in my life. I am thankful for the family that I have through Him. I am most thankful that He brought me to North Carolina and in doing that brought me to Him.

That's my preaching for the week. Thanks for listening...God Bless!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Something to think about...

Say you are walking through life, sort of minding your own business, but along the way you hear things. Not voices in your head, mind you, but you find out things about your fellow man that aren't...right.

What do you do?

I think the two most popular responses would be A.) Ignore it/don't get involved or B.) Depends on what it is.

So, if you knew that someone's spouse was cheating, would you tell them? If a doctor was writing prescriptions for pain pills to people who he had not examined, would you report him? What if someone's boyfriend was a drug dealer? Would you call the cops? If someone was stealing from their job or performing "other jobs" out of their place of business, would you tell the boss? Or how about if you found out that someone you knew had had sex with an underage person, would you confront them or call the police? Or lastly, if someone was lying in a court case, would you tell the courts?

See, THESE are real problems. These are the sort of things that SHOULD be reported to someone or people should be confronted about but 9 times out of 10, no one says a word. So many of us go about and want to gossip or complain about the petty stuff like "So and so doesn't like you" or "This one's kids are out of control" but the real stuff, the major stuff, then no one wants to say a word. It's okay to confront or hurt someone's feelings over things that are meaningless but when someone is really offensive and their behavior is morally wrong, then we choose to stay silent. Why is that? I mean, I am totally guilty of that and I think of the things that I KNOW, things that I was told about other people, and yet, I say nothing to the offensive people. I think that that makes me almost as bad as they are. At what point do you stand up and say enough?

What would you speak up about?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chick Flick Friday - Valentine's Day



I was blessed to have a dear friend take me out last week for dinner and a movie (Thank you, Cathleen!) and needing something light and funny to see, we chose "Valentine's Day". I have to admit, I hadn't seen a lot of buzz on this movie - commercial-wise - but I was glad that we didn't let that stop us and went for it!

Let me just start by saying that when we got to the theater, there was only ONE guy in there. We were like "Uh-oh!", but luckily his girlfriend joined him a few minutes later. After that, a group of like 30 women came in - talk about a girls night out!

Okay, the movie has an enormous cast of great actors and all of their stories intertwined in a way that made you not get bored with any one storyline before it moved to the next. The main characters (if there really were any) seemed to be Ashton Kutcher's and Jennifer Garner. I'm not huge fans of either of them but they were really cute in this. The whole movie takes place on one Valentine's Day and shows what all of these characters are dealing with. You have the newly dating, newly engaged, married for 50 years, teen romances, meeting someone new...I think they covered every type of relationship you can have - including one where you hate Valentine's Day!

All in all, it is a fluff movie with some really great moments. You won't be rolling in the aisles, but you will most definitely be entertained. Heads up: Taylor Swift is hysterical. If any of you saw her hosting gig on SNL, you'll already know this but she was really great in this movie.

So grab your girlfriends and head to the movies this weekend. You'll be smiling when you leave the theater!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Update...

Well, no such luck. A whole day of agonizing and waiting and it was all for nothing. I'm pretty bummed.

I was on a bunch of the discussion boards and took comfort in the fact that there were 4,000 other people feeling the same exact way that I was. The funky thing about it all is that it was all based on the pitch. I know that that is my weakness. I wonder if there is a service out there where someone will write your pitch for you?? Is there such a thing, maybe?

So for tonight, I am still an unpublished author who is feeling like a loser. But even in that I am blessed - Nick saw me crying and went to get me Chinese food for dinner.

Blessed, indeed.

I'm sitting on pins and needles here...

Okay, so today is Thursday, February 25th. No big deal, right? WRONG!!! Today is the day that Amazon.com is supposed to announce the first round winners of their National Breakthrough Novel Award.

Needless to say, I am one of the entrants waiting to hear if I've made the first cut.

This is painful. Truly, truly painful. I mean, when you say that the winners are going to be announced on Thursday, February 25th, shouldn't that mean early in the day? How am I going to function until I know the results??

There were 10,000 entries accepted - no more than that. I know that mine was accepted in that general form. The first round winners will then have excepts of their novel put on Amazon.com for people to vote on. AAAHHH!!! Honestly, I feel sick to my stomach right now.

It's going to be a long day, I can tell you that.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I have the BEST friends!

As you all know, things have been crazy around here lately with the whole employment (or lack thereof) thing. I've been stressed, freaked out and downright mean at times because of it.

About two weeks ago, I put out a prayer request to my closest friends because I was feeling such despair. I knew I wasn't being very kind or patient with Frank and I felt bad about that plus we had a ton of bills that needed to be paid. So I sent out the request because my girls are awesome prayer warriors.

Not long after I sent out the e-mail, I received wonderful messages of how they were praying and offers of assistance -even if it were just to buy me the little things :). I love them all for this and so much more. I felt a bit embarrassed that they even wanted to do anything for me other than pray. After than, one dear friend came and took me out to dinner and movie. It was so nice to just get out and get away from my troubles for a little while! Then, one of my dear girls gave me some groceries. What a blessing! We dug in to them right away. Then another friend, my BG, called and invited me to go out for coffee. The local gas station around here is affiliated with the grocery store it is next too and you earn gas points every time you shop. She offered me her gas points so I could fill up my tank! THAT was a blessing.

And then, just when I felt that my girls could not possibly love me any more, they did something truly amazing. While filling up the tank, I was handed an envelope. In it was a beautiful card that said "Keep Smiling" and inside was money to pay our bills. There are no words to describe how I felt at that moment. I mean, we are all struggling right now and yet these amazing women took from their families to help mine. I'm still in shock and reeling from it. I told them all that "thank you" seemed like such a small way to express how I felt.

Bottom line is that they love me. They care about me and my family. I cannot believe my good fortune in having these people in my life. For more than 14 years I have experienced the love of wonderful friends all around me. These gals know that I love them, equally, and that I would do whatever I could to help them if the situation was reversed.

I love you, guys!!! I thank GOD for blessing me with your friendship. And to quote a recent quote that I used as my status on Facebook that very night:

"Remember, no man is a failure who has friends" - Clarence, "It's a Wonderful Life".

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Weight Watchers, Week 5

Okay, I'm starting to feel sassy again! I went to my meeting yesterday and was down another 2.8 pounds for a total of 10.4!! I got my second "5 lb" sticker and reached my first 5% goal! I feel really silly now for wanting to throw in the towel.

I've been working out - no more 3 hour workouts, though. You guys were totally right, that was not a smart move. So I'm walking, I'm occasionally doing the Power 90...I'm not thrilled with any of them but they are working, so I can't complain. The fact is...exercise works. I was talking to a friend about this yesterday and we're both like "Okay, so we realize what works here, eat less and exercise and you can lose weight." So we get this, we know this and yet...I still need that woman behind the desk to judge me so that I feel motivated!! How sick is that??? Well for now I'll deal with it because it is working. I think if I tried to go out on my own right now I would just lie to myself and not be as diligent and then be disappointed when I got on the scale.

So the journey continues...

Monday, February 22, 2010

What kind of vacation would you take?

Okay, so recently I have been involved in a discussion about weekend vacations/getaways. I have some friends who are going away for a "couples" weekend. They talked freely about it to me even though I wasn't invited because they knew that it was not my thing. Or Frank's. SERIOUSLY not Frank's.

So I mentioned this weekend-thing to Frank, in passing, and he was just like anti-everything. I started thinking about it and was wondering if I could (if he were willing) do a couples retreat/getaway thing. Honestly? Probably not. We did the vacation thing with the family - hated it. I've done retreats with the church (ladies only) - hated it. With couples, I think you can sort of get competitive - even if you don't think so - and try to out "love" one another. You know, "We LOVE to do this" or "We ALWAYS do this together"...after a while you just want to take that one couple and shut them up! Nobody's marriage is perfect. Nobody's husband is perfect. And sorry, but unless you are married to Johnny Depp or another one of People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive, your husband's not perfect either. It's great that WE think our husbands are hot, but trust me when I say, no one else is going or has to agree.

Couple competitions can be annoying, no doubt. It would be like a continuous loop of the Newlywed Game where you are begging to be eliminated. When you are in high school, maybe even college, it is a natural thing to want to be THE "it" couple. When you are in your late-thirties/early forties, it's not so cute.

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong to feel this way - maybe it could be fun. I'm just not seeing it. Maybe with certain people it could be fun, but I don't think I'll ever really get the chance to test the theory. We don't like to play cards or board games, and Frank is not a "sharer". I end up talking enough for the both of us and then later on he's like "Why did you talk about...(fill in the blank here with whatever marital experience that wasn't flattering to anyone). I'd rather go for a weekend away with just the girls - maybe 4 or 5 of us. That could be fun. Probably something else I won't get to experience any time soon.

So, here's the question of the day: Could you/would you go away on a couples weekend? Have you done it before and found it to be fun?

Okay, maybe two questions...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Loving the TV again

You know, ever since "Friends" went off the air and "Must See TV" on NBC Thursday nights changed, I have not watched a whole lot of TV. Plus, I just found it hard to sit and watch TV for extended periods of time. But lately there has just been some GOOD shows around (and no, I don't mean the Olympics).

Sunday Nights: The Amazing Race. Yes, I know that the new season JUST started but MAN do I love this show! It is one of the few reality shows that I enjoy because I find the whole geography aspect fascinating.

Monday Nights: How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. Both of these shows are hysterical and the nice thing is that there is an hour between their air times so it's like 30 minutes of TV, do what I need to do around the house for an hour and then another 30 minute break. Love it!

Tuesday Nights: The Biggest Loser. I had issues with it last season because of that whole Tracey thing but this season seems to be back on track. It motivates me to get up and move!

Wednesday Nights: Psych. This is on the USA network and is a great show. Two private detectives, one who thinks he's psychic. Their cases aren't predictable and the witty banter just keeps me entertained.

Thursday Nights: 30 Rock. I am a huge SNL fan which helps with this one. Tina Fey is great and Alec Baldwin is the king of comedy. The way that these two deliver one-liners is wonderful and the supporting cast is equally funny.

Friday Nights: The Soup. This show is on the E network and for 30 minutes you have recaps of all of the stupid things that were on TV during the week. It is just mindless entertainment and the host, Joel McHale, is very funny.

Saturday Nights: iCarly. Yes, I'm admitting to it! This teen-ish show on Nickelodeon usually airs a new episode on Saturday nights and it's just funny for the whole family. Then, later at night, we still enjoy Saturday Night Live.

Okay, so that helps me with regularly scheduled programming. But there is a show that I know is on and airing current episodes during the week but we have been watching it in re-runs a LOT lately, and that is NCIS. This show has become a little bit of an addiction. Last night we watched like six hours of it! I wanted to get up and move, but I couldn't! I had to know what was going to happen!

I may need a 12-step program to make life normal again and break the TV habit!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Too much together time...

It's official...we've hit that point. With three weeks of being home time for Frank, I have hit my limit. We have become like two kids in the back seat on a family road trip - "Stop looking at me!", "He's touching me!" or the ever famous "I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you".

Life is completely annoying at this point. If I am on the phone, there he is wanting to know who is on the phone. If I am going to the store, he wants to know how long I'll be gone and then he calls.

The other morning, Frank left to take Michael to school. While he was gone, I paid some bills on line but then had to do our insurance payment over the phone. He walked in while I was on the phone and just hovered over me and was like "What's wrong? What's the matter?" Now I miss the damn prompting of the robot on the other end and have to wait for it to go through its whole speech again. I'm not going to lie to you, I went a bit ballistic after I hung up the phone. I was not nice, I was not understanding...that woman has left the building. I was nice and I was understanding that first week he was home. I even let her come out during that second week, but now? I am like a ranting and raving lunatic.

I'm not proud of it, it just is what it is. Please pray for our family. Pray for work to come in. SOON!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chick Flick Friday! - "The Holiday"










I probably should have saved this one for closer to Christmas, but I saw it on TV this weekend and remembered why I liked it. "The Holiday" stars Cameron Diaz (who I am not a big fan of) and Kate Winslet as two women dealing with their own personal crises and switch houses for the holidays via a home-swap web-site. They both feel that leaving familiar environments behind will help them get their lives together and overcome their misery.

Amanda (Diaz) is a famous, Hollywood editor of movie trailers and Iris (Winslet) is a society columnist for a local paper in England. Amanda's home is a huge, technological wonder in L.A. while Iris' home is in the middle of nowhere in Sussex. They are both in for a bit of a shock - but they both have good attitudes about getting away from it all.

Amanda meets Iris' brother (the adorable Jude Law) while Iris meets up with two men - a composer names Miles (awkward performance by Jack Black) and an elderly screenwriter named Arthur. Personally, I enjoyed the scenes between Iris and Arthur because he is from a long-forgotten time of the Golden Age of Hollywood and he is just adorable. Iris befriends him and loves hearing tales of long-ago Hollywood. Meanwhile, Amanda is still dealing with panic attacks while having a fling with Jude Law's character, Graham.

I have to admit, the two males in this movie are a bit weird to deal with. Jack Black is WAY better in wildly comedic roles and Jude Law's character here is a bit whimpy and annoying at times - you know how I hate men who cry!

Either way, it's still a lovely movie that will make you sigh, smile and relax. A good choice for a night in alone with a yummy snack and perhaps a cup of cocoa. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Things Change...

So I'm on Facebook (a lot) and I still get a kick out of catching up with old friends from throughout my life. It's been wonderful to see what everyone has done, who they've married, how many kids they've had, etc. But it's not just the "old" friends that only come across my radar, it's friends who I've lost touch with in the last couple of years for whatever reason.

Tonight I got a message from one such friend. Our families used to be so close. We would hang out all of the time. Her husband practically lived with us when she would go out of town. We went to church together, were in small groups together and then ...we weren't. There was no fight, no big falling out, life just happened and time got away from us.

A few months ago I found out through a mutual friend that this family moved to like Central America - not as missionaries, just moved. Well, she contacted me about homeschooling and where to get curriculum and when I wrote back I was like "Wow! I can't believe that you made such a wild move!" They were a well-to-do family. He owned his own business, she had an internet business for a while, they lived in a beautiful house and bought a second one as an investment and rented it out. I have to admit, I was a bit envious of their life because while theirs kept getting better, ours stayed still or got worse.

When she wrote back, I was shocked. So shocked that I read it to Frank because he heard me gasping. They lost their businesses, they lost one of their homes to foreclosure and rented the other out for two years. They're living in a place that doesn't thrill them but they know that it is short-term. She didn't get in to WHY they chose to make this move but I was still blown away! I mean, we are struggling right now but we know that it is temporary. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

After I put her message aside it reminded me of why we, personally, never looked to have a lot of stuff; why it wasn't an ambition of ours. It's harder when you lose it. And most of us, at one time or another, will lose it. Growing up, we lived in the best houses in the neighborhood; my dad drove the newest and flashiest cars. But in the end, we had to sell those houses and get rid of those cars. My parents divorced, they were mean and bitter at times, we had to live in an apartment, my mom worked three jobs to support us...I mean, for all of the "stuff" we had, in the end, we had nothing. I never saw owning a home as the great American dream because it doesn't symbolize that for me. And if you watch the news during the last year or so, it wasn't a dream for millions of people who were being foreclosed on.

I guess the lesson here is to not envy anyone. You have no idea what God has planned for them - their successes, their failures, their joys, their struggles or the price they pay for them. I have to remember to keep my focus on my own family, my own home and be thankful for all that we have - even when it doesn't feel like a lot.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Another Weight-Watchers Update

So last week I was ready to quit. I had had enough. I was constantly obsessing about every little thing that I ate. I felt horrible. My stomach hurt all the time...I mean, it just wasn't worth it to me.

I called about quitting but since I do their monthly pass and they had already done the charge for the month, I could not quit just yet. I mean I could, but I would still be paying. Monday morning I got up and went to the meeting. I figured, I'm paying, I might as well go.

FOUR AND A HALF POUNDS LOST!!!!

I almost did a happy dance right there on the scale, but there was a line, I felt a little weird, so I just did one in my head. I'm almost at eight pounds and I have to tell you, I don't see it. I mean, everything still fits the same. I wear the same outfit that I did for that very first weigh-in so that I'm consistent and it still fits the same! Well, the pants may be a little looser but not that much. When I lose two more pounds I will hit 5% of my goal and get a special star. Yeah!

So I'm gonna stick it out for a little bit longer. I am exercising. I didn't do it consistently last week and ended up doing a 3 hour workout in one day and believe me, my body complained BIG TIME. Note to self: spread out the workouts - you're not as young and bendy as you used to be!

I'm off to find the Advil now...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Are the World - New Version

Okay, I was so not in to this song the first time around and I am even LESS of a fan this time.

Have you seen the video or heard the new version of "We Are the World"? The first version was groundbreaking...a song to aid with issues in Africa. The artists who participated were relevant to the current music scene and the song and video were done and done tastefully. The new version? Well, it's just weird.

Issue number one: Did we NEED to leave the Michael Jackson solos in? Really? I think that these people are cashing in on Michael Jackson's name to make more money for themselves and promote themselves rather than have this be a total humanitarian effort. In the video, the first scene we see of Michael is with a split screen of his sister Janet lip syncing. It looks odd and a little creepy. There are plenty of people out there with beautiful voices that are ALIVE that could have sung his part - maybe even Janet herself rather than just mouthing the words in a video that she clearly didn't participate in!

Issue number two: Who CHOSE these artists? There is no rhyme or reason to them. I have to admit, I shut the video off about mid-way through because it was painful to see AND hear. You had popular CURRENT artists like Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Pink and then, for some reason, you saw (and heard) Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion. I know that these two women have AMAZING voices but they are completely out of place in this venue. Then, as if that wasn't enough to annoy me, when the camera panned the group, somewhere floating around were some of the Beach Boys and Heart! REALLY?? Was no one at the door to stop this?

Back when the first version was done - and this is just completely random - there was some controversy because Prince was not invited to participate. He was rather ticked off because of it, too. Well, Saturday Night Live (in it's awkward few seasons after the original cast left) did a skit mocking this. Billy Crystal was Prince and Jim Belushi starred as Hulk Hogan. Prince was in his weird "Purple Rain" period with his freaky trio of girls around him and in the skit he sang "I am ALSO the World..." It was HYSTERICAL! My point here is that they wouldn't let someone who was vocally talented and relevant like Prince in on the recording but the current one let a Beach Boy in? Why?

Issue number three: Did Jamie Foxx really have to sing like Ray Charles? I mean, I know he PLAYED Ray Charles in the movie but if he was allowed in there to sing, couldn't he sing as just himself and NOT do the impersonation?

At that point, I was just disgusted and turned it off. I tried to find the SNL skit but it has been removed from the internet - supposedly by Prince. I thought it was funny. Apparently Prince doesn't have a great sense of humor about it. All I can say is that it is songs like this that make me glad that I don't listen to the radio anymore. I am sure this is being played to death!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day - A Parent's Perspective

Okay, so yesterday was Valentine's Day. It doesn't hold the same level of excitement as it once did but it is still a fun day. After cruising the blog world over the weekend, I noticed a lot of "Tell us your favorite Valentine's Day" stories. After much mind searching, I came to the realization that I never had a boyfriend on Valentine's Day when I was younger. Seriously, I'd have a boyfriend up until sometime in January, get dumped, and then not have another boyfriend again until April.

Weird.

Anyway, I can remember one particular Valentine's Day. I was a senior in high school and at the end of the day I walked out to my car that was in the student parking lot and there was a rose on my windshield. I immediately had my hopes up that it was someone in particular (I have no idea who, at this point in time) but later came to realize that my dad had put it there for me. That memory always makes me smile. My mom would always wake us up on Valentines' morning with little treats left on the foot of our beds - chocolates, stuffed animals, etc.

As the mother of two boys, I didn't get to do any of that stuff. I wanted to but Frank kind of made me feel silly about it. They were boys and apparently you don't DO lovey-dovey stuff like that with them. Who knew? I'm a girl, I have a sister, I know the things that were done for us on Valentine's Day. Sue me!

Frank is not an overly romantic person...well, he's not really romantic at all. It's just not who he is and I'm okay with that. I don't want a really sensitive man - like have you seen the newest coming attraction for tonight's "The Bachelor"? Do men really cry this much? That would make me CRAZY!! But I digress, Frank is not romantic. He has not shown a romantic side in front of our boys. And yet, here is Nick, sweet, teenager driving Nick all psyched up for Valentine's Day. He is a mystery to my husband. The boy bought his girlfriend a digital picture frame (because she always wanted one), he had a blanket made for her with her favorite Disney character on it (Winnie the Pooh), he played her a song on his guitar...I mean, the boy put a LOT of thought in to his Valentine's Day. Frank just stood and scratched his head as Nick left here yesterday, totally stumped as to WHY he was doing all of these things.

At that moment, I had to bite my tongue from saying "BECAUSE GIRLS LIKE IT! AND SO WOULD I!!" The bottom line is that it is sweet to be young and in love. To be at a point in your life where giving gifts to the one you love is exciting. As you get older, it's not so much about the gifts but about still being in love and wanting to be together. It is about the simple things like having a nice meal together and just being able to talk and laugh.

I'm glad my son is a romantic. I'm glad that he wants to shower his beautiful girlfriend with gifts that show how much he loves her. I think it is sweet and I hope that he never loses that.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

We're poor, we don't have much, but we have love. I feel like the luckiest woman in the world because I have a husband that I love and who loves ME for who I am. It is unconditional. He makes me smile, he makes me laugh, he has given me two amazing children.

Coming from a family that seemed to run rampant with divorce, I have great pride in the fact that for twenty years, I have been in this amazing relationship. Is it perfect? No. There is no such thing. I make him crazy. He makes me crazy. But at the end of the day, we have each other and that is better than any heart-shaped box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers.

I hope that all of you have an amazing Valentine's Day and have someone amazing to share it with. Much love, my friends!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fantasy Post...

Okay, I think we have long-since established that life is pretty sucky right now. To top it off, we're waiting for more snow tonight. Aces. So rather than depress all of you with my tales of woe, we are going to the magical land of make-believe where I describe the life I WISH I was living right now...

First, the weather would be wonderful and Frank would have more work lined up than he could handle. Although he'd have to take time off because I just won that FABULOUS Disney sweepstake that I entered and we're off for a week-long trip to my happy place.

After hopping, skipping and jumping all over Disney World we would come home to find that I had an offer on my manuscript. Could live be any sweeter? Yes, of course it could...Nick would finally get that raise they've been promising him at work for TWO YEARS and start to finally become more financially independent and pay me back the massive amounts of money that he owes me for his cell-phone bill - perhaps he'd even get his own account and get off of our plan!

Our house would be condemned for the lack of insulation and the landlord would be forced to pay us the $14,000 in over-paying that we've done on the utilities here and with that money we could find someplace bigger to live that actually stayed warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A pool would be nice, too.

So what do you think? Too much? I left out that I'd be a size 6 in all of these scenarios because that was just WAY too out there!

Happy Saturday, everyone!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chick Flick Friday - When in Rome...





Saturday night I went out with a friend to dinner and a movie and we decided to go and see "When in Rome" with Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. I wanted something light and funny and this movie was definitely it!

It's a story about a woman named Beth who is super-ambitious New Yorker who works as a curator for the Guggenheim Museum. Her younger sister is getting married (rather quickly) in Rome and so Beth goes off on a whirlwind trip of 48 hours for the wedding. While there she meets Nick (Josh Duhamel). They dance, they flirt and just when she thinks he could be "someone", she sees him kissing someone else.

Right outside of the reception, there is a fountain - the love fountain (or something like that) where people toss in coins and wish for love. Feeling pretty angry at love at the moment, Beth steals some coins out of the fountain thinking that she is saving these people. But what happens next is that the people who's coins she stole, are now in love with her and following her all over the place back in New York!

The scenarios are really funny but not too outlandish and Nick ends up pursuing Beth, as well. As the story unfolds she comes to believe that Nick is the owner of one of the coins that she stole and finds herself being really disappointed because she's falling in love with him.

All in all, it is a sweet little love story that is comical. If you're looking for a fun movie to see with the girls that doesn't have foul language or nudity, this is it. I will definitely rent this one when it comes out on DVD.

*Today's Examiner.com article is on the Mom Heart Conference. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So close...

Okay so remember how back in November I participated in National Novel Writing Month? And how I completed it? And how I can get a free, professionally printed and bound copy of my book? Well, like so many other things in my life right now, that's not going well.

I finally finished the editing stage, I designed my cover and was ready to submit. Well I typed it up as a Word document, they want it in a PDF format. Okay, fine, I found a free website that converts it. So I convert it and submit. Not good enough. Apparently the trim sizing is off and they will not accept it. My copy that I converted is formatted for 8.5 x 11 and my book size is 5 x 8. I have NO IDEA how to change this. No one knows how either, apparently.

So I sent an inquiry to CreateSpace who is handling the whole thing and they don't ANSWER technical stuff like that. I was told to refer to the help manual that came with my software! What manual? What software? I went back to the converter website but that's all they do is convert! I am so BEYOND frustrated right now that it's not even funny.

From what I can gather, it seems to me that I am supposed to BUY some sort of software that does this and let me just say how that is NOT happening right now with Frank still out of work. I don't know how we're going to pay bills this month let alone purchase some stupid software because of a minor technicality!

GGGRRRR..... I just want to hit something. I mean, really, really hit something. I mean, I am doing all that I can to bring in money and it's still not enough. The weather won't cooperate and my husband is slowly sinking in to his own kind of madness and depression because of the time off. Not a good combination to have us both home alone feeling this way. One of us is gonna crack soon and I think it's going to be me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Slowly going insane...

So you know how a week and half ago we got snow here in North Carolina? Well, it's pretty much stayed cold and miserable since then. We've had a LOT of rain, too. Frank had a couple of jobs lined up - all outdoor jobs.

He's been home now for twelve days. Can I just tell you how CRAZY I am going?? Besides the fact that we have had WAY too much time together, financially, this is killing us. As a painter, it's not like he can just go out and find a job - he kind of has to wait for the phone to ring.

My frustration level is with the lack of motivation to TRY and find something else to do to bring in an income. I went on Craigslist today and there were several jobs offered for painters - just looking for day workers. To me, this would be perfect. Sure, the pay rate isn't as great as when he's working for himself but some income would be better than none. Apparently, I am the only one in this house that sees it this way.

I LOVE my husband. I love the fact that we have always encouraged one another to work in fields that we enjoy and are okay with not trying to keep up with the Jones's - but times like this really irritate me and I can't help it! I don't enjoy having someone sitting next to me all day long. I don't enjoy having to explain my every move every time I move. I don't enjoy watching documentaries or Turner Classic Movies all the live long day!!

I am slowly going insane...not the kind of insane where I would send inappropriate e-mails to people I am related to or photocopy someone's blog and send it out to people they are related to, just the kind of insanity where I need to be able to pay the bills. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Inappropriate conversations

Okay, maybe I am WAY off base here but this is something that has been bothering me and so I would like some opinions.

First, have you ever NOT liked someone's sibling? You know, you have a friend or an acquaintance and you do not like their family? Do you actually TELL them that? I know I never would. Why? Because it's inappropriate!

So here's my situation: My sister is dating a man who my husband and I used to be really good friends with - actually we were really good friends with him and his second wife. We liked him, the wife? Not so much. We always hung out together, I thought we all got along fine - she is super intelligent and a bit socially awkward - but I always welcomed her in my home and was nice. We found out withing 2 weeks of each other that we were pregnant, we got married a week apart and our kids were born the same day! Wild, right?

Later on I came to find out that she told all of my friends at my wedding that she did not think that Frank should marry me. Who does that?? She didn't even KNOW any of my friends but felt the need to share that opinion on my wedding day. Freak.

Okay back to present day...so they are separated and my sister is dating this man and it seems that whenever they have to see his wife (no one knows when that divorce will actually happen) she finds the need to bash me to my sister. I find this very odd. My sister finds it funny because she knows that I don't like this woman. But it is weird to me that these two woman find the need to even discuss me. I realize that I am the only common ground that they have (well, except for the guy) but really? She told my sister that I used to come around "shaking my ass and dancing around" in front of her husband. You want to know what's funny about that? My husband was always there and he never saw such a sight.

So now, I have not seen or talked to this woman is almost 13 years and she is STILL carrying on over ...whatever? But here's the main thing, I guess, that is bothering me - is this woman bringing me up on her own because she is just a miserable, bitter freak or is my sister egging this on?

Either way, it is bad manners on both of them. I have had many friends over the years whose family members I could have done without but I kept that to myself! So what do you think? Do I let this high school behavior nonsense bother me or do I just laugh it off?

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Weight Watchers Super Bowl

I am not a sports fan in any capacity and yet every year I get sucked in to the Super Bowl. Most of the time I have no idea who is playing, I know not one players name. But I do enjoy the snacks.

As a confirmed foodie, I LOVE going all out on Super Bowl Sunday. Well this year presented a bit of a challenge because of the whole Weight Watchers thing. I was a bit bummed because I would not be able to do my usual but let me tell you, as I sit here Sunday night being pleasantly full, that I rock.

I made homemade pizza for Frank and Michael but for myself I did Portobella Mushroom cap pizzas. I took three of those mushroom caps (they're quite large - like the size of an English muffin), de-stemmed them, filled them with a little bit of tomato sauce (a chunky kind), topped them with a low fat, three-cheese Italian shredded cheese and I had lightly sauteed some bell peppers with onion and garlic. I put them in the oven to melt the cheese and let me tell you... they were SCRUMPTIOUS!!! I mean, I will definitely make these again.

Then, because I have to have meat, I grilled up some extra lean burgers and served them on these new Arnold's Sandwich Thins in multigrain variety. Some pickles, some salt-free ketchup and I am FULL! I do not feel deprived at all. Oh, and for dessert I had my three squares of Dove Dark Chocolate with 71% Cacao. It was a good diet day for this foodie.

It can be done, I guess. Of course it would have helped even more if I had maybe exercised a bit instead of sitting in my jammies all the live-long day.

*Today's Examiner.com article is on an on-line Physics of the Olympics class. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mother of a teen driver

Okay, so my boy has his license. Finally. Life should be easy and uncomplicated, right? Well, not yet. You see, he has a car of his own. When my grandmother passed away last year she left it to him. It's been sitting in front of our house since April. Frank and I paid the insurance on it from April til July and then Nick took over - on his own policy - on a car he couldn't drive alone in. Then, about three months ago, the starter went on it.

Sounds like a simple story with a simple solution, right?

Well, now here's my son with his shiny new license in his hands and he's ready to walk out the front door and hop in the car and take on the world. But he can't. Why? Because he never bothered to FIX the starter and pretty much felt like Frank and I should just GIVE him one of our cars so that he could go out. In torrential rain. In freezing weather. After dark.

Um...I don't think so.

Frank's vehicle is much older than mine. It is his work truck. It's probably the vehicle voted "Least likely to be stolen" and yet he was hesitant to let Nick take it to drive to his girlfriend's house and park it on the street (it has an oil leak). I'm like, really? She lives in a high-end neighborhood and no one, NO ONE would touch this vehicle! When Nick looked devastated about not being able to go out and drive, I convinced Frank to let him take it.

And he did.

It was so weird to know that he was out and about on his own. Driving himself! He got there and back without incident and I was just so darn proud! Once he gets that starter fixed on his own car, I am going to be dancing in the street!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Putting our feet down

Parenting is WAY harder than I ever thought it would be. I think it's harder when you have a child who was a good baby, a good toddler, a good KID and then turns in to one giant pain and you have no idea how or why it happened.

Wednesday morning we had to wake up at 6:15. Did I have to go to work? No. Did Frank have to go to work. No. Did Michael have to go to school? No (stupid third snow day!). Nick had to go to work. He does not get up on time ever so I set my alarm to make sure that he gets up. THEN I have to wake Frank up because HE has to drive the boy to work because the roads are too icy for me to drive AND because the boy STILL won't drive and get his license.

So we put our feet down.

Hard.

Frank drove him to work and the plan was, apparently, for Nick to go out with his girlfriend afterwards. Well, Frank and I had sat down and had a fairly long discussion about how we had had enough. Why do we have to get up while it's dark out for an 18 year old ADULT. Yes, adult. That's what the boy claims to be, but his actions say otherwise. You are either an adult or you are not. He wants to be treated as an adult so we are going along with that.

An ADULT does not get driven to work by his parents. An ADULT mans-up and passes his road test in a reasonable amount of time. An ADULT does not pay for car insurance for 7 months on a car that he cannot drive! That is just poor financing, my friends! So we called him and told him to come home so that Frank could take him out driving because we were done. He refused. I'm serious, he refused. They fought, there was yelling, Frank hung up on him.

Nick called back.

They argued some more and then Frank even got on the phone with Nick's girlfriend and told here where we were at. I refused to get on the phone because, personally, I am DONE. I want no more of this. I am MORTIFIED that I have an 18 year old that refuses to drive. I'm tired of my friends mocking him, I'm tired of our family mocking him, I'm tired of having to drive him everywhere, I'm tired of him not taking responsibility for his life!

So Thursday morning, Michael finally had school again (on a one-hour delay) and so when Frank left to drive him to school, Nick went with him. I told them to NOT go back to the same DMV where we'd been going because CLEARLY there is a problem there. Did they listen? No. They got there and (get this) there was a sign up that they were not doing road tests until after 12 noon because of treacherous road conditions! IT SNOWED SIX DAYS AGO!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? So they call me and are like "What do we do?" I wanted to smack them both. I gave them directions to the Raleigh DMV that I had TOLD them to go to in the first place and so off they went.

At 11:33 a.m. on Thursday, February 4, 2010, my son FINALLY got his driver's license.

Can I hear a hallelujah??

*Today's Examiner.com article is on Homeschool Days at Old Salem. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chick Flick Friday! - "Sixteen Candles"


Okay, I know, I know this is SO a teen movie but if you grew up in the 80's, this is a classic and still fun to watch today. Take a trip down memory lane for this edition of Chick Flick Friday!

Molly Ringwald, the queen of all 80's teen movies, stars as Samantha - a girl who's 16th birthday happens to fall on the same weekend as her sister's wedding and everyone forgets it. The movie follows her as she goes through a hellish day where her parents, grandparents and siblings forget the day, her dealings at school where she is pining after the cutest guy in school and then on to the school dance where the school geek hits on her.

I don't think there's a point in this movie that's NOT funny - from her grandmother feeling her boobs, to the foreign exchange student who arrives with the other set of grandparents (Long-Duk-Dong), to Anthony Michael Hall as the geek who has way more confidence than he should.

I could quote lines to this one all day long but for those of you gals out there that remember this, I think we can all look back and remember being in love with Jake Ryan. So pop this movie back in and relive high school one more time for the thrill of seeing the girl get her guy!
*Today's Examiner.com article is on The Leadership Institute. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Do you do belated?

Did you ever forget someone's birthday? You know, it could be on your calendar but then maybe it just slips your mind and you don't call or send a card for that special day? Do you just forget about it? Say that you'll get them next year? Or do you maybe, just maybe send a belated card or gift? Maybe call them and say "Hey, sorry!"

This can be awkward, no doubt. I have to admit, where family is concerned, I usually call. I have gotten out of the habit of sending cards because I never get them out on time. So rather than constantly be late, unless I'm sending a gift, I just call.

If you forgot your grandchild's birthday, would you TRY and make it up to them? Maybe send a belated card or gift? Maybe NOT look like such an insensitive jerk? I'm sure most of you see where I'm going with this. My dad FORGOT Michael's birthday. Just forgot it. He called for Nick's birthday. He even sent a little something extra for Nick for Christmas since his birthday is so soon after it but Michael? He just blatantly ignored. I talked to my sister about this and apparently, he's aware that he missed it but doesn't find it necessary to do anything about it. I may be being overly sensitive here but I think that it's just wrong. Kids don't care if they get their gift ON their birthday, they're just pretty much excited about getting a gift. My sister didn't send dad a gift this year for Christmas and he STILL keeps dropping hints about it. So in his world, HE is entitled to a gift - even a belated one - but his ten-year old grandson is not.

Selfishness knows no bounds.

*Today's Examiner.com article is on a meeting about Dual Enrollment being held in Cary. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Weight Watchers Update

Okay, so I finished week two on Weight Watchers and had a wee-bit more success than the first week. Praise the Lord! I went out in the dangerous cold and ice to get to my weigh in and lost three pounds. Yes, three whole pounds. That is WAY better than that lousy half a pound the first week.

So what's changed? Well, I told you that I had been exercising and doing the Walk Away the Pounds thing. I do a three-mile, high intensity walk. I did it five days last week. And you know what's weird? I'm not as hungry. That first week I was ready to start eating the furniture and now, I have it way more under control.

My total weight watchers goal is to lose 40 pounds. And that will put me at the high end of my weight range for my height. I still don't see how that's possible but whatever. Nick is graduating in June - EARLY June - and so as of right now I have about 16 weeks to lose 20 pounds. I would love to lose more than that but I'm being realistic. After seeing how slow this weight is going to come off, I have to have a goal that is within my reach. I have to get up and speak in front of several hundred people and so with 20 pounds off my short, fat body ought to make me feel a little bit better.

Why can't fat be the new thin?

Today's Examiner.com article is on the 2010 National African American Read-In in Raleigh. You can read about it HERE. Thanks!*

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Snow Update

Hey, guess what? It snowed in North Carolina. I kid you not. No, we did not get the 10-14 inches that were predicted, we got 5 here by me. Not much, right? Well, you would be wrong.

As the snow was moving in Friday night, the National Guard were on call. By the time I woke up on Saturday morning, the snow had basically turned to freezing rain. No one went anywhere all day. Sunday, all church services were canceled. Monday, schools were closed. Um...in case you were wondering, the snow and freezing rain had STOPPED on Saturday afternoon. There were no plows going through the neighborhoods, most of the main roads weren't cleared.

Today (Monday) the temps were in the high 40's to almost 50 degrees. The melting that was going on was amazing. When I went out this morning, it was like going through a waterfall to get to the doorway of where I was going. Now all of the roads are slushy and STILL the plows have not come through. It will be near freezing tonight. Schools are closed for Tuesday.

I understand how we are in the south and we hardly ever get snow and so they don't have the equipment that is needed. It's just at points like this that make me crazy. Someone clear the damn roads! Soon!

Please...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Politicians Behaving Badly

Okay, I have to admit, I am not a political person. I don't follow things like that other than my brief interest in our last presidential election where I went to the Sarah Palin rally. I do, however, get up early each morning and tune in to Good Morning America while getting Michael ready for school.

Maybe this topic is really big here in North Carolina only, maybe it a national thing, all I know is that John Edwards should be beyond ashamed of himself. Have you heard about this? I mean, here was a man that wanted to be President of the United States and he was screwing some woman while his wife was battling stage 4 cancer and is dying!! There are no words to even describe how disgusting this is. So, like it's not enough that he was sleeping with this woman and apparently making sex tapes and whatnot, he gets her pregnant.

REALLY???

Then, AGAIN, as if that wasn't enough, he uses all kinds of money from God knows where to keep this all quiet. And while he's shelling out money left and right - probably tax payer money - he's having discussions of the things he and this woman will do once his wife is dead. It makes me so damn angry just thinking about it! What kind of person does this? I mean, I know that politicians are KNOWN to be dishonest and greedy and unfaithful, blah, blah, blah, but as far as I know, none of them were so BOLDLY disrespectful to a dying woman...let alone a dying wife!

So it's not enough that this all comes out and his wife is publicly humiliated, oh no, that's not enough, the scummy aide who helped Edward's with his affair and keeping the mistress a secret now writes a tell-all book and is touring the media outlets. I don't know who I have less respect for now at this point, John Edwards or the aide.

Isn't it enough that Elizabeth Edwards is dying of cancer? She will not see her younger children grow up. She'll never hold her grandchildren. She's going through cancer treatment and now, because of these two DISGUSTING, greedy and selfish men, she has to be even more publicly humiliated.

I know that I have used this phrase before, but I'll use it again - there is not a hot enough place in hell for the likes of these men.