Monday, December 16, 2013

The Worst People to Travel Around

I was able to fly into D.C. last week despite the dire snow storm warnings.  All D.C. federal offices were closed the day I flew in, which indicated to me that there was a real chance of snow and ice.  I am somewhat familiar with the area from my 2-3 annual office visits and I knew that the main problem with Metro-ing in was the block and a half of  icy sidewalks I would have to walk from the Metro stop to the hotel.  (The first winter we lived in Virginia, I slipped on ice and have been overly paranoid cautious about ice ever since.)  I decided to chance it, and behold: this is the snowy wonder that greeted me as I left the Metro station.

You can see how treacherous the conditions were (eye roll).  I was very glad to not have snow and ice to deal with, but I clearly worried about the weather for no reason.

On to the Worst People: Travel Edition.  This trip really solidified for me how awful people can be when traveling.  Many people are great and bring their common sense with them, but if you have traveled at all, ever, you have probably run into at least one of these annoying travelers.  I ran into at least one of each category just in the Atlanta airport.

1. The Goldfish- (Disclaimer- goldfish are used in this example because they allegedly have a very short memory, and I couldn't think of a really dumb animal.  I'm sure your goldfish is truly brilliant.) Despite the constant audio reminders and twelve signs we have just passed, Goldfish don't seem to realize they need to take off their shoes to get through security until it is their turn to go through the detectors. Goldfish almost always need to empty seven pockets, unpack a laptop and make it halfway to the detector before remembering they need to come back and remove their belt.  Nice goldfish will offer you to just go around them.  Truly evil goldfish will take an extra three minutes removing items they don't even need to, like their watch.

2. The Pigeons- these are the people that slowly meander through the terminal without any apparent direction or pep in their step.  They don't seem to be in a hurry to get to a gate, or restroom, or anywhere really.  If a Pigeon is walking in front of you, it is guaranteed he/she is walking no faster than half the speed you want to be walking.  Pigeons will occasionally wander to the right.  You will try to take advantage of the opportunity to pass on the left and BAM! Pigeon goes left every single time.  Your only hope is when a Pigeon is distracted by something shiny at an airport store and pauses slightly right of middle of the lane.  Then you may pass, but go quickly and never look back.

3. The Hyenas- Hyenas like to hold phone or in person conversations at a volume that allows everyone near the gate to enjoy said conversation.  For a Hyena, loud talking is good, but loud laughter is even better.  If nothing else, Hyenas can contribute to your education or entertainment.  On this trip, the Hyena sitting behind me carried on a long, loud conversation that started off discussing business issues, then veered into a discussion of a recent bachelor party.  Very interesting.  He also said that his "lawyer friend has been doing lawyer $&*@ for ten years".  I'm a lawyer, and I had no idea that I was supposed to be doing "lawyer $&*@".  See, educational.  The boldest Hyena I ever saw carried on a loud phone conversation in the middle of gate 21- on SPEAKERPHONE.  That dude Hyena'd like a boss.

4. The Salmon- This trip was my first sighting of the Salmon, and they may win most annoying traveler.  Most fliers wait patiently (well, that may be a stretch), but they do wait for people in the front of the plane to slowly disembark before stepping into the aisle.  Traffic flows from the back of the plane toward the front since that is where, you know, the door is located.  And yet, behold the mighty Salmon swimming against the stream.  Salmon sat in seat 10A, but had to stow his carry-on bag in the bin above seat 38C.  Instead of letting most rows clear out before retrieving his bag, Salmon decides it makes perfect sense to push his way back to row 38 to get his bag, then step over people to get back to row 10.  Salmon in seat 12B sees this, and decides that is a good idea for her as well.  Dear Salmon, this was not a good idea.

Have you encountered any of these on a trip?  Have I forgotten any other annoying travelers?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Traveling to D.C.?

I am leaving in about twenty minutes for the airport as Delta has not yet cancelled my flight to D.C.  This weather is so crazy, I didn't even bother packing until this morning.  I've mentioned before I like to arrive at the airport well before my flight time, but I have a feeling today may be a day of flight delays or cancellation. Oh well, I have a new book to read while I wait, and I'm taking "Bossypants" by Tina Fey to read again if needed.  That book is hilarious.  If you haven't read it yet, you really should.  It is one of the few that made me laugh out loud.  Assuming I actually am able to fly today, I'll be in the freezing tundra of our nation's capital until Thursday night.  If I can't fly today, I'll let you know how long I had to wait for Delta to ruin my plans.  : )  Have a great week!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Sound of "Scandal"

Am I the only person who did NOT watch "The Sound of Music" re-make last night?  Much to the dismay of my musical loving sister (I'm sure), I do not care for the original "The Sound of Music", much less an updated version.  Instead, my Thursday evening go-to entertainment is "Scandal".  I love the twists and turns, the Olivia/Fitz I love you- I hate you- I love you again relationship, the Huck/Quinn face off, and who doesn't want Olivia Pope's wardrobe?  Last night's episode delivered several big "WHAT?!" moments for me, and I can't want until the next one.  Anyone else watching this crazy pants season?!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightly- Book Review

I sat down to read Dear Mr. Knightley and enjoyed it so much, I kept reading until I was done!  Samantha Moore is a twenty-three-year-old orphan who frequently escapes into her beloved literary world of Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare.  Given the opportunity to attend journalism school by an anonymous benefactor going by the name Mr. Knightley, all Samantha has to do is write Mr. Knightley frequently detailing her progress.  Growing up in an abusive home, Samantha must stretch emotionally to become successful.

Dear Mr. Knightley is written primarily as a series of letters from Samantha Brown detailing her development personally and in school.  A one-sided account of Samantha's life could be very dry, but Katherine Reay writes in such an engaging manner, it held my interest the whole time.  Samantha is flawed and sometimes less than likable, but she was still a character I really rooted for.  My only complaint is I HATED the ending.  I saw a glimpse of it earlier in the book and hoped I was wrong, but unfortunately, the plot progressed as I feared it would.  I don't want to give anything away, but the resolution of Mr. Knightley was highly disappointing to me. A bad ending is a big deal, but the rest of the book was so enjoyable I still recommend this book.

I received this book for free from Booksneeze in exchange for my review, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, December 2, 2013

God Distorted- Book Review

The subtitle of John Bishop's book, God Distorted, pretty succinctly sums up the content of the book: "How Your Earthly Father Affects Your Perception of God and Why It Matters".  For many of us who grew up in the church, God as "father" was the prevailing way we were taught to identify with God.  These sermons frequently drew a parallel between the love and care of an earthly father with the love of God.  I don't recall many sermons (if any) that addressed the "what if your earthly father sucks" type of questions.  John's book covers multiple types of fathers people may have on earth.  Each chapter covers fathers who are physically absent, physically present but emotionally absent, abusive, controlling, or enabling.  There is even a chapter for those who feel they had a pretty good dad (hint- he still isn't God).

The idea of this book was very interesting to me and the content did not disappoint.  John shares his own experiences as the child of several types of fathers (mostly bad but some good) and the challenges he has faced as an enabling father.  I appreciate his use of personal stories to demonstrate how damaging a father/child relationship can be for some children, but they can still experience the full love and acceptance of God.  I'll still thinking of several points from this book weeks later, so it clearly made an impact.  If you at all question how God can be a father to you, I highly recommend you give this book a try.  Even if you have or had a great father, I believe you can still gain some new insight into the father role of God.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  I was not otherwise compensated for this review and all opinions stated are my own.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On The Road Again

I'm flying out to Maryland today for a two and a half day meeting hosted by my office.  Friday is a half-day, but I was suckered into invited to attend a meeting following the first meeting.  I'm sooooo popular (ha).  The bright side is I'll land in Atlanta after 8:00 pm so I'll miss (hopefully) rush hour traffic out of downtown.

I am less than excited by the snow/rain forecast for the area I am headed to.  I like cool weather, but not cold.  And definitely not snow.  Snow = ice as far as I am concerned, and I had a bad ice experience the first winter we lived in Virginia.  Atlanta gets a lot less snow, but when we do it is like the Apocalypse. Everything shuts down for days, schools close and people drive even worse than normal.  I have heard there are some nice restaurants around the hotel, so I am looking forward to that.  Plus, sitting in a conference room for three days is like working, but really not.  Sorry, I can't return emails-I'm in a conference.  I hope you have a great week, and I hope I have no icy slip and fall incident to report next week.  : )

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Beauty of Broken- Book Review

"The Beauty of Broken" by Elisa Morgan is her personal story of coming from a broken family of origin and trying to create a perfect family once she was married and had children.  As you might imagine, no family is perfect.  Despite her best intentions and efforts, Elisa's family struggles with unplanned pregnancies, addiction, divorce and death.

I have mentioned in previous book reviews how I am drawn to personal stories that show people's weaknesses and struggles. If you are perfect, I can't relate to you AT ALL.  While I have not been through any of the struggles Elisa writes about specifically, I can relate to the pressure to put on a happy front and hide your problems from the world.

Elisa writes honestly about the difficulties she experienced once her parents divorced.  Elisa, her sister, mother and father all reacted to the divorce in different ways.  Elisa describes these reactions in an emotionally vulnerable way, but without blaming anyone. This description helped me understand why creating a "perfect" marriage and family was so important to her.  It is interesting to note that she was not trying to appear to be a perfect family- she truly wanted to create a perfect life for her husband and children.  

Elisa quite openly shares the struggles her children went through and how it affected Elisa.  While I don't agree with every parenting decision she and her husband made (specifically cutting off a child in an abusive relationship), I appreciate her explanation of how these decisions were made.  As the CEO of MOPS at the time, I would assume having a high profile position like that added more pressure to Elisa to hide any flaws.  I am glad she did not.  This book is a concrete story of what we all know- that no family is perfect- even in the families that look, well, perfect.

This book was provided to me by Booksneeze at no charge in exchange for my review, however all opinions expressed are my own.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

E's Birthday

Earlier this week, we celebrated E's birthday.  My little baby is the big 0-5!  Hubs convinced her of the wisdom of opening some of the more fun toys on Sunday so she would actually have time to play with them. E is going through a "Monster High" phase/obsession right now, so she received a couple of dolls and a movie over the weekend.  (See the obligatory photo proof of her delight.)

It actually was a good idea for her to play with some things on Sunday because she wanted to go out to dinner on her actual birthday.  After work, we loaded everyone up to have dinner at the mall food court. That is seriously where she wanted to eat.  She wanted to eat at the mall and maybe, possibly, probably not get her ears pierced.  The ear piercing place just so happens to be close to Sephora.  By close, I mean within 1000 yards or so- that's close enough, right?  Well, someone decided to mention that McDonalds and Chickfila have play houses and wouldn't that be fun? Guess where we had a birthday dinner.  Yep- golden arches.  Gross.  G and I both despise McDonalds "food" and G is getting too big for the play houses now.  Physically, I mean.  She's about a half-inch shorter than I am.  She will still play the crap out of a play house if we let her.

Anyway, I had already given the obligatory parent (and completely false) assurance that "wherever E wants to go is great- it's her birthday", so I couldn't really justify giving the stink eye to that certain someone with all his great ideas.  I've never been so happy to leave a restaurant in my life. The highlight for me was the delicious chocolate cake from Bill Rhodes Bakery.  If you are ever in the Atlanta/Buford area, I cannot recommend this bakery highly enough.  We've had five or six cakes from them over the last three years and they are so delicious.  Even the cake part is good- and that is saying something for me!

Halloween begins the season of sugar and potential weight gain in our house.  We still had five pounds of Halloween candy before we brought in the birthday cake, then we'll have Thanksgiving and Hubs' birthday this month.  Next month is G's birthday and Christmas, which generally also involve sugar and deliciousness.  It is a good thing I started keeping up with my calories last week or I'd put on another 15 pounds by New Years.  (Fun fact- when I measure out food, I discover that I typically enjoy four servings of salad dressing on my salad or my "normal" diet is 90% carbs!) I did slice a mindfully small sliver of cake, but I savored the heck of it.  : )

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fear Factor

This is from last weekend's fall festival, but the girls will pretty much look like this tonight. Minus the cotton candy (I hope).

How my little angels went from Disney princesses and Tinkerbell to Monster High I'll never know.  I will be glad to go one day without hearing my four year old say, "Mom, can you brush my wig? It's a hot mess." Long sigh.

I really don't enjoy Halloween.  The only memory I have of trick or treating as a child is of being scared crapless of a house that decorated super spooky.  I believe they had a coffin in the front yard one year and the owner liked to dress up scary and terrify children.  Jerk.  I don't enjoy the jump out and scare you kind of scary.  Serial killer TV shows- fine.  "Silence of the Lambs"- awesome.  Haunted hayride- hells no.

It is funny to see the things that scare my kids. G is almost twelve and can handle scarier things than she used to, but she is so funnily calm about getting scared.  She watched part of "The Conjuring" last week with Hubs.  When she hit her tolerance level of scary, she just said, "Okay, I'm out" and went to bed.  Not afraid of going to her room alone or anything.  S is not really afraid of anything that I can tell.  E is a typical (I think) almost five year old.  She claims to like scary things but then gets really freaked out when she sees them. She refuses to go into Halloween stores and had to be carried around Party City to buy a costume.  She gets really scared when Hubs wears fake vampire teeth at Halloween.  It is so odd- she doesn't mind the fangs on the counter, or trying them on herself, but if Hubs puts them in his mouth she flips out.  Guess who didn't get fangs this year?  I'm sure tonight will be interesting since I've scoped out a couple of houses that are pretty guaranteed to make her pee her pants.  Here's hoping we all survive.  The only thing scarier is knowing I am home alone with 300 pieces of candy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Goodbye Deliciousness

Is there anything you think about, talk about, say "I'm going to", but never actually get around to?  Carrie, meet healthy diet and exercise.  Long sigh.  I've gained a few pounds over the last few years.  Not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but a) I don't want to keep gaining every year, and b) it is all in my stomach so I hate all clothing that that isn't loose and baggy.  And yes, I know Stacy London and Clinton Kelly would say baggy clothes just make you look bigger, but I'll take generally bigger over fielding questions about when my baby is due any day.  "Never, I'm just chubby" seems like something I don't want to say to people.

When we moved to D.C., I lost weight with a quickness. I walked to the bus stop, through the metro stations, blocks to my office- so much walking.  Then we moved to Georgia four years ago and I started working from home.  Big shocker- sitting at a desk in your house and driving everywhere you go is not conducive to maintaining a healthy weight.  It might be okay if I didn't love sugar and hate exercise, but I do and I do so here we are.  It also doesn't help when Hubs says things like "we're getting to a certain age" and "slowing metabolism".  I'm only 37!  Take it easy, Grandpa.  

I don't know if I finally got fed up, or because Monday seems like a good starting day, or because I tried on clothes (again) yesterday and hated everything on my tummy (again), but I am starting to watch what I eat today.  I'm counting calories and things on the My Fitness Pal app on my phone, and am planning to start back on some light exercise (shudder).  I seriously hate exercise.  Seriously- I took archery and orienteering as my two required PE courses in college.  That is how much I hate physical exertion.  I'm also going to re-read the book "You on a Diet".  I haven't read it in a couple of years and I need a refresher on what exactly I should and should not be ingesting.  (Did you know some restaurant salads are over 1000 calories?! Shocking to me- and gross.)  I LOVE sugary goodness, so limiting my sugar intake and substituting healthier snacks will probably be the hardest dietary change for me to make.  By the end of the year, I hope to have dropped ten to fifteen pounds.  Anyone else struggling with a little extra weight or have other year end goals?  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Great (Un)Expectations

I've had several reminders in the last week of how a change in plans is sometimes a great thing.  I had an unexpected day off from work earlier this week by way of a sick child.  E woke up with a fever, upset tummy and earache.  Once E had some medicine, she was in good spirits and played or watched TV. Honestly, I was kind of glad to take the day off.    I'm not great at just scheduling a day off so this unexpected free day was pretty good.  It turns out E had nothing serious and headed back to school after a couple of days of milking it, but I certainly didn't mind a day of reading magazines and watching cartoons.

Since I am not able to volunteer at the kids schools very much during the school day, my little ears perk up when they advertise something you can work on at home.  S's school convinced me that I could watch TV while I mindlessly stuffed folders for the big art fundraiser.  I will do almost anything if it allows me to watch TV at the same.  I naively thought I and several other parents would divide up the folders, get them done, easy peasy.  This is what I ended up with:
I was the only parent easily seduced by the lure of multi-tasking during my TV time.  Each kid, first grade through fifth, created an original piece of art, which I stuffed into a green folder along with a letter.  There were probably six hundred or more of them.  I did get them done while watching TV.  For hours.  Over three days.  Sigh.  The upsides are I feel good that I helped the school (and won't feel bad when I pass up the next volunteer opportunity), and I was also able to see what kid's names are popular these days.  There was a Eunice, a Muriel and more than one Leonardo- who knew!

Maybe my best unexpected blessing was when my sister came to visit last weekend.  It is always fun to hang out with my sis, but sometimes she brings clothes.  : )  I guess one woman's trash really is another one's treasure, because more than once I said, "I can't believe she is willing to part with this sweater!  It is awesome!".  I kept (or passed on to G) almost all of her castoffs, including three pairs of jeans.  JEANS, PEOPLE!  I really like buying new clothes, but I really do not like trying them on first.  And of all the clothes to go out and try on, jeans are the absolute worst.  I can (and have) try on ten pairs of jeans and hate them all.  I actually needed jeans and have been putting it off since the trying on part is some traumatic and now I don't have to subject myself to such torture.  I'm wearing my "new" jeans today, as a matter of fact.  And I look awesome.  Thanks, sis!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sweet Olive- Book Review

One benefit of all my recent travel was hours of uninterrupted reading time.  I chose the book Sweet Olive from Booksneeze because a) I have a fondness for books set in the South, b) it sounded like an interesting story, and c) it weighed significantly less than the 600+ page bio of Steve Jobs I was reading.  FYI- books become exponentially heavier the longer you carry them around in your bag.

Sweet Olive centers around Camille Gardner, who works for her uncle and his oil and gas company.  She is typically sent in as the sweet but tough negotiator to persuade hesitant people to sign over their mineral rights. In this case, she is sent to Samford, Louisiana, where she once spent the worst month of her life.  Her job is to convince a group of artists to sign over their mineral rights.  As the story unfolds, we learn more about why she was so hesitant to return to Samford.  Camille has a true love for art, so we also see her struggle with the duties of her job, her want to genuinely help the artists profit by selling their mineral rights, and her growing affection for the artists personally.  There is also a romantic interest thrown in for good measure.

I enjoyed the character of Camille.  She's a strong professional women, but also warm-hearted and sensitive in a very likable way.  The romantic interest angle was (in my opinion) pretty predictable in a standard boy and girl hate each other at first kind of way, and the that plot point was wrapped up very quickly at the end of the book, but I enjoyed reading Sweet Olive from beginning to end.

I received Sweet Olive free from Booksneeze in exchange for my review, but all opinions expressed are my own.    

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Love/Hate Relationship with Money

I think I have mentioned before that Hubs and I are both federal employees.  You may have noticed that the federal government is shut down.  There have been a few news articles about it.  : )  While we seem to veer on the edge of shutdown almost every year, this is my first actual shutdown experience.  I have learned way more about what employees keep working, who keeps getting paid (and who doesn't), no year funding, and fiscal years that I hope to never need to know again.

Hubs is one of the hundreds of thousands of employees staying home and not getting paid until the government opens again.  He will theoretically receive back pay for the whole time the government has been closed if Congress approves the bill, but no money is rolling in right now.  My office is somewhat unusual in that we have some funds that can be used during any fiscal year and are able to stay open a couple of weeks and continue to get paid on time.  However, this means we will start getting half our normal paycheck this month as long as Hubs can't work.  

I have realized during this experience that I have a very unhealthy relationship with money.  I am unreasonably terrified of not having it, so I tend to want to hold onto it, probably more than is normal.  I have spent long minutes of my life debating whether to buy a name brand can of beans or save $0.10 by buying the generic can of beans.  That is ridiculous.  This fear keeps me from making rational decisions on how to manage my money.  Honestly, I feel like money controls me most of the time.  I distinctly recall having this fear since I was a child, so it is not dependent on actual circumstances- it is completely unreasonable.  Even in a time when tightening our belts is appropriate, I am losing sleep over what could or may happen x number of weeks from now.  It is not productive planning.  It is just worry.  

It is very likely that the shut down will end in the next several weeks and Hubs will receive back pay for this time.  In the meanwhile, I am extremely lucky to still be working and to to have numerous venues to stay afloat.  We have savings we can dip into, Hubs could try to find a temporary job or file for unemployment, or we could use credit cards if it became that desperate (boo).  I am consciously working on my views of money during this time and give money a healthier role in my life.  I love the peeps at Our Freaking Budget. They have great budget ideas, an attitude toward money I hope to model, they are freaking hilarious and have a gorgeous rolly polly baby.  (I've had several rolly polly babies, so I know of what I speak.)  Their posts remind me that my money can help improve my life and give me more freedom to pursue things I love. I'm not sure where the appropriate balance will be for me, but I'll keep at it.  

P.S.- I realize in the grand scheme of things, with many people completely blindsided with lay offs or disabilities that have cut short their careers or those waiting out the shutdown with no income at all, our situation is comparatively just a tiny blip on the screen.  However, in my life right now it is a big deal.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Home Again, Home Again

This was my view for a lot of the last two weeks.  Flying to D.C., Virginia, Tennessee and Connecticut for nine days out of ten was a little tiring.  I enjoy traveling for work.  I'm able to see places I normally wouldn't get to visit, and I get to hear about great, really needed services being offered to victims of crime.  I have also confirmed my suspicions that I will never, ever tire of going out to eat.  : )

I've also realized how pitiful I am on my own.  I feel weird eating in restaurants alone, like everyone is staring at the poor lady with no friends.  It feels even weirder to sit and read while I eat or play on my phone, so I do an awkward take a bite, check my phone, put it down, look around and take another bite.

I also lose all sense of reason when I am alone.  The restaurant suggested to me in Tennessee was a country food buffet.  The waitress gave me the soup bowl and said salad plates were at the buffet.  At least that is what I thought she said.  The soup bowl was a weirdly large shallow bowl, but there were tiny red plates by the salad bar so I dished up some soup in the weirdly large shallow bowl.  I then fill up a tiny red plate with salad.  As I walk back to my table, I realize the weirdly large shallow bowls were actually for the people (like me) who bought the soup and salad bar only, and the tiny salad plates were for people who bought the whole country food buffet.  I then noticed the dark brown, blend into the dark brown container soup bowls that were for, you know, the soup.  I felt like an idiot the whole time I ate out of my giant bowl.

Then, in Connecticut, my hotel room's deadbolt was really difficult to close.  The strike plate was not lined up with the deadbolt so I had to push on the strike plate really hard to close the deadbolt. The second picture shows how the lock turned.

As soon as I checked in, I pushed in the strike plate and locked the dead bolt and unlocked it and all was well.  The next morning, I get dressed, go to the door and cannot unlock the door.  I tried to keep from panicking as I tried over and over to get the lock to turn. It would not budge, so I finally called the front desk and they promised to send someone up right away. I decided to try one more time.  For some reason, instead of unlocking the dead bolt, I pulled on the actual handle and it opened.  Of course.  I had to call the front desk again and tell them I had escaped.  Again, feeling like an idiot.  It is probably better for everyone that I am not traveling for the next six weeks or so.    

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Consequences of Procrastination

I've put off some required work travel for months and months.  It was with good reason, but with only a couple of weeks left in the fiscal year I am now facing the music.  I'll leave today for D.C. and Virginia, fly home Friday, and turn around to fly back out Sunday.  I generally enjoy traveling for work and I get to go to a lot of places I otherwise would probably never visit (hello, Akron).  I am not, however, looking forward to the next week and a half.  Four cities, five airports, and seven flights-  not my idea of a good time.

I also feel guilty and stressed being gone for some many days over the next two weeks. Hubs is completely supportive of my job duties, and he is every bit as capable as I am to handle the girls, but it still makes me nervous.  I typically handle the signing of daily school folders, help with homework, communicate with teachers, etc.  Will all this stuff get done while I am gone?  What have I forgotten to warn Hubs about?  It's a lot to worry about.  I do look forward to eating dinner in peace and watching HGTV at night without all the judging that goes on at home.  : )  Hope we all have a great week!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Weekend Recap

Do you ever feel like your "to do" list drags on forever and then suddenly you knock things out like gangbusters?  Yeah, me either.  Ha- I kid.  We've been unsatisfied with our front entrance area for a while. Hubs likes to buy things as he finds them.  I tend to wait until I know every single thing that will be in a space so I know it will all flow well together.  I've made some pretty regrettable designing choices in the past that I have no intention of reliving.  This almost always means nothing ever actually gets done, so it was extra satisfying to kick butt and take names this weekend.  

Warning- I am a terrible photographer.  I don't possess any skill in lighting, photo filtering, ensuring people don't have plants growing out of their heads, etc.  These photos will give you some idea what the heck I am talking about and that's about it.  

Our front door has those long side windows that were uncovered.  It brought a lot of light into the front entry, but it didn't lend itself to privacy- especially with the lights on at night.  I like to go downstairs for a late night snack and I may or may not like to put on pants.  Since the stairs end directly in front of these windows, it was in the best interest of the whole neighborhood to cover up.  (The windows, not me.)  I liked the look of curtains rather than blinds, so we just hung curtains over the whole thing.  The table and mirror is on the wall to the right of the front door.  

I LOVE this bench and map of Paris. Both came from TJ Maxx.  I generally like finding more unique items (as in not mass produced), but the map lets me daydream about my hopefully one day trip to Paris.  And the bench is actually comfy to sit and play Candy Crush Saga on my phone waiting on E to finish brushing her teeth every morning.

I really like the new rug.  I'm not sure that it "goes" with the pattern on the curtains, but it makes me happy and that is what really matters as far as I am concerned.  And just $50 for a 5x7 rug is a good deal in my book (on sale at Kirklands). Biscuit really loved the rug too, since he decided it was a perfect place to use as his bathroom the next day. He looks sorry, right?  Yeah, probably not so much.  Hubs hung the pretty little chandelier in front of the door.  He's an old hand at changing out lights, and I hid upstairs "doing laundry" so my arms weren't sore at all.  : )  

This sassy girl had her first Girl Scout meeting as a Brownie this weekend. I enjoy doing things with her troop, but I am especially glad that I am not Cookie Mom this year!  I've had the pleasure the last two years and wanted to share the joy with others.  If you buy Girl Scout cookies in the spring, just know that those cookies were lovingly picked up, counted and sorted by a Cookie Mom who is probably ready to lose her mind.  It was a busy but pretty good weekend. Hope yours was awesome too!  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

She's Twelve Going On Twenty- A Book Review

I was excited to receive She's Twelve Going on Twenty by Kim Camp.  The book is geared specifically as a Christ-centered guide for moms raising teens or preteens. Since my oldest daughter is about to turn twelve, I was really hoping to learn some new parenting strategies related to raising a tween.  However, I'm a little mixed on this book.

I liked that the book is divided into three separate sections related to Spirit, Soul and Body.  My brain can only fully focus on so many things, so it helps me to focus on a single aspect at a time.  I also liked that each chapter had practical suggestions for mom and daughters to discuss issues or do activities together.  An example was to listen to your daughter's favorite music and discuss with her the lyrics and themes of the music.  Since my daughter listens primarily to music we (the parents) have downloaded into iTunes, it reminded me to reconsider what music I listen to as well.

One thing I didn't love about this book is that the ideas are not necessarily new or innovative.  Not that they aren't good suggestions, but don't expect to hear much you haven't already heard.  Also, and maybe this is a reflection on me, but I would have found Ms. Camp more relatable if she didn't seem so...perfect.  I really appreciate the viewpoint of people who aren't perfect and share their mistakes. I relate to failure and regret, and I can't recall a single personal story in this book where Ms. Camp and/or her children were used as an example of what not to do.  Perhaps this was a conscious decision to protect her children's privacy.  In fairness, I understand Ms. Camp went through a divorce after the book was originally released and this version includes some updated advice relating to single moms as well as some personal notes. However, in all the examples of Ms. Camp as a teen herself or as a parent, she pretty consistently made all the right choices.  I realize this is kind of a weird criticism (too perfect- the horror!) and is probably a reflection of how imperfect I view myself, but I find it helpful for an author to say this is a mistake I made and what I learned.  

I don't strongly recommend buying this book, but it may be worth a try if you can get it for free or borrow a copy.  Even at over 280 pages, it is a pretty quick and easy read.

I received this book for free from Booksneeze.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Parenting Fail

I've been looking forward to this three day weekend for a while.  I had big, big plans and a long list of things to get done.  Saturday, we piled all the kids in the car and went shopping for some things to beautify our front entry.  E started complaining that her throat hurt and she was tired.  Let me preface this by saying E is not a big fan of shopping or walking.  Most shopping trips involve a fair amount of E complaints.  The whole time we were in Kirkland's, she complained her throat hurt. The whole time we walked around T.J. Maxx Home Goods, she complained her throat hurt.  We went to lunch and guess what? Yep, her throat hurt.  It was really annoying. I really think most of these kids complaints are just psychological warfare, meant to wear down my will to live.  Or discipline.  

Finally, I said, and I am quoting here, "Oh for God's sake, let me look in your throat".  Her throat was red and I saw the oh so familiar white spots on her tonsils.  What kind of kid complains relentlessly that her throat hurts?  A KID WITH STREP THROAT. Huge fail on my part.  And this, my friends, is the look of being judged and found wanting.

"I told you my throat hurt."

I took her to urgent care for a prescription and she feels a million times better now, but seriously, I couldn't bother looking in her throat the first hundred times she complained?  I felt terrible.  She has been spoiled a bit since, and her trouble sleeping means I got to snuggle her all night via being kicked and having arms slung in my face all night long.  I think I have served my penance.  Next time a kid complains about a sore throat, you better believe I'll check their throat.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday Was Better Than Sunday

I'm so excited to have received this book from Booksneeze.  

Not only does its delivery combine my love of books and non-bill related mail, I have high hopes it will help me not raise a Miley Cyrus.  I'm not sure G is as excited as I am.  She said, "It doesn't have a chapter on punishment, does it?".  Of course not.  Well, probably not.  I don't know- I haven't read it yet.  All I need to punish G is to take away her phone or make her hug a sister or something. 

E had a follow up appointment with her ENT to check her ear tubes.  While we waited, she let me take her picture.  It started out cute. 

Then she started chair dancing and it was funny.

Then it just got weird.

Sadly, E's doctor missed this spectacle.  She did, apparently, get to witness ear tubes clogged up with ear wax.  So clogged, it was pointless to check her hearing.  Gross.  We'll have to use some drops to clear it up and then come back in a couple of weeks.  Awesome.  I love taking time off from work to do the same appointment twice (eye roll).  At least I'll get to see more of E's sweet moves.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Weekend

Okay, it wasn't the worst weekend in the world.  No one died or was injured (though I did consider it), but it was unusually bad.  I'm not sure what happened with S on Saturday, but from waking up to falling asleep she was a nightmare.  Yelling, crying, door slamming- this was not the sweetie pie we usually see.  She insisted that G play school with her, and the entire time they "played" she was a mean, cranky bossy-pants. G gets some pleasure out of antagonizing her little sisters, so her "sorry, S" while giggling was not quite believable.  S told G to stop humming because it was annoying, and G said, "Your mom's annoying."  (We are Napoleon Dynamite fans and use Kip's line "Your mom goes to college" in numerous, disturbing ways.) Well, that just set S off again and we had to have an intervention.  She eventually calmed down but she was prickly until she fell asleep watching a movie.

Whatever S had Saturday, I am pretty sure I had it Sunday.  If you have ever lived with other people, perhaps you can relate.  I can walk around for days, if not weeks, and tolerate a certain level of clutter. Then one day, I just can't take it one more second and anyone who created the clutter is in my cross hairs.    How am I the only person who sees toys strewn all over the floor, dirty cups left out, or (most annoying) bits of trash two inches away from the freaking trash can?! Toys and books get left in the middle of the floor. On eo four dogs, Biscuit, likes to chew up both so then I have to pick up bits of toy or paper strewn around my room or under my bed.  I am so sick and tired of cleaning up after other people.  I may have yelled.  Okay, I yelled.  I follow The Orange Rhino and I try to yell a lot less, but I was at the end of my rope.  I felt guilty and like a terrible parent.  On the plus side, the girls cleaned the playroom and their bathroom and we all ate cookies.  At the end of a long, trying weekend, the girls had the audacity to gang up on me and tell they want another little sister/brother.  I have never been so happy for a Monday morning to roll around.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mother/Daughter Book Club

I leave today for a work trip to North Carolina.  The flight from Atlanta will be short, but I'll probably have hours to kill just waiting in the airport.  Given a choice of sitting at my gate two hours early and running through the terminal to make my flight- let me just say I frequently have time to eat a meal, run down the battery on my phone and use the bathroom seven times while waiting to board.

I wasn't able to run to the library so I asked G if she had any books I might enjoy.  Dumb question- G brought me a stack of books.  She strongly recommended Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I passed because I've seen the movies and isn't that good enough?  G said, "You should really read these.  You never remember who the characters are or the plot.  It's not good, Mom".  Sad face. I still passed.  I know lots of grown people love these books, but I am not reading these tween books in public.  Sorry.  Another suggestion was a book on little known facts about U.S. Presidents.  It sounded cool until G read me an example that some President (John Adams?) liked to skinnydip.  PASS.  And eww.  

These are the three books I chose as possibilities.

Chew On This chronicles the evils of fast food.  Maybe it will compel me to eat in a more healthy manner (AKA fewer delicious french fries).  Museum of Thieves is about, well, after reading the back I am still not sure what it is about but it has potential.  Finally, The Space Tourist's Handbook gives advice on what to expect when traveling in space (as if).  I have a feeling the section titled "How to Appear Sane in the Psychological Exam" will be of most practical use for me.  And my new issue of "Allure" because, come on, I need to keep with trends in makeup I rarely wear and fall fashions I probably won't get around to buying.  A girl can dream... 

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Love Technology

As Kip so eloquently sings in Napoleon Dynamite, I love technology.  It admittedly freaked me out a bit to have a child old enough to carry a cell phone, given how ridiculously young I seem. (Young- immature, potato- patattah, people)  However, texting has opened a whole new world for me.  I've trained G to text me when she's bored waiting on the bus after school.  She thinks she is burning up time, but secretly it helps me keep tabs on when her bus is on the move. Side note- if anyone ever hacks our texts, there may be some disturbing conversations.  And inappropriate use of emoticons.  And maybe some yo mama jokes.  It's also an easy way to talk to people without actually having to talk to them.  Or get up.  I may or may not have also texted Hubs to bring me a cup of milk upstairs.  In my defense, I was cozy in bed and he was going to walk right through the kitchen when he came home.

The downside of texting is that G texts ALL THE TIME.  She and her BFF JP text in the morning before school starts, and all evening until bedtime.  Keep in mind they have four classes together at school.  What the heck are they talking about all the time?! We went to dinner Friday night and every time I looked over at G, she was giggling at her phone.  I told Hubs it was like JP came to dinner with us, but we didn't have to pay for his food.  I hope for his parent's sake that JP also has an unlimited texting plan.

The younger girls obviously don't have phones, but they can work a laptop or iPad like a pro.  Even my four year old can get to her shows on Netflix without help.  Thank goodness for Netflix- it entertains my girls when I need time to clean, or put away laundry, or possibly veg out watching HGTV alone in my room.  The shows they watch are perfectly normal kid shows, which means they are like torture to me.  They watch the same crap for days then switching to a different kind of crap.  I've been forced to hear the theme song to "A.N.T. Farm", "Shake It Up", and some weirdo Australian mermaid show hundreds of times in a month.  If you aren't familiar with these shows, count yourself very lucky.  I guess the trade off for kids being entertained is the grownups want to jam an icepick in their ears.  However, it is a price I am willing to pay for a hour's worth of peace.  Well played, Netflix kids zone.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Birthday Weekend

Friday was my 37th birthday.  To celebrate, I took the day off from work and headed into Atlanta to Scott's Antique Market.  I have desperately wanted to go to this monthly market for three years but the weekends kept getting booked up with nonsense.  Like we really need to buy groceries or spend quality family time together.  Sheesh.  What better time to go than my birthday?  With my complimentary birthday Starbucks Iced Caramel Macchiato in hand (super yum), my socks were immediately blown off.  Beautiful accent tables, fine art, jewelry and rugs as far as the eye could see.  Immediate love.

I would love this bench in our front entry way.  I'm a sucker for the church pew look- have no idea why given how extremely uncomfortable it is to sit on a wooden church pew for an hour.

And this table would look fab almost anywhere. There were tons of similar tables with marble, wood or metal tops.  

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to bring any of these treasures home, though I am pretty sure I spent thousands of dollars in my head.  I'm already plotting how to get Hubs to go next month.

In what is simultaneously kind of cute and a giant pain in the butt, S's birthday is the day after mine.  The only gift she wanted from us was an American Girl doll.  No real shopping or gift wrapping?  Done.  We drove into Alpharetta for an early dinner at American Girl Bistro and to let S pick her doll.  If you have never experienced the American Girl store and/or bistro, everything is pink.  There are high chairs for the dolls and if a kid doesn't have a doll, you can borrow one for the meal.  You aren't going to get out of there for less than $15 a person and you'll hear the "Happy Birthday" song approximately twenty-eight times.  S and the girls liked it and it was perfectly fine, but not how I would choose to spend my Saturday night.  S was thrilled to get her doll's ears pierced (seriously).  They took the doll into a back room and brought her out with earrings jammed in a minute later.  It was kind of creepy.  What goes on in that room?  I assume seeing how they pierce ears would be too traumatizing for small children to witness.  Regardless, it made S very happy and I am pleased to report that she is still playing with her doll two days later.  : )  Thank God there isn't another birthday until November.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For some reason, my 11 year old doesn't appreciate my annual singing of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" while we walk through the school supply section of any store.  I love everything about the girls starting back to school: the smell of new pencils, fresh notebooks, the classroom newsletters every Friday.  I especially love the feeling of order and routine.  I work full-time, so even in the summer they are gone all day at camp.  However, to keep up the "fun factor", summer camp likes to switch it up every day with a field trip or water day.  On school days, it is a simple eat breakfast, brush your teeth and get out of here kind of morning.

These sassy girls started school back yesterday.  I cannot believe I have a middle school-er, a second grader and a pre-K-er.  I was a little sad to see even the baby go off to a real structured class, but then I thought about how much money I am saving by her attending a free-ish pre-K program and I felt better (thanks, Georgia lottery).  I've been the most "emotional" about G starting sixth grade.  I'm so proud of her and excited for her, but part of me wants to scoop her up and make her snuggle me again.  (She won't- I've tried.)  In the last couple of weeks, she has gotten her first cell phone and contacts so she just seems so much older to me now.  She's also riding the school bus for the first time.  I know millions of kids do that every day, but it is a big deal to me.  So much independence!  She's probably going to move into her own apartment any day now.

G came home really jazzed up about her first day and it sounds like it went really well.  The cafeteria has a salad bar!  Yay!  She spent all day with best friend then came home and texted him all evening. Yay!  Middle school is a really weird balance of figuring out how much can I influence her and how much does she need to make her own decisions.  For example, I think she would be well served to take Spanish as an elective; she is more interested in music technology.  Not major life decisions, but we are clearly entering new territory.  Scary, scary territory.  As long as she is happy, keeps her grades up, and keeps rolling those eyes when I ask about any cute boys, mama is happy.  : )

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron- Book Review

I'm not generally a big fan of Christian fiction, but Chasing Francis piqued my interest.  First of all, I love the cover (I'm a bit of a cover snob).  Second of all, the story takes place largely in Italy- sign me up! Chasing Francis is the story of Pastor Chase Falson, the leader of a megachurch in New England.  After a tragedy, Chase has a huge crisis of front of his entire church.  The church elders "invite" Chase to take some time off to reassess his commitment to God and the church.  With few options, Chase goes to visit his uncle, a Franciscan priest in Italy.  He begins a reluctant study of Saint Francis of Assisi that quickly becomes a huge revelation for Chase.  Ian Cron weaves the life of Francis of Assisi throughout Chase's story in a really interesting way.  The supporting characters add a lot of depth, and Chase's struggle is so realistically described, I was really rooting for him to find happiness and peace.  I highly recommend this book.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Surprises

Hubs and I planned a grownups night out Saturday for a belated anniversary dinner.  The kids were excited to go get their gymnastics on while we enjoyed some kid free conversation.  Then the gymnastics place cancelled their Parents Night Out.  Apparently, they don't really want to open the facility and put on a whole big thing when only eight kids register.  Weird.

No problem.  We'll take the kids to dinner with us.  We planned to go to one of our favorite restaurants with a piano player.  We figured it was a good opportunity for the girls to get a little more experience with finer dining and enjoy some music.  Now we have eaten at this place numerous times and always been seated right away.  I even questioned if we should make a reservation this time and said, "Nah. We never need reservations." Kiss of death.  They were completely booked up.  Of course.

Now, this restaurant is in "historic" Buford where there are cute businesses and shops but precious few dinner selections.  As we are standing on the sidewalk, contemplating where to go, we notice a table with what looks like menus posted several doors down.  It turned out to be a restaurant neither of us had ever noticed and a server came out on the sidewalk to invite us in.  We must have looked really pathetic.  :  )  Long story short(ish), we ended up having a wonderful meal and good conversation as a family.  It was completely not the evening I had envisioned but it turned out really well.  Many times I feel disappointed when things, even small things like dinner, don't work out the way I think they will or should.  I focus so much energy on what I am not getting, I miss out on what is right there.  I am so glad I was able to enjoy the happy surprise of dinner with my family in a new favorite restaurant.  Have you ever had an experience that wasn't what you expected or planned, but turned into a happy surprise?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today is my fifteen year wedding anniversary.  Fifteen years.  How can this be?  When I was younger, I remember my parents or friends parents being married fifteen years and it seemed sooooo long.  They also seemed really old, so I guess that says a lot about how your perspective changes.  I will turn 37 in a couple of weeks and let me tell you- 40 seems a WHOLE lot younger than it used to.

The last fifteen years have gone by in a minute and lasted 100 years at the same time.  We share three beautiful daughters and one beautiful son now in heaven. We've moved seven times and will probably move as many times again in the coming years.  Hubs puts up with my indecisiveness and worry and obsessive HGTV watching.  I put up with his "talking out loud", which means he gives me frequent heart attacks by suggesting something outrageous/impossible/horribly expensive, then says he didn't really mean it, he was just talking out loud about it. 

You know those people that brag about how they have the most wonderful, perfect marriage ever and they could live forever just on their love?  I hate those people.  We've had great years and hard years, but I am thankful for every year we have had together.  We're in a good year now, just so you don't worry. 
: )  We really aren't big on making a big fuss about our anniversary but we may have dinner this weekend or something.  Hubs is actually on a work trip and won't be home until tomorrow so obviously we aren't doing anything today anyway.  I hope we have a lot more years together, and that I can drag him to my dream vacation in Italy and France one day!  Happy anniversary, Hubs!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook- Book Review

Growing up in a conservative Christian church, I am well versed in the stereotypes about preacher's kids.  People divide preacher's kids ("PKs") into two groups: the pious youth group leader destined to be a preacher or preacher's wife, or the highly rebellious kid who will probably end up in jail. Luckily, my sister and I only rose to the rank of Deacon's Kid (DK) and escaped the strict scrutiny bestowed on PKs or slightly lesser Elder's Kids.  : )

Firsthand is written by Ryan and Josh Shook, a couple of PKs. The book describes how they had a working knowledge of the Bible and faith concepts growing up in the church, but realized in college that they did not have a genuine faith of their own. This book is about the eventual need for every Christian to question what they believe and develop their own individual relationship with Jesus.  The Shook brothers provide examples from their lives and other real person accounts, thought provoking questions and practical suggestions of how to find your own faith.  This would be a great read for a young Christian (age or walk with Jesus) to really consider what they believe.  It was a little light (in my opinion) for some of the issues I struggle with faith-wise, but I would definitely let my 11 year old read it now or as she gets older.

If you want more information on this book, you can check out this description or Ryan Shook's website.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books to read and review, but all opinions expressed are my own.   

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pigeon Forge Recap

After last week's vacation in Pigeon Forge, I was half-way ready to go back to work and half-way trying to figure out how to a professional vacationer.  Unlike a Disney World vacation, I did not want to walk 5000 miles and fall into bed exhausted every night.  I think we did a fairly good job of balancing fun activities and relaxation.  We rented a two bedroom condo at the River Stone Resort and Spa.  It was fantastic and I highly recommend it if you are ever in Pigeon Forge.  We entered our condo through a screened in front porch that led to the real front door.  The condo was super clean and well stocked with towels, kitchen needs (plates, cups, pots, etc.) and we had a back balcony overlooking the golf course.  No bowl of fruit awaited our arrival, but E didn't even notice (of course).  Dollywood and the Dollywood water park are just two miles up the street past the resort (we did not go) BUT Dollywood set off fireworks every night at 9:30 and we could easily see them from our back balcony.  I love fireworks so it is possible I was the most excited and made everyone else sit through it.  Every night.  The only thing I would say was slightly misleading about the resort's website pictures (in a good way) is it doesn't really show how close it is to the main strip.  Just turn left out of the parking lot, go about 50 yards and boom! You are right in all the restaurants, shops and touristy attractions.

I took almost no pictures on this trip.  I prefer to think of it as enjoying the moment and capturing memories in my head rather than being a terrible mother who doesn't preserve precious memories.  Beyonce just scolded an Atlanta concert-goer for filming her concert instead of experiencing it, so I feel Bey would back me up on this.  The pictures I did manage to take were largely eating at Mellow Mushroom.  Aren't we adorable?

I don't even know who these people are. How did they end up at my table?

This is what happens when you let a four year old take pictures: you look like a sleepy troll just awoken from your slumber. And you aren't happy about it.

This is what happens when two divas want to record a song and their big sis brings not one, but two berets on vacation.  They sang "Trouble" by Taylor Swift.  Because obviously a six year old and four year old don't tolerate all that relationship drama.

There is a ton of family fun in Pigeon Forge and nearby Gatlinburg.  Hubs, G and S went to MagiQuest, a wizarding adventure game (or as E called it, the Nerd Castle), and we all did some black light minigolf, mirror mazes, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, Guinness World Records Museum, and lots of candy and ice cream shops.  Of all the things we did, the girls liked the resort lazy river and pool the most.  Seriously.  I drove more than three hours for the girls to beg to swim at the condo.  I could have walked the 200 yards to our neighborhood pool, but whatever.

Lest you imagine this was a perfect Norman Rockwell vacation, let's keep it real.  The Friday before we left, E came home with suspicion of lice (a kid in her class had full blown lice).  Lice treatment kits all around!  S suffered throughout the trip with what we hoped and prayed was a nickel allergy reaction to earrings.  Once the blisters spread over her face and body we had to accept that it was probably something more serious, and the urgent care place confirmed a type of bacterial infection on Sunday (she's doing a thousand times better now). We can add mirror maze, black light mini-golf, Ripley's anything, and pretend wizarding to the list of things E finds terrifying (i.e., cries and needs to be carried throughout).  And to cap it off, the same hairpin turn filled road through the Smoky Mountain National Park that was so breathtakingly beautiful on the way to Tennessee caused three children to feel car sick on the way home. Two barfed.  It was not awesome. However, it was overall a great vacation and we really needed a week off. And today I finally received my Pigeon Forge visitor's guide so if you need any info on the area, I'm your girl!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why Can't We Be Friends?

When the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial came down Saturday night, there was an immediate and impassioned reaction among my Facebook friends.  Some of my friends were outraged at the verdict, appalled by the Florida "stand your ground" law in general, and decried the entire justice system as racist. Other friends expressed sympathy for Zimmerman and argued he should not have been tried in the first place.  It doesn't surprise me that my friends could have completely contradictory perspectives.  I've seen similar differences in opinion over Paula Deen, elections and a host of other hot topics.  As long as people have brains and opinions, I expect them to vehemently disagree.   

What did surprise me was when a friend announced that anyone not in line with her particular stance was going to be "unfriended" on Facebook.  Is it really so terrible to have dialogue with people you disagree with?  How do we learn other perspectives if we refuse to listen to the people who have them?  As the years have passed, Hubs and I have grown further apart on some political and social issues but we don't stop talking about things.  I just accept his wrongness and hope my rightness rubs off (ha!).

I acknowledge there are some positions that are so offensive to me, I would not maintain a friendship with someone who held those views.  For example, if you support pedophilia, don't bother sending a friend request.  Other issues are a little less clear cut.  Where do we draw the line?  If someone has a less "evolved" viewpoint than you do, are they someone who can learn from you?  Or are they such a raving loon you can't associate with them?  Perhaps my friend was referring specifically to people expressing views she found reprehensible, but it wasn't entirely clear.  Don't get me wrong; I have embraced the joys of hiding people from my news feed.  However, I hide people because I get tired of reading what they are doing every half hour or because they post a selfie that looks exactly like the selfie they posted yesterday.  I haven't yet actually unfriended someone.  Would you unfriend someone who had vastly different political/religious/social views?  When would you unfriend someone?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Funny People in Unfunny Roles

I like to laugh and have a good time, but I am also a sucker for dark, quirky or just plain sad movies.  What could be greater than watching people who are usually funny in movies that are decidedly not funny?  It's like my own weirdo version of peanut butter and chocolate (like a Reese's peanut butter cup). Because PB&J is disgusting. Because grape jelly is disgusting. See where I'm going with this?

Anywho, let's start with Will Ferrell.  Seriously funny man.  One of my family's favorite movies is "Elf", mainly because Will Ferrell's Buddy is so believably sweet and naive and unintentionally hilarious.  My four year old, E, loves to impersonate Buddy's first trip on an escalator.  Sometimes she does this on an actual escalator in front of a store full of people.  Awkward.  Will Ferrell's trip to the serious side was in the movie "Everything Must Go".  He plays a down and out alcoholic who loses his wife and job in the same day, and decides to sell everything he owns in a yard sale.  I was kind of surprised how well Will played someone I sympathized with even when he was a real jerk.  I really enjoyed the movie and think Will could do some more serious roles if he wanted.
Everything Must Go (2010) Poster
While Pam on "The Office" wasn't the most obviously hilarious character, I feel pretty confident that Jenna Fischer is a pretty funny lady.  Anyone who can balance out Steve Carell probably has some comedy chops. "The Giant Mechanical Man" is a great example of the odd, quirky movies I like.  If you don't like this movie, you will probably hate my taste in entertainment.  "The Giant Mechanical Man" is one of those stories where a character is so down trodden, I want to jump through the screen and shake her and say, "Stand up for yourself, lady!".  And then she does, and all is right with the world. Jenna's character, Janice, is a bit of a lost soul trying to find her way when she meets another kindred spirit.  This story of finding your own way, even if the path is outside the norm, just warmed my cold little heart.  : )
The Giant Mechanical Man (2012) Poster
John Krasinski, another veteran of "The Office", did not fare as well.  I really wanted to like "Nobody Walks", I really did. John plays Peter, who agrees to help an aspiring film maker finish her art film.  Maybe I too deeply associate John Krasinski with Jim because more than once I thought, "Jim! What are you doing!?", or maybe the movie just wasn't that great.  I can't really say a whole lot about it without giving away spoilers; to be honest, not much happened in this movie.  I will say Peter makes poor choices and I like Jim much better.
Nobody Walks (2012) Poster
Now that I think about it, Will Ferrell was technically on "The Office" for at least a few episodes.  Hmm, that was completely unintentional.  Do you like seeing funny people in serious roles, or does it just weird you out?

Monday, July 8, 2013


We leave today for what E keeps calling "bay-cation".  Since SOME people insisted on growing up and won't fit in a pack and play anymore, it gets a little more complicated to make hotel arrangements that don't involve paying for two rooms.  They should really provide warnings to people before having a third child.  "Warning: changing from a family of four to a motley crew of five incurs substantially more expense!"  Enter the condo.  We went with a two bedroom condo with two king beds and a fold out sofa. All three girls could fit in the bed if they want, but G is also claiming the sofa as a back up plan.  The resort has a lazy river with waterfalls, indoor pool and hot tub, playground, and game room. And yet, of all the photos online, this is the one that has held E's attention for over a week.
Courtesy of

No, she does not love kitchens in particular, or stainless steel or even eating at the counter.  The item in this photo that has her captivated: the bowl of fruit.  For a week, I have fielded questions such as "Is there going to be a bowl of fruit in our room?", "If there is fruit, will it be real or plastic?" and "If they don't have fruit, will you take me to the store to buy some fruit?".  Really.  I had no idea that all of E's expectations could be met by a simple bowl of fruit.  I wish I'd known this before I shelled out for a condo.

We'll be enjoying a week of cheesy family fun and relaxation. Hope you have a great week too!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Cloudy skies all day long
So apparently fireworks and pouring down rain don't mix, so no fireworks show for us tonight.  E and I are most disappointed.  The upside of constant rain is I didn't feel at all guilty about getting very little done today. I starting watching season 1 of "Once Upon A Time" this week and may or not be a wee bit addicted.  Hope you have a wonderful holiday and are as busy or relaxed as you hoped for!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Francis: Man of Prayer by Mario Escobar- book review

Mario Escobar has written numerous books and articles on church history, sectarian groups, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas.  It may be this background of writing historical accounts that made this biography feel more like an encyclopedia entry than a personal account of Pope Francis.  This biography is well written if you are looking for a factual background on Pope Francis from the beginnings of his theological studies through his election to Pope. However, I was hoping for a more personal account of the man who became Pope that showed his personality or how he has arrived at setting certain priorities for his leadership over the Catholic Church.  I am not Catholic and some of the terminology used and descriptions of certain church activities in this book were unclear to me.  Pope Francis' apparent concern for the poor and shunning some traditional papal benefits, such as traditional robes and housing, make his a very interesting person to me. I was a little disappointed that this book did not delve more into these personal attributes.

I received this book for free from Book Sneeze for my review, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Running On Empty

Surprise! I'm still alive...but just barely. I had a fantastic time on vacation with my sister and tried to persuade Hubs and the kids to move immediately to Seattle. Unfortunately, G found out she is the same classes as her best friend this fall and is very resistant to leaving him behind. Oh well. I still crave the scallop chowder from Pike Place Chowder and it will be a very sad day when I run out of the smoked salt I brought back from the market. A very sad day indeed.

Was I able to slowly get back in the swing of things in my post-vacation bliss state? Of course not. I started working on the major work project of my year and because of my complete under-estimation of the time and effort it would take, managed to give myself several small heart attacks and weeks of sleeplessness. I am finally toward the end of the tunnel and can get back to thinking about things unrelated to work. Hallelujah.
After all, I still have 200 pictures of Seattle to unload from my phone.

For people who work full-time and/or have kids in camp all day, the summer should not really feel different from any other time of the year. And yet, it seems like drastically more work.  Maybe it is because camp has a field trip, or picnic, or water day every week that requires me to keep up with who needs to take swimsuits or wear their day care t-shirt on any given day. Maybe the kids are weirdly less tired when they come home from camp and want more attention. Or maybe it is because the girls are naturally suspicious when I insist it is bedtime but the sun it still up. I mean, come on- it is summer in Georgia.  The sun doesn't go down until my bedtime.

Side story- E insisted on wearing her bathing suit to day care for water day last week. WITHOUT CLOTHES OVER IT.  I let my four year old walk into class in a bathing suit and sneakers. All the adults that passed us smiled and nodded and said, "I wouldn't want to fight that fight either". E's friend SM, on the other hand, was scandalized. She ran to me, mouth agape, and yelled "E can't walk around in her bathing suit! She has got to put clothes on!" Tell me about it, SM, tell me about it.

Other side note- I just went to tell G good night and she was listening to talk radio in her bed. I asked what the show was about and she said "portfolios". Like financial portfolios? Yep. My kids are so weird.

Friday, May 24, 2013

TGIF squared

Friday is one of the most exciting days of the week for obvious weekend anticipation reasons. Today is even more exciting because I leave tomorrow morning for a little sister's vacay in Seattle. Take an incredibly busy and hard week at work, add a sick kid, and throw in some whole house cleaning for weekend visitors and you see why I am ready to board that plane. 

If I were staying home this weekend, I would be all over the release of Arrested Development season four on Netflix Sunday. And yes, I would probably watch all thirteen episodes before the end of the holiday. I may be a Bluth at heart, which is equally exciting and disturbing. 

My only break would be to watch the season two premiere of Longmire on A & E Monday night at 10 pm EST.  I recently watched the first season on Netflix and am really excited to not have to wait a million years until the next season. Longmire  is a crime drama about a sheriff in the (beautiful) wilds of small town Wyoming. It is based on the "Walt Longmire" mystery series that I have not read, but may give a go since the show is so good. I will say for such a small town, there is a lot of crime going on.  Western style shows are typically not my thing, but this show has really grabbed my attention. If you need another reason to watch: Lou Diamond Phillips as Walt's best friend. Boom. Good acting and easy on the eyes. : ) 

I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day. As I was reminded by a cartoon posted on Facebook (this is how I receive all my life lessons), it is not National BBQ Day. A big thank you to anyone who has ever served in the military and the families that support them. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Men Down! (Mad Men, that is)

Perhaps I did not sleep well last night, or maybe having my plans to get some major work done today interrupted by a strep throat inflicted child has made me a wee bit meaner today. Either way, I watched last night's Mad Men episode this morning, and I believe my sister eloquently summed it up with her email, saying quote "WTF?"".  (NOTE: If you have not watched Mad Men up to and including last night's episode, look away. Look away I tell you! There are spoilers ahead.)

First of all, the fact that I chose to go to bed rather than stay up to watch the episode as it aired should be a sign of how I feel about this season. The first episode of the season was boring and confusing. People (Bob) appeared out of nowhere with no explanation of who they were or what they do. The next few episodes seemed like an improvement to me. It was on its way back! I was so excited! I was a fool.

Don keeps having flashbacks to his childhood and acts like a sad sack about Sylvia. Does he even really like her, or is he just that resistant to not being in control? Am I the only one that hoped it really was Arnold Rosen on the phone, just to see how Don would handle that confrontation? Peggy learns (again) that her office mates are not remotely suitable romantic interests. And how creepy is Harry Hamlin's character? His contributions so far are gross voyeurism and bringing in the questionable doctor. While the old school Sterling Cooper office drunkenness had a certain juvenile charm, the new firm's atmosphere is just over the top to me. I'm pretty sure the only "vitamins" in those injections were vitamins D, R, U, G and S. And what on earth was the point of "Grandma Ira"? To show that Don is so busy putting work first, his kids are in danger when left alone? Well, duh. Name a time Don't work (or Don) didn't come first to Don. The best thing about this episode was the complete lack of Pete. I feel like this season is kind of flying off the rails.

Take note, Matthew Weiner. Here is what I want to see more of: Strong, confident Don. Not sad Don, or super icky S&M Don, just ad man Don who saves accounts on the fly. Way more comic relief (and silver foxiness) of Roger. More Joan and Peggy as strong, professional women working in a man's world. More Betty IF you show her as more complex and not a shrew harpy all the time. If I never see Megan, Pete or Harry again, that is fine by me. I appreciate the complexity of the relationships and the personal struggles of each character, but I'd also like to get back to the ad campaigns and pitch meetings. I think seeing Dawn's life outside of work would be an interesting reflection of what she faced during this time period, but otherwise I'd really like to see more of the actual work. You know, the advertising?

Am I alone here? Is anyone just loving the season more than anything?

P.S. Having seen the white tonsils and smelled the distinctive "sick breath" in our house about a thousand times over the last few years, I feel qualified to diagnose strep throat. I wish I could just call in a prescription and skip the office visit that will only tell me what I already know. If E turns out not to have strep, I will eat my hat.

Updated to add: If I had a hat, I would have to eat it! Test came back negative for strep. Guessing it is a virus so just more rest and fever reducer if needed. Daddy bought her lots of popsicles and ice cream so E is living it up.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Flashback Friday

This was G on her first day of first grade, way back in 2008. Today, we will celebrate the end of fifth grade. We've attended a parent orientation for middle school and G went on a tour of the school a few weeks ago. The adorable little girl in the photo is now 11 years old, almost taller than me, and sometimes accidentally wears my jeans to school. I feel very proud and incredibly old at the same time.

Milestones like this make me reminisce about when my babies were actual babies and things I did when I was their age. I grew up in what G enjoys referring to as "back in the nineteen hundreds" (the 1980's to be exact). Over the weekend, I was listing the popular 80's movies or TV shows that I somehow missed out on in my youth and the list was disturbingly long. Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, St. Elmo's Fire, The Goonies, Gremlins, and any Star Wars movie somehow escaped my viewing. In my defense, I did at least watch Dirty Dancing a thousand times and Judd Nelson from Breakfast Club was super hot to my young self. I made the mistake of mentioning that I had never once watched "Miami Vice" not realizing that Netflix has numerous seasons. Hubs immediately played an episode for me, and let me tell you- that show was perhaps the biggest cheese fest ever. I can't believe that show was popular, or that some boys adopted the pastel jacket look. Maybe it was awesome at the time but somehow I don't think so.

Since I will be all nostalgic today, I'll share some movies/TV shows from the good old days of my youth that are available on Netflix. Note: Netflix did not sponsor this post. They do not know I exist. I just get 90% of my entertainment from Netflix.

TV sitcoms: "Cheers", "Family Ties", "Frasier", "Freaks and Geeks", "Miami Vice", "Quantum Leap", "Saved By the Bell" ( I won't tell if you watch), "Wings" and a ton of "Saturday Night Live" episodes and special "Best Of..." versions.

Movies: Clue, Clueless, Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Heathers, Pretty in Pink, and Teen Wolf.

Perhaps I'll watch some of these this weekend to recapture my youth. After today, I'll probably need it. Have a great weekend!