Friday, December 28, 2007

Another exhausting day ...

Such an innocent face, such a sweet disposition, such a loving young lady; what in the world could cause her to be so unhappy? Perhaps an absent parent, perhaps a protective mother, perhaps the absence of a best friend, perhaps the teasing of family members about her weight. Whichever of these causes, I am hoping we will be able to find a way to make it all work for her. We've talked at great length and we have some talking to do with others involved, but bottom line, she has to learn to have confidence in herself and learn how to choose to do what is best for her emotional and physical health.

Last night as we fell asleep, our eyes were swollen from the tears, our heads ached from the crying and all of the thinking that had to be done, and at the end of the night we were both praying to avoid getting a migraine headache. Neither of us needed that added to the stress of the days events! Perhaps tonight will be a better nights rest ... at least one can believe for the best!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Does Your Sink Stink?

Some sinks stink and some sinks sink, but Kohler sinks make one think that perhaps now might be the right time for a new sink, you think? Mine stinks, not literally, but it has no real appeal, dull, drab, fake porcelain top glued to a fake wood cabinet. Sounds great, right? Not even great! I'll be glad when the landlord starts fixing things around this house that are in dire need of repair, and as you can see from this picture the wall looks worse than the sink. In fact, the sink looks pretty good compared to the wall. Oh well, until then I'll do my best to dress it up a bit. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Play on Words Video

What do remembering things on a day-to-day basis and a memory foam mattress have in common? Check out this video assignment to see what I mean:

"Remembering With Memory Foam Mattress"

Thanks to Ryan, Jennifer, and "Mr.D" for all of your help in making this video possible, without you it would have been much more difficult a task.

Hope you all enjoy!

Comments and suggestions are always welcome!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Travel Proves Hard Drive

Although this holiday season will be warmer in the south than that of my friend in Massachusetts and a lot less snowy, the traveling for my boyfriend will seem a lot more tedious. After spending several days here with us on the east coast he will travel southwest to GA to see his children for the holidays and then back home to western NC. Why then is this a hard drive?

Well, as we continue to age the idea of having to travel an extra fifteen hours over a weeks time on top of the nearly 15 driven all week to and from work tends to wear on a body! All of the sitting tends to make the ride hard or hard on the bottom ... LOL! I wonder if a foam seat cushion would ease the ride?

Perhaps he'll find something special under the tree this year from a certain KrisMsElf! He is not only a great dad, he's a wonderful boyfriend! We're so glad to have him come visit, because every visit is a holiday when we are together!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What do I want for my birthday? Sheepskins Boots!

Tomorrow is my birthday, and yes I am up way too late thinking about the holidays, tasks that need to be completed over the next few days, and what I want for my birthday. Why? Well, my parents asked me what I wanted and I told them I needed a new pair of shoes for work. However with the weather being colder lately, and our office being drafty, I've been eying a sweet looking pair of sheepskin boots! Ahh ... the thought of my feet being snuggled up warmly in those boots is such a comforting idea. Now, if only I could find a sheepskin seat cover for my desk chair, I'd have it made!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Las Vegas or Atlantic City?

Where would you go in the off season? Some of the ladies from work spend part of their spare time each year visiting casinos in Atlantic City and in Las Vegas. It seems they enjoy the east coast casinos in the fall before tax season and the casinos out west in the early spring as tax season winds down. Imagine spending your nights in a room which oversees the local scenery in one of the posh hotels in Las Vegas courtesy of the casino. The night lights would be an awesome sight to behold, at least for this east coast girl. I wonder; have they already planned a trip to Las Vegas for this coming spring? I'd love to go with them!

Who knows? Maybe I'd even see Elvis!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A day at Grandma & Grandpa's ...

Friday night Lisa (my eldest daughter) and Steve (her husband) came down from their home in Virginia to visit before the holidays, since they will be spending them in the mountains to go snowboarding! How fun is that?! Will ask her to send some pictures of their trip for everyone to enjoy. When they arrived we promptly got things set up for a good night's rest.

Saturday morning, as soon as everyone was ready we headed to my parent's house. When we arrived we fixed some lunch and then headed out to work. Since my dad had surgery last week to repair a hernia he was not allowed to do anything strenuous for a while. Mom had mentioned that he had been talking about how bad the yard looked with all of the leaves on the ground, so our visit was two-fold, to visit and to clean up the yard. As you can see in the picture below we finished it off just in time for Bubby's visit.

Jennifer had been practicing with her color guard rifle when he arrived and so he just had to play with it too! Jenn and David (Bubby's dad) are in the background watching on, while Ryan and Lisa take it easy as Sheriff Bubby talks to them about his new job as an officer. He is such a serious little man! As the youngest of three great-grandchildren, he is nearly 3 1/2 years old and a very bright young man. His favorite thing to do when he comes to visit my parents now, is to ask his uncle Greg to show him his computer. Greg plays games online and Bubby thinks that is just too cool!

Before we left Mom & Dad took us out the the workshop and proceeded to pass along some Christmas decorations for the house and yard to us kids and grandkids. It was perfect timing as Lisa was about to go shopping for tins to package up her annual "Christmas Cookies" gifts. She makes the best "Pumpkin" cookies! We also picked out some boxes to store our ornaments in after the holidays are over. Jennifer showed up and chose the lighted sleigh and reindeer for our front yard this year. As we were about to leave Mom took Ryan aside and gave him the pedestal "fog lamp" out of the living room; he was so surprised! I can see it now ... black light ... fog lamp ... playing his electric guitar ... his own private rock and roll stage!

This time Lisa & Steve they managed to see not only Grandma & Grandpa, but also those uncles and youngest cousin Lisa usually misses. Today was a good one for everyone. We got to visit, share a meal, work together, play and laugh, and share our love for each other. Here in the photograph to the left are Bubby, Lisa and Sandra (Neal's fiancée), and Jennifer, Neal, Ryan, and Steve.

When we arrived home from our visit with the grandparents, we settled in for a home cooked meal, a surprise birthday cake and present, and a movie. Time for some rest, we've a Christmas parade tomorrow and it's supposed to be 70 degrees!

Where is "old man winter?" Shhhhhhh!

PS We miss you "Mr.D" ;)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Sweeney Todd" in Theaters Dec. 21st & on MySpace now!

Yes, that's right! Only 14 more days before its debut and we are so excited! If you can't wait until the 21st to see the movie, you can visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace and familiarize yourself with the cast of characters and get a glimpse into all of the wicked excitement.

Just two weeks from now Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd is opening in theaters around the country. Rated "R" its not a warm and fuzzy feeling, compassionate film for the entire family to see preceding the holidays, yet it remains to be a highly anticipated performance starring Johnny Depp. In this film he portraits a young man who is arrested, tried, imprisoned, and taken from his family in the prime of his life. When he returns to the place where both he and his family met with misfortune, he plots his revenge against those who took part in making his life life miserable.

There is a lot to be said about the power of revenge, and though many may not agree on whether or not it can have a positive end, oftentimes revenge takes on a life of its own. What more sinister way for this character to carry out his revenge than to lure in his victims under the guise of being a barber? "Welcome, sit right down and relax while I give you the shave of your life. Or shall I say for the life of the shave?"

Do you think you know why he did it? Perhaps you've already figured out what he does with his clients? Why not visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site for a taste of what's to come? Then again, if you enjoy surprises, the rush of fear running through your veins, make sure you go see this movie!

Johnny Depp is sure to be a delight as he sings for the first time in this thriller! See you there; I'll be the one with my hands over my eyes and ear plugs to deafen the scary music. LOL!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Matt White & Lee Nadel Perform at Hooligan's

On Sunday December 02, 2007 I had no clue who Matt White or Lee Nadel were, that is until they sang Matt's new HIT song "Best Days" at Hooligan's in a concert sponsored by All The Hits BOB 93.3! They came out on the stage as the opening act for another band and to my surprise, they were really good! As a parent of two teens I am often introduced to new music all the time. Little did we know that we would get to see two awesome performances. Matt played guitar and sang several songs from his debut CD. After Matt and Lee finished their performance they headed out to the lobby to sign autographs and talk with the audience. When it was our turn to thank him for his performance Jennifer had no problem cozying up to Matt for a photo opp!

After our chat with Matt, Jennifer headed back in as the other band was almost ready to begin playing. At this point I also took the opportunity to thank Matt's sidekick, Lee for his performance. Though Matt does all the singing, Lee accompanies him on the bass guitar. During their performance Lee wore a light colored woven cap which prompted the girls to insist that he "take it off!" He complied to their wishes as they burst into a resounding scream, all the while he teased them with the idea he might toss it into their midst ... no such luck ... a man and his cap are rarely separated ... at least not for long. Both were friendly and personable young men, and as I spoke with each they responded with a heartfelt "Thank you! It really means a lot."

You can find them both on MySpace, and while you're there why not give Matt's music a listen, and Vote for his song "Best Days." Right now it's VH1's #8 video on VSpot's Top 20!

You might be interested in reading the article titled "Matt White "Best Days" … and Getting Even Better" by Ronald Sklarat at for more information about this talented young star!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cell Reception in the "Boonies"

In about twenty minutes we will heading out to pick up all of the gang to go see "Boys Like Girls" at a concert. One of the teens lives way out in the boonies, and I pray we have adequate cell reception in case we need directions. This will definitely be an adventure! Well, I had better finish getting ready or I'll have two mad teens of my own to deal with ... and goodness knows I don't want that! ;)

Christmas Vacation Planning

It's just weeks now before the holidays and we are considering a trip with as many of our children to see my boyfriend's family in TN. So far we made trips there with just the two of us, and not yet on Christmas. It would be so cool to see everyone all together, my boyfriend, his sisters and their families, and our children all celebrating being together. If getting everyone together in one place doesn't work for this holiday celebration, perhaps we can plan a camping trip this summer to the TN river with everyone.

Either way, not to worry, it will be all right, and we'll figure out a plan that puts a smile on everyone's face!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Did you know this about real estate?

An acquaintance of mine once told me that she and her husband had to pay taxes on property they used for a business that had been repossessed for non-payment. They were operating a small business on the side and decided to call it quits as it was not generating enough income to offset the expenses. Since they still owed money on the property at the time it was repossessed, they were sent a form requiring them to pay taxes on the portion of the debt that was forgiven them by the finance company.

As I understand it, the same is true of real estate when it comes to foreclosures. If you were purchasing a home and the bank foreclosed on it for non-payment, if the bank sells the property for less than the fair market value of the house, you are responsible to pay taxes if there is a loss.

Like this:

Fair Market Value of Home - $150,000.00

Less Selling Price by Bank - $70,000.00

Your Tax Liability - $80,000.00

On the other hand, if the bank sold the property for more than the fair market value you would have zero tax liability.

The first scenario seems so unfair. If you lose your home to foreclosure that means you didn't have the resources to pay for it. Charging you with a tax liability for the difference in what the bank cannot recoup seems like a kick in the teeth. It was bad enough you were down, but should they add insult to injury?

News like this almost makes one afraid to buy a home or start a new business. Scary!

Business Meeting or Free- for-All?

Today our office met with at least three of our satellite offices to go over the 2007 Tax Updates. It was an excellent informal meeting and there even though there was a lot of information to learn we all seemed to understand the changes. There will be stricter guidelines for income tax preparers, and penalties for oversights on compliance issues but overall it won't effect the professional preparers who correctly do their job. It was nice getting to meet everyone and to have the meeting be informal, however, there were two preparers who insisted on chatting to each other for a majority of the time. I sure hope that they are more professional in their office when they are dealing with clients, but it was disrespectful to our owners to chatter while they were conducting business.

Though my coworkers insist that I am the "Queen of Chatter" in our office, I gladly relinquish that crown to these two today! I am sure my coworkers are just kidding about me ... really, they are!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Memories of 1983

It was early, the sun had yet to crest the horizon when into the bedroom ran our three year old, Lisa. She was so excited and wanted us to get up to see what "Santa" had brought her for Christmas. As we followed her into the living room she promptly sat in her new wooden rocking chair. "It's beautiful!" she said as she touched the heart shaped cutout. Next she started opening her presents filled with dolls, clothes, games, toy pots and pans, and a special surprise.

For months she had been looking at the aprons as we would go through various stores. She loved the one her grandpa wore as he cooked out on the grill, and had asked if she could have one of her own for Christmas. I remembered that I had some remnants of fabric packed away, so while she was asleep I cut out a pattern from paper, ironed the material, pinned the pattern onto the material, cut it out, and then proceeded to sew it all together by hand. The surprise was complete as I finished sewing on two pockets large enough for her little hands.

As she opened that package, her eyes lit up with joy! She unfolded it, shook it out, and ran to me to have it tied around her tiny waist. No sooner than I had tied the bow, she twirled around to show everyone. She was a sight to behold, just three years old in her little red nightgown and little red apron with its tiny flower print.

We talk about that memory often with great fondness. Even though she shared that apron with all of her siblings, it somehow withstood the test of time. Believe it or not, she still has that little apron. It is a Christmas memory that will forever be in our hearts!

Fasten Your Seat Belts, Tax Season is Coming!

As the 2007 tax season fast approaches, we are preparing at the office for the influx of work to begin on the 2nd of January 2008. We currently spend our days doing bookkeeping for our client base, and brushing up on the newest TaxWise software program. We are also getting things ready for our annual meeting with our satellite offices here at the office.

It's been educational this past month, what with working on client's books, preparing payroll, learning Spanish, and divvying up supplies for the satellite offices. What we are all looking forward to now is the onset of the season. I am told it is a hectic six to eight weeks, working 12 - 14 hour days, all in an attempt to assist as many of our current tax clients and as many new clients as is possible with filing their tax returns.

I won't lie. All of this will be a bit overwhelming if it hits all at once. So, I plan on fastening my seat belt and preparing for the fast and furious ride!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clicking fever!

Have you ever been to one of those blogs where there are tons of links leading to discounts, gift ideas, deals-of-the-day, closeout sales and more? You know, the ones with a button or icon that says "click here" or click there, or click anywhere on this ad. Well, I cannot promise that my post won't have such links, or that they will always lead to the best deals once you click on them, but I do try and link to positive, fun, and informative websites. So, with this being an assignment about where to click, I thought I'd have fun with it. Just remember, that even though there is a link in here, you need to remain a responsible clicker!

Happy Clicking! :)

English Grammar & Spell Check ... Need an Editor?

I love to surf around and read different blogs! There are a lot of great ones out here in cyberspace, but what I have noticed lately is an increasing amount of bad grammar and spelling. In an effort to avoid such errors on our blogs, my favorite blogger and I check each others posts after they are published. Then we send a comment or email to each other suggesting corrections for the errors. So, tell me, if someone left you a comment suggesting a correction for your grammar and spelling, would you be angered or thankful?

Need an editor?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Addicted to Love!

These days there are addictions to everything, sex, alcohol, chocolate, video games, internet surfing, smoking, drugs, and so much more. It's funny though that most of these addictions don't have similar rehab centers like the drug rehabs. Oh wait! I forgot addicted to love!

I have a coworker who, after swearing off men, is all of a sudden in love! It's really quite nice to see her so happy, but she has admitted to not being able to concentrate on work, is having restless nights, and has an unquenchable urge to just get up and head up the road to see her man!

Well, what would a rehab for an addiction to love look like? What would you do there? How would you know you are cured? I know ... when you no longer have the butterflies in your stomach ... but wait, that's a good feeling! All right, no love rehab! We like our "Annie" just the way she is ... happy!

PS I can totally relate ;)

I've been tagged? Yes!

We Interrupt Your Reading Pleasure for a Very Important Message

Susan, the author of MotherJungle has tagged little ole' me for a "meme!" Sounds like a Tobe Keith song ... I wanna talk about me, me, me, me, me!

What is a "meme" you ask? I had the same question. Quite simply put, it's a fun way of getting to know things about fellow bloggers that you might not ordinarily know. In this case the task is to share seven things about yourself and then tag seven others to join in on the fun.

Here's how it works:

You have to come up with seven “facts” about yourself and post these rules:

1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Let's get started!

Seven Things I'll Share about Susan @ A Little Bit of Everything

1. I once raced a formula car on the local SCCA circuit when I was nineteen.
2. I once played a robber in a play written by Neil Simon called "The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue."
3. I was a clown in full costume during my teen years and made appearances at theater performances, skating rinks, sales events for local vendors of manufactured homes, and the occasional drive through town whenever bored.
4. I sometimes refer to the drive-thru personnel as a person of the opposite gender, but only after they mistakenly address me as "Sir."
5. I am an artist.
6. I sometimes sang the tenor parts in the chorus while my best friend Tony lip synced the words.
7. I'd love to learn to ballroom dance ... really, I do! ;)

Here's who's next:

Anon A. Mos @ Adapt, Adopt, & Improve
Amy @ Sometimes You Just Know ...
thedawnsters @ the whole enchilada blog ...
Karen @ The Pond
Elaine @ Nocturnal Blogger's Introspect
Julie @ Utterly Geek
Venemous Kate @ Chubby Mommy

We Now Return You Now to Your Previously Scheduled Reading, Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Biotene Sensitive Toothpaste to the Rescue?

It's was years before I was able to eliminate the sensitivity in one of my front teeth. Through the years, each of my dentists just couldn't seem to figure out why it was sensitive. There wasn't any damage to the tooth, and nothing I was doing helped to solve the problem. It seemed that the only way I was able to treat it was with pain gels for temporary numbing, and that was not a recommended long term treatment plan.

Eventually my dentist put a veneer over the original tooth in an effort to protect the enamel and to lessen the bouts of sensitivity. It worked! However as we age our enamel weakens and instead of getting a full set of dentures, or veneering all of my teeth, I had hoped to find a better solution.

About two weeks ago I received a tube of Biotene Sensitive Toothpaste in the mail and decided to give it a try. After all, my options at this point are too expensive to consider, and I figured it was worth a try. To my surprise, and after using nearly half the tube, I was having less sensitivity to the things that normally irritate my pearly whites. I haven't had any of those shooting surges of pain when breathing in air as I sip on my morning cup of coffee. It sure would have been nice to have Biotene when my front tooth had its issues with sensitivity, it could have saved me from the pain and financial costs.

From what I'm experiencing Biotene Sensitive Toothpaste isn't masking my symptoms like similar sensitive toothpastes, it actually is making a difference. A suggestion made by a dentist was to alternate between any sensitivity toothpaste and your regular toothpaste to avoid creating an over sensitive situation. Either way, it's been refreshing to sit and sip my favorite flavored coffee without worrying about a sensitivity shock wave.

How's your toothpaste doing these days?

Hurry, but don't you SPEED!

Today I needed to go to the courthouse to pay a ticket I had received last month. I had misplaced the amended ticket and spent the day looking for it to no avail. I decided to stop by work on the way there and found that I hadn't left it there either. Frustrated, I passed by a coworker who suggested I just go down and pay it, that the courthouse would have a record of it on file. So, off I went to the courthouse.

It was almost 5:00 p.m. and if I hurried I would make it there in time to take care of ticket and avoid that dreaded court appearance. When I arrived the woman started filling out a paper receipt based on what she had in the system. It was for the original ticket and when I explained that it had been amended she pointed me in the direction of the DA's office to obtain a copy of the amended ticket. It was up to them whether or not they would reissued a copy. Thankfully the lady there did!

Next, we rushed back to the courthouse as it was nearly 5 p.m and they would be closing. As we entered the door the lady there was just shutting the door to her office and pointed me in the direction of the Magistrate's office out and around the side of the same building.

Finally, the young lady there was able to issue the paperwork for me to sign for the amended offense, and even though we ran into a snag momentarily about the cost of the ticket, she was able to figure it out based on the paper from the courthouse. Why was that important? Without it, I would have had to repeat the entire process again tomorrow.

As we exited the building it was raining rather nicely and both Jennifer and I got soaked, but at least the ticket is now PAID!!! :)

Samsonite: for Man, Monkey, or ME?

Do you remember packing for that all important summer trip after school let out? You'd pull out the suitcase from under your parent's bed, the one that was strong enough for a monkey (even an ape for that matter) to jump up and down on, knock into walls, toss down a flight of stairs?

You remember. It was the one you hated to been seen lugging around, the one with travel stickers plastered all over it, ah yes! The one you'd deny was yours even if it meant you had no clothes for your vacation. I'm sure it was more than ideal for the savvy traveler, but what teen in the seventies ever carried "luggage?"

Thank goodness that Samsonite was made strong enough for all that abuse, after all there were five of us that grew with that set of luggage. Though Samson might find the older version more manly, I prefer the new softer sexy silhouette line!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Nice Thanksgiving for All

Today we all gathered at my parents home for an afternoon meal as a family. Though some arrived early and stayed until after the meal, and some came only to eat a desert, everyone made an appearance throughout the day. It was great to see all of my brothers again, and it's an added blessing to know that we will be seeing my oldest brother more often. He has moved back to be nearer to us all and will be living with Mom & Dad temporarily until he has a place of his own. He has already found a job and will begin teaching English grammar to young Marines here on the east coast.

My day was spent with my parents, all four of my brothers and their families, two of my children, and "Mr.D" my boyfriend. We have spent the last two Thanksgivings with his family out in TN, but this year we took a break and opted not to travel too far away from our home here in NC. We missed seeing everyone but took an opportunity to wish them a "Happy Thanksgiving" early in the day.

After everyone had finished their visit at my parents, Jenn headed home with Ashley, and we headed back home for Ryan to spend the night with his best friend. The remainder of our evening will be spent unwinding from the day's events ... sigh ... just "Mr.D" & me. ;)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ahhh the sound of audio racks!

What is it with some of the male species? Rack, racks, racks! That's all you hear about sometimes. If it's not the rack on a buck, it's a rack on the wall for hanging that 1,000,000th baseball cap, or maybe it's that rack on the waitress at "Hooters." Well, I have a rack of my own ... yes, it's the sweet sound of audio racks as that frying pan lands upside my ex-hubby's head for once again pointing out that yet another woman has a larger rack than mine. Nothing like it in the world! Oh, my bad ... it's not that kind of audio racks? That's not what the waitress told me as she brought him a glass of ice to cool that bump on his head. Of course it would have been a sweet sound if I could have found a frying pan, he had to settle for the searing sound of my discontent instead!

Would smacking an ex qualify as a "rack of ham?" ;)

With All My Love : *

If ever a singer should capture the essence of love this man has and continues to do so! For you "Mr.D" ... like the man says ... "Cause You're My Everything!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Turkey & Stuffing & Pies, Oh My! Treadmills Anyone?

All of us ladies at work decided last week that we were eating out for lunch far more than we probably should, so we all decided to start different diet plans and exercise regimens. Maybe we should have thought this through more carefully, after all this week is Thanksgiving and there will be great temptations in store for us all. Perhaps instead of that usual slice of pumpkin pie topped with cool whipped topping we'll take a healthy helping of treadmills, rowing machines, or those daily routine walks as the temptations draw nigh!

It's turkey & stuffing & pies, Oh My!
If we choose to indulge may all go to our thighs!
Instead of delighting in such goodies this year,
We must all walk it off and pass by with a cheer!

Thanksgiving in NC this year ...

It's that time of year again, the one where families all around the America gather in celebration of a family tradition of feasting on a turkey dinner complete with stuffing, sweet potato & green bean casseroles, cranberry sauce, and assorted pies.

For the past two years my boyfriend and I have traveled west to TN to spend the holiday with his sister, her husband and their family. I will miss getting to see everyone, we always have such a great time when we visit. It's like a little adventure of our own. Thank you "Mr.D" for sharing your family with me and for spending this year with us in NC.

This year we will enjoy the day spent with family here in eastern NC. It used to be that I had to choose between holidays for visits with my family since we lived nearly seven hours away. It's been so nice living within an hour to all of them, now we can visit whenever is best for everyone.

I thoroughly enjoy being able to sneak down to my parents and spend the night. An evening of conversation, sitting on the sofa with my mom watching an episode of CSI, while my dad sits in his recliner doing crossword puzzles in pen.

So, this week will include preparations for guests, travel, cooking, and visits. We'll have a full house again, but I look forward to having it fuller in the future should our children move closer. Eight is enough sounds really good, it will make for lots of fun and celebrating when we are all closer together.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Curiously Awesome Gift Ideas from!

All week we've been checking the mail for a special delivery from This afternoon Jenn beat me to the mailbox, grabbed the package, screamed "Hurray, it's here!," waved it in the air in my direction, then ran inside the house to open it ... kids ... you gotta love em!

Inside the package she found three different samples from their lineup of curiously awesome products; a DVD titled "Ambient Fire - The Ultimate Video Fireplace," a "Smencil's Gourmet Scented Pencil" (sniff … ah, watermelon, my favorite!), and a sampling of a bit of winter better known as "Insta Snow Fake Snow Powder."

Ryan wasn't home when we opened the package so we decided to wait until he and his friend got here to try out the "Insta Snow Fake Snow Powder." As you can see in the photo below they are having too much fun with this stuff! Since all of my children were raised in Virginia where it snows more often, this was a reminder of cooler winters, sledding, and snow fights!

Jenn really likes the "Smencil's Gourmet Scented Pencil" so I guess we know who's getting this one. Smencil's come in a 10-Pack of assorted fragrances, each in it's own plastic container, they are made from 100% recycled newspapers, have biodegradable erasers, and they keep their scent for two years. What a uniquely earth friendly idea! Maybe both of these items would make perfect Christmas stocking stuffers for some of the kids in my life.

PS My favorite is "The Ultimate Video Fireplace" DVD. Just imagine a cozy winter’s night in front of the fireplace with your sweetheart … mmm … yeah, I can imagine it. Can you? ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Paying It Forward

Last Thursday a friend did something extremely nice for me. It was perfect timing as I had taken my van in for a repair that really didn't fit my budget. Her gesture made it possible to have a working vehicle. Without her help I was not sure how I was going to manage. Though we are getting really good at watching how we spend our money, we still have opportunities. Someone I once knew said it best ... "I've done so much for so long with so little that I can do just about anything with practically nothing."

The next day I saw a woman walking alongside the road as I headed into town to work. As I drove passed her I thought about how much I'd hate to be walking all the way to my job should my van quit working. Since I had left a little early I decided to turn around and ask if she needed a ride. Sure enough she did. She worked over on the far side of town so I knew just how long a walk she had ahead of her. Though she was late she was thankful for the ride.

We had a good conversation on the way in, she lives nearby us and has children in the middle school where my children had gone to school. I don't normally pick anyone up but she was not hitchhiking and I had a good feeling about doing something nice for another person in need like myself. Should I see her again I'll be sure to stop and give her a ride. Thanks Lakeisha for allowing me to "pay it forward."

If you have a story about "Paying It Forward" I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Estranged Parent's Journey in Life & Death: Part VI - Lessons Learned

There are lessons to be learned from the death of an estranged parent. Here are some that come to mind:

1. Even if they remove themselves from your life ... you never forget them.
2. Whether or not they acknowledge your existence ... you remain their child.
3. Even if they tell you everything is taken care of ... insist on proof.
4. Remember what type of friends they had before they became estranged ... they rarely change.
5. Family has a right to bury an estranged parent ... it aids in closure.

During this ordeal, we found out that his "friends" had claimed to be his only living relatives at the morgue, rummaged through his home within 24 hours of his death, collected all of his personal papers and photographs, paid for his cremation and asked for reimbursement from his children (knowing full well the government was going to pay them back), lied about his having life insurance, and had the nerve to request his burial flag be given to them after it had been presented to our family in his honor.

Arthur Neal Watkins was survived by 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. The definition of all of these people is family.

As his immediate family we were fortunate enough for him to have been a military veteran. His twenty years in the Marine Corps afforded him a proper and fitting burial. My brother requested the VA put the following on his marker ...

Arthur Neal Watkins
August 26, 1932 - October 28, 2007
Vietnam Veteran
"A Man Proud To Have Served His Country"

Related Posts: Part I - Notification, Part II - Reactions, Part III - Discovery, Part IV - A Full Military Honors Ceremony,
Part V - The Ceremony & Update from Biloxi, Part VI - Lessons Learned

Friday, November 9, 2007

Stop! Hey what's that sound? Everybody look what's going round!

No, it's not the sound of me singing a 70's tune! And it's not anyone in my house sniffling and coughing like some people at work and school! Then what is it?

On Wednesday I dropped my van off at a local mechanic to have a noise checked out. They had the van all day and when I arrived that afternoon to pick it up after work I was advised that they had just gotten to it. They were in agreement that my driving it home wouldn't hurt it but asked that I bring it back in the next morning. I did as they requested and brought it back first thing on Thursday.

Just after lunch I got the call informing me that the idler pulley had to be replaced. Great! It could have been the water pump and that would have been a much more expensive repair. So, after work I picked the van up and it sounded wonderful, that is all except the brakes but that's another story.

Then this morning, like a bad penny it was back. I gave it the day to settle, drove it home and will try it again over the weekend. I sure hope that they fixed the right thing! More as it develops ... :/

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's Getting Darker Sooner Now

The only thing I dislike about this time of year is the fact that there are fewer daylight hours. It makes it difficult to perform many outdoor tasks like taking the trash out to the shed. Goodness knows that if it were not for the outdoor lighting my son would never take the trash out in the winter months in the evening. We keep it turned off to conserve energy. So if you want it on you have to walk out in the dark, turn it on, do your business, turn it back off, and then walk back in the dark. It might not be so bad but the shed is quite a ways from the back deck. I guess he is afraid of the boogie-man, or is it the bears?

Perhaps I'll suggest he take it out in the morning. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

An Estranged Parent's Journey in Life & Death: Part V - The Ceremony & Update from Biloxi

My niece made the trip on Monday from her home to a town near Biloxi National Cemetery where her grandfather's memorial was to be held on the following day. She had the opportunity to meet with the woman that had befriended her grandfather prior to his passing in an effort to secure his personal effects and important papers.

They would meet again at the funeral home and make the journey together to the cemetery in the limo provided for family. As they arrived my niece was the first to step out of the limo and proceeded to a soldier who was assigned for the memorial service. She promptly advised him of her relationship to her grandfather (our father) and told him that she would be receiving the flag for our family. It will be the only thing we will have after his passing, the one thing we could be proud of, his years of service in the military.

My niece said the ceremony was beautiful, complete with a three gun salute, the gun shells being wrapped in the flag, and a tall handsome Marine in dress blues kneeling as he presented my niece with the flag while being accompanied by the sweet voice of a young serviceman who flawlessly sang "Amazing Grace." It was at that moment that my niece was overwhelmed with pride and honor evident by the tears which flowed gently down her face.

After the ceremony my niece was approached by the couple that had befriended my father and they requested the ceremonial flag that had been given to her. She respectfully replied, "No. I have received this flag for my family in honor of his memory and will deliver it to my father in NC who is his son." I am so thankful that she could be there, that someone represented our family. No matter how hard we may have tried to forget this man we could not, and though we weren't able to be there with her for this ceremony, it will make it easier to accomplish closure.

Thank you Livi!

Related Posts: Part I - Notification, Part II - Reactions, Part III - Discovery, Part IV - A Full Military Honors Ceremony,
Part V - The Ceremony & Update from Biloxi, Part VI - Lessons Learned

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

An Estranged Parent's Journey in Life & Death: Part IV - A Full Military Honors Ceremony

Today at 2:30 p.m. CST my natural father's remains will be placed in a vault at the National Cemetery in Biloxi, MS. Though my niece will be the only family member to be able to attend the ceremony our love and thoughts are with her as we remember our father. As we understand it, the ceremony will include a three gun salute and a presentation of the American flag which will be given to the next of kin. I hope to be able to break away from work at that time to quietly remember him and give thanks for my niece, my family, and loved ones, for our continued health, happiness, safety, and prosperity.

Related Posts: Part I - Notification, Part II - Reactions, Part III - Discovery, Part IV - A Full Military Honors Ceremony,
Part V - The Ceremony & Update from Biloxi, Part VI - Lessons Learned

Friday, November 2, 2007

An Estranged Parent's Journey in Life & Death: Part III - Discovery

This week has been an adventure in oddities in discovery after the death of our estranged father. We knew from discussions with him that he lived alone in a little town in Alabama in a trailer. That he was befriended by a married couple who lived in a nearby town. When I questioned him about having a will, and final arrangements in the event of his death, he simply said, "it's taken care of" and that the woman "will call you in the event of my death." Who was are these friends? How did they know him? How long had he known them?

What do we know about what his wishes were? According to the woman the only will he had was a living will, and that he had appointed her as the responsible party should she need to execute that will. She says he left no other will, had no insurance, and wanted to be cremated. These are all of the things she told me before my younger brother got involved. She had taken it upon herself to begin processing his affairs with no will appointing her executor. As far as I understand it, will or not his immediate family members have the right to process his affairs, to ensure resolution of debts with his resources, and to have closure by completing these tasks.

Within 24 hours we began to have some uneasy feelings about this woman's eagerness to help settle our father's affairs. It would turn out that this woman's stories were changing daily and after making a discovery of apparent fraud at the morgue, we decided to relieve her of her involvement in any further actions. After talking for nearly three hours my younger brother made the decision to do whatever it took for us to have closure and by week's end we had sent documentation of relationship and made arrangements for our father's cremation and military services. He is entitled to a full military honors ceremony as he was a retired Vietnam veteran. My brother will call this woman next week when we are sure of the date of his memorial service. She has mentioned that she and her family want to attend the ceremony.

At some point I want to address the issues involved in our decision to pursue assuming responsibility for his affairs, but for now we are still gathering the facts. We may never know her motives for lying to us, and to date we have not let on that we know what she did at the morgue, but there will be a time when we do. For now our concern is to lay him to rest and to resolve the other issues after his memorial. His death was considered service related as he retired with an injury with 100% disability after twenty years of service. I'd also like to share our journey in discovery of information, researching for necessary documents, and what we learned in order to protect a family's right to closure ... estranged or not!

Related Posts: Part I - Notification, Part II - Reactions, Part III - Discovery, Part IV - A Full Military Honors Ceremony,
Part V - The Ceremony & Update from Biloxi, Part VI - Lessons Learned

Thursday, November 1, 2007

An Estranged Parent's Journey in Life & Death: Part II - Reactions

There are five children who survive my natural father; my four brothers and me. We each had our own reaction to the news of his death and each will grieve in our own way. Facts are that he was raised in an apparently dysfunctional family unit as a child, and as it often happens he carried forward that legacy. My older brother and I were probably the most effected by his lack of parenting skills. Like older children we went before our younger siblings enabling them to avoid some of the pitfalls that lay before them. I am sure they too suffered their own challenges with our father, but my hope is that my older brother and I took the brunt of the physical abuse away from their life's journey.

Though we all seemed to adjust to the estrangement of our father, the distance between us and the manner in which he parented us would greatly determine our reactions at his death. My older brother appears to have resolved to live his life as though our father were someone he once knew but had no connection with, so the news of his death was received as such. Two of my three younger brothers and I shared a sorrowful sentiment for his passing and I've yet to talk with my youngest brother. What of my reaction then?

As the only daughter it was harder for me to give up hope that one day he would "get it." During my twenties and after having two children of my own, I accepted him for who he was, forgave him and simply kept track of where he was to avoid hearing about his death weeks, months, or even years after the fact. Even though I had prepared myself for this eventuality, my reaction to the details of his death was much different than I had anticipated. It was far more painful to imagine him being involved in an accident cause by a massive heart attack on an interstate than to imagine him passing peacefully in his sleep. So my initial reaction was shock tempered with sorrow, for this man who aided in my existence.

I believe that we will all agree that the passing of our natural father will inspire us to appreciate each other more, encourage us to communicate more frequently, and strengthen our lives as we share in our joys and sorrows as a family.

Related Posts: Part I - Notification, Part II - Reactions, Part III - Discovery, Part IV - A Full Military Honors Ceremony,
Part V - The Ceremony & Update from Biloxi, Part VI - Lessons Learned

Monday, October 29, 2007

An Estranged Parent's Journey in Life & Death: Part I - Notification

We try our best to prepare ourselves for times like this, and yet when it happens we are often confused by its impact. On October 28th at approximately 10:30 p.m. Arthur Watkins was pronounced DOA after being transported to a local hospital in Alabama where he resided for several years. He had suffered a heart attack while driving home from Biloxi MS. Who was he? My estranged natural father.

He was born August 26, 1932 to Stanley & Mary Watkins and he had two siblings, Gene (his older brother) and Bobbie (his younger sister) all of which preceded him in death. He was a handsome man, 6'2" tall, thin build, with brown hair and blue eyes. He grew up in Roanoke Rapids, NC and would join the Marine Corps after his graduation from high school.

I am told, he had been married to a woman that did so with intentions to collect his combat pay should he not survive the war. Unfortunate for her, the military changed his orders and he never went on this tour of duty. Within two months the marriage was annulled. It wasn't long after that when he met my mother and they were married in August of 1953. They would have five children together, and after the divorce in 1975 their extended family would increase with the birth of eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. What a wonderfully large family.

The sad part is that Arthur Watkins would leave the area within 5 years of the divorce and remove himself for the most part from the lives of his five children and never enjoy his extended family. Though it seemed a blessing at times, there were moments for some of us when we wished he were the man we needed him to be, but he was who he was like it or not. So, how do you deal with the death of an immediate family member when they are estranged for more than 30 years of your life?

Related Posts: Part I - Notification, Part II - Reactions, Part III - Discovery, Part IV - A Full Military Honors Ceremony,
Part V - The Ceremony & Update from Biloxi, Part VI - Lessons Learned

What's in Las Vegas for Bloggers?

As I understand it there will be a blog conference in Nevada this coming month on November 10, 2007. The conference will feature guest speakers who will target in on how to help bloggers make their sites more marketable, boost their site traffic and readership, and make their blog a monetary success. Even if one could meet the cost for the conference, having to make Las Vegas hotel reservations is what would kill a trip like this for many bloggers that are just starting out or those who blog to make ends meet. It sounds like a wonderful idea! How about a local event here in NC? Now that I could handle!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Are Air Tools Just for Men?

Nay, nay! So why is it that tools which require no electrical wiring are most often used by men? Are they more likely to be electrocuted if they have a cord attached to the tool? Why don't makers of famous household gadgets jump on board and offer similar hand held tools for the rest of us? Imagine an air powered mixer, coffee bean grinder, blender, you'd have the job done in moments and without the cord!

Of course, it might be a bit messier since Ingersoll Rand air tools are made for much more difficult tasks than blending ingredients for a cake. Driving a screw into a stud requires a bit more muscle than driving egg whites into stiff peaks. I guess we should reconsider those household gadgets being cordless instead of air powered.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Does Market Research Pay Off?

I've been hearing more and more about market research and how it helps large companies decide everything from which group of consumers to target to which shade of candles to stock in their inventory. We had a discussion at work about how we might better market our business since our stiffest competitor uses many different types of media to get their product noticed. As some of you know I work for a local accounting and tax preparation company, but I will not be caught wearing a patriotic old man suit waving a flag at people passing by in cars. No sir. We'd be better off doing another TV commercial, then maybe I'll become a "star" ... well, a girl's got to dream!

We're hoping to hear good news from marketing soon as none of us wants to wear that silly suit!

Heartbreaks & Colon Cleanses

Both are gut wrenching, leave you with an unsettling feeling, and can painfully remind you that you are alive. Online dating might be as annoying to some as having a colon cleanse done is to others. Personally, I think the latter would be less painful though, but then that's just me. It's easier to forget the discomfort of a reaming of the ... well lower regions, than a reaming of the heart and soul. Wow, what an idea! What if it were as easy to cleanse the toxins from your heartache as it is to rid your innards of its waste?

For all of you suffering from heartache ... forget the cleanse, you're not going to need it right now! Nature will take its own course and you'll be back into living life and having fun once again, just remember to take it slower this time. :)

Things Heating Up at the High School

We recently hosted a benefit ride for the FFA Chapter at our local high school. There was a grand prize, door prizes, a 50/50 drawing, and a bar-b-cue meal for the riders as they came in from the run. As we finished boxing up the meals with all sorts of goodies and the necessary utensils we noticed that we might need to warm up some of the meals if the ride took longer than anticipated. We searched the cafeteria for microwave ovens and could only find one! What would we do if we needed more than one? Fortunately the ride ended as scheduled and the riders all got a turn heating up their meal if they were so inclined. The benefit ride was not as large a turnout as the kids had hoped but they learned more about how to set up such an event for the future. Thanks to all of our riders, sponsors, students and parents who helped make it the success!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Katrina's Refugees Forgotten?

It's been over two years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, LA. Saying that it made landfall is an understatement to say the least! It was more like "plowed" over the lower wards in New Orleans, LA. After things settled down and the media coverage went elsewhere what happened to the area? How many people are still displaced from the devastation from Katrina?

We had a discussion about the state of refugees from Katrina and wondered what needs to be done to bring the attention back to supporting aide to a part of our own country that was hard hit with a natural disaster. With California facing thousands of refugees from the wild fires, how will their treatment differ from that in New Orleans?

Bottom line ... we cannot forget ... we need to get our government involved in restoring these victims of a natural disaster to a normal lifestyle!

I'm not sure how we can voice our concerns to get this issue back in the forefront, but we cannot continue to be apathetic in America. What if it had been you or your family that had been displaced? How would you react then?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

An evening at the bay ...

My youngest has reminded me more than once about visiting some of our friends who live in Maryland at the bay. They have a beautiful home, filled with antiques purchased at an auction house, modern amenities like marble counter tops, built-in appliances to match the surrounding cabinets, two-sided fireplaces, an elevator, and a home theater screen in the family room. They have the most beautiful leather home theater seating which is covered with lambs throws. They make it so much more comfortable to sit on the leather for long periods of time. It also makes for a romantic evening in front of the fireplace. Perhaps a visit to the bay is long overdue, and I'll have to take along a special guest, "Mr.D" ;)

Preparing for Saturday's Competition

This weekend will be the next to last of our school's band classic competitions this year. I hope be chaperoning on one of the buses of band and color students. Last time we had enough seats that Jenn sat by herself, we'll see if that happens again this trip. There will be 15 bands at this weekends competition, 14 of them will be competing and one is the host band. The host band always performs last in order to allow the judges to finish their stats to determine the winners in each class. This weekend there are four Classes from Single-A to Quad-A. Jenn will compete with her band in the Quad-A Class along with three other bands. I'm excited about getting to see them all perform this weekend since I missed out on the trip to VA a couple of weeks ago. Best wishes for continued success ... GO EAGLES!

Monday, October 22, 2007

What's New in RC Vehicles? Helicopters

Nearly ten years ago we bought a remote control bi-plane kit for our children to assemble and fly. We had driven out into the countryside where there were several avid RC vehicle operators flying their various styles of aircraft. One we didn't see were any RC helicopters among those in flight that day. It was awesome to watch the ground pilots take their aircraft from a runway in the field to the airs above and then safely land them with little to no injury to the craft itself. What had started as a unique idea proved to be too much for us to handle with five children all wanting an aircraft of their own. We ended up getting those wooden bi-planes you assemble in three easy steps and which are propelled by arm driven thrust!

Band Break

This last Friday was supposed to be our schools homecoming game but unfortunately it was canceled due to a storm front that was moving into our area. Though the football game is being played tonight the band and color guard will have the night off. It is a welcome break since we've been very busy with competitions and game performances. We have two remaining competitions, two home games, and several Christmas parades yet to perform in, so any chance to take a breather is great! If Jenn stays with color guard for her years in high school then it will be a busy four years. As for tonight, I am sure she will find a way to enjoy her evening at home.

A New SAE Project: Vehicle Restoration

Why do the ideas that teens have always seem to cost the parent money? At the end of the last school year my son wanted to repair the deck on our home which we rent. I agreed since the deck was in need of such repairs and we like having our home (rented or not) look its best. So what's next for him? Vehicle restoration. He'll have to decide on which vehicle he wants to restore, a 1990 Chevy Lumina or a 1973 Ford truck. His dream vehicle is a small hatchback with a car spoiler, however he has to be realistic. After all, I won't be funding this project it will be all on him. It's enough for me to keep them clothed, fed, housed and provide funds for activities. The time is coming when he will make that decision to get a part-time job to fund his own projects, I can hardly wait!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

External Hard Drives ... Size Matters

Before you go thinking that I am a shallow woman, let me explain. Even though I may have traded my old system with its small hard drive in for a newer one it was for good reason. The old one was just not up to the task anymore, always shutting down without notice, increasingly difficult to get started again, and was suffering more frequent bouts of slow performance. Sometimes I had to go to desperate measures to get it to cooperate, then finally my patience was spent. After fighting to get it to open up one day I decided it was time. I finally set it aside and picked up a newer one with a larger capacity drive. I may still need to invest in an additional external hard drive in order to meet all of my needs when it comes to storage. After all, I had maxed out my old system's storage capacity with graphics, docs and photos. I wonder how large it will need to be to hold all of my files from my old computer system? Surely a flash drive will not be enough, but they are making larger capacities in smaller packaging all the time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Seeking Business Success after Raising a Family

Twenty-seven years ago Leigh made a choice that would change her life forever. She chose to be a stay-at-home mother. Her daughter Lilly was born in 1980, then came Riley in 1992, then Dougie in 1990, and finally JB in 1992. Twelve years separate the oldest from the youngest so the years in the public school system cover 24 years. One would think that a commitment to such a decision would never have a bad side to it.

During the early years and in between the second and third children Leigh went to work full time after a separation and divorce. Within three years she remarried and they added the third and forth child to their blended family. They discussed their options and once again she chose to be a stay-at-home mother. It is an awesome labor of love, one with many rewards, and she would never trade her time spent with her children.

What she wasn't prepared for was the difficulty that she would encounter upon returning to the workplace after her second divorce. She would commute from one state to another to attend classes for a major appliance plant with the encouragement that people from the classes would be hired directly to the plant. She attended all of the classes, including ones during her move to relocate to where the company is in operation, yet when she got settled in there she never received an offer of employment.

Being a responsible parent and adult she registered at a job shop and was promptly employed. She stayed with the job shop through three assignments until she was hired direct from her last assignment. She remained employed with them for over two years until their move to the middle of the state over a year ago.

She was back in the job market in search of a new job. While she was drawing unemployment she registered for college in order to work toward a degree. Soon she was back at work and everything was looking good again. Then it happened. A revelation about the company going under. Twice now she would be employed by companies who were in serious financial trouble and again she would end up looking for a new job.

She is currently working for another small business in order to meet her necessary basics of providing a home for two of her children who are still at home. She needs a job with benefits (health, dental, life and retirement) but wonders if she can find that with her work history and decision to be a stay-at-home mother for so long. What will it take to make her more desirable in today's work force? Since motherhood and it's commitment were her priority for the majority of her life, how does she pull it all together in a resume in order to have that ideal job consider her experience and skills?

What would you do?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mesothelioma Cancer

On a more serious note, I was reading about an often unknown type of cancer called Mesothelioma cancer, in specific pleural mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a disease of the tissue surrounding not just the lungs but several other vital organs in our bodies. The most commonly confused type of variation of this disease is that of the effected tissue surrounding the lungs. Often mistaken for lung cancer, it is not the same. This type of cancer is most commonly found in people that had direct contact with a dangerous building material known as asbestos. As if having this disease wasn't scary enough, imagine it taking up to 70 years before it becomes active and is diagnosed. How do you hold the companies responsible for being negligent in not providing preventative measures to ensure the safety of their work force or advising them of the inherent dangers of working with this type of material?

Any type of cancer is scary, but not having a support system in place can be even more frightening. If you know someone that has been exposed to asbestos, make sure they are checked regularly by their doctor. As with any type of illness, early detection is a key component to successful treatment and great odds of survival.

Watches from afar?

My ex-father-in-law was originally from Hungary and while he was over there visiting his sister and her family, he found many souvenirs to bring back to his family here in the states. One that he may have wanted to bring back to his wife of 45 years might have been a watch from the Vacheron Constantin collection of fine watches. There are so many different styles though and being a frugal man when it comes to giving gifts he decided to wait for her to choose the watch she liked most. After all a watch is a personal choice much like fine jewelry, so to make the woman in his life happy he let her choose. I wonder which one he would have picked for her and if she would have chosen differently?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

FFA Motorcycle Benefit Ride ...

Today was my son's FFA Chapter's Poker Run Benefit Ride to raise money to send students to the National Leadership Convention in the fall of the school year. It was their first time trying their hand at a motorcycle event type fund raiser and they managed to get a really good sponsor for door prizes. As it turns out there were only 10 riders on 8 motorcycles to attend. When it looked like it was not going to be what the students had expected, we all put on our thinking caps and went to plans B, C, D and more ... LOL! We ended up selling tickets at the stops along the biker route and those went into the drawing for the grand prize. The riders ended up taking home lots of door prizes from the raffle tickets and one rider took home a nice cash gift from the 50/50 drawing. As for the 100 bar-b-que plates for the event, we put up a sign in front of the school at $5 per plate, and called friends and neighbors in order to sell the rest. We sold all but 30 plates and the student raised $300 for the day. It was not bad but not as good as it could have been, so the sponsor is going to organize another ride (he owns a motorcycle business) and benefits will go to the FFA at my son's school. Why would this man do this? He is a former FFA student and a successful businessman looking to give back to his community. What a great way to give!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Absent Parenting and Grandparenting

During my experiences with ex-husbands, I have been dumbfounded by their actions as non-custodial parents. Both ex-husbands reacted pretty much in the same manner. They were both afforded visitation by the court, yet both eventually cut all ties with their children. One cut his ties after not securing a place of residence other than his work van (he refused to live in conventional housing) and after leaving the children with his family during his alloted visitation. Our eldest complained about being dropped off and not spending the time with her father, spending nights in the woods in the van as he had no home, and eventually coming home after a weekend in filthy clothing as it was apparent that no one had changed their outfits. His visitation ended by his choice less than six months into the separation.

The other cut his ties a bit later into the separation. At first he refused to see the children, he said he was too depressed to see them. Then after repeated prompting I insisted he come get them for a weekend visitation. He complied and upon repeated prompting he pick them up every other weekend for the most part over the next year. Then he moved from VA to MD about 2.5 hours away to be with his girlfriend. The visits continued until the children and I moved to NC. Prior to our move we had discussed the need for the children and me to move back to NC to be around a family support system. Since he had moved out of the area there was no reason for us to remain in VA.

Before we moved his visitations had begun to get out of hand. He was leaving them with his friends while he went on overnight dates with his girlfriend, he was dropping them off at her place while he would go out for the day tending to business, and he was bringing the children back late from their visits. On more than one occasion he brought them home on Monday morning just before school. On those mornings they had been up since 5 a.m. and were exhausted from the weekend, so they would often end up staying home from school that day to get rested.

Once we moved he adopted the thought pattern of "out of sight out of mind." I had made an open invitation at the time for him to come down and stay with us on weekends in order for them to visit. He refused. He spent the next 11 months ignoring the children. No calls, not for birthdays, not for holidays, nothing. Then a week before school was to let out for the summer he called to inform me that I needed to bring them to VA for summer vacation. So we bantered back and forth only once via attorneys and his decided not to pursue a threat to take custody of the children based on his lack of parent involvement. Since that summer he has seen both of the children once. He saw our son in 2004 during his summer vacation with a friend in VA and our daughter this past summer at a meeting set up by my eldest daughter on behalf of her sister. During that visit he gave both Jenn and Ryan each $100 and told our daughter that he would be calling, writing and beginning to rebuild their relationship.

Since that time he has called ... never. I have spoken with him about child support as it pays the rent and he is late and even misses payments from time to time. Never has he once asked about our children. I am civil when we talk and if he gets heated I say my goodbyes and avoid a fight. What confounds me is how these absent parents behave. I would do whatever it takes legally to see my children had the roles been reversed. These men continue to blame others for their lack of interaction with their children; and it didn't stop with the fathers, the grandparents also failed to continue to maintain their relationships with their grandchildren.

Will they ever take accountability of their actions and rebuild their relationships or are the children better off if these absent family members keep their distance?

Monday, October 8, 2007

What do you take for a headache?

I guess that would depend on what gives you the headache. If you get a sinus headache it helps to take something that will alleviate the sinus pressure thus relieving the pain. For a migraine headache one might take anything from an over-the-counter pain reliever followed by ice packs, neck rubs, and sleeping upright in a recliner, to prescription pain relief. What about those celebrities who suffer with headaches from painfully swollen lips? Would they benefit from taking the same Botox for headaches of this nature? Curious isn’t it? Take it from this migraine sufferer, prompt relief is always appreciated!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Coach, what were you thinking?

Tonight our high school played football against a tough team. It was great to watch them keep this powerhouse team at a score of 14 throughout the night. They had scored early on and we answered back with one touchdown but we needed to get another before the night was finished. Then with one minute and twenty seconds left in the game our team threw a touchdown pass. The game now stood at 14 - 13 and we only needed the extra point to have a tie game and go into overtime for a better chance at beating the other team. There were two time outs. The team returns to their positions, they line up and the ball is hiked to the quarterback instead of a kicker ... WHAT??? The quarterback throws ... the man is open but with men around him ... the ball nearly lands in the opponents hands but falls to the ground ending the game with a loss!

We all figure they will do the smart thing and go for the extra point and not a two point conversion. WRONG! WHAT WAS THE COACH THINKING? Did he have a hot date? You should have heard the moaning from everyone in the stands.

Even us GIRLS knew it was smarter to tie up the game and go for a win in overtime!

Are You My Real Estate Agent?

Of all of the interviews I had the opportunity to attend during my search for a new job, the one that was most interesting was that for a position of real estate agent. A local rental/real estate office was seeking an bookkeeping/agent for their office. During the interview I was asked if going back to college for a real estate license would be something of interest to me. Hey, I'm up for anyway to further my education, so I responded in a positive manner. Even though the interview went well and they were impress with my computer (internet web design and html experience) the job went to another applicant. You never know, perhaps a real estate class would be a nice addition to my resume. Who knows, someday someone may just ask "Are you my real estate agent?"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

How do you decide?

What factors come into play when you need to compare one job to another?

Location: Do you want to commute or work locally?

Salary: How do you determine what you need to make a job worth staying with long term?

Benefits: Do you want them included in the offer for employment or as an option for your to purchase?

Work Hours: Straight 40 hours per week, government holidays, accrued vacation, and sick time, or 28-32 hours per week for 46 weeks of the year boosted by a six week 67 hours per week stint?

What would you do if you took a job with no benefits, minimum hours in the off season, extensive hours for a six week stint, because you needed a job in order to make more than the allowed amount of unemployment and then you were offered a year round full-time job, full benefits and a higher salary? If you enjoy the job you are in and the people you are working with, how do you decide to give it all up and take the "logical" one? Will the logical one pay off in the long run? What if the offer depended upon 4 months training at which time you might not be accepted into the position for which you applied? Would you have given up a good deal in the move?

These are the questions I need to ask myself. I've grown accustomed to their faces, voices and life stories. It will be a sad thing to leave them ... but for now, until I have heard that the company wants me for the position I will remain dedicated to my current employer. More later ... sigh ... time for some sleep.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Will taking Britney's children from her help?

One wonders if this move will be successful in turning this young mother around. Even though she spent a month in drug rehab it proved not nearly enough to get her started in the right direction. I feel for her only to the extent that she lives under far greater scrutiny than most of us, however there are children involved and as a mother of five you worry about their safety. It's hard enough for parents who behave properly to protect their children 100% of the time, but how much more difficult is has to be for parents who are behaving improperly? Only time will tell if the decision to take the children from Britney was a productive one, we can hope for the best! Our best wishes for success Britney!

As I've often told my children's absent parent, when you love them, you will do whatever you have to in order to maintain a healthy, loving relationship with your children. After all, submitting to random drug tests and completing a parenting class is far less a consequence than others have received for similar behavior. So, if learning to be a better parent enables them to keep their children from harm's way, and fosters a healthy, loving relationship, then their efforts are worth every moment spent improving their skills.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Classic Success!

Today's events were all successes! We have a full house for Jenn's performance at the Classic. There were sixteen bands and ours played last as we were the host. My niece is the drum major along with Austin and they were dressed in a tuxedo and sassy red and white dress complete with a red rose in Ashley's hair. They were a handsome couple indeed! Our color guard were all very much in character in their red and black fringed one shoulder outfits ... muy bonita!

Though there were lots of things to do at the day's event to help out with we found that most every station had more than enough help. We brought in our contribution to the baked goods with Lisa's chocolate chip cookies and our famous chili. We ended up in the dressing area with Jennifer and helped out as much as we could before heading out to find more ways to help. It seemed like there were too many volunteers, so we often found ourselves simply watching the students file in and out of the dressing rooms and on and of the practice fields and competition field.

As the evening progressed most everyone finished up their jobs in order to watch our kids perform. There had been some excellent bands and since our band had not seen the others it left them fresh and ready for their presentation of "Carmen." I have to admit, they were really good! The band has really come a long way since this summer ranking right up there with the largest band and the color guard was the best performance of the evening. I can hardly wait until next weekend!

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Change Of Climates: Arizona Anyone?

For years my ex-mother-in-law has suffered from both asthma and seasonal allergies. Her sister who lives in Arizona has tried her best to get Jackie and her husband to move to their neck of the woods? Nothing against Arizona but I don't remember ever seeing photo shots of forests. There are some amazing Arizona luxury real estate photos; perhaps I'll send her some. It's always nice to keep in touch with your exes, even the ex-in-laws.

Just moments before our guests arrive ...

As Jenn prepares for her first half-time performance with the color guard in full dress, her sister and her husband are on their way to the game to watch the show. This will be a busy weekend and already I'm bushed. There is still a lot to do in order to volunteer at the school during the band classic tomorrow. Lisa has baked cookies and I'll be making chili for hamburgers, hot dogs and chili cheese fries (6 lbs of "Southern Style" chili). I'm glad that Lisa and Steve will get to see Jenn's performance as she is really excited. "Mr.D" and I can hardly wait to see her tomorrow, she's been practicing really hard and I have every confidence that she will be wonderful! Bias? No, not me, never! ;)

Could Miracle Burn Deliver Heavenly Results?

Tonight we watched a special on TV about an elderly gentleman who says that he has a new diet program inspired by a higher power. I wonder if there is a Miracle burn included in his program? Whether or not, eating a healthier diet is always a plus to losing weight and promoting healing within one's system. Let's face it, eating food is ideal but learning how to minimize the bad foods is equally important. It's also important to remember that with a balanced diet you still need to exercise. Speaking of exercising we need to step up our current routine; Jenn and I have begun to show a marked level of success with added activity.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blogging Against Abuse: Stop the Abuse 09-27-07

Today I join in support of an important cause with hundreds, perhaps thousands of bloggers who will "Blog Against Abuse." Hopefully the information and experiences that we contribute will inspire and move others to a better state of mind concerning abuse. As a victim of child abuse myself, I made a vow to stop the cycle in my lifetime, and for the most part have succeeded. What I failed to recognize was how the abuse I suffered as a child would effect my choice of partners in life.

So try as I might, I could only protect my children as much as I was aware of what was going on around us. Mental abuse is so much harder to see than physical or sexual abuse. It starts out slowly and eventually leads to the others if not confronted early on. Once reality set in though every effort was made to correct the situation to include counseling and eventually divorce. It was the only logical decision in order to give our children a better quality of life.

If you or someone you know is being abused, in any manner, please seek professional help. Each of us deserves to have the best in life, so don't settle for less. You can make a difference by choosing to stop the cycle of abuse in your life. Remember we are all ultimately responsible for our actions; may we choose the right thing to do in any given situation. Patience, compassion, forgiveness, and love, use them often and wisely.

Helpful sites:
Personal Safety, Self Defense, Confidence: KidPower TeenPower FullPower International
Child Advocates, Inc.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Relocating in Florida? "Save Our Homes"

We have several friends who live in Miami, Florida and its surrounding cities. While some have just moved to the area, there are more that have been long time residents. Lately, one of them mentioned they were looking into relocating back to North Carolina if they couldn't find a better home in Florida. They would really rather stay in Miami as they truly love the warm weather and beach life. Sometimes your past just sticks with you; images of life in Miami brings back memories of high school and weekends at the "Officer's" beach.

After talking with my boyfriend, he suggested they consider looking into a Miami flat fee mls to help them decide what is best for them. Mind you, we'd love to see them back in our area but when you see how much they love being in Florida it's hard to push for a move back here. We're hoping that whatever they do that they can safeguard their investments with the help of a current petition to save homes in Florida. We offer our best wishes to all for a well educated move and successful relocation inside the "Sunshine State."

save our homes

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Three weeks ago I started working part-time at a company that has a great team of people. There are drawbacks though, from no benefits for health insurance, dental, or vision, no pension or retirement plan, pays only once a month and for the better part of the year you only work 28 hours per week. Today I found out that the only way to increase one's hourly rate is to increase the amount of sets of books we complete each month. In order to get a raise you need to successfully manage TEN sets of books. There is one woman there that has been there for five years and is still making the same amount of money as when she started. My boss said it all depends on how hard you want to work for your money. If we want to make a dollar more per hour then we need to get our skills honed to take on those ten sets and soon ... sigh ... wish me success! There are benefits that tend to make this job a desirable one, like a great cast of characters to work with, a Spanish class on Mondays and Thursdays, and three day weekends. I hear tell there are paid holidays, a holiday bonus and a tax season full of hours to stock up on the months with less pay. So, for now we work.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Football, Basketball & March Madness!

Who would imagine that football and basketball could have so many things in common? They are both sports, both occur during the calendar school year (though football ends before basketball), and they often share the same fans. Another thing they share is March Madness! That's right! If you've ever had a student in high school then you know that with football season comes the "Marching Band" season! Even though new students are given weeks to practice before their first performance you'll often find them experiencing march madness. It's tougher than you think having to learn three to four complete routines in just 6 weeks. This month we'll be hosting our annual band classic, so wish us much success!

As for basketball, we'll be watching our favorite college teams in the spring as UNC and NC State beat out their competitors in the challenge to make the "Final Four" and become the champions! We look forward to our band making it to the top during our season and hopefully celebrate "Grand Champion" status at an event!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pirates of the Sand Hills?

All right, so there isn't any ocean near the foothills in NC but there will certainly be lots of pirates running about this weekend as we celebrate the birthday of a friend who will host a "Pirate Treasure Hunt." We received our invitations in a bottle complete with scrolled invite, skull ring, gold and silver coins, and a pirate's eye patch. Our host will not only have us searching for treasure, we'll assemble our clues to determine who "done it" in a murder mystery twist. We'll all come dressed to pillage and plunder (more like fumble and blunder) to resolve an untimely demise of a beloved maiden.

More details after the event. ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Root Canals ... Ouch!

Today Ryan had a dental appointment to see why his tooth was bothering him. The dentist says he needs to have a root canal performed followed by a crown. I had hope never to hear those words for any of my children but figured it might happen with Ryan and Jennifer. Their grandmother on their father's side had to have all of her teeth pulled when she was 18 years old, apparently there was something wrong with her gums as they wouldn't support her teeth. Their father is the same way only he managed to keep his teeth. However the condition of his teeth is horrible. He feared dental visits and so he paid for that with pain and embarrassment. My hope is that this injury to Ryan's teeth will be his last major one. I would hate for him to suffer through his life like his father. One thing that will set them apart is that Ryan does not fear doctors or dentists. This event will definitely cause us to keep a closer eye on his and Jennifer's dental health!