Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out of the Blogging Loop

After my back-to-back trips to Florida and Chicago, and then my week-plus bout with a sinus/ear infection and bronchitis, I'm feeling out of the blogging loop. I really want to get back into the swing of things and start posting but so far, it has been slow going. So, today, I will share a few things that have been going on around here:

*My oldest (he is 16) got his driver's permit. It's freaking me out. I'm really not ready for my child to be behind the wheel of a car. And, I think I talked about this recently, but, many of his friends are getting their driver's licenses. I'm REALLY not ready for my child to get into a car with one of his friends behind the wheel. It's stressful! Seriously, I'm having major anxiety and control issues with this one. Any advice?

*Monday was our 18th wedding anniversary. We both forgot. Ooops! I'm even embarrassed to say that. Of course, we knew it was coming up, but we didn't have any plans. On the day of, I was at the mall buying my daughter school shoes, when I signed the receipt, I noticed the date. I called hubby and said "Happy Anniversary that we both forgot"....

*I have completed all my required continuing education courses that I need in order to reinstate my RN license. YAH for me! Because I haven't worked for eleven years, I got lazy and didn't keep up with the requirements to keep my license active. Luckily, it wasn't too much trouble to reinstate - I had to do 42 continuing education hours and a refresher course. But, I'm proud to once again be a licensed Kentucky registered nurse. I have started to look for a job. I'll keep you posted on my progress as I begin this (scary) new chapter in my life of returning to the work force.

*My parents live about 10 minutes from my house. It's nice having them so close; they are always a big help to us. They have a beautiful big house with a huge basement, gorgeous sun room, big yard and vegetable garden and flower garden....I love being at their house. This past weekend, they put their home up for sale and decided to move into a patio home. On one hand, this is great. I know they are tired of the upkeep of the big home and they would feel better about downsizing at this point in their life. And, did I mention...the patio home is in the front of MY neighborhood! My kids could literally walk or ride their bike to visit Grandma and Grandpa. The patio home is far enough up the street that we can't see each other, so I wouldn't feel like my space was being invaded. But, on the other hand, it really makes me sad. I'm sad to see them give up their home (which is where we always gather for holidays and such). And, it makes me sad to realize that they are getting older. They are both 72, and while they are in very good health and still get around fine, I can definitely see that they have aged in the past few years. It's a hard thing to face, your parents getting old. It makes me sad.

*School starts for our kids in two weeks. This summer has really flown by. Our kids are in the following grades: 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 11th. So, once again, we have three different school schedules to keep up with. This will definitely be interesting, especially if I return to work.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Dangerous Beauty

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Quick Note

I just returned from my dr. appointment - I have a sinus infection, ear infection, and bronchitis. ACK! I'm off to take my four prescriptions and lay on the couch for the rest of the evening....

Take A Chance Challenge - Challenge #2

I'm so excited to be participating in the Take A Chance Challenge hosted by Jenners over at Find Your Next Book Here. She has come up with 10 fun and clever tasks that involve books, reading, and even a little writing. This is my blog entry for Challenge #2.

Here are the instructions for this particular challenge:

2.Random Word
Go to this random word generator and generate a random word. Find a book with this word in the title. Read the book and write about it.

I knew this one would be very interesting. I went to the random word generator, and, I cannot lie...I did not go with the first random word that was generated. I didn't go with the second random word, either. I tried, but, I just couldn't find any books that I wanted to read whose titles contained the words "prostitute" or "bog." (Yikes, does this make me a cheater?) Anyway, when I finally got the word "away" I figured that was a much safer choice. I searched around on and found this:

Away by Amy Bloom

This story takes place during the early 1920's. Lillian Leyb is the main character - a young Jewish wife and mother whose entire family is slaughtered in a Russian pogrom. After losing her parents, husband, and little daughter, Lillian comes to America to start a new life. We follow along as Lillian tries to make her way in a new land. When word reaches Lillian that her daughter may have actually survived the massacre, she begins a desperate journey to try and find the truth. Her search takes her from New York's Lower East Side, to Seattle, to Alaska, and along the "fabled Telegraph Trail" toward Siberia, where she thinks her daughter may be living. The hardships she faces during her search are great. Throughout her travels, she meets several people who impact her life in some way or other. One thing I really liked about this book - even though Lillian moved on and was no longer involved with a person, the author lets you know how that person's life played out. She gives a brief synopsis to let you know what became of the people Lillian met.

The book started a little slowly for me at first, but, I was drawn in soon enough. Then, it became a fairly quick and easy read. Without giving away the ending, I will just say that I thought it was rather abrupt; not quite what I was expecting. But, it was a satisfying ending, nonetheless.

(if you decide to check out this book, be aware that it does contain some mature sexual subject matter)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm Back

I feel like I have been gone forever! We spent last week vacationing in Florida. After driving home, straight through the night for 14 hours, I had just enough time at home to unpack, do a little laundry, repack, and get a couple hours sleep before I caught a plane to Chicago. I went to take a one-day RN refresher course, but, my friend went along with me and we made it into a girl's getaway weekend. While I was in Chicago, I started coming down with something (sore throat, earache, headache, chills) and now here I am six days later, and I still have it - I feel awful! I don't know if it's a sinus infection, the flu, or strep, or what. I'm going to the doctor later this afternoon, so hopefully I can get some relief soon.

We had a great time in Florida - a nice, relaxing vacation where we mostly just hung out at the beach and/or the pool. The weather was perfect and on our last night, we actually stood on our balcony and got to watch the space shuttle launch. It was pretty amazing to see.

Chicago was great, too (even though I was sick - thank goodness for ibuprofen because it kept me going). We stayed just outside of the downtown area, but, rode the train/subway in and did a lot of sightseeing and shopping (even if it was just window-shopping for me). I really love Chicago - if I was a young, single girl, I would move there in a heartbeat. I enjoyed the nursing class, it definitely helped me to feel more confident and brushed-up on my skills (I've been out of the nursing field for eleven years which feels like a very long time). Now, all I have to do is turn in proof of my continuing education hours that I've completed over the last few months, pay a fee, and then my RN license will be reinstated. Yeah! I will probably start looking for a job once school starts back later next month.

I feel totally out of the loop because I went so long without computer access. Thanks to those of you who stopped by and commented while I was gone. Hopefully, I can get caught up in my blog-reading over the next few days. I'll be back soon with a few pics from my trips and another book review for the Take A Chance Challenge that I'm participating in.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Conversations with a 7 yr. old

This is a scheduled post because we are currently at the beach. While we are on vacation, I have picked out a few of my previous blog entries to repost. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you soon!


Random conversation with my seven year old son...

Z: When you die and go to heaven, are you really still alive and able to move your body?

Me: Well, sort of...your physical body dies and is left here on earth, but, your spiritual body goes to heaven (I'm already thinking maybe my explanation was not a good one and was too deep for him)

Z: But, can you walk around in heaven?

Me: Yeah, I think so.

Z: Good. Then it'll be fun to go there and see everybody

Me: Yep

Z: It must be pretty big up there

Don't you just love how there little minds work!


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Women through the Ages"

This is a scheduled post because we are currently at the beach. While we are on vacation, I have picked out a few of my previous blog entries to repost. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you soon!


This is really cool and so beautiful! I came across it while "stumbling" around the internet. Go take a look....

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Dan In Real Life

This is a scheduled post - we are currently at the beach on vacation. Thanks for stopping by.

I've probably mentioned this one before, it's great. Steve Carell is hilarious. Hilarious! It also stars Juliette Binoche, one of my favorite actresses. This movie is so much fun. I love the whole crazy scenario - big family coming back home to visit, everybody in each other's business, the fun and games that they play. And, another bonus, the soundtrack is fantastic. Check it out....

Monday, July 13, 2009

7 Things Meme

This is a scheduled post because we are currently at the beach. While we are on vacation, I have picked out a few of my previous blog entries to repost. Thanks for stopping by and see you soon.

I've been tagged by Martha to do the "7 things about me" meme. (By the way, if you haven't read her blog, check it out. She has a wicked funny sense of humor and really cracks me up). This is my first time being tagged so I guess you could call me a "meme virgin". I'm about to divulge some little know facts about myself, but, don't let them scare you away. I promise, I'm a perfectly normal person (or so I keep telling myself). Here goes:

1. I am generally in a bad mood if it's a sunny day. I know this goes against the laws of nature, but, it's true. Give me an overcast, cloudy day anytime. Hubby says I must be wired wrong. When it's sunny, I tend to get a headache, not to mention that I can spot all the windows that need cleaning in my house or see the dust on our piano that I need to clean. At night, I'm constantly yelling at the kids to "turn off the lights". I just prefer darkness. Maybe I used to be a vampire. Scary.

2. I'm obsessive-compulsive. Seriously, it's getting worse as I get older. At night, I have my little ritual that I go through before bed (in order) -- checking to make sure the garage door is closed, checking to make sure the basement lights are out, checking that I turned off the water to my washing machine, and checking that my oven is turned off and that the coffee maker is unplugged (which is totally weird because I don't unplug any other appliance), making sure all the doors are locked. Checking all the kid's rooms. And, when I'm grocery shopping, I can't take the first item off the shelf, I have to reach back and take the fourth item. This one really gets hubby, drives him crazy...if we are lounging around on the couch watching tv, we like to cuddle up under a quilt. The quilt HAS to be right side up (the 'piecing' part has to be up, not against my skin). There's more, but, like I said, I don't want to scare you away. They probably have medication for this. I should check into that.

3. I hate to dust (see post #1). Seriously, I would scrub toilets till the cows come home. Just don't make me dust. Enough said.

4. I've had the same best friend, Anna, for 33 years. Our families knew each other before we were born. We were in kindergarten together, and from then on, we were inseperable. We know everything (good and bad) about each other. And, she's the one I call when I am upset or need to vent. We both have four kids. We have a pact that if one of us somehow ends up in a coma, the other will come to the hospital to do our pedicures (we both have a problem with untidy feet). And, if I die, she is to come onto my computer and let all my bloggy friends know (she also is directed to destroy certain items hidden in my house, I'm not SAYING it's a sex tape or sex toy, but, you think what you want). She's totally got my back!

5. I am a magazine junkie. I buy fashion magazines, decorating magazines, scrapbooking magazines, celebrity gossip magazines...I can't help myself. It's something that I'm really trying to work on.

6. I am nosey. Very. When we moved into our neighborhood, we were the first family to live here (it was a new development). Every time a car would drive by at night, I would jump up and look out the window. "Who is that?" "Why are they driving here?" After all, no one else even lived in the neighborhood yet. One night during my nosey nightwatch, I saw a truck pull into the garage of a house that was still under construction. I figured they were either a)kids looking for a place to make out or b)going to vandalize or steal from the house, so I called the police. The police came and ran them off. I should start a neighborhood block watch program or something.

7. I have a huge fear of deep water. If it's even up to my mid-chest, I cannot stand it. I do know how to swim, but, I wouldn't call myself a strong swimmer. I HATE going to the lake. I've swore that I will NEVER EVER go on a cruise ship (a huge bummer for hubby). I love the ocean, but, only if we're strolling along the shore, no more than knee deep. And, I try really hard not to project this fear of water onto my kids, but, I'm a nervous wreck when they are swimming or around water. On the other hand, hubby loves the water. He grew up going to the lake, water-skiing, boating...etc. His family does not understand or sympathize with my fear, and it can really tick me off. This has been a issue between us many times during our marriage. Last summer, we went to Florida with his family. One night we went out to dinner at a restaurant that was on the bay. There were docks where you could walk around to see the fishing boats. My sister-in-law decided she wanted to make a family picture on the dock. This particular part of the dock, was extremely narrow and had no railing or anything. There were twelve of us, and she wanted all of us to cram together on this narrow strip of wood with no railing! A couple steps to the right or left and you would be in the water. She asked another patron who happened to be standing by, if they would take the picture for us. Now, usually I am somewhat meek and quiet, so at first I didn't say anything. Then as she continued to try to get everyone posed for the picture, I started to get really freaked out. The kids were all over the place, there was no room, it was crowded (I'm about to hyperventilate at this point). I quietly mentioned that I thought we should move to another spot. I mentioned this twice but no one paid any attention. So, finally I totally lost it and started yelling "I CAN NOT STAND HERE, I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS"...etc. I made a real spectacle of myself, I tell ya. All the people standing nearby stopped talking and looked over to see what was going on. There was even a small stage on the dock with a band playing, and yes, even the some of the band members looked over to see what all the commotion was. Hubby was mortified, but I could not help it. We left shortly after and as soon as we got in our car to drive away, I burst out crying (I tried to hold it back because the kids were with us, but, there was no holding it back). Maybe I should cry in front of my kids more often. They were totally quiet and when we got back to the condo, they were walking right next to me, holding my hand, rubbing my back. I suppose they thought I had lost it. Hopefully they aren't too traumatized.

So there you have it. Now, you know some weird little tidbits about me. Hopefully, you won't hold them against me and you'll still come by and visit my blog. If you would like to do the "7 things" meme, go for it. Just post it on your blog and leave me a comment here so I can come over and read all about ya. Thanks, Martha! That was pretty liberating, LOL!


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Funny Dog - Good Dog

This is a scheduled post because we are currently at the beach. While we are on vacation, I have picked out a few of my previous blog entries to repost. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you soon!


Here's a couple pictures to share of our dog, Emma. She is spoiled rotten, we like to call her the diva. She loves to sleep (especially with her head on a pillow), if she has to go out to the bathroom, she rings a bell that is hanging on our back door, but, if the ground is wet, she will tiptoe around and act as if she doesn't want to get her feet wet (sometimes she will turn right around and run back in the house). And, she has to be in the middle of I was trying to unload my dishwasher and fix dinner, and she was laying in the kitchen floor right in my way, she wouldn't budge. (please excuse my messy kitchen)

Here she's sleeping in front of the fireplace, with her ear sticking straight up. I guess she doesn't want to miss anything.

On a serious note, she is a really good dog. I've never posted about this before, but, our youngest son, who is seven, is on medication for seizures. In February, he started having seizures. The first time was during the night, while he was sleeping (he happened to be sleeping in bed with me that night, as DH was working overnight at the firehouse). He's had a CT scan, MRI, EEG's...all tests have been normal. Since February, he has had about 15 seizures; they have all been, thank goodness, at night and/or when he was sleeping. Although they are not classifying them as febrile seizures, we've noticed a pattern in that they always occur either shortly before, during, or after he's had a fever or starting to come down with a little bug. Usually when he has a seizure, he will go on to have a cluster of one or two more throughout that night. For most of the seizures, they are about a minute or less, and, he stays somewhat awake, screaming through the whole thing. A couple of the seizures have been more of the grand mal type -- where he is totally out of it, wetting his pants, and goes into a deep sleep afterwards. Those are the scariest. The neurologist has told us that many kids have seizures for unknown reasons and then outgrow them. We are praying for that. We were also told that the seizures do not actually harm him or cause damage. Last week, a stomach virus hit our house. Everyone but DH was sick at some point over a period of about 10 days. "Z" (our youngest) had been having some tummy symptoms for about a day. When he went to bed that particular night, Emma (our dog) followed him and slept on the floor right next to the bed. This is very unusual because she has her certain spots in the living room where she sleeps EVERY single night. It was like she was keeping watch over him. I remarked to DH that I thought this was strange, that she hardly ever slept in the bedroom. Sure enough, later that night after we were all sleeping, Z had two seizures. I think maybe Emma knew or could sense something and that is why she was sleeping near Z. Any time he has had a seizure, Emma has immediately run to his side and stood by until it was over. Our other son, who is nine, had three seizures when he was two years old. He was on medication for two years, and *knock on wood* has never had another seizure. They do not really think that the two cases are related, just a strange coincidence. We just pray that Z does outgrow the seizures and that if or when he has another one, it will continue to happen at night, when he is at home safely tucked in bed. My worst nightmare is that it would happen while he is at school and not with me. Overall, he is a healthy little boy and we are thankful for that. Thanks for listening!


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Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Phantom of the Cell Phone

This is a scheduled post because we are currently at the beach. While we are on vacation, I have picked out a few of my previous blog entries to repost. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you soon!


Phantom cell phone ringing and/or vibrating....have you ever heard of such a thing? A few weeks ago, on my AOL home page, I saw a link to an article about just this phenomenon. I clicked over and began reading. What it refers to is this - a person thinks they hear their cell phone ring (or feel it vibrate, such as if it were in their pocket). But, when they retrieve their phone to answer it, it was never actually ringing (or vibrating). I searched "phantom cell phone ringing" on the internet and discovered numerous articles and stories on this topic. Check out these excerpts from this Associated Press story found on

Many mobile phone addicts and BlackBerry junkies report feeling vibrations when there are none, or feeling as if they're wearing a cell phone when they're not.

Some users compare the feeling to a phantom limb, which Merriam-Webster's medical dictionary defines as "an often painful sensation of the presence of a limb that has been amputated."

Research in the area is scant, but theories abound about the phenomenon, which has been termed "ringxiety" or "fauxcellarm."

Anecdotal evidence suggests "people feel the phone is part of them" and "they're not whole" without their phones, since the phones connect them to the world, said B.J. Fogg, director of research and design at Stanford University's Persuasive Technology Lab.

Maybe it's just because the subject has been fresh in my mind. But, I have come to the conclusion that I am definitely afflicted by this sensation. My cell phone is with me nearly 100% of the time, usually in my pocket, or on my bedside table at night. I can't tell you how many times I have felt that little vibration on my leg, pulled my phone out of my pocket, and nothing. I've even felt the vibrating sensation when my cell phone wasn't in my pocket at all. I have a basic cell phone that I use for making calls and sending an occasional text message. I don't use my phone for email or the internet at all. But, I am someone who feels lost when my cell phone is not with me. I guess I am one of those aforementioned "mobile phone addicts." I found this statement (from a story by Joe Orso found here via Columbia News Service) very interesting:

Spokespeople from Cellular and T-Mobile said they have never heard of the phenomenon, but Christine Rosen, senior editor of “The New Atlantis,” a journal of technology and society, speculated that phantom cell phone vibrations, or PCVs, are psychosomatic.

“Cell phone users talk about the reassurance of being constantly connected,” Rosen said. “It signals to everyone around you that you’re part of another community. So you’re not just a stranger in a public space, but you’re a person who’s in demand and who can demand the attention of someone else.”

That is so true. We all want to feel like we warrant the attention of others, don't we? And, doesn't if feel good to show others that we are part of something? Is that one of the reasons many of us have become so dependent on our cell phones and other mobile devices? What about you? Have you ever experienced phantom cell phone ringing? How attached are you to your cell phone? I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts....


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Friday, July 10, 2009


This is a scheduled post because we are currently on our way to the beach. While we are on vacation, I have picked out a few of my previous posts to share again. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you soon!


This news video cracked me up. Check it out....

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Heading South

Just a quick note to say that we will be in Florida for the next week. Upon returning, I will then be heading to Chicago (literally, just a few hours after driving home from Florida, I'll be hopping on a plane). I'm going there to take a one day RN Refresher course, and my friend is coming along with me to make it a girl's weekend trip. I can't wait! While I'm gone, I will probably have little to no computer access. So, I have chosen a few of my previous blog entries and scheduled them to repost throughout the week. See you soon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

13th Birthday Candy-Themed Party

This week, we had a "candy-themed" party for my daughter's 13th birthday. We don't normally do big, theme parties for our kids birthdays; they are usually just smaller family affairs. But, we figured turning 13 was somewhat of a milestone (she's officially a teenager, ack!).

Part 1: The Party Details

We set up a candy-filled buffet table - cotton candy, bubble gum, chocolate, Jolly Ranchers, Starburst, Nerds, and more.....

They played a few games - one was to guess how many jelly beans were in the jar. Another was called 'Name That Candy'. They were given a list of clues describing kinds of candy (ex. Can't hold onto anything = Butterfingers), and then given two minutes to try and figure them out. And, also, a sort-of musical-hot-potato game. A gift was wrapped in about seven different layers of wrapping paper. They passed the gift around the circle while the music played. The girl holding the gift when the music stopped got to unwrap one layer of paper. This went on until the last layer was unwrapped, that girl won the gift.

We made little party favor bags filled with Baby Bottle Pops, mini gumball machines, lip balm, and more candy....

Everything was going along pretty well - the girls seemed to have fun with the games, they were enjoying the candy, my daughter got a lot of very nice, generous gifts. They played outside in the yard for awhile - some kind of hide-and-go-seek game that involved all of them texting on their cell phones;o) I even commented to my husband on how they were so well-behaved and quiet - not what I was expecting from a big group of 13 yr-old girls.

Part 2: The Part Where Things Went Downhill - A.K.A. Mean Girls

My daughter had rented a movie to watch at the party - it was a horror flick. The girls all piled into the living room to start watching tv. Things were going so smoothly, that I went to my room and sat down to watch The Bachelorette. I periodically checked in on the girls (really, I did, every 20 minutes or so). A few of the girls decided they didn't want to watch the scary movie, so they went out to the back yard. I could see them, they were all sitting down, playing around with their cell phones and eating candy. So, I went back in - I had to get back to The Bachelorette, you know.

Well, 45 minutes later, things had went downhill. Drastically. Several of the girls decided (without my knowledge) to walk down the street (one of the girls lives at the end of the street). They went to her house and got bathing suits, came back here, and went to our next-door-neighbor's house (a 12 yr-old boy they all know) and went swimming in his pool! WITHOUT ME KNOWING! (I guess I suck as a chaperone) They just totally ditched my daughter and her party. They only swam for a very short time, then they all came back and hung out on our back porch with the neighbor boy. He is our next door neighbor and we know him very well; we're friends with his parents. But, in the company of all those girls, I guess he felt the need to show off a little bit. He was mouthing off about how my daughter's party was "lame" and boring. My daughter ended up hiding out in the bathroom crying. I was so furious. I didn't want to cause a big scene, that would just embarrass my daughter. But, I went outside and told the kids that I didn't appreciate them leaving without telling me; that I was responsible for them while they were here and if they didn't want to be here, I would call their parents to pick them up. I'm sure they thought I was a "you-know-what" but I didn't care. I should also mention, my 11 yr-old son was with them during all of this - he swam with them and hung out with them outside. So, he had a little lecture in store for him as well. My daughter played it off and acted like everything was fine, but, I know she was so hurt. It wasn't all of the girls, just four or five of them. While they continued to hang outside, they totally trashed our back porch. Candy wrappers and candy laying everywhere. When they left, they just walked off and left it all there, they didn't care what kind of mess they were leaving. I couldn't believe it! And, to top it off, only two or three parents actually came to the door as they dropped off their kids. I never even saw the other parents. They dropped off the kids and left. Then at pickup time, several of them picked the girls up down the street at the other's house. UGH! Am I over-reacting? Am I just being this way because my daughter was hurt by the "mean girls"? We've known several of the girls for years, but, the few others, I don't really know the parents all that well.

My daughter didn't want to talk about things after it was all over. I told her to try and not take it personally and to let it be a lesson as to who her true friends are. Her real friends stayed and hung out with her during the party. Her real friends didn't run off to hang out with a boy. Her real friends helped her clean up the mess that was left on the porch.

If you're still reading, thanks for hanging in and listening to me vent. I would love to hear your thought on this subject.

Movie Trailer Tuesday - The Land Girls

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Aloha Friday - Questions

It's time for Aloha Friday - time to take it easy and get ready for the weekend. I'll post something quick and simple for you to answer. Answer any or each of the following:

1. What is your biggest pet peeve?

2. What's the last movie you watched?

3. Name one of your favorite songs right now?

4. What is your favorite season?

My answers:

1. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone leaves the toilet lid up. Or, even worse, when someone does not flush. Ewwwww!

2. The last movie I watched was Mad Money

3. One of my favorite songs right now is Fire Burning by Sean Kingston (just try not to bop your head and dance when you hear this song, LOL)

4. My favorite season is winter - I love cold, gray days.

For more Aloha Friday visit An Island Life.


This is what's happening within the next 2 weeks:

*Throwing a 13th birthday party for my daughter - she just decided last night she wants a party with 8 of her girlfriends, so I have to throw something together in the next four days. I think we are going with a "candy theme". We are currently in super-duper-party-planning mode.

*Get new tires on my vehicle.

*Pack for our entire family so that we can take a 5-day trip to Florida -- our kids do not even know about this, it's a surprise!

*Return from Florida (probably late at night) and, literally, about 6-8 hours later, get on a plane and head to Chicago (weekend trip with a friend; I'll also be taking an RN Refresher course one of the days I'm there)

Oh, and I would like to lose about 15 pounds before I have to hit the beach. I'm thinking that's not going to happen, though.