Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Well, as I’m writing this, it's the last day of November, but most likely you are reading on the first day of December since I think most of you read this blog during the day. Either way, we have only one month left in 2011 and I don't know about you, but I find that extremely hard to believe. I'm sure I've said it on here before, but I'll take this time to say it again. When I was a kid I thought people were crazy when they said time flies because for me, it seemed like an eternity until the next Christmas or birthday or school year or what have you, but now that I'm older, I am saying the same thing, time really does fly by and it seems to go faster and faster with each passing year.

Are ya'll ready for Christmas? I have all of my presents bought with the exception of a few gift cards which I will most likely get at the last minute because that's when I will have the funds for said gift cards. I do so well to budget for Christmas each year but this year with all the other unexpected expenses and cut in salary, those funds seemed to disappear a lot quicker. Once I get through Christmas and January, I will be able to start building back up my savings account, thank the good Lord. I'd theoretically like to go to France again in 2013 but not sure if that will happen or not. Yes, I have officially been bit by the European bug and can't wait for my next trip overseas.

So, anyway, back to Christmas, which was my original question. I have my tree up and my Grinch figurines out and that's all I put out this year, which I think is all I put out last year too. Practically all of my guest bedroom is loaded down with Christmas presents, none of which have been wrapped and I have absolutely no motivation to start wrapping, much to my chagrin. Hopefully I will get started soon or I may be handing folks unwrapped boxes with Merry Christmas written across the top, with my address label "X"ed out. Maybe this weekend I will be able to get in the Christmas spirit, here's to hoping anyway. I'm thinking about going to the Christmas parade on Saturday. I haven't been in years but we used to go every year when I was a kid. I might take The Tide with me too, which should make for a good story or two. I've asked my parents to come along too so maybe the three humans and two dogs will load up and head downtown for some parade-fun - I will let you know.

Tomorrow (or today if you are reading on Thursday) my dad, granddad (supposed to be) and I are heading to Tuscaloosa for the state high school football finals - otherwise known as the Super Six. It's been a sweet forever since I've been to the finals. We used to go down for the day when it was in Birmingham to watch no one in particular; but this year is a special year because Madison Academy made it to the final game and they are playing Thursday morning at 11:00. Last week's game was the best atmosphere of a high school game that I have seen in years. The final game is being played at Bryant Denny Stadium and I personally cannot wait to eat about three Bryant Denny dogs. In other words, I'll be taking out a small loan to hit the concession stand. Keep your fingers crossed for me that the Bryant Denny dog will be served because if it's not, I will be so sad as I will have to wait all winter, spring, and summer before I will be able to eat that delicacy again next football season.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ladies' Night Christmas Party

Monday night was our annual Ladies’ Night Out Christmas ornament exchange and as always, it was a lot of fun. The past year or two Erika has gone with me; but this year she couldn’t make it so I went solo (we are making up for it by going out to dinner Tuesday night). Despite the bad weather, there was still a good turnout (26 people). I was a little concerned because with predictions of a wintery mix, you never know who might back out.

The menu for the evening was salads and desserts and there was plenty of good food as always. We played a game of dirty Santa for the ornament exchange as we always do and as expected it provided a lot of laughs. By the way, who came up with the name dirty Santa? I’m too lazy to look it up, but if you know, please feel free to share in the comments.

As my ornament I brought a spoon with “merry and bright” engraved on it. I thought it was quite cute and wouldn’t have minded taking it home with me, but Sandra ended up with it. She licked it to try to keep it in her possession but it was stolen and obviously she eventually got it back. I bought it from GroopDealz, which if you haven’t checked out you should because it’s a great site for discounted hand crafted items. I’ve bought quite a few things from there as gifts and whatnot.

I brought home an ornament that is glass and oval and inside is Santa and his sleigh. I actually had two stuffed snowmen ornaments but traded with someone who liked them. I have a few stuffed snowmen already and really liked the glass Santa scene so the trade worked out well for both of us. I found a spot for it on my tree when I got home. I didn’t put all my ornaments on the tree this year. A lot of the ornaments I have are just cheap ones I have bought over the years and so this year I only put up ornaments that people made, or gave me or have special meaning so there was room on the tree for this one, no problem.

It was a fun night with the ladies and our last event of the year. I always take December off since we all have a lot of things to do with family and friends and it gives me a break from having to plan anything before the New Year starts.

Hope you all had a nice Monday evening as well. Stay warm!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. Ours was rather low key this year with a whopping seven people in attendance. The food was good and ended up being almost all gone by the time people took home leftovers and my dad took some plates down to the hospital to some friends.

Friday morning, my dad picked me up at 4:15 and we headed out for our annual Black Friday shopping. We first went to the mall and received $10 gift cards that the mall gave away. From there we went to Office Depot and each bought printers and jump drives. I also bought some paper and my dad got some ink cartridges. After Office Depot, we made stops at Dick’s, Shoe Carnival, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Kohl’s. We bought a few things along the way and ended the morning at Gibson’s where we had breakfast and ran into many people we knew.

Friday night my dad and I headed over to Greenhill (close to Florence) for the Madison Academy game against Rogers. The Mustangs won and are headed to the state finals in Tuscaloosa on Thursday and we plan to make the trek down south with them.

Saturday I did some decorating at church for a shower as well as some house cleaning and set up the Christmas tree. I watched the Alabama-Auburn game at my parents’ house and we grilled burgers. Then I came home and did a little more cleaning and watched some more football.

Sunday was church and a wedding shower at church and I made a batch of Erika’s white chicken chili. Now it’s Sunday evening and after four days off from work, I’m wishing for just one more.

I’m feeling a lot better from the pneumonia but the medicine I took for it has left me in a lot of pain so I’m anxious for it to leave my system so I will hopefully be feeling better. The medicine has a tendency to tear tendons and has attacked my body like nobody’s business. I pretty much ache from head to toe and am still exhausted on top of that. So, while my lungs are feeling better, my body still isn’t at 100%. Hopefully I will be back to normal within the next week because I am anxious to get back to the gym and to a normal routine.

So, that’s all the news from my corner of the world. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are well on your way to putting a dent in your Christmas shopping.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games Series

It’s a short work week this week, which is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, well, I only have to work three days and a curse because all short work weeks seem to last longer than a regular five day work week. Why is that? At any rate, it will be Thanksgiving tomorrow and I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to some good food and some good deals at the store on Friday.

Today’s post is a book review in case some of you are looking for a good book to buy a family member or two. Have any of you heard of The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins? Well, if not, today is your lucky day because I’m going to tell you all about it. It seems like a handful of people mentioned this book series to me over the past few months and I don’t know if it didn’t sink in or what because I never got around to ordering or borrowing these books from anyone. I think it was at the Rainbow Omega dinner when we were talking about books that Jan mentioned The Hunger Games. She had borrowed the book from her grandson, Dalton. I made a mental note and a week or two later ordered the set for myself.

A few days after my books arrived, I got an email from Jackie that said I must immediately go get the books and start reading them. She had borrowed them from Jan and started reading and basically couldn’t put it down. Jackie sent her email on Friday (11th) and on Sunday (13th) I started reading and pretty much didn’t stop reading for the rest of the week. I am now on the third book in the series which is taking me a little longer only because I got side tracked catching up on a TV show everyone is raving about. Jackie read the first book in one day, it took me three. She’s a faster reader and has some free time at her job to read whereas I only have 30 minutes to read while I’m at work and I’m addicted to television. I will say, though I let the DVR take over and didn’t watch as much TV as I normally do so that I could get more reading time in – that’s saying something, people!

I don’t know how Ms. Collins came up with her idea for the book but it is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read. In a way, I suppose you could compare the events in her book to the events that took place when gladiators performed in an arena and maybe that’s what originally gave her the idea; but there’s so much more to it than that.

The premise of the book is this: It’s the future and what was once known as North America is now known as Panem, a country divided into 13 districts. As a result of an uprising against the Capitol 74 years before, the districts send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight in The Hunger Games. The names of the children are placed in a bowl and one name is drawn at random. The names drawn are called tributes and they are thrown into an arena of unknown elements and must fight to the death until only one remains.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of drama in this book. You will turn every page with anticipation reading as fast as you can to find out what happens next. The story is told from the perspective of one of the tributes. Does she survive? Well, you will have to find out for yourself when you read the book. The characters are very relatable and well-developed and the story telling is so incredible you will be left wanting more.

Jackie mentioned that it has been a long time since she got this lost in a book before and I would have to agree. While I loved the Steig Larrson series, this trilogy was even better. I think I’ve mentioned before that I know I’m in love with a book when I dream about it and that was certainly the case with this series as well. I have dreamt about and thought about these books for more than what one would call normal. You’d think these things were actually going on right now and I was in the middle of it all.

The second book (Catching Fire) was just as wonderful as the first and as mentioned I am still reading the third (Mockingjay). These books are geared towards teenagers, but I seriously don’t know why because it was enough to make this grown gal cry and sigh and even get enraged at times. Seriously, go get these books for the book reader on your list or splurge and get them for yourself. They are so good and you will be glad you did!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011: The Year of Spending

As if my savings account was obliterated enough, it has taken yet another hit. This time it’s the heating and air unit. Yes, folks, renting has it privileges. I love being a homeowner, I don’t, however, always love the expenses that come with it.

As you probably know, we’ve had some cold weather recently; for some reason it’s usually on the weekend, starting on Friday night which probably is the main contributor to my current illness. I had noticed that on those cold nights, my heat would stay on constantly and that the unit itself would rev up for all of about two seconds (yes, I counted) and then cut off. Finally on Saturday morning, I called the HVAC guy we use and Monday he got back with me. After chatting with him for a few minutes he said it probably just needed some Freon. That sounded good to me, couldn’t be more than $50 or so – wrong!

He came by around 4:30 to take a look at the unit. It had a small leak which would probably be fixable by using a syringe of some special stuff (don’t you love these technical terms). I said that would be fine. The special stuff, Freon and the service fee added up to $200 – so much for that $50 I was thinking of earlier in the day. Then when he went to put the Freon in, discovered some damage to some other part which he is going to replace tomorrow, thankfully at his cost, which he guesses to be between $60 and $80. Bless his heart, the look on my face must have made him take pity on me. I would be terrible at poker – I always reveal what I’m thinking on my face whether I realize it or not.

I wrote the check for $200 and quickly got online and transferred the rest of my Christmas spending money to my main account to pay for it. I have never been more grateful for the 3.5 hours of overtime I managed to accumulate for my upcoming paycheck. Somehow I’ve managed to get in an overtime hour here and there and have yet to get reprimanded for it. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time but until that time comes I’m going to try and get another hour or two in so some folks I know can have a Merry Christmas.

When it comes down to it, I really am grateful and blessed to be able to pay for the repairs that need to be made to the unit. Some people don’t have that ability and I’m also blessed and grateful to have a job while so many other people don’t. So, in the grand scheme of things it’s really not that big of a deal, but, man, it would be so nice to not have to spend a few hundred dollars on my car or house or teeth for a while. Here’s to hoping 2012 will be a year of saving as opposed to a year of spending.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Twighlight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I

On Saturday, Jackie, Maria and I went to see Breaking Dawn Part I and I must admit it was rather good. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read the Twilight books so all the specific details were not fresh on my mind to compare with the movie but from what I can remember, the filmmakers did quite a nice job.

We went to the 1:30 showing and arrived at the theater about 30 minutes or so before the movie started. The theater was already filling up, but we managed to find some good seats about midway up. Luckily I was on the aisle. We had gone for sushi before and I had water to drink along with hot tea and some soup and I felt for sure I would have to make multiple trips to the bathroom. I actually only had to get up once, when Edward and Bella were on their honeymoon and it wasn’t for a bathroom break, it was because I started coughing and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stop and didn’t want to be one of those annoying people at the movies. So, I got up and it’s a good thing I did because the coughing also made me a little sick if you know what I mean and so I darted into the bathroom to clean myself up. Thankfully no one noticed my shirt being wet when I came back in and I had a sweatshirt to pull on as well.

I guess you’re probably not reading this for all the gory details of my trip out of the movie though, so let’s continue shall we? The movie was just wonderful. I’ve come to love these actors as the characters from the book over the years. Admittedly, I wasn’t thrilled with them in the first movie, but they have grown on me and each movie I think I love them even more. The wedding scene was really beautiful and quite realistic, not cheesy like so many wedding scenes can be. The special effects were once again great, especially when Jacob and the others transformed into the wolf pack. There were a lot of sentimental moments as well and you may have even spotted a tear or two amongst the three of us. Clearly we are teenagers at heart.

The scenes of Bella’s pregnancy were also quite good. They made her to look quite terrible, perhaps even more terrible than I pictured in the book. The delivery scene was riveting and had me on the edge of my seat even though I knew what was going to happen. I figured the movie would end when Edward transformed Bella into a vampire and in a way it did as the very last scene had Bella opening her eyes and her eyes being blood red.

Part II doesn’t come out until November 16, 2012! 2012! That’s a whole year from now. Whatever will we do? Wait, I guess. I hate waiting. If you are a lover of these books or movies then you will not be disappointed when you go see this one. It was a real pleaser and was enjoyed by all three of us.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yet Another Update

It seems as though every time I post an update about Justin, something else happens to change the update I just posted. The day I posted that he was going to rehab, he managed to open that smart mouth of his and his chance of going rehab was revoked and now it seems as though he will be going to prison after all. He will have a court date and a sentencing date, etc. etc. So, it will be a while yet before we know what his exact fate will be. At any rate, just please keep him in your prayers because no matter what happens, he clearly needs all the prayers he can get.

As for me, I have walking pneumonia, as opposed to sitting pneumonia I guess. I went to the clinic on Saturday and got some medication and am already feeling some better. Hopefully I will be even better as the week goes on as I have some dishes to make for Thanksgiving, not to mention Black Friday shopping and a football game on Friday night.

Hope you all had a great weekend. Movie review coming up tomorrow (Monday) morning!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Happy Friday ya’ll! Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? I don’t know about you, but 2011 has flown by for me! Christmas will be here before you know it! I hope you’ve all got a big jump on your Christmas shopping. I’ve got most of mine done but still have a few things yet to buy and some gifts to get which I have no idea yet what the gift will be – yikes! Hopefully I will come up with something good. I need to get started on wrapping and with any luck will get some of that knocked out this weekend.

I wanted to give everyone an update on Justin’s situation. I’m happy to report that Justin was given an opportunity to go to a rehab facility rather than straight to prison. Every time I think he’s used his last chance, he seems to get another one. I’m glad he was given this opportunity and pray that he will use it to his advantage. I hope you will also remember him in your prayers as every day is a battle for him against his addiction. He will be back in time for Christmas, which is great because I am most excited about the gifts I got for him. I think he will really like them. Here’s to wishing for a drama free Christmas!

The Black Lung has improved somewhat over the course of the past couple of days thanks to high dosages of nighttime cold medicine and Nyquil. I take it around 5:00 so that I’ll have a good 12 ½ hours to sleep it off before I have to go to work. So far it’s working out well. I sure hope it continues!

I thought there would be another thing or two to update everyone on, but I really can’t think of anything at the moment. Next week I should have some book reviews and most likely a movie review of Breaking Dawn. Jackie and I have already bought our tickets! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles

So, on Tuesday night, Jackie and I went out for a night on the town to see RAIN, A Tribute to the Beatles. I had seen RAIN a couple of years ago when they were last in Huntsville. Tony and I had tickets and enjoyed the show immensely. So, when I heard they were coming again, I emailed Jackie and asked her if she would be interested in going. She said yes and so when the tickets went on sale, I rushed down to be one of the first people in line, which paid off as we ended up being on the third row.

Jackie picked me up around 7:00 and we went to the VBC where we parked and quickly made our way in, it was raining after all. My parents were at the show as well and were the first people we saw as we made our way into the seating area of the concert hall. As we made our way to our seats, we saw another couple we know, Randal and Janice, who are both lovers of The Beatles.

When we sat down I immediately put a cough drop in my mouth which helped a little but the black lung prevailed and I did a lot of coughing too, which unfortunately prevented me from singing along to a lot of the songs. My fellow concert goers were probably happy about that fact. The lady next to me probably thought she was going to catch some kind of terrible disease from me.

When Tony and I went to the show a couple of years ago, there was a man on the front row who wrote down the set list from the concert. Each time the group started up a new song, he would pump his fist, slam his hand on the stage, bring out his pen and write down the name of the song. We got such a kick out of watching this guy. I had emailed Tony earlier in the day and we both wondered as to whether or not Set List Guy would be there. Sure enough, when Jackie and I sat down, I looked to the front and there he was, Set List Guy. I was thrilled as I knew he would provide me with a night full of laughs. He did not disappoint.

The show started a few minutes after 7:30 and it was every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be. As a lover of The Beatles, this is as close as someone my age, or any age at this point in time, can get to a Beatles concert experience. They played a wonderful line up of Beatles songs and I wanted to sing along to each one. A few times during the show, they panned the audience with a camera and put the images on the screens at the front. I looked to see if I spotted anyone I knew. The only face I recognized was the mayor, Tommy Battle. I did not see him waving a copy of his battle plan, but he was clapping and maybe singing along. When Tony and I used to go to a lot of shows and what have you, we would always see my favorite Huntsville mayor, Loretta. Jackie said maybe being the mayor means you get tickets to all the big shows and events in Huntsville. Nice perk.

Set List Guy and his crew of crazy drunk friends did not write down the set list this year, but you could tell from the expression on his face that he was completely mesmerized by the guys on stage. He kept pointing at them or giving them spirit fingers and when he wasn’t doing that, he was just starring at them ands rubbing his beard. I wish ya’ll could have seen the expression on his face. I told Jackie that his expression made him look like a stalker as if those guys on stage were going to be his or else. I have never seen an adult so mesmerized by anything like that before. During the second act, I started pointing at the stage too and it gave me and Jackie a good laugh. We cracked up each time I did it. I would point and she would do the spirit fingers. If only we had someone with us to stare and rub his beard.

The show lasted about two hours I guess, including intermission. I think it might have even been better than the last show. It seems like they had some different props this time. Jackie enjoyed the show as well. I’m so glad she went along and got to see the show. We had a nice time – it’s always nice to get away from the realities of life for a while and just immerse yourself in music for a couple of hours, especially music by The Beatles. If you’ve never seen the show, be sure and catch it the next time they are in town. It seems like they are usually in Huntsville every couple of years. So, be sure and get your tickets early. You may end up next to Set List Guy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Black Lung

I didn’t do much this past weekend, which seems to be kind of the norm right now. That’s how it goes during college football season. I may not enjoy hearing about it all day long at work, but I sure do enjoy watching it all day on Saturday. I’m just one of those folks who, by the time Monday rolls around, am done talking about last Saturday’s game and am looking ahead to the next game. Call me crazy.

Last Friday after work, I stopped by the hospital and visited with my friend Amy and her newborn baby Aubrey. Lucky for me when I got there, Amy and Aubrey were all by themselves – probably hoping for a moment or two of complete quiet – and I got to hold the little gal uninterrupted for nearly an hour before some other people showed up. It was so nice. Of course, Amy may have rather had the time to herself, but hopefully she also enjoyed our visit.

After I left the hospital, I broke out the high school alma mater sweat shirt (Hoover Bucs) and my dad and I went out to Madison for the Bob Jones vs. Hoover playoff game. We both expected Bob Jones to get trampled, but surprisingly, it was a very good game, full of unexpected turnovers and a Bob Jones lead for much of the game. Hoover ended up winning, which I didn’t care one way or the other, but I always enjoy a good excuse to break out some high school clothing.

Saturday morning, The Tide and I met my cousin Alexandra and her precious baby Indigo at Hayes Nature Preserve. Alexandra took some photos of me and The Tide for our 2011 Christmas card. No offense to the ones Jackie took the weekend before, but A is great with a camera and I was hoping she would be able to get some better shots in the soft morning light as opposed to the bright afternoon light we were working with the previous weekend. She got some pretty good shots. I think the very last one we took is my favorite and is probably the one I’m going to use on this year’s card.

When we were done with the photo session, I stopped by the grocery store and then Little Rosie’s where I got some grub for my belly. Once home, I unloaded the groceries, put away the cold things, ate the yummy food from Little Rosie’s and then proceeded to sleep for the next three hours or so. In fact, Erika even stopped by while I was sleeping and I didn’t have a clue she was even standing on the front porch. I thought The Tide was barking at a squirrel or something and didn’t budge from my comfy position on the sofa. I basically spent the remainder of the weekend in a sinus medicine haze, sleeping on an off for many hours at a time. I’ve had this sinus cough and congestion for two straight weeks. Finally, after drugging myself and resting this past weekend, I am feeling some better. Although the coughing is a wee bit out of control, especially at night when I am trying to sleep and end up in terrible coughing fits. I am beginning to think I’ve got the Black Lung, or TB. I don’t know which but I’m sure the folks at work are tired of hearing me cough and I’m sure The Tide is as well. I know my body is tired of coughing because at times it feels like my ribs are bruised and my brain is tired of bouncing back and forth in my thick skull each time I cough. I think I’m going to have to make another trip to the doctor, unfortunately.

That’s it for today. Come back for tomorrow’s post about mine and Jackie’s night out on the town. It will be well worth the read I hope. Have a lovely day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

In The Cubicle Next Door

I changed cubicles about a week and a half ago. When I first started my job, I was in a cubicle all by myself and it was quite lovely. Then, about a week and a half ago, my supervisor decided that I should sit in the same cubicle as the girl who manages the program on which I am working in order to learn more quickly, have better access to her, what have you. I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of sharing a cubicle. It’s not that I’m bad at sharing. It’s not that I don’t like the girl I’m now sitting with. It’s just that, well, I’m kind of a loner and always have been and like to just kind of keep to myself and not have to worry about talking to someone sitting next to me. Plus you never really know if the person will annoy you or eat loud or bring in smelly food or any number of unruly things.

Regardless of my silent objections (you can’t really say no to your boss), I’m now sharing and so far, so good. There haven’t been any quarrels or smelly foods or any other such thing. So far, G and I have gotten along just fine and things are running smoothly. Here’s to hoping the smooth sailing continues along.

Since I’ve moved to the new cubicle, it’s been like moving into a new neighborhood and getting to know the folks on your street. In the cubicle next door is a man, A, who has got to be one of the loudest talkers I have ever encountered. From what I gather, he’s worked here a long time and therefore has a lot of vacation time stored up because he takes off about once a week to look after his elderly mother who lives in Birmingham. I long for these days because it’s so much quieter when he’s not around. A spends most of the day on the phone, for his job, and talks so loud it’s as though he was sitting right next to me. What time he isn’t on the phone, he’s talking to M, a guy who sits across the wall from him.

A and M talk about college football – ALL DAY LONG! Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’re a reader of this blog or know me personally, then you know that I love college football. These two, however talk about college football so much it’s like they’re beating a dead horse. It’s as though there is nothing else in the world but college football. While I, too, love to chat about college football from time to time, often, in fact, I’m proud to say that I can also have a conversation that doesn’t involve college football. Some of the time their information is wrong too which drives me a little nuts because if you’re gonna talk it, then at least get your facts straight. It takes a lot of control not to holler over to these two and set them right. I’m beginning to wonder what they talk about when it’s not football season. Probably spring training or something dreadful like that.

Ya’ll I can’t even really put into words how much I dislike listening to A talk. I long for the lull in the day when this man doesn’t have a thing to say, which is not often. I’m sure he is a lovely man, and I hope he has a lovely family but to hear him talk you would think he wouldn’t be in existence if it were not for Alabama football. Yes, this loud next door neighbor at work talks about Alabama football ALL DAY LONG. As a lover of Alabama football myself, it seems strange that all I want is for this man to shut up, but tis true, my friends, tis true. I never thought I would wish that someone would stop talking about college football but alas, I have found the one person in the world that I wish would put the brakes on all the football talk. Wonders never cease!

Everyone else around us is pretty quiet, keeping to themselves and only talking in a normal tone of voice when they are on the phone or what not. This area I now work in is so different than where I was in my old job because over here you can pretty much hear everyone’s conversations unless they are whispering as quiet as a church mouse which doesn’t happen too often.

So, that’s the environment in which I’m working. Really, it’s not too bad at all. It’s just that sometimes, I wish A would just take a breather from his football talk and just keep his mouth shut every now and then. I doubt this will ever happen, but a girl can always dream.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Something Yummy

It’s been a while, or at least I think it’s been a while, since I posted some of my favorite things as of late. So, without further ado, I give you, somethingI like right now – because I could only think of one.
Run, don’t walk, to the nearest Williams-Sonoma and pick up some of their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix. I’m a big fan of Williams-Sonoma hot chocolate. It is the best I have ever tasted. It’s made from real chocolate shavings, not powdered chocolate, which helps. The directions on the back of the can are for one cup of milk and five Tablespoons of Hot Chocolate mix, but I use ¾ cup of milk and ¼ cup of heavy cream because I’m crazy like that.

Each year the Williams-Sonoma hot chocolate mixes come out the day after Halloween. For years they have had the original mix and the peppermint mix, but this is the first year they’ve had salted caramel. I don’t buy these mixes often because they retail for $19.98, which can be a little steep for an indulgence. After Christmas they go on sale and that’s typically when I try to buy; but this year I went on November 1 and took the full price plunge. I bought one original and one salted caramel and I’m here to tell you the salted caramel is absolutely delightful. I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying another canister of two before the hot chocolate selling season is over. If you have an extra $20 lying around, be sure and pick some up, you’ll be glad you did!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Senior Dog

I got a magazine in the mail this past week. It was from my vet’s office. While it’s not that unusual – they do come in the mail about every six months – this one caught me a little off guard. There was a coupon on the front that said I could save 45% on my dog’s senior health package. Huh? Since when is The Tide a senior dog?

The Tide is now nine years old. I don’t know how old a dog has to be to be called a senior dog, but apparently nine years old falls within the senior dog ranks. Who knew? Certainly not me. I’ve never even thought of The Tide as a senior dog.

The Tide once had jowls that were black as night, now they are practically white as snow, or grey, depending on how you look at it. She’s got some signs of being senior, but to me she’s just the same loveable pup I brought home with me nine years ago. The old gal still has quite a spring in her step and can be just as mischievous as she was when she weighed only five pounds. She’s young at heart, I would say, which is what matters the most.

I don’t know how many more years this old senior dog of mine has left to be a senior dog, but I certainly hope it’s quite a few more.

Does this look like a senior dog to you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Over The Weekend

Before we begin, I would like to thank everyone for your kind comments regarding yesterday's post. It really meant a lot!

Back to your regularly scheduled blog posts… this past weekend was rather uneventful yet eventful at the same time, if that’s possible. Now that high school football playoffs have started, I no longer have assignments. Not necessarily because my writing is bad, but because not a lot of teams in the Huntsville area make it which means less assignments to go around.

So, instead of working for the newspaper, I got to enjoy a game as a spectator alongside my dad. We went to see Madison Academy play and it was quite a good game. It went into overtime thanks to a 3-yard MA field goal. MA ended up winning due to a blocked extra point – quite the finish!

On Saturday I went to the grocery store and then over to my parents’ house for a pancake breakfast cooked by my dad – he’s a maker of fine pancakes, people! We watched College Gameday live from Tuscaloosa and I’m convinced that this change in routine is what caused Alabama to lose – ok, maybe not.

After an hour and a half or so of watching, I decided to leave because my dad was snoozing and I was on the verge of sleep myself. So, I went home and put away the groceries and napped for almost two hours. I then did a little cleaning and straightening and quickly realized I shouldn’t have napped so long because there was much to do but the nap was also much needed because I was extremely tired and emotionally exhausted.

Jackie came over about 3:00 and I was not close to ready when she arrived. I finally put my face on, as the old southern ladies like to say, and she snapped a few photos of me and The Tide as potential Christmas card pictures – turns out I don’t really like any of them. This has nothing to do with Jackie’s photography and probably has more to do with an uncooperative dog and what I think is a chunky face (mine) – I blame the steroids I’ve been on for the past two weeks. Anyway, I’m hoping to have some more photos taken soon. I also since have discovered that the sweater I wore has small holes in it. I am convinced I have moths because all of my good clothes end up with small holes so I will soon be buying some moth balls and smelling like an old person. Don’t hate, people!

We finally wrapped up the photo session and went to Randolph’s Under the Christmas Tree. I bought some dips and a gumbo mix and also a large door decoration that looks like a Christmas ornament. I also got a dish towel that says “Christmas Is Always Merry In Five Points” – let’s hope it rings true. I thought it was cute and unique to my area of town so I went ahead and got it. Jackie bought some cider mix and a small tin Christmas tree and seems like something else, but I can’t remember. A lot of vendors had some adorable door decorations that we think were made of burlap – they were shaped like footballs and had an A and Roll Tide on it. Hazel Green Pharmacy had a booth there and was selling these for $40 – this is a hint for those of you wanting an idea for something to get me for Christmas. I’m trying to help you folks out.

When we got through getting our Christmas spirit on, or something like that, we came back to casa de McKinley and grilled some burgers. Maria came over as well and we all stuffed ourselves with burgers and corn dip while watching the Alabama-LSU game. Things obviously didn’t turn out to our liking, but we still had a good time being together, which is really the most important thing of all. Maria left sometime after the half and Jackie left when the game was over. I went to bed and thoroughly enjoyed my extra hour of sleep. I know most people don’t like the time change, but this “regular” time is when I feel most rested and I love it. I spend the whole spring and summer trying get back my hour from springing forward.

Sunday was spent going to church and napping and watching TV, which is as low-key as it gets around my house. As I said, kind of eventful, kind of not, but now you know all the gory details of my weekend. I wish I could say you were all the better for it, but I’m not so sure that’s the case. At any rate, I do wish you a delightful day and thanks for stopping by.

One of the photos from the Saturday photo shoot

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life's Ups and Downs

I apologize for the absence over the past few days. Things have been rather crazy on a personal level and I have been busy dealing with all of that. While I try to keep things lighthearted on this blog and leave all the heavy stuff out of cyber space, today I’m making an exception to the rule and am going to let you all know what’s been going on.

Last Thursday my paternal grandfather, Ben, had a bone marrow procedure; after which he stopped breathing and was put on a ventilator and placed in a drug-induced coma to keep his body from having to work too hard. My dad, aunt and I rode up to Nashville together and the situation looked grave at best. My dad and I came back home later that evening not knowing whether or not my grandfather would survive the night. It was frightening to say the least.

On Friday morning, my granddad was doing much better – off of the ventilator and out of the coma and was sitting up in a chair and talking. He was still a little foggy when it came to details and whatnot but for the most part it was nothing short of what to us seemed to be a miraculous recovery. God answers prayer, people! My dad went up on Friday by himself and came back again that evening and said he wouldn’t have believed it if he had not seen it with his own eyes.

As it turns out, my grandfather has a bacterial infection, and has had for some time that caused his heart to stop and for him to stop breathing. It’s the same bacterial infection that my cousin, Bennett, had a while ago and caused him a great deal of pain and misery. Something in the Parker gene pool perhaps? The doctors are now treating the bacterial infection (no, I can’t remember the name; in fact, I’m not sure I was told) and with any luck, my granddad will be back to bossing my grandmother around as if nothing ever happened.

The other event that affected our family also happened on Friday and has to do with my brother. Many of you who read this blog (oh, who am I kidding only people I know read this blog), know me personally and know the struggles my brother has had with addiction over the years. This past August, he moved in with my parents as a last ditch effort to help him overcome his addiction and get on the right path.

As far as anyone knew, he was doing really well. You have probably seen on this blog where he and I spent a lot of time together over the past few months and it was really great to have a sober, functioning and reliable sibling for a change. For the first time in what feels like an eternity I allowed myself to hope – to hope that Justin would overcome his addiction and find the willpower within him to continue to turn his back on the daily temptations in his life. Hope – it’s a dangerous emotion.

On Friday, Justin went to see his probation office and failed a drug test because earlier in the week he had stolen two pain pills and taken them. Once again, hope was shattered. He is now in jail, awaiting sentencing for violation of his parole. He will be headed back to prison for as many as six years, more likely three with good behavior. It’s a crushing blow and one that is very hard to put into words. I told Jackie this weekend that I think I should write a book about being the sibling of an addict – it wouldn’t be an easy breezy read, that’s for sure.

As I said, I usually don’t write about this sort of thing on the blog, because who wants to stop by here and get all depressed, plus everyone else has problems of their own and really don’t want to hear about the problems my family is dealing with; but this time, I wanted to share for a couple of reasons. One, I would like you to remember my brother in your prayers. Pray for his safety while in prison and pray that he might one day be able to truly overcome his addiction and live a sober and full life. Secondly, I ask that you pray for my parents as well because those two have suffered more heartbreak than should be possible in this world. Each time my brother screws up, I see both of them age because it literally takes the life out of them and either he doesn’t realize or doesn’t care; either way it’s sad. We will now have to spend another set of Thanksgivings, Christmases, New Years, and birthdays without Justin around. It’s a heavy load for our hearts to bear. I know the Lord will not give us a burden that is too large to bear but at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily make things easier. We will all get through this time, but it won’t be without some difficulty and tears and I just ask that when you say a prayer, remember us Parkers from time to time. And while you’re at it, go ahead and lift one up for my granddad as well. He is already doing so much better but a little prayer goes a long way.

Again, I’m sorry for all the seriousness on here today. I figured some of you might be wondering why it was that Justin was around a lot and then not at all. I’ve pledged to be nothing but honest in life and that goes for the things I say on here too. Thanks for stopping by and I promise to be back tomorrow with something a lot lighter and more cheerful.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

A couple of weeks ago I finished the third book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest and it did not disappoint. I reviewed book one and book two here and The Chronicles of Nat and am now going to give you a brief rundown of how much I loved book number three.

The first two books, as mentioned were hard for me to really get into at first. In fact, it took multiple chapters with each one before I was really hooked; but that was not the case with book number three. Book two ends with a cliffhanger and book three picks up immediately where book two leaves off so you’ve still got adrenaline pumping through your reading veins when you start book three which makes it much easier to get into and not want to put down.

As with the first two books, there is a tremendous amount of detail involved in the narrative, which at times can be a bit much but at other times can really help set the scene in your mind and if you are anything like me then when you read it’s like a movie playing in your head and so the more detail the better the scene.

The books is full of twists and turns and breath taking moments that will make your heart race fast just as was the case with the first two. Because of the amount of detail involved in the book, it may take longer for you to read this book than others books to which you are accustomed to reading, or at least that was the case for me. While I finished this third one in record time compared to the first two, it was still a typically longer reader time than I normally take.

I really cannot say enough wonderful things about this trilogy. I’ve got some of the ladies from church reading these and they are all also finding these books interesting and captivating. As mentioned before though, these books are not for the faint of heart as there is a lot of cursing, sex, drugs, and violence in the books so if that’s not really your genre, then I wouldn’t recommend it. If you can overlook all of that and really delve into the story, then I honestly think you will love this series as much as I did.

The movie for book one is coming out in December and I am really anxious to see how it plays out. There is no way it will be as wonderful as these books are, but I’ll probably show up anyway and see how it plays out on the big screen. Happy Reading!

A couple of weeks ago I finished the third book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest and it did not disappoint. I reviewed book one and book two here and The Chronicles of Nat and am now going to give you a brief rundown of how much I loved book number three.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall Festival and More Fun!

This should be the last post regarding Halloween related activities. When you cram everything into a day or so, you end up with a lot of posts, or at least a handful.

On Sunday afternoon, I met up with Jackie and the kids for the annual Fall Festival at Mayfair. The kids were dressed in their costumes and there were all sorts of games and fun activities for the kids to participate in. There was a large crowd on hand as well, which was really great not only for the Mayfair family, but also for the people in the community.

Ashlyn was dressed as a bumble bee complete with a stinger on her backside, and Troy went as Doby from Harry Potter and it was quite a wonderful costume constructed by none other than his own dear mother, my bestie, Jackie. Way to go girl!

After we had been there a little while, Maria and her kids showed up. Regan was dressed as a lady bug and Jacob was dressed as an old ninja. You may recall Jacob’s outfit from last year which was an old man. Apparently he’s all about being something old for Halloween. Jordan’s costume this year was Freddy Kruger, but thankfully, Maria was wise beyond her young years and told him he couldn’t wear it around the little kids for fear or frightening them (or me for that matter).

Some of the kids’ other friends came too and fun was had by all. I left around 4:15 in order to get back to Chase Park for our fifth Sunday singing and after church was our annual trunk or treat; but this year I decided not to participate. Last year there was a ton of folks from the community that came, which is a really great thing, but I wasn’t in much of a mood for a large crowd of strange children mooching candy off of me so I decided not to stick around although I now have a ton of candy leftover from low trick-or-treater turnout and I wish I had unloaded some of it on Sunday night. I did manage to snap a few photos before I left.

It was a fun day as it always is when spent with friends. I love this time of year and all the activities are so much fun and remind me of being a kid. I’m grateful to Jackie for letting me experience these times with her kids because Lord only knows if I’ll ever have any of my own. I certainly hope your Halloween and fall festivities have been just as magical and as fun as mine have been. Here’s to many more!

Doby and The Bumble Bee

Fishing for a prize

Spinning the Wheel of Fortune!

Painting a Pumpkin

The Old Ninja and The Lady Bug

Jordan - doing the cake walk

Grayson at Trunk or Treat - Nice Costume!

The Lamica Kids - Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie from Toy Story

The Lamica Parents - Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head