Results for category "MISC"

FROM THERE TO HERE AND IN BETWEEN

It’s that time of year … time to reflect on the past twelve months and the things we were able to accomplish, as well as, the things we wished we had.   Like most, I’m sitting at my computer remembering good times, sad times, moments of happiness and sorrow.  It has been a year of many highs and some very deep lows for me, a rollercoaster of emotions that have taken me to places I want to go again and places I wish I could erase from my memory as if they never existed.  I haven’t blogged much (hardly at all), so I thought I would sum up my year in one post.  Here it is:

  1. In January, I received my first of many calls from The University of Kentucky Hospital. Why do you ask?  Well, they wanted money, of course. Money for the ER visit and surgery my youngest son had back in September when he scalped his head at school.  We will just say, the lady on the phone and I didn’t exactly hit it off since her demeanor wasn’t all that friendly.  As I think back on that phone call now, I want to laugh because as soon as her attitude flew, so did mine.  Needless to say, nothing got resolved that day, however, in the coming months, Celeste and I would become quite acquainted with one another.  In the end, she ended up being a HUGE advocate helping to get the bills paid from our school systems insurance.   It took exactly one year and one week to have them all paid and that was after many tiresome calls, faxing of bills here, there, verification of what my insurance paid sent and then not received, threats of collection agencies, not so friendly calls to our superintendent, etc.  I know the important thing is that my son was okay, but when you have an excess of 100 grand of debt looming over your head, it becomes quite stressful.
  2.  In February, my sister, who is terminally ill, was dealt a blow when her husband asked for a divorce.  As if the devastation to her wasn’t enough, it was so much more than that, as my ex-brother in law was her primary caregiver (legally speaking.  My mother has always provided most of her care.)  I could say a lot here.  In fact, I’ve written and deleted several times, but I’ve decided to take the high road and spare you all the bitter details.  Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on.
  3. Instead of flowers, May brought tears with the passing of a beloved woman, who was so many things to me that I can’t think of a significant enough title to honor her.  Carolyn Conley was both of my boy’s preschool teacher, she is my co-worker’s eldest sister, my friend, all too often a lunch date, a supporter of my writing, fun travel companion, and our last stop on Halloween because she gave out the best bags of candy.  My list could go on and on.  She was truly one of the kindest people I have ever known and nothing I could say would ever properly describe her gentle and compassionate soul.  I loved her.  My kids loved her.  My husband loved her.  Our community loved her. She was a rare gem that is truly missed.
  4. Life hasn’t been all stressful or burdensome, though.  In June I took a girls trip to North Carolina with two friends (I blogged about this).  We had a blast.  I mean, we had an awesome and relaxing time visiting some of the places where Nicholas Sparks books are set.  If you’re a fan, you should visit and even if your not, you should still go because there are some really cool sites to see.
  5. July brought my husband’s and my 16th wedding anniversary.  I can’t begin to explain the amount of love I have for this man.  He is my rock, my soul, my best friend and better half.  And yes, I truly mean better, because I know without a doubt he could do so much better than I and yet he chooses every day to be my partner in this life.  There is no better feeling in the world than to know you are loved and he lets me know every single day.
  6. If I could pick a time to back up and replay again, I would pick July.  I’d replay it over and over and over.  Stop, rewind, play.  Stop, rewind play.  We vacationed in Florida with two other families that month.  There were ten of us in a house.  We stayed up late, played cards, had cocktails, listened to music, ate together, and laughed together.  Each night after the kids went to bed, the adults swam in the pool until the early hours of the morning.  My family snuck off to the Key’s for two days to visit my neighbor who has a house and boat there.  We went fishing, caught a shark, took a drive to Key West and toured Hemingway’s house. I also had the best (and expensive) lobster grilled cheese sandwich.  To say it was a great vacation is an understatement.  It was one of the most relaxing times I’ve ever had.  Unfortunately, if I had known what I know now, I would have done things differently.  I would have skipped the Keys.  I would have passed on that grilled cheese and Hemingway’s house.  I would have told my neighbor that we would catch him another time and I would have spent every minute we had making memories with those friends at that house.  I would have stayed in the pool later.  I would have talked until I couldn’t talk anymore.  I would have danced, laughed, cooked, whatever anyone wanted.  We all thought we were beginning a yearly tradition of vacationing with our families never knowing the blow we’d receive in just a few short weeks.
  7.   Man, it’s been five months and I haven’t written in depth about this.  It’s not easy.  If I had known what August 7th would bring, I would go back to that house in Florida and take in every word Anthony Gabbard had to say.  I would roll my eyes and head just so he would give me shit about it.  I would sit at the table by the pool and laugh about AT&T (inside joke) until the sun came up. I would tell him to eat all the pork you want buddy because who cares if your gout flares up.  I’d take more pictures and I’d tell him jokes to make him laugh because he had a great laugh.  On August 7th, after a night of shopping, dinner and a movie, my husband and I went back to our friends, the Gabbards, to play cards.  We stayed late or early, depending on how you look at it and as always, we had a great time.  Anthony and I were card partners and much to our dismay, we finally lost a game.  It was somewhere around four am when we left their house.  At nine we got a call that Anthony was being taken to the hospital unresponsive.  He passed from a sudden, massive heart attack before we made it there.  I have gone through a lot of emotions since then, but there is one thing that still plagues me and I think it always will.  Guilt. There is always that looming question of whether I missed something that I shouldn’t have.  It’s something I’ll never know.  It’s been five months and like I said typing all that out it isn’t easy.  He brought so much life to our group of friends.  He is deeply missed.
  8. August also brought a new school year.  My boys went on to middle and high school and yeah, that makes me feel old.  I suppose I am now.
  9. I turned forty and I hear it’s all down hill from here.  I hope not because I got a lot of life I still want to live.
  10. And last but not least, around Thanksgiving, my husband and I acquired a small parcel of land that joins our property.  Hopefully, in the new year, we will be begin building our forever home.  It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time and now our dream is finally becoming a reality.

Even with the bad that has happened, I look back on the year and can truly smile.  I have neglected my writing and reading, but I’ve also spent a lot of quality time with my kids.  I’ve strengthened friendships, worked on losing weight (down 15 pounds), gone to the theater and hiked a lot, I started taking pictures and cooking more.  I went to concerts, I’ve shopped and played board games.  I began volunteering my time and advocating for our local library.  I’ve met new people, got back in touch with others.  It has been a year of making time for the things that make me smile and really, isn’t that what life is about?  I believe it is.  I’m one blessed individual.

To 2017, may we all have a great one!

 

Bucket List Fun

So it’s been a while.  Yeah, I know.  I have all sorts of excuses I could give you, but I won’t bore you with the day to day life of being an adult and having this or that to do because we all have that problem.

Anyhow, I saw this bucket list floating around on my Facebook feed and thought it might be fun to share.   Here goes:

Been Married – yes
Ever fallen in Love – yes
Been divorced – nope
Gone on a blind date – no
Skipped school – Does senior skip day count?
Watched someone give birth- no and I’m not interested in it either.
Watched someone die – no, and again, not interested.
Ridden in an ambulance – yes
Been to Las Vegas – yes
Been to Washington, DC – yes
Been to Nashville -yes
Visited Florida – yes
Visited Mexico – yes
Seen the Grand Canyon – yes, but I was 3 and don’t really remember it 🙁
Flown in a helicopter – yes
Served on a jury – no
Been in a movie – no, but if you’re looking for someone, I’m up for a new gig 🙂
Danced in the rain – yes in downtown Little Rock!  Alcohol may have been involved.
Been to Los Angeles – I had a connecting flight there once.  Saw Samuel L. Jackson!
Been to New York City – no
Played/Sang in a band – no
Sang karaoke – no and trust me, this should never happen.
Laughed so much you cried – yes
Laughed so hard you peed – not that I can remember.
Caught a snowflake on your tongue – yes
Had children – yes
Had/have a pet(s) – Waaaaaaay to many to count.
Been sledding on big hill – yes
Been downhill skiing – no
Been water skiing -no
Ridden on a motorcycle – yes and don’t plan to do it again.
Traveled to all 50 states – not yet.  I’ve been to 31, though.
Jumped out of a plane – nope.  I’m one of those people who’s going down with that baby if it crashes.
Been to a drive-in movie – yes
Ridden a camel – no
Ridden a horse – yes
Ridden an elephant – yes
Been on TV – yes
Been in the newspaper – yes
Stayed in the hospital – yes
Donated blood – yes
Gotten a piercing – ears only folks 🙂
Gotten a tattoo – yes, 2.  One when I was eighteen and one when I was 34.
Been scuba diving – no
Been snorkeling – yes.
Ridden in the back of a police car – yes … don’t ask.
Gotten a speeding ticket – I wish I could answer no here, but unfortunately I have a heavy foot.
Broken a bone – yes
Gotten stitches – no
Traveled Alone – yes
Been Overseas- Not yet.  Someday!
Been to Hawaii- no
Been to Canada- no
Been to Alaska- no

So nothing too scandalous, just a little fun.  I’ll leave you with a picture of our recent visit to Key West! Hope you’re all doing well!

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When to call it quits.

Hello!  I know it’s been a while, but I thought I’d drop  a few lines to say “hi!”  I wish I had exciting news to share  … something about a new release, but alas, the title of this post is When to call it quits.  To squelch any confusion, no, I’m not giving up writing.  That will never happen.  It’s a permanent part of who I am. I write daily and will continue to do so even if I never publish anything else.  But, a person has to know when to call it quits and by quits, I mean know when a project isn’t working out.  I have been working on something for a year and a half now.  Yes, you read that correctly, a year and a half.  Maybe that’s not all that long to some.  I worked on my first book for almost ten years.  It still sits on my computer. Occasionally, I revisit it, but I think of it as more of a learning tool than something I’ll ever do anything with.  But, it has been a long and struggling year and a half.  No aspect of the book I’ve been writing has come easy and for the most part, I feel I was forcing out words that I would only go back and change later.  It was finished and then it wasn’t.  I changed a huge part of the plot and then decided it would be a series.  Characters changed, their ideas, values,  personalities.  It came to a point that I wanted to do anything else but sit down and write.  That should have been a red flag, but I’m not the kind that gives up easily.  I like to think I’m the type that finishes what I start.  I rarely and I mean rarely abandon a book I’m reading.  No matter how awful it is or how long it takes me, I try to finish it.  If I have a list to complete, I don’t stop until it’s done.  If I start a project, I’m all in until it’s finished.   It’s just the way I am.  Yeah, I know that’s a good quality to have, but I tend to go overboard at times because even small and inconsequential things must get done when really they have no bearing on the enjoyment of my life.  However, a time comes when you realize it’s time to stop.  I’ve decided that time is now.  This was not an easy decision to make, especially since I’ve spent a year and a half and have nothing to show for it, but to continue struggling and stressing isn’t going to turn out a book that I’m happy with.  So, I have saved and backed up everything to do with “When Love Goes South.”  It’s there, ready for me when the story wants to be told.  Unfortunately I just don’t feel that time is now.

When I came to this decision a few weeks ago, my husband said, maybe a change of scenery will be good.  I think he was right.  I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders the moment I started putting everything away.  Funny how that works.  And as for a change of scenery, I decided to literally take him up on that, too.  Last week I visited North Carolina with two friends.  One of them being a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, our initial plans were to tour the places mentioned in his books (you can get an itinerary from his website).  We hit the hot spots of the tour that we wanted to see and then did our own thing, but I must say, I can certainly see why Nicholas Sparks loves the area he lives in and writes about.  The towns are quaint, the people are friendly and there seems to be inspiration lurking around every corner.  Again, it was just what I needed.  I came back fully refreshed and ready to write.

Below you’ll find a some pictures from our trip.  I took so many, it was hard to choose which one’s to share.  There were countless spots in New Bern that had mentions in his books, but unless you’ve read them or seen the movies, it’s hard to really appreciate what we saw.  So, I’ve chosen a few that I thought some might know or just ones I liked or found funny.  Enjoy!

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New Bern, North Carolina. Home of Nicholas Sparks and setting for many of his books. We did the Walk to Remember walk through town that took us to places mentioned in The Notebook, A Bend in the Road, and The Wedding.

 

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Inside the pharmacy where Caleb Bradham first marketed his Brad’s Drink which later became known as Pepsi-Cola. It’s mentioned in the books The Wedding and A Bend in the Road. Bob, the owner was a super cool guy. He even offered us part time jobs if we moved down there.

sign

Signs outside a restaurant in New Bern. I’m not sure who comes up with the sayings, but I found them hilarious!

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capefear

Causeway mentioned in The Notebook

books booze

You can’t go wrong with Books and Booze 🙂

ferry

Ferry in the closing scene of the movie Safe Haven. This travels between Southport (where Safe Haven was filmed) and Carolina Beach.

matlock

Showing my age here … The fountain and courthouse steps seen in the TV show Matlock.  Wilmington, NC

wilmington

Wilmington’s River Walk as seen from The Cape Fear River

fishy fishy

Fishy Fishy was the general store in Safe Haven. The restaurant where the character, Katie, worked at in the movie sat right next door. Unfortunately my picture of it didn’t come out that well.

rocks

Rocks along Kure Beach

blackmountain

Entrance to Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, NC) as mentioned in The Longest Ride.

 

 

February Reading Challenge

IMG_1396[1]The first of March is upon us and if it goes according to the old saying, in like a lion out like a lamb, by the end of the month we should be in a drought.  It’s raining here in the bluegrass, but the temperatures are okay, so, at least, we don’t have to worry about ice or anything.  I’ll be honest here, I haven’t had much time to read lately.  Maybe I should rephrase that, I have had plenty of time, I just haven’t taken advantage of it.  I’ve spent some much needed time with friends and I’m still working on my second book.  I actually had it finished, sent off to an agent and got a request back.  So yeah  GREAT NEWS …. except not really.  I let my nerves get to me in a bad way and started reworking it.  I’m almost there.  Time will tell what becomes of it, I guess.  But I will say that I have put a lot into this book, A LOT and so I want it to be the best it can possibly be.   Anyhow, I have made a point to stick to my reading challenge that I set out to do in January.  In February, we were to read a book recommended by a friend.  Kathy Palm was the only person to recommend one to me and after looking at her suggestion, I decided that it would better fit another month, so I’m saving that one for later and decided to read a paperback that a friend loaned me (almost a year ago) and it turned out to be a pretty darn good read.  Toni Blake is definitely an author I’d read again.  18498553 I have already sorted through my Kindle and found my book for March, which is one that’s on the bottom of your TBR pile.  I’m ashamed to say it’s one of those freebies I downloaded when I first got my Kindle years ago and never did anything with it.  I’m terrible about that and although, I could easily say I’ll do better about reading everything I download, I know it won’t happen.  But hey, it’s there if it ever strikes my fancy, right?

Tell me, are there books you’ve had for years that you’ve never read?

 

JANUARY READING CHALLENGE

IMG_1396[1]Back in December I posted the covers of all the books I read for 2015.  I honestly can’t remember how many there were, but I do remember that I didn’t hit my Goodreads reading challenge goal of 100.  When I say reading challenge, it isn’t actually much of a challenge other than to keep track of the books read during the year and while I’ve seen all sorts of different “challenges” that require you to read a book from this genre or that genre, most of them seem daunting with the requirements to complete them.  Just a little FYI …  I have an issue when I don’t complete things, it sort of BUGS me!  So, although, I like a good challenge and they look fun, I’ve never committed myself to one.  However, I saw this one, above, floating around and felt it looked simple enough that I could do it.

On the recommendation of a friend, for January, I picked A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks.  I’ve AWTRnever read the book or seen the movie, and to be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Sparks’ books.  Meaning, I either really LOVE them or I really HATE them, most usually the later is simply because I don’t like how it ends  While I won’t go into a full review of the book, I did enjoy it, although I was somewhat confused on the ending, but I don’t want to give any spoilers away in case there is someone else that hasn’t read it.  It’s one of Sparks’ earlier books and I can definitely see his writing has evolved over the years. It’s a quick read, approximately ninety five pages on my Kindle, so it didn’t take too long.

I haven’t picked my February read yet. I’ve had a couple recommended to me, but none of them have really grabbed my attention and said “READ ME.”  So, I’m reaching out to you guys, recommend something you think I’d like.

And Happy February!

MY YEAR OF READING

The year has come and gone and with it so has my yearly Goodreads Reading Challenge.  If you’re not on Goodreads or just haven’t heard of it before, it’s a neat way of keeping track of the books you’ve read throughout the year.  I suppose you can make challenges against your friends and such, however, I use it solely as a personal tool.  For the past three year’s I’ve completed the challenge and each year upped my goal of books to read.  Last year I came in around seventy something, so I thought I’d try to surpass that this year and go for a hundred. Unfortunately, it’s been a rough year health wise for my family and I haven’t had the time to devote to reading like I wish I could have.  I ended up reading sixty-one books, of which the covers and a few fun facts are listed below.

TOTAL PAGES READ:  11,023

LONGEST BOOK:  The Fog by Shelby Nolan 502 pages

SHORTEST BOOK:  The Christmas Gift by Stella Wilkinson 28 pages

AVERAGE LENGTH OF BOOK: 208 pages

MOST POPULAR BOOK:  Captivated By You by Sylvia Day

LEAST POPULAR BOOK:  Liphar Short Stories Volumn II (any consolation, I enjoyed each one of these)

HIGHEST RATED ON GOODREADS:  Exposed Secrets by April Nichols Baker

MOST READ AUTHOR: Brenda Novak (I LOVE HER!)

Creating Space

I was tagged eons ago by Rachel Carrera to do a post about my writing space.  Yes, my writing space.  You know the place you go to sit down and pour yourself out onto the screen.  The spot you run to when you have an idea that you just can’t wait to get out.  A writers sanctuary.  We all have one, right?  Right? Right …. well, actually wrong.  Nope.  No writing space here.  No desk, no table.  No corner in the house where I can even slump against the wall with my laptop perched on my legs.  I totally flubbed the post Rachel tagged me in and instead wrote about the places I’d love to have.  My dream writing nooks, because let’s face it, although a desk is an easy fix, I just didn’t have the space to put one.  My house is small.  Really small!  And after almost twenty years here with two growing boys, we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff, none of which is desk … oh wait.  Actually that’s a lie.  We have a cheap desk in my bedroom that holds a printer.  Yep, it’s big enough to hold a printer, no room for my laptop, much less anything else and when I said cheap, I’m pretty sure it came from the Dollar Store or someplace like that.  It was a quick fix until we could get something more permanent, which obviously never happened.  So, my writing space(s) over the last few years have consisted of the kitchen table, the couch and my favorite spot, my bed.  And while these places sound convenient, they aren’t all that cozy for the old back.  Yep, I’m getting old and sitting in bed crouched over my laptop isn’t something I’m going to be able to withstand for much longer.  This summer we made the decision that something had to give.   My wonderful hubby came up with the idea of expanding our garage.  I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t all that sure about the idea.  I mean, seriously who is really benefiting from this?  Yeah, he plans to put an office in for me, but you know what else is happening?  More room for HIS stuff.  His stuff that’s cluttering up the garage.  And really, how convenient is is going to be for me to slip out of the house at odd hours of the night to set up my laptop in the middle of winter?  Yeah, I wasn’t all that convinced, but he had this grand plan about heating it with propane and I’ll have a window overlooking the holler (that’s hollow if you aren’t from around here) and we’ll make the inside look like a rustic log cabin.  From that point on, he pretty much had me on board, because my perfect writing nook definitely would be a rustic cabin.  However, realistically, I know it’s not a permanent solution to my problem.  Although I’d love to shut myself out of the house and work without any distractions, abandoning my family for hours on end isn’t an option.  So, yes, the garage addition is still a go and I do plan to use it when time allows.  But I’ve also decided that it’ll serve many purposes.  I can move my paints out there where they’re readily available and some of my other craft items that I keep tucked away out of sight.  So it won’t be just a place to write, it’ll be my own little sanctuary … when it’s finished.  Which isn’t going to be relatively soon since my husband is doing all the work himself (he’s handy like that.)

In the meantime I’ve been plucking along in my usual spots, making my rounds to the couch, bed, and sometimes table.  And then one day I was at my sisters house and I see her husbands desk sitting in the middle of their den.  So, I crept down to his office to see what’s going on and there along one side of his wall is this big, new, shiny, L-shaped desk.  My mouth practically falls open and my heart speeds up.  I get all giddy inside as I make my way back to the living room.  I try to act calm when I ask my sister, “What are you doing with that old desk?”   She shakes her head, so I continue.  “I might want it if your just going to give it away.”  Yeah, I totally threw that out there like I hadn’t just stumbled upon a gold mine.  She nods this time and I say, “I’m not sure I have a place to put it, though.”  Already, I’m rearranging furniture in my head and have come to the conclusion that we really don’t need a TV in the living room.  I mean, I don’t watch it anyway.  I continued my mental floorplan when I got home and took in the house.  I squeezed that desk in every available space and no matter where I put it, it just wasn’t going to work.  I even considered putting it in the kitchen in the spot between the freezer and laundry closet, but that idea got squashed when my brother in-law dropped it off on Thanksgiving Day and I realized it wouldn’t fit.  For a couple days it sat behind my couch in this weird pocket of space that my boys created over the summer.  I blogged about that, too, but in case you aren’t up to speed on things, my kids were given the liberty of staying home by themselves this summer and each day it was almost like a game trying to figure out what we would come home to.  One day, they decided to clean and rearrange the living room.  Yes, they moved my furniture and aside from the couch sitting oddly in the middle of the room with a bench behind it, they actually did a pretty good job.  Not wanting to hurt their feelings, we left it that way for a few days.  Then a few more and a few more and well, when the desk arrived on Thanksgiving, the couch was still pushed in the middle of the floor with that odd area behind it.   With the kitchen idea out, I had to go back to the drawing board and that’s when it hit me.  The place behind the couch was actually sort of perfect.  There was plenty of space, except our fish tank was kind of in the way or actually not so much in the way, as where it sat would make the area look even more weirder than it already did.  But, after a couple hours work and the fish tank gone, the bench moved to the porch (because the porch now has a roof on it), my desk fit nicely in the corner of the living room.  I even had space to push the couch back a little and now that doesn’t look so weird either.  No major moves, we still have a TV and I have a desk … with no chair!  Well… I had the wooden kitchen table chairs, but seriously, they are not the comfiest things to sit in long term and as bad as I hated it after all the thought I’d put into it, I found myself sitting in bed or on the couch instead of at my desk.  Again, I know a chair is a super easy thing to acquire, but spending money on myself right before Christmas didn’t feel right.  So, I did what any mature adult would do.  I asked my momma for one for Christmas 🙂 and momma always delivers what you want!  Pictures aren’t the best because I took them with my Kindle (phone is dead as usual and I refuse to charge it), but there it is folks, my new space.  My hand me down desk, new chair, and all my favorite things surrounding me.  Best. Christmas. Ever.  Okay, so maybe not the best, but pretty damn close.  I’m happy and yes, since I’ve set it up, I haven’t moved my laptop to any of my other places.  I think I finally found my space.

 

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KENTUCKIANA AUTHORS BOOK BLITZ

 

 

Weekend before last I attended Kentuckiana Authors Book Blitz, a multi-genre book fair featuring almost 100 authors.  As I mentioned before, I was a little nervous, as this was my first big event.  Things went just fine, in fact, I met some Facebook friends in person, made a lot of new contacts and enjoyed the day with a great friend.  I didn’t take many pictures because the lighting and my phone didn’t want to cooperation, so a big thank you to Molly Daniels, who graciously allowed me to snag a couple of her’s.  LPTOUTSIDE THE LOUISVILLE PALACE THEATER, SUCH A BEAUTIFUL PLACE

ERotica

EROTICA ROOM, I HEARD THEY HAD ALL KINDS OF FUN HERE.LP

UPSTAIRS

 

LP2VIEW OF FACES LOBBY FROM ABOVE

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TOTAL GEEK, HAD MY BAG SIGNED BY ALL ATTENDING AUTHORS

IMG_1104[1]MY LITTLE TABLE
IMG_1098[1]MANDY A/K/A ASSISTANT FOR THE DAY

IMG_1106[1]VIEW OF THE OHIO RIVER FROM THE HOTEL

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ANOTHER TOTAL GEEK MOMENT. WOKE UP TO THIS BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE

IMG_1118[1]MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LEARNED, ALWAYS HAVE YOUR CAMERA READY,
BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU MIGHT RUN INTO 🙂

Re-release & Giveaway

Today is re-release day!  I just wanted to do a quick post, showing you the (slightly) new cover and price, $1.99.  Dive Me Sane is also available to download for free with Kindle Unlimited.

DMSNEWCOVER

 

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And, as I mentioned, I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate.  If you haven’t entered through the tab on my Facebook page, all you have to do is click on this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway. And, since you’re here, would you be interested in subscribing to my newsletter?  I promise not to share your information and you can unsubscribe at any time.  I also won’t flood your inbox with silly emails.  But, I will be sure to share any upcoming releases, events, special pricing and giveaways with you first!

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WE ARE NOT A DISNEY FAMILY

We are not a Disney family and yet I just spent a week in the middle of all things Mickey Mouse.  Okay, not exactly in the middle.  On the outskirts.  Very outskirts, away from all the hoards of people, in our own little house, in a quiet neighborhood, with garbage pickup and everything.  Yeah sure, we could have done the whole experience and stayed in one of the resorts, but we aren’t those kind of people.  We are more like state park kind of folks.  Outdoorsy.  We like to explore the land and visit historical sites.  And yet … there we were among the magic of Disney World.  I’m still not sure who came up with the idea of it being this years vacation destination – oh wait, it was me!  Please don’t ask me why I chose it, though, because I don’t honestly have a good answer other than I think every kid should have a chance to go once and since my boys are thirteen and ten, I figured the opportunity for them going without much of a fuss was soon expiring.  Luckily, there wasn’t much fussing, but the excitement level didn’t run wild, either.  Truthfully none of us were overly anxious for the trip.  In fact, I’d put off making reservations until the very last-minute and was still finalizing plans up until the moment we left.  I know, terrible, terrible me.

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First let me say, I’m not one of those snow birds that will migrate to Florida when I retire.  It isn’t bad.  To visit.  I don’t want to live there.  Ever!  It’s too hot, crowded and bare of the dense forest of Kentucky that I’ve come to love.  The house we rented, though, couldn’t have been better.  I would definitely be up to staying there again.   Three bedroom, two bath, with a fully stocked kitchen and it even had its own private in-ground pool right outside the sliding glass door.  How awesome is that?   I”ll tell you, it’s awesome!  I woke up each morning and had coffee poolside.  One morning I manage to read while my little guy took a morning dip.

Now, I know vacations are supposed to be relaxing.  You’re supposed to take it easy, sit back, relax and have a good time.  But again, we are not that family.  We are the doer sort.  Go, go, go and see all that you can. And since we planed three full days in the parks, we wanted to take some time to get out and see a little bit of Florida that didn’t involve standing in long lines out in the summer heat.  A quick internet search led us to Wekiwa Springs State Park.  It did not however, let us know that this seemed to be the most popular park in the state and by 12:30 in the afternoon, it would be completely closed due to reaching its full capacity.   Pretty discouraging news after making the hour-long drive, but we drove around for a while longer and eventually got in.  I must say, it was well worth the canoe trip down the Wekiwa River and the frigid (and I do mean, frigid) Springs.  I’ll refrain from telling the story about the humongous dude my son and I knocked off his paddle board when we rammed him with our canoe.  Let’s just say huge is an understatement, but at least he was nice.    Oopsie 🙂IMG_0656[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, what is a trip to Disney without a day at Epcot?  This was probably my favorite day in the parks.  A little educational, a lot of interactive stuff, and a couple of good rides, it was the perfect start to our week.
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It’s been twenty plus years since I visited Disney as a teenager.  Animal Kingdom may have been an idea back then, but it didn’t exist.  More like an oversized zoo, if you have an animal lover it’s the place to go.  It’s also home to a pretty damn good roller coaster.  Once upon a time (like how I started that?), I was a roller coaster junkie.  Then age set in and I started realizing everything that could go wrong with those kinds of rides.  I haven’t been to an amusement park in years, but Face Everest was an awesome ride.  Smooth, intense and yet exhilarating, it didn’t disappoint.

While we might not be the fairytale family, I have boys, so space and rockets are high on our list of things that make them happy. We were lucky enough to be in Florida during a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch it.  Sorry for the terrible picture, (iPhone camera’s suck), but that bright light on the first picture is it.  If you’ve never been the Kennedy Space Center, I’d highly recommend going.  It’s fascinating, and make sure you take the bus tour that takes you out to the launch sites and such, it’s well worth it.  It’s hard to imagine the size of these rockets and shuttles until you’re actually there.   There is also a very emotional memorial to Space Shuttle Columbia and Challenger.  I can guarantee, it’s hard to walk out of there with a dry eye.

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I’m sure many of you have been to Disney, but for any that haven’t, you could literally spend weeks there.  I’m not even sure how many parks are involved when you take into account the water parks and all. Originally we only planned two days there and wanted to spend one day at Universal Studios, but when it came to budgeting and number crunching, the multiple day tickets at Disney won out and we ended up skipping Universal in lieu of Magic Kingdom.

IMG_0793[1]I’m not a princess loving kind of girl, but who can resist Cinderella’s castle?  My boys said I wished I lived there and I told them, yeah, because I’m such a princess.  They laughed at me 🙂  Seriously, though, everything at Disney is done with the finest detail.  It’s beautiful, fun, and easy to navigate.  The lines were fairly short and the fast pass’ are easy to get and use.  I’m sure if we (I) put more effort into planning this trip, we would have been able to enjoy a lot more, but we had a fun time anyhow.  Magic Kingdom was by far our longest day.  We arrived when it opened and didn’t leave until after the firework display.  And what a display it was!  There really isn’t any words for it other than TOTALLY AMAZING or maybe MAGICAL!  We sat right behind Cinderella’s castle and they were literally going off all around us.  Even my husband said it was the best firework show he’s ever seen.

 

IMG_0817[1]No, that’s not Jeff Gordon getting into that car.  That would be my oldest son.  Can you guess where we’re at?  Daytona Speedway.  Yeah, it was on the guy’s wish list of things to do.  All three did a ride-along around the track at speeds up to 170 miles per hour. Trust me, I definitely would have been up for this, but I did it a few years back at Kentucky Speedway, so I figured I’d save the money and pass.  I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of the trip for the guys and I didn’t mind, because it gave me some research time to take pictures and scout around behind the scenes for one of my WIP, a race car story, where not only does the hero drive, but also the heroine.

And what would be a trip to Daytona be without a stop at the beach?  It was the perfect ending to our week in Florida.  I suppose Florida isn’t really all that bad 🙂

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Okay, so there was one thing my guys wanted to see while we were there.  Can you guess?  It’s a  long, green and scaly creature. Alligators!  We expected to see some on our canoe trip (we’re told they were there), but that didn’t happen and we looked every where we went and do you know where the first one turned up?  Along the road in front of the space center.  Yep, in the water filled culverts.  Weird I know!  The guys were obsessed with them and the few we saw didn’t satisfy their curiosity, making a detour to find more, a must on our way home.

IMG_0879[1]Alas, we found gators at the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.  All kinds of gators, even teeny, tiny baby ones that were rather adorable.

All in all, our Disney vacation was fun.  We had a great time and I’m glad the kids got to experience it.  My favorite part?  Kennedy Space Center.  I could go on and on about it, but I don’t want to bore you too much.  My only regret was skipping Universal Studios.  I really think the boys would have enjoyed that more than Magic Kingdom, but it is what it is.  I know, we could always go back and try it again, but I doubt we will.  This was a one time, hit it and get it over with thing.  There are far too places in this world I want to see.

I would like to quickly add, a huge thank you to Richard, the owner of the house we rented.  If you are ever in the area and looking for a reasonably priced rental away from all the hustle of Orlando, I’d highly recommend this house.  You can find it on homeaway.com, a site I’ve used several times to book lodging for our vacations.  Richard was easy to deal with, the house was absolutely beautiful, comfy and clean.  You are required to provide toiletries and paper products (trash bags, toilet paper, etc), but the kitchen comes fully stocked with everything you’d need.  The best part about it?  It’s only twenty minutes away from all the excitement and did I mention it had a pool?  This pool was such a blessing after a hot day at the parks.  If I ever come back, I’d stay here again.  Thanks Richard for making our Disney stay so comfortable.

Until next year …