Giveaway/Contests

Bloggy Giveaway – Twilight Saga

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! Thanks to everyone who visited and left comments!!

CONGRATULATIONS go to Rachel from The Science of Music!

Bloggy Giveaway - Twilight Saga

In the event I can’t reach Rachel before 5:00 p.m. November 3rd, I will contact the second person drawn.

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

Did you know the Fall round of Bloggy Giveaways has started? And OF COURSE, I must get involved because HELLO?! I love to give things away. 🙂

This go-around, I’m opting to give the following three books away, together and as part of a set:

Twlight Saga
(I know there are four books in this series, but this way, you can decide if you want to buy the last book or not. 🙂 )

These are brand-new paperback books, (*Added: I just discovered that Eclipse, the third book listed, is only in hardback. So, the first two will be paperbacks, the third will be hardback) wouldn’t these make GREAT Christmas gifts??

Here’s how you can win them:

1. Leave one comment per day, please – each comment counts toward one ticket.

2. Subscribe to my feed. Each feed subscription counts as one ticket. If you already subscribe (thank you!!), then please let me know in your comments and I’ll add another ticket for you.

And that’s it! I’ll tally up the number of tickets for everyone and then run the number through random.org at 5:00 p.m. U.S. central time Friday, October 31st. The winner will be announced on my blog, as well as emailed.

I’m sorry, but this giveaway is only open to U.S. addresses at this time. International shipping just isn’t in the budget right now. 😦

So, what are you waiting for? Leave a comment and have fun browsing the rest of the giveaways! I know I will!!

Life-condensed

Hailed On

Well, that was unpleasant.

I am currently at the public library and I not only ran into some heavy rain, but hail as well.

Rain? I can handle. Hail? Not so much.

I’m driving an ’08 Vibe and the thought of having hail damage freaks me out. Luckily, the library used to be an old lumber yard and they have huge carport structures back behind the building. So, I raced to get under one …

… me and about half a dozen other people.

I can’t really tell at this point if there is any damage, but I’ll be on pins and needles until I know for sure.

In addition, this is Halloween. And there are a TON of little kids dressed up in costume. I’m assuming the library is having some kind of shindig for the children. This also means there are a ton of screaming, yelling, excited children running around.

Swell. At least they are adorable to look at or I might have to get cranky. *grin*

Quick note: I haven’t been to this library in quite a few months. I was pleasantly surprised to see they had added quite a few cubicles, complete with power bars, as well as a few funky tall tables and chairs, next to outlets, I might add. I’m currently sitting in a cubicle, though I wanted to sit at one of the two funky tables.

Only I couldn’t because one table is occupied by a sleeping student and the way the tables are situated, I would be sitting facing the kid and I didn’t want him to think I was staring at him.

Which I would totally be doing if I were sitting at the next table. Not because I’m weird like that, but because I’d be staring and zoning while thinking (I do that) and it could be misconstrued as being stalker-ish.

Another quick note: My mini-Dell is acting squirrely. It keeps toggling from top of page to bottom of page, while I’m typing. Most of the time I don’t notice what’s going on and keep on typing, in the middle of another paragraph because the cursor jumped so I end up spending all of my time undoing the last command and putting the cursor in the correct position. It’s beyond frustrating. It could be a setting, or maybe I’m hitting something by accident, but if we can’t figure it out soon, it may have to go back to the shop.

And there is no way I can use it for NaNoWriMo because I’ll be typing, fast, and I don’t have the time or patience to deal with a bi-polar computer.

It’s a good thing I have my Toshiba laptop to fall back on (and from which I’m typing this now).

In case you’re keeping track, I now have four computers, all to myself.

I’m beyond spoiled.

And yes, I’m embarrassed to tell you that.

Photos

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween!
(GD was a clown in 1993).

I stumbled on this GREAT link. It’s scary, creepy and it gave me goosebumps when I watched it so I wouldn’t recommend watching it in front of little children. Shoo them out of the room, dim the lights, turn your speakers waaaay up and enjoy. If you get a chance, browse around the rest of the site. There’s quite a few creepy stories to watch and read. Happy Halloween!

Have a GREAT time with your little ones, tonight! We plan on renting a scary movie and/or some scary games!

NaNoWriMo

50,000 Words or Bust!

This is it, we’re down to the final wire. NaNo starts at midnight tonight. Of course, I won’t be up at that time, but the challenge officially starts. Just to forewarn you now, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have in the coming weeks to update this blog. I still plan on posting pictures and I have nearly half a page of drafts that I’ve written over the months, so there IS material.

Keep an eye on the NaNo gauge in the sidebar. I also plan on posting a cute cartoon that shows my progress, too. If you don’t see it steadily inching upwards over the next few weeks, contact me and ask me why the heck not?? Tease me, torment me, goad me into finishing. You see that nifty NaNo 2008 participant graphic in the right-hand column? I want one that says WINNER. And you can only get one of those IF you submit 50,000 words or more by the end of November.

Do I have any idea what I’m going to write about? Yes, I have a tentative outline that will guide me for the first several chapters, after that, well, I’ll let the characters take control and see where they take me.

I plan on getting up about 5:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday this weekend to get my word count in. If I don’t get my writing done before the family wakes up, I’m doomed (I get too distracted and there’s chores and you know, actually paying attention to my family. :D)

As long as the weather cooperates, I plan on hanging out at the MSU library. It only costs $2.25 to park there for three hours and I can pound out 3,000 words in three hours, right? *gulp* If the weather doesn’t cooperate, then I’ll be heading toward our public library (because I won’t have to walk so far to make it indoors).

And if the family is home and won’t leave me alone, there’s always our Cub. Whew! My fingers are tired just THINKING about all of this typing ahead of me.

So, consider this “official” notice – this blog will be sporadic at best in the coming weeks. I’ll try to write a word here and there and let you know how I’m doing but really, the gauge will say it all.

I’m really pushing myself this year. My goal is to actually write 100,000 words. I know. I’m insane. BUT, I’m determined to give it my best effort so we’ll see. That means, I’ll need to write 3,333 words every day in order to make it. I’m thinking that I’ll most likely finish the story before 100,000, but who knows. Wish me luck!

Oh, and did I mention that we’re going camping next weekend? And that the husband, GD and the father-in-law’s birthdays are this month? And of course, there’s Thanksgiving. And the promise of another project to start (which always stresses me out). Then, the regular answering email thing (I get a lot of emails – requests to update websites). OH yeah, this is gonna be a FUN month …

I’m off to mentally prepare for the next 30 days of intense writing.

Life, NaNoWriMo

Memories Are Cheap Nowadays

I just purchased a memory.

For $2.25, to be exact.

I am currently sitting in the Missouri State University library. I’m on the second floor and it is so quiet, I can hear my own heart beating. I am using my Mini-Dell and it’s a bit frustrating because the keyboard is so much smaller than what I’m used to, (especially the apostrophe and quote button – WHY did they put it way down there??). But I will get used to it … eventually. I guess I won’t have a choice, considering NaNoWriMo starts this Saturday.

At the MSU Library - Close up
(My cute LITTLE computer).

It’s been five years since I’ve been on this campus (I graduated in ’03) and not much has changed. It was really strange walking across campus again and pretending to belong to the rest of the crowd; the YOUNG crowd. Even when I went here, I always felt uncomfortable because I was always one of the oldest “kids” in class.

Being Serious
(Trying to be “serious” and incognito).

But when I walked the mile and a half from my car to the library (I had to park in the metered section, hence the $2.25 and of course, it’s not close to anything), the memories came flooding back. I was tempted to go to my old English building and see if any of my old professors were still around. It’s only been five years, but that can be a lifetime when you’re talking about college life.

The campus is full of life and sizzling with energy. I saw a group of kids being led around by the nose while their tour guide walked them around campus and talked about the various buildings, etc. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw the whites of one kid’s eyes, he was taking it all in so fast.

I walked among all the students and secretly studied their mannerisms and various modes of dress. I suddenly felt homesick … for school. I had almost forgotten that there was an “art” to weaving in and around people when classes changed. I’m proud to say, I only bumped two people and knocked one person off balance once – not bad for a rusty dodger. *grin*

I felt like an intruder – I did not like the feeling.

I passed a dude who whipped out a mini flute out of his back pocket and began playing a catchy little tune while he walked down the sidewalk. Many students stepped out of their stupors and looked up in surprise at his audacity to express himself.

Not saying that students are a bunch of cattle, but when you’re so focused on trying to do your best and memorize everything that’s thrown at you, sometimes you simply don’t remember to join the rest of the living.

If you were ever a college student, you would understand what I mean by that.

I just tried connecting to the internet, no go. They have WiFi available, but you have to have a username and password to login and I’m too embarrassed to walk down to the front desk and ask them what hoops I need to jump through in order to get that information.

But maybe that’s okay, I’d just get distracted and wouldn’t get any work done anyway.

I’m here to work on my outline. And now I have about 2 ½ hours to work on it before my meter runs out. I only paid for three hours because it’ll be time to pick up the kids pretty soon and though I would love to stick around here all day and simply soak in the college atmosphere, the kids might not appreciate my desire to walk down memory lane.

One thing about this library? It doesn’t smell. It doesn’t have that bookish smell. It’s clean. It’s not even that dusty. If this woman sitting across from me ever leaves, I’ll take some pictures. I am sitting behind a huge column though (because it has an outlet), so I was able to take a few pictures of my table, but I’d like to take more to give you a better idea of why I LOVE THIS PLACE!

I miss college. I really do. I loved learning. I loved the people. I felt so alive and smart when I went here. And I even miss spending hours and hours in this very library frantically pounding out paper after paper that were all due at the same time and all worth about 90% of my grade in every class.

In fact, I remember one time, I spent nearly 8 full hours in this library researching and writing about a 20 page paper that was due the next day. I remember drinking gallons of coffee and staying until the wee hours of the morning hunched over my laptop while trying to figure out why a certain table was acting the way it was. It was an incredibly frustrating, yet exhilarating experience in my life. I went to college full-time while the kids were in school. I worked nights full time. I got virtually no sleep and was stressed 92% of my waking time, but MAN, I had fun.

And I really miss those days. I often jokingly ask the husband what he thought about me going back to school for my masters degree – he’ s not crazy about that idea. And okay, I’ll be honest, I’m not really joking but someday, I would love to come back, if for nothing else than to simply LEARN more stuff.

I love to learn.

Hey, that lady took off. So, here’s another picture of my setup…

At the MSU Library - Far Away

Okay, back to business. I need to get started on my characters. I cut some pictures out of the JCPenney catalog last night – I thought the models were interesting looking. I need pictures of my characters because I’m a visual person and I just work better like that.

Character Pictures
(Say hello to my NaNoWriMo characters)

Enough playing around. I need to get started. Thanks for making the trip down memory lane with me. I plan on haunting the campus library a lot these next few weeks … or at least until I go broke from feeding the meter monsters.

Feel Like a Student Again
(I miss being a student! Wah!)

Hope your day is going well!

UPDATE: I hammered out my main characters and wrote a tentative prologue and outlined the first two chapters. I don’t dare spend more time on my outline – it’ll just change anyway. In fact, I’ll be lucky if I even use what I wrote today.

I’m like the world’s most unorganized writer, EVAH!

Time to pick up the kids!

Bye.

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen – Stay Healthy

Guess what. Cold season is upon us. According to health officials, cold/flu season runs from October to early spring, peaking in February.

So listen up, I want to make sure you stay healthy, kay?

1. Wash your hands twice every time you wash them. When Columbia University researchers looked for germs on volunteers’ hands, they found one handwashing had little effect, even when using antibacterial soap. So wash twice if you’re serious about fending off colds.

My two cents: You might want to make sure you have a tube of hand lotion on you, too. With all of that hand washing, your skin is going to turn dry and flaky in no time.

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2. Use this hand-drying strategy in public restrooms. Studies find a shockingly large percentage of people fail to wash their hands after using a public restroom. And every single one of them touches the door handle on the way out. So after washing your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet. Use another paper towel to dry your hands, then open the door with that paper towel as a barrier between you and the handle. It sounds nuts, but it’s an actual recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control to protect you from infectious diseases like cold and flu.

My two cents: I’ve been doing this for years. In fact, public restrooms completely gross me out and if I can get away with not using one, I will.

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3. Use your knuckle to rub your eyes. It’s less likely to be contaminated with viruses than your fingertip. This is particularly important given that the eye provides a perfect entry point for germs, and the average person rubs his eyes or nose or scratches his face 20-50 times a day.

My two cents: Yep, I do this.

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4. Run your toothbrush through the microwave on high for 10 seconds to kill germs that can cause colds and other illnesses. You think it gets your teeth clean — and it does. But once you’re done brushing, your toothbrush is a breeding ground for germs. Sterilize it in the microwave before you use it, or store it in hydrogen peroxide (rinse well before using), or simply replace it every month when you change the page on your calendar and after you’ve had a cold.

My two cents: Are they crazy?? Put your toothbrush in your microwave? So that you can consume all sorts of toxins from the plastic? DO NOT MICROWAVE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH.

Honestly, what were they thinking? Boil your toothbrushes (don’t leave them in the water longer than 30 seconds or they will begin to melt) or better yet, boil them AND soak them in hydrogen peroxide. I do this to our toothbrushes once a week. (Probably should do it more often, actually).

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5. Put a box of tissues wherever people sit. Come October, buy a 6- or 12-pack of tissue boxes and strategically place them around the house, your workplace, your car. Don’t let aesthetics thwart you. You need tissues widely available so that anyone who has to cough or sneeze or blow his nose will do so in the way least likely to spread germs.

My two cents: This is actually a pretty good idea. How many times have we “sneaked” a wipe with our hands because there weren’t any tissues around.

Oh come on, we’ve ALL done it.

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6. Lower the heat in your house 5 degrees. The dry air of an overheated home provides the perfect environment for cold viruses to thrive. And when your mucous membranes (i.e., nose, mouth, and tonsils) dry out, they can’t trap those germs very well. Lowering the temperature and using a room humidifier helps maintain a healthier level of humidity in the winter.

My two cents: No problem with that here. In fact, our house is always so cold that I’m usually pretty numb by the time I have to leave to pick up the boys from school. (*Sigh* I wish I were kidding).

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7. Sit in a sauna once a week. Why? Because an Austrian study published in 1990 found that volunteers who frequently used a sauna had half the rate of colds during the six-month study period than those who didn’t use a sauna at all. It’s possible that the hot air you inhale kills cold viruses. Most gyms have saunas these days.

My two cents: Oh SUUUURE. We all have access to a sauna, right? Pfft.

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8. Inhale air from your blow-dryer. It sounds nuts, we know. But one study conducted at Harvard Hospital in England found that people who breathed heated air had half the cold symptoms of people who inhaled air at room temperature. Set the dryer on warm, not hot, and hold it at least 18 inches from your face. Breathe in the air through your nose for as long as you can — 20 minutes is best.

My two cents: You lost me at 20 MINUTES?! Are you insane? Who has time to stand around for 20 minutes and breathe? And who wants to pay for the extra electricity this will generate, hhmm?

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9. Take a garlic supplement every day. When 146 volunteers received either one garlic supplement a day or a placebo for 12 weeks between November and February, those taking the garlic were not only less likely to get a cold, but if they did catch one, their symptoms were less intense and they recovered faster.

My two cents: My folks SWEAR by this one. In fact, they take garlic everyday. And I’ve read other places that garlic is really good for your immune system. And I wish I could do this, but the husband has a VERY sensitive sense of smell and even though you can buy “odorless” garlic, he still smells it and it grosses him out. Since I like keeping my husband close, I guess I’ll have to forget about this tip.

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10. Change or wash your hand towels every three or four days during cold and flu season. When you wash them, use hot water in order to kill the germs.

My two cents: I’m going to get slammed for telling you this, but we don’t use hand towels, we use paper towels. *sigh* I know. Wasteful, right? But I have to tell you folks, we’ve had a lot fewer colds since using paper towels than we have had using hand towels. I also don’t use a washcloth to wipe my kitchen down either, I use sponges. And then I throw them away once a week. It works for us!

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11. Eat a container of yogurt every day. A study from the University of California-Davis found that people who ate one cup of yogurt — whether live culture or pasteurized — had 25 percent fewer colds than non-yogurt eaters.

My two cents: Yogurt is not only good for preventing colds, it also keeps the happy doctor away (ladies, you know what I mean, right?) I’m a big proponent of yogurt. Go yogurt! Or is that Go-gurt? hehe

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12. Wipe your nose — don’t blow. Your cold won’t hang around as long, according to a University of Virginia study. Turns out that the force of blowing not only sends the gunk out of your nose into a tissue, but propels some back into your sinuses. And, in case you’re curious, they discovered this using dye and X rays. If you need to blow, blow gently, and blow one nostril at a time.

My two cents
: I’ve been doing this for years. But not because I thought it would help me not catch colds but because whenever I blow too hard, I get a sinus infection each and every time. So now? I wipe – a lot. My nose pretty much stays red all the time in the cold months.

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13. Don’t pressure your doctor for antibiotics. Colds and flu (along with most common infections) are caused by viruses, so antibiotics — designed to kill bacteria — won’t do a thing. They can hurt, however, by killing off the friendly bacteria that are part of our immune defenses. If you’ve used antibiotics a lot lately, consider a course of probiotics — replacement troops for friendly bacteria.

My two cents: Since I never go to the doctor, this one doesn’t really apply to me. 🙂

Life

Camped Out

I will be spending my day working on my outline for NaNoWriMo, so I won’t have time to write anything for this blog.

This was originally published October 2006. In fact, I had to smile when I read this post because we’re thinking about going camping next weekend, for my birthday. Some things never change.

Have a great Wednesday, ya’ll!

Updated: I got SQUAT done on my outline! I mean nothing, nada, zip, big, fat zero! AARG! What is wrong wit me? It’s like, “Oh look, I still have two whole days before I HAVE to start writing – outline-schmoutline, I don’t need no stinkin’ outline. But actually, I do! Wah! I’m such a deadhead! 😦

______________________________________

We packed up the Cub (i.e. camper/trailer) and headed back down to our favorite camping spot, Cooper Creek in Branson, Missouri this past weekend. This will probably be our last camping trip of the year unless the weather is nice around Thanksgiving. Camping in the fall is our absolute favorite time to camp – the weather is warm, but not hot. There aren’t very many bugs and the leaves are beginning to turn, transforming the world into a multi-colored kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows.

Campsite View

This is the view from our campsite. We reserved a spot right off Lake Taneycomo – we were able to unzip the canvas walls of our back bed (our camper has fold-out beds) watch boats lazily idle by and people cleaning their catch of the day.

Our weather couldn’t have been more perfect – sunny and high 70’s during the day, low 40’s at night. We all slept great, until our neighbors’ dogs started barking at the crack of dawn. (They had FIVE schnauzers. Five people! Who takes five dogs with them camping?!)

We didn’t do much. We arrived at the campsite last Thursday evening – we took off right after the kids got out of school on Thursday (they were out of school on Friday). We had a moment of panic when we brought the first bed down and water sloshed out. The water was brownish and smelled pretty rank so it must have been sitting there since the last time we camped (in July). Hopefully we can figure out where it’s leaking and fix it before our canvas rots.

We went out to eat Thursday night at a Chinese buffet. I made the mistake of sampling a really spicy dish and well … had problems the rest of the weekend (we’ll just leave it at that)

On Friday, the hubs and I went shopping and bought the boys some long-sleeved t-shirts from the outlet malls. We also visited the discount bookstore we ALWAYS visit when we go to Branson. Unfortunately, we also learned they were closing down. We were heartbroken. These bookstores have the best prices and I always buy a ton of books whenever we’re down there. We wrapped up that shopping trip pretty bummed out. Now we’ll have to find a new bookstore to browse when we’re down there.

Friday night the hubs built a fire and the kids roasted marshmallows. They ate about the first half dozen or so, but then it became a game to see who could squish the most together and then burn them into grotesque shapes.

Saturday we drove down to the dam to see if the guys would have better luck with their fishing – they didn’t. In fact, no one even got a nibble all weekend long. The guys were pretty disappointed but it was fun to watch them climb the huge rocks down to the shore and even more fun to watch them climb back up. Me? I wasn’t about to risk turning an ankle or injuring my back, so I stayed at the top and nervously chewed my fingernails. No one was hurt, thank goodness.

I had several opportunities to work on my NaNoWriMo outline, but I didn’t. In fact, I plugged my laptop into an outside outlet on our trailer and set it up on a picnic table overlooking the lake. I was all set to work, but I got distracted by the sparkling water and passing boaters. I spent most of the time daydreaming and listening to the hum of my notebook.

Though I didn’t get any work done, I savored the peace and quiet. Sitting there, observing nature’s tranquility and breathing in the fresh woodsy smell surrounding me, I felt small knots of anixety begin to loosen deep in my gut. It was nice to just sit and BE – to simply exist. There were no demands. There were no deadlines. It was just me and nature, peacefully co-existing.

*sigh*

I need to get away like that more often.

Can We Talk?

Discussion: The Fat Tax

discussion7
(I Twittered this this morning. Are you following my tweets?)

I saw this on the MSN news site this morning:

The Fat Tax

The state of Alabama has issued a warning to its state workers: Get fit or pay up.

In August, the Alabama State Employees’ Insurance Board approved a plan that will charge workers an additional $25 to cover their insurance premiums, if they don’t take advantage of free health screenings available to all state employees. The program, to begin in January, will require state workers to receive medical screenings for body mass index and health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.

Critics have panned this as a “fat tax” that unfairly punishes people for their genetic predispositions. Others argue that the measure amounts to lawful discrimination that infringes on the right of free will, much like the state’s 2004 decision to offer a discount to non-smoking employees.

Nonsense. This is an opportunity, not punishment. It is an important step toward better preventive care at a time when health costs are soaring and Americans are in increasing denial about their ever-ballooning weight. And the state is offering a free—yes, free—jumpstart. Under the plan, state employees are being asked to go to a free health screening, and if necessary, a free doctor’s consultation. If those screenings show that a person is predisposed to illness due to their weight or other conditions, they will be offered help to begin to address their health issues. Only if workers fail to take advantage of the free screening will they be charged the additional $25.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it’s like, “WHAT?! We don’t need no stinkin’ government telling us how to live our lives.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I do not want more government in our lives.

On the other hand, it’s like, “WHAT?! Why should my health insurance premiums go up just to support people who are choosing not to live a healthy lifestyle?”

Has obesity really gotten so out of hand that the government now has to step in and take over?

Wow, I find that sad.

Thoughts?

Life-condensed

My Dog is Smarter Than Your Honor Student … Huh?

I’m seeing these things all over cars where I live:

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What does that even mean?? Is that an insult to children? Is that an insult to the parents of honor students? Are animal owners jealous of people with honor students? Is that dissing our school system? Our teachers? Our education system overall?

I’ve even seen a bumper sticker like this on an SUV that I see in the car line everyday when picking up my sons. So I’m assuming they have a child at that school. Is this an insult to their child? How does that child feel being compared to the family pet and in essence being told, “Our dog is smarter than you are!”

AARGH! I’m confused!

I seriously don’t get it.

I have a headache trying to make sense of this.

Enlighten me, Internet.