Saturday, July 31, 2010

All Nighter with Some Great People

I wanted to share the pictures from the all-nighter with the youth group from Prince of Peace Catholic Church.

(I am a youth leader there.)

Sorry - they were taken with my mobile phone - so they are dark and sometimes blurry - but it does the trick in a pinch!

Kaci and I are getting the kids together at the church. It is about 7:30pm here.. not too tired yet!

Oh how lucky am I? I get to drive one of the vans.. LOL. Here is my little group - slowly getting in the van..

We started off at Giano's Italian Restaurant in Vestavia. I ordered the cheese ravioli and salad with balsamic vinegar dressing and garlic bread!

Next we drove down to Carmike Cinema at The Summit and watched Toy Story 3. Here is my group (from the van.) We arrived safe and sound!

Second van group made it safe and sound also!!

After the 9pm movie - we headed across the street to 32 degrees Yogurt Bar! It was about 10:45pm.

The group immediately began getting all the yogurt they could! It was a neat little place - the wall have the mosaic designs.

I went a little traditional - Dark Chocolate and Tahiatian Vanilla with sprinkles!

Calina enjoyed the wildest mix of flavors!

It was almost midnight - and the workers were rude and wanted our group out of there.

By 1am we made it to a Bowling Alley.  This is Charlie waiting for his lane!

It is super dark - and Paul is glowing!

About 2am - Caroline and I trying to stay awake at the bowling alley!

Bowling complete with music, strobe lights, and a smoke machine..

Christina's nails are glowing! I always love a good black light.

2:30am - IHOP time.

Collen (our youth minister) and Marshall are holding on!!

Right before our candle light prayer service at 4am - the alarm goes off in the church's catholic school. We had to stand still while they were fixing it. I capture this "Breakfast Club" moment. ;-)

That's all!

Land of the Living

I wake up every morning with the intention to be in a good mood and enjoy my day. I truly wake up with no ill will for anyone or anything.

I think my husband is the exact opposite. He wakes up grumpy (or as Leanne at From Chaos Comes Happiness says - "Crankville.")

Unfortunately moods truly effect the way my day will go. If I am expecting happiness and loving words and thoughts in the am from the egyptian - I better buy a romance novel instead.

So I have turned to caffeine to pull me out of the deep dark trenches known as the grizzly man in the morning. This morning? A double shot espresso. Praise God for the simple things.

I am planning on writing a few things this week that may or may not settle well with those close to me. I am going to take a look at relationships between family members, friends and .. well.. cranky husbands.

I am going to tackle a few key words that I think make a strong relationship: Respect, Honesty, Love, and Trust.

When you think of a healthy, happy relationship - what 4 or 5 words come to mind?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Taking tired to a whole 'nother level..

This girl is one tired little cookie. If you follow me on Twitter (which FINALLY I am getting better about updating) - you know I have been busy with work and with home. Just both in general.

Work is actually going pretty good! The fiscal year end came to.. well.. an end. We gained two BIG sponsors (which means lots o cash for cardiovascular diseases) and the media is trucking along just fine. We taped two PSAs this week for the Start! Heart Walk in August - and today we had a HUGE meeting with the marketing team from a hospital system here. Good.. good... good.

Home? All is peaceful. (Praise God!) The hardest part is all of the driving. Basically - I get up at 6am - drive to work. Then at 2pm drive to pick up the egyptian - then drive him to work. I head back to work. Then leave work - drive back home. TRY to stay awake until 10:30pm - drive to pick him up. Then we get home around 11:30pm. I hopefully head to bed, then get up and do it all over. (Please note - it is a 30 minute drive for me to get to work (with all of the traffic) - then 30 back to home. Then 15 to the egyptian's job. 20 to my work. Then 1 hour home (traffic jams at 5pm) - then 10 to his job - and 10 back. (Due to traffic.) I spend almost 3 hours a day in the car. *sigh*

This weekend I just KNOW I will be exhausted. I am about to leave to volunteer at my church to drive the van for the "lock in" for the youth group. Personally - that's not a lock-in - more of an all-night activity thing.. but whatever. We are going to take the kids (about 70 of them) to pizza then yogurt then movie then coffee (starbucks) then midnight bowling then ihop then back to the church for nighttime prayer and volleyball. Until 7am.

Then I come home - crash - get up - take the egyptian to work. He gets off at 11pm and has to return at 7am.

Can I just say it? Son of a bitch.

Pray for a peaceful Nicole. LOL Perhaps instead of stressing over the lack of sleep, perhaps I can concentrate on what fun and fellowship I am having...

Oh the naps I will take!

What are YOU doing this weekend?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Something happened on the way to the..

I used to be quite the "controversial" status update girl on Facebook. Especially during the Presidential Election. I knew that (considering the part of the United States I live in) that a majority of the people I knew were more than likely conservative.  Which got me thinking... when did it become conservative versus liberal? What happened to good old fashioned democrat and republican? I guess that is a post for another time and place. In case you are wondering - I am independent, and leaning more toward the liberal side on some issues.. less on others. I have traditionally voted republican (because I despised the democratic candidates) - however I not only voted for Obama - I actually campaigned for him.      

So what is this blog post about? I am not certain, but there is one thing I am very certain about - I am.. without a doubt.. a shameless agitator. But only in the good sense.

I like to get people thinking. I like for other people to challenge my thoughts. I believe that it is impossible to "make up your mind" about anything. Impossible. Things/people/ideas change and God willing, evolve. The one fear and complete disappointment I have for the human race is a lack of thought evolution.

I question everything - all the time. Perhaps that would drive average person "mad" (could explain a lot about my personality ;-) ) - however, I think it is so important to expose ourselves, our minds, our fears, our perceptions to every opportunity possible.

Excuses be damned! Money, time, etc. - that's what a library is for. Inside are books, I highly recommend picking one up from time to time.

Now I ask you - what are you most passionate about? What is your "personality-type" talent? I like to get people thinking... what do you do that might take people out of their comfort zone for the "good" of the world?


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bloggers Make Excellent People!

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

Making the commitment to write and keep a blog is hard work. HARD work. I know tons of people that claim to keep a blog. They do - but are more sporadic in their writing. Some of the best writers I know only commit to one post a month or so. To me, in all honesty, that's not really committing to a blog.

I am so thankful I decided to branch out and network a bit more. It all started with joining "Networked Blogs." One day a random person from the blog-o-sphere stopped by and left me a "Blogger Award." (Thanks Dewin!) Then I ended up finding blog resources.. then a blogger's network.. then a few blogs I really, really liked.. and next thing you know - BOOM - you have a following and you are a follower!

One of my absolute favorite blogs is Cassagram! A few weeks ago she announced she was taking a trip cross country! When I read her blog post, and saw she was passing through Alabama, I suggested she give me a buzz and let's do lunch!

Well.. lo and behold - we did just that! Here is one of the goofiest pictures of me - lol - (Cassandra, I am sure you would agree! I have a cheeseburger smile! LOL) -

I was thrilled to have lunch with her and her sister and the egyptian. (Yes - one of my fellow bloggers met the infamous "egyptian."  I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of her journey - and what a journey it is turning out to be! I am looking forward to hearing all about it once she returns home.
The blogger community is an excellent place to meet some really interesting, talented people!
PS - Make sure to follow Cassagram. You will NOT be disappointed!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I wonder what would have happened?

I wonder..

1. If my dad did not throw that party at his house in 1972 - would he have ever met my mother?

2. If my parents had kept their home on Lake Tobo, I would have attended a different high school - who would be my friends now?

3. If had stayed taking ballet classes from Karen at Modern Dance Academy, would I have continued to dance throughout my adult years?

4. If my grandfather was able to afford a different hospital (versus the VA) would he still be alive today?

5. If I had stayed working in television instead of moving into public relations - where would I be living right now?

6. If I had not gotten a job in tv right after my internship, would I have gone to Europe to teach english or joined the Peace Corps?

7. If I had not given Chris my email that night at the bar - would we have ever spoken again and would we have ever dated and gotten married?

8. If I had not hosted all of those exchange students - would I have even stayed with my ex as long as I did?

9. If I had not chosen to follow my ex to Birmingham, where would I be now?

10. If I had not gotten sick and had surgery, would the egyptian and I be expecting our first child now?

11. If I had not taken a chance and flew to Egypt - would I be married now?

12. If I had not thrown my 32nd birthday party and let my ex invite a friend, would my sister have met her ex and had Autumn?

13. If I had not tracked down my old friend, Wendy, from TX to attend my first wedding - would she have ever reconnected with her first love, get married and had her little angel?

14. Would she ever have to feel the pain of losing a child.. if I had not gotten in touch with her?

15. Would I be in the shape I yearn for - if I had just stuck with the Mediterranean Diet back in October and the personal trainer this past spring?

I could go on for hours..

Share with me 3 of your "what ifs.."

Joys of using your work computer until..

I am fortunate enough that my job offers me a laptop. Very fortunate.
My husband has one - and refuses to let me near it. There seems to be there protective bubble around the area he is seated at.

It drives me crazy that he has designated the dining room as his personal desk. BONKERS, I tell you. 

To get back to the subject at hand.. my desktop computer (personal) completely died. DIED. So - for now, I have to use my work laptop for posting my blogs, or FB status updates or whatever. The problem is - there are sooo many firewalls set up.

Last night, as I logged onto my blog - I took a moment to look at the layout. I LOVE it. My dear Blog friend Leanne at From Chaos Comes Happiness did it for me. However, I noticed the background was scheduled to be deleted on August 1st - or so the little thing at the bottom of my page told me. Booo. So I had to go searching for a new background image. Low and behold - half of the sites were completely blocked by the office firewall. I had to settle for this mediocre background.

Friday is pay day. I am GOING to buy a new computer. That's final.

Also - gripe number 2 - camera. I have been shooting random photos with my mobile phone camera. YUCK. MY cute camera died back in December (I think.) The egyptian bought a brand new - NICE camera. He will not let me touch it. (Are you beginning to see a trend here?)

Personally I think it is ridiculous for me to buy a new one - but he has forced me to do so. First of all - he doesn't even know how to take good pics. Sorry, but it is true. Nor does he EVER use the damned thing. Thus - I must go spend another couple hundred on a new one.

*silent scream*

Joys Joys Joys of living with someone from a third world country that never really had expensive toys. You would think the items were made of gold.

Please be patient with my background. Plus, be patient with my crappy photos.

I realize this too shall pass.. ;-)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hopes & Dreams - Baby!

WHOA - wait a minute. Don't let the punctuation or word fool you - there is NO baby, nor will there ever be one. Questions? See this for clarification.

What I was referring to (and not so well...) was what I am hoping for in the next 3 months and what my silly little dreams may or may not contain. I threw in the word baby for effect. Did it work?

Okay.. maybe not.. but now you can at least say - OH. And if you read the link above.. you might add a more quiet and drawn out - oooh.

Moving on.

I feel completely pumped about the upcoming months. Yes, yes - September is looming. For clarification on the hell September brings please take a moment and look here and here and here.

But rest assured.. I am not scared. September kicked my ass last year. No doubt about it. It is when everything in my life started rolling down hill. The egyptian and I hit a massive roadblock by December, tried to pick ourselves up throughout winter - then finally slid into "pent up aggression hell" this past spring/summer. We are somehow making a conscious effort to choose happiness.

Let's face it guys - that first year of living together/marriage is TOUGH. But most of our crap started back in September of 09. And it was the external factors trying to crush our balls that time. ;-)

However - August, Sept, Oct - and the rest of 2010 is looking good! Here's the thing - if items like before hit - that's okay! We have experienced it before and we CAN move forward.

Here is what I am pumped about:

1. Going home the weekend of the 7th. I miss my family and friends and have not seen some since Christmas and others since April.

2. Starting my Zumba and Aqua Aerobic Class at the Y.

3. Getting started on this whole coach surfing thing. Check it out!

4. Finally learning to sew/quilt/knit - something this fall!

5. Buying a new computer. Sims - here I come .. do you miss me?? ;-)

6. Redecorating the homestead.

7. Pumpkin Spice Lattes




And most important.. wearing the most beautiful jeweled toned clothing and bringing back the sleeves and jackets. Hallelujah!

What about you? What are you looking forward to in the next 3 or 4 months?

The Book Lover's Angel

You never know when someone or something is going to take your day down a different path. Today started off super stressful. Work was HARD core. I needed a delicious break.  I took my intern Caroline with me to the ORIGINAL Whistle Stop Cafe in Irondale, Alabama. This is THE inspiration for Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg. Yes, my middle Georgia friends - we are familiar with the movie set "Whistle Stop" in Juliette. But this is the ACTUAL inspiration for the book.

This is Caroline. She is holding her little glass bottle of coca cola. Here you see a typical southern village. Check out the Barber Shop twirly thing.

As we were walking down the town center, we were waiting to see Aunt Bee and Barney and Andy.. and little Opie. None of them appeared.

Instead - we headed to the Whistle Stop cafe.
Check out the spread. We had roasted chicken with basil and garlic, mashed potatoes.. then I had mac & cheese and she had squash. We opted for dessert - I got a slice of custard pie, while Caroline indulged in Coconut Cream Pie. We both got these little glass coke bottles and literally had to get a bottle opener with our silverware.
Alas.. no fried green tomatoes for us.

You will  now see - I once again ... buried the lead. Turns out.. Caroline and I took the road less traveled.. and it has made all the difference.
Without further adieu.. Caroline Giraud is my first official guest blogger...
Take it away .. Miss Giraud...

Thanks Nicole! I thought it was pretty cool to be eating at the real Whistlestop; even though I'd never read the book or seen the movie it's just one of those well-known local spots. And let me say, the food was very good. The chicken was just okay, but the sides were the real stars. Mashed potatoes and gravy - YUM. I could've just eaten that. And the coconut cream pie...delish. After lunch we went down to this cute little used book store we'd seen on our way to lunch. We were greeted by this little old man with a beard and big glasses. He showed us the store, which was stacked to the ceiling with all different kinds of books. As we browsed, he asked me about college, telling us about his son's scholarship and how he'd changed his major. After we got to talking, Nicole told him that she worked at the American Heart Association and he told us about his own problems with heart disease, introducing himself as Voris. We ended up listening to this sweet old man's stories about the VA hospital and his family. In the end, he insisted that I read Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts. I just had to buy it from him, he was such a nice guy. Nicole went with The Kite Runner because, after the time we'd spent talking to him, we couldn't very well leave without buying anything. 
Good business plan, right? Wrong. He didn't take credit cards, just cash or check. And since neither of us had either, we were out of luck. We told him we would come back later, but he insisted on letting us have the books and paying him later. Nicole gave him her business card, but I don't think he was very concerned. So we left with our books, pretty much leaving Voris with an IOU. How crazy is that? But don't worry, I'll take Voris the money, along with a Hoops for Heart 2006 t-shirt, pamphlets about heart disease, and some heart-healthy snacks, on Wednesday when I intern again. Good day at the AHA? I'd say so.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What would I do with $56 Million dollars?

Money is plentiful for those who understand the simple laws which govern its acquisition. ~George Clason

My friend at From Chaos Comes Happiness asked one of my favorite questions - "What would you do if you won $56 million dollars in the lottery? Oo La La... that's a tricky question, but I wanted to seriously consider it.

What WOULD I do with $56 million dollars. Please bare with me, I am not a mathematician, so this could get a little dicey.

-      20,000.00
= 55,980,000.00

That would make me debt free. Seriously. I hardly own anything. (No house, would just have to pay off the car and a student loan and some old medical bills.) That would still leave me with 55 million or so. Wowza.

I guess we should figure in the egyptian's immigration fees and citizenship fees coming up..
Another $3,000 or so.
- 3,000 = 55,977,000.

Then I suppose the nice thing to do is to pay off the debt my parents may or may not have and make sure they have enough to get by for now.

I will go with $1 million to them. Yes.. yes.. I know.. but let's get through some other things before we start dishing out the funds, alright?
That leaves me with 54,977,000. I can assure you, $1 million would keep them satisfied for now.

Then I would have to make sure my sister and Autumn were okay.. so I will also give them $1 million to make sure they are okay for right now. .. come on folks.. that's a lot of money for an unemployed single mom! That leaves me with $53,977,000.

Then I would need to send some to the egyptian family. $1 million American is enough to live off of the rest of their lives. So for now.. that will take care of their needs. $52, 977,000.

Now that my fam is okay.. time to PLAY.

I need to take care of the charity portion. VERY important. Okay..
1. St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Macon, Ga - $1 million
2. Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Hoover, Alabama - $1 million (with a portion of that going to the Youth Group for their own building.)
3. Girl Scouts of Middle Georgia - $1 million for girl programs and scholarships
4. Camp Martha Johnston - $1 million for operating expenses, scholarship for youth to camp, and for the amphitheater to be names after me. LOL (I used to teach drama there.)
5. Birmingham Humane Society - $500,000
6. American Heart Association - $2 million for research and education around hypertension
7. American Cancer Society - $2 million for research and education around cervical & ovarian cancer.
8. Amnesty International - $2 million - keep fighting the good fight!
9. Peta - $500,000
10. I would like to set up a foundation to protect against human trafficking. $5 million to kick it off.
11. $1 million to the Georgia College and State University Broadcast Journalism department
12. $1million to my high school - South West High School for scholarships for students interested in the Liberal Arts.
That leaves me with = 37,977,000.

(Should be a great tax write off!)

Now for ME!
I am buying myself a new car. A would like a convertiblee Black Jaguar. I totaled up the one I would like (fully loaded) on the website and it would only come to 97,475.

$37,879, 525 .

The egyptian wants a Shelby Mustang - sooo.. that's another $80,000 = 37,799,525.

Now let's purchase a home in my Home Town. I am sure I could get something decent around $1 million. That will take me to 36,799,525.
I always wanted a home in Savannah - I will invest $5 million. (Preferably a swanky historical home - 31,799,525.

We would have to build in Egypt - let's go crazy and spend another 5 million - 26,799,525.
I would like a loft in NYC - another 5 mil - 21,799,525.

How about a cute place in DC? Let's go 2 mil - 24,799,525.

Need to take a few trips - I will budget food, souvenirs, hotel, transportation, etc:
1. Greek Isles Cruise (3 weeks) - $10,000
2. Milan, Savona, Florence, Venice, Rome (1 month) -$20,000
3. France (1 month) - $25,000
4. England (1 month) - $15,000
5. Ireland (3 weeks) - $10,000
6. Spain (3 weeks) - $10,000
7. Germany, Austria, Poland (1 week) - $5,000
6. Croatia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine - (2 weeks) - $5,000
7. Russia - 1 week - $5,000
8. Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Finland (3weeks) - $15,000
9. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria (3 weeks) - $10,000
10. Morocco (2 weeks - SHOPPING lol - $20,000)
11. South Africa (2 weeks) $15,000
12. Australia (2 weeks) $10,000
13. Thailand, The Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, China (1 month) - $20,000
14. Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Argentina 1 month - $15,000
15. Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras (3 weeks) - $10,000
16. Barbados, Virgin Islands, Cayman, Jamaica, Haiti, Turks & Cacaos - (2 months) $20,000
17. Tahiti, Fiji - 2 weeks - $15,000
18. US: Visit each major city for a couple of days that interest me - cap out at $1 million - 1 year of travel.
Basically 2 or so years of travel = 1,250,000$

Clothing allowance- $5 million
Jewerly Allowance - $10 million

Now - I will divvy out about $100K to the following:
1. Telisa & Peyton
2. Lynn
3. Keli
4. Crystal & Hesham
5. Islam
6. Bridgett
7. Margaret
8. Pennapa
9. Chiara
10. Elena
11. Matt
12. Mina
13. Felipe
14. Julie & Doug
15. Tonya
16. Wendy
17. My ex in-laws
18. Father Cuddy
19. My family in Georgia (to be split evenly)
20. My family on my dad's side (to be split evenly)
+ -2,000,000
= 8, 549, 525.

I will invest the rest and save for a rainy day with the family.

Now I ask YOU! - what would YOU do with $56 million dollars.

(PS - I know.. some has to go to taxes.. but we can figure that one out later!)

We'll be comin' around the mountain

Slowly but surely - things are returning to normal around these parts! Yesterday was an absolutely AWESOME day. Refreshing, calm - simply splendid!

I woke up completely refreshed. I suppose I got a solid night's sleep. I had an excellent cup of coffee, wrote my little morning blog post, had a banana and caught up on some of the blogs I have missed out on this past week.

The egyptian awoke - was in a friendly mood (chemicals in check!) - and he proceeded to do what he always does (go on the computer) - and I made lunch.

Highlight of my day! I made an orzo salad with various herbs, balsamic vinegar and EVOO, with goat cheese and onions. I added a few strawberries on the side.

Then I soaked some cucumber wedges in vinegar and added a little pepper.

I topped everything off with a salad I made with: Lettuce, Cilantro, Goat cheese, EVOO, Balsamic Vinegar, Black Pepper, Sweet Banana Peppers, and Vidalia Onions (don't forget the Parmesan Croutons!)

That afternoon the egyptian and I enjoyed a movie - "Salt." Was actually pretty good. Much easier on the mind than "Inception." Though I think everyone should see that one!
We split a small butter popcorn and diet coke. (We ended up only eating half a bag. Not bad... )

Last night he took a looooong nap, while I watched 3 movies back to back: "Hitch", "The Holiday", and "You, Me & Dupree."

Dinner - Another Salad.

Finally the egyptian awoke - and he heads right back to the computer. I decide I want to get out of the house - so at 10pm - I take off for Starbucks, and yes.. I got a Caramel Macchiato. Came back and blogged some more. I even spent a little time looking at old 80's fashion videos on YouTube. Gave me a laugh.

Sounds boring.. right? Nope - was completely relaxing. Granted I did not drift off to sleep until 2am.. but it was nice to just savor the day.

The thing is - I have got to find ways to fill my time. This IS our life now. We have a routine. That's why I am sooo desperate to start learning some of those folk crafts, or heading back to dance class, or joining a gym (again).. or volunteering SOMEWHERE.

Luckily for me, the whole Youth Group thing is about to gear back up. School will soon begin, and that means Wednesday and Sunday nights will be busy. I must get back to this. I have not gone to mass in months. Seriously. I have got to get back to this, also. I was given an offer with YMCA - no sign up fee, and half off the monthly membership fee. Pretty cool?
I might do that for all of the classes. I will have a city wide Y membership and they are amazing here. I remember, back at home - completely unimpressive. Here? FANTASTIC!
Check them out here. Perhaps I can run over to my personal trainer friend and do weights/sculpting with him a few days a week. But I am SUCH a "class" girl. They offer an amazing amount of classes. I will probably use the Downtown Branch and the Vestavia one the most.

That's the beauty and the pain of having no other responsibilities. You have LOTS of time. This is both excellent and taxing. I know - my mommy friends out there are probably thinking I have lost my mind complaining about having too much time on my hands.. but.. it's true. There comes a time when you can only relax so much! Ha! - don't kill me for saying that.

Now that I have eaten my breakfast ..
It is time for me to head back to my book.
What's next? Who knows... any suggestions?

PS - What have you done for yourself this weekend? How have you recharged your battery?

Peace out!

*** The breakfast was a small amount of blue berries, a few strawberries, two Georgia peaches, and plain greek yogurt mixed with dill and blue cheese.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


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