Thursday, April 28, 2011

"A dark & stormy night" has a new meaning

Let me begin by saying that we were extremely fortunate last night. Our house had no damage, nor did my car, or even my plants outside. Our garbage cans were blown over, but that was it. I know how lucky we were at our house.

The storms that moved through the South last night were terrible. The devastation in Alabama is just heartbreaking! I see the coverage and realize how blessed we were last night to be spared. Sure, we were nervous and frightened and anxious, but today we are ALIVE. We have electricity, we could cook our meals and take showers. Our home is intact, we are all safe.

Driving to work today I could see signs of the storm. There were many tornadoes in the area; one is suspected to have touched down near Sophie's babysitter's house.  This morning, one lane of a road on the way to her house was closed because of flooding. I could see where other sections of the road had been flooded. I couldn't stop in traffic to take pictures, but some areas were pretty bad.

My husband has been away all week. I was worried about being alone with the girls in case of an emergency, he was worried about being a couple states away from us while it was going on. Emma spoke with her best friend during a break in the storm, and learned the hail had broken a window of their house. But they were all ok. That is the important part - everyone we talked to is ok.

When the second wave of storm cells hit (instead of one big storm, there were several small, fast-moving supercells, one after the other), Emma started gathering an emergency kit. She had blankets, books, her Nintendo DS, nail polish. I took the chance to teach her what to gather in case of tornado, and to put it in the bathroom in the center of the house. She loaded it up with diapers for Sophie, wipes, and ointment, our purses and the diaper bag, insulin and a needle for the cat, cat food and dog food, a Bible, and a framed picture of her Daddy.

Since we were more concerned about staying safe in the storm (and I was wondering why our town does not have tornado sirens?) I did not think to take pictures during the storm itself. Thankfully, many others did. I leave you with some of those pictures.

(All photos taken from either or

This was a house, in the town where I grew up and my parents still live. It was blown ACROSS the road.


This is part of an Alabama phone book, storm debris found in East Tennessee

This intersection leads to a hospital. Scary thought.

Near the same area.

One of the storm cells

Hail! It's a miracle my car was not damaged at all.

Great picture of downtown Knoxville

I've read many tales like this on Facebook and Twitter today.

Here is an article from the Knoxville News Sentinel about last night's storms. Both the town where I grew up and where I now live are mentioned by name. Oddly enough, in 1993 we had a storm move through and tornadoes hit both towns then, too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A day of blessings

Some days, it is easy to see our blessings.

The morning began with a brief visit with our next-door neighbors. With our busy schedules, they hadn't seen Sophie since she started walking. They happened to be outside as S and I were leaving for the day, and we chatted for a few minutes. We reminisced about how our other children were so small when we moved in (their youngest son is E's age, and we bought  our houses the same summer). In fact, S is now the age E was when we bought the house! Time goes so quickly. They were doing yard work before it got too hot, and I mentioned I was planning to finish mowing our yard when I got home from work, since my husband was not able to finish it all over the weekend. It was a holiday, after all, and we weren't home much.

E was at home, since she was out of school for Easter. She called me about 15 minutes later to let me know that the husband from next door was finishing our yard for us! He knew my husband was out of town this week from our earlier conversation and wanted to help out! E told me she had taken him a glass of lemonade and thanked him, and later she made cupcakes and took half of them next door as another thank you. We truly do have wonderful neighbors.

Then on the evening commute home yesterday, the skies suddenly changed from bright and sunny with a few fluffy white clouds to dark and windy and then a torrential downpour! We had thunder and lightning and even hail on the way home. It was a fast-moving storm, though, and was over by the time S and I made it home. As I turned a corner on the way home, though, I saw such a large, bright rainbow against the gray sky. It was beautiful! So many people had major damage, from the wind or the hail, and over 40,000 people lost power for hours, but we were very lucky. No damage and E said power was only out for a few minutes.

E and I ended our evening by working out for a while. She has been having back pain lately, so we're trying to strengthen her back and abdominal muscles to see if that helps; if not, she already has a doctor's appointment next week for her checkup and we will discuss it with her doctor then. She was a bit amazed that I seem to be in better shape than she is! We are trying again tonight. I think she wants to redeem herself.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Don't say gay" bill passed the Senate - I wish this was a joke

Last week, our relatively quiet state made national news when the Senate passed SB49, commonly referred to the "Don't say gay" bill. Senator Stacy Campfield of Knoxville introduced the bill, after failing six times as a member of the House of Representatives. This bill makes it illegal for any mention of anything other than heterosexuality to be mentioned in public schools in grades K-8.

On the surface, this doesn't seem like such a big deal. Who wants teachers to talk to kindergartners about sexuality period? Well, they don't. My oldest daughter attends a Tennessee public school, and they didn't have any discussions of sexual health until sixth grade. When I attended a Tennessee public school, it was seventh grade. Boys and girls are divided up, and the health teachers (women with girls, men with boys) discussed the basics of reproduction, what happens, things like that. Actually, nothing about "sex" or sexuality at all. I think the only mention was something along the lines of 'the sperm is introduced into the vagina.' The details are left up to the parents. My daughter informed me her class didn't even get that far along in the discussion.

I really don't think there is a widespread problem of teachers in our schools discussing sex, whether it's heterosexuality, homosexuality, or anything else, with their students. This bill is simply another example of Mr Campfield trying to make a name for himself and endear himself to his ultra-conservative supporters who, in my mind, would prefer to live in a time where dancing was immoral and women were not allowed out without an escort - and if they happened to be stuck outside after dark with a man, were forced to marry him out of "propriety."

We have a different reality, though. What about children of gay parents? Or who are themselves gay? If the legislation does somehow make it into law, what will happen to them? Many children who are dealing with the confusion turn to trusted teachers for help - but what will happen when the teachers are forbidden to tell them they are ok, and point them in the direction of organizations who can help them? And the children with two moms or two dads, who are perfectly healthy and happy and well-cared for - this just sends a not-so-subtle message that their families are wrong somehow.

Do we really want our state to draw attention for this? We, as a whole, have been bashed for a week now, and are made to look like backwards idiots, just because this one man and five others (it passed with a 6-3 vote) are putting their own careers ahead of the greater good. As one celebrity pointed out (validly) on Twitter, in Tennessee it is perfectly acceptable to bully a gay teen and call him or her derogatory names and slurs, but it would be illegal to show a gay teen where to get support and help.

And what is really ironic, when you consider that? The last line of the bill, which makes up the entirety of Section 2:
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Oh, please.

You can read an article about this bill in the Knoxville News Sentinel here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's coloriffic!

*sigh* Yes, I know, another meme... I have a "serious" post brewing, but it's not ready to come out and play yet. And this was interesting! Apparently different colors represent different aspects of our personalities. Or not, either way it was fun.

Angry Red

1. Are you currently mad at someone?

2. Which of your family members has the worst temper?
That is a tough one. Probably my husband, although we all have tempers.

3. Have you ever thrown something at anyone?

4. Is anyone mad at you?
Not that I know of!

5. Are you usually mad?
No. It really takes a lot to get me mad, then I don't stay that way for long.

6. When you're mad do you prefer to stare angrily or yell?
I don't like confrontation.

Exciting Orange

1. Has anyone ever thrown a surprise party for you?
Yes, and it was fabulous!

2. What event is coming up that you're most excited about?
I can't think of one right now! Nothing coming up soon anyway

3. If you won a million dollars, what would be your first thought?

4. If you could have anything right now what would it be?
A nice nap. I'm so tired today!

Yellow Belly Self

1. Name: Christine

2. Birthday: September

3. What's your main goal in life?
To have mattered.

4. Do you want to have children?
I have two, that is enough.

5. When do you want to die?
When I am too old to go on any more

Opinionated Green

1. Are you against gay marriage?

2. Lower the drinking age?

3. Capital Punishment?

4. Abortion?

Lovely Blue

1. Do you love someone?

2. Do you believe in love at first sight?

3. Do you believe in love?

Purple Query

Q: How glasses of water did you have today?
A: None yet

Q: What color are your socks?
A: I'm not wearing any

Q: Name one thing that you do everyday?
A: Breathe

Q: How much cash do you have on you right now?
A: Six dollars I think.

Q: Are you for or against Hillary?
A: Indifferent.

Q: Look to your left. What's there?
A: a wall

Q: What's the last piece of clothing you borrowed?
A: My daughter's shoes.

Q: What website(s) do you visit the most?
A: Facebook

Q: Do you have plants in your room?
A: Not in my room, but outside my house on the steps

Q: Does anything hurt on your body right now?
A: Not at the moment, which is a small miracle!

Q: Do you own a picture phone?
A: Yes

Last but not Least, Pink

1. Person you saw: Random people in the halls

2. Person you sent a text message to: Dana

3. Movie watched in cinema: You Again

4. Song you listened to: I can't remember. It was yesterday

5. Person you talked on the phone with: Coworker

6. What are you doing right now?

7. What are you doing tonight?
The usual - make dinner, feed baby, clean up, bathe baby, watch a little TV and hope to stay awake!

8. What are you going to eat?
Spaghetti tonight.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Alphabet soup

I read this on a Twitter friend's new blog (read it here) and thought it was a fun and informative read, and of course I had to try it, too.
Enjoy :)

A – Age: 32
B – Bed size:Queen. I'd like a larger one, but we'd need a larger room first.
C – Chore you hate: Mopping, putting away laundry (I'm sure my husband is shocked by this one).
D – Dogs: We have two. Tucker is a Pointer mix, Daisy is a Corgi mix
E – Essential start to your day item: snooze button (only partially kidding) Chocolate milk, breakfast at some point
F – Favorite color: red
G – Gold or Silver: Gold
H – Height: 5’11″
I – Instruments you play: I took piano lessons for a long time, but I'd need a LOT of practice before I played again!
J – Job Title: Hospital Transport Liaison. Sounds fancy, huh?
K – Kid(s): Two beautiful redheads, Emma and Sophie
L – Live: Beautiful East Tennessee
M – Mom’s name: Martha
N – Nicknames: Mommy
O – Overnight hospital stay other than birth:  none
P – Pet Peeve: intolerance, bigotry, small-mindedness, stupidity, slow drivers
Q – Quote from a movie:I can't pick one, so here is a whole page of quotes from my favourite movie. They all make me laugh so hard.
R – Right or left handed: Right
S – Siblings: No biological siblings, but I have "sisters of the heart"
T – Time you wake up: too early
U- Underwear: What about it? Must be more specific there ;)
V – Vegetable you dislike: tomatoes! Icky, smelly things... and peppers
W – What makes me run late: procrastination
X – X-rays: so many! teeth, wrist, elbow, lungs, many of my insides
Y – Yummy food you make: Apparently Crack Roast is delicious (obviously I don't use actual crack, but they say it's so yummy and addictive I must put crack in the sauce, which we now call crack sauce). It's a teriyaki pork roast
Z – Zoo animals: I love the otters.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why I love our town

We bought our house nearly 12 years ago. When we picked this town, I didn't know much about it, but the location was ideal. I quickly fell in love with the area and am still happy we live here.

This is why:

One of our parks

THIS is a big snow

Love this lake!

In another park

Autumn is gorgeous here

Ok, so this isn't our town, but I drive by this every day going to work.

Where else can you see Columbus's ships when you go to lunch? 
Yet another park, also beside the lake

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dexter vs Dexter, a review of sorts

(Warning: this WILL contain spoilers about the first book and possibly the series, if you haven't seen it and plan on watching.)

I love Dexter.

I was a bit late to the show, I admit. But one day I began watching the first season on my iPhone (Netflix instant viewing - love it!) out of curiosity and boredom, and was hooked. Line and sinker. I quickly went through the first two seasons (not being confined to my home was a boost to the speed factor) then bumped the discs for seasons 3 and 4 to the top of our queue, set the DVR to record season 5, which was starting soon. Of course, all that insta-Dexter makes it SO hard to wait until the next season comes out.

I learned early on that the series was based on a book, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, which is the first in a series of books about the character. For Christmas, my husband gave me two of the books. I was so excited, since I love reading. He didn't give me the first book, though, but the second and third. I had read earlier (I think on Twitter) that the first book and the first season of the show were extremely similar, so I didn't worry about it and picked up the second book and dove in.

On the second page, I find out how different they are - LaGuerta was killed in the first book! She is in all seasons of the show! So I did what any sane person would do - closed the book again, and bought the first book.

I read the book this week, and there are HUGE differences! Granted, a lot had to be added to stretch one novel into an entire season of a show, but I almost feel like the book left some things out! I still loved it, though, and between the story differences and the time since I watched the first season of the show, it was not at all like rereading anything. It was more like reading a new story about familiar characters.

I am interested to see how the big differences play out in the future novels, though. For one thing, the Ice Truck Killer (Dexter's brother) escapes at the end of the novel. The second season dealt a lot with Dexter's guilt over killing his brother, finding out about his family before he was adopted, and Harry's keeping it from him.  Another huge difference? Deb (his adoptive sister) learns his secret at the end of the book and accepts it. Since that was literally the last pages, I cannot WAIT to get into the second book and see what direction that takes.

As I mentioned earlier, LaGuerta was killed at the end of this book. It is she, and not Doakes, who follows Dexter to the shipping container, and Brian was there with Deb, not at their old house. There is no engagement to Deb, he is not portraying a doctor named Rudy, as yet no mystery biological father leaving Dexter a house in his will. Also, no dramatic breakdown at the chainsaw crime scene; in fact, that particular crime only gets a couple lines in the book and does not relate at all to what happened to their mother!

I really think the series handled the whole "Surprise, you have a brother and he's a serial killer also" angle MUCH better than the book, but I suppose that is because the series had so much more time to work with. The relationship between Dexter and Deb is the same, though, and for that I'm glad. It is such a huge part of the series to me.

Another surprise? The book is shockingly NOT graphic at all. Each murder act, crime scene, and the two sexual acts (remember, this was the beginning of his relationship with Rita) are glossed over pretty quickly.  Actually, the sex scenes are just implied. No graphic description of the kills. And since it's the Ice Truck Killer, there isn't any blood. Network TV is more graphic than this book.

I really enjoyed it, though, and am looking forward to reading the next one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When the teacher is the bully

Imagine this:
Your five year old is at school, in his kindergarten class. His desk is a bit messy. The teacher decides to teach him a lesson by telling his classmates to circle him, calling him a pig, oinking at him, and taunting him as he stood there crying. Can you imagine the humiliation that would cause him?

And that exact scenario happened to a child in a neighboring county last month. (Story here) The teacher, who had 38 years experience, claimed she was tired of his messiness and instructed the children to torment their classmate. Luckily, another teacher walked into the room while it was going on and immediately reported it to the principal. The teacher's punishment? A one-day suspension.

That's all - one day off, an apology to her class, and then back to work.

As someone who was bullied as a child, my heart goes out to that poor boy. No five year old deserves that kind of treatment, especially under the leadership of someone he is told he can trust to look out for him! How will this incident affect his school career? Will he now see teachers as the enemy? Will he become a target for future bullying? (Not a stretch - think back to how elementary kids behave. I can just imagine his classmates using this incident to keep tormenting him.) Will this overshadow any anti-bullying lessons the kids will be taught later?

I truly believe that children pick up cues from their teacher on how to treat other children. I had a teacher that for some reason didn't like me (not in the "she doesn't like me" excuse for bad grades, etc, but documented incidents toward me in her file). She would single me out for the silliest of reasons - I had to write sentences (punishment of the time) because my gum popped as I was chewing. I was sent to the principal because my handwriting was messy (she also tried to change the way I held a pencil, forcing me to write differently). She would ridicule my questions in front of the class. And guess what grade the bullying from my classmates started? That year. I have no doubt the two are related.

I truly hope for the best for this child. Maybe now that this is out in the open something good will come out of it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How is this not prostitution?

The afternoon radio show I listen to was discussing online dating sites this evening. One of the sites they mentioned was - a site where men bid on dates with women. The tagline is "Everyone has a price." Men log in as "the generous" and women log in as "the attractive."

For the Generous
You have high standards and you won't settle for less. You're willing to pay to date beautiful, gorgeous or sexy people. For the right price, is the only dating website that guarantees you will date more attractive people than you can handle.
Sounds like chick shopping to me.

For the Attractive

No matter what you're seeking, finding that perfect relationship takes time. However, dating doesn't have to be a waste of time. If you're beautiful, we are the only dating site that guarantees you will get paid while you spend time meeting fun and generous people.

Ummm... yeah.

On the home page, there are profile pictures on each side - the generous and the attractive. Care to guess how many on the "attractive" side are naked? Several.

So how is this NOT prostitution? I guess they cover themselves (so to speak) the same way escort businesses do - the women are paid for "companionship" and not necessarily for sex.

But it sure is implied.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Growing up

This weekend, my oldest daughter will turn 13. I still can't believe it. I'm not old enough to be the mother of a teenager! It is amazing to watch her grow and mature. In so many ways, she doesn't seem to need me. But then again, in so many more ways, she does.

Her birthday weekend has gotten off to a rough start, though. Her beloved gerbil, Sparky, has an injury. We came home tonight and she found him bleeding in his cage. We caught him, took him to the bathroom, and I washed his belly (where the bleeding was coming from) thinking it was just a scrape he had gotten, but it's worse. I am not quite sure what the problem is, but it's almost like a large tumor or hernia or something - a penny-sized lump coming out of his belly. That is what is bleeding.

I washed him, and we applied Neosporin, and she cleaned his cage thoroughly and changed his bedding so he'd have a clean environment. On the positive side, he isn't acting sick or injured. He still scampers and runs around his cage, just like normal. We're hoping it is something that will heal and he will be around longer, but it doesn't look good. She is taking it very hard. She cried so hard tonight - big, heart-wrenching sobs that just broke my heart.

It's all part of growing up, isn't it? The only way to learn how to deal with loss is to experience loss, but I wish so much I could protect her from the loss. It was all I could do to not promise her a new gerbil after he goes. That would first make her cry even harder, and look like I was telling her he was easily replaced, but then she'd hold me to it once the initial pain subsided.

Poor kid. I wish there was some way I could make this easier for her. Even if he ends up being fine for now, he's an old gerbil (for a gerbil). And the anxiety, the not knowing, is torturous for her. I hope the rest of her birthday weekend is better for her.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Because it's a rainy day

...and I'm in need of inspiration. Here is a fun survey-type post that I found courtesy of Bing (although Binging sounds somehow dirtier than Googling).  Enjoy!

The "Me" survey

1. What time did you get up this morning?
I'm really not sure. Not as early as I was planning, because Miss S woke up and needed a morning cuddle and milk time <3

2. Diamonds or pearls?
Both, preferably together in something gorgeous and sparkly

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Sex and the City 2 I think? No, it was You Again. Daughter-date with E.

4. What's your favorite TV show?
House and Bones

5. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
scrambled eggs and toast. I LOVE that I can get "real" food from Krystal on my way to work!

6. What's your favorite cuisine?
It really varies by my mood... can't go wrong with pasta, though

7. What foods do you dislike?
Not a meat fan. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, olives, and pimento.

8. What is your favorite chip flavor?
Not a big chip eater... barbecue I guess

9. What's your favorite CD at the moment?
who listens to CDs anymore? iPod on shuffle

10. What kind of car do you drive?
maroon Mitsubishi Mirage. Love the alliteration there ;)

11. Favorite sandwich?
from a restaurant: club sandwich from Time Warp Tea Room. Homemade: turkey, sharp cheddar, lettuce, crispy bacon

12. What characteristics do you despise?
Intolerance, stupidity, ignorance

13. What is your favorite type of clothing?
I love clothes...

14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation.Where?
Europe, Brasil

15. What color is your bathroom?
one is ivory with maple cabinetry, the other is black, white, and grey

16. Favorite brand of clothing?
New York and Co, Worthington

17. Where would you retire to?
Someplace relaxing and beautiful

18. Favorite time of the day?
Weekend mornings, weekday evenings

19. What was your most memorable birthday?
I've had a lot of memorable ones

20. Where were you born?
Panama City, FL

21. Favorite sport to watch?
I'm SO not a sports fan! Although I do enjoy hockey live.

24. What fabric detergent do you use?
the bottle says All Free & Clear, but inside is the Target version ;) (It didn't make sense to throw out the handy push-button spout bottle!)

25. Were you named after anyone?
both my grandmothers

26. Do you wish on stars?

27. When did you last cry?
Last week watching Army Wives, funeral scene.

28. Do you like your handwriting?
I don't like or dislike it. It just is. It has changed since I had wrist surgery 2 years ago, though.

29. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you?
Of course! I'm awesome ;)

30. Are you a daredevil?
Not even close.

31. Do looks matter?

32. How do you release anger?
Release? What's that??

34. What were your favorite toys as a child?
Barbies, blocks, my dollhouse, my car/plane/truck/helicopter, books

35. What class in High School was totally useless?

37 Favorite movies?
The Whole Nine Yards, Rent

38. What are your nicknames?
My mom calls me Jen.

39. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

40. Do you think that you are strong?

41. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
chocolate, cherry, chocolate chip mint, cookie dough, peach, coffee, caramel, vanilla, sweet cream....

42. What are your favorite colors?

43. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
My body

44. Who do you miss the most?
my grandmother

46 What color pants are you wearing?

47. Last thing you ate?
See breakfast above

48. Favorite song?
Born This Way. First song that's ever summed up my whole philosophy so catchily.

49. If you were a CRAYON what color would you be?
I hate this question. I don't know, what color do YOU think I'd be?

50. Last person you talked to on the phone?
My mom

51. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?

52. Favorite drink?
Sweet tea. I'm a true southerner.

53. Do you wear contacts?
yes, since I was 13

54. Favorite day of the year?
Christmas day

55. Endings happy or sad?

56. Winter/summer?
Summer of course

57. Hugs OR Kisses?
Both, please.

58. What is Your Favorite Dessert?
ice cream :) Cheesecake. cookies.

59. What Book(s) are you reading?
currently the second Nikki Heat book (yes, from Caste on ABC)

60. What is on your mouse pad?
my employer's logo

61. What Did You Watch Last night on TV?

62. Favorite Smells?
freshly-bathed baby, some flowers, baking, Italian food

63. Stones or Beatles?

64. What's the furthest you've been from home?

You might notice some numbers are missing. Those were the ridiculous "who will send this back? who will you send it to?" questions that are just assinine. I deleted them. You're welcome.