Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McDonald's McCafe

Have you McTried these yet? I know, I know... you're thinking "it's McDonald's...how good could it be?"
Well, actually, pretty McGood! And if you've always McWanted to try a cappuccino but didn't want to spend the $5.00 it would cost you at Starbucks, here's your McOpportunity!
They offer both iced and frothy, hot McCafes; lattes and cappuccinos to be exact.
Now, if you're simply McHooked on the Starbucks stigma, you won't be interested in what the golden arches has to offer. But if you really are drinking the fancy McBeverage because you honestly do like it, do yourself a McFavor and give this a try. You may be willing to switch your brand of McPoison AND save $2.50 a pop!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mother Daughter Luncheon

It became an annual event at Antioch Christian Church about 5 years ago. On the last Saturday in September every year the Ladies Aid Society hosts a mother-daughter luncheon for the women in our community. This year I'm proud to say that we had 65 guests for lunch! Keep in mind, people, my church only has 47 members! Ha!

This is one of my most favorite events at my little country church because I am a HUGE fan of women in general. But I'm especially fond of the mothers in my church and my 'hood. I love bringing these women together and just marveling at the children they've raised and the grandchildren they're making memories with. You can see the love in the room...

And I am especially giddy when my own mother and daughter get to attend! Living 4-5 hours away makes for special planning to get here. And I respect that they both have schedules to keep, husbands and homes to care for and, quite frankly, it costs a lot of money to travel anywhere these days. Which is why my heart was so full this weekend because I got to have them both with me! We didn't think my mom would make it for a number of reasons but she (and my father) so unselfishly got up Saturday morning at 3:30 and made the treck to NC simply so that my mom could have lunch with me at noon... Believe me, I never doubt how much my mom loves me...

I thought I'd share a few pics from the day...

Here's little Bran with her proud mama!!! Isn't she beautiful?

And here we are! That little schtoogy of mine, my mama and me! Obviously, I got the Robinson (my dad) genes - tall, "monkey arms", wide nose and big feet - and I'm proud of all of it!!

After dinner Saturday night, my mom, dad, Bran and I went to The General Store Cafe in Pittsboro to enjoy the music of a local band called "Rootzie". That's me and Bran up there!

I had a wonderful weekend and I am one lucky girl.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What Were The Chances??!!

Yesterday, I played 1/2 day hookey from work so that I could spend the morning and afternoon with my buds, Cathy & Linda. I've shared with you before how we try to get together about once a month to simply catch up and enjoy each other's company. We met early, about 9:00 AM, had a cup of coffee/tea and something sweet. Then we headed over to Fuquay-Varina, a small "duo" town with quaint, independent shops and restaurants. We chose FV because Cathy has a booth at the Brew 'n Browse and we wanted to check out her new little shop (okay, I'm an idgit - had the camera in the car the entire time and didn't snap one photo of the entire day's events!!).

We strolled into the wind, literally, as we were facing the Nor' Easter setting it's sights on Carolina! "Rain, sleet, snow and Nor' Easters simply can't keep women from their goal - shopping"!

We blew ourselves into a great antique shop. It was full of furniture, pottery, clocks, knick-knacks, primitives, estate jewelry and CHINA!! We started digging...

And look what we found (above)! A sweet little Homer Laughlin platter. Now, there was another one exactly like it in perfect condition for $15.00. But this little wounded veteran spoke to me, especially with a price tag of $2.00 and a date stamp of 1937, my oldest HL piece to date. I brought him home and carefully washed him cleaned and set him aside until I decided where he'd take up residence here in the house.

I came downstairs this morning and thought I'd place him in the wall cabinet in the dining room next to the bowl Michael's Aunt Wilma gave me this past July (here she is pictured above). Notice anything?

THEY MATCH!!!! It's the same pattern!!! I think Cathy called it "fluffy rose". It doesn't take much to make me happy or make my day - and this little happenstance just made an already good Friday GREAT!!!

How 'bout that, Aunt Wilma!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thankful (Anniversary) Thursday

Another year - together. Isn't that so much to be thankful for?

Today is Bran's and JC's 7th wedding anniversary. Isn't there some quirky sentiment/omen/hoop-la about a 7 year itch? If so, the kids have made it and are working on surpassing it and looking ahead to a bright future together.

A dear, old friend of mine once told me "Joyce, there's a lid for every pot". Isn't that priceless? JC is Brandi's lid...and they're a perfect fit.

God knows Brandi Lee is my truest joy, my solace and what I am most thankful for in this life of mine. But I'm also thankful for the love JC gives Bran unconditionally; for treasuring her and respecting her as his wife and partner. I'm thankful for the morals and values Jon and Margie (JC's parents) instilled in JC. I'm thankful for the love they have for - and show - my daughter.

I'm simply thankful for their happiness - together.

Happy Anniversary little people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My cup runneth over...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Don't You Know You're Beautiful?"

Have you heard this song? You'll find it being played on your local country music radio station. It's by the American Idol contestant Kelli Pickler. Kelli's a local Carolina girl - she's from Albemarle (spelling?).

I love the song and the video that accompanies it. The message is simply that every young girl is beautiful, from the time we start losing our baby teeth, to greasy hair and acne, maybe we're lucky enough to throw braces into the mix...but all along, still beautiful. And then, we get old enough to let society creep into our thoughts. We see what we think are perfect women in the magazines we read, on the billboards we see, on the marketing posters in the windows of the retailers we shop in...and doubt sets in. "I'm too fat, I'm too skinny, my hair's too flat, my hair's too curly, my hips are too wide, my body looks like a boys"...

I commend Kelli for putting this song out and the writers for having compassion enough for young women to send the message loud and clear. I wish the world were brave enough and caring enough to see that every young girl is awesome and that each of them has something amazing to offer. Wow, what a dull, unenthralled place it would be if we were all the same.

I am blessed to have a number of amazing women in my life - each one different in so many ways and each one offering something incredible to me personally.

And every few weeks I get to spend a weekend with these two...

My daughter (that's Brandi on the left in each shot) and my neice, Christa, couldn't be any more different from one another. But both of these young women bring such joy and chaos and laughter and heartbreak and love and concern and pride and warmth into my life that I find them flawless in my eyes and heart. And it would be my prayer that they see themselves in the same light - they are perfect in our God's eye.

If there's an impressionable young woman in your life, be an encouragement to her. Try not to let society get in her way and cloud her vision to what's real. Make a fuss over the freckles on her face or the gap in her teeth - those are her "signatures", what makes her HER. And be certain to ask her "don't you know you're beautiful?"

And in the words of my dear, dear buddy Cathy...

"Here's to Good Women...
May we know them,
May we be them,
May we raise them"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Are They Supposed To Get This Big?

I mean, look at the SIZE of these things...

These mums have morphed into small bushes! And I simply can take no credit for it! I think Mike and I stuck these guys in the ground last Fall when they were finished decorating my front porch steps after Thanksgiving.

And they have really been this size all summer long! Of course, we had a "well-balanced" summer with the perfect amount of rain, sun and humidity.

And, well, let's face it, a few pounds of homemade kitty fertilizer (if you know what I mean) are working wonders!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaaaaacccccccckkkkkkkkk!!!!!!

...she says with cautious optimism...

You may have noticed that I've been hit and miss here of late. I know you'll find this hard to believe, those who are more in tune with my day-to-day life, but my Hughes Net Internet service has been out again. Yep, since September 5 to be exact. You remember, we had that little hurricane named Hannah? She BARELY skimmed central NC, just giving us what seemed like a terrible summer thunderstorm. But it was enough to destroy our satellite service. Actually, given our history with Hughes, I'm more inclined to believe it's the shoddy equipment provided by Hughes that can't withstand the elements rather than some rain and wind.

I won't go into the gory details of what the last two weeks have been like here in what should be the quiet country - you wouldn't be able to stomach it! Just let me say that my Saturday (yesterday) was completely devoted to Hughes and the technicians that had the pleasure of spending their day with me. We have now been "upgraded" with a new dish and another new modem. When the tech got me up and running she was beaming a huge smile and turned to me expecting the same. When she saw my expression (which said, "yeah, this is great...but for how long"?) it was like watching the air slowly leak from a child's balloon! I'm sorry, I just couldn't rally and share her enthusiasm.

Historically, this service lasts about three months and then something happens and I need technical support again. That puts us at around Christmas. Santa, if you're a blog reader and tap into my little on-line diary, the ONLY thing on my wish list this year is for Embarq (SPRINT) to build the hub on the corner near my house so that I can hook into a DSL line. I'm baking and freezing cookies for you beginning immediately!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Yes, Virginia, There Really IS a "Sarah Boo-Boo" "

... "but really her name is Joyce Mineer and she lives in Bear Creek, North Carolina".
When I was a kid and would act up, on occassion, my mother would look me square in the face and say, "Joyce Lynn, you're acting like Sarah Boo-Boo now straighten up!" Looking back, I think I sometimes misbehaved simply to hear my mom say "Sarah Boo-Boo" because it made me giggle!!!
I finally learned what that phrase meant when I became a mother myself and my daughter would throw the occassional tantrum, aka "acting like Sarah Boo-Boo".
But today that endearing term came directly to the forefront of my little brain. For today, as a grown, married woman, I'm ashamed to say that I pulled a "Sarah Boo-Boo". HOWEVER, in my own defense, I think I had the right because I relunctly agreed to a cortisone injection in the shoulder. YIKES!!!
My daughter can attest to this statement with complete certainty and no reservation: I do not handle medial issues for myself AT ALL. Have a medical professional tell me they have to draw blood and see what happens. Have the dentist mention needing a filling or, better yet, a tooth pulled and see what happens. Have a loved one enter the hospital for ANY reason, ask me to visit and see what happens. Start describing a medical procedure to me that you or someone you know had and see what happens. But tell me the best course of action at this point is a cortisone SHOT in the shoulder...it's all over...it's the ultimate...it's "Sarah Boo-Boo" in her rarest form right there in the examing room...with witnesses...and no family member to buffer me or explain my uncontrolable medical fears (stinnkin' husband at work...crazy daughter living a wonderful married life with her devoted husband...parents enjoying retirement...ugh!!! Thanks a lot team!!!). I lost it. I came undone. Fortunately, the folks at Triangle Orthopedic were comforting (I think they were simply amusing me - or amused AT me) and took their time with me. They even suggested I "get myself together and think it over for a few minutes". I thought to myself, if you leave me in this room alone, I'm dressed - maybe - and making a bee line for the front door immediately if not sooner. "No, no" I said. "If we're doing this, let's just get it over with. Elizabeth (she's the nurse), you just stay here and talk to me, okay?".
Oh my goodness! Of all the carryings ON people!!!!
...I'm still waiting to feel the needle...

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Did Not Forget - Thankful Thursday OR 9/11

I did not forget to post yesterday. I simply felt the need to be quiet and reflect.

While no member of my family was murdered in those horrific attacks, like all of you, I was touched and forever changed.

You may not know that the last 4 years I lived in Northern Virginia I worked for Westfield Concession Management Company. My role there was leasing retail space at Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport. At the same time, my son-in-law was serving his last year in the military based at Marine Headquarters, the Pentagon. On that fateful morning, I was at work at Dulles and JC was on duty next to the Pentagon.

I can remember that day as if I were experiencing it this very moment. I remember the intensity of the color of the sky, the bluest I've ever seen it. I remember what I wore to work that day. I remember desperately trying to remember when my husband's flight home from Texas was. I remember thinking we had to contact JC's family in Las Vegas and keep them updated as to his safety, once we found him ourselves. I remember an urge greater than I've ever had in my life to be surrounded by my entire family. And on the drive home, I remember thinking "did I pass that hijacker in the airport this morning? Did I say good morning to him?" I remember going back to work a few days later at National Airport and walking through a terminal void of passengers, pilots, waiting loved ones, ticketing agents, security personnel, drug sniffing dogs - no one. Instead, we found planes sitting helter-skelter all along the tarmac, as if a windstorm had blown them in and they were just left to rest where they landed. And I remember seeing food left on tables, ice melted in glasses that once held a celebratory cocktail, napkins folded quickly atop the plates. And deafening silence. Imagine that you and 3 other coworkers are the only souls in an entire airport terminal.

No, I didn't forget.

And as hard as the memories are for each of us, I'm grateful for the ability to remember every, single, tiny detail.

I couldn't have written this yesterday even if I'd wanted to...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricane - Schmurricane!

I have waited my entire adult life to see guys like these (I'm not sure what that says about me and my life, but - oh well) and hell would've had to have frozen over to have kept me from this show - that or a stinkin' hurricane!!!!!

As you may recall, last Friday night into Saturday morning Hurricane Hannah came roaring ashore the Carolina coast, Wilmington to be exact. It made it 2 hours inland to the Triangle area at about 3:30 in the morning last Saturday. I know and can confirm what the weather man saith 'cause I was pacing the house watching it happen. I was checking to make sure no tree branches had fallen on the cars. To see that my outside kitties were snug on the front porch. To make sure there was no water in the basement (we've never had water in the basement but with all that wind the likelihood is greater). Just to check out the homestead. OK - really...I was up pacing and worrying because we had tickets to see ZZ Top Saturday night and that stinkin' hurricane was messin' with my plans!!! And I had new pink cowboy boots to wear people! YES - PINK ones!!!!! You've heard me talk about my love of cowboy boots here. Wait 'till you get a load of these babies... They were a hit all their own at the show! Did I mention that a little band called Brooks & Dunn was also at this get together? Hence, the cowboy boots.

I am not a "rocker". But this was the music of my time, of my high school days, of the '80s. I put ZZ Top in the "back in the day" category with the likes of Queen, Journey, AC/DC, Boston, Lynard Skynard and the like. Ahhh, that right there was some fun...

The clouds parted, the sun shone bright, the humidity reached record levels, the show went on, we had a blast and made a memory... and I wore pink cowboy boots.

(you will NOT be disappointed)

(not a good angle but you feel the love)

(that's Kix Brooks, "Frank" and Ronnie Dunn - OMG)

(and the show hadn't even started yet)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm Thankful For Our Public Servants

Despite my partiality to public servants (I am the wife of a police officer), I think these men and women, much like teachers and nurses, are far under appreciated, disrespected by many and, yes, underpaid.

I wanted to pay homage to these people on this Thankful Thursday because I took particular note of the services they performed during the half marathon event last weekend.

You can't literally shut a city down, closing major thoroughfares on one of the busiest days of the year in one of the largest summer tourist beaches on the east coast without a LOT of cooperation and collaboration. On top of the typical "last hurrah for the summer" visitors, VA Beach was swarmed with the runners and their friends and families last weekend, making for a boiling pot.

I can assure you, the majority of the fire, rescue and police personnel that were there were working "off-duty". They volunteered to commit to working this event on what would normally be a scheduled day off for them.

I tip my hat to the supervisors of these fine organizations and the city leaders who assuredly put in countless hours of preparation coordinating this event and solidifying my safety and the safety of hundreds of thousands of others.

I have been witness to what it takes to pull an event like this together (Halloween on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill - UNC). Truly, the general public has no idea the effort that is put forth and I'm not convinced that they realize that the lives of these men and women are put on the line each and every day they walk out the door, working their regular shift or an "off-duty gig", so that I can freely come and go about my daily business or run a half marathon knowing they'd be there to catch me if I fell.

I am deeply proud of the service my husband offers to the Town of Chapel Hill and I am sincerely grateful for the Sheriff's Department here in our little town of Pittsboro. And while we're continually asked to say "thank you" to the soldiers we see in the airports or out and about, please don't forget to acknowledge your local law enforcement and fire and rescue workers as well. They are the ones keeping you safe here at home - everyday.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon (Part II)

As I mentioned in my previous post, Michael's co-worker, Danny Lloyd, ran the RnR Half Marathon, too. You may have noticed Danny's number, 5,394, vs our numbers, 10,546 and 16,139 respectfully. They actually do mean something. In a nutshell, it means Danny runs a lot faster than we do and, as such, starts in coral #5 vs our #10 and #16.

When we left Danny and his family after dinner on Friday night he wished Michael and I good luck and said, "I'll see you at the race". We didn't even think about the comment until later that evening. Michael laughingly said "what the heck was Danny thinking telling us he'd see us at the race? There's 20,000 runners PLUS all their supporters! Like we're really going to see Danny at the starting line". We hadn't been in the parking lot 30 minutes when he strolls over to us, says good morning and asks if we're all ready to start!!! Unbelievable!!! He found us in a crowd of tens of thousands! And I'm so glad he did. The visit helped relaxed me and offered more laughs and well wishes. You may be interested to know that Danny finished his race in less than 2 hours; approximately 1:54! Amazing!!! Go Danny! The bad guys in Chapel Hill don't stand a chance at running away from Office Lloyd!!!

A little flushed and over-heated but here we are at the finish line!! And vertical!!! I'm happy to say that Michael and I finished the race in good condition without needing any medical attention. We were very careful to train for this, hydrate ourselves heavily the days before and the day of and pace ourselves according to our abilities. I love setting and meeting these physical goals and I will push myself but not to the point of bodily harm/injury. I want to stay healthy for as long as possible!! I do plan, however, to train harder and better over the next 6 months to increase my speed/pace - but VERY carefully.
And when it's all said and done, this is what it's all about. That medal! That gift for your achievement. That payoff for all your hard work and that of your family and friends. And this is just a silly little trinket of sorts - I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for those Olympic athletes who win the gold!!

But I'm not going to sell Michael and I short - this is our gold medal of sorts and we earned it the hard way!!
As I wrap up this milestone in my life, I am sitting here thinking I wish I could've video taped the entire event from beginning to end. You know, EVERY person, EVERY home has a story. People will push themselves for a cause. People will share their stories with complete strangers. I believe God is instrumental in that because sometimes we're supposed to hear a person's story in order to receive a wake-up call ourselves. I saw runners this weekend running "in memory" of a loved one, someone they lost to breast cancer or heart disease or lung cancer or to a drunk driver. I saw runners pushing strollers with handicapped adolescent children in them; they were running because that child couldn't and they wanted us to recognize whatever ailment that child had. I saw runners in specially made wheelchair/bicycles. I saw a man giving everything he had to make that first monster hill in his wheel-bike...and a group of us runners hanging back yelling and clapping and encouraging him to pump harder - so desperately wanting to get behind him and push but knowing we couldn't - and that really he wouldn't want us to. We would have to simply will him up that hill. For a brief moment, I cried for that man. I cried because I could run and he couldn't. I cried for him because at that moment it was harder for him than me and I could do nothing to help him. And then I realized...he's trained for this event in HIS way just like I did in my way. He obviously laid out a plan and a program and stuck to it, much like I assume his day-to-day life must be like. I never saw that man again and he will never know the impact he had on me that morning or that he will have on me throughout the remainder of my life.
I don't think I have a "story", at least not one like that man. But you know, I so desperately am trying to live a Christ-like/pleasing life because I don't know who's watching me or listening to me or reading my life's story, no matter how bland it might be. But I have to be certain that my life story is a good, clean read because maybe, just maybe, in some small, teeny way I just might be an inspiration myself to someone...

Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon (Part 1 of ??)

FYI...this will be at least a two-part entry because I have lots to talk about and too many pictures to feature in one post. So, here we go!

Well, I'm not sure how many of these "races" I'll be able to participate in both physically and mentally but I don't think I'll ever get tired of the feeling of accomplishment when I cross the finish line.

Michael and I ran in the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA on Sunday morning. The RnR Half Marathon is a series of races throughout the country. They are hosted in Nashville, San Diego, Virginia Beach and a number of other cities. The premise is that there is a band at almost every mile marker. I cannot tell you how much easier that made it for me to make it to the next mile marker. And it's really a weekend event, with people arriving as early as Friday and staying through Labor Day. We did just that - and it gave us time to visit with Bran and JC!

After arriving in VA Beach Friday night and getting settled at the kids' house, we headed to Red Robin for dinner. Mike actually had a co-worker running in the race, too, so Danny and his wife and baby girl joined us at the restaurant. It was a great time of encouragement, laughter and fellowship.

We were up early Saturday morning so that Michael could make his deep tissue massage appointment at some holistic house that JC recommended. I passed on this treat as I'm not a big fan of people I don't know touching me! However, sitting here this morning and feeling a little tight shall we say, I think I'd pay hefty for a stranger to massage my aching muscles!! ANYWAY, Bran and I treated ourselves to a high calorie Starbucks somethin'-somethin' while we waited for Michael (JC had to work...). I really wish I had the camera with me when we picked him up!! He looked like he'd been smoking something VERY illegal, and a lot of it, or like he'd just come out of some great analgesic!

The three of us then headed to the convention center where we picked up our race packets, including our bibs and chips for our shoes for Michael and me. We spent hours scouring the vendors' booths and spending all the money we'd saved up for the trip!! We met our objective! We got some great tee shirts, running gear and Bran and I each got a beautiful necklace charm engraved with the events name and date. I also treated myself to a "13.1" charm, which I'm wearing proudly! The rest of the day consisted of a few more errands and eating.

Later that night, we headed to the boardwalk for more food and music! We loaded up on carbs to fuel ourselves for the next day.
This was a great Reggae band that we stopped and listened to on the beach. We spotted them later along the race course the next day.

Michael and I were being silly when we spotted this "heads up" sign on Atlantic Ave. Hmm...he doesn't look very happy at the thought of road closures, does he? Ha! It was an early night for us because we were to be up at 4:30 AM on Sunday - race day. The event starts promptly at 7:00 AM and when dealing with a crowd of 20,000 + people, you want to give yourself ample time!! The morning went off without a hitch and we were out the door at 5:30 AM.

Here's the official race course shown above. It really was a beautiful course, especially through some wooded areas through Camp Pendleton.

And here is the starting line and announcers.

This is a shot of Michael and me just before we made our way to our corral.

Here we are getting wired up with our own music/iPods for the periods in between the live bands.

And here's our biggest, little fan!!! Brandi Lee is such a trooper! She's there for us, cheering us on, snapping pictures, holding firm while we use her as support so that we can stretch, putting us up in her home, carpooling us all over Virginia Beach, schlepping around our gym bags so that we have clean clothes and dry shoes when the race is over and always, always waiting for us at the finish line with that beautiful smile and warm hug... She probably doesn't even realize that I start looking for her in the crowd there toward the end and literally running to finish so that I can see that sweet face and get that congratulatory hug. And isn't it amazing how we find our loved-ones in a crowd of tens of thousands of people??? That's love and determination and God putting us where we need to be at the right time, I'm sure!