Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taking on The Challenge...

I remember when my sister started blogging.  Only I don't even know if it was called "blogging" then, I just knew she had an account on LiveJournal, and I would read what she wrote and I would read what her friends there wrote, and I was always amazed at how they were putting their lives "out there" for anyone to read.  I had an account, but I didn't really use it all that much -- I felt so exposed.

My, how times have changed.

Because November is my anniversary month, I'm going to try something here.  I'm kind of going to be using this as my journal as I go through the 30-Day Encouragement Challenge for Wives, which I originally found via Union28.  (You can read more about their company here.  And look at their shirts here.  And get me a gift certificate here.)    

(Hey, it was worth a shot.)

Anyway, here is the challenge issued.  For the next 30 days:

* You (I) can't say anything negative
about your (my) husband ...
to your (my) husband...or to anyone else, 
about your (my) husband.
* Say something that you (I) admire or appreciate 
about your (my) husband...
to your (my) husband...
and to someone else, about your (my) husband!

Those of you reading get to be my "someone else".


Now, if anyone else happens to decide to join in this challenge with me, I'd love to hear about it!  But if I am the cheese standing alone, it's all good.  I just figured putting my notes here would serve up some serious accountability and humility.  

The hardest part for me, actually, is the part where I say something I admire or appreciate about my husband TO my husband. It's that whole pride thing, where I don't want to make him get an inflated ego by paying him compliments.

Frankly, that's just stupid on my part.

The Husband right now has a wonderful job with employers that treat him right.  They actually tell him when he's doing a good job.  I've read some of the letters he's received -- and I've seen the effects.  He keeps doing good work.  He keeps putting his best foot forward.  It's probably easier to do when he knows that his work is being noticed and he knows that it is actually appreciated.

Gee, maybe that would work at the house, too...

Now, I know I am beyond blessed, because The Husband is just as hard a worker at home as he is anywhere else.  He's the best daddy in the world to our girls, and he's my best friend.  God seriously blessed me with this man.

So why don't I tell him more often?!

Enter the challenge.

I plan on forwarding him my posts each day.  And since just doing that feels like cheating, I'll be telling him to his face what I admire and/or appreciate about him.  Even if it means that he looks at me like I have two heads because we're not really the mushy-gushy types.

I would apologize if things are boring around here for the next month...

But I'm not really sorry.

And away we go....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A crazy little thing called making up my own mind...

That picture is of me being dragged up to the door of Hagrid's cabin, before going on the Hippogriff ride inside of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I went there without ever having even cracked the spine of one of the books.  Without ever watching one of the movies.

I know, it's some kind of travesty.

So why did I go?  For the love of Kearsie.  You see, she was visiting Florida and made plans to go there.  So Winn was going to join her, as well as our friend, Carrie.  As badly as I wanted to see Kearsie, I wasn't going to go because of the price of the tickets and the fact that it was Harry Potter and I really didn't think I would have a good time.  Then Carrie got us a super sweet deal on the tickets, and I decided to tag along.

Even though it was 103 MILLION degrees outside and I was hotter than fiendfyre, I had the best. time. ever.  It was so much fun!  The main ride? The Forbidden Journey?  If you've been on any Universal ride, it's like that, only amplify it by about a gazillion because it's so good.  But I have to say, you won't have as much fun as I did because when you go, you won't have Kearsie laughing throughout the entire ride.  And for your sake, I hope that you stop screaming at just the right moment so you don't have acromantula venom sprayed into your mouth.

Anyway.  It was all kinds of awesome.

I knew that I had some friends who were a little eensy teensy weensy bit ticked that I got to go without ever having experienced anything Harry Potter prior to that point.  Well, other than being in the room when The Husband watched the movies when they were on ABC Family.  (Which, at the time, made me less interested, because when I looked up, one of the first things I saw was Dolores Umbridge, who is scarier than an Oompa Loompa.)

I had never read the books because of one thing: witchcraft.  In other words, I drank the conservative Christian Kool-Aid.  I didn't think that my friends who had read the books were big fat sinners or anything, because I believe that everyone has to decide for themselves on those things -- yet I hadn't decided for myself.

So after being intrigued by the WWOHP at Universal, and seeing the excitement of my friends at the park and hearing them talk about it, I borrowed the books from a friend.

And I finished them all in one week.

Ho.Ly.Cow.  THEY WERE SO GOOD!!!  Why didn't anyone tell me that they were so amazing?!  They probably thought I would dunk them in a barrel full of holy water or something.

So the books were excellent.

And what about the witchcraft?  The sorcery?

Well... As I read, I wondered to myself, "Why is good magic done by Gandalf the wizard in Lord Of The Rings okay, but good magic done by Dumbledore the wizard not?"  Or, "Why is it okay for the kids in Narnia to go through a magical wardrobe to an enchanted world, but it's not okay for Harry Potter and friends to go through a magical train platform to one?"

To me, there isn't a difference.  Magic is magic, and fiction is fiction.  

In discussing this with other moms, one asked me how I would talk to my kids about the books, seeing as witchcraft is real and, in our opinion, not good.

That made me think... There are real princesses, but I don't think their lives are like Cinderella's or Aurora's.  There are real pirates, but they don't go around with parrots on their shoulders saying "Arrr, matey!"  Also, most of the Barbie movies I have seen (and I have seen my share) include some kind of magic.  Tinkerbell is still pretty popular, and that's got all the changes of seasons being brought about by pixie dust rather than the hand of God.

So if I were to say that Harry Potter is off limits because of the magical element, then I would have to eliminate a ton of books and movies from our collection.

As for me and my house, as long as I feel that my girls can differentiate fact from fiction, and as long as I feel that they are not being led astray by the things they are reading and watching, I think Harry Potter will be welcome in our home.  Especially since... Well, I'm going to give my opinion on something, but because it would be something of a spoiler, I'm going to type it in white.  If you've read the books, you can read it.  If you haven't read them or have just watched the movies, don't highlight the next part: *Especially since, in my humble opinion, I can relate the story in Harry Potter to the fight between good and evil that we are all battling, the struggle with free will, and even the story of salvation -- hello, one man giving his life for the good of all mankind?! -- I think even better than I can with The Lord of the Rings.*

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I get to say I went to "Callbacks".

Me and Tracie, after our interview!

Yes, that is right, Tracie and I were asked to callbacks.

I have a couple of confessions.

First, we were invited to callbacks before the open casting call.  When I spoke to one of the casting directors the day before the thing at Urban Flats, she told me that we could skip it.  Truthfully, I was a little disappointed, given I had moved heaven and earth (in other words, arranged childcare for the entire afternoon and evening) in order to get over to Orlando and meet Tracie specifically for this thing.  When the casting person heard my little story, though, she said she loved it and asked if I would mind going to the casting call (because "the Ford people would love that story") and return later in the week for callbacks.

Done and done.  And, quite frankly, worth every bit of effort we both made for it to happen!

My second confession is that we may have only been asked to callbacks because the casting person thought I was black.  Because of my name.  Because one of the casting people was black and the only Vanessas she'd ever known had been black.  (And that included Vanessa Huxtable.)

Tracie, if we don't get this because I'm white, I apologize.

So.  Friday afternoon, I drove back over to Orlando and picked up Tracie at her residence.  We made it to the hotel where the callbacks were being held, and we looked over our instructions again.

1.) Wait in the lobby.
2.) Text your name to this number: ###-###-####.
3.) Do not under any circumstance speak to a member of the hotel staff! Do not ask them where to go! Do not tell them why you're there!  Just sit! Sit and wait!

Okay, I paraphrased that last part, but we were really asked to not bother the hotel staff.  (I was glad the signs to the restrooms were clear.)

So Tracie and got out of my car (parked away from the building so we wouldn't be in any paying customer's spot) and walked into the lobby, and after I'd powdered my nose, we sat on a couch, texted our names, and waited.

We also saw other people that had to be there for callbacks, but no one was saying anything because we were afraid that the hotel staff might think we were talking to them... Well, I was also being quiet so as to listen to the other people there.  And just like at the open casting call, it seemed like these folks had auditioned for a bunch of reality shows!  Like, lots!  So really, all they want to do is be in front of the cameras, not have the opportunity to drive an incredible 2012 Ford Focus and utilize the wonders of social media to their fullest extent!  (See what I did there?)

Then.  The text came.  "Come to Room 318."

Not a conference room, a regular room.  As Tracie and I got off the elevator and walked down the hall, we wondered what we might be walking into.  I mean, it was kind of ominous.  What if it was all a big scam?  What if there were two skeevy guys waiting in the room with a camera?  I wondered if I should put my key through my fingers and be ready to poke someone in the eyeball...

But as we approached, two other girls walked out, smiling and apparently unharmed, and we were met by two of the perkiest, most adorable young women ever.  They greeted us, they took mugshot-type photos of us, and then Tracie and I sat super close together on two chairs in front of a camera while they interviewed us, and we made our best effort to not look directly at the camera while we chatted away.

One thing I loved was how Tracie and I were talking like old friends, but at the very same time we were learning things about each other that "normal" friends would already know!  It was just so hilarious and so fun and I'm smiling just thinking about it!

So now, I guess we just wait.  I know they have more casting calls this week, so obviously they have to get through those and I'm guessing other people have to look at the applications and the videos... I don't know, I've never done anything like this!!  But even if they say no (but really, seriously, you'd watch us online, wouldn't you??), I wouldn't take back a second of it because otherwise, I wouldn't have met Tracie in person, and I wouldn't have had the experience of doing the casting call or going to callbacks!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let's give 'em something to blog about...

Life has been boring.


No blogs.  No tweets.  Only a handful of interesting Facebook statuses, even.  And that's only by my standards.  They could've actually been boring, too.

Then along came an e-mail inviting me to a casting call for a reality show called Focus Rally: America that will air on Hulu.  They totally lured me in by saying they found me on a list of "Top Orlando Bloggers".

Flattery will get you everywhere.

Or, it will at least get me to contact another Top Orlando Blogger and say, "So, do you want to go to this casting thingy?"

It's me and Tracie!

That picture was taken approximately 45 minutes after Tracie and I met in real life FOR THE FIRST TIME.  Seriously.  After maybe a two or three telephone conversations, she was brave enough to give me her address and let me show up AT HER DOOR to pick her up and drive her to Downtown Orlando for this casting thingy!  (Sidenote: Tracie is incredibly wonderful in person.  We were laughing most of the time we were together.  We didn't even get lost, and we didn't run into any walls in the crazy tight and windy parking garage.  It. Was. Awesome.)

Oh, and also, that picture was taken approximately 5 minutes after we were interviewed by The Orlando Sentinel.  That's right, we're rock stars.  (Thanks, Jon Busdeker!)

If you aren't up to clicking on the linkies to check out what this is all about, they are putting teams together Amazing Race-style for this cross-country challenge, and the teams will be cross-countrying in the 2012 Ford Focus.  It's going to air online, and the teams will have to get help via social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) from their friends and fans.  And helping will pay off, because the 10 people that help the most will win a new Ford Focus!

So aside from the chance at a cross-country road trip in a pretty cool car for a reality show (that we should totally be picked for, don't you think?), Tracie and I got to spend a couple of hours standing in line waiting for our turn to talk to one of the casting people for 30 seconds.  Not to worry, we were sufficiently entertained...

You see, as we were standing in line (dutifully obeying the casting person who kept asking everyone to line up as far away from the street as we could, even if it meant being engulfed by the plants behind us), that guy you see in the Mustang decided to be all cool and rev his engine really, REALLY loudly.  Then he kind of jerked forward and had to slam on his brakes.  No sooner had he stopped than we all heard a siren and saw the flashing lights on the truck in front of him.


There was a lot of cheering and clapping going on, and the driver did get a ticket.  I kind of felt sorry for the guy.  Tracie didn't.  (Tracie, couldn't that be our first disagreement??)

We were also joined in line by Zeke.  (Zeke is not his real name, but names have been changed to protect the drunk innocent.)  Zeke had no idea about the casting until he arrived at Urban Flats for their Wine Down Wednesday.  He explained that for $20, he was getting all-he-could-drink wine, as well as appetizers.  He also figured he should have a few glasses before getting up to meet the casting people, because they always need a crazy person on these shows.  After every glass, Zeke asked us to hold his place in line, and when he returned he was always kind enough to give us a detailed account of what kind of wine he was drinking, and his assessment of its flavor. 

We also got to stand close to a table full of singles who were chatting it up with each other.  One guy, I guess I'll call him Popeye... Well, I don't know how he walked without falling over, because his top half was so much bigger than his bottom half.  I wanted to take a needle and poke his shoulder to see if he would deflate.  Then I just wanted to poke him with a needle for the fun of it, because Tracie heard one of the other guys explaining to one of the girls at the table as Popeye walked away, "He just said he's married, but he's not liking his wife right now."  Grrrrrrrrrr.

Overall though, it was an excellent night, with excellent company!  (And I'm talking about Tracie, not Zeke.)  Even if we don't get picked (which we SO should), I am so glad we did that!

Tracie, thanks for taking a chance and going with me!  If we don't get picked to be in a Ford Focus together for a couple of weeks, maybe can arrange to get together for a couple of hours!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The One With All The Public Service Announcements

Okay, y'all.  I'm dumping.  I have a lot of stuff on my mind, and I'm just pouring it all out right here, which is why I started a blog to begin with.

First.  It's October, which means it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Which means, if you haven't already, you need to feel yourself up.  Or make an appointment to have a big scary machine squish your boobies.  I think I have to start doing that after my birthday... Is it 35 when you start getting mammograms?  Someone tell me, 'k?  And could someone tell me something else?  What the CRAP does a Facebook status that is meant to come across as suggestive have to do with breast cancer awareness?  At least the bra color one was actually related to breasts.

Did I mention I might be venting in this post?  No?  Oh well.

It all depends on who you talk to on what the purple ribbon means right about now.  Lupus.  Pancreatic cancer.  Eating disorder awareness.

I saw it today representing two things -- gay teen suicide and domestic violence.  I might go spider-webbing here, so bear with me.  Or don't.  I don't really care.  It's my blog and I'll dump if I want to.

First, I want to speak as a conservative Christian parent.  As someone who leans way right and does hope that my girls will follow, I want to tell you what I'm teaching my kids.  It's not what all conservative Christians are teaching their kids, but at least you won't be able to say that ALL right-wing conservative Christian nutjobs parents are preaching hate to their kids.  Am I going to tell my girls that we believe homosexuality is a sin?  YES.  Am I going to tell my girls to HATE homosexuals?  NO!NO!NO!NO!NO!  "Hate the sin, love the sinner."  Right or wrong, I grew up believing that a sin is a sin is a sin, and my sin is no less hated by God than someone else's.  That's what I want my girls to believe.  And to just realize that actions have natural consequences, and some are more severe than others.

Now, before you think that I'm sitting here polishing my halo, I'll go ahead and admit to you that I judge others.  I'm working reallyreallyreally hard not to, because GOD KNOWS (and He's let me know, too) that I'M NOT PERFECT.  But c'mon folks -- have you ever met anyone who just doesn't judge at all?  AT ALL?  Probably not.  And even if you think you have, you don't know what's going on in someone else's mind or heart.  Anyway, I've done it, and it's likely been more fiercely directed at those I think "know better."  Why?  Because I WAS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.  I made so many horrible, awful decisions that were completely and totally judge-worthy by so many standards, and it actually breaks my heart to see other people doing it, but somehow that brokenness turns to hard-hearted judgment at times.  Like I said, I'm working on it.

On my mind more is bullying in general though.  Bullying has been taken to new levels.  I am not going to lie to you -- I pray that my girls are pretty and popular and don't have to endure bullying.  Because I have to tell you, I am not sure what I would do if I logged into their Facebook account one day and saw something hateful about them written by someone else.  And there is just so much more kids are doing now to each other.  It's sad, and it's scary.

I remember being bullied.  It was nothing like that, of course.  Just your run-of-the-mill "nerd" comments.  A few of the semi-popular boys asking me out and then laughing if they could tell I considered their proposal genuine.  I did spend almost every homeroom of my 8th grade year in tears, because it seemed every other week I had done something to tick off friends of mine, and other friends of theirs were going to kick my a-double-dollar-sign.  Good times, good times.

But I did read something somewhere asking why people didn't get involved.  Well, I know why other kids don't get involved -- because they are afraid of becoming the victim.  I get that.  I pray that my girls won't just stand by if they see someone else being hurt by mean girls.  I pray that they won't be mean girls.  But why don't teachers get involved?  I think because it can make things worse.  It's one thing to be a nerd, but to be a nerd and a narc?   Because even if the bullied kid had nothing to do with an adult figure getting involved, they are sure to be blamed for it.

In 7th grade (note: that is a picture of me in 5th grade, but things hadn't changed much), I was a really short and scrawny mousy looking girl with permed hair and glasses, and I had been in the gifted program since the 4th grade (same year I got my glasses, so double whammy).  I dressed funny.  I wasn't athletic in the slightest.  I was pretty shy.  I got picked on.  One morning I opened my locker to find all of my books gone, and a single sheet of notebook paper taped to the back with a note.  The note read:  


I wasn't a female dog.  I can pretty much guarantee that.  But at that moment, I got really, really mad.  I tore the note out of my locker and marched my short, scrawny and mousy-looking self into the dean's office.  I don't even believe I knocked.  I smacked the piece of paper on his desk and said, "What are you going to do about this??"  The dean looked at it, asked what happened, I told him, and then he asked who I thought did it.  I was 99% sure I knew who, so I told him, and he asked if we had any classes together.  I told him that, too.

Later, in that particular class, the dean showed up and asked the teacher if he could see me and the two boys I had targeted.  He brought us outside and asked them directly if they had left the note in my locker.  Looking down at their feet, they admitted to it.  The dean then looked down at me and said, "You know, I bet what it is is that these boys have a crush on you, and this was just their way of showing it."

Oh, no he di'n't.

Oh, yes he did.

It was more embarrassing than anything they'd done to me previously, that's for sure.

Now, did my life get easier after that?  Yes.  Because they were afraid I would tell -- and these were boys who cared about their 'permanent record' and didn't want to mess up in school.  These were intelligent boys with bright futures ahead of them -- yet they still thought it was fun to pick on a little girl.  But I had done something they didn't expect me to do, and apparently that shut them up.

Is my story all that bad?  NO.  NOT AT ALL.  But I do remember the sting of winning the school spelling bee and having a boy say to me right after, "Wow.  You really are a nerd."  I remember what it was like to walk the halls of the school and be afraid that someone was going to be waiting at my locker or on my way to a class to smack me around because I wore the wrong shirt on the wrong day, or I looked twice at someone else's boyfriend.  So I can't imagine what it must feel like for someone who has it a million times worse than I ever did.

That being said, every parent should read this.

The purple ribbon is also for Domestic Violence Awareness.

And you know what?  I can't even get into that now.  Because even though I was abused, it was for such a short time, and I am so, so incredibly blessed that I only had a few bumps and bruises, that I got out of it early, and that I had so much love and support the whole time.  People who wanted to be there for me -- but others getting involved only meant that I would be punished more.  I think I will talk about it sometime, but not now.

Because this dumping stuff feels kind of weird...