Writing Prompt #71: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 33)

Week #33: Something You Look Forward To.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next few months, as we start to wrap up the year 2017, for several reasons.

I start what will hopefully be my LAST paralegal class next week! It’s Legal Writing, and I’m excited about it. I just ordered my textbook, and I’m excited to be in the presence of a new professor!

September kicks off Labor Day weekend, which is usually the weekend that Al and I celebrate our dating anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s almost been SEVEN years!

The following weekend, I’ll be heading to the “Mimosas in the Mountains” event – A fancy term for Savy’s bachelorette weekend! I’m so grateful that she invited me along and has included me during their wedding planning and festivities. I’m so excited to spend a weekend with her, Crystal, and several of her amazing friends! I may die a little when we go on this supposedly epic hike on Saturday. But, that’s why I just bought KEEN hiking boots and socks! Thank you, Amazon Prime!

October 14th is Nick and Savy’s wedding! It’s gonna be fantastic. I can’t wait!

The weekend after is Hampton Comic-Con! We’ve never been, so it sounds like it will be fun!

Then, as we make our way into November, we will celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Time flies, doesn’t it? Two weeks after that, it’s Thanksgiving!

December dawns with the spirit of Christmas. My anticipated graduation from TCC is a week or two before Christmas. I’m excited to celebrate Lyndsey’s 30th birthday around the 16th! And then, we’ll blink, and we’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve and Kathryn’s birthday!

Needless to say, these last few months of 2017 will be exciting!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Writing Prompt #70: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 32)

Week #32: A City You’ve Visited.

I will always feel like a part of me belongs in New York City. I don’t ever want to live there now, although I used to dream about it for years. Yes, I was that kid who wanted to leave Virginia far behind and either start by going to college there, or become a famous writer and live in an apartment and enjoy the city.

Being born at Mount Sinai Hospital, it’s directly across the street from the west side of Central Park, one of the most amazing parks in our country. I could spend hours upon hours looking at Google Images of people’s photos. When I take Al to visit the city for the very first time next summer, I want to spend as much time in the park as possible, getting as many photos as I can. I have fond memories of practicing softball with my dad when we were there to visit the hospital. I need to find those photos and share them. I’m definitely an awkward 13-year-old there, but we had so much fun.

My parents took me back to the hospital every summer until I was 16 years old. The story that’s been told is the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses say, “Our greatest joy is seeing these children grow.” The last time we were there as a family, in 2004, there were two gigantic bulletin boards on one wall of the unit, completely covered in pictures of kids who “graduated” from the unit. Most are school photos, but some are family photos. Every single one is precious. My parents did that for a few years, and we found an old photo of me on the bulletin board when we were there. It was staggering to see how many photos were there. My parents have a photo of that visit – Me, Dr. Ian Holzman, and my mom – on their refrigerator.

But, the nurses also remember the babies who didn’t survive.

When I was 18, and a senior in high school, the Oscar Smith Chamber Orchestra was invited to play at Carnegie Hall. It was such an amazing experience to close out my high school years. It rained the entire weekend, but everyone had a blast. Many of my classmates had never seen the city, and one long weekend wasn’t enough to take it all in. We played our hardest. I almost cried as we walked out on stage, seeing the historic venue from that perspective absolutely took my breath away. Many of our families were there to support us. My mom invited the head nurse from the Mount Sinai NICU, Doris Haddad, to come to the performance. She cried. She gave me flowers. It was awesome! I graduated from high school about two months after we performed.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen a lot of New York City throughout my life – Broadway shows, Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the World Trade Center before and after 9/11, the Statue of Liberty, being on the plaza at The Today Show, Radio City Music Hall, FAO Schwarz, Macy’s, the New York Public Library, the Ghostbusters Firehouse, Tribeca, Soho, the subway, The New York Times building, different museums, Katz’s Deli, Ellis Island, Governors Island … I could go on.

But, now, as an adult, I’m realizing that I’ve only seen a very small fraction of what the five boroughs have to offer. When we visit next summer, I want to see Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn, The Bell House (home of NPR’s Ask Me Another), Coney Island, Staten Island, The Bronx, and Queens. I want to experience a variety of restaurants. I’m sure there’s many museums that are new and different, too. Plus, I’ve never been to an American Girl Store. The New York store is one of their flagship stores, so, why not?

Have you ever been to New York? What did you like about?

If you haven’t been to New York yet, what do you want to see or experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Writing Prompt #69: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 31)

Week #31: Core Value.

The simplest definition of “core value”ย that I found is as follows:

  • Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong.

This one was a big challenge!

As I thought about it over the course of the last week, the one I kept circling back to was that I’m incredibly grateful for my faith and belief in God.

The image below was created by Caralyn, the beautiful and amazing author behind the fabulous blog called BeautyBeyondBones.

BeautyBeyondBones (2)

Image Credit: BeautyBeyondBones

I draw a lot of inspiration from Caralyn. Reading her posts always lifts my spirits, and renews my faith!

She’s also inspired me to get even closer to God. Because of her, I pray a lot more. I also pray a lot more out loud, especially in the car!

I’m excited to be participating in the upcoming Pray for Me Campaign at New Creation, which kicks off on August 10th. The idea behind the campaign is to “bridge the gap between generations through prayer.” I love it! Our Director of Children and Youth Ministries, Jeremy, started promoting this a few months ago, and I helped run the promotional video last month during both services. I felt immediately inspired, and filled with hope. I can’t wait to be a personal Prayer Champion for my young one throughout this entire upcoming school year! I firmly believe that participating in this campaign will strengthen my faith, and help me become a better Christian and a better person! I know that God is smiling on all of us, all the time, even when it’s dark and gray outside.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #78: August Goals

We have arrived at the peak of summer. It’s my birthday month! But, I’m also excited because we’re in the home stretch, headed toward fall. Yay!

Here are my goals for the month of August:

  1. Register for the fall semester.
  2. Donate blood.
  3. Clear out the clothing clutter, once and for all.
  4. Celebrate my birthday!
  5. See The Dark Tower.
  6. Write at least 300 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt.
  7. Move my bookcase from my parents’ house to ours.
  8. Update my resume and LinkedIn profile.
  9. Make a series of home improvement blog posts.
  10. Make the Succulent Sphere craft for Savy.

Here’s the breakdown:

Register for the fall semester.

  • This is happening on Friday! I’m absolutely determined to make this happen!

Donate blood.

  • Blood drive #101 is on Saturday!

Clear out the clothing clutter, once and for all.

  • My thredUP donation bag is scheduled to arrive this week!
  • I’m so excited to finally clean out! Our closets need it!

Celebrate my birthday!

  • I’m excited to take the day off from work and thoroughly enjoy it.
  • I’m making my regular pilgrimage to LUSH Handmade Cosmetics and Barnes & Noble, plus meeting Al and his co-workers for lunch!
  • My parents are taking us out to eat sometime this coming weekend – Spaghetti Eddie’s!
  • Al’s parents are supposed to stay with us during the second weekend of August, so hopefully we can get our parents together then, too.

See The Dark Tower.

  • Al is more excited for this movie than I am (Stephen King’s epic book series), but I’m intrigued!
  • Plus, who can resist Idris Elba?

Write at least 300 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt.

  • I felt so good at the end of July – I just want to keep going!
  • Making time for it makes such a big difference.

Move my bookcase from my parents’ house to ours.

  • This will be a significant step in making my office complete!

Update my resume and LinkedIn profile.

  • Piggybacking off of last month, this is something that I desperately need to do. Five years is way too long!

Make a series of home improvement blog posts.

  • This is long overdue, so be prepared for lots of Before & After photos!

Make the Succulent Sphere craft for Savy.

  • Link coming soon!
  • Savy saw this video when I shared it on Facebook and tagged her, and I’ve offered to make it for her!

Do you have any goals for the month of August?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #77: July Goals Recap

July felt like one of the longest months to me, but I think that’s because of two weeks of suffering through AC issues (Now gloriously fixed!), and we didn’t have many plans during the weekends. However, the end of the month always seems to sneak up on me!

Here’s the link to my July Goals post:


Here we go!

  1. Clear the clothing clutter. — Semi-Achieved.
  2. Start designing my custom American Girl doll cabinet / storage unit. — Semi-Achieved.
  3. Register for the fall semester. — Did not accomplish.
  4. Seeย Spider-Man: Homecoming. — Accomplished!
  5. Seeย Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. — Accomplished!
  6. Write at least 200 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt. — Accomplished!
  7. Work toward weekly meal planning. — Accomplished!
  8. Set up a consistent cleaning schedule. — Accomplished!
  9. Update my resume. — Semi-Achieved.
  10. Publish a bigger variety of blog posts. — Accomplished!

Here’s the breakdown:

Clear the clothing clutter. — Semi-Achieved.

  • I got it a bit more organized and clearly divided.
  • I tried everything on, just to be absolutely sure!
  • This past week, I just ordered a Donation Bag through thredUP – I love that what I put into this bag, when it arrives, (including Al’s stuff!) will help our local Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation! There are three local charities that we can choose from, at any time.

Start designing my custom American Girl doll cabinet / storage unit. — Semi-Achieved.

  • We took measurements of a standard American Girl doll box.
  • Al is starting to work it up on the computer, using Adobe Illustrator.

Register for the fall semester. — Did not accomplish.

  • This is happening, just later this week!
  • I called the academic advising department two weeks ago – They don’t make appointments, they only take walk-ins (Of course they do).
  • I’m prepared to sit on campus all day on Friday until this happens. I’m tired of waiting!

Seeย Spider-Man: Homecoming. — Accomplished!

  • We saw this on Thursday, July 6th! It was a later showing, and we were both really tired on Friday at work, but it was COMPLETELY WORTH IT.
  • It’s one of the best movies with Spider-Man, in our opinion.
  • It’s a movie that I think would make John Hughes proud.
  • If you haven’t seen it, we both highly recommend it!

Seeย Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. — Accomplished!

  • We saw this last weekend – A Sunday matinee.
  • It was good, overall – Not anything spectacular.
  • The CGI was stunning and mind-blowing.
  • The story – Not so much.
  • We’re both a little sad that it flopped at the box office.

Write at least 200 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt. — Accomplished!

  • Drumroll … I wrote approximately 452 words!
  • I feel awesome. I’m hoping to keep this momentum going!
  • Current word count: 10,662 words.

Work toward weekly meal planning. — Accomplished!

  • We sat down and mapped out the month of July. We basically picked one meal per week, and then I adjusted the recipes I had accordingly.
  • One of our favorite recipes now is Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken.
  • The first time I made it, I followed the recipe step-by-step. It was really good!
  • When I made it again this week (Monday), I grilled the chicken on our George Foreman grill after marinating it for over 24 hours with olive oil, water, salt, and pepper. Instead of spinach, I used a whole head of broccoli. Absolutely delicious! I made enough for us to have ample portions for five nights.
  • This week – Taco salad!

Set up a consistent cleaning schedule. — Accomplished!

  • I took a pen to our Chick-fil-A calendar in our kitchen, and basically alternated Kitchen, Bathrooms, and Floors on every weekend. I wrote it down for every Saturday, but I give myself all weekend to make sure whatever it is gets done.
  • I’ve also noticed that I now feel less stressed because I’ve broken it down in this way!

Update my resume. — Semi-Achieved.

  • The main thing I did was write down the highlights of my current job, and the skills that I’ve learned while working for Riverside so far. I just need to condense it down into something that’s resume-worthy.
  • I’m not planning on leaving my current job anytime soon, but I know that it’s a good idea to keep my resume updated and refreshed.
  • I also need to overhaul my LinkedIn profile.

Publish a bigger variety of blog posts. — Accomplished!

Final Thoughts:

  • I was able to put Accomplished next to six out of 10 goals! Yay!
  • The three goals that were Semi-Achieved: I’m happy with my progress with these goals.
  • The one goal that I did not accomplish: I’m okay with this – I’ll be able to mark it as officially Accomplished at the end of this week!

What about you? Did you have any goals for the month of July?

Come back tomorrow to see my August Goals!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Writing Prompt #68: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 30)

Week #30: Your Current Age.

As of right now, I’m 28 years old. As I’ve said several times before, I’m incredibly grateful to have been on this Earth for these 28 years!

It’s hard to believe that my birthday comes around again just a few weeks from now. The last year of my 20s! It always seems to sneak up on me now. When I was a kid, though, it was a different story. I was always slightly jealous of the kids who had their birthdays during the school year – Their parents would bring in treats for the whole class, and so on. It felt like it took forever for August to arrive!

But, in a way, I’m also lucky. My birthday is during the summer, so I never had to go to school on my actual birthday! I did go to work a handful of times on my birthday, but now I’ve started to deliberately take the day off, if it falls on a weekday. I’ve really enjoyed it, and it’s like a mental health day where I can do whatever I want!

Here’s 28 things that I’m grateful for:

  1. Living on this Earth for so long!
  2. My amazing parents.
  3. My wonderful husband!
  4. Our families that love each other and enjoy each other’s company.
  5. A house that is livable and in a great neighborhood.
  6. A fridge/freezer full of food.
  7. Having good jobs that allow us to have our house, food, and spending money.
  8. A closet full of clothes.
  9. Excellent education!
  10. A reliable car that is able to make the 60-mile commute five days a week.
  11. Being able to travel frequently.
  12. A wonderful, stable church home that’s lasted for 25 years.
  13. My overall good health.
  14. The ability to see doctors when needed.
  15. Enjoying several passions – Reading, writing, American Girl dolls, movies, photography.
  16. Connecting and re-connecting with friends and family.
  17. Being able to go to a gym near the house to work out and strengthen my body and mind.
  18. Affordable Internet access.
  19. Easy access to a library system, where I can check out as many books as I want, at any time.
  20. Intelligence.
  21. Humility.
  22. Grace.
  23. Understanding.
  24. Being able to control my anxiety.
  25. Being able to listen.
  26. The power of prayer.
  27. Connecting with so many amazing bloggers, all around the world!
  28. Being loved and appreciated!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Writing Prompt #67: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 29)

Week #29: Your Favorite Memory.

For me, Oreos simply taste better if they’re frozen. Every time I eat a frozen Oreo, I think of the countless visits to Florida with my grandparents. My mom’s parents lived in Coral Gables, very close to Miami. My dad’s dad is still alive, and at age 91, he lives independently in a wonderful condominium community in Seminole, about 15 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida is the state that I’ve been to the most times, easily over 100 times now. I have so many memories – We visited both sets of grandparents, along with other friends and family members, up to four times a year for many years. It was routine to get on a plane to visit for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and sometimes, both.

Thinking of the current package of frozen Oreos in my freezer, easily reminds me of the Oreos and vanilla bean ice cream almost every night in Florida, coupled with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Spending time with them meant lots of adventures, and mostly unhealthy food. I learned how to play and master Scrabble and Upwords, improve my tennis skills, swim better, visiting many libraries, eating lots of good food, and enjoying each other’s company.

Both sets of grandparents were married for over 50 years! My mom’s parents celebrated an astounding 64 years together before Grandpa passed away in 2008. I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to have had all four grandparents in my life until I was 20 years old, which is increasingly rare.

My dad’s parents were married for just over 50 years before Grandma Betty passed away in 2011.

Grandma Grace died in 2013 at the age of 96. This year, just a few weeks ago, would have been her 100th birthday.

Writing this post has inspired me to call Grandpa this weekend, as well as my Uncle Richard (Mom’s brother). It’s been too long since I’ve talked to them.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚