Saturday, April 29, 2006

Live from the Grand Ole Opry

So, last weekend it was poolside in Orlando, this weekend it is out in the audience at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. I am beginning to feel like a world traveler....with serious jetlag.
But first things first--I finished ALL of the papers and team project for my class! YEAH! I even get a Thursday night off this coming Thursday. I am going to relish it because it will probably be the last one I see for awhile. For those keeping score, that is 9 hours down (yes, in 4 months with a job and 3 work trips!) and only 25 (or so) to go. I am hoping to complete this degree in August '07.
Now back to the travels. I am in Nashville, TN this week for a Military conference. Kyle was able to come with me and we left a few days early to see the sights! Today we went to the Opry Mall and shopped a bit. Then, tonight we went to the Grand Ole Opry. The big names there were Jennifer Hanson and Craig Morgan. I wish we had been one weekend later--Joe Nichols and Julie Roberts will be there then! :( Oh well, it was still a great time!
I am ready to be home for a little while though. I honestly can't remember my last weekend home. I will probably be lost when it happens!
Tomorrow we plan to do the downtown tour of Music Row, etc. Hopefully it won't rain too bad.
We also did a little shopping today for Weston's birthday and picked up a few movies for him--King Kong, Chronicles of Narnia and Garfield--from my grandma. He's turning 6! I can't believe it has been 6 years!
Well, I am ready to turn in for the evening! See ya!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sunburn vs Screenburn

So, in Orlando with an awesome pool, 85 degree weather and libations (new term for me...sounded dirty at first, but soon realized it is a fancy way to say alcoholic beverage here), one would expect to suffer a little sunburn. Well, I am probably the only person here out of the umpteen million guests suffering from screenburn due to holing up in my room writing grad papers. HOWEVER, 1 paper is finished! Yes, finished and even emailed to the professor! The only glitch in the paper was that I wrote 9 pages versus the 5 page limit...let's see how much he values content over guideline. I wrote a nice note in the email that he requested so much information that I HAD to go over the limit.
Anyway, stay tuned for the grade! 1 more paper and a few slides for my presentation to go and then I am home free til May 12th...that's when I start my Strategic Analysis course.
We are at the official Day 1 of the conference. Last night kicked off the event with a reception and refreshments. Some goodies were not so fig and goat cheese on a soggy cracker-YUCK! Others were yummy-quesadillas with guacamole.
After the reception we went down to the restaurant and ate real food-Denise picked up the tab thank goodness because the $25/day limit would not suffice here. A mini pizza was $15 and the water here is horrendous so I ordered a bottled water-$10. In the defense of the bottled water, it was Evian and was rather large, but come on-$10? There is a Starbucks at the hotel, so I am in mocha heaven! At the awful price of $4.57 per cup however!
Well, I am on a break from the conference trying to get the writing juices flowing for my final paper, so I better get back to the writing that is due!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Working (Wo)man's Blues

Well, I am in sunny Orlando, FL for my Yellow Page conference. The hotel we are staying at is definitely "uppity" and has tons of perks I won't be utilizing due to the excess in cost! For example, our refrigerator is stocked with drinks...sodas, liquor, etc. However, the canned coke is $3. No thanks. Just not that thirsty! There's something about price-gouging that just leaves me with no desire to quench my thirst.
Well, I am FRANTICALLY trying to write my last 2 papers and finish up my team project! AAHH! But on a good note (which is driving my diligence to complete my assignments), I made a 75/75, yes 100%, on my first paper in the class! I about fell out of my chair when I saw my grade! That is definitely rewarding considering I had spent HOURS at Sweet Bay cramming, writing, and rewriting!
Now, to keep up the standard! I am worried these won't be as easy...It's hard to concentrate here. But I will do my best!
Well, I better get started...the papers aren't going to write themselves!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Lil' Things

Well, we are HOME this weekend...yes, home. I know, I know...I'll give you a minute to pick your chin up. Now, are you alright?
Ok, so I will have to write about the little things going on. First, it's Easter weekend, so we will be spending Sunday split between the families. Tonight we went to Weston's first teeball game. It was just a pratice round, but the season is definitely getting ready to begin. I needed practice in being a teeball Mom as well....I found myself a little frustrated during the game and could've easily gotten in trouble with my mouth! However, the other team did need to stay in the batter's box--it was clear they invented the concept because of that team. Weston did well-he hit the ball everytime and scored a run the last hit. He is still going to have to learn to pay attention. He looked SO cute in the field though. He got some cool sunglasses today and insisted on wearing them to the game!
Tomorrow is our motorcycle ride! I am excited and all the parents and grandparents are scared to death....They have been giving us a daily report on the fatalities. It's not like we've haven't ridden before. I do understand though that we can't control the other people on the road. So, I will make sure we pray before we ride and then enjoy ourselves. Hopefully the weather will hold out as well!
Well, we just ordered a pay-per-view movie--Yours, Mine, and Ours. So, I will write more later!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dallas does NASCAR

Well, I couldn't stand it. Dallas was just too close to not drive to the NASCAR race...I think I am officially hooked! So, Kyle, the kids, and I set out for Dallas Friday evening after work. The kids did awesome during the drive there. It was probably because it got dark and they couldn't see each other to pester! We got to Greg and Carrie's house around 10:30 or so. I was so pooped from the conference the 3 days before and then packing up and going after work that day. I fell asleep during the first 20 minutes of Harry Potter! Sorry guys! :) Saturday morning saw us up fairly early (ok 7:30, but hey I was EXHAUSTED!) and we got ready so that we could leave and have a few hours before the race to swing in the hospitality booth and the merchandise section. Since this is Kyle's first race, I wanted us to have enough time to relish it. Once we got there I called Todd (see last NASCAR race blog for who he is) and told him we were there to see if he could "sneak" us into the hospitality booth. You would think I would have enough clout to get into my own company's entertainment booth...HA! Anyway, we got in and I talked with several of the RVP's and sales managers/representatives from Dallas. Everyone was very friendly and the food wasn't too bad...Kylie would have LOVED it-they had a huge thing of cooked mushrooms! After we ate and hung out a bit, we headed out to the merchandise tents. I was amazed at all of the people that were there! Definitely a lot more than Atlanta...We headed into the race shortly thereafter and the fun well as the sunburn! But we enjoyed it anyway--we got to witness firsthand the "snow angel" in action after his win!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Milestones the Trilogy!

Part 3 (Read part 1 and 2 first for full effect).... **NEW** See picture link at right under LINKS for pictures from Milestone!
After our lessons, Don Soderquist and Andy Wilson came and spoke for about an hour. I have to say that the most moving story out of the visit was "The Chair". He talked about how Sam Walton encouraged him to never make a decision from the chair. He then told about how several lives could have been affected by a decision he made had he not gotten up and went to the problem. Instead, he asked questions and learned from a different perspective. After chatting with them, we ate dinner in the formal dining room which overlooked the lake. It was such a beautiful view at sunset! Not to mention, Johnny Carino's was yummy for dinner. I must say it was a long, long day, but very interesting.
Wednesday found us up early and off to a busy start. After breakfast, we went out to the ropes course to give it a try. The only rule was that after we paired up with a partner, when our partner was on the ropes, we could not talk to them--which meant we couldn't provide encouragement, instruction, or feedback. The lesson in this was for us to try and practice self-management and the inner voices that affect us. So, I am not fond of the ropes course, but hey I am willing to give it a chance since I was able to climb the Alpine Tower. Jason was my partner and he was part of the crew that helped build the ropes course. I'm thinking...I can do this!
Well, not sure what happened to me after that. I was doing great during the first 2 segments of the course. Then, a lady a couple of segments ahead of me panicked and decided she wants down. Well, there is this chain reaction that happens. There are two people between she and I. The lady between us takes off on one of the segments and ends up falling. Which leaves me waiting for them to "rescue" two people between my section and the ladies. So, I am standing there balancing for like 6 minutes on this wire holding onto a rope and my legs and feet got extremely tired! By the time I made it to the next platform, I couldn't go further. I was so bummed....I mean after doing the Alpine Tower, I felt this thing was going to be easy! But I definitely learned more this time around than I did during the Alpine Tower. I came to realize how much my internal voices affect me! We weren't allowed to encourage each other at all during the course which meant that it was total silence and all you could hear was yourself thinking. Which meant that when I got to the point where I was stuck, all I could hear was, "You better get down know you can't do this!" It was so frustrating to know I could have finished the course, but I learned a lot about how I view myself. It was definitely worth the lesson. I know that I fear failure, however there are many times that I feel a failure as well.
But there were more lessons to come....oh were there ever! So, we are then split up into 3 groups and were assigned a group leader. Cindy is our leader and we load up into a van. Cindy hands us an envelope as we are heading on our way (I am beginning to learn to fear the envelope!) and Carol, a girl our group reads it aloud to us. The first page talks about the 3 socioecnomic classes in NW Arkansas. Each group from JBU is going to represent a group. The next page would outline our social class and money allotted for lunch. So, Carol turns the page to read "Your life has been a series of unfortunate events..." at the top of the page. The figure $10 glares at us along with instructions on how to spend the $ food stamps! Yes, we had $10 for lunch to feed 7 people. So, we had to come up with a game plan. Someone suggested Aldi's, which evidently is a cheaper grocery store. I would compare its contents to something like the Always Save brand. Ok, the list says we can only buy bread, water, lunch meat, cheese, PBJ, and chips. We could not add money to our funds and we couldn't eat anything that was not on the list. So as we are driving to Aldi's, Cindy decides its time to put the icing on the cake! She tells us thatwe each have to put a shirt on out of the trash bag she is holding. Well, somehow I get stuck with the Garth Brooks Mickey Mouse shirt! It was horrid....But as we go into Aldi's, we notice that we really don't stick out. So, I am thinking, this really isn't that bad....we grab some items off of the list...lunch meat, bread, chips, and bottled water. We couldn't buy plates, etc to eat with. We finally decided to just pull over and eat on the side of the road. It was such a surreal experience. The food was gross...I couldn't even eat. It was also hard to eat because you realize that there are people who have no more than what you are "pretending" to have.
After lunch, the experience isn't over. We are then dropped off at the Fayetteville mall--still wearing our shirts by the way! We are again handed an envelope and told to go by ourselves for the next initiative. The sheet of paper says to go to the store of our choice and ask for a job application and spend at least 3 minutes talking to the store person about the job and specifically ask them, "Do you think I would be a fit for this job?" Ok, this was stretching me! But I decided the only way to fully experience the initiative would be to go to a store that I would feel to be a challenge. So, I went to Wet Seal and spoke to the manager. She was so non-judgmental! She did awesome...she never once blinked an eye at what I had on...she even offered me the job!
When we got back to the house after the experience, we got to hear about the other 2 groups experiences....$15 PER person lunch and $5 per person lunches! Boy, were we jealous (and hungry after listening to their meals!) But, I honestly learned more with my experience. I forgot how much I have to be faithful for and how much some people struggle just to eat. It was definitely a humbling day.
That evening we had a few guest speakers and ate quesadillas! The speakers did an awesome job...I particularly loved listening to one lady who spoke about how success shouldn't be measured using someone else's bar. It should be what makes us proud and what we're happy about. I have spent far too much of my life measuring my success with someone else's measuring cup. It wasn't until the past 2 years that I have learned my happiness isn't going to exist in someone else's successes. It has to be mine...I have to be the one who sets the bar. With that, we also discussed balance in life...something I definitely don't have! But, I think my challenges are temporary and there are things in my life that I would like to achieve. As long as the sacrifice is short-term (hey, they say 2 year program for your Masters), then it's worth the sacrifice. But, I couldn't live my life in high gear all the time....
The next morning saw us up bright and early...AGAIN! But, it is Day 3, the final day. I had my assessement with Wendy at 7 that morning. We discussed personal areas that I could work on based on a couple of assessment tests I took. Probably my biggest surprise was that I am easily distracted both internally and externally. But the more I thought about it, the more it is right. I let things distract me that have nothing to do with my current efforts and really deserve no thought at all. Secondly, I am very critical of myself (big surprise-HA!)...I knew this already. I can rip myself apart faster and better than anyone I know. So, I made a promise to myself to really work on these 2 areas when I left the seminar.
After breakfast, they drove us to downtown Rogers, AR and dropped us off at an abandoned hotel (I am thinking, PLEASE, PLEASE don't make me starve for lunch again!). Upon arriving, we found out that we are going to be playing CSI. It was so much fun! We spent the next 4 hours "investigating" a murder. We collected evidence and then went around town searching for clues. Finally, at the end we found our suspect and I got to put the handcuffs on him! This guy was a firefighter for Rogers, AR and was probably taller than Kyle (though not much taller). He was very broad-shouldered. When I put the handcuffs on him, on the second cuff, you are supposed to "shake" the hand of the suspect to hold the hand in place. Well, he about broke my hand squeezing it so tight...he was definitely an intimidating suspect.
The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing and presenting on what we would "Keep, Stop, Start" in regards to the things we learned as well as our values. values are Respect, Fairness, Empathy, Perseverance and Humility. I firmly believe in being non-judgmental (guess I have been judged one too many times) and that people should treat others fairly. I'm not perfect, but I can say that the life experiences I have been through have definitely molded my values. Stating your values gives you direction and accountability. It shapes you because you have something to work for and live by.
Kyle and I started working on his values the other night. He thought it was going to be hard to come up with them, but after I got him started on how to figure them out, he had 3 determined in 30 minutes! I will let him share his values though in his own blog.....
Well, tomorrow I will hopefully catch up and write about this past weekend with NASCAR.
Til then,

Milestones Continued.....

Part 2 (Read part 1 first for full effect....)
So, I pull up at the house and get settled inside. I feel as if I am at church camp again only in some fancy mansion because there are 5 of us to a bedroom. However, "bedroom" is a loose term in the sense that this room has 2 long (probably 25 feet?) bathrooms...his and hers. The room is rather spacious (it holds 2 full size beds and 3 roll-aways, desk, sitting area...need I go on?). The counters in the bathroom are made of some really expensive marble. The place reminds of the ranch that Mom and Jim used to live at in Edmond only 3 times nicer!
Our first meeting is in the Great Room. The Great Room is a great big room! It has furniture that per piece is more expensive than my car! I feel as if I am on some pampered retreat...yet I remind myself I am earning college credit here! Once we meet in the Great Room, Wendy, our leader, presents us with an envelope. There are 18 of us students convened here and we open the this is beginning to feel like some weird game of Clue (considering the surroundings). The envelope is a scavenger hunt throughout the house that has a reflective moment attached with each new envelope. What inspires you? What motivates you? It was definitely an interesting way to tour the home!
After our guided tour, we head to the Learning Center for "classroom work". Let me say, the lessons here are incredible. What I have learned about myself, my relational aspects with others, and social awareness in general is refreshing, intriguing, and definitely convicting. I thought an awesome quote from the first day (ok, I have several, so the 1st awesome quote) was "I don't know what you value until I have seen it cost you." Not sure who to give credit to on that one, but it's very convicting. What do I value? What would hurt the most if I lost it? And most importantly, are my values in the right things?
Well, dinnertime is now! So, til the next blog!


Part I
So, it's Day 2 of our Milestone Seminar...yes, I got my paper written finally! Oh, the elation I felt to have that behind me. So, I will recap a little bit of yesterday and catch you up on the proceedings of the conference. The journey started Tuesday morning when I left around 6:30 am from the house...I had one pit stop to make, but other than that I was on my way. What was the pit stop?? HELLO! It was April 4th...the release of Rascal Flatt's new album. So, I made a beeline for Wal-Mart, grabbed my bonus pack and I was on my way. First, the important stuff...the CD is awesome. I have to say it's one of their better ones. It covers all the bases. In fact, I found an awesome song on it for my brother's graduation slideshow called My Wish. Ok, back to the story. So, I head toward Rogers, thinking I am making such good time. I was supposed to be there by 8:30 problem. Or so I thought! Because this "country" girl didn't realize that she would experience "city" traffic on her way. I sat on the interstate at a complete standstill for about 15 this point it is 8 am and I am several, several exits from my destination. So, I FINALLY make it to the right exit and misread my directions. I thought it said 2nd stop light, well it says 2nd st. stop light. I put it all together and realize that I am on 34th street....8:30 at this point. So, I make it to 2nd STREET stoplight finally and find all the other turns fairly well from there, just late. It's 9 am when I pull up to this gated property. I identify myself at the gate that opens (NOW THAT's a gate opener!!!) When I arrive at the circle drive in front of this huge "Manor", I am immediately greeted and my car is valet-parked. SWEET! I couldn't believe the service. After all, I am technically "in class"....luckily they haven't started yet, so I head inside (oh yeah, they even carry my bags in for me). The place is gorgeous and huge! Rumor is that the manor sits on 95 acres and the back wall of the place is mostly windows to view the lake from. What a place!
Well, it's time for class to start again...more to come!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Saturday Night

Well, we made it back home. We didn't get to eat at PF Chang's last night, but we went today for lunch instead...well worth the wait. 9 hours later I am still stuffed! It was so yummy though. Kylie even ate with chopsticks! I do good to get my food to my mouth with a fork/spoon and my 3-year old is using chopsticks! I am so miserable though...we ate out at 3 awesome restaurants all in a 24-hour period...too bad we couldn't spread them out over the course of a week or so.
I am dreading tomorrow...why? Because I HAVE to write that paper that is due Tuesday. The problem is my muse is on vacation. She won't be back until next weekend which is a little too late. So, I guess I am going to have to figure this one out on my own. Believe it or not, I suffer from serious writer's block. Stop laughing...yes there are times that even I am at a loss for words. It's usually when I am required to write about a school topic.
We just got back from a Sunday School party...not so much fun. The guys played volleyball while the women worked vigorously to keep the kids out of the middle of the game. My kids weren't bad. The problem was that Kylie kept getting hit with a basketball that a few of the kids were playing with. Well, the ball popped her so good one time that she started crying hard. Which made matters worse because then she decided to get choked and leave a 15 foot trail of vomit from the table to the bathroom....Gross. I am not one for throw-up when I am trying to eat. After we cleaned her up, she was fine though. I wasn't....I was bored and everyone was cranky that I was sitting with so I was past ready to go!
Well, this paper isn't writing itself, so I am going to check out and try to get something accomplish this evening...that way I will feel ahead tomorrow!
Good night....