Friday, December 07, 2007

Backing Up

Have you noticed that when you're backing out of a parking space -- having first looked both ways to make sure no one's coming -- and you're halfway out, some car will zoom from out of nowhere. But instead of stopping, since you're halfway out of your space, they cut past you? There you are, slamming on the brakes, tossing the kiddies around the interior of the car (okay, kidding, they're strapped into their space-age car seats) just so some rude person can save 1 or 2 seconds?

Didn't people use to wait for people to back out? Didn't we stop, knowing the way past that car was mostly blocked, and that we'd be free to move on after they were done?

It happens everywhere. At Target, at the mall, at church. This morning, it happened to me again at Biscuitville. I was 3/4ths of the way out of the space, narrowly avoiding the lengthy drive thru line, when some car cut IN BETWEEN my car and the drive thru line, while talking on a cell phone.

I have one of those cars with the spare mounted on the rear, and I'm tempted to just keep on going and bump them with my spare. Who has the right of way?

And here's just one more example, pardon my venting, but occasionally I pass a school on a two lane road -- one lane in each direction -- and if I slow down or heaven forbid, stop, to allow a parent who is dropping off a child to enter the school's parking lot, I get cars behind me zooming past and not allowing that turn in. How wrong is that?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

ConvergeSouth Saturday, Part 2

The social networking panel was interesting, mostly because it seemed while people liked the idea of Facebook, it doesn't exactly work for professionals. And LinkedIn doesn't seem to be quite as social as Facebook.

There was some good discussion regarding managing your online identity, with the consensus being it's better for you to manage your own brand than to allow others to manage it for you. I was intrigued when Elisa Camahort made the observation that in about 10 years all the kids who have party pictures of themselves on Facebook and MySpace will be the bosses and they might think it's weird if their future employees DON'T have an online presence.

What was really interesting about today's audience for ConvergeSouth was its age. Most of the people in the audience looked like they were 30-35 and up. Now some of it could be because the 20-somethings were all sleeping. After all, it did start at 9am. But what I'm wondering is if they all are so busy doing it that they don't need to come to conferences to learn about and discuss it.

The afternoon discussion around better blogging was really a great conversation led by Ed Cone and James Portzman -- running the gamut from creating a nice-looking blog without hiring a web designer or being one, to finding the topic you're interested in, to having a conversation with your readers. Loved Ed's basic advice:

Have a take, and don't suck.


Just had a great keynote speaker, Elisa Camahort of BlogHer! Really great stories of how bloggers, mainly women, are connecting, sharing, making a living, making a difference and creating a community.

Next panel is social networking -- which I'm interested in as a novice Facebooker.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tea ... For Me?

I'm the luckiest girl! I have a new coworker who custom blends teas. That's pretty cool, you're thinking. Neat to have a hobby, right?
But she blends serious tea! Custom tea for Hugh Grant! Custom tea for Oscar gift bags! I had read about her new venture in our local media years ago, but now I'm working with her. And she brought me some of her stuff. It smelled like heaven. It's black tea with vanilla, cranberry, orange and cinnamon. She labeled it Stephanie's Blend. She even brought me a thermal tumbler with a loose leaf infuser so I could properly sample the tea.

My mom had picked up the girls, so I brought the tea over to her house. We brewed three tumblers full, poured it into teapots and had the best tea party ever. Now, we drink our tea with milk. It HAS to have milk. Many a mug or cup of our tea has been discarded or abandoned when we go to the fridge and find no milk. Occasionally, when suffering in an office building, we have sprinkled a little powdered creamer in there, but it just about ruins it for us. This tea was so good, it didn't NEED milk. We could have had just the tea alone, and that NEVER happens.

My mom considers me "fancy" because I drink Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast or French Vanilla, while she drinks Lipton but I think the tea from Artisan's Cup may change her mind forever. This stuff was so good, we skipped dinner.

You can drink Stephanie's Blend from Artisan's Cup too. Only it's usually called Carolina Spice. But that can be our little secret.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dan, Dan, Dan. WHEN will you learn?

So Dan Rather is suing CBS for $70 million dollars. $20 million for making him a scapegoat for the President Bush report 2 years ago and $50 million in punitive damages. My hubby was saying "What, it took him 2 years to figure out how to sue?"

But I think it's because Katie Couric (grimace. Sorry, can't stand her.) is failing spectacularly at anchoring the CBS evening news. I have many opinions why it's not working, but I'll stick with she's too used to mornings and evening news is entirely different. Take it from me who worked 19 years in broadcast news.

You see, if Katie had better ratings, he doesn't have a leg to stand on. She's better! The network is making money! But for them to force him out one year before his big anniversary of taking over the anchor chair for someone who's ratings are tanking worse than his, then obviously it was a conspiracy and he should be compensated for the way he was treated.

The way he was treated? I always heard that Dan ran the ship at CBS and if Dan didn't like you, you might as well turn in your microphone and hairspray and head back to a Top 50 market, or better yet, try for a cable network.

I don't have anything against Dan. Despite working for various CBS affiliates where I sort of HAD to watch the CBS evening news, he never bothered me. Except on election night. I really rather preferred Peter Jennings, truth be told, after working for an ABC affiliate, but I grew up watching Tom Brokaw and really liked him too. So pretty much, I could watch any of them, but would rank them Peter, Tom and Dan if I had to.

While the Bush story debacle "ruined" Dan's legacy of reporting and doing the tough stories and being the anchor who left the desk to report live from the field, I hardly think a $70 million dollar lawsuit will

A) Solve anything
B) Make Dan feel any better about being forced to resign

What if CBS took that $70 million and spread it around the smallest 50 markets, where their gear is held together by duct tape, where the fledgling reporters are buying their on-air clothes at Target and sharing tiny little apartments with multiple roommates because they're making what's basically minimum wage, where there's no one to teach you how to write to video or how to handle a tough situation with the cops who don't want you to shoot the crime scene? Those kids are straight out of school and there's no one showing them the ropes.

Which is too bad because the larger markets are desperate for reporters and producers and throwing barely capable men and women in over their heads into a news cycle that's 24 hours, with a deadline every 5 minutes, where there's no time to THINK about the right thing, you just have to KNOW it, but oh yeah, there's no one TRAINED here, so there are mistakes everywhere and stories that shouldn't air ... oops, just like yours, Dan. Stories that aren't researched by people without enough experience.

Dan, now THAT would be a legacy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Famous People I Have Met

My schoolager and I like to listen to the 13 Going On 30 soundtrack on our way to school in the mornings. One of her favorites is Vanilla Ice's Ice, Ice Baby. I was telling her the song was popular in the 90s when I was a TV reporter, and that I actually met Vanilla Ice.

"No way! What was he like?"

Well, we were on our way back to the station from another story when we got called over the two-way radio and told to go to the movie studios in Wilmington, NC. Some guy had a hit record and there was a party for him. Turns out it was Vanilla Ice. None of us knew who he was. Rap wasn't a big deal in Wilmington, NC. Turns out also, no one knew him yet or the song because it had only been out two weeks, but it was making some historic climb up the charts for the record company and he was turning 21 so they were throwing him a party. My photog set up his camera, lit the interview and I asked Robbie van Winkle (Vanilla Ice) how he felt about his song climbing up the charts so fast. You can watch the video on YouTube.

He rapped his answer. At least I'm pretty sure he did. Since Mr. Ice was 21, he'd been celebrating with some adult beverages, so the rap was all slurry. Anyway, he seemed arrogant and drunk, and unintelligable. Back at the station I cut some of his interview together so we had a soundbite we could use. It aired.

And why was he in Wilmington, NC? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, baby! My daughter is so impressed with me.

A partial list of other famous people I have met:
Harry Smith, currently with CBS morning show. Interviewed me in Wilmington the morning after Hurriane Hugo cuz I was standing on the beach reporting when it hit. I saw ball lightning. But that's another post. For another day. My relatives in Boston happened to see it that morning.

Anthony LaPaglia, who was playing a dead guy in a movie that my friend Stephanie O. was working on.

Dennis Hopper. There was something scary about him.

Melissa Etheridge. She was amazing. And I decided NOT to ask her the big question about being a lesbian because it was news at least a year or two old, and I would rather talk about her music than who she was dating. For this my news anchor congratulated me for being discerning while my executive producer was disappointed.

Daniel Roebuck. I interviewed him a few times when he was doing Matlock. Never did get to meet Andy Griffith, although I also interviewed the actress who played his daughter or something and I judged a local beauty pageant with her.

Jimmy Buffett. I am 99% sure of it, being a major parrothead. There's a story that goes with this one. But that's another post for another day.

A Partial List of Famous People I have seen in person, but not quite met or touched:
Bill Clinton
Nicholas Cage
Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts With Keifer Sutherland
Rue McClanahan
Judge Reinhold
Ricky Shroeder (I did get to hear his horrible pretend Southern accent for the movie he was working on. I can't erase the shrillness.)

Back to work

Tomorrow will be the end of my first week back at work. With a daycare miracle under my belt (the daycare became available on EXACTLY the day I needed it, 6 weeks before they thought it would be available! In modern times, this counts.) I thought it might be tough getting on a schedule.

Confession time. My husband did all the daycare dropoff for our first daughter and I was really hoping he'd do it again and let me take our first daughter to school instead. For 8, nearly 9 years, the only person I had to get going in the morning was myself. Now, before moms who do morning duty start looking for bricks to hurl at my head, let me tell ya that I did pickup, dinner, homework, bath and bed by myself 95% of the time since my hubby works late hours. It was a perfect plan and it worked great for our family. He agreed to daycare dropoff since he gets to sleep in a precious few minutes extra. I love him!

So this week should be cake, right? He drops off the baby, I take the schoolager. Life is good. Except the very SECOND day, he has to go to work earlier than normal and could we switch? It all worked out, but I felt like a bumbling fool. Luckily, it was just our second day, so they didn't expect me to know the system, but I felt like I should automatically know what to do, you know? Because I'm the mom.

And the very fourth day, I have to be at work early so I plan to take my schoolager to my mom's who will brave the carpool line for me so I can attend a meeting. Only. We. All. Oversleep. At. My. House. My mom, being the best, comes to my house to take my schoolager, I get us ready in record time, my hubby gets the baby going. Life is still good. We're back in the saddle, baby!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The naming

So how did Alexandra get her name?

I wrote down the names of my favorite ten or so, with every possible nickname I could find or think of, along with our last name. While we were in the hospital, being induced (a story for another day) I gave the notebook to my DH and said "Here. Here are the best names." After reading through all of them, he said "I like Alexandra and Elizabeth best."

"I like both of them too. Let's wait and see what happens when she's born."

That moment came at 7:15 AM on 7/18. Oh. Remind me to tell you about epidurals. Anyway, she came, the doctor said "It's a girl! What's her name?"

I looked at my husband.

"Alexandra Noel" he said.

Summer Sampler

Cute little Alexandra Noel was born July 18th and I have had a wonderful time staying home with her for maternity leave. My older daughter Tory, got her very first "normal" summer during August when she didn't have to go to camps or daycare but just got to hang out and play with friends and neighbors, or her Nintendo DS. I had big plans for August, until we got stuck in a high pressure/drought/heat wave where every day was 98 degrees or more BEFORE the humidity. With a newborn, I'm not really anxious to spend a lot of time cooking by the pool, or even running errands.

We ended up having stealth fun. We'd leave early in the morning, head for somewhere air conditined, and buy milkshakes or ice cream on the way home, usually around lunch time. We went to Barnes and Noble, the Mad Platter, the scrapbook store, Target. We bought movies on demand and watched all the kids movies we could stand, with fresh, hot buttered popcorn I actually cooked on the stove. With OIL.

Then school started last week. It's been great so far! Tory loves her teacher, has some of her really good friends in her classroom, and has joined the band. My girl suddenly has a yearning to play the trumpet. "Mom, our band teacher says we should blow the trumpet like this and not like this because there's a famous guy who hurt his face that way."

"Yeah, honey, that's Dizzy Gillespie"

"You KNOW him?"

"I know he's famous for his trumpet playing and his face. I'll show you a picture of him on the Internet when we get home." She marveled at his cheeks, and was impressed when I told her the story of his broken trumpet. Then she dropped more info on me. "Daddy used to play the trumpet." This was something I never knew!! I had learned his father "Burgundy Papa" played the trumpet last weekend when Tory's burning band desire came up, but my hubby didn't share that tidbit with me. Turns out he played for a little while and then dropped it for soccer since he didn't like to practice.

So now I'm down to my last precious week with my newborn. She's grown more than 3 inches the first month and gained more than two pounds. She started making baby smiles when she was a week or so old. I've got pictures to prove it -- I know you're dying to say it's just gas. Now I'm getting a full gappy baby grin when the spirit moves her and I'm wondering when a newborn's eyes change color. Will Lexie's eyes turn hazel? Brown? Stay deep blue? We don't seem to have blue eyes in our family, so that would be interesting.

She's a little blondie, whose hair turns curly in the bathtub, and makes the funniest baby grunts and growls. Many times when she's done nursing, she makes this deep "yummy" sound, and stretches with her eyes closed and her lips tight together in deep satisfaction, one hand under her chin and the other stretched up over her head. She curls her legs into the air, "crisscross applesauce" as Tory calls it, and falls into a deep sleep. It's like she's still all curled up inside me, not realizing she has the room to stretch out. She mostly does this when she's on my lap, so maybe its some dim memory she associates with me. But she is learning to stretch out and we have to make sure we strap her in her bouncy chair, otherwise she stretches her way out of it.

Some memories I don't want to lose:
  • The look on her face when she makes that "yummy" noise
  • The adorable bundle she makes in her snuggy footie pajamas
  • How she pants "ha-ha-ha" when she's rooting for food with her eyes closed
  • Baby smiles
  • That deep boneless sleep she falls into, usually when I'm holding her

Soon these precious moments will be squeezed between work for me and my DH, homework for Tory and daycare for Lexie. So I'm trying to savor every moment at home, even the 2 AM ones, as I feel the pull toward returning to work like the way a wave pulls at you in the ocean before you're jumping up and over it or diving through it. That long slow pull, while you feel the water rush between your legs and around your hips, suddenly almost all gone. But the waves always crash upon the shore, so even as this time passes, I know each day will bring wonderful new times and new memories I'll call my favorites.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Name Game

Naming our first child seemed so easy. We found out she was a girl, picked out a girl's name and boom, that was it. We both loved it. There weren't any second place names. We had the best girl's name and that was it. We kept it secret from our friends, telling them her name would be Savannah Veranda (you have to say it with a syrupy Southern accent to really get the full effect!)

Now we're having another baby girl in oh, a month. We don't have a name. We have a middle name, which is the same as my daughter's middle name, my middle name and my mom's middle name. It's Noel. My husband said this little girl would feel left out at Christmas if she wasn't a Noel like the three of us -- and he's right.

So, Something Noel will be here in just a few weeks and goodness knows what we'll call her. My husband's been suggesting kind of sporty, genderless names. But they don't go with our other daughter's name at all. So I have been vetoing them. I'm not heartless. He started it with his vetoing of some of my favorite girls' names. No Sophie. No Emily.

I can tell you her joke name is Lourdes, which rhymes with my last name believe it or not. But I don't have her real name. We have several names in contention, but none of them are THE name right now, mostly because my DH insists on having a really solid nickname for the real name picked out at the same time.

We're getting down to the wire. Between the book I bought, 100,000 Baby Names, and the two he bought, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Naming with 30,000 Names, and 60,000 Baby Names, we've got 190,000 baby names. Most of them are weird and made up:

Tammilynn. (American. Tammy + Lynn)
Honestly, like I need a baby naming book to tell me that.

Lilibet (Lily + Elizabeth or Betty)

Aden (Irish) Girl's name.
Aden? An Irish Girl's name? It's just a misspelled Aidan, which is an Irish BOY'S name! Heck, why not just name her Patrick? This author was stretching the whole 30,000 name thing, I can tell ya that.

And if you are an Irish girl named Aden, I don't mean to make fun of your name, so please don't flame me in the comments. It's just not the right name for me and my baby girl, that's all.

So now I'm going back through the 190,000 names in the three books. I've got four weeks. If I don't ever sleep, that's 672 hours. I'll have to go through 282.73 names per hour to keep up with the schedule. Luckily, I can skip Sophie, Emily, Aden, Lilibet and Tammilynn.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Surprise Picnic Baby Shower

Can it get any better than this? My dear friends at work planned a secret picnic baby shower for me!

They hooked me with an email request to a gang of us to go to lunch at Moe's Southwest Grill -- just about my favorite lunch spot -- they know me too well. So my buddy A.K. and some of our interns snag me, but I was going to drive separately since I had to run an errand. Although this put them in a tizzy, they covered well and insisted I follow A.K.'s car. Moe's is like 1 mile away, and as you now know, I am VERY well aquainted with how to get there. So I said "Follow you? Why? Do you think I'm going to get lost?"

Next thing I know adorable interns Amanda and Liz come running after me: "Can we ride with you? A.K.'s car is too messy." So they start getting me to chat about stuff, while we're following A.K. down the road. I start to turn towards Moe's, but A.K. doesn't. Quickly, Amanda says "Oh, we found a shortcut. Follow A.K." I'm thinking ... a shortcut past the turnoff to Moe's? But I follow.

I stop for a yellow light. A.K. didn't. She pulls off the road to wait for me. Then she keeps going and going and going. So Amanda's saying "Oh, I remember, A.K. had to drop something off!" Next thing I know, we're turning in to Oak Hollow Lake and this cute little park, and there's everyone from the office with a picnic lunch in the shade by the lake. Is that not the cutest thing? Here take a look:

So, since I have gestational diabetes, Mary Leigh and Aleasha and the girls planned foods I could eat, even making me a special cake that had 15g of carbs per serving with sugar-free cool whip frosting!

But here's the really cool part. They all think it's really hard to surprise me and thought I MUST have known something was going on. On Monday, I gave Mary Leigh a picnic basket I found out in the garage when I was looking for Tory's old baby clothes. I knew I would never use it and she collects them, so I gave it to her. I remember she was acting weird about it. "Why are you giving me a PICNIC BASKET?!" but just thought she was surprised and wondering if there was some occasion. She thought I knew about the party and was playing with her. Then when I asked Aleasha yesterday about doing a lunch for a coworker next Wednesday, she snatched up her Treo to make sure I couldn't see calendar information about my shower or get any other clues. She says I barely missed seeing her with pink balloons and a present when I was coming in to work. Then when I didn't ride in A.K.'s car today -- she thought I knew for sure and was giving her a hard time on purpose! When they found out I was totally clueless and totally surprised, there was a report that they all felt a certain sense of triumph.

I just felt a certain sense of gratitude that I have such good friends who would go to such lengths to throw such a special party. I know I will never forget it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sugar, Sugar

I used to wake up to my local AM station playing Adult Contemporary hits as a kid. The radio was in my parents' room, but we had it loud enough to provide background music to get ready. One song the morning DJ loved to play back in the 70's was The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar" which suited me fine since I also enjoyed the Saturday morning cartoon.

But now I am on a hunt for sugar. Or rather, on a hunt to find food without sugar. And carbs. Gestational diabetes is back in the picture for me on baby two, so I'm upping protein, lowering carbs, and AVOIDING sugar. It's not that its hard exactly. Read the labels, make smart choices, use Splenda. Follow the special diet -- the hardest part is eating all the snacks I'm supposed to eat, while checking my blood sugar at the right times at work. Which always happens to be during a meeting with a client or in the middle of a conference call.

Things I snuck into my diet: Low Carb Breyers Ice Cream Bars. These things are pretty yummy for just 9g of carbs! Sugar Free fruit bars from Edy's -- tasty! Things I have to add to my diet: more protein!

A snack before bedtime is supposed to be something like ice cream, right? My nutritionist suggested I eat protein at this time. "You could have a little rolled up piece of ham or roast beef, some string cheese, too. And have some carbs, like 4 Triscuits." I like party food as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure I'm ready to eat some ham and Triscuits at 10:00pm. It's surely a smart snack for someone in my condition, but the thought of nibbling on some ham before bed just doesn't do much for me.

Which brings me back to the song that's stuck in my head:

"Oh, honey!
Oh, Sugar, Sugar
You are my candy, girl
And you got me wanting you ..."

I'm at the point where the Tums I've been ordered to eat for extra calcium to avoid leg cramps are a true delicacy because they have 2g of carbs from sugar! Do try the Cocoa N Creme Smoothies if you get the chance!