Pirates over princesses?

What I want to know is, just when, exactly, did my daughter stop thinking princesses were cool? She and her friend are at gymnastics camp this week, and the theme is “Pirates and Princesses.” Today they were supposed to dress up as either a princess or a pirate. They both chose pirates. Definitely didn’t want to be princesses. No way. Had to be pirates.

“But, but, but… you both used to love all the princess-y things. Disney princesses ruled!” I spluttered.

“That was when we were younger, Mom.”

They are growing up, and it’s breaking my heart!

The pressure is on

Now that I have bragged to everyone I know about how I’m getting published, in a book, as a contributing author, I feel an intense pressure to say something brilliant and eloquent in today’s blog post. But to heck with expectations. I have absolutely nothing of significance to declare to the world, so I leave you with this:

Hi. Thanks for visiting my little corner of the Internet. I hope you are having a most excellent day!

This letter appeared in my email inbox, with no warning, exactly one hour ago. No words can describe my sheer euphoria, so I won’t even try. The letter speaks for itself.

Dear Monique,

 

The eLearning Guild has identified your article, “The Design Document: Your Blueprint for e-Learning Standards and Consistency,” as one of the top 25 that we have published since 2002! This selection is based on the ongoing downloads since original publication and on our judgment of the quality and ongoing value of the content in the article.

 

We are working with Pfeiffer, an imprint of Wiley, to produce a book containing the best of the articles from Learning Solutions and The eLearning Developers’ Journal. With your permission, I would like to include your article in the book, which is tentatively scheduled for release in the spring of 2008. As one of the contributing authors, your bio and photo will be published in the book, and you will receive two copies of the book.

 

Both Pfeiffer and The eLearning Guild will promote sales of the book. It will be available for purchase online from The Guild Web site and from Pfeiffer. It will also be on sale at events sponsored by The eLearning Guild, such as the Guild Annual Conference and DevLearn. Pfeiffer is a well-known and respected publisher of books on training, and it has a global presence. By appearing in The Guild’s book, your article will potentially come to the attention of thousands of readers worldwide who would otherwise not have access to it.

 

If you would like for your article to appear in the book, please complete the attached agreement, sign it, make a copy for yourself, and return the original to me along with your updated 150-word bio, and a current photo of yourself. Mail these to me so that I receive them by Friday, August 3, 2007. (For your convenience, you may email your photo to me as a high-resolution JPEG file.) If you do not want your article to appear in the book, please let me know no later than Friday, July 27, 2007 so that I have time to find a replacement.

 

Thank you once again for your contributions to The eLearning Guild’s publications, and we are all looking forward to seeing your work in this book!

 

Best regards,

Bill Brandon, Editor

The eLearning Guild

I’m getting published. I’m getting published! I’m getting PUBLISHED!!!!

I won’t make a cent from the deal, but I will forever have the honor of seeing my words and my name published in print, from a respected publisher in my field. God is good!

Harry Potter mania

I confess. I’m sucked into the hype. I am one of the two million or so Muggles who pre-ordered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Amazon guarantees delivery tomorrow, the book’s official release day. I will be waiting most impatiently for its arrival.

Dear readers, I plan to be spending a good chunk of this weekend curled up with Harry’s final installment. This blog will be silent until I have completed my read. I must discover what happens to Harry and friends before some faster reader spoils it for me!

The fairy tale wedding

They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck. If true, it would certainly explain the bountiful blessings that have been showered over us in 13 years of marriage, because our wedding day was marked by thunderstorms of torrential proportions. The roof of the limo that carried my father and me to the church buckled under the monsoon, and quickly sprung a leak. Our guests were soaked by the solid sheet of water cascading from the roof overhang at the church entrance, despite the valiant efforts of ushers with umbrellas. Many guests arrived late because of the poor driving conditions caused by the drenching downpour.

It rained. Oh, how it rained. It was the best day of my life.

The day began with an early call for Kent and his groomsmen, who honored a family tradition with a round of golf on the big day. Meanwhile, I and my bridesmaids had a morning packed with manicures and brunch before I headed off to have my hair perfectly coiffed, all the better to show off the handmade heirloom crown that my mother had designed and painstakingly created just for me.

Then, the rain came. Yet in what I can only describe as a providential sign of God’s approval of our union, the rain miraculously paused its deluge just as we arrived at the church. And just long enough to get the wedding party and our finery indoors before resuming its pummeling.

As I began to dress and primp inside, in a gown befitting Cinderella at the ball, the videographer interviewed my bridesmaids for the wedding video. Without exception, they all noted my calm. But I couldn’t understand their amazement over my lack of nerves. There were never any cold feet on the part of this bride, who knew beyond any doubt that a certain golf-playing groom was her future, and who was not about to let anxiety over unimportant details turn her attention away from the handsome man who would be waiting for her at the end of the aisle.

The ceremony was simple, but poignant, and very much a family affair. Kent’s cousin, a minister, officiated at the church Kent grew up in. The music was provided by another cousin, an accomplished pianist. A family friend and longtime member of the church sang a beautiful Lord’s Prayer, quite possibly the best rendition I have ever heard. And Kent’s brother serenaded us with Edelweiss, special to us as the first song Kent had ever sung to me when we were dating. During the song, those in the front rows could see clearly that Kent was singing along, just to me, so only I could hear. And he was crying.

There were many wet eyes in the church that evening. Several guests told me afterward that they had never seen a groom more obviously in love. One weeping guest said ours was the only wedding she’d ever cried at, and it was clear from her still brimming eyes and running mascara that she did not mean just a single tear or two. Over the years she continues to maintain that she still never cries at other weddings, not even those of her own son and daughter.

Later, we partied. Ah, the party. It was a grand event, with every last detail planned by my mother, a former event coordinator. The reception was held at a local Italian restaurant, but to call it merely a restaurant does not do it justice. It was a beautiful destination built in the style of a European opera house, complete with a fountain outside and murals adorning the interior walls and ceiling. The exterior of the building has, in the wedding photo that hangs over our mantle, been mistaken by visitors to our home for the grand Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The elegantly themed restaurant was primarily intended as a draw for the many tourists who flock to Orlando, but weddings were also a portion of their business. Though just how profitable the wedding business was remains in question; the restaurant has, sadly, long since been replaced by one that proclaims itself a “shrine to motorsports,” redesigned beyond recognition with a checkered racing flag roof and monster trucks hanging from the ceiling. This is perhaps as it should be, with our special, undiscovered location better left to meaningful memories that become more precious with each passing year.

Inside the round building, tiered levels of seating surrounded the large center dance floor, where guests were entertained by strolling musicians. Kent and I shared our first dance on the elevated platform in the middle of that dance floor, flanked by four marble columns rising high in the air. The DJ played all the right music for a party that no one wanted to leave, and later in the evening, I tossed my bouquet from a balcony overlooking the scene. A fairy tale wedding, through and through.

I can’t believe that anyone would remember my wedding 13 years later, but people still talk about it as a memorable event, both for the cozy, sentimental ceremony built on family and pure love, and the one-of-a-kind party that followed. It was an eclectic combination, and yet it was exactly perfect. Except I think the perfection really lies in having picked the right partner. I’ve been living the fairy tale ever since.

Today is our anniversary. 13 wonderful years—the best of my life. I’ve loved every single day with Kent. Especially the rainy ones.

New look

As you can see, I’ve been playing around with my look again. I’ve grown weary of looking at the same pretty autumn scene day in and day out; it just doesn’t feel right now that it’s July. So, I am experimenting with a more summery palette. I’m not sure what I think of the latest look, but I’m still tinkering. Please bear with me through my growing pains. Thanks!

Regular readers of this website may remember this post from last year wherein I waxed rhapsodic over my latest must-have technological toy, the Motorola Razr. I exuberantly sang this popular phone’s praises from the hilltops with all the blind loyalty of a rabid schoolgirl crush. I was enraptured.

Alas, I am a fickle creature, and the Razr and I are officially divorced.

The new apple of my eye is the Samsung Blackjack. It’s true; I have finally joined the ranks of Crackberry addicts and thumb-typing Smartphone users everywhere. In just three days, I already don’t know how I ever lived without it. No more updating contact information in three different places. No more connecting my PDA to the computer with something as archaic as a cable to synchronize my calendar. No more being tethered to the computer for checking my email when instead, it is delivered right to me wherever I am. Friends, I assure you that more likely than not, I will now be reading your comments to my blog entries on my Blackjack, rather than in my passé computer-based inbox.

Really, though, it was only a matter of time. Some of my earliest readers may remember this even older post wherein I threatened future ownership of a combination device that would allow me to finally shed the PDA. Now I can only wonder what took me so long. Oh yeah, I was sidetracked and seduced by the Razr.

But this time, I am committed. I will vow to love my new Blackjack passionately. At least until the next cool new toy comes along.

Next stop, iPhone?

Who remembers this classic childhood car game? We play it in our car a lot, minus the punching. Over time, however, Maia has evolved a complicated set of rules about exactly what you must say in order to receive credit for a punch buggy sighting; a script so complex that only she can remember it accurately, thereby hoarding all punch buggy points for herself. As best my feeble mind can remember, it’s something along the lines of:

“Punch buggy, got it, green one, got it, no punch backs, got it, got it.”

In our car, the game has also expanded beyond VW Beetles. PT Cruisers count, as do Orlando’s colorful public transportation buses, called Lynx buses. Though for the purposes of our game, these buses must be referred to as “paw print buses”—because of the Lynx paw print logo—to gain credit.

However, poor Noah has no hope of ever earning any points since he can’t quite remember exactly how to call his punch buggy sightings for proper credit according to Maia’s ever-changing rules. So he’s simply given up, and has instead taken to helping his sister in her spotting. He points them out to her, and she gets the credit for calling them. It’s teamwork at its finest, especially when playing against others in the car. And even though it’s to Maia’s advantage since she technically keeps the points, I’ll take cooperation like that over bickering any day.

Last night, my mom alerted me to this online video (aptly titled Voices from the Homeless Clinic) on our local newspaper’s website, featuring testimonials from patients at Orlando’s Health Care Center for the Homeless. I was understandably tickled to see my dad featured in a couple of the scenes—he’s the doc in the white lab coat.

But I, ever the insatiable snoop, was not satisfied with that little snippet. I wanted to know more, so I looked up the homeless clinic’s website and lo and behold, I find that my dad is featured as the Volunteer Physician of the Year!

Just for the sake of posterity, I decided to record here the entire text of the article. Way to go, Daddy! I’m so proud!

HCCH Volunteer Physician of the Year:
Dr. Jaime Torner, MD

Dr. Torner was born in San Sebastian, Spain and received his Medical Degree from the University of Madrid in 1965. In 1974, he began his practice of gastroenterology in Port Charlotte, Florida. In 2004, after 30+ years of practice, raising three children and blessed with four grandchildren, Dr. Torner and his wife of 40 years, Ginger, retired to Lake Mary.

After a few months of retirement, Dr. Torner was looking for a volunteer opportunity to use his talents and training to help those in need. He began his search on the Internet and it was our good fortune that he happened across this very website (www.hcch.org). He contacted us and began to volunteer two days a week.

Soon his two days stretched to 4 then 5 for one week then two weeks and more. This winter, our Medical Director took an extended vacation leaving us with a shortage of providers with an already overcrowded schedule. This was also the time we were moving into the new Orange Blossom Family Health Center building. Dr. Torner didn’t miss a beat and cheerfully consented to come in five days a week for over one month.

“Charity begins at home.” Says Dr. Torner. While his friends and colleagues go on mission trips to third world countries once or twice a year, Dr. Torner practices his passion daily. “Why go around the world when there is work to be done right in your own backyard?”

HCCH is inspired by Dr. Torner’s commitment to his craft and his community. We are grateful for his volunteerism and moved by his ethics and principles.

4:31 p.m.: Anonymous subject parks in front of the pediatric dentist’s office, only one minute late for her daughter’s appointment to have two cavities filled. Subject considers this good timing, considering she has already turned around once to retrieve the cell phone left at home. The cell phone is a crucial piece of equipment for this outing as there is an extra kid in tow, and waiting time in the dentist’s office is to be efficiently used to plan a rendezvous with said extra kid’s mother to transport two of the youth to her house for overnight custody immediately following the fillings.

All these carefully planned details become immediately irrelevant at precisely 4:31 p.m. and 30 seconds when, in the tardy hustle and bustle of herding three kids out of the car while checking the weather to determine the need for an umbrella and simultaneously collecting reading material and a can of Diet Coke to settle in for an interminable stay in the dentist’s waiting room, anonymous subject drops the (open) can of Diet Coke directly in her lap.

Anonymous subject’s instantaneous reflexes prove no match for the fizzing Diet Coke, which soaks her shorts in exactly the spots one would expect had the accident been of a rather more humiliating “call of nature” nature.

Being already late for the dentist’s appointment, anonymous subject has no choice but to enter and pray no one will notice. Because surely the more she protests her innocence, the less likely people will believe the slightly yellowish wet spots in all the wrong places are really only Diet Coke.

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