Adventure Time: Hampton Roads Edition (Builder Fest and Bridal Shower)

The weekend of August 15th was awesome! Al and I spent time on Saturday exploring downtown Portsmouth.

We went to Roger Brown’s for lunch – Delicious! I had an amazing BBQ brisket sandwich, and Al had what looked like a great Cuban sandwich. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.

After lunch, we headed across the street to the Children’s Museum of Virginia for BuilderFest! Before we crossed, I heard someone yell my name. It was our friend Sara in her truck! We said hi quickly and we went on our ways.

BuilderFest was an event that involved a team effort with multiple Portsmouth attractions and businesses. Al found out about it because one of the girls who works in IT at his company, Kate, is really into LEGOs. Kate and her sister Meg were going to have a table with LEGOs at the children’s museum.

I was so excited, Al had to calm me down. Neither of us had been to the children’s museum since probably elementary school. Besides Kate and Meg, the museum had a Lowe’s builder’s workshop, 3-D printing, and the Hampton Roads Ship Model Society.

Check out the photos!

This epic Ferris Wheel turns with a crank!

This epic Ferris Wheel turns with a crank!

This is a LEGO model of one of those carnival rides.

This is a LEGO model of one of those carnival rides.

The carnival ride was hooked up to a battery-operated motor, and it went really fast!

The carnival ride was hooked up to a battery-operated motor, and it went really fast!



Al holding one of the ship models. This one took 1,000 hours to complete!

Al holding one of the ship models. This one took 1,000 hours to complete!

Part of the museum's art exhibit.

Part of the museum’s art exhibit.

One of the results from a 3-D printer!

One of the results from a 3-D printer!

This is part of the LEGO city that Meg assembled for the kids. It was awesome!

This is part of the LEGO city that Meg assembled for the kids. It was awesome!

The first floor of the museum. They've done a nice job updating it!

The first floor of the museum. They’ve done a nice job updating it!

On Sunday, I enjoyed my first bridal shower. One of my PEO sisters, Carolyn, was the gracious hostess. It was a beautiful sunny day, and so many wonderful women came to celebrate!

The gorgeous table, prepared by Carolyn and Suzie.

The gorgeous table, prepared by Carolyn and Suzie.

Back Row, L to R: Cat, Sue, Melissa, Kim, Clura Faye, Amy, Suzie, and Stephanie. Front Row, L to R: Abby, Amber, Emily, Mary Lou, Katie, and Carolyn.

Back Row, L to R: Cat, Sue, Melissa, Kim, Clura Faye, Amy, Suzie, and Stephanie.
Front Row, L to R: Abby, Amber, Emily, Mary Lou, Katie, and Carolyn.

It was so wonderful! Like the bridal luncheon, I felt surrounded by love.

I received many amazing gifts. Most of all, I enjoyed the food and the fellowship that afternoon!

At the end of the weekend, I was exhausted, but completely full of joy and love. I am so thankful for this time in my life. I can’t wait to marry Al!!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #15: Nerdy, Geeky, and Damn Proud Of It

I saw this amazing piece on Facebook recently:

I just bought a similar 16 x 20″ print earlier this month. Last week, it arrived from Texas!

I can’t wait to frame it and put it up in our eventual house.

Growing up, I was classified as a smart kid, probably a nerd too. I wasn’t ashamed of it, except for the couple of boys that regularly taunted me with the classic “teacher’s pet” insults. Thinking all the way back to elementary school, I was the girl that enthusiastically raised her hand in all my classes, sat right up front (for the most part), that kind of thing. I enjoyed school overall and enjoyed learning as much as I could, whenever I could.

This art print spoke to me in many ways.

We believe in Magic

I remember first learning about Harry Potter in elementary school – The first book was released on June 30, 1997, when I had just finished second grade. Many of my friends had read and re-read the books by the time we were getting ready to go to middle school.

I’ll admit, I was a late follower, and definitely a skeptic at first. I wasn’t a huge fan of fantasy works in elementary school. However, once I got my copy of the first book, the others quickly followed. I still have my paperback copies of all seven books, well-loved and well-read.

I was fortunate enough to travel to Europe with 40 of my high school classmates and teachers for 17 amazing days in the summer of 2005. Our first stop was England for a few days. At some point when the trip was being planned, it was announced that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was scheduled to be released on our last day in England! The majority of us were big fans, and this was a highlight for our trip. We were in London, and there was a Waterstones (the British equivalent to our Barnes & Noble) bookstore close to our hotel. The book was being released at midnight on July 16th, so we all lined up around the block and eagerly waited. Because of that trip, most of us have a hardcover copy of the British edition! It was such a cool experience!

When Al and I met in 2010, the last two movies were being released. They were awesome! It was so great to see all eight movies in theaters over the course of several years.

I distinctly remember Al and his brother Nick getting up at the crack of dawn on Black Friday, 2011, to pick up the entire series on Blu-Ray from Best Buy. I didn’t join them for the trip, but I have enjoyed having them available to watch over and over.

We have epic adventures

Over the almost five years that Al and I have been together, we have had so many adventures! Most of them have revolved around movies. We love checking out the newest releases in our local theaters.

But we love getting out of the house and the theaters, too. We’ve enjoyed exploring different areas of Hampton Roads and beyond!

For more on the adventures we’ve embarked upon, check these out:

Galaxies Far Far Away

Star Wars. Enough said.

Photo Credit: Debbie Vardaro

Halloween, 2011. Photo Credit: Debbie Vardaro

I loved this post on a Star Wars Facebook group today:

Image Credit: Julie Bowser

Image Credit: Julie Bowser

Yeah. December 18th. I have my Yoda shirt all ready to go!

We Do Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Stuff

Doctor Who is pretty rad. Al’s brother got into it, and as a result, we have watched several episodes together. It’s an interesting concept, time travel. And it’s amazing that DW has been airing since 1963!

Tidewater Comicon, May 2015.

Tidewater Comicon, May 2015.

Going Where No Man Has Gone Before

Al and I love Star Trek. We’ve seen all the movies, and Al has almost all the series saved in his Netflix queue. My personal favorite is TNG, but I have enjoyed watching all of them over the years. The new movies are great, and I look forward to more!

The odds are ever in our favor

I got hooked on The Hunger Games trilogy almost immediately. Reading the three books in rapid succession only furthered my interest in both reading and writing young adult literature. The movies have been great too. I’m kind of sad because the movie series is coming to an end in November! But, I plan to re-read the books and keep them, and the movies, in my collection forever.

We do cosplay and passion

Buying costumes and thinking of new ideas has become so much fun!

Al and I started dressing up for Halloween together in 2011.

Then, over the last three years, we’ve had a lot of fun:

Photo Credit: Lane Bellar

Halloween, 2012. Photo Credit: Lane Bellar

Photo Credit: Debbie Vardaro

Halloween, 2013. Photo Credit: Debbie Vardaro

Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Halloween, 2014. Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Special Ghostbusters Jamberry nail wraps. Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

In May, Al and I embarked on our first comic-con adventure together. It was so awesome!

Image Credit: Al Vardaro

Image Credit: Al Vardaro

The dates for 2016 was recently announced: May 21-22.

For more info, check them out: Tidewater Comicon.

So excited!

We also recently learned that there will be a Hampton Comicon! Go to their Facebook page and click Like and Share!

I look forward to building my Stargirl cosplay for 2016 🙂

In addition to comicons, Al and I also like Superman:

Facebook Credit: Al Vardaro

L to R: LB, Jesse, and Al. Facebook Credit: Al Vardaro

We are looking forward to the new Supergirl TV series this fall, as well as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice when it’s released in March.

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

We also watch The Flash on TV every week – Grant Gustin is a local boy! Besides that, it’s an awesome show too. Check it out, season 2 is coming soon, Wednesday nights on the CW!

So, I’m definitely a nerd and a geek, and I’m so damn proud of it. I feel fucking awesome.

I enjoy absolutely everything I talked about here, and even beyond this. To name a few:

  • The Divergent book and movie series
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Comic books
  • Comic Book Men
  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • Tabletop web series on YouTube via Geek & Sundry
  • Back To The Future
  • Jurassic Park

I look forward to passing on all of this, and more, to our kids someday.

Until then, I’ll continue to be enthusiastic in my nerdom!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #25

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

Welcome back! Happy Wednesday!

Today is a bittersweet day. This Writing Wednesdays post marks the last section of the NaNoWriMo novels.

However, this does not mean the end of the Writing Wednesdays posts!

As I start to revise the first draft of my 2012 novel (finally, I know), with the working title of “Experiences at Camp,” I will be sharing the new material, several pages at a time, just like I have here for the last 25 posts.

I’m excited, albeit a little nervous. These three novels are the first ones that I am fully committed to editing and finishing (meaning that I want all three to have an ending, and that ending to land around 50,000 words, which is the ultimate NaNoWriMo goal).

I’m looking forward to this journey!

And now, the conclusion (for now) to “Discussion of Differences.”

That first Skype session charged the six of them. There was pure motivation to get this adventure planned and set in motion. Everyone was electrified, and no one wanted to lose that steam anytime soon.

In between wedding planning, Anabelle’s graduate school work, and looking for a house, Bill and Anabelle set to work on their adventure assignments – Food and groceries, and the general itinerary. Unknowingly, Bethany had essentially married their loves together – Food and travel. Almost every night after that first Skype session, Bill and Anabelle themselves were on Skype, pointing to a huge map of Europe and using all of the Internet resources to put pins and stars on the map – Multi-colored pushpins for traveling, and stars indicating the best food regions, wineries, and more.

Lizzy made it through her finals by the skin of her teeth. She aced all but one of her exams, and her final grades were decent.

Hunter saw the relief in Lizzy as he helped her move out of her LT apartment for the last time. She was finally finished with school – Possibly for forever. She hadn’t breathed a word of graduate school or any further kind of study. Her field was tricky – Double major in microbiology and chemistry – but she was determined to find some sort of job. She knew that it was likely going to be minimum wage and retail, in the beginning anyway. Lizzy did know one thing – She wanted to get that job and save up enough money so that she was out of her mom’s house in the least amount of time.

She was seriously considering moving closer to Hunter – There were more opportunities there, both for entry-level jobs and possible work in her field. There were three major universities within 100 miles of Hunter’s town. She started to entertain the possibility of starting graduate school at one of them and being either a grad assistant or a research assistant while studying – It looked like a win-win. But, for this moment, she wanted to be making money. She wanted to save every penny she could and be back on her own as soon as humanly possible.

In the midst of everything going on with Bill and Anabelle and Lizzy and Hunter, Will was planning his proposal to Bethany. He’d had this tradition of giving her jewelry every Christmas since they’d started dating, and he wanted to give her the ring around that time as well.

He’d already sat down with Bethany’s parents and asked for permission – They said yes.

Mission number one, accomplished.

Now he needed to plan what he considered to be the perfect proposal. They had started talking about engagement and marriage several years prior – Will had basically promised Bethany that his proposal to her would be as romantic and sweet as possible – and he wanted to deliver on that. The problem was, how romantic and sweet could it be around Christmastime? Christmas was such a common time for marriage proposals – Will wanted to do it right, for Bethany.

It got to the point one night where Will was truly stuck. He had tried to think of everything creative, witty, funny, heart-melting, and all of that had basically gotten him nowhere.

He essentially put his head on his computer desk and sighed. (Don’t worry – Bethany was actually with Anabelle, working on her wedding).

The little voice in Will’s head started cheerleading, “Come on, think! You can do this. You love Bethany so much. What would she be blown away by?”

Will started pacing the wood floor of his bedroom, but his own steps were driving him crazy.

Finally, he flopped on his bed on his stomach. Groaning, he rubbed his temples and closed his eyes. He lay there for a few minutes.

He then remembered that his phone had buzzed with a text from someone an hour ago.

Hey, buddy. How’s life treating you in Virginia?

Will smiled. It was his best buddy, C.J. They’d been friends since second grade. C.J. had gone into the military several years earlier and had been shipped off to a base in Arizona. Will had seen C.J. twice in the last four years, so hearing from him was always a treat.

Will typed slowly, Hey, bud. Life’s good. I’m stuck though. I’m trying to figure out how to propose to Bethany.

C.J. laughed. He had married his wife, Carrie, almost two years earlier.

Excited for you, man! That’s great. Bethany’s a great girl, and I’ve seen how happy she makes you. All I can say is – Make this moment something you’ll both remember forever.

Will smiled. All the worry started to clear away. He began to think about their very first date, nearly four and a half years earlier, how Bethany brought that up in conversation a lot, and how so many people thought it was literally perfect.

Thanks, buddy. I feel better already. Miss you. Hope to see you soon!

C.J. chuckled and shook his head.

No problem. Hey, I’m getting out of the force soon. Moving to Wyoming in January or February – You know how stupid the force can be about letting people leave. Once we’re settled, you two should come out and visit! Can’t wait to hear when the engagement’s official.

Will smiled and cleared his messages screen. He saw Bethany’s smiling face back at him. He knew now what to do.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Hampton Roads Edition (Birthday and Bridal Things)

That’s how I felt last weekend – Surrounded by love.

My birthday this year was Friday the 7th. Last year, I started a tradition that I would take the Friday off of my birthday week, to re-charge my batteries and enjoy myself.

This year, I was able to go see my dad at work in Norfolk and take a tour, say hi to his co-workers, that kind of thing. Then, Al’s work is only 10 minutes away, so I went to pick him up. He took me to Uno’s for lunch – Delicious pizza. I treated myself to a mani-pedi in Chesapeake, close to my house. Then, our dear friends Lucy and Emily came to our house for the weekend. My mom had appetizers for everyone, before 10 of us went out to dinner at Olive Garden. After dinner, we had brownies and ice cream for dessert. Yummy!

I received so many nice cards, and several gifts. It was awesome!

On Saturday, I couldn’t sleep past 6:00 a.m. I was so excited.

I got my haircut at the salon, then donated canned food and money to a local high school senior who was trying to fill the bed of his pickup truck to help the local food bank. We found out later that, despite the rain and gloomy weather, he succeeded!

After getting ready, I drove my mom, Lucy, and Emily, and my mom’s best friend Debbie D., to our friend Kathy’s. Months ago, Kathy offered to host a bridal luncheon for me, inviting the bridal party and any other special friends.

L to R: My mom, LB, Al's mom, and Kathy.

L to R: My mom, Karen; LB, Al’s mom, Debbie; and Kathy.

Kathy was such a gracious hostess. The luncheon was catered by another dear friend, Tracy. She is making our wedding cake!

The lunch was amazing, and then the red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting were to-die-for!

This was the luncheon plate. Everyone was raving that it belonged in a magazine! It was almost too pretty to eat!

This was the luncheon plate. Everyone was raving that it belonged in a magazine! It was almost too pretty to eat!

Amazing red velvet cupcakes. Yummy!

Amazing red velvet cupcakes. Yummy!

Before lunch, Kathy had everyone go around the room and say how they knew me and something they appreciated about me. I almost cried. My mom, Al’s mom, and Kathy were struggling to hold in tears. I wish now that I had recorded it. Everyone was so sweet and gracious. They also mentioned Al and how wonderful he is 🙂

Everything was beautifully decorated! Kathy chose burgundy as the theme, based on our wedding colors. So beautiful.

Everything was beautifully decorated! Kathy chose burgundy as the theme, based on our wedding colors. So beautiful.

The vegetable bowl in our everyday china pattern, plus a beautiful leaf-shaped accent piece.

The vegetable bowl in our everyday china pattern, plus a beautiful leaf-shaped accent piece.

Kathy had everyone write recipes on cards for Al and I. Looking forward to getting my own kitchen to make these!

Kathy had everyone write recipes on cards for Al and I. Looking forward to getting my own kitchen to make these!

Kathy’s not a big fan of silly games, but she did have one prepared for us.

This was the list of candy that we had to match to wedding things and phrases. The answers we came up with were hilarious!

This was the list of candy that we had to match to wedding things and phrases. The answers we came up with were hilarious!

Debbie D. won the whole shebang, with 14 right answers!

Debbie D. won the whole shebang, with 14 right answers!

After the game, everyone had coffee, more cupcakes, and enjoyed fellowship. It was so nice to see everyone and catch up, especially with Lane, my Little from AST. She can’t come to the wedding, so I was thrilled that she and her best friend Amber were able to come to the luncheon!

Lane and Amber, best friends for forever!

Lane and Amber, best friends for forever!

Photo montage!

Katie, one of my bridesmaids, and Melissa, my maid of honor, get to know each other.

L to R: Katie, one of my bridesmaids, and Melissa, my maid of honor, get to know each other.

Three out of the four bridal party ladies. They took over this table and wouldn't let me listen in! L to R: Liz, Melissa, and Katie.

Three out of the four bridal party ladies. They took over this table and wouldn’t let me listen in!
L to R: Liz, Melissa, and Katie.

L to R: Amber, LB, and Lane.

L to R: Amber, LB, and Lane.

L to R: Emily, LB, Debbie D., and Lucy.

L to R: Emily, LB, Debbie D., and Lucy.

Group photo! This was the best idea ever. Top Row, L to R: Amber, Katie, Debbie D., Kathy, Lucy, Emily, Melissa, and Liz. Bottom Row: Debbie V., LB, Karen, and Lane.

Group photo! This was the best idea ever.
Top Row, L to R: Amber, Katie, Debbie D., Kathy, Lucy, Emily, Melissa, and Liz.
Bottom Row: Debbie V., LB, Karen, and Lane.

I cannot say thank you enough. What a wonderful weekend!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #10: One Woman’s Horrifying Ordeal – This Is Definitely Not Okay

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language and graphic descriptions of human anatomy.

My friend Justin told me about this story earlier this week. He couldn’t believe it, and neither could I. It makes me sick, but I want to bring awareness to this. I’m certain that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

Buckle up your fucking seat belts, people. This is one bat-shit crazy story.

Here’s the scenario:

You’re a young woman, driving to the store one night to get medicine for your sick mother. You get pulled over by a local sheriff’s deputy, for allegedly running a stop sign. The male officer says he smells marijuana. You’re handcuffed, placed in the officer’s patrol car, and the officer searches your car.

Then, the situation escalates to where a female officer is called to the scene, called in to perform a body cavity search.

That means the female officer was called to search your vagina for the suspected weed.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Would you believe me if I told you that scenario actually happened?

In the end, after being handcuffed and forced to drop your pants IN PUBLIC for said digital search of your vagina, the officers found just 0.02 ounces of marijuana.

Don’t believe me?

The woman’s name is Charnesia Corley. She’s 21-years-old.

Let’s clarify one thing first: There have been conflicting reports / quotes regarding the type of search that Corley endured. Some have said strip search. Many have said body cavity search.

A body cavity search is either a visual search or a manual internal inspection of body cavities such as for prohibited material (contraband), such as illegal drugs, money, jewelry, or weapons.

Body cavities include the nostrils, ears, mouth, navel, penis or vagina, and rectum.

This is far more invasive than the standard strip search, which “is typically performed on individuals taken into custody, either upon police arrest or incarceration at a jail, prison, or psychiatric hospital.”

Back to Corley now. This woman has been speaking her mind since the incident on June 21st, and rightfully so.

The deputies claim she resisted when the female officer told Corley to pull her pants down. Corley responded to the female deputy that she did not have any underwear on. The deputy replied that didn’t matter, pulled Corley’s pants down for her, and told her to bend over. As the deputy stuck her fingers in Corley’s vagina, Corley attempted to stand upright, claiming that the deputy could not do this. The deputy’s response to that, according to Corley, was that “she [the deputy] could do what she wanted because it was a narcotics search.”

At the end of all of this insanity, Corley was charged with resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.

Hold the phone, stop right there.

First of all, this search was conducted in a gas station parking lot, around 10:30 p.m. on the night of June 21st. I understand the searching of the car; that’s normal, standard procedure. Law enforcement is allowed to conduct this, so long as the driver of the vehicle gives consent to do so.

Calling for backup is also standard procedure. Calling for a female deputy is also standard, when a search of a female suspect is needed.

HOWEVER – Conducting a body cavity search, in public, for anyone to see?! That’s breaking the fucking law. How ironic.

Many of the links I’ve provided have quotes from Corley’s attorney and others:

“… Unconstitutional …”

“… Blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment …”

“… A clear violation of common protocol for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office …”

The search was conducted “without a warrant …”

You’re damn right.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.[2]

Corley was a victim of unreasonable search and seizure, plain and simple!

Here was one kicker for me:

“To perform a cavity search, deputies should arrest a suspect and take them to an HSCO substation,” the Houston Chronicle noted. “Headquarters downtown even boasts a microwave scanner that can perform the task without intrusion.”


This poor woman. Yes, she was arrested. However, she wasn’t transported to a substation. She was clearly, in my mind, assaulted by these deputies.

To me, none of these three deputies for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office gave a fucking shit about this woman. They blatantly ignored her constitutional rights and publicly humiliated her! They should have stopped the search IMMEDIATELY when Corley protested, saying, “Ma’am, you cannot do this.”

Corley is 21. I can tell, from afar, that she has been traumatized by this horrific ordeal.

However, I’m glad she’s said something. She’s been interviewed multiple times by numerous sources. CNN picked it up on Thursday, so it’s gone international now.

And you know what? That’s a good thing. This should be international news.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed. The ACLU is involved.

I hope, for the love of God, that these deputies get fired. I hope that policies and procedures are reviewed, scrutinized, and CHANGED. They need to be reinforced – Drilled into every deputy’s head.

No wonder citizens are having trouble trusting those in law enforcement.

I hope this story doesn’t fade away. I truly hope Corley gets the justice she deserves.

I hope, once all the legal matters are sorted out, that the media covers it again. I hope it goes international again, honestly.

She’s made her voice heard, and now it’s time for her to be supported. It’s beyond time for change.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #24

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

Happy Wednesday!

Everyone swallowed simultaneously.

“This was really hard for me. I don’t like assigning things to my closest friends. So I wanted to make it as fun as possible, so I thought I would give everyone a topic or topics that suited their interests.

Hunter – Since you mentioned castles, I want you to research and plan our living arrangements.”

Hunter gave a fist pump. “Alright! I’ve already started looking. This is going to be awesome!”

Bethany smiled and felt a little bit of relief.

“Bill – You’re our resident expert on food. You worked at the grocery store for many years, and I think you’d be great for this task. I want you to find out as much as you can about restaurants, markets, grocery stores, and so on.

Anabelle – Since you’ve traveled so much here in the U.S., I want to you to be the main planner of the itinerary, including transportation.”

Bethany paused to catch her breath. She glanced at the monitors – The smiles were all she needed.

She turned to Will next. “Baby, I want you to help design this trip. I think it’d be awesome if you’d be willing to photograph and take video of our adventure.”

Everyone nodded. Bethany took a deep breath – Only one person remained.

“Lizzy. I saved you for last for a reason. I wanted to get to know you first. I think you’d be great in helping us with languages. You’re one of the smartest people in this group. I want you to help us with our Spanish, English, French, German, and any other languages we may need to learn along the way. Are you okay with that?”

Bethany focused on the screen that showed Lizzy’s face. It was hard to read her at first; her eyes were downcast.

Suddenly, her head popped up. Bethany caught a glimpse of a smile at the corners of Lizzy’s mouth.

“Well, B., I thought you’d never ask. I guess I should probably share this with everyone – Did you know that I’m tri-lingual?”

Everyone cheered. The plan was officially in place.

As everyone started chattering away, exactly like the other meetings had gone, Bethany flopped back into the pillows and sighed. She couldn’t believe her luck. She had worked so hard, for so long, to try to delegate as best as she possibly could. And it appeared that everyone not only approved of the entire plan, but everyone was thrilled with it.

All the worry, anxiety, tension – along with that constant pit in her stomach that had taken residence over the last two months – just melted away like after-dinner mints did in her mouth.

She just watched with content as the Skype session stretched into the fourth hour of non-stop talking and excitement. There was no immediate indication of worry over money, or their jobs, or their current livelihoods in that particular moment – It was just pure joy. Everyone was excited about their tasks at hand and they couldn’t wait to get started.

The conversation died down a little, and Hunter noticed Bethany wasn’t speaking.

“Bethany? Hello? Anybody home over there?”

Hunter knocked on the computer screen to get her attention.

Everyone fell into silence, except for the faint clearing of throats.

Bethany flushed a rosy pink.

“Um, hey.”

She waved her hand.

Hunter looked puzzled and a tad worried. “Everything okay over there? You’ve barely said three words in the last hour.”

Everyone’s eyes focused on hers.

Bethany swallowed, struggling to get the right words. She felt tears coming to her eyes.

Will released her hand and put his arm around her shoulders.

“Everything okay, baby?”

Bethany nodded. She sniffled a couple of times, and then looked directly into the camera and smiled.

“I’m good. I’m just – I’m just …”

No one spoke.

Bethany swiped at her eyes.

“I’m just proud. And excited. And overwhelmed.”

She sniffled again and asked Will for a tissue.

“I’ve been so worried over the last several weeks. I wanted to make this fun. I don’t have a lot of experience with management, but I didn’t want to make this feel like a job, either …”

She sighed, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath before continuing.

“Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m so happy that y’all are happy. I tried so hard to make each of your tasks fun, something that you would enjoy, and make sure everyone was contributing equally.”

She took another deep breath. She couldn’t contain the grin on her face.

“So, now let’s plan the biggest adventure of our lives – Together!”

Everyone let out another cheer.

If that weren’t any indication of the excitement, the Skype session went on for four more hours …

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Doswell, VA Edition (Kings Dominion Getaway)

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Image Credit:

The last weekend in July, Al and I road-tripped up to Doswell, Virginia, the home of Kings Dominion!

Neither of us had been back to KD for several summers, so we were looking forward to meeting up with Katie, Brian, Mike, Justin, and Heaven for a little weekend getaway.

We all stayed at the Best Western Kings Quarters, which was on the KD property. Justin and Heaven had gone on their own mini-vacation in June and recommended the KD package, which included the room reservations and tickets to the park. The hotel was awesome! There was a full-service Denny’s in the place, where we enjoyed a group dinner together on Saturday night. The food was excellent too, and all the staff were so nice and friendly.

Al and I arrived on Saturday afternoon, after a frustrating morning of several traffic jams. While planning this trip, Katie and Justin made a deal. Katie would wear a Ravens shirt, if Justin wore a Steelers shirt. So, naturally, I knew I had to show up in my new Packers shirt 🙂

L to R: Justin, Laura Beth, and Katie

L to R: Justin, Laura Beth, and Katie.

Even though we could walk to the park from the hotel lobby, Al and I decided to fork over the $15.00 for parking. As we pulled up to the attendant, $20 bill in hand, she looks me up and down. She smiles and says, “What is that on your shirt?”

“That happens to be a Green Bay Packers shirt, ma’am.”

She got so excited she could hardly speak.

“Wow … That’s so awesome … Wow! Well, you know what, you made my day … I’d show you my Packers tattoo if I could [on her leg/ankle] … But because of that shirt, no charge for you two!”

Al and I look at each other, dumbfounded

“Uhhhhh … Wow! Thank you, so much. Who are we to argue?”

She smiles and hands us the $20 back.

“Go Packers, and welcome to Kings Dominion! Have a great day!”

Saturday was full of great fun. The photo above was taken after we’d gotten completely soaked on White Water Canyon.

All of us rode Intimidator 305, except for Justin and Mike. After waiting a fairly long time, we all realized that we were actually in line for the first row. I’m not normally scared of any roller coasters or heights, but that realization made my stomach sink.

Brian rode by himself. Katie and Heaven rode together next. Al and I were last. I remember watching the lift cable come down to hook up to the train and I look at Al, feeling panicky, yelling, “This was NOT A GOOD IDEA!”

For the first time in my life, I closed my eyes on a roller coaster. Sure, it was only about 10 seconds of that first drop, but I was absolutely terrified. It was such a rush though! My hands didn’t stop shaking until about five minutes after we got off the ride though.

I was happy that we rode first row on one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world, but I can’t say I’ll be doing that again.

The rest of Saturday was spent walking the park, catching up, and making our way to the newly-expanded Soak City water park. It was crazy crowded, but I was impressed. It felt like a mini-Water Country was dropped in the middle of Kings Dominion!

Paradise Plunge was one of the best decisions. You step into one of three chambers, either red, yellow, or orange, and cross your arms and ankles. Then, the floor suddenly drops out and you plunge feet-first. It was such an awesome ride!

Al and I both wore our FitBits for the majority of the weekend (We didn’t take our chances at Soak City – They’re not supposed to be submerged at all), and we both clocked around 25,000 steps by the end of Sunday!

We wrapped up at the park and headed back to the hotel for showers and relaxing. We all met up for dinner. Later on, we met up in the room that Katie, Brian, and Mike had reserved. Katie brought Cards Against Humanity, and Al and I brought Epic Spell Wars. We had a great time; we stayed up past 1:00 a.m. killing each other with amazing spells and laughter.

The other awesome thing that happened was Justin had a small gift for Al and I. He had found a frame with a bunch of vintage Star Wars cards online, and he gave us the cards. It’s so cool! I don’t have a picture at the moment, but being surprised with those, knowing that we are big Star Wars fans, was AWESOME!

Sunday was a slower day. We all met up for lunch at the Jukebox Diner – Delicious burgers!

The Juke Box Diner, seen from the Eiffel Tower observation deck.

The Juke Box Diner, seen from the Eiffel Tower observation deck.

We hung out for a few more hours, and then capped off the weekend by exploring the replica of the Eiffel Tower.

The base of the tower, waiting for the elevator to take us to the observation deck.

The base of the tower, waiting for the elevator to take us to the observation deck.

Best Western Kings Quarters, seen from the Eiffel Tower observation deck.

Best Western Kings Quarters, seen from the Eiffel Tower observation deck.

Panorama of the park, including Volcano and Intimidator 305.

Partial panorama of the park, including Volcano and Intimidator 305.

Justin and Laura Beth.

Justin and Laura Beth.

Al and Laura Beth :)

Al and Laura Beth 🙂

Photo montage!

Re-creation of a photo that was taken in 2010. L to R: Laura Beth, Brian, and Katie

Re-creation of a photo that was taken in 2010.
L to R: Laura Beth, Brian, and Katie.

The whole gang! L to R: Al, Laura Beth, Brian, Justin, Heaven, Katie, and Mike.

The whole gang!
L to R: Al, Laura Beth, Brian, Justin, Heaven, Katie, and Mike.

WindSeeker ascending - View from the Eiffel Tower observation deck.

WindSeeker ascending – View from the Eiffel Tower observation deck.

The guys. L to R: Al, Justin, Brian, and Mike.

The guys.
L to R: Al, Justin, Brian, and Mike.

The girls. L to R: Laura Beth, Heaven, and Katie.

The girls.
L to R: Laura Beth, Heaven, and Katie.

The Longwood crew! All five of us are Longwood University graduates :)

The Longwood crew! All five of us are Longwood University graduates 🙂

Heaven and Justin holding "Robin," their prize from one of the arcades.

Heaven and Justin holding “Robin,” their prize from one of the arcades.

Thanks for the memories, KD!

The Kings Dominion 40th Anniversary sign.

The Kings Dominion 40th Anniversary sign.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #9: The Medicaid Gap

“People in Medicaid ought to have access to the same insurance as the rest of the population. If they are segregated, it will be a poor plan for poor people.” ~John Goodman

This post was inspired by a post on the National Public Radio (NPR) Facebook page.

The story was titled, In Florida, A Former Fast-Food Worker Lands In Medicaid Gap.

Cynthia Lewis is caught between a rock and a hard place. Reading her story made me sick. She dropped her Burger King-sponsored insurance because of the cost, but then she got sick. Needing insurance, she thought she could get Obamacare subsidies.


Then, she thought she could get Medicaid in Florida.

Not so – She makes too much money.

Also, Florida is one of the states that has not expanded Medicaid.

“… The popular description of Medicaid is that it’s health insurance for the poor.

But in fact it’s more complicated.

To qualify you usually have to also have meet another condition: be pregnant, have a dependent child or a disability. And within each of those groups, there’s even more restrictions.

For example, in a family of four, the most the parents can make to qualify for Medicaid in Florida is just under $8,500. A single parent who makes $6,000 a year and has one kid earns too much to qualify for Medicaid. And if someone is single with no dependent kids and isn’t disabled, no matter how little he or she makes, he or she can’t get Medicaid in the state …”

What the hell?

Depending on where you live, Florida contains some of the priciest real estate. These numbers that were quoted are staggering, and sickening. There are so many that live below the poverty line. And those that are the most vulnerable, especially the children, can’t qualify for insurance coverage from the United States government?

If you divide a $8,500 annual salary by 12, before taxes, that worker only makes $708.33 per month. In probably 99 percent of this great country of ours, a monthly salary like that won’t cover rent. And then after paying the rent/mortgage you still have the bills/utilities, get food, gas for your vehicle or public transportation to get to work, things for your kid(s), medicine, and more.

Cynthia’s story inspired me to do some research.

Medicaid was created fifty years ago this year, in 1965. President Johnson helped enact Medicaid for the poor (and Medicare for the elderly), becoming Title 19 of the Social Security Act. Since then, it’s had a lengthy and complicated history.

Although Medicaid was originally designed as a federal partnership, Florida is one of 21 states that has not expanded Medicaid, after the Supreme Court gave states that option.

I live in Virginia. Virginia is also one of those 21 states that has not expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income adults.

As of May 2015, nearly 960,000 people in Virginia were enrolled in Medicaid and The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In comparison, throughout the nation, a total of 71.6 million are currently enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Since the July-September 2013 reporting period, over 12.8 million people enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.

To be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, it is based on an application and review of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) levels.

Health insurance is so important, for everyone that you know. It makes me livid that there are so many that are stuck in this Medicaid gap. Most of these people are like Cynthia – They’re caught in the middle between expensive work-sponsored insurance plans and not qualifying for Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid.

I understand the reasoning behind the Supreme Court passing this power to expand Medicaid to the individual states, but, at the same time, that doesn’t solve the problem. Listening to the news reports when Virginia was wavering back and forth between expanding and not, I tried to see all viewpoints. It’s tough though, hearing the governor of your state quote that this expansion will cost the Commonwealth millions of dollars, when there are countless people in the Commonwealth that would greatly benefit from getting Medicaid coverage. It’s a terrible power struggle, and it comes down to one of the biggest and oldest motives – Money.

For more information, check out these links:

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #23

Image Credit: The Writer's Circle Facebook Page

Image Credit: The Writer’s Circle Facebook Page

Welcome back!

Happy Wednesday!

B&W again. Skype works for us. It’s definitely not preferred, but Lizzy’s right. At least we’ll get to see each other’s faces while communicating. We’re in.

Bill and Anabelle went next:

Skype has always been interesting to us, though we’ve never used it. Let’s try it and see what happens!

Lizzy and Hunter brought up the rear:

Same here. It’ll be like a six-way phone call, but being able to see each other’s faces!

The planned Skype session also allowed a bit of flexibility for the group – It didn’t have to happen on a Saturday exclusively. This made it slightly easier to schedule.

As they started discussing potential dates and times, Bethany’s mind continued to wander.

“I didn’t want to do this, since we’re meeting over Skype this time. But, I can’t wait much longer, either. If I wait until our next face-to-face meeting, it may be too late.”

“I guess I should talk to Will about this – Get his thoughts on it. This is a predicament. It won’t be easy. I don’t like telling people what to do.”

As Bethany continued down the rabbit hole of worry and concern, everyone else was getting excited. It was actually really nice to be able to plan a meeting on a different day other than Saturday! Of course, it would most likely turn out to be a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon, since most everyone worked from roughly 8-5. And even though Anabelle and Lizzy weren’t officially working, those hours were basically dedicated to school. So their options came down to evenings and weekends.

Everyone liked a switch of pace though. The thought of using Skype and how it had worked for Bethany and Will in the beginning of their relationship was encouraging to Anabelle and Bill, and Lisanna and Hunter. The four of them knew that saving money was becoming essential, and if they got good at Skype, then this little service could potentially save a lot of gas and time for them.

Unbeknownst to Will and Bethany, the other two couples started practicing with Skype. Over time, it grew on them. Within a few days, Anabelle and Bill were using it almost daily. Hunter and Lisanna were Skyping a couple of days per week, and it instantaneously improved Lizzy’s mood and helped bridge the two-hour distance.

Within a week of the Skype suggestion, everyone had blocked out Sunday, December 14th. That was the test day, to see if this idea would work with six people.

Skype was also improving more than the distance. Hunter and Lisanna started getting creative with it, and quickly. It wasn’t nearly the same as Hunter being in the room with her, but she was in the privacy of her apartment bedroom. The first couple of days, she kept her shirt on. She did like to pull surprises on him, so one night, she sat at her desk in just a bra. Hunter salivated at the sight when he first saw her on the screen.

“I could definitely get used to this,” Hunter thought as his eyes focused on her chest.

“Maybe this long-distance thing won’t be so bad for a little while longer.”

Anabelle and Bill weren’t getting that creative, but it didn’t stop Bill from having similar thoughts and desires. However, he knew he shouldn’t push anything. Their argument that happened on Thanksgiving Day still smarted a bit. He didn’t want to push her away any further. Besides, he wanted her to take control of that ship, at first. They were trying to wait to have sex until their marriage, but since they had gotten engaged, it was becoming increasingly difficult. Bill desperately wanted to take it to the next level.

Bill whispered to himself, “Oh, Anabelle, if only you knew. I’ve held you and caressed you, but I want you. I want to make love to you. So badly!”

Anabelle was trying to put those thoughts out of her mind. She knew that when a camera was involved, anything could happen. She wanted to go farther with Bill. Sure, they’d definitely made out a ton, and let their fingers wander below their belts a couple of times, but Bill had never seen her naked. The closest thing was one day at the beach – Bill had had his shirt off and Anabelle had been in a bikini. Either way, she still flushed beet-red at the memory. She was already trying to mentally prepare herself for their wedding night. She knew sex was coming, but she didn’t know when that first time would happen. Ever since Bill had proposed, those thoughts had definitely increased. But, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to go all the way with him prior to their wedding. She wanted to honor her faith, but she knew that both Bethany and Lisanna weren’t virgins.

As Bethany tried to climb out of her imaginary rabbit hole, Will was trying to get her attention.

“Hello?” Will mimics knocking his fist on her forehead. “Anybody in there? It’s like you disappeared.”

Bethany shook her head back and forth, to make the rabbit hole go away. “I’m back. I did disappear, in a way. I got lost in a hole with my own thoughts. It felt like I kept falling deeper into darkness, so much worry. Fear. Anxiety. With every new meeting we plan, it only increases. That’s bad – I just know it!”

Will embraced her. “Shh, it’s okay. We keep saying how big of a deal this is.”

Bethany looked at Will with big eyes. Will sighed and continued, “Baby, I promise it’s alright – It’s perfectly normal to feel fearful, anxious, scared, worried. This is a big step, for all of us. This is why we haven’t told anyone else yet. We need to basically have the whole plan in place before word gets out.”

Bethany swallowed hard, but said nothing. Everyone had kept the secret safe, so far.

“I know you’re scared. I am, too. This is a major change. But – You’ve done a great job planning so far. I have the utmost confidence that we are going to come up with a great plan. But, until then, this stays under wraps. I know you know that though.”

Bethany looked up at him. Will’s lips met her forehead.

She swallowed again. “It will be a great plan. But we just need to take it one day at a time.”

The Sunday Skype session finally arrived. The multiple two-way tests of the system had been wildly successful, and that was putting it mildly. Even Bethany and Will had tested it a couple of times, even though they were only six miles apart from each other.

There wasn’t a set start time, just whenever all six of them could join in. Everyone was on edge; it was going to be interesting to see how a six-way conversation would turn out.

Bethany and Will realized that they could join the session together, so really it would be a five-way conversation rather than six.

Maybe that would help, they thought.

The green phone started ringing and vibrating. Will clicked a couple of times, and Hunter’s face appeared in one corner of his monitor. Hellos were exchanged and then the phone rang again – It was Bill. The ladies brought up the rear – Anabelle joined in and then Lisanna was last, with an apology about unpacking and the mess behind her. Everyone laughed.

Bethany held the journal up to the camera so everyone could see it.

“I’m so glad that Skype’s working so far. I don’t think we’ll meet this way every single time, but this is a nice alternative to using gas.”

Everyone laughed and heads nodded. Money was top priority and was at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Bethany continued, “Since last we met, the journal is now complete!”

Everyone clapped and cheered.

“It is exciting. I’m so happy that we all worked together to fill this book. But, I do have an announcement to make.”

No one said anything. It was as if everyone was holding their breath, even Will sitting next to her.

“One of the reasons I started this journal was to explore everyone’s interests. I want everyone to participate in this adventure as equally as possible. So, I wanted to give everyone a job, of sorts.”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂