Adventure Time: Hampton Roads, VA Edition (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Weekend)

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The weekend before Christmas, Al and I hosted our group of friends for the first time! We had so much fun.

The main reason we got together: Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!

Everyone was so excited!

On Friday afternoon, I was able to leave work early, around 3:30 p.m. I was making spaghetti for everyone for dinner. Drew was waiting for me outside the house since he was able to work an earlier shift. He brought all of his stuff inside as I finished the last-minute cleaning and prepping.

Al arrived home from work as I started warming up the noodles and sauce, and baking the garlic bread. He brought home the ingredients for Sunday breakfast, along with a bunch of assorted sodas. He and Drew chattered away about Marvel and Star Wars. The house smelled amazing!

Justin kept me updated on their travels via text, since Heaven was driving. The two of them and Katie arrived almost simultaneously. Dinner was ready, and it turned out great!

After dinner, we relaxed and enjoyed our first true Secret Santa gift exchange. My maid of honor, Melissa, took our six names and assigned three sets of pairs via Facebook messages after Thanksgiving. We were all brimming with anticipation!

Our pile of gifts!

Our pile of gifts!

Justin gave Al a Funko Pop! Star Wars First Order Snowtrooper!

Justin gave Al a Funko Pop! Star Wars: First Order Snowtrooper!

Drew gave Justin a Jack Skellington stocking cap!

Drew gave Justin a Jack Skellington stocking cap!

Heaven gave Laura Beth two things: A book about blogging and writing, and a journal!

Heaven gave Laura Beth two things: A book about blogging and writing, and a journal!

Katie gave Heaven two things: An owl necklace and earrings set, and a owl wall hanger with hooks!

Katie gave Heaven two things: An owl necklace and earrings set, and a owl wall hanger with hooks!

Then, unfortunately, both sets of my camera batteries died! So, Al took over the photos with his phone.

Laura Beth had a special Wolverine commission done for Drew! Check out "SavyArt" on Facebook for more information! Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Laura Beth had a special Wolverine commission made for Drew! Check out SavyArtΒ for more information! Savy happens to be my future sister-in-law, and she is epic!!
Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Al bought Katie a Steelers stocking cap! Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Al bought Katie a Steelers stocking cap!
Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

To end the night, we played Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre! Drew was the newbie, and it was awesome!!

On Saturday morning, Al left early to get O’doodle Doo’s donuts! Yum!!

We watched so many Player Piano videos! Sonya is amazing!!

After breakfast, for the first time, we split into guys and girls. The girls were on a mission: Going to LUSH in MacArthur Mall in Norfolk. It was amazing!

Heaven brought half of her makeup to the house, so she gave Katie and myself amazing makeovers!

Heaven doing LB's makeup :) Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

Heaven doing LB’s makeup πŸ™‚
Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

The finished product at Gianna's! Katie went with an 80s look, and I went for a more natural look. Heaven, you're hired! Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

The finished product at Gianna’s! Katie went with an ’80s look, and I went for a more natural look. Heaven, you’re hired!
Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

We visited Gianna’s for lunch. I tried their subs for the first time – Delicious!

Then … It was time for STAR WARS!!!!!!

I took the pledge online to keep my social media accounts free of any spoilers for at least one week after the movie premiered.

Since it’s been approximately 13 days now, I feel it’s now safe to divulge my thoughts.


I never saw any of the previous movies in theaters, not even the prequels. So this was my first time seeing a Star Wars movie on the big screen.

And holy moly, worth it, it was!

I love the direction they are going.

Rey is awesome.

Poe is kick-ass.

Finn is my favorite πŸ™‚

BB-8 captured my heart from the first trailer well over a year ago.

I squealed when Han Solo, Chewie, and now-General Leia appeared on-screen.

A few observations:

  • Jakku is indeed a graveyard in hell. Most deserts are!
  • The visual effects are absolutely fucking stunning. So much eye candy!
  • The scenery is top-notch. I want to go to every single place where they filmed. I hope TFA gets nominated at the Oscars for visual effects and cinematography!
  • The humor was fantastic! One of my favorite scenes in the whole movie was where Poe and Finn escaping in the TIE Fighter!
  • I totally did not see Han Solo’s terrible demise coming! I teared up!
  • I was so excited when R2-D2 came out of low power mode!
  • I forgot how annoying C-3PO can be! Especially his voice, it grates my nerves a bit.
  • Initially, I didn’t like how they waited to feature Luke Skywalker at the very end, for the last couple of minutes, without any lines! However, now having seen the movie three times (Thursday the 17th, Saturday the 19th, and Tuesday the 22nd), I understand why they did it. It makes me so ready for Episode VIII. Memorial Day Weekend 2017!
  • All the theories about Rey being Luke’s daughter: I can picture that, but I’m not a 100 percent believer, just yet.

For dinner, we headed toΒ JONES’ Restaurant in Portsmouth. Some of the best Southern food around! Justin and Heaven had never experienced it until now. The chicken is worth the 15-minute wait!!

Our waitress, Diane, was the best! She saw all of us in our varying Star Wars shirts and walking up to our table, she says, “Are y’all coming from or going to?”

Drew brought his awesome s’mores maker again! Al and I bought the ingredients, including special s’mores-style marshmallows that were square! How cool is that?!

To cap off the night, we played a nice round of Munchkin πŸ™‚

On Sunday morning, Al and I made breakfast. Okay … Al made most of it! Scrambled eggs, amazing Smithfield cherrywood bacon (!!), and we tested our new Keurig Carafe. I was in charge of the toast and overall distribution.

Lesson learned – Buy more bacon next time! Yummy!!

Before everyone headed home in the afternoon, we played a fantastic game of Cards Against Humanity! So much fun πŸ™‚

As I finish this post, it’s the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. Wow, 2015 has been one of the fastest years yet!

I want to say thank you to all of you, my readers. I started blogging (again) almost two years ago. Because of you, readers, I have grown in so many ways with this writing adventure and endeavor. Thank you!

I never imagined that this little blog of mine would be read across the country, much less around the world. Wow. I look at my WordPress Stats page often, and I’m so tickled when I see a reader from another country. Thank you!

I look forward to writing a lot more in 2016!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season so far.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Commentary #13: “20 Ways Being Left-Handed Impacts Your Health”

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“There are so many artists that are dyslexic or learning disabled, it’s just phenomenal. There’s also an unbelievably high proportion of artists who are left-handed, and a high correlation between left-handedness and learning disabilities.” ~Chuck Close

In one of my more recent Commentary posts, I mentioned how I peruse CNN almost every day. Well, I stumbled upon another nugget for you!

I give you: 20 Ways Being Left-Handed Impacts Your Health

Some of you may not know that I’m left-handed. And I’m damn proud of it!

Here’s my take on the 20 things. Enjoy!

It’s not just genetics

For years, I thought it was genetic and/or hereditary. My dad is left-handed, and I have his eyes and his hair. A few other family members, on my dad’s side, are left-handed. So that’s where my thinking laid, for a long time. And apparently, left-handedness does tend to run in families!

It’s linked to stress in pregnancy

Oh dear. This is gonna be fun in a few years!

In all seriousness though, reading the summaries of the studies in the article was interesting, and a little frightening. I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) earlier this year. I see a lot of yoga, coloring, reading, and writing when I get pregnant!

It’s more common in twins

This was interesting. I am not a twin, but my mom’s mom had twins that died at birth. When I first met Al, I quickly learned that twins are far more common in his family – His dad has an older brother and sister who are fraternal twins. In addition, there is a line of twins on his dad’s side, but there’s a twist: They historically skip every other generation. Since it occurred in his dad’s generation, and then skipped Al’s generation, it’s thought that I may have them one day. It was so weird to hear that though – I always had this notion of having twins, even as a young child. So strange! But, only time will tell πŸ™‚

It doesn’t make you “right-brained”

Huh. This was a doozy. The study of the brain – The left brain and right brain – has fascinated me for several years. We all use the entirety of our brains, all for different functions, but seeing the percentages in the article raised my eyebrows.

It may cause you to think differently

I had to read this section twice, but I understood it. I tend to be drawn toward things on my left side. I’m not sure how “good” those things are. I think of it in a scientific sense: Since I am left-handed, it makes sense that I would naturally be drawn to or pay more attention to things on my left, rather than my right.

It can affect school performance

I knew it!! Just in a different way, haha. My biggest struggle throughout my schooling has been math. However, the inference to mild learning disabilities is spot-on, for me. I was born at 25 weeks. I had massive early intervention, with all sorts of therapy – Speech, physical, occupational. You name it, I was in it. Also, I was essentially held back for a year in elementary school, and it was exactly what my brain and body needed. I believe it contributed to my maturity and early connection with adults.

It’s linked to a risk of mental health problems

Interesting. As I mentioned earlier, I was recently diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I wish that this article had links to the cited studies. But, I agree with the links to ADHD and some mood disorders – Those fit my history.

It does offer an advantage in sports

For me, sports are unique. I throw with my left. But in terms of stances (batting, putting, etc.) or kicking, I stand to the right, or I use my right foot. But the article inferred something that makes perfect sense – When facing a left-hander, left-handers have an advantage, because it’s basically mirror imagery!

It may make for better fighters

Ha! Laura Beth, world champion boxer. Yeah, right! Although, I do like the idea of developing a strong left hook.

It doesn’t make you more creative

Interesting. I like the idea of “divergent thinking.” But, I also agree with examining the overall creative achievements of a person. Some people, no matter what hand they use, are just incredibly gifted and talented.

It doesn’t mean you’re artsy

Makes sense. Al is far more “artsier” that me, and he’s right-handed. And by “artsier,” I mean that he studied graphic design and animation. He’s a far better photographer and videographer. He has that eye for detail. He’s a whiz with Photoshop and InDesign.

On the other hand (no pun intended), we agree that I’m a stronger writer and editor. I grew up playing and performing music (piano, viola, and some voice), and I studied the visual arts in high school, enjoying pastels and a little bit of drawing.

It’s linked to a higher risk of breast cancer

Hmmmmm. According to the article, the highest risk is after menopause. Still – I’m gonna keep an eye on things.

It doesn’t affect your general health

With the exception of inflammatory bowel disease, of course. Yuck. Lucky for me, that hasn’t happened, so far!

It’s linked to some sleep problems

So, kicking my mom when I had a bad dream and slept in her bed wasn’t on purpose! It’s scientifically proven, Mom!

It doesn’t impact longevity

“Zero effect on lifespan,” says the author. Whew!

It may up the risk of PTSD

Interesting. I’m definitely not a horror movie fan, at all. I can’t watch certain shows anymore, like ones that I used to love years ago (CSI, Criminal Minds, etc.) I’m a visual person, so I’m easily scared if I can picture a graphic image. Even hearing someone recount a scene from a movie or TV show can make me jump or shiver. It’s strange, but true.

It doesn’t make you a bigger drinker

Left-handedness has nothing to do with alcohol consumption. I’m not a big drinker, by any means. I enjoy a Corona with lime on occasion and there are days where I need a glass of wine (or two), but I’m not going nuts every single night or hitting up the bars or clubs every weekend. Not me!

It might mean you earn less money

I was initially taken aback by this observation, but after re-reading it, it’s interesting to ponder. The research cited shows a significant difference in the gap between left-handed and right-handed women workers. Hmmmmm.

Overall, handedness doesn’t really matter

I agree with the statement that ” … the differences between righties and lefties are really rather subtle, and of much greater scientific interest than any kind of practical use …” Reading all these summaries of research and studies has certainly peaked my curiosity. I was also curious to see that research is planned for more right-handers and their brains, since so much focus has been placed on lefties and those who are mixed-handed or ambidextrous.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚