Getting Personal #183: September Goals Recap

BeautyBeyondBones 16

Image Credit: BeautyBeyondBones

September is a bit of a weird month. The end of summer, the beginning of autumn, and kickoff to the end of the year!

For me, the weather has only felt like fall for a week, a while ago. The mornings are cool, but the high temperatures are still in the 80s and sometimes 90!

Here’s the link to my September Goals post:


Here we go!

Here are my goals for the month of September:

  1. Start my new job! — Accomplished!
  2. Successfully complete my self-imposed “No-Spend September.” — Did not accomplish.
  3. Publish a fun Writing Prompt series during the month. — Accomplished!
  4. Publish four Commentary posts, aiming for one post per week. — Did not accomplish.
  5. Publish all outstanding Tag posts where I’ve been tagged. — Did not accomplish.
  6. Spend time with treasured friends. — Accomplished!
  7. Publish three Book Reviews. — Semi-Achieved.
  8. Participate in decorating duffel bags for local children in foster care. — Did not accomplish.
  9. Begin outlining my plans for NaNoWriMo 2019 in November. — Accomplished!
  10. Reduce clutter throughout the house, aiming for 1-2 hours of work per weekend. — Accomplished!
  11. Purchase a new mattress, bed frame, and nightstands. — Accomplished!
  12. Research area rugs for the living room. — Did not accomplish.
  13. Evaluate my clothing clutter – Decide what to donate or store away. — Accomplished!

I really like my new job. I’m still adjusting, but the biggest difference is the commute. I can get to work in 20 minutes almost every morning! I like my boss, and I have a really good team. I’m so happy I made this decision.

Although I struggled immensely with No-Spend September, I’m much more aware of where my money is going. I now track every dollar I spend, which is my own version of YNAB. I also have a proper notebook now, so I don’t have to write everything on scratch paper. I’m spending a lot less on clothes. I’m also aware of how much I’m eating and snacking, especially at work. My new job has a great cafeteria and a cantina with pick-me-up snacks. And – I haven’t added anything to my credit cards for almost a full month. That’s HUGE!!

I really enjoyed creating the Fall Fridays Writing Prompt series. I have decided to continue it in October, so stop by every Friday for more! (Writing Prompt #239, Writing Prompt #240, Writing Prompt #241)

I wrote one Commentary post: Thoughts on “Mindhunter”

I posted two Book Reviews: “Mosquitoland” and “Glory Be”

With the new job, I struggled with the blog this month. I had a period of self-doubt with my writing. But now, I’m back on the horse, and excited to write about so many things! I’m looking forward to completing my Tag posts, more Commentary posts, more Book Reviews, and continuing my Fall Fridays prompt series.

Al and I cleared a lot of clutter this month! We still have a long way to go, but I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made.

We are really happy with our new mattress, bed frame, and nightstands. We also got awesome under-bed storage drawers. This was also motivating for me to fully clean out my closet, re-organize it, and fill those storage drawers. The last thing I need to do is drop off the donations at the thrift store.

The foster care children duffel bag event was postponed. It has been re-scheduled for the end of October.

Did you have any goals for the month of September? Let me know!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #242: “September WIP Challenge ANNIVERSARY”

September WIP Challenge Anniversary

Image found through Didi Oviatt

Didi has a lot to celebrate every September!

As for me, I celebrate my dating anniversary with Al every year on September 4th.

Here’s the link to Didi’s September WIP Challenge:

Will wanted make their 10th dating anniversary special. Their first date that September Saturday, 10 years before, changed both their lives forever.

Bethany had diagnosed anxiety, but her anxiety preparing for their 10th dating anniversary was especially high. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She wanted to impress Will, knock him out of the park, in some way.

Separately, they had shopped for new outfits. But, they were going to a familiar place. Back to where it all began.

In the driveway that wound around the side of their beautiful house, Will polished his red sports car to perfection. It made Bethany get those butterflies again. She thought about how her brother-in-law’s former girlfriend had pointed out the car was Will’s, all those years ago.

Red was a theme for them, quite by accident. Will’s sports car was red. The top that Bethany wore on their first date was red. It was far too small now, but Bethany never wanted to part with it. She wanted so badly to wear it for the momentous occasion, but she certainly wasn’t 120 pounds anymore.

And red was part of their colors for their beautiful fall wedding. Their 10th dating anniversary in September would be followed by their fifth wedding anniversary in November. They were finally taking a proper week off from work. It was going to be their first significant getaway since their first wedding anniversary. Sad, but true.

Bethany steadied herself as she emerged from the shower, still in the hazy fog of wonderful memories. The red dress she’d found through her favorite consignment group on Facebook had been hidden away for months. She couldn’t wait to surprise Will.

She heard the sports car start up, knowing Will would be inside in just a few minutes.

The door slammed shut, causing the dogs to bark. Will was so good with them. They were quiet again in a minute or two. Bethany didn’t have to say a word.

As Bethany toweled off her hair, she heard Will climb the stairs. She caught her breath.

He let out his customary wolf whistle as he saw the dress hanging on her closet door.

“Wow, Bethany.”

She smiled, opening the bathroom door a crack. Steam, perfume, and deodorant wafted through the air.

“You smell amazing, sweetheart.”

“Thank you, baby.”

“Wanna give me a sneak peek?”

She smiled, unable to resist.

Fooling around was going to make them late for dinner, but neither of them really cared. Bethany loved how Will took his time with her, and enjoyed every inch of her.

When they finished, Bethany flicked her towel at him as he headed toward the shower. She put on the dress, and realized her anxiety was gone.

The sports car shone in the September sunshine as Will drove toward the beach. Bethany felt the butterflies give way to nostalgia and excitement. They were going back to the restaurant where it all began.

Dinner felt like old times, but it was full of reminiscing and making new memories. The food was just as good as it had been 10 years ago.

The symphony was warming up for their concert series as Bethany and Will strolled the boardwalk. The only difference was the musical act, and maybe 10 years of age.

Bethany and Will laughed as they stopped around the same place where Will had kissed her for the first time. Memories flooded both them.

This time, Bethany spoke up first.

“I have something to tell you.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m pregnant.”

Bethany smiled and her eyes filled with tears as she watched Will’s face.


“Yes, really. I took a test this morning. I didn’t think it was true, but it is.”

Will wanted to pick her up and spin her around, but he just kissed her.

The stars and fireworks Bethany had felt 10 years earlier, on that boardwalk on a September Saturday, were still there. And now, they were starting another chapter.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #241: Fall Fridays, Number 3

Autumn Images

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall approaches us, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on three Fridays in September 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

I may extend this further than the end of September, but we shall see. Until then, have fun! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.


Here we go!

  • September 13th: Apple Picking
  • September 20th: Fall Leaves
  • September 27th: Pumpkin Patch

The kids squealed as the bus kicked up dust. They were finally here.

“Field trip!”

Samantha turned toward the window, pressing her forehead to the cool glass. As a first- year teacher, she’d been all gung-ho when school started in early September. She’d had so many fun ideas for her second-grade class.

Now, on a hot bus with three second-grade classes, she was regretting so many things. Not becoming a teacher. Not that. She’d wanted to do that since she’d been in first grade. That was a dream come true.

But, if she’d thought a field trip with 47 kids to the local pumpkin patch on a Friday was a a good idea, she was quickly being proven wrong.

The bus had to be changed at the last minute. She’d experienced the wonderful laws of Murphy at least once every day this week.

She wanted the screaming to stop.

“Mrs. Davis! When can we get off the bus?”

Samantha smiled. The small, sweet voices of her kids were always welcome. It helped quiet the other screaming.

“Just a few more minutes, Ashlyn, okay? I need to do a head count and make sure everyone has their buddy. How does that sound?”

Eight-year-old Ashlyn smiled up at the raven-haired teacher. She’d wanted Mrs. Davis as her teacher this year, prayed for it, but had been assigned Mr. Frost instead.

“Could you go back to your seat, please?”

Ashlyn grinned. “Sure, Mrs. Davis. I’ve been looking forward to this field trip for days!”

Samantha smiled, and hoped Ashlyn hadn’t noticed the pained look in the 24-year-old’s eyes. Kids noticed everything. She knew it was a migraine. And the screaming was still there. Sometimes, she felt like a child, wanting to put her hands over her ears and squeezing her eyes shut, to block it all out.

She breathed deeply, three full times like her therapist had been teaching her. A welcome hush fell over the bus. As she stood next to the driver with the clipboard, all eyes focused on her.

“Okay, Treetop Elementary second-graders! Who’s ready to get this field trip started?”

The bus erupted. The kids’ yells and screams drowned out the others. Samantha smiled, grateful for the momentary distraction.

As Samantha ran through the rules, head count, buddies, and questions, she started to relax. Field trips were a lot of work. Almost too much. But, seeing the kids’ excitement bubbling over like a cauldron was completely worth it.

Mr. Frost looked at Samantha, giving her an encouraging nod. She appreciated the handful of colleagues that had already taken her under their wing. She was glad Mr. Frost and Ms. Gaddis were part of the second-grade team.

“Okay, Treetop second-graders! Let’s get off this bus and take over the pumpkin patch!”

As Samantha stepped aside, she was proud of the kids. They were respectful, and were following instructions and directions really well. Mr. Frost and Ms. Gaddis took over. Samantha stayed behind until the last kid was off the bus, checking for any stragglers or issues. Vomit was not fun, but important to look for.

Finding nothing amiss, Samantha let out another breath. Mr. Frost turned and gave her a thumbs-up.

She climbed off the bus, thanking the driver, smiling as the kids were ready to disappear into the sea of orange pumpkins and the rest of the fall colors.

The screaming was still there. But it wasn’t coming from the kids.

She steadied herself, focusing on a place to sit down. As she found a hay bale, the voices inside her head were telling her horrible things. Frightening things.

She looked up, trying desperately to focus on something else. Anything else. She smiled again as she watched the kids enjoy everything the pumpkin patch had to offer. And they’d only been there for five minutes.

She knew she couldn’t sit on the hay bale forever. At that moment, seven-year-old Fred came into Samantha’s view.

“Come on, Mrs. Davis! I picked out a pumpkin already!”

Samantha smiled. Fred took her hand, and pulled her toward his prize pumpkin, chattering about carving it, toasted pumpkin seeds, and picking out his Halloween costume.

She kept glancing at Fred. He was a godsend. All the kids were.

Fred’s small, excited voice drowned out the others. But, Samantha knew, with dread, the others, the scary ones, would return.

This concludes the September writing prompts!

I have decided to continue this series into October! Come back next Friday for another prompt post!

If you do decide to participate, please link back to this post. Thanks!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #27: Purdue Pharma

Purdue Pharma

OxyContin bottles, the biggest drug made and marketed by Purdue Pharma. Image Credit: CNN

Purdue Pharma announced it was filing for bankruptcy on Sunday, September 15, 2019.

They have been in the news for so long.

What does this mean?

Hopefully this post will show you the history of this company, their impact on the opioid crisis, and what may happen next.

Purdue Pharma History

It was founded in 1892 by medical doctors John Purdue Gray and George Frederick Bingham.

In 1952, two other doctors, Raymond and Mortimer Sackler, bought the company. Older brother Arthur Sackler had a one-third stake in the company, which was sold to his brothers after his death. At that time, the company sold staples such as earwax remover and laxatives.

Purdue Pharma L.P. was incorporated in 1991, focused on pain management medication.

Manufacturing is located at three sites: Wilson, North Carolina; Totowa, New Jersey; and Coventry, Rhode Island.

Sister companies, also controlled by descendants of the Sackler brothers are Napp Pharmaceuticals in the U.K. and Mundipharma. These companies sell opioids globally.

In addition to OxyContin, Purdue makes pain medicines such as hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, and hydrocodone. Contin, a controlled drug-release system was developed in 1972. Its extended-release formulation of morphine, MS Contin, began in 1984.

OxyContin is Purdue’s extended-release formulation of oxycodone. It was released in 1996.

Arthur Sackler pioneered an aggressive marketing strategy decades earlier. Purdue pressed and convinced doctors to prescribe OxyContin, with incentives such as free trips to pain management seminars and paid speaking engagements. The drug was marketed as “smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night” when taken on a 12-hour schedule. In addition, it was touted to have “lower abuse potential than immediate-release oxycodone because of its time-release properties, even though there was no scientific evidence backing that conclusion.”

In 2000, just four years after OxyContin was released, widespread reports of abuse of the drug came to light.

At the same time, OxyContin was a “blockbuster drug” for Purdue. Between 1995 and 2001, OxyContin netted $2.8 billion for Purdue.

The Opioid Crisis

The numbers are staggering. According to an AP article published in January 2019, the opioid crisis killed 72,000 Americans in 2017.

An article from Quartz, published in mid-August 2019, was the summary of a meeting between an ER doctor and a former Purdue Pharma sales representative, and others.

“The company has not only faced public pushback for its role in the opioid crisis, but in 2007 Purdue was found guilty of downplaying the risks and overstating the effectiveness of opioids. The company also used legal marketing practices to boost sales, despite knowing the risks of addiction and dependence. These tactics are now at the center of a host of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors; those suits are currently making their way through the courts in Ohio.”

Some of the statements that Carol, the former sales rep, and Dr. Chris Johnson, made, were staggering.

“I remember hearing rumors early on that the bonuses for the Purdue sales reps were just incredible. Some of them were making $50 or $60,000 a quarter in incentive bonuses.”—Carol Panara, former Purdue sales rep

“Here’s the problem with a capitalist society: They have an incentive in you consuming more health care. You being healthy on your own isn’t good for business.”—Dr. Chris Johnson

Johnson: “With the passage the Affordable Care Act, something came into existence called the Open Payments Act. You can look up and see what doctors have taken gifts from pharmaceutical companies. And it turns out if you want to see where the most opioids deaths are, follow pharmaceutical gifts to doctors. Open Payments shows that half the doctors in this country take gifts from pharmaceutical companies. They’ve all taken the oath. Doctors are terrible at assessing how their influenced.  In my view, rather than relying on raising a hand and taking an oath, disrupt the incentives. Disrupt that reciprocity mechanism to get independent, and I would hope, more scientific thinking.”

In my area of southeastern Virginia, a recent discussion with the Opioid Working Group found that an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people have withdrawn from the Hampton Roads workforce due to opioids.

In short, Purdue knew years ago its drug was dangerous and addictive, but they aggressively marketed it anyway.

What’s Next?

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The intent for this filing was to stop the onslaught of lawsuits that the company has been facing. These lawsuit range from state to local governments, among others.

However, some state attorneys general have made it clear they will be pursuing additional damages from both the company and the Sackler family.

It has been reported that the company assets are not sufficient for the states. As early as last week, the New York attorney general’s office announced it had uncovered $1 billion dollars in wire transfers by the Sackler family.

To me, they’re running scared. This bankruptcy filing is their last resort, desperate to settle out of court.

In March 2019, Purdue and the Sackler family agreed to settle a case with the state of Oklahoma for $270 million dollars.

Twelve years ago, in 2007, a landmark settlement of $634.5 million dollars was reached, based on federal allegations the company had misbranded OxyContin. The company, along with three executives, plead guilty to criminal charges.

Image result for purdue pharma quotes

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I look forward to future media coverage. It’s high time that a company like this is finally held accountable for its actions.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #96: Thoughts on “Mindhunter”

Mindhunter Season 1

Image Credit: Mindhunter Wiki

This show right here. Holy cow!

I had heard many good things about it before I sat down to watch it. I took my time with it – I originally committed to one episode per day. This turned out to be a good thing.

This is one of those shows where you need to block everything else out, or as much as you can. Watching it sucks you in, but my habit of looking at my phone while watching a show or movie was broken pretty quickly. Otherwise, I would miss stuff. I started Episode 1 over at one point, because something interrupted me about 30 minutes in, and I wanted to make sure I was refreshed on the details from the very beginning.

I do have some issues with the show, but overall, I really enjoyed it. I really hope Netflix does a Season 3. I want more!

Season 1 (2017)

The show opens in 1977. Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff, Glee) is introduced to veteran FBI agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany). They begin studying and interviewing murderers in various prisons.

I thought Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper was amazing! It was a bit surreal to hear these actors emulate these horrible men. And the sets looked and felt real!

The pacing was a bit hard to follow sometimes, but I also enjoyed the addition of Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv, Fringe) to the team, and Bill’s wife, Nancy Tench (Stacey Roca) is such a good character.

As you follow Ford, Tench, Carr, and their lives, there are scenes set in Kansas toward the beginning and end of every episode. I thought Sonny Valicenti as the ADT Serviceman was great, but also incredibly creepy! No spoilers — But I highly recommend paying attention to these brief scenes every single time. They are important.

This season was captivating. There is so much going on with these characters! And I enjoy history, so seeing this based on true events in the 1970s was pretty groovy. Haha!

Season 2 (2019)

Image Credit: Mindhunter Wiki

It was perfect timing when I started watching the show. Season 2 dropped on Netflix on August 16th, which happened to be right as I finished up Season 1. I feel bad for everyone else who had to wait two years!

Overall, I liked the angle of Season 2. I knew a little bit about the Atlanta Child Murders before watching the show, but not a lot. I thought it was interesting they focused on it for the majority of the season, if not a bit disappointing.

Maybe it’s just me, but I wanted more about the history and development of the Behavioral Science Unit (BSU).

Regardless, I liked how this season wove the work of the BSU and the ongoing investigation in Atlanta together.

One key piece was Bill struggling to cope with his unfolding family situation in Virginia, while trying to help the investigation in Atlanta. Again, no spoilers, but this was so emotional and real!

Regardless of my slight disappointments, this season felt more emotional and riveting. And the actor they cast to play Wayne Williams is uncanny. The casting was so good!

Also, check out YouTube for several videos on how they made the sets and historical details look so good!

I’m eagerly awaiting the announcement of Season 3!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #240: Fall Fridays, Number 2

Autumn Images

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall approaches us, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on three Fridays in September 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

I may extend this further than the end of September, but we shall see. Until then, have fun! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.


Here we go!

  • September 13th: Apple Picking
  • September 20th: Fall Leaves
  • September 27th: Pumpkin Patch

CW: This is a fictional story, but it does contain violence, guns, and characters who are minors.

The remaining fall leaves on the front lawn were scattered by shotgun blasts.

Adam’s eyes went wide as his wife expertly used the 20-gauge. He had reluctantly agreed to buy it as the leaves had started to turn, strictly as a home defense method after they’d moved into their new house over the summer.

He hadn’t seen Catherine so passionate in months, but he knew she was acting mainly in fear. She took all the safety classes, even joined three Facebook groups for shotgun owners and home defense.

He opened his mouth to say something, but Catherine’s eyes met his. His mouth closed as he reached for the baseball bat under the stairs. Catherine was in war mode.

The storm door, now peppered with pellet holes, made Adam wince, but knew Catherine was only using it because the threat was now real. This “gang” had been tormenting them for months, and Catherine finally had had enough on that cold day in late November.

“Get off my property! NOW!”

The gang, originally ready for what had looked like an easy break-in on the day after Thanksgiving, slowly realized the shotgun was aimed at them.

“Guys, we should go.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”

“We picked the wrong house.”


The gang backed up, almost in unison, and crunched the red and orange maple leaves as their sneakers picked up speed.

The five gang members narrowly escaped another round of pellets as they hit the sidewalk. Aside from the deafening blasts, sirens were coming closer.

As they ran down the block, someone’s shoelace loosened enough, and they tripped.

The first police cars pulled up before the gang could disappear around the next corner.

“Ouch! My arm!”

Officer Jones saw the gang member on the ground, clutching his elbow.

“Are you okay, son?”

“I … think so. Ouch, damn it. My arm – I think it’s broken.”

Officer Jones assessed him quickly, waving over another officer.

“Watch your language, okay, son?”

“He’s not shot, thank goodness. But he does have a broken arm or elbow. Call it in. We need to get the others.”

Officers Graham and Rodriguez hustled down the street. Others joined them via calls on the radio.

About five minutes later, two out of the three were struggling against the officers. The fourth, the self-proclaimed “runner,” had gotten away. Two other officers were headed to find him.

The mix of fall leaves blew against the officers and suspects. None of the suspects had been shot, amazingly, and the deafening blast sounds had ceased.

“Let’s see some ID, please.”

“Back pants pocket, in my wallet, Officer.”

“Here we go. Oh, my God …”

“What is it, Jones?”

“It’s an ID from Heritage Heights. Middle School.”

Two other Heritage Heights Middle School IDs were discovered. The gang members hung their heads, wise to not utter a word. Their faces were ashen as the officers led them back to Adam and Catherine’s house.

Catherine peacefully surrendered the 20-gauge through the intact back screen porch. The entire neighborhood knew the front of the house, the lawn, the sidewalk were all part of the crime scene.

She turned to Adam, and cried into his sweater.

“It’s okay, baby. You stood your ground. It’s all going to be okay.”

The fall leaves were finally still as the chaos of November 26th ended, and the investigation began.

Come back next Friday for another prompt post!

If you do decide to participate, please link back to this post. Thanks!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #239: Fall Fridays, Number 1

Autumn Images

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall approaches us, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on three Fridays in September 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

I may extend this further than the end of September, but we shall see. Until then, have fun! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.


Here we go!

  • September 13th: Apple Picking
  • September 20th: Fall Leaves
  • September 27th: Pumpkin Patch

“What makes you think that going apple picking was a good idea?!”

Cheryl winced at Sam’s words. She tried to listen to him, while holding back hot tears.

“I thought this was going to be a weekend away, Cheryl – A weekend just for us. But, having the kids come along with us? That’s not a weekend away in my book!”

Two-year-old Abby stopped examining her apple, and looked up at her mom. Her face said it all.

Cheryl swayed back and forth, trying to see if baby Ezra was still asleep in the carrier on her chest. At ten pounds, her shoulders ached. He was a beautiful baby, her answer to prayer for a boy, but heavy.

Sam continued. “I can’t believe we drove all this way for this. I would rather be anywhere else than here.”

Cheryl sighed. She loved Sam, but he lost his filter when he got frustrated. This, this was borderline anger though. And it wasn’t the first time.

Abby had moved on to another apple, but didn’t speak. Or dance. Or sing. Cheryl let one tear slip, hoping it didn’t smear the makeup she’d worked so hard to apply that morning.

As Sam started to berate her, growing louder among the beautiful apple orchard, Cheryl adjusted Ezra’s weight. He sighed slightly, and Cheryl knew he wanted to nurse.

“Cheryl? Are you listening to me?”

As she got Ezra settled, she looked at her husband. She nodded, and turned her attention back to Ezra.

“There’s a good boy, my sweet boy.”

“You’re not paying attention to a word I’m saying. Fine. I won’t say anything at all.”

Sam crossed his arms. Cheryl patted Ezra’s back, and kept an eye on Abby. She hated the silent treatment. But only a few words came out of her mouth, with the perfect red lipstick.

“I’m sorry, Sam. I’m sorry. I ruined this. All of this.”

Abby finally spoke up, with her sweet voice breaking the painful silence.

“Mommy, can we pick more apples?”

Cheryl felt another tear escape, but smiled at her firstborn.

“Of course, sweetheart. Let’s go this way.”

Abby smiled, and started singing to herself as Cheryl took her sticky hand. Ezra finished nursing, and burped. Cheryl smiled a little as she walked away from Sam, leaving his plaid shirt and quilted vest behind. She wasn’t sure what was in store after this, but she didn’t care one bit. Her children, sweet and innocent, gave her courage.

Come back next Friday for another prompt post!

If you do decide to participate, please link back to this post. Thanks!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Florida Edition (Round 4 – Family Visit)


One of the views from the boardwalk at John’s Pass, the entertainment district of Madeira Beach. This is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

After resigning from my job on August 13th, I was asked to leave the company immediately. Given I had a bit of paid vacation ahead of me before starting my new job on September 3rd, I was toying with the idea of visiting my Grandpa Stricker in Florida. Thanks to the encouragement of Mom, Dad, and Al, I decided to book a flight and spend several days in the sunshine.

I flew down on Tuesday, August 27th. Southwest was great. I changed planes in Baltimore, and landed in Tampa a little earlier than scheduled. I rode the Super Shuttle with several people from the airport to Grandpa’s condo.

After I got settled, I caught up with my Aunt Marny. I hadn’t seen her in person since my wedding in 2015!

For dinner, we had amazing chicken salad from this place called Chicken Salad Chick. It started in Auburn, Alabama. It has 135 locations total, as far west as Texas and Oklahoma, and up through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio. There is one location in Virginia! If you live in the Richmond / Glen Allen areas, you’re in for a treat!

On Wednesday morning, Aunt Marny asked if I wanted to have brunch at the Sweet Sage Cafe and Boutique in North Redington Beach. I didn’t hesitate!

I had their delicious “two’s two’s” item, where I chose French toast, bacon, and yummy eggs. There was sangria, too.

A happy accident happened to me, too. I had been casually searching for a 4ocean bracelet after one of my co-workers at Riverside had bought one. The boutique sold them! I picked the green one, and found out later it’s the “sea turtle” one. Perfect!

One of the many funny signs inside the Sweet Sage Cafe.

The exterior is so colorful and calming.

Love Radar!

Hook, Line, and Drinker.

After brunch, we went to John’s Pass, the entertainment district of Madeira Beach.

Pelicans taking a rest.

A fun tiki bar boat tour.

A beautiful heron.

An old-fashioned taffy pulling machine in action.

On Wednesday night, we went to PJ’s Oyster Bar early for happy hour and seafood!

Aunt Marny and I both enjoyed a Yuengling. We all got something different – Grandpa had his shrimp, Marny got clam strips, and I got the crab cakes, fries, and Caesar salad.

There were Blues Brothers statues everywhere!

I had a really good trip. I’m glad I took the time to visit!

Have you visited Florida?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Getting Personal #182: Reflections on September 11th, 18 Years Later

September 11th Tribute in Lights

Image Credit: CNN

Content warning: Some images and descriptions shared in this post may be disturbing.

Today marks 18 years since the horrific terror attacks on the United States. Two planes crashed into the “Twin Towers” of the World Trade Center in New York City, another crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth went down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Where were you?

I’ll never forget.

I had just started seventh grade at Jolliff Middle School in Chesapeake, Virginia. That Tuesday was absolutely gorgeous – Not a cloud in the sky. We had been in school for a week.

I have to give props to the administration and staff. The students had no idea what was going on, and they held their emotions in check the entire day. By the time I learned about it, it was near the end of the school day. I was heading into Mrs. Owen’s history class, and our principal, Mr. Glisson, was standing nearby.

I can’t remember if he was outside the seventh grade hallway, or outside our classroom door. I just knew something was wrong; it was highly unusual for him to be away from his office or the front of the school. He gave every student a quartered piece of paper, that read, in part, “Due to today’s events, we are cancelling the PTA meeting and all after-school activities. Please spend tonight with your families. Thank you for your support of our school.”

Immediate confusion came over my face, and I walked into Mrs. Owen’s class dumbfounded. I turned to my best friend, Melissa, and asked her what “today’s events” meant.

“Didn’t you hear? Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, and another crashed into the Pentagon.”

Tears sprang to my eyes. I was born in Manhattan. I had walked by the Twin Towers many times. I had flown over the Pentagon. All my memories of New York flooded my brain, and I immediately felt overwhelmed and sad. I wanted to go home right then, but I said a prayer for everyone on those planes and their families.

I definitely don’t remember what was discussed in history class that day. For the first time, I felt like a zombie when school dismissed. Thankfully, Tuesdays were the after-school day for the youth at church, and I figured that was the best place we could be at that point.

Mrs. Rouquie picked us up in her gold Dodge Caravan, and I felt fresh tears when I spotted the magnetic American flag on her van door. We sat in absolute silence the whole ride from school to church.

There was a portable TV in the youth lounge. Dawn-Marie, our associate pastor, and Courtney B., were glued to the TV. Local reporter Andy Fox was reporting live from the Pentagon, and we saw the collapsed side of the building, still smoldering.

The next few days were a complete blur. Our local paper, The Virginian-Pilot, had “HORROR” in blood-red letters on the front page the next day.

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The front page of the paper, dated September 12, 2001. Image Credit: – Found on Google Images

The coverage by the media was staggering. It felt like it was never-ending.

And, in a way, it is never-ending. Here we are, 18 years later, and there are still troops from multiple nations fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The babies who were born on September 11, 2001 are now old enough to vote, and old enough to fight in those wars.

It’s never-ending for the families of the 2,977 victims who died that day on American soil. More than 6,000 people were injured. Others have died from related cancer and respiratory diseases.

But, in spite of all the tragedy, the U.S. came together as a country. We came together, back then, at least.

I won’t get into politics here. Right now, I’m sitting in my kitchen, thinking of the victims and their families.

God Bless America.

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The flag raising at Ground Zero. Image Credit: CNN

The World Trade Center cross. Image Credit: Wikipedia


The reflecting pools, part of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Image Credit: Wikipedia

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The Pentagon Memorial. Image Credit: Wikipedia

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Flight 93 Memorial. Image Credit: Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #78: “Glory Be”


I love 2nd and Charles. It’s a great place to buy used books, among other types of media – They have almost everything you can think of. You can also sell your used items to them. While I was waiting for my most recent buyback to be completed on August 23rd, I found this gem of a book in the $1.00 clearance pile.

It’s designed for readers ages 9-12, but something like that usually doesn’t stop me from reading it.

I loved the different angle the author, Augusta Scattergood, took with the volatile summer of 1964. The main character, Gloriana “Glory” Hemphill, is going through many changes. She dreams of her twelfth birthday at the community pool, but then discovered it’s locked up tight, “closed for repairs.”

Angry, she turns her juvenile anger into action. She truly begins to come of age among her family and friends. She learns about how tumultuous the nation is that hot, sticky summer, especially the state of Mississippi. She works to fight prejudice from her 11-year-old eye. She also begins to discover who her true friends are, and the meaning of family.

This was a surprise book for me. I bought it on a pure whim, and felt pulled in from the very beginning. I flew through more than half in the first two hours.

I think the author did a good job creating the atmosphere, and capturing how dangerous the summer of 1964 was for many people. She took her own experiences from that summer in Mississippi and wove them into a compelling book that many can learn from and enjoy.

I think this would be a good book for a class to read in school, or simply kids and family to read together.

4 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂