Getting Personal #249: Sesame Street LEGO Ideas

The front of the box.

I knew I wanted this LEGO set when it was first announced. At the time, however, it was a lot of money, and I felt I didn’t absolutely need to have it.

However, I made a decision a few months ago to reward myself with it at the end of May. I’m so glad I did! I was pleasantly surprised that it shipped so quickly from the LEGO website. I bought it on in the middle of a week, and it arrived that weekend.

I documented the journey in stages. There were six sets of numbered bags in the box, and I figured I would stretch it out as long as I could. The entire set is 1,367 pieces.

The back of the box.

Part 1

The beginning was building the street and the base of 123 Sesame Street. Each part had a new Muppet mini-figure to build. Big Bird was first, my favorite.

I love the attention to detail. See the spiderweb?

Part 2

The second part was building Elmo and the first floor of 123 Sesame Street.

Do you see the back wall of Big Bird’s nest?

The bottom floor is Elmo’s room. I love how the windows look real and open!

Part 3

The third part was the second floor of 123 Sesame Street, and Ernie.

This part added the bathroom, with Rubber Duckie, and more to Big Bird’s nest.

Part 4

The fourth part included the roof of 123 Sesame Street, and Bert.

Bert and Ernie’s bedroom is done, too.

Part 5

The fifth part included Cookie Monster, Hooper’s Store, and the apartment above.

I love the details. The stickers really help illustrate the set!

Part 6

The final part was Oscar in his trash can, the garden, the fire escape, Big Bird’s nest, outside Hooper’s, and the Sesame Street signpost.

I can’t get over how much research was put into this LEGO Ideas set! It was well worth the money – About $130 total. The instruction book had fun photos and backstory on the designers and creators.

This will be proudly displayed in my office. It’s currently on the living room coffee table. I smile every time I walk in the room!

I really loved this set. Many of you know how much Sesame Street means to me!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #248: June Goals

Welcome back!

Here are my goals for the month of June:

  1. Donate blood.
  2. Begin the first edit of book 2.
  3. Clean off the couch in my office, and keep it clean.
  4. Celebrate Father’s Day with Dad and Grandpa.
  5. Attend 2021 P.E.O. Virginia State Convention virtually.
  6. Prepare for my adjusted hybrid work schedule.
  7. Finish re-organizing my bookshelf.
  8. Fill at least one donation bag, if not more.
  9. Find more recipes for meal prep.
  10. Reduce the number of American Girl items in my office.
  11. Finish building the LEGO Ideas set, and write a blog post about it.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of June?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #247: May Goals Recap

Image Credit: Goodbye Bread and Cheese

Welcome back! I hope everyone has had a good Memorial Day weekend, if you’re reading from the U.S. I’m wrapping a really nice long four-day weekend!

Here were my goals for the month of May:

  1. Finish the first draft of my second novel. — Accomplished!
  2. Start editing the first draft. — Semi-Achieved.
  3. Reorganize my American Girl items. — Did not accomplish yet.
  4. Go through my bookshelf and decide what books to keep. — Semi-Achieved.
  5. Start tackling the “catch-all” room. — Did not accomplish yet.
  6. Publish at least two Book Review posts. — Semi-Achieved.
  7. Host a small group of P.E.O. sisters. — Accomplished!

I’m so proud of myself with my second novel. I felt like I was being pulled in different directions throughout the month after having such great success in April with Camp NaNoWriMo. Finally, this past week, knowing that I had Friday and Monday off, I knew I wanted to sit down and look through the entire draft again, and see where I ended up. By Friday afternoon, I had read through the entire draft, made some edits, and wrote another 723 words. Then, I wrote the two magic words that feel amazing: THE END.

It’s currently the longest novel I’ve written to date, clocking in at almost 76,000 words. Next step is to print out the 300+ pages for the first true edit. I also wrote up my first Camp NaNoWriMo recap post in more than a year.

I started going through my bookshelf and donated a few books for the latest pick-up for the local Vietnam Veterans charity, but I have a new bag to fill, so I’m looking forward to a bigger clean out next month. I’m tired of the clutter in my office. I have too much stuff, and what I do have needs to find a proper home, or leave my house altogether.

I did successfully going through the three boxes of stuff from my parents’ house that were cluttering up the corner of the living room. I filled 3/4 of a trash bag, a 1/4 of the new donation bag, and packed up the journals and photographs for my office. I also found my old passport after it had been missing for 13 years! It was fun going down memory lane – A lot of stuff from high school and college were in those boxes. We also found my Uncle Richard’s collection of cameras, plus an undeveloped roll of film! I’m hoping we can get that developed soon to see what’s on it.

I published one Book Review this month. I loved L.C. Rosen’s Camp!

I really enjoyed having my mom and several of my P.E.O. sisters on my porch for the evening earlier in the month. We had a great time, and I’m already looking forward to the next gathering. We are still doing our regular meetings by Zoom, but hopefully we can start to transition to a hybrid setting by the end of the year. Next weekend is the first-ever virtual Virginia State Convention!

Did you have any goals for the month of May?

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for the month of June!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth

Getting Personal #246: Camp NaNoWriMo April 2021 Recap

Image Credit: NaNoWriMo

Welcome back! Here’s my recap of Camp NaNoWriMo April 2021. This was my seventh Camp NaNoWriMo session. I did participate last July, but I did not write a recap post. I was mentally burned out last fall, so I skipped NaNoWriMo 2020 in November.

As of April 1, 2021, I had 44,617 words written.

Original Goal: Write 10,000 new words for book #2.

Day 1: 45,299 words (682) – 15 minutes

Day 2: 46,582 words (1,283) – 26 minutes

Day 3: 47,256 words (674) – 15 minutes

Day 4: 47,948 words (692) – 15 minutes

Day 5: 48,744 words (796) – 20 minutes

Day 6: 49,716 words (972) – 30 minutes

Day 7: 50,496 words (780) – 20 minutes

Day 8: 50,569 words (73) – 30 minutes

Day 9: 51,276 words (707) – 20 minutes

Day 10: 51,276 words (0)

Day 11: 52,230 words (954) – 25 minutes

Day 12: 52,356 words (126) – 5 minutes

Day 13: 53,045 words (689) – 15 minutes

Day 14: 54,246 words (1,201) – 30 minutes

Day 15: 54,965 words (719) – 20 minutes

Original Goal Met!

Total word count: 10,348 new words.

Created second goal in NaNoWriMo, in hopes of finishing the first draft by the end of April.

Second Goal: Write 20,000 new words and finish first draft.

Day 16: 55,795 words (830) – 25 minutes

Day 17: 56,094 words (299) – 45 minutes

Day 18: 56,714 words (620) – 1 hour

Day 19: 57,845 words (1,131) – 40 minutes

Day 19: 58,294 words (449) – 10 minutes

Day 20: 58,882 words (588) – 20 minutes

Day 20: 59,451 words (569) – 10 minutes

Day 20: 59,977 words (526) – 15 minutes

Day 21: 60,621 words (644) – 15 minutes

Day 21: 61,312 words (691) – 15 minutes

Day 21: 61,532 words (220) – 5 minutes

Day 21: 62,026 words (494) – 20 minutes

Day 22: 62,389 words (363) – 10 minutes

Day 22: 62,833 words (444) – 10 minutes

Day 22: 63,322 words (489) – 15 minutes

Day 23: 63,917 words (595) – 15 minutes

Day 23: 64,832 words (915) – 20 minutes

Day 24: 65,791 words (959) – 20 minutes

Day 24: 66,000 words (209) – 15 minutes

Day 24: 66,481 words (481) – 10 minutes

Day 25: 67,140 words (659) – 25 minutes

Day 25: 67,627 words (487) – 15 minutes

Day 25: 67,798 words (171) – 5 minutes

Day 25: 67,984 words (186) – 5 minutes

Day 26: 68,350 words (366) – 10 minutes

Day 27: 69,045 words (695) – 15 minutes

Day 27: 69,372 words (327) – 10 minutes

Day 27: 69,917 words (545) – 10 minutes

Day 27: 70,640 words (723) – 15 minutes

Day 28: 71,250 words (610) – 15 minutes

Day 28: 72,089 words (839) – 20 minutes

Day 29: 73,046 words (957) – 20 minutes

Day 29: 73,539 words (439) – 10 minutes

Day 30: 74,397 words (858) – 20 minutes

Day 30: 74,955 words (558) – 15 minutes

Day 30: 75,221 words (266) – 5 minutes

Second Goal Met!

Total word count: 20,256 new words.

Overall Total for April 2021: 30,604 new words.

Current word count: 75,221 words.

Final Thoughts

I’m super proud of myself. I tracked my progress every day on blue Post-It notes, and I plan to do something similar going forward. I took most of the month of May off from working on this, but I’m determined to call the first draft FINISHED by the end of June. After that, I’ll print it out and start the first true pass of editing.

I also have to thank my friend Ren. We met through the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook, and struck up a friendship through Messenger after that. She started streaming on Twitch during April, and participating in her streams and writing sprints is one big part of my success for Camp NaNoWriMo April 2021. I appreciate her continued encouragement, along with Al, my family, and other friends who have cheered me along in this process.

The key for me is to sit down, whether it’s before work, after dinner, or when I can’t get a scene or dialogue out of my head, and set the timer on my phone. No distractions whatsoever. I’m super proud that I only had one true zero day during the month! Breaking it up into chunks of time has helped me so much.

After I finish this first draft, my plan is to work on book #3 during Camp NaNoWriMo in July. It’s the project I started during NaNoWriMo 2014, so stay tuned for an update on that project on Facebook every day in July, and then a recap post like this in August.

Have you done NaNoWriMo in November before?

Have you done Camp NaNoWriMo before?

Let me know what you think!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #95: “Camp”

I fell in love with this book within the first few pages. I was enveloped into the world of Camp Outland, and I felt so sad when it ended and I had to say goodbye to Camp and the characters in it.

The way Rosen crafts his characters is amazing. They all have names, and personalities, and interests, but they could also be people that you know in your own life. That’s how real he makes them. I found myself coming up for air in my hammock on my porch a few weekends ago, not realizing I’d read 200 pages already.

The story of Del and his adventures at Camp are fun, silly, and amazing. The friends he’s met, and the one that he’s determined to fall in love with, are all unique and precious. I love the counselors, too, and their stories. To go along with Del on his quest is a wonderful journey with so many emotions wrapped up together. I laughed, I cried, and just adored this book.

I can’t wait to read it again. This will stay on my bookshelf forever. It’s marketed toward ages 14 and up, but I believe that everyone should read this book. There are so many real-life lessons that are wrapped up in this adorable love story, told at an amazing place that I think a lot of people wishes had existed many, many years ago in the real world.

Thanks to Mike Holtzclaw for another excellent recommendation.

5 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #245: May Goals

Image Credit:

Welcome back!

Here are my goals for the month of May:

1. Finish the first draft of my second novel.

2. Start editing the first draft.

3. Reorganize my American Girl items.

4. Go through my bookshelf and decide what books to keep.

5. Start tackling the “catch-all” room.

6. Publish at least two Book Review posts.

7. Host a small group of P.E.O. sisters.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of May?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #244: April Goals Recap

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for the month of April:

  1. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2021. — Accomplished!
  2. Finish the first draft of my second novel. — Semi-Achieved.
  3. Donate blood. — Accomplished!
  4. Celebrate Dad’s birthday! — Accomplished!
  5. Hang at least three items on my office walls. — Did not accomplish yet.
  6. Publish at least one Commentary post. — Accomplished!
  7. Renew my library card. — Accomplished!
  8. Publish at least two Book Review posts. — Did not accomplish yet.
  9. Publish my quarterly TBR Recap post. — Accomplished!
  10. Finish reviewing my friend’s first draft of their novel. — Did not accomplish yet.

I had a great writing month – Look for a Camp NaNoWriMo recap post, coming soon! I’m almost finished with the first draft of my second novel. I’m really proud of myself.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #114: Viewpoints on Health – A Conversation with David Sheff

David Sheff, right, and his son, Nic. Image Credit: The New York Times

I had the opportunity to participate in a live-stream with the James Madison University (JMU) College of Health and Behavioral Studies and Mr. David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction and the new book, Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy. This was presented in collaboration with Sentara Healthcare, and I learned about this opportunity as a Sentara employee. It was open to everyone, and was presented through Facebook and YouTube.

The structure of the event was a conversation between one of the JMU staff members and David Sheff. Before it started, the JMU staff members commented that “Sheff will share about his family’s experience with addiction. He will also report on findings from the years he spent investigating the disease of addiction and America’s drug problem.”

With David, his family’s experience with addiction was with his son, Nic. He was plagued with anxiety and depression. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, Nic’s first experience with drugs was marijuana at age 11.

Sheff emphasized that parents can’t do it all. They aren’t their child’s social worker, psychologist, counselor, etc. The sooner that parents intervene, the better.

One topic that came up was “tough love,” Sheff and his wife did not go that route with Nic. Sometimes, it’s successful, but a lot of times, it’s not successful.

Family also sometimes adds to the problem.

One of the best things that parents can do is ask for help, whether that be from a counselor, coach, teacher, or doctor. There are a lot of support groups online, too.

What is Addiction?

“Addiction is the only disease that lets our family members hit rock bottom.”

Addiction is a health problem, not a problem of morals. It’s not bad behavior, either.

It’s a brain disease. We don’t want people to get worse.

Sheff said, “I didn’t know rock bottom had a basement.”

Using the term “bottom” is dangerous.

There are alternatives that work.

For healthcare providers – People don’t want to be addicted. We need more people to be trained to recognize the warning signs. And it’s not just a need for healthcare providers. So many others should be trained as well – Coaches, clergy, teachers, counselors, parents, guardians, and more.

How to Help or Get Help

Early warning signs include isolation, sadness, depression.

Don’t talk to your child or children – LISTEN to them.

There’s also a great, significant need for psychological testing in the substance abuse treatment system. For Nic, he had not had any psychological testing in the 10 years that he’d been in treatment, and that was years ago. After he had the proper psychological testing, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and, more importantly, he hasn’t relapsed since then.

In terms of a healthcare system that treats disease, there simply aren’t enough providers.

“Diseases of despair”

There was a study conducted of pediatricians not too long ago. Nearly 70 percent of them couldn’t recognize a drug problem in a child.

In 2020, 80,000 people died from drug overdose.

Sharp increase: Isolation from lockdown. Also, drugs have normally/usually been social gatherings. Because of the isolation, no one was with them to call 911.

Money has been diverted form support programs to help with COVID-19.

Pharmacological: Brain disease, chemical issues.

Opioid addiction: Meds lower cravings.

Methadone and suboxone – These drugs help people function! It’s almost equivalent to cancer drugs.

Replace shame and guilty with knowledge and hope.

Irresponsible prescribing needs to stop. Educating professionals needs to increase. Not leaving people alone.

Medications must be monitored.

Teenagers: Opioids must commonly found / used in home medicine cabinets.

Identify stressors: It takes a village, support for everyone

Mental illnesses often go undiagnosed or not properly diagnosed, sometimes for years or decades.

Societal problems: No money, no food – Those things, and others, lead to violence. Also consider unemployment and abuse.

Be relentless: Make a million phone calls if you have to.

There have been successful Nurse-Family Partnerships, where a nurse is in consistent contact and communication with a family, offering support and medical assistance.

Teenage pregnancy is a significant factor, too.

A team that works together can help: Write resume, job interviews, proper nutrition, staying at a job.

Support includes making appointments, going to counseling sessions.

There needs to be an increase in and acceptance of harm reduction programs, community resources, needle exchanges.

There’s a JMU graduate who works for a needle exchange program in Tacoma, Washington.

I have not yet read either of Sheff’s books, but I plan to. See the links below for more information.


FRONTLINE | Chasing Heroin (2016) – Exploring what happens when addiction is treated like a public health issue, not a crime.

At George Floyd’s Treatment Center, Recovering Clients See Racism in Addiction Assumptions | FRONTLINE (2021)

Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) FAQs | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Methadone | MedlinePlus

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

What is Addiction? | American Psychiatric Association

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #251: “50 Masterpieces You Have to Read Before You Die, Volume 1” (Book 1 – “Little Women”)

Image Credit: Amazon

Welcome back!

The first book on the list was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Originally, I was excited. The first and last time I read Little Women was for one of my first presentations / projects in Mr. Degnan’s ninth grade English class, circa fall 2003.

However, now, I don’t quite understand how I remember enjoying Little Women back then. This was a tough read, even with the illustrated version! Nothing against Alcott, but the writing style threw me off almost immediately. I got through the first 60 pages, and found myself setting it aside. I picked it up again, and slowly made my way to the end. But it was painful.

I do enjoy the relationships among the March women, especially during the time period of the Civil War. They all miss their father. But, they also enjoy their lives as best they can. It was fun to watch these girls become “little women” over time. As an only child, this book made think of what it would be like to be in a bigger family.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Kimberly and I are ready to move on to Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

Have you read Little Women?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #32: Justice for George Floyd (Chauvin Guilty on All Counts)

Image Credit: Republic World

My hands are shaking as I write this post. I’m in disbelief. I never thought I would see and hear these words, live-streamed for all the world to witness:

Count I – Second-degree unintentional murder, GUILTY

Count II – Third-degree murder, GUILTY

Count III – Second-degree manslaughter, GUILTY

Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all charges in the death, the murder, of George Floyd that occurred on May 25, 2020.

I prayed before the verdict was read, feeling tears spring to my eyes. I couldn’t believe it when the first “Guilty” was read, I was stunned. And then I cheered. And then I cried. And I prayed again.

Chauvin’s bond was immediately revoked, and he was taken into custody.

I reflected on this in my post, Hot Topic #30, on June 4, 2020. Thankfully, less than a year later, I’m writing a post in relief and happiness that this verdict was actually reached.

With all that said, there is still more work to be done.

“The healing work begins,” spoken over and over in George Floyd Square in Minneapolis this afternoon.

Black Lives Matter.


The BIPOC Project

Black Lives Matter

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

BIPOC-Owned Businesses to Support Today and Everyday

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂