Getting Personal #223: Ten Years

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

Today marks TEN YEARS since Al and I went on our first date.

I can’t believe it!

Here are my other dating anniversary posts:


Here are ten photos that are special to me.

November 2010: This was a candid shot taken at the Alpha Sigma Tau Anchor Banquet, just a couple months after we started dating. Photo Credit: Tina Bird Stewart.
Spring 2011: Al and my parents came to Longwood for the weekend when I received my Citizen Leader Award!
Halloween 2011: The love of Star Wars is strong with us.
Halloween 2013: We were on a mission from God.
July 2015: One of my all-time favorite engagement photos!
October 2015: With friends, we did an escape room, played laser tag, ate at Mama Jโ€™s and Bottoms Up pizza, and watched movies. This photo was taken in downtown Richmond.
November 2015: Standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling stained glass piece.
November 2015: I love the black and white. Image Credit: Stellar Exposures
December 2019: Alโ€™s company Christmas party!
August 2020: My birthday celebration!

Happy Anniversary, Al! I love you.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #204: 10-Year Blogging Anniversary

This was a happy sight to see today!


Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 10 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.


It’s kind of wild to think about – I started with WordPress to continue the passion that was kindled during a college assignment. In my Computer-Mediated Communication class in 2009, we were assigned to start a blog, on any topic we chose, that we maintained for the entire semester. That original blog, on a different platform, was about movies that I found in the college library that I figured my classmates had never heard of. It wasn’t much at the time, but it planted a seed.

Ten years ago, Hot Shot Headlines didn’t exist. I started, and then deleted, at least two other blogs. I lost my way, and my passion, for a while.

But, I stuck with it. I never really stopped writing, even when I wasn’t blogging. And it’s been an incredible journey.


Thank you, everyone, for your contributions! I truly appreciate all of my readers and followers. Every comment you write is significant to me. I try my very best to respond to all of them!

Best of all, I have made some amazing friends through the WordPress community. So, here’s to you, Kristian, Jenna, Tony, Simon, Ariel, Vinnie, Antonio, Lori, Sara, Didi, Tiana, Destiny, Greg, and others. Thank you for the words you write, the stories you share, and your friendship!

Cheers to 10 more years!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #185: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday!

I’m so happy to have been able to celebrate with her. Today was our regularly scheduled blood drive, and she ran it like a champ. Everyone sang to her, and I bought a fun rainbow birthday cake! We had a good time. She was going to take a nap later.

Hoping to take her out to eat sometime tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

“Really?”

“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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #180: Nine Years

True Love

Image Credit: TheloveBits

I love writing these โ€œdating anniversaryโ€ posts every year!


Today, Al and I celebrate nine years together!

Here are nine photos that are special to me.

June 2014: One of six weddings we celebrated that year. This was taken at April and Steven’s wedding reception.

December 2014: Al’s first company Christmas party! I loved that dress so much!

Our first Tidewater Comic-Con!

November 2015: I will always share wedding photos.

November 2015: One of our many honeymoon photos.

December 2015: Cheesin’ with my new iPhone.

December 2015: Taken at lunch before seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

December 2018: The day we adopted Phineas and Ferb!

August 2019: My birthday party at Circuit Social!

Happy Anniversary, Al. I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Writing Prompt #239: August WIP Writing Challenge BIRTHDAY BASH

August WIP Writing Challenge Birthday Bash

Image Credit: Didi Oviatt

I love Didi’s WIP writing challenges!

Here’s the link to her August challenge:


Hunter was feeling low. He really didn’t like birthdays.

As he wallowed, his phone buzzed.

Happy Birthday!

Hunter managed a small smile. Bethany was so kind. And, unfortunately, Hunter had the hots for her.

As he composed his reply, more texts came in. Hunter’s heart rose out of his stomach, ever so slightly.

People really do care, he thought.

I do have friends.

Then, a puzzling text from Lizzie came in.

Hey baby, wanna meet me at the arcade tonight? It’s half-price!

Hunter shook his head. He loved how Lizzie tried, but sometimes, she tried too hard. And she knew full well how much he hated his birthday. But, she wanted to pull him out of his misery, in whatever way she felt like could work.

Hunter smiled slightly, contemplating his response.

From Lizzie: Baby? Are you okay?

From Belle: Happy Birthday, Hunter! Hope you’re doing something fun tonight!

From Bill: Enjoy your birthday, dude! Can’t wait to celebrate soon!

Irritated, Hunter nearly threw his phone against the wall. That’s how the last two got broken.

He thought better of it. Pacing the room, he only texted Lizzie back.

Sure, sweetie. The arcade sounds like fun. What time?

Lizzie responded within seconds.

6:00. And don’t be late!ย 

Hunter drove the 10 miles to the arcade, lost in the music. He smiled a bit wider, excited to see Lizzie.

At 6:02, he walked into the arcade. Lizzie greeted him with a long kiss, a flick of the tongue, and then she took his hand and rounded the corner.

“SURPRISE!! Happy Birthday, Hunter!”

Hunter’s eyes went wide, and then filled with tears. Everyone was there – Lizzie, Bethany, Will, Belle, Bill, Robert, Adam, and a few others.

“I’m definitely surprised. Thank you.”

A man of few words, Hunter felt his heart lift higher. He hugged Lizzie tightly, whispered his thanks, and was simply overwhelmed.

As Bill raised the toast of soft drinks to another trip around the sun, Hunter’s smile grew wider.

“Well, friends, this is the first birthday where I haven’t felt miserable. Thank you, Lizzie. Thanks, everyone. Now, let’s shut up and play some games!”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Tag #69: Holiday Drinks Book Tag

Holiday Drinks - Wide Open Eats

Image Credit: Wide Open Eats

holiday drinks book tag

Found on Page to Page

I wasn’t tagged for this one, but I loved reading Daniel’s post so much, I knew I needed to post my own version.

Here’s the link to Daniel’s post:


Hot Chocolate: Marshmallows and chocolate and whipped cream, oh my! Recommend a book that’s sweet through and through.

Forgetting My Way Back To You

Forgetting My Way Back To You, Karina Bartow.

I read this book as an ARC a few months ago, and it’s really sweet and touching. I noted a touch of cheesiness, but it was also integral to the story. No spoilers!

Peppermint Mocha: The flavor of peppermint is strong and distinct. Recommend a book with a lot of strong emotions.

Image result for harry potter and the goblet of fire book

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling.

It’s so hard to pick a single Harry Potter book for nearly anything. This one runs the reader through the gauntlet of emotions, though!

Apple Cider: It’s so good it can’t be good for you, but it’s from apples – That means it’s healthy, right? Recommend a book full of characters with questionable morals.

hunger-games

The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins.

I will probably never stop raving about this trilogy. If you’re looking for a great series with a ton of diverse characters, I highly recommend it. And there are definitely lots of characters with questionable morals here!

Eggnog: It’s creamy and smooth, with a little spice, and some people even add alcohol to it. Recommend a book that’s mostly fun, with just a hint of danger.

Image result for safe haven book

Safe Haven, Nicholas Sparks.

This is one of Sparks’ books where I truly felt scared several times for the main character. No spoilers, but it was certainly intense for an author who has traditionally written sweet romance novels.

Gingerbread Latte: A drink with a veritable explosion of spices. Recommend a book with a lot of action.

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins.

This book was one of my favorite reads of 2018. It kept me on my toes, and on the edge of my seat, almost the entire time. Great book!


Tag – You’re It!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Tag #67: The Christmas Tag

The Christmas Tag

Image Credit: The Bright Bookcase

I recently discovered Rose of The Bright Bookcase, and I’m loving her blog!

Here’s the link to her post:


The Rules

  1. You must thank the person who nominated you
  2. Link back to the original post (the one on this blog) and use the graphic provided.
  3. Answer the questions given.
  4. Nominate at least 3 people. (or more if your feeling like a nice personย ๐Ÿ˜‰ย )
  5. Give the nominees 10 questions to answer (or use the ones previously given)
  6. HAVE FUN!ย ๐Ÿ˜€

The Questions

What is your favorite Christmas dessert?

Our traditional chocolate mousse!

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

When I was younger, I was allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve, after we came home from church.

How do you decorate your house for Christmas?

Al and I set up our Christmas tree in our living room, with our pretty tree skirt and tons of ornaments. That’s pretty much it for us – No outside lights.

 

Have you ever built a snowman?

Absolutely! We typically don’t get a lot of snow here in southeastern Virginia, but when we have, it’s been a blast!

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

Ours is fake, and pre-lit. My parents agreed to try a real tree a couple of times, but we quickly realized how hard it was to keep it watered and upright. The needle shedding was ridiculous, too. It smelled pretty, but that was about the only nice thing. My parents have a beautiful artificial tree that still looks great after more than 30 years!

 

What do you like to do on Christmas break?

Since I’m a working adult, I don’t have an official Christmas break anymore. However, with time off, we are planning to go to Al’s parents’ farm this year, which I love. As a kid, most of my Christmases were spent in Florida, since both sets of grandparents lived there. It was so much fun!

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

The Polar Express (2004). I grew up with the book, audio cassette, and the bell. When the movie was released, we went as a family and loved it. One of our family gifts was the DVD and soundtrack. Josh Groban’s “Believe” is one of my all-time favorite songs.

 

Where do you normally spend Christmas?

Since we married, we usually spend Christmas with one set of family. My parents are local, about 10 miles from our house. Al’s brother, our sister-in-law, and our niece live in Virginia Beach. His parents have a beautiful farm in Scottsburg, Virginia, about three hours due west of us.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

It’s so hard to pick just one! It’s cheesy, but I love “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey (1994). I always sing along and dance to it!

Be honest: Do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts?ย 

I love giving gifts. I have so much fun picking out things for my husband, family, and friends! Plus, this year I’m being a “Secret Santa” for three teenagers, and I’ve had such a blast shopping for them.


The Questions to My Nominees

  1. How do you celebrate Christmas?
  2. Do you have a favorite Christmas carol or hymn?
  3. Do you like snow?
  4. What is your favorite contemporary Christmas song?
  5. What does your Christmas dinner table look like?
  6. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
  7. If you could take a paid two-week break for Christmas this year, what would you do, and why?
  8. Do you have a favorite Christmas book / piece of literature?
  9. Is there a Christmas movie that you don’t like?
  10. Do you have a favorite Christmas special?

Tag! You’re It!


Happy Holidays!!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Adventure Time: Florida Edition (Round 3 – Richard Madan’s Celebration of Life & Family Trip)

Image may contain: 3 people, including Laura Beth Vardaro, people smiling, people standing and wedding

Mom, me, and Uncle Richard, on my wedding day, November 2015. Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

It’s a funny thing sometimes, your conscience.

Saturday, April 7th, was my Uncle Richard’s 68th birthday. It was a busy Saturday, but this little voice in my head kept reminding me to call him for his birthday. Between a successful blood drive and going out to dinner with our friends Casey and Beth, that voice kept at it. I had a wonderful 20-minute conversation with my uncle that night. I could almost hear his smile in his voice.

Little did I know, that would be the last time I would hear him speak.

The following Tuesday, April 10th, my parents called after Al and I finished dinner. I could tell my dad was hesitating about something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Finally, the words that always signal bad news to me came out of his mouth: “Are you sitting down?”

My uncle had been in a car accident, near his house in Miami, Florida. Immediately after the accident, he was found unconscious in his SUV. Thankfully, medical personnel got him to the nearest hospital in time to save his life.

It was a flurry of activity that week. Mom flew down on Sunday, April 15th. My dad drove 17 hours straight from Monday night into Tuesday morning. They started organizing his house while visiting the hospital daily. Originally, there was hope of rehabilitation, and eventual discharge to some sort of assisted living facility.

But, the stroke was worse than everyone had thought. More moderate to severe. He wasn’t speaking, or eating. My mom made some of the most gut-wrenching decisions in terms of aggressive treatment and resuscitation. Thankfully, my dad was there by her side.

We knew things were near the end when he was transferred to an excellent hospice unit of another medical center. At five minutes to midnight, on Wednesday, April 25th, he passed away peacefully.

I had the opportunity to attend his Celebration of Life, and help spread his ashes. I took a full week off of work, and I’m so glad that I did.


Thursday, May 17th

I was very fortunate to find a seat on the same American Airlines flight as a friend from church. Her wonderful husband drove both of us to the airport. Aside from some unruly thunderstorms, it was an uneventful flight, direct from Norfolk to Miami. This was my first time on a plane in nearly three years!

After an adventure getting the rental car, my parents met us at Kathy’s hotel in Coconut Grove. My parents took me back to Richard’s house in Miami, where I saw first-hand the fruits of their labor. In the four weeks they had been living there, they cleaned everything out, painted everything, and deep cleaned the carpet. They hand-scrubbed half of the back deck, and were preparing to cut a big branch of the beautiful mango tree that was hanging over the deck. We picked at least 100 mangoes! I was very impressed with their work.

For dinner, we went out to Il Bambino, a wonderful Italian restaurant nearby. They spent several hours with Shirley and Bill, dear friends of my grandparents. They’ve been married for 65 years!


Friday, May 18th

The Celebration of Life was scheduled for Friday evening at Plymouth Congregational Church, and there was a lot to do before then. This is the church where my mom and uncle grew up. I have many memories of this amazing church since I was a kid.

Our friends Debbie and Lucy flew down from Virginia on Friday morning, and they stayed at one of the church guest houses. Plymouth is a sprawling church campus – 17 buildings on more than 11 acres of beautiful, lush, tropical land!

Kathy was wonderful – Between Mom, Dad, her, and me, we loaded multiple food trays from Publix into the rented Kia van and my uncle’s Durango SUV in the afternoon. We had plenty of time to get everything set up at the church before the celebration was scheduled to begin.

IMG_2900

The entrance table.

IMG_2901

I helped buy the guest book. I thought it was fitting that we had several Pan Am pens for people to use.

These photos are just some of the memorabilia from National Airlines and Pan Am. Richard was hired as a flight attendant by National Airlines in 1973. National merged with Pan Am in 1980. Richard flew with Pan Am until the company’s demise in 1991. He also worked as an instructor and trainer.

There were amazing letters from passengers, too, complimenting Richard on his professionalism, service, and more!

We had 50 people come to the celebration, which exceeded our expectations. We laughed more than we cried. Mom spoke. I spoke, telling the story of my conscience telling me to make that phone call. A dear friend from Plymouth, Dickie, echoed my words and implored everyone to “make that call.”

Richard’s best friend, Michael, an Episcopal priest, shared stories of their 45-year friendship. We could tell that Richard’s death has affected Michael greatly, since Michael called my uncle every night and they talked for an hour. Every night. For years. Now, he can’t make those calls any more.

A few flight attendant friends also spoke, but most of the evening was very much a beautiful, non-alcoholic wake. I was so happy to see so many friends, and to catch up with them and learn more about their lives. We sent everyone home with food, and by 11:00 p.m., we were beyond ready for bed!


Saturday, May 19th

Saturday started early. In preparation to sell Richard’s house, the wonderful real estate agent (who happens to be married to Plymouth’s amazing associate pastor) asked that one of the big branches of the backyard mango tree be cut down.

No problem!

I got to use power tools, and work with my dad and our good friend, Tim. Tim was a business associate of my grandfather’s and Richard for years. Tim’s kids, Timmy and Megan, grew up with me. Tim’s wife, Nancy, told me that whenever they told Timmy and Megan that we were coming to visit, they would get so excited. One of the best area restaurants is The Big Cheese Miami, and Timmy and Megan knew that when the Strickers were coming to visit, that meant a trip to The Big Cheese for everyone!

This was part of the branch that hung right over the deck. Not great appeal to potential homebuyers. It had to go!

That’s Tim, using the special mango picker. We also picked a bunch with pruners, and by hand!

We filled this crate, and two other big boxes, full of mangoes. My dad printed signs for the boxes, imploring people in the neighborhood to come and take mangoes!

The branch is gone! We set up the patio furniture, too, which I hosed down.

You can see where we cut several huge branches, in the left of the picture.

All clean!

After working in the backyard, Mom and I showered. We met Kathy, Debbie, and Lucy at Plymouth. We drove over to Terri’s gorgeous condo in Coral Gables, where she was hosting us for lunch.

The beautiful tropical plants surrounding the entrance.

Terri and Walter’s condo is on the 15th floor, and the elevator stops at their place. Such opulence! A few steps in, there are gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows that give a panoramic view of Miami, Key Biscayne, and more.

The most beautiful orchids – They were everywhere!

Lunch was delicious, and it was so nice for my mom to have some “girl time.” I think Terri was pleased to host, and we learned more about her, too. She and my mom have been friends since third grade. Terri’s mom was Richard’s 5th and 6th grade teacher, and my grandmother was the “room mom,” so naturally, their families became friends. Terri was also a flight attendant with Richard for several years.

After lunch, we went back to Plymouth to spread Richard’s ashes. Plymouth has a beautiful memorial garden, with nameplates of those who have passed on. My grandfather, Norman Madan, and grandmother, Grace Madan, have nameplates already. Richard’s will be added soon. It was overcast, but wonderful words were spoken by Michael, and Moira McGuinn, one of the church’s amazing associate pastors. Mom, Dad, Michael, Moira, and I all took turns spreading his ashes in the garden.

As we were concluding the ceremony, I heard an airplane flying overhead. Perfect symbolism, in my opinion.

After we finished, we showed Kathy, Debbie, and Lucy the church and the grounds. It’s such an impressive place. Here’s some photos.

We went back to the house, where Mom and Dad met with the real estate agent. While that was happening, the rest of us packed our rented Chevy Tahoe full of the remaining items that needed to come home to Virginia. Kathy is an expert packer, so we had the job done in just a few hours.

By then, we were famished. I called The Big Cheese for takeout, and Dad drove me to pick it up. We did family style. All I cared about were their amazing garlic knots, but the rest of the food was divine.


Sunday, May 20th

Mom, Dad, and I left Miami around 10:00 a.m. We headed toward Seminole, on the west coast of Florida, to see my Grandpa Stricker. He’s 92 and doing great! I was so happy to get to see him, since I was woefully overdue for a visit.

I was happy to help Mom and Dad with the driving. Along the way, we stopped for lunch in Port Charlotte, Florida, to visit with our dear friends Rick and Kyle Watts. Rick and Kyle were Mom and Dad’s neighbors in Virginia Beach before I came along, and we’ve kept in touch all these years. They are currently taking care of Kyle’s mom, and Kyle herself has been keeping a close eye on Rick. He got a new heart via transplant in February, and overall, he’s doing great! It was so nice to see them – It had been too long.

We got to Grandpa’s in the early evening. We had leftovers from previous meals. Mom and I both showered, and turned in early. I got almost 12 hours of sleep!

Before Mom and I went to bed, she noticed this amazing male angina bird outside the window. Unlike other birds, they don’t produce oil to help dry their wings. So, when they get wet, they perch in a tree and spread their wings to help them dry out. We stood at the windows and watched this guy for nearly 30 minutes!


Monday, May 21st

We had coffee early, but knew Grandpa wanted to take us to breakfast. There’s an awesome hole-in-the-wall place near his house called Suzie Q’s Diner. Amazing food!!

This was my delicious breakfast – Their special spinach, mushroom, and Swiss omelet. Complete with hash browns and sourdough toast. Mmmmm!

After breakfast, Dad and I cruised around, seeing how much Seminole has changed in the last few years. The old Seminole Mall that we shopped at and the Cinemas 8 we went to in the summers is long gone – Now replaced by the hip and trendy Seminole City Center. There’s everything anybody could want there – Shops, restaurants, a LA Fitness gym, an upscale movie theater, and more. Very impressive.

We had lunch at home, but went out to dinner at the local Applebee’s. After dinner, we came home and vegged. We watched Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and an episode of Antiques Roadshow before I turned in for the night.


Tuesday, May 22nd

We got up at 4:15 a.m. – My usual!

We were on the road about an hour later, preparing for the long haul drive home. I’m glad I decided to drive back with Mom and Dad. I was able to help out with driving both vehicles. Plus, I spent some quality time with both of them.

We stopped once in every state – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. It all worked out. It was just a long marathon, 14 hours of driving.

Mom and Dad dropped me off at home around 7:00 p.m. – It was a nice end to a great trip.


I’m sad that my uncle passed away, but I’m grateful for my parents. I’m grateful that they’re both retired and were able to travel when they did. They spent 38 days together in a 940-square foot house – A true test to their 36-year marriage! They were a great team. There’s still more work to be done, but they accomplished quite a long list in the five weeks that they spent together in Miami. A true roller coaster of emotions.

I’m grateful that my work provides such generous PTO. I’m grateful that my colleagues were so understanding, and they appreciate the importance of family. I’m glad that I was able to spend the time off with my family, and seeing many wonderful friends.

Hold your family and friends close. Time is precious. Time is valuable.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Writing Adventures #1: Creating A Success Journal

Success Journal

Image Credit: Stacia Pierce

Welcome to a new series on Hot Shot Headlines!

After my rousing success with my first-ever Camp NaNoWriMo in April, I’ve decided to make more writing happen in 2018. I’m determined to finish the novel that I started in 2012, and outline the other novels I have in development. I have so many ideas!

So, when I stumbled upon this post from What Inspires Your Writing last week, I figured that starting with a success journal was a logical first step.

Here’s the link to their post:


I love this idea of a success journal!

In fact, I already kind of have one, but I haven’t written anything in it yet.


And, a success journal is certainly not limited to writing. Not at all! I encourage anyone to keep a journal, diary, whatever works for you. Writing is like therapy for me, so it makes sense that I document my progress, my successes, and my failures!


So, I’ll be posting about my writing adventures periodically on the blog. My initial goal is to post about once a month, at least in the beginning. And then, we’ll see what happens.

I’m excited to take my success journal everywhere I go!

Check back here about a month from now, and we’ll see what adventures I’ve gone on, and what adventures are to come.

Thanks for following along on this exciting journey!


Do you have a success journal?

Are you writing anything special?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚