Tuesday, February 27, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - February



My yearly goal was split up into two books a month for each month in 2018, which I definitely surpassed in January.  February included a ten day vacation, so I wasn't sure how much reading I would get in. I should have known that laying by the ocean/pool would be prime reading time because I read four books during that time span! Keep reading for book descriptions and reviews!

If you're new around here, you can see all of my book reviews here.

(Reminder: descriptions come from Amazon.com but all reviews are my own)


8. Calling Maggie May by Anonymous (4/5 ★)


"A dark and edgy first-person cautionary tale about how one girl’s seemingly minor choices quickly spiraled into a life as a sex worker in the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the SkyShe had a normal life, until one small decision changed everything. Suddenly, there were new possibilities and new experiences. But not all of those experiences were good. Read her shocking story in the diary she left behind."

The first book I read in this "series" was Go Ask Alice back in early 2015. I really liked it so I decided to continue reading the other books. (Note: its not actually a series, but there is a lot of similar stories written by 'Anonymous,')  If you're a fan of Ellen Hopkins (which I totally am), then I think you would like this book and the others like it.  Its not very realistic (I assume, I've never been in this situation so I guess I can't say for sure), but I enjoyed it anyway.



9. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (3/5 ★)


"Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they’ve reached the end of the line. 

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances."


This book has been on my list for awhile, and since they recently made a movie based on it I figured I better read it so I can watch the movie.  I haven't seen the film yet, but I'm going to go on a limb and say don't waste your time with the book, watch the movie instead.  It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't a super compelling read.  I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened, but I wasn't invested in the characters as much as I prefer to be when I read a fictional story.



10. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso (5/5 ★)

"Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in 
dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, and was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school—a job she’d taken for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay.

Flash forward to today, and she’s the founder of Nasty Gal and the founder and CEO of Girlboss. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers.
#GIRLBOSS proves that being successful isn’t about where you went to college or how popular you were in high school. It’s about trusting your instincts and following your gut; knowing which rules to follow and which to break; when to button up and when to let your freak flag fly."


I had a hard time getting into this book because of the weirdest reason...the font seriously through me off! I know that is a super odd thing to critic about a book, but it was just a hard to read font until you get used to it.  The book started out talking about how Sophia started selling vintage clothing for resale on ebay which I LOVED because I'm currently getting into clothing resale on Poshmark and would love to turn that into a side gig!


11. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (5/5 ★)

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” 
 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes
a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
 
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.”


I didn't love her other book when I read it, so I decided to try this one out on audiobook. I enjoyed it MUCH more, and I think I would have enjoyed it just as much had I read it in print. I got through the 4 1/2 hour audiobook in less than 2 days and was legitimately disappointed it was over so quickly. It was funny and relatable in all the right ways. I’m not even a big Mindy Kaling fan (not that I don’t like her, I’ve just not seen anything with her in it- including The Office) but I really enjoyed this light hearted autobiography.

12. Escaping the Rainfield by Eliza Rich (3/5 ★)

“April 12, 2003. “Beep. Beep. We interrupt your radio station to bring you this important message. The counties of… no. The states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and southern portions of Iowa and Nebraska are in a Flood Warning.”” This was no typical flood warning. With eleven states expecting three to ten inches of rain for an unprecedented number of days, the United States was in a frenzy. Families were evacuating their hometowns in hopes of locating refuge on dry land, but Hannah Davis’ family thought that they could out wait the storm. When their panicked Grandmother reaches out to them, requesting help, they find themselves fighting the weather and time to rescue her. As if that wasn’t enough, shortly after joining forces with two of Hannah’s classmates, Adrian and Ophelia, they come face to face with a gang that wants Adrian dead. As the days go by the family grows increasingly wary whether or not they will reach their Grandmother in time. Will the Davis’ be able to come together to outwit the storm and its surrounding catastrophes? Or will Hannah’s affection for Adrian put her family in more danger than it is worth?”

This book really threw me off from the get go because it didn’t ever really introduce the characters or the setting or the story, it moreso just jumped right into the plot. It wasn’t a super intriguing book but I was fairly interested throughout the whole thing and curious to see how it ended. I wouldn’t recommend this as an adult read but late middle schoolers may like the storyline.


13. Surviving Cyril by Ramsey Hootman     (4/5 ★)

“When Robin Matheson's husband is killed in Afghanistan, she finds herself suddenly alone: an outsider in a community grieving for the hometown hero it never really knew. Though the thought of spending the rest of her life without Tavis is exhausting, Robin has no choice but to pull herself together for the sake of their son. She finds some satisfaction in cutting ties with Tav's obnoxious best friend, Cyril—a 500-pound hacker who didn't even bother to come to the funeral. 

Unfortunately, her three-year-old decides Cyril is now his best buddy, and Robin can't bear to take anything else away from her son. A few hot dogs and video games won't do any permanent damage… right? 

Cyril doesn't magically transform into a good person—or even a decent one—but he does prove to be a better role model than Robin expected. Gradually, she also begins to realize that Cyril may be the one person who truly understands the magnitude of her loss. 

He also knows far more about her husband's death than he’s been letting on.”

I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway and wasn’t sure what it was about when I started it because I was unplugged for the week and therefore couldn’t google the synopsis. I think it’s meant to be a suspenseful book, but there wasn’t a ton of suspense in it. That being said, it was still a good read and difficult for me to put down. The end definitely through me for a loop even if it was a little predictable.

14. Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant (2/5 ★)


It starts with a lie. The kind we've all told - to a former acquaintance we can't quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you're having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday - swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of...
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you're trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you - by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it's the lies that cause the real damage...
... well, by then, it could just be too late.”
Like the Surviving Cyril, this was another Goodreads win that I didn’t know the synopsis of when I began it. The main character is a 42 year old man who is just moving in with his mom because his friend couldn’t let him stay in his spare apartment any longer. He’s kind of a loser to be honest. This book was dull and I really had to persevere in powering through it until the last 30% where I was finally engaged enough to be dedicated in learning how the story ends. Up until then, the plot line was fairly indecipherable and I really had no idea what, exactly, the "problem" was.

Reading Challenge: 14/24 books

Stay tuned for March's books, coming to the blog on April 3rd!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

6 Podcasts for True Crime Lovers



Growing up, I always loved crime shows.  I remember being in middle school and watching CSI followed by Without A Trace on Thursday nights.  In high school, my favorite TV channel quickly became Investigation Discovery because it was filled with true crime shows.  Being a typical millennial, I haven't had cable in years, which means no more ID or other crime shows unless they're on Netflix or Hulu.  I've spent a lot of the last couple years in my car, driving between Clarksville and Huntsville on the weekends, to and from Nashville a couple times a week, and up to Minnesota and back for holidays.  As much as I love music, I needed something more to keep me company as I racked up the miles on my car.  This is when I decided to venture into the world of podcasts. Of the 13 podcasts that I am subscribed to, half of them are true crime, so I wanted to share my favorites!


1. Serial: Season 1

"A high-school senior named Hae Min Lee disappeared one day after school in 1999, in Baltimore County, Maryland.  A month later, he body was found in a city park.  She's been strangled.  Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was sentenced to life in prison.  The case against him was largely based on teh story of one witness, Adnan's friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body.  But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae's death.  Some people believe he's telling the true.  Many others don't."

I started Serial after hearing about it in an ad while listening to  S-Town (another great investigative journalism podcast produced by This American Life). At the time, they were still releasing season one episodes, but they do have two seasons out now. Hosted by Sarah Koenig, Serial only covers one crime in each season, so it goes into a lot of detail.  I did begin the second season, but I wasn't into it as much as I was the first season so I stopped listening to it.




2. Undisclosed

Like Serial, Undisclosed focuses on one case per season.  Since I had just listened to Serial and the case of Hae Min Lee/Adnan Syed, I was excited to find that season one of Undisclosed was on the same topic, because I could not get enough of this case.  I even ended up buying the audiobook about the case after finishing the Undisclosed season.  Another great thing about Undisclosed is that even though season one is over, they continue to release episodes as Adnan's case continues through present time.  I continue to listen to the new seasons of Undisclosed because they're just as engaging as the first.  As an added fun fact, their website offers the case files on each of the cases that they cover if you're looking for more information.


3. Up and Vanished

Hosted by documentarian Payne Lindsey, Up and Vanished explored the unsolved case of Tara Grinstad, a young woman who went missing in Georgia over 11 years ago.  As Lindsey investigated the case, new leads were discovered, and an arrest actually took place.  I loved that Lindsey incorporated news reports, interviews, and phone calls with people involved in the case into the episodes to get others' point of views and stories.  I'm really bummed that U&V didn't continue to release more seasons about other cases.




4. Sword and Scale 

Sword and Scale was recommended to me by a lot of people, and I could see why.  It covers a broad range of criminal activity, from murder, to kidnapping, to sexual assault.  S&S can get pretty graphic, but they usually provide warnings at the beginning of the episode, especially if it involves topics like sexual assault or child abuse.




5. True Crime Garage

This is definitely my favorite true crime podcast.  Hosted by beer aficionados Nic and The Captain, TCG explores a variety of crime.  They began by exploring a new crime each episode, but now each case sometimes spans two, three, or four episodes.  Sometimes the cases are closed, but sometimes they remain open to this day.  An added feature that most podcasts do not include is a short segment on beer!  TCG  takes place in an actual garage, and during each episode the hosts introduce the beer the're drinking, where it came from, and how they rate it.  Another thing I love about this podcast is that they have a recommended reading page on their website.  At the end of each episode, the guys share a couple true crime books that they recommend which are added to this page on their website.  As a book fiend and true crime lover, this feature is much appreciated!


6. Atlanta Monster

Atlanta Monster is a new true crime podcast hosted by one of my favorite podcast hosts, Payne Lindsey.  It focuses on the over 40-year-old Atlanta Child Murders.  Although a man was once arrested to the crime, many questions still exist that Lindsey is looking to have answered.  Like his previous podcast Up & Vanished, Payne includes true accounts from Atlanta residents and others who lived in the area during this era. This podcast has just begun, so I cannot speak to how good it is yet!


*BONUS*
Two more true crime podcasts that I have just started listening to are My Favorite Murder and Someone Knows Something.  I can't attest to how good they are yet, but if you're in need of new listening material, you could definitely try those ones out!

Please let me know in the comments or email if you have any other True Crime podcasts that you'd recommend! I'm always looking for new podcasts to listen to!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

DIY Coffee Sugar Scrub




My inspiration for this DIY project was the Cup O Coffee shower scrub from Lush.  I had received a sample of the scrub and used it as a face mask and fell in love! I do not like coffee, nor do I like the smell of it, but the scent is a small price to pay for how soft my skin felt after I used it.   Additionally, this Alabama winter is sucking the moisture out of me so I am in need of all the exfoliation I can find.




In order to make this scrub, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup coffee grinds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup liquid coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice



Directions: 

First, mix together the coffee grinds and sugar in a bowl.
Next, add the coconut oil, honey, and lemon juice and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Use immediately or store in an airtight container for later use.


Uses:

Use as a scrub in the shower, specifically focusing on rough areas such as elbows, knees, and heels.
You can use this as a face mask if desired.  Let sit on face for 15 minutes, then rinse off by gently massaging the mask into your skin as you rinse.



Benefits:

Coffee grinds make for a great exfoliate to rid your skin of dead skin cells.  Sugar also helps to exfoliate your skin and remove dead skin cells while cleaning your pores.  Coconut oil is both antibacterial and anti-fungal and it provides moisture to your skin.
Honey is a natural moisturizing anti-biotic and is helpful in preventing and getting rid of acne.  The antioxidants help slow down the aging of skin.  Lemon juice helps to cleanse your pours and to even out your skin tone.


Coffee sugar scrub is a great DIY project for yourself or as a gift for someone else, because you likely already have all the ingredients in your home! Plus, its so much cheaper than paying more than $2 per ounce of the Lush coffee scrub!

Pin me for later!


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - January




I set my Goodreads reading challenge at 24 books again for 2018. I beat it by 13 last year and am hoping to surpass it again this year. I had a list of books I wanted to get from the library to read this month, but turns out the library was closed for the month because they were moving locations.  Luckily, I still have plenty of unread books in a pile at home!

(Note: book descriptions come from Amazon.com but all reviews are my own)

1. You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (2/5 ★)

"In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you've never made before.


By the end of You Are a Badass, you'll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass."

I had been wanting to read this book for awhile so when Amazon had a $5/$15 book deal at the end of December I snagged it despite my "no buying books" declaration. I really, really, really wanted to like this book, and to learn from it, but I just didn't.  There was nothing original in it that I hadn't read in any other "self-help" book before (and I haven't read a whole lot of self-help books).  It was extraordinarily repetitive and quite frankly, not very helpful.  Basically the whole book summed up is, "believe you will, and you will." I'm absolutely a believe that in order to be successful, you do have to believe in yourself and your dreams, but you also have to work for them, and I felt like this book ignored the "work for them" part of that reality.


2. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (3/5 ★)

"Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch. The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them. There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive. Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off."

This was my first audiobook of the year.   I loved The Maze Runner when I read it back in college before the movie came out, so I had bought the whole series.  I never got around to reading them and ended up getting rid of them. I saw the audiobook at the library and figured I would give it a go.  I didn't love the audiobook, and I'm not sure if I would have liked it better in print or not.  That being said I was getting anxious to know what happened to the kids when they got out of the maze which made this book a little more interesting. 

3. The Death Cure by James Dashner (2/5 ★)

"WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test. What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say.Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all. The time for lies is over."

It's not often I say this, but I should have just waited for the movie without reading (or rather listening to) this book. This was the last book in the trilogy, and to be honest I thought it was kind of dull.  Again, its possible that is just because I listened to it as an audiobook rather than reading it in print.  I will definitely see the movie (released in theaters on January 17) now that I have listened to the audiobook though.



4. Now Go Out There (and get curious) by Mary Karr

"A celebration of curiosity, compassion, and the surprising power of fear, based on the New York Times bestselling author and renowned professor’s 2015 commencement address at Syracuse University.


Every year there are one or two commencement speeches that strike a chord with audiences far greater than the student bodies for which they are intended. In 2015 Mary Karr’s speech to the graduating class of Syracuse University caught fire, hailed across the Internet as one of the most memorable in recent years, and lighting up the Twittersphere.
In Now Go Out There, Karr explains why having your heart broken is just as—if not more—important than falling in love; why getting what you want often scares you more than not getting it; how those experiences that appear to be the worst cannot be so easily categorized; and how to cope with the setbacks that inevitably befall all of us. “Don’t make the mistake of comparing your twisted up insides to other people’s blow-dried outsides,” she cautions. “Even the most privileged person in this stadium suffers the torments of the damned just going about the business of being human.”
An ideal—and beautifully designed—gift for a graduate or for anyone looking for some down-to-earth life advice, Now Go Out There is destined to become a classic."

Okay so technically this is a book, but its not actually a story.  It is literally just her speech spread out across pages and bound into a book which is why I did not give it a rating.  Its a great speech, but I would guess you can probably just find it on the internet if you wanted to read it.  That being said, I think it would be a great "guest book" for a graduation party!



5. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle (5/5 ★)

"Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out―three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list―her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.
Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another—and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they've been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true—true to themselves and to each other.
Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life."

I had seen Glennon speak at Together Live in Nashville last fall and I knew immediately that I wanted to read her book.  She is a fascinating speaker and storyteller.  Lucky for me, there were piles of her book outside the door as we left! I was not let down.  Glennon's story growing up was so different than my own and her writing about her struggles is exquisite and beautiful.  I envy her writing talent and her ability to put feelings into words.  This was definitely the best book I read this month, hands down.


6. I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi (2/5 ★)


"With over 500,000 readers a month at her enormously popular blog, AwesomelyLuvvie.com, Luvvie Ajayi is a go-to source for smart takes on pop culture. I'm Judging You is her debut book of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digital, connected lives. It passes on lessons and side-eyes on life, social media, culture, and fame, from addressing those terrible friends we all have to serious discussions of race and media representation to what to do about your fool cousin sharing casket pictures from Grandma's wake on Facebook.
With a lighthearted, razor sharp wit and a unique perspective, I'm Judging You is the handbook the world needs, doling out the hard truths and a road map for bringing some "act right" into our lives, social media, and popular culture. It is the Do-Better Manual."

I am going to start my saying that Luvvie is an AMAZING speaker so if you get the chance to see her speak I would highly encourage it!  Because of that, I expected to LOVE her book.  Unfortunately it took me a really long time to get into. It began talking about all these types of “friends” and essentially how each type is bad but she talks about each friend as though she is describing an actual person in her life. I just keep reading thinking, “if they’re so bad, why do you still call them friends?” Then it continued to whine about societal standards and relationships and social media habits and so on and so forth.  That being said, she did make a lot of very valid points later in the book in terms of racism, homophobia and privilege which is why I gave this book two stars instead of zero.  I really loved what she had to say in these chapters, but it was still difficult to power through it.  If you choose to read this book, I recommend you skip the beginning chapters because they read like a bad Elite Daily article...so much whining! I'm a pretty positive person who doesn't care to dwell on the negatives and I do everything I can to change or eliminate the bad stuff in my life, which is why I was so turned off by this book.  If you're a Negative Nancy, then this book may interest you, but if you're a fairly positive person like myself then do yourself a favor and give this book a hard pass. (Side note: if you took a shot every time she use the phrase "side eye," you would be smashed by page 5. SERIOUS SIDE EYE OVERLOAD.)


7. Clean by Amy Reed (4/5 ★)

"Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. And they certainly don’t want to share their darkest secrets and most desperate fears with a room of strangers. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves—and one another—if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down."

After struggling through that last book, I needed an easy read and this was the perfect choice.  Our public library just re-opened in a new building at the end of January and it is SO NICE! Clean is a young adult book that I would recommend for late middle schoolers/early high schoolers.  That being said, I enjoyed it as a 26 year old because as far as I'm concerned books know no age levels.



One last bit of information, if you love to read I recommend you first, get a Goodreads account, second: add me as a friend, and third: enter the Goodreads book giveaways! I just discovered these mid-October and I've already won 10+ books. Its a great way to try new books that you may not buy otherwise, and get advanced reader copies!

Reading Challenge: 7/24 books

Friday, February 2, 2018

Flashback Friday: Florida 2004

**This post is part of a Flashback Friday series. I will be posting photos from the trips I took as a kid accompanied by the journal entries I kept while traveling**



3/24/04                8:50PM

Zzzzzzzz we’ve been in the car for 5 hours and 40 minutes taking a 20 minute break at McDonald’s to eat.  I think I’m gonna barf.  I have to sit in back of the station wagon and it is so hot and stuffy back here.  It is very uncomfortable.  I think I’m gonna break my back.  We are in Illinois.  I’ve seen two accidents.  At the first there were seven cop cars and I don’t know what happened and at the second one there was a car with a trailer.  The trailer came unhooked and tipped over.  The car drove into a ditch.  I am so bored.  I already used my first set of batteries up in my Walkman.


3/24/04                10:36PM

Dude, that was so cool! We just went to Phillips 66 which is a gas station.  A guy who worked at Fazoli’s was there.  Someone paid him with a $50 bill that was counterfeit.  The guy at Phillips 66 could tell because he had a marker and when you wrote on a real bill it was yellow.  When you wrote on a fake bill it was black. TT4N.


3/25/04                6:05AM at home, 7:05AM here

I just saw army cars on a train.  We are in Tennessee.  I am writing down the license plate states.


3/25/04                7:47AM at home, 8:47AM here

A while ago we saw a car in a ditch that fell off of the bridge.  And we call Iowans dumb! Right now we are stick in lines of traffic aka a traffic jam, and at 8:47 in the morning!  We still have awhile to go, and it doesn’t help much that we’re barely moving.  I’m about to fall asleep.  I must have listened to at least 654 songs by now.  Right now I am listening to “I’m a Believer.” Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!


3/25/04                1:04PM at home, 2:04PM here

We are finally in Florida but we still have 4 hours until we get to our place that we are staying.  It is sooooooooooooooo hot in the car and I have a headache.  I am all sticky because Isaac just spilled Sierra Mist all over me.  We went through a dust storm earlier.  If I have to be stuck in this car much longer I’m going to explode.

(Note: Yes, we drove straight from MN to FL without stopping somewhere to stay overnight.  Also it’s nice to see I was just as dramatic as a child as I am now :P)


3/25/04                6:58PM at home, 7:58PM here

We finally got to the villa and it almost looks the same as last time.  My head hurts so bad it is about to explode.  Tomorrow we are going to Sea World.  We ate Hardees for breakfast and Krystal’s, which is like White Castle, for lunch.  Who knows what we’re having for supper.  Mom and Grandma are taking forever to get back from wherever they went.



3/26/04                8:44PM at home, 9:44PM here

Today we went to Sea World.  It was kinda boring.  I liked the Journey to Atlantis, Kraken, the dolphin show, and the whale show.  The Wild Artic was alright.  Everyone kept screaming and it wasn’t even scary.  Mom and grandma are sick, Dad has a headache, and I have a headache and a case of the hiccups.  Tomorrow we are meeting the Kramers at Universal Studios.





3/27/04                

Today we went to Universal Studios.  We watched Slime Time Live.  My favorite ride was Men in Black: Alien Attack.  On there, you shoot aliens.  My score was 60,325 and Sam’s was 30,125.  I liked Twister as well.  On there you got to stand on a porch and there was a twister coming and it was raining on us.  There were fires and a flying cow.  Other things we went to were: Earthquake, Shrek: 4D, Terminator 2: 3-D, Jimmy Neutron, Back to the Future, Woody Woodpecker’s Rollercoaster, Beetlejuice’s Graveyard, Animal Planet Live, The ET Adventure, and Slime Time Live.  I got autographs and pictures of Angelica, Chuckie, Tommy, Eliza, Donnie, Princess Fiona, and Woody Woodpecker.  I also got pictures of Shrek and SpongeBob.  At 9:00PM there was a parade.  It was about Mardi Gras.  There were real Mardi Gras floats with people on it who threw bead necklaces at us.  There were tall people with stilts too!  It was fun!  I got 3 matching bracelets for Bethany, me, and Amanda.  I also got a t-shirt that says Mardi Gras on it. TA4N!









3/28/04

Today we stayed at the condo.  We went swimming and got burnt.  We went to Downtown Disney.  I got a hockey puck.  It was very boring.




3/29/04

We went to Epcot.  I made a mask.  We went on Test Track twice.  I went on Mission: Space.  It was really fun.  Me and Sam had to steer four things.  We went on Spaceship Earth twice.  It was kinda boring since we have already been here.  We had two beaver tails each.

Enjoying our beaver tails from Canada





3/30/04

We went to Islands of Adventure.  I went on Hulk and Spiderman three times.  We saw two shows, Sinbad and Poseidon.  I went on Dueling Dragons twice.  I went on Dudley’s Rip-saw.  We got really wet then.  We also got really wet on Jurassic Park’s River adventure.  That was fun.  I went on it twice.  We also went to Jimmy Buffet’sMargaritaville.


3/31/04

Today we went to Clearwater Beach.  We got really sunburned.  The water was real gross.  It made me gag.  I got some shells.  We stayed at Comfort Inn.  It was really got.  The sand was really white.  There were two parks there.  We built a sand hockey rink.  The waves were big and fun.




4/1/04

I played the first April Fool’s joke!  It was on Sam.  We went shopping with Rick and Helen.  I got two things: a beach in a bag and a sun catcher.  We drove to Birmingham, Alabama.  We went to three hotels before we finally found one with a non-smoking room.  The hotel we finally stayed at was really nice.


Previous Flashback Friday posts: