"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In Memory of Keri- A Request for Support

Keri Denise Brown Still

Keri's daughter, Kellyn

If you have noticed on the right side of my blog here for the past month, I have had information about the Charlotte Walk to Defeat ALS on May 31. I got involved in this walk and with this organization in the most random way.
I get the Winston-Salem Journal in electronic format every day, and a few months ago, I clicked on a banner entitled "Help Keri". This linked to a website that told the story of Keri Denise Brown Still and her fight with ALS. She was pregnant when she was diagnosed, and she fought so hard to see as much of her daughter's life as possible. Keri lost her battle with ALS, and although I had never met her or her family, I was so touched by this story. First, I didn't know that ALS struck people so young, and I didn't know how terribly quick it takes the lives of those diagnosed. Secondly, I just admired Keri's spirit, before and after her diagnosis, and the deep friendships that were apparent through those that supported her. And finally, the love of her family was so special, and the loss to them, so evident.
So, I am walking in Keri's memory, and so that her little girl, Kellyn, can hopefully grow up and know a world without ALS. If you can donate, or would like to join the walk, please click here. Every dollar helps me reach my goal.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wii had so much fun!

I traveled to the exotic land of Trinity, NC to visit my friend Cassandra tonight. Her brother Jimmy and his wife Melissa (whom we call Lucy), and their son IV (pronounced iv--and whom I instinctively call Ivlet) all joined us. I had been on the lookout for a Wii for them, and my local Gamestop store got a shipment in on Friday, I got one for them and delivered it. I think all of the adults were *almost* as excited as IV was.
We played the Wii Sports game that came with it, and it was so much fun, and it was amazing to watch the 6 year old pretty much kick all of our butts, and catch on and adapt so quickly. The Wii in itself is amazing, I can pretty much guarantee I would never be interested in playing any other game system, but this one is addictive, and so much fun. I love the way it is entertaining for a whole family--and any age level.
IV is such a cutie, and so entertaining just being himself. He is so animated and funny, and a bundle of energy. Cassandra has told me so many IV stories, and I loved getting to finally meet him, he is such a little character! I missed Cassandra's son, Spencer, tonight, I will have to come back when both he and IV are there!
As I mentioned in another blog entry, I lived with Cassandra and her family for a while in high school, and Jimmy was just a little older than IV is now at that time. It is hard to believe that Jimmy is now a father! But he is, and it was fun to watch him with IV and Lucy.
After we played all the Wii games we could handle, we headed upstairs to the other game system to try Sing Star--which judges your singing skills as you sing a duet with a partner into microphones hooked into the system. It was a riot. The words to the songs come up on the screen- similar to karaoke, and little IV can't read, but did not want to be left out. So after listening to us sing a song once, he would insist on giving it a shot. He sang a Cheap Trick song, and then Born to be Wild with Me, my sides and head hurt from laughing.

All in all, a really fun night with friends that are more like family.

-Kim >^..^<


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tag, I'm It

I was tagged on my friend Cassandra's blog. It was actually fun thinking through all these questions.

Four jobs I have had in my life: (I have to laugh, I have had so many weird jobs!)
1. Marketing Manager/ Director
2. Sales Representitive for a school yearbook company
3. Nanny
4. Car rental airport shuttle driver (livin' the dream)

Four movies I've watched more than once:
1. Silence of the Lambs
2. The Devil Wears Prada
3. Infamous
4. Little Miss Sunshine

T.V. Shows that I watch: (ok, before you ask, YES, I do know there are new TV shows out there. I just rarely watch primetime)
1. Frasier (I can watch the episodes over and over, I am on my way to owning all the seasons!)
2. Oprah
3. Dateline NBC
4. The Tudors- I JUST discovered this and got hooked!

Four places I have been:
1. Paris, France
2. Vancouver, Canada
3. Ixtapa, Mexico
4. London, England

Four People who e-mail me (regularly):
1. Cassandra
2. Kim L.
3. Lisa
4. Mom

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Strawberries
2. Tomatoes
3. Goat cheese
4. Avocados

Four Places I would like to visit:
1. Australia
2. Ireland
3. Greece
4. Vermont in the Fall ( I have ALWAYS wanted to do this--and every Fall something happens and I can't make it happen).

Things I am looking forward to in the coming year:
1. Taking French classes
2. (Hopefully) taking a trip to Paris
3. Spending time with friends
4. Road trips

Ok, four people I tag:
None of my friends have blogs--but a few of them should! So, I can't tag anyone, but I think I will forward this via email to Kim L., Judith, Lisa, and Meredith. (these are also my friends that I think should be blogging! Meredith's, in particular, would be hilarious!!)


Friday, April 18, 2008

Makes Me Wander

This week I was in California--first for a conference in San Francisco for eMarketing, and then I drove to San Jose to my company's office there. I always get nostalgic when I am there, thinking about the times I lived there. It is a beautiful time of year now, a little chilly in San Francisco, but the city is just gorgeous.
While I was in San Jose, I went to a little store I always go to that carries a lot of Paris items. It is the sweetest little store, and I always find something I have to have.
After I visited there, I wandered around to another little street I haven't visited before. There were a few little jewelry stores and nick nack places. I was basically window shopping when I came across this:

I just cracked up. I HAD to go immediately in the store and buy this. I could just see that tagline sitting on my desk. So I go through the door, making a beeline for this magnet set, I saw exactly where it was. There were a few other funny things on the wall next to it. I noticed that the sales women were being very quiet and looking at me a little funny. I noticed some weird bra hanging next to the magnet set. Then, I turned around and realized I was in a ....well....a naughty store. I mean, a really naughty store. The lingerie in there made Frederick's of Hollywood look like Brooks Brothers.
I am no prude, but it was just so funny that I had totally missed what I was walking into. But, I still walked up to the counter and made my purchase. I walked out and cracked up.
-Kim >^..^<


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Real" Beauty?

I love all of the Dove ads, and their campaign for real beauty-and their fight for the self esteem of our young girls. They took a risk-- a huge one initially, and it has paid off for them. These ads are healthier for young girls (and women, for that matter) to see vs. the stick figures we normally see hawking everything from clothing to cold cream.

The ad shown was persented at a conference I attended in a session on viral marketing. This Dove ad was shown purely on the internet, and made the rounds, and made an impact. This is such a great ad, and so true these days. You can't trust most of the images you see in magazines, billboards and the like, and so many young girls base their body image on those images.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Wheels

As my friends all know, I have been driving a Honda Element for a little over a year now (I got it used)--and it has been the first car of mine that I have ever looooved. The one I had was the lower end (LX), and I decided to upgrade and get a new one, an EX, (in the photo).

I love it! The Elements make me question why anyone EVER put carpet in cars in the first place. The interior of the Element is all water-proof--you can pretty much hose out the entire thing, but the seats are still cool looking and comfy. Also, the back seats flip up and fold completely to the side so you can transport a LOT of stuff in the back of it. Plus, I get about the same gas mileage as my Civic did (I always drove Civics before).

This one is an EX, so the next time I go somewhere with my friend Cassandra, I won't have to listen to her bitch that there are no armrests on the front seats, (OK, that was annoying), that I didn't have keyless entry, and that there was no vanity mirror on the passenger side. (yeah, it was a LONG weekend with her to Atlanta-LOL). All those things (and some other cool stuff) are standard with the EX.

Anyway, it's always exciting getting a new car.

-Kim >^..^<


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Olympic Shame?

I have actually been quietly proud to see so many protestors turning out as the Olympic torch makes its journey. My two favorite cities, Paris and San Francisco, were the most recent locations, and they did not disappoint. The passion in so many people willing to show their support for the struggle in Tibet to me is proof that we, as a people, have not lost our humanity, or our ability to recognize the need to speak up and come together.
I have been turning over this idea in my head--should we--the US--and other countries boycott the Olympics this time around since they are held in China? The main reason being the Tibet issue, but there are so many other reasons in dealing with China. And anyone who thinks that the Olympics are not political is kidding themselves. The Olympics are about sports and goodwill, but we cannot all put blinders on during that time and forget everything else--especially not the arrogance of the abandonment of human rights. I do think the choice to host them there was a flawed one.
But I always think of the athletes when I think of the boycotts. How far apart the Olympic games are--and how this may be one athlete's one chance--and that boycott may not make the impact we hope on the world, but may mean the end of dreams --and livelihoods for athletes that don't deserve to pay for the world's shortcomings.
It's a double-edged sword and both are great arguments. Then, last night, I read an article in Time Magazine, by a writer named David Von Drehle. I loved the message he conveys, and he addresses this issue head on. While the lines may not be as clear for this Olympics as they were in Berlin, I think I have to, in the end, see Drehle's viewpoint. And there needs to be more responsiblity placed on the choice of the location for the games.

The following is the last paragraph from Drehle's article. You can read the full article here.

"But boycotts are empty gestures. Governments boycott, athletes suffer, and the only thing that changes is that the credibility of the Olympics as a festival of goodwill suffers another dent. Jesse Owens had the right idea. In 1936 he led the U.S. team at Hitler's Berlin Olympics--a black man in the land of Aryan supremacy. His four gold medals proved that quiet excellence can be a most eloquent statement."

Photo credits: Paris: Francois Mori/AP Photo, San Francisco: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo


Monday, April 7, 2008

Late Night Cooking

I have become such a fan of Heidi Swanson, through an email subscription to 101cookbooks.com, which she created. I get recipes emailed to me, and I love almost all of them that I try. Her stuff is vegetarian, healthy, light, and yummy.
It is late here, and I am up working, doing laundry, and I had made a trip to the grocery store earlier and picked up things to make this casserole. I absolutely love it! My favorite thing about it is that it is a pasta casserole without being a heavy cream base- or a tomato sauce base. It is light and tasty. The almonds make it!

Baked Pasta Casserole Recipe

I use whole wheat shells here, but feel free to experiment with other short pasta. If you are in a pinch for time forget the baking all together and just toss the cooked pasta with the spinach skillet, and sprinkle with the mozzarella before serving.

extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound whole wheat pasta shells
sea salt
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups well-chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, lightly toasted
zest of 2 lemons
8 ounces mozzerella, shredded or torn into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter/oil a large casserole dish or baking pan - something roughly equivalent to 13x9-inch pan.
Boil the pasta in salted water per package instructions. Drain pasta, toss with a glug of olive oil. Set aside.
In the meantime, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Saute the onions with a couple pinches of salt for a few minutes (or if you want a bit more depth of flavor until caramelized). Stir in garlic. Stir in spinach. Cook for just about 20 seconds, until the spinach collapses a bit. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the almonds and 1/2 of the zest. Add to pasta and stir and stir - mixing extremely well, a minute or so.
Now sprinkle the bottom of baking dish with the rest of the zest. Add a layer of the pasta to the bottom of the baking pan, now sprinkle with some of the cheese, add more pasta, then more cheese. Finish with a layer of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and melty. Serve sprinkled with the remaining almonds.
Serves 8.

Visit http://www.101cookbooks.com/ for more great recipes from Heidi!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Don't Get Me Started

(photo of Nixzmary Brown, just 7 years old when she died at the hands of her stepfather)

I get CNN news alerts in my inbox, and while there are so many troubling things going on in the world, I am constantly amazed and troubled by the cases of severe child abuse, neglect, and death in the news. How many times does this have to happen before we learn our lessons? Why isn't the world, or at least our nation, stopping, gasping, and addressing this?
I am afraid because we think the all too many, but only dozens of severe cases we see in the news in our little corners of the world are the only ones that are happening. I was a Guardian ad Litem while I was in college, and I quickly learned that the number of these cases--that rival the Susan Smith's and the one listed below--are staggering--and that was in ONE county in NC.
Yes, our social workers are terribly overloaded. YES, they are one source of the problem. But, in my opinion, it is the laws and the sentences that are a main issue. NO ONE gets the sentences they deserve in these cases. There is no fear for parents and stepparents and what they do to their children--who often GET RETURNED to them after multiple abuse situations.
In fact in 1987, there was a terrible case that received national attention (and that has always stayed in my memory). It was the Lisa Steinberg case, and was so terrible and tragic, that New Yorker's vowed NEVER AGAIN. And sadly, all over New York, all over the US, this happens every day. Lisa Steinberg's adoptive father, Joel Steinberg, was released from prison in 2004. Click here for the article about his release. He NEVER should have been.

But, read the article below and tell me how this is not classified as a MURDER case? It wasn't. He was convicted of other things, but a MURDER conviction would have gotten him a Life Sentence, or worse, which is what he deserved. So sad, and unfortunately, so prevalent.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The man convicted in the gruesome death of his 7-year-old stepdaughter has been sentenced to 26 1/3 years in prison.
Cesar Rodriguez was convicted last month of charges including manslaughter in Nixzmary Brown's January 2006 death. The stepfather was acquitted of murder.
Rodriguez stood up in court, his head shaven at this point, and told the judge, "I am sorry for causing any emotional pain."
"I love Nixzmary and I am accused of something that I did not do," he went on to say. "But I will do my sentence."
Rodriguez admitted he had abused Nixzmary, but denied killing her.
At Rodriguez' trial, prosecutors said the 36-pound girl had been bound to a chair, starved and forced to urinate in a litter box. Social workers had been alerted but found no conclusive evidence of abuse.
Prosecutors had asked for consecutive sentences, which would have totaled 29 years. But they were bunched together, meaning the total is 26 1/3 years.
At one point, the prosector also relayed a story. She said that Nixzmary's brother, Javier, when told of his stepfather's conviction, said, "I hope that he is frail and weak when he gets out of prison so that he can't hurt any other children."
Defense attorneys argue that if anyone is guilty of this crime, it is the mother. She faces a murder trial later this year.
They were looking for a minimum sentence of only 15 years.
(Copyright ©2008 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)



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