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How Do You Normally Spend the Fourth of July?

July 1st, 2009 · No Comments

How do you normally spend the Fourth of July?

Being a Native Atlantan, I have celebrated the Fourth at almost every major fireworks extravaganza in the city at one time or another.

As a very young child we would watch the fireworks at Lenox Mall and I believe also at Perimeter Mall.  I do not remember much about these celebrations as we moved from there shortly before my 7th birthday.  I do remember the noise bothering me one year and I am pretty sure I screamed my head off that year.  Luckily for my younger siblings, my parents were patient with me and continued to take us to fireworks displays even when my younger siblings were born.

In my family growing up, going to see the fireworks at Stone Mountain was a tradition as a child.  This is before there was even a nightly Laser Show.  We would trek out for the fireworks.  Instead of actually going into the park with the younger children who would be frightened by the noise, we parked a few miles away.  When the Laser Show started, the fireworks and Fourth of July celebration was awesome!  There would be the 45 minute Laser Show and then a 15 – 20 minute firework show.  Before the Laser Show, we would take a picnic dinner to have on the lawn.  It turned into a day long celebration that is very hard to beat.

When I lived in Rome, Georgia, there were fireworks on the levy with the Rome City Orchestra playing live music before the fireworks.  It was a community event and the place to be in Rome. In addition to the fireworks in Rome, my parents took us back to Stone Mountain several years for the fireworks and Laser Show.  So, we would have fireworks 2 or 3 days in a row for the Fourth of July.

As a married adult, we have also done fireworks locally in our community.  Those are usually a bust as there is no way our small town can compete with the extravaganza that is Stone Mountain or Lenox Mall.  We have done Lenox Mall a couple of times.  Lenox is fun but the music is hard to hear.  Still, being around all those other Americans to celebrate the Fourth gives me such a sense of pride in our country and patriotism.

Of course, Lee and I have done fireworks at Stone Mountain, which despite the huge crowd and long lines to get out of the park, is my absolute favorite.  It reminds me of the fun times I had as a child celebrating with my family.  It reminds me of the fun times I have had as an adult.  It is as American to me as Apple Pie – well, actually Peach Pie, which we normally have on the Fourth in my house.

This year, we will participate in Tea Party Patriots events on Friday and Saturday night.  We will probably wind up seeing the fireworks from Downtown Atlanta.  I think that might be the only major venue in the city I have not seen the fireworks from.  It should be a fun Fourth.  Maybe I’ll even convince Lee that we should make the trek to Stone Mountain 1 day to extend the holiday into a 3 day celebration.  Regardless, my kids cannot wait for it!

And, neither can their mom.

→ No CommentsTags: Observations and Everyday Life

Surviving the Lien Years – Part 7 Our Growing Family and Lee’s Growing Company

May 12th, 2009 · No Comments

Rebuilding after Financial Crisis and Bankruptcy in a Recession (Part 7)

This is an ongoing post in the series Surviving the Lien Years – Rebuilding after Financial Crisis and Bankruptcy in a RecessionOur Growing Family and Lee’s Growing Company is part seven in the series about how my husband and I are surviving the lien years (financial crisis and bankruptcy).

Eventually, after 10 cycles on Clomid and 5 rounds of IUI, we did become pregnant and had our precious children.  During the nine months of pregnancy the only real complaint I had was the severe heartburn.  Other than that, I relished every ache and pain and change in my body.  I was so grateful for the opportunity to be pregnant and fully aware that I may never be pregnant again so I made sure I savored every single moment.

In March of 2003, we celebrated the arrival of our twins, Tyler and Caroline (forever to be named this in the blog in addition to BusyBoy and GigglyGirl but not their real names).  Oh, life was sweet in 2003! I was tired from the lack of sleep and taking care of two children but I was so grateful each night for having 2 children to take care of.  Our prayers were answered.  I pretty much withdrew from everything I had previously been involved with for several months to enjoy the time the twins were small.  Even though we wanted more children, I knew that it might never happen again and was determined to cherish every moment that I possibly could.  I do not think I have ever cherished those long, sleepless nights but the daytime hours were cherish-able.

In 2005, Lee had the opportunity to expand his business to California.  At least it seemed like an opportunity.  In retrospect, he should have turned it down even if it meant losing a client but hindsight is always 20/20.  The laws for small businesses to startup in California (especially businesses that will employ many people and need lots of workers’ comp insurance) are brutal and the government entities involved in allowing a company to startup in California are painfully slow and run by lifetime bureaucrats.  The company used its meager savings and racked up new debt starting the branch in California.

→ No CommentsTags: Budget and Frugality · Entreprenuership

Rebuilding After Financial Crisis – Part 6 Learning Hard Lessons

May 11th, 2009 · No Comments

Rebuilding after Financial Crisis and Bankruptcy in a Recession (Part 6)

This is an ongoing post in the series Surviving the Lien Years – Rebuilding after Financial Crisis and Bankruptcy in a RecessionLearning Hard Lessons is part six in the about how my husband and I are surviving the lien years (financial crisis and bankruptcy).

After being married for almost 9 years, I left THD in April, 2001.  My primary motivating factor for leaving was because we had been trying to get pregnant for nearly 2 years and had been unsuccessful.  We knew something was wrong but did not know what or how long it would ultimately take to become pregnant.   What I did know was that I did not want all my (mostly male) co-workers to learn about these intimate details of my life.  We had planned our finances with the ultimate goal in mind that I could stop working to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom.  Since according to our plans, we should have already been able to allow me to quit working, we had the financial means for me to stop and the motivation as well.  Lee thought in addition to the upcoming doctor visits that it would be extremely helpful to him if I was home throughout the day.  He was working 60+ hours a week and did not have the energy or the inclination to come home to do laundry, cook, clean, etc.  It would be easier if he knew that many of these tasks were taken care of and I was ready for a break from corporate America anyway.

My grandmother’s death and Lee’s business startup prepared us for what was truly our first major life hurdle and life let down.  We had set goals and worked hard to achieve them throughout our marriage.  While my grandmother’s death was difficult for us, she was “old” and it is somewhat normal in a life cycle for grandparents to die.  So, here we were in our large house with lots of bedrooms waiting to be filled.

As we began treatments for infertility, Lee bought out one of his business partners and racked up some debt in the process.  While things on the fertility front were not very good for us, his business was doing well.  He brought on new staff to help grow the business.

The fertility treatments were nightmares.  The hormones were wreaking havoc on my body emotionally and physically.  With each passing month and negative pregnancy test results, my depression, anger, and frustration over being unable to reproduce grew.  That depression, naturally, intensified in the wake of the terror attacks on 9-11.  I seriously considered giving up on trying to conceive and instead enlisting in the military.  In the end, Lee convinced me that was not the right decision for our lives or for me physically.

As with many American businesses after the terror attacks on 9-11, Lee’s business suffered financially.  We had to reinvest money we had saved into the company to keep it afloat.  The company was not strong enough to support a week of America being shutdown.  We really never stopped to think twice about re-investing our money into the company.  The company needed it, the thousands of people he was employing through the temporary company needed it, and it seemed like the right thing to do.  We probably should have stopped to think twice about it.  At this point, we no longer had much savings and our entire financial portfolio was tied up in 1 stream of income.

Our marriage grew stronger during this time as we had to face various medical and life decisions.  Lee was a solid rock for me during this trying period.  I could barley watch a baptism at church without falling apart emotionally but Lee stood by me every step of the way.  If I had to leave church or a movie or any other event early because of my emotions, he was right there helping me out the door before I broke down into tears.  I became a master at evading questions about family planning.  What business was it of others anyway!?  While silently and privately I was in hell, outwardly I did the best I could to keep a positive attitude.  Keeping that positive attitude and training myself to compartmentalize was preparing me for even greater challenges in the years to come.

→ No CommentsTags: Budget and Frugality · Entreprenuership

Need a Faster Computer? Add Memory and Save Money

May 5th, 2009 · No Comments

You know the story. You buy a brand new super fast computer and a few months later they release faster and superer (my word) computers that relegate yours to antique status. Constant rapid advances in technology and the increased role of memory hogging graphics, video, and audio in web content make it mandatory for you to frequently blow money on new hardware.

Well, it may be possible for you to improve your computing experience without forking over the cash for a whole new computer. There’s a good chance your computer has expansion slots that will allow you to add more memory (RAM). Adding more memory will allow you to open larger files, deal with more files simultaneously, and run more advanced software. And memory is very inexpensive right now. So it’s a good time to buy.

I recommend visiting the website http://crucial.com/. This site has a handy tool that will scan your machine and tell you how much memory can be added to your motherboard. It will also give you several options and the ability to order it online. But you can also buy your memory at most office supply stores.

If you’re comfortable opening up your computer and plugging in a new chip, take a look at this video for a basic walk-through of how to add memory to a computer.

I hope you found this post helpful. Check out today’s Works for Me Wednesday for other money saving tips from fellow bloggers.

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My Addiction to Reading – Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Book #9)

May 5th, 2009 · No Comments

The newest book by Charlaine Harris, Dead and Gone, just came out today. All day long I was twitching with anxious anticipation of the trip I had planned to the bookstore in the late afternoon. Fortunately I survived the day and made it to the local Barnes & Noble in time to pick up my copy.

I began reading it immediately in the car while my husband drove us to dinner. I even sneaked in a few pages at the dinner table while my kids were focused on their pasta and my husband on his baked chicken. They love me and understand my need to read, so they let it slide.

For those of you not familiar with this series of books, they center around a Louisiana girl named Sookie Stackhouse. She lives in present day America with a twist. Vampires exist and, thanks to a synthetic blood that they can drink without killing people, they have gone public in an effort to join mainstream society. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, and there are a lot of other supernatural creatures lurking out there as well. Sookie, of course, is right in the middle of all of them, and it turns out she has some supernatural secrets of her own.

HBO turned the books into a series called True Blood, which is one of the brand names of the synthetic blood, like Coke is to cola.

The series is a little weird, but highly addictive. I recommend ordering all 9 books right away so that you can immediately move from one book into the next without waiting! ;-)

The links that you see below are to buy the set of books 1 through 7, then book #8, then the first season DVD from HBO. Happy reading!

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