A day of many firsts at Unicoi State Park.

Wow. Where do I begin? My Saturday began as I groggily stumbled out of bed and hopped on my computer. šŸ™‚ As I began my daily ritual of checking my various e-mail accounts and bank accounts to make sure no overdrafts had miraculously occurred, I heard Matt’s phone ring. Normally, my first instinct is to not answer his phone, but when I saw the caller ID, I knew I had to take the call. It was Julie and she pretty much said, “We are on our way to a quaint little town called Helen. Wanna come?” My response was, “Hell, yes”ƂĀ  because I’m up for seeing Benjy and his parents any time! šŸ™‚ Besides, I like to try new things no matter how dangerous they may seem as you will understand later. lol. Unbeknownst to Julie and Jonathan, I had to do the unthinkable by agreeing to head over to Helen with them: I had to wake Matt up. lol. Thankfully, he was a good sport and as it turned out, his chauffeur services weren’t needed anymore as they (J & J) decided to come pick me up instead.

The ride to Helen was fun as always. Julie, Jonathan and I have a good rapport and similar tastes in humor so there were no awkward silences, etc. It’s always fun to watch them around their little boy. Anyhow, we got to Helen after a few false alarms a la getting lost, etc. Apparently, it’s not just a Banick thing to get lost on the high ways. lol. The Wilsons suffer from that predicament as well. At least, I don’t even claim to know my bearings so I’m pretty much useless in these situations. lmao. Anyhow, we got there and it was all thanks to Matt’s dad, Bill. He’s cool to hang with because he has so much background knowledge. Back to the story, the event that drew us all (yours truly, Julie, Jonathan, Baby Ben, Bill & Bill’s friend) was primarily an outdoor festival (not in the Nigerian sense of festivals). The event was billed as the Outdoor Adventure day at Unicoi State Park in Helen, GA. Helen, the town, was simply breathtaking. It felt as if I was in a fairytale where the houses were made of gingerbread or some other edible substance. I felt like a kid in a candy store and I was really glad I went. The town is actually modeled after a Bavarian town (Munich) in Germany and they were preparing for Oktoberfest in Helen. I definitely intend on seeing more of North Georgia because of the gorgeous vistas (Cloudland Canyon State Park, etc), the general atmosphere and other attractions. Many thanks go out to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR), GADNR volunteers and the many other organizations (.PDF) that were present. As I visit more of Georgia’s State Parks, I grow to love Georgia more and I’ve come to understand (hat tip to Bill) that due to the projected budget deficit in Georgia, some state parks will be closing. Cloudland Canyon is apparently on the chopping block along with 12 other state parks. Please take the time to fill out this petition to urge lawmakers to keep at least 6 of the parks that are on this list. Some of the events that were going on included: skeet shooting which is an Olympic sport also, trout fishing, police dog demonstrations, et cetera.

Continue reading A day of many firsts at Unicoi State Park.

I’m a auntie

Whooeee!. šŸ˜€ Where do I begin? I’ll just have to use bullet points to summarize all that has gone down.

  • Mrs. W had her baby! The little guy was a little bigger than everyone had expected (8lbs 6oz) which had her thanking God she didn’t wait another week or so to meet her official due date. Her water broke in the wee hours of the morning and the calls went out. M got the news from his mom and when I got up around 5am to pee, he told me. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. I could NOT stop talking and I forced M (who stayed up pretty late) to drive us to the hospital to see her. In looking back at the pictures that were taken of all family members who were at the hospital, just look for the girl with the crazy look in her eyes. šŸ™‚ It’ll probably help that I was also the only brown skinned person there. lol. His parents have chosen a strong and meaningful name for their little boy and I couldn’t be happier for them. It’s a bit unreal because I remember Mrs. W. being not-pregnant to remembering her talk about the news of her pregnancy to seeing her tummy expand with the little bundle of joy. Now he’s here and he is very welcome. šŸ™‚ Congratulations J & J! I’ve been mercilessly teased about talking about a certain incident at the hospital involving a certain someone who allegedly bit a nurse. Yes, you read that right. lol. In fairness, it wasn’t intentional because this certain someone *cough* Mrs. W. *cough* was in a bit of pain from being poked and prodded. This incident was hilarious because Mrs. W is a gentle soul and this was definitely out of character. lmao. Alright, enough about biting nurses. She had her 2 moms (mom and mother-in-law) with her as well as her husband during the actual delivery which progressed quickly once she had gotten dilated to about 9cm. Mr. W could not stop grinning and he helped give the baby his first bath. Too cute for words. šŸ™‚ In a random segue, I just found a labor & delivery nurse’s blog! lol. I’m glad to say Mrs. W was a model patient. Minus the alleged biting incident. šŸ˜€
  • M & I finally got to see the triple M threat (mom, daughter, husband have first names beginning with M) on Tuesday. It was a blast because I got to waddle into their simply GORGEOUS new pool. It reminded me of some tropical paradise because his mom put some flowers by the mini-waterfall which empties into the pool. I, of course, grabbed my floatie and did my aqua aerobics. M (his younger sister) made me envious by the carefree ease with which she was diving deep underwater and just enjoying the feel. šŸ™‚ I know, I shouldn’t hate. Don’t get mad, get even. It doesn’t help matters that she’s a damn good cook who whipped up the best pasta sauce I’ve had yet! lol. I’ll learn to swim someday. It’s way different than learning to bike and I’m beginning to think learning to swimming will be really hard because the discomfort level will be initially high.
  • I got dinged from big fish #1. I had known this possibility could happen and despite telling myself that it could happen, I found myself really disappointed. I wondered where I’d “dropped the ball” in this interview. M’s mom said something simple which I’ve heard various permutations of: if it’s meant to be, it will be. Mr. W’s mom who’s a riot also offered some words of advice on handling these rejections which I greatly appreciated. In the somewhat good news, I was told they had forwarded my resume to a different department that they thought could use my skills so I hope something comes out of that, although I’m not holding my breath anymore. I can finally sleep well now that I know my fate. šŸ™‚ It’s back to the drawing board to rework my resume which I got some criticism about during big fish #1 interview.
  • I got to play with S and M (S is a shepherd/lab mix and M is an English bulldog). I got teased about M weighing what I did, but when I divulged what my true weight was, I got some slight disbelief. lol. That’s what biking’ll do to you. I’ve become more muscular than I’ve ever been and although that number sounded a bit high, it’s real. šŸ™‚ Maybe 2 lbs off, but M’s got me on a weight gain routine. I am a sucker for animals because they are as high energy as I am. I thoroughly wish we (the animals & I) could have gone out to play. I usually give S a few runs around the house and she keeps up with me. She’s too cute with her floppy ears and M is all heart & muscle. That was my first close up with a bulldog (not counting the stone dogs that dot the little town I live in) and M was an impressive specimen. Mr. W’s mom’s trying to get us to come down and visit which I just might take her up on!

That’s about it in a nutshell. Have a great weekend!

A night of debauchery

Kidding. šŸ™‚ So, I typically veg out at home on Friday nights with my husband watching TruTV‘s Forensic Files or shows about Prison gangs on National Geographic Channel or the History Channel. You get the drift. So yesterday, a coworker of his invited him to check out his dance band (Seven 7) performing at Foxz Tavern. I haven’t danced in a long while so I jumped at the chance. I went there and I had a blast. Right away, I felt the vibe from the performers and they simply infected me. I went from dancing by my hubby’s side to actually dragging him to the dance floor! He was too cute doing his famous side-to-side booty dance (at least that’s what I think it is). šŸ˜€ The lead man was simply awesome (he’s got that rich R & B voice) and the guitarists got me doing my best air guitar impressions. They do covers and I loved nearly all of their covers save for a cover of Usher’s “Yeah” they did. Some songs do not translate well into covers so I’m sure they are constantly tweaking their play list to suit the audience.

If you didn’t know, I’ve had a post (an oldie but a goodie) way back in 2007 which has the song about the Electric Slide (Electric Boogie) attached. Well, you guessed it, they played that song. It was a pity I didn’t know how to do the electric slide. That has to be a thing all Americans seem to know how to do! Like a rite of passage or something. I am going to learn that slide and bust out my moves whenever I hear the song again. The tavern was laid back and I definitely see myself checking it out on Karaoke nights. I’ll have to have M in tow because I’ve got little alcohol tolerance. Two Miller Lite cans did me in last night although that wasn’t enough to let me sleep in. I hate that about myself. I’ll have to be really tired before I can do the sleeping-till-noon thing. I can fall asleep pretty easily, but M needs to prepare himself to fall asleep. He’s a light sleeper whereas I am a heavy sleeper. I guess it’s only fair that I am accursed to waking up early while he can keep sleeping on. *sigh* It’s all love though. I won’t hate on my man.

The countdown continues for Mrs. J. I hope I get the call when she’s experiencing. Hanging out with J & J is always fun. šŸ™‚ See, Mrs. J has a green thumb and she keeps us stocked with fresh-from-the-garden produce. Just the other day, we came away with a haul of string beans (not from her garden, but her neighbor’s whose garden is even bigger) and some humongous squash that would have cost us $5 at Wally world. She’s grown (and growing) herbs and spices & I’ve also benefited from having those too. I hope to have a garden also when M & I are ready to be homeowners. I’m the unofficial PC consultant even though I mostly stumble on the answers to their questions. Shhhhh. Google and smart searching are my best friends when it comes to PC issues. Well, I’ve got some news browsing to do. Have a great Saturday!

A follow-up

So, we have taken the plunge. We have found a sweet pad (650 sq. ft.) and it’s affordable (despite the LL’s sudden concern about affordability). We (read I) broke the news to LL and he took it well. We gave him the courtesy of a month’s notice although we’re very eager to begin living at this new place. He took it well although he did try to plug the ‘advantages’ of staying As they say, fool me once … lol. I did like living at LL’s though. Initially, rent and utility bills were under $170. Then, we ‘upgraded’ which added $100 in rent. Utility bills increased because we soon started ‘sharing’ items and in particular, our internet bill was another source of silent malcontent. Again, rent at LL’s was dirt cheap although there was another situation that caused us (read me) to feel slightly weird. However, when your utility bills started to equal your rent or get close to it, it bears a second look. That second look is what LL was unwilling, it seemed, to do and rather than turn into a harpie, we go pack our bags and jejely comot for dia. You for see LL last night. Hin con start to dey yarn some kain opaks about smaller bills, kini kan kini kan. Well, good luck to una then. I no wan do again oh. At least if I go dey chop $200 heating or cooling bill, na my own body I wan make the thing heat. Not furniture or dog. Wetin come happen to common sense? Hin use him mouth talk say wen na only him and our resident baba, den use heater to dey save money. Wetin happen wen him get extra persons? Common sense fly for window. Abegi jo! Na bet I get with M say hin no go turn heater on the way hin dey turn am on before. The tap done dry and him eye don open. No be day money dey dry am. I mean, na d same work him and M dey do so I know say na around d same pay den dey carry bring. To top with our rent plus baba rent, hin get pocket change. I no go badmouth him because he do good tin for us. Na me be the first one go tell him straight up say hin do well. But wen we dey almost beg u to help, make heating bill no kill us, u no listen, u dey carry on, dey go say “split between 4 people, it’s not much”… well, e done do. I no say I dey bring money home but the ting wey him no understand be say I dey look at the issue from one person eye. At one point with the drought threat, my baf style don dey reach rob and shine levels oh. lmao. I kid, I kid. Una get my drift sha. My point be say sake for say we for get our apartment tay tay, na one person’s worth of utility bills go dey show for bills because I no dey use things like that. So, for him to dey split everything say me, m, him and baba, e no good for my eye. Anyway, all good and bad things must come to an end. With this post, I bid adieu to the residents of Hotel California. šŸ˜€

A teeny tiny update and I start speaking pidgin English

Okay, some changes have been madeto Google’s Adsense terms and conditions. Nothing that will adversely affect me, but one of the things that stands out is the requirement of all Adsense publishers to have a privacy policy on their sites (I’ve had one already in place) addressing concerns surrounding cookies, web beacons et cetera. Visit JenSense for an in-depth breakdown of all that is needed and the changes. Accordingly, I’ve updated my privacy policy. Also, for a quick rehash of the program policies pertaining to Adsense, visit this Q&A (for the US). In other news, another Daylight time change will happen sometime tomorrow. I will ‘lose’ an hour and by that, I mean if I wake up and it’s 8am in my head, it’s really 9am i.e. time skips forward. Does that make sense? In my mind, I’m losing an hour but they say it’s ‘gaining’ an hour. I guess, it is ‘gaining’ an hour extra of daylight. Correct me now because I suspect I’m wrong. šŸ™‚ I made some chili today again and it was excellente! M came home on his break to get some of that yummy goodness. I don’t fault his decision. I stopped by the L to take care of some business very briefly and I’m contemplating stepping in briefly tonight (i.e. around 10.40pm) to do a simple thing that will save me some work during the week. I hate feeling like I’m slacking off but this is the first weekend in a while I don’t have anything on the weekend. I’ve been catching up on my feeds and ruthlessly deleting those that haven’t updated their blogs in a while. I think I should post more about various things that strike me when I read about that. We’ll see.

As far as savings go, we’re fluid. I’m actively using my ING savings account and please shoot me an email at my (firstnamelastname@yahoo.com) or my contact form if you need a referral to open up your very own savings account. I recommend it highly. It keeps my money safe from where my nimble hands cannot touch it. I get a kickback of $10 if you open up an ING savings account with at least $250 and you get a kickback of $25 for opening the account with that amount of money! It’s a win-win situation, friends. We’re actively resuming our apartment search after an unexpected spike in our heating bill again which does not bode well for the summer. I don’t think our landlord understands our need to keep our bills to the minimum we can get them to. Yes, I understand the need for comfort, but when propped against the fact that (1) you know how to cut costs but seemingly won’t (presumably because you aren’t the only one bearing the brunt of the bills) (2) some odd logic concerning heating cycles and heating furniture 2 days in advance of a ‘mere chance of snow flurries’. Alright, there’s some exaggeration and I love my LL, but our heating bills are just crazy up in Hotel California. This month of February, he told me the house heating bill was $200. Split 4 ways, that’s roughly $100 for M & I on gas heating alone. We haven’t tallied up the utilities. Well, I’m fairly certain we’ll be coughing up over $150 again in utilities which really really is rubbing me the wrong way considering that (I’m going to be a bit bitchy here. I’m hormonal) we are not living in a 1bd/1ba apartment! Folks!!! See me see wahala. Na 1 room we dey live out of sha. Parlour no be anytin to write home about. No be say we get to run the place o. Na soso animal doti dey eff up the place. I dey fear to invite health department because na jail den go carry all of us go. Na so I dey scratch my head so, dey wonder if this place sef worth the kain money we dey spend for here. I tire oh! Make una help me beg M say e no worth am again. At all. Especially as LL con dey bring one kain pikin to come join our craziness. Haba. Our LL sef dey one kain o. Make hin dey wait for summer. He don find mugu wey go dey chop bills abi. You know I’m serious now that I’m breaking out my broken English. In fact, I’m cracking up so much that I think I’m going to start blogging pidgin English about semi-sensitive stuff. lol. Peace and good night!

Foolish banks (Bank of America, I’m looking at you)

I realized I hadn’t kvetched in a while about finances. In this case, it’s going to be a very good kvetch. lol. You probably know that I’m not too fond of Bank of America any more. Yes, they were the first credit card provider that took on this poor needy post-college student, but now, I’m grown but they don’t want to acknowledge it! I think I can feel free to say that my card has a $1,000 limit. I currently owe nothing (zip, zilch, nada) on this account and right now, I’m only keeping the card to make my credit to debt ratio look good for my credit score’s benefit. Which by the way, according to all 3 credit bureaus, is so close to 700 that I can taste it. That’s awesome considering I only had credit starting in late 2006.  The other credit card is on its way to being paid down and I anticipate keeping this other card because they have a way more reasonable APR (13.99%) than Bank of America’s eye-gouging 20.49% for purchases and 23.99% for ATM withdrawals, etc. I’m just glad that I got rid of that debt and can focus on Sun Trust. I plan on closing out the account right before they have a chance to charge me almost $30 for the "privilege" of having an account with them. They can suck lemons. I plan on calling every month till about June to ask for an APR decrease or try to have my account converted (hopefully without a hard credit pull) to a credit card account without the annual fees & hopefully a reduced APR too. However, with the folks I’ve spoken with, I don’t think they’ll bite so the alternative: they’ll lose me as a customer. Just not yet. I’m going to milk this cow till I’m good and ready. Once again, let me see them collect fees on a $0 balance account. LMAO.

[in heavy drawl]Anyways,[end of heavy drawl], I’m doing fine. I just saw a brief glimpse of my sister and her husband (dang, we’re both off the market now) and she looked simply put, beautiful. I’m itching to get my hands on some video of the event. I’ll put up bite-sized chunks up on my gallery (password-protected, obviously). Life is good at Hotel California (inside joke) and I’ll tell the joke. In short, we (all the residents of the house we live in) got T-shirts that read "Hotel California" from one of the residents (JH) and that’s what we’re calling the place we live in: Hotel California. Where the thermostat goes straight up to 72 degrees Fahrenheit at the whisper of lows of 62F in Winter. Jeez. lol. Don’t get me started on this heat rant again. Our utility bills went up quite appreciably for January and I can tell you that that was not appreciated by yours truly. PC came over and kept trying to explain the reason for the jump and while there was one particular reason for it to go up (a leaky faucet that dripped hot water), I truly think it was the fact that I eased off on my fanatical monitoring of the thermostat. Well, that’s over. I gave PC the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn’t abuse it i.e. switching it to higher temperatures unnecessarily, but I can honestly say that there were several occasions that that heater did not need to be going on!! I mean, I just have to vent here because I can’t express myself to him without feeling like I’ll be construed as "ungrateful". Again, it’s going back to the whole mentality of knowing that he’s got tenants who will bear the major brunt of the utility bills and thus, feeling free to go crazy with the thermostat. Don’t tell me: it’s his house, yes and we can put up or shut up. Well, as it is, we’re in a symbiotic relationship and he needs us just as he needs him. We have a common ground even though I make Hotel California sound like a war zone. It’s actually nice and definitely keeping our living bills still below $450 monthly (I can’t say that for the summer though. It was awful). So, I’m not in too much of a hurry especially as the "deals" we’re seeing for housing aren’t that great i.e. ~ $455 just for rent and water excluding utilities. Right now, we pay for water and trash and they probably amount to ~ $60 so it’s a relatively small price to pay versus the ~ $100 utility bills we may be receiving in an apartment complex (that’s without cable). It shan’t be for long though and I’ll leave it at that. šŸ™‚

I’m currently embarking on an "experiment" that’s leaving me a little bit more tired than I’m used to being. So, I’ll monitor the situation and then, make a decision to take it or leave it. Dad/Mom, don’t freak. I promise it’s nothing crazy. lol.

Finally, I need to put M on blast. lol. What did he do? Where do I start? šŸ˜€ Okay, I got a coupon book from a lab mate who was gracious enough to spare from her excess. It has great deals like buy one/get one free (BOGOF) from places we eat at (I believe I’ve mentioned this book before). Well, M decided to go eat at Subway (bearing in mind I’m not too big on the whole subs idea especially Subway’s subs). I went along because he’d been dropping mad hints that he wanted to scratch his sub itch. So, we broke out the coupon booklet and behold, we had a coupon for a BOGOF on 6-inch subs. Well, I decided to substitute my free sub for a salad which cost a dollar more. Then, suddenly and inexplicably, M asked me if I wanted a drink. lol. You have to be with us to understand why this was so earth-shattering. We never get drinks at fast food restaurants because we’ve both concurred (a long time ago) that those deals were rip-offs. Now, in his defense, he had just done an intense workout and I was even extra-tired too and we were both acting loopy. So, he got 1 sub, 2 small drinks and a salad that was essentially $1. The bill totaled to approximately $8.50. I literally did a double-take as did M. You guessed it, the two drinks were $2.60 and the sub was nearly $4!! That was what threw me for a loop. I didn’t know subs had gotten so damned expensive which is a testament to the truth behind my assertion that I really don’t do sub shops. šŸ™‚ Anyhow, lesson learned: avoid getting drinks when getting meals. The main redeeming aspects of our trip to Subway were the awesome salad, the free refills which I took liberal advantage of (I made M get his refill too) and the pleasure of knowing that M was going to be hungry again due to the malnourished looking sub he got (I love you Matt!!).lol. I was right. Just kidding. I wasn’t being a downer, I promise. I took it like a champ and we had fun. Now that I’ve put him on blast, I know I’ve jinxed myself and will slip up on something. šŸ™‚ *crosses fingers and toes*

And that’ll do it for now. Peace!

Omg… Victoria Secret leaves me speechless.

I just got done watching a couple of clips of the Victoria Secret Fashion Show on CBS. All I can say is: they all had legs for days!!! šŸ™‚ There are times I wish I was as tall. lol. Phew. If they can elicit this kind of reaction from me, I wonder what a male thinks. šŸ™‚ I guess I didn’t go to either department’s christmas party. My dune buggy came to get me. lol. That’s what M has resorted to calling me after I’ve ‘stolen’ all his other names. I’ll start calling him ‘dune buggy’ to get him to stop calling me ‘dune buggy’. lol. I don’t actually mind any of his names for me. He’s sweet like that.