Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things I Like

Paul Michael Murphy of Murphblog made a list of things he likes and has encouraged other bloggers to do so. Tracy, Anita, MG Higgins, and more have followed in this internet sensation. So, I will too. And you should too! Come on, everyone's doing it!

I'll start by saying of course God, family, friends are first in my heart, but here are some every day things that this girl likes (and is thankful for).

1. Snuggling

2. Fountain Coca Cola

3. Being close to the stage at a concert

4. Chocolate Cake from Red Lobster or Portillo's

5. Facebook

6. The Soup on E! (Joel McHale is hilarious.)

7. Arched eyebrows

8. My iPod

9. Sunny 74 degree days

10. My bed

11. Laughing

12. Buddy the Elf

13. Puppies (especially mine)

14. Super Target

15. Hoop earrings

16. Red lipstick (only on special occasions or my kids faces would always be covered in red)

17. Singing and/or listening to rock n' roll music (especially MCR, Crue, Foo, A7X, Killers, Papa Roach, Buckcherry and more)

18. Top three rockstars: Nikki Sixx, Dave Grohl, Gerard Way

19. Chinese food specifically egg rolls and Hong Kong Chicken

20. Finishing a poem or a manuscript

21. Loving a book so much I can't put it down

22. Photographs

23. Creme brulee with fresh berries around it

24. Comedies (tv shows and movies)

25. Top Three Actors: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Matthew McConaughey

26. The smell of burning leaves

27. The smell of my kids hair when it's just washed

28. Ketchup (we go through a huge jug a month)

29. Chocolate milk

30. Sarcasm (that's not hurtful)

31. Did I mention concerts?

32. Wii (especially Wii Fit and Rock Band)

33. Commenting and comments on blogs ;)

34. 35. I also like music videos and.... I like to move it, move it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Moon on Monday

Oh, yes, I did. I saw New Moon this weekend. Did you hear that it broke the record for biggest opening day? So like so many of the female persuasion, Friday night was girl's night out to the movie theater. We arrived almost an hour early to make sure we got a seat. I purchased my ticket earlier in the week through Fandango.com. My dinner that night was buttered popcorn and these tasty treats.

I have never gone to a movie on opening weekend before. Even though the screaming teenage girls were loud, I had fun observing which parts they liked and which parts they thought were cheesy. I was surprised that Jacob received more hoots and hollers when he first appeared on the screen than Edward (though he got plenty of catcalls). The biggest burst of cheers and screams came when Jacob took off his shirt to mop up the blood on Bella's forehead (if you saw it, I know you remember that seen!). There were a few parts that many girls burst out laughing (one being of a scene where Bella and Edward run through a meadow). It was a cheesy scene, so I laughed at the scene and at the laughter too. The book of course was better, but the movie entertained me. It was good, not great, but I enjoyed my night at the movies.

What amazed and surprised me most about New Moon was the number of people I knew that saw it on opening weekend. Like I said, I rarely go to the movie theater, let alone on opening weekend. On Facebook, there were so many posts of friends going to see New Moon. I went to a family birthday party and many of the ladies just went to the movie or were planning on going the next day. Amazing! We enjoyed hashing over the scenes and of course stating whether we were Team Edward or Team Jacob. (I'm Team Jacob) Are you a sucker for Edward or do you howl for Jacob (I stole that cheesy line from an article by the way)?

Also, did anyone else notice that the movie was released during the week of the new moon of this month???? Eclipse is my favorite book of the series, so I will certainly be in the theater watching that movie next summer!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Blogger/New Prize/New Tune!

I want to welcome a new blogger to the wonderful world of blogging! My best friend, Becky who you may have read about in my road trip posts, started a blog! She is writing a novel about a dog rescued from a puppy mill, and she also writes for a local newspaper. Her blog is Truths and Tails, please stop by and welcome her to the blog community! She's candid, she's funny, and she's a best friend of creatures big and small (and don't even try getting any dirt about me from her ;).

I also want to thank Donna at Word Wrangler for having a free verse poetry contest. I'm more of a rhymer, but her contest forced me to do something different...and I won! Thank you, Donna, for the Nikki Grimes poetry book as my prize!

Also, congratulations to Debra Shubert of Write on Target for snagging an agent! Read about how perseverance, her blog and twitter helped make this happen for her! It's a fun, inspirational story!!

Today's tune for Tuesday is just a tune that I've been singing along to lately. I'm more of a rocker, but sometimes a pop song makes me dance and sing, too! The video is Lady Gaga's song, "Paparazzi" from her debut album The Fame. (I should've been Lady Gaga for Halloween, what a great costume that would have been!!) If you are a True Blood viewer, notice that Eric the vampire (Alexander Skarsgard) is in this video (and in the picture above).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dare 2 Dream

Last Thursday my sister and I attended the Dare 2 Dream benefit concert to hear some great music and to support pediatric blood cancer research. When I was a teacher, one of the students (who was also the daughter of a bus driver) at our school died of leukemia. It was absolutely heartbreaking. Cancer is such a difficult illness in the first place, but when it affects a child it is all the more tragic. We were happy to be part of this event and support the children in need. Of course I'm happy to listen to live music, so to listen to it and support a great cause is twice as nice!
I took the train to Chicago to meet my sister Denise, and we walked in to the House of Blues in time to hear the second musical act, The Lovehammers. Does anyone remember the NBC show, Rockstar: INXS where the members of INXS tried to find a new lead singer? I loved that show, and the runner up was the singer, Marty Casey, from the Lovehammers, a Chicago area band. Marty Casey also attended the University of Illinois a few years behind me! I had always wanted to see the Lovehammers, so I was excited to finally hear them live. They were great!
Next was Gavin Rossdale - lead singer of 90's band Bush, husband of Gwen Stefani, and now solo artist. Last year I bought several songs from his latest solo album, Wanderlust. His song, "Love Remains the Same" was a featured Tune for Tuesday also last year. This was my first time seeing him live, and I love his music even more now! A 6'1", very lean and muscular Gavin played several songs from his Bush career like "Machinehead," "Glycerine," and "Come Down." He also played favorites of mine from his solo album and sang a cover of Stevie Nick's "Landslide," another one of my favorite songs. Here is the actual set list. (Thanks to Tony for the pics, I had to check my camera at the concert!)

This man can rock it out and make the ladies swoon. During the rock songs, he jumped up and down and headbanged so much I thought he was going to bump his head on the microphone stand! During the slower songs, he'd hold onto a (very lucky) front row gal's hand and look into her eyes and sing the song to them! He did this with many of the ladies in the front row, and they were smiling ear to ear. (And I tell you next Gavin Rossdale concert I go to, I am getting my buttinsky in that front row!!) My sis and I were pretty darn close to the stage, but I'm getting to the venue earlier next time to secure a front row spot! That man is one swoon worthy rockstar!


My sister and I had a fun girly night out. The benefit ended at 9:30 (this old lady wishes all concerts ended this early!), so we went out for a martini (chocolate martini for me) afterwards. And I learned a have a very low tolerance for hard liquor. One martini got me loopy I tell you!

Here's Gavin singing Bush song, "Glycerine" at Dare 2 Dream! (sigh!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This is Happiness

Today's Tune for Tuesday is by Gavin Rossdale -lead singer of 90's rock band Bush, current solo artist, and husband of Gwen Stefani. Gavin will also be on the TV show Criminal Minds on CBS Wednesday. My sister and I went to his concert last week (review in a few), and it was awesome! He is an amazing frontman (and a cutie to boot)!
Here are a few other contests to check out!

Wow! Women on Writing is holding their fall 2009 Flash Fiction contest. Deadline is November 30! (My entry is titled Temptation and is a little saucy!)

Word Wrangler Donna at is having a free prose poetry contest. You can win a Nikki Grimes poetry book! This contest ends today!

Sherrie has even more contests listed on this blog post!

And for Star Wars geeks like me, Hasbro is having a contest for the best diorama using Star Wars figurines. (I wish I had time to enter this one...)

A big thank you to author Rena Jones! She sent me a beautiful Yellowstone book and a yummy candy bar for winning her photo caption contest!

Here's a bonus Gavin video with Gavin actually in it, too. He has his shirt off in it. (I seriously yelled "Take your shirt off!" at the concert. I'm not proud of myself. My sister told me to yell it louder, which made me laugh because at the Motley Crue concert we attended together, she was disgusted with Tommy Lee and his pleas for girls to lift up their shirts!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Road Trip Day 5 - Our Old Stomping Grounds

Becky and I continued our road trip up Illinois on to Champaign, Illinois. Not only did Becky and I grow up in the same neighborhood, but we attended the same grade school, high school, and even college - the University of Illinois (see picture of us our first semester of college). We decided to be roommates in the dorms our freshman year. Everyone said that it would be the end of our friendship, we'd get on each other's nerves. But we were friends already for so long and had only one true fight (over a boy) that we knew we could live with one another in harmony. And we did, our friendship grew, and we only had one fight (over a beer) in the two years we lived together.

Here's a pic of us below in front of Snyder Hall, the dorm we lived in (Room 306). We lived in that small room and made many friendships (and plenty of shenanigans - some I'd be happy to tell you, some I may keep to myself!) in those halls. Half of our floor was for girls and half the floor was for guys separated by a locked door. One funny fact about Room 306 is that when we connected our TV, we'd only get two channels: CBS and Mtv (maybe another reason I love music). All we had to do was fill out a maintenance report and probably have it fixed. Did we? No, for some odd (lazy) reason, we didn't for TWO years! Our daily routine was pretty much this: go to classes, come home and take a nap, watch the video countdown on Mtv, go to dinner in the cafeteria, study (yes, we really did study and got good grades!) and at about 11pm go out! Yes, go out at 11pm. We didn't go out every night, but I'd say 4-5 nights a week, we'd be social! This was our freshman year schedule. Our sophomore year we both joined sororities and the Human Development and Family Studies Club, so we had added meetings and events as well. Word on the street is that Snyder Hall is now considered the "Clean Teen" dorm: no drinking, no smoking, no opposite sex sleepovers. What is funny about that is that is probably what the rules were when we went there, but no one really enforced them (or maybe our floor was really sneaky...I remember a time where some guys smuggled in a Party Ball full of beer).

Becky and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring our old campus together. It was a beautiful fall day, and we walked on "the quad" where many buildings where we attended classes were (see the Illini Union in the background where we occasionally went bowling!). The students looked young and scholarly, many were texting and walking. I wished I'd have brought a backpack to pretend I was going to class. If we'd had more time, I may have even sat in on one in the auditorium!


We then headed towards where our favorite bars/hangouts were in town. Here's us in front of Kam's, the bar we frequented the most. We were all set to go in and have a Coke and "take a lap" there, but it was closed. Back in college, we'd take a lap and see who was there and if anyone there was cute! Anyone else remember the terms scam and mash? (To scam was to flirt, mash was make out. There was plenty of both going on at Kam's back in the day.) A few of our favorite restaurants and bars were gone, but we ate lunch at a pub that was there way back when. We also had to stop and buy Illini wear for ourselves and our kids! (Becky and I even bought the same tshirt.)
After our trip down Green Street and memory lane, we headed north home. We still had plenty to talk about (now mostly reminiscing and laughing about crazy college days) on the three hours left in our road trip. I feel so fortunate to have a lifelong friend that I can take off with like that and also fortunate to come home to be smothered in kisses from my family.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Road Trip Day 1-4!

As many of you know, last week I took a road trip with my best friend, Becky. Becky, our other best friend Mary (who now lives in Spain), and I grew up in the same neighborhood. We flew to Fort Myers, Florida on Sunday night. I was a little nervous being away from my kids for so long (I cried when they left!), but I knew that a getaway would be good for a mom of three who rarely gets a day away, let alone five!

The plane ride started out as silly as expected. Becky and I were talking in our seats, and I was holding my Us Weekly magazine against my face as we spoke. Later Becky says, "Kelly, you have blue stripes on your face!" (see picture) We giggled and giggled. (Sorry to the man next to us, we probably laughed and talked most of the trip) Then the beverage guy comes along and I drink my water in about one gulp. A few minutes later, he asks if I want more (Why, yes I do!) Becky asks if she could have some more Coke. (Why, yes she can.) I tell Becky that I brought some Reese's peanut butter cups for us in my purse. I hand her stuff in my purse as I dig through it for chocolate! Then her filled to the brim cup full of Coke decides to slide down the tray and all over my lap! So my pants are soaked. What do we do? We laugh. Then laugh some more. What else can you do?

That night we ate a nice dinner out and slept at her parents' house. The next morning we took a walk with her dad and his dog to coffee where many neighbors congregate with their dogs. We had chocolate milk (we don't drink coffee). We walked about three miles (me in sandals) then her parents drove us to beautiful Captiva Island. We ate lunch and layed next to the pool overlooking the ocean. It was heavenly. I was so relaxed. I haven't layed by a pool minus kids in over ten years! We had a delicious dinner and hit the sack since our three day trek in the car home would start the next morning.


Next day we got up and started our 1400+ mile trek home. Has anyone else driven in northern Florida? I have never seen so many billboards for strip clubs in my life! Yikes! During the long ride we also had my iPod going and talked, talked, and talked some more. Becky and I also were excited to see cotton fields for the first time. We made it to Macon, Georgia, ate at a Mexican restaurant, checked Facebook, and went to bed.

On Wednesday we drove to Atlanta, Georgia. What a clean, picturesque city! Becky and I also noted that people were extra friendly in the south. We stopped at World of Coca Cola. Becky and I are both fans of Coke, so we knew we'd get a kick out of it. We saw lots of Coke memoribilia, saw a few short films and a 4D show. The best part was going to the Tasting Room. There were over 60 Coca Cola products from all over the world in fountain stations. We tasted Inca Cola from Peru, raspberry tea from Spain, my favorite Barq's Red Cream Soda, and more. It was fun walking around sipping different drinks. Most were good, some were not! I also bought a red Coca Cola tshirt made from recyclable bottles!
Here's the Coca Cola polar bear with us. I thought he was a statue because he didn't move for the first couple, but when I approached him, he reached to grab me and I screamed!!


After Atlanta, we drove until 8pm until we reached Mount Vernon, Illinois. We ate in a sports bar in the hotel, and I seriously went to sleep right when my head hit the pillow. It was a long day (and yes, we were still talking incessantly the whole way!). More tomorrow...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This is Halloween.

My family loves Halloween. We enjoyed trick or treating yesterday in the neighborhood. It was a colder Halloween than years past, so halfway through I left the kids with the grandmas and ran and got the car. The houses in our neighborhood are far apart, so it was worth it! My ten year old son wanted to trick or treat alone with his fifth grade friend, but I'm not ready for that yet. They sometimes walked a few steps ahead of us, but I really don't think they minded sticking with us after all. His friend also spilled the beans that my son has his first girlfriend. As if Halloween isn't frightening enough!

So what did the Polark family dress up as? My oldest son J-Man went as some scary pumpkin face guy, my drama queen daughter went as a movie star, and my youngest son went as Star Wars clone trooper, Commander Fox. I was a punk rocker complete with lip curl and tattoos. My husband was a convict in an orange jumpsuit.
As I was putting the children to bed Friday night, the door bell rang, hubby went to answer it, made some screams and yelled "Escaped Convict!". My daughter jumped out of bed to see (she's the brave one - or she doesn't know what a convict is). Hubby then ran upstairs in his orange Department of Corrections jumpsuit. I was more annoyed than scared as he riled up the kids, but the last two nights I've had escaped convict nightmares. Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

Last night we had our usual family Halloween bash. Fun costumes and lots and lots of good eats (and great leftovers for lunch today, my husband couldn't stand it and ate some for breakfast already). I had Whoppers and Halloween cookies for breakfast. The huge basket of leftover candy keeps taunting me. I think I'm going to keep myself busy by putting the Halloween decorations away in the huge three tubs for storage. I love Halloween, but holy crow, Thanksgiving will be here before I know it!
Hope you had a fun Halloween weekend too!
Here's a few fun pics:
My kids plus a friend trick or treating.

Our front porch (I missed out on pumpkin carving this year...but they sure turned out cute!)