Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Super Bowl MADNESS!!!

Living in Central Florida, you can imagine that the Super Bowl is all anyone talks about, right now, lol. I'm watching the news, as I type, and pretty much the past 17 minutes have been all about the big game.

Seriously... there was one story about the Caylee Anthony doll that isn't going on the shelves (thank GOODNESS... that's such an awful idea) and about her grandfather that tried to commit suicide (so sad). Then, there was another story about a guy who defrauded a bunch of people. Other than that... all Super Bowl.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Super Bowl. I like the parties, the food, and the commercials. Sometimes, I like the halftime show.... my all-time favorite was the last time it was in Tampa. But, I'm on SB-OVERLOAD!!!!

Craziest thing I've ever heard?..... $1600 for ONE nose-bleed seat! If you want a good seat, it'll cost you a mere $4000, per ticket. No thank you!

The newscaster just said the absolute truth... "The game itself is almost an afterthought. It's all the craziness leading up to the event that everyone lives for."

So true.

I'm actually going to be participating in an event, myself. The Legends for Charity event, which benefits St Jude, is Thursday evening. I looked online to see who was scheduled to be there.... the only name I recognized was John Madden, lol. Well, at least I won't be starstruck, lol.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

St Jude Seminar Day Three (Sat 1/17)

Day Three of the seminar was mainly seminars. We had programming panels, where we got plenty of tips and ideas for our Radiothons.

Then, another yummy lunch buffet followed by a session.... "Meet the Patients - Then and Now."

There were six patients. Three sets of patients, each with the same type of cancer. One of them was from 20-30 years ago and one a current patient. It was fascinating to hear the differences in protocols and treatment, from then to now. Like, they used to not have anti-nausea medicine... "We got sick and we liked it."

Also, ports and lines weren't invented. They would get stuck 5 or 6 times a day.... "We got stuck and we liked it."

They talked about the facilities, too. How much progress has been made.

The coolest thing about those panels? The moderator and three "then" patients are all employed by St Jude or ALSAC, now. They all work to help the cause!

After a short break, we moved to another concert hall. There, the 17th patient at St. Jude shared the story of his life. Dwight Tosh entered treatment at St Jude the year it opened, in 1962. He was 13 years old. His story was absolutely amazing!! Today, he's the only double-digit still alive. See, the patient numbers are given out in numerical order. He's patient number 17. A child that comes to St. Jude today would be somewhere in the 28,ooo's.

We were treated to light refreshments.... trust me, after such an emotional journey, I was ready for the chocolate, lol! Then, our last "Meet the Patients" sesson. There, we met patients from 20, 15, 10, and 5 years ago, plus one from today. The two adults on the panel are ALSAC employees, today. Lindsay was featured on 'Jon and Kate Plus 8.' Once again, it was so inspiring to hear their stories!!

Then, there was a special recognition for the 25 stations that have been participating in Country Cares all 20 years! After that, we disbursed to get dressed up for the Songwriter's Dinner!

D, Toni, M, and I at the Songwriter's Dinner

The Songwriter's Dinner is the big send-off of the weekend. It's a seated, 3-course dinner. It's so much fun!

M and I
Toni and I

Killer Beaz  and Kelly. They're members of our uber-great region... Region 16!

M, Kelly, and I
Danielle and I

Trumaine and I.... LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this guy!

After dinner, there was a special presentation. First, one of the speakers wanted to drive home the point... we ARE winning the battle. In a room of about 1000 people, he asked two tables to stand up. In 1962, when St Jude opened, those two tables would be the ones to survive, if the whole room was diagnosed with Pediatric Cancer. Everyone else in the room would be dead. Then, he asked two more tables to stand up. Today, if the whole room was filled with children diagnosed with cancer, those standing would die... everyone else would survive. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!! We are winning, even though the battle isn't over, yet! I still get chills, just thinking about it.

Then, they presented Randy Owen with this special plaque that will hang in the hospital. Randy started Country Cares for St. Jude Kids 20 years ago. Since then, country music has raised $345 million for St. Jude!

Randy then took the floor. In the past, the Songwriter's Dinner was just that... for songwriters. About 6 or 7 would get up on stage and sing the songs that made it big in country music. This year, he said, we were starting something different! He wanted to bring on ARTISTS who also write their own songs. He said he had two bonafide stars to perform for us.

The first was Ritchie McDonald... lead singer of Lonestar.

Then, came the moment where I turned from a calm, cool, respectable young woman into a screaming, shaking, giggly schoolgirl, lol.

Yes, I... Jessica.... got to listen to a private, acoustic performance from my favorite, Keith! I was in heaven, lol. If I squinted so that I couldn't see the rest of the room, I could pretend it was just for me, lol.

*sigh* I just love this man.
Keith, Ritchie, and Randy sang some of their hits that they've written.... Mountain Music, Tennessee River, Angels Amony Us, Let Them Be Little, Already There, Front Porch Looking In, Better Life, Sweet Thing, But For the Grace of God, Somebody Like You... plus, a couple of others.

Funniest moment?.... Ritchie was just starting "Already There" when the fire alarm went off! Only, it was this annoying tone, not a normal alarm sound. About one verse in, he goes, "Is that a flute or the fire alarm? Do we need to evacuate?"

Everything was fine... false alarm. What was really funny was that no one made a move to leave their seats, lol. Not exactly great practice, but I wasn't about to leave a room with Keith Urban in it, until I *knew* I had to!

Second best moment... Keith started singing his latest hit, "Sweet Thing." One verse in, he burst out laughing and says (in his great Australian accent), "I'm singing in the wrong key! I thought these notes were a little high!... Forgive me, this is only the second time I've sang this live!"

Sadly, the evening had to end. We blissfully returned to our hotel to pack and dream sweet dreams of being serenaded by one brilliant Aussie!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

St. Jude Seminar Day Two (Fri 1/16)

Day Two of the seminar started with a breakfast buffet at the convention center. Then, everyone else went off to tour the hospital. Those of us that went the day before stayed at the convention center for a special meeting.

During "Meet the Team" we listened to a Doctor, Nurse, and Patient Family. We learned about all aspects of his care and treatment. Little Ethan was shy, with a really sweet smile. He didn't want to talk much, but he is now a healthy 8 year old, in remission! He told us that he was sad when his treatment was over because he would miss his friends and his "home" at St. Jude.

His mom wanted to make it clear that they thanked God everyday for a place like St. Jude. They were allowed to focus COMPLETELY on Ethan. They didn't have to worry about food, housing, or anything.

After that, we went to a DELICIOUS lunch buffet. I can still taste the vegetable lasagna and cannoli!! While we were finishing up, Ellen and her father spoke. Ellen's father is the epitome of a Southern man and spoke very emotionally about his experience with St. Jude.

Then, he said that Ellen had something she wanted to share with us. Ellen, with her beautiful bald head and pretty pink dress, marched up to the stage, grabbed the microphone, and said, "Hello! My name is Ellen. I'm 4 years old and I really hope you enjoy my song." She sang 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' It was the most beautiful version I've ever heard!!! The entire room was bawling.

*Ellen actually was featured on the St. Jude episode of 'Jon and Kate Plus 8' on TLC. The episode is titled "Giving Back."

At that point, the Veterns' group left to go to the hospital. The Early Birds' had a special activity in another room. We made Tray Liners for the children that would be in the hospital for Valentine's Day.
M was extremely artistic. She drew this cute little bear, holding balloons...

M and I then went to the Artist Taping. About 20 artists were there, so we could get liners from them to air on our stations for our radiothons. While we met several celebrities, cameras weren't allowed for us to prove it, lol.

Then, we had a break. We headed back to the hotel room, where I took pictures of the view of Downtown Memphis, from my room.

The Main Street Trolley stopped right outside our hotel room, so D and I decided to take a ride.....

This thing was SO cool. Very old and authentic......
Every Friday night at the Seminar, they have Lucky Duck Casino Night. There's a huge buffet. The rest of the room is set up as this great casino. You can win money to buy autographed items to auction off, during your radiothon. There are also bigger ticket items that they raffle off. We didn't win anything, but we had a lot of fun!!!!

D, M, and I at Casino Night....

Jason Michael Carroll and I at Casino Night....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

St. Jude Seminar Day One (Thurs 1/15)

After MUCH anticipation, it was finally time for the St. Jude Radio Training Seminar.

D, M, and I all headed to Tampa, to catch a plane to Memphis. It was an uneventful flight.... as soon as we stepped off the plane, we felt a major chill, lol. We were immediately met by some ALSAC representatives who told us a warm bus was waiting for us, as soon as we got our luggage.

The blessed thing was when our luggage was all there on the belt, waiting in a line for us, lol. It was such a great thing that I had to take a picture.....

After we registered at the convention site, we headed over to our hotel to check in and get settled. We were scheduled for the Early Bird Tour, so we headed back to the convention site to board a bus to the hospital.

I wish I could convey how amazing St. Jude is. EVERY detail has been thought of.....

  • Translation Phones - they have phones with two headsets. The doctor picks up one, the parent picks up the other. They press a button and within minutes, a translator is on the phone. That way the two can communicate face-to-face. Our tourguide said that there is a patient from a small country in Africa and they were able to communicate with the parents through the phone.

  • Patient Rooms - most of their patients are out-patient. However, when a patient needs hospital care, they obviously have the beds for it. Each room is a suite with a parent room and a child's room. Every child has a Wii. The parents have internet and a bed. The new Chili's Care Center has trash shoots, so that the trash can be picked up in the hall and the child isn't disturbed. These are just a few examples.

  • School - they have tutors on-site. The teachers get the work from the child's home school, so that they stay on-track. They have a Kindergarten graduation and a Senior Prom.

  • Child-Life Specialists - these great people make sure that the children understand what is happening to them. They also work with the siblings of the patients.

  • Kay Kafe - this BEAUTIFUL cafeteria has multiple areas. The children are often picky as they are going through Chemo. All the options allow them to hopefully find something they can stomach... make your own pizzas, ice creams, International foods, salads, soups, and sandwiches. Doctors, nurses, ALSAC, researchers, patients... everyone eats in there.

  • EVERYTHING is paid for.... housing, transportation, meals/groceries, treatment.
I could go on and on. We weren't allowed to take pictures when any patients were around, but I was able to get a few shots.....

Bust of Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital

When Danny Thomas died, editorial cartoonists from around the world honored him. Today, there's a wall dedicated to those drawings.....

The 'ABC's of Cancer' Wall.....

A Partner-In-Hope is someone who donates at least $20 a month to St. Jude... please consider becoming a PIH!!

The only thing I wasn't pleased with.... we didn't get enough time in the gift shop!!! I was able to get a few things, but I didn't spend nearly what I had alloted, lol!

After the tour, it was time for the Welcome Reception. Then, we were off to dinner at Rum Boogie. Each region goes to a different place on Beale Street. Talk about yummy food (and, the Hurricane wasn't so bad, either)!!

We had a great time hanging with other stations, but we were grandmas and called it a early night! We'd been going since before the crack of dawn, so it was time to hit the hay and get ready for Day Two!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Breaking News!!!!..... Yay SPENCER!!!! Watch him on Survivor!

I'm so excited to announce that one of the former interns at the station will be on the upcoming season of Survivor!

Spencer was one of our Promotions Interns this past summer. He spent the whole summer updating us on his progress with his application for the show. A couple people at the station were listed as references. When he went back to school, he would let us know how he was doing and then he disappeared for a while. Now, we know why, lol.
Spencer is one of the smartest, quickest, funniest 19 year olds I've ever met! If he's anything on the show, like he was with us, he should be the best entertainment.

Watch him!!! He's the youngest contestant ever on the show and I can't wait to see how he does! You can go to CBS.com to read his bio and vote for his video!!

Go Spencer!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Getting Ready For St. Jude... The ABCs of Cancer

This week, I get the extreme privilege of going up to Memphis for the St. Jude Radio Training Seminar. Every year, our station has a Radiothon to raise money for the hospital. Before that, they hold a huge convention for the stations participating.

Among the seminars, roundtables, dinners, etc, we get to meet patients and actually tour the hospital. I went two years ago and it literally changed my life. It's the most amazing facility.

For more information, you can visit their website.

Obviously, I'll be posting about the trip later on. We leave on Thursday!

One of the most touching and just plain real parts of the hospital is a display that they have outside of the cafeteria. It's called "The ABCs of Cancer." Every letter is represented by some sort of artwork that a patient created. It's also work in progress.... they update the letters, so that the children have a chance to have their voiced be heard.

You can view it, right here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Not Me Monday!!!

So, I first learned of 'Not Me Monday' from Emily at Living Our Own Fairytale. I have so much fun reading what she does not do every Monday! I finally got over to MckMama's blog... she's the one who hosts 'Not Me Monday.' So, thanks to both Emily and MckMama!!!

Here goes my first "Not Me!" post........

  • I did not spend last night catching up on my blog and reading other blogs, while I was working. Nope, not me!
  • I did not eat a muffin once I got off work at 5am, right before going to bed this morning.
  • I did not oversleep because I use my phone as an alarm clock and the battery went dead!
  • I most certainly did not spend the rest of the day in my pajamas! That would be lazy of me on my "day off."
  • I also did not spend the day on the couch catching up on the TV that I missed in December. 3 episodes of 'Desperate Housewives', 3 of 'Brothers and Sisters', and 2 of 'Cold Case' were not my agenda for the day. That would be just plain ludicrous!
  • I did not call the station Hotline and talk to J about 'Brothers and Sisters' and other station gossip for 30 minutes, while she was on the air!
  • I did not cross my fingers that my walking buddies would not want to walk tonight because then I would have had to get dressed. Nope.... not me, because I haven't spent the last two holiday weeks eating way too much and I didn't need the exercise!
  • I haven't waited with baited breath all day for the premiere of 'The Bachelor.' I did not completely fall for Jason last season and hope that he'd be the new Bachelor when DeAnna broke his heart.

It has been a busy day of NOT doing things!!

Christmas at Disney - Magic Kingdom (Dec 30th)

Once again, I got a day off and decided to head over to Disney. My 8 year old cousin, Haigen, was going out of his mind with boredom, so the two of us went on a "date" to the Happiest Place On Earth.

We got there about 3pm and stayed until about 11pm. It was CROWDED. Here's a little secret.... Native Floridians aren't used to waiting in lines at Disney. Those of us with passes go when no one else is there, so we can ride Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Rockin' Rollercoaster, etc in like 30 minutes. Yeah, well not this day, lol. It was TWO HOUR waits for the big rides. Rides that usually have like a 5-10 minute wait time were an hour long. Plus, just walking was like swimming through a sea of people... it was INSANE. Again... not used to it.

Haigen's absolute favorite ride is Splash Mountain. When we first arrived, the Holiday Parade was just starting. Once that was over, we went to Splash Mountain. However, once we saw the wait, we decided to get FastPasses. Keep in mind, it was like 4pm and the FP was for 8:30-9:30!!!!Poor Haigen was like, "Why do we have to wait so long?"

Despite the crowds, we did manage to have fun. We rode The Haunted Mansion, the Riverboat (something we never do, but there was no wait, so it seemed like a good idea, lol), Mickey's PhilharMagic 3D show, Cinderella's Carousal, Mad Hatter Tea Cups, and the RaceTrack. We ate dinner right before the fireworks. I think I was more excited about the fireworks than Haigen, because they were the special Holiday Fireworks, lol.

Then, it was time for us to ride Splash Mountain. Only, at this point, it was FREEZING. The regular wait was down to 20 minutes, while Thunder Mountain next door was still at 100, lol. That's how cold it was, lol. We went on it, still, because the poor kid had been waiting 5 hours, lol.

He tried to convince me to go a second time since the line was so short, but I put my foot down. I was shivering, at that point, lol. Instead, we headed over to Adventureland and rode Pirates of the Carribean. FUN ride, with little appearances by Captain Jack Sparrow. The flying carpets had a 5 minute wait, so we rode that twice. By that point, even Haigen was getting cold, so we decided to pack it up. We went to get a treat from the bakery... watched the Light Parade from the window and then headed home!

We'd wanted to go look at all the decorations the night we went to Hollywood Studios and The Grand Floridian, but there just wasn't enough time, so I was really glad to get to see everything.

(I forgot my camera, so I borrowed these pics from my friend Ellen. Thanks, Ellen!)

The view on Main Street.... so pretty. You can't quite see it, but the tree at the end of the street is HUGE.

The insane crowds were worth seeing Cinderella's Castle like this... all glittering and dripping with lights. It was so gorgeous.

Christmas through New Year

(Warning.... this is long...... more for my own recollection than anything, lol)

The week of Christmas was a work week, filling in for the overnights, so it was busy to say the least! I was so proud of myself, because I got all my last-minute shopping finished Monday (the 22nd) and wrapped EVERYTHING on Tuesday (the 23rd), while watching Christmas movies.

Since I was working overnights, I decided that I would fill my evenings/mornings with Christmas movies. Not exactly the most professional thing to do, since I was working, lol, but I did it anyway. I LOVE Christmas movies and try to get my fill of them. And, it doesn't matter what kind.... the Classics, funny favorite films, or TV movies that you see on '25 Days of Christmas' or Lifetime, lol.

Christmas Eve, I worked, slept, and then did the family thing. I know we had things to do, but it was such a blur, I can't remember where we went, besides church!! I LOVE going to our church's Christmas Eve service. I really enjoyed that.

After church, my family went out to eat at Chili's. Long story, but it's a tradition to go to Chili's sometime during the Christmas season, usually the night we get our tree. But, since that didn't happen, we decided to go on Christmas Eve. Yummy!

About 11pm, it was time to head to work. I ran by Starbucks for a Holiday treat of a Peppermint White Mocha Frapp and a Cranberry Bliss Bar. I also picked up a slice of Gingerbread for JJ, who I was relieving. The man at Starbucks was NOT happy about working on Christmas, lol. Very grumpy. Finally, in my cheery Christmas way, I asked him how long he had to work. He grumbled, "I get off at 5:30 in the morning.".... I happily said, "I have to work til 6. We're in the same boat! Merry Christmas!"

Our Christmas Day format didn't require a lot of on-air talking, so I had LOTS of time to watch movies. It was a 6 hour shift, so I watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Family Stone, and Elf.

Once I was done, I headed home and was able to catch about 2 hours of sleep before the Christmas morning festivities began. We opened presents and then cleaned up. A bunch of family came over at 1pm to eat. Loads of fun. Then, about half of us went to see Bedtime Stories at 4:30om. It was a really cute movie!

Once we got home, I caught another 2 hour nap. Then, my family watched Home Alone and ate leftovers. Then, it was back to work!!

I pretty much worked non-stop from Friday until Monday night. I think like 30 hours, plus a remote. Not kidding. So, it was a blur. But, on Saturday, I was able to visit with my friend Meg. She recently had a baby, so I got to see him for the first time. There is nothing in this world like a baby falling asleep in your arms.

After a great (if slightly short!) visit with Meg, I ran to meet my step-sister Brittany for coffee and a quick gift exchange. I got both Meg's baby David and my neice Kadence personalized (Disney) "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornaments, which was fun to pick out. Kadence is 8 months old, so I had tons of fun holding her and playing, while visiting with Brittany.

Sadly, on Friday, one of my friends was let go from the station, due to the economy. It was a bit of a shock around the station when we found out that S was gone. I was supposed to cover for him, while he was on vacation, from Tuesday through Friday. But, with him being let go and his replacement (another one of my friends, who was moved from another area of the station to the overnights) taking over, I suddenly had a couple days off. It was a mixed bag of emotions, but ultimately I was relieved to have a few days off. I needed the time... I'd worked every day from the day after Thanksgiving (Nov 28) until Monday (Dec 29). Like I said, mixed feelings, but it was much needed.

So, what did I do? Well, I slept, lol. I caught up on my TV shows that I'd missed in December. I did laundry, lol. I hung out with the family. It was nice.

I went to Disney on Tuesday! (post to follow)

Wednesday was my brother's 16th birthday (more on that later), as well as New Year's Eve. I went to a party at my friend's boyfriend's house. That was fun. Welcome to 2009!

I don't think I actually left the house on New Year's Day, lol. We may have gone out to eat, but, again, such a blur. Unfortunately, that's what happens when you don't sleep enough... the days begin to run together and you can't remember what you did. Wait! I did go out! My mom, stepdad, and I went to dinner and to see Marley and Me. SOOOO good!!!

Friday was another sad shock. Another one of my friends (and who is pictured and mentioned on this blog several times) was let go. While I was sad about S, I'm fairly devastated about JJ. He's like a big brother to me. We've hung out a lot at work and almost every memory I have of JJ is of him making me crack up. I know he and his family will be ok, but it still makes me sad. He is a great guy and a real team player. This darned economy!!!

One thing that I love about this station is the people who work here. There are some characters!! And, over the past 3 1/2 years, I've made real friends with several of them. JJ is one of those. Hopefully, there won't be anymore cutbacks.... because, I really hate seeing my friends go.

Allow me to travel back to memory lane for a second....

All-Time Favorite Memory with JJ....... we had a remote at a home builders on a Sunday. I'd worked the overnight and only had like 2 hours of sleep. We got there at 9am and set up, even though no one from the company was there. The remote started at 10 and we were broadcasting in this empty neighborhood. There was about 10 houses and only one was occupied. We sat in the driveway of the model home and watched as this family came and went. At one point, we had the music going and JJ talked into the microphone, "Hello, house on the corner! If we're bothering you, we'll gladly turn the music down!" Then, at about 11:30 (after we'd been there for 2 1/2 hours and had been broadcasting for 1 1/2), we get a call from back at the station..... we were at the wrong site!!! We'd been given the wrong location. So, we had to throw everything in the van, race across town, and set up at the correct location. What was supposed to be a 10-1 quickly turned into a 10-3! It was a mess... we laughed ourselves silly the entire time (otherwise we would have cried). I wish we had a picture of us set up in the driveway, all by ourselves, in the empty neighborhood.

All-Time Favorite Memory with S.... a few months after I started working on the air and S became full-time, we both got put on the website. We'd taken pictures for it on the same day and were eagerly awaiting it being put up. Well, when it was, S's picture hadn't been cropped and his shirt was untucked. He goes, "Have you seen that picture of me? I look ridiculous.".... I looked at it and replies, "You look like one of those polygomist women in Texas." Well, S had just taken a sip of his coffee and it went right out of his nose!!! We laughed hysterically because of the coffee and the fact that he really did look like a Polygomist, lol.

Saturday came and it was time to work, again! Now, I'm back at the grind. School starts Tuesday (tomorrow the 5th) and I continue my longterm sub assignment until the 13th. Then, the 15th, I go to Memphis!!! I'm seriously SOOOO excited about it and expect several blogs recapping the trip!