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Archive for May, 2022

Today is the last day of May, and it is exciting to think about all of my summer plans spread over the next three months. This will be my first summer in quite some time that I do not have to return to school at the end of July. Oh, what JOY!

June will be packed with plans and procedures. July through Labor Day will afford me more downtime, which will allow for more fun projects to do around the house and to cross items off my 22 for 2022 list. So, here is a little snapshot of what I am planning for this summer.

JUNE

  • Engagement Party for my niece Kaitlyn and her fiancé Marc
  • The Audubon Croppers (TAC) Scrapbooking Event with my scrapbooking gal pals
  • Trip to New York City with Andrew
  • Saenger Theatre in New Orleans to see Hamilton
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (“The Mist” and “1408”)
  • Slasher Movie Marathon with Kelsi

JULY

  • Gardening (front of the house)
  • Sprucing up the Front Porch
  • Home Office Makeover
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (It)

AUGUST

  • Work on my YouTube Channel (hoping to launch after Labor Day)
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (Cujo)
  • Audition for The Jungle Book at the Columbia Theatre

Of course, this list contains the highlights of my summer plans. I will also be reading, blogging, scrapbooking, hanging out with friends and family, going to the movies, and meeting one evening each month with my book club. I am always up for adventures that may spring up throughout the summer.

In addition to having fun this summer, I also have to make time for self-care. I have scheduled two procedures in June: a colonoscopy and an implant to replace the fractured tooth I had pulled back in July 2020. I also need to schedule my mammogram and other doctor appointments between July and Labor Day. While these appointments are not necessarily fun, they are necessary for me to have fun.

Tomorrow starts clean eating and exercising for me. After months of neglect, I hope my body does not go into shock. HA! I want to get back to my daily walking habit. I have missed it immensely and thoroughly enjoy my walks.

Oh, how I am looking forward to this summer! What will your summer look like this year, dear reader? I hope whatever you choose to do, it will include some fun and relaxation. Happiness!

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”          ~ Jeannette Walls

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My Daddy and I recently took a road trip to Atlanta (12-16 May) to visit my sister and her family for my niece Emma’s graduation from high school. I have been to Atlanta several times over the last 18 years, but this was the first time I drove there. Taking a road trip with me behind the steering wheel is 100% out of my comfort zone; however, I refuse to let that stop me from going on an adventure. If you remember, dear reader, I drove my Daddy and me to Kentucky to visit my Uncle Manuel back in September 2020. Besides, my Daddy does not like to fly anymore because he always ends up getting sick; therefore, I sucked it up and volunteered to drive us there and back. We left on Thursday, 12 May around 9:00 in the morning. Although driving to Atlanta was a piece of cake, driving through the city of Atlanta is no picnic. The last 15 minutes of our journey was daunting, but we prevailed. I am super happy we made the trip.

We arrived at the Killian homestead around 7:30 p.m. Atlanta time. Atlanta is an hour ahead of Louisiana. We were greeted warmly with smiles, hugs, and BBQ. My last trip to Atlanta was for Emma’s Confirmation back in November 2019. My Daddy’s last trip was Thanksgiving 2021 with Barry, Jr. (my oldest son). We all hung out and caught up for the remainder of the evening. On Friday, Emma and Lee had graduation festivities to attend and my sister had to work, which was great, since I also had to do some work for HGCS. My Daddy binged-watched the Jack Reacher series. Later that evening, since Lee and Emma were attending a graduation party, Rachel ordered Chinese food for us. I finally took a ride in her elevator. It is really cool to have an elevator in your house. We took a ride up to the attic. Instead of a skeleton in the closet, they have a skeleton in the attic.

On Saturday afternoon, Emma and I went shopping for clothes at a boutique called Vestique and book shopping at Barnes and Nobles. Emma is a voracious reader like me. Of course, we could not leave the bookstore without me buying us books and Starbucks. My evening was spent watching a horror movie called The Twin with Emma and her friend Marissa in the home theater. It is even cooler to have a home theater in your house, especially with comfy chairs. Austin does not care for scary movies, so he left quickly after the movie started. HA! A scary dog instead of a scary cat.

Sunday rolled around for the big day, Emma’s high school graduation from Pace Academy. We all woke up early, got dressed, and headed out to Pace Academy’s Sports Complex. It was an outdoor graduation. Thankfully, it had stopped raining before we arrived, and we encountered cooler temps for the majority of the ceremony. My heart swelled with joy watching Emma walk on the field to take her seat among her classmates. I got a little teary-eyed watching her receive her high school diploma. I am proud of my sweet, talented, and beautiful niece who also happens to be my goddaughter. In the fall, she will be attending Santa Clara University in California.

After graduation, we all went to eat lunch at Del Frisco’s Grille in downtown Atlanta. We started off with Cheesesteak Eggrolls and Del’s Deviled Eggs. Rachel and I each got an entree and split them. I ordered Strawberry Cobbler French Toast, and she ordered Braised Shortrib Hash. The food was excellent! Then, we all went back to the house. Emma had two graduation parties to attend (one in the afternoon and one in the evening). Lee helped host the afternoon party. It was nice to just relax after all the graduation festivities, especially with having to drive home early the next morning.

On Monday morning at 6:30 a.m., my Daddy and I said our good-byes to Rachel and Lee, thanked them for their hospitality, and got on the road heading towards Louisiana. I dropped my Daddy off at his house at 1:30 p.m. and arrived back home at 2:30 p.m. Louisiana time. What a wonderful road trip, graduation, and time with family!

The school year officially ended on Friday, 20 May along with my job as the instructional coach at HGCS. The closing of this school year ends a chapter in my work life. Technically, I have retired from the world of elementary education. One would think I was whooping it up as I left the school parking lot; however, I felt exactly the way I always feel on the last day of school – free and thrilled for the onset of summer break. The “whooping it up” will eventually happen, during the last week of July, when all of my teacher friends are going back to school to attend PLC meetings and to get their classrooms ready. I will not only feel relief at that moment in time, but I will also feel excitement and joy because I will be embarking on my next adventure.

My summer break kicks off tomorrow morning, dear reader. I will begin decluttering and organizing my home, starting with my scrapbook room which is a total disaster. Luna is getting spayed on Tuesday and will be out of the house until Wednesday afternoon, so I plan to take advantage of that time to get my scrapbook materials organized and my photos ordered for my annual scrapbooking event that I am attending with my girlfriends in June. I have quite a few activities and appointments scheduled this summer, especially throughout the month of June. I will be making memories, practicing self-care, and preparing for the next chapter of my life. Happiness!

“The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school.” ~ Alice Cooper

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Happy Mother’s Day! I am blessed to be the mother of two young men, Andrew and Barry, Jr., who have not only brought me an overabundance of joy, but also a fair amount of worry and frustration over the years. Thankfully, there has been way more joy than worry. I love my boys immensely!

Motherhood can be a wonderful experience; however, it can also be nerve-racking and exhausting at times. Despite the lack of sleep during their baby years and teenage years (especially when they start driving), the worry over their well-being, and the heartache you feel when they are hurting (physically or emotionally), it is all worth it. Motherhood is one of my toughest roles, but it is also my most fulfilling one, and I would not trade it for anything. Motherhood looks differently for everyone. It is not a one type fits all kind of role. Whether you happen to be the mother of humans, fur babies, a creative endeavor, or a business, dear reader, this is your day to celebrate your path to motherhood.

Yesterday, we hosted a crawfish boil with a few of our friends and family. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day. Barry, Sr., along with my boys and our neighbor John, boiled the crawfish. The mudbugs were spicy good! We had a great deal to celebrate – Helen moving back to Louisiana, Claire passing her Praxis exam, mothers, friendship, life in general. Unfortunately, my momma was unable to attend; however, we did send my Daddy home with flowers, crawfish, and dessert for her. Much gratitude to Helen who took the pictures of our day together.

As you know, dear reader, May is Zombie Awareness Month, and I am completely engrossed in all things related to zombies. Currently, I am obsessed with All of Us Are Dead, the South Korean coming-of-age tv series streaming on Netflix. WOWZER! I think it is AMAZING. Basically, there is a zombie virus outbreak at a high school with a group of teenagers trapped in the school, fighting for survival. If anyone or anything is bitten by an infected person or animal, the virus works insanely fast, turning them into raging, rabid zombies. It is definitely worth a watch for zombie lovers.

Well, it is time for this zombie lover to get on with her day. It will be a low-key kind of day. Since my mom and I cannot get together today, we will plan a mother-daughter outing at a later date. As for my plans for today, I will be hanging out at home with my guys and fur babies, relaxing, and perhaps, watching some more All of Us Are Dead with the hubster. Blessings to all the women out there who assume the role of mom. Big hugs to those of you who can no longer spend the day with your mother. Wishing all of you a beautiful week ahead. Happiness!

“We are born of love; love is our mother.” ~ Rumi

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What a gratifying reading month April was for me! I continue to choose stellar stories, making my bookish adventure this year all the more joyful. I completed eight books in the month of April, and as of today, I am eight books ahead of schedule. Woot-Woot!

Nonfiction Selection

I chose The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp (with Mark Reiter) for my April nonfiction selection. I had been wanting to read this book ever since Gretchen Rubin recommended it. At the library book sale, I attended with Michelle back in March, I snagged a copy for two bucks. Twyla Tharp is a dancer and one of the greatest choreographers in America who has created a plethora of dances since her career began in 1965. She has also received many awards and recognition for her contribution to the world of ballet. While many of her ideas about developing a creative habit stem from her experience as a dancer and choreographer, she has written this book for anyone who is pursuing a creative life as well as anyone who chooses a more traditional career path. Each chapter focuses on lessons Tharp has learned over her thirty-five-year career, along with 32 useful exercises, to help readers make creativity a part of their lives through developing a creative habit. This book was an enjoyable read. It is a terrific resource with plenty of exercises to help readers tap into their creativity. I gave it 4 stars!

#Read21in21 Challenge

I started April off reading a young adult short story horror collection, followed by four middle grade books. I read another Gordon Korman novel (no surprise), a mystery, and two selections in the horror category.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke contains 14 short stories that are all inspired by novels, short stories, songs, television series, or movies, but each one has its own unique twist. Some of the stories are creepy while others are more psychologically thrilling. My top five favorites are “Fat Girl with a Knife,” “M,” “A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow,” “Stitches,” and “In the Forest Dark and Deep.” I gave it 4 stars.

Unplugged by Gordon Korman was a terrific middle-grade read. Personally, I do not think anyone can go wrong reading Kormon’s books. Many of them are hilarious with heart at the core. And, Unplugged is no exception. Jett Baranov is a spoiled, rich kid who ends up at the Oasis in the middle of the Arkansas wilderness for the summer after pulling one too many pranks. His goal is to get thrown out; however, he quickly gets immersed in a mystery, develops unlikely friendships, and learns not everything is a joking matter. This is another 5-star read by Gordon Korman.

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson was a marvelous middle-school mystery. Abbey Force and Bee Force (no relation) become fast friends when Bee’s father buys Abbey’s plantation home near Felony Bay. Abbey is forced to live with her mean-spirited Uncle Charlie and his unsympathetic wife after her father falls into a coma, following an accident, and can no longer care for her. Abbey and Bee stumble upon a mystery at Felony Bay, involving Uncle Charlie and some other shady locals, and the girls work together to solve it. I enjoyed this debut novel and gave it 5 stars.

While Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine is not my favorite book in the Goosebumps franchise, it was still entertaining and a good introduction to Slappy the dummy. Twin sisters, who love to compete with one another, soon find out their dummies have a sinister side. I am not a huge fan of dolls, dummies, mimes, or clowns because they are CREEPY, especially when they are possessed.  This was a 3-star read for me.

The Girl in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga is a ghost story with the right amount of creepiness for young readers. Briana Jensen moves in temporarily with her grouchy Uncle Shane on Shadowborn Road while her mother attends a training program. Shortly after arriving, Brianna encounters a ghostly young girl, who went missing on her way home from the town’s fall festival many years ago and uncovers the circumstances surrounding her murder. This middle-grade ghost story held my interest and earned 4 stars.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill is a ghostly gothic horror novella that I absolutely adored from start to finish. Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, narrates the story of the harrowing ordeal he experiences while staying at Eel Marsh House in the small town of Crythin Gifford. I found this atmospheric story riveting and spine-tingling. Hands down, it is a 5-star read for me, and I look forward to reading more of Hill’s ghost stories.

Year of King

April’s selection was The Dark Half. The story is about Thad Beaumont, a writer, who after struggling to achieve success under his own name, decides to write novels under the pen name, George Stark. While these novels are commercially successful, they are dark, violent, and bring out unsavory qualities in Thad. An unexpected turn of events prompts Thad to retire his pseudonym, causing dire circumstances to befall anyone connected to Thad and his decision to bury his dark half.

I had seen the movie back in the 90s, but I had never read the book. Boy, am I glad Kelsi and I chose this underrated gem to read for our Year of King. I thought it was gripping, chilling, and disturbing. It earned a 5-star rating from me. There were so many terrific scenes throughout the novel. The surgery scene is one of my favorites. While researching and taking notes on The Dark Half for my chat with Kelsi, I discovered a bunch of fun facts about psychopomps, where King got the idea for this story, and how King came up with the name Stark for his villain. We had an congenial conversation about The Dark Half on May 1st, discussing both the book and the movie. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

I would be remiss not to mention my failed attempt at participating in Kelsi’s April Readathon/Watchathon. I just could not fit another book into my already packed schedule. I really thought spring break would help, but I just had too many other activities and scheduled reading that I can only count three reads for the Readathon (Night of the Living Dummy, The Dark Half, and The Woman in Black) and three watches for the Watchathon (an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants and Goosebumps – “The Haunted Mask” as well as The Dark Half movie). Oh well, there is always next year.

May has officially begun, and it is Zombie Awareness Month! Therefore, I will be reading books all month that are related to zombies. I am currently reading Dead City by James Ponti for #Read21in21. My book club selection for May is The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis. It will also count as my nonfiction choice for the month. Pet Sematary is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and the two movies on Sunday, 29 May at 2:00 PM CT. May is going to be a zomberific reading month for me. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles W. Eliot

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Happy Zombie Awareness Month, dear reader! I am ready for some zombie fun which will last ALL month long. ZOMBIES are my jam! I have created another Zombie Fun List just for this year. It will include anything related to zombies, such as movies, television shows, books, short stories, articles, cocktails, and clothing. Kelsi will also be joining me for a zomberific good time, and when it is all said and done, we plan to chat about our rotting good time with reanimated corpses.

Zombie Fun List

Movies

Television Shows

  • The Walking Dead
  • Fear the Walking Dead
  • TWD: World Beyond
  • All of Us Are Dead
  • Kingdom

Books, Short Stories, and Articles

For more information about zombies, check out the Zombie Research Society. They have awesome articles about the living dead, including a recent article called “Digesting the Living: Zombie Stomach Acid” which was posted on 09 April 2022 by Luke W. Boyd. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Additionally, for all you readers who are on the fence about zombies, check out Kelsi’s latest video, 10 Zombie Movie Recommendations for People Who Don’t Like Zombies! on YouTube. Kelsi loves horror, but zombies are not her favorite horror genre. However, she does admit that she has found some undead gems since celebrating Zombie Awareness Month with me.

I am thrilled to be celebrating zombies throughout the month of May. If time permits, I will sprinkle additional zombie posts throughout the month. Of course, dear reader, if you feel the compulsion to join us, we would love to know what activities you will be engaging in during the month. What does it take to become a zombie? Deadication. Happiness!

“You can’t negotiate with a zombie. They have only one impulse – that’s to eat us or our brains.” ~ Stephen Graham Jones

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