Well, it's happened. I'm almost 36 and I've figured out what I want to do with my life.

Sure, I will still pursue make-up and photography, but it's not that easy to make these things a career when it is such a highly competitive field. There's a lot of feast or famine. And I really just need a steady, fulfilling meal. (Of course, after my last blog, I should probably say a low-fat, healthy meal!)

Last weekend, we loaded up the kids and went to Charleston, SC. Dominic had a conference there, so we tagged along. The kids and I went to the aquarium, we all went to the open market, Folly Beach, then on Tuesday we went to the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry. Http://

This place ROCKED! It is an educational experience dressed up in the garb of a huge indoor play area! There are themed rooms and it's all designed for kids up through the age of 12. There's an art room with table after table of art supplies to dig into. There's a room that is a castle, complete with stonework, a second level, spiral stairs, dress up stuff, a puppet theater, a medieval was insanely detailed. Publix grocery store sponsors a mini grocery store, complete with check out areas and computers that scan the products. There's a water room with tons of things to do to get nice and messy, fortunately, smocks are provided and there is a set up to show the cycle of know, evaporation to clouds to rain...that sort of thing. I could go on and on about this place. There's an area for toddlers. A big shrimping boat with nets, steering wheels, a mini kitchen and floors that wobble when you walk, to simulate the movement of a boat in the ocean.

For me, it was so exciting to see a place that was completely hands on! There really wasn't much that was off limits for the kids. There were tons of kids running around, using their's such a pleasant change from seeing kids with gameboys securely fastened in their clutches.

So it got me thinking. There really isn't anything like this in Charlotte. There is Discovery Place, which is more scientifically hands on. And there is Imaginon, which combines a public library and the Children's Theater. BUT there is nothing like this.

I plan on touring some of the other Children's Museums around. There is one in Winston-Salem, Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. I've been going over their websites comparing and contrasting with the one in Charleston.

The wheels are turning! I am fortunate enough to know lots of creative people and many teachers who can provide input. And my husband has a good idea of who I need to plan to talk to about sponsorships. But there is so much to do. I need a lawyer who specializes in non-profit organizations. I need to really research these other museums and the demographics of Charlotte. When I think about all I need to do, it's very scary. This is a huge project I never would've dreamed of undertaking. But it combines my love of kids and art and I can't help but think that it wouldn't be anything but completely worth it and totally gratifying.

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Confessions of a Fat Chick

Let me preface this blog by saying that I will be speaking very frankly. I may even be considered offensive by some. I apologize if this is the case, but I'm a fat chick and I am allowed to be blunt, honest and realistic about it. I'm not condoning being ultra-thin or skinny. I am condoning being healthy.

I'd also like to add that I am not fishing for compliments. People tell me I am pretty and I appreciate that, I really do. But I can look in a mirror...I can see what I look like. I know that if I were more healthy I could feel and look better than I ever have.

On my vacation in the wild west, I got a wild hair when I was at the Ubehebe volcanic crater in Death Valley and decided to take the vertical 1/2 mile hike up to the smaller crater on the side of the volcano, called Little Hebe. It was very tough. It didn't help that I had on hiking sandals and not closed toe shoes, rocks were all in them. But I huffed and puffed and felt my heart beating out of my chest like it was going to pop...on more than one occasion. I stopped at two different points and almost decided to quit. I can remember calling down to my husband and kids saying that I just didn't know if I could do it. I was really scared I was going to have a heart attack or something.

I persevered and finally made it to the top. I was very surprised to find that I was so overwhelmed that I burst into tears. Part of that was because I got to the top. Most of it was that I didn't die in the process.

I had the very stark realization that I am seriously unhealthy and out of shape. I weigh less than I did when I had my kids, but not by much. To be completely honest and open, I am at 217 lbs.

I've been wearing size 16 jeans for a while now. But when I recently picked up some capri pants and bermuda shorts for the trip, they were 18 and 20. The shorts were a little big, but they didn't have an 18. Holy shit...that was a wake up call.

I am not going to have loads of lame excuses. I've not treated myself well over the past couple of years. Late night snacking and soft drinks are my worst vices. I put on 60 lbs in the past year alone when I was in my own apartment, feeling depressed and sorry for myself. I didn't care about much of anything.

But now I do care. I don't even look like myself anymore. I'm shocked that I've not had people ask me when my baby is due. The only thin parts on my body are my wrists and my ankles. I don't see the point in being fashion forward when I feel like everything I wear makes me look frumpy. So, I live in American Apparel deep-V tee shirts because the v-neck is flattering and the sleeves come down just above my elbow and cover my upper arms. I usually stick to jeans that fall at the waist. I had stayed away from shorts because I hate the thought that they may creep up my thighs and do that icky bunching thing you see from time to time. The thoughts of that just makes me shudder.

I have no idea what to do with my hair. I feel like trying to have a trendy shorter cut is a joke, I'm still overweight and far from fashionable. But having it long makes me feel really dowdy and frumpy.

I suppose I simply cannot pretend to be okay with who I am right now. That's why I can't attempt to dress myself up like it's fine and I'm the norm. The only thing that can make me appear thinner is to diet in a healthy way and exercise regularly. Sure, America is a heavier nation in general. But that doesn't make it okay and we are kidding ourselves if we think it's more acceptable because overweight people are growing in numbers every day.

I now worry about my blood pressure and the possibility of diabetes if I do not get myself under control. Both conditions run in my family.

I want to teach my kids that I can be healthy and look and feel better. I want to set an example for them. My daughter has only seen me at a healthy weight in photos.

I'm not going to go on any wacky crash diets or get myself an eating disorder. I need to change the way I think and the habits that I have. I'm not afraid of the hard work it is going to take. I just wasn't ready before. Food was way too comforting. Being asleep most of the day was the only relief I had from the depression that plagued (and still does to an extent) me. I have no plans to fit back into my pre-baby size 4 clothes. Ideally I'd like to be a size 8. I think anything smaller is unrealistic and would be too thin for me.

I know I've made false promises to myself in the past about my weight. But I plan on going back to that volcano and kicking it's ass next year...without all the huffing, puffing and bursting heart.

Later today, I am taking the first big step and talking to my doctor about my concerns. I'll keep you posted.

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Driving Rant - High Beams

Okay, as I've said before, I've been longing to write a blog about driving. I love to drive. I just got home from a 5800 mile road trip to California. But it's the other drivers who can make driving a stressful, rant-worthy experience.

I'm not going to tackle all of my various rants about driving in one blog. It would be an epic read and I'd probably leave something out. So, I will write one here and there about one thing that irks me at the time.

I have found that there is a problem, nationwide, when it comes to using high beam headlights. Every time I drive at night, there is always some moron tooling along, blinding everyone in sight. Apparently this is a topic that is no longer covered in driver's education. So, I'll explain it as simply as I can.

**If you see a car on the road, ANYWHERE...then do NOT use your high beams. **

It doesn't matter if you see headlights or tail lights, do NOT use your high beams. Sure if you're on a highway alone and there is no one there, then go for it. But if you come around a curve or crest a hill and see lights in the distance, shut them off. Driving out west, I came across some very long stretches of straight roads. I could see cars miles away. Many wouldn't shut off the high beams until they were right at me, which it didn't really matter then, I was already blinded.

So, what if you are on an interstate that has a huge median in the middle of the road? Well, unless it is one of those concrete barriers that stand about 4 feet tall, then you still should NOT use your high beams if you see other cars. If it's one of those grass medians, I can still see you, you can still see me and you will STILL be blinding me.

If you're in an area with street lights, then you definitely do not need to use your high beams. That's just redundant and unnecessary.

The bottom line is that it's just plain dangerous, especially if you are on a two-lane road. And while this all seems like it should be common sense, apparently it is not. So please take note and be courteous to other drivers out in the world. It's really not an issue of one driver being against another one...I'm sure the incidents of road rage would drop dramatically if people simply looked out for each other.

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