Coll Writes

You know how I do.

The Adventures of Zach & Zoe: Part 19

Written By: Colleen - Aug• 28•17

They…play together? I turned around to get something out of the refrigerator and when I looked back, this was how they greeted me. Zoe is still not a huge fan of Zachary, but she’s a very good sport.

[Photo taken August 28, 2017.]

Eclipse!

Written By: Colleen - Aug• 21•17

As pretty much anyone with a pulse knows, today was a total solar eclipse in North America. We were not in the path of totality, but we were pretty close to it at 93% here in Raleigh, NC and luckily, Jay picked us up some eclipse glasses from Lowes back in early July (not even kidding; we had ours before we even left for Comic-Con in mid-July). High five, Jay!

I had to work today, but was fortunate enough to be able to leave my office for most of the “good” parts of the eclipse. Jay and I were going to meet at the RDU Airport Observation Deck, but Jay realized late-morning that we’d have a great view of the sun from our driveway and back deck, so we changed plans at the last minute.  Jay made a fun little setup with a table, chairs, and umbrellas. The action in the Raleigh area began at about 1:15 p.m. I got home around 1:30ish and settled in for the action.  As you can see, Jay and I have very different methods of sitting out in the sun in general:

So, the eclipse began around 1:15 p.m. and we maxed out at 93% coverage at the 2:43-2:45 p.m. mark. It was really, really neat. I only waited for a little over an hour, it passed by really quickly – and I wasn’t really even playing on my phone during this time. Thank YOU for the natural entertainment, Mother Nature. As we approached maximum coverage, we heard the crickets start chirping like it was dusk and although the temperature on my watch never dipped more than 10 degrees over a 2-hour timespan, it did start to feel cooler once around 50-60% of the sun was covered. The other really neat thing was the way the light changed. It never got dark, but it was this odd lighting like we were outside at dusk but sitting under flood lights. Does that make sense? I left to go back to work a little bit after 3 p.m., and while I was driving back, it was eerie in that the daylight looked like it was very early morning – that still, calm, “new” light effect.

As we approached maximum coverage, we heard the crickets start chirping like it was dusk and although the temperature on my watch never dipped more than 10 degrees over a 2-hour timespan, it did start to feel cooler once around 50-60% of the sun was covered. The other really neat thing was the way the light changed. It never got dark, but it was this odd lighting like we were outside at dusk but sitting under flood lights. Does that make sense? I left to go back to work a little bit after 3 p.m., and while I was driving back, it was eerie in that the daylight looked like it was very early morning – that still, calm, “new” light effect.

I had a great time watching it. It really was such a cool phenomenon to get to witness, and I’m so happy that 1) I was able to go home and view it comfortably and 2) the weather cooperated and we didn’t have many clouds. We decided to leave Zachary in school for it because he’s adverse to wearing any kind of eyewear and in that threenager phase where he would never have cooperated anyway or even “got” what was happening.

Anyways, it took a bit trial and error and advice from a friend, but I was able to get a few decent pictures of the eclipse by holding my iPhone about an inch away from the glasses and then turning the screen brightness all of the way down. I’ve loved scrolling through Facebook and Instagram today, seeing everyone’s pictures. Here are my pictures with time stamps. Enjoy!

1:40 p.m.

2:12 p.m.

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Dolly + Miley + Pentatonix = My Favorite Jolene

Written By: Colleen - Dec• 01•16

I am obsessed with this version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” This is Dolly, Miley Cyrus, and Pentatonix performing an acapella version of “Jolene” on The Voice the other night.

When we first started dating back in 2007, Jay and I used to debate whose cover of this song was better. He always insisted that the White Stripes’ version (Jolene [Live]) was the best, while I was always partial to Mindy Smith’s version (Jolene (Bonus Track)) because it was the first cover that I’d heard of it. (I’ve since changed my vote to the version that Miley did for her Backyard Sessions in 2012.) After watching this video about 29 times last night, it has become my new favorite version. If you like this one, you should also check out the single that Pentatonix released with Dolly Parton back in September (Jolene or video below the jump). Okay, I’m gonna stop now before this becomes Jolene overkill. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite version of Jolene?

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But Seriously.

Written By: Colleen - Nov• 28•16

Well, here we are again. This is probably the third or fourth time in the last two years that I have done a mea culpa for disappearing and then come back, vowing to blog on the regular again. Yet, here I am. This time, it’s going to be different, dammit! I’m going to blog at least 3 times a week, Internet-distractions be damned!

But seriously.

Life has been all over the place since my last blog post. There’s been a bunch of bad and then worse, but I think – I hope – that as 2016 ends, I am a stronger person than I was when 2016 started. I don’t know if I’m unscathed, but within those challenges came a lot of good. I’ve done some serious soul searching over the last five or six months in order to figure out who I am and who I want to be. But hey, everyone goes through shit, so I’m not going to get into any of that now. Plus, why give away all of the goods on the first blog post back? 😉

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So, back on Halloween, I was suckered into one of those Groupon deals for this “Antique Leather Brown Notebook” from Monogramhub (above). I didn’t really read the fine print or the reviews, haha. I just saw that it was a notebook for $5 + shipping, so I figured I’d get it and use it for my next Broadcast-ideas notebook. Well, shame on me, because when it arrived, it was definitely much smaller than I thought it was! It’s not a total waste, though. I am a person who is great with checklists, so I decided to use it to make a list of blog post ideas and hold myself accountable to this “more than once every six months” pattern I’ve been on lately. I’m even working on a post about the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life episodes on Netflix, stay tuned for that coming up soon!

So on that note, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We stayed in Raleigh this year and had a fun time at my in-laws’ house. Zachary was sick with a fever from Monday, Nov. 21 through Saturday, Nov. 26, so it was a pretty lowkey weekend/weekend in general for us. We spent a few hours at one of the only Urgent Cares that was open in the area on Thanksgiving morning because we were worried that Zach had strep. “Luckily,” it ended up just being tonsillitis. Given our track record (two sets of tubes and adenoid removal), I should open up a betting pool on how long it will take until he has to get his tonsils out, haha.

Ooookay, moving on to something more positive! On Saturday evening, Jay and I went to dinner and to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I thought it was really fun and totally recommend it to any Harry Potter fans out there. Eddie Redmayne is adorable, end of story.  I didn’t see the twist coming, but to be fair, I was enjoying a beer during the movie, haha, so I was just there to sit back, relax, and enjoy a few hours away from a sick preschooler. But anyway, I want to get the screenplay of it. I saw it at Barnes and Noble last week. If anyone has it, please let me know how it is! And if you saw Fantastic Beasts, let’s talk about it in the comments below!

The Broadcast!

Written By: Colleen - Jun• 28•16

JJ_2016_Broadcast

I’m doing a new podcast! It’s called “The Broadcast” and my cohosts are my old roommate from Astoria, Amanda, and my cohost on The Tribe, Shandy. If you have iTunes, you can subscribe here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-broadcast/id1128235491?mt=2 or if you use the Podcasts App on your iPhone, you can put our feed into your Safari browser and it will bring it up: http://jayandjack.com/category/broadcast/feed/. If you want to search for “The Broadcast” in another podcatcher app, just look for our logo and please consider subscribing and leaving us a nice 5-star review on iTunes. That is the thing that will help us get featured on iTunes (subscribing and reviews). Thank you!

So how did The Broadcast come about? The idea started a few years ago when Amanda and I were reminiscing about the MetroBuzz days and how much fun we had doing the Rooftop Sessions episodes. The Rooftop Sessions were special MetroBuzz episodes we recorded outside on the little roof of our apartment in summer 2007 and 2008. We generally recorded them when we had guests over, and the four of us (Me, John, Amanda, and the guest) would shoot the shit for 1.5-2 hours. I have such fond memories of that time period, and I’ve always wanted to try to recapture the magic when the time was right. Amanda has always floated the idea of us doing a podcast, but the timing was never right. Now that life has quieted down a little bit, I thought maybe the time was right. I didn’t want to do another TV-based podcast and have always loved Jay and Jack’s podcast, “The Married Man Show,” so I thought maybe we could do something with a loose format that was feedback-driven. Something where we could chat about our perspectives on life while being simultaneously silly and serious.

So, I texted Amanda at the beginning of May to ask her if podcasting was still feasible for her schedule, and she said yes. Bringing Shandy on board was pretty much a no-brainer; if I want to do a podcast filled with funny, intelligent women, then Shandy and Amanda were my girls. I floated the idea in the Jay and Jack Patrons-only Facebook group, and someone suggested calling it “The Broadcast.” I loved the name. Amanda and Shandy loved the name. And thus, the Broadcast was born.

Zachary Lou Turns Two

Written By: Colleen - Jun• 25•16

zachary-2nd-birthday-candles

So, Zachary turned two on June 13! I can’t believe I have a two-year-old. It feels like both yesterday and forever ago that he was born. I cannot believe how much he has grown over the last two years. He can play with trains and trucks masterfully. You can talk and explain something to him and he will listen, retain it, and recall it weeks later. Although you can’t always make out what he is saying, he tries to speak in sentences to tell you what he wants, what he’s seeing, or what he’s done. He started in the EPS1 (early preschool) room at school last month, and my weekly BabyCenter emails just changed from “Your Toddler…” to “Your Preschooler…” It’s just incredible.

We threw him a small birthday party on Saturday, June 11 with family and friends. My parents, sister, grandma, and aunt came from Long Island, which was awesome. Jay’s parents, sister, and brother-in-law came over, as did several of our friends. It was a great day. Because June in the South is like living in a sauna, we took everyone down to our neighborhood pool to chill before coming back to our house for hotdogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken, etc. Zach got a lot of great presents, many of which are spread out all over our floor as I type this, lol. His favorite gifts are two big trucks, a dump truck and a backhoe, that Jay picked out for us to give him. He also got an awesome Thomas the Train tricycle from his GiGi and Papa (Jay’s parents) that he scoots along in all over the house because he’s a shorty (13 percentile for height, baby!) and his feet don’t quite reach the peddles yet, lol. On Wednesday, he started a program called Soccer Shots at school, courtesy of his Grandma and Grandpa (my parents if you hadn’t done the process of elimination yet lol), and came home talking about the “soccer ball.” All in all, the kid made out pretty well on the gift front.

Zachary-thomas-tricycle

Riding his new tricycle

My favorite part of the party was having all of our friends and family here to hang out and have a good time. I love throwing parties and watching everyone have a good time. It makes me happy.

On Zach’s actual birthday, my sister Katelyn and I took him to see the “big trucks” aka the construction of new homes in the neighborhood adjacent to ours. He was in awe watching the real-life truck in action. After we dropped Kate off at the airport, we stayed at the little airport observation deck/children’s park to watch the planes take off. Watching the airplanes in action was another highlight for him. That evening, Jay and I took him to Kanki, a local hibachi restaurant. It’s so funny how little he cares about the “fun” stuff there, like the volcano. His reaction to the fire? “Meh, where’s the food?” hahaha, this kid. Anyways, it was a really great birthday, and I’m so thankful to have had two wonderful years with my little baby boy, my Lil Smoops. Love my little family. 🙂

zach-birthday-construction1

Looking at the big trucks.

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Airplane observation deck at RDU.

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Watching the airplanes take off at RDU.

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Family birthday picture at Kanki!

 

Obligatory 6-16-16 Post

Written By: Colleen - Jun• 16•16

Aaahhhh I missed some of the earlier ones this year, but not this one! I have two other posts that I have been working on, so I don’t have anything specifically to talk about in this one. But, what better time than to share a picture of this awesome dress that my coworkers and I are slightly in awe of?

champagne-wedding-dress

I mean, it’s got to be super heavy, but that dress is hilarious.

ANYWAYS, I am doing a new podcast! It’s called “The Broadcast” and my cohosts are my old roommate from Astoria, Amanda, and my cohost on The Tribe, Shandy. I will have more on that within the next day or so.

Next up in random, here is an awesome video of some dude named Richie Moriarty doing 14 different celebrity impressions while singing the opening song to “Hamilton.”

There isn’t very much else going on right now. Jay has a toy show this weekend, which is always fun for me and Zach to go to. Jay and I have been doing Blue Apron, so I will have a post about that soon, too. Thankfully, the rest of June is going to be quiet. Hope everyone else is doing well!

Two!

Written By: Colleen - Jun• 13•16

 

zach-2ndbirthday-dinner

They say in the darkest night,
there’s a light beyond

Happy Birthday to our little Zachary Louis, who I truly believe was sent to us two years ago today, June 13, to replace loss and sorrow with a constant source of life and joy. It is impossible to be sad when he’s around, and every year, he will continue to bring happiness and healing to his entire family. Thank you, Lord, for giving us the amazing son, grandson, nephew, and friend that you knew that we needed.

Zach-2ndbirthdayparty-family

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June 12, 2016

Written By: Colleen - Jun• 12•16

Words cannot describe how much we miss you. Sorrow is not just for Shakespeare and poetry. I wish that my son had the chance to get to know you, his namesake. I love you more.

colleen-granda-7.5.08

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Written By: Colleen - Jun• 08•16

Serafina-and-the-black-cloak-final-cover

I read a book! (I really need to do that more often.) And, I liked it a lot. It was a wonderful young adult novel called Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.

Okay, well technically, the book is described as a middle-grade “spooky mystery-thriller.” Despite the middle-grade descriptor, I found Serafina and the Black Cloak to be a fun, whimsical tale of an unusual young girl named (you guessed it) Serafina who for some reason lives in secret in the basement of the Biltmore Mansion in Ashville, NC. Her father has hidden her presence from the world, and she only goes out in secret at nighttime to explore the mansion and catch rats. One night, she witnesses something supernatural, and from then on, her life is changed. It’s up to her to stop an evil that is spreading through the manor as it also leads her to uncover her own origins.

I loved this book and the story. I read it in within a day, which is rare for me, especially nowadays, even with books that are easy reads like this one. The story had a nice, quick pace, but never felt rushed. The author succeeded in the most important part of any story: making us care about the characters. While reading the book, I felt what Serafina felt and I cared about whether or not she a) found out the truth about herself and b) was able to defeat the book’s antagonist. I admit that I did guess the major reveal at some point in the middle of the book, but when it actually happened, I was satisfied. One other thing that helped a lot? My familiarity with the Biltmore itself. Even though I haven’t ever been there, I love their wine! But in all seriousness, being able to Google search for a map of the grounds because I knew it was a real place, written about by someone who is very familiar with the area and estate, helped get me more invested in the story.

If you are like me and are into fantasy young adult books, then I definitely recommend Serafina and the Black Cloak. It’s an easy read and a fun story. I already pre-ordered the next book in the series, Serafina and the Twisted Staff and am looking forward to reading it this summer. If you have already read this book, let me know in the comments! I’d love to discuss it.

Here’s a trailer for the book:

You can buy Serafina and the Black Cloak on Amazon.