Valentine Tradition

A few years ago my brother and I made some heart shaped sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day.  Instead of decorating them pink with pretty sprinkles, we iced them black and wrote what most people really think of the opposite sex (you know you’ve thought these).  Here are the contenders for Valentine’s Day 2012:

Some of these were repeats, some new, but all had us cracking up while we made them.

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Picture Update

I really didn’t mean to disappear for a couple of months but every time I came to the computer to write something I decided against it and before you know it, it’d been nearly two months.  So here’s what I’ve been up to during that time.

I had a month long break from school before starting back up again about three weeks ago.  This first summer term I’m taking Research Methods and just typing it out makes me snoozzzzzzzzzze.  In about another three weeks I’ll be adding Child Development to my load before getting a two week break before starting fall semester.  See what I mean?  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

During my month of May break, I had a whole list of stuff I wanted to do but you know, time passes quickly and I didn’t do nearly half of it.  I did manage to read 8 or 9 books which more than doubled what I had read this whole year up to that point.  Yay me.  And I’ve still been keeping up with my garden which has yielded barely any vegetables so far:

I have since picked and eaten the veggies in these photos and they were really good.  I’m sure more cucumbers are to come because the plants are huge and full of flowers.  So is the watermelon plant and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that one because I have become obsessed with watermelon this summer.

I added to the backyard by planting a lot of flowers and bushes.  It needed it badly and I was in the mood to experiment.  So far the majority of the flowers are thriving and slowly but surely our backyard is looking better and better.  I can’t wait for the sunflowers to finally get big and bloom but it might not be for a couple more months.  In the meantime here are some pics of just some of the flowers I’ve got back there:

I did notice the other day one of the flowers looked like it had been chewed and it didn’t take long to discover the culprit:

Every year we have wild rabbits that seem to roam through our neighborhood.  I have no idea where they actually live and I usually don’t mind them in the yard.  Just not when the eat my plants.

I also went on a little trip with my mom and sister down to Hot Springs.  We did some horseback riding and went to a wax museum among other things.  I’ve gotta be honest.  The wax museum was horrible.  It was so random and no one really looked like anybody they were supposed to.  Here are some of my favorites:

Ack!!  Seriously?!  Prince Charles reminds me of a rat and Queen Elizabeth hasn’t looked like that for at least 60 years.  I had to read the plaque to know who she was.

It was so dark in this section of the museum I took this picture mostly just to see what it was.  And then I had to laugh.  But the laughter really got going when we went into what I suppose was the kids/Disney section and saw this:

Gah, let’s take a closer look:

Hey what do you know, my new facebook profile picture.  I absolutely love his face.

In the beginning of May our town celebrated its annual Toad Suck Daze celebration.  In its honor, we had the kids at the preschool bring toads to school for some toad racing.  Imagine 16 preschool kids with toads but believe it or not, it was fun.  There are a couple of toads that live in the yard of the preschool and the kids LOVE to play with them.  I feel bad for the toads.  We had a frog fatality and I’ll spare you the details but will say barefeet = dead frog.

I hadn’t actually gone to the Toad Suck festivities since I was in high school but my brother and I decided to go and check it out this year.  This included walking the parameter and then leaving.  Too many people and a lot of lame stuff does not a good time make.  Trust me.  Although, one of the booths had a karaoke machine and was inviting participants.  When we waked by some white trashy girls (I know that sounds harsh but you weren’t there) were singing quite loudly and off key to R Kelly’s song Ignition.  It. Was. Hilarious….and terrible.  My brother got some video of it that I will have to get and post.

The only other thing I’ve been busy with is watching TV.  While I’m waiting for the summer shows like Burn Notice to start, I’ve become obsessed with Bones.

I’ve seen the show a number of times and like it but can’t watch it during the season because it’s on at the same time of a number of other shows I watch.  Lucky me, the reruns are on constantly.  There are about 12 episodes that get put on the DVR each week and I recently discovered all the seasons in their entirety on Netflix that I can access through my brother’s Xbox.  Lucky me indeed.  It’s taken me a while to actually be able to tolerate the character of Temperance Brennen.  Admittedly I watch the show for Seely Booth and his sarcasm.

I also spent a day making a ton of homemade strawberry jam that was/is absolutely heavenly and could quite possibly make applesauce a little later in the summer.  I might just be one of the oldest young people I know.

And there you have it – a run down of my two month hiatus.  You missed me didn’t you?

A Valentines Love Story

The title may be a tad misleading but it got you here right?  Naturally with Valentines around the corner our lives have all been saturated with (or in my case commercials that contain) cards, flowers, heart shaped candy, pink, red, love, …well you get the point.  I’m not a hater of the holiday but I honestly think it’s sort of ridiculous.

But then I caught a snippit of a morning news show that said something so wonderful I thought I heard it wrong.  So I made a beeline to google and found this article confirming the joyous news!  Chocolate is better for you than fruit!!!

Holy crap –  I am the healthiest person alive!!

And if this wasn’t good enough news, I read that white chocolate isn’t REALLY chocolate.  Thus confirming what I’ve always suspected.  Of course my suspicions were based  on the fact that “white chocolate” is disgusting and vile but now I have scientific confirmation that it’s an impostor to the chocolate family.

This is shaping up to be quite the Valentine’s Day.

It’s A Party

I celebrated my birthday like any self – respecting 31 year old should, with a party! …with 16 preschool kids.  Holla!  Ok, well maybe it wasn’t the party of the century but it really was cute.  When I walked in, all the kids were sitting down in a circle and at once they all yelled HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISS NATALIE!!!  Then they all jumped up and ran over to give me hugs.  Very sweet but little over powering.  I had to grab the wall so I wouldn’t fall over on top of them.  There was birthday banner strung up and this is what the white board looked like:

Apparently ‘E’ is a favored letter with someone.  Later in the morning they sat down again and handed me cards they had brought or made.  Here were some of my favorites:

I was told the drawing in the top left card is a picture of me, the red lined drawing in the card underneath is a picture of a house (floor plans maybe?).  In case I am ever curious about who sent me the card on the top right Anna made sure to write her name in it over and over, only she spelled it Anno and Aiden just might be the next Picasso with another self portrait of yours truly in the bottom right card.

When Anna handed me her card she was positively beaming.  Not only was I presented with a card but with this:

I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing.  EEK! Creepy!!  But according to her mom, Anna felt I just HAD to have one of her dolls and wouldn’t be consoled until she was granted permission to bring it for me.  The sentiment is very sweet.  The doll however, well, is not.

For morning snack my mom had brought over cupcakes with plastic rings sitting on top.

Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture until most of them were gone.  I don’t know what kind of dye was used in that frosting but it stained fingers and faces.  Hands down the messiest cupcakes eaten at the preschool to date.  But they were so much fun!

Here we have Jeremiah who was so kind as to draw my picture in his card, Anna the doll giver, and Haley.

The little boy in the red shirt on the right is the one who designed my future house in his card.  I know neither one of these pics makes it look all that messy but trust me.  These were taken within seconds of them receiving their cupcakes and the rest of the time I was on frosting control.

As soon as the cupcakes were finished and kids were cleaned we pulled out the playdoh.  Another totally messy activity that’s a pain to clean but fun never the less.  And as soon as I had scraped off the last piece of playdoh from the kitchen floor it was time for lunch.  What could we possibly eat that would top the mess of cupcakes and playdoh?  Oh yeah, spaghetti.  On the positive side, no one had dyed purple and blue fingers and faces anymore.  Instead they were all orange.  It looked like we were holding oompa loompa try outs in that kitchen.

This was hands down the best work birthday party I’ve ever had.  I really wish this last picture wouldn’t have turned out so blury.  But I didn’t have my camera and this was the best I could get.  Here are my kiddos:

Let Them Eat Cake!

Once upon a time I took a cake decorating class with some co-workers.  I went purely for the social aspect of it and had absolutely zero interest in actually learning how to decorate cakes, much to the shagrin of the instructor.  She would get on to me for holding the frosting bag incorrectly and using the wrong techniques.  So I would struggle awkwardly while she stood peering over my shoulder and as soon as her back was turned, I would continue in my heathen decorating ways.

The girls I teach at church wanted to learn to decorate cakes for an activity so last night we gave them some cakes and a vat of frosting and let them have at it.

I don’t know my genealogy that far back, but after last night I have a hunch there’s some daVinci blood in me somewhere.

Mona Lisa, Shmona Lisa.

My instructor was a fool not to recognize my talents.  A fool I tell ya!

I’m Not a Productive Person but I Play One on TV

For the past two weeks I’ve had Back to the Future Syndrome.  Usually this is when you move back home after a year or more and it feels as though you never left but you can’t remember being there.  And things have changed while you were gone but since it feels like you never left, you aren’t sure when all the changes could have happened.  And there you have the final scene when Michael J. Fox wakes up after only a night and yet a week had passed and nothing was as it was before: Back to the Future Syndrome.

Well I haven’t gone anywhere but the days have gone by so fast, I can’t really remember them.  And yet I was here.  Maybe it’s a Back to the Future in reverse.  Or sideways.  Maybe I’m actually in an episode of Lost.

What I can sort of remember is that my brother was in town for a week during semesters at school.  Has he really been gone four months already??  I’m still around kids ALL THE TIME which has really just blurred into a collage of sand, snot, building blocks, and funny conversations.  Earth Day was yesterday and I helped the kids create the Earth in art form using blue/green paint, a magnet, a coffee filter, and a save the Earth sticker.  It was as though I had transformed into a craft version of Macgyver.

I’ve been tanning so I no longer have to write CLEAR on forms that ask what race I am.  And I got my hair highlighted this past week and absolutely love it.  I don’t know why I don’t get my hair done more often.  I come out of there feeling like the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I’ve been feeling so good the past few days I’ve been bust’n a move to old school Madonna in my car.  You’re welcome people I pass on the road.  Road workers outside my neighborhood, I’m talking specifically to you.

I spent a few hours this week laying sod (thank you tetris for giving me mad skills that finally came in handy – I knew you weren’t a waste of time) and tomorrow I’m going to donate blood so my “humanitarian” efforts for the week can be checked.  I also made 5 dozen cookies and have dough to make another two – just thought I would randomly throw that in there.  This time next week I’m going to be back in Illinois visiting my sister and her family with my mom.  Next weekend is also Toad Suck Daze here and for those (all of you) who don’t know what that is don’t worry, I’ll explain in my next post.  But speaking of traveling, my family has been trying to get a mega trip together this summer.  I don’t know all the details yet but I can tell you it looks like I’ll be going from Arkansas to Utah to Idaho to Utah to Idaho to Utah to California possibly back to Utah or if not back to Arkansas.  All in two weeks.  And I’m trying to squeeze a side trip of my own in there to Spokane for a few days.  If you feel like contributing to that fund by all means, go with those feelings and help a fellow blogger out.  No?  Well, you can’t fault me for asking.

Oh and did I mention I’m sort of thinking about going back to school?  Oh how I love that I can make my life seem more busy and productive than it really is.

A Community Within A Community

One morning we took a little drive out to a local Amish community because I guess they usually have really good deals in their grocery stores.  Actually I’ve never visited an Amish community and that’s the real reason we headed out there.  The deals at the stores were just a cover up.  Though I’m not sure who I was trying to use the cover up on.  Myself I guess.  Anyway, I wanted to take pictures because I knew there would be some cool images I’d want to remember but when I got there I just felt like some big creep invading their privacy.  So most of these pictures (the ones of actual people) are courtesy of my sister who was better at getting the pictures without drawing attention.

First of all, it was really cold.  And windy.  Windy and cold, and I understand they don’t use modern technology like electricity but there’s no way I’d want to put these on when they finished drying.  Partly because I don’t think they could get fully dry in this kind of weather, especially the blue jeans.  I’d definitely want to put them next to a fire first.  But I’m a pansy like that.

We  get to the store and see this:

And when you look closer, just a little further down you see this:

Not something you see everyday.  Can you imagine the poor kid that works at the store thinking his job would just be to bag groceries and help carry them out for little old ladies.  Then he finds out he also has to be the horse pooper scooper?  Tough break kid.

Inside the store we found some niffty little gems:

You may not be able to see the writing very well but we have green bean crisps, squash chips, purple sweet potato chips, and okra chips.  Hmm, sounds yummy.  I’m not understanding why the green bean bag costs $7.31.  I thought green beans were pretty common everywhere and would be the cheapest out of the four.  Guess not.  Well, I guess I now know I’d lose if I ever was a contestant on the Amish version of the Price is Right.  My little mountain climber wouldn’t have a prayer.

If dried vegetables aren’t your thing, check out their gummy selection.  Missed breakfast?  No problem, have some fried eggs:

Not sure your teeth are up for the challenge?  Try some of theirs:

I don’t know what to say about the chicken feet there on the right.  I would like to know why the teeth are only $.88 while the others are closer to the $2 mark.

Thirsty?  Try this line of soda and don’t worry, it’s good for you:

Here are some of the locals:

A few days later my sister and I were in Staples and were standing by an Amish couple who was returning a fax machine/scanner.  I kid you not.  Maybe they were part of a less strict group?  I don’t know but not something you see every day.

Heading out we were behind this guy:

I thought this was a pretty cool shot showing the contrast in lifestyles between the Amish and others in the community.  As we got closer I noticed this:

The buggies have license plates and side mirrors.  The side mirrors make total sense but the license plates make me scratch my head.  I don’t know why exactly.  I guess I just assume, maybe ignorantly, that they don’t get in accidents very often.  I mean it’s a buggy for crying out loud.  It’s not like it comes out of nowhere going 70 mph. *shoulder shrug*

There’s more to come from my little trip to Charleston.  Phew, I know, no doubt you’re all on the edge of your seats.