First of All…

Yesterday was my birthday!  Whoo hoo!!  I had the day off work and was pretty lazy for most of the day.  My mom, brother, and I had a little gift opening party and then went to dinner.  My brother went on home while my mom and I went to Target so I could look for cheap school supplies and other Crayola type things for the kids at the preschool.  I then went home and watched Thundercats.  And that my friends is how a 32 year old celebrates their birthday on a Friday night…or at least how this one does it. 

Since I last wrote, summer school started and ended.  I’ve never taken classes in the summer and I never want to again.  It blows.  Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxation and freedom.  It was never intended to be a time of research methods and child development.  But it’s done now and I got a two week break before starting up again for fall.  I did get some good news yesterday regarding my practicum.  The university is allowing the preschool where I work to serve as my practicum site so I now don’t have to be placed in a school somewhere in the district which means no scheduling hassels, worrying I won’t get my hours, and I get paid.  Getting them to accept it has been a little bit of a problem so I was ecstatic they finally agreed.

During those two weeks I had off, I went on a little road trip with a friend of mine from Utah.  She flew down here to Arkansas and we decided to drive to Mississippi to the Gulf Shores.  We didn’t really plan this very well so when we got there it wasn’t at all what we thought it was going to be.  Nevermind that we really weren’t in the right place which we didn’t discover until a few days later.  Instead we went on to Gulf Shores, Alabama which is a tourist spot.  If you have kids this is a great place for you.  I don’t have kids and neither does she so we went on to Pensacoloa, Florida. 

 This was perfect!  We got there late afternoon and drove right to a beach and just layed there.  I loved it.  In the morning we got up to see the sun rise which was kind of nice I guess and I was planning on another day of laying at the beach.  We didn’t do that though.  Instead we went to the national park and walked around on some trails.  We decided to go ahead and make our way back to Mississippi after we got some information on where we were supposed to go.  The second time around was a little better.  We had dinner at a place called The Shed which we had both seen hightlighted on different food shows.  It’s a BBQ/Blues joint and if you are ever in Ocean Springs, MS you need to eat there.  Definitely two thumbs up.  It looks like a crappy hole in the wall place but it’s SO GOOD.

   Anyway, here are some pics from the trip:

    

Set The DVR

The Biggest Loser premiers tomorrow and ordinarily I wouldn’t really pay that much attention.  I tend to start watching that show a few weeks before the finale so I can see the changes instantly.  And for some reason I really like watching it while eating a big bowl of ice cream.  Go figure.

Anyway, this year one of the contestants is a man from my home town that I actually know.  Matter of fact, I used to be good friends with his daughters and a bunch of us used to hang out at their house every weekend.  While friendships have fallen by the wayside, I’ve always liked Rick and wish him the best in his efforts on the show.  I now have yet another show added to my DVR and hope you will tune in as well.  Go Rick!

http://www.nbc.com/the-biggest-loser/video/contestant-profile-rick/1247748

It’s All in the Numbers

The trip is over and it comes down to this:

18  Days

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4 Hotels

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9 Nights in Hotels

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10 different beds I slept in

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8 Planes

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39 Hours Driving

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25 Hours Walking Around Disneyland

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7  Times I Crossed Time Zones

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9 States I Was In (not counting the repeats)

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15 Counting the repeats

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3 Number of Car Rentals

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9 Travel Companions (at various times)

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4 Friends I hadn’t seen in two years or more

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1 College Graduation

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1 Triathlon

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1 incredibly packed (with brother’s belongings from college) Nissan Sentra for the 2 day cross country drive

leg room

x

3 gerbils that came along

=

Probably the best family vacation we’ve ever had.

Meet Lulu

Isn’t she just the cutest?  I was on my way to Wal-Mart when I saw her trying to cross the road.  Naturally I pulled over and she became Lulu, my pet turtle.  It’s not unusual to see these little guys walking in the streets, so I’m sure she won’t be my only one this summer.  Almost as sure as I am that she will escape and be well on her way to the Mexican border by morning.  Or at least to the entry of the neighborhood.  Assuming of course a dog doesn’t get to her first.

I haven’t even had her for 12 hours and I’m already turning into some crazy turtle lady.  What would she prefer to eat? (Good grief.  She’s a turtle.)  Will she know there’s water in the bowl? (Pretty sure a turtle can find water.)  She seems to like to burrow into my shirt.  She won’t suffocate herself will she?  See, what I mean – crazy turtle lady.  And the list goes on and on.  Someone needs to start making some local friends stat!

I even went to Home Depot to get some chicken wire so I could fence her in the backyard.  When I asked the guy working there where the chicken wire was he looked at me and said, “What do you mean by chicken wire?”  Well….I mean chicken wire.  Not sure how much more clear I can be on that.

My mom asked me how I know Lulu is female and I was telling her what I had read on google.  So basically it comes down to the males being more colorful and attractive.  I guess there are a lot of species where the male is more attractive than the females.  Which I suppose makes sense if the female is choosing her mate.  I remember hearing of some species of bird where the male has to do some sort of mating dance for the female.  If she likes what she sees, then it’s on.

Sometimes I think of questions I should ask a guy on the first date and always mean to write them down.  Usually I’m thinking about them because a friend is talking to me about a bad relationship they’ve had (or are in) and I start thinking about the things I should find out beforehand.  Like, “what’s your credit score?”  “how much debt do you have and what’s it for?” “toilet paper over or under?”  “Crest or Colgate?”  “Mayo or Miracle Whip?”  You know, hard hitting questions like that.  Well now I think maybe I should take some pointers from the birds and have the guy do a little dance on our first date.   Can you imagine asking someone to do that?  Or being asked?  Hilarious.  Maybe I should do a blog entry on how we should mimic the different behaviors of species in our own relationships.  Hmm…..

Anyway, here’s one more of Lulu for the road just because she’s so darn cute.  And yes, I do realize I would never be able to tell her a part if she were next to another box turtle:

My Blogroll

If you’re around or in a group long enough you start to see trends or patterns emerge.  They can be done consciously, like following trends in fashion.  Sometimes nature plays a part.  Put a bunch of girls living together and in a few months our cycle will all be synchronized.  We can come together because of our interests or circumstances, and sometimes by pure chance.

If you’re reading this more than likely you’re on my blogroll.  And I’m not the first to notice that many of you are on each others blogrolls as well.  When I first started blogging many of you were relatively new to the blogging world like me.  Most of us are more or less within the same age range and somehow we all came together.  Maybe wordpress is our Island of Misfit Toys.

But I’ve noticed some other trends among our little group.  It seems like when one is in a funk it won’t be long before a few of us are.  And this past year a handful of people on my blogroll went MIA around the same time.  A few of you are coming back, thankfully.  And this past week I noticed another trend.  I know that it’s a new year and a great time for reflection in our lives but it seems like a number of you have written about writing with more purpose and intent, giving more meaning in your entries.  And not just stated you would like to do it but are already starting to do so, and I love it.

I love that I get to peak inside and get a glimpse of your lives.  I love that you’re all funny and creative, willing to write honestly and put yourselves out there.  I’m glad I get to be a small part of this little group, no matter how it happened.

I Should Stick to Saying NO

I’m going on a date this week because I didn’t say no and now I’m stuck.  Yesterday I met this guy who goes to my church.  Let me recap or better, what I should say is that before yesterday I didn’t know this guy existed on the planet.  We had a little of the get to know you small talk right before church started and he’s a nice guy.  As I’m leaving the building when church is over I happen to pass him in the hallway and he asks me what kinds of activities I like to do.  I’m completely taken off guard and am scrambling to come up with something other than the standard (and completely non helpful) “hang out with my friends”.  He tells me to think about it and he’ll give me a call later, he had to go to a meeting.  I barely walk in my door when he calls to see what I’ve come up with.  The only thing I could think of  is that I’ve gotten into hiking and landscape photography this past year but in my mind I don’t think this is going to be helpful to him because it’s about 115 degrees out and there’s no way I’m going hiking in that.  Unbeknownst to me, he’s an avid hiker and knows all these great spots some of which are good for night hiking.  At that moment I think night hiking could be fun and it would give me a chance to see a little bit of Arizona before I leave.  So it’s decided that we’re going on Tuesday at 5:30.  We end up chatting on the phone for another 15 min or so because he’s asking me more get to know you type questions.  I don’t mind talking on the phone.  As a matter of fact, if you’re family or a good friend I really enjoy it.  But I’ve only known of this guy’s existence for about 3 hours plus this is all good stuff to talk about when we’re actually together.

A couple of hours later I get a text message from him telling me about some people getting together to play games and hang out that night.  As I’m reading the message guess who calls?  He was just making sure I got the text because he wasn’t sure if I did texting or not.  I tell him I got it but I’m not going because I was packing.  Sure I was packing a little but the reality was that I just didn’t want to go.  We end of talking on the phone for about 10 min.  About 10 min after I hang up he calls again.  Oh for heaven’s sake.  Turns out he can’t go on Tuesday but could we change it to Wednesday?  Fine.  We’re on the phone for about another 20 min as he’s asking me questions about the type of landscapes I like to photograph.  Dude, I’m not professional.  I just like to mess around with it so I could care less what exactly the landscape looks like.  Finally we hang up.

Five minutes later my phone rings again.  JUDAS PRIEST  MAN!!!!!!  WHAT????  What more could you possibly need to say now???  This time he was asking if I had some of my pictures and maybe he could get an idea from my photos as to which spots would be good to shoot.  Again as my inner thoughts are flying through my brain I just keep thinking that it truly doesn’t matter where we go.  I’ve never been anywhere here in the state and the best thing about nature is that the same spot could look totally different from one day to the next.  Before I really knew what happened I had agreed that he could come over and look at my photos.  So 15 min later he was on my couch skimming through the photos on my laptop.  And the real kicker – he stayed for 2 1/2 hours.

Around 4:30 Sunday afternoon I thought some night hiking and the chance to take some landscape photos sounded like fun and was sort of looking forward to it.  Six hours later I’m sick of this guy and don’t want to go anywhere with him.  I’ve been trying to think of an excuse to use to get out of going.  One that actually sounds plausible and totally out of my control.  But I can’t think of anything.  And to be honest I sort of feel like a real jerk trying to get out of it.  More than a jerk, I feel like a complete tool.  He really is a nice guy and based on our brief conversations I get the drift that he has a lot of friends and likes going out and doing different things.  I truly think he’s trying to help make the most of my last week here but it was overkill.

However, it looks like I’ll most likely be going on this little excursion and you never know, it could be a lot of fun.  Or I could fall off a cliff and die.  Either way, the moral I’m taking from this story is to always first say no.  It’s much easier to change your mind from a no to a yes than the other way around.

Random Tidbits

Here’s another post with the random updates from my life over the past week or so.  I finalized my decision to move back home to Arkansas and have been trying to get everything organized for that move.  If I didn’t own furniture life would be a lot simpler for me right now.  But I do so I’m trying to coordinate with a moving company and people that can help me load it up.  I’m a little nervous about finding help but I keep trying to tell myself not to worry about it until the day before I move because there isn’t much I can do before then.  And it’s not like I’ll be stranded here in Mesa for the rest of my life because I couldn’t load the moving truck.  Somehow it will all work out.

I spoke in church again today.  I say again as though I speak every Sunday – which I don’t.  Matter of fact the last time I did was a year ago but this past year has passed so quickly it feels like I just did it.  Since I live in another state then I did last year, I decided to repeat the same talk to the folks here.  No point in coming up with something new when the old one worked just fine.  I think I’m funnier in person telling stories than I am writing them here.  For those of you who don’t think I’m funny or that this blog is entertaining, to you I stick out my tongue and say THPPPP  and for those of you who already think I’m funny I say “It’s true.  Hard to believe but I’m better live.”  I got a handful of laughs and that’s really all I could ask for.

Last night I jammed my finger trying to kill a cricket in a sports injury.  Ok fine, I was trying to kill a cricket that found it’s way into my room.  I’m not exactly sure how it happened but the next thing I knew my finger bent back and now it’s swollen and bruised.  Stupid cricket.  And to add insult to injury, the cricket made it’s way behind my dresser where I couldn’t get at it.  Cricket = 1  Nandango = 0.  This morning I woke up to find the cricket still in my room near my bed, as though it were taunting me.  With my finger still painfully sore I decided that he had messed with the wrong human and that this was war.  Several shoe throws later he was dead.  Take that cricket.

I had been wanting to go out and take some nature shots but wasn’t exactly sure where I could go and didn’t want to spend the gas money driving all around the state either.  A friend suggest a local nature reserve by her house that she had passed numerous times but had never stopped to look around.  It wasn’t all that fascinating but was surprisingly large for being in a semi-residential area.  I did manage to get some shots and it was nice to get out of my apartment.  Afterward she wanted to go see a movie.  This is fine because I like movies.  I want to interject here and ask did you know that it’s $10 to see a movie??  And I’ll assume that in larger cities it’s more but holy cripes!  I generally stick to the dollar theaters or redbox.  What is all that money going toward anyway?  It’s not like the movies all that much better than they used to be.  The food (which I never buy) I assume is still crappy.  I don’t think the seats are that much more comfortable and the whole place is dark so it’s not like I’m checking out the decor.  And I really hate the commercials they play before the previews.  What happened to Front Row Joe?  They used to have a cartoon with him in it complete with a song and everything.

Anyway, she suggests a movie and in my mind I’m thinking please don’t say you want to see My Sister’s Keeper.  Please don’t want to see My Sister’s Keeper.  That of course is the movie she wants to see.  Great.  It’s not like I thought it was going to be the worst movie on the planet but I’m sure there are other movies playing that I would rather spend my $10 on.  And besides, I don’t like Cameron Diaz.  I knew this was going to be a sad movie and sure enough the entire theater was like one giant snot fest.  You could hear people sniffling through the whole thing and when it was over just about every woman in the place had a kleenex.  I can only imagine what people outside the door where thinking when they saw everyone come out with red, blotchy, puffy faces.  I tuned out the last 20 min or so of the movie and stared at the chair in front of me in hopes I could pull it together before we walked out.  And I really felt bad for the few guys that were dragged there by their girlfriends.  I concluded that they either did something incredibly wrong and this was their punishment or they were planning on doing something incredibly wrong and were storing up on the brownie points.

Well that’s basically been my last couple of weeks in a nutshell.  Mixed with reading books and watching my own DVDs over and over.  Just think, two weeks from today I’ll be writing my entries from home in Arkansas.  Crazy all the things that can happen in a year.

Pizza and Organ Music, Who Knew?

Tonight I went with a group of people to dinner to a local place called Organ Stop Pizza.  Being new in town, I’d never heard of it much less been inside so I really didn’t know what to expect.  I figured it would be like any other pizza establishment but man was I in for a surprise.  I felt like I had stepped into a restaurant smack in the middle of Branson.  You know, the cheap thrill Vegas for kids and old people.  The basic set up is that this place is home to the largest Wurlitzer organ in the world which someone plays all night while you’re eating.

organ

This is the picture of the actual organ itself minus all the pipes.  The pipes are located along the entire wall behind glass windows and a few are hanging almost from the ceiling.  The organist, who is beyond talented, takes requests people write down on cards but of course has their own set of songs or progam that they follow.  Most everything played seemed to be either a showtune or something from a Disney movie which keeps the interest of both the old and young.  It also helps, among the kids anyway, that depending on the song played puppets will come out and dance, different lights will blink, or things come down from the ceiling (for example while our organist played the Mickey Mouse song a huge Mickey Mouse banner came down).

It was a little corny but  it was also entertaining and something totally unexpected. And not in a bad way.  And I’m not going to lie, the organist had some mad mad skills!  So while I wouldn’t want to eat there everyday or even every week or even if I never eat there again, I did have a good time hanging out and meeting new people.  And I can say that I’ve seen the largest Wurlitzer organ in the world.  Yep, that’s right, that’s getting checked off my list.  Plus they sell some DVDs and CDs so you can take home the magic to enjoy in your own living room.  Huh, I do know of some birthdays coming up…bwahaha.

Little Surprises

I’ve been wanting to write something for a while now but I’ve been in a rut…again.  I’m STILL unemployed which on one hand is kind of nice because I can do whatever during the day but sucks obviously, because I have no money.  So while my day consists of watching TV, reading, and not much else I’ve tried to see what I can make of that for a post.  So here are my little surprises.  Mostly good with a couple that are deserving of an annoyed sigh and eye roll.

I mention that I watch a lot of TV.  Most of it I actually do online which I’ll get to in a second.  Because I’m trying to save a little money where I can, I don’t have cable.  Which means I get about 4 channels.  The other night I accidentally hit the reset button on my remote and bingo, I magically had 7 new channels.  More than double what I had – WHOO HOO!!  That was a nice little surprise.  Especially when I realized one of the channels was ABC and two others play reruns of Friends, The Simpsons, and King of the Hill so score!  Three of them are Spanish stations with plenty of telenovelas and Sabado Gigante.  This would be an eye roll surprise.

Bless the networks or whoever decided that streaming shows online would be a good idea.  And not just current shows either.  I’ve spent the past week watching old episodes of Judging Amy and Family Ties.  I noticed 21 Jumpstreet is streaming and may have to check that out next.

Wednesday night I’m going to a friend’s wedding reception.  I know there have been posts debating the whole registry idea and while I’m not going to get into it I will say I’m against the registry.  I looked at the stuff they selected and thought oh please.  No one is going to buy you the $800 TV or the Ipod Nano you selected.  But the only things I can really afford on their list are the washclothes and soap dispenser.  I’d rather not get them either.  So I fell back on my favorite (and pretty much only) gift I give which is the gift card.  I thought it would be better to put the gift card in an actual wedding card rather than slipping it to them in line.  Who knew wedding cards are almost as expensive as the gifts themselves??  And they all have these lame, sappy poems in them.  Can’t one just say Happy Wedding and be done with it?  Grrr.  While I resisted going home and pulling out my crayons and making them a card, I did settle by buying the plainest (and let’s face it the ugliest) card I found.

Right now I’m reading Lincoln by Gore Vidal.  Honestly I wasn’t sure I was really going to like this book but the more I read the more I like it.  I can’t believe how ignorant I am when it comes to the Civil War and this presidency.  I mean, hello, I am an American for crying out loud.  You would think I would know more about my nation’s history.  So this has definitely been a good surprise.  The reading and liking part, not my ignorance.

Another good surprise?  Re-discovering naps.  I’ve always been one to say “I wish I could just take a nap” but would never actually do it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep at night and then I wouldn’t be able to get up the next day, blah blah and the cycle would go on and on.  Well, now it doesn’t matter since I don’t have to get up if I don’t want to.  I’ve been taking 1-2 hour naps a few times a week and am loving it.

And the biggest suprise of the past couple of weeks?  My sister called, invited and payed for me to come out for a visit this Memorial weekend.  Yeah!  A good surprise and definitely one to look forward to.

Arizona Sun

You’re not scarring me!  Uh huh.  Go ahead with your triple digit temperatures in April.  Go ahead knowing I had previously decided not to turn on my AC until I get a job so the bill isn’t as high.  Go ahead, I can subsist on ice cream and otter pops.  Go ahead even though I can’t tell a difference between being outside or inside my own apartment.  Go ahead even though my fan has maintained a consistent 90 degrees in my living room for the past four days with promise to stay there for the next week.  Go ahead.  I’m not complaining.  That being said, if you want to go hide behind a cloud I won’t complain about that either.

I’ve had some visitors over the past couple of weeks.  Many of you have probably read over at Pammy Girl that she was here for a little R&R.  And can you believe it, it rained that weekend.  The first rain I’ve seen here and it happened when I had company.  Go figure.  But I loved having her here even though we mostly sad around playing cards.

Then this past weekend a friend flew down from Utah.  The weather was PERFECT!  About 75 degrees with a nice cool breeze and we took advantage by being out as much as possible.  We found a bunch of hiking trails not too far from my place and spent much of the time exploring.  Honestly the hike was kind of ugly but whatever, it got us outside doing something.  I was pretty excited to discover them, thinking I would go out there on my own during the week to give me something to do.  That was of course before the temps sky rocketed.  Call me crazy but hiking out in the open desert in 100 degree weather doesn’t sound  like tons of fun.  But hanging out with my friend for a few days was.

I had an interview today and as soon as I walked in I could tell it wasn’t something I really wanted to do nor was I really qualified.  If the guy calls me back offering the job I’ll know their organization is desperate.  That’s the only way that call is happening.  Regardless, it was good to have an interview and get a little practice in.

As for now I’m going to go raid the fridge for the last of my otter pops.