Yard Work

Last year I took this photo showing the two massive trees in our front yard (very bottom pic).  Yesterday some work was done and this is the result. 

Now I like trees just as much as the next person but these were out of control.  After laying sod twice in two years, the grass is still dead.  The window on the far right looks into my bedroom and every time we got a thunderstorm or are under tornado watch, those branches would sway like crazy and I just knew if they break and fall in the wrong direction I’m dead.  You may think I’m overreacting (and I probably am but I’m OK with that) but in fact, both trees had lost large branches that cracked during thunderstorms and thankfully fell away from the house.  So while that’s been going on in the front, I’ve been doing some cleanup in the back.

Last year I put together a makeshift garden on a whim. You may remember these:

I didn’t really know what I was doing (as clearly demonstrated by my digging a random hole and putting a plant in it) and though it was time consuming and went better than I thought, I really didn’t do it the right way.  This year I still don’t know what I’m doing but have put more thought and effort into the prep work and even though I’ve still got a long way to go this is so far the result.

My dad helped me till the ground and my mom helped me lay all the steel edging.  Then it took 5 bags, nearly 6 hours, and what feels like 2 broken hands to clear out the debris from the bed.

Because this is what part of it looked like:

I THINK I’m ready to buy the plants and actually plant them which is by far the best part.  All the plants you see are left over from last year which is kind of nice, especially a few that I had no idea would come back…surprise!

Alrighty Then

I got a message from someone (ahem DJD) to update this little diddy of a blog and I told him I would by the weekend because I thought for sure I could think up enough fodder from the past two months to write about.  Well…I’m not so sure.  Now that it is officially fall (it is officially fall right?) there is a holiday smell in the air and a little bounce in my step.  Spring/Summer are my favorite seasons but let’s face it, this past year felt like living in a crematorium so I welcome the lower temps and humidity.  Not just welcome them, I have a spare bed and bath reserved and am prepared to be at their beck and call if they promise to stick around for a while.

We have now started the months of uppers – October, November, December – when everyone starts being nice and a little more charitable which will be followed by the months of downers – January and February – when everyone is annoyed and irritable.  Ok maybe that’s just me.  Regardless we’re in an upper and I’m actually excited it’s October.  Colors will start becoming vibrant and of course Halloween is merely a few weeks away.

I won’t even attempt to write an entry on Halloween because compared to some of you who are Halloween enthusiasts, my entry would be pathetic and sad.  And admittedly I haven’t always been so jazzed about it.   I think working at a preschool has definitely helped.  There are just so many cute crafts and songs and the kids are uber pumped about dressing up.  Yesterday we went on a field trip to a pumpkin patch and I was probably more excited than they were.

Our school Halloween party is a week from tomorrow and I’m still trying to put together my costume.  Last year I went as a Ninja Turtle and this year I want to go as a Ghostbuster.  I’m borrowing a pack back vacuum to serve as my proton pack but am having a hard time locating a jumpsuit to wear.  Today a friend said he would mail me one of his old flight suits from when he was in the Marine Corps which would be perfect but I’m a little nervous it won’t get here in time.  Fingers crossed.

This year I’m even planning on helping to decorate the outside of the house and have already bought a few things to get the ball rolling.  Who knows, with this festive attitude I may even go to a haunted house.  Yeah right.  I had a traumatic experience (oh it was traumatic alright don’t you worry, that is if you’re a wimpy 10 year old girl) when I was in the 6th grade and have never gotten over it.  I tried going to one in the 9th grade but it didn’t work out to well and I break into a sweat and start having heart palpitations just thinking about it.

There won’t be any watching of scary movies either as I will most likely stick to the lame TV crap available on ABC Family this holiday season.  Baby steps, baby steps.  I “watched” Quarantine a few months ago but that viewing was done at high noon through my fingers with the remote firmly in hand ready to change the channel with the click of a button.  I also tried to watch The Strangers but only made it about 2/3rds of the way through.  Had to read the ending on IMDB.  A wimp I am.

On to something happier about the fall season, I made caramel apples today and am going to get apples tomorrow to make applesauce.  And while I’m mentioning food, I made some homemade chicken noodle soup last weekend that was to die for.  Another great thing about fall, hearty soups and a kitchen that smells heavenly.  Well there you have it.  Stay tuned this next week for pics of (cross your fingers) my ghostbuster costume.

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?

Arkansas Spring = Tornadoes

So if you pay attention to the national weather you know we’ve been getting severe storms down here in the south.  About a week ago we got some crazy, intense wind and this is what it did to our fence

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This is just what the wind did.  The fence posts have been snapped and since I took this picture that other panel has fallen.  Monday I was sitting in front of the computer minding my own business trying to type a final paper for class, when my brother came in letting me know the tornado sirens were going off.  I’d heard the siren but was so concentrated on my paper I kept thinking it was an ambulance or a cop car.  The sirens ended up sounding not once, not twice, not three times, but FIVE times in a 3 – 3 1/2 hour span because that’s how many tornadoes/possible formulating tornadoes there were.   And all of them followed the same path through the state.

I spent the next three hours watching stuff like this on the TV

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I happen to live in Conway located in the middle of the screen.  As you can see one tornado skirted around the north part of the town.  At the same time that was happening, that tornado forming to the south ended up making it’s way up going between Conway and Mayflower and it was this tornado that demolished the town of Vilonia just to the east of Conway.  To give a little perspective on distance, Vilonia is within 10 miles or so from my house.

I took video on my phone with the intent of posting it on here but it won’t upload (go figure).  But it was video so you could hear the sirens sounding and the announcement telling everyone to go inside.  What you can’t really tell from the video is how greenish yellow the sky was and how eerily calm and silent everything was.

The other video I took was showing the street right in front of my house and how flooded it became in a matter of minutes.  This was due to the tornado passing over us and on its way to Vilonia.  I did manage to snap a couple of pics though

I’ve seen plenty of photos showing the aftermath in Vilonia and further south in the Hot Springs area that was also hit extensively by tornadoes and all I can say is we were so fortunate at my house to not experience more damage than a fallen fence.  I know a handful of people that got hit pretty hard and lost extensive amounts of their home and property.  Here are some shots that I got from friends or from the Arkansas Severe Weather page:

Last night we had severe thunderstorms and the sirens went off again but as far as I know, there wasn’t anymore extreme damage done.  I thought we had seen the last of it last night but as I left work an hour ago this is what I saw

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To the east it looks like a perfectly nice and almost sunny day.  To the west it’s dark and creepy.  I ended up driving home in a torrential downpour but it has since stopped raining.  It’s overcast and the wind is blowing really hard but maybe this really is the last of it.  I hope so.

My Garden

The other day I decided I wanted to try my hand at gardening.  We have an area in the backyard where the grass has stopped growing so I converted it into my little makeshift garden.  I have no expectations for it and I probably just spent $40-50 to dig in the dirt but that’s just the way it goes.

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I realize this doesn’t look much different but even if you can’t tell I did anything, my shoulders sure can.  No tiller, just a hoe.  I don’t recommend it unless you have built up stress and frustration in your life.  In that case, have at it.

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There’s not much there but in my mind it looks like this:

It Really Came

Generally I don’t put much stock into what the weather people say.  I can usually flip a coin and make a guess my self with better results but yesterday they actually came through.  No doubt you’ve all heard of the winter blast we got down here in the south and while I know many of you got much more snow than we did, it was record breaking for us.

Some parts of the state got over 2 feet and were 20 below zero.  It snowed for a solid 8 hours straight and made it the worst road conditions I’ve ever driven in and I’ve lived in both Utah and Idaho, so I’ve had my share of winter driving.  See what makes it so bad here isn’t really the snow.  It’s the fact we have humidity.  Humidity = ice.  Lots of ice.  Ever want to know what it would be like to drive on a ice skating rink come on down and give it a whirl.

I took a video with my phone early this morning to give a little live footage but it wouldn’t upload to anything.  Sure glad I spent all that money on a phone that won’t do what I want it to.  Let’s be honest, it’s probably user error.  But I do know how to use my camera so here are a few shots.  I didn’t want to drive anywhere so I was limited to my house.

I took pics of the snow last week and you can view them here if you want.

It’s an Update

Hey remember when I used to do updates all the time?  No?  Well I did.  I haven’t logged on to wordpress for a few weeks so I thought if one was appropriate I guess it would be now.

Thanksgiving was nice.  My oldest sister and her family came down for a few days and it was nice to see them.  I even went shopping on Black Friday.  This is HUGE for me because I hate shopping on regular Fridays (and every other day for that matter) so to go on the busiest shopping day of the year is a little mind blowing.  No I didn’t get up early or camp out at a store.  Matter of fact, I don’t think we even went until 10:30 the next morning.  At most places “early bird” sales were still going on and there was still plenty of stuff still in stock so ha ha all of you who got up and stood in line in the cold all night.

School, school, school.  What can I say except I can’t wait for you to be over this semester.  Only two weeks to go and I hope the time flies.  Thanksgiving really messed me up motivation wise and for that I almost wish we hadn’t had a week off.  Trying to get back into this week has sucked.  Tonight I turned in an assignment not due until Saturday.  Which would be awesome except I submitted it to the wrong place and couldn’t take it back.  I emailed my professor and hope she’s cool and fixes it for me.  It’s an easy fix for her but she may want to teach me some lesson or something.  Hope not.  I’m really not interested in learning anymore lessons of any kind, especially a life one and it could really screw up my grade which would be a shame because for the first time ever, I’m actually doing really well in school.

And the preschool, what can I say about that?  Except ’tis the season…for coughing in my face and wiping snotty noses on my sweatshirts.  If I don’t end up sick it’ll be a Christmas miracle for sure.

I got my hair done last week.  I had the girl cut almost 4 inches off, shorten up the layers, thicken the bang area, and do an overall darken.  It feels so much better and it’s still kind of long which is good b/c I prefer my hair pulled back most of the time.

And finally, what’s with everyone searching the word gumby?  And why does that bring them to my blog?  I checked my stats for the first time in forever and 61 people alone used that to find my blog today.  Is this the seasonal-comeback-retro-fad toy this year?  I’m so out of the loop.

3 Hours of My Life

Let me tell you about my afternoon today.  It wasn’t the craziest or most hectic afternoon I’ve ever had.  There weren’t any real emergencies or life or death problems.  But it was one of THOSE afternoons.  I was supposed to get off work today at 2:00.  Around 11:00 or so the lady I work for asked if I would be willing to stay a little bit late so she could take care of some family stuff.  Normally I totally wouldn’t care but I have class on Wednesday nights and I was nervous at what staying a little bit later actually meant.

She assured me absolutely no later than 3:00 and there was a good chance she would in fact be back by 2:oo.  I end up staying and hear from her husband that apparently some other family problem came up and he wasn’t sure when she was going to make it back.  Enter a little nervousness on my part here.

I’m watching the clock like a crazy person, imagining the worst possible scenario possible when she shows up a little after 2:30.  Phew.  I have three hours to get done what I need to and get to class.  Plenty of time.

I get home and immediately go to the computer to check email and since it’s a class night, I needed to log onto my student account and pull some information from my class.  Naturally I discover our internet connection is down.  I call my mom to see if it was working when she was home a couple of hours earlier on her lunch break.  It was.  I’ve now discovered it’s only recently gone down and of course I missed my apparent window of opportunity to log on.

While I’m on the phone with her, I see a furry rodent scurry into view.  Oh crap.  I go into my brother’s room and sure enough, his three gerbils have escaped by gnawing a giant hole through some tape and plastic.  Lovely.  And it’s no surprise they would choose their jail break now because my brother is out of town and won’t be back until the weekend.  Smart little devils.

It takes me over an hour to finally catch Scribbles.  I’m now sweaty and really dirty.  Want to discover how dirty your house really is?  Let loose some gerbils and try to track them down.  It’s now about 3:45.  Still have plenty of time to get ready and eat before I have to be to class.

Right about at this point my mom, who came home when she heard about the escapees, discovered gerbil #2 – Scruffalufagus.  I’m going on record to say that my mom is completely afraid of gerbils and was basically no help in catching them.  Regardless, she found him and it took me another half hour to finally catch him.

I know have an hour and fifteen min. to shower, eat, and get to campus.  Shower is now done and while I’m getting ready I realize that the internet is still out and unless I call about it, there’s a good chance it won’t come back up until sometime tomorrow afternoon when I finally get a free moment to call.

So then I’m on the phone with the internet people and it’s taking longer than usual to get the problem resolved.  As I’m on hold I make a unpleasant discovery.  I completely bypassed shaving my right let.  Hello, my entire right leg.  Now I’ve missed patches before and once a partial back of the leg but the whole thing??  BLARG!!  The realization is short lived because the lady comes back on and I begin plugging and unplugging cords and try to fumble my way through computer lingo but finally the internet was up and running.

The time is 5:15 and I have 15 min. to finish getting ready, eat, and get to campus.  Needless to say I looked worse than usual and forgot about eating.  Three hours of my life down followed by another three hours sitting in a classroom discussing the analysis and theories of the classroom – boo – and did it all on an empty stomach – double boo!!

I spent the last hour or so looking for Leroy – gerbil #3 – but to no avail.  I hope tomorrow he wonders out into the open because I don’t know if I’ll find him if he doesn’t.  It’s now after midnight and I’m heading to bed so I can get up in a few and start it all over again.

*Update: I kept looking until 12:30 this morning.  Finally I got in bed and just as I was about to fall asleep I heard him.  So I spent ANOTHER hour – yes, it’s now 1:30 in the morning  – and finally catch him.  All gerbils are present and accounted for – the gerbil drama is officially over.

Where Football is King

If I’ve learned anything from living in the south, it’s you don’t kid when it comes to football.  Want to know where people are on a Friday night between September and November?  Check the high school football field (they even made an entire TV show about a southern high school football team for crying out loud).  When I was in high school I think the team was made up of about 400 guys out of oh, I don’t know 401.  I think the requirements to be on the team were (1) that you had to be male and (2) at least partially breathing.

For a while the high school stadium was bigger and better than the university’s and they seemed to always be expanding and adding on.  Plus the football team got new uniforms every year and were taken out for steak dinners at the end of season regardless of their record for the year.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Bitter, party of one?”  And you know what?  I am bitter.  We girls on the track team were wearing outfits circa 1982 and had about 15 min to run in, grab some dinner from McDonalds and then head back on the short bus to eat it.  And when I graduated girls track had been conference champions every year since the early 80s and had taken state more times than not.  The football team?  Not even close.

A week from today I’ll be starting grad school and to be honest, if I think about it I get nervous.  So I prefer not to.  A little denial never hurt anyone right?  But I have had to go the rounds with the financial aid office because it became apparent communication wasn’t their strong suit.  Going over fees I came across this:  Mandatory Registration Fees – $405.50.  Er, I’m sorry how much was that?  For a second I thought I read over four hundred dollars in fees.  Oh wait, I did??  So I continue reading to see what these mandatory fees include.  Stuff like campus radio (uh, ok), student health center, student center, blah blah blah.  None of these are more than $15 so where is my money going?  And then I read it:

“For this fiscal year, certain of the mandatory fees have an

administrative charge assessed on them.  This administrative

charge will be used this fiscal year to support UCA’s transition

to NCAA Division 1.”

Translation:  You have to pay $400 more dollars so UCA football can compete in a higher division.

WHAT???  AGHHH!!!!! Are you KIDDING me right now?  (Nope, remember they don’t kid about football)  And the real kicker is that they used to have this money.  But a few years ago they hired a new president who ended up embezzling hundreds of thousands of the university’s money and despite that, they still gave him a 6 figure pay out because he stepped down before his contract was up.  Smooth. Real smooth.

So it looks like things haven’t changed much from where they were 13 years ago.  Football apparently still rules, only now I’m out an additional $405.50 because of it.


Alice Cooper Lied

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

-Alice Cooper

August 30th will be my first day back to school in almost 10 years.  Ten years people – an entire decade!  Since I’ve only had three of them it’s like saying “a third of my life ago, I was in school.”  Egads.

I’ve said on here before that if you’re ever in a natural disaster or experiencing a legitimate crisis, you want me there.  I’m cool, calm, and collected in these situations.  But tell me when I’m in line at McDonald’s the shake machine is broken and I have a melt down.

Likewise, my reaction to important decisions that will a affect my life vs. those that in reality are inconsequential are seemingly backward.  For example, every so often I get the notion to change my hairstyle (trust me, this definitely constitutes as an important decision that affects my life.  Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.)  Not a little trim or slight highlights but full on, whack off a foot or more, I can no longer pull my hair back in a ponytail because it’s so short haircut.  And from the time this notion first occurs, to the time I act on it,  is almost always within 24 hours.  No thinking, no waiting, no second guessing.  Ask me which restaurant I want to eat at for dinner and you’ll be eating a pre-dinner to tide you over until I come up with a place.  You know come to think of it, maybe I just have issues with food.  Hmmm.

I’ve been hanging out in Arkansas without a plan and not knowing what it was that I was wanting to do about it.  Well, I knew what I wanted to – nothing.  But that wasn’t exactly conducive to my predicament so one day I thought, “Fine.  I’ll go to grad school.”  The next day I went over to the local university and walked in the door and said, “I have a BSW, I guess I want to teach elementary, what program do you have that will get me doing that the fastest and cheapest way.”  Ok, so that wasn’t exactly what I said but more or less.

And that was the start of the last couple of month’s whirlwind of grad school run-around that I’ve been playing.  No real thought went into the decision.  No research examining different programs and no arming myself with information before going into battle.  Just walked in and began to acquire information on what I guess the university sees as a need to know basis.  Which is a tad ironic since I need to know everything now and not one person seems to have ALL the information needed.  But that’s a whole other frustrating post.  But regardless, I registered for fall in a program I knew nothing about a couple weeks prior.

I discovered that as part of my admissions I must take the GRE.  Technically, according to the program, I have until the end of my first semester to submit test scores.  In the meantime, I’m considered a conditional student.  Personally I didn’t care what my status as a student was until I  learned I cannot qualify for financial aid as a conditional student.  No financial aid means no school and no school means I’ve been wasting my time the past couple of months with all this application crap.  Again, a whole other frustrating post.

Bottom line – take the GRE sooner rather than later and begin the paperwork for financial aid.  The hype for the GRE makes it out to be one of the hardest tests you can take and in many circumstances it determines whether you will be admitted into the grad school of your choice.  People shell out a lot of money in prep materials and to take special classes for months to get themselves ready.  And the test itself is $160.

Me?  I signed up for it last week and took it today.  No studying.  No special classes.  No prep materials.  I got online and spent about 20 min on a practice run and called it good.  And you know what?  The test wasn’t that bad.  I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything, well actually I would like to go on record saying I’m a genius.  Of course the GRE test grading computer strongly disagrees with my genius declaration and instead, deems me as average – more or less.  A little less when it comes to math but that’s not any shocking revelation.

But as a whole, the test questions didn’t seem crazy hard and if I had studied or had been enrolled in school for the past decade, I probably could have done a little better.  But I didn’t and haven’t been so I’m happy with the result.  And I guess it doesn’t hurt that the university I’ll be attending views the GRE as a formality to complete and virtually has no interest or concern in my score.  No pressure there.

So there you have it.  My more recent life altering decisions brought about from practically zero thought or foresight.  I really thought Alice Cooper had something but I guess I’ll have to wait another 2-3 years before this song has any validity for me again.