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:

    

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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?

Here Are the Pics

These are just some of the pics that show the highlights of the vacation.  If you want to see the nature pics from Washington and a couple from Idaho go here – come on, you know you want to!

It’s All in the Numbers

The trip is over and it comes down to this:

18  Days

+

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.

Three Days and Counting

…until I leave on vacation!!!  Here’s the official breakdown for the next 2 1/2 weeks (because if I have to remember it all, you at least have to read about it)

– July 21st: Mom and I fly from Little Rock to Salt Lake

– July 22nd: Drive from SLC to Idaho Falls/Rexburg with mom

– July 23rd:  Attend brother’s graduation

– July 24th:  Drive from IF to SLC with mom and possibly brother.  Fly out of SLC to Spokane, WA to hang out with friend (VERY excited about this part!!)

– July 29th: Fly from WA to SLC

– July 30th: Drive from SLC to Burley, ID with mom, sister,  and brother.  Meeting brother’s fiance there.

– July 31st:  Attend sister’s triathlon in Burley.  Drive from Burley to SLC with all of the same people.  Attend family reunion in SLC

– Aug 1st:  Fly from SLC to LA with mom, sister, brother, and brother’s fiance to meet up with other sister and her family and head to Disneyland

– Aug 4th:  Fly from LA to SLC with brother and brother’s fiance.

– Aug 6th/7th:  Drive from Utah to Arkansas with brother

– Aug 8th:  Sequester myself in my room away from human contact

– Aug 9th:  Emerge from room to go back to work at preschool

Will we all get along the whole time and still like each other when it’s over?  Probably not.  There’s too many possible high stress situations for one trip: college graduation, triathlon, a family reunion for pete’s sake, and Disneyland.  Multiplied by all the time we’ll be trapped in a car for long periods of time.  I also predict that I have a dormant illness that will manifest itself the afternoon of July 31st.  Guess the reunion is out for me…darn it.  This trip is one for the books and should be interesting to say the least.  At least there should be good blogging material right?  RIGHT???  Despite my misgivings, I’m actually pretty excited.  Ahh, the naivety of beginnings.

Otherwise Known as the “I Don’t Know Parade”

This year my mom and I did something a little different.  We wanted to keep it low key but still go out and do something to celebrate the holiday, so we decided to go to a nearby small town and check out the local scene.  I figured since I live in Arkansas, right in the middle of the I Love America bible belt, there should be something good going on.  I envisioned local shops selling homemade pies and fudge, artwork depicting our American heritage, and who knows, maybe some cool antique collections of American memorabilia on display.  Wishful thinking is what that was.

We saw that a small town about 40 -45 min. away was going to have a parade and though I’m sort of bah humbug when it comes to parades, I sort of thought it might be fun to check out.  We got there about 40 min. before the parade was to start and there were already people lining up on the street (for the record, we were there that early b/c I couldn’t remember how to get there or how long it was going to take).

The parade started at exactly 10:00 and went as follows:

I was there and I still don’t know what the golf cart was for.

As far as I know, Arkansas isn’t known for its pioneer heritage so I’m not sure why those girls in front are dressed like that

I don’t know what those girls and that lady have to do with the fire department or why she’s in a wife beater

I think that first vehicle used to be a part of a tractor.  I don’t know why old men are driving either one of those things.

Random kids riding their bikes.  Yeah, I don’t get why either.

Nascar represented of course

That’s how we do floats up here in these parts

FFA represent!  I thought there would be more kids on this one.

That’s a bulldog mascot in the truck so, maybe something to do with the high school?

Again, not so sure about this pioneer heritage they’ve got going on here

What the hell??

That’s it.  That was the WHOLE parade.  By 10:12 it was over.  There’s only one street that goes through the town and it took three times as long to get out of there than was the actual length of the parade.  I think my favorite part wasn’t the actual parade itself but watching the local people.

I knew I was in for a treat when not even 10 seconds after the road had been blocked, a beat up old car came and swerved around the road block, cut across the parking lot where we were parked.  The lady driving was missing a couple of teeth, wearing a small tank top over her slightly larger frame, her teenage passenger smoking a cigarette, and with her windows rolled down yelled (with her southern accent adding two extra syllables to the last word), “This is g@#damn bullshit!”  Ahh, America.

*Sorry the pics are small and crappy.  Of course, the same can be said about the parade.

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.