Blue Skies Smiling At Me. Nothing But Blue Skies…

I don’t know what it’s like for the rest of the nation but down here in Arkansas the weather has been HEAVENLY!  A lot of sunshine, low humidity, warm temps…sigh.  Just the other day it was 80 degrees.  And I loved it.  I’m currently in denial about the fact this probably means the summer will be unbearable hot and riddled with insects.  But for now I’m content and happy with the sun.

A few posts back I talked about an assignment I had to do for class that involved creating a glogster.  I’m happy to say that yesterday I finally got around to doing it and it’s now submitted and done.  Looking at it, it’s pathetic it took me as long as it did to put together because I’m pretty sure there are some third graders that could have done a better job in less than half the time.  The information on the page is ridiculously scant but I think that’s the point.  At least I’m hoping it is.  There was no way to possibly put all the relevant information from the chapter on this thing so I scaled back to an extreme degree.  Here’s a link so for those of you who didn’t know what a glogster was, you can get a peek.

Also, some of you from Facebook may have seen that I posted an update about oatmeal.  More specifically, how I don’t like it but am trying to fool my tastebuds into thinking they do.  I think I have finally found success in maple brown sugar.  Is it the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship?  I doubt it, but at least I didn’t dump it down the drain.  That’s gotta count for something.

Speaking of food, there’s a new restaurant here that’s becoming my favorite.  It’s called Pitza 42.  They serve personal pizzas on pita bread or you can get different kinds of salad.  And for every meal purchased they donate a meal to a charity that helps feed hungry children around the world.  AND it’s cheap.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

A look ahead this week shows that Friday is FIELD TRIP DAY!!!!  I love field trip day.  We’re taking the kids to the fire station so that should be pretty fun.  Last year we had some firemen come to the preschool and the kids got to see and try on some of their fire clothes and sit in a fire truck.  The kids had fun but I think this year will be better.

And finally, I’m going to end this post with the Valentine gift I gave my mom and brother.  If this doesn’t say I love you, well, I don’t know what does.

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.

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.

Phew!

Finally, it’s MARCH!!!  My favorite time of year begins in the spring and ends with summer.  Life seems so monotonous and bleak during the winter months especially January and February.  Ever since I was in high school on the track team, I’ve always considered March (which was the start of track season) to be the beginning of spring, even when I lived out in Utah and the ground was still covered in snow and I was wearing a winter coat – it was still spring.

I’ve been incredibly busy and felt overwhelmed the past month with work and school, but especially this past week.  It was one of those times were everything in life converged together simultaneously and all I kept saying to myself was, “If you can just make it through February you’ll be ok…if you can just make it through this weekend you’ll be ok…if you can just make it through this assignment you’ll be ok…if you can just make it through…..”  And I started to realize that I’m guilty of doing this all the time.  If I can just make it…blah blah blah.  What a sad outlook.  I might as well say, “If I can just make it until I finally keel over I’ll get the rest I’m looking for.”

For three weeks I filled in for my boss at work – it was only supposed to be for one.  Her daughter was pregnant with twins and went into labor really early and had some complications.  I’m very happy I could fill in for her so she could go and even more happy that everything turned out ok for mom and babies.  It’s just the timing really sucked.

I would go to work at 7am and get home between 5:30-6:00 and have to be in class or work on papers until I collapsed in bed usually sometime between 11 and midnight, just to get up a few hours later and start over.  I admit I’m one of those people that honestly needs at least 8 hours of sleep so 6 felt grueling and my brain was fried.  The energy required to keep up with preschool kids astounds me sometimes.   And I’ll admit showering started to become a burden and an annoyance because that was time I felt was better spent sleeping.  So consequently there were days I wasn’t so April fresh and shaving practically went right out the window.  So bless the child at the preschool who randomly asked me one day, “Miss Natalie, are you a supermodel or something?”  and with no hesitation on my part and a straight face responded with, “Yes.  Yes I am.”  haha  I have no idea what his idea of a supermodel is but I’ll take it.  He’s learning and will make some girl very happy in about 20 years.

From Friday to Saturday I spent 11 hours in one class and on Sunday spent 14 straight hours working on a paper worth 40%, yes that did read 40%, of my grade for said class.  This didn’t include the other assignments and projects that were due for other classes during this same weekend.  At one point of the weekend I got so mad at the printer for something so completely lame (I even recognized in the moment that it was lame and that I was completely overreacting) I literally punched it with my fist multiple times.  I guess I just needed to relieve some built up stress.  And I have to say I felt momentarily gratified.  And though my mom was mad when I did it (it is her printer after all) we were both able to laugh about it two days later.

Lesson learned:  drop out of grad school.  No, the lesson learned is not to procrastinate (isn’t that always the same damn lesson needed to be learned for everything?) and that I’m freak’n AMAZING b/c I got it all done on time.  Of course that said, I haven’t received any of the grades yet.

But now it’s my blessed month of March.  Looking ahead school doesn’t get overwhelming again (I don’t think) until the end of April and I’m back to working my regular part time shift.  And in fact I have 4 1/2 days off right now.  I got 9 hours of sleep last night and arranged my whole day around one errand.  Sigh.  Did I mention it was sunny and 70 degrees here today?  Thank you March.  Thank you.

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.

Field Trip

I thought my school field trip days were long over.  But just this week it was…drumroll please… ZOO DAY!!  I can’t believe how excited I was for this trip but everyday I looked at the calendar and did a countdown.  The morning of, my alarm went off and I layed there and thought about how much I hate alarms and getting up in the morning – which is what I do every morning – and then I remembered, “It’s ZOO DAY” and jumped right out of bed.

Remember on field trips days you could almost smell the excitement in the air when you walked into your classroom?  That’s how it was at the preschool when I got there.  The kids were hyper and kept informing me that they were going to the zoo to see the animals.  According to them, the zoo had every animal from elephants and tigers to cows and penguins.  Newsflash kiddos, the Little Rock zoo isn’t fancy enough for penguins and if you want to see cows you could probably just walk next door.  But their excitement for even just the possibility of some magical wonderment at the zoo was fun to see.

And who could forget the best part of field trips, the sack lunches!  I got sack lunches every day when I was in school but they were extra special on field trip days.  Lunchables, pudding snacks, fruit rollups, juice boxes, and the most important part was the handwritten note from mom.  This has carried over because along with informing me they were going to the zoo, the kids kept pulling out their lunches to show me what was inside.  I however, did not have any “fun” foods or a note from my mom inside mine.  Just two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I slapped together before I walked out the door.  I seriously considered swipping some of the goods from their sacks but in the end I refrained.

Luckily there were almost as many adults that came along as there were kids.  Unfortunately summer is more than in full swing here and it was in the upper 90s with the humidity almost as high.  Surprisingly not one kid needed to go to the bathroom the entire day and as a matter of fact, only one little girl whined and complained.  But they got to ride on the train and the carousel which were some of the highlights.  And for some reason a lot of the kids said their favorite animal was the alligator.  I don’t get why.  All you could see were his eyes as he just laid there in the water.  Snoozer.  The bear at least turned around and looked at the kids when they growled at him.

I got some really good pics of the kids but not so sure their parents would like me posting them on here so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  At the end of the day I was tired, hot, and ready for a nap.  But it was so much fun I hope we go on another one soon – though maybe one with AC next time.

Toad Suck Daze

Every year there is a three day celebration in my town called Toad Suck Daze.  Where did the name come from you ask?  Well the story goes like this:

The legend behind Toad Suck is that long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn’t, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock & Dam now spans the river near Conway. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern. The dismayed folks living nearby were heard to say: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend lives on at Toad Suck Daze.

But why they have a celebration named this in the first place, I have no idea.  An excuse for a party I guess.  And the really weird thing is that the first Toad Suck Daze was only celebrated in 1982.  So it’s not like it’s some old tradition dating so far back no one can remember why it’s still around.  Nope, only 28 years old.

It’s free admission and is for everyone except, well me.  Friday and Saturday night really belong to the Jr. high/high school kids, Saturday morning is for the kiddies to come out and race their toads and do a little face painting, Saturday afternoon and Sunday are for the *ahem* old folks and those into crafts, and the music every year is heavily influenced by the country genre.  Of which I’m not a big fan.  Plus every year without fail, it rains Toad Suck Daze weekend.  Needless to say I haven’t been since high school.

As a matter of fact, the weather was pretty severe this year.  I’m sure you’ve heard of all the tornadoes that swept through the state that flattened some towns and took the lives of a few people.  I was in Illinois for the weekend and happily missed out on all the excitement.

Though I missed the actual Toad Suck Daze celebration, all the preschool kids brought toads from home to race at school Thursday morning.  Talk about chaos.  When I showed up kids were all in a frenzy wanting to show everyone their toads.  Already two had either jumped out of an open box or had been taken out and then dropped, and were on the loose under the couch.

The madness continued outside as we began to race.  Some kids wanted to race but wouldn’t hold the toads, some kids wouldn’t put the toads down when they were finished racing, and all of the toads took every opportunity for freedom as they all scattered in different directions when placed on the starting line.  Imagine 17 preschool kids and 10 toads in an area that looked to be about 5 ft. squared.  There was a moment where a toad was actually dropped by one of the kids on the head of another.  I swear it couldn’t have been scripted better for a Little Rascals movie.  Talk about insanity.  But hilarious at the same time.

Maybe next year I’ll attend and blog first hand about what I see.  Maybe even include some pictures.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s something for me there after all.

A Good Day

Picture this, it’s about 80 degrees out with a slight breeze with little to no humidity.  The smell of grass being cut is in the air (I happen to really like that smell) and Bob Marley is serenading me on my Ipod as I walk around my neighborhood.

The lady whose pre-school/daycare I helped out at a couple of months ago asked if I could start back up again in a couple of weeks after her daughter leaves for school.  AND I have an interview at another school on Monday to see about doing some part time work there.  No promises on that but an interview is more than I’ve had in over a year.  Neither are my dream jobs but I’ll take them both.  And do so with a smile, work is work and money is money after all.

Then I found out this afternoon that I’m getting money back from my taxes.  I was fairly certain I wouldn’t get anything and almost just as certain I would end up owing some.  A good day indeed.

The only thing that could make today better would be to head to the ball park and take in a game while munching on a hot dog.  Ahh, spring, I love you.

More on Charleston

But not in this post.  Oh how I tease.  I realize I just disappointed all one of you that’s looking forward to my Illinois updates, but I’m just too lazy to go get my camera so I can post the pictures.  Instead, welcome to my past week.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember much before Thursday but I’m sure those days included watching a lot of TV.  I do know I started feeling the oncoming of a cold Tuesday night or Wednesday which sucked.  I hate being sick.  I’m a terrible sick person.  On the outside I’m pretty controlled, I don’t really complain and I stay away from people.  Mostly because I get really peeved at people that whine and bellyache when they’re sick.  And especially those that come out of their rooms and infect everyone else around them.  Jerks.

But in my mind I feel like I’m going crazy.  The same thing happens when my arms get trapped inside an article of clothing and I cant’ get it off and I’m stuck.  Yes, this happens ok.  I start to panic and just want to be released.  Just thinking about it makes me squeamish…ok, I had to flail my arms around just now.  Anyway, when I’m sick all I can think about it how much longer I have to be sick.  It’s miserable.

I do remember going to the batting cages with my dad Thursday afternoon.  That was fun and it might have been the best day I’ve had at the cages to date.  Except I know I’m not still a seasoned player because I get winded and break out in a sweat when I’m there.  Like that’s some sort of strenuous exercise.  I blame the cold.

Friday afternoon I get a mass email from our church asking for people to go help this family clean their new duplex.  Long story short, their house burned down Sunday in the middle of the night and they’re moving into this duplex.  I head over there, above all else because their house burned down for heaven’s sake and they need help.  Plus two of the girls are in my church group I’m over.  Also, I’m a saint.

I head over there and get to work cleaning the bathroom.  As a side note, I hate cleaning bathrooms.  I would rather clean almost anything else before touching the bathroom.  But whatever, their house burned.  There’s no way of getting around it, this duplex is disgusting.  I completely understand the emergency of the situation and the fact this family is financially strapped.  But I can’t believe the landlords would actually rent this place out in the condition it’s in.  AND they apparently told this family that it had been professionally cleaned which was a blatant lie.  We’re talking mold, animal droppings, repairs needed, rust, etc. and that was just the kitchen area.

I know bleach containers list certain areas that are safe for product use but everything in that bathroom got hosed down.  I could actually feel the fumes rising in the air which couldn’t have been the best on my lungs and cough.  At one point the lady asked if I was “dying in there”.  It didn’t look that much better when I left and I ironically thought the best thing for that duplex was to burn it down and start over.

Saturday my cold moved into my sinuses and my nose.  Oh, balls.  I was really wanting to avoid that.  In my opinion this is the worst of the worst of having a cold.  I did luck out because it’s now Monday, I’m on the mend, and it never developed into a full blown sinus infection.  Phew.  Sinus infection + no insurance + no money = a life of crime, I’m sure of it.  No doubt I would have gone crazy and ended up on the evening news and in jail.  My cellmates would’ve had to pay me off with Mucinex, which of course at that point wouldn’t work.  I’d be the one true nut job in the slammer and everyone would know not to mess with the girl with clogged ears.  Don’t even get me started on clogged ears, you know what I’m talking about.  Or more likely, I would’ve had to borrow money from the parentals and go to the doctor.  Either way, not getting it worked out for the best.

Sunday night I watched the Oscars and I noticed a couple of things.  Everyone being interviewed before the show was chewing gum and it really bugged me.  Spit it out already.  Isn’t that a rule in public speaking/drama classes 101 to spit out your gum before performing or addressing an audience?  If it’s not it should be.  Also, there are a lot of celebrities that actually make me mad.  Like I want to punch you in the face mad.  Some of them weren’t at the Oscars but all include:

Oprah Winfrey

Barbara Streisand

Barbara Walters

Adam Lambert

Aretha Franklin

Mariah Carey

To name just a small few.  So that brings me up to today.  Did the usual, Walmart, library, watched some movie, yadda yadda.  I did go out and mow the lawn.  On the bright side, the weather was PERFECT.  High 60s with little to no humidity, sun out.  I even went out in capris which reminded me that I’m going to need to scrape up the money to hit the tanning bed soon.  Gotta keep my priorities straight, ya know.  I kind of like yard work, I do.  And mowing is probably my favorite yard chore if I had to name one.  But the grass is still dead.  I’m not understanding why it needs to be mowed so soon.  Plus, because of two great, big trees in our yard, it was more like mowing dirt.  I looked an awful lot like this:

This week’s off to a great start.