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.

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?

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.

Possible Second Thoughts

Last year I decided on a career change.  Actually the decision was made for me a little over two years ago when I lost my job, but last year was when I settled on a new direction.  I would be an elementary teacher.  But here’s the thing, for the entire month of January I’ve been sick.

It all started the end of December when I got a sinus infection.  Monday January 3rd, found me in the doctor’s office getting yet another prescription (I had already had three the previous year for the same thing).

This time around the doctor gave me a new medication that I’d never had before.  I started taking it and after a week, started having some reservations.  Sure I felt better than I had the day I had been at the doctor’s but still didn’t feel all that great.  Then came the side effects; headaches, fever, abdominal pains, irritability, mood swings (aka hormones going crazy), and nausea to name just a few.  Super fun stuff to have especially when you work at a preschool.  But since I had never had a reaction to medication before it never occurred to me that was the cause.

This also happened to be the same time school started up and a couple personal things were going on so I thought maybe I was stressed from all that, though I should have known better because stress has never caused me to have any of those reactions either.

I finished the medication and felt better than I had in the beginning and a lot of the side effects went away but I still never felt 100%.  I was still tired and irritable and frankly, just worn out.  And being around kids, as cute as they sometimes are, wasn’t helping.

Then this past Thursday I started feeling it again.  The slight, scratchy sore throat and I knew I was headed for another sinus infection.  Immediately I started doing whatever it was I thought would prevent a full blown infection.  I even took the doctor’s advice on a home remedy of basically snorting pickling salt up my nose.  By the way, that burns but it does clear it out immediately.  It doesn’t last for very long though.  Ahh, good times.

So here I am on a Sunday night having already called in to work saying I won’t be there.  Not only do I have a sinus infection but an unofficial inspection of my throat has revealed strep.  Which would account for my lack of voice.  Fantastic.

I get to visit the doctor again tomorrow and once again pay out of pocket (no insurance) for him to see me for 30 seconds and tell me the same thing I already know.  Then I get to go to the pharmacy where once again I get to pay out of pocket for medication (that had he given me in the first place rather than something new) to clear this all up.

So I start to wonder, do I really want to be an elementary teacher??  And have to be around sick kids day in and day out??  Kids who can’t seem to grasp the concept of sneezing or coughing into their elbow rather than in my face?

Kids who think my shirt is their own personal tissue??  Tonight I’m beginning to wonder.  And wonder if as a teacher I can get away with requiring my students to wear these:

Today I Was Schooled

I’d really like to think I’m smarter than a four year old but when it comes to technology I just might be slipping behind.  About a week or so ago I bought a new phone.  After years of the very basic of the basic of all phones, I bought *drum roll please* ….an EVO

And I have no idea how to use it.  I’m still figuring out all it can do though in all honesty I never really will learn it all.

Today I was at work and I was talking with one of the four year olds and he pulled out my phone and asked if it had any games on it.  As a matter of fact, I have one.  Angry Birds.  A game I had never heard of until a week ago and have only played two or three times.  Most recently was last night when I tried for almost a half hour to complete level 10.

I turn the game on and start to tell the four year old how to make the bird fly out of the slingshot.  He interrupts me and says, “You have to push on your phone with your finger.”  To which I replied with, “No, you move your finger like this and let go.”

No sooner had I done that when he jabs his little finger on my phone and wouldn’t you know that one bird turned into three birds and killed all the pigs and advanced me to the next level.  Seriously?!?  Thirty minutes I spent on that stupid level and a four year old completes it with the push of a finger.

It’s crazy to think about all the things kids know about and know how to do these days.  And just like I’ve never lived in the world when man hadn’t been on the moon, these kids have never lived when there weren’t cell phones or ipods (among other things). It reminds me of the song What a Wonderful World when Louis Armstrong sings, “I hear babies cry,I watch them grow.  They’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know.” I can’t even imagine what kind of advances in technology these kids are going to see in their lifetime.  It’s just crazy.

 

It’s A Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Year Come and Gone

Seriously, I can’t believe how fast this year has gone.  I feel like it was just last night I was posting about turning 30 and now here I am.  Again.  Another year older.  I remember last year being pretty excited about turning 30 and thinking it was going to be a reinvention for me.  I’m sure I had all sorts of goals in my mind but hell if I can remember what they were, much less accomplished any of them.  This year did find me a job, busy with two youth groups, and in grad school.  And tomorrow I’ll be celebrating this momentous day with 16 kids ages 2-4, and that’s better than going grocery shopping at Wal Mart in the morning and then getting stood up later, which is what happened last year.

So, a step up from that and with a new year staring me in the face, I’m ready to see if I can make this one better.  Turning 30 take 2!

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.

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.