Where Did November Go?

So…uh, what happened to November folks??  I don’t really know where to begin because the post I’ve been thinking about posting is irrelevant seeing as how Halloween is long over and gone.  So just imagine, I walked around my neighborhood and took pictures of the decorations people put up and some of them were pretty cool.  A lot of people around here did some sort of decorations even if it was minimal.  One of my favorites was a ginormous spider a guy built out of PCP pipe with glowing green fangs and put up in the front yard.  I’d post the pics but they didn’t turn out all that well now that I’m looking back at them.  We even decorated our porch which was a cross between nice harvest with pumpkins and hay bales and typical Halloween with spider webs and ghosts.  I even tried to make this:

It didn’t quite turn out exactly like this but good enough.  Another reason I’m not posting pictures is because my computer is going through a freak out period.  I just got it a few months ago and there’s already some sort of hardware glitch.  Lovely.  I’ve talked to tech support on two separate occasions and all I’m wanting them to do is send me a box to put my computer in so I can send it to be repaired.  It is now a month after my initial call and I still don’t have a box.  Grrr.  I will be making yet another call tomorrow and may have to ask to be transferred to their complaints department or something.  It’s frustrating and annoying.  And I’m annoyed that I have to talk to some guy in India who I can’t understand and who can’t understand me.  Double Grrr.

With the semester coming to an end I’ve been bombarded with papers, projects, assignments, etc.  The good thing is I’m starting to see the end.  Whoo hoo!  We had family in for Thanksgiving which was fun.  I was a cooking fool last weekend.  I made a big dinner the night before then cooked the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and made four pumpkin pies.  I love pumpkin pie.  All the cooking is just the warm up for the Christmas desserts that need to be made.  Last year I baked a little over 400 cookies, 5 loaves of bread, three batches of fudge, 2 batches of cream cheese brownie bars, 2 or 3 batches of homemade oreo cake/cookies, and tried divinity which I ended up being sidelined for because that’s really hard to make.  Maybe this year.  Speaking of the Christmas season, all the holiday movies have started up which I’m apparently a sucker for.  So odd because ordinarily I can’t stand Lifetime or Hallmark but sprinkle in Christmas and I can’t turn it off.  Go figure.

Well for some stupid reason I woke up at 3:45 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I hate that.  So I”m going to go attempt to do that now.  But I’m going to leave you with what I discovered making a web outside my window:

Ok, ok so it wasn’t really a goliath birdeating tarantula out there but it may as well have been.  It was totally big and creepy.  Well, pleasant dreams!

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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?

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.

Snow Day

Technically I don’t really get a snow day since I don’t have a job but that’s just a minor detail.  Today I woke up to snow covering the ground and a steady fall for about 5 hours.  I get that for a lot of you snow’s not a big deal but remember, I live in Arkansas.  I honestly can’t even remember the last time we had a snow fall this good and the snow was PERFECT for snowballs and snowmen.

My mom’s office closed down at lunch and not long after she came home I convinced her (she’s 67 years old by the way) to go outside with me where I engaged her in a snowball fight.  How many of you can say you’ve been in snowball fight with your mom?  Not many I’d guess.  She had a couple good hits but I totally kicked her trash.  Love you mom!

The first pic is the before and the other two are the after.

I wanted to make a snowman Calvin and Hobbes style and set out to make this:

The snowman was easy enough but you wouldn’t believe how hard shark fins are to make.  At least for someone snow sculpting challenged.  So I gave up.  But many of the neighbors went ahead and made snowmen in their yards.

Did I mention I live in Arkansas?

Martha Stewart Eat Your Heart Out

I have never been a crafty person.  My idea of a successful craft is buying the supplies and giving them to my sister to put it all together.  And while scrapbook paper transforms and does amazing things for her, all it ever does for me is give paper cuts.

Well that’s starting to change.  Between the daycare I’m helping at, the girls I’m over at church, and my nephew and nieces coming for Thanksgiving it seems all I have on the brain are crafts.  A few short weeks ago I had never heard of modge podge and now I have large plastic bin full of craft supplies – and I know how to use them all.

Yeah that’s right, my craft abilities are now up to snuff with 5 year olds.  So maybe I still don’t have anything on Martha but those kids think I’m a master with a piece of paper.  I might as well be doing origame with my feet while blindfolded.

Here are a couple pics of my nieces and nephew doing crafts on Thanksgiving:

Yeah, so um, remember how I said my expertise sort of plateaus with five year olds?  I think that’s pretty evident by the looks on my nephew and older niece’s faces.  Don’t they look absolutely thrilled?

Moving on to the craft to end all crafts for the day – the food craft:

Ta da!

There were some other things I put together with the youngest that involved colored wrapping tissue paper – fancy I know.  And to show her appreciation (at least I hope that’s what it was) she drew this:

A closer look shall we:

Yep, I see a resemblance between the picture of me and a schoolmarm.  Can you?

Tomorrow I pull out the big guns.  Gotta impress the 8-11 year olds.  I’m hoping the tile wall hangings they’re making will do the trick.  Watch out Martha, I’m on my way.

It’s a Boy!

I just learned that the adoption process was finalized yesterday for some of my best friends living in Utah and I could not be more excited or thrilled for them!  Fritz and Pam are exceptional people and have helped me out more than they know.  I worked with Fritz for three and a half years in the lab and he’s the only reason I stayed as sane as I did.  I called on Fritz a handful of times outside of work when things broke down like the washing machine in my apartment or when I discovered a flat tire on my way to church one Sunday.  Later I learned that he had been right in the middle of some roofing problem at his own home but came right over anyway because that’s the kind of guy he is.  And I don’t know how many rides Pam gave me or how many lunches we went to where we just talked and laughed which was always what I needed.  And I have never met such polite and well behaved kids in my life!  Bottom line – I love this family.

I first learned of the adoption and met this little boy, Johnny, about two years ago when Fritz brought him to the lab.  He had such a sad and rocky start  in life and the effects were obvious to see.  He was painfully shy and not just shy but almost scared of people he didn’t know.  When I said hi to him his reaction was like a cat about to be dunked in water.  His eyes became huge and he tried to climb higher up on Fritz and away from me.  When Fritz tried to turn him around a little to face me, his little hands were like mini vices that clung to Fritz’s shirt and wouldn’t let go.  Seeing that and hearing some of the stories Fritz and Pam would share were just heartbreaking.

Fast forward to about 7 or 8 months ago.  I was in the lab when Fritz walked in with Johnny.  I think Fritz had come back to work to get something he left behind but ended up having to say to fix some problem.  Rather than having Johnny sit on the couch waiting for his dad, I asked him if he wanted to come into the photo section of the lab with me.  What a difference the past year and a half had made!  He jumped right up and took my hand and chatted to me the whole way.  For the next 45 min. we ran around playing hide and go seek, I let him play a little with the equipment, he was laughing and dancing, and he just kept talking the whole time.  I’ve never seen a kid with so much energy.  After those 45 min. I was ready for a nap!

The transformation in Johnny is amazing and I kept saying to Fritz and Pam that I couldn’t believe it.  He was like a completely different child.  And in reality I guess he is thanks to their dedication and love.  I truly believe they saved this little boy and even though it was made official and legal yesterday, Johnny has been a part of their family for quite a while and I couldn’t be happier for any of them!

Here is just some of his extended family:

johnny3

Being silly with the judge:

johnny

The family:

johnny2

Hanging with dad:

johnny4

Johnny with mom and dad:

johnny5

Christmas Shopping Woe

It’s getting to be that time of year again when we buy everyone on the planet a Christmas gift.  Maybe you’ve already started or heaven forbid already done, for which I say “Pfffttt!!  Boo to you!”  I’m just now getting around to thinking about what to do for everyone.  I know Christmas is supposed to be about love and peace and goodwill towards men but I fall victim like everyone else to the franchise, purchases, and corporate world domination that has overcome the holiday every year.

In my family we buy a gift for everyone rather than drawing names out of a hat.  Which is to say I need to buy gifts for 9 people.  Really 9 isn’t that bad and I can’t imagine having to double or triple that number like a lot of people I know.  There are some years when for whatever reason, maybe the stars align, that I come up with an awesome, unique gift for everyone and it’s all I can do not to call and blurt out what I got as I’m walking out of the store to my car.  But more often, it’s a year like this one where I find myself a month-ish before the season thinking, “Oh crap.  Is Christmas here again already? Crap! Crap! Crap!”

Then begins the dreaded (on my part) phone marathon with family.  This involves calling everyone and asking what they want for Christmas.  Sounds harmless but it takes so much coordination I imagine it easily rivals a top secret project from NASA and I’m pretty sure they at least have satellites in outer space to help them.  Conversations will always include phrases like, “I don’t know” or “Nothing, you don’t have to get me anything this year.”  Oh please (and yes, I’m just as guilty but no more I tell you!).  The phone call will end with them all saying they’ll think about it and get back to me.  Which they never do.  In the meantime, I also have to ask them if they know what anyone else wants and what exactly they are planning to buy for others.  The problem with this is that there is not one central person that knows everything so more phone calls are needed before all this information is collected.  Also, one or two people might say, “Well when you know any ideas of what so and so wants let me know.”  So more phone calls back to that person to relay new information.  And in that lapse of time, they may have thought of gift ideas and already purchased them so what I may have thought about getting someone is now out the door because it’s the same thing someone else just bought them.  So back to square one.

So this year I have come up with two Christmas Shopping rules that I would appreciate if people (ahem family) would follow:

1.  Do not under any circumstances purchases items for yourself two months prior to Christmas.  If there is something you are really wanting then mention it to a family member and wait until December 25th.  If you don’t receive it as a gift feel free to purchase it after the new year.

2.  Do not tell multiple people the same gift ideas.  Come up with a list of things and tell one or two of them to each person so the risk of double buying is minimized.  Unless the item you want is something broad like books, movies, or Cds.  But even then, be specific as to which books, movies, or Cds and only tell one or two titles to each person.

I’m half tempted to make a chart or grid this year with everyone’s name on it and what they are buying everyone else before I actually begin purchasing things.  For that matter, I’m half tempted to make a chart of all the phone calls back and forth between everyone but I have a suspicion it would look like a map showing all the destinations Delta flies to.

So that’s my plea to a select few of you.  But if history has taught me anything, I will most likely not be purchasing anything until the week before Christmas where I’ll be making a mad dash to the dollar store to sift through the remains.  So, who wants the porcelain rooster and who wants the can of SPAM?