Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Great Wreath-Making Project

We've had the same Christmas wreath forever, and I saw several ideas in magazines and in blogs that I wanted to try to make this year. One of them (can't remember exactly where) said to take old ornaments and glue them on a wreath. Well, I didn't have enough old ornaments to spare, in the right colors, so I decided that I would just pick up some inexpensive ones to use. Four stores later, I found what I needed at Target.

The project sat around for a couple of weeks until I realized that I needed to make it, or save it for next year. Long story short, it took me two days to make and more containers of ornaments than I originally bought. I think it cost me about $50 to make, but I am happy with the result.

I started with a white styrofoam form that I began to paint silver, then decided not to bother. Some websites suggest using a straw wreath, or I'd consider using a green foam wreath that is softer, and the ornaments could possibly be pushed into it. All of the ornaments that I used are plastic, and I removed the caps from them. The ornaments are attached with hot glue, but I have a cool melt gun, and had to hold the ornaments that actually touched the wreath for a couple of minutes for them to set. Maybe it would have taken less time with a hotter glue gun? The ornaments in successive layers that only touched each other took a lot less time to set.

Once the wreath was complete, we didn't want it to fall off our front door and break, or have the impact of the door slamming cause the wreath to bang into it and damage it (our door is glass), so we hung it with a wreath hanger, plus fishing line wrapped around it and attached to the door with a suction cup, and finally foam that is hot-glued to the door. It doesn't move at all!

Here are some photos of the process and completed project:





Feeling Crafty

I have been reading several craft blogs since this summer, and never feel like I have the time to just sit down and make something without neglecting something more important. I've come to realize that making craft projects is something that I should do more often, because I get so much joy out of them, and I come away with such a feeling of accomplishment. I used to scrapbook regularly, I've done soap-making, candle-making, jewelry-making, stamping, and card-making. Paper crafts are definitely my favorite, and I have tons of supplies from my two-year stint as a Creative Memories consultant.

When I am feeling like I want to do something creative, and time keeps me from actually producing anything, I have a bad habit of stockpiling supplies. This summer, I bought a Cricut machine, along with several cartridges, but didn't use it very much at all. For Christmas, I received a Gypsy, and I am looking forward to playing with it.

I really wanted to make some things for Halloween, but this was the semester from Hell for me, and I really don't remember October. For Thanksgiving, I managed to make a banner to hang on our fireplace. It's nothing that exciting, but for me, there was a great feeling of accomplishment.


For Christmas, I decided to make three different projects. First, there was the two-day wreath-making project, then the "beaded curtain", and finally a banner that I hung on my china cabinet.




Sorry about the banner picture; I just realized that I never took a good one. It has four layers, and the lettering says, "Let it Snow". If I get a chance later, I'll write a post with just the wreath, because that was a massive undertaking.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sneak Peek

Holiday Charms Christmas Card
Make a statement with custom Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The End is Near!

I am sure I have written this somewhere already, but I want to see it in writing again, to prove to myself that I have made it to the end of this awful semester, and am going to be 75% finished with nursing school.

As of right now, I have:
  •  3 more days of lecture
  • 2 more lecture exams (one is a biggie)
  • 1 more lab (my last new skill in nursing school-IV starts)
  • 1 more clinical day (how happy that makes me!)
I will be a free woman December 14th, around noon.  The madness starts up again January 18th.  Can't wait...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Say cheese!

For years, I resisted the photo card for Christmas.  I didn't have a really good reason, but preferred to send the non-photo type out.  Now that we have kids, I have converted to the photo card.  Sure, most of my friends and family are on Facebook, but not all of them are.  Also, I have been really bad the past year or so about uploading photos to Facebook or here on my blog. 

I am planning to send out photo cards this year, but the problem is that Zoe will not look at a camera.  So, posing both kids together is not an option.  I learned my lesson last year when I dressed up both the kids, set up my child-sized rocking chair in front of the Christmas tree, and had Zach kneel next to the chair with his arm around it.  Zoe would zoom in and out of the room, sometimes sitting in the chair for a second or so.  I had to be ready with the camera, and after about 30 minutes, I did manage to get a decent shot. 

This year, I am planning to use candid shots that were taken separately of the kids.  We don't do family photos outside of the ones that the kids both take twice a year at school, but I am pretty good at taking pictures at any activity that we do. Shutterfly has some gorgeous card designs, and here are a few of my favorites:



I haven't decided which ones I am going to use it; there are too many choices!  Shutterfly also has all sorts of other products that would make great Christmas gifts.  There are wall calendars, birthday invitations, and all sorts of Christmas photo cards.  If you can imagine it, Shutterfly has it.  Be sure to go and check out their website for their full range of products.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Silhouette giveaway at Tatertots and Jello

One of my favorite crafty blogs, Tatertots and Jello, is giving away a Silhouette machine, and I would really like to win it.  Go here to enter, and tell her I sent you!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I'll be back soon, I hope

School is really kicking my butt right now, and there is just no time for anything extra.  Unfortunately, those "extras" include house cleaning and laundry at the moment.  I've had to resign from my school library volunteer position, and Cub Scouts is the only thing outside of school that I am currently keeping up with.

Come on, December 14th!  I have lots of pictures to post, and lots of crafty ideas that I really want to try out.  

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Giveaway Winner

Thanks to those of you who entered my giveaway.  Even if you didn't win, if you "like" Label Your Stuff on Facebook, they will give you 10% off your next order.

The winner of the Starter Kit is Jamie.  Congratulations!  I'll email you to get your information.

Thanks again for playing!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Label Your Stuff Review/Giveaway





Label Your Stuff is a great website I came across a few years ago when I was looking for a way to label Zachary's sippy cups, lunch kits, jackets, etc. for daycare.  He was always losing something, and I was tired of having to rewrite his name on his cups every few days in permanent marker.  I ordered some of their waterproof labels and put his name and phone number on them.  I also ordered some of their iron-on labels for his jackets, because I was tired of rummaging through lost-and-found bins in search of his belongings.  The iron-on labels are fade-proof and easy to apply.  With more and more schools requiring parents to label their kids' stuff, this is a very easy way to do it.

Fast-forward four years, and the labels that I applied to school water bottles, plastic containers, and lunch kits are still going strong.  They make it through the dishwasher, and in the case of the plastic containers, the microwave, just fine, and I have never had a problem with one coming off.  I've also used the labels on Zach's DS and iPod, just in case they ever become lost.

When I found Label Your Stuff on Facebook and they contacted me about doing a product review, I jumped at the chance.  I really believe in their products, and they can be customized with different colors and symbols, your child's name, your phone number, or even your address.  Their products are great for children who go to preschool, school-age kids, or kids who are going off to camp.  They even have allergy alert stickers and buttons, bag tags, and gift tags for the upcoming holiday season.

In conjunction with Label Your Stuff, I am holding my very first product giveaway.  The winner will receive a Starter Pack of their goodies, as described below:

Starter Savings Pack
Only $31.95! 134 labels -  $40+ value - you save over 20%!
50 iron-on labels (2 line, black text only), 60 waterproof mini stick-on labels,
24 shoe labels (for 12 pairs of shoes)


In addition, anyone who goes and "likes" Label Your Stuff on Facebook will receive a 10% discount on their next order. 

Here's how to enter my giveaway:

1.  Post a comment below, telling me what your favorite product is from the Label Your Stuff line.
2.  Post a link to this giveaway on Twitter and/or Facebook, then leave a separate comment letting me know that you did.
3.  Post a link to this giveaway on your own blog, then leave me a link in the comments to the post where you mentioned it. 

Each person can earn up to three entries in the giveaway, and the contest closes on Saturday, October 2nd at 6:00pm EST.  The winner will be decided by a random drawing.  Good luck!

Disclosure: I was given a free Starter Pack by Label Your Stuff as compensation for doing a review of their products.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy birthday, little man!

Today is Zachary's first day of fourth grade, and also his ninth birthday. Yes, he is the youngest one in his grade level, but he does well in school, and was ready to start kindergarten...


Anyway, we have a tradition around here where we take a picture of him on his birthday, holding up the corresponding number of fingers to his age. Here are the ones from the last four years. The ones before that are on an external hard drive, and I am too lazy to go and search for them. Enjoy!



9th birthday-2010

8th birthday-2009

7th birthday-2008

6th birthday-2007




Monday, August 09, 2010

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Wow, it's August already. For our family, that means the fall birthday bonanza has begun. We have my brother-in-law, mom, and my son in August, my mother-in-law, dad, me, and my daughter in September, and our anniversary is in October. Some years I'm better at buying cards on time than others. I suspect this will be one of the latter. Can I use an insanely busy school schedule as an excuse? It will have to do for now. I just used the rest of the Christmas stamps to mail Zach's birthday party invitations. That is how often I mail things; every single bill is paid online, and if correspondence doesn't happen via the computer, it doesn't happen around here anymore.

Anyway, as of tomorrow I will have been off school for three months. What have I accomplished? I've done some cleaning and organizing, catching up with old friends, lots of reading, both of books and blogs, lots of cooking, and not as much crafting as I would like. What I would still like to accomplish is to put together a meal-planning binder (it's currently in its early stages, and I still can't figure out the best way to do it; help!), cook some meals to have in the freezer, plan both kids' birthday parties, make some beaded pacifier holders so that I have something to sell in my new Etsy shop, and start an exercise plan. Nothing big, right?

I really would have liked to have taken a summer vacation this year. Instead, I am having to live vicariously through my Facebook friends, and their vacation snapshots. Darren has a work project that will consume his life until December, and he is currently in Mexico City for the second time in a little over a month with that project. The kids and I did get away to Louisiana for almost a week, and were able to spend a week with my sister and nephew, and that was a lot of fun. Two two-year-olds is exhausting, but at least they got along really well. There are some photos on my Flickr page from the visit.

Has anyone else noticed that the light outside has visibly changed? I know it's still hot as Hades outside, and our grass has turned brown in the past two days, but the sun is sitting a little lower in the sky. I get giddy with excitement when I realize that fall is just around the corner, and every year I wish that we lived somewhere that had more seasons. One of these years, I am going to take a vacation up north during the fall, and get to see the gorgeous leaves, along with the other stereotypical things that I have pictured in my head as what fall really looks like. I hope that I have some free time this fall to enjoy the time of year.

I cannot believe that my little buddy starts fourth grade in two weeks! He turns nine on the first day of school, and this is his last year of elementary school. I realized the other day that Zoe will start kindergarten the same day that Zach starts junior high; wow! Of course, my cousins in Baton Rouge have me beat: they have a child starting college, high school, and kindergarten this year. No lie.

Be back soon...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Houston Pre-Blogher Meet-Up

I had the opportunity to meet up with some of the bloggers from Houston and Austin who are headed to Blogher in NYC in a couple of weeks. Not all of them are going, but it was a nice opportunity to network, and for the people who are going to the conference to get to know some familiar faces before they travel to the event.

Our meet-up was held at Morton's downtown, and organized by Mr. Lady I've been reading her blog for a couple of years, and have been communicating with her for a few months, since she moved to Houston. She was just as funny in person as she is in her writing, and I hope that I have the opportunity to hang out with her again. I also met some other cool bloggers who live here. I didn't realize that everyone would have some nice calling cards to share all of their information with each other, so I had to make do with paper torn off a notepad that I keep in my purse. I am definitely investing in some cards for next time! If you get a chance, go and check out:

Jennifer
Fred
Pam
Pam's other site
Jessica
Kathryn
Ellie
Allison
Michele
Ron

Please tell them I sent you!

The Sassy Paci

I've been making beaded pacifier holders for a couple of years now, and everyone always comments on how cute they are. Since I have tons of supplies stockpiled, and crafting makes me happy, I thought I would start an Etsy page to see if there is any interested in them. You can find me here. Please go and check it out! Feel free to leave me a comment with suggestions on what you would like to see. In the meantime, I'll be making pacifier clips...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Independence Day recap

We had a busy Independence Day weekend. For the first time in the ten years since we moved here, I attended the parade that is held in The Woodlands. As The Woodlands has grown, it has evolved from kids riding their bikes with streamers on the handles to consisting more of organized groups.

We participated in the Cub Scout group for the parade. This year is BSA's 100th birthday in the United States, and the parade's Grand Marshal was supposed to be someone with Boy Scouts. Our district within Sam Houston Area Council had two floats, which were decorated trailers pulled by pick-up trucks. I think we probably had over 100 Scouts who participated this year. Zoe and I were able to ride in one of the trucks, Zach rode on a float with some of his friends, and Darren walked beside the float.

After the parade, which was a lot of fun and very well-attended (BSA won an award for the largest group, BTW), I had to rush home and shower to prepare for my friend's husband's funeral. She is in nursing school with me, and her husband died very suddenly of a heart attack on the Monday before July 4th.

That evening, we attended the free patriotic concert that the Houston Symphony puts on every year at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. It's fun, because you can bring a picnic dinner (fried chicken, of course!), and sit on a blanket and listen to the music. The evening is capped off with a performance of the 1812 Overture, accompanied by cannons. We've been a few times to the concert, but not for several years. It wasn't very crowded this year, and we met some friends there. The only downfall was that it had rained all week prior to the concert, and the grass was very muddy. We spent a lot of time watching kids running down the hill, and ending up sliding on their butts in the mud. Zoe had a great time running around and visiting other groups nearby during the concert, and was not scared of the cannons.

On Sunday, we lazed around for most of the day, until I went to the grocery store and bought ingredients for a cookout. Darren requested apple pie, so I made that from scratch, along with macaroni and cheese, and he grilled bratwurst in beer. Yum!

Around 8:00, we hopped on our bikes and rode to Town Center to view the fireworks. There was a festival down there as well, with a band and refreshments, but we skipped all of that. We left our bikes at the library, and walked down to the Waterway. We ended up on top of a hill across the waterway from the Pavilion, and had a great spot to watch the fireworks. Zoe spent our time there drinking all of the water out of my Camelbak. She thought it was the coolest thing!

After the fireworks, it took us an hour to get home on our bikes, but I think that was faster than it took most people who drove their cars. We had to dodge pedestrians on the pathway in Town Center, then when we got back to Woodlands Parkway, the lights were set to allow traffic to flow from Town Center, so it took a long time to get a walk signal. We arrived home, sweaty and tired, around 11:00. We all had popsicles to cool off, and the kids didn't go to bed until midnight. There weren't nearly as many people shooting fireworks this year as in the past, so we were all able to sleep that night.

It was a really fun holiday weekend, but it would have been nice to have had a party or have been invited to one. We really miss getting together with friends, but in recent years, it has seemed that unless we do the inviting and host the party, we don't go anywhere. I'm glad I like to stay home so much...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

the beauty of different: is everyone REALLY beautiful?

Cub Scout Camp 2010

This year, I went to Cub Scout camp as a session leader instead of a den walker.  That way, I would only see each boy for 45 minutes, instead of having to walk around with the same group of boys all week.  I was lucky to have a session in the shade under a pavilion, and I taught Readyman to the Webelos I boys (Zach's age, going into fourth grade) for the first four days of camp.  Readyman is pretty much advanced First Aid, and the boys seemed to enjoy it.  On the last day of camp, I taught duct tape wallet-making to the Webelos II boys; the oldest group in Cub Scouts, going into fifth grade.  That was a lot of fun, and I was so glad that I had practiced making wallets the night before.

Of course, it was hot, as south Texas is during the summer, but it was a lot of fun.  Ice pops are a valuable commodity out at Camp Strake, and the boys kept Mrs. Mary in the canteen busy all week, purchasing them.  Zach earned a bunch of requirements toward his Webelos badge, and it got us out of the house for a week.  I tend to not leave the comfort of my house during the summer unless I have to, and this was something good for Zach and I to get to do together.  Things have been so crazy for us the past two years with me being in school, and it was nice to have the free time to devote totally to him. We had four other boys from Zach's den who participated with him, and the parents took turns walking around with the boys all week.  The one thing that I noticed was that compared to three years ago when we first went to camp, there were less boys there, and also less ceremony put into it.  That's a shame, and I think will lead to attendance dwindling each year.

This year's theme was "Ride into the Future: 100 Years of Scouting".  Our camp had a Star Wars theme, and each den was some geographical point with "Jedi" as the last name.  Zach's den was the "Sahara Desert Jedi", and they did a nice job decorating their campsite in that theme.

The boys attended four sessions each day Monday-Thursday, and Friday was a day of organized fun.  My favorite part is when the fire truck shows up right before lunch, and showers everyone at camp with their water.  The boys love it, and there were a few adults standing where they could get drenched, too.  Of course, I was right in the middle of it.

Below is a slideshow of our pictures from camp.  You may have to go to Flickr to view the captions.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summertime!

I cannot believe that school is finally over for Zach and me.  I finished on May 10th, and have been enjoying not having the pressure of studying constantly.  I do need to do some schoolwork though, to keep my brain focused.  We have a website that does custom study guides based on how we did on our final, and I am going to print some of the topics to review.

Zach finished school on June 3rd, after having a field day, student talent show, and other fun activities.  I am so proud of him, and how far he progressed this year.  He made a 97 on the reading TAKS, and 100 on the math.  On his report card, he had all A's for the year in all subjects except science.  He has finally become a reader, and I think school will just get better and better for him.  I can't believe he only has one more year of elementary school!

We don't have many plans for the summer, and I like it that way.  I enjoy just spending time at home, reading and relaxing.  I've been doing quite a bit of cleaning and cooking, and enjoying just being with my family.   I need to savor these memories when the fall comes around and I am busy with school again! 

We do have pool passes, and have used them a couple of times.  Zoe likes the water this year, and we need to try to go to the pool more often than we have been.  It's been raining quite a bit, though, and I don't like to go during the heat of the day.  We pale people burn really quickly!

Zach and I are participating in Cub Scout camp next week.  I hope we both have a great time.  I am teaching Readyman, which is sort of like First Aid, and he is going to camp as a Webelos I.  I had to work pretty hard to sell him on going this year, but it should be different now that he is older.  They will earn quite a few requirements toward their Webelos badge, and it will get us out of the house for a week.  The only thing that I am dreading is the fact that camp is outdoors, and we live in south Texas. 


On Father's Day, Zach and his Poppa are heading out for their annual road trip.  This year, they are taking on Louisiana 1 for a few days.  It crisscrosses the state from somewhere near Shreveport to Grand Isle, and I am sure they will have a great time.  Mom will come and hang out with me for the week, and I am sure we will find things to do to pass the time.

I think Zach is going to do a week of soccer camp later in the summer, to learn the rules and skills of the game.  He really wants to play soccer this fall, and I am hoping our schedule will allow for it.  I am going to try to do Kindermusik with Miss Zoe in July, because I know she will have a ball. 


Besides those activities, I have both kids signed up for the summer reading program at the library, and we are going to try to complete the Summer Explorer program at Zach's school.  His librarian has been doing this for years, and the kids earn points for completing different things.  If they earn enough points, they get a t-shirt and a special ceremony once school starts.

As usual, I have grand plans of all the cleaning and organizing that I want to accomplish this summer.  I have accepted the fact that it will not happen, and am just trying to do a little bit each day.  I really want to scrapbook again, but feel like I can't do that until I have other tasks out of the way.  Plus, I wonder how Zoe will handle me having stickers, colored paper, markers, and other tools out on the dining room table?  She is a mess, and always seems to be dragging out a large number of things.  She is so creative, and always wants to play dress-up.  Her talking is really coming along, and other people besides me are starting to be able to understand her.

I promise I will post some pictures soon.  I have lots of them saved on both cameras and my phone, and need to upload and organize them. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Houston Blogger Meet-Up

I had the privilege of meeting some amazing women Tuesday night in Houston.  Georgia Getz, AKA Bossy, was coming through town as part of her (No Book) Tour, and a meet-up was arranged at Cafe Brazil by Karen.  I was nervous about driving into the city to an unfamiliar place, to meet total strangers.  That worry was immediately dispelled when I met these women.  We grabbed some drinks, headed out to the patio, and proceeded to discuss everything from Texas barbecue to clown porn (still shaking my head at that one). 

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I really fit in with these women.  It was kind of a surreal experience, considering there was a cameraman circling around the table (Hi, Niko!), and it was so cool to meet someone whose writing I had been reading for several years.  This was one of those times when I wished that we lived in the city, so that we would have more opportunities to hang out with like-minded people and go to different places.  Homogenized suburbia starts to get old after a while, and I feel like The Woodlands is getting more conservative by the day.  That's a story for a different day, though...

Anyway, you can read more about the meet-up here and here.  I hope that I have another opportunity in the near future to do something like this again.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Failing at Life

I'm still here, but have had to eliminate anything that is not absolutely necessary from my life lately. I don't talk on the phone, don't watch much TV, and don't leave the house unless I have to. I sure hope I still have friends after graduation!

I'm really struggling with school right now, but can't figure out a better way to study. I think the biggest problem is that I can't study during my most productive time of day. I can do schoolwork until Zach gets home and I pick up Zoe, but can't get back to it until after the kids are in bed at night. By then, I'm tired, and it takes me so much longer to absorb anything. Thank God for Spring Break next week! My mind needs the break, but I'm so afraid that we are going to have some assignment to complete. I sure hope not! The kids and I are going to head to Louisiana to visit my parents for a few days, since Darren will be in Austin for his annual conference.

Did I mention that I was elected SNA (Student Nurse Association) President? That doesn't fit in with my resolve to not take on more responsibility, but I was urged to run by professors and classmates, and am enjoying the office so far. As long as I can delegate, things run smoothly.

I have so much else I want to write, but need to focus my energy on getting my schoolwork done for class tomorrow. I'll be back soon with pictures and more details about how my semester is going. I've been able to do some really cool things in clinical this semester, and I want to share some of those.

Until then, go and read Layla Grace's blog. This is a two-year-old girl from the Houston area who is suffering from Neuroblastoma, the same cancer my neighbor, Hans has. She doesn't have much time left, but it is amazing how many people are rallying behind her, and her parents aren't afraid to share how they are really feeling. Her dad was recently laid off, so there are lots of fundraisers going on to help defray her medical costs. Help out, if you can. Her parents also post a lot on Twitter, under the name @LaylaGrace. I'll be back soon...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Day

Well, the first day of school was interesting, to say the least. There were no pleasantries, no easing us into things. We started with a new professor who came from the upper level, and she seemed very unimpressed with us and our knowledge. She lectured in quiz form (hello, new material and first day of the semester!), so that we had to take notes from her quiz questions to complete the lab for Friday that I assumed we were going to get to ask questions about (wrong!). She questioned what we learned last semester, got snarky when one of our current professors tried to tell her what she was "reviewing" was something we hadn't learned yet, and never cracked a smile. Remind me to never be in a room alone with her!

After that fun time, we signed some papers, were reminded about SNA and all the extra stuff they want us to do outside of class in our free (Ha!) time, then we went over math questions that were sent to us in December. That was frustrating for me, because there was one question that the professor and a student struggled to answer for about ten minutes, but I didn't bother to raise my hand, because I don't work the math problems the way they want us to.

We went over the syllabus, other professors talked, then we went to lunch. After lunch, I had lab, and it was supposed to be on physical assessments and focused assessments. We walked in, and it was the new professor from this morning who was in charge of the lab. She attempted to divide us into groups of three by numbering off. It took several attempts, and we were all getting frustrated. One room was physical assessment,where other professors were sitting at different beds. The other room was where we had focused assessment scenarios. We all got into
our groups and started going through our scenarios. One person was the nurse, one was the patient, and one was the observer. We were to go through the scenarios together, trying to figure out how we would focus our assessment for a particular symptom in a client.

Our new professor walked around the whole time, but never stopped to check on
anyone, or to offer any feedback. After we had done three scenarios,
everyone went and kind of stood in line outside the other room,
waiting for our turn to do the physical assessment. It was 2:00 by
then, and the next group was coming in at 2:30. I was beginning to
worry that I wouldn't get out of there in time to pick Zach up. Four other professors were in that room at different beds with a mannequin. Apparently, one professor was just making them pretend, but I could see that two others were very thorough in what they expected.

We started to get loud (a few girls), and the teachers doing
the physical assessment were starting to get annoyed with us. The new professor walked over to another one, and they started having a discussion.
The only thing that I could hear was that our older professor was saying that
we would never finish, and why didn't we just do the skills check-off
in clinical, since that's where we normally do it. They sat there and
argued for a good five minutes while the rest of just stood around,
not knowing what to do. It was pretty awkward!

Finally, it was said that three of us at a time would be with a
professor. Another student and I went to one of the stations, where a student already was. She finished her assessment, we watched, and we were done. I
didn't get signed off, but didn't care, because I was ready to go. Strange!

Tomorrow, I have clinical orientation at the hospital, am off Thursday, and have two or three different labs to prepare for Friday. I learn to give injections Friday, and am excited/terrified. We'll see how that goes!

Zoe did not handle Mommy not dropping her off at day care well this morning. She screamed and cried, and apparently threw herself at the door as I left. She whined and cried all day at school, and had just woken up when I picked her up. She threw a fit because I wouldn't let her bring her nap mat home, and made herself limp so I couldn't strap her into her car seat. She yanked her paci off and flung it into the back of the car. A bag of chocolate-covered pretzels finally soothed the savage beast, and she was okay until we got home. She found her dress-up clothes, and threw a fit that her Barbie headband wouldn't stay on, and later had to be sent to time-out because she got mad and threw her toys. Darren's dropping her off again tomorrow; watch out!

Monday, January 18, 2010

What a day...

A guy I went to elementary school with passed away from cancer today. I hadn't seen or talked to him in over 20 years, but we had 65 people in our 8th grade graduating class, and most of us had been together since kindergarten or preschool, so we were all pretty close (whether we liked each other or not). With Facebook becoming more popular the past couple of years, most of us have reconnected, and I really enjoy that. I didn't have the smoothest of times during the junior high years, but that's been so long ago, and we've all changed. I've enjoyed getting to know these people as adults and parents, and am amazed how supportive everyone has been of Blaine these past 11 months.

Anyway, I don't have much experience with the death of my peers, and this is hitting me pretty hard. One other guy from our elementary school class died in a boating accident in 1994, and another one died in Austin a couple of years ago. The guy who died today, Blaine, just had such amazing faith and an unbelievable support system of family and friends. I don't think he ever married or had kids, and was an only child, and his parents were the ones to take care of him through his illness. Being a parent, I can't imagine having to go through the loss of a child, even at 35 years old.

I know I'll be hugging my kids extra-tightly today, and thinking about Blaine, and how his journey was a reminder of what is truly important in life. I won't be able to travel to Louisiana for the funeral, since my semester of nursing school classes starts tomorrow, and that's kind of disappointing, because I would have loved to see some of my old classmates. I didn't go to the same high school that most of them went to, and we don't have elementary school reunions, so I have no reason to ever see these people.

That's all for now...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Christmas/Disney trip slideshow

Happy 2010

I've been out of school for four weeks now, and every day, the thought has crossed my mind to post something on here.  Life has gotten in the way every day, apparently.  School starts back up for me next Tuesday, so there's no time like the present...

I spent the first week after I finished my finals in a state of disbelief that I was really out of school, and also getting everything ready for the kids' Christmas activities at school and day care.  We had a really nice neighborhood progressive dinner that Saturday night, and it was a lot of fun to get to hang out with our neighbors and eat and drink ourselves silly.

The second week I was out of school was spent getting ready for Christmas.  I didn't make many preparations beforehand, so that week was spent baking, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, taking a picture of the kids, and addressing and mailing Christmas cards. There was no time to just sit down and enjoy the holidays, unfortunately.  I literally finished wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve, just so the kids could open them.  My neighbor had baby #3 on Christmas Eve as well, so I went and spent a couple of hours at the hospital with her and another neighbor.  Since we were leaving to go on vacation Christmas Day, a lot of our traditions that we enjoy just didn't happen this year.  We did get a chance to take the kids riding to see Christmas lights a couple of times, but not nearly as much as we have in the past.  We didn't watch The Polar Express on Christmas Eve, didn't read The Cajun Night Before Christmas, and didn't get to wake up Christmas Day and leisurely open gifts.  Instead, we opened them the night before, ate homemade pizza for dinner around 9:00, then put the kids to bed.  Christmas Day, the kids opened their Santa gifts, we had breakfast, then switched into packing mode.  I really felt bad that we had to rush them and not let them enjoy the holiday, but we had somewhere to go!

After a mad dash through the house to pack, we made it out the door at 4:30, two and a half hours later than planned.  We arrived at my parents' house in Louisiana as the kids were getting tired, opened presents with them and ate some party food, then passed out for the night.  After getting up and loading up my dad's Yukon XL to the roof the next morning, we headed to Orlando, FL for our long-awaited family vacation.  The trip took 14 long hours, and included a stop at an outlet mall in Gulfport, MS, because Zachary somehow managed to lose his second pair of shoes.  We found a pair for him and two for Zoe at the Stride Rite outlet, and hit the road again.  We ate dinner at a lovely Burger King in Jacksonville, FL, and made it to the house we were renting in Clermont at 11:30 that night.  My sister, her husband, and their son were already there waiting for us.  I don't know what time we passed out, but it was late!

The house that we rented had four bedrooms, and Darren and Zach shared a bedroom while Zoe and I shared one.  Our room had two twin beds, and lucky me spent most of those nights with her in bed with me.  She still hasn't made it through the night in her bed since then.  She's cutting molars, which I don't think is too much fun.

Sunday, the 27th was our first day at Disney World.  According to a website that I had access to, Hollywood Studios was the park to go to that day.  I did want the kids' first Disney experience to be Magic Kingdom, but since we did choose the busiest week of the year to go, I figured we'd better obey what that website was saying!  The holiday decorations were beautiful, and the park was crowded, but not claustrophobic.  We rode the Great Movie Ride, some of us rode the Rockin' Roller Coaster while Zoe and Carter napped in their strollers, rode a Star Wars simulation ride, saw the Osborne Family Festival of Lights (wow!), and rode the Toy Story Mania ride.  By then, we were all exhausted, and called it a day.  I think the kids really liked their first Disney experience, though Zach is already past the age where everything is magical to him.  I am glad that he's not into characters, though, because waiting in line for photos and autographs at the parks seems to be really time-consuming.

Monday the 28th, we decided it was time to visit Magic Kingdom.  We managed to get out of the house earlier than the morning before, and arrived at the park around 8:30.  We rode Peter Pan, It's a Small World, and the Haunted Mansion before 10:30.  Natalie and Mom went and got Fast Passes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and we grabbed some lunch before the crowds got too crazy.  The adults and Zachary took turns riding Big Thunder, and by then the place was so crowded that we couldn't get the stroller through the crowd.  We left that area, and waited while Dad and Kevin saw the show at the Hall of Presidents.  After that, we walked to Tomorrowland, rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Ride, then saw the show at the Carousel of Progress.  We got Fast Passes for the Buzz Lightyear ride later, rode Pirates of the Caribbean and walked through the Swiss Family Treehouse, then decided to go back to the house and come back to the park later, minus the babies.  We stopped on the way back to the house and had dinner at Outback, then Darren, Zachary, and I went back to the Magic Kingdom.  We rode Snow White, Winnie the Pooh, the Haunted Mansion, the boys rode Splash Mountain (too cold for me!), and Big Thunder before walking through Toon Town to the Buzz Lightyear Ride.  We rode that twice, then went and rode Pirates of the Caribbean again before leaving the park.  It was so nice to not have to push the stroller around that night!

The next day, we decided to visit Animal Kingdom, since we had never been there.  We met my cousins there, and immediately rode the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride.  The kids liked it, but it wasn't as exciting for them.  After the ride, there are some trails to walk along and view more animals, and Zoe quickly grew bored.  She wasn't very impressed with the zoo at Thanksgiving, and it started to become very crowded there.  We were all hungry, and after Zoe's second meltdown while we were eating, we decided that she needed to go back to the house and nap.  Darren and I took her back to the house, and the others came back a few hours later.  I was disappointed that I didn't get to look around Animal Kingdom more, but it was really too crowded to enjoy it, and not exciting enough to entertain my two year old.  We had dinner reservations at the T-Rex Cafe at Downtown Disney that night, and that was a fun experience!  Zach was able to shop in the Lego store, and I bought some souvenirs as well.  We didn't get to walk around as much as we would like, because we were all tired. 

Wednesday, the 30th, we planned to spend a second day at Magic Kingdom, but decided to ride the monorail to Epcot instead.  We were able to ride Spaceship Earth right away while Natalie went and got Fast Passes for Soarin'.  We also rode the Universe of Energy ride, Journey into Imagination, the Nemo ride, Living with the Land, Soarin' (wow!), and Test Track.  Afterward, we went and walked through the different countries before leaving.

We had always planned to spend New Year's Eve at Epcot, because we had heard that it was the place to be.  Everyone was pretty burned out on Disney by that day, so Darren and I took the kids back to Epcot while everyone else did their own thing.  We tried to go to Magic Kingdom, but it was at capacity and closed.  We ended up walking through all of the countries again, Zachary did this Kimpossible mission with a cell phone, and we left the park pretty early.  Apparently when they close the Magic Kingdom, everyone gets diverted to Epcot.  It was so busy that we had to park in a ditch along the entrance road, and at 4:30, people were already occupying benches and available areas of grass to watch the fireworks for that night.  We got some really good Chicago-style pizza and took it back to the house.  Everyone was asleep by midnight...

New Year's Day the weather became really nasty.  We drove up to my aunt and uncle's house in Altamonte Springs, and my cousins were there, too.  We had a nice visit, and my aunt and uncle cooked a ton of food.  We hated to leave, but knew that we needed to get back to the house to pack. 

I think we left around 8:30 the next morning to head back to Louisiana, and ended up taking a scenic route through parts of Florida.  We purposely got off the interstate in Pensacola and drove along the coast, so we could see what it looked like in Gulf Shores, AL.  We vacationed there almost every Labor Day from 1988-2002, and wanted to see if the area had recovered from the hurricane damage in 2005.  It's grown from sleepy little towns to high-rise condos in the past few years, but the resort where we always stayed is still there, and so is the FloraBama bar on the state line.  I'd love to take the kids back sometime...

It took us 15 hours to get back to Lafayette on Saturday, and Sunday we planned to head home early.  However, someone had left a light on in my car during the week it was parked at Mom and Dad's, so Darren and my dad ended up having to go and buy a new battery for it.  I think we made it home around 8:30 that night, after stopping for boudin and cracklins at Don's in Scott, La.  Yum!

We hung out at home on Monday, and Zach, Darren, and Zoe all went back to school and work on Tuesday.  I spent last week cleaning and taking down decorations, and we went down to Galveston yesterday to see Darren's dad, stepmom, and sister.  It was a nice, relaxing day, and we had a lot of fun.

This week is my last week before I go back to school.  My goal is to organize my school stuff, get some assignments done, and get as much done around the house as possible so that life is a little easier once I go back.  We'll see...

I will be posting some pictures from our trip, and in the meantime, check out the Flickr sidebar.