Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back from the Bayous

5 days and 1600 miles later...and we're back from spending Thanksgiving in Louisiana!

We left bright and early on Wednesday morning because we had no idea how long the drive may take--according to other people and MapQuest, we were expecting about 10.5 hours.  The drive through Kansas and Missouri seemed to go pretty quickly...but once we hit Arkansas time seemed to stop.  Until we hit our first bayou outside of Pine Bluff and I knew we were in the South!!!

Two restroom breaks, one fuel stop and one McDonald's drive thru later and we landed in Justin's hometown of Hamburg, Arkansas--the home of basketball great, Scottie Pippen--after just 9.5 hours.  We stopped by to see three of Justin's brothers and their families...and I was able to finally meet my nieces!  I didn't realize it until earlier this week but I'm an AUNT!  I always knew Justin was an "uncle," but I obviously had a blonde moment about the whole situation...but I was pumped to meet the girls and I must say they're pretty sweet.  We've linked up on Facebook so I look forward to staying in touch with them!

Hamburg is a bit smaller than Clay Center...and like Clay Center, there's not much there.  So we headed into Crosset for supper at Popeye's.  I know, I know...not very gourmet but I'm a huge Red Beans & Rice fan and since we don't have the chain anywhere close to us, I was beyond excited!

The next morning, we--Justin, myself, his mom and youngest brother--headed to Monroe, Louisiana for Turkey Day...I have no idea how many people were there but his Aunt Rosemary cooked up a feast for us, Justin's brothers' families, all the uncles, cousins and their families. The food was never ending and delicious--nothing like a Midwestern menu but it was refreshing and I'm glad I already like southern food!

Justin and 3 of of the 7 Williams brothers--Marques, Jeff, Justin and 6'4", Marques is the smallest of this group!
After we were all done tearing into the food, our niece fell off the swingset and broke her arm...she was definately in pain but after a trip to the ER, a brace and sling she was back enjoying herself!  And we talked FOREVER about water parks and roller coasters...sounds like there might be a trip to Worlds of Fun in the future ;-)

Come Friday morning, Justin and I got up to eat breakfast and then do a little Black Friday shopping...little did I know that a traditional "Aunt Rosemary Breakfast" was centered around Fried Chicken (yes, Fried Chicken for breakfast--awesome!), biscuits, gravy, rice, scrambled eggs, sausage, smothered potatoes and I can't even remember what else!  I could get used to eating like that in the mornings..but I'm not sure if my waistline could handle that! 

Justin spent Saturday morning shooting hoops with Skyler and after lunch we had a birthday party for his baby cousin, Journey.  She turns 1-year-old on Tuesday so they had TONS of people over to celebrate--way more than was at Thanksgiving but it was fun!  After the party we headed back to Arkansas for the night and Justin showed me more of Hamburg, plus the park + after-school center that Scottie Pippen built for the community...And now I know where Scottie's mother lives as well!  Word has it that Scottie's living in Hamburg but we never saw him :-(

This morning started bright and early so that we could get back to Kansas at a decent time...Skyler is a Freshman at the University of Arkansas-Monticello and his dorm was about 1/2 a mile off the road so we dropped him off on his way was neat seeing part of the campus! 

After several more stops, we landed in KC around 2pm and ate some Gates BBQ for lunch.  Justin had never been there and it would be an understatement to say that he loved it!  He at almost an entire meat platter by himself!     

We made it back to Manhattan around 4:30 pm and have since been unpacking the car, grocery shopping, and turning on all the outdoor Christmas lights (so exciting!)...but now all I can think about is a hot shower and going to bed EARLY!!!

And for your musical enjoyment...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Warriors

We accomplished everything on our To-Do list this weekend! 

Friday night, Justin came home and said they didn't have to work on Saturday after all--yippee! So we stayed up late and watched Adam Sandler's Grown Ups to celebrate (yes, we're lame!)...and since I can't sit still for long, I put up the Christmas tree.  Personally, I love all the colors of the lights and decorations but that doesn't stop me from dreaming of eventually owning a department store tree!  We still have more indoor decorating to do, but having the tree up will bring so much cheer to the house :-)

Saturday morning came and I got up to run errands...and once that was over, I started some food for our staff meeting potluck and put up the garland on our fence. The garland is pretty wimpy and I wish the fence was already painted white, but it will have to do for this year.  However, the best part--everything cost just $15!  Thank you, Hobby Lobby for your awesome sales :-)

While I was at our staff meeting, Justin raked up the yard, bagged up all the leaves and cleaned out the gutters.  For having a day-off, he ended up working pretty hard...but that's Justin for ya.  I did have a quick break between some  meetings, so I put up the icicle lights along the porch railing...I just can't wait to finally turn them on!

Then today--Santa came!  That's right!  He noticed the TV we'd been wanting since March was on sale at Best Buy--and it was a pretty good sale, too.  It's perched on the bedroom dresser for the time being and seems HUGE compared to our old one!  Granted, it's only a 32" inch but it's much better than my old one from college.

After lunch, I started pulling out my garden. I'd been putting it off for as long as possible--just this past Monday, our pepper plants were still blooming and we picked a few big bowls full this afternoon. It was a successful year for our tomatoes as well...after pulling out the first plant, I found a bunch of fruit that had been concealed by the overgrown foliage!

And after removing all three plants, this is what we found!  Unfortunately, the picture doesn't do the quantity of hidden tomatoes justice.

Finally, we got around to hanging the rest of the Christmas lights...I must say, they cost more than I thought they would! Let me take that back--the lights weren't too expensive, but the darn extension cords were! Our outdoor outlet is on the back of the house, so we have to run a cord to the multi-outlet stake (it came with a built-in timer and being on sale, was cheaper than a normal outlet!), run a cord to the lights around the roof, run a cord to the lights on the south end of the porch and run a cord to the lights on the north end of the porch...we went from having 0 cords to 4 in a matter of minutes!

We maxed out our budget for the outdoor decorations but I still have tons of ideas for the dormer, front windows and garage.  Guess those ideas will have to wait until next year, unless I would happen to randomly stumble upon a bunch of money in the coming weeks!

After hanging the lights and doing some maintenance on my car, the outdoor work was finally done!  We were able to come in and defrost some--today's high was forecasted at 62-65* but it never got above 44* and with the windchill, it felt like 41*.  It was a bit cold!  But after some bubbly Tater Tot Casserole, leftover creamed corn and Jell-O cheesecake, we're ready to start packing for Louisiana...we're not usually fanatic about decorating for Christmas and I'm sure the neighbors think we're overzealous, but I wanted all the outdoor decorations to be done so we could return from Thanksgiving and enjoy them!  Now we'll just have to see if I can refrain from turning the lights on between now and when we leave...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pure Innocence

This has been quite a "unique" week with my 6th Graders...we're on the home-stretch of Life Skills and boy, are they disappointed!

It only took a few weeks for them to warm up to me, but it's obvious that the bond is growing.  They're starting to say that they don't want to see me go--and I gently remind them that I'll see them again when they get to 8th Grade...and some even tell me they like me more than their classroom teacher--and I quickly tell them that if they had to put up with me ALL day, they wouldn't think that way!  Especially on those days where I'm constantly splitting up students because my stern "Hey, guys!!!" with the evil eye has ceased to work...

Last Friday, as I was leaving a classroom, one of the more withdrawn boys ran up to me and gave me a HUGE hug before I could get out the door...and then he ran back to his seat.  It was kinda random but soooo sweet at the same time :-)  And I have another student who is constantly trying to establish a power struggle with me come up and give me a big hug in the middle of class yesterday!  I never would have guessed this student had a soft side to them ;-)

Then this past Wednesday, I had a student with a very serious question...I asked what his question was and he wanted to know if I had grown any since the previous week.  Umm, this took me off guard because after a certain age, you stop growing!  Turns out, this week was the first time I had worn a heel around them and since I had on long pants, the students couldn't tell!  Oh, the innocence of thinking a 28-year-old had a sudden growth spurt.

And yesterday--we were doing a writing activity when a student motioned me over to her desk.  I went over, asked what it was and she said she had something for me...oh, really???  She opened her hand and revealed a small, black rock...and she said she made it for me.  Last time I checked, you can't "make" a rock so I asked how she made it.  She quickly directed me to smell the rock--and of course all these horrible things start going through my head.  But the rock smelled like Sprite!!!  Turns out she smeared her Sprite-scented chapstick all over the rock before she gave it to me, thus "making it" for me.  Definately a unique gift, but it was so sweet of her!

At my last class of the day, I had another student ask if I wanted to see something creepy.  One, I don't like creepy stuff and two, what would a 6th Grader consider creepy?!  I said sure and turns out she could do a trick with her eyes...she explained it as, "You know how some people can run really fast?  Well, I can make my eyes move really fast!"  And how is that creepy?!  She showed me her eye trick and honestly, it was freaky!  She had some way of making her eyeballs literally start shaking...I've never seen anything like it before...I just want to know what made her realize she had that kind of ability!

My 6th Graders will be done with Life Skills in late January and then I'll be with mostly 8th Graders during the rest of the school year.  Something tells me the older kids won't be giving me hugs, rocks and showing me their tricks...but they have their own way of bonding.  I have one 8th Grader who knows how "spikey" my hair is from day to day, some of them have "favorite" outfits that I wear and then the boys--they're boys.  I've learned that with their age group, you can't call baseballs, 'balls.'  They go CRAZY!  Especially when I started talking about HITTING the (base)balls...but at least they're comfortable enough around me to laugh hysterically and it reminds me, that they're still a bit innocent themselves!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The 4-Letter "S" Word

Call me a grinch...but I don't like the weather today!  It started out as cold rain and has now turned into big, wet flurries of snow. 

It would maybe improve my attitude if I were able to stay home all day today, slip into some warm sweatpants, wrap up in a blanket and eat chili all evening long.  But instead I had Mitzi at the vet for her annual exam/shots before work this morning and the rest of the day is spent driving all over the county and running in-and-out of buildings for Life Skills...followed by a few hours at the CASA office once I get done at the school.  And to further destroy my wishes, we have no ground beef defrosted for chili!

Thus, the snow has become today's 4-letter "s" word!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Supposed-To-Be Dress

The past few weeks have just been I told my students on Thursday, if my head weren't attached to my body, I would forget where it was!  I prefer to stay busy because I can't handle being bored...but at the same time, I hate being so busy that my head starts spinning--and that's how life has been lately!

I finally had time this morning to get our Halloween decorations down to the basement...yes, I realize Halloween was two weeks ago...but the "decoration shelf" needed some attention and I would have to accomplish that task before adding our Halloween stuff to it.

In the process of sorting through the shelving, I found a picture of my "original" wedding dress.  I knew I had it tucked away somewhere but why in the world was it with the holiday stuff?!

The first dress was a cute little raw silk Ralph Lauren Green Label dress that I bought off of...yes, eBay.  It was exactly what I was looking for and it still had the tags on it!  Perfect :-)  But you all know the story!

And this is what it was supposed to look like...and because I am super self-conscious about some things, I will never, ever show you what it looked like AFTER it was butchered.  Let me just say, it didn't look a thing like this dress!

When Mom and I went dress shopping the week before the wedding, I knew I wanted something that would go with my birdcage, headpiece and peep-toe least that way I'd still have a "part" of my old dress with me :-) 

Ironically enough, I think the second dress has some resemblance to the orginal!  Nice and fitted but flared at the bottom...guess I always liked the mermaid silhouette but just never realized it!

Monday, November 8, 2010


We had quite a DIY Day at the house yesterday.  My birthday is tomorrow so I saved up my birthday money and bought a new ceiling fan for the Master know you're getting old when you look forward to buying practical gifts with cash you receive for holidays!

The "before" fan...the wicker inserts were hideous!

Justin and I aren't very knowledgeable when it comes to fix-its and other repairs.  The past couple of months, the ceiling fan in our bedroom started to get louder, LOuder and LOUDER...and it was rocking!  I was just waiting for it to come crashing down on us and the dog some night!  We eventually stopped using it and pulled out an old floor fan from the basement.

Figuring out what we would need from Home Depot

Mom and Dad were able to come to Manhattan yesterday and help with the installation.  We are BEYOND grateful for their help!  Well, Mom played with the dog which was a benefit as it kept Mitzy entertained :-)  If you know Dad very well, it's pretty hard to find a free minute in his schedule...some days I think I'm busy, but then I hear what all he accomplishes in a day's time and then I realize my life is nothing like his!

Justin had dust marks all over him--the fan was filthy!

Over the course of the afternoon, Dad and Justin were able to get the new fan installed, a dimmer switch put in the dining room and a new knob put on the front door.  It had been broken since before we bought the house and since the deadbolt worked, we really hadn't dealt with it...but when you have an extra set of hands to help, you finish all the projects you can!  We never got around to hanging Justin's massive poster that he was given after his final season at K-State, but that can wait :-)

We were glad to have Dad's help because we had no idea what to do!

And then came today's PIY project...yes, I meant to type a "P".  It transforms the acronym to "Pay It Yourself" and some projects automatically earn that tag!

The "after" fan--it's much more updated and super quiet :-)

We finally ordered our chimney cap and they put it on this afternoon!  It looks great!  The chimney had a few bricks missing off the top two rows--a definate eyesore--but since the chimney had no flue, we would find all sorts of things on the hearth...clumps of mud, rocks, bird feathers, anything that could fall from the sky. It was slightly annoying but also horrible for our utilities!  I'm excited to see how much of a difference it will make to have a chimney stuffed with insulation and topped off with a metal cap...

The chimney with its new cap!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Going, Going, Gone!

One of the things I love about Fall is the changing trees...there was an article in last week's paper about how all the trees are behind schedule this year because of warmer-than-usual temperatures and something about precipitation levels being off.  Our maple tree in the front yard *finally* began turning a few weeks ago and we just realized yesterday that it's leaves are disappearing as well! 

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Braking" It Down

Last Spring I finally broke down and got new tires put on my had been a long time coming but I knew it wouldn't be cheap to get 4 new tires put on.  When I picked my car up from the mechanic, he mentioned my brake pads were getting really thin and had about 2 months left in them.  With all the expenses of closing on our house, moving, having to buy additional stuff, etc the last thing I wanted to spend money on was my car.

By the time summer rolled around, my brakes were making horrible noises whenever I would slow down or come to a stop.  Ahh, what's a little noise, right?!  One day, the neighbor kid was replacing his girlfriend's brake pads and offered to do mine as well...he was a nice enough guy but I wasn't so sure about his mechanical skills and trusting him with my my ability to stop!

Finally this Fall, the noises got worse, began starting earlier and my braking was so sporadic.  Sometimes, it seemed like it took forever for the brakes to engage and then my car would suddenly stop...or, as soon as I hit the brake my car would come to a screeching halt!  It definately made for a jerky ride and I was always worried that I'd either hit the car in front of me or the vehicle behind me would rear-end me if I stopped too fast.  I finally realized that if I didn't get my brakes fixed soon, I would be paying out the deductible for auto body repair AND the expense of new brake pads.

I took my car to the shop yesterday and the mechanic started chuckling when I came in the door.  And as it turns out, my brake pads were pretty much non-existent!  Luckily the roters (I think that's what they're called) didn't need much work so I was able to get out the door for a lower price than I expected.

But the best part--my car rides better than it did when I bought it!  Both Justin and I always thought the brakes seemed a bit touchy when I bought it 3 years ago, but each car is different--right?  Instead of hoping & praying for the best when I need to slow down or stop, I just enjoy the smooth ride.  There's no more squeaking, jerking or sensations of non-existent brakes.  Had I known that I would see such an improvement at such a decent price, I would have done it months ago--when it SHOULD have been done!