Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Never underestimate yourself.

So, astronomy, I have learned, is not just about the stars and planets. It involves some serious math problems as well. Keep in mind, I managed to survive algebra in high school and passed, just barely, with a D. This was back in the year 1994....14 years ago. I have never used or seen anymore stuff like that til now.

As I have said in previous posts, I have been fascinated with our solar system since Jr high....that is as far back as I can remember, LOL!! I have always wanted to take an astronomy course. Now, thanks to the help of pell grants (at least Kevin is good for something, HA!), I am getting to do just that.

Thursday night past, we did some outside observing and also worked on those 'math' problems. Mr. Nowicki posted a few examples, gave us a minute to work them ourselves, then talked us through the process. It seemed simple enough with him explaining them. As class-time winded down, he passed out a practice sheet containing several problems. Now, this is not the simple x+7 = 12 problems. That I can do. This is problems like: 56.0 tons = ____Mg (Megagrams), with you having to convert and calculate the answer. If you dealt with trig and geometry in high school, you could probably do this crap faster than lightning. It takes me a minute for my mind to grasp the concept and start grinding the gears. One thing you must take in mind: there are exponents involved in this too. Ya know, like 1 x 10 (to the 3rd power)! Now am I not only learning about astronomy, I am learning how to use a scientific calculator! Eek!

So, I came home and I ended up spending all weekend freaking out. I don't know how many times Kevin has heard me say: "I think I am doing it all wrong....I'm not going to pass my test Thursday night!" I started to put off doing the practice problems but decided I would give them a try. I still felt as though I was doing them wrong, so I decided I would schedule some one-on-one time with Mr. N.

I phoned his office yesterday several times. No answer, so I left a message. At lunch-time today, I had not heard back so I drove over to the Natural Science building. He was in a lab at the time but he did not mind talking to me for a minute and directed me to a 'conference' sign-up sheet on his office door. I penciled my name in for 1:30 and left to grab some lunch on campus. After I finished eating, I drove back over to the NS building and went into his office. I explained what was going on and pulled the practice sheet out of my notebook. He looked at it, pulled out his calculator, and went over them with me. I got all but one right! Only spot I oopsied ( and what caused one to be wrong) was where I had reversed the fraction numbers....putting on top what was suppose to be on bottom. Other than that, I did everything right! You would not believe the sense of joy, astonishment, and accomplishment that overwhelmed me! Mr. N kept saying how proud he was of me and how great I was doing for someone that had never worked problems like these before/in a while! I felt so dumb but, at the same time, I felt proud that I had figured them out by myself.

Now, Thursday evening, I can go into that classroom knowing that what I am doing is right and that I can pass the daily test....and the big exam that is scheduled for February 5th!

Wow, I feel great! Over and out!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Playing Hooky.....

I had to play hooky from classes today....not willingly.

We have been having issues with our car for a week now. We thought the alternator was going out on it last week. It started having some whining issues but eventually stopped. The other day, the battery light on the dash started coming on and going out. Kevin came in that evening from work and took it to a local parts supplier and had them check it out....alternator- charging, and battery-good to go! Mmmkay so what's the deal? Kevin tells me that he thinks it will be ok til this weekend, when we would have the funds to replace it (if it indeed was the culprit) and he would have the time.

I made it to school all week just fine and even made it to and from my astronomy class last night. I prayed the whole way home.....nothing was happening but I didn't think it would hurt to ask the good Lord above to help me make it home safely.

This morning, Megan asked to ride the bus to school so we all got ready to go. Kevin was already gone, as he had to leave at 4:30am. We pulled out of the drive and made it to the bus stop, then I realized the driver probably had already been by. I decided to just meet up with the bus, drop off Megan, and continue on to school. That's when it happened! The radio, which was off, began to flicker, the battery light came back on, followed by a light that read "ABS", then the brake light, then the engine light, then a light that reads "traction off". When that light comes on, it means you are almost screwed. The gas pedal apparently does nothing then except cause your motor to rev. The car is still in motion but at a turtle's pace. Thank goodness, and by the Grace of God, I got Megan on the bus. I decided right then and there that I was NOT going to school today. I would rather miss then get halfway and end up stranded.

I made it home and called my instructor. She was more than sympathetic, considering I never miss class unless my kids have to go to the doctor or come down with something that does not permit my attendance. I tell ya it sucks not to be able to go to class. It almost made me cry. I know to some I may sound stupid,
"I would be jumping up and down if I had to miss.", but not me. I take pride in knowing that I am bettering myself for me and my family and I do not take it for granite. The degree I am pursuing has a purpose.....and its purpose I will full-fill upon graduation.

One good thing did occur this week. We took our daily exam in astronomy yesterday evening.....I scored a 94. We took a break and resumed with notes and math problems. Wow! I never knew I would ever be doing math like that....EVER! I totally sucked at math in school. I barely passed high school algebra with a D. Those exponents and such meant nothing to me. Now, they do. Mr. Nowicki does a GREAT job at explaining the process. I could have made better grades in high school if he had been one of my instructors. He never goes on if you don't understand it. Questions? Ask away.....he LOVES it! Now that is an instructor whom I can and do show respect. After a few notes and math calculations, we all gathered outside and Mr. N showed us Venus. Ever gazed up at the stars and wondered what that extremely bright one was? It's actually the planet Venus. I learned that Venus has phases exactly like the moon. The phases are: New(which you cannot see since it happens only during the day), crescent, quarter, gibbous, and full. Venus was in the gibbous phase last night. Gibbous is when almost all of the moon, or planet, is lit....like there is a slight bit left untouched by light. It was very cool to observe. The next thing we saw was Orion's Nebulae. This is below the 'belt' in Orion. LOL It's actually the sheath or spot where the sword would go, if in his belt. If you have a good pair of binoculars or a telescope, you could actually see it. It looks like a cluster of stars surrounded by a blue-ish(sometimes green-ish) gas. You can't tell it with the naked eye. Fascinating!! I am so ready for next Thursday to get here!

I have got to go sometime this weekend and get things for a project. I also need a protractor for astronomy. I keep forgetting it! I have a nursery rhyme (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) on a regular sheet of printer paper that I have to take to Staples and have blown up to poster size. Thank the Heavens above that they only charge $3 for this. I have a ''rainstick'' to decorate and homework to complete as well. It looks as if this will be a busy, busy weekend.

Hope everyone's weekend goes well! Over and out!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chili....with a slight chance of fruit

Saturday evening, after Kevin got off work, the kids and I loaded up in the car with him and headed to the neighboring town to pay a bill and shop for groceries at Wal-Mart. Kevin and I had decided we wanted burgers and fries for dinner. We got what we needed: buns, tomatoes, pickles, and onion, with the exception of ground beef. I do not like the ground beef at Wal-Mart. It is too expensive, does not appear to be freshly ground, and has too much fat in it. The kids, of course, only wanted a lunchable each to eat. We got everything on our list, checked out, and made it safely home.

We got our food prepared and I sliced up a tomato. It was so funny! Kevin was preparing his burgers, then spoke up and told me I had better get over to the table and get a tomato slice if I wanted one, cause Chris was eating them up. I tell ya, this son of mine LOVES tomatoes! If my family gets together and the food menu includes a veggie tray, better hide it! Chris will eat all the cherry tomatoes off it!

Chris really tickled me this morning. While shopping the other night, we picked up a few navel oranges that were on sale. They were really pretty and I could just taste one as I stood there glaring at them. He decided he wanted to eat one for breakfast. I shockingly glanced at him and he assured me he would eat and not waste it. So, I got one out of the fridge, peeled and separated it. By golly, he ate every piece!!

I am so happy that my kids love veggies and fruits. This past summer, we could not keep strawberries stocked in the fridge. They went as fast as they were bought. Grapes, apples, broccoli, carrots, green beans, corn......the list could go on and on.

As we ate our burgers, watched tv, and talked about Chris and the tomatoes, Kevin's eyes suddenly got huge:

me: "What is it?"
K: "That just made me think of something!"
me: "Ok, what?"
K: "Some homemade chili would be good tomorrow!"
me: "Yeah that does sound good....call your mom and ask if she wants to make some."

So, Kevin calls his mom and she gives him a list of ingredients she needs. Now I have made chili before. I followed a recipe I found on Food Network from Paula Deen's son, Jamie. It was good but we wanted something different. Kevin's mom has the simplest recipe for chili but it makes a pot full. I don't have a pot like she makes hers in. It is a tall pot. Needless to say, it's now on my 'to buy' list....LOL! So, yesterday, we watched football, ate chili, and had great family time.

Here is the recipe for anyone that may want to try it. Now since it makes a lot, you can buy the gallon size freezer bags and pour the rest in the bags and freeze it for later.

Easy Chili

2-3 lbs ground beef (depends on how much you want in it...can also use turkey)
5 cans light red kidney beans, do NOT drain (can use less if you don't like them)
1 large can tomato juice
2 cans (15oz) tomato sauce
1 large can whole tomatoes, do NOT drain
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 med onions, chopped (can use less if you prefer)
2 pkgs chili seasoning
chili powder (use this to taste)

Brown meat, onion, and bell pepper. You can add salt and pepper to this while cooking. Drain well. Pour into large stock pot. Add beans, tomato juice, tomato sauce, tomatoes and chili seasoning packets. Stir and mix well on medium high heat. Let mixture come to a simmer and continue cooking on medium/low heat for about 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add chili powder to your liking....however you think chili tastes.

Since this makes a lot, we added a lot of chili powder. Just sprinkle and taste til the flavor is how you like it. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and crackers and eat up! It was so good, I ate 2 bowls full. I think Kevin ate 3 bowls of it! It sure was filling on a day like yesterday.

Over and out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Odds and Ends

Well, it's Monday.....again! Is it me, or do the weekends just seem to zoom by now?

I am so sleepy. I think I need to go to bed earlier than I do. I don't think it would hurt any at all. I know I will need to do that starting in March. Since I am taking Child Development II, we have to have 20 lab hours of observations. So I am going to do mine in the childcare center on campus from 8-9am for 20 days, which means having to wake up earlier than I do now. I think once I get into the habit of it, and maybe going to bed a tad earlier, it will fall into place. I know this semester is going to be time-consuming with all the projects that we were told we have to complete. In the fall, I start student teaching I, which is exciting! We actually get to work with the kids in the centers more. I am so thrilled about this major! I can't wait til my graduation in May 2010.

I think we are a little closer to getting things settled with our house. I hate to give it up, but sometimes you have no choice. I told Kevin that I just want to move and forget that those certain relatives ever existed. It really sucks that folks would do family like that. Heck, they knew we couldn't come up with that high amount of money that was left owed on the property. It took an act of Congress, practically, to even get the loan we got on this house.....and that's because it is a manufactured home. They say now that we should have gave them something, anything, as a payment. Yeah, right! I wish Kevin had recorded all those times when he told them he couldn't pay what they wanted that week and their refusal of those payments of 'something, anything'. I honestly believe they did this so they could give their daughter and grandchild a place to live. She left her husband and is currently residing with them. So they go and file for foreclosure on us.....and didn't even acknowledge the fact that we paid them anything on the remaining balance. Crappy, huh? Really, I am kinda glad that we may be able to relinquish ourselves of this place. The school district it is in is not a school I want to send my kids to and the home itself is steadily falling apart. I am not sure if we will ever 'buy' another home or just rent for the rest of our lives. All I know is that I want a place for my kids to lay their heads at night. That is all that matters to me now.

I woke up Friday morning feeling kinda blah. My head felt all gooky, my eyes burned, and I was not very balanced. My throat felt kinda scratchy and I figured I was about to be really sick. One of my instructors had been complaining about sinus problems on Wednesday and I guess it was about that time for me too. I hadn't been sick in a while. Now I feel more tired than usual and I have all this gunk in my head/nose/throat that doesn't seem to want to come out. My nose is all crusty when I wake up in the mornings and I just want to crawl back into bed and sleep til I can't sleep anymore. I tried to sleep in this past weekend only to be awakened before 8 am each day by my young son wanting milk in his sippy cup. Why dad can't do it is beyond me! LOL :) So I got up and made breakfast. Saturday morning, we had biscuits, sausage, oatmeal, and bacon. Sunday morning, I fixed us all a cheese omelette. Thank goodness I wasn't feeling that bad those mornings or I would have made them eat cold cereal....AHAHAHA!

Thank the Lord we are out of school on Monday, the 19th. That is Martin Luther King Jr.'s observed birthday, as well as the 23rd birthday of my baby sister, Terrie. I am the oldest at 31. We have 2 other siblings between us.....our brother, Charlie, who is 28 and our sister, Heather, who is 24. Dang, they are gonna catch up with me yet!

Ok I am out of here. Megan's bus should be getting close to the stop. Over and out!

Friday, January 9, 2009

One too many nuts.....

Today was exhausting. I have to get up early to make it to my classes. My first class starts at 9. I have to get up, shower, get dressed, fix Kevin's lunch, get Megan up so she can get ready for school, dress Chris, get everything together, drop Megan at school, Chris at the sitter, and drive to college. Whew! That was tiring just typing that! Busy mornings.....each and every day!! It is only going to get worse! I learned today that starting on Monday March 23, I have to be at school by 8 to start observations in the center again. I will have to observe a child from 8 to 9am every morning. These are all part of the field I am going into. Not to mention, in February, our trip to the Children's Museum in Memphis....which we will be leaving at 8am that day and not returning until 2/3pm, then I have my astronomy class that starts at 5pm that same day! Boy, I bet that night I will probably just collapse into bed!

Oh, sorry...just started rambling there! On to the purpose of this post. I think there are alot of nutty characters in this world....human and non-human. I saw two proofs of that this morning. They actually happened within seconds of each other. First, I was driving to school and noticed an elderly couple at a stop sign to my left. Well, I was heading north on this 3 lane street, and this other truck was heading south. As soon as this truck passed by the elderly couple, they pulled out and turned to head north.....right in front of me!! What was so nutty was that this old dude wanted to drive 10 mph UNDER the speed limit, then turn right into a parking lot about 100 yards from where he turned out! Are they checking eyesight at the DMV nowadays?? If not, I believe they need to start.

As soon as that old fart turned and got out of my way, I noticed something in the middle (turning) lane. It was a squirrel! I couldn't tell if it was hurt or what.....didn't see any blood or guts, so I assumed it was ok. Anyways, this squirrel had to have discovered and gnawed on a crack rock instead of an acorn, because as I glanced in my side-view mirror, it started rolling around!! I thought to myself: "What a heckuva place to be doing that!!" Now as far as I know, since I only glanced at the squirrel, it could have gotten it's head ran over and the body was just reacting because of the nerves. But I honestly did not see anything whatsoever that would make me think that it had been hit. So I just don't know. I hope, if it wasn't hurt, that it got out of the road safely.

I had my first astronomy class last night. We started at 5pm and he let us all go around 10 til 7. Mr. Nowicki mentioned that the campus bookstore closed at 7, and since some folks didn't have their textbooks yet, he would allow us this early leave so they could collect them. As we were preparing to leave, he spoke up and said, "I will walk out with you guys and show you a few things." As we got outside and let our eyes adjust, he pointed out the stars in the 'Orion' constellation. He motioned for us to cast our eyes upward from the left top star of that constellation toward another ball of light. He asked, "I bet you all think that is a star, right?" The most popular answer? "Yes." "Well, it isn't a star", he said. "It's actually a planet." Insert *gasp*, oohs, ahhs! here. Yes indeed, it is none other than the planet Jupiter. Interesting, huh? I thought so too. Wanna know an easier way to find this 'star'? Just go out and glance at the moon. Look just a tad northeast-ish and you should see it. Oh and we also learned that the Big and Little Dippers are NOT constellations. They are considered asterisms. An asterism is a group of stars that resemble a shape or animal. So cool! I am learning already and I am excited!

Ok I gotta go now. Will have to pick Megan up from the bus stop soon. Hope everyone has a great weekend!!

Over and out!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Easy, but exhausting, first day....

My classes started at 9 this morning. I have two classes that meet back to back on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, one that meets on Tuesdays, one that meets on Thursdays, and one that meets Thursday evenings. Five classes....19 hours credit. This morning, we went over the rules, as usual, and listened to our instructor talk about things and activities we will be doing over the course of the next 4 and half months. We got out 20 minutes early so I decided to head over to the college bookstore and pick up a portion of the books I would need. Some books are not in yet. I think I may try to find them elsewhere if they don't get them in soon.

At the bookstore, I got the books I could find, a grey hoodie with the college name in red on the front, a t-shirt/cap combo (also embellished with the college name), exam scantrons, and an academic planner. I walked about a mile back to my car....good education plus a workout all in one!! Ahahaha! Man, my arms hurt holding those books and things in the checkout line. Took me an hour to get in, checkout, and walk to my car. Oh yeah, dumb me left the headlights on this morning. I got to school at 8:20 and didn't get back to my car til around 11:30. I didn't realize it til I was walking to the car. I happen to glance at the tail lights and it looked as if they were lit. I remember thinking to myself "Oh dear God, please tell me I didn't!!" Then when I discovered I had, I grit my teeth, turned the key and prayed "Please let this car crank for me!" Thank goodness it did!! I don't know who I would have called, other than campus police. I believe I had an angel with me. Leaving the headlights on for over 3 hours.....that should have drained that battery down so low that it could not have cranked. But it did. *wipes sweat from brow* I made it to pick up Chris at the sitter's. He had just fallen asleep for a nap so the sitter told me to let him sleep while I ran to Wal-mart to pick up a few items for supper.

Now I am sitting here at home waiting til it is time to meet Megan's bus. Tomorrow I will have to drive back after my first class in order to pick Megan up from school and drop her off at the baby-sitter's, where Chris will already be, then drive back to school for my Astronomy class. I know he will be glad to see her too. He so wanted her to stay with him at the sitter today. Poor kiddo! We have gotten out of our routine so bad that he cried this morning as I was dropping him off. Oh well, next semester I hope to have him enrolled in the early childhood center at the college I attend. I think it will help him prepare for kindergarten.

Ok well I need to go. Ciao!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Walkin' In Memphis...part 3

These are some photos I took while we were out walking on Beale Street and riding the trolley car. Enjoy!

Click to play Walkin' In Memphis
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Clint and Bethany's Wedding

Click to play December 28, 2008
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**Edit** For those that don't know....Bethany is my hubby's cousin. Her wedding day was the first time he has seen her since she was small. Her dad (his uncle) passed and she and her mom had moved away and lost contact with them. Their aunt, Tressa, located Bethany about a year, maybe less, ago on Myspace or Facebook....can't remember which one. Isn't internet a splendid thing?? LOL