hillarygayle: (Hottie Camera)
I've decided to import my LiveJournal account over here & start using Dreamwidth for primary again. Very few of the people I used to know on LJ are still there, and in any case I can & will continue cross posting from here. It's just that it makes me somewhat anxious for my blog to be housed entirely on some Russian servers, especially in the current political climate. I'm nervous I could somehow lose all of that writing, and I've been writing on this journal for literally more than a decade.

It's been 20 years to the day since I burned my hands back in 1997. That thought struck me this morning.

Today is for chilling out, taking the Christmas tree down, & getting the garage door back to where we can park Bryan's car in the garage again. Off I go to have more coffee! 
hillarygayle: (Hillary Dark Queen)
Yesterday seemed like a good skip day.

Ganon was supposed to be taking a practice test for the ACT Aspire, which is the standardized test they take at the end of the year. This blows my mind, because the Aspire tests whether a child is on track to take the ACT itself...making the Aspire a practice test...thus making yesterday's test a practice test for a practice test. The profound absurdity of that just really got to me yesterday, heightened by the fact that my son is TEN YEARS OLD. That whole thing about how we test them to death is true. Plus, having an all-day practice test meant that they wouldn't be covering new ground, so Ganon wouldn't have make up work if he missed. Perfect!

So we planned to go to Memphis to shop at Whole Foods and get Gibson's Donuts, but on our way out to the car Ganon lamented the fact that Memphis didn't have a River Market, because what he really felt like was Big on Tokyo from the River Market in Little Rock. I told him that my car was capable of driving to either one, and for him to pick where he wanted to go most. He chose Little Rock. This turned out to be good, because Bryan was in Russellville, having gone to a conference with a coworker who teaches the other section of Essentials of Programming. He rode with the coworker, so that meant we could pick him up!

Ganon & I went to the River Market for the aforementioned teriyaki chicken. I had chicken jalfrezi and Bombay chicken from The Indian Feast. They give you SO MUCH FOOD. I was so stuffed by the end I could barely walk. We went to the Museum of Discovery and puttered around for an hour or so, then drove off to Russellville.

Russellville is in the sorta central western part of the state. It's on I-40, west of Little Rock. This time of year, that's a gorgeous drive, taking you from the Ouachita Mountains into the Ozarks. The trees are just beginning to turn, not at their full height of color yet, but it was still beautiful!

When we got to Arkansas Tech University, we drove around for a short while battling Pokemon gyms and getting Pokestops. I would bring the gym down and then let Ganon put a Pokemon up in it. :) He was rather thrilled.

Afterward we went to CJ'S Butcher Boy Burgers in Russellville, which makes QUITE an excellent burger! I wasn't entirely hungry, since I'd been so stuffed at lunch, but I still managed to eat half of it simply because it was so yummy. Ganon got a grilled cheese with bacon, which he declared "excellent" even though he mainly just ate the bacon out of it. ;)

Have some pictures from a most excellent skip day!
Read more... )
hillarygayle: (Hillary Green Coat)
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

I've got a couple. My favorite shoe LOOK is Converse. I like the low tops with the elastic on the inside so there are no laces and you can slip them on. My favorite shoe for comfort are Sanuks, and I own 4 pairs of them. They don't have a lot of arch support, so I can't wear them for very long before I start to get plantar pain, but just for running around, going to the grocery store or what have you, they're perfect.

For work: Danskos all the way! Nurses are notoriously picky about our shoes, and each nurse has a favorite. Many of us favor Dansko. The first time you put one on, it's a little confusing. They're not soft at all on the inside; in fact they're quite hard. The arch support is high and very firm, and the top of the shoe over the arch is tight and hugs your foot snugly. The back of the shoe doesn't touch your heel at all, which leaves you feeling at first like the shoe might fly off your foot if you have to move quickly...until the first time you run down the hall. It somehow clings to your foot like supportive, comfortable magic. After 12 hour shifts, my back has sometimes hurt, my heart has sometimes hurt, but if I was wearing a pair of Danskos, my feet have never hurt. I've owned them in matte white (nursing school), oxblood red, oil slick black, and now galaxy (black with a photographic print of space overlaid). I've got a pair that I don't wear to work because they're flocked and couldn't have liquid wiped off them. They're a base of black with orange, gold, and red paisley over the whole shoe. Quite gorgeous with jeans.

Yesterday was the Daddy Daughter Dance at Valley View Elementary. Layla came over after school as usual, but she was scheduled to go to the dance in the evening. Courtney (my sister, Layla's mom) was scheduled to be in class until 5:30, so Nana was going to come get Layla to get her dressed up and asked for my help: if I could brush out Layla's notoriously tangled hair, she would appreciate it. :) I'm sure she would, as Layla is legendary in her dislike for having her hair brushed. I can't say I blame her, since it tangles so easily & forms knots so quickly. But Aunt Hillary has a spectacular bribery tool--the best, most well-stocked makeup vanity Layla has ever seen, complete with lighted mirror with multiple color settings. So she let me brush out her hair while we swatched almost every lipstick I own. We swatched all of the back of my left hand, then wiped it off and started again, eventually moving to the inside of my wrist. Then we wiped that off and swatched eyeshadows over a white Nyx eyeshadow base to get the truest colors.

She ended up not wearing any eyeshadow, which is mostly because she's 6 and I wouldn't let her, but also because I DEFINITELY wouldn't let her wear the one she wanted. She opened my Urban Decay Return to Wonderland palette and instantly said "I want to wear that one!" and pointed at "Heads Will Roll," a very vibrant turquoise green with heavy metallic silver flake! She ended up wearing a lip gloss from MAC that I can't remember the name of right now. It's a vibrant pastel pink with a high shimmer and a blue reflect. She also wore a very pretty pink blush called "Cherry" from the Gwen Stefani Urban Decay blush palette. It's halfway between neon pink and pastel pink. It was all very 6-year-old appropriate and highly glittery. I also used Lush's "Sunny Day" on her hair for extra shine. I refrained from mascara, because all I have right now is Urban Decay (can you tell I have a favorite brand?) Perversion, which is a HEAVY formula. It thickens lashes to the point where I'm sometimes asked if I'm wearing false ones! On a 6-year-old, I think I would MAYBE do a tinting mascara, if anything. When she's older I'll show her how to use the heavy hitters.

Layla looks at my makeup mirror

Only the beginning


Sep. 1st, 2016 10:40 am
hillarygayle: (Hillary Bright Cowl)
Much to my delight, Ganon has recently revealed he has a favorite book series! He likes the Geronimo Stilton books, which are about an anthropomorphic mouse that has grand adventures. The portion of the series that officially hooked him is the Kingdom of Fantasy books, but there are only 8 of them and he needs to branch out. I'm kicked out of the house this morning because Olga is there, so I came to the library to snag him some new books!
For the first time, Ganon has showed interest in a book series: the Geronimo Stilton books. He's excited for the next book in the series, which comes out this month! So of course I came to the library to snag more of them. Accelerated Reader goal, here we come!

I got 2 from the Spacemice series and one from the Thea Stilton series.
At first glance, I didn't like these font changes. After I read a few pages & gauged my own reaction, though, I realized that for some kids (Ganon included), these illustrations & emphasized words are actually keeping his attention on the book and drawing his eye down the page and toward the important words.

Upon first looking inside one of the books, I was disappointed. The weird changes in font and the illustrations on every page irked the book snob in me. I watched him read a page, though, and read a few myself to examine my own responses, and I figured something out. In his case, the font changes and photos are keeping him engaged by drawing his eye to the main points of the story. For him, it increases his ability to pay attention to the book. I was sold at that point.

What really surprised me is that he KNEW the 9th book in the series was coming out soon, and he's eagerly waiting on it. This from a kid who has always ever been just "blah" about reading, and acts like we're killing him when we make him read for 30 minutes a night. He's already doing well on his Accelerated Reader goal at school, and we're well on track to meet his 22 point goal by October. I've already challenged him to beat that goal.

This is another parenting lesson for me. Kids aren't little clones of their parents; I knew that logically before he was ever born. But somehow, I keep being surprised at the ways he's different from me. The very first one was his cautious nature. I may have been that way when I was young; I don't quite remember. I know I was reserved, but I don't recall being as outright fearful and sometimes anxious as he is, and I am certainly nothing like fearful now. Years ago when I realized that, I had to adjust. I'd always thought I'd have a kid who would sail off on their own & I might sometimes have to restrain them. I never expected I'd have a kid I had to PUSH to find interests and achieve goals. Reading has been another adjustment. I read voraciously from the moment I learned how. Little Golden books turned into chapter books, which turned into Nancy Drew books, which turned into other novels. I would read anything I could get my hands on. I read so much it was constantly remarked on by my family, none of whom ever had a particularly literary bent. Again, I never expected to have a child who had to be told to read something, and then acted like it was a chore. That's a profoundly alien concept to me!

So. Another adjustment for me, and I'm thrilled that he's found something that interests him. Bryan was not much of a reader when he was young, but discovered comics in his preteen years, and his progression into an avid reader was similar to mine, only it happened a little older. Maybe Ganon will follow a pattern similar to Bryan's, and this is his start! He could not possibly have a more supportive Mama. ;)
hillarygayle: (Hillary Red Polka Dots)
Between being told I've held interesting jobs (hi, [livejournal.com profile] spikesgirl58!) and making a list of things I've experienced that I don't think are common, it occurs to me that some of you might be interested to know what my family does and is like.

From the time I was born (1979) until I was about 10, my parents were farmers. Both were children of rural farmers here in Arkansas, where we grow cotton, soybeans, and in very specific areas of the state, rice. I grew up on a farm, and most of the fields around me were planted with rice & soybeans (sometimes corn, but not much). On the other side of Crowley's Ridge, where the soil is sandy, other folks grew cotton. When I say "rice field," we are talking about single fields of several hundred acres. Because of this, I grew up with massive tractors as playground equipment, and I know what kind of dirt makes the best mud. ;) We actually figured out on our own how to mix grass into clay to make decently strong bricks. I would actually be pretty handy to have in an apocalypse, for that and various other reasons! Also on this farm lived my dad's parents, Grandpa Hoyt & Grandma Wanda.

Side note: Hoyt & Wanda also had an older son, my uncle Aaron. Aaron is married to Ginger...who is my mom's sister! So a set of sisters is married to a set of brothers. This is either very easy to explain to strangers (i.e. "hey my grandparents were like that!") or very, very difficult (i.e. "...oh my gawd. Are you inbred?" and I have literally had to DRAW A DIAGRAM to prove that I wasn't). Their sons may as well be my other 2 brothers; I don't think of them differently from my own siblings at all. This goes a little toward explaining why, when I say "my immediate family" I am talking about 14 people...not including the youngest generation. That's my parents, my aunt & uncle, my 2 siblings and I, my 2 double-cousins, and all of the siblings/cousins spouses.

My dad never really loved farming. When I was 10, what had long been a pie-in-the-sky dream for him became a reality, and my family opened their own business. It was called the Wood Knot Shop, and they sold unfinished furniture. This sounds weird until you know that my dad has always had an incredible talent for finishing wood: whether it means plain, bare finishing, technique finishes like antiquing & distressing, or stunning faux finishes that make the wood look like another substance entirely. My mom is naturally extremely artistic, and together, they figured out how to make this happen on furniture. They were the only people in the market doing this, and everyone who lived in this town at that point knows someone who had work done by my parents. My aunt & uncle held regular jobs (my uncle was a firefighter & paramedic--worked his way up from driver to chief in his career before he retired), but also worked in the store as sales, as did my Grandma. Papa Hoyt farmed until aplastic anemia got the better of him & he retired.

After about 10 years, it became clear that the furniture store was becoming the side business, and doing interior custom finishing work (on kitchen cabinets, fireplaces, etc) was what the market wanted, and what my dad preferred doing anyway.  They sold the furniture store itself and became John Keller Custom Finishing. They do custom builds if someone needs something an odd shape or size. They match new work to existing. Some of the before & after photos on their website are amazingly dramatic. My aunt & uncle, both retired now, work with them part time. They all think outside the box to come up with the most unexpected, creative solutions and designs to things. If you are stuck on a deserted island, these are the people you want with you. If they can't built a boat to get you away from the island, at least you'll be living in a bamboo mansion which somehow has running water and ceiling fans.

So, when I talk about Redwood House, and say that we need to drastically remodel a kitchen, remove a wall, build a kitchen island, reroute the plumbing, and paint the living room, and I say it like it's no big deal--this is why! I was literally born into an interior design crew! I have never lived in a house with plain, white walls. When I went to college, my dorm room had custom over-the-desk shelving that my dad built to better utilize the space. My current kitchen is probably a $10,000 remodel...and all we paid for were the materials. I intend to TRY to pay them for their labor in the Redwood House, but they're not gonna take it. e_e It's not all perfect; they love what they do, but they dislike the uncertain nature of owning your own small business. As I grew up, they always told me "Don't work for yourself. You can never leave work if you do."

So there you have it! What my parents do for a living, and how that's had a bigger impact on my life than you'd think!
hillarygayle: (Hillary Top Hat Flowers)
1. What is a favorite Christmas/Hanukah tradition of yours?
I might say my favorite thing about Christmas married to Bryan is that we DON'T have any stressful, must-do, gift-giving related traditions. We don't get each other gifts and we get Ganon very little (because he gets so very much from Bryan's parents as their only grandchild).

I DO watch Muppet Christmas Carol yearly, though. THAT is one of my super favorite Christmas traditions. Best Christmas movie in the world.

2. Do you listen to Christmas music while wrapping/bagging gifts?
I do. I'm a sucker for holiday music.

3. How soon do you start playing holiday music?
November. Usually it's before Thanksgiving; to me, Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's make up a "holiday season" and are one major reason that "happy holidays" is my phrase of choice.

4. If you could change one thing about the holidays, what would it be?
I'm not into gift-giving, nor do I like having to tell people what I "want for Christmas." The first one is stressful as I try to figure out what other people might want (this is easy for some, dead impossible for others), and the second one feels selfish. I wish we could all just agree to have experiences together rather than buying stuff.

5. Have you been naughty or nice? Remember, Santa is listening.
Well if Santa has been listening to me, he's been hearing a lot of cursing because I'm a doctoral nursing student and I work in the ICU for clinical. There's a buncha cursing involved. However, I have dedicated my career to saving other human lives and in my downtime I organize a group who does random "do-gooder" stuff for the less fortunate, so hey. Maybe that gets me some points. ;)

Yesterday. Wow. That was the longest Christmas Eve I have EVER EXPERIENCED, but it was absolutely worth it.

Christmas Eve Eve
This day was Creechmas! We opened gifts in the evening after we picked up my car. Ruby Rhod is everything I wanted her to be. I will miss Leeloo; she was an incredible car and exactly what I needed when I needed her. She was the perfect car for the person I was. The person I am needed Ruby, though. I'm happy. Highlight of the day: Ganon was inspecting all of the things Ruby can do (Bluetooth phone connection, heated seats, sunroof, the fact that you literally cannot lock the keys in the car because the presence of the key fob allows you to auto-unlock!), and exclaimed "I will miss the Element, but this is the high tech-est thing I have ever seen!"

Final selfie with Leeloo. Man, I hope she goes to someone who loves her as much as I have. Such a great car.

Final selfie with Leeloo

Selfie with the new car, Ruby Rhod! Honda HR-V EX AWD. Ganon quote "I miss the Element, but this car is the highest tech thing I've ever seen!"

First selfie with Ruby Rhod

I had no idea what to get my in-laws, but fortunately an opportunity presented itself. My mom-in-law Christy is stressed about the number of people (and which specific people) are coming for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. After she & Walter went to bed on the 23rd, it occurred to me what we could do...so we cleaned up the entire downstairs of the house. Ganon & Bryan & I all pitched in, and if I do say so myself, we got it seriously looking nice. My goal was for Christy not to have to lift a finger before guests, and I think it worked! They were both so impressed when they came downstairs & saw what we'd done. I was pretty impressed with my inspired gift. What do you get someone who has everything they want? The opportunity to NOT do something they DIDN'T want to do! :)

In addition to my car, which I feel was a fantastic Christmas present, I got a Mophie Juice Pack case for my phone (in lipstick red to match my car!), the Urban Decay Gwen Stefani eyeshadow palette (OMG I WAS SO EXCITED) and the greatest cardigan Think Geek has ever produced.

This cardigan, y'all!!! #agentsofshield #thinkgeek #geek #femme

Christmas Eve
Yesterday was an early-ish (8am) breakfast at a place called Jake's Uptown in Frisco, which had Oatmeal Pancakes. DIVINE. I want the recipe. We loaded Ruby (Bryan is incredible at packing cars) and set out on the 7-8 hour journey home. There was a short stop at Texarkana so I could buy some stocking stuffers for Ganon; we are getting him a "coupon" for his own bicycle but we want to let him pick it out. I wanted him to have SOME surprises.

That stop left us running late, so we didn't go home first. We went straight to my Aunt G/Uncle A's house when we drove into town at 18:50 for the Keller family Christmas, at which there was AN INSANE AMOUNT OF DELICIOUS FOOD as always because my family can Straight. Up. Cook. Home afterward for about 20 minutes, then I headed to church at 21:45 for midnight mass practice, and sang nearly the entire time from 21:45 to 00:30. It was a BEAUTIFUL service. So much music; we sang almost every Christmas song I know. The candlelit "Silent Night" was beautiful. We had the choir, a handbell choir, a brass quintet and even Dr. Bill playing the violin. I'm so happy we did that.

At home we filled Ganon's stocking, put a few small gifts under the tree, & headed to BED.

Christmas Day
So far this morning, J has come over for his 2nd testosterone shot, which he gave himself this morning with a ton of encouragement & some instruction! At 1:30 we have lunch at my Aunt Mary Gaye's house, and then supper is going to be "breakfast for supper" at my mom's, where the nieces & nephews will open their gifts and I will have begun World War III with Nerf weapons. Best aunt ever.

Tomorrow for Boxing Day, we are "dessert bombing" Two Saints kitchen with so many Christmas desserts.

I hope you are having a lovely Christmas, LJ. Mine is delightful, even if I will need some rest after it's all over.
hillarygayle: (Kero-chan TEETH!)
1. What pets do you have?
Currently we've got 3 dogs: Sam, Pete, and Harry. Sam is a fox terrier of questionable breeding, Pete is a rat terrier of uncertain origin, and Harry is a mutt of impeccable heritage. :)

2. Have you always had pets, even as a child?
Yes. The first pets I recall getting were 3 cats: Ginger, Gigi, & George. They started breeding & quickly turned into about 14 cats. These were all neutered or mysteriously vanished (I was young & didn't notice; we lived on a farm with coyotes all around so this was probably not that mysterious). After that, I was in 4th grade when we got a dog; a stray who'd been dropped off with the rest of his litter at the vet. His name was Marty & as it turned out, he was supernaturally smart. He lived for 13-ish years. I miss that dog almost daily.

3. What was the most unusual pet you’ve ever owned?
That honor might go to Willie the ferret, or perhaps Taco the golden chameleon.

4. Do you ever pet sit?
No. Other people's pets are like other people's kids; they're great in theory but in reality they tend to make me uncomfortable.

5. How would you finish this statement, “You know you are a pet owner when _____?”
You find the 35th thing chewed up around the house and you wail "TELL ME WHY I HAVE DOGS AGAIN?"

As it turns out, next Friday, Ganon & Bryan don't have school! That's the day of the nurses' convention and I'd planned on spending Thursday night in Little Rock. This means Bryan & Ganon can come with! After the convention is over we will have a fun day hanging out in the big city.

Next week is going to be incredibly busy for me.

Monday: 12 hour clinical shift
Tuesday: Teaching health assessment all morning, 6 hours of clinical in the afternoon
Wednesday: 12 hour clinical shift
Thursday: Teaching BSN clinical from 7-4, then parent-teacher conferences for Ganon, & drive to Little Rock after Bryan finishes conferences at 8pm
Friday: Nurses' Convention all day until 3pm, then playing around in Little Rock! Probably we'll stay another night as well.
Saturday: More Little Rock fun! I'll deserve it. :)
hillarygayle: (Hottie Camera)
Something that keeps me from journaling every day: it seems like things happen all the time that make me think "Oh I should put that on LJ!" The problem is, then the NEXT thing comes along I feel like I should blog, & I get so caught up doing bloggable things that I never actually sit down to write about them!

Today is the first day of school for Bryan & Ganon. They're off, Bryan to teach & Ganon for his first day of 3rd grade. I woke up early so I could pack his lunch & then get an early start on my own school stuff.

Man, this was a really good summer. Got to do the Texas Two Step DMB shows, Wakarusa was fun (even if we did leave a bit early & hated the camping), week at the cabin, Blanchard Springs Caverns, trips to Texas, getting Q's car. We also got a lot of stuff done, like the sink in the basement & FINALLY hired someone to come clean the house bi-weekly. It was busy, but it was all good & it was the brain break I needed.

Now it's back to school, and to go along with the stress, I seem to be having symptoms of a gastric ulcer. Pretty textbook. *sigh* On the other hand, what we do to treat peptic ulcers (either gastric or duodenal) is pretty easy to do on your own: I'm doing a 2 week round of a PPI (like pantoprazole, omeprazole, lansoprazole, etc) and laying off the spicy & acidic foods. I guess in my head I knew that I ate a lot of spicy & acidic things, but I didn't realize exactly HOW much of my diet we were talking about. Almost everything I eat has red pepper or a spicy sauce in it. And of course coffee & juices are my favorite drinks & oh hey there, acid! I have cut myself down to a single 6 oz. cup of coffee per day, and no spicy foods. I ate noodles last night and only put like 3 drips of Sriracha in them.

It's nice having friends who have been through something similar or otherwise have super useful knowledge. Q & Jess are both way into tea, and Jess has definitely done this ulcer thing before. They both tell me that maté is a tea with about as much caffeine as coffee. It's quite a lot easier on your stomach though, so after my daily cup of coffee, I switch to a maté/black tea blend I've got from Celestial Seasonings. It's called "Morning Thunder." Next time I'm somewhere close to a Teavana, I'm going to pop in for some Samurai Chai Maté, which is a super delicious tea they always drink when we're there.

One week from today I'll be starting clinical with Dr. H at NEA Baptist Memorial here in town!

The caffeine has kicked in, so it's time to start on the directed study module for this week.

hillarygayle: (Ganon No Wai!)
Ganon is 8 years old today!

Birthday Interview

What do you want to be when you grow up: a moviemaker & a gamer
What's your favorite color: red
What's your favorite food: roffles
Drink: Mountain Dew Code Red
What's your favorite trip destination: Mimi & Augie's
What's your favorite toy: Birdy
What's your favorite video game: Minecraft
Favorite subject in school: I don't really have one except recess
Best friend: Bella from school
What do you want to do for your birthday? Eat at Teriyaki Madness
What kind of cake do you want? Chocolate peanut butter cake

Today we are going to an early showing of Planes with all of the cousins so I'm about to get ready while also somehow watching 3 kids.

0th Birthday
1st Birthday
2nd Birthday
3rd Birthday
4th Birthday (Apparently we were in Dallas but otherwise didn't do much.)
5th Birthday (From the 25th, since we were super busy on his birthday.)
7th Birthday
hillarygayle: (Hottie Daffodil Sunglasses)
I realized I have not been keeping LJ updated on the continuing saga of our microwave. I told it in bullet points in an email this morning, & I like that format so we're gonna continue it here.

  • Leave for Wakarusa

  • Get a phone call from Q saying the microwave is dead.

  • Come home, microwave is indeed dead.

  • Check outlet, check breaker (both of which Q had already done, of course).

  • Microwave is dead as a doornail.

  • Being the search for a new microwave. Don't find one.

  • Take a trip to Hardy.

  • Come home, buy a floor model microwave at Home Depot.

  • Wait 2 days for Daddy to install.

  • During installation, find that we are missing one vital piece for installation.

  • Go to Home Depot. Receive exactly no help & piss poor customer service.

  • Come back home.

  • Take microwave back to Home Depot. Receive better service but still no part.

  • Return microwave.

  • Do not find any other in-stock microwaves that are acceptable.

  • Go to Lowe's.

  • Find a great, brand new microwave on sale for $160 down from $260.

  • Buy it.

  • Wait 2 days for Daddy to install.

  • Open microwave, find buckling & denting consistent with very hard drop or fall.

  • Scream.

  • Take microwave back to Lowe's.

  • Customer service lady insists on return.

  • Bryan suggests exchange would be easier.

  • Customer service lady insists on return.

  • Return microwave.

  • Find that they have the same one in stock.

  • Take it to register, find that the sale is over & it's again $260.

  • Inform manager of issue.

  • Manager honors sale price.

  • Manager asks customer service lady "Why didn't you just do an exchange?"

  • Scream.

  • Bring home.

  • Wait one more day for Daddy to come install.

That's where we are now. So we have been an entire month without a microwave, and let me tell you, I did NOT realize how much we used it. Especially for leftovers. If you don't have a working microwave, leftovers are not nearly as convenient.

In other home improvement news, my basement has a sink! I have always been confused as to why it didn't have a sink in the first place. The laundry has always been in the basement from the time the house was built in 1979. With the house being that old, I can't imagine why they didn't put a sink down here in the first place. In the 70s, there were a lot more hand-wash clothing items & pre-treating stains was much more labor intensive. Plus, if you ever have to rinse something off or pour something out, you had to go upstairs. Not anymore! It took the plumbers only from 8am-10:30am to finish it, too. We were concerned it might be complicated by the fact that the tiny basement corner that contains the washer & dryer (and thus the water & drainage lines) is a reinforced concrete safe room. There was a possibility that drilling through the wall was going to be a giant pain, but it was ok. They had to use what they called a "hammer drill" but whatever. It worked quick, & I got a sink! It will allow me to rinse things out before laundry, pour out my cold coffee when I'm studying (I use the basement as my school "office"), but most importantly: the dehumidifier!

We have a dehumidifier in the basement. I notice when it's running, the entire house feels less humid. Problem was, without a sink down here, we had to use the dehumidifier basin & then empty it out in the washing machine as it got full. This meant it would never run more than 6-8 hours before needing emptied, at which point it would either turn itself off or leak (only a couple of times). Now we can set it beside the sink & run a hose so that it's constantly emptying into the drain, and it can run continuously!

We've actually been doing a LOT of great organization around here. Bryan is very good at thinking of organizational systems. We both create them. Then I am very good at maintaining those systems & tweaking them as our needs change. Ganon has gotten to the point where he can help us with things, like picking up & sorting his toys without being told each step to take. He can make his own bed now, as well. We made a toy organizational system in his room and we put a new set of closet organizers in mine & Bryan's room. It helped with a LOT of stuff.

I've also gotten someone to start cleaning my house every other week. This took a lot of hemming & hawing & wincing on my part. It triggers a LOT of feelings of inadequacy: why can't I keep my house as clean as I want it? The truth is, when the house is clean & organized, I feel much better. My mind is much clearer, I am less distracted, & I feel less foggy. That said, I'm not a very good housekeeper. I let things get cluttery a lot. When we clean up, we do a surface clean on an urgent basis, usually because people are coming over. I don't think about moving furniture to clean under it. I don't clean things up unless I can SEE the mess and it bothers me, or it's stopping me from doing something.  I do feel bad that I'm not the Tazmanian Cleanliness Devil my mother is. I feel guilty about it. But the fact is I'm not, and I decided to grit my teeth & shoot a text to a nice lady who came very highly recommended by 2 of my former coworkers. Any lady recommended by 2 nurses (especially 2 that I know personally) is probably a good fit.

Thus did Hurricane Olga come to hit my house yesterday while I was out. I figured she would be good, so I wasn't too fazed by the price she set me. When I came home, I realized I'd gotten one HELL of a bargain. The floors gleamed. Every horizontal surface was shiny. The bathtubs were so clean you could eat off them. The toilets looked immaculate. EVERYTHING looked immaculate! I was SO impressed.

She's going to come every other week. I feel like this is a great arrangement. So I'm not that great a housekeeper under normal circumstances: fine. But with Olga coming every 2 weeks, I will have a reason to keep the horizontal surfaces uncluttered (so she can wipe or dust), things put away, & laundry not overflowing onto the floor. Every 2 weeks it will be exactly this clean once again, and when something starts out clean, it makes you less likely to mess it up. Ganon made his bed this morning, & so did Bryan & I. I think this is going to be a worthwhile expenditure.

Yesterday I drove [livejournal.com profile] girlwithoutfear  the airport. She has a convention where she's going to sell jewelry in Nevada. There was a lot of going back & forth with [livejournal.com profile] asqmh & Bryan about things that Olga needed, & whether I knew where they were, etc. on the drive. But we got her there on time, & then Ganon & I went off to get my annual drug test for school.
We arrived at LabCorp (what a difficult place to find!) and went to the 7th floor...where they told me I couldn't have my drug test because Ganon was with me. What? It is apparently their policy. It's too "dangerous" to leave him in the waiting area by himself, but he couldn't go back with me & stand outside the door or come into the testing bathroom with me. I think the ladies genuinely started to feel bad for me when I asked why he couldn't just come in with me. "Because you might have him pee in the cup!" I must have looked as astonished as I felt, because they kinda started to sadly laugh.

"I guess if that's the policy, you must've actually had someone TRY that?!" I asked incredulously. They said they had.

Hating the world at that moment, I stomped angrily down to the lobby (Ganon apologized that he made me miss my drug test, & I told him it certainly was NOT his fault) and fired off some very colorfully worded texts to Q & Bryan to get my frustration out. Also Bryan usually has some great ideas. He was asking about [livejournal.com profile] thejessone, since she lives in Little Rock. "She worked last night. She's asleep," I told him, not wanting to wake her up. She sleeps little enough as it is, and when you wake her up she almost never goes back to sleep. Just as I hit send on that text & went back to scowling at the world...Jess walked in the door of the lobby.

I just stared at her for a second before my brain kicked back into gear. I called her name, and then she stared at ME for about the same amount of time. We both asked what the other was doing there, though in retrospect I'm the one who deserves that question more since she actually lives in Little Rock. :) We were both there for a drug test! Hers is for the agency she signed on with for travel nursing. I know she made my day for sure, and she told me that it made her day 1000% better that she'd met up with us.

An incredible accidental meeting like that certainly deserves lunch. We ate at Panera. :)
Tomorrow, Q & Bryan & I leave for the Lake of the Ozarks to spend a weekend with our friend Rob & his wife at their lake house! I'm pretty excited. It sounds like a lot of fun. SWIMMMMMMMMING! Games! Nintendo 3DS! Rob's cooking!
hillarygayle: (SGA Rodney Awesome)

We are in Frisco! We drove down yesterday after Bryan's class because we wanted to surprise Augie for Father's Day. He was definitely surprised. :) Especially as we showed up at 11pm.

Some amusing things from the drive:

Podcast: This week in the trial of accused mobster [some guy]
Ganon: Q has a LOBSTER?


Podcast: *talking about how cartels invented extremely high powered pneumatic gun to fire cans of marijuana over the border into some guy's field where they would presumably have been picked up if he hadn't found them first*
Bryan: Can you imagine that guy walking in his field and all of a sudden a soup can of pot slams into the ground at his feet?
Me: Guy looks up & is like "Um...thanks?"

hillarygayle: (Default)

My son, who has never known life without the internet or cell phones, and honestly can't even remember life without touch screens, is fascinated by the corded, touch-button telephones in this hotel. He keeps calling our room from Mimi & Augie's room.

hillarygayle: (Hottie Camera)
I had an amusing moment yesterday. I already posted it to Facebook, & I don't usually cross-post to here, but it's a pretty amusing thing across the board.

I was at the farm, swimming with Ganon, Jagger & Layla (my niece & nephew), & my mom. Momma & I were swatting wasps & yellowjackets with swatters. The lake that used to be there on the farm has been drained to make room for more fields, so the only source of water for miles during this drought is their pool. So we were smacking the wasps so they didn't get the kids. No big deal.

Until I heard a buzz different from the others. This was less "buzz" & more "droning hum". o_O I looked around for the source & saw the biggest wasp-like monster I have ever seen. I think I've seen mice smaller than this behemoth. I had my swatter raised, but it suddenly looked rather inadequate. I wanted to warn Momma of the situation, so I said "MOMMA..." and instantly heard in my voice that high, urgent tone kids use to get their parents attention when they're alarmed. Momma saw it and I saw my own thought process on her face, too: this fly swatter is NOT sufficient.

Instead she snagged Layla by the back of her jacket & said "IT'S A HORNET. OKAY, KIDS. BACK THIS WAY." We let the hornet have all the water it wanted.

The funniest part struck me afterward: that I used that tone of voice. Even when your kids are 33 years old & swimming with THEIR kids, you're still "MOMMA," complete with urgent inflection, when something hits the fan. ^o^

The highs have been in the 80s for the past 2 days! Today we edge up to 90 or 91 again, but it's expected to go back down. A local meteorologist (Ryan Vaughn, who is hilarious on Facebook) made the bold statement that he thinks we're done with 100 degree weather for this year. o_O! Either way, I'm happy for the respite. I can even officially start longing for cool weather. I got a super awesome black jacket at Torrid when we were in Dallas (thanks to their sale, I got a $60 jacket for $10 when all the discounts were said & done), and I am anxious to wear it. It's really structured & military-style so it'll look good with flowy, bohemian maxi-skirts. One of my favorite looks, for sure.

This week is Q's birthday! I work that day, & so does Jess, so we're eating pizza here tonight. Not a big deal, but sometimes you don't want a big deal for your birthday, you know?

Now, soon as the colder weather rolls around, there is going to be a fondue party in this house & THAT'S when we make a big deal of things. :) There will be all sorts of fun then, like bacon-wrapped, goat-cheese stuffed dates, gouda foundue, all kinds of wine, & possibly some pie. There will also be a general LJ invitation for those of you close enough to drive. ^_^ This fantastic shindig will occur sometime in September or October. LOOK FORWARD TO IT! :D


Dec. 26th, 2010 01:01 pm
hillarygayle: (Hottie Pout)
Bryan says it best: "We hang out for a few days with my family, have a low key dinner & presents...and then we drive for 7 hours home and run the gauntlet with your family!"
 Christmas Tree
He's not wrong. That's exactly how it happens.

On Saturday, after I got off work, we drove to Dallas. I "slept" most of the way, which is in quotes because Ganon was also in the back seat. This meant my sleep was punctuated with "Hey. Mama. Mama. Mama. Are you asleep?" I woke up a few times to eat & the rest of the times I just sort of dozed. Bryan was an awesome trooper & drove the whole way, listening to Wheel of Time on his iPhone. It was pretty uneventful, as Bryan had his entertainment, Ganon had his iPod touch, & I had sleep. Modern technology makes road trips SO MUCH better.

I spent Sunday sick! I ran a low-grade fever in the morning and I couldn't breathe all day. In fact, I slept most of the day, waking up at supper time, just in time for beef pot pie! THAT was nice. Sick in bed all day only to wake up to comfort food. Monday & Tuesday were better, spent shopping for Christmas gifts & generally going places we don't get to go when we're at home. I was irritated that the cell network didn't seem to handle Gowalla very well; I think it was so overloaded with people, you know? Booo. Christmas celebrations were on Wednesday, when we ate lunch & exchanged presents. We left for home at 5pm so we could spend as much time as possible with the Texas Grandminions.

I got a LUSH trip! Yay big! I got some Buche de Noel facial scrub & some Ultralight. Because of the mass amounts of snow dumped on Canada, the store only had what was out on the floor. This meant I could get a large bottle of Ultralight...or none at all. A large bottle is...rather expensive, but it'll last me all year. MAN, IS MY FACE HAPPY. If you're the kind of person who gets dry, extremely chapped skin in cold weather, this moisturizer is a great choice. I also picked up some light pink color corrector, which is this REALLY cool stuff: you use a dab of it in your moisturizer & it tints! You can do anything from a very sheer tinted moisturizer to a much more opaque one, like a base.

For Christmas I got a Sephora gift card (OMG YAY!!!) and this really adorable tiny Coach purse. Augie took Ganon shopping for gifts, and each of us seemed to get a Thomas playset. We happily shared these with Ganon. :D

When we got home, I slept all day & then went into work. Thanks to Bryan, I was the most popular nurse on 3 East...he brought me dessert from my mom's family party. Banana pudding, peanut butter bonbons, strawberry pizza, & pumpkin roll! Of course I slept all day on Christmas Eve, then went back into work. 

Work was weird on Christmas Eve. It's different: patients are only there on Christmas because they really HAVE to be. That means they're very high acuity, and there are very few of them.  Of my three, 2 of them were enough to make me worry the whole night.

Work got VERY bad about 4am on Christmas morning, when I found that I was actually in the staffing computer for Christmas night, though I had been promised I would not have to work both Christmas Eve AND Christmas night (it's hospital policy you only have to work one or the other). When I mentioned this to Carol, the house supervisor, she told me there wasn't anything she could do; my manager would have to remove me from the database. Before I left, I told Debby, the oncoming house supervisor for Christmas Day, that I would be calling in sick that night. Technically I could be written up for that, and obviously you can see why. If everyone called in on Christmas day, the hospital would be screwed. On the other hand, the people who work Christmas day are SCHEDULED to work Christmas day. I wasn't; it was sprung on me at the last moment. I figured if I was going to be written up for the first time, I might as well walk into it knowingly--but who wants to be written up for a call-in when it isn't their fault to begin with? Not to mention the matter of the policy.  All this outweighed my desire not to call my manager on Christmas day.  So when I got home on Christmas, i called my manager & asked her to take me out of the computer. She did, so no write-up for call-in for me!

I did not go to sleep on Christmas. I know, this is ill-advised, but I had missed all of my family Christmas parties up to that point. We opened gifts at my parents' house in the morning & had Christmas breakfast (biscuits & gravy, bacon, & eggs! YOM!).  I got some AWESOME red Dansko clogs! Danskos are all I ever wear at work; I have a matte white pair and a "petrol" black pair, which is black with an oil-slick finish. The red ones are going to look AWESOME with my blue scrubs. <3 I also got a "Shark" vacuum cleaner; it has bare floor & rug settings so I can use it all over the house. 

After all that, we went to my Aunt Mary's for a late-afternoon lunch. THAT'S where I got all the fun Christmas food I'd been wanting. Sweet potatoes, broccoli, rice & cheese casserole, yeast muffins, all the good stuff. I have TONS of leftovers, including all the sweet potatoes. :)

I woke up feeling nice & refreshed this morning...after sleeping for 15 hours. Not kidding. WOW.

December 26 is really starting to be one of my favorite parts of Christmas. We hang out, just me & Bryan & Ganon, sometimes going to the mall for a little return fun or to check out the sales. Sometimes we meet up with my family for a movie, but sometimes not. Eating is always easy because of all the delicious leftovers. Today I had aforementioned delicious leftovers for breakfast: a Cajun ham sandwich & a cocktail of orange juice & Mt. Dew. Ganon is putting together a Thomas puzzle & watching Thomas on the new Apple TV, which was Bryan's gift from Augie & Mimi. Funny how, given all the Thomas videos on Netflix, Ganon is making MUCH more use of Daddy's new Apple TV. :D I'm thinking about the Bath & Body Works sale. This is the week for the super huge "rubber duck" sale they do twice a year, and it's the only time you can get the classic scents like Cool Citrus Basil & Country Apple & White Tea Ginger. And today they're $3. This might be worth getting my lazy butt out of the house. 
hillarygayle: (Dr. Tran what's wrong with you?)
I have to work tonight, but as usual for my first day back, I cannot sleep. I'm finding this to be common among us night-shifties; we have no problems sleeping the days AFTER we work, but sleeping during that day BEFORE the first night, ick. We all lie in bed, blinking at the walls. Sometimes I try & stay up really late that night before, but Bryan is my problem with that. He likes to go to sleep at the same time; he really hates going to bed without me in any case, and when actually home it just makes him pout. :) So I always end up going to bed with him, and then I'm left where I am today: entirely unable to sleep during the day when I have to stay up literally until 7am tomorrow morning. 8am if you count my commute home...which you should.

The house buying is going well. We have officially jumped through all of the necessary loan hoops, and now we are just waiting on the appraiser to email his/her findings to the loan originator. We have done our part, & now it's just a "sit here until we hear back" thing. OMG I AM NOT SO GREAT AT THIS PART, AKSHULLY.

Work tonight. I'm considering taking up a few extra shifts here & there because of our down payment. We have enough to make it on the conventional loan, but it's pretty much going to decimate our savings. My parents keep saying they wish they could give me the money to make the down payment and I keep trying to tell them they're nuts: if we had to pay for the labor on everything they are about to do to this house to make it move-in ready...well, we couldn't. There's no way. They ARE giving us a lot of money--just not in actual dollars. Pulling up the carpet, refinishing the kitchen & bathroom cabinets, actually tearing part of the kitchen out, not to mention helping us move all our junk into the house & arranging it, and the help with walking through the house-buying process...what my parents have done for us is invaluable. Arguably we got the house thanks to my family: my brother found it with a sign in the yard, and he called Daddy. When Daddy called the "for sale by owner" number, it turned out to be a person he knew! They gave us first dibs on the house because of Daddy, & the fact that they knew us to be trustworthy & "good folks" because of him.

This time around, I'm in a position to try & do things in as environmentally friendly way as I can. I love hardwood floors, but instead I'm going with laminate: it has the look, feel, & function of hardwood but no actual hardwoods have to be harvested for vinyl laminate. Also it's cheaper than bamboo, which was my other sustainable flooring choice. Bamboo would've been my preference, but it's about $3 a square foot, where laminate is $1. I wanted to do recycled glass countertops, but the only place in Arkansas that does those is across the state, and I get the idea they might be massively expensive.

I'm just SO excited, and I hate this waiting game. I'm already thinking about having everyone over to roast marshmallows in the fire pit, hang out on the Deck of Awesome, and play video games in the den & Apples To Apples in the living room. I'm thinking about how I can line the den & living room walls with bookcases. I'm thinking about how I'll have to learn to care for & use a wood-burning fireplace & how excited I am about that. I'm thinking about how happy Ganon will be to have his train table in his own room now that he's got the space for it. I'm thinking how funny it is when he runs around "the circle"--from den to living room to hallway to kitchen back to the den. I'm thinking about sitting on my couch and looking out the window into my awesome back yard in all kinds of weather: sunshine, snow, rain. I just HATE this limbo we're in. I want to move forward! I want to start getting this done so I can get in that house!

And away from this farm. The last couple of months have had no rain, and the stock pond behind our house has dried up. This means there's a giant mass of dead fish in a dry pond. I WILL LEAVE YOUR IMAGINATION TO DECIDE WHAT THAT SMELLS LIKE. Hint: Bryan & I have been referring to the scent as "dead ass fish". This can be either "dead-ass fish" or "dead assfish". TAKE YOUR PICK. This is what the outside of my house smells like right now.
hillarygayle: (Anniversary)
Photos of our house at 2921 Turtle Creek Drive!

We will be replacing all the pink carpet with laminate flooring (probably Brazilian cherry or bamboo!). The den will be our entertainment room, our kitchen will be expanded into the dining room (we much prefer an eat-in kitchen), we don't yet know WHAT amazing possibilities the basement holds, and I am SO KEEPING that bad, incredible, chandelier.

Front Door

Pictures of my house! )
hillarygayle: (Default)
I like surprising people. This last week, I got the chance to BE a surprising person twice. :)

On Friday night, I got called off work at 5:30pm. I was pretty shocked, since we'd scrambled to find enough nurses to cover the patient load on the floor. Turns out they'd turned over the ENTIRE FLOOR that day: discharged all 30 patients and gotten 10 new ones. It just happened that way, but the odds of it happening are SLIM, so I was startled. Anyway, by the time they called me off, I was eating supper in San Francisco Bread Company with Ganon & Bryan. I remained on call until 11pm, so we decided to hang out for a while in Jonesboro to see if I'd be called back. Ganon wanted to play with the train table at Barnes & Noble, so while he & Bryan went back to the children's section, I stopped in the Café & ordered a pumpkin spice latte (love those darn things.)

There were 2 high school age girls sitting at the table next to mine, playing music on their smartphones. "I like this one," the first girl said. The music had Japanese lyrics! "Oooh, how about this one," said Girl 2. They went back & forth for a couple of songs, and then one of them started up a song I know very well: Moonlight Densetsu, the opening of Sailormoon. In Japanese. What else was I going to do? I started singing along loudly enough to be heard, and I kept singing through to the break in the first stanza. Both girls were GAPING at me. I grinned. "I've been a fan of that series since I was...younger than you, I bet." :D They will probably recall that story for years. Some random nurse in Barnes & Noble Café in Jonesboro, Arkansas, sang along with the Japanese Sailormoon opening theme song.

(I got called back into work later, to work on a different floor of the hospital. Booo.)

Yesterday we went shopping at Kroger. Bryan needed lunches (he takes frozen meals; quite fond of Stouffer's sandwich/soup combos right now), and we needed milk, etc. So we did our thing & near the end of check out, the girl running our cash register stopped, looking startled by something in our cart. At first I thought Ganon did something crazy, but then she turned to look at me & goes "Is that YOUR Dave Matthews Band bag?!" I laughed & said yes, & then showed her my tattoo. "Oh my gosh. We could so be friends." :D

Home again today. I go back in on Wednesday night. Right now I'm uploading a boatload of photos from the pumpkin patch harvest on Saturday. Got some very good portraits of my family, so I'm happy about that. Thanks to a coordinated campaign of harassment by my family members last night (I got Facebook messages & texts all saying "PICTURES PLZ"), I put up relatively small pictures on Facebook, just to get them up ASAP. Flickr will get my larger versions, since my in-laws like to snag desktops and print photos. I'll post as soon as they're up!
hillarygayle: (Hottie Camera)

More pics behind the cut )


Apr. 5th, 2010 01:00 pm
hillarygayle: (Hottie Camera)
Photo dump from our day yesterday. We went to Mammoth Spring, where my grandmother lives. It's GORGEOUS out there, and yesterday was a ridiculously beautiful day. We all went down to the river and hung out. Perfect time for me to practice photographing other humans.

Ganon hunts eggs

The rest behind the cut )


hillarygayle: (Default)

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