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Friday, December 16, 2011

I Did it!

Wow, has it really been six weeks since I last posted?

In my last post, I was preparing to start this year's NaNoWriMo. I'm sorry to say I did not win this year. Didn't even come close. But I'm not mad -- I had great reasons for my failure.I finished my first semester of college this week, and all during NaNoWriMo I was dealing with tests and research papers and homework... I was feeling a bit harried and overwhelmed, and honestly, school was infinitely more important to me than NaNo.

Officially, classes ended last week, but I had final exams this week. Just moments ago, my last grade posted, and I'm really really really excited. These grades aren't official, and they won't be until they're posted in the school system. Official grades are scheduled to post on December 23. Unofficially, though, I ROCKED this semester!

I think back to this summer, and my anticipation for starting school. When I say anticipation, what I really mean is abject terror. I was so scared! Scared of trying to tackle schooling again after being out for so long. Scared of being so old -- a combination of fear of the old dog/new tricks adage and of being the crusty old oddity in classes that garners attention for all the wrong reasons. Mostly, though, I was scared of failure.

My reality was so different. So much better. My terror forced me to work harder. I busted my but to avoid that failure. And I found that after the first week or so, I really didn't much care if I was the oldest in class. Once I got into the school groove, I was too busy with assignments to worry about what others thought of me. It didn't matter. I also discovered that as long as I applied myself, as long as I studied and worked hard, I didn't need to worry about being out of school for so long. I was able to do the work. I was able to take the tests. My result was the polar opposite of failure.

Now for my grades. I had two classes that graded on the regular 100 point scale, and two classes that graded on a 1000 point scale. My goal was straight A's, which means a 90-100 on the 100 point scale and 900-1000 points on the 1000 point scale.  Here are my results with the 1000 point grades in blue, and the  100 point grades in green:

Introductory Psychology (PSYC 1101):  1010 points
Composition & Rhetoric (ENGL 1101): 99.76 
College Algebra (MATH 1111):  99.3
Introduction to Computers (COMP 1000): 1120 points

You see that?  ALL A'S! Yes, I'm proud of myself. And now that the semester's over, I'm taking this time to lay back and rest before the next semester starts on January 17th.

Monday, October 31, 2011

30 Days of Insanity

It's that time of year again. It comes 'round every November. For a month, I'm either buried in my laptop or huddled in a corner with a spiral notebook and pen. It's NaNoWriMo time, ladies and gentlemen!

I've really been looking forward to this year. I can't say why; I really don't know why. But I've been counting the days and making my plans. Maybe it's because my first essay in school was about NaNoWriMo, and how it helped me rediscover my joy for writing. Maybe it's because school is taking all my waking hours, and I'm looking at writing for NaNoWriMo as a little bit of downtime.

Then again, I could just be weird. One way or the other, the reason behind my excitement doesn't really matter. All that matters is the fact that I am excited. I've got my vague story plot. I've got my main character. And today, after I got home from school, I designed my cover and signature banner.

If you're not the least bit interested in my story, you may as well stop reading. Oh, wait. I took an algebra test today and grades are already posted. I got a 105%. Okay. Now you can stop reading. :)

Now, for my story, and the history behind it. Last year, you may or may not remember I wrote a story with the working title Blur.  I hate that title. It's not particularly representative of the story. But until I finish it and come up with a better one, that's what I'm stuck with.

Anyway, last NaNo I wrote Blur, which was about a woman who discovered the power of daydreams and indulged until they took over, blurring the lines between her fantasies and reality. My conundrum as I wrote was whether to write it so the fantasies were reality and she just thought they were daydreams, or to write it so she ended up in a mental hospital. As time went on, the story ended up with my main character institutionalized, and I actually had a lot of fun with her descent into madness. But I still wanted to write a story where the daydreams were real.

Lead Glass, my NaNo project this year, was borne of that desire. It's not quite a daydreams are real scenario, but it does promise to be fun to write.  Here's the synopsis I posted at the NaNoWriMo website:

Nadine Thomas is a woman in her 40's, and what those of yesteryear would have termed an Old Maid. While browsing a rundown, musty antique shop two towns away from her home, she finds and purchases an old lead glass window that captured her attention and refused to leave her alone. When she finally gets it home, she discovers the window isn't just a window, but a portal through time and space. Using that window, she travels to exotic times and places, discovers the true origins of her window.  She becomes deeply embroiled in the mystery and theft that surround her portal, and works with a temporal detective to apprehend the thief, find the other missing windows identical to her own, and restore them to their rightful home.

So, the synopsis needs a little tweaking, but you get the gist. Nadine is going to travel to different times, places, and even planets and experience all kinds of exciting adventures.  See? Fun!

It remains to be seen if I'll be able to finish this year because of my school commitment (I also have a research paper due the first week of December), but I'm going to have lots of fun giving it the ol' college try.  (Sorry.  I couldn't help myself.)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Updates are Scarce

It's not that I don't have much to talk about, it's that I don't have the time to talk. School is taking a tremendous toll on my time, but it's worth it. I'm past the midway point of the semester and still pulling A's in all my classes.  Two of my four classes gave midterms, and I got A's on both of those. I've turned in another essay since my last update and just found out last week I earned another A on that one.

I had a meeting last week with my ENGL 1101 instructor to go over my grades and submit my preliminary research paper topic idea for approval. All went as expected until she went over what was coming up. I have an essay due Tuesday that will count for 10% of my grade. The research paper, which is due at the beginning of December will be 20% of my grade. For the final exam, we will be expected to write an essay in class from pre-writing through final draft -- 20% of my grade. I've got three papers to write during the remainder of my semester, and they will count for a total of 50% of my grade! No pressure there at all.





I spend so much time doing algebra work, studying psychology, and writing my essays, that I spend very little time online these days. For the most part, I throw up Facebook and Twitter statuses with my phone (by throw up, I mean post as opposed to vomit -- but you knew that) and haven't read a photography forum in months. If I'm not doing algebra or English comp lab work, I really prefer to not look at a computer.  In fact, I just completed that 10% of my grade essay and studied for algebra, and am now on computer overload. Sooooooo...I'll post this, check tomorrow's weather, and then shut this baby off. Time to rest the ol' brain before tomorrow's test.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Because I'm Still So Excited

Grades from Wednesday morning's Algebra test were already posted by Wednesday afternoon. I'm now proudly sporting my second algebra test A. But that's not what had me actually squeeing out loud in my car on the way home today.

When I walked into Composition today, the instructor stood behind her podium at the front of the classroom. "I've only got two essays left to grade," she told us.  "After I do that, I'm giving them back to you."

About ten minutes later, Mrs. D was walking around the classroom, setting an essay packet in front of each student. When she reached me me, I closed my eyes a second and took a deep breath. I heard the papers hit the table. Felt a slight rush of air as she moved away and on to the next student. Then I opened one eye -- just a teensy weensy bit -- and peeked. I saw my grade. Both my eyes popped open wide in shock and happy disbelief.

Next to the words Essay Grade was 100/A written in bright purple pen.  100?  She gave me a 100! I worked hard to contain myself. I looked further down the paper until I found the comments section.  Lynn, it said:

This is fun.  This is witty.  This is inspiring!  I really enjoyed the humor.  It's always enjoyable to read when you feel like the writer is having fun, too.  Plus -- you can write!  May I keep a cc for use in classes?

Whoa. Wow. Wow. 


I wanted to bounce in my seat. I wanted to clap my hands. I wanted to spring from my chair and happy butt wiggle all over the classroom. 

I didn't do any of those things.  I just sat there.  And while the rest of the class worked on filling in their error logs, I continued to sit there, as there were no errors marked on my paper.  I shifted in my seat and set my essay aside. It was easier to resist clutching that paper to my chest and tangoing around the room with it that way.

When class ended, I very calmly packed my things into my bookbag.  Without dancing.  Or giggling.  I'm pretty sure I managed to avoid grinning.  I made it out of the building. Across the parking lot to my truck. And about a mile down the road.  Then, as I hit the onramp for the highway, I let loose.


Photo by

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sailing Along

I just realized I haven't updated the blog in a while -- bad Lynn! Here ya go....updates: I'm sticking with the program and keeping my head above water. In other words, still in school. Haven't yanked every last hair from my head. Haven't dissolved into a screaming, crying puddle of goo. And I've yet to huddle soundlessly in the corner, eating my hair.

I'm kidding, of course. Kind of. Because things have actually gone well thus far. My first Algebra test came back with  the teacher's note Perfect! scrawled across the top next to a 105. I rocked my Psychology test; a 100 on that one. My Psychology teacher also e-mailed me a congrats for the A she gave me on my first assignment, which carries as much weight as a test.

That narrative essay I was freaking out over has been turned in, but wasn't graded as of today's class. It's probably too much to hope for a grade by my next Composition class on Thursday, so we'll cross our fingers for Tuesday, instead.

My second Algebra test is tomorrow, so I'll be studying for that tonight. My second Psychology test is Tuesday; I'll be studying for that one this weekend. Our second Psychology assignment was posted last week, and I'm about 3/4 finished with that. In composition, we're preparing for another essay.  Yay -- another paper for me to stress over.

My daughter assures me those essays get easier as you go.  I sure hope she wasn't lying.

In other news, I visited the advisement and financial aid offices last week to try and start planning for my next semester, since registration for Spring semester classes is a mere month away. After talking it over with the advisor and more than a little soul searching on my own, I've decided to drop back to half-time for at least the next three semesters. Why, you ask?  Well, I'll you.

My goal is to apply for the Fall 2013 nursing program. To do that, my pre-requisites must be finished by January 2013. That gives me three semesters -- Spring 2012, Summer 2012, Fall 2012 -- to finish my six remaining pre-requisistes:  Anatomy & Physiology I & II and Labs, Microbiology & Lab, ENGL 1102, a Fine Arts/Humanities course, and Human Development. Most people recommend taking the sciences -- A&P I, A&P II, and Microbiology -- alone, if possible.  Since it's not possible, I'll pair each up with one of the other three pre-reqs.  That puts me right on schedule.

Half-time, which is six credit hours, keeps my financial aid in place.  A science, a lab, and another course will put me at seven credit hours per semester.  So there you have it.  Half-time for the next three semesters before the nursing program starts Fall 2013 and everything goes insane.

Notice how I added no qualifiers there regarding the nursing program?  No hopefully? No if I'm accepted? No if I get in? It's the power of positive thinking, baby! If I operate like I know my GPA will stay high enough, like I know I'll be invited to take the entrance exam, like I know I'll be offered one of those sixty program seats, it'll all happen for me, right?  Right!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dust in the Wind?

An actual conversation I had a little over an hour at the grocery store with the store manager, who was running the checkout register at the time.

MANAGER: (yawns & laughs) Sorry.
ME: (laughing)  That's how I was in Algebra this morning.
MANAGER: (eyebrows shooting skyward) Oh.  You teach Algebra?
ME:  No.  I take Algebra.  I'm back in school.
MANAGER:  (pause)  Are you the oldest in your class?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Showering Ideas

Week 3 of college is done.  Most of my assignments are completed, and now I'm preparing for next week's tests in Psychology and Algebra.  Yes, Week Four = Test Week.  Yippee. I have one assignment with which I'm still struggling, though.  Shocker of's a Composition assignment.  Will my Composition woes ever end?  (Lynn, meet Giant & Impossible to Navigate Around Wall)  We're working on our first essay, and our instructor is kind enough to take us slowly through the steps.  Thank goodness, because while I may have done structured writing once upon a time...  Well, let's just say that the man who was President of the United States at that time is no longer with us.  Yes, it was that long ago, and yes, I absolutely need the refresher course.

Anyway, it's an essay.  A narrative essay.  She gave us three choices for a topic:  1) an oft-repeated family story; 2) a special gift; or 3) a life-changing or challenging event.  Of course, the moment I read those choices on the page, I blanked.  I had nothing.

I've lived a boring life, I thought.  I've done absolutely nothing that would be of interest to anybody besides myself.  What the heck am I supposed to write about?  Yes, I can be a little maudlin in my thoughts.  And a lot unyielding.  Nobody is harder on me than me, and I often beat up on my inner-child.  Poor thing is bruised and bloodied, yet always come back for more.  But, I'm wandering away from the point, aren't I?

Back to the story...

I had nothing.  Then I thought of the first time my daughter swore.  It's a cute story, and I've told it a lot, but these narrative essays are supposed to have a point.  What's the point of that story other than the fact that it's cute as a bunny's ear?

The cussing story was out.

There's also a potato story from my daughter's childhood that gets told and retold.  Same problem, though.  No point, unless I want to talk about how skinny she is despite starch overload when she was two.  Since I didn't think that would be enough to fill an 850-word essay, the potato story was out.

Next I hit upon LittleDude's hospitalization.  That was a huge, life-changing and challenging event.  The point could be that it was the catalyst that made me decide to pursue nursing.  Initially, it passed all the tests, and I put it on my little scratch sheet of ideas.  For me, though, the problem with that story is it's just so heavy.  It's almost depressing.  I don't want to be heavy and depressing.  I want to be light-hearted and fun.  Breezy, even.  But when I left class on Thursday, heavy and depressing was all I had.


Then, as my husband and I were making the 30-minute drive to a local (yes, 30 minutes away is local) computer store, I had an epiphany.  Because, of course, epiphanies always come during 30-minute drives.  Or during showers.  I have even better epiphanies in the shower, but I digress.

My epiphany.  NaNoWriMo!  The call to write a 50,000 word novel in a month is absolutely challenging.  My first win, and the story I wrote to get that first win, helped me rediscover my joy for writing, so that's definitely life-changing.  Light & breezy?  Heck, the story was about a talking dinosaur and a duck that wore a blue felt fedora!  I think I may have hit on something there.

So, now I've got a light & breezy topic.  Next, I need a thesis statement.  I've got until Tuesday to come up with a thesis statement that takes an opposable position.  Not as easy, so I'm brainstorming.

Maybe I should take a shower and hope for another epiphany.

A Moment of Silence

Thursday, September 1, 2011

She Liked it?

Today was the end of my second week of school.  After my rough start in Algebra and Composition, I didn't hold out much hope for my academic career.  My husband made a comment today that pretty much sums me up, especially in this regard:
I don't need to beat you up.  You do it to yourself better than I ever could.

Sadly, he's right.  At last I'm consistent.

Yesterday was my second Algebra class for the week.  Although the lead of my mechanical pencil still broke a few times (will I ever get the hang of that stupid thing?), I did much better otherwise.  My practice problems had the correct answers.  I was able to contribute in class.  And I even received a compliment from the instructor!  Definitely a better class than I had on Monday.

My second Wednesday class is Computers.  Our instructor had us take our first online test in class so we could all get accustomed to the way our SAM (Skills Assessment Manager) program works.  That's wonderful, because there were a few people in the class who had difficulty when they tried to do it at home.  I wasn't one of those people.  In fact, I'd already taken that test. And the next one.  So, instead of taking the test, I helped the people around me.  (We were allowed to confer with our neighbors and our books...that's what we would do at home, right?)  I admit, I enjoyed that.  Plus, I even had time to take the 3rd test, which isn't due for a couple weeks.

Today started with Psychology.  We're not even very far into the class, but I'm already fascinated.  And I know it'll get more interesting from here.  I earned an easy 5 points this morning with the "Question of the Day" and breezed through our in-class worksheet.

Finally came the class I've been dreading since Tuesday:  Composition.  We worked in groups today, and I felt like I had a better class.  I was grouped with three young people (one of whom I was certain was less than half my age), and we had fun putting our assignment together.  I paid attention to how the others in my group worked.  Watched how they pre-wrote, how they put their topic sentence together, and how they wrote in general.  I was surprised to find that what they came up with was very much like what I would have done.  A little bit of weight lifted from my shoulders.

At the end of class, the instructor returned our paragraphs from Tuesday.  As she walked around the room, she told us that everybody who turned one in received a perfect score (Whew!).  She approached me, and I held my breath.

She told me that when she got to mine, she had prepared herself to read a narrative, which is what I'd warned her I'd resorted to before I left class on Tuesday.  Then she told me she liked the way, even in a narrative, I was able to still get all my supporting points in there.

Whaaaaa?  That sounded like a compliment!

She handed me my paper, and I looked at the writing across the top.  100/A, it said.  Good job combining narrative with structural main points and detail!  This is focused!

She liked my paper!  Maybe I can do this school thing, after all.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Second Guessing

It's been a good day gone bad. Not totally, horribly bad.  Nothing devastating happened.  No maiming, maladies, or death.  But bad, nonetheless.

All started well enough.  The kids got off for school okay.  I left on time for my classes this morning, amid joking by my husband of my schoolgirl status.  I remembered to bring along something to eat for breakfast.  Traffic wasn't wonderful, but not horribly bad.  I arrived at the satellite school in plenty of time to prepare myself and get situated.  I even enjoyed my first class:  Psychology.  We discussed some interesting things, I took some notes, and I did well on the class exercise.

After Psych, I sat down, did some reading, ate my lunch, and waited for my next class to start.  That's when things started to go wrong.

Composition & Rhetoric.  You would think that class would be cake for me since I love to write.  You would be thinking wrongly.  It's an entirely different kind of writing.  In class we discussed pre-writing and rough drafts.  We talked about paragraphs with topic sentences and supporting evidence.  Then we had to write a paragraph.  Just a paragraph.  Using one of five topic sentences provided for us.  We had to prewrite, then list our sentence and supporting evidence, and finally write the paragraph, to be turned in at the end of class.

I suppose I could blame this on performance anxiety again, as I did yesterday.  To be honest (and terribly cliched), I felt like a bull in a china shop.  A square peg in a round hole.  As I struggled with my format and evidence and sentences and the like, others around me breezed through it.  They're all so much younger, I told myself, and they probably all just did this same thing within the last year or two.  Still, I left school today heavy-hearted.

I beat myself up over it during the drive home.  Why am I doing this to myself? I thought.  We can't even afford for me to go to school, and here I am spending this money and failingI'm too old, anyway.  You can't teach old dogs new tricks, right?  And if I just failed at "sit!" how the hell am I going to be able to Bunny Hop while wearing a pink tutu in two months?

I'm a little prone to drama when chastising myself.

I know my husband would tell me I'm crazy.  It was one bad class.  I'll pick it up.  I'm not wasting our money.  It's an investment.  I can almost recite what I know he'd tell me verbatim, although he makes better faces while saying it.  Still, I can't help second guessing myself.  Yes, I've always wanted to go to college.  Yes, I was a pretty darn good high school student.  But did I wait too long?

Maybe I shouldn't have chosen what has turned out to be our worst financial period in over a decade to try and do this.  Maybe instead I should have gone out and pounded the pavement, looking for a job.  Yes, I'd already submitted a dozen applications.  True, I'd only heard anything from two of those: one to tell me they were filling the position internally, the other to tell me I wasn't what they were looking for.

Whaddya mean you're not looking for a stay-at-home mom who hasn't worked outside the home in almost twenty years?

Maybe I should have tried harder.  No job too meanial.  Set my sights lower.  Maybe.

It's too late now.  Wrong decision or not, I'm in college.  Waste of money or not, I'm going to school.  I'm just going to have to work harder.  Continue setting an example for my children.  After all, it was only one bad class, right?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Performance Anxiety

That's the only thing I can come up with.  It was all performance anxiety.  And I wasn't even expected to really perform!

Let me backtrack a little.  Today was the first day of my second week of school.  It was also the first time we actually did any learning in class.  Up to this point, it's been, "You'll need these books."  And, "Let's go over the syllabus."  And we mustn't forget, "Here's how you set up your computer account so you can turn in your homework."  Last week was nuts & bolts week.  This week, it's time to get down to the business of learning.

I only had one class today, so it was a really easy day.  Or it should have been.  Is it my fault I misunderstood the instructor last week?  (Yes, I know it is, but please allow me a moment to pout anyway.)

I could have sworn he said something about the syllabus today.  I'm certain of it.  Which is why, although I went online to look at the PowerPoints, I didn't print them out.  I honestly didn't think we'd need them until our class on Wednesday.  I was wrong.

Performance anxiety.

Luckily, the stuff we were going over wasn't too tough.  It was, after all, only the first day of learning.  I paid close attention to the PowerPoint slides my instructor projected onto the screen (while silently cursing the fact I didn't print them out...grrrr...) and took careful notes in the spiral notebook I brought specifically for this purpose.

He'd go over information, then he'd ask us to do an example problem.  Then he'd go over more information, and then he'd ask us to do another example problem.  I started out okay.  Plotting points on a graph?  No problem.  Solving equations to find the plot points?  Easy-peasy.  Although, I'll admit to a slight stumble when I saw the absolute value symbols.  What did that mean again?  Oh.  Yeah.

But soon, all the knowledge just flew out of my head.  Saluted me smartly, waved buh-bye, and high-tailed it out of there.  Because every time I worked a problem, I arrived at an incorrect answer.  Or I'd forget how to perform the simplest operations.  Or I pressed to hard and broke my pencil.

Was it because I'd forgotten to eaten breakfast?  (I remembered when I was already halfway to school.  Damn...)  Or was it simple performance anxiety?

Did I choke?

"I'll let you try this one," my instructor said.  "You've got ten seconds."

Ten seconds! Gulp.  I tried.  God help me, I tried.  But suddenly that x- and y-intercept stuff may as well have been written in Greek.  Or Martian.  I tanked.

"Figure this one out," my instructor said of another problem.  "I'll give you twenty minutes."

Ahhhh.  Twenty minutes.  I've got this.  I breathed easier and went to work.

"Oops," he said, laughing.  "I meant twenty seconds."

WHAT???  I froze.  Tankarooni.

And then, there was one last problem.  Did I need to do the negative/positive thing?  Does that apply or do I have the parentheses in the wrong place?  I couldn't remember, so I did it both ways.  And still came up with the wrong answer.  Insert mental facepalm here.

I came home, printed all the PowerPoints I'd need for the unit--I wouldn't get caught with my pants down again, no sirree--and sat down to go over that last problem one more time.  No pressure.  No instructor standing at the front of the room.  No time limit. You know what?  I got the right answer on my first try.

I blame performance anxiety.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What a Nice Surprise

Yesterday, I came home from my second day of school with confirmation from my other two classes:  I need the textbooks.  After returning my Algebra book, I considered going into the school bookstore and buying at least one of them there.  I had a credit on my book allowance, and even though the bookstore is more expensive, it's also more convenient.  I figured that was a decent trade.

Until I saw the line in the bookstore.  It stretched and wound and wandered and serpentined throughout much of the store.  I was tired, sweat was running down my back, and there wasn't enough money in the world to make me stand in that line.  So, I went home instead.

When I walked in my door, I opened up the laptop and logged onto  I found my textbooks -- the cost of the new books was within a couple dollars of the cost of the same books used at the school bookstore -- and ordered them.  Because I signed up for a new student account, I get Amazon Prime free for a year.  That meant I could choose 2-day shipping for no charge.


My confirmation e-mail showed the estimated arrival date to be Saturday, August 27.  That's what I expected.  No problem.  I considered that they might not get here until Monday, but that was still cool.  I don't have those classes until Tuesday.  Later last night, I received another Amazon e-mail telling me my books had been shipped.  Wow!  That was quick!

This morning, I was putting my makeup on when my doorbell rang.  My UPS guy usually drops & runs, and since I didn't want to be seen with a half-done face (vanity, you know), I waited until he was back in his truck before I opened my front door.  I was shocked by what I found.

It was a box.  From Amazon. Addressed to me!  My books arrived!  Yes, instead of shipping my purchase 2-day, they shipped it overnight!

Not long after I opened my textbooks, I took a peek at e-mail.  I had two new notes from Amazon.  They both warned that my purchase might be delayed due to the weather.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Good and the Bad

I survived my first week of school.  I didn't fall down.  I didn't spill food on my shirt.  In fact, I didn't embarrass myself at all AND I even read aloud in class today.  I'm pleased.

As I mentioned in my last post, this is my first school experience since high school, and that was a million, billion years ago.  To say I was a little intimidated would be an understatement.  At the same time, I was very excited to get started.  Who wouldn't be excited at taking the first steps to fulfilling a dream?

So without further delay, here are the good and the bad for me this week.  Shall I start with the good?

  • For the most part, I like my instructors.  There's one who I wasn't able to get a good read on personality-wise, but I do like the rest.
  • After spending mucho dinero in the school bookstore for three textbooks bundles I couldn't buy elsewhere, I learned that one of them was unnecessary.  I was able to return that one and exchange it for just the computer code it was bundled with.  It saved me a little cabbage.
  • I wore my butt-toning shoes this week, and got beaucoup exercise. And sore calves.
  • I get home from school before my children do.
  • A BLT is a mere $2.99 in my school's food court. Yum.
  • Two of my classes are in a satellite campus located in a local shopping mall. Near a yummy pretzel place. So far, I've managed to avoid the yummy pretzel place. (Why does everything end up being about food with me?)
  • While the fact that my first class is pretty early could be construed as bad, I'm putting it in the good list. Why? Because getting there early meant I didn't have to fight for a parking space. Not everybody can say that.

  • This is actually part of that textbook item in the good list.  When I returned the textbook bundle and bought the computer code, I discovered the computer code was the more expensive portion.  Considerably more expensive.  While I wasn't surprised, it was still a little disappointing.
  • When I registered for my courses, the person helping me had me click a little button on the computer screen that give me a visual representation of my schedule.  What she didn't tell me was that visual representation was only for the first week, which was a short week.  I had to click another button at the top to see the more representative second week.  I didn't realize that until today.  As a result, I went from school two mornings per week to school four mornings per week.  Thank goodness I did realize it.  Can you imagine how horrible it would have been if I started missing classes next week?
  • I miscalculated drive time my first day.  My intention was to allow for an hour of driving.  Unfortunately, circumstances made me leave ten minutes later than I wanted to, which resulted in me arriving twenty minutes later than I'd planned.  And that was ten minutes late.  The good that goes with that?  The instructor was twenty minutes late.  (Whew!)

Ha. Check it out. The good outweighs the bad. That's a good sign for the semester, right?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lynn Wood, Student

Last time I posted, I was sad.  In fact, I'd had a lot of sad.  Which probably explains why it's been two months since I posted.  Today, I thought why not go from sad to stressed?  Yeah!  That's a wonderful idea!

Okay, I'm kidding.  Kind of.  Truthfully, I decided to start chronicling my adventure as a non-traditional student.  Yes, I'm officially a full-time college freshman.  Non-traditionally, of course.

Why non-traditional?  Because unlike the many college freshmen who are college freshmen straight out of high school, I waited until I was three billion years old with kids.  When you're three billion years old with children and attending college for the first time in your life, you get labeled non-traditional.

Why don't we start with how I got here in the first place?

I'd always intended to go to college.  I was a decent high school student -- despite changing schools every year, I still managed to graduate ranked 76 in a class of 483 with a 3.231 GPA.  Not stellar, but nothing to sneeze at, either.

Unfortunately, circumstances, choices, and just plain teenage stupidity prevented me from going to college.  Instead, I worked full-time right out of school.

I always regretted it.

Eventually, I got married and had my family, but college was always at the back of my mind.  My husband and I had discussed it, but not really seriously.  Part of me still thought maybe I'd look into it when my kids were old enough.  If we could afford it.

The time came when I was doing research for somebody else.  It was then I fully understood there were education choices alternative to the classic 4-year university.  I started doing more research -- this time for myself.

Fast forward a couple years.  The economy's in the toilet.  My youngest is approaching an age when it might become possible for me to leave him at home alone for short periods of time.  The one missing element:  I had no idea what I wanted to do.

Then my son got sick.

He's always been more susceptible to illness than my daughter.  Two years ago he was down for two weeks with pneumonia.  He often has bouts of bronchitis and other infections.  But the last time was when he ended up hospitalized for ten days.  I remember when that all started, before we knew what was going on, it seemed like we were in the doctor's office every other day.  I actually apologized to the doctor, saying I felt like a neurotic mom who jumped at every sneeze.  I didn't want to be that mom.

It turned out my fears were justified, my son was hospitalized and eventually got better.  But while I sat in that hospital room with him night after night, I knew that I wanted to be better educated.  I wanted to be able to know for certain when I needed to call the doctor and when I could just send my kid back to bed to "sleep it off".  I wanted more confidence when dealing with his health issues.

While in the hospital, I watched the nurses, all the while asking myself is that something I could do?  I watched how seemingly unflappable they were.  I talked to them.  Then later, I talked to my son's school nurse.  It took a while, but I finally decided what field I would study.

When I started researching local schools, my plan changed a couple times.  I'd started thinking medical assistant, from there went to LPN and finally landed where I am now.

Tomorrow, I start my pre-nursing pre-requisites, with the hope of entering a nursing program Fall 2013.  When I graduate that program, I'll be an RN with an Associate's degree.

I know it's going to be quite the journey, and I plan to document, rant, rave, and crow each step of the way right here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happier Days

The last time I posted on the blog was with Aleu's death.  All the gerbil deaths hit me pretty hard, and when added to the other stressors in my life, it became too much.  And when things become too much, I always do the same thing:  retreat into hiding.  I'm finally poking my head out to check the weather.  Looks like there are still some clouds in the sky, but things would actually qualify as partly sunny.

Yes, there are still stressors.  We have tenants in our rental house who don't seem to feel paying their rent is a necessity.  We just filed dispossessory action this week, and are working our way through that.  That one's a BIG stressor.

Last week I went through a procedure to have a mole removed from my shoulder.  My doctor's not too worried about it, but with my family history of melanoma and the fact that I couldn't actually see it to tell him if it's new or different or the same ol' thing, we decided it'd be safer to have it checked.  Not as big a stressor, but a stressor nonetheless.

Despite the stress, I finally found some "happy."  Or as they said in City Slickers, I found my smile.

We have gerbils!  I was terrified of the idea of replacing our little family members who'd passed, but I'm glad SoundGuy talked me into it.  We now have four females, who will eventually be housed as two pairs.  Each has her own personality, her own story, and has even had her own little photo shoot!  Over the next four posts, I plan to bore the stuffing out of you by profiling each gerbil with her own picture-filled post.

After all the sadness we've had and the continued stress I've endured, I needed some happy.  My family -- my husband, our two kids, our two dogs, and now our four gerbils -- make me happy.  They've helped me find my smile.


ETA: I never did manage to post those stories and photos. I think I eventually decided that nobody but my family really cares about the gerbils' stories. Suffice it to say we have a 75-gallon tank divided into two smaller tanks. One side houses Apache (Patch) and Taz, and the other is home to Lucy and Ethel. They're all four wonderful pets who have brought much-needed joy to our household as did Miranda and Ginger before them. 

Friday, May 6, 2011


April 21, 2011 - April 30, 2011

Have I mentioned we've had a rough time lately?  After the deaths of our gerbils Ginger and Miranda, SoundGuy decided our family needed to heal, and to do so, we needed to get two more gerbils.  I'll admit, I was against it.  I thought it was too soon, and disrespecting of the two creatures who had brought so much joy to our lives.  But then I saw the happiness in LittleDude's face at the prospect of two new friends.  He readily, without being asked, broke Ginger and Miranda's cages down completely and thoroughly cleaned them.  He put in new food, new water, and new bedding.  Watching him prepare for the new gerbils, I knew SoundGuy was right.  I was still suffering, but I kept it to myself.

That evening, we brought two new gerbils home:  Apache and Aleu.

Aleu was a tiny little thing.  She was kind of laid back and a beautiful gray color.  She really seemed to take to MiniMe, calmly laying in her hand whenever she took her out of the cage.  We marvelled at how much smaller Aleu was than Apache—we figured she was a lot younger.  We didn't know for sure, though.  They couldn't tell us at the pet store.

On Aleu's final day with us, a mere nine days after we got her, LittleDude brought her to me as we prepared to leave the house for an appointment.  "She's sick," he said.  "She has the same thing Ginger had."

I took Aleu from him and gave her the once-over.  She had the same hunched posture Ginger'd had.  Her eyes were half closed.  But I noticed something we hadn't had with Ginger—dampness and discoloration near her tail.

"It's not the same thing Ginger had," I told him.  "We'll pick up some medicine for her after your appointment."

I tried to look confident, but inside, I was screaming.  Terrified.  After Ginger got sick, I'd started reading up on gerbil illnesses, and I recognized Aleu's symptoms.  I had a feeling then we were going to lose her.

We returned home later that afternoon with medicine from the pet store, but Aleu wouldn't take any.  After we quarantined her in her own little cage, we set up the table and heating pad we'd used for Ginger.  When I went back to check on her, her little body was twitching.  I reached into the cage and was dismayed to find her body temperature had dropped considerably.  I immediately pulled her out and held her against my chest just like I'd done with Ginger nine days before.  I cupped in her in my hands, trying to warm her with my body heat.  I could feel her little heart breathing, the rise and fall of her chest, then...nothing.

She died in my hands.

I knew LittleDude would be devastated.  I knew this, because he's so much like I am emotionally, and I could barely breathe.  In hushed tones, MiniMe and I discussed the fact that we'd only had Aleu nine days.  We were within the pet store's guarantee period.  As callous as it may sound, we decided we would ask for a replacement.

My one big regret is that Aleu is not buried in the backyard under the big tree with Ginger and Miranda.  She's not there because the pet store required we bring her back.  I know they didn't treat her with the same respect we would have.  And I hate that I only got three pictures, two of which are at the top of this post.

Aleu, we only knew you nine days, but we'll never forget you.  Rest in peace, little girl.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


August 12, 2009 - April 21, 2011

What a horrible week we had.  Sad, because it was Spring Break for the kids—it turned out to be a Spring Break we'd all rather forget.

Ginger started showing signs of illness on Friday.  The gerbil we knew and loved who worked hard to build elaborate nests in the gerbil cage, who loved sour cream & onion potato chips and sunflower seeds, and who was fond of sitting on MiniMe's shoulder while she worked on her computer, just didn't seem herself.  She wasn't as active.  She seemed a little sad.  We all took notice, but nobody said anything.

Until Sunday.

Sunday morning, LittleDude brought her in to me, extremely worried.  "She's not moving," he said.

I took little Ginger into my hand and stroked her tiny back with a single finger.  She was hunched over, her eyes half-closed.  Clearly, she wasn't feeling well.  Her tiny body felt frail and nothing like the robust little girl we'd laughed about and lovingly called fat.  I held her close to my chest, cupping her with my hand, hoping my body heat would help heal her.  Praying she'd be able to feel how much I loved her, how much we all loved her, and wanted her to get better.

Monday morning, I start calling veterinarians.  It wasn't long before I was hollering for the kids to get dressed so we could take Ginger to be seen.  We brought Miranda, our other gerbil, with us, because I'd read that when one of a pair of gerbils is sick, the other can be a comfort.

Even the vet could tell she'd lost a lot of weight.  Her body temperature was dropping.  The doctor couldn't give us much hope.  She felt some type of abnormality in Ginger's abdomen, but couldn't say for certain what it was.  We could have had her x-rayed, put her through a full diagnostic procedure, but I didn't see the point.  The poor thing was already miserable; I just wanted to make what little time she had left with us comfortable.  The vet gave her fluid injections and sent us home with antibiotics and special food.

We isolated Ginger from Miranda.  Part of the reason was the fact we didn't know what was wrong.  If it was contagious, we didn't want Miranda to catch it.  The other part?  The other part of the reason was I was watching her day and night.  Every hour or two I would try to coax her to eat.  To drink.  At night, I brought her little cage upstairs with me and set her up on a table right next to my bed.  I'd wake up during the night to make sure she was still breathing.

We were all surprised and very encouraged when she survived the night.  She even seemed to be moving a little more and a little easier.  Hope filled the household.

Later that afternoon, LittleDude came downstairs with shocking news.  Miranda had died suddenly.  Here we were fighting to keep our sick little gerbil alive and the healthy one died suddenly and without explanation.  I had trouble comprehending it.  It didn't make sense.  Not to me.  Not to LittleDude.  We buried Miranda under a tree in the backyard and prayed even harder for Ginger.

That little gerbil who had brought us so much happiness fought hard for three days, but I think it became too much.  Too hard.  And I think she knew her cagemate was gone.

On Thursday, I had to go to run a couple errands.  I wanted to take both my kids with me, since we all needed a break, but when I tried to feed Ginger that morning, she refused to eat.  She refused to drink.  I was worried.  I left MiniMe to watch her, and LittleDude and I left.

I still have the text message MiniMe sent me when LittleDude and I were in the grocery store.

I think we lost her.

It was a simple, short little phrase that instantly shot pain through my heart.  I called her and confirmed I was reading it right.  LittleDude reacted as poorly as I'd feared he would, crying and banging his head on the grocery store shelves.  We grabbed the few things we absolutely needed, paid, and left.

We buried Ginger under the tree next to Miranda.  During our little family memorial service, LittleDude finally came to terms with the loss of our pets, and he poured his heart out over their graves.

We miss those little gerbils; we always will.  We're thankful they were part of our lives and our family, but sad they were taken from us so soon.  LittleDude is comforted knowing Ginger and Miranda are playing together again in heaven.  He's happy to know Ginger's not sick anymore—she's once again the happy little gerbil she used to be.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Memoriam

August 12, 2009 - April 19, 2011

We lost a cherished member of our family today. We first got her in August, 2009 as a reward for LittleDude and his good behavior. We brought her home and learned that gerbils, while they can live singly, prefer to be in pairs. The next day we picked up our second gerbil in the hopes that having the two would extend their lifespans.

The two gerbils had very different personalities. Our brown one, Ginger, was always the nester. When their cages were cleaned out, she was the one who would spend hours building their new nest. Miranda, on the other hand, was the active one. She would run and run and run. We'd put her in the gerbil ball in the foyer, and before long we'd have to search the house for her. She especially loved running the length from the breakfast room to the utility room -- boy, could she get up some speed!

Over this past weekend, Ginger fell ill. She's still hanging on, but the vet gave her a poor chance of survival. We'd been fighting so hard for her life—hand feeding her special food, trying to convince her to drink water, administering antibiotics by teeny-tiny syringe—it came as a complete shock to me when LittleDude informed me we'd lost Miranda. He handed her to me with shaking hands, her tiny body still warm, but unmoving. I'm still in shock.

While these small animals, who very quickly became a large part of our family, were technically LittleDude's, I was the one who cared for them. Who fed them, watered them, and cleaned their cages. Miranda's death has been absolutely devastating.

Rest in peace, Little Girl. We miss you already.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ode to the Spell Checker

I saw this on one of the forums I read. It tickled me enough to share. Unfortunately, the identity of the author was not posted, or I'd gladly credit them for this clever ditty.

Ode to the Spell Checker

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
Aye am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me so.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hearts & Chocolates & Flowers...Oh, My!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Awesomest Birthday Cake EVER

SoundGuy celebrated a birthday last month.  It wasn't a big celebration; we rarely do big celebrations in our household.  Usually it's just a cake for the family after dinner and a couple presents.  SoundGuy's celebration was no different.  What was different was the awesomeness of the cake.

MiniMe and I went to our local grocery store to get a cake.  We like their cakes, and we like the whipped topping they use.  I hadn't planned on having anything written on it since we were hitting the store so late.  But once we got to the bakery, we saw an employee still behind the counter.  We picked out our cake then got the bakery employee's attention.

"Can you write something on this cake?" I asked.

"I can," the employee said, "but I'm not very good at it."

Of course, I figured his not good at it would be similar to my not good at it if I were to tell somebody I could do something:  not perfection, but more than passable.  "That's fine," I said.  "It's just family, anyway."

I told him what I wanted written on the cake, we chose the frosting color, and he took the cake and went to work.

"I practice every day," he said as he piped the words on the the cake, " but I'm still not as good as the ladies who usually do this."

"I'm sure it'll be just fine," I told him.

When he was finished, he handed the cake to me across the counter.  "I hope that's okay."

I could barely stifle my laughter.  I looked at MiniMe and saw she was struggling, too.  I assured him the cake was just fine, and MiniMe and I left the bakery and went up to the front of the store to pay for it.  Once we were out of his earshot, we both burst out laughing.

"Most awesomest cake EVER!" MiniMe said, and we both giggled for the rest of the night.

Some people might have been upset with this.  Not us.  Out of all the birthday cakes we've had over the years, this one's our favorite.