Tuesday, September 30, 2008


All of the loot hasn't been delivered yet, but here's a glimpse of the explosion of crap we've already picked up...


1,076. That's the number of pictures I've downloaded off my camera card as of today, Tuesday, day five of nine. No, I'm not going to grace you with all of those images, but since we paid for 24 hours of internet access, I may try to upload a few of them to my Flickr (done) for your enjoyment before our time runs out. In the meantime, there are a few that I think warrant a shout out right here on the blog:

Whatcha Doing?

I think we all know what I'm doing right about now - enjoying a little quality time with the Tater Heads at the Mouse House. But I think it's worth mentioning that two years ago today I was doing stuff like this:

And hanging out with people like this:

As much as I'm enjoying vacation, it really can't compare to that day. Don't get me wrong, I never want to go through that again, but I'd never been happier than I was that day!

To my hubby of two whole years - you're the best thing ever and I love you bunches!

(And yes, for those who aren't familiar with the story, that's Ebay the Gnome.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Later Gators!

Hey Hall Family, you've paid off seven credit cards, two cars, and a house, what are you going to do now???


We're heading out in the morning for the land of tater parts and mice. Greg hasn't decided if he's taking his laptop, and even if he does, the resort doesn't have free internet access, so there won't be much live-blogging this vacation. I'm going to test the theory of posting pictures either to the blog or to my Flickr account via my blackberry, but I can't imagine I'll fight the tiny keypad to do much typing. I'm planning to set up at least one post to auto-publish later in the week, so stayed tuned for that.

If you start missing me terribly (or just get bored) you can preview my delicious bookmarks page that I've started working on to share cool stuff I find as I browse the internet. As you can imagine, it mostly involves food or frugality! I haven't taken the time to really organize it yet, but I'm hoping to get to that one day in the next year or two.

Have a great week, everybody, and I'll catch up with all of you next week!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Great Googley Moogley! It's a Tater Head!

Greg shared this article with me. I'M SO STANDING IN LINE FOR THAT!!! (It's about halfway down the article. You'll see the picture.)

Forget this Mickey Mouse stuff. They need to create Mr. Tater Head World!

Gotta go home tonight and decide which tater I'm taking with me so I can go ahead and pack it. Gotta take your own tater so you don't take up too much room in the tater parts box with the actual head.

OH, and Lauren called me from Target yesterday. She found me a Tater Head pumpkin decorating kit. She was going to get me the witch. I have good friends.


Excuse me while I take a break from lighthearted fun for a downer moment...

My friend Mrs. B is back at work today. She's been out since the Friday after Labor Day when her husband died in a tragic accident. They'd been married 32 years and just took their youngest child off to college in Wisconsin, excited about being "home alone" for the first time in ages. She found him in their yard the evening he died. It's nearly killed her to lose him; he was the center of her world.

Mrs. B tried to come back to work yesterday and made it as far as getting up the elevators, but never quite made it down the hall to the office before she had to go back home, saying she didn't think she could do it but would try again today. I was glad she made it in today. She has a lot of love and support here in the office, and she's going to have a hard time in that house alone now that the family is all going back home. It may be a while before she's able to do anything productive, but at least she won't be by herself. I gave her a big hug this morning but couldn't think of a single thing to say, other than to tell her I loved her.

As I approach my second anniversary next week I can't help but think - she had 30 years on me, but I still can't imagine losing my husband. And I hope I'm saying the same thing when I'm 80.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Packing - Is Disney Worth It?

Pop Quiz: How much do I hate packing?

a. More than internal audits and 5 year accreditation reviews combined.
b. More than bad drivers in Jackson.
c. More than being cold.
d. All of the above, times ten.

Sigh. It's not a secret. I love love love to travel. I hate to pack. It's bad when it's 3 or 4 days. It's bad when we're driving and have a ton of space to pack junk in the car. But we're talking nine days. In a maximum four bags. Oh goodness.

I got smart. I started early. We realized when we started planning this trip that we needed clothes. Nine days, and I only had 3 pair of shorts I'd even consider wearing in public. So we hit the stores and bought a huge pile of clothes. I washed them all, then immediately put them all on top of the suitcase, ready to go. The worst part of packing for me is deciding what to pack. Once I have that done, putting it in the suitcase is easy. Hopefully by sorting it all as I go, I can avoid the pre-packing panic that usually sets in when I have no idea what I need to take.

And here's the travel tip for the day - wrinkle releaser. I realized that several pair of my new shorts are going to have wrinkling issues in the suitcase, as well as many of the tshirts. Yesterday I scoured the Internet in search of a solution, since I'm not buying one of those commercial wrinkle releasers - Greg can't tolerate the scent and I can't tolerate the price. I also didn't want to pack any more liquids than necessary. What I found was brilliant and worked perfectly. I cut a small square off a scent-free dryer sheet, stuffed it down into a small spray bottle and filled it with water. I tried it out on a horribly wrinkled tshirt and two pair of shorts. Wow. Instant results. I've already packed a couple of dryer sheets. Hopefully I won't have to touch an iron for the entire trip!

Mountain Goat

I finally had enough of Houdini Pup and called out the big guns on Sunday. He may be able to resist me, treats, his leash, and Neighbor Bill, but I knew there was one thing that would have him showing us the way out. Uncle Bill. (This is why we call Neighbor Bill, well, Neighbor Bill. To keep from confusing him with my brother.) I got my big brother to stop by on his way home from Philly yesterday to help us solve the pup mystery.

Sure enough, in just a few minutes we witnessed the feat we hadn't been able to see or catch on film in a week and a half. Our little white mountain goat climbing a tree to get out of the fence, but only to go get his Unlce Bill. Granted, it was this tree, which we never did get removed after it fell in March, but seriously, it's been down since March and the crazy dog never bothered to climb it before! And I don't mean climbing up the part that broke off, I mean up the side of the tree. Mountain goat. We dropped a hundred bucks at Home Depot and had a temporary fix involving chicken wire. We'll work on a more permanant solution when we get back from vacation. Anybody know a good tree-remover?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Or Not.

So much for Casper being contained. We left him inside yesterday. Got home, let him out to potty, within 5 minutes he was out. Spent over an hour trying to entice him to escape again while we were watching. Stood on the other side of the fence with treats, his squeak, and a leash. Refused. Walked down the street with his leash, he refused. Got Neighbor Bill, who apparently has had Casper invite himself into his house twice this week, walk around to the back of the fence and call him. Refused. Set up my camera on the fence in video mode, then went inside and ignored him.


That little... Sigh. We have to get him contained before we leave for Florida!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Official

You may remember how back in May, June, and July I was all in a panic getting giant reports done in preparation for a five year site visit we were having this fall. Well, ever since then we've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting to get the notification of the date for the visit.

Wednesday I had a meeting where I found out that I have to do a third big giant report to apply for a new program we want to start this year, and it's due in early November. Gulp.

Today I got the emails that our site visit has been scheduled for January. Double gulp.

If I seem to be insane over the next few months, just ignore it. I'm probably blogging from the state mental hospital.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Irony of the Best Kind

We have the nosiest neighbors on the planet. Ever since Jen and I moved in seven years ago they have known every single thing that has gone on outside our house. They have these huge plants on their back porch and we've seen them hide behind the plants watching us outside. I joked with Greg the first time he picked me up for a date that he'd better get me back because they had his tag number and description written down. We've never really taken offense at it, we always thought it was kinda funny. We also knew that if anything ever happened at the house, they'd know about it.

Today we were able to take advantage of the L's for the first time. Our crazy pup has suddenly, after five years, decided to become an escape artist. He's escaped three time in the past couple of weeks. I patched the place in the back of the fence where I thought he was escaping, but when we got home tonight he was out again. Sigh. I was getting very frustrated, since we are leaving on vacation next week and leaving him with a house sitter.

An hour or so after we got home, there was a knock at the door. Yup. Our neighbor, Mr. L. Casper was totally busted. Not only had Mr. L caught him out (and seen him nearly get hit by a car, which nearly made my heart stop) but had seen exactly how he had escaped, and corralled him back into the yard. Thank you, Mr. L, for being our spy. Bless you. Casper - your days of freedom are o-v-e-r. Busted.


Jen - DON'T READ THIS POST! Really. Don't. It's in your best interest not to read it! I'm warining you. Just go on to something else. You're not missing anything.

I've avoided saying much about our upcoming trip because my dear, dear BFF Jen was supposed to go on a trip to the same happy place in January, but with the discovery of baby Figment arriving in February those plans were out the window. I didn't want to depress her about it any more than necessary, so I've avoided the issue altogether. However, today I thought I'd show you the little happy I made for Greg last night:

It's his own personal countdown calendar. I made the Mickey shapes for each day, then used stickers and pictures that I cut out of his extra park maps to decorate each page. We leave at the end of next week, eight days until Disney! (Insert Happy-Nine-Days-Away-From-Work-And-Lots-Of-New-Tater-Parts Dance here!)

Maximum Capacity

I like books. A lot. So much, I got a degree in them. And now, ten years later, I've reached maximum capacity. Just an example:

Just the middle section from one of my bookshelves*. That doesn't include the boxes full, the ones still stored at my parents' house, or the several boxes sold at every garage sale I've ever had, or the stacks in the living room, bedroom, and office. And come to think of it, I just remembered another plastic storage box under the bed in the guest room. Hello, my name is Susan, and I have a book addiction.

Somewhere between my sticker shock at paying $15 for the last books I bought and my utter paranoia at losing a library book if I take it on an airplane somewhere, I decided I had to do something to stop the madness. So I joined Paperbackswap last weekend. You get 2 credits for listing your first 10 books, then one credit for each book you send out to another member. I listed 15 books and as of today I've mailed out 5 and requested 2. It still costs me money in postage, but at least $1.50 or so per book is better than $15!

What I've found interesting is the trend in the books being requested from me. The first two to go right off the bat were both Christian books, one fiction one nonfiction. Everything else has been something I had for school, either high school or college. I figure students are using this as a way to swap literature texts, which is brilliant. There are quite a few that I don't think I can part with, but there are quite a few more than I can. It's a relief really. I couldn't bear to just throw them away (although, Lauren, I did toss some of those wack texts Colloquium in the trash) but would love to pass them on to somebody who can use them! I haven't searched through their cookbook section yet, but it's high on my list once I get a few credits built up! (So if anybody joins they can use me as a referral so I get more credits. Just saying you know... my username is Casper803... heh. More books...)

* The bookshelf in the picture was built from scratch by my dad. He built it for me for my 18th birthday. It's designed so that the bottom shelves are tall to hold bigger (and heavier) books and the top few shelves are just the right size for regular paperbacks, with the shelves in the middle average sized. It's awesome and I love it. And it says something about how long I've lived with this addiction!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

UPDATED: T Shirt Idea

From the top flap of a hot apple pie box at McDonald's:

Handle with care

I so want a t-shirt that says that. There's some debate about adding the "Open Here."

And yes, when I told Greg about it he totally rolled his eyes at me.


Leave it to Lauren to find me the shirt for sale here!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Strangeness on My TV and Other Random Stuff

I realized Saturday morning why it's so totally weird to watch the continuous hurricane coverage. Usually when a serious storm wanders into the gulf, our power is out before the real television coverage begins, therefore I've never watched a storm on TV before. I do think it's neat that we were able to get a local Houston channel's contious coverage all weekend. I wonder if they did that kind of stuff after Katrina. I don't know, by the time our power came back on nine days later the media was mostly over it.

When I started thinking about that it started freaking me out a little, so I took drastic measures to get myself out of my pending funk. I went baby shopping with Jen. That did the trick. (And a note to Wrigley - I'm still hiding somewhere in the house, really, I am, keep looking...) I started watching it again Sunday until they started talking about the gas lines and interviewing people who had been in line for a couple of hours. Had to turn it off. I sympathize with all of them, but couldn't deal with the flashbacks!

In other news, I talked to Mom last week and she said Dad's work had picked up drastically last week, kinda out of the blue, so he's keeping the shop open for a bit longer, probably on a month-by-month basis until he knows that's it's not a fluke. That's good enough news for now, since today was his "closing day."

Speaking of Dad, thanks to those of you who have make Heart Walk donations this week! I'm only $75 away from my goal!

And finally, I have a mouse. I'm very not happy about it. Apparently he likes South Beach bars and Polynesean sauce from Chick Fila. Greg suggested we borrow one of my in-law's cats for a few days, Cricket is a master mouser, but I didn't think I could put Casper through that. I put out one of the mouse boxes that's supposed to catch them but not kill them because the old fashioned traps really freak me out. Greg promised that if I put out the trap he'd empty it when the time comes. I just can't deal with mice people. I can't. I'm mostly hoping he's decided that my kitchen is a wasteland and moved back to the woods.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

World Domination

Clucky posted this link in the comments of an earlier post, but I wanted to make sure everybody saw it. The Flamingo Resistance Movement is alive and well in Pascagoula! One more small step in world domination!

Emergency Preparations

I'm having a particularly horrible week at work. There will be worse weeks to come, and I know this, but the stars have aligned to make this one pretty horrendous in it's own right. How bad? Well, let's just say I felt the need to test and make sure I would securely fit under my desk curled up in a ball and have room to rock back and forth. My coworkers were a little concerned, but I just wanted to be prepared, as tomorrow will be the culmination of a week's worth of banging my head against my desk.

And just for reference, I think there's probably room for two under there. It's a pretty roomy desk and I don't have any side drawers or anything. Just saying, in case anybody else ever needs a spot.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Baby Names

One of the longest running jokes between my dear, sweet husband and I involves baby names. During the very first road trip we ever took together, after we were engaged, we were driving to Atlanta when we crossed the Tallapoosa River. It did not take long to decide that if we ever had a daughter we should name her Tallapoosa. We could call her Tally. We're easily amused enough that it totally stuck, to the point that we've all but convinced several family members that we would indeed name a child that. We've been accumulating baby names ever since. It's gotten ridiculous enough that the lady that works right outside my office door has informed me that we are not to ever name a child without her approval.

With that in mind, and in honor of the news that Figment is going to be a girlie (woohoo!) I've put together a list of some of my favorites to help Jen answer the thousand questions she gets every day about what names they like.

Chick Fila (properly pronounce fee-la, not fe-lay)

Big Lots (just asking for trouble in middle school)

Pickle (perfect if she married a man whose last name was Pickle or Pickler. You could also make this a middle name, with the first name of Ina {in a}.)

Casper (for Jen this would be Wrigley. Cuts down on trying to remember who you're yelling at.)

Sweet Tea

Rolloverira (stole that one from my friend Nicole, who suffered through pregnancy at the where I worked. The Chief took suggestions in a hat and drew names for her baby. Rolloverira won. Yes, that's Rollover IRA.)

And of course the best and most obvious choice:

We had the most fun picking out names for multiples (back when we were SURE she'd have quadruplets and split them with us):

Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Pickle, Tomato, Lettuce, Patty, and Bun

Tallapoosa and Talledega

Luke and Leah (Greg's choice, I totally vetoed.)

Opera, City, Town, Residence and Carnegie (these really only work well for our family)

Really, we have dozens of them.


There's a big bake sale going on at the hospital today. Who are they raising money for? The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi.

Having eaten some of the fudge they were selling, I suspect their true mission was to increase funding by increasing their patient base. Excuse me now, I must go fall into a sugar-coma.

Dresses and Bows and Dolls and...

FINALLY! After six, count 'em, SIX boys, I'm finally getting a girl! I got word this morning that Jen's little Figment is a Fila (as in Chick Fila, I'm so putting that on her list of names)! I've never gotten to buy little dresses before. I'm so excited! After Nicholas and Carson and Parker and then Edwin followed by Ian and finally Dalton... I get a girlie! And a girlie that just one town over rather than multiple states over, which is a total bonus. I can't wait!!! Ok, working on my list of girlie baby names (other than Chick Fila). Perhaps this afternoon I can post that.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


How is it that I can go to a mall, try on every item of clothing in every store and find nothing that fits, but my mother-in-law, while on a trip an entire state away from me, can walk into a store and buy me a huge bag of clothes, in different sizes because they just "looked big/small," and have every single item fit? Shirts, sweathers, pants, a skirt...

It's something I call "Mom-Magic." Much like how my mom can walk into any store and have exactly what she's looking for on sale, every time. I haven't discovered my magic trait yet, I think it doesn't materialize until you actually become a mom. I'm pretty sure I won't have the ability to pick out clothes like that, considering that I can't hardly buy clothes for myself as it is. I may develop the "sale" magic, but I'm more likely to just not buy something if it's not on sale than plan to buy something and find a surprise sale. If I could pick my own magic ability, it would be to come home every day and find my house magically cleaned. Somehow I don't think I'll get that one, either.

As a side note, we had been keeping an eye out for our new washer and dryer to go on sale at Best Buy because they have a policy where if it goes on sale within 30 days they'll refund the difference in price. A few weeks ago we did indeed find them on sale in the Best Buy ad. The sale price was $50 more than the regular price we'd paid.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Randomness - Birthdays, Fundraising, Economics, and Rain

I haven't been online much at home lately, so I kinda feel like I've gotten behind here! Time to do some catching up:

Happy one-day-late birthday to BFF Jen, even though I know it really wasn't much "happy." Sorry you're feeling so bad, chickadee! Hope you're back on your feet soon. Let me know if I do anything. Or if you just need to gripe, moan and groan, I'm here for you.

Remember from this post how I'm raising money for the American Heart Association* in honor of my dad, but I also pointed out that my family is a big supporter of American Cancer Society's Relay for Life? Well, this morning I had an email from my mom. Apparently she won a vacation package from one of her local Relay for Life raffles. It's to one of the resorts on the coast (hope it's not one of the flooded ones!) and includes $100 for gas and tickets to Center Stage Theater in Biloxi. (Take me! Take me!) I would like to point out that this is the same woman who won a very nice stereo with 5 disc CD changer in a Vicksburg-area Relay for Life raffle a few years ago (she gave me the stereo, she didn't need it). I told her she needs to start buying lottery tickets for me!

In somewhat related news, yesterday my dad told me that he's planning to close his business in a couple of weeks. He's had very few paying jobs since the first of August and doesn't want to keep using up his cash reserves just to pay the utility bills. This really upsets me. I'm not terribly worried about their financial situation, but it bothers because of how discouraged he sounded. Dad has never been one to give up on anything. He's owned his own business for over 20 years, this particular shop for about 15 of those. He's been successful as a business owner, even when picking up his established shop in Vicksburg and moving it across the state. But he doesn't see the economy improving and the places that usually send him business have been incredibly slow as well. I know they'll be ok, and he'll be able to do some things he's been wanting to do instead of sitting around at the shop staring at the walls, but it's hard for me to see him close under these circumstances. If he was still doing decent business and just decided he wanted to retire, I'd be fine with it. The idea that after all these years he doesn't think he can do enough business to stay open is a huge indication that the economy has really tanked.

And finally, I'm so sick of the rain I could scream. Really, it's starting to take a toll on my mental state. We'd just gotten a few days of sun back after the bizarre August monsoons, now another week of it, with more possibly on the way? I want to crawl under my bed and curl up in a fetal position.

*A note on the AHA fundraising, my total should actually be $350. The stupid thing is giving me trouble with the manual entry of some donations. Hmmm. Wonder if Greg budgeted those matching funds for October...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Casper's Nightmare

He looks harmless enough, but for Casper having two interloper pups in his house at the same time is unacceptable. We've only had one knock down drag out fight, and Sam here won. I can't say he wasn't provoked... Molly is just trying to stay out of the way. She knows she a little dog in a house of big dogs. She did get a bath and little bit of a hair cut earlier. I've never had a dog that didn't mind a bath and would let me use the hair dryer on her. I was hoping Casper was taking notes, but I suspect he was just glad to see her getting tortured.

Tried to post this earlier but stopped to facilitate a 3-dog potty break and a transformer blew while we were outside. Entergy must be on the ball this morning because there was a truck on our street within about 10 minutes and the power was back on within 30. Let's hope that's our only outage.