Wednesday, December 26, 2007


...that's the report card battle-cry!

Proud to announce that I am the proud owner of 4 A's & 1 B. Stinkin' Biology shot down my hopes of straight A's, but nevertheless....I'll gladly take it! :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

One down....Three more to go....

The tests are complete, the grades are being entered into the computers....oh, the suspense! {lol}

It's so strange not to have homework or something to be planning ahead for. It has totally messed up my routine. But it is a WONDERFUL thing to be able to sleep a little later or stay up late watching movies (Movies!! They are great! I had forgotten about them!). The only problem is that I just realized how very short it actually is! GASP! I have so much on my "to-do" list that I don't think I'll be able to get everything done. Now that school is out, I have to catch up on all the "normal" parts of my life that I have been neglecting. {ugh}

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm a Survivor!

YES! I managed to survive my most difficult class this year--Advanced English Composition! Yesterday was the final day of class (we presented our papers instead of taking a final test) and we all exhaled a collective sigh of relief...then we ate cupcakes! When we were totally stressed out during the height of our paper-writing madness, I told them we would have chocolate cupcakes at the end of the semester to celebrate our survival.

Cupcakes never tasted so good! :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

I "Heart" Dead Week!

To be sitting here with no homework assignments to complete or papers to's a WONDERFUL feeling. Even more wonderful is the fact that after Thursday, I will be done with semester 1 of 4!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Doin' the Victory Dance!


1. I made an "A" on my 15 page journal article that gave me hives, nightmares and plenty of stress!!! (Plus, the prof wrote "excellent" on it. SWEET!)

2. Made an "A" on my book which also gave me hives, nightmares and plenty of stress. Glad he wasn't really grading on it being a literary wonder, because I'm pretty sure it would bore anyone to tears!

Monday, December 3, 2007

The End Is In Sight....

Well it's not the end end, but it is the end of the semester! YAY!

November was a killer month for me. One of my professors promised in advance that he would give us heck in November, and I must admit that he kept his end of the bargain! I really was totally stressed out. My school work load was at its highest, my daughter was sick with two different illnesses during two weeks (interpret: I had to miss some classes), my grandmother passed away topped off with Thanksgiving holiday travels. I was on stress overload. I'm sure I've been equally or more stressed out at various times in my life, but nothing really comes to mind. I do know that, looking back, the things that really made me want to huddle in a corner and rock back & forth as a 19 year old freshmen are totally wimpy compared with grown-up stuff I must juggle now. I guess the difference is a little more maturity. Although, I must admit that maturity adds its own set of stresses. I used to be perfectly content to settle for a "B" and even the occasional "C" when I was younger, but it pains me to get less than an "A" now that I'm all grown up. In fact, there are many projects that I know I could get by with doing less on, but I can't force myself to turn in something that is lower than my expectations.

The wonderful, wonderful news is that I only have 3 more class days and one day of finals. HOORAY! I'm still pretty stressed out, but this time, it's due to the holiday crunch more than school work. At last, I feel like I can breathe a little easier because the end is in sight.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good News/Bad News Kind of Week

Good News: Our professor said that if we completed our book by Monday at midnight, he would only require 42 pages instead of 60. I spent the weekend typing endlessly and managed to e-mail slightly over 42 pages at 10:30 p.m. Monday despite a pounding headache and eyes that felt like they were going to pop out of my head if I had to look at the computer screen for another minute.

Bad News: I cut out two chapters that I had written when the project first began & they contained several sentence formats that were required for the book. It will probably affect my grade....but I'm too exhausted to care too much.

Good News: I got my conference paper back (the 10-pager that has consumed my every thought for a month) and I got a B+. Even though I got nearly two full pages of commentary from the prof, including how it didn't really fit what he required in a conference paper, he did slip in one tiny sentence at the bottom of the page that said, "You are a good writer." There is hope yet!

Bad News: The 10-pager now has to be turned into a 15-pager...before next week.

Good News: Our school library is now carring books on CD, so I can listen to something interesting during my commute. I checked out "Emma" by Jane Austen.

Bad News: I got to listen to chapters one through four, and then my CD player held the CD hostage. It won't spit it out or play it. I have to have my radio removed and shipped to a plant in Dallas to have it fixed. I'm sure the CD will be ruined, which means I'll have to shell out cash for it. UGH!

Good News: I just realized that Thanksgiving break is next week.

Bad News: I just realized that Thanksgiving break is next week!!! I have to get Christmas gifts for extended family that I only see once a year, bake homemade goodies for a Thanksgiving Bake Sale, whip up something for our all-church Thanksgiving luncheon, on top of the baking I must do for the town celebration of our state centennial this weekend! AND, it's my husband's birthday next week. AND we have to make a one-way 8-hour drive for the holidays.....AND our DVD players got stolen out of our vehicle this week, so I have no idea how we will entertain children that long!!!

Good News: Since we will be gone for Thanksgiving break, there will be no student newspaper production next week, so we didn't have any article assignments this week.

Bad News: Actually, it's all good news on that one! Yay!

Bad News: My daughter got strep this week.

Good News: I had to stay home and miss a couple of classes on Tuesday morning, which allowed me to catch up on some much-neglected housework!

Good News: I had three photo sessions booked this week.

Bad News: I had three photo sessions booked this week....and it's hard catching up on all my editing! But the good news is, these are my final sessions for the year. I'm looking forward to resting for a while (or maybe taking pictures of my own family!)

Good News: I caught up on all the writing assignments which were dragging me down.

Bad News: I put off doing my Biology studies for almost 2 weeks, so tomorrow, I must spend ALL DAY in front of the computer listening to lectures, doing labs & taking quizzes. I think I have 5 labs and 3 quizzes to do by midnight or my grade will drop a full letter. YIKES!

Good News: Tonight is "TV night" in our household which means I get to watch a few of my favorite sitcoms. A good laugh and a soft pillow....there's no bad news there!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Online Degree vs. Traditional University

Before I enrolled in my present university, I seriously considered a variety of entirely online universities to complete my degree. I could have gotten pretty much the same degree in title, although the class requirements would have been somewhat different. The cost would have been MUCH different as online schools are pretty expensive, but by the time I factor in my gasoline and daycare expenses for my daughter, it probably comes pretty close to even.

But I've noticed that there are several things that I would have missed out on had I not chosen to attend a traditional university.

#1--Interaction with Other Students. I like meeting new people (now that I'm older--it was harder when I was 18). Plus, you never get the same kind of discussion in an online classroom as you do in the "real world." (I know this from experience, having taken several online classes and currently being enrolled in one). Plus, it's always great to get together & whine about our stress and work loads!

#2--Unexpected Free Days. This has become a major "biggee" for me. I've had several classes unexpectedly canceled this month and it has been such a blessing. For instance, today I had two classes canceled, so I didn't have to leave for school until 10:.00 That gave me two hours to wash & put away 5 loads of laundry, make up beds, wash dishes, clean up the kitchen, gather up trash, tidy up the living room and a bunch of other things that have been neglected while I have been doing homework. I was so stressed out last night because of all the things left undone that I woke up in a terrible mood. Those two hours helped me get a grip on the chaos and my day went so much more smoothly.

#3--Hands-on Experience & Guest Speakers. Not all majors require hands-on experience, but it's always so much better than book learning alone. It really reinforces the stuff you learn in class. This semester in Newspaper Editing, we have been working on "dummy-ing" newspapers, which is drawing out the design for each page and deciding where all the bits-and-pieces will go. It would be much easier just to open a computer application & drag the photos and stories around until they fit & looked okay. But, by dummy-ing, I have begun to learn what a good lay-out looks like and how much space is required for the sum of the parts.

Also, this week I was going to have the opportunity to hear a guest speaker--a journalist--who was going to share some of his first hand experiences as a crime reporter and coverage of the Iraqi war as an embedded reporter. (Nevermind the fact that he missed the speaking engagement...that's for another post.)

So far, I feel like I made the right choice in going to a traditional school rather than finishing online.

It. Is. Finished.

My 10-page conference paper, that is. I swear--I sat in my office chair almost ALL DAY yesterday trying to write the final two paragraphs to no avail. I finally finished it and after about four minor tweaks, I finally got the sucker printed out sometime near midnight. Had my entire family not been asleep, tbere's a good chance that I would have been singing and dancing up and down our hallways.

But, alas, my joy is but temporary! The paper must be expanded into a 15-page journal article by Tuesday (well, a rough draft, that is). Plus, if I want to get out of writing the entire 60-page book, I must turn in a 42-page book by midnight Monday.

Now I have a real dilemma: spend my weekend doing homework so that I won't have to deal with even MORE homework later, or spend my weekend doing the things that I had already planned (like finishing my youngest daughter's "baby's first year" scrapbook that she has been begging me do complete).

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Taking a Breather

This weekend was nice. I did have some stuff to do for school (like an online biology test and work on my conference paper), but for the most part, I was able to take it easy. Sure, I had to catch up on the other non-school related parts of my life (which I wans't able to catch up on, by the way), but I have been SO drained that I just didn't care to do much of anything other than eat my kiddos' Halloween candy & watch movies with my husband. It felt great.

However, now that it is the eve of Monday and I have considered what my calendar holds in store for me this week, I'm starting to freak out again. I've come to realize that things that used to not be such a big deal can really throw my week into a tail-spin.

Tomorrow, I will make the three hour drive to Texas to visit my doctor, my sister, my best friend, stop at a couple of stores, do a senior photoshoot & drive back just in time to throw my kids in bed. No big deal--I've done it lots of times. BUT....Tuesday, I will be at school from 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. because my daughter has violin lessons in the evening and I am planning to stay late for a guest speaker. My husband is meeting with someone here in our home while I will be gone. Typing that just freaked me out because I'm already stressed about the sad state of my home this weekend.

The rest of the week is equally as busy including a weekend away from home.

UGH. Can't a girl relax for a day???? Geez.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming....

I've gotta say....the past week or two has really been tough. Are schedules have been jam-packed with things and I have been on stress overload with my school work. Like Dory in Finding Nemo, I have to keep reminding myself to 'just keep swimming" and I will make it through.

I've been totally wiped out at the end of every day. Finally, I think I've managed to get to a place where I can breathe a little again. Another test is down, I think I've gotten a handle on my conference paper after spending some time with my professor, I can churn out newspaper articles fairly quickly (if I can get ahold of my sources) and I've managed to figure out a method to the madness with my online biology class.

I would LOVE a day when I don't have to think about any homework whatsoever and just sit around in sweats, watch movies and chill out, but that day has yet to arrive.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yay, Monday!

"Who cheers for Monday?" you say? I do! I do beacause it means I survived the past week and weekend.

The following is a list of the great number of very time consuming things I had on my plate last week:

*Host 5 friends who stayed to lead our...
*Nightly church activities (revival meetings) from 6-8
*Scrub house from top to bottom for guests
*Finish writing a 10 page rough draft conference paper...or at least 5 pages...
*Spend at least an hour in the school library doing research for said paper
*Write a story on the upcoming Halloween activities on-campus (having to track down several sources)
*2 homework assignments, 2 labs, 3 quizzes and a test for my online biology class AFTER watching 3-4 sections of macromedia lectures on the computer (rinse and repeat: I have to do this every week)
*Read a journal article for a quiz--whoops! I managed to miss this one. Got a big fat "zero" on that quiz.
*Try to figure out why my youngest daughter suddenly hates school and cries everyday. Consoled daughter while reinforcing the idea that she cannot be a pre-K drop-out.
*Gently remind oldest daughter to do her reading and practice her violin
*Wash laundry
*Gather necessary booths, decorations, supplies and manpower for church's Family Fun Festival
*Finish making daughter's ruby slippers for her Dorothy Halloween costume
*Mail client portrait orders
*Order new client portrait orders
*Order winter coats for children
*Try to find dresses for children--with no success
*Decorate church for Fun Fest; monitor children
*Wash more laundry
*Try to monitor my calorie intake as I have been doing a lot of "stress eating" (wonder why?)
*Research & post a topic about "pseudoscience" on my biology class bulletin board for credit
*Have I mentioned laundry?
*Attend eldest daughter's basketball games--2 day tournament
*Try to work out a plan for Thanksgiving with cousin in Arkansas
.....and I'm sure I'm forgetting much more.....

Sadly, I have to repeat much of the activities again this week!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Weirdest Thing I've Ever Done at 8 a.m.

(At home, that is...)

I just spent the past 10 minutes counting individual grains of rice for my biology lab (I'm taking an online biology course).

Just in case you've ever wondered, 5 mL of rice has 272 rice grains.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Special Thanks.... all my friends who decided to do as badly as I on our midterm!

When I got my test back with a red "79" written at the top, I felt like tearing up a bit. It's been a long time since I've felt the sting of a C!

Yes, I know that C is "average" & really nothing to be whining about....unless, you're a perfectionist like me! (I swear, school has really brought it out in me. I allow myself one or two incorrect answers as acceptable, but beat myself up for anything more than that.)

Anyway....thanks to all my pals who sensed that I may not be up for the test task and decided to bomb along with me. For your generous actions, I was able to bump that 79 up to a 99!!! Whoo-hoo!! God bless the curve!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Back to the Grind

While I did spend a lot of Fall Break actually working on school assignments, I did find time to go shopping with the family, sleep late, visit with some friends and veg out in front of the t.v. a time or two.

I am a little ahead on my online biology assignments for now--I still have to read (or at least skim) 6 boring chapters, but I'm pretty satisfied with my progress.

All of this "trying to get ahead" business is due to two things: I have a very busy week (non-school events) and I have to have that blasted rough draft for my conference paper by Thursday!

This paper (this CLASS) is making me age prematurely, I tell ya. I spend countless hours online reading journal articles and reading thick books by my bedside trying to find decent material to cite in my paper....with very little results.

Tomorrow I am planning to skip a class and spend an hour and a half in the library doing research. Thank heavens for the nice reference librarian who pointed me to several specific books, even going so far as to give me page numbers to check out. BLESS HIM!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sianora, Alarm Clock!

So, I may have to spend my fall break doing homework and research, but--by golly--I sure do love the fact that I don't have to wake up to an alarm clock! Sweet relief!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


It's {kinda} hard to believe that it's midterm already. Luckily, I only had one actual midterm test and it wasn't too painful (just time intensive).

Fall Break officially begins for me tomorrow, but I'm really kind of aggravated because I can't afford to just kick back and enjoy the break. In my one very challenging class, I am already supposed to have a rough draft of a conference paper started.

I don't.

I spent a good part of the weekend doing online web searches and scrounging through tons of academic journal papers to find reinforcements for my thesis to no avail. So, I imagine I will also spend a great deal of Fall Break researching.

I just hope I'm not expected to work over Thanksgiving Break. That's a deal-breaker for me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Late Night

I decided that last night would be a "stay-up-late-and-get-things-done" kind of night. I didn't even use any caffiene to make it through, but I'm defientely relying on it today. I ended up staying up past one although I knew that I had to be up early for a 3 hour long photo shoot today. I did get something accomplished--I wrote two articles for the student newpaper--but it seemed like I should have gotten more completed. I really thought I would have spare time to be writing a chapter for that (ugh) book that I have to write for Advanced Composition. But I didn't. And I don't care.

Today, I just wish I was a coffee drinker.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good Day

This is what a good day would be like:

*I start the day with a nice slice of homemade bread

*I pass a state trooper while speeding and NOT get pulled over

*I get to school on time despite a late start

*My husband takes care of some deliveries that would have otherwise been stressing me out all day

*I get my first test back & I made 100%! Yahoo!

*All of the people that I've been trying to contact for a week for a newspaper article FINALLY get back in touch with me so I can finish on time

*My toughest professor who rarely finds anything without fault writes things like"Great Job!" and "Well Done!" on my paper and uses it as an example in class

*I almost reach my goal of making 10 of 10 on my current events quiz

*The temperature outside stays around 81 degrees with a nice, autumn breeze

THAT would be a good day. I had one today.

Friday, October 5, 2007

First Test

Thursday was my first test. Retraining myself to study and to think about testing as a whole was a little strange. When the teacher said, "You won't need a scantron," I thought to myself, "I haven't thought about a scantron in years!" And when I sat down to study my review questions, I became increasingly aware of my inability to focus on one thing for a long period of time.

Though I had studied some at home (meaning, the best that I could even though a 5 year old was asking me a million questions as I looked up definitions), I was lucky enough not to have to be in class before the test, so I checked out the library for more study time.

While there, I discovered another wonderful thing I had forgotten about: study rooms. If you've never seen a study room, they are like little closets with one tiny window & a door so you can lock yourself in and study without interruption. Only problem was that these study rooms had open tops, thus not being particularly sound proof. Oh well...I got to study quietly nonetheless.

My test was multiple chioce (I LOVE multiple choice tests!) and the best part was that it only took me 15 minutes to finish! I love it when I have spare time between classes! I rewarded myself with a sandwich, tater tots & a drink from a local drive-in. Hope I don't take too many tests this semester....the calorie count will kill me!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

As Overheard...

Last week, if you had been sitting next to me in one of my classes, you would have overheard this conversation:

21 year old girl: "Can I ask you a personal question?"

Me: "Sure. Go ahead."

21: "Exactly how old are you?"

Me: "I'm thirty."

21: "Really? You don't look that old. You still look good."

Me: ***maniacal laughing**

21: "I knew that wouldn't come out right. No matter what I said, it wasn't going to come out right."

I wasn't sure whether to be flattered that I "still look good" and "don't look that old" or if I should have asked at what point one normally starts to look bad! : )

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I don't feel overworked, but I feel drained.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cell Phone Withdrawal

In the not-too-distant past, I didn't even own a cell phone and seemed to get by in life jsut fine. Why is it that if I accidentally forget to bring along my phone these days, I freak out?

Yesterday, I got all the way to campus before I realized that my phone was sitting on my bedroom dresser. I sent an e-mail to my husband once I got to class just in case he tried to track me down (and just in case I didn't show up at home when I was supposed to so he could come looking for me & my broken down car on the side of the road--lol!).

I think the main problem for me is that I use my phone as a watch. I haven't worn a watch since I became a cell phone owner. I admit it--I use my phone to monitor class time most days. Some of my classes have clocks that don't work or are in weird locations. It's much easier to lay your phone on your desk & watch the minutes tick by instead of trying to discreetly look at the clock over your shoulder! Things got pretty tricky for me when we got out of class early. I was planning to walk across campus, but I had no way of knowing what time I needed to head back to my building. So, I decided just to stay-put in the computer lab instead.

Although I did worry about not having a way to contact someone if I did have car trouble, I really just wished I had the phone for passing time on the drive home. Lots of times, I'll use my drive time to catch up with friends and family.

It was a little frustrating to be without my phone, but I'm pretty sure I'll remember to check my bag before I leave from now on!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I don't know what to do. Literally. I don't even know where to start.

All I need is a simple thesis and one measly paragraph, but I can't even muster a sentence. My mind feel empty and vast. I want to break into tears of frustration. I feel like I'm about two steps away from an anxiety attack.

I can't remember EVER feeling like this before in my lifetime. Even when I have been challenged by assignments, tasks or projects, I've never felt completely....blank.

I feel stupid and helpless. The latter is very true because I don't have anyone to turn to for help. My professor would just be more confusing. My classmates, from what I can gather, are as bum-fuzzled as I. (I have no idea if bum-fuzzled is a word, but it completely implies the way I feel right now)

I can only hope that everyone else in my class fails miserably as well.

I'm tired of writing. Well, I'm tired of writing for academia. And I'm most tired of thinking about writing for academia. There seems to be no room left for much else these days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I always assumed that when I did finally get back to college, I would still be studying the same subject I began with: English or more specifically, English Education. Right before I enrolled, I decided to switch to Mass Communications (a.k.a. Journalism) for a number of reasons (one of them being a speedier exit to a diploma, I'll admit). I second-guessed the decision for months. My first day of class, I remember pro & con-ing it to death on the drive to school, wondering if I had made a mistake. I finally told myself to relax, that I could switch to a Mass Comm minor & back to English major if I needed to after the first semester without a problem.

Funny how things change.

For most of my life I loved English studies.....literature, writing, poetry, etc. It was my forte'. Now, I can't stand it.

I'm totally loving my journalism classes and find that communications writing interests me SO much more than academic writing that is required in my English classes. In fact, I DREAD my English classes now. Actually, I'm only taking one this semester, but the thought of having to sit through an advanced poetry composition class in the spring makes me want to have an anxiety attack. I can't think of anything more annoying except maybe the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard!

Today I have decided that I am dropping my English minor, thus stepping away from English altogether. Instead, I will have a plain-sounding "Multidisciplinary Studies" minor with an emphasis in Fine Arts & Humanities. Yes, it sort of bothers me to have such a "catch-all" minor, but if the real point of this journey back to school is to leave with a degree and have fun learning stuff along the way, then who cares? Right?

I know that my disinterest in English studies is based on my current composition class which is frustrating me beyond belief and exhausting my brain. I actually enjoy my little class (it's an advanced senior level class so there are fewer than ten in the room)--we have great discussions and conversations--but the writing is drudgery for me. I don't care about being published in academic journals or dissecting a long-dead writer's novels. Plus, journalistic writing is the exact opposite of English writing, so I am constantly switching gears. English writing just doesn't interest me anymore.

I wonder why it ever did?

Moral of the story (if there is one): a lot of things change with age, including our interests. I'm beginning to be very thankful that I waited until later in life to get my degree.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My First Sick Day

I knew it would inevitibly come...but so soon? Come on....we haven't even hit the peak of flu season yet!

I woke up at 4-something a.m. yesterday (yes, a wee bit earlier than normal) because my sinuses were killing me. I took some over-the-counter sinus medicine that my mom had passed on to me. I had taken it once before & felt like I was on some far-out trip from the 70's, but decided that it would be okay this time. Surely it would be out of my system by the time the alarm went off.


I got up and I was dizzy, sweaty, nauseous and just felt downright out-of-my-mind! All I wanted to do was lie down in a fetal position. And--of yes--my sinuses were still killing me.

But I suffered was school picture day for my kids and even though I don't buy school pictures, I still wanted them to look nice for the yearbook. I even got myself completely dressed right down to the make-up and everything. But I had to lie down.

My sweet husband went to pick up my school-day ritual: a diet Dr. Pepper from the gas station, but I could only take a few sips. Then, when I could wait no longer without being late, I gathered up all my courage, slipped on my monster sunglasses (because when I am sick, I get severely sensitive to sunlight), grabbed my backpack and began the trek to school. I was advised to stop by my DH's office first so he'd know if I was going. I made the two block drive to his office and then he asked me if I could drive on. Maybe. "Can you sit in class all day after you get there?" I dunno.

Two seconds later, I decided to go back home & get in bed.

As it turns out, it was a good decision. I stayed in bed ALL day long, I slept ALL day long (which is very unusual for me) and I ended up bonding with my toilet (a.k.a "puking").

I have no idea what weird illness this was unless it was related to the weird ingredient that was in the medicine I took. At any rate, I did NOT want to miss class so early in the semester. I also had a dental appointment scheduled for yesterday afternoon which I had to cancel. UGH!

I'm hoping that, in the future, I will only be sick on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Surviving the Drive

Surviving the drive--that's what I titled one of this week's articles for my newswriting class that contains tips & tricks for commuter students.

One of the reasons I hesitated in returning to college was the awful 120 mile round-trip drive that would await me daily.

Surprisingly, the commute is not all that bad. It's a nice way to start the day. It's one of the rare times when I can sit and think without noise or interruption. Some days, the drive can even be beautiful, depending on the weather. It has not been what I expected at all.

I thought I would share some of the tips that I gathered for my article in hopes that someone else might also find them useful for the dreaded commuter lifestyle:

*Plan ahead. Gather all essential items the night before leaving for campus. Check the fuel level of your vehicle to avoid having to stop at the gas station on the way to class.

*Drive safely. It is very important to get a good night’s rest before driving. According to a study done by the AAA (, a person who slept for five hours or less is up to 4.5 times as likely to be involved in a sleep-related crash. Also, always remember to wear a safety belt when traveling.

*Stock up with essentials. Cell phone chargers, pens, paper, medicine, snacks and money are several items to never be without.

*Be prepared in case of an emergency. Learn how to change a flat. Create a back-up plan in case bad weather--such as storms or snow—arrives.

*Find ways to make the drive more enjoyable or productive. One student I interviewed uses a small, hand-held tape recorder to record important information from her classes. She studies by listening to her audio notes on the way to class.

Audio books can be a great alternative to listening to the radio. Students rarely have spare time for recreational reading, so the morning commute can be a great way to “read” without flipping any pages. Audio books can also be downloaded online or checked out at a local library.

*Perform regular car maintenance. Prevention is the key to avoiding many mechanical problems. Check fluid levels and tire air pressure regularly. Also, change a vehicle’s oil every 3000 miles.

*Spend time on campus outside of classroom time. Get involved in student events and activities. Commuting does not have to mean giving up a social life.

*Find a place on-campus for studying and relaxing. My university has a commuter lounge with tables, couches, lockers, TV and even a mini kitchen for commuter students (only!) to use. Cool, huh? Other places for peace and quiet include the library, bookstore or coffee shop.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Yesterday was the first time that I've felt totally wiped-out after school. Maybe it was the fact that I started my day with a not-so-balanced breakfast of a Little Debbie brownie and a diet Dr. Pepper, but I was tired and groggy all day long. Several classes seemed longer than usual and, as I mentioned, I was starving by lunch time. I managed to get out of my final class 15 minutes early (which is highly unusual) and I grabbed my second diet Dr. Pepper of the day before starting the long 60 mile drive.

As soon as I pulled into my garage and unloaded the car, I reloaded the vehicle with my family and we drove 35 miles for a birthday party. Luckily, they were serving pizza at the party because I had become shakey once again.

I could barely keep my eyes open as we headed home (good thing I wasn't driving). I managed to get everyone ready cleaned up and in their p.j.'s--even pulled off our traditional bedtime story--before I literally crashed into my pillow. When I say, "crash," I mean the kind of sleep where you are out almost immediately with no concern for the drool flowing from your mouth: serious, deep sleep. It felt good. It felt deserved.

So, for all you adults considering the return back to college, remember: (University) Mama told you there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this my (University) Mama said....

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Watching the Clock

Today was the first day that I have experienced the "counting-down-every-second syndrome." One class, in particular, seemed to be dragging on and on.... It was one of those boring, common sense-type subjects plus I was tired, hungry and I was beginning to get shaky & headachey. I was hoping and praying that she would let us out of class just 15 minutes early so that I would have time to run to the Student Union and grab a bagel before my next class began, but she didn't.

I could have burned holes through that clock with my eyes!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Textbooks Can Be Funny?

Yep, it's true. Textbooks CAN be interesting and funny, believe it or not! I actually enjoy doing the reading for my journalism classes. Books for both classes were written by Tim Harrower and they are full of quirky quotes and funny examples. For instance, we were reading about how not to influence the reader or bias the story, so they used an old excerpt from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show where Stephen Colbert was describing the Republican National Convention using dark, evil terms to describe the event. I literally laughed out loud--not because he was describing the Republican Convention--but because it was so heavily, obviously and purposely biased. Plus, The Daily Show (and The Colbert Report) is just hilarious. Who can resist fake news? :)

All this to say, textbooks have never been so fun...well, in journalism anyway (sorry history majors!).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Free Tutition & Textbooks? Sign Me Up!

I just happened to be browsing over at one of my favorite online stores,, though I'm not sure why since I have absolutely no time for lesiure reading...but I digress.

Anyhoo, look what I found! Amazon is hosting a Tuition & Textbooks Sweepstakes where you can win one of these fabulous prizes:

*One Grand Prize: 1 year of tuition up to $25,000 (that'll be plenty for me, thanks!)

*50 Second-place prizes: A $1,000 Gift Certificate for the purchase of textbooks sold by

*1,000 Third-place prizes: An Gift Certificate for the purchase of one textbook sold by, up to a maximum value of $150

So, why the heck are you still reading this blog? Head on over to Amazon & sign up for the Tuition & Textbooks Sweepstakes right away!

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Electronic Backpack

Here's the problem: I have to do a lot of writing (it's the nature of my major). I have to write both in class AND at home. How do I transport works-in-progress if I'm not using a laptop? I've found a great solution: Backpack .

Backpack is a FREE program where you can basically upload your notes, papers or lists to a website (of sorts) created just for you. You can make your Backpack private or shareable (great if you are working on a group project). You can also get your Backpack to e-mail reminders to you. Backpack has a calendar option and other services which do not come with the free program, but are available with an upgrade.

I just loaded my book-in-progress for my Advanced Composition class to my very own Backpack site so that I can add to it or change it from any computer. Awesome!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Putting the"Labor" back in "Labor Day Weekend"

I'm spending my Labor Day weekend working. That was what it was designed for, right? J/K

Yes, I've sent my family away on various fun-filled adventures so I can stay at home and do homework, housework and just plain ol' work!

Remember that book I mentioned having to write for one of my classes? Well, I'm supposed to already have it started. Actually, I started one, but now I'm going with a less time consuming theme (if that is even possible).

I'm actually backed up on work from my job (I'm a photographer, by the way) so that means I also have editing to do.

Speaking of editing, I have reading for my editing class.

I also have a newspaper article to write.

Oh--and laundry to do....and feet that need pedicuring (yea, I know that's not a real word, thanks spellcheck).

So, guess what I've been doing? Loading family photos from my vacation, laying on the trampoline in the sun, surfing my favorite blogs and websites....pretty much anything that can keep me away from the task at hand.

The good news is that I have completed some of my reading assignments and photo editing, but the bad news is that I am still putting off the writing of the I am right now as I sit here writing on my trusty blog.


Okay, back to work....

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Times, They Are a Changin'

One of the big differences I have noticed between college ten years ago and today is the use of technology & multimedia. After all, I am typing this from a computer as I am waiting for class to begin! This week, I've watched UTube videos in class, almost every professor lectures using a projector, and everyone has access to computers (you don't have to go to the library anymore).

While I LOVE these changes (b/c I am a technology geek and visual learner), one thing is driving me nuts: the students will spend half of class time checking out their Facebook or MySpace pages while the professor is lecturing. I know the new generation is all about multi-tasking (heck, I am too!), but come on....there's no way they can actually be listening.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Don't Like To Be Wrong

Okay, so this isn't actually news for me. My nickname was "I Know" as a kid because whenever someone would start to explain something to me, I would interrupt with "I know...I know...." I'm a know-it-all smartie pants. I acknowledge this fault and embrace it. :)

Today, I was reminded just how much I hate to be wrong. I had three quizzes today. I actually prepared for two of them (except the second half of one which was unannounced and covering random current events). I failed to make 100% on any of these quizzes...and it bothers me to no end.

It doesn't matter that they were only worth a mere 10 points or so. It doesn't matter that no one made 100% in one of those classes. It doesn't matter that I was unaware of a reading assignment (as was half of my class) and went in completely unprepared. All that matters is that I didn't make 100%! I literally cringed each time I realized that I had missed a question. Likewise, I felt like jumping out of my seat & pumping my arms in celebration each time I answered correctly.

Why am I such a perfectionist? I swear, it's going to kill me someday. Man, it's tough being a know-it-all smartie pants.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mental Health Days

One of my professors wants us to turn in any days that we plan to be absent this semester. That includes, but is not limited to: doctor's appointments, travel, mental health days or days we just want to skip for the heck of it. I think he's giving us approximately two skip days but expects us to be in class every session otherwise. We are supposed to turn in our "skip days" in advance so he can plan his schedule accordingly.

I think it's plenty generous of him to allow us "mental health days" (Lord knows I will need them!), but my skip days will be of the "unplanned" variety. You know: I'm puking, kids are puking, husband is puking, funeral, terrorist attack in my rural Midwestern town.... those kinds of days.

If someone knows what days these may arise, I need to know by 2 p.m. tomorrow so I can let my professor know. Thanks!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Class Is Now In Session

My first day of class came and went rather smoothly, though there were a few surprises along the way:

*I did finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after all! I stayed up way too late to do so, but it is finished! Yay, me!

*The bookstore failed to mention to me that they only hold the books they pull for you until 4 p.m. on the first day of class...which was yesterday. Grrrrr.... I calmly (while gritting my teeth) walked back out to my car and pulled my own books in less than three minutes, thank you very much! Luckily, there were plenty of used books left.

*Turns out, by enrolling in one of my classes, I automatically become a reporter for the campus newspaper...and by enrolling in another, I automatically become an editor for the campus newspaper!

*I actually had time to eat lunch (being that on the first day of class it is a cardinal sin to keep students for the entire hour and fifteen minutes). I didn't try the cafeteria, but the food court was actually good. We don't have any of those fancy franchises in our food court, but I was able to enjoy a nice grilled chicken sandwich nonetheless. Choices and flavors have vastly improved since my first go around in college world.

*There were a lot of "getting to know you" exercises today (especially given that my major is Mass Communication). I told a girl in my first class that I had been out of college for ten years now and that it made me feel old to say it. She said, "you don't look old at all!" You've earned some serious bonus points, Missy! In my last class, I had struck up a budding friendship with a gal who asked me "Are you living in the dorms or commuting?" Bless you! A thousand blessings upon you! I thought it was a wonderful way to start and end my day.

*There is a good chance that I might write myself into oblivion this semester. News writing should be fine, but Advanced Composition is questionable. Things I now have to add to my to-do list: write a 10 page research paper, a 15 page paper to submit to an academic journal & a 60 page book. On the upside: there's not a lot of reading involved.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the Eve of Reentry

Tomorrow, I will be sitting in a desk for the first time in almost 10 years (well, at least a desk that is not exclusively my own).

I'll admit it: I have a few butterflies. I have also managed to give myself a headache. I originally wrote it off as a sinus problem but is more likely due to the list of incomplete projects I wanted to be finished by today.

One of my goals was to read the 6th (and final) Harry Potter book before school began (you one last recreational read before the mandatory stuff is piled on). Having only purchased the book late on the 24th, I can be pretty proud that I've managed to sneak in about 500 of the 740-something pages, but I didn't meet my deadline. Oh well...surely we won't be covered in homework on the first day (will we?).

There's a whole slew of household projects left unfinished, not to mention time consuming projects like digitally designing my children's scrapbooks (covering the past 2 years...yeah, I'm a little behind).

I don't know why I insist on pushing myself to have every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed. It's not as if life ends tomorrow. Right???? RIGHT?????

Beat the Rush

If you're not a freshman student, it's likely that there's no hand-holding for you throughout the college process. You're basically on your own to figure out when to be where and what you need to do before class begins. That can pose a problem for some of us who can't exactly remember all the details about the registration process.

I got lucky.

I was on-campus earlier this summer to finish my enrollment (basically to "seal the deal" before I could back out -- lol!), and I happened to be in the Registrar's Office when I overheard the lady "hand-holding" for an incoming true freshman. She explained where several key buildings are located, told her where she needed to go next (get her ID card made & pick up a parking sticker, neither of which my advisor mentioned to me) and, the best tip that I overheard that day: to go to the bookstore.

Evidentally, some university bookstores have been feeling the pressure from online retailers and resellers and are now trying to keep the cash at home. I went to my bookstore and they wrote down my schedule and will have all of my required books pulled and waiting for me when I arrive on campus this week. They will simply hand me a bill and a bag of books then I will calmly walk right out the door. I can tell you from experience, the bookstore can be brutal during the first week of school. There are plenty of long lines, students running around trying to find all their books, and cranky store employees. Whoever came up with this "pull the books in advance" idea was pure genius.

Honestly, every place on campus will be swamped and crazy during the first week of class. My advice: if it's not already too late, go take care of all the "little things" (ID's, parking stickers, books, any financial aid loose ends, etc.) before school starts. It will save a little bit of your sanity!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Backpack vs. Messenger Bag

Is this really a dilemma? I think I'm finding myself in the same old struggle that I had back in grade school. I want to be cool! I want to be in the "in" crowd! (Shouldn't I have outgrown this by now?).

Okay, I really don't want to be in the "in" crowd (what's the chances of a thirty year old Mommy being in the "in" crowd anyway?), but I don't want to be an old fuddy-duddy either. A messenger bag really appeals to me, but....I think sentimentality has won out.

I think I'll go with the navy blue, plain-jane but super-strong and functional JanSport backpack I purchased at the w-a-a-a-a-y overpriced university bookstore as a freshman. Just don't tell anyone how old it is. ; )

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"I Bet You'll Be The Oldest One in Your Class!"

"I bet you'll be the oldest one in your class," my sweet, eight year old daughter mentioned to me. She said it in a sort of "cool" tone as if being the oldest would actually be a good thing (I guess it is neat to be the oldest when you're in third grade). Bless her heart, she had no idea how often I've considered this possibility on my own already.

Actually, I doubt that I will be the oldest. According to some reports, adult learners are now becoming the majority on campus verses the traditional early 20's crowd. If I were still preparing to become a teacher, I think that I would be accompanied by a large amount of students older than myself, but now that I am a Mass Comm major..... who knows?

I'm not afraid of the college workload. I actually look forward to the challenge! I've always thrived in the classroom situation where I knew exactly what was expected of me and what was required in order to excel. The one thing that is constantly on my mind is how I perceived the older students in my classes when I was a 19/20 year old student.

I'll be honest: they were annoying. They answered all the questions and rambled on and on. It was as if they were trying hard to win the teacher's affection. I rolled my eyes many times when they began to speak in class. I would like to think that it was just the personalities of these particular adult students that I objected to (these women were apparently on the same track of classes as I was). Actually, I don't remember any other adult students who caused me to react in this manner.

Nonetheless, I think about my eye rolling and how I hoped not to get paired with the older students when we had group projects. I don't want to be on the receiving end of those kinds of feelings now that I'm the older student in class.

I wonder if I will try to restrain my natural inquisitiveness and desire to give my "two cents" during classroom discussion in fear of being labeled as one of the "old guys."

What was the real reason that I didn't want to be paired with the adults for group studies? Was it because they were stupid? Nope. It was because I knew they took class seriously, something I often did not. I was afraid they might actually want to meet after hours when all I wanted to do was to see my boyfriend or watch "Friends" on t.v. The real problem was that I wanted to do the bare minimum required of me.

So, I guess being labeled one of the "old guys" might not be too bad after all.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who is "University Mama?"

Do you wanna hear the whole story?

I married while I was still a sophomore in college, but being the independent, strong-willed sort of female, I was determined to finish my studies nonetheless.

Life happens. My husband needed to jump-start his grad school studies so we moved to campus for a bit and I became the primary breadwinner for a year. When it was my turn to head back to school, I found out I was pregnant. Both my husband and I believed it was important for me to be a stay-at-home-mom when we had children, so we made a new plan: I would go back to college when all of our children were old enough to be attending school.

Turns out, this was a difficult plan for me to stick with. For several years, I felt that I had let myself and my dad down (I promised him that I would finish my degree since I was marrying so young). I also struggled because everyone I knew was defined by what they studied or what they did for a living and I felt left-out. I dabbled in a couple of internet classes along the way, but never jumped in whole-heartedly; I just didn't have the time or the energy (or the cash flow, to be honest). I did, however, start my own business later which did help with my mini identity crisis of sorts.

Looking back, I wouldn't change our "revised plan." I have enjoyed staying at home with my kiddos and I truly believe it has given them the best start they could have in life.

This fall I am enrolled full-time in a local unversity (by "local," I mean 60 miles away-yikes!) and I have changed my major from English Education to Mass Communications (something I never thought I would do). I'm nervous and excited as my class start date looms near.

I have created this blog to journal my experiences as an adult student retruning to the classroom after an almost 10 year absence. My hope is that other "univsersity Mamas" will join me on this adventure so that we can share our tips, stories, and frustrations and laugh together along the way!