Monday, July 31, 2006

Showered with love...and gifts...lots of gifts

We just came back from a whirlwind visit to Philly for Kristy's bridal shower. Kristy had an amazing shower, the love that surrounds her was evident. She and John have such a great network of family and friends, I feel so honored to be part of this event.
To the right, Kristy gets a big surprise from her mom...

Here's the happy couple tirelessly opening gifts:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

SEND

I just hit "SEND" on my last final exam FOREVER! (...or as Jermaine says, "until you get the urge to go back to school again...probably in a week or so). ...unless, of course, I fail and have to re-take a class in order to graduate (that would be the pits). ---where did that saying come from? Who said "the pits" - is it someone from Charlie Brown? ..or Happy Days? First one to come up with the correct answer gets a prize, no, recognition.

Yes, I'm delirious, it's past my bedtime and I just finished school!

YIIIPPPPPEEEEEEE!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Amaya Update

I guess it's been a while since I've given an Amaya update and since baby-time is accelerated, I'll give a brief synopsis of where she's at.

She's a nut. I knew it was wrong to drink ice coffee when I was pregnant, but I did it anyway; I take full responsibility for her craziness. I think she's still working the caffiene out of her system...it's like she's on speed. Busy, busy, busy.

She's definitely on the go, crawling and pulling up on everything. She tries to stand up on her own; she wants to walk, but hasn't figured out that in order to begin walking, you have to slow down and take it easy. Clearly she'd like to run before walking.

She still only has two teeth, but she eats everything I put in front of her. I think she's going to be cutting a top tooth soon, the signs are there. Her hair is long enough for pig tails, not bad for not-quite-9 months. The nine month mark is interesting, it makes me think that she's finally spent more time out of the womb than inside it. She's arrived!

She gets into everything (shown above, having fun with her dad's cds today). She's the lightest sleeper known to man. I still have to get up most nights to plug her with her pacifier, and often times she wakes up between 4 and 6 in the morning with the notion that it's time to start her day.

All in all, she's okay; I think we'll keep her.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Q&A

Every once in a while someone will throw out a question that makes you think. Recently one of Jermaine's coworkers asked him what the most treasured possession that he owned was. He then posed the question to me and I had to contemplate for about a week before deciding. So I'll pose the question to you - What is your most treasured possession? ...it's the thing that if your house burned down and you could only save one item, you'd chose that one thing.

Jermaine's answer was predictable. He said something to the effect, "Since I don't own my family, so I can't choose that, so I'd have to say, my bible". Now I will do what wives do and speak for him. I think that his most valuable possession is his ipod. His bible can be replaced. Sure, not the underlines, or the notes in the columns, but he could pick up a new bible tomorrow if he had to. The Word of God is a wonderful answer, but EENNHH (that was suppose to be the buzzer sound, that goes off when your wrong - gameshow style). I think that his ipod is that one item that he'd like to save if the house were to burn down. Jermaine has spent hours and hours carefully selecting songs and sermons for his listening pleasure. He uses his ipod several times every day. He loves that darn thing, it's one of a kind, customized specifically for him.

I would save the computer. I know that's a lame thing to say, but I'm being real here. Almost all of my pictures are on it and I would hate to lose those. I would also hate to lose my poetry journal, but I do have some poems that I've already typed up on the computer, so saving the computer would also help me with that. I've also scanned in some of the children's art work, so the computer, as lame as it may be, is actually a very pragmatic selection.

I know that my nephew Will would choose "Elly" (Wendy probably would too, for that matter). Amaya would chose her clip on binky, and Amelle would definitely select her pink blanket.

Sooo...tell me, what is your most treasured possession? (You can't use people, so no cheating!) What's the one thing that would break your heart if you lost it?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lessons from the Maine DMV

1. It's almost impossible to keep four kids quiet for 45 minutes.
2. Trying to occupy your 5 & 7 yr olds with "Field and Stream" and "Hunter" magazine doesn't help. "Look at this dead deer!", "Is that a turkey dead?, "Did they shoot it?", "Are they going to eat this deer?", "Are they going to eat it's ear?", "Are they going to cut it in half?", "Why is that man naked?!" (Yes, there was a photo of a naked man's back side; he was standing on a porch (well, he was wearing boots and holding his shot gun, and yes, I'm sure it was Field and Stream magazine).
3. Babies like to crawl under seats and eat pamphlets entitled "Danger: Moose Ahead".
4. In our area, there were between 100-199 crashes involving moose between 2000-2002. (according to the pamphlet, "Danger: Moose Ahead")
5. Maine DMV workers don't care what weight is on your license. They pulled my data from my college license back in 1992, and didn't bother to change the weight to the more accurate figure I provided.
6. A trip to "The Daily Scoop" is a good way to bribe 3 out of 4 kids into behaving.
7. If Ariel wasn't present my license photo would've been of me holding Amaya.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Trading it all in for a Pitchfork

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have a lot of farms out our way. Yesterday while driving by one, tuning out four kids and the catchy theme song from Hannah Montana that I had to play for the umteenth time, I came to the conclusion that if we hit the lottery, Jermaine may just become a farmer. Yes, I think he would. A hay farmer, nothing too complex.

Farming would be the perfect profession for Jermaine, here's my rationale:
1) He LOVES to cut the lawn. Every Saturday morning he gets up at the crack of 9am and hops on his John Deere for a two-hour lawn expedition. When I suggested that he wait until Sunday morning before church, he informed me that he can't - he looks forward to cutting the lawn all week, so Saturday morning it is.
2) He loves the physical labor scene. Jermaine would be happy to work with his hands ("real work"). He once told me that wearing a tie is like being strangled all day - he would be happy if he never had to wear a tie again.
3) He'd love to work from home. Jermaine doesn't need the social interaction at the office, he'd be happy talking to no one all day. Maybe a dog; yeah, he'd probably get that Swiss Mountain Dog and attach some kind of plow to it. When he was trying to "sell" me on this dog he told me it's a "working dog". However, unless it can babysit three kids and make dinner, it's of no use to me.

Its always fun to think about what you'd do if you won the lottery (which would be a real miracle, since we don't even play the lottery). Of course you'd relax for a bit, but then you'd want to do something constructive with your time...what would you do?

I think I'd get a babysitter and go back to school for my doctorate. Since Jermaine will never comment on my blog, I can basically write whatever I want about him without correction. He'd be a farmer, either that or a figure skater.

Monday, July 17, 2006

In Stitches

We made it 7 years and 24 days without a trip to the ER, but just all good things must come to an end, yesterday our accident-free record did as well.

Here’s the story:
I was sitting at the computer working on a paper (remember – two weeks left!) and I hear Avery’s friend Ryan come in the house and tell Jermaine something about Avery peeing on the side of the house. Then I hear Jermaine and Ryan exit. All is silent, Jermaine is handling this one. Moments later I hear Avery crying loudly in the kitchen. I am riddled with guilt because I have allowed Avery to pee on the side of the house (hey, we live in the country now and it’s better than tracking dirt in). I’m thinking that Jermaine is taking a real hard line with this peeing issue and is making Avery come in, so he’s crying. So I get up and go in the kitchen to try to negotiate on Avery’s behalf. I’m planning to tell Jermaine that it’s my fault that the boy went outside, I sometimes let him do it, please just let him off with a warning.

I enter the kitchen to find a vastly different scenario. Avery has his head bent over in the sink and Jermaine is thumbing through his hair. There is a fair amount of blood flowing into the sink (mixed with water, it looked like more than it probably was). Apparently Ryan had said that “Avery is bleeding on the side of the house”, not “peeing”. My bad.

As the story goes, Avery and Ryan were riding down a hill with a jump. Ryan didn’t have his helmet with him, so he and Avery were taking turns using Avery’s. Ryan had the helmet on at the time that Avery took his turn down the hill, over the jump, then over the handlebars, then it gets foggy. Not sure if the bike struck him in the head or some part of nature, but he was bleeding and crying.

So we don’t know where the closest hospital is, but I know there is one in Portsmouth and I mapquest directions for Jermaine. Then we realize that we don’t have medical insurance because my job ended two weeks ago and I haven’t gotten my COBRA papers yet. Nice, now we’re those people.

Long story short, Avery received three staples on the top of his head.

I had planned to take him for a hair cut today (his Mohawk is terribly overgrown). Last week he kept putting it off, “not today Mom”, he’d whine…”Okay, but definitely Monday” I acquiesced. Last night before I kissed him off to sleep I said “Now what are we going to do about your hair cut?! If we have to wait 10 days, you’re hair will be a big mess”. He grinned at me, “Hee hee…my plan came together perfectly”.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

100th Post

I was going to title this post "I've got nothing to say" and then ramble on about how I don't have anything to say this morning but I wanted to post something above the picture of Jermaine with the hearts floating around his head because now I'm slightly embarrassed by my very public outpouring of love, HOWEVER, when I went to post, I noticed that I had 99 posts, so this is the special 100th post edition of my blog. Welcome!

I still don't have much to say, I'm finishing up school and it's very hectic right now. Two weeks left (assuming I pass this capstone class that is kicking my butt). Then I graduate! I've decided not to fly to AL to walk at the graduation ceremony, which I'm sure I'll regret. With everything going on with the move I just couldn't bear the thought of planning a trip to Alabama. I'm a little bit sad about that, but what's done is done. Hopefully I can find another way to make my graduation special and meaningful (getting my degree in the mail just isn't momentous enough - especially after all of the blood, sweat, and tears I've shed to get it!).

Anyway, "nothing to say" turned into me complaining about school. You gotta love the blog. Yesterday the kids went camping and they did this "mining gimic" where parents pour out five of their hard earned dollars for a bag of dirt and then the kids sift through them (mining) for large rocks, crystals, and the occasional arrowhead. Reading my blog is like that, mostly all dirt, but once and a while you might stumble across an arrowhead that puts a smile on your face. Happy 100th read to my good and faithful following (mom & Jermaine). :-)

Since we didn't take pictures at yesterday's mining adventure, I'm attaching photos from last year's mining adventure (same gimic, different year - the kids love this stuff).

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bybass if you have a weak stomach...

Recently during an interview I was asked what the best decision I’ve ever made was. I replied with the first thing that came to my mind, “Marry my husband”. (In retrospect the best decision would be accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, but accepting Jermaine’s proposal is next).

Its amazing that God saw it in His plan to bring a crazy atheist New Hampshire girl gone wild together with a quiet, contemplative, buddhist from Pennsylvania, and He made it work so that we’d create this solid Christ-centered marriage. Then He gave us three kids to boot!

You sometimes hear talk about “the seven year itch”, but after seven years of marriage, I can say with all honesty that our marriage keeps getting better and better with every passing year. I still get excited to see him and I still get chills when he kisses me, so I don’t see what all that itching is about. I look forward to growing old with him; to me he’s the best thing going. Notice, I didn’t say perfect. He’s definitely not perfect. This morning he let out some gas in the under the covers in the bedroom that made paint peel off the walls. The children had to be evacuated from the 2nd floor until the fumes had cleared (a good 30 minutes). However, his imperfection is a good thing. I once heard Zig Zigler say, “if your mate was perfect, then they wouldn’t be married to you”.

Here’s a picture of Jermaine defending his family against a basketball-sized wasp colony (in 90 degree heat).

Okay, I'm jumping the couch. I'll stop.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

You Can't Be ANYthing

My mother raised me to believe that I can be whatever I want to be in life. Until recently, this is what I believed. During last Sunday’s sermon, the pastor informed us that we can’t be anything we want to be. I have to say that I felt a tremendous weight lifted off of me when he said that. He’s right; I can’t be whatever I want to be! How sweet that concept is, and how liberating! Say it with me now “I can’t be whatever I want to be” - Hooray!!

Now, in defense of my mother, I know she repeated that mantra out of love. In fact, I’ve told my children the same thing. And it’s almost true – you can be anything you want to be in life, except if you want to be a NBA all-star and your 4 foot 2. ..or if you want to be a Olympic skeet shooter and you’re blind, or if you want to be a doctor, but you faint at the sight of blood.. You get the picture.

The point is that you can only be what God has designed you to be. You can’t be anything outside of that. I can’t be Tiger Woods, but he can’t be me either (though he probably WISHES he could be). I can tell Avery that he can be anything he wants to be in life, but if God hasn’t given him the ability, he won’t be able to “be like Mike”, no matter how hard he practices basketball (baseball is another story – he already surpasses Mike in that area). We live in a world where people will basically do anything to be like someone else. We need to just figure out what God wants us to be, and then concentrate on getting there. It’s a foolproof plan.

I don’t know what or who I was trying to be like, but I have to say that I truly felt relief when I realized that I can’t be anything I want to be. Maybe its because I put a lot of pressure on myself – I don’t know the psychology behind it. Maybe I’m just weird? Who knows – who cares. The reason for this blog is to pass along a little bit of good information that came my way.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Working from home

Not too long ago people got up, got dressed, got in their cars and drove to work. At the end of the day, they drove home. Work was work and home was home. With the advent of technology, that line has become fuzzier. I had the opportunity to work from home while I was at Cardinal. It was grueling; eight hours in front of a computer with no distractions! How I missed my co-workers! Shaun and I have had this same discussion - about how working from home is so much more productive than going to work (no socializing, no distractions, etc..).

Since we've been in Maine, Jermaine and I have both entertained opportunities to work from home. In fact, we're still entertaining this concept. Would it work, would it make us happy? My last month at Cardinal I worked 20 hours per week from home. I felt like I could never really relax. Whenever I sat down at the computer I would immediately check my Cardinal mail, then do whatever it was I set out to do. When you work from home, there is no clear distinction between work and home life. You can never really leave work.

Even aside from working without distractions, I think you actually work harder from home because you're so worried about someone thinking that you aren't working enough, that you over-compensate.

Jerms and I have a favorite field - it's a hay farm that we pass going to and from our house (pictured to the left). We wait with anticipation to see what the farmer is going to do next. It's funny; we love that darn farm, it's just beautiful. One evening we watched the farmer drive his tractor around picking up hay bails and the thought came to me that working from home isn't a new concept at all, but a very old one. It was 7pm and this elderly farmer was hard at work. There was no punching out at 5pm for him. He wasn't collecting overtime or worried about his boss seeing him working past five. He was just working.

Of course, the oldest profession itself has been performed from home (no, not that profession, you sicko)...MOTHERHOOD! Oh, it's a job alright. Like the ARMY in so many ways: "Not just a job, it's an adventure", "the toughest job you'll ever love", and you have to enjoy wearing green (spit up) and getting up at the crack of dawn.

Tomorrow I have two interviews, one is a tremendous opportunity in every way, but with a 50 minute commute, the other is less of a career move, but it's a work from home opportunity. I'm praying that the Lord will open and close the appropriate doors because I am completely incompetent when it comes to making big decisions (don't tell my interviewers though).

Sorry to bother you all with my musings...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

"Ehhh" is a 4 letter word

As we prepared to leave Philadelphia, I was certain that I would have one or more emotional breakdowns during the course of the move. I just knew that leaving my house would be painful; I knew that the last time I descended the stairway I would have tears streaming down my cheeks; but that never happened. I also thought that after a week or two in Maine I would look Jermaine squarely in the eyes and say, “What in the world have we done? ..we’ve left jobs we love, we’ve left people we love, we’ve left a church we love, we’ve left a home we love…what have we done?!” But that moment never came either.

However, in preparation for those times, I had the forethought to create a list of the things I knew I would NOT miss about living in the greater Philadelphia area. Just for kicks, I’ll share that list with you…

1. I won’t miss walking through the mall seeing framed posters of Scarface. Scarface is a movie, NOT a work of art. Pictures of scarface belong on 5”x7” DVD jackets, not framed and placed in livingrooms.

2. I won’t miss “The Rat”. Yes, I definitely won’t miss seeing the union rat situated outside of companies like it’s a float in the Thanksgiving Day parade. Generally the Rat is surrounded by a bunch of disgruntled union protesters barbequing and holding picketing signs – I won’t miss them either.

3. I won’t miss hearing the word “woorter” to describe H20 (though my kids say it), I won’t miss the term “mom-mom” to describe one’s grandmother, and I DEFINITELY won’t miss the word “crown” to describe the objects that children use to color (it’s CRAY-ON people – simple phonics!). I also won’t miss the terms “ink pen” (pen), “salat” (salad), “ax” (ask) and especially “ehhh” (no translation). “Ehhh” is what some people (especially people from lovely Northeast Philadelphia) say during any pause in a conversation, some even use it to begin sentences. For example, “Ehhh, what’s the name of that guy, ehhh, with the TV show with Kramer and Elaine?

That’s really as far as I got with my list, if you have any other Philadelphia-isms that you’d like to add, please feel free.

Friday, July 07, 2006

F & You

If you're like me, you've probably seen this little test in e-mails, but when I received it last time, I was bound and determined to pass, but still failed. Let me know how you did...

[Don't scroll down yet]

Count every " F" in the following text:

FINISHED FILES ARE THE RE
SULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTI
FIC STUDY COMBINED WITH
THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS...






HOW MANY ?







WRONG, THERE ARE 6, NO JOKE.
READ IT AGAIN !
Really, go back through it slowly.
The brain cannot process the F in OF.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Farewell to Nanny McPhee

Amelle had been doubling as Nanny McPhee the last few weeks, she had a loose tooth that somehow got permanently pushed forward, creating a single protruding tooth from her mouth whenever she smiled. Yesterday she lost that tooth and was restored to the Amelle that we all know and love.

She was excited to receive a visit from the tooth fairy and informed us that she would have four dollars tomorrow! Last night she bombarded me with a bunch of questions, "Does Daddy have to call him to tell him to come?", "What does the toothfairy do with all the teeth?", Where does the toothfairy live?" - my response was that no one knows for certain - to which she responded "Jesus knows". Darn kids - they're always correcting me.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Morning After

Yesterday we had a nice time celebrating Independence day. We spent most of the day at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, then we headed back home for some cooking out and pool-time for the kids. Here are some pictures that were taken at Strawbery Banke...





Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

What a predictable title.

Anyway, the kids have had an amazing holiday so far. This is one of Shaun's favorite holidays, so I've dubbed him "The Grand Master of the 4th". He informed us last week that the weekend would involve 2 cookouts, a bike parade, and fireworks. Yesterday, we had an unexpected invitation to a friend's lakehouse. Shaun ventured off with the four oldest kids (Ariel, Joelle, Avery & Mina) and Wendy and I stayed home with the little ones (Amelle, Will, & Amaya). Shaun's gang enjoyed a day of boating, jet-skiing, diving off the boat and floating dock, tubing on the back of the boat and more. They were there from noon to six and didn't even stop for lunch or dinner! Our little gang enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches and a trip to the McDonalds playland, followed by McFlurrys. You'll have to check out the Casey 5 site for pictures of Shaun's adventure. Ariel woke up yesterday never having been on a boat and went to sleep last night having driven one! Early reports have also indicated that Avery had a ear-to-ear smile the entire day.

When Shaun arrived back, all four kids were completely passed out in his truck. It would've been fine if their day way over, but their night was just beginning. They still had to go into Portsmouth for fireworks!

Since I don't have any pictures of yesterday's adventures, I'm posting some recent random pictures. I'm sure there will be more pictures tomorrow....

Monday, July 03, 2006

He's no joke

I often think of God as this loving, arms open, grace-filled being that sits up in the billowy clouds and smiles down at me in delight. He happily makes note of every dollar I donate to charity or to His Kingdom, He notices when I take time out to give Godly counsel to my children or to read them a bible story, He jots down in His book all the times I witness to someone, and He captures every good thing I ever do so that when I arrive at the foot of his throne, he can pat my head and say "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25).

Not exactly realistic, but it's what I want to think about. I don't think about Him frowning down at me when I am stingy in my giving, or I spend frivously on things that moths and rust will destroy. I prefer not to think of His displeasure when I am short-tempered with the kids, or His disappointment that I don't spend more time with Him.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control (Galatians 5:22). I don't see that fruit in my life and it's not His fault, it's mine. When Jesus sees me in Heaven, I know that His arms will be open, but I don't know if He'll be smiling. He may be like, "you JUST made it in, Girl". I know I won't deserve it, my entrance will be based on His Grace alone. I know that my little tiny acts of goodness are no match for my many, many, many wrongs. I'm honestly hoping that He isn't keeping track, because the 1 gallon of good things I've done is nothing next to the Ocean full of bad things I've done.

It's funny how our minds plays tricks on us - when I think of myself in an eternal way, I can't help but hang onto my good deeds, almost like I'm hoping that if I don't bring up the bad things, He won't remember.

Jesus is no joke. He's the same God that destroyed Sodom, He's the same God that flooded the earth, it is His nature to hate evil, so where do I fit in? Forgiven I guess. I'm not in His good graces for all the wonderful things I've done, but I'm forgiven for all the wrong.