Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tick Talk

Last week Wendy forwarded instructions for "easy tick removal" to me. It was one of those e-mail forwards urging you to continue the chain of forwards, which I complied with by sending along to Jermaine. After all, we live in Maine and have deer in our backyard – the fear of Lyme Disease is real for us. “Tick checks” occur daily at our house during the summer months.

On Sunday, while sitting in church, I looked over at Amelle and brushed her long thick hair over to one side of her neck. I then noticed a small brown dot on her freshly exposed neck; it looked like a slightly raised freckle. I was suspicious, so I quietly pointed it out to Jermaine and communicated via facial expression that I wanted his opinion. He took an initial look, then went back for a second look, “it’s a tick” he whispered, which confirmed my fear. “What do I do” I asked frantically. I knew it was a deer tick – the kind that carries Lyme disease.

“Take her to the ladies room and do the thing with the hand-soap that was in that e-mail you sent me” he calmly whispered. By this time Amelle was in full panic mode – she knew there was a tick on her and she had just seen us pull a wood tick off of Mina’s neck with tweezers two weeks prior – she wanted nothing to do with any of that. Her eyes were big and ready for some crying, but she stayed strong as I walked her quickly down the isle and into the ladies room. ...I was still awe-struck that Jermaine had actually read one of my e-mails (a “forward” no less!).

We went to the ladies room and I applied a glob of hand-soap to a paper towel and onto Amelle’s neck. After a few seconds, I removed it and noticed that the tick seemed to be further out (I could now clearly see it’s little legs). I brushed it off onto the paper towel with my fingernail. It was quick and painless. I called the pediatrician and asked if I should give Amelle any preventative antibiotics, but she said it wasn’t necessary, just to watch for a rash and flu-like symptoms. I’m happy to report that there haven’t been either.

After reviewing the instructions in the e-mail message, it looks like I probably should’ve left the soap on longer than I did, but it worked pretty well anyway. I wanted to share this information with you because it was really helpful for me.

Easy Tick Removal:

Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20), the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away. This technique has worked every time I've used it (and that is frequently), and it's much less traumatic for the patient and easier for me. This should work on animals, also.

-Written by “a school nurse”. (too bad she didn’t get the credit she deserves for this one! I think she should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize).

Monday, May 28, 2007

Not Your Typical Weekend

Terrible title for this blog. I'm sure that you're thinking that I had some wild adventure this weekend, but let me quickly deflate your hopes of reading an exciting entry and let you know up front that this weekend was, although not "typical", not wildly exciting. Generally when the weekend rolls around, we have "a plan". The plan varies, but usually involves some sort of children's activity, household or lawn project, shopping (grocery or other necessary), and a Casey visit. This weekend there wasn't really a plan, we just went with the flow. Saturday was Will's birthday party & Sunday was church...after that we were pretty much open. The only other thing I needed to happen was for Jerms to dispurse the pile of top soil that was occupying my parking space in our driveway.

On Saturday Amelle & Mina had gymnastics - the thrill was in riding in Grandma's convertible with the top down on the highway while their hair smacked them in their gleeful little faces for the entire 2 minutes that we were on the highway. The second thrill was in prying Amelle off of Grandma's leg because she intuitively knew that grandmas have more sympathy than moms when it comes to separation anxiety (my mom: "she shouldn't have to do it if she doesn't want to). Then there was Will's party (see below blog).

Sunday was early church then a trip to my dad's and grandparents grave sites to plant flowers, then a tour through "the old neighborhood" and what seemed like every neighborhood in between. Fried seafood happened. The beach happened. Fried Dough happened. Upset stomach happened.

Today we did nothing except for take turns trying to catch sleep. At 3p we headed over to my mom's for slow cooked food in "the green egg" - I'm sure that if you were to google that, you'd see what I'm talking about. It took 19 hours (or so it seemed), but the food was delicious. Gordo is still in the "experimental phase" - I'm sure the timing thing will work itself out by the time Labor day comes around.

It just felt like an atypical weekend. Maybe because there was "no plan". Maybe because it was the first weekend my mom is "living in Maine". Maybe because it was a 3-day weekend. Maybe because we didn't do any household work. Maybe it was a combination of all those things.
Amaya takes my mom for a walk:

The kids enjoyed exploring Grandma's new neighborhood:

So close (to swimming), yet so far away... (Amelle would've given anything to dive in!)
The scene from Grandma's place - while we waited for "the egg" to cook our food. Those pebbles kept the kids occupied for a good hour...who needs toys/Nintendo/television?!
Oh, and in case you're wondering, the soil is still in the driveway...
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The New Cheese

This is the face Amaya makes when:
1) You say, "say cheese"
2) You say, "Smile"
3) You point a camera in her direction

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

You Only Turn 4 One Time

Today we celebrated Will's fourth birthday. He has officially graduated from my favorite kid age (3), leaving Amaya as the last of the children to pass through that magical age. Four is still good, far better than two or five, but it's definitely runner up to three. Oh how I love three.

Today was special because we actually had beautiful weather and were able to enjoy a backyard party. Will has never, in his life, enjoyed a backyard party - May in Maine just doesn't cooperate. Hallelujah that this year it did!

Here are some pics from the day...

Will aims the sprinkler at the "old folks"

"I believe I can fly" ...Amelle pushes Will to new heights!

Amaya is one with the water balloon

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Relatively Speaking

I think that it's so cool that our kids have so many more relatives than I did growing up. My family tree is pretty sparce - sort of like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Growing up, I only had one grandparent, the others passed away young (sparce tree & bad DNA = not a good combo). In addition to the light grandparent pool I also had no aunts or uncles, so basically, everyone in my family lived in my house (all five of us - including grandma, aka: Memere).

Jerm's family, on the other hand, is loaded up with relatives. Tons of family! His mom has 8 siblings and his dad has 5. In addition to all the aunts and uncles and cousins, our kids have two full sets of grandparents (thanks to papa Gordo for stepping in for my dad!) AND one full set of great grandparents!

This past weekend they were able to spend time with their doting Grandmom who spent every waking moment catering to them and giving them everything they wanted. No bed time, ice cream for breakfast, any thing they wanted! It's taken us until today (Thursday) just to de-program them (Amaya is still not right).

We also stopped by to see their great grandparents (Nan & Pop Pop). Amaya had no problem warming up to Pop Pop. Throughout his 76 years, Pop's lap has been safety to countless children and grandchildren - he loves kids and they love him...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

eHarmonious Wedding

This past weekend we attended Jim & Julie's wedding in the Poconos. Couples like Jim and Julie are helping to break the stereotypes of "internet dating". Back when I was in the singles scene, internet dating was for weirdos and losers. I think I actually got dragged on one by my friend Vanessa (otherwise & appropriately known as "Vanessa the dressa" - hey, we have a NE accent). Vanessa begged me to do a double date thing with some guys she met off of somewhere, thinking back, it may not have been the internet (it was early 90's - when did Gore invent the internet anyway?). It may've been Uncle Henry's for all I know. Anyway, she convinced me to accompany her on a blind double date with the caveat that I would get first pick between the two if either ended up decent. Needless to say, it was a painful dinner with two freaky geeks. The exact details are foggy, as I'm sure I was doing shots as appetizers. ...but enough about the "glory days", which were more like "gory days".

Jim and Julie found each other on eHarmony; they should totally be in the next commercial. I think Jim is a cool dude; he has hiked the Swiss Mountains, drives a motorcycle and a bicycle, holds public office, digs Jesus, is an attorney, loves kids, holds his own in poker, trivial pursuit, and wiffle ball with a 5 year old, has a great sense of humor, and at 33, has never been married, divorced, or in jail. I think that makes him a "catch". Julie is absolutely beautiful, and I'm sure she is wonderful because she knocked Jim off his feet (he proposed within 3 months of meeting her!). Anyway, without an further ado - here is a picture of the happy couple:

If that is what two people look like on their wedding day, here's what they look like 10 years and 3 kids later on the first night out alone:

I know it's terribly sad, we went to a local brewery and then to the local packy and headed back to the hotel room for a night of drinking and card-playing! I know it seems lame, but we had a blast (we obviously don't get out much).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

God Has a Special Place for you

A few weeks ago Jerms and I scrolled through some of the “religious channels” offered by direct TV. It was pretty late in the evening and we came across some very frightening programming. We watched preacher after preacher expound on the “name it and claim it” doctrine – which promised material wealth to all those who believed; we watched in horror as people professed complete healings after using “miracle holy water”, swatches of “holy cloth”, and other paraphernalia.

These preachers seemed to “prey on” (not to be confused with “pray on”) elderly people, minorities, and those who are ill. It was so sad to see these preachers standing there with bible in hand and distorting our Creator’s character and Word, and then using that distortion for their own personal gain. They are con artists that prey on the weak; in my opinion there is no profession that is lower.

We marveled at one particular preacher, the “Prophet Peter Popoff”, who pleaded with people to call in and receive his “Miracle water” so that they would be healed. Then I heard Jerms mutter, “God has a special place for you” towards the television. Of course James 3:1 tells us, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”. Good luck with that Mr. Popoff & company.

Fortunately after a few more flicks of the channel we landed on Ravi Zacharias, who is an amazing intellect and teacher. The juxtaposition of the two types of “teachers” made it obvious who was authentic. Unfortunately it’s the first type that was occupying 99% of the television stations. They’re production was much fancier, some even donned purple suits and had audience members giving tear-jerking “testimonials”. Then there was Ravi, standing in an auditorium – I think he was at Harvard, going through his modest Powerpoint presentation, not asking for money, but instead asking people to open their minds to “maybe”.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day Moms

I'm so blessed to have been given two wonderful mothers in this lifetime.
My mother taught me the meaning of unconditional love. She raised me with very few boundaries and let me explore the world free from fear. I always believed that "the sky was the limit", she taught me that I could do/have/be anything I wanted in life and she encouraged me to give 100% in whatever it was I chose to do. The words that stick with me to this day are, "Erin, you can be whatever you want to be in life, but no matter what you do, give 100%. I don't care if you become a trash collector, as long as you're the best trash collector you can be".

My mother-in-law was a unexpected bonus. I keep thinking that I don't remember seeing the "two for one" sale sign on Jermaine when I found him. Sylvia is such an incredible woman. When Jermaine and I first got together I remember thinking that Sylvia must be really special because Jermaine spoke of her with such respect; it was like she had never done anything wrong, nor could it even be in the realm of possibility that she could ever do anything wrong. 10 years later, he still speaks about her that way, and he is absolutely correct. She is an amazing woman.

Thank you both so much for all you are to me.
Happy Mother's Day Moms...

Thursday, May 10, 2007


One of the nice things about living in this area is the high per capita percentage of vanity license plates. NH and ME seem be at a 1:5 vanity plate to non-vanity plate ratio. Trying to figure out what people have cryptically labeled their vehicles provides loads of entertainment for commuters and tourists alike.

Yesterday I was behind “CATWOMN”. Very intriguing. I mean, what kind of a woman would be so self confident that she would put herself in the ranks with the most seductive and sexy female/feline character of all time? I mean, you’d really have to have it “goin’ on” to put yourself in the same category as Halle Berry and Michele Phieffer (yes, I'm sure I spelled her name incorrectly, but am too lazy/apethetic to look it up). Anyway, I was so intrigued that I had to pass this mystery woman to get a glimpse of her (and possibly shoot her a dirty look for thinking that she's so hot). As I passed her, I was shocked to find a 65 year old grandma-looking woman innocently driving along. Gray curly hair, a white sweater draped over her shoulders, the whole bit. In fact, she wasn’t a “Cat Woman” at all; she was a “Cat Lady”. Very big difference. A “Cat Woman” is a leather clad dominatrix, a “Cat Lady” is a older woman who finds the companionship of cats so enjoyable that she owns no less than twenty. This amused me immensely.

This morning I was behind “Mr. PMS”. Now what kind of a guy drives that car?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Wit & Wisdom from Amelle

This morning as I performed my morning routine, somewhere in between ironing and making kids lunches Amelle said to me, "You're wearing those shoes?" (referring to my open toe slingbacks)

Me: "Yes"
Amelle: "Does everyone have to see your toes?"
Me: "Only if they look"
Amelle: "Yesterday I saw Uncle Shaun's toes for the first time"
Me: "Oh" (My thinking: this is gonna be good. Let's just say that when God was handing out toes, He gave my brother an extra helping. In fact, He may've actually put fingers on my brother's feet. According to unnamed sources, when Shaun comes downstairs, his toes arrive a full 2 minutes earlier than the rest of his body). ...."so what did you think" (I had to prod her a bit)
Amelle: "They weren't cute"
Me: "No?"
Amelle: "And they were clean"
Me: "Oh really?"
Me: "Anything else?"
Amelle: "No."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

10 Degrees of Separation

I have never been so ready for Spring. Ever.

As I have mentioned before, when we decided to move, everyone mentioned the weather, "Oh Maine, it's cold up there". The winter was nothing, in my mind, cold is cold. Ten degrees of coldness isn't a huge deal to me. It's the Spring 10 degrees that makes a big difference. Right now, I know that windows are open in Pennsylvania. In Maine, the windows are down and (I'm ashamed to admit it, but...) the thermostat is set to 60 degrees, as an insurance policy that I won't wake up freezing at 3am.

Here's the Maine outlook:

Here's the PA forecast (yummy!)

Those 7-10 degrees will come in handy in August, but I have to admit that I miss PA spring!!

...funny I just noticed that it actually looks like it will be warmer in ME than in PA on Monday; it won't be. Trust me. ...Let's chaulk it up as a mis-print on