Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sound Bites

Conversation between Amelle & my mom:

Amelle: How old are you grandma?
Grandma: 60
Amelle: Wow, that's old! I bet you're about to die.
Grandma: huh?
Amelle: You could die any time now. You might die this weekend.
Grandma: well, if I die this weekend, I'd miss your half birthday on the 15th.
Amelle: Well, then you can die the day after.


***

Avery (while we were driving behind a construction truck with a sign on the back of it that said, "Construction vehicle, do not follow")


Avery: bad guys should use those trucks as their get-away cars.
***
Amaya during a storm:
Amaya: Did you lock the door so the thunder ("funder") won't come inside?

Monday, July 28, 2008

My blog is boring me...

...so I can only imagine how others must feel. I haven't updated since Friday, and that qualifies as being lame.

I have several mini-blogs floating around in my head (easy part), but none that I've actually sat down and written (hard part). Plus sometimes twitter messes with my blogging...I sometimes tweet a blog concept in 140 characters instead of blogging about it. Twitter is a blog-blocker.

Here's my last excuse: My computer is still busted. I guess we're waiting for Dirt to confirm it's death before we get something else. I have pictures on my camera that I would blog about (we just came back from PA...kids/grandma adventures), but I promised my MIL that I would Photoshop the pictures I took of her - and if she sees them up here unphotoshoped, she might take her son back. And I kinda like her son, so...

Just one:
I wouldn't be me if I didn't at least try to push the envelope. Plus, she's really beautiful, and really beautiful people don't need to be photoshoped before they get blogged. Plus, beautiful people have it easy in life, so I need to show her some cruelty.

Oh, wait a second, I forgot that she's Dirt's mother; she's had enough cruelty. Just kidding.

This image has also not been photoshoped.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wit and Wisdom from t3m


While playing "I Spy":

Dirt: I spy something black

Amelle: Yourself?

***

Amaya and Dirt:

Dirt: What are you going to be when you grow up?

Amaya: A doctor. Or a clown.

***

Amaya while tying Dirts shoelaces together:

Me: Amaya, don't do that honey, if you tie daddy's shoelaces together, he'll trip and fall.

Amaya: Yeah, I know that.

***

Avery while trying to convice his grandmom to leave him and his cousin (also 9) home alone while she ran an errand:

Avery: I think you should just let us stay here because Jaylen and I combined are at least as smart as a 14 year old.

***

While Amaya was having a melt down at Grandma's house:

Avery: (shaking his head) I knew she wasn't ready for this trip.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Something's missing...

chaos
leg hugs

sibling rivalry

subjects for my photography experiments

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dirty Laundry

Last month Dirt and I had one of our worst arguments ever. It was really bad. I don’t mean to air all of our dirty laundry, but I finally confessed this story to Audra yesterday and she implored me to blog it.

Before I begin, I will say that we’re normally a sane and happy couple and every disagreement that we’ve ever had has been Dirt’s fault in some way shape or form, and this one was no different.

It was Sunday morning (this is not starting out good, is it?). I was ready for church and Dirt was lagging behind (as usual). I was nagging him (as usual) to get his butt in gear. This seemed to be particularly annoying to him, so he suggested for me to go to church without him if I didn’t want to be late. However, this suggestion was particularly annoying to me. Then he questioned why I cared about being late since I hadn’t even been to church in a few weeks. I took great offense to this statement and I stormed out saying that I wasn’t going to church at all! Then I drove off to an undisclosed location and he went to church.

Fast forward a few hours and Dirt tried to make up with me. Sort of. I can’t remember what I said, but I’m sure that whatever it was, it wasn’t wrong. Then Dirt said that since I didn’t go to church, I proved his point about me not caring if I went to church. [me = fuming] I told him that his logic was insane because if I didn’t want to go in the first place, I wouldn’t have woken him up and tried to get him out of the house on time. That's not the behavior of someone who doesn't want to go someplace! I then explained that I didn’t go to church because I was mad at him and didn't want to go to church filled with anger.

However, he thought this was ridiculous, and told me that I was just looking for an excuse not to go. Then I referenced scripture about not going to church when you’re mad at someone and then he told me that I was taking the passage of context. By this time we’re “speaking” VERY loudly and the conversation was VERY heated. That’s when the “Christian attacks” came out, and we were escalating into a “who is a better Christian” realm. “Well, I pray with the kids at night!” “No, I pray with the kids at night!” – mind you, the neighbors can probably hear us at this point. ..Embarrassing...

It was ugly. Really ugly. Like the kind of ugly that takes a day or two to really get over.

All over what? Nothing. Oh the irony, fighting over who was more Christian. Jesus must’ve been real proud of us. I can’t figure out if he was sitting back and laughing or crying at the scene.

So, this goes down as the stupidest argument that Dirt and I have ever had. To this day I still don’t even know what it was about. His lateness? My nagging? His questioning my desire to go to church? The fact that I stormed out of the house and didn’t go? I have no idea. But whatever it was, rest assured that was all Dirt’s fault.

So now that I have bared my soul, it’s time for you to tell me about the stupidest thing you and your beloved have ever argued about.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This image made my morning...

Not only because it's funny and I love seeing pictures of my SIL, who is normally beautiful (which is why I hate her), looking like a total freak-a-zoid. But, because I love that she and Shaun take crazy pictures of each other for sport. I can totally see the scene: it's late and the boys are asleep and they're up switching the camera (or iphone) back and forth, each doing crazy poses and faces, all while giggling up a storm!

Shaun & Wendy:
Don't try to tell us that you were just testing out your new iphone, this is not a one time event, ie: Wendy's most recent lip-licking profile pic (that wasn't taken on self-timer), & how about the distorted big head pictures taken from your macbook(I think you guys actually had one of those hanging on your refrigerator!). Don't deny it, it is what it is.

Here's to a great marriage!

Love you guys!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Playa Hater

Last week when we were at the beach, Wendy couldn't keep her eyes off of this guy. She was totally hatin' on him. She hated everything about him: his height, his voice, how he played with his kid, that ridiculous shark, and the worst offense of all, those shorts. Oh how she hated those shorts. "Where'd he get those, the Limited Too?", she quipped.



And so, Wendy...this one's for you:




Now you can stare at them as often and as long as you want.

You can thank me later.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What I learned...

This post should technically be on my Darkroom blog, but I've been cooped up in a classroom for two full days and I'm feeling a bit lawless right now. Plus, if I'm honest, I am just a little bit proud of my newly acquired PS skills and wanted to share my masterpieces with the world (aka: the four people who read this blog).

Queue drum roll please....


Tah Dah!!!

And because Photoshop is all about subtlety (per my instructor)...

You may not notice anything, but she will! :-)


Gotta love this one, very dollar-billish, don't you think?

Yay me! I actually did something in Photoshop all by myself. Huge accomplishment here people. HUGE.

How these skills will benefit any of us, is still unknown.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Last Hoorah

On Thursday I took the day off from work to spend with the kids. They were flying out on Friday morning to go spend the week in PA with their grandmom, plus it was the last day of Ariel's summer stay with us.

One of my co-workers rents in York every year, so we planned to spend the day at Long Sands with her and another co-worker of ours. Wendy and Will also stopped by for a little while. It was a great beach day, and the ocean was a bit restless, which made for some great boogie boarding.

From L to R: Avery (9), Cole (Monica's son, 8), Zach (Maria's son, 14), Amelle (7), & Paige (Monica's daughter, 6). Not shown: Will (5) Brianna (12) and Ariel (14). It was so great to have so many kids around. Check out the size of these waves!


Surf's up, dude!


Ariel tried to resist the call of the cold Atlantic, but by the end of the day, she broke down and got wet. She and Avery rented a float and had a blast riding those righteous waves! Kowabunga! (why do I feel the need to interweave surfer lingo throughout this post?)


Amelle and Paige took a different approach with their raft and stayed shallow. They had a great time playing together all day long.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do they know?

Our minivan is moving at a speed indicated by one of those little dashes nestled between the 75 and the 80 on our odometer. Traffic, in general, is fast moving down the small stretch of route 95 in NH. Dirt and I zip past a NH State Police cruiser who was perched on the side of the road, and we both let out an instinctive grumble and immediately check the rear view mirror to see if he was pulling out. He was. Then I spot our insurance policy, a black Mercedes with Mass plates. “Don’t worry”, I confidently assure Dirt. He’s going after the Massy.

Seconds later the cruiser is up behind the Mercedes with his blues flashing and Dirt and I smugly watch them cross over into the breakdown lane. Dirt is giggling, “How did you know?”

Dirt isn’t from New England, he doesn’t know about Massachusetts. The stigmata, if you will.

Growing up on the border of Massachusetts, we learned to blame all crime, violence, pollution, vandalism, traffic, loud mufflers, smog, liter, and any other social problem you could name on the fine residents of Massachusetts. It was what we did.

Massachusetts has a highest crime rate of all the New England states (ranked #40, compared to NH = 51, ME = 47, and VT = 48). Those figures don’t really matter anyway, because deep down we know that even the crime that is committed in NH, ME, & VT comes from Mass residents who have crossed over the border to raid us.

Ironically, both of my parents were born and raised in Massachusetts. My brother and I were both born in Massachusetts hospitals. My husband, mother, and brother all work in Massachusetts, and I work for a company that is headquartered in Massachusetts. I attended the University of Massachusetts and I was living in Boston when I met my beloved Dirt (though I never actually switch my car registration or license over).

Elitism? Probably. Wrong? Yes, on so many levels. But to this day, I have not been able to break free from my disdain for the occupants of almost all vehicles donning Massachusetts license plates. And, I am not alone.

Massachusetts plates also explain every act of roadway indecency and aggression. Last summer we were driving along Route 1 in York behind some kids who threw a soda can out the window, “they’re probably from Mass!” I proclaimed. Dirt corrected me, “they have Maine plates”. "Well, the kid who threw the can out was probably from Mass".

The only people who are exempt from the Massachusetts stigma are:
1) Any professional athlete who plays for a New England team.
2) Our co-workers who live in Massachusetts
3) People who we know and like who live in Massachusetts
4) People who live in Nantucket (they're far enough away from the mainland)

All others are Massholes. But I wonder if they know?

I must admit that sometimes I see my co-worker’s car with her Massachusetts license plate and I feel a little bit sorry for her. She’s too nice to live in Mass, she should be a Maine resident, or a New Hampshire resident. But then again, for all I know, they might think that we're a bunch of tree-hugging, uncivilized, goodie-two-shoes, hicks?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Slugger

Last night we watched the Home Run Derby; it didn't take long for Josh Hamilton to emerge as "the man".

Given his story, Dirt and I figured that he was a Christian; his transformation, followed by his success and humility had Jesus written all over it.

It's funny, just last Sunday in church I looked around and noticed a bunch of "hard looking guys" scattered throughout the congregation. I smiled. The tattoos on the back of their necks, "love and hate" on their knuckles, pierced ears, ripped t-shirts, disheveled hair, wallets with chains attached to them. Good stuff. I love seeing them in church sitting next to old men in their jackets & ties and upright families (who dress up for church). These guys usually have the best stories, and hearts full of gratitude. They remind me of the twelve.

From wiki:
"Hamilton's struggles with drugs and alcohol are well documented. He finally got clean after being confronted by his grandmother, Mary Holt. Hamilton says he hasn't used drugs or alcohol since October 6, 2005. When giving a brief summary of his recovery Hamilton says simply "It's a God thing." He does not shy away from telling his story, speaking to community groups and fans at many different functions. He frequently and publicly tells stories of how Christianity has brought him back from the brink and that faith is what keeps him going. His wife Katie sometimes accompanies him, offering her perspective on his struggles as well. To go along with the provisions of MLB's drug policy, Hamilton provides urine samples for drug testing at least three times per week. Rangers' coach Johnny Narron says of the frequent testing: "I think he looks forward to the tests. He knows he's an addict. He knows he has to be accountable. He looks at those tests as a way to reassure people around him who had faith." Hamilton approaches the plate at Texas Rangers home games to the song "Saved The Day" by Christian group Phillips, Craig & Dean."

His favorite verse: "Humble yourself before God. Resist the devil and he'll flee from you." James 4:7.

It makes me laugh when people think that being a Christian is "too restrictive", if they only knew that Christ is freedom!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Not Making Cents

Yesterday Audra reprimanded me about my spending. It's not her fault, it was self-induced, really. She was only doing what any good friend would do. The whole conversation started out innocently enough, we went for a stroll around Portland to find vegan chocolate chip cookies and then ended up back in my office with no real plans to do any work during the last hour of the day.

It's review time at work and I might've mentioned something about raises not mattering because no matter how much money I make, we always seem to be broke. Then I might have said, "broke, broke, broke", followed by a distortion of my mouth and face that amounted to an "I'm sick of myself" expression.

For those of you who do not know Audra, let's just say that she is a bit "no nonsense". She has no tolerance for irresponsibility and frivolousness (or environmental abuse, but that's a separate blog).

I first tried to blame my financial woes on the kids. I whined that we were riddled with costs for daycare, private school, summer care, piano lessons, swim lessons, golf lessons, gymnastics, snacks for schools, activity fees, clothing, breathing (oh, wait, that one is actually free). She looked unimpressed. "You make more than you spend on that stuff. So where is the rest going?"

Um..charity, my 401K, um...

No. Though some does go to those places, the real problem is my spending. I feel compelled to note that at this point in the conversation, Audra looked disgusted, as if I had just thrown a plastic bottle in my trash can.

She said that my blog on Sweet Tea highlighted my problem with consumerism. "Did you really need the Starbucks at Target?" "What did you go to Target for?" "What did you leave with?" All very valid questions. I went to Target for trash bags and I left with everything but. I broke down and confessed my secret trick to try to spend under $100 so that my spending would dip below Dirt's watchful radar. I don't know if that trick actually works because Dirt never mentions anything to me about my spending, but with every swipe of my debit card, I can almost feel his eyes perusing the details of our account, just looking for a triple-digit purchase to interrogate me about.

After our conversation I felt motivated to go home and make a budget with Dirt. He was going to be so proud of me for initiating budget talks, I couldn't wait to impress him with my new-found motivation for living within financial confines. "What about purchasing things we need, or home renovations?" I asked, "What about vacations?". Audra gave me a line about saving and budgeting for them, she may've called me "young grasshopper", I'm not 100% sure.

Since Audra is all about plans (she's a PM by nature and by profession), she gave me an assignment: For 1 week Dirt and I were not to buy anything outside of gas and groceries. One week. I was up for the challenge! We smiled and she stood up and told me she'd check in with me on Monday to see how I did.

Earlier in the day Dirt had e-mailed me a picture of some fishing boots that he wanted me to pick up at Cabalas on the way home. Since we hadn't formally had our budget discussion, I felt that it would be unfair for me start budgeting by cutting out his desired item. So I left work and headed to Cabalas as planned for the $60 boots. But that's when something bad happened. I panicked. I felt the urge to hoard up on things before the budget went into effect. By the time I got to the register I was up to $200, it was not a good start to my new financial plan.

I spent most of the day today thinking about all of the things I need to buy before the budget goes into effect. This is probably not the proper thinking and I'm sure that Audra will scold me for this on Monday.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lunch Break

The kids and I decided early in the day that we'd need a dip in the ocean at lunchtime. At around 12:30 we stopped at Subway and then proceeded towards Ft. Foster, where we planned to eat our subs ("hoagies" for my PA brethren), get our feet wet, and then scurry back home. On the way to Gerrish Island we detoured to Ft. McClary. We were feeling reckless and fancy-free, and a deviation in plan was definitely in order. Plus we always drive by Ft. McClary (it's on the way to Ft. Foster), but have never been, and it was high time we checked it out!

Not a bad view to eat your sandwich by, huh? No beach for "dipping" and a little hazy for any great scenic photographs, but still fantastic.


Lots of beauty there. The ocean, the sailboats, the coastline, the old fort buildings, and even the wild grass...
...and the breeze felt wonderful!! As warm as it was inland (the truck said 88), we were completely comfortable thanks to the cool ocean breeze. ...and the ribs were good too...er..I mean JUMPING, yeah, the jumping was fun. Then we had ice cream and headed back home so that I could finish up my work day
....which I am doing now...well, sort of...after I finish this post... thank God I don't get paid by the hour.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Darkroom

In case you were thinking that my blog was going to turn into technical photography talk, let me assure you that it's not. How am I so certain? 1) because I don't know how to talk technically about anything (I'm an anti-tech, or in layman's terms, "not a geek"), and 2) because I began journaling my photography adventure on another blog. Yes, I now have TWO blogs. Overachiever...I know...what can I say? ..No, not really, but my mom likes to think so (so don't wreck this for me).

Anyway, I know that a few of you are on a similar path, so if you want to tune in to what I'm learning about photography, or commiserate with me, or share some tips that you've learned, or make fun of my failed attempts, or whatever...my alternate blog can be found at http://www.t5m.vox.com/ (or to the right, it's the last one on my list of links, called "My Darkroom". It should probably be called My Dark Depression, but that's more than you need to know right now.

Let's just say that it isn't as easy as all those pros make it look. Audra came in to my office today and proclaimed that I didn't need the D80 after all, I could get what I wanted out of my D40, if I had better skills. (Dirt, take a deep breath and forget that you just read that).

Audra is my photography guru and she loves bossing me around and doling out homework assignments that give me panic attacks and then tearing apart my masterpieces under the guise of "being helpful". Call me a sadist, but I love this woman.


Monday, July 07, 2008

The First Day of Summah

I am not sure what the temp is outside, but the temp on my refrigerator has been holding steady at 81 degrees all day. The windows have been open (since the first week in June), so let's call the outside temp 85 today (kitchen = shade, outside = sun). Summah has finally arrived in Maine.

Okay that was fun, now you can leave.

The sprinkler made a brief appearance this afternoon, which helped me earn some points with the kids, who expressed their dismay with my working from home today (apparently they like their babysitter more than me, which I am totally fine with).
Oh the joy! And no one seemed to notice that I was snapping pictures, which made me a happy. I was even trying my skills in manual mode (insert "you go girl" here).
Ariel is almost too cool for the sprinkler, but not yet. Yay! I'm trying to squeeze every last bit of kid out of her. Why does she have to be 14 1/2?
Amelle is not big on water in the eyes (but who is, really?). She did manage a cartwheel over the sprinkler which I was very proud of. I would've posted it, but decided not to in case she ever wants to date someone....ever. That photograph should not be in the hands of the public.
Soaking it all in. This picture literally makes me feel 3 degrees cooler, just by looking at it (apologies to you if you are reading from an air conditioned space and not an 81 degree kitchen).
So with this I graciously say "Welcome Summer in Maine". Ariel thinks that it took you a long time to get here since summer in PA started back in April. However, we like that you make a brief appearance in July and then leave in mid-August. We also like that 85 is hot in Maine (whereas 95 is warm in PA). Mainers start talking about how unbearable "this heat" is when we get to 85.
I guess 85 is the new 95. I like it.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sailing

After church this morning Avery and I joined Papa Gordo and mom for a different kind of Sunday morning cross: Our plans for a beautiful Sunday sail were a bit foiled by the rolling fog, which we learned was called pea soup...fancy sailing terminology. From York Harbor:

The fog thwarted my plans for Avery to fall instantly in love with sailing and be the captain of our family yacht (34 footer, would probably do it). I love sailing, but just the riding part, not the pulling ropes and understanding the wind part. Therefore, my hope and prayer is that one of my offspring will get the sailing bug and be my lifelong captain. If I can't have that, then I'll take winning the lottery so that I can buy a yacht and staff it with a crew. Did I learn anything at church this morning?

The ropes (oh, yeah...fancy sailing term: lines). One of the things I love about sailing is that it's complexity meets simplicity. Plus it's ancient, it's natural, it's serene. I love it.




Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

"When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
..."We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Strawberry Festival

On Saturday morning my mom called and asked if we wanted to accompany her to the South Berwick Strawberry Festival. Dirt was boating down the Piscataqua on a Striper hunt, so I loaded my four kids (yes, I have one extra in the summer) into the mommavan and headed west.

I know that Mainers dig festivals of all sorts, but what we ran into on this 65 degree overcast Saturday morning was insane. There were about a thousand million people packed onto the grounds of the elementary school in the middle of town. And for what? A glimpse of The Great Strawberry? I was unsure?

However, there was no Great Strawberry. In fact, there weren't really any strawberries at all. Much to the chagrin of my taste buds, we didn't get to eat a single strawberry or even anything strawberry-flavored. There was one booth that was selling strawberry shortcake, but the line wrapped around the tent 10 times and was backed up to Ohio, so we opted to skip it.
The kids did indulge in some fried dough. The number of booths selling strawberry shortcake was equal to the number of booths selling fried dough: one. I wondered why this event was called a Strawberry Festival, I mean it could've just as easily have been called a Fried Dough festival? Both equally appealing, right?
There was also a strange sounding white female group "singing" Motown classics. That was scary and it made my ears hurt. Ariel didn't know whether to laugh or dry heave and she felt sorrow in her heart for the murdering of a Marvin Gaye classic. I was right there with her.

There was also a moonbounce. My mom and Papa G waited in line with Maya for 25 minutes to get her onto the moonbounce for 4 minutes. Apparently she wasn't finishing bouncing after the 4 minute allotment. Grandma and Papa were good sports about letting her finish her routine as they made their way through the crowd.

"Hair meets no hair" hee hee.