Sunday, August 31, 2008

Crossing Paths

On any given weekend day a call will be made from me to Wendy, or Wendy to me that goes something like this:

"What are you guys up to today?"
"I dunno"
"Wanna cross paths at some point?"
"Sure"

Today we crossed paths at Fort Foster.


"Crossing paths' often turns into something fun and memorable, especially with 7 kids.

Often times 'crossing paths' turns into something that involves water...



Or sand.
Or crabs (the boys are on the dock in the distance catching crabs with the older kids)




...and smiles/giggles/full blown belly laughter...
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I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love my family, and I think its awesome that we can make an ordinary day into an exceptionally great day, just by 'crossing paths'.

...and at the end of the day, we can all eat out of the same bowl (even one that Maya has dragged her hair through and perhaps spit food back into).
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That's a lot of love.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Tug

Let’s just start by setting the record straight. I know I’m crazy.

I don’t know why this feels like such a secret, but I’m ready to go public with it. The tug is taking control. “The tug” is this urge to do something about the 140 million children who do not have parents. Not in a “send $35 a month” kind of way, although that would be a good start, but more in a “invite one of them into your family” kind of way.

If I go back to the roots of this matter, I suppose the conversation began on a crisp, clear October night on the rooftop of a brownstone on 13th street in Philadelphia when two googley-eyed 24 year olds talked into the wee hours of the morning about everything under the sun including a shared desire for four kids some day. That was the night Dirt and I met.

The tug has haunted me for years. I ignore it and I pray for God to remove it from my heart and then it goes away…for a time. And then it comes back. The tug scares the crap out of me.

The first real battle with the tug was pre-Maya. The tug attacked me while I was innocently sitting in church one morning, and soon after we began the process of having a third child through adoption. When we met with the adoption people, they were giddy about our family’s composition, apparently there is a need for bi-racial families. The only glitch was that I wanted nothing to do with adopting a baby. Nothing. I was set on a 2 year old bi-racial boy. We attended the required adoption meeting and the application was collecting dust on our kitchen table when I found out I was pregnant with Maya. I love when God trumps me, cause he’s always right.


Once Maya came, I was sure the tug would leave me alone. Tubes tied. Shop closed. No more kids for us. Done. We got through the baby years and managed a 600 mile move and things were just starting to really feel settled when the tug came out of no where and grabbed me.

I was driving in my car last December and it must have been hiding in the back seat or something, because I didn’t see it coming, and then BAM, it was on. Hot and heavy, I needed to adopt. I called the international people and they told me we should do domestic because of our bi-racial family. Then I called the local people and they told me I should try international because there aren’t any 3 year old bi-racial boys around. I was stumped. Surely this was a sign from God that adoption isn’t right for us. I tried, it didn’t work out. I’m done. Prayer answered. Thank you Jesus.

Then, in February, Shaun and Wendy had their forth child (who I love) and I laughed at them. I laughed heartily. Ha ha ha...FOUR kids! "Wow you guys will be in a mini-van FOREVER!". Recently Dirt and I started daydreaming about our next car, "I want out of the mini-van scene", I quipped, "let's get one of those great crossovers".

God was like, "Crossover my behind"....and then he dropped the tug on me like an anvil. It's impossible to ignore. Believe me, I have tried. And prayed. The tug is Superfly Snuka and it has me in a figure-four headlock. But wait, there’s some fine print on it, what does it say? When I look closer, I think it says “Ethiopia”. Ethiopia?

Me: Um…Dirt…
Dirt: Yes?
Me: Can we get a computer? ($1500)
Dirt: No
Me: Can we adopt a child from Ethiopia? ($25,000)
Dirt: Yes.
Me: I'm serious.
Dirt: Okay. You know I’ve always wanted four kids.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Eyes on the Brown Legs

One of the advantages of being a multi-racial family in a homogeneous rural area is that your family members are relatively easy to pick out in a crowd.
Tonight was Avery's first football practice. See if you can pick him out of the crowd. Go ahead, it's fun.

If you selected the third from the left, you're smoking crack. Those are purple socks. If you picked the player farthest to the right, you did it! It's really quite easy, even for an amateur, like yourself.
The trick is to follow the little brown legs.

The other trick is not to freak out, drop my camera, run onto the field, and drop kick the big pink legs who are crushing my son.

There goes purple legs. Um, somebody didn't get the memo. Hey Purple Legs, there's no need to wear the socks to practice, unless of course you just like purple, it's probably your favorite color. In fact, I bet all of your socks are purple. You probably moved to this town because the school colors are puple and white. I don't like you right now Mr. Purple Socks. And by the way, leave my boy alone. Yeah, you, Purple Legs. Get off my boy.
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I probably shouldn't heckle Avery's teammates.
I also shouldn't do things like this. (Wave to Avery while he's on the field). That's not a cool mom thing to do. Then it forces him to wave back, and I believe that waving to your mom from the football field is probably uncool, unless your a professional athlete, then it's endearing.

Fortunately Dirt is the great equalizer. For my every bad mom move, Dirt counterbalances me. I don't even know if counterbalance is the right word, but I'm just going to go with it for now because I'm tired and this blog post is the only thing between me and my bed right now.

Rainy Day

Today the rain foiled all of my mini-vacation plans.
The kids weren't as disappointed as I expected them to be (or as much as I was).

They were just as happy to engage in the ultimate rainy day activity:

Fort-building!

Do you remember building forts as a kid? Where was your ultimate fort spot?


Mine was at the dining room table...that was a sweet spot, and the shelter was half-done before I even started. Drape a few blankets off the side and you're good to go. If you chose to expand your fort and create rooms, you could easily do so by draping blankets around the chairs. Sweeeet!

Raise your hand if you've ever been the victim of a heavy book to the head due to a fort mishap!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

The White Mountains - 2008 Edition

The plan was to do the White Mountain thing on Saturday. For Shaun and I, the White Mountains have our dad (TC) written all over them (and for our spouses, the White Mountains have repetitive childhood stories written all over them). But they're both so gracious about it, As we passed a familiar spot this morning Dirt said, "I remember going here as a child too" ...and for a second, I fell into a stupor about exactly when he and I met...were we nine...I mean it does feel like I've known him all my life...

Dirt! He was tricking me. That's the problem with marrying an only child - they like to trick you all the time.
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So from L to R: Joelle, Grandma holding Maya, Will holding Elly, Mina, Shaun, Amelle, Avery, Dirt. (I'm the one behind the camera, I'm there...you just can't see me - kinda like bad breath)
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Anyway, here's the gang this morning before the day long adventure. Notice how fresh and clean everyone is. No dirty knees, no sweaty hair. That all changes...


Here are the kids "holding up the boulders" at Lost River. Joelle is very convincing.
After our picnic lunch we split up: The 8 oldest (minus me) went on an "Alpine Adventure" ride in some kind of mountain vehicle. Maya wasn't old enough for the Alpine Adventure, so she and I went to Clark's Trading Post where we rode on the train into "wolfman territory".
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The wolfman is an interesting character. I'm not sure what's wolfy about him except for the furry tarzan-esque tapestry he wears. Other than that, he's all biker: long white beard and tattoos up his arm. Maya thought he was a pirate and she didn't buy the story I was trying to sell her about him being "silly". She said, "He's not silly, he's mean".


After the pirate train ride we saw the bear show and then hung out at the playground. She insisted upon having her picture taken with the big bears... We had a great time together, I realized that I don't often spend a lot of one on one time just hanging out with Maya, so it was really nice.

Then there was this little gem. The watering hole. This was a fantastic spot and a great way to end the day. The water was cool, refreshing, and crystal clear.
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It was such a great day and I was glad to have my mom along with us. The only thing that would've made it even better was if my dad had been along. [sigh]
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Oh, and the new header ...that was taken today (through my windsheild as we were driving).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rockport, MA

Today we took our 2nd annual trip to Rockport, Mass to spend the day at Long Beach with my former boss, actually now two of my former bosses - they're dropping like flies.
I love my former bosses. I wish I still worked with both of them. (Though we did scheme ways in which we'd all work together again one day). Encouraging.

As much as I hate to admit that any beach in Massachusetts is any where near close to as good as my beloved Maine coast, Long Beach does have a lot to offer...
For one thing, the drop off is great. The kids are in 3 feet of water when they're 5 feet from the shore. Unlike Long Sands in York where they have to go out 100 yards just to get their knees wet. This is an ideal watching situation for moms who can just park their beach chairs on the shore and see their kids riding waves 10 feet in front of them.

The other nice thing about Long Beach is that the water is warmer. No chattery blue lips.


But the funny thing about going to Rockport, MA was that you won't see any other Maine license plates there. When I go to York, ME...sadly, I don't either. Mass, NY, Mass, CT, Mass, Mass, NY, Mass, Canada...
I often ponder who is worse: Canadians or Massies? I have yet to resolve this delimma in my mind. Don't judge me. I have lineage to both, so I can ponder such things.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Land of Oz

I have a philosophy that all kids are at least a little bit strange. That philosophy may not be true, but it makes me feel better about my own strange brood.

Take this one. She is the boss of the family. I keep scratching my head trying to figure out how the littlest one wields the most power. She demands that I take pictures of her making funny faces and then makes me show them to her immediately after. I am an obedient mother. I need to somehow reverse this.

Then there's this one. She thinks she's the boss, but she's really more of a busybody. She thinks she's next in charge of things if something were to happen to me. She pays attention to everything. And she's in everything. She's also a racist, but I'm working with her on that. Avery told her that it was illegal for her to be a racist and I didn't correct him. She's all about rules, so hopefully that'll scare her straight.

Then the oldest one, he asserts the least power in the family. I'm not sure why, because he could outsmart the other two because he's the oldest, but he doesn't work it. Maybe that's the man in him. Or maybe it's because he's too busy scheming ways to annoy them. He's good at that. He hasn't had a hair cut since May. He's not into personal hygiene. Notice the shirt. It's true.

When you put them all together...

....you pretty much get total dysfunction. Notice: Amaya getting pushed in the toy stroller with "Beckett" (the doll baby). Amelle is pushing her (the mother) and Avery is annoying Amelle by poking her butt with a stick.
These are my kids.
This is my little slice of sanity.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Decisions...decisions....

Would you rather be rich, famous, or powerful?

You can be famous without being rich (Screech, Toni Braxton) you can be powerful without being rich (judges – though the definition of rich might be subjective because judges are paid well), you can be powerful and rich without being famous (I can’t give any examples because the examples aren’t famous enough for me to know about).

Anyway, I think I’d want to be rich. Being famous would be annoying to me...cause my main focus each day is to be left alone. Being powerful would require way too much self-control. Being rich would be good though. In addition to having lots of freedom, you could give so much away and the well would never run dry. I’m obviously not talking million dollar rich, I’m talking zillion dollar rich.

So tell me, which would you rather be and what is the rationale behind your answer?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grandpop in ME

Dirt's dad came up for a visit on Wednesday night. It was his first time in Maine, so we had to take him to Nubble Light. It's kind of a staple for all first time visitors.
He left this morning. It was a short visit, but a fruitful one. Dirt and Avery golfed with him twice in 2 1/2 days. There was a whole lotta man-bonding time, which I think they all enjoyed.
He's already planning to come back again in the fall. We'll leave the light on for him...

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Hate PT Cruisers

There, I said it.

I think they're the fugliest, clunkiest, most ridiculous vehicle ever made. A car rental establishment once tried to force me to drive one (passing it off as a "mid-size" car) and I laughed in the face of car rental worker and demanded a free upgrade for their insinuation that I would ever be caught behind the wheel of one of these hideous cars. Um, Do I look like a clown? No? Then why would I be driving in a circus vehicle?

I know it's not "Christian" to hate (and believe me, I have friends that like to remind me when I'm not "being Christian"). But even God hates something (sin). He loves sinners (fortunately for me), but He does hate sin.

I really try not to hate anything. It's a word that has basically been stripped from my vocabulary since I had child #1. Because my kids aren't allowed to say it, I'm not really allowed to say it. Plus my philosophy on hating something is that it actually takes effort to hate, it's far better to simply ignore things that are bothersome. However, this morning I saw a purple PT Cruiser on the highway and I got this feeling inside that I can only describe as utter contempt, and I thought to myself, "I hate PT Cruisers and I'm going to proclaim it to the world!"

So in my research to see if I could publicly proclaim my hatred toward, I stumbled upon this passage:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:9-10

Isn't that nice? Especially the part about honoring one another above yourselves. That's such a great reminder. I'm going to try to be a nicer person today.

But anyway, back to the part about hating. I think we (Christians) might be able to hate things, we just can't hate other people, right? And we can definitely hate "what is evil" (PT Cruisers). So, unless anyone is opposed to my hating PT Cruisers, I'm just going to go with it.

Thank you and have a nice day!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Home Sweet Maine

I know it's obvious that I love living in Maine. But here are some reasons why:



Nearby lighthouses outnumber traffic lights in my town.
Big skies and little houses.


Pea Pods strung together acting like they don't care about anything in the world.
Sea grass that submits to the breeze.


Millions of stars dancing on the ocean.
The thick blue line that blends the sea and the sky.

Oceanside vandalism

Wooden docks that lead no where

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Full Court Press

How do you capture a weekend overflowing with good times in four measly shots?

Seth, Nancy and Winchester came up from PA on Friday. Since the weather was so fantastic, we decided to take a ride up the coast to Kennebunkport on Saturday.

Amelle and Avery in front of the Bush summer home in Kennebunkport. I love the expression on both of their faces. So naturally them. And the glasses on Amelle put me over the edge, they are so her!

I apologize for tilt, if my home computer were up and running I would've been able to fix that. (and I suppose if I get down to the root cause of the problem, maybe if I weren't drunk I would've taken the photograph straight to begin with).

I know, I wasn't drunk.

But maybe I was. Or maybe I was high on crack, yeah. Or maybe I was just high on life. Or maybe I wasn't high on anything, but I was holding my camera crooked.

On Sunday we went to Portsmouth for lunch after church and then walked down to Strawberry Bank so that Nancy and I could play around with her macro lens.

Seth is a great instigator. He basically teased all three of my children all weekend long. At various points in the trip, all three of my kids were in this position. Avery's head & body hovered over a fly-ridden public trash can - this one, you can see she was headed over the ocean...

My camera partner! Nancy, Amelle, and I headed out to Fort Foster and Fort McClary on Sunday evening to mess around with our cameras.

...and on Monday we bid Seth, Nancy, and Winchester farewell. But not without putting the full court press on them to relocate to Maine!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'd Rather Be....

Last night I was forced to get my hair touched up (I can't wear a baseball cap to work and my roots were 2 inches long). I absolutely hate going to get my hair done.

Here are 10 not-so-obvious places I'd rather be than in the hair salon getting a touch-up:

1) The dentist
2) Work
3) Getting blood drawn
4) Doctor's appointment (for self or family member)
5) Caught outside in a sudden downpour (sans lightening)
6) On an airplane for 2 hours
7) Changing a poopy diaper
8) Reading with a first grader (though it's close)
9) Grocery shopping
10) Watching extra innings at 9 yo baseball games

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Nut Cracker?

Yesterday our neighbor (St. Rick) came by to do the brickwork around our fireplace. We love Rick. Rick has done a lot of work to this house including laying wood floors, installing a new roof, sanding popcorn off of our ceilings, building closets, sealing up closets, painting, painting, painting, laying tile...you get the picture, he's "the man".

As Rick is laying bricks and rolling mortar around...
Seth: It's nice that you have a skill and a trade that doesn't require you to sell your soul
Rick: What do you mean by selling your soul?
Seth: Well I do woman's work all day long, pushing papers around
Rick: Well, it wasn't actually my first choice. I gave up on my dream too.
Seth: What was that?
Rick: To be a classical ballet dancer.
Seth: [speechless]

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

You Name It

In addition to receiving my balmy husband back, I also received this fantastic photograph in my inbox, depicting a little slice of what took place on Dirt's recent 4-day man weekend in SC (I always thought weekends were 2 days, but that's another matter entirely).

This picture is wrong on so many levels, and I love it. I have actually lost track of the many ways in which I have thought to make fun of them.

So, in an effort to round up some class participation here, let's all put our thinking caps on and come up with some clever captions for this photo of Dirt and his two life partners.

Me first: There's a fish for every body. Get it? I didn't say everybody, I said every body! Ha ha!

Okay, your turn. Forget what your mom said about making fun of others. Dirt is the only one of the three who reads this blog and he's so used to it (the other two are sadly illiterate gangstas). Go hog wild, you know you want to!

Addendum:

Okay, 3 tries. That's not good participation. Maybe you guys aren't seeing the material here that I am. How about, "Is that a walrus tusk hanging out of Dirt's mouth? Might want to see a dentist about that". Or, "The fish on Dirt's hat is larger than the one in his hands!". Or, "When did fishing become a gay sport?". What about: "You can judge a man by the size of his hands and his fish" - oh, that's not right. Here's another one: "Always remember to take the doobie out of your mouth before the picture" (it's not really a doobie, but it looks like one, doesn't it?). Or, "Boy, those fish must be heavy, they require two hands!" ..okay, my quips are admittedly getting weaker...

I didn't want to have to go here (well, maybe I did a little bit). Here's some fresh material. If you can't come up with something to say about this picture, then I give up on you:

Same group of hoodlums, circa 1993.

One more game: Can you guess which one grows up to be a social worker, which one grows up to be a high school math teacher and which one grows up to be a dirt monger?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Observations from the Field, er..Truck:


Over the last few days I’ve had the opportunity to drive Dirt’s truck while my car has been in the shop. Here are a few of my observations:

  • It takes me no less than 7 tries to back out of a parking garage space

  • Surprisingly, I don’t take offense when I see one of those dreadful decals of a young boy urinating on a Ford sign (plastered on the back windows of Dodge & Toyota trucks).

  • I turn my nose up at people who drive smaller trucks like Rangers and Tacomas. I think thoughts like, “and you call yourself a man” or “Oh, got your wife’s truck today, huh?”

  • People say things like “nice truck” and “that’s a whole lotta machinery you got there”.

  • Dirt gets a sparkle in his eye when he sees me driving it.

  • I secretly admire people who drive Ford 250s and 350s and wonder if they look down on me in my 150. I think those drivers are probably very hairy. Then I feel sorry for them, because I know what gas costs, and they’re getting less mileage than I am. I feel part of a brotherhood of gas guzzlers who are getting mistreated by big oil companies.

  • Wendy and I are convinced that it transforms into a dyke-mobile when we’re in it together

  • Since the truck doesn’t have EZPass, I have gotten the opportunity to stop at tollbooths. I really enjoy the tollbooth workers, they’re very nice and they have great manners and usually wish me a great day.

  • I am self conscious whenever I see a hybrid car; I think the driver hates me.

  • I feel like I’m going to scrape the roof of it on the ceilings in the parking garage, but I never do.
  • I feel safer and smaller when I drive it. …and dumber, but usually only when I stop for gas.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Amaya Grace

I came across these pictures this morning...

...they reminded me of my simple prayer when I found out that I was unexpectedly expecting child #3

Most people pray for the health of their child, or even the gender, but not me. Mine went something like this: "Dear God, please no more hair!" ...see, at the time, Amelle was 4 and her hair was frighteningly long and it was a real battle to comb through. I was hoping that God would grant me one of those little adorable cue-ball babies that has nothing but peach fuzz until they turn three.

God is funny; He's got a great sense of humor. That's one of things I like most about Him, that and His Grace.
Thus the name: Amaya Grace.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Staying cool

The temperature has sporadically jumped up into the eighties and the kids have looked for alternate ways to stay cool. The hose keeps Amaya occupied and cool, and proves that kids do actually like to play with things that aren't plastered with Dora or Disney Princesses.
Remember jumping in puddles? I do. I haven't done it since I was in the single digits, but I remember the warmth of puddle water and the grit that would get in between my toes. It was kind of awesome, wasn't it?

But wait a second, is she doing what I think she's doing?

Yup, Belly Flop!
Here's to puddle swimming!