Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I'm not bitter that our town's designated trick or treat night is October 30th. Really, I'm not. I mean why would I be upset about having to explain to every single person who asks me if the "kids are excited to go trick or treating", that they've already been. Why would I care that I have to endure the look of confusion, the interrogation about why a town would do that, the look of disgust, the comment about how nonsensical it is, and finally, the icing on the cake: the look of "how could you live in a town that is run by idiots?".

Okay, truth be told, I am bitter about it. I hate it. It aggravates me. It peeves me. It eats away at my soul.

So, it's Halloween and um...there is like nothing to do. I'm mean Trick or Treat is kind of the culminating event for Halloween..and we went last night.



The KSeas invited us to trick or treat at Strawberry Banke tonight, sort of a "round 2", and then hit the Portsmouth Halloween Parade, but the kids weren't down with it. Apparently once a kid has gone trick or treating, Halloween is over. There is no sense in going out to get candy when your sack is already full. I mean, at that point, the door to door drill is simply exercise, and let's face it, that's not what Halloween is about.


Since the kids weren't down with having traditional "Halloween fun", we ordered from Loco Coco's and played Pictionary (that sounds "less fun" than it actually was).

We played and laughed and spend the night enjoying each other's company. And the spookiest thing about it was Dirt's rendition of the word "navel".

So this was our Halloween, and it was good, real good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phun with Photo Booth

A few months ago Avery, Amelle and I were messing around with Dirt's Macbook when we stumbled across "Photo Booth"

Photo Booth is all kinds of crazy fun cause you can take low resolution pictures of yourself staring at your laptop.

This weird effect reminds me of those oily skin commercials. "Under our special scientific derm-o-meter, you can easily spot the problem areas, indicated in royal blue. The green areas represent ultra dry skin. If you look at this image and see two red ovals surrounded by green light, contact your doctor immediately".


I didn't know these pictures were being saved. We were just clicking away, having a grand old time.

But when I did the ginormous photo import onto the new system, they magically appeared. I was all like, "Hello photos, I didn't realize that you had saved yourselves" ...and they were all like, "Yeah, that's cause you don't know jack about Macbooks" And I was all like "yeah, so".

I think the Macbook took this shot personally.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Musings

Moving to the country gives you a whole new perspective on things. I don't know if we're officially in "the country", but we only have one traffic light in town, there are no grocery stores, fast food restaurants, or pharmacies, and I once had to stop my vehicle on the way home from work to allow a man who was carrying a calf cross the street in front of me.

In the country (if that's what this is), it's easy to find yourself as the lone vehicle on the road. (Except if you're heading northbound on 95 on Friday evening or southbound on Sunday afternoon between Memorial day and Labor day).

I recently made an observation about my blinker usage when there are no other vehicles around. Here it is: I don't use it.

Please don't alert the local authorities, cause that's another thing about living in the country, the police aren't really all that busy, and if they were to find out that someone as lawless as me is roaming the streets of their town...well, I don't want to think about what might happen, but it could involve tear gas or a serious beat down with one of those nightstick things. (Why is that thing called a "nightstick" anyway? Seriously, anyone know?)

So...when there are no other cars around, do you use your blinker before you make a turn?

Does your answer change depending on whether it's a right or left turn?

If a tree falls in the woods when no one is around, does it still make a sound?

What does E equal?

Why do we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?

Go. Discuss.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dirt on Dirt

As I exited the shower this morning Dirt approached me with an unusually haughty expression.

He extended his palm, bearing this piece of debris from last night's dirt expansion project.


Dirt: See what this says? CROCS size 5. Do I wear size 5 Crocs? You can take a picture of this and add it to your little blog. This proves that it is the kids who track in dirt, and not me - forever.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Leaving Dirt

I am always on Dirt about taking his shoes off in the house.

...but he rarely ever listens. He has this aversion to being barefoot that I don't understand. Barefoot is beautiful. "Embrace your inner Africa I tell him".

I don't really tell him that, but I figure his ancestors were all about the barefoot. He needs to get back to basics.

The worst part about the whole thing is that he swears he doesn't track dirt in. Whenever I find dirt around the house he totally blames it all on the kids.

...despite the fact that all summer long, my mudroom is filled with sand from his fishing adventures

This is the sweat little gift he left behind this evening.

I hate dirt.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reject

I'm sending the darn book proposal that I've been sitting on for months to Down East tomorrow. I've been procrastinating big time. I wonder if there is some underlying "fear of rejection" that is behind the months of procrastination? It's funny, because last week I sent off the entire 26,000 word manuscript to Islandport Press without flinching. (Never mind that the entire manuscript is not fit for the eyes of a publisher.) For some reason, I think Down East is different.

When I sent them the query (about a year ago), I checked the mailbox every day for six weeks ..yes, even the day after I sent it, in case they randomly decided to reach out to me before even receiving my query). I'm a such a boob. Six weeks later I got the whole thing back with a nice note telling me that they'd like to see a proposal (which is a whole lotta work). I then procrastinated for six months, wrote the proposal over the summer, then re-wrote the whole first chapter, then procrastinated another four months. I'm finally sending the stupid thing off tomorrow. Good riddens.
In the meantime I also wrote a picture book which I have e-mailed off to two very small publishers. I love small publishers who accept e-mail submittal (though few and far between). Both sent me lovely rejection letters:

Hi Erin, I like your story, but we do not publish rhymed stories and this one might be a little too young for our intended audience. However, it is sweet and reads really nicely. You might want to try some of the bigger houses and try to place it.

I received this one today:

Thanks for sending your manuscript. It is a wonderful concept – I love the Moose/Banana language theme. Cute. Unfortunately we are not starting any more new projects this year – there are a few big ones in the works now. I will keep your manuscript on file though. Thanks and Good Luck,

It's almost like when you are in high school and the boy you like "just wants to be friends". He's all like, "You are really great and smart and pretty, but I really need to concentrate on studying for my SATs right now, I can't be distracted by dating someone, sorry".

That's exactly how publishers do you. They tell you how much they like your concept and then give you a reason why they can't pick up your work.

Anywho. If you're wondering what the heck moose/banana means, the book is called, "That's not a Moose, it's a Banana!". Here's a glimpse:

What happens when a 5 year old boy gets a new 2 year old sister from Africa? Lots of silly fun! Especially when she asks for a banana by calling it a "Moose"! Giggle along as he tries to teach his new sister to say BA-NA-NA!

In Amharic, a "banana" is pronounced, "moose". So you can imagine the fun a 5 year old boy has when his newly adopted sister sees a banana and calls it "moose". (Amharic is the predominant language spoken in Ethiopia)

So...that's really it. Ending this blog is oddly almost as awkward as ending the "let's just be friends" convo. I've re-written the last few sentences of this blog with no fewer than four different endings. I'm just going to go with this. Um..bye.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

God's Pharmacy

Dirt forwarded this to me a while back and I just tucked it away for a day like today, where I feel compelled to update my blog, but don't have the energy to actually write something.

I don't know if it's all true, but someone took the time to think about all this stuff and I thought it was interesting enough to share...

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye... and YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Avocados, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers.And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.

Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Oranges, Grapefruits, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts. (Um, my "mammary glands" might've looked like grapefruits when I was 20, but now they look more like avocados...hmmm)

Onions look like the body's cells. Today's research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion,Garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Scariest Halloween Party Ever

I'm really not one for the whole "scary Halloween scene", which is why I thought it would be a good idea to bring the kids to the church Halloween party that was advertised in the Sunday bulletin. Christians don't generally "do" the whole dressing up as witches and demons and devils thing, so a church Halloween party was right up my alley....or so I thought...

The shindig was set to begin at 6:30pm on Friday. Wendy and Will planned to join us and I was secretly glad that Wendy was coming to church with me so that I could show her that Christians are normal people (I think she thinks that Christians are weirdos and freaks). I have never been to the church Halloween party, and wasn't confident that it was going to be all that great without the traditional spooky Halloween decorations, but the invitations promised pumpkin carving and prizes for the best costumes, and I knew the kids would be happy to run around with other costumed kids...

At 4:30pm on Friday I still didn't have costumes. I rushed around with Avery and Amelle trying to find costumes for them, got home at 5:30, stuck two frozen pies in the oven (it was a potluck) and transformd three excited kids into a Brainiac, Sharpay (from HS Musical), and Cat Girl. Will (aka Rafael) and Wendy showed up at 6:10 and we let the kids run around to get some of the excitement out until 6:30.

As we walked out to the car Dirt trailed behind with the pies. Wendy said, "oh, I didn't know Jermaine was coming". Dirt viewed this as an opportunity to get out of going and said, "Well, I don't have to go, in fact, if you and Wendy are going...you don't need me..." I gave Dirt the evil eye and told him that he'd have fun talking to the other bored dads. He reluctantly followed behind us in his truck.

We arrived at church at 6:40. Not a lot of cars in the parking lot (not a lot = 6). We drove past the door where we saw 9 long tables set up with table clothes and pumpkin centerpieces and some people dressed up by the buffet table. They looked to be adults, the kids must've been running around in the gym or off doing a craft...

I looked down at my watch, it was still 6:40, "It's still early" I said to Wendy, maybe there will be more people coming...

Dirt pulled up next to us, "doesn't look like a lot of people here"

...but there was no turning back, we had a minivan full of costumed kids who were ready to party. We at least had to go in and try. Even if there were only a few other kids there, that would be better than turning around. I was certain that the pastor's kids would be there (they're the same age as Avery & Amelle).

As soon as we stepped foot inside the room I knew we were in trouble. There was a moment of dead silence as everyone at the buffet table stopped scooping food and looked at us. Someone finally broke the silence, "Wow, now THOSE are some costumes!".
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Dirt lead the way and handed our pies over to a large lawn gnome. Then the gnome introduced herself to us. I asked if the kids were somewhere else and she said, "oh no....all our kids are grown...Steve over there, his son just got married last week".
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Clearly I had somehow misread the Halloween party invite. It was apparent that we were in the over 50 group with some graduates, some lawn gnomes, Pocahontas and Charlie Brown.
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"Hey, you guys are welcome to stay, you're dressed, you brought pie, grab a plate and have some dinner! We're going to carve pumpkins later!" The gnome kindly offered.
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I couldn't contain my laughter. It was like being back in High School trying to maintain your composure when someone in class farts. It was horrible and I have never been good at suppressing laughter. I was trying desperately to hold back the giggles and tend to my kids who had no idea what was going on. Avery was "embarrassed" and when I turned around to Dirt for some ideas on how to gracefully get out of there, he was gone. Vanished. Disappeared.
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Blasted!
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Wendy looked at me with a wide-eyed smile. There would never be another opportunity for me to prove the 'regularness' of Christians. It was over, case closed, this confirmed her suspicions - whatever they were.
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I bought some time by pouring the kids juice and then came up with a plan to bring the kids up to the church gym to run around. It served two purposes, 1) got us the heck out of there and 2) allowed the kids to run around in their costumes for a while.
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Thirty minutes later we exited the building through the front exit and walked outside the building back to the car as not to disrupt the "Halloween Party" any more than we already had. When I got back home I re-read the invitation, it said "B2 Halloween Party" - I guess I kind of ignored the "B2" when I first read the invite because I didn't know what it meant.
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Apparently B2 is code for "old people".
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Hopefully that will be the most frightening Halloween experience I will ever have.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thank You


Through your comments we were able to raise $140 for Worldvision through Blog Action Day!

Special thanks to KSeas for doubling the donation amount from $2 to $4. We'll be sending off our donation to Worldvision tonight.

These dollars can be used to fulfill so many different needs throughout the world. Here are just some examples:

2 Goats @$75/ea: The early-morning bleating of a dairy goat is a happy sound for children in countries like Haiti and Kenya — they know it’s ready to be milked. A goat nourishes a family with protein-rich milk, cheese, and yogurt, and can offer a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market. It even provides fertilizer that can dramatically increase crop yields!

12 Chickens @ $25 for two: Two chickens will provide a family with a lasting source of nutrition and income. Fresh eggs raise the levels of protein and other nutrients in a family’s diet, and the sale of extra eggs provides money for other household needs.

56 Ducks @ $30 for five: Give five ducks to a hungry family today and they’ll benefit from hundreds of large, protein-rich eggs throughout the year. Extra eggs and hatched ducklings can be sold to buy medicine or help pay for children’s school tuition.

$750 worth of food @ $50 for $250 worth of food: Children and families in countries like Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Zambia suffer debilitating hunger when the price of food rises and crops are destroyed by poor rainfall, locust invasions, and other natural disasters. Your gift will be multiplied five times in value by government grants to provide $250 worth of emergency food and other aid for those suffering the most.

Last year we were introduced to this gift-giving concept by Avery's teacher. At Parent/Teacher night she told all the parents that after 30 years of teaching, there was nothing more that she needed. She asked that if the children wanted to give her a Christmas gift, they could draw her a picture for her scrapbook and if they wanted to do something more, they could order out of a Samaritan's Purse gift catalog. Avery had a great time going through the catalog and deciding what to order in honor of her and some others on our list. Each person that we ordered in honor of received a card acknowledging that a gift had been made on their behalf. Everyone seemed touched by the gift.

This year I plan to expand that and do more. It's funny that we literally have to wrack our brains thinking of things to buy people for Christmas because they seem to have "everything". How many times have you heard, "What do you get the person who has everything?" The perfect answer is to give them the satisfaction of helping someone who has nothing. It's a great feeling, knowing that a family is going to have milk or eggs or medication just because you exist.

If you're interested in this concept, you can order a gift catalog for Worldvision here, or Samaritan's Purse here.

Lots of people on my Christmas list will be receiving these gifts as well!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today is Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

So today is blog action day, who knew? I'm a little late out of the gate, but I think the point is for bloggers to come together and unite for a common cause. Today's cause is POVERTY.



Interestingly, poverty has been on my radar lately because of my research on Ethiopia [insert 1980's hit song, "we are the world, we are the children" here].

Imagine a place where faces are smiling despite hunger pains. In this place there is one phone for every 100 people, homes are made of cardboard and scraps, safe drinking water is a luxury, and sickness has spread death over the land.

In this place children's cries are muffled by their pillows at night. More than 4 million (FOUR MILLION - absorb that for a minute) children are longing to be held by their loving mommies, but she's dead. Many of these children became caregivers to their sick parents at an age where American children are pulling the heads of of their Barbies.

In this place some children go to school, but many do not. In this place, girls are often unwillingly married off at age 13. In this place "fairness" isn't part of the equation.

In this place, old age is 52. In this place 25% of people live on less than $1 per day. One dollar per day (you can barely start your day without spending $1.50 on a D&D coffee)

This place needs your help.

Do something, anything, to help today.

Thank you.

**oh, good news: "doing something" just got super easy! For each comment left on this blog, an anonymous donor has volunteered to donate $2 to Worldvision. Thank you Anonymous Donor!

World Food Day is tomorrow, October 16th, so the "comment collection" will stay open through midnight tomorrow 10/16/08. Please leave your comment before then! It doesn't matter what you say, just say something. Comment for a cause, it'll be the easiest thing you've done all day!

Exciting Update! ...we're up to $4 per comment left on this blog! 4 hours left! Don't lurk today...leave your mark! Thanks KSeas!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Make Art Not War

I don't know what the heck that title really means

except for that for a brief moment in time


there was true joy and collaboration amongst three children


all because of one simple thing: ART.


...and if some paint and paper plates can cause three kids to live in harmony, why can't this principle be applied to the rest of the world?
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I know, that is truly one of the stupidest things I've ever said (and believe me, I've said a LOT of stupid things).
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But I'm leaving it. ..Cause honestly I don't have anything else to say about these pictures.
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And you know what they say...
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....it's better to say something stupid, than to not say anything at all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Before and After: The Fireplace

...because before and afters are fun...


This is what Dirt and I saw when we did our first walk through of our house. We were like, "oh yes, this place is freakin' awesome, we have to have it, where do we sign?"

Seriously this house was the most disgusting house I had ever stepped foot in. To this day, I have no idea why we decided to buy it. Maybe we were high off of the cigarette fumes. ...or maybe those weren't cigarettes those people were chain smoking...




This is what the same area looked like about 1 hour after closing. Okay, maybe it wasn't an hour after closing, maybe a week later. ...what I'm trying to capture is the sense of urgency we had to move all things reminiscent of the old house.
Then something bad happened...

...we got busy working on other renovation projects. We slapped a baby-gate over the hole and called it a day...well, actually two years.

but then one day...my beloved told me he was ready...

and we bought this little number to put inside the hole.


...and then the gas man came and hooked up the gas...
...and St. Rick came and did the masonry...
...and Dirt framed the wall...
...and dry-walled it....and painted it...
...and Papa Gordo made a mantel...
...and I put a pumpkin on the mantel...

...and well-ah!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fear & Fun

Please don't hate me for (over)using Picasa collages today. It's been a while since I've had Picasa, and using all of the new options is part of the reunification process.

Yesterday we went to the Hilton-Winn Farm in Ogunquit for what turned out to be a perfect fall adventure.

As you can see, this venue had all the quintessential fall fair activities. Potato sack races - what? Can that be beat? Nature arts and crafts, scarecrow stuffing, face painting, petting zoo, hay rides, donut-on-a-string eating, and $3 hot dogs...

...and a Haunted House...

This is the look of sheer terror.


This is what they were looking at. The kiddie blow-up Haunted House. The fact that it kept sort of collapsing/deflating made it more comical than scary, but yet...our little brave warriors found this image terrifying, yet intriguing.

So you can imagine how they felt about this:


I mean, that poor woman's cankles, God love her. Oh, no...it was the witch on the funky looking bicycle that drove fear into their hearts. The cankles drove fear into my heart.

Will even asserted that the witch stole the bicycle. She was maneuvering around the fair urging people to follow her to the Haunted House. Behind her was a trail of children running and screaming.

..and they weren't going to the kiddie Haunted House, oh, no...she was headed to the real Haunted House - mwwaaa...ha..ha..ha [insert spooky organ music here]. It was in the bottom of the barn (which I would find scary on a regular day, even without people jumping out of the darkness)

I found that the fear factor really brought everyone together. . View the multiple hand-holding scenarios above. (upon exiting the haunted house, I do believe that Dirt and Shaun were even holding hands, but um..my camera was um..broken..yeah..and I couldn't get a shot of that.

All in all, it was an awesome day.


But then again, any day that includes powdered donuts hanging from a string can't be too be too bad, right?

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm Baaaack!

Dirt broke down and bought me a computer today, nothing fancy, just something that I can mess around with my pictures on. I guess he was tired of hearing me cry. Okay, I didn't actually cry, it was more like loud sighs and whining for three months. But let's not dwell on that, the important thing here is that I've had a reunion with Picasa and with my 13,000 images.

We spent several quality hours together importing photographs onto the new system. I mean, nothing like getting her bogged down right away.

During the process of importing pictures I came across some oldies but goodies that I feel compelled to share...enjoy!


I can't say too much about this one, after all, I did marry this man. However, you are free to think whatever you like. ...and if the song "I'm Too Sexy" start playing in your head, just go with it.

I love when Wendy acts like a circus poodle. Hello Bright Eyes! Ruff!

Look it's Braveheart. Oh, no, false alarm, it's just Dirt. He was going out to slay a basketball sized hornet's nest. The problem was that it was summer in Philly, which means that it was 92 degrees outside, and about 142 inside that face mask. Which might not have been a big deal except that it took Dirt two hours dressed in that garb to actually slay the nest. Let me rephrase that, "it took Dirt two hours to get the courage up to attempt to slay the nest", the actual slaying only took about 7 seconds (you have to move quickly when slaying hornet's nests). I love you Dirt, you are forever my hero.

I can't even say anything about this shot. I seriously love it so much it hurts.

It's probably not nice to take pleasure in other people's pain. You should really stop smiling now.



Scooby Doo - where are you??? I wish you were in this scene instead of a shrunken down version of my son. This is clearly the pinnacle of creativity for me. I'm not sure what made me think this was a good idea, but I did send out Avery's birthday invitations with this image smack dab, front and center on the card. A proud moment gone bad. Go now, and bask in my shame.

"Cheeeese". More like Cheesey. Let's start with the double red plaid ensemble. Next, let's talk about the hair...is that a mohawk? Now somebody please take Maya's pulse, cause it doesn't look like she's breathing.

No it wasn't staged. Yes, I took about 32 shots of this scene.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Coordination: Out-takes

Coordinating a group photograph takes a lot of skill and effort. The level of complexity that comes into play when orchestrating such a shot is exacerbated by a complex formula (warning, do not attempt to follow this unless you've had your morning coffee). Here goes:
A x N = I
A = Age of participants, a low A value correlates to a high level of complexity. N = Number of participants. As N increases, the level of complexity also increases. In our case, our A factor, combined with our N factor equals "I". Insanity.


Which again, is why I'm glad to know Audra, who is not only a photographer, but a math major.

Here are some of the delicious out-takes from Saturday. Oh, one disclaimer: these are not Audra's shots, Audra's shots are much, much better than these. These [head hung low] are mine. The other thing you'll notice is that the subjects are not looking at my camera because they've been instructed to look at Audra's camera (me and my Nikon are just along for the ride)


Through the years, (and as our "N factor has increased"), we've learned that getting a good group shot is about compromise and basic statistics. It's statistically improbable that we'll get everyone perfect at once, so we essentially have to take the shot with the most number of decent looking kids and go with that one. Hey, it only stays on the mantel for a year, and the odd ones out can hope to catch a break the following year. In this shot, you'll see that everyone is decent, except Avery, who looks like he's demon possessed.


No explanation necessary.



This particular shot has multiple irregularities: Mina's eye's are closed, Beckett's head is turned completely away from the camera (it looks like he's asking Avery to pass the Grey Poupon), and Will looks like Howdy Doody (and I love him for it).


Will looks like he's going to throw up.


Mina looks like she's going to throw up.

Which is why, at the end of the day, it's best if we just throw in the towel and opt for something like this:

Thank you Audra! We love you!