Friday, July 26, 2013

Family Photo Advice - Hire a Professional

I know it seems early to be discussing holiday cards, but as far as I'm concerned, get 'em done as early as possible. Also, I'm going with "holiday" cards because I have lots of Jewish friends and family members and I feel like it's unfair to foist my particular religious views upon them. If I didn't celebrate Christmas and got a card that was all, "Merry Christmas! Let us all rejoice in the Savior's birth," I'd be irritated. To me it's like telling people, "I hope you enjoy my birthday!" So, I stick with "Happy Holidays" which covers everyone. It's just too darned expensive to get one set of cards that says, "Merry Christmas" and another set that says, "Happy Belated Hanukkah! Enjoy your Chinese food and movie on December 25th."

Certainly this must be fake. It's too perfect.

 But, again, I digress from my original topic of holiday pictures. When the Girl and the Boy were little, I attempted to take their pictures for our holiday cards. This generally went like this:

The poor Boy is sending you a telepathic message: "Save me."
More of my 2005 holiday photo attempts after the jump...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cost Benefit Analysis Parenting

It might surprise the people who know me in real life that I minored in economics in college. I made this decision for the reason I do a lot of things, someone else told me that it would be a good idea. This strategy isn't terrible if you're asking the right person for advice. I, of course, did not. The person who convinced me to be an economics minor was my boyfriend at the time. He, himself was an economics major because he was sure that this was the best way to work on Wall Street and make tons of money. However, he was also a terrible student. I mean like, really terrible. The semester we met he was on probation because his grades the previous semester had been something like: F, F, F, D, and a withdraw. I told him that I was impressed with the withdraw because it meant he was sober enough to make it over to the administrative building (which was on another campus), and fill out the papers to withdraw from the class. So, when I was 18, rather than talking to, say, an academic counselor or a dean or (God forbid), my father who is a professor, or any other adult, I took advice from my 19 year-old boyfriend who was mid-way through flunking out of college. Good Lord, it sounds even more insane when I write it than when I just think about it.

I slogged my way through micro and macro economics making mediocre grades that I earned by having an only mediocre grasp of the material. By the time I broke up with the boyfriend at the end of my junior year, it was too late to switch to something else. For years, whenever I revised my resume, my economics minor was a reminder of that relationship.  There's nothing fun about reminders of failed relationships, but a college minor is certainly better than a tattoo...or a child.

I wonder if Ryan Phillippe looks at his daughter Ava, slaps
his forehead and says, "oh right! That's from when
I was married to Reese Witherspoon!"

Looking on the bright side, if I hadn't minored in economics, I never would have learned about cost benefit analysis.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Flowers and Puppies

You know what the world needs more of right now? Pictures of flowers and puppies, of course!


One of the most amazing/jealousy-inducing things about Mainers (for real, that's what they're called) is their ability to grow the most beautiful flowers. You drive past a place and think, surely that must be a uber-fancy, speciality garden store, but BAM, it's Walmart. I tried to find a picture of the planters outside Walmart by searching Google images and found this:

Nancy Morgan Barnes, "Twister at the Rockland Walmart"

and this:

Hiram Berry, who just married Oliver Martinez in France.
Oh wait, that's Halle Berry. My bad!
and this:
This makes so little sense, I don't know where to begin. Aztec rug?
Urban slang use in the second whitest state in the U.S.?
Possible infringement on Tyler Perry's intellectual property?
But, what do I know about Maine marketing?
 Apparently, it is a thriving business.
If you're ever in a bad mood, just put a random search into Google Images and you'll be laughing, or at least scratching your head, within minutes. I know Google has the best algorithm for searches, but the images it picks up are delightfully bizarre. But I digress...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Good News, Bad News

Good News: The Maine heat wave finally broke on Monday.

Bad News: It has been rainy and chilly since then.

Good News: The Girl has finally gotten used to sleeping in the rental cottage and no longer thinks that it's a haunted death-trap.

Bad News: Her fears vanished about the same time that she sprained her finger during some vigorous goalie practice. Someone *cough, cough the K cough* needs to save the power kicks for his pick-up games with Hope Solo.

Bad News: Her injured finger is the middle one, so she has flipped off me, the K, Sister, Dad, the X-Ray technician at Pen-Bay Medical Center, several nurses, and a cashier at the grocery store showing off the injury.

Good News: It's not broken.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sleepin' and Puffin

On Saturday afternoon, we moved over to a rental house because seven people and a dog in 800 square feet is a little close, especially when it's over 85 degrees at night and there is no air conditioning. The cabin we rented is about a half mile down the road from Dad's place. I was looking forward to having more room to spread out and everyone getting more sleep. Well, that didn't exactly happen. At all.

We'd never been in this particular cabin and the floor plan is a little bit wonky. There are two sets of stairs, so that two bedrooms and a bathroom can be reached by one set of steps at the front of the house and three bedrooms and two baths can be reached by a second set of steps at the back of the house. The  house is also, shall we say, traditional, classic, untouched, historic, all those adjectives that when you see them in a real estate listing are code for old. This doesn't bother me too much, as all the houses I lived in growing up were traditional, classic, untouched, and historic. But the Girl was not in love with the house. I'm not sure if it was the bad feng shui, or the vague smell of old person, but she was majorly unhappy with the move.

I don't know if this happens in other families, but in our family, anxiety is contagious. If one kid is afraid of swimming in deep water, he or she convinces the others to be afraid of swimming in deep water. If one kid is afraid of dogs, pretty soon they're all jumping into my arms at the sight of a dog. So, after five minutes of crying and chewing on her nails and wailing about the burglars who were sure to break into the cabin, and the ghosts who were sure to be roaming the halls, and the fires that were sure to spontaneously combust us all, all three kids were wringing their hands and moaning.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hot Enough for Ya?

I hate to complain about hot, sunny weather because I know my friends in Atlanta are about to start building arks because it has been raining for so long, but Maine isn't compatible with 90-plus degree heat. It never really gets that hot up here, houses are built to keep the heat inside during the winter and nothing is air conditioned. When it hits 90 degrees, everyone just sits around going mad from the heat. "But, wait a minute," you say, "can't you just go and jump in that water that is right in front of your damn face?" To which I would respond, "it would have to get a hell of a lot hotter for me to go in that water." But, I am not a small child. Children are oblivious to 50 degree water, so yesterday we took them to one of the few sand beaches in the area, Laite Beach in Camden.

But, let me back up. Prior to going to the beach, we had to buy beach towels, which just goes to show you how rarely anyone goes swimming in the ocean. The girls and I hit T.J. Maxx and picked up five towels. I forced myself to avert my eyes from all the random but temptingly inexpensive items I saw on our walk from the towel aisle to the checkout. I could do some damage at T.J. Maxx.

 While we waited at the check out, a customer was asking one of the cashiers how to roast corn, which is a pretty random thing to ask your cashier at T.J. Maxx, but, oh well. The cashier actually had some experience in the area, and advised the lady to soak the corn overnight in its husk, then remove the corn silk and put it on the grill. Another customer piped up, "then what ya need to do is to roll the corn in mayonnaise and then sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese." Our cashier and I locked eyes in mutual horror for a brief moment. She turned back to scanning our price tags and murmured tactfully, "I prefer butter." Amen, sister.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4th in Maine

Happy Birthday, America! We started out the day in an appropriately manner, with the raising of Old Glory on Dad's new flagpole:

I bought some little American flags at Target before we left Atlanta, and the kids added some patriotic flair to the cottage and the road:

After breakfast we got ready to go the local July 4th parade, which is always entertaining for people-watching, if nothing else. The Boy hates loud noises, people in costumes, being hot, and marching bands. He lucked out because Dad said that he would stay with the Boy at the cottage where they looked up crazy sports team names, listened to classical music, and drank coffee and hot chocolate. Have I mentioned that the Boy and Dad are essentially the same person? They are.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Our Surroundings

Because I promised that Dad's cottage isn't fancy, I thought I should put my camera where my mouth is and show you. Now that you are picturing me as some kind of cyborg, let me show you around.

The cabin
Mom and Dad built the cottage in 1968. Prior to this year, the last big improvements that they made were to add running water (!) and electricity (!!) in 1971. There are three bedrooms - each of the three big windows across the back is a bedroom. Right now, the windows are all covered with sheets to keep out the early-morning sun. The sheets do an adequate at preventing the sun from waking the children, and an excellent job at making the house look like a meth lab.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Minigolf Meltdown

We arrived in Vacationland on Saturday, and have gotten straight to work vacationing. The children and I had an uneventful flight, which, let's face it, is about the best possible scenario when you are traveling with three children under the age of ten. The Girl and the Baby sat together on one side of the plane, while the Boy and I shared a three-seater with a nice woman named Connie, who was exceedingly patient with the children (the Baby had to visit the restroom at least five times, including once during our descent into Portland).

Connie is retired, but has an Internet business refurbishing old trunks. Her website has some pretty nice trunks, if you're in the market. She told me that round-topped trunks were the most expensive and desirable because those trunks had to be on top of the trunk pile because the rounded top prevented anything from being stacked on top. Who knew? Not me before I met Connie. I really like talking to people on planes because I always learn something new. Unless of course, this is the situation: