Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day Gratitude

Christmas was a success. It typically is so it goes without saying but it is nice to acknowledge when things go right. The presents were all under the tree, wrapped and ready to go by 11pm Christmas Eve so I potentially would have gotten a good night’s sleep if in fact I had been able to sleep at all. The blueberry sauce didn’t bubble over, which meant that I didn’t have additional kitchen clean up. And most importantly, to me anyhow, the Girls loved every second. Granted, I could probably wrap a couple of brightly polished rocks or a couple of packs of funky socks and they’d be thrilled (no joke, those kids love rocks and socks!).

I managed to keep Christmas reasonable and budget friendly by starting my shopping way back in August (in some cases even earlier). I knew what they would like and I started looking for sales and discount and coupons and for the most part found them easily while convincing the Girls that the few things they did asked for were ridiculously expensive.

I’m kind of mean like that.

But on the other hand, I lucked out with my kids because they are so unimpressed with gadgets and technology it is a rare Christmas that finds mp3 players or e-readers under our tree. This year was no exception. Legos, board games and DVDs dominated the top spots. For Cyra the Lord of the Rings Lego set was her big gift and for Ashleigh seasons 1 – 5 of Doctor Who were hers.

I’ve mentioned before that we are a family of gamers. Board games, video games, card game, RPGs, we play them all. Our living room is taken up by DVDs and games. We have two storage ottomans stuffed with all manner of games. My point? We are always looking for new games to play.

And that brings me to some very sincere “thank yous.”

First, to my BFF Sara for marrying such an awesome guy. Geordie introduced Sara to Settlers of Catan and then shortly thereafter, introduced it to me and the girls. Who would have ever thought sheep herding was a fun thing? But we loved it, especially Cyra who quickly developed a knack for the game.

Catan was the first game to find its way under the tree.

Next, for the rest of the board games, I’m going to have to give a huge shout out to a celebrity, something I’m fairly sure I have never done before. But a big thanks to Wil Wheaton.

Yup. Wil Wheaton, awesome actor and avid gamer.

Wil Wheaton who, among other things, hosts a cool web show called Table Top on Geek and Sundry (I’ve mentioned them before too) where each episode he gathers some of his friends around a beautiful gaming table that I so desperately yearn for, and plays a game. Wil Wheaton introduced Ashleigh and I to Gloom, Star Fluxx, and Dixit which all found places under the tree this year too.

There were a bunch of other games that were features on Table Top that I was willing to get but…budget, budget, budget.

I’d also like to thank Ashleigh for insisting that we trade in old Wii games for some new used ones. If she hadn’t I would have never found what is clearly the best Wii game in existence: Dinosaur Strike.

I can barely describe it because words can not adequately explain the awesomeness that is this game. So a very brief description: You get to fight dinosaurs AS A DINOSAUR!!!! OMFG!! This is a game that was designed specifically for me. It is, as Sara said, like a dream come true. Why Dinosaur Strike was not the most heavily promoted game of 2010 I have no idea. Even worse? They’ve stopped making it and while I got it for a song at GameStop, I looked it up on Amazon and the prices for it there range from $50 to $250! Yikes!

Scott and I played it last night while the girls ate dinner (I make a huge Christmas brunch rather than a dinner so later meals are a ‘get it yourself’ deal). He played as a T-Rex (of course) and I was a velociraptor (totally my favorite carnivorous dino. FYI: pachycephalosaurus is my favorite herbivore). And oh how the hilarity ensued! Fun fact: I am horrible at fighting games. In fact I am so horrible at them I tend not to play them at all. But Dinosaur Strike takes the cake! I am pretty sure I will never stop playing this game!

My very last thanks is to my Mom. (Hi mom!) Mom is pretty awesome in and of herself so any gift she gives me is pretty cool. This year she got me a pressure canner and cooker that I’ve been longing for since last spring when I planted my very first garden. While the garden didn’t turn out as fabulous as I was hoping for, that didn’t stop me from reading and researching all the cool things I can make and preserve. Remember that sour orange tree out back? Guess who’s making marmalade this week??

Making marmalade might just be the only thing that tears me away from dino-fighting this week! Or maybe pie-making. Did I mention the awesome lime green Le Creuset pie plate that Scott and the Girls got me to replace the one that broke last March? So. Very. Beautiful.

And there you have it. I hope that your holiday (which every flavor you like) was shiny like mine! And a happy Boxing Day to you all…whatever that is!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmasy Stuff

DISCLAIMER: The following post contains frank discussion about my beliefs and feelings regarding religion. I don’t often discuss serious things here and I’m sure I’ll go back to posting silly stories soon. Please read with caution.

I knew in elementary school that my family was different from other families because if a sleepover at a friend’s house ended on a Sunday morning I would be dropped off at home early so my friend could go to church. Sometimes though I tagged along; I sat on the hard backed benches and watched the people around me. They were always dressed up like they were going to a wedding. It made me uncomfortable because I was not and I knew that I was the odd one out. I stared at the stained glass windows in awe at the beauty of them. I followed along with what my friend did. If she stood or sat or kneeled, so did I. But I didn’t understand a thing.

I knew who Jesus was. We celebrated his birthday every year. And I played with the Nativity every year. I loved the little sheep and donkeys. I loved moving baby Jesus around, trying him out in different places before finally putting him back in front of Mary. I knew the basic story – I watched all the Christmas specials each year and Linus explained it succinctly every single time. I loved Christmas time. It was the only birthday party I knew of where the guests got all the good presents! And boy did Santa bring me great gifts.

I started paying a bit more attention in middle school. My friends talked about church and I listened. They went to Sunday school and confirmation classes. They spoke of accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I wanted to understand. I wanted to belong. One night, I took my mom’s old King James Bible with its fancy thou’s and ye’s and I read it. Well, I skimmed it to get the general idea.

But I was skeptical about the whole Jesus is God thing. Actually, I was skeptical about the whole book. None of it made sense to me. Right about that time I was big into archaeology and paleontology. I was dumbfounded that the bible made no mention of dinosaurs. That it didn’t explain cave paintings and artifacts from civilizations that came ten thousand years before. I put the King James Version away and left it at that. It didn’t make sense and therefore it was of no use to me.

By eighth grade I knew. Well. I didn’t know, know. I had an inkling, a tickle in the back of my mind that I was somehow different from my friends. I didn’t know there was a name for it but I knew. I was a nonbeliever.

In college many of my friends were quite open about their religious beliefs and after learning about my skepticism, encouraged me to attend church and mass with them. I willing went along. I wanted to understand and maybe, back then, I wanted to believe. I mean I believed in aliens, Bigfoot and the possibility of a Loch Ness monster so why was it so hard for me to believe that an all powerful, all knowing, all loving being watched over us? Why was it so hard to accept that Jesus was the Lord and Savior? There wasn’t any real proof of aliens yet I readily jumped on that bandwagon. So what was the deal? It wasn’t until I dropped out, pregnant with Ashleigh and moved home that I really started looking at my beliefs.

Maybe I was searching for a meaning. Maybe I was confused by my sister’s sudden interest in the church when we were raised to look for answers in ourselves and in facts. I tried to understand. I went to midnight mass at St. Joseph’s on Christmas Eve that year thinking that I would find something in the pomp and circumstance of the night. And though I was near to bursting with excitement over the holiday and Ashleigh’s impending arrival, I felt more awkward then ever before. I didn’t belong in this building, I thought, with all these believers. It was hypocrisy. I didn’t…couldn’t…wouldn’t believe and yet, there I was.

When Ashleigh was three and I went back to college I decided to study religion, philosophy and history alongside with my English curriculum. Maybe, I thought, if I understood religion from a factual sense, then I…I don’t know what I expected. But the more I learned, the more I questioned and the more I questioned the more I realized that religion would not be something I would ever benefit from.

History showed too many problems sprouting from religion, too many misunderstandings, too many battles, too many deaths. It didn’t matter what religion or beliefs one espoused the end result was bad. Philosophy introduced me the Euthyphro dilemma – is something good because it is inherently good or because a god says it is good? My religion professor, a deeply religious man himself, made us dig for the historical aspects of the biblical text and asked us to question each verse.

Studying made me question all over again but this time it wasn’t about finding faith it was about how I was raising my daughter.

I gave a few brief thoughts about not celebrating Christmas anymore. I thought if I could eighty-six it when Ashleigh was young, she wouldn’t feel like she was missing out on anything. But then I thought about all the fun that Christmas is: the decorating, the celebrating, the presents. Sure there is a religious meaning behind it all, but Christmas is a conglomeration of different traditions that early Christians adopted to get the so-called pagans to convert. What farmer leaves his flock out in the fields on a winter night? Where in Luke does it mention an evergreen tree lit with candles or a Yule log? Guess who else was begot by a god: Hercules, Helen of Troy, and Julius Caesar.

Once I started thinking about Christmas in that sense I felt better about celebrating. In fact, I probably celebrate Christmas more enthusiastically now then I did before I got a degree. I decorate the house, I make ornaments and gifts, I love giving presents and spend a good part of the year thinking about and planning for Christmas. I start singing carols as early as August and despite my very vocal complaints about stores putting Christmas displays earlier and earlier each year, I secretly love it.

My sister a year or so ago shook her head at my while I was decorating my house, making room on the shelves for ceramic Santas that my mom painted. I was singing, giggling and just about spazzing out with joy that Christmas was coming - something that I have never outgrown.

“What?” I asked.

“You.” She said. “I don’t get how you can love Christmas this much and not believe in Jesus.”

I’m not sure how I responded. Maybe I made a witty comment or just shrugged but as the years have passed I have come to terms with my love of Christmas. Christmas isn’t just about Jesus anymore. Not really. It's about hope. The story of Jesus offers people hope. You don’t need faith to have hope. And in the middle of winter when nights are long and cold it is good to remember hope.

I will never claim that Jesus didn’t exist. There’s factual evidence. And I will never claim that I know all there is in the universe because really? It’s just too big for us to understand. And that’s alright. Besides, who am I to pass up on Birthday Cake? Yes, I celebrate the commercial side of Christmas and next to my beautiful Nativity are Santa Claus’s, nutcrackers, mistletoe, a decorated tree and many other things associated with Christmas that actually predate Christianity. When the girls ask about them meaning of Christmas I explain to them the religious and the secular, the biblical and the incorporation of other beliefs. I may not believe that Jesus was or is the son of God, I may not believe in an omniscient god and my point with this post is not to spark religious debate; in fact, I’m pretty sure that this post has moved entirely too far away from my original point I wanted to make which is:


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


So I've figured out the issue.

Fine print. It all comes down to the fine print that we always say we've read, but do we ever really read it? Nope.

Apparently, to make the most of my blogger, I needed to resize my photos. Guess who has never resized a photo ever. Blogger is all: "post all the photos you want forever! As long as they are smaller than 3 microns. But Hey! Post all of them you want!! Yay, Photos!" And I was all like, "Yay! Photos! I love taking pictures and I will post all the pictures and the internets will be complete! Me and Blogger are BFFs!"

Maybe I took Blogger for granted. But maybe Blogger took advantage of my internet innocence. For all computer abilities, I am really not a tech person. Hell! I don't even use shortcuts in Word!

So, it's a fixable issue, but then I wonder if I need to go and resize all the photos I've already posted and that is a daunting thought so I walk away from the computer in frustration and bearing the slightest grudge against blogger even though technically it is my own fault since I didn't read the fine print.

Crap! I can't even really hold a good grudge.

Beside with all the craziness of Christmas preparation, I really haven't spent too much time online anyway. That's how it goes in December. I craft until my fingers are caked in paint, glue and glitter. I wrap until I have scraps of ribbon and pieces of tape in my hair. I blast my Christmas playlist until an intervention is called. I menu plan and bake until there is a haze of deliciousness floating over my house.

So words will be it for the time being. Which stinks because boy have I got some crazy, awesome photos to share! Like the one where I'm surfing and there's a school of sharks right underneath my longboard. And the one where I reached the summit of K2 - I don't want to brag, but the view was pretty amazing. And the one where I had to use the emergency eject chair because my experimental FJ-X465 was crashing into the Mojave desert. Oh and the one with Ashleigh cloning dinosaurs in her bedroom and Cyra photo-bombing her!

Good times!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Photo A Day - Grateful

As I spent yesterday and this morning in the kitchen, struggling to cook while dizzy on pain killers (don't worry, my girls helped me out a lot!) I thought about what photo I'd use for today. But then I realized in a moment of clarity (or as the pain meds were wearing off) I might not be able to post a photo here (Oh Blogger how you disappoint me!) but I probably wouldn't have posted a photo today anyway because I don't do people photos here all that much.

And that, my friends, is what I am grateful for: people.

Amidst the potatoes, pies and turkey, I knew that even if I hadn't a single thing to put on the table today except a bowl of cold gruel, I would still be grateful because of the people I have in my life.  By nature, I am a people person. I like to pretend otherwise, but I really am. I like having people around me and with me. I like sharing my experiences with my friends and family. People make each day fuller especially when they are people you love. And I love me some amazing people!

Today as many gather around the dining room table to celebrate a completely made up holiday I am grateful for:

My Friends - Sara, Natasha, Amanda and Ericka. BFFs who've shared with me good times and bad, dreams and disappointments, celebrations, quiet times and adventures.

My Family - My Mom and Dad, my sister, who at the drop of a hat will be by my side if I need her, my brothers who grew up watching over me and protecting me even as I tried my hardest to annoy them, my extended family that I don't get to see very much but when I do it is as if no time has passed by and the family I married into, the strangers who opened their homes, hearts and worlds to me simply because I married Scott.

My Husband - We have been together for half my life and I can't imagine anyone else I'd want to share my love and life with. He loves me in spite and despite all of my flaws and idiosyncrasies. He makes me feel beautiful on days when I feel ugly, he holds me when I am sad or scared and he dedicates his life to making mine wonderful.

My Girls - If there is a center to my universe it is clearly my girls.  I am beyond grateful to have two compassionate, intelligent, playful and beautiful girls. From the very second I knew I was carrying them I loved them unconditionally. They make my world better. They make me a better person. They make me who I am.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it today!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blogging Limits?

So, umm...There are limits on how many photographs can go on my blogger? When did that happen?

I apparently have exceeded the 1 GB of free photo space on my blog.


So until I figure out a fix on that, I'll be refraining from photos. Which stinks considering I was doing a photo a day thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Photo A Day - Work/Play

As I'm not employed right now I had a hard time trying to figure out a photo to fit today's theme. I could certainly take pictures of housework, groceries or cooking, but I've done that and frankly as much as I love it (except for folding socks! I hate folding socks!) it does get rather repetitive and boring. Could I possibly look at chores with a new eye, through the lens of a camera? Sure. Absolutely I could and that's one of the things that I like doing with the camera: taking the everyday stuff and giving it life.

But I have to admit (especially since this is a scheduled post) that I really wasn't up to it. I've spent the weekend running around, partying with Cyra (we played a mean game of  "don't let the balloon touch the floor") and in my few alone minutes I've been working hard at suppressing my growing panic about my surgery (which by the time this posts will have already happened).

So instead, I spent a few minutes combing through old photos that might have gotten overlooked and boy did I find some doozies!

So here is my take on work/play. Actually I should say here's Ashleigh's take because I found these overlooked beauties in one of her old photo folders. So, thank you Ashleigh for helping me out with today's post.

Clearly, Junie is getting ready for a tough day at the office here. She has her tie and collar and she is so very serious.

Day's done, time to Party! Who's up for the karaoke bar?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Photo A Day - Something Awesome

I'm a geek and a gamer. I've never been one to hide that. One of the things I love most about tabletop RPG is all the neat accessories Paizo is now selling. In a few months, my gaming group will be starting a new adventure where we become pirates. One of the members of the group downloaded and assembled an awesome 3D pirate ship for us to use for the game.

Made out of heavy card stock and plastic sheets the ship has been sitting in my living room for a few months now. And it is full of the awesome! The top deck is detachable so we can play below decks.

You know - rereading that paragraph makes it sound like it is a full scale ship sitting in my back yard rather than on a shelf in my living room. I promise, it's just a model. Although having a full size pirate ship in my back yard would be beyond awesome.

"Avast! There's a giant eel, octopus and something else off the port side!"

Look at the detail on this thing! The planks, the doors that actually open, the carved woodwork!

"Let's keelhaul someone, Argh!"

I've been making the little paper minis for the adventure (again they are a product that Paizo sells to go along with the adventure paths). And don't they look so freaking cute awesome? I can just hear their little "args" and "avast ye scurvy bilge rats" echoing across the deck. And sure, I'll admit that I've had myself a little fun putting the minis on and making them swab the decks.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Out of Commission

So remember when I posted a bit about my teeth a couple of weeks ago? Here and Here and also Here.

Yeah. I'm having some work done. Surgery-like work. In the morning.

(Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.)

I've prepped some photos to go for the next couple of days.

(Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.)

So. Once I stop hyperventilating, I'm sure I'll be fine.

Fine. Just. Freaking. Fine.

There's a bright side here somewhere, but I can't see it over my panic attack.

(Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.)

I read somewhere once that a smart person learns from their mistakes but the truly wise learn from the mistakes of others. Today, I think I am neither. Today, I teach a lesson. Teeth are important. Fears can be conquered with enough anesthesia. Accepting the consequences of your actions may be one of the hardest things to do but it is vital that we own up and take responsibility.

I accept that my teeth troubles are my own fault. I accept that my fear has kept me from doing something about it sooner and now I have far worse problems. I accept that I am a big chicken and wonder if the dentist will think it odd if I bring a stuffed animal with me for comfort. I accept that I will not being enjoying the fabulous turkey dinner I cook unless it is liquified (but I will be all over that pumpkin pie).

Do you feel better yet, Self?

Yeah...I didn't think so.

Photo A Day - Happened This Weekend

It was Cyra's birthday this past week. A whole decade old. I find it quite disconcerting how quickly she is growing, not just in age, but in maturity, attitude, and jeesh! height! The girl is one inch shy of five feet. She is six measly inches shorter that I am. When she was born she was long and skinny and the doctor and nurses commented that she'd probably be pretty tall. At each yearly check-up she is off the charts in height.


We didn't do much for her on her actual birthday since it fell during the week. She requested an oh so fabulous bacon wrapped meatloaf for dinner and instead of cake I made tapioca and stuck a candle in it. The cake would wait until Saturday when she would have her party.

This year she opted for a small one with her two best friends. And that was fine with me (budget, budget, budget!). The only thing she really wanted to do was to go bowling. She talked about it constantly for weeks leading up to her party. So as soon as the girls arrived, off we went to the bowling alley!

I love bowling balls. Shiny and colorful! Just begging for a photo op!

Cyra's big feet! No, really! She's already wearing a women's size 7!

The cake, of course, came later!

Chocolate cookies and cream cake with cookies and cream vanilla frosting and (not pictured) a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream. Can we sense a theme here?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Photo A Day - Last Thing You Bought

Up until yesterday afternoon, I was afraid the only photo I would have for today would be of groceries. But luckily or maybe unluckily as I had to rush about and spend money, I had a camping gear emergency.

My eldest is off this weekend with her Girl Scout troop camping (although really, they get to stay in cabins so I question the whole "camping" terminology). As I was pulling out the gear she needed from the shed, I noticed that her mess kit looked rather rusty. She hasn't used it in a while since when we go family camping we use a set of heavy duty plastic dishes (which, oddly enough have a tendency to melt when piled with very hot, just-from-the-fire foods). I brought it into the house to wash ans sure enough many of the pieces were speckled with rust. I'm sure I could have corrected the problem if I had a sand blaster or some steel wool. Seeing as I had neither, I picked her up a little earlier from school and we headed to Gander Mountain.

I want to live in this store, I love it so much. And while we did get a new mess kit for her, we also ended up with a little flashlight and a wand-like glow stick. And some sporks*. And a fuzzy vest and jacket.

She didn't really need the flashlights but her joyful enthusiasm over the "magic wand" was contagious.

So shiny and red.

* I totally thought of Melanie over at Sporkin' On Down the Road when I was looking at the vast selection of sporks to choose from.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Photo A Day - View From Your Window

I love the view from my living room windows. A big grassy lawn, a gazebo and a pond - it reminds me of an old English estate. Not that I have ever been to an old English estate but I imagine that there would be at least one view from the manor that overlooked an expanse of manicured lawn with a pretty gazebo smack in the middle of an artfully arranged garden and a glassy pond filled to the brim with basking turtles, minnows and dragonflies.

I have a very good imagination.

This view today grants me a small taste of home - upstate New York. Although it is well into November, here in Florida it only just started to get chilly and the leaves only just turned and started to fall. It's officially long sleeve shirt weather now. (Sorry my Great White North friends for rubbing it many feet of snow do you have already?)

As much as I find home is where my family is, I still miss my hometown in the autumn. The delightful crunch of the leaves under foot, the crisp air biting at the nose, the fuzzy sweaters and slippers, apple orchards and pumpkin patches, things that Florida lack, makes me nostalgic for home. But once a year, as the few deciduous trees drop their leaves, I am transported back to my northeastern roots.

Look at my little photobombing kitty, Simone. It wasn't until I had the camera aimed out the window that she decided she needed to be on the sill.

A carpet of leaves is as close as I'll get to a carpet of snow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Photo A Day - In My Bag

I hate carrying a purse. They fall off my shoulder, they get in the way, I have to monitor where it is all the time when I'm out. It's a pain.

I used to just carry a tiny little wallet in my back pocket but then life happened and all of a sudden I needed to carry pens, loose change, inhalers and receipts. I'm not entirely sure when this happened...maybe once I landed a full time job and needed to look slightly more professional. Of course, that implies that I looked professional to begin with and let me tell Even when I am dressed for an interview I still just feel like a little kid playing dress up.

Anyway, I typically dump my purse out once a week and clean all the clutter out. The receipts and shopping lists get tossed, the change gets put into a jar, the numerous pens and pencils get whittled down to one of each and my purse is once again clean and tidy.

Interesting factoid: Once I had taken this photograph I put everything back into my purse because it isn't purse cleaning day.

Interesting factoid: Once I almost got a bigger purse but changed my mind in the checkout lane at Target because I knew that a bigger purse meant more clutter and mess.

Interesting factoid: I apply the same logic I use with a reusable shopping bag to my purse - if it doesn't fit, I don't need it. This is why I often only bring in one bag when I have to go to Target because otherwise I'll end up with a zillion things for which I have no need.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Photo A Day - Man Made

Florida is naturally a swamp so it always strikes me as funny when I see people refer to retention ditches as “ponds” or “lakes.” I used to live in a community that did this. Everyone loved talking about the lake, the fish in the lake, the ducks on the lake, the turtles basking by the lake. It was a complete mystery to me this obsession with a man-made lake. Sure it had a natural aspect to it but to go on about it as though the builders had found a pristine lake and built around it was sort of silly to me.

Florida is like that, a man-made state. Without the development of air conditioning, dredging and draining the swamps no one would want to live in here…at least year round anyway. I think perhaps, especially along the coast, people forget what nature really is. Maybe today man-made nature is the more improved version of nature. Nature 2.0? One step closer to living in a complete virtual environment? Even going to a state park one cannot escape the influence of man-made: roads cut through the trees, fences line the perimeter, trails are blazoned with signs and information, campsites are outfitted with running water and electricity.

Sorry. Slippery slope, I know, and this blog is anything but a tool for social reform or commentary. I am far too shallow non-confrontational for that.

Last year Cyra joined a golfing program and has since fallen in love with the sport. The other day during one of her last lessons for the fall session I followed her around the three-hole practice course snapping photo after photo, paparazzi style, capturing her in action.

When I decided to participate in the photo challenge this month, I made a point to be aware of the different themes so that I could grab photos as they came. And as I was following Cyra around, the beautiful settling of the golf course – and really, golf courses are very pretty and well maintained – struck me as being off.

It’s a natural environment modified by man to suit a purpose. Hence man-made nature. Oxymoron? Perhaps. But it fits the category. 

Here is the course with a water hazard and on the far side a bunker.

The retention ditch...I mean pond. Lake. Whatever. It's man made and that's what counts regardless of how many fish, birds or alligators live within it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Photo A Day - Where You Slept

When I am not feeling well or grouchy or lazy I'll sometimes forego my bed in favor of our futon couch for a little shut-eye. I like sleeping on the couch. It feels rebellious and irresponsible. It brings me back to a time when I liked, and was capable of, staying up all night with no ill effects. Of course, the lack of alarm clock leaves me relying on my internal clock or Scott to wake me up in the morning and that's never a good option on a school day since I have a tendency to ignore both.

Simone was mildly perturbed at my invasion or her territory.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Photo A Day - Drink

Well. Yeah.

I kind of blew today's shot. It was an odd day and topic. I've already posted a bunch of photos of drinks on here: hot cocoa, tea. Do you really need to see another drink? I think not, especially since I really don't drink anything else. I'll occasionally have an alcoholic drink but with the medicine I'm on I've been avoiding those. And I try to stay away from soda. And water tastes funny without a teabag in it.


Here are some beer steins that I saw at the Lightner Museum last month.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Photo A Day - Night

The night holds mysteries and intrigue. It is under the cover of darkness that spies and lovers meet, when our wildest dreams are played, like a movie, across our minds. I've been a night owl for as long as I can remember. My brother Karl, the amateur astronomer, would show me the stars through his telescope pointing out planets and constellations. One of my most vivid memories is standing outside with him near the edge of the lawn as he focused his telescope on Halley's comet. Seeing this amazing comet, knowing that I would probably never get to see it again was beyond awe-inspiring. The wonder and joy of the universe that Karl instilled in me when I was a pesky younger sister, is one that I hope I instill in my girls when I set up our telescope and show them the moons of Jupiter and a faint smudge that is a whole other galaxy.

My favorite part of night, just as the sun falls below the horizon casting the sky into red and orange. Also, blinding the oncoming traffic was kind-of fun!
Ashleigh took this photo as the moon swept behind the trees. I love how the leaves have little halos around them.
I snapped this on Halloween night while we were trick-or-treating.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Photo A Day - Can't (Won't) Live Without

Out of all the topics for this month's Photo a Day, this is the one I really didn't like. I'd like to think I've grown from when I was in my twenties, when back then stuff was important. Sure I've got a collection of crafting supplies, books and kitchenware that I love. But could I live without them? Absolutely. It's just stuff.

Piles of clutter, papers, clothes, knick knacks, even my jewelry are all things I place no importance on. Sure it's nice to have. I like having things that make my life easier and prettier. But I keep going back to the fact that stuff is stuff and really in the grand scheme of things we can go without stuff.

My friends, my family, my husband and most especially my children. These are the things I don't want to live without. I couldn't for one second imagine my life without my girls or Scott. I don't want to think about not meeting Sara or Amanda or Ericka. I  might not get along with all of my family all the time (very different beliefs going on there) but I wouldn't even consider not having them as my family. They who played such an integral role in making me who I am.

By no means do I want to demean stuff but sometimes...a lot of times...I think we, as a culture, put too much importance on stuff. Too much commercialism and wants. Not enough reflection on needs and what we do have.

If all my stuff dissapeared today, sure I'd be sad (shocked and appalled because clearly I didn't realize how much my craft supplies appealed to aliens) but as long as I have my people, I'd be fine. Better than fine.

This is an old photo of my girls in Maine. It is perhaps my favorite photo of them together. Ashleigh, although occasionally exasperated by her younger sister, is very protective of her and that feeling shows through here.

My very grungy husband working on my car the other day. Sure he's got his faults, but don't we all? He gives the girls and I 120% of his love and affection. He devotes himself to making sure we are safe and taken care of, often sacrificing his own wants to make sure ours are met.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Photo A Day - Small

This is far later than I like to post. I enjoy the first thing in the morning routine I have established but since today I had to leave the house hours before the sun came up to get to a job interview I did not have the time.

On the plus side, job interview.

So. Small. I struggled with this one. Really. It was hard to come up with a subject until I remembered that just the other day I took a photo of something sneaky small. Sneaky and creepy and I am oh so glad I did not find it in the house like that centipede I almost stepped on the other morning in the kitchen (centipedes are creepy in and of themselves with all those legs, but throw in pinchers and a scorpian-like stinger and ewww).

Hankette (because I'm sure it's a girl) was hanging out in front of the well house door. Her web stretched completely across and almost halfway down. Pretty impressive.

She's pretty, right? I'm not sure what kind of spider she is but I am very glad that she did not jump at me while I was taking the photos. She seemed rather irritated with the flash.

Bonus Small: About 50 gazillion frogs were hiding on and around the door. I cornered this one, Robert (make sure you say that with a French accent), and paparazzi-like took at least 15 photos. Surprisingly, this was the only decent one.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Photo A Day - Something You Do Everyday

When I was growing up we had hardwood floors throughout the house, upstairs and down. I can remember my mom going through once a day running a big dust mop over the floors but I never really thought about it until now.

The last three houses I've lived in were almost entirely carpeted. Even some of the bathrooms. So the only rooms I had to sweep were the kitchen, the entry way and the bathroom.

My current home however has no carpets whatsoever. None. Oh sure we tossed down a couple area rugs but tile and wood laminate floors stretch wall to wall here. Something that I fell in love with when we first looked at the house. No more carpets I thought gleefully. No more juice or pet stains just easy breezy sweep and mop and nice and clean.

Oh how naive I was back then.

Maybe it wouldn't matter as much if I lived anywhere else.  But no, here in Florida - the Sand is Everywhere State - you can't escape from the sand, especially if you live along the coast. So everyday, sometimes twice a day, I am sweeping. Sweeping. Sweeping.

Sand, cat hair, dog hair, my hair, dog and cat food (because holy moly are the pets messy eaters), dirt, and dust.

It never gets put away because I am always using it which makes the broom the most used tool I own.

This accumulation is from 8 o'clock last night to 8 o'clock this morning. And only from about half of the dining room.

Eww. Right? I want a new broom. This one is dirty.

It never. ever. ends.

I do not remember big piles of sand or dirt in the house growing up which means I am certain that the reason my mom made me take naps was not because I was tired, but because her endless battle against dirt and dust wore her out.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Photo A Day - Reflection

I am in pain.

A. Freaking. Lot. Of. Pain.

However, I don't expect sympathy because this is a pain of my own making. So for one quiet moment, let me reflect on why I am in pain - Oh wait, I think I already wrote about

Despite the fact that I have a very low tolerance for pain I have once again managed to wait years before doing anything about my teeth. Fear, my friends, is a strange and powerful force. The other day I posted how I missed the 5am photo shoot I was hoping for because I was up all night nursing a toothache. Scott's very strong words about getting my behind to a dentist were not really needed because I already knew it was time.

A phone call first thing in the morning yesterday landed me an appointment an hour later. And then another with an oral surgeon by lunch time (yes my teeth are really truly that bad). And an hour and a half later I had an appointment scheduled for surgery, a bottle of pain pills, antibiotics and an "I Voted" sticker (although how I managed to vote without passing out from the throbbing in my mouth is beyond me).

I finally got home, popped a pill and oh true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick! Thus with a yawn, I slept! Within a few minutes I was enjoying the first pain free sleep in three and a half days.

Today I am doing better. Not great. But not ready to rip someones head off because a lack of sleep and pain tends to make one grouchy. Who knew?

However, since I am not a hundred percent right now, I'm opting for a few older photos to toss up for today's theme of reflection. Do you mind? Of course you don't, because bloggers are awesome. And you my friends, rock!

Also, if you're interested - those of you who are new (oh! Hello!) - the photos I posted after TS Debby tore through earlier this summer have some very nice reflections in them.

This is part of a month long photo a day challenge hosted by fatmumslim.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Photo A Day - A Favorite Thing

When I was little my dad, every year, would take me to the Topsfield Fair. We'd walk around the 4-H buildings and look at chickens and rabbits. We'd stroll through the big tent filled with thousands of jars of jams, pickled things and honey. I can remember towering sunflowers flanking the entrance and makeshift hay tables covered with pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn.

I wouldn't go on the rides but we'd play the carnival games and I rarely ever won anything. But once, my eye caught sight of a stuffed raccoon hanging from the upper reaches of a roulette-ish style game. One would make fifty cent bets on colors, months, numbers, days of the weeks all sorts of things. Then someone in the crowd tossed a hexagon shaped die and whatever the die landed on was the winner.

And I wanted that raccoon. I begged my dad to let me play and he handed me fifty cents. I have no idea what I put my bet on but when that die bounced across the betting table, I knew, I just knew I was going to win. Every molecule in my body knew that me winning was the only possible outcome.

Image my devestation when I didn't win.

Tears welled up in my eyes and I'm sure that a temper tantrum was imminent. My dad quickly took out another fifty cents and said he'd give it a go, but if he didn't win then it was time to move on to the rubber frog launching game that he knew I wanted to play next. With a nod I agreed because of course my dad would win me my raccoon.

And you know what?

He totally did.

But I'm fairly sure he played about a hundred more times.

Sort of looks like he's doing the hula, doesn't it?

I tried to get him from his best side, but honestly, all his sides are the best!

Bandit has been with me since I was eight years old. He is from an era when carnival prizes were made out of quality material - no plastic pellets fill his tummy just soft and oh so squishable fiberfill. He stayed on my bed from elementary school right through college. He still sits next to my bed today. I don't snuggle him as much anymore but some days when I am sad or angry with the world I reach out for him and squeeze him tight. Which is why, really, he's a bit lopsided now and the soft velvet of his nose has worn away.

This is part of a month long photo a day challenge hosted by fatmumslim.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Photo A Day - 5 o'clock

It was left up to us to decide if today's prompt meant AM or PM. I choose to go with AM knowing that at 5pm tonight, I'll be at the dentist for the girl's check-up and I'm am uncomfortable posting photos of them and others (as I've mentioned before).

So 5 am it is then. Except this is more like almost 6 am. I was up most of the night with severe tooth pain and I finally dozed off right before I sort of missed the whole 5am part. I need major dental work. I mean major! And I keep putting it off, not because we don't have insurance, we do, but I am slightly* terrified of dentists and hugely embarrassed that I let my teeth get so bad.

So here is my sort-of close to 5am. I mean it's 5 am in the central part of the country, so that counts. Right?

Breakfast time = Pancake Monday!

Yay! My tea is nearly ready.

Earl Grey. Hot. And also with some sugar (sorry Capt. Picard, I like sweet tea!)

Back to pancaking. Mix. Mix. Mix. Sure it could go faster with an electric mixer, but I like hand beating. Good stress relief.

And the first cakes go on the griddle. The first ones always end up looking funny. I leave those for Scott to eat.

*make sure you understand that by "slightly" I mean so completely freaked out I often have nightmares about dentists and break out in a cold sweat when I bring the girls to their appointments - which by the way I am obsessive about because I'll be damned if I let happen to their teeth what I let happen to mine!

This is part of a month long photo a day challenge hosted by fatmumslim.