Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Wouldn't Want the Electric Bill

Hopefully, Las Vegas harnesses solar energy . . . hopefully. Dave was in Las Vegas for his annual convention, and I flew out to spend the weekend after with him. Even though I've been there before, it never ceases to amaze me from the glitz and the tackiness to the hopefulness that still reeks from every crack in the pavement. Time-share salespeople push beyond what any person would call politeness. The men and women clacking their stacks of "Live, Nude Girls" cards on every corner don't really care if you are a man or woman or with a man or woman as long as you take one of their cards. Super-cut and highly inked guys who probably spend more time in the gym in one day than I do in a year have girls who spend more time on their hair in one day than I do in a year on their arms. Panhandlers move from one spot of shade to the next. Homes off the strip clearly haven't had legal occupants in them in ages if you go by the "no shades in the windows must mean foreclosure" theory.

Double Parked
It was 101 in the sun, and for once, I didn't really mind.

The Veer
Glitz, glamor . . . and a CVS

Clearly . . . All You Need
Love, Peace, Hope, Passion, Desire . . . all words I can get behind
And again . . . that hopefulness still pushes through from the cracks in the pavement whenever someone drops a $10 in a penny machine and makes $120 in two punches of a button. Luckily, he bought me a gellato for dessert that evening.

I'm headed off to bed to try and recoup some missing sleep . . . there more photos on Flickr in the Las Vegas set.


Friday, September 24, 2010

"It's Friday & I'm in Love" A seat that doesn't take me from A to Z.

My favorite for this Friday is just a seat.  A seat that doesn't hurt my back.  A seat that doesn't recline or lurch forward with a firm tug.  A seat not covered in old french fry salt or dog hair.  My favorite seat doesn't welcome my butt in Ohio & says good-bye to my ass in Indiana.  My favorite seat is at home.

I've been driving a lot for work lately, so it's nice to have a stationary seat this Friday.  That seat isn't in front of the computer.  It's in front of a television with a tea, knitting & books within reach.  And I'm hoping that seat turns into a sweet little nap spot.

I'm also loving this app.  Maybe next Friday, I'll visit a store for an upgrade. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gratitude for Weeks 36 & 37

After camping, I dropped the ball on my weekly gratitude photos.  Honestly, we dropped the ball on a lot of things after camping.  The tent & sleeping bags are still airing out in the garage.  But we don't live in our garage, so it doesn't seem that bad to me.  But I don't like tossing out my "52 Weeks of Gratitude" & I'm going to scribble out my thankfulness for 36 & 37 here.

When I was in middle school, my best friend & I purchased 14,000 Things to Be Happy About for each others' birthdays.  We'd flip through each tiny page & either nod our heads, "Yes" to the obvious or let a new wave of happiness float over us.  I will never forget two Things I read from that book: the way you hold your head to eat a taco & the way your butt shakes when you sharpen a pencil.  The first one still cracks me up.  It's sort of like having to yawn just because you read "yawn" or yawning only because someone else does.   It just happens.  Your head just tilts & there's nothing you can do about it.  Even if you try to fight the tilt, your head will win.  Try it.  Your belly will be happy too.  The second Thing got me through a number of boring lectures during college.  I'd   watch someone stomp down the stairs with pencil in hand & I knew I was about to get a show.  The butt bounces up & down & side to side.  It's a magical little dance that few people appreciate.  I didn't make it through all 14,000 things.  I was in middle school, people!  But while I was editing the apple orchard pictures I noticed a quirk that might have made the list: the way your mouth puckers & forms while it's chewing on an apple.  It's almost like your mouth doesn't want to spare a single drop of the apple's juice.  It's holding on so tightly to all of that fruit's goodness.  Run the video & notice that shape.  Oranges don't do that.  Grapes can't produce that pucker.  Just apples.  Gratitude 36: Apple Chomping Faces.

Gratitude 37 is quite simply Fall.  It's here & there's no questioning it.  My tastes have switched from being quenched by ice tea to craving hot tea.  When you walk outside, the air welcomes you with a crisp hug.  And with that hug, you can almost hear your mother's voice chirp, "You'll need a coat tomorrow."  Summer's beat of the flop from your sandal is remastered to a crunch from your boot smashing the leaves.  Apples are begging to be sauced, dried, pie'd, cobbled, chomped.  The distant sounds of splashing have been replaced with the echoing cheers from a tackle.  I start to take inventory of our wools.  Who needs a new hat & where's this glove's partner?  My razor is tossed & my legs relax in the tub.  And I let out a long sigh.  Who loves to shave their legs?  Hello, Fall.  I've missed you.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Damn Swedes

If you are Swedish, let me apologize as I truly love your fish. But IKEA must be "torture" in Swedish. Honestly, if you really want to break a suspect Jack Bauer style, just hand them an IKEA bed frame and slats and tell them that they have one hour to accomplish the task or confess. I guarantee . . . they will break every single time.

Let me explain (without photos . . . I refer you to the title of this post). The Girls are living in an apartment with a year round lease in Philadelphia. And I decided to turn one room into a guest room and the other into a "den" of sorts. So, a friend gladly claimed the beds - from IKEA, no less - and we were left with semi-empty rooms. Dave felt kind of guilty as his room is basically untouched from the days when he was living with his parents. Mine? Hell, I think Erika moved into that room the day I moved into the dorms at Miami. So, no . . . I didn't feel guilty.

But today, I feel sore. Like someone kicked me a thousand times and then asked me to turn around and kicked me another thousand for good nature. My back is on a tiny little hinge that needs oil in the worst way. I visited IKEA not once, but twice searching for a bed that was "just right" and loaded all sorts of prefab Swedish torture devices in the Pilot. One man was kind enough to help me load the headboard into the back, but he was the exception as most people shot me dirty looks for not being able to control my shopping car with full swivel wheels and the hand truck that was toting the heavy stuff. In hindsight,  perhaps I should have noted that the happy builder man in IKEA's helpful picture directions had a buddy in the picture without the big X over it, but the sad builder man didn't have a friend to go with that big X.

That being said . . . we'll have one sweet guest room and a whatever-the-hell-it-chooses-to-be room when I get done with the one thing IKEA apparently got right: the Allen wrench.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Photo Picking Time.

Becks was a little over one the last time I took the boys anywhere for photos.  I dreaded those trips.   The only bearable part was the end because it was next to a bar.  I could sit & drink away the pain while the photos printed.  I start the trip off with clean clothes: new clothes that were purchased just for the session.  Of course, I'd never try the stuff on prior to jumping in the car.  The night before I'd panic about the size & fit of the clothes.  After it was buttoned up & looked respectable, I panicked about it staying clean.  When everything stayed clean, I panicked about the wait.  A place that centers on children should never have a wait.  Ever.  It isn't acceptable to make a toddler or a "big kid" wait thirty minutes.  And then after I begged the photographer to not put up any silly backgrounds (I don't care that it's close to Easter.  I don't want a field of daffodils by my boys.) & begged them not to sit the kids on anything fluffy & white (I don't care that it's close to Easter.  I don't want my boys to sit on a Bunny's ass.), I start begging my kid to smile.
Please look happy.  
Please smile.  Cheese! 
One more, please!  
Smile & I'll get you a toy. 
Towards the end, we always got something usable.

But it was a pox on my house every time I saw that date on my calendar.  While I was picking out Becks' last photos, he had to be nursed.  Had to be!  And because the Photo-Guy made me wait thirty minutes, I took delight in making him uncomfortable.  A sweet nursing newborn is one thing.  A large 13-month-old that doesn't like to be covered up nursing is another thing.  So I whipped one out & nursed him while we flipped through bad photo after bad photo.  Becks then gave me a sign that we would never be back.  This sign pretty much sealed the deal on the photo place's fate.  Becks bite me so hard that I got dizzy.  Ever been chomped on while nursing & for a spilt second you think about slapping someone?  He gave me that kind of bite & we haven't been back.  I do have some guilt about not going somewhere or to someone for photos.  There is something iconic about a photo of your kid in front of a fake daffodils field or sprawled out on something white & fluffy.  This bite happened prior to my obsession with photography.  It happened right at the beginning of the tumble.  I can honestly say that even my shittiest photos turn out better than what this place did with my boys.  My boys don't like to sit & smile.  I created those monsters & that's fine with me.  I shouldn't hold this place responsible for my creation.  They do a good job just not with my kids or my sanity.  And I figure that I take enough photos for us to remember our lives.  I figure this until the moment a good photo is necessary.  And then the guilt rears again.

The last time we were home, I noticed that most of the boys' photos were from a couple years ago during "The Studio Phase."  I knew it was time to update.   I asked my MIL "Do you remember any of the boys' photos that you'd like printed?"  And she replied, "You pick."  Ok, that can't be hard.  I was dead wrong.  I got to our computer & hit a wall.  And that wall was made by my own two hands & two eyeballs.  I like my style of photography, but not everyone appreciates it.  Or is it good for framing photos for family members.

Coop wanted him to follow & he was going to follow like a robot.
 You want a photo of the back of a head?  I got a thousand.  You want a photo of their feet right before they jump off the couch.  Got one too.  You want a photo of someone pitching a tantrum?  Oh yeah, let me pull it.  But one of them straight on?  Sorry.  One of them together & straight on?  You're insane.  I beg you to find one.  I think this is the main reason I'd struggle if I wanted to move into the photography business.  The client would look through the photos & ask, "Great.  But do you have any of their smile?  How about a face shot?"  And I'd have to convince them that their chubby little fingers are so much sweeter.  I'm not that great of a sales men.  With the holidays breathing down our necks, I need to focus on some traditional shots.  We need something for the Christmas card.  Just one.  That's all it takes.


Friday, September 17, 2010

"It's Friday & I'm in Love" Bou'isms

I don't usually visit Caribou.  Their coffee taste different.  Don't try to tell me otherwise.  I can tell.  Don't even get me started on their pitiful version of a Pumpkin Spice!  Today, I took a couple minutes after the library to sit & read.  Caribou was on the way home.  I know that they've had this new design for months.  When we do visit, it's for something cold & there are no words on the plastic cups.  During those visits, I never have time to read their windows which are also loaded with phrases. I'm usually begging a kid to keep the lid on their milk.  Why is it they feel the need to look inside their milk?  But today was definitely a hot drink type of day.  The rain had just stopped & kept threatening to crash my solo date.  But I fought hard & sat outside.  Inside sounded like a shooting range.  Why do people type so hard?  I got it.  You have a laptop.  You don't need an office.  Got it.  There must be a Facebook group for that annoyance.  Anyway...  It was the perfect time for me to get lost with their cups.  Gimmick?  I don't care.  I like a good one.  And I discovered that they've quote one of our favorite movies.

"While I really do prefer emeralds we could have made it on green glass."
"Thoroughly Modern Millie"

Today, sweet graffiti on cups is a favorite.  Here's another side of my cup.  Take something from it.  That's the point.

I'm also a sucker for bookcovers.  I judge.  But don't we all?  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Is it true love or just fall making me itchy?

Have you seen Twist Collective Fall 2010?

Two patterns are making me seriously consider a trip to the yarn store or at least to my basement.  But after not finishing a project in about a year, is this true love or infatuation?  Do I dare venture down the path of broken dreams called UFO Avenue?

I'll just look through my apple picking pictures again.  That's distracting.

Maybe not. A cozy cabled hoodie would look perfect in an orchard. Shit.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not Sure What's Going On

When summer ended, I was really, really happy because this summer kind of sucked for me. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but it wasn't up there in my all time favorites. It never really seemed like it was a summer for me; granted, school was out, it was hotter than Hell, and I bought new flip-flops, but it never really jelled for me.

Trying To Figure It Out
Contemplating Everything

I spent a good percentage of my time this summer crying, and I have no clue what is causing it. For some reason, I think I might have blogged a bit about it, but even that escapes me at this time. One Friday when I was cleaning, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and burst into tears. Not just a little tear in the corner of my eye but huge, gulping, snot-streaming-out-of-my-nose tears. I was cleaning the damn house one minute and fifteen minutes later, I'm sobbing on the couch trying to fold clothes. I tried to explain it to Dave, after a poignant story came on the news that he missed. Trying to explain the story to him resulted in me crying and telling him that I didn't know what was wrong.

Not Quite Ready To Bam
Not BAMming Yet

Part of me was wrapped up in the whole "I'm Not Good Enough" routine that I go through every once and a while. I work myself into a frenzy thinking that I'm not a good enough: mom, wife, daughter, sister, teacher, knitter, photographer . . . slap an "-er" on there, and I'll think I'm not good enough. I certainly spent more time analyzing my mothering skills this summer than I should have, and I came up with more question marks than anything.

Orange With A Splash of Purple
Lounging Around (and trying to keep my boobs in my shirt)

The other part of me is wrapped up in being 40. Sometimes I'll try to take stock of my life and see what I've done, and I'm not sure what that is because "I'm Not Good Enough" . . . it's a vicious, vicious cycle. I thought that by this age, I'd have it all figured out. But some days, I feel as unsure of myself as I did when I was 23 and dirt poor. Everyone wants to make an impact on at least one person's life, and I'm starting to feel like I won't.

Usually I can get this out of my system after a few weeks, but this funk has stuck around longer than the other funkers have. I never, ever call it depression because I don't necessarily think that's what it is; maybe it is, and I just don't want to admit it. So for now, I'll try to figure it out day by day. Some days are better than others, but then I see a photo of insert any of a various list of nouns and the tears well up. Crap.

- Jill

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Friday & I'm In Love "Music"

You can always tell when school starts up again because I go "blog silent" . . . things happen and the blog suffers. I took a bunch of photos last week, but it was either process them or grade some essays. Guess which one I picked? Happily, the essays are all graded, and I'm caught up. So that brings me to this week's "lovely" topic, and it's an easy one: music. Honestly, I'm shocked that neither one of us has tackled it up to this point because music is so integral to our lives.

Let's face it, we all have a connection to certain songs, certain songs that will rock you to your very core. You remember where you were when you heard one song. Another brings you to tears each and every time. Some will transport you back in time 30 years when you could, in fact, rock that ponytail. There's music to chill by, music to cook by, music to grade by . . . hell, there are a fair amount that you can fuck by, but who's counting (me . . . seven, but that's another Friday). Over the years, I would like to think that I've refined my taste into some respectable categories, but I would be lying. Case in point, I'm listening to Ke$ha's "Take It Off" right now because it's catchy. Do I honestly think it has artistic merit? Hell, no. But the chick knows who to spin a tune . . . or at least her producers do.

He Has a Method

Instead of listing all the music that I like - and believe me, there is a ton of it - I'll focus on just ten songs that I don't think my life would be the same without. Yes, I could live without them, but I would be a bigger bitch than I already am (but I did try to find some nice videos for you so I can't be that big of a bitch).
  1. "Breathe Me" by Sia - There is something about her voice, the way that she starts by asking for help. I've been known to watch a really crappy trailer for a movie if they use this song or not turn away from a super-depressing commercial about cancer research just to hear it. 
  2. "California Waiting" by Kings of Leon - I'm pretty sure that if you've read a few posts, you might know that I love the Kings. I've officially seen them more in concert than any other band, including U2. It is happy, peppy, and, as an added bonus, you can kinda, sorta understand all the words (but I don't like this version that much).
  3. "Show Me What I'm Looking For" by Carolina Liar - I love the end of this song, where the chorus breaks the normal pattern and the symphony kicks in and the bells chime. Not quite chill-bump inducing, but nonetheless, it's pretty brilliant. 
  4. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce - From the introductory plonk of the piano, I can tell you exactly how my dad would dance with me as a four-year old. Nothing makes me feel like a kid again . . . nothing. But then again, I wanted to be Dorris for the longest time.
  5. "The Reflex" by Duran Duran - While we're on this trip down memory lane, let's visit the 80's. There's a special place in my heart for Duran Duran. I loved Simon LeBon and probably would have thrown my bra at him had I been to a concert in their heyday. My first time seeing the Double D's? Three years ago . . . where a co-worker and I nearly got popped for open container in New York City. 
  6. 45s
  7. "In the Sun" by Joseph Arthur - If you haven't heard this song, go have a listen . . . I'll wait. It was featured in Saved, which is an amazing movie, and pretty much makes the movie extra special. It's not a song that will always make me cry, but it pushes me over the edge. 
  8. "Babylon" by David Gray - The first time I heard this song? Heading to Ohio on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, just about to crest the hill where they post the sign that you've left the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Dave bought me the CD on one of his trips to Canada because it came out three weeks earlier than in the States. 
  9. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" by Julie Andrews - Yes, it's a show tune. Yes, I love it. No, I never got to see it on Broadway. I just love this song . . . and I have no explanation for it. 
  10. "Life On Mars" by any artist - Prime example of the song being the focal point. I like it by David Bowie, Arcade Fire, Seal . . . hell, I even like it by Popshop and Seu Jorge. And the fact that it was the title of one of my favorite British serials doesn't hurt either. 
  11. "Bad" by U2 - Honestly, I could have chosen several dozen, but that would have skewed the list a bit. "Bad" makes feel like I am 15 again, sunbathing on my grandparents' farm, wondering my a certain basketball player had yet to call me. Back then, I was probably moping while trying to look the part of a sunbather; now, I would say, "F**k You!" which is the name of the song by Cee Lo Green that is running on iTunes . . . his asterisks, not mine).

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!
- Jill, who just bought a Justin Bieber song . . . but don't tell Mom

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The tents are put away.

Back to our regular life.  "Regular" isn't really true.  Our life feels pretty irregular.  We're still having big issues getting to Kindergarten.  For the past two days, we're reverting to First Day Blues.  I'm literally out of ideas.  We've tried everything & nothing is working.  So our new regular life will have to wait awhile.  Until our mornings get a little easier, I'll flip through these pictures.

And if you want to witness more fun, click here.


Friday, September 3, 2010

"It's Friday & I'm in Love" Labor Day Camping

I'll be very simple with my Favorite today.  I love Labor Day camping.  Done.  That's it folks.  I love it.  It's my favorite time of the year.  It's three days of camping, beer, friends, conversation, & no kids.  That's right, you heard it.  No kids.

Here's a little photo love from last year's adventure.  2010 you'll be a good one.  I can feel it.

{Bags Deep & Susan's Pound Hole=Why Kids Aren't Invited}

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One of my Favorite Statements

I love when someone says, "There are two types of people in this world."  How could you not love this delicious nugget?  I mean really!  The person in front of you has just boiled down all mankind into two categories.  No gray areas.  Only two types & that's it.  There are the types the love Edward or Jacob.  The types that do that thing in the bedroom & the types that don't.  The types that laugh when someone falls & the types that pretend not to notice.  The types that hope for the David Lee shows & the types that beg for the Sammy shows.  Here's my statement.

There's only two types of people in this world: Poppers & Non-poppers.

You know who you are.  You read it & went, "Well, I'm a _____."  There's no half poppers or barely non-poppers.  It isn't possible.  But if you're delusional, let me help you figure out which camp you're in.  Non-poppers are responsible people.  They know the dangers of infection & scarring.  They're patient people.  One day, a whitehead will form on their neck.  On the following day that whitehead will resemble a second head.  They won't touch it.  They won't even try to carry on a conversation with it.  They'll just ignore it.  Until one day when they're removing their shirt, it explodes all over the place.  That's how Non-Poppers take care of popping things.  They also get the best zits.  Go figure.

 Poppers are different.  "Scarring" & "Infection" are words that don't exist in their vocabulary.  They will try to pop the unpoppable: a butt zit (everyone knows those don't pop) or a mosquito bite just because of its raised formation.  It's fair game & a disappointment they've experienced a hundred times.  Poppers have to be warned when they have newborns.  "Those little white bumps can't be popped" is repeated often during those first months.  Poppers have stories about their conquests.  "Remember that one on Dad's back that came out six inches long & smelled like shit?"  "Remember that one that was in a weird place?  You popped it in the shower & it brought you to your knees."  Remember that one that had to be dug out?"  Poppers have to sit on their hands when they're behind a Non-Popper in church.  Poppers know that a bobby-pin or a key can be useful tools in the art of popping & the tool they sell in Sephora is a rip-off.  Poppers are a determined bunch of folks that pray to have a huge zit.

So which are you?


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wait . . . You Want Me To Copy That Down?

School started for me yesterday.

I teach periods 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 with a 30-minute "lunch" at period 4. By the time I make it to 8th period, I am beat beyond belief (alliteration, kids . . . note the repetition of the initial consonants). I sincerely want to take off my shoes  at 8th when I eat a proper lunch, but I know damn well that I wouldn't get them back on again to leave the building, and walking across the parking lot barefooted would benefit no one. Today, we had a student punch another in the stomach. He wound up being internally suspended. When I went in to check on him, he was sitting with his shirt up and his navel exposed. "Boy, is it hot," he sighed. Not that I didn't admire his creativity in solving his heat issues or the fact that he was completely correct in his detective work that is was hot, but seriously, I don't want to see his belly button. I've had eyes rolled at me so violently that I feared they might slide out of the child's head. They openly question why I have give a writing assignment so soon in the school year. But some students belly laugh during a goofy video I used to demonstrate the power of a goal to the point that I questioned if I had the right clip cued up. I'm learning more about the autistic spectrum than I ever thought I would need, and yet I don't feel as if I know a damn thing about it. Already, I've had three students cry for reasons I have yet to determine, and five students from the previous year hug me and ask to be taken back. I look at the quiet student sitting by herself and wonder how long it is going to take for her to say, "Hello," to me or any other breathing human. The boy next to her? I ask God how long it will take for him to sit in silence during a lesson and get it.

Just Smells Fresh
Clearly, I took this before I started back to school

This was day two . . . and I still love my job.

- Jill, who will attempt to pick up a camera soonish to take a photograph or two