Monthly Archives: July 2012

Surfing Safari Or Sausage In The Waves

There’s nothing like the feeling of coming back from a week away to an insurmountable ‘to do’ list. But because I consider blogging right up there with writing lesson plans, organizing my new kitchen and painting trim, you get the privilege of reading about my totally gnarly surfing experience. Yeah, we did other vacation-y things, made memories, blah, blah, blah. But really none of it, besides a couple of HUGE mullets I spotted on the boardwalk, are really as notable as me packed in a wet suit looking like a lumpy Vienna sausage, flopping and groaning across a surf board. Oh, in front of hot young shirtless gentlemen too.

I was sort of like this,

in front of hot young gentlemen, and numerous other strangers all much younger than me.

My oldest daughter Addie agreed to join me. We arrived bright and early in front of the 7th Street Surf Shop on the Boardwalk of Ocean City. After signing in, we were handed wet suits and told to pull them up to our waists. Now, the only swimsuit I have is skirted on the bottom. So, it didn’t matter how much I was sucking in, my skirt bunched up all around my butt and middle under the unforgiving cling of the wet suit. Meanwhile next to me, Barbara Bikini and her friends were sliding into their wetsuits with no effort while I was grunting, sweating,  stuffing and cursing like a smuggler getting ready to take drugs through an airport.

Then I was handed my “light practice board”, told to place it on my head all ‘Endless Summer’ style and walk across the boardwalk and down to the surf. I mistakenly assumed that because I carry children around all day, that carrying my “light practice board” would be no problem. This was when all my Hawaiian princess fantasy dreams started to crumble. I reached the sand out of breath and the water’s edge sweating and in pain. After handling a practice board, I’m convinced competitive surfers must hang ten on concrete.

We lined up our boards in two rows and prepared for instructions, which lasted about 15 minutes before we were sent into the waves. Having not yet recovered from carrying my “light practice board” I was dismayed to see the lifeguards were not yet on duty.

Once in the water, I was met by one of the hot young gentlemen who chatted with me and gave me pointers while I tried not to mouth breathe too much into his face. Then I hopped up on the board,  took several waves to the face,  swallowed and spat salt water and maintained a friendly conversation for a few minutes, snot hanging from my nose. Then the instructor spun me to face the shore and gave me a push once the next good wave appeared. Ideally, I was to jump up in one swift move and ride the wave to the shore. And on my first two attempts, I did actually make it to my feet on the board and ride a few feet before falling in. (Honest! ) Then I walked into shore and Addie went out to the instructor.  I laid on my board in the sand panting like a dog, trying to give her a thumbs up as she effortlessly rode a wave in.

Definitely not a sport for wusses…like me.

And then to my horror it was my turn again, and again and again. Each time I headed out, I joked about being too old and out of shape for this but the instructors encouraged me all the same and sent me in on a wave. However, my arms were weak and that one swift move began resembling  a drunk person trying to get up while holding onto a bar stool. I just fell right back down in no time, more clumsily with each attempt. I was lucky to get to my knees on the board before all my strength gave out. I think I was the example all the other moms on the beach were using with their own kids. “See honey, you don’t want me to try surfing with you. I’d just flail around out there like that poor woman. I wouldn’t want to humiliate you like that. Oh my goodness, she just doesn’t know when to quit does she? It’s better if I just stand here and take pictures.Try not to go out too close to her. I don’t want that train wreck in any of my vacation photos.”

Meanwhile Addie was a born natural, jumping up with ease and catching wave after wave.

It’s really easy Mama, let me show you.

Tony showed up to take some pictures all “Okay, I’m here now. Go surf.” and then he started snapping away. I really tried to summon all my strength for one last good showing,

Must..pop…up…ugh

but alas, this was the closest I came before sinking into the salty mire.

Jelly arms giving out…can’t hold on..much…longer

After an hour and a half of getting spanked by the ocean, I could now cross “embarrassing myself at surf lessons” off my bucket list. Thankfully, Addie was not ashamed to be seen with me afterwards. With only half a dozen rest stops on the way, we returned the equipment to the store.

Addie preparing to carry me and our surfboards back to the store.

The next day, and the day after and, honestly, most of the remaining trip I was sore through my entire upper body. I also acquired two ‘trophy’ bruises on my lower ribcage from how I laid on the board. (Which I guess means I did something wrong since I didn’t see bruises on any of the shirtless gentlemens’ chests.) However, I would like to try it again sometime and if I was ever fortunate enough to live at the beach I would make surfing my exercise routine…after investing in a non-skirted swimsuit.

Next year’s plan? Trapeze school in Atlantic City, so long as I don’t have to wear spandex.

 

 

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{SQT} First World Problems

This week I’ve been dealing with the greatest of all first world problems; no internet. Okay, I’m still technically able to get online through my neighbor’s unsecured wireless network but only the desktop can pick up the signal, and not reliably. That’s meant no photo uploads or downloads and no video streaming. And normally we’re not a huge online video family, but of course, this was the week I planned to show some Bill Nye clips for science.

I actually had to write this post offline and if you’re reading it, I guess that means I was able to upload it when my neighbor wasn’t eating up all his bandwidth. Next week, we’ll be vacationing at the beach and relying on the signal from the hotel next to my grandmother’s condo for internet access. It’s reminiscent of 2001; I click on a page, and go make a sandwich while I wait for it to load.

I debated whether to write about all the topics without pictures, or just go all crazy the week I return from the beach (because I won’t have tons of unpacking or laundry to do.) So because I didn’t really debate it that long, here are seven things that have been going on that I’m going to write about (with pictures!) once this damn unfortunate internet issue gets straightened out.

 

#1 And by straightened out I mean, my husband used it as an excuse to buy the fanciest new modem, router and surge protector money can buy. Plus I saw he threw some special wire in the Amazon basket so I think it’s safe to say that once the new supplies arrive, our house will look like a scene out of Tron.

 

#2  We went to a monster truck show last Saturday as a belated birthday present to Fulton. Last year’s trip for his third was the first time any of us had set foot at such an event and we all became instant fans.  I got a couple of good shots but to appreciate the awe of oversized pickups, you really need to attend at least one Monster Truck show. Deep down, don’t we all have a carnal desire to watch things get completely smashed and destroyed? It’s like the Colosseum except instead of lions, it’s trucks and instead of Christians it’s cars.

 

#3 Our kitchen is inching closer to completion. Tomorrow the electrician will come and, fingers crossed, hook up everything (and not find any fire hazards.) Being the type who loves to organize, I’m totally pumped about the opportunity to spend most of August organizing the new kitchen, which includes a small school room. Then I get to design and organize the new mudroom which will rise from the ruins of the old kitchen! The fact that I can’t get on Pintrest and save ideas is maddening.

 

#4 Tony’s family left town last weekend and already the kids are clamoring to make the 17 hour + car ride to Wisconsin. For smaller families in sports cars with super bladders, the trip can be made in about 14 hours. I’m amazed at how quickly our kids can forget all the time in the car because during the drive it seems like an eternity to us all. However, until then we made some great memories and got a lot of great family photos, including the first of all of us since Teddy’s birth I think. Somehow, in all of them except the ones where I’m purposely opening my eyes wide, I look ready to fall over and go to sleep. I really think smiling accentuates the bags under my eyes so from now on, I’m going with a more serious face and see how I look. Should make for interesting beach photos.

 

#5 Our bedroom is the hottest room in the house, but somehow our bed is still the go to place for scared children. Tony and I can’t even touch each other without perspiring and yet Addie wants to cuddle with her blanket next to us after watching a “freaky” episode of the Twilight Zone.

 

#6 One of our chickens made a nest under the ramp leading up to our deck and was trying to hatch 20 eggs. Twenty!!! However we don’t have any roosters (mature roosters anyway) so they’re all duds. Or twenty stink bombs waiting to happen. We had to pry up boards on the deck to retrieve the eggs and try to get her out.

 

#7 While at the beach I’m going to try surfing lessons. Addie has agreed to come along too, and not just to laugh. Stay tuned for the photo hilarity that is sure to come from my lack of common sense.

 

If your internet is still up and running, you’d better go catch it! And be sure to check out the rest of the Seven Quick Take posts over at Conversion Diary.

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Because I Mocked Mother Nature…

Just a public service announcement. Blogging will be light as a recent storm blew out our wireless network and cable modem. Thankfully, we have a neighbor with an unsecured wireless network, but reception is inconsistent. Hopefully we get the problem corrected soon as I can’t wait to write about and post pictures of our recent trip to a MONSTER TRUCK SHOW which is one of the most awesome family outings EVER. And I plan on convincing every one of that fact.

Thank you for your patience.

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{SQT} Hit the Beach and Avoid Sandwiches

 

 

As you may have noticed if you’ve spent any time poking around my blog lately, I enjoy hauling my family to the beach. Despite all the sand, sun and sweat, I tend to have as much fun as the kids. My love affair with the beach goes back early in my childhood. I don’t think a summer has passed that I didn’t get in at least one day at the beach. I even converted my husband, who was not a beach goer growing up and whose fair skin made him shy away from prolonged outdoor exposure. (Now he’s matured into a beast of a man who jumps in the surf looking for a great white to wrestle. I’ll save that photo for a future post.)

So today, my Seven Quick Takes are 7 helpful tips I’ve learned to help make your day at the beach more fun and less “I have a ton of sand stuck in the crotch of my swimsuit!”

#1 Plan! Here’s a list to get your started.  I know, I know; a last-minute jaunt to the beach on a gorgeous day sounds so fun. Just toss everyone in the car on a whim and go. But without minimal planning you will wind up spending a ton of money on convenience food for children who will decide they don’t want it. Run out of milk or formula for a fussy baby. (Or try nursing with sand all over your boobs. Aaaa! Flashback; block it out, block it out!) Kites will break, shoes will get carried off in the tide and a sea-gull will poop on your head all because you didn’t plan. Just look over the list; keep it handy in the car or on your fridge. Don’t ruin a beach trip by lack of planning.

#2 Teach your kids to apply their own sunscreen BUT SUPERVISE THEM!!! Even Byron had to admit he looked like a clown after smearing sunscreen down each cheek and nowhere else on his face. I’m a huge proponent for making kids more independent but learning a new skill will take time. After a few visits, your kids will be pros and may even offer to slather up the baby if you’re lucky. Spray sunscreen can be helpful, but may go on too thin. I recommend sticks for their faces, which they rub in, and lotion for the rest of them. Sticks are great because nothing will drip in their eyes and cause pain with screams and wails leading to rubbing at their eyes with their sandy hands topped off by a frantic attempt at trying to wash everything off in salt water by which point I’m ready to just jump off the fishing pier.

#3 Save a lot of time on #2 by investing in rash guard shirts. Spend money on cool ones your kids will want to wear. Don’t buy your son a Justin Beiber rash guard on sale from the girls department at Wal-Mart and expect him to wear it. Make them happy because you will also save a TON of money on sunscreen. I love rash guards. If they made them for my kids heads I’d buy them so when they don’t apply the stick sunscreen properly, they don’t look ridiculous. I’ve seriously considered buying a swim burqa just to save on sunscreen. Okay not seriously but maybe after that one  bad beach trip when someone got sunscreen in their eyes.

#4 Pack extra towels. I know they can be bulky, but really, if you only take one per child I guarantee that upon arrival  at least three will be unrolled, dropped on the sand and then ran over by kids eyeballing the surf. Then they come back wet, sit on the towels and are all “Hey, I’m cold, give me a towel.” “You’re sitting on it.” “But now it’s all sandy! I can’t use that!!”

And if you’re lucky enough to have a baby that will sleep on the beach, you’ll need a clean towel for that, as well as a bunch of other random stuff that will inevitable come up once all five of your towels resemble crusty driftwood. Take extra towels and keep them hidden.

#5 Invest in a good umbrella or pop-up beach tent/ shelter. A weak one will blow away every time. Do you really want to be that poor gal chasing her beach umbrella that always blows three steps ahead of her two? And then yelling at your husband on how he should erect the umbrella this time before it blows into the ocean? No, just spend the money on the good umbrella. I t will allow you a place to lay a baby, and give everyone a break from the sun which means you can usually convince your family to stay longer!

#5 1/2 Towels, sunscreen, umbrellas – don’t  hesitate to make your kids haul them! Wagons and special carts are nice but who has room in their van for that? Beach toys for the sand or surf aren’t necessary and will wind up used for 1/4 of their time anyway. The rest of the time you’ll be stepping on half hidden toys and chasing after kick boards washing out with the tide. Pack only the essentials and put your kids to work hauling them.

#6 Wear the bathing suit that covers more. I’m not talking sunscreen here, though that’s another reason. You’ll never regret wearing the suit that provides more coverage. By comparison, you could very well regret wearing the string bikini top your toddler keeps untying, the over stretched two piece that keeps sliding down in the surf or the low-cut one piece that your milk heavy boobs keep spilling out of, much to the delight of the scary, hairy old man who camped uncomfortably close to your family. You’ll have a much easier time chasing kids, relaxing and riding in the surf if you’re not pulling spandex out of some sandy crevice every other minute. You’re not at the beach to pose, you’re there to have fun so dress for it! I don’t go into a bounce house in heels and I don’t go to the beach dressed for a nightclub.

#7 Last but not least-BABY POWDER! Did you know, if you sprinkle baby powder on a sandy part, the sand magically brushes off with the powder??!!! No access to a shower, no problem! Except for the sand caught in the neither regions of your suit, you can powder yourself off! Even if a wash off is available, I find baby powder to be the easiest way to clean off little ones who won’t go near a spray of water without sounding like they’re being abducted by a stranger.

So there you have it, seven tips, coupled with a planning list that help make our beach trips a little more seamless. If you hate the beach, and even if you don’t, be sure to check out the rest of the Seven Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

 

 

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{p,h,f,r} Entertaining

This week we are entertaining my husband’s brother and family from Wisconsin. The cousins quickly create adventures to fill the days, picking up where they left off a year ago.  Of course a shore trip was inevitable, multiple games of Stratigo plus one long ongoing game of Risk, lots of talking smack amongst the men folk and many nights of going to bed late and dropping quickly into an exhausted summer sleep. Tonight we’ll hopefully get a bonfire in (I know, total shock) and tomorrow my husband’s oldest brother will drive up from Virginia to join the fun. It will the first time all of us have been together since Tony’s grandmother died last year, and the first we’re hosting everyone. Despite the sunburn, periodic childhood spats and glut of ice cream, it is everything a family reunion should be. Maybe someday we’ll all be geographically closer, but until then, we’re making the most of the time we have.

{pretty}

Edie, who was shortchanged by a low camera battery last week.

{happy}

Fulton, who agreed to acknowledge his love of the beach.

{funny}

Tony and Teddy taking a couple of moments to work in the kitchen.

{real}

It’s not just a lemonade stand, it’s a travelling bazaar! My father-in-law constructed a lemonade stand on a wagon for the kids to pull around in the neighboring development. They took it one step further by making jewelry, homemade crayons and shinky dinks to sell, plus then added a box of free goodies to entice buyers. The dads chaperoned, but hung really far back so as to not be associated with the screaming children. Oh, and Byron took his electronics kit and hooked it up to play an annoying song over and over, like an ice cream truck, to help garner attention.

They made a dollar.

{BONUS!}

And because the gorgeous sunsets just keep coming I leave you with this. But look I added a spiritual quote to keep it fresh!

 

And it that doesn’t inspire you, be sure to head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {pretty, happy, funny, real} photos.

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The Force Of Homeschooling And My Dark Side

When I started homeschooling I knew “Seton” families and “Calvert” families and unschooling families. I assumed that once you found a curriculum, or method, you liked, your course was set for your duration as a homeschooling family.

I watched as my oldest blossomed at an early age under the Catholic Heritage Curricula reading program, and then the Abeka Math program. My goal was to start my son, with a late October birthday, one year behind my oldest daughter, with a late September birthday. I’ll admit, my underlying motivation was to see Byron receive his First Holy Communion the year after Addie. I just couldn’t see making him wait two years, when *I* was sure he would be ready.

Perhaps Addie just set the bar to high, or maybe I expected too much of Byron but after keeping pace for a year or so he started struggling. By this point he was enrolled in CCD one year behind Addie, but his reading skills were not as strong as hers. The CHC reading program that worked so well with Addie was torture for Byron. Addie cruised through her second grade CCD year, and seemed to memorize each answer the moment she completed reading it from the catechism. So long as I  sat and reviewed her work with her, she learned and retained information easily. Once her First Holy Communion was under her belt, I turned my attention to Byron, hoping the same practice and drill would elicit the same well versed responses.

We began Byron’s second grade year still trying to work with CHC and throwing in any supplementary material I thought could help. While he was making steady progress in all his subjects, he was not “where I thought he should be.” And unfortunately, not where some other people thought he should be either. Thankfully, Byron was spared any labels, and the comments that were uttered did not leave any lasting impression. “How’s Byron’s reading? What are you doing for him? You need to make him read more.” I was more stung and hurt than him. After bragging about my “prodigy” daughter, I found myself sticking up for my son, who I finally accepted, might not be made in the image of his sister.

We approached May and I fretted over his prayers and I lost sleep worrying about his interview with the parish priest. My anxiety would sometimes manifest as anger and of course Byron suffered as a result. He became convinced he couldn’t do it, and he couldn’t understand why the answers he needed to memorize didn’t stick in his mind.

However, in the end, he did pass his interview and he did receive the sacrament of First Holy Communion in a smashing white suit. We crossed the finish line but at such a cost. It was a shot between the eyes for me; my unrealistic goals and expectations could ruin my job as a homeschooling mom, make it 10 times harder all around and drive all the joy of learning from my child.

I wish I could say, I found the perfect curriculum for Byron after that and things got better. Heavens knows I’ve looked, and tried and bent over backwards to accommodate his unique learning style, but some days, it’s still a struggle. I decided against keeping him one grade below his sister and instead gave him a workload two grade levels behind, which is where his birthday would have placed him in the local public school anyway. I never told him. I just slowed down our progress in some areas and replaced a book or two and it’s been a huge improvement for us both. Most noticeably, he’s finally learned to love reading. Thankfully, years of slow gains did not drive him from the printed word.

While outside comments quieted down, I still struggled with my own feelings of inadequacy; as if the differences in learning exhibited by my children were completely related to me and not them.  Could he have learned with that program if I was a better teacher? Am I failing to give him the specialized attention he really needs? What if there is a perfect curriculum out there for him and I haven’t found it yet?

And then today, Byron went and did something amazing.

Recently, he’s taken a keen interest in everything Star Wars. We’ve checked out all the books from the local library on the series, and he’s read them all multiple time, asking for help with all the difficult words. He watched all but ‘Revenge of the Sith’ numerous times (while under the care of grandma-totally not my doing) and drawn detailed movie scenes, character portraits  and built 3-D models from cardboard. But today, as he quizzed his uncle on obscure Star Wars trivia and answered every question, in detail, that was asked of him, I finally realized his complete potential.

He can memorize dates, facts  and misc. information. He can watch or read a story, pick out the main characters, plot, setting and summarize the story in chronological order. He can discuss all these things, with an adult, with conciseness and clarity, using complete sentences  while maintaining eye contact and good posture, without fidgeting.  Yes, it’s Star Wars, not Shakespeare, Roman History or Algebra but it shows what’s possible when his passion is ignited.

He’s taking the skills we’re trying to teach him and applying them to what he loves and learning as much about it as possible. Isn’t that the goal of homeschooling, especially a classical education? To give our children the tools to learn whatever they want? To form them into knowledgable, well-rounded adults, capable of seeking out information beyond the status quo? Today, at age eight, it’s Star Wars. Tomorrow it may be art history, biology or theology. Whatever he picks, he will be prepared to tackle it. Finally, I can see that and not worry about the little things.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect curriculum or magic formula for all children. Each child will have their own strengths and weakness that will force you out of your comfort zone. But just when you think, it isn’t enough, they surprise you, and if you’ve put their needs first, they will grow into the educated people you prayed they’d become.  It’s been a learning journey for us both. Someday I hope Byron will understand how much he has taught me.

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I Borrowed Your Seven Quick Takes

I’ve been at a loss for what to write for a ‘Seven Quick Takes’ post for a couple of weeks now. No cohesive theme has jumped out at me and lately I feel like I’ve been summing up my weekly goings on with my ‘Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real’ posts on Thursdays. But everyone else around me seems to be full of creative stuff. How about a SQT listing my favorite links from the past week or so?? Done.

#1 I discovered a blessing of beer over at Catholic Drinkie. If you’ve read any of my recent posts you know we love to entertain and cold brewskies are usually on hand. We also can usually convince at least one priest to show up which means we’ve had our bonfires blessed, our parties sanctified and now we can add holy hops to the mix.

Bless, + O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.

#2 There was a love song link up over at Betty Beguiles which I meant to join, but didn’t so now I’m posting the one love song my husband and I have. I could list a ton of love songs I enjoy but Tony would disagree and we would fall into fighting over what constitutes “wuss rock.” At our wedding we danced to Mel Carter’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and we still dance to this tune on our anniversary.

#3 Funny husbands who tolerate their funny wives blogging habits unite! Seriously, it seems that most of the great women I read have husbands whose humor usually warrants it’s own post or regular feature. Some start their own blogs. It just goes to show that behind every funny woman is a man who also loves to laugh, make fun of himself and won’t freak out over a mention or photo that shows him in a ridiculous light. Some great examples of ‘funny husband love’ this week were;

Cari @ Clan Donaldson managed to convince The Ken to answer her reader’s questions. Please visit and comment; Ken’s self-image, and Cari’s sanity, may depend on it.

Grace @ Camp Patton who despite being deprived of Twizzlers continually documents the sayings of her husband via Simon Says.

Dorian @ Scrutinies has designed a flow chart for her husband that I’m pretty sure Tony will laminate and hang on our fridge; because when he’s faced with a crazed wife in need of chocolate, he goes all deer in headlights.

#4 Speaking of love songs and husbands, but in a completely unrelated way, I love the new John Mayer album. It’s his best since Continuum. My husband keeps making vomiting noises when I play it. This from a man who loves Five for Fighting. If I wasn’t happily married, and John Mayer was a traditional Catholic and he cut his hair and didn’t say such stupid things to the media, I would totally be all over that. My favorite song thus far;

 

#5 This is an older post, but I’ve been looking for an oppourtunity to share it. Allison over at Totus Tuus shares her father’s observations on CNN’s reporting of a major news story. As a former journalist myself, I often get my panties in a bunch by the way the “unbiased” media covers a story. It amazes me that everything I learned in school is thrown out the window and I often pick apart new stories to my husband to show him how certain quotes are cut or placed low in the story or how unsubstantiated information, with no citations, are presented as facts.  It’s galling to me that most people allow the news to dictate to them what is going on in the world and they believe everything being stated at face value. However, bias works both ways, and I find the best thing to do is read about a subject across the board and I usually decide the facts lie somewhere in the middle. Now I’m stepping down off the soap box.

#6 A Shower of Roses posted fluffernutters with bacon. How did I not think of this before?? I am all out of GF bread so I’m thinking of just spooning the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter and bacon straight into my mouth and cutting out the middle man.

 

#7 Lastly a post on the controversial “Do you keep your screaming child in Mass or not?” conundrum.  My parish has a small number of vocal crotchety old folks who start shooting dagger eyes as soon as a family walks into the chapel. Thankfully, they are in the minority but most mom’s at my church have had a run in with one or two of them on a bad day. Meg from Pierced Hands makes an interesting observation as one distracted at Mass, but not in the way you’re thinking. The growing number of comments shows we’re long way  from reaching a consensus on the issue.

If this hasn’t been enough links to keep you busy, be sure to swing by Conversion Diary for the rest of the Seven Quick Takes.

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Filed under Catholic, Food, Humor, Seven Quick Takes

{p,h,f,r} Good Photos From the Week…or not

I don’t know what it was, but I was whipping my camera out and taking snapshots all week. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when my camera battery died suddenly at the beach yesterday. (Sorry Edie, no pictures of you.) It had me wishing for my old manual SLR that metered and took pictures sans battery or advanced settings. It was my first real camera, purchased at an estate sale, and it helped put me on the path to a lifelong love of photography.

It took a long time for me to accept society’s conversion from film to digital photography. I swore I’d be developing Tri-X in my basement darkroom until the apocalypse. I managed to hold out until I had children. Then as I flipped through picture after picture of awkward, blurry or just plain awful child photos that I had paid for, I quickly saw the benefit to digital photography which allowed the banishment of bad photos into oblivion with the tap of a button.

However, being able to erase the bad photos more easily does not necessarily mean I’m left with more good photos.  I suppose in an effort to make the most of what I’m left with, I’m now tweaking my images with photo effects via Google + (which acquired Picnik) or on PicMonkey. (I have yet to get a smart phone and make the leap to Instagram. My husband says we need that money for “necessities” like food and the electric bill. Whatever.) Do the effects make better pictures? Or does a good photo need to be a good photo without special effects?

The perpetually 19-year-old photo student in me says a bad photo can’t be turned into a great photo with special filters, it can only be made less bad. Great photos capture the decisive moment and stand alone.  But I find that my eye gravitates towards photos other people may overlook or dislike so I’m curious to know your thoughts. I’ve heard it said that all these photo sharing / doctoring sites make it easier for everyone to take great pictures. Is that really the case? Or are we being flooded with mediocre images and thus, unable to recognize a truly beautiful image when we see it? And when we do find a captivating image created by the heavy use  of filters or Photoshop, is it inferior to a beautiful image presented without any alteration? Or do we view them both on a level playing field?

So now that I rambled on about photography and put you all to sleep, I present my {p,h,f,r} shots of the week. Some altered, some not, some candid and some posed. Let me know what you think, and then head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter to view the rest of the Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real links.

 

{pretty}

I’m going to make you hate me like my kids hate me for screaming at them several times a week, “Kids! Come look at this sunset! It’s beautiful! Look! LOOK! Someday you might live somewhere where you can’t see sunsets like this!!” I’ll never tire of this view or of slathering images of it all over my blog and Flickr feed.

Beautiful day at Ocean City, New Jersey yesterday.  It is my dream to move there and homeschool on the beach.

{funny} & {happy}

We had a party for Fulton’s fourth birthday on Sunday with my parents and grandmother. I took lots of posed shots, and close-ups of Fulton opening gifts, however these two are my favorites. The first is my husband ripping into the back of the “Frustration Free” packaging one of Fulton’s toys came in. He can fell a tree and tackle Fisher Price. He’s a regular man-beast.

And although Fulton is blurry, you can see him trying to blow out the four candles on the elaborate cake my mom made him. His expression cracks me up. He devoured most of the green car himself.

{real}

Many of the blogs I read post favorite recipes with beautiful food pictures thrown in to make the reader salivate. I thought, hey, I cook a lot I should try my hand at this. And I thought it would be a good excuse to try out my macro lens. I tried a new recipe for tortilla soup and snapped away the whole time, even during dinner much to the confusion of my family. (Until Tony exclaimed, “Is this for the blog? This is for the blog. You know you need my permission before you can put my image on your site.” ) In the end, I was not happy with the soup or many of the pictures except this one. It is the first tomato of the season given to us by a friend.

Lots more good stuff coming up, and thankfully I’ve got a fresh battery at the ready. And if I get around to cooking in this heat, maybe I’ll bust out the macro lens again too.

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Give me an H! Homestretch Pep-talk. Rah, Rah, Rah!

Ohmywordit’sMondayandIcan’tbelieveeverythingIhavetodo.

That was my train of thought yesterday morning as I tried to gear up for the coming week; our second to last week of school. Next week family is in from out-of-town, then we  have our last week. Followed by a week at the beach. Naturally, everyone is coming down with ADHD.

All my kids activities, except piano lesson for the oldest, are done. All their friends are done. All my friends are done. But we persevere. Just two more weeks; I can do this! (I want you to imagine me jumping on the couch in full Arsenio Hall fist pump action. That is what I do to freak out the kids and let them know I mean business.)

It’s been a rough trimester what with me nearly succumbing to a salivary gland infection/ brush with death, Fulton’s surgery hopscotch and the ongoing Tower of Babel construction , I mean, new kitchen project we’re still plugging away at.

I know that if my kids were in school, their last two weeks would be full of games, track and field days, picnics and very little actual work. But we’re playing catch up and I’m hoping to squeeze a lot of actual education stuff into 9 full days (yes, we’re off 4th of July too.) And I’ve scaled back my original expectations. I know full well we’re not going to construct anything else in that Physics kit (because it hates me and I hate it)  so I’ve X’ed it out. Same with the WWII troop movement maps, color coded by battle. I will take some of Byron’s drawings of soldiers with X eyes surrounded by explosions and aliens and just stick that in the portfolio.

So, deep breath in, slow breath out. I can do this. I, and everyone else, can stay healthy. We will not stray from our bare bones daily routine, ever. We are like a crazy homeschooling post office that is going to wrap up this year and deliver the goods;  neither sun, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these homeschoolers from the swift completion of their appointed studies.

Despite the call of the warm outdoors and the green pool with its murky, yet cool water the baby insists on drinking, we will persevere. When grandma shows up with ice cream, we will persevere. When we wake up Monday sleep deprived and sunburnt from the weekend’s full social agenda, we will persevere. Cataclysmic thunder storms that fry our wireless router? We laugh in your face Mother Nature! I will finish this school year if I have to hardwire this computer all 2001.

(Despite my husbands best effort with the sledgehammer, he was unable to fix the Mac Airport, though he did comment on the durability of it’s construction.)

But my biggest motivation is just to be finished. To have another year under my belt. To compile the work from September to now and know, with some amount of certainty that my kids learned something. It is worth it in the end. Would I get the same satisfaction if my children were in school? I have no idea. But I’m pretty sure I will be able to take that pride that comes from a job well done and use it as fuel to feed the frenzy of planning that August brings. And coffee. Lot’s of coffee fuels my planning. I like to think that if you add enough creamer, it’s sort of a meal replacement shake.

Are you finished with school? How do you motivate yourself through those final weeks and days? Do you view the new school year with apprehension and dread or with giddy joy and renewed ‘I can do it!’ attitude? Confess it all in the comments!

Perhaps I need to create a homeschool mom pep squad or cheerleading team. “You can do it, you can do it, rah, rah rah! Drink your coffee plan your lessons, sis boom bah!” And then if I really knew my stuff, I’d translate the cheers into Latin. The construction of pom poms would constitute 3 art credits. I might be on to something…

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