Friday, June 27, 2008

Adobe CS3 is in the house!!!

Remember this post here, where I was thinking about splurging on Adobe CS3 so I can use it with the kids, (and to have a bit of fun with it myself I admit)? Well, last night I bought it and downloaded it. That process took me many hours, so I haven't been able to play much yet. But I am SO EXCITED. It has been a long time since I have had awesome graphics software to play with. My daughter is already bugging me to set her up on Photoshop. Yay!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Redneck Love

Wow, does that title sound like a back room rental or what?

I don't know what brought about Katherine's ode to rednecks but I so want to play too. You can read the post here that inspired me. It is a good read, with interesting characters and message about how human nature is essentially the same across the cultural divide. All you can ask for in a blog post really.

I have a thing for rednecks. I am on the fringes of redneckdom. I walk among them. I even qualified as deep in the heart of redneckness back as a little barefoot girl wandering bluegrass festivals with my dog. Feeling at home amongst the biker gangs and dirt of it all. Before my parent's divorce I spent my early childhood in an old country schoolhouse, surrounded by farms and orchards where I roamed free and wild. I was a kid that knew how to remove leeches from my skin, shoot a bow and arrow, be alone for a long time and survive, name all the birds and trees, and respect nature. It shaped me. After the divorce came the visits amongst the aforementioned festival type atmosphere until I lost track of my dad until college. That is a long story, but a good one, but has nothing whatsoever to do with rednecks, so I will spare you.

Anyway, when my dad popped back into my life he looked a lot like this... I give you the rednecks in my life, example number 1.

Okay, he is a little rougher here than he was then. But he is way more cleaned up in this picture than he was when he met my husband, which is another good story. If anything my dad is one for telling and creating a good story.

To be fair, here is a pic of the man that is less scary.

My dad is an interesting soul. He is at home with no electricity sleeping under the stars for months on end or in a 5 star hotel. He can and has mingled with people of influence on and off and then tromped back to his remote home in the mountains. I have probably met the most interesting people I've encountered so far on this planet when I have visited him. From scary-ass men with wild-eyes straight from the militia handbook, to people so sweet hearted that you can't believe their soul is tethered to this earth. He's deep, educated, rough, strong, sensitive, with brutal wit. Does he consider himself a 'redneck'. He told me once that everyone was a redneck, so I guess he thinks so. Does he qualify? Not in the hollywood version perhaps, but if he was to fall into any category then it would have to be this one, and I do it with upmost respect.

The other main redneck in my life is my stepson. Here he is looking rather normal actually. Usually, the beard is longer, more unkempt. For some reason I don't drag out the camera that often when it is like that.
Here is a kid that was birthed by a woman in under two hours who demanded to be released from the hospital practically immediately. When they wouldn't release her she took her baby and left. Granted, I am talking about my husband's ex-wife here and yes, like anyone's ex there lies mountainous baggage, long and not good stories. But that side of her, that strong girl, 'get the hell outta' my way or I'll whup yer butt' part of her, makes her one of my heroes.

When it comes to having kids and birthing them the image in my head of her is like a mother wolf. While I can say much about her that I dislike, I have to admit that she is someone who is not afraid to make fireworks with her kid and help him blow them up. She raised her son to know how to use an axe, skin his own 'pet' rabbits for dinner, hunt for his food and fix it too... all that classic, good redneck stuff. And while I suppose I am making this about the mother, really it is about the kid. A kid that is part mine by default. Holy crap, I have a kid that can skin a rabbit. And I love his 'keep the heck out of my business' strong attitude that he shares with his mama. (That is driving her crazy right now though. He, he, he.... And all I can say to her is like mama, like son biotch. She is an ex, after all.) Does he think he is a redneck? Heck yeah, and proud of it.

What about us? Well, my husband was raised knee deep in redneck nation. For example, his dad and grandpa would take him and his brothers (and sister!) to deer camp. While the older two boys were hunting with the (drunk) adults, the younger boys and girl had their daily allotment of ammo and handguns to 'play' with. This was so they could shoot all the little varmits with their handguns to 'keep them out of trouble', of course. Yep, that's redneck, and many of his relatives are still dripping with it and most are lovely folk. My husband respectfully bowed out from the lifestyle before we met and I can't even get the man to go camping with us. But as I said we are on the fringes, with those we love firmly listed in the redneck directory.

And through my experience I've met Harvard grads working in landscaping, my above mentioned dad has been a teacher his whole life with I believe a couple graduate degrees. My second father - who was a doctor of chiropractic, left a successful practice to go become some kind of horse whisperer, though I don't know if that is redneck or just plain crazy, really. But my point is I agree with Katherine, that folks are folks. Only I don't know if it is about smell as much as it is about hair that sets people apart. But whatever it is that seems different, people are the same under it all. Fearing or looking down upon the things that seemingly set us apart is a waste of passion and imagination.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


It is 9:45am and my boy is STILL ASLEEP! I am both pleased and alarmed by this. Last time he slept in this late it ended up he had a concussion and we spent the day and night in the hospital. Could he be turning the corner his sister turned so long ago, transitioning from early riser to one who enjoys the pleasures of a good lazy morning? Did he hit his head yesterday and I didn't notice? (Well, I know THAT answer is yes. It is always yes. He considers his head a sort of wrecking ball I fear.) Should I be checking his pupils?

We've been staying up late so the kids can have some daddy time and I am guessing it is just catching up with little Mr. On-the-go. My day should fly by today though, as already it is near ten and we are just starting! I've always liked Thursdays. Oh, wait - here he is...

Yay! Nothing weird, just snuggley warm, fresh from sleep boy. Just the way I like him :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cabin Fever in June!

On regular days I can take the phone outside. Not regular days yet, getting there, but the volume of calls is keeping us in for most of the day and we are feeling boxed in!!! Not to mention we miss daddy. The kids miss daddy because, well, he is more fun than I am. And he lets them win at Wii boxing. I miss him because he does laundry :) Oh, and the whole adult conversation thing that doesn't revolve around water in carpet is a big plus.

We are a little crazy with boredom. Of course I am big on saying if you are bored you aren't looking hard enough. Ummmm... I am bored. I am saying this with a whiney voice too. Oh, and my tongue is not pierced as it looks in the picture. I have never been that cool.

And we are sad, because we miss daddy. Did I mention he typically does the laundry around here?

And we are grumpy. There are so many levels of grumpy around here right now. There is the I am so sick of the phone and being afraid of a grey sky kind of grumpy. There is the whole "my Wii fitness age is 77" kind of grumpy. What is up with that? And there is the whole fact that the Wii is NOT the same as running around outside.

And we are happy. Because, well, we got a Wii. (I know, this post is a little bipolar, but hey, so is my life.) The day before Father's Day my mother called me in her best drug dealer-like manner and was all like "hey, I have this Wii if you are interested." She picked one up for my brother-in-law but he had already found one. And since electronics are my drug I was all like, "heck yeah, what budget?"

So here we are. Doing goofy stuff like this. And I am sure the boy is up to some kind of world domination plan. Look at his face here. Actually scroll through all the pics and just concentrate on his face. I am stuck in the house with this. I am turning grey.

Sure, he looks sweet, but underneath that cheeky little smile lies a ninja, jedi, soldier, Indiana Jones, super hero, robot. Driving him to run around the house with wild abandon and driving me to drink. (Well, longing to anyway.)

Not this gap grinned ball of sweetness. She is just suffering from empathy. She is worrying about the flooded people, storms in general and about her daddy. This is a whole different thing making me grey. Because I worry about her worrying and I also share those same exact worries. That is a lot of worry.

I am thinking about turning off the phones for a couple hours this afternoon. I am not saving the world by manning the phones and let's face it, I am not even saving carpets anymore. It is way past that point. Right now I am just sort of an alternative form of therapy. I've talked to so many people who are in varying levels stress, even despair. But it is getting to me, to us. I can't even imagine being in Wisconsin or Iowa right now as our town isn't nearly as bad as those places that are getting hit over and over, because this has been so intense. And I am not forgetting that there are people with reason to despair out there, and next to that my family missing the sunshine is NOTHING. I get that. What I am having a hard time with is how to transition between crisis time and normal time. Being a person who wasn't overly effected by the flood but being in constant contact with people who have been makes me all kinds of twisted up inside. And then trying to squeeze in being a good mom on top, in the middle and underneath all of that.

Well, anyway, that is where we're at. Thanks for listening :)

Missing Forum?

Anyone else having trouble getting on the DJ?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Okay, I totally lied.

I guess I am not taking a break. I wasn't trying to be dramatic. Just manic busy and today, well, it seems less busy. I am still getting calls, but out of the 16 calls I've had at least half of them were real jobs. 16 calls is still a high volume for us before 10am, but real jobs are quick, neat and pleasant to take. Flood jobs are sad, long and mostly counseling calls as I have to be the one to tell the people that their carpet can't be saved. Sometimes it is the last straw or close. I had 45 of those yesterday. It makes me sad. And I have had enough horrible insurance stories to make my skin crawl just thinking about that industry. Anyway, that isn't why I am back. I am back because I found this.

Characteristics of a Grateful Life
A life of gratitude is composed of three parts that combine to make a whole.

1. A sense of purpose in our lives
2. An appreciation for the lives of those around us
3. A willingness to take action to show the gratitude we feel

From Zen Habits, a blog I ADORE. It is a blog that makes me stop and breathe properly. Sometimes I print out his lists and just read them and feel better. I have been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. How I am so grateful for my life, my family and friends. Thinking about what gratitude is outside of a religious context. I was raised to feel gratitude so it is a habit for me already, but have been wanting to focus on it more so I can teach my children the words that belong with that emotion and lifestyle. And then this post shows up on my reader and sums it up so nicely.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Still here...


I miss checking out the blog world and I miss doing projects! The rain has held off but likes to tease and some day things will seem normal again. I've had a few people start crying on the phone to me today (all men), just because I was nice to them. People are tired and the adrenaline of the whole flood chaos has worn off. I started this blog to chronicle the good and happy things that fill our days and feel like I am missing that objective lately with all the 'real life'. So I think I will take a break from blogging until I have a little more shiny, happy to share.

Will get back to crafting, blogging and the sunny side of life as soon as possible. We are all doing well. Just busy and I need to concentrate my focus elsewhere for a bit. Hopefully a short, short bit.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ever feel guilty for something that is impossible to be responsible for?

A few months ago I wrote to a pen pal about tornados. About how we never get them and how that is one of the reasons I choose to live here after a childhood spent in Iowa. Then a week later we got one. Nothing devastating, but the noise and wind and experience of it was enough to bring back some of those childhood basement moments. Since then we have had three tornado events this spring. And we have no tornado sirens.

Then, later I wrote somewhere about floods in response to how many floods were taking place around the country. Again, how we don't tend to get them. It's been over twenty years, yada, and so on...

THEN. The heavens opened and nature poured out it's wrath and all that dramatic stuff...

Guilt. I am feeling superstitious guilt. Like in if I would have just kept mum about our fortune then I wouldn't have angered the jealous gods or something along those lines. Sigh. Must go make offerings or something now. Any suggestions?

It didn't rain last night even though it loomed and it was predicted. The sun is out today. The boys are back in the trenches and I am still at the phones, but everyone is regrouping. It will sort out. I mourn for the folks in Iowa. I can't even imagine.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flood pics (that I didn't take)

UPDATE: The photos on here seem to change as people add their photos to the original site, so the really awesome flood photos it used to display aren't really here anymore. There are still some cool shots so I will leave it up. Just so people know and before they wonder what the heck I am trying to show here. :)

This is a photo montage of reader submitted pics from my local paper. I hope it is okay to put it on my blog. There is an embed sign, so I embedded. Some of these shots show how crazy it has been here today. (Not all of these are flood pics as they are reader pics for the local community chat thing, but at least half are.)

Find more photos like this on Ludington Talks

Rain Go The Heck Away!!!

Update: My county is in a local state of emergency and is expected to be declared a disaster area. How awful and just out of the blue this has been. I live in a tourist town and the place is usually so beautiful it is so odd to see the pictures of the destruction. Wondering how long it will bear the scars of this event. Wondering how bad it will get before it gets better. I haven't been out of the house. We aren't supposed to be on the roads if necessary, and I've been taking all the emergency flood calls for our business. And I am really edgy, wanting to don waders and go do something to help. My husband is out doing a seemingly endless and futile job of getting water out of places and hoping it doesn't return. Last time I talked to him he could barely speak.

For any of my extended family that might be reading this. My mom, sister and I are all fine. And so far our homes are hit minimally from all this. If you try to call and can't get through, the power, phone and cable comes and goes. Cell phone reception has been pretty bad too. The only thing I am missing is hot water because my hot water heater is under water in my basement. I can deal with that. So far my mom's basement is dry, though her neighbor's is flooded. And my sister's house is dry.

The media name for all this (of course) is the Friday the 13th Flood.


Sky is clouding up again and so is my mood. We already have too many roads and bridges washed out. We just might end up with a party at our house tonight, but it would be a pretty solemn one that resembles something more like an emergency shelter for some friends whose homes are losing a battle with a river. And still I have power and cable? Weirdness...

Got my fridge stocked with water. What am I missing?

Party at my house!

We had one of the worst and longest storms I've seen in our area last night. We even had hours of tornado warnings which is really rare for us. We get intense damaging winds sure, sometimes water spouts (we're three blocks from Lake Michigan), but funnel clouds tend to hop over us and eat the barns the next town over. Not last night. It was like hell was having a party on my town last night. And the lightning! Wow. And now the flooding... not cool, very not cool.

Now the pictures of my town on our local news site are intense. One of our employees is trapped in his house as his whole area is now a lake. Today by nine thirty I have practically given up answering the business phone. I just want to answer saying "My basement is flooded too! Come on over. Bring some drinks. Gluten free if possible." (Note to self, find out if that is possible. Find out soon.) "End of the world party at my house."

Seriously though. Reading my google reader is a bit sobering the last couple days. Wild fires on both sides of the country. Flooding down the middle. And now the tempest knocking on my own door. Crazy stuff! Being a mother has seriously messed up my capacity to deal with natural disasters. Not only do I get to a whole new level of stressed while they are occurring than I ever did pre-child, something instinctual kicks in when even strangers call me with that panic, over-wrought sound in their voice. Instead of cool calm business me, I just want to help fix it. But there is no fixing all this yet. Most of town are in a state of emergency. So I am taking deep breaths and wishing I knew more yoga.

The irony of all is I have some customers calling to cancel their jobs due to flooding and at the same time people are calling us to fix their flooding.(Carpet cleaning business. And when water is coming in your walls, honey - a carpet cleaner isn't the answer. Not yet anyway.) And when I say call, I mean pleading, pulling rank with fancy titles, crying. That sucks. So far no one has tried to bribe me. Why is that? It is okay to intimidate, but not bribe? Come on people, what is up with that? Just kidding. I am slap happy after all this ruckus. I hate turning people away. I hate it when they are totally rude about minor issues that they could actually fix themselves when there are people with some serious issues happening. I hate hearing all the emergency helicopters and stuff. We are actually fine, just about eight inches in our cement basement. I still have power and internet for goodness sakes. It a bit surreal considering most of the town is without power and calling me from spotty cell phone lines.

Anyway. Tequila I am guessing is gluten free. I'll make bean dip. Come as you are.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good Bad Happy Sad

We've been eating gluten free for almost four days. I am pleased and a bit disturbed to already see improvements in my daughter. I even feel less foggy, less achy. Just a bit overwhelmed by what this might mean for us. Peanut free hasn't been very hard at all ever since the little guy's major reaction. Gluten free is a whole other game.

We'll see after we've been in the trenches a bit longer. I hope it gets easier though. Usually I am fine with stuff like this, but something in me fights this one hard. I think it is the fear of losing the option of eating out and relying on the pizza dude to brighten my Friday night. Is it possible to live without that? :) Of course it is... Just letting my Eeyore out to roam a bit tonight.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One reason I love Playmobil


When a four year old, six year old and seventeen year old can play together for over an hour I call it a successful toy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What? The weekend is over?

This is the episode where a tiny bit of 'real life' meets 'blog'...

Wands in limbo. Waiting for a few coats of paint and jewels and all that good magic stuff.

This photo is brought to you by my daughter. Who seems to be in sole possession of the camera these days. When I take photos I do it with a desire to control my world. I purposely leave out the messy corners, unfinished paint jobs, children having tantrums... But my daughter embraces all of this in an effort to chronicle her whole life. I find it sweet, refreshing, and sort of stress inducing as I like to pretend my ducks are always in a row. Hey, it is my fantasy internet world.

A week or so ago I ordered a 50 count set of cd-rs in a panic when I realized I had no more disc space with which to take pictures of the 'great recital'. And after an odd ordeal that involved UPS thinking they delivered said cd-rs to me two years ago, we received them in time and I dutifully took the required thousands of pictures of said event and then decided I didn't need to see the camera for awhile. The daughter seized this opportunity and I quickly labeled a few cd's for her in effort to preserve the rest for future use. She has a knack for using up raw materials. Expensive raw materials.

I then set her free to capture life's messy corners and she did me proud. Since I still have control (which I refuse to give up while my mind is still able) I have only selected a few of my favorites from her journey. She had so much fun doing this though that I am seriously looking at getting some Adobe software for next year's schooling efforts and giving the kids some graphic design knowledge. Might as well let my photoshop training get some productive use after all. There is a ton of information and lesson ideas on the Adobe site that I have been digging into trying to figure out if I can justify the cost of the software. My heart yells YES, my pocketbook is less enthusiastic. But we'll see. There's good stuff on here for a family that likes digital art and computer stuff.

Okay, this was about pictures after all, what's with all this yammering on already?

Her favorite website. Of course as homeschoolers I sometimes feel like I should be all anti-tv and computer, but in reality they are a part of our every day life.

More screen time here with her (our) favorite tv show, Avatar, the Last Airbender. And a quick shot of the brother running to the potty already tugging down his drawers. He comes out of the bathroom in the same state of disarray. This is especially charming when we have company.

Here is her artsy shot of a stuffed animal. Notice the way the room behind said animal looks all cluttery to the point of inducing panic attacks. Feelings of claustrophobia as if you were working on a ship like this one...
(I like how she captured the pirate ship in front of the antique pirate ship toy box. Totally intentional I am sure.)

Again with the clutter. Enough already. Anyone want a drink? Gin?

Expensive raw materials wasted. Oh, excuse me. My daughter's craft project that includes pathetically expensive little gems taped onto a piece of paper. This is like a five dollar piece of paper now. My husband thinks it is pretty. I grudgingly think so too. I am too cheap to fully embrace it.

My son's children:
Bear. This is pronounced. Buurrrr. Like Nelly in it's getting hot in huurrr...

Lucky Clover

Mr. Happy. He must be getting all lippy here or something. There are actually two Mr. Happy's. Like that show with the brother Daryl and the other brother Daryl. Alas, I have only one photograph.

Little Monster. He also has a Cookie Monster that didn't make the photo shoot. My son is adorably paternal. Sometimes he sighs and says, "I wonder what my honeys are going to look like when I am a daddy." How cute is that? He wants four or six kids, but he wants his wife to stay home with them while he gets to work. Oh, and he wants to marry Bindi the Jungle girl. Good luck with that sweetheart.

Here is a little forgotten corner. My entry that houses my old "frog collection". I no longer collect anything, as most of my spare time is spent getting rid of things it seems. But these are still here due to the fact that they are stuck to the window ledge due to humidity, extreme weather fluctuation and my lack of dusting. Notice the need of a fresh paint job as well. I noticed.

Oh and a parting shot...
Isn't that a lovely mysterious shot? What am I doing here? Trying to drink a very thick shake? Doing sit-ups? I have no idea. (Well I know it isn't sit-ups. It has been awhile since I've gone there.) My daughter does have a knack with candid. I lovingly refer to this as my '90's Euro-boy look, complete with party all night dark circles. Only mine are just from old age and co-sleeping with my kid and his six 'children'.

So this is my hat tip to my girl and her photog skills. She likes to keep it a bit more 'real' than her mother. :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Newest clay picture



The color is somewhere between the photo taken with the flash and without. Light was bad that day and the pictures turned out badly. This was my last commissioned piece for the girl under the tree set up and while I enjoy making them I am really excited to start on other layouts.

I haven't posted much since we've had so many storms lately. In fact it is starting to thunder as I type this and so I must do the right thing and unplug the computer. Bummer. I am feeling chatty.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Quiet Morning


Scalding hot coffee, calming kid chatter, a lazy morning of soft weather. Rain punched leaves fill the views from our windows, as if our home were a fishbowl of green with warm water surrounding us. Today is a good day, without racing hearts or the impending need to get. things. done.


Happy Tuesday! (And upon viewing these pics... yes, I am getting a haircut very soon!)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Second Recital


Recital time again. Here is my account from last year's thang. This year the event completely snuck up on me. I just realized last weekend that WOW, next week was the big thing. And yes, it is sort of an exhausting type of big thing. Sort of over the top in my opinion, but close to heaven in my child's eyes so we continue the makeupy, hairdo obsessed, flower-filled, foofie dressed madness. This year there were some exceptional male dancers in the performance and my son sighed a huge sigh and exclaimed, "I can't wait until I get to dance!" Ummm... so karate is out champ, and tap is in? WHAT?! Not that I mind that at all. Dance is cheaper and only once a week. But that is a bit shocking from a warrior, jedi, ninja... So we will see next September when his age makes him eligible for either. What will the big choice be? I know I am curious! Either way I am happy that for him, curling irons won't need to be involved.

We started the day with a non-dress rehearsal, hence the regular leotard. Then we had violin and piano lessons, her teachers are our friends so it was a very fun visit. I couldn't resist the pic of the girl playing violin in a leotard. So in your face artsy.

Then we had to get ready which means hairspray and curling iron. Ummm... I am not talented nor familiar with such items, however LOOK WHAT I DID! Cute, no?

Look! A rare older brother sighting! And he is looking at the camera and smiling with no electric gadgetry hooked to his head. Check out his ability to grow a beard better than his dad. Wow, that makes me feel old more than any other thing.

This is my ballerina back stage with a person that we should all pretend is me. I mean, in my heart that is how my cleavage and legs look...

Her home for the nine million hours of the performance, except for the ONE dance she is in. I am not mad she is only in one dance, that is the only thing we have her signed up for. It is just a long time for someone impatient like me to wait! :) She loves it though. It is mega- Lord of the Flies time for my girl backstage and what kid doesn't love that kind of freedom?

Three hours later...There she is!

Zoomed in...

Here she is waiting in anxiety for her perfect attendance rose. Which according to her was the best part of the evening. This is very funny to me. I am not a perfect attendance sort of person. I am more of a 'how many sick days do I have left' sort.

A successful evening.

The after party where she is hitting rice krispies straight up...