Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dip in the pool

It's been hotter than 'H E double hockeysticks' lately so last night the girls and I went to cool off in the pool. Today is hitting the 100 degree mark so we are all staying in the cool air conditioned house while we get our last minute things done before our vacation starts. Here are some photos from the pool.

Relaxing and watching the girls swim. ahhhh....

Me and Ellie
Me and Ellie. The water was so warmed by the hot sun all day that it was more like a heated pool... still refreshing though.

Blue Eyed Ellie
Sweet Ellie

Emma and the noodle
Emma so did not want her photo taken... I had to bribe her with new clothing... oi vhey!

It's Summer Time
flip flops are our shoe of choice in the summer

Pool Flag
Summertime flags hanging from the clubhouse

Toweling off. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poisoning our land - AGAIN!

Last night I watched a documentary on HBO called 'Gaslands'. It was a film that brings attention to all of the natural gas companies that drill wells (thousands and thousands of them) across our country and then in turn pollute the drinking water for those that live in the area. They then claim no responsibility and force these people to haul in pure drinking water or should the people be able to retain legal counsel the gas company will pay for their water and in turn make them sign non-disclosure contracts so they cannot speak of the issues. Most of these people cannot sell their land because it is now ruined and they are finding their health is in major danger. Head aches, vomiting, dizziness.

In the past 10 years there was a huge boom with thousands of wells being drilled all over the US... especially in Colorado and Wyoming. There is land called BLM that is essentially public land that the government has set aside for its people. The Bureau of Land Management kept this land free of drills and pipelines... that is until the Bush administration and our good friend Dick Cheney comes into power. Dick Cheney because of his position with Halliburton 'persuades' the BML to let gas companies start to drill on this land. The land is now dotted with toxic drill sites that are contaminating air, land and water. Wildlife populations are affected in the area not to mention the people that have made their life there. Their lifestyle has been greatly compromised over the last 8 years.

Isn't it interesting how many environmental disasters and pollutants seem to point right at Dick Cheney lately?? The basically non-existing emergency backup plans that should have been in place for crude oil leaks can be traced back to Cheney. He is suppose to have loosened up the regulations so the oil companies could pump more oil at unsafe levels and gee look what happened - an overloaded system exploded and there was no back up containment plan in place. The out of control gushing of oil is slowly and painfully ruining the Gulf and all those precious wetlands...and now this comes out about the natural gas and all of the drills that Cheney paved the way for. He needs to be held accountable for his actions. I was never a Bush administration fan with the type of government that he had in mind but this, this is so unacceptable. This is environmental terrorism.

Sadly, Dick Cheney will most likely never be held responsible and the gas companies will most likely not suffer either. What I hope this documentary accomplishes is just what it did for me, opens eyes and educates and makes us realize once again what we are doing to this earth and all the inhabitants. All for money. It's just gross.
To see more about the Gaslands documentary click here

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to the father of my girls. Steven is a really wonderful dad and his girls love him to pieces! Hope my own dad is enjoying today up in heaven but I am sure everyday up there is enjoyable.

Today has been rather low key. I think the thermometer reached the official bagillion degree mark today. Due to all the heat and humidity we decided not to go up to the mountains like we had thought about doing earlier in the week. Officially I think we hit 97 but it may as well be a bagillion degrees. So this morning we let daddy sleep in and relax all day. He's actually out for a walk right now - yeah - I know, didn't I just tell you it is a bagillion degrees! Have heat stroke on Father's Day why don't you! If we aren't in the ER getting re hydrated tonight we will enjoy a dinner of grilled steak, shrimp, baked potatoes and corn on the cob and afterward I think we will head out for some ice cream.

Yesterday we took Ellie to see Toy Story 3. Such a fabulous movie that had me tearing up at the end. Toy Story 2 was the very first movie Emma went to see in the movie theater. She had just turned three and we went to the cinemas in East Hartford, CT. Good memories! It definitely was a long wait in between these sequels but well worth it. Last night we went to a neighborhood pool party. There was a live local band playing and here and there they would insert some obnoxious Obama wisecracks while singing. Totally annoyed us and it was so inappropriate and really pointless. I felt like saying something but I took the high road and let it go. They ended one song with 'Hey Barack - go clean up that oil spill'. Huh? And can you tell me what you have done to help out? Definitely made us leave early. Other than that - it was a delightful evening.

Here are some photos from today of the girls enjoying this lazy Father's Day...

Sunday Afternoon
Ellie getting her painting groove on with some water colors.

Sunday Surfing
...and here is Emma in the family room watching Justin Bieber videos.

Friday, June 18, 2010

S'mores & Lightning Bugs

Earlier this week Ellie and I watched dozens of lightning bugs light up the darkening sky as we sat on the porch. "There's one! Look over there mommy! That one was so close! They are just so cool" I remembered being her age and watching them too back in Connecticut on a warm June night. I caught them in a jar one summer evening and I was so fascinated when they all glowed in unison behind the glass. So last night we decided it would be a good night to catch a little magic.

We knew we would have to wait until it was close to dark so before all the lightning bug fun began we decided to celebrate the end of the school year and the start of summer vacation with s'mores. S'mores make everyone smile and are such a summertime treat. I always flashback to the very first time I had one. It was 1979, I was 10 and I was at my first overnight Girl Scout camping trip. We sat around the camp fire and I watched in amazement as a hot, toasty marshmellow was placed on the chocolate and graham cracker sitting before me. Oh my God! It was the best tasting thing I ever had! I was hooked after that night and I so look forward to the first s'mores every summer. So back to last night, we don't have a firepit so we had to make due and use our gas grill. Steve took the honors of marshmellow roasting. The oohs and ahhs from the girls as they took their first bite was priceless.

S'mores... yum!
Yeah for summer!

First S'more
A blurry photo but it still looks good enough to eat... oh... and it was!

Ellie approved
Ellie's mouth is still a bit swollen from her mini-surgery but she managed to eat this without any problems whatsoever!

So we've enjoyed our s'mores and the sky is getting a bit darker and in the woods across the creek we can see pops of light making their way toward us. Little bursts of energy lighting up the landscape. I think we waited until it was a bit too dark because it was quite challenging to get some good photos in the low light.

Ellie is not a girly girl but she really isn't a tomboy either. She falls somewhere in between. She is up for participating in things she may be unsure of but she does it with caution. She wasn't sure if she really wanted to catch a lighting bug. She kept asking me if it was going to pee on her. I think she was recalling the little gray tree frog that climbed up my arm a few weeks ago. He peed all down my arm. I reassured her that there would be no lightning bug pee and that they are really gentle. After I caught one and put it on her palm she was OK with the idea. It was great to see her running after the glowing bits of magic. We decided to only catch 5 of them. We should have caught more but it was getting really dark and I believe the mosquito population in our yard was texting all of their friends to come over for the feast. It was fun and we have a few more nights that the lightning bugs will be around so we may go back out a little earlier one night and fill up a whole jars worth!

Summer Fun
On the hunt...

Catching Lightening Bugs
Can you see it? It is hovering right in line with the wheel barrow handle. (looks like a white splotch). This is one that we caught.

Lightening in a jar
Checking out God's amazing work up close.

3 of our 5 little glowing prisoners... Of course we let them out early for good behavior.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dog Days of Summer


What happened? It's June 16th already? Spring is gone - although not officially - but sadly, it is. We have been having August like weather here in central Virginia. Many days in the 90s and they have been rather steamy and thick too. So I am proclaiming that the dog days of summer have arrived. I even have a photo to prove it.

Our dog Tucker spends less and less time outside, favoring being inside enjoying the cool air. When he is out for some tennis ball time or a walk around the block he is on major panting overload. His whole body heaving for air. Yesterday and today aren't as brutal and I even worked in the garden this morning cutting back Clematis and doing some weeding. The flowers already look spent and droopy after the last few days of humid air. Hopefully all the trimming and deadheading will force new growth and give them a lift.

Today is the girls last full day of school. Ellie has beach day today (at school, not the beach - although we do so very badly need a real beach day). She had two baby teeth removed yesterday and she did just great. Her little lopsided grin warms my heart. She woke me up at 4:30 this morning to inform me that the Tooth Fairy made an appearance and to squish into my bed. Steve is away on business so I was more than happy to have the cuddle time. So, two more half days and they are officially on summer break. I think I will need to bake some cookies in celebration. Friday we will take them to see Toy Story 3 and then maybe a trip up to the mountains for the weekend. I always get so itchy to go on road trips when school ends. Time to make those fun memories. Bring it on Summer - we're ready and willing - just turn down the heat a little OK? Thanks!

Monday, June 14, 2010

baby teeth and lobsters

Today begins the last day of the final school week for the girls. I will be glad to be on summer break - sleeping in, no homework, no stress....ok... stress will be in its place but I am still looking forward to it. Tomorrow Ellie will miss school so she can have two teeth extracted. She has some crowding and two baby teeth that should have been pushed out of the way seem to be staying so we will remove them tomorrow. She has to be sedated by an anesthesiologist. No longer do they numb up little mouths with novacaine and pull teeth. They want the child to have a positive dental experience and if they are sedated then they likely will not remember or be scared. This method is suppose to encourage a good relationship with the dentist and only happy memories thus ensuring future visits to the dentist. (who are they really kidding!) I'm all for that but unfortunately my dental insurance is not. $275.00 is my cost to have a visit from the anesthesiologist and unfortunately it's not a choice - this is the only way her dentist will do this procedure. I remember being a kid, all novacained up and ready with my fingers in a death grip around the arm of the chair, in a panic waiting to have my tooth pulled. My dentist back then didn't even wear gloves or a face mask and he had super long and really gross nose hair that I couldn't stop staring at. Yea- I guess not remembering would have been a good idea.

The weather here has been HOT and HUMID! I took Ellie to the pool yesterday. Her third time this season, my first. Emma was already there soaking up the rays with a girlfriend. I brought my new book, a cold diet coke and I found a comfy chair with an umbrella. I had a perfect line of sight of Ellie and her friends so I could make sure she was above the water and not below. A quick dip in the pool to cool off and I was ready to read... er... change of plans. A neighbor that I haven't talked to in a while was coming in too and she was ready to catch up. She had lots of stories to tell me about what was going on with her teenage daughter and some of it was intense so I felt compelled to stay and listen. When we finished an hour later, I realized I did not do the best job of sunscreening myself for this full on hour of sun. So today I am a little lobster-esque. I haven't been sunburned in a while and I forgot how much fun it is. Summer's here!!

taylorellieEllie and her friend having fun in the pool.

Emma & her friend at the pool. They didn't really want their photo taken... hee...oh well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

a weeks worth of stuff

Wow - a week has gone by since my last post. I guess I have been rather busy now that I think about it. On Sunday I drove my mom up to Connecticut for a little casino action. It was her birthday and one of her favorite things to do when she lived there was to head up to the Foxwoods Resort casino and play bingo. I know, I know, a long drive to play a little bingo. So true but it was not just the game but the whole 'reliving the experience' that she was looking for. She feels she doesn't have too many trips left in her and wanted to go for a few days. I was more than happy to accompany her.

After a day at the casino, she shared with me the sentiment 'you can never go home again' and I think she was right. The full quote from James Agee is: "How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. You can never go home again." I think that is sometimes true when you revisit places that you have such fond memories of. Sometimes the place changes or you've changed or both things have happened and it's just not the same anymore. It can be a little bittersweet. We did have a good time though with lots of laughs. We were also able to meet up with my sister and niece and my niece's 2 year old little girl for a great seafood lunch down on the shore. That was wonderful since we don't get to see each other too often and I know my mom misses them. We also did a little boutique shopping that you can only get in Connecticut. And the highlight for me was being able to sit at the beach for a bit and take in a gorgeous New England summer day. Ahhhh....totally refreshes my soul. I so miss living close to the ocean now. I took it for granted all those years when it was right in my backyard and now I miss it more and more with each passing year. The drive down I95 was long and congested and I was beyond happy to pull into my driveway around 12:30 am on Wednesday morning.

The rest of the week was busy with the girls, filling orders and weeding. Those weeds are way out of control this year but the flowers are looking fabulous, so it is worth my sore back and dirty fingers. I refuse to treat the weeds with chemicals because of all the wildlife we have in the back yard so stooping, squatting and ripping them out is the only plan. It's definitely a love / hate relationship.

Last night Ellie transitioned from a Daisy into a Brownie at a big Girl Scout ceremony. Steve and I were very proud of her. I find myself welling up with tears over every accomplishment she has. So happy that she is here to experience it all. Cancer has definitely turned me into a big bawling baby.

Tonight Steve and I leave Emma in charge and we are off for date night. Tomorrow I have to work a bit but I think I will take Ellie to the pool and catch up on some DVR'd shows and finish my book...oh and probably weed some more. I hope to find myself relaxing with a margarita on the screened porch toward the end of the day. So love summertime! We have a graduation party we were invited to but I am thinking we will stay in. I have personally been going out for dinner and drinks a lot over the last few weeks so I am looking to slow down my social calendar to a slow crawl this weekend.

The girls have one more week of school and then SUMMER VACATION! We will be off to Hilton Head Island in SC for our first Summer getaway toward the end of the month. So needing some R&R. The other cool thing that happened this week involves my beloved Imogen Heap. I was notified by her people that they selected a photo I took at the recent concert Emma and I attended to use for her cover artwork of the charity improv that she did that night. On this tour, at each show, she asks the audience to select a key and tempo and Immi then creates a piece of music right on the spot. It's unique and was so cool to watch her do. Anyhoo- She holds up a banner afterward to tell us what local charity will benefit from the sales of that one improv track and asks everyone to take a photo and submit it. She then will pick a photo to be used as the artwork for the release of that single. I was absolutely thrilled when I learned my photo was selected. My name is in the credits and everything. Can I get a Woo Hoo! is the link to the Norfolk VA improv and you can see my photo and listen to this really cool 'on the spot' totally improvised track.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Random Photo Friday

A storm's a comin'
We have had a lot of thunderstorms over the last month. I love to watch them roll in.

Coneflower that I grew!
LOOK! I grew purple coneflower from seed. I am keeping them potted until the fall when I will put them in the ground. Woo Hoo!

I 64 West
Driving down I-64 going toward Charlottesville. The sun was fading fast and lighting up the sky. Hard to drive and take a 'good' photo. The sky was awash in orange and breathtaking.

New Ipad
We jumped on the bandwagon and bought a new iPad last week.
We are all loving it

Beautiful Lillys
Lillypads are all over the beaver pond part of the lake now. The otters like to swim here but they are harder to spot through all the vegetation. I saw the Barred Owl at the lake on this night too. Life is good.

Still reflecting back on one of the best concerts I have ever had the pleasure of attending so - one more of Immi for you! love, love, love her!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A night with Imogen

Emma and I headed to the shore Sunday afternoon to see one of my absolute favorite singer/songwriters - the fabulous Imogen Heap. I first heard Imogen about 8 years ago on, of all things, the Shrek soundtrack. She covered the song 'Holding out for a Hero' that Bonnie Tyler sang back in the 80s. I just couldn't shake the sweet and unique sound of her voice so I followed up and purchased some of her music. I was in love. Sweet and melodic but edgy and alternative all wrapped into one talented artist. Her lyrics were mesmerizing and some of the songs I felt I truly could have written myself.

Music is so essential and necessary in my life. I cannot believe there are some people that do not listen to music on a regular basis. Any kind of music is fine - whatever moves you. My ipod is usually streaming in my office or I am trying out some new internet radio station that I just 'happened' upon. There is nothing like a music high when you are listening to something that really moves you, speaks to you.

So the concert was incredible. I took Emma because she is 13 now and old enough to start her concert life. She can start expanding out and seeing and experiencing art forms in a new manner. She loves music too - always has her headphones on. The venue was super small, standing room only for the most part. It was dark and there was a variety of people to take in. A good crowd just waiting to be inspired and show appreciation for the stylings of a multi-talented artist. Imogen was so beautiful and quirky and full of British sweetness. She rambled to herself and to us as she moved from various electronic stations to perform her art. She was quite funny, very endearing, sweet, gracious and down to earth. On top of all that, seeing her perform live was amazing. It's hard to describe really how she performs. She records backing tracks right on stage, loops them, records another sound and loops that and then sings and plays piano on top of that. It was really genius and cool to watch. I cannot wait to see her the next time she tours.

Concert Girls
Emmy & me at the concert

Norva - Norfolk VA
The Norva in Norfolk VA. A very cool venue... and look there's a mermaid! Ellie loves mermaids.

Eclectic at its best
Immi was beautiful and so gracious.
I love how 'messy' she looks.

Imogen Heap
That is one cool piano and she plays it beautifully.

Imogen Heap Concert
She had sparkly pants that Emma just loved.

Imogen Heap
A very engaging performance... plus she sang many of my favs.

Imogen Heap Concert
There were 2 violin players that were incredible too.
Now go and download some of her music... you won't be disappointed!