Posted by: Shell | October 18, 2013

The Messiah Complex

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Nothing makes one more aware of their shortcomings than entering the dating world again.  In my case, it’s been 25 years.  A lot has changed.  We text to our prospective partners, 140 characters or less is the new pick up line, and it’s not uncommon to date online before you ever hold hands in real life.

That’s not to say that I’m new to technology.  Indeed, I’ve been a geek most of my life.  Just ask my Doctor Who lunchbox.

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Apart from the short-banged, nerd glasses laden look, I pretty much embrace my geekiness.  (Just can’t do the nerdy glasses and short bangs.  Girls?  WTF?)

Jumping back into the dating game was easy for me because I went with what I knew.  No really.  What I knew.  What. I. Already. Knew.   In other words, I fell back in love with my high school sweetheart.  My first true love.

Yes, it was online.  Yes, it was through texts.  Yes, we said I love you over the phone before we ever reconnected in real life.  We both had more grey, more wrinkles, and a lot more experience than the last time we locked gazes.

Did I mention I brought something else to the relationship?  Four children.  That’s me 4 – him nothing.

Now I know I’m not the first woman to find a guy that was totally cool with a ready made family.  Crime shows are full of them.  (Yes, I went there.)  And this fiercely protective mama bear was skeptical.

Why would anyone want to raise someone else’s children?  He’s into me stretch marks and all?  Those extra baby pounds meant nothing? (With full disclosure that my baby is 7.)

Could it be possible?  Could I have struck gold?

A man who admitted he was ready for a family but did not in any way shape or form want to go the diaper route.  Hey, I totally understand.  I didn’t dig the diaper thing either.  Nor the sleepless nights.  Come to think of it, this was probably the ideal thing for a guy.  Let the mom do all the rearing and then come in to be the ultimate play mate.  That’s a gig most guys could get behind I’m sure.  I wish I had thought of it myself.

But it was more than that.  He actually wanted to be a father and have a family.  He actually did the soul searching and the self awareness checks to know what he felt had been lacking.

He shared with me his eight year stint as a monk.  (Not literally)  He explained to me that something within him came alive when we reconnected.  Naturally, I melted.

Now I ask you, what woman does not want to hear those things?

I am his rock.  He is my heart.

“I’ll take you, stretch marks and extra poundage and all and I’ll be happily taking on your four children.”  He never actually said that.  I heard it in my head, though.

I was in heaven.  I was already back in love with him for the same reasons I fell in love with him the first time.  He’s kind, compassionate, introspective, wickedly smart, and very intentional in his actions.  He is a man of his word with the heart of a poet. (In a jar under the bed.  It’s kind of creepy.)

A year later with him and we are engaged.  The children adore him.  It was seamless.  Flawless, really.

Well, flawless except for one hitch.  I can’t figure out what I’ve done to deserve him.  I feel woefully inadequate and like I’ve gotten the better end of the deal.

I feel like the little drummer boy.  Kings bringing riches of gold, frankincense, and myrrh but all I have is this drum AND I can’t even play the damned thing.

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My insecurities are brutal.  They make me question everything I do.

I go from one relationship where I feel I’m the only one with a head on straight to a really all together guy.  A guy with a financial plan and bills that are completely current.  A guy that makes a point of having a weekly date night.  A guy that woos me like I am a goddess (I’d argue more of a Willendorf than on the half shell.)

I see him as perfection personified.

C’mon, now.  I’m not 16 and seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.  I am the queen of skepticism and cynicism.  But that’s what makes it worse.  I see myself through those eyes too.

The guy with the piercing brown eyes.  (If Antonio Banderas and James Mason had a bastard love child… it’d be him.)  The guy with the perfect jawline.  Lips that would make you swoon (He gets that from his James Mason side.)  And a physique… well, he gets that from his Antonio Banderas side.

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                                                                  Antonio Banderas

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                                                                     James Mason

The selflessness and willingness to be and do everything for and to me is more than I can wrap my mind around.

Have I let my past relationships jaded me so much?  Have I let them define who I am without any say or contradiction?

Typically, a Messiah Complex is a narcissistic need to be the savior in relationships but this is different.  I fully acknowledge and realize that I’ve made him out to be my Messiah.  I have, by subconscious choice, created an entity that I can worship but never be good enough for.  I have created a barrier that he, no matter how omnipotent, can never break down unless I do it.

I think to myself, “Do I have the trumpets within that will destroy this wall?  Joshua himself couldn’t bring down this wall I’ve created.”

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As someone who hates sycophantic behavior, I have suddenly found myself guilty.

I could insert all kinds of psycho-babble here.  Insecurities brought on by my childhood… abusive relationships… neglectful relationships… It doesn’t matter the cause.  What matters is that I’ve manifested this barrier and created a relationship where I bathe his feet in tears and wipe them with my hair.  (Although usually I’m bathing his shirt in my tears and wiping them with my fingertips.)

He’s desperate to be closer and I’m desperate for him to be.  This “Church of the Nakama” can rival any Catholic or Jewish guilt.  (“Nakama” is my pet name for him.) I feel guilty he’s picking up the pieces of who I am… or rather, who I used to be.  I feel guilty that someone is taking care of me.  I feel guilty that another man has had to step up to be father to my children.

Nakama” (仲間 Nakama?) is a Japanese word that directly translates to friend, comrade, and under some context such as One Piece, crewmate. Many fans of the series believe the word means “people who are considered closer than family”, though that is not a part of the official dictionary definition of the word.

Through my tears and quiet sobs, he tells me that he wants to make me happy.  I softly reply that no one can make me feel any way but myself.  I’m responsible for my own feelings.  He kisses my shoulder and tells me he doesn’t see it as a responsibility.  He sees it as something he wants to do.

And slowly, the walls came a-tumbling down.

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Posted by: Shell | October 17, 2013

You Should Get a Divorce

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In October of 2012, something life-altering happened.  I left my husband.  25 years of a growing feeling of mediocrity and emotional abandonment that I endured “for the good of the children” ended in someone shaking me by the proverbial shoulders.

That’s what I want to do now to everyone.  Like a newly converted Christian or a staunch vegetarian that can’t help herself from accosting people that eat meat, I suddenly understand the urge to proselytize.   You should get a divorce.

I’ve learned a few things from my practice marriage.

1.  If you’re thinking about leaving, getting a separation, or divorce, you’ve already decided.  If you’re just waiting for justification, don’t.  Waiting for someone to screw up does nothing but make you look forward to them screwing up.  You keep a mental tally sheet.  You memorize injustices.  You build an arsenal.  Living in resentment and disappointment is no way to live – especially if you’re intentionally creating it for yourself.

2.  You need to talk about it.  I kept years of unhappiness hidden.  My reward was a never ending collection of anxiety disorders.  It’s a year later and I’m only just now opening up to friends about what I went through.  Since my ex and I have so many mutual friends, I was hesitant to do this but in a moment of complete anger and despair, I went off publicly.  I used words that I don’t even think have been categorized as profanities yet and created some new ones.

But because I hid these feelings, many of my friends and family members were shocked and stunned when I left and this had a further detrimental effect on my psyche.  Polite nods and unanswered phone calls from “friends” (even a few Facebook unfriends) let me know that the portrait of the perfect marriage I was upholding did nothing but hurt my chances for a sympathetic ear.

That’s not to say that you have to badmouth (although over the last week I admit I have), it’s simply to say that you have a right to be angry and hurt and a right to talk about it.

3. Separate lives need to be planned.   That sounds obvious but I was very complacent in letting my “practice husband” take care of the finances and all financial matters.  It is now coming back to bite me.  As soon as I felt unhappy, I should have started my own source of funding.  No person benefits from being “kept”. 

I have some friends that have separate bank accounts from their spouses.  I used to think that was horrible… maybe even sneaky.  Now I understand the importance of taking care of yourself.

4.  Distance yourself from your spouse’s family.  They may be your best friend but a mother-in-law will still always protect her child.  Even if that child is a lying, manipulative, neglectful asshole.  (For example)

They may have been your best friend when you were married but there is no parent that doesn’t put their child first.  (And if they don’t, do you really want to be friends with them anyway?)

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5.  Your children already know.  Many of them secretly want you to be divorced.  They are sick of the fighting, bickering, and stress.  They are going to bed every night praying that when they wake up, one of you will have the wonderful news that you’re splitting up.

There is no protecting the children in this.  The best you can do is be civil and polite to each other.  Set an example for how each of you would want your child treated.

6.  Distance. Distance. Distance.  Your ex is comfortable.  You know them.  It’s easy to slip and be lonely and remember the good while shielding yourself from remembering how poorly you were treated. 

Mercy/Pity sex is aptly named.  It puts YOU at their mercy and it makes YOU look pitiful.  We’re not animals.  We can find ways to be sated without having to fornicate.

7.  Time wounds all heals.   Be patient.  People will see the truth eventually.  Sometimes they already have.

When I told my dear friend that I had left my husband, she answered in one simple sentence that meant the world to me.  “We were wondering what took you so long.”

As I previously stated, I should have leaned on my friends more.  I just didn’t want to be that person that always complains about their spouse.  I had a former friend once tell me, “You’re the idiot that married him.” when I opened up about my miseries.  That taught me to keep my mouth shut and it was more proper to suffer in silence.

In truth, I think part of me didn’t want to admit that I had done this to myself or that I was capable of making such bad decisions – to stay with him, to protect his honor at my expense, to submit when I did not want to. 

Pride. It goeth before a fall.

8.  There is no shame in ending it.  I know people say the contrary all of the time.  I know because I said it too.  “There can’t be anything that bad that you can’t stick it out and work through it unless he’s abusive.”  It’s simply not true.  Your psyche is just as fragile and easily hurt.

You deserve to be happy.  Happy parents mean happy kids even if the parents aren’t living together.

You don’t have to have bruises to be hurt and reduced. 

9. No one will ever completely understand what you’ve been through or where you’re going.   It’s not their journey and they don’t know best.  They haven’t been there no matter what they say.  Your path is unique as are your challenges and triumphs. 

People will judge you and people will console you.  Your responsibility is to know which is which and surround yourself with those who help you heal and know your worth.

10.  Being alone is not the same thing as being lonely.  If you find yourself feeling lonely, you’ve never learned to be alone or live with yourself.  Learn to like yourself.  Love yourself.  Please yourself.  Know that this is not tied to someone else. 

Only you can make you feel less than what you are by allowing others to dictate who you are as a person.

It may take some time but you will learn to love yourself and nothing is more alluring than someone who exudes that confidence.

It’s not that bad, really.  If I’m honest with myself, had I known it was going to be this liberating, I’d have done it so much sooner.  I am healthier.  I am at peace.  I am content in aspiring to be whatever I want to be.  I am happy.

I have opened up my heart to my friends.  They have not disappointed me.  Instead, my friends have embraced me (physically and mentally) and shared their feelings about where they are too.

This is what has inspired this blog post.  You’ve helped me.  Let me help you.  Just do it.  Be happy.

You deserve a divorce.  (That’s the highest compliment I can give you.)

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Posted by: Shell | October 7, 2010

Gnomes in my lap

This was a fun one.

I’m a personal fan of Dinah Zikes’ Big Book of Books and this presented a great opportunity.

A gnome lapbook based on Waldorf math gnomes, Roman numerals and their matching Arabic ones. Textiles, Cricuts, scrapbooking paper, and paper punches. What more could a crafty girl want?

The concept was easy, the 5 math gnomes (more or less – I’ve seen different amounts of gnomes with different stories), mushrooms (in paper – it’s not that kind of party) and mathematical concepts.

Closed lapbook for gnome math

Doesn’t look so hard, does it?

But when you open it up!

The inside!


Like opening a locket!

The booklets on the left are actually just windows. On the outside are the Roman numerals. On the inside are the Arabic numerals they match.

Left inside flap with windows


On the right, the mushrooms have the Arabic numerals and the circles on the tree (the gnomes live under and inside that tree) have the Roman numerals.

Gnome Tree, jewels, Yellow Gnome, and mushroom numbers!

If you don’t have Dinah’s books, there are TONS of examples of lapbooks online. One of my favorite sites is this one:

Homeschool Share

Love love LOVE it! But a Google image search for Lapbooks will have you coming up with your own ideas in no time flat.

And if you don’t know the gnome math stories, Serendipity’s site will give you an idea. You can also find the story in Oak Meadow’s First Grade Syllabus.

Posted by: Shell | October 5, 2010

And so it begins…

New “school” year for the little ones and a deeper Waldorf ascension as we work out what is important and not.

Math has always been an issue in this right-brained house so I took the lead at introducing EVERYONE in the house to math gnomes.  From lapbook games that I invented to having the eldest two put together the nature table to feature our new stars, arts and music have abounded with this new endeavor.

My 16 year old even likes to torture me with an old Pink Floyd song about gnomes.

I apologize in advance for this horrid ear worm.

Actually, I was quite surprised that no one wanted to be a gnome for Halloween.

Nature studies took us to bird watching.  Ornithology has always been an interest of mine so I’m thoroughly enjoying this aspect of school.

Frogs?  Not so much.

When I was little, I played a game of whiffle ball in the front yard and stepped on no less than a dozen toads.  Since then, we have tried to stay away from each other.  ::shudder::

Crafting has taken a turn to gnome making.  Perhaps I’ll cast on a gnome hat and little blue baja jacket.  (He’ll be a progressive gnome… or surfer gnome.  I’m sure they exist – surfer gnomes I mean.)  :o)

In the meantime, my four year old has been totally immersed in this wonderful world of imagination.  A letter a week has been fun for the whole family, actually.

This week’s letter?  “E”  Energetic, enthusiastic, effervescent, and energized by the enormous amount of life around us.

It goes on…

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions

And so, this brings me to homeschooling. As I watch many school children wind down for the year and get ready to “learn nothing” all summer, I’m always intrigued to hear their stories of relief that they don’t have to go back for “THREE MONTHS!”

This in itself is a bit of a misnomer. You see, children get out of school the third week of June and for the most part are back in the last week of August. (Long gone in most places is the “after Labor Day” restart.)

It’s a long time for homeschoolers too. All year long, we’ve been enjoying the parks, beaches, museums, libraries – free of children who don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re not supervised and having their time managed every minute. Likewise, we’ve been fortunate enough to escape (for the most part), playground politics, bullying, and rigid structures and schedules. Now, we say “until September” to our beloved parks, libraries, and other refuges. We’ll think fondly ahead to the “Take Back the Park” parties and start planning our next road trip to escape the contagions of regimented schooling.

Summer school takes on a whole new meaning in our house. It’s something to look forward to with the utmost appreciation for the world around us. Weekend excursions prevail. Week *day* excursions provide us with a taboo feeling of secret joy. Specialty camps for our children. Mom created ones for the homeschool cliques we’ve formed.

It’s the time of year when I take a deep cleansing breath and review what has worked for us and what has not. This year, a lot has worked for us.

The book work has been fine but what has inspired us is our newly resurrected purpose to homeschool. The acknowledgment that we are indeed different from other families and dare I say it, a little better. Not in our abilities to parent but in our understanding of listening to each other and working together as a family more in tune than any piece of high-end German engineering could imagine. We have learned the reason behind our emotions and passions and how to interact with others because of theirs. Something never taught in school.

Also, we have learned what it means to belong to the planet and to each other. We are learning the physics behind our actions. An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless interrupted by an outside force. Treat kindness with kindness. It will stay in motion. Try to butt heads against it, the outside force makes all of us miserable. Be nice. The simplicity in this mantra is almost profound.

The metaphysical understanding that we are all connected makes our homeschooling a precious thing. Not content to just know HOW something works, we take into account WHY it works and moreover, how our presence or being makes it what it is. “A thing is changed simply by observing the thing.”

The metaphysical approach we have taken this year toward schooling has been an enlightening journey of spiritual understanding. We are content to know that there is a place for everything (and everything in its place) and that sometimes for some people that place is school. But what is more important to me is that we have come to a place of understanding that in our lives, nothing could be of lessor importance than an institution’s idea of what our children should learn.

Instead, my children are having a different kind of summer school.

We are striving to learn the following lessons:

Live more simply
Question authority
Ask why
Read a banned book to find out why it’s banned
Consider our impact on the Earth
Help others
Give up a comfort to comfort others
Peace is obtainable
Politics are changeable
Everyone should protest something before they die
There is no embarrassment in standing up for what’s right
God is more than we can ever imagine
Music is more important than so many things
Grass should be laid in and rolled on
Respect a stranger’s culture – though it makes you uncomfortable
There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate
At the end of the night – hugs and kisses are sacred
Nothing is more important than the look of love in a child’s eye toward you.
You really can make a difference to someone, something, sometime
Sing whenever you can

These are the most important lessons school never teaches children yet they are the most important lessons all of us should know… by heart.

Summer school doesn’t have to just be for children. We could all learn a thing or two.

Posted by: Shell | June 7, 2010

Book Arts Bash Winners!

Kindergarten and First Grade:

Winner:
A Big Problem by Brianna T.
Runners up:
Adventures of Big D and BMC by Emma W.
Zoo With A Strange Zookeeper by Vivian L.

Second and Third Grade:

Winner:
The Adventures of Blue Flame the Heroic Giant Squid-Fighting Hero by Sage M.
Runners Up:
Ruby, A Twisting Tale by Emilie M.
Mittens the Cat by Melea von T.

Fourth and Fifth Grade:

Winner:
1 by Nicci M.
Runners up:
One Girl Revolution by Sadie Z.
Blaze by Alexandra S.

Sixth Grade:

Winner:
The Princess by Lena G.
Runners up:
Becoming Callie by Lena G.
Trixie by Lydia A.

Seventh Grade:

Winner:
Happy Ending is a Place by Mandy H.
Runners up:
Violet Fire by Bryn B.
Kite by Hannah S.

Eighth Grade:

Winner:
Hollin by Garrett R.
Runners up:
Common Animals by Thomas B.
Little Angel by Adayla S.

Ninth Grade:

Winner:
Why I Missed the Second Set by Rose C.
Runners up:
Untitled by Larissa S.
Tales of the Humbats: The Seventh Piece by Raven M.

Tenth Grade:

Winner:
Children of the Stars by Holden M.
Runners up:
Shattering Darkness by Vienna H.
The Scouser Cap by Emily V.

Eleventh Grade:

Winner:
Cadence by Scout G.
Runners up:
Vengeance: 25 cents by Kathleen M.
Don’t Look Down by Tanya S

Twelfth Grade:

Winner:
If Pearls Could Sing by Pamela C.
Runners up:
Broken Things by Emily D.
Falling Night by Anna W.

Big thank you to our generous sponsors:

Dreambox: Visit Dreambox for an incredible interactive math curriculum for kids from preschool through third grade. For kindergarten math, Dreambox is unparalleled in fun and pedagogical value. Check out the free trial and see what you think!

Shurley Grammar: A grammar curriculum that takes your child from first through seventh grade, using drills and jingles to teach writing skills (and also reading skills!) along the way. A trusted name in home education, Shurley will not steer you wrong.

Classical Academic Press: If you’re contemplating teaching Latin or Greek in your homeschool, you definitely need this system. With audio, video, fun activities, and online Latin games, as well as standard workbooks and quizzes, anyone can teach Latin.

Prufrock Press: Parents of gifted children often have difficulty finding work that will challenge their kids’ abilities while still being fun. Prufrock’s gifted education materials are a godsend. Kids see them as a treat!

Explode the Code: Many of us have used Explode the Code workbooks with our kids and enjoyed the progressive phonics curriculum. Now Explode the Code has launched an online version, taking their reading education to a whole new level.

Can you help us by republishing the results and sponsor links on your blog, supporting homeschooled writers and this novel-writing contest? Please email us or leave a comment to let us know you can help. We need twenty blogs to participate. Would you donate a post on yours?

Posted by: Shell | May 18, 2010

A Vacation in Cape May

I am the Queen of Road Trips.  I can plan them in nothing flat.  I know the packing lists by heart.  I know rest stops, restaurants, how to eat cheaply and moreover, how to have a vacation for a family of 6 for $500 or less and STILL come home with money in your pockets.

Let me demonstrate.

Last weekend, we took a long weekend road trip to Cape May, NJ.  If you’ve never been, I HIGHLY recommend it.  The only caveat?  Do it BEFORE Memorial Day or AFTER Labor Day.  Anyone that lives in/near the World’s Largest Resort City knows about tourists and the prices they bring.  Cape May is no exception.

But let’s talk about how to do this for next to nothing.

First of all, we wanted to camp.  That was a given.  Not that I’m not partial to nice hotels but this time, we were “roughing it.”

Let’s back up a bit, though.  Why Cape May?  Well, thank Family Fun Magazine for that.  Lounging in the bath one night, I was reviewing old magazines (I have over a decade of Family Fun Mags that I like to review for ideas to do with the children.)  There it was.  A beautiful Victorian house near the beach.  Those of you that know me know that San Francisco is one of my most favorite places on the plant.  This was all of the charm but less than a 1/4 of the distance!

After looking at pictures online, I called the Cape May tourism board to find out from the locals where to go.  Now, this is where honesty is the best policy.  I let them know up front that I was from a tourist trap and understood I was visiting a tourist trap.  With that said, we could be more candid with each other.

I was quickly educated in the term “Shoebee.”  As someone who barely tolerates tourists, this had me in stitches.  This is the term for tourists who come with their own food (in shoe boxes) and never spend money there.  Well, I was now determined that I would spend money there but I’d still be a “shoebee” as far as food is concerned.

That brings us to huge expense #1.

1)  Bring your own breakfast and lunch.

I know a lot of people who do this because of dietary concerns.  To be honest, this was part of my motivation.  With a new gluten free diet, I’m too much of a newbie to not be a shoebee.  I packed accordingly.  Fruit, cereal, milk, peanut butter and jelly, cheese sticks, popcorn, etc.  Breakfast and lunch were covered with a few pounds of lunch meat and cheese.

2) You may want to bring a dinner too.

Yes, we did.  We knew we were camping and that brought visions of hot dogs over an open flame, grilled corn, s’mores, and beans.  The Boy Scout came out in me when I thought about “foil dinners” too.  Voila.  Dinner number two taken care of.  A little bit of hamburger, potatoes, chopped veggies, onion soup mix, and Worcestershire sauce was HEAVEN.  Easy and delicious.

3) Shop at stores you know.

There was a local K-Mart that helped us out a couple of times instead of having to hit touristy convenience shops for things like batteries which, for some reason, seem to triple in price the nearer you get to any beach.

4)  Find out what’s free before you plan for the paid entertainment.  You’ll be glad you did.

Yes, we could have done a trolley ride for about $30 – 40 bucks throughout the city but realistically, we can’t hear the announcements over the people – especially screaming little ones.  In our car, we had our snacks, we were able to slow down or even go around the block to see the house again if we wanted.

The lighthouse was beautiful.  For $10 per person we could have climbed 200 steps to the top.  However, at home, we have TONS of lighthouses for free.  BTDT so the visit and pictures were well worth the trip instead.  The beach at the lighthouse provided us with comfy seating as we watched an hour of dolphins jumping in the water.  That was priceless.

Birding tours at the Cape May Lighthouse are free.  I love birding but didn’t want to spend all of my time listening to a tour guide about birds I knew about.  (We’re not that far away that we don’t have the same birds.)

We were there during the World Series of Bird Watching.  Amazing.  I will DEFINITELY look into participating next year.

The Cape May Nature Center was small but nice.  They offer activities and nature classes for the children for free.  Of special note were the coloring books that even the older “children” liked.  These were free.

Cape May diamonds are free.  Free.  FREE.  You sit on Sunset Beach and dig through the stones with the backdrop of a guaranteed spectacular sunset over or next to (depending on where you sit) the shipwrecked USS Atlantis.

Before the sun sets, you are privy to a quaint flag retirement ceremony.  There was something that made even the most curmudgeon stand tall and proud as the National Anthem is sung while they retire the flag on a gorgeous beach of people from all over stopping in their tracks to pay respects to Old Glory.

Then there was the zoo.  Cape May Zoo is a nice zoo.  Not as well kept as the Norfolk Zoo but the animal varieties were MUCH better – mainly because they have flamingos!  It’s free, the animals are well loved,  (We saw evidence of this by the handlers there.) and it was a great afternoon of stretching our legs after a long time in the car.

If you’re not keeping track, that was two days of activities for FREE… then we added the paying part.  Wildwood boardwalk.   I had already told the children we were only going for the evening (day passes are $35 per person, if I remember correctly.)  We have Busch Gardens, Ocean Breeze, Kings Dominion, and Water Country where I live.  Amusement parks lost their charm on us a while ago.  But there was this ferris wheel that I knew they’d want to ride.  I was right.  For $25, the 6 of them (I wasn’t going on it!) had a ride of a lifetime.

The end of the night brought us back to the campground.  Which brings me to #5.

5) How much time are you actually spending in the room?

Do you really need to spend $100 – $300 a night for a room that you’ll be in for 6-8 hours and most of that asleep?  No, you don’t.  Opt for an inexpensive chain (free breakfast makes it even better!) or do what we did, camp.

Camping at Seashore Campgrounds was a treat.  (As recommended by Family Fun.)  The people were so friendly, the grounds were immaculate, the long term residents were lovely and helpful, and the pool was wonderful.  Then there was the free mini golf on site. (This isn’t free during tourist season but we went two weeks before it started.)  $33 a night for 7 of us.  What a deal.

At this point, you may be asking, “Just what did you spend your money on, then?”  Gas, tolls (including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel), a couple of treats and games at the boardwalk, a few groceries, and some souvenirs.

The one thing that I’d have paid a million dollars for but didn’t have to?  The relaxation, the de-stressing, and the family bonding we shared.

Posted by: Shell | February 2, 2010

Read me a story that you tell…

Connor has an affinity for bedtime stories.  Unfortunately, they are the same three:

Three Little Pigs

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Jack and the Beanstalk

I have managed to introduce “The Gingerbread Man” recently only to switch him periodically with “The Stinky Cheese Man” (a must read, I promise – especially if you have a warped sense of humor like our family does.)

Enter – finger puppets.

You see, we don’t actually read the stories to him.  We tell them.  Sometimes we act them out.  (Connor does a great “Jack” and “Baby Bear”) and sometimes we “walk them out” on his back while he sleeps.  That one is a little more difficult to explain.  We use our fingers as the characters and walk on his back to massage it.

At any rate, I was having a hard time coming up with patterns that I liked for finger puppets and came across this book.

Adorable, huh?

We spend the rest of the weekend in the snow…  something we hardly EVER get here:

Posted by: Shell | November 12, 2009

This Christmas I Promise…


1. To take nature walks and enjoy the Winter season.

2. To create something every day.

3. To affirm something positive and wait patiently for the world around me to acknowledge it.

4. To sing.

5. To let my friends know they are important to me all year long but I especially cherish them at the holidays.

6. Celebrate Christmas like a child.

7. Hide gifts for people that would have never expected them from me and not tell them who they came from.

8. Carry an extra child’s coat and hat to give away when I see a mother with a child who may not have one.

9. Say “Merry Christmas” to people and really mean it.

10. Hug people often.

Posted by: Shell | September 8, 2009

A taste of my busyness

It’s a Little Lamb sweater (pattern by Leisure Arts from the book Precious Layettes). The checkerboard variations are my own. The buttons are also checkerboard. You now, I’m not even fond of checkerboards. Hmmm…

More pics on the way. I’ve been very busy but taking most of my time is this damned sweater by Debbie Bliss called “Ribbed Sweater”.

I’ve just decided that I hate knitting flat paneled items so I’m converting the majority of patterns I’m working on to working in the round.

Next item on the needles? A Wallaby Sweater. It’s so cute! And fast! And easy!

Here’s someone else’s :

https://i0.wp.com/photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5330/2344/1600/IMG_1720.1.jpg

Toasty! I hope mine looks as nice as hers!!! http://lotzastitches.blogspot.com/2006/08/wonderful-wallaby.html

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