Friday, April 30, 2010

Fun With Photoshop

All right. Rather than sleep- you know, because I'm so tired that my eyes actually hurt- I am sitting in my bedroom playing with Photoshop. I've been POURING over the lessons at my new role model's blog and decided to try her basic trick.

Here's a before (she calls it Straight Out of Camera, or SOOC for short, and since she's so cool, that's what I have to call it too!!! )




And here's the after. Right?!?!







Another SOOC (how cool do I sound???)




And the after.








Doesn't seem to work that great with shots that have people in them. Here's the before:







And the after. I like the effect on the water, but Scott looks...sorta scary.






Same thing with this before....





The after is a little scary. But look at his eyes! There's a way to get the pic like this, then cut his eyes out, keep the eyes, and put them back on the original picture. Yeah. Like I could EVER figure that out.




But I have THOUSANDS of landscape shots! I might just be up all night ya'll. I might just. It would help if I had even the most basic understanding of how photoshop works. Or even if I had a third grade grasp on how computers work...but I have neither. So it takes me a long time to do ANYTHING. A very very long time.


PS: I did a few more while I was waiting for those ones on top to upload. Did I mention we get internet through a phone connection? Like you did in 1994? Yeah.

SOOC



After

Friday Night With the Engelbrecht Clan

Well, for those of you waiting with baited breath to discover if I drowned my kids in the bathtub...I did not. Instead, I worked out (first time since Feb 3rd!!!) painted my toenails, and went to a movie. While Nick cleaned the ENTIRE house. Sorry ladies, he is TAKEN. I went to see the Back Up Plan. I am a closet JLo fan. Well, not so much anymore, my secret is out. My (four) readers now know my deep, dark secret. But hello, didn't anyone see Maid In Manhattan? That was SO CUTE! And I peed my pants a little when I rented Monster In Law. (In my defense, I was fifty seven months pregnant with the giant blob we like to call Scott.) And way way back in high school, she was in this movie called Out of Sight, with George Clooney(sp?), before he got all weird and political, and that was really really good. So there.

Anyway, the Back Up Plan was cute and funny, and being in the mood I was in, I even found a valuable lesson. I know that what I feel for my children is normal. I know that (almost) every mother out there feels the same way I do, even though no one (especially a certain woman who knows who she is) will admit it. So in one of the beginning scenes, her friend Mona is telling her not to do it, don't have kids! And then her four kids run into the kitchen, steal an entire RAW chicken off the counter, and run off with it. And Mona screams at them and then mutters under her breath to JLo "I hate them." About summed it up for me. I mean, you could obviously tell that she loves her kids. But she had the balls to say it. Then later, the Dads are having their own little heart to heart, and the other dad tells the main (HOT) character that life with kids is "Awful awful awful awful awful. And then something beautiful happens. Then awful awful awful awful awful. Then something good. Then more awful. Awful awful awful." So, not gonna win any Oscars, but it entertained me for ninety minutes, took my mind off my life, and made me feel good about myself. So, good movie.

And I started Friday in a way better place.


See this plate below? You're probably wondering why I posted a pic of an empty plate. WELL...that plate is MINE and there used to be a FISH on it!!! I ate my second EVER piece of fish tonight for dinner! It was talipia (sp?), and instead of gagging it down like the (horrible) salmon incident, I actually enjoyed every single bite! Very very tasty, and didn't taste (or smell!) like fish at all. The only thing that would have made it better was tartar sauce, but we didn't have any, and Nick said you only put tartar sauce on fish sticks. Eh.

Then we headed out for some patio time. Nick is all talking about moving into base housing next month (supposedly we're way up at the top of the list now) but that's gonna be a pretty serious fight. I DO NOT want to leave my precious backyard! It's FULLY SHADED here on the Hottest Place On Earth. It's fenced in. It's HUGE. No way I'm moving into a cement block with a four by four patch of semi private grass. NO WAY!!!
Anyway. Here's what you really came for...the pictures.
My baby in his swing. He's (finally) getting so friggin cute! I literally take a hundred pictures of him a day. The big kids run screaming whenever they see the camera, so Dub gets all my photographic attention. Lucky little bugger :) I figure, why wash his face after dinner, he'll end up in the bathtub soon. Right?





Here's the big kids doing what they do best...swinging!
Get real close to the screen so you can see the look on Scott's face. That little guy...I could just eat him up!

And seriously, see how high Ava is right now? She's like parallel to the ground!


And while they were swinging, Warren was concentrating intently on his tractor. Very serious business.





As is carrying around a teeny tiny basketball.



But he's not all serious. He has a fun side too!


And to round things out, my mountain. I just love that view. And if Nick wins the fight (he won't) and we move into base housing (we won't) I will NOT be able to see my mountain from my backyard. And we certainly can't have that!



And as a last note: I was determined not to get on the Eat Pray Love bandwagon. It's had SO MUCH hype, and I'm so sick of movies about people who get married too young (hello!) and then their husbands are losers and they have to rediscover themselves in their forties. I mean, whatever, to each her own. But this book (and so naturally the movie) have just gotten too much hype, so I was determined that I wasn't going to like it or have anything to do with it, even though it was Julia Roberts. I saw the author once on the Today show and she was sort of a bitch. BUT...last night I saw the preview. And there's a reason it's gotten so much hype! I mean, I literally had goosebumps. Sigh. So I'll be adding to all the hype when it finally comes out. Double sigh.






Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ugh. Have I Mentioned That Once or Twice Yet?


If you're wondering why I haven't blogged in a while, it's because I've sank into a Bad Mood that I just can't shake and I spend most of my time plotting my return to the states. Except I want my old house in Virginia, the house that I loved and took care of and remodeled (well, I supervised) and poured my heart and soul into. And I want my old jobs, both of them, 4J AND the AIC job. And I want Nick back on the Scranton, where life didn't suck. And I want all three of my kids to go to Fern's, where she can love on them and cuddle them all day long.



So it takes a lot of planning, this trip back in time that I'm going on.




I don't know why I'm so depressed and lonely and bored, and most of all ANGRY. I have an ENTIRE house that needs to be picked up- I shouldn't be bored. One of my very best friends lives five minutes away- I shouldn't be lonely. But this depression and anger...they're sort of debilitating. I KNOW that I need to get up, get something accomplished, get some purpose in my life. But instead, I just lay on the couch while havoc is wrecked around me. Seriously, it's that bad. I feel like I'm in a commercial for those depression meds or something!!!



So, the messy house bums me out, which makes me lay around doing nothing, which makes the house messier, which makes me feel even sadder. More sad? Hmm.



And the kids make me angry just by being themselves, and as soon as they sense this weakness in me, they act like a bunch of toddlers and preschoolers (weird) and so I yell and scream and rant and rave, which makes me even more angry (at myself) and more depressed (at the entire situation.)



So, to say the very least, things ain't pretty at Casa de Engelbrecht ya'll. Ain't pretty at all.



On the surface, it would seem to be, right? Here's me and Nick, all jazzed up for the sub ball.

Brandi babysat, which is good, since I am apparently the only person on the entire island who is on a budget and not prepared to shell out uber bucks for babysitters every four days. In Virginia, even when I only had my little Baby Ava, I made it a point to NOT go to functions that were "no kids." That's just silly! Why have a function where you can't bring more than HALF of your family? I guess I'll have to cave in every now and then, but trust me, it will NOT be a common occurrence. As much as these little animals grate on my last nerve, they're part of the package. Team Engelbrecht.


And just look at these little guys. Tuesday was the worst day so far, which is sort of nice, because things have at least been better than THAT. This picture below was taken at about ten. Nick lets me sleep till seven, so I'd only been up for three hours, and those kids had like, rubbed my raw nerves with sandpaper. Every single thing they did and said was just KILLING me! So finally, Ava went to Julia's (oh dear Lord, You knew what You were doing when you made this house call to me- if it weren't for Julia, I would already have flown home to live in Biloxi) and I was enjoying my book on the couch while Warren napped and Scott played with his tools.


Or so I thought. He sneakily went into the fridge, got the fixins for a glass of chocolate milk, and then, I guess, when he couldn't get the lid off his cup, he went back in and got the next best thing-ice cube trays? Huh? Oh well.


It was so cute, I just ran in to get my camera, took a few (dozen) shots, and then put the milk away.


And just because these pictures below came off the camera while I was getting the rest ready for the post, here's Lee on Sunday, right after we unpacked our brand... new Band Hero game! Grandpa Kenny got us a Wii forever ago, and we've been talking about Band Hero and Rock Band forever, so we finally got it. So fun. And I have TONS of video of my kids doing Taylor Swift, I just gotta figure out how to get it off the video camera.


Anyway, here's Lee, the drummer. You know, cause all drummers need a sturdy pair of goggles.


As do guitarists.



I took these three pictures below to remind myself that Warren does not, in fact, cry for twenty four hours every day. Almost, but not quite. I'm giving him until he cuts these last few teeth, and if the crying continues, we're going to a doctor. And if they won't help me, we're going to the ER every day until someone takes me seriously. I seriously CANNOT continue to live with him crying so much. It's not normal, there HAS to be something wrong. He's too old to just cry for hours on end like that!


And then there's this little chica. Being older, and more verbal (read:sassy, disrespectful, and talk-back-ish) she often bears the brunt of my rage and depression. I'm going to have to finally break down and make one of those behavior charts, because spanking her and sending her to time outs just aren't cutting it any more. But, that would entail getting off the couch, so we'll see how that goes. Nick has talked her into giving up her pacifier when she starts swim lessons on May 11th and then (as soon as I figure out a way to deprive her of her three cups of water every night after dinner, without feeling like I'm torturing her- I mean, how cruel is that?) we're gonna work on no more diapers to bed. Of course, I'd rather she still slept in a crib and snuggled with me all day...but I digress.

Here she is, getting ready to go play in the hundred degree heat. Which, by the way, the heat is NOT helping my foul mood! She's wearing her Princess Belle skirt, her cowgirl costume boots, her shirt that she wore to school (leaving this on means she hasn't technically 'changed clothes' which she isn't allowed to do without express verbal permission) and either her Ariel or Singapore hat. Backwards. Oh my GOSH I could just eat her up!

All right. So how long do I wait to 'adjust' to my new life before I actually act like I AM in commercial and try to get some help? I can't spend the next three years on the couch. I'll get bedsores. And my husband will run screaming for the hills, my children in tow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Ohh, it feels so good to have things almost back to normal. Almost. We've got about a dozen (smallish) boxes left to put away, our bedroom is still a complete disaster (that's where we put everything that we don't know where else to put) and the hall closet is not what I'd like it to bed, but the rest of the house is pretty much in order. And later today, we can hang up all our pictures, clearing my scrapbook desk so I can finally get some pages done! Hooray!


Hopefully my recipe box is in one of those unpacked boxes, because I can't find it ANYWHERE. So this week's menu is all from either Pioneer Woman (after all, I'm on a mission to cook EVERY SINGLE recipe in that book) or my Pampered Chef cookbook (the only cookbook I could find. Weird.) Anyway, here's what's on the menu at casa de Engelbrecht this week, barring any catastrophe at the commissary this morning. It's so weird not grocery shopping on Sunday afternoons after church, but I don't want to get in that habit since, when Nick goes back out, I'll be doing it on Monday mornings with Warren.


Monday: PW's Breakfast Burritos




Wednesday: oven BBQ (got this recipe forever ago from a Better Homes and Gardens mag, have been putting it on the menu and never making it ever since)




Friday: Nick will make some sort of fish dish. Gotta learn to eat fish, I want my kids to be seafood lovers! If I just can't get it down, I can have leftovers after the kids go to bed.


Saturday: we'll eat out of the freezer because Nick has duty. On a weekend.


Sunday: PW's penne a la betsy (this has shrimp. not sure what my plan is. maybe I'll just eat it. People like shrimp, right?)


So now you know. What's on your menu this week? Head over here for tons of great ideas!



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random Thoughts (While Waiting for my Husband to Call)

First of all, he didn't work this hard as a JO. I thought the whole point of being a department head was so that you DIDN'T have duty all the time? Maybe my recollection is a little skewed (is that a word? I've heard people say it, but it shouldn't look like that) because back then I had a full time JOB that I loved and friends nearby and a Target around the corner and only one or two babies, but I seriously don't remember him working like this. And I DEFINITELY remember thinking "No fair, those department head losers NEVER have duty!" That memory isn't skewed one bit. So what gives? Does this boat just suck that bad? Melissa, is this what it was like on the MSP? Is it bad management? Bad luck? Bad karma for all those years of having it easy? Hmmm...

Secondly, am I the only mom who watches Max and Ruby for hours on end? The same episodes, over and over and over? Yes, my children do watch more tv than I ever wanted them to, but I'm just thankful it's not Sponge Bob or The Sopranos. But seriously, back to Max and Ruby. Great stories (for babies) about learning to share and deal with pesky little brothers (how perfect!) but where are Max and Ruby's parents?!?! Are they dead? Do they have a guardian? Ruby is always taking care of Max all alone, and she's a Girl Scout, so certainly she isn't old enough to be a full time legal guardian. Maybe they would be better off with the Sopranos...

Third: How awesome that two days after I bitch about not being able to find matching headers and backgrounds, my fave site for all things blog bling updates their goodies? It's the little things ya'll.

Fourth: I haven't worked out (or stepped on a scale) since before we left Connecticut. On Feb 4. I caught sight of my rear today in a mirror (my closet has mirror doors! GROSS!!!) and I thought that the fan we leave running 24/7 had billowed my dress out a little bit, know what I mean? So I smoothed it down. It wasn't billowed out. My sixth grade teacher had a rear end that I'll never forget as long as I live. I always wondered how she ended up like that. Now I know. It's hard to get motivated because I'd like to get going with the last kiddo, so I feel like "why work out (or skip that last half of Scott's birthday cake) if I'm just gonna get huge anyway?" And somehow, telling myself that if I start the pregnancy in shape, I won't gain sixty pounds- just not cutting it. I worked out five days a week with Warren, well into my thirty sixth week, including weights. And I gained sixty pounds. Didn't do a damn thing with Scott- same sixty pounds. And like I've said before, I plan on getting a tummy tuck after I'm done anyway, so why not tack some rear end and upper thigh lipo on the bill? Ugh. (And no mom, I'm not pregnant yet. I wouldn't tell you like this. Especially after Arika stole my thunder last time!)

Fifth: I gotta get some pics so you'll see the huge scope of this problem, but we have a mango tree in our backyard and mangos fall from the sky all day. And all night. The ones that don't land on the tin roof of the shop with a loud, frightening BUMDUMBUMBUM hit the ground where they split open and start to rot. We're talking complete ground cover here. On a daily basis. I picked them up last week and got SEVEN trashbags full. Nick picked them up three days later and got two. And today, two days after Nick did it, the ground is once again covered, at least another three bags. Do mangos have a season? How can they, when there are no seasons here? Am I doomed to be picking up mangos for the next three years? Double UGH.

Sixth: Seriously, does the boat not have a phone? What if there's a fire? I've given up on getting a call. Time to go watch Max and Ruby.

Umm, I mean, time to go watch something cool. Not a preschool cartoon. Cool. Because I'm awesome.

Monday, April 19, 2010

At Long Last...

A birthday party for Scott! Warning for Non-Family: We're about to go through a TON of pictures. BUT, they do feature three of the cutest kiddos in the world, so you might wanna stick around.


We decided to throw an impromptu BBQ on Sunday, after Nick finally got his new grill unpacked. You know how people always joke around about women buying new purses? Well, that's sort of how Nick is about his grill. But hey, the man makes anything on his grills taste amazing so whatever, he can buy as many grills as he needs. Anyway, he set it up and then we needed an excuse to grill copious amounts of food. Enter the perfect excuses: 1)we need to celebrate for Scott, 2)we need to show off Big Ugly and how we're slowing and surely transforming her into Big Stylish (in my own opinion, that is) and 3)we need to socialize with all the guys Nick works with so I can meet all the wives. Hence, the shin dig.


It was SO FUN! Good times were had (I hope) by all.


We started with just Team Engelbrecht, unwrapping a few gifts.


While the big kids were actually playing with the basketball hoop that came INSIDE of it, Warren was having the time of his life with the BOX. I know that mothers everywhere always joke about kids liking the boxes better, but it still never ceases to amaze me.



Don't these boys look like they're up to no good?




If you're trying to make out if Scott's shirt really says what you think it says, yes, it does. And the best part? I got this shirt months ago, WAY before he started referring to himself as such. As most of you know, I'm a little psychic. I got it from watching the X-Files all those years ago :)



Then everyone showed up and we all headed outside to play and eat. And eat. And eat. And then eat just a little more.

This is Mindy's son Russ. Doesn't he look like he should be Warren and Scott's brother? BTW, Mindy, if you're reading this and you would rather I not post pics or name names, just let me know. I can totally take it all down.





My sweet Lee, who, despite appearances, is just five months older than Ava. A lot of times, people seem to expect him to ACT like a ten year old, since he LOOKS like a ten year old, but he's just a sweet almost-five year old, and I think this pic captures his personality perfectly!



A rainbow, without the pesky rain...





Time for cake!



Lee's little brother Easton...




Making laundry day even MORE fun!


Happy Birthday Baby!