Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In Print

A week or so ago I was on the local paper's website. Some blog asked about traffic pet peeves and I fired off a quick post completely expecting it to be buried in the comment section. So imagine my surprise when I started getting phone calls yesterday asking if I knew I was quoted in the paper. [They knew I didn't subscribe. It's a wee bit liberal for my taste.] Apparently people had also mentioned it to Maggie's teacher. Must have been a slow news day in The Bubble.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Tom!

Ok - it was actually Friday. And we celebrated Saturday. But it was beautiful this weekend and I just wasn't on the computer much.  [But still, it's better than a Facebook Happy Birthday, right Tom?] Kirsten arranged for us all to go out to Blue 5 for dinner and brought a yummy cake from Wildflour. Dinner was great and went by much too fast. Unfortunately for us, Tim had to work the next morning and we had to leave the party in full swing so we could get to bed on time.

Not that it mattered for me since E decided to wake up screaming 3 times in the middle of the night. So after checking myself, leaving early and being responsible, I woke up Sunday tired and feeling as though I had been out drinking. I hate it when that happens.

Tiny Dancers

Friday was ballet picture day. Now all year, I have found ballet to be a huge pain in the rumpas. It is far enough away that you can't go home during the class, the waiting area is tiny and tends to incite raucous behaviour in little boys. And I have no one in Maggie's class with whom to carpool. Hence the many many hours we logged at the Goodwill which is right up the road. And this time of year they are both going twice a week to get ready for the recital - which will be pain in its own right. Don't worry, I will bitch endlessly about that later.....

But then I got to see them in their sparkly tutus. I think this is how they suck us in for another year....

I am admittedly a wee bit jealous of them. Back in the 70's when I was a similarly uncoordinated ballerina, I had a teacher who was a hippie and was against such frivolity. I would have killed for one of these rigs when I was 6.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Author's Tea

Today was the Kindergarten Author's Tea. The kids write and illustrate their own stories and then read them to the parents. Maggie chose to write The Story of Nibbles. You may remember Nibbles (if not read here.) The other parents thought it was sweet that the end of the story was the kitty's microchip being found. Until they learned it was all a lie I told my children and Animal Control had to take the cat away. Good story. 

Orchid Heaven

So I am in Kroger and I see these orchids in a basket with a sign that says Manager's Special. Guess how much they were. Three bucks each! I am a well documented killer of houseplants but I figure at that price, they are cheaper than cut flowers. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Finance Fun

We recently started paying the kids an allowance (pay for performance, naturally. You don't so your chores, you don't get paid) We're following the Dave Ramsey plan and each child has three envelopes: spend, save and give. Spend is money you can use right away. Save is money you save for something more long term. And give is money you donate to charity. We definitely have two different approaches being used here. First is:

The Saver
Maggie has accumulated the most money in both her save and spend envelopes. The girl is tight with a dollar. I think this is due largely to her desire to out do her sister (The Spender - more on that later.) There is nothing Maggie loves more than to be out somewhere and be able to purchase something Morrigan can't. And to make sure it stings, she adds sweetly, "But you can't get that Morrigan. You're broke." [Incidentally, "You're broke" has become the highest insult 'round here lately.]

I don't think she has quite grasped the give concept yet. Mags came to me the other day with her give envelope in hand. She informed me she was ready to give. I asked to whom she wanted to donate the money and she said our neighbors across the street. So I had to explain that as much as I am sure Tyler & Jen would love her $5, it was meant for a charity. We're working on it.

And then we have...

The Spender
Morrigan goes through her money as quickly as she can. Today they brought home their school pictures. [Round two on those I must add. When did school pictures become a semi annual affair? Well probably when they realized they could sucker parents into buying them.]

Anyhoo, I planned to buy a couple sheets of each girl. But Morrigan really wanted the page of magnets. Of herself. We don't have a magnetic fridge for god's sake. As her spend was already depleted, I said she could take the $12 from her save to buy them. I counselled not to buy them but there was no talking her out of it. I asked Maggie if she wanted to purchase hers. She told me, "No. I don't want to be broke."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Good News/Bad News

[E's hair is always the best one day after bath day!]

On the good news front, it was back to school. Which was easily outshone by the fact that Morrigan was running a fever, the cleaning lady was coming today and I had sagely scheduled a checkup appointment for Eion. Hmmm.....not getting much done today. 

Mixed reviews on the doctors visit. When our pediatrician, who has been our doctor for 7 years, entered the room, Eion asked him, "Where's Dr. Eskenazi?" It was Dr. Eskenazi. Very nice. Then E proceeded to tell a variety of lies and denied eating any food known to mankind. 

Dr. E: Do you like fruit?
E: We don't have fruit eber.
Dr. E: Ever?
E: Eber.

After his 4 shots, Eion left the building crying and screaming "I want to be sick!" (We had told him the shots we necessary to keep him healthy.) 

But we made it home and he is happily watching tv and wants "nuffing" to eat. 

On the plus side, while looking up online to see if our Healthcare FSA would cover children's painkillers, I found out it covered sunscreen which is completely kick ass if your entire family sports complexions that would make the cast of Twilight jealous. No exaggeration at all, we might go through a couple hundred dollars of sunscreen in a pool season. And it covers bandaids which are very useful when you are as clumsy as us. It paints a nice picture really. My family, the bunch of klutzy albinos.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back to Reality

Sadly Vacation Tim had to return to work today. He was greatly missed by the whole family. That coupled with the cancellation of Sunday morning yoga and I was not off to a good start. So we went to the gym a bit later where I posted an improved 5K time (24:33) which is up from my low but the best I have done since sickness sidelined me for a few weeks in March. And I was running with a handicap as one of my earbuds gave out 20 minutes in. Seriously, this is the 5th or 6th pair I have gone through in the past 3 years. I must be emitting something toxic.....

After working out I took the girls into the pool in an effort to get them ready for swim team. We have never been on it  - Maggie wouldn't even put her face in the water last summer. But we are improving. The minimum skill level needed to participate is swimming 25 yards (one length of the pool) unassisted. Now I know this is chump change to all you Parents of Swimmers, but it is a monumental task around here for kids who rather than swimming really practice more of a controlled drowning. As an incentive, I told the girls that if they could swim the 25 yards, we would go to Maggie Moo's for ice cream to celebrate. And today, Morrigan made it! Maggie is getting better. If I can just convince her to breathe she will do great.

Monday is back to school and routine. I'm a little sad. Truly, this has been the easiest Spring Break ever. But I have been happy to see all our friends cars back in their driveways. And I could do with some tennis!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Did you ever have a day when you woke up and thought, "Mom's birthday is coming up soon." And then when you tried to figure out when it was you realized it was coming. And had gone. Last Sunday. Ooops. Happy belated birthday Mom! We love you!

More Gardening Fun

Fueled by the outdoor improvements we had already made, we had 3 scoops of mulch delivered Friday morning. Morrigan, Tim and I spent the morning spreading it over our flower beds. While our placement on the mountain and seemingly small front yard would make one think we wouldn't have that big of a job, the yard is deceptively large. Maggie and E opted out of mulch fun instead playing Daphne and Freddy (from Scooby Doo.) 

At lunch we went to Melanie & Jerry's where the menu was something we had never heard of, pork roll. Apparently, it is widely enjoyed throughout New Jersey. All we knew was it is pork, something that is well received at our house. We had sandwiches with pork roll, egg and cheese. OMG. They were so good! Where has this product been my whole life? Luckily for us, they had brought some extra back from Jersey for us. Yummy!

After lunch, the kids drove their Jeep around, all wanting a turn driving. Ironic since we have the exact same Jeep in pink collecting dust in our garage. We were surprised that over the last few months, Eion gained the skills needed to drive it.

That afternoon Tim and I started building stairs into the side yard of the house. This entailed using a pick axe to dig out a flat spot for each step, using a stamper to flatten it out (I had never heard of those - thanks for the loan Jerry!), and placing bricks in the spot to form a stair. We're about half done. When we finish, I'll post a picture. But don't expect much. While functional, they are rustic to say the least.

Batter Up

Thursday was a beautiful Spring day - high 60's, sunny, a little breeze. We had no choice but to spend the day outside gardening and cleaning out the garage. Morrigan had to be forcibly removed from the house and we did concede that she could read outside. It is tough. She reminds me so much of myself as a kid, always an indoor kind of girl, but the outdoors will really do her good.

We cleaned the garage, washed the cars, tied down the bazillion daffodils (resulting in a very sore thumb,) and planted piles of pansies and violets by the house. I really underestimated the sun factor for the day. I guess I didn't think I would be outside as long as I was but my lack of sunscreen and low slung jeans resulted in a crescent shaped sunburn right over my bum. Or as I like to call it, nature's own tramp stamp.

After we were done outside, we took the kids to a Salem Red Sox game. 

It was an unmitigated success. Certainly I didn't watch much baseball instead spending the majority of my time shelling peanuts for Eion, helping Maggie with her coat that she accidentally dipped in ketchup, opening water bottles and mediating fights over the Bear in the Big Blue House binoculars we had to bring, but it was a good time. Personally, I prefer the general admission tickets to the reserved seating because they have way better people watching.

Morrigan said she loved Spring Break because we got to go to the baseball game together.

And Maggie said baseball games were the best because you could "party as late as you like."

And I think that made up for the fact that E used the binoculars backwards.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Viva la Revolution!

We just got back from the Roanoke Tea Party. If you know me at all, you know taxes aren't my favorite thing. When Tim found that a local group had organized an anti-tax rally, we knew we had to go. The girls we psyched. Morrigan said, "Finally! We get to give Obama a piece of our mind." They happily decorated their signs and counted down the hours until the gathering all day.
Being rookie protesters, our signs were small. And we learned that we really need to mount them on cardboard. 
But we didn't let our small signs deter us! The girls and their cute signs were well received. They were a bit disappointed that we weren't going to march anywhere. They felt just gathering wasn't enough. Maybe we'll start an email campaign.....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vacation Tim

So Tim took the week of spring break off and we chose not to go out of town. The kids and I are instead enjoying Vacation Tim. He is a much happier and relaxed guy than Work Tim. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to being debt free so this guy can be around more often. In addition to going to the gym, we've been planning some family outings for the week. 

Today was bowling. Naturally, we played with the bumpers up. While Tim broke 100, the rest of the family did not fare so well. I scored a 70 and that was with liberal bumper use. Each of the kids had their own style. Morrigan chose to throw the ball more than roll it.

Maggie pushed the ball down the lane. It would s l o w l y make its way to the pins. A couple of times it just stalled out altogether. We found out they don't like you to clear balls by rolling another bowling ball at it. 
Eion insisted on using the 10 pound ball (more than 25% of his own weight) and would half toss, half roll it. He seemed to lack even the crawling momentum of his sisters' throws and when it ground to a halt, he ran up the lane to kick it. When this method (surprisingly) led to him missing all the pins, he turned around in tears and told us, "I hate this game."

Was it a success? Well, Eion only played half his game, opting to go over to a video game. We let him have a few quarters from his allowance which he quickly used up and proceeded to throw such a loud fit that some 400+ pound dude in a rascal felt the need to escort him back to us. He was concerned we didn't know where he was. Buddy, based on his volume level, I am pretty sure the entire place knew where the E was. Morrigan was also in tears because she lost. Maggie was thrilled because she beat her sister and got a spare. Me, I was just happy to be out with Vacation Tim. 

Easter Sunday

Lucky Tim got to work 6am-6pm on Easter Sunday but lucky us, we had several friends take in the rest of the family. We started the day with chocolate bunnies for breakfast and a healthy dose of the Scooby Doo dvds they received from the Easter Bunny. [To be fair, most of their calories for the day were sugar based. I was feeling lazy/nice/non confrontational.] Eion at one point came to me covered in chocolate, handed me one bite of his bunny and told me, "I'm done." 

After breakfast, we stopped by the ER to take Tim some lunch. E walked up to him and said, "You're Dr. McK." I hope the nurses don't think we make the kids call him that at home. Even better, when Tim came home from work later, Eion changed his status saying, "You're not Dr. McK anymore!"

Sippycups had an Easter brunch and egg hunt at her house. She also had the foresight to give them pennies and other change instead of candy. I don't think any kids needed more sugar by then. 

After the kids were done seeking eggs, we had a delicious brunch and a relaxing afternoon. 

When I was gathering up my posse to head over to our next stop, Morrigan informed me Sippycups' son told her she was cute and made the cute sign. When I asked him what the cute sign was he wolf whistled. Yeah. We're watching out for those two. 

For dinner, we went to Ann & Hans' house. [We did stop by before brunch for a little Rock Band so we were really coming full circle.] Ann's parents were there as well and dinner was fantastic. Unfortunately, the long day and excess sugar started to take its toll and we had to head home. As we left, Eion saw a dent in their car and informed Hans, "You bashed your car. You need to take it to the body shop." Ah, he's learned so much from our own bashy car.

It was a great Easter which left me thinking about how lucky we were to have several friends who would let us be a part of their holiday. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Good

Ah the Bunny Breakfast at the Club. There is just nothing like dressing up your kids and pumping them full of sugar before 10am! 

Eion refused to pose with the bunny. The bunny who Morrigan informed us on the ride over, was not a real bunny but someone in a suit because the real bunny is busy getting ready for Easter. We've made it through at least one more year of innocence. Or she might think if she doesn't play along that she'll be shut out from the Easter haul.

Maggie was one of the oldest in her group and collected a full basket at a fast and furious pace. Upon seeing her sister's basket, much fuller than her own, Morrigan ran up to her and said, "This will be great. We can share all this candy!" Riiight.

But we made several advances over last year. We had a long talk about not crying if we didn't find the "golden" egg. Much to my surprise, there were no tears. [Not including when Eion cried because we took his knife, which he was using to slice the table, away. But it wasn't about the egg!] Also managed to get Eion to change his egg hunting style. Last year he stepped on the eggs to open them, extracted the candy, and left empty shells in his wake which when picked up by other kids, made them cry because they contained only air. This year he just put them in his basket. Way to evolve E!

And E got a chance to follow Sippycups' son around like a puppy. Hero worship in kids is so cute! Then we left which brings us to......

The Bad and the Ugly

So after a perfectly lovely breakfast and egg hunt at the Club, we headed to the US Kids Care Easter egg hunt that was being held in the neighborhood. The group sponsoring it is a youth service group. Honestly, I could have passed but the girls read the flyer that went home in their backpacks and were quite determined to attend. 

The kids were divided into several age groups. Morrigan was in the 6+ and Maggie and Eion were in the 4-5 year old group. At the appointed time, they let the kids in and it was off to the races. All was well until one of the kids in charge decided Maggie had too many eggs. She said there was an eight egg limit and Maggie would have to put some back. Which she did without a fight, crying the whole time. 

Wow. You have to realize that while this little girl on a power trip was making Mags thin out her take, all of which she found in an age appropriate group by herself, kids all around her had parents pointing out eggs to their 5 year olds or flat out putting them in the baskets. And it wasn't like she was pushing past kids or taking eggs from others. So I was left with a sobbing little girl who didn't understand what had just happened. Really, if there was someone who had none, she would have shared. She did so not an hour earlier when a boy we know was crying because he didn't get many eggs at the Club. All three of my kids went over and gave him some of theirs.

Now, I could care less about the candy. But what I just cannot stand is the way this, and many other events, feel the need to equalize everything. Granted, you need some measures in place to make sure people have fun. The 2 year olds shouldn't compete with the 7 year olds. But I don't think every kid needs to go home with exactly the same thing. I have no problem at all with kids that are faster coming out ahead. But instead we need to appear "fair" even if what actually happens is quite the opposite.

While I was comforting a distraught Maggie, I saw the girl go over to Eion to make him put some back. He told her, "No I not!" and ran away. I'm with the boy on this one.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Traditions

As we gear up for a weekend of Easter egg hunts (three on the schedule so far,) it occurred to me that we didn't go on many when I was young. I remember a few and there are some pictures to prove it - sharp dresser that I was!

But they didn't seem to have as integral a part in the holiday as they do for my kids. Of course, my family had another, and far more tasty, tradition of its own. When we were living in Paris, supermarkets were available but not the norm. Most shopping was done in your neighborhood where you would visit the boucherie [butcher] (ours was fairly flirty,) the boulangerie [bakery] and on down the line. The best stop was one not made every day - the patisserie - which is a baker (sometimes the boulangerie and patisserie were the same shop) who specialized in pastries and sweets. 

At Easter, they would make the most divine chocolate creations that were almost too pretty to eat. But once you had a taste, you quickly moved beyond that! So starting then, we would get this chocolate artwork in lieu of an Easter basket. My parents close proximity to a patisserie in Michigan (run by French ex pats) allowed us to continue this tradition once we came back to the States. Mom was kind enough to stop there and bring me these:

They are intact for the moment but I suspect their beauty won't protect them for long!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I think I picked the last of our daffodils today. I kind of hate for that part of Spring to be over. Just when you've had enough of winter, out pop sunny heralds of Spring letting you know that Summer days are coming. Our flowers make me smile too for the memories I associate with them. I ordered 300 odd bulbs (all daffodils, damn deer) the year after we moved into our house. Between when I ordered them and their arrival, fetus Eion came along so I had the pleasure of planting them while 6 months pregnant. 

In the subsequent years, they have multiplied and we have 1,000+ blooms over a few week period. The first year they were out, the girls were picking them & I stressed about it. All that hard work and we wouldn't enjoy them! But as Tim sagely pointed out, the kids were enjoying them. Since then it is a free for all and their picking is unrestricted. (I did have to teach them to pick with long stems so we could put them in a vase.) 

So we generally have a vase full on the counter and send some into the kids' teachers at least once a week. Of course, after this long ago planting session, we haven't done much gardening. The three little kids really held us back. And as E grew, he would refuse to stay in the yard and would just bolt up the street making it really difficult to get anything done. 

But those days seem to be behind us! Tim has been researching gardens all winter and is quite determined to feed our family from the bounty of our deck. He is using the square foot gardening method and has planted all sorts of herbs and veggies. [I had actually planned on having a picture but the rain put a damper on my plans.] And in spite of his desire for practicality, we have also planted some flowers in the front. Naturally, they are pansies and violets that can be picked again & again and they grow back.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Easter is Coming

The kids are dying for Easter (or at least the related egg hunts) to be here. They have dragged out the eggs of Easters past and are conducting daily, nay hourly, hunts. This particular hunt demonstrates that 1) they are not very good at hiding eggs and 2) they want their parents to trip resulting in death or a nasty injury.

Give Peace a Chance

We picked up E today and he had a cross they made in school (Easter and all you know.) He climbs in the car and tells us he made a "blower" [translation: gun.] While his teacher tried to talk him into calling it a cross he blasted us. Nice.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


So I'm feeling pretty good about how Book & Author went, yada, yada, yada....Then I give the girls the books I had signed for them. Baldacci wrote a children's book called Fries Alive! I had one personalized for each of them. Their comment was, "It's about time someone at Mommy's boring dinner wrote something cool like a kids book and not just stupid grown up books." Clearly their view of the event varies slightly from my own.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Book & Author Dinner 2009

Whew! After months of work (and a little stress) Book & Author Dinner came off without a hitch on Saturday night. Sippycups and I spent the better part of the afternoon arranging flowers or more correctly, she arranged and I fetched water and put the flowers on the tables. We all have our skill sets.

We had about 560 people in attendance to hear David Baldacci, Dr. Bill Bass and Alex Berenson. You never really know what you're going to get when you book authors. They can sound great on paper and be quite famous but end up being dull or just plain go off the rails. Mercifully, that was not at all the case on Saturday! They were all entertaining and funny. They all had the room laughing out loud. I think I finally relaxed when the last speaker was on stage and the audience was clearly having fun.

We sat with Dr. Bass. He and his wife were delightful and down to earth. Case in point, our dinner conversation included his opinions on the anthropology of white men losing their arses as they age. No stuffy conversation here. 

After dinner, the authors signed books. When the autographing session was done, they joined us for drinks in the hotel bar. My parents were in town so they went home to relieve the sitter and let Tim and I spend the night. Stayed up a bit too late and toasted a few too many to a successful night for sure but I felt just fine when I woke up in the morning and realized I had nothing about which to stress.