Monday, November 30, 2009

Daddy's Work

So over the holiday weekend I endeavored to play some board games with the kids which can be more than a little bit challenging. We haven't really mastered being a good loser yet and Eion , well, he just reaps destruction on any type of organization. But we were going to have some family time, dammit.

The girls set up a game of Life. For those unfamiliar, your game piece is a car that has little spaces for blue and pink pieces signifying your family. When you start out, it is just you. So I was a bit baffled by the fact that all three cars had one pink peg, in the passenger seat. When I enquired why this was, the girls told me without missing a beat, "We get married right away and then the Daddies drive." Naturally.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

The mall? Hell no people. Not much for crowds any day of the year, let alone rabid crowds looking to save $10 on a hoodie. So I shipped Tim off to work, the kids off to a half day camp at the Club and headed back to my nice, quiet house where I proceeded to take every single item out of my closet and clean it out. I cannot tell you how very happy my clean, well organized closet makes me. And hopefully the Goodwill appreciated the 3 huge bags of gear.

When the kids returned home they were all fired up about decorating the house for Christmas and since Thanksgiving is over, we may now officially start the Christmas season! In addition to the live tree in the living room, we put little artificial trees in the kids' rooms which they got to decorate themselves. They were so proud of the results.

Personally, I would have rather bought cute, themed and coordinated ornaments and had, well, attractive trees in the rooms. But as I try to remind myself routinely, it about the process. And their process was to try and cover every available inch of the tree with ornaments.

For me, decorating the tree was a trip down memory lane as always. I really adore my ever-expanding collection of ornaments made by the kids. The goofier the picture, the better. Our halls are officially decked.

Side note: I was the tiniest bit miffed when I told Tim how I cleaned out my closet. He looked inside and said, "You did?" Hmmmm......maybe I'll have to send a few more bags Goodwill's way!


When the day starts out like this:

one does wonder how it is all going to turn out. Masked or unmasked, it was an excellent, relaxing holiday. Since Tim was only off on Thanksgiving and has to work 12+ hour shifts for the balance of the weekend, our families didn't want to make the trek (understandably so.) Melanie and Jerry took us in since they too were without family.

The food was excellent. While I have always found my dressing (stuffing for you New Jersey types) top shelf, I will have to get Melanie's recipe and add it to my holiday rotation. While I'm not sure it beats mine, we may be tied for first place! And it was a treat not to have to cook the turkey which, after being cooked with bacon on top, was delicious.

We ate early, leaving room for a second round later in the day. The kids played all afternoon but eventually ran out of steam and watched Home Alone, which may be Morrigan's new favorite movie. Granted, her idea of high humor is the wedgie.

While they crashed on the couch we played Rock Band which was extra fun since Jerry had downloaded a bunch of Motley Crue from the Dr. Feelgood days. It was like Senior year in high school all over again! After undoubtedly overstaying our welcome, as we are wont to do, we headed home where with full bellies everyone (save me) crashed out at 8pm. (I caught up on Stargate Universe.) Perfect.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On Thanksgiving Eve

I am thankful for....

My husband, who is working the lion's share of the holiday weekend.

The fact that Tim has a job in these tough economic times, even if it means holidays are a bit lonely.

My children, who are about as good as they come.

My friends, all of whom are wonderful. And a special thank you to those (Melanie & Jerry) generous enough to take us in on Thanksgiving since our families can't make it.

For friends who tolerate my tendency to invite myself and my family over, even on holidays.

Again, my husband who did not bat an eye when I returned from the mall with bags of clothes for the girls that they probably don't technically need.

And last but not least, for the Club's half day camp the day after Thanksgiving.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and safe travels.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And The Winner Is.....

So I have actually known this news for several days and it has been killing me to keep quiet but I swore I would not let the cat out of the bag before the Highland Park Reflections awards ceremony. We all remember the epic dance routine right? Well surprise, surprise, it won 1st place. And it beat another dance! I cannot tell you the amount I want to see the dance that came in second. And her picture of the mountains at sunrise won 2nd place. She's just about bursting with pride today.

When she realized that music composition only had two entries, meaning if she had entered, she would have automatically placed, Morrigan set out to write music directly for next year's competition. Ah yes, pick that low hanging fruit.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Waynesboro Swim Meet

We have successfully survived our first out of town swim meet. It was held Saturday and Sunday in Waynesboro which is about an hour and 45 minutes away. Since Tim was working and we had to pay for a babysitter for E, the girls and I drove up on Saturday morning, bright and early.

Trip went well and we arrived on time which, considering my substandard navigational skills, was a minor miracle (even using a GPS.) We quickly located our people and set up camp. I realized immediately that I am still a relative swim meet novice. I forgot several crucial items, including a chair, but remembered enough of the vital ones that we were in good shape.

First event up: 25M Free. Maggie completely freaked out (again) and refused to swim. All I could think was someone is going to die if I shelled out for a babysitter, hotel and drove hours to NOT swim. At this point, I took a calculated risk. I knew I had enough time to drive, roundtrip, home and back that afternoon. So I told Maggie that it was either swim her next event or she was headed home.

Next up: 25 Free for Morrigan. She swam and came in DFL. Not for her heat, for the whole meet. Not that I told her. I just hugged her and said she looked great.

25 Breaststroke: Well they were both disqualified but the very important thing was Maggie got in the water! And she, in spite of swimming a Butterfly/Breaststroke combo (tough to explain,) she has no idea she was DQed. She was under the mistaken impression that they would call out overhead all the swimmers who DQed. I just let her think she made it. She looked so happy that there was no way in hell I was going to spoil that feeling.

50 Free Morrigan: DFL, for the meet. Again, this information was withheld for the sake of my children's fragile swimming egos and budding aquatic careers.

Then, mercifully, the morning was over. There was a Cracker Barrel next to our hotel about which my girls were disproportionately excited about especially considering they had never eaten at one.
The mystery was quickly solved when I learned there was an exclusive opossum Webkinz there they had read all about on the Webkinz website. Guess who owns two new stuffed animals?

We spent the balance of the day in the hotel pool and at the team's pizza party. Early to bed for day two!

The first event of the day for us was the 50 Free for Morrigan. You already know the outcome. DFL, for the meet.

Next was the 25 Butterfly. And two disqualifications.

Now, in site of the fact that we are not lighting up the swimming world, I am actually brimming with pride. I may well have been the happiest Mom there. My girls, who essentially could not swim at all a year ago, are far more accomplished in the water than I am. And they are improving. And they are happy which is far more important than anything else. But, and you knew there was one, at this point in the meet I am thinking my sweet girls, who are so happy and have no idea what sort of times and scores they have (their mother should seek gainful employment as a spin doctor) are going to return home and likely be the only ones on their team without a single ribbon. I'm not a "trophies for all girl" so I do want them to earn it, but I hate to think of them crying on Tuesday at practice when awards are distributed.

So as we roll into the last few events, I am feeling conflicted. But low and behold, there were miracles. In the 25 Backstroke Maggie finished 4th, taking 5 seconds off her previous time. Morrigan did not fare quite as well but she was one place above last. Woohoo!

Our very last event was the 100 Medley relay. Morrigan was swimming freestyle, the anchor. God help us all! But let me tell you, I think she swam faster than I have ever seen her go. They placed 2nd! And even better, they were in second when it was Morrigan's turn to swim which means she didn't hurt the team's position. Whew!

So to wrap up, they had a complete blast, feel like they did great (and in my eyes, they did) and will each get a ribbon. We'll call it a rousing success.

Friday, November 20, 2009

H1N1 Clinic

Maggie & Eion's school is offering the H1N1 vaccine to any students who want it today. Which is terrific. Unless of course, you are a student. We received an automated call last night stating they only have shots, no mists. I bet it is just awesome there today!

Conference Day

Parent Teacher conferences have, thus far, always been a pretty pleasant affair. May be it is because we go to meetings like the one I attended yesterday for Morrigan.

Where I was presented with a straight A report card and glowing comments about how well she is doing and what a joy she is to have in class.

Or meetings like the one with Maggie's teacher.

Where we looked over her almost straight A report card (one B but I swear I am handling it just fine,) well within parameters test scores and discussed how there are no problems needing to be addressed. Well, she did say that Maggie was stubborn (oh no! say it isn't so!) which, interestingly, was a comment all three teachers made about the kids. And I would have absolutely no idea at all where they got it. Ha! It's genetic: blue eyes plus blue eyes equals blue eyes; stubborn plus stubborn will get you stubborn every time.

And then I got to meet with Eion's teacher.

Where we got to mull over the very real possibility that he will repeat preschool. Ouch. She clearly loves him and his "spirited" ways and thinks he is a bright little boy but his maturity level just might not be there. Some comments were followed with "well you live with him, you understand." How well I do indeed. I am beginning to see why some parents don't like conference day.

And then there was the mystery of why Eion had 8 tardies and Maggie had none. I drop them off, together, at the doors to the school at 7:30 sharp every morning. All I could think was that it must be a mistake. Until I talked to Maggie who informed me that rather than going into his own classroom, which the two of them pass on the way to Maggie's class, Eion continues on to Maggie's class where I think he remains until forcibly removed by the 1st grade teacher. At which point he, sometimes, goes directly to his own class and, sometimes, just wanders the halls. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I didn't fire off an email to his teacher insisting that the tardies were a mistake.

When I asked Maggie why she didn't have E disembark at his classroom, she said she couldn't worry about that because she didn't want to be late herself. So after I reassured her she had plenty of time to deliver him to his teacher and make it to her own destination, she, reluctantly, agreed to help her brother arrive on time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holy Crap I Am Ready For Tomorrow

I keep thinking I am done for today but I have to tell you what is the crowning jewel in my Wednesday. My carpool for the birthday party which Morrigan is attending left her there. So now the parents of the birthday boy, who I have never met, are driving her home since Tim is at work and Maggie & Eion are in bed. I have to say that I am really glad that when the invite said "gift optional" I opted for a gift. If I have anything else to post today I am going to lose it!

Wednesday Disguised As Monday Continued

What do I really hate? Driving at night. What do I hate even more? Doing it in the rain. And hate even more than that? Driving in the rain, at night and in traffic which I thought didn't exist in this town anyway. That's why I live here! Damn you people and your 5:30pm, all the way across town birthday parties anyway.

It's Wednesday Not Monday Dammit

Seriously, this is the kind of morning I should have on Monday, not Wednesday......

6:10am: Wake up, make coffee, and pack Tim's lunch while under siege by meat scrap craving cats.
6:20am: Son demands to know why his door was open. Does not accept explanation that none of us opened it.
6:30am: E reappears dressed in a sweater vest (no shirt underneath,) shorts and shoes that had to have the velcro straps duct taped down at school yesterday in order for him to keep them on. [This moment really deserved a picture but I wasn't in the presence of mind to take on so early.] When told he had to change, Eion burst into tears and said he is NEVER getting dressed.
6:45am: Showered and dressed to find Eion is true to his word. Manage to get him dressed only after letting him recycle both his socks and shirt from the day before. I am not proud.
6:50am: Maggie bemoans the lack of long sleeve dresses available to her. Morrigan declares she is sick and cannot go to school.
6:55am: Send email to carpool for birthday party later today bailing because Morrigan is sick.
7:10am: Lunches are packed for remaining children. Frantic effort to have the house in order for cleaning lady begins.
7:16am: Morrigan makes a miraculous recovery 9 minutes before we are due to leave. Suspected causes include the fact she was not going to get to watch tv, would have to go to work with me and would miss aforementioned birthday party.
7:17am: Send email retracting earlier email and reaffirming carpool.
7:18am: Pack lunch and make breakfast for Morrigan.
7:22am: Locate $4.50 for a poster the girls have to have from the Highland Park book fair of a kitten in a tutu. Think how very glad I am I don't spend much time decorating their room.
7:25am: Upload to car derailed by Eion's Indiana Jones jacket which needs to be zipped AND have all 4 snaps secured before leaving the house.
7:29am: Finally get all the kids in the car and leave.
7:33am: Very much appreciate Jerry's comment about how I seem a bit frazzled this morning. (Admittedly, he was right.)

We'll just assume that we have nowhere to go but up today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Christmas Season Does Not Start Until After Thanksgiving

And no matter what the rest of the world does, I will stand firm on this point. A local radio again started its weeks early celebration of Christmas in spite of my protest last year. As if the FM dial in Roanoke was not already a complete wasteland. To lose a passable station for the season is unacceptable.

My girls agree. As we prowled the aisles of TJMaxx yesterday, Morrigan called out to all who would listen, "Good grief. Don't they know that we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet?" You would think they would embrace yet another holiday for which people could buy specialized gear rather than glossing over it entirely. And my children have noticed. The lack of Thanksgiving decorations at our house has been pointed out repeatedly to me.

So in spite of our decorative shortcomings, I will remain in the Thanksgiving spirit for another week or so. Lord knows, I have more than my fair share of things for which to be thankful. But the day after turkey day, the Christmas holidays are ON.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Floors

So after I took pictures of the new floors, I realized I had no "before" pictures which will make the following photographs really lack context for anyone who didn't have the pleasure of viewing the carpets, each more hideous than the last, in person. But I promised Mom I would let her see the finished product so bear with me! This picture kind of shows the heinous nature of the basement carpet but doesn't truly do it justice.

And here we have "after."

Clearly, a long way to go. We still have some dull walls and unattractive fluorescent lighting but since we're cash flowing this and refuse to borrow money, it may take a few months.

Double apologies for these next two as they will mean nothing to those who didn't see these rooms before!

What is funny is that the office floors, which one member of this family fought me on endlessly, have really been appreciated by all. The room looks so much bigger than it did with the old carpet. Overall, worth the hassle and mess of the last few weeks!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beautiful Saturday

After several days of Arc building jokes, the rain has stopped and today was picture perfect. We've been enjoying a visit from Tim's parents.

The girls were all dressed up for the Whole Notes Club, a monthly music club that I think, for them at least, is all about the refreshments. By Maggie's count, she had at least eight brownies. When pressed, they also remembered some singing.

With it sunny and near 70 degrees, we had to hit the park. It is so hilly by us that bike riding is a challenge, to say the least. But that's why we love out Suburban - just pack up the bikes and head to the flat-lands.

There were plenty of other like-minded families making for plenty of good park fun.

The unseasonably great weather did leave me with a dilemma. Our Christmas card picture was slated for 3pm tomorrow, smack dab in the middle of what is projected to be another banner day. Tim questioned my scheduling but really, how was I to know it was going to be this nice? I resisted initially, but realized that we couldn't waste such November perfection indoors. And amazingly, I was able to get an appointment for the next Sunday. To Tim's delight, he is working and he and I will not be in the Christmas card again. Maybe next year.....

Friday, November 13, 2009


Did you ever had a Friday that was rolling along just fine when one of your inner circle, best friend peeps calls and says she's moving to West Virginia? I did. And it completely sucked.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Well I'll Be!

Not that I ever doubted the quality of my children's entries in the Reflections contest, but we were pleasantly surprised when we received a letter today that Maggerson's Kitty in the Sunshine won first place! And is moving on to the next level. [Hidden Kitty and Kitty Shine did not fare quite as well.] Congratulations Maggie!

Still no word on the epic dance routine......

Monday, November 09, 2009

Can I Get A Hell Yeah!

After almost two weeks of chaos and having the girls as roomies, my house is back in order with all rooms accessible and containing the proper furniture. The floors look awesome and especially in the case of the basement and office, are making such a huge difference. Pictures when I get around to it......

Friday was the Highland Park Walk-a-Thon, which in spite of her mother being on the PTA executive board, my daughter fought participating in tooth and nail. She refused to collect donations because if she didn't get any donations, she wouldn't have to walk.

What she didn't know was that her teacher was planning on sponsoring anyone who had not turned in money. I was in the class that morning and just couldn't let it happen so I sponsored the other holdouts. Take that Morrigan. Now go walk in a large circle for an hour.

Tim was working Friday night and feeling like an inadequate playdate planner, I attempted the level 4 difficulty triple playdate. I easily found dates for Morrigan and Eion but many of Maggie's friends had plans. Being shameless, I found a Mom at pickup and worked something out on the spot. While, relatively, it all went well I was feeling a bit haggard at the end of the night when three girls repeatedly were chanting "Trick or Treat, give me something good to eat. If you don't, I don't care. I'll pull down your underwear." I thought ignoring them would make it stop. Not only was I wrong, but they continued using all manner of funny singing voices - opera and the like - for a good 20 minutes.

Saturday we went to the Children's Miracle Network Ball at the Hotel Roanoke.

We've been to this several years in a row and this was by far my favorite. As friends Leslie & Craig were the featured family, it was heavily populated with familiar faces.

Of course that same contingent of friendly folks led us to adjourn in the Pine Room.

And yes, that's Tim double fisting it at 11:30pm as I urged him to leave. He didn't listen.

So to no one's surprise, it was a slow day chez nous on Sunday. But we rallied and had Melanie, Jerry, Ann & kids over for homemade pizzas. [Hans went on some crazy 24 hour adventure race the day before and had crashed at home.]

This week is shaping up as a great time to get the house back in order since E is running a fever and throwing up. Thank goodness he got sick right after I just had a houseful of people. D'oh!

Friday, November 06, 2009

The People of Wal Mart

While I should be blogging about the many other pertinent issues of my day, walk-a-thon, reading to Maggie's class, the joy and pain of the triple playdate, I am instead wasting way too much time at this site:

It's unreal. And goes on and on. The pages around the 20's and 30's are especially good though really, it is all good. Credit and blame to Jerry for bringing this distraction into my life. As if Goths in Hot Weather was not enough to keep me busy.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Maggie, The Patriot

While I very much wanted to go to Washington DC today to protest socialized medicine, Maggie had an entirely different view of patriotism and it involved going on her field trip and (most importantly) eating McDonald's for lunch! So I left my rabble rousing intentions and let her go to the Veteran's Hospital where they performed a series of all-American songs that we saw the night before.

While I fully prepared to forgo the video as I rarely edit it and my short comings in the film production department make me feel more guilty than they should, fraught was there to remind me that I could always edit them in the future when I had more time. So again, I viewed a performance through the tiny screen of my camcorder. Though since Tim was working, he may appreciate the nudge in the direction of videographer.

Much to my surprise, Eion was largely well behaved and relatively quiet. I can't say he was more disruptive than the Grandparent looking types who decided Yankee Doodle was the perfect time to catch up. Loudly.

Maggie was an also ran for this one but seemed to know her songs and was very happy to be the center of attention. But since I was video taping, I wish she could have scratched (oh and maybe just a bit picked) her nose less. When I (nicely) brought this to her attention, she let me know, "I had to. There was something in it." Call me silly, I don't think a career in stage is for her.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Halloween, by Maggie

Maggie's description of Halloween to her Grandmother: "I kept going up to houses and they told me how beautiful I was. After five or six, I figured it must be true."

Best School Picture Ever

I don't know what I love more, that he wanted to wear the hat or that they took the picture this way.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Time for Choosing

I am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.

It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, "We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government."

This idea? that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream-the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, "The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits."

The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, "What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power." But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we're always "against," never "for" anything.

We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. However, we are against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments....

We are for aiding our allies by sharing our material blessings with nations which share our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world.

We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward I restoring for our children the American Dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take him....

But we can not have such reform while our tax policy is engineered by people who view the tax as a means of achieving changes in our social structure....

Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? . . . Today in our country the tax collector's share is 37 cents of -very dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last.

If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what's at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. Winston Churchill said that "the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits-not animals." And he said, "There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.

Ronald Reagan, 1964

Don't forget to vote Tuesday.

Planning for Next Year.......

My brother, Dominick, made this Halloween costume:

(He does work in a costume making shop!) While I'm not leaning towards Iron Man, I already have a call in to have him help me come up with something great for next year.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Night

After counting down for weeks, Halloween was finally here! Since we didn't want want a repeat of the night before with the stripping of costumes and all, we convinced Eion to switch his costume to the more comfortable and trick or treating friendly Indiana Jones.

Before going out, we went to Brad & Sarah's to meet up with other families who lived in similarly unfriendly trick or treat routes. We had pizza and grabbed some adult beverages for the trek.
There is a street in the neighborhood, Stanley, that is the most popular destination in the 'hood but for me, it is too busy to keep track of three kids. Our plan was to cover the White Oak - Brightwood loop. We've done this for the past several years and it has always been well populated but not too busy. And it was always just about the right length.

But no more! The kids sprinted from house to house, gathering their booty, hitting all the residents before it even got dark. Hence, all the blurry pictures.

Poor E was not feeling in top shape so after a half dozen stops, he and Tim bailed and went to Lori & David's house to hang out and wait for our return.

The children's speed forced us to expand and also visit Clydesdale and Allendale which were both heavily populated with friendly faces, both at the houses and in the streets.

We finished with heavy bags, tired children and wet shoes. Tim & I took the kids home, left them with a sitter, and went to see Lyle Lovett and his Large Band. I thought it would be ok but it was completely awesome. I knew very few songs (most were off his new album,) but it was a great show anyway. Highly recommended for all.

Overall, A+ for Halloween!