Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And the Award Goes To....

For husband of the year, Timmy. I told him I "needed" to buy a necklace to match my dress for Book & Author. He suggested getting a bracelet too. He's a good guy...

Sister vs. Sister


So when the kids said they wanted to have a picnic, I didn't think they wanted it in the driveway. But they are outside - baby steps.

Maggie has a book report coming up and it has to be a biography. So did she pick a nice 10 page book like her friends? Hell no. She went with the 65 page, 3rd grade level book her sister used for the wax museum on Deborah Sampson. And she is reading it aloud to me. I'll give her one thing, she is determined to catch up to Morrigan no matter how many hours of reading to me it takes. We're in the home stretch now with only 10 pages to go.

And on a side note, while I appreciate that Deborah was tough enough to cross dress, fight in the Revolutionary War and remove a bullet from her own leg, she is not doing much for the stereotypes of women by setting off to join the army and getting lost on the way there. C'mon sister!

Monday, March 29, 2010

So Long Sippycups!

We have passed another milestone. This morning, we threw out the remainder of our sippycups. Normally, I try to hand things down but after 5 years + of constant use, they were more than a bit mangy. Since E gave up his hot milk and the lot of them felt they could have sports water bottles in their rooms, we didn't need the sippycups anymore. You know, I thought I would be happier. But it seems like everyday there is another reminder of how my babies aren't babies anymore.

Granted, some of these reminders are awesome. Like when the kids get up on their own and get breakfast without me being involved. I am a much happier person when I get to sleep in a bit on weekends.

Others just make me sad. Like when we were looking online for the girls' Easter dresses. I showed Maggie a darling one with bunnies smocked in the bodice and she told me, "No way! That's a baby dress!" And she didn't respond well to my argument that she was still my baby. Which she will remain, whether she likes it or not.

Time Wasted

OK, I have just wasted more time than I like to admit at Emails from an a**hole. This guy is hilarious. He finds ads online and sends people emails essentially baiting them and seeing how long he can get them to reply. I think my favorite was the disguised weapons exchange. Fair warning, this site is NSFW and full of obscenities but one of the funniest things I've seen in a while.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Triple Threat

Today was one of those days where I attempted to get all the kids entertained at the same time. First off, Maggie. That was an easy one since she had a birthday party to attend at the Greenridge Rec Center, home of what I hear is a fantastic indoor pool and waterslide park. Jenny offered to take her and bring her home so I took on Colston for a few hours which, conveniently, took care of E.

Now Morrigan. We arranged for a classmate of hers to come over. Check, check and check. Would it all work out...

Maggie had a blast. [Surprise, surprise.] She was doubly thrilled that there was a slide with height limitations that many of her friends did not meet but she did. "Almost none of the girls were tall enough for the big slide!"

Eion and Colston were immediately off to battle and checked in intermittently to give me body counts. I had no idea the serious threat we were under from all fronts. But they single handedly dispatched hundreds of enemies, making us all safe again.

You just knew it wasn't going to be three for three. Morrigan's friend is an only child and labors under the illusion that I am an active participant in playdates. No sweetie, I am here to mediate fights, make popcorn and do laundry. After all, today is clean sheet day. She also seemed to think I needed status updates every ten minutes or so. While a nice girl, very high maintenance.

But I have this feeling after she reports out on her ride home, she may not be back. Her Mom seems, well, protective. She hasn't let her read the Harry Potter books yet. I am certain she will be thrilled that her daughter's ride home was sound tracked by E & Colston belting out Ludacris. How low can you go? How low can you go?

And then we got to discuss how sucking your thumb could give you swine flu (thanks for the info C.) Eion proceeded to start spitting in a misguided, and very wet, effort to expel said flu. Good times.

Friday, March 26, 2010

You Know, I Can't Even Come Up With an Appropriate Title

[As we are prepping for Easter pictures this afternoon:]

Eion: Look at how many inches I am!
Me: Yes E, you are getting very tall.
Eion: No Mama, my crank.

Oh dear lord.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Maggie Loses Her First Tooth

The big day for Maggie finally came. Last night she lost her first tooth. As a somewhat sporadic Tooth Fairy, I felt it very important to get her first one right. So I managed to sneak in the $1 before they went to bed so there was zero chance of forgetting. Quite proud of myself for being so proactive, I tucked a beaming Maggie into bed. At which point she told me, "I know it's you. I heard you open the cupboard the time you forgot." Hmmm.

But she was happy in the morning regardless. And apparently there is a big paper tooth in the classroom they get to sign when they lose a tooth and she has been waiting all year to add her name. A milestone indeed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ironic

So last night I went to a cocktail party. Before said party, I gave myself strict instructions not to talk politics. Because nobody likes to be out, having a good time and get cornered by the person ranting like a lunatic about Washington.

I was the first person to arrive. The next people to arrive and I were talking and one of the first things they asked was "So what do you think of the healthcare bill?" D'oh! But I gave my opinion, succinctly, I swear, and then recommended a change of topic. And true to my pledge, didn't discuss it again all night.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Healthcare

For those not in the mood for politics, just click away now. Y'all know I occasionally get all political here and today is one of those days. No apologies.

Last night I was at dinner with several people of various political persuasions. Someone commented that they had no idea what was in the Healthcare Reform bill. Ann told them, somewhat warily, that she was sure I did. Well, she was right though I did show remarkable restraint in not going into a long diatribe then and there. But I found it concerning that people on both sides of the aisle didn't know the details on something that will greatly impact each and every one of us.

So here goes. It is too large to get into all the details, but here are a few highlights of what the government has crafted to "help" us.

Taxes: This bill is loaded with taxes. More than I can enumerate here. But rest assured, they're not just on the $250K+ earners. The tax on medical devices (think pacemakers, canes, wheelchairs) applies evenly to the whole population. Another fun new tax, the Medicare tax on investment earnings (coupled with an increase in the Medicare tax on income of 0.9%.) Now these are stated as taxes on "high income earners" but really, you don't think they'll expand it once it is law? The income tax was once said to be a "millionaire's tax" (in early 20th century dollars no less.) I'm pretty sure each and every one of you is paying income taxes and most of us aren't millionaires.

Cost: Actually, I don't need to site many numbers here. Obama, Pelosi and the DNC are all running around with a preliminary CBO (Congressional Budget Office) number that says this bill will cut the deficit. Child please! All you need is common sense to know that you don't pass a massive new entitlement program and spend less. It's insulting that they expect us to believe it. And if we want to get all technical, the way they achieved the number from the CBO was an accounting trick by which they plan on collecting the taxes in the bill for four years prior to one dime of benefits being paid out.

Implementation: Yeah, you read the last sentence correctly. This bill, touted as necessary right now and can't wait, doesn't have a benefit for four years. Unless you consider paying taxes a benefit.

Job Growth: Yes, this bill will cause job growth - 17,000 new IRS agents will be needed for its enforcement. If you enjoy dealing with the IRS for your taxes, get ready to add them to the healthcare mix as well!

Insurance mandate: How does this bill change the number of uninsured? The centerpiece is an individual insurance mandate. [Which is widely believed to be unconstitutional.] This means the government is ordering you to buy insurance. You know, I don't really want the government to tell me what I have to buy. It's unconstitutional and tyrannical.

Future uninsured: If this bill is implemented, it is estimated that there will still be 17 million uninsured. Seems like a hell of allot of taxes and bureaucracy for such poor performance.

Certainly, this list is no where near exhaustive. Just some of the points that irked me the most and I thought might be things you hadn't heard. And to those who are saying that there is good in there too, there are items like the provision that makes insurance companies cover those with pre-existing conditions. But I would counter that the bad very, very heavily out weighs the good.

One thing that is very, very bad: The Process. What the Democrats are planning to do on Sunday is pass a bill with changes to the Senate bill and "deem" the Senate bill passed (aka the Slaughter solution.) What does that mean? They are not going to have an actual vote on the Senate bill, as required by the Constitution in order to make it law. They are just going to deem it passed. Sound like you're in some sort of bizzaro world? Welcome to healthcare reform. I don't care which party is doing something like this (and I know the Republicans used this to raise the debt ceiling once, it was wrong then too,) it is unacceptable. Just saying bills and laws have passed without a vote is the kind of thing that happens in Banana Republics. It shouldn't happen in the United States. Ever.

Surprisingly, even The Washington Post, not known as a bastion of Conservatism, agrees with me on this one. They call the process the Democrats have been using "unseemly." When the right wing extremists and the liberal media agree that your process is suspect, you might just want to reconsider it.

No one thinks the system needs to be left alone. No one is in favor of the status quo. But this bill will not fix healthcare. AT ALL. And it should be laid to rest.

Alright, alright, I'm almost done. To wrap up, I want to tell you about a conversation I had last night with a collage friend who visited (also liberal - what is it with me and ultra liberal friends sheesh.) We were talking about the DC housing market and how it was kind of an anomaly because every two years there was an influx of new people. I commented that I thought the influx this November would be especially large. Emily felt/hoped I was wrong but thought that the passage of Obamacare would work in the Democrats' favor. While I lack a crystal ball, I think this bill passing, or more correctly, being deemed, will result in a political bloodbath for the DNC in November. I can save the Republicans millions on campaign strategy. They will only need one word: REPEAL.

But the vote is not until tomorrow and lord knows I love a good fight. Want to join in?

Congressional switchboard numbers: 877-762-8762 OR 202-224-3121 OR 202-225-3121.
Visit Code Red for an up to the minute vote count and a list of Congressmen to target with calls and emails.

And now back to your regular Big Top programming.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reflections

Last night was the Reflections award reception. The girls both placed City-wide (Morrigan 1st for The Dance and honorable mention for photography and Maggie 2nd for photography) and they were very excited to go. Though I think this was largely due to seeing the invitation that included the word "refreshments" [read: cookies.]

It was scheduled to start at 6:30 so we showed up promptly at 6:25 and were ushered into the auditorium where, much to my children's dismay, there was nary a refreshment in sight. We then waited. For 20 minutes or in the eyes of the under 10 set, forever. Then a musical performance. Then two readings. The kids were already complaining of boredom.

When they finally got started, they called each and every winner up on stage, individually. There were in the neighborhood of 100 of them.


Eion cheered loudly, very loudly, and cat-called for the first dozen or so and then lost steam and became very hungry. Luckily, we were towards the front of the program and were able to scoot out to the cafeteria fairly early where I took a pass. Just can't really get on board with buffets from unknown sources.

And in the final chapter on The Dance, we found out it placed 3rd at the regional level. Sadly, only first place moves on so its epic run is now complete.

First Date?

OMG. I think I was just witness to my daughter (Morrigan) getting asked out on her first date. Now, she has shown little to no interest in boys, other than a long standing, somewhat inappropriate obsession with Kenyon. But this afternoon, we got a phone call. It wasn't a number I recognized but I was feeling adventurous and picked up. It was a boy named Aidan in Morrigan's class. He asked to speak with her and after a few moments, she asked if she could go to the Transportation Museum. I said sure and he indicated he would call back with further details.

So I asked if anyone else was going, thinking it might be a group from their class. Nope, just her, him and his parents. I asked her, "Did you just get asked out on a date?" To which she said "Ewww! It's just a playdate." Can't wait to see how this shakes down.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Maggie's World

Maggie is one of those people with a perpetually sunny disposition. It is easy to make her happy and she finds joy in some of the most unlikely places, spelling being one. I'm quite sure it's a genetic trait, though she didn't get it from Tim or myself!

So anyway, on the way to school, Eion, who resides firmly in the other personality camp, was debriefing me on his plans to run away (I made him wear a hoodie to school) and live in the bushes up and down our street. Well versed in oppositional Eion, I refused to take the bait and started going on about how we could give his room to Maggie and how I hoped a nice family would start feeding him, like a stray cat.

Maggie added, "All families are nice. I'm sure everyone will feed him." It's nice in Maggie's world. Either that or she really wants her brother to leave so she can take over his room.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Dentist

All three kids went to the Dentist this week. We were cavity free (yeah!) but still on track for three sets of braces (boo!) The hygienists always laugh and wonder how they manage to do their job when the kids talk. The entire exam. But somehow they examine a moving mouth.

Both Maggie and Eion, committed life-long thumb suckers, were admonished for hanging on to their crutch. Mags, on the cusp of losing her first baby tooth, seemed to take the warning that continued digits in the mouth would lead to a more unpleasant braces experience. She told me solemnly that night that she was going to put her blanket on the shelf. When I asked why, she said she was going to quit sucking her thumb. Genuine relief spread over her face when I suggested she keep the lovey but ditch the thumb.

Eion, naturally, is another matter. The logic of braces is too far off and unreal to him. As he went to bed, thumb firmly planted in his yap, I told him he had to stop on the orders of the Dentist. Curling up in a fetal position he cried, "I don't know how to quit!" Little addict.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Tim or Super Supper Club Steps Up

As if a day at Franklin County weren't enough, Saturday was also Tim's birthday and we were hosting Supper Club. Seeing as we are just a few days shy of St. Patrick's Day, we went with an Irish theme making bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, and lots of Guinness and Harp beers!

For the sake of the kids' sleep, we ate in the basement which, with the wood floors, is significantly less dank than in the past. Our guests really stepped up with Kirsten and Tom coming in from West Virginia. And we had an attendee in active labor! Jen insisted that it was false labor but her baby girl born a day early begs to differ. We agreed if the baby was born that night, they should call it Tim. But she waited until the next day to be born (luckily) escaping that fate.

And after all the weekend's activities, our whole family was happy to have nothing at all to do on Sunday.

Farewell OM

After getting to "enjoy" Odyssey of the Mind meetings all winter long, we have finally crossed the finish line! In a last push of meetings and practices, we prepared for the big day. Friday, Maggie's team performed in front of the school.

The good news: no one imploded or freaked out. And after seeing the other primary team, their skit was just about as non-sensical as our own. (With no offense meant to the other team. I think this is just what happens when 6, 7, and 8 year olds are in charge of everything.) Bad news is our talk on using a stage voice didn't take and it was like a pantomime.

The venue on Saturday was smaller and had fewer competing sounds so when they were in front of the judges, things went better than the day before. When it was all over, a few of the parents were looking at me a bit stunned as if to say "That's it?" Yes indeed it is. Months of meetings, jacking up every Sunday and when we were really lucky, other days of the week too, all for 3 minutes in front of an audience that consisted of the parents and two judges. Made it all worth it huh? [In case you are missing my sarcasm, which you really shouldn't be since it is dripping, nay pouring, out of my keyboard, some of us didn't really find it worth it.]

Morrigan's team moved this year from the non-competitive primary division into the next level which contains something called "spontaneous." I have no earthly idea what it is and the kids were instructed not to tell us until after "Worlds" in the summer.

What I do know is it meant I had to get Morrigan there at 9:30am for that portion and then loiter around the hallways of Franklin County High School for three+ hours until their performance. I hadn't seen Morrigan's team yet and was pleased that it went off without a hitch. Haven't heard if they won which I am going to assume means they did not. But they had fun.

Now if I can just talk them out of doing this next year.....

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hurts My Heart

I know that no one ever said motherhood would be easy. Certainly this was painfully obvious right from the start when after going through one of the most trying physical experiences of my life, they then shipped me off with a crying baby who seemed hell bent on me never sleeping again. And even though it seems like the hardest thing you've ever done, you know worse is waiting just around the proverbial corner.

We just got to go around that corner.

Morrigan has been complaining that the bus ride home makes her stomach hurt all year. While I sympathised, her school and Maggie's release at the same time and there is no bus that will take Maggie to Highland Park so I told Morrigan she'd have to suck it up. Found out the other day that this probably wasn't a case of car sickness when she told me how no one will sit next to her on the bus. Ouch. Now I know damn well I can't do anything about this, intervening will only make it ten times worse, but it just made my heart hurt when she justified it saying she didn't really mind being all alone.

Then today she burst into tears saying she had the worst day ever because one of her male classmates called her fat. Now, the girl is many things, but she is not fat. And while we spent lots of time hugging, discussing her non-fat status, and how that particular boy has some very ape-like qualities, I know full well that my opinion and all my positive reinforcement can be demolished in one comment by a peer.

I knew this was coming and should be happy it didn't happen sooner. For so many years Morrigan just existed in Morrigan world, a place where no one seemed to be able to hurt her. She was blissfully oblivious to her awkwardness and floated along, queen of her domain. But her world has been invaded and I imagine it is going to get worse before it gets better. And while I may want it to be, motherhood isn't easy.

And More Cookies


Morrigan arrived home today and asked if we could make cookies for some fiesta tomorrow at school. I was unable to ascertain whether or not she had actually volunteered these cookies or if it is an optional activity so we fired up the stand mixer. Everyone had a job, some more useful than others. Maggie unwrapped butter. Morrigan cracked eggs. Eion looked into the blender bowl and repeatedly said "Blah!!!!"

Penny Market Day

So the other day Morrigan's class had Penny Market Day. It was essentially an Economics project and they had to come up with a product, make said product, create a tri-fold board for their booth and sell their items on market day. Morrigan teamed up with a friend and they made Cookies in Paradise which were cookies that had blue icing on them (representing the ocean) and a gummy bear "surfing" on a piece of a chocolate bar.

Although I don't know if all the kids invited their parents, it was very important to Morrigan that we come. It was fairly claustrophobic and I have very little need on the whole for paper fans, pet rocks and temporary tattoos but the kids had a great time.

My only objection overall was that in their list of costs, they didn't have to include anything they had at home. So Morrigan only had to detail the items we bought like gummy bears and blue icing. Some kids, having assembled their product entirely from items they had on hand, listed their costs as nothing. I'm going to have to pull rank here and, as a degree holder in Economics, say that I found this jacked up.

Almost as jacked up as the fact that in a market flooded with sweet treats, we ended up many leftover cookies in paradise that, in spite of their 6 days of age, my daughter won't let me throw out. They are 2 for $0.50. Want some?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Superior Morrigan

Did I say Morrigan was going to flame out at the piano competition? Well serve me up a huge plate of crow! Certainly I had reason for concern. A call from her teacher was bad enough but all the way there Morrigan talked about how she was going to get the lowest grade. She actually didn't want to go at all but I bribed her with the prospect of wearing her new Easter shoes. She was concerned that they were white and it is before Memorial Day but I assured her it was simply in bad taste, not illegal.

So Morrigan went in and scored a Superior, the highest marking. Way to prove me wrong. You can do that daily honey.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Soundbites

Maggie: My Mom makes me work so hard and clean my room every single day.
Megan: My Mom does too. And she makes me clean toilets.

Tim: Hello student 499983! (Eion's bag has a tag with an assigned student number from school.)
Eion: I am student 499983. Yates is student number 499980 and zero is nuffing.

It's Not Actually Friday, Is It?

This week has flown by. And after a great run (thank you James Hetfield et al,) I am feeling it! Speaking of the gym, there are a few things I need to cover here in no particular order:

If you are over a size 2, I have to strongly suggest that you do not wear large print messages on your behind. Just trust me on this one.

The signs on the track asking slower runners and walkers to stay on the inside of the track most indeed does mean you guy who chose to lollygag on the left my whole run.

How wrong is it that the gym's vending machine sells not one, but two varieties of pork rinds? If you are capping off a workout with fried pig skin you are missing the point.

But back on track, sort of anyway. I am all rambly today. We hit a major milestone this week. The whole family went to see Percy Jackson and the really cumbersome title and everyone sat and watched the movie, start to finish, without complaining. While it may seem insignificant to you, this opens up a world of cinematic opportunity for us.

It snowed, again, this week. But much to my children's dismay, Roanoke Schools manned up and didn't even call for a delay. Take that children!

The girls have been embroiled in all sorts of extra Odyssey of the Mind practices which, thank god, is over next week. It may make me a very bad Mom to say this, but I was so happy Maggie has already decided she doesn't want to do this next year. (Meaning I'm off the hook for coaching.) She said, "It just wasn't that much fun." My sentiments exactly.

And speaking of being a bad Mother, I got a call from Morrigan's piano teacher Wednesday letting me know she had not memorized her piece for the Spring Festival which, unbeknownst to me, is Saturday with a practice, also a surprise, on Thursday. Son of a bitch. So we've added several tear filled practice sessions to our week so she can compete on Saturday and likely, unfortunately, go down in flames. Just the positive reinforcement for which I have been looking.