Friday, April 22, 2011

The Magic is Gone

We are missing, for the first time in our kids' lives, the Club Easter egg hunt. There was much crying and gnashing of teeth, mostly on Maggie's part. And while it would not seem a suitable substitute, I told them the Easter Bunny knew we were going to be busy so he was coming early - complete with egg hunt.

After school, they came home and found their baskets and eggs strewn throughout the house. (It was raining, making an outdoor hunt unsavory.)

They were all thrilled with the contents including Squinkies (I had never heard of these but they are apparently all the rage), chocolate bunnies, lego, Moshi Monsters memberships and a gun for E.

When it was all done, about 2 minutes flat, Eion said "The Easter Bunny really did come early." To which Maggie responded, before we could intervene, "No he didn't Eion. It was just Mom and Dad." Hope you weren't too attached to that innocence E.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

She's Got Her Number

So recently winter swim season ended. Morrigan said "Hallelujah!" and retired. Maggie though, she was in the sights of Coach Marcia.

I see Marcia all the time at the gym and she mentioned, knowing Maggie was going to swim this summer, that she should come over to Gators for April and May. And I, having decided I was most definitely NOT going to micro manage the kids' activities any longer (save the non-optional piano), let her know that I would tell Mags about it but ultimately, it was her choice.

Maggie, after flipping and flopping and flipping again, did commit to two days a week for the months before summer.

And she loves it.

I think we have to consider that the absence of her sister's hate of swimming and overall negative attitude towards the sport as a factor but by and large, I just think Coach Marcia has her number. She's got Maggie all hyped up about making "B" times and going to big out of town meets. Maggie leaves practice and tells me excitedly how she swam 200 yards with six flip turns and got, wait for it, a Twizzler! She has long conversations with me about how the coach says she is a natural breaststroker and she has potential. Mags lets me know how, if she works hard, she will get more first place ribbons and trophies.

Today we arrived at the pool and she turned to me and said, "I just love being a Gator."

I know her coach at Marlins cared about her and I found her to be an excellent instructor. But Marcia, she has Maggie, and what motivates her, all figured out. I couldn't be happier.

On a side swimming note, Eion has finally, after forever and a day, graduated from private lessons to the "Shrimps" who, while largely populated by kids 1-2 years younger than him, are a step up. Coach Brett and I discussed it and decided he was ready to take the plunge (da dum dum - couldn't help it) and I presented it to E as he had moved up. No discussion, no arguments, he just went with it. And, to the surprise of the entire universe, didn't complain about the addition of an extra swimming day. So far, he's been very enthusiastic about swimming with "those guys."

As for me, I am just going to enjoy the special star under which it appears I am currently living.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Movie Night

So what would possess a relatively sane person to spend Friday night at the movies with six kids?  Well, it just kind of happened...

Morrigan, who has many mates outside the bubble, is very often gypped on the playdates. So I suggested she have a friend over after school and we would go to the movies. Seeing as Tim was working, the plan was that Maggie, E and I also go but, in deference to the pre teen desire for Independence, would sit in a separate location. 

First to object was Maggie, who called foul and begged for Megan to go too. Ok, ok, she can come too. Then Eion, seeing injustice, said it wasn't fair he didn't get to bring anyone. Losing all sense of self preservation, I said what the hell, I love boarding the train headed for most certain disaster. 

Though not being a complete fool, I did make E choose a friend who I was sure would make it through a movie. He picked Luke, who is also a friend of Maggie and Megan, which added one more possible pitfall. Would he be ok with E or would he want to be with the girls his own age?

Ah the peril, she was boundless.

You know what? To the surprise of everyone involved, or just me, the execution was flawless. Granted, I plied each twosome with a huge bag of popcorn and a billion ounce soda (caffeine, sugar and all - sorry parents) but I have been to many a movie not saved by the snack bar. As the movie started up, Megan leaned over to Maggie and told her, "This is the best!" Morrigan and her friend even chose to sit with us.

And the movie was cute to boot. The central character is a parrot who can't fly. At a critical moment, [spoiler alert] he has to spread his wings to save the day. Mags  sat next to me and chanted to herself, "Fly, fly, fly!" It was beyond cute.

We all had such a good time that I, punch drunk on the success, agreed to a Harry Potter movie marathon in the near future. [But only after Megan finishes the books - per her Mother's wishes.]

As I dropped off Morrigan's pal, an only child, her parents surveyed my enhanced brood and looked as though they thought I was crazy. Funny thing is, it was genuinely fun. In spite of the layer of popcorn on the floor of my car.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Swim Team Banquet

With the end of swim season inevitably comes the swim banquet. I asked the girls if they wanted to go hoping, nay praying the answer would be a resounding no. Sadly for me and the rest of the family, both Morrigan and Maggie, in spite of being warned that they were unlikely to win any special awards, were gung ho about attending. Yippee.

To make it even better, the days leading up to said banquet were gray and dreary, filled with rain. But as luck would have it, the day of the (indoor) banquet was sunny and beautiful with temperatures in the low eighties. Never a better time to be in a crowded dining hall! It was off to Hunting Hills Country Club.

The food was epically bad. And I say that as one who has enjoyed a fair bit of bad club food in her time.  Even the pizza was inedible. The children loaded up on saltines and "garlic bread," a term used very loosely here as it appeared to be wonderbread with some margarine and garlic salt. On a brighter note, the cake was pretty yummy, in a Kroger sheet cake kind of way, and the portions were generous. Eion's was the size of his head.

I was just glad I could charge drinks to our RCC account.

But to hear the recap from the younger set, it was tons of fun. The bad food didn't dampen their spirits (though they didn't get to pay $10 a kid for saltines and toast) and they played happily with all the other wee ones there. 

And let's not forget the all important trophy:

Never has a piece of landfill-destined personalized lucite been so treasured. Upon arriving home, they promptly placed the trophies in prominent locations, digging out swim trophies from seasons past to display along side the newly acquired treasures. 

While I can come up with just about one billion preferable Sunday plans, the kids had fun. So it's all worth it, right?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Avid Readers

Morrigan reads at a truly budget-busting pace. She wanted some new book the other day, which I made her buy with her own money, and finished it in a matter of about an hour and a half. Having devoured everything in the children's book section of the house, she keeps wanting to move on to the adult books. While I have no doubt should would be capable of reading Stephen King, there is a decent chance his books would scare the bejesus out of her and a 100% chance there is at least one scene involving sex and many scenes containing profanity.

So in trying to come up with some more advanced material that remains appropriate, I thought about the Lord of the Rings trilogy. To be very honest, knowing my status as Queen Geek is in jeopardy with this admission, I've never read them. I really, really tried but the hundreds of pages of walking around and the detailed discussions of first and then second breakfast couldn't hold me. But, I thought, since Morrigan is such a fast reader, she would be able to burn through the slower parts of the book and she is already predisposed to sci-fi/fantasy/horror.

She thought it was a great idea. I was on directly ordering used copies of The Hobbit and the trilogy.

They arrived yesterday and Eion decided he should read The Hobbit. Now, we all know E can't read yet but he stares at the pages intently and is carrying it everywhere, including school. This irritates Maggie, who decided she was going to read The Fellowship of the Ring, immensely. Her objections were quickly silenced when I reminded her of a couple of summers ago when she toted around Harry Potter books, at that time well beyond her abilities, and insisted she had read them all.

Truthfully, I don't think any of the kids, save Morrigan, is ready for these books. But let me tell you the unbounded joy I am experiencing as they try to "out-read" each other. Next up: math contests!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Family Tree

Morrigan had to make a family tree for school. It was pretty basic, generally only covering direct lines which is a good considering my Dad has eleven brothers and sisters and the director's cut is infinitely more complicated. Anyway, we went through and put in all the relevant info, some of which she found interesting, like great grandfathers sharing a name (Bernard), some horrifying, like the fact that I had lobbied (hard) to name her Wilhelmeina, after my grandmother. [We would have called her Mena - it would have been adorable.]

When we came to her Uncles, she questioned how to list them. I told her to put them as Uncle Dominick and Uncle Chris and link them as married.

"But are they married?" she asked.

"No, not legally since Wisconsin hasn't legalized gay marriage. But they consider themselves husbands and that is more important to me than the stamp of approval from a bureaucratic state office."

That was enough for her and she completed her project.

So then we are at the pool today as her brother and sister were swimming and I asked how her day went. "Fine," she said, "except when I presented my family tree everyone made fun of me. They laughed because I have two Uncles."

"What happened?"

"My teacher made everyone stop being mean and talked to us all about how that was ok. And she talked to me later to make sure I was not upset."

"Are you upset? Do you think they are right?" I asked.

"No, but I don't like being made fun of." she said.

"Would your life be better if Uncle Dominick had a wife instead?"

"NO! Then I wouldn't have Uncle Chris! I love them both."

And then she and I had a nice talk about not giving a rat's ass about what other people thought. [Just for effect, I really did use the term rat's ass.]

But the whole thing made me more than a little sad. Y'all know we are just about as conservative as it gets. Really, George W. is considered a squishy moderate around here. But a child raised in that most right wing of atmospheres is wholly accepting of an "alternative" lifestyle while the vast majority of kids in her class, from homes on both sides of the political aisle, were happy to mock and make fun. Maybe I am just overly optimistic in thinking we had all moved on from that. I hate that I am wrong.

But you know what did make me happy? That when we were discussing rat's asses Morrigan told me how she doesn't care if people are mean about her Uncles because those people are wrong and she loves them both.

And I do too.

Four Hours at the Transportation Museum is Overkill

E's class had a field trip to the Transportation Museum on Monday. I asked when I filled out the permission slip if he wanted me to go and he replied "yep!" Foolishly I signed up and arrived at the school at 9am only to find we would be there for four hours. 


Now, I think we have a top notch transportation museum. This is a railroad town after all. But four hours? I was hard pressed to see how you could be there for more than two. A teacher's assistant told me, "Oh yeah, this is the most boring field trip ever but it is free so the city makes us go." When I asked why she failed to tell me this in advance, she told me, "Duh, you wouldn't have come." Well played indeed.

And it was boring, for me and the kids. It should have been condensed to an hour or two. But E was happy I was there and truthfully, I bailed 2 1/2 hours in, just after lunch. Before I made my escape, I asked E if leaving would cause me to lose my Mother of the Year Award. He said "Yep!" Call me a bad Mommy, but I could live with that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pet Week

This week was Pet Week in Kindergarten. Much to the dismay of Jacques J. Kitty Witty, he got to be a part of it all. E was home (marginally) sick that day. I didn't think he was really sick but knew that if I sent him in, the school nurse would send him back to me, probably during tennis. So I kept him with me at the tennis shop home but determined he definitely was not too sick to bring in the kitty.

The cat did fine and tolerated the kids all taking turns petting him. And then it was the question and answer session which reminded me just how much I love Kindergarteners. The teacher asked, "Who has questions for Eion?" About half the hands shot up. A few had genuine questions - how old is he etc- but mainly, it seemed they just had their hands up to be in the mix. When pressed, they had no question. Or when you called on them, they would start off on a tangent, sometimes related, sometimes not.

When it was all over, Jacques was pretty happy (relatively) to get back in his carrier.

Not to change directions too much on you, but this was one of those times when I felt like we had moved on and a door shut. It was our last pet week. Granted, I skipped Morrigan's because, and I can remember thinking this clearly, you have to be frakking kidding me that you want me to waste part of my morning when Maggie (3) and Eion (2 and in full reign of terror mode) were at mother's day out and drag in our unwilling kitty. But as time passed and I was not as stressed by the rigours of motherhood, pet week was fun. And this one passing by made me realize that all of what E did was the last time through for us.

Not that I think the kitty minds a bit.

Family Day Sunday or Hiking in Danskos

So anyone who casually follows this blog realizes that Family Day is a euphemism for Mommy (and/or Daddy) has been overserved the previous evening and you children should fend for yourselves while we "rest." But today, family day was actually a family day. When pondering what to do, we determined that, after having lived in Roanoke for 12 years, we had never been to the Cascade Falls. Really, it's like living in Arizona and never going to the Grand Canyon.

We packed some water and snacks and set off for Pembroke. Sadly, minutes into our trip but just far enough away not to turn back, I realized that I had forgotten to put on my hiking shoes and was wearing Danskos. Oops. To save you the suspense, I made it but do not at all recommend it.

The hike was beautiful and family friendly. We had a couple of spills but the kids did well. 

What was really amazing was the overall lack of complaining. I was stunned. I think it was at least partially due to the fact that we armed each of the kids with a camera. They were all looking for good shots and engaged in their surroundings. 

Or maybe we just got lucky. Who cares. It went ten times better than we ever could have hoped.

To be sure, the cookies that were only available when we reached the falls may have also played a part.

We had an excellent afternoon. And based on the ride home, we'll all sleep well tonight.