Friday, December 21, 2012

Since It Does Not Appear the World Is Ending, I Guess I Will Blog

Ah today. The first day of Christmas break. The Winter Solstice. The Mayan apocalypse. Or for me, day number one billion and three of being trapped at home while contractors work on the bathroom. You'd forgotten that was even going on, didn't you? It has been an odyssey but that is for another day...

Not wanting my day to be completely wasted, I made some beef stew this morning. As with all food waste, I dumped the trimmed fat off into the woods behind the house. Then the birds came. I looked out the back window and saw several of these circling:

Turkey vultures. They were about the size of a medium to large dog. And with them came several hawks and a flock of crows. It appeared if the apocalypse was coming for us, it was flying in.

One hawk stayed around longer and was under siege by several of the crows. They would swoop down on him and peck him in the head.

It was like Wild Kingdom I'm telling you. 

So you can see how interesting our day has been.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cross at Your Peril

So if I weren't sure I would meet with defeat from the outset, I would completely go to war with the school district over crossing guards. We need to get rid of these ladies.

Stop, stop STOP already with the "But what about the children?" I am telling you, these ladies at my son's elementary school are making it decidedly more unsafe for everyone involved. Or at least increasing buffoonery. Let's look at today for examples.

At morning drop off, things were going swimmingly. Driving away, I thought, "My, this is the smoothest drop off and departure I've had in ages." Then I saw the crossing guard, who was just arriving and had been unable to f*ck up the morning traffic flow. I would add that zero children perished in her absence. Really, there are only about three people free range enough to let their kids cross the street alone anyway, and I drive so that leaves two. I think the parents of the walkers and the driving parents can agree not to kill anyone, just like at all other hours of the freaking day.

Except, of course, for pick up. Today, seeing as I had a hair appointment, I parked in a different spot than normal and had to encounter the other crossing guard. There were no pedestrians in sight and she was waving cars through the four-way stop. Without making them stop. Maybe y'all feel differently, but crossing guards are there to ensure the safe passage of our little darlings not to re-write the rules of traffic during their afternoon reign. Personally, I think changing the laws of the road increases the chance of a bad outcome exponentially. 

But knowing the reception my suggestion to ban the crossing guard would receive with the powers that be would receive, I'll just complain to you fine folks.

Rant concluded.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Government Gone Wild

Governmental over-reach is one of my very favorite topics and I can go on, ad nauseam, about it for longer than anyone really wants. (But if you're interested, just let me know!) This morning, I read an article online describing state action that was just too far and cried out for my reaction.

Cat fight pits government against Hemingway museum

Apparently, some busy body complained to the state of Florida regarding the care of the 50-60 cats who occupy the Hemingway House, a museum in Key West. I'm not really sure what they were on about. Having visited a few years back, those were some happy looking cats. They all were well fed and had their run of the property.

Ok, not everyone loved them.

Additionally, "Court documents note that the museum has always kept, fed, and provided weekly veterinary care for the Hemingway cats, and spayed or neutered most of them 'to prevent population beyond the historical norm of 50-60 cats.' "

So we have cats, (privately) well cared for, roaming free and in no danger. As far as we could tell, they also had all the rubbing they wanted from eager tourists.

We'd better get the state involved.

For the time being, the state of Florida has prevailed and the museum will be required cage the animals at night. That's right. Happy cats who pose no danger to Key West will now have to spend their nights locked up and countless hours (and dollars) will have to be spent tracking the felines down each night. Hemingway House will also have to be altered to provide "additional elevated resting surfaces." Not only will this change the physical nature of a historical landmark, creating even more expenses for the museum, but it is wholly unnecessary. Let me tell you, those cats had no trouble finding places to rest.

In these days of budget deficits, state and federal, maybe we should save the taxpayers some money and leave these sweet, six-toed cats (and their owners) alone.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When Tacky Reigns Supreme

Ah the Sweater Party. The idea of dressing up in unflattering sweaters as a premise for a get together borders on the ridiculous BUT when you have a group of friends with the creativity and enthusiasm we do, it somehow totally works. Due to all sorts of scheduling issues, we ended up on a Wednesday but the tacky spirit was not dampened one bit. 

Co-hostesses. Ann has on a skirt made of sweaters. Genius I tell you!
Mine is just run of the mill unflattering.

The sisters Shumate were three-peat winners for some of the best outfits there. Each and every year I wonder how they will top themselves but they always manage to do just that, and in grand style.

We feted at my house this year and the girls were excited to help out. They both found sweaters themselves in my deep closet o' Christmas and distributed voting ballots and took pictures as guests arrived. They were a little tired today but had a blast being with all the big girls. Eion, much like his father, chose to hide.

Here are the highlights....

While not a sweater, I loved Kate's vintage dress, 
direct from her high school days. 

Margaret Ann was among the several "light up" attendees. 
Extra points because she had to plug in, and did so throughout the night.

Seeking refuge in the family room. The kitchen was deafening.

While she had the option of borrowing one of my sweaters, Lee went creative. 
I found at least four of those ornaments around the house this morning.

Love the multiple reindeer antlers. 
And that red skirt is an honest to goodness tree skirt.

Vintage to the extreme. They wore these, together, in 1992.

I had friend remark that her husband had assured her she looked tacky but clearly, this party was beyond the normal levels. We were so proud. As I am tiring of simply rotating my girth-enhancing finery, I have a plan for next year. I have to keep it under wraps and, just maybe, give those three-peaters a run for their money!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

That's Some Kind of Society We've Cooked Up

In the whole it's-all-out-in-the-open-about-Santa time in our lives, Tim and I were talking about how odd many of these cultural traditions were if you stood back and looked at them objectively. I'll let you enjoy Tim's [paraphrased] rant:

"Really, what the hell is wrong with our culture anyway? It seems a large part of parenting and childhood centers around creating an elaborate series of pranks we play on the children that they remember so fondly that they can't wait to grow up and perpetrate the same hoaxes on their kids. Think about it. One more silly than the next. Let's take Santa.

Not Maggie's best year.

We tell our kids, and center large parts of a holiday around, a fat man who lives in the North Pole, which even young children know is inhospitable. Then that same man has nothing better to do than make toys all year, the culmination of which is him flying around in a sled with magical airborne reindeer so he can climb down your chimney to leave you presents. 

There is massive time and effort put into perpetuating this lie, with the outcome that for years children do not at all equate the hard work and sacrifice that might have occurred in order for their parents to shower them with gifts.

But Santa is only slightly more ridiculous than the Easter Bunny.

Too young to fight the hoax.

A rabbit, who becomes life-size when you see him at the mall or the Country Club, hops around and delivers baskets of candy. Again, no motivation here. That rabbit just thought a holy holiday needed some sugar. Delivered by a bunny.

The Tooth Fairy is a distant third in terms of insanity but still pretty darn crazy. The idea that anyone wants to give you money for your old teeth should be suspect right off the bat."

The man has a point. But my parade of pictures with fat men in red suits and large bunnies serves as testimony to my complicity in the lie. I'm expecting my kids will do the same someday. (Well, maybe not Eion. He likes to be oppositional.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

And With That, We Have Moved Into the Post-Santa Years

So the other day, I realized how very silly it was for me to keep all the Christmas loot "hidden" in my closet. None of the kids are Santa believers anymore and they all know that is where the gear is tucked away. Hence, we had the following conversation.

Me: Since none of you believe in Santa anyway, can I just put the gifts under the tree so I don't have to do it Christmas Eve?
Maggie: Sure! That way we can look at them all and guess what is inside.
Me: Not to spoil it, but I did shop based on your lists. When did you all stop believing in Santa anyway.
Morrigan: It was that year [two years ago] when all the tags had the same writing.
Maggie: Oh, oh then the next year Mom tried to fool us with the printed labels from Santa.
[Much laughter at my expense here.]
Eion: I never believed.

The genie, it appears, is out of the bottle.

Tim and I were quite surprised, seeing as the fat man has been outed, that all the kids were very enthusiastic about the Club's Santa brunch. But they do love a buffet and I am all for using up our minimum.

As we entered the Club, it occurred to me that we were entering the Zone of Believers. The last thing I wanted was for my kids to be responsible for dashing the Christmas hopes and dreams of a generation. They promised to keep the truth to themselves.

They did (as far as I know) and a good time was had by all. Eion was the only one who would sit on Santa's lap. Though many of the adults agreed, the girls were starting to get a wee bit to big for it. Just looks a little creepy. 

The only child willing to sit on Santa's lap.

They stood in line asking "Do we have to take a picture with Santa?" I told them no but they said they would do it anyway "just to make me happy." 

Picture taken under duress.

Eion went missing. We found him in the bar.

After lunch, the kids scattered and we went out on the patio to enjoy the unseasonably nice day. What seems like only minutes later, it was time to go and we were the last people leaving. Success.

Ned and Eion with the awesome pants.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Times They Are A Changin'

Actual phone call this week.

Morrigan: Mom, I need you to pick me up after book club at 5:15 and Igotaskedoutonadate.
Me: What? I didn't catch that.
Morrigan: I got asked out on a date.
Me: What did you say?
Morrigan: I said maybe. I need to interrogate him and you should meet his foster parents.
Me: Well I don't know that we have to meet his parents. What do you mean "interrogate?" 
Morrigan: I need to ask him about where he lives, what he likes and what he wants to do with his life.
Me: So Morrigan, as a veteran dater who found the love of my life and has been successfully married for 17 years, I have some advice for you. That is called small talk. It is what one does on dates.
Morrigan: Well I need to make sure I'm not wasting my time here. 
Me: Whatever dude.

Actual interaction this week:

[I enter the house and see Eion at the computer with a screen filled with code.]
Me: Eion, what are you doing?
Eion: I need to change this [Minecraft] mod to night but I don't know what value to put here.
Me: Well I have no idea how to write code so you are on your own.
Eion: Oh look. I made it work. Now I need to change some other things.

So in short, my baby is getting asked out on dates. By boys. And my son is a budding hacker. There are no words.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

In Which Eastern Healing Meets Western Medicine And Everyone Is Better

[The latest issue of the South Roanoke Circle is out featuring my article. 
The website doesn't have the link up yet so the text of is below. 
Hope you like it.]

We’ve suspected (read: known) for quite some time that Eion B. was either ADD or ADHD. The signs were all there, and had been for a long while. That being said, I was vehemently and, surprising no one, vocally opposed to medication. He would outgrow it, I was quite sure. And even if he didn’t, why on earth would we drug a poor, defenseless child simply to make our lives easier? Yes, I knew, drugs were for the weak, the lazy and the unfortunate children of bad parents.

The inability to focus that came with ADD plagued Eion in school last year. Round about mid October, it became clear that he was struggling. He couldn’t read. He spent his recess walking laps because he misbehaved or was guilty of some other transgression. [Offenses of which I am sure he was justly convicted. You don’t even want to know about the calls I received from the TAG teacher.] He described himself as stupid and a troublemaker. My baby was falling through the cracks.

But being the resourceful (stubborn) Mom I am, that WAS NOT going to happen. So, in a move that baffled all who knew me, we pulled him out and became homeschoolers.

While he still had the attention span of a gnat, I was able to control his environment and the pace and flow of learning. We made progress. And I patted myself on the back for resisting the urge to simply turn to medication, the easy way out.

After a successful year of homeschool, we contemplated the future. We were able to keep him current with his contemporaries academically, but being isolated was making the social issues even more pronounced. He needed some socialization. So it was back to public school, repeating first grade, with the idea that the academics would be easy this time around, leaving him free to use his energy for everything else. Only it didn’t work out quite like that, and his inability to finish work in a timely manner persisted.

There was one difference in my approach this year. I was open to drugs.

At some point during The Great Homeschool Experiment, I ran into a friend at the gym and regaled her with tales of the morning’s frustrations and how I finally decided E was DONE for the day. She told me a story about her son and it changed our lives.

Her son was ADD too. He was older and they had not tried the medications available until he was in high school. She told me how happy he was and how he said it was easier to learn, to concentrate. How his life was better.

It was then that it dawned on me. I had always looked at ADD medications as something for my, for the adults’, benefit. I had never even once considered that they might make the child’s life easier.

So when things were derailing this fall, we said yes to drugs.

I still felt like a traitor as I dissolved that first dose in a glass, my heart leaping out of my chest thinking about the possible side effects. Would it work? Would he be the small percentage that went the opposite direction and became more hyper? Or worst of all, would he be that infinitesimal percentage that could suffer a fatal cardiac response to the medication? And if it went wrong, could I ever forgive myself?

Not to ruin the dramatic tension, but Eion lived. And thrived. The medication takes away all the hyper, allows him to focus in on things but does not, as I feared, leave him a drooling zombie, devoid of personality. His teachers say he is like a different child. (I assume in a good way.) But what I trusted the most was his response. He told me that the world was “less noisy” and that it was easier to make sentences.

At which point I had to take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say I was wrong. My sweet little boy had been battling demons, had carried this extra bourdon, because I had been too proud to try medicine. I had judged all those parents and I was wrong.

Score one for Western medicine.

During the year of homeschooling, I hurt my back. The funny thing was, it was not a dramatic incident or anything. It just started to hurt and never got better. So I rested, gave up tennis, running and weight lifting.

Rest didn’t work.

So I went to see my doctor, who referred me to physical therapy. PT was a godsend and restored me to mobility, and some occasional tennis. Over the summer, I continued all the exercises with unparalled commitment – I was the world’s model physical therapy patient. But still, the pain persisted. There were days when even getting out of bed brought me to tears and everything I wanted to do was out of reach.

I went back to the doctor and had x-rays, a MRI and several more appointments. In mid September, I was offered the choice of spinal steroid injections.

Being a complete sissy when it comes to needles (funny, as I am married to an ER doctor,) I hedged. I called my primary care physician to see what she thought. Between when I called her and when we spoke, I decided to go to a RAC yoga class. It was core strengthening, much like PT, so what could it hurt?

The class was both humbling  and exhilarating. Had you asked me a year prior, I would have told you there was no way in hell that I could become less flexible. Yet there I was, gingerly moving between poses, sometimes only moving an inch or two into a forward fold. But, a gigantic but, I walked out of that class feeling better that I had, literally, in months. That day, for the first time in forever, I was pain free.

The next day, still on a yoga high, I knew I could not wait until the next Sunday’s class. (And that 5:45 am class at the RAC was out.) So I went to Uttara, a yoga studio about which friends had raved but I had never visited. And I kept going back, as often as I could. I felt great, both physically and mentally. [You may not know this, but I am a wee bit high strung.] Those precious minutes of shavasana left me clear headed and at peace.

Not long after my yoga epiphany, the reports of meningitis from tainted steroid injections came out. All I could think was, I was one appointment away from (possibly) being infected myself. That could have been me. As I told the studio’s owner all this after a class that left me feeling particularly zen, she hugged me and said, “You came to the right place.”

Score one for Eastern healing.

I guess E and I are still a little broken. He needs his meds and I need my yoga classes. Without our crutches, we both revert back to less pleasant states. But we’re healing, be it on an Eastern or a Western path.


Getting Over (But Only in the Most Legal and No One is Getting Hurt Way)

As you may have surmised from my last post, I came to a decision regarding the photo hosting/paying for the blog. I was thisclose to just ponying up the $30 a year. It would have 25GBs of storage space which should take care of me for about the next fifty years. There was no joy in this decision but I didn't want to migrate to a new blog every few years and, sadly, Blogger turned out to be about the best deal out there. (Wordpress has a different price structure that, for me, would be a tiny bit cheaper but mix in the bother of moving and it wasn't worth it.)

Then I noticed a little line in the user agreement that stated any pictures 800x800 pixels or less were not included in the storage calculations. Ooh - we may be on to something here. I tested it out with the last post and the picture of my sometime vegetarian daughter and lo and behold, it worked! I think the quality is fine for online viewing and no costly upgrade required.

Problem solved, no one hurt and I am not out $30 a year.

And then there is Ebates. [I have to give full credit to Amy over at fraught for clueing me in to this one.] Here's how it works. You go to there site and create an account. Then anytime you are online shopping, go to ebates first and see if the retailer you are using participated. If they do, you click through from ebates' site, are redirected to the site at which you want to shop. Then, based on the agreement each site has, you get a percentage of your purchase back. IN CASH. It varies from 1-20% but whatever - it is money I wouldn't have had otherwise. [They send out checks a couple of times a year.]

Ebates also tends to have coupon codes handy for your shopping pleasure. I just started using this for my Christmas shopping and have already racked up $50, all on things I was going to buy anyway. Magic I tell you.

So click through here and give it a try.

In the interests of full disclosure, I do get a referral of like $5 if you sign up and use it. But honestly, I would have written about it anyway - I love getting over (when it is legal and no one gets hurt.) And I promise, you will thank me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Semi Vegetarian

Maggie announced on Sunday night that she was becoming a vegetarian until Christmas. This from the girl who packs all manner of meat in her lunch - bacon, ribs, steak, and who comes from a family of committed carnivores. We had no idea from where this plan was coming, we only knew it was somewhat hilarious considering she finished her dinner of ribs before announcing her intentions.

The next morning, she packed up a lunch of salad, fruit and nuts. We warned her that being vegetarian would mean trying some new things, like fish or tofu, in order to have an adequate protein intake. No problem, she said. She was committed for the next month.

If she ate even one type of fish, I might have thought this would fly. I would be happy to cook more beings from the sea. [Which on a side note, I have never understood why fish are ok to kill but cows are not. Do those fish not feel I ask you?] But every type of seafood she has tried in the past, she has not liked. Seeing the long term unsustainability of her plan, I thought we might hurry along its demise.

While the rest of the family would be having pork tenderloin in black bean garlic sauce, a favorite, Maggie would be enjoying fried tofu. As we sat down to eat, she bravely cut herself a bite, a very wee one. She kept a pretty good poker face as she chewed and remarked, "Not bad." Then she devoured her broccoli, really, you have never seen a child, ever, attack a green vegetable with this vigor.

As the meal went on and her reluctance to have any further bites of tofu became apparent, I asked, "Are you sure you wouldn't like some pork-flavored tofu?" Sheepishly, she nodded yes and admitted she might rather be a semi-vegetarian, one who can eat pork, chicken and beef.

While her short lived fling with the dark side is now the stuff of family legend (we had steak flavored tofu last night,) I attempted to make her feel better by regaling my own doomed vegetarian days in the early 80's when I decided to become one in solidarity with Michael Jackson. I lasted just about as long as she did.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Last published on November 20th?!? The holiday really got away from me. We spent Thanksgiving with Ann & Hans and their families. It was with much hilarity that we found out both Ann's family and Hans' family each had some "crazy Republican friends" who spent many a holiday with them over the years. We were honored to be the CRFs 2012 and happily have stepped up to fill that void.

After dinner and football, we stopped by Casa Fraught for a nightcap. And everyone was thankful.

Eion brought home a school assignment went as follows:

I am most thankful for...
1) My Mom
2) My home
3) Drew
4) Andrew
5) Mrs. Witten

Now after a moment feeling a wee bit bad about the other family member who didn't make the cut, I realized how thankful the list made me. (Not just because I am on it.) Numbers 3 & 4 are both school friends and 5 is Eion's teacher. After all the anxiety associated with sending him back to school, holding him back etc., it was pretty nice to have three school related people make the cut.

On a side note, I have run out of free photo storage - AGAIN. I really don't want to migrate to a new blog every few years but I am exceedingly cheap as well. What is a blogger to do?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's the Holidays. Let the Battles Commence.

Many years, I am well prepared for Christmas cards and general holiday dressing.  Last year, for example, I had our picture all wrapped up in October. I think I had the cards ordered and ready in advance of Thanksgiving.

This year is not going to be like that at all.

The realization that I had no Christmas outfits for the kids or photo session scheduled or cards ready became a stressor very quickly. A First World stressor but stressor all the same. And so began the Search for the Dresses.

In years past, I was able to do this without any creative input from the children. They were, hence, darling and coordinated. Let's revisit those days now....

Just makes the heart sing, doesn't it? But those days are gone and I am stuck with children, at least two of whom, have opinions and boy do they want to be heard.

So I set them loose on the internet, conceding that while they did not have to match, coordination was still a requirement. Maggie quickly came back with this, her one and only choice:

It has Christmas written all over it and is plenty appropriate. Sold!

And then there were Morrigan's choices.

Uh, yeah. I'm not sure if anyone clued you in to this, but you are eleven, not nineteen. No sale. Enter high drama, tears and arguments that all her friends get to dress like this. My response that this would not be the last time I refused to let others' inappropriate choices influence me was not well received. At all. 

After much searching, negotiation and battling, we settled on this.

To be honest, not something I would have picked out BUT age appropriate and coordinating with her sister. Two out of three ain't bad.

Eion, bless his heart, will wear whatever I want. I showed him these pants and asked if he was ok with them.

Those are embroidered dogs with reindeer antlers.

With only the most cursory of glances, he declared them "Great!" After a few minutes at (which really has some great sales - all three rigs worked out to $111 total,) and we were set. Now on to the pictures. Happy holidays.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Today Was a Roller Coaster for my Self Esteem

We were very, very out of food this morning so it was off to Sam's Club for a cart choc full o protein, veggies and some wine. As I was checking out, the cashier ran the wine over the scanner and it beeped, demanding to know if I was of age. Normally, what happens then is a cursory glance which determines that, yes, she is plenty old and they continue the check out process.

Today, on the other hand, the cashier looks at me and says, "Can I see your ID?" I naturally snort and tell him I would be happy to show it to him, adding that I am always and forever glad to be asked, an occurrence becoming ever more rare. He reads my driver's license and looks surprised, adding, "I was sure you were 25."

Oh you sweet, blind Sam's associate.

After bringing my bounty home, I was off to the Hole in the Wall Lunch Bunch, a group committed to dining in the obscure, the off the beaten path and the potentially hazardous establishments of our fair city. As I paid for my (awesome) chicken burrito, the cashier remarked, "When you came in, I did a double take. I was sure you were Hillary Clinton"

There really is nothing that crushes one's self esteem like aging 40 years in two hours.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gone to the Dogs

Yesterday was fun. I'm sure y'all remember the crazy neighbor with the dogs running loose, right? After multiple calls from many neighbors, Animal Control decided to file a criminal complaint against my neighbor or, more specifically, her adult daughter who lives with her. No idea how they chose the daughter over the mother, maybe the animals were in her name, but didn't really care much either. One of the neighbors was subpoenaed to appear in court to testify and she called me to see if I would also come.

Uh, yeah.

So after weeks of waiting, yesterday was the court date. Now I hadn't set foot in the courthouse for twelve years, my last visit being over an expired inspection - I got off. My vague recollections were that it was not a very fun place but nothing was going to stand in my way. The directions I received were to go to 215 Church. I went into the first building I saw with this address. There should be only one, right?

Looking around, it seemed I might be in the wrong place. As I scanned for some civil servant with whom to inquire, a sweatsuited, flip flop wearing fellow citizen asked me where government office X was. (I can't remember exactly where she was headed - I was busy being lost.) So I politely told her that I was utterly clueless and was indeed lost myself. While she exited the building, I found a clerk who informed me I was next door to the Courthouse, which was where I needed to be.

Making my way out, I again found my sweatsuited friend, with two compatriots in tow. As if the previous conversation, which was, max, two minutes earlier, had never happened, they proceeded to ask me where government office X was again. I decided to go with the exact same answer, word for word. The irony was lost on them.

Arriving at the proper 215 Church, I passed through the security and made my way upstairs to find my destination. I rounded a corner to find a sea of humanity, many of whom seemed to be in pajamas. Were you playing the Sesame Street game, one of these things is not like the other, you would have instantaneously identified me.

Then I saw the Animal Control officers and found Officer Leone who, in addition to having been a lifeguard at the Club back in the day, was on a first name basis with me after all the dog run-ins over the past year. We chatted and my neighbor, who was also testifying, showed up, displaying visible anticipation. "Isn't this exciting!" she gushed.

As we were ushered into the courtroom and found seats, I quickly realized we were the only two people in the room who had positive feelings about the day and the Animal Control Officers. During the quickly resolved cases, most people just pled guilty, I heard mumblings all around me to the effect of, "That is the motherf***er who came to my house and busted me." Hmm, I was beginning to wonder if I might need an escort out.

When our neighbor was next in line to plead guilty, we were instructed to switch to another courtroom. Curses. At this point, my defendant neighbor, we'll call her Pam, saw me for the first time and delivered  what could best be described as a withering look.

The good news was that Pam was first up in the new courtroom as well. Before he even spoke with us, the Judge was letting Pam know how irresponsible she was. How most people would contain their pets after one visit from Animal Control and she had four complaints since September. Seriously, no one in the twenty cases I got to see before her had been dressed down this way.

He then asked if we had anything to add. I regaled him with our encounters from the last year including how the dog bit Maggie's foot (and their response was to post a "McKernans keep out sign,") how the dogs would chase the kids out of the street, trap them in the driveway, chase joggers, be waiting for me in the garage, and rip apart our recycling, spreading it in the yard. While I, politely, ranted, he shook his head and at one point facepalmed.

A hefty fine and a warning that next time is the last time and we were out of there. I do not, however, think I am winning any popularity contests with Pam.

On a side note, as I exited the courthouse, another person came up to me and asked where something was. In spite of being utterly out of my element, I clearly looked like I was in the know.

[PS Spell check seems to be on the fritz. If this post is riddled with errors, you can see how much I depend on it!]

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veterans' Day!

Eion's Boy Scout troop marched in the Veterans' Day parade downtown yesterday. The girls and I chose not to march with them and were just spectators.

You know, a bunch of boys, wielding sticks disguised as flags didn't seem like it was going to be my scene. And knowing their previous outings had been best described as Lord of the Fliesesque, we hung back. 

As they approached our viewing station, it became clear there was a front vanguard and back line in their formation. 

In between ran a wild pack of seven year olds, moving in erratic circles as the entire group made its way forward, occasionally slowing down in order to hurl candy at spectators.

I'm pretty sure I made the right decision when I sat this one out.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Eion brought home a paper entitled: If I were President.

"I would lower taxes. I would let coal miners go back to work. I would run the country. I would help the country. I would be a good President."

Maybe someday little buddy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Well That Didn't Go As Planned

I think it will make me as Captain Obvious as Wolf Blitzer was last night calling Vermont for Obama to say I am disappointed. And I considered a lot of things about which to write, including nothing at all.

I'm not going to dissect the Republican loss, plenty of others have if you want to read that. What I will do is write about what I am hoping.

I would love for the President to move to the center and form a coalition that was serious about cutting spending and reducing the deficit. That he would reform our disastrous and punitive tax code. That he would work with both sides to fix Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Were Obama to make a serious attempt at those things, I think he would win (grudging perhaps) support from the right. [Please note: serious attempt does not mean just raise taxes on the "rich."]

These are issues I think everyone, across the political spectrum, can agree need to be addressed.

So which path is it? We have taxmageddon, sequestration, and the debt ceiling all coming up in January.  Neither side can win with the branches divided by staying far right or far left. Compromise or more gridlock?

For all you dispirited Conservatives out there, I'll leave you with a tweet I saw this morning.

Moe Lane (@moelane)
11/7/12 6:04 AM
Yeah, I should note that: last night? #firstworldproblem. Large swathes of the world, I'd be sweating about meeting a mass grave right now.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Just Any Old Tuesday

Last night was E's Patriotic Performance. He was excited because he had a speaking part and according to him, "Only the smart kids get special parts." It remains to be seen if that is true but he did a fine job.

It was very clear his meds had worn off as he spent the entire show doing all the moves and singing but scowling at me the whole time. His music teacher asked me what was up with that. That, I said, is the Eion we get at home all the time. 

Eion's parent teacher conference was also yesterday. It has been a while since I went to one of these since I stopped scheduling them for the girls because, while it is super to hear your kid is smart and a delight to have in class, I have other things to do. Like blog. Eion's conferences through the years have always been more exciting, including the one last year that led to the Great Homeschool Experiment. 

Color me shocked when his teacher, who I love in a most desperate way, told me that E had been chosen for the talented and gifted pool. Now we know he is bright but the boy can do an excellent job of hiding it. Not to mention, after a few run ins with the TAG teacher last year, I was pretty sure he had burned his bridges. Apparently he redeemed himself when, after having missed the TAG day because we were at the beach, he volunteered to complete the math sheet that had been the assignment. He burned through it and was able to get more done than any of the other kids, without help. 

The TAG teacher gave him another shot and has since remarked that he is like a new boy. His teacher told me that she was completely sure we made the right choice in not only the medication but in holding him back. Whew. 

Morrigan had a choir concert at exactly the same time as E's show so I had to miss that. Tim said they were really good - hopefully I will see the next show. She tried out for All Districts Choir last weekend and made the team! [Is it a choir team? Anyway, she got a slot.] She is really excited. It felt good after hearing her practice to know it paid off for her. 

Oh yeah, and we voted.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Final Countdown

You know, I am really, really tired of the Presidential race. Not tired in that "I'm not going to vote" way, I mean, child please. But exhausted in the ways it has impacted my life and I don't even watch tv so I miss all those ads.

But I do get to enjoy radio ads and mailers constantly beating me with the WAR ON WOMEN. They are coming for your reproductive freedom! Quick ladies, we'll save you (and here are your free birth control pills.) Good Gaia, is that all you've got? You do realize that $4 and a trip to Target can take care of my "reproductive freedom," right?

I could also do without being called a racist. As Tim and I walked to our car with the rest of the attendees from the Romney rally Thursday, a protester, brandishing an Obama sign, yelled at us, "Why are you all white? Where are the black people? YOU ARE ALL RACISTS." [For the record, while the crowd was predominantly white, there were minorities there as well.] Sigh.

Then there are the kids. I constantly tell the kids not to talk politics. We discuss it at home but I tell them to leave it at the door. And for goodness sake, no name calling. If you do talk about it, issues only - there is simply no reason to lower yourself to personal insults.

But even the youngest ones can't avoid the political fray. Eion came home with a furrowed brow the other day. He was concerned, nay distressed, because Cecily, his sometime girlfriend but we'll cover that in another post, had told him that Romney was going to cut $700 billion from Medicare. No, I assured him, it is Obamacare that cuts $716 billion from Medicare. [I didn't go into the finer point that if they are telling the truth, they all will have to cut it because it is bankrupting the country.] In spite of my best efforts, he set off for school the next morning, determined to set Cecily straight. Ugh.

I brought it up to his teacher to make sure he wasn't being inappropriate but apparently, he and Cecily have all manner of deep discussions including religion and the existence of god. Good grief.

Maggie's class had a mock vote for President. I inquired how they knew about the candidates' views. She told me they had gone to Time Magazine for Kids online (thank goodness they were using an unbiased source snort.) Maggie certainly had the most even keeled approach to the whole thing. She was happy to vote a Republican ticket but had no interest in conversion of others. She told me, "I think most of them are voting for Obama but Stella and I didn't. Her Daddy is a doctor too and we knew the truth about Obamacare and taxes."

Then there is Morrigan who, much like her mother, has many very liberal friends. Pals who are vocal, even at this young age. According to Morrigan, [please note, I am aware that this might not be completely accurate] her friends have been bringing up politics at the lunchtable every day and are determined she see the error of her ways. She rejected my standard orders of "don't engage," insisting they would not leave her alone.

Her friends said Romney doesn't care about anyone, women in particular. He was going to make 14 year olds have babies.


So I told Morrigan they were probably referring to Romney's stance that abortion should only be used in cases of rape, incest, and endangerment of the mother's life. Then it got real.

Morrigan: What are rape and incest?
[Crap, crap, crap!]
Me: Well, rape is when someone is forced to get pregnant and incest is when a family member gets someone pregnant, like a Dad getting a daughter pregnant.
Me: Yeah, it is. That's why abortion is ok then.
Morrigan: What is abortion?
Me: Well, when someone is pregnant and the baby is very little, you can remove the baby.
Morrigan: And kill it?
Me: The baby is never born.
Morrigan: That is wrong. I can't believe that anyone would ever do that. EVER!
[Excellent. My daughter is to the right of even me.]

Needing desperately to get out of this conversation, I told her that it was silly to say either candidate didn't care about the American people. Of course they both do. [Which is kind of a lie as no politician really cares about us but I can't jade the child too much at age 11.] What we need to look at is the policies they plan to implement and vote for the person who aligns with where we want the country to go.

But she remained troubled by having no counter argument to the "Romney doesn't care" line. So I told her, you know what, let me tell you a story and you can see if you think one of the candidates doesn't care.

You see, I started out, there was this attack on our embassy in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. We don't know all the facts yet, but it is looking like the Situation Room at the White House was able, via a drone, to watch the attack, for seven some hours, in real time. The Ambassador, Stevens, had, weeks prior, expressed concerns about Al Queda ramping up and planning an attack. His requests for additional security were denied. On the day of the attack, the embassy asked for help. Their request was denied. Nearby at a CIA annex, Tyrone Woods, requested to enter the embassy and try to save the 30+ people there. He was told to stand down, twice. He disobeyed orders. He and another Navy Seal made the decision, which, had they lived, would have subjected them to a court martial, to try to save the people under attack. They did save 30 of them. Woods, Stevens and two others, however, died. While Washington watched in real time and sent no help. The following morning, Obama left for a Las Vegas fundraiser. So Morrigan, if your friends think there is a candidate who doesn't care about Americans, tell them about that.

I looked up and she was quietly sobbing. "How could they do that? How could they not help those people?" I hugged her and told her I didn't know. Having not meant to unnerve her, I told her not to worry about it. Don't bother telling anyone about it. Just don't talk politics at all.

Now, we all know she didn't listen. She came home moping, saying that her friends said there was no way that was true and even if it were, sometimes people had to die.

Wow. I was under the impression that Conservatives were the heartless ones.

Like I said, I am really, really looking forward to this being over.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mitt in Roanoke!

Ah the joys of being in a swing state. As Virginia's electoral votes are highly sought after, we have received visits from all the key players in the presidential election. The last time Mitt Romney came through, we weren't able to attend. But we could today! 

My favorite part was when Mitt said that Obama had people chanting "Four more years" but what we were counting down was "Five more days." 

Halloween (Parts I & II)

As I sat down to write this post, I was struck by how few pictures from which I had to choose. I think it is directly correlated to the speed with which the kids run as soon as we get to any Halloween party or trick or treating!

Stage one was the Club Halloween party. I continue to expect that the kids will out grow this event and they continue to prove me wrong. 

It was great. The adults congregated in the bar while the kids enjoyed the bounce house maze and (naturally) the candy. We knew times were changing when we looked up and noticed the lot of them had helped themselves to the buffet and sat down to dinner. Hooray self-reliance!

Last night, we had to vary our plans from years past. We have, since Maggie was a baby, gathered with a group of friends on White Oak and gone trick or treating there. BUT this year, Morrigan just had to go out with her pals on Stanley Ave., a busier neighborhood venue. 

Luckily, we had friends willing to let us have a home base there as well. It was more populous but not nearly the mad house I had heard. Not that the kids needed us anyway. They were like a precision candy-gathering machine.

All smiles with her buddies.

Eion refused to wear a coat and quickly lost all interest in going door to door.  It was a colder Halloween than it had been for years so I didn't complain a bit and took him to a friend's, where there was a full blown party in process.

After we regrouped, the kids happily traded their spoils and answered the door for the few stragglers. Morrigan reveled in being able to stay out later than her siblings. And Maggie declared it, "The best Halloween ever!"

Saturday, October 27, 2012

First Middle School Dance

You know when you officially start to feel old? When you drop your daughter and friends off at their first middle school dance. And by drop off, I mean slow the car to a roll and they leap out, making sure there is no chance you may follow, bringing social death with you. 

By all accounts, Morrigan had a good time. She was very pleased with the fancy side pony tail we did (with instruction from youtube.) No dancing with boys though because, really Mom, ewww.


So it was brought to my attention that I have been noticeably quiet on ye old blog these days. Guilty as charged. Much of it comes from a quiet October. The kids are all doing great. On the most recent round of report cards, there was only one B among them. But "look, aren't my kids great" doesn't make for very interesting posts. I've spent an inordinate amount of time doing yoga, which is keeping me mobile and zen but is also not compelling reading. For all this, I suppose I am glad as it means my life is happy and drama free. But apologies to those who stop by, only to be irritated that I haven't posted again. I'll do what I can to remedy the situation.

All month long I participated in The Independent's voter panel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Certainly, it made me watch more of the debates than I would have otherwise. By the last one, I don't think there was a single person in the nation that wasn't begging for the torture to end.

After the final debate, the reporter with whom I had been in contact said he was writing an article on ads being run in the swing states and asked if he could call me about the issue. I warned him that I really didn't watch tv much and endeavored to skip all the ads I could but he called anyway and we had a nice chat. He requested I violate my self imposed media blackout and watch a half hour of tv and document the political advertisements. I watched Good Morning America (which reminded me why I don't watch tv in the first place) and he included me in his article.

I did have to take a bit of an issue with the fact that it made it sound as though I watch GMA regularly but I can live with that. It was fun to feel like part of the whole election coverage process.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Grandparents' Day

While we didn't have any grandparents here for the Big Day (read: chance to buy books from the book fair for your beloved grandchildren,) Eion was happy enough with me there. His teacher had them fill out and read to the class a worksheet about what they would be like as grandparents. Here's Eion's, typos included.

When I am a grandpa, I will have five grandkids.

They will call me "grandpa."

I will teach my grandkids how to read. [This was a very popular response. He may have chosen it to be expedient.]

I will live in a hous. [One child was planning to live in a pool. Granted, he planned to be a retired lifeguard.]

I will be retired from being a bilder. [Most of his compatriots were planning to be cops. Looks like we will have no shortage of law enforcement in our old age.]

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stay the Course

Team McK has been busy in all the most unremarkable and uninteresting ways.

Eion, the medicated type, continues to rock the 1st grade. He will proudly tell you his (behavior ) clip has yet to move to the frown-y face since the introduction of vyvance. His only extra-curricular activities these days seem to be Minecraft related, but he is happy and aspires to grow up and be a real life miner. Or demolitions expert.

Tim and I have been attending tons of yoga classes. After nine months of intermittent pain, I've found that yoga seems capable of making that pain go away. I even had a day during which I did not take any Motrin (first time in I don't know how long.) Not to mention, I am feeling very, very zen.

The only real event of note was a lovely visit from my Dad. The kids happily conscripted him into as many dominoes games as he could tolerate and took him to the local Medieval Festival.

If you dressed up in period gear, you got in free.
You know my family of cheapskates were all over it.

Eion, of the un-medicated variety, was not at all happy about this adventure. But the day was saved when Opa bought him a sword and shield. We're glad E's price is cheap.

All is well again.

It's pretty boring, yet all together lovely here.