Saturday, March 24, 2012

Owl Pellets and 2nd Chance for Wildlife

Friday our homeschoolers group had meet up where a couple of reps from Second Chance for Wildlife came to speak. They rescue various animals and rehabilitate them for release. While the kids found the discussion interesting, the main stars were the animals they brought. The first was a red-tailed hawk.

Next was a barn owl.

We learned about their diet, mating, habitat, how they feed their young etc. It was really interesting. Even the youngest of the homeschoolers paid rapt attention. And more impressively, Eion did too.

They they brought out this guy.

Hi! I'm a disgusting opossum!

And all my kids' hands shot up directly. I'm standing in the back thinking, "Holy shite. My kids are totally going to rat me out for capping one of those on the deck." [Allegedly.] Which, at the time, they thought was the most awesome thing ever as it played possum after [allegedly] taking one in the side. 

But my kids spared me and left my animals rights reputation without any further damage. They did decide it was the cutest thing ever (gross) and wanted to pet it (double gross.) I just wanted to know why anyone was in the business of saving rodent pests. Seeing as I had dodged a bullet there on the deck-gun-possum incident, decided not to ask.

Te girls had a half day so they were there too. After the animals show was done, we commenced to owl pellet dissection.

Now science was never my strongest suit so you'll have to excuse me for thinking that owl pellets were some kind of baby owls we were going to dissect, much like you do frogs at school. I soon found out, from my 10 year old no less, that these were indeed not actual owls but actual owl vomit. They apparently can't digest fur and bones so they collect the lunch leftovers in their craw and hurl them out. 

We were tasked with puling them apart and, based on bones, determining what lunch was. Morrigan was very, very careful, only touching the grey lump with her pick and tweezers. Maggie shared some of her meticulous tendencies but was willing to use her hands as well. Eion, he just used his hands and ripped it all apart in a matter of minutes, hitting pay dirt, a mouse skull.

And naturally, having finished first, he was then free to run around like a wild man as his sisters took their time. Overall rating, five stars - or maybe four if you take into consideration that I now own a mouse skull.

OK - just one more thing. We're going to file it under the massive government power grab of the day. [But I would like you all to note how I saved this to the end so if you're not in the mood for my political rants you can just check out!] In the course of the 2nd Chance for Wildlife discussion, the speaker told us how the possession of feathers, from any bird other than pigeons, and two others I can't remember, was illegal. One of the kids asked if you could keep one if you find it on the ground. 

The answer was no. The reason was even more irritating. You couldn't keep feathers of any kind because you had no way to prove you had not captured a bird or otherwise caused the bird harm in order to get it. 

Holy government over-reach.

Some EPA statute, no voting from our elected representatives necessary, strips you of your innocent-until-proven-guilty status and mandates that you can't posses a feather, even if you find it on your own property. If you are "caught," you are subject to, as the speaker described, "massive" fines. Don't get me wrong, I am not for the destruction of the hawk and owl communities, but this seems like overkill. It is one of those examples I think of whenever "they" say government can't cut costs. I am pretty sure we can get rid of the officers enforcing the "don't collect feathers" statute.

On the plus side, I used this as a perfect example of why we should return to the limited government envisioned by our Founding Fathers!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Good grief, I have been meaning to get in here all week. First and foremost, I blame my delay on the fact that I saw the show Hoarders for the first time. It just made me cringe. Then it made me want to clean out everything I could get my hands on which was fairly well timed since a friend from college was planning to visit this week. I now have a sparkling, impeccably organized bathroom closet as well. This show is either the best or worst thing that's ever happened to me.

What else can I blame? I pulled the kids out of school early on Monday to come to the homeschoolers' PE day at the skate center. Maggie was out there the whole time.

Morrigan skated too while Eion was in the kids' habitrail the entire time. I skated with the girls and even attempted the "fast skate" song. I found out I am not very fast and nearly wiped out in grand fashion. But some strategic flailing of the arms and crashing into a rail saved me from falling. Pride bruised a bit maybe....

The kids' tae kwon do school has a tournament this weekend. We can't attend but all the classes this week have been geared towards it aka lots and lots of sparring! Eion, to no one's surprise, is quite an attacker. He seems to lack variety in his moves but makes up for it in sheer tenacity.

Maggie is a surprisingly tough little fighter. She was paired up with a boy at the end of class yesterday for "Spar Wars" and she took him down. I can't tell you how much I wish I had taped it. Maggie did great and in the background was Eion, in full gear, hands above his head, jumping up and down cheering for his sister. It was the sweetest thing ever. 

The girls are gearing up for a Percy Jackson themed camp this weekend - major excitement! As for me, I'm just going to watch all the Hoarders I need to get the spring cleaning done.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Umm, I'm Pretty Sure I Know

So like most newly pregnant women, I rushed out and bought What to Expect When You Are Expecting. And I poured over it, reading every single bit, looking to be prepared for this unknown territory. Some things were helpful (though I can't think of any in retrospect,) some were not helpful (You mean I should eat only fresh fruits, veggies and lean meats? No kidding! I certainly couldn't manage that when I didn't feel like hurling every 10 minutes, I sure as hell can't do it now,) and some were just terrifying (mucus plug?!?!) But in general, it provided information on a topic about which I knew very little.

I found the ensuing What to Expect books (infants, toddlers etc.) to be increasingly less helpful and I stopped reading them.

Which brings us to the other day at the bookstore when I saw this:

I don't mean to be overly simplistic, but I'm pretty sure it's sex. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yeah, That Guy

As heard at Tae Kwon Do today....

Eion: I got to free spar today! I kicked the other guy and then I threw a bunch of punches and beat him!
Other Guy: Hey, I'm right here.
Eion: Yeah [pointing] that guy! That's the guy I beat. I kicked him and then I punched him and then he lost!

Next week's lesson, winning with grace.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

First World Problems

You know, I have just had a perfect storm of problems that are decidedly First World today and I am on the very irritable side of things. Be forewarned.

I was on a mission today to get the girls Easter dresses. I had a plan that looked like this:

But that plan was quickly derailed by this interaction with my dearest husband.

Me [eyeing said coordinated family lustily on the computer]
Tim[walks up behind me]: No.
Me: No?
Tim: No way.
Me: But is there any...
Tim: No.

I didn't even try the iron-clad logic that the sweater vest was very Santorum-esque. With Plan A in the proverbial crapper, I was forced to go shopping with the girls, bearers of far too many opinions about fashion these days anyway. 

We set out to Belk and I let them loose in the girls department. It was very quickly clear that this was going to be trouble. I wanted children who were dressed for the Club's Easter egg hunt, they were apparently planning on running away and joining the Ice Capades, or so their choices in dresses would imply.

They tried this on in several colors:

Sadly, this picture doesn't do it justice. You miss the entire sparkly-glittery-Vegas kind of material of which it is constructed. After several fitting room sessions, we found a suitable dress that pleased all. As a bonus, they had a version with pink flowers and one with blue so each girl could have their favorite color and they could still match. [As an aside, I didn't tell them they had to match. I had freed them of this requirement but years of matching has hard-wired the desire in their heads.]

We then went on a fruitless search for shoes. I would venture to say there is nary a town in the entirety of the United States that has such a dismal shoe selection for young girls. And don't give that Cobbler's Wife line. I am too cheep to buy MY shoes there. Not a chance I am buying shoes that will be worn only a couple of times for my kids in that price range. 

We were also seeking an Eion outfit. He is actually rather easy to please. To fit, now that is a different story. We found a seersucker suit (too big) and a tan suit (sadly, not available in slim so also too big) but located zero appropriate gear. 

After many a stop, which left us all feeling rather disheartened, we returned home (nearly) empty handed. 

And starving. The good news was I had put some ribs in the sous vide and they would be piping hot and ready to eat. Theoretically. In practice, I forgot to press start after I placed the ribs in the water which meant they had been hanging out at room temperature for several hours, rendering them not only not ready for dinner but a veritable breeding ground for food-borne illness. 

In the immortal words of Cartman from South Park, fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck, a phrase I managed not to say aloud. 

We rallied and had some leftovers, though who knows what I am going to feed Tim when he gets home from work. Hopefully, he's not very hungry.

What I really want to do is curl up in my evening clothes. Everything is made better by the kittens-in-mittens robe, right?

Except my poor robe fell victim to a malfunctioning heating pad I was using on my sore back, it really sucks getting old, and it now has a burn on the back that resembles a cigarette burn. While I am pleased the heating pad that was on its way to flaming did not harm me, I really resent that my beloved robe now has moved from cute to rather white trashy. 

What the hell, as long as I am complaining about the mundane irritants I have bravely faced down today, let's add that I found this posted at my crazy neighbor's house:

That is my bat-shit crazy neighbor's response to her dog biting Maggie on the foot. [She's ok - thick footwear protected her from harm.] Which I guess would be great if the dog was not chasing my children out of the cul de sac on a regular basis. I am pretty sure us staying off her property won't fix that. 

But seriously, she has her house up for sale and posted this. Not smart lady, who incidentally used to be a realtor. You are alerting all potential buyers to the fact that one of the following things is true: either you are completely nuts OR your neighbor is. Neither of which I think are good selling points. There is a reason she is a former realtor I suppose. Best yet is her dog, bite-y mcbiterson, is still running free and without a leash, seen just today harassing another neighbor in their own yard. 

Wait a just a darn minute, I think I am feeling better. Previously, I failed to realized the important role my newly trashified robe is going play in dealing with such gems as my dog-running-loose-psycho neighbor. It will make me perfectly dressed for our future run ins. 

From the land of the First World Problems, I bid you au revoir. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Super Tuesday In Virginia, Sort Of

Super Tuesday in Virginia kind of lacks the excitement of other states. Two of the remaining GOP candidates, Gingrich and Santorum, failed to meet the requirements and aren't on the ballot. So we've for Romney, for whom I can muster no enthusiasm, and Ron Paul, who I actually love but find unelectable. For the very first time since I turned 18, I considered not bothering. As I drove home from tennis, I thought, why go? Romney is going to win Virginia, and probably the nomination. Even if he wins Virginia, Ron Paul will get shut down by the GOP Establishment. 

But then I thought about how lucky we are to be in a country where we CAN vote. People all over the world would, and do, fight and die for that right. Even in countries with elections, women are still shut out from too many of them. So I drove myself down to the fire station and threw away my vote. You are welcome Congressman Paul. 

And E and I are rockin' out sweater vests for Santorum, even if I can't vote for him.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Just Say No

Friday Eion had his ADD/ADHD evaluation. And by evaluation, I mean the doctor, who has known E his whole life, pretty much opened with the statement that he figured we would have this conversation sooner or later. His doctor, like anyone who has spent any time at all with E, could see the rampant ADD in E that we all enjoy. But we were there to talk about whether medicating would improve his quality of life.

The short is, no, not at this time.

The long is that we talked about how Eion was from day to day. Was he happy? Was he learning? The answers to both those questions were yes. Our Doc said that, if it was something we could handle, the homeschooling was great environmental management of ADD. As long as he is a sunny, achieving spaz, [my word, naturally] spaz was ok. We agreed to revisit if the situation changed. Eion high-fived the doctor and we headed home.

Seeing as I have never been big into medication, I'm happy. There was that itty bitty part of me deep down that would have loved a quick fix, but my sometimes too practical self knew it probably didn't exist.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Miss Manners

As heard in the hallway while completing the "post test" after the Miss Manners etiquette class on Saturday:

Girl 1: What is the answer to number 4?
Girl 2: Oyster fork. Didn't you hear them during the class?
Girl 1: No, I was texting the whole time.

Etiquette class FAIL.

Can We Talk About Sandra Fluke?

Oh I'm going in the weeds today and what I have to say is unlikely to be popular. Just to make sure that we don't get distracted by peripheral issues, let's lay out a few disclaimers/ground rules.

First, this is not about Rush Limbaugh. I'm well aware that he called her a slut and, for the purposes of our discussion today, don't really care. That issue is entirely separate from what I want to cover here today. Please understand, not defending name calling, just saying it is irrelevant to my topic.

Second, this is not about whether or not Catholic institutions should be legally compelled to provide birth control. I have an opinion about said topic but that is not at the heart of my post today.

So what is left to talk about, you ask? I can't understand why so many smart, strong, feminist women are jumping on Ms. Fluke's bandwagon. Why so many people are accepting what she had to say at face value. Why people aren't looking at what she had to say and thinking instead, "Good grief, this woman is either an idiot or willfully misrepresenting the truth." [And yes, I am well aware that using the term idiot can be filed under the category of name calling but I think the evidence here will support my position.] Why women aren't bothered by Ms. Fluke, unintentionally I am sure, inching back strides made by feminists over the last century.

Let's take a look at what she actually said. [If you want, the full transcript is here.]

"Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy."

One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception. [Bold mine.]

Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice.

And some might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that’s just not true." [Bold mine.]

So clearly, Sandra Fluke is saying that because the the University does not cover birth control, women have to go without and there are no low cost options available.

Sorry, but that is not true. At all. She has either done no research into birth control availability and cost or is leaving out some important facts.

I won't even make you google to find out how wrong she is. I'll include the links.

Planned Parenthood lists the price of birth control pills as $15-50 per month. (That is $540-$1,800 over the cost of three years of law school, not $3,000.)

If you don't want to go that route, Target offers two different birth control pills at $4 per month. (Which comes out to $264 for three years.)

But wait, you say, what about protection from AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases? Visit our friends at Condom Depot. Just a quick search finds a pack of 250 for $99.99 (free shipping!) That would be about $0.40 each. If you bought 1,250, more than one a day for three years, that would be $499.95. Pair that with the most expensive pills from Planned Parenthood and we are up to about $2,300, still $700 shy of the $3,000 estimate.

Still, $2,300 is no small chunk of change. Let's try to bring that cost down. A click at the District of Columbia Department of Health will detail the plethora of locations that will give you condoms, absolutely free, no questions asked. Too embarrassed to go out and get them? No worries, the DOH will ship them right to you. Free of charge to any DC resident.

To summarize, without leaving your home, you can solve the problem of getting birth control at zero cost to you. If you are one of the unfortunate women who have a medical condition for which birth control pills are the answer, she referenced a friend with polycystic ovarian syndrome (who, incidentally, was covered by Georgetown's medical plan,) you can go to Target and take care of the medication for $48 a year.

Ms. Fluke, you are making women look ignorant.

Women have been fighting for the right to vote, for equal pay, and for equal rights for over a century. The premise of our fight was that we ARE equal to men. We are as smart, as hard working, as innovative and as capable. That we can take care of ourselves. How strong does that, correct, I might add, argument look when you are incapable of taking care of your own reproductive needs and run crying to Congress for help? Especially when your cries of helplessness are so easily debunked by anyone with access to the internet.

If you think there should be a policy change in the coverage this, or any, medication, by all means, advocate for it. But make your argument with the truth. Because when you go before the nation with what really are falsehoods, you make us all look bad.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1st

70 something and it is the first day of March? We'll take it!

So How'd That No Flowers Stance Work Out For Ya?

Better than I deserve, I must say! We went to the performance in which Morrigan had a WAY bigger part than she let on. We had only heard one line, which we naturally tried to convince her to deliver in a Yoda voice, but no more. She rejected, probably rightfully so, our Star Wars themed suggestion. We were pleasantly surprised she had a sizable part, at which she did great!

Say "Jazz Hands!"

As anticipated, all our mates at dinner had brought some roses for their kids. If Morrigan noticed, she said nothing. And let me tell you, the girl is not one to suffer silently. [I wonder where she gets it?] She seemed perfectly happy with the abundant praise we offered and loved the whole experience. 

We will call it a parenting victory and just one less thing about which her future therapist will hear!