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!"