Sunday, March 31, 2013

Riding the Rails

It is Spring Break for our circus and for maximum buffoonery, we are taking the show on the road to New York City! There is a direct train route that boards about an hour from our house so we opted not to drive. Because really, the last thing we need in Manhattan is a suburban. So I'm coming to you live from the train via their somewhat crappy wifi.

We're renting a flat in Brooklyn and I should have updates on how we fare in the big city all week. 

To be honest, I was really hoping to have exciting news today. (Other than our travel plans, that is.) We've been talking to a real estate agent about a house down in the "flatlands" part of our neighborhood for about a month now. It had been on and off the market for the better part of a year and had recently been foreclosed upon. 

On paper, it looked great! It was two doors down from some very good friends. The street was packed with kids and people we know well. It was walking distance to the neighborhood grocery store, restaurant and post office. The area was flat enough for the kids to bike all over the place. This was going to work, we knew it. I had our house ready to be shown while we were gone.

But then we saw the house.

My hope was that in spite of being a foreclosure, it was going to be in relatively good condition. Really, this is SoRo people. But it was not the case. The roof needed to be replaced, yesterday. Windows were broken. And many that were not broken were in desperate need of replacement. Half finished renovations awaited repair. It quickly became clear that were would, even if we got a somewhat low price for the house, be embarking on massive renovations and updates and that was just what we could see on a walk through. It was just going to be too cumbersome and costly.

Sigh. It isn't going to happen. 

On the plus side, our house is looking quite spiffy. Spurred on by the prospect of possibly listing it, we used the past month to tackle projects we have long avoided and took many a car load of gear to the Goodwill. Not to mention, I have Tim willing to entertain the idea of moving, which was no small feat. And, our agent assures me, new houses go on the market all the time!

How The Mighty Have Fallen

Once upon a time, Easter was a holiday that involved much planning and effort. There were countless searches for just the right matching dresses and shoes for the girls. Then the coordinating gear for Eion. Monogrammed Easter baskets from Pottery Barn. We were darling. Witness the Easters of years gone by....

All blue and seersucker.

One of my all-time favorites.

But closely followed by the next year.

So matching, so photo worthy. But alas, those times are in the past now. With increasing blowback about my fashion choices, it is near impossible to find something I like that both girls will agree to wear. [Though if I had them on board, Eion wouldn't fight. He pretty much wears whatever I set out for him.]

Hence, I didn't bother and we found ourselves looking, well, like this.

Maggie was content to wear last year's gear but accessorized with black shoes, too small tights and a hand me down sweater a size too big. The morning of the egg hunt, I discovered that both of E's khakis, along with seemingly all his other pants, were in the wash, forcing a substitution of cordorys that trended Michael Jacksonesque. Morrigan chose a newer dress that somehow has become a mini-dress. The child is growing by the day. In spite of its length, she looked pretty cute, that is until she paired it with my 5 year old sweater. 

Looking good kids!

No egg hunt for you!

On the ride over to The Club, we floated the idea that Morrigan may have had her last hunt the prior year. Her protests were many until we pointed out that the children she babysits would be in her age group looking for eggs. With much remorse, she realized we were right.

Maggie, knowing her sister had partaken until she was 10 figured she had two good years left. The fact that she towered over the competition was not going to slow her down.

But the highlight of the day was Eion, who found the much coveted, and $10 containing, golden egg. 

This may be the pinnacle of his life thus far. He had the excitement of the find. Then the subsequent failed attempt of a younger boy to abscond with the egg. Not to mention regaling other children with his tale of glory, complete with a tour to the exact spot in which the egg was located.

As you can see on Maggie's face, she was less than impressed.

Eion was also the only child still willing to pose with the bunny. This was not so much a desire to partake in the photoshoot as a demonstration that he was definitely not too old for the whole affair.

And the diminished fashion sense seems not to have altered the kids' fun one bit. Though the impact on the pictures is far reaching.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Writer in E

Today was the much ballyhooed Author's Tea for the first grade. Having helped transcribe many of the very interesting (read: yeah, not so much) stories, I totally could have passed on the whole affair BUT as a homeroom Mom, my presence bearing cheese and crackers was needed. Not to mention, the E would have been very sad had I skipped.

I was in a scrub the house from top to bottom mood and had planned to clean like crazy but leave enough time to pick up the requisite cheese and crackers, get gas and make it to school early enough to be a respectable Mom. Great plan completely derailed by a fireplace cleaning injury which, while very superficial, was completely blood soaked. Seriously, it was a good 45 minutes to an hour of direct pressure to stop the bleeding and then strategic application of steri strips. So I rushed to Kmart for my snack contribution only to find they did not have cubed cheese. Back home again for a knife (and I never got gas - I really despise being at less than a quarter tank) and off to school where I was, indeed, late.

But in time for Eion who was cute. I guess this is how they keep these things going. All the other kids are like, whatever, but your own is darling. His story was dedicated to Cooper, naturally, and all about Minecraft, also naturally. Before he started reading his story, Dimensional Doorways, he very seriously told the audience that this was a true story and they could themselves go on Youtube and see the very video about which he has written. Cue the eyes glazing over.

Eion and Cooper. No way they are trouble.

One Mom (of girls) told me how E's illustrations were lovely but she really didn't get the story at all. Lucky her. She has girls that write about finding rainbows. I, on the other hand, get tales of inter dimensional portals, creepers and the nether. 

Friday, March 22, 2013


After playing with many variations on titles for this particular post, this was the best I could do. While it is not particularly descriptive, I feel quite confident that by the end of our journey today, you'll understand exactly what I meant.

Every year, the 4th graders at Maggie's school participate in a multi-school dance project called Minds in Motion. (If you recall, Morrigan did this a few years back.) This year, due to job changes or funding or some administrative change, it became Dance Espanol. Now Maggie has been complaining about the 45 minutes a week this takes all year. She fussed about the dancing and whatever day practice was, that was her least favorite day of the week. She claimed to be a terrible dancer and said this was pointless. Truth be told, she sounded so much like her sister did prior to her own performance that I assumed after the show, Maggie would have a similar change of heart.

Last night was the big show. Upon arrival, I was puzzled by the program, which was "Dance Espanol: 1863 The Commemoration." Spanish dance and the Civil War. Right. They go together like, say, hula dancing and the War of 1812. But what do I know? Last time the whole dancing to save the Chesapeake Bay thing sort of worked. My mind was going to remain as open as possible.

My mind had a tough night.

First, there was Abe Lincoln who, somewhere along the way, has developed a southern accent. Here - see for yourself!

I realize that we live in the south but you couldn't find any transplant with a semblance of a northern accent? Or faked one for goodness sake. Tim and I can both do passing southern accents. Surely someone here can do the reverse. But we'll let that go since the director, Mr. Pedro, is not of this land and there is a chance he can't hear the difference.

As the show progressed, it quickly became apparent that my doubt in the link between Spanish dance and the Civil War was justified. The various acts, entitled 1863, North and South, Life in the South, The Underground Railroad etc, were neither set to Spanish sounding music nor contained Latin type dance moves. Maggie did tell me later that at practice, they learned the names of the moves they were doing in Spanish which, sadly, does not show up in the actual performance, leaving the audience mystified about the supposed connection.

I'm guessing in this era of multi-culturalism, Dance Espanol is a much easier sell that "we'll be doing a bunch of strange modern dance moves to Hit the Road Jack and Fire Burning on the Dance Floor."

In spite of my open (I promise) mind, it was just bizarre. There was Life in the South where some children, I think, were cotton and others were, well, I'm not really sure what. You decide.

And the finale which contained both The Sprinkler and The Wave. Think those are Salsa moves?

It really never made much sense. So when I saw an online article in the local paper about it, I thought, the answer must be there. I am surely missing something. Whether or not the connection is ever properly explained, I may never know because upon clicking on the link, there was this picture of Mr. Pedro, the dance instructor, who was, for reasons unfathomable, shirtless.

We're going to need your headshot. 
Quick, off with that shirt!

Seriously, this was in the paper. It's not an "I need to call the school board" moment but it really is a whiskey-tango-foxtrot one.

But did the kids enjoy it, seeing as that's what it is all about. In Maggie's case, not so much. It was, I am told, long and boring and dinner "sucked." To top it off, Mags' assessment of her dance skills was pretty much spot on.

At least it is over.

Post script: I feel the wee-est bit bad mocking Mr. Pedro because I've met him a few times and he is a really nice guy but then again, with material like this, I can't help it. Also, in the strictly-of-interest-for-the-grandparents department, the other two dances Maggie was in are posted below for your viewing pleasure!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sunshine Day

You know, I feel like I write all the time. Maybe it is that I am constantly coming up with potential posts, half write them in my head and then never quite get around to putting fingers to keyboard. That and we've been (relatively) busy.

On a positive note, after only three weeks of intensive yoga therapy, I am back in the land of the almost mostly pain free, leaving me available to help Tim paint the laundry room and put down a new acrylic tile floor, replacing the crappy acrylic tile floor. Pictures provided for the three people who have seen the "before" of said room. To everyone else, don't think I am insane, I'm well aware that it is pretty dank looking. That should give you an idea of how very unsavory it was previously.

Underwhelming eh?

It was also the St. Patrick's Day parade this past weekend. Now I am a fair weather watcher of the event - a drop of rain or any cold and I am out. Luckily for us, it was sunny and warm. Maggie was off to a birthday party so we dropped her at a not-so-parade-enthusiastic friend's house. We showed up promptly at 10am to find the streets unnervingly empty. As I apparently can't read the schedule of events, we were an hour early. So it was a side trip to Home Depot for the supplies for the above mentioned project.

But soon we were back and it was on!

With the weather so perfect, we couldn't help but take an afternoon trip down to the Greenway for a bike ride too.

To cap off a pretty darn good day, we saw an incoming storm during the ride and made it back to the car just as the rain began to fall and were home in time to see the rainbow off the deck!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reviews of Thirty Year Old Movies

Here under the Big Top, we love a good movie night. Everyone curled up under the blankets on the big ol' La-Z-Boy sofa, huge bowl of popcorn (homemade, none of that microwave stuff, with coconut oil and butter,) and a good family flick. From the 80's that is.

Can't say I love many recent movies. Listing some of my all time favorites, there aren't many from the 2000's and beyond. Fight Club? Heck yeah. Four Weddings and a Funeral? A rom-com even I liked. Six Degrees of Separation? The best of the Will Smith movies. Aliens? I wanted to BE Ripley (the bad ass part, without all the acid-for-blood aliens after me.) So in line with our rather retro taste in movies, our children are constantly subjected to movies that are all older than they are - with mixed results.

The Pink Panther made the girls laugh until they hurt.

But Eion, he just didn't get it. As Inspector Clouseau bumbled along, E angrily asked, "Why is he so stupid?!" 

Our batch from the library this round was all classics. First, we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Eion found it somewhat entertaining but not nearly so much so as Minecraft, leaving us early in the film. Maggie thought it was funny but mostly stayed around because her sister found it hysterical.

Morrigan has taken to quoting the movie at us randomly. There we are, enjoying our coffee, and she'll tell us to "go and boil your bottoms you empty headed animal food trough water" and every time she passes gas will inform us that she "farts in our general direction." 

But all the kids just loved that the enchanter was named Tim.

We'll give it a solid two children in favor.

Next up was Back to the Future

As anticipated, well received by all. It held up really well. I don't know how many of your old favorites you've gone back and watched recently, but our retro movie nights have provided some interesting perspective on what we loved back in the day. The Princess Bride? As good as ever. Edward Scissorhands? As we watched, Morrigan asked, "What was it you liked about this?" And to tell the truth, I wasn't sure. While it seemed edgy at the time, watching it now it is smug and condescending and kind of awful. Well honey, we found the sweet misfit at the freaky mansion and despite the fact that we knew he was goodhearted, we let the town drive him out. We faked his death and then never saw him again even though the snow lets us know he is languishing up there alone to this day. 

But anyway, back to the recent rentals. 

The last was Amadeus

I do love this movie. Maybe it was the way it made my tween self want to listen to opera. Or the way they portrayed Mozart's genius, spilling out whole symphonies that were already completed in his head, while I was struggling to read music at all. 

It held up.

As anticipated, Eion was not amused. I told him he had to watch 15 minutes and if he didn't like it then, he could vacate. At 15 minutes on the dot, he was out. The girls on the other hand, loved it. They reacted much as I had, once upon a time, telling me how they wanted to go see Don Giovanni and feeling the sadness of watching a flame that burned so bright that it couldn't last for long. It was a success overall. The liked it and want to listen to more classical music. And Maggie was especially happy that it wasn't sci-fi.

Not sure what's up next. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Life in the (Very) Slow Lane

Since managing to tweak my back a week and a half ago, I've had some very painful days around here. Improving for sure but not a whole heck of a lot has been getting done. And let me tell you, LOTS OF THINGS need to get done. But more on that in a few days. But back pain be damned, this weekend was just too pretty and warm not to get out. Being wholly incapable of walking hills, Tim and I set out for the greenway to walk the flat earth.

And by walk, I mean stroll or something slower than stroll (think limp) as it was all I could manage. Packs of old women blew by us, talking heatedly about their cats. I was doing my level best, but we were moving at a crawl. It made me think how much age and experience can change your point of view. I remember so clearly a woman who would come to the gym, back in the early nineties, and walk, ever so slowly, on a treadmill every night during peak hours. She would irritate me. After all, why was she tying up a spot when there was a line jam packed full of people who were waiting to RUN. Now as  everyone, walkers and runners alike, pass me with ease, I think about that lady and realize that may have been all she could do.

Live and learn I suppose.

But it is not all bad. I had never moved slowly enough and with enough attention to my surroundings to notice this tree before.

It has these round seed pods that dangle from it as though the tree had decorated itself with ornaments.

I've passed these trees for fourteen years and never seen that. Pretty cool. And as an added bonus, I was moving so very slowly that I didn't have to stop in order to take an in-focus picture.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Other Than That, It Was Great!

Sometime back in the fall, Morrigan tried out for the All Districts Choir. We had only a vague understanding of what it was limited to 1) it was an honor to make it 2) there would be some random after school days that would pop up to disrupt my afternoons and 3) in the distant future, there was a concert involved. Well the distant future turned out to be yesterday.

On Friday morning, Morrigan informed me that her only pair of dress shoes no longer fit and she needed them for the concert the following day. Tomorrow? Really? So I took a complete flyer and went to TJMaxx and bought her a pair of shoes while she was at school. Now I knew the likelihood of this plan working out at all was approaching zero, but couldn't pass on even the slight chance that I could avoid a multi-stop shopping trip with She Who Is Difficult To Please. In a stunning reversal of fortune, she deemed my purchase "fine" and that was good enough for all of us.

Early Saturday morning, we dropped her off at school from where she would take a bus to a high school in Vinton. We were to rejoin her at 5pm for the concert. We assumed they would practice during the day but it seemed like LOTS of time.

We arrived about a half hour early and good thing too! There was already a line, teeming with the public. Tim, in a moment of genius, had recommended we load up and have multiple phones, iPads etc so our crew was relatively entertained during the wait. Once we were seated, there was additional buffoonery as they tried to pack in all the parents. While we sat, the two men next to me, who were not there together, struck up a conversation:

Man 1: Where does your child go to school?
Man 2: Cave Spring.
Man 1: That's where I went! Class of 1979.
[At this point, Man 2 appears to be evaluating his educational choice for his children as Man 1 could easily be mistaken for homeless.]
Man 1: When I went there, we had the jocks and the losers. It was only two groups.
Man 2: [Laughs nervously, wonders how he can escape.]
Man 1: I sure wasn't no jock. They got away with everything! Theys got a whole different set of rules.

At this point, I seriously consider telling him I was a cheerleader but reject the idea seeing as it would force me to engage him in conversation, something I was quite desperate to avoid.

25 minutes late, the concert finally started. They had divided up the kids into two different groups, each of which performed 4 songs. They were really good (and not just because my kid was up there.) Seriously, my high school choir never sounded this together. We were proud of Miss Morrigan.

I found her after and asked how the day was. "Well," she started, "we were singing all day and we didn't have enough time to eat and our breaks were too short because you were gulping down as much water as you could because of all the singing and it was hot and I didn't like the director and she was doing crazy dances and you could have totally taped it and put it on youtube because she looked awful and we called her [redacted] and she corrected things that didn't matter and it was hot and crowded."

But did you have fun? Would you do it again?

"Oh yes," she said, "other than that, it was great!" Right.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Love and Power

In Eion's weekly folder, there were two assignments I loved. The first was "If I Were President."

As POTUS, Eion would...

I would spend my days - in bed. [It is that kind of go get 'em attitude that will get him elected.]

I would make the country better by - picking up trash. [At least it is an achievable agenda.]

The hardest part about being President would be - work. [See answer one.]

The best part of being President would be - going to a computer. [So Minecraft is high on his priorities list, possibly after picking up trash.]

The second assignment was "5 Senses of Love."

Love looks like hearts.
Love sounds like waterfalls.
Love tastes like candy.
Love smells like roses.
Love feels like wind.

These are so sweet. So sweet that I think they are probably all things he saw his tablemates write down. If they all related to Minecraft, I might think they were his. Something like...

Love looks like hearts. (Those are in Minecraft.)
Love sounds like lava falls.
Love tastes like chickens.
Love smells like diamond armor.
Love feels like lapis.

Monday, March 4, 2013

It Was a Tough Week For Athletics

Morrigan didn't make the soccer team. When we heard that there were 26 girls trying out and only 18 would make the cut, we were, admittedly, not very hopeful. She is (very) new to the game and was competing against girls who have played for years. I was hoping that it would be something akin to my middle school experience where small turnouts meant that I was able to play volleyball, basketball and softball in spite of having no clearly identifiable skills in any of the sports. No such luck.

But she was not too disappointed and has expressed interest in playing more tennis.

And speaking of tennis, my future on the court is looking bleak. After about a year of rehabbing and yoga in efforts to get back to playing as soon as I could, I've had to come to the heartbreaking decision that I just have to stop playing for at least six months. Maybe forever.

I played Friday and was in non-stop pain for the next three days. It just doesn't make sense to have a hobby that routinely leaves you incapacitated. Who knows, maybe after enough rest, I can play again but first, I have to really rest.

So I had to tell my partner of three years that she had to find someone new and my team that I couldn't captain. It was depressing. In the overall scope of life, it isn't that big a deal but in the day to day of my life, tennis was where I saw many of my friends, where we made plans, and, most importantly, really fun. I'm not taking the disappointment as well as Morrigan did.