Friday, March 28, 2014

Temples and Tombs

Many moons ago, when Morrigan was in the 2nd grade, the school did an Egyptian themed performance entitled Temples and Tombs. But after that year, it was retired, until now that is! Eion came home a few weeks back and excitedly told me he was selected to be one of the King Tuts. I found his enthusiasm odd, seeing as he generally wants to avoid the spotlight in class but his teacher assured me he was doing great.

The minute he told me about it, I went on Youtube to show them the classic Steve Martin King Tut from SNL of the 70's. Eion looked at me blankly and said, "This is not funny." while Maggie added, "He was not born in Arizona at all." Let me tell you, I wore them down and they were all singing it by last night.

At the show, I was there not only as a Mom but as an official yearbook photographer so I scored a front row spot. Eion was not at all pleased when I told him I was going to take pictures while they were getting ready. "Parents are NOT allowed up there." he told me emphatically. Luckily for me, he was wrong.

The performance was as cute as the kids looked. They had about a half dozen songs with different kids taking the lead for each. There were the mummies,

the pharaohs,

and the archaeologists.

Cute as a button all, but we were looking forward to our main man, Eion B aka King Tut. He was front and center, dancing, with the other two Tuts. It was, in my naturally unbiased opinion, just darling. And better yet, he looked like he was having a great time throughout the entire show.

Eion loved being onstage. Who knew!?!

And for those grandparents out there, the video!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

May the Force Be With You

Every once in a while, I get these urges to do more, take the kids out, get in adventures, all of which end in varying degrees of success. Friday, I was compelled to take them to the science museum's Star Wars night. Not only was I driven to take my own kids, I thought friends might be a good idea too because wrangling one's own children in the midst of a human zoo is not enough. And a sleepover. Let's add that too. I'm going for Mom of the Year this weekend.

Both the girls were sure their friends would have no interest in going but, as you might expect, all of E's friends were potentials. We asked his friend Ned, who was immediately all in. I mentioned that, naturally, Ned's sister was welcome to join us but we knew Star Wars wasn't her bag. In the end, the lure of hanging out and sleeping over was strong enough to overcome geeky, space-related events. So it was me and five kids, out on the town on a Friday night!

The event was well done. They had Tom Angleberger, Of Origami Yoda fame, there to make origami Yodas with the crowd and sign his books. We did make Yodas but the line was so long that we never got around to book signing, which made me sad as I adore signed books. Oh well.

Tom Angleberger and assorted Star Wars villans.

The place was packed with kids, many of whom were in costume, wielding light sabers. I hadn't even thought of bringing weapons. Next time. The staff of the museum were wearing some high quality costumes and posing for pictures with the kids.

They had a costume contest. In spite of many years of being Yoda, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Han Solo, and Clone Troopers, we managed to retain not a one of these costumes and didn't participate. But it was great fun to watch. The kid who won was dressed as George Lucas. Genius I tell you! But the kids had a ball, I think. I actually got to speak to parents the whole time (all of Springfield was there) as the kids immediately disappeared upon entering the museum. 

When they had their fill, we went home to play with the chickens, who, incidentally, grow by the minute.

They were well loved that night by all.

In the morning, it was french toast, xbox and some weird anime show that made little sense to me. But everyone was happy. File it under urge to do more works out great.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let's Celebrate!

On the way home from school yesterday:

Maggie: I scored the 2nd highest in my class on the science test. I only missed one question.
Me: That's great.
Eion: We should celebrate.
Me: How should we do that son?
Eion: Hmmm. Maaaybe with ice cream. Yeah, ice cream.
Me: So sweet of you to think of your sister.
Eion: Well we want her to know we're proud.
Maggie: You just want the ice cream.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

By All Accounts, It Was a Good Trip

Huh. I kind of lost last week. It was a flurry of Tim's birthday, costume making for the middle school play (let me tell you, townsperson #13 will be well appointed,) and kids' activities. All of which served to keep me busy but none of which was particularly blog worthy.


I promised a recap of Tim and Morrigan's trip to Beaver Creek, Colorado. Tim was feeling the pressure. It was not a cheap venture and, as M had never skied before, there was a chance at utter failure. We decided before they left that if Morrigan hated skiing, he should just let her read and relax all day. No reason to fight. Fortunately, she did well in ski school and was able to ski with her Dad a few days. By both Tim and Morrigan's reports, they had a great week!

And it was all good for me. I would rather do, well, everything rather than go skiing out west. I could be down with a trip to the Homestead to ski for an afternoon but both the time and money involved in "real" ski trips interests me not at all. Luckily, he can go with the children!

Some photos….

They both swear she was happy.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

South Roanoke Circle Article - Featuring Maggie!

My latest article for The Circle, just click here. Or read below…

Through the power of social media, I am able to keep up with the athletic endeavours of all my friends’ children, happily “liking” pictures as we move from one sports season to the next. Many of these kids are always on one team or another. Up here chez les McKernans? Eh, not so much. We have a couple of summer swimmers and Eion gave soccer a try this fall but my kids seem to have inherited their mother’s tendency to be kind of an indoor girl. [Which, on a selfish side note, really bums me out as there is little I enjoy more than sports photography.]

But we also never give up! When Jerry told me he was signing his boys up for wrestling, we were on board. I thought it would be a great fit for Eion. So one night in November, I asked E if he would be interested. After explaining what the sport entailed, loosely, seeing as my body of wrestling knowledge came entirely from the movie The Breakfast Club, well, and a bit from Vision Quest, though I don’t really count that because I passed out when he got a bloody nose and my memory after that is fuzzy, he agreed to give it a try. Then, to the surprise of everyone, Maggie looked up at me and said, “Can I do it too?”

Huh. I had no idea if there were female wrestlers. Personally, I was a cheerleader (of the rah rah variety more than the large pyramid building, throwing people around type) and being a wrestler had never, ever crossed my mind. But I said I would look into it.

A few quick calls and I discovered that while they are few and far between, there were girl wrestlers. The coach’s daughter did for years. With no idea what to expect, Maggie was in.

Practice was directly after the Hidden Valley High School team. Our first day is burned into my memory. As the high schoolers streamed out of the room, a wall of heat, humidity, and, best of all, smell, followed them. Then we got the lecture on how post-practice showers were an important step in the battle against ringworm. When I dared the elements and peeked in, the kids were sparring and ended up in positions that looked quite unpleasant. All I could think was, fantastic, that is $60 down the drain. But Maggie came out, all smiles, talking about how much fun it was and how she couldn’t wait until the next practice.

Color me flabbergasted.

For the next few weeks, she happily skipped of to practice, never complaining no matter how hard they were worked. Maggie was the only girl but this bothered her not at all. Her biggest complaint was that her coach kept calling her Katie, which was, coincidentally, his daughter’s name. It really was a harder adjustment for Tim and me. Seriously, there is little more surreal than hearing a coach yelling, “Finish him Maggie!”

Then in December, we went to our first tournament. Jerry went to one we missed and briefed me on what to expect, but there is no way to prepare yourself for six or eight rings, all running at the same time, complete with yelling, whistles, refs who looked to be flashing gang signs*, and a surprising amount of crying. [*Not really gang signs, of course, but they meant about the same from my position of wrestling ignorance.]

Maggie looked nervous but was ready to fight. Having just watched Eion twisted into any number of unnatural positions was tough. But without sounding all sexist, watching Maggie was even harder. I was on the sideline, silent at her request, reading the pain on her face just wanting her to give up sometimes. But she never did. Not even in the round where all of a sudden holy mother of all that’s good in the world, her opponent picked her up and threw her to the ground. Not only did she get up, she fought another round after that before shaking hands, walking out of the ring, and falling apart in my arms.

The good news is the crying didn’t make her stand out. Boys of all sizes and ages would leave the ring with red rimmed eyes, trying to make it out of the spotlight before breaking down. The physicality and close struggle combined with pouring everything you possibly can into that short time just seemed so draining. There was a lot of raw emotion out there.

After that tough morning, I thought, well, we had a good run at it but she will probably want to quit.

Or not.

The balance of the season was met with usual sunny enthusiasm, happily going off to practice and already making plans for next year. After every practice she regaled me with the new moves learned and how she planned to use them at the next meet.

Speaking of the next meet, it was Tim’s first rodeo and it was shocking for him too. As we walked around the gym, we heard someone tell their son, “Now go out there and kill ‘em!” His face a mask of terror, Tim turned to me and said. “He could be talking about my little girl!” The whole family had a good laugh later watching the videos later as they revealed his every cringe as the camera jerked around. Maggie was quite calm as we relived it, but Tim and I winced each time she took a hit.

One of the very best parts of the season was the unilateral support Maggie received as a girl in a boy’s sport. Coaches, parents, and referees all encouraged her, complimented her and urged her not to give up. Certainly, none of the boys took it easy on her, but they never marginalized her either. She was just another competitor. After every loss, friends and strangers alike were there to let her know how well she did and how much they appreciated her spirit.  She leaned how to push herself, how to keep fighting, how to win and lose.

Tim and I learned a lot too, and not just what those gang signs were. Watching all those kids work so hard in such a physical and vulnerable way, we felt like they were all winners out there. (Dude, I know it sounds goofy but it is so true.) More importantly, we found out that sweet, sunny Maggie had more than a little fight in her and the intestinal fortitude to march into a gym full of boys and take them on.

We’re coming up on the end of the season and by all accounts, she’s going to be back at it again next year. I’m not sure how long Maggie will continue as one of the few female wrestlers in the valley, but we’re looking forward to the ride. Maybe next season, we can even make it through without wincing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Our Week in Farming

The chickens continue to be major entertainment around here. Every time I turn around, one of the kids is holding a chick and bringing it over for me to admire. They all seem to be thriving and active, so much so that they have begun to escape their brooder box. I had to add chicken wire over the top to entrap them, making the already quite attractive setup even more appealing. 

The biggest surprise is that they all seem to have different personalities. Who would have thought? I mean, they are poultry. The chick Maggie is holding, Fluffy (we are going to have lots of Fluffies around here it appears,) is the sweetest one, quiet and not very flappy. The chick we aptly named Putin is a little squawky bully, pushing around all the other hens. They've been more fun than anticipated.

In unrelated news, Maggie played in the Spring Festival today, earning a Superior (the highest score.) She was rightfully excited and we celebrated with lunch at the Chinese buffet, where Eion feasted on, and I quote, "Chinese fruit and jello." Both kids were a little put out that their fortunes were pithy sayings rather than visions of the future. But such a minor inconvenience couldn't possibly dampen their spirits today!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

After a snow day delay, we picked up our chicks today! We have three Ameraucanas and three Barred Plymouth Rocks. Word on the street is we may get a mystery chick from a classroom hatching project but we'll confirm that if it comes through.

The chicks are happily chirping in this low rent brooder I constructed in the family room.

Quite a lovely addition, don't you think?

I'm not sure how long this will be gracing our interior but not more than a few months, I think.

Both Maggie and E were excited to hold and pet the chicks. Eion was a bit skittish about picking them up, but Maggie got right in there and made sure she gave each and every one some love.

Our urban farming adventure commences!

Monday, March 3, 2014

From the Slopes

No tearful calls yet. I'm going to assume she's having a great time!

Hey Another Snow Day!

Even as I see the daffodils peeking out, we are in the middle of another snow storm. School is cancelled but it remains to be seen if we will get any accumulation. Since it was about 65 degrees yesterday, the roads are still clear. Even so, I really hate driving in inclement weather so we are hunkering down. We were supposed to pick up our chicks today, but they will have to wait.

Morrigan and Tim went to Beaver Creek, Colorado on Saturday for a week of skiing. They had an odyssey of delayed flights, lost luggage, and misplaced purses but after that rough start, it appears they are enjoying the slopes and having a fine time. Here on the home front, we miss them terribly, but seeing as this whole thing was my idea, I can't complain. Well I CAN, but I shouldn't.

Maggie and E were feeling a bit gypped when they found out that not only was Morrigan going on a trip without them but she was missing a whole week of school. In a measure of compensation, I thought it would be nice to get them away for a day so we spent Saturday at The Homestead.

It is only about an hour and a half away in Hot Springs Virginia. For an overall day, we had an excellent time. But I will add as a caveat that both kids seemed to be bound and determined to be on different schedules of happiness, each decidedly opposed to whatever the other wanted to do. For example, when E was happy to burn as much money as he could in the arcade, Maggie decided the only thing she had any interest in was Foosball, which was conveniently out of service. Eion was thrilled with his $8 grilled cheese but Maggie was completely over bar food.

Gaming under duress.

Later to be described as "the best part of the resort."

Luckily, we had snow tubing reservations soon after and there was some bipartisan agreement that this was awesome! They had a little tube lift thingy that would ferry you to the top of the hill. Maggie said she could have just done that all day. Eion was the undisputed king of the hill, managing to get in ore runs than anyone else there.

Someone gifted us passes for the hour following ours, but Maggie really wanted to get back to the hotel for afternoon tea. While she was a bit put out that I made them dress for tea and seemingly every other resort guest did not, she quickly got over it. Eion, now taking the oppositional lead, decided in an unprecedented move, he was anti-sweets.

He luckily got over it so I was not required to kill him and demolished several plates of snacks.

Eion was also opposed to ice skating, but was happy to stay in the room while Maggie and I went.

Unfortunately, Maggie has a spot on her ankle that gets rubbed raw each and every time she skates. We thought our preemptive strike with an ace bandage would fix the situation, but about 20 minutes in, she was already struggling. Oh well, minutes of expensive fun.

On to the pool! The Homestead has an outdoor pool and hot tub fed by the natural hot spring in the town. It was lovely. Though, for the record, the kids again switched positions and Maggie decided quickly that she was over the pool, whereas E could have stayed for hours. You can add that she also was not interested in being alone in the room. Very slowly, I was beginning to think I might kill them both. So much for family togetherness.

But all was made better with a post swim hot chocolate, though we did have to note that they weren't quite as good as the ones at the Greenbrier. The trials of being a spoiled 9 or 10 year old.

That, along with the cookies and milk delivered to the room, ended up being all they wanted for dinner. Mom of the year! (Though I will note that Eion's reaction to the main dining room the next morning at breakfast was that it was "too fancy," so not having gone there for dinner may have been for the best." 

We ended up all snuggling and watching what seemed to be inane shows on Animal Planet. But the kids couldn't get enough of Too Cute or Bad Dogs, finding them hilarious. The hugging was good enough for me.

In the end, they said they had a great time. Me? I did my best to carve out some family memories and managed not to lose my sh*t even once. Good times.