Monday, July 28, 2014

The $463 Egg

Ok, it is all excitement around here today. In addition to a functional basement, we have our first egg! I was cleaning out the coop and there it was, in all its glory.

It is blue-green, so we know it came from either Tank or Putin. I am leaning towards the latter as she was in the coop after I removed it, seemingly looking for something. (But really we can't be sure.)

It was one of the two on the right.

Can't wait to see how it tastes but I have to wait for Maggie to get home from camp and Tim to get home from work. And hopefully there will be many more to come!

The Basement, Back in Action!

After months of mess, construction, and insurance claims, we have our basement back! No one realized how much we needed that extra space until it was gone. We are mighty happy for the grand reopening.

Here are some lovely in process pictures:

And the finished product!

I'm sure these pictures have you brimming with questions. I'll take them now.

Question 1: That really looks a lot like it did before. What is up with that? 

This is what happens when a fully remodeled area of your home meets with a wet, floody disaster. You get to spend $15,000 (ish) to make habitable that to which you had already devoted time and resources. Next question.

Question 2: Are there any differences at all? 

Good question! For one, we eliminated the mold and the creatures inhabiting the walls. While not readily apparent, we are quite pleased with that. Also, the lower walls are a darker color. Most importantly, the floors are tile, which replaced wood, and have radiant heat under them. We love this wood look tile!

Question 3: You people really own lots of brown furniture. Did you ever consider color? 

That is a silly question. Maybe you need more brown furniture.

That's all the questions for which we have time today! If you are in the hood, feel free to come check it out in person!

En Garde!

With many an exciting swim update, I have neglected to write about Morrigan's new hobby - fencing! But before we cover that, it occurred to me that people might find it strange that I didn't mention Eion in the City County post. He decided he did not want to compete so, rest assured, I didn't leave him out, there was just nothing to report! On to Morrigan.

Since the spring, she has been attending a fencing class on Saturdays at the YMCA. While athletics are not normally a passion for her, she really seems to enjoy it. Next to no complaining, even when, in an effort to speed her progress to the intermediate level she began 2 hour sessions instead of 1 hour ones. 

This past Saturday, she found out her group would be performing at the Medieval Faire in September. Morrigan will be the princess under attack who, in a dramatic turn of events, grabs her blade and vanquishes her foes. She is stoked.

Such a role called for an epic costume so she and I made haste to the fabric store and purchased the supplies for this dress. 

She's going to look awesome! (And as a selfish aside, I'm looking forward to making it ;) Not to mention, she can add this to her newly crafted acting resume from acting camp last week. I'll let you see the final product when I have it done. It has just been too pretty to make much progress so far. Have a happy Monday!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Golden Girl

City County is done! Today was quite easy as just Maggie and I went. She only had two events so we were able to arrive late and were done relatively quickly.

The chaos of clerk of course. Mags is in there somewhere!

She had her best meet yet! Here are the stats (because you were eagerly awaiting those):

50 Back - 17th gold
50 Free - 15th gold
100IM - 13th gold
50 Breast - 1st silver
100 Free - 12th gold

Happy swimmers

Though deep in the gold field, and ribbon free, those all garnered many points. And she will get a medal for her ever favorite spot, 1st silver!

On the blocks before her last race.

But most importantly, she was really proud of herself and had a great time. She's already talking about next year when we, mercifully, will be in the afternoon session! She swam with joy and we couldn't be happier for her.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happy Campers

Oh hey! I thought to myself, self, it is time for a blog post, only to find it had been 10 days. The summer, it flies by, I tell ya.

The girls had a magical time at Hogwarts camp. It remains their favorite week of the year and plans are underway for next summer already. Maggie missed camp so much she spent all last week wearing her "house" bandanna tied around her ankle. I love it when something lives up to the hype.

Morrigan had a fast turn around, coming home Saturday and leaving the following afternoon for Kevin Jones Performing Arts Camp. After a week of geekery Harry Potter style, it was on to theater geeks!

She fit right in. They spent the week preparing a show, which we went to see tonight. 

What they were able to accomplish in five days was truly remarkable, especially considering they were dealing with surly middle schoolers. She is already planning her triumphant return at next year's camp.

The acting camp has filled her head with dreams of theatrical glory, as the director has promised to forward their head shots and resumes on for casting calls and other opportunities. 

A good looking head shot, eh?

I told her that acting was a fine professional endeavor, providing she had a fallback plan, like being an engineer. 

This weekend is also the dreaded much anticipated City County swim meet. Eion opted not to swim, which was best for us all. Maggie swam four events today, the 50 back, 50 free, 100IM and she was in the 200 free relay. I tell you, it made me tired just watching her.

I take so many swim pics but don't bother at the indoor events. 
So enjoy this classic Maggie, the happy swimmer, photo.

Due to some computer issues (with which I totally sympathize,) there were almost no results posted today. But we do know she came in 15th gold for the 50 free! One of her best finishes ever that had her thrilled to death. It looks like she made gold times for her other events as well, but we won't know until morning, when we go back for round two.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

So Maybe Just One More Swim Meet

Neither Eion nor I really wanted to go to the swim meet. It was all the way across town you know.But I was bored and wanted to see grown ups. When I told Fiona this, at the swim meet, she said we both could have skipped it and had wine at her house. Where was that idea 45 minutes ago!

Luckily, it was a short meet and the menacing weather from earlier in the day had passed. It was unprecedented, six Mondays in a row without thunder or rain delays! Eion attempted the 50 butterfly again.

And dqed again. He can make it for 25 meters, but the way back is too much and he falls apart. It is almost better this way because he won't be swimming it at City County.

The 50 backstroke went much better. We bailed before the  results were posted but I know he beat at least one guy!

And as ever, where he really excelled was the pre-race show!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy 225th Bastille Day!

Today is Fete Nationale in France or as it is known here, Bastille Day. This is the 225th but we're going to go down memory lane to what was going on in my life on the 200th anniversary.

We were living in France and I was not shipped back to the states for the summer, mostly because my cousin Kelly was coming to visit. In those first days after school let out, I received a call from the school secretary, Mona, about the parade for Bastille Day. Seemed they were going to have an American themed float and they needed cheerleaders. As I was one of the captains that year, I got the call!

Kelly and me

I was set loose with some girls, some I knew, others I didn't, to come up with "American cheerleading routines." If memory serves correctly, we had some very unproductive practices and ended up designing our whole gig in the few days before. 

But no matter! The whole thing came off without a hitch! Our float was six cars. They each had stands built on them, containing spectator, and we cheerleaders were at the top. The stands were in two lines of three, facing each other and a marching band from Florida was in between. The effect was supposed to be like a football stadium.

I have no idea why we are with an elephant. 
Must have been from another float!

There was a big day of dress rehearsals and then July 14th, the big day!

I think this guy was in charge of the whole parade.

So there we were, in the parade, in Paris, for the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day. Even as a punk teenager, the enormity of it all was not lost on me. We had so mush fun. The parade itself was a blast. We were right on the Champs de Elysees for the final fireworks. Amazing. And after it was done, there was a giant party in the Tuleries Garden for parade participants and big wigs. Our float drivers were very interested in an after party with Kelly and me. Sure they would never find us in all the melee, we said sure - just find us after! Wouldn't you know they did.

But these guys, from the band, saved the day and we hung out with them all night.

I think we made it home sometime as the sun was coming up on the 15th. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences and one of my favorite Paris memories!

July South Roanoke Circle Article

As I have been told by several friends, this article is old news. And it is - I got bumped from the last issue for a time sensitive piece. But I thought you might enjoy it anyway!

The Peepers Have Come Home to Roost

Tim loves to read about urban homesteading. Sometimes, this research leads to container gardening on the deck. Mmmm, organic arugula. Other times, it leads us to own a flock of chickens. He and Morrigan cooked up this idea a while back and part of their sales pitch was, “It will be great. And if we don’t like it, we can kill them and eat them!” Really, with that kind of plan, how could things possibly go wrong?

Soon we were the proud owners of six chicks. As luck would have it, both Morrigan and Tim were gone when they arrived, leaving me to stress about their brooder and its heat situation. The whole chicks in the family room situation was quite unsightly, involving a stepladder, a large plastic box, and never-ending dust. But by the time they arrived home a week later, the rest of us were in love with the chicks. These babies were never going to be dinner.

As they grew over the next few weeks, I found out I really knew nothing about chickens. They all had little personalities, the strongest of which was the bird we named Putin, as she was the bully of the bunch. They would play games, stealing a feather from another bird and then leading a chase around their box. And there was the constant, soothing, peeping chatter, which led to their group name, The Peepers.

Just when the dust and mess were reaching critical mass, the weather turned warm and all the birds were fully feathered, meaning it was time to move into their coop.  Being nervous new fowl parents, we checked on them often and worried the transition would go poorly. But they took to their fenced-free range life easily and were a happy bunch.

Until tragedy struck.

After being out for the morning running errands, I came home and found there were only five birds. They were all huddled in the coop, which was unusual for daytime, and had what appeared to be blood on their beaks. We never found any remains of the vanished bird, ironically named Lunch, and had to come up with theories about what had become of her. My official party line was that some predator took her while the other birds valiantly defended her, injuring the guilty party in the process.

But in the dark recesses of my mind, I always worried that the flock had turned on poor Lunch and had killed or maimed her. It seemed we would never know the truth.

A month passed and we had no further attrition. We convinced ourselves it was an anomaly. But then came what we refer to as The Hawk Incident. I was with the birds in the backyard, cleaning out the coop, when they seemed to all be in a noisy scuffle. Now they sometimes have little tiffs establishing their pecking order, so I didn’t think much of it but admonished them saying, “Ladies, let’s all get along.” But the noise level rose and the interaction suddenly seemed quite violent. I yelled much louder and to my surprise, a hawk emerged from the sea of moving feathers and flew away. Four chickens dispersed and one limped back to the coop, bleeding.

Over the next few days while she recovered, the uninjured Peeps became her caretakers. Putin would walk slowly with her across the yard in the morning, rather than be a part of the coop exodus, always a flurry of flapping and run-flying. If you approached the hurt bird, the others would all position themselves between you and her, dishing out some stink eye to boot.

I felt terrible ever having even contemplated the idea that they could have hurt their own. Here were some birds who, in the face of mortal danger, banded together to try to save their sister. I tell you, it makes a Mom’s heart ache. As silly as it sounds, we were so proud of our chickens.

Birds of prey are protected, so we had to stick with non-lethal deterrents. Since The Incident, Part Deux, we’ve added some very menacing looking plastic owls to our deck, hoping they will scare the hawks away. [Maggie’s response was “Really?”] Reflections also, according to the chicken blogs, tend to freak out hawks. So I hung several old cds under the deck to let them know I really meant business. [To which Maggie then added, “Really?”] Admittedly, I did go a bit overboard – several in this case really means about 30. Thank goodness no one can see my backyard. It is sixteen shades of crazy and looks like some kind of low-rent homemade disco down there.

It has been over a week and we’ve had no further attacks. Clearly my ferocious maternal instinct and hawk repellent system are having an impact. Or luck is with us. We’re just enjoying our flock, so much so that we’ve expanded it. But that’s another story.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trefoil Academy - The Most Magical Week of the Year

After being packed for a week, today was finally the big day, Hogwarts Camp! I managed to get a few shots of the girls before I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I was no longer needed. See you in a week ladies!

Accessing their Gingott's account


The happy wizards are ready for a week of fun!

Hike to Dragon's Tooth

One of the best things about living in Virginia is the abundance of beautiful hiking trails that are close by. Friday, we decided to hike Dragon's Tooth. Actually, we gave the kids the choice of swim practice or hiking and they quickly chose the latter, thinking it was easier. Little did they know…

Maggie's friend, Megan, and her sister slept over the night before and they were up for adventure as well. Five kids and a five mile hike, what could go wrong?

Morrigan generally sees hiking as a race. She darts off as soon as we reach the trail head and we usually don't see her until the summit.

And she's off!

 The rest of us stuck together and there was some, but little, complaining. Having friends was working out great. The trail starts off fairly easy and then progresses to much rougher terrain quickly with a fair bit of rock climbing needed.

It was around the time we hit the rocks that we found Morrigan. She had never encountered a hike requiring the technical skills needed here. She was a bit dejected that she got stuck and even more upset that she wasn't going to beat us all to the top.

But we all soldiered on and reached the gorgeous peak!

I generally find the way down is always easier. Not so here. Scampering down the rock formations proved as challenging as the way up. When we got down, we were all ready for some lunch and a trip to the pool. An A+ day if there ever was one!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Us and the Last Monday Swim Update!

Today is our 19th anniversary! As Tim so aptly said this morning, "Boy are we old!" In case the numbers don't prove that on their own, here is some photographic evidence of how young we used to be:

As neither of us thought to have Tim take the day off, he is at work and I will be taking the kids to the dentist. Good times!

With Maggie at camp next week, yesterday marked what might be the last of this summer's Monday swim meets. (There is one next week E can attend but seeing as it is all the way across town, I'm not making him go!)

The night was a roaring success by all accounts! My job went smoothly and mistake free. Morrigan helped out at clerk of course and was happy to earn a water bottle and lottery scratcher for her third volunteer night. (She won a dollar too!)

Eion and Maggie both swam the 50 free and 100IM. Maggie placed 5th gold in the 50 free and, her very favorite position, 1st silver in the 100IM. She came within 2 seconds of a year round swimmer on the 50 free and was delighted.

Eion was 2nd bronze in the 50 free. Sadly, he dq-ed as soon as he dove in for the 100IM. After the 1st 25 (butterfly,) I asked if he wanted to get out, but he just said "NO!," as if I were crazy and went on to finish his four minute race. 

When he got out of the water, he asked if his disqualified. I told him he had, at which point he paused, then asked if he could have a ring pop. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that he was able to shake the whole thing off and move on. He is a trooper!

I don't know about you, but I can't believe summer is almost half over.