Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to Schoooooooool, Again!

Tonight starts the beginning of Kindergartenpalooza.  My little Batman was invited to his very first mixer, a popsicle playdate sponsored by the PTA.  As a Chico State sorority girl, I can only imagine that once a bunch of five year olds get their popsicles it is much like rush kick off:

(Ok, that's actually a Cesar Chavez party from 2010, but it seems nothing has changed in the 20 years since I attended.)

Tomorrow morning, we get his class assignment and have kindergarten open house.  I am desperately hoping that he has at least one friend in his class.  It doesn't have to be a best friend, or even a good friend, but someone he knows by name would be helpful.  As long as he has someone to sit with in the quad and share a coffee that first week before he really starts making friends. 

Tuesday is the first day of school for kids in Virginia.  I plan to take Batman to school myself the first day.  After that, he will be in before school care at one place, and after school care at another place.  Combined with Robin being at a different school altogether means that The Spouse and I will be driving all over beginning next week. 

I am hoping and praying that I do not forget a child, and end up with one in the car when I arrive at work.  Thankfully, I park in an underground garage with a valet, so even if I leave them in the car, they are relatively safe.  I also worry about The Spouse forgetting to pick up one of the kids.  Somehow, we will stumble through it.  Millions of families across the country send their children to school and learn to deal with the new routine. 

Lord, beer me strength. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

The back to back disasters last week threw me off my normal summer/August/week schedule.  Now where was I?  Oh, yeah, vacation.

We got the dogs dropped off at jail, car packed, and hit the road EXACTLY ON SCHEDULE.  That doesn't happen in my life, ever.  EVER.  We stopped south of Fredricksburg for lunch.  Yes, I know, we were barely on the road, but it was lunchtime.

All the way down, Batman was bitching that he wanted to go to the hotel and Busch Gardens first, he didn't want to stop at the Lodge for two nights.  Over and over.  Finally told him to stop complaining, or we would turn this wagon around right now dammit!  Robin fell asleep and took a 1/2 hour nap.  Not what we hoped, but not too bad either. 

Check in at Great Wolf Lodge wasn't too bad.  Our room wasn't ready, but we were prepared for that.  We changed and hit the water park.  The boys loved Great Wolf Lodge!!  We spent a few hours in the park, then our room was ready.  We showered and changed, then headed to Sonic for dinner.  Stupid Williamsburg Sonic, which should have been a highlight of our trip, did not have popcorn chicken.  Batman ate apple slices while the rest of us ate dinner.

Conveniently, A WalMart was adjacent to Sonic, so we bought some snacks and groceries for the week, and got Batman some chicken nuggets from the Diet Coke store.  Then back to GWL for the show and story time.

The show freaked my kids out.  It was too loud and they did not like the talking trees.  But they liked the story, and learning to howl afterward.

Bed time did not go well.  They were pumped up over vacation, then we put them in bunk beds, and we didn't have a door to close.  Not great.  They were up until nearly 11pm.  We spent all day Tuesday in the waterpark, aside from a three hour nap, during which time Batman wet the bed.  We had lunch at the GWL outdoor restaurant and saw a snake.  After naps, I got Chicken Nugget store and Sonic for dinner.  We ate in our room, then went back to the water park for the rest of the evening.

Robin liked the lazy river and the beach/wave area the best.  He liked the baby pool and waterslide area at first, but it was a little colder than the rest.  He tried one of the little kid waterslides only because I pushed down, convinced he would love it.  A 7 year old caught him for me at the bottem, and he said he wouldn't go on it again.  Ok, fine.  He was mostly content to sit on top of me on a tube while we floated down the river or rode the waves.  And I was happy not to have to chase him around.  We got Batman to go on one of the biggest waterslides, but he would only go on one of the three he was big enough to ride.  The Spouse and I would take turns handing Robin off.

The kids were exhausted, but still hard to get to sleep that night.  I helped shower them off, then I took my phone and a magazine and headed off to do laundry (not a planned excursion, but didn't want dirty pee laundry sitting around in a hot car for a few days.)  Spent hours in the laundry room and clothes were still damp.  I hung them to dry in the room.

We splept in the next morning and decided to do some land based things at GWL before we left.  I bought tickets from the concierge while The Spouse took the boys to the video arcade.  We packed our stuff into the wagon and we were off.  Next stop: Jamestown.

We had a surprisingly good time at Jamestown.  It wasn't too hot and the boys found the stuff there pretty interesting.  The outdoor exhibits were really interesting.  We didn't go to the indoor museum and Batman was disappointed.  We told him we would next time.

Indian Village.  The Powhatan Indians were living in the area when the white man arrived.  I'd tell you the story of Pochahantas, but Disney did it much better (ok, worse, but it's more entertaining.)

Ships on the James River:

The ships are tiny, and were packed to the gills with people and food.  It must have been hot, miserable, stuffy, confining, and altogether unpleasant.   Though it must be pointed out that it would have been downright roomy and luxurious compared to the suffering of those on slave ships.

Then we were off to the fort:

After that, we straggled back up the hill to the museum, ate lunch, bought some souveniers, then checked into our hotel for the next two nights.  We stayed at a Fairfield Inn and Suites.  I was not thrilled that our suite didn't have a door to close between the rooms.  But it did have two full baths which came in handy when Batman announced he needed to poop, so Robin said he had to poop, too.  And he did.  On the potty!!  We were so excited and I hoped that perhaps things were clicking, but nope.  Nothing since then.

It took forever to get the boys to nap, then it took forever to wake them up, and they were grumpy for at least an hour.  We hit the Haunted Dinner Theater for dinner.  It was a little (lot) cheesy, but it was great to keep the boys entertained while we ate.  It was an all-you-can-eat buffet with shrimp and crab legs.  I was in heaven!  I greatly angered Robin by daring to take this photo.  He collapsed into a full tantrum that took forever to snap him out of.

Thankfully, boys did sleep that night and we were able to relax and watch some tv in the sitting room area. 

Thursday was Busch Gardens day.  What can I say?  It was fun.  Boys had a great time.  We got there sorta early, spent a few hours, ate lunch at Bretzels und Biers, went back to the hotel for a nap, then returned for the evening.  We had smoked brisket for dinner in the French Village, then played some games so both boys won a stuffed animal.  We stayed for the fireworks, then back home to bed.  But not before someone kicked 20 ounces of lemonade all over the back of my wagon.  I'm still pissed.

I was sick when I woke up Friday.  Horrible cold.  The Spouse took the kids to breakfast at the hotel and brought me back milk and cereal.  We stopped at Kmart after we checked out, so I could get some Dayquil.  We headed to Williamsburg for lunch and to walk around a bit.  Batman was a bear, because it was the last day of vacation and he didn't want to leave.  I know you're sad, kid, but don't be such a shit.  They found a toy store and spent Batman's allowance on some Legos and Robin got a car.  We ate lunch at the Trellis (?) then walked for a bit.

Eventually, boys were tired so we left.  We headed home, drove through rain, stopped for gas, and made it home ahead of rush hour, more or less.

We arrived to find this in our kitchen:

Detail work on the kitchen is getting done today.  So that's it.  How I spent my summer vacation, by Jill Homer.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rock you like a hurricane!

Today's splurge purchase:
I paid for overnight shipping from Amazon.  Let's hope it arrives tomorrow. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Here's the story of the hurricane

I'm a west coaster.  I'm used to earthquakes, wild fires, smog, car jackings, and gangs.  They deserve a certain amount of respect (gangs) and preparedness (everything else - lock your damn doors!) but I grew up with these threats.  They were part of my natural habitat.

When I spent my year on Saipan (at PIC Saipan), I heard stories of typhoons.  I had missed one the previous year, and the other new kids and I wanted to experience one.  We wanted to have the war stories of throwing furniture in the pool, battening down the hatches, and playing jenga for hours.  I never experienced a typhoon while I was there, but we did get one heck of a tropical storm.  Locking down boats and tennis nets and archery equipment in the driving rain was not my idea of fun.The cleanup required of the entire resort staff made me think twice about wishing for a typhoon.  There was stuff everywhere!  So I counted my blessings and never thought much about it.

Several years later, The Spouse and I moved in to our first home together in Alexandria, Virginia about seven weeks before Hurricane Isabel came our way.  I am a master preparer.  I make plans and contingency plans for just about every sort of disaster.  I am a one woman homeland security.  Isabel was a true test of my planning and a huge learning experience. 

We taped our windows, closed our blinds and drapes, drank hurricanes, and watched satellite tv until it went out.  The dogs refused to go outside in the rain and had to be walked - WALKED - in a category 1 hurricane.  And since they were MY dogs, I was the one who had to walk them.  The Spouse thought they could hold it or go in the backyard if they had to go bad enough.  We went to bed during the storm and waited for morning.

The storm knocked out our power for two days and left us without water for three. I am ashamed to say this, but the hardest thing for us was being without our television for two days.  We news junkies were left in a black out.  We had a small radio, but it didn't give us the news we needed and there were fewer channels.

After one night and day without power or water (or tv), we drove to Arlington to stay in a hotel.  We were hot, humid, bored out of our minds, covered in mosquitoes, and I decided Roxanne was too old and feeble to stay in an un-air conditioned house.  Plus, I really wanted a shower and a hot meal.  We stayed one night, long enough to stop fighting with each other, then went home to wait out the power/water and start to clean up.  The question we most wondered is, how would this have gone if we had kids?

The reason why I am writing about all of this instead of reviewing my vacation is that Hurricane Irene is headed our way.  This time, it's not just us and our two dogs, but the kids to worry about as well.  I plan to fuel up the Batmobile, in case I need to use it for A/C and DVD playing, and charge the portable DVD players and other electronics.  I can raid the gift closet for legos and other distractions.

I stopped at the grocery store last night on my way home from work.  I needed to go anyway, but picked up bottled water (we are usually a Brita/reusable bottle family), bread, milk, and toilet paper.  If the power goes out, my picky eater Batman may be SOL while the rest of us subsist on PB&J.  I also need to get some dog food, just in case.  Last night, we were told there was a slim chance it would hit us.  Today, we are told to expect a full tropical storm and I think I might have to make another trip to the store.  And I need to dig through the packed kitchen crap and find my pitchers to store more water.

As the west coasters continue to mock us for having one tiny earthquake earlier this week, I worry about the how the cracked buildings and monuments will withstand 100+ mile per hour winds.  And I plan my trip to the liquor store for hurricane supplies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You know those moments when you are living your life, everything is in its normal order (or disorder, in my case) then something/someone holds a mirror up to your face and you realize something about yourself that changes your entire outlook on life?  And it's so simple and so there that you wonder why it never occured to you before.

I had one today, when I was checking out Rants from Mommyland and came across this post

Holy Crap! 

I am Julia Sugarbaker! 

But you know, it makes perfect sense.  All my television watching life I've aspired to be a Marcia or Rachel but, in reality, I AM Julia Sugarbaker.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  I've been her my entire life and just too blind to see it.

 Julia: I do not think everyone in America is ignorant! Far from it! But we are today, probably, the most uneducated, under read, and illiterate nation in the western hemisphere. Which makes it all the more puzzling to me why the biggest question on your small mind is whether or not little Johnny is gonna recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning! I'll tell you something else, Mr. Brickett. I have had it up to here with you and your phony issues and your Yankee Doodle yakking! If you like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance everyday then I think you should do it! In the car! In the shower! Wherever the mood strikes you! But don't try to tell me when or where I have to say or do or salute anything, because I am an American too, and that is what being an American is all about! And another thing, I am sick and tired of being made to feel that if I am not a member of a little family with 2.4 children who goes just to Jerry Fallwell's church and puts their hands over their hearts every morning that I am unreligious, unpatriotic, and un-American! Because I've got news for you, Mr. Brickett. All liberals are not kooks, anymore than all conservatives are fascists! And the last time I checked, God was neither a Democratic nor a Republican! And just for your information, yes I am a liberal, but I am also a Christian. And I get down on my knees and pray everyday - on my own turf - on my own time. One of the things that I pray for, Mr. Brickett is that people with power will get good sense, and that people with good sense will get power... and that the rest of us will be blessed with the patience and the strength to survive the people like you in the meantime!
Man, it's good to be me and totally justifies me yelling at the ass in the parking garage yesterday.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Holy earthquakes, Batman!

Today is a beautiful amazing day in August.  This sort of day never happens in DC, and I'm sure that someone here sold their soul to the devil in exchange for it - it's that rare.  I had a breezy post floating around in my head but then we had an earthquake.  Huh?  What the heck?!?

USGS is reporting that it was a 5.9, centered 87 miles south of here (or 62 miles south of my house.)  There has been construction outside my window all morning, so my first thought was construction gone wrong.  Then I thought bomb.  Finally, my brain grasped on to the idea of an earthquake.  I'm a West Coast girl.  My first memory of an earthquake is when I was seven or so, and my biggest earthquake was the Loma Prieta in 1989.  (That was a pretty fucking big ass earthquake, excuse my French.)

Daycare reports that the kids are fine.  The Spouse has been evacuated and is heading home to check on the house, then to get the kids.  Our neighbors report that some pictures and decorations fell off the walls.  I'm ahead of that game, because I don't hand stuff up!  Ha!  I just prop it against the wall.  Thankfully, the china cabinet is trapped in a corner of the living room, with cabinets and things wedged against it, so that should be fine.  The bookcases were affixed to the walls with the introduction of Baby Batman.  I'm crossing my fingers that it's no big deal.  My new kitchen better not have been touched...

Monday, August 22, 2011

What I wore today

I'm back at my desk, though my brain may still be on vacation.  It's August in DC, so it's likely that everyone else sent their brains on vacation and my lack of intelligence will go unnoticed.  In protest of the end of vacation and in celebration of August recess, this is what I wore to work today:

My favorite dress (LL Bean) in navy, not this print:

Cute and comfy (Crocs!?!) wedges:

And my summer vacation bag:

Perfect for a casual August day in the office, or drinks at the Ritz in Georgetown (on the schedule for tonight.)  Every so often, this mom is sorta kinda a do.

Friday, August 12, 2011

This is a shameless rip off from a talented artist, and is by no means an attempt to steal or plagiarize his idea.  But how awesome is this:

You can buy yourself a copy here:  Of course, I would rather buy the GPS.

The Spouse and I are taking our very pale children on a vacation next week while our kitchen gets 3/4 of the way finished.  Looking forward to seeing it almost put together upon our return.

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Mom Edition

Robin hates getting his hair cut.  He fights like a wildcat, with growling, thrashing, scratching, and some biting.  It's not pleasant.  We've tried various options and hair stylists.  The only successful cut thus far was at Cartoon Cuts in the local mall, which promptly went out of business probably due to PTSD from dealing with my kid.  A few months ago, I gave him what I referred to as a "half haircut" because he wouldn't sit still for more. 

A week ago, The Spouse and I agreed that Robin needed a haircut.  It was too long and shaggy, it was hot, it would get drenched with sweat, he hated having it washed or dried.  I told The Spouse that I wanted to shave it off using a relatively short attachment on the clippers, buzz it, and be done with it for two months or so.  Surprisingly, The Spouse agreed to the idea - probably because we could deal with the tears and tantrum  in the privacy of our own home.  Last night, I decided the time had come.  We spread a sheet in the bathroom, put a #3 attachment on the clippers, and got to work.  It was not pleasant.  There was no edging around the ears nor clipping the hairline at the back of the neck.  I put a #1 on the clippers to do the bottom of the back of his neck, then dumped him in the shower.  Once he was clean and dry, I brushed his teeth, read him a book, and got him in bed.

Batman was holding out for me to buy a cape because he hates to get the little hairs all over him.  Surprisingly, he decided after all of Robin's drama, he would get his hair cut last night, too.  He stripped to the buff and stood patiently while I cut his hair.  (In another shocking turn of events, he also sat quietly through church on Sunday.  The entire service!  He's maturing before my eyes.)  He was mostly patient while The Spouse did the trim work around the ears and neck.  He got a much better haircut than Robin did and, with the money I saved, I will buy him a cape for the next time I cut their hair.  He, too, got in the shower, then in pjs for bed. 

Robin got his revenge later that night, when he woke up with growing pains at 12:30.  Then Batman was up with growing pains at 2:00.  Then the spouse and dogs woke me up at 5:30 when they finally straggled upstairs after falling asleep in front of the tv.  I had wondered why my migraines had gone away after being a daily occurance for weeks.  And today, one is back in residence over my right eye.  I'm sure it was because we went for a period of time without growing pains and now they are back and I'm getting up multiple times per night.  Joy!

I dropped the boys off at daycare/summer camp today, and I must say they looked sharp.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I have to go to the store tonight after work because of the dogs.  The damn dogs are out of dog food.  They also got the hamburger buns for tonight's dinner off the table, ate them, and left shards of plastic wrap around the living room.  In retaliation, instead of going to the pet store for the super fancy expensive sensitive skin dog food that Leo favors, I am going to the grocery store to pick up whatever (sensitive) smaller bag it might happen to carry.  I would have made the special trip for them, but they fucked me and they will have to live (scratch) with the consequences.

Moral of the story:  Don't fuck with the person with the opposable thumbs and car keys.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Batman has started his vacation countdown.  What is amazing to me is that he remembers where we are going and what we have said we are going to do when we get there - in detail.  I have used broad strokes to describe the general gist of what we are going to do, but he has remembered those details down to the day.  Heck, I don't even remember what I told him.  Last night, we were walking from dinner to the grocery store and he pointed at Panera Bread and said, "That was where we ate breakfast last year, in California."  While it should not amaze me that his memory is this good - mine was, when I was a child - it still never ceases to amaze me what kind of crap I tell this kid and that he files it away for future use.

I tend to tell my kids the truth.  The Spouse is not really a fan of it.  Not that he wants me to lie to the kids, but he doesn't think I should be so straight up and down with what I tell them and how.  From the time they were born, I have never talked down to them.  I am not a fan of baby talk.  I explain complex political ideology, physics, death, finances (personal and government), why the Beatles and Elvis paved the way for modern rock music, and the inner workings of the U.S. government.  Sure, they look at me with blank faces and think momma has lost her marbles again, but every so often they will spit out awesome facts like, "Fat Dog is going to meet you at the all-you-can-eat Milk Bone bar in Heaven."  Yep, that's a fact, Jack, and if you want to find momma when you die, look for me there. 

There are some things I don't jump to tell them, before I think they're (I'm) ready.  I haven't started the facts of life, other than the basics - that they were in my belly and the dr helped me evict them.  They know their friend's mom has a baby in her belly.  Thankfully, they haven't asked how the baby got there.  But I'm prepared, as much as any parent can be, to tell them how you take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both and there you have The Facts of Life.

Of course, some truths will be deliberately withheld for as long as I can get away with it.  I think every kid should believe in the magic of Christmas and the Tooth Fairy - I still do. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

August recess

I'm so burnt out.  Thank goodness August recess has arrived.  Still, the kitchen remodel continues so there won't be a break from that.  Maybe if I get a really good nap this weekend I'll start perking up?

Things that have burnt me out:

- Congress.  For the love of God, people, do your damn job!  Leaving for recess without finishing the FAA bill was shameful.  It has now been finished, but it should have been addressed earlier.  And the debt limit...I am so sick of it all.  I hate the polarization of DC these days.  The anger and fighting do nothing but further hurt the situation.  We need to find a way to work together and move forward.

- The crisis in the Horn of Africa.  There is no way to exaggerate the depth of this famine.  It's a crisis that we Americans have been blessed to never have to experience.  Times are tough here, sure, but it's even worse over there. Do something.  Donate money or time.  DO SOMETHING!!

- My house.  It's only been one week, so I am in no position to complain, but I"m looking forward to having my house back, even if it is a piece of shit.  After one week, the cabinets are completely installed.  Now for flooring, back splash, counters, plumbing, and electricity. 

- Back to school.  Batman starts public school this year.  I'm worried over his before/after school care and whether I have made the right choices for him.  I'm worried about whether I should put him in competitive soccer or just leave him in swim lessons.  I'm worried about the change in routine.  I'm worried about juggling four, yes, FOUR different child care/school arrangements for the coming school year. 

- Vacation.  We punted this year.  We were going to reward ourselves with a great all inclusive vacation this year.  For a variety of reasons, that's not happening this year.  We are taking a vacation, but we are traveling by car, staying somewhat local, and have to be with our kids 24/7 the entire week.  Not what we wanted, but it's what we've got.

- The heat.  DC's heat and humidity have burned me out.  We've had a respite this week and it's been lovely.

Gah, I'm boring.  TGIF!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sally!

My Salligator is 10 years old (more or less) today.  We brought her home nine years ago today, when she was a year old (more or less).

Sally at 10 years:Weight: 45ish
Teeth: still has most of them, but lost two the year during a dental cleaning.
Sleep schedule: Marathon napper and typically sleeps through the night.  Sometimes wakes me up to go out.
Food: Yes, please.  She would love to eat your food, her food, Leo's food, moldy food, or anything else remotely edible.  She is a furry vacuum cleaner, and does a better job than the Dyson.
Milestones:  She has achieved senior dog status at the vet. 
Nicknames: Salligator, Cuddle Bug, Baby Girl
Hobbies:  Eating, napping, basking in the sun, barking at Viking pillagers, barking at imagined Viking pillagers, sleeping on forbidden furniture, taking rawhide away from Leo once he has softened the edges, shedding.

Sally was brought home when Roxanne was on her last legs.  Surprisingly, the addition of Sally bought Rox a few more years.  Rox was never a dog's dog, but Sally adored Roxanne and followed her around willing her to play.  Roxanne brought our scared broken dog out of her shell and back to life.  We are so very lucky that Sally turned out the way she did.  She could have been a frightful angry dog, full of fear agression but she's not.  She is full of love and care for her family, even if the superheros do sometimes disturb her peace.  No matter what "love" and "affection" they shower on her, she will lay there and take it until they (are ordered to) stop. 

I love you, baby girl.  You and me against the boys, ok? 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kumbaya My Lord, Kumbaya

Words cannot describe how much I miss summer camp.  I am a summer camp junkie.  I attended summer camp, then worked at two summer camps.  I spent my endless summer of 1995-96 graduating from college, working at summer camp, working at a resort in the South Pacific, then back to California for my final summer as a camp director.  Sniff.  It was a great 18 months.

Summer camp - when done right -  is a place where everyone finds their inner cool self.  There are no geeks at summer camp.  No kid without a posse.  It's the job of counselors and support staff to make sure that even the quirkiest child finds his niche.  Every child dances on Friday night.  Every kid gets a starring role in the camp fire skit.  Lifelong memories are created in arts and crafts (dreamweavers today, kids!), the showers (cold!), and chatting during rest time.

The Spouse was not a summer camp attendee.  He does not understand the comraderie that comes from sleeping under the stars at the lake or playing a color war.  He does not understand the innate coolness that comes with sporting a tie dyed shirt you made and a ribbon braided into your hair.  He was profoundly confused when I told him that I wanted to fly cross country next year - with the children - to attend a summer camp reunion and he could come.  Or not.  To see people I haven't seen in nearly 20 years. 

As a parent, I both cheer and worry for the day when Batman and Robin are old enough for sleep away camp.  I can't wait for them to start off on that adventure.  It will foster independence.  They will meet best friends that they might only see two weeks out of the year.  They will learn the camp fire songs that still echo in my head - and we can sing rounds in the car!!  But I worry about the scruples of the camp staff, the screening of the counselors, the oversight, and a million other things.  Yet, I know that the experience of summer camp is a ritual for the parents as well as the children.  A lesson in letting go, temporarily, but practicing for the empty nest.

I have put us on the waiting list for a slot at the Tyler Place, a family camp in Vermont.  The Spouse went along with it only because the children's programs will bring us a few hours of quiet per day. For him.  I will be at the archery range, or maybe tie dying a shirt.  And I'm certain there will be a ribbon braided in my hair.

If someone offered me a job today, I would be sorely tempted to shuck my family and responsibilities in return for s'mores, singing, and skits around the campfire. 

Goodnight Apache, Goodnight Red Barn.