Sunday, March 15, 2015

Oh The Things We'll Learn!

As the deadline for the Crystal Spring yearbook rapidly approaches, conveniently situated right before spring break, I've been spending a lot of time at school trying to get all the needed pictures. The teacher of the year was chosen recently and necessitated multiple trips. They chose the music instructor and I scheduled several sessions in order to photograph her with as many different classes and instruments as possible.

One day it was 5th grade band. Another was 4th grade on the xylophones. Then, to my complete surprise, it was 3rd grade learning guitar!

Naturally, E had not mentioned this at all. Nor had he practiced at home on Tim's old guitar. But it was a pleasant surprise to find them all strumming away.

And hilarious as they played the opening notes of Smoke on the Water, which, while part of the soundtrack of my childhood, was completely unknown to all the kids. Who knew Ms. Jensen liked to rock out.

I did an informal survey of the other 3rd grade parents and, apart from one, they were also unaware of their budding Hendrix. As for us, we're going to hope one of these instruments takes and Eion develops some interest in music. But if not, I know xylophones and band are on the docket for the next two years!

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's Good to Have a Professional on Call

As soon as the girls were cast, I told the principal of the middle school I would be happy to help with costumes. So this week, she sent Ariel's mom my way. The costume had been purchased but the shirt needed to be longer and they wanted it to be more "fishy." I googled some ideas, thought about it, and did what any smart girl with a professional costumer for a brother would do, I texted him these pictures and asked for help.

He told me to make a peplum (don't worry, I had to google that one too) and sensing my confusion, sketched it out and sent me a text with instructions.

The end result was slightly less fancy than his design, you have to correct for talent, but all sparkly and fishy! And a reminder that I have the best brother ever!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Inching Ever Closer to Costa Rica

About a week ago, it dawned on me that we really needed to make sure we had all the appropriate gear for Costa Rica. The shopping around here is pretty much limited, our Gap even closed recently, and you never know how mail order is going to work out.

Eion - he was all set! We are blessed with many hand me downs and he needs not a thing. Would that it were the case for everyone else.

Maggie needed little - just some new pool coverups and a rash guard. I needed a couple of skorts for zip lining or anything for which a sundress was no good.

Then there was Morrigan. She's grown the most out of any of the kids and had almost nothing that fit. She and I, well, we don't shop well together. It probably has to do with the fact that I don't much care to shop anyway and I'm trying to make her dress in a practical, read: old woman, way. So I came up with the brilliant idea to send her to the mall with her friends and a budget. Katie, I told myself, you are a genius!

And I felt that way right up until I picked her and her friend up four hours later, finding she had not purchased shorts.

Me: What do you mean you didn't get shorts?
Morrigan: I couldn't find any.
Me: You only had four things on your list: sundress, shorts, shirts, and a bathing suit!
Friend: In her defense, all the shorts we saw were way too short for your taste.

Hmm. It turned rather ugly when I more closely examined the contents of her bags and found a sweater - a really winter weight one, a long sleeve shirt, and hand wash only dress. Not to mention, a strapless bikini, normally fine but we are surfing. Having had my own girls escape in the ocean (and waterparks and just about everywhere else) I knew this was less than ideal.

Arguing ensured. Followed by tears.

Then I looked online at some of the stores in our mall and found a dazzling display of shorts seemingly designed to cover absolutely nothing.

I started to feel that maybe I had over-reacted. And such feelings led me to let her keep the unseasonal gear, though really that might just have been wanting to minimize my mall time the next day by not having returns. We found some suitable but fashionable shorts at American Eagle Outfitters and were most of the way there.

The bad news was we had to mail order one of the hardest things to fit, another bathing suit. So it was off to Zappos, land of free shipping and returns. I was shocked, shocked I tell you, when the box came today and everything - swimsuit, rash guard, and size narrow shoes, always a tough one, fit. It must be karma for keeping my sanity in the mall.

Only 20 more days...

Friday, March 6, 2015

And By Fixed You Mean...

After waiting the requisite time indicated by US Airways, our flights to Costa Rica were indeed not fixed. Their customer service line still had unbelievably long wait times, damn you winter, so it was back out to the airport where I was fortunate enough to find the same person I spoke with the week before, eliminating the need to start the story from the beginning.

The end result is our flight is fixed, and by fixed I mean we get to leave a day early, overnight in Charlotte at our own expense, Tim has to miss a half day of work, and the following day we get to Costa Rica. To this I have to say, nice mother*cking customer service US Airways. [The lady at the airport was quite nice. She did the best she could. My message here is for corporate.]

But now that it is done, we can move on with the remaining planning!

The first order of business is making sure the whole family has the right gear. Tim and I are mostly set, but the ever growing children mean that they need various items to be prepared for vacation fun. Eion is in the best shape. Maggie only needs a few things. Morrigan, well, she needs an entire summer wardrobe.

Oh and a break here to welcome new readers! Word in the middle school is Morrigan's friends have found the blog, thank you google, and have come on board. Welcome and enjoy ladies!

Speaking of those friends, neither Morrigan nor I enjoy clothes shopping together. It generally ends in disaster, headaches, and/or tears, on my part anyway. I need this not at all. The solution? Morrigan gets a clothing budget and I am taking her and her friends to the mall where they will embark on Mission Dress Morrigan for Summer. I will happily be at home, learning more about photoshop.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Jurassic Weekend

Well, maybe a jurassic 10 minutes. Succumbing to boredom and general winter malaise, I decided it was time to get out. There were two choices. The first was Raptors Live at the science museum. This was quickly discarded due to our family's current general disdain of birds of prey, or as we like to call them, chicken murderers. I didn't think another animal expert needed to be regaled with The Death of Putin.

The other option was something at the civic center called Jurassic Quest, a collection of life size animatronic dinosaurs. Eion is into dinos and interested in going. We have a winner.

Sort of.

This also could have been labeled Minutes of Expensive Fun.

But after swallowing the entry fee of $52 for three of us, the kids admittedly had fun. It was just a pricey less than an hour experience. Live and learn.

For those of you who have been saying to yourselves, please, not another chicken post, you will come to rue the day you wanted me to get a new fixation. Because now it is Photoshop, all the time! I'm taking an actual online course but supplementing it with youtube tutorials. My favorite so far is some hipster who runs a site called Phlearn. 

Today's project was repairing a picture of me and my cousin, circa 1971. This is the original.

You can see that somewhere along the way, the photo was cracked and has a few scratches. But just a half hour session with Phlearn and some playing around in Photoshop and we have no more crack!

With the massive number of pictures accumulated over years, I may never leave my computer again!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Been, Well, Quite a Week

The kids finally went back to school on Tuesday, with a 2 hour delay, but let's be clear, I am not complaining! They were there for one and a half whole days before we got another three inches of snow, canceling school again today.

What did I accomplish in that one and a half day period where things were back to normal? Well not a whole hell of a lot, thanks to our friends at US Airways. Tuesday night, I was about to call a potential spring break housesit and thought I'd best look up the times of our flight. Heading over to the US Airways site, my investigation soon turned to panic upon discovering that our out bound flight was completely untenable. There are three legs: Roanoke to Charlotte, Charlotte to Miami, and Miami to Costa Rica. The Charlotte to Miami has us getting in at 6pm, which is unfortunate because the plane to Costa Rice leaves at 11am.

This is a problem.

I called US Airways right away. Sadly for me, storms all over the eastern seaboard have caused all sorts of flight cancellations and the wait time was "longer than normal." What the hell, I have time. Four hours later, never having spoken to an agent, I just went to bed.

The next day, I woke up early, anxiety ridden, at 5:30am and called US Air back immediately. I spent the next eight hours on hold and never spoke with anyone. Seriously. Having unlimited minutes, I just put the phone on speaker and went about my day, yes, making me the jerk in the store with the phone on speaker.

At one point, we went to the airport to try to get some help. The desk agent said she was loathe to change anything and said to check back in a week, feeling it would all work out. Wanting a second opinion, I remained on hold.

We're traveling with two other families, both of whom managed to get through without the extended wait and changed their flights, but to far less desirable options, one arriving at night and the other having an overnight layover in Miami. We were still unsure what was going to happen to us.

I continued my holding game as I went to get my second Hep A/Hep B booster, ouch. Somewhere in the building, I lost signal, 8 hours in.

Since US Air just merged with American, I thought what the hell, I'll call them. After an incredibly brief wait of ten minutes, help was on the line. Sadly, she couldn't really assist as their computer systems were not fully merged BUT she was able to skip the line and get a US Air rep on the phone directly, a trick which would have been helpful before I spent 12 hours on hold but I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth! Long story short, the US Air employee told me a couple of things. She said the 8 hour wait was common this week which is just insane, insane I tell you. She also agreed with the woman from the airport and promised me that if I waited until March 3rd, it would all work out.

None of this is making me feel any better. But with nothing to be done for a week, I am enjoying my snow day, playing with Photoshop. Today I learned to do this:

And this:

So if you need color splash or tie dye lamb pictures, I am your girl.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oh Good, More Snow

We woke up to more snow falling this morning. Tim was off to work, from which I really hope he is released early considering how bad the roads are, so it was up to me and the kids to clear the driveway. I put them all on notice to suit up and head out to work. Maggie promptly asked that Eion stay inside.

Maggie: Can we just do this without Eion?
Me: I know he's not as good at shoveling as you are but I wanted to be fair.
Maggie: Really, we are better off without him. He can stay in.
Me: I don't ever want to hear about this in therapy as The Time Mom Didn't Make E Work.
Maggie: Deal.

She was the first out with me and a happy, efficient worker. Morrigan came out next and complained E wasn't helping. When I explained why, she seemingly took a page from his playbook and endeavored to be the slowest shoveler in history.

And she wouldn't pose for the requisite pictures.

In some sort of reverse psychology situation, Eion came out anyway because he wanted to help. 

It wasn't perfect and some were happier than others, but we got the job done. Not that a half hour later you can tell. May be a long, snowy day!