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!

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Nine Day Weekend

To the complete and utter delight of the children, there was no school at all this week. Between snow, icy roads, and unseasonably cold temperatures, classes were all cancelled. Tim had to go back to work on Wednesday and postulated that it would be better than being trapped in the house with cabin fever. 

Honestly, it hasn't been bad. The kids are good at self entertainment. Maggie even struck out on her own to her friend Rosie's, where they went sledding and made hot chocolate. We've cooked, watched movies, and played board games. It's been relaxing.

Also this week, I started an online Photoshop class. I used it for some basics years ago, before I bought a Mac, but once I made the switch to Apple and my old program was incompatible, I was reticent to buy a new version. It was pretty spend. So I just used iPhoto, an inferior bit suitable product. But recently, Adobe changed its model and offers Photoshop as a subscription - $9.99 a month. Over time it is likely to be more expensive, but you always have the most up to date version.

One of my first assignments was to paint over this picture,

and make it into this! Not something to be framed, but fun to play with. 

There was much worry about the safety of the Peepers in the extreme cold. I researched and all the chicken blogs said not to worry, they were built for this. They didn't need a heat lamp. Seems "they" were right. They don't seem to be enjoying the weather, but they are all alive and well.

Tomorrow we are due for more snow, which has the kids speculating that maybe school will be cancelled Monday as well. We'll see if they are disappointed!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow and Sun

Last night, in spite of the cold and driving snow, it was back out for more sledding, where the children lasted much longer than one could have anticipated.

Today is, fortunately, much nicer. The neighbor girls let us know they were going out and the kids all played in the snow and went sledding. At least until Maggie discovered her friend was home from DC and disappeared to find her. Can't win them all. 

And after a day of hiding in the coop, even the chickens made it out!

Monday, February 16, 2015

1st Snow of the Season

Save the dusting of snow we received on Thanksgiving, this winter has been mild and without the white stuff. Watching friends in Boston get pummeled while we had occasional days of 60 degree weather was surreal, and a little nice.

But we are spared no more! Today it has been coming down all day and looks like we'll get about a foot of snow. It wasn't supposed to get started until 10am so Tim and I went to the gym and then out to Sam's Club for some extra provisions. By the time we left to go back home, things were already getting dicey and we knew we were in for the day.

This is the first weather we've had that the chickens just refused to go out. They've been holed up in their coop all day, leaving us to rotate their waterers as they freeze over.

But snow means the first sledding of the year! Our neighbors, Tyler and Jen, are always sweet and let the kids sled down their driveway. We've got one round under our belts for the day but with all the accumulation, we're sure to go out again.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Redecorating By Cheapy-skate

My friend April recently did some remodeling that turned out great. But after looking at it, we came home and thought, wow, we have some work to do here. With what is looking to be an expensive deck remodel coming up, we were loathe to spend to much money. Bring on the cheapskate decorators!

First on deck - the dining room chairs. We had people over for dinner the other day and I just thought our dining room chairs were bordering on embarrassing. Granted, we bought this set knowing it would be in high use by kids, so it isn't upper end. But things have gotten downright dank.

Case in point:

Let's move in a little closer...

These needed help. So it was off to the fabric store, where we found new material for a total of $84. We picked up an electric style gun as well for $29. Then it was an afternoon of labor.

This is exactly what I wanted for Valentine's Day!

Just a few hours later and voila! Begone ugly! (Assuming you like the new fabric, of course.)

Emboldened by our success, we looked to improve elsewhere. We had a couple of related problems. Maggie didn't like her desk and the computer desk was a room dominating monolith. Look at it looming in the corner, monopolizing way more real estate than it deserves.

With screwdrivers and saws in hand, we set out to dismantle the entertainment center and make it into Maggie's new desk.

With the desk underway, she needed a chair. We headed out to the furniture store. It was looking bleak until we happened on a return table and chairs, which had one too many chairs. The store was willing to sell us the chair for $42 and Maggie had a new set up!

Her old desk, with a surface too bumpy for writing but just fine for computers, moved downstairs to house my computer. Look at how much more open this is!

The next steps look like they will include an interior decorator, making them far more expensive, but so far, we spruced up three rooms for $155! A weekend well spent.