Friday, August 26, 2011

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Well, unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard that Virginia had an earthquake. It was defiantly a new experience for me and honestly one that I wasn't missing. Lily has been at camp every afternoon this week. I took advantage of the "Lily-free" time by scheduling all of Caroline's annual doctors appointments. Caroline was non too happy about this, so I bribed her with Starbucks (also a chance to use up my Starbucks' gift cards).

On Tuesday, we were sitting outside of Starbucks sipping frosty drinks and goofy around before her dentist appointment. All of the sudden the ground started shaking. At first, I thought that it was a truck, then I thought that it was artillery practice from Quantico Marine Core Base. Ladies came running out of the nail salon next door and a bunch of guys dashed out of Starbucks, laptops in hand. Luckily, we had a native Californian sitting outside with us. She calmly told us that it was an earthquake and to just sit still. When it was over, Caroline and I were excited to have experienced something that we never had before, then it sunk in: We just been in an earthquake!! We did what everyone here does in the event of major news and ran to the car to turn on the local news. That's when we heard how big it was. I tried to call my family, but the cell lines were jammed. This prompted a discussion about 9-11. We drove over to the dance studio to check on Lily. She was fine. Everyone we met was excited and wanted to tell their story. The radio announcers kept referring to it as a "shared experience." I'd agree. I was worried that we wouldn't be able to get into the dentist office because it was on the base, but it wasn't a problem.

The rest of this week has been a little stressful. Between aftershocks, thunder storms and the threat of a hurricane this weekend, everyone has been on edge. It has also been hard not to be a little silly about the whole thing and accuse people of over reacting. If you are on the east coast, stay drive and still this weekend. I am hoping that we don't loose power and can use the chance to have another Simpson movie marathon!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Next Generation

I went to an educational leadership workshop last week with my principal and some other teachers. Aside form the fact that I'd thrown my back out two days earlier and was in a ton of pain, it was a wonderful day. I am really jazzed to try science notebooks with my students this year and got tons of tips. But even better than that were the keynote speakers.

The first speaker was an expert in teaching culturally diverse students. That part was interesting, but it wasn't anything that I hadn't heard before. What really piqued my interest, though was her information about the next generation: The Millennials. This generation considers themselves citizens of the world. They don't see race, religion, or culture. They feel connected to the world through the Internet. They are very informed and can get information instantly. They consider their music, movies, books, and television shows to be very important. They are politically aware. My daughter is one of them.

I am sure that I have blogged about the time that I had my girl scouts plan an activity for Lily's Daisy troop. While they were supposed to be planning, all I heard from the den was gossiping, giggling, texting, and music. I went out there expecting to have seen nothing completed. Nope! While all of that was going on, they had created a power point, lesson plan, poster, and CD of related children's music. Their minds work and process in such a different way. Good grief, I'm a dinosaur. Did my parents ever feel this out of touch?

The closing speaker broke my heart. He had survived the shooting at Columbine in 1999, while his sister had not. His family set up an organization in her memory called Rachel's Challenge. Before her death she had written an essay encouraging others to start a "chain reaction of kindness." The organization holds workshops and presentations encouraging people to do the same. The part that really hit me was when he explained that he regretted that the last words that he spoke to his sister were part of a fight. Before I had sat down to watch him speak, I'd checked my voice mail and heard a very long tear filled complaint from Lily (how did she get my number?) about how this babysitter(her older sister) wasn't working out for her and this was not the fun day she'd had in mind and would I come get her. I briefly wondered if this young man would come and speak to my bickering children.

I left the workshop full of hope. Sometimes, I wonder about the next generation. What kind of leaders would they be. I am sure that our parents wondered them same about us and their parents about them. The next generation is defiantly different than we are, but their seems to be an underlying sense of compassion above all else. I love the idea that the racial divide is closing. My children see no color all they see is good person or not so good person.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Well, we went from a no pet household to a small zoo. We now have one sassy rabbit the size of a small dog and two baby turtles in a 50 gallon tank who will live about 20 years and both grow to the size of dinner plates. So what was missing? A dog of course! We will be adopting a medium sized terrier mix this week. She is cream and white with lots of wiry hair. She is 1 year old and very sweet. She needs training, but is a lot of fun. Her name is Buffy, I know it doesn't really seem like our kind of name, but we can't change it. We can, however change our perception of it. She will be formally known as Buffy The Vampire Slayer Simpson in honor of my twilight hating oldest child:) Oh and she'll have a pink collar for our youngest fashionista child (Caroline and I wanted a black collar with studs, but oh well).

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Last week Rob called me with very exciting news. He'd bought tickets for us to go see the Potomac Nationals (our local minor league baseball team). Stephen Strasburg was pitching. For those of you who don't know, he's the pitcher for the Washington Nationals who is currently in rehab. Anyway, this is exciting news for our little suburb! We are all excited and by Friday it's a party atmosphere. The game started at 7:00pm and was completely sold out. I planned to get there at 5:00, stack out our grandstand seats and wait for Rob. The girls and I went to the pool in the morning and by 4:30 were ready to leave and get ready for the game. Caroline took the car keys to unlock and I helped Lily get dressed.

As Lily and I left the pool, we ran into a white faced Caroline holding nothing. Oh man! I knew this was going too well! I thought she'd locked the keys in the car, but remember my kids are unique, instead she'd dropped them down an 8 ft deep sewage drain. There was no need to scold, she felt horrible. After many phone calls and the stellar problem solving skills that I have developed after years of just these sorts of screwy situations, I had a plan.

My wonderful friend came and picked us up. She drove us home and waited while we changed. Luckily, she lives right across the street from the stadium, so she dropped us off on her way home. The stadium was already packed at 5:30! The highlight was the the mascot, Uncle Slam, signed Lily's little stuffed Uncle Slam. She was over the moon. We spent the next hour and a half sitting in the hot sun with some very polite and some not so polite people. Finally the game started. Rob had a ball keeping track of how fast Strasburg was pitching (at one point he threw the ball 99mph). He was finished pitching by the 3rd inning. By that point the beer was flowing and we figured it would be best to leave. Rob and I went home and grabbed a flashlight and the tree trimmers to try to fish the keys out of the drain, but no luck.

The next day we used our best MacGyver skills and tried to get them out with string, magnets, and coat hangers, but still no luck! It rained very hard the rest of the weekend and by Monday they were washed away. The bummer of it all is it will cost $140 to replace the car key. Caroline is going to babysit for us to pay off the cost.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Just What the Doctor Ordered

My mom was right; I have been too busy this summer. I have loved all of the traveling and hustle and bustle, but last week was a glorious break. On Monday and Tuesday, we simply hung close to home. I went to the gym to work out, cleaned up the house, took Lily to swim lessons, went to the pool, and made wonderful dinners. Lily is doing great with her swim lessons; before I know it my swim school drop out will be tearing across the water.

On Wednesday, after swim lessons, I drove the girls to West Virginia to stay with their grandparents for four days. Driving by myself on long trips is not my strong suit. The nice part about trips on my own with the girls is Caroline sits up front and Lily has the back all to herself, therefore no fights! We listened to the first few chapters of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Later, we switched to the kids' station on satellite radio. Even Caroline has started to enjoy listening to it. Kids music has improved so much over the years. Once we got into the mountains, it started to rain. Between the downpours and trucks the ride got a little hairy, but we made it! Rob's sister met us partway so I didn't have to drive all the way out to the farm. On the drive back, there was even more rain and fog. Again, I made it fine (with the help of a sing along to the 50's station). By the time I got home I had been driving for 8 1/2 hours. I was really worried that I'd get lost. I was pretty impressed with myself.

On my first kid free day, I used the time to work on an online class and catch up on my T.V. I watched The Closer, an french film with subtitles, and Food Network. There were no interruptions, no arguments, and no demanding to watch something different. I can't remember the last time I had uninterrupted T.V. time. On the next day I ran countless errands without anyone asking for a snack, a drink, needing to go the bathroom, or trying to change the radio station. I met my friends for lunch. That night Rob and I went

to the movies. We spent Saturday looking at dogs and went out to dinner.

On Sunday, we drove to West Virginia to pick up the girls. Rob commented on what a nice trip it was without yelling in the backseat. On the way we got a flat tire. That was even more manageable without kids.

The girls had a great time and I hope my in laws did too. Of course they bickered all the way home, but it was easy to ignore them when we were so rested.Heck, we even joked about it. Things are back to normal now. Everyone is relaxed and glad to be back together.