Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What We're Reading--Christmas Eve 2013

Cate is still plugging away at Warriors books. I've been reading this one to her every night. It's basically a little bio of all the cats (the major ones, I guess) in the series. It means I get to find out the fate of some of the characters (Fireheart!), but it also means I now know just how many of them die.

Frances is slowly making her way through Batman and Philosophy. She says the sentences are like the Sydney Opera House, by which she seems to mean fancy and impressive. She seems to like this about the book.

Brian's moved on to a Robert Jordan book I can't remember the name of. I really should pay more attention. Don't tell him.

I gave up on the Sabrina Jeffries book. It was an interesting enough story, but it was also the third in a three-book series and I felt like I was missing a lot. Maybe I'll go back to the first in the series. I did read, and now highly recommend, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It was an amazing coming of age tale that absolutely nailed fandom and first love and family drama. So so good, that book. 

I'm on to The Awesome Girl's Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men by Ernessa T. Carter, which I'm also having a good time with. It features black girls who went to Smith and have purple mohawks and make their living as life coaches. And it's funny and well-written. I'm pleasantly surprised by this book.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What We're Reading--Dec. 15, 2013

The number of books in our house is ridiculous. Truly. Even if you cut us some slack because one of us is a lit professor and one of us works in a bookstore, you might still conclude that we have a problem. Though, all things being equal, it's a good problem to have.

Frances is making her way through The Hobbit (she wants to see the movie and we have a 'read the book before you see the movie rule,' though we don't enforce it like we used to) and Batman and Philosophy. Frances understands philosophy to be a discipline in which people ask questions all day. A book of questions about Batman struck her as the coolest thing ever. She's enjoying it, even though it has "big words and weird sentences."

Cate has discovered the Warriors series. Since there are 6783046 books in this series, this will keep her going for a while. She's reading them all out of order and, as per usual, I only ever read a random chapter out loud to her. Consequently, I know enough about the plot to be incredibly worried about Fireheart and ThunderClan, but not enough to get any resolution. And since Cate will NEVER EVER tell me what happens at the end of the books she's reading, I fear I will never know the fate of these cats.

Brian is reading Book Five of the Harry Turtledove series, The War That Came Early. I'm pretty sure that's what he's reading. I could be wrong. Don't all Harry Turtledove books seem like the exact same book?

I'm reading a Sabrina Jeffries novel, One Night With a Prince. I just finished Sarah MacLean's latest, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished. So good. I highly recommend it and the other books in the Rules of Scoundrels series. And I'm about to start Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde's "biomythography," which I haven't read before and I'm teaching next semester. Good times.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day #19: Brian gets sentimental

I sent Brian in to wake Cate and then I got in the shower. When I got out of the shower, this is what I found:

He said, "I just want to hold my baby while she's still a baby."


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Day #18: Granola!

Yesterday on FB I posted my enthusiasm about making granola for the first time. Today it is done and here's the story:

I like granola and have bought a lot of different kinds of granola from a lot of different places. I've never finished a store bought bag of granola (really, you'd think I would stop buying granola). There's always some problem: too sweet, carob instead of chocolate, pepitas, unsalted cashews, too much of one thing, not enough of another. I figured it was about time to try my hand at making my own.

I used this recipe : I've seen lots of granola recipes, but this one appealed to me because it was simple and basic and seemed like a good choice for a first try.

Here we are after mixing all the ingredients (excuse my crappy pictures).  I cut the recipe in half and still wound up with tons of granola.  The recipe instructed me to bake in the oven at 250 for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. I followed instructions carefully and was quite skeptical when it was time to take it out. It turned a nice golden brown, but it was still moist. I had serious doubts about whether or not this giant mess of oats and wheat germ could actually turn into yummy, crunchy granola goodness.

Guess what!?!? It totally turned into crunchy, yummy granola goodness.

The verdict: this is a great basic granola. It's sweet, but not too sweet (Frances thinks it needs more sugar, but she's 13 and is fueled primarily by gummy worms). The pecans and coconut provide a great crunch. And, I think, it will pair nicely with a wide variety of dried fruit. I went in search of dried apples (can you dry fruit in your own kitchen? do you need a special device? i should google that), but didn't find any. I opted for dried cherries instead and it was perfect.

A job well done, if I do say so myself.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Day #17: reasons why we really don't need a blog

Every once in a while someone will express dismay that we don't blog with more consistency (I'm looking at you Cathy--you should totally comment and say hi).  Here's the thing: on any given day, we're not all that interesting. Sure, the wild-haired girls I live with occasionally do something charming and Brian has made a hobby of undergoing major surgery, but, really, our days are quite mundane.  


1--I raced Cate out of the house for camp this morning. We were racing because, of course, we had nothing for her lunchbox, so I needed to stop at the grocery store before driving across town. And I also needed to be back on this end of town for a 9am dentist appointment.  Those of you who know Cate know that she never rushes for any reason. We were held up this morning because she needed to finish an entry in her charm book.

2--At the dentist I found out I have yet another cavity. Because my teeth are made of papier mâché apparently. I swear I'm putting Dr. Myers's kids through college, all by myself. 

3--I had a productive 2 hour meeting at the Avery Research Center. Have you heard about our conference, Unleashing the Black Erotic?

4--I came home and did some laundry. Frances did the dishes.  Brian did the grocery shopping. Yay teamwork. 

5--I tried to make this for dinner, but I discovered that the bag I thought contained orzo pasta actually contained basmati rice. I went ahead and used the rice but it didn't quite work. The result: a tasty but ultimately unsatisfying dinner. 

6--the children commandeered both the house computer and my work computer to play Animal Jam. That's deeply annoying.

7--I'm making granola. It smells divine. I hope it turns out well. This is my first time trying it. 

There it is. A day in the life. 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Day #16: Charleston Pride

I love how we're all wearing our usual expressions in this picture. At any given moment of any given day, these are our general, individual attitudes about the world.

Charleston had its first Pride Parade today and the Francis-McCann family were out to celebrate.

But before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story: Brian and I are from Louisiana, the land of Mardi Gras and truly fabulous parades. Sadly, Charleston is not a land of fabulous parades (apologies to any native Charlestonians reading this this). We keep going to parades--the Christmas Parade, the MLK Parade, the St. Paddy's Parade--hoping for something amazing and witnessing, instead, teenagers who clearly want to be someplace else and Corvettes. Before going to the Pride Parade, Brian said that if Charleston couldn't pull off an awesome Pride Parade there is just no hope for this place.

The guys from Sugar!!

A mermaid!

This made us all giggle

Happily, Charleston did not disappoint. Everyone was in good spirits. Lots of swag was thrown and handed out (in the picture of us above I'm wearing a lei given to me by a nice gentleman who said I looked like I'd be a good a lay). Each and every person in the parade looked excited to be there. Frances saw her first drag queens. Her mind was blown. And lesbians on motorcycles smoking cigars might be my new favorite thing in the whole world.

It was an excellent way to start our Saturday morning.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Day #15: Cate and the Goblet of Fire

Perhaps some of you have been following our Harry Potter adventures this summer.  Cate, who declared at the beginning of the summer that she was done with the children's section of the library and ready for young adult books, started reading the Harry Potter series.  The books are much beloved at our house. Brian and I read the first three aloud when were were pregnant with Frances. I stood in line for Goblet of Fire, willing Frances not to be born before I got my copy. I was reading Goblet of Fire when I went into labor.  I eventually read them all aloud to her and we celebrated her 11th birthday by going to see the midnight showing of the last film (her reward for finishing all the books her own--you have to read the book before you see the movie at our house).  We love these books and are happy to welcome Cate into the club.

Cate loves these books. She's reading them obsessively. I'll read a chapter to her and then she'll stay awake FOR HOURS and read 8 or 10 or 12 chapters to herself. Which brings us to last night when I found her curled up beneath her covers at 12:30am near the end of Goblet of Fire. "Cate, what are you doing?" I asked. She turned slowly to me, with the most wide-eyed expression, and said, "It's too much. It's just too much, Mommy." Cedric had been killed; Voldermort had returned; and Cate was overwhelmed.

We went to the kitchen for warm milk, she asked if anything important happened in the last chapters, I told her she didn't have to finish it if she didn't want to, and then I put her back to bed. When I went to wake her up this morning, she was curled around the book. She woke up long enough to tell me she finished it and that she was exhausted.

She may not survive Order of the Phoenix. I'm torn about whether or not I should let her read it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day #14: Office Depot to the rescue!!

Text by Frances*
*commentary by Conseula

Today, during an Office Depot run for a computer, Mother* and I were in awe** (although I was the one who was mainly dazzled) by a giant One Direction display. How did my favorite band of all time know we were going to be in this specific store on this exact day? By sheer Directioner will power I tell you! This giant poster to take a picture with, the school supplies for such low prices***, the helpful employees who mocked my Directioner devotion**** all contributed to the fangirl heaven I stumbled upon.

Anyway, is was a great day at the Depot! ;)

*she knows how much I hate when she calls me "mother"
**"awe" is not the word I would use to describe my reaction 
***she would make an excellent Office Depot spokesperson
****the very best part of this whole trip is how much fun the Office Depot employees have clearly been having with the squealing, giggling, fainting girls lining up to take a picture with this giant poster 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 13: Cate in the mountains

Cate has never been to the mountains. We decided to correct that oversight in our parenting this weekend and we drove approximately a katrillion** hours to Jones Gap State Park, near the SC/NC border.

Her initial reaction to seeing the mountain in the distance, from the car? "Wow! That's amazing! It looks almost exactly like the mountains in Minecraft!"

She squealed at the horses, goats, and wild turkey we saw on the drive up the mountain. And once out on the trail, this child, who lives in Charleston and has to cross a bridge over a major body of water to get almost anywhere in this city, had this reaction to seeing the Middle Saluda River up close. 

She was *astounded* and spent much of the hike barefoot and wet. 

Here her father rescues her after she flings herself from a rock she tried and failed to climb.
She conquered a smaller rock.

And here she is looking very much like the wood sprite we always knew she was.

And lest you think I never actually go on any of these adventures, here I am sitting happily with Cate (but also hoping desperately that she doesn't fall face first into the river).

*I do have two kids. Frances is home from camp now and will return to her rightful place on this blog soon, I'm sure.

**why does traveling with children take so long. We were probably in the car for about five hours but it felt like, to use Cate's words, "three very long days"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day #12: Cate and Harry Potter

About a month ago, Cate announced that she was ready to move from the children's section of the library up to the young adult section, where Frances gets all her books. This presents some difficulty for us because, while she is fully capable of reading everything in the young adult section, there's a lot of it she's not allowed to read.  Luckily, she's decided to start this new stage of reading with the Harry Potter books.

She read 3/4 of the first book before it got too scary and she stopped (which means she totally missed Dumbledore awarding 5 points to Griffyndor because Neville stood up to his friends [which is much harder than standing up to your enemies, but I digress]). She just finished the second book, which she loved. She's developed the most adorable squeak in response to each appearance of Lucius Malfoy.

She got the third book down from the shelf and started to read it. I told her she needs to go to sleep and can finish reading tomorrow. And then we had this conversation:

Cate: This book is so tempting. It's so good, Mommy.

Me: What's good about it?

Cate: Everything! The words, the language. It's so juicy!

Me: I'm so glad you like it, honey, but you still need to go to sleep.

10 minutes later I go to check on her and find this. She's totally pretending to be asleep here. As I type this I can hear her giggling at the book.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day #11--Cate puts me in my place

Cate and I are communicating lately through a whiteboard in her room. Last night I left her a note instructing her to thank her father for cleaning her room. Not long after, she and I had an argument about the fact that she refused to go sleep because she refused to stop drawing. (It was 11:00 and well past the time she should be sleeping.) She argued her case; I told her she was being a sassy pants and then took her sketch pad and pencils.  She was frustrated that I wouldn't listen to her explanation of why it is imperative that she draw Pokemon at 11:00. This is the note she left me.  Note that she replied to my previous message before she chastised me.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day #10--Frances is a teenage girl

Okay--she's not quite a teenager. That won't happen until July 15. But she has all the attributes of the teenage girl, including, most important for this post, an obsession with a boy band.  The band in question is One Direction.  And here I've caught her singing "You Don't Know You're Beautiful" at the top of her lungs, while doing the dishes. Needless to say, she was quite embarrassed.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day #9--In Which Our Book Problem Continues to Be A Problem

It is probably a surprise to no one that our house is full of books, lots and lots and lots of books. In every room, on nearly every surface. That's a problem, for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that we're being crowded out by them.

So this weekend we developed an intricate, Tetris-like plan that would move furniture around, move books out, and clear some much needed space. (I'll pause here to say that this all began when we realized just how much space we need for Cate's art supplies/paintings/yoga cards, but that's a post for another day).

Here's a picture of Brian packing one of six boxes of books destined for Mr. K's.

 Choosing which books stayed and which books we kicked out of of our home was a traumatic experience. It took a solid week of deliberations and another of week of tripping over boxes before we finally bit the bullet and packed the car up. This doesn't really give you a good sense of how packed our car was, but, trust me, it was.  Six boxes and two shopping bags--dozens and dozens and dozens of books.

So here is where the problem is. We get to Mr. K's (a lovely group of people, well worth the drive to North Charleston, and we all know how much I hate having to drive to North Charleston).  We walk around the store while the staff determined which of our books they could take. We made a pact that we were not going to bring any books back home. That, obviously, would undermine the whole space-clearing project. We were quite reasonable and adult about the whole thing.

And then we saw the books. All the books. All the beautiful, glorious books.

90 minutes later, we'd sold a bunch of books for cash, and spent our newly attained store credit on an entire box of books.  The evidence of our addiction is below. We have a problem.

Frances was exactly as judgmental as you might expect.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Day #8--in which we continue to be bad at blogging

Life at Casa Francis-McCann is equal parts impossibly busy and not particularly interesting.  Which, as it turns out, is not a great combination for a blog. 

If we were a team of superheroes, or a family singing group, or international spies, or jewel thieves, then maybe we would have something exciting to report. Sadly, we are none of those things.  Instead of saving the world from aliens a la the Avengers or pulling off an impressively and needlessly complex heist like Ocean's 13, this week we:

--painted a watercolor scene of a rainy day
--saw Iron Man 3, Gatsby, and Star Trek (well worth the ticket price, though I skipped 3D for the latter two)
--led a book discussion on Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris-Perry
--made eight hand puppets
--managed not to kill our tomato plant; the jury's still out on our sunflowers 

This weekend we will clean bedrooms, and do laundry, and go to the library, and maybe watch some Dr. Who.  It's a full life. 

We're documenting these 365 days with pictures, so ill leave you the pic of the girls currently serving as the homescreen on the iPad.



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Day #7--Mother's Day

(another post from Frances)

i'm back...

Let's keep this is short and simple folks. We, the McCann-Francis girls, decided to take a sweet picture for mother's day. This is the best YOU get (free of charge of course.) This middle-of-a-laugh photo is all we could muster without ripping apart the fabric of the universe with our flowing manes and tantalizing "beautimousity". But anyway, happy mother's day!

Day #6--Papa and the Ants

(this post was written by Frances)

I, Frances McCann, the magnificent documentarian, discovered where the ants inhabiting our car were roosting. On Christmas Eve 2012 we had gotten in a car wreck causing the large hole/dent in our car as seen above. In relation to that, large red ants recently started to make guest apperances inside our automobile, surprising and  frustrating us, but with the help of a private eye investigator, I discovered the ants location, informed my temporary parental units and had my father flush the ants out with the water hose and a bit of ant spray. EVERYONE BOW DOWN TO FRANCES!!!!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Day #5--Sunnypants Kid

Here's the video that premiered at the fashion show last night. It features Cate and her class talking about the superhero they created, a guy named Sunnypants Kids who fights the harmful effects of UV rays.

Our very own Cate gets to explain what his superpowers are.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Day #4

Tonight I attended a fashion show/silent auction benefitting the MUSC Foundation for skin cancer research. Cate's first grade class won contest for creating a superhero that fights skin cancer. I was at the event to see the animated version of their story, and as PTA president. 

Things I learned:

--Female models look perpetually offended
--Male models look perpetually angry
--Wine and hors d'oeuvres is not an actual meal
--I continue to be bad at small talk 

I'd also like to point out that the McCanns are still barely participating in this project. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Day #3

The end of every semester finds me sporting this brace. Is there any geekier an ailment than carpal tunnel?

365 Day Project--Day #2

It would be an exaggeration to say that I have the full cooperation of the McCanns. They are a stubborn lot. I'm not above sneaking up on them in their sleep, though.

Here Cate has fallen asleep while reading (for the zillionth time) her Pokemon Encyclopedia. I'm not joking when I say she's memorized nearly the entire thing and talks non-stop about various Pokemon characters and evolutions and powers.

In the background you can catch a glimpse of her other all-consuming passion: art. The brown paper on the wall showcases a life-size drawing she made of herself. This photograph doesn't capture all of the other masterpieces gracing her walls.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

365 Day Project--Day #1

My kids (and likely my husband) will tell you that I love a project. Well, they'd probably tell you that I can't stand to be idle and that I come up with insane ideas and then insist they participate.  That may or may not be true.

We're doing this anyway.  A picture a day, for 365 days, documenting the afrogeek life at Casa Francis-McCann. It'll be fun. (The other inhabitants of Casa Francis-McCann may be rolling their eyes.)

To commemorate the start of this project, the girls decided to pose with apples, their current favorite snack. We are singlehandedly keeping the apple industry in business. They both eat 3 or 4 apples a day. (We also go through an amazing amount of milk and bagels and carrots.) Maybe this is why they are both so tall lately.