Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eion's Birthday, The Final Chapter

It does seem as if I have posted several times about celebrating E's birthday but what the hell, you only turn 3 once! 1st Pres didn't have school today so we had a birthday party for Eion at the Virginia Museum of Transportation (mainly trains!) There were about a dozen kids there who had a great time running wild. I planned no activities as I find trying to make 2-3 year olds do anything in a unified fashion akin to herding cats. But they enjoyed watching the model trains (more than you would think):
Eion did want to spend a disproportionate amount of his time in the gift shop where there was a train table, but he was occasionally joined by his cohorts:

Naturally, we had a Thomas cake for which Eion was able to drag himself away, but just barely.

He told me all the rest of the day about how he loved his party and wanted to go back. Unfortunately for him, after two cakes with celebrations and cupcakes, we are done for this year!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cupcakes at School

For Eion's birthday I told the teacher I would be sending in cupcakes. To which she replied that was great, I could get there at 12:15 to hand them out. Hmmm, I really just wanted to drop them off in the morning but seeing as the girls didn't have school and I was unlikely to accomplish anything anyway, I said sure. So Sunday night I set out to make him a train cake like I did last year. I made one for his birthday and Valentine's Day which both worked out great:

No dice this time. All the cars stuck to the pan and came out in pieces leading to this announcement: I, Katie, do hearby retire from baking cakes. I seem to suck at it and Kroger has better tasting ones anyway. [My renouncing baking has had several panicked reactions fearing that my chocolate chip cookies (which are killer if I do say so myself) are gone as well. No worries. I am still in the cookie business.]

Anyhoo, Maggie and I picked up cupcakes at Fresh Market for him. There were red frosted and white frosted ones. I was darn sure my kids got the white ones so they didn't end up like this:

E looked so happy when the kids were singing to him. He spent the rest of the day telling everyone "Happy Birthday!" We're having a party for him at the Transportation Museum (lots of trains) on Thursday since he doesn't have school. I invited all his classmates. Much to my surprise, ALL of them are coming. Let's hope no one thinks this is a drop off party!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Eion!

Sweet E - Happy Birthday! He turned three on Monday hopefully officially marking the end of the terrible twos. Just so you know buddy, we know you may have learned you sister annoyance tactics from them...

And I can't apologize enough for the jacked up lettuce. Sorry about that. It is the fault of genetics.

But it appears that you have personality in spades which may make up for the unfortunate hair.

I promise not to dress you like this too often,

as long as you can keep behavior like this to a minimum:

So happy 3rd birthday E. We love you!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Olan Mills

Kirsten sent me a link to a blog with some really terrific Olan Mills photos.

They are good, really good but I thought to myself, I know that in the archives, my family has got a couple that could be added right to that post. And yes, these are all me & my family....

I've been told people can see Maggie in this one:

This is me and my brother Dominick. First off, nice pants. Oh and I am wearing colored feathers in my hair. I remember quite clearly that I fashioned the entire outfit around them.

All I have to say here is thanks for the bowl cut Mom:

Now the next few are my favorites. My Dad is totally channeling Sonny Bono. I can't tell you how much I wish I could get my hands on that shirt!

This is me with my foster sisters. Good looks all the way around.

And last but not least....

I love the 70's.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Donuts With Daddy

Friday morning was Donuts with Daddy at Eion's school. I think he and his Daddy looked quite dashing:

Eion did of course throw a complete fit when I dressed him in something other than a Thomas shirt (Tim thinks those shirts are setting us up for years of Spiderman costumes anyway) but he got over it.

I spent the morning at a tasting to choose the food for the Book & Author dinner. Mostly pretty straight forward other than the dessert. We chose a chocolate mousse dessert. My cohorts made the unthinkable suggestion that we make it smaller than what they served us. I really had to put my foot down - more dessert is better than less. Always.

Regift Extravaganza

My friend Andrea and I hosted a regift party on Wednesday. The basic premise is everyone brings a wrapped regift - can be good or bad - and then we have an exchange. Everyone picks a number and then they go in order, either choosing a gift to unwrap or "stealing" someone else's. There was a wonderful mix of "good" and "bad" gifts. I have to put them is quotes because it was clear that beauty was in the eye of the beholder.

Both the items I brought (and there is ZERO chance I will reveal from whom I received them) were sent home with happy new owners! But then there were items we could all agree fell into the bad category, like the sign that said "You know your mother is a redneck when she has a spit jar on the ironing board." And those that were good like the movie Superbad which was almost mine until I ended up with this gem:

Ah but regardless of what people took home, I think they all had fun. I know I did!

Now I never really talk about decorating much, mainly because I tend to be style-impaired and require the assistance of professionals but I have to post a picture of what Andrea did to her bathroom. Like so many homes in this area, she has some lovely 50's pink tile. They didn't want to outlay the cash yet to remodel it (and lord know I have lived that pain) so they did this:

I love brown and pink together and I thought that was such a clever way to make pink tile look pretty good. She did think I was a bit crazy for taking a picture....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Odyssey of the Mind

So Morrigan is competing in Odyssey of the Mind this year. Basically, they give the kids a general framework and they have to write, create sets and star in a play. She seems well suited to it and lord knows the girl loves to perform. As they were determining locations for the scenes, Morrigan suggested Ancient Egypt. I thought immediately to myself, "This is all a ploy for her to be Cleopatra." And I was so right.

Anyhow, it has been interesting for me to deal with the other children. There is a boy on the team (no names on this one, sorry!) and he seems determined to set the play in a Hollywood movie. We ask the kids for location ideas and he comes back with zingers like "Hogwarts" or "Tatooine" (that would be Luke Skywalker's home planet for you non-nerds out there.) Or we ask what kind of people they should meet: "Indiana Jones." Many of his plot ideas would also border on plagiarism as well. He drives me insane. Clearly the girls on the team feel differently as he tends to send them into peals of laughter on a regular basis. Maybe Voldemort could take him out....

And then there is a little girl who does not speak, at all. I was concerned she might be mute. We ask if she has any ideas and she just shakes her head no. She finally spoke when we asked her what part she wanted in the play. Straight faced and not realizing the beautiful irony of her statement, she replied, "The Narrator."

Monday, January 21, 2008


What it appears my children do not lack at all is self confidence. Ann and Hans came over with the kids this afternoon. The kids were playing happily when Maggie came in and told us about the game they were playing: the girls were princesses and Mark and Luke were the servants. And she added "We rule over them." What amazed us was that they got the boys to play such a game.

Later I asked Morrigan if she was excited to see her friends when she returned to school. Her reply: "No, they will be excited to see me." And better yet, before she went to bed, I told her that she was a very good girl to which she said, "I know."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

All the Rest

After we got back to Tim's parents' house, it rained pretty much for the duration of our visit. Florida is a very outdoor type of place so it was a bit tough to find activities indoors in a retirement community. So we saw their Barnes and Noble, went grocery shopping and saw a movie. Alvin and the Chipmunks, an awful, awful movie. I can't come up with a description that would accurately express the pain of watching it. But we were the only people in the theater so the kids couldn't disturb anyone and it killed some time.

We also had a little birthday celebration for Eion. Nancy & Doug gave him Thomas pjs (he makes me put Thomas shirts on over his pjs so I thought that was a great idea) and a snow plow Thomas train. I think what he liked the most was being the center of attention and of course the cake! That night, he put on his pjs and with a big smile, insisted we all call him Connor.

And two last items of note...Eion cracked us up the whole trip calling his Grandpa "Gopa" which as far as we can tell, is a mash-up of Grandpa, what the kids call Doug and Opa, what they call my Dad. I like it! And I had a Legion of Nimrods moment when the girls bought their mouse ears at Disney. We told them they could have one souvenir. They chose ears, which is fine but they chose what has to be the ugliest ones I have ever seen:

I did try to talk them out of it. But Tim said at least then maybe they won't wear their hoods all the time (even indoors.) But as you can see, that didn't work at all and we ended up with hoods and the ugliest ears ever! Awesome!

Overall, we had a great trip! Tim already told his parents we would be back next year. Maybe then E will go to Disney too. Maybe.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Walt Disney World

I've been thinking about how to recap our two days at Disney. Rather than chronological, I think I'll go with anecdotal....

On Park Hopping

Last year we bought tickets for the Magic Kingdom only. This year, we stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and planned to split our time between the parks and spending a great deal of time at Animal Kingdom. By 3pm on day two, we had spent all of our time, save one parade, at Magic Kingdom. I had clearly underestimated the number of times the girls wanted to ride the teacups and Maggie's personal favorite, the Dumbo ride! That was going to be one expensive parade. Ah, but then we did venture to Epcot, making that hopper worth it after all.

On Manning Up
At around 8am on day two, Tim tripped over the suitcase and broke his toe. I asked him what he planned to do. He responded, "Man up, the only thing I can do." As we made our way to the park (to ride the teacups, naturally) he limped in pain but still cheerfully said "Only 12 fun filled hours to go!" Personally, I thought he should rent a rascal and ride around for the day. He declined, not wanting to be immortalized on video in this blog riding a rascal. I promised not to post video but as he knows me so well, he was quick to make me clarify if that would include a ban on still pictures. I so couldn't promise that. It would have been too good. So walk in pain it was.

On the Importance of Reading the Schedule of Events Properly

On day one, Tim and I went to Jikos for dinner and the girls went to Simba's playhouse. They were much happier playing and eating pizza than going to a sit down dinner. Not to mention, that playroom had every Disney toy I have ever seen in it! We planned to pick up the girls after dinner and go back to the Magic Kingdom for fireworks, something Morrigan found to be non-negotiable. We took the 20 minute bus ride and made it to the funpark right at 8:40 in plenty of time for the 9pm fireworks. Except that they started at 8. Oops. There was allot of crying. We promised that we would go the next day (providing the girls were good and didn't break down into fusspots.) Sounds like a reasonable plan except that we were checking out the next day so this meant day two would be 12 hours at the fun park plus an hour and 20 min ride back to Tim's parents. To my complete amazement, they made it and we saw the fireworks. They loved it and it was worth the long day.

On the Concierge Level
We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It might be one of my favorite hotels ever. We had a room with a queen bed and bunk beds. The girls were completely psyched about that.
I made sure we reserved a Savannah View room so that when we looked out our window, there was all manner of wildlife including zebras and giraffes. It was like having a zoo in your backyard.

A coworker of Tim's advised staying on the concierge level which was SO worth it. We had to use our key cards in the elevator to get to there and I admit, I love that. I realize it is silly and shallow and immature but I do. And once you were there, it was the land of non stop snacks and drinks! In the morning, they had breakfast - all manner of bagels, muffins, oatmeal and fruit. There was a cappuccino maker for yummy coffee too. Throughout the day, there were different treats and at 5pm, they brought out the wine! Seeing as water runs $3 a pop and breakfast for four averages $40+ at Disney, I thought the unlimited snacks were awesome. We were able to make them lunch on the first day! Plus they had a nice seating area that had a big hd tv playing Disney channel to amuse the kiddies. Looking back, I bet the person at the Concierge desk could have told me that the fireworks were at 8, not 9. Really should have used their services more! I recommend the concierge level highly.

On January Visits

We were fortunate that the rain stopped during our Disney visit. And January is a perfect time to go there. It was cool, but not cold and nothing had a line. We breezed into every ride, never waiting more than 10 minutes and most of the time, not waiting at all! The cool weather seemed to help the kids' endurance as well. The only downside was that the water parks and pools weren't open but we could get over that!

On Cinderella's Castle
We went to lunch at Cinderella's Royal Table which is locate in Cinderella's Castle. You generally have to make reservations six months in advance which is crazy but I was told the kids love it. Before you go up to lunch, you get your picture taken with Cinderella. While you are eating, Belle, Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White come by your table to talk and sign autographs. [I was a bit sad that the magic is fading a little. Last year, I think both girls thought the princesses were real. This year, Morrigan told me she knew they were just people dressed up. I know they can't believe forever but I was still a little melancholy about it.] But in spite of knowing they were not real princesses, the personal conversations stilled thrilled the girls.

But while there, I had a shocking revelation. During lunch, I told Tim how smart I thought it was that they added this dining room. As I understood it, the castle was just an empty facade when I was a kid. (BTW it was my parents who told me.) When I asked the waiter when the change was made, he told me, "Oh no, we've always been here." But surely not 20 years ago I replied. The restaurant has been there since te park opened. I was lied to! So Mom & Dad, that would be one lunch you owe me at Cinderella's Castle.

On the Bibity Bobbity Boutique
Yeah, I don't get it. Located in Cinderella's Castle (oh there was even more in that "empty shell") little girls go there to get made up. Many people have told me that their kids loved it. I saw the product and wouldn't go there. Not to sound too goofy (no pun intended), I think little girls are beautiful just the way they are. All the girls I saw came out of there looking like little pageant stars. While people looked right past the overdone boutique gals, Morrigan and Maggie, dressed in matching smocked dresses, got comments throughout the park. I'm sticking with no makeup.

On My Future Employment at Disney

If I ever go to work at Disney, I want to be Cinderella's step mother or step sisters. While all the other characters are sweet and nice, these three got to stand around and make snarky comments to the children and parents. So good! I would be great at that job.

On Rides

Rides were a crapshoot. Some worked out great. Morrigan loved Space Mountain and both girls liked It's a Small World. But then you never know which ride looks completely innocuous and will make Maggie burst into tears. We went on some Lilo and Stich based ride that didn't involve much movement but was interactive with darkness and water squirting at us and she freaked out. We've got to remember to skip that one next year. But on the whole, I don't think the girls liked anything as much as collecting the Mickey Mouse shaped confetti that was scattered by the entrance.

On Our Overall Disney Experience
I love this place and I think the kids do too!

Keep in Your Prayers

While we were gone, a good friend of ours lost her mother. She was young and her death was completely unexpected. When you say your prayers tonight, say one for her and her family. Thanks.

We're Back!

After a great trip to Florida, we are back. Isn't it funny how no matter how much fun a trip was, it feels good to be home? Sleeping in your own bed, drinking your brand of coffee and all the little things that make home comfortable. Our internet access was limited. There seemed to be no free wifi in the entire state of Florida. And when we were at Tim's parents' house, Eion made it his mission to prevent me from keeping my blog up to date. The best I could do was prevent my email from piling up.

Now that we are back, there are naturally a million things to do (including editing literally hundreds of photos) but I plan to put them all off and blog instead! No way I can get it all in one post so we'll just have a few webisodes! We arrived in Florida on Friday and spent a few days with Tim's Mom and Dad before heading to Disney with the girls. One of our first orders of business was to take the kids to met their Great Grandma McKernan. Though Morrigan met her when she was young, Maggie and Eion had not. I had the day all planned out: we would visit Grandma, then lunch at the place with the giant margaritas and then visit Homosassa Springs, a great state park with all sorts of animals and LOTS of alligators.

Some things went as planned, we did see Great Grandma. That went swimmingly. The kids were good as can be - all very well behaved and enthusiastic about meeting her. Would have just hated the first impression of the kids to be awful!

As we were leaving, it started to sprinkle. No biggie we figured, it hadn't rained in two months. It was sure to blow over. Off to the restaurant. We got there at 11:40, 20 minutes before it opened. Hmmm, looks like a good time for a scenic drive around Inverness. Noon, back to get some fried fish and margaritas right? Wrong! This county has blue laws. No alcohol until 1pm. Well after lunch we can still go see the animals right? Wrong again! The rain was pouring and showed no sign of letting up. One out of three isn't bad I guess!

When the rain did stop, we took the kids to play mini golf. They had a great time but I was a bit miffed that there wasn't a windmill in sight! When did mini golf get high brow? I want my cheesy obstacles!

Next up, it's off to Disney!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Off to the House of Mouse!

We leave tomorrow to go to Florida where we will visit Tim's parents, Tim's Grandmother and of course, Disney World! The kids are very excited and can't wait to fly on a plane. Maggie is also, for some unknown reason, very interested in showing her Great Grandmother the boo boo on her knee. Lunch at Cinderella's Castle is also highly anticipated. May or may not update along the way. If it is not, I'll be back in a week!


I defied the police crossing guard this morning and it felt great! This guy is there to help the kids who are crossing guards every morning. The intersection is a 4 way stop. Dude is seriously on a power trip. He makes every single car wait for him to tell them they can go, regardless of traffic or pedestrian situations. Like this morning. There were no walkers at any corner of the intersection. I was the only car at the stop and no others were approaching. So instead of waiting for him to direct me on (which is always longer than it takes to stop) I just stopped and then made my turn. He looked a little peeved and was blowing his whistle at me but I don't care! Ha!

I actually went to the office to complain about him and while there, other parents started piping in about how he drove them nuts too. Maybe we can have a grass roots movement to oust the crossing guard. Viva la revolution!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

In the Memory of Sparkle

Ah sweet Sparkle, we knew you well. In an excellently timed departure from this world, our fish died last night. Good news: don't have to take the fish to a fish sitter for our trip to Florida. Bad news: have to tell kids pet bit the dust. I thought she was acting a bit funny the past few days, kind of swimming sideways. I thought it was odd enough I even took a picture (that picture is from when she was alive - what kind of a girl do you think I am!) Turns out it was a several day death spiral. I went downstairs to make coffee this morning and found she went to the great beyond sometime in the night. My kids took it well. We put her in the compost pile per Morrigan's wishes so she could become dirt. There's my little greenie!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sunny Days and a Trip to the Zoo

Playground courtesy of the Junior League!

Today was another beautiful day getting up into the 70s. I played tennis this morning (really badly, incidentally!) but had told Maggie & Eion we could go to the zoo after school. So I picked them up at school rather than employing the carpool and bus. We headed out to the zoo and met up with Connor and Kirsten and also saw E's friend Trent and his Mom too. It was dicey from the start. The Zoo Choo train is being relocated to the Transportation Museum. While they are planning on replacing it, there are no train rides for now. Did not go over well with the kiddos who had just been promised train time. Maggie seemed pretty tired and was intermittently fussy. We were there about an hour and then she lost it because I wouldn't giver her two granola bars at once. So we got to pack up and head home, Maggie screaming in the stroller all the way to the car (and it is actually a pretty long walk!)

An Open Letter to Target

Now, my friends at Target, you know I love you. In fact I find it to be a personal victory when I can escape your doors having spent less than $50. And I truly do appreciate your darling swimwear that is so reasonably priced. But I need you to explain why oh why you feel the need to carry them in January. You know as well as I do that December was not the best workout month for me and tennis fell off the radar altogether. Not to mention I never met an appetizer or glass of wine I didn't like. Yet you taunt me with cute suits. I could wait but then I will be left with all the size extra smalls (which, even after shedding the holiday padding are simply not going to work!) So if it is not too much trouble, could you put out some swimsuits a bit closer to summer, say April or May?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Daddy's Home!

After all those brutal night shifts, Tim has been off work for days now and it was a weekend to boot. Such a rarity. He went to play poker on Friday night. (Girls not invited. Clearly afraid of the beatdown I would lay on them.) I let him know that staying out late and winning was good. He could sleep in. But staying out late and losing meant it was Team McKernan at 7am! He arrived home somewhere around 3am as the 3rd place winner which means he broke even. Acceptable grounds for sleeping in!

Kirsten convinced me that Chuck E Cheese at lunch on a Saturday was a good idea so after the gym we headed over there. Though loud and crowded, it wasn't too bad. We scored a table and set up camp. The kids are all old enough that they don't need help with the games. And escape really isn't a worry. They have absolutely no desire to EVER leave (as demonstrated by the howling when we did leave) and there is a hand stamp system to make sure you are leaving with the kids you brought. I do have to say that there are not many finer locations for redneck watching than CEC. You are guaranteed at least one grown man in overalls, a toddler in a half top and all manner of humanity that should have their reproduction rights curtailed. All in all, a great time!

Saturday night we had friends Hayden and Chris over for dinner. I got off easy on that one as Tim did all the cooking while we were at The Cheese. He may have gotten the better deal....

Today we were pretty low key going to the gym, lunch at Panera and the grocery.
he weather was pretty nice so Tim and the kids cleaned out the flower bed. Or more correctly, Tim tried to work and the kids got in his way. They seemed to have fun anyway!