Friday, May 30, 2008

Broken

I find it hard to believe that this was me just this past Tuesday. Carefree, happy, and smiling. That was, of course, before we started potty training. I thought with Eion at 3 1/2 years old and two weeks before the gals got out of school that this would be the perfect time to make the move to big boy pants. We are meeting with fantastic failure. So far we've had no fewer than a dozen accidents and zero successful trips to the potty.

I have all manner of bribes in place and they seem to have no effect whatever. As a matter of fact I just had to abandon this post in order to take care of another one. This time on carpet. I currently have him sitting in his wet undies to "encourage" him to make some better choices. 

Maggie is taking a real delight in this whole process. She made a potty chart and included all three of them on it. When she and Morrigan use the potty, she gives them a star. Each time E has an accident, she loudly says, "Looks like it's another zero for Eion's chart!"

Defeat seems to be my style this week. Maggie had to draw a picture of an insect and take it to school. I was just thinking bug so when she drew a spider, I thought it was fine. It was returned with a note letting me know that spiders were indeed arachnids NOT insects and letting me know that the 8 legs gave it away. Clearly any intelligence the kids have is not from me.

Tim is working all weekend I will be trapped in the house cleaning up the floor and willing my son to use the potty. I'm telling you, my spirit is broken.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Summer of Katie



After many years of poolside labor, I am convinced that this is the Summer of Katie. We went to the Club on Memorial Day and all the kids, even Eion, generally entertained themselves without our assistance. We were delighted to find Kirsten had staked out a few tables giving us prime pool viewing territory. We set up camp and the kids were off. Morrigan (after her annual reunion with Sarah and Brad's family - I swear, at the pool she is more theirs than mine. And I am eternally grateful!) found Aidan,


Maggie found Connor,


and Eion found his friend Anne Marie.


A few twists and turns aside, I spent my entire afternoon in the shade (essential to us albino folk) and talking to grown ups! Magical! I did have to keep pulling up E's swim trunks which were a bit too large but that is minor compared to pains of previous summers.


We do need to get E in swim lessons. He has no fear. He was talking to a couple of lifeguards and just decided to climb into the deep end. I guess I should be thankful it was by lifeguards! Other than that, we are totally stylin'!

The Last Day in Vegas for God Knows How Long....

Ah the bittersweet last day. We started the day off at the gym. Ann (of Hans and Ann) and I opted to take the Body Blast class. It was written up as a mix of yoga, pilates and strength training. When we entered the room, the instructor had 3 and 10 pound weights set out for us. I was suspicious that this was similar to the power sculpt class I take at the RAC and while I hate to be that girl, had to ask if those weights would be heavy enough. There are many things that I am not: a light eater, one who will pass on the second glass of wine, quiet, but one thing I am is pretty strong. He told me they would be plenty heavy and assured me I would feel it tomorrow. In spite of the light weights, it was a good class though I never did feel the "euphoria" he said I would (not kidding.) And I felt quite vindicated that after we were done when he said "You really do lift allot of weights don't you?" Yes, I wasn't just trying to be a bitch sir.



After lunch, we all (except Ann of Joe and Ann) entered a Texas Hold 'Em tournament at Planet Hollywood. While I outlasted Tim, Joe and Hans, I was no where near being in the money. But while we were waiting for Rob, who made the final table and was in the money, we played at a 2-4 table and I had my best session of the trip being up $90 after 3 hours. [In the end, down $40 for the trip. I'll take it!]



After an afternoon of poker and many mandarin tonics, we were off to Michael Mina for dinner. By now, I was at about maximum density. But when we arrived, Rob was (generously) buying drinks since he had such a winning trip. And then Ann & Leigh Anne pushed for the tasting menu as they had a vegetarian option. Far be it for me to refuse! After mastering 5 courses, I was ready for bed at a downright shameful 11pm.

The next morning we met Rob & Leigh Anne, who were on our return flight, for breakfast. While waiting for them in the casino, we got to watch the club goers come home and all the prostitutes leave. Let me tell you, worth getting up at 6am to see! While I think we were ready to come home, it was a fantastic trip. And though we don't have a trip to Vegas on our calendar now, I'm sure we'll go back someday!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vegas, Day 2

When we were out there, it was very windy. So windy in fact that our room had a constant, high pitched whine to it. We heard it but assumed, incorrectly, that it would go away. It did not and kept us up pretty much all night. I finally buried my head under a pillow and got about 2 hours of sleep. At 6am, I called the front desk to demand a room change. I was ready to battle! To my amazement, they gave us a new room on the spot. We didn't even have to go get new keys as they magically changed them without re-magnetizing them. [Though VERY glad for the convenience, that freaked me out a bit.]


After moving, we didn't feel tired so we headed to the gym. Now they charge the unbelievable rate of $25 per day (per person!) but we thought the excessive eating, drinking and laying around might get to be too much and we had to counteract with exercise. One of the best things we've realized about using the fitness facility is that they have coffee, fresh fruit and sodas galore on hand. So if you are willing to be shameless, which I am, you can make a breakfast out of the gym offerings saving yourself the $20 minimum that meal would cost.

We had high hopes of spending hot days in our private cabana by the pool. While the day before we arrived was 108 degrees, our entire visit was sub 80. But Thursday was the one day worthy of poolside lounging so after our lunch at Treasure Island (using those food credits we earned playing poker last time), we parked ourselves by the pool. I was able to get through most of World War Z [an excellent zombie book - I mean it] and have a frozen margarita.


For dinner that night we went to Jasmine, which is located in Bellagio. The dining room is beautiful and every seat has a view of the fountain show. Our hostess said we would be tired of it by the end of the meal but I can't say I was. Jasmine serves upscale Chinese and, naturally, we ended up having the tasting menu. I thought the food was fantastic and it was my favorite restaurant at which we dined.

Later we went back to the Bellagio poker room and put ourselves on the waiting list. After an hour of waiting, we gave up and went to bed. I still can't believe there was a whole day there that I didn't play one hand of poker!


Back Home Again

We returned from Las Vegas late Saturday night and have been busy since. The pool opened this weekend so we spent most of the afternoon Sunday and Monday enjoying the nice weather and frigid water temps. But before we get to that, let's cover Vegas! [So this isn't one long, rambling, endless post, I am going to break it up into a couple different ones. Might be necessary anyway as Eion's non self-entertaining friend is over again.]

I have to say without reservation that for the moment, I am done with Vegas. Granted, this could be due to the three trips there in the last eight months. But don't take that as a reflection on this trip. We had a great time. We were on the same flight out as Ann & Hans so our airport time passed quickly. Flights were on time and other than a bumpy landing, unremarkable. The laptop (again) was worth every penny we paid for it as we watched season 4 of 24.

We checked into the Bellagio and both our rooms were ready even though it was noon. One of my favorite things about this hotel is the beautiful lighting in the lobby made by Dale Chihuly.


We went to Noodles for lunch, which is located in the hotel/casino. The food was good but the service was lacking. Our waitress literally wouldn't let Tim order the dish he wanted which was listed as a chef's specialty! After that, it was time to nap.

Before dinner, Tim and I walked down to the Wynn for his birthday present from Ann & Hans - a shave and haircut! Might be biased but I thought he looked handsome.


Later we caught up with Ann & Joe and Rob & Leigh Anne who had arrived after we did. We headed over to Delmonico's at the Venetian for Joe's birthday dinner. Ann reserved the chef's table which was located adjacent to the kitchen and had a large window so we could watch as they cooked. Tim & I both were excited about that though admittedly, we would have liked to hear what they were saying as well.
We all had a tasting menu and some of us (you know that I was in this category) had the wine flight. Our evening was fantastic but my review of the restaurant is mixed. I had some serious issues with out waiter who told us not one, but two wholly inappropriate tales. He first regaled us with his most recent break up and the ensuing paternity test to which his ex subjected him. Wow. Thanks buddy, but that is more info than I really need.

You would think that when he walked in on me telling the rest of the table how awful I thought he was and how he could get fired over something like that would be enough to slow him down. But no! He later launched into a tutorial on how to get around TSA security at the airport and visit a steak house in the terminal so you could steal a knife and take it on the plane. Excellent.

Waiter aside, I thought the food was good, but not great. Here I think we, as a group, will have to take some blame. We had a chef's tasting menu. When they asked if we had any dietary restrictions, it was hilarious and sad all at the same time. Tim & I will eat just about anything - or at least try it. But our group had two vegetarians, one fish eating and one not, and a laundry list of exclusions. So while normally, the chef would prepare one dish for the table, he had to make 2 or 3 different ones for each course. We were very Top Chef!


After dinner we went back to the Bellagio where most of us played 4-8 limit poker until 2:30am. Sadly, while I dominated the dinner table, my luck was not as good at the poker table. But tomorrow was another day....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Off to Vegas (Again)

The trip 2 years in the making is here. We're off to Vegas tomorrow morning with friends Ann and Joe, Ann and Hans, & Rob & Leigh Anne. [Yes, I know we were just there. Our next vacation will be somewhere else. Promise.] It was at the lake party (see pic above) a few years back that we started planning a surprise Vegas trip for Joe's birthday. It was originally supposed to be a surprise for all the guys but one by one they found out. But we did keep it from Joe who will be celebrating his 40th tomorrow night at the Bellagio!

We went over to Ann & Joe's and had a "Vegas Baby" cake to spring the big news. We'll be back Sunday hopefully with many an interesting tale......


Monday, May 19, 2008

Quote of the Weekend

I am routinely taken in by friends on the weekends Tim is working. So when he is home on a Saturday or Sunday and we (read: Tim) are making ribs or pizza, I have a tendency to invite over whomever I happen to speak to that day. It's not too unusual to end up with 4-6 extra adults and all their kids. 

And indeed, this Sunday was no different. Kirsten and Hans both called and the impromptu dinner was on! Overall, the kids had fun but the afternoon was not without strife. Eion and Maggie both went running out to greet Connor, excited he had arrived. Without hesitation, he chose Maggie. And how was he repaid for his affections? She later told him (quote of the weekend coming up), "Go home with your mother. I am done with you."

When I went to the basement to investigate screaming, I found what I can only describe as the girls holding court. They were ordering around the boys and they had 3 out of 4 doing their bidding. I later was informed this game was "Evil Ruler." I can't decide if these two incidents should make me ashamed or proud.

If you are wondering about Maggie's rig above, it is my dance recital costume circa 1987. It is part of a damn near inexplicable treasure trove of items my Mom brought with her. Other goodies I regained were a concert t-shirt from some Dutch band named Normaal and my Catholic grade school uniform skirt. 

I can't say the t-shirt brought back many good memories. It was a trip to Holland in 1985 and shortly after our arrival, my family went to dinner and I was sent off to a concert which I believe was in a tent. The band was fairly randy, not that I could understand what they were singing anyway. As I recall, there was slam dancing and much trowing of beer. Went great with jet lag.

I can say that the uniform skirt was met with a fair bit of enthusiasm by my darling husband. Too bad for him that my high school made us give the cheerleading uniforms back!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ballet Recital


The day eagerly anticipated, well, only by Morrigan, has come and gone. The big dance recital was yesterday afternoon. Tim, Maggie, my Mom and myself sat through 1 1/2 hours of dance routines for the glorious 3 minutes of her class on stage. She remembered the moves and in spite of almost wiping out 3 times, managed to stay on track! [Side note, I owe Tom & Kirsten a HUGE solid for watching the boy so we didn't have to take him along.]


Tim said the whole thing was not nearly as painful as he anticipated. Most likely, this is due to the fact he was rocking the Jim Rome Show on his ipod the whole time. I think Mom might have had a cat nap here and there (I was jealous) but we were all alert and focused when Morrigan hit the stage. We remembered the all important post-show flower bouquet:

which may possibly improve my stage mother standing (but do I want that?) The genius of Tim saved us from the second act. When Morrigan expressed interest in staying, Tim countered with "But how will we have time for ice cream if we stay?" Act two, forgotten immediately. I love that man!

Now with this recital behind us, we can 1) use the $90 costume as playclothes since Morrigan has been asking to wear it daily since we brought it home and 2) prep for next year when both girls want to take ballet. Woohoo! Twice as many costumes and a potential of six minutes on stage!

[And I think the recital must have brought us luck as Tim and I totally dominated later that night at poker winning 1st & 2nd place!]

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dress Rehearsal

Last night was the dress rehearsal for Morrigan's ballet recital and it is official: I am the world's worst stage Mom. When these pictures were taken a few weeks ago, I was already chided for my lack of hair net on Morrigan and light make up. Though admittedly, the make up was by design. I can see heavier face paint on stage because of the lights but in pictures I think it gives that creepy JonBenet Ramsey look so I intentionally went light much to the dismay of a more polished stage Mom.


So when we arrived at the Civic Center, I had no idea where to go. I blindly followed other children in make up hoping to stumble upon the dressing room. Actually found it with much less trouble than anticipated AND on time so I was feeling good. Though I still couldn't master the hair net, I upped the war paint and felt I did a much better job on the hair. Incidentally, later I found out how wrong I was when the dressing room person (I have no idea who she was) told me that I needed more hairspray, more bobby pins and a more stable bun for the show.

The dress rehearsal took FOREVER and we were in the middle of the first act! Mercifully, my Mom came a few days earlier than planned and was able to watch Maggie and Eion. They never would have survived. Since you can't video at the show, I had my camera to capture the dress rehearsal. In what I can only describe as a rookie mistake, I had a completely dead battery. But as luck would have it, our still camera takes the exact same one so I could switch them out. (Thank you Canon!) Details of the big show to come. Can you handle the anticipation?

Morrigan's Piano Recital


So now she has it. Her very first trophy. On the way to the recital, she told me she would polish it every day. Do I let her know that shiny plastic needs no polishing? 

Morrigan did great at the piano recital. She played her pieces well and behaved during the long program which in all honesty, had me a little fidgety. It was just so, well, long. 

Truly, I appreciate the work these kids put into their pieces. I took 4 years of piano when I was a teenager and I think all but the very youngest of these kiddos were better than I ever was. And they memorized what they played which I NEVER managed to do, save Mary Had A Little Lamb, and I don't think that counts. I couldn't even play Heart and Soul

That being said, I sat there, being a terrible parent, feeling rather bored, thinking of the many years of long recitals coming my way. But when it was over, Morrigan was so proud. She accosted any and all people in her path telling them of her glorious musical victory resulting in her first trophy. I guess for that I can tough out a recital once a year.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Feels Like Monday

Today has been yucky. Would like to be more eloquent but I simply don't have it in me. Things were off to a bad start when at my ODTA match we lost AGAIN. And not just lost, but got killed 6-1, 6-0. And while mentally I know this is just for fun blah blah blah, I would like to win once every blue moon or so. After our initial victory, my partner and I have gotten trounced every single week. I think I am out for fall. I just don't need to clear my schedule, pay an entry fee and drive all over town to lose. And don't you love my winning attitude!

So I have felt downright grouchy since then and can't seem to shake it. Would trade my firstborn for a (large) martini but alas, tonight is the big piano recital at which, Morrigan will receive the much ballyhooed trophy! I realize that I occasionally am guilty of some sketchy parenting, but even I can't show up at a piano recital tipsy. But let me tell you about how that gin will be in the freezer waiting for my return!

Speaking of drinks, I have to go on a bit of a tangent. The other day I was at a grocery store in Salem (I was not happy to be so far out of the bubble either) and saw this product:

which in case the picture is not clear, is Budweiser beer, pre-mixed with clamato juice. That is just plain nasty to start with and the idea that a market exists for such a product is alarming.

Anyhoo, off to the big recital.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Class Pictures

I love group class pictures. It is almost impossible to get any group, let alone one of children, all looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. You can see that it didn't work in the 70's:

Tim is wearing the blue shirt with stripes. Smiling, but not looking at the camera. And then there is that girl in the back row on the right who looks to be getting in a fight with the child next to her. You can't ask for a better snapshot of humanity. But we still keep the optimism and try year after year to get good class pictures.

I think Eion's class is not bad for a bunch of three year olds. And he is smiling:

Morrigan's class is looking pretty good too:

And then there's Maggie's class:

I mean really, what the hell? I largely blame the photographer. Was he thinking: "First, we need a busy, non-organic backdrop. Yes, yes this concrete wall will do nicely. And what luck - it is nicely complimented by weeds and better yet, mud! Someday, they will call me the second coming of Ansel Adams." And I know it is hard to get all of them to smile but I don't think he got any of them looking happy. I want a refund.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

We've had a lazy, relaxed Mother's Day here. Was a wee bit tired since we went to bed after 11 which is WAY past my bedtime. After getting Tim on his way to work (read: packing his lunch, making coffee and promptly returning to bed) the kids and I mainly laid low. They were excited to give me their Mother's Day gifts they made at school. Morrigan made this pinch pot:


She was so proud and fired up about giving it to me. Have to say, it was one of those moments when I really know I am a Mom because I thought it was beautiful.

I already received E's gift on Friday at the Mother's Day thing at his school. [By the by, I am with Sippycups on this one - he is there for Mother's Day OUT. I could do without them cutting into my workout time.] But it was cute enough to make it worthwhile:

I have had to hide his gift because he doesn't want me to keep it. Guess he thinks it is cute too.

Both girls had projects from school describing why Mommy is special. Morrigan said I make cookies, help her when she is hurt and hug her. Maggie said I take her to McDonald's. Hmmm. True but couldn't we have spun that just a bit better?

I was pleased to find in yesterday's mail (which I got this morning) my latest Netflix offering, Stargate SG1 Arc of Truth. Which was exactly as good as you think it was. Camped out immediately on the couch to watch it. My nerds-in-training tend to like these shows too which is helpful. Maggie and E watched part and then went off to play. Morrigan said she was going to scratch my back since it was Mother's Day. As she did so, she gave a running commentary: "I am such a good girl scratching your back. And what are Maggie and Eion doing? Just off playing while I take care of you." My master manipulator.

Later Tom & Kirsten were nice enough to take us in for a few hours. Eion went to the Transportation museum with a friend and his family so the girls and boys played with almost no conflict at all! As we left (damn swim team practice breaking into my freeloading time) Aidan yelled after Morrigan, "I love you!" and she answered "I love you too!" Guess Jack was just a passing fad.

Super Supper Club

Last night we went to Supper Club (conveniently located across the street!) As always, so much fun. Now, Tim normally cooks our item that we are bringing to such events. He's good at it, likes it, and it works for us. But yesterday (and Friday, and today and tomorrow) he was working a day shift so the cooking responsibility fell on me. While Tim is the master chef here, I am no slouch in the kitchen. Really, I consider myself a pretty darn good cook! I made a great cauliflower gratin from the Bouchon cookbook (which we are still holding hostage from friends - need to remember to return it.) The reaction from all attendees was the same: "Tim didn't cook?" or "You made it?" Even Tim grilled me on my methods, questioning my ability to follow the recipe. I am going to take some serious offense here people.


But I don't stay offended long and we had a great night very much living up to our nickname for the group of Super Supper Club!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Birthday Party Fun

We were VERY pleased to have a birthday party to which all three kids were invited this afternoon. So as they sit in their sugar comas watching Max & Ruby, I will happily waste time on the computer. We almost didn't get to go as Morrigan insisted that the dress I chose for her made her look stupid. I pointed out that it didn't matter what she looked like if we were at home, which is where we were going if she refused to change. She got over it.


The party was good fun for all involved with bubbles,



face painting,


bounce house,

cake (lack of which is a deal breaker for me) and a perfect May day. All three kids were pretty well behaved. It was as if I was traveling with the offspring of others.

Eion could not get enough of the inflatable caterpillar and made loops through for about a half hour.

Morrigan busied herself chasing after our friend's son Jack. [But no worries Aidan, Jack didn't seem too interested!]

In true McKernan fashion, we were the last people to leave as I extracted Eion from the caterpillar and dragged him screaming to the car.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Underwriting

So while my darling family is playing with Daddy's new power-washer:



(And yes, Eion is naked, again.) I will have to tell you about my phone conversation with the insurance underwriter yesterday. We have always had some sort of life insurance on me but joked that Tim only needed enough to go on a cruise and find a new wife. But times they have changed and we think a bit more coverage may be in order to help care for the tots if the unthinkable happens to yours truly.

I had to fill out this million page application with a multitude of health questions. Then they had to call and ask me those questions over again. Now I realize that my main man at the insurance brokerage was working from a script, but some of these question and answer sets got a bit silly....

Underwriter: Have you had any surgery in the last 10 years?

Me: Yes, I had three cesarean sections.

U: What prompted you to go to the doctor?

Me: Uuh, I was nine months pregnant and in labor.

U: What was the outcome of the procedure?

Me: Children.

U: Was there any recommended follow up?

Me: Yes. Better birth control to keep from getting in this situation again.


And even better:



U: Were there any other surgeries?

Me: Yes, I had a breast augmentation. (See how medical I was being not calling it a boob job!)

U: What prompted you to go to the doctor?

Me: I breast fed three children and subsequently bore more than a passing resemblance to the women featured in National Geographic.

U: What was the outcome of this procedure?

Me: Spectacular.

U: Uuh...

Me: I have bigger breasts.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Morrigan is a Real Brownie


Today was the ceremony by which Morrigan became a "real" Brownie today. She was pretty stoked about the whole thing. It was at 2:30 but she made sure we wouldn't miss it by asking every 15 minutes or so if it was time to go, all day long.

There was a cute little ceremony and then we had some cake and lemonade. A Mom with more patience, time and cake decorating skill than me made this cute cake:


I was, in an ironic twist for someone who generally eschews the use of paper products, in charge of disposable plates and napkins, which in the end, weren't needed. So in effect, I did nothing. My weak showing didn't seem to bother my daughter who sat drinking lemonade toasting "To Brownies!"


Eion was well dressed but not so well behaved causing Tim to miss the ceremony about which I'm sure he was not too put out. His wanderings about Hunting Hills Country Club must have exhausted him as at home the little guy fell asleep on the floor at about 5pm. I tried to wake him but met with failure. Finally I told him he had to wake up or go to bed. He stood up and marched right up to his room. Tomorrow should be terrific. I am sure he will be up at 5am.

Duck Derby

Saturday we went to the Junior League Duck Derby. Originally, I hadn't planned on going. It was open to the public and the public and I haven't seen eye to eye lately (See Cultural Heritage Night. Still recovering.) But Jennifer assured me that it would be a fun filled family event well populated with people we knew so we packed up the whole crew and we were off!



And to her credit, I was not disappointed. The duck derby was a fundraiser for the League. You "adopt" rubber ducks and then they dump them all into the river where a course has been set up to guide them. I think the winners got prizes.



In what had to be an awesome turn of events for the chairmen, the net designed to catch the ducks at the finish line malfunctioned, setting hundreds of ducks freely adrift. Though I did not see it personally, I heard they were chest deep in the water fishing them out. Water that, mind you, has signs posted everywhere that it is not safe for swimming or drinking. I am so glad I am on the Nominating committee.

But not having to be a rescuer of ducks, our afternoon went much better! Eion loved the bounce house and spent as much time as he could there. Actually, later its deflation caused him to completely lose it and hasten our exit.

The kids also played on the playground, picked flowers and played with the giant bubble wands.



I packed a picnic lunch but they were so busy playing that we never ate it. Which was ok by me. We just took it home and picnicked on the deck.