Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reunion - The Final Chapter!

So after Bernie's pool party, Friday morning was a bit rough! Morrigan went to the zoo with some cousins while I stayed behind with Maggie (who mercifully stopped puking) and Eion (who was sooo tired.) They finally fell asleep and I spent the afternoon chatting with Heidi.

We laid low in preparation for the big dinner-dance that night. Let me tell you, the kids had a blast! (And we did too!) They danced all night. Their Uncles Chris and Dominick were in demand with Maggie cutting in on her sister. But I understand, Chris is a great dancer. He asked me to polka and I warned him of my complete lack of dancing skill. He said, "Just follow my lead." I'm thinking to myself, this is going to be a disaster - I can't dance and I am wearing 4 inch heels. But damned if he wasn't the easiest lead to follow. Which was super except then all the other gals realized it and people kept cutting in!

The Veldmans have a tradition of doing a dance at weddings we call the Polonaise which is essentially a conga line set to Dutch music ending with the bride and groom lifted in the air on chairs while the other guests wrap them in streamers. Seems we have expanded said tradition to any family gathering with dancing. In the place of the bride and groom, we put all the kids up there, a switch most likely championed by the chair lifters!

The party was over too quickly and none of us wanted the night to end. Bernie had invited us over so after putting the kids to bed several of us headed over there. It was significantly more quiet than the previous night but was a fantastic way to wind down the evening.

Saturday was the last event of the reunion with a picnic at Uncle Ted & Aunt Theresa's. It became an even bigger family gathering when several of my cousins from my Mom's side came too. It was nice to catch up with them and meet Diane's new baby.

Other picnic fun included a bean nag toss (nary a one hit the target!)

Eion did not let his lack of suit stop him from enjoying the slip and slide:

And Dominick gave a pretty killer martial arts demo. Really, he did some rope thing that defies the laws of physics.

And then it was all over. I was surprised at just how melancholy I felt. I think it hit me when my cousin Norm hugged me goodbye and said that he needed to make it count because he didn't know how long it would be until he saw me again. While I wouldn't change my situation, I love where I live and my life as a whole, I was really sad that I had to leave all these people who meant so much to me and didn't know when we would meet again. That being said, Tim suggested we might get together with some cousins in a year or so. And of course, I know my Dad is already planning the Veldman reunion 2013.

Reunion - Part Deux

After our stay in glamorous Uhrichsville, we arrived in South Bend on Wednesday. My cousin Heidi and her husband Bruce were brave/kind/foolhardy enough to host our traveling circus. She is part of the Beidinger clan (my Dad's sister Fran) and there are four girls in the family: Heidi, Michele, Denise and Kelly. We were always close with their family and they always made me feel like a de facto sister. Kelly and her family were also staying with Heidi for the reunion so it was a full, fun house. Upon arrival, we immediately set to catch up on what had happened so far in the week.

We caught our breath for a few hours then set off for Tower Hill beach where we met up with about 60 some Veldmans. Now my Southern friends mocked the Northern beach but I have to say, Lake Michigan was beautiful.

My girls were, naturally, concerned that they weren't wearing their "fancy" tutu bathing suits (yes, there are many levels of skirted suits) but quickly overcame their fashion apprehension and dove into the waves. I juggled keeping the kids in sight with catching up with cousins, many of whom I hadn't seen in 7 years.

We were among the first to arrive (an hour late - we're on Veldman time now) which gave me the chance to talk to people as they rolled in. By the time we left, the kids were beat. Eion fell asleep in the car and was out for the night.

The next afternoon, there was a pool party for the kids at Uncle Willy and Aunt Joyce's for which we had the fancy suits.

The girls swam while Eion mainly snacked and served lemonade from the large drink cooler. While I hated to see the plastic cups wasted, he was pretty darn cute as he sent his customers off with a "thank you - bye bye!" He also ingested massive amounts of lemonade. It was not so cute when I went to change him into his clothes and he was soaking wet yet hadn't set foot in the pool. Good times, good times!

We went back to Heidi's to get cleaned up, ditch the kids with a sitter and head over to my cousin Bernie's for the grown up pool party. It was way too much fun!

I talked to many cousins, aunts and uncles. Shoot, it was me. I talked to everyone! Cousins Bernie & Todd:

Denise, me, Heidi and Kelly (Michele, the other Beidinger totally bailed on us):

So happy to see my brother Dominick and his partner Chris:

And my cousins Tim and Kelly. Tim lives in North Carolina and there is no excuse for not having seen him in I don't know how long!

Now things got a little rowdy (and loud - it is genetic) and even those who left early were S T R U G G L I N G the next day. You know I am not smart enough to leave early, ended up in the pool (so didn't pack a suit) and later (1:30am ish) had to dart through - on foot, no DUI here - my cousin's very nice neighborhood in my undergarments and a towel, soaking wet.

To cap off the night, I arrive home, get ready for bed. As my drunken, wet head is about to hit the pillow, Maggie says "I'm going to throw up." And she did. All night. Sleep is over rated anyway.

Reunion conclusion to come....

The Family Reunion (Part 1)

We've been home for days and I am still recovering! Naturally my priorities were in order and one of the first things I did was edit my 250 photos - laundry be damned. As you know, last week we went to the Veldman family reunion. My extended family is big. My Dad is the youngest of 12 siblings, all Catholic and believers in go forth and multiply. So I have something like 65 first cousins, most of whom now have families of their own.

When they came over from the Netherlands, many of my Dad's brothers and sisters settled in South Bend, Indiana (and trust me you are not the only one wondering why they didn't choose Miami!) We're a fairly tight knit group. When I was growing up, we would spend most Sundays at my Grandparents' house, the adults talking and the kids next door at my Uncle Pete and Aunt Wilma's pool. While those in SB still see each other, there are many like me who have moved away and can't tolerate the 11 hour drive too often.

Five years ago they held the first reunion - my Dad among the ringleaders. I was 8 months pregnant with Maggie at the time and Morrigan was not yet 2 so I missed it. I believe that since the day after the 2003 reunion, my Dad has been hyping this one to the kids so even if I wanted to skip it (which I didn't) I wouldn't have had a choice!

We knew that when we arrived there would be a full calendar of events so we broke our trip up into two days in an effort not to be completely exhausted. Halfway is somewhere in Ohio so Tim googled "Ohio family fun" and found the Uhrichsville water park. I was a bit sceptical when we rolled into town and checked into our hotel which in spite of the children thinking it was "the best hotel ever" may have indeed been the worst hotel ever. There was a reason the Best Western website wouldn't let you make reservations for 5 in a room there.

But the water park itself was great! Not too big but perfect for us. Even Eion was happy and spent five hours straight in the water. About an hour before the park closed Morrigan came up to me and said, "I think I am going to throw up" [this is vomit incident #1 for the trip] and before I could get her out, she hurled all over in the water. Then she got out and repeated on the pool deck. What was awesome was this happened right in front of the lifeguards and they never shut down the pool! I was glad I didn't find out about their hygiene standards until my time was done. But I will say that in spite of the vomitorium issue, it was tons of fun.

The next morning after a restful night's sleep [Oh that's rich! Have you ever spent the night in a tiny hotel room with three kids? With the a/c accidentally turned off...] we were headed to South Bend. Hate to keep you in suspense - I know you're riveted to your screen so far - but I have to scoot to do some of that laundry. More on our Midwest adventure to come....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Back Home

We're back from the big Veldman family reunion. We spent five days in South Bend, Indiana with my large extended family. We drove home 11 hours yesterday and we are still recovering, doing laundry and dealing with the girls badgering us for the cat I (foolishly) promised we could adopt when we returned home. Full debrief later but I will say that over the course of the trip, all three kids vomited at least once, there was very little sleeping and TONS of fun.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Whew! What a fun weekend. We had Supper Club at our house Friday night. It is a small but thirsty crew and we always have fun. Tim made a lamb roast and it was really good. Our experimental cherry martinis, not so much. Wine flowed and somewhere after 11:30 I realized I needed to check out so apparently I bolted upstairs and put myself to bed without telling anyone where I was going. Kirsten and Jen came to verify I had indeed ejected but mercifully remembered my general disdain for nightclothes and didn't turn on the lights. I was told the conversation went something like:

"Katie, are you in bed?"
"You didn't say goodbye."

Needless to say, Saturday I was S T R U G G L I N G. (From my post game calls, sounds like I wasn't the only one.) We had to go to the gym for the kids' swim lessons and I decided as long as I was there, I would lift weights. By the end I was feeling very ill and Tim had to take us directly to McDonald's for a double cheeseburger and fries, known for their restorative powers.

Very little was accomplished that day but we had a sitter lined up for Saturday night so Tim and I went to see The Dark Night. Everything I had read said it was great so I was a bit wary it was overhyped. But to my delight, it actually was really good. In fact, one of the best movies I've seen in years. I could have done without the over-the-top fanboy next to me who kept moving to the edge of his seat. Come on now, you know they aren't going to off the bat! And I really could have done without the theater worker dressed as the Joker who liked his part just a bit too much.

This morning I dragged the whole family to the gym at 8:30 for yoga which was pleasantly exercise ball free. We later went to the pool after a quick stop to replace Maggie's popped floatie. They no longer had the same ones and I had to get the enhanced model:

which Maggie endlessly taunted her siblings with referring to it as her "new deluxe floatie." But she did share eventually.

And we got to see the updated swim team records board:

Go Kirsten!!! We are going to my family reunion this week so I will be MIA for a while. Our house sitter is taking care of most things around here but I doubt he will blog in my absence! Full details upon our return!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mamma Mia Indeed

I just got the evite for this month's gathering of my Bunko group that never plays Bunko so we do other things and I have to say my heart sank. The organizer opted for a night at the movies. To see Mamma Mia. A girl finds out she has three possible fathers and sorts it all out in the week before her wedding! And it's a musical scored by ABBA! Oooh...waiter is there any Chinese water torture left on the menu?

This happens a few times a year and it is always a disaster for me. Upfront, I have to acknowledge that this is my fault. While the majority of the female populous is happy to see movies like Sex and the City, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and 27 Dresses, I want to see Cloverfield (which was great), Diary of the Dead (which was not so great) or Iron Man (might see tomorrow) movies which most of my friends wouldn't see even if they were asked to accompany Brad Pitt (who for the purposes of this fantasy never dated Angelina Jolie [she frightens me] and is a Conservative.)

I can't blame the organizer. I would lay odds that every other gal in the group thinks this is a great idea. But regrettably as Tim occasionally reminds me, "You are kind of a man." [Truly, he means it as a compliment.] Maybe for my month we will go see Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. But I guess the idea is to be with others and not go to the movies alone....

Happy Days are Here Again!

With Tim off for a week, things have been relaxing and fun though I can't say we are getting much productive done! We did have photographer Stefanie Weber over to the house to (hopefully) capture the perfect Christmas card picture. The girls were wearing these darling dresses I have been holding hostage until we had a picture:

I'm hoping her picture is better than mine! And while I felt guilty about spending way too much on sundresses and then refusing to let the girls have them until halfway through summer, I was completely vindicated by Maggie who later got chocolate ice cream all over it! Ha! My foresight is impeccable.

We later went to visit my friend Susan who had a baby girl on Monday. The girls were appropriately affectionate and fawned over Macy.

Eion wanted to hold her for about 5 seconds and almost dumped her on the floor. Once again, foresight saves the day and I was right there spotting for the baby!

We've gotten in some pool time where we generally have 2/3rds of the kids happy. If we are lucky, the fussy one crashes out.

Our friend Ann celebrated her birthday yesterday and had a few families over for pizza and cake. We had a small blip on the radar as I didn't get the kids away from the pool before Wacky Wednesday started. Maggie was sleeping and I just couldn't disturb this:

So by the time we were on the way out the clown was there. And it was pirate night so he was dressed as Jack Sparrow AND there was a treasure chest. The drama that ensued was epic but nothing a few well worded threats couldn't subdue ("If you don't zip it, you will miss the party AND pirate night!" And I meant it!) But soon we were at the party and the kids were all happily dressing up for a fashion show.

Including Eion the bumblebee and his friend Will as JoJo the clown:

Best yet, Tim still has 3 more days off. Smiles all around.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happiness = Low Expectations

I read somewhere that Danes were among the happiest people on the planet. They attributed it to low expectations. Based on our household, I think they're right! I few months ago, I was under the weather - alright, hungover and lazy - and instead of giving the kids individual dinner plates, I just put all the food on one plate and told them to have at it. I declared it was "festival style" eating. It is now their preferred way to dine.

Fewer dishes, happy kids, it is so good. Maybe I can make them happier with say a trough or just mix it all up in a bucket....

Tim had his first day off in forever today. What he did was essentially nothing. And he was really happy. He said he pretty much wanted nothing out of his day other than not getting his ass kicked at the ER. Low expectations triumph again!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Sunday, not off to the best start. Yours truly can be just a little bit type A and while I don't mind change, I very much dislike unexpected change that is thrust upon me. And I really value my little routines. Which leads us to this morning. I was a bit on the tired side since I kept waking up last night racked with guilt over the fact that my insufficient sunscreen application caused sweet Maggie to get a bright red sunburn on her back. We got home from the pool yesterday and I got the kids dinner and we hurried to get ready to go out with Hans and Ann. The sitter put them to bed. Later, Maggie's crying woke me up and I discovered the sunburn. Oooh, I am a bad Mommy!

But I was looking forward to a relatively new but much liked routine of going to the 8:30 yoga class and then lifting weights. It was an instructor I hadn't had before and she had a great affinity for the exercise balls, specifically, sitting on them and bouncing up and down for 10+ minutes. While I am new to yoga, I am pretty sure there is no hippity hop pose. And the music! Instead of the nice new age-y stuff that I find very relaxing (and clearly, I need to relax - just a bit high strung here) it was Beatles muzak. But I was not in a position to leave being about as far from the door as one could get. Just when I thought I couldn't get more irritated, we did backbends over the ball which meant I was looking right at the old man behind me doing the move and he chose not to rock any undergarments today. I don't need the memory of saggy old white man arse forever burned in my mind yet it is now there.

Clearly, I was not going to get my Zen on today.

Oh well, time to move on to weights. Do you ever have the day at the gym where someone else seems to be on exactly the same workout path as you and you are trailing each other the whole time you are there? Today I seemed to be in sync with a woman I frequently see there on the weekend who I generally think of as "middle aged woman wearing an exercise bra who doesn't seem to realize that a bra does not a shirt make and furthermore, if you are going to skip the shirt, you should make sure you are not pale and flabby in ye old midsection and you should consider getting your tattoo removed because nothing compliments back fat like a tramp stamp" or "get a shirt lady" for short.

Things just weren't working out as planned.

[Have to add one aside here for those of you who are thinking "Well she isn't perfect!" Don't worry, I am well aware that my physical imperfections number as the stars but I: a) dress in such a manner as not to expose my nether regions in public and b) wear a shirt to the gym!]

Friday, July 11, 2008

So Little Posting, So Little to Say

Yeah, so not so much posting this week. Our lives, while typically not that interesting to begin with, fell into the utterly boring category this week. The gals were at camp at North Cross all week where they had a ball. So much so that they wanted to return next week but my wallet says no......

We carpooled with another family who had kids the same ages. Will and Maggie would sit in the back and discuss their future together. A future in which Will planned to "eliminate" the competition - Matteo. Maggie seemed nonplussed by her junior stalker and they skipped into camp holding hands each day.

They were there from 9-3 which left me and the boy on our own most of the day. I had visions of going to the pool with him but bad weather ruled that out most days. He did enjoy many, as he says, peanutbuttersandwiches. I love the way he says it all as one word. He really prefers peanutbuttersandwichsofa which is naturally his favorite meal while parked on the sofa.

Tim only has 2 shifts remaining in the two weeks from hell and we are all looking forward to seeing more of him. I don't think Maggie or Eion has seen him in days. And hopefully I'll have interesting news to report.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lucky Number Thirteen

Tim and I are celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary today. And at the risk of getting all the "Wow, you look so young comments" I generally hear when people see the wedding pics (I blame the children for accelerated aging process), I will post them anyway!

We were pretty broke when we got married. Tim was still in residency and I was only a few years out of college so we had a friend of my brother take our pictures and didn't get a video. Can't say I'm sorry. The pictures are fine (especially pre digital!) and I'm happy not to have a video. If I could watch the wedding or reception, I might see what went wrong. As it stands now, I remember that everything was perfect!

Including when Tim almost caught the bouquet.

And (BTW - so going soft on you here. Quite out of character) I can truthfully say I am happier and more in love with Tim now than I was on our wedding day. Which is saying something if you check out my joker brand makeup that day!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July! [yesterday] Tim was, say it together, working! But the rest of team McKernan was not about to let that spoil our fun. First we set out to decorate the girls' bikes so we could participate in the neighborhood bike parade. Now their desire to be a part of this was a tad puzzling to me. They generally refuse to ride their bikes stating they are afraid. So in an effort not to visit Timmy at work, I thought before they were set loose on the streets of SoRo, they should practice in the driveway.

They both suited up in helmets, kneepads and elbow pads (and just the other day someone asked me how I knew my kids were nerds!) Maggie, 2 seconds in, decided she would be better off on a Big Wheel. Morrigan got on the bike (complete with training wheels) and cried out it was broken. She had forgotten to pedal. Eion wanted to bring a large plastic car that is propelled Fred Flintstone-style by pushing with your feet. Now I generally don't care what anyone thinks of me ever but I was beginning to think this might be embarrassing for even me.

After a few laps I felt safe no one would wipe out and we decorated the bike and Big Wheel. I managed a few adjustments to make the whole adventure more palatable - we ditched the car and I convinced both girls to get rid of the elbow and knee pads.

The parade was a hoot. The kids had a ball and seemed not to care a whit that there were no bystanders, only participants. It was really more of an elaborately themed neighborhood walk than a parade. But there was red, white and blue enthusiasm all around!

We later geared up for the pool and in spite of some dicey weather here and there, made an afternoon of it. Different children had meltdowns at times but I generally had a 2/3rds positive approval rating.

But saving the best for last, the boy seems to have turned a corner in regards to the bathroom. Not once, but twice yesterday he sought me out to go to the potty and "make a giant poopy." [Naturally, his words.] And one time was at the pool. I almost don't even want to write about it because I am afraid I will jinx myself! So keep your fingers crossed. If we are lucky, I will be free of diapers and more importantly, you will not have to hear about my son's dirty pants again!