Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

I guess it is not quite over yet but we have been so busy that it feels like a full weekend already! Friday we were seriously tired after the big sleepover but had no time to rest as we had a meet and greet with Eion's teacher. E was psyched that "the castle was open" and immediately ran up to his friend Jackson and they began some sort of chant that sounds like "Dan Da Do Do." Good luck with those two Mrs. Shelly.

After that it was off to Crystal Spring to meet Morrigan's teacher and drop off her gear which took less time than I thought it would. Clearly as the kids get further along the teachers don't think parents need as much hand holding. Our brief visit was long enough for her to strike terror in the hearts of classmates Kenyon and Noah, the former an object of her over zealous/bordering on stalking affection and the latter the recipient of the nickname Pancake. Good luck with all that Mrs. Simmons.

I was so so so tired but we already had a sitter coming and poker to play so we headed out to Rob & Leigh Anne's new place which was also Tom's childhood home. Over dinner, wine, poker and more wine we got to hear some great stories of years past. It was a perfect night to be out on the deck but about midnight I declared myself done for the evening.

Saturday Tim went golfing and I took the kids to the gym where 24 1/2 minutes into my 30 minute run my ipod ran out of charge. I don't see how people can run without music - it was awful! We then met up with Tim at the pool where over the course of the afternoon Eion disrobed in the locker room, paraded around the pool deck naked and caused a flurry of complaints from other members as he helped himself to all drinks left unattended for any period of time. It is a good thing the pool season is almost over.

That night we met up with Ann, Hans, Kirsten and Tom to go to Issac's Restaurant for dinner. They told us the wait was a 1/2 hour so we went to Surf and Turf for a beer. And for the second time in as many weeks, we were shushed. Now I am a bit boisterous. And when Tom and I get going we have been known to be rather loud talkers. But we were out of doors. I fail to believe we could seriously compete with traffic etc and be that disruptive.

After dinner we headed over to friends Lisa and David's cocktail party. You know I had a really good time as I carried around my camera all night and only took one picture. Much to busy talking to take any more!

Today we loaded up the kids and went to the Virginia Safari Park and Natural Bridge. At the Safari Park, you drive through and the animals come right up to the car to be fed.

It was more unnerving than I would have expected. But after you accept that these animals are pretty tame and for the most part, the worst thing they will do is steal your feed bucket it is a really good time.

Before we went to Natural Bridge, we stopped by an organic Asian pear farm that is nearby (and featured in this month's Southern Living.) I am more than a bit suspicious that this farm's proximity to the other attractions may be the whole reason for the trip. Tim probably didn't think I would go on a several hour pear run, but mix in a safari and I might be down. In the end, the pears might just be worth the trip. They make the ones at Kroger seem inedible.

Last stop was the Natural Bridge.

Which was much cooler than I expected. The kids liked it too and more importantly didn't complain when denied booty from the massive gift shop. The surrounding attractions including but not limited to Foamhenge (I am so not kidding) trounced all over line between what is acceptably cheesy and just plain bad taste. We passed on the "homage" to Stonehenge and the wax museum (and factory tour!) but the bridge itself was well worth the visit. And we did get quote of the day. The kids were talking to an employee of the park. Morrigan and Maggie told him they were sisters but not twins. Eion told him, "I'm boy."

Saturday, August 30, 2008


As a part of their birthday haul from my Mom, the kids all got play cell phones. Hannah Montana for the girls and Spiderman for the boy. Shortly after we opened them, I found them sitting with the phones at their little table. But no one was talking either to each other or on the phones. I asked them what they were doing. The answer, "Duh! We're texting each other." Clearly my ignorance was noted.

Later I heard them pretending they were at the mall. Maggie told Morrigan, "Let me call my Mom and ask if I can stay later at the mall. She doesn't know how to text." Which is so not true! Kirsten taught me how earlier this year.

The Birthday Sleepover

Morrigan turned seven yesterday. In spite of my several month campaign to have any other kind of birthday party, we had a sleepover. Up until about 11pm, it seemed like it wasn't going to be nearly as bad as anticipated. Maggie and Eion had gone to their own sleepovers - E skipping out the door calling back "See you tomorrow!" We had six girls over and they happily set off to dress up and put on a "parade."

For dinner we made our own pizzas which while a bit messy, was very well received.

After dinner there was cake and gifts. Much to her delight, Morrigan's flock of Webkinz increased significantly.

They then all put on their pajamas, set up their gear in the basement and commenced to makeovers. They used about as much makeup as I do in a year which led to fabulous results!

They then played, watched movies and had smores. Tim and I, counting our chickens before they hatched, commented to each other how easily things were going. Then I tried to get them to go to sleep.

The process started at 11. At 3am, they were all awake except Morrigan who had crashed out. Now they could stay up all night for all I care but they were keeping me awake which just wasn't working for me at all. I had very little leverage over this crew but I did threaten that anyone who didn't go to sleep would get Cheerios rather than donuts for breakfast. I heard one of them comment, "She is way meaner than my Mommy!"

They finally fell asleep sometime between 3 and 4 after I relocated them upstairs. The next morning I was soooo tired. Several of the parents took the "please pick up by 10am" quite literally and came at 10 on the dot. Maggie and Eion came home tired too so the post party day was rough on the whole family. E apparently went on walkabout at 2:15am at Tom & Kirsten's. When they heard him, they asked where he was going. Without missing a beat, he told them "I'm at Connor's house. I'm going to play!" Maggie did well til about 4am but Sarah was able to talk her out of going home and she rallied.

But Morrigan's assessment was that it was, once again, "the best party ever." And after getting a decent night's sleep last night, I can say it wasn't so bad. But please, when I consider another sleepover in the future, remind me of this one!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kindergarten Orientation

Today was Maggie's Kindergarten orientation. We were thrilled to find out that she has the same teacher Morrigan did, Mr. Richards. Looks like she has a good class too filled with many friendly faces including her buddy from preschool, Emily.

While there were some kids who seemed nervous and some even cried when they had to separate from their parents but Maggie happily left with her class.

I had to laugh at myself thinking back to Morrigan's orientation where I took notes. Nerd, I know, but it was all new to me then.

Tonight is Morrigan's 7th birthday party which, in spite of my efforts to make it otherwise, is a slumber party. Maggie and E are being farmed out for the night (thanks Sarah & Kirsten!) but we will get to enjoy the company of 9 girls for the night. Full report out tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Timely Take Two

Sleeping in is not a normal part of life here in the circus. There were literally YEARS where I didn't get to stay in bed past 6am. Fortunately for my sanity, the little ones now will at least stay in their rooms (sometimes awake, sometimes asleep) until 7am. But now we are less than a week out from school, which someone at the School Board decided should start at 7:45, and Eion has taken to late waking. I went to get him up at 8 and he was still out. This is not going to work at all for me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Birthday Pictures

The girls' birthday pictures courtesy of Timeless Photography (

On the Joy of Poorly Informed Gatekeepers and How They Can Make Your Life Completely Suck

I totally fired up the 5:30pm yoga class today which is completely out of character but, with no melodrama intended, might have saved me from a total implosion. It all started this morning when I went to school to make copies for my PTA job (naturally the directory - I love the from home placements.)

I ran into a friend who was stressed that her daughter, like Maggie, turned 5 after school started and subsequently couldn't get the physical and shots needed as insurance wouldn't pay for it until after their birthday. I told her that it was no problem, just have them fill out the form from last year's physical and write a letter that you had an appointment. At which point the school secretary told me that was not ok and if that was what I had done, Maggie couldn't go to Kindergarten. She said the only option was to pay out of pocket for the appointment (while unappealing, not even an option as you have to book months in advance) or go to the free clinic (unsavory - I don't think I need to elaborate.)

I came home close to tears, alright dammit, in tears, and not sure what to do. Tim, in the role of my hero today, looked up the applicable law and found that I was totally right. But you know my husband's interpretation would not hold up in the Court of the School Secretary so I spent three hours on the phone talking to various officials in the Virginia Department of Education. In the end, I found the right person who was horrified at the misinformation being distributed. She assured me I had not done anything wrong and Maggie was good to go (excellent) and that she would be calling the school to make sure that they adjusted their standards to match the law (ouch.) While I do want the other affected families to know they don't have to pay for a doctor's visit out of pocket, I selfishly do not like the place this puts me with an important gatekeeper ie the school secretary. The Department of Ed rep recommended bringing in brownies. Looks like I am firing up the oven.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Girls' Night, Weekend Etc

So I realized today that I have been offline for about a week. So we'll catch up on all the tedium backwards....

I just got back from a birthday dinner for friend Leigh Anne at Alejandro's. The food was great as anyone near me noticed since I completely cleared my plate. Ann said she loved the California style burritos because they were big enough for two meals. That is unless you are me and polish the whole thing off. And I was happy to survive the salsa bar. I overcame my general distaste for buffets and tried several varieties. No need for the Kleenex box shoes just yet.

I seriously didn't need to eat out since I just returned from a girls weekend with Ann and Kirsten (our gift for her 40th birthday - only took 6 months to get it together!) We drove out of town on Friday for a weekend of shopping and relaxing. That night we went to a great seafood restaurant. Maybe our whole mood was skewed positive by the fact that we were getting checked out as we walked to the place but hey, I'll take it!

Saturday we had a marathon shopping day. Our shopping styles were well suited to each other as we all prefer the sale racks. [Sorry Sippycups, I didn't spend allot of money as you instructed me to!] My best buys were a pink pool coverup like the one I have (and love) in brown and a top from Anthropologie that was $9.95! Now I saw this top in the catalog earlier in the year and coveted it dearly but it was some mind boggling price I would never pay. Low and behold, only one of this top in the clearance room for a price for which I can totally get on board. [Pictures when I wear it.]

After a 7 1/2 hour day at the mall, we were ready for our Tammys (raspberry vodka and diet seven up.) Naturally, I was prepared and had the travel bar with me. We returned to our room only to find that housekeeping had thrown out our almost entirely full diet 7up! This was going to be a problem. We called the Concierge and (politely) demanded a replacement bottle which naturally didn't come in time for our happy hour. Unnervingly sober, we headed out to the Cheesecake Factory, at which I had never eaten but was assured was great.

Yeah, not so much. After we were rushed through our substandard meal, we returned to the hotel feeling consolation knowing our Tammys surely awaited. Again, not so much. So make another call to the Concierge, who I am quite sure by this time thinks our obsession with diet 7up is pathological, to see what the hold up is. He assures us that our mixer is on the way since he sent a driver out to get it.

Ann & Kirsten decide that while we wait they will enjoy their take out cheesecake but alas, no forks. We call the Concierge, again, to see if we can get some forks but they don't answer the phone. We were beginning to wear on them apparently. So Kirsten went to visit them in person and told them the whole story behind the diet 7up and why it was so important. When they finally understood we were using it as a mixer rather than just drinking it on its own, they understood our tenacity. He did ask the very important question, "Did you check if the vodka was still there." We hadn't, but it was safe in the travel bar.

So after our long journey to dessert and drinks, Kirsten returned bearing forks and the much ballyhooed mixer. We were laughing so hard about the whole thing when we heard a knock at our door. It was our next door neighbor complaining we were keeping him up. To which Kirsten responded incredulously, "Yeah, we are keeping you up. At 9pm. On a Saturday. Riiight." We chose to vacate to the lobby rather than face further shushing.

The next day we hit the nearby outlet malls before heading back to reality. In our absence, the boys did quite well with the kids. Tim and Tom had a front yard camping adventure on Friday. Tom said Maggie ate as much in a half day as both their kids combined did in several days. Guess the big appetite runs in the family!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Tim's Mom used to call him "Timely Tim" for having impeccable timing as a child (though mainly to her inconvenience.) Maggie, in addition to being her father's carbon copy physically, seems to have adopted this trait as well. She spent the entire summer in fear of the slide. We told her she could stand in the water where she would land. We told her we would catch her. Nothing could get her on that thing. Finally, less than two weeks before the pool closes for the season, she agreed to go down the slide if I caught her. Which I did and then promptly set her down so she could see that she was head and shoulders above the water. She spent the better part of the afternoon happily going up and down over and over. And the torch is passed.

Ah the Irony

In what has has to be the most ironic turn my life has ever taken (and I mean that seriously with out a bit of melodrama), just as my son seems to finally have taken a shining to the potty, my kittens have mistaken my laundry and bed for a litter box. I noticed they had a fondness for peeing on clean laundry but that was remedied easily enough. I just put the laundry away right after folding.

Then this morning, I let the cats into my room. Tim was sleeping in the basement (he worked an afternoon shift) and I had woken up early. What better than to read my teenage vampires in love book and have the kitties purring on my lap. Except they snuggled right up next to me and peed my bed. On the dry clean only comforter no less. I promptly threw them into the yard. The children all started crying when they got up and found the cats were outdoors. Things did not improve when I warned that continued bad behaviour might mean the cats go back from whence they came. Clearly, the cats do not realize that the boy already exhausted my tolerance for non-compliance in the bathroom.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Have I Mentioned....

that I am DONE with summer! After the gym and lunch at home we headed out to the pool. Looked to be a great day with ambient weather and the promise of ice cream as Eion used the potty. [Actually, he has gone a week without pooping his pants but I was afraid mentioning it would jinx us.] Things were going ok and then Eion went missing. I remained calm but searched the pool and surrounding areas. After scouring the entire pool deck, I enlisted a lifeguard. We soon located him in the men's locker room/bathroom (the one location I couldn't investigate myself) where I was told, and I quote, "He is in there naked and playing in the urinal." That is awesome. He proceeded to refuse to leave the men's locker room because he needed to make a "giant poopy." Not one of the men entering during this debacle seemed happy to see me there. When he finally did exit, it was with the speed of an Olympic sprinter and, naturally, naked.

Soon thereafter, a birthday party started. Now, this is a private club where most people know each other. In general, when you have a kids' party, you anticipate that there might be some kids you know at the pool who were not invited. And you plan for it having ample cake. At least that is what we do. This family roped off the party area. And they hired the clown that is there every Wednesday night. The one my children refer to as "our clown." The kids were devastated when they were told they could only watch the magic show behind the roped off area. Holy crap! I know you are kidding me. While I don't expect you to feed my kids (even though I would yours-just saying...) I am 100% sure it does not cost you extra to have a few bonus kids watching the GD clown.

I think I will name this weekend "Weekend of good ideas gone terribly wrong." And I will pour a nice glass of wine.....

Two More Weeks of Summer

This is what I keep repeating to myself. Over and over and over.

Broke out of the rut Friday and for the last day of Zoo Camp, brought up Morrigan and Eion to join Maggie and her friend Tanner for a picnic lunch. As I was laying it out, I detailed for the kids what we had to eat: apples, pretzels, peanut butter sandwiches, bacon. When I hit the last one, campers at other picnic tables sighed "Oooh, bacon" in envy. My little lovers of pork wouldn't consider it a real picnic without it!

The Zoo had a few new things since my last visit including an aviary that was cool.

And heaven forbid we miss a chance to ride the train.

As her sister did a few years back, Maggie loved this camp. It is a colossal pain in the neck for parents but I have to say I really recommend it. She came home telling me about how they touched anacondas and saw parts of the zoo not open to the public. Then again, she was really excited about the snack too......

We went out to a recruiting dinner on Friday at 202 Market (my favorite in town restaurant.) Everything was yummy and we were joined by Tim's coworkers Karen and Damon, who we love. In addition to the interviewee, I also met Melanie, a new doc in Tim's group who has a son E's age. Dinner was great. We ended up at K & D's for drinks until they booted us out around 12:30.

Saturday there was a "birthday party" for Center in the Square which houses the History and Science museums. Admission was free and the ad listed other fun like balloons, face painting, music etc. We all gear up and get there around 11:30. The Market Square was packed. Clearly, I had greatly underestimated the draw of complimentary History museum passes. If it had been just Tim and myself, I would have ejected immediately. But the kids were all pumped up and there was no getting out of it now.

Mere minutes after our arrival, the girls moved into shopper mode wanting everything on which they laid eyes. Ice cream, lemonade, necklaces, earrings and incidentally, they don't have pierced ears so you can see this was just unbridled consumerism. If it was visible, they wanted it.

In an effort to avoid bankruptcy at the hands of street merchants, I detoured the clan into museum building. Stellar idea. Twice as crowded as the outside (but at least inside they couldn't smoke.) The kids first found that Art Venture was closed. Merde. Alright, on to the face painting. The line was easily 30 people deep. Frak!

Time for the Art Museum, kind of. Roanoke is in the process of building a new Art museum so all the art is packed up. That free admission is seeming like it is worth exactly what we paid for it. The kids found the music exploration area or as I saw it, the place that was way too noisy for someone who had enjoyed two Lemongrass martinis the night before.

Eion found the keyboard and after several painful minutes of "exploration," discovered that laying his entire forearm across the keys led to a much greater sound output than using individual fingers, a discovery I could have gone from now until the end of time without him making.

When the music fun was over we departed to the History museum upstairs. We waded through a sea of humanity, heavily peppered with foul mouthed tweens, in an attempt to view the exhibits. After about 10 minutes, they were done but not before Eion took advantage of our distractedness in order to climb into one of the exhibits. Good lord.

Finally, we ended up at the Science Museum to which you may recall, we are already members so we can get in free all the time. But we don't usually get to go when it is so pleasantly overcrowded. I ran into a few friends who correctly observed, "What are you doing here? You don't like the public." Oh Lee, how right you are. But my children wouldn't leave until we had viewed all the exhibits, including a chance to touch a ball python.

FINALLY, we escaped with the promise of milkshakes with lunch. We crossed the street to the Market Building to eat. I can't say I was too surprised that it was jam packed. Seeing that my head was literally about to explode, Tim suggested we go somewhere else which was met with howls of anger and tear filled remarks like "This ruins the family fun day!"

We drove to Cheeburger Cheeburger, an establishment I have never been to but I knew they had burgers and shakes. Well, they have them if you are interested in shelling out $42 for a family of four (I sagely didn't order Eion a lunch of his own knowing he wouldn't eat anyway.) Criminy.

I really needed my yoga class this morning.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer Fatigue

I am done with summer. I can't even say my kids are making me crazy because they are being relatively good. Even the boy. I have just lost my motivation this week.

Maggie is in Zoo Camp from 9-12 and when she gets home, we have been hanging around the house. I was going to rally and go to the pool tonight but the weather was too dicey for my taste so here we are again. Luckily, the cats have been a non stop source of entertainment and the girls are happy to read and play Littlest Pet Shop. (We are kind of homeboddies.)

I did get all five million things I wanted to list on eBay out there. And the Olympics have inspired Morrigan to want to be on swim team. Which is a good news/bad news kind of thing. Good - she wants to be on the team. Bad - I promised to do it if she did. I am a S L O W swimmer. But I have been told the team gets points just for participation...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Highs and Lows

We had a great weekend though there were a few blips on the radar. Friends David and Lori invited us and a few other families out to the lake on Saturday. The weather was perfect and we had a great time. Eion was a tad testy at first, not a big fan of the life jacket. But once he got in our friend Tommy's boat, all the tears were gone.

He spent essentially the balance of the afternoon in the boat, whether it was moving or not. Maggie was right there with him. The other kids all took turns on the sea biscuit:

Morrigan rode as many times as she could without getting into an altercation with the other riders. Naturally, there was also fishing which is very important to the gals even though they only want to do it for a few minutes. Seems they need to check that box off for their "perfect lake day" list.

Sunday morning we were rushing around to get everyone to the gym so I could go to yoga and just as we were about to leave, click. The car won't start. So we transfer to the Cadillac and make it to the RAC just in time. Now I have really been enjoying my Sunday morning zen. I leave there feeling about as good as I do all week. Tim decided he would join in too. After the class was over, I asked him how he liked it. He told me, "That was great!" I briefly mistook his enthusiasm for mockery but he actually did love it. And a new Sunday tradition is born...

When we got home Tim tried to jump start my car (to no avail) and look under the hood to try and diagnose the problem. That is when the old girl went Christine on me. It started randomly honking for no reason. And even better, when off, in park and without the key in the ignition, the a/c started up. Super.

This was a particularly unwelcome development as I am carpooling with two other families to Zoo Camp this week and while the Caddy will transport our immediate family, any hangers on would have to be in the trunk, likely to be highly unpopular with the rest of the car pool. Fortunately, all it took was a tow to the service center and $200 and we are back in business. And the tow process was highly entertaining. He essentially had to pull the Suburban out at a 90 degree angle since it was in the garage. It was good fun. Eion loved it. The tow truck driver was very sweet and (after my truck was on the bed) let him in the cab of the tow truck. Made the boy's day!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Slay Me

Maybe I need to get this sign for Eion! [Compliments of]

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Camp Week

So not so much posting this week as the kids are at camp every day from 9-1. Can't say I've accomplished all the things I wanted to but Tim & I did get to go on a six mile hike and all breaks from the boy are welcome. As I should have guessed, the no clothes experiment went poorly and Eion pooped on my family room floor (wood happy to say) Monday and on the deck yesterday. Really. During dinner. You have got to be kidding me. He did request that we let him poo in the woods but I don't think that will translate well at school. My friend Marlo gave me some books on handling the strong willed child today. Clearly, I am open to any and all ideas at this point.

On the plus side, I am loving the kitties:

and today was Wacky Wednesday at the pool so I was able to catch up with all the people who have been vacationing in July. Meanwhile, I had the clown to entertain the kids.

And it has to get better with Eion. Dear god, it just must.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

They Can't All Be Winners....

Do you ever have a day when you think, "This is a great idea!" but when you act on that great idea it all goes to hell and you end up looking for the bourbon muttering, "That was a crappy idea"? I'm that girl. Yesterday I invited the girls' friends Sophie and Riley to sleep over. In theory, this should work great, each girl has a friend, proven track record of getting along. In practice, I spent the evening running interference and no one was happy.

It was at least 99% my girls' fault. They refused to entertain their guests and only wanted activities involving eating, preferably ice cream. Eion didn't help matters by, well, being Eion. Riley noted his unwelcome addition to the mix and told me:

R: When we have a sleepover, my Daddy takes Will [her little brother] out.
Me: Well, Dr. McKernan has to work tonight and he can't do that.
R: Our way is really better.

No sh*t Sherlock but we are stuck with him. I did finally cart him off to bed where rather than going to sleep like normal, he disrobed, threw all the contents of his shelves on the floor and started screaming. After what we will call here a "heated confrontation" he agreed to stay in his room.

Things were a bit better this morning due in large part to the cats.

And all the girls were excited to wear their matching gear. Knowing we had the same butterfly sundresses, Sophie & Riley had packed theirs so they could all match.

We met their Mom at the gym so I walked in with all four girls which took a while as every single person we passed commented on them. A few frightened that they were all mine but most just saying they looked darling which made the gals' days.

We are trying a new approach with the boy and potty training [Oh no - that's not even close to done. I've just spared you our complete lack of progress this month.] At Kirsten's suggestion, I have him naked at home all the time. So far (today) it seems to be working. Not that it is much of a stretch for him to rock the birthday suit.

Friday, August 01, 2008


The circus has expanded with the addition of two kittens, Jack and Midnight. We adopted them from the Roanoke SPCA this week. We went in with the intention of getting a black cat to find we had about 25 from which to choose. Apparently, no one wants black cats. These two were brother and sister so we took them both.

They are getting plenty of love, both wanted and unwanted. The girls are enthusiastic but good with the cats. Eion really likes them but doesn't know his own strength. And I think he terrifies them as he chases them yelling with joy "Here kitty witties!"

I am actually surprised at how much I am enjoying their addition to the household. After everyone goes to bed, if I lay down on the sofa to read or watch tv they come and lay on me, purring until I go to bed. The litter box is kind of a pain but they have made real advances in litter technology in the past few years!