Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Earthshattering Facts About Me

I have been tagged many, many times on Facebook to list 25 Things About Me. You are supposed to list out these random things and then tag 25 others including the person, or in my case, persons who tagged you. I wasn’t going to get involved with this but I am beginning to feel like a spoil sport. So I’ll meet my taggers halfway. Here’s my list but I won’t tag anyone else!

1) I think credit cards and debt are evil. I don’t use them and once our house is paid off (three years to go), intend never to borrow again. Ever.
2) My fist concert was Styx in 1983. I went with my Dad and the people in front of us were smoking pot (not that I knew at the time – I was 11.) They offered it to him and he said, “No, I’ve had enough already.” Only many years later did I figure this all out and laughed heartily. [Disclaimer: Dad never did drugs, which made it even funnier.]
3) Tim and I saw the last Grateful Dead show in which Jerry Garcia performed on our honeymoon.
4) I lived with my family in Paris, France for three years in the 80’s. It was one of the best times in my life.
5) When I go to hell, it will be for the sin of pride.
6) I have a serious aversion to dry wood including popsicle sticks. It makes me cringe.
7) I hate the movies most women love. But I adore horror/zombie/slasher/vampire flicks. I will take Night of the Living Dead over He’s Not That Into You any day. My favorite movie might still be Fight Club.
8) I know you’re not supposed to have a favorite child but I do.
9) In 1989 I was in the parade down the Champs Elysees for the celebration of the bicentennial of the French Revolution.
10) I quit drinking soda last year and don’t miss it at all.
11) My life keeps getting better and better. I feel bad for people who think their “Glory Days” are behind them.
12) I have 65 first cousins (give or take a cousin.) Dad is the youngest of 12 and our family is huge. I always felt sorry for people with small extended families.
13) Tim is a much better cook than I am.
14) I am trying to rid my life of all processed foods. Lean Cuisine and its ilk are disturbing. I refuse to buy Lunchables for my kids, something I am sure they will tell their therapist someday, but have been known to allow Pop Tarts on vacation.
15) I don’t consider wine or gin processed foods.
16) I consider myself a Conservative rather than a Republican.
17) I make all babies (other than my own) cry. I tried to hold one of Tim’s coworker’s babies at a dinner party so they could eat and the kid became inconsolable and they had to leave.
18) I talk to my cats, mostly telling them they are good kitties and pretty kitties.
19) If they are playing a song in the store that I like, I have been known to sing along. I do not have a very good singing voice.
20) My family would cease to exist without pork. We consume at least 2 pounds each of sausage and bacon per week.
21) One of my first thoughts after finding out I was pregnant with Morrigan was, “Awesome! I am not going to have to ski for at least 5 years!” It’s been 8 or so and I am still happy.
22) In spite of the fact that I hate taxes, I love preparing our tax returns. I stalk the mail all through January awaiting W2s and 1099s. Did ours today – woohoo!
23) I don’t care what people think of me. I gave it up years ago and recommend it highly.
24) I met Tim when I was 19 and we’ve been together ever since (a few fights in the early days aside of course.) We don’t believe in divorce. Now depending on the situation, one of us may have an unfortunate accident….
25) Moving to Roanoke was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I am traumatized. Tim took Eion to get his hair cut. As I previously blogged, his last cut wasn't my favorite being a bit redrum but I would give anything to have it back now. Here is my sweet boy before (yes I mean Eion!):

And this is what came home:

He may quite literally NEVER get another haircut. Ever. I am trying very hard not to blame this on Tim but I am struggling. To make it worse, he is scheduled to get his 4 year pictures taken next week. I may break with tradition and not get them done. My only solace is the fact that his hair will grow back. My scars may never heal. 

One More Thing....

I completely forgot two of my favorite things about the Great Wolf Lodge. The first was the room keys. Everyone had to wear wristbands indicating that you were a guest there but the adult wristbands had a chip in them which allowed them to open your door and pay for food etc anywhere in the resort. They were waterproof and seemingly indestructible. They were awesome! I can't believe Disney didn't think of these things. The second was the prevalence of recycling bins. Each room had a bin that was for paper, glass, plastic and aluminum. They were also all over the resort. Loved that too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Great Wolf Lodge & E Turns 4

As we wouldn't want our kids to have a full week of school in January, we pulled them out for a few days to go to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. For those not familiar, it is a large indoor waterpark with an attached hotel. We had never been before but had heard great things. Indeed, it did not disappoint! We met up with Melanie & Jerry and caravaned the 4 hours to get there on Monday. We happily secured rooms across the hall from each other for better socializing. The kids were thrilled with our "Kids Cabin" rooms remarking, "We had no idea it would be this cool!" Their room within a room had three beds and a tv of their own which for kids from families where tv and bedrooms are kept separate and never the twain shall meet, is a big deal.

The rest of the room was decorated in early cabin cheese but had nice high ceilings and really, all is forgiven since we had some space away from the minions.

Our Pop Tart fueled kids dominated the water park for three days. There were moments of intermittent fussing from all five kids but overall revelry in the fun that is the water park. On a photographic note, the lighting was terrible for picture taking and all the pics trend dark. While it is happily not visible in the pics here, they all have glaring red eye which I, a master of digital photo editing, was unable to remove making it appear as if we were on Satan's own vacation.

Some of my favorite moments include...both girls eventually going on and loving the big slides. And we couldn't locate Eion at one point. We walked around looking for him and found him happily sitting with another family. They said that he hadn't uttered a word and they assumed we would come along eventually. Now that is self reliance.

I was on a platform waiting for a slide when I saw Eion in the small pool, splashing and generally attacking some random man (not from his aforementioned adopted family.) Tim, at the moment, had his back turned and failed to see me waving and pointing wildly. I was surprised the dude didn't deck Eion.

After the water fun was done, we would head back to the rooms, get take out and have some cocktails as the kids looped back and forth between rooms.

Tuesday night (a day early but he had no idea) we celebrated Eion's 4th birthday. He loved his gifts of weaponry and Byakugan. We were low key with Chik-Fil-A in and ice cream in lieu of cake but he seemed a happy little guy.

We didn't last long this morning but leaving early wasn't too bad. The roads were foggy, slick and rainy and I wouldn't have wanted to be on them in the dark. Not to mention, our afternoon arrival home left me with plenty of time to unpack and do laundry. 

As this was Highly Successful Trip number 2, I think we have passed a milestone. For many years now, our excursions have been limited due to the fact that travel with young children just sucks. I know many people who fight this fact and drag their toddlers all over but we wouldn't do it which meant we just didn't vacation much. But now, the family vacation is fun again! We are emerging from what we affectionately called, he Dark Years and it feels great.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fun Fun Fun

Oh the weekend went by so fast that I am glad there is no school tomorrow. Tim was off all weekend and it was a treat. Makes me a wee bit jealous of the gals with husbands who work nine to five...We played tennis on Friday morning - much fun although we missed Ann & Hans who normally play then too. Later we went to Tom and Kirsten's for dinner and poker. We weren't the first out this time but still didn't place. I have been playing downright sloppy lately and I think it may be a bit of poker fatigue. May have to have a game night with (gasp) a new game. 

Saturday E had a birthday party to attend so I took the girls to see Hotel for Dogs. We met up with some friends, all of whom were going to their first big screen movie! It was sappy, predictable and loved by them all. And they did great. [Before we move on, please note the girls picked out those outfits themselves. If you ever think I am too controlling, you have to remember this picture and see I clearly let this one go. Second, Maggie is the youngest person in that picture. Good lord - the gal is on track to be a tall drink of water.]

Later that night we went to Issac's, one of the best restaurants in Roanoke, before heading over to Cocktail Club. This month's hosts were Jon & Ilona, friends we have known for 9 years but never seem to see enough. We promised to get together more this year.

Today we went to Sunday morning yoga, my very favorite way to start the week. The balance of the day was largely devoted to packing. We are pulling the kids out of school [again] for a few days to go to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg with Melanie, Jerry & kids. As if the trip wasn't enough excitement, it will be Eion's 4th birthday while we are there too! Full report out later in the week....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Young Love

Overheard on the ride to school:

Eion (to Anne Marie): I love you.
Anne Marie: Thanks.
Eion: No, you are supposed to say I love you too. I love you.
Anne Marie: Complete silence.

Maggie Swims!

And while that might not be news at any other house, it is stop the presses news around here! While Maggie has always been happy to play in the pool, she has staunchly refused to take swim lessons of any kind. Bribes, threats none of it worked. So I just gave up. I figured eventually she would come around.

The Kindergarten classes spent the week going to the pool and taking swim lessons. Maggie swam and jumped off the diving blocks. Huge progress. We're still saving for college as the swimming scholarship is unlikely but it's a start!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy Birthday E

E's birthday is next week but we gave him the above documented gift a bit early....Yesterday the family was taking turns on the new Wii Fit [as an aside, Wii Fit age, same as real age - would that it were lower but I will take it!] when Tim tired of our antics and started browsing YouTube. He came across a 3 year old drummer and showed it to me and Eion. E sat transfixed and simply said "I want those drums." We decided to give him the drums we had stashed in the basement for him a few days early. He is enthusiastic. And loud. Very loud. But oh so happy. And when he is the next Neil Peart or Keith Moon it will all be worth it. Right?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sorry E, Man's Game

Ah the crying and gnashing of teeth tonight. Eion, who perpetually holds out hope that Mommy is an Issuer of Idle Threats, was whipping a metal bell at the tv. I told him to cease fire and his response was "I throw it at the sofa?" Not in the mood for broken gear or one eyed children, I told him he was not to throw the bell AT ALL and if he did, he would not get ice cream tonight. [It was Celebrity Scoop Night at Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and both the girls' teachers were scheduled to be guest scoopers. In the end neither was there but by the time I was in possession of this knowledge twas too late.] And then of course he fast balled it at the (glass) doors to the deck. 

Tim, who got to check out and sleep in prep for tonight's night shift, did not think I would follow through. Sorry boys. Mommy plays a man's game. Even when that means sitting in the ice cream store while two girls eat ice cream and one boy cries. Maybe someday he will learn to listen.......

And on an inaugural note, on the way to ballet, Maggie told me, "They made us watch that man who is going to raise our taxes at school today. I liked Return to OZ better." Me too Mags.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thank You Jack Frost

My darlings stormed my room this morning with cries of "Thank you Jack Frost! There's snow!" Rather than the jubilation they felt, I was a bit panicked. Today, being MLK Day, there is no school and Tim will be asleep all day having worked all night. AND Ann and I have finally managed to coordinate schedules to play some child free Rock Band. I need to open those remaining venues. As one raised in the frozen Midwest, "snow" is reserved for 6 inches or more but for my Southern kids, who, by the by, seem to be developing quite a twang - who knew "stairs" had 16 syllables?, a dusting is worthy of major excitement.

It is literally a dusting but they insisted on full snow gear which we just happened to have since their cousins live where it actually snows and are generous with the hand me downs. Whatever. They seem to be having fun. And they just asked me for their sled. I may have to break out the video camera for this one.

In all honesty, I'm enjoying the innocence of the moment. To be made so happy by such a little, free, natural, non-commercial thing is beautiful. We've had so many glimpses of the future here and my girls want to grow up so fast. The other day I busted Morrigan putting on blush before we left the house. [Without a mirror - it was quite a sight.]

And several girls I drove in a carpool started talking about losing weight. They are 7. I'm a wee bit hyper-sensitive about eating disorders and have made it one of my Main Goals Of Parenting to have girls who avoid that pitfall so I shut down the topic right away. But not before Morrigan, god love her, stated "I think I am a little light. I want to gain 8 pounds." Take a deep breath Katie, she is still innocent in that regard.

But I may be losing on another front....Morrigan has wanted a Bratz doll for years. There is no way in hell I will allow one of those things in my house. You know I am pretty loose with these kinds of things, seriously, 2/3rds of Eion's Christmas gifts were weapons, but here I draw the line. They should just call them what they are, the little prostitutes dolls. [Don't believe me? Take a look:] But trying to be non confrontational, I told her she could have one when she was 13 figuring by then she would be done with dolls. Yesterday she informed me, "You need to let me get one now. When I am 13 I won't want it anymore." Found out I am.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kitties in Distress

My BSG watching is being delayed by Morrigan's Hannah Montana. While I thought I was all caught up blogging, I realized I forgot a potentially disastrous but funny (since it all worked out) story from our trip to Florida. We left on Tuesday afternoon. I loaded the cats up with several bowls of food and water knowing the housekeeper, Vicky, would be in the next day to check on them. 

We were on route to the land of the giant margaritas when I received a call from her concerned that she hadn't seen the cats all morning. At first I told her not to worry, I'm sure they were around but then thought there was one place they like to hide and maybe she should check it. The cats love to go in the bathroom closet, which contains an access panel to the plumbing, and roam in the walls. She checked there and sure enough, the nimrod cats had been napping in the walls and someone had shut the closet door trapping them. Luckily, they only were in there for a day. I think the kids would have been permanently traumatized if we killed the cats while at Disney World!

It is Cold and Dull

So you have to think you are in for some serious blog excitement when you read that title. Sadly, it is, on the whole, quite accurate. Today was (again) bitterly cold making our outings few. Tim is working nights so he is out of the picture. We spent most of the day doing super fun things like ironing, laundry and attaching girl scout badges to their uniforms. Woohoo! My Saturday night is shaping up to be me and a Battlestar Galactica marathon, which, come to think of it, isn't all bad. 

The weather here looks like it is going to stay in the low 30's for the next week. The cold is bad enough on its own but the havoc the dry, cold weather is wreaking on my hair is unacceptable! Arrgh - I look like a model for Cling Free spray all the time.

But before I fall too far into negativity, Friday was lots of fun. Tim and I went to the gym and then hit the annual 310 Rosemont 75% off sale aka the only time I can afford their clothes. We planned to go on to tennis but instead spent about two hours shopping. Surprisingly, I think Tim bought more than I did. 

Then I headed to school for Maggie's teacher's 50th birthday. My fellow homeroom Mom, April, and I brought in cupcakes and led the class in a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. In addition to the cupcakes we brought, they also had a cake for all the Kindergarten classes, pudding and another Mom sent in peanut butter cookies. Those were some jacked up kids by the end of the day.

Luckily, we were going to a cocktail party thrown by friends Jennie and George at the Club and got to let the kids run wild in the child watch area. The party was fun and we were loath to leave but had previously scheduled poker for the same evening. 

Naturally, I sat to Rob N.'s left not that it helped our performance at the table. Tim and I were out early but did indeed win the first to bed competition, a victory of which I was quite pleased this morning when the little feet began to pitter patter. Better luck next month!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Will I Promote First.......

Before I assault you with multiple sales pitches, I have to apologize for my spotty blogging in January. It seems January is perpetually busier than December at our house. It is the perfect storm of Florida vacations, Eion's birthday, year end bookkeeping (the one time a year I have to work over 4 hours a week - horrors!), and Book & Author ramping up. So the not so interesting details of my life are not posted with their normal frequency. I hope you all will survive. (Personally, I miss my online therapy sessions....)

Now that we have that out of the way, on to sales! Both girls are selling Girl Scout cookies this year so any of my Roanoke area readers (sorry, no shipping!) who lack a cookie connection just let me know. We can fulfill all your Thin Mint desires! [This pic is a bit out of date - the Cinnaspins have been replaced with something called Daises. Also cinnamon based.]

While I am soliciting support, I have to plug RAMA's Book & Author Dinner which I am chairing again this year. 
Mark your calendars now for what will be an awesome event! The dinner will be the evening of Saturday, April 4th at the Hotel Roanoke. We have a killer line up of speakers including David Baldacci (Absolute Power and many more), Dr. Bill Bass (Death's Acre and Beyond the Body Farm), and Alex Berenson (The Faithful Spy.) If you are interested in tickets, email [Their respective websites are linked below.]

Now with that out of the way, we can return to our normally scheduled blogging soon....

Monday, January 12, 2009

Florida Part 3: We Tackle Universal Studios

Friday we realized that the Disney marathon was that weekend so there was no way in hell the team was going back there. We opted instead for Universal's Islands of Adventure which was quite fun. It was appropriately empty and had short lines all over the place. 

We started in the Dr. Seuss area which was a big hit. The kids gravitated towards the water which is a super idea when it is 90+ degrees, is not necessarily the best choice when it is 74. 

The girls remained relatively dry but E refused to heed our warnings and got soaked. He also wouldn't leave the water area for several hours. Tim supervised him while the girls and I rode every ride in that vector.

Eventually, we drug him out kicking and screaming. Next, I was aiming for Sindbad's something or another which was a show with acrobats but inadvertently led us to Poseidon's Fury. It did not work out well. It was more of an "attraction" than a ride but had Poseidon fighting some bad guy while we were "trapped" in a secret ruin. So the bad guy is threatening to kill everyone, Maggie is screaming and crying, Morrigan is terrified, and Eion is shivering (remember the hours in the water) while crying, "I don't want to die!" Was not the best part of our day.

Luckily for us, Universal seems to be a bit more interested in parent's sanity than Disney and our lunch destination had some reasonably priced $5 beers. Then it was on to the Jurassic Park section which was very well received. They had an area where baby velocoraptors were "hatched" and both girls got to name one. And then subsequently argue with me for the rest of the trip that dinosaurs were not extinct. How could they be when we just saw them hatch?

Indeed. On to the water ride which poor E was too short to ride. But he rallied and didn't protest too much.

We rounded out the day with the Spiderman ride that the girls wanted to ride a second time but Eion deemed "too scary." After a LONG day, we headed back to Tim's parent's in time for dinner. Saturday we came home on what was an unremarkable flight (thankfully.) While you may not get allot of water time, I have to recommend Florida in early January!

Florida, Part 2 or Eion Goes to Disney World

After several years of being ditched with the in-laws, Eion graduated to what we felt was an acceptable risk and we took him to Disney. To his credit, the boy did great. He was almost mute the entire day, walking around with his eyes wide, taking in the spectacle. We rode lots of rides including perennial favorite, the teacups. The Buzz Lightyear ride was also a big hit! 

As anticipated, the lines were very short and only a handful were too long to tolerate. He was a bit disappointed when he couldn't go on Space Mountain due to the height restriction but E and I rode something else while the girls and Tim went on the coaster. I couldn't believe Maggie went on and loved it. So soon we will be riding the big rides again and as a roller coaster aficionado, I can't wait!

In the mean time, we'll enjoy Dumbo and his ilk. 

We rode just about everything in the Magic Kingdom, including the Haunted Mansion ride and Pirates of the Caribbean. Nary a tear I tell you. It was great! Naturally, the girls wanted to stay for the evening parade and fireworks. So we did and Eion got to see fireworks for the first time. Now those were some big smiles.

We hadn't made hotel reservations since we weren't sure how the day would go but we determined that another day of fun park action was in our future and set off to find lodging. Before we even got out of the parking lot, Maggie and E were OUT.

Not too far away, though would have been a tad closer if we (read: Tim) had listened to the GPS, we found a Clarion hotel and got a room for $59. While I can't say it was the most comfortable bed, the price and location were right!

Florida, Part 1

So after the kids were back to school for 2 full days, we pulled them out to visit Tim's parents and grandmother in Florida. It was a short trip, departing on Tuesday and returning on Saturday, but well worth the hindsight. It certainly didn't seem like it would work out when our flight left Roanoke 4 hours late. The kids were actually pretty good if a tad disruptive to the airport personnel. They did allot of things like this:

and run laps around the terminal. So much for the pre-trip showers. We weren't sure if we were going to get out at all which left Morrigan in tears crying that her whole life was ruined. Eventually we got out. We were flying a no frills airline but sprung for some $2 bags of M&Ms for the kids and some well deserved beer and wine for us. We ordered 2 each right of the bat. Some of the best $5 a glass Sutter Home I have ever tasted. After arriving, renting a mini van and blowing right past our exit by 30 minutes, we finally got to Doug & Nancy's at about 1am. 

The next day we were tired but in good spirits. We visited Great Grandma McKernan, 96 year old vintage. She is still pretty spry and seemed very happy we came by.

Next up was a family favorite, the land of fried fish and ginormous margaritas. Shameful as it may be, I couldn't even finish mine.

After lunch, we continued to the gulf and thought we might walk on the beach. It was only about 67 degrees and windy but that didn't stop the kids from chasing the birds.

And then getting in the what must have been frigid water.

But they thought it was perfect and who am I to argue?