Monday, December 28, 2009

Back to Work

Boo, boo! Tim goes back to work tonight ending a lovely 6 day family filled stretch. We've been relaxing and accomplishing very little around here and as one unnamed reader [that's you Dad] pointed out, a dearth of blogging. So just for that reader, a little catch up.....

We were able to make it out on Christmas and attend a lovely party that a friend's father holds annually. The kids were almost wholly self sufficient, leaving us to socialize at will. Since I had been largely home bound since the big storm, this was very welcome.

Granted, Eion and his pals had a very different idea of Holiday socializing.

We felt the need to depart as it approached bedtime for the kids and Maggie told us she and the host's grandson were "busy kissing in the basement." Exit, stage left.

Since the 25th, we have had allot of downtime, some visiting friends and a new familiarity with the Nintendo Corporation's warranty and returns department. Maggie, after having it for exactly one day, dropped and broke her new dsi. But I handeled it extremely well. I fussed at Maggie, making her cry and then while complaining to Tim that I was unsure of the location of the receipt, Morrigan said, "So it was you who bought them!" [The dsis were "Santa" gifts.] So I yelled at her telling her to get out of the room this instant. So much for peaceful family holiday time. Did I mention that one of my New Year's resolutions is to control my temper?

In the additional family cheer department, Tim has about had it with the cats after they got into his breakfast this morning and wants to oust them from the clan. Maggie is largely unconcerned. She told me this morning, "I know he can't really get rid of them because you're the master of the house." Love that Maggie.

With all the cat banishment and Santa myth destroying behind us, we are getting ready for my parents' visit tomorrow and New Years, which is shaping up to be a quiet affair. And showing my age entirely, that's ok by me!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Maggie's Last Gift

Just so you can share in her disappointment and our failure as parents :) She needs something to tell her therapist someday anyhow.

Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!

As you all know, we had to wait until the very, very last minute for Tim's schedule. As a result, all our family has (understandably) made other plans. While one would think the world waits on us, sometimes it doesn't.

So we find ourselves with no visitors to entertain, all the shopping done and 6 days off with Tim! Can't say we have been up to anything remarkable, but it has been wonderfully relaxing. I love when Vacation Tim is here.

Since time was in abundance, I thought it would be an excellent family activity to do a puzzle together. So we laid out the pieces and began to sort. It quickly became apparent to us all that we had chosen a much too difficult puzzle. Morrigan bailed first, then Maggie. (E was never on board anyway.) There I was, with Tim, doing an impossibly hard puzzle. And truth be known, I really hate puzzles. I just thought it would be a good family thing. Smooth move Katie.

Christmas Eve was very low key. We went to the store and got in the holiday melee to pick up some last minute dinner items. We asked the kids what they wanted to eat and it was bacon and raspberries. Might be the easiest holiday dinner I've ever cooked! After some old school holiday specials (think Rudolph's Shiny New Year,) we set out milk and cookies for Santa and it was off to bed!

"Santa" carted all the gifts out of her closet and then she went to bed too.

Where she was awoken by three little ones ready to open gifts at 5:11am. Nope, back to bed minions. I can't start quite that early. But by 6:40, I had given in and the holiday frenzy was on!

Some of the best quotes:

Eion, as he opened his Dsi, "Oooh, a Dsi! I wanted a red one." Sorry E, you get to enjoy a blue one.

Maggie, as she opened her last present, "I know what this is. It is a crayon maker!" Not so much:

Now the crayon maker was added to the list two days ago, after entire Christmas budget was spent. Not to mention, the darn thing is $90 and I probably wouldn't have bought it anyway. So Maggie and I got to have a conversation about how just because you put it on a list doesn't mean you get it.

By 7am, the gift opening was complete and they were off to enjoy a healthy breakfast of chewing gum and chocolate.

Overall, I think Christmas was a success. I've enjoyed the irony of Maggie, who did not ask for a Dsi but received one anyway because I knew if two kids got one, they all had to get one, is the only one who seems to be playing with it. Other than Tim and me of course. He has lost all his Bakugan battles so far and I've discovered I am a terrible virtual cook. Eion has thus far refused to play Mario Kart but does like watching us play. Go figure.

We're enjoying the freezing rain which means we may have to stay put today and dodge the barrage of nerf darts all day. (The color of that gun was right!) And maybe I can improve my virtual cooking. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day Three: Snowbound!

I'm exaggerating just a bit. Saturday we were truly stuck. Tim made it to work, in the Jeep, but the roads were not worth the risk for the rest of us. Not to mention, if we did go out, I think the only thing open was the ER! Yesterday, while major roads were by and large clear, our street was still dicey and Tim narrowly escaped our circle. He recommended staying home.

Today I think we would have been clear to go but honestly, with school cancelled, Christmas shopping done and Tim at work, I was content to hole up for one more day here.

The kids and I have had a fine time playing in the snow, watching movies, and popping pop corn. The only place I could think to go was the gym and I had all the workout I needed here clearing walkways and a path to the mailbox.

I was a bit bummed about our sledding situation. While we have ample hills, most end their run in a forest with no flat land for slowing down. I didn't need a trip to visit Tim with one of the minions having a concussion. But today I fashioned this mini slope down our stairs and built a snow impact wall into which the kids could crash. Not ideal but passing.

With the streets largely clear and Tim starting a six day off stretch (hooray!) we are looking forward to a white Christmas. And the kids are thrilled that school is cancelled for the rest of the year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Did I Say Potential?

It started to snow at 2:30 yesterday afternoon. By 3pm, I was white knuckling it down my driveway knowing I was not leaving again for some time. I made it in the garage without crashing my car, which was no small feat!

I shovelled off about four inches of snow before Tim got home. By shovelled, I mean some good old fashioned shovelling. Our snowblower picked a doozy of a time to break. Tim spent another two hours out there when he got home. He came in and informed me, "We're f*cked." We still had plenty of snow, it was still coming down and we were running out of places to put it.

Why bother clearing? Tim has to work today at 3pm and while the rest of town may shut down, the ER is always open. So first thing after breakfast, we started clearing a path to the Jeep. And then tried to clear as much snow as we could. All that time getting the kids gear yesterday - really should have bought for me instead. They played outside for a 1/2 hour and then retired to the indoors for a Scooby Doo marathon. Tim and I, on the other hand, were out there for a good three hours and have most of it cleared.

They say we got 16 inches but my highly scientific deck table method disagrees. Say a prayer for Tim who will (hopefully) be driving to work in this mess later. Hopefully because he says that if he can't drive, he'll walk the several miles. That's some dedication.

Friday, December 18, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure

I am the biggest nerd ever but this really made me laugh. Cabin fever maybe?

The (Potential) Blizzard of December '09

I love the South and their fear of snow. We are forcasted to get 12 inches dumped on us tonight and the town is in an uproar. The grocery store was wall to wall people stocking up for the weekend. What was the best was seeing what people just couldn't live without. My personal favorite was the cart laden with soda and chips. Nothing but the essentials!

After escaping unscathed there, it was off to hunt for snow gear. We determined this morning that Maggie needed new boots and Eion and Morrigan needed snowsuits. WalMart had nothing for me. Nothing! I thought they had everything. Now I was getting a little worried. If they didn't have snowsuits, who would? But Kmart came through for the snowsuits, though E will be rocking purple bibs, and Rack Room Shoes had boots.

While out shopping, Jerry called and let me know that school was letting out at 11:30. Not one flake of snow has fallen. But I learned years ago that threat of snow alone can bring this town to a grinding halt.

To try to save others the frantic trips to the store, we were busy in the lending cold weather clothes lending department. At one point, I had three bags labeled for their various recipients waiting inside my door today. Couldn't find what you need? Give me a call, I just might have it!

So cupboards stocked and appropriate outerwear purchased, I'm off to pick up the kids and wait to get snowed in!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holidays, by the Boy

Eion, who just yesterday told me he was going to celebrate Hanukkah but we could not as he has a paper menorah from school and we have none, is singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. His version goes like this, "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, has a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would even say it blows." Merry Christmas indeed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Escape to DC

[As a disclaimer, this will likely be a very long and rambling post. For your reading pleasure, I will add in sub heads just in case you are feeling a bit fatigued and need to take a break. Now I'll ramble on...]

Hatching the Plan

So Saturday morning I spring on Tim that there is a rally in Washington DC protesting the healthcare bill in the Senate that I would like to attend. I tell him we can take the whole family and make it an impromptu trip. To my surprise, he agrees. We pull the kids out of school for a few days and off we go!

Now, Roanoke is about the biggest town the lot of them have ever been in, making this a VERY exciting trip. We set off Monday first thing and arrived four hours later in DC. We checked into the hotel and hit the Mall. I quickly discovered that if one wants to blend in, it is best not to wear a fuzzy pink jacket. But really, to hell with those cosmopolitan types. It was cold and the pink jacket was the warmest I had!

In a move that one could describe as not the best thought out, we arrived right at lunchtime with three hungry kids. We paid for our lack of planning, $44.63 exactly, at the Smithsonian Castle cafe where that sum buys you a few bottles of soda, bagels and a chicken wrap. Welcome to the big city.


We visited the Museum of Natural History (against the wishes of Morrigan who claimed she "hates" history,) the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Natural History was the family favorite in spite of early resistance.

But all sites well received, though we really should have mixed in a few more cabs. The kids were spent. Which leads us to...

The Dinner Adventure

We planned poorly and arrived back at the hotel at what is normally dinner time. (Are we seeing a theme here?) Tim went in search, unsuccessfully, for adult beverages. In the end, we were in the room, with starving kids and no plan. After much deliberation, we set out to the ESPN Zone, which you know is a place that has superior cuisine.

We oh so sagely decide to take the Metro rather than a cab. Confronted with the ticket purchasing machine, we panic and try to get help from the station attendant who essentially let us know we were on our own. A bit of trial and error (and complete buffoonery) later, we had tickets. We held up people at the turn styles, on the escalator and pretty much at every turn. Let me tell you, if you are an obstruction, DC residents are testy. But that's alright. I took to smiling and say "hi" to strangers. They don't know what to do with it.

Day Two Sightseeing

Was off to a tenuous start at best. Eion was crying and complaining about his feet right from the start. The very unfortunate thing is that he whines, quite literally, about everything. So after a while, you just tune him out. But we were able to drag his fussy behind to the National Aquarium which all the kids loved. Personally, I didn't think it was nearly as nice as the Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach but it was good none the less. And really, as long as they were happy, so was I.

Then we headed over to the American History Museum or "America's Attic" where we saw THE ruby red slippers, the collection of First Lady inaugural dresses, C3PO, and Julia Child's kitchen. We will have to go back there because we didn't have nearly enough time to see all the exhibits because we were off to...

The Main Event

Now, the whole reason we started on this jaunt was to go to the Code Red Rally against the Senate Healthcare bill. While I generally stay a-political on this blog, I'm clearly veering that way today. And I know I have several readers who are as far left as I am right. But I ask today for indulgence. Hear me out on this one.

Why did I feel compelled to cart my whole family to DC ? May surprise you to know it wasn't just about healthcare (though I really think the bill should be thrown out.) Right now there are multiple Congressmen and Senators on record saying they will vote for the bill even if it will cause them to lose their seats. They know their constituents, the people who sent them to Washington, are against what they are doing. And they are completely willing to disregard them. When you have a political class that feels they have no responsibility to represent the wishes of their district or state, you no longer have a representative Republic.

You may think this is fine because you're in favor of healthcare reform. But take a few steps back and see where this leads. Next time, they might just completely disregard you on an issue about which you feel strongly be it abortion, immigration or anything else. Do you really want elected officials who will knowingly vote the exact opposite of their constituents' desires just to pull the party line?

I don't.

So that's why we all went to the rally. Granted, some of the family members were a bit more engaged than others. Eion wanted to take pictures the whole time (god bless digital cameras) and it was interesting to see his perspective of: his sister,

my arse, [Actually there were tons of arse pics, mine and others. Might explain why he is such an irritable guy, having to look at bummies all day.]

and many, many shots of the ground,

Morrigan was definitely the most interested though her overall plan was to give Harry Reid a wedgie, which, all things considered, isn't a terrible idea.

Was it worth it? You bet. One of the things that every single one of us should adore about this amazing country in which we live is the fact that we are free to express ourselves. And that we have elected officials who (theoretically) answer to us. Not to mention, the kids had a ball.

Even Tim Thought I Was Busy Sunday

Super Supper Club was Saturday and, though I was having a great time, I vacated with Tim early, to much heckling. But I was well aware of what was in store for me on Sunday. The gym, the kids' tennis lesson and then a Daisy meeting where I would lead these girls:

in craft making. Not my forte but the frames turned out cute.

Then it was off to one of my favorite holiday parties, the ornament exchange! I brought my new camera lens (that I love so much - thank you Timmy!) and said I would try to take some pictures for the hostesses. I was almost a complete failure. I took two.

Good thing I work for free! Maybe next year.

I have spent years trying to bring an ornament that would be "stolen" and desired in the swap. And I have, for years, failed. This year, the rules were changed and we each just took an ornament on the way out. Wouldn't you know it, the Rudolph ornament I brought was fawned over and so many people asked where I bought it. Bad timing I suppose.

Then it was home to prepare for a last minute trip to DC. All the minutia forthcoming (regardless of whether you want it or not) but first it's off to another ornament exchange!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Back in Town

Oh I know I am just a few days behind. We've been in Washington DC the past two days. Promise a full update tomorrow. Much too tired (and behind on laundry) today.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Poker, Interrupted

Last night was our couples poker group's holiday session. Instead of the usual one game with rebuys, we play four rapid fire tournaments. Each couple brings $25, $15, & $10 bottles of wine and a gag gift. First person out gets a gag gift. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place get wine.

In years past, Tim was the main recipient of the gag gifts but this year, Ann took his place and was the proud winner of such delights as Schlitz Malt Liquor.

Which, I must add, she drank like a complete champ!

Tim and I didn't fair too badly and when it was all said and done, had one $25, one $15, and one $10 bottle of wine. But the regrettable part was mid way through tournament number three, I heard my cell phone ring. This, in and of itself, was a minor miracle. Anyone who has tried to call me on it knows I almost NEVER hear it and pick up. Not to mention, the party was a tad, well, rowdy.

But I did hear and and saw it was my home number calling. For the briefest moment, I considered not picking up. My babysitter is an EMS worker, whatever it was, she could handle it for another hour or two. But even I, Katie the Heartless, couldn't handle the level of guilt that would be associated with ignoring an actual emergency and answered the phone. My kids, fine. Babysitter's Mother, broken leg and concussion. So I left Tim and headed, begrudgingly, home. While I absolutely hated leaving, I was pretty happy this morning that I had 7 hours of sleep to Tim's 5. Then again, he is napping now and I have all the kids. Shafted again.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Just Call Me Scrooge

So I think it is no secret that I love the holidays. While overall Halloween may win out as my favorite, Christmas is a VERY close second. And I am all about the traditions. I am half Dutch, Dad being from the old country, and we always celebrated St. Nicholas. On the night of December 5th, you set out your shoes (and when I was growing up, we had wooden shoes just for the occasion) and in the morning there were treats waiting for you! Unless of course you were bad and then you were kidnapped by Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) and taken to Spain. [Here we will pause in the narrative to allow you to enjoy David Sedaris' take on Dutch Christmas. It is too funny, I couldn't resist.]

Naturally, we've carried this tradition over to our children, though we are lacking proper wooden shoes. (A little help here Oma & Opa?) The kids love it and it reminds me of my childhood. Perfect. We were out on December 5th and the kids, under the supervision of the babysitter, set out shoes for the whole family even though they were worried about Daddy because he "isn't Dutch at all and we think St. Nicholas knows." And the next morning they were delighted with their teaser for Christmas.

Which brings me to the Scrooge part of this post. I adore family holiday traditions. I detest the commercialized, homogenized "new and wildly popular" pseudo traditions.

Morrigan came home from school and wanted to set out crackers and a glass of water for the elves. Apparently, one of her classmate's parents said this is a snack for elves and if you leave it, they visit. And then the parents, nightly, disrupt something in the house (organization of toys, a mess in the kitchen, you get the idea) and say the elves did it. Ummm, not a freaking chance. The very last thing I need at this time of year is to have to remember to create a mess, nightly, which I will have the pleasure of cleaning up the next day. I told the children that Santa didn't need an intermediary here. I talk to him directly.

I also am generally anti Elf on the Shelf, an American tradition since 2005! If you have managed to escape this treat, it is a book and elf doll (that retail for $39.95) which tells the story of an elf looking in on kids for Santa. You move the elf doll nightly and the kiddos have to find him. He is apparently Santa's spy. I just tell my kids Santa doesn't need a spy at our house because 1) as we already covered, Santa speaks to me directly and 2) I don't give a rat's arse what Santa gives you - if you misbehave, Mommy will take it away.

Now for all those shelf elf fans, before you get all bent, if it works for you, terrific. But for my taste, it is a bit contrived and commercial. I prefer traditions that develop organically. That being said, it seems to have raked in the bucks for the book's author. Hmmmm.....coming soon to a bookseller near you: Dutch Like Me - The Story of St. Nicholas and his Trusty Sidekick Zwarte Piet! (comes complete with one pair of wooden shoes.) Only $44.95! Additional shoes sold separately.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My Career in Video

So today I came to the conclusion that I am possibly the world's worst videographer. I forgot to send my mother in law a birthday card (birthday is tomorrow - I didn't forget the birthday, just the card) so I thought I would post on youtube a video of the kids singing happy birthday. After I fire that up, I start poking around on the computer through the many, many unedited hours of Big Top video. And I was enthralled. There was video I don't even remember taking. Like the girls at the hospital the day Eion was born.

I so very much enjoyed this trip down memory lane that I thought, what else lurks in the camera currently? What I found was bits and pieces of all manner of school plays, dances and the like, NONE of which seem to be complete. Seems I have a habit of rewinding, watching part of a video and then just starting on something new. Granted, I am only taping every few months, so you can see how one would forget, but how do I explain that I have Morrigan's dance recital (well most of it anyway) but not Maggie's?

But what I do have in its entirety is Maggie's Veteran's Day performance, during which she was almost constantly picking her nose. Well thank god I didn't tape over that. But I am turning over a new leaf today (or really tomorrow since I am unlikely to record any video tonight.) No more rewinding. And hopefully I will upload more than once every few years. I will console myself with the idea that the kids will be happy with the video they do have, right?

Monday, December 07, 2009

My Spoiled Children

Maggie went to a birthday party yesterday at Build a Bear where she got a new bear and cake. Do you think she was happy? No. She came home and burst into tears because she found out her siblings had McDonald's for lunch. I sent that spoiled child to her room where she fell asleep. Luckily, that seemed to fix everything and she emerged much less sassy.

Sweater Party Continued

I forgot to add that as I walked out in my large, tacky sweater, the girls squealed, "Oooh! Are you going to the beautiful sweater party tonight?" Love the perspective.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Holiday Party Season Begins!

Now I know Fraught mentioned her irritation with the people who complain about busy social calendars in December but let me tell you, I am not one of those people AT ALL. I love having lots to do! Friday night Tim and I went to the Junior League Christmas party. After eight years in the League, we knew lots of people there and it was a great chance to catch up.

Though our age is showing. Tim commented on how young the Provisionals and their dates looked and in a very Dad-like way, how their skirts were much too short. I just know that running into one of our former babysitters who is now old enough to be in the League made me feel very, very old. At least the fact that our kids were now in elementary school made her feel old. Hah!

Saturday we went to a surprise 50th birthday party for our friend Rob. As much as I don't care to be surprised, I love surprise parties.

His wife kept it under wraps and he looked genuinely shocked and pleased. I took the chance to use my new camera lens and designated myself the party photographer. It was great because it gave me a chance to talk to almost everyone there.

We were home fairly early since Tim was working on Sunday but it was an awesome party!

Brunch With Santa

We woke up Saturday to gentle snow falling, much to the delight of my children. They set out immediately to play in it. We were a bit worried that the slick roads would keep us from the Club for brunch with Santa but further down the mountain, roads were much more clear.

Eion was not interested in the tie I picked out but was willing to wear a different one. Fine with me! He also was willing to pose with Santa which was the first time in years I got my photo op. The last time might have been when he was a baby and couldn't escape.

He didn't want to talk to Santa but was smart enough to realize that you had to meet the big guy in order to get the bags of candy he was handing out. Morrigan, on the other hand, had an extended conversation about the many many things on her list.

They had a clown (the puppeteer of years past has apparently retired) who made balloon animals and much to Eion's delight, balloon swords. What followed was an epic battle in dining room.

Maggie and Morrigan both took turns playing on the piano without prompting. There is a distinct chance they were just trying to outdo each other.

I keep thinking each year that this is our last at the party. Sooner or later, one of the kids is going to decide they are too old for all this Santa stuff. But for now, they all believe (or pretend to believe) and we had a great family morning.