Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Golden Girl

Just in case any of the rest of you haven't noticed, it is almost JULY! While we did front load a bit with camps, the summer is passing at a completely unbelievable rate.

Tim's parents came to visit last week and were looking at a lake place. No amount of wine or iron clad logic, like you will get to see us all the time, seemed enough. Sadly, it was not the right fit. But we were happy for the unexpected visit.

They got to spend some time with E while the girls were at camp. The perfect storm of increased verbal skills and no competition for airtime meant they got to have a lot of conversation as well. They were pretty sure that over those days they heard him speak more than they had in the previous five years combined. It appears all those years of sullen silence were actually spent hoarding discussion, or lecture, topics.

The girls came home from camp on Saturday and got some grandparent time too. By all reports, camp was a bang up success. Maggie, in spite of being the youngest at camp, was the only one not homesick in her tent. The counsellors said they were "good sisters" - able to be at activities together without fighting but able to operate independently as well. I was told that my letters lacked originality, all saying we were playing tennis and going to the pool. My assertion that it was the truth was met with scepticism. Well written lies, we have learned, are preferable. Maggie also said she answered all my questions:

Maggie: Yes. Yes. Swimming. A little bit. No.

Glad we cleared that up. They had a ball and didn't stop talking about it for days. Literally. E's run as master of the house and conversation were through.

Last night was Swim Meet Monday. Seeing as we hadn't been to a practice all week, we were not expecting great things.

Morrigan was determined to make silver times. She didn't. I tried to (gently) tell her that the only way to improve was to work at it, not just wish for it to be. She glared at me and stalked off muttering something along the lines of "stupid bronze times."

And what really didn't make her feel better was her little sister swimming the 25M backstroke to a gold time. 4th place gold, but gold none the less. A family first. Maggie was very excited but I will give her absolute props for showing restraint and not celebrating too much in front of her sister. Her coach is already plotting how Maggie can join the other gold swimmers and sweep the category at City-County in July.

Morrigan is at horseback riding camp this week. It is far, far away and generally a pain in the ass but this one week in the summer is my concession since we are too cheap for riding lessons year-round. After that, we have an absolute dearth of camps which suits me just fine.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mail Call

Bound to Happen Eventually

Unprecedented good behavior can't go on forever. It was just a matter of time. When I picked up Eion at camp yesterday, the tennis pro told me that they had a small problem with E repeatedly pulling down his pants in the golf shop. When I questioned him as to why on earth he would do this, he told me "Hayden told me to" as if this was iron clad logic. We're hoping today is a better day.

By all accounts, the girls are having fun at camp. The pictures online have them looking happy. We received letters from them both. Mags' was short but sweet, signed with "XOXO."

Morrigan told us what she was doing and then added that her sister was not homesick. While I am thrilled they are having a good time, I kind of hope they don't have so much fun that they want to go for three weeks next year!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm Feeling Naked

As I am sure is apparent to anyone who knows me, I am a bit of a shutterbug. And today, I had to send my beloved Canon 20D, which has served me well for almost six years now, in for service. The focus seems off and I kept ending up with out of focus pics. In spite of Tim's suggestion that it might be operator error, I sent it in for servicing. I feel a little lost without it, like a kid without her lovey. Here's to hoping it is back soon.

Eion is thoroughly enjoying his stint as an only child. He came bounding into our room this morning at 7:30 looking as happy as a little boy can get. When I mentioned it to him, he said "There are no sisters!"

Our day was pretty unremarkable with visits to the gym, hairdresser and the grocery store. But he was happy to have my undivided attention and drive around in the Jeep.

We went with Melanie and her boys to see Toy Story 3 in 3D. John-Paul and E both loved it and kept standing up to reach out to the screen.

On the whole, it has been one of the easiest days ever. Parenting just one kid is so easy it is a joke. But it's all perspective, isn't it? As we dropped off at camp, a friend of mine was dropping off 2 of her 5 kids. She was excited because she would "only" have three. Relative or not, I'll enjoy my easy week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Camper Girls

So after months of anticipation, the big day is here: sleep away camp! We've been packing all week and as of bedtime last night, were ready to go. The girls lay in bed squealing over and over "I can't wait!" whereas Eion surveyed the situation and declared, "I'm going to rule the house!" Everyone was excited. Save Tim that is, who, roundabout camp time, gets melancholy about his little girls growing up and leaving him. This year even I was the tiniest bit apprehensive about leaving Maggie (knew from last year Morrigan would be just fine) causing Tim to snort, "Well at least we know you have a heart in there." I do indeed Timmy. It may be cold as ice, but it exists.

Tim had to work so I drove the girls to West Virginia alone. Before our departure, they gave him their home made father's day cards. Maggie's was priceless:

Dear Dad, I was gone most of father's day but I still felt you were the most specialest dad in the world. And by the way, happy father's day! Love, Maggie

The front had a picture of her giving Tim a golf club. When he asked if she really bought him a club, she told him, "No. Just this card." I think he was misty-eyed.

The girls had been badgering me since they got up at 6:30 to leave. Finally, 11:30 rolled around and we made our way to Camp Alleghany. As we were passing through Daleville, we had to stop at Blue Collar Joe's for one of their Divine donuts.

Personally, I had the chocolate cake donut frosted with chocolate and sprinkled with crushed Reese's Pieces. Mmmmm.

From there it was about an hour and 45 minutes to camp. Along the way, Eion said how he was going to miss Maggie. Coming from the cold as ice genetic line, she let him know, "I'm not going to miss you a smidge." "Well I will miss you." Eion, in a surprisingly sweet moment replied. Mags added for emphasis, "Not a smidge." Hopefully, ruling the house will make up for the slight. Our arrival was a wee bit early but since I had to unload all the gear alone, that was fine by me.

As we waited for the ferry across, Maggie said her "tummy was all full of butterflies." Again with some uncharacteristic sweetness, Morrigan wrapped her arm around Mags and told her that she would take great care of her and there was no reason to be nervous.

Morrigan, on the other hand, was not nervous at all. She excitedly went up to all the counsellors she knew from last year and hugged them saying how she felt like she was coming home. Funny. I get that feeling when I check into a Vegas hotel.

Any lingering nervousness passed quickly as the girls were at the head of the first barge across and were the first off. We went and met their tent counsellors and got settled. Maggie was excited to get the first pick of cots declaring hers "the special one."

Morrigan acted like an old pro and was waving me off almost immediately. As Eion and I walked away, I did feel a little sad. I'm absolutely sure they will have an excellent time. But they certainly didn't need me. And I get this feeling they will leave me for three weeks next year. And then they'll go away to college. And then get married! But maybe I am getting just a little bit ahead of myself.

E is already maximizing his time as an only child. We stopped for McDonald's on the way back to the highway and as we started up the truck, Kickstart My Heart came on the radio. He held his coke up in the air and shouted, "Turn it up Mommy! It's just you and me. Let's party!"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Point of View

So you always wonder about what your kids say when they are out in the world without you. The other day, I got to find out. When we were at the lake, another family was there and the Mom is the nurse at Morrigan's school. She told me all about Morrigan's one visit to the infirmary during which she must have spent the entire visit talking since she covered such a wide range of topics. Among which was how she lectured the nurse about how calories were nothing of which to be afraid and you should just eat when you are hungry.

She continued on about how she really wanted to build up her muscles but was at a genetic disadvantage since she had long appendages. Using those words. Short people like Mommy, she added, could add muscle much easier.

Now, these are all topics we have discussed and I think she's right on all points. I know where she got these ideas. But I had no clue that she had internalized them so well. What I know for sure is my girl thinks calorie counting is a joke (I agree) and wants to have bigger muscles (so do I.) And it made me happy.

You'll Find Him in the Club

So I didn't really plan my camp situation very well. First week out of school and Maggie & E are in sports camp. Next week, the girls are at sleep away camp. When they get home, Morrigan is at horseback riding camp. Then I've got nothing. For the rest of the Summer. Might have to fix that.

That being said, the Summer is going swimmingly so far. Maggie & Eion are at the RCC lifetime sports camp all week. They play tennis, golf and go swimming. And they LOVE it. Especially Eion. The first day, it was thundering and pouring down rain so I knew they couldn't be swimming. I arrived all of 15 minutes early to pick them up and E lost it entirely. He just didn't want to leave. Since then we've had better weather and have stayed after camp for swim team. By the time it is all said and done, he is rocking about 9 hours at the Club a day. And he only leaves voluntarily under the promise of a coke (leftover from the party) at home.

We've decided to send him next week as well. I don't think there is a kid who wants to go more. With the girls away for the week and E at camp all day, I'm not sure what I am going to do with myself.

Morrigan has been enjoying her solo time with Tim & me. We've been packing for camp next week and making $300 Target runs to get all the necessary supplies. She & I also went to the cheap Asian nail salon for pedicures. She was a stitch letting out huge sighs and saying, "Now this is living!" Some of the best $40 ever spent.

If Summer keeps up like this, it will be the best one ever!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Swim Meet Monday

You know what I am really beginning to love? Summer swim team. Being a low on the athletic side family (Tim excluded,) Winter swim team was tough. Not a whole lot of success and a fair bit of heartache. But Summer league is a whole other story. Both girls are meeting with success and feel like they are contributing to the team as a whole.

Tonight Maggie placed 4th silver in the 25 Free. She was DQed in the breaststroke but she almost made it. Morrigan was 1st bronze for the 50 Free and 3rd bronze for the 25 breaststroke. We're (clearly) not headed for the Olympics but the gals feel good about themselves and their part in a larger group.

And I love the atmosphere. Maybe I just have my swim team groove down as last year I had no earthly idea what I was doing. Or maybe it was that we were swimming against Hidden Valley CC and I may have known as many people there as I do at my own Club. But while each team may want to win, they are all cheering for each other - parents and kids. It could be that "it takes a village" feeling that comes from picking up Ann's kids when she got delayed at work only to be repaid immediately when she took an overtired Maggie home early for me. It's just fun. Almost makes me want to start swimming. Well, maybe not that much fun. I think I'll stick to pictures.

And in the ever shocking developments category, the boy was awesome, again. I was timing and Tim was at work so after we got there, the wee ones were all on their own. I didn't see E all night. He just happily played with other kids and endeavored to step on all the ants he could find. It was a good night.

Summer is Here!

The list of things I should be doing besides blogging is infinite: clean my train wreck of a house, do mountains of laundry, get ready for the swim meet, bring all the things moved into the garage for the party back in so I don't have to park outside, get food for my completely empty fridge, you get the point. But I will leave all those things for later and instead catch up on the last week!

The kids' last day of school was Thursday. I taunted them saying they would have to go to summer school, but they would have none of it, insisting that "Straight A students don't have to go to summer school!" True to their word, they brought home all A's. And the E has been given the official go ahead for Kindergarten. We all know I was sending him either way, but it is nice to start out in a non-adversarial situation.

We celebrated with our first potato harvest:

In the end digging up about a dozen potatoes that became excellent homemade chips.

We were hosting our Cocktail Club on Saturday, so Friday was largely spent getting supplies and fixing all those little things you leave around the house until you're having guests. But we took a break that night and played tennis with 3 other couples. After we finished, we sat around chatting and drinking beers and discussing the group of seasoned citizens who used to gather there every Friday night. They had a standing court time for years and as their health started to fail, they continued to gather for cocktails every Friday at the tennis shop. We are suspicious that many of them can no longer drive since they stopped the weekly tradition recently. At that point, George remarked, "Since we're out here on Friday, with drinks, did we just become the old people?" I'm not ready to give up the tennis part just yet but the idea of starting a tradition like theirs sounds just fine to me.

Saturday was party prep all day long. Amy was kind enough to get Maggie around 1pm, just before all hell, weather wise, broke loose. As the wind blew and rain poured, we crossed our fingers that this would take care of the 60% chance of rain so our party could be out on our large and flower filled deck. The worst of it blew over but intermittent rain persisted so we set up for an inside party.

Around three, I went out for flowers only to find this blocking our road and the only access to and from the house.

And it was hanging from a power line. F dash dash dash.

Back home, where I immediately commenced to calling the power company and any local officials available on a Saturday. I found out, after a myriad of voice mails, that when you have a tree down, you call the police, who, as it turns out, were thoroughly unimpressed with my predicament.

Me: There is a tree that is blocking the only way in our out of our cul-de-sac. It is hanging from a power line.
Five 0: But you have power?
Me: Well, yes but I have 60 people coming over in a few hours. This is an emergency.
Five 0: Are there any sparks or fire?
Me: No, but no one can get here. This is important.
Five 0: Uh, Ma'am, we have several reports of electrified fences and fires. We have to tend to those first.
Me: Can you at least put me at the top of the list after the fires?

It didn't go well and I was left with the distinct impression that they did not at all have the level of concern they should about my social engagements.

Enter a phone call from my [completely awesome, party saving] neighbor, Tyler. I told him I thought there was no way it was getting cleared and we were screwed. To which he calmly replied, "I have a saw, let's check it out." Which we did, in the rain. And he risked life, limb and electrocution but cleared a pass-through large enough for a Suburban. With no injury, I might add. Tyler is our hero!

Continued showers did keep us largely inside, but the party was a go! At that point, I was so happy we didn't have to cancel that inside was just fine. The party was great (if I do say so myself) and we had an excellent time.

The next morning it was off to the lake for E's friend Lennon's birthday party. In another one of those, "how can my life possibly get any better?" moments, my kids were all largely self entertaining and happy, leaving me to mix and extra large mimosa and snap away.

Yes, that is the same dress as the night before. It was 90 fraking degrees. I saw no reason to bother with a clean one. It's all a part of the Summer bathing schedule.

Eion and Lennon got along well, other than when he was calling him Lemon. I think he actually knows this is wrong but he likes the name. Didn't cause too many rifts.

A family we recently met at the Club was there and Maggie became fast friends with Libby. I overheard them discussing how they could be "friends at the lake and at the pool." Too sweet.

At a certain point, it was clear the late night Saturday and six hours logged at the lake was about to break my children so we had to pack it in. Home to rest? Not just yet. It was swim team picture day! Finally, after a great day, we made it back home. And better yet, were joined by Ann & Hans to help work on what's left of the keg. Still haven't kicked it. Thirsty?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

First Swim Meet of Summer

We had our first swim meet of the Summer this week. Both girls are are on the older side for their age groups so I have high hopes that it will be a good year!

The meet was at home, which just makes it easier - at least for me. And there is always a pizza and ice cream party following the home meets that is highly anticipated by the girls. Morrigan, in spite of illness, decided to swim.

She swam the 25 back and free in which she placed 7th and 3rd bronze respectively. Considering she hadn't practiced in months and was sick, not a terrible showing.

Maggie swam the 25 butterfly and free and placed 1st bronze and 2nd silver respectively. Only 4 girls in the 6 and under group completed a legal butterfly so I was super proud that she was one of them. And her time for freestyle is a personal best. She was a riot sizing up her competition. She looked at the younger girls in the group and stated decisively, "I can beat all those girls but I don't think I can beat the Jones." [Referring to the daughter of what could be considered a swimming dynasty.] I told her there was no shame in placing 2nd to a Jones.

Eion isn't ready for swim team yet (but we are working on it.) I was working as a timer for the meet so he was largely left to his own devices.

Shocking everyone, he was really well behaved. I almost let him get ice cream until Maggie, who, as a non swimmer, was shut out of all the ice cream parties last year, reminded me only swimmers get ice cream. Sorry E.

The girls are getting a little competitive. Morrigan took it upon herself to tell Maggie, "You know the only reason you placed in butterfly was the other girls were DQed." To which Maggie, without missing a beat, called a scoreboard on her sister and sweetly asked, "I know I got 14 points for the team. How many did Morrigan get?" She knew damn well it was fewer. Battle on girls....

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Field Day and Poetry

In the never ending year end activities that require me to go to my children's schools, yesterday was Field Day at Morrigan's school. I was, based on my jump rope-a-thon at the Jump Rope for Heart event, placed again at the jump rope station. I was greeted by class after class with cries of "She's back!" and "I'm going to beat you this time!" I accepted all challengers and remained the undisputed Rope Queen.

I had missed Morrigan's class so I met up with them at the tug of war venue.

I mostly observed but did get in the fray once when the PE teacher joined the boys on the boys vs. girls tug. In spite of my efforts, the girls lost that one. But it made Morrigan happy and that was the whole reason I was there.

And making her happy was the reason I was there this morning as well. It was the last poetry reading and she and I were all set to present our (non-rhyming) poems. Naturally, Morrigan volunteered us to go first. I had to be fed one line but I don't think she cared. And I figure that way the pressure was off any other presenting parents since I had broken the ice and screwed up.

I did opt out of all the awards ceremonies. I don't think the kids need me there to document their receipt of perfect attendance awards. Morrigan arrived home after hers grousing that all she got was a "stupid A/B honor roll" award. I certainly don't think my being there would have improved that.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Adventures in Awesome Parenting

So to truly understand how far off the rails today was, you'll first need to be aware of The Plan:

8am - Ship Tim off to work
9-10am - Swim practice
10:30-11:30ish - Gym
noon - Lunch
1pm - Fencing for Morrigan
2:30pm - Back to pool
6:30pm - Home to greet returning Tim

Number of items to plan: 1 1/2

We did see Tim off on time, lunch and coffee in hand. And we did make it to swim practice on time. From there, it was all buffoonery, all the time. Morrigan, who has had a persistent cough we had attributed to allergies, was complaining loudly that she couldn't swim because she couldn't breathe. Naturally, I saw this as an anti swim team ploy and told her to get in there. Fifteen minutes in, her coach, not known as a softie, rumored to have once made her own daughter swim with a broken wrist, took Morrigan out and told me, "She really seems like she can't breathe."

A quick call to the pediatrician and we were off to the Saturday sick patient waiting room. Where we waited for a full hour after our stated appointment time. And after being called back, waited 10 minutes more all the while fearing what nastiness lurked on those counters and chairs. After a quick listen to the lungs, the doc on call declared Morrigan to have walking pneumonia, a diagnosis greeted with jeers of "Daddy missed that!" from the children.

And on to Kroger for the antibiotics which I promptly delivered as written, I quote, "this medication can be taken with or without food." Eager to get on the road to recovery, we went without food but followed soon thereafter with lunch. After cleaning up lunch, I asked them if they wanted to go to the pool figuring Morrigan could sit in the shade with me and read. Hell, she seems to have had this for a month and was exposing the whole world so one more day couldn't hurt, right?

As we prepared to load up in the car, Morrigan, looking a bit squeamish, said "I don't feel so blaaahhhh." [That last part was puke.] Several round of vomit on the garage floor later, we got her inside and on the couch. I went, reluctantly, to clean up the mess only find the cat eating it, which was nasty but completely welcome as well. The less sick I have to mop up, the better.

The next few hours were littered with calls to the (now closed) pediatrician's office, Tim and Melanie for consult as to our next move. In the end, though a prescription for a (hopefully) less stomach upsetting antibiotic waited at the pharmacy, we tried eating and then taking another dose. This, taking me completely by surprise, seemed to work and soon, all the kids wanted to get out of the house. We did get to the pool in the end, though Morrigan mainly sat in the shade with me memorizing the non rhyming poems for Tuesday.

We weren't home to greet Tim either. Plan for tomorrow: shoot, I'm not even going to bother.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Memorial Day Kind of Bit and Beyond

The kick off the season party at the pool is one of my very favorite days. Coupled with the newly heated water and Melanie, Jerry, et al as guests and I was pumped. That is until we met with this:

And when the sun came out, there was frequent thunder, leading to routine pool evacs. The kids actually made the best of it with the girls fawning over Summer and the boys chasing each other. (Note in the background is Tim on his iPad desperately seeking scientific evidence that the pool need not close in case of thunder. To no avail I might add.)

Completely lacking a Plan B, we went with our always fallback plan, beer on the deck. Which was, in the end, a pretty decent play.

Morrigan is off in Baltimore for a three day field trip so I have been enjoying the light kid load. I would miss her more but I know she is having a terrific time. I went in to wake her at 6am on Tuesday and she was already sitting up and started cheering that it was time to start the day. No need to feel bad for her.

Swim team practices (kind of) started. We have been plagued by afternoon thunder and storms. Today we finally got smart and went to the pool right after school so at least the kids could play for a while before the bad weather inevitably hit.

We got lucky and there was no thunder! Maggie swam with the team and Tim and I both complimented her on how polite she was giving the other swimmers space and not passing. "Oh no." she replied, "Parker told me that passing isn't allowed." Hmmmm, sweetie, I think that Parker may just not want to be passed. Can't wait til tomorrow to see her blow by all those boys she was being "polite" to today. If we don't have thunder that is.