Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Adventures in Kick Ass Parenting - Tuesday Edition

So I'm cooking dinner and enjoying some relative peace this evening. When I'm done, I call the kids to the table and notice that something is amiss. No Eion. Now his failure to respond to the dinner call is generally to be expected since he "hates dinner," but I became a bit troubled when we couldn't find him anywhere, inside or out. One of the girls suggested he might be across the street. A quick phone call confirmed, yes, he was there and apparently  had been for quite some time. Not that we noticed.

And then there's Maggie, who met her violin teacher today and came into possession of her new (rented) violin.

Which she has been "playing" all afternoon. No, she hasn't had a lesson yet, she's just free styling. At least now it is after 5pm and happy hour is on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Did I Mention....

how completely psyched I am that I negotiated a pay for no birthday party deal with the girls? I only bring it up because we were at one this afternoon that was hard to top. 

We're talking waterslides and, more importantly, a petting zoo. There were rabbits, goats, ponies, llamas (or maybe alpacas?), guinea pigs, chickens and ducks. The kids were all over it. They loved petting and feeding the animals with the rabbits being especially popular, particularly when one got loose and they all tried to catch it.

Good news for moi, siblings were welcome so I was able to take the whole crew. The extensive bunny holding and petting did lead to more than one child begging for bunnies of their own. You know that is not happening around here. I did say maybe we could rent a goat to clear the field behind us but you would be surprised at the scarcity of goat rentals in this town.

Even after a full 2 1/2 hours + the kids were in near tears when we had to leave - though that might have been sugar overload. Good news was we had the Jeep so I just turned up the radio and we sang our way home.

And I have to give a shout out to the traveling petting zoo owner. If I were having a birthday party anytime soon, I would totally hire him. He told me he lost his job and decided to start his own business and based on the overwhelmingly positive response I saw this afternoon, I think he has an amazing service to offer. If you want more info, his name is Coy Shupe Jr. and his website is www.travelingpettingzoova.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lucky, Lucky Timmy

The timing for Tim couldn't have been better. Just the day before we left for the beach, our recent family pictures came in the mail. And thus, he was spared the annual beach photo session that, in spite of high hopes each and every year, is generally a disaster and garners no Christmas card worthy pictures anyway. Just consider it an early Christmas (or late anniversary) gift baby.

[Pictures courtesy of Candace Lucas]

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Beach

You know, I took a laptop and a cable for the camera with every intention of regaling you with our days at the beach. Said laptop instead gathered dust. Fortunately, I did make use of the camera.

We (ourselves, Melanie, Jerry and all the kids) arrived at Hatteras Island after a 7 1/2 hour drive. Our house was not quite ready so we settled into the pier and promptly purchased some much needed adult beverages.

Luckily for us, the house was ready within an hour and we were able to start our week. When it comes to regaling, our week was blissfully boring. Lots of beach time:

Lots of pool time:

Minimal hot tub time as it developed a funk after a day or so:

And great big bunches of downtime. We did get out to see what I think is the only local sight, a lighthouse, and climbed all 250ish vertigo inducing stairs.

The kids were much more impressed with the souvenir shop than the attraction itself. Oh, and E got a new hat. Kindergarten picture, here we come!

Naturally, there was additional souvenir shopping as well adding to our family treasures a ring, some "fancy soap" and an eyepatch. Maybe I can get him to wear both for that picture...

As for the adults, we did some hard-core relaxing. Lots of grilling of fresh fish. Lots of hanging out. Mel & Tim ran most days while Jerry & I chose to have a few pops and justify our inactivity by calling this a week to "give our muscles a rest." Really, it's necessary! 

Sadly, we came home today to face reality with a mountain of laundry, piles of emails, all seemingly about school starting, and some attention-starved cats. Can't wait for next year's trip....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Serenity Now

Breathe in, breathe out. Envision your family at the beach. Try not to kill anyone before you get there.

We are T minus one day and counting to beach week at Hatteras with Jerry, Melanie et al. I managed to stave off packing until today when the kids finally wore me down. So I gave them what I found to be a manageable chore: pack your backpack. Minutes later, all three packs were stuffed with...

Morrigan: a dozen books, just as many stuffed animals, her wand from camp, a quill, and her charm bracelet

Maggie: six books, countless stuffed animals, her dsi

Eion: dsi, leather bomber jacket, whip, fedora, satchel

Clearly, we're going to have to repack these.

Then I told them they could have a plastic container with some toys for play after the beach or in case of rainy days. E decided to forgo the container and just handed me a full compliment of swords. The girls, on the other hand, spent an agonizingly long time selecting all manner of Littlest Pet Shop toys and accessories, one by one. Yeah, none of those are going to get lost.

Personally, I decided it was time to try out those pineapple martinis.

An Open Letter To Blue Ridge Outdoors

To the staff and writers at Blue Ridge Outdoors:

In your recent article Tick Check, you wrote: "When it comes to ticks and my privates, I take a homophobic Republican approach: 'don't ask, don't tell,' " As a registered Republican, staunch Conservative and someone who voted against Virginia's gay marriage ban, I have to say your exceptionally judgemental and closed-minded statement is terribly offensive. In the future, you may want to consider refraining from stereotyping all members of a race, ideology or political affiliation with one broad stroke.

And as an aside, the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was instituted by none other than William Jefferson Clinton, a Democrat. I guess by your reasoning he's also a homophobe.

Hugs and kisses, Katie

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Called Karma Son

So in spite of the "no water guns" policy of the pool, kids have been bending the rule all summer bringing long, cylindrical water shooting devices that, while not gun shaped, meet with the same general result. As long as they are not pointed at me, I have no problem with them. Eion, wanting his own (last summer's has been long lost,) was badgering me to go to the store and purchase him one. Seeing as we had no fewer than a dozen water guns in the garage, I made the executive decision that if kids were going to wantonly bend this particular rule, I was ok with downright breaking it. Each child loaded up with two guns apiece and we were off.

Between their guns, other guns (I am apparently not the only one breaking the rules,) and the foam water shooters, a battle of epic proportions broke out. From my shaded, lounging perspective, it seemed to be going fairly well.

Round about 20 minutes later, a boy we know came over and informed me that Morrigan would not share with him or one other boy. What made her actions even more egregious was the fact that she would share with other kids. He then looked at me in a somewhat expectant manner, having pulled the she's-not-wiling-to-share card and waited smugly to be awarded his prize.

Now here is where I had a dilemma. For most kids, I would have agreed that she should share and told her to give up one gun. Ah but this boy and his friend were special. One had mercilessly picked on Morrigan throughout the year in Chess Club (saw it firsthand.) The other was so cruel to her at swim practice this summer that his own sibling intervened and told their Mother that she needed to stop him from being so ugly towards Morrigan. Hmmm. Yeah boys, you've got nothing coming from me.

So I told him it was her decision with whom she wanted to share. He looked at me as if I said the world was flat and reminded me that she was sharing with other kids and NOT HIM. Yeah, I told him, that's really a bummer. He stood, looking incredulous, for a few moments before giving up in utter disbelief that a grown up could possibly act so irrationally.

I'm not normally in the business of fighting my kids' battles but I thought here that this was a nice taste of karma for them. Morrigan had not asked for assistance, she had merely doled out her own brand of justice for their repeated misdeeds. I sure as hell wasn't going to punish her for it.

Monday, August 09, 2010


Morrigan is back home after finishing up he week at camp, albeit in a slightly limited capacity. They said they came up with special jobs for her when the physical activity was strenuous. I am 100% certain she didn't mind. As we know, she is kind of an indoor girl.

Maggie is thrilled to have her playmate back. I think she may have missed Morrigan more than anyone else. And now that she has her back, all she wants to do is play (indoors, of course.) Seriously, I can't get them to leave the house. I've restricted tv, computers and all electronics but still they want to hang around here.

Yesterday, we decided they could live like shut ins until they started to fight. Darned if they weren't good and self entertaining all day. I may never leave again.

Fortunately, we had a birthday party to attend on Friday at Valhalla Vineyards and friends coming over for Tim's barbecue on Saturday so I didn't have to go postal on anyone.

But I was getting stir crazy yesterday. I cleaned, did laundry, read, ironed, gardened and ventured into nature photography.

But today Tim goes back to work and I NEED to get out of this house. Sorry kids, no matter how well behaved you've been, we're getting out today.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Like a Ballerina

Life is indeed keeping me on my toes. Last night I was happily watching The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, excellent movie by the way, when the phone rings at 10pm. Now, I don't tend to answer the phone for unknown numbers during the day and I sure as hell don't at night. I figure if it is important, they'll leave a message. I figured wrong as it was camp calling. They didn't leave a message but then called Tim's cell letting him know that Morrigan had accidentally stabbed herself with her wand and was in need of stitches.

As Tim was already conveniently located in the ER, I had two choices: 1) send an ambulance for Morrigan or 2) wake up the other minions and go and get her. I thought the EMS was overkill and woke Maggie & E. Poor E was so tired that every time I set him down he tried to crawl back in bed. But we made it to "Hogwarts," which was fortunately only about 15 minutes away. Morrigan was crying and terrified that she would need a shot. Not knowing what would happen, I generically tried to reassure her.

When we arrived at the ER, I was thrilled to see our babysitter from a few years back, Arlene, (she left us when she had grand kids. Traitor.) who immediately got us settled and found Tim. Even better than Tim being there, Melanie was the Peds ER doc for the night.

And they were able to stitch her up using numbing medicine that did not require a shot. She was a pretty happy patient. Mel told me she had some students observing the procedure who she overheard later saying, "Can you believe that kid is eight? She is so smart!" Well, not smart enough not to stab herself...

I kept her home from camp today to see how things would go. While she can't swim and is in some pain, she desperately wanted to go back.

So after dinner we took her back to camp. What is the most amazing thing here for me is that our first ER visit since we had kids is for Morrigan. I mean, Eion I could see. At least she is taking it in stride. Her commentary as we left the ER was, "Now I have a scar like Mommy." Yes indeed.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

God Bless Photoshop

I was looking through the pictures from our family photo shoot and quickly had a favorite group shot only to look closely and see that a mosquito was biting Tim's right cheek.

Seriously, what are the odds? I don't know, considering I have about a bazillion bites on my legs from that morning, maybe they are pretty good! After I overcame Tim's assertions that it should be our Christmas card as is, that would be very funny, right, I called the photographer who assured me it could be photoshopped out.

Et voila...

Tim had the silly idea that this picture, secured as a holiday card, would release him from the annual beach photo shoot. Now that's funny!

Loved our photographer (who was also Eion's preschool teacher!) especially since she gave me copies of before and after. If you're local, her name is Candace Lucas and her site is www.candacephoto.jalbum.net.

PS The resolution on the web is making the boys' suits look funky! In real life they are seersucker rather than psychedelic.

You Will Swim and You'll Be Happy Damn It

So it's about 2pm and Maggie and Eion seem to want to settle in to an afternoon of tv. While I was happy to let them watch a show while I ordered pictures from the family photo session last week, it was way too early to give in to the electronics, even if Tim was working. I suggested the pool. Would have thought I said "how's about we eat liver and onions?" But when faced with the option of a tv, dsi and computer free afternoon, they came around quite nicely and bent to my will. Jeesh. I shouldn't have to browbeat my kids to go to the pool.

Now you know once they were there they had a ball and resisted all efforts to later extract them as we approached closing time and had passed bedtime.

E was in form flirting with the lifeguards and chatting up other parents. He told our friend Pete, "This year, I'm going to kindergarten and you know what comes after that, college. But I'm not going to college. I'm going to be a lifeguard." Maggie was alarmed that he would consider skipping higher education. I told her it was ok. If he didn't use his college savings, we could pay for her Vet training. That was about all it took for her to be at peace with his decision.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A Village Indeed

I think it was Hillary Clinton who coined the "it takes a village" thing in terms of child rearing and certainly it is the case when it comes to the boy. But before we get there, let's start with Sunday morning....

At 10am sharp (or 10 minutes early, do hate to be late) we arrived to drop Morrigan off at Hogwarts Camp, where she will spend the next week engrossed in wands, wizardry and Harry Potter lore. Now, I don't want to come off as too judgemental here so it is very important that you realize that I wear the title Her Highness Queen of the Nerds with great and unabashed pride when I say that the  vast majority of attendees and counsellors appear to be mega nerds or, you might say, my subjects. The kids in line debated the pros and cons of the different houses. The "wizard teachers" played with juggling sticks. I can't be sure, but if it were 15 odd years ago, the lot of them would have been selling grilled cheese in the parking lot of a Dead show. The comforting fact about the whole scene was that Morrigan was in her element. She is going to have a kick ass week.

Later in the day I was scheduled to attend  baby shower. Tim was working and my babysitter had cancelled. I called every teenager I could think of and couldn't find a replacement. [By the by, if you are a reader and parent of local teenagers I don't employ, you should really have them give me a call.] The hostesses of the shower ever so graciously, and bravely I might add, said I could bring Maggie and E and park them in the basement.

Did I mention brave? But to the surprise of the entire Valley, they stayed in the basement and caused zero problems. Several attendees remarked they forgot they were even there. Thank heaven for small miracles.

So that was part one of my village for the day. When we returned home, I realized that I could simply no longer put off weeding. For weeks (months?) I had been slacking with the excuse that it was simply too hot. With the weekend cold wave, I had to admit the only thing keeping me from the yard was sheer laziness. As I pulled the prehistoric size weeds (bonus of living on a cul de sac, not many people drive by to see the embarrassing nature of your flower beds) I heard Eion at the neighbors yelling, "I know you're in there! Let me in!" I hollered up that if they weren't answering, they were most likely otherwise engaged. But he was relentless, and, like a member of Future Stalkers of America, kept banging on the door until they relented. Thanks village part two. (Jen did tell me later their bell is not working so they didn't know he was out there at first.)

No surprise he was going to camp today! Maggie and I had a girls day, meeting up with Melanie to get pedicures and then eating lunch out. She was a doll all day. And it was so sweet that she told me that she really missed Morrigan and was so lonely without her. In an either awesome or sad way, I don't think she misses us one bit.