Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Under the Weather

Yuck - I have been struggling with a cold for the past few days. That combined with a jam packed weekend has kept me far from the blogosphere lately. But before I was down for the count, we had a weekend with back to back Supper Club and Cocktail Club. Staying out (relatively) late two nights in a row is getting harder and harder as I get older but it was well worth catching up with friends.

The Supper Club theme was Julia Child recipes and it was darn good. Molly's beef bourguignon and Ann's chocolate mousse were the stand outs but as per usual, everything was awesome.

Friday afternoon at swim practice I found out there was a Saturday morning Marlin only meet - a biathlon of sorts in a team building effort. The kids (from 4-18) were divided into two teams and they ran 50 and 100 yard dashes and swam several events.

Maggie had a great time finishing 2nd in her running heats and first in her swimming heats.

And like ying to yang, Morrigan finished dead last in all her events.

The poor thing has aged up and all the events are 50M and above and she is the youngest in the group. I have to convince her not to compete or it will be one long arse year.

Happily for me, all was forgotten when the picnic lunch was served complete with cupcakes and cookies galore. We were supposed to take Maggie to a birthday party but she said her stomach hurt too much to go (see ample treats at lunch) so we skipped that and headed to fencing for Morrigan.

By the time we were done there, I was plenty ready to drop E off at his birthday party and head home for a nap.

But it was not to be as the sweet hostess invited the whole crew to stay. Goodbye nap! Thankfully, there were more treats. My children were well on their way to becoming cupcakes.

By Sunday morning my throat tickle was a full blown cold so harsh it derailed my workout when I got too dizzy to lift. But on the plus side, for the first time in about 9 years, I was able to lay in bed all day and nurse my sickness. I told the kids to have their way with the tv and I was going to nap. And they did, and I did, all afternoon. It was lovely and unexpected. To top it off, it poured rain all day long so I didn't even have to look out at a sunny day and feel guilty about my kids (and me) being inside all day. Not to mention, when the week's activities started full steam on Monday, I was really glad for that day of rest.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lucky Number Seven

Sweet Maggie turned seven today. We harassed her all week saying she couldn't get any older and would have to be six again. This resulted in a much too grown up rolling of the eyes each and every time.

Naturally, there were treats for the class. What she really, really wanted was store bought, iced sugar cookies. From Kroger. You mean you are releasing Mommy from any baking obligations? Done and done! She took the leftover cookies (they came in boxes of 10 and we needed 24) and distributed them to her brother's teacher and all of her teachers of years past.

She accepted the same deal as her sister and was bought off in the "$100 if you don't have a party" arrangement. It was beautiful for everyone. She feels rich and I was spared a house of sugared up 7 and 8 year olds or the alternate hell that is the destination birthday event. Though I did hear a rumor she was still trying to solicit gifts from her friends. When questioned about this breach of etiquette, she told me with those wide blue eyes, "Oh no, Friend A asked me if I wanted a gift." Good news is it seems she wasn't very persuasive. No surprise presents.

She did get to choose a present from us. Tim and I were wandering aimlessly at the mall, trying to decide what she would want. Finally, we went with the very practical but underused maneuver of just asking her. The desired gift: fancy Japanese erasers. We made a special trip to the store and she was allowed to pick out three sets. After much deliberation and $17.86 later, we were good.

We don't eat out allot so we thought it might be special to go out to dinner, especially considering how cheaply we were getting off already. The decision was largely driven by Morrigan but Maggie decided in the end we would eat at El Toreo, home of, and I quote, "the awesome Mexican chicken fingers." Mags and E each had soda, we were loose about salt usage, and there were chips. What more can you ask?

Except, that is, to lose a tooth on your birthday! Maggie's tooth has been painfully loose for days - dangling and flapping and looking on the verge of exiting her mouth at any moment. I had a feeling she was "saving" its loss for her birthday and I was right. And she lost it at dinner. There was much rejoicing and speculation about whether or not you get extra tooth fairy money if the tooth is a "birthday" tooth. HA! With my fairy record, she'll be lucky to get anything.

Then home for cake. Maggie was whispering to herself over her candle before blowing it out. Tim said it looked like she was making a wish. "I am." she said. "I wished for the best birthday ever and it already came true."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Family Fun Gone Awry

Ever just get the feeling that the day has gotten away from you and headed down a bad, bad path even though you had very solid plans to make it great? Then you could be me today!

In spite of being out a little late at poker (we did come in first and second!), we were determined to get up and go to yoga and then swim some laps in the pool. There was a bit of arm twisting necessary but we made it to the gym with minimal trauma. Yoga was lovely, in spite of the two late arrivals. Really people, if you are 15 minutes late, you are just too late. You are messing with my zen.

Then we hit the pool. All three kids wanted to join us and were strikingly well behaved. They mostly played in the therapy pool while we swam, though Morrigan also joined in the lap swimming. After two weeks in my adult swim class, it was clear I was going to need some extra practice. New people keep coming, all of whom claim to be self taught and terrible swimmers. And they all continue to swim faster than me. Hence, the Sunday swimming.

So far, so good. We planned to go to the Club pool this afternoon as we just learned it was open weekends in September - love that new heater! But just as we were all suited up and packed to go, I received an email that the pool was closed due to a large, unspecified animal having decided to end its life in said pool. Bring on plan B which, up until that very moment, was not at all defined.

Molly had mentioned that she and the kids went to the Greek Festival the day before so we thought that might be a plan. Now, we don't live in a very big town and if there is some sort of festival, odds are it is at Elmwood Park. So without looking up anything, we charged downtown, complete with E, who refused to change out of his swim attire.

As we walked in, I thought that the Greek Festival really drew a different crowd than I expected - lots of young people and a fair number of adventurous dressers. We seemed to be getting some looks but I didn't get why. The speaker on stage was talking about a local performance of The Wizard of Oz. I didn't see the connection until we rounded the bend and found ourselves awash in rainbows. Alas, it was not the Greek Festival but the Roanoke Pride Festival. We traversed the the main stage area as the emcee called out, "Do we have any gays in the audience? And how about lesbians, and bisexuals, and transgenders?"

I'm a fan of the other team. They make excellent friends, brothers and brother in laws. What I am not a fan of is spending my Sunday family day trying to explain to a five year old what transgender means. So we passed the stage and just kept walking as the cover band played Abba's Dancing Queen.

After a tour through the largely unoccupied downtown market area (we did pick up some awesome homemade soap), we rallied to head over to the Greek Festival, the iPhone having provided us with the actual location.

What we found was disappointing if not particularly surprising. It was a bounce house (for an extra charge), face painting (for $3), and a marketplace with quasi-authentic wares. [Tim was quite taken with the belly dancing workout dvd.] Soon the girls were begging for all sorts of jangly scarves that would never again see the light of day. We narrowly escaped purchasing said items when I saw a noisy necklace of which I had an exact replica. I hadn't worn it in years but knew where it was. The promise of jewelry shopping in Mommy's room was enough to pacify the girls.

What did look completely awesome was the food. It looked and smelled fantastic. Its allure was only enhanced by the glance I had into the kitchen where a half dozen old Greek women were hard at work. But as fate would have it, Tim has recently challenged his brother to the Turkey Trot 5K at Thanksgiving and is on this clean eating kick. I didn't think I could have a very satisfying meal eating alone while the kids complained and Tim just looked hungrily at me.

Home it was then where the new jewelry treasures quickly lost their luster. That was when the fighting and complaining recommenced.

And the hammer came down.

We had a real come to Jesus moment when I re instituted the Chore Chart, after a much too long Summer absence, and added a Kindergarten style happy and sad face hierarchy, all of which is tied to the all important allowance. I must have made an impression as the kids all went and immediately started cleaning their rooms and toys. We'll see if it holds. Me, I'm calling it a day and watching football. Clearly, family day as designed is not going to happen.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


So my very favorite holiday, Halloween, approaches and the "save the date" for my very favorite adult Halloween party is out. And I am stumped. Last year, you may recall, I was very happy to be Glinda, the Good Witch.

It was pink, fluffy and delightful. It made me happy. Following the witch theme, I planned to be the White Witch from Narnia this year.

I had my brother Dominick, professional costume maker, signed onto help but his workload is such that he had to, with my blessing, bail. That costume is a bit beyond my seamstress abilities so it was back to the drawing board.

What I have discovered in my search for a replacement costume is that the Halloween industry has decided that all women want to be some variety of slut. The term they employ is sexy but really, they're all pretty trampy.

Right now on eBay there are sexy, read: trashy, women's costumes of the following flavors: Queen of Hearts, pirate, Dorothy, Robin (of Batman and Robin), witch, spacegirl, vampire, cop, and, the most unbelievable, crayon. The list goes on. So far, I have yet to find a non-sleazy costume for sale there. 

I cry foul. For the most part, the majority of women don't really look that good in these. They simply should not exist in size 22. And if we're being honest with ourselves, even the ones with the body to pull it off come off as desperate for attention and, though it may be by design, slutty looking. Not to mention, lacking imagination. What am I going to do? Well I can assure you I won't be the "sexy" Glinda. The search goes on....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Family View

So at back to school night, they often like to have a little picture or project the kids made. In Eion's case, it was a drawing of our family.

I was concerned at the lack of Daddy but was quickly informed that the black, headless, armless figure in the middle was indeed him. Ok. Found the inclusion of the dead cat of interest as well.

But the best part was that when they were drawing them, the teacher asked which figure was Eion and he replied, "The one with the sticking up hair, of course."

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Reports Are In

So at pick up today I see E's teacher from last year and she tells me,  "Ask Eion why he was on the bench at recess." Well F, I think - it has begun. So I asked his teacher what happened. She couldn't remember at first but then realized it was that he was talking to another table at lunch. It wasn't that big a deal, she said, but next week we aren't eating with them and the lunch ladies can get nasty.

I just had to laugh. This indiscretion pales in comparison to previous E exploits. I mean, who can forget classics like, "Your son has taken off his pants and is throwing chairs at the other children" or when he was the first preschooler of the year to be sent to the Principal's office for trying to run away from school. Talking too much? That's nothing.

His teacher went on to say that after my warning about his "spirited" nature before school began, she had steeled herself for the worst. But to the surprise of all involved, he has been pretty well behaved. Prove me wrong every day of the week baby. I love it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

School, Glorious School

Did I say I was sad to see Summer go? Moowaahahaha! Take it all back. I am making the absolute most of my time while the kiddos are in school. (And by the by, this post is all me so if you are looking for news on the wee ones, check back tomorrow.)

After dropping the minions off this morning, it was off to the gym for some pre-tennis weight lifting. I find it calms my game day jitters. Then on to an excellent tennis day - all three courts won by my team. My partner and I were in what seemed like the world's longest match, with the first set in a tie break and the match decided by a super tiebreak, but we pulled it out in the end. And naturally, we looked awesome in the fall team uniforms!

One of the team members did say these were very Katie with a fitted top and flouncy skirt but honestly, if they were really me, wouldn't they be pink?

Then it was on to swim lessons, that is, my swim lessons. True to my word, I promised Morrigan that I would learn to swim if she continued swimming as well. The coach, who I see routinely at the gym, did not believe my warnings that I completely suck in the water. I am a very terrestrial kind of girl. She must have thought I was exaggerating or being modest until she saw me in the water. I was laughable. I am slow, lack style, and as Tim would say, look like an epileptic on meth when swimming. During a 25 butterfly (with flippers), I totally cramped up and had to take refuge on the lane line. It was downright embarrassing. Good news is I have no where to go but up. I simply can't get any worse. 

But poor performance swimming and all, it was a great day. I love school.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

And How 'Bout Those Kids

Herein are largely reports from my MIL, who bravely took on three separate, and never ending I hear, orientations and the first day of school.

On the subject of our recently deceased cat:

The kids rallied rather quickly. Maggie told us that "It's just the life cycle of the cat. Sometimes you live and sometimes you get run over." Alrightly then. Apparently one of the only mentions of the cat in our absence was when the kids observed that, "We're going to have mice now because Midnight is dead and Jack is useless." While I may not yet have been forgiven, they seem to have moved on.

And On School:

The E was raring to go after his orientation. He had his clothes laid out four days in advance and asked every morning "Do I go to school today?" Until of course the first day when he had no interest in going. Way to keep Grandma on her toes E. In further Grandma harassment, he refused to kiss her goodbye stating his friends might see and he would be embarrassed. Say it isn't so my little five year old! He has also determined, by what means I have no earthly idea, that he is in the "smart class." I think it is best if I just say no comment here.

Maggie Mae, that would be the girl wearing the poncho in 90 degree heat (I did tell Nance to let them dress themselves), has already charmed her teacher. I went up today and introduced myself after school since I had missed orientation and she told me, "Oh Maggie is just the sweetest thing!" The same Mags who, when making a wish while we were gone, wished I was back home. I love that girl!

Morrigan is all fired up to be back at school. On her Spring SOLs (state-wide tests) she scored perfect scores on three tests and missed 2 questions on the remaining one. Her teacher told her that if she had scored all perfect scores, she would have met City Council and the Mayor. She was pissed and determined to miss zero questions next year. Maybe if I told her they are liberals, she would feel better about the missed opportunity. Oh I'm kidding. I mean, they are pretty liberal, but I am not doing a thing to prevent her from wanting to improve her scores!

But we are back in the thick of school and after school activities. And as much as I hated to see Summer end, it feels pretty good.

And I Hit the Ground Running

Whew. After a completely brutal travel day, we are back from Coeur d'Alene. And by brutal, I mean long and punishing. We started out in a van to the airport that managed to induce immediate car sickness allowing me to spend the entire 45 minute ride focused entirely on not vomiting. We then took three planes routing us home from Spokane to Minneapolis to Atlanta to Roanoke. By our arrival chez nous at 11:30pm, I was beat.

But you can't complain about homecoming when Doug and Nancy (my in-laws) are babysitting. The house and grounds were in decidedly better condition than we left them: weeds pulled, garage cleaned, flower beds mulched, retaining wall repaired. And the kids were happy too! They might be too good - my friends want to hire them. And they probably pay better than we do!

The remainder of our trip was relaxing and refreshing. Coeur d'Alene is a lovely town, if a bit sleepy, which suited us just fine. The scenery was gorgeous:

There was a three-ish mile hiking trail not far from the hotel which was fantastic. Its accent was not as steep as many around here, but it a great hike. On our last day we looped it twice.

The town also had fun details like the many artistic bike racks. I just loved these.

When Tim was in his conference (sadly, he did have to work), I roamed the town, ran, went to the spa and caught some of the US Open - when I needed a break from all my relaxing.

Wonderful, low-key vacation. And I think I came back just relaxed enough to hit the ground running and tackle the veritable mountain of paperwork from the children's schools waiting for me. More about that later...

Friday, September 03, 2010

You Know...

You know what you forget when you don't travel without kids for a while? How absolutely inefficient and selfish you can be. I spent the entire plane ride reading or watching a movie. No one needed help going to the bathroom. No fights needed mediation. It was lovely. I'm sure for seasoned business travelers, the thrill of such downtime is gone, but for homebodies like me, it was great.

And then this morning. I got up at the same time as Tim, who had to be at his conference at 7:30am. I was all set to go work out when I realized that if I went out at that moment, I would be done at 9ish, nothing would be open, and I would have hours and hours ahead of me. So I was lazy. And slow. I blogged. I unpacked. I read. Eventually, I did get around to working out. Even though I am generally an indoor runner, the trail along the lake was too pretty for me to be inside.

And it was a good thing I chose outside, because the gym here is beyond substandard. 

I'm looking forward to lunch with Tim, if he ever gets out of his conference, and spending the afternoon lollygagging around downtown. While I will love seeing my kids in a few days, I am seriously enjoying just taking care of me. And I was worried I would be bored! So far, this is a great vacation.

Westward Bound

So after all the cat demise induced tears of Thursday morning, Tim and I were off to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. In spite of our poor choice in date selection, I was excited to add two states to my "visited" roster. We were flying into Spokane, Washington and I have never been to either Washington or Idaho. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Consequently, I packed for everything. I'm pretty sure Nancy and Doug think I am never coming back.

Our flights were without incident and largely on time with the longer leg passing quickly since Tim had the foresight to download Inglourious Basterds to his iPad. I wasn't even irritated at the crying kids on the flight. I was just happy they weren't my crying kids.

On the way, I called Nancy for an update on Eion's Kindergarten orientation. Apparently, all went well. He arrived decked out in his fedora and skipped up to his teacher and yelled, "Surprise!" E happily went to visit his classroom and then refused to leave. Nancy indulged him, they didn't have much on the agenda for the day, but finally made him go home when all the other kids had left. He told his teacher, "I'll see you on Tuesday!" Oh but doesn't she know it. At least he is excited. When E doesn't want to do something, his defiance level rises markedly. Maybe the whole Kindergarten thing will work out better than we think.

Anyhoo, Tim and I arrived at the resort and checked in. The city is beautiful as is the resort itself. Our room, not so much. It was a tiny thing with access from an outside hallway and contained a tv older than ours at home (that's really saying something since we have this crappy Ilo that isn't even a flat screen), a full size bed and a bathroom smaller than our kids' bathroom at home. Not a mini bar in sight. I told Tim I hated to be all diva, but at minimum, I was going to need a king size bed. I called the front desk where our main man Phillip, who apparently has completed extensive diva handling classes, told us it was our lucky day. New room: king size bed, private balcony, view of the harbor, and a mini bar. Much better.

We spent the afternoon walking along the waterfront and through the darling downtown. It was so flat we felt like we could walk forever. We had a great beer at the local microbrewery but thought their menu looked uninspired so we used the trip advisor app to find Bistro on Spruce which was exactly what we wanted. Tim saw a man dining there who he was just sure worked for Wine Spectator. Since we thought there was a chance we were in the presence of someone with superior wine knowledge, we just ordered what they had, a local Cabernet Frank. Well the guy wasn't from Wine Spectator but the owner of the vineyard happened to be at the next table! And the wine was great.

We had about a mile and a half walk home and even though it was only 9pm local time, I was ready to call it a day.


I actually had to go and read my own blog to find out the last time I posted something. Been just the teensiest bit busy around here. Some good, some bad and all forthcoming.....

Last weekend the kids and I headed up to Detroit for my Mom & Dad's 45th wedding anniversary party. This would be the first time I flew with all three kids on my own (Timmy had to work.) Overall, they were excellent little travellers. We didn't check any luggage (damned if I am paying $25 a bag) and they all wanted to help carry or roll a bag. I'm not sure how much the other passengers enjoyed us as we trended blocky and Eion soundtracked the entire flight to the Indiana Jones song, but I was thrilled. And he made some TSA agents' day when he was putting back on his shoes after clearing security and he remarked, "This is my favorite part of the airport!" I asked if they got that often. Not surprisingly, the answer was never before.

My brother was also at my parents' house - the first time we had all been together in two years. Sadly, his partner Chris couldn't make it but the kids (happily) settled for just Uncle Dominick. We had a great, busy weekend during which we caught up with my family, my brother in law and sister in law's family and some friends too. The kids hadn't seen their cousins in ages and were thrilled to do so.

They also delighted in continued and repeated assaults on Uncle Dominick, who they eventually made call for a cease fire, and stocking Opa's pond with goldfish & koi.

I'm not entirely sure, however, if the highlight of the fish experience wasn't when one escaped the Pet Smart worker's grasp and made an ill fated attempt at freedom.

Mom & Dad's basement was also a virtual treasure trove for the wee ones. They found all sorts of old toys they claimed as their own. Thank god we were flying so I had a perfect excuse not to bring it all back. Though I have a sneaking suspicion some of these prizes will be making their way to our house at Christmas.

Eion was also carrying out a one man mission against Dad's garden on many fronts. He rearranged the rocks by the stream. He flooded the pond with acorns. He used gnomes for batting practice. Last I heard, many have also "gone missing." This trip was extremely pricey in gnome replacement alone. But he was having a great time!

Saturday my parents had a party for their 45th wedding anniversary. Lots of relatives came from all parts of the midwest, some arriving early to set up the arch. For any milestone anniversary, the Dutch side of the family erects an arch which is decorated in greenery, flowers, and a sign feting the lucky couple. Since the support beams had to be driven 4 hours, it was a bit of a surprise that this one came through.

In addition to family, some friends from UofM also made it which was wonderful since the gap in get togethers can be measured in years - much too far apart. They had all experienced the Veldman chaos before and fit right in.

Eion was in true E form. I had regular report outs from other kids that he was using the outdoor stand up potty, in the front yard no less, and was intermittently pantsless. My favorite E moment was when he asked me if he could have an orange soda. As it was a party, I figured it was fine with me. Oma, however, didn't see it that way and took it away, leaving Eion devastated. My friend Olivia took matters in hand and snuck him the soda with which he immediately headed to an uninhabited corner of the house to enjoy. He later was coming in the garage to dispose of the evidence with the can behind his back and a bright orange ring around his mouth. He'll need to work on his technique. 

As is always the case with a party like this, I felt like there wasn't enough time to talk to everyone for as long as I would have wanted. And the day went by too fast and we were headed back home to Virginia the next morning.

We only had a few days at home before Tim & I were flying to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Tim is attending a medical conference and I am just tagging along. When we planned this, we really didn't think things through. We are missing the end of the summer at the pool,  school orientation and the first day of school. Ooops. You know, it didn't seem so ill advised in May when we planned it! Luckily, my in-laws have everything well in hand.

But as if things weren't stressful enough, two days before we were leaving, I accidentally ran over our cat, Midnight. You might remember her as the award winning kitty of last fall.

Not that I imagine mortally wounding your pet is ever fun, but this was truly awful. Morrigan and I were in the Wrangler with all the windows out when we backed up and heard "rrooowwrroroorww!" I had run her over. Tim took her to the vet hoping that maybe she just had a broken leg but her injuries were much more extensive. Surgery was not advised at that time and she was stable so a few hours (and $600) later, we had her at home and were hoping she would rally and recover. But within a day she began to refuse water and any other fluids, was ripping out her IV and was generally looking miserable. That night, she died in my arms. Nancy (my MIL), myself, and to my great surprise, Tim, were all in tears. Seriously, I have known him for 19 years and have NEVER seen him cry - except when we were watching Old School and that was kind of different. It was emotional. And then we got to relive the whole thing in the morning when the kids got up and we had to tell them.

Eion was the only one who seemed relatively unfazed. When our other cat tried to come inside (the kids are allergic so they are outdoor cats), he informed Jack, "You can't come in unless you are smooshed." At least he forgave me. The girls have reminded me several times that this is all my fault.

So after we break the news, we then have to leave them to attend their school orientations all red-eyed and miserable while we flew across the country. My guilt level is running at an all time high but I'm hoping I'll be forgiven by the time I get back.