Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh the Humanity!

From the Morrigan files....

"I can't wait until Christmas comes and I get some new books. I have been reduced to reading things from my brother's bookcase."

Deepest sympathies my dear. Guess it's a good thing Santa went heavy on the literature this year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Classic Moments From the Weekend

As her cousins walked in the door, Maggie asked Kelsey, "Now which one are you?"

Tim asked our nieces why they didn't use the wheel controller for Mario Kart and he was told, "The wheel is for suckers."

Followed closely by Darby's Mario Kart advice for Tim, "Jump on the boat!" which was the exact wrong plan. "Yeah, I know," she said. "I just wanted to sabotage you."

Darby asking, "Is Eion's hair ever normal?"

Kelsey & Darby's evaluation of the other racers at the Drumstick Dash having chosen to start with the 8 minute milers: "There's allot of people who really overestimated themselves."

Eion: "I want to play Plants vs. Zombies and I need Kelsey or a Darby."

Eion to Darby: I've been waiting all morning for you. I love you."

And last but not least, Eion's entire Thanksgiving dinner consisted of cinnamon toast bread and gogurt!

Thanksgiving Worth Giving Thanks

We had a fantastic, relaxing and fun-filled Thanksgiving weekend with Tim's parents, brother and his family coming from Florida and Detroit, respectively, to visit.

Tim's parents arrived Monday giving Nancy and I the chance to wrap our holiday shopping. That's right - all done! [And I ordered my Christmas cards today to boot.] We even got some of the wrapping done taking care to correct past years' errors like using different wrapping paper for Santa gifts and computerized tags. Last year it was pointed out to me that Santa and I had the same paper and identical handwriting.

Wednesday, Tim's brother and his crew arrived. Let the festivities begin....

Tim, Morrigan, his brother Pat and our nieces Kelsey and Darby and I all ran the Thanksgiving morning 5K, the Drumstick Dash. The girls smoked us all finishing first. Tim and Pat were next with Tim just besting his older brother. Morrigan was doing well, for the first 1/2 mile. Then it was largely walking and complaining. Our time was s-l-o-o-o-o-w and I really wished I had registered under a pseudonym but I spent time with my little girl, no matter how complainy that time was.

Then we were home to cook up a fantastic feast! It was also Pat's birthday so our pumpkin pie was supplemented with cake.

Doug and Nancy flew home Friday. The rest of us enjoyed the sunny, crisp weather and went on a hike before coming home and making home made pizzas.

Eion bonded with his cousin Darby, with whom he played Plants vs. Zombies almost non-stop. They are six years apart so it was cute to see the common ground. All the kids (and adults) got along great which makes us all the more excited for our family trip to the beach in July.

Saturday, all our guests had gone, leaving us a few days before school to clean and decorate for Christmas.

It was a wonderful holiday and we are truly blessed!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to Cook a Turkey

By Eion:

"First, get a turkey from Wal-Mart. Then bake it in the oven for 20 minutes on 100 degrees. After it is finished, put it on the table and everyone pulls off pieces to eat except me, because I don't like turkey."

Safe travels to your holiday destinations and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cough, Cough

So I totally suck as a blogger these days. I might as well just make this the once a week update on the Team. In my defense, the lingering cough that I have been enjoying for three weeks turned especially ugly leading me to abandon all manner of activities (gym, tennis, even cocktail hour - the horror!) And you just know you are leading a charmed/sheltered existence when Morrigan said to me the other day, "Oh Mommy - I hate that you are still sick. It is really hard to play tennis when you are sick!"

After trying to battle through illness, I did finally just take to the sofa this week and did a whole lot o' nothing. Sadly for my under the weather self, the Schedule of Events caught up with me and I had to abandon my reclined post for the weekend.

Friday night we had Supper Club conveniently located across the street. We were a twee bit late as I had to pick Morrigan up from an overnight field trip and the bus was naturally late giving them a 0% on time rating over the last 2 years. It was classic when I dropped her off for said trip. Another Mom said she had been instructed to stay until the bus had left. I looked around for Morrigan and saw she had boarded the bus without saying goodbye and was motioning for me to leave. Good thing we value Independence around here. But back on point, Supper Club was fun, maybe a bit too much fun (surprise) as I was feeling those pomegranate martinis the next morning as we....

drove 2 hours to Waynesboro for a swim meet! We were only doing one day as Tim had to work on Sunday and that suited the whole family just fine. Eion arrived and immediately set up camp with the other ds players. To his credit, we barely saw him all day. He entertained himself and only hit us up a few times for concession money.

Morrigan posted some improved times and some the same. But she had a fantastic attitude and seemed not at all worried with placement.

Maggie had the meet of her life. She dropped time in everything including 14.5 seconds off her 50 back. In terms of Summer swimming, she is already making silver times for everything in the 7-8 age group. The downside is there were a bunch of really fast girls there and those greatly improved times translated into 25th place finishes. We're not expecting many ribbons here.

But what they really considered important was the after meet trip to Cracker Barrel. I can't be entirely sure but I think that is the whole reason they wanted to attend this meet.

After a much needed afternoon nap, we were off to poker. I was a disappointing 4th place but Tim tied for 1st.

Tim had to work today so I was left with the task of getting the house ready for our Thanksgiving guests. We have Tim's parents and his brother and family coming in this week so there was plenty to do. But not so much to do that we couldn't take a few hours out to see the new Harry Potter flick. While I think E had some trouble following it, the girls loved it. And they made a point of letting me know they were most definitely not afraid.

I broke down and started antibiotics hoping that might finally break this illness so say a little prayer for me as I hope to rally for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No Eion, There is not a Santa Claus

So the other day, Eion, who incidentally went to school dressed like this today:

had a friend over and they were playing all over the house and outside. Later, we had this exchange:

Eion: I am getting legos for Christmas.
Me: What kind of legos do you want to get?
Eion: No, I am getting them. Hagrids hut with the big spider. I saw it in the Target bag with the nerf guns and swords.

So basically, you found where I hid all the Christmas gifts. And I was pretty much  done shopping for E. So what the hell am I supposed to do? I bought what he wanted so I don't want to get different things but if I give him these, Santa is fini. And both his sisters still believe. Excellent work Eion.

Perhaps a lump of coal is in order.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I'll Go With All At Once

I briefly entertained the idea of splitting this post into several posts but a wave of complete and utter laziness has overtaken me and I'm just going to jam it all together!

On Veterans' Day, Morrigan's school had a musical presentation of patriotic songs.

She was bitterly disappointed in her placement in the chorus. Seems the costumed parts were assigned while we were in Florida. So logically, I asked her, "Wasn't it better to go to Universal Studios and see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter than have a bigger part in this 20 minute play?" My logic was rebuffed when she replied, "It was fun but now I see it wasn't worth it since I am in the dumb chorus!" Ah money and time well spent on that vacation.

Maggie had a homework sheet come home entitled "What is a good friend?" She chose to write about her friend Megan. She said she "Is very funny. She can do cartwheels, forward rolls, backwards rolls, and dance." I had clearly underestimated the importance of gymnastics in 2nd grade friendship. Perhaps I can enhance my status if I teach her some cheerleading moves from high school.

Last but not least in the goings on of Team McK, Tim and I have been trying forever, were talking months and months, to arrange to go to the firing range with our friends JT and Ilona.

Finally, we had a date on the calendar. We met them Friday at a local indoor range where we were able to rent a Glock 17 9mm and purchase ammo. Now they have both been shooting for a couple of years and Tim has been through a firearms training class but I had never even touched a gun. Truth be known, the whole scene was a bit intimidating. For while there were safety protocols in place, you are picking up an instrument that can kill people - even if you don't plan to do so.

As the only newbie, everyone else walked me through basic gun safety - always lay the gun down pointing at the target, always check for a bullet left in the chamber, don't transfer a loaded gun from station to station etc. Ilona taught me the gun grip and walked me through how to fire, warning about the kick of the gun. She told me that her first time out, it took what felt like forever to fire her first shot because she was so nervous so I shouldn't worry if I felt apprehensive.

So I pick up the gun, decide to aim at the target's head, and fire. And damned if I didn't hit the target right in the face. That was FUN.

Then we tried some targets from a greater distance, about 15 yards. I went first and hit dead in the chest. (The middle hole is mine.)

You know, I was never anti-gun but I was wholly unprepared for just how much fun it was. I mean, I have zero desire to fire at any living thing, but shooting at paper target, yeah, I can totally see me doing that again.

As we left, Tim was telling a regular there how he thought I was a better shot than he [Tim] was and we added that it might just be some beginner's luck. He told us, "With guns, there is no beginner's luck. You're just a shooter." Seriously, who knew?!

The one family member overwhelmed with excitement, other than Tim - envisioning romantic mornings at the range, was Eion. He was beyond impressed that we had fired a real live gun and began lobbying to come with us adding, "I am so ready for a little gun - one just my size!" I don't think so buddy - at least not yet.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Arranged Marriages and the Impact of Team McK

Before we get rolling here today, I am appalled that I have no new pictures! I organize my digital pictures in folders named by month and year and I haven't even had to bother to make a November 2010 folder yet. So very wrong.

But back on topic. Just the other day we had this conversation in the car:

Morrigan: Soon I will be a teenager and I will wear high heels, makeup and date.
Me: You don't want to date. It is gross.
Morrigan: But you had to date to find Daddy. How will I find a husband?
Me: Well you know, there are lots of cultures that have arranged marriages. Daddy and I can just find you a husband.
Maggie: It's true! She's already talked to Mrs. V about Eion marrying Eliza!

And he would be doing well to do so.

And then there was this gem this afternoon....

Hans: Mark said he had a great time last night [at Melanie & Jerry's for dinner.]
Morrigan: Of course he did. It's always a party when we are there.

Would that I could argue.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Check or Bet

To my infinite delight, the children demanded I teach them to play poker the other day. So it was Texas Hold'em time chez McK. We started with some basics: which hands beat other hands, the betting process and the way the game works. Surprising everyone involved, they kind of got it. Now Eion requires LOTS of help, help he will routinely ignore because he likes to knock on the table for a check and feels compelled to fold top pair on the turn but he is a very happy guy while he is disregarding your advice.

The girls are generally understanding what hands will win but their difficulty seems to be seeing the potential, or lack thereof, of their own hands. They are largely unable to defend check raising with a Queen-two.

And we need to work on the poker faces. Maggie lights up like the White House Christmas tree when her cards come out on the board. Then again, she is in a better position than her brother who feels announcing his hole cards is a great idea.

But the good news is they like it and want to play daily. And it beats the hell out of Candyland.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Getting to the Bottom of It

Now we know that Eion has taken a turn for the better these days but I can't say we really knew what prompted his improvement. But after this conversation, we may have one piece of the puzzle...

Me: Do you like Ms. DeFazio? [his teacher]
E: Yes, I love her.
Me: Is she your girlfriend?
E: [very seriously] Yes. I love her allot.

You know, whatever it takes.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Red Nation

It is not very ladylike to gloat. So truly and honestly, I've been trying not to do so. But do you want to know what makes that so hard? What makes it hard is everything that has transpired since the 2008 election.

When I expressed my displeasure for Obama's agenda and I was told, by a source who will remain nameless, "Well he won and he is your President so you'd better shut up and deal with it."

Attending peaceful, civil, not to mention tidy, rallies only to be accused of being a racist. Or called a "teabagger." By no less than "my" President himself. And just in case you haven't googled the term, it's not just another name for Tea Party. It is an insulting, pejorative sexual reference that should never ever be used by an elected official who my taxes are paying to describe anyone. Unless we can level the playing field and refer to far left wackos as "rusty trombones" or "dirty sanchezes."

Watching a government who promised to televise on C-SPAN the healthcare reform debates instead engage in political sausage making that included buying off any number of Senators and House Representatives with exemptions, specifically excluded Republicans and produced a bill numbering in the thousands of pages that the members of Congress admitted openly they had not read.

Hearing the (former) Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, say we had to pass the healthcare reform bill to find out what is in it.

Watching the President say outrageous things like "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money" and appoint a "Pay Czar" to dictate bonuses in the private sector. Really? Last time I checked, the President is Commander in Chief and no where in his or her job description is the determination of private sector pay or how much we deserve to earn.

Deficit spending, which was unacceptable under Bush, went on steroids and spiraled out of control.

It was enough to dispirit a gal.

But just as the mainstream media was pronouncing Conservatism dead, as James Carville declared Democrats would be the ruling party for forty years, as the era of Reagan was deemed dead, something special happened. The American people rose up and said HELL NO. No, we don't want big government. No, we don't want a European style nanny state. No, we don't think your snobby, elitist behinds can make our lives better than freedom can. No, we don't think our society needs to be fundamentally transformed. No, we don't think income needs to be redistributed. And no, calling us (incorrectly) racists or teabaggers won't make us go away.

Then all those people showed up to vote. The GOP walked away with (at least - some races still pending) 63 House seats, 6 Senate seats, Republican Governors in places like Michigan, Ohio and Maine (and a whole lot more), and 18 state legislatures flipping to the right.

So as unladylike as it may be, I do feel a little smug. Because what had been rejected in the elections of 2006 and 2008 was not the Conservatism that I love and hold dear. The Conservatism that I have been told repeatedly over the last two years is dead and gone. It was centrist, smooshy, moderate Republicans. Now the true Conservatives are back and baby, it feels good.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Parent Teacher Conferences

What? Did you assume I would go all political this morning? A fair assumption I suppose and I may indeed do so later in the day. But for now, parent teacher conferences!

First up, Maggie, who in her school picture looks like she will be totally bummed, dude, about Prop 19 in California going down.

This will make me sound like a smug bitch, but I asked Maggie's teacher, "Are you just going to have me come in so you can tell me Mags is doing great and is a delight to have in class?" "Pretty much," she said. So we skipped a formal conference.

Next up, Morrigan. (Whose school picture isn't back yet.)

A few worrisome grades had come home and her teacher was the one with whom I had interacted the least so I wasn't sure what to expect. But no worries necessary. She is getting a B in math (the horror) but otherwise is doing great. When I asked if she was prone to making inappropriate comments (I know my daughter), the answer was no more than the other kids. Alright! Two down leaving.....


As you all know, we struggled with the decision to send him to Kindergarten. Even when we had committed to send him, we were about 50-50 on whether or not he would get to enjoy Kindergarten twice. But he has really turned a corner in the past few months and his teacher sees it too.

His benchmark testing was unremarkable but his teacher said there was no cause for concern. And his behavior has been downright acceptable! Ms. DeFazio told me how surprising that was. Apparently, when the classroom rosters were passed out, all the teachers were interested in knowing who got Eion. And I didn't get the impression that it was because they were all vying for him. 

Other Teachers: "Oooh - who got Eion McK?"
Ms. DeFazio: [Dejectedly raising her hand and with a sigh] "I did."

She actually reenacted the conversation for me. But the story has a happy ending as he is not living up to his hype. And even hatless, he has turned out another awesome school picture.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day Laughs

So to give you a bit of background, where I am in Virginia there was one congressional seat on the ballot. Realistically, not a very interesting battle. We had Goodlatte, the incumbant Republican, Bain, the Libertarian candidate and Vanke, an Independent. The polls don't close for another few minutes but I think the whole of Roanoke would be shocked if Goodlatte didn't win reelection.

After volunteering at school this morning in Maggie's class (reading with the kids - she is perpetually disappointed that she isn't chosen to go with me not realizing it is the kids who need extra help who are singled out), I ran into Hans who was passing out literature for Jeff Vanke. We started talking about an upcoming vacation, tennis and all manner of non-political topics. Then who should walk up but Bob Goodlatte!

He poked a little fun at Hans and I was quick to add, "I am so not with this guy." Hans confirmed saying he was pretty sure I would have crawled through broken glass to vote Republican today. Not to mention my chatting with Hans was derailing his efforts to canvas.

Sadly, in spite of having my camera, I didn't think of a photo op. But considering I was in tennis clothes, pigtails and no makeup, it might have been for the best.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween: The Final Chapter

Two days and many parties in we aren't quite done. Sunday was time for the grand finale: Halloween. Since Maggie was just a baby, we have gone trick or treating with friends on the White Oak/Brightwood loop. I did ask the kids if they wanted to go to the more popular Stanley Ave., but they (to my delight) went with tradition.

David and Lori were hosting a pre-game and were kind enough to let me come complete with an entourage. We snacked on pizza and the adults geared up with some roadies before hitting the neighborhood. (Without my entourage, I might add. They decided I would be better off alone with the kids while they chilled there. I need a better crew.)

The portion of the neighborhood that used to take up our entire evening was completed in 15 minutes flat as the kids sprinted from house to house. Eion, who was struggling with his costume, broke into tears repeatedly, yelling, "Wait up! It's not a race!" Naturally, no one listened.

He went up to one house and the owner asked, "Who are you?" referring to his costume. He deadpanned, "I'm Eion." Priceless.

After dominating the first area, we moved on and met up with more friends who promptly got left in the dust by my children on a mission. No driveway was too long, no hill too high. For the girls anyway. Eion at a certain point seemed utterly unconcerned with more candy and was happy to hang out with me waiting for his sisters.

One thing that made the night awesome was the fact that "fall back" hadn't happened yet. The majority of trick-or-treating was while it was still light out. And it didn't hurt that the weather was just perfect and you barely needed a sweater. The kids, including Eion who couldn't keep up and Maggie who had an epic wipe out, deemed it the best Halloween ever. Indeed.

Halloween Parties: Take Two

Enter Saturday, day two in a weekend long celebration. After swim practice, the kids' team was going en masse to Layman's Farms for hayride/pumpkin patch fun. While the kids were immediately drawn to the corn crib (think sandbox full of corn kernels,) they did then leave it and participate in other activities as opposed to last year when I think the E spent, quite literally, several hours knee deep in corn.

We actually went into the corn maze for the first time and, in spite of having a map, promptly got lost. Maggie told us, "I have a superior sense of direction. I'll get us out." Was more of a team effort but we did exit without too much trauma.

The kids were also quite keen on the varied pumpkins. We had already carved ours but I liked them too and couldn't resist a few more.

After going home, we had an hour break before it was off to the Club Halloween party.

The kids have gotten so darn good that we were able to spend almost the entire party socializing with the other adults. They were happy to run amok and loop repeatedly through the (not very scary) inflatable haunted house.

Maggie's friend, who had been at Summer events and was familiar with the soda and treasure dives, did ask if they would have to dive into the pool for the candy. And while that might have been entertaining for the parents, we aren't quite that mean!

Eion was briefly under siege from a gang of Spidermen, but he rallied. To be sure, he wasn't about to eat, but he was well behaved, albeit in an over-sugared way.

My girls were definitely on the older end and it reminded me our time is soon coming to an end at such parties. But I continually think each year is our last and my kids keep wanting to go. I'm up for it as long as they are. I loved all the little girls dressed as fairies. And I kind of miss when those fairies were my girls.

But not enough to go back. They were cute at that party but much higher maintenance. Their stamina wasn't up to today's levels either. Saturday we were, true to form, the first people there and among the last to leave.