Sunday, July 31, 2011

And Every Once in a Great While, I Get It Just About Right


So a wee bit back when Maggie and Megan were knee deep in the Harry Potter series, I discovered that Megs had seen nary a HP movie. Her Mom, Amy, thought that it was important to form your own vision of the whole gig before seeing what the folks at Universal had dreamed up. [While those of us who hadn't put that much thought into it had gladly dragged our kids to the previous movies, whether they liked it or not.] After realizing that, damn, that might have been a good idea, I quickly surmised that we would have to remedy this situation prior to HP7 Part 2 being released. 

With little (read:no) forethought, I promised the girls a marathon of Harry Potter, during which we would catch up on all the movies and eat lots and lots of popcorn. Fast forward to Saturday at about 1:30pm when the big day arrived. Soon thereafter, I realized I had completely failed to take into account was just how long such a marathon might be. By the time we reached bedtime (a late one to boot) we were only mid-way through Goblet of Fire. In spite of eating in front of the tv.

Come morning, we were back at it by 7:30am. [In an ever so brief moment of sanity, I did turn down requests of popcorn for breakfast.] By mid morning when Amy checked in, we were just starting Order of the Phoenix. Which, as luck would have it, the girls' friend Margaret hadn't seen either.

Bring on the expansion.


Countless bowls of popcorn, one Monopoly break and many giggles later, we wrapped it all up in a mere 30 hours.  Really, I was feeling like the best Mom ever.

So why just about right? As her friends left for home, Maggie burst into tears because we didn't finish the monopoly game. You're welcome sweetheart.

Friday, July 29, 2011

And the Nominee Is...


In the category of completely bat shit crazy, over the edge Mom - Katie McK!!!!

With the prospect of back to school shopping (already) hitting me last night, I dutifully printed out the three rather exhaustive lists of required supplies needed for the wee McKs. As I perused the lists, it occurred to me, why on earth am I going to buy 48ish pencils when I have a box of god knows how many very lightly used ones around here? Why should I buy scissors when we have at least 6 pairs around the house?

And I set off on a supply finding scavenger hunt, much to the horror of Morrigan, the only one still up as I, naturally, began this endeavour at 9pm.

I raised a fist in triumph as I located more than enough pencils, supply boxes, hand sanitizer, pencil sharpeners and scissors for the entire crew. My enthusiasm now in high gear, I set out to assemble sets of viable crayons from the overflowing crayon box which might very literally contain a thousand crayons.

Morrigan, however, felt it had gone far enough and let me know that while she would agree to use the other found supplies, a hodge podge of crayons in a rubbermaid box was going to open her to the threat of becoming a locker-stuffer. Not at all happy about it, I stood down.

Tim thinks I am just insane. But I don't see why we need brand new everything every year. We can afford it - I am pretty sure my efforts have saved us whopping $11.95, but it is the principle of the thing. That brand new supply box will look just as dirty as the one we already have in a matter of days, plus we will then have two pieces of plastic eventually on their merry way to the landfill. Maybe too what we need to be doing is teaching the bigger lesson to our kids to use our resources wisely, not to just need a new shiny thing all the time. That there is value in frugality.

Or maybe they will just be embarrassed and tell their friends, "Yeah, it is last year's pencil sharpener. Mom is completely off her rocker." Seeing as I am still going to chaff at the prospect of purchasing new crayons, they may even be right.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reunion Weekend

After an awesome start, the reunion weekend rolled on.....

Tim played approximately 5 billion holes of golf with his old mates, leaving me free to lunch with friends Casey and Olivia.


Not to mention some girls only shopping. (Not that we wouldn't have welcomed Casey - he self-exiled.) Morrigan was completely enamoured with the "big" mall in Novi. [She probably would have flipped if we went to the really nice mall in another part of town.] She gushed over the fancy stores and reveled in the girl time. In a completely out of character move myself, I even ponied up for a pair of Ugg boots for her - which she is now wearing in the heat of summer, looking like some dingbat celebrity in LA. 


The reunion itself was fun, as much fun as one can have as a spouse at a reunion. Saw lots of old friends, many of whom I knew from our Detroit days, and met many others. 


So there were two funny/baffling/worth remarking upon incidents. The night before the reunion, we went to some bar and met up with a whole group people, one of whom was Tim's high school girlfriend, Leslie. Now, I am 4 years younger than Tim, went to a different high school anyway, and met him a year after this relationship was over. Not to mention, we've been together 20 years, married for 16. I was not threatened, at all. When we walked in, she came right up and gave me a hug (she gets a pass - how was she to know I am not a hugger) and said how glad she was to meet me. We talked that night (and the next) and in all honesty, she reminds me a lot of myself. [Except she is a liberal - Tim found it fairly horrifying he had dated someone who went left and told her so.] If we were in the same town, we might be friends.

You can see why Tim and I both got a hearty laugh the next night when, acting just like it was still high school, many of his classmates were whispering, wondering if I knew of their "past" together. Really, what were they expecting? That I had assumed Tim never dated until, at age 23, he met me? That I didn't already know about her? And bless the gossip mongers, probably a few would have loved a good old fashioned scene. Sadly, we disappointed and got along well.


At some point in the evening, I was off getting food or a drink or something and ended up talking to a friend of Tim's who I knew from the old days but not terribly well. He commented that he felt "You [Katie] really get a bad rap. You're lots of fun." Uh, Huh? I was a bit taken aback as while there are many things at which I do not excel, silence, patience, low-fat eating, a category I don't generally consider a fail for me is fun. Being of tremendously thick skin and realizing that this was, in his own way, a compliment, I went with "Thanks!" 

We bailed on the reunion at midnight but heard the festivities went on until 3:30am. It was totally the right choice!

The next day we went to a picnic at Darren's house - the only kid-inclusive event of the weekend. Eion promptly paired up with sweet little Brooklyn and they declared they were "married."



At least I know I like the in-laws.

Our weekend of fun was vastly facilitated by my parents, who happily helped out with, and spoiled terribly, the kids.


The driving, trading of shifts and dispositioning of Maggie were well worth it. Speaking of which....


Maggie had the meet of her life, swimming personal best times in 4 out of 5 events. She had 2 bronze times, both of which were 1st place, hence the much loved medals. In all of her other events she had silver times and placed well. Not to mention, she won her heat in one event. She was on top of the world. When we arrived to get her Monday, she looked quite disappointed and accused us of being early. 

It was a stellar weekend for the whole family.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Just Like Old Times


With Operation Maggie Goes to City County underway, having dropped her off at Ann & Hans' house, we set sail for Detroit for Tim's 25th high school reunion. Though we knew people were getting together on Thursday night, we were uncommitted pending evaluation after a ten hour drive. But somewhere along the way we found out that night was the only night Adrienne would be in town. 

So it was a quick clean up, drop the remaining kids with Mom & Dad, and off to Royal Oak, our one-time home. 


And hail, hail, the old gang's all here! We had a great evening catching up, having not seen many of Tim's old mates in a decade or more. We got home way past curfew - 12:30 - and I was quite glad I wasn't getting up for 18 holes of golf the next day.

But it was one more chapter in the Summer theme of reconnecting. For months now, it seems each trip involves seeing old friends and relatives we've been neglecting during those busy early parenting years. Once again, it felt so good - just like it was yesterday we were all staying out too late in the old neighborhood. I may be the only wife ever to feel this way, but I can't wait for tonight's event when we are likely to see even more blasts from the past.

On a side note, Maggie's decision to stay home was not in vain. She swam the 25 Free and 100IM today placing 8th silver and 1st bronze, respectively. I called to congratulate her and she was stoked about the 1st place. It comes not only with a ribbon, but a much coveted medal. She seems to to miss us a whit, making my trip completely guilt free!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The End of Swim Season, Sort Of


Monday marked the last regular swim meet for summer, much to the delight of Tim! Maggie sailed through her events with silver times in butterfly and backstroke. Since we missed a few meets, she had the added bonus of swimming an "open" 100 IM in order to qualify for City County.


Poor E disqualified in backstroke. Seems those two weeks off left him out of practice enough that he needed to propel himself on the lane line one time too many. As I watched, I kept thinking, "How on earth has he not been dqed yet?"Apparently his transgressions eventually became too egregious for even his generous judge and he was called. 


Maggie's response was joyful, letting us know that this definitely made her McK swimmer of the week.

Tim, after two years of saying how he was not going to his 25th high school reunion, has made an about face and decided he does want to go. Which is great except it is the weekend of City County. In Detroit. When we told the kids, Maggie simply said, "I want to stay and swim." I certainly didn't play hardball but did gently try to convince her that she may want to go to her grandparents instead. How wrong I was. 

And so began the Calling In Of The Favors to make it possible for her to stay. Now if it were E (who incidentally also wants to stay), I would (and did) just say no. Bless him for having enthusiasm but he didn't get a point all season. I'm not owing a half dozen families in that case. But Mags had a great season and stands to do well, so it is on.

While we are in Detroit, she will be at three different houses (thank you all!), and have various other people shepherding her around the swim meet, taking her to the swim banquet, and ferrying her to camp Monday. (With thanks to all those people too!) I will return to owe favors from now until the end of time. Let's hope she has a great meet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Summer Job

As I simply cannot bring myself to swim on the swim team, in spite of what they say, some people are too slow, I am the team photographer, a job I adore. Honestly, it's like I am getting over - it doesn't even feel like work. (While there is also no pay, it counts as our volunteer job for the team.) Sadly, Monday was the last swim meet of the season so I am done till next year but here were some of my favorite shots.







And Finally, The Beach


After our whirlwind tour of central/north Florida, it was off to Garden City Beach, South Carolina for a week in the surf with Tim's parents, brother and his family. We were blessed with perfect weather and had an awesome, relaxing time. Including many, many family portraits, at my request naturally. 


Though I can't take credit for the matching shirts. Those were a gift from my in-laws. 

All the kids tackled the surf, for the first year with almost no fear. Even Eion.


But Morrigan was the champ, always first out into the ocean and willing to stay as long as someone was out with her. She probably would have been happy to stay alone if we had let her.



We were there for the 4th of July and saw what I found to be one of the best arguments for free market Capitalism ever. South Carolina has fireworks laws that are not particularly strict. You can legally purchase really, really big fireworks. Think what your city uses for the 4th. We actually didn't buy any figuring the rest of the beach vacationing population would hook us up. How very right we were. The amateur, not coordinated show started just before dark and went on for 2 1/2 hours. And by went on, I mean grand finale level rapidity, put near rivaling Disney going on. Non stop from 8pm ish to 10:30ish. It was great. Maggie finally just bailed before it was over because she was tired and had seen enough. 

And all at no expense to any taxpayers. 

Alright, Capitalism commercial complete.


Tim and I (by choice) did allot of the cooking, enjoying all the fresh seafood and seasonal produce. And a few beers too...

We had the most fantastic, relaxing and family-filled week! Now it is back to reality and working off that beer! But first, a few scenes from the beach.




Side Trip to Tallahassee


After Grandma's birthday, we had a few days before we were due at the beach so we took a side trip to visit friends from college. We hadn't seen Alex and Adriana since Maggie was a baby so our trip was long overdue.


With our troupe of six kids from ages 3-9 we were quite the spectacle. But in spite of our caravan's size and disruptive nature, we successfully mastered lunch out and an afternoon at the pool.


You know, every time you see or go to visit someone you haven't seen in a while, there is always that chance that things have changed. You're different, they are different or you're both changed just enough that things aren't the same. That all you have is old stories and nothing new in common. Happily, nothing could be further from the truth this time around. In so many ways it was like we just saw each other last week, only we had years of catching up to do and all kinds of overlapping interests.



And cool new cars to boot! Couldn't have been happier we made the drive.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our Adventures Started With Great Grandma

So we are back after two weeks away! I'll try to catch you up on all the fun in between....

Tim's paternal Grandmother turned 100 the last week of June. We knew this was coming and went through the proper channels to have the President send her a letter but hadn't planned much beyond that. Then about six weeks ago, we realized the big day was only a few days before we were going to the beach with Tim's family. Maybe I am getting all sentimental in my old age, but it seemed like something we, and the kids, should be at in person. A few schedule swaps and a 12 hour drive later and we were in Florida.


Now, Grandma is kind of a private person, always concerned about people knowing her "business." She had rejected the idea of having cake with the other residents of her assisted care facility because "it's none of their damn business how old I am." As odd as it may seem, we all agreed not to discuss her actual age. A plan that was great until the moment we walked through the door and Eion rushed up to her and said, "We're not supposed to talk about how you're 100 so we are just using one candle. That way no one will know you are 100!" Smooth move E. Could you have worked "100" in a few more times?


But as her great grandchild and the only great grandson, he managed to get away with it and Grandma seemed nonplussed. We let her choose the restaurant for lunch and she selected The Marguererita Grill - home of all the fried seafood and gigantic margaritas. She didn't have one as big as mine, but she threw one back herself!



When lunch was over, the waitress seemed inordinately slow with the check so I went to seek her out - and find Eion, who had been missing for twenty minutes or so. Turns out what he was doing was 1) trying to order a beer with the $5 Great Grandma had given him and 2) telling anyone who would listen that it was her 100th birthday. So the waitstaff had made her a dessert with a candle. And had the entire restaurant sing to her. And told them all she was 100. So much for not mentioning it.


But again, the little guy got away with it and Grandma seemed ok with all the attention. We went back to her apartment for some cake. She must not have been too bothered by E's actions as he got to blow out the candle.


Lunch and cake are about all the excitement she could handle for one day so we said our goodbyes and last "Happy Birthdays." And that letter from the President? She got it all right. And promptly threw it away with the explanation, "I don't like that woman. (Michelle)" Advancing age clearly hasn't reined in her feisty nature. Happy Birthday Grandma.