Thursday, September 29, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I am sure you do. It is the sound of overjoyed McK family members at the completion of our kitchen renovation!!!! [If you are one of my hometown peeps, the contractor was Dan McMurtry. Would love to link him, but he lacks a website. Send me an email for his number if you want it.]

I adore the big, one tub sink and high faucet. The shade blocks the beautiful mountain view but sometimes it just gets too sunny and hot in there. It tends to be up as much as possible.

We need some new bar stools to accommodate the high island but haven't gotten to that just yet.

Overall, just couldn't be happier! In spite of the fact that we were heavily involved in the design process, it turned out great anyway. And we came in pretty darn close to budget! 

Maggie's Birthday: Part 2

Quick - pop quiz. Maggie is having a birthday party. Where is it? 

Why Chuck E Cheese of course! So on the second day I had a functional kitchen, I was at CEC having pizza for dinner. And of course, beer.

As ever, CEC wins for sheer convenience. We walked in on a Friday, armed with nothing but a debit card, had a great party, and didn't have to clean up.

E was representing for the Lost Ark...

And Mags had an excellent time filled with cake, plastic crowns, medallions and large rodents.

Why, after so many other family parties, are we here again? I am firmly convinced it is the fault of the Ticket Blaster, a CEC new addition since Maggie's last party there.

She dominated, garnering enough tickets for her AND her sister to get whoopee cushions. Perfect.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Maggie Turns 8

But naturally, before we get to the children, let's cover the kitchen. [In this particular instance, quasi-related.] As of close of business last night, we have a functional kitchen! Including but not limited to: a stove, a fridge, a sink (with water!), a hood, a dishwasher and a microwave!!! 

Not to mention my island light, that I love. Even got a somewhat backhanded compliment from some of the contractors stating, "It really looks better than we thought it would." Ye of little faith.

Which brings us to the irony of the year. It was also Maggie's 8th birthday. In spite of a party planned for the following day, she really wanted to go to Kabuki for her birthday. She had never been there, but her friend Luke had sufficiently hyped it to make it the only thing she wanted to do. So on the first night I had a functional kitchen in a month, we went out to eat.

And it was totally worth it. The kids had never been to such a place and found all the jokes and tricks hilarious. They even tried (and liked) shrimp. They brought out ice cream and the staff sang and Maggie was on top of the world.

When we arrived home, we even got to eat cake in our kitchen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


So, I guess it does fall under the embarrassing parenting failures to have kids ages 10, 7, and 6, none of whom can ride a bike without training wheels. Now I have a laundry list of excuses, many valid, including our mountainous location, kids unwilling to try or learn, and general parental fatigue with the whole issue. But behold, we have a child who can now ride!

The really funny thing was, after all these years, she pretty much learned in a half an hour. Mags is now riding all up and down the street and wants to ride as often as possible. (Don't worry, after the first day on the cul-de-sac, we bought her a helmet.)

Eion, seen here badly in need of a haircut, is riding with the training wheels elevated and making progress, though still to afraid to ride without them entirely. He is non plussed by his flowered bike which I guess is an upgrade from his last hand me down bike that was pink.

And don't worry again, we cut his hair yesterday.

On even more exciting fronts (or equally exciting, depending on your perspective,) we have counters!!!!

Word on the street is we will have a sink, stove and dishwasher tomorrow. If all goes to plan, our kitchen will be fully operational by the weekend. Thank you sweet baby Jesus.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

He's Different

We've long maintained that Eion was sent to us by god to ensure our humility. Without him, I would be out in the world with my two bright, generally well-mannered and largely sweet girls, observing people with wild children thinking, "They should really control those kids." But alas, that smug dream was shattered by E, who ensures that rather than being able to dole it out, I am the recipient of such scorn on a regular basis. [Anyone who has been reading for the past few years can back me up. If you missed those fun times, go back to Life Under the Big Top. The evidence is there.]

He really is the perfect nature vs nurture test case. Before I had kids, I was all about nurture. Surely no child was born destined to be a certain way. If you give them the proper environment, they could be anything, do anything. But nature was laughing and waiting for me, ready to show how you can raise three children exactly the same way and get three outcomes, one of which was determined to take being an asshole to a new level.

Which brings us to Thursday. I was at the tennis shop, reveling in my team's second undefeated week when I got a call from school. It was Mrs. B, the gifted and talented resource coordinator for Crystal Spring. She, having met Maggie and Morrigan, was under the mistaken impression that our third child would be anything like them. I could hear the confusion in her voice when she described how Eion would not do any work. Not matter what she did, he flat out refused to participate. And while not participating, here's the coup de grace, he sat sullenly, picking his nose and (shudder) eating it. For two weeks in a row.

Mrs. B was perplexed. She told me how he really only had three more weeks to show if he had the intellectual stuff to make it into TAG (talented and gifted) which was a good route to entrance to PLATO where his sisters were. 

"Well," I said, "he's kind of that guy. We, uh, weren't really expecting him to get into TAG. He hasn't exactly been lighting the academic world on fire." Now, I certainly went on to describe the hellfire he could expect to rain down on him that afternoon and the revocation of video game privileges to which he would be subject but warned as well that it might not work. I told her we would use everything in our arsenal to make sure he acts in a respectful manner but sometimes, he is just impossible to change. 

I got the feeling this was not the answer she was expecting.

So we're on day three of no video games and I had Mrs. B send home the work he refused to do so I could make him complete it. It looks like we are in for a long year. And I blame nature.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Are You Ready

For some football! One of our longtime poker playing friends set up a fantasy football league this fall. Looking at the email, I assumed it was a couples-as-team kind of thing and signed us up. Considering Tim is in another league this year, he would have all the research done and I would just get to run my mouth and talk smack to the other teams.

Not so fast Katie.

It was individuals. D'oh! I knew how fantasy football worked in general but have been a little too busy to keep up with the preseason to know which players were hot draft picks. Luckily for me and all the other novices, they have auto-draft which will choose for you if the pressure was too much. As the draft approached, I didn't know if I would wimp out that way or attempt to form my own squad, but it was a solid fallback plan.

Then the renovations threw a wrench in my plans. Draft day was one of the nights we were staying with Jerry and Melanie. Leaving my three kids with them while I went to a fantasy football party was too far for even me to go so I told Tim to head out without me and just put me on auto-draft. He alleges he felt guilty (the jury is out) and asked if he could take Jerry with him. In a rather odd way, it made me feel better not to send him alone. And with that, I abdicated responsibility for selecting my team (though I did tell Jerry that if he wanted to just hang out, auto-draft was a-ok.)

Melanie and I hung out and had some wine when the texts along the lines of "hope you like New York" started coming in. As I pulled up my roster, it was clear indeed that a New Jersey native and Giants fan had played a part. While most team lists have a colorful variety of logos from across the NFL, mine were, by and large, the Jets and Giants. When I questioned what a Raven was doing on my team, Jerry let me know that Rice went to Rutgers. Of course!

Seeing as how I had no expectation of fielding a winning team on my own, not to mention the league is for bragging rights only and maybe an awesome trophy, I decided to go with it. My season, it did appear, was going to hinge on having a subway Superbowl.

Sunday rolls around and the first match is on. My team, Master of Panic, was up against Lil D. Much to my surprise, I found myself obsessively tracking my team's progress and routinely updating Jerry as I feel like we're in this together now. Not only did I/we win, we did so with authority, scoring the second highest number of points in the league. I guess my only possible response is go Jets, go Giants, and go Rutgers alumni! [And maybe a little haha for those who mocked my team :)]


I've been feeling decidedly uninspired these days. Either that or I have chosen to spare you the minute by minute updates on the status of my home. Either way, haven't felt like writing much these days. We can place blame squarely on my lack of new subject matter, for I believe there is a limit to your patience when hearing of my ongoing battles with dust, and the fact that my office has been doubling as a kitchen and general gathering area. Nothing spoils a writing mood more than one of the minions peering over my shoulder asking, "What do you mean you're going to kill yourself and us if we don't have running water in the kitchen soon?"

We continue to be the gracious recipients of the largesse of our friends, without whom I might have completely gone over the edge by now. And best yet, we have furniture again! You think being without a kitchen sucks and then you realize that's nothing compared to not having a kitchen AND having no place to sit. The take out tastes so much better when we're not crowded in the office.

Friday, September 9, 2011

We're Getting There

Where were we last....ah yes! Dust and destruction. Well we've made some major progress. The family room is done (save a few curtain rods.) 

We had to move in with Mel and Jerry for one more night in order to get those shiny floors but they are worth it. We have some movers coming Monday to bring all our furniture back in. I was willing to move everything out with Tim but I'll be damned if I am going to risk scratching the floors. Not to mention, we have some heavy stuff. It will be money well spent. 

In addition to furniture, we will also have a fridge in the house again. Keeping things cold, check. Hot? Not so much.

The cabinets are in but the granite is going to hold up the show for about a week and a half. So no stove or water. But I am still thrilled that I will have somewhere to sit. Baby steps people.

And the kids! I know they aren't getting much press these days (who can compete with a remodel?) but they are still here. They too are excited about the prospect of furniture. School is going well so far. E is apparently being very good. (I swear - I interrogated his teacher.) He's back to Tae Kwon Do and swimming and is, thus far, complaint free, a status expected to last minutes at best.

Maggie is a bit put out that she has to work at her new school but is coping ok. I think she was so used to everything coming easily that the challenges are a bit frustrating. She took it as a downright failure that she needed help with one assignment. 

School doesn't bother Morrigan but the after school activities, ugh. After years of trying to direct them to What I Know Is Best, I totally freaking gave up and let them self direct. I was trying to pin her down on what she wants to do when she broke into tears and cried "I hate sports!" So here is the dilemma, we want her to be physically active but, as a klutz myself, I completely understand hating sports. We ended up telling her she didn't have to participate in organized sports but would need to go on walks or something other than lay on the sofa with her nose in a book. We'll see how that all works out. 

As for yours truly, I am once again a (paid) writer! My second article was published in a local paper, The South Roanoke Circle. (You'll find me on page three.) The topic is a bit controversial and I was (very very) nervous about how my neighbors would react. To date, I've only heard good things but then again, who the hell is going to come up and tell me I suck? 

Goodness, this post is all over the place which I think is a direct reflection of the status of my brain these days. I'll endeavor to straighten it all out by my next post - but no promises.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's a Start

Well, we have some progress:

Certainly not in that we-can-live-in-this-space or, god forbid, cook-in-this-space way but we're on the right path. And thank goodness we weren't planning on using the dining room anytime soon.

Meanwhile, we have taken up near permanent residence at Tom & Kirsten's. They kindly took me and the kids in on Friday after school while Tim was working. Then Saturday, the plan was to head out to the Club and go to the pool. A plan that was completely thwarted by a downed tree in the pool which facebook told us about mere minutes before we were about to make the trek out.  We had a decent sized pool bound contingent who were suddenly without plans. But never fear - it was K & T to the rescue, offering their own pool up as our new destination! While afternoon rain eventually broke up the party, we had plenty of pool fun before the storm hit. And I am pretty sure that after the last two days, I have spent more time at their pad than my own this weekend. We are going to owe lots and lots of dinners.

Friday, September 2, 2011

These Are My Confessions

I'm not a big disposable container kind of girl. Or for that matter, a ziplock or paper towel person. While I may not always fall on the "green" side (i.e. doubter of man made global warming, driver of a land yacht) I am firmly committed to eliminating unneeded waste from my life. For many a year now, lunches have been packaged in reusable plastic containers with drinks in metal bottles.

Well, the lack of kitchen has changed all of that. My packing of lunches in our office has made me move to the side of convenience, landfills be damned. We maintain the water bottles but have fallen to single serving, individually wrapped carrots and chips. Not to mention the peanut butter sandwiches in ziplocks.

And it is so nice.

Wait, did I say so nice? I meant so unbelievably awesome.

Rather than cleaning out nine to twelve containers every afternoon, I do nothing. A quick rinse of the water bottle and you are out. Realistically, even that could wait seeing as water doesn't get all smelly or gross. Knowing myself, there is no way in hell I can produce that amount of trash daily on a long term basis, especially when I have a kitchen back. But I can say that I understand the allure of the disposable society. Shoot, if I could get my kids to eat school lunches, I might turn to the dark side and never come back.

Fortunately for me (and the landfills), my kids are completely averse to school lunches and I will (god willing) soon have a kitchen again. In the meantime, I will quietly love the shortcuts.

Did I Say A Little Help?

When I said we are getting by with a little help, I have to amend that to a lot. Tons. More than we deserve. So here's the update from the land of no kitchen, lots of dust and really freaking noisy.

First up in the help department are Amy & Sean and Kirsten & Tom who both graciously fed us last weekend when, as a family, we discovered how very much we hate eating out. I believe the children's exact words were, "This totally sucks." Here we are waiting for a table at Thelma's Chicken and Waffles which in spite of having the best food in town continues to have s-l-o-w service.

Both families saved us from restaurants and tolerated my children's picky eating habits. Mega Big thank you there.

Then came the first day of school. All children were happily off to their respective schools. Tim and I were happily off on a seven mile walk.

I was the tiniest bit taken aback when Maggie's school called and asked what bus Margaret would be taking home. My response was "Who the hell is Margaret?" Apparently, she's decided she needs a more formal name. Though I have been assured we can still call her Maggie at home.

Monday was also the day they came to sand and seal the floors meaning we had to evacuate. Insert help from friends part two!

Melanie and Jerry graciously offered to have our entire family sleep over the two days while we had to be out of the house. Above and beyond doesn't even cover it. And then when mistakes were make and the floors were going to take two more days, I wasn't even off the phone with the contractor before Mel was telling me to do whatever we needed and stay as long as we like. We are reaching a level of permanent indebtedness that may never be repaid.

Though the kids thought it was a blast - like a four day playdate!

Admittedly, the adults had fun too. That kegerator is really convenient. And hopefully, we didn't jack up their lives too much. A million thank yous there too!

As to the status of the house, we have walls again and the floors are done, save one more coat of polyurethane. 

Painting and cabinets are going on today before the three day weekend. And we are back home, albeit with no cooking capacity. Thelma's, here we come!