Saturday, December 31, 2011

And on to 2012...

Tim is working tonight and while I had some inquiries, I thought it better to stay home with the minions and call it an early night. With two in bed - we'll have no staying up to see midnight simply so I am saddled with cranky kids tomorrow - I thought I would take this moment of quiet to write about hopes for 2012.

Improve. I was struck by all the people I spoke to (or read their postings) who were, starting tomorrow, going to be a better person, lose weight, whatever. I resolve to make every day a day for resolutions. Not to wait. To make changes for the better every chance I get.

Patience. A quality I lack and one I will continue to pursue while apologizing in advance for not making any progress.

Simplify. So much in life doesn't matter. I hope I can concentrate my efforts on only what does.

Appreciate. I live a charmed existence filled with the best people and experiences for which one could ask. I need to remember that every day.


And I hope that 2011 was everything you wanted it to be. May 2012 exceed all your expectations. Love, Katie

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Countdown to School

No, the days aren't dragging....

Maggie: What are we doing today?
Me: We went to the gym. You wanted to stay home.
Maggie: But what are we doing with the rest of the day?
Me: Assembling the ridiculously expensive Lego that has been occupying my dining room table for two days?
Maggie: That was from Santa.
Me: Don't give me that Santa crap. You lost all credibility when you ratted out the Tooth Fairy.
Maggie: Can we do something else?
Me: What about a movie?
Maggie: I don't want to go to the movies.
Me: How about this - I clean the house, do the laundry, and make dinner while you decide what we can do to quell your boredom.
Maggie: I think I'll go to my room.
Me: Good plan.

Four more days left!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Wrap Up

I love Christmas - cards, present shopping, cooking, parties. But inevitably, all the planning and work leads up to the Big Day and then it is past, leaving you with some serious pick up and cleaning and 364 days until next year's celebration. The good news here is that our holiday totally lived up to the hype and was worth the clean up, which is done - thanks for the help Tim, and we had an excellent time.

Tim's Mom & Dad flew up from Florida a few days before Christmas. Nancy & I did some shopping for the kids and everyone, it seemed, got to make just one last trip to the grocery. 

We had fantastic weather the whole time they were here, high 50's, unless you asked my kids who missed the snow terribly and threatened to move north. Empty threats - they wouldn't survive a real winter. The balmy conditions allowed us to get out and about. We discovered many things are closed on Christmas Eve downtown.

But we had plenty of fun at home anyway.

That night we went to Ann & Hans' for their extended family get together. This new tradition is perfect. Just when you've been cooped up long enough, you get out and have a whole new group of people with whom to talk!

When we arrived home, we made the kids promise not to get up before sunrise and put out all the presents from Santa, who has a nebulous foothold here. We were ready!

As you can see in the pictures of the carnage from the next morning, we should have clarified the sun had to be all the way up.

Eion was tremulous with excitement. We thought he was cold but he said, "I am just too excited for Christmas!"

We seem to have escaped with no major disappointments. It was a blur of lego, clothes, Angry Birds, Robert Pattinson posters, books and assorted Star Wars merchandise.

We had some surprises as well. Maggie got a pair of highly prized Uggs. That she loved them was no surprise. That they fit me was! If the girls outgrow them before they wear them out, I could soon be the recipient of some gently used Uggs. I need to start shoe shopping in the kids' section.

We also found out, sadly, that the much ballyhooed Dippin Dots maker did not include even one mix with which to make said dots. While the fine print on the package did say this, we had not realized that fun was not included. But this disappointment was taken in stride and generally drown out by the glory of Christmas.

That night, we went to an annual Christmas party - always a perfect way to close out the day.

Boxing Day was spent looking for Dots mix, unsuccessfully, and hanging out with family and friends, successfully. Tim is back to work, his parents are back in Florida and the house looks a little stark without all the Christmas gear but it was a great ride this year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Pictures

Alright. We're through hosting parties, basically done shopping, the fridge is full and the house is clean. We are ready for Christmas. Tim's parents arrive tomorrow and their room is ready after booting Morrigan out and undertaking some major cleaning. That girl is a slob.

While we had a picture on the deck for our Christmas card (as you saw a few weeks back,) I like to get "real" Christmas pics taken each year too. When the kids were younger, I would have portraits done more often but as they got older and we all got busier, we are down to birthdays, Easter and Christmas. Some years and sessions are better than others, but, as a picture girl, I'm always happy we went through the trouble.

So without further ado, here is this year's batch, complete with commentary!

The designated picture day was close enough to my birthday that I was able to strong arm Tim into coming with us and being in the pictures - not his favorite thing. But luckily, he loves me a lot and will give in every once in a while. I promised no silly pictures where we were all over the floor. So naturally, this was the first shot:

Oops, sorry Tim. The next one has us off the floor but with a Christmas background that I can't say I love. I did have to buy a copy as I think it is an incredible study in the power of DNA. Could Morrigan look more like me and Maggie like her Dad? (And Mags also looks like she is on drugs. This seems to be her new posed picture look. You'll see it again in the others.)

Then a couple of the kids together:

You thought I was kidding about the flying high look but I totally wasn't. 

Last, some individuals:

With a full house and all the kids home, I may be offline for a few days so let me wish you all a Merry Christmas a few days in advance. I hope your travels are safe and your days are full of love and holiday cheer!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Who Came Up With This %&^%#(& ?

Last night, Eion lost a tooth. It is only his second and he was almost as excited as the first time around. Being a pathologically bad Tooth Fairy, I tried to convince E to leave it in the kitchen. "Really," I assured him, "the Tooth Fairy will appreciate not having to climb the stairs." But no, seeing as she could fly, he was not worried about that. And since we could not locate the Tooth Fairy pillow which generally saves me from rooting around under my children's pillows while trying not to wake them, he was insistent that it had to go under his actual pillow.

I managed to convince him that he should leave it on his dresser so it didn't accidentally get lost. After I kissed him goodnight, I immediately put four quarters next to my toothbrush so as not to neglect my duties.

I got to thinking, who made this crap up? If I had to go back and change one thing I've done as a parent, it would be getting involved in these shenanigans at all. When the kids lost a tooth, just pay them outright and  throw the tooth into the woods so it can go back to the earth.

Alas, it is too late for such a (brilliant) decision and I was stuck feeling around in the dark for a tiny tooth.

Today, E came down the stairs and told me, "YOU are the Tooth Fairy!"

Me: Whatever gave you that idea?
E: Maggie told me.
Me: So next time can we just leave the tooth in the kitchen?
E: Will I still get a dollar?
Me: If I don't have to remember to go get your tooth, you bet.
E: Deal.

And that friends, is the door closing on one of the more moronic chapters of parenthood.

Everything That Glitters

And it is time once again for the Tacky Christmas Sweater party! While I felt all three hostesses, Ann, Kirsten and myself, had some real humdingers, I had no idea the lengths to which our attendees had gone. Behold the Elf on the Shelf come to life and all manner of fabulocity. 

Me, I had just slapped on a really shiny and unflattering Christmas sweater and called it good. It does appear I need to step my game up!

Ann spent the last six weeks infusing vodka with cranberries and other yumminess for our martini of the night. Delicious and deadly - best to stop at one!

It was a fun night to catch up with the girls before (yikes!) the last week before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Concert

Last night was the Holiday Concert for the girls' school. And yes, this was the best picture I could get. Stupid lighting. But anyhow, it was, as ever, an experience. Before they went there, I was used to the average school performances - the kids get up there, they sing off key, parents video as is this were Carnegie Hall. I assumed this was just the way of the world. Ah, but not so, I found out.

Standard behavior includes shouting out to your kids, by name, before, during and after the song their class is singing, regardless of whether or not said child has a solo. And if you are looking for the audience to be silent, forget it. A running commentary on whose kid is where, how well they are doing, and how great their outfit is goes on, at full volume, the entire show.

But then again, I brought the kid (cougheioncough) who was dropping stink bombs so fierce they were causing people near us to comment, "Oh my god, what is that smell?" so who the hell am I to talk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My 40th Birthday Weekend

I would have totally posted this sooner but fell victim to a nasty stomach bug Sunday night which had both myself and Tim bedridden yesterday (and in his case, most of today.) Now there was some free range parenting. As I lay in bed, praying for death, wondering how it could possibly be that my skin hurt, Eion was off on his own, existing entirely on leftover cokes and his gingerbread house. Makes a Mom proud. But they lived and I lived. Sorry for the delay.....

Friday night, we went over to friends Christy and Andrew's to decorate gingerbread houses. Did more candy end up in mouths than on houses? Probably. But fun was had by all.

[Aside: E's hair is starting to look like he is the boy in The Shining again. Need to get on that.]

Saturday morning (read: my 40th birthday) was the Santa brunch at the Club. Thought we may have outgrown it and could skip it but found out otherwise when howls of distress came up from the wee ones here. You see, we were having this little shindig that night and I had plenty to do, but that was not swaying even one child. So off we went.

Now that it is all said and done, I'm happy we went. One of these days, they will outgrow it and the complaints will be mine. That being said, we did need to get home to prepare for THE PARTY.

Our Cocktail Club had a three month stretch where no one wanted to host except us. We originally planned to have our party in October but the kitchen remodel left us exhausted and needing a break. As we considered other dates, we settled on my birthday but I didn't really want to advertise it that way. Bill it as a cocktail party and anyone who knew, that was fine. Mostly I didn't want to have people feeling obligated to bring me stuff. 

We made up the invite list and were in a rather expansive mood. While we wanted each and every invitee to attend, it was the second week of December. There had to be conflicts, and lots of them, right? 

Wrong. That would be 116 confirmed merry-makers. We had some prep work on our hands.

In the end, all but six of those people showed up. But there are worse problems to have. You could plan a huge party on your 40th birthday and no one shows up. Not to mention, we loved it. Kirsten took over my normal position as team photographer and left me with tons of great pictures, but you only need a few to see there were smiles abound.

(Just look at that Tim wearing his holiday pants I love so much!)

Facebook had clued a whole lot of people in to the birthday part of the day but other than the idea that this meant I should do shots, that was ok too.

I am not sure the evening could have gone by faster. It was a blast. It's been a while too since we threw a party and heard, "Wow, I haven't been to a party like this since college." which, whether they meant it that way or not, I am taking a high praise. One party guest told me they could hear the house "thrumming" from the street. We had fun. To top it all off, we had successfully farmed out all three kids for the night. (Thank you, thank you for that very special gift, friends!)

The next day, it was massive clean up, sadly starting at 7:30. I seem unable to sleep in. Then Maggie and I were off to a Mother Daughter tea.

This may indeed be the only moment these girls 
strayed from the chocolate fountain.

Last stop: Super Supper Club!

Not surprisingly, it was an early night - we had all been up past our bedtimes the night before. Best anyway since I ended up later ill with the sickness that postponed this post. But even given falling prey to a virus, it was just about the best birthday weekend for which a girl, or according to my kids, an old woman, could hope.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Me and the E

Eion and I have, I mean get, to spend an awful lot of time together these days. A lot. And certainly, there are days when I think I might gouge my eyes out if I hear one more sentence that starts with "Mom..." [Or better yet, "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom!"] But overall, he's been a champ.

When it comes to getting his learn on, things are going swimmingly. Reading and math are chugging right along and we have finished the Virginia science and social studies SOL topics for 1st grade in their entirety. That has E especially stoked as we are now free to move on to explore anything we want. First stop: outer space!

But what may have been an even bigger part of his problems in the 1st grade was a simple lack of maturity. On that front, I'm hoping we're making some progress too. He wants to be my little assistant all the time. Just yesterday, we had to drop off a (postage already attached) package at the FedEx store. He insisted on taking it in alone. I could see him through the glass while I waited in the car. While everything shiny seemed to distract him, he eventually made it to the counter, successfully delivered the box, and returned triumphant with a receipt.

At our next stop, we needed to pick up some shredded cheese (home made pizza for dinner!) We were just at our local little (beloved) grocer, Tinnell's, and I knew E couldn't reach where the cheese was and I was unconvinced he would select the right cheese. We went in together and I had just picked up the mozzarella when Eion sprang into action. "Mama, give me the cheese and I can buy it while you wait in the car." Seeing as we have a charge account there (one of the many reasons for the beloved status) I figured he could handle it. I waited outside until E completed the transaction and joined me.

Not every day is like that but I keep hoping these incidents are signs of maturity to come. For so long he had no interest at all in being anything other than a baby. And in spite of the fact that he did request payment for his services, I'm going to call it improvement!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Decline

From the trips to school files....

Morrigan: How old will you be on your next birthday Mom?
Me: I'll be forty.
Morrigan: Ah forty, the age at which people reach their peak and begin the slow, inevitable decline. [I'm not kidding, that is a direct quote.]
Me: I was hoping I had a few productive years left.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Free Range Success Stories

The whole free range kids concept was appealing to me from the start in part because I was already espousing many of the tenents already. But putting real, hard core freeing of children into practice? Not as easy a path, but one so far, filled with success.

Friday, much to the girls' chagrin, we stayed at the playground after school so Eion could play with other kids. One of Maggie's friends wanted to stay and play but the girl's sister did not. So her Mom granted her permission to stay and told her to walk home afterwards. I was about to say, don't worry about it, I'll drive her, when I realized that walking two blocks, in arguably one of the safest neighborhoods in America, was completely appropriate for a nine year old. When we left, we sent her on her merry way. And she survived!

Yesterday, Morrigan was, largely independently, baking cookies. She was halfway through the baking process when we realized it was time to pick Maggie up from a party at the Y. We were about to divide and conquer when we rethought it, and decided she could finish baking on her own. As we drove way, we considered the worst possible outcomes. The first was that she would burn down the house. While bad, we considered this unlikely. She could also burn her hand or arm. This was more likely, but if she was to become a cook, was going to happen eventually. [I personally have two scars on my arm from the oven, both of which I gained after the age of thirty.] I told Tim she would call us if she burned herself. Ah, he pointed out, not if she had burned her hands too badly to dial the phone!

We fretted a bit and prepared for the worst.

When we returned home, the house was not aflame, she had finished baking, turned off the oven and stood triumphantly with her cookies. I'm not sure she had ever  looked so proud.

Now Eion, he may need some work. I found a booklet on the table last night. When I asked E where it came from, he replied, "Some stranger brought it to the door." But he's still alive too.