Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of the Year, the End of the Decade

For the last two years, on December 31st, I have written in a family journal about our year. Our ages, our visitors, our trips, the kids' teachers' names, their activities, our jobs, our cars, our favorite restaurants and the like. I'll do it again tonight. And everyone will sign their name to our little family history.

So, I wasn't going to recap the year here - but then I saw all the other blogs doing it. And recapping the decade while they were at it. So, of course, I couldn't resist.

2009 was, well, interesting. I wouldn't call it great. Parts of it really sucked. But I think, when we look back at it in a year or two, we might identify it as the start of good times. I hope so at least.

The year:

* J's company shut the doors and he took about four months off of work. Which means he was home with us all day, every day for four months. And we're still married. Win!
* He started with a brand spankin' new company at the end of July in a huge leap of faith. Luckily, I share the faith but it has been hard, financially and otherwise. He's back to working very long hours.
* We celebrated 10 years of marriage in October. Took a long weekend to San Francisco to celebrate.
* Continued freelance writing (best year yet)
* Hit the tipping point on the KC Kids Fun site, great traffic, great advertiser response
* Launched a new business doing social media marketing for local businesses and am overwhelmed by the immediate response and work
* Got the little guys started in two days of Mothers' Day Out and reclaimed a little bit of my adult life and sanity
* Learned a lot about pediatric psych and social development issues (wish I didn't have to but you gotta do what you gotta do...)
* Spent a night in the hospital watching over my sick child (just one night, first ever and it was an asthma attack that calmed down fairly quickly - made me so, so thankful for the continued good health of all four of my babies)
* Planned and attended my 20-year high school reunion (Holy crap.)

The decade:
* Rang in the new decade with my new husband
* Got pregnant
* Had (very early) miscarriage
* Switched law firms
* Moved from first house to second house
* Got pregnant again and gave birth to a 10 lb, 4 oz baby boy
* Got pregnant again (whoops!)and gave birth to a more normal-sized baby girl
* Became partner in my law firm
* Paid off my student loans (all $85k of them. Christ.)
* Decided to quit my job as partner in my law firm to hang out with my kids
* Got pregnant again
* Found out it was twins
* Moved from second house to third house
* Gave birth to an 8 lb baby boy and an almost 6 lb baby boy on the same day
* Started freelance writing
* Started KCKidsFun with a friend
* Started K2Media with the same friend
* Stood by husband as he weathered two job changes and a horrible economy
* Watched my husband fulfill a lifelong dream of playing in a band and being adored by fans (and they are adorable - www.facebook.com/rockshowkc)
* Witnessed my children morph from little beans on a sonogram to lumps of cuteness to amazingly smart, funny, sanity-challenging, non-stop-talking, piano-playing, joke-telling, athletic (some more so than others), beautiful people

At the risk of sounding a bit melodramatic and of jinxing my good fortune, I thank God and everyone in my life for these blessings.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I think I'm actually going to shut down the ole innernets for the holidays now...here's a pic of my blessed angels. (I'm currently hiding in the office, trying not to kill each and every friggin one of the "angels" before Santa can get here. Day FOUR of winter break, people. Day FOUR. OMG.)

This is the photo on my Christmas cards, which were just mailed yesterday. Oh, do I ever have my shit together this year...

Anyway, Merry Christmas. I hope that yours is happy and peaceful and whatever you wish it to be.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where I'm From..."It's Complicated"

You know, on Facebook, the relationship setting "It's Complicated"? I generally see people use it for comic effect. A few use it as an earnest description of their situation. I'm not sure exactly why, when you can choose to not list a relationship status entirely. Whatever.

"It's Complicated" is an apt description of where I'm "from" though. I generally describe myself as "from" Kansas City. My father was born and raised here. My mother was born and raised just about an hour north of here. I lived in the Kansas City metro (or in Atchison, the aforementioned hometown of my mom) from infancy until nursery school, then again from first grade to second grade and then from ninth grade until now (with seven years of college and law school thrown in there somewhere).

Most of my family is here in Kansas City. Even when my family lived elsewhere during my childhood, we visited Kansas City. My childhood summer memories are of the Kansas City Zoo and Worlds of Fun and the Plaza and Brookside. I know every part of town inside and out. I've lived and/or worked in every metro county.

Kansas City is my home and my history. And I am thankful it is.

But here's the catch: I have another "hometown" where I lived for nursery school, kindergarten and second grade (well, half of it) through most of ninth grade. And it feels like home too. In fact, it's a lot more "homey" than Johnson County.

I miss it and crave it sometimes. I came across some photos of my hometown, Rocky Hill, Connecticut, today. I'm sharing them with you for old times' sake.

The public library where I learned to love books and got my first library card. It had a metal plate with my raised library number on it and a special sleeve to keep it safe. The original library was enlarged at some point when I was in elementary school. It used to be just the part of the building to the far left of this picture.

The library is just down the street from this, the Congregational Church where I went to nursery school. It was built in 1808. And is awesome.

Newer and uglier is St. James Church, the church where I received First Communion and listened to the Saturday Mass folk group sing "One Tin Soldier" for a long time. It was just down the street from our second house. (The interior has been slightly remodeled since I was there.)

The exterior of St. James Church.

This is the Episcopal Church. Almost everyone in town was Catholic. My next-door neighbors went to the Congregational Church for a while. I can recall two kids in my class that went to this church. I knew one Jewish girl. Everyone else? Catholic. (Mostly Italian-Catholic) Anyway, I took tap in their community room when I was pre-K.

This is the ferry. It is the oldest continually-running ferry in the United States. There are several bridges now that make the ferry really just a fun activity now as opposed to a transportation need. Runs across the river to Glastonbury.

Parts of town date back to the 1700's. Houses are preserved.

And treasured. As opposed to here, where old means bad and most things get torn down and replaced as they age. It's a horrible shame. The history in Rocky Hill (and the east coast in general) is a beautiful thing.

The population there now is about 19,000. I think it was more like 16,000 when I was growing up there. The school district boundaries were the town boundaries. There were two (and a half) elementary schools, one junior high and one high school. The town rallied behind the high school soccer and basketball teams (no football). It was small-town living and it was really, really great.

I think Kansas City is a great place. I'm so happy that my children have the benefit of our schools and all of the other things this city offers for families. I love how affordable life is here.

But I am sad that my kids won't get that small town upbringing. It's something special. And not complicated.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We're All Stars Now in the Dope Show*

J and I had date night tonight. He really wanted to see a movie - so we found a sitter, bought some tickets online and set out.

We left a bit early, too early to go to the theater. So, I suggested we stop for a beer. He said "No, let's find a bookstore." Huh?

Bookstores are my gig. He makes fun of me for wanting to spend even part of an evening out poking around a bookstore. But, whatever. It was nice.

We headed to the theater a while later. Got our tickets to see The Blind Side (which was good despite Sandra Bullock's blonde hair and Tim McGraw's hair piece) and waded through the lobby full of angsty New Moon-awaiting teenagers to theater 17. Which was fairly full. We managed to find two seats next to a family: parents and two teenage boys.

While waiting for the movie to start, I noticed the kid next to me get a text on his phone. Being the inherently nosy person I am, I sideways-glanced to read the text. I missed the incoming text but got to read the response. Which was this:

"Dude, I'm at a movie but if you come by around 10 or 11, I'll sell you an 1/8."

What?! Are you fucking kidding me? I was sitting next to a little shithead drug dealer at the movies. And he was closing drug deals while hanging out WITH HIS MOM.

The next few texts involved how expensive the last shit he sold this guy was, whether he could just get a blunt tonight and when he could get it.

About an hour into the movie, my little movie neighbor conveniently excused himself for a few minutes. He didn't have to pee, y'all. I'm relatively sure he came back from the lobby with a little extra cash in his pocket.

I seriously sat there and contemplated whether to tell his parents on the way out of the theater that their son was a dope pusher. I didn't, of course, because I'm a pussy.

What would you have done?

*Apologies to Marilyn Manson for stealing his song lyric

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Happens While I'm Working...

I've been doing some work this morning. My two-and-a-half year old twins decided to dress themselves. Here is their handiwork:



(It is currently 40 degrees and damp outside, by the way.)

They also decided to cover my bathroom carpet with a healthy layer of shaving cream and Rain-X. Why do people put carpet in bathrooms?

Good morning.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm Not Even Sure What to Say About This

My first grader has library check-out on Thursdays. She's turned into a little reading machine over the last month.

I open her door at 10:00pm to cover her up, only to find her lying in bed, finishing the last chapter of a Magic Tree House book (her current faves). She staggers to breakfast in the morning, tired because she stays up so late reading. She takes books in the car, reading Shel Silverstein aloud to me or taking in a few quick chapters of something if she can find a chair to sit in while I shop.

She likes fiction and non-fiction. She likes poetry and prose.

I was interested and amused to find this as one of her school library selections this week:



Weird, no?

(She has no idea who Oprah is, by the way. "I just wanted to learn about this lady.")

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Instructions on How to Start the Day Right

* This one's goin' out to Amy in Delray Beach...

Step 1 - Watch this video (You'll have to click the link because the owners of the video apparently don't allow embedding. Total jackasses.) but - VERY IMPORTANT - fast-forward to the 21 second mark and watch to the end. Everything before then is ridiculous and stupid.

Step 2 - Repeat. As many times as your mood requires.

There you go.

Enjoy.

sigh...I caught this during a football game this weekend on TV and had the vapors for about 20 minutes.

(I just can't believe he went to freaking Mizzou)

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Brief Conversation with My Eldest Child. On Steroids.

My oldest is on day three of five days of an oral steroid. He's battling a barky, croupy cough. The steroid is supposed to help.

And it also makes him a bit hyper and squirrely. He won't stop talking.

Our conversations go a little something like this:

What if my name was Eugene?
- Okay...
I guess I would live on a ship.
- What?
Because I like sailing and throwing up.
- Huh.
Remember Stuart Little.
- Yeah.
It's about a mouse. If I were a mouse, I would scare you.
- Okay.
Now, I will do a coin trick.

Annnnnnnnnnd, scene.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Someone at Avery is A Little Twisted

I was at Staples today. Shopping for report covers. And then I browsed the label aisle because I like labels. I spied this gem in the label display.


(Sorry for the crappy pics - the camera on my phone sucks.)

A closer look, in case you couldn't see the sample address on the packaging:



Don't know who Tyler Durden is? Don't be ashamed. Apparently, the supervisors at Avery don't either.

Tyler Durden is a character in Chuck Palahniuk's novel Fight Club. Not ringing a bell? Brad Pitt in the movie Fight Club.

Wikipedia describes the character as "[a] charismatic but nihilistic neo-Luddite and anarcho-primitivist with a strong hatred for consumer culture."

Just the right sample name for your mailing label packaging, right? Heh. I scoured the other label packages and didn't find any other pop culture references. Not a one. I love it.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Watch This.

Dude. Seriously?

Maybe you've already seen this video. Apparently, these young girls performed at the halftime of an Army-Navy basketball game in February.

Amazing. I smiled. I laughed. I gasped. I said "holy crap" out loud. I cried (I'll admit, I'm a total sap. But the sight of those cadets and midshipmen cheering like maniacs for little girls jumping rope? Verklempt over here.) And, I ultimately felt like an uncoordinated, out-of-shape mom of four whose pelvic floor muscles are too compromised after multiple pregnancies to even think about jumping rope for eight minutes without Depends (Did I just say that out loud? Moms of three and four kids, I know you know what I'm talking about though...)

Enough about my bladder. Here they are:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ten Years


My husband and I were lucky enough to get away for four days this past weekend. San Francisco. Our ten-year anniversary.

We had a good time. It was nice to be kid-less for a few days. It was nice to sleep in and take naps. It was nice to explore a city we've never visited. And to eat and drink non-stop.

But mostly, it was nice to spend four whole days with the person I chose to share my life's journey with. I'm not generally a sappy person but, hey, ten years. I am very lucky to have found this man. We're not perfect. But it works.

I love him more today than I did the day I married him. We're a good team. We understand each other. We enjoy each other. And, the craziness of every day life can obscure that sometimes. But we do a pretty good job of recharging - even just by going on a date from time to time. This weekend was a solid recharge.

One funny thing we did this weekend: I found the notebooks we wrote in during our Engaged Encounter weekend ten years ago. I packed them and we read them in our hotel room the night of our anniversary. We laughed pretty hard. Neither of us wanted to attend Engaged Encounter but it was required by the Church. So, the notebooks were full of a lot of bitching and moaning about it. But the parts that were actually serious (or semi-serious) were fairly interesting.

We apparently were encouraged to write about our partner's areas for improvement. And in both notebooks, our complaints about one another, written ten years ago, could have been written yesterday. At our core, we haven't changed a bit. But we have changed the ways in which we deal with those complaints.

And here we are. Ten years later. My heart and my life are full. I am blessed.

Looking forward to the next ten.

(My San Francisco pics are here on Flickr.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words?

I needed a camera to take to the American Royal BBQ last night (my husband's band was playing). And I was experiencing a camera deficit. My point-and-shoot is kinda broken. It still takes pictures but the LCD screen is busted (as a result of being squished between my butt and an amusement park ride this summer). And my DSLR is at my sister's house.

So, I borrowed M's camera (which was a hand-me-down point-and-shoot we gave her for her birthday). Before I left though, I cleared her memory card. Saved its contents to my hard drive and wiped it clean.

Today, I sat down to look at what she shot. Here is life from the perspective of my 6-year-old:











Stuffed animals. Dolls. And herself. A pretty apt description of her world, at least as she currently knows it.

And then I also found this little gem:

M's Blair Witch Project from Kate McKinney on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Quick Vent about Roman Polanski

I know I don't usually write here about non-family-related stuff but I just read an article that made my blood boil. I've been casually following the Roman Polanski arrest story in the news. For the uninitiated, Polanski had sex with a 13-year-old girl after plying her with champagne and drugs. He took topless pictures of her at Jack Nicholson's house before taking her first to a hot tub and then to Nicholson's bedroom.

Why the child was there at Nicholson's home is rather inconsequential to the story but apologists surely point out that she was a young teen willing to drink, take pills and pose topless for a much-older man, that she was likely promiscuous, blah blah blah. Yes, she was clearly troubled or, at least, poorly parented.

Polanski ended up pleading guilty to the crime of unlawful sexual intercourse - the elements of which are basically the same as what we call "statutory rape". Unlike a charge of forcible rape, statutory rape doesn't require that the victim did not consent to the sexual activity/intercourse. However (a big however), the law assumes that children do not have the capacity to consent. At all.

A child can NEVER consent to sex under the law. This is because of the emotional power that adults hold over children - they can say "yes" because they're scared, because they've been manipulated, because they've been brainwashed, because they've been previously abused and are emotionally debilitated, because they don't know better. But they are absolutely not old enough or mature enough to understand the greater implications of saying "yes" or even to understand that they can say "no".

Before Polanski could be sentenced (he faced up to 20 years in prison), he fled the country and hasn't been back to the United States in 32 years. He was arrested this week in Switzerland and awaits extradition.

Hollywood is abuzz with the bizarre self-righteous indignation only those in Hollywood can understand. Polanski is apparently a cultural hero. He makes brilliant movies. He survived the Holocaust. His pregnant wife was horribly murdered by Charles Manson's followers. (Side note: If you've never read Helter Skelter before, I thought it was really good - but don't read it when your husband goes out of town. It's hard to sleep with one eye open...holy crap that book is frightening.)

So apparently that makes it okay to rape a child. Don't do it again. Avoid apprehension for 32 years. Make movies that people admire.

Whoopi Goldberg referenced the crime as not being "rape-rape" on The View. Disgusting. She clearly hasn't read the grand jury testimony from the case. And I venture to guess if the 43-year-old landscaper who mows her yard had sex with her 13-year-old granddaughter, she'd think it was "rape-rape". By the way, 13 years old is middle school, people. A 43-year-old and a 7th grader.

So, this morning, I read a quote in the news from Polanski's former sister-in-law. She apparently told the Today Show that the sex was consensual and that he won't be able to receive a fair trial in the United States because our justice system is broken.

Say what you will about the justice system, but I think this woman - like most of Hollywood - is delusional and sick. 7th graders can't have consensual sex with 43-year-old men. And, no, he won't receive a fair trial.

That's because he won't receive a trial at all. HE PLEADED GUILTY TO A CRIME ALREADY. He sat in a courtroom in 1977 and admitted to his crime. He admitted that he had sex with her. He admitted that he knew she was 13. He acknowledged that he was waiving his right to a trial and that he faced a potential 20 year prison sentence. HE IS GUILTY. AND HE ADMITTED IT TO THE COURT. He doesn't get a trial now.

I'm just so dumbfounded at the reaction to this I don't even know what else to say, so I'll stop. Am I missing something? Is there really some logically excuse or justification for letting him off the hook on this?

Grand Jury Transcript here
Guilty Plea Transcript here

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Do It Myself


I can recall saying to mothers of other toddlers, "I thought age 3 was WAY worse than age 2 for my kids." But I couldn't remember exactly why.

My babies will be three in January. And now I remember.

"I do it myself."

All day. Every day. Times two.

Slowly leading me to to insanity.

Picking out clothes? I do it myself.
Taking off and putting on clothes? I do it myself.
Taking off and putting on socks and shoes? Yep. I do it myself.
Opening the door to the garage.
Hitting the garage door opener button.
Opening the car door.
Putting on car seat straps.
Buckling car seat straps.
Getting out of the car.
Closing the car door.
Opening doors at stores and restaurants.
Wiping nose.
Packing backpack.

I do it myself. (Note: Often, there is only one thing to do - like close the car door. So, then we have to open and close the car door twice - because, well, there's two of them and they both want to do it themselves.)

I am now late to everything. Every time.

I know that this is a phase. And I know that allowing them to do these things encourages them to be independent people. And that is good. But it is also extremely frustrating. Infuriating even, at times.

If only they would decide that the bathroom was the place to "do it myself". The last frontier, I guess...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reality

I had a great conversation with the mom of one of M's classmates the other night. Mom-mom relationships are an interesting thing. Lots of judging (or at least, perceived judging) over in the elementary-school-mom-social-scene. Rah-rah moms, moms who seem to live at the gym, moms that look a little too perfect. (See? Me. Judging.)

Anyway, M's friend's mom and I had a real conversation. About being frustrated with kids. About yelling. About trying not to swear in front of the kids. I know these parents are involved with their kids and have fun with their kids and adore their kids. But it was refreshing to hear another mom talk about the same daily frustrations and lost tempers as happen at our house.

A little bit of validation goes a long way. (Not that I don't still wish that I handled my frustrations better - but I'm gonna try to stop laying a guilt trip at my own feet.)

I think we all put on some sort of facade to strangers and acquaintances. And it's nice when you find people that you can let a bit of that guard down.

My husband and my sisters and probably my mom are about the only people who see and understand the "real" me. The truth about me? I'm a little bit weird, a little bit silly, a little bit insecure, pretty smart, kinda geeky, a little bit ADD, fairly disorganized, a substantial procrastinator and I swear. A lot.

I watch a strange variety of television - Mad Men, Top Chef, Grey's Anatomy, The Ultimate Fighter, Entourage, America's Next Top Model and Glee. Yes, I said The Ultimate Fighter.

I've never seen an episode of Dancing with the Stars. I don't think Ellen Degeneres is a good choice for the new Idol judge.

My purse and my car and my desk are cluttered. But I can find anything I'm looking for in those spaces.

I bite my fingernails. And I went to an all-women's college. I'm a bit obsessive in a cyclical fashion.

I'm pretty much a dork but I can act like a non-dork when out among civilians.

The reality is that we are all a bit different than the image we portray to those around us. How different is the "public you" from the "real you"?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama Brainwashes Children

Just picked my kids up at school (first and second grade).

Without further ado, here's what they had to say about the hubbub:

M: I saw Obama at school.
Me: What did he talk about?
M: You should never let down your country.
Me: What does that mean?
M: Letting down your country is bad.
Me: But what does that mean?
M: Quitting stuff. Like school.

G: And there was a senior president there. Named Tim Spicer. It was at Wakefield High School.*
M: In Virginia.

Me: What else did he talk about?
G: Responsibility.
M: And compassion.
Me: What is compassion?
M: Working together. I learned that from the counselor. Not Mrs. Frank though. We have a new counselor named Mrs. Graves. I'm scared of her puppets.

And that was that. Totally brainwashed, I tell you.


*This kid can't remember to brush his teeth thirty seconds after I tell him to brush his teeth, but he correctly remembered the name of the teenager who introduced the president and the name of the freaking venue of the speech.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dear Walmarts


Dear Walmarts:

The cost/benefit ratio can't be favorable to you. When a mother of toddler(s) walks into your gargantuan "super" store and is immediately confronted with a coin-operated kiddie car, are many really stopping to pump it full of quarters before continuing with their shopping extravaganza?

I quit you once before because of this. About five years ago. G was 2. The Mickey Mouse car at the entrance caused me to lose my shit in front of the poor, kind, retired greeter. As I dragged my screaming child out of your store by his armpit, pushing the shopping cart containing one-year-old M precariously with one hand, I believe I said something along the lines of "I will NEVER come back to this fucking store until all of the goddamn kiddie rides and vending machines are GONE!"

My boycott lasted a little while. I stuck to my guns for about a year if I recall correctly. And the kids grew and I forgot and forgave.

Until today.

At one of your "super" stores, you've got these ridiculous cars at both entrance/exits. We just needed to grab something for dinner while G was at his piano lesson. When C was told "no car", he lost it. Stopped near the entrance and cried and screamed and generally carried on.

I stood and watched. Waiting for his energy to wane. I finally coaxed him into walking with us. Only to have the same routine repeat itself in the bread aisle. I again stood and watched. Garnering looks from other shoppers - some kind, some not. (No one slapped my kid though - at least I've got that going for me.)

In the end, he was too tired to get his shit together and recover while in the store. So, we abandoned our cart and left.

Dollars forfeited to you, Walmart. ZERO.

Aren't you glad you asked for that f'ing quarter at the entrance? It probably cost you about $50.

I won't be back until at least kindergarten.

Sincerely,
Kate

Another Video That I May Be Late In Discovering

I dare you to NOT start tapping your toes while listening to this little gem.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One Day Down...


These guys started Mother's Day Out yesterday. They will go on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 2:30.

Their first day was terrific. C even told me that playing outside at school was "awesome". They played and had circle time and ate lunch at a table with the rest of the kids.

Next week, they'll stay a little longer and have naptime too. (We'll see how that goes...)

I think I'm going to really enjoy the time on my own. It's been a while.

I didn't think I would miss them. And I didn't while they were there. But when I returned and saw them through the doorway, minding their manners, sitting at the lunch table like such big boys? And when their faces lit up when they finally noticed I was there? My heart ached just a little bit - partly because I realized that I had actually missed them a bit and partly because I realized, in that moment, that my babies were on their way to not being my "babies" anymore.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Overheard

My two-year-olds to each other: Rock, Paper, nuh, nuh, GO! (with rochambeau hand movements)

*******

My six-year-old, during a gourmet sloppy joe dinner last night: I have a sesame seed bun.
My seven-year-old: I have a delicious and nutritious whole wheat bun.

My six-year-old: If I plant these seeds, will it grow bread?

*******

My two-year-old at his very first movie last week (very loudly, as the prehistoric squirrel in the Ice Age movies appeared on the screen to start the film): OHMYGOD! WHAT IS THAT?

*******

And, I'll leave you with this. What my six-year-old does to her brother when left unattended.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Omaha Trip Recap


I won't re-tell the Omaha story here. I posted pics and words over at KCKidsFun - click here to read Weekend Family Getaway from Kansas City: Omaha.

And we'll be headed back next summer for sure. I've only been asked about it every day since we got back. A big hit.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It Just Got Personal

You that pesky health care reform debate going on right now? The one I successfully managed to avoid reading about, hearing about or even thinking about. Until today. Yeah. That one.

And today it got personal, bitches. Mama's pissed off.

My husband changed jobs this summer. Our old health insurance was pretty good. Provided through mega-national-corporation. Our portion of the premium was reasonable. Coverage was good.

The insurance available at the new place is, well, less than optimum. With pricey premiums. And we'll just leave it at that.

So, I decided to investigate individual coverage plans. I applied for coverage for the family through our existing insurance company because I knew that we could still see all of our same doctors and because I figured they could see (via their history with us) that we don't cost them a whole lot of money - even though there are six of us.

I spent about three hours completing their application which forced me to try to recall five years worth of doctors' appointments and prescriptions for SIX people. Apparently I was supposed to save all of those records or something? Jesus.

And I took the follow-up phone interview in which I explained a few things in detail. And my husband took a follow-up phone interview to clear up something about a partially torn ligament in his hand that healed on its own.

Anyway, we got declined. Not "hey, we need to adjust that estimated premium", not "oh, you don't qualify for that coverage but you could do this one instead". Nope. De-clined.

Because one member of my family takes an anti-anxiety med. A generic anti-anxiety script that is available for $4 a month at most pharmacies. And went (past tense) to a counselor for all of six months to help work on the anxiety.

Mother. Fuckers. (And, members of my family who live in Pennsylvania? Hello there!. This is most definitely directed at your employer.)

To recap, I now have one week to accept the shitty coverage available through work, to continue COBRA at exorbitant rates or to procure coverage some other way (though now with the added ding on my record of having been previously declined for coverage). So awesome. (I guess I should be grateful that I have options?)

I'm pissed. And I'm panicked. I guess I need to go read up on whatever's going on in Washington...

If Swearing Offends You, Please Don't Watch This

If, on the other hand, you really like swearing, then by all means...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Snap Back to Reality

And...school started this morning. I think I may have been the only asshole who didn't walk her kids in. Dude. It was raining. I had two toddlers in pajamas.

Here they are in all of their grown-up glory. Remember what they looked like last year? The year before? Me neither.

All I know is that my daughter, who is really not a tomboy, totally looks like one in the outfit she chose for today. The t-shirt does have rhinestones. If you're Beadazzled, you're kinda girly, right?



Thursday, August 13, 2009

The List

Okay, so I'm really procrastinating from doing work but I'm curious. Do you have a "List"?

Do you remember the episode of Friends in which everyone talks about their freebie list? The internets tell me that the episode was called "The One with Frank Jr." and Chandler's explanation went like this:

Chandler: Well, we have a deal where we each get to pick five different celebrities that we can sleep with, and the other one can't get mad.
Ross: Ah, the heart of every healthy relationship: Honesty, respect, and sex with celebrities.
Monica: So, Chandler... who's on your list?
Chandler: Uh, Kim Basinger, Cindy Crawford, Halle Berry, Yasmine Bleeth, and, ah, Jessica Rabbit.
Because I know you're dying to know, I think my list is - Paul Rudd, Jon Hamm, Dana White, Stellan Skarsgard, and...I'm not totally sure on the last one.

I'd also probably equally enjoy just hanging out with any of them. Okay, "equally" might be a ridiculous overstatement but it would be pretty cool. Not sure that I would be content to just hang out with Jon Hamm. Holy crap. Hot. (New season of Mad Men starts this weekend! Yum!)

My notes:
  • Paul Rudd is a dangerous inclusion on the List because he's from right here and, I believe, still has family here. What if I actually run into him?! My husband should be very nervous...
  • I am less likely to actually bump into Jon Hamm. But I would like to.
  • Dana White is the president of the UFC. Don't judge. I like the UFC. And I like this guy. It's a personality thing more than anything else. And I actually had breakfast at the Venetian in Las Vegas about three tables over from him a few years ago. I think my husband was there too. Didn't pay much attention to the husband for that hour of my life. Did almost have a fucking panic attack over my omelet.
  • Stellan Skarsgard is difficult to explain. And I'd have to condition his inclusion on the Good Will Hunting version. And not the Mamma Mia version. 1997 Stellan Skarsgard was hotter than 2008 Stellan Skarsgard. Not exactly sure how I'll accomplish the time travel.
Who's on your list? Spill. It can't be much weirder than mine.

Mah Boyz

Those faces. I could eat them with a spoon.

So awesome. I love them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mah Girlz

I've had this book sitting on my desk all summer. My daughter wrote it in her kindergarten class just before school ended. I found it in her backpack along with a huge pile of other papers in mid-June. It made me laugh so hard (and still does) that I had to share it.


It's titled "Me and My Girls".


Girls are awsum.
(Girls are awesome.)


Girls are not trubl makrs.
(Girls are not troublemakers.)

Girls are roolrs of the wold.
(Girls are rulers of the world.)


Girls owes war dress.
(Girls always wear dresses.)

Girls are one of the best hamins in the wold.
(Girls are one of the best humans in the world.)


And my personal favorite double-page spread -

Girls have honisty.
(Girls have honesty.)

Girls can camitucat.
(Girls can communicate.)

Seriously? Girls can communicate?! I'm assuming that the unspoken message here is that boys are lying, thieving bastards who can't communicate to save their lives. How did she learn this universal truth already???

So good.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lost History

As you may remember, I took the kids to Omaha last week for a short adventure. That adventure included SEVEN hours at the zoo, one hour at the hotel pool, three hours at the children's museum, $30 in in-room kids' movies at the hotel, two breakfast buffets and one panic stricken moment in which my youngest child disappeared and was discovered a few minutes later in a glass elevator on the fourth floor. More on that later though.

The only thing that was on my own, personal agenda for the Omaha trip was some genealogy scouting. I may have mentioned before that I have had periodic genealogy obsessions over the last ten years or so. Actually, my obsession began much earlier with the "family tree" assignment we received in sixth grade but the internet made things much easier. So, our first non-dial-up internet connection in 1998 spawned my current genealogy addiction.

Anyway. Omaha. My paternal grandfather's grandparents immigrated to America from Ireland at some point in the 1870's. They ended up in Omaha, which was a big railroad town. They had a few kids before they left Ireland. And they had several more after they arrived. One of those American-born kids was my great grandfather.

The entire family is listed in the 1880 census as living at 920 Davenport in Omaha. Sometime in about 1890, as far as I can tell, my great-great grandfather died. My great-great grandmother then lived with her children, according to subsequent city directories, at 1109 Chicago and 422 N. 11th St.

I was interested to see the streets where these ancestors walked - at least, what was left of them. I knew that portions of Omaha including the Old Market area, still had many restored old buildings.

Ultimately, I was disappointed to find that the entire neighborhood where my family lived was now the Qwest Center Arena and Omaha Convention Center. Nothing left of the neighborhood, not even a nearby block intact from which to launch my imagination. My roots are now in the parking lot of the arena and on the entrance ramp to the highway.

It made me a little sad.

My great-great grandmother died in 1894. She is buried in Omaha. We drove the small cemetery for about 20 minutes but didn't spot her gravestone. If the kids were older, I might have gotten out to walk but the children's museum was calling.

My great grandfather moved to Kansas City after his mother died. He and his siblings lived with an older sister until they married and moved out on their own. And now, 100 years later, here we are. I think I might start some local address spotting - hopefully, my local ancestral addresses haven't been replaced by the Sprint Center...



View Omaha Genealogy Map in a larger map

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In Case You Thought I Was Kidding About That 5 Bag Thing


Here are the five bags my daughter packed for a two-night trip to Omaha. These were lined up by the garage door when I got out of bed on Wednesday morning.

These bags contained two completely random outfits (one of which included the shorts to a pajama set), two nightgowns, two pair of underpants, a bathing suit and goggles, four lip glosses, a hairbrush, six beanie babies, four My Little Ponies, an amusement park prize stuffed animal, her security Lambie (head poking out in far right of photo), a second stuffed lamb, one pair of Crocs, two compact mirrors, seven Dr. Suess books and a set of Crayola Color Wonder markers with Glitter Princess paper.

I told her that five bags wasn't happening. She assessed the situation and informed me that she really needed everything she packed.

Unfortunately for her, I then had to handle it.

We got that down to one bag with two different outfits, one nightgown, two pair of underpants, bathing suit, goggles, one lip gloss, hairbrush, Lambie, sneakers, two pair of socks and the Color Wonder shit.

Thankfully, we haven't yet had an emergency need for My Little Ponies.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crazy Mom Takes Four Kids to Omaha for "Getaway"

Yes. I am insane. Or I have balls of titanium, as my husband believes.

Today after lunch, I loaded up my four and hit the open road. Three hours north to Omaha for a two-and-a-half day sortie. Our plan is to hit the zoo and the children's museum and enjoy hotel living. Basically, just getting the hell out of our house for a while.

And my husband started a new job this week - so it's just me and the kids.

The drive was fine. The two little ones napped for a while. They all watched some DVDs. And we got here without incident.

At one point during the drive, my daughter asked me how many hours we had been on the road. It had been 15 minutes. (Also? She packed FIVE bags for the trip. I whittled it down to one.)

But, so far, so good. We checked into the hotel. I sprung for a suite so that the little kids could be put to bed in a bedroom behind a closed door while the older ones watched a movie on the sofa bed.

And now, the big kids are watching the movie and the little ones are STILL awake on the other side of that door. In and out of the pack 'n plays, playing, talking, singing, driving me slowly crazy. Any bets on what time they actually pass out? (I've already had to unplug the phone in there because they unintentionally called the front desk within about seven minutes of checking in.)

So, tomorrow the zoo. Hopefully, some pictures. Gotta go crack some heads in the bedroom.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

This Is What I'm Up Against...

Sorry for the poor video quality - it's J's cameraphone.

This is classic C. Turn up your volume and enjoy.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Mah Little Planner...

I just informed my big kids that we're going to take a little trip to Omaha next week. Just to get out of town and see something new. So far, our plans include the zoo and the children's museum. And a hotel.

My six-year-old daughter is sitting across the table from me making a list of things to pack. The following are excerpts of our conversation:

Do we need to pack blankets or will the hotel have them?

***

Are we taking a plane? Please tell me we're taking a plane.

No plane. It only takes about three hours to drive there. But you can take some movies to watch in the car.

Okay. Should we take three? Or maybe just two. Probably just two. And we can stop for gas if we need to. Right? We'll probably need to stop for gas two times. Maybe three times. Wait here! I have to go get the United States map puzzle to see where we're going. To see how far we're going. Stay here.

***

Do we need to take soap, conditioner and towels?

The hotel has that stuff, baby. Remember the little shampoos that Daddy brings home when he goes out of town? They have that at all hotels.

Awesome!!!

***
I'm going to put "balls" on the list for the babies. Do they have silverware at the hotel?

***

This is going to be a long five days...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Open Letter To My Reader From Earlier This Evening

Hello there. You. Yes, you. The one who reached my blog by searching via Google. The one whose search term was "is having four children crazy?".

Yes.

Good luck with that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twenty Years, Friends, A Reunion and A Smidgen of Self-Discovery

Back in February, I volunteered to organize my 20 year high school reunion. In hindsight, I have no earthly idea why. But I did.

People wanted it to be held in the summertime so I frantically began planning and trying to track down 325 people on the internet. The planning process was stressful and created much anxiety for me. I took every "no" RSVP as a personal affront. Stupid, I know.

So, two weekends ago was reunion weekend. The turnout was pretty good. And those who did attend appeared to have a great time. I was amazed at a few things.


First - I have only truly kept up with three people from high school. The rest of my high school friends, I haven't really seen in about 20 years. And, at least for one weekend, I really enjoyed seeing those old friends and we all fell immediately back into a comfortable friendship despite the years. That shared history - however long ago - was enough. Even when the topic of conversation wasn't "remember when...". It was nice.

Second - the "cool kids" still hung out with the "cool kids" even after 20 years. But they didn't seem that cool anymore. Just as normal (or abnormal) as the rest of us. Time is the great equalizer. (Oh, I'm not saying that all of them were particularly friendly - but then, we weren't friends to begin with, so why would they be, I guess.)


Third - I love my BFF. I wish she lived here in town. That's us in the pic - 1989 and 2009.

And fourth - I've got some issues to work out. I've really just been able to acknowledge that I have a latent inferiority complex. I know, I know. There's no good reason. I was a smart kid. I played sports. I was yearbook editor. I had friends. I remember high school fondly actually. I graduated from college with honors. I went to and graduated from one of the top 20 law schools in the country. I passed two bar exams on the first try. I was made partner at my law firm. I launched a freelance writing business last year that I can barely keep up with. I run a local website that gets more traffic than I could have ever imagined was possible. I have a happy marriage and four awesome kids - the happiness and awesomeness of which are, at least in part, attributable to my efforts.

And yet, I persisted in thinking that no one from high school knew or remembered me. That no one knew who I was when I started emailing the heck out of them about reunion tickets. That the response was slow because I commanded no nostalgic attention. I speculated that I subconsciously volunteered to plan so that I would have something to do other than socialize.

I can't say that I resolved any of this during the reunion weekend. If anything, it makes less sense now than before. But I never stopped to think about it before. To think about how it has affected my life path - and it has. In innumerable ways. Boys, friends, school, career. Choices in each of those areas have been colored by this inexplicable feeling of inadequacy.

I don't think I can begin to digest it all and regurgitate it here. To explain the extent to which this self-discovery now bothers me. And, yet, it doesn't.

Because the reunion was fantastic and fun. When it was over, I felt happy and loved. But still "less than" in some way...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Guest Post by My Husband

My husband doesn't blog. Doesn't really understand what a blog is. But I took some video footage of the little guys today and he just put together this perfect picture of life with C and H...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Over the years, I have come to realize that I express myself better on paper or in email than in person. This is true in daily conversation to some extent but it is very true when I'm angry or upset. I can collect my thoughts and say what I really mean.

And, I think, it allows my husband to consider my perspective in a similarly contemplative manner before responding. Our most constructive disagreements often involve an exchange of emails.

I found this on my husband's desk this evening. The big kids had been playing on his computer earlier in the day. Apparently, big brother wasn't giving little sister her way.



There was no written response from G to be found. My guess? He probably just ignored her drama, hoping that it would pass. Like father, like son? :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Love This Kid



The only one of my four who touched the salsa. He had his own bowl. Which had to be refilled before dinner was over.

This is, of course, the same kid who eats Buffalo Chicken Dip with Frank's Hot Sauce...

(sorry for the poor photo quality - phone pic in dark restaurant...)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Diamonds

M is on a really good softball team. Not good insofar as talent - they're just six, so we can't exactly judge talent yet. But a good group of good girls from good families. We haven't always been so lucky with sports teams (specifically G's various sports teams over the years).

This one though? Is a good one. Kinda sad to see this season end actually. Which means a lot coming from me - I'm not exactly the sports parent who is overly excited to watch and practice and coach, etc.