Sunday, December 30, 2007


We have had a lot of fun this week with the family. Here are some pics.

Kate catching snowflakes on her tongue and tromping through the drifts to Nia's house.

Gramps showing his stellar "Wii" gaming skills.

Liam and Kate giggling.

Liam the ar-teest.

Christmas Joys for Little Boys

Liam LOVED Christmas. Last year he did not really get it, but this year, as mentioned in my earlier post, he had a great time. Here are some pics of the little man on Christmas morning. He especially had a great time with his new train set. He LOVES his trains!

The Great Cookie Decorating Contest

Every year, we have a Christmas Cookie Decorating Contest. This is a McKenny tradition that is much loved. Everyone gets to design and decorate a cookie (or cookies) however they wish. Christmas-themed cookies are not mandatory. There are two rules only: 1. My Dad, Ed, is the judge and 2. The judge CAN be bribed. In the end, everyone gets some sort of award (I am consistently the winner of the "suck-up" award, for instance). The contest is always a lot of fun, very messy, and very funny. People have gotten pretty creative over the years with their creations - even going 3D with their designs. Here are some pics from this year's event. Nick won best overall for his excellent artistic and 3-dimensional creation. Kate won the most spirited. It was such a great time!

Some shots of Kate the Cookie Decorator!

Nick's Winning Basketball 3-D cookie scene.

Kate's Christmas Show

Kate's Preschool puts on a little Christmas program each year. This year they sang a bunch of adorable songs for all the parents. Kate sat front and center and did a wonderful job singing and doing all the motions that went along with the tunes. After the little show, Santa surprised the kids with a visit! Well, Kate apparently is terrified of Santa in person. She has a huge affection for him in stories and in theory as he leaves great gifts under the tree, but when the big guy is "in the house" she freaks out. At the show, Kate made a bee-line for and literally hid behind the teacher while the other kids sat in a circle around Santa, took pics with him, and accepted gifts. When Santa called Kate's name, she retreated even further from him and refused to take the gift from his hands. Some parents actually looked at me like they were embarrassed for me. What is the big deal? So she is afraid of a strange guy dressed up in a fake beard and refuses to take a gift from a stranger?! What the heck is wrong with that?! Good girl, I say! She is certainly brave in many other ways and her having apprehension about Santa is just fine with me. Interestingly, she is not afraid of the big fake characters (like people dressed like Barney the Dinosaur or Elmo) but Santa is just too much to handle. Fine with us! Here are some pics of Kate at her show and of her reading the book that Santa brought for her at the party. Kate takes after her parents for sure - while other kids were ripping open the candy cane that came with the book, Kate climbed up on a chair, opened that book, and read while the other kids ate candy and had pics with Santa. I adore her.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Merry Christmas to all! What a wonderful day it was here in Minnesota! I am still smiling! The kids, though SO excited to see Santa, slept until 8am, so there was no crazy-early wake up call (like the ones I know I gave my parents when I was a kid!). The children had a great time with every gift, giving full attention to each one and saying "Thank You" after each gift. (Well, Kate said thank you, Liam just got so excited over each present that he cried out "OPEN OPEN" until it was out of the packaging - the cruel joke of how kid toys are packaged to be 'adult proof' is another entry!) They were thrilled by the presents that Santa left and were just a joy to watch as they reveled in toys and tinsel. My folks and Patrick joined us for Xmas morning and we just had a really nice time exchanging wonderful gifts. The kids went upstairs to the playroom and Uncle Pak helped them set up the new train set while my Dad sipped coffee and Nick made Belgian waffles FROM SCRATCH, fresh berries, and bacon. I slaved over setting the table! ha ha :) We had a great big delicious family breakfast and then the kids went back to playing! Mom, Dad and Patrick headed over to the McKenny condo and Kate and I baked a pie and as we were sprinkling cinnamon over apples we looked out the window to find GIANT FAT flakes of snow falling outside. Before long, every tree branch had a coat of white and everything was muted and blanketed - on top of the foot of snow that was already there! :) It was lovely. There is something about baking inside our cozy kitchen with Kate while my sweet baby boy Liam napped and Nick puttered with Xmas gadgets that fills me with more joy than I can say! :) The snow really was icing on the cake!

We all trekked in the gorgeous snow to Nia and Gramps' house, with the pie, for a de-li-cious Christmas dinner. Mom really knocked it out of the park, I have to say! Good family. Good wine. Good food. Good conversation. GREAT laughter.....this was brought on by my Dad's Xmas gift, a nintendo Wii. We had a lot of fun "playing" tennis and bowling and boxing each other. Kate got to sing along to the High School Musical game. Who knew my Mom was a secret video game tennis and boxing star?! It was just family fun, with the help of technology! :)

Anyway - the kiddos are tucked snug in bed, as is pretty much everyone else at this late hour! But I just had to blog about our wonderful day - and how very thankful I am for all the gifts in my life. Not the purses and perfume, train sets and toddler toys....but the people and the moments and the grace. Those are the gifts and thank you to everyone who is a part of that! Much love!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Kate's Big Night

If you read the blog regularly, you know that Kate is very into "High School Musical". She loves it. Knows every word to every song. It is really adorable. Well, last week Mom and I surprised Kate....we told her we were having a "girls night out" and after getting dressed up and leaving Nick and Liam at home, the three girls went to dinner. Kate thought that was great. After dinner, though, we drove downtown and Kate suspected that something was up. As we walked into the arena, where the soundtrack to "HSM" was being blasted, and where hundreds of giggly screaming girls were jumping up and down in anticipation - each holding a ridiculous amount of newly purchased "HSM" merchandise in their hands - Kate realized that she was there to see "High School Musical on Ice" with us. She LOST her MIND. She was SO excited and cute and was jumping up and down and saying how excited she was. It happened that our tickets were right on the ice in the front row, and that was really terrific. The show was so great - so wholesome and clever and fun. I did not watch most of it, to be honest, because I was so busy watching Kate's priceless reactions to everything. She had a blast. She was up dancing along to every song. She clapped wildly at every spin and jump and lift and, because of our proximity to the ice, the performers identified her as a huge fan and subsequently would not skate by her without a wave or a wink in her direction. She was beside herself with glee. It was one of the most fun nights ever for me - - and my mom - - simply because of Kate's joy. So fun.

Kate at dinner.

Kate at the show!!!!

Root, root, root for the Red Sox.....

As you probably know, Nick and I are Red Sox fans. So are the kids, as far as they can be at their ages! Both diligently sing "Take me out to the Ballgame" and insert the proper team. Both love watching the games with Nick and I on TV and cheering along. Both have always owned a Red Sox hat since before they were born! :) Here they are with their latest version of the Red Sox chapeau that we brought them back from Beantown - courtesy of Aunt Stacee and Uncle James. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Boston, you're my home!

Here is a quick run-down of the WONDERFUL trip that Nick and I took to the East Coast. I cannot say enough that it was PERFECT. The weather was great - we walked everywhere - and the company was phenomenal.

Here is the rundown:

Saw dear friends Rick and Phil who were at our wedding and we celebrated Rick's Bday. Brunch with my wonderful friend, Carol, who I used to work with at the law firm and who was at our wedding. Dinner at our FAVE Indian restaurant around the corner from our old apartment. Ran into our old "across-the-hall" neighbor (who informed us that the Pat's QB, Tom Brady, and his supermodel girlfriend, Giselle, have bought the whole brownstone RIGHT across the street from our building - as in, paparazzi are camped in front of our old apartment). Stayed at the Park Plaza where we had our wedding reception. Saw my best bud Stacee and her terrific brand new husband, James (they eloped the week we were there!!!!!) and spent time chatting, laughing, sharing wine, and eating Italian food in the North End and being cozy at 75 Chestnut with wine and good food. Ran into one of Nick's Yale classmates at 75 Chestnut. Ran into the guy who SANG in our wedding on the street....went to St. Cecelia's where we got married and said many prayers of thanks. Drove to Connecticut to visit our very much missed friends, the Dunns. Celebrated Erin Dunn's bday and had tons of wonderful conversation and a great dinner out at the state's oldest tavern in a very cool private room. We laughed until our sides hurt and walked until our feet felt like they would fall off. IT WAS WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are some pics:
Nick and Maggie in front of the old apartment!

With my dear friend, Carol! Such a lovely afternoon.

Standing in front of one of our favorite Boston haunts - "The Green Dragon"

I know, I know....

I have been missing in action. Here is the reason.....

It is because I have a new addiction - it is called "Rock Band", as in the game for Xbox. I am NOT a "gamer". But I AM a singer - and apparently I rock a pretty awesome fake video game guitar. I AM horrible at the Drums, I will admit. Nick says it is pretty hysterical since he attests that I have the best rhythm of anyone he knows, but drums slay me. Let's not talk about negative stuff though. Let us talk about how FUN this game is and, I will admit, how awesome I am at it! :) Now, for the Grammy acceptance speech as the lead singer - I owe everything to my band - my awesome drummer/bassist - and super husband - Nick. And my amazing brother and lead guitarist, Patrick. Together we perform as either SurveySays (say it two ways, it has double meaning) or The Big Dig (as in we are a band from our imagination)!

Is it pathetic that I am having so much fun with a video game? I don't think I have played one since Super Mario Brothers in high school. It is so much fun and I never thought I could sing "Creep" by Radiohead so many times and love it still! Nick is even more hooked than I am. The other night we stayed up so late playing it with Patrick that we sounded like addicts when we finally shut down the game....."What were we thinking? We are so weak! Why did we keep going?"

So we are having fun rocking out while the kids dance around. My parents love being our audience and Dad even jumps in on the guitar now and then. It is hilarious. We laugh so much. I actually wonder how younger kids play this game - so many of the songs are so "classic" (read: old), I wonder if they even know them! Oh well. I am having fun living vicariously through a video game for an hour here or there. My real life still remains pretty darn great and exciting.....but I can still dream of being a superstar!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yay for Vacay!

I know our little blog has been free of posts recently, but Nick and I have actually been on vacation!!!!!! My mom, an angel here on earth, stayed with the kiddos while Nick and I took a trip back East. We had an absolutely amazing time visiting with old friends and strolling for hours along the cobblestones and bricks of Boston. I will post some vacay pics soon. In the meantime, though, I have to do a million things for holiday Dad arrives tomorrow and we are all looking forward to a great Christmas. More to come....