Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry, merry!

Merry Christmas to one and all! :) We had a wonderful Christmas day! We loved watching the kids open their gifts, followed by a wonderful Christmas breakfast. Patrick and Jillian joined us for the morning and Nick made all of us his signature homemade fantastic breakfast of Belgian waffles made from scratch with fresh fruit, fresh whipped cream, and maple bacon. The grown ups toasted with Mimosas and Poinsettias (champagne and cranberry - SO delish and festive) and the kids got to toast with straight OJ. :) It was a wonderful morning and I am so lucky to have a hubby so handy in the kitchen.

The kiddos played like crazy all day long with all their new toys. Liam loved his new batcave and also his firehouse and firetruck and Kate went absolutely nuts over her new American Girl doll (named Lily, of course) and all the accompanying accessories. They crafted with new gifts, played board games and wore themselves out. It was so fun.

Patrick and Jillian joined us for a wonderful xmas dinner as well. We fed the kids and put them to bed and then the adults enjoyed a late grown up meal followed by cocktails and board games into the late hours. It was a GREAT and laughter-filled evening, save for the short sullen brood that Maggie went into when Nick pushed her competitive buttons during a heated game of Cranium (I still beat him - ha). Seriously, though, it was a fantastic day! My mom and dad, by the way, finally made it to Rochester, NY to be with Rin and her crew for Xmas after many MANY an airport delay and "gerfuffle" as Dad would say.

We hope you had as blessed and merry a Christmas as we did! Much love to all!

Kate racing to the presents at a very respectable 8am! Thanks for not waking up at the crack of dawn, kiddos!

Liam spying the Christmas wonderful-ness.

Ready for our Christmas Morning Feast. It should be noted that while Nick made the food, he was in no way responsible for the table decorations. He does draw a line. ;)

Kate and her new best friend, Lily.

The table awaiting the grown ups for a nice holiday dinner to be followed by board game madness.

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

And now for part two of Liam's Vocal is Liam singing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" with his "new" tonsil-free voice. Listen to the earlier post of him singing the same song to hear the difference in his little voice. :) He is too darn cute! Sorry it is sideways - I forgot you cannot rotate the video off of my camera...or if you can I don't know how! :)

Cookie Capers

Each Christmas, the McKenny clan competes in our annual Cookie Decorating Contest. It should be noted that the contest generally does not have a lot to do with the theme of Christmas - not among the adults, anyway! There are only two rules: 1. My Dad is the judge and 2. The judge can be bought.

So, basically, the cookie that either sucks up to the judge the most, or is truly most impressive in it's creation, structure and decoration will win. Ideally, you want to combine those two winning elements into one cookie to secure the prize. Of course, no one loses, really - Rookie of the Year, Suck-Up award, and Best Use of Sprinkles are all past awards, for example. Above all, though, the contest is so much fun - a messy, laughter and wine and hot cocoa filled evening.

This year the contest was at the lakehouse, and Jillian joined us for her inaugural cookie contest. She won "rookie of the year" and was a fantastic sport - even taking the second rule to heart and bribing Dad with a bottle of his favorite scotch! :) Way to go, Jillian! We love a contender!

We all had a blast and I am proud to say that I won this year's overall competition with an ATTEMPT at recreating the lakehouse property via the art of cookie dough, frosting, and sprinkles. It was a blast.

Here are some pics of the event - soon we will begin architectural diagrams and schemes for next year's contest.

Liam making fun of his apron and just a teensy bit hyped up on frosting.

Our "Rookie of the Year", Jillian.

My "winning" cookie - a 3d replica of the lakehouse property.

Kate and her holiday spectacular cookies! She won the junior division and was so proud!

Lake-a-daisical Days

We spent some wonderful holiday family fun time at the McKenny lakehouse. The kids love having Nia and Gramps so nearby and I must say that Nick and I love it, too! :) While many people think my folks are borderline nuts for wanting to retire in Minnesota, we understand their rationale! In addition to Minnesota summers and falls making any winter chill well-worth it, most of their crew is here! With Patrick being here, Nick the kids and I, and Rin's husband, Nick, being FROM here - - - we have somehow adopted Minnesota as our home. The lakehouse is beautiful and peaceful and warm and wonderful and promises oodles of fantastic family fun.

When Dad does retire it will be great to have them here full time, but until then we appreciate them spending some of their free time away from work up here!

It makes sense - Mom and Dad have been based in tropical, warm places for most of his career! Sacramento, CA; Hong Kong; Tokyo, Japan; Jakarta, Indonesia; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Miami, FL (with a little bit of time in chilly Peoria, IL)....they are due their midwestern rooted share of snow and ice. They are just doing it in reverse! :)

ANYWAY - we had a great time hanging with the fam at what we jokingly refer to as "McKennybunkport". Here are some snaps...

The kiddos snuggling and giggling at Nia and Gramps' place.

Kate at Gramps' computer - future CEO? She looks very professional, even with the puppy on the desk.

Kate and her Daddy. Nothing sweeter.

Liam very intent on a puzzle.

Liam about to open a new digger from Nia and Gramps.

Liam on the Mend!

Liam is doing so well! After some medicinal experimentation to get a painkiller that he could handle, he was brought some comfort and was able to start really healing thanks to the rest he was finally getting. All the screaming and crying and restless sleep from being in pain - not to mention MY heart breaking at him being so uncomfortable - was really making the recovery process difficult. At last, though, he is resting, has his sweet personality back, and is eating! Two weeks later, Liam appears to be back! Here are some pictures of his hospital visit - he is too darn cute, even if he did have to wear purple hospital jammies; he was NOT happy about that ("NO MOMMY! I don't WANT purple jammies! PURPLE is for GIRLS"). Once I explained that the jammies had little astronaut bears on it, he reluctantly agreed to put them on. So.....all is well and our little guy is back, even if his voice is quite different.

Chocolate Ice Cream Face. His arm is wrapped to protect his IV as he REALLY wanted to rip it out.

Little Man in a big bed.

FINALLY some rest for Liam. Pardon my exhausted face.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Surgery a Success. But sleep? Not so much!

Well our buddy Liam is now back home after having his tonsils and adenoids out. The folks at Children's St. Paul were fantastic, but boy are we glad to be home. Liam did super with the surgery. The hardest part for me was the anesthesia. I had to suit up in sterile hat, coat, etc. and go with Liam into the OR. I held him on my lap as they put the mask over his face and helped him breathe deep until he literally passed out in my arms. That part really unnerved me. Logically I understood of course, but the primal parent in me just literally wept at my buddy breathing in gas so rapidly that he literally collapsed in my arms. I was whisked away as they took him out of my arms and put him on the operating table. I was glad, however, that I got to be there when he went to sleep, whispering in his ear that I loved him. The surgery was over before you knew it and the doc said it all went well and that indeed his tonsils were alarmingly huge - to the point where they actually had to get a bigger jar for them than what was in the OR and that the folks down in pathology were excited to see such a uniquely large "specimen" as the doc put it! :) His adenoids were large as well and so it is good that those went away. The sleep apnea should resolve now as well as the chronic sinus infections.

Poor Liam had a bit of a reaction to the anesthesia when he came out of it. In short, he became terribly aggressive and combative. He screamed, kicked, and punched wildly - thrashing around with an upsetting glazed-over look on his face. There was no calming him down at all and it was VERY loud and painful as he landed a few kicks and punches in our attempts to hold him immobile so he would not hurt himself or pull out his IV. We are talking get out the straightjacket kind of crazy!!! :) It was tough, but he soon settled down and began ingesting popsicles and ice cream as fast as we could provide the treats to him. We think he has a bit of an opposite reaction to his medication than most kids - some kids get a bit hyper on codeine, apparently, and that certainly appears to be the case with Liam. He did not rest the whole day. We watched movies, ate frozen treats, and played cars on the hospital bed tray. It was a bit tough for him because he is a lefty and they had the IV in his left arm which was then wrapped in a cast of gauze and cloth to prevent him from ripping it out, so he had quite a bit of frustration with that. Nick left late Friday night and I stayed overnight with Liam.

Of course, as soon as Nick left, Liam decided it was party time. He refused to sleep. Between him being so overtired, agitated by the meds and the IV, feeling yucky, not wanting to be in the hospital and more it was a, shall we say, interesting night. And then of course it would seem that as soon as he WOULD start to drift off, in would come the nurse with medicine, a vitals check, an IV change etc. It was NOT restful and by this morning I no longer had a son in the hospital, I had a demon-in-training. :) He was a madman. Screaming, flailing, and yelling "NO" at whatever option was presented to him. "Liam, do you want chocolate ice cream FOR BREAKFAST?" "NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" "Liam do you want a popsicle?" "NOOOO!!!!!!!!!" "Liam do want to leave the hospital, and go home but first stop at Target and pick out ANY TOY YOU WANT?!" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!"

Wow. Clearly. He was in a "no" mood. He has been for most of the day, even here at home. We all got a small nap in this afternoon, but now the challenge is getting him to stay hydrated now that he does not have the IV. He is not comfortable and his throat hurts a lot, of course. His voice is even different - which is very strange for us to hear. He does not want to drink, no matter how we dress it up. Shirley temples, water, chocolate milk, apple juice - cool swirly straws, fun cups or not. He is not terribly interested. We have to push that lest he wind up in the hospital needing a hydration drip as that is the biggest risk with kids his age refusing to drink.

The crankiness continued through the day until Uncle Pak and Jillian came by. They were sweet in helping to take the edge off of the Liam Crankfest. Finally now, at 5pm, after playing cars on a new track that Pak and Jillian set up, Liam is calm (knock on wood). He is now having a blast sitting on Nick's lap helping him "steer" with the Wii steering wheel while playing "MarioKart". He loves it. It is nice to see him smiling again.

SO - surgery a success. Liam cranky but on the mend. Will let you know the status of his muppet voice as things heal. :) God bless all the parents who have truly sick children that have to live in a hospital environment for longer than one night. God bless the nurses that help take care of them! What a tough situation and tough job that must be. I had one night and I am a total zombie today!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Merry Merry

We have been having all sorts of fun around here as we prepare for the holidays. The weather is doing it's best to get us in the spirit, too. As I type, giant fat snowflakes are drifting outside the window - if only it could be a tiny bit warmer than the -7 that the weather man tells us it is with wind chill! :) brrrrr.

Here are some pictures of us decorating the tree this year as well as a snap of Kate being silly at Nia's house wearing one of my holiday dance costumes from when I was much tinier. Also please enjoy a very special holiday video message brought to you by our muppet Liam. I wonder what his sweet little voice will sound like after his surgery next week.

Merry Merry to all!

She's an American Girl

A huge event was celebrated by little girls all over the Twin Cities recently. The Mall of America opened an "American Girl" store. For those of you who don't know, these dolls, their stories and their MANY accessories are loved and coveted by girls everywhere. Growing up I missed the American Girl craze (I am too old!), but it is certainly a toy that I think is great (unlike "Bratz" dolls that look like, well, prostitots - spelling intentional). Each American Girl doll has a whole story created around her and is from a different era of history. There is a pioneer doll, a doll from the 40s, a Native American doll, and so on. There are books about the character and her experiences in that time. Just wonderful! There are also dolls called "Just Like Me" dolls where a little girl can essentially choose her twin in doll form. Kate is very into imaginative play, so my mom and I took her on a very special outing to the new American Girl store to gauge her interest to see if maybe Santa would want to bring a doll for her.

We got dressed up and went on a holiday outing! It was so fun. The staff there makes every little girl feel like the most special girl in the world and focuses on great qualities of women throughout history such as courage, independence, intelligence, etc. Kate loved exploring the store and looking at all the dolls and the fun vignette's. It was so fun! We finished up the afternoon at the store's very own cafe - a pink-tastic place where, if you did not bring your own doll with you, they let you borrow one to join you in her very own chair for your dining experience - complete with her own doll-size menu. We sat at the adorable dessert bar and had milk and cookies for a snack to top off our first trip ever to the American Girl store. Kate declared that she would very much love it if Santa brought her a doll for Christmas and that, if he does, she will name her "Lily". Here are some pics of the fun day, complete with the doll that joined us for our snack!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I am thankful for funny children. When I was putting Kate to bed tonight, this is the conversation that took place:

Kate: Good night, Mom! Tommorrow is Thanksgiving, right?

Maggie: Yup! Thanksgiving! We are going to celebrate with Nia and Gramps, won't that be great?!

Kate: It is the day when we eat Turkey That Used to be Alive, right? We eat dead cooked Turkey tomorrow, right?

Maggie: (pretty tongue tied and not knowing exactly what to say). Yes, we eat turkey and lots of other delicious things, too! Now off to bed!

I cannot believe she thinks of things like that!!!

Gobble gobble! For you meat-eaters, enjoy your dead cooked turkey! For my veggie friends - dig into that Tofurkey! At the rate that Kate is going, I may be calling you for T-giving veggie recipes before you know it!

Kate the Great

Kate is growing SO fast. I can hardly find pants for her that are long enough for her super long legs but will stay put on her teeny tiny waist (oh to have such problems, myself!). She is bright and sweet and funny. She is reading up a STORM, plowing through books with us and on her own. I love listening to her in her room at bedtime practicing reading out loud. She is a 5-year-old darling and we adore her. Here are some pics!

Kind of Crazy Date Night

Nick and I have been fans of the music of NIN for a very long time - it served us well during the angsty, "no one understands me" teenage years and as adults we appreciate the talent and innovation that goes into Mr. Reznor's production. It is not for everyone, but we enjoy it and Nick has never seen them in concert despite 20 years of being a fan. Until last night! We got to go to the concert and it was great! Granted, we were probably the preppiest people there, but so what?! There were an awful lot of piercings, tattoos and multicolored spiked hairstyles to behold but luckily a lip piercing and shredded clothing was not required for admission. It was a great crowd, actually, with kids as young as 15 and adults into their 50s. Having been around for so long, NIN appeals to many and always manages to be more than current - they stay pretty cutting edge. I would never venture to say it was wholesome fun for the whole family, but it WAS fun and a GREAT show. It is not like we had seats in the mosh pit! ;-)

Finding Humor in a Less Than Ideal Situation

Liam has been keeping us up nights. Nick and I did not expect to lose this much sleep over our children until perhaps they reached the teenage years, but here we are, wandering slightly dazed through our days clutching enormous cups of very strong coffee. Several nights I have found myself actually falling asleep as soon as I put the kiddos to bed which, if you know me at all, is at least 4 hours before my usual night-owl bedtime. Why all the sleep loss you ask? It is because of our son, Liam (also known as "Thunder",) and the sounds that he is now emitting as he snores and snores away. Such noise should not be able to be produced from such a small individual and has resulted in the following:

a. he wakes all of us up and no one gets a good night of sleep - this makes for terrific interpersonal dynamics the following day
b. he wakes himself up - tossing and turning all night long, he is not getting good sleep and will, accordingly, fall asleep the next day truly in mid-sentence. Example: "Mommy, I love playing with this car. snore snore)"
c. I lie awake listening to every breath because, in a new twist on the snoring, he is now also suffering from sleep apnea where he will be snoring away and then all of a sudden stop for a few seconds and wake up coughing and gasping and sputtering for air. My heart also stops in these moments and there have been times when I think I may have managed to teleport myself, not really remembering how and not understanding how quickly, I suddenly find myself in his room over his bed checking on him.

SO....our pediatrician checked out his tonsils - which apparently are alarmingly huge - and referred us immediately to an ENT specialist. The ENT took one look at Liam's throat and declared that the tonsils and adenoids have to go. He said that the tonsils are graded on size on a scale of 1-4, 4 being the largest and Liam's are "4s....if I could give them a 5 I would". Super duper. Poor little guy! Nick and I have also noticed with great affection that Liam often sounds like a muppet (check earlier video post of Liam eating a popsicle for an example). The doc said this was because of his tonsils being so large that talking around and through them causes a funny voice which will change when the surgery is done. He also said Liam's propensity to only want to eat things like yogurt and applesauce (soft foods) may have a lot to do with the fact that it is tough to actually pass food through the tonsils. Oh my goodness!!!

So there is no doubt, the tonsils and adenoids must come out. It should solve the snoring, breathing, eating , voice issues and more. His surgery is December 12 and he will have to be admitted and stay overnight in the hospital because he is so young. I am sad to think of him being scared in the hospital and being uncomfortable during the recovery but know that this is the absolute best thing for him - and for us all! It is "routine" and no big deal ultimately. He will be a-ok. He is stubborn enough to give us hell while he is going through it, but that same attitude will help him recover quickly


The nurse gave us a "comic book" at the appointment to go over with the kids and introduce them to the procedure. I have to credit her for the absolute unflappable attitude with which she presented the book to us. I looked at her closely to see if she was masking the obvious or if she really was naive enough to not see the bawdy humor and inappropriate undertones of what she was actually showing to me (hint - it is the title). I could not read her at all. SO below is a picture of the book that was given to us. If you are so pure-hearted and unscathed as to not know what it means, God Bless you (and email me if you want to know, or ask someone - though innocence such as that should really remain intact). If you get the joke, laugh along with me. And, REALLY, can you believe that this title got by a publisher somewhere? Do they know the joke and think it is funny? Maybe this is just what the procedure is called in the medical world - - - though I would think it more pertinent for a plastic surgeon's office.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I know, I know...

I am a slacker! I have been terrible at posting compared to my old posting habits. The juggling of school with everything else has really thrown me off my blog game! :) Just a heads up that, especially since I have the week of of school, some fun posts will be heading this way - and some particularly hilarious ones, if I may say so. Sooooo....keep an eye out! More Harris antics and news coming right up.......

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Causing a Commotion - and other such things....

Here are a few fun tales of Kate from recent days.....

  • Kate called me into her bathroom the other day, very frustrated as she was getting ready for bed. It seems that the bathroom light switch had accidentally been set to the "motion detector" status and, timing out, the lights kept going out on Kate in the bathroom since it was not detecting motion from her short self as she brushed her teeth. "Moooo-oooooommmmmm! The COMMOTION DETECTOR is MAKING me NUTS!!!!!!"
  • Yesterday, Kate was very interested in the story of Thanksgiving. She had been asking what November had in store for her (since October had Halloween and she is at the age where she judges months based on what fun event happens during it's time....don't we all?!).  I began to explain Thanksgiving. I told her about the Mayflower, which prompted this response from Kate: "Mom! Do you know that flour is a food but flower is also a flower? It is the same word, but different meanings! Isn't that funny?"  After enthusiastic discussion over other words that sound the same but are different (pear-pare-pair, bear-bare etc.), back to the tale of the pilgrims et al I turned.  When I was done sharing all I could recall from elementary school about the thanksgiving meal, Kate asked me "So, when the pilgrims and the native americans were done eating their big dinner, did they all go into the living room and play the Wii?" She was very sad when I told her "no" and even more shocked and sad when I told her they did not even have electricity or televisions and certainly no "wii".  She said that maybe they would enjoy putting on plays for each other instead.  I told her I thought that sounded just great.
  • Kate has taken to asking me a lot of questions about her food. She wants to know if things are organic, how they are grown, where they are grown and how we obtained it.  When it comes to meat in particular, she has made a point of asking me "Was this alive? Did this come from an animal? Did it have eyes?"  I answer her pretty frankly in saying "Yes it was, but it is our food."  She has yet to refuse it, but I wonder if I have a little veggie baby in the making.  
  • Spelling is out. You know....that fantastic way that adults have of communicating with each other  in the presence of children when they do not want the children to understand the conversation and to avoid probing questions about adult topics from teeny people ("Well, they are getting a d-i-v-o-r-c-e", or "The guy was a huge j-e-r-k", or "The k-i-d-s are making me c-r-a-z-y").  I did not realize the extent of Kate's spelling talent until the other day when I was talking to my friend on the phone and said "I have to limit the c-a-n-d-y or there will never be b-e-d for the k-i-d-s and I have so much homework to do". i just did not feel like getting into a conversation about candy with Kate when Halloween candy was all that she thought about.  Kate, sitting playing with her toy puppy on the floor looks at me and says "Mom! But I WANT Candy! I will go to bed at a normal time!"  At least I was not spelling something naughty! 

New Names

My children have given themselves new names. I am not kidding. They are calling each other - and responding to each other when using the names as easily as if they were their birth names - "Lily" and "Sam". Should I be concerned? It is only when they are playing pretend, such as playing house, or zoo, or (my personal favorite and most quiet imaginary play) Library. Right now, though, they are playing construction and "Sam" just said "Lily can you please pass me the hammer? I need to fix this table". Cute names, though, right?!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Best Halloween Candy Passing Moment

A gaggle of giggly girls, about 8 or 9 years old, rings the bell. Nick answers, passing candy out while kindly exclaiming over their costumes. “Here you go, Cowgirl! Here you go, Cat. Here you go, Pumpkin. Here you go, uh, um, are you a princess?” He assumes this based on the pink dress and the pink sparkly feather boa that is criss-cross wrapped around the girl’s neck and dangling down in front. The girl, frankly but somewhat in an exasperated tone, says “NO. I am a breast-cancer-awareness-ribbon!!!!!!” Then the 8 year old she turns on her heels and flounces off with her candy.

Nick is left speechless. Me too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Kate wanted to be a witch this Halloween. Liam wanted to be a dinosaur. Luckily, we had a hand-me-down costume from their cousin Jack that was actually a crocodile, but ALL Liam saw when he saw it was dino-tastic-ness. Tyrannosaurus Liam!!!! Kate had a blast being a witch. She was most excited because I let her wear a bit of orange eye makeup to enhance her costume. Too funny! Below are several posts of all the kiddos over Halloween.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Tyrannosaurus Liam

In front of the house - ready to get some candy!!!!

Love this sign - both Halloweenish and Bostonish.


This year we went with Mr. Potato Head pumpkin decs. The kids LOVED doing it! And it was sharp-object and stinky pumpkin gut-free! :)


Patrick, Jillian, Nick and I went out to dinner and for some cocktails to celebrate my bday. We had such a fun evening out! :)