Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Side Bar

As a side bar to the Great Wolf Lodge trip.....

Coulter and I were snuggling in bed on the morning of our trip. He looked up and saw a round thing with a light. "Mom, is that a fire thingy?" I told him it was. He then said, "What's it for?" I explained that it was to let us know if there was a fire or smoke so we would be safe. Coulter, still looking confused said, "Why? They don't have an oven here." Our's goes off anytime you turn the oven on.... I had to explain that it's to let you know if there is a real fire or smoke. He's always thought it was just to indicate that the oven was being used.

Great Wolf Lodge

We went to the Great Wolf Lodge for Coulter's birthday. We ran the kids ragged. I think I ran 100 flights of stairs the first day alone. Honestly! I counted up all the slides and the times I went up and it was close to 100 flights. God only knows how many the kids ran. The water slides and whole park were amazing. The hotel, ahhhh, not so amazing.

Check in is a zoo. We got there at about 1:30 because you can start sliding at 1:00 the day of arrival. Our room was $400 so we were going to slide as much as possible. The line to check in wasn't too bad because you can't get into your room until 4:00. So I waited, they checked my credit card and gave me braclets so we could go to the water park.

"Do you have a bellman?"
"No, we don't have bellman."
"Can you store our luggage?"
"No. You can just leave your things in your car until check in time"
How convenient for them! Fine. I am told that I will have to wait in line to get my room after 4:00.

I went back at 3:50 and waited for 45 minutes in line. Got my new braclets and some brief instructions.
"Where can I find a cart to carry my luggage?"
"On the other side of the lobby." She points. I look.
"There are no carts there."
"Then we're out for now." Great. How convenient for them.
I go up to the 7th floor and luck into a cart. Grab the cart, go back down the elevator, walk across the whole hotel and convention center. This is quite a distance. I unload all the luggage, place it artfully on the cart, go back across the entire complex and off load in our "suite."

The rooms at first appearance were fine. We had a Kid Cabin Suite so the kids had their own "area." I say "area" because there is no door to the kid part. That would have been nice. The beds must have cost about $50 a piece because they are crap. I am used to staying in places that Heavenly Beds. This is the opposite. The up sides are; there is a fire place, the kids have their own TV, there is a small refrigerator and a microwave. Luckily I knew this and I brought all our food. I was not going to spend any more then I needed to.

I went back to the pool and collected the family plus Sophia's buddy and Grandma and Grandpa. They joined us for the day. The kids were worn out but we needed to dry off for a bit and eat. It had been a while.

As we left the pool we passed the candy store, pizza place, video arcade, regular arcade and a bunch of people playing the game Magic Quest. Craziness!!! We hit the room and the kids all were running around, NUTS!!! Finally they calmed down, had some dinner, birthday cake and a bit of quiet time.

After saying good bye to Grandma and Grandpa and a little show it was BACK TO THE POOL and SLIDES! We closed the place down at 10. The kids were beat but it was fun. We got up the next day, had breakfast, packed up because you have to be out by 11:00 and we went back to the waterpark. Of course we had to store the stuff in the car again. More convenience for them. We stayed until 3 and then spent a little time at the arcade and headed back home.

It was a fun 24 hours. I am not sure if it was worth the $500 it ended up costing us but it was fun. If you do go to the Great Wolf Lodge make sure and give me a call and I'll fill you in on how to best do this. And if you work for Great Wolf Lodge call me because I have lots of ideas for you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Birthday Boy

...................................................................................................................Today is Coulter's birthday and he is 5! He was born at 8:04 am in the middle of a serious snow storm. We got out the "snow storm" part a bit early this year but the 29th has stuck. So at 8:04 this morning there were hugs and kisses all around. Coulter was annoyed that I had picked him up.....HELLO!!!! Tom and Jerry is on.... His favorite. I don't care that I annoyed him. Today is the day when my lovely boy came into this world. The boy that makes me crazy in so many ways but gives me joy 10 times greater then any craziness.

He is affectionate almost to a fault. When he is sleeping he almost can't be alone. He wants to wrap around you.

He is funny. He just wants to make you laugh and will do almost anything to get it.

He is dramatic. If he is hurt, he is more hurt then anyone has ever been. Amazingly, if you find the thing that will make him happy, he is better immediately.

He is in it for now. While this can make me crazy it is also a wonderful perspective to have when approaching life. I am working on his anticipating consequences. For instance.... Last week he went out to play in the snow and go sledding WITH OUT GLOVES. And, it was after both Bob and I said, "Put on some gloves before you go out." 5 minutes later, his hands were colder and hurt more then any one's hands have EVER been cold or hurt. Drama rearing it's ugly head. But my point is, he was in it for now and right now my hands are fine and the sled is calling, "Coulter, Coulter."

He is friendly. Coulter makes friends easily and with everyone. If you are worried you won't know someone at a party, take Coulter. He looks at a room full of people as friends he doesn't know yet. Then he dives right in, in almost a methodical fashion working the room from who ever is closest to him to the farthest reaching corner. "Hi, I'm Coulter. What's your name? How old are you?" When it's time to go everyone is saying goodbye to him. What's not to like? He's funny, affectionate and friendly. A party hit!

And best of all he is ours. Like I said, he can make you crazy but the upside is so much greater that it's worth the ride. And occasionally it makes for great stories. When you don't account for consequences sometimes they are funny or dramatic or both. I love my son in every way and embrace all the parts that make him Coulter.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Christmas with 3 kids is interesting. Sophia is so excited that she doesn't know how to process it. She doesn't want to have a "party" tonight because she wants the day to be over so she can sleep so Santa will come and Christmas will be here sooner. Why the time continum changes whether we have a party or not is confusing to me. And it's not really a party, it's family and a couple neighbors for dinner. Trust me, I will be shooing them out so Santa can get his groove on. Santa is a bit behind. Snow schmow.

Coulter is excited but he's been excited for a while. He know's Christmas is coming and all about Santa. He's not sure as to the timing because he won't sit still long enough to get a grasp on what is going on. It's not happening RIGHT NOW so in Coulter's world it doesn't exist.

Kees is excited based on what everyone else is doing. If Sophia is excited, Kees is excited. If Sophia wants to build a gingerbread house, Kees wants to build a gingerbread house. And, because he isn't overly excited he's pretty easy to be around.

Tonight is going to be a zoo for sure. A couple years ago Sophia heard Santa on the roof and almost peed her pants. Not really but she was soooo excited she couldn't sleep. I know there will be excitement, only a little bit of sleeping and if all goes well, Santa will have enough time to get his groove on. Man, I hope he has time because Santa has contacted me and is feeling a bit stressed.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope Santa fulfills all your wishes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Over Indulged

I know I am not the only one that is guilty of over indulging my kids. But recently they are all WAY OVER INDULGED!!! And now it's time to pay the piper. Although Christmas is only 3 days away so I guess, in all reality, they will be indulged again. And then we are going to Great Wolf Lodge for Coutler's birthday. More indulgence. Then we're having friends over for New Year's Eve and we have fireworks and everything. So really I am going to over indulge them for another week and a half.

It all started with a week off for Thanksgiving. Followed immediately by a trip to Mexico. In Mexico we did exactly what the kids wanted, we went swimming and played on the beach, all day every day. We went on a zip line and a day cruise to a fabulous beach. When we got home they had to go to school for an entire week. Ohhhhh... And then the snow came. I got them sleds and Bob built them a luge course down the front steps and driveway. Oh, here's a good one. Last night they all slept in our bed. 5 people in one bed....forget it. They are taking over. Well tonight I put my foot down.

Tonight at dinner....OK well, kids dinner. I had been out shopping until 6 so it was pretty much take some thing out of the freezer and quick cook it. The kids were barking, "I want chicken nuggets." OK, put a few of those in the microwave. "I want some pot stickers!" Alright...put a few in boiling water. I put their food on the table and crap....where are they? They're up running around the house. "Hey, get back here and sit down." "I don't want that." WHAT? Oh man, I almost lost it. Sophia insists that she didn't want chicken. Coulter then says, "Yeah, I only wanted dumplings." And Kees is just being insolent, has no idea what he wants and is just being a butt to see how far he can push it.

We sit them down and explain that their behavior is totally unacceptable and that they need to straighten up. Mommy and daddy do not feel appreciated!!!!"Tonight you will all sleep in your own beds. Do NOT come into our room." They nod that they understand. "Tomorrow, no TV. Don't ask or you will loose TV for multiple days." We talk about setting a plan for tomorrow and that they need to occupy themselves for part of the day. They agree. Then Sophia and Coulter go make a list of things that they can do tomorrow. Some are things they can do on their own and others are things they can do with our help.

I know it's our fault for letting them get away with murder for so long. It always goes like this. They get away with it for so long and then they take total advantage of us. Then we have to pay the price to get them back in line. We'll see how this goes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yaaaayyyyy Another Snow Day!!!

I was so excited when I heard that school was out today. Awesome!!! A snow day.... Oh wait, no, that wasn't me, that was Sophia. And why is she excited? I have no idea. We don't have any plans to do anything exciting. And when Sohpia is excited the boys get excited. Lots of us here have lived in many other places. I lived in Denver for a few years. I'm not sure what the "cancel school" limit of snow is for Denver but I know it's more then 10 feet. And I walked to school, both ways, up hill, barefoot.... You know the drill. I also realized that Sohpia and Coulter will only have 6 days of school between November 21st and January 5th. We were out of town for 4 school days but the rest was all school district decistions.

I got a call from a neighbor who said they were going to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). That sounded like a great idea to me so....we're in. We started out at 12:30. First let me say that the roads were in great shape so getting there was easy. Then OMSI was a ghost town. Awesome... It's usually crazy there so I was totally jazzed. I checked the movies because we had some passes to get in free....Cool, they have Polar Express on the IMAX screen at 5. That will make for a longish day but that's alright. Maybe THAT will get me in the mood for the holiday.

We found our friends. The kids played and could take their time because, hello, no lines. It was great. We went and had some lunch, played a little more and then went to the movie. The kids loved it. I had not taken into account that this was a GIANT movie about a MOVING train. About half way through I thought I was going to throw up! Oh man, I was nausious for over an hour after the movie. On the way home (still clear streets) I had the windows open. The kids were like, "What the????" it's cold. MOMMY is not feeling well....leave the windows open.

So other then the obvious end of the day nausea it was great. The kids all had fun, didn't mess up the house (more) and now they are really tired and passed out.

All in all, it was a pretty good day, especially for a snow day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful.....

..................................Last evening I started making dinner at about 4:30. The kids wanted to sled. The problem is that when they sled they shoot out into the street. They swore to me that they would be careful but no, no, no..... They were not going to sled without an adult out there. It's just too dangerous and their collective 14 years of experience did not ease my mind. I know Coulter. He'd do it anyway and not look for cars. He is in it for right now, not 2 seconds from now RIGHT NOW! And sledding is fun, really fun RIGHT NOW!

So the kids were out side with a ban on sledding. I was inside making taco meat. I love tacos and all the stuff that goes with them. These were going to be good and I was hungry. Making tacos, making tacos, making tacos..... When it dawned on me that my kids can have tacos anytime. Summer, winter....who cares? They like tacos fine but they really love sledding. They aren't going to remember that we had tacos a few days before Christmas when they were little. They would remember sledding, mom laughing with them and being really happy.

So I turned off the burners, bundled up and headed out screaming, "Get your sleds! Get your sleds!" They jumped up and down and got their sleds. They went down the driveway about 100 times and I caught them every time. Sometimes with my shins but I caught them and they were safe and happy, really happy. I hope they remember sledding with joy in their hearts. I will.

And late taco dinner was pretty good too.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Things Over Heard at My House

Bob reported, "Sophia has Coulter on a leash and Kees is shooting them from the deck. Peeouw, peeouw."

Driving quietly down the street Coulter suddenly yells, "Turn it on!" I said, "Turn what on?" and he says, "Sunday" WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?????? I get a lot of these things / statements / questions. It hurts my brain.

Sophia and I were sitting in the nook having lunch. She was stareing at my hair, then she touched it and said, "Your hair is really stablized today."

Coulter was lying in bed with me this morning. I got out to go to the bathroom. When I got back he said, "I am laying in your spot." I said, "Move over." He said, "You're my spot." and then he wrapped himself around me and went back to sleep.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

That Was a "Great" Day

This is a story I wrote in the Spring of 2007. I had to share....

May 17, 2007

Today was a day that I had to write about. It started out as usual, getting 3 small children ready for their respective days. The 6 year old had to be dragged out of bed and assisted with getting dressed. Usually she gets ready herself but oh, no, not today. The 3 year old was dressed and then immediately crawled back into bed and passed out. The 1 year old was happy as can be when he got out of bed and then 2 minutes later was nuts while dressing him. Seriously, it’s like dressing half formed Jell-O when he gets like that. OK so they’re dressed.

Everyone gets their lunch made while they eat breakfast. Good, good…. Except the 1 yr old throws up (The throwing up is a point of information that my husband has left out of the briefing at the later pass off) and the3 yr old now relieves himself mid pancake bite while the 6 year old yells, “Gross, gross….. AHHHhhhhh” Change pants, clean off the 1 yr old, move forward and off to school we go.

Daddy takes the 6 and 1 year olds and I take the 3 year old because I have a doctor’s appt and daddy is going to keep the 1 yr old for a bit. (Note – I have been looking forward to this appt so I can have some quiet time.) We get to school and my son looses his cool, flopping on the floor, screaming and generally refusing to go in. Thank God for his teacher who comes out, coaxes him in and then holds onto him (he’s screaming) while I head out. I know this sounds cruel if you don’t have kids but believe me, his screaming is a performance solely for my benefit. I called the school an hour later to check on him. He was like, “Mommy who?” He was fine.

The doctor visit, blood work and all was a blast compared to the rest of my day. And, my doctor said I was in great shape (not my actual shape but all the blood work and all.) I get home, my husband says all is well but the 1 yr old is jonesin’ to go on a walk. OK, I can do that.

We go on a walk through the park and past my daughter’s school, the 1 yr old plays, gets whiney and it’s time for a nap. We head home and stop at the school. We spend about 15 minutes there and are treated like heroes. That was nice.

During nap time I clean, do dishes and do laundry (always LOTS of laundry.) I wake him up 2 hours later pack him in the car and throw some raisins and milk at him. He wants nothing with the sandwich and fresh fruit that I packed for him. I pick up the 3 yr old, zoom back, pick up the 6 yr old and her buddy (play date) and we go home. I now make snacks and serve small people for 45 minutes and everyone wants something other then what I make. Too bad guys. Buddy leaves and I pack my 3 into the car.

It’s Family Night at the 3 yr old’s school and his class is doing a skit. This is exciting. But, Daddy’s big boss has come into town and needs to be “entertained” for the evening so no Daddy tonight. Don’t worry, I just charged up the video camera for 30 minutes and he’ll get to see it. Oh, and I have the camera. First, swing by the 6 yr old’s school to pick up items left behind outside on the playground. Hurray, they’re still there. Second, go 10 blocks and then go back home to pick up the backpack for the 1 yr old. I am going to need it to keep him contained. Next, swing through the KFC drive through and get what I know they’ll eat while they yell at me what they think they want. The 1 yr old is just yelling because the other 2 are yelling. He doesn’t speak yet, at least not English. I guess he is talking in his own way. Whatever…..

So I say we’ll have a little picnic on the school grounds and then go in for the show. Great plan. I look in the rear view mirror and the 6 yr old is nodding “yes” to the plan and the 3 yr old is passed out. Gone. You need to know that when a 3 yr old falls asleep in the late afternoon he isn’t going to be waking up happy in 20 minutes. Nope. So we get to the school, I pull out a blanket set everything out and convince the 1 yr old to join us. This is after moving away from the dog poop and straightening out the blanket 6 times after he, the 1 yr old, has moved it all over the place. Parents are going in to the school and I can hear the thoughts, “Nice dinner mom.” I hope they could hear my thoughts back. Two minutes into dinner the 1 yr old starts burping and gagging and then throws up all over himself and the blanket. Awesome! He does it twice. More awesome! The 6 yr old is gagging. I tell her to stop it. It’s making me sick. I clean off the 1 year old by striping him and then dressing him in a jacket I found in the car and pass it off to choking. (Wouldn’t it have been nice if I knew it wasn’t the first time that day?)

I now wake up the 3 yr old because it’s going to take a few minutes (if I am lucky) to get him going and into costume. He is going to be an elephant. He is crying and saying, “I want to go home. I’m tired.” The 6 yr old announces she has to go to the bathroom, “Baaaaaaad.” I tell her she’ll have to wait. I bag all the barfy stuff, clean up the picnic, put the 1 yr old in the backpack (now see, it was worth the little side trip) and pick up the 3 yr old off the ground 5 times. “Wake up!” He kind of does but not really.

We go inside and plant ourselves in the front row. The 6 yr old finds relief, the 1 yr old is swinging from side to side on my back and the 3 yr old is refusing to put on his costume and perform. WHAT THE HELL? Come on, I have waited all year and then have gone through all this and now nothing? The 6 yr old who has, until this point, been encouraging her brother starts to cry, “I want to see him perform. I have been waiting forever for this.” She really IS sad. It’s cute but not helping my mood. The 1 yr old starts burping and jerking. Parents know this means, “I am about to throw up.” The 3 yr old decides he has to pee. I head for the bathroom that is in the back of the room. He is screaming, “I want to go to the bathroom DOWN STAIRS.” Forget it buster. We go in, he’s still screaming about the downstairs bathroom. I, now behind a closed door, grab him and threaten him. “You are going to pee and then put your costume on.” “No, I want to go home.” He finally pees…….like a pregnant woman, 3 drops. I break down and while we are in there I bribe him. “I’ll give you a lollipop if you do the performance.” “No, I want to go home.”

We go back to our seats. I keep trying. The 1 yr old is jerking me all over the place and crying. The 6 yr old is crying, “Please, please do it. Pleeeeeaaaasssseeee” After 15 minutes of pushing and prodding the 3 yr old decides…… He’ll do it. We put on his costume and I march him out in to the hall with the rest of his class. His teacher is glad to see him. He’s all smiles. He knows what he’s doing, being stubborn and all. Great.

I go back in, sit down and pull out the camera, the video recorder and my cell. Gotta get that cell shot. I try out the video camera and CRAP, I left it on and the battery is dead. Deep cleansing breath. Good thing I put new batteries in the camera and it has a video setting. It’s not very good but it is better than my video camera at this minute. The 3 yr old files in with his class and is so cute. He smiles, starts to sing and then eats boogers through the WHOLE thing. Seriously, I fed him dinner! In the middle of one of the songs the 1 yr old, who is on my back remember, starts to jerk and burp. I whip him off my back. I DON’T need barf in my hair, really. I hold a rag up to him and thank God, it passes…..again.

At the end of the performance the 3 yr old starts ripping his costume off. Picture the Incredible Hulk. He finds a little rip in the neck line and proceeds to rip it off his body. Hey, at least it was the end. We all applaud the performance and my daughter takes flowers up to my son. Very cute. I march everyone out to the car, give the 3 yr old the lollipop that was promised and a Tootsie Roll to the screaming 1 yr old. He knows what I am doing when I go into the “Treat Hole” of the van. Everyone is quiet; I explain what is going to happen when we get home and get their buy in. At home the 1 yr old gets a bath because he stinks, the 6 yr old gets in her pj’s and the 3 yr old brings me his. Everyone gets ready for bed, we go through the evening routine and everyone, after a bit of fussing and screaming, goes to sleep. It has been a great day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Hola mi amigos! Como esta? Bien, y tu? Tequilla por tu? OK enough of that. Yeah, we're home from our awesome trip to Mexico. The weather was perfect, the kids all played well and there was a bit of tequila happening and cerveza as well. Beer to you gringos. We all had a great time.

The kids got up at 4:30 in the morning the day after Thanksgiving. Bob and I were prepared for a total nightmare but they were great! The 2 flights to Mexico were flawless and we didn't even need any of the crap that I had prepared. I was sure that I'd be handing out new things to do every 2 minutes but no, they were totally happy. On the flight out of San Francisco Bob put the headsets on the boys and tuned it to the station where the pilots converse with the tower. After about a half hour Kees took his head set off and happily announced, "I LIKE listening to the pirates."

First things first in Mexico. We quickly unpacked and went to dinner with everyone! Mom, Ed, aunts, uncles and cousins. There was a beautiful sunset and everyone got reacquainted.

Now the real fun..... POOL, BEACH and SUN. The kids all played so nicely together. Kees and Coulter played like best friends. The weather was so great. One degree cooler would have been too cool and one hotter, too hot. And if you were too hot there were all those palm trees to sit under. As the first order of business, Sophia and I had our hair braided. It was nice not to have to worry about hair for a week. Not that it is really high on my daily agenda but it was also cooler.

So less the hair braiding, read the above and repeat 6 times. Life near a beach and a pool with kids is at the pool and the beach with kids. They don't care what or when they eat so long as they get to. They never want to sleep but eventually just pass out. It was so nice. I went to the grocery store each day and bought what we needed so I could make sandwiches for the day time and something simple but hot for dinner and breakfast.

Our 2 excursions were as follows. On the 3rd day we went on a bus into the jungle and Sophia, Mom and I went on zip lines. There were 16 in all and the longest one was a quarter mile long. Sophia was a bit nervous at first but after the first one she was an old pro. The on the 5th day we took a boat out to a neighboring town. It was just a loud boat ride to another beach. Not really so different then the other days just a different view. The waves were pretty treacherous but Bob saved all the kids a few times and a couple of adults as well. Then back on the loud boat to beach #1.
Mom and Ed watched the kids a couple of nights so Bob and I were able to go out. That was fun. We took the kids out a night or two but mostly it was pretty slow paced.

We got home at midnight on Friday. That was the least fun part of the trip. Luckily the kids each had their own row of seats and were able to sleep on the plane. Getting them up and in a cab was a true challenge.

So that was it. Fun in the sun. Especially nice this time of year when it's so cold out. I was finally allowed to take my braids out today. Sophia insisted we have matching hair for her first day back to school. It's very strange that Christmas is only 2 weeks away. There is not all the same hype down in Mexico about sales and Christmas. That was also nice. But I am having a hard time getting into it. As a matter of fact, we're not having a Christmas Party this year for the first time in about 10 years. Because.......I just don't feel like it. So there. But I digress....

BTW, the pictures I have on here are two of the 5 that I have. Bob walked into the ocean with my camera. I was so relaxed that I got over it in short order. Not my usual demeanor. Thanks again to Mom and Ed for facilitating this trip. We all had a great time.