Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alfred E Newman

Coulter is a funny boy. He makes me laugh, he is a bit mischievous, is high strung and sometimes he is a bit sensitive. I took this picture yesterday and immediately I thought of Alfred E. Newman. Come on.... Less the red hair that could be him! So I sent it out to a few family members. A couple got it, a couple didn't know who that was. Then I put the pictures side by side with Alfred E. Newman on the right and Coulter on the left. It was all in one frame. It was hilarious.

I posted it on Facebook. Immediately I got comments. Apparently it wasn't just me that thought he was a ringer. So me, thinking I am so cleaver, showed Coulter. I said, "Hey, come here I want to show you something." He saw the pictures side by side and burst into tears. I said, "What's the matter?" And he crumpled into my lap and said, "THAT'S MEAN!" I said, "I didn't mean to be mean. I thought it was funny." And he said, "It's NOT. It's MEEEAAAAN." I clicked it closed and told him I had deleted it. We chatted and I said I was sorry and could we be friends again. He said, "yes." but I really did hurt his feelings.

After he went to bed I got to thinking. I love my boy and I don't want him to ever feel less then special, less than beautiful or less then anything! So I did do it. I deleted it from Facebook, I even deleted it from my computer. After I deleted it from everywhere I felt better. So I know that I did the right thing. I know that if he were sitting by me sometime and it popped up he would feel betrayed and I do not want that. I love him and he needs to trust me. It is the little things that we remember when we grow up. Some of the things that I remember about my childhood are moments from day to day living. They aren't anything that you would call monumental or even, possibly, notable. Yet there they are, the moments that are imprinted on my mind, my soul. I hope this wasn't one of those moments for him. I certainly didn't do it to hurt him. And more then anything I want him to know that I honored his feelings by following through on my promise to delete it. I am not sure what about it was so hurtful to a 5 year old, very silly boy, but it is now gone and that is what matters most.

I love you Coulter.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kees' Favorite Color is PINK!!!

My sweet baby boy's most favoritest color is pink. Having a big sister who thinks that fairies are the most awesome thing, that wears pink every day, and is a girly girl has an effect on a guy. He's been dressed up in princess clothes as long as he can remember. We all paint our finger and toe nails regularly. He gets very excited when the House Fairy comes and leaves him a gift for cleaning his room. And he loves a good fairy or princess story as much as anyone.

Late this Spring as we were planning our summer trips I made everyone try on their water shoes. All fit well. So that's that right? No, Kees wanted pink water shoes like Fia's. He loved hers and did not like his AT ALL! As I was out shopping I saw some pink water shoes for $8. How can I deny my boy his pink water shoes at that price. Really I think it's precious that he likes pink. I know that it will only last so long so I indulge him with his pink things.

I got home and presented him his shoes. OH, he was so happy! He put them right on and wore them all weekend. And then he wore them (proudly) to school on Monday. I worried a little about him getting teased but I knew the teachers would protect him. When I went to pick him up he ran over and told me, "That boy over there said that my shoes are girl shoes." I said, "Well they're not! They're on a boys feet, so they're boy's shoes." He seemed content with that answer but still a little confused about why that guy didn't get it.

Then last month he had his toe and finger nails painted purple. When we were in San Francisco the kids were running around in their bare feet at a play ground. Some kid gave him a hard time about the color on his finger nails. Again he came over to me and was concerned about this. Seriously!!! In San Francisco of all places a guy should be safe with purple nails! I told him to ignore that kid and he did.

Now don't get me wrong. In his mind there is nothing finer then MONSTER TRUCKS!!! He loves any kind of car, truck, boat, train etc. Anything with a motor and the bigger and faster the better. He and his brother have been into guns. I don't think there is any way you can ignore the fact that there are guns in this world and that boys are drawn toward them. He loves his bike and pretends it's a motorcycle. Swords...GOOD. BIG TRUCKS....GOOD. Kung fu....GOOD. Pretend shooting....GOOD. Throwing stuff....GOOD. He is all boy...except for the pink stuff. Maybe all that serious boy stuff is why it's particularly cute that he likes pink.

He is starting to get it....that our society doesn't let boys, at least little boys, wear pink. I don't know why, he looks really cute in pink. His daddy wears pink and no one says anything nasty to Bob when he wears pink. It breaks my heart that anyone would give my baby a hard time about it. It's the beginning of his growing up and trying to conform to society. I knew it would happen but it's still hard. I don't want any of my kids to have to change who they are just so they can "fit in." They are awesome individuals as they are. I love them as their sweet innocent little selves.

So he still is wearing pink but he is a little more guarded. He isn't as exuberant about his pink water shoes as he once was. And that is a bit sad for me but it also means he's growing up and that is not sad. He is a beautiful, sensitive boy who will probably have a new favorite color soon. I will have to accept some boring ole "boy" color like blue or brown or something. But I will always have the memories of his purple toes, his pink water shoes, and that cute princess dress that matched his brothers. I love my little boys and look forward to the young men they will become.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

When we last visited our life story I believe we had just arrived home from a successful trip to California. So I will try and pick up from there.

It's been a nice week all around. The weather was cool and comfortable. I really like that, especially since it's supposed to be in the 100's for 3 days and maybe 5 days in a row this week. YIKES!

This week the kids had play dates. We went swimming. Actually when I say "we" I pretty much mean Bob and the kids. I went once. Being a stay at home mom is a privilege and honor but it is also exhausting. The only problem with our trip was that we got home on a Monday night. The kids missed their daddy. This meant that every day they wondered where their daddy was when they got up and it was 4 days before he could be home for the day. That was a bummer. They haven't been in a routine all summer (and that is my fault) but it makes for frustrating days when they're supposed to be in "routine" mode. You know like on a Tuesday when we don't have to be anywhere or do anything. Say, one could sleep in, read or just play quietly. And last year they would have gotten up and figured out what to do. NOPE. Sophia has been in my room every day at 7:00.

"Mom, where's daddy?"
"Mom, can I watch TV?"
"Mom, I'm bored."

Now me, "Daddy is at work. It's early. Go back to bed."
"NO TV. Go back to bed. It's early"
"Sophia, you are too young to be bored. Figure it out. Read, play fairies, play with your playmobile, go to sleep. I don't care."

I like to sleep. I REALLY like to sleep. Sophia used to be a WORLD class sleeper. She no longer is. Now the boys..... They climb into bed with me each morning at about 6 and they'll sleep until the cows come home. Our room is cold and dark, like a bat cave, less the guano. Each time Sophia came into our room she woke up not only me but the boys. This sucks. The kids have been up fairly late. The sun doesn't go down until 9 around here and we have either had dinner with or had friends over a lot. This means late nights. AND I can't seem to get it through Sophia's head that she CAN'T come in my room unless something is on fire, someone is injured or if there is some sort of danger. I guarantee, if she continues this pattern SHE will be in DANGER.

So that has been the mornings....

Once everyone is up and moving we've been playing close to home. The boys have been playing really nicely together which is great. Sophia has had friends over or has been at a friend's house. Being in the location that we are, people stop over all the time as well. We are not bored for sure. We've also gone to the park. I still love the park. There's the wading pool, the arts and crafts and sporting equipment all available for the kids to play. Iva loves it because she gets to go and sometimes she gets to play ball. I have really been trying to be relaxed about our days and let them develop in an organic fashion. It's been a nice way to be. Laundry and cleaning gets done between taking care of kids.

Friday we got up and I left it up to the kids as to what we were going to do. This started because the housekeepers (who usually come around 10:30) came at 8:15. They have a key to the house so they can let themselves in. I awoke to the sound of a vacuum downstairs. I quick got dressed, woke up the boys, got them dressed and said, "Where do you want to go to breakfast?" I didn't want to mess up the kitchen, the housekeepers "Base of Operations." They wanted to go to Burger King. The Burger King has a huge play structure. Hummm... not my idea of good but that is fine. "Let's go!"

They played for a couple hours and then it was off to OMSI. We picked out an Omnimax movie to watch and then went to play. We went to get a bite to eat. This is something that I never do because I usually pack a lunch. Why go for a free day (with membership) and then buy stuff? But we go and buy stuff. And do you know what? It only cost $8.35 for what we wanted. Now it seems silly to work so hard to pack my own lunch. Actually we just had a snack so a "real" lunch would have been more. But I still veered from my regular routine and that was something for me. Then we went to the movie and it was fun and then home to BBQ with the neighbors.

We had a nice time with the neighbors. It is the first time we have cooked out with them all summer because we have been gone. We enjoyed each other's company, had good food and later sat out on the deck and chatted while the kids watched a movie. A great summer night in my book.

Then yesterday (Saturday) we had a free form day. Bob gave blood, took Sophia to the pool to watch a friend swim in a meet and I took the boys out. We hit a few yard sales but couldn't find any kid stuff. Bummer. We went to brunch and they had pancakes. Then it was off to the farmer's market for some tomatoes. Yum! Lastly, we went to the Dollar Store. They each got a dollar and got "Black Men" stuff. They announced this all over the store. "MOM, WE'RE GETTING BLACK MEN STUFF." Me LOUDLY, "AHHH, THAT IS MEN IN BLACK. NOT BLACK MEN. MEEEEENNN IN BLLLAAAACK." Lordy. They really need to clear that up in their little heads especially if they are going to announce it all over the store.

The kids played in the afternoon. Bob took them to the pool and then we went to a friends for dinner. The kids all had fun and Sophia got a sleep over out of the deal. The dinner was delicious. Later I worked on menus for a dinner later in the week and for our up coming Decatur trip. So much to do.

So it's been a good week....fairly low key. I love our home and what we do here. I am a little sad that we've been gone so much but we really have been having fun. We'll be gone in a week for a week but then we're home for the rest of the summer. We'll have to look at how this summer has gone, talk to the kids, evaluate their behavior (too much to do makes for crazy kids), expenses and such. There are so many factors to take into consideration, and when we do look at all these aspects we have to decide if this is what we want to do with our time. Summers are precious time. I have enjoyed everything we have done but I have missed the local aspect of our summer this year. Maybe August will give us enough of that. We'll see. I love that for the most part we have all been together. That is obviously really important especially since being away from daddy for a week was really hard.

So all in all we're still having fun. This week will be full of new adventures and fun. Sophia is going to overnight camp, Coulter has T-ball and Kees and I will have coffee or something. And it will be 100+ for most of the week. Good times.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More San Francisco Pictures

Home Again, Home Again, Jigity Jig

First I have to tell you about more of San Francisco. I left of as we were headed to the city to go to the Exploratorium.

We left Martinez and took the BART into the city at about 11 am. When we arrived at the Powell Station we emerged into a total crowd. There were about 1000 people waiting to ride the cable car from Powell over the hill to the Wharf. The line was UNREAL! Since we had already ridden the cable car we decided to skip the 2 hour wait. We went to lunch at a sushi place and then took the #30 from Fillmore directly to the Palace of Fine Arts. It's not the same as riding the cable car over the hill but it was certainly faster.

The Palace of Fine Arts is beautiful. The kids ran around and climbed trees and had a grand time. Then I took them into the Exploratorium. They played and ran around. It was really fun to see them enjoying the exact same space that I had enjoyed so much as a kid. We spent the whole of the afternoon there.

It closed at 5 and we went back out to enjoy the park. After the park it was back on the #30 and into Chinatown.

We hopped out in Chinatown and walked to the middle. We were hungry and since we had a good experience the first time we went back to the same place we had been a few nights before. As we walked in Kees said, "We ALWAYS go here." Like we lived up the street. That made me laugh. Dinner was terrific again. After dinner we went to the park. The park that we "always" go to after dinner in Chinatown. The kids played and burned off some energy. By this time it was 9:00. We walked back up through Chinatown to our favorite junk shop that we "always" go to and got some more stuff. We loved it. Then we met the cable car and rode back down the hill to the BART. Nancy met us at the train station and by the time I got the kids in bed it was 10:15. The kids had been great companions and good little city walkers/riders.

The next day Sophia did some glass art in Nancy's studio. Nancy has a beautiful new glass studio. Not made of, for Sophia LOVES to make fused glass. Nancy was gracious and helped Sophia do whatever she wanted to do. She made 3 little pieces and really was proud of herself. The boys swam most of the day and it was generally a nice day.

Then our last full day we went to visit my good friends Sam and Helene Sobel. They lived on the other side of the duplex that we lived in and were my mom and dad's good friends. Helene is from Norway and always seemed so sophisticated and smart to me. Yep, she still amazes me. She just got home from a week long trip to the Arctic with National Geographic where she took photos. She is an amazing photographer. And Sam is funny and very smart. He is now a retired cardiologist and is doing some law work a few days per week. I love their adventures, their style, and their humor. It has been too long since I have seen them. Their son Jeff was there to see us as well. Their house has the most amazing view of the city. It's up on Twin Peaks and looks over both the bay and the ocean over the Golden Gate Park. Wow! I hadn't seen them since our wedding 13 years ago! So of course they hadn't met the kids. Luckily they were on pretty good behavior and their son Jeff was really good with the kids. He is a DJ and had all kinds of music and videos to show them. We spent almost 4 hours with them and I loved every minute of it.

We got home, Nancy made another great dinner. I love that Nancy makes good food. I know that I can count on Nancy to make something interesting and good. After dinner I started to pack and put the kids to bed.

And yesterday we finally started to make our way home. We said our good byes and left the Slack's house at 9:30 in the morning. Again we listened to books on tape. This time I got to pick and I picked "The Magician's Nephew" by C.S. Lewis. They liked it but it was a bit too long for them. By 4 hours in we were only half way through the book. I stopped the torture and put on a movie for them. Along the rest of the way we talked, they watched a couple movies and listened a bit more to some of the book. We only stopped 5 times for food and potty. We made it home in 10 hours flat. That is good time with 3 babies in tow.

Bob was really happy to see us and the kids were thrilled to see their daddy. They had been missing their daddy. That makes me happy. Iva was bouncing around like a crazy dog and was really happy too. We all hugged....for about 5 minutes.....and then the kids and daddy went to the pool. Again, getting the energy out.

So it was a really successful trip. We are all very happy to be home with our daddy (husband) and Iva, our dog. I am very happy that things went so well. It was a bit stressful to think of traveling by myself with 3 kids but after this I am greatly encouraged. I think a big part of the success was that I let the kids make a lot of the decisions. If they got tired of what we were doing or needed food we would stop and go in a new direction and feed the need. I found that as long as they were happy doing what we were doing they didn't get too fussy. Even Kees could walk around downtown San Francisco at almost 10 pm and was happy. I have good little travelers and in my book that is huge. I have planned to travel with these guys for years and now it looks like I'll be able to do it with out too much complaining. As long as we plan well and stop when we need to they're amenable to new experiences. This is good. I have plans to travel and show my kids all that this great country has to offer and the idea of that makes my heart sing with joy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Open up that Golden Gate California HERE WE ARE!!!!

Good times here in Cali.... We started off on Sunday after I went and got a new phone. See DAMN IT to get that irritating story. We went to a 5 year old birthday party where Coulter and Sophia were falling apart. Sophia finally got it together. Coulter on the other hand.... This did not give me hope for the ride.

At 1:30 I was finished with crying kids. Coulter saying this day at a party with a bunch of buddies was the "worst day of his life." Apparently he didn't know how much worse it would get if we didn't change the situation fast. I was fixin' to make it much worse for him. We loaded in the car and started out for CALIFORNIA. The first bit of business in the car....NO SHOW. I got a bunch of books on tape from the library. They picked one that was 4.5 hours long and didn't complain once about no movie. NOT ONCE!!! Then we listened to a shorter one. At about 7:30 we stopped for some food and I use that term loosely. Yuck, road food. We all talked and the kids were given 2 options. The first was too press on. They could sleep sitting up and I would drive until we got to the East Bay area. We'd get in really late but we'd get there. The second was to stop and stay at a hotel, maybe swim and sleep in a real bed.

They decided to stop. Remember, the last hotel they stayed in was the Atlantis in the Bahamas..... We checked into the Motel 6 in Weed California. There was Wi-Fi, a pool and 2 beds in our room. The room was clean but really small. The kids all helped unload. Then Sophia said, "Ahh, this is a little different then our last room." And we all got a BIG laugh out of that. No baby, this was no Suite at the Atlantis. They went swimming. For 5 minutes. It was really cold! The air temp was 68 and I am pretty sure they don't heat the pool. So now they are freezing. They took a shower all together in the RV sized shower. They got their PJs on and played for a while before going to bed.

I woke up early due to doors slamming and dogs barking. The "noise" was on (white noise) so the kids slept through all of that. I showered, got dressed, pulled out clothes for the kids and then loaded the car. Sophia was up and dressed by the time I got back to the room. Getting the boys out of bed was another thing. Again I gave the kids a choice. Do you want to go to breakfast now or drive for a while and then stop. They wanted to get on the road.

We started another book on tape and drove on. It was a nice drive for an hour. We stopped at Denny's and all had what we wanted. They were really good. Then back in the car for another 4 hours. Again with the books on tape. At the end they watched a movie and we didn't have to stop for potty breaks. Awesome!

We arrived at Nancy and Dave's at about 2:00 and the kids went straight into the pool. They have a great place in the East Bay area and of course....with a pool. We all caught up with each other, Nancy made a great dinner and we enjoyed our selves for the balance of the day.

Day....Let's say day #3, we (including Nancy) went into the "CITY." San Francisco of course. It was great fun. We took the BART in. The kids were a bit nervous that it goes under the bay but they did like it. Then we walked around the Embarcadero, walked through the Hyatt, walked the newly remodeled Ferry Terminal / Market (very cool) and then took a cable car. The boys wanted to watch the driver, I think he's called the Grip man, Sophia and I hung off the side. She thought that was one of the coolest things she had ever done! We hoped off in Chinatown. We walked Chinatown and did a little shopping. The kids each got a little something. Next we found a spot for dinner. It was great and too much food for sure! The we took the cable car to the train and went home. It was a great day. No one complained about walking or carrying their things. It was a total success!

Day #4 - Back into the city for us. We drove this time. We took the Bay Bridge over, drove along the Embarcadero and stopped at Pier 39. We walked Pier 39, stopped in a couple shops and rode the double decker merry-go-round. Then we did the best part, we saw the Sea Lions, there were hundreds of them barking and generally lounging around. We all enjoyed that a lot. I have to say after being at Pier 39 again I don't think I have to go back except maybe for the Sea Lions. The Pier itself just has a ton of junk shops that are brightly colored. The parking is $7.00 an hour! We enjoyed it but really....too touristy.

Then we were going to drive to the Presidio via Fisherman's Wharf. When we were driving through the Wharf area there was a parking spot right near the action. I pulled in. When the good Lord throws you a golden ticket you take it. Parking at the Wharf was $.25 for 6 min or $2.50 an hour. Still a lot of quarters but worth it. We walked along the crab and shrimp stands and then ended up at an old time arcade. It was all the machines that used to be at the Cliff House. These were machines from the 20's to the 40's. It was so fun. There were dancing puppets, player pianos, baseball games, bowling games, photo booths, moving scenes and so much more. It's the kind of thing you have to see. I remember going to the Cliff House when I was a kid and playing these games I couldn't believe there were there! Then a bit more walking around the Wharf and back to the car. That was a fun little stop.

We drove through the Marina District, then past the Palace of Fine Arts, and through the Presidio. The kids were getting really bored. I showed them where I used to live and play. They didn't really care too much. They wanted to get to the park. We drove past the Cliff House and into the Park, Golden Gate Park. What a gem. Except Coulter thought otherwise..."Where's the park?" When he hears "park" it means play structure. Ahhh...We found a play structure. Thank goodness. The kids played for an hour and then we went to find a snack. We didn't do much eating during the day. Then we went downtown to meet Dave for dinner at a great pub. They gave us our own little room off the main dinning area so it was great for the kids. Then home and swimming and bed.... Another successful day.

Day #5 - The kids were done with the city and wanted to swim dang it. We stayed home and they went swimming ALL DAY. I thought I would get acquainted with my new cell phone. I tried to sync it and it froze up! Argh.... I tried everything could think of and then I called T-Mobile and spent 3 hours on the phone. This is NOT what I wanted to do on my vacation! But I did get it fixed. I swear if this happens again I am going to go into T-Mobile and who ever is there is in big trouble. Anyway, I planned out another day in the city for day #6.

Today, day #6 I am taking the kids to the Exploritorium via the train, cable car and bus. This should be a big adventure if nothing else. I am really proud that the kids have been so good and they've been great little travellers. This means that we can do more of this in the future and I don't have to be worried that they can't or won't do it. I'll blog more when I can.... big adventures to come!!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Damn it....

The kids and I are going to California today and we're pretty excited. Last night I went to Fred Meyer at about 7:30 to pick up a few things for the trip. Special snacks, a few books and sun screen. I received a call on my cell phone and then set it on the seat of the cart. I realized that I needed sun screen (I had passed it). Instead of taking my cart I left it behind while I grabbed that one thing. I was gone all of 30 seconds.

When I got back to where my cart should have been it was gone! Of course I thought, "Someone must have grabbed it by accident." So I ran around looking for my cart. At that point I only wanted all the stuff I had collected back. What a pain. After an innitial run around I went to the customer service desk and had them call out for my cart. No answers. I ran around the whole store. Nothing. I also realize during this time that my cell phone was on the cart. CRAP!!!! I am driving to California tomorrow by my self and I want my phone I go back to the cust svc desk....

I check behind the desk. There is my stuff! The guy says, "That's good news. It means that someone from the store moved it." What we came to realize is that the store person moved it second. DAMN IT!!!! My cell phone, of course, wasn't there. They let me call my phone in hopes we can hear it. It goes straight to voice mail. Weird. I know it was working a half hour ago. Now my only hope is, that perhaps, I set it down some place. I run around the WHOLE store again, no luck. It was indeed in the cart as I had thought.

A glimmer of hope. The people who work at Fred Meyer caught 3 girls who had been stealing stuff in the same section of the store where my cart went missing. Please, please, please..... I think they took it but they must have ditched it. The staff went through all their stuff but didn't find it. This phone is of no use to anyone but me. It has a pass code on it so they'll never be able to use it. They can't even sell it. So now it's probably in a trash can some place and I have to buy a new phone.

I was so mad. Mad that someone had the balls to take my phone. Mad that they would never be able to use it. Mad that I left it in the cart. Mad that I have to buy a new phone. Mad that the timeing is so bad. Mad, mad, mad.....

But I am starting to calm down. I will go get a new phone today. I'll sync it up and we'll be on our way. We will have fun in California. And we will be safe because as we all know, when you're prepared for the worst you generally don't get the worst.

Wish us luck on our way....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Week in Review

The kids went to Apple Tree Day Camp this week. ATDC is so fab. It was $200 for all 3 of my kids to go for 4 hours a day all week. Not only is it a value it is really fun. They sing songs...all kinds of camp songs, they do crafts, learn a little of another language and this year they had a talent show. One kid got up and did jumping jacks, it was hilarious. Coulter rode his bike as his talent, Sophia played fiddle and Kees chickened out. He has terrible stage fright. Coulter, on the other hand, owns the stage. I was able to do laundry and little things around the house. It's amazing what you can do with a little uninterupted time.

Then last night Bob and I went to a going away party for a woman who is moving to Salem. It was at the home of one of Bob's coworkers. Honestly I didn't expect to have too much fun but we were sort of obligated to go. I had a blast. It started out quietly enough at 6:00. They had a beautiful back yard, a great spot to hang out. They have a 200 year old Sequoia in their back yard. It is awesome. We ended up staying until midnight. In that time the hosts sang a song which, of course, got me going. I sang a few songs. We talked and by the end of the night I was Dr. Leek as deemed by the Chief of Staff at the hospital. It was great and I was glad to meet all the people Bob works with. Bob even got a dinner invitation for Tuesday night since the kids and I are going to out of town.

Tomorrow we have a birthday party to attend and then the kids and I are driving to California to visit my friends Nancy and Dave. There should be some good blogging.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Beauty of a Bike by Heather Leek

There are many wonderful things about a bike
The feeling of the wind on my body I like

The silent speed zooming down hills is like flying
Pumping up hills, working hard or at least trying

You’ll help ease congestion and wear on our roads
If we all rode our bikes then money…we’d save loads

Protecting the environment is good for community health
A bike makes you healthier, feel better-and that’s wealth

Riding can be a great form of meditation
It gets you out of a funk and off of medication

It will raise your spirits and lower your blood pressure
You will live longer, stronger so each day you can treasure

You can think, you MUST think and stay alert
If you don’t pay attention you can get really hurt

At a stop light while waiting for the light to change
Chatting with the guy next to you doesn’t seem so strange

In a car when someone chats with you think, “They’re crazy!
I’m in my car, my space, leave me alone, I’m lazy.”

A bike is more social and can free your soul
I feel more alive like I am a bit more whole

So get out of your car and ride it takes guts
Watch out for the autos some of ‘em are nuts

You’ll feel better for doing better for me and for you
I think you’ll enjoy riding your bike as much as I do

A True Oregonian

The past 3 days I have felt like a true Oregonian and Portlander. On July 5th I left Manzanita at 10 am to drive directly to Mt. Hood for a party. This might sound epic but it was only a 2-1/2 hour drive. My friend Terri Naito was having a Cabin Warming Party and was kind enough to include me. When I arrived I recognized a bunch of people and there were LOTS I didn't. I'll bet there were 60 people there when I arrived. Terri greeted me, walked me around and said, "Now be your usual fun self and introduce yourself around. You'll be fine." She knows me well enough to know I was not going to be shy. After a while I was sitting by my friend Teri Rowan. She was perusing a book of hikes. I thought, "I hope she's planning a hike. I'd love to do a bit of moving." A few minutes later I hear Lisa say, "We're going on a hike." to a group near me. I asked, "Can I go along?" "SURE" And off we went.

It was a really nice hike. I don't know how far it was but I think it took us about 2-1/2 hours with a lengthy stop at the destination point. Imagine, 5 hours before I was on the coast and here I was at a beautiful mountain stream. The group all took our shoes off and dipped our feet in the stream. Ahhh, cool, refreshing. In this group was a woman named Suzy. The reason I point her out is that, Rebecca my friend at the beach (usually my in town friend and walking partner), job shares with Suzy. Before I left the beach she said, "I'll bet my friend Suzy is there." Sure enough, there she was on the hike. Suzy and I talked for a long time. She was great, Rebecca was right on that front too. Funny how you run into the same crowds no matter where you go. I felt much better at the end of the hike and I was ready for some food.

That was great because Terri N. had a friend who's a chef who made a ton of food. It was so delicious! There were 2 salads that were to die for. If I get the recipes I'll share them. They looked easy enough and could (obviously) be made in bulk. After dinner we took a group picture and I needed to get home. I hadn't been home much lately.

I got home about 45 minutes later. I love that Mount Hood is so close. So Oregon.... The kids were playing and we started to go through months worth of mail and laundry. Good times.

On Monday the kids got up and played. Later some breakfast and then it was time for Apple Tree Day Camp. This is a camp that is run by Clara, Mackenzie and Alice. They've all been babysitters for us and Clara and Mackenzie have traveled with us. Tight circle.... My kids have been going to this camp for 4 years now and it's the best deal in town. They are very organized and the kids love it.

On the way to camp we walked through the park because we had seen the climbing wall being driven into the park. The climbing wall was a big hit last year and the kids were really excited to see it. On the way through the park I saw the usual set of T'ai Chi people. There are about 12 of them that are out there year round. I swear I saw them in the snow. They were there communing with nature, moving to a slow inner song that I don't hear (maybe someday?) and in total harmony with one another. It gives me peace just seeing them. I have been seeing them for 4 years now.

As I watched the T'ai Chi group, Sophia and Coulter ran up ahead and got in line at the climbing wall. Coulter was big enough to do it this year! You have to be 45 lbs or you can't offset the counter weights which means you would get stuck at the top. Yikes... They went up and down 5 or 6 times. I love that this is just across the street. Then it was off to camp.

It was a big reunion with Clara and Mackenzie for the kids. It had been 2 weeks since we had sent them off from the Bahamas. There were hugs all around. My friend Nolee drove me home and we chatted for about a half hour. Since we'd done all this travelling we hadn't had a chance to catch up. We swapped stories and laughed.

The rest of the day was relatively non eventful. Costco, dishes, laundry, more mail etc. Saw a few friends walk by the house and caught up with them over the rail of the deck. Recognized a few dogs walking by....Iva barked "hello" to all of them. A nice day.

Bob got home early and we finished up the mail pile while the kids ran around making lots of noise. We had a quick dinner. Bob took Sophia and Coulter to the pool in their wet suits. It was fairly cold last night. But the kids are from Oregon, why should a little cool weather keep them from swimming? Kees had to go to bed because he didn't eat his dinner. Then early to bed for everyone.

And this morning I got up early to take the car into the shop. I am road tripping to California this weekend and want to make sure the car is in top shape. I strapped my bike to the bike rack and off I went. I rode home and Bob left for work. It came together just as planned. The kids were still sleeping so I took Iva across the street for a bit of "ball" her favorite game. There were a bunch of moms getting ready for aerobics in the covered area at the grade school. It was 7:15 and all these people were out there! Again, I shouldn't be surprised because I have seen them out there all year long too.

Tonight we have a free track meet at the high school track. It's very fun as well. It's for anyone of any age and everyone gets a ribbon. Kees ran 2 years ago when he was just shy of 2 and got a ribbon. Coulter ran last year and was convinced he had won when he got a ribbon. So cute.

So I am feeling very Oregonian this week. Beach and walks, mountains and hiking, rock climbing in the park, watching aerobics and T'ai Chi in the park while tossing a ball for the dog, riding my bike and so on.... So in haiku now...

Oregon is Great!
A vast array of riches.
A blessed life we lead.

Have a great day in whatever state you're in and take it all in.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July

We're having a fabulous time in Manzanita. On day #2 mom and Ed departed with the kids. They went to see Danny and Kim and fam near Lincoln City. This means that I had the joint to myself. AWESOME!!!! I haven't had alone time like that in a long time. I can't remember the last time.

First I took Iva on a long walk on the beach with Rebecca and her dog Joleen. Iva ran for about an hour and a half chasing the ball. When we got home Iva collapsed on the floor. This was a vast improvement over when she was following me all over the place and getting under foot.

Next I tried to take a nap. I am not a very good nap taker but I tried. Just when I was about to fall asleep mom called. I don't think I was really asleep anyway. I read a bit, laid around and then got ready to go out with Rebecca. We were going bar hopping. You need to know there are only 2 places to go on a Thursday night.

I met Rebecca at 5:30 at her house and we walked downtown....3 blocks. We went to the wine bar, had a couple drinks, some appetizers and watched a stream of trucks and RVs pull into town. All along thinking, "Where are all these people coming from? Worse yet....where are they going to stay/park?" This is not the crowd that I am used to seeing. Volvos, Mercedes, Volkswagen, maybe an Escalade but not giant MONSTER TRUCKS. It was weird. Next we strolled down to the Sand Dune Tavern. I got a big hamburger. It was delicious but I could only eat half. The smarter of the two of us (read Rebecca here) got a salad. And then back to Rebecca's for an ABF. That's an "Absolute Bloody Final" for those of you who don't know.

When I got home I drank a bunch of water and decided it was a good idea to eat the rest of the burger. I called Bob and went to bed about 10:30.

When I woke up at 5:30 (I am still on East Coast Time) I felt like I had eaten a lead weight. The second half of the burger was NOT a good idea. When I felt like I could call Rebecca at 8:30 I did and said I needed to walk. I had to get this food moving out. We went on a long walk, the dogs ran and we worked it out. I felt MUCH better. We went through town where I got a book and picked up a package at the post office. I felt like such a local getting mail at the beach. he he he.... I went home had lunch and read my book on the couch. Life is so much quieter when you don't have small people around.

BOB ARRIVED!!!! I was so happy to see him and so was Iva though Iva did give him a more excited response. We went for another long walk on the beach and even held hands. Later it was up to the coffee shop for a coffee and Internet. A girls gotta blog right? And then back to the cabin to rest for a bit. The babies arrived with mom and Ed and we had some dinner and a basically quiet night.

And then the 4th!!! It's always a great day in Manzanita. I love it here on the 4th. Downtown is buzzing, Bob staked out a spot for fireworks at 7 am and the kids were excited to ride the fire truck in the local parade. Our friends the Wangs came for a night. Basically a whole family sleep over. We insisted that they didn't want to drive home on the evening of the 4th and if they left early they'd miss the fireworks. The parade was good fun. It wasn't too hot or too cold and the kids did indeed get to ride on the fire truck. They got firemen's hats and were smiles from ear to ear. The boys are protesting getting their picture taken so I didn't get any pictures of them. Later we went "home" and had some lunch and prepared for our evening. Kees was crazy so he took a nap...a LONG nap and I laid with him.

Later mom and Ed moved their RV down to the road on the beach so we had a camp. We could go potty, make sandwiches and the Wang kids even took naps in there. It was fab! The beach was great and we were right next to the area where they shoot them off. There wasn't much wind which is unusual and great. The best thing was the wind was taking all the smoke from fireworks and campfires away from us. The big fireworks started at 10. The beginning was awesome with lots of explosions and action. That was all good EXCEPT there wasn't much wind and that meant the smoke from the big ones was all collecting in one spot. By the middle of the show you couldn't see some of the fireworks because the smoke was so thick. It was really funny. They always do a great show and except for thick smoke up high the fireworks were great.

After the fireworks Rebecca volunteered to let the big girls, Sophia and Amelia have a sleep over in her cabin. Alright, more room for mama and papa Wang. Everyone was in bed by 11:15.

So it was busy but really all American and fun. We enjoyed that our friends and family could stay with us. It was great fun on the 4th at the beach....

Friday, July 3, 2009

They're Comin' Around....

This morning I was so frustrated with my kids. They were arguing, yelling and fighting. And I, in turn was YELLING! Kids can make you crazy. The penalty for their nastiness was no TV for the day. This meant no TV this morning and no TV until bed. Usually this wouldn’t be a big deal but today we were driving to the coast so it meant no TV in the car. Honestly I don’t think my kids have ever seen anything between our house and the ocean except the TV in the car. This worried me a bit but I was sticking to my guns.

As we headed out of town they tried me. “Mom, can we turn on a movie now?” Usually when we hit the freeway on a road trip it’s TV time. I said, “Nope….no TV.” They were upset for about…….30 seconds. Next I said, “This is your captain speaking. We’ll be traveling at approximately 30,000 feet. Please stay seated. If you look out your window to the right you will see cows grazing.” They laughed and asked, “Mom…. Will we see horses too?” I said, “I am the captain, not mom.” From then on I was Captain Mom and they were Passenger _______. You do the math. This worked for an hour. They reported what they saw out the windows and had a great time. We had never talked in the car this long. IT WAS GREAT!

Next they talked about making a haunted deck (we have a big deck on the front of our house) for Halloween. There are other haunted porches and such around our ‘hood for Halloween. They went on and on for another hour. I loved hearing their ideas and imagination. It was like they were there. I could feel their excitement.

Once we were at the cabin they climbed out of the car. I announced, “Guys, I need help. You are going to help me unload the car.” They looked at me unimpressed. I said, “Until the car is unloaded we’re not going to have any fun.” They jumped in. I carried the heavy stuff and they carried all the small stuff. Sophia tried to carry heavy stuff but really…..I took it from her. I unpacked and the kids climbed up to the loft after their part was done.

Grandma and grandpa showed a few minutes after our arrival. The kids were really excited to see them and ran around like crazy people. We all reacquainted and then went about our business. Mom, Sophia and I went to the grocery store, Ed, Coulter and Kees went to the beach. The girls got a few things and then went to meet the boys at the beach. It was almost balmy there. It was 70 degrees and really windy. The wind we are used to, the warm NO but it was welcome for sure. We played and then went home….

I made dinner. Ed says, “Hey, the Sounders are playing. Too bad there’s not a TV.” (The TV is in the closet). The kids say, “It’s in there!” He goes toward it. They say, “WE’RE NOT ALLOWED TO WATCH TV TODAY!” They were really adamant. Mom said, “Ed, they are not allowed to watch TV today.” They both respected that and all went on.

Our friend Rebecca came over. We all had a glass of wine, talked, the kids played, Sophia worked on a story on the computer. A bit later, Ed went to bed, Rebecca went home, I put the boys to bed and turned on noise for them. They went right out. Funny how that familiar sound does the trick. They couldn’t stay awake if they wanted to. Sophia, Mom and I stayed up. Mom told Sophia stories about when she was a kid. I told stories about when Bob and I got married. It was really fun. Sophia was really into it. Mom read Sophia’s story so far and gave her big kudos. Sophia was all smiles.

Time for bed….. Mom went to the RV and I took Sophia to bed. She wanted to read to me….she just started a Nancy Drew book. She started it about 10 minutes after I shut down the TV this morning. Yet another point for shutting down the boob tube. I don’t know what she read all I know is listening to her read was like silk on my skin, cream on my tongue, basically like a smooth warm flow over by body. It was magic. She was entranced….. and I was by her. I love that she loves reading. Next she said, “Mommy I am tired. Will you lay with me?” Of course. I turned off the light and we “spooned” together. I could feel her breath, I could feel her pulse. I thought, “I am going to breathe hard and see what happens.” Just like when she was a baby….She matched my breathing, closed her eyes and slipped away into sleep. Man it was beautiful. I can’t believe I still have that over her. Does my mom still have that on me? Maybe. Maybe all mammas do. But it was so cool and I love that my babies are coming around.

They were spoiled brats a week ago that could only be calmed by entertainment. They are coming back to the beautiful, creative and smart kids that I have always known. This makes me really happy. So less TV, more mom/dad, beach and quiet creative play seem to be the answer. I love the answer and love that the answer makes us all more peaceful. I am looking forward to more beach and peace and less wild and over indulged children. Life with the kids is looking better by the moment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In the Groove...

We're back in town and all is, well, pretty well. As you may have read, Kees went to the emergency room on Saturday night because he couldn't breathe. It was scary but he is fine now.

Because of my late night on Saturday, Sunday was really hard. I was almost dopey with exhaustion. It was a gorgeous day to say the least. It was about 65 with bright sun on the front deck. We agreed that out of the past 3 weeks this was the best weather we had experienced. We love Portland and the northwest. We unpacked and basically hung around the house. We did go to Costco because there was nothing to eat in our house. At least nothing fresh. At 4:30 our friends the Stewarts came over for dinner. I was tired but we needed our friends. It had been 3 weeks or more! The kids were all happy to see one another and the grown ups were too.

When it came time to make dinner Julie just looked at me and said, "What can I do? Why don't you come in and talk to me and I'll cook." Usually I would have said, "No, no. You're my guest." This time I just gave in. I was afraid if I welded a knife I might have dismembered myself. I was that tired. We had dinner, Julie made a great potato salad and there were some other fruits and fresh veggies. Honestly it's like a dream, I barely remember what we ate but I know it was fun.

Monday was the first day with out daddy in a while. The kids all woke up and were really confused, "Where's daddy?" Me, "At work" And them, looking like I was crazy, "WHY?" Ahhhh, perhaps to pay for all that fun we just had? Hummmm?

I packed a little lunch and we went to the wading pool across the street. The kids were so excited you'd think they never got spend time in the water, you know, like the past 3 weeks in the greatest pools in the world at the Atlantis! Of course their excitement made me really happy that they enjoy being in our neighborhood so much. At the wading pool there is a lot to do. There is an arts and crafts table with different things every day. There are board games and big games like table tennis and tennis racquet's to play on the courts right there. There is a big play ground and then the usual stuff, reading, chatting with friends and splashing in the wading pool. It really is great. Sometimes they bring a climbing wall. Those are exciting days!

Later in the day we went to pick up my friend Jennifer (Niebergall) Noreen. We were friends from high school and I saw her for about 15 minutes, 10 years ago, once. This does not change the fact that she is my good friend and I have missed her. We picked up where we left off only now we had new subjects to talk about. Family, work, life, goals etc. She marched into my house like we had never been apart. I asked, "Have you had lunch?" She said, "No" She peeked in the fridge, said, "Chicken and cheese. Oh, can I have some potato salad?" (left over from the night before. Thanks Julie. She loved it.), she walked to look at my pictures in the hall and said, "Lettuce, mayo, tomato and onion if you have it." I was laughing so hard to myself. Seriously, like we'd never been apart. And she knew inherently that I was happy to do it. We had lunch, sat out on the deck and talked for a couple hours. She is hoping to move here from Texas. That would be great.

Monday night???? I don't remember. It WAS two days ago.

Tuesday.... The kids got up again and were still confused , "Where is daddy?" Same conversation as the day before about work. Sophia finally got to see her buddy Claire....for an 8 hour play date. The boys were with me. My buddy Mary Ann tried to take them to the park but they were whinny and Coulter claimed he was going to throw up. When I saw him I said, "Go ahead and throw up." He didn't. I think he was faking. It got him so much attention the week before in the Bahamas. They were good at home until Kees fell apart and had to take a nap. Coulter got to watch some TV. This is a big deal in the middle of the day at our house. I was in the kitchen making some staples for our house. The tomato part for Bruschetta, tzatziki, hard boiled eggs, tuna salad. You know the basics. I was glad to be back in the kitchen. I also did 6 loads of laundry and made a great ginger, soy chicken for dinner. Yum... Later the kids went swimming, I read my book and it was a quiet night. We folded laundry and reclaimed our bedroom.

And today.... I was hoping to sleep in a bit. The kids are still on East Coast Time and that is not good for me. Sophia was up first at about 7 and the boys followed shortly after. I started hearing rumblings at about 7:30. There was some sort of disagreement. Coutler came running up stairs to report, "Sophia, is...." And then he went into some sort dolphin talk whiny noise. I have no idea what he was talking about but obviously Sophia was the jerk (in his mind) that started the problem. I called Sophia. She said that she wasn't going to get him cereal in a bag because he could get it himself. I was NOT happy with this. I told her to get him some because it was much harder for him because he couldn't reach it. 3 minutes later more squeaking noise, dolphin talk. I yell, "SOPHIA!!!! COULTER!!!! GET UP HERE!" I tell her to help Coulter. This time. Get this... Coulter brought the cereal and set it in front of her. She tried to turn the channel with the remote but couldn't because the cereal was in her way. She told Coulter to, "Move the thing, the thing, the thing." He didn't know what the thing was. She was yelling, "The THING." You need to know that the THING was a foot in front of her. Just a mere bend of the waist would have brought her close enough to the THING to rectify the problem or perhaps moving her hand to the left or right to go around the THING. I storm downstairs and shout in my biggest voice, "STOP IT!!! YOU ARE MAKING ME CRAZY" (Let's be honest. I was crazy before but this is really pushing my over the edge.) I used everything they taught me when I was singing opera. Projection, full volume, fill the room...I did. They knew I was serious. The punishment for their being brats was TV OFF for the day and if they complain THE WEEK! This is a bummer because we are going to the beach today and they'll be in the car for 2 hours with no TV. Torture just like when I was a kid.

And as I write Kees is upstairs crying. He dumped out all the Tinker toys and is now refusing to pick them up. He has been consistent. He's been up there for almost an hour crying and saying, "I can't do it by myself." and my favorite, "Why do I have to do everything?" That is hilarious. Wait....wait.... He just came down and said, "I did it mommy." Coulter went up to inspect and said, "Oh yeah baby. You did really good." Then, "MOM HE DID IT!!! HE DID REALLY GOOD." Progress.

My kids were totally indulged and are now in recovery. Like a 12 step program for coming off of too much fun. Cutting down to the basics is great but the stress on me is awful. They act like I am a total jerk. I can see the light though. Sophia is writing a story and the boys are playing in their room. I am getting my kids back instead of those spoiled crazy kids I don't know. There always seems to be a lot of screaming and crying that goes on for a couple days but I can see improvement and this makes me really happy.

Next beach time and no TV. If they're not back to their regular selves after this I may have to hire the Super Nanny. I pray we're getting back in the groove.