Monday, December 6, 2010

Coulter - Over Heard at My House

Coulter is just full of material. Really, he should be walking around with a comedy writing team taking down at least half of what he says.

Coulter explaining why some people don't have manners. "I guess they didn't go to preschool or kindergarten. They must have skipped so they didn't learn any manners like please and thank you or helping people. Then they're kinda mean." I couldn't agree more.

Coulter and Kees were being rock stars....
Coulter says, "Comon, it's time to go out on stage and rock their heads off. If they're screaming and jumping around, it means we rocked their heads off. Let's go." Kees, "Alright." And off they run. And as they pass Coulter is wearing a Superman costume and Kees is wearing shorts, only shorts. Now THEY know how to rock!

I wrote that last bit about 15 minutes ago and I am laughing because they are listening to 50's and 60's rock, Wild Thing, Barbara Ann, Splish Splash, Twist and Shout, The Twist etc.

Yet again 15 minutes more) Ohh, and just now they made me give them red Mohawks.

This is getting better and better.

Coulter's spelling words for this week are.....what, called, about, each, two, your. Here is the story he wrote to use all his words.

What about each of us call a polease (police). So two polease came. They said your bed was stolen. We called jale (jail).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quintessential Kick Off



We just got back from a fabulous weekend in Hood River with our friends the Stewarts and the Kaufmans. This is a weekend that has been in the works for a year.

Some of you may recall my letter about the Polar Express from last year. It was a less than satisfying experience to say the least. This year was the polar opposite. We LOVED the Polar express. We made a couple of critical changes to our experience. First we booked it for 2 in the afternoon so the kids could see out the windows. And secondly we booked the viewing car on the top level. We arrived at the station about 15 minutes before departure. Our expectations were not high.







The first thing that I noticed was the boarding call. The guy was into it, looked the part and gave us a hearty welcome. We boarded the train and went upstairs. The music was playing at just the right volume, the staff was friendly and there were mugs set up for our hot chocolate. We were smiling all around. So here's the brief on the rest of it. They cut the trip in half time wise. This is a good thing. It was only 1 hour and 15 minutes. We could see, the story was understandable and read live, the staff gave hot chocolate refills, got us water, SMILED and seemed to be enjoying their job. The Santa village was different but quite acceptable and the Santa was a great, classic looking Santa. On the way home we sang a couple songs and before you knew it we were back to Hood River and on our way. Everyone was happy and smiling. Actually I think all the adults were stunned. We couldn't believe how different it was from the past year. Success!

We went back to the hotel and made dinner, Zuppa Osso Bucco, a family favorite. My friend Annette and her two daughters joined us as well. We all had dinner and then went up to the lobby for festivities. The kids had been going back and forth between our rooms and the lobby all afternoon. There was a train table that they were playing with. When the adults got up there it was a rockin' scene. There was an old timey band playing carols, the kids were decorating the Christmas Tree, Santa was working the crowd, the adults were having a beverage and chatting it up. It was the perfect kick off to the evening and season. I couldn't stop smiling.


Kees was so adorable, I don't think I will ever forget his sincere efforts in decorating the Christmas Tree. Apparently they said that the kids could put on one decoration but Kees REALLY wanted to do more. I told him that if he asked really nicely they'd probably let him do a few more. And so it was. He was thrilled. He smiled, picked out the ornaments and I helped him decide where to put them. I'd move the ladder and then he would diligently work to put the ornament on the tree. His big brown eyes searching, his smile that just melted me, and mostly the sincerity with which he was experiencing this event. It was honest, pure and genuine, just beautiful to watch.


Next we headed out to watch the parade. The weather was mild so I had on light clothing and was wearing my slippers. We didn't need to go more then a block. In the midst of all this Bob called me asking if I had Coulter and Bobby. I didn't. He was a bit freaked out but I, for whatever reason, wasn't. They had the freedom to go between the lobby and our room all day. I was pretty sure that they were somewhere together. It felt so safe there. Later I asked Julie if she was afraid when they went missing and she felt just like I did. The parade was a typical small town parade. There were horses, dogs, kids, a couple of blow up decorations on floats. It was awesome in it's small town-ness.

Immediately following the parade we ran up to the town tree for the tree lighting. We passed a table that had been selling glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets. Kees wanted one but I told him I didn't have any money. They guy, bless his heart, said, "It's Christmas. Go ahead and take one." How cool is that? Kees, again, was glowing.

We arrived at the big tree and Annette introduced me to the mayor, Arthur. I said, "Hello. Nice to meet you. I'm the one that wrote the letter about the Polar Express last year." He said, "I know who you are!" I guess I made an impression. A few minutes later....viola, cheers and a beautiful lit tree. The festivities were complete! We all moseyed back to our rooms for more fun.

We all had a fine time. I hit the wall at about 10:30 and said, "I have to go to bed." I turned, walked to my bed and fell asleep immediately. I got a full 10 hours of sleep. Ahh, good. Bob put the kids to bed but it was pretty late for them.

Saturday was a bit slower....for everyone. A bunch of people slept in. Annette and I took the 3 big girls out to a barn to ride horses. It was COLD, 33 to be exact. The girls shoveled horse poop, groomed the horse and got to ride around the rink a few times. The loved it. The only problem is that it cut into my football watching. The Civil War and the Apple Cup were on. We wrapped it up around the half time of the Civil War. When we got back the kids were all in one room playing and the adults were lined up watching the game. The good life. I joined in. We talked about what we were going to do "tonight." Julie said there was person that was going to play violin and that she hoped it wasn't classical. "That would be a real bummer." I just laughed and said, "Yeah, that would be terrible. If that's the worst thing that happens this weekend I think you'll be alright." We both got a hearty laugh about that.

After the Ducks won a few of us went to the hot tub. I was still freezing and couldn't get my core temp up. Ahh, warmth. Once warmed up and dressed I went back to watch the Apple Cup, alone. No one cared about my poor Huskies. And then it got really bad, the game wasn't on a channel that we got. CRAP! That was a total bummer. I went to take a little nap instead, a poor substitute for sure.

Around dinner time we all went back up to the lobby. I took a poll and then booked 3 nights for next year. That made us all happy. In the lobby there was a singer with a guitar. Feeyoueee, it wasn't classical. We all got beers and sat in front of the big fire place. The singer took our requests and had a lot of fun herself. She even let Sophia sing Roll on Columbia with her. So cute.


Kees kept smiling at her and looking at her with his big browns....she gave him a free CD of her lullabies. Oh he's going to be a lady killer. We all enjoyed our time up there and stayed until the music stopped and then it was movie time!

The kids were all put to bed at 9:30. They were so exhausted. They were crying and didn't know what was going on. It was time.

Most of the adults watched Last Holiday with Queen Latifa. I love that movie. A couple people fell asleep but it was casual and fun. I went to bed at about midnight and there were still a few up... Crazies.

And then this morning we all got up and had to pack. It was a bummer because we were really in the groove of the weekend. It did make us happy to think that next year we'll be able to hang out for one more day. As we were packing it started to snow. It was beautiful and the perfect end to the perfect weekend. The kids were all skidding around in the parking lot behind the hotel. They were smiling, running, had rosy cheeks, all the good winter stuff. We said our goodbyes and were content with the fabulous weekend we all had. The Leeks were headed to get a Christmas Tree to cap off our weekend.

I can hardly wait until next year and until then I will hold this one in my heart.

Holidaze....







It is all coming up so fast! Thanksgiving flew by though it tends to be a long week for me since the kids are out of school. Bob took most of the week off so he was home except for Tuesday. The kids played nicely together and did quite well.

For the actual Thanksgiving weekend we had a great time on Anderson Island with my brother and his wife, my step sister and her family and my Dad and Sally. Their new house is small so it was going to be hard to all fit around any sort of table. Sooo..... Luckily they have a second house that they were renting and it has a HUGE living and dinning room. Huge...did I mention it's big? Sally set up their giant table that has 5 leaves. We had 15 people around that table, pretty impressive.

The house, prior to the table being put in, had only 1 item in it, a day bed. Seriously, that's it. That being said, Bob and I had a plan. We were bringing our trailer because with 5 people there is hardly any room left in the van for stuff. And we needed a bunch of stuff. You know, standard stuff like our living room rug, some lawn chairs, an LCD projector, a ladder to put said projector on, a queen sized bed (just an accordion kind for camping), all our usual stuff too. It was a lot to bring but I am glad we brought it all. The rug was especially nice when we were watching a movie. I will tell you that before we had all the stuff put into place Bob, Coulter and I had quite the Nerf gun war. That was really fun.

Everyone worked together well and the dinner was a total success. During the day we all chatted, my dad played a little ukulele, we had some wine, and more, and generally mingled. It was good.

All our kids played together really well the whole weekend. As a matter of fact, they weren't done with each other after 3 days. Sophia and her cousins found a tree that had fallen in the back. It was on top of another fallen tree and had about 50 feet of trunk off the ground by about 8 feet. This made for EXCELLENT bouncing. Hours of bouncing. Sometimes it was solo, sometimes with a pal and sometimes with a pal giving you extra bounce. They were in hog heaven.

The day after Thanksgiving I made breakfast. I made a dish in advance so it would be easy. We had grits, eggs, fruit and such. Easy. Later we went over to dad and Sally's house and just hung out. It was really nice. In the afternoon we did our Anderson Island version of Black Friday, the local Bazaar. There were all kinds of arts and crafts. Very cute. And I won a raffle prize. It was a little basket with a stuffed Santa. Sophia had money burning a hole in her pocket so she bought a couple things.

For dinner we had soup and a turkey pot pie. Yum! It was a nice casual dinner after a nice casual day. Tom and Christina were leaving and the twins were not ready to go so they stayed another night with us. That made all the kids happy. We went home after dinner and watched another movie.

Saturday morning the kids got up and watched ANOTHER movie and then we went back to Dad and Sally's. Bob stayed behind to pack up. What a trooper. We needed to get going because there was LOTS to do at home and we needed a day.

All in all it was great fun. The kids had a blast. The island is a fun place to hang out. There isn't a lot to do which is exactly what we were looking for, a slow pace. Next year a big dinner will be different when we don't have the giant living space but I am sure we'll figure it out. Until then I am holding on to this past Thanksgiving with a smile.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lord Help Me....

Today I was on my way to help my brother with a benefit project. ON the way I stopped at Starbucks. As I approached Starbucks there was a father and son team having coffee together. I thought that was so cute...until I walked in and saw what was going on....NOTHING! The son was playing on an Ipod and the father was on an Ipad. I watched and while they were with in 2 feet of each other they could have been across the pond. I know that my kids are getting older but I pray that we never get that far apart ESPECIALLY when we're in the same room! So I say to you.... pay attention to your loved ones and don't "Blackberry, Ipod, Notebook...or whatever."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goings On

I have been really bad about keeping this up. These kids, this house, my life....all stuff that get in the way of the blog. Of course they also give me all my material.

Tuesday I attended, yet again, the annual doctors dinner. If you wonder how I feel about this you can check last years blog on this subject. Last year was fine, this year was better. I know more people this year and more people know Bob. It was actually really fun. The Chief of Staff, Rick Olson gave a "State of the Hospital" address. I remember last years and all the blah, blah, blah that they were going to do. Remarkably, they did a bunch of that stuff. It was really impressive and I told him so. They are measuring so many things that come out exactly like a hotel. It was very much like being back at an annual meeting at one of my hotels. It was fun and we were home by 9:15 or so.

Thursday I took Coulter out on a date. He has been missing mommy time. He doesn't remember having any solo mommy time. Of course Kees came along when Coulter was 1-1/2 so how could he remember? Kees has "Mommy and Kees Day" every Wednesday. We go to lunch, to OMSI, the zoo, whatever. But it's all about Kees. Sophia had lots of one on one time and still does simply because she's the only girl and we do girl days. I have decided to give my precious boy Coulter his own time.

We went to Macadam's Bar and Grill. I know this sounds a bit strange but I gave him a choice and one of the choices was go watch football with the Husky Fan Club. He was pretty excited about that choice. He was adorable the whole time. He had a Husky shirt on and his dad's bio ol' Husky hat. He sat on my lap and I explained the game of football. He let me kiss him, hug him and dote on him. He told me about what he was going to be when he grew up, what he had done at school that day, who he was playing with, what he wanted to do next week etc. Most of it was gibberish but it was sweet and I was loving it. We stayed for about half the game and then he was ready to go. That was fine because it was his bed time.

Friday night Sophia had a slumber (they should call them non-slumber parties) party and as luck would have it Coulter was invited to be the guest of the little brother....perfect. Kees was feeling a bit left out so we decided we should call our neighbor and invite Kees over. We've had her son over a few times lately so this made sense. TRIFECTA!!!! This was a FIRST! We had all 3 kids out for sleepovers and you ask....What did we do???? NOTHING! We stayed home, watched a couple of our regular shows and went to bed at a decent hour. We got up at 7 and went to breakfast, just the two of us. It's a lot easier to get out of bed when you know there is no one there to demand you do something for them. I got up and took care of me with out interruption. Tres cool. We need to do that more often.

And today was totally free form (after breakfast). I went to our church for a crafting day. They just open up a room for who ever wants to come and you can craft. I made some cards, nothing fancy just some cards. It was really just to do something for myself.

Bob worked on finishing the fort. Oh, the Fort. This is a project that started this summer. We had a space that's about 10x10 over the front entry and it was never finished. Not only was it not finished but there wasn't a floor. The "floor" was only the slats that are the roof over the front door. If you were to step on that you would have gone straight through. Bob hung joists, added insulation all around, put in the electric, put up the dry wall, laid the carpet, painted, put in a window and is currently finishing the trim. It is awesome and the kids are thrilled. It's the perfect quiet space. I hope this is a space that the kids use as a study space. Right now it's for slumber parties and playing school. The only thing Bob didn't do was mud, tape and texture. If that isn't done right you may as well not do any of the other stuff right 'cause it won't look right. It does, it's cool and Bob has done an outstanding job.

The kids all played around the house and a couple of neighborhood kids came over for about three hours. They all played in the basement, yet another Heather and Bob production, and had a fine time. They all went to bed early today because we have church in the morning and Sohpia has ANOTHER birthday slumber party tomorrow. That kid had the best social life! I don't remember doing half that stuff when I was a kid but that is yet another story.

There's more to report but it will have to be another day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Over Heard at My House

While doing math home work with Coulter.... He was supposed to determine what pictures had odd numbers of items and others that were even. He was randomly guessing. I tried to explain what odd and even meant. When I said, "So now do you understand what odd means?" And he said, "Yeah. It means weird."

Kees while trying to help Coulter with his Mad Science..... Bob read off a list of things that they needed to do the experiment. Kees insisted they needed some, "Cornbioxide" I think they do....I just don't know where I put it.

Kees was playing with a friend in the basement and I could hear them talking. His buddy Miles said, "Let's pretend it's Thanksgiving. Here, here is some turkey for you." Kees replied, "I don't want any turkey. I'm having fairies." MMmmmm fairies for dinner.....

Coulter and I went out on a date last Thursday. We were talking and he said, "I think I want to be an Archiabiologist when I grow up." I asked what an Archiabiologiest does. (This, of course, was after being corrected on the pronunciation of the word. I originally said, "Archibiologist") He said, "They find dinosaur bones and stuff. Nah, I don't know." But he still wants to be one.

Goin' to the Lodge, The Great Wolf Lodge


Oh, the excitement. Oh, the joy. Oh, what the hell. We are at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound Washington. Yeehaw.

It all started at the school auction last year when I "won" the package. It included a nights stay for up to 7, a $50 gas card and $300 to spend at the GWL. My intent was to come for Coulter's birthday like we have the past 2 years but he informed me that he wants a regular birthday party with his friends. That's reasonable for a 7 year old boy. He may be changing the date of his party to some random date in the future when his friends may be in town. We'll see.

So what to do, what to do..... I know. Sarah and I have talked about taking our kids. All our kids get along, Sarah is so lovely, pragmatic and such a good friend. It all seemed like a good match....and indeed, it has been.

Since the room was covered, Sarah offered to bring the food. There is a half fridge and microwave in each room. It's been nice. I am so used to planning everything that it was quite nice not to have to do that part. The kids had lots of snacks, hot dogs, yogurt etc. and I was spoiled with Thai Food. Love it...

We gave each of the kids $20 for whatever they wanted so we didn't have to worry about begging for stuff. When they were out, that was it. You want hot chocolate? If you've got the cash fine, if not, too bad. A toy, shirt, ice cream...all the same. That also worked out well. We had a couple savers and the other 3 couldn't leave until their money was gone. Fine. The savers get to keep their money. Great, extras were covered.

We arrived at about 2:30 and had a 20 minute wait in line. The room was ready so we unloaded, organized and went to the water park. We planted ourselves and set up home base so the kids would know where to check in. Sophia and Oliver paired up, Coulter and Kees paired up and Sarah and Charlotte paired up. I got to blog and sit for a while. Nice. Of course that was short lived. Coulter was on a mission to kill me.
When I was looking at dates for this adventure I wanted to make sure it wasn't busy. Who wants to spend their time waiting to slide rather than sliding? NOT ME!!! What I didn't take into consideration was that without a line you don't get to catch your breath. I would run up 95 stairs, immediately hop on a raft and go. I would still be winded when the ride was over just to run up and do it all over again. After about 4 times in a row I told Coulter I couldn't do it anymore. That I needed a break. He laughed. He weighs all of 50 pounds and that's all muscle. So he essentially floats up AND down the slides. Me, not so much. Each time after that he'd come to me and say, "Comon' mom. I'm gunna kill ya." Then he'd giggle and run away. I did more than 1400 stairs while I was there. Not bad for "lil" ole me.

Kees finally is going on the medium slides. The first two times we went to GWL he'd only go in the kiddie pool. If you look below on the left you can see a purple slide. I think Kees has been on that slide about 300 times. He wouldn't get off it last time. This time we went up to try the medium red and yellow slides. Kees was going to ride down with me but they don't allow that any longer. He had to make the decision between going alone or not at all. He was afraid but he went down alone....and he LOVED it. As a matter of fact he ran that loop for about 2-1/2 hours. He had a smile on his face the whole time and didn't notice anything but his loop.

Then there was Sophia. She was a little leery of going with a boy but after she got started, she thought going with Oliver was awesome! He's a great kid who just wants to have fun. She'd say, "Let's go on the Howlin' Tornado." and Oliver would respond, "OK, but then can we go in the wave pool?" Sophia would agree to that plan and off they'd go. It seems that the whole time we were there that is how they got along. There wasn't one cross word between them and that made Sarah and I very happy.
Charlotte and Sarah stayed close to the ground. I did see Sarah go down one of the medium slides that Kees was on so I caught her at the bottom. You'd have thought she went down the Howlin' Tornado by the look on her face. She came down on her back and under water. When she came up she was surprised and proclaimed, "That's it for me." And her water sliding day was over. Sarah is afraid of heights so there was no way she was going up the "big" slides. She'd be sick before she hit the water. Charlotte went down the same slide though I didn't see her immediately following the "ordeal." She seemed content knowing she had done it. She enjoyed the wave pool, hot tub and one of the regular pools. Their water park experience was a bit more sedate than the rest of us.
We were on the slides until about 7 the first night. That gave us about 3+ hours. We all went back to the room and had some dinner. Thai Food for the adults and hot dogs, apples and such for the kids.

After dinner the kids wanted to play Magic Quest. You get a $17 wand and then activate it for another $14 or so. What a bargain. The thing we had going for us is our friend Annette had given us 2 wands so we only needed to pay activation. The two big kids had one wand and the 3 smaller kids had the other. We let the biggers go off on their own. Sarah and I wandered around with the smallers. We went up the stairs, pointed the wand at something that would move and give us the next clue. Then down two flights of stairs with the same routine. Up three flights, point, clue, down one flight, point clue.... You get the picture. HELLO....aren't there enough stairs in the water park? Sheesh... enough already. After about 20 minutes we told the kids they could each have the wand on one floor and point it at everything on the floor to make it do what ever it was it didn't. Essentially, "Let's get out of here." Great! DONE!

Back to the room. A bottle of wine for the mom's and a movie for the smalls. They all lined up on the bottom bunk and watched Harry Potter or something. I think the kids finally got in bed between 10:30 and 11:00. We were all exhausted. I actually slept pretty well which is unusual for a hotel, especially that hotel.

The next morning we all were up at about 8. I laid in bed until 9. Sarah even gave me breakfast in bed while she took the kids to Starbucks....to get coffee and even brought me back one. I could get used to this having a wife stuff. We had some snacks and packed up. Check out is at 11 but you can slide until 10 pm. We loaded the car and divided and conquered. I parked and checked out while Sarah took the kids to the water park. And it starts all over again...Coulter trying to kill me, Sophia and Oliver playing together, Kees on he own personal slides and Sarah and Charlotte in the wave pool and hot tub.

We played for more than 3 hours and then got into dry clothes. The kids played a bit more Magic Quest, went to the gift shop and snacked. We finally rounded everyone up at 3:30 for our road trip home. They all watched movies while Sarah and I chatted.

The kids were all terrific the whole time. The stay was fun, busy but fun. We all ate well and didn't have to buy stuff at the lodge and wholly had a fine time. In my book that was a very successful trip.

The Perfect Halloween Night


This is my friend's man eating house....SCARY!!!!!
Sophia and Carlie....Apparently they just ate (blood) because they are smiling.
And this must have been just after getting her fix. The blood is still fresh! Yikes....

Treats for the adults....yay!


As a kid Halloween is one of the biggest and most exciting days of the year. Deciding what you are going to be is a huge decision and not to be taken lightly. What if you're Superman and the guy you go with is the same thing. Well that just wouldn't do.

My kids took their costumes just as seriously as any kid. Sophia is past the cute fairy stuff. She was a scary vampire. She could pass as Dakota Fanning's baby, vampire sister for sure.

Coulter went as the red Ironman. Of course he lost his mask 2 seconds before we walked out the door. He then was the black Ironman because Kees had that costume, wasn't wearing it and knew where his mask was.

Kees went as Kees. What could be better then that? Originally he was going to be the black Ironman but he changed his mind. Then he was going to be a cat. Oh man that was funny. He had a Danskin, one piece, crushed black velvet thing. Then he had a tail attached and I did his make up. But he is going through a phase and doesn't like people staring at him. He felt it was best to just be Kees. He had on Navy Blue jacket and pants and a black shirt. An hour into it he started saying he was a black man. I had to jump in quickly every time he said that and explain that he meant MEN IN BLACK. It's VERY different! MEN IN BLACK son. He had fun.

For those of you who have experienced a NW Halloween I do not need to explain. For those of you who haven't, read on. Most Halloweens you go to great lengths to plan and prepare your costume. Then you end up covering it up with either a parka or your longest rain coat OR BOTH! It sucks. This year was like a dream. It was the most gorgeous Halloween I have ever experienced. The leaves were brown, gold, orange and red and every hew between them. It was about 55 degrees out and there was no wind, not a puff. Nor was there any rain. It's hard to believe how perfect it was. I felt like I was on a movie set and any minute they'd yell, "CUT" and the whole thing would come crashing down. But it didn't happen.

We went to visit some friends who invited us for a little prefunction. They handed us an adult beverage and the kids got some candy. Bob ended up staying with the husband at the house and my girlfriend and I took our collective 5 kids out. We both felt like stars in our own lives, actually the stars in the movie about our lives. We talked about how grateful we we're to live where we do, when we do, how we do. We are lucky girls.

We walked the whole neighborhood and saw many many people that we know. The houses we're decorated so nicely. There were kids everywhere! A few houses had "treats" for the adults too. Those, of course, were my and my girlfriend's favorite houses. After cruising the 'hood we went up to the ridge where the "Halloween House" is. They decorate to the max. This year they did Thriller. No really, they DID Thriller. They had 15 people out on the front lawn, in costume, doing the whole dance. It was awesome.

We wrapped up the night at about 8:45. It was a school night. The kids were wack tired but we had so much fun.

I don't know if I'll ever experience another Halloween like that. But when I am old and grey, and if I am lucky, this is the one that I will remember in my minds eye. I choose to remember the best and reflect on what we have and what we do rather then any lack of. We're so blessed and I am going to hold on to, and nurture that. Cliche maybe, but with 1/45th of my Halloweens being damn near perfect I believe my glass is half full of Dom Perrignon thank you. C'est la vie.....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Coulter's Homework

It turns out that Coulter loves doing his homework. Whodathunkit? I always knew he was smart but I didn't realize what a critical thinker he is. Here is one of his math problems. Do the math and then read Coulter's answer.

Tommy has 6 eggs in a carton, two of them break. How many eggs are left?

Coulter starts laughing histerically. He thinks this is the funniest thing that he has ever read. So I ask him, "Well....how many eggs are left in the carton?" He says, "There are still 6 eggs! It's just that two of them are broken!" ...And he continues laughing. And he's right, there are still 6 eggs in there. So I told him to write that on his paper and explain. I don't care if the "right" answer is 4. HE WAS RIGHT! I told his teacher about it and she said, "Wow! That is great critical thinking.

Next were his sentences. He had 6 words for the week and he needed to use them in a sentence. Sophia used to have to do this too. She would write sentences one at a time with one of the weekly words in each. Coulter takes a whole different approach. He studies all the words and then comes up with a little story using all the words. I was really impressed with the amount of thought he put into his work.

At one point he asked me how to spell book. He had spelled it boc. I said, "B.O.O.K." Rather then just adding a line to the C he paused, then scribbled out the C and then erased it. I said, "What are you doing?" He laughed again and said, "Sometimes I pretend that the letters are all alive. Then I blind fold them so they won't know what's coming. And then I make them disappear!" And he continued to laugh. He is such a funny kid.

He finished his homework in short order. He made it much more interesting then I ever could have. Where does he come up with this stuff? Most kids you have to make them sit down to do their homework. With Coulter I had to settle him down in the middle of doing his homework because he was having so much fun. Go figure. I can only hope this is the beginging of his enthusiasm for doing his homework!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kees and Mommy Day

I have been planning for Kees' school days since before he was born. He was due September 1st and there was no way I was going to let a couple days separate me from a bit more freedom. 5 years ago when it came time to deliver my baby I set the date in August so Kees could go to kindergarten in September of 2010. The problem is now that the time is here I knew he wasn't ready for all day kindergarten. I am sure he would have been fine but I felt strongly that being older in your grade would be an advantage to him later. When he gets into high school I want him to be a leader, not a follower, and being older can help.

When I was planning for the current year I set Kees up in 3 days of after care and a couple play dates per week. This way I have lots of time to myself. We have been in school for over a month and now it is me who isn't ready for him to go to school full time. I realized after a month of lots of time to myself that I was really missing my Kees time and I needed to do something about it. He's my last baby and I need to spend time with him, just him, while I can. I canceled his Wednesday aftercare.

Today was our first Mommy and Kees Day of the year. Kees was so excited and I was too. Our plan was to go to the zoo. The weather dudes tell us this was going to be the last 70+ degree day this year so I felt I needed to take advantage of it.

I picked up Kees at school and he was so excited to have me all to him self. We stopped at Starbucks on the way home. He ordered his own beverage and then slid in a mini doughnut. Sly little guy. We chatted a bit and then went home to pack a lunch. We quick, packed up and went to the zoo.

When we walked into the zoo Kees asked, "Can we go over there mom?" pointing at the mountain goat. And I said, "It's just you and me. You can go where ever you want." That made him really happy and he skipped. He skipped all day. It was so dang cute! You could tell he was really concentrating on his skipping. It was as if he had read how to skip and then was following the directions to the letter. "Lift the left leg and hop on the right. Then, lift your right leg and hop on the left. Repeat, repeat, repeat and so on." He made me smile all day. I was really breathing him in and enjoying my sweet, precious boy.

When we stopped for lunch, I spread out the blanket and got out our food. Kees ran all over the place. The zoo is setting up for Zoo Lights and Kees was chatting up a few of the workers. "What's in that little house? I like the big candy canes. Where are the hard candies?" He was adorable. Later we laid on the blanket and laughed. I tickled him, he would escape and almost immediately come back. We packed up and wandered through the rest of the zoo.

As we walked, we talked about what we would do next week on Kees and Mommy Day and how great today had been. I hope this is the first of many more fun Kees and Mommy Days. I am going to savor my last baby as much as I can while he'll still let me.

Kees' Name

Kees is a funny boy. He is damn lucky his name isn't Aloise. I am not sure how you spell that name. It's Dutch. I am sure that if you live in Holland then the name is great but in the good ole USA Aloysse (again, spelling?) doesn't work. When we started having kids I already knew one boy's name and one girl's name, both of which I was really attached to, Sophia and Coulter of course. I was only having 2 kids so that seemed like enough names. Sophia's middle name is Nicole, my mom's name and Coulter's middle name is Wyatt because, duhhh, it sounds cool. Coulter Wyatt, now that is a cool cowboy name right? He also has a Dutch middle name, Cornelis because the oldest boy in each generation gets that name so it's Coulter Wyatt Cornelis Leek but he has been going by Coulter Wyatt mostly.

Kees was a surprise and Bob wanted to name him....and he did. Kees' full name is Kees Johanes Hubertus Leek. He has been quite proud of it and says his full name if you ask him what his name is. Though he says it more like, Kees Hannes Bertus Leek. When Bob came up with that big name for our newest tiny member it seemed pretty big. He is our true Dutch baby.

Yesterday at dinner Kees asked Coulter what his middle name was. Coulter said, "It's Wyatt." Kees turned to us and said, "Why does Coutler have a cooler middle name then me?" I turned, with a smirk on my face, and asked Bob, "Yeah, daddy, why?" And Bob had that, "What me? What? What was the question? Huh?" look on his face and a smirk to match mine. You are busted dude. I wanted to be involved in the naming process but NOOoooOOOooo you haaaaad to do it alone, and now our precious baby is jealous of his big brother's middle name. Ha ha ha.....

He will grow into the name and really, all his names have family ties and importance. Kees was Bob's Great Great Grandfather's name. Johanes is Bob's second middle name and was given to him because his Godfather is Johan, again, tradition. Hubertus is Bob's dad, Bert and we love him. And of course Leek....we've all got that one in common.

Some day he will appreciate all his names but in the mean time he'll have to be jealous of his brother's cool name that I gave him. I hate to say, "I told ya so Bob." But...well....I did.

Bed Boy Infestation

Some people have bed bugs and that totally blows. I've been totally a nut about checking the beds in any and all hotels to make sure there are no bed bugs. I have not been able to avoid our infestation of bed boys. We go to bed boy free and wake up each day infested. There are little boy heads, legs, arms and little boy butts all over my bed. They're under and on my legs. They turn sideways in my bed and take up way too much room for such small people.

I love them but I don't always like sleeping with them. I am not one to cuddle when sleeping, awake yes, asleep NO! The small boys are hot little furnaces. Honestly, Coulter must have a core temperature of about 140. And he sweats...There are times when you can see EXACTLY where he was laying due to the moisture.

I know that this will pass and I will miss having them in bed with me though I am pretty sure I won't want the stinky teenagers they will be in bed with me. They are very sweet and they still smell good. I love the smell of their sweaty little boy heads.

We have asked, nay, begged them to stay out of our room but to no avail. It's hard to be really stern about it when most of me loves that they want to be with me. I guess, until further notice, we are fully infested with bed boys.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Who Do....Voodoo....Saturday Morning

Oh it's been a busy day already. We got up at 6:45 to go to soccer. Yippie!!! I don't think I need to say this but I am NOT A MORNING PERSON. Never have been, never will be. BUT, I was the first one up and had to get the troops going, including Bob and that is saying something.

Sophia and her friend, Carlie, got up fairly easily and we were on the road and on time for warm up at 7:30. When we got to the field we were the second ones there. The daughter of the coach was in the warm car. It was 42 degrees out....COLD! The sun was still behind the trees and that made it even colder. Then my vented shoes got wet and my toes were frozen. Sophia's feet were cold too and she was convinced that she was getting frost bite. It's hard to convince someone that they are not getting frost bite when they don't understand how it works and their feet hurt. She also makes more noise about it then some others....just sayin'.

The game was a total blow out against our team. I'd like to say that is unusual but it isn't. The score was about 10-1 and that was after the opposing coach made his girls stop shooting for the goal. The whole team had to stay on their side of the field except for one girl who scored a couple goals against our whole team. As a person on the side line who was always pretty competitive, it's frustrating to watch. They kick the ball and then wait to see what happens. Ahhh, hello, follow the ball. I have never played soccer but I am pretty sure that is what you should to. Politeness does NOT get you any points. And if the ball doesn't go in the goal, again, no points. We have quite a few swing and miss type kicks and LOTS of kicking while trying not to get hit by the ball. So picture a girl in kicking motion but at the same time twisting, putting her hands up, closing her eyes and trying to direct her backside toward the ball so as not to get hit. That is a move that most of the girls have perfected. Sophia did a lot of that but she also scored the only goal. She can be aggressive in spurts.

To their credit they all came off the field smiling and in good spirits. That part makes me happy, that they are learning to lose with grace. Their coaches are always positive and it is reflected in the team.

After the game I took Sophia and Carlie to breakfast at Tosis. It's our local truck stop food place. The girls chose to sit at their own table. The waitress told them that if they were at their own table that they'd have to pay for their own breakfast. She turned and gave me a smile and a wink. The moment she turned the corner Sophia came over and asked very innocently, "Mom, will you please still pay for our breakfast?" She looked a little worried. So cute. I told her I would and they enjoyed their breakfast. I enjoyed the paper and some quiet time.

After breakfast, because that wasn't enough food, we headed for Voodoo Doughnuts. There was a line of about 50 people in there and we waited for about 20 minutes but it was worth it. I was a hero. Usually it's daddy that gets them the junk, today I got to be the good guy.

It's now noon and my toes are finally defrosting. The kids are all clean and we have big plans for the afternoon. We're going to a kid's version of Sleeping Beauty, the ballet at 2:00. Then later tonight Sophia has a sleep over. Oh, big plans.

Have a great weekend and I am sure I'll have more for you later.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Barber Kees

Bob needed a hair cut. Kees was available. He hit various spots on Bob's head and essentially refused to cut the top part because it was "bold" (bald) and didn't need it. Bob convinced him to give it a cursory cut.



As you can probably imagine, I needed to clean it up a bit at the end. Kees was really funny. He was brushing Bob off as I finished up the job. He said in a serious voice, "Mom, you need to do his pits too. They're really furry."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bumping Along

Bob and I have been sick. I started it. Actually, the boys started it. I saw runny noses and knew I was in for it. To be honest, I don't even try not to get sick any more. What's the use? Unless I hop into a hermetically sealed bubble there is no way to avoid their germs. They touch everything in my house EVERY THING! They climb into bed with me at night. Sometimes I catch them but usually I just wake up with them clinging to me. And then the usual little boy stuff....dragging their hands on everything as they walk, Coulter sucking on his clothes (Yeah, I know it's gross. I'm working on it.), Kees sneezing on me, on everything, etc., etc., etc.

Usually being sick is just part of the territory. This weekend we were signed up to watch some friend's kids for the weekend. They dropped their kids off at school and then we were to pick up after school and carry on from there until Sunday.

I started feeling a bit "slow" on Thursday night. I attributed it to a bike ride I took. It was a short one but I haven't been riding much. Friday morning I could feel it coming even more....CRAP! I couldn't tell my friend because I know she would have cancelled her trip and it was the first time they have been out of town as a couple in years. Besides, I wasn't feeling that bad....yet.

Friday Bob took the day off. He needed a mental health break. It was great. We ran errands and had a nice lunch together. We really enjoyed each other's company. Kees was at a play date until we picked up the big kids so we had quiet a bit of time.

By Friday afternoon I had rebounded quite well. That is good because we had plans to go out to dinner with the 7 of us, 5 Leeks and my friends 2 kids, and another family of 4 and another friend and 2 more kids. 14 in all.... THEN, we went to the Portland Pilot's Women's Soccer game against the Ducks where we met up with 2 friends of Bob's from work. We were up to 16. It was a beautiful night, it was a great game and I think everyone had fun. I did. The Pilots won 4-1. After the game it was straight home, PJ's and time for the smalls to go to bed. They all did great.

Saturday Bob got up and took care of the preliminary needs of all 5 of the kids. I got up shortly after him and got Sophia ready for soccer. I was moving slowly but I made it. I discovered that I was snack mom for her team. And off I went to the grocery store. I got back shortly after the game started. It was tied at half time. Sophia had been the goalie and did a great job defending the goal. In the second half she was a forward and scored 2 GOALS within 2 minutes of each other. It was awesome!!! The game ran over by a minute and a half and the other team scored in the last second to tie the game. WHAT THE???? We convinced the crying girls that they had really won the game and that the last goal didn't count. They hadn't won a game yet. They seemed better but continued to talk about how it wasn't fair. Man, do they have some "Life Isn't Fair" lessons to learn.

Mean while back at the ranch..... Bob had just made breakfast for the remaining kids at home. Hello, it was 11. My friend's kids are going to think this is child abuse. At our house, it's Saturday.

After brunch I took Coulter to his soccer game. I was still a bit slow but doing pretty well. Who knows who won there. It's like watching a bunch of crazy mice fight over cheese except that some of the mice forget they like cheese half the time. Watching these kids play is hilarious....Chase the ball, lift your shirt over your head, "Hey there's a bird", get hit in the face with the ball "Where'd that come from?" Cry. Run to mom. Pick your nose. Talk to your friend. Hey cheese, I mean the ball. I'm hungry. "Hey there's that cool bird again." You get the idea. Half of them have no idea what is going on. Coulter is in the game about 20% of the time.


Back at the ranch, Bob has been getting the other 4 ready for a swimming adventure. He took them to the East Portland Community Center where they have a lazy river, big, winding slide, a whirl pool, hot tub, and so on. Coulter and I met the group there after soccer. We all had a fine time. I was only there for just over an hour. Bob was there for over 3 hours. I would have been whacked.

By the time we were thinking about dinner, I had almost forgotten about being sick. We set up a movie for the kids in the basement, ordered pizza and left them with a BIG BOWL OF CANDY. There, that ought to do it. They watched in the basement and Bob and I had some quiet time up stairs. Ahhhh, quiet. 5 kids, no prob.

My girlfriend ended up coming home early and picked up their kids after their movie. The kids went to bed. Bob went to bed. And I stayed up. Why? I was feeling better, I am a night guy and I didn't know any better. As it turns out, it's a good thing I did.

Another friend of mine from out of town's son called me at 11:15. "Do you know of a park that we could sleep in downtown that would be safe?" I said, "Don't be ridiculous. Come here and sleep in my basement." I know this kid, he's a good kid and I trust that his friends would be too. They were. Now their judgement on sleeping in a park. Not so good. They are teenagers.

I ended up staying up until 1 in the morning. There is something about a quiet house that just holds me up at night. I love the quiet.

Sunday morning. I was pretty good. Hey maybe I wasn't going to get as sick as I thought. Cool. Bob made a lumberjack breakfast for the big boys. Kees sat right down with them as if he was one of them. Coulter chose to eat in the dinning room, alone, where he would be safe....from them. I sat with him. After breakfast we all watched a movie. That was fun on a Sunday Morning, totally decadent.

The big boys packed up, packed up their sleeping bags. That's about all they had. My friend's son told me about the heart ache that brought him to Portland. Oh, teenage angst. I was sorry for his pain and kept thinking...."I have to go through this 3 times. Yikes." He's a sweet kid. How could that girl do that to him?

Maybe it was the relaxation of the day, or time, or just quiet but by about 3 I was hurting. My body was hurting, I was tired, stuffy, coughing and congested. And it just got worse as time went on. My girlfriend brought me soup at about 7. I had on my PJs and went to bed at 7.

Monday morning Bob was feeling bad too and called in sick. We were quite a pair. He did some work in the morning on the phone. We decided to play hookey. We couldn't do anything anyway. We went to a movie, the Social Network. We liked it, though it did almost make me late to pick up Coulter. It's a strange feeling to go to a movie in the middle of the day.

I was so tired on Monday but we stayed up until 10. I knew if I went to bed early I wouldn't have been able to sleep. As it was ......I still couldn't. I laid in bed until midnight when I decided to just get up. I stayed up until 4 when I thought I should go to bed to get a couple hours of sleep. I tried but I couldn't sleep. Now here's the weird part. I got up at 7 and felt fine, like I had a full night's sleep. I kept expecting the other shoe to drop. Not only did I feel like I had a decent night's sleep, I felt better, way better. Bob was good enough to go to work.

I went on my usual Tuesday morning hill climb / walk. Still fine. Threw the ball for the dog, went shopping, went to Costco, unloaded, picked up the boys...fine, fine, fine. I finally had a time to sit down when the boys wanted to play on the playground. Awesome. Some time for me. We came home after an hour. I made dinner, got Coulter ready for soccer and pressed on.

It's now 9:15 and I am still fine. Go figure. I can't figure out why I feel so good. I still have the runny nose and stuffiness but I am much better. I hope I sleep well and am all better tomorrow. Bob is better too. We are on the mend. I am pretty sure it's just the first of many colds this year.

We're just bumping along. Trying to get better and taking care of our family and any other kids or families we can along the way. Stop by if you need a place to stay or someone to watch your kids.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Inner Dork Is OUT!!!

As most of you know (Not the dork part yet) I have 3 kids. All 3 of my kids are in school 5 days a week. This is great for the most part. It does make mornings hectic because they all start within 15 minutes of each other, at 3 different locations and Kees' school is 3 miles away. This means that someone will be late, early or have to go with someone else. The last option makes the most sense since there are a bunch of us in the same boat.

Two weeks ago 4 of us parents (of 5 preschool aged kids) got together for coffee. We compared school schedules, aftercare days, personal schedules, nap times and car sizes. If you have ever tried to put together this kind of schedule you know it can be confusing and difficult. We all came to some conclusions but I felt like I wanted to have it all on one sheet and clear enough for everyone to understand. Here's where the dork comes in.... I created a carpool spread sheet. I thought it was clear enough and would make sense to everyone so I copied everyone involved. I didn't think it was any big deal. I am a visual person and I did it so I could have it clearly in my head. Here it is....



I keep getting comments from teachers, other parents and administrators. They "say" that it's impressive and such but I think they're pulling my leg. I think they're really making fun of me when I am not looking. But the thing is, I don't care. I did it for me so it would be clear. My hope was that it would be clear for them too. One of the moms said she wasn't sure how it all worked but but she really liked it and she was glad that I had taken on that roll. The roll of coordinator. I am sure that last part is true and the part about being her being unclear as to how it all worked. What is the verbal equivalent to rolling your eyes? I think that is what most of them are doing. It works for me and that is what I am going with.

Then after one successful week of pick ups and drop offs I added another kid onto the schedule. The spread sheet needed to be amended. It caused a bit of confusion but I think we're all back on track.

Today when I went to pick up Kees and posse I needed to refer to the spread sheet because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to pick up one of the group. Kees' teacher, Debbie, knew exactly where the spread sheet was. She pulled it out, I checked it and sure enough, I almost forgot one. Thank goodness it was there. That would have been embarrassing!

So it's working, no one has been forgotten.....yet. Everyone is getting to school on time and everyone seems happy with their part of this. I hope it works well and if I have to be a dork to get 'er done then I will.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Baby is Growing UP!!!!



It's been a big week for my big girl. She is in 4th grade and has been really responsibile. The first week of school she set her alarm, got up, got dressed, walked and fed the dog. Then she would make her breakfast and lunch. She was usually done by the time I was getting out of the shower. She has slacked a bit now that it's the 3rd week of school but she is still taking care of herself and that is great!

She has also been riding her bike to school every day. At her school it seems that they're allowed to go to and from school on their own when they get to 5th grade. We've been walking Coulter over to his school at 8:20 and then Sophia hooks up with a buddy and rides to school. The first few days I followed behind and caught up with her at school just to make sure she was there safely. Then the buddies mom followed them (with out them knowing) and made sure they were there.

Two days ago I let Sophia leave from the house before I was ready so she could meet her buddy. Their meeting spot is still outside Coulter's school and as most of you know, it's across the street. But still, it was a big deal. She was taking herself to school without any help or supervision. I am actually OK with that except for one thing.... How do I know they're at school safely?

Given the whole Kyron Horman thing everyone here is on high alert. I know the school would contact me if she weren't there but that could be an hour later. A lot can happen in an hour. I was not OK with the unknown. The solution....A CELL PHONE.

She has been wanting a cell phone forever. She has never needed one before but I couldn't stand not knowing where she was and that she was safe. In reality it was for me and my peace of mind. I went to get one from T Mobile. Haven't we all seen these commercials about the $10 added phone? Ah, nope...$50 per month. No way Jose. That is their best deal? Come on... I have been with them for 12 years now. I don't even want to think about all the money that I have sent their way. Money that 20 years ago I wouldn't even have known to spend on such a thing. Who needed a cell phone? I had a home phone, you could call me there. But now, I can't live with out it.

I went to Safeway where I have seen those "pay as you go" phones. I figured you paid about $50 or so. Nope....$7 for the phone. I figured you can't go wrong with that right? The minutes are where they get you. It's about $.16 per minute and you get 3 texts per minute. I think it's a great deal and if the kid looses the phone it isn't the end of the world. I got her 260 minutes and they are good thru February. If the phone is used like it is supposed to be that should be good enough. Now how to get her to do what I want....A CONTRACT.

Following is my version of a kid's cell phone contract. CELL PHONE CONTRACT

I, Sophia Leek, understand that having a cell phone is a BIG responsibility. I, therefore, agree to the following conditions. If I break these rules I will relinquish my cell phone and / or pay a $5.00 fine per offense.

1. My cell phone will be used primarily to contact my parents and make them aware of my location and situation.

2. I will text when possible to save money.

3. I will not text my friends unless given permission.

4. I will not let my friends use my phone.

5. I will not accept calls from my friends on this phone. I will set my message to have friends call me on our home phone.

6. I will not accept phone calls from phone numbers that I do not recognize. The only exception to this rule is if the same number calls 3 times indicating that it is from my parents who are at a number I don’t recognize.

7. I will silence my phone when I am at school after I text my mom to let her know I am safe. The first thing I will do at the end of the day is turn the ringer back on.

8. I WILL ALWAYS ACCEPT CALLS FROM MY PARENTS.

9. I WILL ALWAYS CALL IF I FEEL LIKE I AM IN ANY TYPE OF DANGER OR IF I AM AFRAID.

10. The phone is the property of my parents and will be turned over upon request.

11. I will not brag or show off that I have a cell phone.

12. I will give my phone to my mom each evening after I am finished with activities for the day. I will not delete any information from my phone so that all air time is recorded.

13. If I lose my cell phone I will pay to replace it. The cost of the phone is $10 and the cost of minutes is $40. If I lose the phone I am responsible to pay the $50 replacement fee.

This contract can be amended, changed and /or updated at the discretion of my parents. If it is amended I will sign a new contract. ________________________________________ ______/______/______
Sophia Leek

________________________________________ ______/______/______

Heather Leek

I tried to cover all my bases but left in that last bit just incase I need to change things.

Now I had the phone, the contract and the last bit was to add all the cell numbers she might ever need and figure out how the thing worked so I could show Sophia. Done.... And finally, the presentation of the phone.

I set the phone on the stairs and called Sophia from my phone. When her phone rang

I said, "Sophia, can you get that!"

She answered and said "Hello."

I said, "Hello. Who's phone is that?"

She said, "I don't know."

I said, "Who's to you think it is?"

And she said, "MINE?"

I said, "Yep."

And that is when the screaming and cheering started. She was so excited she could hardly contain herself. Actually she didn't. Of course she wanted to start calling people immediately. That's when I told her there were some rules, actually quite a few rules, that she needed to follow and that she needed to sign a contract. She would have done anything at that point to get a phone.

We went through the contract and both signed it. She took one copy and I took the other.

On Friday she took the phone with her to school. The deal was that for the first week she would call and text me when she got to school. I wanted to make sure that the phone worked well and that we were communitcating properly. She was grinning from ear to ear as she left for school. She was so excited about her new responsibility. Off she went, on her own, just a little bit grown up.

It's both exciting and sad to hand her these little bits of growing up. It means she is a bit more independent and doesn't need me as much. On the happy side, it saves me almost an hour and a half per day! That is huge! Though I do miss seeing all the mom's in the morning and on the play ground in the afternoon. I still get some of that at Coulter's school.

I don't want to over indulge her but it happens. In this case it was a matter of safety and I needed to know that she is safe at all times. Being a parent is hard and knowing what to do or when to give them bits of freedom is both exciting and difficult. We all want them to grow up strong, independent and smart. If you give a kid too much freedom too soon they can get into trouble. It can also be scary to have too much freedom. I believe kids want limits.

I guess it's a balancing act, to let the rope out slowly. If you do it just right they know they're safe and you don't get burned. Let the rope out too fast and yowza, you all get burned.

So that is the balancing act that I have been doing this week. So far so good. I did have to stop her from texting me on the second day. I had to remind her that, "Can you bring me some socks?" is NOT an emergency. She listened. She was disappointed that she doesn't get to keep the phone in her room and that I get it at the end of the day but too bad. I am praying that if I set limits now they'll pay off later.

She is doing a great job growing up and handling the responsibilities that have been given to her. I am extreemly proud of her and the young lady that she is becoming. I would love to claim that it's due to my (and Bob's) parenting but I swear, it's just who she is. I am just trying to guide her and help her make wise choices. And for all that I say again, SO FAR, SO GOOD.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just to Be Fair

2 years ago....His original first day.


This morning....All smiles...or at least at first.

Kees' first day of school was today. He has been ready for EVER!!!! We got to school and he was fine. I took his picture....all smiles. Then I tried another one....he started to falter. I knew I should stop while I was ahead. I didn't want to ruin his first day.

We went into his class room. He put his stuff away and immediately hid. He wouldn't come out to say good bye or anything. I said, "Alright, good bye." and I walked away. I knew if I left he'd be really upset so waited him out. He finally came out gave me a kiss and then went back to his hiding spot.

He seemed fine when I picked him up so I guess all was fine. He'll be fine. It's just a new year, something new to get used to.

Cheers to a new year....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

School......Hallelujah!!!!!

THEN....................


AND NOW..............




I love my kids all the time. I love them in Winter, Spring and Fall. I love them in Summer. AND I LOVE THEM IN SCHOOL!!!! Don't get me wrong. My kids were great this Summer, almost all Summer. I'd be lying if I said they were great every second, but for the most part I don't have complaints. But I am a realist.

Yesterday was the first day of school. We were ready. Each one of the kids had one new outfit. They have more clothes than 99% of the world's population. And regardless of all the BACK to SCHOOL messages out there.......they didn't need new clothes.

We had all the school supplies. I waited until 7 pm the night before school started but I did get them. My philosophy is that if just one parent gets all the stuff before the kids start school then we are golden. They pool all the supplies so what's it matter? It doesn't. You learn that the first time you buy all the special things for your kindergartner. You get the princess or Star Wars box of Kleenex, the special box of character pencils, fancy water colors etc....and then you toss them into the big bins in the hall labeled....teacher so and so. It's a bubble burster. It does make sense, except to your whining 5 year old. None the less, it's a lesson we're taught and it does not make me feel a sense of urgency to get the stuff. But we did get the stuff. Good for us, good for the kids, good for the school.

The kids were excited for school to start. The boys went to sleep at 8....make that bed at 8, sleep came at about 10 yells and 30 threats, I mean 10:30. They were pissing us off for sure. Sophia went right out.

Everyone jumped out of bed at 7 am. Ha ha ha ha woooo, ha ha ha ha ah....ohhhh that is a good one. Sophia was up. The boys, surprise, surprise, didn't want to get up. Bob got the troops ready for the most part....clothes, breakfast, lunches etc. I got the obligatory "1st Day of School" signs made and made sure they were ready for pictures. Such a mom....

We all tromped out the door at 8:15 and headed for Coutler's school. His school is across the street and down about 5 houses. It's the best. We can hear the first bell and there are many mornings that is what really gets Coutler going. Beverly Cleary's Hollyrood Campus is for kindergarten and first grade only. It's very sweet. We took the standard pictures and made sure that Coulter was settled in. Some kids are clingy....what's the opposite of clingy? I will choose, secure and confident. Coulter was that and then some. He hung up his stuff, said, "Hi" to his teacher, he found his spot and was ready for his day. He was so cute. I was so proud.

The rest of us went over to Beverly Cleary's Fernwood Campus to drop Sophia off for her first day of 4th grade. What the????? Really? 4th grade? Oh man, it's going so fast. She dutifully held her "First Day" sign and smiled.

We'll see how many years this lasts. I know that some grades will be me holding the sign up in front of the camera with her back running away...."It still counts Sophia! I got the sign and you in the picture.... IT STILL COUNTS.!!!" As she sprints down the hall rolling her eyes thinking or yelling what a dork I am. We each have our jobs...

But for now she held the sign. We walked upstairs, UPSTAIRS! That is where the big kids go. She showed us her new, giant class room. Ahhh, you need a giant class room when there are 30+ kids in your class. Sophia found her seat and the bell rang. Her teacher said confidently, "Thank you all for coming. You can find your way out over here." And she guided us to the door.

And that was that... They have moved up a grade.

Pick up was smooth and both of them had the best day ever. They both love their teachers so that is great. I don't know their teachers yet so we'll see how that goes. In the brief time that I have known them (and that is literally moments) they both seem confident and self assured. That makes me happy.

As a side bar....Kees doesn't start school until Monday so he is still home making me nuts. He's had Coulter to play with all Summer and isn't as good at playing on his own as he was last year. He wanted me to "Look at..." everything he does. He's cute but I am easily bored with that game. We had Meals on Wheels to do today and he was fabulous but that is another post.

For now I am thrilled that school is back in session. Momma needs a break.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More Summer?


Really??? It's not over? I swear the kids have been out of school since, about 1987 or so. Sheesh....

We're glad to be home and have been having a sort of normal, summer week. Coulter has baseball camp, Sohpia has had some play dates and Kees has been hanging out with me.

In other news..... Coulter lost his first tooth!!!! It was so loose that is was gross! I finally grabbed him and said, "This is ridiculous." and I grabbed it and pulled it out. Seriously, the new tooth was behind it and the old one was barely in there. I was afraid he'd lose it when eating and then freak out because he swallowed it. He was really happy. We immediately put it in a sandwich bag so it would be harder to loose. He lost it anyway. This, as you probably know, is a recurring theme with Coulter. I had a back up plan. In the past I kept Sophia's baby teeth. I don't know why, I just did. I couldn't just throw them away could I? It may be weird but in this case it saved my bacon. I grabbed another bag and dropped one of Sophia's teeth in there. "Coulter, calm down, I found it." He was really happy about that. He's going to be confused when he finds the other bag with the other tooth in it. Silly fairy, leaving bags with teeth in them all over the house.

Coulter got 2 dollars....that he immediately lost. I have replaced them, twice. I also found the lost ones....it's a wash.

Coulter has loved his baseball camp. Apparently last week there were 39 kids in the camp so they booked 5 councilors for this week just in case. Each day this week there have been 5 kids in the camp. Awesome! One on one attention. It's the best value out there.

Kees is VERY excited for his official birthday party. Poor kid hasn't really had a real party. 3rd child....need I say more? And this is not your traditional party, it's a pirate, cocktail party. Just what every 5 year old wants, a cocktail party. I have been planning and gathering stuff. Now I have to execute it. We have 20+ lbs of Garner's meats....the best. TONS of pirate booty. I have eye patches, head scarves, swords, knives, tattoos, scars, gold pieces, pirate head scarves, pirate shot glasses, hooks, pirate drinks, telescopes, pirate music, Davy Jones' Locker and....wait for it..... a pirate ship. I got some card board boxes and made a pirate ship that I am going to put out front and attach to the deck like it's a dock. It's going to be great. I got Pirates of the Caribbean for the kids to watch in back. It's going to be a blast. Though I am looking forward to having it over. Tina and Rex took on the job of the cake. They are going all out! I can hardly wait to see what they have done. I'll be sure to post pictures of it all.



As a side bar.... Kees is saying the funniest things. Last night at dinner Kees was doing everything but eating. He held up his thumbs next to each other and said, "Look. It looks like my thumbs are swollen. It is because I am growing." And then went to the next subject.... WHAT? He makes no sense half the time. He also lost something in the deflector thing on the hood of my van. He didn't know what that part of the car was called so he said he needed me to open the van. "You need to open the...ahhh...the..." He was waving his arms around and moving them back and forth. "The part where you put all the oil and stuff." I love this age when they are figuring it all out....Too cute.

Sophia is getting so grown up. She made pancakes for she and Kees this morning. Then later she had a buddy over and they went to the pool alone. They made their own lunch, made their own plans and have been playing all day. I love that she is getting more independent. I had to run a couple errands today and she opted to stay home with her friend. It is huge! Big girl. Man the time flies. When she and her buddy Ella walked out the door to go swim Ella said, "See ya. We're going to college." They smiled and giggled and left. It really hit me. They have known each other since they were weeks old and they are both through the better part of being 9. That means that in just that much time again they will be in college. And it's just about this time of year that they will go to college....scary how fast it all goes.

Sophia and Ella circa 2001.


Sophia and Ella today....


I am trying to savor those last few days of summer. The kids each have their one new school outfit. I haven't purchased a single thing for school supplies. They pool them so I figure I'll get them right after school starts. There is too much going on right now PLUS it's way easier (and cheaper) to get them alone. I am making final arrangements for car pools, drop offs and pick ups. Soccer started Monday for Sophia and next Tuesday for Coulter. Soon we'll be into Saturday game days for both of them. I need to set up violin lessons for Sophia and maybe some horse riding for all of them. Yikes, that will be expensive. The boys want to gymnastics....we'll see.

So this post is a random bunch of stuff but I wanted to get it all down. After the party we're going to Anderson Island to see my Dad and Sally for the weekend. That should be great. I'll have more later....

California and Back



We got home from California on Saturday. Our time there was great. The weather was amazing and we did lots of fun things. One of the days it was 85 in the city. 85, that is not a typo. That, my friends, is highly unusual for the city. We took the BART to the trolley and ended up at Pier 39. It's not my favorite place but it is where the boat that we were taking jumps off. We saw the Sea Lions too. They are so much fun...for us, not the boat owners ;-)



The Bay Tour was with the Blue and Gold Fleet. I have seen those for years and I think the last time I took one was about 1975, SERIOUSLY! The weather couldn't have been better for this little trip. The cruise takes you out along the waterfront toward the ocean, under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz. Captain Nemo or Ahab or someone tells tales of the city over a loud speaker. It was fun, informative and beautiful. I loved it! I wasn't expecting much so it was a great little surprise. Coulter was miffed that we didn't get off on Alcatraz. Kees fell asleep. Poor baby....we'd been going hard.








Next we went to the Aquarium of the Bay. Don't bother. It was small and not very well done. There is a tube you walk through to see sharks and such but other then that....yawn. If you have never been to any sort of aquarium it might be alright. It was part of our City Pass so I guess it was worth it. 'Nuff said.

After we were done with that Nancy and I laid out on the grass while the kids played. We people watched and relaxed. It was really fun to just be.... Man there are some interesting characters in that city. We saw some break dancers that defied gravity and broke about 25 other natural laws. Our last thing to do was hit the Musee Mecanique. It is so much fun and reminds me of when I was a kid. We blew about $20 in there.

We took a cab to Chinatown. The wait for the cable car was about 2 hours long and we were not that patient. We went to dinner at the usual spot and the kids played in the park again. I love that park. Watching the little old Chinese people is wonderful. There was a group of ladies playing some card game on a card board box.



The old guys were all bantering about something of another and laughing. It's like being in China, I swear.

We wrapped up our day with a short cable car ride to the BART and then went home. It was a great day.

We spent one more day in the city at the Exploratorium. The kids love that place. After that they were done. The city was cold that day and we knew that in Martinez it was 20 degrees warmer and there was a pool waiting for us. We also were having dinner with Nancy and Dave and needed to celebrate Kees' birthday. We went home.

The boys went swimming, Sophia and I made glass art (Nancy has a beautiful glass studio where she puts out great art. So cool.) Nancy made dinner and we generally had a great day. Dinner was terrific and after dinner....STAR WARS PARTY. Kees turned 5. He got a Zu Zu Pet and a remote control Jeep. He was thrilled. And we had a carrot cake with Star Wars guys on top. Nothing says "Star Wars" like carrot cake.




On Saturday we packed up and headed for home. We were missing our daddy, dog and home. We left at about 10:30. Man, I can't imagine how quiet their house seems after we've been there. Anyway.... We made it home by 9:00 even with 12 potty breaks and a 45 minute lunch break. The kids were fabulous and didn't complain once. We did about half books on tape and half movies. I was very proud of them.

It is great to be home. Period. We are glad to be back in our own beds and our own digs. Nancy and Dave's house is great and the beds are really comfortable but it isn't home for us. I don't know how they stood us for almost 10 days but they did. I am grateful for such nice and generous friends.

So that is remainder of our SF trip. It was great fun and we only did about half of what we wanted. Maybe we'll go back next year....we'll see.