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, " 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.