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.
video

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.