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.


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.