Sunday, January 15, 2012

It Was a Regular Night

Last night was a really fun night until…..  I can’t, nay, won’t, start with the punch line.  Let me back up a few hours. 

This is the first not regular part, it was better than regular.  My brother and I started planning for last night in December.  He and Tina generously invited us out for an adult night on the town as our Christmas Gift.  Our usual babysitter was out….got her wisdom teeth pulled 3 days ago.  Ahh, not so wise….what about us Clara?  What about us?  Well, for the good name of the Bauer-Baker Family I have to say Clara’s Mom, Rebecca, stepped up and volunteered, along with her husband Greg, to watch the kids.  I was and am grateful. 

Bob and I met Rex and Tina at 6:30 at Lucca.  I had never been there so I had no idea what to expect.  We had a reservation and by the looks of the crowd waiting, it’s a dang good thing.  We had a nice chat and the food (at least mine) was awesome.  Honestly, it was the best thing I have eaten in a long time.  I had the braised pork shoulder with polenta and roasted vegetables.  It was really fun.  After dinner we headed across the street to Perry’s for dessert.  We ran into friends, had our treats and finished up our night out.  It was really fun and we were home by 9:30.  Nice.

Here’s where the regular part begins.  Greg was finishing putting the kids to bed.  I was so glad we missed that.  What’s the purpose of a night out if you have to come home and put your kids to bed?  We had a glass of wine and talked to Greg and Rebecca for about an hour.  That’s always fun.  After they left we sat down to watch a movie, Cowboys and Aliens to be exact.  Not the worst movie ever.  It was worth the dollar we spent on it at the Red Box. 

About 75% of the way through the movie Kees comes stammering down the stairs.  Mind you it was 12:15 am.  He said, “I can’t find Coulter and I’m scared.”  I said, “Come here baby.”  He came over and curled up on my lap. My sweet baby, momma will comfort you.  About 2 minutes later he belched and threw up a little bit on me.  These things happen.  I lift his head up off of me to gain control of the situation and he immediately projectile vomits all over me.  I was covered from my neck to my knees.  Bob came over, grabbed Kees and set him down about 5 feet from me where he threw up all over the carpet.  Seriously it sounded like he spilled a gallon of liquid mixed with Jell-O on the floor. Splat, splat…pause…splaaaaatttttt.  Bob grabbed him again and carried him into the bathroom and instruct Kees to, “Throw up in the toilet.”  He did.  A lot.

While Bob was carrying Kees around, I was laying back on couch covered in red, stinky barf.  Apparently Kees had some licorice and popcorn yesterday.  Who knew?  I couldn’t move because if I did it would spill (more puke) on the floor.  I called, calmly to Bob, “Can you bring me a towel?”  He did.  I covered the front of me with said towel doing the best I could to contain the damage, and I moved into the bathroom.  I disrobed down to my underwear because I was soaked through to them. I started seeing a LOT of humor in this situation.  I had on a turtleneck, a sweater and a vest and was soaked through!  Impressive performance. 

By now, Kees was finished expelling and said, “I feel better.”  I asked him to wait down stairs by the toilet, just in case, while I made a bed for him in our room.  He agreed.  I laid down a few towels and made a bed for him on the towels.  I also set a pan out for him in case of emergency. When I came down to retrieve him he was wiping off the end of the tie on his bathrobe on one of my new towels.  In his entire projectile vomiting episode he only got that one drop on himself.  Again, quite impressive.  I stripped him of his robe, grabbed the towel and tossed them down the chute to Bob who was starting the first of a few loads of laundry.  Kees said, “Mom, sorry I barfed on you.”  I said, “It’s OK.  It happens.”  Kees turned and bounded up the stairs like nothing had happened.

I got him settled into his makeshift bed.  I took a shower.  I needed one…..badly.  While I was doing this Bob did laundry, cleaned up vomit from various locations in a 20 by 5 foot wide area.  Luckily, we have a small carpet cleaner for wet spills.  It comes in handy more often than I would like and always for something gross.  I can’t imagine what could be growing in that machine.  He cleaned carpet, clothes, towels, blankets, more carpet, pillows, the couch, under the cushions of the couch and so on.  Gross, gross and more gross….

25 minutes after this whole fiasco started we were back on the couch in different clothes and with another glass of wine in hand.  It was needed.  I looked at Bob and we both just started cracking up.  I said, “You couldn’t write that scene in a movie if you tried.  No one would believe it.”  We laughed for 5 minutes recapping the whole thing.  Honestly, it was hilarious.  One minute you’re sitting there peacefully watching a stupid movie, glad that it’s almost over so you can go to bed and the next you’re covered in your son’s puke watching him single handedly ruin your house like and alien spewing acid.  You can’t make this stuff up! 

So there is our regular night, regular for a mom and dad of 3 kids.  It happens.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas Letter 2011

Goodness gracious! I say this every year but seriously…how is it that time is flying at such an exponential rate? We just celebrated Christmas like, 3 months ago. The small people aren’t so small anymore so the time must have gone by.

The Leeks are all doing well in the Rain Rose City. I continue to be blessed in so many ways. I have a healthy beautiful family, we live in a supportive and wonderful neighborhood, our house is comfortable and cozy and I have amazing and loving family & friends. I feel so lucky.

Here’s the lowdown on the kids. Sophia is fully in t’ween stage and is almost 11. She is going full throttle towards becoming a teenager. She occasionally throws out attitude but most of the time she is delightful. She is a crazy reader, continues to ride horses, is an avid tree climber and as always, is a loving and supportive big sister. She is in 5th grade this year and is in a 4/5 blend. All summer she was adamant that she did not want to be in a class with a bunch of 4th graders. As it turns out she has made new friends and realizes that we’re all more alike than not, a lesson that we all need to learn.

Coulter is going to be 8 at the end of December. He has a level of concentration that is amazing. As a matter of fact if he is reading a book you either have to shout or touch him to get his attention. He gets completely enveloped in a concentration bubble. I wish I could do that. While occasionally it is frustrating I think it will serve him well for the long term. He continues to be my cuddly boy. I know that won’t last forever but it is very sweet right now. He loves school and when asked at the end of each day, “How was your day?” inevitably he answers, “It was the best day of my life.” His joie de vivre is contagious. He laughs harder, plays bigger and loves more whole heartedly than most.

Kees turned 6 in August and we finally have him in Kindergarten. He was pretty miffed last year when a bunch of his buddies went to kindergarten and he stayed in preschool. I wasn’t sure at the time if it was the right decision but this year I couldn’t be more sure. He has a confidence that wasn’t there last year and LOVES school. This summer he was a pest. I thought it was just because he wanted to push all our buttons. The truth of the matter was he was bored. When asked about his day, everyday may not be the “best day” like his brother but every day is “GREAT.” Last night I was talking to some of the kindergarten parents. When I was asked to describe Kees I said, “He’s the kid with fairly long blond hair and he thinks he’s cool.” 3 or 4 parents later said, “He thinks he’s cool because he IS cool.” And so it begins……

Bob is still with Kaiser Permanente and enjoys his work most days. He was afforded an amazing opportunity this year. Kaiser sent him to Harvard to attend the Executive Leadership Program with another 65 Kaiser people from all over the country. The days were long and they went out a few evenings. Bob got to be a college man again and really enjoyed the whole experience. He set up a few poker games and even got out to play some golf. So it was the college experience but with some money. He was gone a total of 4 weeks but it was split into two 2 week periods. We all missed him a LOT but understood that this was something daddy needed to do. He also got in quite a bit of golf this year including a trip to Nevada with 15 new friends. Google Wolf Creek to see the course.  Guys, golf, good times…It was a great play date.

We didn’t fly much but we covered a lot of ground this year. The kids and I took a quick trip to Walla Walla and Spokane for Spring Break. We spent the latter half of Spring Break with daddy at home. Staying at home with time off is THE BEST. Then, the day after school got out the kids and I along with my pal Sarah and her kids drove to the SF Bay area. We all travel well together. The kids and I stayed with the Slacks in Martinez and Sarah went to her brother’s. We lucked into the best weather. It was about 80° in the city even in Golden Gate Park! When we got home from California we packed up again and went to a 3 day Bluegrass Festival in Fossil OR with the Bauer-Baker Clan and best of all Bob got to come this time. The weather was sublime and the company was the best. On the second day our kids and Clara wrote a song and entered the song writer’s contest with 15 other singer/song writers. Our kids WON! It was amazing and they were totally pumped. We left Fossil and went straight to Priest Lake, ID to see our long time friends the Thompsons. We have talked about getting together at their lake house for about 10 years now. The time was right and again…the sun followed us to Idaho. The Thompsons took great care of us and shared all their toys too. They have boats, floating things, 4 wheelers and so on. The kids loved being dragged behind the boat and riding the 4 wheelers. There are trails all around the house and up the mountain to beautiful vistas. We loved our time there. We got home on July 11th and Portland was just starting to see some sun….FINALLY.

Sophia went to camp for a whole week….my baby gone a whole week. A week later all 3 of our kids went to Cousin Camp on Anderson Island hosted by my dad and Sally. They had all their grandkids in one place. Good times and a LOT of work and planning. The kids love their cousins and their grandparents and had a great experience. Bob and I enjoyed a quiet house.  Empty nest preview?

In August we had a family reunion at mom and Ed’s place. All the “kids” (the under 50 set) camped down by the water. The “adults” (the over 50 crowd) all found beds at mom’s or with a neighbor. We played poker, roasted hot dogs and such and laughed a lot. There is something about getting together with family….maybe it’s the blackmail material we all have on each other? I’m not sure if it keeps us in check but it does make for funny stories that only family understands or that actually pass as acceptable. Lots of our stories would only draw blank stares or looks of disgust from anyone else. We laughed our heads off.  All the “little kids” (the under 20’s) all got reacquainted and had a great time playing together. It was such fun.

In October we went to Disneyland with mom and Ed. We spent 3 of the days down there at Disneyland and had a couple of down days too. We were all big enough to ride everything and even the boys did the scary rides. The only one they bypassed was the Tower of Terror (my favorite). The boys loved Star Tours. Sophia liked Space Mountain and Mom and Ed loved the Indiana Jones ride. Bob….loved it all.

Our Thanksgiving was lovely with the Bauer-Bakers and Bob’s mom Ans came out from Atlanta. We were so happy to have her with us. It’s a long way to come for 3 days but we are so glad she made the effort. We all enjoyed her company immensely.

Our holiday is ramping up. As I type Bob is putting up Christmas lights outside and dragging out the decorations. We look forward to Dad and Sally coming for Christmas. We’ll be going to the Nutcracker and hosting Christmas Dinner with friends. The kids are excited for Santa’s arrival. Little do they know, Santa has been busy already and is fairly prepared. I have been trying to stay relaxed and keep the stress to a minimum. Momma needs to have fun too. I have been so blessed and remain grateful. Take time to reflect on your blessings during this crazy time of year. Remember Christ’s birth, hold your family close and have a safe and happy holiday!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Time Warp

Time is a funny thing.  When you are little it goes very slowly.  We all remember wanting to be older.   Christmas comes so slowly and then it’s gone in the blink of an eye, and then you have to wait for another like, 5 years until it comes again.  Birthdays, forget about it, those only come every 5 years too.   My kids start talking about their next birthday and what they want to do at said party about a week after we celebrate.  It’s pretty much the same with all special days….they take fooorrrreeeeevvvveeeer to arrive and then, flash, they’re gone.

I understand that it is exciting but when you get older time whizzes by exponentially.  It’s actually kind of crazy how fast.  And when the kids start talking about the next event it’s frustrating.  It’s frustrating because we adults are the ones who facilitate all their good times.  To them it’s all fun and games, to us it is work, LOTS of work and it’s usually expensive.  And when they start talking about the next one it feels like they are not enjoying what we do, as if to say, “That was just OK, maybe good but NEXT time it is going to the most awesome time ever!”  I want to scream, “BE IN THE MOMENT!”  Enjoy what is happening right now, appreciate it, savor it and when it’s over tell me how great it was and that you really love me (and dad) for making it happen.  Let me know that you appreciate all we do for you because it makes it hard to do over and over again without any kudos.  But it doesn’t work that way. 

And I have to do this 3 times per year for birthdays, add in Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Spring Break, New Years, Halloween, all vacations and any other random celebrations that come along.  All of these holidays require one or all of the following; planning, decorating, dressing up, traditional foods and/or desserts, singing, family visits, attending performances and parties and there is usually entertaining involved.  It’s stressful.  That means every month we have stuff that has to be done.  Kids expect all that stuff to be done as if by magic.  They ask why Bob and I don’t have birthday parties each year.  It’s because I don’t want to do it and if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. 

As adults we first do it because we love our children and want them to have grand experiences.  We want them to remember each event as we would have wanted it when we were kids.  If there was something that we remember clearly as wonderful, we want them to have it too.  Sometimes we are disappointed when they don’t appreciate the tradition or special thing we thought would give them an amazing memory.   That thing that was so special when we were little.  As time goes on we continue to do all this stuff because we are creating traditions or because we want to do better than last year.  As we ramp it up, our children expect more.  It is a no win situation.  We do it to ourselves and it’s a hard habit to break.

I have tried to tone down the Christmas gift getting.  A few years ago we went nuts because we love our kids but….  they don’t love Christmas more when they get more.  It’s a waste of time and money AND I can’t stand the clutter.  Even though we toned it down it was still crazy busy.  It was all fun but I am glad it’s over.

I wanted to boot one of my kids when the statement, “Next Christmas I want……” before we even hit the New Year.  I wanted to shout, “I’m tired.  Can we just relax for awhile?”  But no, we can’t.  Sophia’s birthday is in 2 ½ weeks, 3 weeks later mine, 3 weeks after that Bob’s, Spring Break, Easter, Memorial Day and then SUMMER….. AHHHHH!    If I start thinking about it like that it’s over whelming!  There is never a break and since my years are now only 3-4 months long (or so it seems).  It’s all crammed into this short amount of time.  Hey kids, it’s like having a final every week!

Sophia has started to notice that time is speeding up.  She gets that her years seem shorter than when she was 5 and I’m glad that she is taking note.  It isn’t something that I expected to feel so strongly but I do.  As I do each year I will try and simplify.  I say this a lot.  But then a really fun thing or trip or experience comes along and I don’t want my kids to miss out.  

We have stopped the big crazy birthday parties in lieu of a couple friends and a more intimate experience. We have taken more car trips and less plane trips.  We have stopped hosting huge parties that we cover all costs and started having neighborhood pot lucks.  I am trying to change the expectation from “larger than life” to reasonable but all these events still take time. Part of being a stay at home mom has given me the luxury of time so I can provide many of these experiences.  Bob supports us when we go on trips or when we do something fun and I am very grateful for that support.   Without his support and buy in none of it would be the same. 

I could try and explain all of this to them but they wouldn’t get it.  There is no way for them to clearly understand the speed at which my year goes by.  They will understand when they are 46 IF they have 3 little kids, a dog and a spouse and all the other responsibilities that go along with life.  I am not complaining.  I LOVE my life and family, I just need more time or longer years.  I try to be in the moment and enjoy the day to day, I don’t want to always be planning and doing because it’s really hard to savor my time and family that way.  In the mean time I will be trying to figure out how to simplify and slow down time and if I can’t do that I just need to breathe and hold on.