Thursday, January 30, 2014

2013 Holiday Letter

It’s been another great year with the Leeks here in Portlandia (just like the TV show). We are blessed with good health, growing smart kids (smart parents…not growing), a wonderful community, a comfortable home and many positive experiences over the past year. We are truly living the dream and I am reminded of our blessings every day. 

The kids are all very active. With each one in just one sport and one activity this fall we hardly had time to eat dinner. Because it is a priority to eat together, we often didn’t eat until eight in the evening. And getting homework done…that is a whole other challenge.  It wasn’t pretty, but we managed to have a lot of fun in everything we did. 

Sophia is in 7th grade, will be 13 in January and continues to be a terrific kid. I keep waiting for the “other shoe” to drop but she is still as sweet and kind as ever. Of course she has moments of teen angst and attitude but they are usually followed by her bright smile. Her smile that got braces just 2 weeks ago! She loves her aerial dance with AWOL ( and is in the advanced teen class. Man she is strong. There is also soccer in the mix. She does very well in school and has the nicest friends. That is a big deal to mamma. This summer she ran a camp with a friend. They had “employees” and even had some HR and P&L issues to deal with. It was a great learning experience and a great success! They already have parents that want to sign up their kids for next year.

Coulter will be 10 on the 29th. I can’t believe my first baby boy will be in double digits! He does well in school and has lots of friends. He makes friends everywhere he goes and has an amazing ability to engage anyone. He has what most leaders want… he has ”IT!” He played baseball and soccer this year but what he loves most is rock climbing. He’s a natural. The first day he climbed, he made it to the top of the gym using a fairly difficult route and really impressed his instructor. He moves confidently and quickly and is strong from head to toe. Oh to have that strength to weight ratio again.  He keeps us all laughing and is a really snuggly boy.  He still likes to sit on my lap. I consider it precious time.

Kees is 8 and keeps us all on our toes. He is one of the oldest kids in his grade. Holding him back a grade has proven to be one of the smartest moves we’ve made as parents. Score one for M&D! He is thriving and is oh so smart. He often thinks in an abstract manner and truly amazes us all. His natural ability to think “outside of the box” will serve him well. He played baseball and soccer and just recently joined his brother in rock climbing. He is pretty excited about it. I can just picture my boys climbing together some day. The idea makes me smile.

The smalls are all very funny…. The other day the boys were making cookies when they called me in. “Mom, do these look good? Can we put them in the oven?” I said, “Boys, your balls are too big.” They immediately went into hysterics…. Great, that’s the path we’re on now. And Sophia can make me laugh at will. She recently saw a kid with a Cabbage Patch Doll and asked, "What's with that doll’s legs?" I said, "It's a Cabbage Patch Doll. It just looks like that." She said, "Well it looks like ‘Needs an EpiPen Doll.’"  Her sense of humor is falling fairly close to the tree.  I can’t decide if that’s good or not.

They are all pals too. Sophia runs a “school” for the boys with a full curriculum when they’re out of their “real” school. They do art projects, read and do math too. It’s very cute. And the boys play together so nicely (most of the time). When they laugh together there is not a better sound in the world. It makes my heart smile.

Bob is the new Deputy CIO for Multnomah County.  The County includes Portland. Yep, he left Kaiser after almost 10 years. He worked tirelessly in the effort to successfully open Kaiser’s newest and most technologically advanced hospital in the country. Then the next week he was working for the County. He loves it. His office is 3 miles from our house and the hours are much better. He is usually home by 5:30 and is able to coach the kids in various sports. Our “Bob hours” have greatly increased vs. “non-Bob hours” and that makes me and the “smalls” very happy. He is even playing futsal.

I am still a stay at home mom and I love that title. I am the president of the PTA for the second (and final) year in a row. It is a job that takes WAY more time than I ever thought it would. Our school is very successful and crowded. We will need to do some adjusting next year for a one-year “fix” and then the boundaries will be redrawn the following year. I still volunteer outside of the school and am still surprised how little time I spend at home given my “stay at home” title.

We spent time at the beach, zip lined, rode horses, threw parties, played sports, rode bikes and traveled a bit. The kids and I drove to San Francisco and Disneyland with a girlfriend of mine and her two kids. We did 2080 miles in 40 hours over seven days with seven people in one van. We covered a lot of ground walking all over San Francisco and then spent two 12-hour days at Disneyland. We had sore feet but we got our monies worth. Best of all, we parted as friends even after all that time in close quarters.  The 4th of July was spent camping at mom and Ed’s…heaven.  A few weeks later Bob and I spent five days in San Francisco just enjoying each other’s company. It was great fun. We attended my dad’s retirement party in September where he was greatly honored. In August Bob and I went to my 30th high school reunion and had another great weekend. The friends that I made in high school continue to be the quality people that I knew they would be. I have reacquainted with old friends and have really enjoyed getting to know my high school friends as adults.

It has been a great year and we’re looking forward to a wondrous holiday season.  May you and your family and friends enjoy the season and each other.  If you are ever in the neighborhood please come visit.  We love you all.