Sunday, November 20, 2011

Championship Goal

I was out of town for work on Saturday.

Casey's soccer team, which had lost a couple games over the season, somehow still managed to end the regular season in second place and was paired against the undefeated- and much bigger- first place team. I caught the last match between the two, and the other team was bigger, but I thought our team was faster. When we played, it was in the middle of the afternoon and it was hot. We held them off for most of the game, but they managed a single goal in the third quarter-- it went right over our goalie's head. Speed can beat size, but it's hard to do in the heat. Still, the boys played a great game.

At the championship play-off, the weather was much different. First, the game was at 8:30 in the morning. Second, it was rainy out. Not pouring, but it drizzled off and on. Also, our boys had not practiced in two or three weeks because of the time change-- just could not find time on a lit field.

At the end of the game, the score was tied. 0-0. So it went into sudden death overtime. Not long into the start of overtime, Casey's teammate made a break-away run toward the goal. He had three defenders on him. But Casey did exactly what he was supposed to do. He ran down the field, stayed in position, and was where he was supposed to be when his teammate, now swarmed by players from the other team, passed him the ball. Without hesitation, Casey captured it, kicked it toward the goal and scored the winning goal.

All the boys high fived hime and cheered. All the parents stood and screamed. After the game, everyone patted him on the head. He later told me he felt so happy and so proud. He got phone calls from grandparents congratulating him, and he got to hear the story re-told over and over again. It was probably one of the very best days of his life to date.

Of course, I wasn't there for any of it (figures, doesn't it), so all I got was a text message explaining briefly that he'd scored the winning goal, and this picture:

Oh, and I got the most amazing welcome home hug when I saw him Saturday evening.

It just goes to show you that it does not matter if you are the tallest or the smartest or even the best at something when you are on a team and you work together. That's what makes for championships. But, boy, it sure is nice to be the guy kicking the ball into the goal.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy Halloween!

With Halloween falling the Monday after Tate's birthday, things have been a bit on the crazy side this year. Last year, when I was home full time on maternity leave, I was able to get the kids all costumed up for their school's "Boogie Bash," get plenty of photos and head off for a fun time. Then, on the day Halloween came, we gathered at a neighbors for pizza before trick-or-treating. Again, plenty of time to get ready.

But things have been a bit more hectic this year.

First, on the afternoon of Boogie Bash, a small client emergency arose at work, which necessitated me working late into the day. Late enough that the family had just planned to go to Boogie Bash without me. Luckily, I was able to make it. But Marcie did not want to wear her pea-hen feathers (smartly), and Casey was worried his tail and feet would get ruined. So we sort of half-way dressed for Boogie Bash. Except Tate-- he was all in as Elmo.

Then, Saturday afternoon, we headed off to another costume party. Again, the kids were meh about the costumes. And we accidentally left Marcie's feathers at home. But Jason and I went all out. We each had two costumes-- our real costumes, and then we also dressed up like one of the couples at the party (Tate joined in the fun, too!).

I had planned to leave work early for Halloween, but again, it just was not going to happen. I hate feeling rushed at work when I have something else at home- so I figured I would just catch up with the family trick or treating. But then I got locked out of the house. And I did catch up. Just in my not-as-comfortable work clothes and shoes. And the kids were wildly uncooperative with photos. So, this was the best I could get:

Agent P (Perry the Platypus) from Phineas and Ferb.
A peahen is a female peacock (we learned that at the zoo in October). Marcie refused to wear her beautiful mask, which had more feathers to compliment the outfit. But that's okay. It was a homemade original, and she thought of it and put it together (except for the feathers, which Jason did) all herself.

Tate was super pleased to be dressed as Elmo. He insisted we keep the head up the whole time. he loved Halloween-- he wanted to stop and touch all the "scary" decorations and everything. A total trooper.

On the way down the street. Tate refused to stand still for any photos with a flash-- the light made him go wiggly. I think this is par for the course with three kids. . .

By the way, we let each child pick a piece of candy to eat on Halloween night, then 5 pieces of candy, one for each of the next five days. The rest gets donated to my office. Some people think we're mean. But how much candy does a kid need? When they were younger, I offered to trade books for candy-- to no avail. Then one year, I offered to buy the candy off of them. No dice. Finally, when I just said they could only keep five pieces, no one gave me a hard time-- so that's been our tradition ever since. They can pick any five pieces they want (except for Casey, for whom we recently cut out certain color dyes and so he was a little more limited). And they love the choosing. Plus putting out tons of leftover candy at work has been a good way to introduce myself to people at the new job. It's really a win-win.

What do you do for Halloween candy?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday, Tate!

Happy Birthday, Tate.
I've taken a break from my too-long hiatus to make sure I post to the blog for you. (Between the new job and the start of school, there was too much and too little to write about. But you are a great reason to write again!)
The cake is not my very best work- but fortunately you are only two and so you don't know any better. You will see the cake and scream and point, "ELMO!" because he is your favorite. You will also tell everyone today that you are two- and you will even hold up two fingers to prove it. Of course, the two fingers will be the pointers from each hand, and your "two" sounds like "ew." But that's okay because you are trying your best and we love you to pieces. And you love us, too.

I hope your second year of life brings you lots of opportunities for you to use your imagination and engage in creative play . . .

That you will continue to be adventurous and try new foods. (We were so surprised the other night when you ate piece after piece after piece of calamari- it was like candy to you!)
I hope that you will get to see lots of interesting places this year . . .
And - above all - I hope you make it to three (without any broken bones, and without any more stitches or staples). If nothing else, you are setting up our house and furniture perfectly to justify a re-do of it all . . . Let's let up on the coloring on the walls and the pulling over of furniture and the playing "king of the mountain" with every set of drawers or objects you think you can scale, okay?
In keeping with our family tradition, we're eating your favorites tonight-- rice, canned grean beans and Dinobite chicken nuggets. Yep, we're all about delicious, nutritiousness around here.
Happy birthday little man!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good-bye Summer

Somewhere, somehow, amidst the various baseball, soccer and art camps, evenings at the park, outdoor dinners, and bike-riding, the summer got away from me. It was a luxurious summer for us. That did not mean we ignored academics. Or that we allowed the kids to spend their days drowning their brains in front of the television or playing video games.

Indeed, our big kids welcomed "Red" (Casey's pet bearded dragon), traveled to Florida, spend a couple days with their cousins, watched outdoor movies, swam, became proficient bike-riders, gained soccer self-confidence, and spent a good deal of their time alternating between fending off Tate and entertaining him.

But, alas, all things come to an end. And summer is no different. Tomorrow the kids go back to school. Their bags are packed. Their school lunches are contemplated. They are anxious to meet their new teachers and new classmates, and excited to see old friends.

And now, the promise of a bright, activity-filled, rigorous, engaging school year lies ahead.

Casey reminded me that I have to take pictures tomorrow morning- because I always take pictures on the first day of school. What a smarty.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

12 Years

Today is our 12th Anniversary.

I wish I had something really thought-provoking or sentimental or romantic to write about it. I don’t.

Someone I know recently lost her husband to a brief battle with an illness, which he was unable to overcome. I don’t know how long they were married, but I know it was more than 12 years. When I attended the memorial on Saturday, it was a reminder of the strength one person can draw from another—even in death.

I know I draw the same kind of strength from Jason. Goodness knows we don’t always agree on things, but our marriage- our relationship- is strong enough that it allows us to be individuals with independent feelings without it demeaning our sense of togetherness. In fact, I think it probably strengthens our union.

This morning we woke up at a hotel on the ocean. The sun was shining. We could hear waves and smell the ocean’s salty air. We lingered as we walked the coast back to the hotel after a brief morning walk. It was reminiscent of twelve years and one day ago- the day after our wedding.

Instead of our extended family greeting us for a celebratory brunch this time, though, we were welcomed home by squealing children—who had a fantastic night with a sitter, but were so happy to see us.

I know how very lucky I am.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Character and Family Photos

My absence has been the result of playing more this month than usual. With the kids and Jason, of course.

We met up with Casey’s birthfamily in July in Orlando, Florida, where we went to Universal and Disney—and even spent an evening go-kart racing and feeding alligators pieces of hot dogs (the highlight of the week for the kids). It was hot and humid and way more sticky than we are accustomed to—but that didn’t stop us from having fun.

Here are a couple of my favorite photos of us getting pictures with Universal or Disney characters—which Tate was totally interested in, but only from a distance.

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I also managed to snap a few fantastic photos of the kids--

(First photo is Casey with his birth-siblings. Second photo is Casey with all his brothers and sisters. Third photo are the three S. Family “things.”)

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And a special thanks to Grandma Linda for the shirts—we were quite a sight to behold traipsing around Downtown Disney and all over airports.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer: Week 2

Whew! Another week down.
Here is how Jason kept the kids busy this week:

(Every morning Casey played wii. Every day the kids did one hour of school work-- workbooks, reading, Compass Learning.)

Soccer camp (Marcie)
A trip to urgent care for Tate after Casey knocked him in the eye with a wii-mote. (No stitches required, thankfully.)
An afternoon at Grandma S.'s (no need to take them all to urgent care, right?)

You can see the small mark on his right eye, above. It was fully healed by week's end.

Soccer camp (Marcie)
Playdates for Casey and Marcie with kids from the neighborhood
Tutoring (Casey and Marcie)
Mr. Popper's Penguins (Casey and Marcie)
Special "Mommy time" for Tate (during which we danced, played with cars, practiced sommersaults, enjoyed tickling each other and ate ice cream)

Soccer camp (Marcie)
Library visit (Tate, Casey and Casey's friend)
San Diego Fair

At the peeting zoo at the fair.

Soccer camp (Marcie)
Costco shopping
Afternoon at community pool

Soccer camp (Marcie)
Cleaning out the garage (and finding all sorts of toy treasures for Tate!)
Barbecue and pool party at Casey's friends' house
Sleepovers (Casey away)

Tate insisted on sitting IN the bins and throwing all the toys he found out.

Another busy, busy week. . .

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Here's how we spent our day:

  • We brought home an everything bagel after church.

  • We opened presents (flip flops and Season 3 of Dexter).

  • We visited the aquarium (dads were free!)

  • We ate lunch at Wahoo's Fish Tacos.

  • We spent a couple hours at the Super Show (of reptiles).

  • Jason and Casey napped while I took Marcie and Tate grocery shopping with me.

  • We ate ribeye steak and fruit for dinner, followed by Neopolitan ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

I hope your day was everything the special dads in your life hoped it would be!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer - Week 1

How do you keep the kids busy all day, every day?
Well, here's how Jason did it during Week 1 of summer:

Every day: video games before breakfast and one hour of school work (some days this was workbooks, some days flashcards, and some days Compass Learning).

Monday:  Library, Subway and bike riding at the park.
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Tuesday: Swimming, tutoring, and a playdate for Marcie.

Birthday dinner celebration at Red Robin (yum!) for our nephew/cousin.

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Wednesday:  Playdate for Casey, trip to Costco with a pizza snack.

Thursday:   Viewing of Back to the Future.
Bike riding at the park and a special dinner treat (McDonald's and frozen yogurt)

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Friday:  Legoland Sea Life (thanks to our friends for sharing their free passes with us!)

Ice cream sundaes for dessert and a sleepover for Casey.

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By the time I get home, the kids are wiped out. Not sure how Jason does it.

Monday, June 13, 2011


This is our first summer "home."

Well, not exactly-- I mean up until I left teaching in the classroom, I had every summer of my life technically "home." But not so for our kids. For the past few summers, they have either been in year-round preschool or Extended School Services (ESS), which is basically daycare for school-aged kids. The ESS program is really well-organized and sounds like a lot of fun to me-- swimming, a movie, and a field trip every week. But our kids wanted absolutely nothing to do with anything called "camp" this summer. (I did talk Marcie into one week of soccer camp and Casey into one week of baseball camp.) So home it is.

Jason "negotiated" one hour of schoolwork each day (he started the "talks" at four hours per day). They came home from the school year with incomplete workbooks, so that's where they are starting. Then they will move onto the workbooks recommended by our school (to keep them up to speed, not to get ahead). I told Casey I would pay him to memorize his addition, multiplication, and subtraction tables through 12. I told him I'd pay him $1 per number to learn them. (It will be $36 well spent.) And the kids will work with a tutor once a week this summer.

Today is day one of summer:

Today I went to work.

Today the kids: cleaned their rooms, completed one hour of schoolwork, went to the public library for story time (and to check out books),and went to the park to play with friends. Tate took a little tumble and banged up his nose. (The coloring is not great, but you get the idea.)

After Tate's nap, they went to our neighborhood park with their bikes. Marcie is now training-wheel-free!

By the time I got home from work, the kids were completely wiped out.

I hope Jason keeps his sanity this summer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

William Heise

We try to get out to go camping at least once a summer.  Two summers ago we tried RV camping at the beach (we discovered it was akin to extreme tail-gating).  Last year we went camping at a private camp ground, where there was lots to do, but not a lot of individual space or privacy.  So this year we headed up to the “mountains” of nearby Julian.


We went with the usual gang, and last year we remarked at how difficult it seemed for the other two families with little ones.  This year Tate definitely kept us (and everyone else!) on our toes.  It was very cold at night.  That didn’t stop us from having a campfire and enjoying hot chocolate, hot cider and s’mores.



It was super cold in the tent, and Tate was not going down in his pack n play, so he joined us.  In addition to Tate waking me up twice, Casey and Marcie each needed a trip to the bathroom.  And I was coooooold.


This is what Casey and Marcie looked like sleeping.  Did I mention it was cold?

It warmed right up for us on Saturday, though, and we headed off to the Smith Family Ranch for a tour of their gold mine via train, along with panning for gold and some ropes work (you can see the rope bridge behind the horses).  It was a beautiful day.

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The kids spent the day exploring the woods, playing various games with their stuffed animals, and playing freeze tag.  The Sky Hunters came in the evening along with a falcon and a couple owls and did a presentation at the campground.  And we were close enough to town to get ourselves another sleeping bag to keep us warm the second night.  Casey and Marcie still woke me up to go to the bathroom, but at least I was warm in between trips to the bathroom!

We have a couple more photos on the iphone, but this gives you the basics.  It was fun.  We had plenty of space.  There was stuff to do.  And I think (hope!) it gets easier as Tate gets older.  All in all, another fun summer camping trip!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Good-bye May

May went fast. Too fast.

Casey’s First Communion.

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Our last day with Pugasus LaRue. The kids knew it was coming and made peace with it. Here’s our last photo with him. . .


Grown-up weekend get-away to Palm Springs to help a couple of friends celebrate their pending nuptials.


Celebrating my mom’s birthday—on the left with my dad and their San Diego grandkids. On the right with two of my siblings. (The San Francisco clan couldn’t join us.)

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And Memorial Day Weekend—we spent a day at Mission Bay, where I apparently took no photos. And then we went on a walk near Lake Hodges across the relatively new ribbon bridge. Later, the kids cooled off at home.



Despite these few glimpses of sun, it was a gray May—I hope we dodge the June gloom around here!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mother's Day

Casey woke us up around 6:20 to ask if he could play video games. I still don't understand why he can wake up at 6:20 on a Sunday but never on a school day.

Marcie woke us up less than 30 minutes later because she wanted to watch TV in our bedroom. She cried when I said no. I felt bad and finally told Casey he needed to turn off the wii and find something to watch with Marcie.

Tate woke up a little after 7:00am. I think. Jason got up with him.

We had egg muffin sandwiches and orange juice and donuts for breakfast. Jason cooked.
We called the grandmas using iphone facetime so we could see them as we chatted. Tate kept reaching for the "end" button while we talked. He managed to hang up on Jason's mom at least once.

We ended up at Boomer's for the afternoon because the kids whined that they did not want to go to the Flower Fields, which was my suggestion. We played miniature golf. Casey kept hitting his ball in the water. Tate did not want to stand still. We tried playing Dance, Dance Revolution- but the "extreme" version was a little too extreme for me and Marcie. Casey was determined to win 8,500 tickets and kept wondering off looking for ways to win them. I got distracted following him visually and the air hockey puck smashed one of my fingers. When Casey didn't get 8,500 tickets, he pouted and cried a bit- even though I told him he had enough money saved to buy the electro-plasma lava lamp valued at 8,500 tickets, which he was coveting.

At Spaghetti Factory, Tate threw a huge screeching fit because he wanted my soda. We didn't give in. Lucky for us, it's a loud place to eat, so no one noticed. Marcie lost the peace ring she won with her 50 tickets at Boomer's and she cried when she realized it.

Tate never napped, so he was super cranky. Marcie pouted when I only read her one book. Casey was banished from the TV this evening. (Lucky for him his sister loves him so much- she played board games patiently with him for around 3 hours in the kitchen.)

I did four loads of laundry.

Just another day in mommy paradise.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Some pictures

My Army of Three:

I can hardly believe I caught this action shot of Casey jumping off the ledge into the pool!

Aren't her new glasses just perfect for her? She looks 10 instead of 5 now!

He is never this still!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dear Easter Bunny . . .

On the night before Easter, we set up for the Easter Bunny’s visit. The kids picked the grass for their baskets. We prepared a carrot for the rabbit. We talked about what time we could get up to see what the Easter Bunny brought (6:30a.m. if you’re wondering). Marcie asked if they could “label” their baskets with note cards (as if the pink and blue grass wouldn’t give it away), and I said, “Sure. Why not?”

You know where this is going. I found out why not.

I don’t know what your Easter Bunny brings, but ours brings things like pajamas or t-shirts, summer-style shoes, a movie, or a video game, a book, music—and only one package of candy.

But before I knew what was happening, the kids wrote the Easter Bunny notes explaining exactly what they hoped to find in their baskets the next morning:

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And what do you know? The Easter Bunny delivered.

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All I’m saying is that I sure am glad that Wal-Mart is open until midnight.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April Began with a Blast

April wasn’t so bad.

We managed to have ourselves a little bit of fun here and there.  We

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We did some ropes coursework.  In the first photos above, we climbed about 5 flights of stairs, 45 feet or so up in the air, and dropped straight down, attached to a pulley rope.  It was surprisingly difficult to make myself step off the ledge, even though I knew I was safe. I suppose I will never go bungie jumping.  Casey was incredible.  He did not want to go at first, and we did not push it.  But once he went, he went again and again- 4 or 5 times.  Marcie gets points for even trying—and even more points for knowing her limits and, once she looked over the edge, deciding not to jump at all.

After the free-fall, we headed to the zip line and ropes course.  Case flew down the zip line the first time so fast, my camera didn’t even catch him.  He loved it.

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We went to a Discovery Kids play town, which was a great way to spend what was supposed to be a rainy day.  They had different rooms for everything—a water table and plasma car area for the little kids, a life-sized fire truck, a drive through ATM window for the bank, an arts and crafts area, a building blocks/architecture area, an underwater room, a cafe, a grocery store, a farm, and I could go on and on.  It helped that my sister and brother-in-law were along with us because the kids were all over the place.

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And to round out the photos, we also went to an indoor water park and played laser tag (boys versus girls). 

It was a lot of fun to hang out with my sister and her husband and to see my parents.  And we found plenty to keep us busy.  (In addition to these activities, the kids went to a movie, played at a beautiful park with a lake, and went to a bird conservatory.)  It was a fantastic start to our April.