« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »

9 posts from October 2008

October 30, 2008

One Terrific Tiger

I don't know anyone else, but when I was a kid, the thought of eating lunch with my principal would have made me incredibly nervous.  However, when you are Kelsey and pretty unflappable, well, it isIMG_0430 just a normal day at school.

Which is lucky for her, since tomorrow she has been invited to a special meal with said school leader (hot dogs for most, ketchup & a bun for Kelsey).  We only found out about it this afternoon, after receiving this email from her teacher:

Kelsey has been chosen to be a terrific tiger for our class.  I chose her because she is a kind and respectful student who tries her best.  Congratulations!!

Go, Kelsey!  We are so proud of you, LBJ! 

*Note* We just learned this morning that this is the very first session, so we are so very excited to have her chosen for the very first luncheon! Above is a picture from this morning in the front hall with a tad of our Halloween accoutrement.

October 28, 2008

Haven't had your fill of Nick photos lately?

IMG_0392 A few pictures from the past few week as Nick tried his hand at mashed bananas

IMG_0404 Enjoyed a gorgeous fall day on Saturday...IMG_0407 

and practiced his driving this afternoon.

October 21, 2008


My bright and alert reader, Shannon, was trying to take my advice the other day and watch the Colin Powell video.  However, someone at NBC decided to play a joke and mess with the URLs (that is my excuse and I am standing by it 10%).

Instead of a Colin Powell video, she got a Chuck Todd video.  Now, one might say, Chuck Todd, THE political news director at NBC and MSNBC?  Yes, the one and the same.  However, when we hear Chuck Todd, we still think of the good ole days at GWU (we did have some fun, right?).   So to us, he is Chuck who ran the "None of the Above" campaign, Chuck from band, well, just Chuck.

Chuck obviously continued with his interest in politics and we are quite impressed with what he has done.  Sadly, we haven't seen him in person in years, but throw out our heartiest congratulations to him, and perhaps we will meet up again sometime. 

To view the actual Powell video, click here.

Happy 8th Birthday, Nickerdoodle!

In months, of course.  As of today, our little guy is 8 months old.  Seems like just yesterday he was forced out of his hiding place almost two weeks overdue.  And now, sigh, we have the happiest, sweetest Little Buddy, Jr. (the second) on the planet...but I say that every month, don't I?IMG_1602

And the nick-name?  Oh, yes, we will win the "nick"-name game.  He has thousands upon thousands and it gets worse every day.  Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if he stopped responding to Nicholas, since his proper name is only used about 1/16 of the time. 

Now, I know, I know...who the heck cares about nicknames, where's the boy?  Er, see photo op to the right.  We will also have a video of him crawling soon.  Pete felt the first video could get us in trouble somehow.  Apparently,  bribing your brother a sunglasses case (it is bright green) and a camera case (we had nothing else handy!) to crawl across the room is not in vogue right now.  So, more on that topic tomorrow, we hope.

October 19, 2008

I don't normally do this, but

check out this video.  This blog is not generally about politics, but his statement today was so moving and accurate.  I was especially touched by the reference to the soldier.  Please take the time to listen for yourself. 

I have read so many nasty comments recently on web-sites and blogs from people who were apparently raised to hate another person for no other reason than their skin color or their religion.  This is such a refreshing review on the past few weeks and hopefully will wake up those who are still believing in such inequality.  No matter who you end up voting for, Colin Powell made an awesome statement and it is very much worth taking the time to focus on his points. 

October 16, 2008

Coloring up to Purple

We have all had quite a few adjustments with this move.  I cannot get past the fact that when we go out to eat, or go anywhere, everything is in English.  You would think by now I would be over it, but I still find myself bemused by the fact that I can just order, pay a bill, sign the kids up for an activity and not have to worry I am probably doing it wrong.  Oh, I screwed up anyway, but that was getting to the activities, a completely separate issue.

I have talked with other folks in the know and they agree that overseas to domestic transfer can often be much harder than the opposite.  You may end up in the middle of a town where you know absolutely no one (wait, we knew two people...thank heavens for E & K in Walnut Creek!) and buying or renting a home is a cr*pshoot.  Sorry, but can't think of a better way to say it.

Now we could have easily had an interesting time just moving from the East Coast, as some of my friends have.  Instead, we get to explain, explain, and re-explain the differences between the schools here and in Iceland, the changes in curriculum, everything.  It has not been terribly taxing, but despite the preparation, the review of CA educational standards, and research upon research, we ended up quite surprised at the differences between the educational systems.

I was thrown a bit when the other first graders seemed to be writing intensively on the first day of school.  I was not worried because this was the first year that Kelsey would be learning in only one language.  However, there was some concern as the standards are very high here and quite strict.

Naturally, I freaked. I fretted up and down, worried things beyond what is normal and wondered if she was in the right place.  I was not as concerned with Caitlin, despite the fact they started an Algebra review (yes, review) two weeks ago.  No, she has never had it in that sort of in-depth detail, but, thankfully, she has picked it up quickly.

Nope, I just worried about Kelsey and didn't know what to do.  Would she end up way behind?  Was she really that far behind to begin with?  Or did she, as we should have suspected, simply need more of an adjustment period.

Ding, ding, ding.  She is flying, yes, FLYING now.  Her reading has excelled tremendously, her writing IMG_0385 has taken off (she needs no prompting), she is getting those math facts down pat, and today she colored up to purple.

Yes, I know, what on earth does that mean?  It means she had a fabulous day and in her teacher's eyes really worked above and beyond today.  Something clicked last week, and today was the culmination of her efforts.  She was one of the star pupils and yes, she is very proud of her efforts.  So, for her efforts, her name went on the highest level (purple) of their classroom achievement chart.

I had noticed her efforts over the past two weeks and this confirmed my thoughts that she has really hit her stride. Her teacher walked out of the classroom and stopped me right after Kelsey told me the news.  She stopped to ask me if Kelsey had mentioned anything.  I said she had and then we discussed just how much she had changed over the past week.

The end result?  Kelsey is proud of her work, we are very excited about her efforts, and both of these help us feel a little more settled here.  Now, if we could just have the time to get rid of those darn boxes in the living room!

The balloons you ask?  We went out to dinner tonight as we had several errands to run (to include the purchase of a more water-efficient washing machine...more on that later) and would not have time to cook at home.  After dinner, a balloonist stopped by...we had little cash on us (still very Icelandic in that respect), but she insisted on creating this for Kelsey and a blue one for Cait.  Just a few pieces of latex, a few puffs of air, a couple of twists and turns, a snip here and there and the result?  A prety creative balloon and a very happy girl. 

October 15, 2008

Reading the subject line....

can be crucial.  I realize it may not be humorous to everyone, but I found this pretty darn funny. 

I sent an email to Peter about the cat today.  Yes, Bailey, the evil wonder-cat, strikes (vomits) again.  He is notorious for letting it rip on the place that would be most difficult to clean up.  Now for many reasons, all of them safety and health-related, despite his fervent wishes, he is now and always will be (to his chagrin): an indoor cat (oh, the horror)...ironically, he just used the side of the laptop screen as a scratching post for his neck.

So,today I noticed him acting funny...more specifically, he squealed like a girl ...so, I did what any brilliant person would do and got him away from any place remotely like a carpet.   Turns out he indeed had  a little gastric distress and I was quite proud of myself (despite the fact I had to throw him outside for a moment...and, yes, he came right back in), so I sent Pete the following reminder:

Subject Line:  If you ever hear the cat...

squeal like a girl or stuck pig, it is a sign he is about to yak and get him outside ASAP...I got to him just as he started the muscle contractions, threw him outside and whew, no vomit on the carpet....

but, Peter, being the important Supervisory Special Agent with many Super Secret Security Issues to Worry About, only read the actual message.  He then logically assumed the first 'him', I would write about would be Nicky. 

When you read it that way, it is pretty amusing (assuming he wasn't hurt).  Perhaps I should have tried that method when he had a stomach virus yesterday?  Though the second time he threw up (mmm, peas and rice!), I recognized the pre-hurl state and got him over the bathroom sink just in time.

And now, yet another cute picture of the crawling (yes, CRAWLING) almost 8 month-old who has girls and grown women drooling over him (and vice-versa) everywhere he goes....and, yes, he really is that blond...our best souvenir from Iceland!

October 12, 2008

We have moved to

IMG_0338Pumpkin Patch heaven.  There are oodles and oodles of patches, farms, mazes, fall festivals, and IMG_0322  carnivals in Northern California alone.  There is no dearth of things to do anytime of year here, but we are especially excited about the fall activities.

While we could purchase pumpkins at Hagkaup, and the school celebrated Halloween every year, we still missed the fun of the annual visit to a pumpkin patch.  Climbing on hay bales, running through aisle after aisle of pumpkins, and finding just the right one to carve for Halloween night.  We have not been to every one in the East Bay, but have managed to hit two so far, to include an awesome corn maze and a small, but serviceable patch attached to our local farmers market.

 IMG_0374 The corn maze is courtesy of G and M Farms in Livermore, CA.  It a massive maze with a newly IMG_0373 designed pattern each autumn, so popular it has twice been featured on Letterman.  We spent a happy Sunday afternoon romping through the maze.  There was only one minor hitch when Caitlin opted to find her own way.  Pete caught up with a sobbing Cait five minutes later and she decided that perhaps strength could be found in numbers.

What would be better after finding one's way through the maze?  Nothing other than sampling the fresh corn (though taking from the stalk was grounds for dismissal from the farm).   We started to leave, IMG_0372thinking perhaps it was too early to pick out that perfect pumpkin.  After a bit of discussion, we decided to see the rest of the farm.

We finished out the afternoon with a trip to the corn box, and a ride on the "Moo Train" for Caitlin and Kelsey.  Nick had fun watching children take pony rides (which Pete timed and decided were way too short for $4/pop)  and we finished up with Kelsey picking out the family pumpkin while Cait pulled her in a wagon.

Simple and fun...and the girls next project?  Planting those pumpkin's seeds in the spring so next year we can carve our very own pumpkin grown and nurtured with by the kids loving hands in our backyard.

October 06, 2008


Check out the earlobes.  Yes, Caitlin finally decided it was time and after hemming and hawing all afternoon long, went under the gun, so to speak.

Despite my better judgment, we went to Claire's in the mall, which is an amalgam of shiny pink plastic and lots of non-organic 'stuff' most definitely not made in a Fair-Trade factory with pristine organic IMG_1567 products.  However, there is something about the place that just sucks the kids in (well, when said parent actually takes them to the mall) and is the favored place to do the duty.  I personally wanted to take her to a professional piercer, but this ooged her out too much, you know, the safety of sterilization and all that stuff kids could care less about.

We went, she finally sat down and the girls clipped them in.  She was definitely as stunned as she looks, but thankfully decided she didn't regret the move.  I honestly didn't care one way or the other.  She never succumbed to peer pressure on this one as nothing involving pain interests he, she just finally wanted them and earned the money through completion of a special project.  It helped a bit that her friend came with us, otherwise I have a feeling we would go to and from the piercing places on a regular basis...I could see her going back and forth for years!

Well, there you have it...a brief update for now.  Sorry there isn't more, but it is in the works.  We have been completely overwhelmed with school issues and are still working to just get settled.  I think we may end up with a permanent display of half-opened boxes in the living room.  Very chic, non?  Plus, makes it easy when we have to pack up again in two years!