The Holidays

January 5th, 2014

The last two months have flown by. In addition to school work and reading 5 hours each month on his own, Coleman has been busy learning how to play the violin, learning how to play chess, and practicing karate with Matt Pynch. He also got to spend lots of time with family over the holidays, including Uncle Paul who flew to Las Vegas twice (bless his soul) to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with us.

In chronological order since my last post . . .

I turned 37, and Coleman attended my birthday lunch along with Jenica, Gigi, Wendy and Mari. He was extremely well behaved, and his behavior was recognized by a complete stranger. A man stopped me on my way out of Spago to tell me how refreshing it was to see a kid read a real book while out to eat rather than play on a device. That comment alone made my day. I always love receiving compliments on my parenting!

Three generations.


Josh and Roma met us on the way out of the restaurant. Coleman showed Roma his book.


The next day we attended Mehrzad’s birthday party at the Mini Gran Prix. Coleman doesn’t usually like attending birthday parties for Gabby’s friends, but in this case it was okay because the birthday boy has an older sister who is Coleman’s age.

We had Thanksgiving at our house again this year.

Several chess games were played.


Coleman still loves his uncle even though he never lets him win at chess.


Coleman wore a festive turkey hat he made at school.


We finished the day off by making ourselves sick with Gigi’s fudge pie. Gabby’s gesture is suggesting “Hmmmm, is this a good idea after all the food we just ate?” Wise beyond her years.

We started the next day off with a hike at Lake Mead.

Actually, it wasn’t really a hike. More like a slow walk.


That afternoon, Gabby and Coleman tested for their gold belts with Matt Pynch. They practice a Korean form of karate called Song Moo Kwan.
Here is a video of both kids doing karate.
Here is a video of Coleman doing his kata.

He receives his gold belt from Mister Pynch.
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One happy boy.


Our friend and neighbor Jaime Martin gave us a personalized gingerbread house for Christmas. Coleman wanted to eat it, but we wouldn’t let him. Who eats a primo decoration?
We brought home two Christmas trees this year - one big one and a small one for the kids. Here is the video of their reaction to the small tree.
Coleman and I ran in the 5K Santa Run downtown. We finished in 33 minutes, which is pretty darn good for his first 5K! I wonder if he will be as goal oriented as I am.

Coleman and Gabby before their solo violin performances at Nevada School of the Arts.


Coleman performed four variations of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at his violin recital in December. Watch the video of the first version.


We went to the Binion Christmas party again this year and Coleman got his annual caricature. The kids received tons of presents. When they opened all of their loot the next morning, it felt like Christmas had come early.

On Christmas Eve, I let Coleman open up one present before we went out to dinner. We gave him a Kindle Fire. My hope is that he uses it more for reading than for playing Angry Birds. I’m not sure if that’s realistic.

After dinner at Vintner Grill, we went to Wendy and Richard’s house to open more presents. Note that Coleman loves giving bunny ears. I guess that’s a trend that will never die.

Just one of many presents from Grandma Wendy.

Mr. Silly or possibly Mr. I Ate Too Much Dessert.

A rare photo with both Uncle Roy and Aunt Mari.

When I look at this picture, I think that Coleman and Gigi do look a lot alike when it comes to face shape and maybe nose.

Santa brought the kids bikes this Christmas. Coleman’s bike is a tad big for him, but he’s still excited about it. He’s been riding it around the house to learn how to balance.


He also got a hatching dinosaur egg. I’m not sure why he loves these things so much, but he does. We put them in water for days on end and watch them hatch. Fun.

Another favorite present was the keyboard that Pop and Madi bought them. Besides the fact that they love banging on it, I think it’s going to be a great tool to reinforce what they know on violin.

Matt Pynch bought Coleman a new gi.


Coleman and Gigi.

Coleman and Uncle Paul. Coleman had just opened another gift from Pop and Madi - a super cool helicopter that flew around (it stopped working after a few hours, but we can still play with it).

Aunt Mari gave Coleman and Gabby a cardboard castle and a cardboard house. We started painting the castle first.



As I was working on this blog, Coleman was on his bike in the house. Matt Pynch suggested Coleman put his feet on the pedals, and he basically rode for the first time without training wheels. YES! Mission accomplished.
We visited the Container Park over Christmas Break, and the kids loved the playground area.


We headed to L.A. for a few days during the break, and Coleman and I rode bikes on the boardwalk in Santa Monica. He was still using his old bike with training wheels. We rode at least 6 miles. Then Coleman played in the sand while I watched a pack of dolphins in the water. It was a pretty great morning.

We had lunch with Tim and then checked out his garden behind his house.


One thing we always do while in L.A. is hang out at playgrounds. Coleman and Gabby took a break in the shade.


Overall, it was a great year. We went on epic trips and had lots of fun together as a family. I am looking forward to the years ahead while I still have them under my roof. Life is good.

Sweet Nevada!

November 3rd, 2013

Coleman just made his fourth trip to Disneyland over Nevada Day weekend. He was tall enough to ride all of the rides. He rode the super fast roller coaster California Screamin’ for the first time as well as Indiana Jones and Space Mountain. On our first thrill ride of the trip on the Tower of Terror, Coleman thought it’d be appropriate to scream “Sweet Nevada!” during the free fall. He told me that he just made it up, but I really think he said it in honor of Nevada Day. He did it on all of the thrill rides, and I cracked up each and every time.


Coleman loved Autopia since he got to drive his own car. He wasn’t able to reach the gas pedal, so I got to control that.

If only it could be this good when he really learns how to drive.


Coleman begged me to buy him this hat. I put him off for a few days and asked him to think about it because it was so impractical. He ended up getting a Mickey Mouse watch instead, and I think we are both happier with that decision.


I liked this hat better, but he wasn’t that into it. He could have at least worn this skiing. I don’t know what you do with a blue cone hat once you leave Disneyland.

Coleman’s friends from school, Anna and Ali, were vising Disney too, along with their brother Markie. Coleman was in heaven having friends to play with, especially since he doesn’t get lots of friend time outside of school. They snagged a bunch of buttons while we were at brunch that said things like “Happily Ever After,” “First Time” and “Happy Birthday.” If you walk around Disney with a Happy Birthday pin on, you can be assured many many people will wish you happy birthday.

It’s a Coleman sandwich!

We all dressed up for Mickey’s Halloween Bash. Coleman was a ninja, and his Daddy was DJ Lance from Yo Gabba Gabba. Which one do you think got more attention?

Coleman’s loved the trick or treating hand bag he found at Target.

This picture was taken near Splash Mountain, right before we called it quits for the afternoon. It was a typical Saturday at Disneyland - CROWDED.

Even though they had cotton candy after lunch, we were still able to get them to take a nap by telling them we weren’t going back to the park until they slept. Now that’s motivation!

Radiator Springs lit up at night.

We spent a bit of time in this area because it was near the beer vendors.


Brian and I had the opportunity to help out with Coleman’s Halloween party at school. Here he is with his friend Ryan. After facilitating a small game with six kids at a time, I had much more respect for what Coleman’s teacher has to go though every single day.

Our little ninja.

I was thankful to be able to leave work for a few hours to spend some time at Coleman’s school.


We trick or treated in the Rancho Nevada neighborhood with Helen and Rachel Martin’s home as our base. I think the kids had more fun handing out candy at Helen’s home than actually trick or treating.

Coleman is so lucky to have Rachel as his after school art teacher and occasional art tutor.

Lots of teenagers were trick or treating, and if they weren’t in costume, they had to dance for candy. Coleman made sure they were informed before ringing the bell.


Our work here is done. Time to go home and pass out!

Coleman’s costume arrived by mail several weeks before Halloween. He jumped around and whooped when he opened the package, showing more excitement than I see on Christmas morning.

I wish I would have gotten a video of him practicing karate in his ninja costume.

Coleman usually has a karate lesson at the house on Thursdays. They love karate lessons with Matt Pynch. And I love someone else being in charge of them for a while. They actually listen to Matt!

Check out this video to get a sense of Coleman’s athleticism or maybe just a sense of what he will do to get a cupcake.

He is also a pretty good yogi. This was taken at the Plasters’ favorite studio - Blue Sky at the Arts Factory.

After several months of working with Ms. Jennifer Morette, Coleman’s hard work and persistence is beginning to pay off. This is our practice spot in my bedroom, and Coleman is showing off his beautiful bow hold. He’s also showing off the tie-dyed shirt Madi made for him.

Yesterday was the first day Coleman read a book while I read the newspaper. (This has been a dream of mine ever since he was born.) He read for 30 minutes by himself. The Meadows strongly suggests he read on his own for 5 hours each month. I think by the end of the school year, he’ll want to read more than that just because he’ll get into what he’s reading. The important thing will be finding him books that he won’t want to put down that are at his reading level.

Coleman got the first good citizenship award for the year for his class of 18 students. Two students in each class get the award at a time. Note that girls are usually the first to get the award.

To say that I am proud of this accomplishment is an understatement.

We entered Little Lucy Plaster into a dog contest at the city of Las Vegas 2nd Annual Employee Picnic. Lucy was dressed up as a French Maid. We thought she had a good chance of winning. When she didn’t win, Gabby was beside herself. Coleman was also sad and worried that Lucy’s feelings were hurt. He held it together though, unlike his little sis.

We made a trip to Color Me Mine one weekend while Brian watched football. Coleman loves this place.

We hiked at Calico with the Fortunovs during the federal government shutdown. We didn’t want to risk getting ticketed for being in a national park during the shutdown, so we hiked on a trail away from Red Rock. It was a short hike, which was exactly what the kids prefer.

There was still a bit of moodiness at the end of the hike. I can’t remember what it was about, but I know they got over it quickly. We went to see a Choreographer’s Showcase with Nevada Ballet Theatre and Cirque later that day, and the kids were very well behaved during the hour and a half performance.

Perdido Trip 2013

September 6th, 2013

We headed off to the beach in mid-August to spend time with Pop and Madi. It was a great time to be at the beach since all of the Southern chillins are back in school. We had no agenda while we were there except to spend time on the beach, eat a lot of fresh seafood and just relax. Mission definitely accomplished.

Thank you to Madi for taking almost all of the pictures. She got some good ones!
It takes a whole day to get to the Gulf from Las Vegas. Next year it will be easier because Southwest will fly to Pensacola. We left our house at 8:30 a.m. and arrived at the condo in Perdido around 9:30 p.m. We had to fly to Birmingham, and then drive four hours in the rain. The next day, the kids were up bright and early to go play in the Gulf.

Our major activity each day involved digging holes. I didn’t participate until the third day when I realized, “Hey, this is actually fun!” The guy in charge of umbrellas and chairs had to fill the holes in each night because someone could break a neck if they accidentally stepped while it was dark.

The kids got to spend lots of time on their devices, which came in handy when we were trying to figure out how to do origami. Madi made every last animal while the kids watched.

Bed head has a whole new meaning when you are in Gulf of Mexico humidity.


Contemplating their next move.

Coleman is such a goof ball. I wonder who he got that from? (Note the two gentlemen behind him.)

Pop and Madi bought the kids boogie boards. Coleman chose a rainbow dolphin while Gabby went for the shark. They would have like to bring them back to Vegas, but had no good reason when I asked “Why?”

Day #2 hole. I think this was the day when Brian used the shovel I bought at the grocery store for $4. He broke it after a few minutes. He forgot it was a shovel for sand, not a real shovel.

Coleman and Gabby love their Pop.

Coleman is obviously proud of whatever this is on his right. I can’t remember what it was.

Triumphant! Another good day at the beach.

Madi got great action shots of Coleman jumping waves.

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Our condo has the best views of Perdido. Also note that this tennis camp shirt is Coleman’s favorite shirt of the summer.
Our favorite nighttime activity was hunting for sand crabs. We caught a couple of monsters too! One night I think we caught at least 30 sand crabs of various sizes. There was a lot of squealing and laughing going on as we chased them down.

Madi took this pic from our 17th floor condo.


On our third day at the beach, I decided to help dig the biggest hole yet. We dug two holes with a trench between them. We got a kick out of yelling “Fire in the hole!”


On the last day we thought we’d spend time on the beach, but the water was too rough. Pop got in with the kids while the waves whipped them around. It was the only time I was worried about an undertow, so we convinced them to get out and spent time at the pool instead.

A storm was brewing right before we left for the airport. It was good we left when we did.

Thank you Pop and Madi for making the trip so easy for us. We had a great time!


We had a fried chicken lunch in Montgomery at Martin’s and had to check out the capitol building on the way. This was our second capitol sighing of the summer. The other was in Helena, Montana.

A few weeks before our trip to the South, Jenica had us over for a pool party. We always love going to her house. She is the hostess with the mostess.

Summer Road Trip

July 28th, 2013

We drove 4,343 miles, stayed overnight in seven different locations, camped a total of 15 nights and hiked 65 miles in 22 days. And we survived! It was the most time we had ever spent together as a family, and we are most definitely better for it. While we had many discussions over the course of the trip, two repeating themes for Coleman included having another sibling (in addition to Gabby) and talking about the logistics of eventually owning an RV. Neither is going to happen, but we can keep talking about it if he wants!
We left Las Vegas on June 28 at 8:00 a.m. I had hoped we would make it to Jackson Hole in a day, but we got distracted by a splash pad in Provo along the way. Then we had dinner in a restaurant, and once 7:00 p.m. rolled around, the nauseous look on Coleman’s face convinced me that we had to spend the night in a dumpy motel in Pocatello, Idaho. Coleman and Gabby loved the motel with Coleman proclaiming “These beds have good design!”

The next day we checked into Gros Ventre Campground outside of Grand Teton National Park. Our campsite wasn’t far from this river where Brian caught a cutthroat trout that we actually ate as an appetizer. Talk about fresh fish!

Coleman loved all of the Coleman camping gear. Gabby wasn’t as enthusiastic about his name being everywhere since her name wasn’t monogrammed on any of our gear.

The first hike of the trip was to Taggert Lake, a hike I had done two times in snowshoes. The first lesson of the trip - always be prepared for swimming.


This was the best part of the hike for the kids, and all I could worry about was them getting wet.

Coleman enjoyed the wildflowers when the hike was over. Neither he nor Gabby were thrilled about this first hike. It was a little hot, and it was 4 miles. We hadn’t toughened them up yet.

That night the kids had s’mores for the very first time.


Our second hike of the trip was to Inspiration Point above Lake Jenny in Teton Park.


On Day Three, we went on a guided hike with Cathy Shill from The Hole Hiking Experience. She took us to Munger Mountain outside of the national park. We saw no hikers at all - just cows, flowers, butterflies and beautiful hills. Cathy taught us a lot about our surroundings. It was the kids’ best hike yet, and I think some of that had to do with catching butterflies with Cathy’s net.

We drove through Yellowstone the next day on our way to Missoula, Montana. We were right by Old Faithful and stopped, but didn’t wait around long enough for it to erupt. As you can see from this picture, Coleman wasn’t thrilled about us stopping for a look. He was positively miserable.


We started the Fourth of July off with a hike up to the M on a hill by the University of Montana. Coleman hiked the whole way up by himself and was a champ. Here he is actually on the M.


And on the way down.


Brian really wanted the kids to ride horses while we were in Missoula. I didn’t see what the big deal was, but we fit it into the schedule. Coleman LOVED it, so I was glad Brian was persistent in making it happen.

The first thing they did was groom their horses. Coleman got to ride Cool Dude.

Cool Dude wasn’t so cool when he decided to eat grass in the field. Coleman’s hand got pinched between his reins and the saddle when Cool Dude bent his head down to eat. Luckily, Coleman shook it off because riding him was too much fun.


Pure joy.


Coleman practiced using the reins.

The lesson was led by Maggie who worked at Dunrovin Ranch. She let them canter at the end, which was the best part. The kids were giggling the whole time.

Our first hike in Glacier was to Avalanche Lake. Brian fished while the kids played in the rocky beach.


The next day we hiked four miles on the very remote Trout Lake trail. We saw at least 20 piles of bear poop on the trail and saw zero hikers for the first 2 hours. It was like we were in a horror film where a bear could jump out at any moment. We made lots of noise so the bears would stay away. Coleman even came up with a little ditty - “Bears are stupid, bears are dumb. Bears like to kick their bum.” It’s not grammatically correct, but it was fun to shout out anyway.

Coleman had a great hiking stick to help him keep up.


It was around this time that we decided we weren’t going to be able to make it four miles one way (we’d already done a 2,000 ft climb) to see Trout Lake. And the horse flies and mosquitoes were ridiculous. We had ice cream in Apgar after it was over, negating all of the calories we burned.

We did one of our most memorable hikes the next day to Hidden Lake. The first mile of the hike was mostly through snow. In July!

The kids did a lot of slipping and sliding. Coleman’s walking stick helped immensely. Gabby fell down every few feet.

Look ma, an ice doughnut!

Eventually we made it to some trail that wasn’t covered in snow.


Coleman was so happy to see mountain goats.


Three miles later we made it to the lake. Coleman and Gabby played with some ice in the lake and built cairns. Brian caught two fish within 10 minutes, one of which was an endangered species.

This was at the completion of our longest hike at that point - 6 miles.

The next day we drove to Calgary to visit Matt and Carmen Davis. The big rodeo event was happening called Stampede, and we felt the need to participate in some way so we went to the carnival. It was funny to see the long lines of people waiting to ride average carnival rides (Disneyland it was NOT). I got the feeling that they don’t get much entertainment in Calgary. Brian blew about $40 helping the kids win stuffed animals; Coleman got a minion from Despicable Me.

The First Nations section of the carnival was the most interesting. Many Native Canadians set up their teepees in a kind of open house.


We had to take a picture with these guys.


We drove to Banff National Park in Canada. We all had fun pronouncing Banff like Emeril would pronounce Bam. Banff! Matt Davis took us the Moraine Lake trail on the other side of Lake Louise. It was a really scenic hike.

Coleman walked most of it himself without asking to be carried.


Beautiful mountains. Grandma Wendy, please note that Gabby is wearing Coleman’s Burberry coat; we were glad she could get some use out of it too.

Coleman is on top of the world!


Not long after this picture was taken, Gabby and I started walking back to the car. Meanwhile, Coleman was standing there and the wind blew his hat off his head. Coleman screamed, and Brian commented “That hat is gone for good.” Then Coleman really started crying, and Brian quickly looked around for a stick to help retrieve the hat. The lake was above tree line, so there wasn’t a stick in site. Brian took off his shoes, rolled up his pants and walked out into the icy lake. He got to the hat just in time, but his pants got soaked. When he gave the hat to Coleman, he was still crying and didn’t show the appropriate amount of gratitude for what Brian had just endured. Then Brian said “Well that just ruined my f-ing hike!” (Coleman just repeated this for me verbatim or else I would have left off the f-ing part.) Luckily, Matt had an extra pair of shorts in his pack, which literally saved the day because if Matt hadn’t had those shorts, Brian would have been wearing his bright yellow boxers as shorts back to the car. And it was cold!


Later Coleman was very happy that he didn’t donate his favorite hat to the lake Gods.


We went to Lake Louise and had some food before heading back to the campsite.


The next day we did the Johnston Canyon hike.


Coleman loves doing hikes with waterfalls.


We were happy that he held Gabby’s hand since the hike was a bit dangerous with trails right by sheer drop offs into the rapids below.


After hiking we had lunch in Banff at the Elk and Oarsman Pub & Grill with great views from our rooftop table.


After lunch, Brian went biking with Matt, and Carmen went with me on a boat ride of Lake Minnewanka. Coleman got to drive the boat.


The next day we drove to the Columbia Ice Fields and saw tons of glaciers. This is the glacier by the visitor center.


Coleman would have liked to go in this snowmobile, but we didn’t have time. We drove at least two hours north of our campsite to see these glaciers.


We had lunch at a picnic table near the parking lot. Coleman climbed on this bear, showing him who’s the boss.


Then we actually saw a bear on the way back. We pulled over to take pictures.

We said goodbye to Matt and Carmen in Banff and then went to the hot springs. Brian and I rented the singlet swimsuits so our own swimsuits wouldn’t smell like sulphur. I really wish I had a picture of that because it was pretty funny. Most people were in their own swimsuits.

Then we had dinner at the Maple Leaf. The kids’ burgers were actually better than our ribeye for two. We took this picture on the way back to the car. Coleman didn’t appreciate the humor.


I took this picture on our last night camping at Two Jacks in the main campground. We were initially disappointed that we couldn’t camp in the lakeside campground, which was smaller and had showers. However, we came to really appreciate our campsite. It was spacious, surrounded by trees and removed from our neighbors. It was also close to the bathroom. The next morning, Coleman saw a bear on the way to the bathroom. It scratched at a tree and then went off walking in the woods, right by our tent. I was in the tent at the time packing up. When Coleman returned from the bathroom and told us about the bear, I was annoyed he didn’t tell us at the moment he saw it. We would have liked to have seen it too! Coleman saw four bears on the trip. Brian and I saw three. Gabby told Grandma Wendy she saw “the shadow of the bear” when she was walking with Coleman to the bathroom. She was a little ahead of Coleman and didn’t see the bear either.


After we left Canada, we went back to Glacier National Park, but this time we stayed on the east side in a KOA campground, which is a bit luxurious compared to other campgrounds. There was a pool, hot tub and showers. We did a hike that afternoon of some waterfalls in Sunrift Gorge.


On a dock at St Mary’s Lake.


The kids had to get as close to the water as possible, which always gives Brian a heart attack. There were people cliff jumping into this water several feet down the river. Insane! The water just looks cold.

The next day we did the longest hike of the trip - 10 miles to Iceberg Lake. I carried Gabby the entire way to the lake and Brian carried Coleman on his shoulders when Cole got tired. It took us 4 hours to do the entire hike. We felt like we’d really accomplished something. We were elated when it was over.

It got hot at the end of the hike, and we let the kids take their shirts off. They look like little rednecks!


After receiving some bad advice from a Yellowstone park ranger, we decided to do a hike to Clear Lake and Ribbon Lake. The best part of the hike was the beginning in these meadows of bison.


It was supposed to be a loop trail, but the trail was poorly marked, and we ended up hiking out the way we hiked in through TONS of mosquitoes and horse flies (7 miles total instead of 5). We survived, but with lots of bug bites.


After making the kids do that hellacious hike, we spent some time doing something they like doing - playing on the beach of Yellowstone Lake.


He’s a happy boy now! Who would have known there were beaches in Yellowstone?

Then we had ice cream for probably the 10th time of the trip. Coleman had rocky road, and once he got to the cone part, I said “Coleman, where is your tooth!?” He had swallowed his front tooth. He couldn’t quit crying after that, even after I bought him yet another souvenir (a Yellowstone pillow with a bear on it). The next day, we all got a good laugh out of it (the tooth fairy brought him $5). I told him he could use a fork to find it in his poop if he wanted. He didn’t really like that idea.

Touring the mud volcano.


Our final hike of the trip was up Mount Washburn, which could be the best hike in Yellowstone (I talked to another park ranger after the Clear Lake fiasco for hiking advice). At the top, you can see the entire park in every direction.

On the way up.

Near the top we saw lots of big horn sheep.


We made it!


A view from the top.


Hard to miss Daddy in that bright orange jacket!


We stopped for a break on some rocks on the way down.

Next stop was Norris Geyser. We walked along the nature trail next to bubbling water and mud. Brian bought a book later that day called Death in Yellowstone. I am so thankful he did NOT read that book before we went on this walk. If one of us (Gabby) had accidentally fallen off the boardwalk, we could have died. No joke.


The mud and water is so hot it will burn the skin right off.


Coleman became a junior ranger while we were there and got the badge you can see pinned on his shirt. He did several activities in a book and listened to a ranger lecture on bear safety. He was really happy to get that badge!


One of the things you have to do in Yellowstone is watch Old Faithful erupt, and it happens like clockwork about every hour and a half. He was a little happier (understatement) being at Old Faithful this time.


I feel so fortunate to live in a country with such beautiful landscape and national parks. God Bless America!

Three Teeth Gone

June 4th, 2013

When it rains, it pours, or in Coleman’s case, teeth practically start falling out of his mouth. He lost his second tooth (top) to Dulce’s hand on April 22, and Brian pulled his third tooth (bottom) a few days later. I started wondering who had taken my son and left this bum in his place. Arrrgh!

He loved poking his tongue threw the holes in his mouth. Coleman’s gaping hole reminded me of an eel. That one tooth left a BIG hole.

The kids love going to the office, partly because Mari has created a little paradise for them in her office. Coleman is the president of bees, and Gabby is the president of books. It should probably be the other way around at this point!

I hope they are this happy when they have to go to a real office one day.

We went hiking with the Fortunovs in Calico Basin several weeks ago. The kids found a cave that they enjoyed hanging out in.


Jenica and Josh brought Roma over for dinner. She is growing so fast.


Coleman and Gabby perused the book that Gabby made for me for Mother’s Day. Coleman made me a pretty awesome book as well. In fact, it was a highlight of stories he’d written me, which is pretty special to get from your 6 year old who is just learning to read and write.

Coleman took a picture with me after his school program “To Roam the Seven Continents.” Yes, I have lost weight.

He also had an end-of-year violin recital. Check out the video.

We took a family trip to San Francisco over Memorial Day weekend. One of the highlights was a catamaran tour of San Francisco Bay. Here is Coleman pulling up the sail.


Here is he with Alcatraz in the background. We didn’t do a tour on this trip since the kids aren’t really old enough to understand the audio tour.

He enjoyed surfing on the net. Gabby lost a shoe through that net about an hour later.


Someone was kind enough to offer to take a family photo.


Mr. Snaggle Tooth with San Francisco in the background.

They even let him drive the boat. Insane!


We started our Saturday off by taking a trip on the cable car. The best time to ride a cable car in SF is on a Saturday at 7:30 a.m.

I’m always thankful for a family photo.

After breakfast we visited the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Coleman was tickled to death when a butterfly landed on him and spent the next 10 minutes trying to get more butterflies to land.


Later on we walked down Haight and saw a sign for Cole street.


On Sunday we hiked with Eric, Kathleen, Dane (8), Will and Wyatt (1) Houssels on the Lands End Trail.


We made the kids walk some more that afternoon right to the fountain across from the ferry building.


On our last day, we broke down and gave the kids some quality time in the sand at the beach looking out at Alcatraz. Some crazy swimmers jumped into the picture.


Coleman and Gabby could have spent hours playing in the wet sand.


Coleman and Gabby were excellent travelers during our SF trip. I told them it was a dry run for our camping trip this summer, and they passed the test. Guess we are going!

Reading Machine

April 13th, 2013

Coleman’s reading ability is really coming along, and we found out yesterday at our parent/teacher conference that Coleman is reading at the 2nd grade level. He is in the top third of his class in this area. Apparently, he’s pretty good at reading comprehension because he “gets” things in stories that others don’t get. I am currently reading Harry Potter to him at bedtime, and there is definitely a lot of reading comprehension involved in that story for a six year old!
As for his third quarter report card, he improved in six areas and had lower scores in five areas. His improvements were in: the academic ambition skills category which included an improvement in “works independently,” penmanship/handwriting, number facts and accuracy in the mathematics category, oral reading and science/computer. The areas he needs to improve are demonstrates responsible behavior (Coleman often blames others when he doesn’t get things right like “so and so got me in trouble”), listens attentively, is respectful at all times, music and physical education. I asked Ms. Verbon what one thing he should work on, and she said he needs to be more focused in class and less silly with his classmates. I’m at a loss as to how we can help him besides identify the behavior when it’s happening at home and remind him at drop off to pay attention in class. Coleman’s not the perfect student, but who wants that? I’m very proud of his accomplishments so far this year.

A lot has happened since my last blog post. Or rather, we’ve taken a lot of pictures since my last post.
Coleman attended Tatiana and Lorenzo’s party at the Mini Grand Prix and drove his own race car. See how focused he is! Brian gave me a pass and let me stay home to work out.

Coleman will hang out with Gabby when she attends birthday parties for his friends. Gabby doesn’t often return the favor at her friends’ parties.


We had the Dixons over for a play date before they moved to Baltimore. A good time was had by all.

I don’t think Grandma had this in mind when she bought Coleman this swimsuit. Heck, I had no idea Brian would be cool with turning our backyard into a mud pit. In retrospect, I’m glad it happened because we are having it re-sodded.

Pop and Madi came to visit during Spring Break. This was taken the night they arrived after driving all of the way from Meridian, Mississippi.
Coleman showed off his tennis skills at Bob Baskin Park.



Coleman has some loose teeth and lost his first one on the night of March 23. The tooth fairy brought him $5. The next one to go will be a front tooth.

We took the kids to see Shrek the Musical at the Smith Center. They loved it. If Coleman’s pose was an indication, you’d have thought we just saw Saturday Night Fever.

We visited Hoover Dam during Pop and Madi’s visit. This was taken on the O’Callaghan-Tillman bridge.


Coleman loves his mommy (for now).


It was fun being a tourist. See how much Coleman is enjoying it?

I’m not sure what this flower is, but it was blooming everywhere.


Pop and Coleman on top of Hoover Dam.


It was a perfect day to be at the Hoover Dam. It was a little warm but not nearly what it will be in the summer.

Group photo with Madi and the bridge in the background.


Jenica, Josh and Roma came over for dinner that evening. Baby Roma won’t be a baby for long! The hand patting Roma’s head is Gabby’s.

Later on, Coleman played his violin and I accompanied him.

On Pop and Madi’s last day, we went to the Stratosphere. Coleman and Gabby loved it.


This is Coleman watching Pop and me ride the Big Shot and represents how I felt.

Later that day we did the Red Rock Tanks trail. Cole insisted on bringing his Captain America shield.

I was really proud that Coleman hiked the entire trail without having to be carried once. He knows we are in training for our summer trip, and that this hike was a “test.” Too bad Gabby didn’t get the same memo.

This is the end of the trail - a great view of Las Vegas. The last time I hiked this trail I was seven months pregnant with Coleman. It’s hard to believe it had been that long ago.

Pop and Madi - Thanks for a great Spring Break trip to Las Vegas!

On the Friday of Spring Break, we took the kids to eat dim sum at Noodles and then to the conservatory. Coleman loves his swamp monster t-shirt that Gigi bought for him in New Orleans.

He also really loves his sister. Awwwwww.


Gabby’s 4th birthday party was at the new Discovery Children’s Museum. Coleman always loves hanging with his classmate Noor, whose brother Mehrzad is in Gabby’s class.


The next day was Easter, and Coleman had just gotten a look at his Easter basket.


Then he dyed eggs with his daddy and sister.

And then off to the Binion’s house for an Easter party and egg hunt. Coleman made a killing finding “hidden” eggs. It was a bit embarrassing. This is only about one-third of what he scored.

Since it was Easter and Gabby’s birthday, we let them go wild on the sugar. Ice cream sundae, anyone?


Last weekend, we all made our first trip to the Valley of Fire State Park (Brian had been before but not since high school). Even though we did a short hike, the kids got red-faced. It’s too bad they got my complexion rather than Brian’s.


Thanks for reading!

Coleman Loves Farts

March 16th, 2013

I guess we’ve hit the stage where talking about poop and farts is really funny to Coleman. Brian and I haven’t been the best about discouraging it until recently, so I guess we are partly to blame.

Brian likes playing “I Like Big Butts” for the kids to dance to, so that would be one example of him encouraging them inappropriately. Check out this video.

My mistake was allowing Coleman to purchase a card for his Daddy on his birthday. The kid memorized it immediately and still talks about it daily. “Dad, I’d just like to say you’re a great farter! Oops . . . I meant father. You’re a real gassy fellow! Oops . . . I meant classy. No man alive has a bigger fart! Oops . . . I meant heart. I’d continue, but it’s only gonna get worse. Happy Birthday. I love you , Coleman and Gabby.” When he recites it, he always includes the I love you, Coleman and Gabby.

Over the past few weeks, Coleman has been intently copying a comic strip from his Captain Underpants book. He incorporated Gabby into the story as the mayor. When I took the time to actually look at what he’d drawn, I was blown away. He spent at least 2 hours at our table writing and drawing, which was all his idea. Here’s a video of him talking about his project.

Brian and I weren’t able to attend Coleman’s Chinese New Year celebration at the Forum Shops, so Grandma Wendy went to support Coleman. He is always happy to see Grandma at his school events.


Coleman enjoyed painting a table at the February First Friday.


He also enjoyed this snow cone until he sloshed it all over himself while riding in the stroller on the way back to the car.


Coleman spent time with his dad on his 35th birthday.


We had brunch at Poppy Den a few weeks ago, and they hand out books to entertain kids during their meal. Coleman was given Cat in the Hat and was able to read it himself. I was thrilled!


Coleman wrote and illustrated the following sentences in school last week.

My sistr is a BIG tattetale. One time my sistr and I where in my mom and dads shawr. When we started to fite. Then my sistr told on me.

Some times I get mail in my mailbox. I get hilits (Highlights) and stof. My momy and dady get envlops and stof.

When I go to Moutcharstin (Mount Charleston) it dos not snow. One time I wint to Moutcharstin thar was a ton of snowflake. - Brian has taken Coleman to Mount Charleston several times this year. Once they went when there was a ton of fresh snow, and Coleman had a difficult time skiing down the mountain. His skis just can’t maneuver through piles of snow. It’s been 85 degrees during the day this week, and Brian took Coleman skiing yesterday. Coleman loved it because he could go super fast. He did the most runs he has ever done at Mount Charleston in one day - seven.

Christmas & Birthday #6

January 27th, 2013

The end of December through January is always a big time for Coleman since we celebrate Christmas and then his birthday is only 15 days later. We tried to keep his birthday simple this year with 13 kids, five of which are in his kindergarten class. His party was at our house and started with face painting and balloon creations. Then Meadows teacher and friend Rachel Martin facilitated two art projects - a multimedia canvas and painted picture frames. Then they did a pinata in the backyard. The party ended with cake and the kids just running around and doing what they wanted. I think all of the kids had a good time, which was definitely the goal.

Video: Coleman reads his birthday card.

Video: Coleman opens his birthday present.

We celebrated Coleman’s birthday with a small family gathering at the house. I’d post the video of us singing Happy Birthday, but I agree with Brian. It was the worst rendition ever. We actually quit singing on the last line because it was that bad.
Brian bought the Lego train for Coleman, and Cole was really excited about it. The problem is that the pieces often fall apart, and Cole has trouble putting them back together again by himself. On the weekends, it is common for Coleman to say “Dad, I  need your help!” at least 10 times a day. (I’m really glad Brian was the one who picked out the toy and not me!) When he can’t figure it out himself, he gets really annoyed and has the urge to destroy the whole thing. He has been this way with trains since he got his first train set when he wasn’t yet two years old.


Coleman also got a new ski jacket for his birthday. I hope he uses it a lot this year. He has only been skiing once so far.


Coleman was thrilled that his best friend Anna could come over for his party.


His birthday crew watches the pinata get whacked. Pictured are Ali (Anna’s twin who had her face painted like a dog), Milly Pengilly, Gabby, then Kefir, Jimmy Pengilly and Noor.

Coleman gets his chance. There was lots of good stuff in the pinata. It is always fun to watch the kids scramble, kind of like a kid Mardi Gras.

Noor’s Mom was sweet to offer to take a picture of the family. That doesn’t happen often.


After everyone left (around 2:00 p.m.), we opened presents. Jenica gave Coleman a Rebels jersey. This is his dribbling pose.

Initially Christmas morning was great when the kids came down the stairs. It was awesome having everyone over too. The only disappointing part was when Coleman said “I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas.” I asked him what was it that he didn’t get. He said “I can’t remember. But I know I didn’t get it.” I felt like going Mommy Dearest on him, but I took the  high road.

Here he is with his marble run, which is a really cool toy that can be built a variety of ways.


Coleman and Gabby hug it out. Merry Christmas!


Santa brought a puppet theater to both Coleman and Gabby, but Coleman really wanted to put it in his room. We haven’t put on many shows yet. I hope we will be motivated in the near future. We have five puppets total - a princess, pirate, dragon, doctor and firefighter. We should be able to be pretty creative with those options.

Grandma gave Coleman clothes. She ensures he’s one of the best dressed kids around.


Mari and Roy gave the kids a teepee. It is such a cool gift.


Jenica, Josh and Roma came over on Christmas morning, and Josh took this picture with my camera. I think it turned out really well.


Mari took this picture of Coleman and me.


It always makes me so happy when they are nice to each other.


The night before Christmas, Gigi gave them a gift of pajamas, which they wore on Christmas morning.


Coleman has been reading the Captain Underpants series. Rather, we have been reading them to him, although he could probably read 50-70% of the words in the books. He sometimes likes to pretend he is Captain Underpants. I’m sure he’ll regret that one day.


It was great having Uncle Paul around for a week. He played with the kids a LOT.


Brian got some goofy pics of the kids going wild.




Coleman brings his writing home from school. Here are a few samples:

My Dad and I made a brick house in the yrd.

Can we go to disleland on Sumr brak Dad. Dad sed yes. I tod my sistr Gabby we are goy to dislelad on Sumr brak Gabby sed hrayhray! I Riley did wot too go to Disnlelayd.

After lonch we go to recess. I pay in the sand box with Anna and Ale. We bld a sand casle. WE mike a stem somflags and a door.

Wen I see a tiggr im skard bkos tis teth are sharp. I like tiggr’s bkos I like the strips. I like men tiggrs.

Dear Santa

December 22nd, 2012

Coleman wrote a letter to Santa at school. This is what he wrote:

Dear Santa,

I have been a good boy. I have been a good citizens at the Medous solle. I am kind and considrt to my frends at play tim. For krismos I wod lik a Santa kostoom so I can pretend that I am giving presints to eveone. Haw doo the elvs get oll the wa to the North pol from my house? Do they hav some mahick in thear hrt that tacs them odmadcle to the north pol. My house has a brick drivway and trees on the riget sid. I wih you a mareecrisamis.

Love Coleman

When Coleman told me he asked Santa for a Santa suit, I told our elf Sparkle to tell Santa that I would buy him the Santa suit. Coleman has worn it several times this holiday season - decorating the Christmas tree, at the party I threw for the city manager’s office, while we delivered presents for Candlelighters, and to school yesterday for his holiday party. He is always a hit in that costume.

Here is a video right after he put it on for the first time.

Coleman and his friend Kefir at school yesterday. Uncle Paul and I had a great time at his party. We helped out with the peppermint relay race by holding stockings while the kids used large spoons to transfer the peppermints from the bowl to our stocking. It was a great assignment because we were able to see all of the kindergartners.

Later that day, we went to the Neon Boneyard for the first time. The kids were free, so I took them along. This picture was taken in front of a big statue of a man shooting pool. Our tour guide thinks he may have a twin somewhere in Montana holding a rake in front of a garden store.


Coleman got a little cold and put on his Santa hat. He is standing in front of part of the Flamingo’s flamingo.


Last weekend we went to the Binion’s holiday party. This year there was a DJ, a band, an ice skating rink, airbrushed t-shirts, caricatures, lots of presents for the kids and a bar for the adults. We thought Coleman’s caricature looked pretty good.


Coleman and Gabby spent some time on the dance floor between activities and eating sweets.


We attended a grandma/mother/grandchild party at TPC with Wendy. Coleman liked taking pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus.


Coleman and Gabby take a break from running around to take a picture.


Gigi, Aunt Jillian, Ian and Morgan came over to help us decorate our tree. It is always fun having family over to decorate for Christmas.

The Gonyas invited us to the rodeo this year. They have front row seats, and it was awesome! As I posted on Facebook about Coleman and Gabby, “This IS their first rodeo.” Coleman spent some time with Gigi Gonya.

We had 23 people over for Thanksgiving. Mari took a great photo of Granny Gigi with the kids.


Coleman always loves hanging out with Alan. He didn’t remember Alan’s name at first and referred to him as “that boy.”

One of the highlights on my birthday was going with Brian to Coleman’s school as his show and tell. Cole was so proud to have us there. I  gave a Power Point presentation on the city of Las Vegas. It was fun showing a picture of Oscar Goodman and asking the class “Does anyone know who this is?” I called on the little boy who said “That’s grandpa!” I showed the kids a picture of the Strip and asked them if they knew what it was. One kid said “New York?” They loved seeing pictures of fire trucks and street sweepers. If only adults were so excited by Power Points!The kids actually oohed and ahhed. And the questions they asked were hilarious - Do you get paid a lot of money? Is your job hard? Is your boss ever mean? I walked away from that experience loving the Meadows and thinking very highly of Coleman’s classmates, who were well mannered, paid attention and raised their hands to ask questions.
Brian showed the class how to gear up for snowboarding. While watching him explain everything to the class, I decided Brian would be a great teacher. His demonstration was way more exciting than my presentation.


He showed the class how you jump in a snowboard.

We had a parent/teacher conference with Ms. Verbon, and Coleman is doing very well in school. The highest mark he can receive in kindergarten is an E+. E stands for “excellent progress.” Coleman scored E+ in math and Spanish. We are very proud of him!

I helped Coleman out with a presentation he and five other classmates did on Ireland. Here he is waiting to give his presentation. Coleman’s section was on geography.


Coleman is still playing the violin, and I think he is enjoying it. He now knows two songs - Mary Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Here is a video of his recital.

Good Citizen

November 3rd, 2012

Coleman won one of the first good citizenship awards of the year for his class. We are all very proud, especially since he is the first Plaster to get the award at the beginning of the year. (His Daddy usually got it at the end of the year.) Being a good citizen basically means you are a good kid - listening to the teacher, being nice to other children, being polite, opening doors for others, etc. Brian, Wendy, Richard, Jillian and I were in the audience when Coleman won. He walked on stage with his award and looked at the ground. He was so embarrassed that people were smiling at him and was the only kid on stage that was shy. I was really surprised at his reaction because if I had won that award in Kindergarten, I would have been doing a happy dance.

Coleman with other October good citizens. It took Ms. Verbon to say “ha ha ha” for Coleman to smile. That’s because he responded with “hee hee hee.”

Coleman also earned a third place ribbon for his Arbor Day poster. He LOVES art projects. He recently brought home a clothes pin with an assignment of making a pilgrim or Native American. I racked my brain to figure out how we were going to make that happen, and Cole just took it upon himself to cut out pants, a shirt, face and hands from different colored paper. He didn’t approach it with “How am I going to make this happen?” and just went for it. He even wrote a “pilgrim boy” sign and put it on the shirt. All I did was help with hot glue. Cole says his isn’t the best one, but I’m pretty sure that is because other parents were doing the project for their children.

The big event in our lives the last 6 weeks was a trip to Disneyland. I never thought I’d love Disneyland as much as I do with Coleman and Gabby. This picture was taken on Pirate Island, which was called Tom Sawyer’s Island when Brian was a kid.

We went through a lot of underground tunnels and swinging bridges on the island. Coleman and Gabby took a break before we headed off to the parade.

We went to Mickey’s Halloween Party that night, and Coleman wore his three-headed dragon costume. He was Spider-Man last year as were lots of other kids, and he wanted to be original this year.

Brian was Robin Hood and I was Maid Marion. We had fun dressing up, but it was hot. Brian had removed two layers of his costume when this picture was taken. At least he left his shirt on. If he had taken it off, I’m sure Disney cast members would have asked him to put it back on!

The next day we entered California Adventure right when it opened and speed walked to Cars Land. We still waited 20 minutes to ride Radiator Springs Racers. We “won” the first time we rode it and “lost” the second time later in the day. It was fun, but wasn’t the best ride in the park.


The line to take a picture with Big Red was small, so we waited while Brian got a fast pass to do the race ride again.

Cole poses as we wait in line at Mator’s Junkyard Jamboree.


We took this picture right before Mator drove past us. Cole got too close to the car with his new mister fan, and a Disney cast member put his hand down to keep Coleman away from Mator. This caused a big meltdown, leading us to walk back to the hotel for a nap. It was probably a good thing this happened because we rested up, which allowed us to stay out until midnight = nirvana in Disneyland.

This picture was taken later that night as we waited for the Twilight Zone free fall ride. The kids were in really great moods.

The next day we had breakfast at the Storytellers Cafe with a number of forest critters.


Aaaaahhhhh, don’t get me scary bear!


Coleman drops by the office to show everyone his costume. Mari took this picture. It’s the best one we have of him as a three-headed dragon.


We trick or treated in Rancho Nevada thanks to the kindness of Jaime and her mom Helen. Coleman shows off his loot, most of which he acquired at Helen’s house.


Mari came by the house before our trip to Disneyland to give the kids presents. Coleman got a Cars car wash that changes the color of the car. Thank you, Mari!

Coleman with Jenica in her 8th month of pregnancy. I’m sure Coleman will be very protective of Baby Roma.


Stephanie and Amanda stayed with us for a few days. We had a great time! Best house guests ever!


Azurde invited us over for Mike’s birthday party. The kids had fun posing as cowboys.


Brian had fun posing too. Perv!

Azurde, Coleman, Gabby and Jillian. Coleman often smiles this way for a camera, and I usually remind him to close his mouth.

We went to the Newby’s house for Liam’s first birthday. It was fun watching him eat his cake.


Cole and Jack wore similar outfits.


Coleman played with Noor at Ariadne’s 4th birthday party.Cole had his face painted like a robot.

Coleman has been writing up a storm at school. In addition to the sentence he writes on his own every day, he usually has homework once a week where he writes his own sentence and illustrates it. Here is a video of him doing his assignment.

And some examples of the writing he brings home from school:

I am danceing to I got too get that boomboomboom at my house. (We often have dance parties.)
I am riding my bik on the sidwoc. Whil I am on the sidwoc I se quicksand. (Coleman actually needs to learn how to ride a bike.)
I at som presls. Aftr I at the presls I ran a lap. Then I had a cramp. (I’m not aware of him getting cramps, but maybe this happens at school on the playground.)
Mi sistr and I lik too eat ham. We lec ham bcos we are yoost to ham. (He often has ham sandwiches for lunch.)
I am playing fres tag. Whyl we are playing fres tag we run thro hols cichins and undr beds. (I think they often play chase in the house, which involves running laps in the kitchen.)

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