Fall/Winter 2015

January 21st, 2016

It’s been four months since my last post, and a lot has happened since then. Coleman started third grade at The Meadows with Cindy Hebert as his teacher. We expected that it would be a more difficult year for him, and we were right. Third grade students are expected to read more books (51 books gets them the top reading prize), give 12 speeches to their classmates and do more research projects. Coleman made straight As in his first quarter, and we think he’s likely to maintain his straight A average at the end of the second quarter.

Against my better judgment, I signed Coleman up for group violin after school on Fridays. He lasted about a month. I thought he would make friends, but I realized that there is nothing more sacred than getting some free time on Friday afternoons. Here he is at his one performance for the pancake breakfast.

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Brian had a Yardi conference at Disneyland, so there was no question that we’d tag along. It was Gigi and Paul’s first trip. While there were great moments for me personally, I am hoping to not go back for many, many years. It was crowded beyond belief, and it was close to 100 degrees in October.

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Gigi and Coleman at the Small World ride, which is one of my favorites because it’s such a throw back. Also, the air conditioning was killer.

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We reenacted our 2012 tour through Toontown. It blows my mind how much things change in three years.

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Peanut butter!

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Group shot at a Toontown fountain.

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We killed time on the merry-go-round at California Adventure.

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This is how I felt on our last day there. (Shoot me!)

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We went to a pre-football game party at The Meadows the next weekend. One thing that has definitely changed in Coleman’s life since the summer is that he is obsessed with football. A decade ago I said that no son of mine would ever play tackle football. I think I’m going to have to eat those words. I can’t insist that he not do something he really loves.

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Here he is at one of his flag football games.

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Coleman took a great photo during our family photo session with Ginny Trudeau this year.

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Coleman was Elvis on his second Halloween. He was coming down with a cold, and we trick or treated too early in Wendy and Richard’s neighborhood, so it was kind of a let down. We had a do-over this Halloween, and it went much better. I think it helped that his Daddy rented a costume so he could be Elvis too, or as Coleman called him, “Fat Elvis.”

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They played wrap a mummy game at Coleman’s school Halloween party.

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Coleman wrapped up his best friend Evan. The giggling was contagious.

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Coleman visited the office after school, and Mari photoshopped Gizmo into the picture. Three Elvi.

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Getting his moves ready for trick or treating.

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Aunt Mari visited with Coleman and Gabby at Grandma Wendy’s while Brian and I attended a Trey Anastasio concert at Brooklyn Bowl.

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Coleman and Gizmo dressed alike.

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Elvis and Scarlett - both Southern, talented and good looking, but one is definitely goofier than the other.

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We took the kids to Spago to eat on my very last gift certificate of the $1100 I won at the Nathan Adelson Hospice Luncheon last May. Right before Sharon Jenkins called my name, I looked at my mom, and said “This is the one I really want to win,” and boy, did I feel lucky! After dinner we walked the Strip and saw the Bellagio fountains. While the kids had seen it several times before, it felt like the first time all over again.

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School pictures were actually very good this year - the best they’ve ever been.

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Kelly Maxwell and Susan Perry invited us to spend a weekend with their friends in Zion. I believe it was 14 adults and 16 kids. I adapted much better to the kids going wild than Brian did.

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We convinced Coleman to take a hike with us through a canyon. Gabby could not be convinced to leave all of her new playmates behind.

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A rare picture of Coleman with me because I have to ask for this to happen.

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Coleman’s favorite part about the hike was breaking ice sheets. The crunching noise was really cool.

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Coleman and Brian in a beautiful canyon.

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There was a treehouse on the property.

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Coleman didn’t know many of the kids, but he did know Eli Shulman.

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We did one last short hike on the way back to Vegas.

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We hiked Calico Basin on a weekend with Paul and Bryn a.k.a. Pooch.

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The kids actually had a good time and only whined when we climbed a long hill.

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Our Thanksgiving was one of the best we’ve had yet, and we got a group photo, which was a first.

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Our Christmas season began the weekend after Thanksgiving by decorating two trees. Here’s a video of Coleman putting the topper on for the first time.

Jaime gave us another gingerbread house from Solvang. While they make incredible decorations, we’ve decided that they are also very tasty.

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We took a festive photo before leaving for the Santa Run.

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Coleman did his third Santa run this year. He always complains about getting there early, but if we hadn’t gotten there early, we wouldn’t have seen Wayne Newton or the Jabbawockeez.

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Coleman attended his second rodeo.

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This rodeo might be my last because I am so allergic to all of the dust (?) in the arena. I sneezed repeatedly, and my nose ran severely for most of the event.

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Coleman was very festive in his Santa suit bottoms and Bears hat that Brian got from his Secret Santa at the office, lifting weights that Gigi got him for an early Christmas present. He’s been wearing the Santa suit since kindergarten; that’s four years, folks. I think I got my money’s worth!

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Grandma and Grandpa sponsored the December 20 Nutcracker performance. The kids were extremely well behaved. I am so pleased that they actually love going to the Nutcracker.

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Coleman and Gabby were honored with the task of giving out flowers at the end of the performance.

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They were very speedy about it and were probably on stage less than 30 seconds.

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A blur.

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Brian took them to Eagle Point on their first week of winter break. The first day was a bit rough, but I hear the second day went much better. I was smart enough to avoid this trip altogether.

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It went so well that Brian officially lost his mind and let the kids ride a ski lift by themselves. What was he thinking?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I’m certain that this trip was great birth control for Uncle Morgan. Even Morgan admitted that Brian was Super Dad (not his words) for skiing with two kids, being responsible for all of their gear and did I mention safety?

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Christmas dinner was spent at Andiron in Downtown Summerlin. Brian and I are so fortunate, especially since we host Thanksgiving, for Wendy and Richard to take us out to Christmas dinner. Coleman got to spend a moment with Baby Ezra.

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Coleman and Gabby opened their gifts from Pop and Madi on Christmas morning - money, Legos and clocks!

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Coleman was excited about the football cards that Brian gave him. I think the kid has more stats in his head than most 8-year old football fans.

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The whole family, including Randall, came over for Christmas breakfast.

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Coleman and Gabby love their Aunt Mari.

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They also really love their Uncle Paul and were happy to have him living with us. He is now in Denver, and it feels like something is missing.

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We took a trip to L.A. after Christmas and had the good fortune to spend some time with Wendy and Richard. They invited all four of us to New Year’s Eve dinner at Baltaire.

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We had a fabulous 3-hour dinner. Coleman was content spending time with us at the table while his sister ran off to hang out with the jazz band in the bar.

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Coleman has a lot to learn from his grandpa. I’ve been encouraging him to ask questions.

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We did two long bike rides along the beach. On the first day we let the kids have some time to play.

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We had the pleasure of visiting Randall at his art deco apartment building, the Mauretania, which was built by the Tin Man. JFK lived there too during the Democratic National Convention.

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Randall suggested we go see the Rose Parade floats the day after the parade, and it was a fantastic idea.

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I’m the only one in the family who has seen the real Mount Rushmore.

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The best part about going with Randall was that he knew what was used to decorate every aspect of each float.

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And that’s four months in the life of an 8-year old Las Vegan. Not too shabby.

Summer 2015

September 20th, 2015

Coleman had a pretty great summer. Besides the birth of his first first cousin, he also spent a week in Oregon where he attended his first two Phish shows, spent a week in Florida with Pop and Madi, attended three different camps (several weeks of Johnny Lane’s tennis camp at the Las Vegas Country Club, one week at Mirabelli’s football camp, one week at Kim Bavington’s downtown art camp), spent five days with Grandma and Grandpa in L.A, swam in his new backyard swimming pool and traveled to Mississippi with me for my 20th high school reunion. He also read seven books for school and played hours and hours of video games. Not too shabby.

We drove to Bend, Oregon, for our summer road trip. We made it to Reno the first night, and then our next day was spent at Crater Lake. The first thing we did was take a tour of Crater Lake, which involved a one-mile hike down to the lake.


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Coleman pretends to meditate on top of the minivan.

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We really enjoyed our campsite. Ashley Godfrey camped with us but I spaced taking her picture.

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These pictures were taken at the lodge.

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Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. Our tour guide said you could stack the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower and the Washington Monument on top of each other, and you would still be 100 feet short of the lake’s surface. The color of the water was incredible.

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Coleman had a blast at the Phish shows, which I felt were the most kid friendly shows I’ve ever been to. They started at 6:00, ended at 10:00 and lots of families attended. Coleman made friends with a little boy named Trey, and Trey’s parents sought Coleman out the next day so Coleman could play with him during the show. Brian and I were very happy that Coleman had such a good time.

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On the second night we stood by a group with all kinds of stuff to play with like streamers, confetti and blowup unicorns. During First Tube, they brought out a giant blown up pretzel, and Coleman held it over his head while on Brian’s shoulders. From now on, this song will be known as Coleman’s pretzel song.

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One thing we found memorable about Bend was killer breakfasts. We had four really great breakfasts, one of which was at the Original Pancake House that we used to eat at all of the time in Las Vegas until the one near our house on Charleston burned down. This meal was at McKay Cottage Restaurant.

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We spent an afternoon at Sunriver biking their trail system and hanging out at their water park.

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We drove to the top of Mt Bachelor on our last day in Bend and weren’t prepared for how cold it was. It was definitely not shorts weather! We went up the ski lift, looked around a bit, and then came right back down.

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This is the first time Brian got in the pool. Coleman and Gabby had already gotten in when it was about three feet full. We now have their footprints permanently embedded in the plaster that coats the pool bottom.

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Brian yelled at them for getting in the pool when they weren’t supposed to, but the joy of having a new pool overshadowed getting in trouble.

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The first weekend we had our pool, Brian went to San Diego with a friend and Gabby went to L.A. with Wendy and Richard, so Coleman and I had a pool party with Gigi, Jillian, Ezra, Mari, Morgan, and the Westermans.

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I think Roma likes our pool as much as we do.

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Mari brought over a huge swan that she had to blow up twice because she underestimated how big it was. It didn’t fit in her car when fully inflated. We are still using the swan but it no longer has wings, likely due to our rose bushes. The kids have had a lot of fun on this swan.

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I think Aunt Jillian and Ezra love the pool as much as we do.

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Grandma Wendy took this picture of Coleman while they were in L.A. She thinks he’s a beautiful kid, and I have to agree.

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We took our forth trip to Perdido, Florida, to spend a week with Pop and Madi, but it was the first time we visited the  Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. Madi got a great picture of Coleman in a Blue Angels plane.

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We are not crooks!

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Not his future profession I hope.

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The Blue Angels air show was really impressive.

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One of Coleman’s favorite things to do at the beach is dig holes.

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Gabby helped a little.

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We sailed on a Wildheart cruise.

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They always let the kiddos drive the boat.

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We took some final photos before heading to the Pensacola airport.

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Coleman and I went to Meridian, Mississippi, for my high school reunion. We took a little tour of Meridian on our first day there and stopped at the courthouse. There was a checkpoint and metal detector at the elevator that we bypassed, and no one said anything. I guess we didn’t look dangerous.

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I had to take a picture in front of City Hall, even though I don’t think I’ve ever stepped foot inside the building. It is a nice looking City Hall, though.

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I liked to call this tour a little history of Maggie. I spent three years at St. Patrick’s Catholic School, so we stopped for a visit. I think Cole enjoyed seeing other kids in school while he played hooky. The original parts of the school look as good as they did when I attended, and the new areas were really nice. I was glad to see that some parts of Meridian are improving.

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Coleman got his first pedicure.

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We checked out Gigi’s old house that she is hoping will sell one day. Real estate is not a hot commodity in Meridian.

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It’s definitely a buyer’s market.

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Weidmann’s Restaurant is the best place to eat in Meridian. We had Sunday brunch there and Paul came over from Jackson for the day. It will be a long time before we see Paul in Mississippi again because Uncle Paul is moving to Las Vegas. Watch out!

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We also got to spend some time with Madi’s son Todd, Kim and their new baby Neely. Madi babysits Neely most days of the week so Coleman got to play with her a lot. He is going to be a great babysitter one day.

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Coleman kayaked at Dalewood with Pop.

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We lounged on rafts. It was very shallow here AND slimy, so rafts were highly necessary.

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Coleman fed catfish.

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Coleman and Gabby are on the 49ers flag football team organized out of the Mirabelli Community Center. I have the best time watching their games.

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Coleman’s Cousin Ava came to visit us from L.A. last weekend. The kids love having her around.

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Cousin Coleman

July 14th, 2015

Ezra David Kester was born on June 12, 2015, which means that Coleman now has his first first cousin! We were all ecstatic about this little nugget being born at home. We let Jillian rest and waited a day for Coleman and Gabby to visit.

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Ezra came over for Father’s Day.

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Ezra visited Gabby after her tonsillectomy. Note that Coleman is not much of a pajama shirt fan. He only wants to wear bottoms and will occasionally wear a robe until he gets too hot. I wonder how old he will be before I suggest he needs to wear a shirt around the house? For now, I’m in constant awe of his perfect physique.

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You can tell Gabby isn’t feeling very well.

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Coleman and Gabby get some snuggle time at Grandma Wendy’s house.

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One month prior to Ezra being born, we hosted Jillian’s baby shower at our house. Before the party was in full swing, I got a good shot of Coleman with Wendy, Azurde and Loraine.

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Ginny Trudeau took a decent family shot.

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One of the best things that happened to Coleman in 2015 is playing on a city of Las Vegas recreational flag football team. He had a great Coach and a lot of fun, but also some tears when they played poorly.

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We spent Memorial Day weekend in Seattle. We arrived in the evening and headed to Pike Place Market before dinner at Etta’s. Our first stop was the gum wall. Who wouldn’t love being around millions of pieces of chewed up gum?!

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Climbing on a pig was a must.

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The next morning we walked a little over a mile to breakfast and happened upon the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which is currently a one of a kind store.

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After breakfast we went to the Pacific Science Center. We saw very old trees . . .

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and butterflies.

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Coleman got silly.

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We spent a bit of time at the Folklife Festival watching a youth orchestra perform. The fenced in area is where you were allowed to drink beer, and kids weren’t allowed. Pop quiz - Which parent spent time in the fenced in area? Brian! But it was only for one beer.

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We did a tour with Ride the Ducks of Seattle, and it was definitely a highlight of the trip, mainly because our tour guide had decades of experience to hone his craft. He was so good that he made up for the very annoying duck noisemakers that everyone received. I think the part that stuck with us the most was that Starbucks has 470 stores in Seattle. (I recently found out that Vegas is second in Starbucks stores per capita.) Every time we passed a Starbucks store, we’d yell “Ka-Ching!” We probably said that 15 times on the 2 hour tour, and we kept saying it for several days after.

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After the tour we went back to the hotel to hang out in the club room proving once again that people of all ages like free food!

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There was a GameWorks across the street from the hotel. Coleman bought a whoopee cushion with his tickets, and it instantly became his new favorite toy. Watch the video.

Unfortunately, the whoopee cushion died the next day, and Coleman did not take it well. This video was even funnier when it was in slow motion, but I wasn’t able to preserve that function when I uploaded it to You Tube.

We started Day Two off with a food tour of Pike Place Market, which included donuts, smoked salmon, clam chowder, chocolate covered cherries, crab cakes, piroshkies and cheese. Guess where our tour began? In a little office right by the Gum Wall! Yummy!

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We took a float plane ride over Seattle.

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Gabby and Coleman sat in the back.

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I think Coleman really enjoyed it. Gabby . . . not so much.

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And then spent an hour at Fremont Brewing Company.

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We had an incredible meal at Shiro’s Sushi.

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Gabby teased her brother - “Coleman loves Tinkerbell as much as he loves his family.”

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On our final morning in Seattle, we walked around downtown. We wanted the kids to see the library.

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They had to goof off across the street at the U.S. Appeals Court.

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Our trip ended with us meeting up with John Schroder, Brian’s friend who he hadn’t seen since high school. We had a long breakfast at Pike Place Market and then walked around to find souvenirs to buy. It was a pretty great family trip. They just get easier as the kids get older.

Annie came to The Smith Center. Coleman went home at intermission. It was a school night, and he was just too tired to make it to 10:00 p.m.

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Coleman at Reading Day.

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We volunteered at Lutheran Social Services’ Food Bank the day after the kids got out of school for the summer. They got to stock shelves and enjoyed the work until they didn’t.

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City of Las Vegas Parks and Recreation is doing a big marketing campaign right now, and Coleman is promoting birthday parties in our parks. He looks like he’s 5 years old in this picture!

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The Westermans came over for dinner, and Jenica made trifle.

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Nicolina let Coleman hold her for a bit.

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The kids attended one week of Kim Bavington’s art camp this summer, and they produced art unlike anything I ever made when I was a kid.

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Uncle Paul came to visit for the Fourth of July.

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Brian lit firecrackers in the backyard, and the kids loved it.

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So far, it’s been a great summer. It will be even greater once our pool is finished, hopefully by the end of July!

Living Large

May 4th, 2015

Coleman has had a very busy Spring so far. His schedule goes something like this: swimming and violin lessons on Mondays, art with Rachel Martin on Tuesdays, tennis lessons at the Las Vegas Country Club on Wednesdays and flag football practice on Thursdays with a game on Saturday mornings. And there are so many other things I wish he had time for! He complains a bit about being busy so we let him have some much needed vegging out time on the weekends. His new obsession is Minecraft. He checks books out of the library to understand how to navigate the game better, and it sounds like most of the kids at his school play Minecraft too.

With regard to sports, Coleman absolutely loves flag football. He has scored one touchdown so far and an extra point in a different game. I believe he’s played five games total. When I was pregnant with Coleman, I recall saying that I’d never let my kid play football, but now that I see how much joy it gives him, it would be very difficult for me to toe the no football line.

I wish he would keep the happy attitude you see in this picture during all of his games. He takes it pretty hard when they are losing and when they’ve actually lost. They are currently at 1 win and 4 losses, so there’s been a decent amount of frustration, tears and general sulking.

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Coleman had his first violin recital at his new teacher, Helene Kamen’s house. Coleman likes having opportunities to wear the suit that Grandma Wendy bought him.

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Coleman and his violin buddy Johnny like goofing off together during their monthly group lesson.

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Coleman has seen two symphonies perform at The Smith Center recently. He saw Michael Tilson Thomas conduct the London Symphony Orchestra. They played Four Sea Interludes by Britten and Concerto in F by Gershwin with Yuja Wang on the piano. She was a sight to see in her short black dress. Coleman knew he wouldn’t be able to make it through the second half so we left at intermission. We were just glad we got to see the Gershwin piece. A few weeks ago we saw the Las Vegas Philharmonic play The Chairman Dances by John Adams, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Symphony No. 5 in E Minor by Tchaikovsky. I feel incredible joy at having an eight year old who will go see classical music with me. I think he actually enjoys it and feels grown up since most of the people who attend are older (older than me even!).

This was the first time we were in the nose bleed seats. We bought our tickets pretty late for the London Symphony Orchestra.

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Kids are always amazed by the Self Playing Piano.

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This is a wonderful picture of Grandma Wendy and not so great of Coleman.

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Jenica took Coleman on an outing as a birthday present, and I think Coleman really enjoyed having time with just Jenica, Roma and Nicolina. Here are Roma and Coleman at the Shark Reef. I love Roma’s big smile!

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The Meadows second graders are in charge of the annual bake sale, and my bright idea was to make Angry Bird cookies. Well, Dulce executed this idea and spent at least 20 hours making about 120 cookies. Overall, we spent at minimum $400 to make $120 at the bake sale = not my best business decision. When it’s Gabby’s turn, I’m taking a page out of another parent’s book and selling lemonade in LED lighted cups.

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I guess you can’t put a price on a happy boy and his interactive cookie booth (Brian’s idea, and it was a hit).

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Our friends Ed and Liz were in town, and we met them at Yardbird at the Venetian. I had to take a picture of the Year of the Ram display. The Believe the Hype shirt is courtesy of Deb Bresnahan.

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We spent President’s Day weekend in Breckenridge with Morgan, Tappan, Raymond and Harry Vickery. This pile of snow was right outside of the house we rented.

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Brian decided it’d be silly to try to fit skiing in on the last day, especially since it took twice as long to get off the mountain the day before. We spent some time walking around town and had a yummy burger lunch.

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Pop and Madi came to Vegas for the second half of Spring Break, and we made our annual trek to the Bellagio. We always have a great time when they visit and try to fit in lots of activities. We also got some good time in with our new projection system and watched Big and Interstellar with Coleman. He thoroughly enjoyed both.

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I hope Pop’s love of gardening rubs off on at least one kid. I think it’s pretty likely since Brian is the conduit.

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After our Noodles dim sum lunch, we walked around the Strip. The kids particularly enjoyed the Aria fountain near the Strip valet. What posers!

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We all went on our first helicopter ride of the Strip that Brian won at the Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Black and White Ball silent auction.

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Coleman got to sit in the front of the helicopter between the pilot and Brian.

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We hiked the Oak Creek Trail the next day. Coleman took this hike very seriously.

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He and Gabby had a lot of fun playing by the creek.

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We took a group photo before heading back towards the car.

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We are lucky to have such great mountains just a short drive out of town and great weather for hiking.

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He may not always show it, but he really does love his sister.

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Wendy and Richard took us out to dinner at Cleo. I took this picture and inadvertently cut Richard completely out of it. He was standing right beside Wendy! It was probably that third drink that did it.

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The Easter bunny left a trail of yarn from each kid’s bedroom with gifts along the way that ended in their Easter baskets. I thought this was pretty clever, but the kids got a bit frustrated trying to untangle the yarn as they followed the trail.

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The Easter bunny is a bit overzealous when leaving huge baskets of chocolate.

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All dressed up to go to the Binion Easter Party.

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There were too many eggs, and Coleman made at least one trip to the minivan to dump his bucket so he could gather more eggs.

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Uncle Morgan joined in on the fun.

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Coleman and Gigi

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Coleman and me

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We celebrated Lady Pengilly’s birthday by bowling at Red Rock. Coleman and Jimmy and Billy Pengilly are going to be lifelong friends. Mark my words.

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Coleman’s 2nd grade school picture. It could be worse.

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Coleman has been complaining about his neck hurting for at least two years now. Doctor Al and others theorized that it was from playing violin, but since Coleman doesn’t even play that much, I pretty much ruled that idea out. He does, however, play on devices a LOT, and now when we see him craning his neck down, we remind him and he adjusts his posture. I’ve also started taking him to John Grimes, a chiropractor, and Coleman gets giddy with excitement when he gets his back cracked. As you can see from this photo, his spine is a bit curved, and luckily for him, it’s not too late to fix it. I have a curved spine too, and it is too late for me.

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December 2014 & January 2015

February 4th, 2015

Now that Coleman’s 2nd grade year is in full swing, and now that he finally figured out what he had to do to get the good citizenship award at school, he has developed a brighter outlook on life. He’s a lot happier than he was in September, and that is a big relief to me, his Mom. Another new development is that he’s now a big football fan. He spends a good bit of time playing catch with his Dad in the house. I’m not a big fan of this, but I’m going to let it happen UNTIL something breaks. He’s also been playing football with a group of boys during recess, and it sounds like he’s getting better. He was very proud of a long throw he caught last week. Right before the Super Bowl came on, Coleman just “I can’t wait until the Super Bowl.” Then he cried when it was over because the Seahawks didn’t win, and Coleman lost his $10 bet when the final interception happened. Uncle Morgan gave Coleman $10 by making him do 5 push ups, which eased Coleman’s sadness. I told Coleman that if he didn’t like losing money, he shouldn’t gamble! Before he was born, I often said there was no way my boy was going to play football. I’ve since changed my tune since it makes him so happy. And there’s much less of a chance he’ll get hurt playing Meadows football.

When Coleman prepped for his class program this year, they asked him two key questions that he answered during the program. He was the only one out of two 2nd grade classes who wanted to be city manager and go to Sewanee.

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Ginny Trudeau took our family photo this year for the fourth time. She is the best photographer ever, and we are so fortunate to get to work with her.

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Coleman did the Great Santa Run in downtown Vegas for the 2nd time. His time wasn’t as good as last year’s, but that’s because I wasn’t there pushing him to keep running. He probably had more fun this year.

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He got on the scales outside of the Heart Attack Grill, a restaurant I’ve vowed that I’ll never step in. If you weigh 350 pounds or more, your burger is free. One man actually had a heart attack while he was eating there.

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Brian has taken Coleman to Lee Canyon three or four times so far this ski season.

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Watch a video of Coleman skiing.

We were thrilled when Coleman got the good citizenship award. He was the fifth kid in his class of 20 to get it.

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We went to the kid Christmas party at the Las Vegas Country Club this year. Mr. and Mrs. Claus flew in by helicopter and then took pictures with all of the kids.

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For Christmas this year, Aunt Mari bought Coleman and Gabby an artificial tree for the office. They had a great time decorating it. Spending time at the office has had a positive influence on the kids. They just recently printed labels for Gabby’s accordion file so they could organize their artwork. These are the labels they came up with: nature, sports, food, seasons, random.

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Coleman and Gabby had lots of discussions this year about Santa. Watch the video.

Coleman dressed up in his Santa suit for the third year in a row. We might have to get him the next size so he can keep up the tradition. He takes a bag of stickers and cheap toys to school in a big Santa bag to hand out.

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Coleman wrote out his New Year’s resolution at school. I’m afraid he’s not doing that great on the not yelling at his sister part.

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Coleman and Gabby got to spend time with their cousins Bill, Tracy and Eva right at the beginning of their Christmas vacation. They are deprived of being around family their own age, so it was really great (and enlightening!) to have Eva around. Gabby took over and kept Eva to herself for the first few hours, but eventually they all played together, and it was delightful. I only wish we could have spent more time together.

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We attended the Santa event at Doolittle Community Center this year. Grandma Wendy sponsored a boy that was Coleman’s age. My boss sponsored the brother.

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The Gregersens had us over for dinner for Jeremy’s birthday, and I got to spend quality time with this baby girl. She was a delight! I can’t wait for Jillian to have her baby boy and am hoping I’ll get to hold him often.

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The kids enjoy seeing the Nutcracker a little more every year. Coleman was singing Nutcracker songs out loud long days before and days after we went to the performance. What was once a bit of a chore has turned into a family tradition (minus Brian) that I really look forward to.

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We spent Christmas Eve at Spago this year. Brian’s duck wasn’t as hot as he would have liked, but other than that, it was a great experience!

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Watch the video of the kids checking out their loot on Christmas morning, 2014.

Coleman’s loot:

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Santa brought Coleman the Imperial Star Destroyer. It took him a while to put it together because we went on vacation the day after Christmas and didn’t take it with us.

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How did Santa know that Coleman lost his fitbit and needed a new one?! I guess our Elf Sparkle made sure he was aware.

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Santa also knew that the kids needed a new pencil sharpener.

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Two happy kids on Christmas morning. Watch the video of Coleman’s happy dance.

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Even boys love Olaf from Frozen! Uncle Paul bought this for Gabby.

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We spent Christmas Day with family at our house. It was pretty awesome.

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We went to San Diego the day after Christmas. The kids had been there before, but had no recollection of previous trips. Coleman hadn’t been to the San Diego Zoo since he was four months old, so he definitely didn’t remember THAT! Coleman and Gabby planned our route through the zoo.

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Once the zoo officially opened, we walked/ran all the way to see the pandas because that’s usually where the line is longest. The pandas did not disappoint.

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I spent a lot of time at the zoo when I was interning at San Diego County. My second favorite exhibit was the polar bears. Coleman is pretending to be peeking out of a seal hole in the Arctic.

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Riding a gorilla.

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A highlight of the day was the foot massage machines.

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My hand! My hand!

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Coleman begged for us to take him to the hotel gym, which we did at night when fewer people were in there. Got to brainwash them while they are young!

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The next day we rode about 10 miles around Mission Beach.

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We bought the kids the largest ice cream cones ever while waiting for a table to open up at the restaurant/bar next door.

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We surprised the kids with a trip to Legoland on our way to Newport Beach.

Loving spending time with my kids.

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“Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team! Everything is awesome! When we’re living our dream!” - lyrics from The Lego Movie

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Sometimes I’d like to do this to them, for REAL.

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Coleman would like to build a White House out of Legos. I told him he’d have to be a “master builder” and figure it out himself. Lego doesn’t make kits that large.

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Daddy and I need the “force” to be with us to help us STOP BUYING LEGO SETS! Why are they so addictive?! Part of it has to do with seeing how happy they make Coleman.

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One day we’ll take Coleman to the real Hollywood Bowl.

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We stayed at the Hyatt in Newport, and Coleman was convinced at the time that he had to have a life-sized chess set. Luckily for us, he hasn’t mentioned it since we left.

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We hiked at Crystal Cove State Park.

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Brian enjoyed finding living things in the tide pools.

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We spent the afternoon in Laguna. We had lunch at Nick’s and bought a small piece of art in a local gallery.

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We spent New Year’s Eve at the house playing Uno and watching Phish play in Miami.

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Coleman turned 8 on January 9. We gave him a big boy aqua G-Force watch. He helped me pick it out but was still excited to get it on his birthday morning.

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Watch the video of Coleman opening his card from Pop and Madi.

Watch the video of Coleman opening his card from Brian and me.

We took Coleman and his friends to play laser tag after school on his birthday.

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Then we brought them to our house to have cake and RUN WILD!

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The cake that BattleBlast provided was really tasty.

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Sophia Perry bought Coleman a Wubble Bubble for his birthday, a toy the whole family enjoys.

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We had a family birthday dinner the next night. Here Coleman is with Aunt Mari. Grandma Wendy bought Coleman a suit, which he was very excited about, so he decided to wear it the entire day. What 8-year old does that?!

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Jenica, Josh, Roma and Baby Nicolina celebrated with the family as well.

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The Westermans bought Coleman this cool nature-based activity book that we’ll take on our next camping trip.

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iGeneration

November 30th, 2014

There may not yet be a name for Coleman and Gabby’s generation - I’ve heard iGeneration and Generation Z thrown around - but Coleman’s outlook on life is way different than what my outlook was at his age. He has a sense of entitlement and what he perceives as “fair.” I think this will be our biggest struggle with Coleman. When is it okay to let him be independent, and when should we be authoritative? He hates the latter and doesn’t really understand why we have to “tell him what to do.” I’ve tried to explain that I wouldn’t tell him what to do if he knew what he was supposed to be doing. He also feels that if Brian and I buy ourselves something, like a new iPhone, he should get it too. And I contend that when he has a job and is paying his way in life, he can get whatever he can afford at that time. It’s a harsh truth, but he hasn’t yet understood that we aren’t yet equals. He needs us to survive. I wonder if this is why he’s always thinking of ways to make money?! (Full disclosure: I read this whole paragraph to Coleman, and he was okay with me posting it.)

We took the kids to Austin, Texas, for a wedding and to see our friends who live there. Coleman arrived well over a day after Gabby and I got there. One of the first things we did the next day was have BBQ in East Austin with Hampton. Coleman said “The BBQ was pretty good, but there were a bunch of mosquitoes.” I believe there were flies. The poor kid doesn’t yet know the difference.

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We took him to a toy store and bought him a Rubik’s cube. Here he is in our hotel room trying to solve it.

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Coleman made another friend at Stephanie and Amanda’s wedding who also had a sister. According to Coleman, they both enjoyed running away from their sisters.

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Coleman and Gabby had a great time at the wedding. The photo booth kept them entertained for hours.

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We spent the next morning at the McGlashans for brunch. Coleman spent some time at the easel.

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A group photo of the people who made life great while I lived in Austin.

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We welcomed the newest member of the Westerman family - Nicolina.

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Coleman attended the Nevada Sesquicentennnial event with me at The Smith Center. We ran into some Cirque performers before going in.

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We had a nice weekend brunch at MTO across from City Hall. Coleman is not a big fan of eating out, but he had no complaints about this place, especially since they have lemon poppyseed pancakes.

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Brian attended Coleman’s Halloween party at The Meadows.

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Coleman’s school program this year was “I Have a Dream.” Coleman’s class practiced it for 3 to 4 weeks and performed it twice at school. The best part was when each kid told the audience where they hoped to go to college and what they wanted to be when they grew up. Coleman said “I hope to attend the University of the South in Tennessee and be manager of the greatest city in the world . . . Las Vegas.” I attended both performances, and he got big laughs each time. I promise, I DID NOT tell him to say that.

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The Mayor was at the second performance and loved hearing about Coleman’s ambitions. Her grandson Jacob is in second grade too.

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Jaime Martin sent us a lovely gingerbread house for Christmas. It smells so good . . . I doubt it will make it to Christmas!

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We had a lovely Thanksgiving this year at Wendy and Richard’s house. The thing I was most thankful for was not having to work so hard before and after the meal. It was such a pleasure to be able to relax and enjoy (although I did feel guilty for not helping enough.) I didn’t eve take pictures. Mari took both of these.

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We had dinner at the Sugar Factory the next night so we could use a gift certificate before it expired. We had the King Kong ice cream sundae. It was ridonkulous.

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Brian and I have seen a decent number of Phish shows this year, and I guess it’s starting to wear off on our kids. The Halloween show was really special, and I think Coleman listening to it sparked an interest in all things Phish. I printed up the lyrics to Fee and he understands the song better than I do. Watch the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRBj9RK4gAM

Mr. Precocious

September 4th, 2014

Brian and Coleman were driving down the freeway today on the way home from school. They passed a guy getting arrested on the other side of the freeway by four highway patrolmen. Brian pointed it out to Coleman, and as usual, he missed the guy getting arrested, but he did see the cop cars. Coleman then said “I wish life were like a movie so I could pause it.” Now that’s precocious! This is Grandma Wendy’s favorite adjective for Coleman.

We spent a week in Perdido, Florida, at the end of summer vacation to meet up with my Dad and Deb. This was our third year doing this trip, and it just keeps getting better. Deb spends weeks planning and getting stuff together, and she has it down pat. We had everything we needed and then some. The only things we had to do were go to Joe Patty’s for seafood (Brian went three times), and hit the grocery and liquor stores, We ate every meal at the condo. This year we ventured out on a sailboat cruise twice, and we had it to ourselves on the first trip. We’ve talked about spending our week together in places other than Perdido, but it’s hard to pass up a “sure thing,” which is a vacation that all ages can enjoy.

Coleman and Gabby have their backpacks on and are ready to drive to the airport. Brian and I took some time to think back on our previous travels with the kids via long airplane rides. We both agree that it’s a heck of a lot easier now. They were REALLY well behaved on our two flights to get to Pensacola AND the three hours we spent in the Nashville airport. They actually looked this happy when the trip was over!
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Pop and Coleman spent lots of time on the beach together.

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Madi made them an extra special palm tree breakfast.

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We dug some holes this year, but never got quite as crazy as last year. Brian heard that a couple of people suffocated this summer after the sand walls around the holes they dug at the beach closed in on them. That’s all the encouragement I needed to not dig deep holes.
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The captain of our sailboat spent five years working in St. Johns, and he said the water in the Gulf this year was more Caribbean-like than he’d ever seen.

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This is our first Wild Hearts cruise when we had the sailboat to ourselves.

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Sweet boy.
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Towards the end of the cruise, the staff brought out the water guns. I was thankful that Coleman and Gabby stuck to spraying each other and their Dad (not me!).
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We had to walk on a very long dock to get to the boat. It made me nervous to think about the kids falling in the marsh on either side.
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Coleman spent lots of time in the Palacio pool. I’m starting to think I need to get him on a swim team.

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Madi took some great shots of Coleman jumping over waves.

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I am amazed at how tan he gets even after we slathered on sunscreen several times a day. He definitely is the most apt to get tan out of the four of us.
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He loved the sailboat, especially the Wild Heart sail.
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On our second cruise, we saw LOTS of dolphins, and we spent some time playing in the water. Coleman was totally cool with jumping off of the side.

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I love summer vacation as much as the kids. They love it because they aren’t always busy with homework and activities, and they get to watch lots of TV and play games on devices. I love it because it’s the only time I get to spend multiple days straight with my family.

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Our whole group. Thanks Dad and Deb for another great trip!
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When we returned from our trip, we had a play date with the Pengillys at the Las Vegas Country Club. Even though their pool is very old and gets little action, it was fun having it to ourselves.
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We took the dogs on a hike at Mount Charleston. Poor Lenny and Lucy rarely get to go anywhere but Dulce’s house and the vet.

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Coleman and Gabby ready for their first day of 2nd grade and Kindergarten.

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Coleman and Gabby have been taking karate for a few years now. They also like to dance. Watch the video.

2014 Road Trip

July 13th, 2014

We took a two-week road trip this year (as opposed to our 3 week trip last year) and spent a week of it in Telluride at a lovely home we won in a silent auction. It didn’t take Coleman and Gabby long to realize what an awesome town Telluride is, especially since they had freedoms they would never have in Las Vegas. We let them ride their bikes up to three blocks away and visit a bakery to buy donuts and pastries, all without adult supervision. I think on the second day they said that they wanted to move there.

At the end of our first day of driving approximately 600 miles, we set up camp in Mesa Verde National Park. As we ascended the road towards our campground, Coleman got looked at the view and said “I think I’m going to like it here.”

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The kids were thrilled when the driving was over for the day.
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We spent one full day in Mesa Verde and toured the Cliff Palace ancient Pueblo dwelling.

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We had to climb a few ladders to get out of the dwelling area and back to the car. Coleman and Gabby were very well behaved during the one-hour lecture.
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We made it to Telluride the next day, and Richard and Hampton arrived a few hours after we did. We hopped on the gondola the next day after the best pizza lunch ever at Brown Dog Pizza.

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Gigi had open heart surgery at the end of February and was in tip-top shape for the trip. She had no issues at all with the altitude.
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On our way home from There, a restaurant/bar two blocks from our house, Uncle Paul and I heard Coleman practicing violin on the sidewalk. He wanted to show the girls living next door that he could play violin. He made about $20, and that was what I like to call “the beginning.”He played outside many more times on the trip and even changed his location a few times. Overall, he made about $230. He wants to continue busking now that he is back in Las Vegas. We haven’t yet figured out where the ideal spot is for him to safely practice while accepting donations. I don’t think Las Vegans appreciate a kid playing violin as much as bluegrass afficionadoes or people who live in Telluride.
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Watch the video of him practicing a few blocks down Pacific from where we were staying.

The first thing we did at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival was decorate hula hoops. Coleman is a real natural. Watch the video of him hula hooping to the Del McCoury Band.
We always love spending time with the Vickery family. Coleman and Gabby had a great time with Raymond.

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The entire crew at 465 W. Pacific Avenue. Hands down, this was the best silent auction item we have ever scored.

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Uncle Paul took a last picture with the kids before driving back to Jackson. We didn’t know at the time that he’d be able to do it without a sleep break.
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We had a second meal at Brown Dog Pizza.
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Telluride has great biking trails along the river that runs through town.

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Coleman hiked the Jed Wiebe trail with Brian and me. We walked over 5 miles. It was a bit rough for him due to the elevation.

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We spent three nights camping outside of Durango. Since the kids hadn’t hiked much the entire trip, we thought it’d be good to do an 8-mile loop (great idea!), which Brian biked a few hours after our hike. According to Brian, it was more fun biking than hiking. The kids were fairly happy during the snack break . . .

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Coleman did the best he could, but it was very hot and dusty. The heat always saps his energy.

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We walked around downtown Durango while Brian watched a World Cup game. This statue was outside the train depot.
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We spent an hour at the Durango Mountain Resort. Coleman did the bungee trampoline and alpine slide.

Here he is preparing the for the bungee trampoline. It was fun for him until he accidentally flipped. That’s when he wanted to get off. Watch the video of Coleman on the bungee trampoline.

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We went whitewater rafting in the afternoon, a first for the kids. As you can probably tell, we had a great time going down rapids.

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Coleman had a beer by the campfire. Root beer, that is.

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He got a real kick out of drinking a beer with us. Cheers!
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We all slept comfortably in our REI Kingdom 8. I wouldn’t want to put 8 adults in here, but 6 would be okay. Coleman was playing with the rain stick that Gigi bought for him in a hippie store the night before. He was very happy to have a “real” Chilean rain stick since he’d studied Chile at school and had made his own version of a rain stick.
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It was pretty tight in the minivan. Even though Coleman complained, he did not want to give up his cozy seat to Gabby.

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We felt compelled to pay the fee to wait in line to take a picture at Four Corners.
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Coleman decided to do a yoga pose when it was his turn for an individual shot.

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When Coleman got home, he counted his money. This is what he had left from his violin playing since he had spent some on cake pops for himself, Gabby and Raymond. He threw his junior ranger badge in for good measure.
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A few weeks later Coleman was invited to an education conference to meet the children’s book author, Marc Brown.

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Prior to our road trip, Coleman performed in his last violin recital with Mrs. Jennifer Morette Jackson. She taught Coleman so much in one year, and we will miss her now that she has moved to Texas.

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Coleman played Song of the Wind in the recital. Watch the video.

We went to Jackie Gregersen’s home for his birthday, and the kids liked playing in the lockers. Hopefully they won’t be shoved in lockers when they are in high school!

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The Westermans came over for dinner while Gabby was in L.A. with her grandparents. Coleman had a great time playing with Roma.

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Teacher Coleman

May 12th, 2014

One of my favorite recent moments of Coleman was when I suggested he give advice to Gabby who will be entering kindergarten soon. He told her that if she wants to be a good citizen, she has to be respectful to people, try not to brag, listen to the teacher and do what the teacher says the first time, not after the millionth time. He also went over phonics with her - a, apple, ah, b, ball, buh, etc. I’m looking forward to listening in on more conversations between those two.
Coleman performed in the Junior Festival and got a superior rating. I found out later that everyone gets a superior rating!

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He also performed in his school program. The theme was respect.
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I have to admit that programs were a bit more entertaining at the Beginning School, probably because there’s more dancing and little kids tend to be cuter.
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Coleman was thrilled when Spring Break arrived because he thought he was going to get to do what he wanted to do 100% of the time. Wrong! Pop and Madi were in town, so we did a few activities each day. On the first day I had Leadership Las Vegas. Everyone else went to the Container Park and had gelato at Art of Flavors.

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Coleman ran into his friend Ryan while at the Container Park.

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The next day I did a triathlon at Lake Mead. The kids came out to watch me transition from bike to running. Then they relaxed in the lake while I ran six miles in 90 degree heat. It was brutal.

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I think we were all glad when it was over.
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Coleman’s new favorite thing to do is hang out in his “tree house.” Brian painted it, installed a window, a shelf and a door, put down carpet, gave him some electricity, and strung some Christmas lights. Coleman also put velcro on the wall and his Kindle so he can sit on the bench in the tree house and watch movies. There’s nothing like being in the great outdoors!
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Coleman didn’t complain at all about riding bikes in Peccole Ranch. Mari came out with Scooter and Gizmo to visit with us.

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Gabby, Madi and Coleman

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Coleman enjoys the simpler things in life, like climbing a tree.

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Later that day, my friend Ashley came to the house to give me a massage. Coleman’s neck has been hurting him (too much time with the iPhone or Kindle), so he got a short massage too.

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We rode on the High Roller while Pop and Madi were in town. This was taken before we got on the observation wheel.

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It would have been a perfect ride except Gabby knocked the last of Brian’s beer over on the floor.

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We posed for a group photo on Pop and Madi’s last night in town. We always have a good time when they come out to visit.
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Coleman got his annual check up during Spring Break. He is very healthy and in the 50th percentile for height and weight.
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He and Gabby goofed it up while waiting for Dr. Al.

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Coleman and Gabby had another great Easter, probably because they still believe a bunny brings them treats. Watch the video of Coleman and Gabby discovering their Easter baskets.

Coleman got a disco ball for his tree house.

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We had Easter lunch at the Binion’s, which we always enjoy.

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Gigi came along and had a good time too.

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The kids couldn’t have stuffed one more egg in their Easter baskets.

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Coleman showing off his loot.

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One of the best things Coleman has been doing over the past two months is practicing violin on his own. He’s beginning to feel like it’s his responsibility to remember to practice, and he’s been improving a lot faster. He will also play songs he’s learning on the violin on the keyboard that Pop and Madi gave him for Christmas. I’m really pleased with the tone he gets out of his violin.

Coleman Turns 7!

March 9th, 2014

Coleman always begins a new year with a birthday. It is difficult to believe that my baby is now 7 years old. We celebrated by having the Plasters and Gigi over for dinner.
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Coleman had an Iron Man Baskin Robbins peanut butter and chocolate ice cream cake for dessert. Luckily for me, it wasn’t difficult to persuade him on getting my favorite cake!
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Gabby’s always a little jealous when it is Coleman’s birthday, but she gets over that when it’s cake time.
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Coleman received a few Lego sets from the Plaster grandparents, which begs the question - Will he ever get sick of getting Legos?
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Even with all of his fancy Lego sets, Coleman continues to play with Duplos.

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Instead of a birthday party, Coleman got a play date. He never gets to go on play dates, so this was a big treat for him. Brian took Coleman and Evan Mulkey to lunch at In-N-Out and laser tag, and they finished the afternoon by hanging out at the house.

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We celebrated Jillian’s birthday a few weeks later.

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Brian has taken Coleman skiing twice so far this season. Brian would like to take him more often, but Cole often wants to sit around the house on the weekends and “do nothing.” I know the feeling!
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1st Video of Day One

2nd Video of Day One

Video of Day Two
Chillin’ like a villain.

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My cousin Lindsay and her husband Tony were in town, so we all had lunch at Spago because you can never go wrong there. The food is always good.
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The whole family took a weekend ride around the neighborhood - not a single training wheel in sight!
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Coleman continues his karate practice with Matt Pynch. Watch this video of him practicing some self defense.

As far as extracurricular activities go, Coleman spends much of his free time reading his Kindle, practicing his violin and playing Minion Rush on Brian’s old iPad. Last month he read on his own for seven hours (the suggested amount of time is five hours). With regard to violin, he has completed 50 practice sessions (30 minutes each) and another 15 practice sessions since the end of summer, which is maybe one-third of what he should actually be doing. I want him to keep playing so I don’t push him too much. His reward for 50 sessions was a cuckoo clock, and I have to admit that I love that silly little clock. It plays a different song every hour, and I think it’s a very fitting reward; he received music for playing music. I wish it was my idea, but it was actually Coleman’s.

On a final note, Coleman has now lost seven teeth. He didn’t want anyone to pull out his seventh tooth, and it just fell out on its own. I’m glad he didn’t eat it like the tooth he lost over the summer when we were in Yellowstone! Watch the video of him talking about losing teeth. (Note that he finally got a haircut. He coudn’t stand that hair was always in his face.)


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