Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why it takes me so long to get anything accomplished...

Happy Halloween

It is a beautiful day here, and the Van Kuiken's don't really have any big plans - Clay will mow the lawn, Paige is cleaning her room and doing a bit of schoolwork, Tim is doing yard work and I will be doing laundry and other exciting stuff like that.  Tonight the kids will be going to their grandmother's to help her hand out candy.  They feel that they are getting too old to trick or treat.  Tim and I will have a nice, mellow evening all alone.  We don't get trick or treaters here for some reason - probably because the driveway is so long!

Tomorrow Tim is heading to Paris, and the kids and I will clean the guest cottage for my cousin Jackie, who is coming to visit next week.  Then Paige has Nutcracker rehearsal and Clay has youth group at the church...

Last night at dinner, my beautiful, extremely intelligent daughter proved once again that she is a NATURAL blonde!  She was telling Clay about our girl's day out and lunch at P.F. Chang's and she said, "I had the honey chicken and...what was it called, Mom?  Eye Drop Soup?"  Mmmm Hmmm. We all just stared at her.  Then this morning she asked Clay if Michigan had a football team.  Clay's mouth dropped open in astonishment and he just shook his head in consternation.  Ahhh, Paigey.  :-))

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday stuff....

Tim suggested that Paige and I plan to have a "girl's day" every Friday - as both incentive and reward for Paige.  Hmm....and me too!!  So today Paige worked from 8:30 until 11:00, and then the girls headed to St. John's Town Center for lunch at  P. F. Chang's, and a visit to Target, and then to Costco.

We had a lot of fun talking and giggling - and the boys enjoyed our leftovers when we got home!

I am so excited about the time change this weekend.  The photo below is what it looks like when I we drive Clay to school in the mornings at "O-dark-thirty"....I am hoping that the sun will at least be thinking about making an appearance when we leave in the mornings next week! It will make it so much easier to get going.  For everyone.

And, finally...the photo du jour of Gus.  It is so funny how babies can just drop off at the drop of a hat.  Deep Sleep!  I tried to get a photo earlier when I found him in an interesting sleep position, but naturally he woke up as soon as I turned the camera on.  Apparently, he was busy licking, um....himself...ahem....with his leg cocked over the top of his head when he lulled himself to sleep.  There he was - sound asleep, head between his  __________ rear leg cocked over his get the picture.  What a funny boy!

Tonight is "family night"....we are having grilled halibut for dinner, and then we are going to watch Transformers en famille.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

With thanks to T.S. Eliot

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter.....

...When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
the reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his Name:
His ineffable, effable,
deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Gus is the Cat at the theatre door.
His name, as I ought to have told you before
is really Asparagus. That's such a fuss
to pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paige's new school!

For those who are wondering how Paige's new school is working out - it's working out quite well. So far, anyway! The photo shows the new classroom (kitchen table) and Paige reading something in her Science book before answering some questions. I am enjoying spending a bit more time with my sweet girl, and there are a few perks as well....

*Please notice the glass sitting in front on Miss Paige on the table. That is a smoothie I made for her for a snack.

*Yesterday we took a break to make homemade applesauce together. While it simmered in the crockpot scenting the house with yummy apple cinnamon smells, Paige did some more work, I checked the previous day's work - and we all had applesauce for an after school snack. When Clay got home he said, "I want to be homeschooled too if I get to make applesauce." HaHa!

*The best perk of all though is that I can cuddle and hug her ANY TIME! Often I will walk past the table and just lean down and give her a kiss on the top of her head. Unlike my older child, Paige is still a cuddle bug.

Paige is working very hard, getting a lot accomplished, and I think she is enjoying it. She especially loves the Art History course. Anyway, I think we are off to a good start. I think she has learned more this week than she did in the entire nine weeks at the other school!

On another note - I don't know if any of you followed the story of the little 7 year old girl who was abducted walking home from school and found happened here so it has been big news here. Yesterday was little Somer's funeral, and I was watching the coverage on the news last night. I cried. Somer's favorite color was purple and her mother had asked people to bring balloons to release after the service. Kingsley Avenue was packed with people standing along the road, wearing purple and holding purple balloons. As her body passed in the limo, everyone released their balloons. Orange Park High School released the students from 5th period to stand outside and honor her as her body passed. It was just overwhelming to see the video of all those people releasing the purple balloons. My heart breaks for her mother - I cannot imagine what she has been through this past week. Also, of course, everyone here is worried because there is a child killer out there. I hope they catch this monster soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weekend update, Part 2:

OK, I know ya'll are all gonna think we are crazy people the way we go through pets - but....

One thing that we have learned is that if it isn't working, it isn't working. And Sushi wasn't working out. We got her for Paige, and she sure was a beautiful cat - but there were a few issues with her. First, there was the food issue. She was a PIG! And Chloe (my kitty) was starving. Then there was the poop issue. Enough said. We'll just leave it at that! Then there was the fact that she just wasn't really very affectionate - and Paige really wanted a kitty to snuggle and cuddle with. And finally, the dealbreaker. She was mean to Chloe. Really mean. Attacked her constantly. Poor Chloe was extremely stressed out and losing clumps of fur. So anyway, Sushi had to go back to the (no kill) shelter she came from. I'm sure they will be able to find her a nice home - she really is a gorgeous cat.

Naturally, Paige was quite upset. So....we had to promise to get her another kitty. And we did! Isn't he just the cutest thing you ever saw? Well, OK, not cuter than Princess Chloe (C'mon!!) - but.....

He is the sweetest thing. If you touch this little guy, he starts purring! Paige loves him. He sleeps in her room all curled up by her head, purring all night long. She is calling him Oliver, but I don't know if that will stick. I am calling him Pooter. Ummm.....hmmmm......his little digestive system is still working out the kinks.....(TMI???)

Weekend update:

Weekend update - hahaha....that makes me think of Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon on SNL....

This time last year, our weekends were absolutely crazy with us running Paige back and forth downtown for Nutcracker rehearsal. I LOVE our weekends now! They are exactly what weekends should be - nice and lazy. Now that Paige is taking dance (and doing a local Nutcracker) 5 minutes away - taking her involves zipping over, dropping her off, and then being able to come back home and make dinner or read a book....

Clay didn't make the cut for the high school soccer team. He wasn't devastated though - I think he was prepared. We feel like it might be a blessing in disguise, because he will now be able to concentrate more on taekwondo. And school. Hopefully.

Clay decided this weekend to take Thomas the Turtle for a walk. He thought that "poor Thomas" wasn't getting enough exercise. Thomas is a yellow bellied slider that Clay caught in the lake in his cast net about 4 years ago, when he was about the size of a quarter. (Thomas, not Clay!) Thomas has (obviously) grown a bit since then. And been through a few tanks! (He kept outgrowing them!) I must say though that Thomas is my favorite pet. Look up low maintenance pet in the dictionary and you will see a photo of Thomas! Anyway, my funny son took Thomas out in the yard and "walked" him.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What's new:

I know I have mentioned before the many, many problems we were having with Paige's school. She has been very bored - she has done most of the work before, so it was like a review for her. We found the homework assignments to be remedial - stuff she did in ELEMENTARY school. We knew that it just wasn't working. We also knew that we would not be able to send her to the private school she used to attend, so we have been researching other options. We have decided to homeschool her. I know!! I can't believe it either!! BUT - we have found a distance learning program through the Calvert School. Paige will use their curriculum, we will follow their lesson plans, we send the tests to THEM to be graded, and they will maintain transcripts for her. Their curriculum is secular, and seems to be similar to what she did last year at St. Johns. Yesterday was Paige's last day at Lakeside Junior High, and her materials arrived yesterday.
Her new textbooks and workbooks....
Lesson one in the lesson manual.

Wish me luck!

By the way - Tim and I have been leaning towards doing this for a while. We are NOT homeschooling for religious reasons. We are doing this strictly for academic reasons. This is not a rash decision we are making. A lot of thought and research has gone into this decision. If there were another option, we would be taking it. There isn't. Those of you who live up north with good school systems have no idea how bad Florida's schools can be!! Trust us on this. There is no comparison. Having said that, I have to say that we are pleased, so far, with Clay's high school. He is in all honors classes (and one AP class) and HE seems to be challenged. Socialization? Hmm....well, Paige takes dance twice a week, is on a dance team, takes taekwondo, takes tennis, and is involved with the church youth group. She'll be fine.

Now that I have gotten all of the defensive arguments out of the way...Paige and I are both looking forward to this. She is SO READY to learn!! I am looking forward to being able to spend more time with her. We are both hoping that she and her grandmother will be able to take an art class together once a week. And really? I don't think I can do worse than what she has been getting....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another gratuitous sunrise picture (By the way, I had already been awake for almost two hours when this was taken. Boo.)

What's happening today:
- Tim is heading to Brussels for a 3 day trip.
- Clay has day two of soccer tryouts.
- Paige has dance from 5-8:30.
- Clay doesn't finish w/ soccer until 4:30. Ish.
- Lisa hasn't figured out how to be in two places at the same time.

Also on the agenda for moi: A run to Costco (maybe), laundry, call Clay's school to complain about his English teacher who keeps giving him zeroes for work he has done. AND who yells at him. Apparently this behavior is not confined just to my son. When he told me this my first thought was whether he was being a smart-alec or goofing off, but other parents have told me their child is having the same problems, so.....I'm calling the school. Also, treadmill, sweep and mop the floors because I am tired of feeling grit on my feet. Thankfully, I have done lots of cooking the past couple of days so I won't need to make dinner. Dinner shall be leftover chili or leftover veggie soup. Ta Da!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Love this man!!

Didn't he look like Dennis the Menace?

Yesterday was a wonderful day. My dear husband took the kids to church for me (they had to acolyte) so that I could play hooky. Then he took them off to the Orange Park Fall Festival. Then he took Paige to Nutcracker rehearsal and Clay to youth group at church. And picked them both up. I had NO responsibilities! It was delightful!

What did I do with my day of freedom? I made a crockpot of chili, then went to Staples, Target, and the farmer's market. I dawdled. I played on facebook. I read a book. I only thought about myself!!! It was wonderful. Tim rocks!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Soccer - VK style

Saturday afternoon family soccer game. Van Kuiken style. What that means is we play by traditional soccer rules. Plus we make a few up! It started as Mom and Dad vs. Clay and Paige. But I quickly realized that me + running + the crocs I was wearing = I became the "team photographer"!
Tim introduced the kids to the famous "Pretend you are a pregnant lady" play....
And the "pretend you are a hunchback" play....
A couple of times during the "game" Paige would stop, scratch her head, and exclaim, "Wait a minute! Who's team am I on?"....
Tim and Paige celebrate after the successful "pretend you are a pregnant lady" goal!
Eventually the soccer game morphed into a type of volleyball/soccer....hmmm....
Wacky? Oh yes!

But fun? Most definitely.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's fall, y'all!

I actually took this sunrise photo yesterday - I didn't get one today because...TA DA!! I slept until 8:30!!! PAST the sunrise! It felt wonderful!!! We woke up to crisp, cool, FALL LIKE weather. I think today's high temperature will only be around 69-70.

Tim got home last night. Aaah. He has been gone the past 9 out of 11 days. I am thrilled because he will be here Monday to do the "O-Dark-Thirty" morning shuttle service to high school. :-D

Here are my plans for the weekend, in no particular order:
* open up some windows and get some fresh, fall air in the house
* Make some chili!
* Go to Chamblin's Bookmine (THE most fabulous used bookstore, ever....)
* Office supply store for more printer ink
* Target run - for all the Target type stuff we need
* Help Paige clean out her bookshelves
* Nag Clay until he cleans out the turtle tank. Which was just done about a week ago. Someone caught a couple of fish in the creek and put them in the tank, which has clogged up the filter. Ahem.
* Make more granola. My family LOVES that stuff.
* Bake some cookies with the kids
* Go to the farmer's market tomorrow...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Welcome to my life....

Every morning I ask my precious, darling children if they have cleaned their room. "Yes Ma'am", they reply. I then ask if they turned all the lights off. "Yes Ma'am" they say. Are you SURE you left your bathroom and closet clean?" I ask. "Yes Ma'am" they say once again. Once they are gone, I go back to their rooms to gather dirty clothes and check to make sure the lights are off, etc. Because, remember, our house is for sale!! Here is what I find:
1. Lights left on. Bathrooms, closets, overheads, desk lights....etc. Almost ever day.
2. Clay's bathroom (photo above). The first question, naturally, is "Is this a clean bathroom?" I think not. The second question is, "Why does a 15 year old boy need so much *product* to get ready each morning?"
3. Paige's bathroom. Believe it or not, there IS a towel hook on the door.
4. Paige's bathroom, sink area. Again, this is NOT a clean bathroom.
5. Paige's closet. (With light on, of course!) Hmmmm......
6. Clay's closet. Also, with light left on.

Do you begin to understand why my blogs are filled with "I'm going to organize closets today" or "going to do some cleaning", etc. etc.

Calgon, take me away!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Meow. Rumble, rumble. Do you hear that? THAT is my stomach growling. Again. These people NEVER feed me. OK, ok, they give me a teeny, tiny, miniscule amount of food a couple of times a day - but, c'mon. Who can survive on that amount of food? And speaking of food - WHAT THE HELL are they feeding me? It tastes like cardboard (and yes, I DO know what cardboard tastes like. Haven't YOU ever attacked a cardboard box?) Low fat. Blech.

Sigh. Other than the starvation rations they have me on, I guess this place is OK. The girl person is nice. She is always kissing me and telling me how beautiful I am - who wouldn't enjoy that?? The other feline who lives here is pretty pathetic though. No claws. Seriously. Can you believe it? What a wimp. Whenever I try to play, she goes running to her "mama" whining and crying. Then they yell at me. Plus, I keep finding that other wimpy cat trying to EAT MY FOOD! Give me a break - I only get about 10 little pieces a day, I am SO not sharing!

I'm going to go see if I can make the other cat cry again. Or maybe find some food.


I have a confession to make. I LOVE these Skinny Cow Truffle Bars. I buy them and keep them in the freezer for when I get a chocolate craving. NO one else is allowed to have Mommy's Truffle Bars. It is a hard and fast rule in our house. I don't eat them every day...but when I DO get a chocoholic craving - they had BETTER be in there. This morning as I was gathering dirty clothes to do a load of laundry, I found....
EXHIBIT A in my teenage son's (aka "The bottomless pit) bathroom. I also found...
EXHIBIT B in his bedroom.

We'll call the top photo - the EMPTY box of my precious truffle bars - EXHIBIT C.

Guess who is in BIG trouble?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another day, another...

...eagle on the boathouse. I absolutely, positively NEVER get tired of watching and listening to these guys!
..egret in the weeds. I have to be super-stealthy paparazzi to get photos of them...hence the view through the weeds.
...boring photo of the weeds blooming in the creek. (Still, I think they're pretty!) of a hibiscus bloom.
...St. Francis in my herb garden. Click on the photo to see the little lizard sitting on his arm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My exciting day....

On the agenda for today: Laundry
Plant the herbs which I bought the other day and then forgot were in the back of my van. For two days. Oops. I babied them and talked nicely to them and they recovered somewhat, but MUST go in the herb garden today!
Clean all the bathrooms. I love the smell of pine-sol!

Also, do the soccer, ballet, taekwondo shuttle service.

Woo Hoo.
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