We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Babies everywhere!

             Another great day.  I always love Thursdays, going into the little one's classrooms and trying to help out where I can...today, I was in Autumn's class, where her teacher, Casey Rudzena, continues to amaze me with her integration of technology into her learning plan and the delivery of her teaching, the enthusiasm - I know she is giving Autumn and her class a huge edge on the learning curve!  I got to see Autumn deliver her current event on last week's earthquake on the east coast - wide eyed as she told her classmates that all of her relatives live back there, careful to disclose that Cody, Antonio and myself live here, though.  Her bright blue eyes sparkling as she let the class know about the magnitude of the quake, but, thankfully, there were no fatalities...it was priceless...
             Now, Casey has about two more months to go before she has her baby, but she is not slowing down, having recently joined the Vail Choir and working on her second masters degree, while continuing to work at least 50 hours a week teaching!!  Amazing.
           Tonio is adjusting well to Mrs. Stevens taking over for Jenny Rienstra, who had her baby the day after our home visit on Monday and is doing well...
           So, the big thrill and honor for us today, was going to meet Brinley Montes!!  Mary (Tonio's and Autumn's kindergarten teacher) and her family have been so inspirational to ours since we started at Cottonwood with Cody 10 years ago.  Her sister, Ami, had Cody all those years ago and Kim and I enjoyed that year so much (washing away her fears of the public school system!).  They have been like extended family to us, encouraging, upbeat, and so good for the bambini.  Mary sure had a lot of patience with a young Antonio who needed to get his wiggles out!!  Why, they even volunteered to help with opening day at Kohl's when I opened that building back in 2003!!  What a crazy day that was!
          Kim really enjoyed the year she got to be a parapro assistant with Mary the year Tonio was in kindergarten.  She'd always come home, so impressed with Mary's patience and teaching abilities, giving me specific examples to clarify her point.  Mary has said, during her whole pregancy and birth of Brinley, that she felt the calming presence of Kim, her angel.  That has meant a lot to me...I know Kim would have been  is so happy for Mary and Emilio.
         Mary remembered that first day we brought Antonio into her classroom, how we were gushing that it was the first time we'd be alone since Cody was born and that we were going to lunch together.  A date. We were so excited, but it sure felt funny not having the bambini with us.  I told her that we went to Mama's Pizza, not far from Mary and Emilio's...it was such a nice lunch - we talked the whole time, but, I swear I never took my eyes off our Kim's face the entire time we were there...what a great memory that is...
         You know, Mary and Emilio are not your typical first time parents - these two look like seasoned pros.  Mary immediately offered to allow Tonio and Autumn to hold Brinley.
                    Tonio looked a little apprehensive, but Mary was able to help keep him calm and Brinley sure didn't mind!
                                  Autumn was thrilled to have the chance to hold Brinley!  Again, Mary and Emilio did not at all seem like your typical, nervous, first time parents!  Look at that gorgeous head of hair on little Brinley!  She is such a beautiful bambina!!
                                Emilio let us know that he had ordered some Bengals onsies for Brinley so she'd be ready to root for his favorite team come kick off of the regular season!!  He had the Bengals/Colts preseaon game on (I envied his flat screen, wall mounted t.v. with all of its high def glory!) - cool as a cucumber.

Emilio and Mary have such a great, positive attitudes - they are going to great parents!!  Even their english bulldog, Rocco, has that parental instinct, being so careful around the baby and protective.  We made sure to give Rocco plenty of loving while we were there, too.  And Mary hooked the kids up with some of her favorite blonde oreos - did they eat half a bag of them??

It was a nice way to end our day and we were glad to see Mary doing so well and Emilio having instantly adjusted to fatherhood -I can't say enough about how special they are and how happy we are for them -  they are always great to see and we look forward to having Mary back at Cottonwood!

Who's next?  Anabelle Pearson, another kindergarten teacher who was there when Cody started kindergarten is pregnant, too!!  Lots of blessings coming the way of our Cottonwood family and we have Angie's daughter, Kim's, baby to look forward to in just about a month!!  Wow, where did that time go (although it probably seems longer to Kim than for us!)?

After Kim and I had Antonio, I realized that if we had started having kids younger...we'd probably have ended up with five or so!!  They are so fun!!  It is true, the kids keep us young...


A Day Off

                  My day's off with Kimmy were a special thing.  It did not matter what we did.  We did it together.  Typically, we just had a lot of running to get done, before the bambini finished school, knowing that, bringing them along would just mean a longer day that was more costly, as well.
                 I had off today, and the kids had a half day....
                I dropped them off at Cottonwood at 7:30...ish.  Yes, we were tardy, which I turned into a something of a song for the Perrini's, who hailed us as we ran down the sidewalk, waving our arms and screaming 'We are TARDY!'...
               ...I brought a book with me.  "Mr. Peanut" by Adam Ross.  A dark comedy of sorts, where bad things happen to mediocre people.  I was on my way to get the Expedition (great white whale - made to order by middle eastern oil moguls) emissions tested...
               ...I arrived at 8:00 and the lines to the 4 bays snaked out into the street - I was glad I brought my book!  As I neared the cavernous entrance to bay # 3, I took notice of the young men working inside.  There is no hustle in this environment.  Most of them wear protective glasses, but nothing to protect them from fumes.  It does have high ceilings and exhaust fans, but still, the thick car fumes must be intoxicating and judging from the banter and antics, I was not very far off.  I estimated that during their 8 hour shift, some form of mutation had to be occurring as they drank in the toxicity...but, I passed and I immediately stopped caring as I drove off to Office Max to by card stock for Kimmy's Foundation Fall fundraiser (more on that later...not tonight though)...
                   Card stock in hand, I encountered my first dilemma...Jack in the Box for breakfast or Jamba Juice...I opted, at the last minute, for the healthy choice and I was pleasantly surprised that for less than 5 bucks, I enjoyed their awesome very berry oatmeal and a Mega Mango (Kimmy's favorite drink, that I got for her nearly every day that she was in the hospital)...I am now on a first named basis with the manager, Devin.  'How are the kids?' he asked as I entered...Clamoring for Jamba Juice I told him...
                   I gassed up and donated $70 to those very same middle easterners that I mentioned above.
                   Then, I went by the local Enteman's bread outlet, where I 'stole' two overflowing bags of bread products for $10 bucks.  Damn.  The cashier seemed to be spewing an endless litany of savings that I would enjoy.  Double punches Wednesday.  Free item cuz I spent more than $7 bucks.  Oh, Boboli?  Half price today...on and on.  God bless her.
                  As I was leaving, I got a text from my friend Karen, who happened to be at the beach in N.J. (not the 'shore', the beach dammit).  She had found Tastyklairs.  Which I had eaten daily in high school.  'You should receive them by Friday and eat each one as if it was your last!'  she told me.  I will.  I cannot say how many years it has been, but I look forward to Friday.  If you haven't ever had one and are east coast based (and have electricity - my Dad has been without since Saturday!!), get one.  If you are out here, look me up and I'll share a bite with you.  They are that good.
                 I headed west on Broadway to Toys R Us.  I had called ahead at 9:00 a.m. to see if they had a particular item in stock.  The lady who answered listened politely to my request and told me "you'll have to call back.  We don't open until 9:30.".  Fine.  Then next time don't answer the phone.  I did not drop my name to try to get early help.  I snuck in the Babies R Us side, got my item (which I cannot reveal Mary, because I won't see you until tomorrow!), and got back out, having a chance to visit with Nydia, who worked there way back when I managed that building over 8 years ago...
               On to Fry's at 22nd and Harrison.  I generally avoid shopping at the Rita Ranch location, if I can at all help it...I picked up all sorts of topping for the Boboli...so the bambini could make their own pizzas later!!
               Time was slipping away and it was time to get to Cottonwood!!  I literally got the last spot in the parking lot and damn near melted in the 108 degree heat with 80% humidity as I walked up to the front door and burst into the main office to wait for the bell...only, there is no bell on half days!  I scooped up the little ones, who, by the way, did have a great day!  We drove over to Desert Willow to pick up Andrea's girls, Lexy and Breanna, parking illegally on the loop to avoid the parking lot snarl.  After a quick stop at Andrea's so the girls could change, we ran over to Cienega H.S. to get Cody.  And, speaking of parking lots, you would think after a kajillion years of schools being open, that someone could design a parking lot that had decent traffic flow...
                Cody had a ton of homework to do, so we dropped him at our house and made our way to Viro's for lunch. 
                To say the kids were hungry, would be an understatement.  They ate great!!  TonioBreanna a nice turkey sandwich.  Incredibly, the best cappuccino maker at Viro's, Breanna (no relation to our Breanna) walked in with two of her sisters as we sat down.  She saw us, came over and offered to create one of her magical drinks for me!!  Rose and Vito also came out to be with us.
             After the kids devoured this feast..Breanna got them all gelato - the biggest gelato's I've ever seen!!  It is soooo good, but I didn't get any for me, just sat back and waited...sure enough, Lexy could not go on and offered me her tiramisu and mint chocolate chip gelato, which was delicious. 
            I asked them what they'd like to do when we finished up eating...they were torn between a movie or going to Target.  So, we swung by the theaters, found nothing playing at the moment and opted for Target - these guys are good shoppers!  Then to Redbox for a couple of videos...and back to our house.
            Here's the amazing thing.  We had just spent several hours eating, shopping, driving around and the kids were having so much fun together...but, when we got home, they agreed to knock out their homework for me and proceeded to do so...I was blown away...
            By 6:00, they were ready to build some Boboli pizza's!!! 
Breanna's is the one in the forefront - all pepperoni, a dab of black olives and mozz (of course I made the sauce!), Lexy's is back left, pepperoni and mozz and Aut's is back right, mozz, black olives and red bell peppers (Antonio decided on mozz and pineapple!)...they were fun to watch building these creations and ate them up!  Andrea arrived as they were finishing with some incredible chocolate chip cookies (my kryptonite)...
....Cody and I finished off the night with a little quality time, watching the latest Jason Statham movie to hit DVD 'Blitz'...it did not fail us.  Statham plays a tough cop dispatched to take down a serial killer who has been targeting police officers.  The bad guy reminded me of Gary Oldman's character in 'The Professional' (one of Kimmy's favorites!  She loved Natalie Portman in that one).  Best line? "If you are picking the wrong fight, at least pick the right weapon!". 

Well, it turned out to be a good day.  Even though it was a lot of running.  I'm used to it and enjoyed the days spent with Kimmy in this fashion!!

                     And here we have a shot of Jenny and Nick Rienstra's (Tonio's teacher) little blessing, Nathan!!  All 8lbs 9oz and 22 inches of him!!  We were all excited for them!!

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." Psalms 127:3


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


                   I've had some dreams.  Maybe not as many as I'd like to have had, but, you know, I feel like any that I do have are a bonus. I'm sure Kimmy's busy up there - no surprise!  I've read somewhere that the dreams that stick with you, that do not fade, are visitations.  I like that idea.  I have six now, that are as clear as the night that I had them.  They are precious to me.
                   I love when people come up to me and tell me they had a Kimmy dream.  Especially when they can remember the details and vividly tell me about it.  Her niece, Niki, recently emailed me that she had a nice dream that Kim was in, and just the feeling of peacefulness that she experienced when she awoke.  Kim had that way...
                    Lupe and I talked tonight about angels.  She recently heard a program that said that when you wake up between 3-4 a.m., it is your angel checking in on you.  I like that idea, too.  And, I seem to be awake many nights between those exact hours.
                 Last night, in fact.  I had such a dream...and, I woke up at 303 (good band out of Boulder, Colorado, coincidentally), not sure what had woken me up - the dream still so real that I could touch it, feel it, believe it...and I walked the entire house searching...

                  Let me know if you've been dreaming...

                Got some great news tonight, when Mary Montes called to let me know that Jenny Rienstra had her baby, Nathan tonight!!  8lbs 9ozs 22 inches long.  Linebacker, or tight end?  Either way, we are so happy for her and her family!!  Tonio was so excited, when, we received word from Jenny this morning before 6 a.m. that her water had broken at 1:45 a.m. and she was in the hospital waiting for Nathan to arrive.  Congratulations!!
                Funny thing was, during her home visit last night, she felt that she was going to go the distance (9/9) and possibly beyond.  She said she felt great.  Maybe it was something in the fruit salad I made her.  Or the marinara sauce...?  Either way, we are glad she and her baby are doing great!
                The sweetest thing, while talking to Mary, I could hear Brinley making the cutest noises in the background!!

                The bambini and I just stepped out to say goodnight to Kimmy.  We thanked her for watching over us...and baby Brinley and Nathan...The clouds were phenomenal, swirling together in a tight circle around the Big Dipper...Thanks Kimmy.


"Give encouragement to each other and keep strengthening each other..." Thes 5:11

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Home Visit

        One of my favorite things about the Vail School District, is the teacher home visit.  The teacher sets up a time to come spend an hour or so with the child at their home.  The child gets to set the agenda.  Over the years, I have seen the bambini's teachers ride Power Wheels Harley Davidsons (Ami Bunch!), have a full course meal with our family (Mary Montes), play pinball (multiple), soccer (Ami again), go to movies (Casey Rudzena), but mostly hang out and play board games with the kids while Kim whipped up some fantastical snack for them to enjoy. 
      The thing I love about this program, is, the child gets to interact with their teacher in their own home, a comfortable setting.  I feel it helps build a bond and gives the teacher more insight on how to teach our children, a better understanding of them and what makes them tick.  Also, how fun for the child to get to dictate what games or activities they get to do with their teacher!  And, what snack Kim would create for them...
       Cody would normally have her make her famous cheese cake brownies.  She as made profiteroles (Italian cream puffs drizzled with dark chocolate).  Limoncello bars. Cakes.  And many other exotic dishes.
        Today, we had the pleasure of having Tonio's teacher, Jenny Rienstra, over to our house.  Jenny's countdown continues - 10 mores days until her due date and she is doing great!  Still possessing a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and energy!  She had been to our house once before, when Autumn had her for a teacher. 
        I decided it would be best to ask her what she'd like for a snack.  Being pregnant and all, I thought there may be food she's avoiding (indigestion) and perhaps foods that she is craving.  I feel like she let me off easy - 'fruit salad'.

                                            I did my best to at least Kim it up a bit!  Raspberries, blueberries, grapes, water melon balls (Jenny noticed that I used the melon baller tool thingy!), honey dew and peaches (from Colorado!  They are so good!!  Thanks Angie!).

             Tonio was so excited to have Jenny over, he could barely contain himself!  'When is she coming?  How much longer?'  He was also excited because he had another great day in school!  Jenny has him so pumped up and feeling proud of himself - he loves to tell me about his day, now.
             Tonio decided to play Kerplunk with Jenny.  They played multiple games - Tonio thoroughly enjoying himself.  He showed her his Lego creations (especially proud of the Space Shuttle that Janene gave to him for his birthday).  Then, it was snack time.  Tonio put mounds of whipped cream on top of his fruit salad!!

                                 Tonio's pretty much hogging the whole container of whipped cream!

                 And, when it was time for her to go, I packed up a container of freshly made marinara (yes, Kim's recipe!), some angel hair pasta, salad (in a bag) and a big loaf of bread from Viro's.  Jenny fondly remembered when Kimmy had made her a dinner to take home with her when Aut was in third grade - chicken piccata.  Kim would say, 'these teachers work hard all day.  It's a long enough day as it is, and here they are doing home visits (Jenny had three today) and then they have to go home and cook dinner?  No.'  So she would make the piccata.  Or the marsala.  Or the vodka or bolognese sauce.  Or the marinara, which I decided to make for Jenny and her husband Nick.
                Antonio had a great visit!!  Thanks Jenny!!  He even got his homework done quickly for me because he was so excited for his visit and didn't want to have to do it later after Jenny had left.  Now, he is reading the newest 'Magic Treehouse' book to me - Jenny complimented him on being able to take the accelerated reading tests now that he has more time to read - since she helped him catch up on all of his school work.  He is motivated!!


Random Bits:
                We went outside to say goodnight to Kim and found this hairy guy was crawling up the wall on the back porch next to our back door!!
               Bella takes herself for a walk in our living room!  Kim sure knew what she was doing when she picked us out this girl!  She is high spirited, high energy and keeps us all laughing.  She loves her kids so much, too!         

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Winnie the Pooh

Sometimes, I get the urge to write about a particular memory or period of time - and I know that I have photos to share with you.  But, sometimes I can't seem to locate them in time to get the blog written and out of my system!  And, other times, it seems, I stumble across more of Kimmy's hidden cache's throughout our house, that, incidentally, has no basement and no true attic...none the less, Kimmy found ways to improvise!

                                  The above photo is my favorite of Aut and Lexy from dance.

                                        Here's a shot of Autumn, who found the highly polished wooden surface of the stage just a bit too slippery for the dance moves she was executing.  A sympathetic Mr. Frank assists her.  Lexy is to the left of the stage being held hostage!  I was so glad to have found these photos, well, actually, Autumn found them while cleaning her room!

                           Today, the bambini talked me into taking them to Mass at St. Pius - Autumn wore a dress.  I can't remember the last time she would.  But, last week at Kim's Mass, Lexy and Breanna both wore dresses and I think Autumn was impressed.  Kim so loved her to wear dresses.  So, I surprised her with one the other day and she loved it!

                      She looked so sweet!  Thanks Lexy and Breanna for making Autumn feel comfortable wearing a dress!!  I had to find one that covered her shoulders, though - she will not show her shoulders!

                    Later, we took Lexy, Breanna, Autumn and Tonio to see the new Winnie the Pooh movie.  Now, Kim loved Disney in general, but, she had always had a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh.  Especially Eeyore.  I would get her different Eeyore statues and stuffed animals when we were younger.  When we made it to Disney World, she always needed to get her photo taken with Eeyore.  I bought her Eeyore earrings there.  Same thing in Disneyland, where I bought her an Eeryore sweatshirt on a night that was suddenly colder than expected, following the plunge on Splash Mountain! 
                  When she was pregnant with Cody, I bought her a giant stuffed Eeyore.  With Autumn, a giant stuffed Tigger.  And Tonio, a giant stuffed Pooh bear. 
                  And, we had all of the Winnie the Pooh movies, initially on VHS and then on DVD.  The kids would watch them over and over, tirelessly...and anytime a new one came out in the theatres, we'd go as a family to see it.
                When they started to advertise for the newest Winnie the Pooh movie, right away Autumn and Tonio both said they had to see it.  Tonight, we finally made it there...
                 All of the kids thoroughly enjoyed it.  They seem to follow the same general recipe in all of their movies - Eeyore loses his tail.  The animals try to help.  At some point, Christopher Robin needs to go away and leaves them a note.  Owl misinterprets the note and they think he's been captured by a terrible monster!  But, in the end, they figure it out and everything is ok.  Good stuff.  They even recycle a lot of the same lines - like when Pooh needs to come up with an idea, he says 'think, think, think!'.  This was a Kimmy mantra...she used it to solve many a problem around our house.  This movie would have warmed her heart and made her chuckle along with Lexy, Breanna, Aut and Tonio!!
               It warmed mine to see these little ones enjoying it, and each other's company, so much...