Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Santa Baby

At the Foothill Elementary Craft Fair, the girls had a somewhat uneasy visit with Santa, who they recognized as Mr. Thomason (a family friend). I think they didn't really know whether they should share their lists, or confess their Christmas wants and prayers with their friend's dad. Poor Billy couldn't even get his own kids to go along...they got a little perturbed by the whole thing.

Ah well. I thought he made a great Santa. Especially with those cowboy boots! ;-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Soccer Stars!

Well, you might infer from the title that we had a victorious All Star game. Alas, we did not. We were simply outplayed. In fact, the whole league was outplayed. We won one of eight games. Yikes. But the girls did seem to enjoy the game, played well, and took the loss in stride, which made me proud.

Here are some dynamite pictures taken by C&C Photography in conjunction with team photos.

NOW you see why I called them soccer stars? Yeah...they are stars to me!

Friday, December 9, 2011

What the heck?

That seems to be appropriate caption for this poor coach, as he deals with my girls in their tutus and shinguards.

The girls are practicing for the All Star game this Saturday, where we will play our mountain nemisis, Yosemite (really Oakhurst, but Yosemite High School is in Oakhurst, so it's ALMOST Yosemite). It will be the first time our girls play an all-girls game. Should be interesting!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Just a few extra pics from our formal family photo op. Because after we've worn out the men and the children and the dogs, we do have some fun with these...

Yes, we can entertain ourselves indefinitely!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Photo Time

Each year, Mark and I take a photo for our Christmas card. This year, we also took the opportunity to get one of the whole Kee clan. Actually, we got more than one, but you know how those things go...hard to get twelve people looking in the same direction at once, much less smiling!

I know what you may well be thinking: "Who was the photographer? Jax?"

No! My handy-dandy self timer!

Hey, if you've been good this year, maybe you'll get an autographed one in the mail! If you haven't been good, send a check or money order :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meet Jax

Well, we did it. We took the plunge. We have a new family member.

His name is Jax.

After all my angst about what kind of dog to get, and where to get it, things mysteriously fell into place from an unexpected direction.

My sister's neighbor used to breed English Laborador Retrievers. They are the "show" labs, smaller, blockier, and more calm than the American version. She had a female that she was considering breeding. Well, she did get bred, by some mystery dog. The litter was born in April, and my sister got one of the puppies. The owners kept one puppy for themselves...that was Jax. Ultimately, the owners felt like they weren't able to give him the time he deserved, and wondered if we might be interested. He is housebroken, trained, and a wonderful dog. You can see how pretty he is:

He is a little bigger and a little more furry than I would have ideally liked, but the socialization he's had is pretty wonderful. And the age is perfect. He has a good foundation, but is still young enough to have that addictive puppy sweetness. The girls are at the perfect age as well. They are taking the responsibility of pet ownership seriously, and are very engaged.

Once again in my life, I find myself crooning encouraging words for good and timely potties and poopoos. And I will surely be one of those people who is eternally coated with white hairs.

I'm OK with that!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Last game

Last weekend was the end of the soccer season. Our team, the Hornets, ended up in the #1 spot overall, which was exciting for the kids, including Mark. Many of the games were very close, which makes it so fun to watch. To me, it is also a testament to the teams being pretty evenly drafted, which pleases my sense of fair play. Our girls really picked up their game this season, and it was exciting to watch them grow. Here are a few shots from their last game, which unfortunately was a little one-sided. Abigail played offense, which was where most of the action occurred, so poor Mae, on defense, spent most of her time standing around.

Abigail dribbling up the field:

Mae getting ready for a big boot:

Abigail made some pretty spectacular moves during the game.

AND she made her first goal!

Coach Schlaefer gathers the players in:

And they give their final cheer for the season:

The girls have both been selected for the All Star team, which will play against Oakhurst on Dec. 10th. So...I guess my season as Soccer Mom isn't quite over yet!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall is a great time to go woodcutting. The weather is crisp, and motivation is high, because if you WANT wood for the winter, you'd better get it quick! My sister and my father both use wood for most, if not all their winter heating. Mark likes to get out there and help with the woodcutting, partly to be helpful, and partly because he just plain enjoys it. Last year, he smashed a fingertip, completely popping his fingernail out of its bed (very gross). This year, it was my brother-in-law's turn...he sliced his kneecap open with the chainsaw.

But other than that, boy is it fun. You can see the draw, right?

Mark and Scott were out a couple weeks ago, downing a dead tree and cutting it into rounds. As Mark was cutting the downed tree into 20" sections, Scott spotted something moving. They turned off the chainsaw and moved in for a closer look. Here's what they saw:

The center of the tree was hollow, and there was a little owl in there! This little guy just barely escaped getting chopped in half, but he still looked a little sleepy. Maybe he was stunned by the fall as the tree came down. Of course, the guys were also concerned that this might be the legendary spotted owl, which is endangered. Later research showed it to be a Western Screech Owl, common in these parts, and audible on any given summer night, when our windows are open. We were pretty positive of the ID after it flew away. It was about 10" tall, an excellent flyer (so presumably fully grown), with yellow irises and small "horns". Here it is in a tree:

We were all happy to see Mr. Owl fly away without incident, especially given our track record! And we collected enough wood to keep everyone warm and snuggly all winter. Looking forward to it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween in the Hills

Halloween and its associated challenges crept up all too soon this year. By challenges, I mean creating costumes, attempting to help room-mother parties, and negotiating the fine line between not enough and too many treats. Fortunately (for me), at least this is not an environment where the kids get a lot of high-density door-to-door trick-or-treating, so we don't have massive amounts of candy to deal with. I do have fewer problems than most, and for that, I am grateful!

Costumes are always my biggest challenge, and a lot of it is self-imposed. My kids come up with the concept, and then I have to figure out how to bring it to life. This year was actually a lot of fun. The girls told me they wanted to be a pickle and a cucumber. Now, isn't that a clever idea? In so many ways! They start the same, and end up as two very different things, don't they? Where did they come up with THAT?! As part of their concept, they planned that they would tell people "I'm not a pickle, I'm a cucumber!" and "I'm not a cucumber, I'm a pickle!" My sole contribution to the concept was to put these phrases on a sign of some sort, partly because I wasn't sure my final product would be identifiable as a pickle OR a cucumber! But I have to say...people DID seem to identify them, even before reading the sign, which warmed my heart. Here's what I came up with:

They had a parade at the school. Here they are, marching two by two behind their brave and groovy teacher, Mrs. Burton.

We had a little classroom party. We had four stations: The bag-making station, the spider-lollipop making station, the snack eating station, and the cookie decorating station. Here's Mae, putting big, furry legs on a lollipop:

I must say...my station was quite popular. It was the cookie decorating station. I even made the cookies MYSELF. FROM SCRATCH. Which means from more than two components. Not only were the cookies FROM SCRATCH, but they had sticks in them, like lollipops. They were not spectacular, but I grew to appreciate them more and more throughout the hour, because they were very, very practical.

I will not show you pictures of the children who, despite my warnings, piled the frosting so high that they slopped over in a drippy mess on the floor. That was not a happy time at my station. Fortunately, most of the kids were more interested in making a design, and happily enjoyed both creating and disposing of their designs in one sitting.

Saturday night, we attended a local carnival, replete with inflatables, kettle corn, haunted houses, and all kinds of costumes. In fact, I saw Jesus there. I think he even won a raffle prize. You'd think he'd let someone else win! Here are the kids in a contest where they strap on vests attached to the wall with a bungee cord. The goal is to put a velcro beanbag the furthest on the center divider. I won't say who won!

Tonight, a little pumpkin carving and car trick-or-treating should cap off this holiday, and we move our sights on to Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monterey Bay

We had a holiday Monday for Columbus Day, so after the soccer game Saturday morning, we packed up our gear and headed for the coast. We brought along two cousins, Megan and Scotty, for extra fun. Because we know that cousins add extra fun to everything! The plan was to headquarter out of Morgan Hill, and venture to the ocean and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Ever since we went there last spring on a field trip, the girls have been intent on re-visiting with Mark, who had never been.

We headed out to the aquarium, and were met at the door by a man with a jar...of sumthin. Which he wanted to share with us.

Turns out it was itty-bitty jellyfish!

We went inside to see bigger ones.

Notice the big, fat flash in this picture? It is so very, very disturbing when, in the darkness of the aquarium a flash goes off. How rude!

Yes, it was me. Accidentally.

It is so difficult to get good pictures in darkness of the aquarium. I'll have to take what I can get.

Here's Abigail with a sunfish growing out of her head.

Part of my school looking at another school. They had a juvenile great white shark! But I didn't get a picture of that.

Abigail and the anchovies. Her mouth is slightly open--sympathetic response as they open theirs to catch some plankton? Or just amazement.

And a true highlight...LIVE SAND DOLLARS!

They look very similar to dead sand dollars, but they are covered with a furry looking coating. And if you look very closely, they are moving vvveeeerrryyyy sssslllloooowwwwwllllyyyy. I found this to be very cool, indeed. Yes, I did. No great white pictures, but half a dozen of the sand dollars.

And that was our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Growing up in so many ways

Yes, this is going to be another one of those sappy, sentimental ramblings about how quickly the children grow. With a little data thrown in...because we all like data. Don't we? So data first, and then..."the reveal".

The girls seem to have stretched this summer, their limbs becoming long and slender, although still muscular. I admit, I find myself staring at these amazing creatures, just struck by the beauty I see developing in them. And trying desperately to treasure every moment of their childhood as they so rapidly evolve into more independent, self-sufficient little people. This "treasuring" may be translated into babying and spoiling...so be it. I'm OK with that.

This weekend, we quantified the speed of these changes the old-fashioned way...with the yardstick. What you see below is a piece of wood we have moved from house to house, and now have permanently mounted in our utility room. Check out Mae's growth from August to October:

Is this normal?

Here's Abigail:

Pretty much the same, although she is just over 1/2" shorter. What the heck??!!!

This week we also got school pictures back. So finally I am unveiling the haircuts from weeks ago. Drumroll please....

Do you see what I mean? It's NOT just me, is it?! They are growing up, despite my best efforts! And isn't it funny how somewhat out of character they seem on this particular day, with Mae so girly and Abigail so sporty?

Holy moley...I sure got my money's worth for school pictures this year, I feel!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yosemite: Day 2

Day 2 started with a wonderful pancake breakfast to fill our bellies, courtesy of our buddy Mike. Then we packed up our gear and ventured off toward El Capitan. We hiked in to the base, where Mark and Mike looked longingly up at the climbs.

We entertained ourselves at length helping the kids start the climb, only to insist that they immediately climb down. Yes, we are deeply conflicted.

Next, we headed toward Sentinel Dome. Here is a cool pic from loomisadvetures.com:

Sentinel Dome is a large, stone cap atop a mountain at the edge of Yosemite Valley. Don't you just look at it and think "I just gotta climb that...and bring the kids too!" Yeah. Me too.

The hike is mild, about a mile long, but the destination is exposed and windy, and on this day, pretty chilly. After a few minutes, the kids all sought refuge in a sheltered spot among the bushes. You can kind of see three little blobs in the left side of this photo.

On the crest of the dome is what remains of a famous tree from an Ansel Adams photo. This photo, from berkeley.edu, shows the original tree, and a later, dead version.

This is how it looks today, with five people sitting on it:

Our last adventure was a trip to Glacier Point, for another perspective on the valley from above. Although not as exposed, the kids still find the hidey-holes mighty attractive:

And Mark and I took the time to get a pic with just us...as a couple. Kind of strange!

Hope you enjoyed our trip, and remember..."Speeding kills bears"!