Happy Halloween!

costume8 Peter Pan, Men in Black and Eloise

Today’s post is nothing but some of my favorite costume pics. Some of you submitted some great pics. Most of you completely ignored my request. That means more pics of my kids. Your welcome.

costume23 Going retro for this little Swiss Miss and her “Native” friend.(That’s my mother on the left)

costume22Sydney’s first real Halloween. Why yes, I did hand make those “ears”

costume25 This is me and my “Mother Nature.” I am some sort of knight I believe. The beauty of tinfoil.

samfisher1Sam’s son Beck is a ninja. With that avocado and the butcher knife, he looks more like a “fruit ninja” to me.

costume40One of my all-time favorites. Sydney as Gandalf the Grey, and her friend Alex as Aladdin

melissagarrett2Melissa’s boys as Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat. Seriously adorable.

costume32I don’t know this man, but I have been trying for months to convince my husband to dress as Khaleesi from Game of Thrones

costume20Nathan as Anakin Skywalker, Zoe as Minnie Mouse, parker as Tigger and Sydney as Marilyn Monroe


lesliewebbLeslie’s boys as cat burglars. They will take your candy when you’re not looking

costume34Alex as a whoopie cushion, Matt as a samurai warrior and Sydney as a very blonde Dorothy

costume38Zoe and Rylie as cats. Not the Jellicle kind. (For more info see http://kbjackson.com/cats-you-either-love-them-or-hate-them/ )

We have a few Harry Potters

samfisher3She’s actually technically not Harry, but “Luna”

lesliewebb2 “Recycled Harry Potter”

cantusmileharrypdoesntsmile“Harry Potter doesn’t Smile”

costume12Deedee Doodle Moe Doodle and A Storm Trooper? As you can tell from the Doodlebops costumes, this was a difficult time in my life.

costume19Knight, Cheshire Cat and Tinkerbell

melissagarrett1 Extra Super Superheroes


The year Parker started embracing his inner villain.

A couple years ago, he decided he wanted to go as Doofenschmirtz from “Phineas and Ferb.” But he couldn’t just go as Doofenschmirtz, he had to go as “2nd Dimension” Doofenschmirtz.



melissagarrett3hard to be afraid of these two clowns

samfisher2Mitt Zombie (a 2012 classic)


costume35Not his real mustache


Wonder Woman


costume24My hottie mother circa 1979


costume7Pebbles Flintstone

costume2A very serious Man in Black

costume1Will always be one of my favorite pictures. Ever. Parker refused to wear the legit Harry Potter glasses. Those are Nerf gun glasses. Zoe as Bethany from Soul Surfer

imageLast night’s soccer practice was lots of fun

imageNotice the Coach- Robin. As he went to block a goal in their scrimmage and missed with the slide tackle he called out “If I had been Batman I would have stopped the ball!”

Happy trick or treating tonight! And stay safe!

A Turtly Awesome 10th Birthday In Parrotdise (Hawaii Part 2)


In my hurry to get part one written, I missed a couple of things, as well as several typos. So allow me to back up a bit before we venture into Zoe’s birthday.

Saturday after I got back from the store I suggested we head down to the International Marketplace. I was bummed to find out that the marketplace, one of my favorite places to go in Waikiki, is slated to be closing at the end of the year. Rumor has it, it will be replaced by a store I would be uncomfortable shopping in, like Sak’s 5th Ave.

We walked down the beach instead of the sidewalk because I thought it would be a more scenic route than on the street. Jeff started seriously regretting his agreement to tag along. Zoe and Parker were having a difficult time resisting the urge to go into the water and walking on sand is deceptively difficult.


About halfway down the beach, we came across a man with a parrot stand. He had all sorts of tropical birds, and he was selling the opportunity to be photographed holding them in front of Diamondhead. His business? “Parrotdise Hawaii.” Get it? Parrotdise.  Zoe and Parker were intrigued, but a little skittish. The man was very patient and he convinced them to go along with these shenanigans.

He positioned them in the right spot, and then began placing birds on them.


See this man in the dark pants? He and his wife (right behind him) stopped to check out what was going on. Soon, the man began taking pictures of the man positioning the kids.


And just when I stepped out of range, missing what was surely to be my favorite picture of the day, the man shooed his wife into the scene, she popped up behind the kids and he snapped her picture. With my kids holding parrots.

The parrot man shouted something at them in Japanese and made them leave. I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. They only looked mildly chastised, mostly smug. I’m not sure if they just wanted pictures of the birds, or if it was a photo that would be captioned “look at these silly Americans paying money to hold a parrot.”

On my first trip to Hawaii when I was 10, my mom , my older sisters Shannon and Colleen and I were in the water at Waikiki beach when we noticed three Japanese men swimming in their tighty-whities and their white undershirts. One had a camera, and we noticed that the other two kept inching closer and closer to us so that the man with the camera could take a picture. Eventually they made enough charade-type hand gestures asking my mom if they could have their picture with us. So somewhere in Japan, someone has this photo. Not sure what they did with it, or the story they told their friends when they got back home.

The parrot man did a great job with the kids. The bird on Parker’s shoulder kept trying to eat his hair, and Zoe’s kept resting its head on her face. If you’re ever on Waikiki, it’s a fun way to get pics.



When we finally made it to the International Marketplace, Zoe was lured in by the Maui Divers booth, with their hairy oysters and pretty girls shouting “Aloha!” as excited customers waited to see what treasure was held within the slimy guts. We watched for a bit and then moved on, with Zoe glancing back longingly.

She talked me into getting her a fresh pineapple juice to drink- out of a pineapple. It was pretty sour, and the pineapple isn’t the easiest to lug around.


Parker got bored by the whole thing pretty quickly. The only thing he was interested in was a wooden tiki mask.


I said to Jeff, “Hey, if you want, there is a trolley that you can catch back to the hotel. Zoe and I can finish here and you can go now.”

Jeff responded, “That’s the smartest thing I’ve heard you say all day.”

After the boys left, Zoe, Grandma Toni and I went back to the pearl kiosk. Zoe had watched another lady do negotiations, so she walked up to the girl and said, “I want to make a deal.”

She laughed in surprise and  said, “well, what kind of deal are you looking to make?”

Zoe said she wanted to do two oysters for $6 instead of one for $12, and that she planned on making jewelry. She doesn’t get her negotiating skills from me.

So she looked over the oysters, and after long perusal, decided on two. She did the requisite tap 3 times, then made a wish and shouted “Aloha!”


The first oyster revealed twin purple-black pearls. The second was a giant white pearl. Although she loves turtles, she ended up putting the white pearl in a plumeria pendant. When the salesgirl discovered that Zoe’s birthday was the next day, she told her to pick one more oyster as her gift. It was another white pearl. It was a fun early birthday present.

Sunday the 13th was Zoe’s 10th birthday. When she woke up, she got to open her gifts and I made her requested breakfast of French toast and bacon. We had orange juice and POG (Passion orange guava juice) and fresh sliced pineapple.

After opening her gifts, we all got ready and loaded into the car for the journey up to the North Shore.

Our first stop was the Dole Plantation. I have a large fondness for the dole whip pineapple floats. We didn’t spend a lot of time there, but while we were there, this happened…



And then there was a bit of a scuffle. Check out Zoe’s face in the background of the pictures…


Nathan continued his attempt to avoid a single photo being taken of him during the entire vacation…


Sydney got in touch with her inner child and her inner Ariel (Little Mermaid) by singing “Part of your world” like she used to when she was 2…


And Zoe copied her big sister.


We then made our way further north to Haleiwa, the small surfing town my brother and his family have lived in for over 15 years.

They live on what used to be a taro farm, and their dream is to once again make it a working taro farm. Farm living in Hawaii means geckos crawling all over your property


153 Papaya trees

And bananas by the boatload… (Cue the “Banana boat Song”: Come Mr Tally man, tally me bananas)


We stopped by the store and grabbed food before heading the beach, Puaena point. This was definitely not a tourist beach.

Zoe’s dream was to learn to surf and swim with the sea turtles, and on her 10th birthday, that dream came true.

My brother, who has been surfing since he could walk, now exclusively does stand up paddle surfing. It’s a lot more difficult than it looks. For me, at least. The more coordinated among us got up on the board fairly easily.

hawaii11Zoe and my brother Billy, who prefers to be called Bill, but I simply CANNOT.

The swells were starting to come in, so the bay, which is flat and calm in the summer, was starting to be a little choppy. Nothing compared to what’s coming this winter, when the swells will reach epic proportions and Haleiwa will become flooded with surfers from around the world in search of dream waves.

Sea turtles were everywhere. In Hawaii, they call them honu. They swam right under the board as she paddled around. When she was out swimming in the waves, turtles were swimming all around  her.

Nathan did pretty well on the paddle board as well.


Hopefully the pictures of me falling over never see the light of day. I know they exist, and I believe they are being reserved to be held against me some day.

173 looking for crabs

178 Loading up and heading out

After the day at the beach, we headed back to the farm to get cleaned up. We had sand in all sorts of places which will not be mentioned.

My brother, his wife Brooke, and the rest of us went to a place right by the water called Haleiwa Joe’s. It was delicious. We had appetizers coming out our ears. Mahi-mahi, Ahi, Kalbi ribs.  Zoe ordered herself a filet mignon. Why not? It was her birthday.

She finished her day with paradise pie, a takeoff on mud pie.


It was a birthday to remember, that’s for sure!


Coming soon… Hawaii part 3… Who let the dogs out at the Polynesian Cultural Center?



Thanksgiving- It’s Not Just For November



I was planning on posting Hawaii part 2 today, but following some of the responses I got from part one, I thought it was important to take a moment to talk about something I have been giving a lot of thought to recently.

In my last post I talked about “wherever you go, there you are.” I wanted to clarify that a little bit, along with making some difficult confessions.

I love my kids. I love my kids beyond what I can put into words. I truly believe that our children are a direct result of our parenting. Do they have their own brains and free will? Of course. But unless there is a mental illness that is affecting a child’s behavior, how they behave is on us.

Is my kid throwing a fit? Chances are: they are overtired. Or hungry. Or they are irritable because I’m stressed and that tension is creating tension within them.

Is it fair of me to yell at my kids for dragging their feet and making us late if I know that I could have woken them up a few minutes earlier, or given them more warning before we needed to leave? One of my most shameful recent parenting moments came when I was mad at Zoe because she wasn’t getting ready for soccer fast enough and she wasn’t listening to me. I was late picking her up from her friend’s house. Did she dawdle? Sure. But if I hadn’t been late, I wouldn’t have had to put so much pressure on her.

It’s funny how magnified a family dynamic is when everyone is forced into a confined space for an extended period of time. I don’t believe our trip caused problems, I believe it revealed issues that were already there.

At home, everyone goes off into their own space. If they can’t get along, they separate. Nathan goes into the movie room to play video games. Zoe goes to find a friend in the neighborhood to play with. Parker zones out on the kitchen computer. Jeff works a lot and Sydney spends an awful lot of time at church. Me? I go in my room and “do laundry” which can also mean catching up on my shows that I have on DVR, reading a book, playing candy crush on my phone.

The point is, we’ve found a way to cope with our issues, but haven’t actually addressed them.

What was disappointing and frustrating about our trip was that in all that togetherness, these issues were staring me straight in the face. And it made me very sad.

Here we were, on an expensive vacation in Hawaii, the kids were skipping school, my husband and I only had a minimal amount of work to do during the week, there were birthday gifts, nonstop activities, and yet still- tantrums, fussing, complaining, bickering. And it broke my heart.


I won’t go into specific details about who was complaining or fighting about what. We all had our moments. My point is that it was a huge wakeup call for me.

I must confess- I have overindulged my kids. I haven’t given them enough opportunities to see the needs of others. It’s not that I don’t know that giving your kid pretty much anything they ever want isn’t a great parenting strategy. I think in the moment, you tell yourself, “It will just get them off my back right now” or “this is it, no more.” And then it never is, because they have a clever way of asking when your resistance is down. Or they use techniques they picked up from watching YouTube videos of cold war-era KGB interrogations and mind control. Either way, it’s always “just one more…” whatever.

Don’t get me wrong- my kids are good kids, they have just developed some pretty bad habits, and I haven’t done enough to curtail them.

Sydney and I were talking and she said, “I’ve noticed that you and dad get over things really quickly. Which is good, because that means you don’t hold grudges. But it also means you never deal with those things.”

She’s right. We aren’t big grudge holders. We usually understand that something said out of hunger or fatigue or stress isn’t worth creating long term conflict. And when you apply that to parenting, I can see how, although I think it’s a positive thing that we aren’t constantly bringing up our kids’ past mistakes, it also can allow bad behaviors to become bad habits over time.

When  Zoe is snippy with me because she’s tired, I can forgive her for her snippiness, but also teach her that it doesn’t excuse disrespect and back talk. If Parker is misbehaving because one of his siblings is causing him frustration, I can be understanding about why he is frustrated, yet still train him on better ways to handle his emotions.

I have 3 Libras in my house. I’m not into astrology for Biblical reasons, but I can tell you there’s something to people who are born at certain times of the year and personality traits. I can’t explain it, but I know it’s true. I’m a late May birthday and nearly every significant relationship and/or friendship in my life are people born in May and June, late September and October.

People born in October (Libras) are born under the constellation of the scales. Supposedly they are all about justice and fairness. Which is why I find myself constantly mitigating disputes, being asked to decide who is right and who is wrong, Or, often, who has been wronged, and whether the appropriate punishment is what the “victim” is requiring me to dole out. My husband has actually referred to me as Judge Judy on several occasions, although I believe he’s using it more as a pejorative term . (I tend to be a pretty black and white thinker.)

Because there are 4 children in my house (although I don’t really count Sydney anymore since she’s 19) I spend a lot more time peacemaking for a moment than teaching for a lifetime. I parent in survival mode. As a result, real training gets missed.

The only cure for selfishness, constant dissatisfaction and discontentment, is gratitude. Thankfulness. Thankfulness and gratitude come from perspective. I haven’t given my children enough opportunity to gain perspective by seeing outside of themselves, their comfortable, affluent community, and understand that there are real needs out there- and they have nothing to do with whether you have a WiiU or not.

Yesterday morning, in my near breakdown state, I told Zoe and Parker, “Do you realize that there are people who have real things to complain about? They are hungry, they are homeless, they are ill. And guess what? They complain a whole lot less than you guys do.”

After speaking with my husband yesterday morning, we agreed- this is all on us. And it’s up to us to fix it. Not from the bottom up, but from the top down. We must lead by example. We must change the focus of our priorities, treat each other with respect (we tend to operate in sarcasm) and create opportunities for our kids to look outside themselves.

I asked Zoe and Parker to come up with 5 things they are grateful for and one way we can help others. Zoe had some great ones, Parker could use a little guidance. He told me he’s thankful that he’s so awesome.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, folks.

Hawaii part 2 is coming, I promise. And there’s some great stuff. It is a lot easier to write about the trip now that I know we are creating a plan to improve those things that didn’t go so well. Until then, I will leave you with this thought…

Denali National Park in autumn, Alaska, USA, North America





Aloha And Goodbyeha (Hawaii part 1)


Remember the old days when your neighbor would go on a family trip and when they got home you would be subjected to a 3 hour slide show of their vacation photos?

No? You must have been born after 1990 then.

See, children, back in the olden days, we used cameras that took something called “film.”

(Paul Simon wrote a song about it:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZpaNJqF4po )

And no, our cameras were not a featured application on our non-existent cell phones, but a separate unit designed for nothing other than taking pictures.

Unless you had a Polaroid camera, which shot out instant photos, you had to take your dozen film canisters into your local camera shop or drug store to have them developed. This could take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks. One hour photo came along in the 80’s, but you’d end up spending about $20 to develop a roll of 24.

When people went on a big trip where they took lots of pictures, they often had them developed into slides. Slides were film negatives placed into a cardboard frame. Often they came in round carousels like this:


and then the images would be projected up onto a screen or a wall. Or, often, a bed sheet.

I remember several of these occasions. Hours of the Black Forest in Germany, Big Ben, giant palm trees, the same faces over and over positioned in front of different monuments and statues.

Although I have just returned from a week long trip to Hawaii, I have no intention of subjecting you all to a  mind numbing virtual slide show. I will be including photos to go along with the stories, but will try to limit them to the most relevant. I’m breaking down the trip into bite-sized morsels (several posts), because, as was reinforced on this trip, people today have little to no attention span. No wonder twitter is so popular.

As expected, everyone I run into wants to know, “how was the trip?” And I want to enthusiastically respond, “It was so great, exactly as I imagined!” But I can’t muster it. There were moments of greatness, don’t get me wrong, but mostly I learned a lot of lessons on this trip- about myself and my family.

Lesson one: Whomever sang about “changes in latitude, changes in attitude” was a liar. It’s just not true. More accurate is the phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Lesson two: When you constantly indulge, there is no ultimate satisfaction. Indulgence eclipses gratitude.

Lesson three: You learn a lot about people when driving and navigating  through unfamiliar streets.

Lesson four: It’s nearly impossible to make 7 people happy at once.

Lesson five: When it comes down to it, simple is better. We would have been better off skipping the “must sees” and just rented a house with a pool and a secluded beach. Their favorite moments were swimming in the pool and jumping the waves.

We landed in Honolulu on Friday the 11th at around 7pm. That’s 10 pm Seattle time. We hadn’t eaten since 2pm Seattle time, except for Zoe, who managed to score a free fruit and cheese platter because the volume on her rented entertainment device wouldn’t work. By the time we got our luggage and our rental car, and made it to the hotel it was about 8 or 830.

Sydney was so exhausted she just went straight to bed. We decided to go downstairs and find something to eat. We settled on a New York style deli, but their only available seating for 6 was up at the counter. We were like zombies. Parker fell asleep face-first into his burger. Zoe fell off her stool and injured herself.

The next morning at 6am Parker was wide awake, since it was 9am our time. He and Jeff started talking and although I grunted out, “no talking!” It didn’t matter. The sun was up, and so were we. (The top picture is what Jeff took the first morning when he took Parker out to explore.)

We got everyone going and decided to hunt down breakfast. We were staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is several hotels on one site, plus shopping and restaurants.

Since we had gotten in so late, they didn’t have a lei greeting for us. When we walked through the lobby, the woman was there, so we all got leis. Parker in particular had been fussing for one since the night before at the airport. The orchid leis don’t smell like the plumeria leis, but he was happy.



They have a penguin(why?) and turtle display, which Zoe was excited about since turtles are her favorite animal.

119 She was forced into this picture, in case you can’t tell from her strained smile.

After looking around a bit, we decided to get breakfast at the buffet. Parker was pissy because he just wanted to go swimming. Everyone was cranky and tired. Our vacation was getting off to a rocky start. Breakfast for the 7 of us came to $200. Parker had two pancakes and a piece of bacon. At that moment I made the decision that I would go grocery shopping and stock up the fridge at the condo.

Saturday was spent at the pool and the beach. When I got back from the grocery store, Zoe greeted me with, “I saw a gecko and got pooped on by a bird.”

One of the things we hadn’t anticipated was how busy Waikiki would still be in October. When we started calling around for places to eat Saturday night, most places were an hour wait, several were up to two hours.

We ended up back at the deli. They were starting to know us.

For this meal, Zoe was the one pouting because she had wanted to go to the expensive Italian place upstairs, but had been vetoed. There probably wasn’t a single meal where SOMEONE wasn’t pouting for one reason or another. At one meal, Parker was mad because we had dragged him away from his third consecutive viewing of “Shrek 2.”

Zoe’s birthday was the following day, and we had big plans. After she went to sleep I dragged out the giant singing balloon I had bought and the small amount of gifts and cards we were giving her. (This trip was supposed to be the main part of their gifts.) I set out tropical fruits and tried to make it look festive.

As I made my way back into the master bedroom, Jeff, who had come down with a cold, asked me to bring him some Kleenex. I tried navigating my way to his side of the bed through the dark, only to trip over Nathan’s suitcase and land hip-first into Jeff’s suitcase.

IMG_6408 This is the side of my thigh 3 days afterwards

Like I said, the trip was getting off to a rough start.

Coming up- Zoe’s birthday extravaganza. Sea turtles! Filet Mignon! A massive tantrum! Stay tuned…




Happy 19th Birthday Beautiful Sydney Anne! (Birthday #3)


Our precious Sydney Anne. Our first born. There aren’t words to describe what is in my heart.

You endured our mistakes, the endless kissy torture and 3 younger siblings who bogarted much of our attention, to become one of the most caring, thoughtful people we know. You inspire us daily with your kindness and sweetness. Your beauty  inside and out , your wisdom and intelligence, your clever humor, your ability to stay calm while others around you fall apart, your love for Jesus and the people in your life make you a very special person, one to be admired.

We are excited to watch you continue to grow in your faith, to see all that God has for you. We are so very proud of you, the woman you are becoming, the woman you already are.

Without you, there never would have been an “Us” and for that we are forever grateful.

19 years contain lots of memories, but here are just a few of my favorites…


sydney3 Baby Simba




image First time on a horse is serious business


sydney2 Wolf girl





sydney7Don’t ask


sydney6 Don’t ask- part two

sydney17Wolf girl part two


sydney14 Sydney and the rhino pic


sydney8 Happy 19th birthday to Sweet Sydney!! We love you!


Happy 8th Birthday Mr. Parker! (Birthday #2)


Oh Parker Glen, what a surprise you turned out to be. The kid we didn’t expect or see coming. It’s difficult to imagine our lives without you.

You are truly one of a kind. From your reenactments of full episodes of your favorite cartoons ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxCHgcqVJCs) to your silly sense of humor, from your thoughtful questions to your quirky way of viewing the world, there is no one like you.

You make the world work for you. You’ve never let your diminutive size hold you back from anything. Every day you make me laugh. Every day I am amazed at your strength of identity. I love your unique perspective and your energy. I believe that you have great things ahead of you, you are a force to be reckoned with!

Editing down the list of pictures I wanted to include of you was both tough and one of the more enjoyable things I have done in a while. Every facet of who you are shines through.













parker13Our little leprechaun

Parker14Feeling at home

parker16Zorro on ice

parker2Just a conversation with a mannequin- what?


image Happy birthday Parker!!!! we love you!



An Interlude

You’ve got a whole 2 more days until the next birthday. When I was looking through the pictures of the kids, I came across these gems. Since they were of both Zoe and Parker, I couldn’t choose which kid to put them under, so I decided to create a separate post of just a few of my favorite pics of the two of them together. Enjoy!


zandp2 This would be repeated many times



zandp5 Zoe’s favorite animal- turtles

zandp1 It was “favorite book character day. Parker was Harry Potter and Zoe was Bethany from “Soul Surfer”


Happy 10th Birthday Zoe Bug! (Birthday #1)


Today, October 13th, marks the onset of what I typically call “Hell week.” By some divine happenstance (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron) 3 of our 4 children have birthdays within 6 days of each other.

This year, “Hell week” is Heaven week, as we are spending it in Hawaii. Honestly, Hell week never turns out to be hell week, because I find that the thought of having 3 birthdays  in one week is actually the real stress. I love the opportunity to celebrate my kids, who I think are amazing and hilarious and wonderful people.

So…without further ado…


I won’t bore you all with push stories (I will, however, mention that I was induced and used ZERO pain medication. Zero.) I just want to celebrate the girl that is Zoe.

Zoe means “life” in Greek and I believe her name was given to me. While all the other kids’ names were decided on at the very last minute, I knew Zoe’s name early on. And full of life she has turned out to be.

I can recognize Zoe’s full throated laugh in a large group of people from a soccer field away. From the moment she gets up to the closing of her eyes at the end of the day, Zoe is humming or singing, often at the top of her lungs.

She is feisty and sassy and smart and everything about her is larger than life. She plays hard, she is a power snuggler, and she experiences every bit of the day fully. She never misses an opportunity to spend time with her friends, try new adventures, and if there was ever someone I felt the term “living life with gusto” applied to, it’s Zoe.

Bug, you bring a zest to our family, a spice that no one else could. Your beautiful smile, your “Zoe-ness”- I don’t even know how to describe it…all of who you are blesses us every day.

Here are just a small sampling of pics of the past 10 years. There are so many I didn’t include for brevity’s sake, but I think it gives you an inkling of who Zoe is.



image Supergirl





zoe11Doing the robot



zoe6Wonder Woman

zoe15She got in the Gap store display window and pretended to be a mannequin. Soon a crowd gathered.


zoe9Put up your dukes!

zoe18Sassy McSasserton







Zoe5Happy Birthday beautiful Zoegirl! We love you!

Oh Wait…I’m Not Supposed To Be Laughing



Last Friday I volunteered at Zoe and Parker’s school for the annual “Fun Run.” What’s supposed to make it fun is that instead of running laps, we create a giant obstacle course. What makes it fun for me… well, I’ll get to that in a minute. A few years ago, while looking for an alternative to gift wrap and cookie dough fundraisers, the PTA decided to try the fun run concept. Basically kids procure donations for participating, and the money raised goes to various PTA programs such as science day, the art docent program, etc.

The first year, we were all flying by the seat of our pants. I worked the balance beam portion of the course. I had a birds eye view of Hottie Dad and his obstacle. Someone had painstakingly blown up balloons, tied them to ribbons, and hung them upside down from the metal overhang of the baseball dugout. The idea was the kids would run through and punch the balloons out of their way like a boxing speedbag.

When the first group came through, the kindergarteners, they could barely reach the balloons, so most had to jump up to hit them. By the time the third graders came out, we knew we had a problem. The taller the kids got, the more they were getting clotheslined by the balloon strings as they went through. Inevitably, they had to cut all the balloons down and the older kids just ran through the strings.

One of the most impressive parts of that day was watching one of our students, who has cerebral palsy, and his para-educator “running” the course. He was in his wheelchair, with his ever-present giant grin on his face, while she was in heels. They did the course several times. When she went through my section, she pushed him alongside the balance beam, and she walked it in her heels.

We’ve been very fortunate that in spite of living in Washington State, all of our fun runs have been beautiful sunny fall days. This year was no exception, however, we had record-breaking rainfall just a few days before, so the fields were saturated. The field is also surrounded by very tall pine trees, so a lot of those areas at the edge don’t dry out easily.

I arrived just before the start of the event, and was assigned the agility ladders. My partner was a lovely woman with a strong British accent and a heavy lisp. I did a lot of head nodding. There were 4 rope ladders with yellow pvc pipe rungs laid out on the ground next to each other. The idea was that there would be 4 rows of kids coming through, and they would quickly step through each square.

As the first group came out, the music started playing (Kids Bop, of course) and the kids lined up over in the bus drop off lot. The MC got the kids excited and then set them loose to run the course. They ran up the hill, through the trees, down the hill, through the tires, over the hurdles, did an army crawl, jumped up and walked over a teeter totter, and then gained momentum as they headed for our challenge.

We soon discovered that there was a large section between the teeter totter and our obstacle that was very saturated with water. As these little 5 and 6 years olds hit that patch, their tiny legs would fly out from underneath them and they would land in glorious fashion on their bums in the mud. There were some kids who hopped up and kept going, while others crumbled into a pile of muddy tears.

We had probably 10 mishaps before we took an orange cone and plopped it into the middle of the muddy spot. The woman I was working with stood next to it and tried diverting the kids around, but in typical kid fashion, they would go around and then cut right back through the mud again. We tried to get them to slow down, but there were so many coming at us at once that inevitably someone would bite it again.

The mom walking around taking pictures of the event for the yearbook came by. I told her if she wanted great shots, she should stand at the end of our area and soon she’d have lots of action shots of kids falling in the mud. She looked at me, a little perturbed and said, “I don’t think their parents would like that very much.”

It was then that I started thinking there may be something wrong with me. I thought it was all pretty amusing. After all, none of the kids were really hurt.

Next up were the 2nd graders. Parker is in 2nd grade, so I was looking forward to seeing how he did. We attempted to maneuver the ladders so as to minimize the chances of more accidents. We were unsuccessful.

Parker made it through safely with his friend. All three times I saw him they were still together. He ran the whole course, unlike some of the kids.


One boy, who is Parker’s age, but about twice as tall and plays football and basketball, started walking after a couple laps and, winded, breathily said to me, “Need… 5…hour… energy.”

As each group got older, the competition got more intense. I saw boys cutting girls off, jumping in front of slower kids. I had some that tried to avoid actually doing the ladders at all by running between them. Because my kids have been in this school for so long, I know many of their names, and would call them out on it. I know I was supposed to be cheering them on, giving positive feedback, but no one likes a cheater.

I heckled some of my friends’ kids, but I tried to do it all in fun. One boy was walking a few laps in and I told him his younger brother had come through earlier and never stopped once. That kid started running again and didn’t quit for the duration.

By the time the fourth graders, Zoe’s group, were coming out, We had decided to take away two of the ladders and move them over again. The previous grades had pretty much decimated the grass where the ladders had been. We figured if the grass is gonna be messed up, probably should make it evenly destroyed.

The fourth graders made it to my area, and I began to see some of Zoe’s more competitive and athletic friends come through. And then I saw them come through a second time, with no sign of Zoe.

When her friend Rylie came through for her second time, I knew something weird was going on. Rylie hates running. She’s more of an artist,  not a big fan of sports in general.

imageRylie was a little hesitant about the agility ladder

I asked Zoe’s friends if they knew where she was. I was starting to wonder if she had gone into the woods at the beginning of the course and just plopped herself down on a rock.

Someone came over and said, “Did you hear what happened to your daughter?”

I said, “No, I was wondering where she’s been.”

Turns out that, while still in the parking lot, Zoe had managed to get her feet tangled up with her teacher’s. He stumbled, and she bit it completely.

When he came through the course I said, “I hear you took out my daughter before the race even began.”

He stopped, chuckling, and said, “I felt so bad! I don’t know what happened, but she landed in a full plank in the parking lot. She hopped right up and was gonna keep going, but her knee was gushing blood, so I suggested I take her to the nurse’s office.”

I said, “That’s my daughter. She gets her gracefulness from me.”

When she finally came through, she was all bandaged up.


She was a trouper, though. She ran until time was up.

Later on I asked for her version of the story. She told me, “It was gushing blood. You could almost see the bone. My teacher passed out.” I’m sure that’s exactly how it happened.

I watched a quiet 5th girl in glasses come through at the beginning of their race neck-and-neck with a very athletic boy. They stayed close for the first three laps, and then he started falling behind. As she came through again, I told her she was winning. She smiled and kept going. After it was over, I said to the event organizer that there was a clear winner out of all those 5th graders, and it was a girl. My friend asked if it was a couple girls who were well-known for being athletic, and was surprised to hear it was a girl who in general flies under the radar. I walked over to her as she waited in line with her classmates, and loudly said for everyone to hear, “What’s your name?” She told me. I said, “Well, I just thought you should know, you were the definite winner of this whole thing. You really impressed me.” Her classmates started buzzing and surrounded her, asking her how many laps she had run. None of them knew she had won, and probably never would have. She’s not the type to brag.

At the end of the day, the PTA coffers were $28,000 fuller, no one had suffered major injuries (unless you count Zoë’s  “visible bone”) the kids had fun, the rain stayed away and I had material for a new blog. I’d say a successful event all the way around.

The hijinks of the day constantly reminded me of Scooby Doo’s All Star Laff a Lympics. I’m including an episode for your viewing pleasure. While there are many good ones, I chose “Spain and the Himalayas” because Parker has a fascination with the Himalayas.