Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leo at the Estes Park Christmas Parade

Leo, Skye and Elise visiting Santa and riding the donkeys at the Estes Park Christmas Parade. We go up to Estes Park most years with Rebecca and Chris and the kids to see the parade and collect free candy off the sidewalks. This year was pretty warm which was nice, and a lot of fun, as usual!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


My bike got stolen yesterday. I'm really bummed. I ran some errands around 3pm, trying to get some Christmas lights and stockings. Christmas stuff is selling out like crazy here. We got one of the last Christmas trees yesterday (and it cost $90 for a 5 ft tree) because the Home Depot, the grocery stores, the little stands on the street, were all sold out. I've been unable to find lights. We're making our own ornaments.

Anyway, the Walmart (2 blocks from our house) was PACKED full with people. Two different Salvation Army groups were in front. My bike was locked to the bike rack in between the Salvation Army groups. There were a lot of bikes there, although when I looked later a lot of them looked suspiciously broken and rusted out. In the 45 minutes or so that I was in there, someone stole it. It was just a front suspension mountain bike, not one of those $1000 Boulder bikes, but nicer than a lot of the cruisers and beaters around here. The worst is that it was packed with little add-ons - my split seat, my handlebars for short people, my headlamp's bracket, and worst of all - the trailer bike hitch, which we had to order from the UK because no one in the US sells it. We use our bikes to commute and Leo LOVES his trailer bike, so I need to figure out a new way to get to work and to get Leo to preschool. Anyway, it's hard to feel the aloha or the Christmas spirit this weekend.


Today we were explaining to Leo that he gets WAY more presents than we ever did when we were kids. Leo asked why. We said that our moms didn't work so we make a lot more money and we had 4 kids so the money had to get spread around a lot of kids. Leo said to me, "Do you want to be as rich as ME?" I said sure. He said, "Well all you have to do is save your pennies! Save your pennies in a smooshed penny book and save any other pennies you find. Then you will be as rich as ME!"

Friday, December 11, 2009


Last week, Leo told me that when he grew up he wanted to a teacher. I told him that was a great idea. He said he wanted to teach kids that were 1 year old. I said that was great, just like Leify. He asked if he would be as tall as Leify (who is well over 6 feet tall) when he grew up. I said probably not. He asked if he could keep growing and never become an adult, would he be as tall as Leify. I said it wasn't possible to keep growing tall and never become and adult. Then I had to explain genetics and probability and we spent the rest of the bike ride home discussing the difference between possible and probable.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I hadn't had a chance to post up pictures from the last couple months. We had a lot of visitors and had a great time seeing everyone!

Leo's friend Cameron came to visit in Oct. It was Halloween. Cameron dressed up as a transformer and Leo dressed up as a spider and then in his flashing costume. They mostly practiced their martial arts and collected candy.

Cameron's mom Linna and sister Kate at the beach while Cameron practices his snorkeling:

For Halloween, Paul made a life-size, cardboard replica of Leo's head. He stuffed the Leo doll and put him on our doorstep to freak out our neighbors (which worked wonderfully). Here's Leo sitting on the Leo doll and being freaked out.

Leo and his magic translucent leaf:

My sisters Kristin and Vicki and my niece Joylin came to visit last month:

Joylin and the "silver guy" street performer:

Paul, Joylin, Vicki and Kristin on the way to Hanuama Bay:

Leo doing the crazy lily pad jump at Wet N Wild:

Sometime during the craziness, we went kayaking out in Kailua bay and hiked Mokulua island.

Paul's parents, his sister Ann and her husband Mike came to visit last month. Here we are with Paul's parents at the Pali lookout:

Leo, Ann, Mike and Paul climbed Diamond Head. Leo climbed the stairs himself.

Christmas present

For the last few days, Leo has been explaining to me that he's going to get me a Christmas present. I asked him what it was. He said he was going to get me a shirt. He said that my shirts don't fit me because you can see my belly. He said that I'm getting bigger and I need bigger shirts. So he is going to take me to the Goodwill store (where he and Paul recently bought a whole bunch of Hawaiian shirts) and will let me pick out a shirt for myself. He said they have all different sizes and all different kinds and I can find one that I like. (Then maybe I can cover up this big belly!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Butt butt

We are in Boulder for one more night. Leo and Mia were getting ready for bedtime, having just taken a bath. I'm trying to read them a book. Mia has decided to wear only a bathrobe and cowboy hat, and is really tired so she starts dancing around. Leo says, "Missy, you better zip up your clothes because your butt is showing". So Mia starts dancing even more in her open bathrobe and starts singing,"put your butt in your finger". So Leo sits down at the miniature piano and plays and sings,"put your butt in your penis". At which point I break down into laughter, unable to read anymore, wondering when social services is going to come in and take me away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

As big as a car

It's hard to understand the appeal of scatalogical humor in little kids. Leo is often very proud of his poop, especially the size. Tonight he said, "When I am 7 or 8 or 9... When I am... When I am a teenager, I will poop as big as a car!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Filling up the universe

Leo reported to his teacher about Halloween, "I had so much candy that it filled up all the planets and all of the universe." This was nearly true. He received 75 pieces of candy. He knows because he counted them all. Nothing like a little sugar to get those math skills going.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Celebrating an early birthday for Kristin and pix of the dolphins

We celebrated an early birthday for Kristin at the Top of Waikiki rotating restaurant today. It was a big blast for Kristin, exquisite gourmet food for Vicki and a chocolate fondue for the kids.

We spent the day at Wet n Wild and went nuts on the water slides today. A good hot sunny day for a water park, which was nice after the rainy days that my family had had earlier in the week.

Some pix from the dolphin programs at Sea Life Park. Leo smooching a dolphin:

and his cousin Joylin riding the dolphins:

Leo and his girlfriend Amelia

Leo, the luckiest 4 year old, hanging out with Amelia, one of Jose's friends who lives on the island.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I dropped off Leo at school this morning and two girls said, "Leo!" and came over and hugged him. One was Cayenne. After the girls left, Leo said, "Finally, Cayenne is my friend". I thought he was all happy to finally have friends. Then he said, "before she was my friend, she would hit me and punch me".

Monday, September 28, 2009

In the office

Leo told us he was getting older now and that "when I get back to Boulder, Colorado" maybe I will go to the office". I asked him what he planned to do in the office. He said, "work at a computer". I told him he could start paying rent.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Great Barrier Reef Trip!

These are highlights from a week on a boat at the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea in Australia! I am so so LUCKY!! Paul knew I had been hankering for a dive trip at the GBR for years, knew I was getting depressed despite living in 'paradise' and sent me out to Australia to 'recover' while he held down the fort, took care of Leo, worked, cooked, cleaned, and yes, I do feel guilty!!

I went with my friends from Bangkok: Supisa

and Terry (my ex-boss):

We had 29 divers on the boat the first half of the week. We went out to the Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea, which is pretty far out from the GBR. The reef is deep and there were a lot of sharks, moray eels, an eagle ray. Getting out to the Coral Sea was kind of rough and both Supisa and I lost our dinners the first night, despite the seasickness medication. This was our home for the week. It's the Mike Ball Dive Expeditions Spoilsport boat - they're expensive, but a real first class operation, with a gourmet chef and personal videographer on board. During the second half of the trip, there were at least as many crew as there were divers.

Honestly, I liked the GBR dive sites better than the Coral Sea, but they are certainly more traveled, and you could see evidence of broken coral from past divers. If I were to go back again, I'd probably just explore more of the GBR, and save myself a couple whoozy nights!

So, what did we see? All kinds of crazy creatures!

Yes, there were lots of sharks. Here's a wimpy white-tip reef shark. We saw hammerheads, silver-tips, grey reef sharks too. No great whites! We did a shark feed one day (will post video at some point).

There were some very mellow green sea turtles. Here's one posing.

Many, many giant clams. Clams so big you could fall in. Clams so big you could feed a small village.

Here's a pennant bannerfish, so skinny, you miss them altogether when they turn sideways!

These are Christmas tree worms. They are my favorite. When you try to touch them, they retract into their holes. It's great fun to move your hand over a hole bunch of them and watch them all retract. This photo won the non-SLR photo contest on our boat the first half of the week.

Cod Hole, in the GBR, had these diver sized potato cod.

The coolest stuff is the tiny stuff that you can barely see. This rare green anenome (can't remember what they called it) had a family of harlequin shrimp living in it. You can see right through their little bodies!

Another shrimp in living in a magnificent sea anenome. It took a LOT of swishing to open up the anenome enough to see this guy.

My roommate Susan had a huge Nikon SLR set up with two strobes. She's only been diving and shooting for 2.5 years, but she ought to be a professional. Her pictures are to die for. We went down to 110 feet to find the elusive and rare pygmy seahorse. The first mate happened to know where to find them and he took us down and pointed it out. These seahorses are half the size of your pinky fingernail. I couldn't see them through the camera at all and so it's real hard to find them in my picture. Another photographer didn't see the seahorses and didn't have the camera pointed at the right place. Susan has a beautiful, in-focus picture of the mom and the baby both looking at the camera. I'd post it here but I'm hoping she sells it to National Geographic or something instead! Needless to say, she won the SLR photo contest both times and even the professional dive tour videographer was drooling over her work.

Here's a cute little black-spotted pufferfish. Looks like a little doggy. They swim fairly slowly and are not the most graceful creatures.

Here's the same fish, all puffed up. They do this when they are in danger, to make themselves look bigger and hopefully save their lives. This won the non-SLR contest during the second half of the week. I feel really guilty about this, although all I really did was point and shoot. Everyone wanted to know how I got him to puff up. I didn't let on, but the first mate had a habit of playing with the marine life. He caught the fish, who immediately puffed up. After the guy put him down, the poor little creature was breathing real fast in and out, freaked out but back to normal size.

A trumpetfish (the long skinny thing) with a school of anthias (I think) in the background.

This long yellow guy is another trumpetfish. He was a juvenile, and hanging out with these masked rabbitfish.

Wherever they went, he'd try to swim alongside them. It was really funny. He was using them for protection, as camouflage. He was thinking, "If I swim with them, maybe no one will see me and eat me!"

These titan triggerfish were huge and sort of friendly.

This is a red prickly sea cucumber. It's got these sticky suckers on the bottom, like the suckers on an octopus. My mom likes to eat sea cucumbers. I don't.

The tiny white worms on this sponge are baby sponge synaptids. The tree-like yellow things are tube anenome. They only come out at night. We did a bunch of night dives. You could dive 5 times a day on this boat. The schedule is pretty rigorous if you want to do that. Basically all you do is eat, dive and sleep. I was pretty dead just diving 4 times a day and trying to download pictures in between.

A close-up of a christmas-tree worm. The little thing sticking out is the worm.

We saw a few of these rare leaf scorpionfish. They are poisonous.

This is a lionfish, coming in for a landing! Also poisonous.

An even more poisonous fish, the stonefish. I believe this is the most poisonous fish. It's hard to see, as they blend in so well with the rocks and muck. You can make out the teeth and the eyes if you look closely. The mouth opens up like a cave.

And an olive sea snake. Also very very poisonous. Apparently, the most poisonous snakes are sea snakes. Luckily, they can't open their mouths very wide, so as long as you don't offer up an ear, you ought to be ok.

Where did I come up with all my fish facts? I've always liked diving and snorkeling, but I have now spent countless hours with Leo reading fish identification books. I'm not kidding. He loves to read marine life books. We read about the habits of fish, the lives of coral, the sea squirts, the nudibranchs, the squids, etc. Sure beats those boring dinosaur books!!

This guy is a whitemouth moray eel. We saw one green moray eel as big as someone's thigh, but I didn't have a camera on that dive. This was my first diving with a camera. I first rented this terrible Canon A640 that had a video problem (right during the shark feed, of course). Then I spent big bucks and rented the Canon G10 the rest of the trip. It was awesome. Heavy. 15 MB per picture, but awesome.

Supisa's favorite creatures are the tiny nudibranchs. This is a minor notodoris. Nudibranch's are sea slugs. She's an expert at finding them in the myriad of colorful sea life. Diving is such the ADD activity. You're looking at some fish, thinking of taking a picture of it, and boom, in front of you swims this beautiful new thing that you've never seen before and you chase it, completely forgetting what you were looking at before.

Anyway, as my tribute to Supisa's expert nudi identification skills: here's a whole bunch that she found:

These last two are flatworms not sea slugs, but very similar. They breathe through their bodies instead of gills. The last one looked like a really nice piece of lettuce. Supisa videoed one flatworm crawling across the sandy bottom. It ran into a sea cucumber and slithered right up over it and down the other side. Now that's a good video!

Paul's been working on an art project based on textures. Here's my contribution to the art project. Anenome fish were living in this bulb anenome.

This was a huge montipora confusa coral, probably 10 feet across, and just trippy textures!

Anyway, it was an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime, splurge of a trip! My only hope is that it is still around by the time Leo learns how to dive. I've already promised him trips out to see the reefs out in Asia. I've got some residual TMJ that I'm dealing with now as a result of dragging that regulator around in my mouth for a week, but hopefully will be recovered shortly!

What else to say but:

Love, Debbie