Tag Archives: Family Time

FUN – DoWoo #342/365

Carolynn & Greg Hot SpringsDecided to go to the hot springs today as a surprise for Greg.  We had breakfast in La Fortuna and then went back to Los Logos. They allow you to go in for the day and use the facilities. There are numerous warm (just off of hot) pools with a few slightly cooler and then two regular (cool) pools. Slides are fast – with warm (or cool) water rushing you down on smoothed hard surfaces – not plastic.  

The place was filled with mostly Spanish speaking families there for the day – with only a smattering of tourists.  There was a group of adults playing with a volley ball in the one pool. Greg confirmed with us how to ask to play with them – and within minutes he’s in there with a group of Spanish speaking people who were kind enough to allow him to join their group. Walter and I are so proud of our little man. Not only is his Spanish increasing in leaps and bounds – he puts himself out there even though there is the language difference.  

At one point I left my men to cool off over in the regular pool. After floating around I was getting out when a group of Spanish women started chatting with me. I explained my Spanish was “poquito”.  We managed to work together with one of the younger woman speaking English and translating – helping me to say what I wanted to say.  Turns out the mother, who had spoken to me initially, wanted to know if I was married (yes) – then where was my husband.  After a back and forth conversation this woman told me she thought I was beautiful.  Wow!  What a wonderful interaction.  Walter figures she was trying to set me up – that is until she found out I was already married.  LOL

We then had lunch back at La Fortuna.  What we have now agreed is we will always look at the menu before seating ourselves.  Some restaurants are quite a bit more than others – and really the quality of food is not necessarily any better.   Live and learn. 

We wrapped up our excursion by exploring the wildlife area of Los Logos.  They had a butterfly greenhouse, a frog habitat, an elaborate leaf cutter ant exhibit including the nest and a glass tunnel to view and lastly a few alligators.   The Arenal Volcano was still shrouded in clouds. Something to look forward to for another excursion. 

Gregory ended the day with another resounding “awesome!” and Walter and I agreed it was a great day.  Below are a few of the photos we took today.  Thank you for following me.  

Hope you are enjoying our share. 

butterfly 3 frog geko aligator flower 3 panoramic lake arenal

tree on side of road with roots flower 2 butterfly flowers


Visually Productive – DoWoo #265/365

one_biteWoke up at about 4:30 this morning envisioning all we had on our plate today.  One of the things which has kept me reasonably sane through everything we’ve done these past few months is to remind myself “eating an elephant is just one bite at a time”.  

Yesterday, today seemed daunting.

Today however, started with me laying in bed, mapping it out in my mind, stacking things which were ready to be moved into one area – leaving only what still required sorting into what would visually appear as a smaller more manageable pile.  Yesterday we had gone to the storage unit, and while I knew it was 5x5x8, seeing it allowed me to visualize it spatially.   Once I moved all the stuff not required in the front room, I was able to set aside a space which I marked off with green masking tape as a 5×5 space.  This way I could start stacking into this space and visually know how things are coming along.   When Walter saw what I had done he smiled and said “I love you!” 

As far back as I can remember I’ve been a visual person.  I love the kind of math where you can visually draw what you are trying to solve. I love a good book where I can see the movie.  I love being able to shop for items which I can see all together in one room before they are placed there.  Auditory works only when I can take what I hear and somehow translate that onto paper for review.  Love spreadsheets – especially the colour coded ones.  


Green tape bottom left corner

So once I had that tape on the floor, representing a space I had stood in, I was able to stack and emotionally feel like we were getting somewhere.  AND we are!   We have more than 1/2 of what we are storing sorted, packed and stacked.  We have a pile for donation and another for garbage.  AND we have another section, much smaller than it was yesterday, which includes only what still needs to be sorted.  

Walter worked outside preparing the yard and cleaning up. Gregory helped by being “Vac-Man” – vacuuming the entire crawl space and the rest of the house.  THEN to make it even more special we had the buyers over for our last “pizza night”, creating a special soon-to-be-your-home moment while sitting around the fire in the yard and chatting, with the final finishing touch being Walter, Gregory and I having a cuddle on the laydown swing once our visitors had left.  

A wonderful, productive, enjoyable, visual, sociable day.  The last moment however, priceless.

Mom’s Message – DoWoo #255/365

telephoneMy mom passed away just over 2 months ago. Today I felt a significant shift – almost like she was here with me. Numerous times today  I felt like I wanted to share something with her only to realized I no longer needed to pick up the phone.  The same way I’ve been communicating with dad for the last 25 years now exists for mom! 

I spoke to her. I thought fondly of her. I found pictures of her. The one which fell out of a huge pile of photographs being sorted was her walking down the stairs at the cottage – holding out my baby blanket.  She gave it to me when I was 27 years old.  I had no recollection of ever seeing it before.  It was a mini sleeping back all covered with elephants. I now had a possible explanation for my ever present love of elephants. 

elephantOn Saturday morning I stopped and picked up flowers to take with me to her interment later that day. On the way there, with no time to spare, I remembered they were still at the house. Later, when I saw the cemetery associate stuff the flowers from my siblings into the ground with the urn, I thought all things happen for a reason.  Coming home to the flowers I bought with mom in mind allowed me to think of her each time I looked at them.

20150513_072748This morning I walked into the kitchen to see the vase of flowers I picked out for mom and the vase of tulips Walter and Gregory picked from our garden on Sunday morning for mother’s day.

The flowers called to me.  I looked over and realized the flowers changed my wall sign from Live to Love!

Mom’s message to me today: Imagine your Dream; Create your Happiness: Love your Life.   

Thanks mom! 

Price of Admission – DoWoo #252/365

question markHad a conversation at dinner this evening which took an interesting turn into belly laughter. We were discussing finishing the food on your plate when I stated “I always finish what’s on my plate…sometimes, I just have other people help me with some of it.” Walter advised he tried every permutation he could to make this statement make sense in his mind…he could just not see the logic in this statement. Gregory piped up to say “No logic!.” 

I tried explaining my rationale that just because it was on my plate at some point, did not mean I had to finish it, only that it needed to be be finished.  If some of the food made it onto Walter’s plate then it was no longer on my plate to finish – ergo, once I finished what was left I was finished. Gregory looked at me and said “bubble above my head with a question mark”.

laughWe went back and forth a bit with this – and every time I mentioned it in any way, Walter started chuckling and said “no more” as I was making him laugh. What I loved was when Gregory asked to have one of the last pieces of garlic bread….upon my response that he had to finish what was on his plate, he immediately picked up the last piece of potato and said…”Guess what I’m going to do?”  His fork reached over to Walter’s plate and the potato was gone from Gregory’s plate – ultimately allowing his plate to be finished.

Walter and I howled with laughter. I told Gregory that his actions were priceless and caused a good chuckle. He could proceed this one time! Love how quick he is on picking up the levity of the situation. 

Today was a very good mother’s day!  I was spoiled by both my men. And Gregory…well, he is a reminder that my trek into motherhood has been totally well worth the price of admission.

No Goodbye Required – DoWoo #251/365

cemeteryWe buried my mom’s urn today.  On the way to the cemetery Walter stated neither he nor Gregory had ever been to this cemetery before.  I thought back to my father’s funeral…it would be 25 years ago this July…and found I could not recall having been to the cemetery either.  I asked my siblings and they confirmed, yes – we had gone to the cemetery for Dad.  I remember the funeral home, the church service, sitting in the limo behind the hearse…but I do not recall the actual burying of my father at the cemetery.  Interestingly though I somehow retained a visual on the approximate location of his burial plot…but have no recollection of how I would know this. 

I will remember today though…but not as a day I said goodbye.  The attendant offered us an opportunity to touch the urn and say goodbye before it was lowered into the ground.  I did not feel any desire. I did not feel like I needed to say goodbye. It may be that I have adopted our son’s philosophy in that my mom is not lost to us – she is everywhere now. 

qofEAt the funeral service back in March I read the poem “The Dash”. My mom’s best friend Diane was not in the country at that time. She spoke today and shared her personal perspectives on mom.  She commented she likes to group everyone into one of 2 categories – those worthy of being introduced to the Queen (of England) and those not.  She considered my mom fell into the first – and went onto use words to describe why.  This was heartfelt.  This was someone who saw the best that my mom offered this world. Another person to share how well my mom spent her dash.  

“They” say that only a few of those around us actually make it to our funeral and then of those, only a smaller portion would go to the grave for the burial if it were raining.  I am glad mom had a good turn out for both. Mom was loved.  She remains loved.  She is everywhere now – with a pieces left behind – one of them it seems, within me.  

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers! Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have a mother! We are all connected.  We are blessed.  


Mom Told Me To – DoWoo #250/365

#250 again! LOL  Turns out I missed #244 and had to go back and update the last few numbers. I looked at which date I oopsed and it was the day of the garage sale (a 3am start to that day!). This reminds me I am human and have the ability to err.  “To err is human…to forgive is divine.”

WPSPLHHWalter came home today from a week away at surgery – double hernia.   While he was there, he wore his “I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy!” T shirt. Someone came up to him and pointed out that he could not possibly be ‘perfect’ – that only God was perfect. 

Walter responded that since we are made in his image than we too are perfect.  I suggested we could consider the question that if we are to “Be all that God intended us to be” then why would we not be considered perfect in all that He intended us to be?  I run with this thought today because God is understood as being all forgiving – and therefore when WE forgive, we are acting in a similar manner and therefore in a divine way.  

Tomorrow is my mom’s interment.  Many many months ago she asked me to get along with my siblings. To forgive them any error I perceived they had done and to embrace them as ‘family’ – that I was missing out.  I remember rolling my eyes and we agreed to disagree on this matter. So far my way of dealing with them have included total avoidance for about 3 years, acceptance during this past year’s interactions due to our mothers declining health, and most recently I find myself standing back and watching as they appear to jostle for their positions with the intent to ensure “equality” in the disbursement of her estate.  

forgiveI am not perfect. They are not perfect. Assuming we are all being as God intended us to be AND If they are being something which I perceive to be out of sync with what I am being, then I have the choice to remain in their vicinity or remove myself.  

I have seen other families who get along – and I would love to have this. I am just not sure it is even possible given the depth of our internal individual angst. I recognize that I am different from my siblings in what I deem to be important – and I acknowledge I do not comprehend their perspective.    When I have tried to see if from their point of view all I feel is unease. 

I will do what I have learned to do: Accept them for who they are; Recognize they are acting and being based upon what they know and believe to be true;  and then I will do my best to find a way to forgive – both them AND myself.  I will allow it to unfold. 

Foretold – DoWoo # 237/365

christmas treeAbout 20 years ago I remember showing up at my mom’s place to give her her Christmas present early.  She was going on vacation with my sister and her family over the holidays – I seem to recall Barbados. 

When I arrived she commented about it being good timing –  she has just finished up her update on the detailed list of who was getting what in her will.  I admit this made me uncomfortable.  I had lost my father only a few years prior.  I explained that I was not planning on being “there” when it all came down – I did not wish to be part of the kerfuffle.   I suggested that anything I had given her could be given back if that worked for her…and if she wanted to leave something personal – one specific thing she would like me to have – I would be grateful. She offered me her wedding rings.  She brought them down for me to see as I had never set eyes on them before…she wore her mom’s rings as hers no longer fit.  She commented that the one was engraved all the way around it…so sizing upwards was not an option.  Amazingly they fit me.  As the youngest of 7 kids and the 5th daughter, I was grateful immediately – she gave them to me that evening. 

memoriesMy mom died recently.  I’ve run across a lot of pictures of her during my sort.  I’ve also run across things she gave me over the years.  What I realized today, it’s not about all those “things”…I have the best legacy my mom could leave me with.  My mom loved me. Sometimes she did not care for my choices but I know she loved me. The memories of our interesting conversations over the years (I was occasionally more direct about certain things with my mom than I believe my siblings were able to be) has been a source of entertainment each time I think of one. 

It’s the memories which are so very portable.  There are no limitation in the number we can have.  There are no weight restrictions.   They don’t take up any room in the luggage.  I am still grateful this many years later.  I also acknowledge I am blessed. Thanks Mom! 

School Is In – DoWoo #224/365

schoolWe are about 2 months away from embarking on our adventure to live in another country. Since we are planning to supplement local schooling with home schooling, life – the twists and turns we are experiencing and are yet to experience – are ALL learning opportunities readily at our disposal.

We’ve already discussed the difference in costs to run a house with Gregory – why not give him the whole picture? During our 1-1/2 hour car ride today I decided to chat with him about the Cost of Living and generalities of how it works.

There are aspects of our life which are considered “costs”.  Each aspect is calculated using a base:  Housing; Transportation; Taxes; Health Care; Consumables…etc.  Estimates are provided based upon samples – as an example how much gas the average car uses, with an average commute distance to work, with average extra curricular travel in the car considered.  The person looking at these figures has to consider whether they are choosing to drive an economy car or a gas guzzler (that would be choice).  But there is always a base line calculated using an average or median place. Most programs are then able to provide you with a direct dollar-for-dollar comparison between one location and another.  

There is more to it, but I’m talking to an almost 10 year old – while I wish to expand his knowledge I wish to maintain a maximum level of interest.  

Between the 3 of us we talked it through until we had named off each of the aspects we spend money on in order to function here on a monthly basis.   Then…since we had already discussed housing…I figured we could move onto food; something our growing little man is always interested in “consuming”. 

Before we started though…he pulled out the Spanish book we are working with and asked about the Costa Rica colon. Woo Hoo! Another opportunity. We chatted about the difference in currency exchange.  How it may say a high number but it depends on what it buys – so we tend to start out by converting to what we are familiar with to understand what the amount represents. In this case 100 colon is worth approximately 25 cents.


Back to food! I started out by explaining how the same grocery items may cost a different amount in each country. It depends on local produce available versus where they need to bring food in from – how far and at what premium, if any.  For cost of living, there would typically be a “shopping” list of specific items which are then tallied and compared. 

2-composition-with-variety-of-grocery-products-t-monticelloGregory has agreed to work together with me on an exercise. We will put together our list of products we like to eat, and then we can enter it into a spreadsheet on the computer (had to pause and explain this is just a computerized version of columns of information like he does in math – he got it – YEAH!).  Once we get to Costa Rica we will then have a document to fill in and compare what it cost to get similar food items (if available). computer badgeWe will then have our own comparison for cost of living.  

The additional bonus is Gregory now has a project to do for his Cub Scouts “computer” badge . Love multi-tasking while doing one task!

My Sponge – DoWoo #197/365

spongeAfter dinner we decided to watch an episode of “Brain Games”. The episode was about the “Power of Persuasion.”  It was fascinating to watch Gregory learning and grasping theories. Who ever coined the phrase about children being sponges…so very true!

It was fascinating. Showing us how recognition of what we consider to be “trustable” facial features will influence who we choose to vote for.  How altering a visual slightly and suggesting what we are to see each time, can lead us where the director wants us to go.  

We stopped it. Replayed it. Paused it. Discussed it. My most enjoyable moment was when Gregory explained his rationale for why he chose who he chose. Allow me to explain. 

gameDuring the episode they show you examples of what they are talking about, allowing you to play the game along with the team on the show.  This particular example included four interviewers, each tasked with interviewing two candidates using the same questions.  The 2 candidates just happened to be identical twins. The difference in the interview were the 2 ladies used a different order of the same words.  Each described herself using 4 positive traits and 4 less than desirable traits.  

We were asked to choose which candidate we would hire – which one presented herself better. Interestingly enough all 4 interviewers chose the candidate who listed off the 4 positive traits first even though she included the same 4 less desirable traits afterwards. 

Gregory piped up and said he picked the candidate who had chosen to state her less desirable traits first.  He reasoned that most people don’t like to point out what they are not good at, so they would typically hide them or leave them to the end. However, someone who puts them out first is not afraid. 


While I’m not sure how much he understands about “hiring” and “interviewing”, as in anything he reviews…it is from his perspective with what skills and knowledge he has at his disposal. First –  I rejoiced in his ability to choose and then share his rationale. More important though I loved that he wanted to work with someone who was not afraid to admit their foibles – did not hide them to last like everyone else.  I wonder what life lesson this may lead to. 

I-am-grateful-for3I am grateful every day for who I am becoming. I am grateful every day for my husband and our son.  I am grateful every day for the people in my life who make this such a glorious ride. I am most grateful to the Master Key Experience for leading me on this path of discovery.

Do you want to look at things differently?  Enjoy change? Embrace challenges? Live in a way which allows you to become all that you want to be…and more?  Yes?  Then…enter your name and email below and I will ensure you are one of the first  offered the next Master Key opportunity (fall 2015).  Each year this becomes exponentially larger. This year we are breaking all the records.  

Do you want to be part of the 2% who do something to make a change and an even smaller % of those who will learn the “how”?   Join us on this journey and truly see, live, be everything that you imagined.  You may even decide to join Walter and I in Costa Rica!

the master key experience

If you change how you look at things – the things you look at change!

To be first on the list to receive information about the NEXT Master Key Experience…before everyone else…please, sign up below. 

The choice is TOTALLY up to you!

SOLD! – DoWoo #193/365

Yes! Yes! Yes! We. Are. SOLD. OMG that felt good to type.  One 1/2 of the partnership team we worked with came by this evening with the final paperwork for us to sign off on. What a roller coaster we have been on!

I asked myself this evening…what did I observe about this process of being the seller of a house? With 14 days = only 2 weeks = we are done.  It actually took us longer to prep the house for listing than it did to market, attract, contract, negotiate, agree, sell. #MACNAS

Now that is funny – where does this stuff come from?

CaptureOK – so back to what did I observe?  I realized: A little bit of knowledge is most definitely a dangerous space to be in.

I’ve been working in relocation for 25 years.  What I have learned is based upon other people’s expertise – shared, applied and either embraced or discarded as I felt applicable in whatever role I was working in.  After taking a big breath this evening – a sigh to realign my psyche after we stood back and looked at the “SOLD” sing in the snow – I realize that all of this “experience” was not true. Experiencing real estate in either portions of the whole, or through someone else’s direct participation does not fully qualify as ‘experience’ which would assist me with what we just went through.

WOW! Did you follow all that?

20150312_220720In short – I realized that what I knew meant absolutely nothing at the end of the day.  I don’t eat, sleep, breathe actual real estate.  I have ate, slept and breathed relocation.  And even though my specialty was in the real estate department, and I got my license at one point, I am not on the ground.

I have learned a lot about this industry and have more respect for what my mother did for over 30 years! AND she did that while she was raising me!

So, in closing…I give a huge shout out to our agents who brought us back to the basics, provided detailed assistance, gave me what I needed whether I wanted it or not, and ultimately delivered on what they promised us they would do.

Say it with me….Thank God We Are Done!

Mastered My Emotions – DoWoo #188/365

This past week we commenced reading scroll VI (Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World) WOW! It’s all about thoughts on how we are to ‘master’ our emotions.  Notice this is not being in ‘control’ but being the ‘master’ of. Significant difference.

download (10)download (11)Being in control of something means there is resistance.  

Being master of something should be effortless.

To take it even further, the Master Key Experience was timed (perfectly of course) to include techniques on how to turn thoughts of fear, guilt, anger, unworthiness and hurt feelings into tools meant to enhance our experience during this lifetime, to help us accomplish our dharma – all in the manner we were intended to do so (before the outside world and it’s BS – beef stroganoff – got a hold of us).

I have spent my entire life trying to ‘control’ my emotions – keep them in check – but they were always there! Now I find out that if we turn each of these draining emotion into a positive tool, or to take these feelings and attach a positive spin to it, not only are we able to master the feelings, we master the experience – allowing it to be what we want it to be.

My mother’s advise when I was a teen was to “please….please…find some kind of balance” since I was either really “high” (happy) or really “low” (sad, hurt, depressed, etc.). What did I do?  I blocked the emotions. I surppressed them.  Stomping them down into my core.

Was I able to control them? Yes.

Had I mastered them? Heck no!

Many, many years later = I reflect!  Today I did my mother proud – it was the “celebration of life” – her funeral service.  2 of my sisters and 1 brother chose to speak. I asked to speak last.  I had everyone close their eyes and imagine their life as a line between the year of their birth and their estimated death. I asked them to put an x where they were now, decide how many ‘seasons’ they had left – then asked “When is the best time to plant a tree?” 20…maybe 30 years ago? “When is the next best time?” Now!  Mom was like this – she did not wait to embrace whatever she wanted to do.  

I spoke clear. I spoke with conviction and belief.  I spoke from my heart.  I shared the Poem by Linda Ellis: The Dash.  I shared Walter’s observation – my mom did not plant a family tree…she planted a family forest.   Her ‘dash’ was filled with a plethora of love and support. 

The person who I was able to “be” today is due to having embraced the teachings from Mark J, Charles Haanel and Og Mandino.  Please allow me to share my perspective on a snippet from this months’ scroll (Courtesy of Og’s scroll IV): 


To everyone else who has ever struggled…remember it IS possible to master your emotions. Do not allow anyone (including yourself) to take the highlights away from you. Experience your life today.  Plant another tree today!   

Hop on and enjoy the ride for all that it is worth.  We only get to be here, at this moment in time, as ourselves, once!  

Thank you for allowing me to share!
Please drop by again.
Carolynn Sokil

Embrace Change – DoWoo #180/365

Am in Niagara Falls this evening with Walter and Gregory.  All things do happen for a reason. 

Back in November I had offered to speak at a 2 day conference this weekend for Answers For Women – a local group of amazing women.  I did not book the room through the organizer as I was able to book it online for a larger room with a fireplace for less.  I did not know what I was planning to do with the king size bed but I was enthused by the fireplace it offered. 

We ended up not listing last weekend but this weekend.  We therefore all needed to be away from the house for the weekend. Voila! A king size bed suitable for a family of 3. 

I do love how the universe works.  

I must remember…When something does not go exactly as I ‘planned’ there is a higher power overseeing it all for me…rearranging the world to get me to where I need to be at any given moment.  

Embrace it.   

The group I’ve met thus far has been amazing.  Blessed people with vision and purpose, wanting to help others with desires and visions working to find their purpose. It’s been mini-mastermind sessions around every curve.  We are going to rock these sessions and help these women! a4w


We love you more! – DoWoo #144/365

For just over 12 years I have had the privilege of knowing, and the pleasure of loving, a very kind and wonderful woman – my husband’s mom. Since our son arrived on the scene we’ve called her Bunia (short for Babunia).  At just over 90 she has been in palliative care for the last few months with her health gradually declining. Walter went today and within an hour of his visit, she left this world for whatever is next.  

I truly believe she was waiting for her “Vlady” to visit – so she could hug him and say ‘love you more’ – an expression both Walter’s parents would say as we departed or signed off a phone call.  The love and acceptance this woman had for her family was endless.  She welcomed me into their home from the very first day and we never looked back.  

All GVS 007

Bunia with 3 week old Gregory

I have fond memories with one in particular – the day we brought our son to visit his grandmother at 3 weeks old.  She held her grandson, looked up at her 54 year old son and said “Vlady…you have a son!”  (picture the godfather kind of thing going on – but with a Ukrainian accent). 

One of the ‘traditions’ of visiting Walter’s parents was to eat and then pack up the left overs so she could give us a care package.  We encouraged her not to cook and suggested we go to the Chinese buffet (they were regulars there – especially on holidays!) and then we would adjourn back at their place for a proper visit. What I found humorous, after having eaten at the restaurant…we somehow still managed to be sent home with a care package full of food. 

May 13 227a

Carolynn, Bunia and almost 2 year old Gregory – Mothers day – in front of the ‘forget me nots’ Walter brought home to his mom 50 years prior

When Gregory was young, she started giving him a bag of chocolate to take home with him – something every good grandparent loves to do.  I explained to Bunia that Gregory does not do well with the caffeine in chocolate – so she started sending him home with a bag of fruit.  One time, I seem to recall he was about 2, the bag was as big as him – and he proudly carried/dragged it to the car. 

I will miss this kind and loving woman.  I take comfort though in knowing today she is no longer in pain and for that I am most grateful.  

Bunia – We love you more!

bunias rose

The only video I have of Bunia is when she, Dito and Vlady (Walter) are singing to Gregory (not yet born) a Ukrainian song Walter hummed to Gregory throughout our pregnancy.   These three are so cute! 


Imagination Starter – DoWoo #139/365

Our 9 year old has a very short and specific list of things he is passionate about at this time:

minecraft-360_2Minecraft:   A sandbox independent video game originally created by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson and later developed and published by the Swedish company Mojang since 2009. Gregory creates houses, farms, plants and harvests his crops, captures sheep and sheers them for wool, corals wild horses and tames them, mines for ore, obsidian, coal, diamonds…etc.

Z0iQ1DFPokemon:  A video game, card game, or other toy featuring certain Japanese cartoon characters.  Once he started with this I found out he COULD read, and remember all sorts of facts and information on each character.  So it was not about lack of ability – it was about finding something which sparked  his interest to learn. 

images (13)Geronimo Stilton:  A best-selling children’s book series published by Edizioni Piemme of Milan, Italy, since 2000. Scholastic Corporation has published the English version of the series since February 2004.  Geronimo is a mouse who goes on adventures. Greg has over 50 of the 100+ books available and a “goal” to have every book added to his collection.  He shovels snow in order to earn money to immediately purchase his next set of books. 

Gregory was explaining to me that he really enjoys reading Geronimo Stilton because it starts his imagination.  While Minecraft is mostly creating…Geronimo books add “Doi-ng”!  I asked him to explain. He stood up and showed me….


I suggested he use his imagination to create his own characters and then he could write his own books once we are in Costa Rica – about all the adventures he will be seeing first hand.  He explained he already has characters and ideas from 2 specific dreams he had.  

I then commented he may be able to write books like Geronimo Stilton and kids all around the world could read them.  He paused and then said “I don’t know…I’d have to learn to write in all the other languages then.” 

THIS caused a significant Loud Smile!  

I explained there were people who translated books into other languages.  He seemed very relieved.  I truly am grateful for our talks at the start and end of each day. They give me a glimpse into the workings of our child’s mind. And what a wonderful world it is.  

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Human Toy – DoWoo #132/365

After I had “DoWoo’d” yesterday I explained to Walter that it may not be perceived as a huge observation but more of a consistent one…in how we interact and communicate with our son. Walter commented that not every DoWoo needs to be earth shattering.  It’s like baseball.  

dog hug

He explained that a baseball player who fails at hitting the ball 70% of the time is still considered a 300 hitter – which means they are ‘hall of fame’ material and multi-million dollar earners. When I chose to observe daily without opinion some days may be more of a hit then others…but I am most definitely hall of fame material! I am blessed and most grateful that I did whatever I did to deserve this man.

So today…I again was considering my daily observations when Walter and I sat down in front of the fire to chill before the boys came down to watch the movie. Mya, our 2 year old Belgian Malinois, decided she wanted Walter’s hand to pet or play with. This is something she does on a regular basis which amazes me. 

belgian_shepherd_malinois_13Now for those who are not familiar with a Belgian Malinois, they are a bread who (as per Wiki) are used as working dog for tasks including detection of odors such as explosives, accelerants (for arson investigation), and narcotics; tracking of humans for suspect apprehension in police work; and search and rescue missions. The U.S. Secret Service uses the breed to guard the grounds of the White House.

I bought my first dog when I was 16 and kept her at my friends house till her parents told me I had to pick her up (I managed about 3 months believe it or not – my parent had no idea). She ended up being given to a woman on a farm. The next dog I purchased was the only cute, large, slim dog, in the pet store which was NOT the Rottweiler my husband (ex) was looking at so interestingly – a Belgian Malinois. The breed was not something I had never heard of but I was hooked. That dog could clear a 3′ fence on command, clear a park bench from sit without touching it, would growl at anyone who approached me who he did not recognize, but was instantaneously courteous as soon as I touched their arm to “accept” them.  When we separated and he came back to take away his stuff, he went to give me a hug and the dog pulled him off of me – something I had not trained him to do…he just knew. 

So…when I wanted to get another dog for Gregory to grow up with, I wanted this breed. They are considered to be good with other dogs if socialized and good as a family pet, with kids (you got it) if socialized. We adopted Mya as a rescue at 8 months old. She had been malnourished and has a permanent eye infection which requires daily drops. However, for this breed she is THE most laid back, calm, affectionate, gentle dog the rescue group and I have ever seen.  She’s still a Mal but just nowhere near as driven as the breed typically is.  When we showed up to consider adopting her the person running the rescue operation said we were the right family for her (we had fostered for them before so they knew what we were all about).   We are blessed to have been in the right place, looking for the right dog and she was ours! What better dog for a young boy to have – one he can wrestle with, throw snow at, play tug or war (and not win) and yet a dog who keeps her teeth gentle as she grabs your hand in her mouth.  

Today I observed a gentle animal and her human toy!   No humans were injured in the making of this video (…or not much).  You can be the judge and leave a comment down below.  Thanks!


Conversations with a Little Man – DoWoo #131/365

Neutral-signWas attempting to explain the word neutral to Gregory tonight. I asked him if he understood what war was. You mean the thing with the guns?  Yes. OK – so if one country chooses not to go to war and does not take sides, allowing the war to go on around them, they would consider themselves to be neutral. He clarified this by asking; You mean they did not choose the bad or the good side? I pondered this and figured this could be a good time to explain that war does not have to be about one being good and the other bad….so I responded: Well, it could be that neither side is good or bad – they just don’t see something the same way – they disagree. 

He was adamant that one side was bad and the other good and asked to explain his reasoning: He said the people on the one side think they are good and the people on the other side are bad. Then the people on the other side they think they are good and the people on the first side is bad.  So it can be both but not. 


I asked him whether he knew what this was called and he did not know.  It’s called Perspective!  

I truly love my having conversations with our little man. He does inspire so much reflection within me.  I recall when the 3 of us were in Kauai, Mark J commented that Walter and I lit up about different things: Walter about Costa Rica and me about our son Gregory. 

I understand Mark’s observation and I also observe we are interchangeable.  The same way Gregory has always mixed us up – calling one of us Daddy or Mommy – depending on what is going on….sometimes without any distinction between us until he occasionally realizes we are the other one. 

Feeling-Good-About-Yourself-Is-Essential-For-Success-And-HappinessEarlier this week Gregory was explaining a challenging thing which happened at school and how it upset him.  After getting the full story, I reminded him that only he can choose to feel bad or upset, no one else can do this to him.  He allows it to be this way.  It’s his choice.  To which he replied “That’s what Daddy said.”  

Turns out Walter and I are on the same page in yet another aspect. 

Branding & Stuffies – DoWoo #124/365

board-of-directorsWe had our Loud Smiles International BOD meeting. Gregory rolled in his desk chair from his room to our office. He came with small pieces of paper and a pen. He sat so proudly at the office desk beside  Walter all prepared to forge ahead with whatever was on the agenda.  

f196_lego_ultimate_building_set_partsFirst we explained what the purpose of the Board is – in that they determine the direction we take the business, how we do things, when we do things and where we do them.  His first question, said very seriously, was “So what exactly is Loud Smiles? Is it a restaurant? A bar? A business?” Walter explained branding – using Lego as the example.  First it was a building block toy, then it was made into games, then it was a movie…so it can be many things. 

Loud Smiles originated as the name of the piano bar Walter and I envisioned. Then we chose to call our registered business Loud Smiles International as these aspects will get us to where we have the bar.  Now it is a brand, representing our philosophy and our vision. The restaurant…well, that is something Gregory envisions for us. 

making-list-0808-lg-5041854We then made a list of things we will need to do before we can depart. Creating sections and subsections, discussing all the aspects of things we need to think about.  I showed him the various rental properties and explained the what it costs per month here to live in a house and what it will cost there to live in a house.  His eyes bugged as he has a good comprehension of money and #s (it’s his favourite subject besides art).  I also pointed out that it may not look like what we are used to here…the furniture, the walls, the kitchen…but that we will also have views which are totally different than here. 

We spoke about reducing what we have so we can travel lightly. He asked about saving stuff for his little sister…stuff he may not need anymore but that she may like.  He figures a few of his stuffies need to be saved and passed along as they cannot be replaced easily.  

Good-Attitude-Job-SearchHe listened well, raised his hand when he had something to say, added when he felt he had something to add, kept notes on what his ideas were as well as the key points he felt were of relevance and summarized these points to us at the end of our session. 

I observe: Our little man brought one key aspect to the meeting we did not ask to him to bring – a good attitude.  

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Sugar Plums with Wine? – DoWoo #123/365

37528_0652383227286 Sugar+Plums+01Was putting away the champagne and wine glasses from our New Years celebration and asked Gregory to bring them back out to the dining room so I could put them away. As they are crystal I asked him carry only two at a time.  However, as my little man loves to make music, he still managed to clink them all the way there each trip.

I explained to him my reasoning for asking him to only carry two at time and why we would prefer his caution – in that crystal glasses are more easily broken than regular glass. That’s when I remembered what else crystal glasses do that make them so unique.

They can SING!

We brought one back out to the kitchen and I filled partially with water and showed him how it sings. He then tried it himself and asked how. While I know it works – I’m not sure how – so…(you guessed it!) we “googled” it.   What we found was really cool!

The Mechanics (I had no idea – but now I do):

  • The principle at work here is a “slip-stick” form of friction. It is also called “dry-damping.” When the fingertip circles the rim of the glass, it excites the glass molecules. They follow the motion of the finger around the glass, in effect “stretching” in the direction of the moving finger. The frictional force is high as the molecules stretch.
  • The elastic forces within the glass pull the molecules back into place, but because of inertia they overshoot and go too far. At this point, the molecules are moving in the opposite direction of the finger. The frictional force is low. The stretching and returning action of the molecules becomes a cycle. An imbalance in the frictional forces is created, causing the vibration that makes the sound.
  • This illustrates the fundamental natural frequency of the glass. Different glasses have different frequencies, which depend on factors such as the size of the glass, the position of the glass and the volume of liquid in the glass.
  • Regular glass is “soft” glass. It has high internal friction (molecular) so that sound waves produce a dull sound. Crystal contains lead, which makes it “harder,” with very little internal molecular friction: molecules are freer to follow the fingertip. This creates the clearer sound in crystal.
  • Regular glass can make a rim sound, although with more difficulty, and the tone has less quality.

What was even better than the description on how and why was finding videos on people creating amazing sound using these techniques. Here’s my favourite of the day….

Just think: wine glasses + water +a wet finger + friction = beautiful ethereal music.  What else do we have so easily at our finger tips which could create something totally different than what we currently use it for?  

REMEMBER: If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.

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A Special Moment – DoWoo #118/365

medAfter lights were out for about half an hour, Gregory came down to the the family room to tell us he was having challenges going to sleep – he was relaxed but just not sleepy. Walter offered to do the relaxing meditation technique with him. He said yes and they headed upstairs.

When he came down about 15 minutes later Walter said they got to his chest before Gregory was asleep soundly. I asked Walter what he does exactly. He has explained it to me before but mostly in generalities.  I asked for details.

Walter first asks him to get comfortable. Positioning his legs and arms and body in a way that once he goes to sleep he won’t move – so a relaxing pose in anticipation of going to sleep in that position. This maybe takes 1-2 minutes. Walter says “He’s good at this”.

He then takes the blanket and pulls it up and they start breathing. Deep breathes in through the nose and out through the mouth. He does about 5 to 10 of these – maybe 30 seconds. Walter repeats “He’s good at this.”

FotoliaZenRocksHe then starts at his toes…”they are feeling tingly and heavy, yet they are floating, totally relaxed.”  Without direction to Gregory Walter pauses before the next body part – quietly taking a deep breath in through his nose and then out through is mouth. Gregory breathes along with Walter. They do the ankles, the calves, the knees, working their way up the body with Walter pausing between each body part to breathe quietly but deeply.  He explains that as long as Gregory is awake he breathes along. However, once he is asleep he will not follow with the deep breathe. Walter completes 1 or 2 more body parts just to be sure and then they are done.

Walter said he enjoys this time with him. It’s their “thing”.  I totally get it. Gregory and I have our “thing” as well. It has changed as he has grown up.  One favourite “thing” was singing the Crazy Little Caterpillar book together. He would choose it for me to “read/sing” as his bedtime book whenever he felt I needed it – saying it was my favourite.  Ah, what he may not have realized…he is our favourite. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Life is a journey, not a destination.”  One of the promises Walter and I made when we talked about having children was that this would still be our ride and he or she would be along it. I had no idea then that the ride would become such a sweet one with our little man along with us.  I observe the joy parenting has given me – us.   A billion special moments one right after another. 


Full Circle in a Really Nice Way – DoWoo #116/365

Started my day sleeping in!  YEAH! What a wonderful Christmas present to ourselves.  Gregory crawled in around 7:15 and after about 15 minutes asked if we could get up and go see the tree.  I asked him how he wanted to proceed. He said tree first and then stockings (family room downstairs). What about breakfast? Afterwards!

Love it!

One of the things I remember about Christmas morning as a kid…we were allowed to sneak a peek at the tree and the mounds of presents (can’t believe my mom did all that for the 7 of us!) but we had to have orange juice first, then we could have our stocking, then we would wait for everyone to do the samebefore we’d have breakfast AND THEN we’d gather around the tree and do the presents.  This was of course done in an orderly fashion with each person being given a present and then we waited our turn, watching what the others opened until it came to us. There was never paper flying or boxes being ripped open like you see in the movies. Not sure if this was due to my father’s Air Force background or the only way you could keep some semblance of order with 7 children.

So…I gave our son the choice this morning and we went to the tree. He immediately noticed all the boxes and bags and while I told him to go find what was under the tree addressed to him, he chose something for Mya from him first. Making sure she had her new toys to play with. He then methodically worked his way through each gift, delivering it to Walter or me or sitting down and opening anything with his name on it. While each was opened he waited and appreciated each gift for each person.

What was painful to me as a child is now precious to me as a parent.  I appreciate each and every moment as I know how truly blessed we are.

One of my siblings gave us an advent calendar filled with tea lights for each day. Another sibling’s present opened this morning was a serving tray which was absolutely perfect to display the candles for our Christmas dinner.  I hope your day was just as magically beautiful to you.  Sending you warm hugs from our house to yours! May love brighten your way.