Thursday, October 30, 2008

Carson the Cook

I've decided this week that I haven't done a good job at teaching the kids to cook. I usually ask them to help out, but it goes in spurts. Sometimes it's just easier, calmer, less messy, (did I say easier?) to do it myself. I broke down though and decided this week, to assign each of the kids a day to cook dinner. Carson made breadsticks today -- from scratch! Now, a smart mom would've started out with something like Kraft Mac&Cheese. What was I thinking?!
I think more flour got on the counter than in the bowl!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Carson Has a Girlfriend!

Every day after preschool, I ask Carson the same question: “Who did you play with today?”

Every day, it’s the same answer: “I talked to McKenzie.” or “I sat by McKenzie” or “I played on the swing set with McKenzie.” Now, I’ve never met McKenzie but I know she must be pretty important to Carson. A friend sent me these pictures from a preschool field trip that they took to the pumpkin patch. I’m thinking, I’d better meet McKenzie pretty soon, before the situation gets out of control!!

Ian has a Girlfriend?

Two weeks ago, a mother from school came up to me with a really excited look on her face and said, “Vanessa, I have to tell you something!” She could hardly contain her excitement. “I saw Ian walking home from school yesterday, holding hands with his girlfriend!”

My heart sank. My stomach started swirling around like I’d eaten some bad pork chops or something. “Negative, I’m a Bad Mother” thoughts starting creeping into my head: “Don’t I know my son better than this? Aren’t I in tune enough to know about a love interest before it gets to the stage of HANDHOLDING! Don’t I talk to him enough to know about his special someone?"

“What does she look like?” I questioned the mother. I certainly hoped it wasn’t an older woman. Even worse, I hoped it wasn’t a kindergartner. I didn’t want the girl’s parents to press charges.

The mother answered, “She’s really cute. She’s almost as tall as Ian. When I saw her she had 2 pigtails in her hair. They were holding hands, smiling and talking the whole way home.”

My mind raced. Who could this mystery girl be? Then a thought occurred to me . . . “I think . . . I think that was Ian’s sister, Nyah!”

“No!” the mother replied. “They really looked like they like each other a lot!”

Well, I couldn’t wait to get home and find out if I was right. Was Ian still an innocent 10 year old who still loved his sister more than any other girl at school, or was he really holding hands with some stranger that his dear mother hadn’t even met? That night, I told the kids the story . . . about the SIGHTING of the handholders!

Pretty much in unison, Ian and Nyah both started laughing. “That was Nyah, Mom!” “That was me, Mom!” Oh, I was so relieved. It looks like I won’t have to start searching his backpack for love notes until next year, and I’ll have to store all that lie detector equipment I picked up at Wal Mart for another day.

Mental Breakdown 2008 . . . I Mean, Carving Pumpkins with the Family

We always carve pumpkins with the kids about a week before Halloween each year. Every year I wonder, “Why do we do this to ourselves?” Nyah was crying that the pumpkin guts were burning her hands, Ian was wielding the carving knife like a weapon and getting dirty looks from Aaron, Carson was standing on the kitchen table, trying to help, but nearly toppling our antique kitchen table over, and Cali was looking on like, “What kind of family do I belong to?” These are the results of our efforts.

The boys named their pumpkin, Igor.

The girls named their pumpkin, Fred if it’s a boy, and Sue Ellen if it’s a girl. I’m not sure how we check for the private parts on a pumpkin!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sights of New York City

Cali's first Broadway show!
We are still smiling, even though we consumed enough food to feed a small country!

I think Cali's eyes were bigger than her stomach!

Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or is that the biggest plate of Chicken Marsala ever?!

Dad and I before the BEST ITALIAN DINNER EVER!!

Cali and I were doubly prepared for rain: umbrellas and a bridge to hide under. Notice that there is no sign of rain! We carried these umbrellas around all day though -- just in case!!

Caleb has an umbrella and a newspaper to protect Cali from the mouse that we just saw scurry into a hole right beside them. I thought New York was supposed to have rats!!

Every night on our way back to Caleb's apartment, we'd hear the wheels of the NutMan's Cart rolling along on the street right behind us. Pretty freaky! I wonder if the NutMan follows everyone home, or just people from Spanish Fork, Utah?!

Caleb, Cali and I in front of Central Park.

We knew we'd see someone famous! Cali and I ran into Matt Lauer from the Today Show!

Unfortunately, New York has passed a new law which forces businesses to list the caloric intake of all the food products served. I never wanted to know that my sugar cone has 50 calories without any ice cream in it!!

Cali enjoying some ice cream after a 26 mile walk to and from Chinatown!

I Love New York!

We’re back from The Big Apple! What an experience. Millions of people in a hurry, not looking at each other, and not talking to each other on the streets, but instead, talking to random people on cell phones 24/7 with taxis honking in the background and the loudest police sirens I’ve ever come into contact with.
Cali and I arrived in New York City on Tuesday evening. The first thing we noticed were the dirty, sticky airport floors; much different from the clean, shiny airport floors in Salt Lake City. My brother, Caleb picked us up in a shiny, maroon Cadillac type rental car (a dream for any grandmother!) and we sped off towards Lenny’s where I got the best-tasting breaded chicken sandwich smothered in mozzarella I’ve ever eaten. After consuming 3,000 calories, we walked through Hell’s Kitchen, an area of Manhattan close to his place, which has 100s of the best restaurants around. I had no idea how we’d get a chance to eat all the food I planned to consume in 3 days!
Wednesday morning, Caleb had to go to work, so Cali and I were on our own to explore! We did a fabulous job following a map that we’d ripped out of Caleb’s atlas. We made it to Times Square, Greenwich Village, SoHo, and then even to Chinatown, without getting completely lost.
Of all the shopping we did, Chinatown was the most eventful. Cali really wanted to buy a purse while we were there (she heard they had great deals on fabulous bags!). I taught her a teensy bit about bartering, and we headed into our first purse shop. Cali found a beautiful purse that she wanted. The Chinese man that owned the shop was thrilled when he saw 2 Utah suckers in his shop! He stood beside us, waiting to get all of our money. Little did he know . . .
“How much for this purse?” Cali inquired.
“Twenty-two dollars.”
“I’ll give you ten!” Cali replied. I was very impressed with her big balls attitude.
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” the shop owner chuckled for longer than was necessary. “Twenty!” he countered.
This man had no idea who he was messing with! “No. Ten!” Cali replied.
“Final offer! Fifteen!”
“I will only pay ten.” Cali held her ground.
I was very proud of Cali’s strong bartering skills, but unfortunately, I hadn’t told her that she might have to do a little giving on her side. Needless to say, because she wouldn’t budge on her price, we left without the purse!
Cali was really sad that she hadn’t purchased the purse for $15, especially, after we searched through 4 more shops, and found nothing that resembled the one she loved. I promised her we’d find something eventually. We marched into the next shop (they all started to look the same after a while) and started our search. This time, the shop owner that approached us spoke very little English. He kept saying, “You like? You like?” over and over again.
Cali kept saying, “I’m just looking, I’m just looking!” but he either didn’t know what she was saying or pretended not to. I started to get a little claustrophobic and wandered away from the shop owner and peaked around a little corner at the top of a ramp in the store. I heard the shop owner scurry up beside me and look very excited. “You like? You like?” he asked over and over again. All that I saw around the corner were more of the same purses that I’d already seen hanging in the rest of the shop. “You like? You like?” I didn’t want to disappoint the poor guy, so I finally nodded, “Yes!” He looked around the shop like there was a secret agent watching us and quickly inserted a key into the wall. A hidden door swung open. He steered Cali and I inside. He opened another locked door inside the wall and led us into a hidden room which was lined with purses. He shut and locked the door behind us. I would’ve been scared to death (perhaps we were going to be sent off on a boat to China to work in a sweatshop) but there were 3 other tourists standing in the room calmly shopping for purses, with a Chinese woman looking on. These purses had brand names on them. We had stumbled into a whole new world filled with illegal purses. It was a very stress-filled and sweaty experience for me. I felt like I was locked in a small attic with no ventilation. People that have problems with claustrophobia wouldn’t have liked it at all! I wondered how we were going to escape. It wasn’t as hard as I thought. It just took a simple phone call. The Chinese woman had to use her cell phone to call outside to make sure there was no law enforcement in the shop before she unlocked the doors again to let us out. Crazy stuff!!
The whole purse buying business threw me for a loop and we got turned around. Cali and I saw some NYPD ahead so we hid our newly purchased stolen merchandise and stopped to ask them how to get back to Caleb’s apartment. I smiled at the police officers and said, “Could you tell us how to get back to Manhattan?” We were in Chinatown after all!
The policemen laughed and one replied, “You are in Manhattan!” Well, I am just a country bumpkin after all. I didn’t know Chinatown was Manhattan!
I decided to be safe this time and gave them Caleb’s address: 43rd St. and 10th Ave. and asked, “How would I head towards this address?”
The policemen looked shocked. “You’re going to walk here? You’d better get started!” They told us to turn left on Allen St. and then to keep going for a looooooong time! I should’ve known better than to trust policemen who were still chuckling when we walked away. I’m sure it is pretty funny to play a trick on tourists. But aren’t policemen supposed to be trustworthy?! Cali and I walked for 45 minutes and never found Allen St.! We stopped and asked 4 more people for directions, but no one spoke English. We finally got headed in the right direction and made it back to Caleb’s house by 6 p.m. Cali and I calculated that we had actually walked 26 miles that day. We were both in tears by the end, but at least we were the proud new owners of some illegal Chinese purses!
Caleb took the next 2 days off of work and showed us the rest of the city! We ate the world’s best pizza, and the world’s best chocolate chip cookie (only $3.50 for 1 cookie) in the same day! We also took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, shopped at FAO Scharz where Cali played the big piano from the movie, Big, and walked through Grand Central Station where I used a restroom that had a sign posted which read, “No Public Bathing!” They should’ve allowed the bathing because the bathroom smelled like B.O.!
Dad’s plane flew in on Thursday night, and we had a blast seeing some of New York with him. I embarrassed everyone on the subway one night when I tried to talk to a complete stranger (you don’t do that in New York!) This guy walked onto the subway with the most amazing piece of pizza and sat across from us. I watched him eating for a minute, made eye contact with him and asked, “Is it good?!” My voice sounded really loud. I was probably shouting to be heard over the subway noises. The man did not answer. He didn’t even nod at me or anything. Caleb hid his head in his hands, Dad shook his head, and Cali and I just burst into peals of laughter. I guess no matter what city I’m in . . .
Dad treated us all to the world’s best and largest order of Spaghetti and Meatballs at Carmine’s before we went to see Mamma Mia on Broadway Friday night. The musical was wonderful . . . great music, great dancing, great acting, but it was also full of sexual innuendos. I kept looking over at Cali to see what her reaction would be to the chest grabbing and pelvic thrusts. I think there may have been some sex toys included in one scene, but I didn’t have my binoculars, so I can’t be sure. I think I was more embarrassed than she was!
Caleb and I had the best morning runs (we jogged through Central Park, by the Hudson River, and also down to see the World Trade Center site.) The weather was gorgeous and getting to see the sun rise over the Statue of Liberty was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my lifetime.
The trip was a huge hit! I want to visit New York City again soon (Don’t worry, Caleb. Our next visit will be at least a couple months away!) , but I do not wish to relocate. Visiting The Big Apple helped me realize that I have to live somewhere where I can talk to perfect strangers, and smile at people on the streets without feeling like a freak of nature. Until next time . . .

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Little Girl Dun Grew Up!

Cali is 13 which means I'm what . . . 25? I'm pretty sure I gave birth to her when I was 12. Time sure goes by fast!!

Please Smile Again, Ian!

Okay, so we've been trying to help Ian with his smile. Well, during the photo shoot, people kept saying, "Ian do a normal smile!" "Ian, don't show so much teeth!" Well, this is what we got as a result!

"Sorry, Dad. I'm still not ready for Kindergarten."

Today, Aaron and I were talking about Carson. Aaron said, "Boy, he is going to be so ready for kindergarten next year, Vanessa! He's going to have the brains, the personality, the social skills . . ."

A minute later, poor, proud Papa got brought back down to earth quickly when he said, "Hey, Carson, are you going to be ready for kindergarten next year?"

"No, Dad! I still won't be able to wipe myself!"

I'm Sorry!

Nyah's new favorite words! It is so funny. She'll do something naughty, knowing full, darn well she shouldn't do whatever it was and then a second later says, "Oh, I'm sorry!" with a big smile on her face. It's hard to get mad at her!

Singing in the Rain!

You can tell by the kids faces that they were so excited to be there! Ha! Ha! Cali is holding my plate of free after-the-race goodies. The kids really enjoyed them! I think they wanted me to run the marathon again so I could go back in for some more treats.

After the Race

I am only posting this so you can all get a good laugh. What is up with my arms?!

Before the Marathon

This is what I looked like before I went out into the rainstorm!

St. George Marathon

Diary of An Everyday Housewife
Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hi, Everybody! I didn’t write all week because I spent most of my days and nights in the bathroom with an upset stomach. No, I did not eat bad chicken. No, I didn’t catch the flu bug. I was actually just SUPER nervous about running in the St. George Marathon. An old friend of mine from Taft, California, was running it as well and said he’d run with me to help me pace myself and hopefully qualify for the Boston Marathon. Talk about pressure!
Just to give you a little background, when I’m training, I usually run 10 minute miles while listening to books on my IPOD. It’s nice and relaxing. No pressure. Well, in order for me to qualify for Boston, I had to run 8:20 miles. I didn’t think it would be possible . . . thus the upset stomach.
We had the kids skip school on Friday, and Aaron took off work to head down to St. George. They were all so excited about their weekend of rest and relaxation. I was just a teensy bit annoyed that everyone else could be so relaxed. Aaron’s parents drove out from California and my dad also headed down to see me at the finish line. More pressure!!
We ate at the Olive Garden the night before so I could get plenty of carbs. Carson broke a wine glass as soon as we were seated and then spilled a full glass of Sprite all over the floor during the meal. Very stress free!!
I went to bed at 8:15 and dreamt about waking up late and missing the marathon. I think I also caught the Restless Legs Syndrome during the night. I kept shuffling around and felt like there were bugs and spiders in the bed! I woke up for the last time at 3:45 a.m., got my layers of clothes on, took some Tylenol, ate a bagel and banana, tried to go to the restroom (of course it was the first time all week I couldn’t go!), and headed down to the hotel lobby. My amazing Dad was waiting for me, at 4:30 a.m. to take me to meet the buses! Thanks, Dad!
The buses drove us up to the starting line. I think it was a 45 minute drive up the canyon. I noticed during the drive that it was raining! It doesn’t usually rain in St. George! My lucky day! I waited in line at the porta-potties for another 45 minutes. I think people were spending a lot of time in there to stay out of the rain. When it was finally my turn to use the bathroom, I only had about 4 minutes before the gun would go off. People in line to use the bathroom behind me were chanting, “Dump it Quick!” How gross is that?! Needless to say, with all that pressure, I couldn’t go!
The gun went off, and that is the last thing I remember! Ha! Ha! It was pitch black when we started. I think I ran into a few people. It was cold. It was wet. It was wet. Oh, did I already say that?! Some people ran the whole marathon in a garbage bag. I’ll remember that trick next time. Lots of people took potty breaks beside the side of the road. I don’t think I’ll try that trick!!
By mile #23 my legs felt like bricks. I kept going, but didn’t want to. I just kept thinking about Aaron standing at the finish line looking at his watch and clucking his tongue. Ha! Ha!
When I crossed the finish line, I had tears in my eyes (it might’ve just been raindrops!) and I was soaking wet. I was also unable to walk. My toes were a mess. My feet had been sitting in wet socks for more than 4 hours. Needless to say, I won’t be getting a pedicure anytime soon. No one would be able to stand the sight of these puppies.
The sad part about the marathon is that I spent another couple hours in the bathroom after I finished– sick to my stomach again! The happy part is – I qualified for Boston!