Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Can Fly!

Aaron and I went on a little getaway to Ogden, Utah, this weekend for a little belated b-day celebrating. I gave Aaron a gift certificate to iFly, a skydiving simulation company, that supposedly makes you feel like you "are really skydiving."

Our instructor gave us a quick lesson on hand signals that he would use in the wind tunnel to help us fly correctly, suited us up in a jumpsuit, kneepads, the tightest goggles I've ever worn, earplugs, and a helmet, and said, "Now, let's go have some fun. Don't forget to smile!" Well, everyone in our group was a little bit nervous. Who wouldn't be with all that safety gear on? I had visions of falling flat on my head and sustaining severe neck injuries, crippling myself for life. Wouldn't that be a great story to tell.

"Vanessa, why are you paralyzed from the neck down?"

"Well . . . I was in this wind tunnel, PRETENDING to sky dive, and somehow fell on my head. It's never happened to anyone before or since!"

With these thoughts in my head, I stepped into the wind tunnel, stuck my arms out in front of me, and I . . . SMILED!!! I followed the instructor's directions to a 'T'! I never stopped smiling. Because my mouth is partially open when I smile, I ended up with a severely dry throat and sore cheeks. The good news is . . . I didn't fall on my head.

In the video, please notice Aaron's noticeable lack of enjoyment, and then compare that to my scary perma-grin. Who do you think is having more fun?!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Conversation of the Week

You know how different families have different ways of saying the same thing? For example, when I married into Aaron's family, I learned that it is not appropriate to say, "I have to pee!" It is preferable in the Heber family to either 1) not mention anything about the reason you are crossing your legs and jumping up and down or 2) if something must be said, the polite thing to say is, "I have to wet." Different strokes for different folks. Well, I learned today that I may need to improve my children's vocabulary about yet another bodily function. I just happened to be in the room when the following conversation took place between Carson and a family friend:

Friend: I have to have a big bowel movement.

Carson: What?

Friend: You know. One of those long brown things.

Carson: What? I don't know what that is!

(I decided to interject)

Me: Carson, he's talking about a #2.

Carson: Oh . . . you mean you have to poop?

Friend: No. I have to have a bowel movement.

(It was all I could do not to burst into peals of laughter!)

36 is the BEST!!

Turning 36 was the best. My wrinkles didn't magically disappear. My wrinkly armpits didn't get zapped away. My receding gumlines didn't grow back in (that would be gross, huh?!). But . . .

I have the best friends and family in the world! Phone calls, facebook messages, a surprise breakfast and b-day song from the kids, a surprise b-day lunch with friends (all my favorites were served: Zubs sandwiches, chips, veggies, chocolate chip cookies, and Diet Pepsi!), wonderful cards and gifts, and finally, a visit from my mom last night who surprised me with a beautiful new Christmas quilt for my wall (I've always wanted one!).

Thanks to everyone for making it the best b-day in the world and for making me feel so special and wrinkle-free.

Monday, January 11, 2010

what is this?!

receding gums, thinning hair, sore knees, saggy armpits, a mustache (well, I've always had that) . . .

what is this?

oh, it's 36 . . .

Friday, January 8, 2010

Conversations in Vegas

During our drive through Las Vegas, there were a few choice conversations that took place.

While driving past some of the nearly naked women on the billboards surrounding us, Ian said, "I know who likes those girls."


"All of those cool guys that drink beer."

(Okay. Obviously something I'm teaching them hasn't sunk in yet!)

Another billboard we saw had a picture of a woman lying prostrate, nearly naked once again with the words, "Badda Bing, Badda Boom" written along the top.

Carson said, "I know who Dad thinks is Badda Bing, Badda Boom."

"Who?" Cali asked.

"Mom!" Carson replied.
(Good answer, Carson. You get a kiss for that one!)

As we were leaving the McDonalds in Las Vegas (where Carson had just seen the coveted Avatar Happy Meal Toys, he took my hand and said, "Hey, Mom. If Dad is alive when I'm 13 years old, I'm going to take him to see Avatar for his b-day."

(What a sweetie. I don't think Carson thinks his mom and dad have a very long shelf-life!)

The Beach -- at Last!

Tuesday we headed to Pismo Beach. For me, this is The Happiest Place on Earth! The waves, the sunsets, the sand, the relaxation . . . no crowds. We walked along the pier with the cousins.

Caleb got to come along with us to the beach!

Nyah and Riley bought bracelets on the pier.

Carson checked out the view through the telescope.

The next day the boys went to Port San Luis while the girls went shopping. They saw lots of sea lions and seals.

Carson hung out with the birds.

The boys got some grandpa time.

Ian's favorite thing to do at the beach is to go look at the tide pools. So, the next day, Aaron, Ryan, Grandpa David, and Ian had some more bonding time at Shell Beach.

Ian found a giant starfish. Luckily, he didn't bring it home.

Ian and Ryan found even more starfish.

Two of the three people in this picture fell in the water at some point during the excursion (I'm not naming any names!) and Ian came back with fishy smelling shoes, but they all had a great time!

Ian was literally in paradise during this trip. He got to go to The Cracked Crab with the guys one night for dinner. This restaurant boils up a whole pot of seafood, along with sausage and ears of corn on the cob, and dumps it on the table in front of you for everyone to share. Literally, Ian's heaven!

Are We Going Back?!

The next day we decided to take a break from Disneyland and head over to Costco for some free samples. Really?! Can you believe we did that? We were in the Happiest Place on Earth and we went to Costco instead. I think we are a little bit loony.

After our free lunch, I took the kids to see the new "Alvin and the Chipmunks" movie while Aaron and Caleb went to "Sherlock Holmes". On the way into the movie, Ian knocked over another child's box of candy. I spent most of the movie trying to apologize to the mother and hand her some cash for a new box of snacks.

After the show, we headed back towards Disneyland. Cali and I batted our eyes at the boys and asked if we could please head back to the hotel instead. We went for a jog, showered, and relaxed. It was the best!

Monday was our last day at Disneyland. I somehow managed to get in the "Big Kids Group" and rode California Screamin' a couple of times. It was a blast. My legs felt like rubber afterwards. I think I'm definitely getting old!

At about 2 p.m. we headed back to Taft on I-5. We were planning on making it back in time for dinner. I kept complaining to Aaron that I heard a lot of squeaking and thumping noises coming from the back of the car. He claimed I was a loon. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a loud BOOM was followed by lots of scraping noises. I started screaming, "Aaron, stop the car right now! Our luggage rack fell off! All of our luggage is going to be all over I-5. Stop the car!"

Aaron glared at me and said in a very tense voice, "Help me get over to the side of the road!"

It turns out, it wasn't our luggage rack at all, but a blown out tire. Aaron and Caleb spent about an hour putting on our spare tire as semi-truck after semi-truck sped by. I tried to look helpless, but no one stopped to help. I guess they figured 2 grown men were enough to do the job. I ate an entire bag of Kettle Cooked potato chips while they worked. I was not helpful at all.

After Caleb and Aaron got the suspicious looking spare tire installed, I insisted on stopping at the next exit to get a replacement tire before continuing on our journey. By the time we got back to Taft, I was a bit frazzled. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why I was frazzled at all. I didn't do any of the driving, I didn't do any of the tire changing, I had a full stomach, and I'd taken lots of naps. I'm glad I'm not married to ME!

A Surprise Visitor

Christmas night there was a knock at our hotel door at about 11:30 p.m. I stumbled out of bed in my unattractive nightware and peered out our Best Western window. Who could it be? Was it Santa Claus coming to take me away from my Disneyland nightmare? Even better -- it was my long-lost brother, Caleb, from New York City! What a surprise! (I actually knew he was coming, but it felt like a surprise in my sleepy state!)

He came bearing gifts: my favorite cookies from New York City! We stayed up and chatted for a bit. I talked Caleb into going for a jog with me the next morning at 4:30 a.m. I set the alarm, crossing my fingers that he'd still want to join me in less than 4 hours. Low and behold, when my alarm went off, Caleb was already up. It turns out the sofa bed Caleb was sleeping on had large coils that poked him in the back all night long, so he hadn't ever really gone to sleep.

We headed down the streets of Anaheim, not knowing what we'd run into. We passed a Palm Reading shop, and quite a few homes with bars over the windows that made me feel a little bit nervous, but other than that, the streets were quiet. About halfway through our run, we ran past a homeless gentlewoman (we couldn't figure out if it was a man or a woman) that informed us we should wear brighter colors next time on our run so he/she could see us coming. On our way back to the hotel, I cringed as we ran past the entrance to Disneyland, knowing that we were going to be walking back there in less than an hour.

The Continental Breakfast was mediocre. There was a waffle machine available and some dry powdered donuts. Aaron found some whole milk for his cereal which he was very excited about (I always buy skim!). The kids were thrilled to hang onto Uncle Caleb during the mile walk to Disneyland. They all requested shoulder rides (except for Cali). I wondered how long he'd be able to take all of this attention!

When we got to Disneyland, we decided to split up: I got the two youngest (the scaredy cats) and Caleb and Aaron got to ride the adult rides with Ian and Cali.

We rode a couple of rides, but the lines were so long, that we spent the majority of our day in the gift shops taking random pictures.

Nyah with a plastic snake.

Carson with a scary skull staff. You can tell we were having a blast.
We moved onto Tarzan's Treehouse where we spent another exciting hour until Carson stumbled over a giant tree root and fell flat on his face. That one ended in tears!

We toured the Mission Tortilla Factory and the Sourdough Bread Company an unprecidented 20 times during our 4 day stay at Disneyland. We were very disappointed this year that the torilla factory passed out corn tortillas instead of the flour. However, we saved about $50 due to all of the free samples.

When we met back up with the "fun" group, we found out that they had spent the day riding California Screamin' and The Tower of Terror. I wasn't jealous. At all. Really!

Later that night, while the rest of us snacked on more sourdough bread samples, I lived through my worst nightmare: watching Ian gnaw on a turkey leg. Truly, the grossest thing I've seen. He even licked the tendons.

Christmas Day

Grandma Sue's house was jam-packed full of family, so Aaron and I slept up the street at Ryan's house. On Christmas morning, I walked into Grandma's house at 7 a.m. to find that Carson had been throwing up all night long. Poor Grandma! She didn't get any sleep on Christmas Eve. I felt supremely guilty for that one.

Carson pulled through somehow and managed to open up his Christmas gifts. Santa Claus didn't come to visit our children on Christmas Eve, because he was paying for them to go to Disneyland later that day. I wondered how my kids would act (watching their cousins open presents while they sat there watching). Surprise, surprise . . . Santa did come (in the form of Grandpa David and Grandma Sue!). Nyah got an American girl doll and a Polly Pocket house, Cali got clothes and money, Ian got a Wii game and a Sunday sweater, and Carson got Legos. It was an exciting morning!

After breakfast, we headed off to Disneyland. The kids wore their Christmas Disneyland shirts (much to Cali's chagrin) as we headed into the park. We stood for 2 1/2 hours waiting to ride "Soaring Over California" and fought with Nyah and Carson to watch the show in "Bug's Life" where it feels like you get stabbed in the back by a bumbleebee. Nyah was screaming and kicking me in the shins during the show. Not a great start to our Disneyland adventure!

Christmas Eve - More Excitement!

Some may think that a nap would be a wise choice after all of that picture taking fun, but the Hebers chose a more exciting route -- shooting guns, meal preparations, a b-day party, and lingerie shots.

The men were smart and escaped to the hills for some good ol' fashioned male bonding while the females stayed home with the kids. Ian (one of the lucky ones) got to tag along and shoot Uncle Jason's amazing guns!

Later that afternoon, Ryan brought over 2 turkeys, a couple of chickens, and a pork roast (No. The boys didn't shoot the poultry. It was all purchased at the store)that he had "smoked" in his new pit. It was the best meat ever! Fabulous meal!!

After the meal, we had a talent show: Brock (2 yrs. old) played the guitar and sang "Jingle Bells", Cole recited The Night Before Christmas, Kaylyn brought along a really cool set of chimes that the kids played while singing Christmas carols, and our girls played the piano.

Somehow, we also squeezed Aaron's b-day into the festivities. He got a golf hat from Ryan, a giant container of Jelly Bellies from Kaylyn, a new shaver from his parents, and an overnight trip to Ogden with me to go to iFly Utah (skydiving simulation). Doesn't he look thrilled?!

Finally, Grandma Sue handed out some Christmas pajamas to the entire family (I even got a pair of zebra striped pjs!) All of the boys received pj bottoms and tops except for Ian, who still insists on going shirtless. It looks a little bit creepy in the photo.

Family Pictures on Christmas Eve?

Now, we all know that family pictures are stressful. So, what do you get when you try to take family pictures on Christmas Eve? Some great pictures and a great time -- that's what!

Pictures were planned for 10 a.m. The boys got ready before the girls (we need more time for beautification) and went out on the tire swing to entertain themselves. They got into a bit of trouble for that one. Their hair could've been RUINED!

The girls finally got done primping and we headed to The Fort in Taft, California for some picture taking fun!

Uncle Ryan and Brock!

Uncle Ryan, Aunt Em, Brock and Ty!

Uncle Andy, Aunt Kaylyn, Riley, Bentley, Kelsie, and Bradley!

Uncle Jason, Aunt Robin, Heather, Cole, Allie, and Annaka!

Our Family!

The reason for it all: Grandpa David and Grandma Sue!

The ENTIRE family!

All Cousins!

More cousin shots! This one is of Ian and Allie.

The kids started to get a little bit bored, so . . .

they found some things to entertain themselves. Like . . . a dead bird to poke at,

and some thorns which turned them into "unicorns"!

The miracle is, we all still loved each other after the picture taking session was over!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are We Going to Make it to California?

Our entire Christmas was planned around our trip to California this year. About a week before we were supposed to leave on our family vacation, the Nissan totally conked out, leaving us without a vehicle big enough for our family to make it across the plains. Much to our chagrin, the dealership told us that our 2005 Nissan Pathfinder needed an entire new transmission, a new radiator, and a new heating/cooling system. As luck would have it (and believe me, luck is normally not with us), the entire repair was covered by our extended warranty which was set to expire in 1,000 more miles. Merry Christmas to us!

We planned to take off Monday (21st), but the repairs weren't done until late Tuesday night. The minute the repairs were completed, we loaded up the car and headed off towards Mesquite in a giant snowstorm. Our luggage didn't fit into our already packed car, so we loaded all the suitcases onto a luggage rack on the back of the car and covered it all with some painter's plastic to protect it from the snow. Unfortunately, it turns out that painter's plastic is not waterproof -- at least not the cheap kind I bought! We unloaded all of our stuff at 1:30 a.m. into our hotel room, only to find that all of Cali's and Aaron's clothes were soaking wet. I stayed up into the wee hours of the night doing laundry. What a fantastic start to the vacation.

The next morning was looking up. The sun was shining. We reloaded the car and headed towards Vegas. Unfortunately, Aaron forgot his sunglasses and has very sensitive eyes. I could've offered to drive, but instead, I opted to lend Aaron my $5 pair of WalMart sunglasses so I could take a nap! I couldn't help laughing and pointing at him a bit before I fell asleep.

We arrived in California in record time. That new transmission really got us there quickly. We shoveled down a piece of lasagna at Grandma Sue's house and got back in the car to head to the Melodrama in Bakersfield. Carol Sue and David bought the ENTIRE family (their 4 children, spouses, and all of the grandchildren) tickets to see A Christmas Carol, and 2 other Christmas collections of stories and songs. The most entertaining part of the evening was watching a "drunk" Santa, and a woman singing a version of "Twas' the Night Before Christmas" in Spanish while thrusting her hips and telling semi-obscene jokes. I loved watching the kids' faces while all of that was going on! The cousins had a great time sitting together, but started to get tired during the 3rd hour of the performance!