I heart football

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“We won!”

This is how we were greeted when we got home from the game. I have to say, there is nothing sweeter than riding a winning high then opening the door to all three kids and the babysitter excited about the game.

Before we left, Heath told Owen what channel the game was on. He told Owen he could watch and if the kids complained that was their too bad! Apparently the kids enjoyed watching the game too. They were hoping to see us but we were sitting way too far away from any cameraman. That was such an exciting game. It was so cool to relive it with the kids and the best babysitter when we got home.

Oh that game was the best. This is the third BYU football game we have been able to see in California. It’s the first game we have won in California. And it feels awesome! Heath and I were seriously ready to not ever go to a game here again if we lost today. If we lost a third time to a game we attended then we are obviously bad luck. The spell is broken!

halftime

It’s worth noting that Bronco Mendenhall said this is the loudest the fans have ever been at any game he has coached. He appreciated all the fans. Heath has lost his voice and my throat is pretty dry and irritated. So worth it!

Our home teacher hooked us up with tickets. He sent out a text blast to several people in the ward asking if anyone wanted tickets. We were the first to respond. It’s like we’re die hard BYU fans around here. I felt so bad that he had to leave at halftime. His wife was singing in one of the performances at Temple Hill. Unfortunately the timing of the game conflicted with her performance.

We sat with a couple families from the ward. My visiting teacher’s husband was there with their 6 year old daughter. She was adorable to watch. She really got into the game and cheered like a champ. We were also surrounded by people in the stake and people related to people in our ward and stake. I love BYU fans!

soda

The tailgate party was at Cal’s baseball field. The meal tickets were orange pieces of paper that had been ripped from a larger sheet. They were simple but did the trick.

I had to laugh a little though. We are so spoiled living where we do. Utah church members are very conservative and frugal. We live in a pretty well to do area and if our stake was in charge of meal tickets they would have been embossed with gold powder. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were monogrammed either.

We had hot dogs (one per person), a bag of chips, and a choice of soda. I’m all about the Diet Coke of course. My only choices were Coke Zero which is cloyingly sweet and caffeine free Diet Coke. I love being Mormon! I had to get a picture of my caffeine free Diet Coke. It’s such a Utah thing. After I sat down with my food is when I saw that they did have other diet soda choices. I think what I got was much more satisfying than Diet Sprite would have been.

It was fun walking through Berkeley for a game. After drinking my caffeine free Diet Coke I walked through cloud after cloud of cigarette smoke. That was interesting to me. If someone wants to smoke that’s their business. I don’t care. I don’t like breathing it but whatever. No, what fascinated me about it was the fact that Berkeley just passed a law taxing sugary soda and drinks, yet there was an extraordinary number of smokers. Aren’t both sins equal in the unhealthy department? Only in Berkeley can you be judged and taxed for drinking *gasp* juice. But you can smoke like a chimney.

I had eaten a decent snack before we left because I knew we weren’t getting much lunch and there would be a lot of walking involved. My blood sugar was in the normal range and I like to keep it high when I’m out. Oh how I’m not looking forward to explaining myself to my endocrinologist in a couple weeks.

There were signs that said no backpacks were allowed at the stadium. I’m not sure why backpacks were specifically prohibited and not any other purse or bag or tote that could also easily hide an illegal firearm or bomb. We had a backpack. After losing our two best umbrellas at the San Jose State game a couple years ago because they’re not allowed in the stadium, we weren’t going to lose another nice item. So Heath and I walked back to our car to redistribute the most vital items from the backpack into our pockets.

The ponchos were left behind. Amazingly enough the rain waited until we were in the car driving home. When we were walking back to our car after the game a guy behind us said, “The play of the day goes to the clouds!” We were all appreciative that there was no rain since it was forecasted to dump on us during the game. Then Wally Weatherman saw the storm was going to have a break. That break conveniently lasted the entire game.

Just before we left the car I checked my blood sugar. I was over 300 because of my snack and lunch that I didn’t bolus for. But I knew there would be significant walking involved so I didn’t program any extra insulin to correct the high. The stadium was located at the top of a steep mountain 100 miles away. Maybe that was a slight exaggeration. It was uphill the entire way from the parking garage to the stadium.

Heath was walking like he was training to be a speed walking champion. I had to remind him a couple times that I’m a tiny little woman compared to his long legs. It was so muggy. We were carrying our jackets and really regretting the long sleeved shirts we had layered underneath our BYU t-shirts. Then with the walk that went straight up to the dark gray clouds we were sweating like crazy.

We found restrooms when we got to the stadium. It took me much longer than Heath because it’s hard being a girl! Once I peeled off enough of my clothes to do my business I couldn’t get them back on easily. The good news is we checked our Fitbits when we got home. As of right now I have taken 12,080 steps, gone up 58 flights of stairs, and walked 5.20 miles. Heath’s Fitbit says he only went up 30 some odd flights of stairs. I think I got more credit for the steep incline to the stadium than he did.

I earned my 10,000 daily steps badge today. It’s a little deflating to realize 10,000 steps is the number of steps a person should be taking in a day. So I’m still fat and flabby and now my Fitbit is subtly telling me I’m lazy. I don’t care. We won!

So back to my blood sugar. I tested when we got to our seats and I was 180 something. Nothing like bringing my blood sugar down the natural way. I set a temporary basal rate on my pump because all I had was a pocketful of fruit snacks, some glucose tabs, and a four hour game ahead of me. Not to mention the long walk back to the car. Of course that was much easier and faster. It was all downhill.

Final-score

The Cal fans were great. Everyone was very friendly. The game was close the whole time. We narrowly missed going into overtime. Cal was unlucky enough to not have a pass completed in the end zone. We were lucky enough they turned the ball over to us on downs with 10 seconds left on the clock. It was a nailbiter for sure but so much fun. A loss wouldn’t have hurt too bad since the game was tied more than it wasn’t. But it is pretty fun to win. I’m not going to lie.

winning

Third Time’s the Charm

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Our Monterey mini staycation was very eventful. It could take a couple posts to really do it justice. Whether or not I get around to posting about it all remains to be seen. For now I want to do this personal post about Monterey. Every time I think about this third overnight trip this is what I think of.

It’s a big deal to me that I survived another trip. Maybe the third time is the charm. Now that I’ve had a plain old fun trip with no extra drama, maybe the next trip won’t be as stressful to think about.

The first overnight trip ended the next morning with me vomiting up my toes. I still don’t know what caused the sudden onset of vertigo. It was the most intense dizziness I had ever experienced and no doctor knows why it happened. I was even referred to a physical therapist to try to discover the cause. She was not helpful at all. So I’m left to think it was anxiety mixed with a reaction to my blood sugar level. Who knows? All I know is I still feel bad about it.

That first trip also reminds me of how I lost a friend soon after coming home. Virginia Woolf said, “I have lost friends, some by death, others through sheer inability to cross the street.” In my case it was the sheer inability to respond. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why another friend has simply stopped talking to me. It’s easy to think that I must be the world’s most annoying person. But this friend was different and I’m sure there’s more to the situation than me being annoying. He went off the grid and no one can reach him. I have a lot of theories as to why. I’m sure they’re all wrong.

I think about this friend every day and still pray for him often. Whenever I think of my dad I feel angry that this friend disappeared. He was the only person in the world I knew who could possibly understand the conflicted emotions I was feeling about losing my dad. But he was gone and I was forced to deal with the confusion alone. I have learned that no one ever wants to hear my thoughts on the subject anyway. Everyone I know has had a happy childhood and is in touch with both their parents, divorced or not. No one can relate to my situation. Except my friend whose parents didn’t want him after his inconvenient debut into this world.

The do-over Monterey trip filled me with a lot of anxiety. I didn’t want to get sick again. The day came and I was hoping all would go well. About 20-30 minutes before we left was when my brother called to tell me our dad died. The ground was yanked from under my feet. I was grateful to have something else to occupy my mind. At the same time I was so grateful to have the trip as a distraction. It was like a yin and yang relationship between anxiety and shock.

How would this third trip go? I still worried about suddenly becoming sick again. And of course I thought about my dad. At least now I can look at the stuffed sea creatures from that June trip and not feel overwhelmed with emotion. We didn’t even buy any new pets this time. Well just one. Santa did a lot of shopping at the Aquarium for the kids. Heath should get a little turtle in his stocking.

I feel like this third time in Monterey may have broken the spell. Every night I worried I would get dizzy. Every morning I felt so successful to be able to walk out the door on my own feeling fine. I can’t say I lived in the moment every moment. There were a lot of recurring thoughts and memories. Overall I was happy and enjoyed the experience.

Spending the day with Heath was the best. It was really fun to go back to the Aquarium for gifts and just people watch. We had seen everything the day before so the crowds held no pressure. A couple of times we looked behind us to count heads. Then we remembered our kids were safe at home with Grandma and Grandpa.

Monterey reminds me of how far I have come with mastering my anxiety. Monterey makes me think of my friend which makes me think of how I met him as a ward missionary. The third time being a ward missionary was the charm. I changed in so many ways. I became much more assertive and confident. The best part was learning to love unconditionally and see others the way our Savior sees them.

Monterey makes me think of my dad which makes me think of how often I traveled this year. Many of those times I traveled alone. All of those trips were done without medication. Yes I melted down the day before my last trip to Utah. But I still got on that plane alone and I made it through the longest marathon day. I kept my wits about me as I went through not one, but two graveside services in one day. Then I got back on that plane to get home all in the same day.

I did all of that without medication. And not as much Diet Coke as you would think. I was this close to going to the store and drinking the entire 6-pack of 12 oz. bottles when I got home. But I didn’t. I was too upset to be out in public. There wasn’t a drop of Diet Coke in the house and I managed to calm down on my own. Heath hooked me up that night with comfort food and a feeding trough of DC.

I have old anxiety meds in the cupboard that I haven’t touched in years. I really wanted to take some for the second Monterey trip. I didn’t. The reason I didn’t was the reason why I completely forgot about them for our road trip to the Northwest this summer.

I had asked my crazy doctor for advice or drugs or whatever to get through that trip. She said she wouldn’t prescribe anything unless my regular doctor approved. I never heard from him! When she said that I started looking up information online about the meds we were discussing. She used the word tranquilizers which made me curious. I decided then and there I wasn’t going to take them. The article made them out to be illicit drugs and I wanted nothing to do with them after that. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my doctor never contacted me about it. I can take care of myself and just needed a push in the right direction.

Maybe all of this sounds weird to other people. It’s a big deal to me. Monterey has become more than just a fun place to visit with a cool aquarium. It has been a journey in mental health for me.

Our membership passes will expire soon. Heath was asking me if we should renew. I don’t know. I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s funny that I can only stand to visit a zoo once every five or more years. But an aquarium is different. I can visit one three times in a year and not get bored! We’ll probably let the kids be the deciding vote.

A Smashing Success

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This is not a clown pose. There is a more wildly true explanation. It involves a road trip, hotel amenities, and the man who breaks anything with a handle.

We just got back from our third overnight trip to Monterey this year. Actually Heath and I stayed two nights. Grandma and Grandpa took the kids home after the first night. The house is still standing and the kids are still alive. More importantly Grandma and Grandpa were still talking to us and seemed happy. Whew!

The only complaint was that Heath took Grandma’s crafting friend away from her today. Gwen was a good stand in. I guess I’m not as easily replaceable as I thought. I still don’t regret buying 20 ceramic mini loaf pans in the Gilroy Michael’s today. That was a task I was not looking forward to. The only way I felt like I could handle a trip to my local Michael’s store was if my mother in law accompanied me. Heath came with me instead and the Christmas gifts for the Primary workers are taken care of. At least my part of it.

But that’s not the story you tuned in for.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Inn and Spa. The hotel was as suave as its name. There were no bathrobes in the room with matching slippers. That took a shopping trip to the mall sans kids. The hotel did have some pretty nice extra curricular activities onsite.

They offered Marilyn Monroe massages at the hotel spa. Grandma meant to get a massage but with all the running around and playing we did, she ran out of time. Which is too bad because I would be curious to know what makes a massage a Marilyn Monroe massage. There was a hotel TV channel about it but it was largely uninformative. It was more like a 24/7 infomercial.

We also didn’t get mani pedis either. Bummer. Gwen wanted to play around on the golf course but with all the golfers on the course Heath talked her out of it … by insisting that she stay off the grass. The pool was heated and looked quite nice. There was a shuffle board game that a cute family from San Diego had fun playing. We chatted with them a little while we played table tennis.

Heath and the boys played while I supported from a wooden deck chair. Grandpa Holmes liked to call the game ginick gi knop. The ball didn’t stay in play long enough to really hear that sound. The boys figured it out anyway. Sometimes the ball didn’t even make it over the net for a serve. The boys giggled a lot more than they hit the ball well. Of course that didn’t stop Heath from giving it his all. He never lets the kids win anything. I wonder where Parker gets his competitiveness from?

ping-pong

They’re playing and Parker is doing pretty well considering his dad shows no mercy.

more-ping-pong

Things heat up slightly.

Then Heath forgets he’s playing table tennis with his sons. The spectators are suddenly more than just his family and a friendly family from San Diego. He gets it in his head that he is playing the final tennis match at Wimbledon. It’s the championship point. Forget love.

The tiny plastic ball is suspended in midair and for a moment time stands still. The crowd holds its breath. The birds are silent. There is no more splashing in the pool. The breeze is stagnant. Shuffleboard quiets. All eyes are on the Cinderella story about to unfold.

Heath reaches up with his plastic paddle. He brings it down for the perfect smash. The ball soars up to the clouds with the impact. And comes crashing down in nearly two pieces.

ouch

Right onto the Little Miss’s nose.

Or some version of that story. The truth is he really smashed the ball like there was more on the line than gaining his children’s respect. The split on the ball wasn’t even along the seamline. Of course. Because it was hit by the same man who shattered a golf club by grazing it with a golf ball. Heath is the man! Don’t ever mess with him. Bragging rights were definitely earned. And I got to spend the night alone with him.

The first day of Thanksgiving Break

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The rain has slowed down for today. The sky tried spitting at us the tiniest bit this afternoon. Nothing is really forecast to fall until tomorrow. Hopefully it’s another decent sized storm. I’m loving the rain.

I felt like a terrible mother yesterday. I sent Gavin to his piano lesson on his scooter as usual. It was barely sprinkling when he left. He rode home through walls of water. Sorry kid!

Grandma and Grandpa arrived last night. Their flight was delayed because of leaking in the front bathroom. Sounds like a personal problem! I did not just say that out loud! Grandma called to let me know they were delayed and not to worry about them for dinner. They would get burgers or something. Mm burgers…

The rain was pouring down when we headed to Burger King. It lightened up quite a bit on the way home. Luckily that’s about when they landed. So it wasn’t too bad for them to drive in a rental car in the dark in the pouring rain. The weather cooperated and they made it safely.

When we got home I realized we needed to get online to secure our free tickets to the Nutcracker. Tickets would be available at 8 pm. I had left my phone at home so I missed the reminder. We got home at 8:15 and immediately got online. Saturday’s tickets were completely “sold out.” Friday was not an ideal day to watch the ballet but it was our only option. It’s only a two performance show.

We quickly secured four tickets. You can get no more than four at a time. Then I went back through the process to get one more. Huge sigh of relief. We got all five tickets for Friday the 5th. I am so excited. We have been wanting to watch the Nutcracker Ballet at Temple Hill since we moved here. But the free tickets go fast.

Usually one performance falls on my birthday so it’s ok we haven’t been able to go yet. This year we had to make it happen. I am so excited. Gwen is going to love it. And I really don’t care what the boys think. It’s going to be awesome.

Gavin went to school this morning. Poor kid. I felt so bad for him. Grandma and Grandpa arrived to be the adult supervision while Heath and I went to Gwen’s parent teacher conference this morning.

Gwen’s report card looks better than her brothers report cards in first grade! I know my kids are smart but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Gwen is doing. She’s reading above grade level and doing great all across the board.

Parker’s conference was fun yesterday. It was scheduled for about 15 minutes. We left 45 minutes later because we were all having so much fun talking about stuff and how cool Parker is. Mrs. O loves him. He’s a great kid. She said she sees leadership in him and will start to give him more opportunity to be a leader. I liked the way she described him. He’s popular. It’s that simple but she describes the situation as the other kids respecting him. They listen to what he has to say because he’s so thoughtful and kind when he speaks and he speaks when there is something worth saying. It’s a much more diplomatic way of saying he’s popular.

Gwen is also a social butterfly. I was happy to hear that she is appropriately social. I always worry because she can be bossy sometimes. And the girl drama…I don’t’ want to deal with girl drama. It sounds like she’s doing well. Mrs. M is trying to help Gwen expand her circle of friends a little just because she is BFF with Lauren. Mrs. M doesn’t want them to become dependent on each other. I really appreciate that.

There was already an incident where Gwen was losing her mind and not wanting to go to school because Lauren was going to be a flower girl in Canada or something. Gwen acted like a day at school without Lauren would be worse than death. She survived. The girls are darling together and I’m happy for their close friendship. I’m really glad that Mrs. M is stepping in to help them see the world of people outside the two of them.

It was just fun meeting with Mrs. M again. She has taught all three of our kids now. She’s amazing. We love her so much! After the meeting I was telling Heath that I love how she’s strict, consistent, and so much fun. She is the teacher Gavin needed. Parker and Gwen do well with her teaching style as well. Heath said that she reminds him so much of Mrs. Evans.

Mrs. M has a student teacher again this year and I was remembering my 20 weeks of student teaching. Every cooperating teacher I worked with hated me and I could not please any of them until my last five weeks. That’s when I was put in Mrs. Evans class. It was a completely different school nowhere near the first two schools I student taught at. The 6th grade team was incredible and Mrs. Evans loved me.

She turned around every criticism my other cooperating teachers had given me. She gave me confidence in my ability to teach. Pretty impressive after I was told over and over that maybe I needed to teach a different grade level. Or if I was student teaching a regular classroom they said I would be better in Special Ed and vice versa.

Mrs. Evans and the rest of the 6th grade team begged the principal to hire me. I loved working with them. When Heath compared Mrs. M to Mrs. Evans I could see it. They are both such strong women and they make me feel like I’m doing something right. Don’t we all do better with a positive person behind us? I love both these women! I love that Mrs. M has helped each of my children blossom into the students they are.

This afternoon we went shopping at the craft store. It’s tradition! First we had to go to Wal-Mart to pick up the Christmas gifts my mom ordered for the boys. After Wal-Mart we spent tons of time and money at JoAnn’s.

I forgot to grab the pattern and the coupons. Nice going Tristan. It was ok because Dawn is very visual and knew how much fabric to buy to make skirts for Gwen. She suggested Heath try to find coupons online. I was so glad he found the same coupons I was planning on using. I saved us $33. We still spent a lot of money but it could have been worse. For $100 we got three skirts for Gwen, 16 reversible placemats (so basically 32 placemats), and Christmas decorations because Christmas is my weakness.

Grandpa has played games with Parker all day. Gwen put herself in charge of the money because she didn’t understand the game and was losing. She didn’t want to freak out so she quit the game. I had to compliment her on her maturity.

Gavin keeps saying how happy he is and that today is a great day. I agree. It’s been very fun.

Rainmaker

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We have had a couple of days of misty sprinkly days. If it rains hard it’s only for a little bit and I’m cozy in my house, usually my bed, when it happens. The other day I went to pick up the kids from school. There were only a few sprinkles until I parked. Then it started really raining.

I wasn’t sure what to do. My kids didn’t have umbrellas and neither did I. I figured they would be fine. They would have to be since I was so unprepared. We weren’t going anywhere except to take Parker and his friend to Cub Scouts in the afternoon. If they got wet they got wet.

As luck would have it the rain lightened then stopped altogether. Just as kids started pouring onto the playground. Parker and Gwen made it to the van all dry. They knew it was raining and were grateful for the break that was long enough for them to walk to me.

Lightning doesn’t typically strike twice so to speak. Still I was hopeful. Just in case I grabbed an umbrella but not a jacket with a hood or real shoes. It was barely sprinkling as I drove to the school. The sprinkles became a little more steady when I parked. Then the drops began to fall hard and heavy. It could only be described as rain. Which soon became quite the downpour.

Gwen was in a dress. Surprise surprise. She chose to wear her seafoam green fleece pullover that didn’t match the dress at all. I suggested her denim jacket but she didn’t like that idea. I guess you’re only 6 once and can pick a non-matching jacket. Anyway this jacket was not going to provide any protection whatsoever from the sky showers.

Parker had a jacket with a hood so he was fine. He used to have an umbrella in his backpack at all times. Not this year. I was their only hope! Normally I don’t walk up to meet them after school. They find me on the street. I did walk in on Halloween because I felt bad that Gwen was scantily clad in a little ballerina outfit with a tiny little sweater. Plus it was raining. Misery loves company so I walked in!

Today I walked in so I could share my umbrella with her. I should have grabbed her princess umbrella before I left. Again, I didn’t think the sky buckets would open up and dump their contents on us right after school. My ballet flats were soaked by the time I got to their meeting spot. My toes were squishing in my “shoes” before we finished crossing the schoolyard.

I took my right shoe off to drive home. My shoes are weird. They curl up on themselves when I’m not wearing them. The bottoms are felt. I slipped and nearly fell on my head just walking on the tile in my house. There is no traction to speak of. My feet would almost slip off the pedals when I drove. I switched to another pair of shoes in the car for a while until I had worn those shoes enough to get used to them.

They don’t slip off the pedals anymore but they’re still made of nothing. Great California shoes until it rains. I need to get some real shoes for winter. I just don’t know what. The boots I bought don’t go with my pants. Apparently my skinny jeans aren’t skinny enough. I worry that I look like I’m wearing Mom jeans because the style has changed from skinny to jeggings. I know I’ve got great legs, but I can’t imagine myself wearing tights with jean stitching painted on and thinking that’s ok. I’m an adult! As it is my shoes are all terrible in rain.

The funny part of the rain today is that Parker has his parent teacher conference this afternoon. California had the driest winter in like a million years last winter. Except for the day I had to see his teacher for conferences. It poured and poured that day. It’s pouring and pouring now. I think Parker is the rainmaker.

Does the perfect man exist?

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Men are portrayed in the media as lazy and clueless. Women talk about men as if they are lazy and clueless.

If a guy is hot he’s still lazy and clueless.
If a guy is smart he’s still lazy and clueless.
If a guy is romantic he’s still lazy and clueless.
If a guy is athletic then for sure he is lazy and clueless.

By the way, guys can only have one positive trait. And they are still lazy and clueless.

I love this commercial because it shows a guy who is not lazy or clueless. It also reminds me of my husband. A man who is anything but lazy and clueless.

I love that he sees the world differently than I do. I see with my heart. He has the ability to separate heart from head but still use both as factors in decisions.

He never tells me not to feel the way I do. He listens to my complaints and often has brilliant suggestions to solve the problem. Most the time I don’t even know what the problem is! I’m too emotional to see it. His latest suggestion solved more than one problem and now I feel my confidence returning.

He’s the only one who knows the whole story while also knowing where my wings are. He encourages me to stand on the ledge and fly. He never judges when I don’t jump. He is patience personified.

usIs he perfect? I don’t think such a man exists. But I will say that my husband is perfect for me. He complements me better than anyone I have ever met. And he compliments me all the time! He also buys me roses for no reason. I have a beautiful bouquet I have been enjoying for days now.

When I grow up I want to be like my husband. He is the most Christ-like person I know. He’s awesome and our kids love him. Maybe he’s not perfect because no one is. But he’s my perfect.

Crafting Together

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A shirt for the paranoid.

Heath and Parker found this design online. Parker kept yelling, “That’s what I always thought!” Apparently he looks at electrical outlets and sees angry faces. It was the perfect design to put on his blank sweatshirt.

My new Cricut is really cool because of all the features it has. It has a knob you turn to tell it what it’s actually cutting – paper, cardstock, vinyl, iron on vinyl, etc. We told it we were cutting out an iron on. Heath loved the kiss feature. I just loved the fact that I didn’t have to experiment to find the right blade depth to cut at. It already knew to cut through the top layer only, known as kissing.

Heath also had a lot of fun harvesting the image. I came up with the word harvesting. Basically you peel off the excess then weed the image. Weeding is when you dig out the negative space in the letters. Then you transfer the image to your project. In our case it was the sweatshirt.

All of this was really fun and exciting. All the way until I had to iron on the image. The first time wasn’t hard. It involved a lot of the same steps as putting interfacing on fabric. I do that all the time. It got less fun each time I’ve had to iron down the corners of letters trying to come up.

I wouldn’t let Parker wear the sweatshirt to school on Friday because it was pajama day. I didn’t want there to be any association between bedclothes and his cool new sweater. Today was its debut appearance. I had to iron letters down again last night. I’m afraid half the image will come off in the wash. That will be really sad because it’s such a cool shirt for him.

Cricut did cover themselves by including a lawyeresque statement in the iron on instructions. They basically said to use the product at your own risk. They guarantee nothing. Now I know why. I’m less than impressed. Maybe it would have adhered better to different fabric but whatever. The damage is done. I’m either going to iron down the image every other day or it will all just wash off. Whatever is most inconvenient.

Based on our experience I don’t want to decorate Gwen’s jacket anymore. Her jacket will probably melt anyway since fleece is just recycled water bottles. You’re not supposed to iron it. I let her wear it to school today. She’s starting to be like her mother with all the jackets she has to choose from. Meanwhile Gavin continues to leave his jackets at school. I give up. This no locker thing is really annoying.

Last week Gwen brought home a Styrofoam plate to decorate for Thanksgiving. We used my Cricut to print and cut images to represent her thankful list. But I wasn’t happy. The plate still seemed boring. I kept rereading the instructions wondering how to be more creative with the plate. It’s not that big. Heath suggested I modge podge tissue paper on it before gluing on the images we cut.

Gwen and I sat together at my craft table with colored tissue paper and a paper bowl of watered down Elmer’s glue. We had a lot of fun turning the white plate into a sunny yellow plate with bright green trim. Then we can stick on the images. It will be cute. Hopefully it lives up to the reputation I have set for myself with that teacher. If I’m busy or tired I let the kids do their own art projects. But when it comes to first grade … I have to bring my A game. Mrs. M expects it!

On an unrelated note, I wasn’t able to go into Gwen’s class today. The little boy I tutor is on vacation this week. With two days of no school last week I could only tutor on Thursday. I was bummed to realize I wouldn’t be able to see him again until after Thanksgiving break. He’s such a cutie. He gave me a hug when I sent him back to class.

I could have used an excuse to get out of the house today. It’s been a rough weekend. I made a choice that wasn’t wrong but it was against the wishes of a Primary Presidency member. We’ll say it that way. After stressing and worrying for days I thought it would blow over by Sunday. Not so much. You would think I declared war or something. I had a lot of Diet Coke and chips today.

At least it’s a short wacky week. Heath’s parents get here on Thursday. His mom can help me craft my pervasively blah mood away. I’m looking forward to the vacation from my head.

Velma, you are grounded!

Electricity changed the world. It increased the quality of life for humankind. Soon people couldn’t live without it. As if that wasn’t amazing enough we surpassed ourselves. Batteries were introduced. Portable electricity.

Just about everything runs on batteries it feels like. My kids are constantly asking for batteries. I’m always wondering, “Didn’t I just change the batteries in that thing?” “Where is the charger?” I have a secret stash of AAA batteries in my room for my insulin pump. I am the Bionic Woman and without those batteries I would die. Batteries are very important.

I just wish I understood battery life. Why do some things run on batteries forever while other things need new batteries so often? Like my van for example.

The dealership guys called back with a diagnosis for my van. Heath used a lot of words I didn’t understand. Even when I had him give me a vocab lesson mixed with a science lesson on how things work I was still a little lost. What I did understand was that Velma gets a new battery. Which kind of makes me mad since the battery died on me just a little over a year ago on the first day of school.

Oh Velma your days are numbered!

Two batteries in two years. I’m not a math whiz but that seems pretty pathetic. I also fill up my gas tank every 10-14 days. And I don’t even go anywhere! Hybrid SUV? Yes please!

What an adventure this has been. The tow truck guy was super nice and very patient. We couldn’t get the van into neutral because the gearshift is completely locked unless the car is on. But we couldn’t turn anything on. The lights didn’t even come on when the doors were open. Everything was dark and dead. I had a very large paperweight sitting in my garage.

Hoping against hope, Heath asked me to try to shift into neutral. I’m short and drive with the seat close to the wheel. Heath’s tall frame can’t even pretend to get into the seat when it’s adjusted for me. Since everything in that van requires power we couldn’t move the seat. I got in and pushed on the brake while trying to shift. Nothing. Not even when I didn’t apply the useless brake. The knob on the side of the shifter that allows it to be moved was locked.

No neutral meant no moving the van. Like I said, very large paperweight. So Heath called the dealership to figure out how to do unlock the gearshift. When we bought the van the sales guys couldn’t find the manual. We have never had one for this van and there have been a couple times a manual would have come in handy.

Dealership guy explained that there is a small circle on the dashboard near the gearshift. If we could open that it would unlock the gearshift. I dug at it with my fingernails. Heath tried to dig at it too. Tow truck guy held up a small screwdriver. We moved so he could pry the circle up. With the cap out we could finally shift into neutral. Since I parked perfectly straight it was easy to push Velma right onto the trailer.

Initially the dealership guys guessed there was an electrical issue. Apparently as soon as Velma got to the dealership she was so excited to be home she lit up like a Christmas tree. Everything worked perfectly. Stupid van. The guy realized how maddening it must be for Heath to see his towed van working. Kind of like when your kids are sick and you finally decide to see a doctor. As soon as you get there the kids are totally fine. Way to go Velma.

The guy said, “I’m going to turn the key. This might make you really mad!” He turned the key. Velma did exactly what she did to me earlier. There was a small spark by the ignition and everything went dark. That’s when he said there must be an electrical issue.

We really hoped it was caused by the sliding doors since that was listed as a factory recall. Something about how the doors wear on the electrical insulation causing it to short out. An electrical issue made sense. That would explain why the seats often try to squish my children while we drive. It would explain the left blinker that works intermittently. Usually when it got all hyper blinker on me Heath could punch the taillight and that would fix the blinker! This last time it didn’t work.

Today the dealership guys called and said Velma would be all better tomorrow before noon. Yay! As fun as it is to drive Heath’s car in the rain I’m looking forward to having my car back.

My oil will be changed on the condition that they reset the warning light. Actually the guy said he would show us how to reset it ourselves. Yeah that’s nice but can you just reset it yourself since that’s kind of your job! I get a new battery. That still burns me up. I just bought a battery!

They said something about the coolant was leaking and something about the ground and something about the battery. Heath tried to explain it but I’m an idiot. So I don’t quite understand how the coolant affects the battery and not the engine but causes small electrical ground issues that make Velma shut down faster than an angry student doing work they don’t understand. Whatever.

The other thing I didn’t understand was how a module was showing an error but it’s not failing. I definitely did not inherit my grandpa’s mechanical understanding! Whatever the module is and whatever is going on with it, the guy said that it is most likely related to an issue that is about to become a recall for all Dodge, Chrysler, and Volkswagen minivans. If we wait on that part and they issue a recall notice we can have it fixed for free. We’re on the waiting list. For now it will cost us $600 or $700 to fix everything else wrong with our stupid van. Oh Velma your days are numbered.

Faulty Ignition

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My phone was alarming as it does every afternoon at 2:45. Time to pick up the kids from school. Since it’s Wednesday and the whole school gets out at 3:00 I decided to leave right away. I grabbed some slip on ballet flats and headed out the door.

The garage door finished opening all the way as I put my key in. There was a quick flash of light at the ignition and then nothing. No sound. No car lights. Nothing.

I turned the key several times. Nothing.

I texted Heath and walked back inside. Just closed the garage door and hoped for inspiration. What now? Heath called and I explained what happened. He left work immediately and I got on the phone for help.

First I called the school to say I couldn’t get my kids because my car wouldn’t start. The secretary was calm. She asked if there was anyone else they could go home with. No. I have no neighbors with kids at that school. 

I thought of one neighbor who lives a couple doors down but I have no idea what grade her daughter is in. She’s not on my emergency contact list. I know she would take my kids home for me but I don’t know her number and she had probably already left by that point. Of course as I type this now I think of a family in the ward who could’ve helped. I always forget that family moved to the top of the street with no name and their kids go to the same school as mine. There are only three families in the ward, including my own, who go to that school.

The only people I could think of were my friends with school age children. I called Abigail. As her phone rang I remembered that hers is the third family that goes to the same school. She has a kindergartener who is already home and she’s on my emergency contact list. No answer. I left a message anyway.

Then I called my next door neighbor. No answer at home but I did have her cell number. She answered right away. I explained the situation and she asked if I needed her to pick up all my kids or just the elementary kids. She was at the middle school picking up her daughters. I told her that Gavin takes the bus and I just needed help with the other two. She said she could pick them up as soon as she was done at the middle school.

I called the school back to let them know. They know Carol and I believe she’s on my emergency contact list. That’s when my heart started pounding. Heath was heading to BART. My kids would be taken care of and the situation finally sunk in.

It’s funny how my mind is clearing and now I’m thinking of other people I could have called for help. The other people could have helped but it would have been a juggling act. I’m so thankful for my neighbors that I have carpooled with for so many years.

Velma will be towed in about two hours. Who knows what we do from here? I guess I better get used to Heath’s car. That’s how my kids will get to and from school this week. Kind of crazy to think that after they had two days off from school with nowhere to go, or at least another car to drive, now my car poops out!

Fearing Fear

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In the kitchen upstairs, Mom would ask for an item located in the dreaded basement. The lucky child (often me) would then turn from the warm and inviting land of the living. Sometimes I wish I had leaned in for one final hug before staring imminent death in the face.

It took just a couple steps to cross the threshold from the kitchen to the hallway. The hallway led to bedrooms on one side and opened to the living room on the other side of the kitchen wall. Just in front of the hallway were the stairs.

The first flight wasn’t scary at all. Life was still buzzing all around. Lights were still bright. Even reaching the front door didn’t dim the lights. Not really anyway. It just felt like it. Because at the front door we had to turn to head down the second flight of stairs facing the opposite direction. That was noticeably darker. Maybe it’s just my imagination but it seems like there was no light switch illuminating that last set of steps into the basement.

I seem to remember that basement door being painted black and it was often closed. At least it was when we were harboring a minion of Satan, otherwise known as our evil black cat Rashka. Her kitty litter was in the basement and there was a mutual hatred between the family and her. She would gouge the door with her claws in protest of her false imprisonment. I hated that cat!

We didn’t have the cat all that long. I was allergic to her and frankly we didn’t enjoy being terrorized by our own pet. Still I remember that dreaded basement door being shut more often than not. It only added to the agonizing anticipation to have to turn the knob and open the door into black oblivion.

It’s not like there was a convenient light switch just inside the door. There was a phone on the wall. It would have been easy to call 911 even in the dark. Lift the receiver, feel for the second to last hole, spin it around, feel for the first hole, spin it twice, wait for dispatch or death. Whichever comes first.

No, there were no lights for several feet beyond the gold sculpted carpet square at the bottom of the stairs on the live side of the basement door. Inside the basement door was cold concrete and thick air. I know because I had to wave my hand in it frantically reaching for the pull string of the first light bulb.

Successfully turning that light on did not dispel evil. There was no lampshade to soften the light but even then the light didn’t reach far. Just enough to create horrifying shadows everywhere as I walked to the next light bulb hanging from the ceiling. At least the next pull string was visible.

With as much light illuminating the basement as possible, it was still a terrifying adventure to get to the food storage located under the stairs. I had to walk past the roughed in bathroom and then the washing machine. The drain in the floor always reminded me of the fat rodent that sat on it one day while my mom was doing laundry and we were playing in another room. *shudder*

Past the laundry area was the door to outside. My dad easily kicked the door in when we accidently left the keys inside and were locked out. My brother also kicked in that rickety piece of wood when the house key hadn’t been replaced in the shed outside. Not always the safest realization when alone in the basement! Adjacent to the door was a massive black pot bellied stove.

One final room before the canned food. That room at least had shag carpet covering the cold cement floor. It also held forgotten memories of furniture. The white piano and the orange velvet couch among other furniture and random storage. I carefully tiptoed through the labyrinth until I reached the wooden studs separating the storage area from the rest of the room. Now to find the green beans.

If I couldn’t find the green beans I would grab corn. Anything edible to take back to my mom. I would grip the food tightly while taking a deep breath. My hands shook a little as I yanked the darkness back into the room with the light bulb pull cord. My steps quickened toward the next light. Then I bolted from the oppressive darkness, taking the stairs two at a time, back up into the warm kitchen.

My childhood basement was the scariest place I could think of. Over time I realized I wasn’t alone. Basements are just creepy places. Nobody wants to hang out in the basement!

That being said I am annoyed that California homes don’t typically have basements. I could use the storage space. Alas, we have no basement. Just a nice upstairs and downstairs.

Gwen is terrified of the upstairs. To be more specific she is afraid of being alone upstairs. If everyone is upstairs then suddenly we are torturing her by asking her to be alone downstairs. I usually give in and let her turn the TV on for company.

This is a girl so extroverted she cannot be alone for any length of time. Tears and fears are her excuses for human interaction. We send her to bed and she stalls until her boys go up with her. She cannot brush her teeth unless someone is up there with her. Eventually we manage to cut off the stall tactics and all three kids are upstairs, supposedly in their own beds.

Gwen comes down. She can’t sleep. Granted it’s only been thirty seconds but long enough that she knows sleep will elude her all night. She must inform us. Then get angry with us for not allowing her to have a sister to share a room with! The sister fight comes up when she has to clean her room too. Somehow she can make the mess herself but it requires a sibling to help clean it up. Oh the jealousy that her brothers have each other to fight with over cleaning!

I just love that Gwen spends as much time as she does crafting theories and proofs that the upstairs is terrifying. We must be the cruelest parents on the planet to expect her to be alone upstairs. Where it’s carpeted, nicely furnished, well lit, and a place our entire family sleeps safely. If she only knew. There are far more scary places than the loneliness of her bedroom.

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