Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Big Catch

Last week, a good friend of ours took the boys on a fishing expedition. They'd been looking forward to it for weeks, and even though the forecast was grim (read wind, rain, floods, etc.), their outlook was sunny.

Jack caught the first (and biggest) fish of the day. He was shocked, thrilled, brave, and strong. He reeled it in all by himself, with great care and thought.

When the next line tugged, it was Grant's turn. He bravely reeled the line up into the boat, guided by Steve.

He then stood by watching Alan hook the fish on to the hand-held scale. He held the scale and posed for a picture.

As soon as the camera went "click", so did Grant. He dropped the fish—scale and all—and ran into Steve's arms sobbing. I'm not sure if he was scared of the fish, or bothered by the fact that the creature who moments before had been happily swimming through the water was now flopping around on the boat gasping for air.

In all, six handsome trout met their demise that day.

The highlight for both boys was the fact that there was no "mom" on the boat. When they were hungry (which was about 5 minutes after they left the dock, and every 5 minutes for the rest of the day), Steve and Alan told them to grab something out of the cooler. They ate whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted for the whole entire day. When they got home, I asked what they had for lunch. "Oreos and Ritz crackers, chips, and juice pouches."

Jack couldn't wait to eat the fish. We made fish tacos when we got home. Grant wanted nothing to do with it. Who knows if he'll ever eat fish again. Heaven help us if he figures out where beef, pork, or chicken come from . . . we may have a future vegetarian on our hands!

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Liners

It seems that I've forgotten how to speak in complete sentences. At least when it comes to getting the kids ready and out of the house to school. This is how our morning conversations have been lately. . .

Change the names, and it's like I wrote it. Or at least am living it. No wonder it's tough for kids today to write a complete sentence. They never hear one!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ages and Stages

It's no secret that Steve loves cars. We've gone through our fair share of wheels in our 15 years together.

When we met, Steve had a Toyota pickup truck with one side smashed in, and had just totaled a Porsche. I drove an Audi. Steve replaced his Porsche with a sleek black BMW 525.

We got married, sold the Audi, and I drove the BMW.

Then I got pregnant. We decided we needed a more family-friendly vehicle, so we sold the BMW and bought a Ford Expedition.

Just weeks after buying the Expedition, we bought our first house - and spent every weekend driving out to check on the building progress!

Then Steve decided it was time to upgrade his beat-up Toyota, so we bought a Ford F-150 truck.

Steve rode BART to work every day, so the truck didn't get used much, and the Expedition was our main mode of family transportation.

He soon realized that the truck drove exactly like the Expedition, and even the interiors were almost identical. It didn't take long before he wanted a fun car to toot around in on the weekends, so it was time to sell the F-150 and replace it with a BMW M-3.

It was a super fun car to drive. So fun in fact, that I got two tickets within six months driving it.

Then, I got pregnant again. There was no fitting a baby seat in the back of the M-3, and with gas prices going up (to like $2 a gallon . . . remember those days?), we decided I should have a more economical everyday car than the Expedition. So we sold the M-3, and bought a VW Passat. We kept the Expedition for road trips and such, but my main drive was the VW.

One day shortly after Jack was born, I was in bed with the flu and Steve decided to take Olivia out for the afternoon to give me some time to rest. I woke up to the phone ringing.

Steve: "Honey, can you come down and open the garage?"

Me: "OK . . . but why? What happened to the remote?"

Steve: "Uuhhhhh, I just want to see if it will fit . . . "

I dragged myself out of bed, walked downstairs, and opened up the garage. There in the driveway was a full size GMC Conversion Van.

(This is almost the exact van, minus the raised roof)

Steve had found a deal he couldn't pass up, and thought this was the greatest set of wheels ever. I was too sick to protest, so we traded in the Expedition for a gigantic van. Complete with a fold-down queen size bed in the back. The kind of van that you'd see with a bumper sticker reading "If the van's a rockin', don't come a knockin' . . ."

I must admit, it was comfy for long trips. But for everyday driving, it was not so good. Hefting a 30 lb carseat up and in was no easy feat. But again, I drove the Passat for everyday, so it wasn't too bad.

Then we moved. Steve was now driving to work everyday instead of riding public transportation. He obviously opted for the more gas-friendly wheels, leaving me with the van that wouldn't even fit in a standard parking space at Safeway.

After a few weeks of that, I had had enough. That very weekend, I got a minivan. I swore I would never be "one of those moms". Minivans weren't cool, classy, or stylish. But once I saw the very many convenience features for moms with young kids, like power sliding side doors, a power lift gate on the back, and all the cargo space in the trunk, I was sold!

I drove the minivan into the ground, and converted several "unbeliever" friends along the way (to minvans, not my religion!).

We've had a couple other cars in the meantime - Steve missed having a truck, so a few months after we bought the minivan, he traded in the Passat for another F-150. Then, a few years later, he missed having a car, so added a leased and luxurious Infiniti M-35 to the fleet. All the while, my minivan kept on chugging along.

Last November, the service technicians discovered a leak in the cooling system and a cracked transmission. We bit the bullet and repaired them . . . to the tune of over $2K. Not so fun anytime, but especially just before the holidays. But we figured it was cheaper than a new car!

Last week, during a routine service, several other big ticket items were discovered and diagnosed. It was time to say goodbye.

While I contemplated getting another van, Steve convinced me to try something different. Like this . . .

Just kidding (okay, not really . . . in Steve's dream world, this would be his car of choice, though maybe not this color!)

All the kids are now capable of buckling themselves in the car. We aren't hauling strollers and other baby paraphernalia around any more. There's not as much need for the easy in/easy out features of a minivan.

We are now the proud owners of a Buick Enclave. It seats 8 (one more than the minivan did!), but feels like a car. I love it. It even has a DVD player (which wasn't intentional - we just couldn't locate an 8-passenger one without it). Road trips are gonna be a dream.

While this may be our 12th set of wheels in just under 14 years of marriage, I think we set a record with both our minivan and Steve's truck. Seven years, 130,000 miles, and hundreds of memories. It was time to let go of that stage of life, and move on to the next one. I can't wait to see where this one takes us!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Who you callin' heavy?

I spent last weekend up in Seattle at my annual girls' scrapbook retreat. After a month of intense writing with my mom (update on that coming soon), it was a much needed respite.

I flew up late Wednesday night, leaving my husband and kids in the capable hands of my amazing MIL.

Thursday morning, we headed up to the retreat location, an isolated house on 20 acres on a hill overlooking Seattle. It was snowing like crazy, creating a winter wonderland. We got settled in, and spent the next 3 1/2 days eating, laughing, being creative, and eating some more. The food was amazing, plentiful, and served hot every 4-5 hours. In between, there was an assortment of sweets and snacks available.

While I choose to do my scrapbooking digitally, I still lugged my full scrapbook with me in my suitcase. I wanted to be able to page through it as I worked, looking for "holes" in my record-keeping so that I don't leave things out. The book is heavy. It weighs close to 15 pounds.

Sunday evening, it was time to head back to reality. My suitcase was packed, and heavy. I felt bloated and full from three full days of eating easily twice my normal caloric intake.

As I was checking my suitcase, the Southwest Airlines clerk looked right at me, and said "You'd better watch your weight." It took me a full minute to realize he was referring not to me, but to my bag.

It's time to get serious about getting back into shape, and ready for my summer wardrobe. No more messin' around. Stay tuned on my progress.

In the meantime, here's a sneak peak at what I accomplished over the weekend: