A trip to test your nerves

The other weekend my older brother invited us to enjoy a vacation he has coined the “Dadventure.” Since Jess is the only Dad in our family and none of our kids are 16+, I weasled myself (and my kids) into this vacation because I like fast cars, and luckily my brother made an exception. So we got up early Saturday morning and headed to Vegas. We like to go there not because of the usual reasons, but rather, because of the unusual. The “Dadventure” is an adventure because not too much is planned yet you end up experiencing much. 

Our first stop was for dinner and to get there, we had to walk through a casino. The boys were in awe. Neon slot machines everywhere. We had to keep Ansel moving along or he never would have made it to the restaurant. Plus we had to get out of the smoke smell. Ansel kept commenting, “Mom, these guys should stop smoking!” Oliver wanted to know what kind of odds these games involved. My brother was explaining craps to him and roulette. I learned a few things myself. Ian was being loved by his older cousins. 

The night was young so we stopped at the Stratosphere. Apparently it’s the second tallest building in the United States. We went to the top and enjoyed the view. 

Ollie got a neat shot of the building’s shadow. It’s kind of like Las Vegas’ own Space Needle. 

The views were cool. Perfect place for the sunset. 

But we didn’t stop at the views. We decided to ride the  Big Shot. That’s the ride on top of the building that shoots you up as you pull 4 Gs. Then you drop at -1 Gs. I’ll spare you the video of us riding it, but I was terrified. Especially during the drop!

The next few days we stopped at different hotels to check out things. We couldn’t believe the enormity of these places. Caesar’s Palace goes on forever! And we decided the Luxor would be a great place to film a mystery film. We had lunch at the Aria buffet and the kids tried king crab legs. 

Then we were off to the speedway. 

There were lots of cool cars. Cars I’ve only read about, so it was neat to see them up close and sit in them. I chose to drive the Aston Martin Vantage.

Jess drove the Porsche GT3. He said it was a lot of fun. We both wanted to take some more laps. 
The cars were fast. We drove in ways that make you sweat. It was nerve racking but fun. As we went around the track we drove with a coach who told us what to do and how to take the turns. His words went something like this, “Shift up, again, 100 percent gas, good, now brake hard, shift down, turn, trust the car, now 40, 60, 100 percent gas.” This was constant. I felt like I was going 200 mph. That was until my brother passed me in his race car equipped Porsche. Haha! My dad took a turn in the Acura NSX. I’d like to drive that car one of these days. 

Ansel’s hair matched this DB11. And Ollie was keeping it cool by the Porsche. 

The funnest thing was to see my brothers, Dad and the older cousins interact with my boys. They took such care being interested in their lives and what they are doing. My kids will remember that! So will I. 


Valentines Day

I very am grateful for this group. I love them lots and lots and lots. 

And on this day, but really everyday, I cherish the friendship with and the love I have for the man on the left. 

Here’s an excerpt of a post I wrote a few years ago and never pressed “publish.” It still is apropos for today. 

Indeed, I've got a great Valentine. I remember years ago when Jess and I were dating as freshmen. He gave me a card and some flowers and thanked me for being his Valentine. Man! I felt so special (and nervous that I liked him so much).

Life gets busy. We sure fill it with lots of stuff. Sometimes Jess and I get so busy we don't have a moment to talk. By the end of the day we're so tired that I think we'll be zonked out right as we hit the pillow. But then we start talking. 

And talking. 

And talking. 

And then when we're nearing the end of conversation, one of us says, "ok, just one last thing..." But it ends up not being the last thing. And we talk and talk more. And we laugh and laugh. We think we are so funny. And I cherish those moments. Smiling, thinking, wondering, discussing. There, when both of us are just bushed, but we can't seem to stop. 

Some of the talking is important. Some of it is not. Like, take for instance last night, we talked about what we wore in 8th grade.  Me, a thermal gray shirt with oversized hand-me-down gap jeans cinched with a braided belt; and he, a teal hockey jersey with cream jeans. See why we laugh?

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Give out some hugs. 



Recently, this guy turned 6. 

It seems like we’ve been celebrating all month long. Ansel has a way of thinking of doing lots of fun stuff and then adding, “Let’s do it because it’s my birthday!” I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again, having a birthday in February is really great because not much is going on which makes everyone jump at the chance to celebrate. 

We went bowling. Look at the jumping! Such excitement. 

Ansel was very pumped to get a spare. 

Oliver was equally pumped to get his first strike. 

And Ian was ambivalent. He wanted to play the arcade games instead. 

We also went to the museum and the kids climbed in the jungle. 

We stopped at the roller skating rink for an afternoon of crazy fun. Jess and I realized we will never go to this place on a Saturday again. It was very busy! The things we do for our kids. This year was an off year for a birthday party so we caved.

We also had a chance to go out to eat (twice!) and have grandma and grandpa over for a special dinner. It’s been fun celebrating this guy. He is one awesome kid. 

I should mention that this photo was taken this morning after he decided to make a Valentines Box even though in Kindergarten they don’t do boxes but design bags at school instead. It’s Shaun the Sheep, a claymation character the kids can’t get enough of. His idea, his workmanship. He says he’ll use it next year. However, something tells me he’ll have another equally cool idea next year. 


Ski day

On Saturday we woke up and realized our day was free. This doesn’t happen too often so we hit the slopes. The older two loved it! Their only complaint was that we hadn’t done it sooner. Jess was a trooper and hung out with Ian at the lodge. We were supposed to switch off going skiing with the kids but time flies and we decided we’d only put in a half day so we wouldn’t get stuck in exiting traffic. That was a good plan and it was a fun day!



Let me take a moment and talk about this guy:

He is such a ham! He likes to tell me “go!” when we are at a stop light. He loves to eat melted cheese on crackers for breakfast. And he only eats the cheese. He loves to hang out with his big brothers. In the photo below, Ollie is giving him a piggy back ride. 

He loves the snow. He likes to eat snow in every form. Solid, liquid, fresh, and crusty. Today he asked me why some snow in our yard was yellow. I told him what it was and not to eat it. I was still worried he’d try it. He loves the snow and just yesterday he told me it tasted like sugar. 

He loves to be with mom and dad. He is the only one of our children who Jess and I have agreed to sleep in his room during nap time. This is a miracle and shows how much we love the guy. That, or we’ve softened as parents. Ha!

He loves to draw, paint, and roll clay. 

And when it’s too bright outside, it’s imperative he wear sunglasses. 

The only problem is that he’s growing too fast. But to watch him grow is the best. 


Auto show

This year we headed out to visit the car show. Ansel’s all about spotting different cars on the road, coloring pictures of cars, and reading books about cars so we had to go. It’s the same thing year after year so sometimes we skip, but we had a great time this time around. Ansel would get into each car and act as if he were driving speedily around the race track. 

Oliver and Ansel were checking the trunk capacity of every car. 

And they each took a turn at the Virtual Reality Prius Car Ride with a crash test dummy. 

Ollie liked getting in the comfy seats and lounging.

And Ian was taking it easy. 

It was fun to see the latest and greatest in the auto world. 


The GeoBee and rosy cheeks

Ollie was in the Geography Bee at his school the other day. It was an intense experience. Ten kids from the 4th and 5th grade were chosen based on a test they’d taken a few weeks prior. They sat on the stage, each with a whiteboard and marker, in front of their classmates and teachers, parents and the principal. They were asked questions and slowly whittled down to five. 

And then a couple more rounds and they were down to two. All the while answering questions like: what is the most populated Scandinavian country? And what kind of animal lives in the Appalachian mountains and can squirt blood out of its eyes?

Ollie was in the championship round which was the best of three questions. Neither of them got the first two right, and then, finally, the last question was about where the biggest national park in Central America is. The two kids guessed, and the answer was Panama. Ollie took second place and was such a good sport. He clapped for his competition and gave him a handshake and a fist bump. At that moment, I was so proud of him. Afterward, I shot a pic as he was congratulated by his classmates. I think he was glad to be done. Look at those rosy cheeks, it was stressful!

That morning he had told me he was worried he’d be the first one out. He was nervous but he did it anyway and said a prayer and gave it his best. Well done Ollie!


Welcome 2019

Around here, our year started off like this:

We all had a legit flu virus and during those days I thanked the universe for ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Fevers were high and coughs were thick. But we are near the end of it and I’m starting to do stuff like laundry and vacuuming and I’m loving every minute of it! It’s always great to feel healthy after a sickness. 

We had a wonderful Christmas with some beautiful days. Look at this morning we spent sledding:

And here’s a handmade gift made by Ansel. It’s a leaf man. Look at those eyes and smile!

Here’s to 2019!


Is going backward fashion forward?

The other day I almost bought a sweater that was called “the 1988 rollback.” 

The sandals my niece wore to a recent school dance were practically straight from my sister’s 1990s closet. 

Today I did my hair similar to how my mom used to do it when I was around 10. Take note, I very much disliked the hairdo as a child. 

What is my takeaway from this? Never give anything to the DI or Good Will. Or, continue to dress like you did as a kid or teen and eventually you will look good again. I think my uncle did and he’s always looked classy. Then again, he lived during the fifties.