Saturday, September 29, 2007

In other news

Yes I know it’s not all about me, so here’s what’s been going on with the rest of my family. Kaylee tested and got into the G.A.T.E. program. She had her first meeting yesterday and she was happy to see that her best friend from first grade and her best friend from second grade were both there. She is really excited. Also she taught herself to ride a bike last week. She said, “You know I really think a kid my age should know how to ride a bike.” Our backyard isn’t very big, but I think that helped her have the confidence to try. Now she and her brother and sister will ride around in circles for hours.

Ashton has decided that she really likes the running part of P.E. I wish I could share that passion. She is the fastest girl in her class, but when she comes home she complains about how much her legs and feet hurt. I'm hoping a better pair of shoes will help.

Aiden loves his preschool. When I first told him I was signing him up he said, “That’s okay, I don’t want to go there.” My nephew goes with him and they have a lot of fun

Dalin has learned to bark like a dog and he will say daddy. This term means mom and dad because when I try to get him to say mommy, he looks straight at me and says “adee” as if to say duh, that is what I’m saying. It' fun to watch how much Dalin likes Chris, especially after having Ashton and Aiden who felt like they were attached to my hip when they were his age.

Chris and I do a babysitting exchange with my two brothers and last night was our turn to watch the kids. There are ten kids all together ages 1-8. It’s usually runs pretty smoothly because they all get along really well and just play the whole time, but there is ten of them. The high school football field is at the end of our street and we heard the band playing so we decided to take all the kids down to see if there was a game. The game hadn’t started yet, but it was kind of funny to watch people pass us because I could see them counting how many kids we had. At one point the cheerleaders from the visiting team passed and Ashton and her cousins Emily, Abby and Rachel said hi to them. The cheerleaders said hi back, and that made their night. Ashton was telling anyone who would listen that they actually talked to cheerleaders. It was kind of cute, but I hope she grows out of it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reno, San Francisco and the Big 3-0; Bonus Features

This really is going to be the last part of the birthday trip story. You would think that there was adventure enough, but is that all the stories a 30 year old can have? It’s time for bonus stories. We got to the airport about an hour before our flight was supposed to leave and the airport was pretty dead. We went to the desk to check in and the attendant looked at my drivers license and asked if I had a sticker. It took me a second, but then I realized that my license had expired on my birthday. When I flew out it wasn’t a big deal because it was my birthday. He said it wasn’t a big deal, but when he tore up my boarding pass, I got a little worried. He printed up a new boarding pass and sent me to security. I got to go in the “special” security line where they wiped down all of my stuff with the bomb finding wipes and sent me into the air chamber. After a few unexpected puffs, I was finally able to go on my way. Luckily I had checked both of my bags, and I only had my purse and shoes otherwise it would have taken a lot longer. I had the camera amongst my security risks or I would have had Chris take a few pictures. The whole thing made me laugh, but only because there wasn’t very many people in the airport, The funny thing is that I went through the security metal detector thing and after I passed through it I realized that I had my cell phone and some change in my pocket, things which should have set off the alarm. Makes you wonder.

Anyway, aside from the obnoxious girl who thought she had to talk louder than the music playing in her headphones and who wouldn’t sit down and buckle her seatbelt the five times the captain mentioned that the sign was on (the flight attendants had to be in their seats so they couldn't do anything), it was a good trip home. Our flight only had 19 people on it and everyone could have had their own two rows if we had wanted. It was a little turbulent, but we made it home safely and the whole trip was fantastic and I am so glad Chris and I were able to have that time together.

Reno, San Francisco and the Big 3-0; Part III

Okay this story is taking longer to tell than I thought it would so I’m going to try and get done. When we woke up on Saturday it was raining pretty steadily, and we had planned on taking a boat tour of the bay so we were a little disappointed. Luckily the rain had mostly stopped by the time we got downtown. We couldn’t really complain because the weather had been beautiful the whole time we were there so a few sprinkles were okay. We finally got our cable car ride, which we took to Fisherman’s Wharf. We bought tickets for the tour and then we had an hour to wander around pier 39. Because of the rain we didn’t see as many street performers as we had hoped, but it was fun nonetheless. There is an area at the pier that is sectioned off for a bunch of sea lions. They have these wooden slats that they hang out on, and from what I saw, they don’t really do a whole lot. It’s against the law to feed them, so they must have to go out and find food once in a while, but it seemed like a small area for so many animals.

Our tour went under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz a couple of times and over to the Bay Bridge. It was interesting to hear some of the stories, and to get to see the view of the city from the bay. The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge is amazing, even more so when you think that it was done 70 years ago. They had worked on the project for four and a half years before there were any fatalities, which is amazing, because I recently found out that when construction companies bid on jobs they allot an amount for fatalities, at least in Las Vegas. We also found out that some of the guards at Alcatraz lived there with their families and their children would take a ferry to school everyday. I don’t think that is an environment I would want to raise me kids in, but one of the guards stories pointed out, at least you knew who was good and who was bad on that island and you couldn’t say the same for the main land. The tour was fun, but pretty cold for us desert dwellers.

After the tour we were going to take the cable car to Chinatown and walk around before we had to get to the airport. On our way we were stopped by a guy trying to get us to go listen to a 90 min. presentation. He didn’t tell us what is was for, but we figured it was for a timeshare. We told him we only had about an hour be fore we had to go and he said that was fine, “you can just watch the 20 min. video and tell them you aren’t interested.” We could get $150 cash card so we figured why not. We get to the presentation and there is no video and when we tell the guy that we have to leave by 4:00 (about an hour and 40 min from when we sat down) he said that definitely wouldn’t be enough time and usually it can take 4-6 hours. What the?!? He decided to do us the “favor” of trying to get through it quickly because he knew this was something we were really going to want. This wasn’t our first time at the races and we knew there wasn’t anything he could say that would sell us, but we wanted to get some souvenirs so we listened to him for a while. About 40 min. into the spiel (double the amount the guy on the street said we had to give him) I asked what the upfront cost would be. He pointed to a number that he had previously written down that was $2,500. I told him there was no way we would be able to put that much down today to which he replied, “Then why did you come up here, you knew what it was about.” Duh, we were there for what everyone else was there for, the free gift. We told him as much and he said, “You said you were willing to listen to a 90 min. presentation, so basically you’re just stealing.” I was done. This guy was starting to get rude and I told him I didn’t want to waste his time and I was ready to leave without the money. Chris asked what we needed to do to get the gift cards, so the guy continued to talk about how over 40 years we would be spending over $90,000 and wasn’t $2,500 a small price to pay to save a lot of money over the years. I told him we weren’t spending $90,000 that day so $2,500 still seemed like a hefty amount. He again told us we knew what we were coming to. The burden is on the sales people to change our minds, nobody goes ready to hand over a check. He told that it was just sad that we needed the $150 so much and he just seemed to get more and more agitated. At one point he asked, “How are your kids going to feel when their friends tell them about the great vacations they went on and your kids just have to stay home.” I just started shaking my head and said you have got to be kidding me. I was actually laughing, because I could not believe those words actually came out of his mouth. That line would make me laugh for the rest of the day. I told him that I honestly never remember being jealous of my friends vacations when I was growing up. He didn’t seem to believe me and asked where I went to school. So after insinuating that we were bad parents by not purchasing this time share, commenting on how he spent $4500 a month for his 600 square foot apartment and still managed to pay for this vacation plan (a gibe at how we managed our finances) and throwing in another “I just think it’s sad”, Chris said, “look I don’t appreciate you judging her.” (because the guy was talking mainly to me). His response, “I already have.” Then he walked off to get the person who would give us the gift cards. We were furious! This single guy with no kids has no idea what it takes to take a family of six on vacation, even if we had a timeshare and he is trying to judge us! We got a little checklist before the presentation of what these people would do for us. Among them were “treat you with respect” and “no high pressure sales tactics”. We met with his manager and went down the check list and he had failed every point on the list. Chris even said, “He’s lucky I’m not the fighting kind, otherwise I would have been over the table.” I thought it was sweet he would fight for me. The manager seemed appalled at the way we were treated and apologized. She also told us that was the second complaint she had received on that guy that day. We did finally get our money, but I tell you I feel like it was hard earned.

We were still going to try and make it to Chinatown, but it took forever to even get on the trolley, and then were packed in like tuna, so we decided it would be safer just to get the car and go to the airport

Reno, San Francisco and the big 3-0: Part II

I forgot to mention that my mom watched my kids while Chris and I were away so I have to give her and my brothers a serious shout out for the help. Thanks so much guys!

So on to part two. While we were in Reno there was an event called “Street Vibrations” going on. It is some kind of motorcycle convention or something, but there was hundreds of motorcyclist all over the city ad the surrounding areas. I don’t know exactly what they did there, but Chris was slightly fascinated by it and if he had the time he would have gotten his picture taken with a whole crew of the leather-clad hog riders.

When we were planning this trip last month we found out that San Francisco is only about a four hour drive from Reno, so we decided to make that part of our vacation. Some of the people Chris was working with while he was up there told him about a more scenic way to get there and it tool about the same amount of time. We thought that would be fun, so on Friday we left about our hotel around 10 to start adventure for the day. We stopped by a Starbucks so Chris could use the internet, he’ll say it was to get directions, but I think he was going through withdrawals because our hotel didn’t have internet access. Then we stopped by this really cute candy shop called the Chocolate Nugget, where I tried some of the jalapeño peanut brittle they had out for a sample. It didn’t taste bad, but after I was done my mouth was burning for about 20 min. So by the time we were actually on our way it was about noon. We were supposed to get the rental car back by 3 but we thought that since we had to wait almost a half hour to get it after we checked in that we might still have time to get it back to the airport and not get charged extra. The scenic route proved to be more stressful than we thought. The scenery was beautiful, but for about sixty miles we were on a two lane highway that took us through towns with stoplights so it wasn’t really as fast as we thought it was going to be. We did pass through this town called Kyberz that had its “Welcome to Kyberz” and “Now leaving Kyberz” messages on the same sign. But we were in to much of a hurry to stop and take a picture. We got about twenty miles from our destination and it was about 3:45 so we had hope that we would make it, then we hit California traffic. I know, we should have taken that into account from the beginning, but we didn’t and that last twenty miles took us over an hour to cover. We ended up dropping the car off at 5:00. We decided to fight the extra two hours they were going to charge us, because we had to wait so long to get the car in the first place. We were just trying to get one of the hours taken off, but they took off both so we were happy about that.

Our hotel was about nine miles from the airport, which when I booked it I didn’t think was a big deal, but there again was the traffic. It took us another 45 min. to get to our hotel, but it was so much nicer than the one in Reno, so it was alright. The place smelled nice and the décor was beautiful. We got ourselves checked in and unloaded then we headed to downtown San Francisco. Once again traffic, do you see a pattern here. Chris loved growing up in California, but I refuse to ever live there. If traffic wasn’t enough of a deterrent than the house prices are a sure sign that California and I were never meant to be. We finally got there about seven and we decided just to walk around the city. We found a place to have dinner called Mel’s drive-in Diner (even though it was a sit-down place) and it was really good, I would recommend it. We thought we wanted to ride the cable car, but we found out it was $5 each way so we decided to wait until the next day to do that. There was a ticket booth by the trolley stop but it was closed for the night. While we were looking at it this man came up to us and said he was going to give Chris a ticket for “not holding this pretty ladies hand”, and then proceeded to talk really fast about I’m not sure what, but he ended with asking for a donation for something. We were entertained by him so Chris gave him $5. We were still thinking about going on the cable car at this point, and he told us that we had to pay the conductor. He asked if we needed change and Chris said yes (which I couldn’t believe) so this guy pulls out a wad of crumpled up ones and was about to take the twenty Chris had in his hand. I quickly took the bill from Chris’s hand while Chris counted the “change” this guy was going to give us. I think it added up to about $13 and that was including the $5 we had just given him. We decided that wasn’t really a good deal for us so we told him we would find change some where else. I guess Chris got caught up in the novelty of the city, because after that he took all of the money out of his wallet and stashed it in different pockets, so we wouldn’t be easy targets again. The guy wasn’t even that helpful. We went to find change then came back to look at the ticket booth again where we were approached by a different homeless man. This one was very helpful and he even gave us a map, but when he asked for a tip Chris just gave him the loose change he had in his pocket. I had to laugh, and we decided at least it was a good story to tell about our trip. We walked around for about another hour or two then decided to go back to our hotel, and make a plan for the next day.

Reno, San Francisco and the big 3-0; Part I

I have to credit the multi-part blog idea to my friend Shauna and her husband Mike. There is a lot to tell about our trip, but I think it will be easier to read in smaller portions.

Chris had to go to Carson City (Nevada’s state capital) for training last week. He was going to be done on the 20th which also happened to be my birthday so we decided that I could meet him up there and have a great adventure for my 30th birthday. I got in to Reno, which is about 20 min away from Carson, about 3:00 and after waiting forever to get our rental car we finally got to the hotel. I have heard of Reno described as a smaller dirtier version of Las Vegas, but it seemed more like Las Vegas circa 1987. The hotel was decked out in the lovely neon pink and turquoise lights on the outside and a lot of shiny black tile on the floor and wall in the lobby. The bedspread, curtains, chair, couch and some wall hanging behind the bed were all made of the same fish covered material. It was a good sized, clean room so overall it was fine just a little retro.

We decided to drive up to Lake Tahoe since it was very close and neither of us has ever been there before. We didn’t have a lot of time there so after taking a few pictures of the lake we decided to have our own little tasting tour of the little part of Tahoe we were in. It was so much fun. We went to four different places and had a little something from each place. Our first stop was El Sancho’s Taqueria where we had some excellent chicken tacos. Next was Jiffy’s Pizza which touted the best pizza in town. We shared a French chicken pizza that was very tasty also, but a little pricey, $10 for a personal size, but the guy who took our order was really nice and helpful. Stop three was Chari-Pit Burgers and we had an original Char-Pit burger that we enjoyed, but we were starting to get a little full. Our last stop was T’s Mesquite Rotisserie. We had some very dry rotisserie chicken and decided that was our least favorite place. I wondered if any of the places we went would pass code, but it was a great experience.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


HAPPY BIRTHDAY AIDEN!!!! (I wrote this yesterday, but I didn't post it until this morning, his birthday was on the 11th and that is why I posted twice today.) Yesterday was Aiden’s fifth birthday and I can’t believe how fast he’s grown. I know every parent feels that way, but I’m sure time passed by much slower when I was a kid. We went to the Acacia Park here in town which is also a water park. It just has water shooting out of the ground so it’s not as fancy as some of the other public water parks here, but the kids thought it was great. Our family all came and we had a BBQ and cupcakes that spelled out “Happy Birthday Aiden”. I had never been to that park before so we drove down the day before to check it out, and Aiden was so proud of himself because he helped pick such a fun park. While we were cooking up the food, this little boy probably six came up to me and said, “Hi my name is Tyler and watermelon is my favorite food.” I had to laugh and I told him if it was okay with his mom he could have some. I saw him go talk to his mom and then he came back for his favorite food. I was a little surprised because I don’t think I would ever let my kids ask for food from strangers, but I guess there was a big group of kids with us so his mom thought it was safe. I have been known to go a little overboard and stress myself out when it comes to the kids birthdays, between decorating cakes and putting together goodie bags it gets a little crazy. I decided that I would scale back this year and leave out the goodie bags and have cupcakes instead of decorating a cake. I was commenting to Chris on how proud of myself I was for not getting so out of control this year, and he looked over at the table that was overflowing with BBQ supplies and he wasn’t sure how scaled back it really was. I felt less stress so it was a hit for me. The day before his birthday Aiden said, “Mom right now I only come up to Ashton’s shoulder, but when I wake up tomorrow I’ll be up to her neck because I’ll be 5.”

Aiden started preschool last week and he really likes it. He is the star of the week, which means he gets to bring his favorite snack, be the special helper and make a poster about himself. On part of the poster he had to write down three wishes. His first wish was to be rich and famous. After thinking about it for a second he said, “No wait, take off the famous part my teacher will think that’s silly. And you can take off the rich part too.” I convinced him it was okay and I was sure the teacher wouldn’t think it was silly at all. His second wish was to have a cool car, and wish number three was to be really cool so that everyone would want to be his friend. I think I should ask him again, because I don’t think his wishes would be the same two days in a row.

Kaylee was tested for the G.A.T.E. (gifted and talented education) program last week, and we should find out in the next couple of weeks if she made it. She also gets to attend student council meetings as a representative of her class. When I was in elementary school I got to work in the lunchroom, library, and I was in the A.T. (academically talented) program. I had so much fun so it’s exciting for me that Kaylee gets to be involved in school activities.

Danny Gans

Yesterday Chris and I got free tickets to a show called Danny Gans. There is a website called and you can get tickets to shows on the strip that they want to look full. Chris used to be signed up for it a few months ago, but none of the shows were anything he wanted to see so he cancelled his membership. His sister is still signed up and she said the shows were better now and she has already seen the show, so that is how we got the tickets. The guy has apparently been voted Las Vegas entertainer of the year a few times. I am not a big fan of impersonators, but the show wasn’t bad, and it was clean which is rare in Las Vegas. I even laughed at a few parts and it was free so I can’t really complain. I did look up how much tickets are normally and they are $100 each. I definitely would not pay that much for any show but I had to wonder how many people actually did.

My 24 year old brother Brandon came to watch the kids while we were gone and you would think with 15 nieces and nephews he would have a little babysitting experience, but when we got home about 10:30 and the kids had just barely gone to bed, and Dalin’s diaper was on backwards. Maybe he planned it that way so he wouldn’t be asked to babysit again. He prefers the rough housing part of the gig more than any thing else. Well Dalin is sitting on the computer desk in front of the screen throwing things in the trash and laughing, so I guess that is my cue to go. Happy day to all!