Monday, December 28, 2009

I Smell a Rat

So I've decided to take my chances in Court. Matt's law degree has come in handy after all, and he discovered that what Auburn is doing with the photo enforcement is actually against the law. It's not the photo enforcement itself that is illegal, but the amount that they are charging for the fine.

Please see RCW 46.63.170, subsection 2:

(2) Infractions detected through the use of automated traffic safety cameras are not part of the registered owner's driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120. Additionally, infractions generated by the use of automated traffic safety cameras under this section shall be processed in the same manner as parking infractions, including for the purposes of RCW 3.50.100, 35.20.220, 46.16.216, and 46.20.270(3). However, the amount of the fine issued for an infraction generated through the use of an automated traffic safety camera shall not exceed the amount of a fine issued for other parking infractions within the jurisdiction.

We looked up what your basic parking ticket is going for these days in Auburn, and we've discovered it is about $30. (Please see ACC 10.36.360).

I smell a stinky, stinky rat.

Sooooo, I'm going to go and argue first that it be dismissed because the amount of the fine, and thus the ticket itself, is illegal. Apparently there is some fancy schmancy legal name for this kind of government crookedness, the kind where they reach beyond the bounds of their authority, which I will be sure to memorize before my court date.

Isn't it amazing what people, organizations, and governments will do when they get greedy?

If my first argument doesn't work, then I will ask that I simply be required to pay the $30 that I should have been fined in the first place.

I've also discovered that there is legislation in the works against this entire process, and also several class action law suits in the State of Washington.

Shame, shame, shame on you City of Auburn and all of the other cities that are abusing this process. If you expect your citizens to play fair, you should too. You will get your full lecture when I show up for my court date.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fair Isn't Fair

I got a Christmas card from the City of Auburn on Friday, or rather, their version of a Christmas card which is actually a "Notice of Traffic Infraction."

As it turns out, I got pegged by one of those photo enforcement machines. I was speeding while driving through a school zone--36 in a 20. My infraction occurred at precisely 12:13 PM on December 10, 2009. They sent me full color photos of my car, and I can even view a video of the incident at http://www.photonotice.com/. The penalty for my transgression: $200.

I've decided that I don't like the photo enforcement machines. This is a new revelation, mostly brought on by the $200 fine. I don't think that the photo machines are fair--or rather, I think that they are too fair. All justice with no mercy. To me it seems that Justice, absent of her twin virtue Mercy, isn't just at all.

I guess I'm an old fashioned girl. I prefer the game of cat and mouse where the officers wait in their police cars, radar devices ready, waiting for some unsuspecting speeder to race by. Then the pomp and circumstance of the lights flashing, maybe even a siren. The heart of the guilty pumping as they pull over.

Then comes the all important moment--the moment that the photo machine has robbed me of--the fragile moment one has to persuade Mercy to overcome Justice. The delicate and fleeting moment that one has to weasel out of the ticket.

I'm certain that there are many ways to accomplish the weaseling. My technique involves being contrite, humble, and of a cheery disposition. I try to appeal to the officer's humanity by pointing out the honest reason for my speed, "the sun was out, I was listening to a great song, and I just didn't notice my speed . . . " or "I'm sorry; I truly wasn't aware the speed limit had been lowered here" or (and this is true and actually occurred) "I'm in labor."

But I didn't have my moment. I didn't get to humbly point out that the school zone lights weren't flashing and doesn't the 20 mph limit only apply at certain periods of the day? I have children myself (aren't they cute there in the back?) and I certainly understand how important it is to drive slowly through school zones to keep the little ones safe. I have definitely learned my lesson about paying closer attention. Oh, you are just going to give me a warning today? Thank you so much Officer.

There is no appealing to the humanity of photo enforcement machines.

So my next step was to call my attorney, aka, my husband.

"So if one were to get one of those photo tickets in the mail, can one just ignore them?"

"What happened?"

"Didn't you tell me that by responding you are admitting to the crime and if you just ignore it then it just goes away."

"No, I didn't tell you anything like that."

"Really? I could have sworn you said something along those lines."

"No."

"So . . . if one were to get one of those tickets, how would one get out of it?"

"I love that you think you can just get out of it."

Lame. Honestly, what good is a law degree if you can't help your wife get out of traffic tickets?

I am also bothered by one of the statments made on my Instruction Page: "As the registered owner or nominated driver of the vehicle described in this Notice, we have no choice but to hold you responsible for paying this fine." Really? No choice? Lies. They could have chosen to not issue this ticket. They could have thrown it in the garbage. When I read this it as if I can hear the little photo robot talking:

Have. No. Choice. Hold. You. Responsible. Pay. Fine.

It all seems kind of Orwellian--I really do feel like Big Brother is watching me.

I haven't given up yet. I could request a hearing. The problem is that I have no good legal argument. The fact of the matter is that I did commit this "infraction." And I have a feeling that my cheery disposition will not be very effective in Court.

But, never fear, I will think of something. I am as creative as I am stubborn. In the mean time, I will watch my speed. And so will Big Brother.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Black Santa

Okay, okay. I know that my last post was in April. I'm not a very successful blogger it would seem. Thank you to my three followers that have been nagging me to write something else; you make me feel like someone actually cares about what I have say on here.

I've been in a funk. I've been waiting for something to happen to snap me out of my haze--something that I just HAD to blog about. And it finally happened. And it is irresistable. So here you go:

I've been troubled by the Santa thing this year. I don't know how other adults feel about this, but I don't really like lying to my kids about the existence of Santa. It is the only lie that I tell my children--and for some reason I feel like participation in this enormous ruse is mandatory. I don't know anyone that says, "You know, our family is going to opt out of the Santa thing and just tell the kids from the start that he isn't real." I think other parents would be horrified: "You are ruining the magic of Christmas!!" I haven't decided if this is true or not, so for now the default answer is just to participate.

I started to be really bothered by Santa several weeks ago when Cora said to me, "Mom, so are Jesus and Santa basically the same person?" As a deeply Christian person, I was troubled by this question and wanted to help her understand the difference between Jesus, who is the Savior of the world, the person responsible for her salvation, and Santa, a mythical character born out of legend and clever marketing schemes.

So following her question an emphatic, "No!" burst from my mouth, which was about the be followed by "because Jesus is real and Santa isn't!" But I stopped. I forgot. I couldn't fully utilize the teaching moment in the way I wanted to because Cora still believes in Santa. (Or so I think.) So I mumbled something about how Santa's purpose is to help us remember Jesus. Santa is to help us to remember to be generous and blah blah blah.

I don't really believe that Santa's purpose is to help us remember Jesus--because a huge part of me thinks that Santa and his big belly are symbolic of the rampant consumerism and greediness that are completely opposite of what the Lord taught us with his life and his birth. Plus, I am troubled by the haziness created by mixing up Santa with Jesus. I've had a few non-believers make smug comments to me in my life about how I'll figure it out soon enough--as though as one matures one discovers that Jesus is just as fake as Santa is. I guess it shouldn't be a big surprise that there are so many cynics in the world today--with Santa and Jesus all mixed up in the same Christmas pot it does get hard to see truth from fiction. So at some point I guess it is easier just to decide it is all fiction.

But despite my conflicted feelings, I still participate in all of it. I have my tree up, my snowman stockings are hung, and I have indulged as much as our budget would allow in the rampant consumerism I was decrying in the last paragraph. And although internally my relationship with Santa is rather bittersweet, every year we take our girls to sit on his lap, ask for a gift, and get their pictures taken.

And this is where it gets interesting this year.

We always go to see Santa at the Nordstrom in downtown Seattle. You have to wait in line for hours, but they give you crayons and pictures to color, and they have free cookies and cider. The photographer is good. We already have three years of pictures lined up on our piano with Santa and the background the same, and our girls changing, growing, and aging in the pictures. I like this tradition because it gives me an opportunity to document our lives.

On Saturday night we decided on a whim to go and do the Santa thing. We put the girls in dresses, curled their hair, loaded them up in the car and drove all the way into Seattle. We jumped out of the car and raced to the end of the line, which was long enough to be out the doors and running along the large display window that Nordstrom converts into Santa's living room every year. We just made it before the 8 pm cutoff. I breathed a sigh of relief and turned to have a look at Santa.

Santa was black.

As luck would have it, we had hit African American Santa Night.

I expected the questions to come right away, but they didn't. No the girls just stared through the display window, puzzled. They were trying to put this one together on thier own.

They liked this Santa. He was very friendly and waved at them. He even got up and showed off some of this dance moves, and Cora laughed and laughed as he did the robot. The black Santa had soul.

Finally, Sydney couldn't stand it anymore. "Mom, why does Santa have dark skin?"

"Well . . ." I said, choosing my words carefully, "I think that maybe this is one of Santa's helpers." That satisfied Sydney, because she was eager to be satisfied. She likes believing.

Cora never asked about it. Cora, who is already a perceptive child, had just been told by our red-headed neighbor Allison that Santa didn't come last year and she instead caught her parents putting presents under the tree. I think that the black Santa might have been the final confirmation that Cora needed for the truth she already suspected. But I'm not sure that she is quite ready yet to admit she doesn't believe. And I'm not sure that I'm ready for her to admit it either, even though I will be really relieved when she does.

As for Maryn, she barely noticed Santa and whether he was black or white, blue or green. She was all about the candy cane and the rocking horse she got to sit on for the picture, which she dubbed a rocking "cow."

I am grateful for the black Santa. I think he allowed me the opportunity to be honest about my lie, without ruining the magic. I think he allowed everyone in the family to experience Santa in the way that they needed to this year.

So, what the heck . . . Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pink Pants

The sun has been out for a few days. It has been magnificent. I've been sitting out on the grass watching my children ride the bikes and drip orange sherbet all over the driveway.

Since the sun was out, I thought it would be a good time to pull out my pink pants to pay homage to the festive weather. I have this pair of pink silk pants that I rarely wear--partly because they are pink and I live in Seattle, and partly because they are silk and I'm a mother of three youngsters. But the stars seemed to align yesterday. I needed to go teach a dance class and my children were staying to play at a friend's house--and with the sun it just seemed like a pink pants kind of day.

Well, I didn't entirely think it through. Currently I am in the middle of choreographing a 50's swing that is really high energy. There is a lot of twisting and hopping and kicking and jumping. Plus, I wanted the boys to do some moves that were a little fun and zany, but they felt like they were "feminine." I said, "I know I'm a girl, but just do it in a boy way." And then I tried to demonstrate how a boy might do the step, to which one of the boys replied, "Yeah, I just can't see it. The pink pants are throwing me off."

I finally convinced them to do the step and once they saw each other do it they became convinced that it was cool enough and so we moved on. Well, the next step involved a drop where the boys squat and the girls kick their legs through the boys legs and end up in a spread-eagle pose underneath. Since Matt wasn't there, I grabbed one of the boys and managed to demonstrate the girl's part. The problem was that the boys were not spreading their legs apart when they would squat--so you can imagine that it was very difficult for the ladies to get their legs through and into a spread-eagle pose.

That was when I decided to show the boys what a deep squat really looks like. Ripppp. My pink pants were never designed to be in such a position. As Fate would have it, the tearing sound was the lining inside the pants, and not the actual pant, and so I wasn't completely humiliated in front of a room full of teenagers. Although, based on the look on their faces, I think they would have been more traumatized than I would have been.

Once I had determined that there were no holes in my pants and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, one of the ladies said, "I think you should stick to being a girl."

Sound advice. I suppose if one decides to wear pink silk pants one should avoid deep squats.

So that is probably the end of the pink pants. It is unlikely I will find another opportunity to wear them when I am without small children, when it is not raining, when there is no chance that I will need to squat or split, and when I also happen to be in a pink pants mood. One too many qualifiers.

If you want them, come and get them. They are in the back of my closet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Brag Blog

Some people have brag books. I have a brag blog. For the benefit of Grandmas and Grandpas, I am posting all three rounds of my daughter, Cora, competing at Nationals. We were very proud of her. You will see she was one of the tiniest dancers on the floor, and she did amazingly well.

Cora at Nationals: Round 1

video

Cora at Nationals: Quarterfinals

video

Cora at Nationals: Semifinals

video

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Teriyaki Restaurant Fiasco

The following story actually occurred. It happened yesterday. I heard it straight from my husband Matt, who experienced it all.

When Matt got home from work yesterday, he was a little agitated.

He said, “I have GOT to tell you about my lunch today. It was the most horrible thing I have ever seen.”

So I said, “Who was chomping their food this time?” Matt’s pet peeve is when people talk with food in their mouths. He often tells me very animated stories about suffering through lunches with clients or colleagues who are chompers.

“No, this was worse. Way worse.”

So I tried to think of something worse. “Was someone bare-breasted breast feeding at the next table?”

“No. Barring violence, what is the worst possible thing I could have seen?”

So I thought for a moment . . . “A penis.”

“YES!” He said, emphatically pointing a finger at me.

So I laughed. “How did you manage to see a penis at lunch?”

And so then he related the following story:

He has been working through lunch all week, trying to stay on top of his work because things are busy. One of his co-workers, Cami, who has also been skipping lunch, came and asked if he wanted to grab a bite to eat, and he thought a break sounded nice. So off they went to a little Teriyaki place nearby.

Matt and Cami were comfortably situated at their table when a homeless man came in. The man went to the counter and very loudly started asking about every item on the menu. Apparently he wanted a description and a price for every single thing before making a selection. This went on for quite a while. Matt had his back to the counter and was trying to ignore it all. Cami wasn’t so lucky. After a while her eyes got really big and she said, “Oh my gosh, his pants are sinking down.”

Matt turned around to assess the situation and was greeted by at least half a moon. The man’s pants, which were way too large for him, had fallen very low on his hips. No underwear. Matt said he pretty much saw the entire “Bum’s bum.”

Well, not being one to stare at such a thing, Matt turned around to try to finish his lunch.

Matt is not sure how it happened, certainly the pants had something to do with it, but shortly thereafter the man fell down. His pants found themselves around his knees. And there he lay, on the floor, exposing . . . everything.

The commotion of the fall had caused Matt to turn around, and to his dismay he got another eyeful—and not just of the backside this time. The man was lying in such a way that everyone could see his backside and his squeaker. (My nephew Tyler coined the phrase “squeaker” when he started describing his own anatomy as a toddler. We have all used it ever since.)

The man started yelling, “Help! Someone help me up! I can’t get up.”

Matt is usually one to lend a hand. Normally he is a Good Samaritan. But something about seeing a naked squeaker in a Teriyaki restaurant had paralyzed him, and he hesitated just long enough that two guys from behind the counter came and helped the man up.

But apparently they couldn’t be troubled to help the man pull his pants up. And he couldn’t be troubled either. And so he walked to a nearby table, pants around his ankles, and sat down. He was still exposed when his food arrived and he began eating it.

Matt and Cami were trying to ignore the man and his naked squeaker. They were more successful than the guy at another table, who after a while couldn’t take it anymore, and yelled at him, “Hey! Could you pull your pants up? We’re trying to eat in here!”

The homeless man stopped eating, “Oh sorry. I didn’t think you could see that from over there.” And then he wiggled his pants back up around his waist. “I guess that’s pretty disgusting.”

The guy at the other table agreed: “Yes, it’s VERY disgusting!”

The bum then decided to turn his attention to Matt and Cami—probably an unsuccessful attempt to help everyone in the restaurant to forget the last five minutes.

“So how long have you two been together?” he asked.

“We aren’t together. We just work together,” Cami responded.

“Oh, it must be nice to have someone you can talk to and share your feelings with,” he said.

“Yeah.”

I’m pretty certain that Matt wasn’t very into the small talk. I think he felt he already knew far more about this stranger than he wanted to. He told me that they finished their lunch and got out of there as fast as they could.

Matt said he had never experienced anything like that before, and he was surprised that the workers at the restaurant hadn’t put a stop to it.

I told him he should have called 911. Indecent exposure. Or he should have called 911 just because it’s fun.

Well, one thing is for certain. I think it will be a while before we go out for teriyaki.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Doomsday Girl

Sometimes I like to get caught up in "end of the world" drama. I like reading the Book of Revelations and I loved the History Channel's Armageddon week. I just think it is kind of interesting to ponder the end of days, and to wonder how the evening news is playing into it all. Matt likes to call me "Doomsday Girl" whenever I get going on this topic.

Well, apparently some of this has rubbed off on Cora.

We were at the Studio the other day and the children were entertaining themselves in the office with pens and paper. Cora wrote the following on three separate pieces of paper:

Page 1:

Plese save ar Planit

Page 2:

The Planit
it is not saf

Page 3:

The cow is on The moon
its not saf

As you can see, she is concerned not only about saving the Earth, but also about Animal Rights and the entire solar system. She is very conscientious. I'm not sure who to whom her appeal was directed, especially considering we were at the dance studio and not a lot of teenage ballroom dancers have the means or desire to save the planet and/or cows who happen to live on the moon.

However, it is nice to have a kindred spirit hanging around, worrying about the planet with me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Boy Craziness

Here I am, a young mom, happily bubbling along enjoying the innocence of her young daughters--coloring books, princess costumes, PBS--when I am completely blindsided by a phone call from a concerned father regarding my eldest daughter, Cora.

The concerned father was Brian Bernecker, father of Daniel Bernecker. Daniel was all set to be Cora's dance partner until he mysteriously became very dancephobic several weeks prior. His parents were very perplexed by his sudden change of heart, but decided that he just wasn't into ballroom dance right now and they should just let him be a 10-year-old boy.

Cora, who was all excited to compete at Nationals, was very sad about the turn of events. So we had been shopping around for another dance partner, but hadn't found a good match yet.

Back to the phone call. So Brian says to me, "I think I've gotten to the bottom of Daniel's problem."

"Really?" I say, not knowing what the problem might be, and cautiously optimistic that it is a resolvable issue.

"He finally told Steven (his brother) that he didn't want to dance because Cora tried to kiss him."

Wasn't expecting that.

"She did WHAT?" I say, trying to wrap my mind around this new information.

"Yeah, and then she told a bunch of people at the Studio that Daniel was her boyfriend."

Well, mysterious dancephobia explained. No wonder he didn't want to dance with her--he was probably completely traumatized.

I guess I should have seen this coming. I was aware of Cora's crush on Daniel, but I had chosen to ignore it. I figured that if I didn't make a big deal about it then it would pass like the rest of her obsessions--the color pink, the game of Old Maid, and cheese quesidillas had all had their moment in the spotlight of Cora's life, and each had been retired to the wings in its own time. I figured Daniel would be the same. And truth be told, the crush had passed, but alas, not without some casualties.

Another problem was that I had underestimated her. I didn't think she was so bold as to actually attempt the kiss. I remember once she made a passing comment about kissing, and naturally I provided the obligatory lecture--something like, "No kissing until you are 25." She was usually obedient when I told her to clean her room, so I had no reason to think that she wouldn't listen to me on this subject. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

So now, along with Daniel, I am completely traumatized. I wasn't expecting to deal with this issue for several more years--I thought we'd hit kissing about the same time as training bras, acne, and braces. I am so not ready for this in Kindergarten.

And while the crush on Daniel has passed, crushes in general have not. After Daniel there was some boy on her bus that she loved for a day or two. Now I can't remember his name and neither can she. And then there are the Whitlock boys--Ryan (who is in Cora's Kindergarten class), and his two older twin brothers Hunter and Conner. Hunter and Conner even gave her Valentines.

And then there is Aidan, her true love. Aidan's mom is Lynne Boudreaux, another instructor at the studio. Aidan is also in Kindergarten and so he has not yet reached the point where he thinks girls have cooties. Consequently, there is a lot of hugging and nose rubbing in the dance class they both attend that I happen to teach.

Lynne told me that when they went to buy the Valentine's for Aidan's class at school that he started wandering the aisles. She finally asked him, "What are you doing, honey?" to which he replied, "I want to get a Valentine for Cora." She thought that was sweet, so she asked him what he had in mind, and he thought for a moment, and said, "A music box."

How cute is that? I think I have a crush on Aidan too.

Well, Lynne had to explain that they were at Bartell's and so he probably needed to scale back his ideas, and they finally settled on a little box of chocolates with a kitty on the front. The exchange of Valentines was very sweet. Cora had picked out a chocolate frog with a gummy bug inside for Aidan.

Anyway, back to my problem. What am I supposed to do with a boy-crazy 6-year-old? Matt and I are banking on the probability that soon she will enter the "boys are so gross" phase and we'll be golden for several years. If that doesn't happen I don't know what we'll do. Maybe we'll have to move to a deserted island somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Matt would love it.

The good news is that Cora truly doesn't love Daniel anymore, and after I promised his parents that she would be docile from now on, they have had several lessons together. Dance wise, they are both developing very nicely and I think they will have a great time at Nationals.

As for the kissing, let's just hope she keeps her lips to herself for a while. A very long while.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Farewell, Moldy Tooth

I thought I should report that Allison's moldy tooth fell out. Inna, Allison's babysitter, informed all of the moms at the bus stop about the tooth loss.

So as we walked home I decided to ask her about it.

"So, Allison, I hear you lost a tooth."

"Yeah, it was my moldy one. Do you want to see it?"

Of course I wanted to see it. How could I pass up a chance to inspect the infamous moldy tooth up close?

It was all wrapped up in a special pink tooth pillow. We paused and she very ceremoniously unwrapped it. There it was--a little molar covered by a silver cap that glinted in the sunlight.

"So that's your moldy tooth, huh?"

"Yeah, see right there, that's the moldy part." She turned the tooth over and pointed to the little stubby part of the tooth where the roots had once been. I leaned in closer as she explained, "See that brown stuff, that's mold."

"I see, mmm-hmmm," I said, nodding my head appreciatively. It just looked like tooth to me, but I didn't let on. "So Allison, why didn't you put the tooth under your pillow for the Tooth Fairy?"

She was very distressed. "I don't know what I'm going to do with this tooth. The Tooth Fairy can't take it up to Heaven and give it to any babies."

"Because she only gives babies white teeth?"

"No, she sometimes gives silver teeth, but not moldy teeth."

"I see your dilemma."

We had arrived at our homes by this point, and so we our goodbyes and parted ways. I'm not sure what will become of the moldy tooth. It may just stay where it is, forever enshrined in its little pink pillow.

Luckily, soon Allison can expect a nice new white tooth, fresh from Heaven. It will be pretty and clean, but it definitely won't be as interesting as the moldy one.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Me and the Minivan









I'm actually considering leasing a minivan. I've always secretly sworn that I would never get a minivan. To me, it seemed like getting a minivan would be something of a surrender--like resigning to wearing nothing but sweats and putting my hair in a fat scrunchie all day and smelling like applesauce. As a young mom I've wanted to also be a little hip and stylish and it seemed to me that doing something major like driving a minivan would be abandoning that dream altogether.

But lately the tides have been changing, and I find myself not only accepting the possibility of a minivan, but actually wanting one.

First, (and I admit this with some trepidation) when swinging open our doors, my kids have on several occassions whacked the doors of other cars and left dings. I always think that maybe I should leave a note, but I never have. When they aren't actually damaging other people's property, I am worried that they will. It is causing me stress.

Secondly, it is a major pain to load them in and out of our car. I have to hoist them in, or wait for them to hoist themselves and then get smashed by the door while I help them buckle because all three carseats are squeezed into the middle row. We could space it out and put one in the back seat, but then someone would have to climb over the middle row and that's a huge pain. The pain of loading and unloading kids is the biggest factor in my change of heart.

Third, who am I fooling? I might drive an SUV and want everyone to believe we are escaping to the mountains on the weekends to hike around and camp and rock climb and canoe and ski--but it's not happening, and everyone who knows us knows that.

Fourth, fuel efficiency. I think we can do better and save a few dollars every month. And it would be so green of us.

So I started peeking at the minivans online. All of the features and options started to dazzle me, insomuch that I actually started to believe that minivans are cute--that somehow they have evolved out of their blobbishness into something hip and sporty (at least the ones I am considering).

I said this to Matt last night, who in response actually quoted this scripture to me, "Wo unto them who shall call evil good and good evil," and then he added, "or ugly cute and cute ugly."

But even though Matt is adament that minivans are still ugly, he is also being wooed by all of the features, and both of us are starting not to care about the ugly factor. At some point in life one begins to care more about ease and convenience than one's own perception of personal coolness, especially when one realizes that one was never cool to begin with.

So I've narrowed it down to two that I like. Here they are, with the reasons I like them:

Toyota Sienna
The Sienna moved to first on my list just last night. It might just have more of the things that are really important to us.

Why I like it:






  • Power doors that open with a remote



  • Ample cargo space



  • Easy for kids to get in and out of



  • DVD player



  • Available AWD (we need that around here in the winter)



  • Good horsepower



  • Available navigation system (so I can pretend I'll actually spend the extra money and get it)

Why I might not choose it:






  • Not the best fuel economy



  • A bit pricier



  • Still kind of blobbish

Mazda5

Why I like it:
I think this is a very smart car and has been #1 on my list for several weeks.






  • Great fuel economy



  • Great use of space inside the vehicle--storage compartments, seats 6, etc.



  • Easy for kids to get in and out of



  • Totally doesn't look like a minivan. I went to go check it out at the dealership and when I got there I said, "I want to see your minivan." And the guy looked at me blankly. So I said, "The Mazda 5" and he said, "It's not a minivan." (I didn't tell him that all of the online reviewers call it a minivan). And so I could get the secret minivan that has all of the functionality of a minivan, but doesn't actually look like one. When he showed it to me, it really didn't look like a minivan in person. It is cute.



  • Very affordable (We could maybe even afford some of the extras. Can you say navigation system?)



  • Apparently it is fun to drive. Zoom Zoom. (Haven't done the test drive. Waiting for Matt.)



  • I just plain like it.



Why I might not get it:







  • Storage Space. The car really is very smart and the use of space is really good. It would do just fine for my day to day needs, I could even manage a trip to Costco. But for a family trip anywhere we'd have to put the little storage pod on top. Not such a fan of that.



  • No AWD available. We'd have to stay home in the snow. (Maybe this is a pro?)



  • No remote power doors. I really like the idea of pushing a button and having the doors open so my kids could climb in.
So those are the options. The lease on our Honda Pilot expires in a few months, so we need to decide what we are doing next. I'm going to put up a poll so people can vote for their favorite. Also, feel free to comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts on minivans and if we should really take the plunge.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sniffles

After school Allison came over to play. The playing became wild, and so pretty soon I decided that the girls should take their energy outside. Thankfully, they decided that this sounded like fun and headed off to explore the back yard with their pails and shovels.

Pretty soon, they came back in the house carrying a rock. It was a smooth, round river rock. To them, it was a truly mysterious find, because on the rock were words carefully written in permanent marker. They brought the rock to me so that I could interpret its markings and unlock its secrets.

"Here lies Sniffles. Faithful bunny."

Poor Sniffles. I wondered how Sniffles had come to such a fate, and how long he or she had been buried in the back yard. I found myself mourning the poor little bunny, imagining the alligator tears that must have been shed at the funeral, and wondering what exactly Sniffles had done to earn the eternal title of "Faithful bunny." Certainly, it must have been something very grand.

I explained that this rock was a headstone, and that they should return it to where they had found it out of respect for Sniffles.

Well, upon hearing that there was a bunny buried in the back yard, Sydney immediately wanted to go and dig it up. I think that she imagined that after she removed a few shovels full of dirt, a fluffy little white bunny would hop out of the earth and she would have a new best friend. I told her that we were not going to be digging up any bunnies because all that is left of Sniffles is bunny bones. Well, that made her sad.

She asked if Sniffles was in Heaven, and if Sniffles would ever live again. So we talked about that.

Most importantly, for all of the girls, the backyard became a place of newfound wonder. It might be small, but it has its secrets, its history. Sniffles once had a life back there, and now Sniffles rests there eternally. Who knows what other secrets are waiting to be discovered?

I hope they spend lots and lots of time out there exploring. I, for one, will enjoy the quiet. Thank you, Sniffles. Faithful Bunny.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Raining Sun!

I had the girls loaded into the car yesterday on our way to Grandma's house. The sun finally decided to show it's face for the first time in a long time. It was a brief showing, and the majority of the sky remained gray and cloudy. But it was very nice to see some yellow rays shooting through to remind us that the sun actually does exist.

The girls were very excited. I realized that they are true Seattlites when Cora declared, "Look! It's raining sun!"

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Moldy Teeth

On the way to dance class tonight I got quite an education. I had volunteered to drive Allison (our 7-year-old across the street neighbor) to class since her mom was stuck at work and I was headed that way anyway. It proved to be quite an informative ride.

She started telling me about her moldy tooth. I had never previously heard of a moldy tooth. I googled "moldy teeth" to find out if this is a common problem and I didn't find much information, but who is to say that Allison doesn't indeed have a moldy tooth? It could be that she is afflicted with a very rare condition.

Well, apparently the problem with moldy teeth is that the Tooth Fairy will not accept them. You see, when the Tooth Fairy takes your baby teeth, she takes them up to Heaven where they are then redistributed to babies before they come down to earth. So the teeth have to be clean to be suitable for redistribution. She told me you can read all about it on the Tooth Fairy's website.

I checked and the Tooth Fairy does indeed have a website: http://www.toothfairyland.com/. It is very magical. Although, I didn't find anything about moldy teeth there either, or about teeth being redistributed to babies, but maybe I didn't look closely enough.

In any case, Allison is highly distressed about her moldy tooth and what is going to become of it when it finally falls out since obviously the Tooth Fairy can't take it away. And now I am perplexed about it too and am up late at night googling "moldy teeth."

Just as Allison was finishing educating me about the Tooth Fairy, we happened to pass a car accident. She then started telling me about when she was in a car accident and the air bag went off and hit her in the face and she got a bruised jaw because of the impact. She told me how her neck now hurts most of the time.

But just as we arrived at the dance studio she remembered that it wasn't actually her that was in the accident. It was her cousin who also has red hair and looks just like her. So she doesn't have a permanently injured neck after all, her cousin does, she just forgot for a minute.

It's easy to forget things like that, especially when you have a moldy tooth to worry about.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Things Kids Say

Matt recently changed jobs. At his previous employer he had a friend named Heather, who he commonly referred to as his "work wife," not only because she has the same name as me, but also because she took care of him at work and gave him Tylenol and cough syrup and advised him on good places to shop and other important things when I wasn't around.

Apparently she also did some journaling for us and kept a record of the funny things that I would send to Matt that the girls would say. I thought I would share.

January 14, 2008
Syd's question when she saw Maryn for the 1st time (M was all wrapped up): "Does she have two legs in there?"

February 11, 2008
Cora: Mommy, if you were going to climb to the moon would you use a rope or a vine?

May 19, 2008
Sydney and the Pinata

"Mom, how do you cut out a pinata?"

"I don't know, Sydney."

"Does Heavenly Father know?"

"Yes, I'm sure He knows. He knows everything."

"Can you ask Him?"

"Sure, I'll ask Him and get right back to you."

"Mom! Just ask Him like this, 'Heavenly Father, how do you cut out a pinata? Can you tell me? Thanks!' Just do that, Mom."

August 29, 2008
Sydney: "Mommy, Daddy's boobies are small and yours are big and mine are small as a baby's."

Cora: "Yeah, and mine are as small as a tiny ant."

September 28, 2008
"Mommy--when I grow up to be a mommy I'm going to have 10 kids and get a Nazim." (Nazim is our architect who is awesome and I would talk about a lot when we were designing our house.)

December 17, 2008
Cora: "It's snowing again!"

Sydney: (with her finger in the air) "That's very thought-provoking, Cora."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Indian Restaurant Fiasco

It was one of those evenings that instantly became part of the family folklore, and unfortunately, and it was no one's fault but my own, I had the starring role. If I could take it back I would, but alas, what is done is done. So here is the story of what happened at the Indian Restaurant.

We were there to celebrate Matt's brother Scott's birthday. It was a bit belated since his birthday was on the 22nd, but he didn't want to risk damage to his shiny new midnight blue car by venturing out on that ice-filled evening. And who could blame him? His car is hot. And so the family gathered together last Tuesday instead. It was Mom and Dad, all of the brothers, Andrew's girlfriend Kelly, me and the girls. We had a reservation for 10 people.

The Indian Restaraunt is in the U-District and in a building that was probably once a house. When we got there the place was completely packed. When we squeezed in to announce our arrival and ask if we could be seated since the majority of our party was there, the manager, annoyed by our request told us no, and to "Wait outside." Nevermind that it was completely freezing and we had a baby. But we complied and patiently waited, happily gabbing until we were called to be seated. Mom and Dad and Craig still weren't there, but they had called to say that they were just getting off of the freeway.

They took us to a table for "10" that was really a table for 4. We were so close to the other tables that there was no where for me to even set down the car seat to try to find a seat. Everyone had to squeeze and hug the table to not bump the other guests as we were getting settled. With a baby, one of the tricks is always trying to find a place for the car seat that won't disturb others, where you can get in and out in case of messy emergencies or crying fits. It is a complicated process, but one that we are pretty good at and can usually handle quite elegantly. I ran through some possibilities with Matt--"What if I sit there and we put Maryn . . .no, that won't work. Well, what about if we, no, I guess that won't work." Finally, Matt kind of put her halfway under the table and halfway out into the aisle and decided that we would try that. Well that was when one of the servers came buzzing by with a shaky tray full of hot coffee. The Parade of Terribles flashed through my mind and I envisioned the tray of hot coffee upside-down on my baby, and then I refused to let him set her there. And then we were out of options.

Just then the manager passed and I politely asked him if he could assist us in finding a place for our baby. Perhaps a high chair? Is there another arrangement that we could try? I'm a solutions girl. I was open for anything. I would even sit at a different table.

The manager was not willing to help me find a solution. His reply to my inquiry and suggestions was that "No one told me the reservation was for 10 people AND a baby. We would have done it differently. I don't have any more room." He seemed annoyed that I had even bothered him and quickly left, leaving me still standing in the aisle, dodging servers, still with no viable solution for actually having a meal and celebrating Scott's birthday. Right about then, Mom and Dad and Craig arrived and squeezed into the table towards the back. I would also like to point out that my conversation with the manager had been as quiet as possible--you see, at the time I was still trying to be elegant, so no one else really heard his absolute refusal to accommodate me AND my baby. It seems that babies are not welcome at this particular restaurant. No Naan, No Seat!

Then I told Matt I was leaving and I would just go sit in the car because this was ridiculous and I started to put on my coat, but then he convinced me to stay. He agreed with me that it was ridiculous, and wondered aloud what the fire department would say. I felt bad because I didn't want to ruin Scott's birthday by having a bad attitude. But, in order to stay, I had to figure out some way to actually sit down.

So I decided to be stubborn and FORCE the manager to help me. It is not one of my best traits, and I am not particularly proud of it, but I can be royally stubborn at times. I decided that this would be one of those times. It wasn't that I was in a bad mood, because my day had been great. But I felt backed into a corner--literally and figuratively. So I grabbed the chair at the corner of the table and moved it to the head of the table. I put Maryn in the empty spot so that I could protect her from hot coffee. And then I plopped down into the chair.

Now I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the restaurant, but you must understand that by positioning my chair where I had placed it, I had blocked off the main artery of the entire place. I figured that in short order the manager would show up and tell me that I couldn't sit there, and then I would sweetly reply, "Oh, I'm so sorry, what do you suggest that we do?" Then I figured that we would come up with a solution and soon I would be enjoying some curry.

No, instead he called my bluff. The servers kept coming through the 3-inch space with their trays, pushing my chair and knocking me to and fro in order to get through. And when other customers came to try and exit the restaurant and couldn't get through, the manager came and pointedly apologized to them over my head, as if I was invisible, "Oh, I'm so sorry. We aren't supposed to have anyone seated here. I'm sorry to trouble you but could you please go around." So suddenly all of the congestion was my doing and I was the bad guy. I was causing a scene and I felt dreadfully uncomfortable. At that point I determined that it was impossible for me to enjoy my meal, and this time I really was leaving. This time Matt agreed with me that it was a good idea, not only letting me go without protest, but also helping me to gather my things. So I put on my coat, packed up Maryn who had started crying sometime in the middle of all of this, and we headed out.

As I was leaving the manager gave me a smug look. He had won our little war. He had checked my king in our silent game of chess. The lady and her baby had given up, and his evening would be better now that he had rid himself of that pain in the neck.

And I felt my phone in my pocket. And I remembered Matt's comment about the Fire Department and wondered again what they would have to say about the seating arrangements at the restaurant. And I caught the manager's eye, and smiled my own little smile.

Checkmate.

9-1-1. "Can I please have the Non-emergency line for the Fire Department? Thank you."

Some clicks, and then a nice lady answered. "Fire Department. What address are you calling from?"

I turned around and read the numbers off of the building and gave her the address. She asked if that was the Indian Restaurant.

"Yes it is."

"What are you reporting?"

"This restaurant is seating well beyond its capacity. I think it is something the Fire Department should look into."

Now, I could be mistaken, but the lady on the phone seemed not only happy, but also eager to help me. Perhaps the restaurant had a reputation? Perhaps the authorities were looking for an excuse to get in there? Or perhaps she had once tried to bring her baby and have some curry and had also been exiled. Whatever the reason, I was surprised when she enthusiastically said, "We'll be right over."

You might think that I could have predicted that they would come right away. But you see, thanks to my previous position as an apartment manager, I used to be a regular 9-1-1 caller. And I have found that it often takes several hours to get a response to requests. If someone is breaking into a car, they usually show up 45 minutes later. People beating each other up--20 to 30 minutes. Possible drug deal, an hour or so. I figured that for such an insignificant report as overseating, the Fire Marshall might swing by sometime the next day, which would have served my purposes just fine.

Coming right over wasn't so good. Just then Matt called to have me take the girls with me into exile. I told him what I had done.

"You're joking. Please tell me you're joking."

And then the Longhurst Family came pouring out of the restaurant and I saw the innocent casualties of my brazen act, and I immediately felt horrible. Craig wouldn't get his first taste of Indian food. Scott's birthday dinner was ruined. And my poor mother-in-law.

If there is one person on the earth who would never do what I had just done, it was my mother-in-law. She is always very conscious of other people and would have taken the time to consider the rest of the family, the other guests at the restaurant, even the traffic that would have been disturbed by the fire truck leaving the Fire House. I was certain that she was mortified. I wanted to go hide under a rock, but I had to own up to what I did.

I walked over to the group and apologized. They quickly made a plan for where to go, and we scurried across the street just as the very large and very red fire truck pulled onto the street and parked in front of the Indian Restaurant.

We ended up eating at an empty Mediterranean restaurant up the street. I apologized several more times. Dad thought it was funny. Scott thought it was funny. (I think mostly they like having something for which to make fun of me for years to come.) I don't think Andy, Craig, and Kelly knew what to think, but Matt claims that they are now scared of me. Matt and Mom were not terribly amused, although I'm hoping that in time they can look back and laugh.

We drove by the Indian restaurant on the way home and it looked like business as usual, but I could swear there were fewer tables. We will never know what happened, and that's fine with me.

I don't intend to do anything like this again. My New Year's resolution is to only call the Fire Department for actual emergenies. I do feel bad for all of the inconvenience I caused my family and the other guests at the restaurant. I suppose I should feel bad for what I did to the manager, but I'm not there yet.

So there you have it. Judge me how you will, dear reader.

The worst part. I never did get any curry.