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


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


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: 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.


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.