Friday, November 23, 2007

Our 1st Annual Day-After-Thanksgiving Event

We opted to stay home for Thanksgiving this year, one of the reasons being that we thought it was time to start some of our own family traditions, and oh baby, did that decision ever pay off today.

Just as an aside, we did the usual turkey blow-out yesterday. I have little hope of ever being able to completely ditch the turkey on Thanksgiving, but the cornbread dressing I did manage to fight off. I am, however, killing the turkey repeat for Christmas. I'm shamelessly stealing another family's tradition and making curry on Christmas. Somehow it just has a better ring to it.

But back to our Spin Around the Speedway. For the past decade or so, Lowes Motor Speedway, which is only about a 15-minute drive from our house, has sponsored a day-after-Thanksgiving fund raiser for their own children's charity. What they do is open up the track to the public and in exchange for a small donation, you get to drive your own personal vehicle 3 laps around the 1.5 mile speedway. I've wanted to do it since I heard about it last year because we do not have a Porshe or a Corvette or a Mustang. We have a Toyota Sienna mini-van and the thought of racing it around a NASCAR speed track sounds to me like a whole lot of silly.

It was a blustery afternoon so we bundled up the kids and loaded them into the moti...only to discover that the battery was dead.

But you will note from this picture that even the reality of having to jump start the van did not diminish Jeff's enthusiam for the fun that lied ahead.

This is our "ticket". You'll also notice that the gas light is on. But the "race" is only 4.5 miles, so we figured we could make it. That's right, our battery is having issues and we are nearly out of gas. Probably getting ready to drive 70 mph around a banked turn is the last place we should be.

But having come this far, we were not going to get out of line now - especially because we were in FIRST place following only the pace car. Obviously, we're going to WIN! You'll note, some of us took care to wear our crash helmets. And our Buzz Lightyear costume.

We were very, very, very, oh so very, very, very, excited. And when we weren't being excited, we were wishing we had race tires on our van like the ones behind Jeff. Or wishing we had a Dodge Viper like the guy in the group in front of ours.

I did pretty well on the straight aways.

But not so well on the banked turns. I get the concept of centripetal force mentally, but it's a completely different story when my mini-van is driving on what feels like 2-wheels on at least a 45 degree angle. All I could think was, "Please Dear GOD, don't let us roll the van with our three kids inside."

But by the third lap, I had developed a renewed appreciation for my 11th grade physics class and was even enjoying the turns myself. And, we didn't run out of gas. The gas light actually went off while we were out there driving laps.

Anyway, it rocked. We are totally going again, and again, and again. This year an event, next year a tradition. You may all consider this your official invitation to join us.

Finally, An Activity They Can All Enjoy

Hi Mom. What took you so long? We've been unloading this cupboard for like, 30 whole seconds.

I think this is the last of them, Carter.

Okay, now everybody play at once. Hey, it's where the Hansons got their start.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

McDonald's, We Bid You Adieu

Okay, so. The granite. You will remember that our kitchen previously had a kind of fast food appeal in terms of color scheme. Which was fitting since that is basically what I cook. Nothing really earns you that round of applause at dinner time as when you serve fish sticks and tater tots on the fine china.

A while back Griffin had pushed a kitchen chair into the corner of our klassy mottled green laminate, and with his mighty, 2-year old strength managed to take a big chunk out of it. Additionally, the laminate had some stains and burn marks on it - a few of which were made by us. We have a hard core caffeine habit here and are apparently pretty messy in our haste to inject it in the morning.

For some reason I feel right now as though I have to justify dumping our ugly old laminate. Okay, that's the real reason. We just thought it was ugly. It had some problems, clearly, but it was the ugly factor that drove us to it. But we lived with it for 4-years, so I think that's laudable. Especially considering that we took down the hideous wall-paper almost immediately. This is why (It's a very small picture of the corner of our kitchen, but I believe you will get the drift.)

I think we can all agree that Fast Food Kitchen is better than early 90's Country Kitchen.

So after Jeff and I went through our brief bout with lunacy, we realized there were a lot of things to like about our current house and that we should just fix some of the stuff we don't like...such as the funky green countertops. The following is what has transpired over the last couple of days.

Say Hello to Julio and Jose. They look like they genuinely like working at our crib, don't they?

Until they encountered a minor problem. Yeah, our cheap Taiwanese supplier had cut the backspashes a whole 1/8 of an inch too short. How do you make a gross error like that?

Needless to say, we suffered backsplashless for a few days, but now our granite installation is complete and, as predicted, I indeed feel more like a chef than a short order cook.

One moment while I just turn on the oven so I can put the chicken nuggets rosemary-olive oil foccacia in to bake.

Doesn't my new faucet look fabulous? I wish I could say that I did an extensive amount of research to pick the one that would best suit our current and future needs, but I shamefully admit I was reeled in by Delta's latest ad campaign. I feel compelled to support levity in the world wherever it happens to be. Even if it involves a talking sponge.

(Also, for those of you out there planning a kitchen remodel, has really competitive pricing on faucets. By competitive, I mean about 25% less than our friends at the Home Depot. Additionally, it pays to marry a plumber like I did because you can save at least $200 in installation costs. Though for some of you that little tid-bit may be a hair too late.)

And would you take a look at my cavernous new sink?!! I think I spent more time hunting down a decent sink than I spent picking out granite. My one non-negotiable was that it be big enough that I could soak this giant frying pan in it.

(Yes, I realize my disposal is full of yuck. I promise to run it just as soon as I publish this post. And to never take a picture of my full disposal again. Or to at least make sure there is only one meal of grossness sitting in it before I take a picture of it.)

What's that? You'd like to see another picture of my whole kitchen rather than a bunch of pictures of my new fixtures?

If I must.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Old News

I have been so busy lately that I have allowed my poor blawg to languish. But today I plan to pay retribution with one spell binding post after another, because not only is our INTERNET CONNECTION AT WORK DOWN THIS MORNING, even if it comes up no one can call me to tell me to get back to work because I've UNPLUGGED THE PHONE. Wait, it gets better. The little bandits are all off tormenting the seraphs at Wachovia's back-up care site, and my really hot husband is home today. Oh Lover Boy! (Wait, did I just say that?) Sadly, as enticing and irrestible as I am, Julio and Jose are also here because we are having new kitchen countertops put in today. Truth be told, any sort of willy nilly would probably give me performance anxiety, assuming I didn't giggle myself to death for fear of discovery. I'll dedicate an entire post to it (the granite installation), but in the meantime, here is a little of what you've all been missing. I originally thought I would try to be creative and compose a song to encapsulate it all, but I think I've taken one too many sniffs of the epoxy.

We went to the NASCAR speed park a couple weeks after Griffin's birthday to putt-putt golf.

Here is Jeff explaining the finer points of the game which, if I remember correctly, amounted to, "Carter, your ball is green. Griffin, your ball is orange. The end."

Putting is Griffin's forte. He totally got the concept that he was supposed to get the ball in the hole (which is pretty easy when you are teeing off only a foot away from it).

I think Carter missed this shot. He's a sore loser. As a matter of principle.

Overall, I believe Jeff was pleased with their progress. Personally, he double-bogeyed every hole, which explains the big 5 he's standing by. And to think when we met he had a 12 handicap.

In other notable events, I had my pacemaker replaced on October 23rd. I'm on the 8-year plan. We had to call in the grandparent reserves to help see us through.

Griffin and Peyton are not friends, as you can see, but it's a great shot of my mom, don't you think?

And this is a purely gratuitous picture of Peyton. Because I am about to post some Halloween pictures of the boys and I couldn't pull it together enough to find her a costume too. I was busy undergoing potentially life-saving surgery, remember?
Here is Buzz Lightyear getting his suit zipped up.

And Woody getting some help with his boots.

Voila. Carter remains in costume and character even 9-days later.
I think there was probably a better picture of the three of them together, but look! In this one I actually combed Peyton's hair. I'm such a good mom, caring for all the little details and such. She's going to be really proud years down the road when she uncovers all 40 of these 2007 Halloween pictures only to find she is not only sans costume, but her hair was only combed for one of them. This is what the rest of them looked like, poor thing.

Lastly, we bought a new car. New to us, that is.

It looks surprisingly like our old car, doesn't it? But the price was right.

Now if we could just get someone to come clean out our garage so we could get it in there.

See, we really have been busy. And now Jeff and I are off on a romantic excursion in the new car to go look at hardwood. Oh be still my beating heart.